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Still I rise Sis, When We Rise

International Women's Day is around the corner and I'm finding that it resonates more deeply with me each year. March is my biz-a-versary month and I'm feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the women in my life, past and present, who have not only made my business possible, but shaped my life in such meaningful ways.

To the teachers, colleagues, mentors, friends, and female family members who have absolutely buoyed me over the years: I honor you. I thank you by striving to honor each of you- and the power of all women- through my work. You inspire me and in turn, I have made it my mission to empower families through the art of conscious transformation.

One of the sweet synchronicities happening for me right now as I enter my sixth year in business is that I just signed a contract to design and deliver a six month program that will empower women right here in Oakland through twice weekly personal development and entrepreneurship workshops.

In collaboration with a phenomenal non-profit called Urban University, the City of Oakland, and a small team of leaders, I get to put all that I've learned while healing myself and building a multi-faceted business in service to empowering other women to do the same. It humbles me with gratitude and awe.

When the founder of UU, Tracey Weaver, and I decided to formally announce the Single Mama's Sewing Collective on International Women's Day this coming Monday, it felt big. We've been working toward this project for years.

The decision to announce it on Women's Day came on the heels of a conversation acknowledging the tendency of many women, especially those with access to fewer resources and especially those recovering from trauma, to view other women as competition instead of potential collaborators. It takes effort and safe spaces to unlearn and relearn. Effort and safe spaces take resources.

We acknowledged that working collaboratively, especially with those who think and operate differently than we do is a skill. Skills can be learned, but the chance to do so is a privilege based in access to opportunities that expand our own frame of reference. I've been so fortunate to have this privilege. Part of my responsibility, and our responsibility as women, is to pay it forward.

Let's remember that the success of other women benefits us all. Let's reach out and offer help if we can. Let's turn around and accept help when we need it.

Let's conspire to lift each other up. We're in this together, sis.

So, today the only other thoughts I want to share with you this week besides my deep gratitude for all the roles you fill so well, dear women, are two poems:

1) Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

2) A poem I wrote in honor of Maya Angelou the day she passed. She is my favorite poet and her work carried me through some dark times. I had the honor of reading this poem aloud at my graduation ceremony six years ago and was filled with the same awe I feel today when I looked up to see tears in the eyes of so many that I love and admire.

Written for and with the help of the late, great Maya Angelou:

I awoke this morning

from another night

of epic journeying

prefaced by the warm caress

of your familiar voice

that echoes

in the catacombs

of my mind

echo, echo, ECHO

as I sleep

as I write

as I lay

as I weep

as I laugh

Ohh, how I laugh-

when they say it's all okay...

because it's so much more

even when it never was

Because they don't know

that we know

it is the breath between our words

that lives to meet the wise stars

which watched our birth

and await our death

each of us a small drop

like the blood of the earth

"Just give me a cool

drink of water 'fore I diiie

Oh pray my wings

are gonna fit me well

and still I rise"

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