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OneRouge Community Check-In: Week 187

Welcome to 2024! And welcome back to One Rouge Fridays.

It's hard to believe that in March we will hit 4 years of OneRouge calls! If you have been around from the beginning, you know that they look so very different from the early days of information sharing spurred by COVID. Friday Calls started as a place to share information. The calls grew into a safe space of fellowship and support.

v2 was when The Coalitions emerged as our way of addressing the incredibly broken systems - starting with food - that exacerbated disparities and pushed marginalized groups to the absolute fringes. Our work from then has been about addressing the drivers of poverty and facilitating systems change using the Collective Impact 3.0 Model.

Last year we kicked off with an overview of the how, our process. This year we start off with a recentering of the "who" (not the band). Who are we to ourselves, our colleagues, our communities, our people?

We bring the baggage from our lives and experiences everywhere we go. That baggage can lead to anxiety, judgment, and angerMindfulness encourages us to be conscious of how that manifests and what it may look like to other people. We rightly teach kids mindfulness so that can bifurcate their feelings and perceptions from what is going on around them. We promote mindfulness at work to minimize stress and shift our focus from the external to the internal. But being cognizant of when, where, and why our ideas become projections is not just for white men in BIPOC and female spaces. In the immortal words of Iyanla Vanzant, “More often than not, the things we detest and judge in others are a reflection of the things we cannot accept about ourselves.”

This year, we are starting with mindfulness before we dive back into the work ... because that work is heavy and hard ... because need and injustice don't take holidays ... because we can cover more ground if we drop the baggage ... and because "It Starts with You!"

Please, learn with us and our featured speakers:

We will also hear a bit about the MLK fest from our very own Helena Williams and Morgan Udoh!



 Casey Phillips: So as we, let's set the intention for the call today, or just the life in general. And as we, whenever y'all want to open the doors, let's open the doors. So by show of hands, how many people do New Year's resolutions?  I do now.  Okay. Susie, let's start with you, Susie. Let's start with you. That's interesting, so little people do this, Susie, what is your New Year's resolution? 

Susie Weeks: I think my sisters will get a kick out of this, but who, they're both on the call. I'm gonna be nicer to my mom. 

Casey: Oh yeah. And I'm sure that involves some exercise and patience. Is that a fair assumption?

Susie: Yes. And mindfulness of my words and actions. 

Casey: Ah, alright. That's something, that's a good one. Welcome everyone to the space. As you can probably guess we're talking about new year's resolutions. Anybody else? One of our speakers. Anybody? Tia, do you have any new year's resolutions? Is that a thing for you? 

Tia Fields:  Not specifically, but just to be more in a creative space and pushing forward with all my gifts and collaborating with community. Same old, same old.

Casey: I was a not I never really believed in that but then over the last I think it was like three years ago coming out of COVID and the mental state that we all were in after that first year of COVID, I made a really bold resolution to start listening to more reggae music because I figured that just in general would change my frequency. And last year it was a forest decision, but last year I stopped drinking coffee. So I'm now in a year without coffee and these like resolutions have been able to help me not be quite as manic and crazy. I'm sure everybody who works with me would disagree, but as I said, it's brought it down a couple of times. And for me this year, it's about self discipline. Yeah. Self discipline and a lot of things that means. Let's see who's some of the other folks. Dr. Bell, what do you, what are you gonna, what's, what are you changing up this year? 

Dr. Flitcher Bell: Just trying to make sure I maintain my routine. I wake up at 4 30. I do my exercises and my praises and things of that nature. Just making sure I stick with that. And I'm trying to cut back on some of the red meats and things that I eat because the way it's slowly digesting your body is slinging around. So just trying to be more healthy, trying to be more health conscious and heart healthy things of that nature. 

Casey: Yes, sir. That's good words right there. And I like it that you weren't preaching about it. And you have a good shot at doing that because I can feel your intention. Someone gave this to me last year and I would like to say, I would like to say I do it every day, but I have started doing it more over the last year. In those morning, you were using the word praise, right? That morning meditation, talking to your ancestors, right? And that morning time of talking to your Ancestors and thinking about the legacy that you have in this world and this planet. Hold yourself accountable. It was an interesting thing that was given to me that really resonated with me. Kelly, great to see you. Great to see you. Jasmine, good morning. Good morning. Happy New Year to you beautiful people. I appreciate y'all. And Pepper. So what you got, Pepper? I said, are you salty and spicy today? Salty and spicy today or just a little bit more mellow coming into the year? 

Pepper Roussel: Salty, I hear from my good friend Manny which is fine. I don't have a problem.  I don't have a problem with that. So I am curious as to can we not wake up and praise at 7:30? What is special about 4:30? 

Orhan McMillan: Hey, I'm with you because it don't happen before 9am like it doesn't know my affirmations and my morning meditation and works just as good at 10am as it does. I just don't. 

Pepper: Much love and high praise, Fletcher Bell. Much love and high praise.

Orhan:  See, and I think there's less people praising at 10 a. m. because they off doing the work. They off doing and suffering at that point. They done forgotten about the affirmation. So I got a clear channel, right? I got the lane is, it's less traffic.  

Casey: No, man, you're just doing it when everybody else who's hungover is waking up. I disagree.  

Pepper: That is phenomenal. Oh, thank you for that.  

Orhan: Instead of the resolutions, the outcomes I've changed the language just a little bit, just the wording. And so I said, Intentional outcomes that I want for the year because an outcome is going to happen right now. It may not be the outcome you want it to be. It may not be what you thought it would be, but it's going to be an outcome. So this is my 1st year practicing outcomes. And so I've got you got to write them down.  

Pepper: Oh, that's brilliant. So that is a perfect segue because I actually did have speaking of things that were given to me, I actually had an idea of what it is that you should be doing in the year given to me and the outcomes, right? So identifying what those are so that you can get there. And so at its core, the essentially set intentions in four different categories. The first is personal and spiritual. The second is relationship, whether that's Kin platonic or relation, romantic. And then the third is career professional. And the fourth is money and finances. And you just keep, you make a list at the beginning of the year. At the end of the year, you go back and you look to see what it is that you checked off. And all of that in my mind is very much about not only being intentional about where it is that you're going and how it is that you're getting there. But being very consistent and mindful about where you are in this moment, because you can't get to where you are going. If you want, you can't hit a target you can't see, but you can't get there. If you are taking a path that is not meant for you. And so I'm thankful to all of our guests this morning who are coming in to talk with us about mindfulness and how it is that we not only exist in our current space, but also exists within a space with people around us. Starting, at the beginning makes sense to me that we'll start with kids and mindfulness. So Susie Weeks, if you wouldn't mind letting us know who you are, what you do and what we should know. We will go from there. You're five minutes.  

