The Magic in the Chipped, Cracked, and Misfits

Ah, the search for the elusive ‘simple living’…

It has become a lengthy quest for me. To be frank, it has stretched out for decades.

And while I have yet to achieve it, I’m getting closer. I’ve discovered many secrets and gifts along my way.

Recently I hit upon one secret without effort or attempt. I’m usually working hard to find them, but this one happened quite by accident. Actually, by necessity. And in this secret, I found some magic of the simple life.

Have you discovered some secrets to simple living? Leave a comment, and share it with us! We need to hear it; we need to share our discoveries with each other.

What is it? What is this secret I unearthed?

It is the art of finding satisfaction in the mismatched, the chipped, the cracked. The “imperfect.”

I have spent much of my life searching for the opposite of that, I’ve searched for the “perfect.” I mean, who in their right minds would be searching for the imperfect? You know what is telling–what I have come to realize? I was even searching for the “perfect” simple life.

This particular art, this secret, this magic requires something BIG. It requires us to let go of our searches for perfection. It requires us to give up our desire to appear perfect. It means we have to reveal and share our imperfections. Oh yes, the search for perfection is a frantic, constant, unfulfilling search that never ever ends because there is no end. Perfection doesn’t exist. Not in people, not in nature, not in life. Impossible. I guess it’s like the gold pot at the end of a rainbow, non-existent.

So, we’ve got to stop seeking it. It isn’t hiding; it isn’t hard to find; it isn’t fleeting. It simply does not exist.

The key, I recently learned, is accepting the cracked, broken, chipped, mismatched. Not only accepting it, but also EMBRACING it. And sharing it. Exposing it.

Finding satisfaction in the imperfect means realizing that IT (whatever “it” is to you) is good enough. Good enough even though. Good enough in spite of.

After we do that a few times, practice it, we can apply it more broadly. We can realize that WE, even WE, are all okay, AS IS. That we are enough, right now. Not in the future WHEN…. or IF….. but now.

Every one of us been through the ringer.

We are all chipped. Broken. Cracked. Mismatched.

So what?

That is life. THAT is living.

Learning to live there—in that place of reality and acceptance—contentedly, is the key. Yep. That’s the place where we all need to find satisfaction, fulfillment, happiness. In the AS IS.

The other day one of my aunts had a birthday, her 96th. Yes, you read that right. If you met my aunt, you would guess 76. She’s beautiful, with fewer wrinkles than I have. She’s smart as a whip. She has always been a successful business woman. Still strong, both physically and mentally. I have always admired her and written about her many times.

Anyway, I threw a–what turned into a large–party. Problem was that I didn’t have the proper “stuff” to have a matching, perfect party. I didn’t have enough seating, space, plates, forks, etc.

Everyone told me to use paper plates, plastic forks. Well, I don’t like to eat off of paper plates, or serve from them, so that was not an option. Instead, I went to the thrift store. Sure, they had plenty of matching sets of plates for sale; and sure, they had many choices for fine china.

But there, hidden in the very back of the second shelf were stacks of plates that called my name. It was filled with the misfits.

It was a stack of individual mismatched plates. None of them matched. I bought them all. It set me back a whole 49 cents a plate.

At the party, I noticed something. When folks went to pick up a plate from a place setting on the table before heading to the buffet, they examined the plates first. They looked at their choices before they decided on one. I found that interesting.

You see, THAT is a much different experience than simply picking up a paper plate or a plate that looks like all the others. It added something. An element of whimsy? An element of fun? I’m not sure what exactly, but something.

Which would you choose?

Hmmm...which plate_ (1)

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The birthday girl’s special plate was the last one pictured here….the pewter one. There were many more individual plates to choose from than these 12, I just didn’t want to bore you with all of them…

Another interesting fact about many of the plates. They were worn and had obviously been well used. Some had chips around the edge. A few had hairline cracks. It didn’t matter in the least.

AND…the mismatched plates made my lack of matching cloth napkins and table cloths TOTALLY work.

Hmmm...which plate_ (3)

Oh dear. One stack was chopped from that pic. I have to add it because I love that dragonfly one on top. It was a gift from a friend so I always think of her when I use it. :)

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And next up? Chairs!

Mismatched plates; mismatched napkins and tablecloths; and mismatched chairs. The chairs were a blend of borrowed and found chairs.

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Oh, and check this out. We picked this one up for $10 at the thrift store and turned it into our birthday throne.

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(I’m sitting in that throne right now.)

