Fresh Off The Vote

Caring in a World That Doesn’t Care

September 28, 2020
Fresh Off The Vote
Caring in a World That Doesn’t Care
Chapters
Fresh Off The Vote
Caring in a World That Doesn’t Care
Sep 28, 2020

We're living through a global pandemic, civil unrest, and threats to our democracy. It's necessary for young people to step up in advocating for a better future. But in doing so, we often don’t realize the stress and anxiety that can take a toll on our bodies. How can you take better care of yourself? Especially when it feels like people may not be understanding? Or that self-care is expensive and inaccessible? 

In this episode, #FOTV hosts Amy and Kaitlyn speak with two professors about the history and relevance of radical self-care. Dr. Donna Nicol is an associate professor and chair of the Africana Studies Department at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Dr. Jennifer A. Yee is a Professor of Asian American Studies at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). What is radical about radical self-care and how is it different from good old consumerism? 
#FOTV also brings in Jess Ayden Li, an activist & nonprofit consultant for how she helps organizations implement self-care cultures. 

Meditation music credit to BGM President.


Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/freshoffthevote)

Show Notes Transcript

We're living through a global pandemic, civil unrest, and threats to our democracy. It's necessary for young people to step up in advocating for a better future. But in doing so, we often don’t realize the stress and anxiety that can take a toll on our bodies. How can you take better care of yourself? Especially when it feels like people may not be understanding? Or that self-care is expensive and inaccessible? 

In this episode, #FOTV hosts Amy and Kaitlyn speak with two professors about the history and relevance of radical self-care. Dr. Donna Nicol is an associate professor and chair of the Africana Studies Department at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Dr. Jennifer A. Yee is a Professor of Asian American Studies at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). What is radical about radical self-care and how is it different from good old consumerism? 
#FOTV also brings in Jess Ayden Li, an activist & nonprofit consultant for how she helps organizations implement self-care cultures. 

Meditation music credit to BGM President.


Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/freshoffthevote)

SPEAKERS
Amy, Kaitlyn, Donna Nicol, Jennifer Yee, Jess Li


Jennifer Yee 00:00
This idea of self-care as just as important as hydrating yourself, as reading about the latest issue, as making sure that you are up and communicating with people who are on your different social media accounts. This is a part of the work. It's not something that's extra.

Amy and Kaitlyn 00:28
Hey, I’m Amy. Hey, I'm Caitlin. Thanks for listening to Fresh Off the Vote. We are grassroots podcast with the mission to make politics exciting and accessible. Our team is 100% self-identified Asian American Pacific Islanders ready to make waves for the November 2020 election. We created the podcast as a home for conversation for APPI's by APPI's. November doesn't seem far away. But with everything going on, it doesn't hurt to get registered now and get your ballot in early. Our democracy just might depend on you Apiavote.org provides information, in language, on how Asian Americans can get registered, track your ballot, and find polling locations as November 3rd approaches.

Amy 01:14
Well, Kaitlyn, we are nearing the six-month mark of this quarantine. We're still stuck at home. Shit is happening all around us. The skies were orange not that long ago. And I feel like I'm trapped in some sort of weird limbo.

Kaitlyn 01:29
Yeah, let me tell you, Amy. Things have been rough, to say the least. Like I was originally going to be home for four-day visit. And I've been here for six months, I've unexpectedly moved back home for the unseeable future. And there's just a lot out of my control with work and life and society when it's all a shitstorm. So, I just feel like really frustrated constantly. 

Amy 01:56
Well, in March, I still had hope. But I think that's been stamped pretty much completely out. It's been really hard for me having to like, readjust to living a life at home, which I never imagined myself having. You know, at first I started to find ways to stay productive and regain that sense of normalcy. But it was hard because I was isolated from my friends from college, I was isolated from my friends at home. And so, my social life, this pretty much disappeared. And it culminated one night where I had a mental breakdown, because I just couldn't take everything that was going on anymore in my own head in my own life. And certainly everything around me in terms of like pandemic, the social unrest, the climate, the White House, none of that was helping either. 

