Communities across the U.S. have celebrated Read Across America (RAA) Day on or around March 2 for 22 years. This year, RAA Day is also the inaugural World Teen Mental Wellness Day. Since reading can have a positive effect on mental health, let us encourage our communities to use reading as a tool for mental wellness! Let’s #Read4MentalWellness!

#Read4MentalWellness today and everyday!

Read Across America

The National Education Association (NEA) launched RAA with the main focus of motivating children to read. As the nation’s largest celebration of reading, a major goal of RAA is to improve performance in school.

“The year-round program can fit reading fun into your calendar daily, weekly, or monthly and includes big celebrations of reading on March 2 and throughout National Reading Month in March.”

On Read Across America Day, you can expect a great number of schools, bookstores, libraries, and more to host reading events. However, one event that is especially exciting is the #FillEveryShelf matching opportunity at! When you donate to a DonorsChoose book project during this event and your donation doubles! You can help get books to students quicker! The match will be available from 7:00 AM ET on March 2nd until 3:00 AM ET on March 7th, therefore making this an ideal time to give!

World Teen Mental Wellness Day

Retailer Hollister is declaring March 2, 2020 the first World Teen Mental Wellness Day. Hollister is wants teens to use March 2 to practice self-care and silence self-doubt!

“World Teen Mental Wellness Day aims to raise greater awareness of mental health issues among teens, as well as provide education about removing stigmas surrounding preventative mental health.”

February 12, 2020 Press Release

Up to $12,000 will be donated to the Hollister Confidence Project Fund when teens use #WorldTeenMentalWellnessDay to share how they recharge!

Positive Effect of Reading: #Read4MentalWellness

My oldest son, who will be 13 this summer, has been struggling in a couple of classes. I told him to read more! I explained that reading will help improve vocabulary and writing; therefore allowing him to communicate better and feel more confident. I also mentioned that reading would allow him to be exposed to situations and experiences that he may never experience, or not yet experienced, first hand. In other words, giving him new insight and point-of-views from which to learn. But how much does reading help mental health and wellness?

8 Science-Backed Reasons to Read a (Real) Book

The article 8 Science-Backed Reasons to Read a (Real) Book, from Real Simple, discusses eight reasons we should read books. Amazingly, reading literally changes the mind. Here’s how!

  • Increases intelligence
  • Boost brain power
  • Make you more empathetic
  • Flipping pages can improve understand
  • May help fight Alzheimer’s disease
  • Can help you relax
  • Reading before bed can help you sleep
  • Reading is contagious

Establishing a love for reading is easier at a younger age. However, it is never too late for that one special book to create a life long reader! So this week, provide a classroom with books and get students a step closer to mental wellness. Need help finding a classroom to support through Check out this Twitter thread for ideas.

Support Not Mad. Motivated.

This week, Not Mad. Motivated. will help support students and teaches with daily donations to at least one DonorsChoose book project while the #FillEveryShelf match is active. We will also share projects so that other donors have the opportunity to make a difference!

We are brainstorming how to make a bigger impact within our communities and would love your support to ensure that we are able to grow! We invite you to shop at our online store, subscribe to and share our blogs, and subscribe to our newsletter. We may be small but we are eager to make our impact great!

So when you take your favorite books to share with your favorite people, have your Not Mad. Motivated. tote ready to help you carry the load. And remember to #Read4MentalWellness today and everyday!

Celebrate Often: The Heroes We Know Collection

This month’s Celebrate Often post is about Author Kira Parris-Moore and her The Heroes We Know Collection. In addition to her first book, Trey, the Chef, which was published in 2019, Kira Parris-Moore’s second book, Suzy, the Dressmaker, is available now!

Mental illness or developmental disabilities are nothing that ANYONE should be ashamed of and anyone who has these challenges and still manages to make it through their day to day should be celebrated!

Author Kira Parris-Moore

Inspiration Behind The Collection

So what is the inspiration behind the Heroes We Know Collection? The author has three very clear goals to fulfill with her collection:

  • present mental health and developmental awareness in a way children could understand
  • increase cultural diversity by having each character be a different race
  • provide inspiration by showing children that they can succeed and accomplish their goals no matter what developmental/mental health barriers they face

Meet The Heroes We Know

The main character of the first Heroes We Know book is inspired by Kira Parris-Moore’s oldest son. Trey is Autistic and in Trey, the Chef, he uses is passion for cooking to speak beyond words. Visit our previous post to read more about Trey, the Chef.

