Let’s put aside the visual aspects of Finer Womanhood (just for a moment) & begin 2017 by getting to the root of what it REALLY means to be finer.
Because Sorors in my very humble opinion, being finer is truly an inside job. And when you internalize that – when you actively work on the finer woman within, you’re building a foundation based on solid rock.
Now I’m sure we can all bring to mind at least one person who SLAYS on the outside: hair & nails ON FLEEK, shoes IMMACULATE, suits and jewelry ON POINT. But she’s unattractive on the inside because the focus is solely on external things.
To be fair, this business of being finer within is not easy Sorors. So how do we do it? If being finer is truly an inside job, how do we make it work?
I believe that we can refine the finer woman within by viewing Finer Womanhood from a holistic lens and actively working on 4 distinct areas: our spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical well being.
When we’re spiritually healthy we regularly set aside quiet time to pray, meditate, talk with God and read his word. You regularly visit a church or other place of worship where you receive spiritual rejuvenation. When you’re spiritually centered, you put yourself in place to receive divine guidance that influences your attitude, your actions and the decisions you make in every area of your life, including Zeta.
Let’s face it Sorors – we’ve all been tested, persecuted, talked about and thrown under the bus. And if you haven’t, just live a little longer. How many times has being spiritually connected prevented you from (as our beloved FLOTUS Michelle Obama would say) “popping off”? But because you have that spiritual connection, luckily for them, all they got was a woosah and a smile.
By now we’ve all heard these words of wisdom spoken by our International Grand Basileus Mary B. Wright; “a good Zeta is a well-informed Zeta”.
Are you well informed? Are you intellectually savvy about Zeta? Remember that Zeta is OURS – and we can only change things for the better when we are in the know. Part of that responsibility lies in the hands of our leadership to provide timely, accurate information, but our responsibility is to consume it, analyze it and question it when necessary.
So to the best of your ability – show up for local/regional or national conferences, attend and participate in chapter meetings, read those reports & email communications and speak up when something doesn’t add up. I know that things aren’t perfect in Zeta, but half of the battle is being knowledgeable and showing up to make sure our voices are counted and heard.
If you’re blessed enough to have a copy of Zeta’s history book, “Torchbearers of a Legacy“, when was the last time you cracked it open? Have you read “Finer Women: The Birth of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority (1920-1935)” by Soror Tilu Khalayi? (If not, go straight to page 251 to read the fascinating story of Inventor, Philanthropist and Entrepreneur, Soror Annie Turnbo Malone)
To build your emotional health it’s important to dig deep and pay close attention to your own needs and feelings. But often times emotional or mental health issues can’t be dealt with alone and you may have to seek counseling or professional help – don’t be afraid to take that step. One resource provided to me by Soror Natisha Willis of the Freedom Friends Network (thanks Natisha!) is the Open Path Collective, which is a group of therapists who provide in-office and online treatment for $30-$50 a session. Soror Kim Beverly-Muhammad started an organization called The Green Dress Project which serves African American women by erasing the stigma and breaking the silence associated with mental illness. You can learn more about The Green Dress Project here.
Another suggestion is to work really hard to make relaxation and YOU time a priority. As a married mother of two who works full time, works out, is heavily involved with Zeta and runs a blog, I know this can be easier said than done for many of us (with or without children). But the bottom line is, I’ve gotta take care of Malica and if that means heading to the spa on Saturday for a few hours – than so be it. You are worth it Soror – so commit to making regular dates with yourself and show up!
If you have so much going on that making regular dates with yourself seems impossible at this point, I highly recommend the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (by Greg McKeown) – it’s great reading on how to pursue less to live a more fulfilling life. Personally, I loved the book so much that I purchased it on Audible to listen during my morning and evening commute.
And lastly Soror, to the best of your ability, avoid anything or anyone that causes stress, worry or brings drama to your life and make sure to surround yourself with friends, family and Sorors who support you.
The last area I’d like to discuss is physical health. Sorors, we must take care of our bodies! They are the only ones we have, and further more, we can’t do the work that God put us here to do if our bodies are not in good working order. It doesn’t matter what type of physical activity you do, as long as you enjoy it and do it consistently. And when you work out consistently, over time you’ll begin to see and feel the benefit. When you’re physically healthy you’ll feel more confident (there’s that tie to emotional health), you’ll have more energy to do the work of Zeta, plus you’ll have the advantage of looking amazing in your clothes.
Taking care of our bodies also means eating healthy and taking whatever medications have been prescribed by our doctors to keep our bodies in good working order. A little over a 2 years ago, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and after having radiation to treat my thyroid, I now have to take medication every day in order to keep my thyroid and my hormones in good working order. I went 38 years without having to take any kind of medications on a daily basis, but treating my thyroid disease is something that I had to accept because it’s crucial to my physical health.
Growth, Not Perfection
Now, as you read over those 4 areas of focus (Spiritual, Intellectual, Emotional and Physical) don’t be hard on yourself if there are areas where you’ve fallen short. Just note where you need to make changes and commit right now to being finer in those areas.
The key Sorors, to being finer is growth and not perfection. So where will you be on your Finer Womanhood journey, 1 month from now, 6 months from now, 1 year from now? This all depends on what you’re willing to commit to today.
Academy award winner Luputa Nyong’o concluded her 2014 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon speech with “My hope is that you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.”
Sorors, I am absolutely confident that you will feel the validation of your external beauty once you get to the deeper, more fulfilling business of being finer on the inside.