Sunday, June 21, 2015

From The Heart of a Daddy's Girl

Originally written for Women Healing Women it seemed most appropriate to share this article in a space that is driven by and for love. This is especially for all the adult daughters out there missing their Dads this Father's day.  

The Evans Family (L-R: Imani (me), Montsho (my brother), Renee Evans (my mom), and Rodell Evans (my Dad)

My dad and I were best buds growing up and remained so until his death in 1990. I certainly had a dichotomous relationship with my dad, who was the source of some of my pain as a child. However, my mind split the experience into tragedy and triumph in order to survive the pain and enjoy the part that worked. This is not uncommon for survivors and I am sure it will resonate for many of you.
My dad was super smart, well read and well-traveled. He taught me to question everything and to always be able to defend my intellectual position. He would engage me in debates, even when he agreed with me, just to ensure that I could effectively argue my point. Gosh, do I have some exes who would love to "thank" him for that one. LOL

I remember one day telling my dad that some boy said I was pretty. He looked at me with a very serious expression and said, "He's right. So what? Never be that impressed with that because you are so much more than pretty and he should admire you for all of it. Besides…boys will say anything to get what they want." And it was just understood that "what they wanted" meant sex. I appreciate my dad for that lesson because I have made everyone rise to that occasion because I internalized his words at age 13. It took me a while to bear fruit from that wisdom but the seed was planted right then.

This is an example of why dads are so critical to girls. They help us develop self-esteem with a balance of our masculine and feminine energy. Dads can leave a mark on his daughter's self-esteem that can carry her forward. He can help her turn inward for validation instead of looking for love in all the wrong places. 

My dad was not perfect, but none of that changed that he was my dad. I loved him...flaws and all. The day he died in Newark Beth Israel Hospital, a piece of my innocence died too. I miss him to this day and will think of him, specifically, on Father's Day--Rodell Evans. 

What I miss about my dad:
  • I miss being able to pick up the phone and share revelations about the mundane: Like an interestingly shaped tree, or something cool I learned about birds. My dad was fascinated with these things as much as I was...or least he pretended for my sake :-).
  • I miss celebrating big life events with him. When my dad was dying in the hospital I looked at him with all those tubes going into every orifice of his body and said, "Daddy, you gotta fight so that you can see my children when I have them." He looked at me with eyes of sadness and conviction; he slowly shook his head no--as if to apologize and answer me at the same time. I began to cry immediately because I knew he was tired and I had to accept his desire to stop struggling. My love had to be bigger than my selfishness to keep him with me.
  • I miss having a male honor my own sense of masculinity. We all embody the feminine and masculine principle. While my outward expression is without doubt feminine--which I love--I also enjoy my masculine side. My father appreciated that in me and didn't seek to make my "girlness" about ponytails and cooking classes. I loved that about him.
What I learned from my dad:
  • I learned that my intellect is as much my shine as is anything about my physical. 
  • I learned that learning should not be driven by the need for a degree or a credential, but rather it must be driven by the thirst for knowledge as a personal achievement.
  • I learned that to have friends all I need to do is focus on being a good friend.
  • I learned that no matter how many years pass, I will always miss my daddy and that my life has to find a new normal. 
To all the Dads out there--- make no mistake that your daughter needs you!
"Studies show that dads give girls 90% of their self-esteem before the age of 12, she says."What this means is that girls that grow up without a dad in the home, or one who abandoned them, are always going to be a little bit less confident and sure of themselves than peers who grow up with a dad in the home."  National Parents Organization
Happy Father's day to all the men and women who have stepped into the role of Father for you child/children. Whether you are an uncle, step dad, family friend or mentor. You will never truly know how important you have been. However, I thank you and honor you today and forever!

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Nya Akoma,
Imani Evans, MA
(404) 944-6409
(800) 503-7849

Monday, June 15, 2015

Action Changes Things!

Have you ever felt as if you were stuck in a rut? I have. There have been times in my life when I have felt stuck, cemented and confined by people, policies, places and positions.  A few times I felt so emotionally trapped by routines, responsibilities and relationships that I stopped growing, learning, loving and living.  I was emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually sinking, and I was sinking fast.

Thankfully some wonderful coaches and counselors helped me change the trajectory of my life and now almost 25 years later, I have learned a few things.   I have learned that self-reflection is the first step to personal transformation. Yes, I learned that I had to learn more about me. I learned that I had to learn who I was devoid of expectations, fears, traditions, norms and facades. I had to discover who I was outside of what everybody else wanted me to be.   Trust me, that was difficult; it required peeling back layers of my personality that I never knew existed.

