My Beloved! It’s Time To Heal!

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So, I just returned from an amazing weekend of healing and learning! I must say that it has been one of the most powerful experiences in my life to date! And what’s even more beautiful is that I had the honor of sharing this journey with a phenomenal goddess, sister teacher, mentor momma Tracey Bryant Swint of Love My Womb Academy and a sister circle of beautiful women from around the country!

During this empowering weekend, not only did I become a certified Goddess Steam Practitioner and Fertility Massage Specialist, I learned so much more about myself! I had no ideal how broken and fragmented I was. The pain and scars were deep! I gained a new understanding of how our brain really works hard to protect us from deeply embedded trauma, to the point that we do not even realize it’s there.  Another powerful take away from this weekend was the emergence of my sacred soul Purpose! Now of course, I have always known that I AM Sex! However, I just did not know that the depth and breadth of my Purpose would be something beyond this realm. This weekend I learned why I was Chosen and Consecrated! I learned why The Spirit gifted Me and needed Me to do The Work that I do! I learned that I am non-traditional, non-linear, multi-dimensional ethereal, sacred soul being of light, Spirit, heart, and healing. In other words, I’m goddess AF! 

As we participated in a variety of activities over the three-day period, the reoccurring theme for me centered on healing! It was very clear that I had to do the necessary “work” in order to transcend to the next phase in my LIFE! I had to unpack my -ish, deal with my negative spirits, cleanse my energy and make peace with my traumas – spiritual, emotional, mental, sexual, energetical, physical social, historical, biochemical, financial, institutional, etc. I had to face, feel, find, forgive and fvck all of that in order to heal!

Now what does it truly mean to heal?

I’ll be the first to say that the process healing is definitely not for the faint of heart! It’s not some cute “oh I guess I’ll do this healing thingy” cause “it’s trendy” for social media likes type thingy!  Healing is scary! It’s painful! It’s fvcking uncomfortable! It’s exposing vulnerability! It’s grief and loss of all kind! OUCH!! Who wants any part of that -ish? But in order to heal, it’s necessary! Healing is also reoccurring; meaning that it’s not a one-time event and BOOM….I’m healed.  Healing is a lifelong process that occurs on multidimensional levels – simultaneously and sometimes not. It requires consistent intention on our part. For the rest of our lives, we are healing.

As we move forward on our healing journey, it’s so important to remember that even though we may feel like we have already “done the work” to overcome a specific area or challenge in our lives, it may show up again. When it does, we tend to wrap ourselves in shame, guilt, embarrassment, and other negative emotions, which only adds to the layers of trauma and prolongs our healing. However, during those moments when we feel those negative emotions, it will be important that we lean into the discomfort, honor the emotion, extend ourselves Grace and ask Spirit what’s required of us within this experience. When we do this, healing occurs on a much deeper level of understanding! 

How do we begin to heal?

We begin the process by having an open heart and intentional vulnerability. An open heart allows receptivity. It means that we are open to whatever Spirit has for us to receive. Intentional vulnerability means that we have made an active choice to show up and be present in the experience. It means that we’ve removed all barriers and any preconceived notions of what our healing experience should entail.

Now notice that I did not say healing required us to be strong, brave or not afraid! Because at times during the healing journey, we will feel weak. We will feel like giving up. We will feel afraid. And all that’s ok!  Nevertheless, we must push through those limiting emotions, even if we must do it afraid. 

When we do push through, we begin to vibrate higher! The vibrational law of the universe begins to access and draw in all that is good! We become aligned with others who share our vibrational pattern and contribute to the love, wisdom and beauty of our lives. We become our highest self! And that, my Beloved, is the beauty of healing!

I emerged from the weekend as a new woman! I AM more entrenched in my sacred soul Purpose! I AM more aligned with my Soul Tribe! I AM more prepared to serve you! I AM THAT which I AM – non-traditional, non-linear, multi-dimensional ethereal, sacred soul being of light, Spirit, heart, and healing. In other words, I’m goddess AF!  And even though this experience has changed me and I have completed this level of healing, I know there is so much more to come! Although I do not know when, where, or how, I now reside in a space of honor and gratitude because I can appreciate the beauty in healing! 

My Beloved, what’s keeping you from healing? It’s time to reclaim your life and rewrite your story! It’s time to walk in your Purpose and authenticity! It’s time to unpack the trauma, close the door on pain and get rid of all the lies and deception that have been weighing you down all these years! I know it’s scary BUT I’m here to support you along the way! That’s what my brand is all about! That’s my sacred soul Purpose, my life’s work….to hold space for you! So whenever you’re ready to do the work, I got you my Beloved! I walk with you my Beloved! Now let me help you heal!

