Stretch Out, Rise and Choose to Improve Your Life

May 29, 2020

SOAR (Stretch Out and Rise) is based on the challenges and obstacles I faced while living in the deep South (Marion, South Carolina) encountering prejudice and racism, being an adolescent and teen having to discover survival skills in public housing, and as an adult working in the rural and urban parts of South Africa.  

From an early age, I had to face and overcome many personal challenges and obstacles. With each one, from youth to adulthood, I had to discover ways to confront, overcome, survive, and persevere. I was confronted with limitations and had to make an individual, independent, and isolated decision, either to give-up or manage it to the best of my limited ability. Some of the disadvantages I faced were social, financial, and plain lack of understanding. I knew if I wanted to experience and achieve specific things in life, I could not give up. I had to find ways to keep moving forward. So many times, I had to do it alone, without involving family members or friends. 

After spending some time working in the “Bush” (rural parts of South Africa), I witnessed the determination of the Black South Africans’ commitment to improving their circumstances. This led me to the decision to write my book, SOAR Beyond Your Limitations. Combining my personal journey of 1) Being reared by my grandmother in the deep south, 2) being an adolescent with two older brothers being reared in a problematic public housing community by a single female parent 3) being an adult struggling to earn a college degree 4) dealing with the politics and various forms of diversity in the workforce and 5) working and interacting with poor Black South Africans, pushed me to the word and meaning of SOAR. 

SOAR is about doing what is required to improve YOUR life and lifestyle. SOAR is about maximizing your capabilities. SOAR is about taking the required actions to transition your dream, mission, or goals into reality. SOAR is about stretching yourself beyond what you are doing, to what is intentionally needed and required to better yourself and your lifestyle. SOAR is all about choosing to move forward to improve your life and to live a lifestyle that is safe, healthy, productive, and successful on your own terms. 

-Derius Swinton, M. S. W


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