… By Whatever Means Necessary

Announcement: F*$k Donald Trump! His mis-calculated actions and lack of compassion, coupled with his ignorance and narcissism are not just deplorable, but also diabolical. I can’t wait until American citizens rise up in aggressive opposition of his heartless policies, cold leadership, and show the world our efforts to be the example that we set out to be.

Viva Obama! …. 1f620

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Deep Breath) Ok friends, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me focus on the real reason for this post:

 

self-care

 
After the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain (sidenote: I’m still not convinced that Anthony committed suicide and highly suspect foul play, however, I will consider the possibility for the sake of this post) sent the world into shock, the general response was: “You just never know what people are going through”. This is true. You never know what someone else is dealing with, or the state of their mental and emotional health. Unless you’ve had in-depth conversations with that person, one should be slow to judge and not assume anything.

 
But another major lesson as a result of all this is: “Just because you have money does not mean you are happy.” I think this was the realization that shocked people the most. It’s one thing to understand that you never know what someone else is dealing with. However, the general consensus is that whatever you are dealing with in your personal life can be easily resolved with an increase of funds. For the majority of people, their problems are money-related, and they would love to have a fraction of the earnings of these celebrities if it would mean lessening the weight of their financial burdens.
For the majority of people, the thought was: “Why in God’s name would you kill yourself when you have SO MUCH!

 

 

They had everything: booming careers, beautiful homes, fancy cars, designer clothes, the freedom to travel, access to any and everything, and loads of cash. For the majority of people, it simply doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense because we have been conditioned to believe that money equals happiness. Despite the countless suicides of various celebrities, their drug problems, and the public display of mental/emotional breakdowns that can come with fame, the public still believes that money is the key. However, it was something about the deaths of these two people, especially Anthony Bourdain, that seemed to strike a deeper cord with people. Reality was hitting hard. The nation was beginning to see the error of their thinking.

 

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Money is nice, but ultimately it will not give you the peace and the joy you deserve. I think what really gives peace and joy is knowing that you are loved and living out your purpose. This love includes a certain level of self-care that should be made a priority in everyone’s life. It is vital to take care of self. Maybe that means seeing a therapist, going on vacations, being with friends, going to church, engaging in your favorite hobbies, etc. We all must do what we can to keep ourselves full. Operating through this world can easily drain you and you must find a way to re-boot.

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I started thinking about how I implement self-care. One of the things I do, besides engage in favorite activities with close friends, is pray and meditate. I may not meditate on a strict schedule everyday, but I do make time during the week to get quiet and connect with myself. I also listen to music as a way to elevate my energy. Working out has become an important part of my self-care also. I’m not always excited about working out, but I can always feel a physical improvement afterwards. My body just feels better after a good workout. Keeping this blog is an additional part of my self-care. Having a platform such as this to express oneself, regardless of how many people read it, is always a great thing.

 
But the last big thing that I do for self-care is turn off the news. I know that it is important to stay informed, and I do stay abreast of the important events that have taken place. However, I’ve noticed that, especially during these past two years, my energy gets low after watching the news. Especially being African American and hearing report after horrifying report about another unarmed black person getting shot — R.I.P. Antwon Rose — or harassed by cops, and the growing outcry of bigots and racists who insist on “taking the country back” ; my emotional, and mental health must be protected. So I turn the news off. I realize that I have to keep myself full not just for me, but for the young people I teach and motivate. I refuse to pour fear and hopelessness into them. The world supplies them with enough of that. The responsibility I feel for my students can come with pressure but it also demands that I take care of myself so that I can be the best for them. This sense of responsibility has been a great incentive for me to maintain my health.

 
I urge you: Maintain your health friends. The world appears to be getting louder, and the need for introspection is getting greater. You must not allow the world to drown out your inner voice. Take a moment to get quiet and remind yourself of all that you have to be grateful for. Self-care is one of the pieces of armor you will need to maintain your sense of self in an ever changing world. Keep your peace …

… by whatever means necessary. 

 

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Doctors are not Gods.

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I was on the phone with my good friend Johnathan. We hadn’t spoke in months and we were long overdue for a conversation. Jonathan and I have known each other since our first week in undergrad and we have grown through and experienced life together: school, jobs, love gained, and love lost. One of the reasons we are close is that we have the freedom to be completely honest with each other. With that said, we’ve gotten into many arguments and debates, and this last convo was another one of our long debates.

Johnathan is pre-med. He has a passion for service and medicine and has always wanted to be a doctor. I was telling him about a recent doctor visit I had where I felt as though my doctor didn’t really listen to me ,and was more interested in talking at me and having me go along with her plans instead of listening to the plans I had for myself, and us working together towards a solution. I felt like she was using her voice to silence mine and that made me feel disregarded as a patient.

