When the Big Leagues Flirt with you.

Please note, I am not naming names because I don’t roll that way. I also am not out for revenge and while I’m still a little salty, shit happens.

For this entry we’re going back in time to the original publication of Self Care Like A Boss. Self Care For Life. It was 2012 and I had an ongoing, we’ll call it flirtation with an acquisitions editor for a publishing house. Not a huge one but big enough. The relationship began (and it is gonna sound a lot like dating because that is how it felt to me) with this person reaching out after I’d made a blog post about fat sex and they felt very seen and affirmed.

I love that shit.

We talked a lot via email and it wasn’t until I released SCLAB that this person told me that part of why they contacted me was that they worked in publishing.

If you’re not a writer, this is like being plucked from absolute obscurity and having someone make you the fairy prince/ess of your dreams. They said ALL the things that got to my heart. They expressed regret and anger at some fatosphere shade thrown my way. They didn’t ask me to tone it down, didn’t tell me not to say fat or Black so much.

It felt like it was all going to happen.

It was those heady blogger book deal days. I’d already had my fat book idea pooped on. I’d not been offered opportunities to be part of the larger (whiter) fatosphere. And I just wanted it.

I needed it.

This person went ghost for a few months and returned with news. The company was interested. Except they wanted less empowerment, less focus on doing some hard shit and more You Go Girl Sassy Sage Black Woman advice.

I was heartbroken.

It was another thing I didn’t really share with folks because the parameters of what might ultimately make my work acceptable were narrow. They didn’t want me. They wanted some other Negress rolling her neck, snapping her fingers and spitting out quips that would make White women feel comfortable and happy and woke.

Not me.

The editor was apologetic and embarrassed. Basically what they wanted was a dilution of what made people like the work. But the people who liked and used my suggestions, were not their demographic.

This has been and is a recurring theme in my life and work.

We’ll talk more about it but really, every time big publishing has flirted with me privately, this his how it has ended up.

This happened when folks suggested I join popular blogs. My “style” was never compatible. I said fuck a lot. I was too militant. Too much. Too angry. To Black.

This is the double edge of me being me and doing the work I do.

Some of the people who gas me up the hardest, only do it in a very limited way. Never in the open where their vast networks can see. Never where it might actually benefit me and my work. The hand up is never offered to me. This happens to me in my more literary life. In meatspace everywhere.

Because I am the potato I am, my first inclination every time is to go inward. I have to examine my work, my motives and my outcome. There was a section in the original that turned out to be really cissexist and when I understood that I cut it out. I wasn’t at a point where I knew how to effectively not use cis centric language about crotches and health and sex so I stopped. I knew my intentions were pure but, as we all know intentions ain’t shit.

The integrity of my work is that important to me.

Knowing this, I have to be careful I don’t go so far up my own butt I can’t get out. This is an anxiety thing. Once I recognized that I am usually able to not crawl up in the great unknown too far.

That said, I also realized that these flirtations and rescinded opportunities didn’t/don’t mean my work isn’t worthy.

That has been a really bad part about this dynamic. It causes me a degree of cognitive dissonance that just fucks me up so bad.

I hear the cheers and YAYS and then nothing. I have connected how poorly I react to this thing to trauma I’ve experienced in my life from emotional abuse etc. And the fact that at the bottom of it, I am still the little kid holding my poem up after being told how smart and good I was and having no one give a shit.

That realization fuckin broke me y’all. And once I saw it, I can’t unsee it. I can’t not think about it when I see (white women I know especially) gas the fuck out of everyone in public but me.

This is why when I say that if ask my community for anything directly most of the time nothing happens. This intersects with the fact that Black women and femmes have a hard time getting real support outside of our most intimate communities.

Once upon a time, I didn’t have the gall to name these things or say they are traumatic and are fucking up my work. I believed that if I was gonna be a real artist, I’d just suck it up and figure it out. Nah son.

I’ll wrap it up here. The end result of these flirtations is that no I don’t tend to jump at opportunities. I don’t get my hopes up. Most of the time, I have zero faith in promised support or whatever because I can’t emotionally afford to and still get the work done. That’s where I am at.

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Some Background. And answers.

Hi again folks.

Guess who is still ALL the way in their feels?

Yep your host.

I’d like to take this opportunity to explain a few things about why I am saying all these things.

The first thing is this. SCLAB is the culmination of many dreams and part of my hearts/soul work. I FULLY believe in my theories, methods and work on this. The ultimate version of SCLAB lives in notebooks and I believe I will figure out how to get iti into the world without harming myself.

