Good Enough

View from the couch yesterday.

It’s been in the 40s here the past few days which is absolute heaven, not having to bundle up against the wind and icy chill. I got together yesterday with a friend I haven’t seen in awhile and made a fire, just because it’s pretty (and also my living room is cold.)

I re-wrote this post three times this weekend, on an entirely different topic, increasingly frustrated by how I wasn’t finding the right words for the right ideas, and the right turn of phrase, and then … aha! I remembered my one-time guiding principle that carried me through several years of life like a slightly lopsided, rusty boat: good enough.

I’m a somewhat-reformed perfectionist who tried for perfection the first several decades of my life. (Did I succeed? Nope, but that didn’t deter me.) I was always after juuust the right bed linens, holiday meal, camera angle, etc. Then I suddenly found myself a single parent with four kids and a full-time job and discovered the concept of “good enough.” In a neighborhood, in a city, devoted to striving for perfection at any and all costs, I phoned it in whenever possible. I brought soda and chips to cookouts, hopscotched past neighborhood committees, cheerfully declined non-obligatory obligations, and told my kids, welp! That’s the way it is! Good enough! Could I have done more, and done it better? Yeah, probably. I guess we’ll never know, will we?

Mercury’s in retrograde until the 18th. I’ve made a low-key mess of several projects this weekend, including this post. I guess … this is good enough, though. I mean it’s up, it has words and punctuation, you’re reading it. Job well done! Or, at least, done.

This is not a bad lesson for me to learn. To re-learn. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, although once upon a time I did. I was full of ideas for improving myself and, thus, my life. But sometimes we just show up late with the store-bought cookies and it’s fine.

What’s your philosophy?  Good enough? Perfectionism in some (or all) areas?

Cover photo: the quiche with the crust I had to make twice today because I dropped the first crust taking it out of the oven after blind-baking it. The second one looks like the dog made it, but it tastes nice! I say … good enough.

  • alityke says:

    March, I’m sure that perfectionism is rooted in trying to gain the approval of a parent or parents.
    I can empathise with your inner perfectionist voice.
    It was only after my mental health breakdown I realised that perfection doesn’t exist. Equally, I came to the conclusion I was never going to gain my mother’s approval. With therapy I stopped trying & protected my younger son from her insidious, confidence sapping comments.
    Good enough is just that, good & enough. If something isn’t working, stop polishing that particular turd, it’s a waste of time!
    I adore Spanish style corner fires, whenever we go to Spain I’m delighted if we find our villa or apartment has one, even better if we find a bar or restaurant with a corner fire. The smell of a wood fire is so cozy. No fragrance can really smell like the real thing!
    Happy New Year

    • March says:

      Love a wood fire! I’m pleased I wound up in a place that has a fireplace. Also the pinon wood here smells amazing when burned, very incense-y. There’s definitely a link to our parents, and I’m glad you were able to break the cycle for yourself and your son.

  • Musette says:

    That was my life for EVAH! Then – one holiday evening, as I was freaking myself and then-DH out because the vintage linen tablecloth wasn’t perfectly pressed, I realized: NOBODY CARES! Not.Even.Me. All that drama – and for what?

    So I gave all that up, do the best I can without stressing myself (or others – because, let’s face it, that ‘perfection’ is a form of aggression and folks can FEEL it)… and I toddle through Life, whistling a (mostly) happy tune. My heart, my liver, my very life is much happier.
    Glad yours is, too!


    • March says:

      Yes! Whyyyyyy were we stressing ourselves out so much?!?! Also it’s control issues. And yeah, we’re not improving the situation if we’re making other folks quietly anxious with our vibe. But it’s a work in progress, at least for me.

  • Portia says:

    Heya March,
    I’ve learned that my best fluctuates. Sometimes it’s external forces and other times it’s all me. Perfect for today’s ability is how I say it in my head.
    Also, if you turn up at my place with store bought cookies I’ll be freaking thrilled. We have a friend who bakes the real deal to bring and it’s so cool/delicious/awesome, but I love the shop shit too.
    Portia xx

    • March says:

      Yep! “Nobody cares about this but me” has been a game-changer when I get to fretting and need to stop. Everything does not have to be The Most. Perfect for today’s ability is a great motto, especially in winter, which is my most low-energy time of year. Hugs to you.

