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“How are you?” It's a phrase I use a lot at the beginning of a conversation. A lot of people do. But how many times do I listen to the response? “Fine” is usually my answer or “OK.” Even when I’m not. I know that I’m not alone.

Like a lot of people, I feel like I need to have it all together all of the time. I need to be smiling and always pleasant, no matter what is happening around me. But that is an unrealistic expectation that I set up for myself.

The truth is that my life is messy and despite my best efforts – I’m not perfect. No one is.

Last week was another super awful, terrible kind of week, with a series of challenges that made my heart so heavy that I just wanted to sit and cry, but there wasn’t time for that. Instead, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and while I must have looked like I was a character from a zombie movie, many people kept asking “How are you?”

I’m not sure why I decided that last week it was suddenly acceptable for me to not be “fine,” but if you were one of my friends that was the recipient of my verbal vomit - I am so sorry! I think I had probably reached a whole new level of exhaustion because of the expectations I put on myself.

My new favorite blog writer, Erica, creator of Restored Reality said, “I too often allow worldly expectations and my own unrealistic grasp at perfection interfere with my health, wellness and my relationship with God. Sometimes, wellness means accepting that you don’t have it together, and that is OK.”

She writes about having an escape plan for days that are overwhelming as a world famous kick boxer, while simultaneously owning a horse ranch. (I’m still working on my “Plan B”).

She went on to write about the story in the Bible of Mary and Martha reminding me that “Jesus takes you messy, undone and adoring him.”

Sometime in the middle of the week, before it got really ugly, a friend reminded me that as I end conversations I always say something like “take care of yourself.” She then asked me what I was doing in the lines of self-care.

“Well, nothing,” was my answer suggesting that I didn’t have time for that nonsense.

The truth is that I’m much better at preaching than practicing, so I’m committing to “aiming for purpose not perfection. There is no fulfillment in perfection, but there is contentment in progress,” (Restored Reality). I want to make my daily purpose to love God, love others and love myself--my messy, imperfect self.

I invite you to take these five steps in self care with me, found on Restored Reality blog. The following is an abbreviated version.

1. Stop comparing. Our idea of perfection is oftentimes driven based upon what we see in the media and world around us. Stop measuring your worth from hopeless comparison.

2. Recognize your strengths. The best way to love yourself better is to celebrate those strong attributes that make you unique.

3. Celebrate your strengths. We so often focus on our flaws that we forget to highlight our strengths. Take time to celebrate those strengths you have and worry less about making up for those inevitable weaknesses.

4. Verbally affirm yourself. Speak some self-love into existence.

5. Live in your present beauty. Stop trying to fix everything.

Please remember that it’s OK to not be OK.

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