A less than perfect day

29 October 2009
It doesn't take much, just one good night's sleep and I'm ready to take on the world again. Thank you for your good wishes and prayers for Hanno, we both appreciate them. We'll go in later this morning and be home late this afternoon; no doubt there will be news to write about tomorrow.

A recent shared lunch at the Centre I work at.

But today I want to talk about perfection. I don't talk about it much, mainly because I don't believe many things are perfect, I rarely seek perfection and I tend to feel a bit uneasy when things look too good. I prefer to live in a slightly wobbly, less than perfect world. It suits my nature, I don't have to constantly measure myself against some "perfect" ideal and I learn so much when I make mistakes. Don't mistake perfection for happiness, they are two entirely different things.

If you were to ask me how I discovered how to do what I do I would probably tell you that my mistakes have taught me well. My mentors are books and the fading memories of the many things my mother and grandmother taught me. I also have the remarkable benefit of having grown up in a time when people did for themselves. But the mistakes I made along the way have taught me things I will never forget. When I first left home I tried to forget what I knew because I wanted to be modern, eat convenience foods and live more outside my home than in it. When I reversed that trend I found I still remembered much of what I was taught and saw but still, my main teacher were the mistakes I made.

Even with fresh seeds, not all seeds will germinate.

There is nothing better for making you remember a sequence, a recipe, a method, than putting time into something and then realising you have to start again. A mistake, that perfect teacher, makes you undo stitches, give food to the chooks and make a skirt into an apron, all because you did something wrong. But do you ever make that same mistake again - I don't, I learn from what I did wrong and redoing it cements it into my brain.

It doesn't have to match. Our old couch sits happily beside our new couch.

If you're starting off with knitting, sewing, crochet, soap making, homemaking or marriage, be kind to yourself when you make a mistake. See it as a gift. You won't waste too much of your project if you unpick and redo, and the process of doing it will be your teacher. Don't look for perfection, except if you are seeking a warm sunny day, a five out of five nest of new hatchlings, or the first glimpse of your new baby. They will all be perfect, most other things rarely are.

I applaud you if you set delicious meals on the table every night, if you never drop a stitch, or if you produce batch upon batch of perfect soap. But when you do make a mistake, don't beat yourself up about it. Be kind to yourself, let yourself enjoy all this life has to give you - even the mistakes. See a mistake for what it is - an opportunity to teach yourself. I remember the first time I tried to knit a headband. I unpicked that thing about 10 times before I got the tension and size right, and then it turned into a hat! But I learnt so much from that hat. It still shines as a bright beacon for me because it taught me not only how to knit hats and headbands, it taught me that wasting time on perfection sometimes gets in the way of what I want and need.

My own less than perfect day today will include taking my husband in for surgery, knitting, thinking about whether to replace a broken dishwasher, cooking, updating my diary and mapping out what I'm doing from now till Christmas, including deadlines (I really don't want to do that) and reading. There will be parts of today I don't like but overall it is a day just like all others to be mined for all the enjoyment I can find in it.

I wonder what you're doing on this less than perfect day.


  1. This is an excellent post for me. My mother raised me to always make sure I looked perfect, my house looked perfect, my food tasted perfect, and etc. etc. It's still something I'm learning to let go, because I understand now that no matter what, you can't have everything perfect. It's expensive, and ever so wasteful. I love going back to the simple things like rain on a picnic, dirt in the garden, and my DH forgetting to hang up his coveralls. *smiles* Thanks for this reminder.
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  2. Rhonda,

    Great post, as always.

    I think the word "perfect" should removed from the English language, as there is no such thing. It seems silly to strive for something that doesn't exist.

    Best Wishes to Hanno for a speedy recovery.

  3. Hope all goes well with Hanno's surgery and I am there with you in spirit while you wait. Among my many labels, perfectionist does not appear. I have had a lot of practice redoing things. It used to embarass me but time and getting a little older has helped me overcome that. Now, I just concentrate on the task at hand and take things as they come.

  4. My thoughts are with you and Hanno today.

    Your post is very timely so I thank you for insight.

  5. I should have added that I am finally convincing my mother that, "Done is better than perfect". A life time of do it my way or no way, or a job worth doing has to be done well (insert perfect) have inflicted a life time of misery on more than one person. How well I remember fodling a man's singlet for four hours until it was perfect. What a waste.

    If things are done and everyone is happy, safe and well then done is definitely better than perfect.

  6. Hi Rhonda, I only came across your post yesterday and, as a young homemaker, wife and mother-to-be, your blogs warmed me more than I can say. (Thanks also to the rest of your community for thier posts!)
    All the best with the hospital visit today...