Thing number two. Part of my spiritual and mental healing involves acknowledging and saying things like, I’m hurt. I’m traumatized. I feel fucked up. This is important to me because the way I have traditionally dealt with my own trauma is to deny it. Or maybe say my feelings are hurt and then follow up with gaslighting the fuck out of myself because I just didn’t know how to cope. I was/am (I STILL struggle with it) terrified of being seen  and therefor leaving myself open to more harm.

The worst part about thing number two is that, on the most base level, being really seen and appreciated for who I am is my mother fucking love language. You want to show me you love me? THIS. Whether it is getting my dork ass jokes, showing me a meme you think I’d like, understanding that frequently I ain’t shit and to sometimes just let me be ain’t shit.

For instance. If you don’t know, I am a highly anxious, tense bag of shit. I’m high strung as fuck. I’m easily startled. I am a semi feral housecat. The type that will post up on top of the fridge lookin like a frickin badass gargoyle but then screams and runs away from a piece of paper. That’s just who I am. The people who show their love for me in the ways that matter to me, accept it. Sometimes they have to tell me to calm the fuck down. Sometimes, they just let me spin out until I work it out.

Being seen and continually loved while I’m having a scaredy cat freakout is important.

It is also emotionally treacherous territory for me. There have been folks both in my private life and in the context of my work (that is often nakedly me) who have used my need to be seen and exposing myself emotionally against me.

When I was working on V2.0 and the whole new book, I got stuck in a loop. The part of me that needs to do this work was ready to go. The practical brain with a helping of my lizard asshole brain continued to remind me of the ways in which I was wasting my time, Milcah’s time, folks money everything. Along with that, I have had to really force myself to deal with the reality of wandering around the world in my body.

I’ve had to just accept that yes, my fatigue and health problems mean I have to re-evaluate my use of my spoons. When I was younger, I could do the glamorous writer thing of being strung out on insomnia and stress and still work. It wasn’t this work but I could still write. As my writing has evolved and changed, I can’t work from that place anymore.  I don’t have the privilege of not worrying about a return on expended effort.

If I wreck myself working whether it is SCLAB or essays or whatever and I don’t recoup anything, it hurts my work. It hurts my pockets which is the worse thing for me. I’ve tried ignoring the costs of my creative efforts. I’ve spent years trying to convince myself that it is totally fine to do the work and get no return. That might be okay for some folks but for me not so much.

It’s not romantic but it is my reality.

Now we’re here.

I have been writing SCLAB material in secret. I still have my hand written weird blueprints for what I want SCLAB to be.

I don’t know how to do it and not fuck myself up.

That’s why we are here.

I still fully believe in this work and my ability to do it. I believe that my voice here, my perspective and methodology is valuable. I believe.

*Insert clapping here*

The thing I’ve realized is that I need to get through this stuff before I can really figure out what I want/need to do.

Am I going to unleash the SCLAB of my dreams?

I dunno.

Am I going to write another book?

FUCK I DO NOT KNOW.

This here is progress. And I am happy. OH ALSO pls ignore construction dust, I’ve been nerd noodling again and some things may not work the way they are supposed to. Bear with me.

In my Feels.

Okay so I want to talk some about the process I’ve gone through with SCLAB in terms of my feelings.

For reference I have to confess that I am ALWAYS FULL OF FEELINGS. If you want some woo in astrological terms I am a MEGA PISCES. In less woo terms, my gut tells me. Things are fucked up when I don’t go with my gut and I KNOW THIS.

A large part of my feelings means I gotta talk it out. I have to write it down. I am that kind of writer. I just need to let it out so I can figure it out, decide what to do and get to doing it.

I HAVE to process my feelings and understand them, understand myself so I can work. When I say work I mean write not dayjob. If I can’t work life sucks. I hate it, I hate myself and I hate the world.

One thing working through the stages of SCLAB I not only relearned but really reinforced was that my gut is most often right. While working through SCLAB I often had terrible feelings.

Among them:

  • Shame (for having the audacity to think on a very grand scale about this work)
  • Embarrassment (different than shame. Mainly because of some of the reception to this work, being embarrassed to be SO emotional all the fucking time)
  • Hope (because I really believe/d in what this work the way do it is revolutionary)
  • Depression (because I couldn’t deliver ANYTHING right)
  • Anxiety (because I am a very anxious person but specifically I was terrified that I had made a grave mistake, was wasting the time and energy and love of my dearest Milcah, that my inability to do this thing in a way that would hook that monied audience was somehow a moral failure and thus made me not good enough to work with Milcah)
  • Traumatized (by stuff we’ll get to next)

Now I wrote about some of these feels but I tried really hard not to expose all of it.

