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Happy New Year!
We’re kicking off 2019 tackling a significant subject that is often misunderstood, overlooked, and untreated…emotional and mental wellness. We all desire to live our very best lives, and in some form or another, have made promises to ourselves to do just that. We are planning to excel spiritually, financially, and emotionally. We’re attending vision board parties, scheduling dream vacations, holding ourselves accountable by sharing our goals with loved ones, vowing to learn from past mistakes and on a mission to become the best version of ourselves. Planning is at an all time high which is absolutely wonderful!
But what happens when plans are delayed? When our goals just don’t seem to come to fruition, as they are descriptively listed on our beautifully crafted vision boards and planners? How do we handle the ups and downs of our lives, misfortune, and heartache? The answers vary greatly based on our individual circumstances, personalities, family history and outlook on life. Disappointment and sadness are natural feelings when things don’t go as planned, however, when sadness overcomes us for an extended amount of time leading to days, months, and years, we must take action, and seek help to maintain and/or regain our emotional and mental stability. There is NO time like the present to REALLY take care of ourselves and live the lives we deserve!
A few days ago I had the pleasure of visiting the windy city to interview one of my favorite people on the planet, my lovely, steadfast, and brilliant sister Zoie Lafita Squire. Zoie is the principle of Evelyn’s Arms, a counseling practice headquartered in Chicago, which specializes in life skills and work readiness for at risks children and their families.
Zoie’s spirit is warm to the 1000thpower, and her love for people is infectious. To know her, is to absolutely without a shadow of a doubt love her. Zoie and I met while attending undergrad at Norfolk State University, in Norfolk, VA, as Mass Communications majors. Zoie and my sisterhood has always been a special bond which has grown tremendously over the years because of our spirituality, love for people, and desire to see one another blossom. She simply makes me want to be better!
Speaking of blossoming, Zoie aka Dr. Zoe, as I call her is a Spring 2019, Doctoral Candidate. I am overjoyed for my sister Dr. Zoe, as she takes a leap of faith into her next chapter, which will consist of her growing her mom’s namesake, Evelyn’s Arms. Chaya, Bedder, and Zoie’s mom, Ms. Evelyn’s legacy will forever live on, through Zoie’s calling.
Everyone meet the principal of Evelyn’s Arms, my sister Zoie Latifa Squire, aka Dr. Zoe! Zoie shares her journey with us, emotional and mental health advice, inspiration, and motivation. We hope you enjoy!Happy New Year! Let’s make 2019 our best year yet!
1.When did you establish Evelyn’s Arms and how did the business concept derive?
I established Evelyn’s Arms about two years ago. The business concept derived from a time when I was recalling all of the many ways friends and family shared with me how my mother helped them in their time of need. My mother passed away over 22 years ago, and I still hear stories of her kindness, wisdom, and generosity. My mother was known for reaching out her arms to help those in need even when she herself was in need. She would give food, clothes, shelter, hugs, words of encouragement etc. to those in need. Nothing meant more to my mom than helping people when you had the ability to help them. My mother knew that her source was God and because of this she always had something to give others to lift their spirits and provide hope. My mother left a legacy to extend help to those in need, and that is what I thrive to do each and every day.
2. What counseling services do you specialize in?
My specialization is Human Behavior, Counseling, and Human Services. Once I complete the PhD program in March of 2019 I will go on to get my counseling license to offer individual and family counseling. While working in the inner city of Chicago with students with social, emotional, behavioral and mental disorders I discovered here were generational social, emotional, behavioral and mental disorders. It’s not enough to provide counseling for the student when they go home to tumultuous environments that combat what we’ve given them at school. The entire family needs healing! If the entire family is healed you have healed generations and perhaps have stopped the illness from overtaking generations to come. Evelyn’s Arms will also offer life skills and work readiness training for individuals and families.
3. Why do you think it’s imperative we seek some form of therapy when in need?
You never really know the effect trauma, grief or loss has had on you. It’s best you see a professional to make sure you are managing your emotions well. A therapist can discern things that you cannot, therefore, it’s imperative to seek help.