  • cinnamon says:

    I’m not sure I would label it ‘good enough’. Rather, I’d put it as ‘what works for me now’ and that can morph depending on what we’re referring to and at what particular time (eg, I have less oomph in the autumn and winter, more spring/summer, etc). I remember a high school guidance counsellor saying I had ‘shoulds’ and I needed to listen to those less and focus more on wants/needs. It took me a long time to fully understand that. As to the quiche re-bake, from Bull Durham: “You hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while”. Continue to love your tableaus around the casita.

    • March says:

      Ah yes, a case of the shoulds! A chronic condition I suffer from. I’ve certainly gotten better at thinking more about my wants/needs than what I feel I should do. I probably would have given up on quiche-making except I’d already made the filling and didn’t want it crustless (which I’ve done before); the crust is one of the best bits! And thanks, I like my home environs cozy. Not perfect, but certainly better than “good enough.”

  • matty1649 says:

    Forgot to add……Your living room looks cosy. Love the fireplace. Quiche looks fine…good enough to eat x

    • March says:

      Once I had a slice of the quiche for dinner I got over myself, lol. I was just annoyed at how long the whole thing took when I had to make a second crust. And thanks, I love my little casita, and I do take care in how it looks because it makes me cozy and happy.

  • matty1649 says:

    Good enough works for me. Love Dina’s motto.

  • Maggiecat says:

    I am also a recovering perfectionist. My recovery was inspired less by common sense and mostly by a painful and debilitating autoimmune disorder. Two disorders, actually. Three cheers for store bought cookies and dusting only as high as my tallest friends.

    • March says:

      Those reality checks which life brings are a reminder of what’s important, for sure. What are we going to spend our limited energy and time on? Everything else is just going to have to be good enough.

  • Kathleen says:

    I have also tried my best for perfection most of my life and have finally learned to let go (somewhat). I agree that often good enough is good enough. Your living room is cozy, definitely exceeds good enough!

  • Dina C. says:

    Homemade quiche looks yummy, March! And your fireplace and living room look very cozy. Way more than good enough. I’m not sure I have a motto or a philosophy outside of my faith, but I love this T-shirt slogan: “When all else fails, take a nap.” I’m very good at naps. I love the beauty of perfection, idealism, exquisite elegance, but I live with standards that are way less rigid and demanding. Grant myself grace and forgiveness, and others as well, in big buckets full. Maybe this will be the year I finally paint my bathroom…or maybe not.

    • Kathleen says:

      Love this Dina!

    • March says:

      Love this. I will say as I get older, I’m much more accepting of my own shortcomings, and those of other people, frankly. More easygoing about things. And I LOVE naps, one of the benefits of the pandemic and 2 years of remote work. Afternoon naps for the win. My little house IS cozy! I keep it looking nice and tidy for myself, because it gives me comfort and joy, I have a strong sense of “place” that way.

    • Musette says:

      Dina – this is spot-on!!! Thanks!


  • Tom says:

    I adore your fireplace- we had one in the place I shared in Milwaukee- a 1920’s double-decker with wood built-ins and a wood burning fireplace. Complete bliss on a cold winter night. The cats loved them.

    • March says:

      I wish Coco didn’t mind a fire … the wood popping really freaks her out for some reason and she hides under the bed, she never gets used to it. And that makes me feel guilty. But it really warms the room up when it’s cold, and I like tending it.

  • Maya says:

    Good enough works for me. My mother was a perfectionist extraordinaire. I caught myself starting to imitate her and went “no no no no no no no” and never looked back. lol.

    • March says:

      Yeah I didn’t work it into the post but I come by my tendencies honestly, my mother was pretty brutal in her perfectionism. It didn’t make her happy either.

  • Tara C says:

    Your living room looks so inviting! I’m a semi-reformed perfectionist as well. Feeling anxious about having to fly into the great white north Saturday and am trying to talk myself into accepting whatever happens calmly. This is a project of a lifetime.

    • Neil says:

      How are you Tara? Happy New Year. I hope you are doing well.

      Love this post. It’s always a seesaw between good enough and wanting something really perfect (or else not caring at all)

      • March says:

        I’ve asked myself, do I care? WHY do I care? To get at the root of my sometimes-conflicting messages my brain is sending me. There are times when it’s absolutely worth it to try my hardest to make something nice or “perfect” for someone else, or for myself. Other times it’s just me being competitive or silly. Good to sort those out.

    • March says:

      Oh, good luck! I know it’s been a slog. Talking to yourself ahead of time about calm acceptance is a solid plan. And thanks, my home is a place I do care about, I need it warm and inviting, so I put the effort in, rearrange periodically by season, etc.