September: Suicide Prevention Month

My my my, these statistics are startling:

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As I began my research for this month’s She Lifts Podcast series, I found these statistics hard to digest.  What is worse is the fact that this doesn’t truly capture all of the suicides in the US.  The stigma surrounding mental health and suicide (which are not always synonymous) typically deters people from reporting it.  There are families who cover up the cause of death if it resulted from suicide to uphold an appearance.

This has got to end.  We HAVE to talk about it.  Losing just one more person to suicide is one too many.  There are a ton of resources for people who are experiencing a rouhg time, no matter what the cause is.  Occassionally, the cause is clear — break up/divorce, assault or even loss of a job or loved one.  However, there a tons of other underlying reasons for suicide and suicidal thoughts and ideations including mental health disorders and certain medications.  There are trained professionals who are passionate about assisting to sift through the dust and help you find the answers.

One thing for sure – suicide is not the answer.

If you know someone who may be suicidal or who has even attempted suicide in the past, has a history of self-harm, is a danger to him/herself or others, or is simply experiencing a rough time coping with life changes, please check out the resources section on this site.  Of course, if they are in danger or danger to others, alert your local law enforcement immediately.  This page is updated periodically.  If there is a resource in your community or anything that may be missing, please submit it here for update:

As a part of your community, we all have a responsibility to one another to watch over, assist and guide.  No one person is journeying thorugh life alone.

Today, I charge you to search your heart for the compassion and kindness that it takes to rebuild from brokenness.  It is time to stop worrying about what others may think or say and focus on healing and love.

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Suicide can be prevented if we all do our part.

Love & Light, Fam!

Principal William “Roc” Haith

Fam!!!! Woo!!!! Like seriously, with each interview I am afforded the opportunity to get to know people that I thought I already knew.

This week’s interview was FIRE and right on time for back to school season.  I was granted backstage access to the one person who’s office you NEVER want to see in school, the principal!! William “Roc” Haith is the Principal at Anacostia High School in Washington, DC. I had the honor and privilege of sitting down with him and discussing the importance of male role models in schools and being a student athlete.

William Haith is currently serving his native community as Principal at Anacostia High School.  He has been educating for 15 years, five of which have been spent in leadership.  While both levels of engagement have been rewarding, Haith prefers leadership and embraces innovative and creative leadership.  He has developed himself as a leader who challenges teachers who can stretch their mindset, noting that the priority is to educate the WHOLE child.

He has a strong foothold in transitioning the fixed mindset to the growth mindset.  He finds this to be supremely important, especially in the vein of educating the child as a whole.  This includes the social and emotional learning aspect and trauma informed instruction which speaks to the forces external of the learning environment that have a major impact on the child.  The transition between these two mindsets begins with the first step in Kotter’s 8 Steps of Change Management – Communicate the Urgency.  Haith believes that by presenting the data that creates a sense of urgency he can assist his team members to really get on board with the transition into a renewed mindset.

William Haith actually had no intent to teach or to take on a leadership role within the school system.  His journey began as a football coach at the high school level.  Through interactions with students and the influence that he was having on them, he desired to take it to the next level.  He took a position as a substitute teacher and found himself inspired by the impact he had on students, both on the field and in the classroom.

This inspiration led to a fulfilling career as an educator and as a leader. Haith stressed the importance of putting the student before the athlete. He believes that there is a firm balance between the discipline and commitment in academics and sports, however, performance in the classroom is a prerequisite to performance on the field or court. There is also a level of sacrifice that must be observed. Haith mentioned a quote from “The Great Debaters” (2007) where James Farmer Jr., played by Denzel Whitaker, stated:

“We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do”

William Haith’s athletic background is very diverse. His expertise and experience make him an excellent role model for student athletes and aspiring professional athletes. Following college football, he became an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins. He went on to play football in both the CFL (Canadian Football League) and the AFL (Arena Football League).

William Haith is a natural born leader, no question that he would excel in his position as principal. He is committed to closing the achievement gap at Anacostia High School through comprehensive teamwork.

Haith and I discussed male role models to which he stated that they are not only a necessity in schools for males but also for females as well. He stated that students require a person whom they can trust with vulnerable information in exchange for guidance. Haith knows that he and his faculty have young impressionable eyes on them at all times and they ensure that they always model the same behaviors and courtesies they expect from the students.

Haith is an innovative leader with his sights set on student engagement. I asked him about his ideas for giving students a voice. He is already implementing ways for the students to be a part of the processes at Anacostia High School. He believes that when you collaborate with the students around their needs you will receive more support from the students. He has received tremendous feedback from this approach.

