Friday, February 3, 2023
Season 2, Episode 2:
In this episode, we are talking all about mental health and the radical healing necessary to make a positive impact in communities with special guest Lamarr Lewis, a mental health therapist and advocate.
Season 2, Episode 2: Radical Healing
Welcome to the Public Health Joy podcast, the safe space for real and honest conversation about what building a public health research career is really like: the challenges, the triumphs, and all the lessons we learn along the way.
I’m your host, Dr. Joyee, a Public health researcher, PhD survivor, and entrepreneur. In today’s episode, we are talking all about mental health and the radical healing necessary to make a positive impact in communities with special guest Lamarr Lewis, a mental health therapist and advocate.
This is where research meets relationship and together, we will find our Public Health Joy!
Lamarr Lewis, LAPC CPRP, is a mental health therapist, consultant, dedicated advocate, author, and agent of change. On this podcast episode, he explains the importance of rest and self-care for public health workers. We cannot serve the community members who need us most if we aren’t taking care of ourselves first. We also discuss mental health, coping mechanisms, joy, mentorship, and more!
To connect with Lamarr Lewis visit https://www.lewisfamilyconsulting.net/
Connect on linkedin: @LamarrLewis
If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate and, leave a review! For more information on building a public health research career, visit https://joyeewashington.com/students/
2:00 Lamarrr’s background
8:30 Passion and mentorship
10:30 Therapists need therapy
22:00 Work as a coping mechanism
31:00 Advocate for those who need it most
36:06 Joy in the work
37:50 Get connected
Joyee Washington 00:00
All right, we are going to go ahead and get started. Welcome to the public health Joy podcast. And today we have a wonderful guest, we have Lamarr Lewis, a mental health therapist, consultant, and advocate and also owner of Lewis family consulting. So today, we’re going to talk a lot about mental health, especially for people who work in public health. Because our mental health is important too especially if we’re going to be working with communities, it’s one of those things where I think about put the oxygen mask on yourself first, right? So we’re gonna get into it. But I want to talk a little bit about how I met you, well not met you, but I came across your information. Right? [laugh] So I was teaching, right? And anybody who’s been a teacher knows that it’s hard to come up with assignments, right? And I teach public health students. So I was like, Okay, I want to give them something that’s not hard for me to grade, but also something that’s going to be important that they can learn from, right. So I was like, what’s something that we can talk about? And I was like, mental health? Where can I get mental health so so I started searching and looking and I came across the public health regional training thing, I don’t remember exactly what it’s called. And they had your webinar on there. And so I kind of flipped through it. And I was listening to it, I was like, Oh, this is good. Like public health students need to know this information before they get into the field, to know how to take care of themselves. So that it was just, I was just like, the way that you frame the information and talked about it. And I was like, Oh, my students are gonna like this. So that’s just kind of how I came across your information. But now you can go ahead and introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Lamarr Lewis 01:49
Well, I mean, who could do much better than that? You know. [laugh] I mean, Lewis family consulting and me being the owner allowed me to also say that I am the lone employee [laugh]
Joyee Washington 02:03
solopreneur life, I feel you I’m over here, right here, with you.
Lamarr Lewis 02:07
you know, but it’s all good. You know, we start somewhere. Um, yeah, me, I’ve been working in human services over half my life. So I turned 40 this year. So I started working in the field when I was 19. And various capacities, you know, just community based activism, community based work and organizing, mentoring younger kids, and leadership, development, all that kind of stuff, to case management, you know, going into ERs and doing psychiatric assessments for people, I mean I can go down the list. And I’ve done a lot work, majority of my career dealing with youth and working in group homes and things like that kids with behavioral issues going into alternative schools, I mean, just the long gamut of stuff. So I think for me, I don’t separate mental health and public health, I think that, you know, it’s definitely all under the same umbrella, because I do community based work. And I realize that people’s mental health is a public health issue. And if we continue to separate our resources, then the people we serve when they connect with public health workers, it just, it just creates a divide that I’ve I’ve had to fight against as the advocate. So I’m glad that I’ve been able to connect with people like yourself and Region IV Public Health Training consortium and Mississippi Board of Public Health and all of that, who see the vision of okay, there is a correlation between the person’s health, wellness, health equity, access to care and their mental health. I’m just glad to be part of that movement to build bridges.
