How 5 Black Women Are Finding Joy One Year Into the Pandemic

It took me years to become a morning person. I read a book called “The 5 AM Club” and it just seems so overwhelming, so I took it 15 minutes at a time. I started waking up at 7:30 a.m., and gradually shaved off 15 minutes each week to let my body adjust. Having that time is key to my morning routine, which is very precious to me. Your boss doesn’t send you an email at 5:00 a.m., unless, of course, I’m your boss.

On finding a creative outlet

I always told myself I’d reach a personal level of success when I could have flowers in my apartment every week—not because a boy sent them, just because. I’ve been taking flower arranging classes online, which created this newfound flower practice, which I’ve really committed myself to. I choose the arrangements throughout the week and do different designs. I have different arrangements in different rooms, even my bathroom. So that’s been a new creative outlet to play with and have fun. 

On the power of body care

I’ve been really focusing on skin care from the neck-down. I’ve always spent a lot of time on my face, but lately, I’ve been really into the décolletage during the Zoom era. It’s always nice to talk to my mom about skin care, because she’ll tell me what she wishes she’d done more of, or what she’s really glad she stuck with. My mom has amazing soft skin, and we were talking about the idea of moisturizing that upper area, moisturizing your arms. As a curvy girl, I’ve been really passionate about moisturizing the areas of my body that are sort of my “trouble” spots. I have a love-hate relationship with my arms, my inner thighs, my tummy—so I’ve been moisturizing them like crazy with raw cocoa butter, and my skin on my body has been on another level of softness.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

“Akata Warrior” by Nnedi Okorafor. It’s about this Nigerian girl who discovers she has superpowers. Her and her friends have this secret avengers life. I like that there are Black American characters and Nigerian characters. My dad was born in Nigeria and my mom’s Black American. I’m like, “One of my cousins talks like that, and the other one talks like that,” so I kind of embody the book. And I always return to Proberbs 18:16 as an affirmation: “Your gifts will make room for you.”

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafo

Lavender Vanilla Shea Body Butter

Jasmine Marie, founder of Black Girls Breathing

How are you, really?

My perspective on life in quarantine is unique. Beyond the isolation and collective grief everyone’s experienced, I am also a practitioner who’s made space for thousands in a month’s time. From corporate sessions to Black Girls Breathing, I’ve been up close and personal while witnessing and guiding others through this time. I’ve felt the heaviness of the grief and trauma experienced in the Black community in my breathing sessions and my inbox. It’s not just a statistic for us. They’re real-life stories and community members who’ve been impacted by losing loved ones, jobs, and hope. I’ve also experienced loss from Covid, compacting grief from loss in the past year—all while being the CEO of a rapidly growing startup. It’s been a lot. Everyone is going through so much. But as someone constantly sought after for guidance on how to get through, I’ve asked myself many times, “But what about me?”

What are simple joys you turn to during sad or stressful times?

To be honest, I’m rediscovering all of these. A lot of the ways I found joy (taking a walk in the park, picking up my favorite meal, anything that helped me decompress outside of my home) in hindsight depended on me feeling safe. I’m currently navigating what safety feels and looks like to me after surviving an attempted carjacking a few weeks ago. It happened while I was out shopping for candles (another favorite thing I do to shift my mood). So right now, I’m figuring that out. In the meantime, I’m finding mood boosts in Curb Your Enthusiasm and hot coffee in my favorite new mugs I got from West Elm, plus the Honey Vanilla Oat Latte from my local cafe, The Daily Dose. My go-to mantra is, “You’re doing your best, babe.” And any time I find the space to skip outside, I do it. Skipping is an instant joy booster.

Danielle Coke, designer, illustrator, and social media strategist

How are you, really?

I’m doing better, that’s for sure. Incorporating rhythms of rest in my daily routine has definitely helped me fight burnout and spend more time taking care of myself and my wellbeing!

On getting artsy with your hands

One simple joy has been finding more ways to use my hands to create. As a digital artist, it can be hard to dedicate time for physically making art, so I’m always so excited when I can set aside moments for painting, scrapbooking, putting puzzles together, or even building things.

On reading as self care

One of the biggest self-care rituals would probably be reading more regularly. I always told myself that I’d read more if I had more time, and I’ve found that reading books about inspiration or self-improvement help me to process mental challenges so much easier. I’m going to also get into reading fiction for fun. I’m currently reading “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” by John Mark Comer and it is completely redefining what rest means to me and how to stay mentally/emotionally healthy in a chaotic world. It’s one of my faves!

What about skin care?

I started seeing an esthetician for the first time late last year, and starting an actual skin care routine has been so incredible for me. I’ve been using practically the entire Cosmedix line and I can already feel a huge difference in my skin. It also adds a sense of comfort and normalcy to have a regular routine to wind down with at the end of the day.

What are simple joys you turn to during sad or stressful times?

The best kind of joy doesn’t sway with our circumstances. It helps us stay grounded and is a safe place to retreat to when life gets hard. No matter how small, discover rhythms of rest and regular moments of joy each day! My favorite quote is from “Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson, and I’ve been clinging to the last two lines in particular: “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated by our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” I aim to be my truest self at all times, and I hope that it can be a source of inspiration for others!

Clarifying & Cleansing Starter Kit

“The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” by John Mark Comer

Christina Caradona, blogger and content creator

How are you, really?

I feel very free! Zero constraints with more room to grow and truly be myself. It’s been a journey to get here (a serious journey), but this feeling is something I’d like to hold onto forever. One day I would like to look back at this time in my life and smile.

What are simple joys you turn to during sad or stressful times?

Music! Music makes me so happy; it shapes my day. Also, it’s crazy what a good conversation with a friend can do to get you back on track to feeling like your best self.

On listening to your body

I listen to my body and napping when I want to nap, and try not to push myself so hard. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep the napping around too long, but I will absolutely keep listening to my body. If I’m hungry, I will eat. No more punishing myself. I’m much happier this way. Lately, I’ve been making veggie stock; it’s my Sunday ritual. I find it so soothing. It’s also super easy to make and a great way to be more sustainable. Little things like this make me a happier person.

On affirmations and making the day count

I tell myself “I love you, you’re so smart, fun, and worthy” every day in the mirror. Mainly because I’m constantly talking to myself and also because it makes me feel good. I think just taking time to take care of yourself is a great way to get on that path to self joy. Whatever is not giving you joy get rid of it. This goes for friends, too. If they aren’t pushing you to be the best version of yourself then they’re not for you. When you wake up, it’s just you and the world. Every single day is literally a brand new day so make the day count.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

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