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Who Do You Care For, and Who Cares for You?


Who do you care for? Who cares for you? Such seemingly simple questions. And yet many have found profound value in exploring their care ecosystem, in having greater clarity on care in their lives and what that means for resilience and living more joyful lives.

About Atlas of Care, the Atlas CareMap, and Mapping Ourselves

In 2015 a research project was launched to gather detailed data about families caring for themselves, including members with serious illnesses, in daily life. Led by Rajiv Mehta, the Atlas of Caregiving Pilot Study looked into who was involved, what they did, how they felt, and how they spent their time. Innovative diagrams were created to visualize the gathered data. The participating families found these diagrams of their lives thought provoking. These sparked ideas about how they might improve their lives. They also found affirmation from the way the diagrams made it clear how much effort they were putting into care. The powerful impact of those diagrams led to consideration on how any family, any individual, could create such diagrams for themselves. What tools could be created for such self-observation?

The Atlas CareMap — the focus of this learning module — was the first tool developed, helping people see more clearly the web of care in their lives. Since 2016, thousands of people have learned to draw and use these diagrams. The impact has often been so powerful and immediate that many, if not most, have gone on to teach their family and friends. Many people have learned the Atlas CareMap in instructor-led workshops, and many more have learned through word-of-mouth.

The Atlas CareMap is part of a larger effort called Mapping Ourselves, which encompasses a wider range of topics that impact on wellbeing and belonging. You’ll learn more about Mapping Ourselves in the final unit.

For now, watch this video to get a quick overview of Atlas CareMaps.

Mindfulness Prompt

A dense bamboo forest

Throughout this learning module, you’ll find some mindfulness prompts. Take a moment to pause, reflect on what you have learned, and prepare your mind for what is to come.

For this first one, reflect on why organizing and managing care through a drawing of your care ecosystem is important to you. What are your motivations for learning this material? What benefits are you hoping for or expecting?


Hear some stories about how the experience of drawing an Atlas CareMap has impacted people. Creating an Atlas CareMap isn’t just about being able to see what care looks like in our lives, it is also about the impact visualizing care can have on how we continue to navigate the complexity of it.

Just as each of our CareMaps are unique and individual to our own lives, so too are its impacts. Our lives can be very different, so what we each gain comes from the personal reflection and conversations around care that our maps make visible.

Do This With a Buddy

While you can get a lot of value from going through this learning module on your own, experience has shown that doing this with someone else often leads to even more impact.

So if at all possible, do this learning module along with one or two “buddies”. A buddy could be a relative, a friend, a co-worker … someone who is already familiar to you (you know at least a little bit about some aspect of each other’s lives) and with whom you can speak openly. As each of you goes through this module, regularly share your experiences, reflections, learnings and actions with each other.

Such collective self-reflection is powerful. You will learn more about yourself as you try to explain your thoughts to your buddy. You will better understand your buddy as you hear their thoughts. Sometimes something your buddy says might cause you to notice that there are similarities in your own life. At other times you might discover how different your lives are, and open your eyes to other experiences.

In the next unit, you will focus your attention to acts and remembrances of care in day-to-day life.