Welcome to Refinery29’s Feel Good Diaries, where we chronicle the physical and mental wellness routines of women today, their costs, and whether or not these self-care rituals actually make you feel good.
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Today: A woman spends her time going for daily walks, working out at the gym, and treating herself to a Monday cookie.
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Occupation: Licensed behavior specialist
Editor’s Note: This diary was written in October 2022.
7:15 a.m. — I’m an early riser. I wake up every morning and say five to 10 things I’m grateful for, and I thanked the universe this morning for allowing me to take a deep breath. I always say that gratitude fuels your joy, and naming what you’re grateful for in the morning is a good practice. It also allows me to just lay in bed for a few minutes before jumping to my feet and reminding myself that I do not live in scarcity, I live in abundance.
8:30 a.m. — I go on a mile walk and grab an iced caramel macchiato from a nearby Starbucks — my daily morning drink. But first, I hydrate. I have a rule: hydrate before I caffeinate. $6
11 a.m. — I then head out to my community garden. I have been in a cohort with other Black femmes to learn how to live off the land using the principles in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. We are an Earthseed Skillshare. The Earthseed Skillshare is a month-long training series that highlights many of the themes and skills present in the novel. Earthseed, a community in Butler’s novel, focuses on survival, spirituality, mutual aid, and rebuilding and reshaping their relationships to each other and Mama Earth. They practice and emphasize the importance of agriculture, carpentry, education, and community support. During the Earthseed Skillshare, we cover five topics: The history of Black people’s relationship to land, safety and self-defense, gardening and growing, building and rebuilding, and land-based living. They advertised for Black femmes to apply to be part of their next cohort, so I applied and was accepted.
Today’s session is on harvesting and putting the bed to rest. We work in teams of two to harvest the food that grew this season, and we’re able to take that food home. At the end of the session, we go to get pizza at a nearby place that prioritizes hiring formerly incarcerated people. I order a plain cheese pizza and pay for myself. $11
Daily Total: $17
6 a.m. — Another day, another walk. I’m on day 995 of daily walking, and it’s also World Mental Health Day. While I’m walking, I think a lot about how, in the Black community, we have come a long way in identifying the ways in which we hurt. We call things by their proper name. When I was growing up, I remember many of the Black people in my community who always talked about having “bad nerves,” when in fact it was anxiety. We had no name for it. We have names for things now.
11:30 a.m. — For lunch, I take a brisk walk and order a fish wrap. I go into work every day from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Since I work in the mental health space, I try to create times during the work schedule where I can leave the building for a few minutes to recenter myself. $13
3 p.m. — When work is over, I take myself to Crumbl Cookies. Getting a cookie every Monday after work has become a weekly treat. It gives me something to look forward to. The menu changes every week, but today I get a square French toast cookie. $5
Daily Total: $18
4 p.m. — Work is over, and I am resting. I try to either lay down or read after work each day. It allows me to come back to myself. I am reading Women Talk Money: Breaking the Taboo edited by Rebecca Walker. I love reading books where women aren’t always talking about love and relationships. We think about a lot of other beautiful things.
6 p.m. — I go to my local gym for a water aerobics class and wear a pretty bright pink bathing suit. I feel weightless in the water — not just with physical weight, but just light from any and everything that is attaching itself to my body trying to hold me down. I pay $50 a month for my membership.
I have been going to water aerobics since November 2011, and I go to the gym about three to four days a week. I take classes like spin, body pump, and Zumba.
8:15 p.m. — After my workout, I go and grab curry udon noodles from a local ramen spot. I go out to eat around four times a week. $17
Daily Total: $17
7:50 a.m. — After my morning walk, I record my weekly Wellness Wednesday video. Every Wednesday, I make a video to offer some gentle reminders to help people live well and post it on Instagram. Today, I discuss the importance of not expecting things from people that you are not willing to give to yourself.
7:30 p.m. — I pick my friend A. up to see the documentary Chasing Trane, which is about the great John Coltrane. It was good. I am a light Coltrane fan — I own “A Love Supreme” on vinyl. But there was so much that I didn’t know about Coltrane. I didn’t realize that he fought a heroin addiction on his own, knowing that if he did, he would become the greatest version of himself. I also wasn’t aware that he died at the young age of 40. That was a good reminder to me that everything that we are supposed to be doing should be done in the now. I paid for both of our tickets. $20
10 p.m. — After the film, A. and I are hungry, so we get fried cheesesteak dumplings that are a dollar each. I got six. $6
Daily Total: $26
8:10 a.m. — I pick up my usual Starbucks after my walk and before I start work. It’s nice, going to pick up your drink and having the barista know your name. It’s like the Cheers theme song: “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” $6
6 p.m. — I head to a hip-hop aerobics class at my gym. As a plus-size woman, it’s so important to take up space in my fitness classes and to celebrate my body alongside all of the other bodies in class.
9 p.m. — After I work out, I like to soak my body, and so I light candles and run a steaming hot Dr. Teal’s Melatonin bubble bath. I put on one of my favorite meditations by Lauren Ash, called Self-Compassion.
Daily Total: $6
6:30 a.m. — It’s the 999th day in a row of me walking. I can’t believe I’m so close to being done. Nine is such a special and divine number, as it means completion — and I am almost there. I’m an Aries. I have a competitive nature, but mostly with myself. I set out to walk 1000 days in a row to give myself a challenge and to document it to see if I could complete it. I started walking with Girltrek, the largest health and wellness organization for Black women by Black women, and they gave me this blueprint of walking everyday for at least 30 minutes. While it was difficult at first, because I hated walking as a form of movement. Over time, I built up the habit of walking three days a week, then five days, and now I walk every day.
2:30 p.m. — I started my work week with Crumbl Cookies, and I decide to end my work week with hand-dipped ice cream. It’s the little rituals that I plant into my week that I lovingly look forward to. I got a double scoop of milk chocolate and vanilla on a hand-made waffle cone. $10
6:30 p.m. — I get dressed to go have dim sum with my friends A., K., and N. Good friends are so important for my mental health. Just being able to surround yourself with people you love and admire is magical. We collectively ordered beef lo mein, chicken dumplings, fried chicken wings, and hot and spicy soup. It was delicious. We each paid $26 dollars. $26
Daily Total: $36
8:10 a.m. — I meet my goal. It’s my 1000th day of walking. This is what I wrote on my Instagram post, under a picture of myself joy jumping today after the walk: “My life is holy. My spirit is god-filled. My soul is beautiful.”
1 p.m. — I meet my best friend T. and her three beautiful daughters at the park. While the children play, my friend and I play catch up on our lives. There’s a flea market going on that’s selling food, so I buy a beef sausage off the grill for my friend and me. $10
8:30 p.m. — I’m at home laying on my bed and texting this new queer cutie that I met. Serotonin-fill: free. I’m grateful.
Daily Total: $10
Weekly Total: $130
Reflection: The daily walking has made the biggest impact on my wellness routine. It has allowed me to build mental muscle and consistency to continue to motivate me in life. The most negative has been the access to all of the sugary pleasurable things that I overindulge in at times.
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