I guess I’ll soon pack the plates and the chairs away for the next big party. But currently, we are using them daily. We have found it’s pretty fun to pick out a special plate from the stacks for dinner. My personal favorite is the one with the snow scene on it. Makes me smile. The farmhouse is pinkish, though it doesn’t look like it in this photo. And there is a horse drawn carriage. Right up my alley.

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In preparing for my aunt’s 96th birthday celebration, I discovered satisfaction in the mismatched and imperfect. A house can be too small for a large party, too cluttered for company, not decorated well enough for guests, and not company-worthy clean—and none of that really matters.

What matters is the people. The living, breathing, loving people. Not the stuff.

For many years there was someone in my life for years who criticized something about my house every time she came over. It was never clean enough, never organized enough, never decorated right. “Tsk, tsk,” I’d hear as drawers were opened in the kitchen. I’d learn why I the picture I hung above the fireplace was all wrong, how I needed to decorate the shelves, how the granite countertop should be cleaned properly, what I should do with the hardwood floors, and on and on. Have you experienced that?

As a result, I’d go crazy every time this person came over, spending hours doing my very best to finally get a nod. Of course, it never came.

Today, I embrace something else. Today I embrace the attitude that parties, houses, and life is mismatched and chipped. This attitude of finding the okay (or thrill) in the imperfect will seep into every area of your life. Letting go of “Plan A” will open you up to lots of other plans. And those non-A plans can turn out to be even better ones.

I found that once we let go of things, people, and lives having to be a certain way, it opens the door for a new way of thinking. And once your door is open for a new way of thinking, life flourishes. You get un-stuck. You can finally relax. It’s a big relief. You can be more open and hospitable, fostering connection.

So, yeah, I look around and see that my house has worn, mismatched furniture. But it’s the kind of home that invites you to sit down, or lay down and kick your feet up. It’s not farmhouse white; it’s not magazine worthy. And yes, it’s also true that you should be careful if you are opening a closet door, and yes, you might notice some fur on your black pants when you leave.

But you know what? It feels like HOME. Because it is home. A simple home.

So, yeah, I finally discovered another secret to a simple life. Letting go of the “has to be.” Finding fulfillment in the “is.”

AS IS.

What is that saying? Cracks are okay, that’s how the light gets in.

Start small. End small.

But oh, the big results, inside and out.

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

Lots of Love, The City Farmgirl in the Country, Rebekah

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment 29 Comments

  1. Donna Turner says:

    Rebecca, everything you said IS true.,,thank you for such insight, it speaks right into my life…I will embrace this worthy endeavor with an expectancy of freedom. (I like your choice of plate, just my style)

  2. Carol says:

    For many years, I have pushed myself every time company came to hurriedly get things “ready”. I had small children, we were a home school family and we had stuff. It was a cluttered home, but not a dirty home. One day, I realized that it did not matter if it was cluttered. There were seats available, the floor was able to be walked on and my tables might have books on them, but a cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea fit there perfectly. I am learning that the “has to” life is not for me! I feel at home with my stuff!!

    I love your mismatched plates and your birthday throne! I would choose the farmhouse scene plate that you chose as that is my lifestyle!

  3. Diane Van Horn says:

    Simply, right up my alley! I am embracing the mediocre in my life. The ordinary, the middle of the road, the adequate. Most everything in my house and wardrobe are second hand, thrift store or rummage sale finds. Not only is it cheaper but reusing and recycling are good for the environment. I love the hunt and then I love imagining the people that previously used and loved the items. Things with a history are so much more interesting and are usually higher quality than the mass produced jumble found in stores. If I ever do buy new, it’s usually something handmade.
    Your post reminds me of a favorite passage from “The Velveteen Rabbit”.

    ” You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But those things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. “

  4. Nicole White says:

    Basics
    Order
    Peace

    I came up with this many years ago, before there was really the internet, well before the perfect pictures on Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook showing polished lives. Since I’m not good at remembering long “mission statements” this worked for me and the family that grew to include 5 children, home schooling, and moving about 15 times in 25 years (military/government service).
    If I stuck to the BASICS of whatever I was doing, meal prep, school lessons, playtime, crafts, etc…
    It was easier to keep things in ORDER
    Also, if I had a flexible plan or ORDER for the day, week, month, long term goal it was easier to reach it/achieve it
    When I stuck to the BASICS and kept ORDER
    we had more PEACE. I won’t say that everyday was bliss – remember 5 kids, home schooling, frequent moves, and a husband who worked as a first responder with mandatory 10 hour days – but there were was more peace than I think I, and the family, would have had otherwise.
    This formula works – I now see my oldest daughter with her family of two little one’s putting it into practice (even better than I did). Her home is filled with contentment and peace even with a husband who has a serious medical condition and her with minor head trauma.
    Thank you for your post.
    Wishing you basics, order, and peace in your quest to simplify and get to the essentials of living.
    -Nicole

  5. Pam Pearson says:

    Love it!!! Hit the spot perfectly on how I feel about my house and entertaining in it!!!

