“There’s this sunflower in my backyard. No matter what gets in its way it always finds a way to get to the light. You’re like that sunflower.” My beloved friend Jane said that to me once. But I couldn’t see what she saw. Not yet.
At eighteen I got pregnant and married soon after that. I’d grown up in patriarchal, controlling environment which contributed to deep insecurity and feelings of disempowerment. I’d also been sexually abused as a child and didn’t understand healthy relationships, so I married a man who was very wounded himself. A few months after my first child was born I was pregnant again. This pattern would continue throughout my marriage and resulted in me having five children in seven years’ time.
As all this was happening I clung dearly to my dream of completing my education, and I held to that vision with unwavering faith. I attended school part-time and passed many sleepless nights studying, completing projects, and applying for scholarships to make my vision of graduating from college a reality. Seven years and five children later, I graduated with honors with a bachelor’s in education. That same year, I realized that I couldn’t continue in my marriage and after much inner turmoil I took my five children and left. I faced not only my ex-husband’s resistance, but my family’s and church's judgement and condemnation of my decision to get a divorce--particularly because I had five children. After several years of a contentious and at times dangerous process, I was finally legally divorced.
In the years since, I have become clearer about my own vision of working with young women and girls to help them heal and embrace their inner resources. I began a new career in holistic counseling and energy healing in order to offer these services to youth and women in the inner city of Chicago. I’m also passionate about writing, and I envision creating a sacred, uplifting and interactive space online that would connect young women of color throughout Chicago. Although Chicago is very diverse it remains one of the most racially segregated cities and this forum could build bridges of solidarity as well as provide mindfulness based healing tools, via for example, meditations, poetry, and videos. It would be an online space of hope and action.
When I heard of VOF after finding World Pulse online, I knew I needed to be part of this process. I understood at a soul level that just doing the weekly readings and writing assignments was going to help me in unforeseen ways. And if chosen, I would gain tools and experiences that could help me become a more powerful force in my community.
After my first submission I was struck by all of the courageous stories from women around the world. And I rejoiced in the realization that I finally saw myself how Jane had seen me, and that I was now in a field of sunflowers.