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I AM Sex Masterclass starting 9/17

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For many years, society, religion, family, culture, race, etc. has told us how to express our sexual selves. These things have placed us in box, that did not leave much room for variation. In fact, it has contributed to the trauma and unhealthy layers upon layers of -ish! It’s no wonder many why so many people are unhappy or not living the lives they truly desire to live. It’s also very obvious that many people are settled for unfulfilling relationships, that at best offer lack luster intimacy and sexual pleasure.

What if you could truly be who you wanted to be? What if you could walk authentically in your sexuality? What would that feel like? What would that look like? What would happen if we could begin to heal and celebrate our sexual selves? Life would take on a whole new meaning and we would begin to vibrate and operate from our true authentic selves attracting all the things we desire!

The I AM Sex Masterclass is great for those who are truly committed to unpacking their -ish, healing and moving past all the layers of stuff that’s been holding them back, so that they can own their sexuality, experience their authenticity and vibrate and operate from their highest self!

Now what will I learn? You will learn…

What it means to truly embody your sexuality
The real deal about sexual empowerment
All about the Human Sexual Response Cycle
Barriers to sexual pleasure
Models for sexual pleasure
The different types of orgasms
How to increase sexual pleasure
How to communicate sexual desires
How to take care of your sexual health
All about Sexual Choreography

And so much more…

Click here to learn more!

 

F THAT! Don’t Shrink Masterclass Starting Sept 22

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Where does the courage come from to walk away from it all and begin to live? How do we become confident enough to forego the societal norms, cultural mores, antiquated beliefs, and traditions so that we can live out loud and on purpose?

How do we live LIFE on our terms without sacrificing too much ourselves in relationships? Where do we find the strength to say F! That and step out boldly and audaciously into our authenticity? If you’re like me, you’ve asked these questions a million times. Well guess what? I’ve finally found the answer! I’ve learned to say F! That! I refuse to shrink!

If you’re not ready for authentic transformation, then this class isn’t for you! It’s ok, to click off this page and continue on existing the way you have been! BUT if you’re ready to do the work to live the life you’ve always wanted, then I strongly encourage you to sign up for this class to begin your journey TODAY!

Click here to learn more!

Join The SoulTribe

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The SoulTribe is created specifically with purpose and intention to help offer guidance along our journey to healing, discover, exploring, honoring and celebrating ALL that we are and will become! It’s a space to hold our authenticity – whatever that means to us!

The SoulTribe Lounge is an exclusive VIP, online safe space that was specifically created for you to say F THAT! and begin to unpack the -ish that’s been holding you back from walking in your authenticity. It’s necessary! It’s self-care! It’s permission! It’s forgiveness! It’s growth! It’s for YOU and for ME! It’s our sacred space!

It’s here we will do “THE WORK!” We will hold ourselves accountable! We will feel our pain and fill our pain with Purpose! We will manifest with intention! We will transcend to our highest self! WE WILL LOVE!!! YES! WE WILL LOVE OURSELVES UNAPOLOGETICALLY!! F THAT!

Click here to learn more!

2018 Bedroom Kandi Convention

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I was blessed again this year to be one of the speakers for the annual Bedroom Kandi Convention in Atlanta! When I tell you that it was truly an amazingly beautiful and empowering experience to chat, hug, reunite, and meet some awesome people from all over the country, it would be an understatement.

From the time I arrived Friday morning at 7:05AM, yup I took a red eye, it was on! The Bedroom Kandi Consultants (BKBCs) had already taken over the Hilton Atlanta Airport! Friday afternoon was filled with various workshop running concurrently. Friday evening, we enjoyed a cocktail meet & greet with entertainment by the boss lady herself, Kandi, and the amazing Kelly Price. Saturday afternoon including training on products. Bedroom Kandi President, Nadine Thompson, Bedroom Kandi co-owner, Suki Dunham, Dean Elliott, Founder & CEO of Sliquid and LaTanya Tibbs, the original “V-Bar Lady” shared their expertise on products within the BK line. One major surprise and highlight of the day was the launch of Kandi’s new makeup line “Kandi Koated.” On Saturday evening, everyone got all dolled up for an awards dinner and celebration. Sunday began with a gratitude service followed by a training session with Dr. Nicole Haig. Yours truly engaged the audience in a brief but powerful chat on “New Trends in Sex Ed.” You can check out the video on my website. I also had the opportunity to participate on a panel with Dr. Rachael Ross of the TV show The Doctors, Dr. Nicole and Gail Crowder. Sunday’s session ending with words of inspiration from Dora Chambers. Kandi closed out the convention by motivating the BKBCs to continue their journey to becoming a BOSS!

