Caring for yourself on the edge of unknown disaster.
Or: How I got over.
What it is? What’s up?
If you’ve been following me on social media, or we’re friends in real life, you know that I’ve been dealing with chronic illness since 2018. I don’t talk about my conditions much online (taint nobody’s business if I do!), though I have been really vocal about my reproductive health issues. Because of subpar care, I spent most of 2018 and 2019 sick, in bed, and just plain missing out on my life as I had previously understood it. I couldn’t just jump up and go to happy hour, or run to NYC for a free summerstage show. I almost missed Anita Baker at the Capital Jazz Festival because of my bitch ass uterus, y’all. Do you know how mad I would have been? Child! Anyway. Yeah. Anita was stellar, but my uterus had another year of terror for me. So I learned to deal with being at home a lot, in pain a lot, and scared a whole lot. And that’s what this newsletter is about. How I cared for myself on the edge of unknown disaster. Maybe you’ll be edified by my offering, or be inspired to work to care for yourself and others as we move through this intense and scary time.
I got really good at running multiple errands simultaneously. I was already tired all the time, right? So I mapped my errands. Did I need to be at 22nd and Market at 2, and 7th and Walnut at 4? I figured out other errands to run between the two, so I didn’t have to leave my house every single day of every week. I built myself a refuge in my schedule. If you’re able to do this, please do. Especially since we’re being encouraged to minimize non-essential travel.
I fell in love with the vast trove of concert footage on YouTube. Seriously. I have bumped into some really dope stuff simply scrolling through recommendations based on my most watched videos. I’m sayin’, don’t you wanna watch Teddy Pendergrass Live in London, or the first ever Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards? You do. Or maybe you wanna look for your faves and make a playlist. Do that. It’ll feel like you’re doing something other than hanging around at home.
I practiced connection instead of collection. What do I mean by this? I mean I took the time to build intimate friendships with people, instead of racking up shallow social affiliations. To be frank, I chose (and continue to choose) quality relationships that encourage the growth of all parties. My closest friends are such because of how we open up to and care for one another. Since most of these friends are across state lines, oceans, and entire continents, we used technology to stay in meaningful touch. Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, Marco Polo … you name it and I’ve probably used it. Recently, I’ve been telling friends what books I’m reading and strongly encouraging them to join me. Maybe you and your long distance loves can build playlists or skillshare sessions. Whatever y’all choose, please remember there are seemingly infinite possibilities. And we get to explore them together, even if we’re not physically present with each other.
My love for music and learning have sustained me thus far. I’m currently reading Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown, while revisiting bell hooks’ Sisters of the Yam for the 20,000th time, and being pushed to reenvison myself through Sabrina Strings’ Fearing the Black Body. I’m minimizing my time outdoors and figuring out a home yoga practice. I’m talking with fellow organizers about using #AnonCrowdfund to help folks who cannot work from home. I’m spending more time listening to the fearful chatter in the back of my mind. Scared Lenée has something to say that I may be able to use in service of myself and others.
In this time of government agencies, private corporations, and leeching billionaires running (and ruining) everything for regular folks like me and you, it’s really key that we learn how to fortify ourselves. If all you can do is take care of you, do that. If you can assemble a crew to deliver food or buy groceries for the most susceptible, do that. If your job offers you unlimited work from home? Use that shit. Figure out how to support people whose kids can’t go to school. Please use what you have to first care for yourselves. We live together and it’s on us to take the best care we can to get to the next stage togther.
So, as I wrap this up, please remember that fear is natural. The scarcity of resources is not; it is engineered by the same people “protecting” those COVID-19 testing kits and denying the usage of Medicaid to test people. Look at what you can do to help, and do it if you can. Please be safe. Please be gentle with yourselves and others. The panic is palpable everywhere I go. Streets are emptying, along with store shelves. While all this happens, I hope our hearts can be full of joy despite it all. Take care, sweet peas.
And wash your damn hands!