Practicing Self Care: Three Lessons from Cookie Johnson’s Book Believing In Magic

Aside from caring for your partner, part of being in a healthy relationship is also caring for yourself. It is subscribing to the idea that your health and well-being are just as important as that of your partner. No one understands health, self care, and love better than Cookie Johnson.

Believing in Magic is the story of Cookie Johnson, the wife of the famous Earvin “Magic” Johnson. It details their relationship and how she has both endured and thrived as Magic’s wife. Cookie discusses how their relationship foundation was first a friendship. From the very beginning, being the partner of Magic Johnson was never an easy task. Through a series of tests and trials of their relationship, which existed long before his HIV diagnosis, she gained strength through her faith and relationship with God.

One aspect of the book that was concerning was Cookie’s willingness to take Magic back after he repeatedly broke off their engagements. I couldn’t help but be concerned with the false impression of love and commitment it would have on young women readers. Though she admittedly moved on and dated during the off-seasons of their relationship, I was worried that young women will see this as a green light to wait for men who have little to no intentions on returning. My concerns were put to rest as I finished I finished the book.

I traveled from Dallas, TX to Chicago, IL to attend a book signing for Believing In Magic. During the question and answer portion at a book signing, I had the opportunity to gain clarity. “What would you tell a woman who is in a relationship that is challenging? When should she stay, or when should she go?” Cookie answered confidently, “I would never tell someone when they should leave their relationship. However, when they find themselves becoming someone that they do not want to be, then they should consider making different choices.”

The fact that Earvin was a pro basketball player at the height of his career and needed to focus during the season, played a part in his reluctance to commit to a long-term relationship. My own advice to any woman who is considering waiting for a man as he decides whether to commit, don’t. Move on and start your life. Strengthen yourself for a destiny that is suited for you. Cultivate an emotionally healthy environment, one in which you are loved and wanted. That’s what Cookie did. After yet another broken engagement, she poured herself into her career and built herself up through her relationship with God. I learned three key things about self-care and relationships after reading her book:

  1. A long-lasting relationship is built on simplicity (“and true friendship”). From the beginning of their courtship, Earvin (Magic) and Cookie enjoyed doing simple things together like talking about their daily musings and eating their favorite foods while relaxing together. She was always his home base; safe and welcoming.
  2. Developing a relationship with God is the one thing that keeps you when the storms of life are raging. Cookie discussed the importance of deepening her relationship with God. During one of their breakups, she was intentional about building herself up by attending weekly bible studies. She was so focused on God that she was unable to focus on the pain of the break up.
  3. Have fun. Despite the challenges of building a life together under difficult circumstances, it is apparent that Magic and Cookie still enjoy their family life and continue to spend time together through social events and philanthropic opportunities.

Five weeks before his diagnosis, Cookie and Magic finally married. Twenty-five years ago, as she supported Magic on the day he held the press conference to disclose his HIV status, she was dressed in white and determined to stand tall. However, Cookie Johnson had yet to tell her story, and the impact that the diagnosis had on her personally. She fully achieved telling her story through her book Believing in Magic. She embodied the spirit of living by making sure she also took care of her own needs. Cookie Johnson embodies the spirit of living and is a testament of love and self-care. Her story is one that women all over the world can learn from and be strengthened by.