I know that traditionally February is the month of love, and its hard not to become exhausted by the cacophony of red love hearts, heartfelt and comedy cards and commercialised tatt that adorns every window display, whether you are in a romantic relationship or not the whole furore around it feels rather superficial, as though is all ‘show and once you unravel the red ribbon or unwrap the shiny cellophane something much darker may lie underneath. Perhaps it’s me just being a big bah humbug because I have somehow never managed to be with anyone who ‘does romance’ I remember wistfully hearing of a friend who had been taken to Morocco by a guy who was trying to woo her, apparently he had strewn rose petals over the bed, ordered champagne and chocolates, but it ended in tears, she was trying to give up sugar and alcohol and unusually – hates the smell of roses. Hey ho.
My top suggestion is that we reclaim February as the month of ‘self-love’ a time to check in whether we really are practicing self-care. I also think its OK not to be OK, we can accept that we have imperfections and appreciate ourselves anyway.
I wrote my first book Imperfectly Natural Woman over 13 years ago now, it was an Amazon number one best seller (after a national radio interview) and whilst being a bit ahead of my time, (I was writing about kale before it had its own publicist!) I think it struck a chord because of my use of my word ‘imperfectly’ You see in our quest for happiness, optimum health, success and abundance all of us at our core know that we are a little bit ‘flawed’ and unlikely to get everything right, especially first time around. As someone who is a Hay House author and has interviewed many spiritual leaders I am well versed in the ‘I am enough’ thinking and the importance of self-love, but I am still acutely aware of my own imperfections and failings and find it hard to reconcile that if I tell myself enough that I am perfect – lo and behold I will be. More and more people are bringing skeletons out of their closet and admitting to suffering from anxiety and depression. It’s easy to be fooled by social media into thinking that everyone is living the dream with their instagram filtered lifestyle, so when even high flying celebs open up and admit they have down days and black dog moments everyone can finally breathe and admit ‘me too’. If you run your own business it can feel especially lonely to be constantly comparing yourself to others in your field, its highly likely your inner critic will be having a field day reminding you of your imperfections and ensuring that you go deep into despair…when you aren’t putting a brave face on it for the camera.
Last year on Steve Wright in the afternoon on BBC Radio 2 we interviewed Zen Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim on his lovely book The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down. Now he is back with a #1 internationally bestselling book of spiritual wisdom about learning to love ourselves, with all our imperfections, it’s called Love for Imperfect Things; How to accept yourself in a world striving for perfection. He said ‘Hearing the words Be good to yourself first, then to others was like being struck by lightning’
Many of us respond to the pressures of life by turning inward and ignoring problems, sometimes resulting in anxiety or depression. Others react by working harder at the office, at school, or at home, hoping that this will make ourselves and the people we love happier. But what if being you is enough? Just as we are advised on airplanes to take our own oxygen first before helping others, we must first be at peace with ourselves before we can be at peace with the world around us. Haemin argues that only by accepting yourself and the flaws that make you who you are, can you have compassionate and fulfilling relationships with your partner, your family, and your friends.
And what do I really mean by ‘imperfectly natural’? Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying its ok to opt for the chemical version of everything shouting ‘I forgive myself I’m imperfect’ I am uber passionate about encouraging people to look for the natural alternative in everything, because nature has provided us with pretty much everything we need and the good news is we don’t have to sacrifice.
My book title ‘Look Great Naturally without ditching the lipstick’ said it really, we can still look and feel great but without causing harm to the environment, our personal health and wellbeing, and in most cases – our wallet. The ‘imperfect’ bit comes in because I’m not a saint (saint Janey doesn’t have quite the right ring to it I know) I am not as dark green as I should be, I definitely don’t manage to recycle everything (massively confusing bin systems where I live) and I am partial to some sugar, especially if it’s in the form of a chocolate ginger biscuit with a flat white…but I do the bits I can. I recognise that at least with the products I choose to bring into my home, I can opt for the ones without artificial fragrance, petroleum, hormone disrupting chemicals and volatile organic compounds, all of which are not only detrimental to personal health but also to aquatic life once they end up in the ocean…its actually easy and far cheaper to clean your home without chemicals (more of that in next month’s Step into Spring blog) and treat yourself to gorgeous organic skincare that is kind to the planet too. As with everything, start small, try a natural deodorant, make yourself a face mask with raw cacao and coconut oil (all the indulgence without the guilt) but don’t panic if you can’t clear out every bathroom cabinet and replace everything at once, one of my favourite sayings is You don’t have to get it right, but you do have to get it going..
Throughout February and beyond, I suggest you notice the negative thoughts, accept and embrace your imperfections and ask yourself what can I do to really care for myself? Choose your top selfcare treats and go after them, for me it’s a walk by the sea, (even in Winter) so that is going to have to be scheduled into the diary. It might be a lovely hot bath with some essential oils or persuading someone else to make dinner while you give yourself a lovely relaxing facial.
If you want some self-care inspiration heres some gorgeous products to get you started.
Alteya’s Pure Organic Rose Water is 100 per cent pure natural organic Bulgarian flower water, use as a toner or spritz on your face, or even on your pillow
Give yourself a lovely glass heart-shaped bottle of organic bath/body/massage oil which is blended with essential oils, decadent rich, hydrating oil for bathing, moisturising or massaging. LJ’s natural solutions https://www.lj-natural.com/
Then there is this romantic assortment from Rosina’s Lotions and Potions. With the scent of Kale and Pomegranate Face Mask and a Signature rose-scented candle. www.rosinaslotionsandpotions.com
Janey Lee Grace is the author of five books on holistic living, and has recently pubished You are the Brand, she offers media coaching, PR strategy sessions for holistic brands and professionals and her recommendations can be found at www.imperfectlynatural.com