AtoZ Holistic Self-care: Under the Wire – T thru Z

After ‘catching up’ on letters R and S, I thought for sure I’d hunker down and plow out the remaining letters of the AtoZ Challenge. Alas, here we are on April 30 – and I have an entire week of thoughts about self-care to crank out.

I hope to keep it short enough to make it consumable but profound enough to make the reading worthwhile. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you decide to finish up the T-Z with me:

T: Target

To target is to “select as an object of attention or attack.”

What are you aiming for? What is your bulls-eye? Why do you do what you do? Without a target, it is difficult to aim. To be sure, having a target isn’t always about getting something done. Without a target, we are even more likely to wander or flail.

I think of choosing ‘to be’ rather than ‘to do’ as having a target of attention, and when we want to accomplish something, we select an object of ‘attack’. Sometimes life needs to be about getting NOTHING DONE and just being. But if we don’t set that target, we’re likely to busy ourselves – perhaps with meaningless tasks because we don’t know HOW to relax.

For the “list happy, get-things-done” among us, perhaps making a target list of ‘attention’ rather than ‘attack’ is just what we need for self-care.

U: Ululate

To ululate is to “howl or wail as an expression of strong emotion, typically grief”

In the AtoZ challenge, as we hit U, V, W, X, Y, Z, it can be difficult to find just the right word – especially when attempting to share thoughts on self-care. But when I came across this word – new to me – and difficult to roll off the tongue, I was immediately transported to my days living in Taiwan.

More than once, from my window or my roof, I overlooked the wailing of men and women dressed in white (which being from the U.S. were reminiscent of the horrific KKK) standing at the front of a funeral procession. According to the locals I spoke with, a custom was to pay professional wailers to attend the funeral to express the grief of the family and friends left behind.

That experience, and the many funeral services I’ve attended for family and friends, has convinced me that sometimes the only way to express our pain is to howl or wail.

But I also believe with all my soul, that outside of the grief of death, many of us carry sharp grief — from the loss of a dream, a relationship, a sense of who we thought we were. But rather than ululate – we suffocate our feelings, trying to be strong and to move on.

Let yourself grief the losses you feel – no matter how minor you think they may be.

Please ULULATE before it is too late!

V: Vitiate

To vitiate is to “spoil or impair the quality or efficiency of” something.

I think of how we often treat our bodies, minds, and spirits – impairing the quality – of our lives, our relationships, and ourselves. What have you done to vitiate your body, mind, or spirit?

Don’t vitiate!

W: Wake Up

Wake Up – Are you ‘woke’? – About your health? Social issues – racism, misogyny, able-ism? Perhaps you can give a listen to Teddy Pendergrass:

X: Xenograft

To xenograft is to “obtain from a member of one species and transplant it to a member of another species.”

The prefix “xeno-” means foreign. It comes from the Greek word “xenos” meaning stranger, guest, or host.

What does this have to do with self-care?

While xenograft is a medical term that focuses on grafting tissue, I suggest that we consider ‘xenografting’ more figuratively.

What can we do to introduce new and ‘foreign’ activities or ideas into our lives.

Have you ever picked up a food you’ve never eaten – perhaps from a foreign land – and tried it? Do you try to learn about different cultural customs or languages or political beliefs that are foreign to you?

Have you ever practiced a ritual from another religious or spiritual practice?  

Perhaps we don’t want to make them our own, but is it horrible to understand or experience that which is ‘foreign’?

Y: Yield

To yield is to “produce or provide” – or to “give way to”

Body: I often think of yielding to the limitations of my body as I age. I cannot do what I used to do – and that’s okay. But I also know, that when I offer my body the best nutrients and sleep and exercise, my body ‘yields’ fruit – more energy and action. More ability to continue to gift the world in some small way.

Mind: What do you feed your mind – and what does it produce for you, your family, and the world? When do you need to ‘give way’ in an argument?

Spirit: Have you cultivated the soil of your soul – to invigorate your spirit?

Z: Zinc

I was delighted to discover that, surprisingly, Zinc is a verb – which means ‘to treat or coat with zinc – to galvanize’.

In handling my light-skin tendency toward pre-cancer conditions, I’ve learned that zinc is the best option for sunscreen. So now, I galvanize my face each morning – protecting it from sun damage.

But we can also consider how we ‘zinc’ our thoughts and emotions. What helps to ‘zinc’ our thoughts and emotions from that which could cause ‘rust’ and corrosion?

Meditation? Exercise? Sleep? Coffee with a friend? Cuddling with a loved one? Repeating positive affirmations? A good walk or run? Sitting on the beach?


  1. Congratulations on completing the 2019 A – Z Challenge, Janet.
    I greatly enjoyed both your theme and the way that you grouped several of your posts.
    If I ever participate in the A – Z again, I will definitely be borrowing this style — it was also very kind to readers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donna – I think I cheated a bit, but hey, it worked! I didn’t realize my client load has doubled since last year so I just didn’t have the same time. I’ll have to think about next year…thanks for sticking it out with me!


  2. I also enjoyed your theme and how you grouped letters together. Your last set of letters aren’t easy to write but you found interesting words, Janet. Congrats on successfully completing A to Z challenge!


  3. Janet, Your use of new words with these letters made me think about self care very differently. Fun ways to think about setting goals, grieving losses, trying new things, taking action, etc. Congrats on finishing the alphabet!


    • Thanks so much Pat! I’ve been known to be a contrarian so I like to shake things up. Delighted it helped you reconsider self-care — that’s what I was hoping would happen! Thanks for joining the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m slowing getting through your A-Z, although I appreciate not necessarily in order. This post was a challenging one and you aced it with the introduction of some new words into my vocabulary. Somehow I think the only one I’m going to remember is to zinc. I particularly liked the idea of zincing our minds and emotions from corrosive thinking.

    Well done!


    • Joanne, thanks for circling back on my AtoZ challenge. The end of the alphabet can be tough — but zinc was actually my favorite of all these. Now as I zinc my face, I think of my thoughts and emotions as well. Thanks again for joining the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

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