Happy New Year! I love this time of year. A fresh, new calendar feels so full possibilities, but also maybe a full of opportunities to try really hard and then fail. Or maybe try really hard for a little while and then say, “Trying is for suckers.” Once upon a two years ago, I tended to think the odds of failure made it not worth getting started. If I’d never reach the finish line, why start the race?
The answer came to me (partially) from an unlikely source: my husband’s Twitter bio. He wrote something about “striving for best-case imperfection” – which I thought didn’t make sense. Isn’t the best case…you know…perfection? When I asked him about it, he explained that since nothing could ever be perfect, he is always striving for the best possible outcome from a series of imperfect alternatives. In a twist that will surprise exactly no one, after a lifetime spent striving for the Right Thing in every situation, I’ve come to truly appreciate that there are no perfect outcomes -no real finish lines – just tiny, sometimes difficult, steps in the right direction.
In that spirit, I’m sharing this Imperfect Tool Box. These are things I’m using to move my life into the zone of “best case imperfection” – hopefully finding a better version of myself, but knowing that there will be a lot of failures along the way, and the best possible end result will simply be making more room to grow.
Of course, not all of these will resonate with you – our goals are as individualized as we are – but I hope you use them as inspiration to explore your own goals and find tools to help you get closer to them.
Clean Mama – I actually like cleaning – you probably wouldn’t guess that from looking at my house right now, but it’s true. The thing I like less is that if we don’t stick to a routine, cleaning can take up as much time as a part time job. Becky Rapinchuck, also known as Clean Mama, has developed a free and easy-to-follow plan for keeping your home clean and organized without spending a lot of time on it each day. I’ve used her plan loosely for years, especially when I’ve been overwhelmed after a house project and didn’t know where to start. This year, I explained the system to my kids (who are 8 and almost 11) so they know what to help out with each day. Most of her resources are free on her website and through her Instagram and Facebook accounts.
IHeart Organizing – This website has so many great ideas. I fully replicated her LEGO storage solution into our son’s room years ago and it’s still going strong today. She also has an Etsy shop for home and organization printables (I talk about her budget sheet below).
The Home Edit – I bought this beautiful organization book for my sister the same weekend that she dropped off a copy for me – so it was kind of like an organized version of The Gift of the Magi, except not at all. The photos are so lovely that it makes me want to color code everything, plus they offer genuinely useful and practical tips to keep things in order. Check out The Home Edit blog and Instagram account to see if it’s your style.
Yoga with Adriene – Moving in general is not my strong suit. I feel like my consciousness isn’t exactly lined up with my body, like when a little kid tries to fold paper in half, but both sides are a little…off. I’m sure you’ll understand why I always thought of workouts as something that other people did – people whose awareness had an appropriate relationship to their limbs. That was until I started doing yoga, the key for me is to avoid speed. I love going to a studio, but I’m better at sticking with a routine when I practice from our cozy living room. If you have the slightest inclination to try yoga, I highly recommend Yoga with Adriene, specifically one of her 30 day Challenges. I can’t tell you how much better I feel after I do them.
If yoga isn’t your thing, maybe spend some time researching on YouTube or social media a program or person that resonates with you. Two awesome people to check out: Missy Mom Fitness and Beth Tiedman.
Blue Apron – I wish I were good at meal prep, meal planning – all of it. But I’m just not. I’ve tried a bunch of different things over the years, and by far, we waste the least food when we’re subscribed to a meal kit delivery. Our favorite is Blue Apron and we’ve used them on and off for a few years. My kids have tried (and really like!) food I never would’ve thought to introduce. I know this isn’t for everyone, but if you really like to cook, but struggle with figuring out what and how much to make each night, this might be a good option for you.
Michael Symon’s Fix it With Food – My siblings have auto-immune diseases ranging from annoying to very serious. As a big Michael Symon fan, my brother got this book for each household in hopes that we could use it to improve our collective health. If you’re not familiar, Michael Symon is a chef (from Cleveland!) who, after learning that he had rheumatoid arthritis and discoid lupus, experimented with using food to treat his symptoms. When his symptoms decreased with the avoidance of certain foods, he compiled his favorite recipes into the book Fix it with Food. I’m particularly optimistic with this one because of his balanced approach. I knew it was going to be my kind of “diet” book when I read this in his introduction:
Nobody’s perfect, most of all me. I know that I’m not always going to avoid detrimental foods like that bowl of ice cream on a hot summer day, or a crock of creamy mac and cheese in winter (or that second glass of bourbon!). But knowing what foods cause issues – and having at your disposal a selection of delicious recipes that avoid those triggers – puts me (and you) in control and offers the best opportunity to live pain-free while still eating well.
Kids Eat In Color – I wish this resource existed when our boys were little and I felt like inserting nutrients into them was going to break my soul. Jennifer Anderson has a Master’s of Science in Public Health and is registered dietitian nutritionists – but more importantly, her approach for providing your kids with nutritious food is clear, informative, and achievable. I follow her on Instagram here.
Budget Sheet – I bought this budget printable on Etsy years ago and I think it was the best $3 I’ve ever spent. I used it religiously for years and then fell off the wagon once we’d reached our biggest financial goals (paying off student loans, mostly). I’m going to get back to it this year because we were paying for two iTunes subscriptions that we weren’t using at all. I was so annoyed with myself and I bet “The Man” was laughing all the way to the bank.
Dave Ramsey – I’ve never used Dave Ramsey’s system, but I know a lot of people really love it, so I thought it would be helpful to include.
Lynda.com has really high quality online video courses for a huge range of topics. Last year I used Lynda.com to learn how to use my DSLR camera and this year the plan is to take some photo editing courses. They have too many topics to list – ranging from accounting to music composition. There’s a monthly fee to access all of the courses, but a lot of library systems have accounts that allow you to access the site for free. For Clevelanders, you can find more information here. For those of you outside of Cleveland, check out your local library!
Creativebug* is another resource that I found through our library system (because I’m real into libraries). This is such an amazing way to learn crafting/maker techniques. This year I’m going to learn to sew – or at the very least learn how to thread a sewing machine. I also want to check out a similar site called Bluprint – but I want to extract every last ounce out of the library’s (free) resources first.
Again, I know everyone is trying to break into the Cleveland real estate market because of our amazing libraries, but even if you live elsewhere, I’m sure your library has some similar and amazing options.
Law of Attraction Planner – I keep talking about this planner to my family and friends, plus I shared about it on my Instagram stories, so I’m truly sorry if this is repetitious for some of you. It’s like when you fall in love and you can’t stop talking about it. That’s how I feel about this planner – full-on heart eyes. The vibe is slightly “woo-woo” (like me) – but even if that’s not your style, I feel like this is still such a good planner for so many reason. Mostly, it gives a clear and focused way to define your goals, and then helps you determine how to work toward those goals each day, week, and month. Then there are built in points of reflection to give you the opportunity to see where you are in relation to where you want to be and maybe think about what’s getting in your way.
No matter what your goals are or how much progress you make this year, cheers to you for making it to another decade. I hope this year is full of every good and beautifully imperfect thing. And just because I love it, here’s a New Year’s wish from Neil Gaiman:
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.
*The link for Creativebug is from the Geauga County Public Library, but since that is part of Clevenet, library cards for any of these libraries should work.
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