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BLACK + WELL HEALING FROM ANXIETY, TRAUMA, • AND DIS-EASE

That's how you create real grassroots change because we know a single black woman will WELLNESS ADVOCATE, IMPACT ENTREPRENEUR

empower an entire community.

- Aala

A A L A SHARES HER STORY

TOP PODCAST + PLATFORMS FOR HEALING • HEALING WITH CANNABIS • LIVING WITH ANXIETY HOW OVERUSE OF MASCULINE ENERGY NEGLECTS THE FEMININE + CREATES DIS-EASE

+ MORE!


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There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.� - Toni Morrison

In Loving Memory (February 18, 1931 - August, 5, 2019)

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24 Affirmations To Manifest Your Breakthrough By Chelsea Coffey + Azalia L

Healing requires many things, one being an abundance of faith and vision to know that better days are ahead. We all suffer at some point in our lives. Whether it’s during our childhood, during toxic relationships, during financial struggles, through depression or dealing with anxiety and trauma. Whatever it is you're going through, personally or relationally, these affirmations are here to instill faith and change the narrative for your life. Healing takes willingness, time, and an acceptance of that time, which could be years. During this season know that your breakthrough is on its way. All it takes is one conscious step, one day at a time. You are more than capable and deserving of a joyous and abundant life. Wishing you well, Always. Grab your copy of ‘Speak Those Things: 52 Affirmations To Build A Life You Love’

HERE

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1. I am blessed and highly favored 2. I am living and walking in my radical truth 3. God hears my prays and will answer at the right time 4. I will inspire others to pursue their dreams and passions by sharing my story  5. I am not alone 6. I trust my gut 7. I believe there is a unique calling for me on the other side of my breakthrough  8. Everything I am praying and believing for is accessible and tangible 9. I choose faith over fear daily  10. My relationships are repairing and flourishing  11. I hold myself accountable of habits that I am still healing from 12. My healing journey will lead me to wholeness  13. I am equipped to pursue my wildest dreams 14. My vision is valid and worthy of execution  15. I am here for a reason 16. I am on a path to wholeness and total wellbeing 17. I am on a path to financial abundance 18. Everything I need is a reach away  19. My debts are paid  20. I am fulfilling my purpose  21. I am here for a reason 22.I have a unique and incredible testimony  23. Regardless of what things may look like right now, I trust that the spirit/s will guide me 24. My breakthrough is on its way  7


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BLACK + WELL Healing is not linear. One thing that we are sure of is that wellness looks different for all within the diaspora. After observing and studying the energy of our diverse communities, we realized healing is still very much needed and long overdue. Self-healing is the path to collective healing, growth, and understanding. It is completely possible and begins with total awareness. We hope this issue heightens your conscious to begin or follow through with the depths of your healing journey.

#blackandwell #stillhealing #selfhealer

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Your journey may begin alone but it doesn’t have to end that way.

Join The Tribe Here

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i. I’m sure you've heard black don’t crack In another context, that spirit is unbreakable Only thing shattering is my patience and the rose-colored glasses Warning: Lenses exclusively sold to the skeptical masses But I’m woke now and weariness is more than occasional I’m tired of being under endless scrutiny and attack I rather create mirrors to see and be seen than to recreate darkness Our beach ain’t better yet so I’ll speak until it’s properly Sandy Water cannot soothe the pain of sticks, stones, words, and bullets I am allowed to stand up to bigots I am allowed to clarify when they misunderstand me I am allowed to cry in a world so heartless Somehow we can’t be trusted, yet our innocence was the worst thing to steal I try not to be a pessimist although history is replayed I want to believe that there is space for logic Oh, to be no longer jaded by situations that are highly ironic Cause when they see us, they forget karmic debts are repaid In this life or the next, one day they’ll know how we feel ii. Maybe there isn’t any interaction free of bias But how do I start with compassion when my being is constantly challenged Mommabear taught me to do unto others as I’d have done unto me 11


(This poem is dedicated to Kalief Browder (1993 - 2015) who experienced the depths of racial fatigue and left us with dignity. Thank you for raising my voice, awareness, and expectations).

By: Nya Wilson @dialogue.nyne

Meanwhile the others cling to ignorance they choose not to see So the marginalized and oppressors remain in a cycle that’s damaged And I don’t have the privilege to move with such slyness Daddy always warned me that my energy is intimidating He believes I’m fearless, but I am actually afraid of prejudice Because I know how easily red tape becomes yellow It’s no secret our restrictions are their escape, and the effects echo My sister is young yet wise, she knows I’m tired of being generous No stone left unturned, every space berating Public and private alike, the entitlement has no boundaries Where my authenticity is stripped in the name of compliance My brother watches from above, safe from physical and psychological harm Use every opportunity to threaten me, but I’m supposed to remain calm How do I advocate for change when outcomes are subject to claims of defiance He guides my steps through these daily quandaries Granny says everything happens in divine order I just want to know when will the light appear at the end of the tunnel Can’t even drive your car or be at peace in your own home I don’t know that walking on eggshells is really the path to chaos outgrown The bestie reminds me to embrace the beauty in every struggle Desire of what’s due isn’t far-fetched, so I won’t surrender The locs are staying and I’m keeping the cape Cause I’m the only person who determines my worth 12


Spirit speaks to me often with nudges to stay grounded Be humble or be found dead The offenders forget the meek shall inherit the earth Last laughs soon come, I pray a new future is taking shape iii. The future: Powered by radical love, accountability, and connection It’s no surprise that we are the forsaken and the righteous Major props to the social activists that know and embody this energy Something like community brokers who protect traumas from being traded as currency Our Ancestors have been waiting on us to manifest a world unbiased To Garner enough strength and release chokeholds of the last election And fill seats at the policy-making tables, the decision-making tables We’ll be free to show up whole and leave the workplace feeling fulfilled Employee Assistant Programs wouldn’t be complicit in sustaining toxic environments The days of justifying or explaining our experience will see retirements Uncensored self-expression without appropriation, only genuinely endeared Paranoia wouldn’t sit on our fingertips, scrolling and anticipating daily assassinations Imagine truly knowing the meaning of don’t worry with unrestricted joy Like bees discovering the sweetest nectar or celebrating another promotion Or eradicating racism so we can play more than we’re forced to fight Mother May I witness humanity in its best light And finesse toys without deadly commotion I Declare War ‘til every moment is ours to enjoy

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Year after year we loose black men and women at the hands of those who were meant to protect and serve. Racism has filled the hearts of many men in blue, but our love is louder. Though we can never give a full tribute showcasing the thousands of lives lost, here is a reminder to our community that these issues are still happening, are still very real and affects our communities and well-being.We must continue to honor these lives by building stronger communities, as well as standing up and speaking out against injustice. The fight against systematic racism, white supremacy and oppression has been tiresome, causing racial fatigue, especially amongst black women. This abuse against our community is officially a public health problem that affects more than just the victim but their families and friends - long term. If you have the mental space to support, please remember to show up in any way possible for those dealing with loss and injustice for a family member. Our health matters, our families matter, our communities matter. (not-so-fun)

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FACTS

Excessive use of police

3.

force accounted for 1.6% of all deaths of black men between the ages of 20 and

likely than white men and boys to die during an

24.

2.

Black men are 2.5 times more

encounter with the police.

4.

One in one-thousand black men and boys in America can expect to die

Black women were about 1.4 times as likely to be killed by police as white women.

at the hands of police.

