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Nelson Mandela Day!

by Wendy Gladney on 07/15/19

For the past quarter of a century I’ve been sharing the importance of forgiveness and how it can make a difference in someone’s life. Five years ago, I was able to fulfill one of my bucket list items by going to South Africa and visiting the house where Nelson Mandela once lived with his family, walked the roads he once traveled and even looked into the very cell he once occupied on Robben Island. Breathing in the air of the Motherland was life giving and learning more about the man who lived out the meaning of forgiveness will stay with me for the rest of my life.

In 1999 the Nelson Mandela Foundation was formed with a focus on contributing to making just societies by mobilizing the legacy of the life and work of Mr. Mandela. Mandela Day is celebrated on July 18th in commemoration of his birthday. The initiative is to call on us to help make the world a better place.  This year the theme is focused around “Action Against Poverty.” The Foundation feels that we need to restore and reaffirm the dignity of the people of Africa and throughout the globe by doing our part to help end the cycle of poverty. Poverty is not only a problem in South Africa, and is not relegated to only African or “third world” countries; it is also a major problem right here in the United States.

Nelson Mandela followed three rules throughout his life: free yourself, free others and serve every day. This was his life and he lived it out with purpose. The Foundation believes the call to action is clear: we must take action, inspire change and make every day a Mandela Day. We can all contribute to making a difference right where we are by stepping up to the challenge that we know exists. We must all do our part in helping to make this world a better place for us and for future generations. If we look around, we see the sadness of homelessness and how it is on the rise.  There are many to help and get involved with helping to eradicate this plight.  If you don’t have time you can donate money, if you don’t have money there’s something you have or have access to that can make a difference.

I recently returned from West Africa where I had the opportunity to visit the Republic of Ghana, also known as the Gold Coast.  It is located off the Atlantic Ocean where captive Africans were sold and sent off into slavery across the globe.  While traveling across this beautiful land I saw a devastating level of poverty, and yet the people were very dignified; the way they walked and carried themselves was strong, and they made me feel proud as a Black woman.  Even with this positive reflection I knew they were suffering and needed help to pour into their community for their children and their children’s children. I was moved to action.

As we reflect on what this day means, honoring the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, also known as Madiba, let’s do our part in the gardens where we are planted by taking action and doing as much as we can to inspire change.  Let’s free ourselves, free others and become servants by helping uplift the lives of others. Nelson Mandela said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” #MandelaDay #ActionAgainstPoverty

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com, www.SeasonofGreatness.com  and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, author and speaker. 

Yes, Our Black is Beautiful!

by Wendy Gladney on 07/08/19

I have always believed that Black is beautiful.  Although, oftentimes things with a negative connotation are associated with the color black (i.e. a black cat, darkness, evil, dirt and even the pigmentation of one’s skin), I’ve always been proud to have come from a strong line of Black people and especially the women in my life that have done amazing things and have been strong positive role models and mentors. Several months ago, I was contacted by Carliss Richardson McGhee and she shared an opportunity for me and my family to be part of the “Our Black is Beautiful” magazine celebrating generational beauty.  I was flattered and was more than willing to support such a positive project.

Ms. McGhee was selected by Proctor & Gamble to head up their West Coast initiative to seek out Black women in the community that care about making a difference, especially in the areas of improving the health and well-being of adolescents while reducing racial and ethnic healthcare inequities and disparities among foster youth emancipated from the child welfare system.  Because of her leadership in the community I was more than willing to participate and to encourage my mother, sister and daughter to also be involved.  The proceeds from this effort were designated to support transitional housing programs for young Black girls.  This is right in line with the work we do as a family with our nonprofit Forgiving For Living, Inc (FFL).  FFL’s mission is to uplift and empower girls of color to believe in themselves.

We are living in times where there’s so much negativity all around us.  We should take every opportunity to encourage and support those that are trying to make a positive impact in the world. Our Black is Beautiful (OBIB) is a California initiative responding to a call for action by Proctor & Gamble (P&G) recognizing community servants who have been a part of the solution for over 28,000 youth currently in foster care in Los Angeles County. In 2006, Proctor & Gamble (P&G) launched My Black is Beautiful, a community building program to initiate and sustain broad dialogue within African American communities around Black beauty and pride. The platform continues to inspire initiatives across the country that challenge standards of beauty and "encourages generations of Black women to embrace their best and beautiful selves."'

