“Done is better than perfect,” according to Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In (one of many unread books on my list. More on that another time). It’s a philosophy I have tried to adopt this past year, as I have come to these realizations:
- I am no longer Superwoman
- I can’t do everything
- The things I do manage to do are far from perfect
For a Type A perfectionist, that was a bitter pill to swallow. These realizations come after my years of suffering from Fibromyalgia. I find as I get older it is harder to recover from a “flare” and I really need to make myself a priority if I am going to minimize the number and lengths of flares and remain pain-free.
Fibromyalgia sucks. Not in the kitschy “Disco Sucks” kind of way I used back when I was a kid. I mean it literally sucks the life out of you. September is chronic pain awareness month. I am here to tell you that people that live with chronic pain are all too aware and don’t need a month or even a week or day to remind them. We live with it every single day of our lives. This month is for us to help educate others about what it’s like to live with pain. (Did I mention it sucks?)
I have been in full-on fibro flare for over a week now. I woke up feeling like I had the flu last week. You know, achy, nauseous, virus has taken up residence in your body, hurts to move. Every muscle hurt (newsflash – still does!). Sometimes I think even my hair hurts. I keep wishing I had a full-body heating pad on days when I can’t decide which hurts more – my back, neck, or stomach. And then last week I out of town for work. Nothing like excess nerves and adrenaline (I gave a presentation), a two-hour time difference, and a strange bed and pillow to really kick you when you’re already down.
So I got back home and took a few days off. What did I plan to do? I told myself I would get a massage, a facial, and a pedicure and catch up on some reading; in other words I told myself I would R-E-L-A-X. What did I really do? I ran errands. Oh and I cooked and cleaned and did laundry. You know, all those boring grown-up things we think have to be done every week. (But not DONE PERFECT!) I tried to read a book for a little bit, but my arms hurt so much holding the darn thing that I can usually only manage a few pages at a time. So relaxation and recovery from this flare are still eluding me.
I purchased a few sets of these little inspirational cards from LaraCasey.com last year. (Note: this is not a paid advertisement!) I keep a set on my desk at work and at home, and gave a couple away to some friends. I look at them daily to find strength and my inspirational mantra for the day. Some days it’s “Done is better than perfect” and others it might be “Decide You Can,” as in: “Decide you can get out of bed,” “Decide you can leave the dishes in the sink and get some extra sleep,” or “Decide you can ask for help with the housework.” Simple strategies for taking care of you.
Although September is coming to a close in a few days, the problem of chronic pain isn’t going away. You or someone you know is probably living with chronic pain. Let’s try to do something some thing nice for ourselves or our loved ones. Offer to cook and clean up afterwards. Or perhaps go to the grocery store for them. Or draw them a hot bath so they can soak in a tub, relax, and breathe. And most importantly, let those people you know who suffer know that you understand and you care, and that it’s alright if everything isn’t always perfect.
Do you have strategies to share for taking care of you or a loved one when they are suffering? Have you done something lately to take care of you? I am taking Fridays off for the rest of year because I have time I have to burn. Oh, and I finally made that massage appointment!