7 Questions: Thriving

It’s May! Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

So, this is the first post (I believe) where I start off with the 7 Questions. Given EVERYTHING that is going on around us, the idea of healing and thriving have been center-stage for me. I asked Yolanda the “thriving” question during our conversation (Timestamp 7:26 – 11:03) and now I am digging deeper. I would love for you to dig deep with me and ask yourself these questions:

  1. How do I define “Thriving?” Do I know what thriving is for myself? Others? 
  2. Have I ever seen people thriving, i.e. do I recognize what thriving looks like (No, not InstaThriving/social media-esque thriving, the real thing)? 
  3. As I continue to interrogate myself (Cornel West via A. Rafik Mohamed Ep. 12 timestamp 31:22 – 32:11) and exorcize the internalized messages of oppression – stereotype threat, impostor syndrome, etc.), what hard truths do I need to hear in order to embrace what it means to thrive? 
  4. Who do I trust in my Circle of Support who will tell me these hard truths in order to help me/us move forward?
  5. If thriving is new to me, what can I do to not self-sabotage out of fear of experiencing something outside of the toxic, trauma-filled norm?
  6. What are ways I can support the thriving of those dearest to me? 
  7. How am I celebrating with those who are thriving and not letting my Inner Critic dampen the moment out of fear or questioning my worthiness to thrive?

Last week, my clients and students reminded me what thriving in spite and despite the oppressive conditions surrounding us looks like. My students found a way to enjoy each others joy and brilliance in a socially distant way and reflected on what it means to be Scholars of Color. My clients are confidently redefining what success and wealth building look like to them, and my daughter is finding great joy in making her racist teacher more upset as she is progressing in her schoolwork (Hey, motivation is motivation).

However you define your “win,” let it empower you to dream bigger and dream in honor of those who are thriving through you: 

Ma’Khia Bryant, Jacqueline Polk, Sandra Bland, Atatiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor, Andrew Brown, Jr., Daunte Wright, George Floyd, Adam Toledo, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and way too many/too painful to list.

As Beyoncé said in her beautiful song Bigger “life is your birthright they hid that in the fine print.”

Because it’s Beyoncé

Not only is living your birthright, but so is the audacity to radically love, thrive and liberate while being liberated. 

 Hold fast to your Birthright.

In Solidarity,

P.s. For anyone in the mood for a little poetry, take a look at one of my latest pieces for my 4th book “Emancipation Papers.” The poem is titled “The Road Home.”

A Cure Within the Contagion

(Revised: 3/28/21)

This post was originally written on March 21st, International Day for the Elimination of Racism or the UN’s #FightRacism Day. Thank you in advance for your commitment to eradicating the other pandemic that we are working to uproot. There have been so many opportunities to deepen our learning and commitment to fighting for our overall wellbeing in the form of liberation and justice within the last two weeks. I would love to share with you some of my reflections and questions:

A Word About Feedback

What happens when we are working towards being a better version of ourselves and support from those around us feels destructive? Reflecting on this question, I began to think about times when I have received various forms of feedback throughout my life: some of it constructive at the time, while other feedback felt more oppressive in its purpose. There are two experiences in particular that resonate with me: The first came during a time when I was working while emotionally broken and receiving feedback on a workshop. The second time was recently as an educator. Now that I am firmly in a Renewed place, feedback informs me; it does not form me.

The reason why feedback was difficult for me to take when I was navigating brokenness was because macro and micro aggressions were landing on me at the same time. It felt that way because 1) I was concurrently experiencing microaggressions from others personally and professionally during a time when folx in this country were…you already know and 2) I began to internalize those messages and eventually began to tear myself down. 

It is very hard to distinguish constructive feedback from well-meaning others, against the “You Suck” pit that has been intentionally dug for many of us by those who mean us harm. Once in said pit, if you are unable to claw yourself out; you are likely to get hit by what others are hurling down at you…even if what they may be hurling in your direction could potentially help you out of the pit. When guilt and shame team up with the scripts of white supremacist misogynistic heteronormative ableist capitalistic patriarchy, then even a simple evaluation of how you are showing up in an environment can turn into a form of damnation.


