Self-Care Check-In with Henry Danner: “Photography has opened up a world of possibilities…”
From Henry Danner, Senior Program Manager, Connecting Youth Initiative, Columbia University
Brooklyn, New York
How would you rate your self-care at the moment on a scale of 1-10?
I would rate my self-care a 6 at the moment. I rate it a 6 because I do actively acknowledge the importance of my self-care and a take part in activities that contribute to improving it.
What are you doing well for you?
One thing I am doing well is making time for one of my newly-found passions: photography. I have been focusing more on how to use this passion as a tool for self-discovery, reflection and social connectivity. Photography has opened up a world of possibilities and has forced me to see things through a different lens, literally!
What could you be doing better or differently?
I think I could be doing a better job of making more time to spend with my family. After my recent relocation from the Bronx to Brooklyn, I do not get to see my family as much and family time is a big aspect of my self-care plan. I know there are only 24 hours in a day, but I think that I could be figuring out how to use them in a way that is more inclusive of this aspect of my life.
Self-Care Check-In with Tianna Avery: “…Never hesitate to ask for help from anyone…”
From Tianna Avery, college student
How would you rate your self-care at the moment on a scale of 1-10?
In terms of self-care, I would give myself a solid 5.
What are you doing well for you?
I think I have a good awareness of all the things I should start doing to start thriving, which I see as simultaneously beneficial and overwhelming.
What could you be doing better or differently?
There are lots of things that come to mind when I think of what I could be doing differently, including (but not limited to) building a healthier relationship with food, having a better sleep schedule, taking my medicine/supplements more regularly, spending more time outside and cleaning/organizing the space around me.
What does self-care mean to you?
Self-care to me means taking conscious steps to make sure my mind and body are nourished, active, and energized.
What are some things students can do to thrive at school?
I think for students to better thrive at school, they should take time to reflect on at least one thing they need and work hard to not compromise themselves on that thing. They should also be aware of their resources and never hesitate to ask for help from anyone (friends, professors, deans, other staff, healthcare providers) whenever they may need it. (Two things that are easier said than done, I know.)
What are you doing to get some joy these days?
For me, I know spending time with friends and getting more sleep will rejuvenate me, and there comes a time every term where taking a break and spending more time indulging in those things is more important than all of my other responsibilities. Making time for hobbies is also important to me! I have been getting back into knitting and playing guitar lately and seeing myself progress on both of those fronts is fulfilling.
Self-Care Check-In with Toni Blackman (Part One)
Team GetSomeJoy stopped by Basquiat’s Bottle in Brooklyn to talk about self-care, ciphers, women in hip hop, and joy with educator, artist, and the first U.S Hip-Hop Ambassador, Toni Blackman.
For the first part of her Self-Care Check-In, Toni—creator of Rhyme Like A Girl and the Freestyle Union Cipher Workshop—gives us some insight into how she’s balancing her personal care with preparing to take the cipher back to Africa, where it all began.
Stay tuned (and subscribe to our Self-Care Check-In of the Week Newsletter) for Part Two of our Self-Care Check-In with Toni Blackman.
How about you? How’s would you rate your self-care right now on a scale of 1-10? Check in and join the conversation on our Community Check-In page.
Self-Care Check-Ins for Couples: Brandon & Donja
Not only are the Self-Care Check-In prompts useful reminders to moisturize your sprit and prioritize your wellness, but combined with the question, “How can I help you be greater today?” you have a free way to help your partner let their soul glow. Together, you can be a mighty, moisturized fist. Everybody wins.
Except the haters.
We asked filmmaker Brandon Nicholas and Playwright Donja Love-Nicholas, Founders of The Each-Other Project to answer:
- How would you rate your self-care right now on a scale of 1-10?
- What are you doing well for you right now?
- What could you be doing better or differently
And then turn to thy neighbor and ask, “How can I help you be greater today?”
Here’s what had happened:
Did you learn anything about Donja from answering the Self-Care Check-In prompts together?
I can be more open to him.