Kaitlyn 02:49
Yeah, so I also had a breakdown. Um, when I was in college, I know I had anxiety, but I didn't realize that it was something that I was still struggling with. But in July, there was a two-week period where I self-isolated from everyone. Like, I didn't talk to my parents, and talk to my friends, family. I just stayed in my room. And I just felt so guilty and frustrated and angry at the world and, and myself for how I was acting the way and I was feeling. And I just and nothing made sense to me. It all culminated in me having this breakdown, and it made me reflect and realize that I'm definitely still struggling with anxiety and a bunch of other things and and that this pandemic situation is taking a much bigger toll on me than I had realized. And since then, like I've started therapy, but I'm definitely still struggling with a lot of things. Like I still feel very guilty for having the problems I have, compared to black people in America and in the world. And just being in a pandemic situation, and trying to balance, you know, staying engaged and educated, but not letting it get to the point where it's too overwhelming or emotional for me. Because when it gets to that point, like, I know that I pull away from everything, which is the exact opposite of staying engaged and taking action. And so, I'm I'm trying to figure out, you know, how to balance what I'm struggling with staying engaged and staying healthy during this time, but it's definitely an ongoing struggle and something that isn't an overnight fix.

Amy 04:37
Yeah, I'm still figuring out to you know, where my strengths lie and how I can best contribute and advocate for others, but definitely still a work in progress. And I think especially during this time, in line with my own experiences as well, I wanted to talk about the intersection of mental health and activism and engagement because you know, at some points I was distant. But on the whole other side at points, I was watching the news and reading articles until I was exhausted, which is also not okay. And you know, when I'm looking at influencers and activists, I only saw like the superhero side of them, like I only saw them working for others, working for communities. And I never really saw the human side, the struggle or the weakness that I know that they were experiencing as well. So I wanted to, you know, shed light on these issues and ask questions like, how can we recognize them? And how can we overcome them? Or just generally, how can we do all of this engaging where we can in a healthier way. 

Kaitlyn 05:40
There’s a lot that happens in our lives, you know, whether you're an activist to whatever degree you're engaged, there's a lot that happens that can take a huge toll on you, no matter who you are, if you're a student, and you're just trying to get through online learning. If you're a frontline worker, you're just someone who's looking for a job right now, when the job market is literally shit and like people don't want to hire people. So there's just so much going on in our lives outside of trying to make change in the world that can take a toll on us. No matter who you are, or where you are in your life, you need to take care of yourself, because if you don't, you can do what you need to do.

Amy 06:28
I think for many of us as Asian Americans, we feel as if we're struggling alone, but the issues we face regarding mental health is not an isolated experience at all. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 15% of all self-identified AAPI's, reported having a mental illness in 2018. In absolute numbers, that's almost 3 million people. And for young AAPIs, that number is on the rise. The same survey reported that the number of serious mental illness cases rose nearly 3% or 89,000 cases among AAPI, aged 18 to 25, between 2008 and 2018. 

Kaitlyn 07:10
And outside of our own cultural communities, Asian Americans face racism and xenophobia, which has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, and other exhausting and traumatic experiences that knowingly or unknowingly take a huge toll on our mental health. 

Amy 07:24
And even good things can be harmful if we don't engage with them in healthy ways or take care of ourselves in the process. For instance, for this episode, the good thing we wanted to focus on is activism. While a lot of us may not identify as activists, like I don't, that doesn't mean that we don't participate in activism.

Kaitlyn 07:43
Right. Activism isn't limited to standing in the street protesting, though that is one way. Activism can be educating myself, having hard conversations with my friends and family, creating art that sheds light on important issues or organizing events.

Amy 07:57
Obviously, it isn't a one size fits all. But our involvement also means that we're not excluded from the side effects that activism can have on our bodies, minds and spirits if we don't take care of ourselves and others. I love this quote from Janaya Khan, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter Toronto, who says that, “activism is heart work”.

Kaitlyn 08:17
I think that's a perfect description, because for people who engage in activism, it's oftentimes personal identities and lived experiences that are informing and motivating the work they do. But this has an adverse effect to when many activists regularly internalize the widespread suffering they witness, as noted by Dr. Paul Gorski, a teacher educator who has extensively researched the relationship between activism and mental health. This can further exacerbate the effects of burnout and mental illness, particularly for marginalized individuals dealing with institutionalized racism, and systemic oppression.

