Over the River and Through the Selfcare Woods

Like many terms in language the term self-care has many meanings and connotations.  The first time you heard the term self-care you probably came to an understanding.  As I assume most compound words are formed for the need to combine two concepts into a single utterance.  Self + care = self-care: taking care of one’s, ya know, self.  Like much of life simple concepts are not easily lived out.  Much of what we learn comes in layers or in cycles.

Before I go forward, I need to clarify what I think about how we learn.  I think the things in life that are worth learning take a while to sink in.  This kind of learning involves taking in information, reflecting on it, experiencing the information, and perhaps more reflection.  I came across this concept from a youth ministry book.  They were explaining why the book was set up in such a way and that to skip a part of the lesson plan would sabotage your students potential learning.  That made sense and I utilized this concept the rest of my time in youth ministry.  I will not quarantine this modality to youth ministry.  Back to self-care…

My journey toward self-care has been a long time coming.  I don’t mean to make it sound like a place to arrive.  It truly is a journey like most of life, there are places that we mark along the way.  We grieve or celebrate where we’ve come from.

I heard the term self-care before I came to The Seattle School but the genuine pursuit of it I had not experienced.  Only now, in my internship, am I feeling the gravity of selfcare.¹  I am noticing more and more the places that my defenses have simply enabled my survival.  Most of us would agree that survival is basic.  Most of us would agree that we want more in life than survival – we want to thrive.²  I’ve come to a deep realization, in my marrow, that selfcare is essential to living this life well.  I’ve realized what I’ve done to survive isn’t really even leading to survival.  Many of my defenses are toxic, slowly killing me.  They are killing my mind, body, and soul.  At best they are blocking me from goodness because of the risk of pain.  At worst, literally killing a part of me.  In the eyes of my clients I see the ramifications of selfcare.  If I don’t truly and deeply care for myself I cannot in turn truly and deeply help them.  I want to help them. To help someone is to love them.  [An unwriteable sentence.]  I haven’t always helped myself.  The Seattle School has challenged me to consider the cost to myself and consider ways that I might sustain myself and surround myself with people who are willing to help sustain me.

I thought I was headed to Grandma’s house.  Ya know, “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go?”  I hadn’t crossed the river yet.  I was walking along the river.  Most the time I couldn’t look at Selfcare Woods.  There was too much shame to wonder why I couldn’t look, let alone try to get there.  Recently I looked up and noticed that I’ve crossed the river.

I’ve only begun.  I’ve begun the task of peeling the onion.  I’ve just crossed the river.  I see how I can sustain myself.  I hope that I’m a quick study.  I hope that I continue to integrate this concept into living.  Only time will tell I guess.


Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.




¹Please note the shift from self-care to selfcare.  This denotes integration.

²Incidentily, why hasn’t the state of “thrival” become a word in common usage?  Furthermore, is the hope of thriving too much hope of goodness for us to handle we can’t name it?