2020 is over. But the gift it gave us — COVID-19 — continues to impact millions around the world. Here in Ontario, we entered a province-wide lockdown on 26 December 2020. The City of Toronto has been locked down since 23 November 2020. Tough days are still ahead, but we will, together, weather this storm. I’m still hanging on to hope because, in the words of Desmond Tutu: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.” [Read more…] about 2020: Imperfectly Perfect
When I started my vacation on 10 March, it was just days before the world began to turn in on itself because of COVID-19. Nothing had really changed for me, though. I was still waking up around 3:30 or 4:00 to write while the rest of the world slept. Then, after a run, I’d return to the business of writing for a good chunk of the day before prepping dinner late in the afternoon. My evening ritual of either reading or watching reruns of Two and a Half Men rounded out the day. I had my groove on.
But as my vacation transitioned to an involuntary leave of absence and then a layoff, there was a shift. Since I had the condo to myself, I started going to bed later, which meant getting up later. Still writing in the morning, I’d unexpectedly become an early afternoon runner (lesson learned: not my greatest time to run). Something else was at play, too. My body was adjusting to not zipping through time zones. I had lost my rhythm, fell out of my groove. [Read more…] about How I Lost and Found My Groove
This week marks an important milestone for me because two years ago, on 17 January 2020, I stopped drinking. Cold turkey. No weaning myself off it. No crisis forcing me to. Just a desire to change my life.
Then, as now, choosing sobriety is a part of my journey to become the best version of myself. In her book, The Wisdom of Sundays, Oprah Winfrey writes: “All of us are seeking the same thing. We share the desire to fulfill the highest, truest expression of ourselves as human beings.”1 That’s why I’m choosing to stay sober. I want to live my best life. [Read more…] about Writing Sober: Two Years On
Sometimes in life there are things beyond your control. You have to learn to roll with the punches. And that’s not always easy.
I know. I’m in a kind of precarious situation at the moment when it comes to my health. I’ve been in my doctor’s office three times since 6 August — first to discuss the symptoms that presented, then to follow up on each round of testing and decide the next course of action. There’s still no ‘clear’ indication of what’s happening or why. So, I wait. Wait for the next test, scheduled for next week, and then I’ll wait for those results. Waiting is the worst because, when I’m stuck inside my head, I imagine the worst of all scenarios. What if it’s this? What if it’s that? How will I react to whatever it is? Because maybe, after all is said and done, it’ll be nothing.
Still, I want to know what I’m dealing with, no matter what it is. The first diagnosis and course of treatment seemed to ‘solve’ one issue, then unearth another. What I love about technology is how it’s made accessing my healthcare reports easier. Through the Patient Portal, I can see when my results come in and my doctor’s instructions, like File or Contact Patient. I made the mistake on the weekend of checking to see if the latest round of test results were in. They were, but my doctor was on vacation, so I didn’t know if there was an ‘urgency’ — like the last time — for us to discuss them.
Returning from my doctor’s appointment yesterday, I know that it’s all beyond my control. Knowing that doesn’t stop me from brooding over what’s happening. I try to stay focused, but I know my productivity has taken a hit. Despite everything that’s happening, I’m trying to roll with the punches … take it all day by day.
But there’s a lesson in every situation. My takeaway is this: be sure that, wherever we are on our life journey, that we’re doing what we love. Now is the time to do it, because if we keep putting it off, we’ll never achieve the thing we feel we must do. We’ll never — and I love how Oprah Winfrey puts it — “[…] fulfill the highest, truest expression of ourselves as human beings.”1
Now is the Time
Yes, now is the time, if you haven’t already, to strike out. Don’t wait until tomorrow to start training for that half-marathon. Don’t wait until you retire to write the book you’ve always felt was within you. Don’t wait until the beginning of the month to start that diet you’ve been talking about since 2016. Whatever you want to do, whatever you feel you can do … begin it. Now.
Let me give you an example of what can happen if you decide to wait. My father worked hard to provide for his family. It wasn’t until I was an adult, living on my own, that I understood the cost of raising a family, of living in this world (and that money didn’t grow on trees). We weren’t rich, we weren’t poor, but we never wanted for anything. We had the opportunity to travel — not extensively or luxuriously — but enough to not feel sheltered or uncultured. My father loved to travel and play golf. As his retirement neared, he said that travelling and playing golf would fill his days. A year and a half into his retirement (he was fifty-five when he retired), he was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer and given about six months to live. He fought, fought hard to live … to travel, play golf, and do what he loved. My father passed away at age fifty-eight, eighteen months after his diagnosis.
