As a child my mother always taught me the tongue can wield a blessing or curse and hands can build or destroy. In the current state of affairs, violence, hatred and misogyny are the norm rather than an aberration. Mass shootings at churches and schools have become common events. While we all know what hate feels and looks like, in our pessimism did we forget how powerful being nice and blessing others can be? Imagine what our world would be like if each of us blessed someone every day. What would our country be like? What would our communities look like? What would our schools be like if we made being a blessing a priority rather than concentrating on negativity? Galatians 6:10 reads, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” That means be proactive in spreading goodness and blessing others. Our mindset should be, “Who can I bless today?” “Who needs a little love?” You can’t just sit back and wait for the need to come to you. About a week ago, I had the pleasure of blessing one of my biggest supporters, Clifton Lee by showing up to his dinner party as the surprise guest. Clifton recently moved from South Carolina to Dallas for a job opportunity despite some grave medical issues. Although he has a heart of gold, Clifton whom is only 23 years old is a dialysis patient who desperately needs a new kidney. All of his friends say not a day goes by that he doesn’t mention or speak about me. When his boss called me and shared his moving story, I knew I had to be there. Upon first sight, I knew my presence blessed him and his love for me made my soul smile. Watch and see for yourself:
As conscious adults, it is imperative that we are both tough and tender. While the majority of us succeed at one or the other by default, the challenge is being able to balance the two, depending on the situation and what would be most beneficial. Children are sensitive, scared innocent little people. They need certain essentials to learn how to be resilient, how to care for others, and how to turn failure into triumph. Positive self-esteem starts with positive influences, whether it be a parent, teacher, grandparent or older siblings. Children learn by observation and interaction. Regardless of a child’s age, it is imperative that they receive positive, uplifting words from their inner circle. 1. “I love you.” – A child could have a million toys but nothing can ever top the love received. Reassuring a child of your love for them lets them know they are valuable. These affirmations include love; promotes courage, healing, and brings joy. 2. “I believe in you.” – It is important for children to know that you believe in them. Knowing that they have a strong support system equips them to accomplish their goals and dreams. 3. “I’m so proud of you.” – Children need a surplus of affirmations and validations in order to develop a healthy sense of self. Children crave support and blessings, and direct most of their behaviors towards gaining your approval, love and acceptance. 4. “I’m sorry.” When you admit your mistakes to your children, you show them you are compassionate and empathetic. Being transparent shows them that no one is perfect. 5. “ I’m listening” – It is incredibly important to listen to your children so they know that you are interested in what they have to say. Through listening, you learn about who your children are on the inside. It connects you to their inner world and facilitates a sense of value. 6. “NO” – Sometimes the most loving and caring thing you can tell a child is NO. While children can always effectively communicate the need for rules and boundaries, they know “NO” means you are alert and present. Rest assured, they will not always appreciate hearing it at the moment but years later they will circle back and appreciate your clear boundaries. By saying NO to the wrong things, it allows us to say YES to the right things.
While people often want vastly different things, hopefully as women, we all share the common desire of wanting to improve ourselves and live our best lives. In order for us to achieve our desires we must first A) know exactly what it is we want. Secondly, we must B) be able to afford our desires or be willing to work for them. However, no matter which road we travel to get to our final destination, we should never be apologetic for wanting the best for ourselves. Historically, there was a time when women had limited choices but thanks to women like Susan B. Anthony, Billy Jean King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Harriet Tubman, Evita Peron, and Michelle Obama we can have whatever we like! These women all dared to be different and challenged societal norms. They were trailblazers who were not afraid of controversy because they saw the big picture and knew their work would open the doors for others to follow behind them. We must ask ourselves: Why do we criticize each other when we all want the same thing– to be better. Is there anything wrong with valuing yourself? Is it wrong to enhance your worth whether it be through plastic surgery, education, or hard work? I hope not because, if you don't value yourself and believe in your ability, who will? If you work hard you should be proud of your accomplishments. I will never be ashamed of my tenacity and commitment to education because I realize people fought and died so that I would have the opportunity to go to high school, attend college and graduate from law school. My journey, like most women, wasn’t easy, but it was what I wanted so I worked hard for it. Unfortunately, when women speak of their accomplishments they are viewed as arrogant or “their own cheerleader.” In reality we should all be our own biggest cheerleaders. It is always interesting to me that when men speak of their accomplishments they are characterized as being confident. Why should it be any different for women? I went to school for 20 years and maintained a job throughout my undergraduate and law school matriculation. No one gave me any handouts, extra help or preferential treatment. Hence, I will never be ashamed of my degrees, because I earned them. Slogans like “Mission accomplished, dreams realized, Girl power, sisterhood” will never be truthful as long as we continue to be caddy and critical of each other.
Relationships are an important part of life. When they are healthy, they can be satisfying; provide protection, stability and prevent loneliness. Unfortunately, even the best relationships can often be very painful. I was once told, “Ignore the risk and take the fall. If it’s meant to be, it’s worth it all”. This statement resonated in my mind because I think sometimes we forget that life is about taking chances; knowing when to go, but also knowing when to leave. While no one can live without any regrets, we all deserve happiness. Our experiences- whether bad or good- build our character and shape who we are as individuals. I would not be where or who I am today if it were not for those character-building situations that some of us consider “regrettable.” Mistakes are stepping stones to an evolving life. Ultimately, life is not about waiting for storms to pass but rather about learning how to dance in the rain. Xoxo, Phaedra