It was eye-opening. I asked how I could support him better, and he told me that being more open with him about what’s going on with me will help him worry less. I wasn’t expecting that. Before I asked, I thought I would be learning more about him needing space for himself. He’s a busy person doing a lot of things, and I’m sure to let him come home and debrief at the end of the day. I don’t want to cause him any more worry or stress.
But when I’m more closed off, it puts him in his head. It actually makes him worry more.
I thought I knew what he needed. I thought I knew what would make his week greater. I thought it would be giving him space when he needs it, not needing more attention and affection. I was caught off guard by that.
When he’s not in a good space, I worry too, so I definitely get what that feeling is like when you don’t know what they’re going through or you have to find out from Facebook or through Tom, Dick, and Harry. It’s not good. Doing this Check-In together helped so much.
I don’t want him stressing about how I’m feeling about him. It affects how he navigates the week. He saw something I posted on Facebook. It was something I put online but didn’t talk to him about. So then he was in his head, wondering what he did last week that got me in this headspace. He’s wondering, “How didn’t I see this?”
He didn’t know any of what was going on. But had I been open with how I was feeling instead of not telling him and putting something online, he wouldn’t have to worry about me and can focus on what is really important, like pursuing all the opportunities the world is giving him.
How was the experience of being open about your self-care and explicit about what you need from Brandon in order to be greater?
It was really helpful in terms of feeling like there were no gray areas or haze between us. It was good for me to be able to say what I need, what I want, and for him to be in a space to know what that is and vice versa.
There is so much going on in the world that we’re individually navigating so it was super helpful to be in a deeper, greater harmony, especially as it relates to my mental health and my well-being, considering how big a part he plays into all of that.
For me, I know he thought I would say that I need more space to be great, working on this play and with Juilliard and all. But he did gag because I think he was thinking I would say what Donja needs or wanted.
What I actually needed was more of him. And to know what’s going on with him and that’s okay. Because when he’s not at peace, I’m not at peace.
I’m thankful we were able to take that moment to communicate all of that openly with one another.
Here’s the trailer for The Each-Other Project’s upcoming web series, Communitea.
Listen to Brandon discussing the importance of the ballroom scene and creating spaces for queer people of color on The Healing Space podcast.
Enesha Stringer on Joy as a Lifeline – “I Refuse to Lose More Loved Ones to Suicide”
I’m at a solid 8 today. I managed to survive a cross country flight even though I had to swallow my pride and fly with the continual disappointment that is Spirit Airlines. I’m proud of how I managed myself and communicated clearly that I was on my way to a funeral when they overbooked my red eye flight and tried to tell me that the seat I paid for was not available.
Can’t cut a fool at the airport, but Spirit will test you…
Anyway, the sudden death in my family reminds me that life is ephemeral, and that I must not only live my fullest life, but continue pouring my energy into building a platform that helps others do the same. I’m reflecting on the history of loss in my family as I recommit to teaching others how to cope and find joy through the pain, and considering just how closely my younger cousins and nieces are watching and depending on me.
I could be doing better with eating more and better food. It’s easy to do in San Francisco, but Metro Detroit is a whole other story. I’m working on speaking the truth in love by being patient and speaking kindly to people even when they interrupt, frustrate, or annoy me.
A Personal Lens
When I was 8 my neighbor committed suicide with a firearm in front of his girlfriend and their young daughter. At 10 my own father died suddenly, leaving my heart cut in half as I attempted to navigate and learn in a world that was, from my perspective, senselessly full of pain, sudden abandonment, and emotional devastation. My big brother Steven died under traumatic circumstances as well, and I felt alone in the world with a mom who tried her best but also needed healing.
My wishes and prayers growing up were that I would live to adulthood, and that I could learn to create my own peace, joy, and contentment—fulfillment that couldn’t be taken from me. I coped with the perpetual heart pain by reframing my second by second circumstances. No matter the situation, I could contemplate an alternative reality that made my own seem grand compared to the other “what ifs” I dreamed up in my head.