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#STOPKILLINGUS

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What Our Ancestors Taught Us About Healing

I

By: Leah Islar @leahrises

the everyday grind. To be black and

want you to remember, that

rising is to participate in our legacy of healing, a reminder that this journey unfolds for every generation after. Our

you are a memory, an experience of

ancestors have cultivated a beautiful

struggle, love, heartbreak, and survival.

legacy of healing that awaits us. It is our

In this memory, you experience pain in

right as black women to participate in the

the same seed that you rise, and so you

same personal liberation of blackness as

do. Just as the women before you have.

those before us. Something that our

Why? Because it is weaved in the

ancestors can teach us about healing is

marrow of who you are. As I sit here

that it takes radical vulnerability to allow

writing this article, I am humbled by the

ourselves to be seen and heard for our

moments in between the words that

truth. At times, these women faced

remind me of the evolution of rising,

persecution and death for choosing to

from seed to bloom. This sort of process

fully exist and be recognized for their

is our birthright as black women, and it

greatness. As we continue to heal as

seems that the pain we experience is for

black women it is important to

a divine reason. But, we mustn’t forget

remember that the truth and unfolding of

that this legacy of healing as black

who we are is a revolution that takes us

women is not simply a moment in time.

being brave enough to share our

To be a black woman in America is to

struggles with the world. For healing as

rise. It is a constant moment that can

black women it is important to

sometimes be forgotten in the chaos of

remember that the truth and unfolding of 20


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who we are is a revolution that takes us being brave enough to share our struggles with the world. There is often a misconception that the path toward healing is one of serenity and peaceful

When we remember that we are standing

surroundings. But, our ancestors have

in the soil that our ancestors have

taught us that the vision of healing is

cultivated for us we are healing. Every

different with each generation. Healing is

single step that we take, whether it be

freedom songs, soul food, afros, self-care,

taking a moment to breathe, reflecting on

street protest and black is beautiful loud

the wisdom of those before us, nourishing

and clear over megaphones. While healing

our bodies, crying uncontrollable tears, or

can also mean yoga, nature walks, and

protesting on the front lines we are

personal wellness. In the 1960s my

healing. Our ancestors healed by facing

grandmother achieved healing by

the truth of injustice and we must carry

participating in radical forms of protests

that same spirit of radical action toward

that many outsiders would consider

our unique healing journey. With every

violent. However, there is a certain

step, we take we can choose to heal by

vulnerability in the bravery to

engaging in activities that bring us closer

unapologetically share our stories with the

to the feeling of being truly present and

world by any means necessary. It means

unapologetic in our existence. Every single

that we are awakened to a sense of self-

moment is a opportunity to cultivate

love and acceptance that demands to be

wholeness, a moment to remember that

heard. When we continue this legacy of

we are existing. There are so many ways

healing, it is important to remind

that we can share our stories with the

ourselves that we are participating in

spirit of radical vulnerability. In whatever

something greater than ourselves. We are

way you choose, always remember you are

rising with our sisters to continue

whole, you are blooming, and your seed is

cultivating our bloom for all women of

rising!

color into the eternal. We all have our unique path toward healing yet we are emerging from the same seed. 22


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PLATFORMS

+ PODCAST Mindfully selected top picks for healing within our communities.

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First of all - shoutout to the black men leading platforms that create space for elevation and expansion for our brothers! ‘Let's Talk Bruh’ is a podcast on Black Masculinity. They have conversations on mental health, therapy, black male privilege, vulnerability, patriarchy's impact on black women, friendship, sex and much more. This podcast delivers a tone that the everyday black man can relate to by keeping it refreshingly real and honest. Each episode allows space for considering and suggesting new visions of black masculinity, by cultivating deep conversations for men to safely vent, laugh, cry, celebrate AND call out problematic behavior. Ladies, this one is for you too. Take time to learn more and listen to perspectives to help, support, uplift the men in your life. Tune in every Wednesday, on all streaming platforms. 26


2.

Jay Blessed is a Caribbean mental health advocate having very real, very raw, and very relatable human experiences. Her podcast “In My Head” is an introspective look on a multitude of topics, from a voyeuristic point of view. Jay introduces her self eloquently and authentically in episode one titled "I Live And Own My Truth". She, in fact, does just that and invites a few guests along the way to share their journey. The black Caribbean voice and experiences are often

left

out of the mainstream wellness scene, and Jay is out here representing proudly and loudly. Tune in every Wednesday on all streaming platforms.

3. Gloetry Assembly provides safe, non-judgmental spaces for women and girls to experience deeper connections with themselves and create sisterhood. This is achieved through girl's programs, community programs, and private services. Founded by Karmay, Gloetry is a reflection of what awareness, empathy and intentionally can manifest within our communities. Gloetry's Soul Sister Circle allows a safe space for black women/WOC to discuss their experiences and thoughts in a room full of open-mindedness and support. Learn more Gloetry Assembly here.   27


4. What's On Your Mind is a non-profit organization that strives to normalize conversations around thoughts, feelings, and emotions with a focus on mental health in communities of color. Their mission is to de-stigmatize mental illness in marginalized populations. WYOM also organizes interactive and informative workshops to further raise awareness while hosting The Mindful Podcast, which features mental health professionals, ensuring each conversation remains solution-oriented and evidence-informed.

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We Heal Too is a Community-Based Organization focused on black women healing through yoga, m e d i t a t i o n , m u s i c , performing arts, conversation, and

We Heal Too

representation. The platform encourages its community to be proactive about intentional journaling as well as introspection.

6. Fireflies Unite is a mental health media and communications company hosted by suicide survivor and mental health advocate T-Kea Blackman. She also hosts a podcast Fireflies Unite With Kea, a weekly podcast dedicated to bringing light into the darkness by sharing the stories of individuals thriving with mental illness; despite the disadvantages and racism that negatively impact their mental health. Blackman openly shares her struggles and triumph of her mental health journey giving hope to those going through similar issues. 28


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Living With It: Coping Mechanisms For Anxiety By: Imani Cooper

H

ave you ever been so stressed that

I’ve battled with mild attacks of tears to

you go into a panic? Perhaps you can't

extreme cases of delusion and ambulance

breathe, your chest feels tight, you're

rides, so I’m speaking from experience.

hyperventilating and begin thinking of

While living with anxiety for years, I've

every possible bad scenario. The worst

come across some major keys to dealing

part is, you want to be held and told that

with anxiety attacks that I'll be sharing

it will be alright but as soon as someone

with you. These attacks often hit us

gets close to you, your breathing

unexpectedly, making preparation a

increases. If you have felt this you're

priority. As an additional disclaimer, I

probably dealing with anxiety. Anxiety

ask you to please research anything listed

may not always be this dramatic. It can

to make sure it works for you! I hope

come in subtle forms of worry, tears,

these tips help calm yourself or someone

depression and other involuntary feelings

you may know during an anxiety attack. I

and reactions. I’ve been dealing with

am not a health professional these are

anxiety for a very long time. Anxiety has

just some things that have helped me

been such a battle for me that I dropped

along the years. However, if an anxiety

out of college, dance, and even the

attack intensifies after failed attempts,

military. Anxiety isn't something that just

please call a local health provider or 9-1-1

"GOES AWAY" but it's something that

as soon as possible.

I've learned to cope with. 31


CBD is the non-psychoactive compound that comes from cannabis AKA "It does not get you high and you can not fail a drug test from 100% CBD." Using CBD oil, cream, flower, or tincture is great for relaxing the mind and body. Please make sure that the products state that it is full-spectrum CBD and that there is not a high ratio of THC within the product (as long as you do not want the psychoactive effects). This is a therapeutic and relaxing solution that has changed my life.

For some reason, when I am going through panic and I feel I can't breathe an ice-cold drinks helps to literally "cool me down." Specifically, water helps with hydration which helps to bring down the intensity of the anxiety attack.

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THC is a great alternative, however, for those of you that are old enough and it is legal in your city THC in effect with CBD is great for relaxing the mind and the muscles. Please know that THC is the psychoactive compound of Cannabis, and it will get you high and will be present in a drug test. THC comes in many forms as well as CBD so you can find the form that works best for you. Indica dominant strains of THC are better known for its relaxation properties, which helps when dealing with an anxiety attack.

When everything feels so intense like the room is spinning/closing in or there's just too much going on at one time something that usually helps me calm down is to focus on one thing. Often, I may count “1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi� as I breathe in and then the same thing as I exhale. Doing this repeatedly helps my breathing to slow down. As I do this I like to focus on a sound or even a person. This helps to ease the mind because overthinking causes anxiety to go from mild to extreme.

