THE LINK BETWEEN BREAST CANCER, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND HOW I USED BREATHWORK AND BREATHOLOGY TO BECOME MORE THAN A "SURVIVOR", BUT A 'THRIVER"
"".".My Mom in the last months of her life, hanging with me at the opening of the African American Museum in D.C. and her last public picture at the D.C. Senior P agent.
It would be many days of concern as we saw our Mom turn from a healthy senior with no serious health issues, to a shadow of herself, as she literally willed herself to die. She actually begged God to take her home. And, she was so ready....had written all of her obituary, had paid for most of her expenses, and helped me and my two sisters plan her "great home-going EVENT" she called it. She was 92 at her passing, and her contributions in making a better world, was a glowing testament of a life worth-lived. Her home-going was exceptional, just as she planned, with an entire community coming out to say, "thank you Ms. Thomas for a life-well-lived."..
One of her biggest contributions was her involvement as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society and October was “a very important” time for her.
My Mom, at age 17 and at age 91.
My Mom, became afflicted with breast cancer, in 1965, the year before I graduated from middle school and I became part of her “care-taking team.”. MY Dad found her lump, and he often bragged about this. Despite it being a small tumor, it resulted in surgical removal of her left breast (radical mastectomy) and all the lymph nodes under her armpit. After undergoing 45 radiation and chemotherapy treatments, my Mom realized her deep desire to help other women who faced the same challenges.
She joined the “Reach To Recovery Program” of the American Cancer Society, visiting in hospitals and homes of countless, women, supporting , praying and motivating them right after their breast cancer surgeries. Eventually she became a spokesperson, featured on radio, television, and in public advertisements on behalf of the Society, encouraging women that “there is life after cancer”. For her consistent volunteerism, she was awarded the American Cancer Society’s most prestigious recognition, The Bartlett Award, named for one of their pioneers.
Although 7 years after her breast removal, she developed cancer in her hips, and again managed radiation but also incorporated a new paradigm shift in her personal treatment. She said that I had motivated her to use more natural approaches. So, she stopped smoking, became vegan, attended yoga classes, started breathing with me, and did lots of walking, stretching and danced. Mom acclaimed, in later years, that she had survived cancer for over 49 years by living a wholistic life-style of increased breathing for greater relaxation, moving, and limited medicines.
While, I was drawn to a wholistic lifestyle as early as 1970 at age 19, due in part to wanting to be a good example for my Mom’s health, I remember as a young child that I was destined to pursue this lifestyle. I was pushed into eating meat, yet was very sensitive to the fate of animals being killed for us to eat them. I remember being terrified, watching a restaurant cook boil some crabs, while they were alive, and feeling the crabs' pain. I was really into nature, plants, talked to trees, and dis-liked violence of all kinds despite my being a tom-girl who loved to physically, tackle down my older brothers on the football field. Quite an introvert, shy, a reader, a writer of poetry, observant, and super sensitive, I felt the inter-relationships of everything, especially people and their emotions. This empathic nature was recognized by my Mom early on, who was quite similar in nature, and she became my best friend and role model..
From this empathic framework as a helper and a care-taker, I wanted to know how my calm, always in control, small-framed, Mom, attracted cancer in the first place, why did it come back and what this imbalance of cancer, was really about?
I questioned the tension that I felt in my family, despite moments of love and laughter, and I really noticed tension in my body and holding my breath, whenever I was around my Dad. I remember being quite young when began to notice that he would drink something that made his behavior change, and next he would be asleep at the dinner table. I would wake him up and help him into bed. I thought that my Dad was just overly, tired when he fell asleep at the table.
As my Mom was getting back on her feet from her first cancer, she started working again in the day, while my Dad worked evening shifts, both federal. government workers. With their work schedule, I was given the responsibility of helping my younger sisters, 12 and 10 years younger than myself, having to miss many after-school extra-curricular activities.. I grew into adolescence, care-taking my Dad, and in some ways my Mom, too.. As the middle-child, it seemed like I was always the “peace-maker”.. I was “wired” to be a helper and by age 15, I declared I wanted to be a social worker.
But, there was an undercurrent that was not peaceful and I started feeling the tension in my family, more and more. My Dad, sitting alone at the dinner table having his "drink", seemed “different" after a while, going from being a joking, caring person to a person who would tease me harshly, saying unkind things about my crooked teeth comparing me to the cartoon character “Mickey Mouse”.. He made negative statements about my curly, frizzy hair, my dark-brown skin color, my thin frame, like my Mom's and as I grew breast, sexual remarks about my body. He would give us "pocket change" he called it, then demand it back. .He was nice-nasty, and you never knew what to expect from him.
I often clung to my Mom, who would tell him to leave me alone, but then he would turn on her with unkind words. I believe, because my Mom had so much grace about her, with a quiet presence, she could quietly and firmly put you in place, which is often how I remember, she handled my Dad during these increased rants. You seldom heard her raise her voice, nor even show anger. One day, I saw him standing over her on the stairs to their bedroom, screaming in a nasty rage, and she actually took her cigarette out of her mouth, and without a word, put it to his arm and burned him, backing him off.
My Dad, quite handsome in his uniform in World II, as a young kid of 17,
When I look back at my Mom, her manner of dealing with my Dad, must have created a strained peace that went on for years, and that this internalized stress, anger and frustration, eventually became the emotional root of the imbalance from which the serious illness of cancer came from. My Mom survived, ironically, with the help of my Dad, who also was nice-nasty with her, nurturing and loving one moment, then verbally abusive the next.
As I matured, Dad became more verbally abusive and sexual in his language towards me and my girlfriends. However, one day, he made sexual remarks about me, to a male friend, breaking into our phone call. When I confronted him, he physically slammed me into a wooden dresser, then began to beat me, until my brothers stopped him. Totally fed up with pain, I decided to run away from home, to get away from my Dad, leaving out to New York with no plan or connections, which meant, I came right back home after my weekend retreat. I was age 17.
By age 19, I ran away again, this time to Okinawa, to marry my high school sweetheart who had joined the Air Force to get out of his toxic home environment and here, we were introduced to smoking marijuana, dropping pills, drinking and using substances for recreation.. Returning home after 9 months, I pursued my dream of working with people, and went to college to become a human services professional and my husband, Damani, went to work in the federal government at a job, he didn't like.
