The statement, “Women go through a lot”, would be an understatement. With the world on their shoulders, sometimes all they need is a good support system. From relationships to children to work life, it can be quite draining when you are trying to balance them all, especially when one of the elements is not as healthy as it should be.
Life Coach, Ana, helps women by teaching them how to connect, create and crown within themselves. Ana is the founder of Ana The Life Coach, LLC and the Co-Founder of My Sister’s Circle of Christ (MSCOC). She seeks to assist like-minded sisters to feel esteemed and have peace through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“I have a special place in my heart for women who are in toxic relationships with incarcerated men,” Ana states.
Ana obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Forensic Psychology at Trinity Washington University in Washington, DC. She later received her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Counseling from Eastern University in St. Davids, PA. With her degrees she is a Life Coach and specializes in resume development, cover letter development, interview coaching, goal setting sessions and time management sessions. She also works as a therapist with people in substance abuse recovery.
I recently interviewed Ms. Ana where she chatted more on her God-given mission and purpose in life. Check out the interview below:
Growing up and still to this day who are your inspirations/mentors? How did they impact your life?
This is a tough question. Several people inspired me to write. My mother Venus was a poet and songwriter. She also wrote a book before she passed away that I hope to publish someday. My father Robert Ax is also a phenomenal song writer and guitarist. I remember when I was in kindergarten, I had to retell a classic fairy tale. I retold Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I verbalized it while my father transcribed it like a perfect stenographer. I was ridiculously long-winded. Then my father made me handwrite the entire story. My hand was hurting right up until bedtime. In this moment I knew that I would be a storyteller for life. I also want to give a shout out to my current mentors; Nia Sade` Akinyemi (author coach) and Emily McKnight (business coach). I had clinical supervisors that helped me become a licensed therapist, as well. I even have my own therapist/life coach. Additionally, I really look up to Dr. TK who is a licensed psychologist.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention Sister Souljah. She writes about real issues occurring in the Black community. I admire how Sister Souljah can write about relationships, violence and spirituality in urban areas, but her writing never comes across as ‘hood’. Sister Souljah helps people to transform with her writing and I hope that my book “Dweller In The Valley” can do the same. I especially want to help women transform who are in toxic relationships with incarcerated men. (No shade to my brothers who get out of prison and positively change their lives).
When did you realize you had a passion for therapy?
I come from a family that has a history or alcoholism and depression. I saw this problem early in my life and knew that I wanted to be part of the solution.
What influenced you to take a liking to and get into the therapy field?
I love people and I love helping people. God saw me fit to position me to be a therapist. I believe that being a therapist is my calling and I answered the call. Seeing people take control of their own lives motivates me to continue serving others.
After you graduated with a degree what was your first job in the field? Was the job everything you expected or more difficult than imagined?
After I got my master’s degree in clinical counseling I worked as a housing specialist for state parolees. I spearheaded the kickoff of this program at a previous organization where I worked. The program I worked for helped state parolees by finding them permanent housing. We paid their security deposit, first and last rent. We paid six months of rent in total for each individual to help them get on their feet after being released from prison. I personally went to see the homes, negotiated leases with landlords and facilitated home plans with parole officers. I loved it but it was A LOT OF WORK. This position was not what I expected. I worked a lot of long days and nights. Sometimes I cried my eyes out due to the stress, but I knew that I was helping people to change their lives. It was very a rewarding role. I felt at peace when my season shifted, and I moved on to a therapist position. Often when I told people that I worked with state parolees for a living they were judgmental of those who have been incarcerated. However, the individuals that I worked with were good people who wanted to change their lives and avoid returning to prison. These people are parents, spouses, spiritual leaders, entrepreneurs, authors, artists, musicians and so much more. They are not JUST state parolees.
In society and our culture today mental health awareness is becoming more popular, how important is therapy to the neutralization of mental illness?