Joyee Washington 02:07
Yeah, you bring up an interesting point. And I think because I’ve been in public health for a while, I don’t separate public health and mental health. But to think that there are some people who do separate public health and mental health and don’t and don’t put it together and what that could mean for people who are making decisions, people who are involved in policy, people who are, you know, doing the things and they’re not understanding the connection between public health and mental health. And so I think that that’s, that’s an important point for people who are working in public health and especially for people who don’t specifically do mental health work. And it’s kind of one of those things where I know we talk about all the time, public health is in everything, right? All the things that we do, it doesn’t matter, any fields you think of there’s a public health angle to it. Well, the same could go for mental health, mental health is in everything. And so just kind of thinking about that idea of, of how do we understand how mental health is impacted by every facet of our lives, every dimension of our lives is so important, and I heard you mention that you started when you were 19. Like I can’t even imagine being 19 and started doing mental health work. I don’t even, I barely remember 19.
Lamarr Lewis 04:59
Yeah, I didn’t know what I was doing at the time looking back on it. Now with some experience, I guess this is a good time to kind of sync into how I got into the work at all. A big part of that. I was. So I grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and I’ve always been an athlete. So my freshman year of college, I went to Kentucky State University on a track scholarship. Long story short, my track coach got fired. I was attending a community college in my hometown of Dayton, Sinclair Community College, I’m taking classes because I didn’t do well, my first year, and my track coach got fired, I was kind of just like, stuck. Because they took my scholarship, it was just a whole big deal. So I stayed there that year. So I could figure out my next move. And I met my mentor, Dr. Boyd Tway who kind of grabbed me up when I was kind of trying to find myself. And he was, he’s been over 50 years maybe involved in a community based work where he’s from Liberia originally. So he does a lot of just African and African American Connections. And just, you know, he’s is a great dude just does a lot of amazing work over the course of his career. And one of the big things he’s done is, he’s mentored and guided a lot of young people, just a lot of young men like myself through this organization called the African American culture club. And that organization, we just were heavy in the community, doing a lot of good work. And a big part of it was leadership development, last rites of passage programs and stuff like that, for people younger than us. So I was 19 training kids who were like 14, 15. And these leadership principles that asked me I still live by today. And so that’s kind of how I got into it. So I didn’t know some of the stuff because he’s just, he’s a psychologist, one of the preeminent African American psychologists, African psychologist, and he was teaching us in different interventions that, you know, I would use now my clients with us that we apply to with young people. So I didn’t notice what we were doing. It wasn’t until I moved to Atlanta that I realized I could get paid for stuff I was doing for free and volunteering to do. That’s when it kind of was like, oh, people pay to work with kids, just like talk to them and keep them out of trouble, oh, man, it was. And that kind of started the more professional journey of it. But from 19 to 26, 27, I was just doing it for the love just trying to help my community. And then from there, I can say transition professionally more into the boots on the ground kind of stuff. And then that that took me into becoming a therapist, I worked at a place I was running a program that was dysfunctional by any stretch of the imagination. And I was trying to leave, but the way they were paying me I couldn’t make with just a bachelor’s degree, I had to go back to school. That’s the only reason why I went back. I didn’t look at a whole bunch of schools, I went to a school that doesn’t even exist anymore to get my master’s. But I was blessed because that really clarify my path and gave me the understanding that I was capable. And that you know, so I’m there’s lots of little caveats we kind of went down, but I’m doing my best to try to stay on target. Because we’ll turn this into 4 hours and you will be like man will you shut up [laugh] Yeah, definitely. It’s definitely a story. But yeah, it’s kind of crib notes.
