A Strange Kind of Serenity

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I will never bake perfect looking gingerbread. But I can bake great tasting gingerbread and, in my book, that’s more than enough. In fact, that goes for all my baking – it’s something I love doing, I’m not at all bad at it, but my baking will always have a homemade look about it. I have neither the patience to strive for an army of identically looking gingerbread figurines, nor do I have the discipline to always stick to the recipe for all my baking. Since I do understand how it works, I have fun with it, I experiment and I enjoy the slightly different results I get. That very diversity and that imperfect homemade look are perhaps what makes the entire process just right… dare I say, my own kind of “perfect”?

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There is a special sort of serenity to be found in imperfection… or perhaps I should say, in accepting “perfection” as a personalized concept, which might translate into disturbing imperfection to an outsider. In my adamant strive for perfection – yes, I was raised and to a certain extent, born to be a perfectionist – not only have I put myself through hell, not only have I driven myself crazy trying to be the kind of “perfect” that was expected of me, but I have also inadvertently hurt others and deprived myself of many chances to be happy and enjoy my life. I eventually learned to accept reality for what it was – I wasn’t perfect. I could never be, not for everybody, not from all points of view… And I didn’t need to be,  not if the goal was to feel content and appreciate what I had and those important people who were in my life.

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Somehow December exacerbates the desperate need for perfection and instead of focusing on what matters, we focus our efforts on what’s expected – from us, and by us from others. Ironically, serenity suddenly becomes a foreign concept, an untouchable goal… that is, when we still remember it should be a goal. This is why I make a point of focusing on what I really need the holiday season to be for me, and not on how it’s expected of me to celebrate it or, even worse, on the expectations I’m expected to have.

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That’s why, for years now, aside from usual resources of serenity, every year in December I celebrate imperfection as a source of joy, a touch of character and personal charm. There’s not only strength, but also serenity to be found in it. I will bake imperfect looking goodies because I enjoy it, and not because I need to showcase yet another talent, be able to juggle everything and do everything perfectly. On that note, I won’t cut off my fingers if I try to wrap a present, but guess what! Just like my gingerbread, my gifts will never look like they were wrapped professionally, because gift wrapping is also something I love doing myself.

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So Christmas music blasting, I have a great time wrapping presents, the best I can. And since this year judgy impossible-to-please perfectionists are getting nothing from me, I know the thought and personal touches I’ve put in choosing those gifts will be appreciated. This way, when I tie a ribbon I can think of happy grateful smiles and worm moments of peaceful joy on Christmas morning. I can allow myself to reminisce and smile when thinking back of meaningful funny gift giving moments, of crazy ways my friends and I used to surprise each other when wrapping presents, back when we were teenagers.

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That childish joy in itself was part of the gift giving and receiving experience, and I regret those times I didn’t allow myself to express my happiness as a child, because I was taught the price tag was the only thing that mattered. I’m making up for such a mistake and warped upbringing as an adult; and I believe that Christmas is a perfect time to get in touch with that inner child, allowing small silly moments to become surprising sources of joy and pleasure.

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Thank you, Patti (Lens Artists Weekly Challenge – Serene) for reminding us to focus on serenity in the midst of holiday frenzy.  A big “thank you” and a warm hug to the Lens Artists ladies who inspire us on a weekly basis, as well as to all of you following/responding to their challenges. May you have a great New Year! Stay safe!

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25 Replies to “A Strange Kind of Serenity”

    1. Oh yes, taste over looks every time 😉 I’m always reminded of this when I walk by this tiny shop which always has incredible, irresistibly looking cakes on display. I gave it a try some years ago and everything tasted the same – like sweetened cardboard 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂
        yuck – sweetened cardboard – no bueno

        and sometimes with fruit it is the same way – those organic funky shaped fruits are tasty – or the not-so-red apple is crisp and packed with layers of flavor -whereas the perfect looking ones or brightly colored (often dyed) and shiny (wax) fruit do not have depth or flavor

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Beautiful thoughts, striving and realisations. 🙂 I live with a perfectionist who grew up on respecting only the price tag, while in my family it was only love, sagging cakes and clumsy wrapping attempts. I find it hard sometimes but he is starting to lean our way. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that’s the way to do it. 🙂
      Ignoring the price tag is among the easier things to do, as far as I’m concerned. Everything else is more difficult. Like I said, being a perfectionist comes naturally to me, so I do have to focus on not letting it control me, on not obsessively needing to do everything well. Sometimes it takes a lot of work 😀 . But I’m glad your perfectionist is also learning a better way to do and enjoy things – I’m sure you had something to do with it 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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