I woke up this morning – the morning of my 40th birthday – and I didn’t feel my best. I could feel a hint of bronchitis lingering at the bottom of my lungs and although it hadn’t set, I was already feeling the malaise and fatigue. Was this how I imagined I would start my 40s? No. Was this how I wanted to start my new decade of life? No. Was I going to let this less-than-perfect start determine the course of the rest of the year? Ah, that’s an interesting question.

It was actually 3 days ago that I started to feel a bit of an anxiety attack coming on. If I sat down right there and then and compared the list of where I wanted to be when I was 40 (made a decade ago) to where I was right now, it wouldn’t match. That mismatch was making me panic. Was I failure? If I couldn’t accomplish the things I had wanted to in the past 10 years, then what chance was I going to have of ever getting them done?

I was really dwelling on my ‘failures’ when I realized, thanks to the help of D, that I was being silly. The reason why I couldn’t check off items on my ‘to-do-by-40’ list was because the list had changed over time. Ten years ago I would not have foreseen how important jiu-jitsu would be in my life. That means that I would not have added being a Blue Belt or being an instructor to my list of expectations. At that time in my life I did not know that I would be living in London – so everything I have accomplished since living here would also not have been on my list. So what was I still doing holding on to this old checklist? Against what frame of reference was I chasing ‘perfect’?

I spend the last week fighting off a feeling of dread – not that I was getting older, I actually have no problem with my age – but rather it was the dread of disappointment. While I do think it’s good to have high expectations of yourself, it’s also important to combine that with a healthy sense of self. While I may not have been able to tick off everything on my list, there are so many more things that I have accomplished that I never thought I would.

I’m so glad I was able to shake off that dreadful mindset.

So on the morning of my 40th birthday I woke up with a smile. Sure I was sniffling, but still, I was determined to make this day and each one to follow perfect. It was the first birthday I didn’t start by stepping on the scale – seriously, what’s the point of starting off my new year with a number that really has no significant meaning. I mean, regardless of what the scale was going to say I know that I was going to continue exercising and doing my best to eat healthily. If those good habits were part of my lifestyle, was the number on the scale really significant? Just that shift in mindset alone showed me how much I had changed and how a new attitude can lead you towards new forms of perfect.

And indeed, I did have a perfect day. My morning with D, afternoon with family, evening with students, training partners, and friends. What more could I ask for? It was a day full of laughter and love — and yes, there were sniffles, but still, it was a perfect day.

I think it is easy to get caught up in the idea of ‘perfect’ meaning that everything is just right, including all the circumstances. However, one thing that life has taught me is that there rarely are perfect circumstances — but that does not mean the day itself cannot be perfect. Instead of chasing an overall perfect, I’m celebrating the perfect within each moment – from the perfect cup of coffee to the perfect hug to the perfect smiling faces of people I interact with. It’s all good. It’s all perfect. There is nothing left to chase, only enjoy, celebrate, and love.

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I had the perfect Jr Grapplers class – filled with wonderful students, laughter, and love

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instead of a fancy dinner I chose jiu-jitsu — but I brought my heels along with me

It was a perfect day.