Intro: Pounding bass note and a stirring fanfare of horns. Welcome to another edition of Things to Think about. Here's Stacy. The horns continue with a keyboard note held.
Stacy Casson 0:00
Welcome everyone to the Things to Think about Podcast. I am Stacy Casson, aka The Clarity Concierge, your host and today I am so excited to introduce my guest. We have joining with us, Alisah C. Gray and there's a bunch of alphabets after her name, mph MS, PA-S aka The Loc'd Ladybug. Ms. Gray [Alisha says "Yay!"] is an is an epidemiologist. I got to get through all this amazing thing and [Alisha says "I got it"] global health clinician. She's an active member of the National Society of the Black Physician Assistants, and the Physician Assistants of Color Incorporated. She is the recipient of the National Health Service Corps Scholarship and is working towards attending, attaining both a second Master's degree as well as her Physician Assistant Certification at Rutgers University School of Health Professionals. This woman is the bomb diggity. She has functioned as a global health program manager, public health practitioner, researcher, health data analyst, EMT/Paramedic, clinical research associate laboratory technician, patient care and autopsy technician. She's written grants for the Childbirth Survival International, which serves as quality health services and information for women and children, largely in Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Rwanda. And she's also worked to advance influenza emergency response in Mexico, Panama, Chile, El Salvador, and mitigate childhood catastrophic disease burgen burdens globally by generating and leveraging epidemiological [whoops I tried y'all] data and facilitating collaborations, initiatives alongside healthcare providers, in-country Ministries of Health, St. Jude's [Children's] Research Hospital, global health partners from the Pan American Health Office and the World Health Organization in Peru, Uzbekistan, Zambia, Mozambique, and helped to reduce the incidence of guinea worm disease in South Sudan by providing clinical care and designing health communication strategies aimed to eradicate the disease. A&M is the rattlers? [Alisha says "Yeah baby!"] She is a proud Rattler from Florida graduated from Florida A&M University, and Drexel University School of Public Health. Definitely an extremely passionate and energetic traveler dancer, clinician and global health advocate, lifetime learner and servant leader especially dedicated to vulnerable stigmatized, marginalized populations. She has a zeal for being a conduit for more Black and Brown presence in medicine, public health and clinical health research. And doing all this Miss Alisha aka The Loc'd Ladybuy(TM), Black America's Patient Advocate, started her own patient and health advocacy business specifically to aid melanated individuals in navigating a healthcare system that has been historically abusive and or dismissive. And I am one of her proud clients. So check her out. She prides herself on living out "relaxed swag" in every aspect of her life, and thoroughly enjoys empowering other melanated humans to live their truth unapologetically, and y'all can't see her but she is a fashion icon. She is gorgeous. She is giving me life with her do [Alisha says "Awww"] and her statement of personal intent is I empower melanated patients/caregivers to navigate the healthcare system and shift the power dynamic ...in short - yo life ain't nuttin to play wit so I'm determined to keep helping us save us. Oh my goodness. Welcome Alisha, to this podcast.
Alisha C. Gray 4:00
Yay. Thank you so much, Queen Stacy!
My Clarity Concierge Extraordinaire. Hi!
Stacy Casson 4:08
Well, It's a pleasure to have you [Alisha: so good to be here.] Oh, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Today Alisha and I are going to be digging into how to actively listen when your body speaks. And as we do on this podcast when we have guests, we are going to tell a story and we are using tarot cards because that's my jam. No Pokeman today we are we're gonna use the black Tarot by Nyesha Williams and the illustrations are by Kimishka Naidoo and our first card is a seven of knives and we see a young man and he is preparing for a fight and is surrounded by spears. So what comes to mind for you how are we starting out our story?
Alisha C. Gray 4:59
Um, I see a young man who seems outer out outer body very very very in shape and healthy. But he's kind of have has the stance of being on guard and just ready for whatever's coming his way. Especially since most of these spears on the card and in reality really, are kind of surrounding him. So yeah, I'm just picturing a young ready for a fight. Because he knows that it's coming and it's kind of already around him. Young man. Um, yeah.
Stacy Casson 5:55
I'm going to tap in a little bit to your history of fighting for our community. And I think he is fighting for his parents, his family, his ancestors who have been wronged by a system. I because I'm I'm in corporate spaces. I also think of the battle that we face every day in corporate America. So should we give him a name?