Susie Weeks: Hi, Pepper. Yes, thank you for inviting me. And I, so I currently work at a middle school and I have direct links to these kids. They're my captive audience that I get to teach mindfulness to. And so I guess I'll start just with an introduction of who I am. I’m Susie Weeks, I'm the sister of Helena and Ann that both work at the Walls Project. So they, whenever they heard about this conversation, they immediately thought about me and wanted to see if I would be interested. They thought of me because I have a master's degree in mindfulness based counseling from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Naropa is a Buddhist inspired university. Every semester of grad school, we take a Buddhist meditation course. And whenever I interviewed for grad school, one of their questions was, how do you meditate? And I got a little bit stumped by that because I knew why I meditated. I knew. Where I meditated, in yoga class or by a creek or, I knew that, but I had never thought no one's ever taught me how to meditate and how to be mindful. So that is something that I believe that. Is lacking in our education. And I am so privileged and honored to be able to bring it to the kids that I work with, because especially in the middle school age in middle school, I've come to find out this is when. They become aware of consciousness. This is when I've had a kid like specifically say, I just heard my thought in my head. Does that happen to you, and I'm like,  yeah, we have thoughts and they never stop. And I find that interesting and I love that. I have a direct access to teaching kids when they. First start learning about their thoughts and how they can give space to their thoughts and awareness to their thoughts. So I do a lot of teaching how to meditate with them and the how is different than what you might. Typically think when you think of the word meditation, most people think quiet space, no distractions sitting on a cushion. And that's not what meditation is to me. And it's definitely not what meditation is for kids. Meditation is something that we need to. Be able to practice wherever we are being mindful is something that you can, you're doing it while you're doing it. We can be mindful while we wash our dishes. We are, when we wash our dishes, we're not thinking about the conversations we had earlier in the day or what we're planning for the future. We're washing the dishes while we wash the dishes and for kids that can just be we are  sitting in our seats in school. We are paying attention to the. The tapping of our foot, or the tapping of our pencil, we are being mindful of our hyperactivity while we're trying to pay attention. And so something that I do a lot with our kids here at school is teaching body awareness. So we do yoga for classrooms. And whenever I get the kids in here, I make sure that they understand that our bodies are our 1st signals to what our emotions and our thoughts are. And I think that's really important. I do a lot of preventative, aDHD types of education where we work with their vagus nerve. So our vagus nerve runs throughout our body and it connects our brains to our guts and it goes along the spine. And so we do a lot of neck stretching. And I do  just. And if you want to practice this, so it's 8:30 in the morning, we could all wake up our bodies. But if you put an ear to your shoulder. And you look up at the ceiling, and we just told that for 30 seconds, and you want to pull your shoulders down  and you keep your eyes wide. You need to wake up your eyes  and take a breath. And then come back to center and do the other side where you put your ear to your shoulder and then your eyes are looking up at the ceiling.  Stretching our eyes is really important, especially if you're where, if you wear glasses or need to wear glasses, it's amazing how much an eye stretch can help. And so come back to center and then we can stretch to the right. We don't have to hold this for 30 seconds.  But whenever you  turn your neck to the side, if you'll notice if you take a breath in and on the out breath, you can stretch your neck a lot more. And then the other side. 

Pepper: That's perfect. And brilliant. It's an absolutely perfect segue to TK, who is well, let you show up how you want.  TK, let us know who you are, what you do, and what we should know about on your map. Okay, good morning. 

Takara Abuwi: My name is TK. I am a yoga instructor based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I've been practicing yoga for 9 years. And what started off For me as a journey deeper into my body. I just felt so disconnected and I just felt like I was aimlessly moving through the world and didn't really feel at home in my physical self. And so I started the practice of yoga. But then I realized there were so many more benefits. And the biggest benefit for me was mindfulness. was the ability to get still, get calm and get quiet when my anxiety was at its peak. It's been a tremendous practice for me and I'm so grateful to share that. My primary focus is black women and girls because of my lens in the world. I just see where we can really utilize that practice on and off the mat. So I wanted to share with you the definition of mindfulness. There were two and I'm going to go with the second one that says a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations used as a therapeutic technique. And so whether you are practicing mindfulness. On or off your mat, this is something that we can all use. It brings up the main points of my practice. And what I teach to my students, which are focusing on the present moment. When we get overwhelmed, looking at our bills or looking at. Your bill is ready to view in your email. And you're like I'm going to view that shit. This is a moment where you can turn within yourself and bring your awareness to the present and not get so caught up in. Oh my God, this bill is due. Oh my God, I have to figure out how to make this money. Calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings. A lot of adults, are not good at accepting their feelings or acknowledging or realizing exactly what they're feeling. Some people have a very limited emotional intelligence or the vocabulary to really explain. Playing where they're feeling or what they're feeling. And so this practice can help you develop some sort of awareness within your body to locate those emotions to give them a name and to really understand what is happening emotionally and physically. And then finally, it says use as a therapeutic technique. One of my favorite things to do is to stop. The stop method, S, means to sit down. So whatever you're feeling in that moment, overwhelmed, step away from it and take a seat. The T is for take a breath, which is the key to life, the key to calming down. So if you will join me, inhale in through your nose, fill your belly, fill your chest, and hold that breath here in the throat  and out through your mouth.  Relax your shoulders, unclench your jaw, soften the space around your eyes. And so you're two steps in to the stop method. The O is for observe what's happening. When you're in that moment of tension, is your jaw clenched? Is your forehead really tense? Are your shoulders drawn up to your ears? And so developing that body awareness can teach you how to calm down. And then the P in the stop method is for proceed in a way that honors you. So often we get caught up in trying to push forward into that next thing, the next task, the next feeling. And we suppress a lot of things, but it's really important that we continue to honor ourselves. thRough those feelings, through those moments and proceed in a way that aligns with us. Maybe we don't want to push forward. Maybe we need to acknowledge where we are and take a moment to cry and to feel or  to seek counsel. Excuse me, and so that stop magic is something that I teach my students on and off the mat that they can use to help regulate their emotions and develop  a better awareness for their body and their emotions. And again, I'm just fortunate to be able to share this with  my community here in Baton Rouge. And yeah, I look forward to working with you all and seeing you all on the mat.  

