Empower Youth

Last Saturday, I had a rare unexpected day off. I used that opportunity to watch the March for Our Lives event. I sat proud of the way the youth stood up for what they believed in and demanded action! There are times when I am asked why do I spend time working with youth, and last Saturday was proof of why.

As I sit here writing this, I am preparing to leave for another Jamaica Mission Trip to work with youth there for another year, my heart is warmed by what I witnessed. In my youth there were people who poured into me and contributed to who I am today. I feel that it is important to give back to youth and help them develop into productive citizens. You never know how a simple encounter will impact a youth.

There are many programs out there you can become a part of. Big Brothers Big Sisters and Girls Empowered Mentally for Success are two programs that I am part of that strive to help you. I am a mentor in one program and on the board for the other. Even if you cannot give time, you can invest in programs in other ways.

I challenge every person that reads this to find someone to invest in our youth. There will come a day when they will be in charge of making decisions and policy changes. This can only happen through education and sharing.

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Talking to Your Child

Originally, my goal was to write a blog weekly, but it is not realistic for two reasons. First, I want this blog to be meaningful. I do not want to write to just to write. This became evident as I sat in front of my computer trying to force something out. Second, I have a demanding schedule and finding time weekly is a lot. So my new commitment is to blog at least once a month and any over is just extra.

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So for February I want to focus on communicating with your child. From the #MeToo Movement to the Florida school shooting, children are being exposed to a lot via the media. First and foremost, as a parent you first have to use active listening. Most people listen long enough to react instead of waiting to hear the person out, and then form a response. This also means not engaging in another activity while they are talking. And using nonverbal signals to show that you are engaged in what they are saying.

Second, reflect back what they stated to make sure that you got a clear understanding of what they are trying to say. This gives your child an opportunity to correct any wrong perception prior to you potentially making a quick judgment.

Third, ask questions for clarification and shows that you really were paying attention. Not to mention it gives clarification, point two.

Fourth, give them the reasons behind your answer. I grew up in the era of “Because I said so!” Children will accept a negative response better if they first are heard, and second they can have some type of understanding of your reasoning.

Fifth, do not ignore their questions just because you are uncomfortable with the topic. You would rather your child get answers from you then from their friends or the internet. You are also able to control what they learn first. If you need advice on how to approach the topic, schedule a later time to talk and then research.

And sixth, if you find that your child needs more assistance understanding the subject, seek out a professional to help. There have been a number of times I see a client who states they have been asking for therapy for months/years. No child is going to ask for therapy just for fun.

I hope these suggestions are helpful for you talking with your children. Feel free to ask any questions.

Be Proactive

So yesterday I had a photo shoot to update all of my pictures. As my lovely stylist was doing my hair and make-up, we were watching YouTube videos. We watched several videos about the dissatisfaction with the Tarte Shape Tape Foundation launch because of the lack of inclusion to people of color. As I sat watching video after video of bloggers who all had the same reaction and who did not find that any of the 3-4 colors to match their skin (and yes there where women of various shades), it felt like the cosmetics industry took a step back. All of the women spoke of how they loved Tarte products and how excited they were for the launch. You would think with as much anticipation that was out the company would have made sure that the line was inclusive.

Now after turning off the capabilities of people to make comments, Tarte issued a statement that they will release 10 new shades to cover the gap. Why must we continue to be a reactive society? Instead of being proactive and considering all possibilities, our society continues the trend of trying to “make up” for some type of injustice. I am not saying that companies and people will not make mistakes, but there is a pattern that only when confronted do companies and people decide to release more colors, or go get help, or donate the money to charity. How about we challenge ourselves to consider the possibilities and consequences before we do something?

I salute and stand with the women and men who have made the choice to hold Tarte accountable by speaking out against them and demanding they address this issue.

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How to Support the Healing of Your Child

I am apart of a powerful women’s entrepreneurial group where we read a book and have a discussion about the impact the book had us. Our first book is Iyanla Vanzant’s Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What Your’re Going Through. This book is an autobiography where Iyanla explores her past trauma and the generational pathology of her family. One of the questions posed by one of the group members was “which adult from Iyanla’s childhood we thought was in the best position to protect her and make everything alright.” My response to the question was  “The adults in her life were not in a position to make everything right as they had never dealt with their issues and trauma. I run across so many families who want us (therapists) to “fix” children when the real issue is the parents. And when I say the real issue is the parents, I mean they have never dealt with their issues and that effects the way in which they parent continuing the passing down of generational issues.” Her response to me was “I see! Wow. Heal the parents which would enable them to support the healing of the child.” I thought, “Exactly! Somebody gets it!”