  6. Rebecca West says:

    Oh my goodness!. I loved this post. I just recently discovered the same thing and it is such a freeing thing. To be able to be and do YOU even if not perfect is such a thing of freedom. Thanks for sharing. I LOVED this blog post.

  7. Brenda Towsley says:

    Love this, it’s perfect. And before I git to the point where you picked your favorite plate I had already picked that exact one. The one next to it with the floral edge was a pattern my daughter’s great grandmother had. We did a similar thing for my daughters bridal shower. Mixed and matched tea cups and luncheon plates on top of unmatched vintage linens and napkins, was lovely. We are getting snow and are in the artic vortex right now. No school for grands and a snow/cold day off from work for me. You would love it, well maybe not the 30+ below zero wind chill… looking forward to spring.

  8. First of all, I would have picked the plate with the picture on the front. It represents my love of country living … if I ever do get there completely! Also, I have found that it is in the imperfections that the true magic and nature of an object is revealed, the history of the people who owned it before. My own favorite tea mug is one with a cat on the front … and a chip! Still use it, still love it, still gives me a great cup of tea!

  9. Reba says:

    You are absolutely right!! We are all chipped, cracked, and broken…until someone shows their love to us and us to them! I did a Celebration of Life for my “Great” Nephew when he went into remission of T-cell Lymphoma. He was diagnosed at 18 months old. We did mismatch for everything, and made it a farm-style celebration (all while living in a “cookie cutter” house)! Everyone was so excited, looking at the plates, sitting on hay bales, playing limbo, and racing each other in burlap sacs. My nephew (his Dad) stated this was the best party ever!!! The children slept really well that night! :) I gave my china away years before, and have about every color in my plates. Children even notice the plates, and when one accidentally drops a plate and breaks it, I tell them not to worry, just to make sure that they are alright! Parents breathe a sigh of relief! My house is mismatched in everything, and it is always interesting how others respond! I tell them it’s more important that they are here visiting! I have a hanging over the door, “You are my favorite hello, and my hardest goodbye!”

  10. Carol says:

    So, so true. I do mosaics. Taking broken pieces and putting them together in a new, more beautiful whole. I believe that is what God does for us. And, seeing the light through the cracks is such a beautiful analogy. But here’s my “whack on the side of the head” moment from your blog. I have stacks of the very plates you described sitting in my studio waiting to be broken and used for mosaics. Why couldn’t I use them right now for a party??? Or, just for a little get together? Brilliant idea of yours! I love perfect imperfection. There is magic in imperfection and beauty in the ordinary and every day. Simplicity rocks! Thanks for your inspiration!!!

  11. Doris Hall says:

    Oh, Rebekah, This post just touched my heart. I loved every bit of it. My house is small. We have raised five children here and now there are 13 grandchildren and four great-grands. I tell everyone not to worry when they come with little ones because if it is not broken, cracked or chipped it is because it can’t be. On holidays they all want to come “home’ even though we hardly move. Now some of my cousins want to join us because it is so much fun. “As-is” is definitely the way to be. There is no alcohol, drugs nor tobacco just a lot of well worn furniture, good food and lots of fun and laughter. Thank you so much for sharing. I totally agree.

  12. Rebecca says:

    Oh, so much truth and wisdom in a few words. I love your blog. I’ve always been attracted to imperfect things but never felt comfortable sharing those mismatched things with friends and family. Now I’m going to start! The birthday throne is the best.

  13. DOLLY SARRIO says:

    I can tell you my grandparents and great grandparents didn’t give two hoots if anything matched! Our most memorable moments were spent in their homes too!

  14. Sharon says:

    Thank you for this post – it is a reminder that all of us have some chips and cracks and to focus on the “little” things and be forever grateful

  15. Denise says:

    you brought a smile to my face reading this! oh and yes, I have a close relative that nothing I do or even say is right, so I can totally understand what you were talking about. thankfully that relative now lives over 2000 miles away. :) but I have a lot of mismatched things in my house and I love them because I know they were once loved by someone else and now they are loved by ME!

