Between all the online petitions circulating it’s easy to feel like signing your name is enough, but if you’ve ever gone to a rally in person you know THAT actually showing up makes all the difference. Just like texting with friends about planning to meet is different than actually hanging out. One is about aligning your good intentions; the other is about aligning your actions to your values. When we show up, we share a commitment to a result; even if it’s a great night out with friends. In our digital world, it can feel easier to hide behind a screen, but nothing replaces the thrill of honoring your word and being there for yourself and others.
I’m not always the best at receiving compliments (I’m working on it!), but I’m great at giving them. That’s why I can attest that a good way to practice self-care is to tell someone why you love them. Not only is it nice to let someone know that you do, but also when you can articulate why — it gives you a deeper appreciation of ALL the good that is in your life.
You know that peaceful moment at the end of the day when the whole world goes quiet and you’re left with just you and your thoughts?
These days if we want a little solitude we must make a conscious effort.
Take a moment, a day, or a week (okay, fine start with 10 minutes) and create a moment without distraction.
Then rinse and repeat.
This is a fundamental foundation of self-care. You deserve it.
The old adage “choose your battles” has never been more applicable.
With the constant flood of news and 24-hour social media access, simply choosing who and what to engage can be exhausting.
We wade into difficult conversations and there are always some folks who want to gaslight, harass, and derail us.
It’s not constructive. It’s not healthy.
And guess what? It’s not mandatory that you engage. Part of self-care is choosing to opt out.
Don’t feed a troll. Block them!
Every time I stretch my body it always feels SO good. But I rarely do it. I just don’t think about it.
But we need to stretch to push our bodies, minds, and attitudes.
When we lean into the moments of discomfort, we can become more flexible on the other side.
Same is true for making social change. If we want to see the world differently, we have to stretch our own world view. So choose one thing this week that makes you stretch and go for it. Stepping out of our comfort zone keeps us curious.
And curiosity is a key tool for living a life well examined.
What will you stretch this week?
Congrats, we made it.
Still looking around a shit show of a government transition coming up.
And a year-long adventure of learning how to take care of ourselves while still fighting for civil and reproductive rights. You know, stuff you didn’t think you had to fight for in 2017!
But lest we fall into a slump of despair (that was SO last year) here is my pledge to you:
Let’s focus on Self-Care in 2017. In order to be good world changers, we have to start locally.
And I mean, super local…ourselves first. If we aren’t full of hope, anger, action, and community we just won’t get this world-changing work done. And as any good rule breaker, rebel maker, world changer knows…we have to fill up our gas tanks regularly in order to have the energy to SHAKE. SHIT. UP.
So here we go…each week I’m going to post one tip to help us focus on self-care while we also focus on making sure we America’s democracy doesn’t slip away while we are sleeping (or on our phones).
I know it can get overwhelming. And we’ll want to numb out (again: phones) but try not to. Know that we are in this together. And please: if you have any self-care tips to add to this vibrant list – please send them our way on any of my social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) and help a sister out!
For this very beautiful first week of the year, my first #SelfCare17 tip is to: Release
Whenever you are close to releasing something negative in your life (a relationship, a habit, a belief system) it’s normal that your old patterns will come up? They are usually there for you to see how far you’ve come or to gauge how far you are willing to go to change your life. Don’t get stuck in the past. Focus on releasing that which does not serve you anymore. You will create a space for what is to come. And it’s going to be so good, I feel it!
Remember, release is a verb – practice it daily. Don’t hold on to stuff that isn’t yours. And make that space.
Most days when I sit down to write these posts, I have no idea where to start.
I think about writing something witty, snarky, silly.
I think about using the time to uplift, inspire, educate.
I feel pressure to speak about my work, the business, stuff that makes money.
But if I’m silent enough. And still enough. What comes to me is this…
Sometimes I don’t want to write anything. I want to be in gestation, growing new ideas and thoughts. I don’t always want to produce for production sake, and I don’t want to worry about whether or not it gets a response.
Today is our National Day of Listening, and that’s exactly what I decided to do.
In the silence, I can hear a smaller voice emerge, one that says to take a step back not forward. To sit not pace. To listen, not talk. And if I do listen, I can hear the tiny sounds of new ideas rushing to be formed and my patience rising up like a swell.
I sit and I listen.
And I always end up writing.
But it’s never what I thought it would be.
If you’re looking for something to listen to that will spark your inspiration and help you explore your inner thoughts, tune-in to our Talk To Jess podcast today or sometime this weekend.