The first step to caregivers helping their children through issues that require therapy is to first deal with their own issues. One of the statements I make to the parents of the children I treat is “In order for me to help your child, you have to be a part of the treatment. That means there may be times when you have to meet with me alone where we may have to address things from your past that are impacting your relationship with your child. I cannot help your child without also helping you.” Many caregivers do not realize how their past issues have seeped into their current relationships and coping. Ignorance is not bliss! Ignoring what has occurred in your past is the breeding ground for pathology.

Caregivers for the benefit of the children you are raising, please face the issues from your past. Therapy is not for “crazy people” as it has been stigmatized in the past. Therapy is for everyone who is willing to face their past and want to change.

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Close up on a man and a woman holding hands at a wooden table

How Will You Choose to Deal with Opposing Views?

This past week has been interesting to say the least. Emotions continue to be high as one president exits and another one enters. I found myself having to unfriend someone I have known since I was an undergraduate in college because of the personal attacks he made against others whom I am friends with during a conversation on Facebook. Here is the status that I posted after I unfriended him: “Please understand that I post about things that I care about and are my views. I love to spark debate as long as it is done properly. That is the point of some of my posts. I will not tolerate disrespect. Personal attacks is not the way to change someone’s view on an issue. Don’t quote the Bible if you don’t live by it. You will be blocked!” I am an advocate for having conversations about difficult subjects with people of different view points. That is how change happens whether it is someone adjusting to my view, or me to theirs. But we as a society have to learn how to have conversations without resorting to personal attacks.

I have also been dealing with an issue with a family where the teenager has dug her heels in and is refusing to see reason because she does not want to be seen as weak in the eyes of her peers even though her safety is in jeopardy. Today it hit me that what we have witnessed over the past couple of days is a great testimony. There was an expectation that the inauguration attendance would be record breaking, but instead people showed their voice by not showing up. Now I know there is discrepancy about how many people were there, but pictures truly are worth a thousand words. The very next day women across the United States gathered and marched for women rights. So many so they have not been able to collect the numbers yet. The statement of silence the day before and peaceful protest the next day spoke volumes! And how fitting that this all occurred the week we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday!

Our challenge today is teaching youth that they can show more strength by using wisdom to deal with conflict. Many of the past conflicts I have dealt with have been shut down and resolved using silence, peaceful protest, kindness, love, and a smile. So I challenge us all to use wisdom in how we approach things and find a different way of responding to those who have views that are in conflict with out own.

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Completion

So it has been a long time since I have blogged. Things have been crazy since the last time I wrote. Let’s see I was in a car accident while training for a half marathon. Then I got a promotion at work that turned into full time way earlier than expected. So I would say the last part of 2016 was a time of transition for me. But now we are in 2017 and I am at a place in my life where I have to learn to not just focus on just seeing clients and making it through the day, but I have to learn to maintain all aspects of my personal life at the same time. Which includes being more consistent with blogging. So here goes!

My first blog of 2017 is about what I am already learning for 2017 and not about my goals for 2017. My word for this year is “Completion.” God gave me this word because there are several things that I have allowed to be carried over into 2017 that should have stayed in 2016. For reasons of fear, procrastination, and just being busy I allowed these things to enter into a new year which is unacceptable. I can continue to make excuses or I can do something about it. I am choosing to correct my mistakes. Also, there are new opportunities that I will encounter in 2017 that must be completed in 2017. As I refuse to continue to make the same mistakes.

This year I am not going to publicly reveal my goals list, but as I go throughout the year I will share different things that are on my list and my personal journey to completing them. I will still be an advocate about issues that are important to me. And share the life lessons that I learn along the way. I look forward to the journey of 2017 and my continued growth. I hope each of you join me on this journey of completion!

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Dance as therapy!

There were two videos this past week that went viral. One was a six years-old girl who was invited to perform at the Zumba conference This young lady had amazing moves, but more remarkable is she has a bone marrow disease. She uses dance as a way to deal with living with this disease. The other was a video of a woman who used dance to deal with labor pains prior to giving birth to her second child. So today, I decided to do a blog on Dance Therapy.

The American Dance Therapy Association defines Dance Therapy as “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual.” Dance Therapy is used with people of all ages and in all populations to help individuals with developmental, medical, social, physical and psychological impairments. I can remember volunteering for the Special Olympics Prom for DeKalb County in Georgia. One year the prom fell on the same night as the prom of the school I worked at. We had regular education students who chose to volunteer at the Special Education prom over attending the school prom. Dance served as an equalizer between the special education students and the regular education students. For those hours they were one and shared a love of music and dance.

Recent articles have shown that Dance Therapy has successfully been used with clients who have dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, eating disorders, autism, and with people in prisons. There are only a select number of universities in the United States that offer degrees in Dance Therapy, but there are alternative ways in which therapist’s can become certified to use Dance Therapy. You click the link above and go to the American Dance Therapy Association’s website to locate a dance therapist in your area.

I hope more people find dance as a coping skill to use to get through whatever they may be going through.

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