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Archive for the ‘Personal Empowerment’ Category

What does a reconciled town look like? – Toward Reconciliation

Posted: August 12, 2017 at 10:44 am

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How do you measure reconciliation? Thats the question Im wrestling with, as I continue working on my investigation about reconciliation in small Canadian towns and it's leftme scratching my head.

Thats why Im canvassing academics for answers, including one whos examined what reconciliation looks like around the world (likeCyprus, for instance). But Ill have my work cut out for me. In its report Reconciliation In Practice, the nonpartisan United States Institute of Peace reported that indicators used to measure reconciliation including self-awareness, personal empowerment and motivation are generally weak, especially at the individual and government levels.

Can you refer me to someone whos done research into measuring reconciliation? Do you have suggestions for how it should be measured? Tell me viaFacebook,Twitteroremail.

I watched the fallout from last weeks decision by Petronas toshelveits Lelu Island LNG project on B.C.s north coast, which my colleagues atDiscourse Mediahavedocumentedextensively. Theonline bullying,intimidationandbickeringbetween Indigenous people otherwise known as lateral violence after the Petronas decision was particularly interesting to me.

Corporate and government officials who promote LNG projects to First Nations dont live in those communities, and dont have to deal with the fallout if a project is cancelled. According toTimes ColonistwriterLes Leyne, the benefits to First Nations were key selling points; they included alleviating poverty, boosting employment and community improvements. First Nations must take a critical look at how the promise of such benefits from these projectsimpactthe socio-cultural fabric of their communities.

Whereas some community members see benefits as practical, others view them as bribery. In a 2016Discourse Mediastoryabout the Lelu Island LNG project, the paving of a road in Lax Kwalaams is referred to in a benefits package circulated to community members as an inducement for good faith negotiations on LNG. Now that the Petronas deal is cancelled, theres no project to fight over but theres still infighting. If First Nations communities dont heal and learn from this, the same problem will play out over and over again.

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What does a reconciled town look like? - Toward Reconciliation

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August 12th, 2017 at 10:44 am

Claire Saenz, Looking in the ‘Mirror’ and Seeing the Self – The Good Men Project (blog)

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Claire Saenz is a SMART Recovery Facilitator for SMART Recovery. It is an addiction recovery service without a necessary reference to a higher power or incorporation of a faith, or some faith-based system into it by necessity. Those can be used it, but they are not necessities. The system is about options. In this series, we look at her story, views, and expertise regarding addiction, having been an addict herself. This is session 1.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen:When it comes to the experience of addiction, what were your addiction and particular substance of choice?

Claire Saenz: My substance of choice was alcohol, which was coupled with an eating disorder and an anxiety disorder.

Jacobsen: What were the thoughts that ran through your mind as you were working to combat the addiction, to stop using the substance(s)?

Saenz: I was highly motivated when I decided to stop drinking, so my primary thought, initially, was that I was going to quit or die trying. I felt determined, but also extremely vulnerable because giving up alcohol meant that in many essential ways, I was giving up my sole coping mechanism.

Jacobsen: How did SMART Recovery compare to other services?

Saenz: Other services I used in my recovery were AA, individual therapy, and pharmaceutical treatment of my anxiety. I found SMART similar to AA in that it is also a peer support group. I found the social support aspect of both programs helpful. SMART was drastically different from AA in almost all other respects, however, and much more like the individual therapy I received.

SMARTs philosophy is one of personal empowerment rather than reliance on a higher power. The use of stigmatizing labels such as alcoholic or addict is discouraged. Direct discussion (cross-talk) among group participants is encouraged. Sponsorship is not part of the program. Group facilitators are not professionals, but they are trained in the SMART tools and meeting facilitation skills, and they are expected to adhere to a code of ethics.

Finally, SMART recognizes that recovery, while a process, is not necessarily a permanent one. While participants are encouraged to attend meetings for a significant time period and to become facilitators to pay it forward, we do not view recovery as being a permanent state. Instead, we achieve a new normal.

Jacobsen: What were some of the more drastic stories that you have heard of in your time as an addict, as a recovering addict, and now as a SMART Recovery facilitator?

Saenz: For the reasons mentioned above, I dont refer to myself as an addict or alcoholic, recovering or otherwise. If a label must be applied to my state, call me a person who has recovered from an addiction to alcohol.

As far as drastic stories, they fall into two categories: the carnage of addiction itself, and the carnage of one-size-fits-all addiction treatment where the one size is the twelve- step approach.

The carnage of addiction is simply limitless. I have lost dozens of friends and acquaintances to addiction-related causes, from organ failure to overdose, to suicide.

At one of my first AA meetings, I spent a few minutes talking to a nice young man who went home that night and hung himself. I know multiple people who have lost spouses and children to addiction. It is a dreadful condition that takes the lives of fine people, and the solutions we currently offer, as a society, are breathtakingly inadequate.

In terms of the consequences of one-size-fits-all treatment, it should come as no surprise that in a world of individuals, there will never be an approach to any physical or mental condition that will work the same way, or as well, for everyone. And yet for years, we have prescribed the exact same treatment to everyone with an addictive disorder.

Worse, what passes for treatment is often nothing more than expensive indoctrination into a free support group (12 step programs, themselves, are free)and if the patient fails to improve, the prescription ismore 12 step. Of course, this isnt working. The shocking thing is that we would ever expect it to work.

Jacobsen: How has religion infiltrated the recovery and addiction services world? Is this good or bad? How so?

Saenz: Twelve-step programs, which form the basis of most traditional treatment, are religious in nature. Adherents sometimes claim otherwise, but courts in the U.S. have nearly universally disagreed on that point.

As one jurist put it, The emphasis placed on God, spirituality, and faith in a higher power by twelve-step programs such as A.A. or N.A. clearly supports a determination that the underlying basis of these programs is religious and that participation in such programs constitutes a religious exercise. It is an inescapable conclusion that coerced attendance at such programs, therefore, violates the Establishment Clause.Warburton v. Underwood, 2 F.Supp.2d 306, 318 (W.D.N.Y.1998).

