“My painting lesson didn’t go very well” I said to my husband. Not too long ago, while browsing in our local bookstore, I came upon a book called Everyday Watercolor. As I thumbed through it, I felt a surge of hope and excitement. It builds lesson by lesson, starting with the basics, for 30 days, and at the end, you should have a couple of completed pieces.
You see, I want to be artistic so badly I can hardly stand it. The trouble is that I have absolutely zero artistic talent. The thing that stirred my excitement was this statement by the author, Jenna Rainey:
“If you think you’re not creative or a painter, crumple up that lie and throw it in the trash, because we are all made to be creators.”
Maybe, just maybe, I could do this! I purchased the book and ordered a basic set of watercolors from Amazon, and I’ve been going through my lessons. On this particular day, my lesson was learning to paint leaves.
My husband took a look at my little page of leaves and said, “What’s wrong with them? They look okay to me.” “They don’t look like hers. Take a look in the book and see what they’re supposed to look like” was my reply.
Now, they definitely were not great leaves – after all, this was only lesson number six, but if you didn’t look at hers first, they could at least pass for what they were supposed to be….maybe.
As I was thinking about the problems I was having later, I realized that sometimes our self-care plans can be the same way those leaves were. They might not look exactly like someone else’s (and in fact, they shouldn’t), but they work for us.
As I talked about in Self-Care Plans, Our Roadmap, having an overarching self-care plan in place can help us be aware of what we need to do to feel the best we can, and although we may not always be able to stick to our plan, it will help give us direction and serve as motivation to keep moving forward when we just don’t feel like it.
Our plans don’t have to be elaborate or follow some template; they just need to include those things that we know will help us move toward feeling better.
The most important thing is just that they include what works for us. Each person is unique, with individual preferences, needs, and abilities. What works for one person might not work for another.
For instance, in one of the groups I belong to, someone asked if we still believe in schedules since we became ill. Of course, the answers were varied – some of us (like yours truly here) feel we absolutely need a schedule, even if we can’t always follow it, and others don’t want to put that kind of pressure on themselves. Each answer was the correct answer; it was what worked best for each person.
When we’re first faced with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and we start looking for answers, we’re often bombarded with all kinds of advice: avoid this food, eat this particular diet, do this type of exercise, etc. It can get confusing, and when we try some of these things and they don’t work for us, we become discouraged. We may even start to feel hopeless if we’re not starting to feel any better.
If that’s where you are, I’d like to encourage you to keep going; keep trying new things. Find those things that work for you. Make a plan that fits your personality and style. It doesn’t need to look exactly like someone else’s to be effective; it just needs to fit your needs.
You know your body better than anyone else, and you are the one who knows what works for you and what doesn’t.
Learning to thrive in spite of your illness really does take a lot of trial and error, but it is so worth the work you put in. We may never be healed, but we can still have a full, enjoyable life filled with purpose.
Do you have a self-care plan? Have you ever fallen into the “comparison trap” with your plan? Please share!