The Real Picture of Perfect

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

It was spring break for my kids last week and while we didn’t have any family vacation planned, I did take a few days off to hang out with the kids. I managed to fit in a mini-getaway for us at a lodge in the middle of a state park, complete with a game room and an indoor water park.

Here’s the typical type of Facebook post you might expect from our adventure:  Beautiful day at Brown County state park, complete with hiking trails and pony rides, splashing at the water park at the lodge, and fun and games in our cozy hotel room. What a perfect day!

But here’s the real deal. 

Everything I said above is true. And.

And… I had warned the kids to be sure to stay on the trail when we went walking, because Brown County State Park is home to rattlesnakes. So the idea that rattlesnakes might be anywhere around us freaked Marlowe out so much that she stopped like every two feet going: “What was that sound? What was that sound?!?!” to the point where about three minutes into our hike we called it a day and turned around.

The pony ride was a “self-guided” one, where the parent just picks out one of the three ponies hitched to a fence, plunks their kid on it, and leads them around the ring (?!?!). However, just as we were walking toward the pony ring, one of the full-sized horses at the stable got loose and took off running, right past us. Needless to say this made us all a bit jumpy, and Marlowe’s fear was immediately magnified by the fact that one of the ponies had also gotten unhitched and was currently biting the neck of one of the other ponies. Needless to say, she decided to let Dylan go first, standing rigid against the fence while I walked him around the ring, and then reluctantly allowed me to put her on the pony for a spin around. I had paid for six laps. We took two.

Then we got to the water park that features one big slide—the highlight of the place. Dylan was ready to check it out… until we found out he was too short to go down. Marlowe saw how fast it went and wanted no parts of it. When we first got in the water it was cold and everyone was resistant. Thankfully, the joy of splashing and playing eventually took over, and though we shivered our way through it, the water did indeed become the highlight of the day (until later that night when I realized that both Dylan and I had red burns on our cheeks from the extensive chlorine in the water).

In our cozy hotel room, the only kids channel was the Cartoon Network, which turns into Adult Swim after 8 pm, so there went the TV, and the internet was spotty on the kids’ iPads… Can you imagine? Nothing to WATCH?!? Whatever would they do? I managed to convince them to play a few rounds of War, Go Fish, and Slamwich, where we finally ended up laughing and cozying up together.  I’m serious, it was a perfect day.

Just not, you know, perfect.    

And herein lies the problem with us and with life.

A brief Facebook post provided an accurate run down of what happened during our day, because let’s face it, nobody wants a novel-length status update. But if I am only ever posting the “Cliff Notes” version of things, then I am painting a picture of “perfect” that is untrue about me and unattainable for anyone else.

So we need to remember this. Perfect, for me anyway, is not about nothing going wrong. Perfect isn’t about everyone getting along every second or me always keeping my cool and being a super mom. Perfect isn’t about looking my best. Perfect isn’t about the kids always being on their absolute best behaviors.

Perfect, for me, is about living fully in each moment, embracing the chaos and the mess. Perfect is just being together. Perfect is showing up. And we might do better for ourselves and each other to show that kind of perfect to each other more often.  

How can you show your real picture of perfect today?

Challenge: ready to share the real picture? Share them in the comments below! Let’s get away from perfect and get to perfect—the perfect around us despite the chaos.



How can you just embrace the Super You today?



Wings & Whimsy Activity:

  • Think of something you’ve either wanted to do or something you’ve wanted to believe about yourself.    Something that nags at you in the quiet of the night or in the face that stares back at you from the mirror.    Maybe it’s in the form of a wish—I wish I could write; I wish I had the courage to go back to school; I wish I could sing in front of a crowd.    Or maybe it’s in the form of an inner critic—I’m not smart enough; I don’t listen to my kids; I’ll never get that promotion; I’m just not funny.   
  • First, make a “dump” list of all those things:
  • Then, pick one to turn around, to say That’s Ridiculous! to…   So, if my first thought was “No one cares to hear my stories,” my turn around would be “My stories are worth telling.”   
  • Write your turnaround sentence on a post it.
  • Better yet, take a whole pack of post-its and write your turnaround sentence on as many of them as you can muster, and post them all around—on your mirror, on your dashboard, on your computer monitor, in your sock drawer, by the coffee machine. Keep them up for one day or one month, but allow yourself to read that sentence over and over.  
  • During this time, write any thoughts or reflections about this activity.


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.