“I draw you into my journey from the dynamics of an inner life strife with conflict and turmoil to the dynamics of an inner life of peace and contentment with myself and with God. Sometimes the words roar across the page like the sound of a mighty river; other times they flow like the sound of a babbling brook. Sometimes the words flow forward in time and sometimes backward. Hoping my words will touch your heart, I leave you with these words from a person who has influenced my life from afar, the late and great Maya Angelou: “The idea is to write so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” —Anita D Russell
When I got connected to Nanny and met her for the first time at the Greyhound bus station in Philadelphia, the first words she spoke to me seeped deeply into my soul and took root: You look just like your father. Getting to know Nanny and listening to her tell stories about you enabled me to get to know you, at least vicariously. It was then I learned that your nickname was Butch. I suppose I’ll never fully understand why you never contacted me, even before you left for good or after you knew I lived near Nanny. (I always knew when you were at that hotel.) But it’s okay; it was a long time ago, and I’m sure you had your reasons. An equally long time ago I wondered if there would come a day when I would forget all about you; that day never came. —Anita D Russell
SOAR Coaching Academy is participating in the John Maxwell Global Youth Initiative in April 2019
#GYIPittsburghApril 4 Weekends in 4 Communities
Every year in April and October, John Maxwell Team Members for all over the world participate in youth workshops and events. This year for 4 weekends in April, SOAR Coaching Academy will be in 4 communities in Pittsburgh PA!
Anita D Russell, Certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor
“On a mission to make Mental Health First Aid as common as CPR.”
During Mental Health Month 2018 I enrolled in the Adult Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training course offered through Steel Smiling. I had never heard of Mental Health First Aid; however, once I realized what it was all about, I understood its dire necessity. MFHA is also how I got introduced to Julius Boatwright, Founding CEO of Steel Smiling, and all-around amazing human being. So between the training and Julius, the trajectory of my life got a new bend. Flash forward to 2019 when I received an invitation to attend the training to become an MFHA Certified Instructor. So, here I am.
On a personal level, there are three key reasons why I decided to go down the path of becoming a Mental Health First Aid instructor and bringing this information into the community.
The negativity and the stigma associated with mental health and mental illness is pervasive across society and needs to change.
In certain communities, a somewhat checkered racial history has created an air of mistrust, preventing people from seeking help. (Think Tuskegee 626, Henrietta Lacks or Medical Apartheid.)
I’ve had first-hand personal experience being in a state of compromised mental health.
Click to Join My Facebook Virtual Book Release Party on Thursday April 4!
“One night, when she turned the key in the lock and opened the door, there he was, lying right across the stairs, blocking her ascension. He was drunk, speaking inaudibly, and most peculiarly, there was a shiny penny sticking out of one ear. She stopped breathing, stood motionless, and initially could not speak, her heart racing in her chest. She did not want to go past him alone in that hallway and she couldn’t leave because it was late and she needed to be in the house. So the words starting in her mind, finally reached her mouth and she screamed out, “Mommy, Mommy”, so her mother would know she was at the bottom of the stairs. Her mother opened the apartment door and came out into the hallway to see what was going on. Seeing Scary Tenant lying on the stairs, her mom told her to hurry and get up the stairs. As she bolted up the stairs, she prayed again—Please do not let him touch me.” —Anita D Russell
LIFE THROUGH A DIFFERENT LENS Moving back to my home city of Pittsburgh has been quite an adventure, especially from the standpoint of relaunching my business and television show. I am please to announce that The Place to SOAR TV is launching a new edition in my home city of Pittsburgh PA. The show is a part of the community television network, originally created at Princeton Community TV in New Jersey; hence the new name The Place to SOAR NJE (New Jersey Edition). I believe in the power of public access television and am proud to be a part of the community here in Pittsburgh.
Now I am so pleased to launch the show in Pittsburgh with Pittsburgh Community TV; hence The Place to SOAR GTE (Golden Triangle Edition). The first three episodes are an introduction to the show, a segment on community policing, and a segment on Liberating TAMAR, a nonprofit organization that strives to heal those who have been impacted by trauma.
FIRST PITTSBURGH GUESTS My first Pittsburgh guests are an entrepreneurial couple, Vicky and Michael, from North Versailles. They are working with Idea Foundry and Penn State University Greater Allegheny to launch a healthy soul food business. I met them serendipitously at an OMA Pittsburgh event, Food for the Soul. Food for the Soul is indeed what Vicky, a spiritual chef, provides for her customers. Production for a 3-part documentary begins on January 4 with a kickoff planning meeting. Three parts of one story – the personal, the business, and the collaborative, all in line with my motto: Do more to SOAR!
My new book “I Wanna See Laney’s House” is my sibling story. It’s also my first solo project as an independent writer. The story opens with tragedy at the family home on Linden Avenue in East Pittsburgh PA, where a dark night of the soul begins.
My first publication as an author was a collaborative project. Working with the curator, Erica Blocker was such a pleasure. Each co-author brings a vision of life through a unique lens creating a kaleidoscope of experiences for the reader. Their stories encourage moms to follow their dreams without feeling guilty.
In my chapter, Eden Spirit, I take the reader on a journey into the development of my identity as a woman, based more on spirituality than gender.
And, of course, there was Mr. Pie Man. Mr. Pie Man, deemed the Oldest Man in Homestead, owned a small store right on Dixon Street. Mr Pie Man just may have been the one to teach sailors how to cuss because it didn’t matter if he was talking to an adult or a kid, they would eventually get cussed out. He was also known for having an uncanny ability to throw bricks around the corner—though admittedly, Nita never actually saw this feat. Mr. Pie Man was also an avid baseball fan, often talking about the days of the Homestead Grays and the Negro Baseball League whenever the kids gathered on his stoop. He once said he knew Nita’s grandfather, who played a stint with the Homestead Grays. Another time he swore he struck out Satchel Paige. That was the especially nice side of Mr. Pieman, when he talked about things back in his day.” —Anita D Russell