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October 10, 2020

[EP003] How Increasing Selfcare Will Help You To Become A Powerful Parent Advocate


LaJoy Johnson-Law is a Ward 8 resident with a beautiful special needs daughter named Abria. LaJoy is heavily involved in the education landscape in D.C. and has served on several education boards such as  AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School, Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE) board, and Thrive by Five Coordinating Council as a parent member. 

Motivated by her advocacy for her daughter Abria and other children like her, she has also volunteered as a classroom paraprofessional at St. Coletta Special Education Public Charter School. LaJoy currently works at Advocates for Justice and Education (AJE) to continue her advocacy efforts for families who have children with disabilities. LaJoy holds an Associate’s Degree in Elementary Education, a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Phoenix.

The Importance of Advocacy Groups

[08:29] - Lajoy

So advocacy is just fighting for what you believe in and what happens is when you find a group of people or if someone refers you to a group of people that are fighting for the same thing you believe in, now you're part of an advocacy group. That's all it is. It's a group of people fighting for the same belief.

09:04] - Lajoy

So they give it to everybody is making sure that parents have the information and the tools and the resources that they need not only to advocate for their children, but we're advocating for children across the city.

Self-care Is the #1 factor in Mental HealthInsight from the episode

[14:26] - Lajoy

Is it that you love to do? Is it running? Is it going to the gym? Is it dancing? Is it hanging? Is it writing? Is it taking a nap? You know, literally saying, okay, from whatever time, for one hour, you take naps. Is it reading a book while  Is it creating a vision? I'm looking at my vision board. Is it creating a vision board? Is it drawing? Is it singing? Just whatever it is that you love to do that fills you up and that gives you that joy and that gives you that peace of mind because this is my thing. I have to stay, plan it for my peace of mind because I cannot as a bonkers,

Key Takeaways

  • How Advocacy groups can support you in getting the best for your child while nurturing your piece of mind

  • How to nurture your mental health

If you’d like to hear Lajoy’s favorite song “ Famalay” clink on the playlist below

Stay Connected

Lajoy Johnson

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=8650077

twitter- https://twitter.com/LaJoyLaw1

instagram- https://www.instagram.com/lajoylaw/

Website: http://www.lajoylaw2020.com/

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Genie 00:08

Let's get everyone. Welcome to the Parenting Cipher sponsored by Fempower Media. I'm your host, Genie Dawkins, the Parent Confident Strategist, and I help parents become more confident in navigating their children's disabilities so that they can reach their highest potential in life and in school. So today we are blessed with LaJoy Johnson-Law, who is a Ward 8 resident of DC who is in the house.

LaJoy 00:36

Hey everybody!

Genie 00:39

She has a beautiful special needs daughter named Abria. Lajoy is heavily involved in the education landscape in DC and if you live in the city, you already know.

LaJoy 00:48

You already know, all cities need help. Let's talk about it.

Genie 00:55

She has served on several education boards, such as the Appletree Early Learning Public Charter School, Parents Amplify Voices in Education, otherwise known as PAVE, and thrive by five coordinating council as a parent member. She's motivated by her advocacy for Abria and other children like her, she has also volunteered as a classroom paraprofessional in San Clemente Special Education Public Charter School. Lajoy currently works at Advocates for Justice and Education to continue her advocacy efforts for families who have children with disabilities. Lajoy holds an associate degree in elementary education, a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Phoenix. I mean, you made it.

LaJoy 01:45

I made it!

Genie 01:48

For all my parents out there who are like, "Oh, I can't, I don't have time. I have too many. I have too many kids." You could do it. I did it.

 LaJoy 01:55

You can do it. We are here to say you can. Yes, we can.

Genie 01:59

Yes, we can. Just have a goal, don't focus on the school, focus on your goal. For me, I had just had to leave my apartment because my electricity gets turned off living in my parent’s basement. I have my little boy at the time, he was like six months old on the bed. We're on this freaking pullout bed and we are and I am like doing work.

LaJoy 02:23

Yeah. I know, it’s so real.  I remember my bachelors. I was going through a divorce. Abria was born at a pound and six ounces. And so at this time she was three, but because she was born so early, we were just back and forth into the hospital, inpatient stays, outpatient visits. She was having seizures really badly. So it was just a lot going on. So I'm back and forth with Abria to the hospital. I'm going through a divorce. I've lost my job and what happened was my dad died and then he died from a stroke. Unfortunately, two months later, my aunt died from pancreatic cancer. Yeah. And then about two months later, my grandmother died of lung cancer.