We must believe that everything about us is beautiful. From the color of our skin, to the way our bodies are framed and the curl patterns of our hair.  California is leading the way and has become the first state to ban natural hair discrimination.  State Senator Holly Mitchell led the charge on this act, also known as the CROWN Act and now it will update the state's SB-188 discrimination law as it relates to hairstyles. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law. We must learn to walk in our beauty, whatever that looks like.

It is my desire that all little girls, no matter what their background, will grow up to believe in themselves and to know they are beautifully and wonderfully made.  Stephanie Lahart said it perfectly, “Dear Beautiful Black Queens… Never underestimate the beauty of just being YOU. Being your authentic self is powerful, sexy, and courageous!” Let’s go out and show the world who we are and how our beauty shines bright! 

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com, www.SeasonofGreatness.com  and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, author and speaker

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death!

by Wendy Gladney on 07/01/19

I want to start by saying I am grateful to be an American and more specifically an African American.  I come from a multi-cultural background where my mother is of European descent (German) and my father is an African American born in Texas.  I recently returned from Ghana with an organization called African Focus where we learned about “The Year of Return” celebrating 400 years of African Resilience.  The celebration reminded us of the Atlantic Slave Trade that began in 1619 where captives were sold into slavery and sent to different parts of the world and how important it is for us to return.  We also learned that we as a people should never refer to our ancestors as slaves, but rather as captives that became enslaved people.

Ghana is known as one of the main ports where many captives were transported across the Atlantic to various spots around the world.  They were bought and sold and sent to Haiti, Europe, North and South America and beyond.  The people of Ghana are encouraging Black people from across the diaspora to return to Africa and walk back through the door that was once referred to as “The Door of No Return;” to say we have survived, and we are still here.  Only the strong survived this horrific situation and we are the descendants of those who survived. I am the fourth generation of free Black people in my family. History can’t be changed, but we can change how we view ourselves, our ancestors and our narrative.

As I reflect on what I experienced and learned while I was in Ghana, it made me also think about how celebrating the 4th of July can have a different meaning and conjure up different emotions depending on who you talk to. While some look at it as Independence Day commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States from the monarchy of Britain in 1776, others were being forced to come to this country as enslaved people to help create the world the “Founding Fathers” envisioned. Slavery in the United States was only abolished a little over 150 years ago and the healing from such atrocities is still a reality.  Since emancipation, people of color still wrestle with being treated as equal citizens under the law. Black people were not even considered human by some and even today our lives are often not valued.  

My heart aches with the pain that still exists in our world today.  I don’t have all the answers as to how we get to a place of understanding and healing, but I do know that it has to start with forgiveness and conversations.  Just as my Jewish friends make sure we never forget about the Holocaust, we too must make sure people don’t forget about the ugliness of slavery in America. We must understand the role it played on the lives of African Americans and the residual effect it has even to this day.   While in Ghana we visited the Slave Castle in Cape Coast.  The tour guide showed us a dungeon (cell) where captives that refused to be shackled and submit were thrown into to die.  They were called troublemakers because they felt to their core that they would rather die than to be taken into slavery. What would you have done?

As we come together this holiday to celebrate independence, let’s not forget those that came before us that weren’t given the same opportunities and were forced to build a land and country that all of us benefit from today.  Let’s be true Americans and come together and fight for peace, justice and liberty for all. 

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com, www.SeasonofGreatness.com  and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, author and speaker. 

Put On Your Glasses!

by Wendy Gladney on 06/15/19

I recently had the courage to carve out time and watch Ava DuVernay’s latest piece, “When They See Us.” It was heart wrenching and brought me to tears.  Not just because I am a mother to a wonderful, bright and handsome Black man, but also because I am now a grandmother to a beautiful grandson (and granddaughter) that I love and pray for daily. In my prayers for them, I know there is a level of prejudice they may face, that many of their counterparts will never have to think about, simply because of the color of their skin.

As people of color, it doesn’t matter the pigmentation of our skin, or where we might live. It is a certain reality that we could be pre-judged or have bias placed upon us at any given time.  Although it can be a sensitive subject, there’s a group of people that live “privileged” lives where they never even think about anything happening to them by the law just because of the color of their skin. The question this brings me to is, when will America be a land of equality for all of its citizens? Especially where everyone, no matter what their ethnicity, will be given equal justice under the law. I hope that in my lifetime I can experience this reality for the sake of the sacrifices of my ancestors and the legacy of my future lineage.