Alisha C. Gray 6:19
Um, yeah, I like Ty.
Stacy Casson 6:25
Okay. [Alisha: Yeah.] Ty, is preparing to battle uhm and what is he up against? When we're talking about listening to our body?
Alisha C. Gray 6:38
He's up against the message that he should be strong. [Stacy: Okay.] He's up against the the urge to feel like he needs to rest when his body is literally telling him to chill. He's fighting the urge to keep that mask on. And that masks exists everywhere. Like he's fighting that he's fighting back. The huh - I have to be everything for everyone. And I don't have anything left for me.
Stacy Casson 7:27
Exactly. And I also feel that when we're talking about fighting, there's being especially when you're the global majority and being othered and min.. being made to feel like something else. There's that fight or flight reflex that we're also coming up against and I don't know if you want to share a little bit of what that actually does to the body.
Alisha C. Gray 7:54
So, yeah, fight or flight is basically when you have adrenaline or epinephrine as it's called coursing through your body and one aspect of your brain is literally telling you to to fight because you can't really get out of the situation. So the surge of adrenaline comes. The the heart kind of starts beating a lot faster. The blood goes to your you know your arms and your legs. So that just in case you have to, you know, be ready, you can fight. That that in that moment, or or flight or run. So, so in that moment, it's perfectly natural to have all of those things occur in your body. But it is not natural for those for adrenaline for cortisol for all of these hormones to be at their height for an extended period of time and that's what stress, holding back, holding back, holding in everything does to your body over a long period of time. It has these hormones that are continuing to be at a high level when they shouldn't be. There should be a calm down there should be a chill time. And after an exposed period, a long period of time of being exposed to hormones that really should have been, you know, levelled out, chilled out a little bit. This is just for a shorter period of time. After some time it really does wreak havoc on you know, the way our heart beats the way our the way we carry our weight, cortisol and weight gain that's that's a big thing. How we handle our glucose; a lot of people in our community suffer from diabetes or pre-diabetes it's very very very linked so stress has a lot to do with it and holding things in have a whole lot to do with that as well.
Stacy Casson 10:20
Okay, so young Ty is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulder. He is defensive and probably because he's been burned before. Systems tend to produce these kinds of outcomes. So we're gonna go to the next card, and this is the two of coins. And when I look at this, I get like the idea of a flashback, like a slightly younger Ty, looking back to his earlier days, so it looks like he's a soccer player. And he's in the picture he's kicking around some cowrie shells. But when I think of two it's a decision, it's juggling back and forth. So what comes to mind for you in the story of young Ty? [Alisha - I feel like this is] the challenges.
Alisha C. Gray 11:10
Yeah, it's it's him trying to decide how he wants to move through this world. I feel like there's something that I want to be in the shell that's a little bit further up toward the net. And what Ty is being told he should be which is the shell that he's, it seems like he's kicking. So good for young Ty that he's kicking it.
Stacy Casson 11:48
We're often told to roll with the punches, Alisha, and I think that is diametrically opposed to this idea of rest and we're kind of talking about how to actively listen when your body is speaking. So what are some of the challenges that you think people face or that maybe your clients have faced, because a lot of times like if you have a cold what should you do? is rest, but you're not sick enough to rest and we push through and it just takes longer to get over that for example. So what are some of the challenges you think that your clients face and how does that kind of relate to some of the challenges that Ty is facing to be strong? Be a man and achieve my goal, yet I agree we need to rest so what do you think about that?