Joyee Washington 08:22
Yeah, I could, I could definitely talk about this type of stuff all day long. And I’m trying to I’m trying to remember all the little nuggets that you’ve planted, because I know I’m gonna forget something. So I’m like, let me start at number one, just following your passion and how to turn your passion into a profession. Like, that’s, that’s the goal right there. Like, and I think for a lot of us, especially in the public health field, we tend to focus on being I know a lot of us are like, Oh, I’m gonna go to medical school, I’m going to be a doctor. And it’s like, what is that underlying passion is to help to help people. And so we ended up kind of going down this track and finding ourselves tripping and fumbling into public health. Because for some, whatever reason, the medical path didn’t work out, you know, we didn’t, the MCAT was to much or being pre med was to much or, you know, whatever the case may be, but just always focusing on what’s your passion, and how can you turn your passion into a profession. I think that is profound, because ultimately, that’s what we all would love to do. So and then the other point that I want to make is that you talked about a mentor, and how important it is to have a mentor and I think sometimes we tend to think of mentors as like you’re talking about being 19 and you know, coming into your young adulthood and all this type of stuff. But it’s so important to have a mentor throughout 100% your professional career like it doesn’t matter where where are you are on the journey, it’s so important to have that mentor that person who’s going to be able to guide you on how to, you know, transfer your passion into a profession, and make money. All right? Because if you if you can do it for for for free, and learn that you can make money off of it. I mean, like I said, Why? Why not? Wow, yeah, that’s the dream.
Lamarr Lewis 10:19
No, no, I have to echo your sentiment is funny, like, a lot of therapists don’t get therapy. And I remember I was talking to my son about it. And he was like, Why do you go to a therapist, and you a therapist and I was like, Well, you know, he’s, he plays basketball. But so I’m like well, you know, Kobe had Phil Jackson, you know, the he has, like, every great player needs a coach. And sometimes it’s not that they’re looking down on you where they’re trying to tell you what to do. It is a reciprocal relationship. And you give them the opportunity to share that knowledge, share that wisdom. And that’s something that is invaluable. You know, when somebody spends their career or their lifetime, acquiring all this information, one of the things when they become an elder, who do I pass this down to, sometimes not even an elder just is a peer, who has ascended to a certain level, or just has a different perspective, sometimes it’s bouncing off somebody else, Hey, man, one of the people I talked to the both of our best friends, he’s not in mental health directly, but he’s in business. And I’m trying to make what I do more lucrative, right, one of the things that we were talking about, if you think about it, because you do something for free for so long, or something that you would give away, without thinking about it, you often don’t put value on it. Because it’s truly priceless. I tell you know, I coach basketball teams, I tell the kids I coach, that stuff I gave you, you couldn’t pay me for it, you can’t really ask me for training and extra time, because if you can get this, there’s no price, you know, I can put on it. But when it comes to your time, and you know, your your skills, and your gifts, and your expertise, and all of that, I know that’s a struggle that I still have, I know struggle, a lot of like you said, solopreneurs, and people working, you know, public health and mental health and just kind of helping professions have a hard time with asking for your worth. And I think for me, it’s important to realize that it’s also about balance, right? There has to be something to find what it is you want to do. Sometimes that means for for periods, you have to, you know, maybe work in and have that for a period of time to set yourself up to do your own thing, or maybe while you’re doing your nine to five, you’re doing your own thing or whatever. But finding outlets to cultivate your passion, I think is a big deal. Because a lot of people just don’t do that. They kind of like well, you know, I would love to do blank. And it’s like, oh, well, when I got kids, I got a mortgage, I got a dog, I got you know, three pigs. I got it. I got like all this stuff people say and it’s like, yeah, but yeah. So like, it’s one of those things that I realized that helping people I would do for free. I do it for free. Now I’ve always done it. I’m just a person who helps that, but I have no qualms about that. So like I tell people, my gifts, I take no credit for these came from a higher power, my ancestors, my bloodline, whatever you want to call it. These are just gifts, things I’m good at. And that’s one thing. So a gift I would give freely. However, when we’re talking about the blood, sweat and tears, I put into my credentials, going to school, you know, trying to balance, family life and work life and school life and the years of experience, I had to go through the people, I’ve had to work through their internal barriers to help them with their trauma and all the stuff I’ve done more, you got to pay for that. And I don’t feel bad that I asking for it now. I still feel weird, I don’t feel bad. At one point I felt bad. Like, well, you know, me, just give me what you if it was something else, you you would invest in it. And that’s why I want to talk to people I remind them It’s just an investment. I’m gonna give you everything I have, when we have to invest in ourselves and this speak at it from a macro perspective, and we have to invest in the people who do the hardest work. And I believe personally that when you choose to work for your community, you’re choosing to take less financial reward for more altruistic reward. So people who decide I’m working in public health, it’s like you said, you could get you know, go to law schools are going to medical school, get your, you know, medical degree and make a lot of money and do that. And you’re still helping people. So I didn’t, you know, put bad judgment when you say I’m gonna do public health, you kind of accept a certain path. And I think that maybe we fight against that acceptance and don’t look at the opportunities that are available within the sector to just do a lot of good and I think that that’s kind of what motivates me. Is this does this align with my passion and what I really want to do?