It is important for us to take note that there is a difference between mental health and mental illness. Everyone has mental health which is one’s overall psychological wellbeing. Everyone does not have mental illness, however which indicates a psychological diagnosis or disorder. Therapy can help those with disorders to manage their challenges and live happy and productive lives. You do not have to have a disorder to seek therapy. Anyone can benefit from therapy. Therapy provides a safe and non-judgmental space to process life’s problems. A therapist is a third-party who will not give you advice like a family member or friend will. A therapist can provide unbiased feedback, but a therapist cannot “fix” a person. A person who seeks therapy can be empowered to take control of their own life and improve it.
One day do you see yourself ever starting your own practice?
One day I may start my own practice. I would feel so empowered to start a group practice with other women who are wellness professionals. What I know for sure is that I will spend my life serving others. If God calls me to a purpose, I want to be obedient to His will.
Aside from being a therapist you’re also a writer, what inspired the process of becoming a writer?
My mother was a writer but passed away before she published a book. I wanted to continue her legacy with her work.
I also felt compelled to write to serve women in need. When I was in graduate school, I noticed that a lot of my girlfriends were dating abusive partners, unemployed partners, spiritually dead partners and/or cheating partners. As for me I dated an emotionally abusive man for about 3 years. He was in an out of jail. He was narcissistic. I went back and forth visiting him in jail and putting money on his books. Eventually he got out of jail but got shot and found himself hospitalized. By the grace of God, he lived through this trial. During this time, I found out that he had several ‘baby mommas’ behind my back. This knowledge broke my heart. Through spiritual cleansing I was able to find healing. I am no longer in that toxic relationship. Despite living through these circumstances, I am a survivor. I am now happily married to a man who loves God and treats me with love and respect. We are currently planning various business endeavors. By writing about such complex issues, I hope to show women that they can overcome pain and live fruitful lives.
Your book is titled Dweller in the Valley, what’s the message you’re trying to relay to the reader?
I did not write about a valley between hills and mountains. I chose to write about the valley that can exist in our own minds. “Dweller in the Valley” is for women who have gone through some stuff! Have you ever begged your man to act right? He still acted a fool. Have you ever written letters to jail? You received demands in return. Have you been cheated on and lied to? You kept going back to the same old relationship. Have you acted as a mother to a grown man? He didn’t grow up. “Dweller in the Valley” depicts Sussudio’s world.
Sussudio is a college graduate trying to establish herself in her career. She is reaching high heights but something or someone has a stronghold in her life. Sussudio’s world gets overtaken with new things she has never experienced before. Suddenly, Sussudio’s world is filled with guns, drugs, incarceration, infidelity and everything else on the spectrum with her boyfriend Slade.
Writing my book about the fictional Sussudio was one of the most important things I could have done to further my mission to help women heal from poisonous connections with men, and I’m so glad to have you join me on the ride.
Can you tell us the impact you want your book to have on society?
My book “Dweller In The Valley” is a novel with fictional characters. Despite the book being fiction, I bring up many real issues that can arise in toxic romantic relationships. Many of us have been through relationship trauma making this story is so relatable. The main character Sussudio needs catharsis. Sussudio wants a voice but her vocal cords are constricted. She wants to walk into her God-given purpose, but her legs feel stuck. Buckle your seatbelt for a tumultuous ride of trauma, sex, pain, exhilaration, spirituality and reconciliation. This is a sinister love story, but I hope that it can be part of your healing to become a better you.
What great words of wisdom and advice can you offer our readers and aspiring therapists?
For my aspiring authors out there; If you have a testimony, then you have a book inside of you. Your testimony can help someone heal. Birth the book! If you want to be a licensed therapist, find a helpful mentor/clinical supervisor. Beware that applying for licensure is a paperwork-heavy process but worth it.
No matter what your goal is; Nothing is impossible. Many of us experience some form of oppression or discrimination, however we have the power to control our own lives. We may not be responsible for systemic oppression; however, we are responsible for our own healing. We can choose to change our lives at any moment. We all can reach ANY goal with consistency, tenacity, perseverance and grit. So, get out there! Connect, create and crown yourself!
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