The Life Toolkit: What’s in Yours?

I’m writing a play. It’s not news, I’ve been writing it for about a year now and it’s still in the early draft stages and will be for a while. I’m okay with that. That’s the process of writing. As a brown person theater artist, I wish that there were more opportunity to workshop the play, to see it at various stages in real time. I’ve gone through a lot of rejection with grants and such but I look at it all as a learning experience. I’m learning and growing. It’s also summertime and well, summer body isn’t as on fleek as it could’ve been as well as many other points in my life that I could’ve seen as negatives. I’m very hard on myself. Anybody else on that boat? I’m trying to focus more of my energy on loving myself, on positivity, on hope.

I started writing the play post leaving an abusive relationship and recently while workshopping the play with some artist friends, they brought something to my attention. I didn’t want the audience in my actors business. The audience was clue less and so were the characters in the play, but SOMEONE had to be clued in! That’s what makes a good story! I realize that writing from these places of remembering abuse can be triggering and at times difficult. What if that’s the point? In this whole experience of life, I’m learning that everything can be used in the beauty and ugly of artistry.

I’ve been unpacking a lot lately and I can’t help but realize that I’ve internalized so much of the hatred of self that is steered at brown womxn. I want to change that. So I wake up every morning and wonder out loud…”Who made you? Cuz you are amazing.” It’s the little things. The way I pick up fruit or chocolate and smile devilishly to myself. The way my hips swish in a new one piece outfit, The way I hold my belly when I’m full. The way I say hi and my mellow, low tone richocets off the walls and bounces back to my own ears. The way I embrace all sides of myself and my ancestry and stay ancient and futuristic, black and red all at the same time. I’m learning just how to fall in love with me, but also how to deal when it seems that I don’t like me very much.

There was a time where I attempted to take my own life. A part of my healing process was going to therapy every day and cultivating tools. Where are the tools? I have my playwright toolkit, my actor toolkit, my artists toolkit and somehow I completely forgot about my own life toolkit. What’s in yours? Here’s list of 5 things in my life toolkit.

5. Sage & Smudge Materials

Smudging is the practice of burning herbs for cleansing purposes. I learned it growing up and it’s something that’s so second nature to me now. I come home, I smudge. I wake up, I smudge. I eat dinner, I smudge. I don’t eat dinner, I smudge. I smudge for my sisters, my cousins, my brothers, my ancestors. Smelling earth and wafting the smoke toward me, praying, it keeps me centered. It’s in my toolkit because it’s a form of self care that reminds me that I am worth the time to center myself and that medicine is a requirement.

4. Water

Water is life. Sometimes, having a good glass of water can make everything better. Dehydrated? Get you some water. Pray over it, feel the cool liquid flow throughout your body. Most of our bodies are made of water. We need it to survive. I’m reminded of the gentle balance when I allow myself the chance to indulge in hydration, the life giving beauty of water.

3. Breath

Learning to breathe is something that has recently become a HUGE life saver for me. I’ve been practicing Yoga for a while now and I’m currently in the process of Teacher Training. The most important thing that I’m currently learning about yoga is breath. Taking a deep breath and allowing myself to be has been instrumental in me being able to be an artist, a yoga, a friend, a lover, a daughter, a sister and most importantly…ME! Remember to allow yourself breath.

2. Affirmations & Manifestations

Affirmations are little phrases that enforce self love. Lately, I’ve been using affirmations and manifestations to make myself really investigate what it is that I’ve internalized and create healthy practices for myself. I deserve to be loved. I manifest love in my life. Love of life, love of self and love of my surroundings.

  1. Laughter

Learning how to laugh at myself, at the world, at life is paramount to my survival. I don’t just chuckle, oh no, I have deep belly laughs at least once a day. Why? Well why not? I’m a silly person by nature and I love hearing the sound of various kinds of laughs, of joy. Joy is something that can’t be taken away by anyone. It is pure. It is necessary. It reminds me that I am still here, that I exist, that I at the end of the day, matter.