Transforming Our World: Art & Self-Care

Mar 9, 2021 21:38 · 8326 words · 40 minute read

Okay. Hello everyone. And welcome to our last episode of Transforming Our World: An Investigation of Self Care.

00:00 - In this series, we pair visual artists with three other panelists working in the field to honestly look at what care means in our current world.

00:00 - I want to thank everyone for tuning in today and especially to our panelists for being here today and sharing their knowledge.

00:01 - With that, would everyone like to introduce yourself and let us know how you come to the work.

00:09 - Hi, I’m Esther Garcia. I work as a librarian, but I’m from the borderlands, particularly of the US/ Mexico, Mexico border.

00:22 - and I come to care because, it’s self care, because I really had to try to cultivate it as a child.

00:30 - I think often people kind of thought there was something a little bit wrong with me, but it’s because I was extremely sensitive and empathic, which is such a gift, but also such a torture.

00:45 - And, I think, you know, I’ve had to do a lot of self investigation and I’ve done that, you know, through literature.

00:57 - I know I studied that, but I did it for myself and I did a study in library and information science, mostly because I just wanted to be near the sources that were going to give me all the answers; they haven’t, but some, somewhat, yes, as the librarian now in North Texas.

01:18 - I guess I’ll go next. My name is Marcelina Gonzalez.

01:27 - I am, what I call, a resin collage artist from here, from Brownsville, Texas.

01:33 - A little background on myself: I was born and raised here in Brownsville.

01:39 - So, the work that I do is heavily based on this place.

01:42 - If you have never been here or if you’re new to here, it’s a pretty unique and very isolated place.

01:50 - There’s just a strange blend of, you know, American cultures and Mexican traditions, all kind of blended in together to one.

01:58 - And, you know, that’s due to its location, we’re here on the border.

02:03 - And this idea is kind of what drives my work.

02:08 - So I’m always emphasizing the presence of the Valley here, and in the narratives, and my work kind of reconstructs my own personal memories coming of age here in Brownsville, and kind of looking at how I developed into a woman here in this environment.

02:26 - When I was younger, I was kind of, I always felt very less than, and kind of ashamed of being Hispanic or Latina.

02:33 - I was ashamed of my culture, of where I came from, of, you know, my circumstances, how I was raised.

02:39 - I was not the wealthiest kid growing up. So, I grew up with a lot of feeling of shame and inadequacy and all of this is very present in my work, but, you know, the work doesn’t really focus on the negativity of these, of emotions.

02:56 - It’s kind of about reconciling with that shame and coming to terms with it, accepting myself, understanding my value and kind of celebrating and appreciate the culture now.

03:06 - So, I have a very long history of kind of trying to come to terms with, you know, who I am.

03:13 - Accepting myself, loving myself and, in all in an effort to try and work out my mental health when I was growing up,  I developed very early on, very debilitating depression and anxiety.

03:29 - So, I spent a lot of time at doctor’s offices, psychiatrists, psychologists, counseling, therapy, medication, you name it now all in an effort to try and get my, my brain to be happy.

03:44 - So, you know, through all of this, I kind of learned about art and, kind of was introduced to it as something as a tool.

03:55 - So for me, art kind of became my own way of taking care of myself and kind of, I found that it held properties that kind of temporarily alleviated the way I felt, whether it was sad or anxious, you know.

04:10 - It became something that I was able to use to take care of myself.

04:14 - So I always introduce myself, I speak on my art.

04:20 - So, you know, that’s who I am. Happy to be here. Aimaloghi: I love that.

04:28 - Thank you, Esther. And Marcelina. Hi, my name is Aimaloghi Eromoseli.

04:31 - I am 22 years old. I am a Valley native, born and raised here.

04:37 - And I am also a community organizer, a writer, and I come into this work, very much like intentionally, of course.

04:50 - Of course I know my title, so I know what that comes with is a lot of building of community, building more self and also destroying and dismantling the systems that don’t work, trying to, you know, just kind of build bridges, but at the same time, I think I come into this work as just like a lived experience.

05:13 - It’s almost like just given the identities that I hold, there are given the identities I hold it’s like, I, I was called to this work, but it’s also like, I need this work as well.

05:31 - And the way I kind of see my community organizing coinciding with self care, is actually something that I learned out of it, like, because coming into this, I learned it very quickly that I needed to take care of myself if I was going to continue to battle these systems, these monsters.

05:51 - Right? But at the time of being like a young 17 year old, I’m just getting started.

05:57 - I didn’t know that that’s what I needed. So I guess I’ll just like give like a quick little anecdote and I promise I’ll make sense with what we’re talking about.