4. What advice would you offer someone who realizes they need help, however, are reluctant to reach out to a therapist due to the stigma that is sometimes associated?
This is a big issue, especially in the African American community. We are a prideful race because of what we’ve endured. Slavery taught us to keep quiet even when you’re in pain. Look strong even when you feel weak! It was how they survived!!!! When slaves were found to have a mental disorder they were considered useless and were killed so, they hid it as best they could. This mentality is still very present today because mental illness and depression are looked upon as a weakness; therefore people hide it because they want to be perceived as having it all together. No one has it all together!
We are all dealing with something. If you have severe allergies, you take medicine. If you break your leg, you go see a doctor, and they place a cast on it so it can heal. People must do the same when their mental and emotional state is off. See it like any other sickness that you would go seek out help from a doctor. Don’t allow yourself to be tormented in silence. Get help! You deserve to live a well-balanced life and there is therapy and medicine that can help you.
5. What advice would you offer a family member or friend who realizes their loved one needs help, however, is unwilling to see someone?
You have to be very patient and loving when dealing with mental illness. You can’t be forceful. What you see on the surface is only a fraction of what they are dealing with internally, so pray and ask God for guidance. I’ve witnessed students who refused to go to counseling but continuing to show them love eventually allowed them to see that someone cares, and they ended up going because they trust.
You have to be ready to endure long-suffering because it can be a very long journey to get someone to realize they need help. Just don’t give up on them! Also, don’t allow it to consume you either. Those who support and provide care for those with mental illnesses must also take care of themselves. Establishing a healthy balance is imperative!
6. As we all know, life can be challenging at times. How do we distinguish sadness vs. mental instability?
Sadness is only for a moment or a season, usually triggered by an unfortunate circumstance, disappointment, loss or grief. Mental instability is prolonged despair, dark, blanketed with depression, psychosis, withdrawal and mood swings.
7. What are three key signs of mental instability?
According to the American Psychiatric Association,a few of the major signs of mental instability are Withdrawal- loss of interests from activities previously enjoyed. Problems with concentration- memory or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain. Lastly, rapid or dramatic shifts in emotions or depressed feelings. For a list of other symptoms visit www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/warning-signs-of-mental-illness.
8. What three tips would you provide someone who has a hard time coping with life’s challenges?
9. What advice would you offer someone who wants to become a therapist?
I think it should first be a true passion and calling for you because although education and training are great, there is a great deal that should just flow naturally. There are just some things education and training can’t teach you! A god given gift and wisdom from God to discern people’s heartaches, mental and emotional challenges, is priceless! For me,discernment is imperative in this field because it doesn’t come from a degree or any training I’ve received.
I’ve had many encounters where only God’s wisdom allowed me to implement strategies to help the person. I’ve always been concerned about others emotions, their mental state and, I always cared about how people were treated. I’ve always been drawn to, and sensitive in spirit to those who have developmental delays and intellectual disabilities. So to anyone seeking out this field, it should be a natural flow for you. You absolutely have to have a heart for this field because when it becomes tough… and it will… the compassion and natural gifts you have for the field will sustain you.
10. What skills do you think an aspiring therapist should hone?
An aspiring therapist should be patient, loving, kind, discerning, understanding, spiritual and emotionally sound.
11. What is your favorite bible verse? Luke 1:38 And Mary said, “Behold, the Lord’s handmaid. May it happen to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
12. How would you like to see your company expand in the next 5 years?
I would like to see my company providing consulting services in specialized and individualized mental health curriculum for schools, group homes, residential facilities, and social service agencies in the inner cities of Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, Baltimore, Atlanta, NJ and, NY.
13. What is your WHY?
My why is fulfilling the life God intended for me to live out on the earth, and doing it with a spirit of LOVE!
A Mother’s Legacy of Love and Stewardship Lives On Through Her Daughter’s Calling, “Evenlyn’s Arms.”
*If you are in need of help or know someone who needs help, please reach out to someone. You are not alone. *
Signed with LOVE, Monique