Because they are religious in nature, such programs may not be the best choice for, and certainly should not the only option given to, atheists or individuals with an internal locus of control.

Beyond that, the religious atmosphere of the programs can, and sometimes does breed an environment where seasoned members of the program become almost like gurus, given an almost clergy-like status and an inordinate amount of power over newer and more vulnerable members. Sometimes this power is used to exploit. The classic exploitation is sexual13th stepping is a common euphemism used to describe the practice of veteran members manipulating newcomers into engaging in sexual relationshipsbut emotional and financial exploitation can happen as well.

But the most tragic consequence of the infiltration of religion into addiction treatment is not, in my view, the religious aspect per se but the fact that the focus on that approach excludes all others. The real tragedy is that people are dying because they are never even told of other approaches that might help them.

In my own experience, 19 years ago when I sought treatment for my addiction to alcohol, I was told that the only option for survival was to become an active AA member. Being the rule follower I am, I did exactly that. I spent the next nine years of my life going to AA meetings and attempting to fit my fundamentally humanist worldview within the confines of that program.

I eventually found this impossible and left the program. In the aftermath of that, I had to re-examine every thought and belief I had developed in the time I had been abstinent to determine whether those thoughts and beliefs were my own or had been implanted during my AA years. I found this an extraordinarily painful process, in many ways as painful as quitting in the first place.

When I found SMART Recovery and realized that it had been possible, all along, for me to have received social support in a manner that honored who I was a person, I cried. I thought not only of myself and all the pain Id gone through because I wasnt told of other options besides AA but of all the others who had experienced the same thing.

This would be equally true regardless of the specifics of the treatment being offered because there is no one approach that is right for everyone. The real tragedy is the pain that has been caused, and the lives that have been lost, because one approach has become too dominant.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Claire Saenz, Looking in the 'Mirror' and Seeing the Self - The Good Men Project (blog)

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August 12th, 2017 at 10:44 am

Quota for three tribes in Arunachal pageant: Case of cross-wired activism – Hindustan Times

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Inner beauty and self-esteem can be your award winning virtues if you are five feet two inches tall, have passed Class 12 and belong to one of the three tribes of Lisu, Nah and Puroik.

It is not a beauteous sentence but the only way to sum up the quota system proposed for the three underprivileged tribes by the Miss Arunachal Beauty Pageant. Ahead of auditions for the 10th edition next month, the organisers of the contest have announced a direct entry by reserved quota for contestants from Lisu, Nah and Puroik minority tribes. The ethnic character of these tribes, their migration and roots in places as far as China or their history of political de-recognition followed by a deprived if restored citizenship in India makes them a very curious anthropological case study. But to offer them affirmative action via a beauty contest is a classic case of cross-wired and complicated social activism.

Arunachal Pradesh has been making a virtue out of positive discrimination. Last year, 59-year-old Hage Tado Nanya from Ziro village was crowned Mrs Arunachal. Married at 13, she participated to raise awareness against domestic violence, gender discrimination and polygamy. Many contestants in that pageant were victims of polygamy and violence.

Beauty contests have always had discrimination and commercial gain wired into their plumbing. The Miss Universe contest launched in 1952 a year after Miss World was a marketing stunt by Pacific Knitting Mills, a California clothing company after the winner of another rival pageant Miss America refused to wear one of its swimsuits. The point was to sell a swimsuit, not crown a woman for beings gods blue-eyed kid.

Such contests have long been debated as hotbeds of female objectification and commercial opportunism. They confuse the psychological self esteem of a person with her body attributes. But despite loud protests and sloganeering across the world, they have never really faded away from popular culture.

Even in these last two years when persuasive new arguments of colour, race, plus size and body positivism got added to fundamental feminist concerns, no society or country has weaned away entirely from beauty pageants.

Whats happened instead, including in India, is an improvisation of the beauty contest model. Beauty has not only become accepting of diversity but it is now outraged and activist like. The old contest model of dressing up, lining up, walking out before a jury to be judged for a set of agreed upon virtues, should have been scrapped to wipe out its inherent flaws. Instead it has been made bigger with room for the violated, the ostracised, the downtrodden, the gay, the married (thats a separate category of contests), the physically challenged and now the tribal. There are beauty contests for incarcerated women across the world. Bom Paston Womens Prison in Brazil holds a contest ironically titled Miss Jail whereas Lithuanias Penal Labour Colony calls it Miss Captivity.

In India too what we now have is an alternative culture of contests that still in some form worship the body positivism or whatever. Indias first transgender pageant Indian Super Queen was launched in 2010 by Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, the Mumbai-based transgender activist to reiterate the beauty and esteem of an otherwise ridiculed community. Mr Gay India, Nepals Ms Dalit Queen (launched in 2013) and a contest organised for visually challenged girls by Mumbais National Association for the Blind last year add to the list. What exactly are such contestants contesting for though is hard to define if it is not dressed up beauty?

Back to Miss Arunachal Pradesh.

The three tribes chosen via quota entry to the pageant come with a defensive explanation, which says it is to celebrate inner beauty and raise self confidence and self esteem. Whether self esteem is directly proportional to winning or participating in a beauty pageant has still not been proved by any scientifically designed anthropological study done with beauty queens across the world. But what is worse is creating reservation for an ideological and existential talent as vague as like inner beauty for which there are no barometers of measurement on a scale of 1 to 10.

The question we may need to address as a society is why in the first place do we need beauty contests to address societal issues like LGBT rights, or rehabilitate downtrodden tribes like the Lisu, Nah and Puroik?

Perhaps it is easier to find sponsors for events that glamourise anything victimhood, violence, natural and cosmetic beauty or physical handicaps but hard to raise a hue and cry on personal empowerment programmes that dont parade the dressed up body posturing to seek notice.

Shefalee Vasudev is a fashion journalist and author

The views expressed are personal

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Quota for three tribes in Arunachal pageant: Case of cross-wired activism - Hindustan Times

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August 12th, 2017 at 10:44 am

Empowerment – Wikipedia

Posted: July 30, 2017 at 2:31 pm

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The term empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. Empowerment as action refers both to the process of self-empowerment and to professional support of people, which enables them to overcome their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence, and to recognize and use their resources.

