On Wednesday night I got to have a public conversation with new and old friends about self love.
We spoke at Solespace, my favorite site store /community space in Oakland. They’re in a campaign right now to keep the space open after the city shut down their street. Support the space with donations and spreading the word.
I opened by speaking about Audre Lorde’s Uses of the Erotic, specifically the idea that once you have tasted the pleasure of being so fully alive and self realized, you cannot settle for suffering. She teaches:
“once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.”
I’m titillated by the implications of a future determined by those who willfully immerse themselves in joy and love for the self. I am obsessed with how love and joy are the actual tools we need to move against the culture of fear and scarcity. We’re experts at deconstruction and tearing systems and each other apart. But if what we pay attention to grows, how can we be more mindful about growing our capacity for love?
I also spoke of building community with those who are also focused on self love and how it shifts accountability. About how I’ve been learning slowly to engage self loving behaviors and disengage from behaviors that harm myself. That there is a way that truly loving myself makes clear how interconnected I am to other people, to this planet…makes it harder to do harm. I spoke of Somatics and healing as a way to understand that I am more than my trauma, that I can be a part of communities organized around collective and liberatory longing. I spoke of how grief has made self love more crucial, because I have to love not only myself, but the ancestors and ghosts I carry, their wisdom.
Jodie then spoke of how self love radically changes what we demand from the world and the future. She also spoke of how people on a self love journey in parallel engage in coevolution through friendship – and how this isn’t easy. It means asking each other tough questions about whether the choices we’re making serve that highest purpose of self love.
Jay-Marie spoke on being a deity amongst deities and how her choices in life, including leaving the bay for a massive black lgbt bike tour of the South, participating in the stunning Say Her Name action earlier this year, and pouring her heart into her music, come out of this exploration of self love. Jay-Marie brought tons of people out, drawn in by the light force she’s generating.
Ashara was our final speaker, and she had us in tears as she spoke about this year of her mother’s death and her own near-death experience with overworking to the detriment of her health. She taught us about family, being present to each other’s real emotions, about learning to do work we lOve without sacrificing our bodies in the process. Her 29 year-old son was at the event and wouldn’t take his eyes off of her. It was deeply moving.
Everyone in the room then paired up and got a chance to just see and be seen, feel the attention of another. I was moved by how much laughter and crying happened during this pairing. Each pair shared their own ‘self love front line’, where they know they need to advance their self loving practices.
Finally we brain stormed self love practices together. Here’s the list we started – feel free to add!
Masturbation (‘an orgasm a day keeps the nothing away’)
Shifting relationship to food
Learning to say no in real time
Unstructured time to feel myself, follow my intuition
Notice when I feel alive and happy
Give myself permission to grow old
Recognize my body is all I have
Celebrate self love in self and others
Jomo…cultivate the joy of missing out
Self love day! (Baba’s day – insert your name!)
Sleeping in late
Waking up early and being quiet
No meeting Wednesdays (or whatever day you choose)
Grow more food
Care for injuries
Don’t hate, collaborate
Trust my intuition
Being in spaces with my community that cultivate healing
Spending time by the water
Singing to myself
Dancing and playing music
Finding a tree in my neighborhood
Read more books
Free writing daily, or often
Work with clay
Good one on one interactions
Making home a safe space
Feeling land and air
Let myself be danced by another
Have good sex
Making out for a really (really) long time
Put hands in the dirt
Go forth and love ????????????