Communal Care as Self Care

When you think of self care, what comes to mind?

I'll be the first to admit that I often fall into the mindset of seeing self care and consumerism as synonymous. On days that I need to reset, I often spend money — I figure that most bad days can be solved with a mani/pedi and slice of tres leches. But I've come to realize that, for me, moments of closeness with my good friends + loved ones is the form of self-care that best helps me to breathe, reset, and re-align.

I feel most grounded when in communion with others. Community is sacred. Holding space for deep conversation, genuine, uninhibited laughter, and authentic connection is a meaningful practice of self care. It is both beautiful and rare to find the people that we can be our most honest selves around, and so I sincerely cherish those connections and moments. Engaging and listening to the stories and experiences of others helps me to better understand my Self. In fact, many of my most significant periods of growth have taken place after engaging in deep conversation with people that I value, respect, and love. And perhaps that is why blogging is so important to me — by sharing pieces of myself, I can better connect to the people around me (whether physically present or not), learn, and grow.

After this realization, I decided that I wanted to continue talking about communal care as an extension of self care. Almost immediately, I thought of Shannon Kennard and Patrice Jackson, two best friends who I greatly admire. Both Shannon and Patrice express themselves freely, authentically, and boldly — and their friendship is the incredible combination of their individual strength and light. I wanted to hear their thoughts on self care, and how their friendship fit into their own practices of self care. And they gladly obliged.

See below for the full interview —

Tell me a little about you. Who are you? What inspires you? What are you working on right now?
SK: I am a story teller. I like to convey things with visuals and words. I'm also a nomad. I'm always exploring and finding new places and pieces of art inspire me to create more. Right now, I'm really into crafting my photo editing style and starting our new thrift shop.

PJ: Patrice Jackson — Texas-made, but I've been living in NYC for almost 3 years. I moved here to pursue a career in fashion. Currently I am freelancing in content production, while also starting an online thrift store called SoftWild, with my bestie, Shannon!

What do you firmly, without a doubt, know + believe about yourself?
SK: That I can always get shit done, regardless of if it's a want or a need.

PJ: I believe that I have a huge imaginative mindset, and I know that everyday I work hard to bring my mindset to fruition.

What do you firmly, without a doubt, know/believe about your friendship?
SK: That, together, we can create dope shit whether its images or conversations or whatever. Patrice is creative bae.

PJ: That this is a friendship that was meant to be, and that it is more of a sisterhood than friendship.

Tell me about your relationship with one another. How'd you meet?
SK: We actually met on the set of a photoshoot while we were in school in Texas. To be honest, I don't really remember it (Patrice just recently reminded me!) but I remember knowing of her in undergrad. We didn't get really close until we were both living in NYC.

PJ: We are different but also the same. Sometimes we even find ourselves completing each others sentences; even our minds sync to where we're saying the same thing at the same time. We're both from Texas and we met in college, but we didn't really get to know each other until moving to NYC. I was living in D.C. prior to moving to NY and Shannon was one of the only people I knew who was living in NY. I needed a couch to sleep on while I was interviewing for a job, so I asked Shannon [if I could stay with her] and the rest of our friendship is history. Truthfully NYC has brought us together and blossomed our friendship.

What do you love about your friendship?
SK: I love our shared sense of adventure. There's always something new to try, wear, or see.

PJ: I love that we can learn from each other, create together, and the fact that we've made a routine [watching and] discussing our favorite reality TV shows!

What parts of you does the other bring out?
SK: Patrice brings out my "cool fashion girl" persona. She listens to bands I've never heard of and is always finding some experimental way to layer vintage pieces.

PJ: Shannon brings out my independent spirit and carelessness of what others think.

What does building community look like to you?
SK: Community looks like sharing to me. Sharing resources and experiences.

PJ: Building a community to me is a place where everyone can be themselves and be free; where everyone can share a part of themselves to where it enlightens and inspires others to do the same.

How has being loved communally and/or by another helped you with your own practices of self care?
SK: It helps me knowing I'm not alone when I get down. Sometimes it takes just one other person to remind me that my feelings are completely valid.

PJ: Finding a community in NYC can be hard. Luckily I've found mine through people like Shannon and others around me as well. The love from those in my community has helped me to love myself, love on others with out expecting anything back, and its helped me learn to give myself more credit, especially for any creative work I do.

How do you help one another to self reflect and/or practice self care?
SK: We balance each other out however the other needs it, I think. She can bring me back down when I start to beat myself up for feeling a certain way and I'm always encouraging her to do the things that she's hesitant about wanting. The same is also true in reverse.

PJ: We have a very open communication whenever one of us is going through a day where we need self care. We listen to each other [in order] to best understand where the other is coming from, and we always find ways to share ideas/tips that help refresh one another during a self care day/moment.

What do you feel is the difference between self-care and communal care?
SK: Self care is looking inward to rediscover balance. Communal care is looking outward.

PJ: Well one could say self-care is when you need to focus on yourself and care for yourself, but self-care can range in many different ways for each person, and sometimes communal care can be apart of self-care. I know for myself, sometimes I just need to be surrounded by people to laugh with, dance, and even share anything on my mind as part of my self-care. It just depends on how I am feeling and what I feel like I need at the time to have a successful self-care moment.

The love expressed between women is particular and powerful, because we have had to love in order to live; love has been our survival.
— Audre Lorde

So now I want to continue the conversation — please feel free to chime in. What does self care look like for you? What does communal care look like? How do you combine the two? x

Want more of Shannon & Patrice?

Shannon — || @whereisshannonk
Patrice — @patricejacksonn
Their Vintage Shop (Coming Soon!) - @SoftWild