Keep Moving

Happy February! Several things are happening this month. It’s the month that many celebrate Black History month as well as love. (Let’s not forget about self-love) While these things are certainly important, I am also choosing to use this month to maintain my focus. I am calling it Focus in February.

2022 was a mix of beautifully crafted moments and extremely tough ones. Some doors opened while others closed. Navigating life’s unexpected curve balls can create extreme levels of stress in the body when you have a chronic illness. Sometimes it can feel as if you are stuck. The doctor visits and medical tests increase. The people you once turned to are no longer there. Friendships change. Connections die. The vision you had for your life shifts. You question your purpose.

There’s an old song entitled “Keep On Moving” by Soul II Soul. One of the verses says “Don’t stop like the hands of time.” With all that life can bring our way, it can be quite tempting to want to do just the opposite. However, the sun can still shine after the rain. Much like a flower, even if you lose a few leaves, the strength is in your roots. Strong roots keep us grounded. When strong winds (problems) come, we may sway, but we won’t be knocked over. Regardless of what is going on around you, maintain your focus my friends. Someone needs your gifts, talents, and abilities. Just. Keep. Moving.



Mental Health Matters

2022 is upon us! Many people look forward to a new year with anticipation. We aim to leave the past behind and to move towards new goals that often include better health. I am sure that you have heard the term health is wealth. What comes to mind when you think of health? If you are anything like me, you may have only thought about the physical aspect. Everywhere we turn, we are reminded to exercise, eat well, and drink enough water on a daily basis. While those things are important, there is another area of our health that should be prioritized as well.

Mental health is a subject that many people shy away from. If you suffer from poor mental health due to stress, financial issues, or relationship problems, you are perceived as weak. So, what do most people do?

They suffer in silence.

They smile when they’re hurting.

They throw themselves into activities to numb the pain. (drinking, sex, exercise, or overeating etc.)

None of these things help us with the underlying issues. While both men and women can be affected by poor mental health, men are often affected more due to the societal pressures to be masculine and strong. If the issues go unaddressed for too long, it can lead to suppressed emotions, medical issues, feelings of despair, and lead to extreme measures to stop the pain. I have read too many stories where mental health was the culprit behind someone taking their life. Suicide is not the answer. We can all strive towards improving our mental health by:

  • Avoid self-criticism- value yourself
  • Take care of your body.
  • Talk to someone if you need to. Therapy does not equal weakness.
  • Practice mindfulness- meditate or practice yoga.
  • Change up your normal routine. Try new things.
  • Set realistic goals. Don’t over commit.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.

Remember, everything starts in the mind, and our mind needs to be healthy too.



Managing Holiday Grief

The holidays are upon us and while many people are decorating and taking advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, others are not as excited. They may be grieving the loss of a loved one. As a certified Grief Specialist, I was invited to speak on this topic recently.

First, let me define grief. It is the normal and natural response to any type of loss in a person’s life. Of course, death is what usually comes to mind initially, but we can grieve due to divorce, the end of a relationship, employment changes or even health status. (I had to grieve for what Lupus changed in my own life.) Regardless of who or what it is that we grieve, we don’t have to shy away from what we feel. We may feel loneliness, sadness, anger or even anxiety. The reason that holiday grief can be more difficult is because we are exposed to all of the stimuli that makes us more aware of the change that has occurred in our lives. For example, songs, certain smells, or places that we visit can evoke memories of what was.

So, how do we deal with those feelings? Do we rely on short term behaviors that numb the pain such as overeating, drinking alcohol, shopping or throwing ourselves into work? I have done a few of these things at various times in the past and not only are they unhealthy, but they don’t help us. The key to healing our hearts is to address and complete what is emotionally unfinished within that loss. This is how I help grievers.

No one has the right to tell you how long to grieve, but my suggestion during this season is to embrace your strength and courage that has led you thus far. If you’re living in a new body due to chronic illness, every day is a victory. Yes things may be different, but you are a warrior! If you need to cry, shout, curse, or journal about it, do that, re-adjust your crown and continue walking tall. If you’re missing a loved one, try and focus on the good times shared with them, the blessing that they were to your life, and the memories you will forever cherish. Family traditions may not be the same, but you can create beautiful new memories with those you do have. After all, your loved one still resides in your heart and they always will.



Pressure Challenge

Life is full of ups and downs. Some days are better than others. On the tougher days, we may feel large amounts of pressure. Pressure to meet deadlines. Pressure to make difficult decisions. Pressure to just “get better.” Regardless of what pressures we face, what matters is how we choose to deal with them.

The decision is really up to us. We can cave to the pressure or we can welcome the pressure.

Yes, you read that right. Think back on difficult times in your life where you couldn’t see a way out. You made it right? It is often during those times (the process) that we experience growth.

Let’s look at two of the most beautiful gems in the world: diamonds and pearls. They both go through a process to become the beautiful pieces of jewelry that ladies love to wear.

In order for a diamond to be formed, it has to endure a tremendous amount of heat and pressure.

When an oyster shell is irritated or damaged, it produces a pearl. What would happen if we made an effort to face our issues like the diamond or the pearl producing oyster shell? We could share our testimony with others. Or encourage and help those going through similar struggles.

My challenge to you is to dig deep when you are up against pressure. You’ll never know what beautiful thing is waiting on the other side.