LaJoy 03:07

And about two and a half months later, my cousin died in a really bad car accident. And then at the end of all that, I got a writ of eviction. Bad turned to worse. Little did we know like so we know struggles and it just went from bad to worse to more worse. And it just felt like, is it ever going to stop? Like Lord, are the barriers ever going to come down? It just felt like it would never end. But I thought about my daughter, my motto is one is prayer, but two, it's in my prayer. It's Lord, I'm putting Abria first, you have blessed me with this beautiful child and it doesn't matter what's going on in my life, I have to put the baby first. I don't know what else. That's all I know how to do. I don't know how to do anything else and I'm like, Lord, I'm putting Abria first. Can you take care of the rest? And somehow He has. We're actually still in the apartment.

Genie 04:00


LaJoy 04:01

Yeah, we are still in the apartment. It took me like two months, when it was a two months? No, it wasn't two months. It was like a month and a half. What I had to do was it's a shame in D.C. where you have to get to the brink of homelessness because once you get rid of eviction, that is a form of homelessness. Why do I have to experience such trauma? Why do I have to literally be on my last leg to receive any type of assistance? So I'm going around trying to get assistance for the rent and I mean, no, I mean, I don't know how many times I've been told no. Also all of this is happening right as I'm in school trying to get this degree, trying to do better because I'm like I want generational wealth for my daughter.

LaJoy 04:42

I want to be able to give her something. I want to be able to be in a position to provide for her. I want to be in a position to where  I can have my own. So that way I can do what I need to do for her and so just with everything happening, it was now like, I have to do this. It's like, Lord, can you take care of the rest? So I'm going around shopping the Little League. That's what it was called. Shopping my writ of eviction around saying, can you help my daughter and I please, and nothing. I finally got to Salvation Army. I think I begged that lady. I mean, I was in tears begging, please help me. She would like Ms. Law, do you have the documents? I'm like, I have the documents. I'm like I used to work for a non-profit that dealt with housing. So I know what I like, I have everything you need. She approved me within twenty four hours. What? I was like that wasn't nothing but the good Lord okay.

Genie 05:27

It's the good Lord but you know, you actually having the knowledge of where to go. We talk about resources. A lot of people just don't have it and they're just lost and then they get consumed by the situation and being hopeless, and that's like I used to work for the Department of Health and Human Services in D.C. We did with public assistance. Human and DHS. Yes, I work for DHS, for all my listeners who don't know, you know, okay, I work for DHS and they give employees a plethora of information to give customers.

LaJoy 06:05


Genie 06:06

However, everyone has given up the team. Everyone's not going to address what you aren't asking about and then everyone isn't keen into what is available. And I used to literally listen to people when they were coming  in front of me and I had a situation with the young lady and she had an agreement with her child's father and apparently his family guy has was like, why are you paying the rent?Where is that child support? She literally had eviction notice. She came in because she didn't even know if anybody could help her stay in her apartment. She came in because she needed to feed her daughter because he cut everything off.

LaJoy 06:40

Oh, my gosh.

Genie 06:42

So everything off. So when she came in, she's talking to me about this and I asked her a question about, do you have any other questions? She's like, I have an eviction notice. What do I do? What do I do? I said, wait a minute, hold up. I know you told me about it. I don't remember. Give me a minute. And by the time she had left, I had approved her so she can have her notice to take to the office because she needed that time to approve to pay her rent.

LaJoy 07:06


Genie 07:06

I gave her that the proof that she applied, the proof that she was approved. Then I asked her, so what are you going to do? She was like, I want to go back to school. I was like, well, public assistance. They can help you with that.

LaJoy 07:16


Genie 07:16

Fast forward four years later. I had walked past her and she's like Miss Dawkins.  I was like, Hey! How are you doing? How is the baby? How was her daughter. She said, I'm about to graduate from UDC with a teaching degree. I said, you better go ahead, girl, you better step and it all starts with knowing someone or a group of people to help you.

LaJoy 07:41

Absolutely. And you know what I say? Lateefa, I say there is an information sharing challenge in D.C. and I think people fear that if I share this information with you, will it affect me getting what I need? And I think that is a myth because what the help is based on each person is based on each situation. It's based on what's going on in that household. It's based on that household income, the way it's supposed to work. It's based on what is happening in that household.

