Illustration by Julia Mata
Illustrations by Julia Mata

Invest in Rest

A Black woman in a rested state is a radical act. —The Nap Ministry

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare. —Audre Lorde

I will turn 50 on December 16th. A week later, I begin a two month sabbatical that will be dedicated to resting, dreaming, reading, napping, daydreaming, writing, and just being still for a while. I look forward to this full body and mind reset at my half century mark.  

This year also marks my eighth at the helm of The Laundromat Project where I began as employee number two in fall 2012. Since then, I have been inspired by dozens of Create Change artists, fulfilled the founding vision of a home in Bed-Stuy, and practiced abundance through art, change, and community across New York City. I am now one of 12 staff members and our budget has grown seven-fold. And thus, now is a good time to rest, reflect, and recharge for a moment.

It was with abundance in mind last year that The LP overhauled our employee policies to be more in line with our values, especially those based on love and being people of color (POC) centered. We have a majority POC staff and fundamentally believe that if POC staff are thriving, then everyone thrives. With input from staff and full approval of our board, The LP’s new staff culture guide added policies on professional development, articulated guidelines of inclusion, and instituted a sabbatical policy for all team members, among other changes. Regardless of role, every staff member receives seven weeks of paid sabbatical leave for every seven years worked.

In our POC-centered principles, The LP commits to nurturing leadership. During my time away, the organization will be ably led by Deputy Director Ayesha Williams and Director of Programs Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, with support from Board Chair George Suttles and other board members. We have a collective leadership system that has helped us successfully navigate previous parental and medical leaves. Each of these temporary absences has ultimately led to greater LP strength through useful organizational innovations borne of necessity and circumstance.

And so, for the first several weeks of the new year (bye-bye, 2020!), I aim to be a Black woman at rest. My spouse and I will be spending most of it on the coast of central California on land stewarded by the yak tityu tityu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash Tribe. As the health pandemic narrowed our geographic choices, we decided warm, quiet and beautiful were the most important criteria. While my husband works to strengthen national democracy, I plan to read fiction for the first time in a long while, conduct oral history interviews with family members, and to take frequent naps on the sunny deck of our rental home. I know from past experience that my mind wanders in the most glorious ways when I am at rest. Those free-roaming thoughts will surely inform and deepen my future work at The LP.

I look forward to that and to sharing my reflections when I return in early March — refreshed, recharged, and ready to dive into The LP’s next chapter. I’m so proud to be part of an organization that walks our talk by prioritizing care and renewal for all members of our team. Thanks to Tricia Hersey of the Nap Ministry and ancestors such as Audre Lorde, we understand that rest is essential for the work ahead. Àṣẹ.