For me, self-reflection was a painstaking process because I had to take off the masks and remove my disguises; I could no longer hide. I also had to stop acting, and the funny thing was --  I didn’t know that I was even acting. I thought my beliefs and behavior were self-directed; I soon realized that they were not. I realized that my beliefs and behavior were influenced by whole lot of people who didn’t know me, care about, support me or even like me. Yikes! What a wake-up call!

During my self-discovery journey, I was forced to analyze my history to identify patterns, themes and the orgins of my bad behavior. I had to understand why I  sabotaged my success, happiness, relationships and health. I was forced to evaluate my perspectives and define my truth, and honestly 25 years ago, I didn’t know I even had a truth. Imagine that.

I am not alone; many people are and have been in the same boat. Many people today are struggling or have struggled to understand themselves. Some, like I did, have and continue to struggle to find their purpose, accept their calling or even understand the need for transformation. Most successful people I know have been to THE place, the place of truth that helped them jump-start their journeys of personal transformation.  I call THAT place “Blessings at the Bottom” (Chapter 39 in I Have Learned A Few Things).

Yes, most of us have been to that the scary, unfamiliar and agonizing place that demanded that we become more self-aware.  I am sure that we all can agree that THE place is a challenging place but it is also an exciting place. It is a place of great promise, great purpose, great clarity and of great relief. During THAT place, we were forced to look closer, deeper and broader at the choices that we made or honestly consider the choices that we were failing to make. We removed our defenses and we became emotionally transparent to ourselves; we didn’t hide from our histories, failures, mistakes and secrets.  We became self-aware and as result, we were ready to embark on our new journeys, our journeys of personal transformation.

As we learned in the previous post, self-AWARENESS is the first step toward personal transformation. After you conduct a full life inventory and commit to continuous self-discovery, the second step on the road to personal transformation is ACTION. Yes, ACTION! If you want a different life, you must make changes; you must do something and many times, do a lot of “somethings” differently. As we say in the South, “you just can’t talk about it, you got to be about it”.

But even though we know we must do something, it is the “doing” that scares us the most. It is the “doing” that keeps up stuck, stagnant and stale in our lives. It is the “doing” that seems insurmountable, unfathomable and just down right undoable.  It is the “doing” that reveals our fears, unravels our resolve and makes us abandon our dreams. It is the “doing” that frequently stops us or makes us settle for relationships that are unfulfilling, jobs that are underpaying and lives that are unsatisfying. The “doing”, the failure to take action, is what limits our successes and negates our future.

So how do we address the “doing” so that it feels doable? I don’t know all of the answers but I have a few thoughts.
  • Get clear about what you want and who you want to be; determine your compelling WHY. Your WHY will create your vision, and your vision will guide and direct you. For example, when I started my healing journey, my WHY was that I no longer wanted to feel yucky inside. I was tired of feeling small, silent, suffocated and sidetracked. My WHY was not elaborate or deep; it was just honest.  More importantly, at the time that was all I could articulate but it was a great start. What’s your WHY?
  • Identify the resources that you already have and identify what you are already know. When I started my personal transformation, I knew that I had some money and I knew that I needed therapy. I knew that my prolonged feelings of malaise and sadness were not normal. I didn’t know too much more than that but knowing those few things was critical to me moving forward in my life.  So what do you already have and what do you already know?
  • Take a step, make a call, start a class, join a group or find support. I would say read a book but I have learned that reading books in isolation is never enough for sustained growth. Books provide concepts but an activity, practice or coaching provides the application. And to make the changes that you want in your life, you need both concepts and application. Just think about. You can read a book about swimming all day long but until you jump in the pool do you know if you can really swim? The same principle applies when learning new life skills. So, what are you doing to use, practice, apply or implement the knowledge that you are learning?
  • Don’t worry about understanding all the details. You may never know all of the details before you start a business, pursue your dreams or embark on a healing journey. Learn as much as you can and get started. No, don’t be reckless or careless; be calculating, prudent and analytical. But after you obtain as much information as you can, MOVE, DO, GO, BE, and TRY! Take action…..bold action. As you take a few steps toward your goals, more information, resources and support will show up. Trust me…I have been there.
  • Only focus on 3 – 5, preferably only 3, things that you want to improve or change at one time. Some coaches may disagree with me on this. However, from working with all types of clients, I have learned that personal transformation is challenging, and trying to do too much at once often becomes overwhelming. And what do overwhelmed people routinely do? They procrastinate or they QUIT! So, honor yourself. Organize your life and focus on a few things so you don’t fall out, fall down and fall asleep. Trust me, it happens.
  • Remember that success is a process, and sometimes a messy process. This weekend one of my mentors said something that resonated in my spirit. He said that “sloppy success is better than perfect mediocrity”. Wow…as we say in the Christian faith -  that was an on-time word. That phrase freed me! I now feel more creative, more committed and more courageous to pursue my own dreams. That little phrase empowered and embolden me to Soar Higher!
I encourage you to take Action! Never forget that motion motivates, activates and elevates. So get started because today is the first day of the rest of your life. And, don’t forget to get some support on your journey. If you need coaching or assistance, please feel free to call the Jamison Group.  We would love to provide you with support and guidance as you embark on your new life.