Amy 08:51
So given the traveling state of mental health within the AAPI community, and the potential harmful effects of the activist work that a lot of us are beginning to engage in, we wanted to know what are some proactive steps that we can take to take care of ourselves? How can we build healthy habits so that we can sustain the movements we're invested in.

Kaitlyn 09:12
We had the honor of speaking to professors and an activist to further explore these questions and learn more about radical self-care. In this society for certain people, even just practicing self-care can be a bold political statement. We'll talk about why that is and how they've incorporated radical self-care into their lives to ensure that they're healthy and present to keep doing what they love and fighting for what they believe in.

Amy 09:39
To learn more about this idea of radical self-care, we enlisted the help of Dr. Donna Nicol and Dr. Jennifer Yee. Both women have researched and taught for many years on radical self-care. I want to welcome you both to our podcast. Before we dive in, could I get a quick introduction from you both.

Donna Nicol 09:58
Hi, my name is Dr. Donna Nicol. I am currently an Associate Professor and Chair of Africana Studies at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Jennifer Yee 10:08
Hi everybody. My name is Dr. Jennifer Yee. I am a professor of Asian American Studies at California State University Fullerton. This is where Donna and I met. I am the youngest of seven children, of Chinese immigrant parents. And I grew up in both Compton and Cerritos, California. 

Amy 10:28
So to start off, we wanted to begin with the basics of radical self-care. So I'm sure our listeners are familiar with self-care. But what exactly is radical self-care and what makes it so radical?

Donna Nicol 10:40
Radical self-care is this whole idea of you making choices about how you're going to spend your time in order to not only preserve your physical health, but your emotional and psychological health. It's about being very intentional, about how you're going to expend your energy. It's it's radical, because it's this whole idea of really preserving yourself so that you can get prepared for the next fight. And that you're not just taking care of yourself to beautify yourself in this kind of consumerist approach to the self-care, but it's really about preserving your energy so that you can get ready to engage and another form of resistance. 

Amy 11:28
So the idea of radical self-care that Professor Nicol explained stems from black and women of color feminist theory, which is distinct from white feminist thought. Most notable was the work of Audre Lorde, a lesbian, black feminist scholar, activist, and poet, but others like Gloria Anzaldua and bell hooks have all contributed to this notion that ‘you can't nurture the fight for justice and equality, if you don't nurture yourself first’. One of the most famous quotes on radical self-care is from Audre Lorde, when she writes about “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation. And that is an act of political warfare.” And quote, Lorde wrote this in her 1988 essay series titled ‘A Burst of Light and Other Essays’ while she was dealing with a second relapse of cancer and trying to figure out how to continue to do her work. 

Jennifer Yee 10:08
You know, I love how Donna explained that because I think it's so clear and accessible. And I think your question of why is this radical is a really good one. Because you people say, “Well, sure, I can take care of myself, but it's not entirely radical”. But what's radical about it, is this idea that it's political. And if it's political, it's really about power. And it's about the knowledge that your use of your time is your power to have. For example, this is this is just really basic. But everybody who uses Microsoft Outlook at the university, if you have your calendar open, somebody can look on your calendar, request a meeting at a time that you don't have designated because their assumption is that your time is theirs. And so you can have a space blocked out because you need to take care of writing or reading or resting or taking a walk. But somebody sees that 30 minutes and they say, “Oh, I can have a meeting with you”. Now for me, it's a radical thing to say, “I'm sorry, you don't have the opportunity to take a look at this”. And the other part, I think that makes it radical, especially speaking to folks who are working on organizing, doing some important activist work is you really think about this idea of self-care as just as important as hydrating yourself, as reading about the latest issue, as making sure that you are up and communicating with people who are on your different social media accounts. This is a part of the work. It's not something that's extra.

Kaitlyn 13:51
So realizing that radical self-care is a concept born of black and woman of color feminism, I wanted to ask about the gender dynamic that's sometimes overlooked within radical self-care.

Donna Nicol 14:02
The gender dynamic comes in really because by and large women, young girls even, are socialized to be outward-looking in terms of taking care of communities and families. And the expectation is that women are going to shoulder all of these burdens, because that makes them into good women of some sort. But the problem is that we get so socialized into doing this work that we never take the time for ourselves, to take care of ourselves. And it's not even so much take care of yourself so you can take care of someone else. It's take care of yourself because you are a beautiful person in and of itself and we need to have you here. We need to have your contributions.

