Why We Need Intersectional Wellness: Meet Almila Kakinc-Dodd

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It’s easy to be inspired by Almila Kakinc-Dodd.

She alchemized a challenging, formative upbringing into an impressive list of studies and accomplishments, a brightly optimistic outlook and warm presence, and a deep dedication to making the world a better place. Her flourishing content platform The Thirlby is dedicated to "Redefining Wellness for the Common Good" - a mission that is music to our ears here at Holisticism.

Almila is an individual we deeply admire and while the sky's the limit for her, we are so grateful she has turned her energies toward making our world a more inclusive, safe, welcoming, and healthy place. And with that, please meet Almila!

meet almila

Sun, Moon, and Rising Signs: 

Sun shining like an opal gem in Virgo, Moon cocooned in Taurus, and hopes Rising in Libra

Ideal lunch as a 5-year-old: 

Green beans in olive oil or fish sandwich from a fishing boat on the straits of Bosphorus, in my hometown of Istanbul

Ideal lunch today: 

The seasons would change my answer to this, but for the Summer is a big ol’ salad with fixins’ from our local Baltimore farmer’s market: bouquet of kale that I shred with a gardener’s scissors; pyramids of beets; fire raisins, a variety that are plumper than the regular; and non-market add-ins of sprouted almonds, dulse, avocado, and a jalapeño-cilantro dressing.

A book, podcast, movie or song that has meaning to you: 

This is an operose question as I’m a podcast aficionado and read as often as I can. My all-time favourite podcasts include Still Processing, This American Life, and Hidden Brain. I studied Literature as part of my college major, so books are even more difficult to pick but include The Bluest Eye by the great Toni Morrison, And Our Faces, My Heart, As Brief As Photos by the late John Berger, and various works by James Baldwin of which I collect first editions. I could watch Citizen Kane many a time and recently thoroughly enjoyed Pelo Malo. My heavy record rotation includes Blood Orange.

work and mission

How does your background influence your present outlook? 

I experienced a significant amount of trauma: I was shipped here alone with my sister at respective ages of 10 and 8-years-old then raised by my dedicated single mum; suffered from Anorexia as a result for a decade plus then diagnosed with autoimmune illness; and was targeted by Border Patrol and abused by its system. Being a mixed immigrant queer-identifying womxn has also informed much of that experience, placing at times an insurmountable burden. My health suffered as a consequence. Persevering through these experiences with the support I have drives me towards serving other marginalised folks in accessible health and wellness. 

How do we make wellness more accessible to more people right now? 

The answer to this is so multi-dimensional as health is a socioeconomic and political determinants. We need incorporation not just “diversity”: hiring, paying, and providing a platform for marginalised voices, from Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour, immigrants, and to LGBTQAI2S+.

It’s in getting politically active, and I don’t mean that as ~*rEpOsTiNg*~ on social media. Read up on candidates for 2020, even if you can’t vote like I can’t; canvass for platforms or people you care about, like Medicare for All; and be involved in issues grassroots, which include opportunities in-person and online. Great initiatives include one I am passionate about like Immigrants’ Rights Coalition of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) or the Sunrise Movement for climate justice.

Where in you life can you do more? Less? 

I can be more decisive and consequently less of a nitpick. As a *~Virgo~* I am an overachiever and perfectionist to a T. Psychiatrist Dr. Alex Lickerman wrote in Psychology Today back in the day on the importance of recognising his coined inflection point: “at which our continuing to rework our work reaches a law of diminishing returns.” He added that “overworking something is as bad as failing to polish it” and it truly resonated with me. Now I try to strive towards finding that point before that of tipping, of a fine rather than perfect feeling.

What brings you joy + pleasure? 

Providing care for marginalised people as a nurse-in-training at Johns Hopkins University. Baltimore is a powerful community that has been and still is profoundly underserved, especially in its maternal mortality rates for Black womxn (an issue across the country). Hopkins has a programme that allows us to train as doulas to assist in healthy births. The privilege of attending this school, as a minority immigrant and for fellow minority folks, brings me inexplicable joy.

self-care as an entrepreneur

How do you practice Self Respect? 

An age-old therapist practise in Eating Disorder recovery—I’ve battled with Anorexia for over a decade—is looking at a baby photo of yourself when you’re thinking self-deprecating thoughts. It immediately pulls me into remember the worth and respect we are instilled with upon birth, how I would never be able to mutter those to my younger self unburdened by societal restrictions, norms, and complexes.

Where are you growing right now, or looking for a guide?

Being a student with a mission of service in medicine, volunteering, and handling a media platform of The Thirlby is a lot on my plate. Add to that being caught and restricted by the current immigration system, I feel the toll it takes on my psyche. I’m certainly always growing but looking to do so more in the arena of our platform so that I can more easefully serve the oft-underserved community that which is us and powers us.

What would you like each person who crosses your path to leave feeling? 

At home. I was stripped of that for so long along with my identity, and cultivating that for myself and others at The Thirlby with a sense of community is unparalleled joy. 

Meet Almila Kakinc-Dodd of The Thirlby
Meet Almila Kakinc-Dodd of The Thirlby
Meet Almila Kakinc-Dodd of The Thirlby
Meet Almila Kakinc-Dodd of The Thirlby
Meet Almila Kakinc-Dodd of The Thirlby

words by leah schiros 〰️ @leahschiros