We’ve probably all heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, if that’s true, then 2 pictures must be worth 2 thousand words. And in my case, that’s certainly true!
As part of our mission at Intentional Therapist, we are often looking for opportunities to embrace playfulness and creativity, including finding objects that remind us of the importance of these characteristics within our self-care activities. One of the items we recently found was a kit including a very small planter with a cute picture of a cat and some seeds to grow grass.
For me, this object represented a number of important pieces of my self-care, namely, the importance of connecting with the outdoors, appreciating the cute and funny aspects of life, and remembering that all ideas and habit changes start off by the act of “planting a seed” and then letting it grow.
When I first purchased my kit, I enthusiastically planted the seeds, regularly tended to it, and was thrilled when some seeds started to sprout. Over the next several weeks, I continued to admire and care for it on a daily basis. Clearly my attention to this plant paid off, as it rewarded me with lush green grass! (see the 'before' photo above)
Unfortunately, shortly after that my caregiving responsibilities for my elderly parents increased considerably and I had to let some things go (including reducing my work hours) in order to make room for my new reality.
One evening, after spending another long day at the hospital, I arrived home and for some reason my eyes seemed to be drawn to my plant - or what used to be my plant! To be honest, I hadn’t really thought much about it over the past several weeks and its appearance was certainly a reflection of that! (see the 'after' photo below)
It immediately got me thinking about what else I had been ignoring over the past several weeks. I had been pretty good at maintaining regular (okay, well mostly regular) meals, getting enough rest, and regularly connecting with my main support (my wonderful husband!). What was missing, however, was the connection with nature, playfulness, and creativity. Over the next several weeks I made a conscious effort to look for small ways to fit these into my week such as intentionally taking some 10-minute breaks from hospital visits to sit outside, spending 10 or 20 minutes working on my yard, and seeking out some opportunities to laugh and smile.
What inevitably followed were feelings of guilt - which I did my best to quell with self-compassion. Even as simple as 'It's okay that some days I am feeling the way my plant looks', or, 'It's okay to take some time to tend to myself', or, 'It's okay to have fun even when other things are hard'.
Making those seemingly small changes in my day were by no means easy but did offer additional sources of replenishment, which were definitely needed. A good reminder that self-care isn’t necessarily comfortable, and that’s also okay.
What can you give yourself some extra compassion for this week?