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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Raising a Girl in a Post-Oprah Show World.

I'm not what you would call an ultimate fan. I've never set my DVR to catch Oprah's Favorite Things Show. I haven't kept a gratitude journal. I've not read all of the book club selections (though I did finish the Anna Karenina summer challenge, thank you very much!) But, I am committed to living my best life. Like most women, I've grown up a witness to Oprah's spectacular impact on the globe. Her authentic personality, sense of humor, spirituality and commitment to improving the world around her - all undeniable. She has helped guests feel comfortable enough to tell their deepest secrets on national television, in turn viewers realized they were not alone. She's shared the darkness of her own life, and taught us that where we're from does not dictate how far we will go.

Oprah is an example of achieving beyond limits, and using your life as an instrument in the betterment of others. Moreover, along with our mothers, sisters, friends, mentors, etc. Oprah has taught us how to live with purpose and passion. Often these lessons we've heard before. They serve as a reminder of the sayings of our grandmothers and other wise women. The principles from which Oprah has built her platform offer simple rules about following our instincts, being in the moment and recognizing our boundless potential.

Watching the final season I was overwhelmed by Oprah's achievements, the inspiration she has been for others, and the humility she shows while being touted as an icon at the end of an era. I thought about the peaks of my own life and how much more there is for me to do. What will my legacy be, and how should I measure the achievements I've made so far? At times I live in my head and get all existential. I feel like I have not done or seen enough. Despite the blessings in our lives - successful careers, fantastic families, etc., many women wonder if we've made our mark. We look over the fence and imagine the grass to be greener, while taking our own lush lawns for granted. Often "normal people" look at Oprah and the life she has led and think that their triumphs pale in comparison, that somehow their wins don't matter as much. I was moved as Oprah encouraged her audience, saying "You are enough." As we are, with all of our flaws and favors, we are enough. We all deserve the most opportunity, love and happiness that the world can offer. As long as we are living with love and looking beyond ourselves, our contribution to the world is great. Big or small, whether we open a school for African girls, raise our daughters with beauty and strength, or take time to mentor just one child in our community; what we do and how we give back is important. A small ripple and a big splash both effect the tide.

This sentiment ... the knowledge that she is enough, will stay firmly planted in my thoughts as I raise my daughter. I hope to teach her to expect the best for and from herself and that still, even when she makes mistakes, she will always be enough.

Favorite Oprahisms for my growing girl:

1. You are enough. "Your being alive makes worthiness of your birthright."

2. Listen to the whispers of your conscience before they turn into shouts.

3. Your thoughts have ultimate power. What you believe is what will be. When you know better, you do better.

4. Forgiveness is the most vital part of healing. It does not free the assailant from guilt, but frees you to move forward with your life.

5. When someone shows you who they are believe them.

6. Passion is power. "Everyone has a calling. Your real job in life is to find it"

7. Who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down?

8. Pay attention to your instincts, they will keep you safe in dangerous situations.

9. Education is the most valuable gift we can give to ourselves and others.

10. Every now and then all girls need to have an ugly cry.

My own Aha Moment of the Day...
It's a grounding experience to hold my daughter, a baby girl who looks so much like me, and realize I have the opportunity to teach her things I've learned throughout life. Hoping she gets the important things right and avoids my missteps. It's like looking back at your own infant face and imaging how you'd do it, if you had the chance to do it again.

Friday, May 27, 2011

"Dark Girls" Documentary Preview

New doc by Bill Duke coming soon. The subject matter is not new, but still very prevalent in our community. I've been forced to face these issues most recently since my little brown sugar girl was born. The comparisons between her complexion and her fair-skinned brother have led me to jump to her "defense". People checking her ear color, etc. Sad, as we're all beautiful no matter the hue.

Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.