 

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I shared this story as a way to remind Johnathan to make sure that he listens to his patients when he becomes a doctor. Make sure that he places value on their input. He said that he would. We then start talking about doctors and the health industry. Johnathan believes in the power of science — in the knowledge of doctors. I believe in science as well and see the value of modern medicine. I also believe in holistic methods and living a healthy lifestyle. I believe that people have to be their own health advocate, gather their own information, and do what works best for them.

Johnathan began refuting the legitimacy of holistic medicine saying that one shouldn’t just “buy herbs from someone on the street”, and that it’s better to see a learned licensed doctor that could prescribe the best medicine. I told him that I agree that people should not just “buy herbs from someone on the street”. But just like there are knowledgeable doctors, there are knowledgeable herbalists and nutritionists that can also make recommendations, and that their recommendations can work just as well, if not, better.

 

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Johnathan was becoming irritated that I proclaimed that eating certain foods and having a certain diet could serve as a preventive measure to a lot of the illnesses that people endure, information that a lot of doctors and pharmacists conceal from patients. Frustrated and defensive, Johnathan belts, “Well you tell a kid that is suffering from cancer that they can get healthy again by eating certain foods!!” I told him to calm down first of all, and that I’m not saying that modern medicine is wrong, or denying it’s progress, but what I do know is that what we put into our bodies has an effect on our health. And instead of talking to patients about this, many doctors push and promote drugs to their patients. A lot of times these drugs don’t alleviate the cause, but rather alleviate the symptoms. But while alleviating certain symptoms, they cause other maladies to form.

We’ve all seen these fear inducing drug commercials that talk about curing or managing an illness, but then they list the possible side effects of taking the drug: dizziness, nausea, bleeding, organ failure, depression, suicide, this list goes on and on. And it becomes crystal clear that taking the drug is not worth the risk of the side effects. Not to mention, it doesn’t take away the condition, it only provides temporary relief.

Johnathan then says that the drugs have been tested and approved to be on the market. But I mentioned how these drug commercials are then followed by other commercials where lawyers come on the screen and proclaim that a certain drug that was recently promoted, in fact, has caused some other physical ailment, and if you have developed this ailment then you can receive compensation. So, clearly many of these drugs haven’t even been accurately tested before being given to patients, which means they are lying to consumers.

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I told Johnathon that at the end of the day, are there great, honest doctors out there who truly care for their patients? Yes. Is there modern medicine that has been greatly beneficial to society? Of course. But the health/drug industry is and has always been a money making industry – the biggest money making industry. The focus is more on profit, and less about really healing people, but rather getting them dependent on a drug. The industry promotes panic in their consumers which drives them to purchase drugs that could potentially leave them in a worse state than they were before.

I know what it’s like to be a nervous, scared patient buying drugs in hopes of a cure. I remember being given medicine and the nurse told me, “The drug will take away the symptoms, but it will not get to the root of the issue, go to this website and read this article.” I am forever grateful to that nurse who was bold enough and cared enough to tell me the truth. Up until that point no one had shared this information with me. I remember reading the article and doing other research, and discovered how changing what I put in my body had a dramatic effect on my condition. My grandmother’s words rang strong and true for me at that moment, she would always say, “Don’t you know they just PRACTICIN?!” It struck a nerve. I had to take my health into my own hands, educate myself, and take the control back. I had to use and trust my own discernment.

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I told Johnathan that his role as a doctor is to provide valuable information on his patients condition and then provide them with options. It is the patient who has to decide what route they want to take, and whatever decision they choose has to be respected. That was the whole point of our original conversation that spiraled out of control. Johnathan has a very strong position on most things and if people disagree with him, he will argue with them as to why they are wrong and he is right. As a doctor you can not do this. Your job is not to be combative, your job is to be of service. I told him to come down off of his pedestal of doctoral credentials and to check his ego and condescending tone. The best doctors are the most compassionate, the most honest, have good interpersonal communication skills, and are the most genuine in their goal to help their patients. They know how to engage in dialogue, and don’t try to take command.

I hope that my dear friend does not become tainted like many other doctors and forget his purpose. I hope he remembers that he does not get the final say. I hope he remembers that he is a public servant…he is not God.

 

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Club Good Body

 

Like a lot of people. I enjoy a good work out…a nice blood-pumping, sweat-drenching, funk-inducing workout. My body just feels better afterwards. And I’ve tried different types of workouts: Pole dancing, core-power yoga, beach runs, etc. However, it had been a while since I had been in an actual gym. My friend invited me to go along with her to her gym where I could get a guest pass and utilize the facility for a few days. I really enjoyed it and highly considered joining. But there was another gym closer to where I lived that I wanted to check out first.

This gym – I will refer to it as “Club Good Body” and will decline from providing the real name – is well known in Los Angeles and has multiple gym sites and thousands of members. I had seen employees of this Club at random places with tables, chairs, and a big banner hungrily trying to gain membership by stopping people as they walked in and out of stores. I would always walk past them briskly while shouting out that I was not interested.