The root of a lot of this is personal trauma from my life. Not to get too bloody about it, but a lot of my trauma involves being rejected by people I trusted because I was expressing feelings that they didn’t want to hear/see or that caused them bother. I work on it but it is one of those types of trauma that will show up like fucking roaches and ruin everything.

What made a lot of processing and working these feelings out was that there was/is a good amount of subjective data to support a lot of the bad feelings I had. Including people who nakedly plagiarized my work. No I’m not naming names because I’ve forgotten them to protect myself.

There were (are?) people who very directly shit on my work. Some of them followed up with that by using my work. One person called it “bad fluffy advice” stole a whole chapter from SCLAB V.1 and did a workshop she charged money for based on it WHILE making the whole book available to her customers as a free PDF. I only know because someone who had signed up for the course told me. When confronted, she told me she was “inspired” by me and “didn’t mean any harm”.

I told her to either pay me or remove ALL my material from her website/class.

She didn’t pay and only reluctantly removed the material when I said I was getting a lawyer.

That happened at least three times before I did V2.0.

I saw someone who made a point to write to me about my XOJane pieces to tell me how bad they were.

A couple of years later, I found that this person had actually wholesale lifted several of those pieces and used them on her blog to draw in followers which, because she was a smiling nice white lady got.

There are few things that happen to me on the regular, that fuck me up so bad.

This has been a pattern in terms of my work for twenty years. From a little thing I wrote in the 90s about inclusion vs diversity being wholesale reprinted in something I picked up with attribution and payment to someone else, to my fat blog work being put in text books without even so much as my given name attributed to SCLAB material.

While working on the next iteration of SCLAB with Milcah I was feeling these things very deeply but I was too traumatized and ashamed to tell Milcah these things. I still believed that this pattern of abuse was my own fault, I couldn’t see this as abuse. I saw it as me failing myself, the work and Milcah.

Looking back, I realize that a lot of what was going on was me not understanding that the thefts and literal taking of money from my pockets is in fact abuse.

I still struggle with it.

The reality of this being a thing that happens to me means that I am constantly on the lookout for it. I am constantly weighing the risk of putting my energy (and spending spoons I don’t have)into something as massive as I want SCLAB to be, only to not only NOT make money but have it stolen.

This is very real.

The fallout has peppered most of my creative life.

I am afraid to:

  1. Accept invitations to events that I am able to go to.
  2. Be as open as I’d like about what I’m up to.
  3. Have hope.

That last one is huge.

On the practical side of things, I cannot afford in any way to spend spoons and money on a large project that no one will buy/participate in. I just can’t.

So I quit it all and here we are.

I’m recovering but y’all, shit is hard. Especially when dealing with traumas like this means, part of the work that fulfills my soul is on hold.

When the Research Proves you Right.

Okay so in the years that SCLAB was being published and I was constantly thinking about it, I started doing a lot of intense research and analytics. I am not the most entrepreneurial type person. In spite of the constant pressure to BE UR OWN BOSS, if you are gonna be an author YOU MUST WEAR ALL HATS! MASTER MARKETING! PAY FOR THEM ADS? DO THE ANALYSIS!

This has gone on for many years. For context, these are things I’ve been learning, doing, researching for more than a decade. What I’m gonna be talking about isn’t a result of being a noob or ignorance.

I was operating under the belief that, I HAD to go balls to the wall to be ALL of those things. I did not believe that my personal marginalizations mattered in the success of my work or my ventures. I believed fundamentally that I was just not the right person to be doing any of what I was doing.

This was reinforced by the results of my data hoarding and anxiety fueled analysis of said data. When I included the results of interactions with folks the trend that started when I was a Fat Activist blogger that publishers/lit folks liked to flirt with but not hold hands with in public really showed a consistent pattern of things.

What things? The first thing my years of data poking showed me was that my White audience tended/tends to love me when I’m upset. Sometimes it is the need to see racial pain porn.Frequently, especially when I was just overwhelmed and really just hollering into the void about my pain, I saw my traffic spike. That pattern has stayed consistent. The other half of this pattern is a lack of matching engagement from that same audience.

When it comes to my SCLAB related work, I’ve seen a very similar pattern over the years.

Why am I talking White folks here?

In learning about the marketing and ALL the things, I have rarely if ever come across the acknowledgement that especially for a POC, a lot of this will depend on what Whiteness as a thing thinks of it. That is just how it is. I knew when I was getting ready to unleash more SCLAB on the world, I’d need to hook Whiteness to a degree.

However, what happened was a repeat of the pattern of how my work is treated. Here’s some of what happened.