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Using herbal teas are good calming factors for anxiety as well. Tea's seem to be more helpful for anxiety in the night time. Some teas that are good for anxiety are Lavender, Chamomile, Rose Bud Tea, Peppermint Tea, Green Tea, and St John's Wort. These teas whether taken together or separate are known to have helped people calm their anxiety, depression, colds, fevers, and more.

Putting music on that contains a calming frequency like 528Hz will help to calm your nerves to focus on what is going on at that moment. When dealing with anxiety it is hard to focus on one thing at a time. Transcending music triggers our brains to focus and slow down our subconscious thoughts giving us time to relax and breathe.

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I will constantly promote writing when it comes to dealing with anything mental, emotional, and/or spiritual. Writing is such a release and disperses so much energy. Creating, talking about your feelings and venting about everything that is going on at the time will help to relieve any tension and give your mind a break from storing so many thoughts and information.

When it comes to anxiety, you often need support to help increase feelings of calmness. Try to make a contact list of your top three people to call when you're going through an anxiety attack. These people could be family, friends, or even a therapist. This is beneficial for when you're ever in public going through an attack, this way you can give someone that list of numbers in case they are clueless of how to help you. These support systems may even come in handy when you're home by yourself and forget what to do. These people should know exactly how to comfort you, if not share this article with them so they know in the future.

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Healing with Cannabis

By: Brielle Merchant, MHA, CHES @wellwithbrielle

M

aybe you’ve been curious about CBD,

Hemp or THC, which all come from the Cannabis plant. For the sake of context, we will be discussing cannabis regarding its THC properties. In 2018, Canada became the second (Uruguay was the first) to legalize

1. Alaska 2. Arkansas 3. California 4. Colorado 5. Maine 6. MassachusettsÂ

cannabis across an entire country. Will the

7. Maryland

United States follow close behind? Cannabis is

8. Michigan

becoming legal in many states throughout

9. Washington

America. As of June 2019, listed are all the

10. Oregon

states that have legalized cannabis use either medically, recreationally, or both.

11. Nevada 12. Vermont 13. Washington, D.C. 14. Illinois (Jan 2020)

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Like many all-natural plant-based substances, cannabis has many potential benefits and uses. In states

CBD can be obtained without any THC

where cannabis is legal for medical

being included. States that allow the

use, a patient’s needs may vary. One

sale of CBD, therefore, do not usually

patient may report experiencing

require a special application process

anxiety, while another may use

for CBD products. Like cannabis, CBD

cannabis to support physical pain

products can be purchased in many

from injuries or disease. Despite your

forms. CBD by itself where legal can

intended usage, it’s important to get

usually be found at local smoke shops.

your cannabis from a credible source

CBD is also commonly used to reduce

like dispensaries (cannabis stores)

stress, relax, and help people sleep

since they are often regulated by the

better. Sativa strains are expected to

government. There may even be a

be more uplifting and like Indica, can

pharmacist, a medical doctor, or other

contribute to a psychoactive

knowledgeable employees available to

experience. Of course, everyone is

help you select a cannabis strain that

different and should start slow to see

is most appropriate for your needs.

what works best.

Picking strains that fits your needs...

You can maximize the benefits of cannabis by creating a routine. A selfcare routine that includes cannabis use

You can use Indica or CBD strains to

could support your healing

relax and reduce feelings of anxiety.

exponentially. The routine could be

Indica still includes mostly THC

related to your wellness needs or based

rather than CBD. This means that

on the cannabis strain you’re using at

both physical and psychoactive effects

the time. Here are some ideas to get

may be experienced. In comparison,

you started on creating the right

CBD does not create a psychoactive or

environment:

‘high’ experience. 37


Creating Routine Will you be alone or with

Incorporate it into a self-

friends? Healing may occur

care routine. Perhaps you

privately on your own, or

relax with a face mask and

with a community of

a warm bath. The time

people that you trust.

spent relaxing can be used to meditate or reflect.

What positive senses can you stimulate during this experience? Focus on each of your senses or maybe just focus on stimulating one. For instance, taking a mindful wellness walk or practicing mindful eating have

Consider

both been shown to be effective

journaling, painting,

for reducing negative feelings.

playing music or other activities that may spark creativity and joy.

These are just a few ideas, but the possibilities are endless. Do your research and explore which options work best for you. Everyone heals differently! Please Note: The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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GROW + GLOW House plants have the potential to alleviate symptoms of anxiety by producing higher quality air, and creating a grounding environment. If you work indoors or spend a lot of hours in your home, you’re breathing in indoor toxins on a regular basis. The quality of air plays a significant role in your overall health. Just think about the way you feel after going into an old dusty basement. Plants improve the quality of air, which improves the quality of your health as a whole – including your anxiety disorder. Studies have shown house plants for anxiety to do the following: • Improve reaction times • Increase attentiveness • Lower blood pressure • Boost mood • Raise productivity • Improve perception • Lower levels of anxiety • Decrease mild depression • Increase self-satisfaction

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It's a beautiful sight to see black women and men connecting back to mother nature. We're obsessed with these Insta accounts that remind us...

1. We've been hip to this 2. Mother nature provides an abundance of healing powers 3. Black Farmers Matter and continuously need our support 4. That we look so damn good surrounded by plants! *finger snaps*

TOP HOUSE PLANTS (for beginners)

Aloe Vera

Lavender

Snake Plant

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Philodendron


BLACK GIRLS WITH GARDENS IG @blackgirlswithgardens

“

A digital resource for women of color to find support, inspiration, education, and representation in gardening.

Get tips on gardening and caring for your house plants.

Get featured as a Plant Mama on their blog and IG by using #blackgirlswithgardens 41 Images via Instagram


BLACK MEN WITH GARDENS IG: @blackmenwithgardens

“

Celebrating Suns of Mother EarthÂ

#blackmenwithgardens for a chance to be featured

As the brother to BGWG, this platform shares images of pure black boy joy and magic with a selection of diverse black men. 42 Images via Instagram


BLACK WITH PLANTS IG: @blackwithplants

A true recommitment to unity through community #blackwithplants

A platform ran by D’Real Graham offers a space for black folk to be educated and rediscover their identity through relationships building within the community and reconnecting with plants. 43 Images via Instagram


Home Decor Galore!

JNAY DAILY IG: @jnaydaily

“

A feed so inspiring your space will certainly turn into a plush green haven.

Janae Brown is a lifestyle blogger sharing tips to help you find affordable pieces that can make your home the dream oasis you deserve. She also shares bits of her daily efforts to make mental and physical wellness a priority. Janae's feed reminds us that creating a space we can thrive in is beneficial to our total well-being. 44 Images via Instagram


Yass Hunty!

PLANT KWEEN IG: @plantkween

“

Christopher is a Brooklynbased Black queer femme kween, obsessed with the botanical scene and community building through plants.

An inspiring and vibrant feed that'll make you want to live your best plantfilled life. Unapologetically !

45 Images via Instagram


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Types Of Childhood C h i l d h o o d t r a u m a i s described as something scary, dangerous, or life threatening that occurs to a child between the ages of (0-18). Childhood trauma can occur by association, meaning the event could've happened to a child's friend, family member, etc. - while the child simply bore witness to said event. The effects of childhood trauma can show up through habits, in romantic relationships, friendships, workspace relations and so on. As traumatic events increase during childhood, one is more likely to develop depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide attempts, heart and liver diseases, pregnancy problems, high stress, uncontrollable anger, job instability, and family and financial issues.