The entire weekend was filled with love, laughter, education, healing and lots of fun! It was like a family reunion! As always, the Bedroom Kandi team and consultants were very warm and welcoming! To be a part of such a dynamic environment is not only inspirational but powerful! To witness the BKCBCs sharing tips and techniques, supporting and encouraging each other in their entrepreneurial endeavors was awesome!
But now I’m tired and my eyes are still red…..LOL

Please Touch Here For Pleasure! 8 Sexual Turn Ons You’ve Been Missing Out On!

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When it comes to sex, it’s important to keep things spicy! Always touching, exploring, stimulating the same ole erogenous zones i.e.. breast, clitoris, nipples, neck, lips ears, etc. gets boring! And besides the muscles hold memory, making it increasingly difficult to become aroused by the same ole stuff! It’s time to switch it up a bit and learn some new places to touch! Thinking outside the box can be really beneficial when it comes to sex play! Not only can it build trust and increase intimacy, it can also increase sexual pleasure by helping you find unlikely erogenous zones! Check out the 8 sexual turns on you’ve been missing out on:

1. One of the most sensual places to touch is the stomach area between the pelvic bone and belly button. Gently stroking, massaging or licking encourages blood flow to the entire sexual region which helps to increase sexual excitement.

2. When stimulated properly, the soles of feet can be very arousing. It also relieves stress and elevates libido by activating glands and hormones that increase sexual drive. Lightly pressing or massaging along the inner edge of the middle part of the foot relaxes the pelvic area improving the circulation and blood flow to the genitals. Also, starting at the ball of the foot and rubbing down towards the heel can increase blood flow which can help to increase orgasms.

3. The front of the hips, inner thighs and just above the knee are lesser known erogenous zone. Massaging this area will loosen up the hip flexors and get the blood flowing in these areas. It also makes it easier to rotate the hips and move in and out of various sexual positions.

4. The mons pubis commonly referred to as “the triangle” area is highly sensitive and very stimulating when lightly stroked or licked. Gently applying pressure with tongue or finger will encourage blood flow to genitals. Also using a low intensity vibrator will send intense rhythm vibrations through the pelvic region helping to increase orgasmic intensity.

5. It’s true that eyes are the gateway to the soul. They are also the gateway to intimate and sexual connection with your partner. Gazing loving into your partners eye in the heat of the moment can send energetic vibrations that resonate throughout their body. This vibration heightens the increases the heart rate, increases blood flow and increases the orgasmic intensity.

6. There’s nothing more sensual than breathing deep rhythmic breaths with your Beloved. Couple that with gazing into your lover’ eyes creates an explosive reaction. For a deeper intense and seductive connection with your lover, try Fire Breathing. Fire breathing ignites a hot sexual charge that moves rapidly through your body, helping to open all your chakra centers.

7. There’s nothing like a good mind f*ck! The mind is the biggest sex organ! Stimulate your partner with endearing and intoxicating words. Painting a picture with your words. Creating the visual will send magically vibrations that will touch their souls, open their heart and release sexual inhibitions.

8. Take your sexual experience beyond the physical realm with Tantric Sex. Tantric sex helps partners connect on a spiritual, emotional and mental level. Partners who practice Tantra experience unparalleled levels of ecstasy, including full body orgasms. Trust, the turn on level is real.

When it comes to learning exactly what stimulates and turns your partner on, “body mapping” can be extremely beneficial but not only that, it’s fun! Exploring all the nooks and crannies of your partner’s body can turn into a pleasurable adventure that’s leads to hidden erogenous treasures and powerful orgasm.

A Tall Refreshing Glass Of Lemonade!

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My Beloved, there’s nothing like a tall, ice cold glass of lemonade in summer! The tangy yet sweet taste of lemons coupled with just the right amount sugar, makes for a delicious and refreshing summer beverage! The process, however, of making fresh squeezed lemonade is not as refreshing as the end results! Squeezing, applying pressure and straining lemon after lemon eventually becomes quite exhausting! Trust me, I know! I’m telling you from personal experience! I’ve squeezed, applied pressure to and strained so many lemons this year, I’m surprised my hands are not yellow with a permanent lemony fresh scent!

