This is the second in a two-part series on holistic leadership written by Shauna-Lee Ruglass. You can read the articles in any order.
November 2021: It’s been a dope experience to be part of the American Express Social Justice Social Justice Leadership Academy, reflecting on my journey. I want to share with you how I’m finding space to pursue my dream.
As an Aquarius, I’m already in 2024 (IYKYK*), but I often return to something I wrote in 2021, when I applied to the Academy:
It is my dream to leverage this leadership development opportunity to expand my network, amplify my platform so that I can continue to share the poor health outcomes of BIPOC women in leadership positions. I would also like to maximize this this moment and time in history to lean into collective efforts, collaborate with others to create the spaces, communities, and partnerships with likeminded companies: Peloton, Calm App, NBA/WNBA, and Nap Ministry what’s up?!
Where people can come together and normalize difficult discussions, prioritize wellness, and communal care. Because high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes are impacting women that look like me at an alarming rate, and these chronic (and preventable) diseases can lead to heart disease, which is killing black women 2x faster than our White, Latinx, and Asian counterparts. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African American women annually and 49% of African American women ages 20 and older currently have heart diseases, but lack the resources, access, and mindset to gain support.
There is a critical need for these types of discussions. I know they are already happening across many of our teams or organizations, and in many of the networks that I’m a part of—but there is also an opportunity here to develop more communities of practice (for us, by us), that I and so many leaders of color are ready to step in, create, and lead. We just need the resources, funding, mentorship, networks, and professional development support to sustain these efforts, coupled with the tools necessary to thrive: mindfulness, stress management, and radical self-care, because “caring for myself is not an act of self-indulgence, it’s an act of self-preservation,” as Audre Lorde says.
“Caring for myself is not an act of self-indulgence, it’s an act of self-preservation.”
- Audre Lorde
That is why I’m dedicating this next chapter (however many years long) of my leadership journey to wellness. As THE GOAT Jay-Z says, “you can’t heal what you don’t reveal.”
I want to create spaces where I can encourage individuals, organizations, and communities (especially those closest to the margins) to reveal those deeply rooted conditions of white supremacy institutionalized in the culture, or past hurts, and trauma—and, once informed, prioritize wellness, encourage rest, and pour into those who need to hear and be reminded (women of color) that they too deserve ease, joy, access, opportunity, and an abundance of success. You are worthy.
In 2021, fresh off my 39th Bornday and my son’s 16th (he’s an Aquarius too), I was feeling angry, and tired of all things associated with the triple pandemics of COVID, social unrest, and economic uncertainty.
I was on the verge of burnout again.
This time, instead of getting another tattoo or cutting my hair off, I leaned into my sisterhood and the spirit of my grandmother (who transitioned to the other side at 91 last year during the pandemic) and dreamed up a solution of wellness resources, programs, and coaching My sisters and I created Adyna Wellness, LLC: a boutique wellness company named after our grandmother, that provides wellness services designed to empower individuals to achieve a more balanced, harmonious, and healthier lifestyle.
I never thought that creating safe, brave, and supportive (trustworthy) spaces where BIPOC women leaders can heal, develop tools to thrive, and prioritize wellness was possible before now. I hope that I am making my ancestors proud. I think I like who I’m becoming. I know we all need the opportunity to live into our full potential as people and as leaders.
“My health, the way I feel when I wake up in the morning, my peace of mind, the number of times I smile, what I’m feeding my mind and my body—those are the things that I’ve been focusing on. Mental health is self-care too.”
–Beyoncé, Harper’s Bazaar, 2021
*IYKYK: If you know you know 😊
Please note, LeaderStories is not in any way affiliated with Adyna Wellness and does not endorse any commercial products or services.
Share this: Is it time we started treating #leadingwell as a legitimate issue of life or death, especially for leaders of color? Shauna-Lee Ruglass shares data & reflections on #wellness: leaderstories.org/leadernotes-blog/health-wellness-leadership-2