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Archive for February 5th, 2012

Incomplete perfection

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

The easiest way to do art is to dispense with success and failure altogether and just get on with it.
— Stephen Nachmanovitch, from the book Free Play (The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts)

I’m a messy housekeeper. Some things I’ve historically organized better, but the tops of my tables have always been imperfect. I remember things when I see them out there… Can you relate?

For instance, Friday on our way to sing a private concert, a button from my magenta dress coat decided to pop off. I put the button on the kitchen table to remind me to fix it. The table gets full of reminders.

With this messy surface style, I somehow thought I was airy-fairy about cleaning & tidying. However a few months back, at age 53, I learned… Sometimes I’m perfectionist.

Pick Your Battles Well
I know I’m particular about my artwork when it goes in public. I’m OK with hiccups in knitting socks for me, but not for display. This makes sense. I didn’t imagine I was fussy in other ways.

BUT: this October I listened to an audio from Cairene MacDonald of ThirdHandWorks.com wherein she talks about “Making Peace with Maintenance.” Her talk truly has changed things for me.

She explains that maintenance naturally continues and thus can’t be finished for long. Dishes, she says, can be done for now. However, there will be more “…so long as you continue to eat.” So logical, but a totally new idea to me.

She also says that when we get behind on maintenance, we then end up with a project to get it back in order.

Projects vs. Maintenance
If we get used to falling behind and then push hard to “catch up once and for all…,” then we may get good at projects rather than maintenance. We repeat the cycle. I’m definitely in the project habit.

That’s me in a nutshell. I now bake for part of my living. By definition, this creates dirty dishes.

I don’t like doing dishes (though our 1/2 sized dishwasher is wonderful). I was always bummed at all those dishes.

A New Approach
I decided to practice imperfection, to “just get on with it.” I’d start to load some dishes but not expect to finish filling the washer.

The odd part? I would be more likely start loading dishes if I didn’t feel required to get the washer running. And once started, I almost always get to the washer-starting goal.

It’s hard to imagine perfectionism with dishwasher loading, but it appears I had that attitude.

A New Reality
The kitchen counter is cleaner, since I listened to Ms MacDonald. I wonder what else can get done more if I let go of my own expectations?

Do you also face this? Have you any hints?

Day 2 of 21:
My 3 New Gratitudes for Today

  • A successful 1st try baking crackers with Sorghum flour
  • A button box, full of history, which brings me joy
  • An 8 yr old “Fairy Goddaughter” who feels I’m a safe source of answers, & who requests time with me.