It’s amazing what can transpired in a matter of a few months! And just think, the year is only half way over! The first part of this year has been rough! I feel like I’ve been caught in a whirlwind that just won’t stop spinning! It’s crazy how long a few months can feel! In the grand scheme of life, a few months is but a short moment of the meantime. But that meantime, can be a muthafvcka! So, how do you survive the meantime? You make lemonade and you dance! In others My Beloved, like the age old adage says: “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade!” I just added the dance part because dancing releases stress, tones up the body and feels so damn good! And besides, you might as well look good while your navigating the meantime…right?

As I drink lemonade and dance myself into summer, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s going to sizzle! From this three digit Vegas heat to all the new exciting adventures and people I’m sure to meet!, this summer will be HOT! My Beloved, I sure hope your summer sizzles! Just keep in mind as you embark on your summer adventure, it may get hot in the meantime! But when it does, just make yourself a tall, ice cold glass of lemonade to refresh yourself! Is your mouth watering yet? Mines sure is!

Is It Time For A Sexual Energy Cleanse?

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Sexual intercourse is one of the most vital and powerful life forces and forms of energy. It has the capacity to change the trajectory of life. Sexual intercourse can cause a dynamic shift – positive or negative in our lives depending on the kind of energy that we absorb. It can transport us to sublime states of bliss, cast us into the darkest pits of anguish, wreak havoc or convert into creativity and healing.

When a man and a woman have sexual inter-course, whether it’s during a one-night, stand or within the context of a long term relationship, they are uniting mind, body, spirit and soul. Their energies are intertwining to create powerful sexual energy cord. This sexual energy cord creates long lasting soul ties that can become forever embedded within the mind, body and spirit and keep us attached to that individual AND every individual he or she has ever had sexual intercourse with if the cord is not and the energy is not cleansed.

A sexual energy cleanse is a great way to cut the sexual cords, cleanse your energy and purify your mind, body, spirit and soul! It is one of the most important step you can take to reclaim your sexual self. The concept of cleansing your sexual energy is the same as personal hygiene. If you do not cleanse, your body will begin to collect residue. It will become dirtier and dirtier as time goes on until eventually your body even becomes a breeding ground for disease and bacteria. If you do not cleanse your sexual energy, your energy will be “dirtier” and will eventually be weighed down by the residue you have collected from the partners you have had over time. This sexual energetical residue that is left behind from lovers, past and present, can drain your energy, block happiness, hinder success and create emotions that can cause confusion, depression and so much more.

How do I do a sexual cleanse?

There are two important steps to cleansing your sexual energy: Cut the sexual energy cord and cleanse the sexual energy.

Step 1: Cutting the sexual energy cord
First, you must cut the sexual energy cord or cords! This requires intentional sexual abstinence. This means abstaining from all sexual activities that arouse you and stir up your sexual energy. This will allow you to completely focus on your sexual cleansing. Engaging in any sexual activities during this time will be a distraction and will prevent you from completing your sexual cleansing journey.

If you want to have some fun with it, you may even want to have a Purge and cleansing party and invite your girl friends to participate. Write down the names all the people you want to purge and cleanse from your sexual energy on a piece of paper and burn it. Or consider writing the names on a balloon or paper lantern. This symbolic burning or release will represent cutting the sexual energy cord.

Step 2: Cleansing the sexual energy
The dimensions of our sexuality are all equally important. When one dimension is out of balance, chances are the other dimensions will be off as well. Therefore, it is important to cleanse each dimension when you are doing a sexual cleanse.

Because our sexuality and sexual intercourse impact so many dimensions (mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, social) of our lives, you may want to include activities that will cleanse each dimension of negative sexual energy.

Cleansing your emotional dimension. You must completely rid yourself of the negative impacts of your past and current sexual partners. Start by giving yourself permission to grieve the situation. Face your emotions and feelings surrounding your sexual partners. It’s important to come to terms with your emotions and feelings, even it’s not pleasant. It is very necessary to cleanse toxic emotions and feelings. Our body holds memory. Every cell in your body has a receptor for emotions. This means that every tissue, organ, and muscle in your body is carrying emotions. Holding on to negative emotions, thoughts and beliefs can manifest itself physically causing illness and disease. Some activities that may help cleanse your emotions include: journaling your feelings, talking with a therapist, become reacquainted with your best self, writing a “symbolic” letter to your sexual partners expressing your emotions, take a break from social media, discontinue any toxic relationships, etc.

