Aloe is an app which promises to help you with the basics of self care which is crucial for those who can’t afford constant care or therapy.
In today’s political climate, rife with negativity and hatred, it’s easy to forget to take what one would think are the most basic, mundane steps in caring for ourselves. Often we’re so caught up by what is going on around us that we become disconnected from our own selves and neglect what our bodies need to survive in this world.
We all have days when opening our eyes, breathing, and getting out of bed are the most we can do. Sometimes tasks like brushing our teeth, eating, or drinking a glass of water fall to the wayside because we might be too preoccupied with whatever is going on in our lives.
Developing a proficiency in self care was crucial for my own survival while learning to cope with the trauma after experiencing sexual violence. Learning a regular yoga practice helped me maintain a strong connection between my mind and body, and I learned that listening to my physical self and tending to its needs was what was going to keep me alive in such a mentally and emotionally tumultuous part of my life. Prioritizing my well being helped me overcome the challenges of trauma and now it helps me maintain my activism and advocacy as a feminist woman of color.
When my friend Amber Discko announced her latest project Aloe, I was so excited to see it grow. As the founder of the Femsplain community, Amber has my full confidence and support. Femsplain came to me when I was at my lowest, it was like a lantern that I found while trying to navigate the darkness of trauma, and it helped me find my path to healing. I expect that many people will find Aloe has the same effect.
Aloe is a community that gently educates and reminds users what they need to grow day by day. It began as a sister-project to Femsplain that posted self-care affirmations and reminders, and grew into an interactive, community-based Twitter bot that works like a garden. As of this month, Amber has launched a Kickstarter to develop Aloe into an app that helps users check in with themselves.
The Kickstarter aims to raise the $40,000 it needs to be developed. If it reaches its goal by the end of the month, development starts the week immediately after. The app will enter beta-testing in December — backers will be the testers — and will be launched in January 2018 for iOS users, with an Android version to follow.
Aloe has the potential to positively help people around the world by teaching people how to engage with self care. Amber was kind enough to chat with me a about her project:
Wear Your Voice: What does self-care look like to you?
Amber Discko: To me, self-care is taking care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s making a conscious effort to keep your most personal needs at top of mind. Sometimes that’s making sure you’re drinking enough water and getting enough sleep, or writing down things that make you feel happy or following accounts that make you smile. It’s something we must be always thinking about so that when times get rough we feel better equipped to get through it.
WYV: You’ve mentioned that Aloe was born from your experience working on the Clinton campaign. Why did that experience help you realize the importance of self-care?
AD: I’ve spoken a lot about “Not waiting until everything is awful to take care of yourself” and that’s exactly what I did. It was a very rude awakening. I struggle with anxiety and depression, and the long hours and my exposure to the daily news cycle made it hard to manage my self care. Something I didn’t realize was that I was letting my passion for the campaign destroy the care routines that I had worked so hard to implement before I joined.
Since November 2016, I promised to myself I’d treat myself better. I can’t imagine anyone letting themselves getting as bad as I was. I realized that if I had been better equipped, it wouldn’t have been as hard to get myself back together.
WYV: There have been some pretty nasty reactions to Aloe. Why do you think self care is perceived to be a non-concern by those people?
AD: The short answer is privilege. They have the luxury of not having to worry about things like being able to afford mental health services, or to bear the stresses of today’s world. The response has been overwhelmingly positive though and that makes me hopeful.
WYV: Many people have fallen in love with Aloe since you first launched it. How does it feel to see the community grow? What do you hope people will learn from using it?
AD: It’s really a special feeling to hear people talk about Aloe with such fondness. I never imagined that so many people would find and join so quickly. I’m really glad I can give something special and needed to the Internet. It’s given so much to me. Of course, Aloe isn’t the first or only self-care community, but this app will be the first of its kind. The community is what makes the app so unique because they’ve had such an influence over how the app functions.
My hope is that people will learn how good it can feel when you’re kind to yourself. Self-care is a journey, not a destination.
WYV: What’s been the best part of growing Aloe for you?
AD: The best part always is seeing the interactions on the account. Growing that community is the best part of my day! To know that I’m helping so many people take better care of themselves just by posting, e-mailing, etc. It’s a great feeling. I really can’t wait to spend time learning from the people who use the app.
WYV: Why did you name it Aloe?
AD: All I could think about when thinking of a name were things that soothed or relaxed me. Growing up, my mom would always tell me to put aloe on my skin to soothe the burns I’d get from playing outside too long. The Aloe Vera plant grows very easily — which is another theme I wanted to incorporate. It’s the idea of growing constantly and being able to start fresh and new.
Author Bio: Roslyn is a Filipina-Canadian freelance writer in Toronto. She’s a passionate feminist and advocate against sexual violence, and found her soulmate in her cat. In her spare time, she dances to Britney Spears, and practices hot yoga and hot Pilates. You can find her other pieces on her website, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.