It's hard to believe that it's been 6 months since I have spoken to the positive people on this list serve. I’ve had to grow, glow, shift from a deep depression, and then climb out and then next moment, repeat the same steps. It's been a ride, just like on a roller coaster, up and down, around and around. Today, I affirm that I.m. back AND I am not holding my breath. But thanks to the Creator, I.m. still breathing through my grief, and taking it one day, one hour, one minute, one second at a time and this is how I.m. pushing through grief, to heal the feelings.
,I've read a lot about grief. As a degreed counselor, I.ve had to listen to many people share their grief with me. I.ve held their hands, hugged them while crying hysterically, and have stood at gravesites of sisters who have lost their sons, and breathed with them to calm them down to not jump into the grave out of grief. I.m also, not a personal stranger to grief. I've had to deal with the loss of several pets as a child; my 17 year old son, Rashid; my 1st husband, Damani; his parents who transitioned 1 month to 2 months respectively after him; his grandmother; my father; then my brothers Melvin and Maurice, both leaving from serious unexpected circumstances. After several years of care taking, my mother transitioned at age 92 and I heard her take her last breath at her home. My sisters and I organized her home-going celebration based on her wishes, and it was a true celebration of her life. She is not the only person, that I.ve shared the last breath with, and it is quite an honor to be an assistant in this process of "dying", just like it's amazing, to help birth a baby as they take their first "living" breath.
I lost count of how many associates, that I knew, who crossed over from COVID. Then, in 2021-22, I experienced my Sistah-friend's daughter's transition, then my nephew, Michael, then John, my husband of 22 years.
You would think that you get used to the fact, that we are all going to go down this road, someday. For some, sooner than others, but eventually this is our destiny. So, as I handled John's memorial services, then his ascension service, similar to taking care of my mother's final affairs, I noticed something about me.
Here I was, handling all of the phone calls, unannounced visits, social media exchanges and blessings of support in every way - flowers, money, plants, sea-moss, and an amazing blessing in which my yard was totally transformed, yet, I found myself, taking care of the business of "putting away the dead", but NOT attending to me and my true feelings. I "numbed" them by holding my breath. I pulled out my "ole" happy pipe to smoke away the pain, as this addictive behavior, had been my coping support, off and on, for over 40 years. But in the last stressful, 2 years I had quit, again.. Now, my emotions were upside down, turned around and I was spinning like a top. My empathetic self felt overwhelmed and burnt-out.
Then, several family members came at me for the "things" of our life, and the sense of disappointment and betrayal, was soooo painful, that it ripped at my soul. My person, said to me, "time to slow everything down and "just allow yourself to dwell in your feelings". But the final blow, that bought me to the door of deep depression, was that my son, got arrested and detained. Aw man, I said to myself, "what next?"
I spoke to the emptiness of not having my husband, friend and partner around. I spoke to the disconnection that had been created in the family and got so angry as this hurt felt like I had been beaten up. When I couldn't believe what I was facing, my depression sunk in deeper and I turned on the t.v. As I sat in front of the t.v., staring at Netflix and Amazon Prime trailers, spending more than an hour, attempting to find a movie that would not make me think of how low I was feeling, it came to me that I was "disassociating" from my real feelings. I was getting into the movie version of other people's lives and problems, and not attending to mine. Disassociation, merely distracts our attention, and prolongs our getting to the bottom of our real concerns.
But, I knew about this.....isn't this what I usually share with my clients?
How often have I said to them, "what you resist, persists".
So, I stopped resisting, my "blues"'. and instead accepted that I felt crappy and didn't desire to feel my usual joy. I looked at a whole lot of movies, that reminded me of all of my situations, my feelings and I just cried and cried, until I couldn't. And I let the phone messages go unanswered, as I decided that it was best not to work, so I simply breathed with ME.