As I reflected on the significance of what is called the Convoy Model of Social Relations in my own experience, I am reminded of how “…people create convoys to match their personal needs and experiences, but personal and situational characteristics play a role within circumstances that may promote or constrain an individual’s ability to create the convoy that would be maximally beneficial to them (Fuller, Ajrouch and Antonucci, 2020).”

What the hell does that even mean?

Said in a different way, what’s going on inside of us and what’s going on around us play a part in how well we can create circles of support that are best for us.

“…people create convoys [of support] to match their personal needs and experiences, but personal and situational characteristics play a role within circumstances that may promote or constrain an individual’s ability to create the convoy that would be maximally beneficial to them.

Fuller, Ajrouch and Antonucci, 2020

I became deeply curious about circles of support as Meghan Markle described her treatment during her time with the Royal Family. Additionally, I wondered about the quality of support for the 21-year old white man chose to do by killing women he fetishized in Atlanta, Georgia. Don’t get it confused, the reality of the mental health crisis we have on our hands should not be lost on anyone. And, let’s not denounce the nuanced work that is directly connected to white violence and access to guns and other mechanisms of physical, spiritual and mental assaults (miss me with the whole “guns don’t kill people…” programmed track). An overarching question that comes to my mind is: What are the roles those who are engaged and invested in us have with regard to our wellbeing? 

Justice for Breonna Taylor, Xiaojie Tan and all
whose lives were taken as a result of white violence.

When I think about the word “invested,” I think about those who have benefited from our more toxic behaviors like people pleasing, self-abandonment, need for external validation over internal evaluation, those who take advantage of our vulnerabilities for their socio-political and personal gain…those assholes. We also have to be accountable for our own toxic tendencies. It is incredibly difficult to acknowledge when we have benefited from someone else’s toxicity and have also been that toxic person (In other words, we have also been the asshole in someone’s story). Trust, I know from experience how jarring that realization can be. 

You better go ‘head and own it, Sis!

It is sobering to realize that the same destructive and narcissistic ways of engaging that I experienced in personal and professional settings that were detrimental to my mental health and wellbeing, I now embody in some form.

If we use the coronavirus as an example (I’m sure you’re thinking “Please, don’t”) it may paint a more vivid and relatable picture. Here are 2 points to consider:

  1. Say you are reasonably healthy and you engage with someone with the virus. You will become infected with the virus. Whatever is going on with your immune system will determine how well your body is able to fight it and which symptoms you will display (if any). 
  2. If your immune system has already been compromised prior to becoming infected, the internal fight back to health is a harder and longer one. For some, the attacks from the virus is more than their system can bear. Others may recover with lingering effects from the impact of the virus, while others still may have little to no impact at all.

The reason why I chose to liken our mental health crisis to our current health crisis is to show the inextricable link of the two: 

  • When we surround ourselves with those who are committed to their wellbeing and we are also committed to our wellbeing, compromising moments may still happen, yet we have more resources towards recovering from those setbacks (Wellbeing Champions).
  • When we surround ourselves with those who have a lackadaisical relationship with their wellbeing, the level and quality of support will not necessarily be that plentiful or even helpful (Wellbeing Passivists). 
  • When we surround ourselves with sick folx who could care less about our wellbeing or even actively work against it, we are going to get sick or even more sick than we were initially (Wellbeing Obstructionists).

In reality, we engage with all three of these groups without knowing it, sometimes simultaneously. Additionally, somewhere in our lives we have been in each of these three groups in someone else’s life. We have been the mental health and wellbeing Champion, Passivist, and Obstructionist. Our complexities, stories, and lived experiences play out in different ways and given our socialization in this world, we act accordingly. It is only when we engage in critical self-reflection and work with those who can help challenge our assumptions in healthy ways, that we have those glorious aha! moments that foster transformative learning and liberation.

