As black women, we all struggle with actually practicing self-care. We’re usually so busy saving the world, we often forget to put our oxygen masks on first. I am a true testament to that. Lately I’ve realized, I sacrifice my wellness to please other people and that ain’t right!
So when I was invited to attend the #StressProtest in Estes Park, atop the Rocky Mountain National Park, I had no choice but to say HELL YES! I mean, how could I turn down a full weekend of soul rejuvenation, outdoor relaxation and mindful moments? As great as that sounds, I have to be completely honest, my severe anxiety almost got in the way of some major breakthroughs. But then I pictured hundreds of Black women coming together to do things society says we can’t do. I could see us hiking, horseback riding, meditating and so much more. I just knew I had to be a part of this greatness!
The #StressProtest is a monumental event created by GirlTrek founders, Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison. The event was created to continue their legacy as the most inspiring health movement for Black women. “With nearly 100,000 neighborhood walkers, GirlTrek encourages women to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families, and communities. As women organize walking teams, they mobilize community members to support monthly advocacy efforts and lead a civil rights-inspired health movement.”
When I arrived at the top of the mountain, it was a moment like no other I had ever experienced. I was greeted by women from all walks of life. From a courageous woman who rode her motorcycle all the way from Virginia to a woman who just lost her son to gun violence. This protest was overflowing with melanin women determined to take their power back and keep it!
Throughout the weekend, I got to attend some amazing workshops and experiences. Here are highlights from some of my favorites.
Vogue Til You Love Yourself
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Today was more than blessed. The amount of love and joy that I felt while empowering, teaching and uplifting Black Women! was insurmountable! The title of my workshop at @girltrek #StressProtest is “Vogue ‘Till You Love Yourself” I use Vogue as a conduit for the empowerment of Black Women. My goal is to increase their joy, freedom and love as they walk through the world. I believe there is no greater gift than the ability to stand up for yourself and show up knowing that you ever needed was YOU! Thank you @apshantology, The O.G. for giving me a chance! By the looks of the picture and the love of these women, I believe we have created something truly successful together in this space🥰💯 #Oludarelive #Girltrek #KawoKabiesile 🔥⚡️😂✨ #Gratitude #Voguetillyouloveyourself #StressProtest2019 📸 @myroro 💯🥰
Championed by Black/Latino Trans and Gay communities in NY, this workshop was all about giving yourself the same love you give everyone else. The key is to live your life unapologetically. My coach/instructor, Oludaré Bernard, hyped the class up with words of encouragement that I didn’t realize I needed.
Eat, Pray, Laugh: Managing Fear Through Prayer
First off, let me say that coach, Kat Niambi, had me deep sea diving in my feelings. But I needed it. I needed to release some things I had been holding on to. I had to let them go in order to make room for what God has in store for me. One of those things was the fear I would have the same illnesses as my mother. As Kat rubbed my back and allowed me to shed my tears, she gave me comfort and reassurance. She told me I have to let go of that fear and I can do so through prayer and manifestations.
Ya’ll know pretty girls love trap music! So when you combine oh so hood lyrics with the fluidity of yoga, you have a sure-fire time. As we went from mountain pose to tree pose, the music transitioned from Future to 6lack and I was living my best life! While our instructor Brandon challenged us to push ourselves, the dope melodies made it so much easier.
Transforming Through Conflict
While we all hate conflict, it’s something that’s inevitable. I learned some extremely helpful conflict resolution tools during this workshop. Coach Jay encouraged us to ”employ emotional intelligence and transformative mediation practices to unpack our relationship to interpersonal strife.”
Hip Hop Karaoke
I think this photo explains it all. It ain’t a function without us screaming some of our favorite songs at the top of our lungs.
Slow Down: Taking the time to Slow Down and Listen to Spirit
Akua Serwa Soadwa created an immersive mindfulness experience, intentionally designed for us to SLOW DOWN. “We need to slow down so that we can deeply listen to ourselves. The kind of listening and understanding that unfolds inside of this space is deeply restorative and liberating.” She had us write down intentions and it proved how powerful it is to write it down and make it plain.
All Tribe Moments
All Tribe moments were embedded throughout the weekend, creating a safe and authentic space for us. Some included discussions about religion and entrepreneurship while others included dance parties and sound baths. No matter the topic, it was an amazing moment for us. To be able to gather and share pieces of ourselves we wouldn’t normally share, atop the mountain, were irrefutably life-changing.
Morgan & Vanessa
I can’t say THANK YOU enough for the movement you have engendered. It is one of empowerment, hope and strength. I have never seen myself more clearer than I did during this much needed #StressProtest.
Written by: Joce Blake | Senior Fashion Editor