Radical Acts of Self Care

Anne Lamott talks from time to time about radical acts of self care.


Or maybe it’s Oprah.

Or Betty Lou from Sesame Street who’s one of the spiritual gurus of our time with her calm focus on kindness and sharing and befriending our fellow monsters.

A wise woman said it, anyway, except I feel they should be called RADICAL ACTS of SELF CARE, like that, in bold and all caps so we might announce them in our 1950’s-style Broadcaster Voice when they descend from the sky like super heroes to save us from ourselves.

What’s that?
Up in the sky!

And then we can clutch our hearts and swoon theatrically to give our acts of valor the adoration and attention they deserve.

Today, for example, I engaged in two whole Radical Acts of Self Care, and they were worthy of some theatrical clutching and adoration for sure.


1.      I went to the bathroom at the very first sign that I needed to go,
2.      I drank my entire cup of coffee while it was still warm.

I know. Not to be braggy, but I really did.

Furthermore, during both acts, I sat all the way down, and I focused on them ‘til I was done.

Call me a liar if you must, but for five whole minutes – the duration of two Radical Acts – I didn’t read anyone a Clifford story. Or Berenstain Bears. Or Franklin. Or play Legos or blocks or trains where my legs are the tunnels and someone’s noggin hits me – KAPOW! – in the crotch bone.

For five minutes, I didn’t balance my checkbook.

For five minutes, I didn’t sign a permission slip

For five minutes, I didn’t referee a fight or kiss a boo boo or braid my daughter’s crunchy, candy-coated hair.

I didn’t holler reminders to “Hurry up or we’ll be late for school!” And I didn’t visit the Pioneer Woman or the Bloggess or Facebook – not even once.

For five whole minutes, I did two radical things, and, although I had an attentive audience for one, I managed to do the other all by myself without the usual cast of thousands sitting at my feet on the sticky floor waiting anxiously for me to finish. Drinking that cup of coffee alone was like a miracle.

The truth is, I like Radical Acts of Self Care far more than Me Time even if that’s just semantics. It’s just that Me Time never manages to show up at my house without a little person clinging desperately to one leg and my mama guilt clinging harder to the other. I’ve tried Me Time – I have – and it’s like the Agony and the Ecstasy, except mostly agony which makes it hardly worth inviting over. I end up feeling more selfish than refreshed, and I, frankly, do not have the time for that much angst.

Radical Acts of Self Care, on the other hand, are small gifts I can give to myself; random kindnesses, silly victories and breaths of air in the middle of the madness. They’re opportunities for grace, and they come with tiny bits of optimism and caffeine stuffed in their pockets like the hard candies Earl sneaks the kids at church on Sunday.

We were late for school this morning, FYI, by five minutes.

Five minutes and two radical acts that were totally worth it.


And so I throw down the gauntlet and challenge YOU to a RADICAL ACT OF SELF-CARE. What silly victory will you have today? What breath in the middle of the madness? What opportunity for grace? Will you share it with us?


I originally wrote this for Families in the Loop.
Republished here with permission as part of:

40DaysofGraceLogoYou can see all of the 40 Days of Grace posts
here on the Five Kids blog and here on Facebook.



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41 responses to “Radical Acts of Self Care”

  1. Even thought this is practically three years old, it still speaks to me. I told my husband I wanted a box from Dia & Co (https://www.dia.co/r/37oz) as a step forward in taking care of myself. I am worth clothes that don’t just sort of fit and are off the clearance rack. Thanks for including this in your favorite mom post list. 🙂

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