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Self-care: Embracing Boundaries, Imperfection & the Need for Chocolate

A group of five middle aged women having fun, laughing and running along the beach in the water at the shore line.

Self-care: Embracing Boundaries, Imperfection & the Need for Chocolate

“Self-care is how you take your power back.”

~Lalah Delia

Self-care is a term that has gained a lot of popularity recently. What does self-care mean? If you Google it you will get a long list of links to articles, blogs, websites, and on and on. And, you will also get many different perspectives on what self-care is and what it includes. Therefore, let’s just say self-care is whatever each of us individually decides “taking good care of ourselves” means. We must determine what it feels like to be well emotionally, physically and spiritually within ourselves. Then we must determine what situations and actions lead to that feeling. I don’t think self-care is a list of activities. The activities are what helps us experience a greater feeling of self-care.

For me self-care is about living life in a way that increases my overall sense of emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. I have identified the need to set personal and professional boundaries and to more fully embrace imperfection on my journey to good self-care. And, I also recognize that sometimes some good dark chocolate just makes me feel good. 

A spiral bound booklet on a colorful background with words (physical, spiritual, social, emotional and intellectual) extending outward from encircled 'self-care' in the center.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

~Anne Lamott

Setting boundaries is a concept many have difficulty with. It’s that line in the proverbial sand. It is knowing your limits.

I go way back to when I was in university studying to become a social worker. Several of our professors emphasized the importance of “leaving work and your clients at work”. We learned that it might be necessary to create a ritual for leaving work at work. For many years this was the process of taking my client files and putting them safely into the file drawer and saying we will start again tomorrow or on Monday.

Those who work in fields where they deal with the emotional challenges of life and with people who are struggling need a way to separate themselves so they can have a space to renew and re-energize in order to continue the efforts needed to make a positive impact in others’ lives. The pandemic and working from home has created new challenges to setting boundaries with work. I work from a home office. At the end of the day I shut down my computer and leave my home office. 

Setting boundaries in relationships is also critical. We all need people, but we need people who have a positive influence in our lives. No, we absolutely cannot control or set boundaries around every person in our life-or in our care. We may have children we are raising or older parents we are caring for. These are situations we cannot change-nor would we want to. However, if there are toxic people in our lives that totally drain our energy we can decide to not spend time with them, to spend way less time, and even to manage the time we spend. 

Black & white image of the word 'Boundaries' is stamped on a white brick wall.

“When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening.”

~Madeleine L’Engle

Setting boundaries with our time is also important. I will admit that I tend to be a person who over-commits. And, since I am a person who is dedicated to honoring my commmitments, I have found myself overwhelmed.

The older I get, and the more concerned I become with my own self-care, the more careful I am about making commitments. I have also come to understand the value of solitude and just spending time alone with myself occasionally. In other words, I am getting better about knowing what is really important to me and setting boundaries.

A middle aged woman is taking a break from her gardening by laying on her back with a big smile on her face. She's on the grass among a number of colorful flowers and plants.

“Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.”

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Embracing imperfection for a life-long perfectionist is difficult… but I am dedicated to it. Recently I have taken up activities that I absolutely know I will never be perfect-or even good-at, I am intentionally embracing imperfection. It is not an attitude of good enough, it is an attitude of I am going to give that a try or do that anyway, even if I know it will not be perfect.

I can do things for fun. My art is not for sale because it is not good enough… but also because if I felt it had to be good it would not be fun or relaxing. What would you like to try if you could live with not being good at it… just for fun?

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”

~Anna Quindlen

And, of course, sometimes you just need a little chocolate. We keep ourselves from so many wonderful things… but maybe we should let that go and when it is necessary accept that it is good for us. 

We can find great beauty when we boldly embrace caring for ourselves.

By Sylvia Stinson-Perez

Connecting With Sylvia:

Author Bio:

The author’s bio photo is a glam photo of Sylvia in a pink dress with spaghetti straps. Her hair is in a fancy updo with a pink flower on the left of her bun.
Sylvia Stinson-Perez

Sylvia Stinson-Perez has spent her career in the blindness field, and is the Chief Programs Officer for the American Foundation for the Blind. Sylvia believes the authentic shared experience of living with vision loss can lead to the development of bold confidence in living with blindness. She loves helping others find their beauty and courage on this journey.

Sylvia has Master’s degrees in Social Work, Visual Disabilities Rehabilitation, and Business Administration. Sylvia is blind as a result of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), however, she believes that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their potential.

Sylvia is a wife, a mother, a friend, an advocate, and a professional dedicated to making a positive difference. She enjoys reading, cooking, travel, crocheting, writing and public speaking, and time with loved ones.

Image Descriptions:

  • A group of five middle aged women having fun laughing and running along the beach in the water at the shore line.
  • A spiral bound booklet on a colorful background with words (physical, spiritual, social, emotional and intellectual) extending outward from encircled ‘self-care’ in the center.
  • Black & white image of the word ‘Boundaries’ is stamped on a white brick wall.
  • A middle aged woman is taking a break from her gardening by laying on her back with a big smile on her face. She’s on the grass among a number of colorful flowers and plants.
  • The author’s bio photo is a glam photo of Sylvia in a pink dress with spaghetti straps. Her hair is in a fancy updo with a pink flower on the left of her bun.
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