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Improvement, not perfection

July 28, 2010

I used to tell our kids – ‘your best is good enough’. Give it your best and even if you don’t win, even if the coach was a jerk, don’t get an ‘A’, etc. it’s still good enough.

Now I tell them, and myself – ‘improvement, not perfection.’ Because life is too short to waste time trying to be perfect at anything. Does the pizza crust really have to be perfectly round? Do all the chocolate chip cookies have to be the exact same size (especially when they’re going to be eaten right out of the oven?) Do I have to get every single streak off the window? So these days we go for the second motto more than the first. When the kids were trying to get into colleges the first applied more, but life is too short and fragile to waste time throwing more effort than is needed at anything.

So – BEFORE:
A big mess. The garage, like the house, came furnished so this is their stuff and our stuff. All thrown together and we couldn’t find anything!

It got frustrating enough we set up an entire wall of plastic shelving to hold the overflow – the stuff we didn’t know what on earth to do with or didn’t have time to deal with. I found birthday cards for my daughter’s and grand-daughter’s birthdays, both in May. I found stamps. The hole punch. An adding machine. All stuff you have to have in a garage… and if the mail is junky, sometimes we just leave it in the golf cart. Usually it’s junky. I wonder, does everybody get that much junk mail?

We’d bought two of these tool organizers but couldn’t find the right place for them. And bless my Dad’s heart – he sent me home from a recent visit with three boxes full of books. Just what I need – more books. See those shopping bags up by the tools – very helpful when you’re actually at Walmart and they’re all home hanging by the weed whacker.

Our car is so big it came all the way to the back door and was hard to unload from the back.

And – AFTER:

After we took down all those white shelves and dealt with the stuff, we were able to use that wall to hold all the ladders. With 22 foot ceilings in the living room, having the extension ladder in the garage (rather than the shop) will come in handy. And we found a better home for the tool caddies. Miss Kitty said she didn’t care as long as we didn’t mess with her food dishes. See her little door? She enjoyed coming out and checking on the progress of the mess. Now there’s a clear path to the back door – much nicer.

When it was all said and done, we moved the car to the other side of the garage and put the golf cart on the other. I can park more easily now, and there’s more room to unload groceries or get in and out of the back door. It’s still not beautiful, what garage is? But we know what is in every single box, on every single shelf, and now we can find what we need in much less time. Or at all. One thing the previous owners left us that we love – that cage. We put all the paint supplies and all the insecticides inside it – safe from little people who come for visits so we don’t have to worry about them getting hurt. That bin at the top of the shelf – full of dinosaurs and cars and costumes for when the grandsons come to play. We can just pull it out and set it on the carport for them to tear into.

This is what came out of the garage and isn’t going back. An entire load to take to the Salvation Army, shelves that we’ll take up to the attic for Christmas decorations, camping equipment, etc. An entire load for the trashman on Monday, and an assortment of stuff that needed to be put in the boathouse closet or the shop. A pile of ‘give away’, ‘throw away’ and ‘put away (somewhere else)’. I even got Don to set aside a few tools, to give to our son, so now we only have four rakes. That’s better than five. We’re even getting rid of a trash can – taking it straight to the Salvation Army, because it’s virtually impossible to convince the trash man you want to throw away the can too.


So – the garage. Done. Except for that stack of framed family photos that are still living on top of the ‘beer, water and worm’ fridge. At the end of the day I was too worn out to even move them. Today they’ll go upstairs in the scrapbooking closet, to figure out later. For right now that’s good enough. Overall the garage is greatly improved. Not perfect. But good enough. Moving on…..

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate permalink
    July 28, 2010 10:37 am

    Good for you , Bev! I find my mind is much less cluttered when my surroundings are much less cluttered!

    Curious though…did the previous owners just suddenly die or something? Otherwise I don’t understand how/why they would just leave EVERYTHING and sell it all with the house….. I can see that if the owners died and the family didn’t want the work of sorting and selling individual items, and just decided to sell the whole kit and kaboodle!

    • July 28, 2010 4:16 pm

      Kate, thanks for the great giggle of the day. I guess before we bought the house I would have wondered the same, maybe. The house was advertised on lakehouse.com as Price # – just the house, or Price #2 ‘with all the toys’ as they put it. We actually met the owners, she was a realtor herself, and we opted for the ‘with the toys’. This house was their ‘vacation’ home, where they came to play every few weekends. Let me tell you, we’d never, ever go that option again – it’s been a huge work to get rid of all the extra stuff that comes with two households. I’m still surprised to realize the things that I hung on to were probably not a big deal to her. Our son found a gadget to pour pancakes from and thought it was the bees’ knees. 🙂

  2. July 28, 2010 11:24 am

    Inch by inch it’s a cinch. Seems you’re getting it cinched!!!

  3. July 28, 2010 1:31 pm

    Wow, that is impressive!

    “Good enough” is a great motto:-) It lets you really get things done!

    • July 28, 2010 4:18 pm

      Kelly, I’ve read and heard that perfectionism is a huge derailer; keeps a lot of people from even starting something. Good enough really is good enough most of the time 🙂

  4. July 28, 2010 2:38 pm

    Looks great, Mama! Wanna come clean mine? Just kidding…sort of. 😉

    • July 28, 2010 4:17 pm

      I’m willing, but day by day less able – I told Dad between the two of us we have about one good knee and half a back. We just finished the shop cleanout and gave each other a high-five, then flipped for who got the shower first!

  5. July 28, 2010 6:20 pm

    Love your wisdom! As a young wife and mom, I was a perfectionist. Man, if I’d known then what I know now; life is, indeed, way too short for such silliness. I’m so much happier–and more productive–with ‘good enough’ than I ever was with ‘gotta be perfect.’

    • July 28, 2010 9:57 pm

      Hurrah for you Renna. Maybe the best gift we can give to those moms coming behind us is to tell them this. Fly Lady does a fabulous job of just that – she calls it ‘blessing your family’ and encourages them not to fuss – just keep moving.

  6. August 3, 2010 5:06 pm

    My favorite thing about this post? Aside from the amazing improvement in the whole garage situation?

    Miss Kitty’s adorable little door. I love that. 🙂

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