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Tightening–and Loosening–Up in 2018

wrench-717684_1920If you are reading this, you’ve been graced to see yet another new year! 2018 is here, much faster than most of us expected.   It’s hard for me to believe that I began this blog just one year ago, and that you’ve been gracious enough to review at least one of my entries.  I’m hoping in this new year that you will help me to make this blog as helpful as possible.  Let me know if there are topics that you’d like to hear more about.  Where I don’t have expertise, I’m glad to reach out to gifted colleagues (like you!) to spread insight to all of my readers and followers.

Here’s a topic that’s probably relevant to nearly all of us–tightening up!  As I have surveyed my numbers over the last few days (especially my bathroom scale and my finances), neither is where I’d like it to be, especially after holiday indulgences have taken their toll.  So I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on some specific changes that I need to make this year, and have even started making a few calls to streamline my budget.  It’s amazing what happens when you look less than favorable situations in the eye and make up your mind to do something different.  Because it’s important to make SMART goals, I’m not rushing to make many changes, and to be honest, I can’t, or rather can, but choose not to, sustain the urgency of making everything fall into place on January 1st!  Nevertheless, now that I’ve reviewed the numbers and made a plan, I’m going to start putting one foot in front of the other (see the “Baby Steps” blog from 1/8/17 for more details).

At the same time that I am committed to tightening up in the areas of fitness and finance, I am also very invested in “loosening up” in other areas. Huh? Well, I’ve come to learn that there’s a time to grind and a time to unwind! I most enjoy unwinding through my favorite things–travel, laughter, music, reading, and time well spent with family and friends. My hubby and I have been discussing how we can enhance the quality of our family time through emphasizing a different focus for each month of the year. Yes, there is still planning and intentionality involved, but richer quality time is the goal.

So tell me about your grind and your unwind in 2018…

 

À Votre Santé (“To Your Health”),

“Dr. T”

Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.

#drtonyaarmstrong

#blossominghope

#armstrongcenterforhope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, & Everything in Between!

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As the weekend approaches, the reality of Christmas looms closer. While that fact may intimidate those with more shopping left than time, it is a great relief for those who have been aching for this high holiday.  Yes, we’re glad to have time off from work, a break from emails and deadlines, and a slower pace.  It’s exciting to see family and friends, to exchange gifts, and to enjoy some holiday treats. (Yes, these are a few of my favorite things!)

But the real meaning of Christmas is about how an itinerant infant could turn the world upside down, way back then and today. We adore Baby Jesus far beyond his chubby cheeks and innocent coos because He first loved us and bought our redemption.  Not only does the advent of Christ usher into the world the gift of salvation, but God’s work through the Holy Spirit allows us the ongoing unfolding of our sanctification. We are set aside for particular works in this world, not just the world to come.  Our purpose, established before our conception, is being carried out day by day because we belong to and have fellowship with the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). In contemporary terms, we have all of the guidance, power, steadfast love, and serenity we need for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17).

In case you desire to connect the coming of Christ and His work in your daily life in a concrete way, take some time during the holidays to prepare for wellness in 2018. Today only, order your copy of the Blossoming Hope book/album experience on Kindle for just $4.99!  Visit https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077T4P841 for your copies of this practical guide to wellness.

Most of all, I pray that you will have a rich and reflective Christmas!

À Votre Santé (“To Your Health”),

“Dr. T.”

Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.

 

#drtonyaarmstrong

#blossominghope

#armstrongcenterforhope

 

Giving Thanks is Contagious!

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“Everyday is a Day of Thanksgiving!”  This song, recorded by Dr. Charles G.  Hayes and The Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Choir (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBosmwq3Ik0), is sung often in my home church and is a perennial favorite.  The act of thanksgiving is very important for the maintenance of a balanced perspective, especially when we are enduring the storms of life. Even in our secular society, gratitude is recognized both anecdotally and empirically as a source of peace and joy when we can tap into it. In Christianity, however, gratitude is grounded in the God who makes all blessings possible. Additionally, thanksgiving helps us demonstrate to God our recognition of our everyday, “manna-and-quail” blessings (see the 16th chapter of Exodus). We can thank God often for the “big” blessings of “life, health, and a reasonable amount of strength,” and we can use mindfulness often to help us be grateful for the “little” blessings that occur moment by moment, such as a gentle breeze, an encouraging phone call from a friend, a smile from a stranger, or clean water to drink. Scripture leads us to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 6:18).