Pepper: That is phenomenal. Thank you so much. There are a couple of things that  Susie mentioned. One is that We don't have to be sitting on a cushion somewhere in order to be mindful. Then something TK you just mentioned, which is, you stop being, and then this, the stop method, but being aware of what's going on with your body the whole idea of loosening my shoulders may not be happening, But I do that there are small and handy tips. That can get me to a place that do relieve stress, or at least get me to a place that I can walk through it. But the second thing that Susie said was doing dishes that you can actually be mindful while you're doing dishes. And the reason that was so interesting to me is that Orhan is going to be talking to us next. And the conversations that happen, especially around the holidays, who is doing the dishes and where do the dishes go? How are you loading the dishwasher? Who used the Brillo pad on the fine China. All of those things are very interesting to me in this moment. Orhan, if you wouldn't mind letting us know who you are, what you do and what we need to know your five minutes starts now.

Orhan: Thank you. And who threw a dish maybe, cause it might've been, I chunked the dish at you because you were complaining about how the dish got washed. We don't have to wash the dish anymore. It's broke.  I've got to go back to proceed in a way that honors myself.  Y'all that just moved me. That really did. That okay that's going to be one of them affirmations that I do at 10 a. m. in the morning while everyone else is doing theirs at 4:30. Hello, everybody. My name is Orhan McMillan. I'm so glad to be here. I'm thankful to be here. At the start of this new year, I'm seeing a lot of familiar faces and even more so many faces I don't know. I'm originally from Baton Rouge. I now live in Natchitoches Parish in the middle of the woods. The pandemic brought me to a camp that I had bought, and years ago, and I never went home. Because when they said, shelter in place, or, I was like, I don't want to stay in my neighborhood in Baton Rouge. I'd rather be on my eight acres with my Great Danes, and we just never went back. I am I'm honored to be one of the founding board members of the walls project. When we first got started many years ago, I served as chairman of the board for a while and then was able to step away and find other ways of supporting this organization. And I just, I'll just say it. I'm blown away over and over by the growth and the expansion that we've done that y'all are doing.  I came into mindfulness.  It was always there in a way, 15 years old, I was homesick. I was watching Oprah Winfrey and Shirley MacLaine was on there talking about her experience with meditation and spirituality.

That was my first physical introduction. I will never forget that. But, and that kind of carried it through, but it really.  solidified because I am and was the owner of a web design and marketing company for 22 years, small business owner 10 employees and just that constant daily struggle bills, invoices, stress, payroll, all the things that come along with ownership of a business, not to mention personal life, not to mention my own history and things like that. And I would notice that on days that I would actually practice some breathing in the morning. Meditation used to drive me crazy. I would come out of my skin trying to sit there and meditate. But it wasn't until I adjusted my practice of it and allowed it to be a little bit more free form and do the best I could in the time that I did. That's when I really began noticing the difference and I would notice that on the mornings that I would spend 5, 7, 10 minutes doing that. I would have a remarkably different day. Now, the thing that was interesting to me, that I began to pick up on, was the shit show still happened during the day. Sometimes I didn't have the money to pay the employees, sometimes I got contracts canceled, all of the stuff, but it was me that was different. It was me that  My perception and my receiving of the experiences were different. So I was able to respond to them differently. So that spurred me on  to so then, my guy friends, I had a bunch of guy friends, gym friends, all this stuff. And then I began to see this pattern with men, especially  of this lack of ability to speak. Genuinely, authentically from their inner, their space, I would have a lot of conversations with the significant others of these men, whether they were men or female, and the guys, they don't connect. I'm disconnected. And so I began this group in 2018 called Manfulness Living, which was the intentional original purpose of it was to create a space for men to come together and have these conversations. And it got off to a really great start. And we were meeting in person. We were doing some, we actually, we were all doing in person things. We had some really great momentum going and boom, the pandemic happened, and everybody scattered in place. And since then, it just went off to the side and not knowing what it was going to need to be. I tried to reinvent it a few times and I'm like, I just, it's not the time. And I think actually what I was actually doing was practicing mindfulness with it, because what I was able to do, I was able to okay, what's happening present moment awareness of I have no idea what to do with this group at this time, and then having that nonjudgmental awareness of the circumstance and saying, okay, I'm okay being okay when I don't know what to do with this when I don't know what to do with what's going on, but it's that nonjudgmental aspect of being able to say, I'm okay where I am. Everything is okay  and then bringing an intentional attention so that during those experience when I was having those emotional responses that I was able to focus on things such as my breath, maybe something external, usually my great Danes or something outside, especially now that I live in such natural surroundings. And then finally coming in with some type of acceptance of knowing that, wherever I am with this, I'm okay with it. And  being okay with it is really just the key. And that's that perception of how I interpret it. And then the final part of it, I brought in a lot of faith and trusting. Knowing that when the time is right for a response to be given a decision to be made an action to be taken, it's going to happen. And even with this, next thing I know, I get a call from Pepper and a message from Casey saying, Hey, would you come on and talk about. The Manfulness Living, and I'm like, I hadn't talked about that in a year and a half. I knew I was going to. Okay, here we are. Right time, right place. We're talking about it. But that was one of the big things is, and then it expanded, and where I want to go with this, honestly, is I feel a little bit, this is where Susie with it, I really want to connect this with young boys, young men.

Pepper: We would all like that for you to do. Yes, please do that thing. 

Orhan: Yeah, I work. I transplanted, but I still do a lot of same community work, and I've got my footing with some nonprofit youth development that work in. It's a foundation that works in underserved Natchitoches, which is every other city. It's got extreme poverty. And I've been working with a lot of these young guys. And there's a lot of resistance inside of them. There's a lot of anger. There's a lot of inability to speak To themselves of themselves. And so what I'm hoping for is to be able to target that 13, 14, 17, 22,  23 year old male, 35 

Pepper: 35 what did you say I'm sorry? 

Orhan: Thirty five, hey, fifty five, last thing I'll say, and this was always a joke,  with my female friends they would say alright, Orhan, I want a export of your manfulness database, because we have such shitty luck with men, we hope, we think maybe these guys, after they go through a few of these, they may be a little bit more eligible in the dating pool, because what we have out here is not worth it, and that always cracked me up.

Pepper: Yeah, but only funny because it's true. Anywho  as we talk about though, or Orhan you mentioned, bringing this to young adults, right? Folks who are in that sweet spot, right? So middle school, right around the time that Susie is working with folks and she was saying that they're just coming into consciousness. For the three of you, we can start with Susie. How is it that you do reach folks who really don't have a frame of reference? Around you. What should be? Is it easier to work with folks who are just learning how to integrate with mindfulness? Or is it easier to work with folks who have been doing it wrong for many years, with the stresses. And so that is the marker of the litmus test. That is what I don't want. So I need to be doing something different.  

