Hi there! I’m Kelsey Nihiser (she/her), a new Program Manager at 1N5 that started in June 2022. My background is in arts education, community engagement, a passion for interior and floral design (and lots of plants!), and a love of human connection (often via food). I’m happy to be here today to talk about what caring for myself looks like across these realms, and how I often find balance via human connection. Self-care is especially important during big life changes, like the professional transition I’ve been navigating in my role here since leaving the Art Academy. Sidenote: yes, the word “self-care” is overused, but I’m not here to tell you that buying a bath bomb is going to fix your life. What’s often lost in the use of the word “self-care” is that we are all part of a larger community. Striving daily for wellness across many categories, maybe bath bombs included, maybe not, is a personal and collective practice! So, back to my point, making a big transition and redefining my everyday schedule is discombobulating to say the least, and I have definitely leaned on the people (and pups!) in my life that keep me connected to who I am beyond my professional role. A key piece of this? Inviting people over.
I purchased my first home in May 2021; it’s a cute craftsman bungalow in Westwood. Since moving in, painting nearly every room, and buying some essential furniture for having guests, I’ve also hosted a couple housewarming parties, plant swaps, Thanksgiving for my family, plenty of dinners, brunches and casual hangouts (example: an annual cake picnic aka “cake-nic”). There is a restorative power in gathering people- it connects you to others over amazing dishes, sends you on winding, deep conversations, keeps you up way too late laughing until your stomach hurts, AND it can also connect you more deeply with yourself. It’s a creative and generous expression- thinking about guests and how they can bring meaning, planning a menu that all can enjoy, even picking out serving dishes and mapping out spaces at home brings me joy. I deserve a couple of nerd emojis here, but I sometimes even pull out post-it notes to plan which food item will go in each serving dish. While I would love to be someone who always has the time and resources to make several delicious courses from scratch (sometimes I am!), sometimes that menu includes frozen pizza snacks and pre-made dips. It might not always feel Pinterest perfect, despite my best sticky note efforts, but there’s always a lovely spread of food and incredible human connection.
One of my favorite things about having people over is when they leave (HA!). My home is suddenly quiet, I can pour myself a nightcap (bourbon with one ice cube), and clean up the dishes in a state of peace and gratitude for the gathering we all experienced. While I could panic or go snooze (and let those dishes crust overnight), this time of quiet amidst the chaos serves as my moment to reflect on the night. The magic of human connection, even in a simple, small, or spontaneous gathering, is one of my favorite ways to care for myself and care for my people.
I invite you to initiate some type of gathering for your immediate community, focusing on some good snacks and amazing guests to contribute to the experience. Don’t fret over making it picture perfect, don’t hesitate on grabbing some Pizza Rolls for the spread, and see where the moment of connection takes you. Priya Parker says it perfectly in The Art of Gathering:
“Gatherings crackle and flourish when real thought goes into them, when structure is baked into them, and when a host has the curiosity, willingness, and generosity of spirit to try.”