06:05 - But, I started organizing when my senior year of high school, I was 17 years old in 2016.

06:13 - And it was a response to the police killings and murders of specifically Alton Sterling in New York and Philando Castille, both black men, both black fathers.

06:26 - And just being that young, I was confused at the fact that, you know, I still had my Rose colored lenses on and thought like, what, like, how can things like this happened where black men are murdered, for no reason by like people who are supposed to protect us and all these things.

06:46 - So it just took me for a loop, but I knew I wanted it to be spurred into action.

06:50 - So my brothers and I organized a RGV BLM March and demonstration.

06:57 - And it got a lot of traction due to the help of other like seasoned organizers here in the Valley.

07:06 - It was, it got a lot of reach. And by the same token, it got a lot of opposition.

07:12 - So we had people online organizing and calling us all kinds of names.

07:17 - The day of the actual protest, they came and were present and were yelling and motorcycles, just a lot of intimidation tactics and a lot of scary stuff, to be honest, but you know, all in all I would call the demonstration successful just given the fact that no one was hurt.

07:34 - I feel like connections were formed and I think that we accomplished what we went there to do, which was to show that there’s a presence that values black life here in the Valley, even if the population of black lives is very small, but still the solidarity was established.

07:55 - However, at that time of being like a young 17 year old, who was just like kind of catapulted into this work, I didn’t realize how violent what I had experienced was which was to be intimidated and yelled at and spoken over.

08:11 - I, there was children at the protest crying.

08:13 - It was a lot. It was a heavy situation, plus witnessing a lot of black death online where you just open Twitter, you open anything.

08:23 - And you’re seeing that it was just a lot, a lot, a lot.

08:26 - Then on top of that, I was, you know, kind of established myself as like some kind of spokesperson for black and racial issues.

08:36 - And I was getting contacted a lot to do a lot, speak at a lot of events, do all these things and now I can do it.

08:44 - Obviously I’m here. God bless. but it’s like, as a 17 year old. I did- I wasn’t ready.

08:51 - It was a lot, I wasn’t ready. I experienced what we call in the activist space, “burnout,” which is where you just feel depleted and drained.

09:01 - And with that kind of touching on like what Marcelina said, which is, I experienced a lot of shame and guilt from that burnout because I felt like I need to pull back from this work, but if I don’t step up, who’s going to do it.

09:15 - I’m letting my community down, all the lies that your brain will run off with, but you believe them in the moment.

09:22 - And again, that’s just a lot to carry as like someone just brand new to this.

09:27 - So, something that I, I’ve recovered since then, obviously, but something that, a line that speaks to me, which was said by Alicia Garza, she’s the, she coined the term “Black Lives Matter,” which is, “The work will always be there tomorrow,” which is like kind of bittersweet because it’s like, damn, we’re going to keep working.

09:49 - But at the same time, it’s, it’s reassuring to say that it doesn’t always fall on my- one’s shoulders.

09:55 - and I have a community that will step up and stand in when I am not able.

10:03 - So I experienced that right off the gate in terms of this work.

10:08 - So I’m happy that I’m here and I can kind of speak to this self care more because it’s something that personally I have had to grapple and struggle with, and I still do, but I’m grateful for spaces like this.

10:20 - So thank you, Gina, and everyone else, all my fellow panelists and participants who are here and I’m excited to get into that.

10:27 - Thank you. Thank you, guys. Yes, I believe that self care is super important and, if you’re doing organizing work or any kind of work.

10:36 - Just to remember that we come first and our families come first and our, and the people who are showing up on motorcycles can wait.

10:49 - I agree. I was just thinking about- I don’t really have too much to add about myself, but I was, me and, I was talking to a friend about, if you don’t include your title in your introduction, where do you, what you say about yourself? And so I was thinking about that, and that’s a really hard question for me, I guess, because I’ve been at STC for about 11 years now and it’s become my work.

11:25 - So I guess just first and foremost, I want to say I’m a Leo and, and that I feel that I am, myself as a person is a sum of all the experiences that I’ve had with my community and my friends and the people who have brought me up and built me up.

11:46 - And every day I just, my work comes from that experience, I guess.

11:56 - Okay. So, the second question is, it comes from, I attend a lot of events, doing event planning and exhibit type work and, I love mental health.

12:13 - And so I’m always attending these self-care workshops and it, and you hear about these tricks and tips, and the special bath bomb that’s going to cure your whole life, but it doesn’t really resonate too much with me, and I don’t believe you can purchase self care.