These are the thoughts that are swirling around in my mind as I am trying to make sense of, and learn from Meghan Markle’s experiences (more to come in my next post), while examining what can be known and gleaned from someone’s decision to murder eight people, six of whom were Asian women. Here are my 7 Questions to support us in deepening our learning. Feel free to reframe them so that you may work through them for yourself: 

  1. Who was around them and what level of support did they have versus what kind of support did they need? 
  2. What were the stories they each were telling themselves about their value, their worthiness, their purpose? What lies were the most salient and what were the sources of those lies? 
  3. In their moments of decision, what added support would have helped them make a decision that would have supported their mental health and wellbeing? 
  4. If they could rewrite their Liberation stance based on what they know now, what would it be? 
  5. Moving forward, what might dismantling the oppressive thoughts, conversations and ways of being in their internal and external lives look like as they continue on their respective paths? 
  6. How are in what ways (if at all) will they engage the various wellbeing groups in their lives now? What will they need in order to be able to recognize which groups they are operating in with others (i.e. How will they know when they are being Champions, Passivists and/or Obstructionists)? 
  7. How will they break the guilt/shame cycle when they have that realization? What (if anything) will they do differently as a result of breaking that cycle?

These two stories seem so very different. They are different. Yet, they have a common denominator: White violence as a direct byproduct of white supremacy. 

Shout out to the adults who are supporting students with math. I know you cringed when you read the words “common denominator.” I pray your response to white supremacy and violence is met with even greater revulsion.

Just as the current vaccine for the coronavirus has elements of the virus itself (respect to Onesimus, the enslaved person who shared his knowledge about inoculation and to whom we should honor for what the U.S. uses as its immunization process), a cure can exist within the contagion. Our intentionality behind what we do, how we do it, and with whom we surround ourselves as we are moving towards our welbeing and liberation, can create a turn of events for the better, if we do not succumb to the damage.

Sending you thoughts of Love, Justice and Liberation in recognition of International Day for the Elimination of Racism #FightRacism Day.

In Solidarity,

Find my posts amusing, the 7 Questions thought-provoking, or just want to help someone close to you read something new? Feel free to forward this post (or any of my posts) to anyone who may find it/them useful. 

New! If someone sent this post to you as a “gift,” and you want to be added to my email list or would like to chat with me directly regarding a particular post, click here

Source: Fuller, H. R., Ajrouch, K. J., & Antonucci, T. C. (2020). The Convoy Model and Later-Life Family Relationships. Journal of family theory & review12(2), 126–146. https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12376.

Goodbye, 2020…Please be Gentle, 2021!

For those who celebrate Christmas, I hope you found a creative and safe way to celebrate the holiday with your loved ones! Although this year required some strategy, we have amazing ways of figuring out how to make celebrations happen no matter the circumstances. Yes, we can make the miraculous happen when we set our minds to it.

Revisiting Miracles

Speaking of “the miraculous,” there are times I am led to write about issues and ideas that may not immediately resonate with me. Last week’s post was one of those times. Writing about Miracles during a dual pandemic and when my daughter is 3,000 miles away on holiday with her father, doth not make for a miraculous morn. Quite frankly, my mood and what I was inspired to write last week were at odds. However what I learned in real time is that when it comes to our spiritual responsibilities, our feelings have little bearing on what already exists (regardless of whether we can see it with our physical eyes or not). Shortly after I finished writing last week’s post, I received two testimonies of actual miracles in the lives of people I know. One was a friend whose entire family came down with COVID, with her husband battling for his life due to underlying health conditions.

Her story of being told that her husband “had a 50% chance of surviving” then being informed that she should do her best to take care of him at home due to the volume of patients at the hospital, was unbearable. However, she did it and not only fought for his life with some cultural remedies from her family, she fought with all of the love she had in her. You see, both their wedding anniversary and his birthday were quickly approaching and even though her feelings questioned whether he would see either of those significant dates, her spirit focused beyond the virus. With oxygen levels once down in the low 50’s, he now has oxygen levels in the low to mid 90’s (out of 100). This is not a story to shame any person or family that lost their loved one(s) by saying all they needed to do in order to save them from this horrible virus was to get their “Care Bear Stare” on. Not hardly. I am sharing this story as a reminder that even in the face of oppressive circumstances, miracles still happen and that love and miracles go hand-in-hand.

The other story came from a friend who unexpectedly dropped by to leave Christmas gifts for me and my daughter. She came by only moments after I finished ugly crying with my friend who told me about her husband’s health. I apologized for looking like a boiling hot mess and shared with her how my pity party was interrupted by a love story. She told me she completely understood and went on to share with me about how her elderly father, who had been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, finally had the life-saving surgery. She spoke about the impact the wait and the uncertainty had on their family’s wellbeing and how she is thankful that his body is accepting the new organ with no complications.