Susie: I definitely think it's easier to work with the middle school age as far as them being open to learning and receptive. If for the adults. They need to be in a place where they believe in it already. They're already open minded about it. I think by the time they get my light turns off.  Sorry about that, but when you're an adult, you might already have some preconceived notions about what you believe with  mindfulness and meditation and  with the middle school age. They really just are. Sponges and open to learning whatever you want to teach them. Some of my kids that I work with have, might have some I don't understand how my body is connected to my brain that they brought that kind of stuff up like this. Like the disconnect, I think a lot of adults have the disconnect between their head and their body. But for the most part, the middle school age, those young teens are open to learning whatever you want to teach them. 

Pepper: So for many years the running joke has been at least in my circles, that my body is really just to bring my brain to meetings. So how.  How then if we know and understand that once you become an adult, right? Looking more to TK and Orhan for this one. how do we get folks to an idea place where if you do have to believe or you start changing the way that people are intersecting with mindfulness, how do you get them to a place? What do you need to do in order to teach them to be mindful?  

Takara: I would say that for me, it's taken a lot of vulnerability on my part because I'm speaking to areas that I know directly affect them. So I'm not a mom, but a lot of my friends are. I was raised by my mom. So saying this is the experience that mothers are having. And this is how this practice can help you. I won't even say ease through motherhood, but it can teach you how to regulate and how to still show up for your children as well as yourself.  Also. Being vulnerable about my journey on and off the mat. So talking about my experience with anxiety and depression and having to take charge for my own healing and be responsible for just how I grew over time and taking accountability and just all those things that people are dealing with silently. Me offering my own experience shows them like, hey, this is possible. This isn't something that I have to keep quiet about or go through alone. Building a sense of community based on what we're all experiencing. It may not be talking about. I think welcomes and welcomes in the end. And even if they aren't. Maybe some people say I'm woo, even if they aren't woo, they can still say, okay this is something that I am dealing with. So now I'm open to it and they don't have to, really be deep into the esoteric side of things. They can say, Hey, this is something that actually works for me. Like the stop method. This is something I can do that has nothing to do with astrology or poses or anything like that. So I think that once as a practitioner, if you are able to connect with people on a deep intimate. Okay. Level and be vulnerable with them, then that opens the door for them if they have no prior experience or interest or anything like that. So I think that as as practitioners, it's up to us to  create a space where that is welcome. And it's not oh, you need to already come with X years of experience or knowledge about a certain thing, but open in the space so that people can come as they are. And then whatever they are looking for, whatever they need, we'll find them somewhere along their journey. 

Pepper: Thank you. That's really helpful because when I heard Orhan say it, and I think I openly giggled that the shit show still happened throughout the course of the day, but it was really just about how you you responded as opposed to reacting, how you responded to the things that were going on through the course of the day. And I also openly laughed when you said Shirley MacLaine was your, because people thought she was crazy. 

Orhan: Oh, that's crazy. I mean, she was one of the actors and actresses, Tony award winning. And next thing she's talking about connecting to aliens, yeah, exactly. 

Pepper: Okay. Let's not go that far.

Orhan:  It was reality, so yeah.

Pepper: Yeah. Oh goodness. As I'm being run over by a train of thought, Abraham, that's her name. I'm sorry.

Orhan: Esther Hicks with Abraham. 

Pepper: Yes. Yes. Yes. So same basic idea. So my question is, especially since your work does include specifically men, how do you get past, although it may be cool and fun to say, I believe in going to other planets and I believe that there are aliens when we start talking about channeling with and having conversations with aliens in the morning in order to start my day. I think that might be dancing on the line of a little too far. That's a little bit right. 

Orhan:  I use, I want to also respond to what Morgan put in the chat, but initially curiosity, it really is. Allowing the natural human curiosity, especially with young guys, young kids in general, I don't have to come at them with, let's do this. Let's do that. I allow their curiosity, their questions to come in, come into place and then be able to. And as TK was saying, figure out how to weave the narrative. After the curious expression has been made. So even with grown men, there's a curiosity there. But what it requires me to do is to be extremely open and vulnerable. And extremely mindful of where I am in those uncomfortable circumstances. Pepper, you and I were talking about this together the day on the phone call when I'm sitting when I'm introduced as to, 14 young, 14 year old African American males who may or may not be in high school anymore  and I'm put in front of a room or in a space with them. That's extremely uncomfortable. It's uncomfortable for them. It's uncomfortable for me. So I really have to go into some mindfulness in the moment activities to keep myself accessible to keep myself and not to be a teacher, not to be the white dude in the room, not to be anything, but to be relatable. And so I just figure out ways and I intuitively do it of how to connect with 1 or 2. Once time we were doing a community garden, go figure or hunts in the garden again, and that is, and there was this young man that I had been working with a few weeks and I say working with hanging out with he would get in doing things and he'd see me come across from the apartment complex to the garden and he would see me and we were actually doing a big community cleanup day and then and he was getting very active. Next thing I know, two of his friends walk by and start saying, man, that looks so gay. What are y'all doing? That looks so gay. And I was able to completely see this young guy's entire physiological response tighten up. He dropped the, he put the shovel down and began to go and communicate with them on the other side, this fence thing. And so again, I was like, all right, we're just going to let it be what it's going to be. I didn't call him back. I didn't call him. I didn't respond to, how, what is gay in the garden. I don't know what that means, but nevertheless, I was able to actually speak to one of them and just ask him a question out of curiosity, ask him about eating something and things like that. And it opened up that space that allowed  guy number one to come on back. He brought his friend in and then they had the third one who wasn't interested and he went off. But again it's being able to navigate in that curious space is what I'm getting at whether it's male, female, boy, girl, man, it doesn't matter, but it's allowing their curiosity and you being able to navigate in that space. And I think that's what we do in our work to, if we were in companies and businesses and organizations, it's us operating with other people and. Wanting to have better outcomes and so allowing the curiosity and their vulnerability to work hand in hand.  if I can real quick, Morgan was talking about this is 1 of my favorite things to do. Is when those stressful thoughts come in, or those repetitive things, the anxiety, because I, we all have it, but I know I do, is one of the things I've been able to train myself, I don't have to make that decision right now.  And I'll just say it, I don't have to decide on that right now. Or my other one is, this isn't the time or place for me to have to make that decision. I'm going to come back to that. And by doing that over and over, it really cuts down on the length of time that you experience the anxiety. 

