Black Femme Collective calls for creative nonfiction submissions from Black Queer Femme Storytellers engaging in the theme REST.

Rest, Rest, Y’all: A Conversation with Eboné McCloud on Unwinding Intentionally

Jasmine Holmes
Visual Art: Jasmine Holmes

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

A lovely SoCal Sunday with two natural, Black queer femmes—okay! I sit across the couch in the company of an electric soul sister with flourishing, lengthy locs, a double nose ring, and a gray strappy dress in a charmly decorated, Afrocentric apartment full of black, white, and burnt orange hues. Sun rays peek through the window warming our skin. An occasional crunch resounds during our chat from the guac and chips nestled between us. I get the literal and figurative tea with Eboné McCloud, a dope (reiki + akashic records healer), the tea making creator of (@GoodThoughtsTeaCo), and founder of The Ayaba Series- a sacred healing space for women of color. We talk rest as best as two healing, creative Pisces women can. 

What constitutes good rest?

Eboné: For me—being able to sleep through the night. Sometimes I’ll wake up and have so much on my mind that I’m not sleeping well. Being able to sleep through the night, get really comfortable on my pillow, and sink into it, while listening to jazz.  [Sometimes] when I’m asleep, I’ll have pleasant dreams or I’ll feel protected. I qualify good rest by how I wake up. Did I wake up feeling groggy? Did I wake up sad? Sometimes I do, based on stuff in my dreams. For me, good rest is waking up and feeling like, “This day is about to be banging!”

Ideally, how do you prepare for rest?

Eboné: Being intentional about the rest space that I’m creating and keeping in mind stillness. That’s so important, for me, at least, to really be mindful about stillness. That, in itself, can be rest. I prepare by creating boundaries when it comes to work or when it comes to knowing how much energy I can expel. Because of the work that I do—energy healing and creating products—my energy is going to a lot of places, even if I’m not talking to someone. 

I put a do not disturb [filter] on my phone from 10:00 pm-9:00 am. I read a book: All 

the Joy You Can Stand: 101 Sacred Power Principles for Making Joy Real in Your Life by a woman named Debrena Jackson Gandy. She made a statement that [resonated with me] in my twenties when I began my healing path that said something [along the lines of] creating boundaries where people cannot call you, [physically] putting your phone away where there is no access. It stuck with me because she was deliberate about creating boundaries. 

As an entrepreneur,  my intention is to be still and create the boundary. If I want to watch tv, read a book, or take a long shower to prepare for bed —I’m gonna do that. This was a habit I had to learn. Before, rest just looked like, “Girl, get in bed, and then get up and do it again.” Now, I make a cup of tea or have some wine. You know? Or talk to bae. Staying away from the outside world and coming back home to myself. That is being intentional about what that space looks like. 

When was the last time you experienced good rest?

Eboné: Last night! I had a really beautiful conversation with someone and after that conversation, I felt lighter. [Later], I decided to lay down. I didn’t even have the tv on, because I notice that that messes with me and my psyche. I laid, went to sleep,  and when I woke up, I felt inspired, like, “Okay, I can take on the day.” 

I have a practice before going to sleep. I do this before I go to bed: I place both my hands on the ground and I transmute. I say, “I transmute anything that is not mine and I release anything that is not mine,” and I transmute it into the earth. What that does is allow me to release anything. I did that before I went to sleep last night and I slept really well. I got up around the time that I wanted to and I was able to be here- and have a really good energetic day!

Y’all, this next question prompted an“ooh,” sigh, and big tooth smile. Mmmm! Wink!

What does rest look like with family, friends, or your lover?

Eboné: Rest with family, my Mom and close cousins,  looks like being in a space with them. Being free. It looks like taking deep inhales/exhales and just relaxing. That to me is rest. Stepping away from everything that I do in the outside world and being in a space where I can laugh. I don’t really have to think about anything. That’s sacred to me. That’s stillness and rest. That’s what I feel like when I’m at home with my family. Safe. Everything in my body is relaxed. That’s a big thing, feeling relaxed and feeling safe. I feel like now I actually have some type of context for that. 

A friend, a lover?

Eboné: Again, feeling safe. Now,  this is in the sense of if we’re sharing space- sleeping quarters or being in each other’s company, a deep sigh of relief. Being able to be in a space and be silent- that’s major- because it’s still stillness! Your body is resting if you’re allowing yourself to. Your body, your feelings, your mind, your emotional state is at peace. If you’re not overthinking about what to say. Your body’s not in flight or fight, it’s resting. This is how we are together in this space: feeling safe. Those two really go hand-in-hand for me: Do I feel safe enough to be in a space and be my full self? I’m intentional about that. I can be my most rested self when I feel the most safe. 

