Two For Two: Chapter IV

Two For Two: Chapter IV


Today is my birthday!
During this special 30 day celebration, I find that reflection to be a pretty important part. Today I’m thinking about many things – one topic being Mental Wellness. During our Strategic plan in April, we made a goal to invest in the personal and professional development of members of our SOUNDS Academy Family; specifically our staff and teachers.

Mental Wellness is something that is somewhat new to me as I did not know much about it when I was growing up, much less having a term for it. However, the topic has gained popularity over the last decade, so I have been intrigued by it and have been reading whatever I can to educate myself about it.

Some things that I have learned about mental health are:
  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  • 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24

The biggest issue that I’ve learned is that many people just don’t talk about mental health. One reason may be because they think that having a mental health issue is a sign of weakness.

I recently heard Michelle May and Dr. Angela Celeste May of A.M. May & Associated, Inc. talk about Mental Wellness among artists and leaders. During the workshop they stated a statistic that I had to look up. Did you know that “Employees with high well-being have 41% lower health-related costs compared with employees who have lower well-being.” (Source: Unhealthy, Stressed Employees Are Hurting Your Business). This stuck out to me because it made me think about how your immune system is compromised when you’re stressed. Then you have to miss work, and return to more work, and you guessed it, more stress. Staying healthy has always been important to me but I never thought about it in regards to mental wellness and stress.

Michelle May and Dr. Angela Celeste May then gave some suggestions on how we as artists and leaders can check on ourselves mentally. One way was journaling. This is something that someone told me to do before bed. The suggestion was to take your heart rate, journal for a page or 10 minutes, and then check your heart rate again. 100% of the time my heart rate was lower.

They also gave a straight directive: “You need to chill and relax” to which we talked about how we do that.

For me, I’m pretty fortunate to have music as a center of peace for me. I’ve been playing since I was 5. Today, I still play sometimes and when I’m not playing, I’m listening. I have several mixes and playlists on multiple platforms to help with my mood throughout the days. They have titles like Carnival Season, European Composers, Motivational Mix, Reflection Zone, Roots, Rock, & Reggae, Sunday Service, and Yacht Club Music (IYKYK). Music has always been a point of relaxation for me, even when the practicing and the passages were difficult. Even through the auditions and competitions, I found the “nervousness” to be healthy. When I was younger (about 9 years old) I would be terribly nervous. And then my teacher – “Ms. Dubi” told me “you’re nervous because you care, not because you’re afraid. Use that to your advantage.” It totally changed the way that I saw and processed my “nervousness”. It was now “energy”, not nervousness.

Another thing that I have found to bring me peace is photography and droning. It was something that I started doing during the pandemic. I find that doing these activities force me to stop multi-tasking. You CAN NOT fly a drone and do work at the same time. Or at least, I don’t suggest it. Taking pictures forces me to focus on whatever I am shooting. All of the pictures that I use in these blogs have been pictures from my “adventures”. 

The last thing that I’ll mention that makes me “chill and relax” is gardening and grilling. It’s much harder to garden and grill in the summer months (especially when we’re breaking records!) but when September hits, its going to be great! And grilling bell peppers that you grow yourself is AMAZING! 

Investing in the Mental Wellness of our SOUNDS Academy Family (everyone from board members to partners & supporters to staff & teachers to students & families) is something that we plan to examine more closely. We are fortunate to have staff members like Mat who are aware of best practices and activities that we can do to make sure that we are accomplishing this goal that we have placed on our Strategic Plan. However, I know that it all starts with me and I am committed to learning as much as I can so that I can help as much as I can.

Two Questions:

  1. What do you do to relax and chill?
  2. What is something that you do annually on your birthday?