Anxiety is the focus in Suzy, the Dressmaker. Anxiety is a common issue faced by people of all ages. What is great about Suzy, the Dressmaker is that it introduces anxiety in simple way. A young child might not know the word anxiety, but the books allows them to relate to the “feeling” of anxiety. Therefore, giving children a better way to talk about what they are going through.

Similarly to Trey, the Chef, Suzy is full of passion and creativity! Although we see Suzy worry, we also see Suzy practice techniques to help her calm down. Above all, these techniques can help readers work through their worries, too!

In addition to the story, each Heroes We Know book includes an interactive activity that makes each book a touch more special!

To purchase either book or learn more about the author, visit Every person that purchases Trey, the Chef gets a 15% discount off the purchase of Avaz AAC, an augmented alternative communication app that allows nonverbal children/adults to communicate with the outside world through technology. Trey, the Chef will also be featured in the Just Like Me Box for Autism Awareness Month in April.

Support Not Mad. Motivated.

Do you know a hero that should be celebrated? I do! My seven year old Autistic son! He is non-verbal and has global developmental delays. I cannot imagine his daily frustrations of wanting to communicate his needs, wants, and discomforts. There are times when his behavior reflects that he is going through something unpleasant. However, you are more likely to find him happily laughing and smile. Even when I know he is uncomfortable, he finds many beautiful smiles to share with his family and community! Leave a comment about the heroes you know!

Sometimes, we go through difficulties! Some people decide to give up amidst struggles. Some believe that their success is limited by what other people say or expect. However, at Not Mad. Motivated., we believe that our biggest barriers and obstacles can fuel our success. My Autistic son’s global developmental delays inspires me to say “I’m Not Mad. I’m Motivated.”

Let life’s obstacles inspire you and help remind others to choose motivation and not anger by supporting Not Mad. Motivated. with the purchase of a shirt and/or a tote. And don’t forget to subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog!

Thanks for your support!

Pizza, Cars, and Confederate Flags

Tickets and passes from the Bank of America 500 NASCAR race held at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October 2017.
Bank of America 500 tickets and passes from 2017.

Are you are wondering how pizza, cars, and confederate flags go together? Read how these three thing aligned within my world one day in 2017.

A Finalist

On Thursday, October 5, 2017, I got a voicemail that I could not believe! The follow-up email stated:

You entered into our contest to win an all-new Toyota Camry last month and you have been chosen as a finalist!
You are one of three finalists who have the opportunity to win the car. The final part of the contest will happen this Sunday, 10/8, at Charlotte Motor Speedway before the Bank of America race.

Digital Strategy for Papa John’s of the Carolinas

Can you imagine? I did enter the contest. I used promotional code PAPAWHEELS when I ordered a $9.99 Papa John’s pizza. That’s it! I had some doubts about the whole thing, but I was assured that someone would leave a winner. With a 1 out of 3 chance of winning, I could not resist confirming my intentions to make the two hour drive. My family was invited, and win or lose, it was a new experience for everyone.

Pre-race Show Excitement

We were up and out early Sunday morning in order to make it to the track by 9:45am. Our VIP treatment started with a golf cart meeting us in the parking lot and driving us to the infield. The Pre-race show was already going strong. Fans were everywhere! Giveaways, celebrity NASCAR guests, all going on as the Papa John’s team prepared the three finalist for the contest.

The time came for our part of the show. The hosts moved from the main stage to the stage featuring a 2018 Toyota Camry and started introducing the contest and the finalists. They called me Margaret Brown. My name is not Margaret Brown. I immediately wondered if that “slip up” was a reference to my Brown skin, but then my thoughts were right back to winning my car – I was claiming it!

The contest was simple. A trunk full of single pizza boxes with a few of them colored gold. The finalists takes turn finding a gold one until they find one with a code. The code in the box matches a code on a key. If your key starts the car, you win. And guess who won!

