Different Doesn’t Mean “Bad”

Everything about this year has been “different”. My kids remind me of this last least once day day. Usually in the form of a series of groans and grumbles followed by “But everything is just so . . . different”, where the word different is most definitely being used as a synonym for “bad”.

Yesterday, as both kids participated in virtual school, I decorated the house for Christmas. When they came down the stairs for their lunch break both kids were at first filled with excitement with their first real signs of Christmas.

It took a few minutes.

And then I heard it.

“Christmas is going to be so different this year”.

My reaction was swift and snappy: “DIFFERENT DOESN’T MEAN BAD”.

Since then I’ve been thinking about my reaction. As we entered a new round of lockdown where we live, different has meant my skating with my little one in the morning before school at the rink we created in our backyard instead of ferrying her to the actual rink for 7am each day. Different has meant family dinners followed by movies each night because homework is done right after school since there are no after school activities. Different has meant long family walks on the weekend, exploring trails and parks near our home that we’ve never had time to fully enjoy before since there are no weekend activities to rush out to. As far as I’m concerned, different this month has been quite enjoyable.

Of course, different has also meant visiting family is either virtual or outdoors and socially distanced – which isn’t the most fun in as we enter winter. And different is going to mean changing some of our Christmas traditions.

But none of these changes are inherently bad. They’re just . . . different.

What I hope, after this month when the differences in our current COVID-controlled lives are more starkly apparent than at any other time in the year as compared to our pre-COVID lives, is that my kids develop, if not a love for things being different, at least a deep understanding that different doesn’t mean bad.

Different just means different.

Musings On Perfection

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good”

– John Stienbeck

I have always been drawn to the concept of perfection; the idea that something can be so good it is beyond reproach or criticism. Which is somewhat ironic as my fear never being able to achieve perfection in my life has lead me to spent a good portion of my life in, shall we say, less than perfect states.

The single clearest example of this is my “office” space in our house. When we renovated the basement, years ago now, I created a tiny office space for myself. This was meant to be a place for me to “create” – aka indulge in my crafty tendencies in a way that wouldn’t create a giant mess in a more visible area of the house. What my office actually became was a sort of dumping ground / graveyard for the detritus of our daily lives. My desk is generally scattered with old invoices, random items of clothing that need repair, a half finished sewing project of mine, the drawers filled with old tech that will certainly never be touched again . . . you get the idea.

However, the one critical item that does reside in my office is our desktop computer. The big screen, which takes up significant real estate on my desk, a modern relic of days gone past, when the idea of everyone in house having their own laptops was a laughable idea.

And then came COVID.

And with it the disappearance of all our available laptops into kids rooms and the Husband’s desk, forcing me to do all my “work” from the hoarder’s haven that my office had become. I have lived amongst the mess for months now. While there had been a few half hearted attempts to clean up along the way, for the most part, things remained, well, a mess.

Until last weekend. When I decided that I wanted to feel good when I came to get my work done. That I wanted to be surrounded by things that I love. And that I no longer wanted to live in mess. And that maybe my mindset would shift just a little bit if this little room of my own was in order.

And so I got to work. I actually put photos in the picture frames that have been stacked on the floor for years. And I even went so far as to hang them all on the wall. Having visual reminders of the things that make me happiest – family photos from our most loved trips and landscape photos of the places I love most – puts a smile on my face every time I come in this room. I cleaned everything up and I cleaned out everything that needed to go. And in this process, I came across a poster I had purchased years ago at the One of a Kind Craft Sale. When I saw it, I knew I HAD to have it. And then promptly shoved it away, forgotten about until now, as it is prominently hung beside my computer where I have no option other than to have it constantly in my peripheral vision:

These past few months have been a crash course in learning to let go of all of my delusions of perfection. I’ve been learning that my true joy doesn’t come from striving to be beyond reproach or criticism from others. It comes from doing what I love and creating a life that I love. And this was made oh so evident to me as I undertook this little office cleaning project. So now that I don’t have to be perfect, I can be good. And that feels a WHOLE lot better.

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