The Gero-Punk Salon on Self-Care gave us the opportunity to reflect with others on our programmed ideas of how we take care of ourselves. Thoughts swirled around the room as people began to discuss the complex ways self-care can LOOK (Netflix marathon, cleaning, playing), FEEL (frustrating, freeing) and SOUND (negative self-talk, kind words from close friends).
Here is a collage of images and words from some of the participants which capture the rich complexity of a Gero-Punk perspective on self-care.
–Dana Rae Parker, with Jenny Sasser
Spending time with other brilliant minds talking about self-care was a very nourishing act. My two favorite take-away: Thinking more about my self-partnership. Asking myself the questions: So? What if?
He, She, We, They, The
Gero-Punk a diverse group
Play, discern chatter
Jenny asked Susie, “What does PBJ stand for?” Susie says,
“PBJ is a closing salutation that arrived in my thoughts one day and made me smile because while it came in as Peace, Blessings, Joy; it of course could also mean peanut butter and jam. So that it came in as the initials meaning the first, one could infer the other. Both good food and very nourishing for my inner child. It is silly and quizzical, I don’t use it often, but love when it dares to find its way to out to entice play.”
–art by Dana Rae
William, a seasoned Gero-Punk Salon attendee, shares that the first Salon of the 2016 season was, “a meeting of the minds and hearts.” William’s main takeaways being “wisdom remembrance as an antidote to wisdom amnesia, and partnering with those who inspire me to self-affirm my joyous heart as an antidote to the self-dishonoring narratives I spin in my head. Thank you…for facilitating the reminders and the inspiration.”
As people shared their stories on how we distinguish and consume messages of self-care, more questions emerged from our Gero-Punk-inspired minds.
Lulu offers us some of these questions and in turn honest advice for guilt-free self-love:
Yesterday I attended my first Gero-Punk Salon…I got the chance to unpack and take in meaningful and powerful conversation with a group of amazing people.
We discussed the idea of self-care:
What does that mean? What does it look like? How can we practice it, and, for me, come away without feeling guilty?
We live in a society that holds an iron fist to productivity. We are often made to feel lazy, distracted, un-focused etc. for choosing to take time for ourselves. My take away from yesterday’s conversation, my new mantra, is to always practice maintaining my authenticity. This is the best way I can care for myself. Own who I am, and CELEBRATE who I am, without guilt or burden. We are constantly changing, always evolving. I should give myself more freedom for fluidity and let go of some of the restraints that I have internalized. Be kind to myself. By taking care of myself, I can, in turn, better care for others. I think it’s safe to say I’m officially converted into the Gero-Punk frame of mind. I can’t wait to see where the journey takes us.
Emily is an undergraduate student focusing on Gerontology. She works at the Continuing Care Retirement Community next door to her university. She offered the following:
Getting together with the Gero-Punks is always a good time. The diversity of the group could not be better made. We took the simplest topic of self-care and blew it up… Sure, we can exercise, eat right, and do what society tells us is self-care, but does that really help everyone? It was pleasant to hear I am not alone when I say I struggle to meet these expectations. We each had our own idea of self-care. What an extremely rewarding concept to come across in a world full of cookie cutter solutions to help heal one-self. I walked away knowing that I can take care of myself as a really young old person, I just have to listen to what my inner child needs.
Do I need an ice cream or a nap?
Maybe I need to clean my room to feel a little more at peace with my cluttered mind. Or I could just be too much of a hermit in need of a good laugh with a friend. Every situation is different; self-care is not an easy task when we don’t understand how it works, but If we think a little outside the box we will find just what we need to do to make everything just a little better. That being said, I look forward to my next life lesson from the Gero-Punk project.
Keeping up with our developing authenticity through our travels through life calls for focused energy. How do we maintain this internal dialogue, while conversing with our daily activities, partnerships and obligations? There is not a one-size-fits-all self-care package, as Emily alludes and in her realization there is individual freedom. This freedom is outside of our capitalistic culture, which pushes us towards costly and competitive self- care strategies and products. This freedom to live outside of mainstream messages of self-worth and care offers a path outside of linear time. We can travel through time and ask what we needed in the past to feel loved, how we currently nurture our dreams and body in order to be happy and well in the future.
The words of these contributors and attendees of the Gero-Punk Salon have taught me that we all hold the power to move magically through time and observe our aging journey as individuals and collectively in a radically different way.
Will you join us in this journey? Will you join yourself in this journey?
Dana Rae Parker is a Mississippi Gulf Coast native with 10 years on Northwest soil. They enjoy watching the magic of nature and water creatures on their houseboat on the Columbia River. Dana-Rae enjoys laughter, curiosity, art, magic, and internal / collective revolution on the soul level!
LuLu McCoskey is a recently graduated gero-punk who spends her time combating ageism and doing her part to change the world one day and person at a time. She enjoys spending time with her family, getting lost in the woods, creating art and spoiling her favorite cat, Sylvie.
Laura Jones is a musician, single mother, social activist and recent graduate of Marylhurst University. She spends her work and volunteer time networking, community organizing and providing social support to a wide variety of people. Her most recent act of social activism is writing about radical compassion. Being a Gero-punk helps to inform her life, mindset and interactions through a positive anarchist lens.
Emily may seem like the quiet type, but don’t let that fool you. She loves to challenge society’s idea of the aging process. She likes to refer to herself as a “young-old person.” Emily enjoys nature walks, snuggling with her fur-babies, and jamming out in her car to her favorite music.