Day 14, 2019

Life, Mental Health Wellness and the Happiness Movement  

Authors: Melissa Barber and Irene Watson

Happy Fourteenth Day of Thanks Everyone!

Today we give thanks for the Happiness Movement which promotes and encourages life and mental health wellness. In the midst of life’s daily dosage of pain and suffering, some of us know just how real the struggle is to stay happy and keep our joy. Sometimes, it’s even a wonder that we have managed to keep our sanity and find time to laugh.  

I asked my friend Irene Watson, the Happiness Movement Guru, to share a day of thanks with us.  In my text to her I said, “who better to talk about thanks for ‘happiness’ than the happiness movement guru or thanks for ‘health’ or ‘life’ than someone who had such a close encounter with God and death. I think my writing about it at the moment would be so pale in comparison.” I share that excerpt because most people who know Irene, my BFF and accountabuddy, know that she has an incredible testimony and is a walking miracle. We know her as the Happiness Movement Guru because in our Bronx Parent’s Autism Support Circle, she encouraged every member all the time to do self-care.  It’s where all of us adopted the idea of walk-outs (we leave our autistic children and families with someone for the evening so we can walk out to have a mental break and a self-care moment.)  She reminded us to have conversations about ourselves and “our” happiness and to stop talking about our children and their needs for just a moment. She had planners and worksheets and daily devotions dedicated to creating her Happiness Movement to go viral around the world.  And if there was anyone who could start a movement, especially about happiness, in spite of the crazy going on around them, in our minds, it was (still is) Irene. 

In a few weeks, Irene will be celebrating her first anniversary of being reborn.  At the beginning of this year, she had two major strokes, one hemorrhagic and one ischemic, at the same time in two different locations of her brain.  If truth be told, she should have never made it off anybody’s surgical table. BUT THERE IS A GOD! AND HE IS STILL IN THE BUSINESS OF HEALING AND SAVING!  It was the sweetest sound to my ears, when I called her husband a few days after her surgeries and heard her talking about me. As I was calling him, she was on the other side of the phone telling him to call me and tell me to pray and to bring her a bible. It is something, when someone knows that you and your crew of prayer warriors can bombard heaven with prayer to get the needed answers, outcomes and results!  (And, Yes we got to work and saw God answer every prayer!) The real amazement was that this was days after her surgery and a near death experience and she was coherently talking, without slurred speech. There weren’t even creases, droops, or visible signs in her face to prove she had strokes. 

When I got to the hospital the next day, God through her was showing off! God was showing us just what He was capable of—God is the giver and sustainer of life.  But, He was also warning us. If we didn’t slow down to let go of the stress and craziness that He didn’t give us, if we didn’t take the time to move into his divine purpose for our lives, if we didn’t stop pretending like we could hold the weight of everyone else’s burdens and never say “NO” or put our feet down and say “Enough is Enough!”  We were headed to a place of darkness from which there may not be a recovery. Or simply, God, in His divine wisdom, would slow us down and get us back on track.  

When I got to Irene’s room with her bible, my anointing oil, and ready to pray, she spoke words to me that will be forever etched into my heart. In addition to her deceased mother telling her that she couldn’t come be with her yet, she said that during her surgery God told Irene that she wasn’t going to die yet because she had a flock that He was calling her to and that she needed to get busy with the purpose to which He called her.  (Reassurance that no matter how hard the enemy tries to attack us and take us out, we are not going anywhere unless God says so and until we have accomplished our purpose for which we were created.) There was no more playing around. This experience was to get Irene’s attention and recalibrate her settings back to God and divine purpose.

God has blessed me beyond measure by allowing me to witness every miracle he has done in Irene’s recovery and rehabilitation.  Videotaping her walking the longest distance she had ever walked and climbing steps during her rehab in preparation for her hospital release had my heart beating in overtime.   I knew she was getting better when she resumed her Facebook posting.  Her hair has grown significantly from her hated, surgical buzz cut. Although, her handwriting is also improving by the minute, she has to do voice activated emails and text (which as you may know is sometimes horrific to understand in grammatical and spelling context). Anyway here is my bff’s share. Please welcome Irene Watson to the stage. Her message is voice activated so excuse all of the typos and just give thanks for the progress of where she is.

What “lies” behind that Smile…?