Always remember to DARE to SOAR HIGHER because You are ALWAYS worth your best!

(Reprinted from my upcoming book, I Have Learned A Few Things About Success)
If you are interested in being added to my mailing list, please click HERE. We would love to connect with you.

SharRon Jamison, MBA
The Jamison Group LLC
Life Coach, Author, Inspirational Speaker

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Happy Couple Highlights: Faloune and Gerri-Lynn Smith

Faloune & Gerri-Lynn
Atlanta, Ga.

Congratulations, I am always fascinated by how relationships start. So, where did you meet and what were the initial attractions? We met through a mutual friend and….
GerriLynn: The first thing I noticed was her almond shaped brown eyes.
Faloune: I noticed her beautiful smile and to this day it is one of the things I love about her.

You have been together for years. First, Congratulations. What advice would you give to other couples and why?  Both: There is no "I quit", no matter how hard/bumpy/unpleasant/uncomfortable the road may get; it’s you and her together... Figure it out.  Stay in the present, and make time for one another,

What made you know that it was time to get married and how will being married change your relationship? Both: For us, our wedding ceremony was an outward declaration to the world of our love and commitment to each other, and to finally join our families and have them witness our love solidified.

Getting together is easy. Staying together is difficult. You have weathered many transitions and storms? How did you manage and what was the hardest part?

Both: Pray together, know when to call a time-out and revisit the subject at a later time. The hardest part is being interested in things that don't interest me naturally, but liking them and eventually loving them too because she loves them and I love her.

How do you deal with and face challenges (family acceptance, money differences, etc.) that might come up in your relationship? Both: We talk/write them out and come to a mutual agreement-- together.
I know faith is important to both of you. How do you practice your faith as a couple and what role does spirituality play in your relationship? Both: Faith is a huge part of our relationship. We were baptized together on Easter Sunday 2007, and we walk our spiritual journey together. We listen to spiritual messages on our daily commute to work in order to ensure that we are spiritually armed and ready to face any challenges that the day may bring.
After so many years, how do you keep the fires burning? What role does sensuality play in your relationship? Both: We make sure we have set date nights and always have an activity planned that pertains to quality time and a common interest for us.
Every relationship develops relationship "rules” that support your union? What are your spoken and unspoken rules? And how did those rules form? Both: Absolutely NO going to bed hungry or mad ‐‐‐ one leads to the other.
No silent treatments -- use your words. Take a moment but use your words.
No disrespectful, "slang" talk; we are NOT "home girls.”
Always say "I love you" before parting; you might not get the chance to do so again.

They (rules) just naturally formed the more we grew into our individual selves and our relationship.

Every relationship challenges us in different way. What did you have to learn and un¬ learn to love her fully? GerriLynn: I had to learn that I am not the most important person in the world. Faloune: I had to learn that it is not always about who is right, it is about being respectful and honoring my love for her.
GerriLynn: To unlearn -- not to belittle and disrespect her when I get angry or if my feelings are hurt. Faloune: To unlearn -- not to be afraid of her love and that it is in fact genuine, she won’t hurt me.

What has your relationship taught you most about yourself?  And her?  GerriLynn: That I deserve to have a love like this and she makes me love her more and more each day. Faloune: That with God and her support I can do ANYTHING.... she is the very best person I know and I am blessed to have her as a friend, lover, comedian and wife.
What 1 word most captures her essence and your love? Faloune: Everlasting. GerriLynn: Unwavering.

It was such an honor officiating your wedding. When you think of your wedding day, what will you remember the most? Both: The moment that I saw her as I walked down the aisle and our eyes met and time stopped... we only saw each other.
What will be your legacy as a couple? Both: Love hard, laugh harder, and take care of each other and God will take care of you both.

We thank you for sharing your love with us at Create Love! Your story will encourage, inspire and uplift other couples. We wish you continued success and

 Create Love Founders

Imani Evans and SharRon Jamison