By the 3rd year of our marriage, I realized that I was re-creating the relationship I had grown up with, watching my Dad and Mom. As drugs and drinking became the “third party” in our relationship, I had a health scare, as my breast thickened, and test showed that I too was at risk for breast cancer. I was truly into wholistic health now, and at the same time, was incongruent with self-abusive behavior with drugs and alcohol. I spoke to Mom to probe deeper into her early childhood, in order to discover how the seeds of her emotions had played into her journey with cancer, to better understand my body.
She shared that while born and raised in Washington, D.C., her grandparents had struggled to leave the South, Rocky Mountain, N.C. so her Mom dealt with serious poverty during the “Great Depression” of the ‘30’s. She had one brother, Gilbert Mitchell, who was 8 years older than her. Because her Dad, left his wife, son and my Mom when she was only a year old, her brother ended up serving as her father figure. I believe, he must have been a good guy, who loved jazz, dressing dapper, who worked as a porter at the Supreme Court. It is from him that my Mom gained a positive perspective about men and parenting skills..
Sad, I don't know his first name, but this is My Mom's father, Mr. Mitchell.
Years later, her Dad came back to the family, just as mysteriously as he left. At the end of the week of his return, he passed out while walking with my Mom, and died that evening. Mommy shared with me, that she did forgive her Dad after he died, for abandoning her Mom and she often spoke about how forgiveness had taught her one of her most valuable lessons in her life, yet she also talked about the resentment she felt, in that she did not really know her father. and that she knew her Mom struggled.
On February 14, 1943, Doris became the wife of Morrie Ignatius Thomas, Jr., my Dad. He was a neighborhood, determined young man, who saw my Mom walking down the street and went home to his mother, and told her, that he had met his future wife. Mom shared that he pursued her assertively, with a determined, "you are the one" attitude. They married on Valentine’s Day, after a whirlwind 3 months courtship and they remained together for over 53-years, until his death. From their union, five children were born and two did not come to term. I was the 3rd born of this family.
World War II interrupted their new marriage, and when my Dad returned from his post in Europe, my Mom had, like her Mom, served as Mom and Dad to their first born, who was 3 years old by the time our Dad came back stateside. Dad returned home an alcoholic, traumatized from the death, destruction and racism he faced in the war.
Doris and Morrie were uniquely different, yet, they worked together despite their differences and many challenges, providing a loving, fun, creative and always exciting family life. So while my Dad, reminded me of "Papa was a Rolling Stone", who worked diligently at his government job for over 30 years, he partied just as hard. My Mom always reminded me of the song, "I'm Every Woman" because she was so vibrantly interested in so many things and pursuits. Since their interests were so at conflict, my Dad had the good sense to NOT curtail his Doris, who was not to be contained, like women often were at that time in the 30's- 50's. My amazing Mom would eventually achiever her dreams to be an actress, a writer and publisher of her poetry and plays; organized and directed a local theater company at age 65 that won national awards for over 25 years; danced, sang, modeled, went to Africa at age 84; and got an honorary PHD in Theater Arts. Not only was her volunteerism noted, but she won many other recognitions, along with being the comforter of so many.. Her bestowed African name "Mother Hajari Kendi, "queen mother of us all". was one such honor to her Spirit.
My Mom was a role-model for many-a Diva, a Queen and a counselor as a great friend
As Dad would be coming home from the after-hours club, Mom would be heading out to church, as it became clear they weren't "spiritually yoked".. She started out at a Baptist church, but left in turmoil and became a member of her catholic church in Southeast, Washington, D.C, the working-class side of the city. For 50-years, she served as a member of the solidarity and the choir. She loved her church home, but also would attend other spiritual and religious services always willing to seek “God” in many mansions". I loved that she went to a Buddhist Temple, a Mosque and services at the Nation of Islam, with me, as my spirituality expanded. My father, would only pray when encouraged over a meal, and never went to any religious services, but he would help many and this perhaps was his spiritual work..
More often than not, my Mom went her way and my Dad his, but we saw more of their unified actions as they worked through their many ups and downs, including her serious health challenge with breast cancer, than his illnesses, as he succumbed at age 62, to brain and prostrate cancer, HBP, obesity, gout and alcoholism. She had weathered his extra-marital affairs, too, and seemed not surprised when a 13 year-old, showed up at his funeral stating she was his daughter.
Seems my Dad had been seriously, abused as a child by his parents, and hurt people tend to hurt people, so my Mom, quietly put up with a lot of abuse from him, to keep our family together.. We were together on the outside but not whole on the inside.
Pictures on the wall of Mom's home of her and Dad
At age 26, a lot of my family’s history and emotional dysfunction came crashing down on me. I held my breath a lot, felt numb, disconnected from my body, and felt angry a lot and wasn’t clear about what I was angry about. I was serving as a counselor, during, social justice work and cultural activism and actually thought I was “pissed” about all of the racism, inequality, poverty and human rights abuses that I was confronting.
I started having a health crisis with an intrauterine device infecting my fallopian tubes and the walls of my breast thickened. I was scared that I was getting breast cancer, and went to the hospital for the required tests.
Then, I took myself into therapy to gain greater insight into why was I so unhappy in my home, with my husband, Damani, a man, similar to my Dad. He was a good man, who was also emotionally abusive because he would shut down, not talk for weeks to punish me, creating distance as he physically became absent in our relationship, With both of us dependent on substance abuse, I found myself seriously depressed...
I was also having issues with allowing myself to be sexual with him, despite having 2 sons. The therapist asked me, “did I think that I had been raped or sexually abused as a child”, to which I emphatically said “Oh no way”.but did tell him that my Dad made sexual and nasty remarks about me. As we talked, he helped me see how my substance abuse was an attempt to cope with anger and diagnosed that the mental health issue of depression, comes from anger that you turn on yourself. After that session, when Damani would "disconnect", I became angrier and the drinking and drugging increased. After 9 years, I left this marriage. Changing my mind-set, my habits, and the suppressed anger that I felt from emotional abuse, I believe helped stop the thickening walls in my breast, I did not incur cancer and I took more self-care time.
But, I continued to attract other disconnected, relationships, very much like the pattern I saw in my Mom and Dad and each time, I would attract a major illness. My gall bladder enlarged, almost burst and had to be removed with relationship No.2 that lasted close to 8 years; Then a small tumor was found in my breast, with my 3rd relationship, to a man, I married from another state, not knowing him well and whose troubled past haunted our lives for over 6 years during the “crack-cocaine” epidemic in D.C.
