Embracing imperfection

I have an app on my phone that gives me a yoga quote every day. The idea is to take a quiet moment and read the daily quote, reflect upon its wisdom, then go about my day in a serene and float-y way. 

Instead, I usually read the daily quote as I’m loading the dishwasher and scooting our little piggie Piper out of the way and hollering at my kids to turn down the TV and wondering where my grocery list is and trying to remember if I paid the lawn guys and hoping I remember to water the new shrubs before they shrivel and die a brown, crinkly death in these dog days of Texas summer. 

What part of that is serene and float-y? 

None. Nada. Zilch. 

I’m coming to grips with the fact that I just don’t lead a serene and float-y life. Going to yoga helps, although I don’t think I’ll ever master the art of calming my mind, even in the midst of a perfect yoga class, in a darkened room with my favorite instructor with her calming voice and lovely music. 

Adding the daily yoga quote to my hectic, too-busy day and to my static-y, not-calm mind was a somewhat-desperate attempt to impart even more calm to my spastic self. Some days a quote resonates with me, and some days I think, “Yeah, right.” 

Today’s quote grabbed me, and not necessarily in a yoga way but in a more all-encompassing way. 

“These days, my practice is teaching me to embrace imperfection: to have compassion for all the ways things haven’t turned out as I planned, in my body and in my life — for the ways things keep falling apart, and failing, and breaking down. It’s less about fixing things, and more about learning to be present for exactly what is”.  — Anne Cushman

That one got my attention and forced me to slow down (and to ignore the dishwasher, et al). My guess is that this quote applies to everyone, regardless of whether you’ve ever set foot in a yoga class or attempted a reclining pigeon pose. Of course this quote applies doubly to any of us who have faced a serious health crisis, such as a cancer diagnosis. 

My first thought when I read this quote was about how much I’d love to be in the presence of Anne Cushman, whoever she is, and hope for osmosis. I’d love for her acceptance to permeate my body and mind. I’d really love to emulate her practice of “being present for exactly what is” especially as it relates to my post-cancer body.

If only there were a “being present” fairy. A lovely, serene, calming cousin to the Tooth Fairy, who would visit those of us who struggle after diagnosis. She could float into our windows while we sleep and sprinkle yoga-fairy dust around our pillows. She could whisper words of wisdom into our ears and smile knowingly as we nodded sleepily, eyes closed and minds calm. We would fall under her spell without even knowing it, and would awake from our typically-disjointed sleep, no longer plagued by hot flashes or night sweats or nightmares about recurrence. We would emerge from non-tangled, not-sweaty sheets, refreshed and renewed and filled with compassion for the many ways in which things didn’t turn out how we expected. We would smile as we alighted from bed, bathed in calm and knowing that we now have the power to embrace our imperfections. We would no longer instinctively avoid our reflections in the mirror; that part of our minds that tells us “Don’t look! It’s not pretty! It’s not the same!” would be erased, no longer needed. We would cease the relentless and futile pursuit of “fixing things” about our bodies and souls post-cancer. Instead, we would smile sweetly at the broken parts and love them because of, not despite, their imperfections. 

Namaste, y’all.


I’m big on signs. Not the roadside kind, but the superstitious kind. I like to ascribe meaning to things that are probably mere coincidence. That said, when I was awakened in the wee hours this morning by the Weasel Dog, I didn’t immediately think about the fact that today was 12/12/12. WebImg_12_12_12_I got out of bed, let the weasel outside, then quickly shooed him back inside when he started barking his fool head off. He slunk back inside and promptly hopped back into bed and made himself a cozy nest out of the covers, most of which should have been on my side of the bed. With scant covers and a fully-awake brain, I lay there, sleepless and running through the kind of thoughts my mind prefers in the middle of the night: did I remember to buy bread for my boy’s lunch? why is the tire pressure indicator light still on in my car? how many days do I have to mail packages before the real Christmas rush? and of course, the back-by-popular-demand recurring thoughts of recurrence. Some 37 minutes later, no closer to sleep despite employing the Ujjayi breath control I’ve learned in yoga class, I looked at the clock: 3:33 a.m. on 12/12/12.


Surely there’s something auspicious about this. Surely this is a harbinger of good things to come, instead of simply yet another insomnia-fueled night.

At some point, I drifted back to sleep. That point was precariously close to the time in which I was due to wake, no doubt. When I awoke, rather than feeling like I was dragging ass, I felt buoyed by the potential in this day. I went about my usual business (packing lunch, tidying up, ferrying a not-so-thrilled middle schooler to school) and went about my usual day: some sick cardio designed to burn enough calories to provide a guilt-free happy hour, then a more-intense-than-expected yoga class, followed by errands and more tidying before heading for a visit to my orthopedic surgeon to check on my newly repaired knee, then driving both kids’ carpools, bookended by a trip to Walgreens for the never-ending prescription refills and a quick trip to the monogram place to pick up our little piggie‘s new Christmas stocking. Once home, I wrapped a few Christmas gifts and assembled the piles for mailing, found boxes suitable for shipping, packed those boxes and taped them shut. In the midst of all this productivity, I realized something important.

Nothing amazing happened at any point during this day.

Not one single out-of-this-world event took place in my life today.

It was all business as usual.

So much for being awake to witness 3:33 a.m. on 12/12/12.