12:30 - So I wanted to ask you all, what does self care look like to you? I kinda want to say something a little vulgar.

12:45 - I, kind of said this on election night because I was just so anxious and I like, copied and pasted it to a bunch of my friends who were all texting me memes.

12:59 - And I said, sometimes self care is, eating a microwaved hot pocket in your underwear, on your couch.

13:13 - Doing what’s right for you in that moment, right? Yeah.

13:18 - And it felt, when I told my husband, he was like, you said that, and I was like, I am so wise, I am the prophet.

13:29 - But, I know sometimes doing the minimal I can to just like get through the day is a gift for me, and not finishing strong, and not getting through my full to-do list, and not making a homemade meal, or even making a healthy meal, or even getting a meal.

13:54 - Like, it’s crusted over with ice, and I’m going to survive.

14:00 - This is what’s going to help me survive or turning off the news for a full entire day.

14:07 - That’s a gift to me. Just anything that’ll center me.

14:13 - Obviously, on days that- and during, during this quarantine, especially in the beginning where nobody could find toilet paper, apparently that’s happening again, we’re back to the future.

14:28 - And, people were trading Tiger King memes. And the only things that I could do were maybe download Tik TOK, or actually, you know, get coaxed by a friend to do the workday, because our work actually has like a, a mindfulness yoga once a week.

14:54 - You have to like, be thoughtful about scheduling your day, but she would coax me into it with her.

15:00 - And afterwards I felt like a whole person for maybe an hour.

15:06 - And then, you know, back to the news or back to like, Uh-Oh, I guess we’re using newspaper for the toilet paper this week.

15:15 - I mean, it’s just, it was a scary time in the beginning, where you couldn’t reach out to anybody, you felt like community meant hurting somebody physically with your presence and vice versa.

15:31 - So, yeah, just, you know, just doing the bare minimum, that’s kind of what self-care means to me.

15:38 - I also was, I was part of this one panel where the person organizing it was like tips, tricks and whatever.

15:48 - And I was like, how about we ask everybody to reinvent one part of their life? And she’s like, no, that’s not a tip or a trick, people need to leave here feeling like they got it.

16:00 - It was- I felt, it felt like a transgressive towards me.

16:05 - I was on the panel and I, you know, I didn’t toe the line exactly.

16:09 - I just, you know, try to be thoughtful, but it’s- it felt, yeah.

16:14 - So, yeah, I don’t think I quite answered, but I think that, that self-care has meant different things at different times.

16:24 - And sometimes it’s just being extremely, extremely present and just, the work will be there.

16:31 - The work will be there, as Aima said, which is tough.

16:36 - It’s so tough to say, actually, can be very painful to tell yourself that, but then to also accept the pain and just say, yeah, it is going to be painful and live with, and I’m going to live with the consequences.

16:50 - And then when the consequences come, getting angry again.

16:53 - Just kidding. Well, I think self care is, like you were saying, what works for you and what doesn’t work for somebody else it’s like deeply personal and it looks different for everyone, you know? And so for me, self care is, you know, something that I have to have an active role in, you know, I see it as finding a way to protect my own happiness and my own state of mind and this, like looking inward and like asking myself that is what self care is all about to me is that active role.

17:37 - And, it’s very difficult to kind of actively engage in that.

17:44 - And so I always think, you know, what are, are there certain strategies or tools that we can use, because, like you were saying, there’s no, you know, one, two, three- five step easy guide, I could find in, you know, Self magazine or whatever, you know.

17:56 - Get your hair done, do a face mask. You know, all of those, all of those things feel great outwardly, but, you know, they don’t really address how you’re feeling inside.

18:10 - So I’m like, it’s not easy. It’s not a simple thing.

18:16 - So for me, when I’m finding myself feeling overwhelmed or anxious, or, you know, needing to take care of myself on a deeper level so that, you know, I stay healthy and I’m feeling happy or just, okay.

18:34 - what I find that helps for me is kind of doing something really engaging and fulfilling and something that makes me feel good about what I’m doing, that I’m working towards some kind of end results.

18:50 - And, you know, for me, this, this is art. Like I was saying before.

18:55 - When I work, my brain is completely and totally engaged in what I’m doing.

19:00 - And, it’s almost like a, like a reward to be entirely occupied.

19:07 - You know, my, my brain doesn’t go to those dark spaces because I’m kind of working on, you know, finishing whatever I’m working on for the day.

19:16 - And so being in my studio is where, you know, self care happens for me, but, this global pandemic has ruined that and it’s totally changed the relationship that I have with it, because like I had mentioned, my work is directly based on, you know, all of my memories growing up, and that very much includes my family and our history.

