Evan Slash Reed Peterson Is Bringing Us Queer Self-Care Daily

12/15/2018

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Every tweet begins the same way: Evan Slash Reed Peterson tells us what self-care has looked like for them that day. The examples range from staying hydrated to streaming a show to the personal time Peterson spends with their kids. Every tweet also ends the same: “What did [self-care] look like for you?” The call to anyone within reading distance has been repeated on a daily basis for over two years. When asked if they have a name for the practice, Peterson mentions one friend calls it their “Self-Care Ministry.” (“I’m not religious enough to actually want to say that,” Peterson follows.) Whatever you’d like to call the communal exercise, Peterson’s several hundred tweets have made an impact. After a year, Peterson shared their intent to stop. So many people spoke up in protest they chose to continue the posts.

Evan Slash Reed, photo by Evan Slash Reed

I was recently able to speak with Peterson, who along with sending out self-care posts, is one of three editors at Bisexual Books, a bi non-binary activist, and single parent. Here’s what they had to say.

SB: So you’ve got this daily community self-care practice. Where did the idea originate?

The idea originated in two ways. Many years ago, a friend of mine named Elaine Barlow saw me overextending myself with people and took me aside and explained to me that you really have to be able to take care of yourself in order to be able to be there to take care of other people. And that really stuck with me.

On the night of the last presidential election, I had all of these friends gathered around me. As you can imagine, we were exceedingly more doom stricken as the night wore on. The first thing I could think of, in some tiny way, to be there for others was to start sharing my thoughts on my self-care every day and to ask people what they’re doing to take care of themselves. So the tweeting every day came out of a reaction to the election and wanting to hear people.

What have you heard?

I hear a lot of people who don’t think that they do practice self-care. I spend a good amount of time trying to help educate people that self-care isn’t always pampering. I think a lot of people have that notion that if they aren’t going to the spa or buying some giant milkshake, that they aren’t doing self-care. Sometimes all you can do in a day is make sure you got up and ate meals and took your medication or you drank water and do whatever it takes to keep going. That’s still self-care. You have to take care of your body as well as pamper it. Take care of your mind, your spirit, all of those things.

It has been two years now that you’ve been doing these tweets and they’ve been fairly every day, right?

Yes, I’ve missed three days.

What has inspired you to keep going?

Mostly it’s been response from other people. When I would express that maybe people didn’t need me to do this anymore, I got a large amount [of response], even when they don’t respond in person to what I write and put out there, it’s still a part of their daily lives. And the important reminder to them to take care of themselves. So I decided that I would just keep doing it until I stopped, whatever may cause that to happen.

You have this honest vulnerability, this relatability and also this achievability in what you share…like where you said, sometimes it’s just taking your meds. And you also bring in fun. You bring all of that to your messaging. What are a few of your favorite tweets?

I am fond of some of my “I hydrated” posts. I think it sometimes reminds other people as well to just stop and think about whether they’ve done the minor things. I live in northern California, so it’s hot nine months of the year and not everybody remembers to stop and have their water or to eat breakfast because it seemed like everybody has to be on the go all the time.

I’m thinking about my kids. I like playing with my kids and sharing that. And I like being able to, as you mentioned, be vulnerable and I think that there’s a genuine quality to that, if I’m showing every facet of myself that I can, then maybe it’s a little bit more approachable to other people.

Do the daily reminders help you? What do you like about it?

Other than hearing from other people, one of the things I like most about it is sometimes even I will struggle at the end of the day wondering, well, what did I do? And it makes me really think hard about if I did something more than get out of bed, eat, take my medication, walk around the block. I need those reminders, just like I think everybody does sometimes, that I didn’t have Dutch Brothers today but that’s okay because I brushed my teeth.

What does this project mean to you?

It’s important to me to be able to provide service for other people. This is one of the ways that I can do that at anytime, every day I can do at least this. It’s been something in my family for quite a long time to be there for other people. It’s important to me to be able to help other people. And this is one thing I can do, to try to do that every day.

SB Swartz
S.B. Swartz is an author covering inclusive wellness, queer family, and entertainment. As a contributing writer for bi.org, S.B. created the Step Bi Step series for bi parents and originated the This Bi Life series showcasing bi community stories. S.B. has had interviews and essays published at Shondaland, The Establishment, Bust, Ravishly, and more.

Find S.B. Swartz @sbswrites on Twitter, @sbs_writes on Instagram, and read more of her latest at sbswartz.com.