“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” — Audre Lorde
In a powerful declaration of self-love, Audre Lorde reminds us that caring for ourselves is inextricably linked to our work to eliminate oppression. Mindful attention to personal health and well-being is necessary to sustain our work in the world. At a recent artist RSC skillshare series held at Azule, I designed a two-part workshop, “Clearing the Creative Path” that led artists and organizers through a personal process of renewing our commitment to care for ourselves and to care for our communities.
Through a workshop filled with storytelling and visual and word art activities, artists and organizers reflected on how life experiences informed their creative paths and/or the social issues that they felt most deeply connected. Through digging into the metaphors of living, we explored the ways in which our personal narratives continue to inform the themes of our creative work along with the areas of oppression we strive to deconstruct.
While honoring our creative selves is an expression of self-care, it is not often enough that we intentionally carve out time to share this experience with others in a structured setting. Creating space for the mutual exchange of sharing and deep listening in a group setting is an act of both self- and community-love.
During the “Clearing the Creative Path” series, we devoted time for each participant to share their personal reflections with the understanding that creating space to share our stories is an act of both self- and community-love. Personal stories shared with a deep listening activity opened the space for a mutual exchange with strengthened relationships between community members and where each member’s experience was heard.
Creating intentional time and space to individually reflect as artists and cultural workers, along with time to share and to listen to one another’s experiences, helps to deepen our connections with ourselves and with one another. A community whose members engage in ongoing acts of self-love and reflection possess the resources to connect deeply with others and to work together more effectively toward lasting change.
Tamiko Ambrose Murray is a writer, a teaching artist, a social worker and a community organizer. She is a new executive committee member for Alternate ROOTS and lives in Asheville, NC.