The 2018 Toyota Camry SE in Galactic Aqua won from Papa John’s of the Carolinas at the Bank of America 500

Pizza, Cars, and Confederate Flags

We had a great time at our first NASCAR events! After the rock climbing wall, bouncing obstacle course, and some lunch, we headed to the grandstand to watch some of the race. Like a bunch of amateurs, we sat in the first row as if they were the most sought after seats. But when those cars came around, we realized that they were NOT popular seats for a real good reason. I did learn something priceless though. My youngest son, who was diagnosed with Autism months earlier, seemed to be soothed by the noise or vibrations.

It was such a fun outing and an amazing experience. Although, all the confederate flags in the infield were very distracting to me.

Photos displaying confederate flags at the Bank of America 500
Confederate flags at NASCAR race in North Carolina.

Had I paid attention to NASCAR, and its history, these flags would have not caught me of guard. However, seeing the flags did trigger a subconscious knowledge of such relationship.

The confederate flag once was as much a part of the NASCAR landscape as the green, yellow and checkered.

Confederate emblems decorated race souvenir programs, and a man dressed as a rebel soldier was a regular in victory lane celebrations at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.

NASCAR fans: Confederate flag still important symbol

Remove the “Offensive Symbol”?

Formal NASCAR chairman, Brian France, eventually called for, but did not require, the removal of the “offensive symbol” in 2015. Some tracks even offering to exchange the controversial flag with an American flag. France, grandson of NASCAR co-founder Bill France Sr., later went on to endorse Trump in 2016, proclaiming:

If the people that like and watch NASCAR vote for Donald Trump, they can cancel the election right now. Nobody else can win. Nobody.

NASCAR fans: Confederate flag still important symbol

He also went on to plead guilty for DUI after an 2018 DUI and possession of Oxycodone (a controlled substance) arrest. Jim France, uncle to Brian France and son of Bill France Sr., is the new NASCAR Chairman and CEO. Will ideas about the confederate flag, and its role within NASCAR, change under his leadership? I don’t know, but I do know that Trump is the Grand Marshall of this week’s Dayton 500.

A Not Mad. Motivated. Point of View

There you have it! This is how pizza, cars and confederate flags have intersected in my life. Being called Margaret Brown in this environment was a bit frustrating. However, I used the car that I won to help start Not Mad. Motivated.!

Seeing those flags caused all sort of feelings, but outside of my own family’s enjoyment, I saw something else that made me extremely happy! Another Black family! What made this family special is not that they were Black; it is that they were being themselves.

It was before the race and a NASCAR driver was being driven through the crowd. The dad urged the son, who was dressed down in NASCAR appeal, to get an autograph. With the son’s hesitation, the dad grabbed the son’s hat, ran aside the golf cart next to the NASCAR driver, and got the autograph that he knew his son desired. The son displayed an undeniable reaction of a true fan!

Don’t get me wrong, I did not experience any hatred from any person that I interacted with that day. Everyone was actually very pleasant and welcoming. It was just those flags and beliefs that they symbolize to me and to many.

We have ‘symbols’ that can trigger the worst of our feelings and behaviors, but we win when we find the motivation to thrive beyond those negative feelings. We would love your help in spreading the Not Mad. Motivated. mindset! Let’s turn failures into fuel, obstacles into opportunities, and mistreatment into movements! Shop Not Mad. Motivated.

Reparations Plus Interest: A Not Mad. Motivated. Point of View

February 2020 - Reparations Plus Interest

I starting working on my credit when I was in college. I was approved for a loan to purchase a house and I thought that my work paid off. When I bought my house 13 years ago, my excitement was sky high. That was before I realized how much interest I was expected to pay. That realization definitely diminished the moment some.

I still live in the house that I “bought” in 2007. After a few years of financial instability (mostly due to a toxic relationship), I pretty much owe the same amount on my home loan. This shocking reality is where my thoughts went after hearing about talks on Reparations for Slavery. My conclusion. . . let’s start talking about Reparations plus interest.

What is Reparation?

Reparation: the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Our history has many examples in which amends were attempted through reparations. The German government continues to pay reparations to Holocaust survivors and to the State of Israel. The United Kingdom paid over $25 million to over 5,000 Kenyan who suffered torture and abuse during the Mau Mau uprising “at the hands of the colonial administration” in the 1950s.

