Saturday, February 19, 2011

Baby Steps Can Lead to Better!

I was living a mental and emotional hell I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. After experiencing the unexpected death of my fourteen-year old son, Blease in 1995, my life as I knew it no longer existed.

Prior to his death, I had experienced an explosion of personal and professional growth as I created my management career with Marriott Hotels. With committed effort and the help of many mentors along the way, I worked my way up from an hourly position into a management with Marriott's Courtyard division, eventually landing a GM's position with its Fairfield Inn division in 1995. I celebrated the fact that I had beaten the odds that seemed against me as a teenage mother. Six months after my promotion, my son died.



Nothing in my past prepared me for the emotional rollercoaster my life would travel as a result of my son's death. My life seemed to nosedive. When I crashed, I felt like a boxer laid out on the canvas by a sucker punch. Slow to get up, I pulled over to the sidelines and became a spectator of life. I felt lost without a specific purpose or plan for my life.

With no passion or zeal for life, my drive and persistent mentality fizzled into a emotional complacency and the acceptance of the "status quo". I wandered in a spiritual wilderness, camping out at Mt. Misery and began to major in daily "pity parties". There I remained until 2001, when the birth of my godchild, Jamya provided me with the opportunity to give and receive unconditional love.

During the first twelve months of Jamya's life, I became absorbed in every new phase of her development. My observations of her ability to learn how to smile, turn over, crawl, hold a bottle, sit up, pull herself up and stand eventually stumbling her way into walking and running became moments of celebrations. Along the way, the love we shared began to slowly tear down the wall I had built around my heart as a result of my son's death.

Throughout her first year of life, I often pondered if I could regain the fortitude Jamya displayed as a baby to press past the mental and emotional barriers that seemed to have held my life in shackles. Could I, like Jamya, learn how to get up and move on with my life? I was in a place of quiet desperation. Jamya's life was in perpetual motion. Sitting on the sidelines as a spectator was not nor could it move my life forward. I had to figure out how to get back in the driver seat of my life.

Into the second year of Jamya's life, I stopped majoring in "pity parties". As Jamya gained confidence in her ability to walk and run, I began to renew my faith in God and in myself. The renewal of my faith increased my confidence that I could move on in life and connect to a greater purpose for my valley experience. I was encouraged by scripture that all things would eventually work together for my good.

I began to take small steps, becoming a member of Toastmaster's International, returning back to college, and volunteering at local day care center in Wilmington, NC, these actions helped me to create the momentum necessary for me to move my life from dwelling in a place of pain into taking responsibility for how I would allow this experience impact my life.  Preparing for a Toastmaster's  speech assignment, I came across Napoleon Hill's quote, "within every failure, heartache and adversity lies the seed of an equal or greater value," his words watered a core belief within me that my pain had a greater purpose then what I could identify at the moment.

With the encouragement of my Toastmaster's club members and a greater self-confidence, I begin to organize my speeches as chapters for a self-help book, during this process I became conscious of a pattern of behavioral habits that had empowered me to rise above the odds stacked against me as a housekeeper with Marriott to become a General Manager with the company AND the same proactive steps served to help me get my life back on track after the journey I'd undertaken after the death of my son, Blease. I eventually organized these steps and termed them the DRIVE5 Advantage Empowerment Process. The empowerment products and services currently available through my company, The SaySo Group are based on this process. Indeed, my pain had a greater purpose. It was not until my heart was open to give and receive love to and from others was my soul awaken with this pattern of habits that had for so many years been intuitive hunches. Today, I share these steps in empowerment workshops and seminars increasing the capacity of individuals to Own Your Power!

Jamya is nine years old, presently in the fourth grade. As March 13, 2011 approaches, I remain in awe of the impact her life of a decade has had on my life. My love for her continues to be like a sponge, absorbing everything that pertains to her development and well-being. Nothing could ever separate me from the love that we share. Inspired by wings of our love, I got back in the driver seat of my life. Inspired by love, I have been fortunate to locate the Divine plan and purpose for my life. Full of passion for life, I continue to stir up the gifts within me so that I maintain my audacity to hope and stand in my faith as I pursue the work of empowering the personal and professional lives of others. I am convinced that the Lord in His wisdom provided me with the love of Jamya, knowing that only unconditional love could bring me back from my brink of emotional despair. This life-altering experience provided me with an enduring truth: LOVE never fails.

It's Your Move~Aspire Higher