Pepper: That's actually pretty brilliant because there are many decisions I've probably made when I should not have been making them, from a place of scarcity and lack and fear as opposed to being very comfortable and being analytical and assessing the situation fully and even coming from a place of love for myself. And so I am not entirely sure how to get there. Thanks for the tips and the tricks, right? So starting the day off and being awake. If I don't have to sit on a pillow are these long walks in the park with myself? Are these sitting in, lying on the. The ground staring at the clouds and imagining what it would be like to be a more productive adult help me get to a place where I understand even what I'm looking at, I've heard the definition and I know what you're telling me, but how do I make this connection that's for all three of you?  

Orhan: 1 of the things that I do is I show him a basic 1, we've seen and you can hold an orange, you can have a mindful experience with an orange a pencil, something at your desk or something of that nature and go through a 3 minute.  Look at it. What does it look like? How does it feel in your hand? Breathe it. Boom. How do you feel now than you do three minutes ago? And you keep it very simple. Because I was laughing what T. K. said about the woo. Because I'm all up in the woo. I love it. But that's irrelevant of mindfulness. It's, they're not, and that's what, I have a question that James was asking. What about men who have a Judeo Christian point of reference? How does mindfulness translate in that space?  It translates perfectly in that space because this isn't a religion. This isn't anything. It is. This is a mental practice  of  training yourself that can be very compatible with whatever faith you have. And that's what I explained that to guys. I'm like, I'm not, we're not trying to replace. Can you make a mindfulness meditation, a spirituality? Absolutely. Is it required? No, because I can still hold an orange and just hold an orange and be mindful of what I'm doing with that orange. 

Pepper: I feel like you're trying to drop some knowledge on me today. I don't know how to feel about it. But thank you seriously, because there are lots of folks. Yeah, I poked fun talking about the, about Shirley MacLaine and her aliens and even Esther Hicks and her alien. But the short version, long story is that we do have a lot of folks who are very committed to their religion, to their spirituality. And so would then reject this entire process. Because it does not align with fundamentally who I have been taught to be, right? So then what? How do I get to a place where it's not just it's not just hearing the words, but then moving it into implementation. I also, I know people who refuse to get on yoga mats because they believe in some way that it is anti Judeo Christian beliefs. So thank y'all for. For getting us to a place where we understand or at least I am understanding that I can just be. Present  mentally present, and it doesn't have any have to do with, any sort of other belief just here.

Takara: I would like to add also that  taking the opportunity to connect with your breath is really powerful. Some people can use that as a meditative moment where you focus on a specific mantra or bring your awareness to like the affirmations or the thoughts or the reality that you want to have. But even if you don't and even if you're Christian, you can use that as a moment of prayer, right? But bringing your awareness to your breath and noticing how it moves throughout the body is a meditation that is a mindfulness practice. And so again, a body scan may be starting at your toes and noticing like, am I, are my toes balled up in my shoes? And am I holding tightness in my ankles and in my calves and in my knees and really working from your head to toe or in reverse, but having that Type of awareness of your physical self is another way to pull yourself out of that tense moment. So again, just every few minutes being like, Hey, why are my shoulders at my ears? A lot of people hold a lot of attention. We're at our desk like this all day on the phone like this all day. And so our shoulders naturally tend to sit up at our ears. And bring your awareness to your breath and noticing with each exhale. Oh, I can chill out. I can calm. I'm safe here. And so that's a mindfulness practice that has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with anything besides, becoming present in your body enough to realize where you are holding that tension and, what's physically happening with you. So that's another  Just again, another tool part of that stop method  to help us get away from everything that's happening in our mind and really be mindful in the present moment. 

Susie: Breath is something that everyone has, no matter what your religion is, like you were saying, or your socioeconomic status, everyone can come to their breath. It doesn't matter where you're at in. And then also, whenever we are paying attention to our breath, I also encourage people to pay attention to all 5 of their senses. So the hearing the what happening around you and  A lot of times, whenever you're meditating, you might get distracted by what you're hearing or seeing and smelling and you associate a negative emotional reaction to that. So you might hear the traffic in the background and you're like, oh, I wish it would just be quieter. So I could meditate, but I always. It tried to use those distractions as a positive thing and try to get back on to. Okay. If you're hearing a train in the background, can we put our thoughts on that train and let. That emotional baggage leave with the train, try to incorporate something positive.  and then also just going back to the more thought that some people find mindfulness is esoteric and unattainable  or woo. I remember when my grandfather, when I told my grandfather that I was. Going to a Buddhist university. He was like, are you sure it's not a cult that you're joining? You're about to go off for three years. And how do you know it's not a cult? And I'm like, I promise. It's just meditation. It's not, definitely not a cult. And it doesn't have to be something that's It's unattainable for people. It's something that everyone has is the ability to be mindful of their breath. They're mindful of their words and their actions. It's and now that I have a master's degree in mindfulness counseling, I like to call it evidence based. It's not something that is just, spiritual religion, these are evidence based practices that we have put the machines on people's heads to gauge how much their breath and their meditation can calm down all of their heart rate and. It's something that we're seeing on the cover of magazines at grocery stores now, and it's part of our culture and we now know that it's something that can help everyone, no matter where you're coming from.  

Orhan: And one thing I would like to  play off of that too, with the breath, is So like with men in general, and so I, back whenever I had access to it, I spent a lot of time back working out, and that's how I made a lot of my guy friends and stuff. And I would explain to them, I'm like, What did you just finish? What are you doing when you pick up that weight or whatever it is you're breathing? And when you're moving that weight, are you focused on that? Or are you thinking about something else? We're like, no, I'm focused on that because if I don't, I'm a drop it on me. I said, you have just practiced mindfulness. You have just meditated. I do that with some of the youth. I'm glad you said that about the breathing is. The basketball, we'd be playing basketball and I'm like, I'm bouncing. I said, I am meditating while I'm I said, you're meditating while you're bouncing the basketball because you're focused on the basketball and by being focused on that and taking that shot that you're about to take. I said, are you thinking about school? Are you thinking about home? What are you thinking about when you're going up to take that shot? I'm just thinking about what I need to make that basket, that ball in that goal. I said, that's mindfulness right there. You're doing it in your everyday practice already. It's just a matter of knowing that's what you're doing, being aware of calling it what it is. And then knowing that you can bring this into other areas of your life as well. And that's with teenage boys, that's the aha with the basketball. And they're like, and you just leave it alone. And that's the other thing is. You leave it alone. I don't need you to give me an answer. I want to plant that seed and I'm gonna walk away and leave some space because it may resonate today. It may resonate next week. It may resonate next year. That's not my job. But I know the seed was planted because I saw that curiosity open up and I'm just gonna let it sit there and allow it to germinate and resonate when it's supposed to. 