  1. Cheerleading. U GO GIRL! I CAN’T WAIT! OMG EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE THIS.- This was pre-release.
  2. I ask for engagement. Because one of the ubiquitous marketing things (especially the ones that try very hard to come across as kinda woowoo) is to ask your community for what you need.
  3. Crickets.
  4. I ask again. Now 90% of the time when I ask I am very specific about what I need. I will say, please boost this, share this, read this, buy, etc.
  5. Crickets.
  6. My feelings are hurt.
  7. I try again.
  8. Rinse.
  9. Repeat.
  10. Cry.

Unfortunately, I’ve learned that when the ask comes from me directly, not much is going to happen. I have a small circle of ride or die folks who honestly sometimes go so far out of their way to engage/do the things it is great but I feel guilty because bottom line, it isn’t enough. Those folks are usually also marginalized, don’t have immense social capital or influence and are often also poor folks.

The fact is this.

I have access to people with massive influence. I have seen them get things that are like 10K fundraisers funded in a matter of hours. These are people who have done #1 with me and my work for years and if ask for help, or take them up on previous offers for help nothing.

I hate to be saying this.

I’ve talked about it in the context of my literary life but, y’all. It has impacted everything and is also a large part of why SCLAB did not happen the way I wanted.

I tried to remedy this by taking yet more classes. I’ve interacted with some academic type things for indie artists. But, again the problem of being a Black femme is just there.

The realness of it is that for as rah rah the (mainly) white women I know and the power they have, it is never open to me.

So many of the folks I’m thinking of have the stuff that an audience for SCLAB would need to help me launch it.

  • Disposable income
  • HUGE influences
  • Motivation to do something (except for me)

I’ve seen them do it. I’ve watched it and privately sat in tears because I can’t get ten clicks on something folks have told me they wanted.

This has been a pattern that runs real deep. For years. For most of my career. And for me, feeling the fullness of that level of rejection weighed so heavily on me, V2.0 of SCLAB suffered because I felt these things but understood them as just me having my usual anxious weirdo bad feels and not as a result of all those years of data. I thought it was just writing jitters, which is a thing I do.

It wasn’t.

I thought I was just being emotionally difficult and a hard person to work with. I felt this crushing pressure (created by me to be clear) to find that magical formula to make shit work. As a result, I couldn’t write the material I wanted to write. I was hearing the haters in my head, I did some extra research because I believed on some level that I was in fact stealing from mental health professionals (we’ll get to that later), that I was giving the worst advice etc.

And I believed I could change that and in so doing change myself into the person or persona or presentation that would bring that White support and power to help me create my dream.

It was all a fucking lie.

Well Hello There.

Hello there universe. It me, I now it has been a very long time.

I want to come back and talk about some things and explain the absence of new material, ways in which I’ve changed and why I’m still in limbo as to what will happen to SCLAB.

First we go back in time.

For most of 2011/2012 I was working furiously on a little book. At just under 7K words, Self Care like a Boss the original was born and sold at Smashwords for a whopping two bucks a pop. I legit sold under 200 copies. Someone stole (reported buying then demanded a refund) something like 130 copies and by the end of that year, I had lost about 300$.

I had been studying indie artist shit for a while at that point. I had a good gb on my harddrive full of guides, books etc about it. I’d dabbled here and there in monetizing content as it existed back then. I was also still pretty interested in a back of the mind type of way in big house publishing. Granted, at that point the book deals for bloggers thing was slowing down, the interest in my work on that front was a taste of what the future would hold for me. And it tasted like shit.

To that point, my brushes with Big House publishing had gone as follows.

  1. OMG I LOVE YOU
  2. SO NECESSARY
  3. SO REFRESHING
  4. THE WORLD NEEDS YOUR VOICE

From there, to slightly more formal communication.

Most everything ended with a, “if you’d just” then insert thing or mix them:

  • Not be so militant.
  • TOO BLACK OH JESUS
  • Too many fwords
  • Do you have to use fat?

Etc.

It wasn’t good. I did jump at one and was ghosted hardcore. It felt pretty shitty but, I was still writing so I figured it just wasn’t “my time” yet.

Looking back, I probably wasn’t ready for it even though I really, REALLY wanted that book deal.

That being how it was, I kept writing. I blogged. I started dabbling in being an essayist and I started working on SCLAB V.1. I continued educating myself, I learned SEO etc etc.

By the time V.1 was as ready as I could get it, I had some very firm up front beliefs.

  1. I believed in my message.
  2. I believed that using my unique ability to code switch and be vulnerable AND help people who might’ve been struggling like I did was too important to wait for “the right time”.
  3. Fuck it right?

I was deeply overwhelmed and amazed that anyone bought it. And that people were contacting me to say, thank you. It wasn’t the best edited thing. It was messy. Not optimally organized and not the greatest thing. I loved it anyway.