Joyee Washington 15:03
Yeah, yeah. And, and we, once again, you dropping all these nuggets, I gotta keep keep track.
Lamarr Lewis 15:08
I’m sorry do it all the time, I told you it’s a gift. I’m a…FYI, I’m a preacher’s kid. So it kinda flows….
Joyee Washington 15:14
I’m a deacon, I’m a deacon daughter. So I mean, I’m with you. So one of the things you mentioned is therapists have been therapists, right? And I was reading an article, I think it was on yahoo.com, or something. But there were therapists who was talking about what they learned from their therapists. And I just, I hadn’t really thought about it. I mean, I know people out there because I hadn’t thought about you know therapist having therapies like that makes sense. But I was in a, they call it a research salon, where they just had people having conversations about research. And one of the things that I mentioned when in the conversation was as researchers, public health researchers, and working with communities, I was like, we got to do our own healing first. Because when it comes to public health research, traditionally, historically, how communities have been treated unethically, unfairly, unjustly, and the negative impacts that it has had on communities, I said, when when you are becoming a public health researcher, you have to actively do your own healing first and challenge yourself to figure out what are some of those traumas that you may have had, across the spectrum, it may have been childhood trauma, it may have been professional trauma, work trauma, school trauma, academic trauma, whatever it was, because those things will bleed into your work and into what you are doing with the community. So I think it’s so important and talking about our mental health and our healing, because one of the things we don’t talk about a lot in public health research is relationships. And when it comes to where research meets relationships, what does that look like? And not just relationships with other people or relationships with your communities? But also, what does that relationship with yourself look like? So just being mindful of the work that we need to do on ourselves, working in public health is so important. And there was something else I was gonna talk about. I don’t remember what it was, but that’s okay.
Lamarr Lewis 17:17
It’s all good. I think I think that’s a good point to bring up. Because, you know, doing when you’re doing any kind of research, firstly, when you talk about counseling and public health, stuff like that, there’s also always that racial component, that apprehension about what you’re doing what you’re trying to get, why you’re trying to get this information, right, especially when you’re dealling with underserved communities. And it’s crazy, because it’s like, so many policies and funds and things like that are based on research, and you want to address you know, disparities and equity. And you may not be able to get effective research, because people just don’t want to participate. You know, and I think it’s very, it’s a very frustrating systemic issue, right. But I think at a personal level, that self care is so vital. And you know, the webinar you were speaking of, you know, the title of it was “healer, heal thyself”. And as I started researching it, like even that webinar, when I first was putting it together, I was basically like, repeating all the typical self care stuff that I been, you know, but pandemic just hit we all have been getting getting free webinars and free CEUs and all that, that’s when everything was free. So you know, you sit in on enough of them you it kinda gets old, make sure you meditate, you got to exercise, you got to walk, you have to do water, you got to eat good. You got to, you know, and you hear all of that, and it was cool. But one day, I was listening to something on YouTube, and this person said they were like a psychologist or social worker or something like that. And it just hit me in the moment. Like, are you? Like? I say that because like, I’m a therapist my whole life. I didn’t know it, you know what I mean? But I’ve always been somebody people could talk to people could bring their soul to and I’m not going to judge you about it. I’m just going to help you find a solution. Let’s work on this together. always been that way. And so when I say I’m a therapist, or I’m a counselor or anything like that, like this is who I am. And I think that for a lot of people, they have a title, but they didn’t. They don’t. They’re not social workers. They’re not public health workers. They’re not psychologists, they’re not doctors. They’re just people who have a title. And I think that woke me up. I told to get a hold on shift I just through everything I did out and read into and just did it all differently. I wish I could find it. I hand write my