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What Render Free means to me

Render Free gave me the permission I never knew I needed. I suppose I never really needed it in the first place, it was my birthright; freedom. It’s always been mine for the taking even before I was born.

Back in 2020, Arielle said “Hey sis, it’s okay to slow down, it’s okay to stop.” It showed me that I deserve better. Better than endless burnout and feeling like a misunderstood outsider. It gave me a true sense of belonging which is all I’ve ever wanted and had been searching for since I was a child. This space is something I wish I had as a teenager who had no idea what she was doing and I longed for this community as I navigated my early twenties as a young adult with social anxiety. In many ways, I had been living so much for other people that at 27 years old I didn’t even know who I was.

I’ve found Render Free to be a respite in every sense of the word - a sweet relief from the day to day weathering of being a Black mixed woman in a world that was not made for us. Moving through this world that wants to be us, and be saved by us, but not protect us. Truthfully, I love being Black, I love being a Black woman. It is the honor of a lifetime to exist in this divine, complicated body. And to laugh, cry, hug and take up space with other Black + Brown women has been the greatest gift I never knew how to ask for.

While I mourn the physical space that provided peace, ease and beauty; and I mourn the offerings that taught me wellness doesn’t look like just one thing - those which allowed me to prioritize rest, self care, and my own personal healing. Despite the inevitable grief, I know I need not mourn the community of women I’ve come to know and love. We will always be sisters and no matter where our individual journeys take us, we will remain connected by the vulnerability and the joy we shared together over the past three years.

So, what does Render Free mean to me?

It means that I will always know I am worthy. I am worthy of all the best things this life has to offer. Suffering is not my legacy. I can and will demand only what serves me and my highest good and refuse anything less.

I don’t always have to be strong. I can be soft. I can lean on my loved ones to support me just as I have done for them. I can finally put Vanessa first, before all else. Before anyone else's opinions or feelings. Before societal expectations and norms. As I process this loss in the coming days and weeks, I can say with absolute certainty: I love myself; and I love this life. Being a part of this community has been the single most impactful experience on that journey of self discovery, self acceptance and self love. In the midst of the whirlwind that was 2020, Render Free arrived right on time.

Render Free lives on. I found liberation in my sisters, in the featured guests we learned so much wisdom from. I found liberation in my healing conversations with Arielle. I found liberation in the trees and the breeze and the birdsong that surround this physical space. I continue to find it everywhere I look because it surrounds me. It’s all around me and it’s mine to claim, today and every day. No matter where I work or what community I find myself a part of, Render Free lives on in me. It lives on in all of us.

I feel free. I am free. I always have been and I always will be. ❤️

-Vanessa Brooke Agnes, Render Free forever fan


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