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Nurturing Heart Health Beyond American Heart Month and Black History Month



SOULjourners,


Beyond American Heart Month and Black History Month, lies a continuous call to embrace rhythmic, soulful care every day of the year to help us light a flame to nurture our hearts as we amplify our peace + play (guilt-free).


This ongoing invitation urges us to prioritize the wellbeing of our hearts, both figuratively and literally, whether we're approaching perimenopause or have moved beyond it into our post-menopausal years.


Heart health becomes increasingly vital as we move towards perimenopause, as hormonal changes during this stage of life can impact cardiovascular health.


Although menopause does not cause heart disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), there are particular risk factors that increase around the time of menopause.


Due to a wide range of factors, including genetics, lifestyle and socioeconomic status, being a woman of color in the U.S. also correlates with increased risk or severity of heart diseases.


I have come to appreciate the profound truth encapsulated in Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." This verse speaks to the centrality of the heart in our lives, both physically + spiritually, and serves as a potent reminder of the importance of nurturing and tending to our hearts as we navigate the various seasons of our lives.

As we journey through all the transition of menopause, it is crucial to acknowledge that each wombman's experience is deeply personal and unique.


We must approach this transition with sensitivity, recognizing that each wombman's journey is shaped by all aspects of an individual's background, including their circumstances, lifestyle and socioeconomic status, genetic profile, cultural context, and personal beliefs.


As a post-menopausal pastor, I feel compelled to address the heart of the matter through stationery when it comes to the fascinating, flourishing cyclical nature + nurture of the female body.


During my tenure years ago as a pastoral care staff member in Florida, I dedicated myself to fearlessly discussing "taboo" topics with a cross-generational approach—an ethos I carry with me to this day to make sure wombmen no matter their neurology, stage, or age in life are seen, heard, and believed.


Since departing from traditional pastoral care, my fervor for inclusive, communal ARTvocacy that amplifies peace + play has only grown deeper, and has intensified as evidenced by the new MenoGarden stationery collection. In this post, I'm featuring the MenoGarden Affirmation Candle Gift Set.


I want to address that for some, while perimenopause and menopause may seem distant, let us not underestimate the importance of preparation. Waiting until you have symptoms means that you’re going to have to work even harder to turn things around. Instead, I encourage you to be preventative and support your body before you have symptoms. 


The Affirmation Candle Gift Set serves as a MenoGarden reminder that speaks to our hearts.



At the core of heart health ARTvocacy is the understanding that our hearts are not only physical organs that keep us alive but also the spiritual + emotional centers of our beings. They are the source of our passions, desires, and emotions, and they shape our course, personally + collectively.


The NLT translation provides a fresh perspective on Proverbs 4:23, emphasizing the significant role that our hearts play in determining our life paths and underscoring the need to protect + nurture them throughout our journey:


"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."


This "guarding" is what I'm calling MenoGardening, which promotes MenoEquity.


Pause for Reflection


MenoEquity occurs when every wombman has unobstructed access to reach their full, wellness + wholeness (peace, shalom) potential.


Let's take a moment to reflect on our hearts:


  • How are you prioritizing the health of your physical heart through nutrition, support system, rest, recreation, body movement, etc.?


  • How are you nurturing your emotional + spiritual heart by managing stress, practicing self-compassion, and cultivating meaningful connections with others?


  • What or who has recently tended to your heart, emotionally, spiritually, physically?


  • Are you experiencing heartache? If so, do you have a safe place to move through the grief? Grief requires space + movement.


  • Are you aware of the current, physical status of your heart?


Heart Disease and Black Wombmen


Delving deeper into the interconnectedness of heart health and emotional wellbeing, particularly within the context of Black wombmen's experiences, while it may seem stark, the sobering reality is that heart disease stands as the primary cause of death for wombmen in the United States, claiming nearly one in every five female lives.


Pause and check in on your heart. Be soft with yourself.


Black wombmen face significant health disparities and systemic inequities that contribute to a higher prevalence of heart disease and cardiovascular illnesses. This disparity is often overlooked, and there is a crucial need to raise awareness and go to the root causes of these issues.


Pause and check in on your heart. Be soft with yourself.


The disparities in health outcomes experienced by Black wombmen cannot be reduced to a mere matter of individual responsibility but is also a summoning to our collective responsibility. We are our sister's keeper.


Pause and check in on your heart. Be soft with yourself.


Throughout the month of February, we'll explore interventions that promote heart health and emotional wellbeing for Black wombmen.


Didya know...


Cardiovascular diseases kill approximately 50,000 Black women in the U.S. each year. Of these women aged 20 years and older, almost half have heart diseases.


Consider some of these notable, historical Black wombmen who have passed away from heart disease or cardiovascular illness:


Lena Horne - heart failure


Mabel King - diabetes + heart disease


Hattie McDaniel - breast cancer + heart failure


Coretta Scott King - ovarian cancer + heart disease


Fannie Lou Hamer -  heart disease + breast cancer


Maya Angelou - heart failure


Dorothy Height - heart failure


Rosa Parks - other causes, including heart disease


Shirley Chisholm - stroke + heart disease


Barbara Jordan - pneumonia + leukemia, exacerbated by heart disease


Natalie Cole - congestive heart failure


Althea Gibson - respiratory failure complicated by heart disease


These remarkable wombmen made significant contributions to their respective fields and left a lasting legacy, despite facing health challenges related to heart disease or related illnesses.


Their experiences underscore the importance of early detection and proactive care in managing our heart health.