I was pleased enough to upon request rebpulish on etsy and sell about 100 or so more copies.

It was great.

Right before I released the thing, I commented (no comments anymore but it started a thing) on this (NSFW) interview with my beloved Milcah. You’ll see later on why this is important.

So SCLAB V.1 was born. After that, not much happened for a few years. And then, I had an opportunity to write more about self-care and for a whole new audience.Having come from being in the Fatosphere at the height of it, at that point I’d been harassed, doxxed, had racists go buck fuck wild on my posts, etc.

Writing at XOJane re-exposed me to some things.

  1. There are a good number of people who will forever hate every word I say about anything ever. They will probably post on the internet somewhere somethig like:
    “OMG SHE SAID SHE LIKES PUPPIES GROSS” and get then some cosigns and high fives. And that’s fine. (Full disclosure: I had some very serious friends who tracked some of the threads/hateration and that was quite sweet so I’m pretty aware of why folks don’t like me)
  2. Writing a column isn’t necessarily for me.
  3. I find commentary that is raging out about minor shit really fucking annoying.

Now this was around the time when SCLAB V.2 was on and poppin and, I felt something but I wasn’t sure what it was.

I’ve said before that V.2 wasn’t the total best. It was the best I could do at the time.

I had some stuff going on that I wasn’t quite at dealing with or naming yet. Ahem so this is what I’m going to be doing for a few posts. I’m going to FINALLY talk about everything that has kinda trashed my dream.

That is about when it started. I had this creeping erosion of something I just didn’t know what.

I think that is all today. There’ll be more.

AND I should tell y’all Imma talk about Milcah a lot. And you should check this out if you are interested in marijuana culture and education and the gorgeousness that is Milcah and April.

 

What Even Is SCLAB?

What the shit are you even saying?

I want to take a break from instructional stuff today to talk about my self-care philosophy.

Let’s cover the basics real quick like:

  • Taking care of yourself as best you are able to.
  • Doing things that will improve the quality of your lived life.
  • These things can include: paying bills, learning to budget, taking care of your skin, unlearning your biases, dealing with being called out, knowing how to apologize when you fuck up and other stuff.
  • TREAT YOSELF!
  • Don’t treat yoself calm down.
  • Learning how to teamwork life improvements.
  • Feeling well taken care of so you can in turn take care of others/be a helpful part of your community.
  • Navigating the world in the body you have and learning to have a relationship with it.
  • Radicalize your life by not just surviving.
  • Want to be an SJW Mage? We’ll learn how to learn about that AND take care of ourselves.

Self-care in these parts has a lot of facets and impacts our entire lives. Self-care as I talk about it is intersectional. I fully believe in the transformative power of intersectional self-care.

So what does that mean for you?

For you here’s what I ask of you. When you’re in this space, please be aware that I am a Level 100 Social Justice Mage and everything I talk about in terms of self-care is gonna be flavored with that. That means, that I will do my absolute best to be as inclusive as I possibly can and that, might make some of y’all uncomfortable.

I am purposefully and explicitly welcoming of, and center marginalized people in my work. That means that in reading this work, be aware that you personally might not be centered but, that does not mean you can’t come along for the ride. I also encourage you (you who whatever advice doesn’t pertain to specifically) to hold onto the info for reference. I mean, coming up I’m going to be talking about stuff like dealing with periods when you may not have access to privacy, I bet you know somebody who has periods so that’ll be info you can share.

I very specifically will not respond to or entertain anything that even vaguely smells like transphobia, homophobia, racism, classism etc. Nah. We are not doing that here except in the context of dealing with those things and later on tools for unlearning them. Otherwise? Nope.

There is so much other bullshit in the world that makes us feel terrible, makes our days harder and overall does not  contribute to our well-being, I don’t want this space to be infected by that.

The rules here are very simple.

  1. Don’t be an asshole. Not one of us is the One True Knower of Things and that is okay. Just don’t be a jerk.
  2. Please don’t crown me as responsible for speaking to or for ALL experiences and permutations of human life. I can’t do that. I’m one human with some stuff to share.
  3. There is no One True Way to utilize self-care or talk about it. What I’m doing is one way, maybe you like a different way and that’s okay too. Not everything is for everyone and that is pretty great.
  4. Please don’t use my recommendations to abuse yourself. If you are unable to do something, or don’t understand it etc, please don’t feel bad. We’re all human, some of us can do a lot of stuff some of us can’t. It’s fine.

That is pretty much all. The big one is number one. Don’t be an asshole to yourself or to other folks.

Before I go I do want to mention a few other things.

Some of the things I talk about when I talk about self-care, there are always a few people who turn up their noses because GOSH that’s just common sense.

Let me tell y’all a story about me.