Jennifer Yee 14:49
And I'd like to add an intersectional lens to that.

Kaitlyn 14:52
Okay, so really quickly. Intersectionality as a concept also originating from black and women of color feminism and is the acknowledgement that all women do not feel the same levels of discrimination just because they're a woman. The multiple layers of our identities like race, class, gender, and sexuality, all affect each other and are equally connected to how we might understand and experience oppression, and relationships of power. And intersectionality is applicable to anyone, not just woman.

Jennifer Yee 15:22
Because I think the aspect of being an Asian American Pacific Islander Desi American descent really intersects with this notion of what's expected of respective genders. And I don't necessarily always mean in a binary way. But just for the sake of conversation, in terms of families and communities, there is an emphasis on community. And that's a beautiful thing in our AAPI and APIDA communities. However, it can also have this overlay of there's an expectation of you, there's a role you're supposed to play. And because of that role, if you're not meeting that role, then the community can also perceive you and label you as someone who's selfish. And that label and that tag of being selfish, can really cause a person to sacrifice their health, because they don't want to be labeled selfish, right? And so you're caught in a bind when you're not feeling well, but you don't quite know how to negotiate that. 

Amy 16:24
So like I mentioned earlier, the idea of self-care is far from foreign. As a matter of fact, in recent years, it's already been well incorporated into mainstream culture. The millennial and Gen Z interest in self-care has evolved into a booming $10 billion industry, where self-care has gotten a pretty steep price tag. I'm thinking like a set of pajamas from Goop, which for those of us who don't know is Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand most known for their vagina candles, costing like over $300. Like, that's crazy. What effect does this capitalist consumers take on self-care have on our understanding and practice of it? Because it seems so different from the radical self-care we're talking about. But for some people, that might be their only definition and exposure to self-care.

Donna Nicol 17:10
But the problem is that then it makes it inaccessible to people who don't have the means to go and do these spa days or buy the goop products or whatever. And then if that's the messaging that people get, then we start to believe that self-care is only reserved for people who have the economic means to engage in it. And those of us who don't have those means, will, you know, not take care of ourselves because we think that it's, it's, it's for the wealthy, you know, or for the well to do. There's other ways, you know, low-cost ways, you can still move your body without having to go to SoulCycle. 

Jennifer Yee 17:51
And that's that consumerist orientation, that's really conflated with taking care of yourself. And so you begin to associate whether you want to or not, that spending money is equivalent to taking care of yourself. And to be able to sort of tease those two things out, will allow people to liberate themselves from this idea that self-care has to be expensive.

Donna Nicol 18:18
Really, it’s something that needs to start out as a thought process. How do I make space in my own head for myself, before I even start to take on the rest of the world? That I mean that can be challenging when you have multiple pressures, you know, if you're, if you're a mother, and if you are working, if you are student, and you're an activist, you've got all of these things going on. But in order to process the things that are going on around you, you need to make some time in your own head. And that has been challenging for those of us who are seasoned at doing these things.

Kaitlyn 18:52
In your article, you also wrote that self-care is something that feeds your soul. And as unique individuals with our own personalities and passions, the self-care that speaks to me will differ from your self-care tools. Spending money on something may or may not work as your self-care, but it just has to be something that works for you. Some low-cost self-care practices can be journaling, meditation, going for a walk, or exercising. And I'm developing my self-care regimen.

Jennifer Yee 19:20
So I think that's what Donna and I are bringing to the table and hopefully, to the folks who are listening to this podcast, which is this idea that yes, it can be an individual approach, but we all need to collectively support one another to practice this self-care and to model for each other what that looks like. And so when we start a meeting, like recently we've had these meetings with community partners, and folks who are starting to do this work just like you are, and I always start it by saying “let’s check-in, let's offer that grace and compassion”. Because we need to change the ways that we do things and stop expecting ourselves to run ourselves into the ground. Because if we're not here on this earth, we cannot do this work. And that was a very key point for me as a cancer survivor, when I realized, “Oh, my gosh, am I gonna have this many more years on this earth”, and realizing I have got to get to the business of taking care of myself, if I want to be here longer and do more of the things that I want to be able to do. Not just in the community, but also with my family and loved ones.

