Liberating Incarcerated Minds with Healthy Haiku

When I first approached the County Jail system it was a good will gesture to offer to conduct one Healthy Haiku workshop for women in lock up. As a result of our first meeting they quickly learned the value of my workshops and officials offered me the opportunity to participate in a new program for inmates by conducting two workshops a week for 8 weeks at a time.  Upon learning  approximately 83% of the women in lock up at this facility were there pre-hearing and pre-sentencing because they did not have the money to make bail, I was even more motivated to share these empowering workshops with the women.  Hence the poverty connection to who sits in jail and who does not.  Most, but not all are young and African American. They have children and families. They have dreams and ambitions – many of which have been subdued and subjugated to another space and time “maybe in my next life.” My mission – and I do choose to accept it – is to wake up those dreams – re-ignite their passions and goals and reasons for being! Encouraging them to be the best that they can be! No easy task for this population. Haiku – an ancient 17th Century Japanese form of poetry that uses 17 syllables to tell a huge story with few words – becomes the gateway for giving them everything I’ve got for building self-esteem, self-love, trust, radical forgiveness, creativity and the return of their voices. Healthy Haiku workshops, originally created for children – I soon learned that parents in general, and women in particular needed to learn this information as they are the primary nurturers – builders or destroyers of self-esteem and the ones that shop for the household (more often than not!)

I waited until after the second set of workshops before sharing on this Blog.  My waiting pales in comparison with the waiting of these women. Most are very young – waiting: waiting in jail for their hearings,  waiting to be united with their children, husbands, other family and friends. Some are awaiting sentencing.   My goal is to help to build them up – mind, body and spirit – to help them to find their voices through discussions and poetry writing about health and wellness. Imagine women who can’t wait to start taking wheat-grass juice and alkaline water on a regular basis!  Just eating healthy food on a daily basis is something to look forward to upon their release.  I  remind them that this “station” in life is temporary and that better life, better days filled by better mindsets, self-esteem and passion for making their lives better – is in their future!

During the workshops we do individual and group exercises, brainstorming and writing. Each participant presents her original poetry to the group, once encouraged to stand straight, speak up, articulate and clearly enunciate.  Communication skills are key to  their effectiveness in negotiating a system that has very low expectations of them based on past interactions. Fueling their new skills and attitudes are Dr. Marianne Williamson’s “Our Deepest Fear (is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure!”) and other positive words and works.

I write this blog because they asked and because it becomes a link between them and the outside world. It is a way to share their words and their hearts. I feel breakthroughs!  Some tears -which I remind them is part of the releasing and healing process – and lots of laughter.  I celebrate their little steps.  When they recite their poetry with the group, I introduce them as ” the Fabulous (and their name). I want for this Blog to be about them – not about me. Their poetry speaks volumes of who they are and of their potential!

I’m in Love with Self

No…I’m not conceited,

Just not going to be Defeated!

 

Now Eye love myself

Before that was a hard task

Where did my love go?

 

If you love your kids

Tell them as much as you can

Let them know you care!

 

Don’t neglect yourself.

Fall in love with who you are.

Fall in love with you!

 

Flying high above the sky

Looking over my life that I’ve deprived

Flopping wings seeking my dreams!

 

Us against the world, My baby

I’ll never abandon you.I’ll always love you

God is within us, Never against us!

 

Happiness you are…

My breath, my life, my shinning star

My dream com true…You~

 

A Grandfather’s Love (my Title) next 3 poems by some person

I loved you when you were here

I missed you now that you’re gone

I wish you could be near to guide me!

 

I have a son that

Needs me more than ever

He’s a ton but I am a proud mother!

I wish he could have met you

So tiny and fragile~

I know you would have loved him too.

I even gave him your middle name, Michael!

 

Whom am I? – Some say I am just a Lady

Some say  I’m a daughter.

And others say I’m a Child of God.

But I tell you I’m all of the above!

Beautiful Black Woman!

 

Why try to hurt me?

That disrespectful tongue of yours.

You would know, or would you?

 

What’s a second chance?

If you’re leaving with no plan?

Time to prove to the man

That we’re worth a second chance!

 

Many  positive comments from the participants:

This class was very pleasant. It made me step out of the negative…if only for a moment!

I always enjoy this class. It lets me realize how much joy is in me!

Love this class!

Lots more to share……next time!  Namaste! The Divine in me Greets the Divine in You! (My greetings as they leave the class!)

(Please check out my most recent book: Healthy Haiku 3: How to Fight Childhood Obesity One Poem at a Time!   a resource for the entire family…On Amazon.)