The term empowerment originates from American community psychology and is associated[by whom?] with the social scientist Julian Rappaport (1981).[1]

In social work, empowerment forms a practical approach of resource-oriented intervention. In the field of citizenship education and democratic education, empowerment is seen[by whom?] as a tool to increase the responsibility of the citizen. Empowerment is a key concept in the discourse on promoting civic engagement. Empowerment as a concept, which is characterized by a move away from a deficit-oriented towards a more strength-oriented perception, can increasingly be found in management concepts, as well as in the areas of continuing education and self-help.[citation needed]

Robert Adams points to the limitations of any single definition of 'empowerment', and the danger that academic or specialist definitions might take away the word and the connected practices from the very people they are supposed to belong to.[2] Still, he offers a minimal definition of the term: 'Empowerment: the capacity of individuals, groups and/or communities to take control of their circumstances, exercise power and achieve their own goals, and the process by which, individually and collectively, they are able to help themselves and others to maximize the quality of their lives.'[3]

One definition for the term is "an intentional, ongoing process centered in the local community, involving mutual respect, critical reflection, caring, and group participation, through which people lacking an equal share of resources gain greater access to and control over those resources".[4][5]

Rappaport's (1984) definition includes: "Empowerment is viewed as a process: the mechanism by which people, organizations, and communities gain mastery over their lives."[6]

Sociological empowerment often addresses members of groups that social discrimination processes have excluded from decision-making processes through for example discrimination based on disability, race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. Empowerment as a methodology is also associated with feminism.

Empowerment is the process of obtaining basic opportunities for marginalized people, either directly by those people, or through the help of non-marginalized others who share their own access to these opportunities. It also includes actively thwarting attempts to deny those opportunities. Empowerment also includes encouraging, and developing the skills for, self-sufficiency, with a focus on eliminating the future need for charity or welfare in the individuals of the group. This process can be difficult to start and to implement effectively.

One empowerment strategy is to assist marginalized people to create their own nonprofit organization, using the rationale that only the marginalized people, themselves, can know what their own people need most, and that control of the organization by outsiders can actually help to further entrench marginalization. Charitable organizations lead from outside of the community, for example, can disempower the community by entrenching a dependence charity or welfare. A nonprofit organization can target strategies that cause structural changes, reducing the need for ongoing dependence. Red Cross, for example, can focus on improving the health of indigenous people, but does not have authority in its charter to install water-delivery and purification systems, even though the lack of such a system profoundly, directly and negatively impacts health. A nonprofit composed of the indigenous people, however, could ensure their own organization does have such authority and could set their own agendas, make their own plans, seek the needed resources, do as much of the work as they can, and take responsibility and credit for the success of their projects (or the consequences, should they fail).

The process of which enables individuals/groups to fully access personal or collective power, authority and influence, and to employ that strength when engaging with other people, institutions or society. In other words, "Empowerment is not giving people power, people already have plenty of power, in the wealth of their knowledge and motivation, to do their jobs magnificently. We define empowerment as letting this power out."[7] It encourages people to gain the skills and knowledge that will allow them to overcome obstacles in life or work environment and ultimately, help them develop within themselves or in the society.

To empower a female "...sounds as though we are dismissing or ignoring males, but the truth is, both genders desperately need to be equally empowered."[8] Empowerment occurs through improvement of conditions, standards, events, and a global perspective of life.

Before there can be the finding that a particular group requires empowerment and that therefore their self-esteem needs to be consolidated on the basis of awareness of their strengths, there needs to be a deficit diagnosis usually carried out by experts assessing the problems of this group. The fundamental asymmetry of the relationship between experts and clients is usually not questioned by empowerment processes. It also needs to be regarded critically, in how far the empowerment approach is really applicable to all patients/clients. It is particularly questionable whether mentally ill people in acute crisis situations are in a position to make their own decisions. According to Albert Lenz, people behave primarily regressive in acute crisis situations and tend to leave the responsibility to professionals.[9] It must be assumed, therefore, that the implementation of the empowerment concept requires a minimum level of communication and reflectivity of the persons involved.

In social work, empowerment offers an approach that allows social workers to increase the capacity for self-help of their clients. For example, this allows clients not to be seen as passive, helpless 'victims' to be rescued but instead as a self-empowered person fighting abuse/ oppression; a fight, in which the social worker takes the position of a facilitator, instead of the position of a 'rescuer'.[10]

Marginalized people who lack self-sufficiency become, at a minimum, dependent on charity, or welfare. They lose their self-confidence because they cannot be fully self-supporting. The opportunities denied them also deprive them of the pride of accomplishment which others, who have those opportunities, can develop for themselves. This in turn can lead to psychological, social and even mental health problems. "Marginalized" here refers to the overt or covert trends within societies whereby those perceived as lacking desirable traits or deviating from the group norms tend to be excluded by wider society and ostracized as undesirables.

According to Robert Adams, there is a long tradition in the UK and the USA respectively to advance forms of self-help that have developed and contributed to more recent concepts of empowerment. For example, the free enterprise economic theories of Milton Friedman embraced self-help as a respectable contributor to the economy. Both the Republicans in the US and the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher built on these theories. 'At the same time, the mutual aid aspects of the concept of self-help retained some currency with socialists and democrats.'[11]

In economic development, the empowerment approach focuses on mobilizing the self-help efforts of the poor, rather than providing them with social welfare. Economic empowerment is also the empowering of previously disadvantaged sections of the population, for example, in many previously colonized African countries.[12]

Legal empowerment happens when marginalised people or groups use the legal mobilisation i.e., law, legal systems and justice mechanisms to improve or transform their social, political or economic situations. Legal empowerment approaches are interested in understanding how they can use the law to advance interests and priorities of the marginalised.[13]