Genie 08:13

In that household. And that leads to when we talk about advocacy groups, because you are a part of major advocacy groups. What are advocacy groups and how do they help parents?

LaJoy 08:24

Yeah, so one, I say this. I think we all can be advocates. So advocacy is just fighting for what you believe in and what happens is when you find a group of people or if someone refers you to a group of people that are fighting for the same thing you believe in, now you're part of an advocacy group. That's all it is. It's a group of people fighting for the same belief.

Genie 08:47


LaJoy 08:47

So one of the advocacy groups that Lateefa and I are part of is PAVE, Parents Amplifying Voices in Education. They are a nonprofit organization, but they have wrapped their arms around families and helped give a lot of families already have the information, but some families don't. So they give it to everybody is making sure that parents have the information and the tools and the resources that they need not only to advocate for their children, but we're advocating for children across the city.

LaJoy 09:15

And parents are determining what issues do we want to fight for this year? What are policies that we really want to focus on? What is something in education? We all have education, but education is really broad. So we have to break that down into exactly, okay, what are we advocating for during this time? During this moment? Mental health, for example, has been a major topic of discussion and topic of advocacy that they've been working on. Because Lateefa, you and I know that there is a lack of mental health resources and trauma informed resources in our schools and now more than ever with COVID and just with everything happening in our city and the nation, that there is so much trauma.

Genie 09:57


LaJoy 09:57

There's so much trauma going on all around us and so now more than ever, we're going to need those mental health resources. Why are we underfunding schools? Why are we not funding mental health training? Why are we not funding trauma informed support for our teachers and our students and our families and our schools?

Genie 10:16


LaJoy 10:16

And so when we're talking about advocacy, there is power in your truth. There is power in your story and when we all share that together, there is power in numbers.

Genie 10:29


LaJoy 10:37

So if you're out there advocating by yourself, guess what? You are not alone.

Genie 10:42


LaJoy 10:42

You are not alone.

Genie 10:43

You keep my support and you need support on the thing that you're advocating for. You are a person, okay? So you have feelings and you are experiencing the defeat. You're experiencing the frustration, you're experiencing the anger, but you're experiencing it by yourself in this bubble and there's no release and imagine if you were part of a group and realizing that you are not alone, that there are people who are going through the same thing you're going through and you get to relax, relate and release the B.S. and then be empowered and uplifted by people in this common thing that we're trying to get to move forward. You hit a wall. The group can help you break that wall.

LaJoy 11:27

Absolutely. It's a blessing to have a support system, especially with parents. I tell everybody, oh, Miss Law, she's an advocate for kids. She's an advocate for children with disabilities. She's an advocate for education. Before I am an advocate, baby, I am a mom. I'm Abria's mom,okay? I am a parent first and sometimes you're going to get overwhelmed, so it's a blessing if you're part of an advocacy group, you're not alone. You have someone there to help, if you fall down to help pick you back up.

Genie 11:59

Girl, you're getting support. You need support.

LaJoy 12:05

It's crucial, especially for our own mental health. We were preaching mental health, but our mental health matters as well.

Genie 12:11

It's key because we are like the captain ship. I am the captain and this ship, and at this joint go down. I go down as well.

LaJoy 12:19

Exactly. So I said this last week. I said I cannot pour into the community from an empty cup, you cannot pour into advocacy, you cannot pour into the community, you cannot pour into different organizations or things that are happening if your cup is empty. So we have to ensure that in this work that we are pouring into ourselves, that we make it a point to have some self-care. I go to the gym that is my mental health place. I was like, okay, COVID, have a seat. Corona Virus, have a seat. You are messing with our lives. You are messing with our health and you are messing with our mental health. Our babies can't go to school. I can't go to the gym. That is my mental health place and music. Music is my mental place too, but that is my mental health place. I mean when I get on that treadmill or when I'm exercising or when I'm in my Zumba class, it really just it just energizes me.

Genie 13:13

It is absolutely. That is one of my basis where I get to just chill and zone out for a minute.

LaJoy 13:19

Exactly. Going out like there's no advocacy, there's nothing there and I go to a gym that has childcare. I'm a single mom, so I have to be mindful of the things I can do and things that I have to wait to do. I like to we're going to speak life. It's not the fact that I won't do them. I may just have to wait to do them. So because I'm a single parent, I'm very mindful of, Okay, I need a gym with childcare. You'll have a sitter all the time, and I don't want me going to the gym depending on somebody else.