So instead of a toast, we cried to that.

Kecia, these stories are moving AND at the same time are kind of depressing. We know folks have had a helluva year. Sis, 2020 has royally sucked! BTW, I still can’t stand you for that post from earlier this year talking about 2020 “is an amazing year” and it is here to teach us and bring out the best in us! GTFOHWTS! You better have something good on the inspiration tip to make up for it…you know the whole peace, love, Soul Train vibe!

Redefine. Reclaim. Resist. 

What I am talking about is, yes, we need to dismantle oppression. Period (or “Periodt” depending on your spelling/pronunciation preference). If we take a critical eye to the stories I shared, we can have a whole discussion focused on oppression’s ugly hold given the disproportionate impact coronavirus is having in the Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, disparate care based on race and socioeconomic status, our overworked essential workers, the superwoman complex that calls for Women of Color to take care of sick loved ones as they are attempting to navigate their own wellness and wellbeing (oft times neglecting themselves in the process), etc. Oh yes, we can problematize everything I shared here today. We can also examine and learn from the good. Let me take that back…not just examine it, relish in it, just for a moment. 

No matter what hell was unleashed or elucidated in our lives this year (some of us were navigating some hefty life lessons prior to 2020), we can still reclaim what is innately ours…our humanity through love.

As we prepare/brace ourselves for 2021, I encourage you to explore reclamation resistance. I borrow this way of being from my Black and Indigenous family. Reclamation resistance is a way to regain ‘“psychic equilibrium’ created by invisibility and misrepresentation,” as academician A. Rafik Mohamed states in his book Black Men on the Blacktop: Basketball & the Politics of Race. Oppression and chaos diminishes us. However, what happens when we reclaim our full personhood through love? Personally, I have been engaging in my own reclamation by way of my 3-years (and counting) celibacy journey.

Sis, T.M.I.! T. M.I.! Your readers don’t need to know your business like that!!! Oh Lord! Thank God your mother doesn’t have internet access!

Look, I am an almost 50-years old divorcee, who had a child some 10 years ago…and it was NOT the Immaculate Conception. My ex-husband was not named Joseph and the closest I get to “Mary” is my mother’s middle name “Marie.” Plus, I am a poet and a die-hard Prince fan. Uh duh.

In a time when young Women of Color are asserting and fully embracing their sexuality (W.A.P. anyone?), I honor myself by also reclaiming my being through love. Loving ourselves, seeing ourselves, defining ourselves, and relishing in the power of our own being (and ownership of our “Yeses’ and “No’s”) are forms of resistance, freedom, and self-love that we can declare in a world that is actively trying to silence and erase us.

If you haven’t caught on yet, there will ALWAYS be a Black woman in the center of my posts.

Since this will be my last post for a few weeks, I want to leave you with 7 questions as you consider the possibilities to come in 2021:

  1. Whose definition of me do I hold as true and why?
  2. What ways of being have I adopted in order to make others feel comfortable and why?
  3. How, or in what ways have I used silence to dishonor myself or those I love, if at all?
  4. Outside of society’s definition of who they think I am, who am I, really?
  5. What do I love about myself? Like, really, REALLY love?
  6. Which parts of myself/my humanity do I need to reclaim?
  7. Given everything I have witnessed in 2020, how will I re-member (put together again) and recommit to loving myself, loved ones, and communities I hold dear?

Thank you all for being a part of my learning experience this past year! Please feel free to email me or visit my blog and post your comments. In addition, feel free to forward this post to anyone who may find it useful.

Peace, Love and Liberation!

The Benefit of Being Overwhelmed

“The enormity of it all hit me as I watched Bishop Jakes’ sermon. Then, it happened. I cried. The real “I” cried, meaning I cried from my soul. I cried for myself, my family and the whole damn world. Once I was done, I felt ready. That release and that emotional/spiritual support was what I needed so I could re-engage and get back to work. Thank you, Bishop.”

Happy Resurrection Sunday to All!