19:46 - And I have like a very deep love, and they’re very important to me.

19:53 - They are, you know, what kind of drives me as a human to be okay.

19:57 - Because I know my family is they’re expecting that.

20:01 - So in working during this pandemic and thinking about them and these memories, you know, are they okay right now? Will they be okay in the future? It kind of led to a lot of distress within me.

20:15 - So that relationship that I had with art kind of being something that helped me right now, I feel like I’m kind of working through that and getting towards a place where I can be good again.

20:31 - So I’m kind of a work in progress right now.

20:35 - So I’m kind of getting my own self care, little by little, just getting back into the studio and trying to, to get myself to a space where I’m healthy in my brain again.

20:53 - I love that. Thank you both for sharing. And both of those things, definitely, both of what you all have said speaks to my own understanding of self care, especially the fact that it’s going to look so vastly different just depending on who you’re talking to and what that person needs.

21:11 - So self care from it’s, it’s become this thing.

21:17 - That’s become more so like fashionable and like mainstream, which I think has a positive effect because it means that it’s reaching more people and the kids on Tik TOK are probably hearing about it.

21:31 - Grannies on Facebook are probably hearing about it.

21:33 - Like, it’s like, reaching different groups and that’s a good thing.

21:36 - Like, we should be learning how to take care of ourselves more.

21:40 - The only thing about it becoming a fashionable thing, or almost like a fad or a trend is that it’s becoming almost something marketable and something to profit off of.

21:52 - So like Esther and Marcelina were saying, you know, you go by the bubble bath or the tips and tricks and like these quick fix type things, and that can look like care, for the moment.

22:05 - The thing is that when we’re talking about self care rooted and stuff like that, it’s like, how much money do I need to have to feel better? It starts to kind of look like that.

22:19 - How much can I spend? Or how much do I need to put towards myself in order to be okay, or to take care? So I kind of want to like, decolonize self-care.

22:30 - I want to like, bring it back to some of its origins.

22:35 - And in doing my own research, I’ve learned that self care actually has radical roots.

22:40 - It was something that was popularized by the Black Panther party way back when, and I thought that was so cool.

22:50 - Like when I learned that it was popularized because they wanted, specifically and of course, people of color, any kind of marginalized group, but specifically black folks to learn to take care of themselves and learn to look after their own health.

23:04 - And look after, you know, holistically mental, spiritual, medical, all of that, because in a society where the government, especially at the time, was not providing the aid and resources needed for black communities to survive and thrive.

23:22 - So the Black Panthers stepped up and were also encouraging folks to take that care into their own hands.

23:30 - So with all that being said, I kind of have created my own definition of self care.

23:35 - I’ll read it now. Self care for me is any act that mentally, spiritually, physically provides fulfillment, comfort, and primary purpose is to nurture one’s wellbeing and, or self-worth.

24:00 - I’m taking that just modeled after what I’ve seen.

24:03 - I’m just only speaking from my own scope. So I’m coming from a place of community organizing, and I’m seeing that self care was popularized from this place of liberating each other through community aid and self preservation.

24:19 - So, of course that doesn’t mean that self care needs to be like, okay, I need to go out and go start a protest.

24:25 - No, but it’s more so just like, it came from a place of ensuring one another’s survival, your own survival and your neighbor’s survival.

24:36 - And I think that that’s important especially because 2020 has taken us places that we didn’t even think we could go.

24:50 - So I’m- I’m finding it so, so important to have to be so, so intentional with the way I want to care for myself and others.

25:02 - And yeah, it’s going to look different depending on who you talk to, what you need.

25:10 - So it doesn’t always have to even cost anything.

25:13 - It can very much just look like, you know, having a supportive reciprocal relationship with somebody.

25:19 - It can look like self-reflection through journaling.

25:21 - It can look like shadow work and meditation.

25:24 - It can look like art, it can look like reading books, it can look like, you know, just venting, crying, whatever you need.

25:33 - Whatever allows you a way to reconnect with yourself.

25:36 - And personally for me, what that’s been looking like is learning to rest without reason or apology.

25:47 - It’s so odd that we’ve even taken rest and slowing down as like a weakness kind of thing or something to be earned.

25:58 - It doesn’t need to be earned. Your body lets you know exactly, our bodies are very good at regulation.

26:03 - Like they will let us know what we need and I’m trying to like close my eyes and listen more and listen without judgment and listen without, “well, I haven’t accomplished this and I haven’t done that,” Like Esther was saying like, what I need is what I need and I don’t want to feel guilt for that.

