Quick Update:Many thanks again for all the support, encouraging words, prayers and healing vibes sent in my Mom’s direction. And you know what? You guys must have some impressive clout with the Universe, because she’s getting better! While the treatment has been rough going, it seems to be working quite well. All the nasty radiation and poisonous chemicals are doing what they’re supposed to, and my mom is a hearty soul, so once she’s done with the last of it, I expect her to be back playing tennis and otherwise being a superhero. (She plays tennis with a group of women who are all also in their 80’s, how cool is that?)However, unfortunately another family crisis has erupted, one of those complicated wrenching ones, so flights home were cancelled and troops mustered and the Lobster has even flown west to join me. But hoping this one resolves happily as well and things get back to normal. Shortly after we get home, we’re off for a trip to Croatia, one planned a year ago. So our fingers are crossed that life is done tossing monkey-wrenches at our loved ones for at least a little while.The Epiphany:You know all that advice about the importance of self-care during times of stress? “Put on your own oxygen mask first!” How many times have we all heard that?Trouble is, for many of us self-improvement inclined folks, the “to-do” list for self-care can become an endless encyclopedia of demands, capable of producing more stress than it eliminates. (I should stretch and do my physical therapy exercises! I should cook more whole foods! I should meditate more! I’m not getting enough exercise! I’m getting the wrong kind of exercise! I need more sleep! And what about my novel? My Spanish lessons? My blog?)So I’m finding that for me, the answer is to simplify and customize. What are the keystone self-care strategies that give me the most bang for the buck? The silver lining of stressful times is that it’s a great laboratory for psychological investigation.My stress level was way high, and now it’s only slightly high, so what were the magic ingredients?I thought about it and there were two. One obvious, and one not so obvious.1. Having my wife nearby. Duh, right? But with her work, which requires a lot of travel, we’re frequently apart and it’s not usually a big deal. But when I’m not at my best? Turns out, being together is a HUGE deal.2. Cardio. Walking, it appears, is just not enough to keep me sane. Logistical challenges tempted me to skip aerobic exercise for a while, thinking it might be optional. But no, as it turns out, it is not optional at all. Huffy-puffy exercise is fundamental to my well-being.