Physical Abuse Causing or attempting to cause physical pain or injury to a child. This includes punching, beating, kicking, burning, or harming a child in any way. Injury may also occur when punishment is not appropriate for a child’s age or condition. Physical abuse within black families is seen as a by-product of slavery, which normalized excessive and harsh physical punishment. 49


Trauma Neglect This occurs when a parent or caregiver does not give a child the care he or she needs according to his or her age, even though the adult can afford to give that care or is offered help to give that care. Failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care, mental health treatment, education, safety, or proper supervision to a child or exposing a child to dangerous environments are all forms of neglect. Emotional neglect tends to produce more “internalizing” problems, such as depression and anxiety into adulthood, rather than “externalizing” problems, such as aggression.

Child Sexual Abuse

Emotional + Psychological Abuse/Maltreatment

Includes a wide range of sexual behaviors that take place between a child

Acts against a child that caused or could

and an adult. Alternatively, sexual abuse

have caused conduct, cognitive, or other

may take place between a child and

mental disturbances. This includes

another child/adolescent if force or

verbal abuse, emotional abuse,

manipulation is involved OR if there is a

excessive demands on a child’s

significant age difference between the

performance that may lead to a negative

children. Sexually abusive behaviors

self-image, and disturbing behavior.

often involve bodily contact, such as

Acts of omission against a child, such as

sexual kissing, touching, fondling of

emotional neglect or intentional social

genitals, and intercourse. However,

deprivation, are also considered

behaviors may be sexually abusive even

emotional abuse. Ex; overly sheltered

if they do not involve contact such as

children, prohibiting a child from

genital exposure (“flashing”), verbal

activities and interest that bring them

pressure for sex, and sexual exploitation

joy, demeaning language against a child.

such as pornography. 50


Statistics 60% of adults report experiencing abuse or other difficult family circumstances during childhood. 26% of children in the United States will witness or experience a traumatic event before they turn four. Nearly 14% of children repeatedly experienced maltreatment by a caregiver, including nearly 4% who experienced physical abuse. More than 13% of children reported being physically bullied, while more than 1 in 3 said they had been emotionally bullied. More than 60% of youth age 17 and younger have been exposed to crime, violence, and abuse either directly or indirectly. More than 10% of youth age 17 and younger reported five or more exposures to violence. About 10% of children suffered from child maltreatment, were injured in an assault or witnessed a family member assault another About 25% of youth age 17 and younger were victims of robbery or witnessed a violent act. Among 536 elementary and middle school children surveyed in an inner-city community, 30% had witnessed a stabbing and 26% had witnessed a shooting.

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Grief

Domestic Violence

Can occur following the death of someone important to a child or adult. The death is typically sudden

Domestic violence is classified as

and unexpected. Traumatic loss is

actual or threatened physical

common in black communities with

violence, sexual violence, and/or

high reports of violence against

emotional abuse between adults in an

young black men and women. People

intimate relationship. Victims of

experience grief in different ways and

domestic violence often suffer from

there is often no relief from traumatic

poor relationships, lack of self-

loss, as it's an emotional pain that

worth/ self-love.

shows up throughout one's lifetime.

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Sexual Assault The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include; rape, attempted rape, groping, fondling or unwanted sexual physical touch. Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating

(without consent).

Black women AND men are often victims of sexual assault.

Refugee and War Zone Trauma: Exposure to war, political violence, or torture. Refugee trauma can be the result of living in a region affected by the bombing, shooting, or looting, as well as forced displacement to a new home due to political reasons.

Combat-related Trauma: Military personnel engaged in direct warfare may lead to psychological harm. Exposure to death and threats to life and experience of fear or horror are common causes of combatrelated trauma.

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What Part Of The Game Is This?

By: Alexandra Walker @deeperthandesigner

Alexandra’s Story

E

very Tuesday and Saturday as a I suddenly also felt an urgent need to escape. I sprayed glass cleaner onto a

new shipment arrived, I would carefully

dust rag and maneuvered my hand in

open each box, hand check every item

between small bottles of age erasers

on the invoice, and individually scan

and fatigue-fighting potions. Perhaps

each mask, serum, and cream into the

my eyes had been tired themselves but I

computer system. Ever so delicately, I

was certain that I’d seen a boy, a man, a

would then position the tiny packages

manboy, that I’d once known, cross

in neat rows on glass shelves facing out

over the street and into my line of sight.

onto Elm Street. If I wasn’t unboxing

A wave of panic pulsed through me and

skincare, I was sweeping in corners or

before I could verify my worst fears, I

pretending to dust product shelves,

heard a glass shatter beneath me. A

anything to get me from behind my

bottle swept clear off the shelf by my

desk and closer to the window where I

very own hand, urine yellow liquid seeping into the cracks of the concrete

would watch downtown Greensboro go

floors. I jumped backward away from

by in all of its quiet characters. One day

the window and into the spill, firming

as Tracy Chapman sang of the fast car

serum staining my ballet flats.

of her lover overhead, 55


I walked through the downtown streets,

I put my headphones in, serving more as

just a few short blocks to the bus depot. It

protection against unwarranted

was cold, no warm, yes, hot, hazy. I

interaction than for entertainment, leaned

gathered the change swimming across the

my head against the window and closed

floor of my handbag and counted out the

my eyes. About ten minutes later I heard

necessary fare. Standing on the platform,

the doors struggle open, hoping the driver

I waited for my bus to pull into its lane,

had decided to end his break early. Upon

jingling the coins in my hand, eager to

lifting my lids, I had unfortunately

board and put this day behind me. The

discovered that this was not so. He had

bus rushed into its space with a loud

climbed on board, skipped his fare, and

whoosh, an unsettling and resettling of

placed himself in a seat at the very front

dust accompanying its arrival. The driver,

of the bus. It was him. The boy, the man,

a bearded man with bark-like skin and

the manboy I had recognized earlier in the

sweat decorating his hairline, put the bus

day.

in park and threw open the doors. I raised

I held my breath. Is he following me?

myself onto the first step as he held out a

Does he remember? I became still,

hand halting my progression. “This my

wishing myself invisible yet meeting the

fifteen,” he said tossing his backpack over

eyes of each passenger as they boarded

his shoulder. “But you can wait inside if

upon the return of the driver. “Evenin’,”

you want.” “Thank you,” I nodded, and

they all said as they approached, then

made space to allow his passing. Climbing

passed me. Southern pleasantries. I

aboard I contemplated whether or not to

exhaled slightly, finding minimal comfort

pay since I had been left alone. Not

in the company of others. Does he know

wanting to tempt karma, I let loose the

who I am? Does he remember? Surely he

qu art e rs s t ic king t o my p al m and

remembers because I cannot forget. I was

deposited them into the meter, then took

six, no I was seven. I was six, and I was

a seat midway towards the back. Getting

seven. My mother, a single sales

comfortable, I draped my cardigan over

professional, late thirties. First, it was

my knees to shield my legs from the frigid

radio advertisements, and later security

air conditioning meant to cool a bus

systems, sales positions that would allow

normally packed with people coming and

her to work on her own schedule,

going. 56


allowing her to drop me off at school each morning, and pick me up each afternoon. A sacrifice that granted her peace of mind with her baby girl close and safe. But even under the most watchful eye, evil can creep by as you blink. There is only but so much sacrifice you can make when there are bills to be paid. During the summer, on teacher workdays, half days, or if I felt feverish, there were still appointments to be kept, house calls to be made, deals to be closed. My mother made friends easily, and these friends would often become my sitters. One friend, in particular, a roundly, brown woman with thick glasses and four sons, was one such sitter. I was six. I was six and I was seven, and I remember her home. Dark, hot and barely breathable, roaches making their way up the kitchen walls, a television constantly blaring in the background. Ninja Turtles, race cars, WWF Wrestling, and porn. I don’t know where this friend of my mothers left off to this day. I suppose she was assured that I was safe with her teenaged and nearly teenaged boys watching over myself and her youngest, the boy closest to my age. He was three, maybe four years my senior, and for the most part, I saw him as my equal, as we were always being partnered for games and activities.

