I entered my thirties on the cusp of the COVID pandemic. To say it has been tough is an understatement. It seems my friends and others in my generation are all dealing with some sort of existential crisis. Self-care, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy are a launch pad turned building blocks we’re left standing on while sorting through our realities.
I don’t know if it was ‘Divine Intervention’ or simply a coincidence when the book “Let’s Mix It Up Sis” materialized in my sphere. But it was proof to me that even amidst our challenges, differences, and complexities we are never truly alone. I talked with the author, Darnisha Day, and quickly learned she is a bonafide 90’s fanatic who uses her interests and experiences to share healing insights with women of color over food, laughter and dashes of authenticity. ‘Let’s Mix It Up Sis’ is a short read that outlines popular meal recipes the Philadelphia native grew up loving and flavored with her own wellness twist. What makes this book unique is its blend of wellness recipes. Instead of using food in her recipes, Day builds cookbook dishes using self-care ingredients and instructions, seasoned with short inspirational stories.
Day says home-cooked food connects her to her healing and loved ones. This realization occurred to her when family members and friends noticed her interest in self-care and complimented the growth they saw in her. Day had become more open, transparent and willing to connect with others in ways she had seemed guarded against before. Eventually, she decided to write a nontraditional cookbook with simple yet emotionally tasty self-care recipes to help other people heal.
“I didn’t know the name or definition of self-care. I just knew I was doing things I liked that helped me, and I wanted to share them in the book,” said Day.
She popped up on my screen one early Sunday morning wearing a baseball cap and a smile that could light up any room. We met years ago as children volunteering together on a yearly Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service project. We hadn’t seen each other in more than a decade but felt like old friends reconnecting as if no time had passed. She reminded me of the women I grew up with. Day showed up authentically – a Black girl from Philly who is committed to showing her sisters that simply being yourself is good enough.
As a Black woman from North Philadelphia, I’m familiar with the pressures some of us face when trying to fit into predominantly white environments. I grew up owning my voice but as I navigated the modeling industry and business, I quickly realized that my intellect was only visible to others when I watered myself down and utilized my ‘interview voice’. Day’s commitment to being authentic is inspiring.
She wrote “Mix It Up Sis” for girls and women like her.
The insightful millennial wants to encourage women – especially mothers in her generation, to create space for healing in ways that feel authentic.
“You know within our community, women are often overlooked while men are commonly seen as prized possessions. Even on TikTok, a social barometer of sorts, young Black and Brown women post stories detailing their experiences of being treated unfairly by their mothers, while their brothers were treated like kings.” Day stressed the importance of a need for healing between mothers and daughters in our community. She hopes her book offers recipes for taking steps in that direction.
THE PANDEMIC SPARKED HER COOKBOOK
In 2020, as the world experienced a global pandemic that forced us all into quarantine, Day used the time to look within for healing. Life before COVID afforded her the opportunity to ignore her emotions and run from herself. But while isolated, she was pushed into her own darkness. Trouble in a love relationship forced her to see the parts of herself that needed healing. Day explained how guarded and surface-level she was before the pandemic and before meeting a guy who appeared to have been her ‘mirror.’
As the first-born of four siblings, Day naturally took on a leadership role. She recalls pushing her feelings to the side as a means of survival, and never really sitting with herself long enough to get to know her “higher self.” For most of her life, Day lived in survival mode. This prevented her from falling in love and navigating emotions in a healthy way. When heartbreak came, she was lost in her emotions and couldn’t find a way out. Yet, instead of succumbing to darkness, Day decided to search for meaning. She hired a therapist who helped her put things in perspective and encouraged her to define healing for herself.
Day calls her healing journey Black joy. “Black joy is a thing, but I don’t feel like it’s talked about enough. Within our community, we constantly talk about stress, but I think we need to also have conversations about Black joy and resources at our dinner tables,” she explained during our chat. “I think we need to reprogram ourselves, focus less on stress, and find our own depictions of Black joy.”
Self-care is Day’s remedy for navigating her healing journey and her life and offers it as a suggested remedy for others. So far, her self-care involves doing more of what she enjoys, trying new things, and therapy. She gushed about plans to travel and be more intentional about enjoying life. She has several solo trips planned this year, and has already taken her first – a long train ride to The Windy City aka Chicago.
As a consumer of all things surrounding wellness, I love reading books like Day’s that are flavored with the experiences of people of color. It’s inspiring to see Black writers creating space to share knowledge about healing.
While Darnisha Day loves all of her recipes, her favorite is “Self-Care Cotton Candy”. Maybe you’ll try it sometime.
Self-Care Cotton Candy
Serves 1998 / Prep: 20 mins / Cook: 10 mins / Total: 30 mins
Five Cups of Nostalgia
One and One-Third cups of 90’s music
Four Drops of Summer Colors
One Cup of Family
Some Fun Sticks
Let’s Mix It Up Sis!