Perfection Paralysis


Some people’s conscience sound like their moms. For some, it’s their fitness coach. For others, Morgan Freeman (aka God). For me, it’s been Dana White (at least for the past week). From the cover, it looks like a book about how to stay on top of your dishes – which it is. But what I didn’t expect is how it surfaced some weird ideas about my significance. This book is night and day from other home management books/blogs/articles I’ve read because she gets the inner mind of slobs. Like millions of people around the world, I too have KonMari’ed parts of my home but for me, having fewer stuff did not translate into my home staying clean and tidy. I totally admire what Marie Kondo does, but part of me isn’t that impressed because she’s been an organizer since she was a child! It’s like watching Usain Bolt compete on Biggest Loser, Thomas Keller on Chopped, or John Krasinski on the next season of The Bachelorette. (Maybe that last reference a little too Candy-centric) There’s something magical about seeing someone go against ever fiber of their being. Enter Dana White.

Early in the book she confessed how she found out that people were actually selling empty toilet paper rolls on eBay. She was so excited that free money was literally sitting in her bathroom she devised a plan to get her family on board to help her save enough toilet paper rolls to sell. She cleared some space in her vanity to put an empty box and asked her family to remember to put empty rolls in the box. Two months passed and she only had 2 rolls in the box. However the space that box took up in the vanity caused a cascade of clutter. Was it really worth the $10 on eBay she would’ve gotten for all the hassle of collecting empty rolls? She also talked about how she often tries to wash her dishes perfectly – air-drying the items that need extra TLC. However this ended up with a pile of dishes that were perpetually being air-dried because air-drying takes time and putting away dishes takes time and eventually, it becomes easier to just pull from the pile on your counter. The knife hit my heart when she said “sometimes worrying about doing something the best way keeps me from doing anything.” UGH. YES. ME.

Being a self-proclaimed ENFJ, I had to dutifully dig into my soul as to why I felt so paralyzed by perfection. Yes, I’m sure it’s partly a neurosis. But as I thought about it more, I realized I had this unhealthy obsession about things being done consistently and perfectly. Somehow I must’ve believed that if it couldn’t be done consistently and perfectly, it wasn’t worth doing. What was even more peculiar was that I 100% own the fact that I am inconsistent and imperfect… so why is it so surprising to me that things I do are inconsistent and imperfect? Insert the emoji with the chin resting between the thumb and index finger here.

Once I realized this, I immediately saw how unnecessarily dramatic I was being about so many things in my life. Let me just name six.

  • I am now 7 months behind blogging about Charlie. Should I just start at month 9? That doesn’t seem right! Okay, I’ll go on a blogging marathon for months 3-8. Crap I can’t even remember what happened in those months. POOR SECOND CHILD. Insert Perfection Paralysis.
  • I want to read this new book! Yikes, I still have 10 books I haven’t finished.
  • I would love to make a photo book of our 2017 summer. But I haven’t done our 2016 photobook and our wedding images are still sitting on 2 DVDs. I am tired just thinking about this.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about Charlottesville. And the Google Memo. And diversity. And unity. I have a draft that I started after Ferguson. That was 2014. Where does one even start Equity 101?!
  • Hello laundry that needs to be folded. You know what will be perfect? Folding you after the kids go to bed while watching Black-ish. Perfection (or Optimization) Paralysis.
  • I need to get some fresh fruit. I have some time right now but you know what, I will wait for the Mountain View farmer’s market that’s only on Sundays from 9am-1pm. They have the BEST STUFF.

There is a time and place for precision and sure, we can call it perfection – like calculating the re-entry path for Freedom 7. No one would fault you there. However I think you would all agree with me that the things I listed above would not fall under that category. For 95% of the things I put off, my quality of life would be significantly improved if they were just done rather than perfectly done.

As a teacher, I would always have a major freak out every time I wanted to change a routine in my classroom after the first day of school. Whether it was as major as a grading system or pushing up/back a date I had committed to, in my mind, I imagined my students organizing a coup, overturning desks and burning papers because MS. SOHN CHANGED HER MIND AND NOW HER CLASS SYLLABUS IS VOID. Yet 10 out of 10 times I admitted to changing my mind, they would barely even look up and just rolled with it. Humans are incredibly inconsistent and yet incredibly resilient.

I want to come up with a better ending to this post, but that would mean saving and coming back to it later (which by now you should know means never). So here is me taking a baby step to ending paralysis.

Pressing the Publish button in 3…2…1….


