Wednesday Missive: What a Self-Care Lifestyle Looks Like

Hello Darlings,

First thing: Check out my newest podcast with blogger and podcaster Myrrhanda Novak. We discuss what it means to be an integrated woman and how feminism and Christianity can fit together. Also, Myrrhanda shares the experience of losing her 16 month-old son and the self-care that helped her through this immensely difficult period. It was a profound conversation that I hope you enjoy!

Second: I’m teaching an in-person workshop on Self-Care for Overwhelmed Parents (with kids ages 0-6) at Circle Yoga in Washington, DC on Sunday, June 9th from 3 to 5pm. Learn more and sign up here!

And now, today...

For almost five years now, I’ve been writing about the many definitions and implications of self-care. At the beginning, I might have told you that I would someday run out of things to say on the subject or at least get bored in the process in trying.

However, it’s the opposite. The more I explore self-care, the more entranced I am by the subject. The deeper the rabbit hole becomes, the more fascinated I am by the journey into it.

I love how many ways we can use self-care to navigate our lives. We can use self-care to get through the hardness of heartbreak. Or, we can use it to accept our sexuality more fully. Perhaps most important of all, we can use it as a way to engage in a self-aware social justice practice (as this amazing graphic by Bobbie Harro on the Cycle of Liberation shows).

Today, as I appreciate the myriad of ways we can approach self-care, I’m getting extra macro with my lens. With the following broad swath of 80 indicators, I describe what an overall lifestyle of self-care looks like to me. I may use this as the response the next time someone asks me, “So, what exactly is self-care?” (A questions I always love to receive!)

A Lifestyle of Self-Care

Consume mindfully
Shop in your own closet
Cook your own food
Try new recipes
Eat the leftovers
Compost the leftovers of the leftovers
Bring your own container
Refuse most everything that doesn’t serve a function
Buy secondhand
Give your things away
Insist on beauty  
Question capitalism
Create art of any kind
shitty first drafts
Remember that dreams never die (they just hibernate while we’re busy)
If you are able, walk around outside
Look up at the sky
Notice the miracles of the everyday
Create a morning routine
Create an evening routine
Drink room temperature water (especially in the winter)
Notice when you’re overwhelmed
Notice when you’re triggered
Notice when you’ve gone numb
Notice when you need to rest
Breathe more deeply
Dance, when possible
Get excited about the change of seasons
Have specific foods you eat at specific times of year
Touch the earth
Notice patterns
Look forward to things
Cultivate an adventurous state of mind
Plan gatherings
Create intentional warmth
Be festive
Ask questions
Tell stories
Listen to stories
Sit in more circles
See conversation as a teaching tool
Pursue intergenerational friendships
Pursue cross-cultural friendships
Get to know your neighbors
Attend community events
Chat with strangers
Pay people well (if you’re in DC,
check out this cleaning service that pays a living wage)
Be honest about what is important to you
Exercise your vulnerability
Use social media in a generative way
Go easier on yourself
Be intentional with whom you spend your time
Be willing to let go of relationships that have run their course
Learn the generative power of
occasionally fucking it all up
Give and receive feedback
Make personal growth a very high priority
Get excited about learning new things (always)
Celebrate yourself in progress
Demand an inspired life
Be thorough in everything you do
Stay in the herenowherenowherenow (notice when you wander, but don’t make it a big deal)
Feel your feelings
Experience your feelings in front of other people
Feel your grief about the past
Feel your rage at the status quo
Feel your fear about the future
Feel your powerlessness to change other people
Feel your faith and hopefulness anyway
Move forward anyway
Take risks in the name of social justice
Acknowledge your privilege, every single day
Hold people accountable, including yourself
Read books by people who don’t look or think like you
Promote women of color
Ask yourself who is not in the room who should be
Listen to those who hold less power than you in society and believe them
Take responsibility and clean up your messes
Take leadership over your life
Take leadership in our world
Inspire others to do the same


Thanks for reading. What resonates for you? What did I leave out? What do you disagree with? What big and small ways do you experience self-care working in your life and out in our world? How can we become more holistic in how we understand self-care?

Whatever your list, its contents are deeply important. I hope you can celebrate yourself for the self-care you’re already doing while courageously leaning into the actions that are calling to you next. Because really, we never get self-care done. It’s just not a box we just check off or something we fit into our weekends.

Truly, it’s everything. It’s our communication. It’s our relationships. It’s our politics. It’s our environment. It’s our world. Self-care is really freaking important.

Understanding this importance, we can keep moving in the direction of our beautiful selves. We can wake up with great care, do our best to live our days with great care, and put ourselves to sleep with great care.

We can surround ourselves with other amazing spirits who support us through the shaky parts of growth. Together, we can learn to truly love and value ourselves. In the process, we mature as human beings and become the role models that others look to in times of stress.

After we’ve spent a while on the path, we look up. Things have changed around us. Suddenly, miraculously, we are hit with the understanding that in our pursuit of personal growth, we’ve been shifting the world alongside us. We now have the power to become conscious change agents in our world. The personal becomes the political becomes the personal becomes the political.

This cycle of liberation is what we’re dancing around. This growth of self is why I keep coming back. This conversation reminds me that I’m so deeply grateful to be traveling alongside you.

With care,