What Does ‘Wellness’ Even Mean These Days?: Women Who Travel Podcast

Nichole S. Gehr

LA: Shanika, you mentioned your grandmother, and also kind of being raised to acknowledge Sundays as a day of rest, which is really interesting to me. Because I feel, obviously, every family has its own attitude towards wellness. As well as it being something you discover in your own adult life. Were there any wellness practices that you grew up with or that you saw women in your family practice that you’ve suddenly, as you got older, thought, huh, maybe I want to weave that into my own life?

SH: I would have to start with my grandma. I mean, for folks who follow me on social media, I definitely have showcased her. I think she’s, as I’ve kind of come into my own womanhood and adulthood, become just such a solid person in my life. And some of the things that I can recall from a child just observing her is the simplicity in her skincare routine: Noxema and Ponds, two drugstore things, that’s all she’s ever used ever. And with the upswing of beauty and 25-step skincare routines, after kind of breaking through all that noise, I found that, hey, you just need to kind of get cleanser, toner, moisturizer, SPF, like you’re good.

I would also say, farm-to-table for what it’s worth, but being of West Indian descent, growing your own food and having that available to you and putting that on the plate is something that I approach in my own wellness. I try to eat as seasonally as possible. I think being in New York City, we have the farmer’s market. So kind of understanding how that works for me and my body.

And then, yeah Lale, to your point, SDA, they observe Saturday as the Sabbath. But just having that uninterrupted time where it’s like, hey, from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Friday night, I actually try and reserve to not really go out and just wait until Saturday. So just recognizing how that feels super holistic and balanced for myself in adulthood.

MC: Evelyn, how about you?

EE: Yeah. So I guess to the point of these family traditions that have been passed down or that you’ve witnessed, I displayed that in a really big way after giving birth. So growing up, I actually did not know that it was called a cuarentena, which translates to quarantine in Spanish. But I knew that after a woman gives birth, all the women in the family come to support her, whether that’s making food, just doing everything that they can do to make sure that all she’s worrying about is learning how to breastfeed or tending to the baby. Everything else is taken care of. You know, the house is being cleaned. Food is being made, all of that. So after I gave birth to Isla, I tapped into this ancestral practice really in a way that I had never seen before.

So I really committed to it. I stayed in bed, in my room for those 40 days. And there’s three floors in my house. So I did not go down a flight of stairs until a month after I had given birth to her. I took it really seriously. Because after you give birth, you have a wound the size of a plate, and we don’t talk about those things enough. And you know, the importance of rest, and the importance of taking care of yourself, and placing that spotlight on yourself and your own care. Because if you’re good, if you’re functioning at your best, your baby is inherently going to be functioning at their best as well. So, I think this last year with the pandemic, with being pregnant, having all of these experiences, it was definitely a sort of return to home in that sense.

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