When I was a young adult potato, I moved into what was at the time the nicest place I’d had my name on the lease. I felt very fancy and very adult.

Of the many small disasters that happened, the one that sent me into a wailing tornado of panic was completely stopping up my toilet. It wasn’t slow, it wasn’t just a lil backed up- y’all there was poo water on my brand new bathroom rug.

To say I freaked out would be an understatement. I lost my entire shit and was walking around my apartment like, “well fuck I guess I gotta move now.” “I’m gonna get evicted for breaking the toilet.” “Why am I so stupid I should…” Y’all get the drift. My meltdown was fueled by panic, then shame because I didn’t know what to do, then more panic, more shame, until I was a snotty faced mess laying on the floor in my living room crying my eyes out.

Now, I look back and say, “poor silly little potato it was just some poop. All I needed was a little bit of time, a plunger, very hot water and patience.

That said, looking back I can say, UGH it is COMMON FRIGGIN SENSE TO KNOW WHAT TO DO! But is it? Nobody had ever shown me how to unclog a wrecked toilet.

The point of that story is this. I don’t believe that folks should just know stuff. Sometimes, someone has to tell you stuff and sometimes you gotta write it down or ask someone about it for the millionth time-how we get the info isn’t as important that we get the info.

Learning is fucking awesome. Learning stuff that might give us a better day to day quality of life? MORE AWESOME!

That’s why I’m still doing this work and why I’m hard at work behind the scenes to create something bigger and better.

So there you have it y’all.

Come back next time we’ll get into some quick and dirty financial how tos.

For Marginalized Folks especially

Hey, hey you.

Marginalized folks especially those of us who deal with a barrage of bullshit daily, we need to talk about some things. I feel like this is especially important for those of us who are involved in any flavors of social justice, dealing with sexism or transmisogyny because you exist it is especially important to have an exit strategy for the days when it’s too much.

Yes, marginalized folks. Hello, darlings. Look at Auntie Shannon.

You, please yes you.

You do not have to fight every fight. You do not have to engage with every instance of mega bullshit. You do not have to suffer for the cause all the time.

I know how difficult it can be to disengage. These things that we fight for matter so much and have such a profound effect on our lives, our instinct is to stay in it. We will get more into it but, I want y’all to know I get it, I live it and we’re going to talk about it.

We all know by now that stress kills. And we also know that sometimes we can’t go it all alone. Let’s start learning or remembering that we are not beasts of burden. We deserve to have or develop self-care skills to help us in our fight. We can help each other, to survive and care for ourselves.

As some of y’all are bound to have already figured out, part of my inspiration in embarking on writing seriously about self-care the way I do is Audre Lorde.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

― Audre Lorde

I read that in Audre Lorde’s book A Burst of Light; Essays  a long time ago and that quote has rattled around inside my head since then. I don’t want to just help you all and myself commit these acts of political warfare, I want to explode the entire notion of what and how self-care is supposed to be done.

Way back when, we had a post here about my beliefs about self-care. You can read that here. Those things are all still absolutely true things I believe. What moves me right now is that I have accepted the inherent radical nature of what I’m writing. I have tussled with the notion of keeping things a bit more light and presenting a “nicer” face to make my work about self-care more easily digestible.

Part of my responsibility in our relationship is keeping it 100 with y’all and with myself. To only present the give yourself a mani or take a bath type advice would be disingenuous and we both deserve more.

This is more.

Acknowledging and honoring the deeply rebellious, radical act that self-care for marginalized people is. Our survival on our own terms. We get to be the boss. We get to figure out how to live as well as we possibly can regardless of what our cultures teach us about whether or not we deserve to live as well as we can.

For those folks who are not really living the marginalized person life, I want you along for the ride. I want you to witness and learn and hopefully start getting a deeper understanding of ways you can support your friends like me.

Now. Before I go, my friends please remember.

No fight will be won if you are too burnt out to fight it.

You don’t have to have “an excuse” to bow out.

You are in charge of how and what you do. Not all of the fight has to be boots on the ground. We’ll talk about that more in depth later.

Now how about some homework?

I would like y’all to spend a little bit of time acknowledging and honoring your efforts to fight the good fight. And I want you to tell your Team or your Squad you love them and what they do. No matter if you’re in the street marching, writing articles, writing posts on facebook, retweeting, signal boosting etc. Spend some time with knowing that you are contributing even on days when you have other shit to do.

And if you don’t have a team to tell you-

Thank you for what you do. Thank you how you do it and please take care of yourself.

 

Basic Skin Care for fun!

Things have been a little bit too serious up in here so let’s talk about something I LOVE and is part of the backbone of my self-care. This is post #1 and we’re going to cover mainly the absolute basics to get started.

