What does self-care mean to you? When I was young I went to the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts. Elma Lewis started this school for children of color so that they could learn the fine and performing arts. We learned a poem there and I don’t know the author but it goes, “My body is a temple that needs the greatest care, it must be clean and wholesome for God is living there, and if I keep my temple, my body strong and clean, my mind must be as wholesome although it can’t be seen.” My idea of self-care is that the body is a temple and so we must honor that temple by staying away from toxic people and toxic relationships. It’s not about having perfect peace rather maintaining your center in whatever it is you are going through.
How did you get into self-care? I am Panther baby born in the 60s. My first school was a Black Panther school called the New School for Children, which was pivotal in my formative years and gave me a sense of consciousness of the self. Later I went to a METCO school in the suburbs and it was was the total opposite of what I’d known, I was like, “What is this?” My concept for self-care comes from my identity being solidified as a child and then experiencing the foolishness of racism in Boston.
What are challenges in maintaining self-care? Challenges in maintaining self-care involve the language that we use when talking about self-care. We have to change our minds and language about how we think about health and how we think about fitness and spirituality, if we don’t change that then we are always limited by the definition that is given to us. Psychology teaches us that if we read or hear something and don’t question it is stored in our minds as fact and so we simply need to question everything and see if it makes sense for us.
How do you share self-care with others? I share self-care via art, for instance, I've produced and co-produced plays such as “Toward a New Ecology for Women” and “R.A.W” both about the issues women experience in society, the second one focusing on the experiences of Asian women (Korean, Japanese, Laotian). When this place (Haley House) opened I used to do play readings here pushing arts education.
I also contribute to self-care via education, yoga, being a personal trainer, encouraging healthy eating, being an urban farmer/gardener, basically everything I do is self-care.
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