I faciliitated my own "transcendence breathwork" session on me, where I screamed, kicked, tore at my clothes, shook uncontrollably and breathed in a connected way for over 45 minutes. John and I had developed this practice, having watched the way Africans, Middle Easterners and Indigenous people more often than we in the West, allow their pain to show and release, in very dramatic, expressive ways. Boy, did I release some "stuff" in that session.
Well, after a month and 1/2, as I kept focusing on my breathing and my crazy movies, I got tired of being "sick and tired". The clouds began to lift. I cleared the message unit. I pushed myself to work with several of my contracts. I got up, turned myself around and started anew. Turned the distractions off. Pulled out my "Breathe and Stop Smoking Naturally Pamphlet", and started the process of detoxing again. And I just breathed, and the breath shifted and elevated my Spirit to forgive all whom I felt had hurt me.
Since, I started "rising", like the phoenix from the ashes, I've been able to envision new breathshops and new directions for PositivEnergyWorks. Check out the Up-Coming Events section https://www.positivenergyworks.com/up-coming-events.html of our website to see the wonderful activities that I.ve come back to involve myself in.
I thank all of you who have been here for me and mine. I love you so. Your support and patience, will never be forgotten. Thanks to the Most High and the breath of life, we are given......I'M BACK.
"Good Day" is the greeting John taught me and this became "our" daily acknowledgement for a new day. He also would greet me with "Happy Black Love Day", so I.m. using both these greetings, as I speak to you, while remembering him.
Some of you may already know of John's transition on Sunday, April 10, while for others, this may be the first time that you have heard.
This is perhaps, one of the hardest announcement that I have had to make. I.m. so apologetic to announce it via email, but his passing was not expected, and it has taken me this amount of time to process it, and plan a ceremony fitting for the extraordinary person that he "is".
John practiced his spiritual walk in many ways and he was truly a non-traditional person, whose unique life was filled with creativity, and never dull. I.m. so grateful that we had 22 years of marriage, partnership and community-building together. Many of you have been a part of our life in some special way.
John and I have been on a healing journey, since 2018, and I believe, in the week of April 5- 10, 2022, he made a conscious decision to go "home" by stopping many of the healing protocols we had been successfully using. "He did it his way", and passed away suddenly, at our home. It has been hard to process, however, I.m. grateful that he is now an Ancestor, free of ill-health and the many aspects that healing, brings into your life. Doctors, hospitals, lab tests, surgery and discomfort, were extremely difficult for him, as he had not had to deal with these things, most of his very healthy life.
John was quite a private person, so now, he is free.
Knowing, so many people, it has been overwhelming to individually reach out to everyone, which is what I attempted to do, at first. I affirm that you will understand, why eventually, I had to email the announcement and then go to social media.
Processing the passing of a loved one is not easy. You end up dealing with other people's emotions, who are still grieving, so it.s challenging to get to your own grief as you share your story. There has also been an outpouring of support, and while grateful, it's just a lot of energy that you have to absorb. Thank Allah, for the breath, as I.m. truly breathing through this time, and it has helped me sooooo much. I again thank everyone, for their kind words and sincere gestures. I.ve heard the statement over and over, "sorry for your loss", so I.ve replied, "John is not lost, really he is quite present in Spirit now, and my newest Ancestor".
I.m. grateful that he is free of his "worn" body and my Angel in life, is now my Angel on high. One day at a time, we are ascending higher. Always sending you our Black Love. Ase
It's 23 days into the new year, 2022, and I.m. so grateful that I made it through 2021, especially the end of the year. Always a challenge, the end of the year with it's holiday messages of "be merry" and "get and give the perfect gift", don't elevate me, but make me depressed. I admit this to you, my community and stand authentically, to say, "thank God, I made it through another year-end holiday season, intact, because I followed my feelings and accepted my low feelings and just allowed them. I didn't push away the feelings of being depressed, but instead just flowed with the flow of them...the ups and downs; the missing my grands due to the quarantine; and celebrated only when I really felt up to it. That meant missing my beloved Kwanzaa events, which I rarely do, but in 2021, I didn't even put up my Kwanzaa rituals table. Nope, just didn't feel like it.