26:20 - I don’t want to feel shame for that. And it’s much harder said than done, but yes.

26:26 - Thank you, Esther. It’s much harder said than done, but yeah.

26:31 - It’s just a part of the journey. I think the care had never, it’s not like a quick fix kind of thing.

26:38 - It’s something that is sustainable. Something that you are hoping to find longevity in.

26:46 - So yeah, that’s- that’s my point of view on that.

26:50 - And I’m so sorry just to cap it off. I think that there’s a really great Audrey Lorde quote and I’m just going to stick it in the chat.

26:59 - Yes it’s so let me pull it up. I’m pulling it up.

27:02 - Esther: Yeah. Yeah. Let me- Yeah.

27:05 - It’s “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence.

27:06 - It’s self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare. “ Yes.

27:16 - Beautiful. That idea of listening to yourself as self care is very profound, I think.

27:24 - When I was- I get nervous when I talk about my pregnancy, because people see it as, I don’t know, that you’re either something, or something not if you have, or have not had a child, but I don’t mean it like that.

27:39 - I just mean when I was pregnant, people kept telling me the way that I should have my pregnancy and what I should eat.

27:46 - I can’t eat soft cheese, but I can eat all the Burger King I want.

27:49 - And like, I was like, that doesn’t make sense for me.

27:52 - And I started to realize that I guess that we have all the answers within us and like in all of our cells and all of everything, we are part of this universe and just to listen to yourself and you’ll know exactly like exactly what you said, Aima, that we’ll know exactly what we need.

28:15 - I wanted to share something quickly over the holiday break.

28:18 - Marcy, when you were talking about taking the time and space for yourself, like, place is very important for me, like organized spaces and where we live and I spent 10 hours going through my kitchen and moving my refrigerator and going through all my plates and all this stuff.

28:42 - And I realized that I guess I hadn’t realized it before, but I used to have- when I was younger, I lived with roommates and they would get home and the whole house was rearranged and they would be like, “How did you move this three person couch and all these things? Where’d you get the superhuman strength from?” And I think those, like those tasks that are repetitive and making your space for yourself are very- they’re good.

29:18 - That’s what self care looks like to me, I think, yeah.

29:23 - Yeah. There’s, that’s like a Buddhist practice is washing the dishes Gina: Really?  Esther: Yeah.

29:31 - But it’s such a pain. I can’t do it.

29:39 - I got rid of all, but like three dishes, like I have, I kept three plates, three- three forks, because it gets overwhelming and you have to know your limits.

29:55 - Okay. So, I guess one of the last questions is about community and we see self- self care is portrayed to us as like a singular act for ourselves, or marketed to us like that.

30:19 - Do you think community involvement or community healing plays any role in self care or in care? I think that there’s a lot to be said here.

30:31 - And I think that my co-panelists will really fill out this answer, but before they do, I want to give a lot of gratitude and open heart to South Texas College Library Art Gallery because not only did they make the transgressive, or act of having this event about self care and us taking the space for ourselves, like you guys also did a care package for those that signed up for it.

31:02 - And I enjoyed my popcorn and my agua fresca and my little mug treat and it felt like, and I feel ready to share that into the world.

31:14 - So this gathering to me kind of shares some of the values.

31:20 - I know my co-panelists will stay more about this, but I, this is kind of my Bible right now.

31:26 - It’s called the Art of Gathering by Priya Parker.

31:29 - She just had an amazing- anyway. So one of the things she says is that a gathering is not a purpose.

31:38 - And the example she gives, she gives many, but one of them is a back to school night and she says, that’s not a gathering, that’s a purpose.

31:48 - So that’s- and so she says, “Well, what about to help parents and kids prepare for the year, for instead of back to school night?” And she’s like, “Boring!” And then she’s like, “To help integrate new families into the school community. ” And she’s like, “Not better. ” This is, this is a real purpose for that: “To help connect parents to one another, so as to make them a tribe. ” And so once you have that as a purpose, then you can have a gathering.

32:22 - And so today, this gathering has- has meant that for me.

32:25 - It’s very specific and it is disputable, what we’re talking about, and it just makes it really, like, connected.

32:34 - I feel so connected right now. And I, yeah.

32:38 - And I’ve got more to say, a little more to say, but I just wanted to lay that out.

32:44 - Aima, can I ask you- you’ve done specific research in this, correct? And I saw you with some panels and- Yes, I’ve done research on, it’s not specifically, I mean, I guess it’s tangibly related.

33:06 - My research is primarily about intergenerational trauma, particularly within the African-American community.