The decline in estrogen levels as we go through menopause transition can make us more susceptible to a build-up of cholesterol in our arteries, which is the key contributor to coronary heart disease.


By prioritizing regular check-ups, screenings, and adopting heart-healthy lifestyles, we can mitigate the risks associated with heart disease and improve our overall wellbeing, ensuring a legacy of vitality for generations to come.


A Checklist for Preventative Heart Health - (Download + Print)


The American Heart Association recommends the following tests and lab work for wombmen as part of preventive heart health measures:



Heartache


Heart health is not merely a matter of physical wellbeing but encompasses the anguish, grief, and stress that accompany the burden of illness, loss, and societal injustices.


Heartache extends beyond individual experiences to encompass the collective pain of grappling with systemic inequities.


Recognizing and addressing this heartache requires compassion, support, and holistic approaches that prioritize emotional and spiritual health alongside physical wellbeing. By acknowledging and addressing the emotional dimensions of heart disease, we can amplify healing, vitality, and peace for Black wombmen facing these challenges.


Amidst the complexities of life, there's a soul care call in being of service to others: "It is grace to give to ourselves, as much as we give of ourselves." We are called to "love ourselves as we love our neighbor"—we must recognize the interconnectedness of our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing with our heart health.


As we seek to honor the divine "image-bearing" essence within each of us, it is essential to ARTvocate for an inclusive, integrative approach that does not ignore or downplay our feminine health, regardless of our culture and ethnicity.


We have the opportunity to reimagine and create a more merciful, just, and equitable society. I'm seeing the tides change in the last ten years. However, it's imperative that we promote the importance of a cross-generational movement in our soulful transitions.


By bridging generational divides and harnessing the wisdom and strengths of wombmen of all ages, we can ignite wombmen to navigate their unique journeys with greater discernment, confidence, support, and understanding.


Ultimately, embracing a cross-generational approach in our collective MenoGarden efforts ensures that no one is left behind and that the unique experiences, insights, and perspectives of all are valued.


Eight Things To Help You Tend To Heartache


  1. Color + Journal By Candlelight: Engaging in creative activities such as coloring and journaling while praying or meditating by the soft glow of candlelight can serve as an outlet for expressing emotions, promote relaxation, and enhance cognitive function, all while fostering comfort+ enhance cognitive function.

  2. Blowing Bubbles: This simple activity can provide a sense of play, wonder, allowing for a brief respite from heartache. Play promotes emotional regulation by providing a safe space to explore and express emotions when trauma is present, which can lead to emotional dysregulation and difficulty managing feelings.

  3. Music Therapy: Listening to or creating music can help regulate emotions, reduce stress, and provide comfort.

  4. Art Therapy: Engaging in artistic activities can provide a means of moving through your grief, promote emotional release, and enhance healing.

  5. Dance + Movement Therapy: Movement-based therapies can help improve emotional regulation, and reducing cortisol levels.

  6. Pet Therapy: Interacting with animals can provide comfort, support, and joy, helping to alleviate feelings of heartache.

  7. Professional Therapy: Seeking the guidance and support of a mental health professional can provide a safe space to explore emotions and develop healing strategies.

  8. Friendships: Friendships can promote empathy, reduce feelings of isolation, and facilitate healing through shared understanding + connection.


Neurodivergence + Heart Health


When it comes to heart health, neurodivergent wombmen including those that need support for autism, ADHD, mood disorders, or other cognitive differences may have difficulty recognizing and expressing symptoms of heart conditions, which can lead to delayed diagnosis + treatment.


It is crucial to ensure that there's access to inclusive and patient-centered care that takes into account the various unique needs and communication preferences.


By embracing neurodiversity in heart health, we can help to reduce health disparities and improve outcomes for all wombmen.


An inclusive approach ensures that all wombmen, regardless of their cognitive differences, can experience sanctuary and achieve optimal heart health and overall wellbeing.


 

Dedicated to Your Soul Care


As always, you are worthy of stunning soul care, and I'm devoted to pastoring you through stationery + gifts that are not only functional and eco-friendly but also deeply nourishing.


Shop the The 'Soulful Transitions' MenoGarden Candle Gift Set.



Until next time,


Scribble. Speak. From your soul.


 

Discover the 'Soulful Transitions: MenoGarden Musings' collection and much more in the soul care boutique + be inspired to amplify your ARTvocacy through peace + play vibes!


Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only as I share my pastoral care, my personal journey, and bring to you valuable research, it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing any medical concerns or symptoms, please seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional.


 

  1. The CDC reports that over 60 million American women (age 20 and older) have some form of cardiovascular disease (heart disease, stroke, or high blood pressure) (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus18.pdf#015).

  2. The CDC also reports that over 310,661 women died from heart disease in the United States in 2021 (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/cause-of-death.htm#gender_deaths), highlighting the significant impact that heart disease has on women's health.

  3. "The Intersection of Race, Gender, and Heart Disease: Understanding the Unique Challenges Faced by Black Women" - Journal of the National Medical Association (2021)

  4. "Racial and Gender Disparities in Heart Disease: A Focus on Black Women" - American Heart Association (2022)

  5. "Addressing Heart Disease in Black Women: A Call for Culturally Competent and Equitable Care" - Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing (2020)

  6. "Heart Disease in Black Women: A Review of Risk Factors, Prevention, and Management" - Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases (2019)

  7. "The Burden of Heart Disease Among Black Women: A Public Health Perspective" - Public Health Reports (2018)


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