  7. I'm a perfectionist and I hate it!!!

    So much of my life has been wasted by trying to be perfect, opportunities have been missed because I've not taken them up for fear of not being perfect, or even good enough. My self esteem is low because of a life time of feeling like a failure when I've been trying to reach the unattainable level of perfection. Even now when I know in my head that perfect is an illusion and not really reality, my ingrained beliefs are hard to overcome, it's a constant battle and oh so tiring.

    thanks for this post Rhonda
    cheers Kate

  8. What a wonderful and true post. We certainly live in a less than perfect world, don't we. I prefer to live day to day trying to be the best that I can be, knowing that I am not perfect and will, indeed, make mistakes along the way. Hopefully, like you, I will learn from those mistakes and do better the next time around. Today, I am making pumpkin butter to give to some friends who helped me out when I was ill. I will muddle through some ironing, do my daily chores, pet the dog, fix dinner and enjoy my husbands company this evening. Hope all goes well with Hanno.

  9. What an imperfectly perfect post! :-) Hello Rhonda, I hope that today goes as smoothly as possible. On this less than perfect day I am going to sort a little more of our moved shop contents and not set impossibly high standards for myself and everyone else.
    Best wishes to Hanno from all of us here and pats to the lovely Alice.

  10. Rhonda,
    This post really hits home to me. I have been married 10 years and have 2 kids (3yrs and 7mos). I have very recently started coming to the realization that I am only really happy when I let perfection go and accept what is....and believe it or not I am so much more productive that way. I just finished my first dishcloth and had to teach myself to purl in order to do it. Before I got very far I told myself I am going to keep going even if it isn't "right" or gets frustrating. You can see mid dishcloth where I finally "got it". I don't mind all the "messy" sitiches at first... because I actually finished the cloth and am now working on more that will look much nicer. I am glad to have learned this when my kids are young. Andrea

  11. I have prayed for you and Hanno today. I thank you for being so encouraging and for setting up the wonderful forum. You asked what we are doing today - I am happily crocheting the flower wash pads that someone gave directions for on the forum, these are a Christmas gift for my daughter. It was a little slow going at first (yes, mistakes and undoing) but what a joy to create a little something!

    May Hanno recover quickly!

  12. Rhonda, it's still Wednesday here in Holland, I'm sitting in my pj's typing this reaction ;).
    I hope all goes well with Hanno's operation.


  13. Thanks for this friendly approach to being imperfect. It was soothing for me to read it. Right now anxiety is creeping upon me now as Christmas is coming as I try to have everything perfect around me and end up exhausted. Have you any thoughts about that for me to meditate over?

  14. I hope Hanno's surgery went well and he is doing okay.

    I am watching it snow which it has been doing since sometime last night. Right now they are saying we are under snow warning until 6 am Friday. I have taken advantage of it. Last night I made sticky caramel rolls and chili getting ready for the snow. I figured my husband wouldn't go to work and I was right. Today, I shrink wrapped my soap which had been collecting, made ice cream and butter. I will knit on my granddaughter's sweater tonight. Tomorrow I am going to make some kaiser rolls and pumpkin spice soap. I love the snow and winter because it frees me from my garden and gives me time to work on other things that I love to do that don't always get done in the summer.

    In regards to being perfect, I used to not be able to stand it if my house was not just so and the dishes were washed and put away as soon as the meal was finished. As I have gotten older, my house doesn't bother me as much, but I still have a few things that I can't let go, but I am working on it.

    Thanks, I love reading you every day.


  15. Well I hope that Hanno's surgery is as near to perfect as possible and everything goes well.

  16. Good morning Rhonda! I really needed to hear about the lack of perfection today. My partner was flown home yesterday needing dental surgery, my son kicked and wrestled with sleep in our bed, and the soon-to-be-born bub firmly planted her foot in what I used to reserve as the spot for my sternam at about 2am this morning. My sleep has been less than perfect, but was finished in my son's bed. I woke up to a dog who isn't all that happy. So me and the pooch have had a cuddle out the back, I'm drinking a coffee and starting to feel like this was the perfect day to read about how nothing, indeed, absolutely nothing, is perfect. And how fantastic that is.

    I'll be thinking of you and your dear Hanno in the surgery today, my best wishes are with you, and that as our Pop says, they can fix what ever is needed, because otherwise "we might have to rub you out and start again"...

  17. Your statement is a "keeper" ...going to note in my journal, with your name beside it: "Don't mistake perfection for happiness; they are two entirely different things."

    Growing up with a dad who could not be pleased, somehow I learned that the criticism was less if I never quite was finished with a project. Well, guess what? NOW I struggle so terribly with procrastination...unbelieveable to me even at times!! But you cannot blame your parents once you are an adult...but I am still struggling with this and admire those who are so much better organized. I am TRYING to get better organized and in spots in the house, it is better...but so far yet to go. Will I live long enough to get there? I wonder sometimes!!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I enjoy it much.

