Updated: May 28
Name: Syrretta Martin
Where do you live now? I'm a Native New Yorker. Born and raised in the Bronx.
Industry: Health and Wellness
What does it mean to you to have a voice?
Tapping into one's feelings, and seeing both the beauty and struggle of humanity. I truly believe that anything is possible if you fully surrender and align yourself with your purpose; live in your truth.
How did you find your voice?
I was very quiet and introverted as a child. It impacted my ability to use my voice but also gave me something much greater. My quiet nature imparted an insight that gifted me the ability to develop an empathic nature, truly seeing what's beyond the surface, tapping into one's feelings, and seeing both the beauty and struggle of humanity while growing up in the 80s in the South Bronx.
My healing journey truly began when I accepted myself as I am. It took a lot of unlearning and a deeper understanding of my power to choose and to use my voice to bring purpose to my pain. Acceptance for me was liberating. I found my freedom in choosing to embrace all of who I am with full transparency while prioritizing my health. I found value in my strength in knowing that I can thrive by tapping into the healing power passed on by my ancestors through traditional healing practices.
I also found my way back home through running. I come from a family of runners and grew up traveling throughout the Tri-state to my father’s races. He was a member of North Shore Track Club coached by Art Hall. He had dreams of making it on the Olympic team to represent his home country. My mom held the 100m dash record at her high school and my brother and I were coming into our own as high school track athletes. I admired my dad’s wall of trophies and metals as a little girl, painstakingly admiring every detail of his accomplishments.
I didn’t realize how embedded it was in my DNA until I went on my first run in years, after being diagnosed with a chronic illness. It felt like home. Every breath, every step, every mile felt familiar. I was running the same paths I did as a little girl in the peewee races and high school cross country. The same hills my brother and father conquered as well. It was as if I was tracing their steps, my steps, our dreams. Running isn’t something I can do right now because of the symptoms I’m experiencing. Everyday tasks are a challenge right now but I’m still a runner, hoping to get back to it someday. I miss it every day and
hope to bring a voice to runners of all abilities and disabilities, making NYC’s running culture more inclusive.
What event or series of events helped you find your voice?
I've learned so many wonderful things through some of the most challenging moments of 2020. I can still find joy, peace, and happiness amongst the thorns. Everything serves a purpose. Acceptance is liberating. It gave me the freedom to go within and bring to life what has been placed in my heart to do. There is purpose in your pain and your struggle can lead to your triumph. I am fully loved, supported, and seen by the people who I'm divinely connected to on my journey towards healing. Making time to prioritize my health is an act of self-love. I should never feel the need to explain to people how I chose to heal.
Self-love leads to a greater alignment to your purpose. Boundaries are an act of self-love. I am of mind, body, and spirit. My wellness requires harmony between all parts of me. The only time we have is the present. I choose to live in the moment and fill it with love, light, and good intentions. People will misunderstand you and that's okay. They weren't given your journey to travel through life with. Send them love and kindness anyway.
How did 2020 help you refine/redefine your voice?
The stillness of 2020 gave me permission to pause and reflect on what's truly important, without having the pressure of placing value on what I produced rather than my own health, healing, and happiness. It allowed me the space to be still enough to move forward with intention, bringing forth opportunities to rest, purge, grow, and try different healing modalities that fostered the most amazing relationships filled with so much love, support, and community. I'm truly grateful as it helped me to find my voice.
Whose voice are you influenced by?
My voice has also been shaped by my upbringing, growing up in the Bronx, my culture, and travel. I’m so grateful to have come from a long line of innately resilient and powerful women. I needed to tap into that strength and confidence that was passed down to me to realize the power of my voice.
How has your voice influenced others, particularly those in your community?
I’m the owner and founder of Collective Healing, a health and wellness community for women of color journeying towards healing by promoting health through kinship. There are very few, if any, health and wellness platforms that cater to the needs of women of color that honor our traditional healing practices. There are even fewer that make these practices accessible and affordable through curated healing spaces centered around sisterhood and facilitated by female practitioners of color.
We are a health and wellness community whose mission is to also use our platform to help address the intersectionality of living with a chronic illness and being a woman of color in America. We foster community and kinship by providing a safe space for women of color to discuss the highs and lows of living with health issues, chronic illnesses, or disabilities. Collective Healing is a space where women can connect, receive support, share experiences, exchange ideas, and feel empowered. A space where women can also connect with female practitioners of color through our offerings and services, promoting harmony between the mind, body, and spirit.
My professional background in the health and human services field as a social worker, and as a social entrepreneur, has given me the honor and pleasure of supporting women of many walks of life who face their fears and challenges every day with strength and courage. The women I’ve met along my healing journey have lifted me up, supported, and empowered me to keep going.
Where will your voice lead next?
This journey allowed me to find my true purpose as a healer. Giving voice to my experiences has been extremely freeing. Unleashing myself from societal expectations of who I’m supposed to be has led to many discoveries and meaningful connections with other women all over the world who look just like me who are also trying to find their way. This was all I ever wanted. I’m still healing myself and want to grow Collective Healing into a thriving sisterhood of support, love, and community. There are many wonderful happenings in the works for this Bronx girl from Caribbean descent. All I can say is, stay tuned and come journey with me.
Syrretta Martin is a MSW, Fibromyalgia warrior, runner, wanderluster, social entrepreneur, owner and founder of Collective Healing. She is a Native New Yorker who was born and raised in the Bronx. As a woman of color who has lived with a chronic illness for over 20 years, Syrretta learned first hand the challenges faced in managing health while navigating through life. Out of a desire to heal her own way, she birthed Collective Healing. Guided by both personal and professional expertise, Collective Healing supports, moves, and inspires through the power of sisterhood and shared experiences.