Cleansing your mental dimension. Our brain is our biggest sex organ! When you’re inundated with a lot of negative mental thoughts, especially about your Beloved, your sexual energy is thrown off. It’s more difficult to connect with your partner, harder to experience pleasure and enjoy the moment. Additionally, focusing on goal-oriented sexual experiences is also counterproductive. The more your focus your mind, the more barriers you create and the less your body responds the way you want it to. Cleansing in the mental dimension helps to eliminate unhealthy negative or unproductive inner chatter that contributes to blocking your sexual energy. It also helps to provide much needed clarity, enhance relationships, increase pleasure and the connection between mind and body.  Some activities that may help include: meditate, talk with a therapist, volunteer, find a new hobby, practice mindfulness, quiet the mind with intentional silence, try breathing exercises, listen to meditative music, take a break from social media, discontinue any toxic relationships, and Chakra opening exercises, etc.

Cleansing your spiritual dimension. In many cultures, sex is actual considered one of the highest forms of spiritual connectivity. When sexual energy is connected to our spiritual dimension it becomes infused with an ecstatic state of sacredness. When we fail to consider the connection between our sexual energy and spirit we are more likely to to have negative or unhealthy sexual experiences which can be extremely damaging to our spirit; causing shame, guilt, anxiety, depression, disease and so much more. By cleansing your spiritual dimension, you release the negative and unhealthy sexual patterns, thoughts and behaviors through forgiveness and letting go of the labels, judgment, shame, guilt and emotional baggage around your sexual history. If you’re carrying around sexual ‘baggage’ from your childhood, past relationships and/or traumas of what happened any time before this NOW, is the time to consider a sexual cleansing in your spiritual dimension. Some activities within this dimension include: prayer/ talking to God – a higher power, rededicating yourself to spiritual commitments, “honoring your temple” by abstaining from all behaviors, reciting daily affirmations and/or devotions, discontinuing any toxic relationships, and redefining the meaning of life, etc.

Cleansing your physical dimension. Every physical space has energy and doing a physical space cleansing, especially in the physical spaces where you spend a lot of your time very important. It is important to cleanse both internal and external physical spaces. Your internal physical space includes your physical being/body. Your external physical space includes your surrounding physical environment such as your home. Energy is recorded in the walls, the floor, the ceiling, the furniture, objects and plants, it gets imprinted in the very fabric of the structure of your home. When your physical dimension is clutter with debris – literally and figuratively – your sexual energy is low. You may feel, weighed down, tired, fatigued, depressed, etc. In addition, your sexual desire is low and you’re less likely to want to engage in sexual activity. Cleansing your physical space get rids of disease and unhealthy and negative energy, including people, and brings it into alignment with your intention(s). Activities to cleanse your internal physical being include: maintain regular medical checkups, vaginal steam, exercise pelvic floor muscles, aerobic exercise, detox, minimizing time on social media, monitor your choice of television programs and being mindful of the type of music you listen to, cut back on energy draining foods, balance Chakras, etc. Activities to cleanse your external physical dimension include: sage smudging, utilizing principles of Feng Shui to balance energy, removing television and other devices from bedroom, burn energy infused oils and candles, let some sunlight and fresh air into your rooms, add some plants , be mindful of the types of energy you invite into your physical space, de-clutter your space, etc.

Cleansing your social dimension. The old saying birds of a feather flock together does hold some merit. The people we chose to surround ourselves with will tend to have an impact – negative and positive- on our lives. It’s the basic law of attraction. The energy we put out is what we will receive in return, therefore it is extremely important to surround yourself with positive people. When we surround ourselves with unhealthy people, settings and/or situations, we’re less likely to protect our sexual energy. Additionally, we’re more likely to engage in behaviors that put us at risk for sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, sexual trauma, and other unintended consequences of our poor sexual choices. Removing yourself from any person, settings and situations that may trigger sexual energy is a great way to start. By abstaining from all sexual activities, settings and behaviors that trigger your sexual energy, you are protecting your sexual energy setting yourself free from the sexual energy cord that has kept you tied to unhealthy sexual relationships and activities. To cleanse your social dimension, consider trying some of the following activities: disconnect from social media, clean up your “friends” list, surround yourself with more positive people, volunteer your time helping others, remove yourself from toxic settings, cut ties with unhealthy relationships, this includes family.