Genie 13:50

Right. And one of the things that I'm providing in the circle provides the parents is creating a holistic lifestyle, for ourselves and our children and for me, that encompasses your health, your mindset, connecting with yourself and your child. And will we talk about self-care, that is the thing going to the gym for me, is a space where I get to space out. Also understanding that to create a holistic lifestyle for your child and your family and yourself, you've got to start like you say, you can't work from an empty cup. What is it going to take to feel you? And then you can give me that by you.

LaJoy 14:26

And I tell everyone I'm like, what is it that you love to do? Is it running? Is it going to the gym? Is it dancing? Is it hanging? Is it writing? Is it taking a nap? You know, literally saying, okay, from whatever time, for one hour, you take naps. Is it reading a book while [inaudible 14:43]? Is it creating a vision? I'm looking at my vision board. Is it creating a vision board? Is it drawing? Is it singing? Just whatever it is that you love to do that fills you up and that gives you that joy and that gives you that peace of mind because this is my thing. I have to stay, plan it for my peace of mind because I cannot as a bonkers, I can't go bonkers and I'm a single parent. I have a child to take care of. If I go bonkers, what is that going to mean for my daughter? How can I pour into her if I am empty?

Genie 15:17

You have to find your thing. And let's be clear. Self-care is not. It can be but Lissie, it is not limited to. I get my nails done. I got to get my hair done. No. Self-care is that thing that brings you peace. For some of us, it literally could be reading a book with a cup of coffee. For some of us, it could be practicing gratitude. It could be going to the gym.

LaJoy 15:40

Absolutely. Whatever brings you that peace and guess what? If getting your nails done and done, if that gives you a moment of clarity and peace.

Genie 15:47


LaJoy 15:47

Keep doing it.

Genie 15:48

Keep doing it but add something else so it can be a daily thing.

LaJoy 15:53

Absolutely and you know, I just want to be transparent. There was a point in time where my cup was really empty. The story just shared with you all. I was empty like I had to my mom and my stepdad and my God, mom, they really had to come pick me up and they had to pour into me because I was so broken. And so I just want to say to anyone listening, if you were feeling broken, I pray that this conversation were pouring into you and to know that we are here for you and that we love you and we just encourage you to dig deep and find whatever it is, find it and just do it.

Genie 16:30

Just do it.

LaJoy 16:31

The universe, usually what you put out in the atmosphere will come back to you.

Genie 16:36

Is it clear? Everybody has moments of being broken?

LaJoy 16:38


Genie 16:39

Do you know you in a moment, you might not know this before. You might not know and literally I had moments because you can heal yourself but we are creatures of habit, especially if you are a giver and then you will find yourself back in that space of being empty and there's triggers. And I had several triggers, literally, Lajoy. I was cook for Cocoa Puffs. It didn't I know it because I literally had sleep deprivation.

LaJoy 17:07


Genie 17:08

I hadn't been sleeping for months because I had a situation where my daughter decided to leave. Right?

LaJoy 17:13

Oh, no.

Genie 17:14

But I'm out here with the X of my chest. Yeah, I had one hour sleep. So what? Yeah, I'm at work. I took the kid at school. I went to therapy but literally I awake be like hearing helicopter and my parents trying to help me, my mom like, yeah baby I hear helicopters, but I literally would be at home scared as hell because I feel like I was in helicopters and literally I was like, yo, the aliens, because I'm a sci- fi.  People yeah I love sci-fi. The aliens are coming to get me they are coming to eat me and I need to hide and the only reason why I didn't go class in was because I can't leave my babies out there. And if I put them in the class with me. They go think I am crazy. I am crazy so pull yourself together and go to sleep. But it was the moment I had told my girlfriend, I wrote the mayor about the airplanes. I want to know why I keep hearing helicopters. And she was like you, did you mail it? Yeah, I mailed it. I was like, really? Are you serious right now?

Genie 18:14

Yeah, I mailed it. She was like, I didn't you help me out. She was like, listen, you know, my best friend just got committed. And I want you to acknowledge at some point that you may need help. I don't want to see that to happen to you. So I said, Okay, I promise and a couple of days later, I kept hearing helicopters. I asked my son. He looked like, oh, so as a hit and run this Asar, I ain't  hear a helicopter, mom. You don't hear it? He would like no. So the look in his eyes, I was like, oh, he gave that confused look like, like what has happened? I asked him again, maybe fifteen minutes later saying, look, we go outside the house and I'm like, "you don't hear it. "And he was like, "Mommy, I don't hear it." And I'm like, oh, snap, you tripping. You need help. I had gone so far and to sleep deprivation guys.