The excerpt above comes from my journal entry from last Sunday. As you may have [not] noticed, I did not post anything last week. Admittedly, I needed to sit with what was going on around me. Normally a Dispositional Optimist (respect to Dr. Jacqueline Mattis), I usually have a tendency towards feeling that no matter what is going on around me, when it is all said and done, everything is going to work out. 

Yeah, my Dispositional Optimism was on vacation week before last. So, my need for some spiritual nourishment was real.

Segue to the sermon.

In my opinion, Bishop Jakes is an amazing adult educator, biblical scholar and entrepreneur. And, he can preach. As a preacher’s kid, you learn that a real preacher can preach to 1 with the same conviction, fire and purpose they can 100,000. His sermon “The Shock of Suffering” is an example of that.

Please know that I am not here to convert anyone to a particular religious orientation. See this information the same way you used to see those little receptacles in stores where you could leave a penny or take a penny (now in the time of COVID-19, leave that penny alone).

Aretha Admonishment
The undeniable  Queen of Soul, Aretha Louise Franklin. Image source: YouTube: A Change Is Gonna Come.

The reason why I needed to hear a positive word was because I was starting to feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by what loved ones were dealing with financially, emotionally and physically. I was overwhelmed hearing stories from friends in New York as they received calls about loved ones who were dying. I was overwhelmed (yet grateful) for the daily briefings from California Governor Newsom. 

Over it (COVID-19) and overwhelmed.

Have you ever been overwhelmed to the point of inaction? Or, in my case, to the point of “Processing-by-Pantry” (#COVIDcalories #COVIDCrunchies)? 

It seemed like my advice was muted. The resources I offered were meaningless. My empathic ear was not enough. I could not shoulder the enormity of this moment by myself. And that is when I was reminded of the benefit of being overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed is like an alert system. It tells us that the current situation requires self awareness, curiosity, additional support/guidance and strategy to navigate.

As an example, I think about the times I have moved and it was time to move a hulky piece of furniture or an appliance. Regardless of how many times I lift the 10 and 15 lb weights, I am not capable of moving a refrigerator by myself (rumor has it though that my father once put a large refrigerator on his back and moved it by himself #daddybrag). Overwhelmed by the size of the task, I have had the wherewithal to know that I am not able and do not have the necessary equipment to move a refrigerator. I had no problem looking for the right people to do the job safely. 

Moving a refrigerator does not equate to the level of current crisis we see globally, but it serves as a decent metaphor. Even if we can handle life’s heaviest challenges on our own, it does not mean there is not a more fruitful and saner way to manage the situations we are experiencing.

On this Resurrection Sunday, I encourage you to think about the various changes you and those around you are navigating, the various support systems available (people, places and things) and how best to develop plans to help move “the refrigerators” around you. For some, the situations around you may be the size of a mini refrigerator while others are dealing with “Double Wides” that are more complex. Whatever the situations may be, take some time to be still and honestly assess the needs around you, then seek support accordingly (Social Distancing ≄ Emotional/Spiritual Disconnection).

For those who need a tool to help you think through how to manage the changes you are experiencing, feel free to visit the Keeping Balanced Instagram page (keeping.balanced). Learn more about a framework that I have used to support those who have felt overwhelmed by career changes, job loss, family challenges and other life transitions.

All 4Ss for Posting

No questions to ponder this week. I figure you have enough on your mind.

Continued health and safety to you and your loved ones.

RESOURCES

You have likely heard about the increase in domestic violence in the wake of the COVID-19 quarantine.  I posted about this on several social media outlets and want to add it here for this community.

There are many forms of domestic violence that are thriving under the current COVID-19 quarantine and social distancing environment: 

– Domestic Violence/Dating Violence
– Financial Abuse
– Reproductive Abuse & Coercion
– Sexual Abuse
– Stalking/Cyberstalking (Digital Abuse)
– Litigation Abuse.

Here are a few helpful websites for survivors and those who are looking to provide support to them:

National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 
Office of Women’s Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Domestic Violence Resource Center 
National Coalition Of Anti-Violence Programs
Womenslaw.org

Remember: Social Distancing ≄ Emotional/Spiritual Disconnection. Please check on those who may need your support.

