#MHM2016| #CultureFix Recap: #SelfCare

We closed out this Mental Health May with a bang! 3 chats, 1 day, tons of information exchanged and new connects formed (Yay, community building!)

These past couple of weeks, I’ve been active in a new community called Culture Fix, “a global collaborative network of artists, cultural producers, and influencers, who use arts and culture to create social impact.” [Chats Tuesday 3pm EST]

What a lively group of people! Tuesday, in honor of #MHMay, we discussed self-care and its impact on mental health of creatives. KA-CHING!

Major Takeaways:

  • Self-care practices look different for everyone. Usually involve solitary time and special attention.
    For me, self-care might look like disengaging from social media for a day or two, taking a long walk or a bubble bath, eating my favorite foods (cue the lamb and sweet potatoes!), or washing my hair.
  • Self-care can be defined as any practice that grounds you, treating yourself the way you want others to treat you, learning to identify when you’re crashing and navigate your own space.
  • Huge challenges to practicing self-care include family pressures and high expectations, needing to feel needed, 24-hour availability, and impatience.
    Having a fear of missing out on opportunities to network, or collaborate, or score a job, or put out a new project–which is driven by comparing my journey to folks on social media–pushes me to stay up mad late in the name of accomplishing something. Sound familiar? (A bit too familiar?)
  • We can overcome these challenges by acknowledging their root cause: What is driving you? What makes you feel the urge to be available to everyone at all times? What makes you shy away from resting and restricting access to you?
  • Showing up for yourself renders you capable to show up for others.
  • Caretakers, social justice workers, teachers, empaths especially need time and space to recharge and to heal.

Why do we so rarely talk about self-care? How do arts spark that convo?
We rarely discuss self-care for a variety of (cultural) reasons: Our egos won’t admit when we need a break; we don’t always acknowledge the difference between rest and sleep. There’s the pervasive myth that success in America/Western nations is based on you pulling yourself up by the “bootstraps” (Psst, meritocracy is a lie).
In certain communities of color where they emphasize the importance of heavy work ethic, self-care is seen as frivolous instead of vital, even criticized as self-absorbed activity.
As one person put it, there is a fear associated with taking care of your self; this in turn creates barriers to empathy and sympathy, where we cannot see someone’s hurt on multiple levels.

“Maybe taking care of ourselves means we might have to face the parts of ourselves that hurt or that we don’t like.” –Natalie Cruz

Art of all kinds allows us to forge a liberating space. Art is oftentimes viewed as a leisure activity–recent scientific studies have shown that creative activities reduce stress, even when you’re “not good” at it!

What does self-care matter? How does it impact our work, our art, and our communities? 
No matter how many people are depending on you, you can’t pour from an empty cup!

We must learn to set boundaries between public and private life, between home and work, and within our relationships!


How do we overcome challenges to practicing self-care?

Say No. Find a quiet space. 
Saying No to the bad things (vices, time wasters) and even the good things to do leaves room to say Yes to the great and beneficial things. Don’t overcrowd your plate and burn yourself out.

There is so much beauty in silence.
There is so much clarity in silence.
There is so much peace and  wholeness in silence.
There are gems of wisdom in the quiet places. DO seek them.

Set yourself a curfew and an alarm (or 3).
Be accountable to yourself for how much sleep you’re actually getting–and scale back when necessary. I reset my biological clock by committing to going to bed at midnight and waking up by 8 a.m. Whatever doesn’t get done by midnight, is a task for another day. (Today I make an apparent exception…)

Value your worth beyond your work.
This is a huge one for creatives! You are not the sum of your achievements, accolades, or milestones–you are much more than that.
Also, when it comes to charging for work, why are we so quick to accept “exposure” as payment? We have needs to meet, bills to pay, and supplies/resources to allocate towards our respective craft. (Artists, I’m looking at us in particular.)
Learn how to negotiate in your own favor, and ask for the value that you are worth!

You are worth much, because your life and your legacy are priceless. Place a premium on your own mental and physical health!



Father’s Day: We Do Listen…

This is my 24th Father’s Day. Today we honor all dads, stepdads, uncles, grandfathers, guardians, mentors, cousins, friends, father figures who have raised/are raising children. Bravo and kudos to all who try daily; grace to those who are separated from their kin for whatever reason, and my heart goes out to those whose fathers have transitioned. Peace to you.

Quick shout out to my brothers S, Y & Z who became fathers this year–I love y’all, and you’re doing a tremendous job already.