According to 'Open society foundations' (an NGO) "Legal empowerment is about strengthening the capacity of all people to exercise their rights, either as individuals or as members of a community. Legal empowerment is about grass root justice, about ensuring that law is not confined to books or courtrooms, but rather is available and meaningful to ordinary people.[14]

Lorenzo Cotula in his book ' Legal Empowerment for Local Resource Control ' outlines the fact that legal tools for securing local resource rights are enshrined in legal system, does not necessarily mean that local resource users are in position to use them and benefit from them. The state legal system is constrained by a range of different factors from lack of resources to cultural issues. Among these factors economic, geographic, linguistic and other constraints on access to courts, lack of legal awareness as well as legal assistance tend to be recurrent problems.[15]

In many context, marginalised groups do not trust the legal system owing to the widespread manipulation that it has historically been subjected to by the more powerful. 'To what extent one knows the law, and make it work for themselves with 'para legal tools', is legal empowerment; assisted utilizing innovative approaches like legal literacy and awareness training, broadcasting legal information, conducting participatory legal discourses, supporting local resource user in negotiating with other agencies and stake holders and to strategies combining use of legal processes with advocacy along with media engagement, and socio legal mobilisation.[15]

Sometimes groups are marginalized by society at large, with governments participating in the process of marginalization. Equal opportunity laws which actively oppose such marginalization, are supposed to allow empowerment to occur. These laws made it illegal to restrict access to schools and public places based on race. They can also be seen as a symptom of minorities' and women's empowerment through lobbying.

Gender empowerment conventionally refers to the empowerment of women, which is a significant topic of discussion in regards to development and economics nowadays. It also points to approaches regarding other marginalized genders in a particular political or social context. This approach to empowerment is partly informed by feminism and employed legal empowerment by building on international human rights. Empowerment is one of the main procedural concerns when addressing human rights and development. The Human Development and Capabilities Approach, The Millennium Development Goals, and other credible approaches/goals point to empowerment and participation as a necessary step if a country is to overcome the obstacles associated with poverty and development.[16] The UN Sustainable Development Goals targets gender equality and women's empowerment for the global development agenda.[17]

According to Thomas A. Potterfield,[18] many organizational theorists and practitioners regard employee empowerment as one of the most important and popular management concepts of our time.

Ciulla discusses an inverse case: that of bogus empowerment.[19]

In the sphere of management and organizational theory, "empowerment" often refers loosely to processes for giving subordinates (or workers generally) greater discretion and resources: distributing control in order to better serve both customers and the interests of employing organizations.

One account of the history of workplace empowerment in the United States recalls the clash of management styles in railroad construction in the American West in the mid-19th century, where "traditional" hierarchical East-Coast models of control encountered individualistic pioneer workers, strongly supplemented by methods of efficiency-oriented "worker responsibility" brought to the scene by Chinese laborers. In this case, empowerment at the level of work teams or brigades achieved a notable (but short-lived) demonstrated superiority. See the views of Robert L. Webb.

During the 1980s and 1990s, empowerment has become a point of interest in management concepts and business administration. In this context, empowerment involves approaches that promise greater participation and integration to the employee in order to cope with their tasks as independently as possible and responsibly can. A strength-based approach known as "empowerment circle" has become an instrument of organizational development. Multidisciplinary empowerment teams aim for the development of quality circles to improve the organizational culture, strengthening the motivation and the skills of employees. The target of subjective job satisfaction of employees is pursued through flat hierarchies, participation in decisions, opening of creative effort, a positive, appreciative team culture, self-evaluation, taking responsibility (for results), more self-determination and constant further learning. The optimal use of existing potential and abilities can supposedly be better reached by satisfied and active workers. Here, knowledge management contributes significantly to implement employee participation as a guiding principle, for example through the creation of communities of practice.[20]

However, it is important to ensure that the individual employee has the skills to meet their allocated responsibilities and that the company's structure sets up the right incentives for employees to reward their taking responsibilities. Otherwise there is a danger of being overwhelmed or even becoming lethargic.[21]

Empowerment of employees requires a culture of trust in the organization and an appropriate information and communication system. The aim of these activities is to save control costs, that become redundant when employees act independently and in a self-motivated fashion. In the book Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute, the authors illustrate three keys that organizations can use to open the knowledge, experience, and motivation power that people already have.[7] The three keys that managers must use to empower their employees are:

According to Stewart, in order to guarantee a successful work environment, managers need to exercise the "right kind of authority" (p.6). To summarize, "empowerment is simply the effective use of a managers authority", and subsequently, it is a productive way to maximize all-around work efficiency.[22]

These keys are hard to put into place and it is a journey to achieve empowerment in a workplace. It is important to train employees and make sure they have trust in what empowerment will bring to a company.[7]

The implementation of the concept of empowerment in management has also been criticised for failing to live up to its claims.[23]

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Empowerment - Wikipedia

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July 30th, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Q&A: New YWCA CEO Vanessa McDowell emphasizes empowerment –

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A few weeks ago, Vanessa McDowell made the news when she was named the first African-American CEO of the YWCA Madison, which has been around since 1908.

But as the former interim CEO at the Y, McDowells not new to the job, and shes not new to the city, either. She grew up in Madison and is a longtime member, volunteer and former employee of Mount Zion Baptist Church and an active member of the Madison Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, where she currently serves as the chaplain. Plus, shes a DJ on the side, and mixes music around town at parties and events like Dane Dances.

Now, as CEO, shes on a mission to make sure that the community understands the YWCAs mission (like that it has nothing to do with the YMCA) and to empower the populations the Y serves.

As the first African-American CEO of the YWCA in Madison, youve said theres a banner that I carry with it, but also a weight that I carry with it. Can you explain that?

One of the great things about right now is I have a lot of support from the African-American community. Its like carrying this banner of victory, like Yes, were here, were doing it together! But with our mission to eliminate racism and empower women, to be in 2017 and this is just happening is kind of a weight, too. So weve come a way, but we still have a long way still to go.

With the emphasis on being the first African-American CEO, do you think that at all takes away from your personal accomplishments?