A Selection of U.S. Reparations

The U.S. did provided “reparations” to Native Americans as payment for seized land.

However, the actual funds only averaged out to about $1,000 per person of Native American ancestry, and most of the money was put in trust accounts held by the United States government, which has been accused of mismanagement over the years.

Native American Reparations: Belated Payment for Unjustly Seized Land
The Thorny History of Reparations in the United States

When the U.S. government overthrew the Kingdom of Hawai’i, Native Hawaiians where forced to live in crowded cities. Many Natives died from foreign diseases. As “reparations” for the land, people of at least one-half Hawaiian ancestry by blood could lease homesteads from the federal government for 99 years at a time for a total of $1.

Much of the land was remote and unfit for development, and it put people who married non-Native Hawaiians at risk of losing their land. Today, those problems persist.

Native Hawaiian Reparations: Land Leases for the Overthrow of a Kingdom
The Thorny History of Reparations in the United States

After a lawsuit for being left untreated for syphilis while in a “treatment program”, victims of Tuskegee Experiment were awarded $10 million, healthcare and burial services. The state eventually awarded healthcare and other services to the men’s spouses and descendants, too.

Decades later, the experiment is correlated with increases in mistrust of the medical establishment, overall mortality and reluctance to see medical providers among black men, who face significant health disparities compared to their white counterparts in the United States.

Tuskegee Experiment Reparations: Compensation for Medical Brutality
The Thorny History of Reparations in the United States

Reparations Plus Interest: A Not Mad. Motivated. Point of View

When we think about reparations for the U.S. enslavement of (descendants of) Africans, many of us will think of “40 acres and a mule”.

By June [1865], roughly 40,000 Blacks had settled on four hundred thousand acres of land before Confederate landowners, aided by the new Johnson administration, started taking back “their” land.

An Historical Timeline of Reparations Payments Made From 1866 through 2019 by the United States Government, States, Cities, and Universities
Reparations Payments Made in the United States by the Federal Government, States, Cities, Religious Institutions, and Colleges and Universities

Wide-spread land ownership for newly “freed” Blacks could had been a game-changer! These were incredibly skilled people. They were blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, weavers, cooks, caregivers, and more. Within this population was every talent needed to build up successful communities. Although such communities did emerge, it was at a much smaller scale than true reparations would have allowed.

Enslavement was devastating enough, but compounding it with systemic racism was and continues to be cruel. And that’s the reason for saying when we talk about reparations for slavery, we should be talking reparations plus interest! Land is great – I would love not to spend another $80-100K in interest for a house that is barely worth that amount. However, the very minimum should include free education and unlimited medical care of choice for the generational stress.

Do you think Reparations plus interest is a fair concept? If so, support Not Mad. Motivated. and let’s get the word out together.

We now have Reparations plus interest shirts and totes available!

My Not Mad. Motivated. Black History

My Black History written by Not Mad. Motivated. Founder Margaret Hall

When I was in high school, I participated in two separate college tour trips. One was to Atlanta, Georgia and the other to different areas of Virginia. Both tours included visits to multiple Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). However, I never really considered going to an HBCU during my college application process.

Instead I decided that I would go to the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. That is until I realized that I would not get the funds I needed to take care of tuition. My next choice was completely different – Clarion University of Pennsylvania – because I knew that I could get a significant amount of state grants to complete my college career. Fortunately, an unexpected opportunity presented itself to me.

North Carolina and HBCU Bound

Around the time of my high school graduation, I received a letter from Bennett College. Bennett, an Historical Black Women’s College in Greensboro, North Carolina, offered me a Presidential Scholarship that covered tuition plus room and board. Considering that I had never heard of Bennett College, this offer came as a complete surprise.

My mind was already settled on staying close to home. It was with the encouragement of my older sister that I decided to give North Carolina and Bennett College a try. My mother was at summer camp for the Army Reserves, so my sister and her good friend drove from Maryland to Pennsylvania to North Carolina to make sure I was at Bennett in time for orientation.

More Than a College Education

Even though I excelled academically, attending Bennett College was far more than just a college education. Bennett nurtured my sense of social responsible. I immediately learned that “Bennett Belles are Voting Belles”. Many freshwomen, including myself, voted for the very first time using a carpool system to the local voting polls. This was an effort led by the [now formal] art professor and current North Carolina Congresswomen.

