• Abeni Jaz Phillips

Coming Home

Ironically I decided to write about self-care during a month that I felt stretched thin. It’s not that I do not enjoy this journey I am on. I find myself walking in gratitude and accepting that I have to sacrifice my comfort to walk in God’s plan. We all have gifts that are like seeds ready to take root, but I have learned that I have to nourish myself first for those seeds to flourish.

I love being a woman. I love being born of tenacious, delicate, faithful women. I learned from my mother to nurture, love, and take pleasure in life by embracing the moments and memories we share. I reflect on moments where her sacrifice opened doors for my gifts. For example, when I wanted to attend a writing camp in New York, each summer she worked hard to make it happen. To this day, I am appreciative that she taught me to believe that I could become a screenwriter, each summer trusting me to move to a bouncing rhythm in a new city and march to the beat of my own drum.

I learned a lot from my grandmother, who purchased her first home as a recently-separated single mother of three kids. To this day, I still enjoy pulling into the cul-de-sac and climbing the stairs to her home, thinking of the many times I produced shows in her living room and learned how to swim in her pool. I think of the women in my family, my teachers, mentors, friends who have encouraged me as I push forward. I carry them with me.

I am grateful that Women’s History Month recognizes us, but as we move into this new month and continue to pour into our work, our passions, and our village, I would like to remind you to go back to first loving yourself. Women are timeless. Chosen. Made In Her Image. Called to give birth to generations. Dear woman, you are appreciated but first go back to loving yourself.

I learned this the hard way when I found myself very overwhelmed during a week when I had said “yes” more than “no.” I had neglected the time and intimacy I needed for myself. Instead, I was losing focus, mindlessly staring at the computer screen or sitting in meetings hoping to appear interested. Like some of you, at the end of the day I close my computer, make a quick dinner, sleep, and repeat. But one morning on my walk, it rained, and I found myself delighted that I was being watered. Like the trees around us, the plants, and the grass, we need to be nourished. Held. Loved. Supported. As I wandered, I pushed forward down the trail with excitement, partially because I was running away from my to-do list and the dishes waiting for me in the sink. The breakfast that waited for me to cook it and the calls that I needed to return.

I was looking at a beautiful world, mirroring her reflection at me. A new day offering me the grace to approach it with joy and peace.

Finally, I went home and made a list of things I loved about myself. I wrote myself a love note. I meditated for an hour and set a goal to meditate for an hour a day. To make myself a nutritious breakfast. To take a longer shower every morning. To ignore that person who only calls to talk about themselves. To put those clothes away when they’re dry or to let them sit next to me while I write in my journal. To stay in bed. Open the blinds, so the light comes in. I permitted myself to change my routine, to add laughter. To walk more than once a day. To have dance breaks. To have more happy hours. To enjoy. To say yes to allowing myself to be soft when the tasks are hard. The next time you have a difficult task, ask yourself, your mind, and your body what you need to do in order to complete it. Then do those things. The assignment will be there--after you’ve filled your cup, gotten lost in the rain, so that you can pass your magic to others.

The truth is, “Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise” (From Still I Rise by Maya Angelou). You are your most important gift. Timeless in your colorful skin. We are our ancestors' dream waiting to spread our roots through these cities. But first, what do you need?

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