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a different path to self care...

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I have made a pact with myself.

A commitment to awareness.

I was going to say self care, but then decided to swap out that phrase when I looked up the etymology of the word, care:

"sorrow, anxiety, grief…burdens of mind… lament, cry out, call, scream…"

(Put the word ‘self’ in front of each of these, and no wonder it’s difficult to justify and schedule time for it!)

I did a bit more digging for a better word… but instead, came across a different concept that gets at the heart of what I’m reaching for when I engage in what I used to call self care.

But before I head into that, it may be useful to look at what exactly constitutes self care. It’s different for everyone, I think. For me, it tends to either be something I ought to do – like strengthening exercises, meditation, skin products that are organic and moisturizing in high desert climate – or something that gives me joy – like reading, writing, going for a hike (because me doing these things means something won't get done, and that might load a burden on to someone else).

In either case, self care, for me, is about quieting the noise and recalibrating. It tends to require time that has to be carved out. It’s not time that is already in existence.


This new concept encourages me to not fragment my life into categories or in ways that are qualitative. Instead, it suggests there is an art in awareness, an “art in every day life.”

This way suggests intimacy in the daily routines. A noticing. A full body listening without an already formed opinion. A way to honor the details of every moment of living. And in moving through life this way, especially during the pedestrian moments, there can be appreciation. 

“…your instinct is open and has the room to exercise its potentialities into action…” ~ Chögyam Trungpa

In other words, what is it in the way I was living that caused me to feel I needed self care... Why does attending to my physical body feel like something extra rather than standard, daily choices? Where did that get separated out from the other things I daily choose to do? Maybe how I'm carrying out these seemingly small patterns is causing a fatigue or wearing me a bit thin.

I wonder ‘self care’ would be necessary with this approach… I wonder if I'd naturally find enough time in the day to attend to everything and everyone equally. Including myself. 

Theories can be great ideas, but they don’t always work as well in practice. So this weekend, I tried this notion of awareness (over self-care).

Cleaning is absolutely not on my ‘self care’ list, but it is part of the weekend rituals. It seemed like the perfect test for this new approach.

When I focused on awareness, what shifted for me was the burden around the intent. Like cleaning the counters. It became less of an ought to, I was more methodical, less tense, and unexpected gratitude bubbled up. As I cleaned the stove, I appreciated what it does, how it works in our life, and so cleaning was a way to attend to it, to give it its fair due. Doing laundry was similar – there was appreciation for the material, the hands that made it, how each piece holds or clothes us, and I could show respect in the way I handled it.

Cleaning didn’t take any more time than it usually does, but it did take mindfulness, a focus to choose a different way of doing something. My movement was more efficient, and at the end of the day, I didn’t feel like anything was squished. I didn’t feel the need to do anything I didn’t get done. I was ready for the top of the week... and not feeling like I missed out on "me time."

Surprisingly, I still had time to write and read... which I did without any guilt or shame. 

What if there is enough time in a day... what matters is how we move through it? 

always in motion,


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  • Oh, YES, Fia! And as they say in the South, where I was raised, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy!” I know this can apply to men, also, but Mama worked all day in Dad’s office and cooked and cleaned up later on and, like mine, sewed all night to make my clothes. B

    Bobbie Guillory on
  • I love this. I teach “self-care” to family caregivers as part of my work. It’s also something I need to expand for myself. Reframing it as awareness makes it so much more accessible and less a “should” or “to do” that may have guilt as a sidecar. Who needs more of that? I will reference your work to my clients.

    Kathy Koenig on
  • I enjoy reading what you post. The readings are teaching me the meaning of mindfulness.i am grateful.

    Janice Pichler on
  • Yes x100! “…a focus to choose a different way of doing something.”
    I’ve been in this flow you’re describing before and faintly remember the feel of ease and presence. Who couldn’t use more of that? Your writing today has nudged me to hold the word “choose” next to all parts of my day and to not necessarily take the well-worn groove of habit (especially in mindset).
    Thank you for sharing your talents and I hope you can take in the gratitude for the difference you both make.

    Sue G on

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