It was at Bennett that I found my passion for writing. Specifically, it was a paper that I wrote for my Civil Rights Empowerment class that piqued my interest. The paper was about the effect of voting disenfranchisement of ex-offenders on the Black community, and it helped me introduce myself to myself.

More than a College Professor

My professor for the Civil Rights Empowerment class was also an inspiration, leaving a permanent impact on me. She spoke about her double mastectomy and her decision to not have her breast reconstructed. Her vulnerability allowed me to connect with, and learn from, her as a woman. It allowed a certain trust.

There is one piece of advise that she gave the class that I still think of regularly: Never pull over for a police office in a place that is not well lit! She recommended that we turn on our hazards and continue to drive at a slower pace until arriving at a well lit place, to help assure that you are seen by others. She suggested calling 9-1-1, while driving, to let them know about the situation. A real life lesson!

While preparing this post, I found out that this professor passed away about a year and a half after I finished her course and graduated from college. I appreciate the interactions that I had with her and her passion for teaching students beyond the limits of a classroom.

From Greensboro to Tobacco Road

After graduating from Bennett, I decided to attend the School of Public Health (SPH) at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill. It was a huge change and took a great adjustment. After an unsuccessful first year, I took a year off before starting year two.

Upon my return, I realized how important to was to have a supportive community. I became a member of the Minority Student Caucus. This group not only provided opportunities to socialize with a diverse community of students, but it also allowed me to volunteer, and learn, at the annual Minority Health Conference.

I became a volunteer at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black History and Culture and participated in recruitment efforts for the UNC Graduate School, including a return to Bennett College. These types of activities, and interacting with students from all around the world, helped ground me as a student at UNC. Interacting with passionate students and being woven into the community made all of the difference!

The Tale of Two Chapel Hills

As a UNC – Chapel Hill alumni and as a Black woman, it has been heartbreaking to watch the “Silent Sam” episode unfold. People have spent many years fighting for the removal of Confederate statues and flags. In my opinion, it is because these items represent a culture and a people that fought to keep the institution of enslaving African descendants. These items have been used to tell generation after generation that the Confederate’s fought for an honorable cause and deserved to be memorialized.

It impossible for me to align my past with the current state of UNC. The social responsibility cultivated at Bennett. The passion of UNC students to make a positive impact on their communities. The intention of the “Silent Sam” protesters to remove reminders of oppress. None of these line up with the university’s agreement to award the statue AND a $2.5 million trust to cover costs to preserve it to the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Learning History with the Future

My life experiences offered me many opportunities to learn. However, learning with my sons have magnified my views on being Black in America.

My middle son is such a magnificent history guide. It was his idea to watch the PBS special, Reconstruction: America After the Civil War. This documentary is eye opening! It explores the brief period after the Civil War when formal slaves and free Black people had opportunities to achieve and advance. During this period of time, the formal Union continued to play a role in protecting the rights of Blacks in America.

But the formal Union had a change of heart when they were faces with losing the US presidency. They essentially gave the formal Confederates “free range” on African Americans in the American South in exchange for the being the “leader” of the nation. The idea of Reconstruction began to unravel and the rise of Jim Crow segregation took its place.

The effect of slavery and the failed “attempt” of reconstruction is still seen in our everyday lives. Hate ‘campaigns’ have been past down throughout families and communities, infiltrating all areas of our lives. Doctors, teachers, police officers, law makers, etc. who carry bias ideas about people of African descendant exist. These biases are dangerous to everyone and have no place in our communities.

A “Not Mad. Motivated.” Black History

The series will conclude with a focus on both the flowering of African American art, music, literature, and culture as tools of resistance in the struggle against Jim Crow racism and the surge of political activism. . .all at a time when black political power had been blunted and the dream of an interracial democracy seemed impossibly out of reach.

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War Preview

The “Not Mad. Motivated.” mindset to a cruel history is RESISTANCE! I resist biases by encouraging people to thrive beyond their past and their obstacles. We all are needed in this fight against biases and racism. How will you make a difference?

Help spread the Not Mad. Motivated. mindset with a purchase of a t-shirt or tote today. This Black Owned Business greatly appreciates your support!