Pepper: Oh, I do love analogies around growing things, especially things that turn into food.  But as we've been talking or at least I have been giggling over here about the chat putting things in boxes,  because my imaginary box actually sits, TK, when you said let your shoulders down. No, I think they belong by my ears. That's where they live. So These ideas of where do you channel and how do you put these things how do you focus on them without judgment and without without passing any sort of the internal emotion on to the thing, right? And the reason I asked the question is that years ago, I was told that yoga does not begin until you don't want to be in the posing. And mindfulness does not begin until you are distracted, right? So you cannot be mindful until your mind begins to wander. And you've got to actually be conscious of where it is going and what it is doing. when we've got questions about so do I, can I just.  Saying a jest, but can I just drop my thoughts, the ones that I don't like, into a place and send them away? How do we walk through those negative emotions? Is that is, and it would be tips that maybe you would use in class or for kids or for people who actually want to do better in the new year? I'm trying y'all, I'm trying. 

Takara: I'll be honest and say, I don't have all of the answers. It really just depends on the person, but I can say this.You don't have to believe everything that you think. When you're having those negative thoughts is 

Pepper: Pause. Say that again. What? Because wait a minute. I'm not sure I understand what you said. 

Takara: Yeah. You don't have to believe everything that you think. So when you have that negative thought come up, it may not even be true. A big one for me was  because I experienced body dysmorphia was I'm so fat. I'm so fat, which led me to do yoga. The first pose I ever tried was a headstand, which is insane. Because if you believe your facts, like, why would you try to get upside down? I was wrong. I, my thought was wrong. I believed it for absolutely no reason, but then when I wanted to shift to my life and change how I felt about myself and change my thought, I had to do the thing that I kept believing I couldn't do. So it took me about a year to stop. Falling over, but once I got it, it was like, okay, so maybe I was lying to myself all this time. Maybe, or maybe my thought was wrong. Maybe my perception was wrong. So those negative thoughts that you have, that's just a part of being human. Your brain is supposed to have thoughts. It's up to you what you're taking in. So if you're taking in a lot of negative media or things that are not good for you, your thoughts will start to reflect that, but you don't have to believe it. It just takes a lot of. Mindfulness and a lot of training and consuming the right things to start to change that thought. So just because it's in your brain doesn't make it right. Doesn't make it real.  But that's the beauty of being on this journey is you have the power to decide what you're consuming. What you choose to believe what you choose to repeat and how, those things manifest in your life. Just because it's in your brain doesn't mean it's the end all be all. But it can be a good indication of where you should be more mindful or where you can do more self exploration to get to that truth, or at least what work there is to do to get to a better thought and a better place mentally. 

Orhan: And I'll add something that TK said is 1 of the things that can be done is be aware of what you're called. And I'm a big gardener farmer. I am I'm a earth sign. What soil are you creating? What are you thinking about? What are you watching? What are you reading? What are you listening to? What conversations are you participating in? And what end of the sticker they from everything has two ends of only two ends of a stick. There's a positive healthy end of the stake and there's a negative end of the state. What in where do you where are you spending a lot of your time? Because if you're putting yourself into that as your environment, you're going to reflect that through your thoughts. And so that's 1 of the things that, we're hearing in our self care is to take that time to understand. Hi, baby. Somebody's interested. This is one of my babies. But it is understanding where that space is and what you're absorbing and to be able to know where it's coming from. And so therefore you become a reflection of that. The brain is amazing. Amazing. We don't even understand the power of the brain but it's still a tool. It's a muscle. It's an organ. A lot of times I think that we allow ourselves to think that it's in charge when it's really not. We're in charge of it. And so how we choose to navigate that makes the difference. 

Pepper: This is amazing. What a wonderful way to start. One Rouge 2024. Thank you all so much for being here. The only thing that I when you were talking about the you don't have to believe everything that you think. I actually here you go. Tip and trick from yours truly. I got an accountability partner who you Every couple of days we touch base and you usually take one to the gym, you go on walks together. Mine is just what kind of thing did you do to yourself, do for yourself today, what sort of internal talk was there and having to articulate that outside of my own head has been transformational  and being nicer to me as. Salty as I may be to others, it's it's far worse to other people. And in fact, I say things to myself sometimes that really are just ugly and mean last call for questions. Oh Ann, is such an adult. Cause she's put in the chat when my kids have negative thoughts, I've learned not to invalidate them instead. That sounds hard. How can I be there for you? How can I be supportive? And you know what? Outstanding goodness, last round for calls. And then we do have some, Morgan, where's Morgan and Helena are going to share some information with us. If y'all don't mind.  And yes, TK is amazing. Susie's amazing. Orhan's amazing. All the work that y'all are doing is incredible. Thank you so very much for sharing part of your Friday with me. And with that said if there are any questions that we haven't gotten to, and you want to throw those into the chat, please do before we leave and before folks start dropping off to go and live your lives. Mindfully we do have some information that Helena and Morgan will be sharing with us. I am not going to steal your thunder. So what is it? 

Helena Williams: Okay. Yeah, so MLK fest is here. It is next week and we are having a series of activities. I will say that Monday has been Fully registered for. So what we're looking for really is anybody who's looking to volunteer on Saturday. I'm going to put the link to the landing page, but you can also register there or look at all the projects and what's happening. If you do want to help out in a bigger way, we need support like in site managers, as well as getting us more supplies, especially as it relates to blight cleanup. So that's things like trash bags, cloth gloves, water. Just all anything that I help an individual volunteer do a really good job helping clean up lots as well as we're doing paint activities and gardening activities. If you still want to come MLK day and you can see if you can volunteer, but also keep in mind that at 11 to 3 PM, we are partnering with the city of Baton Rouge to do the big block parties MLK fest celebration. That's going to be happening at Gus Young Park, 11 to 3 PM. So that's having stage performances, a resource fair, vendor fair I think food trucks. Things like that so that to also celebrate more than just volunteer and get together as a community and build a fellowship. I don't know, Morgan, if there's anything else you want to add to that.  