By now, I.m really into wholistic health, and have gained several certificates in various forms of “breathwork”. I realize now the correlation between emotions and health, so I do a deep dive into breathing, meditation, watched my anger, and worked with my diet. The tumor goes away, once I address how traumatized I felt chasing this man down, in “crack houses”, and being physically and verbally abused in the streets of our home-town. Then, my son Rashid was killed at age 17 (another story), and 2 years later, my Dad laid dying with brain cancer.
Again, I.m. depressed, angry beyond rage, and can barely breathe. The walls of my breast begin to thicken again, and I.m. told that I should consider some type of invasive treatment for the issue. Instead, I take a course, in 1996, in a different, breathing method, called conscious –connected breathing, and get certified as a Transformational Facilitator. This training uncovered and released all the stuck, suppressed emotional anger and subconscious memory of trauma stored within.
After 3 sessions, in which I kicked, screamed and fought off something, the 4th session revealed that I had been fighting off my Dad. I reclaimed the image of him coming into my bedroom after his evening work shift to touch my breasts, fondle me with hugs and kisses and put me on his private area to "ride" him up and down. The trauma of this behavior, for an 8 year old, who silently dealt with these sexual acts, until I was almost age 13 was too much for my young mind to handle, so my mind blocked them out on the conscious level to be stored as stuck energy on the sub-conscious level.
Yet, the trauma laid frozen in my neural pathways, showing up as numbness, anger, guilt and shame turned upon myself which lead to depression. I only felt stimulated and alive as I coped by drinking and drugging and I learned that energy never dies..
Sekou Ayo breathing away "stuck energy" in the heart and gut area.
This discovery at age 40 something, was life-changing for me, as I felt liberated, restored and transformed from years of held trauma, and I made a commitment to myself to keep up my own personal sessions. Thank God I discovered, conscious connected breathing, along with other breathing techniques, cathartic movements, release work, journaling and disconnecting from the negative energies around me, as all of these modalities sustained me to cope effectively with a succession of adversities within a 6 years span..
My first husband, Damani, who when we divorced, became one of my best friends., died at age 50, after a long illness connected with his years of substance abuse.
Then his mom, my mother-in-law and his dad, my father-in-law passed one month apart from each other. Because the deaths were so close together, there was no time to change legal paperwork, which cause mass confusion which eventually lead to the eviction from their house and eventual homelessness twice. Then, I dealt with incarceration of my second son; and the deaths of many of his friends.
I would later have to breathe through the untimely deaths of both my brothers and the divorce from my 2nd husband. By then, I was working and breathing with hundreds of thousands around the world on radio, t.v., in print and in private practice, using my own system of breath techniques, called Optimum Life Breathology (O.L.B.) which included conscious –connected breathing.
At this writing, I.have been addiction free now for over 25 years and in this time, have weathered the ups and downs of my 4th marriage with my addiction-free, husband John. I;.ve had no more breast concerns and no major health issues.
My other best friends, my sibblings, Donna, Maurice, Melvin, Maria and me
.I have also been able to forgive my Dad, who I don’t demonize, but had to be truthful to myself and to my community, that his emotional pain caused serious damage to me, and my family. I found out, that he also inappropriately touched and made sexual advances to other members of our family and to some of my friends. I started speaking on radio about my personal journey as I studied more about trauma and breathed more, gaining greater insights.
In the last years of my Mom’s life, I shared that I had been verbally, mentally and sexually abused by my Dad, her husband, just so I could be authentic and truthful to her during a family gathering. Somehow, the issues of sexual abuse and domestic violence was raised as the root concern of her breast cancer, my scares with breast cancer and my mental health concerns with chronic stress, depression and addiction.
Instead of "stuffing" it down and hiding it, this time, I shared the painful story.. My Mom’s eyes teared up, as she admitted that she often suspected that her husband had done “terrible things” to me, and to others, and she often questioned had she done enough to protect us, as she realized that 4 of her 5 children had, had difficulties with some sort of self-abuse with drugs and alcohol, along with relationship dysfunctions. She apologized for not doing all that she could, and described that in those days, within African American communities, there were many “hidden secrets” of sexual abuse; emotional, physical and mental acts of domestic violence; as well as all levels of child molestation. My Mom thanked me for going public with this issue and encouraged me to continue, even if it meant exposing our Dad’s reputation.
In her name, I continue to share my story and hers, so that the truth may set us all free, not only during the October month of Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence Awareness month, but as often as I.m. able to speak up for survivors, the voiceless and those who are seeking remedies for the emotional link to their health concerns. Every October, I thank my Mom, for giving me permission to share freely, as we are still saving lives, helping many become more than survivors, but “thrivers”..
Here is an article on the emotional link to breast cancer that I found very helpful, and felt that it should be shared
Breathology has taken us to 8 countries and 7 U.S.A. states. We have "breathed" with millions over the media changing lives, as people change how they breathe.
As I have continued to help millions on radio, t.v., in print and on stage as a Breathologist and Breathwork facilitator, presenter, and workshop leader, I have been so blessed to share my story of the connection between our breathing and our emotions, health; addictions, domestic violence, conflict resolution de-escalation and cultural, intergenerational, collective trauma. I share here, my personal story, to say, I.m. so thankful to the Creator for blessing me with a solution and a tool to open up suppressed emotional energy blocks before they become illnesses.
Through my wholistic service, PositivEnergyWorks, we offer on-line courses, certifications, on-line presentations and telehealth in Transcendence Breathwork and my signature O.L.B. system to also advance our healing with 60 or more, stress-related, oxygen deprivation, mental health disorders.
We encourage you to breathe better to live better as “the simplest thing we can do to make the most critical impact on our Spirits, Minds and Bodies". I share from experience and training, that "you must feel it to heal it". By simply changing our breathing to change our out-comes, we eliminate long-held, unconscious painful cellular memories that are emotionally and physically toxic. Using breathing as a self-care, tool is free, always available and accessible 24/7, so now, in the times we live in, we encourage you to Breathe Better to Live Better because there is “power in the breath”. Come breathe with us, to regain your power and PositivEnergy to become more than a “survivor” advancing as a “thriver”.