That said, however, there is something truly special about this holiday of Thanksgiving.  As a culture, we look forward to gathering with family and/or friends, enjoying a scrumptious spread of culinary masterpieces, and thereafter taking in some football, great conversation, neighborhood walk, or a nap!  Although department stores and cyber sales are exerting great pressure to have us leave our tables and company earlier and earlier to get back to spending, let’s resist those messages and linger a little while longer enjoying the intangible blessings of this day.  Take in all the hugs and kisses, laughter, tasty treats, and great stories your soul can bear.  These are the gifts God gives to sustain and inspire us. So spread your gratitude–it’s contagious!!

À Votre Santé (“To Your Health”),

“Dr. T”

Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.

Author of Blossoming Hope: The Black Christian Woman’s Guide to Mental Health and Wellness

https://www.amazon.com/Blossoming-Hope-Christian-Womans-Wellness/dp/0999389416/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511444050&sr=8-1&keywords=blossoming+hope

 

 

The Launching of Blossoming Hope is Here!

BlossomCoverDear Friends,

With great anticipation, I look forward to greeting many of you (registered as well as walk-ins) this afternoon at the launch of Blossoming Hope: The Black Christian Woman’s Guide to Mental Health and Wellness as well as the Blossoming Hope Companion album!  We’ll be celebrating from 3-5 pm at The Armstrong Center for Hope, 5315 Highgate Dr., Suite 102 in Durham (27713).  What a journey this has been! I’ve received so many texts, emails, and calls from well-wishers across the country and around town who can’t make it, but send their prayers and celebratory cheer nonetheless.

These sentiments are especially welcome during a week in which my family has lost and funeralized my beloved stepfather, Calbert T. Carlton.  Cal was a deeply caring, kind, and jovial man who always had a joke or quip on his tongue. He’d just celebrated 25 years of marriage with my mother on 10/17, then turned 90 on 10/18.  Until three years ago, Cal was driving daily and well engaged in his career of tailoring.  He loved what he did and influenced generations of people, from his customers across the Triangle and region, to the tailors that he multiplied through his mentorship, passing on of entrepreneurial skills, and practical resources of sewing machines and other equipment shared.  May we all take note of his concrete example of converting passion into purposeful impact!

Yesterday’s services at his life-long church, North East Baptist Church, were uplifting. The outpouring of support from friends and family, including my Union Baptist Church family, were the best balm for an otherwise sad occasion.  My stepbrothers Daryl, Rick, and Gary, did an excellent job in sharing humorous stories about Cal, and Rev. Estella Feaster lifted our spirits as she reminded us of the importance of trusting God, even through the circumstances of grief.

So thanks in advance for all of the ways that you have already supported me and my family this week. I hope you are ready to party!! And if you can’t make it, please visit Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Blossoming-Hope-Christian-Womans-Wellness/dp/0999389416/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511023349&sr=8-1&keywords=blossoming+hope) and stay tuned for more information about upcoming events.

 

À Votre Santé (“To Your Health”)

“Dr. T”

Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.

 

 

 

 

 

“Hope is a Song in a Weary Throat”

butterfly-2869795_1280These words were penned by Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray. Raised in Durham, her many accomplishments included serving as an attorney whose significantly contributed to the success of Brown v. Board of Education and becoming the first Black woman ordained as an Episcopal priest.  Surely her life displayed a song that persisted in spite of the odds.  So why is hope so important? I’m glad you asked! Although intangible, hope is an essential component of wellness. Hope, or an expectation of good to come, is what allows us to get up morning after morning and continue to put one foot in front of the other,
even when we don’t feel like it or when circumstances seem bleak. Hope is the opposite of hopelessness, which is the despair that is one of the hallmark symptoms of depression. Hopelessness is what makes us want to give in, throw in the towel, and go home. Under a
hopeless outlook, life is too hard, has dealt us too many blows, and is only getting worse, not better. Psychological research has repeatedly demonstrated through clinical and community studies that hope, a concept that has most robustly emerged out of the positive psychology movement, is associated with positive outcomes such as life satisfaction, optimism, gratitude, and lowered levels of psychological distress (e.g., Weis & Speridakos, 2011).

