Affirmations for Race Based Trauma

Racial trauma refers to the mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias, ethnic discrimination, racism, and hate crimes. Since the murder of George Floyd and the protest that followed (BTW, guilty on all three counts #hallejuah) social scientists have provided insight on how racial trauma affects BIPOC. It’s a trauma that we […]

Affirmations for Race Based Trauma

I tried to find the words to express a little of how I am feeling this evening and once I read this young woman’s post, it sums it up very well. Thank you for your voice. Peace ✌🏾

Just Be

I have realized during this global pandemic, you don’t always have to do things. Or achieve things. You don’t always have to spend your free time productively. You don’t have to create that knitting project in one night, complete a DIY project in art or attend every Zumba class online.

Sometimes..you can just be..and feel things and get through and survive. Indulge in some Almond Milk and chocolate chip cookies and thats more than enough.

Embrace Ambition Summit 2020

There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise

Happy International Womens’ Day! We celebrate the collective achievements and progress women create every day in the world. Thursday, March 5th, 2020 at Jazz@Lincoln Center, I had the awesome opportunity to attend this years’ #EmbraceAmbition summit. The Embrace Ambition initiative was started by the Tory Burch Foundation in 2017 and aims to address the double standard that exists around ambition, which is often seen as a compliment for men and a critique of women. It is a one-day event that’s focused on overcoming the negative attitudes about ambition in women and addressing other harmful stereotypes that impact gender, race, and sexuality. Visionary leaders in Hollywood, business, science, entrepreneurship, and youth movements take the stage along with performances meant to inspire and empower. You must apply for a chance to attend the summit with an online application and essay about your own experience with embracing ambition. I was excited to receive an email that my essay had been chosen and I was invited!

Ms. Claudette Colvin & Ms. Michelle Norris

In one of the morning sessions, Michelle Norris, whose a contributing columnist for The Washington Post and Civil Rights Activist, Ms. Claudette Colvin had a discussion about her story and the changes she has seen in America in the last 65 years. In 1955, she was the first woman of color to refuse to move to the back of the bus for a white person in Montgomery, Alabama, and was promptly arrested. It wasn’t until nearly nine months later that Rosa Parks did the same thing and became the face of the movement.

Diane Von Furstenberg & Jason Bolden

In another session, Fashion Icon Diane Von Furstenberg talks with Celebrity stylist Jason Bolden about being “In Charge”: owning who we are, own imperfections and it will become your asset. Once you are comfortable with yourself, any relationship, business or personal, is a plus and not a must. There is an ambition guidebook for those who are interested in having a written plan for their goals/ dreams. http://www.toryburchfoundation.org/resources/growth/ambition-guidebook/

I’ve met some amazing women like Nicole Aandahl during lunch. http://www.healthynailproject.com. Nicole and I talked about the stigma associated with mental health and her personal battle with nail biting. She has created a blog and tools to help others with the same struggles she has faced. Audrey Washington is a personal finance coach, speaker and author at http://www.fiercelyfinancial.com. She offers one on one coaching programs, financial empowerment master class, and info on employee financial education programs. Ariane, a native of Jamaica, has an interest in Fashion design, we talked about inclusion in the fashion industry and she expressed some ideas for a line she wants to get started.

During breaks, attendees had time to snap photos, exchange business cards and grab refreshments. At the cocktail hour, after the event, many of us decided to recap the day and continue to share stories. At one point, some of the speakers joined us at various tables and I had a chance to talk with big wave surfer Bianca Valenti. Awesome vibe and I was impressed with all of her success in the surfing world. https://www.bigwavebianca.com/

Bianca Valenti is a professional big wave surfer in San Francisco.

Grammy nominated British Singer/Songwriter Yola Wade gave an amazing live performance of one of her hits ” It Ain’t Easier”. Before the song, she briefly talked about her struggles within the music industry and how colorism has played a major part in her journey. I have to admit, this was the highlight of the day for me. Beautiful voice and I, along with several others were captivated by her wonderful sound. Have to add, she’s dope on guitar as well!

Yola Wade

Tory Burch, who is the CEO and founder, has often shied away from the word ambition. It was often a harmful stereotype along with being known as a “feminist”. She says ” Feminism has often been misinterpreted. It’s not about disliking men, it’s about equal rights for women.” I agree with her statement but I also feel like we have made some significant progress over the years. Always room for improvement but working together and having a genuine dialogue, it can be done. I encourage anyone whose interested in the summit to apply early and be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster. Thought-provoking & inspiring, #Embrace Ambition is more than a mantra for women of today. It is a call to action and a commitment to being your best self and in turn empowering others to do the same.