In the aftermath of the election results, so many people I speak to are still reeling in disbelief. Fatigued by the 24-hour spin cycle from cable news dissecting the results and trying to find various statistics to blame. Some people have taken social media breaks. Others have unfriended family and folks who just don’t share the same views. And still, others shout for us to calm down and “give him a chance.”
Well, sorry, but nope on that last one.
In the first week since becoming president-elect, Donald Trump has proven to be pretty good at making really bad choices for our country and the name of inclusivity and progress. An anti-Semite as your chief strategist, check. A man who couldn’t get approved as a Federal judge in the 90’s because he was SO racist as your State Attorney General, check. And honestly, the list continues, but I just can’t.
So here are 5 few things we can do to make sure we are staying woke, staying curious, and staying active.
- Never normalize. Do you remember the first few days after the election when it didn’t seem real? That uneasy feeling you had about the direction of our country and what this could mean for the future? Hold on to that. This election was not only historically unprecedented, but it also was and continues to be a threat to the values our country is supposed to protect. A fact that might provide a small piece of consolation is that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by enormous margins. It sometimes helps to remember the majority of Americans did not vote for racism, sexism, and xenophobia. As the news cycle continues to spin the hateful and bigoted acts of the president-elect into ordinary political rhetoric, #Resist. Don’t turn a blind eye or rationalize that “it could be worse.” There is no gray scale for hate. Don’t tolerate any of it.
- Poke and Probe. You know when children are young and are full of endless questions about everything? It’s exhausting, but it’s the best way for them to engage with the world around them. We need to take a lesson from kids on this one and not stop asking questions. Tough questions, obvious questions, genuine questions— everything is fair game because we are invested in the world around us and we deserve answers. It’s tiring, but important for democracy. Ask the questions enough and governing bodies will be forced to answer. We deserve transparency. Oh, and for everyone saying we are being “sore losers” for asking questions and feeling angry…check out #3.
- Drop the Good Girl Act. Sometimes telling women they are “too angry” is really code for “Be a good girl and be nice.” Well, it’s not nice to paint a swastika on a park bench or tag “Heil Trump” on inclusive churches. It’s not nice to openly mock a disabled person or grab a woman by her “p***y”. So you know what, I’m dropping the good girl act and I’m feeling angry. It’s an emotion like any other and it has the power to drive us to action. I am not skirting this emotion because it makes others uncomfortable. Being oppressed but well-liked shouldn’t be the measure of any woman. Be vocal and make your point no matter who is in the room.
- Honor the Self. We spend so much time working on ourselves. We learn to let go of the negative. We say we want to accept positive vibes only. But recognize that you can still practice self-care and self-love while expressing opposition. It is my love for humanity right now that fuels my righteous anger right now. When you see an injustice done, you should allow yourself to feel that rage because it comes from a place of love and compassion for others. You can also transmute that energy by taking action. Let the feeling bring you into a place of momentum – which brings us to #5.
- Put Your Money Where Your Passion Is:If you want to mobilize the areas of social justice you care about, consider making a financial contribution (of any size). These organizations need your support now more than ever. And if you can’t financially donate, call and ask how you can give some time to volunteer. There are petitions galore circling around (and quite frankly I sign most of them) and lots of articles on calling your reps (which I’ve also done). But I also need to feel like I am aligning my emotions with action right now and so the organizations below are just a few that I’ll be making donations to this holiday season!
Yours in Anger and Action,
This election season has shown us sexism on a national scale and at its absolute worst. The vitriolic and toxic words of Trump are not only jarring but terrifying. Especially for women. This candidate holds no respect for women or anyone else who is different from him.
During this entire campaign, we’ve yet to hear a single statement from Donald regarding his actual plans for policies, but we’ve heard more than enough.
More than enough to know that in this election, there’s no such thing as NOT voting for Hillary Clinton.
With today being the last day to register in California (make sure you’re registered) and voting day only a few weeks away on Nov. 8th, one of the most important things we can do (besides voting) is maximize our self-care until we’ve awakened from this nightmare. Let’s protect our well-being so we continue to be inspired and create solutions that progress our society forward.
As someone who has spent 22 years fighting to give women’s voices more of a platform on a national and global stage – it is important for me that when we usher in our first Female president (and definitely most qualified candidate running!) that we are also in a good head space to continue the fight. Because fight on we will have to.
But first, let’s reset our energy!
