my friend b loewe wrote this blog an end to self-care, and i was moved to respond.
hi lovely b
thank you so much for putting this out there, i feel the energy of it. and as a community-supported self-care queen on day 8 of a juice cleanse, i have to engage.
my negative feelings on self-care kept me in a state of not caring for myself for years, delaying me in getting what i needed, keeping me in unhealthy movement spaces, feeling powerless and tired.
my community had to intervene. they generated the resources to send me off to take care of myself. if they hadn’t done that, i don’t know if i would be here at all.
once they had intervened, i still had to go through an internal process to get to a place where i determined that i needed this healing, that i wanted to be able to give to movement from a healthier place.
so…i love the idea of community care…but what is that, if not community supporting each other in our self-determined efforts to care for ourselves and our families?
there’s that relationship wisdom, “you can’t change someone else.” i feel that – i know it’s true for me, when people try to change me i root my feet down into the soil of what is.
grace boggs speaks it into movement, echoing gandhi, “we must transform ourselves to transform the world.”
for me this includes self-care. or perhaps more precisely, self-determined care. because the messages we receive are that our lives don’t matter, that we don’t deserve love, or even to exist. to choose instead to value ourselves, our health, and the health of our communities – all as one, not at odds with each other, is radical, it’s self-determination.
and i love the idea you put out that “movement work is healing work” – it absolutely should be, and sometimes it is. and when it is, it’s amazing.
but so much of the movement work we do these days is not structured in ways that promote sleep, much less healing. there are some beautiful flows of intense work, but more often than not, in my work as a facilitator, organizational development lover and coach, what i see over and over again are isolated, exhausted and overworking organizers in endless loops of tasks, conflicts and fundraising. i observe work done in a state of urgency that often leads us to not have time to cook for each other, care for each others’ kids, or even to pursue that “political clarity” which maria speaks of.
when movement is full of individuals with scarce energy and health, that scarcity flows in every direction – it leads to us competing with each other for resources. that’s what this capitalist system wants us to do, compete with each other for what we are told is enough. the shift towards grassroots fundraising is a beautiful response to this – that we generate abundance within ourselves, so our movement work can be self-determined.
that is the same thing we need to seek as individuals – abundance that allows our lives and work to be self-determined, community-determined.
i think that burn-out happens when life is not lived with intention. when we are mindful and intentional, we can begin to experience abundance, not in the material sense, but from the joy of living our lives on purpose.
its a privilege for us to even have this conversation, i recognize that. but there are some people, people with less time and resources than either of us have, who are just beginning to get a tiny little bit of encouragement to take care of themselves, and i would hate to see your words take away from that, or make people feel guilty for that.
i think it matters that we value and love ourselves and each other. and to me, that looks like affirming the radical act of love however it comes, without judgment, whether it’s through a movement retreat, or a yoga class, or knitting, or a protest, or a garden.
so yes, let’s get specific about community care – how does it look to do this so that people are able to do for themselves what they need? some people thrive working long hours with very little alone time…others thrive with two hours of meditation every day, or physical activity.
how do we create communities where everyone can self-determine and ask for what they need, offer what they have to give, where the result is abundance?
long blog short, i don’t think this is either/or. i think this is yes: more health, more care, everywhere. getting more people in more communities talking about what a healthy caring life looks like, how they are already living and caring for themselves and each other, and how we all support each other. and not just how generations from now people might live a healthy live, but how we are and can be practicing health, well-being, joy and justice in the here and now.
because from experience, the healthier i am, the more authentic love and contribution i am able to give to movement, to the next generation in my life. the more i prioritize caring for myself, caring for my community and accepting care from my community, the better and brighter spark in the movement flame i can be.