By Genesis Barazza

Finding the right words to describe the human experience post COVID is difficult.

Increased gravity at home, as Dr. Marcus Lorenzo Penn put it, is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Millions of people across the world, including our very own Tamara, have found themselves face to face with the life threatening virus that overtook the public sphere within days. 

How is it possible that many of us still expect our minds, bodies, and spirits to continue business as usual?

Led by Marcus of Self Care Reform Wellness and Board Member Tamara and guided by our six ingredients of conversations as always, eight of us have come together to explore the topic:

Self care reform. 

Many of the practices that Ouida, Elia, Marcus and the group shared – slowing down, taking inspiration from all ages, bonding with nature, yoga, gentleness, and breathwork –  are already part of my goals but not my everyday life. 

I know all too well what it’s like to spend a three day weekend relaxing, only to return to work, have one too many projects on my plate, and completely lose my grasp on the self care routine that is perfectly bulleted out in my journal. 

I was grateful Heidi asked Marcus, “How can we sustain awareness and our self care practices?” as Heidi has been working on incorporating self care and healthy habits into her life. 

Find who can hold us when we can’t hold ourselves.” Marcus replied as he emphasized having an accountability partner to support each other. 

Of course we’ve lost steam after living socially distanced for over a year. I find myself relying on the earth’s persistent care for me now more than ever. 

For one, I just recently learned that if you get sunlight in the morning, the retinas in your eyes will produce the melatonin you need to fall asleep that night. As Josefa spoke up to share this fun fact with the group, I was comforted by the fact that she’d probably seen the same TikTok video I had. 

It’s no coincidence that the Earth and our bodies are in a reciprocal relationship. We are not meant to take care of ourselves in a vacuum, we are meant to take care of ourselves with the earth for the earth. 

Over his studies, Marcus has reimagined an approach to self care that pledges to acknowledge that we are always in the company of our body, mind, and soul.

“I am empowered through my body.”


“I am empowered through my mind.”

“And I am healed through my spirit.”

By affirming every facet of ourselves and prescribing ourselves to respond proportionally to our current state of mind and energy levels we may find our bodies grateful for the newfound unconditional love. 

Everything happened in phases. After getting over everything [ a COVID diagnosis and recovery], I felt a feeling of extreme gratitude and gratefulness, an indescribable happy feeling that I  had never felt before in my life.


As our conversation draws to a close, Marcus, now Dr. Marcus Lorenzo Penn, shares that he is now a full time faculty member at Oakland’s Samuel Merritt University. 

From his favorite event, Celebrating Diversity and Advocacy, to our first conversation via Zoom on Building Peace From Where We Are, our community has had so many learnings together over the years.

Today, Marcus leaves us with a joint pledge:

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