The power of dance for social enterprise founder Marjorie Tenchavez

When your life is all about helping others, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself.

Such was the case with Marjorie Tenchavez, a social justice leader and advocate for organizations such as Metro Assist and Amnesty International Australia. Two years ago, the first-generation Australian decided to move to Sydney, after years of globe-trotting, to start a charitable social enterprise called Welcome Merchant.

With the organization thriving, with regular get-togethers, charity events and pop-up markets to promote the food, artwork and crafts of newly arrived migrants and refugees in Australia, Tenchavez has taken a bit of time to prioritize his own physical and mental health through dance.

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

In the morning I…

I usually wake up around 7:30 am, I don’t have an alarm because of my 2 year old tabby cat. She has a very strict biological clock and asks to be fed at the exact time every morning (7:30 am). I give her a hug for 5-10 minutes (or as long as she allows) before she finally starts meowing louder. After feeding her, I make myself a bowl of oats, with raisins and honey. I spend about 15 minutes on Duolingo, trying to learn Spanish. I try not to start work before 8:30.

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 has definitely had an impact on that, but thankfully dance schools have moved to distance learning and I’ve always made sure to set aside time for lessons. Dancing has helped my mental health tremendously.

My favorite workout is…

Dance until the end. I would like (secretly or not so secretly) to be a professional dancer!

I find a balance in…

Spending time with my companion, our cat, sharing a good meal and a good bottle of wine with friends, hiking on weekends, watching movies, listening to music and podcasts. My 2 current favorite podcasts are Sounds like a Cult and Things Fell Apart by Jon Ronson but I always come 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 try to work so I can enjoy my own company (the advice of my therapist!) and do nothing.

On health, I encourage women to…

Accept that we can’t do it all. Find a good support network. If you can afford it, get therapy. If exercise isn’t your thing, that’s okay. There are other ways to be healthy, play with your pet (if you have one) or just boogie around the house.

Come and celebrate Welcome Merchant’s 2nd anniversary and Harmony Week at their pop-up market on Sunday March 20, at Tortuga Studios in St Peters! There will be around 12 refugee-run businesses selling their excellent products. Admission to the market is $5, with $2 from each ticket donated to the Center for Asylum Seekers. Buy your tickets here!

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