ATTEND her signature training course, WOMEN BREATH AWAY TRAUMA, REAWAKEN TO SELF-LOVE on October 16, 2021. Contact 202-667-2577 or visit: www.PositivEnergyWorks.com.
Ayo Handy-Kendi is an internationally renown, Certified Breathologist, Laughter Yoga Teacher/Leader with 50+ years of wholistic health, counseling and social justice experience; CEO/founder of PositivEnergyWorks, Optimum Life Breathology (O.L.B) and Black Love Day, Feb. 13. She is an author, speaker, workshop leader, cultural/spiritual facilitator and storyteller. She is a Wife, friend, partner, sound-healer/composer with John Davies 3 of Earth Love Tune-Up Crew (ELTUC) and Mother and Grandmother to 22 grands and 10 great-grands. She and John were born in D.C., currently living in Capitol Heights, Maryland with their 4 dogs. She is a survivor who is a “thriver”, who has breathed through childhood emotional abuse and sexual trauma; the death of her teen-aged son; the multiple deaths of many family members; homelessness; domestic violence; addictions and depression.
This blog is a personal outreach to the PositivEnergyWorks subscribers and our Breathologists family, Most likely, I will post this outreach to the public later., but we will see.
This is a direct appeal, as I.m. seeking the “right helpers” to help advance our "Breath Movement" which we launched 2 years ago. Now, I am seeking a team, willing to roll up their sleeves and breathe into a life-changing mission, whose time is NOW, due to the Covid pandemic. Now, more than ever, people are recognizing the critical importance of breathing, and are not taking it lightly or for granted as before. Now, more than ever, having optimum breathing can make the difference between a healthy immune system to offer prevention from the covid virus and other health challenges. And breathing techniques can even help persons who contact ill-health including covid, to help save their lives..
I need to get the word out and can’t do it with just my husband and myself any longer. We are at a milestone, in which we are close to certifying our 200th Optimum Life Breathologist and this course will be up-graded. Some others activities are in the wings, such as a breathing conference for 2022, And in 2023, Black Love Day will be 30 years young, so we will be connecting culture with health and breathing for best self-care.
A recent article in Harper's Bazaar spoke on “Breathwork” hitting the main-stream, and we want to catch the wave, as we have already seen its “awesome power”.
You see, I have years of presentation, workshop leader and training experience. I.ve been blessed to have presented before community based groups, non-profits, government agencies, churches, many schools, and some colleges and corporations.
I am now desiring to increase my engagements with colleges as I have inspired many young people as the founder of Optimum Life Breathology (O.L.B.) which teaches our system of breathing and oxygen principles and as the founder of Black Love Day - Feb. 13th, with this now 28 year message of self-love, reconciliation, atonement and celebration of Black Love, at a time when reconciliation efforts are expanding.
I am also blessed with 50+ years of experience in breath study and practice, as well as counseling, coaching, community organizing and cultural activism. I present and teach in many ways, but each presentation has the foundation of self-love through self-care as the root for peace - inner and outer using the breath to create that calm.
I believe, I.m. being motivated to bring my work more to young people because I have 22 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren who are challenged in distance learning, mask-wearing and all the restrictions Covid has presented. I’ve lost a teenage son to violence and I see a spike in violence among youth who could use breathology for “de-escalation” and conflict resolution. I believe young people want to "wake up" but seem stuck in their minds primarily due to the technology they absorb. They are missing their own self-help, self-care signals that their spiritual and physical bodies are telling them, because they are not "plugged into listening" to themselves, They must be re-taught how to re-connect.
So, P.E.W. breathshops like: "Relearn How to Breathe" is an excellent intro to gaining mastery over the fundamental 20,000 times a day, daily breath, optimizing what most of us inefficiently do (9 of 10 Americans breathe poorly putting their health at great risk). My "It's a Playshop" incorporates laughter yoga, breathing, moving and play, another way to effect in 20 minutes, an aerobic exercise and relaxation session all in one, that can also be transformative as a life-changer. "Breath Circles to Heal the Divides" provides a training program to support our self-love through self-care by addressing the "divides" through breathwork, breathology and transformative tolerance and release work. And last my original presentation, “The Power of the Breath”, gives a fast-paced, interactive demonstration of breathing techniques and theory, as to how efficient breathing changes our lives as we change our breathing, And in 2022, we will be offering breathshops for young people We can regain power, in so many ways, by experiencing the power of optimum breathing, as the simplest tool to support Spirit, Mind and Body..
My story performances teach through the visual approach to learning, how culture and health inter-connect. They further emphasize the belief that we heal, when we can experience and "feel". Most of these presentations include breathology techniques and transformative, oxygen related practices.
My work with breathology, increases focus; self-regulation, self-awareness, self-love; provides wellness, vitality, clarity, revitalization, rejuvenation and peak performance; reduces brain fog to aide in better decision-making; shifts consciousness towards inner peace; supports emotional and mental health issues like depression, anxiety, panic, anger and grief. Efficient breathing naturally; provides wellness, prevention and sustainability supporting and curing some 60 or more stress related disorders; revitalizes for healthier growth and aging, and offers improvement of every organ and system in our body to regulate blood pressure, obesity, asthma and immunity;
Because our work is quite unique but very effective, I usually do what I.m. doing here in this blog, explaining and helping providers figure out where this work fits.in. Offering customization of our work to the needs of the providers, is important for best delivery of breathology as a modality.
I have been sending inquiries to College Departments such as: African Studies, Black Studies, Sociology, Allied Health, Behavioral Health, Diversity and Inclusiveness, Orientation Week, Special Events, Commencement, Physical Education and Staff Training.
We are. also interested in working with groups, non-profits and progressive organizations that also work with younger people, students and/or who just want to up-grade the health and well-being of their staffs and constituents. Breathology is excellent for stress management in this time of chaos, ever-changing demands, and fear of the unknown.
So, my goal is to help humanity, especially People of Color, live their best life possible, which to me is a life of inner peace which reflects as outer peace. I share, teach and support wholistic approaches of self-care that advance the Spirit, Mind and Body, and breathing and other oxygen related practices have ancient to modern-day, proven-track records, to offer the quickest, simplest and most effective path of self-care, that affects the Spirit, Mind and Body.
While, I apologize for the long blog, you see, I’.m. sincerely passionate about this work, this solution and this tool, and I am determined to reach out to anyone and everyone, who will help us, help others, one breath at a time.