  18. Rhonda,

    My sister just left after fixing my knitting mistakes AGAIN. I took a class last spring and still have trouble knitting a simple dishcloth. I think if I were younger, I would quit, give up, and never try to knit again.Because I am older and wiser I know that eventually I will catch on and the knitting drama will be behind me. I want to make my own socks. We'll see.

    Kathie in SC

  19. Hello Rhonda Jean

    Best wishes to Hanno for his op and a speedy, hopefully pain free, recovery. He looks like a pretty fit old bugger so he should be right!

    My 'perfect' will always be different to someone elses. my perfect weather - sunny & 23C; perfect shoes - don't give me blisters on the first day; perfect meal - Mum's roast lamb & veggies; perfect Christmas - family all together; perfect Sunday - home all day pottering (doesn't matter about the weather).

    Cheers - Joolz

  20. Hi there!
    Just my two cents on probably the least of your worries today, but I vote for not replacing the dishwasher. I use mine to store kitchen linens, tupperware, aluminum foil and parchment paper!
    Rhonda Jean, I have learned so many things from your wonderful blog - I am grateful every day for you!

  21. Hi Rhonda, Hope Hannos surgery goes well today and he recovers quickly. I also struggle with perfection, and it is the biggest cause of my prcrastination, I put things off until they can be "done perfectly" which of course isn't possible. Thanks for the post, gives me lots to think about. Regards, Julia in Mackay

  22. Very timely post for me. Yesterday I ran out the door at 6.30pm, leaving a hasty dinner in the oven in charge of DH, and the results were less than perfect! burnt buns and uncooked pizza. However I took my son to a stories night at his school and he really enjoyed that. It's hard to find the joy sometimes in mistakes. So today I am letting go of: 1. the bun recipe - it never did work properly! 2. some self imposed work which I am never going to get around to.
    And aim to do one thing at a time... LOL to all those perfectionists out there.

  23. Would you believe I was about to type that this was a *perfect* post for me today? Apt would be a better description!
    Wonderful post, perhaps my favorite post of all!

  24. I have read your post and though I am trying knitting and stockpiling I am a new mother at the age of 49 with a troubled teen of 15 and I must admit I am struggling big time. Reported missing to the police and she is brought home at 4 in the morning, collecting her from A & E from being blind drunk and passed out on the pavement, arrested for carrying knives ( all the knives from out kitchen drawer.) My relationship with Himself is good but his daughter .......... I know it is a different time from when I was born but .....


  25. great post... perfect does not mean happiness... so true! By the way, what are chooks?

  26. In my minds eye I can see you sitting next to Hanno's bed frantically knitting away in nervous energy. It's no fun for you either is it? Best wishes to you both.

  27. I was told by my counselor YEARS ago that I needed to get rid of my "perfection". I was completely frozen in the midst of doing anything if what I was doing became marred in some way. I never finished anything!
    So I slowly but surely got rid of my belief that everything had to be perfect. Now, I even go so far as to point out (to my kids especially) where mistakes where made...after they all compliment me on a job well done!

  28. What a beautiful reminder, life can bring enough challenges without expectations of perfection from ourselves and other. Some of our favorite meals have come from less than perfectly followed recipes!
    Blessings to Hanno, you & the Dr's performing surgery.

  29. perfection is something I struggle with daily. Growing up my mother was horribly OCD and it's passed on to me. It's something I have to work on multiple times a day. Sometimes I have to stop, slow down, breathe and smell the flowers.
    This post is very inspirational in that aspect.

    Keeping you and your dear hubby in my prayers for a smooth surgery and a speedy recovery!

  30. Winston Churchill said, “They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds.”
    How true! Good post Rhonda :D

  31. Wishing Hanno the very best. :D


  32. Great timing, Rhonda - I've just pulled my first real bread disaster out of the oven. While I wont try that recipe again all is not lost. The crust is very nice and I'll use the stodgy innards in some sort of dish tomorrow (maybe a bread style sauce for the smoked fish pie).

    What a beautiful cushion you have on the red sofa. You've tied the two sofas together with simple accessories. A comfy place for Hanno to recooperate.

    I hope all went okay for Hanno today, and that he heals well.

    Michelle in Wellington

  33. Hah! Taking the stitch-ripper to the bed throw I started to assemble the other day (remembering that two different weights of fabric WILL make the lighter one pucker . . . Then re-upholstering an old footstool.

    Hoping that Hanno is soon back to speed on things following his operation.

  34. I hope Hanno's surgery goes well and he makes a speedy recovery.

    And, indeed sometimes things have to be "good enough." Better well-done and finished, then perpetually unfinished in a search for perfectionism!