LaJoy 19:05

Oh my God.

Genie 19:06

She become delusional and that was me thinking the aliens coming to get me, but then it becomes a physical like your body starts to shut down and people end up in the hospital. I was maybe out. I was like twenty four hours from shutting down. It just happened after I finished six, I went to the doctor my mom always liked you guys. So I went to the doctor and they told me that. But, you know, the point of this is one, I had support and even on my mom's try to support me because later I was like, Mama, why do you tell me you heard the blaze? She was like, well, maybe I don't want you think it was crazy.

Genie 19:38

But it was my friend who told me, I don't think in man you God, she's in Baltimore. I do not think you had planes and I need you to get help and it was her telling me that a friend of ours had just got committed and we're talking about mental health. When you're not taking care of yourself and you are not taking care or safeguarding your peace of mind, and you can be so focused on being the best parent,  providing for your kids and you're not taking care of yourself, that creates a really bad situation entirely for you. That was one of my empty moments. I had another moment where I'm crushing the game. I see how I keep going for me is always honest and –

LaJoy 20:22

Do as much.

Genie 20:23


LaJoy 20:24

We keep because it's like if we stop, everything stops, so we have to keep going. But then there comes a place where if you were not properly boring into yourself, you're going to shut down. I remember it was so bad. It was so bad. I would have. You can't see me, but I'm pointing to my chest. I had really bad chest pain, so I was going through really bad in my marriage. Abria was like, oh my God, I don't know if she was one yet. She was like a couple of months old. She had just gotten up in the ICU. She was in the ICU for like five, six months because she was born so early. I have this new sick baby. At the time, my husband and I, we were having issues and we just weren't seeing eye to eye and my chest.

LaJoy 21:06

I was like, oh, my God, I keep having this chest pain and it felt like I was having a heart attack and I couldn't breathe and I'm like, oh, my God, I'm like, I can't breathe. At this time I'm like, I'm like twenty four, maybe twenty three, twenty four, something like that. I go and I didn't have a car then. I called my Mom and I was like, "Sweetie, can you please take me to the hospital. I just feel like I'm about to pass out and I feel like my heart is going to rip out of my chest." So I went to the doctor and he's looking at me like all of your tests came back perfect. They did like EKG. I mean, they did everything okay.

Genie 21:39

Yeah. I had those moments.

LaJoy 21:41

He literally spent, I did three hours of testing everything, everyday and he looked at me and he said, I really want you to to stay overnight and I'm about two seconds away from calling the psych ward for them to commit you because he was like the level of pain that I was feeling in my chest. He was like, there's nothing physically wrong. He was like this is psychological and what happened was, I felt like he turned into a therapist at that moment and I just let it all out. I told him everything that was going on with my marriage, with my daughter, my job. I told him everything and he said, Okay, he gave me some medication for the chest pain because it basically it was my anxiety. My anxiety just literally took over and when you said sleep deprivation. That was another thing. My body was on the way to shutting completely down because I wasn't getting any sleep. I was literally up all night with Abria. We're back and forth in the hospital. I'm going back and forth to work.

LaJoy 22:41

It was just a time I couldn't sleep. It wasn't when you have sick children. It was just I was back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, up with her through the night. I remember one time I don't think I got to sleep like twenty four hours. I literally watched her sleep because I wanted to make sure she was breathing because I'm afraid that she would just stop breathing because she was on a monitor and oxygen. I was afraid that the monitor would go off and I need to be able to hear it. I need to be able to see her. But in that, I was on the way, thank God I am on the hospital because I probably would have passed out. I was on the way or giving myself a heart attack.

Genie 23:15

I felt that. For everyone out there who is familiar or not familiar with anxiety, one of the main things with anxiety is that you are always planning. So, for all PC your for social media. In the real world, they make anxiety thing like, oh, you're scared, you're scared. Real talk , anxiety is and I fully one hundred and fifty percent believe, all black people do. We have anxiety and it's the only thing that has kept us safe in this world, period.  Is the anxiety and the planning ahead, planning what's next and always running what if scenarios. That is what anxiety is. What if, what if, what if and what happens is you try to control your anxiety by planning, but the main word is control. So you watching her is you, I don't trust these machines. I am controlling it. I know my baby for my son, I literally wait. Are you breathing?