If you can catch my passion, and see yourself getting passionately involved, get back to me as soon as possible. Some work is volunteer and excellent for interns, while some of it is by commission, and some of it will be paid per hour. We need the following:
Schedulers to help solicit presentation engagements;
Editors of our videos;
Help with our YouTube channel;
Social Media support;
A Publicist to help promote our great work;
Graphic artists to make social media banners;
Administrative support for invoicing, accounting and correspondence;
Website management of our Weebly-hosted site so that it truly represents us.
PositivEnergyWorks (P.E.W.) services, since 2004, has impacted the lives of millions through private and group sessions, staged events, appearances on radio, TV, in publications and over the Internet. Now, just imagine, what we can do, with a team effort. Please consider joining us to help change the world, by helping them breathe better to live better to advance the “power of the breath and our PositivEnergy”.
So, here I am about to embark upon another decade of my life, and really counting my blessings, as I think of what makes me feel free, and what constitutes for me, real freedom.
I.m. sure when Frederick Douglas stated that question, "what to the slave is July 4th, the answer of what is freedom for those who had struggled to break the chains of enslavement, came from a place where "freedom" had been a long held desire for generations. Freedom was for the enslaved the right to live their life without harm, punishment, restrictions of their movements, and without fear. Freedom was the goal to enjoy life the way life is meant to be enjoyed - work for fair wages, marry who you want, life wherever you want to live, make personal decisions that benefit your own life and the life of your community. Freedom had a huge definition and many fought and died to achieve its goals.
But today, in 2021, freedom is showing up in our issue of racial equality still. It's our ability to walk our communities without fear again of being taken advantage of by a policeman or another community resident who has ill intent. Freedom shows up as an issue about our right to decide if we want to wear a mask or not. Or abort or keep a pregnancy. We demand that the government is over-extending and over-reaching of our personal freedoms, and yet, we have given the government broad decision making power that actually restricts our freedoms.. Seems pretty hypocritical but here we are struggling to maintain many of our personal freedoms.
In that perspective, I choose to stay unvaccinated, build my immune system naturally, continue to mask as needed, quarantine from my family as needed to protect myself and them, and continue to study for myself how I'm protecting myself and my community during the COVID challenges we face today. I decide based on research and not by accepting and swallowing everything I hear in mass media or from the CDC.
Well, on July 15, I will be 70 years young and I.m feeling very reflective of how today, I feel "FREE". My feeling of freedom comes quite clear at this moment where I.m very introspect of where I.ve come from and what I.ve come through. Many moments in these years, I have not always felt free.
But today, July 9th, I do feel free - free of worry; free from excessive debt. Even got a little money in the bank so feel some financial freedom as money comes to me freely as I give freely, with more gratitude of my abundance.
I feel free because I have a life-style that reflects my values, my passions and my sense of self-determination. I.m. able to move through my day freely, feeling this free sense of movement, where I see my daily objectives being met with no struggle or pressure from within or from outside of me..
I feel free from having "perfect" work to serve the Almighty and I get great "peace of mind" from my freedom knowing my purpose, as I see many struggling to know what they "came here to do to serve". I feel free because I choose to work for myself, so I decide when I want to work and when I don't.
I.m. free due to the choices that I intentionally made to marry my husband, my best friend, John. He, in our 21 years together, supports my need to be a "free-spirited woman" without a lot of "can't do's or should do's". He really has helped reinforce that aspect of "who I am."" where other men in my life did not. Yes, we have our moments, but I choose to work through them which makes me feel free to love unconditionally.
Further, I. feel free now because I have no "monkey's" on my back without any addictions to any substance, food, behavior or preference....I.m in total flow.. I have no pain, no health issues, no illnesses and no emotional concerns. and actually feel really good. And, in all humbleness, my joy in this area of my life, truly shows up on my face which is more relaxed and in my life, as I'm so much more relaxed than in the past.
Today, above all that i.ve stated, my personal freedom I believe comes from knowing what God (Allah) desires for my life, and i.m. listening and delivering. the best I can. I believe that this personal relationship with the Creator is stronger than it's ever been with my intuition flowing and my life in balance.
Do I want more - of course, but I.m very grateful and very content with what I have.
Thank You, Allah (God) for giving me 70 years to get it together. You saw in me that I was worthy, and today, I.m. free because I know that I.m. a blessed and humble child of the Almighty, being used for Divine purposes -- not mine, but the Divines. What a life with more yet to come because "Ayo means Joy" and I.m here to receive and give it, Ase
Springtime is here and it's time to breathe and rejuvenate after the cold, harsh winter days. Time to honor the earth, the air, and all of nature. After the Spring Equinox, we are blessed to see "mother nature" returning in all it's glory. We honor two commemorative events for April. World Breathing Day, April 11 and Earth Day, April 22, As a person, who has honored the 'breath" for over 50 years, I.m. truly excited about World Breathing Day and because of it's symbolism, I.m. proud to be serving again, on the World Breathing Day Working Group of the sponsored organization, International Breath Foundation (IBF). This is my 3rd year of being involved and as a person of color, I encourage us all to celebrate this day, because the stakes are high,
Although the year 2020 is behind us, in 2021 the COVID pandemic rages on, still putting a spotlight on breathing and breathing related issues - lung health, immunity, emotional/mental health and wellness.
For People of Color (P.O.C.) who have died more and gotten sicker during this pandemic, it is a sad reality, but we as a community have long shown disparities of ill health in these concerns. Years of health data shows we live sicker and die sooner than our white counterparts. We live near Cancer Alleys, near toxic waste dumps and in food desserts, limiting our choices of sustaining air and environmental nourishment. Marginalization keeps us in the feeling of “I can’t breathe” and Racism keeps us traumatized.
I believe that People of Color (P.O.C.’s) share the root challenges of “inequality” in so many areas of our lives that it affects our emotional stress moment to moment, which affects physical health. We manage our stressors by holding our breath excessively or over-breathing. Years of chronic stress in our lives, creates years of inefficient breath patterns that put our bodies at great risks to 60 or more stress related, oxygen deprivation imbalances.
And while we all say, we breathe, 9 of 10 Americans, breathe inefficiently. Most of us take the fundamental, daily breath for granted. Many can benefit from more oxygen and carbon dioxide release to maximize life, health and longevity.