57

Sometime after his mother left the house that day, the boys popped a tape into the VCR. I didn’t know what sex was, but as the movie turned on the title told us that there were 100 ways to have it. The scenes that followed showed a woman and two men in various positions, moaning and groaning in a way I had only before come to associate with pain. One scene I can vividly playback in my head to this day is that of the woman bent over on all fours as one man penetrated her from behind while taking the other in her mouth from the front, her massive afro bouncing, her waist beads dancing. The boys watched intently from the couch behind me as I sat on the soda stained carpet. I remember it being silent aside from the grunts and moans coming from the wide-screen. The next thing I recall is being upstairs, the older boys having sent “us kids” off to play, myself and their youngest brother. I sat on the edge of the twin mattress dressed in power ranger bedding, my pink corduroy pants at my ankles. As I bent over to raise them back up to their proper place, a hand met my wrist. I can still hear his prepubescent voice saying, Wait. Don’t pull ‘em up yet.” So I clasped


58


my hands back together between my legs to

He was chubby still, his swollen fingers

cover my privates. He’d spent I don’t know

fidgeting with the top of his empty Gatorade

how long on top of me, gyrating on and

bottle. He lifted his arm to pull the stop

around my small frame. This apparent

request cord, losing his footing in dirty

“break” was prompted by his inability to

sneakers as the bus halted with inelegance. I

figure out exactly how it all worked as

watched him jump down into the

demonstrated in the video, and the

Greensboro grasses, somewhere on the

frustration it caused him. I suppose his

Southside of town. I had not determined

inexperience was my saving grace in

whether our missed interaction was due to

remaining a seven-year-old virgin. But I can

avoidance, or from failure to recognize a

still feel his skin breathing on mine, his

girlish face once abused turned womanly.

flaccid penis trying to stuff its way inside of

Either way, I was relieved to see him fade

me until he was exasperated by his

into the sunset. His presence may not have

attempts.

been forgotten, but at least it was gone.

Eventually, I was allowed to button myself

When I got home that evening, I showered

back up, once he’d run out of ideas and

and scrubbed my skin until I could no

ways to modify this game. Then the order

longer feel him crawling inside of me. I had

was restored downstairs before the return of

never spoken of this incident to anyone

the boys’ mother. And with my shame, I sat

outside of romantic partners whom I'd been

quietly, patiently awaiting the return of my

around long enough to trust. They would

own.

often ask me if this trauma of my youth

Catching glimpses of him between

made it hard for me to trust men I don't

passengers, some stumbling, swaying in

know. Ironically enough, I never felt

tune to the turns of the bus, I managed to

nervous around strange men. My life has

stabilize my breathing. He never glanced

challenged me in ways in which I've had to

back towards me, not even once. I would

exercise independence early on. Without

have rather gone unnoticed though, than for

much of an option I've had to sit around in

him to have recognized me and attempt to

an apartment with many strange men as the

spark up a conversation about how I’ve

internet was being installed, as the washer

been, what I’ve been up to all these years, as

needed repair, and almost every time I've

though everything should be normal

moved.

between us. 59


I even once sat in between two strange

adolescent behavior, nor is it a lesion or

men in a moving truck, asking to hitch a

scar to be treated. The part of me that

ride with them from city to city when I had

required healing was my spirit.

no car in LA. I have never once harbored

Healing is not linear. It is not an orderly

fear during these interactions, and I came

five-step process that won't guarantee you

to believe that it was perhaps because I

anything besides an attempt. Healing is

was not so much concerned as what new

initiated the moment you give

men were capable of, but the ones that had

acknowledgment to the pain and ceases as

been around all along; family, friends,

you fail to offer the pain space to present

childhood playmates. The ones I’ve shared

itself. I walked around for so many years

meals with, movies, game time, baths, etc.

suppressing any recollection of what

In my twenties, the incident (as I’ve come

happened to me as a child, but nothing

to call it), coupled with the revisitation of

was actually being forgotten or fixed. So

the memory after seeing my abuser in

over coffee one day alone in my house, I

downtown Greensboro that day, became

said aloud, "yeah, it happened," and

the reason, as I explained it to myself and

finished my breakfast. I am sorry no one

others, that I did not keep close

was there to protect my younger self, and I

relationships with men. Around that same

am sorry that she did not feel safe enough

time, I also began to freely explore my

to tell anyone. But the promise I made to

sexuality and wondered whether or not it

her that day at my kitchen table, was that

was also the reason I took up having

if she ever needed space to reflect, to be

romantic relationships with women. Some

angry, or to be sad, that I would offer just

would easily attribute my homosexuality

that. And with this promise, I was able to

to what I experienced as a child. However,

commence my own healing and put

I eventually had to realize for myself that

childish games away.

lesbianism is not a punishment for persuaded

60


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61


Your trauma is not your fault, but healing is your responsibility 62


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65


WAY S TO H E L P If you know someone healing from trauma or dealing with depression, below are ways to effectively help someone take another step in the right direction. Check-In • Make sure they are doing daily duties such as; taking a shower, brushing their teeth, eating, taking their medication (if any) and simply being UP vs. being in bed al day. • Don’t simply ask how they're doing, but dive into deeper conversation. Most victims don’t want to feel like a burden on anyone, which can lead to further isolation and little to no progressive steps in their healing journey.

Community • Invite them to safe spaces (ex; support groups) or create those safe spaces yourself. It should be with trusted friends, family, and/or those who have been through similar issues that the victim has. • One of the best things is to simply listen. Say less and do more. If you're feeling unsure about what someone may need to heal and move forward, listening allows you to think of seeking outside resources on how to help. When proposing outside help, approach with caution, as some victims may see this as a form of neglect. Let them know, you need help finding effective ways to help them heal.

Educate Yourself • There are many layers to healing, many layers to trauma and depression. Everyone needs a different level of care depending on what they've gone through, in addition to their personality, their upbringing, and their support systems. Educating yourself on the different types of trauma will further assist with ways to effectively help.

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Studies have shown that your gut is your second brain. What you feed your gut affects your digestion, mood, bodily health as well as your mental health.

69


Healing From Leaky Gut By: Abrielle Simone

O

@leariellesimone

ur gut is the core of our health. It takes care of our digestive and immune system

so we can function in this world properly. Our gut allows us to absorb vitamins and minerals, digest food, produce vitamins, eliminate toxins, enhance healthy immune responses, hormone regulation and creates beneficial bacteria for good brain health. It also affects our mental health-being partly responsible for our mood, thoughts, and feelings. Allat! 


So what is leaky gut syndrome? 
 A condition in which your intestinal walls start to break down preventing the body from absorbing nutrients and water. Imagine your intestinal walls as a chain or a gate blocking harmful toxins and substances from entering the body. Leaky gut is basically like a chain having gaps and holes in it, making it hard for your body to absorb what it needs to be strong and functional. This triggers your immune system and increases inflammation in the body.Â

70


I didn’t know any of this before it started

I am a Holistic Nutrition Coach so I believe

to affect my entire life. I just knew that

in intentional eating and nourishing the

things didn’t feel right. Leaky gut was

mind, body, soul. So, eliminating things

affecting my stomach, my skin, my breath,

and listening to my body sounded real

my mood. I would get bloated almost

good to me, and it worked! I cut out wheat,

immediately after every meal. I would go

gluten, meat, dairy, and junk food. I slowly

through episodes of intense constipation

started to introduce fish back into my diet

and my face would break out into tiny

and my body responded well. I added

bumps. My breath was awful! My partner

pasta back and my body went right back to

would tell me the time -- "babe, ya breath

feeling bloated and inflamed. I am now

is hot." I was easily irritated. It took almost

eating gluten-free pasta and everything is

nothing for me to get in a bad mood, feel

going well. My skin immediately cleared

frustrated or overwhelmed. I had to do

up after my detox, as well as mood

something! I went to about 4 different

improvement.

doctors about the issues I was having. The first doctor told me to take MiraLax for the

I now find myself listening to my body

first 7 days and see if it would help with

more closely, listening to its needs. I highly

bloating and constipation. It didn't work,

recommend taking a moment every time

and I also really just wanted to heal my

you eat to just listen to what your body is

constipation naturally. The second doctor

saying. Listen to how it feels and to how it

requested a stool test and the results came

reacts. From then, you'll be able to give

back fine, but I knew for a fact that

your body the love and respect it so

everything was not fine. The third doctor

desperately desires.

recommended Benefiber which made me feel more bloated. Finally, I went to a holistic doctor and she recommended that I go on a detox and as well as an elimination diet.

