Pause & Reflect: Taking Time For Yourself and Your Community


Anti-racist work requires compassion, urgency and resilience. This kind of processing and learning can be demanding and requires an ongoing commitment. Checking in with your neighbors and with yourself are two practices which enable sustainable activism. We acknowledge the physical and emotional toll of fighting oppression and processing injustice. We would like to offer a few artful connections to inspire listening and reflecting, as well as ways to supplement your self-care practice. We hope that these moments of reflection and connection can re-energize you as you pursue your own personal commitment to create a more just world.


How do we acknowledge complexity and adversity in our lives and in our community with our little ones?

Inspired by the mindfulness displayed in the Hayagriva Mandala, this book recommendation encourages kids to slow down and take a breath. Learning to be reflective, to fix mistakes, heal hurt feelings and love one another is crucial, especially when everything feels, as the author says, “topsy turvy”.

portrait of a woman with four other family members at Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem
Jordan Casteel, Sylvia's (Taniedra, Kendra, Dedelia, Crizette, De'Sean), 2018. Oil on canvas; 90 x 78 in.Purchased with Funds from CultureHaus, a support group of the Denver Art Museum, Burgess Services, Maude B. Lofton M.D., Robert F. Smith Family, Tina Walls, and other donors. © Jordan Casteel.


As Denver-born painter Jordan Casteel has said in talking about her process, "Being an empathetic observer in the world will always be valuable, whatever your practice may be." This lesson spark draws from Casteel’s artistic process about slowing down to observe ourselves and our community with empathy. We encourage you to take time to create space for a meaningful discussion about how we are seen and represented, in the world and in art. This brief creative activity will give you a peek into the artist’s process as well as guiding questions for a discussion.

Learn about the Tibetan Hayagriva Mandala and then take a moment to create some mental space and recharge with this mandala-inspired coloring activity. Clear your mind and focus on the present as you color in the design, or use the quiet time to have a focused discussion or meditation. A calm and centered mind will help you continue to challenge injustice.

Sam Gillam, Abacus Sliding, 1977
Sam Gilliam, Abacus Sliding, 1977. Paint. 90 in. X 118 in. Denver Art Museum; Funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the United Bank of Denver, 1978.10


What does self-care and community well-being look like? Intentionally caring for ourselves can bring balance, focus, and compassion to our roles within our communities and families. As a result, a strong self-care practice can help us persevere through the necessary anti-racist work ahead.

In this video, artist Roxanne Swentzell discusses her work The Things I Have To Do To Maintain Myself, which emphasizes how we take care of ourselves. How do you take care of yourself? Download this journal entry inspired by the painting Abacus Sliding to help reflect us on, as artist Sam Gilliam says the “inner landscape” of our community.