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.

Imani.headshot.new1

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.

Healthy Haiku for Professional Development

Are you Ready for a Powerful, Unique and Fun Professional Development Program?
Healthy Haiku Workshops are fun, creative, educational, help to create team spirit and workmanship, and reduce sickness and absenteeism. Looking for something exciting and different to bring to your staff or faculty?
Objectives:
* Enhance Communication Skills
* Learn about Specific Health Issues to reduce Sickness and Absenteeism
* Learn how to Write and Perform Haiku Poetry
* Role Play to Reinforce Health Messages
From Professional Development to Teacher and Faculty Training, this is not the typical office Professional Development retreat where the budget gets spent, employees have a few days off and everyone returns to work with little changes and differences in the work environment. This program is  an interactive, hands-on, no snoozing, no losing workshop! These workshops were originally designed for youth, however they quickly expanded to groups of adults who found them enjoyable and educational!

Book us Today! Get a 30 minute Free Consultation to discuss the needs of your group or corporation.

Puppy Litter Reminds Me of the Keys to Natural Health and Wellness

Have you ever watched a dog deliver puppies? What an amazing experience! One of our soon-to-be 3 year old dogs had 7 beautiful puppies last night. Assisting and providing for her through the process was truly a privilege and a gift that I have never experienced in all of my years of raising dogs. I do mean privilege because I remember going through all-natural child birth 27 years ago as though it happened yesterday, Even though members of my family gathered around me, I kept feeling as though I wanted to be left alone and away from any on-lookers.

We have always received our dogs long after they have been weaned from their mothers. In preparation, she vomited prior to the delivery, but that signaled to me that she was almost ready deliver the puppies. She had labor contractions just like a woman and of course I recognized them right away. Her sides expanded and her body shook! She looked a little scarred and I could tell that she was in significant pain. However watching her dive in head first into pure instinct mode was simply amazing! After searching for a few minutes for a birthing location, she quickly decided upon the big dog house on the deck which provided sheltered space – a place where she could protect her puppies and deliver in semi-privacy. She delivered 7 healthy, beautiful puppies in the space of about 2 hours. Instinctively she released each from the birth sac and licked them clean for sanitation and to make sure that they were breathing and strong. After being cleaned, they latched on to her nipples immediately (or as soon as they could find their way to the spot). So yes, I was all engaged in wonder and amazement! What a beautiful natural process.

How close are you to being fit, healthy, and at your optimal weight? What if you are at the age of and ready to reproduce? Can you handle it? What would you need to do to prepare? I am not speaking of the obvious – suitable mate, husband, father, donor – no judgement – that part is on you. But what about your physical body? Have you been eating healthy, natural, organic foods rich with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your body needs? Or have you been eating whatever your palate is yearning for at any given moment? Are you drinking a high quality of alkaline water to make sure that you are properly hydrated? We make life choices on a daily basis. Some support our highest good in terms of health and wellness and many do not.

In ancient cultures the term natural childbirth would have been considered an oxymoron! How else does one have a baby but through the natural process? Duh?? We are gradually getting back to a simple definition of natural health and wellness. One that includes a healthy diet, limited processed foods, limited dairy, limited wheat, limited meats, limited sugars. In fact the increased presence of these foods in our diets over the past 100 years, not to mention larger portion sizes, is directly correlated to present day trends of obesity, high blood pressure, cancer and kidney failure. A good rule of thumb with eating prepared food is to ask if it looked like that when it was growing? The further it looks from how it grew, the greater the chances are that it will not serve you well and may actually harm you.

During the labor, delivery and now nursing stage for the puppies, our dog ate very little and when she did take in nutrients she opted for water, our smoothie recipe loaded with nutrients and minerals and meat (no processed dog cereal).

In our community outside of Atlanta, Georgia, our neighbors are  95% African American. It is a predominantly middle-class area however the unsettling sound of blaring sirens – usually about 15-20 daily (I track them because our dogs howl at the sirens) continues to increase. As a Health Scientist who worked for many years to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I know that the leading cause of death of all Americans (including African Americans)  is hypertension, high blood pressure, and heart disease. We are talking about thick sluggish blood and clogged arteries. How did we get so sick? How did we get so far away from nature in how we eat and live?

We could take notes from the animals – who, no mater how domesticated we attempt to make them – they are guided by instinct. Instinctively We also know what to eat, how much exercise to get, how much water to drink.

The message here is simple, tap into your inner wisdom in terms of what is healthy for you. Tap in to discover the diet and lifestyle that will deliver you to optimal health and wellness and change your quality of life. Read and search for the information on line too. There is very little that is new under the sun! Get quiet and just think about it. Every time you take in something that is harmful to your health and well-being an internal alarm goes off. My challenge to you is to start taking notice – acknowledge the alarms – and make little adjustments by what you hear! It is not magic, but rather instinct and science all wrapped up in one.

Please come back and read some more.  I will be sharing free tips on how to achieve optimal health and wellness through diet, juicing, alkalizing, and so much more.  Also tune in on Wednesdays 10-11:00pm EST to the Stepping Into My Power Blog Talk Radio Show. Are you Stepping Into Your Power by being the healthiest you that you can be? Let’s continue the discussion.

Visit my web site to learn more about my health and wellness offerings and programs. Invite me to speak at your next event!

 

Love & Light!

Dr. Imani Ma’at

 

Georgia State University Conflict Resolution Symposium Participants Write Haiku about Bullying

I am grateful to the Students, Faculty and other participants in a Healthy Haiku Workshop that I conducted this week at the Georgia State University 2013 Conflict Resolution Symposium.  We discussed bullying from the Bully’s perspective, from the “Victim’s” perspective and then the consequences of bullying – short and long term.  It was fun and as promised the time went quickly but not without the teams coming up with some awesome Haiku poems about Bullying!  Here is just a sample of the creations!  Enjoy!

 

Image

 

I dominate you

You resent me for all this

Hate Perpetuates

(It starts and just continues)

 

Disrespect for me

Hurt for my Mentality

Abolish my Mind.

(Impact on the Victim)

 

I am not a Bully

Hurting people Hurt people

I want to be heard.

(Making sense of it all!)

 

Relationship Stuff

Drop out of Education

Drugs and Alcohol

(Long term effects of bullying on adults)

 

See more about Healthy Haiku Poetry at the Healthy Haiku web site and  visit the store to purchase the Training Manual. The poetry book is being reprinted. Learn more about Dr. Imani Ma’at the Creator and CEO of Healthy Haiku Productions.  Get information about scheduling a Workshop or Keynote Presentation. Thanks for checking in!