I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with William “Roc” Haith! Catch the audio of our interview on She Lifts Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud!!!

Thanks for putting your ears on it!!

Love & Light, Fam!

Self-Care: How do you care for yourself?

I struggled with this for a long time.  I try my hardest to be a selfless person.  I didn’t realize that I was standing in my own way and that self-care was far less an issue of selfishness and much more a necessity.

I began asking myself, what do I like to do?  The answer to this question seemed to always involve another person, or the role that I played in someone’s life.  The answer never quite returned with “I do this because I want to do it for myself.”  This discovery led me to really uncover who I really was.

I found that I had been defined by my role as mother, fiance, Soldier, NCO and all of the other labels and positions that I had placed on me by other people.  I was stuck in my roles.  I thought that I was being true to myself by honoring these roles when at the end of the day, there was nothing left for me to give to myself.

I was dreadfully empty.

There is so much more to me and who I am than what I am or whose I am.  I had to relearn and rethink my idea of ownership and take back my life.  I wasn’t in super bad shape, but probably because I was able to catch it before it completely consumed me.

I had to take time and redefine myself.  I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and know exactly who that girl was.  I could barely answer the question “What do you like to do?” and that was, for me, unacceptable.

Through this journey (which was part of my self-love journey) I was able to identify activities that I could engage in both alone and with others that truly brought me joy and peace.

I came across this AWESOME list and I thought it was definitely worth sharing!!  Check it out! I’d love to hear your feedback on what some of your favorite self-care methods are!

Feel free to comment below!!

 

Original Motivation by Gina Gonnella

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She Lifts Podcast had the honor of opportunity to interview Gina Gonella, CEO and Founder of Original Motivation, LLC.  Her energy was through the roof!!  I literally asked 5 questions and she just flowed through the information!  It was such a thrilling and amazing interview!!!

Original Motivation was founded out of sheer necessity for Gina.  Struggling through self esteem issues following a devastating injury left Gina feeling lost.  Her identity completely gone.  Gina found herself in a whirlwind and thus Original Motivation was born.

Original Motivation is exactly what it says, as her name is actually in the title – the motivation from within.  It is all about digging deep within yourself and finding what motivates you and developing a plan that works for you.

“I was just not okay.”

~Gina Gonnella

Gina, like many of us, struggled through self image issues.  Feelings of fed up, wanting to make herself better and feeling like “less” eventually grew into “I was just not okay”, in her own words. Again, like many of us we find ourselves on this path to health and wellness.  We get a gym membership and we find ourselves excelling in the gym but really don’t know what to do afterwards.  Gina found herself over exercising and under-eating.

Gina found herself subscribing to the societal norm of what “fitness” should be and what “skinny” should be.  She was even hospitalized.  Through all of this she found a way to push through and find the motivation within.

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Catch the audio of our interview on She Lifts Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud!!!  Make sure you’re following Original Motivation on Facebook and check out her website as well for tons of awesome content!!

Thanks for putting your ears on it!!

Love & Light, Fam!

 

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou

Poetry by Luki

I had the pleasure of interviewing an amazing and phenomenal young poet, educator and advocate.  Jonte Luki Barret is a Washington, DC native with a passion for poetry and education.

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Luki first fell in love with poetry at a young age when she was introduced to it by her grandmother, who is a published poet.  Words of wisdom from her grandmother, “Take it really serious” provided a venue for her to express herself and to truly be honest with herself.

With her poetry, Luki aspires to travel, taking her art form on tour perform in other cities across the country.  She also aspires to develop her own poetry curriculum that can be taught in schools everywhere.

Luki has been working with children for most, if not all of her life.  Her love for children ignited a fire in her to make it a profession.  She began volunteering at day cares and working in summer camps at a young age.  Her dreams of education have led Luki to her current position of teaching in five schools in DC and one in MD where she teaches the art of poetry.

The students in Luki’s class not only learn about poetry, poets – both contemporary and modern – and different types of poetry but they also gain confidence. Luki guides these kids on how to express yourself and boasts to provide opportunity to express their views put those ideas into rhyme form. Her instruction also assists the students interactions with their peers, self respect and interpersonal respect and all around life lessons.

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Orville The Poet

Luki couldnt mention her favorite poets without mentioning her favorite poem by them and the effect that it left on her.  This includes Rasheed Copeland’s  “My Mans and Em” and Orville The Poet’s “I Prayed For You”, from which she recited the first line.  A few of the other poetic influences she mentioned include: Karika, Nia Jones, Jay the Jeweler, The Truth, Nuance, Maya Angelou, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, and Audre Lorde.

