In Defense of Imperfection

I feel like I'm not doing this right! I know I should be better at this, but...

I know this isn't the right way to do this, but...

Everyone take a deep breath. Now, another one. I'm not kidding. Breathe in for a few counts and then out for a few.

THAT WAS SELF-CARE.

So is reading this blog post, in fact. Self-care is, literally, anything you do to take care of yourself. It does NOT mean that it has to be some luxurious thing, it does NOT have to be done alone. The rules are simple: is this an activity you engage in to CARE FOR YOURSELF? If yes, congratulations!

Now - are there some things that will be more effective than others? Yes. Can I tell you what they are? Nope.

But Graeme - you're an expert! This is your job!

Actually, no. My job is to help you figure out what will work best for you. My job is to help you implement those ideas and fine tune them. My job is to assist you in creating and sustaining a self-care practice that helps you thrive.

That may include therapy.

Or exercise.

A change in diet.

Or regular massages.

It may mean learning how to budget.

Or play the tuba.

Setting your bills to auto pay.

Getting a new job.

Or a dog.

Or a partner.

There is so much judgment around self-care, especially in motherhood circles, and it raises my blood pressure every time. So my self-care is writing this post and reminding you that if you are spending time and attention on yourself you are doing it right.

When we begin to change our lives it's scary. We want a roadmap. We want to know that we are doing it "right". I understand. I'm the exact same way. The problem (and the solution) is that there is no one right way. There are only data points.

For a few days, you try putting yourself on a bedtime routine. On the fourth day, you get distracted by Netflix and totally miss your bedtime. Does this mean that the routine doesn't work? Is it a sign that you can't stick with anything? Or does it simply mean that on one night you got distracted?

How do you get back on track? By realizing that you never got off the

By realizing that you never got off the track to begin with. Routines and habits are decisions we have made so many times that we forget we are making them. But they are still decisions. You can always decide to go back to them. Missing your bedtime routine one night (or five in a row) doesn't stop you from doing it tonight. Noticing that it is already an hour past your bedtime doesn't stop you from doing it right now.

You are not getting it wrong.

You aren't screwing it up.

Self-care is not one more arena where we need to strive for perfection. It can be the safe place where you explore the beauty of imperfection.

What happens when you forget to book the massage, but you've already gotten child care?  Maybe you end up going for a walk downtown for an hour or meeting up with a friend. Maybe you take a nap or you go to the gym. Maybe you sit on a bench in a park and simply have time alone, with no one needing anything at all from you, and bask in the ability to hear your own thoughts.

There are a million ways to care for yourself and you are the perfect person to do it.

Graeme Seabrook