71


Signs that you are experiencing leaky gut • Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas
 • Brain fog, headaches, slight memory loss
 • Mood swings, depression, anxiety 
 • Skin rashes, acne, eczema
 • Joint pain, arthritis
 • Intense fatigue
 • Weak immune system (you get colds + infections easily)
 • Craving carbs or some sort of sugar
 • Hormonal imbalances (irregular periods)


72


Healing Your Gut: 2 . 1.

Eat fermented foods such as: sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and tempeh.

Take prebiotics and probiotics supplements to help get the good bacteria in your body.

3.

Drink juice or smoothies using greens like kale, spinach, collards or green powder. This makes it easier to digest and absorb. 


4.

Go on an elimination diet. Start off with a simple detox eliminating problematic foods (processed, dairy, GMO’s) then start introducing foods back into your diet. Study the effect it has on you digestive system by committing to food j o u r n a l i n g .


73


EAT MORE OF WHAT GROWS FROM THE EARTH The greener the better. The more colorful the better. Just make sure every single meal is loaded with veggies! GREENS/VEGGIES: Bok choy, brussel sprouts,

GRAINS:

broccoli, watercress, romaine

pasta, quinoa, brown rice, millet,

lettuce, kale, spinach, cabbage,

buckwheat, amaranth, sorghum,

mushrooms, swiss chard,collard

oats, teff.

Gluten free

greens, beets, arugula, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, okra,

FRUITS:

sweet potato, etc.

Blueberries,

strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, pineapples, kiwi,

MILKS: nut milk and coconut milk. 


Eliminate:

bananas, limes, lemons, oranges.

wheat, gluten, processed meat, dairy, sugar, packaged foods,

processed foods, artificial sweeteners, junk food, alcohol, and sugary drinks.

Cook With: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil. 74


When we heal our gut, we heal our life. This allows us to build up a stronger immune and digestive system. Our gut is responsible for a lot, and we are the keepers of our gut. Listen to it. Take care of it. Then listen some more... in that order.

FEATURED STORY COMING UP! Alala shares her story on healing from her auto-immune disease and choosing to live! (page 87)

75


PASSION FOUND THROUGH PAIN

M

By: Kayla Jones

y life changed in March of

However, the flu did not explain my stomach pain. I stayed home for the next 5 days recovering from the flu and once I

2010. I was in class taking an exam when

was better I started my normal activities

I felt this gut-wrenching pain in my lower

again. Three days later, while walking

abdomen. I brushed it off as menstrual

home from school, BAM! The stomach

cramps as my cycle was set to start in a

pain came back with a vengeance, worse

few days. However, there was something

than the time before. My parents took me

different about the pain I felt that day. I

to the doctor that day and this is where

tried to ignore it, but the longer I did, the

my health journey began.

more symptoms accompanied it. I started to have chills, severe nausea, and I felt

From March of 2010 to January of 2012,

extremely hot. Although it was an exam, I

doctors could not give me an accurate

immediately asked to go to the nurses'

diagnosis of what was wrong with me. At

office. She was a black woman and told

this point, I was in chronic pain and

me I probably had low blood sugar and

needed to take pain medication daily to

needed a soda. That didn’t help at all if

cope and go to school. They went from

anything it made it worse. My father

telling me it was ovarian cysts, to being

came to pick me up and took me to the

simply constipated, and then to my

doctor. We were smackdab in the middle

favorite diagnosis, “It’s all in your head”.

of flu season and I indeed tested positive for the flu. 76


After a while, my parents played into the

He put me on a medication said to help,

"it's all in my head" and that resulted in

and sent me on my way. Everything was

them thinking I was a hypochondriac. I

great until the medication wore off in early

was BEYOND irritated and the pain

2013. I was taking it every day but my pain

wasn’t going away. It was to the point

came back once again with a vengeance. I

where I had to take Miralax and anti-

decided enough was enough and that I did

inflammatory pills daily. To say I was

not want to live in constant pain. It was

miserable was an understatement. I

obvious that conventional medicine wasn’t

couldn’t go out with my friends, all I did

working and 3 years was too long to be

at home was lay down, and I barely had

this sick. I started researching how food

the energy to go to school. It wasn’t until

can heal the body and in that research, I

August of 2012 that I decided to take

found out about holistic medicine. I was in

matters into my own hands. I scheduled

college at the time and decided to take

an appointment with a

some nutrition classes to better my

Gastroenterologist and told him all of

knowledge on the subject and I asked my

my symptoms. I mentioned that I had

instructors tons of questions. From there,

not received much help from my

I changed my diet, stopped taking my

previous doctors and needed a specialist

medication, and started exercising. Within

to help remedy this situation as I was

two weeks, I felt so much better, I had my

living in chronic pain. He immediately

energy back and a smile on my face that I

ordered a colonoscopy and endoscopy to

never thought I’d see again. I found that

see if they could get a proper diagnosis. I

cutting out dairy and eating more whole

went into my procedure on August 8th

foods helped with the inflammation, thus

and finally got some answers, he told me

reduced the pain I was having very

I had Gastritis and Esophagitis which is

minimally. This direction worked perfectly

essentially inflammation of the upper

for me until I got sick with a sinus

stomach and esophagus. He said that

infection in 2014. That sinus infection

this diagnosis would explain why I was

almost took me out.

having pain on my right side and burning in my upper GI tract.

77


I also found out that I have most likely

I lost 10lbs during that time and I am

been allergic to dairy my entire life, but, I

already a petite person by nature, so I

drank milk as a baby causing permanent

didn’t have 10 lbs to lose. Being as sick as I

damage to my intestinal development,

was, I had to go to the doctor where they

making my digestive tract extremely

prescribed a round of antibiotics. The issue

sensitive as I got older. Being on the

with that is, since I was extremely

antibiotics activated my underlying issues

underweight at that time, my body could

even though it was supposed to help cure

not handle the antibiotics properly. By the

the sinus infection. How crazy is that? And

time I recovered 3 weeks later, even with

the sinus infection was a result of the high

the weight gained back, permanent damage

inflammation that was present in my body

had been done. I had worse stomach

all along. I finally got the answers I had

symptoms than before in 2010, and to add

been searching for, and you can imagine

to it I was now experiencing panic attacks,

the joyful tears I shed. Since then, I have

chronic fatigue, and dizzy spells (mind you

been working with that same functional

this was weeks before my wedding). My

doctor and my symptoms have improved

general practitioner didn’t know what to do

dramatically. I no longer have the stomach

to help me, so I went back to the holistic

symptoms as long as I keep dairy out of

approach that worked previously. I started

my diet and reduce gluten to a minimum.

seeing a functional medicine doctor by

However, the lining of my intestine is still

recommendation of my friend, Hannah,

healing. I am also maintaining regular

and they ordered extensive blood work so

levels in the vitamin deficiencies I had

they could view any and everything. I also

(vitamin D & all the B’s).

had a full physical examination and allergy tests done. When they got my blood and

I am still experiencing anxiety and high

allergy test results back I found out that my

cortisol levels. My digestion is under

body was all kinds of jacked up; I had low

control I can focus solely on healing my

blood sugar, deficiencies in multiple

hormones naturally, which should assist in

vitamins, high cortisol levels, my foods

my adrenal function, thus alleviating the

weren’t absorbing right, and I was allergic

anxiety and high stress little by little.

to gluten/soy/dairy. 78


Thankfully, I have seen improvement in that as well and the intestinal damage is repairable but will take up to approximately 2 more years to fully repair. As long as I maintain an anti-inflammatory diet and take the necessary supplements for my body, the road to full recovery is promising.