2020: A Special Letter to You

For WP Welcome, 2020!

Dearest,

It has been a long time since we’ve connected. We wanted to share what has been put on our hearts about you as you prepare for an amazing new year. 

Stop being afraid. If you had any idea of how many people beyond this life had your back, you would walk through this world differently. With that said, hide these truths in your heart:

  • You are loved. 
  • Success is not a bad thing and failure won’t keep you safe. 
  • Your purpose is bigger than your pain. 
  • See and work beyond your current circumstances. 
  • We can tell you that you are worthy, but only you can live out your worthiness.
  • One more time…only you can live out your worthiness. 
  • What would you do if you knew everything was going to work out in your favor? 
    • What would your state of health and wellbeing be like? 
    • What would your surroundings look like (people, places and things)?
    • How hard would you pray? 

Yes, how hard would you pray? You know prayer changes everything around you. Why won’t you pray? Because you know it works. And anything that works scares you. Someone loving you back, scares you. Someone investing in you and your dreams, scares you. We have watched you villainize those around you because they love you. You run from those who love you because they see your worth.  What about you? Do you love you? If not, what are you waiting for? 

You have to decide that this year and every year you exist, is your year. Yes, you have lived through traumatic situations, but look at you! You are still here and stronger than ever, even when you do not feel like you are stronger. Tap into the resources around you to help you move past the trauma so that you can continue to serve, while living a life of joy and purpose. You’ve got this, Dearheart! Even when you feel like your “this” is a sham or totally out of reach, remember your THIS (Tenacious Heart, Irrefutable Spirit) are not to be taken lightly. 

Please make healing a priority. Block out the noise. Get prepared and stay prepared. Most important, fall madly in love with yourself and the possibilities that surround you. 

We are waiting for you to renew your mind and re-connect to your purpose. We have faith in you and cannot wait to see what you do next! 

With Love,

Your Past, Your Present and Your Future 

 

*I originally wrote this letter to myself as one of my personal healing projects. I hope it inspires you to work towards your goals today! Remember: You’ve got THIS!

Peace,

Dr. Kecia

Welcome the Holidays with The Love of 10,000!

What’s better than giving your Little Ones the gift of love, empowerment, and hope for the holidays? Celebrate a story of love and ancestral wisdom with the children in your life. Order your copies of The Love of 10,000 today!

Excerpt from the book:

Just find your calm and be still
and you’re 10,000 will speak to you.

You will hear them say:
You are mighty.
You are loved.
Speak out!
Rise above.
You matter.
You are brilliant.
Be kind.
Be resilient.

Children’s Book-The Love of 10,000

Inspired by Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem “Our Grandmothers,” The Love of 10,000 is a love letter from a mother to her daughter. This visual poem reminds us all that as we navigate life, we are surrounded by those who love and guide us every day. Please email us directly at dr.kecia@drkeciab.com to order copies in Spanish, French, or Portuguese.

$16.95

HEALTHY Holidays

repost_photo.jpg

Instagram #kbcwellnessseries

This will be the first year in a long while where I get to do the holiday season differently. There was a bit of trepidation and self-judgement while I was typing those words, because it includes the holidays where it was just my smaller family unit. My waking up before daylight while still preparing days before and over concern with whether the food was going to turn out right and if everyone was alright with how the day went (run-on sentence intentional to give you the experience of running out of breath), created stress for me, yet calm and rest for others. 

It’s called tradition.

Some traditions are healthy and culture-sustaining. I am referring to those that are emotionally draining and spirit crushing. Check out the 1998 Psychology Today article “Surviving Holiday Hell” if you are not sure what I am talking about.

I already know there will be those who will argue that I have no right to be critical of the ways of being that keep families together. These are the people I am addressing this post to today. The ones who sustain dysfunction because it is the norm. 

I’ve thrown out at few terms. Let me define them right quick. Tradition is defined as–well, it has several definitions. The one that is relevant for this post is “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc. from generation to generation,

NeilT

This is Neil. He is brilliant.

especially by word of mouth or practice.” Along those same lines, Norms are defined as “a standard, model or pattern.” There is also a mathematical definition that only Neil deGrasse Tyson would understand. That is not the one I am referring to here. Let’s focus on “the standard, model or pattern,” meaning of the word for now.