As a wholistic practitioner and certified breathologitst, who has worked with the study of breath, culture and community for over 50 years, and who has served on the working group for World Breathing Day for 3 years, now, I am sharing with you the good news” about better breathing and the power of the breath. This tool was life-changing for me and will be for you too.
On April 11th, IBF and its’ global affiliates will be celebrate the 3rd annual World Breathing Day (WBD). "World Breathing Day is an annual global event instigated by the International Breathwork Foundation (IBF) that invites everyone to remember, experience and celebrate the healing and unifying power of breath"
The purpose of WBD is to spread the importance of breathing for all humanity and for the planet Because we all breathe, we all breathe the same air, WBD reminds us of the vital importance of clean air and of a clean and healthy environment for present and future generations"
The WBD slogan is "One breath, One World" In this 17thh year of fostering breath awareness and practice through the recognition of World Breathing Day (WBD) IBF is calling on you to JUST PAUSE THAT DAY AND BREATHE. Rejuvenate this day for the long spring and summer ahead and just because YOU CAN!!!
Here are some other things you can do in support of this special, inspiring day:
1. Invite your constituents, your audiences, or your listserv attendees to recognize WBD and to take part in it, in any way possible;
2. Share IBF promotional materials (press release and WBD logo}, which are indicated . And you can customize this invite;
3. Invite viewership and engagement to IBF’s 24-hour international WBD event taking place on April 11th.
4. Make your own 30 second, WBD videos, written promotions or artistic expressions that address the critical importance of better breathing (please attach the IBF WBD logo to it as you share it) ;
5. Send IBF documentation of your WBD videos, pictures, testimonies, etc. and they will be posted on our website for sharing the excitement that WBD generates;
6. Be creative in using WBD as an opportunity to change people’s lives as we help them change their breathing.
SAY YES TO THIS INVITATION to celebrate the spring by joining in the celebration on WBD, April 11, so you can help change many outcomes. in your life and in others.
To participate in the free 24-hour online World Breathing Day event, sign up at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/world-breathing-day-tickets-144437316903
View speakers and schedule information:
Join us on facebook for the lastest updates: www.facebook.com/groups/worldbreathingday
For additional information, contact the International Breathwork Foundation (IBF). Contact: worldbreathingday.earth - email@example.com
From our conscious breath to yours, Ayo Handy-Kendi, The Breath Sekou, IBF & World Breathing Day Group Member, CEO, PositivEnergyWorks, founder, Black Love Day, Feb. 13.
YOU ARE INVITED ON WORLD BREATHING DAY, APRIL 11 to stop by our website, www.PositivEnergyWorks.com for several new “relearn how to breathe” videos, and tutorials
Stacy M. BrownWomen's Suffrage Movement Pestilences Among Obstacles Endured By Black Women of Suffrage Movement
By Stacy M. Brown
EXCERPT FROM THE WASHINGTON INFORMER. Please Subscribe to D.C.'s Premiere Local Newspaper
This is part of an ongoing Washington Informer series about the Women’s Suffrage Movement and an initiative that includes Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes that will use the lens of history, the fabric of art and culture and the venue of the public square to shine a light into dark places, equipping all with a compass to chart the way forward. The initiative lives in the institutional home of the Washington Informer Charities.
The coronavirus pandemic comes on the heels of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment that gave women in America the right to vote — fitting, since the women’s suffrage movement began by having to not only overcome opposition but pestilences.
One such disease was the typhus epidemic that hit the U.S. hard. That disease claimed 20,000 lives between 1847 and 1852.
By 1920, suffragists had to also deal with the Encephalitis lethargica pandemic, which killed 1.5 million people worldwide, and just two years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the Spanish flu wreaked havoc on the world, causing an estimated 100 million deaths between 1918 and 1920.
For suffragists, pestilences were just another obstacle, particularly for Black women. Women such as Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Maria W. Stewart, Henrietta Purvis, Harriet Forten Purvis, Sarah Redmond and Mary Ann Shadd Cary endured racism, sexism and, like the rest of the world, the onslaught of deadly viruses.
Yet they remained committed to fighting for women’s rights, and during the antebellum period, each was actively involved in advocating for women’s rights and suffrage.
According to an essay written by Sharon Harley for the National Park Service, following the 1848 women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, prominent free Black women abolitionists and suffragists attended, spoke, and assumed leadership positions at multiple women’s rights gatherings throughout the 1850s and 1860s.
In 1851, former slave Sojourner Truth delivered her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech at the national women’s rights convention in Akron, Ohio. Sarah Remond and her brother Charles won wide acclaim for their pro-woman suffrage speeches at the 1858 National Woman’s Rights Convention in New York City.
“Like white suffragists, African American women linked suffrage to a multitude of political and economic issues to further their cause and engaged in multiple strategies to secure women’s political and voting rights within and outside the organized suffrage movement,” Harley wrote. “At the same time, they combatted anti-Black discrimination in the southern United States and within the predominantly white national woman suffrage organizations.”
As preparations to observe the ratification of the 19th century likely will stall because of the coronavirus, many may note the various pestilences, disease and other obstacles that faced all in the original suffrage movement.
“Historians are relatively silent about the relationship between state-level women’s suffrage laws and local hygiene campaigns,” Grant Miller wrote for the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.Check out the new feature
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August IS African Heritage Month and this August, 2020, we are changing our focus.
PositivEnergyWorks connects health with culture and this month let's look at your health from that perspective....Let's change our legacy by changing our old conditioned responses, biases, and heightened fears that tense us, bringing our stress up and our health down.
Let's look at what changes, we can make, even, if just a little. Clearly, our health is our responsibility. You may live in a food desert, but you can make the simple choice of not buying empty-nutrient, sugary sweet, pastry daily, right?
So, here at PositivEnergyWorks, I am changing our focus so that we can better help us all work on our conditioned responses.
For many years, I.ve focused on generalized breathing applications but, I.m. now re-focusing my efforts on what I know will maximize our health. I.ve been studying it, speaking on it, and writing about it....racism is at the root of the stress related dis-orders, affecting all of our health.
Join me in my new focus of offering solutions for stress management through breathology/breathwork applications for race-based trauma release with tools to un-pack un-conscious bias. We are also shifting away from coaching to group training and certifications. Last, due to Covid-19, all of our services/presentations are VIRTUAL now, until further notice.
