During these unprecedented times it’s important to dance in the rain and maintain your self-care routine.
Meet Rev. Dr. Theresa S. Thames, a theologian, Girl Trekker, and self-care advocate.
We got to chat with Theresa about balancing it all.
Lukafit: We’re sitting down with Theresa. Her self love began in a yoga studio 11 years ago. She was the only Black person in the studio, as well as the only person with curves. But Theresa knew she needed yoga to help her connect with her body, so she kept showing up and making space for herself. On January 11, 2020, she took the first step in making yoga accessible and inclusive for healing, self-love, and radical freedom.
Dr. Theresa, self-love is a journey and looks different for every woman. How would you define self-love and most importantly, how do you show yourself love?
Theresa: The late great Toni Morrison wrote in Beloved “You your own best thing, Sethe. You are.” I truly believe that I am worthy of good love, compassion, and grace so I give those things to myself.
My self-love looks like giving myself permission to feel all of the feels, to invest in my mental health, take luxurious vacations, cook and eat fresh foods, take naps, indulge in pleasure, and spend quality time with the people I love. My self-love also looks like establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries that keep me free.
Lukafit: Indulging in life’s simple pleasures, eating fresh and clean, and maintaining healthy boundaries are pillars of self-love, but can sometimes be a challenge to achieve. So what keeps you motivated during your journey of self-love and discovery?
Theresa: First, my personal testimony of how I made it this far in my life through the blessings and burdens. Second, are the amazingly dope people in my life who inspire and motivate me to be my best self. I truly believe that “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17). And third, I am motivated by a sense of commitment to my community.
Lukafit: Personal testimonies and amazingly dope people? We get it! Please share more about your commitment to community as a motivation? What do you mean by that?
Theresa: I am who I am today because of my family and community. They have helped me to see all of me, and not be ashamed. My journey to self-love has been redemptive because I have been loved so abundantly in my life by so many people. I also had to learn that family and community comes in many varieties; I had to be willing to let that love into my life. We are not meant to be in this world alone.
Lukafit: Yaaaasss! Lukafit is absolutely founded on sisterhood and community. We vibe together, we move together, and lift each other. How did you plug into your local health and wellness community?
Theresa: I am a proud member of GirlTrek. I am so thankful for the life, vision, and dare I say ministry, of Vanessa Garrison and T. Morgan Dixon, the founders of GirlTrek. I entered a Facebook competition, sponsored by GirlTrek, and won a t-shirt. When they learned that I was a pastor, they invited me to lead a prayer at one of their first national events.
That event literally changed my life and I began walking 30 minutes a day. GirlTrek connected the power of walking to the revolutionary power of Black women in history who literally walked to freedom. Seven years later, and I still walk nearly every single day.
Lukafit: What a sweet moment it was for you when GirlTrek invited you to lead a prayer at one of thier first national events! Leading and inspiring other Black women is such a calling and refuge. Who are some Black women that inspire you?
Theresa: Every black woman inspires me — saying this with a handclap emphasizing each word. It is impossible for me to narrow it down to just one Black woman. When I think about the plight of Black women in this country, and across the diaspora, I am moved to tears. You can’t outdo us no matter how hard you try. Black women are literally EVERYTHING!
Lukafit: We stand by that entire statement with you Dr. Theresa. As we prepare to wrap this up, what’s the mantra that gets you through your days?
Theresa: “Get free and stay free. Your freedom also means being willing to disappoint other people.”
Lukafit: Of course! Love that. Thank you so much for sitting down with us Dr. Theresa. Your life is so inspiring, grand, and free.
Read Theresa’s Story
Rev. Dr. Theresa S. Thames is the Associate Dean of Religious Life and the Chapel at Princeton University and the founder of Soul Joy Yoga LLC, an in-person and online gathering that centers womxn and folx of color, inviting them to bring their full divine selves to the mat and tap into radical joy.
Dr. Theresa is passionate about the intersections of theology and social justice in the work of freedom. She is a challenging preacher, thoughtful theologian, registered yoga teacher, GirlTrek trekker, and devoted friend. Most importantly, Dr. Theresa is a lover of life and music who prioritizes self-care, quality time with her husband and dog, and believes that radical joy is resistance.