What a year this has been... and it’s only April, right? Just a quarter over and I feel like I’ve experienced more change in three months than I ever have in my life. And wow, change is hard. In this season, I think back on how I might have approached this time of my life before Render Free. Back at my previous job, I could see myself having leapt into over-production mode: Staying at work way past all of my colleagues, click-clacking away at reports that didn’t have deadlines for months, over committing to side projects, saying yes to everything in an effort to breathe as little as possible. Because before Render Free, I was scared to let myself truly rest and feel and process the life I was living.
This is why I was delighted by the invitation to write this month’s journal entry. I feel like I’m working intentionally now, more than I ever have, to choose tenderness and stillness in my life.
I've adopted the mantra “Saying no to you, means I’m saying yes to me.”
What does a soft life look like for me? I mean, as the concept stated, it’s going to look different for everyone. I have been choosing me in a new way this year. Setting boundaries for not only others to follow, but for myself. I've adopted the mantra “Saying no to you, means I’m saying yes to me.” So I have been asking myself: What if instead of saying yes to that consulting opportunity, I spend my Sundays dancing in the kitchen to Princess Nokia while I make Beef and Broccoli? What if instead of churning out those reports way ahead of schedule, I left work a little early to dream about what my garden is going to look like this year? How about instead of taking that happy hour that I know will turn into networking, I had cozy time at home to process the grief I’ve been running away from?
Even when I’m in the office, I’ve made little changes to my environment to encourage softness and stillness. Surrounding myself with simple comforts like having my alpaca blanket on my office chair, my self care zines propped beside my business cards and a patch I bought from an artist years ago that reads “#1 super sensitive.” As a department director for a Latinx non-profit, I also have been demonstrating this mindset to my employee, a fellow Latina. Too often we as Latinas are conditioned to be the martyrs for our community, expected to be both docile and able to withstand backbreaking work. What does it look like for us to accomplish success while also giving ourselves space for breathing? Sometimes it looks like sharing that I’m taking a mental health day when I certainly could use the generic phrase that “I’m taking PTO”. Saying and showing how I care about her as a person first, not just a worker. Encouraging curiosity, and sometimes pushing out deadlines so we can be playful in our work. Contracting more than enough helpers during events so that we can take a step back and bask in the delights of the work we’ve accomplished together.
A new way of living also comes with giving yourself grace when the practice isn’t perfect.
I don’t have this down to a science by any means. When I woke up this Monday I found that I’d booked myself every night this week. Thankfully, I was able to shift one evening from being about accomplishing tasks for a board I’m on, to going to Trader Joe’s with a friend and fellow board member and checking in on each other's lives (and yes, I bought myself flowers alongside my grocery haul 💐). And I still catch myself saying yes to new projects before really considering the impact this may have on my soft life practice. A new way of living also comes with giving yourself grace when the practice isn’t perfect.
Intentionally coming into Render Free continues to encourage me to integrate softness in my life everyday I walk through those doors and up the stairs. So, dear reader, as I wrap up my journal entry, I want to invite you to find sweet little ways to integrate stillness and softness into your life. If you need a brainstorming bestie, I’ll be at Render Free every Wednesday.
Your forever softie,
April Community Concept: A Soft Life
As Black + Brown women it can be tempting to give into the urgency and scarcity of hustle culture, grinding ourselves to the bone just to scrape by. What weathering effect does this have on our bodies? And what could it look like to make an intentional shift from surviving to thriving? One way we encourage our community to make this lifestyle change is by slowing down and leaning into softness. Moving through our days mindfully, slowly and being gentle with ourselves - mind, body, and heart. This in itself is resistance to the pull of staying busy and productive.
As Meghan Watson says in her Essence Magazine interview:
Soft living is a mindset and it’s timeless, it marks a return to simplicity and being well without having to resort to rigid beliefs, tough love and resilience by way of over-productivity. We don’t have to harden against the world to live freely in it… it's a way of showing ourselves that we deserve peace, mindfulness, wellness and beauty in our lives — especially when we get to be creative about what that looks like, as opposed to someone else defining it for us.
Creating a soft life for ourselves is easier when we can do so in a community that is dedicated to doing the same. Render Free offers us constant reminders that we are worthy of softness and slowing down even when the fast pace of the world can feel overwhelming. We often talk about Render Free as being “a soft place to land” and we mean it, sis. Let’s build a life of intention and wellness in a place that wraps its arms around us; a space built for us, by us.
Members, let's discuss! Join us April 11th at 6:30p (virtual) to discuss the soft life in this month's Solidarity Session. Event details on our member portal.