Joy as a Lifeline
For me, finding and creating pure joy in unexpected spaces is a lifeline. It was my lifeline when my step dad physically abused me at 14. It was my lifeline when I contemplated suicide and considered what it would be like to no longer be able to experience either pain or joy. It was my lifeline when I decided that I’d rather die attempting to rally the front lines than alone in my room without the proper purple lipstick shade.
It was my lifeline when my god brother committed suicide to attempt to end his heart suffering. And again when a childhood friend took his life because he was not accepted for the beautiful soul he was, and instead was outcast for not conforming.
This is a rallying cry. I refuse to lose another loved one to suicide.
Haters want to steal our joy by discounting our value, manipulating the truth, and projecting blame. Making us think our radiance is too distracting, our shine too bright, and our laugh too loud. They throw shade to mask sadness and insecurity, because true joy is elusive to them.
How you doing cousin?
We have to take care of one another, and we can only do that when we take the best care of ourselves. Do the self-care check-in with your tribe or team to get immediately applicable tools to manage anxiety and depression, get tips on how to be great(er), and learn how to use joy as a clap back for the haters.
My family taught me how to cope and find joy in circumstances that are not ideal, no matter what. We’ve got the tribe on our side, and can bring the levity to any situation. Especially when you add a beat…
Self-Care Check-In with Synitta Walker: “NOT TODAY, SATAN”
From Synitta Walker, Editor of The Extraordinary Negroes
Los Angeles, Ca
On a scale of 1-10, my self-care is about 7.5. I’ve been making myself be still instead of consuming my every waking moment with BUSY.
At this moment, I’ve narrowed down my stressors to two categories: NOT TODAY, SATAN and BREATHE, THEN ADDRESS. This is what I’m doing well right now because it’s helping me to manage my diabetes so that I stay out the heart attack/stroke zone. It also allows me to prioritize what’s truly important and what can be completely removed from my plate of life.
What I want to do better is implement more exercise into my daily life. I used to love working out and it’s another way to eliminate bad stress. I’m also looking for more effective ways to center myself through meditation. My brain stays in Overdrive at a million miles a minute and if I can slow down the mental side of things, I think it will add to my overall self-care.
Self-Care Check-In with Stacia: “Loving myself more…”
…I’d give myself a “7” — and that’s a big change from the “5” I’d have given myself just a year ago. Back then, well-being and balance were on the backburner as I worked hard and not smart. Now, I eat more balanced and fulfilling meals, I move my body often, I delegate more and ask for help, and I take time to slow down and sit still. Most importantly, I no longer jump to do a task until the idea of it brings me ease. In essence, I spend more time living slowly and loving myself more deeply…
— Stacia Yearwood is an unabashedly curious writer, filmmaker, and educator from the beautiful twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. With a penchant for literary and literal rambling, she divides her time between storytelling and scanning cyberspace for the next travel opportunity. She is the curator of the travel blog Paper Passages and founder of the empathic writing service I Hope This Message Finds You Well.
BlackGirlMagic Creator CaShawn Thompson on Nothingness as Self-Care
We talked to #BlackGirlMagic creator and mother CaShawn Thompson about her current self-care situation and why moms shouldn’t feel bad about being nice to themselves while raising humans and expending all their motherly mojo.
How would you rate your self-care on a scale of 1-10?
A strong 7, coming up on an 8.
What are you doing well for you right now?
I’m sitting doing nothing. Not even thinking about what’s happening for tomorrow. I’ve taken those thoughts out of my head for the night. It takes me about 45 minutes when I get home to wind down. I can talk to my family when I get home. And I can chill when I get home. And I’ve done both.
What could you be doing better or differently?
I take my self-care one day at a time. Maybe I could be thinking about it more. Planning my nothingness rather than just falling into it. Scheduling my time to do nothing at all, appreciating that I have that flexibility. There’s nothing holding me back from that, not even the guilt that I used to feel.
What is self-care to you?
I’ve never really thought about my self-care. For the past 25 years I feel like I’ve been taking care of other people—my kids and other people’s kids. I feel like there are small pockets of nothingness in between when I get to do nothing. That is self-care to me. It’s not necessarily doing something in particular. It’s the freedom to do nothing at all. But I wasn’t always here.
