“You tend to be an unsung do-gooder, but Saturn wants you to bring your good deeds into the light of day so you can be seen and accepted as the superhero that you are!” ~ Melissa Kae Mason, “Mooncat,” Mother Tongue Ink, © 2023
Wow! That excerpt from the publication, WeMoon 2024: Gaia Rhythm for Women really reminded me that the Multiverse sees and acknowledges this Scorpio.
This year, I felt myself stirring in my chrysalis. After my team of healing practitioners and I launched the HWB Healing Project Mobile Clinic in September 2022 at SPOKE in Brooklyn, we have been immersed in the excitement of the activity that followed.
As Coordinator of the HWB Healing Project Mobile Clinic, it has given me great pleasure to have created affiliations with the ArborVitae School of Traditional Herbalism, Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm, the Brooklyn Society of Ethical Culture, the Lion’s Club, Green Thumb, BKLYN Commons, Medgar Evers College (CUNY), Spread the Love Commission, Inc., Macon Library, Grand Army Plaza (Central Library), Gaia NoMaya Salt Cave & Spa, Tell Every Amazing Lady (T.E.A.L.), Spa Expectations, Alpha Phi Chi Senior Center, Bedford-Stuyvesant Family Health Center, Pacific College of Health & Sciences, the Bronx Psychiatric Center, Green Thumb, Macon Library, Cortelyou Library, A.M.E. Allen Rockaway Senior Center, Bay Older Adult Center, the Dr. James Still Education Center, and OnPoint Harm Reduction Clinic.
The Clinic team accomplished so much together -- and individually -- this year. Each and every person involved is respected as a force to be reckoned with; and, it is a privilege to co-create with them.
Here are some abbreviated snapshots of last year in review.
My dear friend, Rev. Annie Bovian, the former Executive Director of Women’s Advocate Ministry, Inc.. introduced me to STRIVE, when I shared that I was looking for service opportunities. STRIVE is dedicated to reducing recidivism for individuals needing intensive case management, job placement assistance, education, credentialing, and other supportive services (i.e. housing, wellness services, etc.).
Received with enthusiasm and curiosity, this platform opened the door for in-depth conversations about herbs and Latino, African American, and Caribbean folk medicine. That was only the beginning! Read on.
One of the sweetest souls I know, clinical aromatherapist, Amy Anthony, has been preparing delicious soups at St. George’s Episcopal Church, every Thursday for the past twelve years. She invited me to make monthly Clinic donations to the patrons of the Community Table.
So, ever since December 2022, I have been blessed with the opportunity to do just that with the help of Herbalists Without Borders International, Inc. It is extremely gratifying to receive the smiles of appreciation from the men and women who received gifts of Dr. Bronner’s soaps and sanitizers, multivitamins, skin salves, and herbal teas. I am deeply grateful to Amy for sharing this ministry with me.
February also presented by an exclusive opportunity to begin a co-teaching relationship with my mentor and friend, internationally-known herbalist, Matthew Wood, founder of the Matthew Wood School of Herbalism. Available on-demand, these affordable courses are receiving great reviews: Black Folk Herbalism and Herbs for Death, Dying, and Grief.
As a result of the material shared in the Black Folk Herbalism course, I was interviewed by Dalia Kinsey, a registered dietician and author of Decolonizing Wellness: A QTBIPOC-Centered Guide to Escape the Diet Trap, Heal Your Self-Image, and Achieve Body Liberation. to have a deeper discussion on her podcast about how plants are used to support us as spirit guides.
Aromatherapy took center stage in Women’s History Month when I was invited to be a speaker at Medgar Evers College for the Black Social Worker’s Conference and the Spill the Tea on Mental Health workshop.
April brought the delightful experience of hosting a workshop titled, “Healthy Living with Kitchen Medicine” for Tell Every Amazing Lady about Ovarian Cancer (T.E.A.L.). This culminated into a working relationship with IMPACT. (see December)
Now, officially a certified presenter for “Be a Force of Change: Women’s Cancer” educational program, I will continue offering these workshops to inform women and their families about cancer symptoms and the clinical trials available to them under the auspices of Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Presbyterian Hospital. The next IMPACT presentation is scheduled for March 2024.