  16. Marilyn says:

    I agree with your choice of a favorite plate. It looks like the Friendly Village set we have. There are a few different scenes in various sets. Our house is never picture perfect. Happy Birthday to your aunt. God Bless her.
    Marilyn

  17. Denise says:

    Your post spoke to my heart. My headspace and heart have been lately all about embracing the imperfect. Perfection is an illusion and unattainable. Being my best self with a heart a full of love and spreading that love both within my home and out of it is my focus. We haven’t had our friends round our place ever, we rent, and have all the mismatched decor. But after reading your post I’m thinking it’s time to just invite our friends and enjoy their company, freeing myself from the pressure of appearances and embracing life as it is, as I am, chipped avd broken and scarred.
    I drive our old rusty beaten up Ute and I love it, why, because it’s just like me – perfectly imperfect. I’m also reading now a book on embracing me as I am now, with no expectations of trying to turn back the clock, but accepting my body changes, mental and life’s seasons I’m in Now.
    Thank you and I picked out the same plate as you – great minds think alike . Here’s to happier days embracing our wonderful lives as is.

  18. Marlene Capelle says:

    Love your mismatched life. Do you ever see a child who dressed him/herself for the day.?Not only does nothing match, it might not even fit. Do you ever see that child crying and feeling embarrassed about how they look? How did we forget how to be a child? It’s the joy of being that counts. By the way I would have picked the plate with the biggest rim so it would hold more food. Don’t care what it looks like. Thanks for the blog.

  19. winnie Jackson says:

    I love the pewter plate along with historical ladder back chairs must be in wood and stained or with milk paint. I love primitive/antique furniture and accessories in our home. l am bless to have old quilts/paintings, etc. I also have reproductive furniture pieces. I always say the home reflects the owners as they decorate. I grew up with these items and have a great love for them still. I really enjoyed your column today. thank you for reaching out to all of us with many fond memories of our lives. Sincerely, Winnie Jackson

  20. Rene Marie Foust says:

    I love mismatched plates chairs and napkins, I keep a china cabinet (a thrift store find) in my barn full of mismatched china. When the weather is nice I host book clubs and girls night dinners in my barn and I use all of my mismatched items and it always looks so pretty and elegant.

    I picked the same plate, it gives me the feeling of a cozy home.

    Have a great day
    Rene

  21. SuewPA says:

    I love this! I put the pressure for everything to be “perfect” on myself. I have been trying to let that go the last few years, and be OK with that. It’s a process…

  22. Mary Murray says:

    You have a gift for saying just what we need to hear…thank you! I’m not where you are yet…although I know it’s what I need to do. I still go into a frenzy when someone is coming over. I think so many blogs and magazines show us what appears to be perfect and it feels like a competition…the race is on! Our daughter is graduating and I know we’ll have visitors…oh how the panic is setting in, so your advice is right on time. I know someone like you mentioned…judging each room and feeling more than comfortable commenting on the imperfections. Lesson learned for me? It was time to move away from people like that and find true friends…those who will find dishes in the sink or laundry to fold (and will easily admit they have the same) and love me anyway!

  23. Loreta Hazel says:

    I loved your blog the as is. I havent seen much on Facebook I miss you. There is so much politics on we hardly have time for friends. Love you

  24. Linda says:

    Congratulations! You’re on your way to happiness and contentment that even the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, found elusive! I love thrift stores and all their treasures! I also hate paper plates! Who are you saving the “good stuff” for? I can pretty well guarantee that the queen will never visit! Friends and family are who matters! You go, girl! Love your posts.

  25. Brenda says:

    I SO needed that! I am learning the same thing. It’s easier to remember about things than people, (both myself and others.) For my husband’s sake, I wish I had learned this a long time ago, as I’m sure the more I practice this, the easier I’ll be to live with! Thanks for the encouragement, Rebekah!

  26. Kathy Hansen says:

    At almost 70 yrs. old I am finally taking the advice I gave friends when coming to visit their farmhouses. “I am coming to see you, not your house, so don’t fuss.” They always tell me that my house feels so homey, even with the never ending mud/dirt on floor from dogs, husband, and visiting grandkids. Life is so much more than the things and ideas we hold on to. Thank you for sharing!

  27. Angie Dobberstein says:

    Rebekah, You put into words what I have always felt. Thank you for the reminder. I’m sitting here in the hospital with my brother who nearly lost his life and your story helped me gain that little extra strength I needed today. Thank you.

  28. I enjoy this website nice comments on there I and old Country gal like what I do.

    I brought up 3 boys and twin girls. I rather raise boys couple of them treat me pretty decent. The girls were some thin else. One was a smart ads. But they are my girls.

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