33:16 - And it’s, it’s been a lot to uncover and discover, but essentially, what I really want to understand is the ways in which traumas and the harm that we experienced, just living in this world, isn’t just our sole- It’s not our sole fault and it wasn’t our sole responsibility.

33:40 - We didn’t acquire these traumas by ourselves.

33:44 - Sometimes it can be passed down, a lot of times it’s just inflicted upon us as we’re just going through, going through life. I think that it’s, it’s been kind of wild to learn that, well, there’s this thing called epigenetics, which is the idea that your cells can literally transform based off of stress and trauma that you may experience during your lifetime.

34:09 - And that misshaping or mutation of yourselves can be inherited or passed down onto your offspring and so on and so forth.

34:24 - And the reason why I’m even connecting that to, you know, healing as a community, or self care as a community is because I saw this tweet one time and I wish I could remember who wrote it, but it’s like, we didn’t acquire the pain or the harm that we hold by ourselves, so why must we heal by ourselves? It kind of is like, hurting one another, like, it doesn’t sound pretty, but the harm that we inflict on another is as natural as just breathing.

34:55 - Where people will be, conflict will be, and that’s natural, but it’s how we choose to address the harm, address the trauma that I think makes all the difference.

35:10 - And so knowing that if we’re, if we come from a place of just knowing that well I didn’t come into this by myself, and this pain doesn’t have to be mine by myself, like I can always reach out to somebody and maybe always try and form commune, ask people to help me heal.

35:29 - And I think that sounds super uncomfortable for people, even me saying it I’m like, “Eek!” I know we talked, we mentioned like, signs.

35:37 - I’m a Cancer, and that’s very like mommy of the Zodiac and everyone knows like the classic mom thing of being like, I don’t need help, even though they clearly want help.

35:48 - So I understand like what that feels like to be like, I know I’m in pain, or I know I’m hurting and it’s just my pride and it’s just my ego standing in the way of reaching out or standing in the way of asking for help.

36:03 - I personally believe that community is extremely integral to- extremely integral to the way we’re going to heal and care for one another.

36:15 - And I know we talked about it and like our prior- in our prior meeting when we all met, and this really great Rumi quote, which is, “Reach out your hand if you want to be held,” and every time I say it, every time I say it, it kinda like gives me the same, like cold water feeling down my back, but it’s so needed.

36:38 - The simplicity of that quote kind of breaks down how simple it really is to just say, “Hey, I need you” like, “Hey, can you help me?” And I don’t think it’s our fault that it’s so difficult to say those words.

36:54 - We live in a society that’s very individualistic, and also trauma can make you very hyper- I forget what it’s called hyper, like independent basically, where we feel like we need to tackle everything by ourself.

37:11 - And you don’t, you really, really, really, really don’t.

37:15 - It’s very, it requires a lot of humility and it’s a very vulnerable act to ask for assistance.

37:24 - But I think, I think we, as a society, and I know me, personally, I’m all the, I’m all the better for it when I do so.

37:38 - Oh, what you said about healing by yourself.

37:42 - I’m going to have to look at myself deeper because that really resonates with me.

37:50 - I’m somebody, I’m a Leo, so I’m somebody who will not ask for help and will suffer in silence until, you know, I’m at the end, but kind of, I wanted to share a story.

38:08 - During the middle of the pandemic, I got COVID and it was a very difficult time for me, not only was I alone, I was isolated.

38:18 - All these, you know, old feelings of depression and sadness and, you know, being hard on myself, comparing myself to others, kind of came back.

38:27 - All these things that I had worked on were back, and I really didn’t know how to deal with them.

38:32 - So I was just there in my room alone kind of just resonating in all this negativity.

38:40 - So, kind of speaking on community, I got a text.

38:44 - Like a simple text from an acquaintance. She wasn’t a good friend or anything, she was just an acquaintance, and she was just, “Hey, how are you? I was just thinking about you, are you okay?” And something so simple like that kind of, like hit me at my core.

39:01 - Like I’m not okay. Thank you so much for taking the time to text me, you know, these two words, but it kind of made me realize the importance of, you know, maintaining those connections.

39:15 - And it’s something that’s really hard, especially in a pandemic you’re told, you know, stay away.

39:19 - You’re not supposed to go out and you kind of forget that you can take that time to connect to others.

39:26 - It just, it takes a little more effort now.

39:28 - So I’m kind of taking that time and understanding the importance of maintaining those relationships and that sense of community.

39:44 - And, it kind of helped me realize I’m not alone.

39:51 - I can’t do this on my own and I need that help.