However, well before the field of psychology was born in a laboratory in Leipzig, Germany in 1879, there was ancient wisdom regarding the importance of hope, and perhaps more importantly, the originator of hope: The Psalmist David declared “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him” (Psalm 62:5). God promises
back to the faithful, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares
the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give
you hope and a future” ( Jeremiah 29:11). And even when our hope
waxes thin, we must remember:

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for,
and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their
power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to
God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run
and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired.
(Isaiah 40:31, Amplified Version)

Thus, multiple sources of wisdom agree to the significance of hope for fulfilling the purposes of our lives. As Christians, we know that our God is the source of our hope: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Thus, our hope is rooted in God, and is blossoming as we pursue wellness in mind, spirit, body, and soul.

Want to learn more about translating the concept of hope into lived wellness? Well, hang on tight.  My book/album launch is just 8 days away!  Register at blossominghope.eventbrite.com to get a special discounted rate on your signed copy of Blossoming Hope: The Black Christian Woman’s Guide to Mental Health and Wellness.  Can’t make it to the party? Keep your eyes open for updates on purchasing your copy through Amazon and Kindle!

À Votre Santé (“To your health”),

“Dr. T”

Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.

#blossominghope”

#drtonyaarmstrong

 

 

Blossoming Hope Book/Album Launch Party Set for Saturday, November 18th!

BlossomCover (1)Greetings!  You are cordially invited to attend the Blossoming Hope Book/Album Launch Party on Saturday, November 18th from 3-5 pm at The Armstrong Center for Hope, located at 5315 Highgate Dr., Suite 102 in Durham.  Register for the party at blossominghope.eventbrite.com.  Your $20 ticket gives you admission to the party, readings from the book, live performances from the album, a signed copy of the book and your choice of the album dropcard or a CD.  Sign up today and I’ll see you there!

 

À Votre Santé (“To Your Health”)

“Dr. T”

 

Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.

“Angry Black Woman”–Does the Shoe Fit?

KintsugiLast evening, I enjoyed a very stimulating discussion with my sisters at the Black Women in Business (www.bwib-nc.com) meeting held at Cisco. Although we’ve had very important conversations about such topics as formulating financial strategies, becoming an effective board member, and marketing your brand, we talked about a red-hot topic at this meeting: “Angry Black Women.” A series of panelists, primarily from corporate America, relayed their stories of how they’ve spoken up and still moved up in spite of lingering stereotypes around “angry black women.” Women shared how they have survived, even thrived, using strategies such as:

  • Learning how to communicate more effectively with male co-workers by developing collegial relationships and better understanding their perspectives
  • Speaking up on controversial issues when it really matters
  • Viewing perceptions of “angry black woman” as being in the eye of the beholder

On the latter point, there was significant agreement that we are often misunderstood by our colleagues.  We can be described as being overly emotional or unreasonable. “Passion,” “enthusiasm,” and “assertiveness,” qualities that are often lauded when displayed by Whites and men, are often mischaracterized as “anger” and “aggression” when exhibited by Black women.  (Ask Michelle Obama.)

However, the reality is that sometimes, we ARE angry black women, and rightly so!  Anger is an emotion that results from being hurt and/or losing something very important to you. How often have Black women been abused, treated unfairly, or simply overlooked despite our brilliance? Historically speaking, how often have we lost our children, our families, our freedom, and our rights? But lest we be accused of being mired in the past, how often have we lost access to important information, opportunities for promotions and other forms of advancement, and equal pay, all just last week? Although we may work in vastly different environments, there are many legitimate reasons for our anger in various workplaces.

