Finding My Self-Care Practice

August 2, 2017


This guest post is by Jackie Pearce Garrett of HGVenture, LLP, presenter of “Self-Care,” part of the Leadership Development track. Learn more about the conference and register here:

My self-care journey started from a place of cognitive dissonance. I was doing things I loved personally and professionally: I had a job I loved, volunteered on the board of a nonprofit I believed in, traveled often with my partner, and was building a business doing some of my favorite things with the best people. And, as much as was going right in my life, I felt unwell, tired, anxious, and generally not at my best.

Activists and helping professionals hear the term “self-care” a lot. We are told that self-care is an antidote to being overwhelmed by the scope and scale of the problems we chip away at every day. It is how we are supposed to save ourselves from burning out from our demanding lives.

But practically speaking, what is “self-care”? And how would I know if or when I am doing it right? And most of all, how do people, overwhelmed by the business of busyness, make time for what feels like yet another obligation? To get started, I did what I often do–I made a list. The list includes activities that felt “right,” in that they left me better than when I started. Some of these make me feel positive or refreshed; some are annoying or even terrifying; all ultimately support me on a journey to be the person I aspire to be. A few examples from my list:

1.      Created yarn mazes with my nieces.

2.      Went for a long walk with my partner.

3.      Got purple-ish highlights in my hair.

4.      Went to therapy when I didn’t want to (especially when I didn’t want to).

5.      Canceled therapy to attend a protest action with my sister.

6.      Sent letters, postcards, and text messages to people I love.

7.      Stayed up late to finish Roxane Gay’s new book.

8.      Put a book down to get some sleep.

9.      Worked it out in a coloring book.

10.    De-cluttered my office space.

My first a-ha moment came when I realized that something that is self-care one day might not be self-care the next day; nor is it doing whatever you want whenever you want (though occasionally that kind of indulgence can be restorative as well). Self-care is about paying attention to what you need to be your best version of yourself, and giving yourself the time and space to even think about what the best version of yourself is.

HGVenture, LLP is a Maryland based consulting firm with experience developing effective, cohesive teams through facilitated workshops and strategic planning processes focused on issues of identity and inclusion. HGVenture is led by founding partners Tricia Homer and Jackie Pearce Garrett, with combined experience in nonprofit leadership, diversity & inclusion consulting, training, and curriculum development. Learn more about us at

About the Author 

Jackie Pearce Garrett, HGVenture’s Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, has worked in, with, and around nonprofits for more than a decade. Her specialties include training, facilitation, team building, partnership and coalition development, proposal management, proposal writing, and business process improvement. Jackie’s work on training and nonprofit capacity building has touched thousands of nonprofits across the country. She has worked intensively one-on-one with boards of a single organization and developed training programs for hundreds of organizations. She is currently a facilitator for UMD’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and a board member of the College Park Community Foundation. Jackie received a B.A. from the University of Maryland College Park and an MBA from The George Washington University.