Let’s talk skin care.

DUNDUNDUUUUUUUUUUUN.

Okay first groundrules.

1.) Skin care is not a gendered thing. Yes, marketing TELLS US that manly men who are the manliest must ONLY HAVE grey bottled shit with names like PUNCH THE SUN! Nah. We ain’t doing that here. Do you have skin? Okay skin care is for you.

2.) In this space we are going to practice skin care outside of Western Beauty ideals. So we’re not focusing on being the fairest or the “most beautiful”. Nah son.

3.)  There is no right way or wrong way for this. Some stuff will be awesome for you and terrible for me. Some stuff will interfere with your medical conditions or mine. That’s okay! I’m only one person and as a reminder it is not possible to speak to/recommend for every human variable. As with all advice, take what works and don’t what won’t or what will not be good for you in particular.

4.) Who is skin care for? You. All of you.

Let’s get started.

First let’s talk about some basics. For starting from scratch I suggest a nice gentle cleanser even if you don’t wear make up. If you’re low on cash head to your local drugstore or dollar store. There are tons of inexpensive, skin friendly things like Noxema or Noxema type cleansers, I recommend liquids over bar soaps generally speaking. And not the same stuff you wash your butt with. Stuff made for your body is often far more cleansing than you need on your face.

I can also recommend things like: cetaphil or store brands of it, Aveeno products, Neutrogena. In many cases, you won’t have to spend over 10$.

If you and a friend are both super broke and need facewash of some kind here’s my suggestion. Go to the dollar store nearest you and buy one of those little travel toiletry kits or a little bottle. Then, y’all go to the drugstore together pick something mild out and split it with you.

Next step (remember y’all this is the MOST basic stuff right now) you need moisture. Even if your skin is oily or greasy you NEED MOISTURE. Water your flowers, water your body, hydrate your skin in and out.

First, drink stuff. Water, Gatorade, Hot leaf water (tea), Hot bean water (coffee), whatever. Get liquids into your body. Hydration is great for your whole being. The best advice I ever got about it was, if you don’t hydrate try doing so for a few weeks. Consciously make an effort to drink more. Watch your pee. Yep seriously. Super clear? You’re probably pretty hydrated and you can slow down. Pee dark and stank? Drink some ding dang water and put down the hot bean water for a minute.

Don’t like water? You have options. Love water? You have options too. Only like your water cold? I reuse my liter (you can use smaller) bottles of sparkly water I like, I wash them fill them with plain water and stick them in the fridge because I freakin love cold water.

Now that we’ve got that covered, you’re gonna need to moisturize your face.

The best thing about this is the feeling once your skin gets used to being moisturized. Now, we’re going to start with a nighttime moisturizer that you’ll want to use after washing. The biggest difference between your nighttime stuff and daytime stuff should be that your daytime stuff has sun protection and your nighttime stuff can be a bit heavier.

My personal favorite type of nighttime moisturizer is thick and on the label it mentions anything to do with anti-aging. Not for the anti-aging so much but I really love for my fave to be very well lubed and stuff made to deal with aging skin tends to be super rich. You don’t have to buy something super expensive. The best night cream I’ve used was 20$ from Ulta and has lasted me months.

To start with, find something for “normal” skin, that will basically mean it is not going to prevent wrinkling etc but it will get you started.

Last and for me MOST important.  If you are going outside, put something with SPF on your face.

I have said it before and I say it again, wear SPF like it is your job. Skin cancer sucks. Sun damage sucks. I don’t care if you’re 19 or 99 wear your SPF.

For this, what you want is whatever SPF you are comfy with. I wear SPF30. I use a drug store Garnier Fructis lotion. If you are concerned with being shiny, look for something matte or wear powder. Put it on before you leave the house and if you’re gonna be out or are very sweaty carry some with you.

Now, looky here. This is a basic beginner skin care routine. How do you start to see results? Do it every day you can as consistently as you can.

If you struggle with fatigue, bunch up your steps. Put your skincare in the bathroom next to your toothbrush. You can also try using make up wipes, Micellar water or if you are just too tired do a quick clean with water. Do what suits your situation.

If you are super poor, buy one small thing at a time. Use products that multi-task. Split stuff with friends.

Lastly, yes I noticed I didn’t mention cruelty free, specific chemicals (except mineral oil, that shit is the BANE of my skin) etc. The reason is this. A lot of us are unable to vote with our dollars. We get what we can, when we can. I also don’t think that it would serve us if I tried to cover every possibility or need. That is just not really feasible.

This is why I say repeatedly to take the advice you can and use it how you can.

And no wait one more thing. Cis gender men.