So, come New Year's day, when I didn't get not one call from my son or grands, in our customary "Happy New Year's greeting", I instead did my own tradition. At 12 midnight, while my husband slept, I was on my knees, thanking the Creator for making a way out of no way in 2021. Thanking the Creator for keeping me safe and healthy. Giving praise for just the many blessings that I DO HAVE. And I cried for those who lost loved ones and I thought of how much I missed my Mom, who loved to sit and watch the fireworks to mark the start of the new year. I turned on the t.v. and watched the firework displays from around the world and felt good, like WE were watching them, as we had done many a year. Then, I put on a pot of Black-eyed peas, a Black people's end of year tradition, but don't know why, but did it with the affirmation, that "this will bless my household and bring us great luck in the new year. By 2:00 a.m. I was asleep.
Well, this was my end of year and the beginning of my new year. New Year's Day, I sat around and had a "movie marathon", I call it. I didn't again tune into the Zoom, last day Kwanzaa event that I love and customarily do. I honored that I just didn't feel like it. I also usually write my resolutions for the year. Instead, I read an article that spoke about the low value that we give to these resolutions to ourselves. The article suggested we come up with a word that would be our affirmation or our mantra for our new year. I reflected in meditation and breathed slowly, and the word came up in my consciousness - EXPANSION.
I started chanting, "in 2022, it's time to EXPAND YOU". This affirmation made such sense to me and I vibrated with anticipation. You see, I.ve been in a COVID self-quarantine lock-down since March, 2019.. I.ve missed my grand-children's birthday parties and events, friends gatherings, and special events. When I do go out, I mask up and do social distancing seriously, to go grocery shopping or go to the bank. In December, I actually allowed myself to go get medical examines and actually ventured out to the funerals of my favorite, Aunt Audrey, and Cousin Langston.
I’m not alone in my self-quarantine. I found out that many other unvaccinated people, have found this to be the way to cope with these COVID times we live in. I'm not trying to get vaccinated with what is being offered, and I.m. not getting infected by hanging out in crowds, small or large, therefore, I stay at home, build my immune system and take my Pax Immune for protection when I go out. . I'.m. not advocating for no one but myself, but I.ve been fine with this, don't have any feelings of COVID burn-out and actually have gotten a lot done. The cold, snowy weather in the D.M.V. has made it quite comfortable to "cocoon" in, but something started stirring within me.
But, when Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday rolled around mid-January, and I was still having movie marathons- Dr. King and Sydney Poitier movies - I knew, it was time to shake myself back from all of this isolation. How am I gonna expand, if I don't get moving?. And so I picked myself up, and dusted myself off, and started all over again, with the refrain - EXPANSION. How can I expand in a time of isolation? What do I need to do to be a better expanded me? How can I EXPAND to the heights I truly am inspired to go?
Breathing more; Moving more; Cleaning up more of my clutter; More quality time with myself in self-reflection; More quality time with the people I love, on the phone or zooming; Walking my dogs and training them; Saying "no" to the things I really don't want to do and being intentional in my own planning towards the things that inspire me; Expanding my self-care as my self-love, accepting that I must take care of me, before caring for anyone else. Really taking all those vitamins and fixing new menus, trying out never tasted foods. Going to bed and taking a day-time nap to feel refreshed when I awaken at 4 a.m. Putting on nice clothes just to lift my Spirit. Expanding my creativity; Working smarter, not harder for more creative time; Expanding my efforts by creating a team. Completing some projects that are calling me to complete them and expanding into some ventures that have been "down-loaded" into my consciousness.
As we come into February, 2022, I.m. "waking up" to EXPAND. As the song says, "this girl is on fire". Come expand with me, if you too are ready in 2022 to Expand YOU.
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org
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
on our website!
Please visit our Black Experience Channel at:
Like The Washington Informer on Facebook!
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.