Solange’s last album. Patti’s Pies. Self-care. That’s a short list of life’s joys that are misunderstood…

image: Audre Lorde, wearing black glasses, a tight afro, and a button down coat. Beside her is one of her famous quotes, ‘Caring for myself is not a self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.’

Most people see me as a high vibing, ‘the glass is half full’ kind of girl. I’ll admit, as a self-employed writer who often travels, my life is pretty charming. I spend my days doing what I love when I feel like doing it. However, it wasn’t always this way. Before life was charming, it was violent and unpredictable. I spent the better part of the last decade battling domestic violence, poverty, and substance abuse. I’d gotten so used to toxic relationships that they became the norm.

“I just wish you cared for your Self more,” a trusted friend confessed one day. A series of bad decisions and burnt bridges left everything from my job to my living arrangement hanging in the balance. I wanted to smack my friend back to the future for trying to tell me how to live my life. Still, I knew they were right. I may have mastered the art of survival but I knew nothing about the caring of Self.

I spent the years that followed getting my shit together. I worked on releasing some bad habits and unhealthy relationships. I paid attention to my behavior; Am I contributing to this adverse situation/relationship? What does my physical and mental health crave that it’s not receiving? I focused on hydrating and minding the business that pays me. The more I poured into my Self, the more I began to enjoy life. Without realizing it, I had used self-care to achieve my goals and live a life that was far closer to my dreams.

A photo of the original members of Sisters With Aspiration at our 1st Annual Self-Care Fair in 2018. Image: Five Black and Latina women and one child standing in purple t-shirts with the initials, SWA. In the center of the photo is a sign that says ‘SWA’s 1st Annual Self-Care Fair’.

You probably don’t need me to tell you that the ‘wellness community’ is littered with racism, ableism, and spiritual bypassing. It’s dominated by non-Black people who have no regard for those of us who navigate dangerous intersections. They’ve made a mockery of manifestation, often shaming those who can’t will their way to health and abundance. They perpetuate the idea that self-care is all about bubble baths, day spas, and shopping. That, pampering oneself is the path to rejuvenation and healing. That idea is bullshit. Real self-care is meant to enhance life and combat the debilitating stresses we face on the daily. Self-care is meant to be complex, intensely personal, and healing in a way that allows room for more joy and abundance. More importantly, it has nothing to do with money. This is why ancestor Audre Lorde was adamant in reminding us that self-care is a radical act of warfare for Black women.

Since late-2016, I have been acting as a self-care coach and have organized a variety of self-care fairs, workshops, and lectures. I don’t know everything there is to know about self-care, but I’m taking notes every day. What I know for sure is that there are three essential levels of caring for Self that can drastically improve one’s quality-of-life:

physical (this does not require a gym membership or yoga pants)
emotional
spiritual

By focusing on the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of self-care, I’ve developed a variety of practices and routines designed to cater to those who need it most. Earlier this year I launched Casa de Tami, an intense retreat that focuses on teaching Black women the fundamentals of free self-care. The retreat took place in my home — hence the name, and was filled with activities like hydration monitoring, morning affirmations, and afternoon movement and manifestation. Like every other great plan for 2020, COVID-19 mucked it up. Instead of delaying all this much needed healing, I’ve decided to go public with my free self-care syllabus.

Hood Wellness is a combination of years of research, past work, trial and error, and teachings from Black folx who are way smarter than I. The mission is simple: enhance the quality-of-life by using self care to create radical improvement. There’s more than one way to get free and Hood Wellness is dedicated to exploring as many ways possible.

Not everything is for everybody and that’s okay. That’s why Hood Wellness is dedicated to providing a plethora of unique, FREE ways to practice self-care. For those who are interested, join the journey here:

Hood Wellness Facebook Page

Hood Wellness Facebook Group (EXCLUSIVELY for Black womxn and non-men)

@HoodWellness4All on Instagram

Check in every Wednesday to learn about different aspects of self-care with tutorials, resources, and insight from some of the most brilliant Black folks I know. Self-care may not be a magical elixir that can solve all of life’s problems, but, without question, it can help us get to where we want to be. Let’s get well together.

Tamela J. Gordon is a freelance writer, Black lit book critic, community organizer, and self-care coach. For more original content, join her Patreon community!

Writer. Feminist. Advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS.

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