Nevertheless, our Christian culture reminds us to be angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26). Easier said than done given some of our situations.  Still, suppressed anger is a key ingredient in a recipe for a host of psychological and physiological ills. So both morally and practically, we must manage our anger wisely.  Here’s the wisdom that emerged from the group:

  • Remain connected to mentors who can help you discern the degree to which your anger is justified
  • Send yourself a voicemail or e-mail at the height of your anger, then listen later to monitor your reaction when you’re calmer
  • Establish and maintain friendships that provide support and encouragement, especially when times get hard
  • Seek the guidance of a therapist, coach, or clergy member
  • Just as the Japanese repair broken pottery with gold filling (the art of kintsugi), appreciate your scars for the lessons they provide to create a stronger future

In your angry moments, may you grow in your discernment of when to hold your peace until later, and when to speak up for the sake of justice and righteousness.

 

À Votre Santé (“To Your Health”),

“Dr. T”

Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.

My Special Announcement on the 25th Anniversary of World Mental Health Day!

WMHD WORKPLACE

 

Today is an exciting day!  As you may have seen from my last blog post, I will be making a special announcement today, October 10th, from 3:00 to 3:00 EDT. Tune in to the Facebook Live broadcast at facebook.com/drtonyaarmstrong to participate in this extraordinary reveal!

Today’s conversation will also include commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of World Mental Health Day, which was founded by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH). This organization, begun in 1948, recognizes the importance of educating the public about mental health and advocating for effective treatments.  This year, their theme is “Mental Health in the Workplace.”  A few statistics from their 2017 report demonstrate just how needed this focus is.  Fifty percent of persons with depression are untreated, suggesting that the symptoms and resulting effects of depressive symptoms inevitably affect the workplace in a significant way. For example, someone experiencing depressive episodes will miss 36 workdays per episode.  And when a worker is experiencing a depressive episode, 94% of the time that worker is struggling with the cognitive symptoms of depression, including difficulties with concentration, memory, and decision making.  Despite these major barriers to work productivity, only 10% of the working population has taken time off for depression.  Thus, it’s important to equip business managers with resources to support the development of a healthy workplace that acknowledges mental health concerns and allows for employees to receive effective treatments so that they may return to robust functioning on the job.

The WFMH offers guidelines for creating and maintaining a mental-health friendly workplace.  Consider the following characteristics:

  • Protects the confidentiality of employee health information
  • Educates managers and supervisors on mental health issues, including signs of distress that may suggest the need for referral and evaluation
  • Includes health care that responds and treats mental illnesses with the same urgency as physical illnesses
  • Supports employees who require flexibility to pursue treatment, including hospitalization, leave, and gradual re-entry into the workplace
  • Provides programs and practices that support health, wellness, and work-life balance

We often think of such guidelines as being the responsibility of managers, yet they also involve every member of the work organization.  For example, at The Armstrong Center for Hope (www.armstrongcfh.com), we have developed a Wellness Rewards Program that allows staff members to opt into a self-monitoring program that tracks their participation in wellness activities such as fitness, nutritious eating, hydration, quality sleep, and spiritual practices. This arrangement allows for gentle group accountability, shared wisdom around managing barriers to wellness, a healthy dose of competition, and prizes along the way.

No matter what part of the office organizational chart you occupy, think creatively about ways that you can support and embody a mental health-friendly workplace. Let’s generate some ideas this afternoon. I look forward to your participation, questions, and comments during today’s Facebook Live conversation today from 3:00-3:30 pm!

 

À Votre Santé (“To Your Health”),

“Dr. T”

Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.

Exciting Announcement this Tuesday!

Dear Friends,

     Join me on Tuesday, October 10th from 3:00-3:30 pm EDT for a

***SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT***!rose-765487_1920

I have been working on the biggest project of my life and would like to share some great news with you! Also, it’s World Mental Health Day and we’ll have a discussion about this year’s topic, “Mental Health in the Workplace,” so have your questions ready.  I’ll be on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/drtonyadarmstrong/!  See you Tuesday!

 

À Votre Santé (“To Your Health”),

“Dr. T”

Dr. Tonya D. Armstrong