What are your hacks for rest?

Eboné: The biggest thing for anybody is creating a boundary for your time. That’s a big hack for me. I keep my phone on for my family, my partner, but that’s where I stop. I take a shower, ground-release things. [Then] tea, wine… I love to spray my sheets with good smelling stuff before I go to bed. I love to be so sexy and sensual for myself. I love a good silk nighty – and that’s when I know I’m about to wind it down. Ain’t no more work! Being kind to myself in that way and not needing approval from anyone else. Having good sensations on my body and good smells  awakens my senses before I get into bed or before I decide to wind down for the night. I love getting into my own sacred space after being out in the world. Creating sanctuary. 

What types of teas or blends do you make in service of winding down and resting?

Eboné: Love that! I could talk about tea all day! So, I have a particular blend called Goodnight Moon.  It has ashwagandha root in it. Very helpful for sleep deprivation, anxiety, libido. Chamomile, lavender, rose petals… it’s named for my mom, based on the children’s book, Goodnight Moon. We call each other “Moon”. I have that fairly often to wind down. I find myself so, so at ease when I drink that because of all the combinations of sleepy time herbs. Also, anything herbal depending on what’s in it. I have another blend called Dot, named after my best friend, which has hibiscus, lavender, ginger, lemongrass, and chamomile. That’s also really soothing.  I drink that often, but more so Goodnight Moon. Making a cup of warm tea, not super hot but warm tea,  gives your body permission to calm down.

With a Black Queer femme lens in mind, how does patriarchy, other larger barriers/ built-in oppression affect your rest?

Eboné: My biggest things are not feeling seen and/or heard. It stirs something up in me, in my body emotionally, mentally, and physically at that point. If I find that it is living in my body whenever I leave the actual situation, then I’m not going to be the most well rested. My stillness is affected because I’ve been thinking [of] it.. That’s why being grounded is such an important thing to do before going to bed. Being in space, especially being Black, especially being queer, and being a femme, you’re overlooked so much and it’s disheartening. 

I’ve reached the point where I am no longer looking to apologize for who and what I am and how I show up. When I still feel slighted, I have to deal with that. Now, the Chicago in me wants to be very vocal – but who does it serve? There are times when I do need to be vocal because you will not erase my existence in this space. You won’t erase my existence in this situation. It can affect my rest if I allow it. 

If I do allow it into my space, I’m going to 1) get to the root of it: Why does it make me feel that way? Where is this trigger coming from? More often than not,  it’s always because I didn’t feel seen. 2) I have to speak it or write it to get it out of my body. I sometimes journal or say it aloud [using] a voice note. It’s so important to find a way to leave my actual physical body because [when] we don’t address certain things, it stays in our bodies and creates disease. Then, you really won’t get any rest! My job is to take care of myself, [so I ask myself], “Is this the price I pay [restless] sleep?” 

As your highest self (think manifestations lived, radically you), what would it look like for you to be a well-rested, queer, Black femme?

Eboné:  As a small-business owner and entrepreneur, when I feel like I have money in the bank, my bills are taken care of, my product is stocked— I’m solid! I’m creating my life as I go. And  I’m speaking about the top-of-the-top manifestation. It will look like: having my product out in the world, having my own shop again, travel[ing] to places, sleep[ing] in beautiful spaces with my partner or my family, and  finally be[ing] as stable as I would like. Not having to think about certain things as it relates to finances. Eating well and listening to really beautiful music. Conversing with really beautiful people and having experiences that only I could experience if and when I’m completely open. Being divinely in love. Life is fucking crazy—with myself and my chosen person. [My highest self] feels like freedom. It feels like coming home to myself in my own body, looking at someone who is my mirror who feels the same way about me. Being in a space where I can be silent and not have to worry about conversation. That’s stillness and rest for me. We create everything that we wish to see, be, and do. [A well-rested, queer, Black femme is] metaphysical in every sense of the word. 

Jasmine Holmes
Jasmine Holmes, BFA, MFA, is an artist who creates drawings through a variety of media. With subtle line work and minimalistic approach to color theory, she creates work that invokes feelings of uneasiness within the viewer. These works are inspired by consumerist culture and its appetite for devouring the colored body. With an emphasis on the Black figure she draws from social constructs, such as race, class, and creed, in order to bring forth an image that both disturbs the viewer and procures contemplation. Her artworks are often about personal contact with Eurocentrism and its effects on the marginalized psyche. The human figure is the centerpiece, taking up space and showcasing a performance of multilayered hyper-visibility within spaces that often marginalize them.

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