How the Smell of Gasoline Prompted a Moment of Self-Care

Self-care is damn near a buzz word these days and we even cheers to it with our mimosas or hashtag it when we get mani-pedis. But truly, self-care is TAKING CARE of yourself spiritually, nutritionally, physically, emotionally, creatively, etc. not just a time out for socializing or pampering. Okay, this might not be the most profound thing you hear all day but what about the random or small moments that are invitations for self-care? Do you skip past those or do you soak them up?

The other day I was taking my morning walk when I passed by a house that was under construction and there was a tractor-machine-thing out front that was using gasoline. The feeling of crisp air combined with the smell of gasoline took me away from my podcast and brought me back to a time in my childhood. 

Now, in my line of work and after 20+ years of therapy, I typically recall memories to heal or learn from traumas, so if a random childhood memory pops up I don’t always sit with it. But this trigger was reminding me of something I LOVED as a kid – which is how this story becomes self-care.  I did choose to embrace that memory, I stopped my podcast and allowed the details to flood into my mind. 

My mom worked for my uncle’s gas station chain and in the mornings she would drive all over town to pull reports from each store and also write down the competitor’s gas prices. I LOVED riding on my mom’s routes with her! The memory brought back so many details, like the banana clip she would always wear, her Reeboks and red lipstick, her pretty blue eyes. I could see her smiling and laughing as she would chat with EVERYONE in the store. I could smell the coffee and taste the junk food. I recalled the wood paneling in some of the stores and thought about how much I loved this one particular style of branded coffee mugs they sold. I also loved writing down the prices on her clipboard, I felt so important and purposeful. 

You see, for me, this was an invitation for self-care. My relationship with my mom is a confusing one, I love her deeply and even see her in myself at times but I’ve also grappled with intense anger and resentment over her lifestyle choices as MY mother. Responding to the invitation of a beautiful memory allowed joyful energy to run through my body and fill my heart with love for my mom. Sometimes self-care is about letting love exist without having to keep score or juxtapose it with someone’s biggest mistakes. 

This was a small moment that I could’ve easily skipped past but it yielded an amazing amount of positivity in my day. I even took it a step further and called my mom to tell her that I was having a good memory and how much I loved her, something that she said meant a lot to her. 

Where are these invitations showing up for you?

How are you tuning them out with the busyness of your life? When can you create moments of self-care in your day? Perhaps it’s a 5-minute mediation at your desk, or eating lunch outside, or running your fingers through blades of grass, or turning off your podcast to bask in a beautiful memory.