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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31 Replies to “A Strange Kind of Serenity”

  1. Hi, Ana. My apologies! I didn’t see your post until today! I’m delighted you joined us and shared your thoughts on baking and perfection. Thanks also for your kind words about LAPC. I totally agree that the “cult” of perfection is dangerous and often self-defeating. It’s wonderful that you celebrate imperfection and feel joy at giving to others, instead of measuring the value of the item in monetary terms or measuring how close to the ideal you’ve come. Bravo! Have a great 2022.

    Liked by 2 people

    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

  2. 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 3 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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