LaJoy 24:12

Is the chest moving?

Genie 24:13

In all actuality, we can't control if they're breathing or not breathing. The anxiety, that is how it shows up and how it manifests

LaJoy 24:22

And miss something. So let me just be here or planned to be here. It's trying to control the things that you have no control over.

Genie 24:31

That's what it is and trust and believe. It is not a bad thing, but we need to be aware of it and my mom is a what if, I look at how I live my daily life, especially with black children and black boys, the conversations. Where is that coming from for black people? We not open up our windows. Why you try and look at my house? Why are you looking at me? Why are you -

LaJoy 24:52

Because we are trying to see what happens in this house stays in this house.

Genie 24:57


LaJoy 24:57

But it's gotten to a point now and I had to get to a point. I have to go talk to a therapist.

Genie 25:02

And that's why. For us, to talk to therapist is hard.

LaJoy 25:05

It was so overwhelming and I remember my therapist. Oh, my gosh, I miss her so, so, so much but I actually had and I'm an African-American woman.

Genie 25:16

Me too.

LaJoy 25:16

And I felt calm with her. I felt that I could really tell my truth and tell how I truly felt without her judging me, because at first, I went to one therapist and they were not a person of color. They were a female and there was actually nothing wrong with her. She was actually really amazing, but I felt that do you really understand my struggles? I need someone to really understand my struggles to be able to help guide me? And then she was talking about, Well, Ms. Law, we can talk about medication. I'm like, I don't need medication. I need resources and tools and information to be able to navigate this thing. I'm overwhelmed and I need someone to help me figure out how to not be so overwhelmed.

Genie 26:02


LaJoy 26:03

Because it's a lot happening.

Genie 26:05

I was blessed with a black sister out the box and to have someone push back, what would you think is happening, let's say that's not happening. What is your point of view? Is your perspective?  It all goes into your mindset and then be able to release all those things that you actually had from yourself that you're doubting yourself. At one point I had my doubts high and literally I was doubting the choice because my husband and I separated and I was like, oh, am I want to be with myself? Oh, because I want to have this. Oh, you're so excited about this baby, because I never had that going on. But there was this well, she was like, well, girl, who is it that is even ever going to happen to you? And that was what your life story is. And I was like, what would you sort of say? But it may at that she said that I was like, well, she's right.

LaJoy 26:51

To introduce a completely different perspective and I'm like my therapist as said she said literally, you really especially just with everything happening. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and it's called adjustment disorder and you all can look these at DSM five, the Diagnostic Manual for Mental Health Disorders, the fifth edition. At first I was like, she's talking out the side of her neck. There is nothing called adjustment disorder, shall, I went and looked it up. It was right there in the book. I was like, oh, my God and I went through a denial period where I was like, well, am I crazy? No, I'm not crazy. I'm overwhelmed

Genie 27:32


LaJoy 27:32

And it's okay to say I'm overwhelmed because as women in particular, to be even more specific, as black women, we're carrying so much weight. We're carrying so much. And just with women in general, there are many of us that are carrying these loads, a lot of us by ourselves and that can be overwhelming sometimes. So it is okay to say, you know what? I'm going to pour into myself by getting a therapist. I'm going to pour into myself by making sure my mental health is okay, so that way I can be here for my children. That way I can be here for my family. Or I know there are a lot of individuals that are caregiver, that are taking care of elderly parents or maybe taking care of a sibling or a nephew or, you know, to be able to make sure that I'm Okay. So that way I can pour and be there for my family.

Genie 28:23

For your family. The other back end of that is I have experienced so many caregivers coming to the public service office and they were taking care of an elderly relative.

LaJoy 28:34


Genie 28:34

And but they quit their job. They stopped taking care of themselves. So they had nothing. So now they weren't pouring into themselves and now it's beyond broke. They're at the bottom of the cup. The cup has already been broken. Now, is there just that last drop of water, they're sitting in that empty cup and that's broken and they're like, what do I do? And it's important to know that even with your children depending on variant of your child, they are a gift to you to take care of and nurture. But they are not yours. So they will leave and trust them and leave that to the kids. And my daughter left way before I thought she was and I was all up in my feelings, even to the extent of abandonment.