L-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and comes in powder form so you can mix it into smoothies, soups, etc. It is used for tissue repair, gastrointestinal support by enhancing the mucous lining of the intestines, and immunity support. Vitamin D deficiency contributed to my low energy and dizzy spells. African Americans are more prone to this deficiency because our melanin skin doesn’t absorb it from the sun as easily as lighter tones. This is important to know and ask your doctor about because it is said that up to 70% of African Americans are deficient and have no idea - leaving it untreated can cause long term health issues. Endocrine support supplements are herbal based and assist with my adrenal gland function, brain-stress response, and hormonal balance. Popular herbs used for endocrine support are Rhodiola, Licorice Root, Valerian Root, Ashwagandha, and St. John’s Wort.  

79


The lesson in all of this is to listen to your

It’s important that we always press the

body and trust your intuition.

issue if we feel it needs to be addressed,

Conventional medicine can be amazing for

and demand equal care because…

some people and many lives have been saved through that approach. However,

1. We are deserving of it

every-body is different, and if you are having a ton of complications, that is probably a good indicator to dig deeper. I

2. Why give your money to someone who isn’t caring for you properly?

am passionate and educate on functional medicine because it addresses the root problem instead of just treating the symptoms. Symptoms are not necessarily a clear indicator of the underlying issue, they are just that, a symptom. Most of the

African Americans are more at risk for

time you cannot diagnose someone solely

heart disease, autoimmune conditions,

based on symptoms alone, it takes

and diabetes to name a few, than any

intentionality and some real digging to get

other race. It is time for us to take control

to the root of the issue. It also doesn’t help

of our health, use the resources we have

that as African Americans, women or men,

access to, and work on disease prevention

we receive less quality health care than

instead of disease treatment because it is

other races. Because of this, we are often

possible to catch these illnesses before it’s

turned away or given the bare minimum.

too late.

It is important to fight for our bodies physically, mentally, and spiritually.

80


If you think you can heal physically without healing spiritually, you’re mistaken. - Aala Mara @aalaofficial 81


82


I HEALED MYSELF Aala’s Story

A

fter suffering from unbearable pain for over a year and a half Aala was finally

diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, most comparable to Lupus. With constant pain and no answers over this course of time, Aala suffered from not only physical illness but also fell into a depression that had her ready to give up on everything. After being saved from a suicide attempt, Aala then decided to go all-in by turning to natural alternatives and forming her own personal cleanse. We are honored to share Aala's journey of triumph, resilience, overcoming the battle, and choosing to live another day to share her story.

I went to Fort Tilden and threw myself in the water, and some guy saved me. At that time that felt like the only way to really escape the pain I was feeling. Photography

Art Direction

Phillip Raheem Banna Nega Kofi Dua

83


B + W: Tell me your story prior to officially being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease? When did the symptoms begin? Aala:

After that, I began to develop other symptoms like psoriasis, eczema, and rashes all over my body, which I never had before. Just randomly all over my body. My fingers and toes would get very cold and get blue. I had very poor circulation. My hair was super dry and brittle. I began using lots of natural oils not realizing that it was an internal issue. I began getting muscle spasm, joint pain, chronic fatigue, and memory loss. I blacked out in NYC and ended up in the ER. There were just so many issues.

Well, it started in 2015 when I got

my first symptom, but technically it started before that. I was at a point in my life where I was under a lot of emotional stress. There were a lot of things happening at home in my personal life and financial life that I felt was pounding on me. I felt like it was too much and overwhelming, and I never took the time to heal from those things. It was always; keep going, keep moving, keep doing. And low and behold in July of 2015 I had my first symptom. I woke up one morning and went to take a shower, looked at the shower floor and saw my hair (all new growth btw) all over the shower floor. To see that was traumatizing. I was hyperventilating and yelling, I honestly felt like I blacked out.

Aala explains that all of these symptoms including dizziness, dry mouth, difficulties swallowing, a voice change, and constant headaches caused her to miss days of work, and fall into depression. For over a year and a half, there were no answers, no relief, just more symptoms, more medication, and more medical bills.

I went to the doctor immediately after this. The doctor said this was a weird hair loss pattern, and mentioned it could be alopecia. And I’m like...okay. But then she took my blood samples and everything came back normal. Meanwhile, my hair is still coming out clump by clump every day. I didn’t realize that it could’ve been an underlying issue. I just saw it as hair loss.

Aala: I began to feel worse and the doctors

84

could not find out what it was. They thought I had a brain tumor, I didn’t. They thought I had thyroid issues, I didn’t. It wasn’t until one day, I went to a specialist who told me I have an autoimmune disease that resembles lupus. But by that point, I didn’t even care. I just wanted to die. I was extremely overwhelmed.


“

It’s all about transitioning the way that you think and feel to live a healthier lifestyle. You can only do that by building new habits and deprogramming the old ones.

85


B+W: What made you decide to ditch your medication and heal naturally through food? Aala:

I decided I was going to eliminate certain things and craft a cleanse that incorporates a lot of herbs to see what happens. Within two weeks l started noticing all the pain subsiding substantially. Then, just three months later, I had no more symptoms. My hair started growing back, my skin went back to normal, and I began feeling amazing in my body again. I was so SHOCKED... GRATEFUL, but shocked. It’s so crazy because the thing is I WASN’T MEANT TO DIE.

Because I didn’t have a choice.

The thing is you have 2 options whenever you’re suffering (or so I thought before finding the alternative). You can take medication to alleviate the symptoms without actually getting better, or get freedom from your illness in a different way. This is why I attempted suicide. I went to Fort Tilden and threw myself in

Nope, not at all. You are here for a reason... to share your story and help others heal.

the water, and some guy saved me. At that time that felt like the only way to really escape that pain, I was feeling. After that moment is when I decided to find another way. So, a good friend of

B+W: What does your cleanse consist of?

mine Rosanne told me about this guy Dr. Sebi and advised me to look into his work. I was at my lowest of lows and was ready to try anything at this point. He had just

Aala:

passed away at that time so I didn’t get a

which is why I teach a class on it. But it's

chance to go to his shop or anything, but

a 6-week course that primarily focuses

that helped me do my own research with

on the physical part such a detoxing the

my background in biology. I read all the

body for harmful pathogens and

science, white papers, experiments, all the

chemicals that have been internalized,

literature and took time to really

and revitalizing the organs systems

understand it. I began learning more about herbs and dove into herbalism and I've learned so much.

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Well, it’s hard to summarize


B+W: Is it predominantly plant-based? Aala:

Yeah! And I teach the science

B+W: Yes very mistaken! So do you provide one-on-one coaching for people struggling with similar issues?

behind it all. I teach gut health, epigenetics, and herbalism. Everyone can walk away with a strong foundation in herbalism, so they can know about these herbs, make things on their own, and apply it to their lifestyle. On top of that, there’s an emotional, mental and

Aala: Yes, I work with people one on one,

spiritual health curriculum. We talk

which I’m doing less of only because the demand is so high. I’m able to help more people through the AllaCare online class.

about clearing old trauma and developing new habits, which is huge! My whole thing is, I’m not trying to give anyone a protocol. I don’t believe that

And its super clutch because we’re all moving together in community, and they’re all supporting each other. We have an online portal and WhatsApp group. Everyones constantly sharing and cheering each other on, being each other’s accountability partner. That is really important, having more of an impact.

serves anyone. Its all about transitioning the way that you think and feel to live a healthier lifestyle. You can only do that by building new habits and deprogramming the old ones. Most importantly, its really about helping people to move over and access a high level of consciousness. If you think you can heal physically without healing spiritually, you’re mistaken.

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B+W: So what does your day to day lifestyle look like now? What takes priority when it comes to maintaining your well-being? Aala:

B+W: So how would you say eating well and nourishing your body is a form of self-love and self-care?