Come on, tell the truth! when someone looks good you really don’t listen as much when They cry out in pain for our help. Most times it’s that underline of needing our help (we know that chuckle that we ignore, because really there’s no way MY helper needs help!) Honestly (the helper, care-giver, help-mate etc) they don’t want to Burden anyone, they end up talking themselves out of the help they need! I’ll fix my mess after I help so and so because they REALLY need MY help!!! because I guess I Am blessed, because after all I Am not as bad as __ or MY situation isn’t the same as ___. There’s no limit to pain! And no one (that matters) is keeping score that you too (no matter the situation-cause after all your pain ain’t the same as someone else’s and you should never try to compare) is needing help out of YOUR bind too! There’s no Such thing as trivial pain. Real talk, sometimes their just too vain, they just gonna pray about it! (Without work) they can be tired, at the point of giving up and giving in or I’ll just say it, they just have too much pride! It’s funny, when they tell you that their hurt we say things we’re taught to say and know by heart “Girl you can do it! Your a warrior! If anyone can do it Lord knows you can!”, “I’m counting on you to see me through” Or “girl just pray, God has your back! He ain’t gonna give u more than u can bare!!! We talk about that “storm that brews, but trouble don’t last always!” “Theirs always a silver-lining behind that cloud!” Or the new one “girl, put your big girl panties on!” Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying there’s no truth in them words…lol And what do we do? We believe it and conceive it! We keep on keeping on! We just keep on moving, mind you, with OUR problems (that now continues to grow inward) and now THEIRS…(real talk! We only have our OWN cross to bare truthfully). mind you we never “fixed” our situation we just carried on…wow do you know what happens when we just carry on…Even a workhorse will breakdown from over usage!!! Now imagine your mind!!! What we’ve learned to do is take a temporary solution, mask it and made it real pretty and turned it into a permanent fix!!! Now we’re working the mess out of what we now have forgotten was only suppose to be temporary (or borrowed time) and we’re now making it Do what it Do (cause CANT nobody else do it!) and made it permanent-but then we wonder why in the end when it just doesn’t go right or it doesn’t always stay Gold… It stopped working! Oh the self imposed infliction we place upon ourselves! What we need to learn is the power of “Just say no!” Better yet “Go and Tell”…yes we the care givers etc. and the community Nurturers need to go out and find someone to talk to. Believe it or not our shoulders get weak too and it’s a lot. (actually more then we are truthful enough to say or know) Just think of that un-load! Nope we don’t need to give names and put nobody’s business in them streets lol! We don’t even always have to pay top dollar for self-care. While we’re trying to always be laid on the outside, we have a lot of fixing to do on our insides! We need to stop masking and pretending and without guilt or shame get the help we need or get our talk on while we do a nice meal and get our eat on with our true confidants, because not everyone with an ear has your back!!! Or wants your true intentions to come first. (Watch who you confined in! lol) Sometimes our answers comes in someone who can just Be Still themselves, be that shoulder or ear and can just truthfully listen (and they have a confidant lol). very often by just talking it out with someone else we can answer our own questions. Real talk y’all sometimes we have to say “Not yet or Not now”, “when is it DUE by”, “I’ll See” or give a “soft no”, “I’m not sure yet” or better yet “NO”. Sometimes it doesn’t even need that long winded explanation behind it that we often come up with (lol even that takes time!) Yes we often take a lot for granted when we see these proud peacocks strutting their stuff around looking all great! Wow! I wish that was me, they sure have it ALL together! Their grass is green, we assume…they look well, they smell well, and they’re moving well…but what really “Lies” behind that smile? You know in truth we can use the same voice, tell the same story and even use the same energy but in the end of our story it’s really and truly up to only us to be the victim or to be victorious by its outcome! There’s always room for a lesson and a smile believe it or not lol often even a Tilted one – what’s your 3 What Went Wells for today? We forget that suit (their cross) was made JUST for them and we wouldn’t even stand a chance in it, it’s a well designed suit (their Cross). We need to, if anything, find out if it is a permanent fix or a temporary solution…the better question to ask THEM is “Are you truly FEELING well. I’m talking inside and out??? Why not ask them? You just might be surprised by their answer. 

Today I’d like to highlight the Anxiety and Depression Association of America ( that is dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and co-occurring disorders through education, practice, and research.  They have a host of information for the public and professionals and have a ton of resources to get help if you (or anyone you know) are experiencing any bouts with any mental conditions. Please donate to this organization. Additionally, be the giver of life today through a smile, a kind gesture or even asking someone if they are feeling and doing okay. (And make sure that you wait around for their response!)Love Ya,Have  great Day of Thanks!

Published by: Dream Without Borders

Artist| Scientist| Creative Entrepreneur| Activist: working at intersections of arts, health, healing, and activism, my practice focuses on the performance and performative articulations of vulnerable bodies, exploring and examining expressions of identity and belonging. I hold particular interest in the lives and aspirations of the African Diaspora/Black Atlantic in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Categories Melissa's 2019, Melissa's Thanks, Notes From The People