AtoZ Holistic Self-care: R is for Right-size and S is for Stretch

R: Right-size

Somehow, I’ve gotten totally off track in my daily posts and completely missed R. If I’m counting correctly and watching others’ posts, I believe Monday, April 22 should be S. So I’m playing yet more catch-up by combining R and S. Interesting though, these two words “right-size” and “stretch” go hand in hand for me this week.

On Friday afternoon, I’d scheduled ‘desktime’ in my calendar. Desktime is how I schedule the office hours and computer work that I need to complete for clients. But the sun was shining, and the backyard was beckoning.

My husband and son had begun to dig up most of it on Tuesday in preparation for a patio we hope to lay within the next few weeks. But in anticipation of what was promising to be a gorgeous weekend, I wanted to be able to enjoy it. So, I scrapped ‘desktime’ and set out to get the yard “opened during construction.”

I moved blocks of cement, squatted to pull up roots, raked and hoed, and organized the yard enough to set up the three ‘spots.’ My yard isn’t huge, but last year I’d realized that if positioned well, I have three spots to put seating that allows me to enjoy the shade and the sun, as desired, throughout the course of any day without moving furniture. As with the rest of the yard, the patio will be created primarily through second-hand purchases and free materials collected by neighbors and Craigslist type posts. So for now, two of the three spots are covered with tarp (awaiting said patio).

So, what does all of this have to do with self-care and right-sizing?

Well – if you follow Kathy Gottberg at Smart Living 365, you know the importance of right-sizing! But I found out the hard way this weekend.


Yesterday, I woke up sore but thought the best way to push through it was to take a walk to the second-hand store to look for bricks. Somehow, what Google maps promised was a 3.8-mile walk turned into 6.9 miles by the time I returned home (via bus on the return trip) – even more sore!

I didn’t ‘right-size’ the pressure I put on my body at all! I forget too often that I’m no longer in my 20s.


As eager as I am to have the project completed, I ‘right-sized’ my expectation of how quickly it will all be finished. If we could simply pay the landscaper down the street (as our next-door neighbor insists we do), I’d certainly want it complete in a snap. Instead, I’m taking the project as a labor of love and a process to be enjoyed.

With the many home improvement projects I’ve taken on over the years, I’ve come to realize that ‘right-sizing’ my expectations is self-care for the mind. Stress and tension comes from the mismatch between what I think should happen and what actually happens.


Tied in closely with self-care of the mind, ‘right-sizing’ the emotion around this project is important. I’ve been working on creating an outdoor living space in our backyard since I began working for myself, from home in 2015. The progress has been slow because, as I mentioned, we’ve pieced it together through freebies and mostly second-hand purchases over the years. But I’ve come to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the space – the extreme sale Adirondack chairs, the Salvation Army table and spray-painted chairs. Living five miles from beautiful Lake Michigan, I often thought on a gorgeous day the best option was to head to the Lake, which isn’t always possible. I’d be disappointed that we didn’t live closer.

As I looked for ways to provide self-care while working from home, I right-sized my emotions and chose to create space here at home to enjoy nature. Now when I want to pamper myself, I simply head out for an afternoon in my makeshift garden.

S: Stretch


As I sat in the backyard this morning, finding it difficult to actually stand-up or sit-down or walk because I pushed my body too far, my son explained the importance of stretching.

Because I follow Sue Loncaric at Sizzling Toward 60, I know I need to stretch – but today, my son and my pain, brought it all home to me.


Stretching the mind is critical to self-care – and I think, to the preservation of compassion and empathy in our world today. Throughout my life, I often lived somewhat between two worlds: white child growing up in a black neighborhood, poor child attending a wealthy school, American living in China. Within my own family, I sometimes joked that we were a living ecumenical council because although we were all raised Catholic, at one point I was a Catholic vowed Sister, one brother was a Baptist minister,  one sister attended a Community Bible Church, another brother was married to a Mormon, and several siblings were not practicing any religion.

I’ve always considered myself to be open to new ideas and capable of listening to others’ opinions. But I’ve come to realize that I still have so much to learn about other cultures and customs.

And, I strongly believe that the more I can stretch my mind to know and understand that which is different and unfamiliar, the better person I will be. Becoming a better person is important to self-care.