When asked about her strengths and weaknesses, Luki stated that her strength crowd control and stage presence.  She feels that she doesn’t challange herself enough to write about different things.  To build that weakness into a strength she has began to branch out and write on different subjects including politcs and life experiences (other than love).  She also recently wrote a poem in two different languages.  Talk about diversity!!

Luki’s first poem ever recited was also a once in a lietime experience.  In the first grade, her class was visited by Maya Angelou and Luki had the honor of reciting a few stanzas of “Still I Rise” right in front of Maya Angelou!  I think nervous is an understatement!! I was nervous listening to her tell me about it!  Luki was concerned about reading someone else’s work and do it the right way and not stumble.  She described the esperience as nervewrecking.  Over the years, Luki has been able to memorize her poems, but her nervousness has not subsided.  She still gets butterflies and she attributes them to new faces and the worry of not knowing people may interpret what she’s about to say.

Some of the best advice that Luki noted was from a good friend and fellow poet, Lamar Hill.  He reminded her to take her time, gauge the audence and to use the stage well.  This advice has become a staple in her performances.

“It never gets easy to bear your soul.”

~Luki

Settling into her craft, Luki has found herself a lot more confident.  She has not only found poetry to be an outlet and an amazing art form but it has also been an introspective experience.  Luki states that she believes in herself  and what she writes is true to her.  She knows that she doesn’t fit in anyones box.  She feels comfortable with her poetry even though “it never gets easy to bear your soul”.  She says her poems “feel like they’re prayers to God and I happen to be talking to him in front of other people”.  Poetry has been an amazing journey for Luki, as she has learned so much about herself through her poetry.

Make sure you are locked in on Luki’s Place on FB and IG (@lukisplace) to keep up with whats going on in Luki’s world.

Closing out this interview, I had no other choice but to request Luki to recite a poem!  Catch the audio of our interview on She Lifts Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud!!!

Thanks for putting your ears on it!!

Love & Light, Fam!

Pillow Talk Thursday: Gender Roles

So it happened!!!  I sat down with my good friend Will Stewart and we sat and discussed gender roles.

Listen, I had so many technical difficulties, but in the end it was totally worth it.  We had a great time and WOOOOOO this guy can talk!  He made some really good points and my efforts to “shoot him down” were definitely futile.

I rolled my eyes a total of 5,000 times.  If I learned anything about myself its that – FB live is more formidable than it seems and my facial expressions are too much!

All in all it was a great experience and I am looking forward to our new episode this week.

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We discussed how gender roles came about.  I’m actually 50/50 on gender roles.  Stu definitely said that women are aggressive in the DC area, which could be a double edge sword, and I defended RBF (resting bitch face)

Are gender roles even necessary in today’s society and how do they hinder our relationships?  If we as women perpetually wait on the man to make the first move, where would we be?  Are women okay with proposing to their man?

These, and others, are questions we explored and even delved into not allowing people to change who you are and communication.

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You can catch the live videos part I here and part II here (after my ipad died)!!  Also, there is an audio snippet posted to She Lifts Podcast on both platforms SoundCloud and iTunes/Podcast App!

Fam, stay tuned for this week’s episode of Pillow Talk Thursday, this Thursday at 8 pm – She Lifts Podcast FB page – WE GOIN LIVE BABY!!!

Love & Light, Fam!

She Lifts Podcast PROUDLY Presents:

Pillow Talk Thursday!!

I sat with one of my very good friends and favorite people to debate life stuff with one afternoon and he asked me how things were going.  We were catching up, as old friends do.

I enthusiastically told him all about the great and wonderful things I was doing with She Lifts Podcast and he stopped me in the middle of my sentence.  He says, “Before you go any further, I want you to know that I want to be on your podcast!”

I couldn’t have been more excited and we began planning right away.  After a few weeks of planning and preparation, research and debate, we are finally in the execution phase.

She Lifts Podcast proudly presents: Pillow Talk Thursday w/ Will Stewart.

We have ventured through murky waters of relationships and marriage and sex and all that lies beneath and we are looking forward to sharing our views with you!  However, it won’t be any fun without you guys there!!

Thursdays at 8pm we will be going LIVE bringing you an amazing battle of the sexes – or joining of forces (you never know) with full interaction with all viewers!!

Make sure you are following the She Lifts Podcast FB page to stay up to date with all new content!!

Don’t be weird and miss this!!

Love & Light, Fam!