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Natural Awakenings Philadelphia

Keeping it All Together

As part of our issue on Women’s Wellness, Natural Awakenings asked several prominent local practitioners about how they balance staying well and their busy professional lives while maintaining a spiritual connection.

One’s well-being and health involve more than going to a fancy gym or taking a hot yoga class or frequent trips to the health food store. While those activities may well help maintain overall health, being healthy is more than physical; it includes a balanced  emotional, mental spiritual, financial, and social well-being. How any women feels about herself has a great impact on her health and well-being. However, it is especially true in relationship to African-American women.



MaMa Akosua Ali-Sabree

“I teach the clients that dis-ease or illnesses are actually a reflection of spiritual dis-connection, ethereal blockage, mental and/or emotional upsets which occur long before the manifestation of physical symptoms. The major cause of dis-ease is lack of knowledge and the Spiritmindbody being out of balance and overrun with toxins. Those toxins can come through food, relationships, the environment, etc.

“At Kuumba Family Institute/Amadi Wellness Connection, we advise people to recognize that the true root of sickness and dis-eased states is lack of knowledge. And I strongly suggest we all wake up, change our perception of dis-ease and what is healthy and what good health actually is; look at our lifestyles and take charge of what we eat, drink, read, and become more aware of the environment around us. In short, we need to learn more about living a safe, whole, communal, and healthy life. As women a daily, wise and life-enriching affirmation would be, ‘Deserve to be happy, health and whole and to just be.’”



Elise Rivers

Elise Rivers is the owner of Community Acupuncture of Mt. Airy, an affordably-priced, community-based holistic wellness center. She holds degrees in acupuncture and law and says, “We provide affordable holistic wellness services including acupuncture, bodywork, naturopathy, holistic nutrition coaching, reflexology, reiki, Chinese herbal medicine, cancer support and fertility support. In addition, we provide a serene space for the deep rest so many people seem to need, and a safe and relaxed space to explore health challenges and find unconventional solutions.”

She is passionate about plant-based diets, advising, “What is exciting about people making the transition to eat more plants and less animal products is that with just this one decision, they can contribute so much good in many important ways. Hundreds of credible studies now show that plant-based diets are the key to a longer life, healthier life and help maintain quality of life as we age.”

She also notes, “The number one practice that keeps me grounded, clear and fit is a combination of yoga and meditation. I commit to my practice a minimum of five hours over four days a week. The direct benefits are high energy, clear thinking and resilience. I also take at least a 20 minute walk five days a week or a longer bike ride, preferably in nature. I choose to be vegan for my health, the animals and the planet. I prioritize spending time with friends and family, and on many community service work projects, such as creating the Mt. Airy Holistic Health Fair and beautifying and greening Germantown Avenue.”

Most recently in this regard, Rivers produced a documentary about East Mt. Airy that helps neighbors understand the unique architectural legacy they’re living in, which will be shown on May 5 (tickets at



Blondell Reynolds Brown

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown states, “I have three devotionals in three different places: one on my make-up table, one in my car and one on my night table. They are Sister-to-Sister Devotions for and from African American Women, God’s Wisdom for Mother’s and 365 Devotions Based on Scriptures. My expectation is to read one or all three at some point during my day, because no two days are ever alike in the ‘nine days a week’ required to keep up with a city that never sleeps.”

Describing her spiritual connection, Brown says, “Who can meet life’s twists and turns and not be spiritually connected? Where are they? Show me who they are? The process is best described in Proverbs 3:5-6: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.’”

She has some advice for women everywhere. “Even for those moms who are exceedingly well-organized, the lives of working mothers are what I call ‘crazy stupid’. It is imperative first that we recognize this, and second, learn not to beat ourselves up when we discover we are not perfect. Put the guilt on a shelf. Feeling overwhelmed when I first became a working mom, I discovered I was not alone. After multiple accidental meetings at our neighborhood church, a small group of moms and I decided to intentionally organize time together with our children. Unintentionally, we became the seedlings of a core group of moms we now call, The Village Moms. We learned to lean on each other; support each other and lift up each other during all those birthdays, divorces, funerals, sports events, holiday celebrations and graduations. Feeling overwhelmed as a working Mom became less traumatic and less stressful because we knew we had each other’s backs.”



Judy Wicks

Judy Wicks, an entrepreneur, author, speaker and mentor working to build a more compassionate, environmentally sustainable and locally based economy, is the author of the award-winning book Good Morning Beautiful Business: the Unexpected Journey of an Activist Entrepreneur and Local Economy Pioneer and others. In 2000, she founded Fair Food (, which has numerous programs to connect local family farms with the urban marketplace.

A participant in recent pipeline protests at the Standing Rock Reservation, in North Dakota, Wicks wrote, “From the jungles of the Amazon to the tar sands of Alberta, indigenous people of the Americas are standing up to the fossil fuel empire in defense of Mother Earth.

“Today, as we experience catastrophic climate change, there are signs of hope that some communities are awakening to a new relationship with Earth, and with indigenous people. At the Standing Rock encampment in North Dakota, I was among thousands of non-native allies who joined Native American water protectors fighting an advancing oil pipeline in the fall of 2016. Throughout the encampment, banners and T-shirts worn by native teenagers exclaimed, ‘Defend the Sacred.’ I went in service to express my commitment to indigenous rights and gratitude for the Lakota’s brave defense of our common Mother. For many months, multicultural, intergenerational groups of supporters traveled to Standing Rock, where they experienced native values of respect, reciprocity and reverence for the Earth.”



MaMa Akosua Ali-Sabree, 215-438-8189

Community Acupuncture of Mt. Airy; 6782 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia. 215-266-5757,



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