Everything is possible. Your dreams, your ideas. Your vision. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.

You are Worth it!

You might think that you don’t matter in this world…

But because of you, someone has a favorite mug to drink their tea out of each morning that you bought them. Someone hears a song on the radio and it reminds them of you. Someone has read a book you recommended to them and gotten lost in its pages. Someone’s remembered a joke you told them and smiled to themselves on the bus.

Never think you don’t have an impact. Your fingerprints can’t be wiped away from the little marks of kindness that you’ve left behind.

Tinybuddha.com

The Garden – Rush

In this one of many possible worlds, all for the best, or some bizarre test?
It is what it is – and whatever
Time is still the infinite jest

The arrow flies when you dream, the hours tick away – the cells tick away
The Watchmaker keeps to his schemes
The hours tick away – they tick away

The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect
So hard to earn, so easily burned
In the fullness of time
A garden to nurture and protect

In the rise and the set of the sun
‘Til the stars go spinning – spinning ’round the night
It is what it is – and forever
Each moment a memory in flight

The arrow flies while you breathe, the hours tick away – the cells tick away
The Watchmaker has time up his sleeve
The hours tick away – they tick away

The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect
The way you live, the gifts that you give
In the fullness of time
It’s the only return that you expect

The future disappears into memory
With only a moment between
Forever dwells in that moment
Hope is what remains to be seen

Songwriters: GEDDY LEE, ALEX LIFESON, NEIL ELWOOD PEART
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, OLE MEDIA MANAGEMENT LP

Still I Rise- Dr. Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994)

Distress Tolerance- Radical Acceptance

Sometimes you may run into an issue that is simply out of your control. It can be easy to think “This isn’t fair” or ” I shouldn’t have this problem”, even though those ways of thinking only make the matter worse.

Radical acceptance refers to a healthier way of thinking during these situations. Instead of focusing on how you would like something to be different, you will recognize and accept the problem or situation as it is. Remember, accepting is not the same thing as condoning something.

Learning to accept the problems that are out of your control will lead to less anxiety, anger, and sadness when dealing with them. It is about saying Yes to life as it is. Let’s say that you find out you were not selected for a job where you felt that you were the best candidate. Typical thinking would be ” This isn’t fair-I did everything right! I was the best one for the position. They can’t do this to me”. When you start to use radical acceptance your response would be similar to “It’s frustrating that I didn’t get the job, but I accept that they felt someone else would be a better fit.” This is not to say that choosing this method makes it any easier but it will save you the added emotional stress in the long run.

It’s difficult to accept what you don’t want to be true, but it is more difficult to not accept. Not accepting things as they are brings on more suffering. Accepting doesn’t mean agreeing. No one wants to experience pain, sadness, disappointment or loss. These experiences are almost always a part of life. Replacing “why is this happening to me?” with “what is this trying to teach me?” is a game changer. You may build upon the emotion with your thoughts and create more drama by attempting to avoid how things truly are. The great thing about this is you can immediately stop by choosing to practice acceptance. So many people may choose to avoid and we all know how this can turn out: gambling, drinking, drugs, overworking, overeating or not eating at all and the list goes on. Either one of us has been there or knows someone who struggles with any of these destructive behaviors. It is important to point out that while it may be some short term relief , usually it will diminish your ability to feel joy in the long-term.

Radical acceptance is a skill that requires practice and life gives us so many opportunities where we can choose to accept certain circumstances. If you’re running late to pick up your child from school , it can be easy to get upset with the ongoing traffic and feel like nothing ever goes right. The reality is that with a phone call to the administration, you can feel secure in knowing that your child will be supervised and you are on your way. From problems that can be solved to more intense ones like death of a loved one, there are ways to cope and change your perception of how you choose to deal with it. A place to begin is by centering your thoughts and your breathing. Give yourself the room to feel these emotions, let them come up and allow them to pass. Accept all that you are feeling while telling yourself you can get through this. I find that the phrase ” It is what it is” has always helped me to realize a better way of thinking about change, pain, loss etc. The next step is an option or solution for the matter if possible. I admit, it takes lots of practice but it is about accepting reality, and then you can start to change and/or heal. It’s about using your energy to accept and be able to move on.