Not at all. I mean, for me, this is really not about me, per se. I just happen to be the vessel being used at this time. So I dont really take into account me personally, my accomplishments or things like that. To me, Im a believer in God, and I just believe that God positioned me at this time to carry this banner and take the baton during this part of the race.

What does it mean for African-Americans to look at a CEO and see someone who looks like them?

I think that makes a world of difference. Just like anything, if you dont see yourself represented somewhere, it makes you feel like you dont belong there. For me, its an opportunity that the door has been opened to say, "you belong here." Were able to get into different communities of color in a different way than we have in the past.

One of your focuses is moving from a charity model to an empowerment model. Some people might think, whats wrong with charity?

I think that model is problematic because it comes from a lens that I know better than you what you need. There is no real engagement with the person, its just kind of throwing this program at you and throwing this money at you, take it. Instead of, Let me walk alongside of you and see what it is that you need from me.

Can you give me an example of empowerment on an average day at the Y?

I think specifically about our YWeb Career Academy. The goal is to get women and people of color into the IT field that is currently predominantly white and male. I get to meet them at the beginning, and theyre all nervous and not sure about this. Like, Okay, Im committing 15 weeks of my life here to very intense training and hoping to come out on the other side. But by the end when they get to graduation, they have the ability to really change their lives forever, because the IT field is pretty lucrative. If you go from not really having much, to now youre able to make a family-sustaining wage, thats a major accomplishment. Thats empowerment.

It started in the home. I have phenomenal parents who have been advocates and community leaders here in Madison and have really done some trailblazing work. My mom was the first director of the Multicultural Student Center on campus.

It was huge, because they didnt really have anywhere for students of color to have a place on campus. She provided a lot of support to students of color who still call her mom. One of the inspiring things for me is that she was 36 (when she became director), and Im 36, so its like this whole legacy feeling.

What are your priorities as CEO, and have they changed at all from your time as interim CEO?

Were still working on those three areas I had in my interim: staff development and morale, building nontraditional partnerships and building an empowerment model, and theyre longstanding goals. It's not like magic happens and you're done with them. But my overall vision for YWCA Madison is that whatever touch you have with us, is an empowering touch that inspires you and uplifts you in some type of way. Whether if thats just you surfing our website, you should be empowered by that website. Things that seem small, they still have a way to touch you.

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Is there something that you want the Madison community to better understood about your work at the Y?

One of the things that were working on particularly is making sure that we do tell our story better in the community, just by our social media and things of that nature. And then were also trying to make sure we dont get confused with YMCA, which happens a lot. We have two very different missions; we have no affiliation, even though theyre great. Our focus is really on eliminating racism and empowering women. We dont have a gym.

How did you get into DJing?

I grew up in a musical family. The story of my house is kind of that on Saturday mornings, youre doing cleanup and the musics going, you listen to '70s music, '80s music. Probably about seven years ago now, I was always bringing a little iPod to parties. Everybody was like, Vanessa, bring the music! The a light bulb went off, and I was like, I could probably be making a little money, because I just have this belief that everyone needs a side hustle. (Laughs.) So I invested in some equipment, taught myself the software and the rest is history.

I feel like when you picture the CEO of a major nonprofit, and then a DJ, youd think, oh, that couldnt be the same person.

Ive had people run into me, and its almost like theyre scared to ask me, Are you DJ Ace?

Is there anything else you want to add?

I think we are in a pivotal time right now, not only as far as our country but our city. Theres this kind of glossing over sometimes of the tale of two cities here. Race to Equity really brought up a lot of conversation, a lot of discussions, which was good. But now I feel like were at a pivotal place where we can actually figure out a plan to get rid of these disparities. The question is, are we going to rise to the occasion?

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Q&A: New YWCA CEO Vanessa McDowell emphasizes empowerment -

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July 30th, 2017 at 2:31 pm

RadKIDS combines safety and fun | K-12 Education … – Columbia Missourian

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COLUMBIA One by one,kids sat in the middle of an open room with helmets strapped under their chins and decked out in training pads.

Either Deputy Eli Burkholder or Detective Cody Bounds, wearing full RedMan training suits, would approach them and feign abduction. Each kid would punch and kick their way free from the officer and run to safety on the other side of the room.

The scene sounds bizarre, but its part of routine training for the Boone County Sheriff's Departments radKIDS program. The program, which stands for resisting aggression defensively, took place Saturday at the department building.The program is a personal empowerment and safety education program for children ages 5-12, according to the department website. The Saturday session was for kids ages 9 to 12.

RadKIDS is a national program that was started in 2000. The program that the Sheriffs Department currently uses, which includes more about internet safety for the modern generation, began in the spring of 2015 when Captain Martina Pounds from the Boone County Fire Departmentgot involved.

The program starts with what Pounds described as classroom time, where she and other instructors talk to the kids about general safety and the difference between good and bad people. Pounds said the class doesnt like to use the word stranger.

Just because theyre a stranger doesnt mean theyre bad, but just because you know them doesnt mean theyre good," she said.

Pounds said they stress that potential predators can be people the kids are already familiar with even family.

Unfortunately, most crimes against children are from people they know, she said.

After classroom time, the kids get a hands-on experience to practice the defensive techniques they learned against Burkholder and Bounds, volunteers to be punched, kicked and yelled at.

In the practice situation, Detective Andy Evans, another instructor, gave each kid an everyday scenario they may be in when an adult shows aggression towards them. When either Burkholder or Bounds approached them or grabbed them, the kids demonstrated techniques like a hammer fist or a heel kick to fight back against their fake attacker.

A tactile experience with that kind of a situation is something that Kirk Wing of Columbia wanted his sons, Bruce, 9, and Henry, 7, to have. That desire came from his own experience learning self-defense.

Me and their mother both took the self-defense course offered by (MU) and we found great value in the techniques we learned to deal with attackers and such, Wing said. I wanted them to get the same type of experience, including the simulation, that I did so theyll be better prepared for whatever they come across.

Despite the real problems theyre learning to defend themselves against, the kids have fun with the demonstration part of the class. Pounds said their enjoyment helps then learn.