Reuben Finerson, holistic health consultant and team member with the HWB Healing Project Mobile Clinic team joined me in sharing self-care information with the community at a BKLYN Commons networking event.
Later that month, Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm invited the Clinic out to their monthly Sunday meet-and-greet community series. May to August, rain or shine, we had giveaways for attendees, explained how herbs were beneficial for health, and mesmerized visitors with vibrational therapy. The resonance of tuning forks in that expansive urban Utopia created a blissful energy.
Moved to share the Brooklyn Grange harvest with the senior citizens I serve, I requested a donation of vegetables. We received a generous donation for distribution to the Grace Agard Senior Center and the Bay Older Adult Center. It was heart-warming to see our neighbors lined up with their bags and carts; and, it was doubly gratifying to know that we were bringing joy and nourishment to the community.
June was an absolute blast! Thanks to Ross Guttler, former CEO of the Open Center and co-founder of Spirituality Week and Gaia NoMaya Salt Cave & Spa, the HWB Healing Project Mobile Clinic team offered a Wellness Wednesday self-care retreat for the community.
Aromatherapeutic products were donated for this event by Makeba Lloyd, CEO and founder of Butter by Keba and Scentonomy; and, the team offered the usual: an exclusive healing arts menu of sound therapy, aromatherapy, flower essence tasting, womb and prostate massage protocols, nutrition, and herbalism.
Dr. Derrick Trent, LAc. was our in-house acupuncturist for the day, compliments of the Pacific College of Health & Sciences (formerly known as the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine). Cynthia Neipris, LAc., DACM, Vice President of Alumni Services and Director of Outreach & Community and Continuing Education graciously posted our request for acupuncturists who would be interested in connecting with us. This certainly contributed to the success of our community efforts.
These events cannot be taken for granted. We are helping real people cope with real physical and emotional issues, leading with the power of love.
Kathy Grant, a very supportive friend, had invited a lively group of people to this event. Among them was her cousin, Constance Watson-Medlock, who was extremely responsive to the shamanic energy that pervaded this wellness sanctuary. I mention her because our meeting was short-lived. Unfortunately, Constance passed away suddenly after complications related to a medical procedure in October.
Our hearts go out to family and friends who were touched by this tragedy.
Q Gardens Community Farm was instrumental in helping the HWB Healing Project Mobile Clinic start a garden patch of tomatoes, peppers, parsley, and okra. Their community events are so much fun and their connection to community is electric! The Clinic participated with tea-tasting events. My acupuncturist friend, Enensaaus Rastrygina, founder of Esoterra, applied beads for auricular acupuncture. Herbs and supplements provided by Herbalists Without Borders, International, Inc. were given away, and the opportunity to memorialize loved ones with a meditative strike on a Tibetan singing bowl, created a series of precious, sentient moments shared between strangers.
Tiffany Eason, Director of Community Engagement for Speaker Adrienne E. Adams extended an invitation for me to represent the HWB Healing Project Mobile Clinic as a panelist at their Birth and Beyond Brunch. The women in attendance were very receptive as they shared their personal birthing experiences. It was an eye-opening peek at the pressing disparities that exist in the health industry as it relates to women of color.
Events like this help us put our finger on the pulse of what the citizenry needs to live a quality life. As a matter of fact, it is in alignment with the self-care specialty offered for the HWB Healing Project Mobile Clinic, by team member, Nata Galati, our very own medicine woman and womb wisdom keeper.
After making my presentation for the Black Social Worker’s Conference at Medgar Evers College, I had the pleasure of connecting with Dr. Tyson Boudreaux, Clinical Director of the Bronx Psychiatric Center (BPC) to discuss the mission of the HWB Healing Project Mobile Clinic. As a result, we were invited to be a part of the initiative to bring the healing arts to the new BPC Wellness Center.
