It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and make your well-being a top priority. It’s necessary to live a fulfilled life.

Self-care is a hot topic, and yet somehow that hasn’t quite scratched my inner itch. Especially as I have needed to reexamine my priorities in the last few months. I believe there is a deeper level of loving ourselves, and that is by practicing soul-care. Due to my recent cancer diagnosis, I have found myself in a time of reflection and thinking through my priorities moving forward. Soul-care has become mandatory. Let me explain so you can determine if you, too, need to uplevel and integrate soul-care within your self-care.

As a differentiator, self-care is focused primarily on the external, whereas soul-care is tending to the internal. “Soul” can mean many different things to different people; I propose you consider the soul as our “life spark,” what we are at our core. It is the seat of our emotions, desires, affections, and appetites. It is the deepest and most intimate part of who we are on the inside; it is our heart, our depth, and what makes us humans.

Dallas Willard says it so beautifully:

Our soul is like an inner stream of water, which gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other element of our life.

Soul-care includes stillness, meditation, prayer, reflection, and openness to self-acceptance and growth. I love the concept of “just add water”; it is a concept my daughter, who happens to be a nurse, shared with me. When you are feeling off, not your best self, and in need of soul-care… “just add water”.

This can look like the following:

  • have a glass of water
  • make yourself a cup of tea
  • take a warm shower or bath
  • soak in a hot tub
  • go for a swim
  • have a good cry
  • walk on the seashore
  • walk by a stream, lake, or waterfall

In order to heal and prepare for my upcoming tests and treatments, I knew I had to go back to the East Coast for my annual trip to the seashore with my two sisters. I delayed my surgery because I knew that in order to care for myself fully and tend to my well-being, I had to expose myself to lots of Love, Lobster, and Laughter. My sisters never fail to deliver those three things when we are all together.

My sisters and I grew up on the water. Each summer, we loved to take a small rowboat around the cove to occupy ourselves. One of my sisters would sit in the stern and point to our destination, moving her fingers so I could make the necessary adjustments to stay on course. I started my trip out east this September by spending time on Mascoma Lake with one of my sisters and her husband. We took some time to go out in their dory, and Phillip and I rowed for 2 hours! Again, my sister was in the stern, pointing to our destination, and my brother-in-law was rowing in the bow. He was matching my pace stroke-for-stroke as we eased around the lake. An overwhelming awareness washed over me that I was being given clear direction. Not only that, Phillip had my back, and we were in sync. What I experienced that day was a profound level of soul-care; “adding water” was a significant way to stay true to my core. That sense of fluidity left me feeling “unfettered and alive” (to quote Joni Mitchell). I knew at that moment that I had tended to my soul, I felt truly “soul fat.

When you practice soul-care regularly, you are staying connected to your inner self and your calling. This intentionality renews you from the inside out, filling you with more contentment, peace, ease, and joy! It creates sustainability so that we can do creative work and come up with relevant solutions. Plus, experience deep, life-altering healing! It is a tall order, yet it is how we can maintain our energy and focus to do the work we are called to do.

My desire is that you have a glorious month, truly take time to tend to your soul, and enjoy time with family and/or friends as you gather together to give thanks collectively!