Earlier this week, Ashley prompted us to write about the best relationship advice we learned from our dads, or what they showed us. I’ve been blessed to be shaped by quite a few men in my life, who dropped pearls of wisdom on all types of relationships. Here’s my faves:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.–God the Son (Matthew 22: 37-40)
😀 Jesus obviously gives the utmost of relationship advice! HE is The Mediator, the Living Word of God, the Prince of Peace, the Way, The Truth and The Life, the Messiah Who reconciled man to God. Yeah, He knows best how we are to operate.

“All game stops when the truth emerges.” –Q
I rank this in the top 24 lessons of my life because it applies to a swath of relational issues. Whether business, casual, or filial, platonic or romantic, the truth does eradicate all nonsense, manipulation and deceit. Period.

“At the end of the day, if something happens to me, all you’ve got in this world is one another.”— D
One day when my twin and I weren’t seeing eye to eye (ahem, fighting), Dad sat us down and taught Kia and I to stand up for one another instead of constantly butting heads. He did so in a stern and albeit morbid way, but it resonated. We always go to bat for each other now, us against the world–including sometimes, our parents!

“You will never regret having standards about how someone ought to treat you…
A man who respects your mind and your house is worthy of your respect.” –Q
Nuff said, yah?

Family–whatever you make it to be–has your back. Don’t doubt that.–Z
I’m understanding this more as the days go on, to trust and let folk help me.

“Allow a man to be a gentleman to you. You don’t have to nag him into that. Chivalry is not dead; it’s delayed.” –Uncle A

Uphold your word and your name–[righteousness] is all you’ve got.–Uncle R

AS for ME and MY HOUSE, we will serve the Lord! –Uncle P
Technically, Joshua said this to Israel before they crossed the Jordan (Joshua 24:15), yet my uncle reiterates the value of not compromising spiritually. This slips into the occasional rant/ disciplinary lecture 😀

Don’t hook up with the first knucklehead to approach you when you get out of school. You’ve got your entire life ahead of you to get married and have children; you ought to use this time to explore, travel, make mistakes. Go and make plenty of mistakes! –T
How refreshing to be told not to rush through my twenties. Thank you.

“People are funny, fickle, and fake–they change like the weather.”–J

I have my moments where I wrestle with approval and rejection, but then I recall this from many days in Tha Brickhouse. 🙂

There is nothing wrong with apologizing first.–C
My brother-in-law has “the patience of Job,” as my grandmother puts it. He also readily demonstrates a lot of humility and grace–I’ve never really seen him confrontational. He diffuses conflict incredibly poised and composed–probably because he admits when he might be wrong, even when he clearly is in the right!

When you love someone with even a piece of your heart, you had better tell them! 
You make time for who and what really matters to you.
You see who truly has your best interests at heart when your back is against the wall.
One pays a high price for being selfish: loneliness, bitterness, and blocked blessings.
Communication within relationships must be reciprocal, not one-sided. 

How to safe guard respect: Be neat and tidy; learn to cook, clean, change a tire, speak Spanish, whatever you got to know to take care of your own self without depending on another.
Know your role: your responsibilities and what you are accountable for. Accept your partner’s role: their responsibilities and what they are accountable for. You are in no ways ever responsible for someone else’s happiness. That is their job.
–Uncle A

A man that isn’t ready for a relationship with you right now will not be ready for a relationship with you later…
Either it is or it ain’t. And you can’t make it what it ain’t. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s not a goose, is it? –Uncle J

Befriend your daughters. Make sure your daughters feel as if they are the most precious thing in the world to you. Prioritize them; lift them up, and they will never bow down to accept anything less than. – J. W. Johnson
My mom still raves poetic about my great-grandfather and his outstanding headship and kindness. Biased, I’m sure, but esteem bears much weight.

You can’t make anyone like you. You just be you, and let them come to you.–Coach R
Ah, middle school.  Back when my ultra-sensitive self cried real tears over crushes slighting me, this guy set me straight.

Someone is going to come along who is going to recognize your greatness. Til then, know
you’re brilliant, sis. –Y

Knowledge is power–boys and friends will come and go as you grow, but what you learn no one can ever take away from you.
Make sure you pour into younger generations what was poured into you.
You can correct sternly and still be gentle.
Time you can never get back so be wise in how and with whom you spend it. –A. H. Jones
My grandfather showed us what to value…I love you Grandpa and I miss you all the time.

Just hang in there. If you really care about this person, hang in there through the rough patches. You got to go through seasons together to see if y’all work out over time, test more than chemistry. –M
My cousin really has a lot of wise things to say for someone only 10 years older than me.

Seize the opportunities–you’ve got nothing to lose. You can’t lose.–S

I could probably fill a book with all the relational advice I’ve gotten–and still more sure to come as I go!

What’s the best relationship advice you’ve gotten from your father/ father figure? Tweet me!