Here at Peak and Valley, we have been interested in topics surrounding self-care/wellness. The term ‘self-care’ specifically is starting to become an overused buzzword in marketing and news outlets. Separating out what self-care means for you personally means ignoring a lot of marketing jargon and messaging. We all have to remember that self- care doesn't have to be expensive or exclusive. Given that, we have an interview series where we ask people what self care and wellness means to them.
Provide a short introduction explaining who you are.
My name is Mackenzie Richmond. I am a plant-based private chef, soon-to-be holistic nutritionist, and Los Angeles native. I am an advocate for inclusive and all-encompassing health and wellness. My platform is an amalgamation of a photo journal, an open community, and a food blog. I focus on utilizing my resources to share colorful, resonant, and educational content with those who stop by my virtual doorstep!
How do you define self-care?
I think and speak about self-care often. My definition is non-exhaustive. I believe self-care to be the action (or actions) that directly nourishes the soul. I think this branches over to the way- and I’ll speak in terms of myself here - that I take care of my body and my mind. This includes the language I use to speak to myself and the small acts of kindness that I show myself daily to acknowledge the love I have for the inner and outer me. Some days self-care can be defined by a three-mile walk around the neighborhood, or a verdant juice I take the time to prepare. Other days it’s the permission that I give myself to watch back-to-back movies and eat popcorn in bed.
But self-care is not derived solely from actions that I take for myself, I think it should be coupled with care for friends, family, and community. Self-care, like the term “wellness”, should be comprehensive and span over a bigger picture. It is cyclical.
While speaking of self-care, I think it’s important to touch on the actuality of its birth. The origins of the term self-care are incredibly revolutionary. Self-care came into focus with the Civil Rights Movement and was deemed to be not only an absolute necessity for the systemically oppressed and marginalized, but also a powerful political act. Acts of self-preservation were and are utilized to restore, nourish, and fortify communities to continue the effort for social justice.
While I find true enjoyment from delicately applying a homemade face mask, I think it’s valuable to remember that acts of kindness for others in the community can lift my soul up just as much as it can theirs.
What does a typical morning look like for you?
I recently came to the conclusion that I really benefit from a routine. During quarantine, I have focused diligently on making sure my routine begins first thing in the morning. I wake up at 7:30 most days, and make my bed first thing. I grab my robe, stumble into my kitchen, click on the electric kettle, and chug a large glass of water. While the water boils in my kettle, I head to the bathroom to splash some cold water on my face, rub some oil on my skin with gentle massage-like motions, and brush my teeth. Then I head back to the kitchen to craft up my matcha, aka my favorite part of the entire day. I put presence into my morning rituals, and keep my phone in its special corner (near my front door and away from where I can thoughtlessly grab it) until I have my tea and meditate or read a book for a while. Sometimes I journal, sometimes I go for a run or a walk, it just depends on how I am feeling. Allowing myself the tender time to wake up slowly and stay intentional with my mornings sets my day up to be just as mindful.
When you’re feeling off-balance/stressed, what do you do?
I think the feeling of being on or off balance is a constant! There are days that can feel so in flow, so in balance, so zen, that can then be followed by an event or a moment that can deeply disrupt those feelings. I have anxieties, I get nervous energy, and sometimes I get so overwhelmed that I cry for hours on end. That being said, when I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I try to collect and grab myself (both literally and figuratively) and take a moment to do a body scan. This can be in the form of a meditation, pin-pointing every part of my body mentally and sitting with what each inch of me is feeling, or quite literally running my hands along my body and becoming present with my own touches. I remind myself that it’s okay not to be okay, and I will repeat this sentiment as a mantra at times!
Once I get back to the present moment, I’ll set time aside to focus on cooking a nourishing meal (the kitchen is medicine for my soul!), or take a hot shower, or go on a walk to clear my head, or call a friend to externalize my thoughts - staying intentional no matter what feels right in the moment. I listen to my heart, and do what feels necessary and accessible!
Do you have any bedtime rituals that help you sleep well?
My number one step in my bedtime ritual is putting my phone away in her corner at least two hours before I plan on getting to sleep. This has been life-changing! I find that I sleep so much more deeply without my phone in my room, and I am SO much more present while winding down. I also try to use this same rule for Netflix or screen time, and my body and mind are much more relaxed and ready for bed when I stay stimulant-free prior to bedtime.
How do you define beauty?
I value this question so much because beauty is at the forefront of the conversation around self-care and wellness! We are constantly being bombarded with media and advertisements surrounding “beauty” and what society’s idea of it is. “Use this cream to have soft skin”, “do this workout class to have toned arms”, etc.
To me, beauty has absolutely nothing to do with what you put on your skin, or how you eat, or what yoga studio you go to. Beauty is the kindness, the effervescence that pours out of your heart. Beauty is the way you interact with the world around you and the way the sun hits your teeth when you smile! The most beautiful people are confident, comfortable, and joyous in their soul and their existence.
What is your philosophy around wellness?
My philosophy around wellness is pretty similar to my definition of self-care. I feel that these “buzzwords” are inextricably linked. To me, it’s making choices for yourself, and the community by proxy, that bring about that feeling of being “in-fine-fettle”, or being structurally and functionally harmonious. It is a constant balance and a consistent practice - wellness. As I mentioned above, my philosophy is that wellness is an umbrella term. Wellness is the ability and the choice to eat vibrant, nutritional foods, and then the utilization of accessibility and privilege to share the health and wealth. Wellness is removing yourself from toxic environments, and then aiding others to do the same. Wellness is gratitude. Wellness is picking up trash while walking on the beach. Wellness is caring for yourself so that you can care for your community, and then you and your community can care for the world! It starts with the individual, but then spreads quickly to the bigger reason why we love to “wellness”. Because it feels good to be well, making positive choices and taking action for ourselves and then the world around us is one of the best feelings there is.
I live in Northwest Arkansas - I specifically call out the region because it’s a distinct part of the state, unlike the rest. I love it here - it gives me the progressive nature of a larger city with the comfort of community. There’s still opportunity for growth and change, so I’m happy to be a resident who can play a part in its future.