Born and raised in KCK, I attended the University of Kansas and completed a degree in Music Therapy in 2019. As a music therapist, I get to interact with many wonderful folx: growing preschoolers, incarcerated adults, seniors, and even caregivers! Developmental disabilities and diagnoses including but not limited to autism, down syndrome, PTSD, aphasia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression are very familiar to me.
Regardless of the diagnosis, a common need I often encounter among each session is the desire to build a healthy sense of self-identity and empowerment among one's community when living with a specific diagnosis or condition. Sometimes it is not a medical or psychiatric diagnosis that keeps us from reaching these goals, but instead, societal constructs and difficult challenges that life (or our structures) deal to us. As a black female, I have witnessed and can strongly identify with these kinds of challenges. And while I've always had a passion to live in a way that honors who I am for myself and within my community, it took a special friend of mine to really show me the importance of loving yourself throughout this ever going journey:
In 2020, I lost one of my best friends to depression and suicide.
Henry Setton was a wonderfully vibrant Brazillian musician studying violin performance in the U.S. He and I would spend a lot of time together practicing our instruments after classes, talking about our passions and fears for the future, and even working on music therapy interventions together in our free time. He saw every opportunity as a time to show his authentic self and could be found spontaneously crafting operatic songs or new compositions on any instrument close-at-hand. His creativity did not stop at music either - in everything, he found a way to let the world know that it was Henry doing things in a Henry way - the day he would let another force him to fit into a molding that was not his own was the day that pigs could fly.
He also was a wonderfully vocal advocate for embracing one's authenticity. He loved everyone - no matter their gender identity, spirituality, religion, sexual orientation, differences in physical ability, visual appearance, race, ability to play instruments, mental health condition.....you name it. He took the time to learn about other people's cultures with eagerness and gratitude. Even though he interacted with and embraced the individuality of many others, he would oftentimes reiterate that "you have to learn to be okay with being by yourself," which makes so much sense.
You are the only one that can walk your life path. Because of this, it's important that you know who you are outside of what the world wants you to be. Sometimes knowing and proudly showing who you are can be a lonely path, but it is by standing in that authenticity that you show others that they can do the same and also create a healthier, more welcoming community for themselves and for others not yet able to embrace their individuality.
When Henry left, I was already deep into the task of further embracing my authenticity, but felt it was time to carry the torch in a more active way and share that opportunity with others via community-based music therapy services. This is how Bee You Music Therapy was formed. When you love who you are, a whole new world of health and opportunity becomes attainable, and working in that powerful space has a wonderfully impactful effect on our loved ones.
Why "Bee?" Well, I feel that the bee comes pretty close to representing the life lessons Henry showed me:
Embracing the brightness that makes us who we are even when others want to dim or change our light.
Using that brightness to create resilience to help us fight against whatever challenges lie ahead - even challenges deemed impossible.
Taking that brightness and resilience back to your community so others can see that they too have these traits in their own special ways.
Just like bees, while the intent is to build a strong community within your "hive", their work impacts the WHOLE WORLD. When we strive to better ourselves via inner work, the result creates a community of people who flourish and thrive amidst an ever-changing world. This is what Bee You Music Therapy hopes to accomplish one musical encounter at a time. If you want to embark on this journey too, I'll be only a buzz away!
Bee successful and make great choices~!
"Don't let anyone or anything change who you are, because you are amazingly unique."