Howling at the Sirens: Reducing the Noise and Increasing Happiness During the Holidays

What a strange title for a Blog about how to reduce the incidence of heart attacks during the holidays.  Prior to having Rottweilers as pets, as a health scientist formerly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I researched and often contributed to the body of knowledge concerning high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, heart attacks and how to prevent all of the above. A lot of people go on line for updates about health and wellness including how to prevent heart attacks. A popular resource, WebMD recently posted that ”

“We certainly know that there are certain risk factors for coronary artery disease. There’s obviously smoking, hypertension, dyslipidemia [high cholesterol], diabetes, lack of exercise, and age,” says Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD, a researcher at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles and a professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

Since having our dogs we have noticed a strange occurrence.  They, like the coyotes in the woods adjacent to our home in Stone Mountain, GA – howl when they hear sirens.  Well at first (12 years ago) it would happen once in a while – perhaps several times a week.  Now it happens about 12 times a day and that concerns me. Other than the loud noise of our three dogs and sometimes their cousins in the woods howling and disturbing my peace, it now, for me signals emergencies in my neighborhood – many of them possibly heart attacks due to poor diets and lifestyles of residents in my area. I see what people are buying in the local stores and I am all too familiar with the local health stats. So the scientist in me is curious about the correlation between dogs and coyotes howling with an increase in heart health risk factors in my community. They are actually howling as I type……

With the coming holiday season – Thanksgiving through New Years- there is a noticeable increase in the “noise” from our dogs.  Over consumption of processed foods rich in fats, sugars, salts and devoid of nutrients – in addition to alcohol consumption place people at risk for increases in high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and heart attacks during the holidays. People also tend to reduce physical activity while sitting around and sharing quality time with friends and family.

Here are some quick and fun tips that families can do to stay healthy over the holidays (and always!):

  • Fresh fruit and veggie challenge: have a contest (everyone can put $5  -or more in a bowl) each time someone eats a fresh fruit, vegetable including fresh juice – they get a point. Some one must be designated to keep the spread sheet or everyone gets their own. At the end of the the holidays (or designated time period) the one with the most points receives the funds!
  • Family walks: Every evening after dinner, the family can take a nice walk through the community or somewhere safe and with proper lighting. Family can be comprised of family units, neighbors, relatives etc to ensure safety and numbers.
  • Learn new recipes that ensure nutrient rich food intake and reduced calories. Can also be structured as a contest. Be creative!
  • Drink at least 8 glasses Alkaline or clean purified water daily. Make sure everyone in family has their own glass or BPA-free plastic bottle (glass is better though). Encourage water consumption throughout the day. Keep refilling throughout the day!
  • Jumping jacks begin!  If you are physically able, do group jumping jacks, jump-rope or bike-riding.  Make family exercise a routine this holiday season and continue it as a tradition every day!
  • Limit animal products and fats which have been proven to increase the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
  • Turn off the television.  In some homes it runs non-stop. If it is not on it forces you to get creative about how you spend your time. Being active burns calories. Just do something instead of sitting for hours!
  • Get a copy of Healthy Haiku 3: How to Fight Childhood Obesity One Poem at a Time for lots of additional health tips good for the entire family.

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Dr. Imani Ma’at is a Health Scientist (formerly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 22 year) Author, Speaker, Radio Talk Show Host, Wellness Coach, and Creator of the Health Haiku Workshops Series.

Click here for more information and booking options.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe any sickness or disease. It is recommended that you consult with your physician or other health care practitioner before starting any new health regiment or routine.

Childhood Obesity Sucks Big Time! There is No Need for the Children to Suffer!

Are there children in your family or life that are overweight or obese?  One in three children and teens is obese.  This is an epidemic that is touching the lives of so many.  Oftentimes obese and overweight children suffer with emotional and physical problems that go unaddressed.  They are often the first to be bullied and the last to be chosen for the sports teams.  They also are at-risk of having life-long obesity and other health challenges.

Dr. Imani helps to “Lighten Up” the situation with poetry and fun with the third book in her Award-winning Healthy Haiku Series entitled: Healthy Haiku 3: How to Fight Childhood Obesity One Poem at a Time!  This book is filled with the science that parents, teachers and mentors want, and the fun activities and poetry that children like!  For example the book includes role play activities that – once the lesson has been taught, the curriculum offers an opportunity to practice what they have learned in a fun way.  Participants also have an opportunity to write and share their own poetry or prose about nutrition, exercise, and life’s challenges and accomplishments. The bottom line is Building Self-Esteem and Reinforcing Positive Behavior Change!

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Currently in Production – Order your Pre-Publication Ebook Copy at a Huge Discount Today!

Only $4.99 Now

Buy Now!

Price will go up at the end of the month once published!

This is a great resource for Parents, Teachers and Mentors!

Right on Time for the New School Year!

Dr. Ma’at is and Health Scientist and Educator with over 30 years of experience who worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for 22 years.  She has 4 advanced degrees from Harvard, M.I.T., Columbia University and Mount Holyoke College.  ALong with her team of experts. Dr. Ma’at is available for workshops for all school grades, churches, YMCAs, YWCA’s etc.  Don’t  wait! Book Now for the Fall Semester and the 2015-2016 Calendar Year! They travel around the Country and Globally!