39:53 - So, that kind of changed a lot of, a lot of things, and helped me kind of get my, my act together and, you know, stopped feeling second myself.

40:05 - But, I, I need that. I need to be held and I need somebody else to help me heal so that, what you were saying, I know really, really resonates with me.

40:17 - Definitely. Marcy, can I ask you, you had mentioned something earlier that was really profound to me.

40:26 - You talked about how I- I’m kind of an introvert, I’m kind of, so I think, maybe that’s why it resonated so strongly, but you’ve mentioned like how it’s taken us, so like, you spent 30 years or however much- however long building these skills to become the person that you are, you know, to be social, to be functional in the society of extroverts, right? And then COVID hit us, and I don’t- you said that, are we losing those skills or are we- how are we gonna get back? Yeah.

41:09 - It’s like now we have to be proactive and deliberate to kind of seek these connections because I mean, pre-COVID and even before then I was somebody who was super, I had a lot of social anxiety, like I’m very awkward and my voice shakes, even when I’m not nervous, you know, it’s just something that I can not help.

41:32 - So, I- it was something going out and maintaining relationships, or even just having friends with something that I had to, to put a lot of effort in, but I know it was something that made me a better human to have other people besides, you know, just my partner, you know, my, my parents.

41:49 - Like, so, you know. So I had invested a lot of time and a lot of effort into these relationships and I really forced myself to go out and nurture these relationships.

42:01 - So, at the beginning of quarantine, all of this kind of felt like a relief to me, like, Oh, I don’t need to go out anymore.

42:09 - Like, this is awesome. I don’t need to work on my problem anymore, because you know, I’m being told I can’t, but you know, that’s not true.

42:17 - That was a lie that I told myself to kind of justify the fact that my social anxiety is still there, but it’s something that I’m still working on, you know.

42:32 - So kind of getting back to that little story about the friend who texted me, I kind of found myself remembering the- all this effort that I made and I don’t want to lose it.

42:49 - It was something that I, I think is very important in my life to have.

42:56 - So, I kind of started thinking like, how can I reach out to somebody like this person did to me, like I wanna make- I wanna make somebody feel good about knowing that they’re being thought of.

43:07 - And I kind of thought to myself, well, you know, you’re shy.

43:12 - I don’t like sending texts or calling, you know, God forbid called somebody.

43:16 - So like, let me do this through my art, you know, it’s, it’s what I can do.

43:21 - And so like, I’m going to share with you, with you all, what I’m working on, actually.

43:26 - Because of this text, something so simple, it really, really like moved me to get my act together and stop being a little baby, but also I’m not being too hard on myself because I know that I am working for it, but, so I’m creating these, or I’m in the middle of creating these two.

43:43 - They’re very tiny and they’re very like simple, but it’s still my collage work.

43:48 - And it’s basically, you know, two figures reaching for each other kind of saying, “Hey girl, I miss you. ” So I’m kind of like sending on sending- I’m planning on sending these little, these little collages through the mail to, you know, those relationships that I kind of maintain and we can feel good.

44:07 - So I’m going to send them to you all too. So, I’m going to get your addresses later.

44:15 - Those are beautiful. Thank you. So it’s something small and it’s not serious work like I’ve been doing, but mentally I’m not in that head space to, to dive back in.

44:25 - So Esther: I love non-serious work. Thank you.

44:29 - I’m back in the studio, so that’s good news for me, but I’m not scared of this huge monster that I created, that I can, I can kind of face all, everything that I was dealing with when I was isolated and COVID and all that.

44:47 - Definitely, that-that resonates with me when never, we were told we all have to stay home and never leave our houses again.

44:56 - I was like, yes, but then what are we? 10 months, 11 months later, I’m starting to realize how much I need other people and Yeah, it’s healthy.

45:07 - And I’m like, I miss that about how we acquire pain together and we heal together.

45:16 - When we heal together, it looks, you know, like self-care, like different.

45:21 - It looks different for everybody. And there’s that story of the, of the, ant and the grasshopper, and the ant’s like, “I gotta get to work,” and the grasshopper’s like, “Whatever,” you know, but they need each other.

45:39 - They need each other. Someone who’s always, you know, concentrating on, you know, you know, I can do this on my own.

45:54 - They don’t always build the social structures, like the person that texted or like, the care package I got from Gina or what I’ve gotten from y’all, you know.

46:05 - You don’t always build that if you’re like, I can do it on my own.

46:09 - And so if you do have, if you are able, like, even like, just my dog.

46:16 - If you have like, built those social, those social structures, there’s a little less on your shoulder.

