Interview by Lauren Ash. Contributors: Anisah Amat Ali, Jenné Claiborne, Lalah Delia, and Siraad Dirshe.
At Black Girl In Om, we’re celebrating Women’s History Month by illuminating the Rebel Woman! I recently chatted with some of my favorite fellow wellness and self-care revolutionaries and discovered how they rebel in their own lives and what self-care stapes they just can’t do without —and why. Hear from holistic practitioner Lalah Delia, beauty and skincare writer Siraad Dirshe, self-care author anisah amat ali, and vegan chef Jenné Claiborne this week—and stay tuned for next week’s installment with an assortment of additional voices. With this series, we invite all of you to rebel in your own right: to resist the notion that wellness and self-care aren’t for us and embrace, in your own way, what self-care looks like in your own life. And to make the choice to show up, again and again, for yourself every day that you wake up. Be sure to share in the comments below what resonates with you, and how you’ll make the choice to rebel this week!
Lauren Ash: In what way(s) would you say you rebel in your individual life, work and/or wellness journey?
Lalah Delia: Ha! I love this question. I rebel by vibrating higher daily, by eating real food, listening to real music, by honoring real connection/s, by putting only real products on my body, and by not watching or listening to mainstream media/music/television. Everything natural and organic for the win. I'm spiritually and energetically boujee—that's rebellion, lol. Good vibes only.
Siraad Dirshe: I'm a rebel because I always put my needs and well-being first. Period. I am a firm believer that the only way to take care of those around you, is by first taking care of yourself —spiritually, physically and emotionally. I make sure to set aside daily time for myself, even if it's 15 minutes, to check-in and acknowledge where I am in the current moment.
Anisah Amat Ali: i believe that using my voice is how i rebel in my individual life as well as on my wellness journey. in some black families, silence becomes something that you become accustomed to. you don't talk about your feelings, you don't talk about family drama. you learn to carry these things inside of yourself. you learn to open different parts of yourself to store these things. you learn to conceal the wounds. you learn how to paint a false smile. re-learning myself and finding my voice and using my voice to encourage other women of color to use theirs is how i rebel.
Jenné Claiborne: I rebel with food. Ask someone what a black woman from the South eats on a daily basis, and they’ll probably describe fried chicken, or other deep-fried staples, butter- and cream-laden desserts, or typical American junk food. Though most might eat those things—like most Americans do—I’ve chosen not to. Instead I enjoy bountiful vegetables, fresh fruits, hearty whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. The food that my ancestors ate for millennia. I rebel against what foods a Southern is supposed to eat, while still honoring tradition. Our family gatherings are nothing without vegan macaroni and cheese, collard greens, cornbread, and barbecue.
With food I also rebel against the status quo for health in America. Our number 1 killer in this country is heart disease, cancer touches every American in some way (and is the number 2 killer), and type 2 diabetes is now prevalent in children. All of these and more can be avoided with proper diet and lifestyle, but our system is set up for people to get sick, and stay sick for the rest of their lives. That just isn’t for me, so I rebel by taking care of my health with a nutritious vegan diet, daily physical activity, and plenty of vacations.
Lastly, I rebel by helping others to see that heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer are signs that something is wrong, and by giving people the tools to be healthy.
Lauren Ash: What are three self-care staples you just can't do without weekly?
Jenné Claiborne: Yoga, delicious vegan food, and time spent with others.
Siraad Dirshe: Three self-care staples I could not go a week without are my skin care routine, self-affirmations, and a good sweaty workout.
Lalah Delia: Morning prayer—spirit, meditation—mind, herbal tea—body. I legit cannot feel balanced in this world without these three staples. We're connected on a cellular level. I honor them and they feed, charge, and nourish me deep.
Anisah Amat Ali: my three self-care staples that i can't do without weekly are reading, writing and meditating. this year, i am making an attempt to stay committed to reading one to two poetry books a week as well as a novel or a critical text. this upcoming week, i'll be reading "the crown ain't worth much," by willis-abdurraqib hanif, black movie by danez smith, and the sisters are alright: changing the broken narrative of black women in america by tamara winfrey harris.
Lauren Ash: How have you witnessed your self-care practices make a difference in your life?
Lalah Delia: With daily dedication to my self-care routine/practice, paired with the willingness to do the work (no matter what—emphasis on no. matter. what.) I have witnessed the discipline from maintaining my self-care practice spread throughout my personal tasks, days, weeks, and entire life in general. Self-care has turned into life-care. Cool how that happens right? Self-care will come for your whole entire life. As it should. Tea toast to self-care!! *dabs*
Siraad Dirshe: Incorporating daily self-care practices has enabled me to become more balanced, both emotionally and spiritually, and given me the space to fully explore and embrace my creativity.
Anisah Amat Ali: most definitely! reading truly allows me to escape the complexities and frustrations and hardships of life. i am able to shift my mind and my focus and exist in different worlds. i've been writing towards my second book and the writing that i've been doing has been emotionally triggering. i've established the habit of meditating right before i begin a writing session. in no way does it help settle the anxiety or the emotions that i experience but it eases my spirit. and easing for and caring for your spirit, well, that's key. that's necessary.
Jenné Claiborne: Since starting my yoga practice in 2008, I have learned so much about my body (I’m stronger than I realized). I’ve also learned to have patience with myself, both physically and mentally, and to experience life as a journey with peaks and troughs. I don’t think I could have made it this far in my career and personal life without a healthy diet. It’s obviously beneficial to my body, but it also helps me with my mental health.
Food has a big impact on your brain, so eating nutritious foods will help you be your best mentally as well.
Spending time with friends, family, and my community is always great for me because it helps me to shift the focus away from myself and be of service to others, even if it just means listening.
Lauren Ash: Thanks, ladies for your thoughts! I can't wait to hear what our community has to share, as well!