Donna Nicol 20:31
And I think that's important for young people who are engaged in activism is that I mentioned before that, you know, we all tend to have a bad case of the doodoos. We're constantly trying to do stuff, you know, a litany of activities. But we don't often sit and just be in the present moment. And I think part of self-care is also recognizing that, you know, you're human, and you, you're tired sometimes, or you're happy sometimes, and you want to celebrate that, before you even start doing all this work, or moving on to the next project.

Kaitlyn 21:06
Something that really stuck with me is how giving yourself and others compassion and grace is empowering, and how that can really change one's environment. Changing the culture, about self-care in our industries is definitely something Amy and I have talked about before. Amy working in business and myself in the entertainment industry. And we really hope that people are in our industries and in society, change and implement self-care cultures in the spaces and communities they’re a part of and make it a place of power.

Donna Nicol 21:33
We do need to talk about it. And so I think that one good thing about younger generations is that they have the capacity to step back and look and say, “Well, maybe we could change this. And maybe if we insert a consciousness about community care and about doing check-in’s more often, then we don't have to think of this as radical self-care. That this was just be built into what we do”.

Amy 22:01
So thanks to our conversation with Dr. Nicol and Dr. Yee, we now have a better understanding of what radical self-care is. Ultimately, it's a thought process and an intersectional framework to understand self-care. But what is radical self-care look like in practice for an activism.

Kaitlyn 22:23
So our next guest is Jess Li, an activist and nonprofit consultant. We wanted to talk to Jess about her perspective as an activist, and a young AAPI on self-care, and how she helps others implement self-care cultures and their organizations. So thanks for speaking with us today, Jess. And if you could introduce yourself. 

Jess Li 22:43
Sure, I'm happy to so to be with both of you. My name is Jess Aiden Lee, and I'm currently a nonprofit consultant, based in Oakland, California. And I work on creating cultures of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for nonprofit organizations. I spent pretty much the majority of my career working with refugees and immigrants in the nonprofit sector on issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. And a lot of that was in direct services. So doing case management and helping them with safety planning, getting them access to shelter. So as you can probably imagine, you know, self-care was really important for everyone within our organization. And so when I left the sector a couple of years ago, because I needed a break from direct services, I decided to make self-care and community care, a key component of the work that I do nonprofits.

Amy 23:38
So I'm sure that your work has played a role in your practice of self-care. So if you could elaborate a little more on what that role was, and why self-care is so important to you? 

Jess Li 23:49
Yeah, so as an activist, you know, I practice self-care, because I know that the issues that I'm working on it are not going to be resolved for a long time. I'm probably not going to see an end to systemic racism, you know, in the next couple of months, right, or even in the next couple of years. And so, I know that the work that I'm doing is like running a marathon, and it's not a sprint. As so if I'm going to be doing activists and social justice work for the long haul, then I need to be regularly practicing self-care to get there so that I can sustain my ability to continue doing this work without constantly running up against burnout and are operating on burnout levels 100% of the time.

Amy 24:35
So how do you understand self-care? And what does self-care look like for you personally? 

Jess Li 24:40
It's like a buffet, right? Like we go to like, in a buffet, we try to like load up our plates, right? And then we eat everything and we go back for more, right? Like, that's not really what I think we should do in terms of self-care. Self-Care is like balancing, like what's on your plate, knowing that you can always go back for more food. It's gonna be there. Like the crab is going to come out again. So we can go get that, you know, like so. So it's about having the everyday practices, which for me are deep breathing, mindfulness, scheduling things that match my energy level. And then also having emergency self care tools such as you know, if I need to take a break, because something at work has triggered me emotionally, then, you know, getting up and walking around the block, right, or playing with my dog for a couple of minutes. So it's about having daily practices, as well as emergency practices. 

Kaitlyn 25:38
And what I'm realizing through all the talks I've had when working on this episode is that I'm starting to look at self-care as a toolbox. You have to make your personal toolbox by being in tune with yourself, identify your triggers, and what kind of self-care tools you can pick from for whatever situation you're in. Like, man, I gotta do this myself. 