In this month of August, as we honor our Ancestors, I truly affirm that this shift in my work, will be pleasing to their legacy. Join me on August 22, in my introduction to Breath Circles for Racial, Diversity and Gender Healing. let's allow the truth to set us all free - that racism is a sickness and that we must heal it to be free of our greatest "stressor".
His name was George Floyd. He was a black man who was murdered in front of young people, passer-by's, and the whole world, as the videos of his murder, taken by two of courageous people , quickly went viral.
Mr. Floyd was killed by a policeman, who put his knee on his neck, choking him as he is laying face-down, so that he could not breathe. This policemen didn't care about the risk of this military tactic that he had been taught. Other police are seen holding his legs and his back. And even as Mr. Floyd was barely able to say repeatedly, “I can’t breathe” and pleaded that he was about to die, he was ignored by the police. As the officer, continues to hold him down long after the brother appears unconscious, I began to cry, as I felt his life force slip away....
A review of a N.Y. times scene recreation, indicates Mr. Floyd said "I can't breathe 16 times".
If you watch the video, it looked exactly what it was – a murder before the world’s eyes, in broad day-light. It was so hard to believe, that I made myself watch, hoping that it wasn’t real, hopping that what I was looking at was a stunt or something, but knowing in my heart….the sickening reality --that here was another Black man whose cries, "I can't breathe" was ignored, whose life thereby ended with no compassion,and no sense of dignity for a fellow human being.
I.m. so hurt, tired, angry --sick and tired of being sick and tired -- of seeing the ways in which our Black Lives seem as if we are nothing. As if we don't matter. Not only have we lost another black man in our community,,,some ones father, some ones brother or uncle....we have again lost some of our selves due to the stress and collective shock/trauma that this video will have reminding us again of our fragile lives living with racism. Our consciousness of pain, hurt, anger, and rage boils again...the tension, the trauma affects our very DNA on deep cellular levels...we hold our breath and our cells die a little bit with each death in our community.
Unborn babies feel the traumatic impact. We must breathe again to keep going...we dealing with Covid and the health disparities, survival issues. However, we must stand up and say enough....I don't know about you but I.m. sick and tired of being sick and tired. I.m. in prayer, listening as to what to do....with my pain. I.m. holding my own breath I.m. so shaken as protests take the streets, and each day, as more demand justice for Mr. Floyd, we see even more violence from the police. Then, lots of violence from agent provocateurs, who weave in and out of the protestors, using every opportunity for mayhem and chaos. I see them recklessly busting windows, burning, spray painting and taking over buildings that just don't seem related at all to Mr. Floyd's death..... Smoke fills the skies as whole blocks burn in many major cities and now, many others can't breathe, chocking in the night....
I have had to really process my grief over watching Mr. Floyd murdered in broad daylight on video. I.m. sad, angry, frustrated, grieving for Mr. Floyd and for his family. I.m. sick and tired of feeling sick and tired at the way Black folk been treated for over 400 years, with somebodies "KNEE on us, making it almost and at times impossible for us to BREATHE". II have been in the movement for liberation and freedom since 1970 and despite how agonized I feel most of the time, I keep fighting through my emotions and continue to put them into action steps to make a difference. When I shift my feelings into constructive action, I stand in alignment with the Harriot Tubman's and Malcolm X's and a huge list of revolutionaries, activists, historians, teachers and "just everyday folk" who keep standing up for humanity demanding equality.
Warning: Graphic violence and language, and truth.
Because my study has shown them, and me that racism is a pandemic, an illness, a conditioned learned behavior and a system of power. It's system is at the root of every institution in our society and is being passed on through our conditioned responses, reactions and cellular, inter generational memories. It will continue until people change and the change has to be on deep, sub-conscious levels, below the surface behavior, where the conditioned responses begin in order to see real and permanent change , not just when we are activated by incidents or out of sympathy. Racism serves a huge purpose that perpetuates power, and unless the power mongers go deep to change, we will see the institution of racism continue to serve them, and shackle humanity.
My work has focused on helping people "wake-up" from this conditioning by impacting the sub-conscious mind for new programming and new behavior, so that this sickness of racism is no longer perpetrated nor passed on to more children, thereby to generations. Malcolm X stated in the 70's that we could have done more "in the struggle" for liberation in the '60's if more people would "wake-up" to realized that they were NOT FREE.
Sad as Mr. Floyd's murder is, the consequences is that it is re-awakening many who must actively involve themselves in creating freedom through equality and humanity, through the act of acting human. Those who thought we had a color-blind society just because Obama was elected must be awakened. Those who think their good job with co-workers who don't look like them, means they are equal, yet they must be awakened. Those of us who get lost in materialism, obtaining for the sake of keeping up, who will buy clothing, food or designer labels even when no money comes back into our community and the corporations or designer mocks us -- they must be awakened. Those of us, who are filled with so much rage against "the man", but who take it out on their brothers and sisters in their own community, instead of focusing on the real target --- MUST BE AWAKENED too, from centuries of passive conditioning, pain, trauma and oppression. For those communities that are non-black, who are out-raged but don't know what to do, they must be awakened to go deep into their own sense of white entitlement, privilege, denial and un-conscious racist behavior to question what they must learn to be a better supporter for communities of color.
Yes. we all got a lot of work to do. It starts with each of us, waking up to understand what racism really is, and deciding what are we going to do to take some responsibility, to make a difference to CHANGE. Things have got to change.
Why WE NEED TO RE-LEARN HOW TO BREATHE - COVID IS KILLING BLACK, BROWN, POOR & WORKING CLASS PEOPLE
By Ayo Handy-Kendi, the Breath Sekou
Preliminary research has shown a spike of deaths in Black, Brown, poor and working-class communities due to the COVID-19 virus. Extremely sad, but not surprising, to Ayo Handy-Kendi, a Certified Breathologist, Laughter Yoga Teacher, and wholistic practioner with 50+ years of study and practice, who has studied and written about this issue for years. She is advocating a simple solution - use breathology techniques now to support persons infected with COVID 19 and to build immune systems for prevention.
She explains, "African Americans, and other melaninated people were already disproportionately living sicker and dying sooner than their white counter parts. High blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, strokes, certain cancers, obesity, stress, depression, addiction -- all imbalances that affect communities of color and working class people. These diseases, so-called imbalances, have their root beginning from poor breathing affecting limited oxygen up-take. Now, it's covid-19 further straining the poor health of people already diminished physically, and emotionally with Black people dying due to their under-lying conditions, exacerbated by this virus."