Let me pause and say that I don’t believe all law enforcement are prejudiced or biased, but I do think the feeling still permeates in such a way that really effects the poor and immigrants.  This must stop.  If we, people of color, teach our children to honor and respect the law and the police, then the police must earn that respect by treating all citizens with the same respect.  There must also be some sort of training that is mandated throughout the system to help break these chains that have kept us caught up in such behavior.  On the flip side of the coin, I also believe there needs to be a level of responsibility and accountability by everyone to do the right thing and to be mindful of their actions. We shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells, but also don’t provoke a situation that could bring about a negative reaction.

What must we do to bring about change? We must take off the blinders from our eyes, put on our glasses so we can see each other as human beings equal under the eyes of God. Over time there have always been people, and it usually starts with one individual, who are willing to take a stand for justice no matter the cost.  What would the world look like if each of us made ourselves a party of one to start making the world a little better? There must be a conscious effort to bring about this change.  Everyone is going to have to be willing to release hurt and pain from the past if there’s hope for a brighter future.   

Years ago when I was going through counseling regarding some things from my past, I remember the counselor telling me if I wanted to see a change for future generations in my family, I had to be willing to forgive and break negative cycles. It had to start with me.  This was not what I wanted to hear. Why did I have to be the one to make the sacrifices to forgive others that had hurt me when I was innocent? Then I realized why not you, Wendy? Let’s all put on our glasses so we can see what role we must play to improve our families, communities, the nation and the world. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”  Harriet Tubman.

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com, www.SeasonofGreatness.com  and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, author and speaker. 

A Letter of Forgiveness to My Father

by Wendy Gladney on 06/10/19

We are told that our first impressions of ourselves comes from our parents. Much of our confidence in what we can or cannot do stems from what is poured into us as children. For those that follow my story know that as a child I was abandoned by my birth mother and sexually abused by my father.  My father lived a lifestyle that also exposed me to things that little girls should never have to experience.  Over the years the relationship between me and my father was like a roller coaster up and down.  I learned from others that my father experienced pain in his life and it has been proven hurt people hurt people.

My father passed away over two decades ago and sometimes it still feels like yesterday to me.  His presence was always larger than life and when he entered a room, he lit it up with his smile.  He had the power to take your breath away without saying a word.  Although I was a victim to his vices, I still loved him.  As a child he was the only parent I knew. Having a void in my life with the absence of my mother, I wanted and longed for the love and acceptance of my father.  How does a child understand the dichotomy of what is unacceptable behavior and the craving to belong?

When I was in high school my father had a heart attack and my grandmother (who I love beyond measure) told me I had to go to the hospital to see him because they didn’t know if he would survive.  As I listened to her words so many thoughts passed through my mind, however, going to see him was not an option and I knew I had to face him.  What I did not know was it would not be his smile that would soften my heart, but rather his helplessness and that now he was a victim.  A victim to all the things that brought him to this point of being flat on his back.  All I remember is telling him that I forgave him for everything he had ever done to me and that I hoped he would heal and get his life right with the Lord.

What I did not know at that time was this would be the beginning of my journey of understanding the power of forgiveness and how it can truly transform someone’s life, family and generations. The journey of healing between me and my father did not happen overnight, and it took several years before we were able to be completely vulnerable and work through our past.  We both had to be willing to open up and share our feelings and listen without judgment.  During one of our talks my father turned to me and thanked me for forgiving him and that he was grateful for another chance for us to build a loving relationship.

I know some who may read this might not understand how I could forgive my father for what I went through as a child, and yes I know he was wrong in his actions, however, I believe in second chances and although he has been gone now for over twenty years this is my open letter of forgiveness to him on this Father’s Day.  It is my hope that someone reading this message will find it in their heart to give someone in their life a second chance through the power of forgiveness.  Forgiveness does not mean people are excused for their actions when they are wrong, but it does mean being willing to be part of a solution that can build bridges instead of walls.  After all, as my grandmother would say, “keep lying down and getting up and one day you too will need someone to forgive you or give you a second chance.”  Happy Father’s Day!

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com, www.SeasonofGreatness.com  and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, author and speaker.