What changed the game for you?
It was the moment that I stopped glorifying being busy. When I stopped being concerned about that, these intermissions became more common and longer to me. It became very “I deserve.” I do deserve.
Even if it’s just vegging out on my couch and doing nothing. That’s what self-care means to me.
My life was going from a kid to an adult just like that and taking care of people for 25 years. The freedom to do absolutely nothing—that’s my self-care. Knowing that I don’t have to do anything if I don’t want to, and that it’s okay. It feels great to not get dressed, put on my robe and watch some shit on Netflix for six hours.
For me, it’s not necessarily getting a manicure, going to get my hair done, or writing poetry. I just want to chill. If I’m not at work taking care of somebody’s child, I’m at home taking care of somebody else child. So I love quiet and stillness.
Only in the past year as my kids have become adults, those intermissions became longer. When they were younger, when I put them to bed at nine, those two hours I had was my self-care. I did next to nothing.
With the packing lunches, the cleaning, the preparing clothes, those pockets of nothing were so small. I savored it by doing nothing.
How do you love on yourself and get back some of that motherly mojo you expend?
As a young mother, I experienced shame then around taking care of myself. Women around me from previous generations used to bully me for doing stuff for me. They would tell me, “You’re a mother now. You’re a woman now. Your life isn’t yours and everything is about them now.”
But I stopped feeling shame about that around 10 years ago ago. I started living for myself. Taking trips. Being good to myself.
That’s right. You gotta treat yo’self.
We carry so much shame as parents and mothers. We think, “There’s always something to be done.” I learned that you can always do nothing and everything will be okay.
Once I shook all that weight off, I relished my time of nothingness.
I deserve like shit. I laid around and felt zero guilt. I didn’t love or parent my kids any less. I just poured into myself more.
When you deal with mental illness—like me and my depression—those times feel 180 degrees from other times because I physically can’t get up. And I’m messed up mentally and emotionally but I still have to provide, so I need that time to recharge.
Shoutout to leaning into the nothingness.
Exactly. It’s about being purposeful in your nothingness.
How do you navigate those intergenerational parenting differences and find?
That nothingness was always bone of contention with my mother when my kids were young. She would always say, “You don’t get no breaks, you a mom. You sacrifice everything. You don’t come first.”
I hate to hear people tell moms that. You’re denied pleasure and feeling good and don’t deserve good things because you’re a mom and that’s bullshit.
Just like they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first on airplanes, you can’t pour from an empty vessel.
Your kids deserve to see you happy. It’s okay for your kids to see you not doing anything. Your kids have to see you happy so they know it’s okay for them to be happy.
I heard that from the time I became a mother. I feel like I grew up with my kids. Now, my stepdaughters have kids, and I never tell them, “You don’t deserve to have joy.” I would never tell them anything that made them feel like they don’t deserve to have things or to be happy, just because they’re someone’s mom.
I don’t want them to lose themselves in the midst of being mothers because it’s not necessary.
Your joy is essential to their joy.
Exactly. In the quest to be a good mother, don’t worry about being perfect. Be a good enough mother. Your kids will be happy if you’re happy.
This stereotype of the long-suffering sacrificial stereotype—I never wanted to be that. Why I gotta die inside to be these kids’ mom? I always wondered, “What kind of mom can you be if you’re dead inside?”
I don’t believe in any of that. We all deserve.
Self-Care Check-In with Mario: “So Much Love…”
Self-Care Check-In With Asha: “63 Years Young, Hooping Strong”
Oh, hey. Behind the scenes, we’re in the midst of pulling together this entire self-care check-in situation. We’re building a database of resources to help you facilitate wellness at home, school and work. We’re also working with community partners to create Self-Care Check-In™ Experiences in unexpected places.
We’re excited. We look forward to involving you in this initiative and to lead with a new posture that highlights expressions of compassion and love for ourselves and for our communities.
— Team GetSomeJoy.
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