Linehan, M.M. (2014). DBT Skills Training Manual, Second Edition. New York: Guilford Press

Black Gold

Hold your head as high as you can
High enough to see who you are, little man
Life sometimes is cold and cruel
Baby no one else will tell you so remember that

You are black gold, black gold
You are black gold

Now maybe no one else has ever told you so
But you’re golden, baby
Black gold with a diamond soul

Think of all the strength you have in you
From the blood you carry within you
Ancient men, powerful men
Builders of civilization

They’ll be folks hell bent on putting you down
Don’t get burned (don’t get burned)
Not necessarily everyone will know your worth

Think of all the strength you have in you
From the blood you carry within you
Ancient men, powerful men
Built us a civilization
Think of all the strength you have in you
Powerful, powerful men
Builders of civilization

Hold your head as high as you can
High enough to see who you are, little man
Life sometimes is cold and cruel
Baby no one else will tell you so remember that

You are black gold, black gold
You are black gold

Think of all the strength you have in you
From the blood you carry within you
Ancient men, powerful men
Builders of civilization
Think of all the strength you have in you
Ancient men, powerful men
Builders of civilization

Hold your head as high as you can
High enough to see who you are, little man
Life sometimes is cold and cruel
Baby no one else will tell you so remember that

You are black gold, black gold
You are black gold

You are black gold, black gold
You are black gold

You are black gold, black gold
You are black gold

You are black gold, black gold
You are black gold

Hold your head as high as you can
High enough to see who you are, little man
Life sometimes is cold and cruel
Baby no one else will tell you so remember that

You are black gold, black gold
You are black gold
You are
You are
You are
Hold your head up
Don’t give up
You are black gold
You are
You are
Black gold

Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson

Love Is Strong; Love Lives On

There is no right or wrong way to grieve a loss and coping can be challenging. At the moment, I am experiencing sadness due to the loss of a few people over a period of time. It was unexpected and gone too soon. Just when I think I was making some progress about one dear friend, I heard news about another special person to me. I have never been one to attend funerals, wakes and the like. I tend to shy away from social gatherings and deal with my emotions. In this case, I decided to attend one and pay my respects. I didn’t stay long at all. It was what I could handle at the time. Experiencing grief is a natural response to loss. Something or someone you love is taken away and we go through these feelings from shock, disbelief, anger, guilt and so on. For some people the pain of grief makes it difficult to sleep, eat or even think straight. Often, the pain of loss can be overwhelming. There are various forms of grief, from losing a loved one to losing a job, retirement or even loss of a friendship. Subtle losses can trigger a sense of grief as well. Whatever type of loss, it’s personal to you so don’t feel ashamed about how you may feel and the stages of grief you find yourself going through. The grieving process is a totally individual experience. It takes time but there are healthy ways to assist you with what you are going through. Don’t beat up on yourself, don’t resort to labeling yourself either. Don’t allow anyone else to do the same either. If you encounter others who want to call you “crazy” or “weak” etc, understand that there is insecurity within. There isn’t anything wrong with feeling bouts of sadness, crying or even feeling like you have no appetite. With time, those symptoms will subside and you can get back into your daily routine. Remember that healing happens gradually so try not to put a time frame or rush through the process. Accept the emotions as they come. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months, for others it may take up to a year or even longer. It’s important to be patient with yourself. Trying to ignore the pain will only make it worse in the long run. You have to face it and make an effort to deal with it.

Many have been taught that you have to be strong during a time of loss. This may mean not expressing natural emotions or putting on a brave front. There is nothing to prove to anyone. Crying truly doesn’t mean you are weak. It is a natural way to relieve all of the stress that has been built up within. In the same hand, just because a person doesn’t cry, it does not mean that they are not hurting deeply, they may have another way of showing it. When you are ready to move on with your life it doesn’t mean that you are forgetting. It just means that you are able to cope with it better and hold on to the memories. Actually, as we move on through life, these memories can become a really important part of whom we are. “Time and space “is what a close friend of mine told me yesterday and it made perfect sense.

Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you only and it may be a great idea to seek support face-to-face. Talking to someone about what you’re feeling can be an immense relief. There is always professional therapy for those that feel like they do not want to talk to family/friends but if you can start with someone close, try. You may find out that it is helping them also. Acknowledge the pain and accept that it can set off many different emotions. It can be a roller coaster in the truest sense, with its highs and lows. The key is not to isolate yourself. If you feel any of these emotions such as feeling like life isn’t worth living, wish you had died with your loved one, blame yourself for the loss or failing to prevent it and:or feeling numb or disconnected for more than a few weeks, reach out. Unable to perform your normal daily activities is a major one and at that point you should seek out professional mental health help. When just left untreated it can lead to emotional damage, life-threatening problems, even suicide.

Text HOME to 741741 to speak to a trained counselor. Check out https://www.griefshare.org/findagroup

The sadness of losing someone you love never goes away completely, but it shouldn’t remain center stage. With these resources and seeking out help, you can learn how to cope and lead a productive life with the memory of your loved one still remaining strong in your heart and mind.

Sleep in Peace Shae Waterman & Ky Swails