Here are 5 tactics to help you survive the stress-inducing 2016 Presidential Election:
- Turn off the news and go outside. Yes, this does include closing out of our social media feeds and timelines. Unplug from the digital world cluttered with things beyond our immediate control. Put your feet in the grass and remember that the world (and America) are already wonderful.
- Turn on satire. Watch shows like “The Daily Show” and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” to stay informed of news stories, but also soften the punch with a little humor. Honestly, laughing has been a tremendous help to balance the “WTF” moments I’ve been having.
- Pet your puppies & kittens. Seriously. Pets rule. Give them some extra love. They have a peaceful, calming effect.
- Change your media focus. Be sure to balance the inevitable, negative news stories with more positive and inspiring content. Cue more puppy/kitty videos.
- Have meaningful conversations with loved ones. Leave the politics out of the convo and just make sure you are telling the people you really love how you feel about them. By giving and having love and connection with your true community you can counter any negativity with positive real-life one on one.
Almost every single day we are exposed to images of unarmed Black men being murdered. I have felt broken on behalf of my brown brothers and sisters who are watching men, women, and children being gunned down without warrant. I wanted to write about what we can do as allies during this time. Because so many of us feel hopeless, helpless, and unsure of how to take action. It is not the responsibility of a person of color to explain this to us. To motivate us or to give us solace. It is up to us to act. And if what stops you from acting is the feeling that you don’t know what you could do that could actually help – then something I want you to consider is how to take a first step in taking care of yourself during this time.
I know you. You are a social warrior. A crusader for making change. I know you want to see justice and I know you want to spread love. And sometimes because of the privilege we have based on genetics or location, we often think we can look away during these times, especially when it’s “too much”. But I want us to consider those who can’t look away. Who can’t turn it off. Who can’t afford the privilege of dialing down their interest in this because it is their husbands, mothers, and children at stake.
So rather than looking away, I want you to look at something else.
If you spend all day on your phone and social feeds (or just if you are human), or if your career requires you to tune into social media, it’s impossible to get on Twitter lately without scrolling across a tweet with a name next to a hashtag, accompanied by #BlackLivesMatter. By now, we are painfully aware of what this means. Attached to the tweet is an autoplay video of a Black man (or woman) being fatally shot by our police force. The effects of this constant visual stimulation are traumatic; they ignite fear and a sense of helplessness. Many people then turn to social media to release their anger, fear, and even debate with others; trying to extend branches of empathy. The terrorizing snapshots showing the end of a valuable life are only half of the pain. What turns pain into trauma is the fact that likely, the murderer will walk away free of any legal accountability.
The barrage of this extremely graphic content is unhealthy for anyone’s mind, heart, and spirit. It calls us to take a step back and evaluate our own censorship around these tragedies. How do we weave through consistent media floods of tragic events in pop culture that can leave us feeling enraged and hopeless, all while protecting our minds and hearts? These events are real and we cannot simply ignore them. At the same time, we can’t bury our emotions for the sake of staying informed. We have to take care of ourselves, show love and find balance when we actually want to look away.
One solution can be found in substituting the negative images and messages in our media with more positive portrayals and narratives. Instead of completely tuning out, seek other stories instead. Bryon Summers created The We Love You Project to disarm hate and change the narrative of Black men and boys through the power of photography. The We Love You Project travels across the country to capture and share authentic portraits and stories of Black men and boys in our communities via social media. This project provides a simple, but powerful reassurance to Black boys and men: even though it feels like they are being murdered and destroyed constantly, they are still a part of a larger community that loves and supports them.
My favorite aspect of The We Love You Project is that it allows Black men to participate in creating, redefining and controlling the narrative being told about them in the present. This spreads a universal message that speaks to the power we have as media creators and consumers. By the time we see videos of unjust killings, we know it’s too late to change the narrative told by the media. Since we can’t change the content of the past, together we can create more positive content for our future.
The We Love You Project shows the world that Black men are not only human and should be treated as such but, also that they are loved. Negative images seen in mainstream media are the images that brainwash Black men and boys (and all of us) into believing there is truth behind them. But they are not worthless. They are not trash. They are someone’s son, brother, cousin, uncle, husband or father. They are human.
Taking control of your own image and representation is powerful, positive reinforcement. It creates truthful examples of who we can aspire to be and it can break a cycle of negative stereotype association. Racism is a system that was put in place long before our generation lived. But now, we have the power to control the media we consume and create, so we must protect our minds from this content to avoid living out of a dark space and keep hope alive.