Addicted to Squirreling Part 2

If I have learned one thing from watching HGTV, it’s that my house can’t be clean without getting rid of stuff. This fact is exacerbated by my other guilty TV pleasure – Hoarders on TLC. I’ve never seen an episode where the hoarder was also clean. It just doesn’t happen! No one has ever made the connection cleanliness with minimalism but it makes so much sense!

This summer I played a mind game with myself and pretended that I was moving/the world was ending/I am renting out our home to Martha Stewart and proceeded to purge. I decided to purge before I made this blog so I didn’t have the foresight to take lots of pictures. (please excuse the Google image search results of the first two pictures) Here are some things we’ve hung onto for YEARS because we were certain it would be useful:


Idea: Bringing this into the classroom and plugging it in so my students could listen to running water while they work quietly. Clearly I am delusional. Reality: If this was in my classroom, it would most certainly mean water fights every day. Verdict: Sunnyvale Goodwill.

Idea:  Every time I would have guests stay over, I would place a set of amenities that I had saved from my last trip. Reality: Aint nobody got time for that. And often times these hotel shampoos don’t lather very well and they have weird scent combos like mandarin almond ginger. Great dessert idea, not so great for hair. I ended up buying full-size bottles of Garnier Fructis for the guest bath. It’s pleasant, gender-neutral and makes great suds. Verdict: Hauled my ten pound stock pile to Sunnyvale Community Services
Idea: It’s no secret that this guy has significantly changed shape in the last two years. Well both of us have a hard time letting go of our “fat” clothes because you know… what if we decide crossfit really is cuckoo and stop one day? Tim had a second closet FULL of dress shirts (this one here was a slim fit), nice jeans and sweaters. Reality: Even if we find ourselves fitting into these clothes again, we probably will have changed in our taste. Verdict: Almaden Goodwill.

I may have to make this an S family tradition. I love purging! I ended up taking 1.5 car loads to GoodWill filled with household goods, bags, purses, clothes, shoes and board games.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Purge frequently.
  2. Make an effort to know what is in your house so you don’t buy things you don’t need.
  3. Buy less. But if you do do buy, make sure it’s quality so it can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

Addicted to Squirreling Part 1

Some of you may know that I grew up as a Pastor’s Kid (PK). There are many great things about being a PK. There are also core competencies you gain being a PK. I grew up constantly having people over at our house so much so that I can’t remember a single Thanksgiving that was just “us.” One of the best skills you can acquire if you are to be a PK is to be an excellent picker-upper. It was not uncommon that mom would get off the phone and say “Auntie _____ (in Chinese custom, you always call other adults aunties and uncles no matter how unrelated/related you are) is coming over! And we as kids just knew, it was time to haul butt hide all the $%^ around the house. I mean yes, of course it would have been nice to really clean, but aint nobody got time for that!

I got to be the best damn squirrel-er in San Diego. Dinner table a mess? No problem, stack the papers and put them on the seats. Unfolded laundry all over the couch? Throw them in a basket and hide it in an unsuspecting person’s room. Honest to God this is what I thought cleaning was because that’s how we would roll growing up!

See how I have feigned orderliness with the help of the humble and yet glorious basket.

Display shelves behind the dining table.ImageUnder the coffee table.


In the entertainment unit!


On the other side of the coffee table!


A whole piece of furniture with little drawers built in!

Every family has their junk drawer. That is totally reasonable. In fact if you didn’t have one, I’m 99% sure you have control issues. I had 18. Prior to the start of summer, I swear that every single one of those baskets was filled with crap. What kinda crap?

  • Tangled Nokia/Motorola phone chargers.
  • Appliance manuals
  • 43 cent stamps (we are at 46 cents now)
  • Random foreign currency (Rupees, Wons, Euros, Hong Kong Dollars)
  • Gel pens, Markers, Binder Clips, Paper clips, Hair Ties
  • Random nails and screws
  • 6 nail clippers

It wasn’t until I got married that my house of cards came crashing down. It was bad. Tim would ask, “Hey Candy! Have you seen that bill from the HOA?” “Give me a sec. * Rummages through baskets* TaDAH! It was in Wicker Basket Number 3!!” This happens every. week. Thankfully Tim hasn’t gotten too annoyed at his squirrel of a wife yet because this squirrel still has a fantastic memory. But when I found Tim’s PhD Diploma next to my Laura Ingalls Wilder collection, I had to come to grips with the reality that:

  1. I suck at organizing. (Tragic for someone who thinks she’s a J according to Myers-Briggs)
  2. I can’t go on like this!!!!

And because of it, we inaugurated the S family tradition of THE PURGE. (to be continued)