Thursday, July 9, 2015

Self Care is Essential

By: Reagan Jackson

It took me a long time to understand on a soul level what Audre Lorde meant when she described self care as an act of self preservation. This year has brought me a level of grief that is almost unbearable. At times simply getting out of bed to face the world has seemed like an impossible task. And yet I must get up, get it together and get on with my life, because that is what it's These youth, even before I really had a sense of them, gave me a purpose that has grounded me. They have been a mirror reminding me of the best parts of who I am and encouraging me to reclaim my power. 

In keeping with my non-traditional approach to social justice, I decided to dedicate an entire day to the exploration of self care, both in preparation for our journey together and for their journey into life. These are the youth that are going to shape our world. They are bright, funny, insightful, and truly gifted. My hope is that in introducing them early on to their own importance that they will be able to avoid the burnout and heartbreak I've had to navigate. 

We took a field trip to Kubota Garden, a 20 acre Japanese garden set in Rainier Beach. Though with the exception of Jordan we are southenders, only Eyerusalem had been there before. We wandered along the paths, cracking jokes, playing the question game and enjoying the sun. When we came across a grove of trees planted in symmetrical rows we discovered a wooden bench just long enough for all of us to sit comfortably. There we began to talk about what self care actually is. It was a new concept for them. Some confessed not wanting to feel selfish. So we talked about the difference between selfishness and self love. We unpacked the people and situations that drain us, then took a few minutes to spread out in the garden and write our happy lists. 

A happy list is just what you might imagine, a list of what feeds your soul and puts a smile on your face when you are down. For me it's going to the beach by myself, meditating, reading a good book, getting a massage, eating lavender chocolates from Chocopolis, or singing with my friends at choir practice or karaoke. Each year as I try new things, I discover other experiences to add to this list. We talked about our plans for communicating our needs as this trip unfolds. Travel, for as awesome and exciting as it can be, is stressful. Our brains and bodies sometimes have difficulty adjusting to new languages, foreign food, and the sensory overload of being surrounded by unfamiliar sights. Now we know a little about what each other's preferences are we will be in a better position to support one another.

After sharing our lists, we found a sun patch by a coy pond and completed our first group meditation. My goal for today and really throughout this program is to plant as many seeds as I can for these youth to gain the skills, practices, and attitudes to support them in a positive and empowering life as change agents.

Zion zenned out

Eyerusalem in meditation

Eyerusalem, Azeb and Jordan exploring Kubota Gardens

Azeb and Eyerusalem doing their Cover Girl pose while Zion cross the bridge

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