LaJoy 29:15


Genie 29:15

Right? Because you had this attachment to your children and we talk about also my daughter, my daughter. When you're in these arguments with people, you mine, mine, mine, mine, mine doesn't lead to you 18. Mine does not lead to them. Even if you taking care of your mother, you know, even though you know she's going have to pass is still my mom, my mom. But we have to be understanding and really put emphasis on everything is temporary. There always will be that even if your parent passes, they'll be with you in spirit. But you are here. You are the constant. So what are you without them? And that's that part where we're talking about get your therapy.

LaJoy 29:58

Oh, my God. That is a word because I remember when I was going through my divorce, I was so lost and I was so broken. I mean, and I just want everyone to know out there, if you have ever been through a divorce or if you are going through a divorce, that is a form of loss. And so when we say loss, loss can be through death, loss can be through divorcing, loss can be through a child leaving, whatever it may be, it is a loss. And in that loss, you have to go through the grieving process. There was grief there and I remember just feeling so broken and so empty, like, what am I going to do now? All my hopes and all my dreams and everything that I wanted to do was attached with someone else. And then I had to learn the lesson. One, you teach people how to treat you. Hello. Hello. One or more time for those in the back who didn't hear you.

Genie 30:57

You have to teach people how to treat you. People only do to you what you allow them to do. My therapist really had to draw that lesson into me. I finally got it. Thank God. It took a little while because I was really angry.

LaJoy 31:10

I was so angry. And she said, but again, we cannot account for somebody else. We got to account for us and our actions and what we are responsible for

Genie 31:22

Is you can become I mean, use the word consumed or to use the word entangled?

LaJoy 31:29

Right. I know that was hilarious. I love all how the correction was made. He said, I'm going to need you to explain.

Genie 31:37

If she still wouldn't say, but we don't go there. We're not going to be so consumed with or entangled with your partner yet you lose yourself .

LaJoy 31:48

Exactly. Through someone else and the key word is my identity, self-esteem you cannot love and this is my personal opinion. You cannot love someone else properly if we do not love ourself first so it is okay to love your children. It is okay to love your husband or your wife. It is okay to love your parents. There are different forms of love. We'll talk about that another day. There are different forms of love, but maybe you can also have self-love. You can love your mom and love your children and still love yourself. This is not and either or. This is. I love my mom. I love my dad. I love Lajoy, I love me, I love my friends, but this is how I choose to be treated, this is how I choose to live my life, this is how I choose to take care of my mental health. This is how I choose to take care of my household.

LaJoy 32:44

In my apartment. I literally have flowers in almost every room. Flowers make me so happy, especially white roses and pink roses and yellow roses. I love roses like the queen of the gold. I just love it. It brings me so....It's I think is the most beautiful thing ever and in my apartment, I'm looking at it right now, it's so peaceful and that's what I like. That's what brings me joy. I had to literally that I'm in the same apartment that I'm in when I was married. I had to cleanse my apartment. I had to pray over this apartment, and then I completely redecorated the apartment, including upstairs.

Genie 33:26

New life.

LaJoy 33:27

And there's flowers everywhere and that makes me happy. When I look out as so many flowers in here, it makes me happy and so my advice to you all. Do what makes you happy. It is okay to love your children, but it is also okay to love yourself and if you feel that you are, if you feel that you know what? I'm broken and I don't love myself. Guess what? We love you. I love you. Lateefa loves you.

Genie 33:50


LaJoy 33:51

You're loved. You are loved. You just got to really dig deep. We all had that place where we're at a crossroads. What choice are we going to make now? Am I going to continue to do what I'm doing or am I going to make the choice to do something else? And that choice can be I remember one time the depression was so bad. I didn't really even want to get up out of bed. It was so bad but one day I was like, no, let me put a little makeup on today. Let me put on a outfit that makes me feel pretty. Let me go take a drive. Let me put Abria in the car and we're just going to go drive and what happened was those little things, small thing, these are small things. They add up fancy existence, they add up and one day you're going to look up and go, oh my God, I made it.

Genie 34:32

Yeah. I want to segway into the fact that you are running for the Board of Education, because we just talked about briefly we talked about how you have been on advocating reform of education as a parent, but now you're running for the Board of Education. So can you explain to everyone, for those who don't know what we think we know, but we really don't know all the tea, what is the Board of Education do and why do you want to run?