Her work and research is documented in her book, "Applied Breathology", in several DVD's and CD's and in her lectures and demonstrations, on and off line. She elaborates, " Racism and classism, play a big part in health imbalances.. Marginalization, poverty, fear and stress, are issues many of us face daily. The common thread, my research has found, is that we restrict the breathing due to these concerns. When we are in fear we hold our breath and restrict our oxygen. When we are stressed, we hold our breath or over-breathe. When we live in over-polluted, environments of limited oxygen, we breathe dirty, polluted air.:"
"But every time we hold our breath due to stress or pain, or just because we've developed restricted breathing habits, consciously or un-consciously, or we breathe in toxins- man-made chemical waste or environmental by-products - we are putting our health at great risks due to the challenges on our oxygen for our respiratory system's ability to function best.".
Sekou Ayo's studies have documented that 60 or more stress-related, oxygen deprivation disorders, i.e., high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, stroke, heart disease, asthma, obesity, depression, anxiety and more, can be positively impacted by efficient breathing techniques, such as deep breathing, box breath or cleansing breaths. Deep breathing is an efficient breath technique that fundamentally provides all of the benefits of optimum oxygen as "the" critical nutrition to feed, revitalize and detoxify our cells. Breath is life and with limited breath, we exhibit limited life, yet with optimum breathing, we have optimum life, health, and longevity. Her system, O.L.B., also addresses how to increase oxygen in our life and behavior in simple, cost-efficient ways.
"Yes, we need data to validate whose afflicted and dying of covid-19, but will this data change institutionalized racism or the class privileges of a few, once we find out what many already know? Most of our "essential workers" on the front line of this challenge are black, brown, poor and working class. Will research data point the way to change the disproportionate health issues for many who are on the front-line, to support our communities, now being further challenged by covid-19?."
"My goodness, don't we need to just "pause" and breathe while many, right now, are struggling to breathe; ill and hurting; holding their breath out of stress, fear, worry, concern, grief and trauma. Too many have already given up on life, and have little emotional or physical reserve to fight back a covid19 illness. Is data the priority now or is changing how we look at things, so that the things, we look at can change - really the recipe to save more from dying and prevent more from illness, now and beyond.
Now more than ever with the grief, stress, illness and deaths, we all need to breathe, build our immune system, and use breathology techniques to increase the oxygen meal, as the #1 nutrient".
"Self-care is our greatest protection. We must master the breath, to master life and "the moment" in which we find ourselves - pandemics, crises, disorganized governments, life on hold, uncertainty about the future, hazards to the natural health, environmental catastrophes and more".
"We take breathing for granted, until we can't breathe. But breath is life, and to truly live a full life, we must breathe fully, every 20,000 breaths a day. Yet, 8 of 10 people breathe inefficiently, the reason for more than 60 or more imbalances that most consider dis-eases. Now, more than ever, we need to "relearn how to breathe".
Sekou Ayo Handy-Kendi, has been teaching a system of breath training called Optimum Life Breathology (O.L.B.) since 2004, to help people "relearn how to breathe" and how to use 10 other breathing techniques and 4 practices to act as a self-care, prevention and conscious-raising tool. She has certified over 140 Breathologists in O.L.B., in 7 states, exposed her system in over 9 countries of which 4 are African, and has, "breathed" with millions on radio, t.v., in print, on stage, over the internet and in private and group practice.
Notably, she has been featured on "Steve Harvey's Morning Show" on radio and syndicated on his t.v. program. She was recently featured as one of the 40 breath experts on the Shift Network's "Breath Summit" and as a presenter on the 24 hour event for World Breathing Day (WBD), April 11, that was sponsored by the International Breathwork Foundation (IBF)
Today, through PositivEnergyWorks (P.E.W.) her company, she now offers ON-LINE breath training, classes, events wholistic tele-health services, a weekly Webcast called "BreathShops On-Line", and a new series, called One Minute Breath Breaks. She is also re-starting her popular "Sage-ing Baby Boomers Show" for those age 50+ and those who love them" to provide breathing and wholistic health programming for an aging population worldwide, particularly offering special highlights, for those seniors living in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. (D.C. being her home-town).
Sekou Ayo concludes, " At age 68, I've been in the leadership of many movements - social justice, million people marches, human rights, equal rights, buy black/empowerment, african-centered education, stop violence campaigns, gender equality and diversity/racial healing as the founder of Black Love Day, Feb. 13th,created in 1993. I.ve been practicing breathing in some form, since 1970 and I.m one of a few Black folk who has studied, practiced, written about, and witnessed many testimonies, along with my own, on how breathing changed my life. Therefore, for the last 10 years, I.ve been spear-heading a BREATH MOVEMENT.
"I continue to make this statement, now validated by many doctors, health experts and practitioners who have studied the Ancient medical records and today's modern-day, evidenced-based science, to come to the same conclusion. "Breathing is the simplest technique that we can learn, to offer the greatest benefit to our Spirit, Mind and Body. It is always available, accessible 24/7 right under our noses, is FREE and critically effective. Everything that has life, has breath, and to breathe optimally, enables us to live optimally. Optimum breathing is self-care, healing, preventive and emotionally stabilizing. We should be focusing on changing the way we breathe to change our lives, now during this Covid-19 challenge and beyond".
Ayo Handy-Kendi is reknown as the Breath Sekou, which means in the Guinea language "a master teacher". She has worked with breath techniques for over 50 years and loves teaching "the power of the breath". She has created a system called Optimum Life Breathology (O.L.B.) which teaches 12 common breath techniques with 4 breath practices. As a Wholistic Practitioner she incorporates sound healing, laughter yoga, Reiki, healing touch, movement, behavior modification and stress management and oxygen concepts, such as water hydrotherapy, Aroma-therapy, nutrition, into her trainings.She is creating a "breath movement" to wake people up to their joy and positivenergy with the belief that when you breathe better, you live better. She is also known as Mama Ayo, when sharing cultural presentations or performing as a storyteller, actor, author or speaker. She is the founder of Black Love Day, Feb. 13, the Ritual of Reconciliation, founder/director, African American Holiday Association (AAHA) and founder/CEO, PositivEnergyWorks.