Good vs. Perfect

Hello, my name is Brandi and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

I was a good student growing up — the type that gets A’s on tests and papers and goes above and beyond on projects. In 9th grade, we were tasked in history to write a section of a chapter on one of the topics we were studying. While most of the kids in my class, gathered their papers in those plastic covers that made everything seem more formal and professional, I spent time building a mock textbook from foam board, created a cover, and glued my chapter in it. I could feel the glares.

I probably got a little too drunk on 100s on tests with extra bonus points, papers marked with A+ and the praise from teachers. As long as I kept being perfect — or at least near perfect — I would be fine.

But perfection is not the reality of life.

It dragged me down for years, the pressure to do everything exactly right, to please people, to adjust and change and shape myself to make other people happy. I wanted approval, I wanted praise, I wanted to know I was good and kind and beautiful and worth something.

In the past 4 years, I’ve given up the perfectionist and discovered a deep sense of connection and self-compassion. Because in business, nothing goes perfectly. You learn from every stumble and mishap and project. You grow. And suddenly, you realize that it’s not about getting it perfect, but letting it change you. It’s about the expansion and the deeper discovery of truths that shift you closer to you.

You realize that it’s about good rather than perfect.

In his podcast, Rob Bell elaborates on the difference between good and perfect so eloquently. In Genesis, God made the world good, not perfect. There is no growth in perfection, but there is growth and story and love in good. It is dynamic and changing, rather than stagnant and fixed.

I choose to embrace growth and evolution and story. I choose to embrace my beautiful and imperfect self. I choose to embrace and love others in their beauty and imperfection. It is good and it is miraculous.

Missing

This is going to be raw. I don’t know how else do talk about this.

Five days after I returned from my time in Atlanta and Tennessee, I had to say goodbye to my sweet cat, Marty.

He was such a fighter and so stubborn at times. After the vet discovered the lymphoma, they gave him a month to live. Marty gave me 8 months.

I’ve had trouble writing lately, because I want to write about him. But when I do, I cry hard. I miss him so badly and it still hurts.

His loss has made me think about those other lights I’ve lost. So today, here’s what I’m missing:

mornings on the porch, sipping tea, watching Marty explore the yard

the way he dipped his paw into milk to drink it

Marty’s stare in the middle of the afternoon, when he was ready for food

how he licked my little cat Cami clean when my mom brought her home

the way Marty curled up between my legs at night so we could sleep

the wrestling fights he and Hugo would get into

the moments where all he wanted to do was be next to me and sleep

how I kissed his belly hundreds of times after the surgery, wishing for a miracle

watching the transformation as Marty went from a scared cat from the pound to a trusting loyal friend

I wake up some mornings and still can’t believe I arrived here, that he’s gone. He was the glue in my little family of human plus three cats.

I’ve been thinking of all he taught me — to take time, to slow down, to love unconditionally and fiercely.

My heart is broken, but I am so incredibly grateful for all the time we did have.

Capturing A Moment

December was a difficult month for me: I moved to a city where I didn’t know anyone, in hopes it would be a better fit for me; my then-boyfriend and I broke up; and my cat Marty had emergency surgery when it became clear there was a growth in his stomach, causing him a lot of pain. It was this last piece of news that hit me the hardest — I was just really learning how to love this cat, adopted from a shelter by an ex-boyfriend, then stolen by me when it was clear he wasn’t being treated well. At the beginning he had been stand-offish and always pretty independent. But he had changed in the months before the surgery. I had changed too.

The surgery went well, but the prognosis wasn’t good. The vet gave him a month.

It’s been four.

I know I don’t have forever, but I do have this time.

And I wanted it captured, with me in it. I’ve typically been the one snapping photos, but really wanted some of me with my cats. My friend Carrie came by and took a few photos for me.

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There are days that harder and days that are great. I don’t always know which it will be. My work sometimes falls a bit behind, because I need to be present more with my cats than with emails or my blog. But I am where I need to be, and that matters most to me — and to them, I suspect.

Happy Holidays!

I¬†wanted to send a special holiday wish to everyone. I’ve had a few things come up recently that need my immediate attention, including a very sick kitty, so I’ve decided to take some time to attend to these very important things. I’m so grateful for family, friends, and health, and right now, I’m praying my cat gets better. There’s really no better reminder of how unconditional love is than the love of a pet.

I hope you and your loved ones have an amazing holiday season and happy new year! I’ll be back in 2015 with lots of goodness.

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.