Amy 25:58
So I wanted to ask more about your experiences, trying to set up boundaries and implement self-care practices, in conjunction with your work and leadership role. Because I know, at least in my experience, that's been so hard to do. Just because the institutions we’re a part of and the broader system, well, they're not really accommodating to taking breaks, or taking time for ourselves. So have you experienced any pushback when you were trying to take care of yourself? And how did you overcome that?

Jess Li 26:28
Yeah, that's a really good question. I think that you know, I have and even in roles as an executive director of nonprofits, I've gotten pushback. And it's really ironic, because, you know, people will tell you to take care of yourself. But then when you try to set boundaries, they're like, “No, you can't do that. We need you to come in on Saturday. Or we need you to take on this extra project, because who else is going to do it, right?” And so it's like a dance of negotiation, right? It's like, you're trying to negotiate something for yourself, and saying, like, yeah, I can show up every Saturday this month. But I'm not going to be able to show up fully energized. And I would rather shift some priorities on my plate so that I can show up in a way that you would like me to so I can show up 100% as my true self.

Amy 27:14
Yeah, for sure. As the executive director of an organization that works with domestic violence survivors, how have you taken steps to create a culture of care where you are? And how do you see this being practiced in activist circles and in the workplaces that you've consulted for?

Jess Li 27:30
We also wrote self-care into our budget line item, so that every single staff got a certain amount of money to spend on self-care. And it didn't really matter what it was spent on as long as it was appropriate. So people sent it on yoga, I think someone else went to the movies with their friends, and someone else got a massage. And so it was, and we just paid them for it. You know, I think that creating a culture of care is really important and making that one of the core values of your organization or your activist circle, or whoever you're in community with. I mean, in terms of like structure changes, you can always put in policies, you can create, like, more vacation days. We put in a policy that said, in addition to vacation and floating holidays, you can have a self-care day, four days a year. And so it was called a self-care day, it was like a vacation day. It was required that you take that self-care day, like you had to take one per quarter. And then other things are, you know, holding each other accountable for self-care, and making that you know, a key component of, of like a performance review. Like I used to think that you know, if I was told by my supervisor, that I didn't take care of myself that that was something to be proud of. But it's actually not. 

Kaitlyn 28:57
I think not taking care of yourself is also a huge part of college culture. Like I know, I viewed it as a badge of honor in college, when I would tell my friends about pulling all-nighters and drinking lots of coffee and Yerba Mate. Like, I finished three finals in one day after an all-nighter and was proud of myself. And now, I just think I was so fucking stupid of myself, like, why did I do that. But this is normalized, and definitely a shared experience. You're trying to figure out the next step and be successful in the eyes of your peers in society. And looking back on my habits and how I was feeling mentally and physically, then I think that mentality of taking care of yourself needs to be addressed and changed.

Amy 29:38
Oh, my God, I relate to that so much. And oftentimes, like, I feel really guilty when I had to say, No, I don't have the capacity to do that. Or I want to take a step back or, you know, I want to take a nap instead of going to this meeting. Because I thought other people would perceive that as weakness. So yeah, I think I think it's really important to start building those cultures, even on like a smaller scale because setting boundaries, saying no and resting, those things are definitely things that we should normalize. And it definitely shouldn't be the norm to always have to work until we burn out. So I wanted to shift the conversation towards what motivated you to pursue your current line of work. And that being helping organizations create cultures of care or begin to prioritize self-care.

Jess Li 30:34
I have seen what's happened to my colleagues in the nonprofit sector who don't practice self-care, on a regular basis. We have so many survivors in the field. And unfortunately, in that field, it's also one of the ones that can have some of the most toxic workplaces. Because when we're working in spaces of trauma, where it's so easy to be triggered by client stories, or you know, we hear the same things over and over again, but we can't seem to see a lot of positive impact happen. And where there's like, no culture of care, and there's no culture of healing, what ends up happening is that we begin to burn out not just physically from the hours of work that we have, but emotionally, mentally, psychologically. And when we take all of that, and we're operating only in a point of burnout, we ended up becoming survivors ourselves. And so because of all of those reasons I was, that's I mean, I was really inspired to to want to help organizations create that culture of care. 