Alisha C. Gray 12:40
I think the challenge in lies in what you really believe versus what you were told. And I think at some point, there has to be a disconnect for a lot a lot more people and I think with with my clients I feel like they're always at they seem to always be at this this precipice just like a young Ty is, right? Like, I'm kind of ready to pick the idea that I should just push past. I'm ready to kick that idea. I just don't know how and I don't know what it looks like. I know that how I've been doing it. ignoring my body, ignoring when it's time for me to rest, and literally waiting until my body makes me rest is not how I want to do things but at least I know what that looks like I'm familiar with that. I'm not familiar with I can still have all the good things of this life with rest. So I feel like that is the that's at the crux of both the card and my clients. Um listening to okay, I hear or I feel like my mouth is dry. Just something as simple as my mouth is dry. And I tell my clients that is such a surprise to them. But by the time your mouth is dry, it is too late your body has is already yelling at you that it needs water. Your body shouldn't be yelling at you that it needs water. So by the time your mouth is dry, you you you should have been drinking the water from beforehand. Right so you should have never been able been made to feel your mouth dry. You getting headaches, you should never been made to feel that way because you should have already been drinking the water. Same thing with rest. You should not wait until your body is literally screaming out [chuckles] before you give it what it needs which is rest. Um I think a lot of times the the hustle the hustle culture is is so strong especially in our communities. But I'm happy to to see that people and young Ty kind of waking up to okay, I know what I was told, but I don't necessarily have to guide my life in that way. Because I can see that it's killing me or it's killing people like me every day. So I want to step back and I want to have something to drink. Have an eight hour, ten hour nap if necessary. Right I want to lay out on on the beach and just look up at the sky. I want to play and I will do that because no human being can pour from an empty cup.
Stacy Casson 16:02
They make it really not they but there are things surrounding us that make it really hard to think we have that choice and that option that need to always push through and it starts from such a young age. [Alisha: It does.] I had one of my children lost some information they had been working on for a long time. And they were really upset, but I think the other thing is that we're afraid to feel our emotions because there is kind of a sense of being out of control. And I saw this really and I don't remember the author [Courtesy of 5hahem, Shahem Mclaurin] I saw that it's but it's not my idea. It's really cool Instagram post about the idea of regulating your emotions versus controlling your emotions. So regulating your body would be giving your body the things it needs versus controlling it which is like look, I can't deal with you right now. You need to take a step back and it's about prioritizing and sitting with why am I not a priority?
Alisha C. Gray 17:11
Right? Yeah, absolutely.
Stacy Casson 17:15
We're gonna go to the next one, which is the Chariot. And she is, she is gorgeous. So this is a powerful woman with with the cape slash sash. And she's surrounded by the cycles of the moon. And the chariot in general in the world of tarot is kind of like, where are we going? And are you? Are you the one guiding where this, where this chariot is going or are you just being taken along for a ride? And in this particular case, this one was reversed so that's, that's kind of like a challenge, right in doing the things like in taking control of your destiny. A. now you're trying you're holding yourself accountable for you. Instead of you know, and yes, there are absolutely systems out there. But a lot, I can I can only speak for myself. A lot of my wounds are self inflicted. Nobody is holding a gun to my head saying work through all this time and I've gotten so much better but old me like I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for five years because I could eat it with one hand and type with the other hand. Yes, I'm in Workaholic's Anonymous (bursts into giggles). Okay, but nobody told me to do that. That was me and I wasn't getting any further ahead because I wasn't resting. So what what comes to mind when you look at this, you know, obviously we need to take the solution is to take control of our destiny and hold ourselves accountable to ourselves, which is still a challenge, but what comes to mind for you and what have you seen help to overcome those, those blocks or those challenges?
Alisha C. Gray 19:03
So when I looked at this card, I literally was like, Okay, are you driving the bus or is your health care provider, that literally is telling you what to do, driving the bus and making you feel like you don't know what it's like to live in your own body. That's basically what I saw when I saw this. I was like what's what's it going to be? You're gonna keep continue rockin this way or that way. And I feel like that's always a challenge because we, people in our community especially have this beautiful way of knowing what we know and being very confident in it. But somewhere along the way, it we put it aside when we think that someone around us knows a little bit more. Like we we dishonor ourselves even in some small way in order to honor or give props to someone else. And a lot of times that someone else isn't even part of our community, but, um, I think we need to do a better job of of honoring us. You you you know what you feel when you feel it and even if you can't put it in the beautiful met medical terminology way. You know what you feel when you feel it. You know pain versus discomfort. You know, when something is just not right, you know when something feels different and to convince yourself or allow anyone to convince themselves of anything otherwise is just not, it's not the best way to move about this world at all. And I feel like this Chariot card is like I've made my decision. I'm gonna move how I want to move so I think for my for my clients, and especially my patients, it's how I can do that is for my patients. They're there. They're very much like how I can do this is ask questions that I didn't feel like I could ask anyone else. Because I've spent so much time trying to explain my point of view that has nothing to do with my actual health in this moment. Right. So you don't have to explain to someone within your culture, why you can't necessarily afford a medication or you're stretching said medication. You just you just exchange a look and then that individual can easily say to you, "Okay, how about how about a generic, something a little cheaper? What do you think about that? It does the same thing, but you don't you don't have to go bankrupt over it." Um, yeah, I really see this card as like a turning point like, Okay, I know exactly what I want to do for myself. And it goes beyond listening to what someone else tells me I feel, you know what I'm experiencing. It goes beyond that.
