Cheese board grapes dried fruit hors d'ouvres

Forget About Perfect Cheese Boards

I seriously just read the headline of a suggested post entitled “How to Assemble the Perfect Fall Cheese Board” and I honestly think I broke my eyeballs rolling them so hard. Clearly my blog interests are varied and strange, and I do love me some cheese, but that aggregator has no idea who I really am. My interest in assembling the perfect fall cheeseboard begins at cheese and ends with consuming the aforementioned cheese.

I take this as indication that my recent attempt to let go of such things, especially if the word perfect is anywhere near it, is making progress. It’s hard for me to let go of that, especially when I’ve been part of the relentless pursuit of perfection for far too long. I’ve throttled back a ton little and started to reorient my perspective. This has been met with great appreciation from Hubs and most likely Miss O if she knew what was really going on when Mommy says “let’s make something happen in here!

I’ve been practicing how to look at Pinterest solely for inspiration and not as a metric for how little I’ve accomplished in life or how much less I have than everyone else. I’ve treated it as a litmus for where my personal achievement and well-being are for far too long. I have also gleaned billions of ideas, projects, to-dos and tricks off of it and I will forever be grateful it exists, so this is in no way a rant on the addictive nature of Pinterest. That may come some other time…

What I have slowly come to realize is that I have been holding myself to a completely unreasonable standard and how truly liberating it is to just not give a flying fig about a few things. The letting go has been challenging and far slower than I expected, but the process has been cathartic and completely freeing. Here are the highlights:

Cleaning and purging what I don’t love

This has been a huge undertaking and it’s been so valuable on so many levels. It started with my office/craft room redo and has become a chance to look back on the almost two years we’ve been in this house and get brutal about what’s in it. We have been hanging on to so many things “just in case” for several years and a few moves. It’s time to let them come out of their boxes and live life somewhere else. Our first ever yard sale we made $500 and turned a lot of things I can’t even remember to name into a new big girl room for Miss O, surely there’s some fun money for Mommy in there, too.

Yard Sale

Organization is crucial. That’s only half our front yard and half of what we could have sold.

Finding a personal style that I like

I purge my wardrobe every few years and each time I find it incredibly emotional. I usually only part with two or three pieces, but I have never not cried or wondered what the hell I was thinking about at least one piece in there. I have wished I bought multiples of things and I have created new outfits out of what I have. I think the best part of the experience is honing my personal style, which I never really thought I had. As I get older and my situation settles more, I realize I can get away with having less and doing more with it. As I get more familiar with each piece, I have come to build a look book in my head and can now play around with different combinations making getting dressed in the dark at 5:30 AM a whole lot easier. It also makes me feel more confident and comfortable in my own skin, which is worth a thousand tossed former favorites.

Finding a home style that works with my space

I used to lust after the gorgeous homes in Southern Living and I still do. Pinterest strikes again on this one and I have more than one board devoted to houses, renovation ideas, and home décor. It’s something I’ve slways loved to play with. I have always been a neat person, so those perfectly staged homes have always resonated with me. They have also been the bane of my existence since adding Hubs to my living space and now Miss O. Neither one of them runs on the same wavelength when it comes to living in what one of my exes referred to as a “show home.” It doesn’t need to be pristine, but it does need to be neat. I’ve learned that “lived-in” works, too. Yep, I have a kid and she’s got a Lego habit. You’ll know that the first step you take in our house. They’re not spread about like little mines everywhere, but the 2-foot tower on the coffee table will clue you in pretty fast. That was never in any show home photo I’ve ever seen, but it’s pretty great to see what she’ll come up with and it always live son the table for the week. Who needs a candle centerpiece that never changes when I have constantly changing Lego sculptures on display?

Lego Sculpture

One of many in the rotating exhibition that is our coffee table.

Committing to dedicated time to complete the projects I want to complete

I face choices every day and one of those is how to spend my time when I’m alone. Most of that time gets funneled into making something cleaner, neater or over the top. Often it means a new project gets added into the mix of things I have waiting for me to devote any kind of time to. Recently I’ve started booking appointments with myself to spend time on things that are honestly just for me, like the scrapbook that I put so much time into when I was pregnant and stops at the day we came home form the hospital. Very telling, indeed. It’s been immensely helpful to see the appointment pop up on my calendar and also get a little buzz from my phone saying “hey, go play now!” Things are exactly whipping along, but I get to do them again and incremental progress is still progress.

Finding ways to involve my family

This one is a hard one for me. I am very much an extremist and very particular in how I like things done. Even letting Hubs vacuum is a lesson in restraint for me so I don’t micromanage his entire process. I’m still working on that one. Last weekend I was very clear about how we needed to clean the house and this was a job for all of us. I assigned them both “jobs” and I swear that’s the fastest and cleanest this house has been in months. Miss O loves to have jobs and be a part of whatever we’re doing, so she gets to pick up her toys and dust. She LOVES it. You can really only get about 30 minutes out of her, but we live in a small house, so that’s a pretty quality 30 minutes. Bonus: I get to spend time with her because she likes to help me, so we do it together and you can be pretty silly when you’re dusting, especially if you put some music on… It’s not white glove passable, but you won’t trip over anything for a few days and it smells clean, so that’s pretty good these days. Good thing the Queen’s not visiting anytime soon.

Embracing “Good enough”

I can spend hours on Pinterest marveling at all the awesome talent so many people have and I have pinned several ideas that I do not have a snowball’s chance of actually pulling off. I am not a professional cake decorator, so I know my cupcakes look more DIY than I’d like them to. But I realize now the preschoolers in Miss O’s class could care less. All they see is a cupcake and if it’s really amazing, it’ll have sprinkles on it. I choose to bake my own, because I like to bake and a couple of Miss O’s classmates are vegan, so I throw my energy (so little required, truly) and I whip up a batch so everyone can have the same thing. It makes me feel good and Miss O loves that Mommy makes cupcakes that her whole class can eat. For Halloween last year I took a sharpie and drew basic jack-o-lantern faces on some clementines and sent enough for her classmates. They LOVED them and seriously it took maybe 20 minutes while I was watching a show with Hubs. Good enough and I’ll be doing it again this year.

Halloween Clementines

Understanding that I may be the only one who cares about a certain thing

Much like my choice to make vegan cupcakes for Miss O’s class, I chose to care about things that I know other people don’t. I’m probably one of the few parents that do. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that I don’t get in a huff anymore when I hear or see things that aren’t aligned with what I care about. I may say something to encourage others to do the same, but I’m not going to push and I’m certainly not going to tear my hair out over getting someone on board for something they don’t believe in, unless someone is in danger or in direct violation of a policy in place for someone’s welfare (the sign says peanut free for a reason, people). I’ve spend too much time and energy on recruiting for my team and not enough time realizing that there’s no team. If it makes me happy, I’ll keep doing it. If it doesn’t, I need to let it go.

And so we come back to that cheese board. Twenty-something me would’ve been all over that thing, decorative sprigs of herbs and all. People would never question my background as an event & meeting planner. Now we’re lucky if we have two different cheeses when folks come over, let alone crackers, and if they’re on a pretty platter, that time blocking thing must really be working out. I’ve learned that no one who really matters is judging my cheese or my board.

Well, if they’re friends of mine, they probably are, but they love me anyway.

Featured image photo credit: scribbletaylor via Creative Commons

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