Sexual intercourse is a powerful and pleasurable experience! It creates a powerful bond. The longer and more intimate the contact with another person, the more powerful the reinforcement and the interaction of the bond becomes, and the more difficult it is for them to untangle and leave. Pay attention and be discerning regarding whom you share your sexual energy with. Everyone does not deserve to experience and/or share in this very intimate and intense bond with you! Doing a sexual cleanse will require you to face your ish and do the work! But it will be well worth it! Finally, remember, sexual energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transformed. So, transform yours into something beautiful by cutting the unhealthy negative sexual cord and cleansing your sexual energy.

The State of HIV Among Women: A Special Report

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March 10th was National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. As I sit here a reflect on the state of HIV among women and girls, I am very disheartened. There is still so much work to do to around empowering women and girls to reduce their risk for HIV.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 280,000 women aged 13 and older are living with HIV in the United States, and 7,402 women were diagnosed with HIV in 2015. Black/African American women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, accounting for 61% of recent diagnoses but only 13% of the female population. Though most women who get HIV get it through vaginal sex, women who inject drugs are also at risk for HIV.

With these alarming statistics, it is apparent that although the current prevention messages, programs and interventions are not working. The miseducation and misinformation that exist, about HIV and AIDS, within our society is distressing. In addition, the unsympathetic and insensitive tone that exist within our society when it comes to HIV and AIDS helps to continue to create an environment where people are suffering in silence. The lack of education and fear breeds judgement and only continues to further stigmatize individuals who are infected and affected by HIV.

Once viewed as an individual problem, HIV is now also being viewed as social, economic and/or structural barrier that women must navigate in order to receive quality services and treatment. Race and ethnicity, alone, are not risk factors for HIV infection. Policy, poverty, cultural, social and structural influences are associated with higher HIV/AIDS incidence among Black and low income women. Black and low income women at high risk for HIV often sustain the brunt of racism, gender inequality, culturally and social constructed gender roles, discrimination, poverty, lack of access to health care, lack of transportation, economic inequalities, lack of childcare, lack of stable housing sexual violence, etc.

These social determinants may be influencing factors which can contribute to their decreased ability to reduce their risk for HIV transmission. Ending the HIV epidemic will require developing interventions that will empower women and their families with the knowledge, skills and tools that will help them get out of poverty, offer economic stability, provide secure stable housing, and secure access to health care.

Suffering in Silence: Who’s in? Who’s out?

In the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic because it was characterized as a gay, white man’s disease, researchers and pharmaceutical companies began research and testing based on their disease manifestation and progression. Black and low income women living with HIV were unaccounted for in prevention efforts, clinical research and treatment efforts; although the rates of infection were continuously increasing. For example, women living with HIV were excluded from experimental drug testing, clinical research trials and denied financial assistance because eligibility was based on men who were living with HIV. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) definition of AIDS was originally based on the clinical research and data based on the disease progression and manifestation in gay white men; who had been the basis for research. The problem with this definition is that it did not account for the differences in disease transmission, manifestation, progression and/or unique characteristics of HIV specific to women. As a result, policy makers, advocates, physicians and other care providers did not understand nor know how to treat women living with HIV.

The limitations of this definition contributed to HIV- related morbidity in women.
Failure of the CDC and NIH to address and support comprehensive studies for HIV manifestation in women made it extremely difficult for women to get early diagnosis and treatment, prevention education, Social Security Supplemental cash income benefits, access to Medicaid coverage and federally funded HIV initiatives for women. The definitions have become symbolic of systematic neglect of women’s needs and concerns in the HIV/AIDS epidemic: women are still forgotten in research agendas, and lack access to care and early intervention.