Kids tend to remember better when its fun, she said. We try to make it fun for them, but on the other hand we try to make them understand, hey, if youre ever in this situation, you need to know how to defend yourself.

Wings sons now have a foundation of knowledge they can rely on if something were ever to happen.

Weve talked to them about these kinds of situations before, but it never went beyond telling them to avoid situations. This (training session) was unique because this taught them that in a time where they wouldnt be able to avoid it, how do you deal with it? he said. Nine out of 10 times theyre not even going to get in this type of situation because theyll know how to avoid it, but this covers the other 10 percent, so I really feel like theyre well-suited to deal with the situation.

Pounds has found that repetition helps to reinforce the ideas and the simple techniques in kids minds. RadKIDS is also a program implemented in elementary schools, usually in third or fourth grade.

We like doing it in the schools because we have the kids over eight weeks, she said. When you have the kids once a week over eight weeks, you really see them developing a confidence and seeing, oh yeah, I can do this.

They can also repeat the weekend class if they want to, as both the classroom time and the demonstration help to reinforce the ideas. Pounds said the kids are receptive to how important the material theyre learning is.

These guys understand that it could save their life, she said.

Supervising editor is Hannah Black.

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RadKIDS combines safety and fun | K-12 Education ... - Columbia Missourian

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July 30th, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Art auction to support local charities – La Crosse Tribune

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Paula Caucutt opened Natural Connection at 1012 Superior Ave., Tomah, 12 years ago. She describes the store as an alternative health emporium that sells vitamins, supplements and essential oils. She also carries beauty aids and organic foodstuffs. A very popular feature of the store is the old-fashioned soda fountain, where customers can get a good cup of coffee, mango smoothie or glass of Wisconsin wine.

Sandy LeCoursiere is a familiar local artist who has been on the Tomah art scene since 2002. While her art work is for sale, she is probably more well-recognized for the charities and organizations to which she contributes her creations. To name a few?

I donate a painting to the Hospital Foundation Golf Outings silent auction each year, she said. She is also a major supporter of the annual Wine into Water event, part of the Jesse Parker Foundation program, and she does the artwork for the Jesse Run theme each year.

For the last few Aprils, Paula has held an art show and sale as a fund raiser to support her daughters Chileda school in La Crosse. (The Chileda Institute provides progressive education and personal empowerment to children with developmental challenges.)

Sandy has been a major contributor to Paulas spring art shows. This year, however, she was unable to exhibit.

I felt bad that I couldnt participate, Sandy recalled.

So, over smoothies a few weeks ago, the long-time friends discussed ideas for selling Sandys art, while supporting local, area and national charities and bringing business into Natural Connection.

Im excited that Sandy came up with a unique idea, Paula said.

Beginning in August and continuing throughout the year, a piece of Sandys art will be on display each month at Natural Connection, with a chance to bid on it by patrons and visitors to the store. Fifty per cent of the final bid will be donated to a different charity each month.

The charities earmarked for the year are: Chileda School; Chasing Daylight; Family Promise; Families First; St. Clares Mission in Sparta; the Jesse Parker Foundation; Boys & Girls Club; Remedy Event, a La Crosse HIV/Aids Awareness group; Americana Music in the Park in Tomah; Feed My Starving Children; Last Paw Rescue, a national organization to save pets; and ACT, Tomahs theater group.

The first painting is on display now, and Paula said someone has already put a bid on it.

Asked whether the paintings will have seasonal themes, Sandy laughed.

I wont be painting a picture of Santa Claus for the December sale, she said.

How do the women see this project play out? Paula thinks bidding will be done by people enamored of Sandys artistry. Sandy, more modestly, believes that people who might have a special place in their hearts for the mission of Chasing Daylight, for instance, will bid on the picture highlighted the month that charity is featured. Either way, the program hopefully will bring people into the store to enjoy its friendly atmosphere over a morning Joe, indulge their interest in original artwork and contribute to worthy charities.

For more information, go to the Natural Connection Facebook page.

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Art auction to support local charities - La Crosse Tribune

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July 30th, 2017 at 2:31 pm

I took an empowering women’s self-defense workshop at a boxing gym, and here’s why everyone should try it – HelloGiggles

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I took an empowering women's self-defense workshop at a boxing gym, and here's why everyone should try it "); }

Weve all been there. Its after dark and youre walking alone to your car parked in an empty lot. You hear footsteps behind you. Or maybe you see your attacker standing in front of you, watching you and waiting. You may not know who they are, but most likely, you do. You feel that horrible drop in your stomach, that itchy, sweatiness in your arm pits, the hair on your arms standing on end. You sense youre in danger, but what do you do?

According to Jarrett Arthur, one of the worlds leading experts in womens self-defense, listening to your gut instinct is critical.

Ive worked with survivors for over 14 years, said Arthur during an instructional workshop at Los Angeles BoxUnion boxing studio this month.And the thing I hear [from them] over and over and over again is, Something didnt feel right, and I did it anyway.'

Recently, Arthur and Lynn Le, the founder of womens boxing glove companySociety Nine, led the empowering two-hour self-defense intensive for women in L.A., breaking down the basics of understanding verbals, body language, and commanding space, and coaching the 30-plus women in attendance in physical engagement, reviewing fighting stance, striking, and ground situations.

The inspiring event was a first for BoxUnion, a brand new boxing studio in Los Angeles that boasts state-of-the-art facilities and a community-building approach to boxing for fitness. The studio invited Jarrett to not only offer hands-on physical instruction, but also to engage participants in necessary conversations about the importance of establishing boundaries and self-advocating, imparting techniques that are particularly useful in situations where you know your perpetrator (which, Arthur pointed out, are the most common).

During the workshop,Arthur laid out the three stages of self-defense: the Pre-Fight (the moment when you believe a physical altercation is about to take place and the moments preceding the encounter), the Fight (a person has already engaged you physically), and the Post-Fight (the physical, psychological, emotional, etc. aftermath of a physical confrontation). Arthur said she does not provide Post-Fight instruction, but strongly suggested seeking help following a violent encounter and offered to connect participants with references and resources.