beginning of my presentation. So I scribbled everything out and just put everything in order and put it together. I didn’t know how it was gonna go over. So I was like, God, I dont’ how this is gonna go. But I just went with it. And you know, it thankfully worked out. It connected me to you and a bunch of other people who I would have never met because that’s operating what aligned well with me. And I believe in that, like, I know what I have to do to show up, you know, it’s not just me waking up and saying, oh, let’s get it today, yay. I don’t, I’m not cut that way, like I’m just not. So I have to put in effort to be better. Because so many people depend on what I bring. And I think that I’ve come to the understanding, that’s not selfish, that’s not bad that you want to be at your best and operate at your best, like, I have to work out. So before we get on this call, that’s why I made sure I asked him what time because I didn’t want to be late, you know, so I’m like, Are you sure? If I got an extra hour at the gym, I’m glad. They did, like, cool. So I couldn’t, you know, because I get in there and be there 2 or 3 hours, I don’t think nothing of it, I just like being there. It’s a it’s great for me, because there’s so many forms of self care. And the thing that I found as a pattern, especially in the black community is that people do not engage in healthy forms of self care. One of the things that I found, and I always try to bring this up is John Henryism. And I think I mentioned in that training, and if I didn’t, I’m gonna share it real quick. Because to me, it just was such an eye opening thing. And I found this out of my master’s program. So I used to work in a program where we worked with like, they call it a day program, but it’s like a group setting for people with severe mental illness. So I was at work one day, I’m sitting doing my master’s program. And I read a book on John Henry. And I remember the story, John Henry beating a train and living, I didn’t, that’s the story I remember being told when I was little. Well, the book I read was the first time I saw John Henry died. And I was like, what, like, it really shook me. I don’t know why it bothered me so much, I was just totally thrown off. Because I always felt like John Henry beat this train, you know, lived on or whatever. So I started, you know, most of us do research and Googling stuff. And I came across this concept of John Henryism. And it was a gentleman, I think he was a public health researcher, and I think about from Duke. And he has a theory that black people use work as an adaptive coping mechanism. So we work in pain and stress and trauma and all that kind of stuff. And I thought about myself, I thought about my mom, or dad, think about people, you know, in my life, my friends, and a lot of us do that we say things, “I gotta get it man, I’m grinding bro, I’m gonna get to it, man, I got, you know, got to make sure I sleep, nah sleep for suckers, nah we don’t sleep we grind”, like phrases like that, not realizing that rest is a superpower. Like we heal when we rest, sometimes you have to just stop. But we’ve been conditioned to believe that it’s okay. To just keep going. Even when you, all indicators are saying no, you know, so when I started studying John Henryism, and really the people who took most of the information, remember, I did a poster presentation at a psychology conference in Mercer up here. It was predominately black women who just were in shock. Like, I’ve never heard of this, this is crazy. Now I am, this is a real thing. Like we work ourselves to death and I can think of somebody personally who literally worked himself to death. And that and the effects of that, you know, so when you work, you work in a field like we do, where again, you’re dealing in the community, you’re dealing with people who may not have who you’re the only access to certain resources that put a lot of weight on you. And if you’ve not taken care of yourself, you will carry that weight. And there’s no way you can fly as high as you can fly, go as fast or as far as you want to go with that extra weight. And so I make it a point to advocate for myself and advocate for others, that when that weight is too heavy, I’m okay now with letting it fall off like now you can have because it’s not mine to carry. I got enough. And I think that when we talk about self care and public health and mental health and public health, or how public health and mental health are kind of pervasive, you know, throughout our daily existence, but we act like these are two things we act like, whatever. Nah man, it is this deeper than that. So I’m just I’m hoping that whoever hears this, if they don’t hear nothing else, can take away the fact. It’s ok to take care of yourself, in fact, it’s more than okay, it’s the best thing to do.
