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Leap Year 2018

leap yearNo need to check your calendar. 2018 is not a calendar leap year. I have declared it as “my” leap year. Years ago, I received a copy of The Big Leap by Gay Henricks as a gift. Like too many of the books in my home office, I started reading it, but never finished (I’m working on this). I had crazy layovers while traveling recently and decided to take it with me. By the time I reached the end, I decided that 2018 would be the year for me to “take life to the next level.” 2018 became my year to leap.

It’s my annual practice to decide what type of year I want to manifest by choosing a word. My word for 2017 was “incredible.” I woke up each morning excited about having an incredible day. But in addition to wanting incredible things to happen to me, I wanted incredible things to happen through me. I purposely looked for ways to provide others with incredible experiences during our interactions.

the-power-of-words-1-728Did you know that the words you choose to describe your expectations are very telling and powerful? That “little member” called the tongue can be used to speak death or life. Perhaps growing up you heard, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Hopefully, you know by now that this idea is completely false. Words do and can hurt. Once they’re said, it’s too late to take them back. Think about it. Are you speaking negatively or positively about your situation, yourself, or others?

In addition to what we say, we have to be mindful of what we do. Don’t sweat the small stuff! It truly is small when you consider the big picture. AND, never lose sight that it’s just stuff. Be careful not to discard or discount the people in your life. We were created as relational beings. You need the person next to you as much as that person needs you. There is shared ownership in relationships so do your part. Although, we may not have it all together, together – we have it all.

Human-beings-NOT-human-doingsWhen I first received my cancer diagnosis years ago, I attended a yoga class. As the only person who showed up, it was my own private class. The teacher was full of wisdom. Of the many nuggets he shared that day, the one that I think about often is the concept that we are human “beings” and not human “doings.” We tend to get so busy with the “doing” that we are no longer “being.” Just be present with the present. The present is truly a gift for which we should be thankful.

In order for me to take “the big leap” in 2018, I had to change my mindset. Hmmm. So where do I set my mind? Establishing personal and professional goals was a great place to start. I came across this quote, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” I’ve got the goals and the objectives in place to reach them. (Think of objectives as the rungs on the ladder that you’re climbing in order to reach the goal at the top.) I have to be willing to do what it takes to reach that goal. For example, if an opportunity presents itself that is not in alignment with my goals, I have to pass. If someone is not supportive of what I’m trying to accomplish and where I’m trying to go, it’s better that I love them at a distance.

time-for-changeI am responsible for the change, or lack thereof, in my life. Change is never comfortable or convenient, but it’s necessary for growth. Change is a process that requires work. Although change can be difficult, NOT changing can be fatal. I don’t have to see the whole staircase. I just have to take the first step. In addition to taking steps of faith, I may have to take leaps of faith. I know that when I do, God will either catch me or teach me to fly.

The next “real” leap year will be 2020 (hint: it coincides with the Presidential election year). Please don’t wait until then to take  “the big leap” in your life. Yes, 2018 is “my” leap year, but there’s plenty of room on the train. Won’t you join me?

 

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Black History – A New Conversation

book-reading-atop-books-during-black-history-month

Although February is Black History Month, we must be careful not to restrict the subject to merely one month of the year. As an educator who was often the only teacher of color on staff, I saw this happen in the classrooms of my colleagues. In an effort to reverse this pattern, I brought the issue to the forefront by speaking up about my concerns. I made it my business to help young, elementary students expand their view of the world. Black history goes beyond the color of one’s skin. Black history impacts world history.

During Black History Month, we are often exposed to men and women who have contributed to fields such as medicine, education, science, entertainment, politics, and sports. I believe that health history should be factored in to what is highlighted during Black History Month. In the same way that learning about the past can help us understand and appreciate our present so that we can prepare for the future, the same is true of our health history. We need to know what is being passed from one generation to the next.

black history pioneers

Perhaps it’s a cultural “thing,” but family health matters are often considered “hush hush” and swept under the carpet. You know, the proverbial “elephant” that everyone sees, but no one talks about. This is not beneficial and has gotten us no where – except to an early grave. I encourage dialogue about family health as part of my platform as an inspirational and experiential speaker promoting health and wellness as a lifestyle. We must have the conversations, ask the questions, and then use the information to take action.

Some chronic illnesses can have a generational impact. If we don’t know what’s in our family blood line, then it’s possible to be blindsided unnecessarily. Let’s look at breast cancer. Guidelines state that women should get their first mammogram at age 45. However, a daughter of a survivor needs to get her mammogram 10 years earlier than when her mother was diagnosed. Without this knowledge, the daughter may miss that early screening and find herself embarking upon her own cancer journey. Did you know that even though white women are diagnosed more frequently than Black women, Black women are dying at higher rates? Additionally, Black women are being diagnosed with advanced stages of breast cancer. This can limit treatment options and result in higher death rates.

benefits-vs-risks-diabetes-supplements

Diabetes and high blood pressure are other chronic illnesses that can impact multiple generations. These conditions may be the result of something more than heredity – cultural upbringing. Lifestyle plays a role in the presence or absence of disease. I’m referring to the foods and beverages that are/are not consumed, food preparation, as well as whether we are/are not engaging in exercise. We can control and change these variables. But if no one is willing to have the conversations, to ask the questions, to do something different, nothing changes and the unhealthy patterns continue.

“Nothing changes if nothing changes.” How true. We have to address the health history in the Black community and in every community. It may mean the difference between life and death for current and future generations. Did you know that in some places of the world, babies are being predisposed with conditions such as diabetes in utero due to the food and drink choices made by their mothers? What?! Life is tough enough as it is. We should want the unborn to enter the world with the healthiest start possible.

clipart family tree black

Conversations about family health history have to start somewhere, with someone. YOU can be the voice that initiates an ongoing dialogue. To help you get started, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition has created a Family Health History Tree.

http://debreastcancer.org/pdf/DBCC_Black_History_Month_2017_full_tree.pdf

Print it out and do your research. Then, talk to family members and your physician about genetic risk factors that may exist, as well as lifestyle changes that can be made. 

History is just not something we celebrate – it’s something we create. 

 

be NspireD!

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