Avoiding burnout and keeping ourselves replenished doesn’t just mean taking a break when it all gets too much. It’s our duty as change makers to take care of ourselves and honour our own wellbeing every day – so that we can root our work in practices that help us thrive. It’s the only way we can make sure the change we want to see is one that we can sustain over the long term.
Today, we’re delighted to be talking to Desiree Adaway about her wellbeing practices and how they support her work.
Desiree holds a vision for people’s lives, workplaces and communities until they can hold it for themselves. She has over 20 years experience creating, leading and managing international, multicultural teams through major organizational changes in over 40 countries. She’s designed and administered more than 150 global programs and led one of the largest humanitarian grants programs in the country.
As Principal at The Adaway Group, she helps teams immerse deeply in the personal and organizational work required to build inclusive and equitable cultures.
Tell us about your change making work
I’m here so that you and I can get free.
I’m a consultant, trainer, coach and speaker building resilient, equitable, and inclusive communities and organizations. I’m the founder of The Adaway Group, a Black woman owned consulting firm empowering anti-oppressive and justice focused leaders to cultivate rich, meaningful organizational structures across race, gender, class, sexuality, and disability.
I thrive in helping folks (both individuals and organizations) have difficult conversations, I call the thing the thing, and in that help folks free themselves from what’s holding them back.
Where do you do your change making work?
Mostly I work from home when I’m not traveling to work onsite with a client.
What does a typical day consist of for you?
Every morning I wake up, make coffee and write my daily Facebook “Dear Sister (not just cis-ter)” post – words of encouragement and accountability to the women in my world. Then I spend the day doing client or teaching based work, being on calls, leading workshops or trainings –every day is a bit different.
Who are your inspirations, and why?
I am inspired by activist, writers and artists. Frontline folks. Past and modern day- Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, James Baldwin, Mona Eltahawy, Junot Diaz, to name a few.
I adore them because they all use their gifts to heal. To heal individuals, communities and ultimately the world.
Who supports your work?
I believe that liberatory community is at the center of change work, and it’s a requirement in getting the nourishment you need to do social justice work full-time.
I have an incredible community of folks that support me and my work – some of them online, some that I talk to every day via text or phone, some that I see regularly in person. I am also deeply engaged in my community here in Asheville, and that both supports and fuels my work.
What are the signs that tell you when it’s time to take a step back and recharge?
I’ve learned that what looks or feels like laziness is actually exhaustion 9 times out of 10. So when I feel that sense of inaction settling in I know it’s time to rest, body and soul. Ultimately, taking the time you need to recharge makes you more creative and productive in the long run.
How do you build breaks or chances to replenish into your day?
If I am being honest I do not do this nearly enough. I have started working 4 -day work weeks in the summer months as a way to have more time for family, art and creativity.
If you have a whole day off, how do you recharge?
I am sitting in the sun…reading and enjoying stillness. I rarely get to be still, my brain is always on go.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Do not apologize for your power. Do not apologize for your strength. Do not apologize for being empowered. Do not apologize for empowering others. There is no need to explain or justify your life. Do not wait to be praised or validated by others. You are ready in every moment to own your brilliance.
Where do you see your work in ten years time?
I love my work, in ten years I want to be doing what I’m doing now but being of service on a larger scale, hopefully reaching more people, more communities.
Over to you…
Desiree’s morning encouragement post sets the tone for her day and connects her to the community she serves – do you have a similar practice? Does offering encouragement and support to others fill you up? Or is that something you’d like to bring more of into your day? Let us know in the comments.
If you’d like support around building up your own wellbeing practices to sustain the impact of your work long term, find out more about working with me as an individual or hiring me to work with your organisation here.
Spread the word!
We believe taking care of ourselves is the only way to create lasting change, avoid burnout, and have the impact we’re capable of. So sharing our practices and making replenishing ourselves a normal part of how we think about our work is vital! Feel free use the buttons below to share this post on social media, and raise our Change Making Voices together. Thank you!