    Best wishes,

    Anna Marie

  35. Hi Rhonda
    I hope Hanno does well in his operation today. It will be good to get past today and then look forward to his recovery. Your gorgeous calm peaceful home looks the perfect place for recuperation.

    I loved your post today, because I am always so hard on myself, and constantly mentally beat myself up when I don't manage to keep the house looking perfect or remember to bake that cake, when I am chasing round after my two young children and less than tidy hubby. Your posts never fail but to give me a nice warm feeling like a kind hug from my mum when I am feeling sad xxx

    Love and hugs

  36. It's really an excellent post!.. Blessings to Hanno, you & the Dr's performing surgery...Best Wishes to Hanno for a speedy recovery.

  37. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Hanno!

    blessings, Ellen

  38. Best wishes to Hanno for a speedy recovery!

    And a note for Hellen Sigurbjörg: imagine that first Christmas without the chocolate-box halo. An unwed girl goes into labour at the end of a long journey, surrounded by strangers (apart from her fiance). The place she gives birth in is an animal shed. Just when she's got the baby out of the muck by putting him in the manger, and settled down for a proper sleep, a bunch of disreputable smelly shepherds turn up, asking to see the baby! Apart from the fact that neither mother nor baby died, it's hard to think of a less perfect day for poor Mary. Perhaps our Christmases can be a little imperfect too.

  39. Great post and very true... all of it, and thank goodness I've never been a perfectionist. Just as in my school reports from oh so long ago... I could do better! Hope your husband is doing well.

  40. This post reminds me of Byron Katie's message: Imperfectness and problemic situations enrich your life, so welcome them, learn from them, instead of fight them.

    Thanks for reminding us!

  41. Prayer are with you and Hanno while he is recovering. I've learned so much from you, its a blessing!
    That living in todays world sometimes is not so good and living like they did many years ago, is a good thing!
    Love your blog!

  42. Love this post, and your attitude towards perfection! Don't know if you are familiar with FlyLady or not, but she has a saying I've grown to really appreciate: "Housework done incorrectly still blesses my family."

    My mom was also the perfectionist type (as I tend to be), and thoroughly instilled in me that it "has to be done right". So many times that has caused me to put off doing anything, for fear of doing it wrong. I'm glad to finally be moving past this somewhat, in my 30's now.

  43. This was a good subject to bring up. As several people have said the desire to be perfect often leads to procrastination. And it leads to disappointment with life not appreciating what we do have.

  44. What a wonderful, thoughtful post. And good advice, too. Wasn't it during the sixties that we were told we could have it all? So many of us tried and ended up with less than even good in most areas. I've thoroughly enjoyed staying home for over twenty years now, and I don't even pretend to do things perfectly, but I do have fun and we have a happy home. Thank you for all your insight and encouragement.

  45. Hi, Rhonda,

    I just wanted to say that I made my first batch of soap yesterday. It took far longer than I expected but I have lots of lumps of soap sitting on the shelf to harden up. It might not be perfect, but to me it looks wonderful. Thank you for inspiring me.
    Hope all went well today.


  46. My 96 year old Granny makes a quilt a week and I have been selling them on my blog. I didn't try- people just wanted them. My point to this story is Marlene at stitchinbythelake.blogspot.com wrote about the PERFECT quilt that she bought from my Granny. I have it posted on my sidebar. If you get a chance, go read it. It says what you are saying. Perfect can mean so many different things.

  47. A way to rid of the idea of perfection in one's life is to have illness. When you're not healthy there's no room for such thinking. You have to learn to let go BIG time, or you'll go crazy. It's important to learn to submit to things that are out of our control, no matter what they are.

    As hard as it's been, I feel wiser for it and I've learned through life's difficulties that so much really doesn't matter like I thought it did.

    Just enjoy each day as you have it, because it can all be taken away.

    Best wishes to Hanno.


  48. Since my baby girl was born a year ago, I've had to learn to let a lot of things go. The house is never perfect--there are toys everywhere and sometimes if she's had a fussy day dinner is thrown together at the last minute. But I wouldn't trade a minute of snuggle and playing with my little girl for trying to get things "perfect." She'll only be this little once, and she needs time with her parents more than we need everything to be just so. I was fortunate to have some wise friends point this out to me when she was a newborn, and I've held on to it.

  49. Rhis is such a great post/reminder - that perfection is only as good as you want it to be for yourself, then all is perfect! I wish your husband a speedy recovery!

  50. Thank you so much for this post! Right now, we are settling into a routine with foster children who have only been here a week, and it is all too easy to feel frustrated with them and myself when things aren't "perfect." But, what we look for instead is learning, improving, and moving forward. Please feel free to stop by my blog sometime! http://ryewolffarm.terapad.com


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