Joyee Washington 24:33
And like you said, if we make any point, rest is a superpower, oh, and a superpower. And I just did. I had a superpower challenge for National Health Education Week where I was, you know, highlighting these are your unique strengths. These are the things that make you, you. These are going to be the things that’s going to help you, you know, make a difference in communities, make an impact in communities. Do your job well, pursue your passion, pursue your career. And the fact that we just say rest is a superpower.
Lamarr Lewis 25:08
Your self care is not a luxury. Indeed,
Joyee Washington 25:10
it is absolutely necessary. And the other thing that comes to mind is I think, as public health researchers and professionals, anybody who works in public health and mental health, you know, a lot of times we have that component of ourselves that are servant leaders, right. And when you are a servant leader, you lead with empathy, you lead with care, you lead with compassion. And a lot of times self care gets left out of that. Because we often think that, Oh, I gotta serve other people, like I have to do for other people. And we have to realize that self care is a big part of being a better servant leader.
Lamarr Lewis 25:51
No, I agree. 100% I think that, um, you mentioned something about relationship and relationship to yourself. And I think that I say this a lot to people, you know, when you talk about school, most of most people go to public education. Right? So pre-K to graduating high school. We’re taught, you know, social studies, math, science, English, right? These various things, but we’re expected to know how to be in relationship with other people. There’s no class really on it. I mean, I’m sure there are now. But it’s even though it’s fleeting. Few and far between. It’s usually for people who have a problem with socialization, but just general, how do I interact with other people? How do I relate in healthy fashion to other people, you’re expected to kind of come here with that and you learn that generally be your family of origin, right. But what if there’s dysfunction in your family, or it’s which I’m willing to bet, probably at some level of dysfunction, if you are expected to learn this, and you come from a dysfunctional family more or less or less than stellar circumstances, you’re going to have certain things or be ill equipped in certain areas of your life, it’s just kind of how it goes. And it’s important for us to know that, that first relationship, that internal relationship is impacted, and oftentimes by who we connect with in the world. And we get these inner voices, we don’t even know where it comes from. Somebody told you, you know, you have to work hard, you do have to work hard. But what does that mean? You know, he’s a hard worker, what does that mean, you know, and they you create these stories in these narratives that you live by, you don’t even know where it comes from. And I bring that up to say that, along with having a healthy relationship with self, and in order to have a relationship with others, and the people that we serve, we also have to have healthier ways of thinking. Because these distorted thoughts that we have, and these outdated narratives that we have, that we carry with us, keep us from being able to, like you said, just take a break. No, I have to do it. If I don’t do it, it won’t get done. That’s not true. But that’s what we tell ourselves, you know what I mean? And I know I’m guilty of it, you know, where’s I gotta get it done. I gotta be the only one to do it. And I worked myself to the hospital doing that, you know, trying to be all, do all, and not really realizing the level of stress I was placing on myself, and how stress manifests differently for different people, you know? So I think it’s important as servant leaders, right? To understand that it’s okay to serve yourself. Like, it sounds cliche, but it’s the truth, like, where do I learn to be a servant? You got to have models, you got to say mentors, things like that. But like, if I can’t model that, for other people, a person can look at me and say, oh, you know, when a person takes care of himself so now I see why he’s able to take care of so many people, Lamarr workout all the time, he always trying to do some fitness stuff, he always trying to work out. So now people around me can get inspired to workout and the benefits of it and see how that’s helping them. You don’t have to try to be Arnold Schwarznegger, Lou Ferrigno, you know what I’m saying, but you can be the best version of you and enjoy the benefits of just taking care of yourself. And then the next generation sees your model and is now they know they can’t say they didn’t see it. They can’t say I have never seen that, the kids I coach, they can ever say “oh, when I get 40, I ain’t working out no more, I’m done”. No, you’ve seen your coach workout with you. He’s active and he keeps moving. You see he doesn’t look bad for 40, there’s some people who 40.. And they look, you know, we aint doing that, but [laugh]. What happens right you’re getting to these professions but you just let yourself go not because you want to. But because you give so much by the time the day is over, you don’t have none left to