Photo Credit: Will Vaultz Photography
The space boasts numerous classrooms, two greenhouses, a kitchen, and meeting room. It is a full-service opportunity that we are prepared to contribute to in the near future.
I was in a reflective mood as I celebrated my birthday this month. Life is so precious and I am grateful to have lived long enough to make a difference.
October also marked the loss of a man who I admired for his dedication to his mother’s mission. Reverend Marcos Miranda, founder of New York State Chaplain Task Force was a leader responsible for preparing hundreds of members (including myself) for community service as chaplains, emphasizing the ministry of presence.
My heart aches for the colleagues, friends, and family members of the man who popularized the tag line: New York’s Kindest.
A genlteman of great intention, he made sure that the family legacy lives on. If you would like to become a chaplain, please visit: https://www.chaplains.care/
This was a month of manifestation. Over the years, I have learned that although it seemed that my dreams were often elusive, they were actually waiting in the wings for me to grow to the stature of what they needed to thrive. Such was the case with my desire to learn the NADA 5-point (sympathetic, Shen Men, kidney, liver, lung) auricular acupuncture protocol for harm reduction. This work has its roots in an unforgettable history.
Dr. Mutulu Shakur, stepfather of the late Tupac Shakur, in collaboration with members of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords, combined community health with radial politics to create the first acupuncture detoxification program in America. Blacks and Puerto Ricans who lived in Harlem and the South Bronx neighborhoods were most affected by this social plague.
As a certified member of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA), I now volunteer with a group of people whose lives are dedicated to overdose prevention in a clinic oasis that offers acupuncture, sound baths, and energy therapy. It’s a space that allows me to function from the root of my passion—my dreams to be a functioning member of an effective and versatile healing environment.
To learn more about the history of this mission, please watch the four-part podcast series, “Dope is Death,” a riveting documentary that tells the story of the heroin epidemic in the 1970’s in New York City.
A collaboration with Weill Cornell Medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and IMPACT, has positioned me to offer a 2-hour presentation about cancers that primarily affect women, and how to mitigate very serious outcomes by just knowing the symptoms.
Personal experience has already proven to me that early detection makes all of the difference when faced with a cancer diagnosis.
In 2017, I decided to have a troublesome mole removed from my chin because it kept growing and bleeding. I had intermittent check-ups, always with a benign result.
This time, I was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a cruise with physicians (ironically) through Hawaii. I had registered for a conference so that I could be in the company of the licensed professionals who are entrusted with our well-being. My inquiring mind needed to know.
When our session for the day ended, I went back to my cabin, looked in the mirror only to find that the mole had become mushy and was, once again, bleeding. I was disturbed, but I refused to let it ruin my trip. Paradise was mine to live in that moment.
So, I spoke to it. Aloud.
“When we get back to Brooklyn, you’re coming off.”
I called my dermatologist for an appointment while I was at sea. When I got back to Brooklyn, I went to my doctor and received a positive diagnosis for basal cell carcinoma. I had caught it early.
Cancer has taken many of my friends and family—primarily ovarian and breast cancer. So, this topic hits very close to home.
The next interactive cancer workshop presentation with IMPACT is scheduled for March 2024. Stay tuned.
I hope you have enjoyed this walk down memory lane with me. I am proud to say that 2023 served up a large helping of people I admire and cherish. Our combined dreams and sincere dedication pushed us into a new beginning--together. I am grateful for the good times and the bumpy rides.
I left the husk of my chrysalis in 2023 under the cover of a Mercury retrograde, My new wings are splashed with vibrant colors. I stand ready and equipped to fly directly into the sunlight of 2024. This is an invitation for you to join me.
Wishing you and yours a shower of infinite blessings. Happy New Year!
"Those who kill the life of the body, also in some measure, kill the life of the soul and spirit."
~ Matthew Wood, The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism