The power of dancing for social enterprise founder Marjorie Tenchavez

The power of dancing for social enterprise founder Marjorie Tenchavez

When your life revolves around helping other people, it can be easy to forget to look after yourself.

This was true for Marjorie Tenchavez, a leader in social justice and advocate for organisations like Metro Assist Amnesty International Australia. Two years ago, the first-generation Australian decided to settle in Sydney, after years of globe trotting, to begin a social enterprise charity called Welcome Merchant.

With the organisation now thriving, with regular meet-ups, charity events and pop-up markets to promote the food, artwork and craftsmanship of migrants and refugees newly arrived in Australia, Tenchavez has taken some much-needed time back to prioritise her own physical and mental health through dancing.

Below she shares more on her routine and how she juggles the load.

In the morning I…

Usually get up around 7.30am, I don’t have an alarm because of my 2yo tabby cat. She has a very strict body clock and demands to be fed at the exact time every morning (7.30am) I give her a 5-10 minute cuddle (or however long she permits) before she finally starts meowing louder. After feeding her, I make myself a bowl of oats, with raisins & honey. I spend around 15 minutes on Duolingo, trying to learn Spanish. I try not to start work before 8.30am.

My exercise routine includes…

Dancing 3 times a week (a mix of dancehall, Jungle Body & reggaeton) and going to the gym twice a week. Lockdown definitely impacted this but luckily the dance schools switched to remote classes and I always made sure to make time for the classes. Dancing helped my mental health immensely.

My favourite workout is…

Dancing all the way. I (secretly or not so secretly) wish I was a professional dancer!

I find balance in…

Spending time with my partner, our cat, sharing a great meal and a good bottle of wine with friends, going on hikes on weekends, watching films, listening to music and podcasts. My 2 current favourite podcasts are Sounds like a Cult and Jon Ronson’s Things Fell Apart but I always go back to the classics like ABC’s All In The Mind, Radiolab’s Hidden Brain and This is Criminal. I’m a very social person (sometimes to my own detriment) so I’m trying to work on being able to enjoy my own company (my therapist’s advice!) and just do nothing. 

On health, I encourage women to…

Accept that we cannot do it all. Find a good support network. If you can afford it, get into therapy. If exercising is not your thing, that’s ok. There are other ways you can be healthy, play with your pet (if you have one) or just do a boogie around the house.

Come and celebrate Welcome Merchant’s 2nd Birthday and Harmony Week at their Pop-Up Market on Sunday 20th March, at Tortuga Studios in St Peters! There will be around 12 refugee-powered businesses there selling their excellent products. Market entry is $5, with $2 from each ticket donated to the Asylum Seekers Centre. Buy your tickets here!

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