give yourself and that is a tragedy to me, you know because, how many people do you know in your profession who died at 48, 56, 59, these people, that’s not old, you know that’s not of age to die, some people die from and or people who do certain types of research like diabetes awareness or whatever, they have diabetes, just like this things like that, you know, because you telling me to eat healthy, then you go to lunch, you go into McDonald’s getting you know, a Big Mac combo, like the thinking, the logic, how you can rationalize it, you can look at another person to say , same with mental health look at a person that oh, this this is a phrase I hear a lot from people who work in mental health mind you, “oh that person crazy”, what does that even mean, you know, but you’re expected to be empathetic and compassionate with this person who you look at as crazy. I tell you, I tell you a story in relation to that. One place, the place I used to work at before I broke out on my own. We used to get individuals who come out of like forensic hospitals for psychiatric like people get like, you know, mentally incompetent to stand trial and people like that people, they can’t go to jail. So they take them to the psychiatric, you know, forensic hospital, okay. So they only, you know, a certain point, they, they can’t live there the rest of their life, they get it, they get placed out. So they will come to our program, and they will get into these community homes and try to get reintegrated back into the community. But there’s this young guy, he’s probably mid to late 20s Well, he’s younger than me. But you know, he was an Atlanta dude, you could put Imagine your mind how an Atlanta rapper dress maybe a few years ago, because he’d been in jail for a while. But you know, that’s how he, he talked Atlanta, he just was an Atlanta dude. He was very, some people call it aggressive. And take it that way. Because I’ve seen him. I see him all the time, you know what I mean? But certain people view he’s a bigger black guy, right? You view him a certain kind of way. And so we’re in this treatment team meeting. This is, you know, the doctors, on a therapist, directors like just everybody who’s on this person’s treatment team and they’re in there, his doctors, doctors are afraid of him. And they want to have security in these sessions. And I’m like, for what, “well he’s, you know, he just talks really loud. And he gets really aggressive and blah, blah, blah”. So they were trying to put him out of the program. And mind you, I am sure you can relate to this. I’m the only black guy in this, we serve. We serve an 85-90% African Americans in this community based public health clinic. But most of the people who are doctors and directors and all that kind of stuff didn’t look like this person. So that’s why representation is so important. But that’s on the side, so sitting there and I try not to get too spiritual, but they, old folk call it convicted. You know, I was sitting there I was like, listening, right? And if you can’t tell thorugh this, like my face read, I guess I don’t play poker and because I’m terrible guy be like, I’m sitting there like [heavy sigh]. And I’m like, yo, Have y’all ever like, tried to just talk to him? Like, you know, I just got my license, I said I’ll talk to him, I’ll be his therapist. So I pulled them to the side, pull them off for a miunte. And we talked for about 30 or 40 minutes. He was I mean, nobody ever just asked me what was going on with me. He was like, man, it what he said all I could do was laugh. He’s like, “Man, I been in jail eight years. It’s my first time being around women in eight years. Wouldn’t you flirt with women?”. I mean makes sense to me? [laugh] When I’m like, you know, they didn’t even ask the question to even figure out because they’re so intimidated. And it’s like, back to this thing talking about research and all that kind of stuff. Like if you’re afraid to go to places that the people you who need you to most are, then they’re always going to be underserved. They’re always going to be ostracized, they’re always going to be left out, because the people who who are equipped to go in there and connected to the resources are afraid to go. And that goes back to like you were saying earlier that internal work. What am I afraid of? Like, he remind me one of my cousin’s, so I don’t, I’m not fearful of you, you know what I mean. Despite whatever the charges or whatever, like, you know, and if something was to happen, you know, not being funny, I can take care of myself, you know what I’m saying it like, I’m not and I’m not here for that. I’m here to help. So it’s so important for us to know those blind spots. Okay, why is this situation raising this up in me? What does this mean? What is it saying to me? Looking at the emotions almost like a GPS, and where’s it guiding me towards? And I think that if more of us especially when I’m out again, we’re talking about public health. And I’m specifying people who are underserved, like they need what we do. And if we’re not taking care of ourselves, we can’t even advocate for them because we’re not in the spaces. And I think that’s like again, to me, that’s a tragedy for us not to be there. Anyway, I kind of went all around….