 

There are some patterns–routines if you will, that we engage in that are health inducing: general hygiene, moderate exercise, semi-conscious food intake–in order to sustain a more healthy way of being. It is those unhealthy patterns that have been normalized in our families and other areas of our lives that we may want to pay attention to and eventually change. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • What impact does engaging in this pattern have on your health and sense of wellbeing (i.e. is it raising your blood pressure to unhealthy levels, are you in physical pain in this situation, or are you in full on psychological distress)?
  • Is nurturing a culture of silence part of the tradition, allowing others to be compromised physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.?
  • Who actually benefits from upholding the traditions? Do you even know who benefits or is there an assumed “we all benefit from this experience?”
  • How would you view the traditions and patterns of being if you observed them anywhere other than in your surroundings?

Something that I learned in the wonderful world of therapy (Yes, Black women do therapy too.) is just because it is the norm, doesn’t make it “normal” or healthy. Patterns of dysfunction are real. Sayings that come to mind here are “that’s just the way it is” or “it please-pass-the-gravy-2has always been this way” or my favorite “it is just a part of the fabric of…” are intentional culture sustaining messages to keep unhealthy systems in place (“Mmmm, may I have extra gravy on my oppression please? Thanks!”). Just because these patterns  are real and are also a part of our daily routines (alongside the healthier behaviors), does not mean they have to go unchallenged and unchanged.

Hold on there, Sister! Are you calling my family/organization/relationship OPPRESSIVE!?!

It is not about whether I would call any area of your life oppressive. That is not my call to make. The question is: If you were silent, still and willing to tell yourself some hard truths (not the easy ones that support unhealthy behaviors), would you call those areas in your life oppressive? For those who get thrown off by the O-word, how about I use some vernacular that was appropriate during last month’s holiday: Halloween.

 

Would you say that certain traditions in your family/organization/relationship are blood curdling, soul sucking, fear inducing, brain numbing experiences that if you weren’t so terrified you would run from them?

Please note, I am not referring to a little discomfort, which helps us grow and expand as lifelong learners. 

You may know what it feels like, but are too afraid to voice it because…wait for it…it will hurt someone else’s feelings, ostracize you and create imbalance/inconvenience/incontinence for others (Incontinence, Kecia? Really?).

However, what if you changing your course of action sets generations after you on a healthier course of interacting with one another? What if:

  • by not forcing the children (especially girls) to hug relatives, we teach them they have full control of how they chose to interact with others and have them create ways of greeting that feel comfortable for them (how would your life be different if you had been given that choice)? 
  • instead of all the foods that keep Type II Diabetes running through our families like a track meet, we opt for life sustaining foods (that are still well seasoned, of course)? This one is all me!
  • instead of accepting invitations for the annual event where packing Rolaids is required for numerous reasons, you choose to give your time interacting with those who may actually appreciate your presence–not just once or twice a year? They are closer than you think.
  • we changed our standards and modeled new healthier ways of being with ourselves, nature and the people around us? 

I would love to hear how you are living out a more Healthy Holiday season. Feel free to email me at dr.kecia@drkeciab.com.

To your wellbeing!

Dr. Kecia

P.s. For anyone dealing with a higher than usual level of stress or depression, please do not suffer in silence! Immediately go to your local hospital if you have serious thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

Below are a few additional resources that may be useful:

Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping

Tips For Managing The Holiday Blues

Holiday Depression: How to Beat the Holiday Blues

Self-Harm Prevention Plan

Updated: 11/21/19 @11:57am PST

It Started With a Pot of Chicken Noodle Soup…

Time flies when you are busy:

  • being a hover craft mom
  • kind of/sort of publicizing a book
  • starting a second business
  • getting a divorce
  • re-introducing yourself to yourself
  • ending a relationship with People Pleasing

And this list is the “user-friendly” version.

I told myself “Self, you need to be consistent with the whole blogging thing. You love to write…it’s a part of your healing practice, after all. Plus, you are incredibly funny, insightful (while at times lacking modesty) and you have a great story.”

“Self” got busy re-arranging the furniture of her life. So, here we are posting 5-months later. So it goes.

