By declaring a three word phrase, Congresswoman Maxine Waters has offered new confirmation for self-care
On July 27th, ranking House Financial Services Committee member Representative Maxine Waters gave African American women a rallying cry decades in the making. While questioning the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury during his testimony, Representative Waters offered up a three-word story that is both declarative and empowering, cutting straight to the point of any encounter, leaving no room for debate.
With gumption, and without hesitation, she repeatedly declared, “Reclaiming my time.” Although the context of her revolutionary statement had nothing to do with the plight of African American women, the power and accuracy of her words resonated with me.
Covertly taught lessons and rituals tell African American women our time is not our own, and should be given to our partners, children, community, employer, and places of worship first. These messages are so pervasive that feelings of guilt often accompany any act or decision that could possibly take our time away from someone else.
However, like all traditions and schools of thought, change is inevitable.
African American women, through the power of social media and real world innovation, have created sister circles that encourage other members to love themselves boldly, embrace their limitations without shame, and take time for themselves. Cue Rep. Waters’ keen line of questioning, and instantly a timely catchphrase for the ages is born.
Like many African American women, from a young age societal norms taught me I am a nurturer, protector, and innovator bearing the burden of carrying others. Though not always explicitly stated, I received these lessons by observing the African American women around me.
By age 28, I was a married mother of four children under 4 years old, and a doctoral candidate, giving away my time to almost everyone because I believed that was my role.
At 30, I decided this track was no longer the move for me, and I slowly began carving out time for myself. For me, it was less about day parties and pedis, and more about self-love and emotional wellness practices. Reclaiming my time became my lifestyle.
So as the memes continue to cross our timelines and we continue finding new ways to use this revolutionary phrase, I offer six practical ways I began “Reclaiming My Time.”
Making Time to Meditate
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), meditation is a mindfulness practice “focused on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior.” It requires time, a quiet space, attention, and a receptive outlook.
Although it sounds simple enough, the requirement of silence makes meditation seem unbearable for many, and the daunting task of slowing down for even10 minutes can make meditation feel out of reach.