LaJoy 35:04

Yeah, so first of all, I'm just humbled and honored to even be running. It took me about five months to make the decision so I'm running for the State Board of Education in DC for the Ward 8 seat and what happened was I was talking to my mom and I still the story I asked my mom, I'm like, Mommy, what were we talking about? She goes, Lajoy, I don't know. You were talking about something and how parents were not involved. It's not like me. We just be talking. We were on a dining room table and I was like, Mommy, this is outrageous. I'm like, I'm just so tired of it. Why are they not including families? Why are they not including families, period. And she asks me, she said, Lajoy, have you ever thought about running for anything?

LaJoy 35:54

And I said, No, Mommy. I was like, no. I was like, that's not something that I've ever thought about doing. I'm finishing up this Masters. I'm going to take six months off and I'm going to go get my PhD and policy. She was like, okay. I was like, Okay so this was like October. So November rolls around and I heard that the current state board of Education representative was going to be running for at large. And I was talking to a friend and I'm just like, oh my God, that's amazing. They're taking it to the next level. Who is going to fill that seat? And my friend goes, Oh, my gosh, Lajoy, you should do this and I'm like, Do what? You should run. No, I'm going to tell you, like I told my mom. No, I'm going to take six months off and took in my PhD. This is my plan. No one is going to break my plan. No way. Okay don't be sitting up. You're breaking up my plans. I have plans. I'm going to be Dr. Lajoy Johnso-Law. Well, what happened was my friend called some other folks who are mutual friends and they ganged up on me. They did an intervention, the straight-up up intervention. And I'm like, what is wrong with you all? No, no, no, no, no.

Genie 37:17

Universe was talking to you.

LaJoy 37:19

I felt that now and I'm like, no and so I was like, you know what? Let me pray about this. I'm like, everyone keeps bringing this up. Let me really pray on it and I said, Lord and I was like really specific in my prayer. Lateefa, I ask the Lord, I'm like, Lord, I need this to be simple. I don't need a sign. I just need you to straight up tell me if you want me to run for the state board of Education for Ward 8, like I need to hear you and I need those exact words. I was so specific. I said, because if it's not coming from you, then I can't do this. We're talking about soul. There's over sixteen thousand children here. That's families is over sixteen thousand souls. That's a big deal. That’s a really big deal. The Lord is going to hold me responsible if he has me in this position. The community is going to hold me accountable, so that's a big deal. Child, I woke up out my sleep when the Lord tells you something and it's just I mean, woke you up. I want you to run for the state board of Education and you know what I said? No.  And then another friend had called LaJoy, I heard you're going to run. I was like more I got spreading rumors.

LaJoy 38:35

I was like, no. And finally I was at an event and it was an education event and I looked around the room and the lack of parents, the lack of families and the lack of black parents.  It just touched me in a way. And I said, Okay, God, I know you've been telling me this for a while through everyone and waking me up out of my sleep. I hear you. I was like, all right, okay. I was like, this isn't going away and what happened was I said, Okay, I'm going to do this. I went down to Board of Elections, you know, trying to get my bearings to see what is it all. It's my first time. I'm completely new to this. Got the paperwork and then I was like, you know what? I'm still going to say, no. I had the paperwork and then file it.

LaJoy 39:18

And finally, in the end of January, I was like, you know what? I'm going I'm really going to do this. And I made the announcement in February and for the first time in a really, really long time, I feel like I'm at the right place at the right time, in the right moment. I am running because I want my Ward 8 families heard. I want a special education to be paramount and parallel and the education conversation because it's often forgotten about. And I want all of our children to have access to an amazing high quality education. Our zip code should not matter about the quality of education we receive. The quality of education should be paramount and high period. But we know that's not the case, so I'm going to run. But this isn't about me. This is about every single family in Ward 8.

Genie 40:07

So I want you to share with the listeners, of course, it will be in the show notes, but share with the listeners one. How can we support you? So far all of my cipher people who are in the DC Ward 8, how can they support you and win in the elections? And where can we find.

LaJoy 40:24

Yes, okay, so everyone in Ward eight, the election is Tuesday, November 3rd. So vote Lajoy Johnson-Law. You all can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at Lajoy J. Law and as far as donating, anyone can donate so you don't have to be in Ward 8. You don't just have to be in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, just anywhere like anybody can donate to the campaign. This is a family movement and so I need everyone's help with getting families to the decision-making table. We are in this together, but you can donate at www.lajoylaw2020.com.

Genie 41:16

You are doing the best with what you have. Remember to be patient with yourself and your child. Please subscribe and check out the website www.theparentingcipher.com for additional resources from this episode.

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