And according to Arthur, it is because of that Post-Fight piece of the experience that she stresses the importance of Pre-Fight boundary-setting using vocal tone and forcefulness, body language, and verbal commands.

I will literally go to all the ends of the Earth to avoid having to actually test my physical skills, said Arthur. I do not want that for me, and I really dont want that for you, so any way you can avoid being in a confrontation, shut it down and set boundaries, that is definitely what you want to do.

Should women find themselves in situations where fighting is necessary, however, Arthur offered a handful of simple strikes to cripple an attacker and create time and space for women to get away and find help:kicks and elbow throws to the eyes, nose, throat, and groin.

Though Arthur has found personal and professional empowerment in training and teaching self-defense, she admitted the everyday grapplings with self-doubt persist. I [still] deal with situations that are universal for women, in which someone makes you feel a little bit smaller, a little bit quieter, and takes away your power. Im not, like, this hulking she-wolf walking around with it all figured out, said Arthur.

No matter what your course of action when confronted with assault, though, theres no victim-blaming here. Arthur insisted whatever choice you make is the right one.

Nothing that you can do or cannot do can warrant being targeted for violence. Nothing. Not what you wear, not where you go, not how much you drink, not who youre with. Nothing.

So get yourself to a self-defense workshop, stat!

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I took an empowering women's self-defense workshop at a boxing gym, and here's why everyone should try it - HelloGiggles

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July 30th, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Sowing education and empowerment with needle and thread – The San Diego Union-Tribune

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As a girl growing up in a city in northern Togo near the Burkina Faso border in West Africa, Lili Klu figured out that a conventional education really wasnt for her. At 15, she decided to learn a trade: sewing. She turned out to be such a natural that she was able to complete the three-year program in one year. When she moved to San Diego with her husband in 2000, she opened L.K. Fashion Boutique on El Cajon Boulevard and has recently started a non-profit program, Lilis Fashion Academy, to teach sewing and the business of fashion design to women.

I love the creativity (of sewing and fashion), the appreciation on a clients face and that I could educate and empower women, she says. Fashion is always about risk, and one of the biggest aspects of creativity is risk. You need it if you want to be successful in the fashion industry. Risk will set you apart from all the designers, and for me to become a designer speaks to my love for fashion and sewing.

Klu, 41, lives in the Grantville neighborhood with her husband and two sons. She took some time to talk about her new non-profit program, her favorite African fashion designers and her inspiration when creating clothes.

Q: Tell us about Lilis Fashion Academy.

A: Its an educational sewing institute that focuses on teaching the skills needed to master sewing with a variety of techniques needed for a successful career in sewing. Sewing machines helped to emancipate women as it gave them a commercially marketable skill. We believe that as our students learn how to sew for themselves and others, they will obtain these marketable skills that will encourage them to become entrepreneurs and financially support themselves, their families, and supply jobs for people in their community.

The program will develop each participants employment readiness because sewing is a window into history, sociology and economics. This class is designed to get students to complete the program knowing the basics of threading the machine, working the controls, selecting stitches, sewing straight lines and curves, and sewing basic seams while pushing them to specific sewing techniques.

Q: How does the academy work?

A: New students will register and pay a $100 registration fee and get an introduction to the program. Then, theyll start lessons that I teach. To successfully complete the year-long program (which requires no other payments beyond the registration fee), students are required to complete an eight-week capstone project. The project consists of students designing their own fashion concept to fit a specific model. This will be a platform where students take what they learned throughout the course of the program and apply it to examine a specific idea around a model. Each student must make five outfits for five models for their graduation fashion show. On graduation day, the students receive a certificate of completion, and owners of fashion businesses in San Diego will be invited to attend the fashion show to see the skills of our students and to offer them future employment.

This is the first year of the program and we currently have eight students who will graduate next March.

Q: How would you describe LK Fashion Boutique?

A: Our mission is to provide men and women with an upscale selection of African clothes and exists to not only attract and maintain customers, but to spread sophisticated fashion and instill confidence with folks in the West. I moved to San Diego in 2000 and started working as an independent designer for the African community in San Diego.

Its a good place to live and raise a family.

Q: Are there meanings or traditions behind different prints?

A: Yes, theres a lot of meaning and tradition behind African prints, lots of hidden meanings. For example, the kente come from west Africa, specifically Ghana. The kente is a vibrant fabric and the pattern and design represent common African motifs, like religious beliefs. The colors on all African prints have a meaning. For example, red symbolizes death, green means fertility, white expresses purity, and blue signifies love.

Q: Whats your opinion of the fashion scene here in San Diego? How would you describe it?

A: San Diego fashion is very laid back, but the casual sweatpants and sandals every day and for every occasion is not cutting it. We need to spice it up little bit.

Q: What do you get the most requests for?

A: Dashiki prints and actual dashikis are the most popular.

Q: How would you describe your personal style?

A: Simple but still elegant.

Q: Who are some African fashion designers youre a fan of?

A: Kofi Ansah, whos from Ghana but based in London. I think Kofi is really one of the first African designers who brought modern African style and design to another level. He gave the fashion industry a new type of style with graphics and new shapes. Theyre not just clothes that you wear; theyre more than that. Theyre visual, theyre art and each pattern has a story. When you think about modern African style, you think about Kofi first. Hes a pioneer.

Deola Sagoe is an African designer whose work I find to be so creative, and who put Africa before fashion success. I admire Deola because shes an African woman who made it in an industry first ruled by men, and because shes African. Lets be real, female fashion designers are still in the minority. Can you believe that out of the 50 major fashion brands only 14 percent are run by women? Daola is an entrepreneur. When it comes to her work, I respect the fact that she could transform traditional Nigerian designs into contemporary designs. Today, shes well-known for her unique style and most of her creations are made with Komole Kandids motifs. Theyre gorgeous and elegant. I want to have my own signature and be well-known in the industry just like her.

Q: What inspires you when youre creating your clothes?

