Choose to thrive: Candice Marie Benbow joins theGrio

The writer and author discovers a new place to thrive at theGrio.

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“Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?” Spiritual healer Minnie Ransom asks a broken and suicidal Velma Henry this pointed question in Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters—and for the last six years, it’s been the question driving everything in my life. 

Wellness—wholeness—isn’t something to take lightly. We can’t be who we need to be for ourselves and others if we are not well, and I know I’m not the only one on a journey to be my best self.

Photo: Kenneth Branson

Thriving matters. Entirely too many forces are at work against Black communities and other communities of color, attempting to keep us from doing just that. Whether it’s the systemic forces of racism as we attempt to ascend in our careers and educate our children or the trauma of painful breakups, loss and unfulfilled dreams, there’s always something pushing us to not be well. And, truth be told, sometimes those forces feel like they’re winning. That’s why Minnie asked Velma if she was sure. We have to make the decision to believe there can be a full and beautiful life that isn’t simply rooted in survival.

Moving through intense grief and trauma, I needed to discover that kind of life was possible—and I’m incredibly grateful I did. As theGrio’s new daily lifestyle, education and health writer, I now get to share stories that provide that same hope and inspiration to others. Through stories about us, we get to explore the truth about ourselves—what we’re going through and where we’re headed.

From conversations about our sexual, reproductive and mental health and everything in between, we will be able to make more proactive decisions leading to longer, richer lives. As we reckon with the adultification of our children in schools all the way to the state of Black professional and doctoral students, we’ll learn what the scholars in our lives need in order to thrive. And yes—we’ll also explore all things love and relationships and finally try those Pinterest recipes we’ve had pinned for the last three years.

I’m excited about the conversations we’ll spark here and the ways our perspectives will be challenged and broadened. But, more than anything, together we’ll find what we need to ensure that, when someone asks us if we want to be well, we’ll all be able to say yes.

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