As I mentioned here, I was super excited to go see Iyanla Vanzant at the Apollo Theater for the WOW (Women of the World) Festival last Friday. Let me tell you sweetie pie, she did not disappoint! By the time Ms. Vanzant finished her entrance and introductory exercise, my money had been well spent. I was so satisfied with the first ten minutes that I could have picked up my bag and gone home. She was phenomenal. Her lesson to everyone? “You matter!” But let me start at the beginning.
First, Ms. Vanzant made her grand entrance to Kelly Price’s song, “It’s My Time.” She walked in through the back of the theater, danced, sang along, and rocked with everyone as she walked around the entire ground level. She made sure everyone felt good and could sense their internal power rising. She wanted everyone to know that it was their time. It was right there in that moment. What a powerful message! Next she got on stage and made sure to wave and acknowledge everyone in the upper levels while screaming, “Brooklyn!” “Harlem!” “Women of the World!” I got goosebumps.
After that she yelled, “Put your phones away! Put your phones down! Grab the hand of the woman standing next to you and close your eyes!” She then directed the entire audience in a breathing exercise. “Take a deep breath. Breathe in, breathe out, thank your Mother for the sacrifices she made for you to be here. Breathe in, breath out, thank your Grandmother for the sacrifices she made for you to be here.” She went on and reminded us of the many atrocities women have had to endure just to survive. She also reminded us that some women chose not to survive so that their children could live. I heard people around me say,”Yes Lord” and “Thank you Jesus”. Iyanla took us all to church!
Once everyone was seated, she said she wanted everyone to know that they mattered. She said it over and over again. “You matter. You matter! YOU MATTER!” It doesn’t matter what anyone says, it doesn’t matter how you feel on a given day. You have a right to be here. Just like Iyanla wanted everyone in the audience to know that they mattered, are important, are valuable, have a right to be here and live a life they direct, I want you to know the same. You matter. You are important. You have a right to be here… Wherever here is. Inevitably someone will try to make you feel less than. Remember this post. You matter.
Ms. Vanzant then went on to tell us about her Grandmother, and reminded us that we never know what someone else’s story is, and to treat every woman how we want to be treated. Our jobs are always to uplift and support other women. She described her grandmother as “meaner than a wet cat” and how being around such a women impacted her youth and adulthood. There is something dysfunctional about teaching children that they must remain loyal to people who don’t treat them well. Her words:
She went on to explain that children are often taught to be loyal to friends, family, and everyone they come across. However, children aren’t always taught to be loyal to themselves and their own feelings. Self-worth comes from being able to acknowledge that someone has mistreated you and no, you don’t have to pretend like it didn’t happen. Years of pretending and having to disregard yourself can lead to dysfunction. Dysfunction is what Ms. Vanzant calls the nice word for “Crazy as Hell.” I couldn’t agree more. It is so vital to protect your mental sanity in all phases of your life. Iyanla Vanzant told us and I am telling you, “Please take care of your mind.” I truly believe that your mind, your physical health, and time are your most valuable assets. People often talk about not wasting time and eating well but what about your mind? If you find yourself mentally stressed, get help. There is no shame in making the best you possible.
In my next post about this wonderful experience, I’m going to tell you about Ms. Vanzant’s advice for each generation and tell you my favorite quotes from the night. In the meantime, never forget that “You matter!”
PS – Did I mention how great Ms. Iyanla looks in her 60’s? Awesomesauce!