But, on this day, I decided to get a guest pass and check it out. So, I walk into “Club Good Body” and tell the young lady at the welcoming desk that I have a guest pass. She tells me to wait while a representative comes to speak with me. Immediately I’m thinking, “Damnit!”. I didn’t feel like sitting in a chair while their representative asked me questions. But I told myself to chill and suck it up, and that it was just part of the process and that it wouldn’t last long.

I was wrong. It did last long…too long..nearly 40 minutes long. My representative — we’ll call him Jose — was a nice guy; however, his inquiries are what led me to never return to that gym. It was an interrogation: He asked me what my address was, What I did for a living, Where my job was located, How long I had worked at my job, What was my purpose in coming to their gym, when was the last time I had been to a gym, why did I leave my last gym, what was my current work-out regime, was I eating healthy…I mean, DAMNIT Jose!! SLoW Your RoLL! I JUST WANT TO WORK OUT! What’s with the interrogation?! I told him I felt like I was filling out a bank loan application instead of a simple gym guest pass, and I asked him why he needed to know and write down all this information.

Jose was trying to make a sale and gain my membership, and was filling out an application for me without me actually saying that I wanted to become a member. But the tactics that were used to make this sale are the same tactics that many people use : Fear and misinformation.
Jose said that he wanted to weigh me and calculate my body fat. His calculations determined that I was “average” for my height and age but that I was not at my “ideal” weight just yet and told me how many pounds I would have to lose. Then he turns his computer screen towards me because apparently “Club Good Body” provides their potential members with a visual of various body types so as to “help” them understand what condition their body is in. So on the screen was a computerized image of a woman. They had 6 or 7 images of this woman next to each other – similar to a scale – starting with the image of the thinner or “ideal” body shape and going all the way up to the image of the “obese” or bigger body shape.

Now, as I had mentioned, Jose said that I was “average”. And you would think “average” meant that I would land in the middle of this visual scale. Wrong. According to them, “average” meant that I was second to last on this visual scale, which placed me right before the “obese” image/category. Did I mention that this visual scale is color coded? And the “average” category has a yellow and red color code and “red”, of course, means that you are in the danger zone.

Needless to say this visual scale was complete bullshit. Not only did I look NOTHING like this “tainted, computerized image of a woman, but I’m NOWHERE near Obese. Thank God I can think for myself and recognize a blatant lie when it’s right in front of my face. But the sad thing is that so many women still have blinders on and cannot see the truth, they can’t see what’s real.

By using this scale, “Club Good Body” feeds off the insecurities of women by serving them a distorted image of a body that #1 is not even real, and that #2 does not mirror their shape accurately.The focus should be on living a healthy life, and not fooling women into believing that “good health” or a “healthy body” comes in just one image. These representatives make women become so fearful that they are not “ideal”, that the women seek the help and the membership of their club. And the color coding only increases this because of the psychological connections we make about colors: Green(ideal) = Good, Yellow (average) =Slow Down/Caution, Red (obese) = Danger/Stop.

Those tricky bastards. I told Jose that his scale was wrong and that this image didn’t reflect my body type at all. I told him that they needed to rethink this part of the interrogation because if I was someone who had a negative self-image, then this visual scale had the potential to sink me lower emotionally and mentally. Jose chuckled bits of nervous laughter, unsure of how to proceed.

On top of that, Jose says, “Also, here at “Club Good Body” we can provide you with a Trainer. The young lady behind me, Meagan, would be your trainer.” Meagan comes over to introduce herself and – not to be rude – but Meagan didn’t appear to be in the best physical condition to give me ANY advice.

And after all this, Jose says, “So which membership plan would you be interested in?” I said, “Jose I came to work-out. I don’t even know if this is where I want to be, because I haven’t gotten the opportunity to get a feel for this place and see whether or not I want to return.”

Jose says, “Oh yea! Of course! Go work-out and we’ll talk when you’re done.” What more did we have to talk about??!! And I had to leave my I.D. with him before I could go work-out, so I had no choice but to stop by his table before I left.

I worked out for 20 minutes before I decide to leave. Didn’t even break a sweat. All the treadmiills were taken, along with the other floor equipment that I wanted, plus I was on a time schedule, and that interrogation left me mentally drained and irritated. I bounced. Jose was surprised to see me return so soon. I told him I was leaving. He tried to get me to stay, but I told him I had run out of time and patience. He asked about the membership and I told him my plan was not to sign-up for membership today, just to utilize my guest pass. Jose could tell I was over it, so he quickly prints my guest pass and tells me to come back tomorrow and give them another try.

I didn’t go back. Instead, I decided to return to my neighborhood runs for now until I find a better gym. At least while running in my neighborhood I am free of distorted images and nagging sales people. I may not have the fancy equipment, but at least with my neighborhood runs I am reminded of what is real. I am real. I am beautiful. And my body is fucking awesome.

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