Morgan Udoh: Yep, I just want to state that I am.  Wonderfully on behalf of the walls project team that we are absolutely grateful to be invited back into the Eden Park Greenville extension area. Since our impact in 2017, staying committed to this neighborhood for the long haul is really important to us to our values as an organization working in. Bringing people to their most prosperous lives possible. We are very excited to install a community fridge. I'm sorry if you already mentioned that. A community fridge and to paint the basketball court at the pocket park that is outside of the neighborhood grocery there at 38th and Kane. They also have a community garden that we'll be revitalizing as well. So we're trying to do holistic care. That is not just one shot services, but ongoing. And our footprint in that neighborhood at Capitol High in the spring. We'll just continue that. So yes, please join us for that Saturday for Blight. Bring your favorite tool. We have an amazing flight captain with Brother Kelvin Cryer, who's going to be leading us through as many lots as possible. The more people we have, but specifically the more resources we have that come with those people, just amplifies our impact. And if you can't make it out that day or don't want to. That's fair. Honor your feelings. If you want to rest on that day, then, hey, every little dollar counts. Literally, a dollar, two dollars, five dollars, rally your your family members and say, hey, instead of our our weekly coffee, let's just throw three bucks at the wall so they can buy some extra trash bags so they can pick up some extra trash. We would really appreciate that. I appreciate all of you for being in the space and listening to me chaotically tell you about our fun event.  

Helena: And we did Reverend Anderson, we did get success with the library system. As they partnered with keep Louisiana beautiful. So yeah, we got them on lock and we're just always looking for more. 

Pepper: Morgan. I was completely on board until you talked about taking away my coffee. I don't know.  Like where, first and foremost, where am I buying a 3 coffee? And secondly, Now that I've found this, now that I've found it, why, how am I, why am I giving it up? No, we'll have to set up  the lemonade stand. I have been trying to get Casey to buy into this lemonade stand as a fundraiser, but he won't do it. Magpie Cafe. Oh, hello. All right, kids. I do have, and then I will let y'all, we're going to move into community announcements, but for our guests this morning I said something that or wrote something with the reminder that it  may not be heard very often, which is being mindful is not just for white guys in BIPOC and female spaces.Being mindful seems to be not just about what's going on with me, but what's going on outside of me. Yeah. Help me understand what is the app  that is a big baby the application of mindfulness or am I using this word out of context when I say that we need to be clear of how we are showing up in spaces and what energy we're bringing with us. Don't jump in at the same time. 

Orhan: I think that's I think that's a huge key part of it is, it's being aware of me. And, it's like we said, it starts with me. And how am I showing up in those spaces? How am I showing up? And the only way for me to know that is to be  aware of who I am and what I feel and what I'm thinking. And. What am I bringing going into those spaces? And one of the things I like to do, and I get this from Abraham, and because, I told many people that I listen to Abraham Talks every morning, and this was some channeled spirit, people would be like, what the hell are you talking about? You're crazy, but I don't care, it's worked for me for 15 years. Nevertheless, segment intending. Before I go into something, I take a moment, whether I'm in my car or something, and I say, okay, this next segment, I intend this. I intend to be available. I intend to open up. I intend to be receivable, whatever it is. I intend to make good connections. I intend to be a good connector, but I segment those pieces and that's a mindfulness practice right there is to set the tone of how I'm going into and what I want out of it. And right there, you've already paved the way  of what can be expected. 

Pepper: TK or Susie, y'all wanna jump in on that or is Orhan covered the field? All right. Covering fields is very good. We have reached the end of the hour and I see folks that are dropping off to get back to work. So I will thank you all so much for starting off 2024 with us. I cannot express to you my deep and eternal gratitude for y'all being here today. TK, I know that there was a question about your community class and you put it in the chat if you would repeat just before people, if they are not looking at the chat, let us know where you're teaching and then we'll open it up to what's going on this weekend in Baton Rouge, y'all. 

Takara: Okay, thank you. My free community class with Brett is a series called vibing yoga. It happens three times a month at different break parks. You can find that on Brecks website, V-I-B-I-N yoga. It's set to r and b is for 18 and up. I also teach every Wednesday at the Red Shoes, which is a center for Women's Wellness on Government Street at 7:30 PM I specialize in beginner friendly. Easy, restorative yoga, yin yoga, things of that nature. I did drop my  website in the chat and I'll just drop that there again. If you're interested in attending class, all of my offerings, including the break class is listed online. Yeah. So thank you so much for having me.  

Pepper: So a beginner, which means no handstands, right? Cause  no matter my weight, I do not have the upper body strength for that. I just can't do it.

Takara: You'd be surprised. It is a practice. It might take you a year or so, but you'd be surprised. But yeah, no headstands. We do some inversions, but again, it's nothing too crazy. So yeah, you don't need any experience. You just need a body and an open mind and we'll do the rest.  

Pepper: Thank you much. Thank you, ma'am. All right, y'all, what's going on in Baton Rouge this weekend? Surely there's something, what's this weekend?  This weekend is epiphany. So 12th Night is tomorrow. I don't know if that means anything to folks in that one  Kicking off Mardi Gras. It's difficult to be mindful at a parade, but I'm just saying that it happens. And king cake! King cake is finally in season! Now you can have the king cake, because when you eat them and they are not ripe, you create another pothole somewhere in New Orleans, and I know you might not see it, but it's real. Reverend Anderson!  

Reverend Anderson: Good morning one Rouge. I wanted to just bring a couple of things I put in the chat. And I'm asking everybody to commit to having respectful conversations with their families and their networks about the importance of voting. And not everybody's eligible to vote. So we have to be respectful of that. But the truth is 2023 We didn't connect with people.  We just didn't. Not voting is also a way of telling a message. And in 2024, I think the, what we have to be able to do is start with our own networks.  And it's nice to talk about all those other organizations, but we have family members. All of us that do not vote or have checked out. And so that's what I'm asking everybody to take that minute to talk. And I do mean respectfully that we gotta quit making people feel dumb, stupid, whatever. Let's talk about What it means to vote.  And I'm really struck by that because as we're watching the news and we're seeing these very siloed stories about our children, we're not having conversations about holding the adults accountable,  and that is part of what voting is about. So I just really want to encourage everybody. Let's talk about voting. Voting. Voting is a privilege that not everybody has. 

Pepper: Fair enough, Reverend Anderson. I will also say it is my understanding that there are going to be discussions around the congressional districting that will be happening coming up in the next week or so, and then right after Mardi Gras. This is the moment, folks, this is the moment a speak now forever, hold your peace situation mainly because there are things that can happen before you know that they have happened, voting sometimes can help. It will also take more than that, but we'll have bigger conversations on that later on in the year. Tremaine Sterling. What is going on? 