Finally, after strong and collective advocacy efforts by community-based organization (CBO), AIDS service organizations (ASO) and HIV advocates and those living with HIV, the CDC and NIH expanded the AIDS definition in 1993 to include language that addressed female specific symptoms, nevertheless many of the HIV policies and programs that were created and implemented still failed to address the unique challenges, social determinants and structural barriers that women faced. As a result of this lack of representation, women continued to suffer in silence and isolation. Among those suffering in silence were HIV positive advocates and trailblazers like The Women’s Center for Women’s Policy Studies (CWPS), Patricia Nalls (The Women’s Collective), Dázon Dixon Diallo (Sister Love, Inc.) and Rae Lewis Thornton. Together with the assistance of allies such as Bettina Campbell (YOUR Center), Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee and Debra Fraser-Howze (National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS), who would not back down and kept women’s HIV issues at the fore front; much progress was made. It was because of their tenacity and perseverance, that HIV and women’s concerns were given much consideration.
Now granted we have come some long ways in the field of HIV and AIDS. And yes, people are living longer and managing to live a quality life within the spectrum of the disease, as results of HIV treatments, I cannot help but think that we are still missing the mark when it comes to HIV efforts among women. Despite this progress, the CDC still emphasizes that women, especially Black women continue to bear the brunt of the epidemic. To begin seeing a reduction in the numbers of women becoming infected with HIV and other STIs, we need to begin to rethink how we see HIV. There still needs to be a sense of urgency placed on HIV outreach, education and prevention messages.

We must do a better job of implementing holistic, comprehensive and culturally relevant programs and interventions that address the entire woman, including her environment and her lifestyle. All programs/interventions must incorporate knowledge, skills and tools in all the Dimensions of Wellness: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and economical. In addition, such programs and interventions should also address institutional, political, social, cultural and economic barriers that women must face in order to access quality health care.

We must come together as women, wives, sisters, daughters, aunts, cousins and friends, and begin to take control of our sexual health! We must get informed, get tested, build skills, and change behaviors. Our lives matter! We must demand more! Advocate for better access to health care! We must love ourselves enough not to settle for someone else’s man! We must support each other and honor sisterhood. We must set a standard from which we will not deviate! We must take back our families and communities! We must break the cycle! It begins with us! It must begin with us! And it begins right here and now! “The Best Defense Is a Good Offense.” Take steps today to protect yourself and your partners against HIV.

Is Being “Superwomen” Killing Us?

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Strong, independent, nurturer, caregiver, wife, mother, sister, adult, employee, co-worker, family doctor, playmate, friend, and the list goes on! Oh yes! We have rightfully earned the title of “superwoman” because we have the uncanny ability to meet all the demands, from others, that have been place on our lives. But is being “superwoman” killing us? In trying to live up to this superwoman persona, we have unconsciously allowed our needs and wants to fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, by the time we get around to caring for ourselves, we are so burnt out that we don’t have enough energy left. Sadly, this leaves us fatigued, bitter, angry, feeling guilty and so on. It also makes us more susceptible to mental health challenges, physical illness and even death.

Societal beliefs, cultural norms and unhealthy intergenerational patterns that have been passed down from great-grandma and nem have in many ways indirectly and even directly contributed to this superwoman persona. We try relentlessly to live up to this image; which in turn creates all sorts of internal chaos and dysfunction. Meanwhile our spouses, partners, children, co-workers, etc. continue on thriving while we’re barely surviving.

While as very flattering as it is to be all things to everyone, we need to lovingly shift our focus and attention back to meeting our own needs first. Is this selfish you ask? Absolutely not, it is what I like to refer to as the law of self-preservation! During a flight, the flight attendant clearly states if there happens to be a loss of cabin pressure during the flight that you must first securely fasten your own masks before assisting others. “First securely fasten your masks before assisting others” is the exact approach we need to take for our lives. In essence, the bottom line is that if we are not whole, healthy, happy individuals then we are not in a position to be of support or assistance to anyone else.

It’s time to reclaim the number one spot in our lives. Loving ourselves first has to become the priority! I’d like to share with you some practical ways to begin your journey today. Keeping in mind that this journey may be one of challenges and change, so I encourage you to be gentle and forgiving of yourself as you learn to love yourself first.

So How Do You Reclaim Yourself?

Self-Acceptance. To thine ownself be true! In order to love yourself, you must be true to who you are! This can be achieved by embracing and honoring who you are and where you are at this very moment in time. Self-acceptable also means understanding that you are not perfect and knowing that’s ok. Beauty is not defined by perfection but rather character. However, if you find something within your character to be unfitting, self-acceptance empowers you to actively seek out ways to improve that which you find unfitting. It also gives you the strength to change. And during this time of transition and growth, self-acceptance allows you to find peace and appreciation within the process because self-acceptance understands that it’s not about the destination but rather the journey.