When we stretch our bodies and our minds, our spirit will feel good. We will experience shots of adrenaline and dopamine through exercise, and we will broaden our minds and world views.

But today, I learned that the word used in the parables of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan for compassion was splagchnoisomai, which means “to let one’s innards embrace the feeling or situation of another.”

And I couldn’t help but think that to stretch our spirit is to have compassion. This may not always feel good, because to have compassion sometimes means we must ‘suffer with’ another – but I believe with every fiber of my being that unless and until we each learn splagchnoisomai the atrocities of what happened in Sri Lanka and Broward County, Florida will continue.

Can we truly practice self-care if we ignore the hatred in our world?


    • Donna – glad you found the post helpful. I think we can easily get caught in taking a narrow view of so much of life. Stepping back from time to time can offer so much perspective. Thanks for joining the conversation.


  1. Most of my life I have skipped the stretching but as I have grown older, I have begun to realize the error in my ways. PC and I are now beginning our gym visits with stretching and our take on some yoga poses. So far, so good.

    Your backyard space is going to bring you a great deal of joy. Hope the project is soon completed so you can continue stretching your mind and your spirit from that special area.


    • I think it is tough to be consistent in stretching — but I’m trying. My yard already does give me so much joy — I’m just hoping that this project will help make it more useable for the entire family, too. Thanks so much for joining the conversation.


  2. I am really enjoying how you relate the self-care words to mind, body and spirit. Having done my own paver patio last year with hubby, I can relate to the project, and the soreness. I switched to 12×12 thinner pavers after calculating how many bricks I would need to move 5 times. Store shelf to cart to car to backyard to in-place. Some very long sore days!


    • A kindred spirit then — I’ve laid a padio and built a 100 ft. retaining wall at a previous house but the trick with this is that we will be relying on second-hand and free materials as much as possible. Hoping we only need to buy the sand. Glad you are enjoying the self-care reflections I’ve been sharing – thanks for joining the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Can we truly practice self-care if we ignore the hatred in our world?” Absolutely and we must! Ignore the haters and the hatred and maybe some of it will subside. The more we feed into it, the more it grows. Can’t wait to see your patio done!


    • Bren, we may need to agree to disagree on this one – or it may be a question of semantics. I think it is a matter of figuring out how to confront the hatred without letting it absorb me. I do agree we shouldn’t feed into it — but ignoring it, in my opinion, doesn’t make it go away. I’m thinking particularly of the hatred of racism – that my family must confront and can’t ignore if they want to survive. I believe we must confront it with love and nonviolent resistance. Thanks for joining the conversation.


  4. I like the short phrase “right size” to summarize the wisdom of “setting realistic expectations” I struggle GREATLY in this area (sometimes I don’t even realize I have an expectation, but less an unrealistic one) … but I am trying to better align my lofty goals with reality. Right-size … I like that 🙂


    • Molly – isn’t it interesting how we need to balance ‘unrealistic’ reality – if we simply accept reality nothing ever changes or grows — but we can’t be too unrealistic, right?


  5. Hi Janet! I LOVE how you were able to communicate rightsizing in your own life. I’ve always seen it as a tool to focus on where I am at in relation to where I want or hope to be and you did an awesome job of that. And like any intention, sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s a miss, but we never know until we try. I also appreciate the idea of rightsizing our expectations and our emotions. I’ve never written about those specific areas so THANK YOU. And you also did a lovely job of explaining how stretching applies to more than just our physical selves. Thank you. I enjoyed reading this post! ~Kathy


    • Kathy – I’m delighted you enjoyed my post on right-sizing. I was hesitant to use the word – given your expertise in that arena! Perhaps I’ve offered a bit of food for thought for your future writings on right-sizing. I’ll say I’m happy to be finished with AtoZ – and I certainly didn’t have right-sized expectations on that! Thanks for joining the conversation!


  6. Hi Janet, A really thought-provoking post. I have recently started following Kathy at Smart living, and I am not familiar with the term “right sizing.” I will investigate. I was intrigued with your story about right sizing the emotion around this project. I agree with finding a way to provide self care while working from home and creating space at home. I am glad I found your site:) Erica


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