The most important thing to me is

getting enough sleep and waking up at a time that humans are supposed to wake up. It’s important because it tones my day. I practice gratitude with a whole morning routine every day. Praying, affirming myself, meditating, just pouring into myself and conditioning the day. Doing all my self-work happens as soon I open my eyes, and that’s the most important thing for me to having a balanced and great day. Eating breakfast and drinking lots of water, which I talk about all the time (laughs). And... depending on the day I’ll focus on AllaCare or it’ll be a creative day because I truly believe that apart of having good health involves tapping into your creativity.

Aala:

OMG, it’s everything! Before

your actual apartment or house that you live in, you’ve lived in your body! That’s the first thing that’s housed you and it’s so crazy. It’s like knowing that your body needs things but not serving it?.. for me, I would consider it a form of disrespect. Self-neglect. So I always try to honor myself by giving myself foods that are in the highest of vibrations. My body says it works best when you give it things that compliment it. Like life forced foods. So I’m going to give it whatever it needs it’s that most important thing in my life. I don’t understand how that doesn’t 89

resonate with people.


“

African people were the original herbalist. we were the stewards of the earth and the original people first - PERIOD! So, therefore, we have this innate connection with the earth, plants, and spirits. - Aala Mara Aala's story is a reflection of the troubles black people in today's society face. She shares her thoughts on wellness within society and the black community.

Aala:

Systematically black women and men receive the short end of the stick every time. It's

no coincidence that your zip code correlates to no access to clean water, no access to healthier food options, and limited access to healthcare. We're systemically dealing with A LOT of things that the rest of the population isn't. I'm East African, but just speaking for the diaspora, African people were the original herbalist. We were the stewards of the earth and the original people first - PERIOD! So, therefore, we have this innate connection with the earth, plants, and spirits. Our ancestors have known these things, but over the years with colonization and slavery, there's just been a lot of loss - chronic loss if you will say, of this information and erasure! It's a cultural amnesia. We're talking about people who were eating high vibrational diets, to then being forced into slavery and eat scraps. I just believe we having so many people suffering in our communities who don't have to. We don't need to continue to suffer in these ways. And we have this older generation that says things like "Oh that's what happens when you get old". This isn't necessarily the case, and we shouldn’t accept this false narrative. What's so inspiring about AalaCare is that we have so many black women signing up. There's this quote "being a black woman is like being black twice." So black women are healing themselves and will then go back and teach this healing to others. That's how you create real grassroots change because we know a single black woman will empower an entire community. There's a laundry list of issues we face, and it's important to be aware of them all, but it's also important to know that, we got this and we have the power to heal and bring healing to our communities. 90


B+W: What do you think needs to happen to help change lifestyle habits within modern black culture? I think the conversation of culture and health needs to coexist, which is slowly happening now. We need more of these conversations to move into the cultural mainstream... and not in a gentrifying-ish way but in a way that's accessible and clicks with people.

Aala On Spirituality I'm Muslim, but I'm very spiritual in less of a dogmatic way. I view spirituality as a lifestyle and as a way to simply evolve. I don't think spirituality means subscribing to anything. But if you want to do better, feel better, be happy and evolve that's spirituality. And honestly, I can't be friends with anyone who isn't spiritual. 91


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The Masculine + Feminine How overusing masculine energy and neglecting feminine energy can lead to mental and physical dis-ease.

M

When used in excess without

asculine energy has

consideration of feminine energy - this is when our environments become toxic. Whether you identify as male, female, or

dominated and affected our culture and

non-binary, we are all a mix of masculine

communities in more negative ways

and feminine, we all use both energies,

than one. The term "toxic masculinely"

contain them to different degrees, and

has been the center of many panels and

the amount and the balance between them will change for all of us in different

podcasts with very valid reasons.

circumstances and point of time.

However, the term has also received backlash from men, black men in

So how do you overuse masculine

particular who feel attacked or triggered

energy? What is masculine energy? How

by the term. One thing that's not often

does it fit in with feminine energy? What

made clear is that toxic masculinely

is feminine energy? And, most importantly, how can you fix the

affects men AND women. Meaning,

ailments and imbalance this may be

both genders are guilty of projecting an

causing you?

excess of masculine energy/traits, as well as projecting it on to others in a toxic manner. 94


Here's a list to help you identify some masculine vs. feminine traits:

FEMININE

MASCULINE

(Left side of body)

(Right side of body)

Non-Linear

Linear

Creative

Structured

Nurturing

Protective

Moon

Sun

Dark

Light

Yin

Yang

Receiving

Giving

Surrender

Freedom

Empathy

Direction

Flowing

Logical

Sensual

Focused

Affection

Stable

Sharing

Independent

Tender

Disciplined

Patient

Confident

Intuitive

Aware

Water

Fire

Slow

Fast

Sensitive

Hard

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Ancient studies identify feminine as the left side of the body and masculine on the right. Maintaining harmony between the left side and the right side is a key to wholeness. We can foster awareness of our relative state of balance by tuning in to our bodies. This can be done through meditation, reiki, and other forms of spirituality. When you close your eyes and scan your body, what do you see? You may find that most of your ailments, from acne to muscle tension, occur on the left side of your body. This might indicate that your feminine aspect is out of balance in some way. Similarly, if you notice a lot of tension, bruising, scars on the right side of your body, perhaps your masculine side is overtaxed or weakened. Just noticing an imbalance is the beginning of healing. Some imbalances may be long-standing and will take time to bring your system into equilibrium.

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The Divine Masculine: The Divine Feminine: Is the energy of action, focused on faith-based action, rooted in open-mindedness and love. Is the energy of Beingness. Allowing one to just be, and become into their own without pressure. Powerful, loving, and caring. It allows trust and faith in and patiently observes by leaning back. The Divine Feminine is the one that finds its path from the inside out through love and feels freedom from within. The woman/man that embodies this energy is magnetic and able to attract everything they want knowing that it’s the energy of co-creation and manifestation. Its the essence of innocence and purity, love and divine knowing. The energy of intuition and faith, allowing the Universe to support her on the soul path simply because of BEING. There is no energy of desperation, neediness or lack which relates to what is referred to as the Wounded Feminine. By being in this energy of relaxation, trusting, allowing, giving, and receiving, we’ve made room for rest, recovery, rejuvenation, receptivity, and love to manifest in our lives. By doing nothing, you do so much more – this is the main principle of this energy.

With this divine energy, you listen to and honor the divine feminine’s knowing, receive her intuitive downloads, and then act upon them with faith. It acts out of a knowing that all is well, always will be and that you are always held and supported by something much greater than you. The divine masculine operates off of a force so magnificent it cannot be conceived with the human mind. The Divine Masculine energy unites the world in love, peace, and personal authority, allowing all beings and all things to have a seat at the round table of oneness. It is the man/woman that gives their coat for a person in need, it is the genuine care for a relative or a neighbor. When this energy manifests with conflict and control, fear has taken the reins and that is what we call the Wounded Masculine. The wounded side comes from the energy of proving, struggling, achieving to prove worthiness, and feeling fear of not being loved or welcomed enough. Trusting yourself to know exactly what to do and when to do it – this is the main principle of this energy. These days we are seeing an increase in toxic masculine energy and the patriarchal approach to life, especially in the western world. When this energy is overly present, violence and competition in various forms are taken over. 98


We all possess and use both masculine and feminine energy, regardless of gender. In constantly undervaluing and disrespecting an innate part of ourselves, it's no wonder so many people suffer from lack of self-worth and struggle to achieve inner-peace and wholeness, and in turn, be able to recognize this struggle in others. Learning to respect feminine energy/traits along with masculine, first in ourselves and then in others, will do a lot for not only our mental and physical health but also society as a whole.

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BE. WELL

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BLACK + WELL: Healing  

Black + Well is an exclusive collective digital magazine for the black community. In this issue, we zoom in on healing from trauma, anxiety,...

BLACK + WELL: Healing  

Black + Well is an exclusive collective digital magazine for the black community. In this issue, we zoom in on healing from trauma, anxiety,...