Joyee Washington 34:58
It’s cool because these are gems being dropped all along the way so so this is definitely amazing information and amazing conversation.
Lamarr Lewis 35:07
I told you that you ain’t had to worry about the conversation part, I can talk, you ain’t got to worry about that [laugh]
Joyee Washington 35:11
a it’s all gold over here. So but we do have to be radical in a nature about our rest and about our healing.
Lamarr Lewis 35:20
100% Hold on wait, wait, wait. I’m gonna do like I do my clientsI’m gonna let that breathe for a second. Yes. Give that statement the space it needs to breathe. Radical about your rest. Yes, go ahead.
Joyee Washington 35:33
Okay, let it marinate. yeah, we’re gonna make that a clip might be radical about your rest and be radical about your healing. Because that’s the only way that we can be better that we can serve better, that we can lead better, that we can have that impact in our communities, and that we can bring joy to our communities and have that joy to show up in the world. And so in saying that I was supposed to start with this question, but we had such a good conversation, I want to end with this question instead. But what brings you joy in your work, in the things that you do?
Lamarr Lewis 36:07
What brings me joy, in my work? Well, I kind of touched on it, helping people, you know, helping people, you know, find better understanding of themselves, helping people with their organizations, or you know, what they do, helping them find better ways to serve people, you know, seeing a client get it, and I didn’t feed them to answer with them just kind of come to, I never saw it that way before. That’s what brings me joy, because I know that I’m on the right track, and I’m in alignment, you know, higher power, that’s what brings me joy, just helping and seeing, helping and realizing that the work I do is valuable, beyond the number amount beyond $1 sign beyond prestige or anything like that, you know, I’ve had people kind of be like, Man, you should be doing blank, you should be doing this, you should be doing that you should be…. And maybe I should, but I also think shoot as a cuss word personally, because there’s so many expectations behind the word should, but I know I’m at where I’m supposed to be right now. And what’s mine will come, that I’ve learned to not force stuff anymore. So my joy just comes from being in the present moment, being as helpful. And genuine as I can be. I show up with my whole self as best I can. And I’m okay with that. Also, I get joy in my work, which is helping people to just be better to themselves, be a better friend to themselves. So they can be better friends to other people. So you know, a lot of things bring me joy. But to sum it up, knowing that my work is making a difference, whether it be interpersonally, you know, or on a bigger scale.
Joyee Washington 37:47
Cool, cool. So we are going to go ahead and wrap up this conversation if people wanted to reach out to you, listeners wanting to learn more about your work. Where can they find you? How do they get in touch?
Lamarr Lewis 38:00
www.lewisfamilyconsulting.net…..There’s also lewisfamilyconsulting@gmail. You can find me on LinkedIn. Lamarr Lewis, I’m probably the first one. Yeah, I’m not on social media. But that’s another thing people say I should be doing but that’s another story for another day.
Joyee Washington 38:20
You ain’t missing a whole lot [laugh].
Lamarr Lewis 38:21
And that’s why I’m not tripping. You know, I’m just, I’m focused on what I’m trying to do. And I know that I can get down a rabbit hole and I don’t need anymore.
Joyee Washington 38:34
There are lots of rabbit holes. [laugh] Well, we appreciate you for having this conversation. And we’re gonna wrap up this episode of the public health Joy podcast.
Outro: I’m so grateful for this time we got to spend together. If you enjoyed this episode, I need you to subscribe, rate and, leave a review. For more information on building a public health research career, visit www.joyeewashington.com! This is where research meets relationship and I’ll see you next time on the public health joy podcast.
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