Self-Esteem. Self-Esteem is powered by self-acceptance. Once you can accept yourself you can begin to love yourself flaws and all! When you are operating from a high level of self-esteem, you are less likely to put yourself in harms way and more likely to take care of yourself. You do not allow your integrity, dignity, safety or health to become comprised. A woman of distinction yet meek and humble in character; reputation does not become you. You do not allow others to define you. “If you don’t define yourself for yourself, you’ll be crunched into other people’s fantasies of you and eaten alive” Audrey Lorde

Self-Efficacy. In addition to having high self-esteem, high self-efficacy is an essential element of loving yourself first. Self-efficacy is a belief in your ability to succeed in any given situation. Your sense of self-efficacy plays a major role in how you set goals, approach tasks, handled challenges and overcome obstacles. A woman with high self-efficacy believes that she can do whatever she put’s her mind to. Even if she doesn’t know how to do something, she has enough dignity to ask, without feeling threaten or losing sight of who she is and her capability. However, she realizes there is strength in vulnerability and uses it as a platform to success. She utilizes her talents and gifts for a purpose beyond herself.

Self-Care. Operating from a place of self-love includes maintaining balance within the Five Dimensions of Wellness: physical, spiritual, intellectual, emotional and social. The intention of self-care lies in its focus on preventative care versus treatment.

  1. Physical Dimension. Getting routine annual medical screening and exams such as: physicals, pap & pelvic exams, including monthly Self Breast Exams (SBE) helps the early detection of the onset of any medical conditions. Additionally, early detection can help to increase the quality of life by employing secondary prevention measures and early treatment options. Participating in some form of physical cardio activity 30 minutes per day, helps to maintain weight. Try taking a yoga, dance or aerobic class to make fitness fun! In addition to physical activity, watching what you eat is also a part of self-care. Create a balanced diet that includes appropriate servings from the basic food groups. Together, these things will help to maintain balance in the Physical Dimension.
  2. Spiritual Dimension. Connecting to your spiritual center on a daily basis is an important part of self-care. Maintaining this connection to your belief system and the universe helps you to stay grounded. It also helps to provide the energy you need to move forward in faith. Learning to protect your energy is essential! Your energy is the vitality of life. Allowing someone to negatively impact your energy will ultimately drain you of your power. Learning to use the arts of meditation, visualization, journaling and/or prayer helps to serve as a means of protecting and guiding your spiritual dimension.
  3. Mental Dimension. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Feed your mind with positive thoughts. We tend to contribute to our own demise by allowing negative thoughts to enter into our mind. If we allow negative thoughts to take over, it begins in one way or another; to affect those that we are around through thoughts and feelings transference, and through body language. Once mind-binding spirits and strong holds attack, it is hard to break free from negative thoughts and behaviors. When you begin to sense negative thoughts entering your mind, learn to redirect your thoughts. Learning to engage in activities that are positively stimulating to your thought process will help to bring inner peace and reduce stress while increasing success, improving relationships, better health, and overall happiness and satisfaction with life.
  4. Emotional Dimension. Women are sometimes unfairly labeled as emotional creatures of habit. Keeping emotions under control helps to create a well balanced environment. Identifying and understanding your triggers is critical in helping to maintain this environment. Learning to balancing your emotions is very important so you do not become overwhelmed. Tapping into your spiritual and mental dimensions will also assist in developing a stable and secure emotional wellness. Also, keep in mind that a little therapy never hurts anyone! As a matter of fact, therapy may be just what’s needed to help you begin to sort through your emotions and find balance. Don’t worry about what to say or how to say it, just take the first step and walk through the door.
  5. Social Dimension. This is the dimension most people forget about. We assume that because we are out and about in the world that we are connected. This thought couldn’t be further from the truth. Being outside of our homes does not make us whole and healthy in the Social Dimension, it just means we’re out in the public. Wellness in the Social Dimension involves developing healthy, meaningful relationships with others. It also involves spending quality time with family and friends. Refrain from isolating yourself! Find a social network to become actively engage with. Take a fun class to mingle with other like-minded individuals. While the Social Dimension is very important, understanding the importance of “Me Time” is equally important. Setting aside at least 5-10 minutes per day to do only what you want to do is imperative! Although the goal is to be socially fitting, you still want to always make your wants and needs your priority. Always remember it’s ok to say no to others in order to say yes to yourself!

As you embark on your journey to reclaiming yourself, it’s important to keep in mind that unhealthy patterns develop over time and can be difficult to face or change. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to take on too much all at once. Focus on loving yourself and putting yourself first one step at a time. This journey is authentically yours and yours alone. Move through it with grace, humility and integrity. You will be so glad you did!

Now, give yourself permission to take off your cap! That’s the first step to saving yourself!

I know I certainly have….