Today I’ve lit two red candles, for the blood of our people in honor of the two Nguzo Sabo considered so far. Today’s red candle is for Kujichagalia or self –determination. In many aspects of my life I have instilled and considered self-determination, especially during this past year. I visited self-determination during my extensive job search. As all of you know, this is no kind of economy to be on a job search but eventually with some intense perseverance I did find a few jobs. The first job really stretched me. It was with an internet up Start-up Company. My job was to help build a metasearch engine, specifically related to the topic of health. I was stretched at this job because it did not feed my artistic self. Working 40 hours per week, I found myself too tired to draw or write when I was off from work and relatively obsessed with ways to integrate artmaking and writing back in my life when I was at work. It was comforting that many people working with me were also writers but that was not enough of the food my soul was seeking. Several months in, I became terribly ill and that required me to not only quit that job but also to do some soul searching on how I came to be so ill and how I could correct the illness with which my body suffered. I became ill slowly and by the time I went into hospital I thought I was dying. My fever was 103.5 and I had incessant bowel movements, probably every 20 minutes. Terribly anemic and dehydrated I spent many hours hooked up to IVs and eventually had several blood transfusions. Come to find out, I have one of the irritable bowel diseases called Ulcerative Colitis. It took weeks and weeks and two visits to the hospital before I recovered. I can’t remember being as sick as that in my entire life but finally, ever so slowly, I did recover and am in remission. I began to think of the things that really feed my soul and brighten my spirit--things that have a positive impact on my sense of holistic health and well-being. Determined to get well and stay well, I changed my diet, studied up on Ulcerative Colitis and joined some online support groups. I also knew in my heart that I needed to re-activate my studio and begin some new art work for the healing to root. I also needed to envision and land a creative job that was closely connected to the goings-on in my studio. Fortunately, I was able to find such a job, teaching elementary and middle school children art, five days a week. This drawing featured today is one I did a few years back, using colored pencils. It reminds me of the state I found my colon to be in--perforated, abscessed, swollen and bleeding—when I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Still, there are beautiful, flourishing parts to my internal organs to match the drawing. I am determined in the coming year to have my organs heal and then remain whole and sound with the vibrant organic wholeness that exists in this Prismacolor pencil drawing.