Balance 2019

I have spent my time working on my overall wellness and wellbeing. Not one to toot my own horn, but I realized just how great I was at taking care of everyone else and how terrible I was at making my own self-care a priority. I mean T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E.

All the Certificates of Appreciation, letters/emails from students and colleagues could not make up for my overall decline…while others were watching.

This realization came while I was making my amazing chicken noodle soup for some of my sick colleagues.

Record scratch moment: My family has this thing about not having your house or your life be out of sorts “in front of company” or while others are watching. The guilt, shame and exhaustion that comes from having to try and make it seem like everything is okay, when in actually some of the life situations around you are in the “Abyss of Suckedge,” is both heavy and unnecessary.

So yes, life was sucking while others were watching, got it.

However, as is my cultural and genderized training, I kept up the facade and kept a somewhat quivering and chapped stiff upper lip.

Back to the soup.

The organization I was supporting came together for a retreat. Two of my colleagues/clients were full on sick, but had very heavy workshop calendars, so they “had” to keep on pushing. Other members of the team looked worn out as well. And of course there was me: Full on hot mess with a pending divorce, a 3rd concussion walking around like Dory, in overprotective mother mode and trying to act like everything was okay.

all is fine cat

I was not okay.

However, I still wanted to do what I could to make sure everyone else was.

Just so you know, my chicken noodle soup has been sanctioned by The Divine Council. Not only can it heal the sick, my soup can end strife of any form, while helping you balance your taxes. Not to mention that anything else I cook is suspect, so this soup being as great as it is, truly is on miracle status.

On to the soup.

Almost My Chicken-Noodle-Soup

Not my soup.

Okay, the transformative part of the story really is not about the soup. What was most important about that learning experience for me came from the questions the situation brought up for me:

  1. Where do those who do work helping to better the lives of others (us Helping Profession folk)  go to gain the support we need when we get worn down by workplace issues and secondary trauma?
  2. Yes, we may know what to do by way of our training and experiences. But, do we do what we know when it comes to our own self-care and wellbeing?

Many of us have been trained in the importance of therapy, exercise, eating well, taking time off, etc, etc. Facts: Some of us don’t do what we know to do. Many of us do not do what we know to do. I venture to believe that part of the “mental health crisis” we are seeing in our country has something to do with the fact that the people who have been championing the wellbeing of others are worn out, too. Yes, we are supposed to walk the talk while talking the talk of self-care, but that is easier said than done. Especially given the expectations brought on with how “connected” we are in every way.

Reflecting on the two questions, along with me taking the necessary time to re-connect to myself and my new world, has been empowering and purpose driving. Part of my wellness work required me to reconnect to my “why” and “what’s next?” For my “why” I can say I have always been passionate about motivating others to bring their best into their work worlds. I remember when I lived in New York, I was talking to a group of young people on the subway about what they wanted to do in the world and how they planned on doing it (you should have seen the older adults ear hustling in on our conversation).

instant-pot-lemon-dill-chicken-soup-v2.jpg

Still not my soup.

I spent time thinking about experiences like the young people on the subway, my former students who have gone on to do amazing things, working with career changers who stepped out on faith and preparation to make big changes for themselves and their families…the kind of work that brought me joy and pumped life into me.

As I think about the intersections of my professional and personal experiences (some bitter, some sweet, some savory, some just “eh”), I am ready to stir things up in my very own “career & wellbeing soup pot.” I am excited for this new chapter in my life and my new coaching practice, Keeping Balanced Coaching (yes, another “KB” business). It is thrilling to think about what my coaches and partners for the practice are bringing to add into this brilliant mix of work and wellness. I look forward to our encouraging the overall wellbeing of those who support our children, our families and our communities…and them being well as they do it.

Final note: In case you were wondering, the soup I made my colleagues was absolutely delicious…it always is (no modesty when it comes to my soup game)! I always forget to take pictures of my soup and I don’t think I ever will given it is my signature dish. Here’s a tip: I throw in pinches of everything I have that I deem as soup-worthy. With my soup, my career and my personal life; I have adopted my (non)cousin on my dad’s side, Brené Brown’s two-word mantra, “Nothing wasted.”

Cheers to you on your soup/career/life excursions!