46:25 - There’s still a lot. I totally agree and I think just like in a biological sense, like, we are like very mutualistic beings.

46:36 - Like, we literally need each other to survive.

46:40 - Like, you really can’t do it all on your own.

46:45 - And I- this is so random, but I was having a conversation with my girlfriend yesterday, and she was talking like, just about how someone that she knows has hired, like, a cleaning coach, like someone’s helped them, like, teach them, like how to organize and clean their life and stuff, which is totally fine.

47:03 - You know, whichever reasons that people have for doing stuff like that, you know, it’s up to them.

47:07 - I kind of thought about it. I was like, if it was me, I probably would just maybe text some friends and be like, can you help me fold my laundry? Like, just because, I mean, I’m also fortunate to have friendships like that and to have people who I know can, who I know I can call and depend on.

47:27 - But it’s also like Esther, you bring up a really great point.

47:30 - Like when we confine ourselves to healing and doing everything by ourselves, we’re also losing out on the social skills and like connections and like opportunities for growth, like growth between two people.

47:47 - And I don’t know, I- I’m not necessarily an extrovert, but I know pre-pandemic.

47:55 - I was like, literally begging for like time alone, and like, time in my house.

47:59 - And in a weird way, when the pandemic came, I was like, well, I guess now I have it like, okay, I’m going to try and make the most of it.

48:06 - And then so many months, and I’m like banging my head against the wall and like, just feeling like mad-anxious, mad-depressed, and really realizing that I can really only be so alone.

48:17 - Like you can really only be so alone. Like we really need people.

48:21 - And that has been like a huge lesson for me this year.

48:27 - And I definitely think like, inevitably, we have lost out on some social skills.

48:33 - We spent majority of the year inside the house.

48:36 - So like, whatever work that we were already doing to like, learn how to be better to people learn how to be better to ourselves and how to communicate better, have been lost, or have like depleted in some sense, like that’s just natural.

48:47 - We kind of have to like, you know, make peace with that.

48:51 - But it can also be looked at as like, a form of opportunity because maybe there are things that we were doing beforehand that we can put more intention behind kind of like how Marcy was saying, or actually what we all have done.

49:09 - Like the- I got this postcard and popcorn and snacks and everything just for being on this panel today.

49:18 - Like, the connection is so real and it’s so intentional and it’s holding me so much closer because I know that there’s a, like a thought behind it.

49:30 - Like, I’m thinking of you. And I’m thinking of you in a way that you want to be thought of.

49:33 - I’m thinking of you fondly. And I, I want to express that to you and not feel so that’s the kind of stuff that gives me chills.

49:40 - That’s romance, you know? So I love that.

49:43 - Like, I wish, I wanted to like keep pushing that out more and it’s so weird because like, we’ve regressed, but it’s like we’re coming back.

49:52 - Like with even more love, even more, even more intentionality.

49:58 - And those things have really helped me and healed me throughout all that this year has been.

50:04 - So I thank y’all and I hope that, moving forward, we can like, continue to integrate these skills with the way that we like communicate with one another.

50:12 - I want to a hundred percent agree. I feel like we’ve regressed in some ways, but we’ve also been given an opportunity to really look at how we want to move forward.

50:23 - And, thank you for thinking I’m romantic. You guys, it’s been such a pleasure to work with you all.

50:36 - And Esther, I’m gonna, should I say your quote or you say- Yeah, so I, there’s this Japanese concept, usually centering like a tea time.

50:50 - I’m sure Patty Ballinger’s audience is familiar with it.

50:54 - It’s something like “Ichi-go ichi-e,” which has been translated to “for this time only once in a lifetime. ” And the term means, it just reminds people to cherish any gathering that they may take apart in, setting the fact that any moment in life cannot be repeated, even when the same group of people get together in the same place, a particular gathering won’t be replicated.

51:22 - Thus each moment is always a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

51:26 - And I know that after, like the next five minutes, I’m going to step out into the world and be engulfed with the magic that was here and it’s going to have changed me.

51:42 - So when y’all see me again, I am not going to be the same Esther.

51:45 - I’m going to be changed by our experiences today.

51:49 - Very beautiful. Marcelina: That’s beautiful.

51:52 - Gina: Okay. Well, I think we’re gonna end here unless anybody else has anything to say.

52:00 - Thank you all so much for coming and sharing, and thanks to our audience.

52:09 - We made it to the end of the year. All right.

52:13 - Okay. Bye, everyone. Such a pleasure.

52:17 - Love seeing you all. Likewise, hope we can like honestly replicate and do this again will be different, but definitely needed.

52:34 - I think we have to. .