Stacy Casson 23:12
So I want to bring it a little bit of a magical element into our story. [Alisha: Okay.] So Ty is preparing himself physically. It looks like he had this dream to become like a great soccer player. And something hasn't felt right about himself. And he's decided like, maybe I need to go check it out. You know, but then like a trickster Goddess comes up, like the bad fairy god aunty and was like "are sure about that?" [Alisha: Love it.] Like because we gaslight ourselves, don't we? [Alisha: Yes]are we that bad. And it's it's Ty finding the resolve to say no, I'm worth it. You know, be gone with You trickster fairy godaunty [Alisha: Exactly] you are not here in my best interest or if it's even the medical industry. You know, being willing to say Look, you're not answering my questions. You're not taking me seriously. And I know you have advocated like, go talk to another doctor. Right? And in prioritizing yourself, or maybe it's time to update that resume and go find a different space that will allow you to do the things you need to do and I know that's a privilege for some people. They don't have that space, but if nothing else, I say everybody can always breathe. [Alisha: Yes] You can always breathe. [Alisha: Absolutely.] You know. And so finally we're looking at outcomes. So I love that Ty has made up his mind. Like I'm gonna do this. I'm gonna take care of me. And the last card is the ten of baskets. And we have a family around the table. I mean, I think I think Ty is reaching for a cup. And he's surrounded by by his sisters,his aunties, maybe his mom, and this is an abundant scene. What comes to mind for you?
Alisha C. Gray 25:05
community and support for Ty comes to mind. Definitely. Discussions that he needed to hear "Hey, mom, hey aunty, does this run in the family does that run in the family? What medications are we on what medications are you not on? What What? What do you struggle with? Is it high blood pressure? Is it hyperthyroidism?" The discussion that needs to be had so that we as a family, Ty is probably saying like okay, well, so that we as a family can support each other and hold one another accountable. And if something were to happen, we can easily step up and advocate for one another. That's what I see here, which I love.
Stacy Casson 26:02
Taking the power back. [Alisha: Yes] Yes. And yes. Sometimes we often try to go it alone. And when I look at just this as a whole, our hero started out all by himself, defensive and at the end, he leaned into the support of his family, maybe his community. "Hey, baby, we'll figure it out." You know, like, we'll come together as a community and so many times we often go it alone and especially our young men, they feel like they have to do everything alone. They have to be strong. And when we allow that community that sense of Ubuntu, I am because we are, that is such a huge turning point and difference and back again to the corporate spaces. It's like, "Hey, can you cover for me for a minute I really need to go do something else." Or maybe just having a discussion with your boss like look, I just need to go do this and having the right support systems and again if it's not, then we need to go somewhere else. So what comes to mind when you look at this whole story? I love this story for Ty [Alisha says I do to and we giggle together]
Alisha C. Gray 27:10
I love this whole story for him that it this is probably the story of like every patient I've ever come across which I really like a lot. I think it always becomes a journey especially for melanated people in this country dealing with the healthcare system or dealing with capitalism or dealing with corporate or anything that is related to something that basically was never built for us. I love how we find a way to persevere regardless and our story about Ty is perfect is a perfect like picture of that. He started out seriously defensive and and we got a picture into like how he ended up defensive you know with you know the two coins and trying to figure out you know, am I going to do or be what I'm told to be or am I going to make a decision as to who I want to be on my own. And then having the duality of choices like okay, how am I going to rock from here on with the Chariot and then how I'm gonna rock from here on is definitely going to be cradled in my community. My community is going to help me if I feel like I'm gonna fall if I do fall. That's plenty of cushion for me as as a young black male, like Ty, which I love. I love it. [Stacy: I love it.]