Tremaine Sterling: Good morning, everybody. Good morning, everybody. Today we're going to provide. For kids that have developmental delays and those that have experienced some type of hospitalization while later of the lake children's hospital. So we got wind that they didn't get anything for Christmas. So today we're going to be surprising 29 families with Christmas gifts so that they know that somebody cares. 

Casey: Yeah. Brother Tremaine, thank you for joining us in the work you do. 

Tremaine: Love you. 

Pepper: That is wonderful. All there is a question that we are going to table. How do I keep track? I presume that's a special sessions and what's being decided and where we will circle back to that later on in the year. Because I think that is probably something that. All of us can benefit from knowing where that information is being held, and I know our good friends over at Louisiana Budget Project come, and our good friend ATB our resident policy wonks come and share information with us about what's happening over at the Capitol. So Coming up in the next two weeks. What's happening in two weeks? A. T. B. 

Alfreda Tillman Bester: Good morning, everybody. The special sessions are going to be starting up the one for the congressional districts. The court has ordered that be done by the 15th and so that's going to start right away. Just  keep an ear out. It's going to be, it's already been announced. It's already, coming and they're going to be several of them. So please be mindful. And if I know that everybody can't get to the Capitol, but be aware that you can always log into legis. la. gov and watch every committee meeting about every event that's happening at the Capitol. Legis. la. gov. And you can do it from your office. 

Pepper: I'm free to tell my bestest trying to make me buy a new computer in the new year. 

Alfreda: You can do it on your phone. 

Pepper: So I throw my phone? 

Alfreda: No. If you got a smart phone, you can log in on your phone as well. But it is important to monitor these because, but it's a little difficult to, but you can see the maps as well. With a new computer, Pep, if you can't see it on your phone, but you can see the proposed maps. I just got a feeling that it's going to go back to the courts anyway, but we need to. Hold our elected officials accountable for assuring that we have fair maps that allows everybody's voices to be heard. 

Pepper: And then in the chat, we've got a note from from friend Fran Harvey, our story map nationwide competition has kicked off.  Is that like StoryCorps, Fran?

Fran Harvey: It's not StoryCorps. It's probably very similar because you're telling a story using multimedia. The focus of the competition is a topic on Louisiana for middle and high school students. So this is our sixth consecutive year to be holding that, so I just thought I would drop it in the chat.

Pepper: I appreciate it because I hadn't heard of it before when it saw the StoryMap. I was wondering if it was a story core for for geography, like for mapping things and putting them in places. Yeah, good. Yep. Yep.

Casey: Happy New Year, friend. Happy New Year, Fran. 

Fran: Good to see everybody. We'll see you at MLK Day. 

Alfreda: Pepper, we don't, oh.

Pepper: No, go ahead.  

Alfreda: Can I respond real quick to the question? 

Pepper: Yeah, go ahead Alfreda and Jasmine and the Reverend Anderson.  

Alfreda: Morgan your calls and your calls maybe but your emails never fall void because your emails become a part of the official record. And always we go back. And use the official record to correct things that are done wrong. And so what we generally hear from our elected officials is that nobody ever mentioned that to us. We never heard about that. But your email is proof positive that there was concern about certain things. Making the record is important. So don't ever feel like that's a void. You're doing good work when you send an email. 

Jasmin Johnson: BRAYN is not this weekend, but BRAYN annual conference will be on January 19th. If you're interested in that, and you did not receive an invite, if you just put your email in the chat, I can go ahead and send it out to you. But we, are excited about the conference this year. Last year was more of get to know what BRAYN  is and sign up. This year we will have membership renewal, but we have a great keynote speaker. Miss Bianca Chandler, who is so motivational and exciting. She's going to facilitate our youth panel as after school and out of school time programs. Thank you. We're going to have a youth panel. Playing their 2024 programs in 2025. We're going to have this youth panel discussing what's important to them and what the programs really what the programs and services really should be for them. But we're also going to have some breakout sessions. A relationship based HR training. We're hoping to get someone to talk about psychological safety, but we're going to have a AI training. 

Pepper: Oh, all right. Jasmine will be back, whenever Cox works again. Reverend Anderson?  

Reverend Anderson: You just had to go there, didn't you?  I'm sorry. Pepper, I love you. Just wanted to remind everybody, especially anybody who's got to be downtown, that  Monday is now a declared day, which means the courts will be closed. And also, there are numerous parts of downtown that, in fact, may be shut off from access. Because of the inauguration. So I'm sure over the weekend, they'll be posting some of that information, but just an FYI that most of your governmental agencies will not be open on Monday in Baton Rouge because of all the events that are going on. And I learned yesterday afternoon that I believe a couple of the major municipal garages are not going to be available. So there may be more extensive lock lockdowns of areas around the downtown area than many people thought. So just the heads up, I would highly recommend if you had business with courts, make sure that you're double checking, but the odds are overwhelming. They are not going to be doing anything, which means your case may be rescheduled and not necessarily to the next day. So just an FYI on that. 

Casey: And we'll be holding a sponsoring that we'll be holding a watch party of the inauguration as well. 

Reverend Anderson: I'm sorry, I wasn't able to hear that.  

Casey: Oh no, I was just making jokes that we'll be holding a watch party at the office for the inauguration sponsored by Kleenex. Got it now? Yeah, got it now. 

Pepper: Off mute to ha. No, actually, that's why I'd already taken myself off mute. I was saying something else and then I just could not control the Kleenex. Played, sir. Played.  And I was also looking for Jasmine before hopping off, and I don't see her here. Posh Pop. Oh, oh.  iPhone. Is that the young lady who is  selling popcorn? No. Yeah.  Her own blend of popcorn. 

Tia: It's children entrepreneurs.   

Pepper: All right. Pat's struggling. Anyways. Thank y'all for being here. You know how much I appreciate y'all spending a part of your Friday mornings with me. And I will see you back here. Same bat time. Same bat channel.  

Casey: Awesome. Hey thank you everybody. It's good to, it's good to see everybody on here. Martha. Thank you. Kenyatta. Great to see you. And Jen, always great to start the year with y'all. And Alexis, we saw, I saw Alexis in there all day today. Hey Alexis. And who's going to sign us out to start the year? It's going to be Verna. Verna, what's the sign off today?

Verna Bradley-Jackson: Cool beans.

Casey: Cool beans. All right, everybody have an awesome Friday. We're going to be getting down to it next Friday. Also, let's get recharged and let's get down to it in 2024.  Bye everyone. 




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