Part 1: One’s Profession IS Personal

A 3-Part Series

Welcome to a 3-part series focused on the practice of aligning your professional life with your personal life. The timing of this series is serendipitous as it was originally slated to drop this month as a 2-part series. Then we all began sheltering in place as COVID-19 emerged as a global pandemic. This caused me to pause and reconsider the following question I have been pondering since early September 2019:

What does it feel like to recognize that one’s profession is personal?

Nearly 8 months later, these are my thoughts…

Accepting Our Current Reality

Everything is Different. And, That’s Okay.

As I begin to write this piece, it’s a sunny Spring day in Berkeley, CA.

It was also day 30 of sheltering in place…

30 days of everything is different in the blink of an eye due to the current COVID-19 global pandemic.

While much has changed, there’s much that remains the same.

In our global economy, inequity and oppression is rampant in nearly every aspect of our structures and institutions. For those of us whose intersectional identity places us in the racial global majority (e.g. African-American/Black, Latinx, API, Mixed Race/Two or More Races, etc), this is not news to us. While more and more folx wake up to the structural and institutional inequities impacting those now deemed “essential,” it’s also clear that this virus is no longer the “great equalizer” that had been named in the beginning. Instead, the tower is crumbling — based on the very foundation it was built upon — White Supremacy Culture Practices ← click the link for the list of 15 practices plus an offering on how to pivot using a set of group commitments.

The very practices — a sense of urgency, perfectionism, right to conform, and the list goes on — that leave us feeling F-R-I-E-D at the end of each day! Do you feel me?!

Checking in with YOU

Which means, it’s an opportunity to check-in with yourself, maybe for the first time today: How’s your heart? And, what do you need?

While you ponder, gather around, it’s storytime…

Last week (aka week 4 of sheltering-in-place), my 5-year-old daughter, Jaylin, asked: “Mama, I thought we were going back to school this week?”

Part statement and part question, I realized I had a choice as a parent. I could brush it off and avoid the conversation altogether because I wasn’t ready, or I could practice my mantra: “telling the truth always wins.” I felt the discomfort in my body and the mental fatigue from the day (or days, I can’t remember at this point) to avoid the question, yet I chose to practice telling the truth.

Now you may be thinking, what’s the big deal? To that, I’ve got one word: Resentment. However, that’s for another post on another day. Here’s my point: by telling the truth, I gave space for Jaylin to fall apart. Hindsight is 20/20. Nonetheless, this is what I said:

Jaylin nailed it, “This is a disaster!”

“Love, you won’t be going back to school this week…or the rest of the year.”

To this, Jaylin immediately responded with “This is a disaster!”

I share this for two reasons: 1) our under 18 citizens of the world have the best pulse on the situation and 2) it’s an invitation to slooooowww down because we are in a crisis.

Jaylin nailed it, “This is a disaster!”

It’s not business as usual.

There is no normal.

The uncertainty is real.

And…

Each day we have the opportunity to ask ourselves: How’s your heart? And, what do you need?

Continue to ponder it. Because the reality is that I’ve been doing so for the last week, and it’s now day 35.

What follows is what I can share from the frontlines as a Black queer mama, who’s leading and strategizing for 5 organizations/businesses while co-parenting and co-schooling across two homes while I build a Liberatory vision of home and family with my partner of nearly a year and a half.

As a mamapreneur — mama and leader of my own life, who finds JOY in the juggle. The juggle of work I love and lead for both my own and the collective’s Liberation.

Jaylin & Mama J captured by Studio XIII Photography

I am holding onto both realities — uncertainty and liberation — as I “Attend to Healing” while “Embracing Complexity,” “Building Relational Trust,” and “Seeking Liberatory Collaboration” (4 out of the 12 Liberatory Design Mindsets by the National Equity Project). With these mindsets for Liberation as my anchors, I reflect back on the mindsets, intentions, and actions I held just a month ago — It Takes Courage.

Practicing Professional & Personal Alignment

By stepping into courage and aligning my personal and professional lives, I am reminded of how I am being called to practice in the weeks and months ahead.

Practice: v. the repeated use of an idea, belief, or method to improve or maintain one’s proficiency

What I know to be true over the last year and beyond, it takes practice to align your personal and professional lives 💕

”Simply put, the process of liberation is not linear, it’s very much cyclical. Liberation is a Praxis of Persistence. “ — Mama J, It Takes Courage

And so, I practice fierce devotion by focusing on acceptance, acknowledgment, and making meaning 👣 In my practice of taking bite-sized and deliberate daily action (aka Intentional Justice™) I offer my…

3 Ways to Practice Fierce Devotion in Uncertain Times

  1. Acceptance: Simply put, answer the Q: what’s showing up right now in the present moment? Yes, there’s a global pandemic, and what do YOU, insert your name, need? I start there because each of us is at the root of our own healing. We are collectively learning to trust ourselves and honor what’s needed each day. This is what happens when you’re in crisis. I know in every cell of my body because of trauma, both as an adult and a child. If you can relate, then you’re not alone. You’ve been here before. What helped you cope before is your superpower. You get to choose if that superpower still serves you. If so, from the wisdom of Dory, “Just keep swimming (e.g. meditation, yoga, journaling, etc.)”. If not, you get to choose what will serve you now. And so, I invite you to hold up the mirror and ask: What do you need to accept this current reality?
  2. Acknowledging: To begin, let’s own as leaders that “clarity comes from time and space to reflect on both holding up the mirror — looking in — while looking out the window.” (It Takes Courage). No matter the urgency or the immediate need of someone else, we must first put on our oxygen masks. Doing so now feels like a daily practice, as every aspect of our lives is now under one roof. 21 meals a week. Countless snacks, especially with littles in the house or maybe simply as a personal coping strategy. Either way, give time and space each day to acknowledge what is needed when you hold up the mirror and look out the window.
  3. Making Meaning: As a result of reading this article, I’m now reading this book, which will likely take you down a rabbit hole, so stay with me for now. What follows is my recent attempt at making meaning of the non-stop juggle that’s not just for myself yet also the collective:

More than 30 days of sheltering in place.

There’s no longer a separation.

Nothing is business as usual.

Every aspect of our lives under one roof.

21 meals a week and countless snacks.

Work life. Physical health. Social life. Mental health.

Oh, plus being intentional with quarantine-school.

A mama who finds JOY in the juggle.

The juggle of work I love and lead for Liberation.

Finding Liberation in the juggle.

The small moments we don’t give our power

Away to our current villains

Shame. Guilt. Doubt.

Due to unmet expectations.

Obligations that no longer fit the life.

We’re living in our homes.

Reliant on “essential workers.”

Workers who were always essential

Yet not recognized in a system of domination.

A system that got us in this very predicament

And so I too wonder, what if?

What if we don’t return to normal?

Writing daily-poetry or soliloquy is one active way, I am making meaning via the 100 Day Project. It’s where I find simplicity in the chaos.

Choose an art project…

Do it for 100 days…

Track your progress…

Co-create Justice in Your Life…

Welcome to the Lovelution: 100 days of pocket poems — one a day — on Love, Leadership & Liberation

An activation to finish my book manuscript while sheltering in place ♥

You can follow along over on IG.

And so, I leave you with the inquiry questions I began with: How’s on your heart? And, what do you need?

In lovelution…

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