Profession: Human Services
- Yin Yoga: sometimes using affirmations.
- Dance: I dance, though I am not by any means “good”, certainly not a trained, but there is something freeing about creating my own dance moves to inspirational music.
- Prayer: I pray A LOT! Usually I’m asking for discernment, confidence and courage to face whatever happens that day.
- Writing: I write almost daily. Some things don’t make it to light because it’s more about releasing the weight of the content than it is about having other people read it. Other things I post via Facebook are intended as discussion pieces. My Facebook posts tackle everything from colorism, to polygamy, religion, sexism, racism and implicit bias.
- Therapy: I go as needed (currently once per month). It is one of the best things I’ve done to gain insight and develop emotionally as a black woman.
How long have you been practicing? Five years.
Who or what introduced you to it? After a traumatic experience five years ago and resulting depression, I started therapy. In one of the early sessions, my therapist asked me “how do [I] take care of myself?” I told her I cook, clean my house, keep up my personal hygiene and go to work. To which she informed me that wasn’t what she meant. Admittedly, I knew my “self” wasn’t being cared for but I hadn’t imagined the possibilities. We worked together to overcome roadblocks to progress so that I could develop a workable self-care plan. And there began the journey.
What kind of personality do you think benefits from this type of practice? I don’t believe that personality alone determine who can or should engage in various types of self-care. I view self-care as a very personal decision and intimate journey. I am someone who struggles with asking for help, and I like to have control over my own process; I’m very much an introvert also. Perhaps people who identity with those qualities may find my approach appealing, however overall, the self-care process is based on trial and error to determine “what works for me today”, and being flexible that that same thing may change tomorrow.
Where do you practice? My practice happens mostly at home due to my work and school schedules. I have to be awake by 5:30am to get the best out of my day and my day doesn’t end until 10ish each night. Recently, I have begun to do yoga for ½ hour of my 1hour lunch break and this has shown some serious benefits! On days when I can’t do the full ½ hour, due to meetings etc., I go to my car for a few minutes and do deep breathing or affirmations. When I do have time, I like to go to gym or art classes, there’s something about being in a group while still doing your own process that attracts me.
Is this something you can enjoy with others or do you prefer the solitude? For the most part, this is a solitary process for me. I have tried inviting friends or family to join in but I seem to be distracted and not getting the best experience. I attribute this to my work. Since I work with people all day every day in helping them to manage their own lives, I find it’s hard for me to turn those gages off when I’m with others doing my own self-care.
How have you changed since adding more time for yourself? Since adding more time for me, I feel so much more emotionally present within myself. I used to suffer from imposter syndrome where I would act as if I’m fine when I wasn’t. What I have found is taking better care of myself, has forced me to be more honest about my needs, more communicative about my wants and less compromising on what my standards are. I would be the friend to listen for hours about a crisis and neglect the 15page paper I have due, trying to fix your problem for you. Now, I am still supportive, but I don’t take on the stress. I think this has helped me develop confidence in my friends and family to figure out their own problems. I feel I am more compassionate toward others for their short comings since giving myself permission to be who I am, flaws and all.
Did you grow up witnessing your mother, aunties or any women in your life consistently taking time to do something just for them? The women in my family modeled outward upkeep. Things like weekly hair and nail appointments, shopping trips etc were common place, however I can’t say I saw a lot of the inner work being done. Rarely were they explicit about doing xyz in efforts to take care of themselves. My eldest sister introduced me to writing and painting but it wasn’t until I was in my more adult life that I used this as a way to fuel and express myself.
What would you like for your future daughter, god daughters or nieces to have learned from you in regards to self-care? The most important things I want any young woman who looks up to me to know about self-care is 1) it is crucial to a happy life and 2) listen to your body, let it lead you in what it wants. And then…DO it.
Quote or affirmation that gets you through a rough day? I LIVE my life by a good quote. A few that have seen me through the dark are:
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Mother Audre Lorde
“In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.” –Dr. Maya Angelou
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” —Anais Nin
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV