Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

By: Angela Mayah Solstice
I just got off the phone with my grandmother. She shared with me how her son, my uncle, was going to spend Thanksgiving alone just him and his son. I could tell she was trying to sound optimistic but I knew the thought of it hurt her. He moved away to another state during his divorce and I believe my grandmother took the divorce very hard. I shared with her that I had holidays like that post divorce. In fact, one Thanksgiving I purposely did it on my own, just me and my girls. I didn’t search frantically for ways to compensate for the lack of family around us nor did I allow myself to slip into self pity. I made plans and created a holiday just for us. It was a turning point for me and a great confidence builder. 

Believe it or not I struggle with being grateful! Ha! In fact, I am on week 5 of Oprah's Lifeclass with  Dr. Brene Brown on The Gifts Of Imperfection. It’s all about gratitude this week and I’ve found myself feeling highly irritated! I can do beating up on myself and looking for problems in my life with natural ease—what’s been hard is being gentle with myself and being grateful. I’m sure I am not alone, and if you are struggling today I encourage you to be gentle with yourself to. I encourage you to find at least one thing you’re grateful for today. I encourage you to make this day however YOU would want it to be, remembering , there is no right or wrong way. If all you do is give one hour of your undivided attention to a loved one today—you have done more than most will do today. I encourage you to pray or to meditate. To look in the mirror and say to your self , “I love you.” Be grateful for the food you eat today, if it’s a feast fit for a King, or just enough. Be grateful for whoever is surrounding you right now, if it’s one person or many. Remember you are loved and you are important!

I am mindful of so many this day. I send you all my love and blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving,

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gratitude Ritual

A Gratitude Ritual

by Debbie Ford

The beautiful gifts of gratitude begin at home
so today invite a healing to happen
in your own body
in your own consciousness
in your own loving heart
that feels blessed to be alive

Notice all the riches you've been given
the feet that allow you to stand
the legs that allow you to walk
the stomach that allows you to eat
the lungs that allow you to breathe
the throat that allows you to speak
the mouth that allows you to taste
the nose that allows you to smell
the eyes that allow you to see
and your beating heart
that allows you to love
Honor them all

Become present to the treasures of your life
the opportunities that you have been given
the ones that have effortlessly opened up for you this year
Reflect on your family, your kids, your partner, your friends
Look through appreciative eyes
the eyes of what's right
the eyes of the divine
Give thanks in a way that you never have before

Allow fear, doubt, struggle and pain
to melt away in the presence of this all-loving appreciation
Thank God that you have a consciousness
that is able to shift and transform in just a moment
Thank God that you are courageous enough
to take a moment to bless yourself
to bless the universe
to bless all those who love and guide you
and then to bless all of the world

Send your tears of love and gratitude
to those who are in pain
to those who are alone
to those who are confused
Allow the heavenly vibration of gratitude
to puncture their fearful illusions
and open up their hearts to what is truly divine

Today, take this vow of deep self-love and gratitude
knowing that when you are in the presence of this kind of love
you - as well as all of those around you - will flourish

Take five slow deep breaths, breathing in love, appreciation, gratitude and joy
Know that you are never alone and you will never be alone
We are all here surrounding you with love.


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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Abuse-Free World


By: Angela Mayah Solstice

So George Zimmerman was arrested for domestic violence. It seems to be a surprise to some but not to me. I was enraged just like many were when he was found not guilty in the Trayvon Martin case. I have a 15 year old son walking around in the world and just as Obama himself said, Trayvon looked like my son. But it went deeper for me. There was a familiar energy I felt and could recognize. I didn’t see George Zimmerman as a racist, I saw George Zimmerman the abuser. The lack of emotion, expressionless face, a sense of entitlement—all showed me the signs. I would like to share with you a few excerpts from a great book called, “Why Does He Do That” by Lundy Bancroft:

A large part of his abusiveness come in the form of punishments used to retaliate against you for resisting his control. This is one of the single most concepts to grasp about an abusive man…

The abuser tends to see his partner as less intelligent, less competent, less logical, and even less sensitive than he is…

Abuse grows from attitudes and values, not feelings. The roots are ownership, the trunk is entitlement, and the branches are control…

Abusers are unwilling to be non-abusive, not unable. They do not want to give up power and control. You are not crazy. Trust your perceptions of how your abusive partner treats you and thinks about you.

What I take from that is that Zimmerman along with any other type of abuser does not discriminate among there victims. Zimmerman not only disliked black people, he disliked himself, and anyone in his path who didn't share his reality in that he was all important and knowing.One of the first things I said aloud following the verdict in the George Zimmerman case was that his life would never be the same. I didn’t say it in a vindictive spirit, but a knowing spirit. Although I do believe in justice, I trust more in the Universe. I knew that life would catch up with him. I knew that his darkness ran deep and a not-guilty verdict did not set him free for real.

Do you feel you know the signs of abuse or of an abuser?

As many of you know I have been completing my forthcoming book The Courage to Change. In it I share many of my own personal stories of abandonment, loss, and mainly abuse. I feel drawn to many topics, because I’ve been through so much, but none am I drawn to more than abuse. Because I feel it is the root of so many of the other problems in the world: sexual exploitation, homelessness, drug addiction, eating disorders, inequality, etc…I can guarantee you among all of those, abuse of some kind played a major part.
I recently had someone close to me go through a domestic violence situation that ended in complete abandonment of her and her children. I was enraged at the lack of resources and options for her—I was disappointed in my home state of Chicago in its lack of advocacy resources, it was a far cry from what was available to me in New York. More than anything It brought back so many memories of my own. I instantly could empathize with others who shy away from these situations because your heart grieves along with being confronted with your own fears and vulnerability. Many of us have experienced or know of someone who has been abandoned by an abuser. It is our biggest fear, the reason why we try and pretend that everything is okay when it’s not, it’s why we judge, why we fight for our independence and look down on those who are not. Trust me I understand. I also understand the feeling of defeat-- of seeing your abuser get the seemingly not-guilty verdict of life after the court systems, friends, and family have made their judgements and moved on as you are left with the broken pieces. Yet let me reassure you there is a divine magic and grace that comes with being empowered, getting educated, healing yourself, and in turn helping others. Below I will share an excerpt from my book where I talk specifically about abuse and give a charge to my readers along with resources for victims of domestic violence. I ask that you take a moment to read through it and make a pledge today to help yourself or others.

Millions of women, young and old, are abused daily. It is your responsibility to get educated on the signs of abuse as well as resources available to women in your area so you can pass along information when needed. If you know of someone in an abusive relationship do not put them down in any way! Give them love, encouragement, and assistance if you can. You have an obligation to the women in your care, family, and community to speak out. If you are in an abusive relationship, know that there are resources and support available to you if you need it. I was fortunate to have family who could help me financially when I stood up to my Goliath, which is a hard cold fact of why many women do not leave for fear of abandonment. Even so, there are some well run domestic violence organizations that can help you with counseling; legal representation, and even housing—free of cost and without involving the police. I pray for miracles and that an abundance of Angels come into your life right now…You can heal your life.

Write down the following contract and sign it at the bottom, place in your wallet or in your journal (somewhere you will see it often):

I _____(name)______commit to giving my love, encouragement, and available resources to whoever is placed in my path, and are being victimized due to domestic violence. I declare this moment that I am against domestic violence. I am a woman of my word and will stand by my declaration. I am committed to do doing my part, even if it is a simple prayer, to help make this world abuse-free for the young women of the future.

Meditate or Journal upon the following statement: Abuse affected my life when

Prayer: (Higher Power of your understanding) I pray for abused women (me) today. Please send an Earth Angel in their (my) path to help them (me) onto the road of recovery. Protect them (me), heal them (me), and guide them (me).

Affirmation (preferably say in a mirror):  “I WILL NO LONGER BE A VICTIM IN MY LIFE”

Reading Recommendations & Resources:

The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships By: Patrick Carnes

Peace from Broken Pieces By: Iyanla Vanzant

The Verbally Abusive Relationship By: Patricia Evans ***

Why Does He Do That? By: Lundy Bancroft *** (Excellent resources & info)

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Extra Weight? Extra Grace.

I recently hit a MAJOR body/weight/exercise milestone.

No, I didn’t lose ten pounds.

Nope, I didn’t finish a half-marathon.

Nah, my pants aren’t feeling any looser.

My milestone involves me…in the nude…looking in the mirror. And rather than beating myself up for what I saw, I gave myself grace.

Guys. This is a BIG EFFING DEAL.

You see, my weight has been a twenty-eight year struggle, culminating in high school when I lost 70 pounds in the most unhealthy ways possible. More recently, I decided to do Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred for Lent. Six days a week, I woke up at the butt crack of dawn to do push-ups and let this woman scream at me. My results were so great that I decided to do her other DVD, Ripped in 30. It was like “How Akirah Got Her Groove Back” up in here. I thought I looked GOOD.

But then life happened. I graduated from grad school. My mom and I went on vacation. I started two new jobs. I had to study for my licensing exam. I launched a website. Oh, the excuses.

Read more here.


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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Being Me

By: Angela Mayah Solstice

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve personally written on my blog so I thought I’d check in with all of you. I hope you have been enjoying the news feeds in the meanwhile! Well Fall is officially here in Chicago, all of the autumn colors are so beautiful on the trees. I typically enjoy this time of year and especially enjoy the holidays— it just seems that not everyone is in the same mood! Ha! I was on the phone with my mother the other day conversing with her about a stressful experience I recently had with my ex-husband, she listened and then sarcastically commented, “The Holidays are here!” and I laughed. Yet after the conversation I couldn’t help but notice the shift in energies around me. From shopping at Costco to passing neighbors, it seemed people were more agitated than normal. Now I haven’t been living under a rock, I’ve heard the philosophy of people experiencing increased depression, anxiety, and relationship troubles around the holidays, but I guess for the first time I had enough of my own “stuff” worked out that I can be present to the world around me. So I have to say the past few weeks have been a struggle as I’ve tried to disconnect from the overwhelming negative energy while trying to stay present to loved ones, not be in judgment of others, take care of myself, feel my feelings—NOT GO CRAZY! Ha! Being an Empath and super sensitive to energies definitely has its down side. Good thing is that all of this led to a big AHA moment and I thought to share it here on my blog in hopes that it may help someone else.

If you’re anything like me, which I’m sure in some way you are because I believe we are all connected, you have been doing the best you can while trying to understand and learn more about yourself and life. You’ve read books, forgiven people, did some self-help work, prayed, and so much more, hoping it would bring some clarity and happiness into your life. I know I have, and because I’ve been on this self-help quest for so long, I automatically assumed whatever I was naturally doing or feeling about a situation or person was “wrong" and I needed to identify what was the “right” way I should be feeling or acting. That I needed to fix myself or search for the remedy to help resolve the situation immediately. So if I was upset I needed to heal, if I was angry I needed to forgive, if I was sad I needed to be grateful—you get the picture. Well, it finally dawned on me that I’ve been doing the work! Meaning I’ve been doing the best I know how every day while staying super conscious and doing a tremendous amount of healing work—could it be possible that I’ve earned the right to just feel what I’m feeling! Like maybe it’s time for me to feel angry towards a person or situation that’s been troubling me instead of feeling like I’m the one that needs some fixin’. What a breakthrough! Now let me tell you it’s a balancing act. It was hard enough learning to be humble pie, now what happens when you start to get a little bit of that “old thing back”?! Ha! A little more “oomph” …A little more boundary… A little more confidence…A little more sense of self. I initially thought that I was having a battle between ego and authenticity. But when I thought about it, it really comes down to vulnerability. Am I willing to let the world see me sad, angry, or upset? Am I willing to state my boundaries with others? Am I willing to show my God given confidence to the world? Am I willing to accept myself just the way I am? …It can seem like a gift and a curse once you become self-aware because there’s really no going back. But for at least a brief moment every day, try not to hold up your whole world. Be gentle with yourself. Let yourself feel your feelings.Be vulnerable. Just. Be.You.

In other news, I’ve been getting to get out in my new big city. I attended the Ronald McDonald House Awards of Excellence Gala last weekend and was entertained by the vivacious Jennifer Hudson. Who I might add just seems to look better and better. What a role model of perseverance and women empowerment! More recently I attended a taping of the Steve Harvey Show here in Chicago. To be quite honest at first I couldn’t get totally into the segment, I was overwhelmed with doubt as I questioned the realness of everyone including the guests. It was a little surreal to witness people share their darkest secrets on live television, while a producer gave signals for reactions to the audience! By the end of the show, I had finally relaxed and was having a great time. Steve opened the show by saying that we can turn on our TV and see bad news all day; that what he wanted to do was bring to us some good news. He said he wanted to make us laugh and he did a great job doing so! He closed out by sharing with the audience off camera that his deceased mother talks to him every day. That he had been homeless and slept in his car; he had days where he didn’t know if he could move forward in life but that his mother would and still do, come to him often, and reminds him to pray. She had always taught him that prayer changes things. So I leave you with that this evening. Pray. Prayer WILL change everything.  

P.S. – Brown Sugar Bakery which was voted best Bakery in the country by Steve Harvey’s online voters had thee best cupcakes! Stop by if you’re ever in town!

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Why Young Women Should Spend Time With a Spiritual Elder

"The psyches and souls of women also have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place." -- Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

When I was in my early 20s, I was on a spiritual quest for a deeper understanding of life. One of the things I did was create a Women's Group, something I facilitate today as a Life Coach. I wanted to be in the presence of women that were also on a spiritual journey, but more importantly, I wanted them to be older and wiser than me because I knew that I would benefit greatly from being in their presence, and hearing what they had to say. So, once a month we would gather in my apartment and sit together in a circle. I was the youngest of five women, each one of them a wise "elder," meaning they had lived their lives committed to realizing a sacred purpose, and personal power, and could pass along their wisdom to me, which I was very grateful for.

The group consisted of a shaman/healer, a yogi, a writer, a clothing designer who lived alone in a cave in New Mexico a few months out of the year, and myself, an actress-writer hungry for spiritual knowledge. I learned so much from being in the company of these amazing ladies who, to me, embodied the type of woman that was written about in Clarissa Pinkola Estes book Women Who Run With The Wolves - Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. Each of the women in my group had the "passionate creativity" and "ageless knowing" that the book described, and were living an "authentic life," which was something, I sensed, became easier to do as you get older because you earned the right to be completely who you are with no regrets or apologies.

Read more here.


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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

This Woman Was About To Go In For Surgery. What She Did Moments Before Was Awesome.

Facing a double mastectomy with grace takes courage. Facing one with courage and joy is extraordinary.

But that’s exactly what Deborah Cohan did yesterday right before she went into surgery to have her breasts removed. Cohan, an Ob/Gyn and mom of two, held a dance party with her medical team in the operating room of Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco.

Read more here.


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Monday, November 4, 2013

Mary's House, a safe house for women, has grand opening

Janice Chambers believes the women who died on Imperial Avenue did not get the help they needed.

The thought that someone could have saved them came back to her again and again.
She knew she had to do something.

Chambers is a chemical dependency specialist and project director at Cleveland UMADAOP, Urban Minority Alcohol and Drug Abuse Outreach Programs. A group of women she directed there talked about the murders, reliving their own hard times; memories triggered by the deaths of women who could have been their sisters, neighbors, friends.

The women gathered weekly and talked about what they could do to help other women at risk of becoming victims.

As she thought about a solution, Chambers stared at the abandoned home across the street, boarded up and ignored, just like the women who perished at the hands of Anthony Sowell.

And that's when she knew what they had to do. They had to buy that old house. Rebuild it. And make it a safe house for women who need a hot shower, a meal and a little help putting their lives back together. 

On Monday, nearly three years after those meetings in February 2011, the house officially opened its doors.
Read more here. 

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

One mother's story shows plight of trapped women

Photo: Adam Linn
Rogers was living with her mother in Las Cruces, a city on the Rio Grande in New Mexico, when she became enchanted by a soft-spoken Arab man working at the Middle Eastern cafe where she'd often study.

"I was the feminist, the rebel, everything you could imagine," she said. Hatem Abu Taha proposed to her three days after they met. They were married soon after.

"The morning after we wed, my husband got up to meet his friends," she recalled. "I was like, 'What? We're newlyweds.'"

"He just told me he was doing guy things and I could do woman things," she said in an interview at her home outside Boston.

Rogers worked as a nurse assistant but hoped for better. She completed a master's degree and was preparing to write a book. Her husband rarely worked. He spoke often of his native land.

The couple had three children and were expecting a fourth when Taha said it was time they traveled to the Middle East to visit his Palestinian relatives. It was 2001.

Taha's family lived in Rafah, a city on the border with Egypt from which Palestinian militants launched Qassam rockets into Israel.

Rogers was surprised to see that Taha's family appeared to be well off. They owned, he told her, Gaza's only cigarette patent. She was also not ready for what happened to her husband.

Taha was ultra-patriotic, she said, and passive to the will of his family who were hostile to the American in their home. After two weeks, Rogers said her kids were "breaking down." Her eldest son was suffering anxiety attacks. Her 2-year-old daughter had contracted dysentery.

When they arrived two weeks before, carpenters were building a third-floor addition to the family home. Taha told Rogers it was for his brother and his wife. But when the work was done, Taha told her the unit was where she would live.

Read More here.


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