A: African culture. African wax is a unique textile. The simplest dress can be made with African wax and it will look 100 times better than a regular, plain dress. The pattern is what makes the difference. To create an outfit with this type of fabric is an art because of the bright colors and patterns. You need to find the right balance. Its always difficult for me to work with other types of fabric. I love using African wax because it shows who I am, its my identity. Each pattern has a story and each represents a part of Africa.

Q: Whats been challenging about your work with your fashion business and with your new non-profit academy?

A: It hasnt really been challenging at this point. I love what I do and I love empowering women to become fashion designers.

Q: Whats been rewarding about it?

A: Helping and empowering women.

Q: What has it taught you about yourself?

A: Leadership, teamwork and humility.

Q: What is the best advice youve ever received?

A: Love yourself first and make sure you learn something that you really love.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to find out about you?

A: I would love to work with Versace or Calvin Klein one day.

Q: Please describe your ideal San Diego weekend.

A: Opening the boutique on Saturday and then spending Sunday at church and then at home with my family.


Twitter: @lisadeaderick

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Sowing education and empowerment with needle and thread - The San Diego Union-Tribune

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July 30th, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Shamanic Healer and Teacher Anahata Ananda Presents Powerful 2-Day Shamangelic Breathwork Facilitation … – Benzinga

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Shamanic Teacher and Guide Anahata Ananda of Shamangelic Healing Center in Sedona, Arizona announces the return of her dynamic Shamangelic Breathwork Facilitator Training Course this fall, October 25-26. This popular 2-day intensive incorporates guided visualization, holotropic breathwork and other techniques to facilitate a profoundly personal Sacred Journey of the soul.

Sedona, Arizona (PRWEB) July 30, 2017

Shamangelic Breathwork Teacher and Shamanic Healer Anahata Ananda of Shamangelic Healing, Sedona Arizona's Premier Center for Shamanic Healing and Spiritual Awakening, is proud to offer her powerful Shamangelic Breathwork Facilitator Training, Level III, a unique hands-on professional level training intensive like no other. The weekend training will again be held at Shamangelic Healing Center, among the healing energies of Sedona's beautiful red rocks and vortex energy centers, October 2526, 2017.

This two-day training course is a powerful complement to the two previous levels, Empowerment & Awakening and Healing Tools & Modalities, and part of a 12-day training intensive offered at the Center that lay the foundations for energy healing, setting boundaries, using healing tools, hands on healing techniques and more that prepare participants to be Breathwork facilitators.

Shamanic breathing is the practice of using breath, sound and touch to affect emotional clearing and attract angelic support to clear density and awaken one's true essence. Because of the intense and powerful nature of Shamangelic Breathwork, and the comprehensive training and experience facilitators require, the Empowerment & Awakening and Healing Tools & Modalities courses are prerequisites to this course.

Shamangelic Breathwork Facilitator Training draws on all the previous coursework in this powerful and transformational intensive. It will explore one of the most complex practices for core healing and spiritual awakening, providing various techniques to illicit deeper emotional releases, shifts and expansion than the earlier training.

The Level III course also teaches how to support someone through their process of releasing past traumas, shows facilitators how to set sacred space and conduct it as a ceremonial offering, reveals effective methods for bringing participants back into their bodies after a shamanic journey, and gives a practicum on co-facilitating a live Shamangelic Breathwork ceremony.

Deep Shamanic breathing has been found to facilitate profound emotional release, open new channels of awareness and clear toxicity in the body. This sacred journey incorporates guided visualization, Shamangelic Breathwork, vibrational sound, soulful music, energy healing, Shamanic tools, crystal therapy and lightbody expansion techniques to facilitate a personal Sacred Shamanic Journey into the depths of one's soul. Participants will come away from this comprehensive course empowered and confident to lead themselves and others on soulful, in-depth shamanic breathing journeys.

Shamangelic Healing offers 12-day training intensives at the Center that lay the foundations for energy healing, setting personal boundaries, using healing tools, hands on healing techniques, and more that prepare participants to be Breathwork facilitators.

Shamanic Healer and Spiritual Counselor, Anahata Ananda has trained extensively with gifted shamans, energy healers and spiritual teachers from around the world in order to artfully integrate the fields of spirituality, energy healing, self-empowerment, and shamanic teachings. Her client-base spans the globe with individuals from all walks of life who are seeking to heal and awaken to their fullest potential.

Anahata also offers Shamangelic Tailored Retreats in Sedona that offer a wide range of private sessions to meet the needs of students and clients for their core healing, spiritual awakening or individualized training. Sessions may include Shamanic healing, sacred vortex journeys, Shamangelic Breathwork, Chakra Balancing, Meditation Practices, Tools for Healthy Conscious Relationships, specific training and much more.

The Shamangelic Healing Center is based in Sedona, Arizona. It is nestled beneath Thunder Mountain, with 360 degrees of breathtaking views, and within walking distance to a medicine wheel and healing vortexes, making it the perfect setting for healing and expansion.

Inside, the retreat center's calm and relaxed environment helps to engage all of the senses, making it easy to settle into a session. Clients seeking Spiritual awakening, transformational healing services, counseling, sacred land journeys or training courses may choose from a wide range of options that can be tailored for the ultimate personal experience. Private Healing Sessions with Anahata are also available at the Center where Anahata provides personal sessions in a safe and loving space for deep healing and spiritual awakening.

Whether visitors are seeking a Weekend Intensive on Empowerment & Awakening, a soulful Tailored Sedona Retreat of Transformational Healing and Spiritual Awakening, Shamanic Wisdom Teachings or a Sacred Land Journey Shamangelic Healing provides profoundly empowering experiences, all among the Red Rocks.

The Shamangelic Breathwork Facilitator Training is an intimate experience with limited space and traditionally fills up fast. Participants are encouraged to reserve their spot early. For detailed descriptions and a calendar of all training courses, retreats and spiritual awakening services offered by Anahata of Shamangelic Healing Center visit

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Shamanic Healer and Teacher Anahata Ananda Presents Powerful 2-Day Shamangelic Breathwork Facilitation ... - Benzinga

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July 30th, 2017 at 2:31 pm

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