Strike Out Now
Yes, strike out now … just because you can, and that can yield fantastic results. Let me give you an example. At the beginning of 2018, I didn’t make any resolutions. I haven’t done that for over a decade. On 1 January, I woke up sick — sore throat, nasal congestion, and upset stomach. The cold lasted for about two weeks. Tired, feeling crappy and unusually irritable, I decided on 17 January that I was done with alcohol. No more drinking (I didn’t drink much, anyway). No more cooking with alcohol. My goal was to quit cold turkey. And I’ve been sober for more than 223 days. Together with running and paying closer attention to what I eat, I’ve lost twenty pounds. My energy level is up. I’m sleeping better. But I didn’t wait for the beginning of the next week or month to go sober. I started that day, a Wednesday, and didn’t look back.
Yes, I can’t stress it enough. Now is the time to begin. Do it. Now!
Earlier this month, I celebrated my 45th birthday. No fanfare. No outlandish party. No extravagant presents. Just a quiet day that started like most with a run, and then time writing and editing. It ended like most days, too, with a home-cooked meal and a relaxing evening at home. Perfection!
As perfect as it was, it got me thinking … am I too much of a perfectionist? The expectations I’ve set for myself — in almost everything I do — are high. Unbelievably so. And when I fail … Lord, have mercy, you don’t want to be in my sights. Because I’m angry at myself for missing the mark, and that doesn’t make me nice to be around.
Is Imperfection All the Rage?
For some reason, I’ve come across lately a lot of writing on the idea of giving yourself over to imperfection. (Is that life speaking to me and am I willing to listen?) The concept is simple: that being imperfect can help you achieve your goals more than being perfect. James Clear explores this idea in his article, “Why Trying to Be Perfect Won’t Help You Achieve Your Goals (And What Will),” as does Ray Dalio in his book, Principles.
Letting go of my need to be perfect all the time sounds great in theory. Translating it into action is something else altogether. I get the point so many are trying to make. When we show up to practice our craft, the repetition of the habit will help us to hone our skills, learn from our mistakes and become better at what we do. That’s why I write every day. But sometimes we spend so much time trying to perfect one thing that we ‘stall.’ We really don’t move forward. As a writer, I don’t want to spend my life trying to write one perfect book when I could, hopefully, write many. And then my goal would be to make each book better than the one that came before it.
Here’s where I struggle with being imperfect. As a self-published writer, the idea of imperfection doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not naïve. My writing won’t appeal to everyone. And as artists, no matter how good we think something we created is, haters are still gonna hate. But in an already crowded and competitive field, my books are my brand. If I want to build an audience and a solid fan base, I know my books need to be ‘perfect.’ That’s why I’ve learned the importance of hiring a professional editor, proofreader, book cover designer, and formatter. Who wants to read something that comes across as a first draft that’s riddled with spelling and grammatical errors? Or where there are problems with character and plot development, continuity or story arc? So, as an indie author I do — unapologetically — aim for perfection.
But in other areas of my life, I am trying to let go of my need for perfection. Like running. There are days when I can run 10k at a pace of 5:02 per kilometre. Other days, it feels like a struggle and my pace, at 5:28 per kilometre, isn’t anything to brag about. I remind myself that it’s not a competition, which isn’t always easy when other runners speed past me on the trail. But I’ve shown up again, remaining committed to living a healthy and active life. In my interactions with my work colleagues, I’m relearning not to expect from others what I expect from myself. It’s not fair. I remind myself of the old saying I heard so often during my youth: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
The biggest lesson that’s come out of this idea of not being perfect is this: I’ve accepted that it’s okay for me to not be able to do everything I set out to do well. There are areas in my life when I excel (strengths) and others where I don’t (weaknesses). I’ve learned — and am still learning — that it’s okay to ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean I’m weak. It means that there are people who have the skills to do well the things I’m not so good at. Why not ask for their help? No doubt, I’ll save myself a lot of time and frustration.
Letting go of perfection is a struggle because it means recognizing my limits, which can be extremely uncomfortable. It’s a journey that I’m taking day by day. It’s also about accepting who I am, as I am, imperfections and all.
As we navigate through life, doing what we love or are called to do, the most important thing we can do is be ourselves. And, to me, that looks like perfect imperfection.
Are you a perfectionist? Or are you striving for imperfection? Do you believe being imperfect could help you achieve your goals? Let me know in the comments section below.