Hi dudes.

This is for you too. Your face can still get skin cancer, your face can be irritated and you could have a better time having a face. Caring for your skin, like doing any other self-care will not damage your masculinity and might just make you feel good and fancy.

Next skin care post in a few weeks, we’ll talk about treatments and I’ll give y’all a favorite recipe for angry skin.

Your assignment?

Share with friends, talk about it. Want to know more about skin care? Head to youtube or google and find stuff.

On Trauma and Self Compassion-CW: eating disorders, food insecurity, trauma responses.

Hello friends.

I’d like to have a bit of a departure from the usual entries and give y’all a bit of perspective on something I am dealing with right now and how that intersects with my philosophy about self-care.

I deal with a lot of food insecurity. This is both for the amount of food in my house at any time, to how much money I want to spend on my food for my work days, to how well I’m able to provide money for healthier eating for my partner and I. This is something I have dealt with since I was young and that I continually struggle with almost daily.

It took me years to narrow down why, outside of disordered eating etc, the issue of food has freaked me out so hard for so long. Let’s have a look at what food things can trigger the ever loving shit out of me:

  • Spending money on food.
  • Not spending money on food.
  • Having good food (nutritive, tasty, the thing I want to eat when I eat it)
  • Not being able to cut enough out of the budget for my personal shit, to provide my partner with a diet that could potentially help their health.
  • When I “treat” myself and buy fresh veggies for lunch.
  • When I don’t necessarily have the energy to go to four stores on foot to get the best deals.

Etc.

I mean, basically everything revolving around food both in my house and in my walk around life can cause me some anxiety.

Prior to me starting to write about self-care, it became super evident to me that I needed to work some of this out.  My issues with food insecurity got to the point where, I was not eating because I felt too guilty spending household money on food for work. Things got fairly dire when I was rationing my lunch food “just in case” and leaving most of it at home.

At that point, I decided to start figuring shit out.

All these years later, I’ve realized that sometimes I just have to go with the food insecurity feelings in order to spare myself the anxiety. This has been a revelation to me. The fact that I have been able to have the ability to slow myself down and think it out is amazing. For a bit of extra context, this progress hasn’t been made under the care of a mental health professional.

Let’s pause here so I can talk about that a bit.

Over the years I’ve dabbled in therapy and not been able to find what I needed or, at times haven’t been able to afford the cost. For me this has involved a lot of very painful processing. I write about it (not for public consumption), I’ve learned to talk about it with trusted chosen family and I work at it. This is not a perfect system, in a perfect world I’d find the perfect therapist and we’d knock this shit out.

The most important thing I can say about embarking on dealing with trauma basically alone is that you have to show yourself compassion. Traditionally for me that has been the most difficult thing to do. I have had to learn to be as kind and loving to myself as I am to my little family. I have had to learn to forgive myself for being abusive to myself. For gaslighting myself. For believing a lot of bullshit and resisting what I know to be true.

Even when I’ve felt the worst about myself, the one thing that has ever helped me help myself is knowing that the path to freedom is paved with forgiveness and self compassion.

Note I don’t necessarily say self love because self-love isn’t always going to work and we’ll talk more about that later.

Here’s the important thing I’d like y’all to take away from this in the context of how we’re doing self-care right now.

Sometimes in our quest to improve the quality of our lives, we have to do some unpleasant ass shit. Whether it is dealing with people we’d rather not, setting boundaries with people, or if you’re me being a decent human being to yourself.

Now, lately I’ve been letting myself feel my food insecurity and deal with it as best I can. Usually that means if I go to the store for “snacks” I realize and accept that means I will probably buy enough food to make one dinner for the two of us. Even if we have food for dinner, buying that meal staves off that particular panic and it makes my day easier.

Previously, I would have just panicked so hard I’d get no food, be panicking and generally losing my entire shit and falling into a deep shame spiral.

Now, this doesn’t always wind up in a win. Sometimes, the only win is that I panic and am able to recognize why I’m panicking but I’m not always able to stop it. Sometimes, I fall down the shame spiral and it is hard as hell to get out of it. Some days are better than others.

There is not a zero sum game. When it comes to living with and dealing with trauma, shit is a roller coaster. Some days you are going to be the most amazing and most clear headed person who sails through their day without tears or panic or anything. Other days, you might be curled in the fetal position on the floor trying not to shit your pants- or maybe that’s just me.

So start with compassion and kindness. Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to someone you love. If they told you that something “silly” upset them or that they are having a bad anxiety or depression day, would you tell them to fuck off? Probably not. So that my friends is your challenge.

I also challenge y’all to share with each other some strategies you use to show yourself compassion, to some ways to support each other when we’re doing this work.