Kaitlyn 31:46
To wrap up our interviews, we ask our guests for some final words of advice for our listeners, starting with Professor nickel, and Professor Yee.

Donna Nicol  31:53  

Asian American Pacific Islander activist's really needs to do is, you know, when I mentioned, you know, changing your thought process. I think one of the most important things is to know that you belong here. And that your work is valuable and necessary as activists. And I think one of the big challenges for Asian American youth in particular, is that you have, you have a series of messages that are coming, you got this onslaught of messages that are coming from different places. So you have family obligations, you have media that's telling you another thing, or excluding the Asian American experience, so you don't see the representation as it should be presented. Then you have the political rhetoric that's coming from the White House that is very, you know, hostile. So you're constantly grappling with all of these sort of things. And it's like, just know that you are important in and of itself without even all the messages around you. And that the work that you do is vital.

Jennifer Yee 33:04
I try not to give messages of don't, but I am going to give one right now. Which is if you find that you're not doing what you want to do or what is expected of you, please don't beat yourself up. Please do not be your worst enemy. Because then you never get away from the voice in your head. That could be what's bringing you down, because we've internalized those messages to ourselves. And so that's the self work of really understanding and perhaps seeking professional counseling to train your brain to have different messages to yourself. And instead of saying, “Oh, my gosh, how could you do that? Again, what's wrong with you?” Right? To “you know, what? You're human”. 

Amy 33:51 
Like Dr. Nicol and Dr. Lee stressed, the work we do is valuable. And it's important to offer compassion and grace to not only others, but also ourselves in the process. For Jess, something she emphasized was ensuring the sustainability of that work,

Jess Li 34:08
You know, if we are working in civic engagement, look at there's so many things, we can do a civic engagement, right? Look at the things that you can do, that you can fit into your lifestyle. I mean, you don't necessarily have to be a poll worker, right, or a poll monitor. But maybe you can get five of your friends to pledge to vote. But you don't have to do everything, like you alone, and I alone are not going to change this entire country. Like we're just not and if we burn out and we become apathetic, the way that I know happens, you know, with young people in our generations, then we're no good to any to anyone else. Because the way that things are happening these days, like they need us to be in this for the long haul, you know, and it is really very much a marathon, we're gonna be doing this work for a very, very long time. And so we have to be okay like for years to come.

Amy 35:00
So to wrap our episode today, we just wanted to leave you with some final thoughts. Thinking that self-care is political and radical and critically thinking about your own self-care can be uncomfortable and weird. But that's just because it's not the norm. And society isn't exactly on self-care’s side. Societal standards and expectations, work against self-care with other people thinking that they own your time and space. So if we can change the culture of self-care in our own spaces, it won't feel so foreign. And self-care doesn't have to be consumeristic or expensive like the media portrays it as, it just has feed your soul. 

Kaitlyn 35:40 
But remember that self-care is not an individual journey or isolated experience. My self-care journey is different from everyone's, but we have a responsibility to support each other. And if your life and work aren't sustainable, your work won't be sustainable. And then how can you do the work you want to do? Before we sign off for real, we wanted to give you the opportunity to start your self-care practice right away. We encourage you to join us as we take a moment for ourselves to reset and recenter if you have the space and time. If not, you can skip ahead or come back to this at another time. Let's take a breath together before you go about the rest of your day. 

Amy 36:20

Begin by sitting in a comfortable position. 

Soften or close your eyes and direct your awareness to your breath. 

Breathing gently and naturally. 

Simply follow the rhythm of your breath.

As you breathe in, feel your stomach and lungs expanding.

As you breathe out, letting go.

Breathing in. 

Feel your body getting fuller. 

Breathing out, letting go of any tension or stress. 

Breathing in feeling alive and awake. 

Breathing out, feeling relaxed and calm. 

On your final breath, lengthen the breath and breathe in and slowly let it go.

Amy and Kaitlyn 37:27 
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of Fresh Off the Vote. Follow us on Instagram at Fresh Off the Vote. You can find us on Spotify, Apple podcasts, and Stitcher we upload every Monday, so stay tuned. You can donate to us on Buy Me a Coffee. Any amount helps and will be greatly appreciated. Thanks again everyone. This is Amy. This is Kaitlyn. And we're signing off.