Stacy Casson 28:55
So what we're talking about our original question how to actively listen to your body. What I'm learning from Ty is step one, you have to make yourself a priority. Step two, with that decision, then you have to gain that forward momentum. And finally you have to take back your power and you don't have to do it alone you can do it with the support of the community. What comes to mind to you are your final thoughts when you look at this on a whole on how to actively listen when your body speaks
Alisha C. Gray 29:26
On the whole. I think you summed it up beautifully. And I do think on the whole if I had to just say one statement for no one to ever forget it would be do not wait. You know when when you get and when you receive a message from your body. A pain here or discomfort there if it happens often if it doesn't happen often. Don't wait. That that's critically important because a lot of times again, we we dismiss a lot. Don't do that. You matter. You matter what you feel matters and what you might think is eh something to just shrug away. A provider that will partner with you will easily say to you okay, that's not really something we should ignore. Let's look into that together. And then together we can figure out if this is something that we need to work up look into further. But nothing that you feel is unimportant. So don't wait until it's a medical emergency. Don't wait until your body gives out. Just Just don't wait. You matter.
Stacy Casson 31:03
That's really powerful. Thank you so much for joining us, Queen Alisha. You all I'm gonna put all of her information in the show notes. You can email her email@example.com. You can book an appointment with her to talk about your own medical issues. She is on LinkedIn and follow her on Eventbrite. She has some dope webinars. I don't know why she's been doing them way past my bedtime but they are a game changer. Seriously just take advantage of all of the goodness that she gives out. Because she's very much involved in our community. And I am Stacy Casson again The Clarity Concierge. You can find me on LinkedIn and I will also put on my LinkedIn goodness and all the goodies into our show notes. Alisha, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you
Alisha C. Gray 31:57
so much for having me. Yeah. Yay. Queen!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Closing: Closing jazzy keyboard and thrumming bass. I hope you enjoyed today's segment. Tell a friend. See you next time. Music fades. "
Alisha Gray, epidemiologist and public health practitioner, discusses her diverse career and global health initiatives.
Alisha, a passionate global health advocate, empowers melanated patients and caregivers to navigate the healthcare system and shift power dynamics.
Active listening and body language in a corporate setting. 4:00
Young man surrounded by spears prepares for fight, on guard.
Stacy Casson and Alisha Gray discuss the importance of listening to one's body and fighting against societal expectations of strength and resilience, particularly for marginalized communities.
Adrenaline and cortisol levels can wreak havoc on the body over time due to chronic stress.
Self-care and prioritizing well-being. 10:35
Stacy Casson and Alisha Gray discuss the idea of rest and its importance in achieving goals, with Alisha Gray sharing their clients' struggles with disconnecting between what they believe and what they've been told.
Alisha Gray highlights the challenge of making decisions and taking action, despite feeling ready to move forward and kick the idea of rest.
Alisha Gray acknowledges the importance of self-care, particularly rest and hydration, and encourages listeners to prioritize these needs before their bodies signal discomfort.
Alisha Gray recognizes the influence of hustle culture in their community but encourages young Thai people to question and challenge these norms for their own well-being.
Stacy Casson discusses the idea of regulating emotions versus controlling them, and how it's important to prioritize self-care and take responsibility for one's own emotional well-being.
Stacy Casson shares her personal experience of overcoming self-inflicted wounds through self-awareness and self-care, and how taking control of one's emotions can lead to personal growth and healing.
Self-advocacy and prioritizing healthcare needs. 18:31
Alisha Gray reflects on the importance of honoring one's own experiences and knowledge in the face of external influences.
Ty is determined to take control of his health and make decisions that prioritize his well-being, despite feeling like he's being held back by societal expectations and the medical industry.
Stacy Casson encourages Ty to prioritize himself and find a new space that will allow him to advocate for his needs, rather than settling for a system that doesn't take him seriously.
Active listening to body's messages. 24:35
Stacy Casson and Alisha Gray analyze the story of Ty, a young man who takes control of his health by leaning on his family and community for support.
They discuss the importance of community and support in helping individuals, especially young men, navigate their health journey.
Alisha Gray emphasizes the importance of not waiting to listen to your body's messages.
Don't wait to address medical concerns, prioritize your health and seek help when needed.