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Life is Not Promised

by Wendy Gladney on 09/03/19

As I write this piece, I am grateful to celebrate another year.  As I get older, I appreciate each of my birthdays more and more.  What I know for sure is that life is not promised.  People from the generation before mine are passing away and my generation is now slowly becoming the “elders.”  Not only are family members passing away, but also several of my friends, along with people I grew up with and those that have become part of my community over the years. In the wake of this reality, we realize that right now is the only time we have to make our mark and do the things that matter most.

I’ve often heard speakers and preachers talk about making “the dash” between the day we are born and the day we die mean something.  I used to think talking about death was so morbid, but in reality they were giving us a wake up call. If we don’t live our lives with purpose, we will look up one day and realize that we’ve wasted most of our lives away.  The good news is that no matter when we wake up and come to our senses, it’s never too late.  As long as we have breath in our bodies, we have a chance to do good things and make a difference.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve been writing out weekly and daily lists of what I plan to accomplish.  I’m not sure where I got this from, but I feel more orderly and accomplished when I can see what I want or need to do and then cross it off my list as I complete it.  It’s become my routine. On Sundays after church I sit down at my computer to see what I didn’t complete from the week before and transfer that to the week ahead. Then I look in my calendar to review my appointments for the week and I write out my new to do list.  I also try and think about people in my life that have special days coming up such as birthdays or anniversaries and I drop them a card or give them a call.  Lists are just one of the tools I use to make sure I am remembering the things that are important and get them accomplished.

There is a quote by Abraham Lincoln that says, “In the end it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.” That really speaks to my spirit. I’m sure many of us can think of people that have lived a long life in years, but when you look at what they’ve accomplished there’s not much to show. On the other side of the coin, we know people whose lives were cut short, but their impact on the world (or at least on our lives) was great.  As we get older, we have a responsibility to those coming behind us to teach them the importance of making their lives count no matter what stage they may be in currently.

One of the things I love as I get older is how people feel 50 is the new 30 (smile). I am not running from getting older, but I love the fact that people (women especially) are enjoying life longer, understanding that no matter their age they still have time to do amazing things.  This year as I turn 58, I celebrate being a grandmother to two beautiful grandchildren, I have a beautiful family, and I work doing things I love while making a difference.  I also believe the best is still yet to come. Our “Season of Greatness” is always before us. Remember, as you go through your day, life is not promised. Don’t put off for later what you can accomplish today.  Your legacy is up to you. 

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. 

Global Forgiveness Day!

by Wendy Gladney on 08/27/19

Most people who know me would say I am an Ambassador for Forgiveness.  Anything pertaining to the subject of forgiveness and the importance of forgiving attracts my attention.  In 2012 Maiko Maya and The Circle of Charities Foundation presented me with the “Mandela Award for Forgiveness,” it humbled me to the point where I looked deep inside of myself to make sure I was willing to stay committed to the practice of forgiveness for the rest of my life.  I have been given several awards over my lifetime and I’ve appreciated each of them, but the Mandela Award for Forgiveness holds a special place in my heart.  I truly believe if more people practiced the art of forgiveness our world would be a better place.

There are people and organizations across the globe that center their mission around forgiveness or at least have a tenet of forgiveness included.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Reverend Mpho Tutu wrote, “The Book of Forgiving,” explaining how all of us are capable of healing and transforming our lives through forgiveness.  Archbishop Tutu is not only a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Chair of The Elders, Chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but he has dedicated his life to explaining how there will be no future without forgiveness. I believe this principle or philosophy to be true. We could all learn a lesson or two if we would be willing to study what he has to say about the subject.   

It surprised me as I was digging around to find out more about Global Forgiveness Day.  There are several days that hold the theme of forgiveness.  Both August 27th and July 7th hold the title of Global Forgiveness Day and the last Saturday in October is considered National Forgiveness Day.  It is my opinion that we can’t have enough of these days to remind us of how important it is for us to pause and consider how we could change the world if we are willing to forgive others. This can be true whether it is on the mainstage of life, someone in our family or even ourselves.  Getting rid of the pain, anger, bitterness and illnesses that are caused by the root of unforgiveness is enough to make us all want to try.

August 27th Global Forgiveness Day began in 1994 by the Christian Embassy of Christ’s Ambassadors in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and July 7th was originally promoted as an element of personal health by forgiving others and oneself.  It has been researched and documented by the University of Wisconsin that people who forgive have better health.  As we can see forgiveness has a way of freeing not only someone else but can change our own lives for the better.  This opens the door of hope for the next generation, but we must oftentimes put our pride aside for the greater good.  This can be a challenge.

In honor of Global Forgiveness Day, I would like to encourage all of us to think about the passage from the Book of Forgiveness. I believe if we can get these truths embedded into our soul, we have a chance for a better world. “Forgiveness does not relieve someone of responsibility for what they have done. Forgiveness does not erase accountability. It is not about turning a blind eye or even turning the other cheek. It is not about letting someone off the hook or saying it is okay to do something monstrous. Forgiveness is simply about understanding that every one of us is both inherently good and inherently flawed. Within every hopeless situation and every seemingly hopeless person lies the possibility of transformation.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Let’s try and practice acts of forgiveness in our own gardens and see what good can grow.

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. 

When Will America Get The Picture?

by Wendy Gladney on 08/19/19

Toni Morrison said, “In this country American means white.  Everybody else has to hyphenate.”  I started to think about this saying, and I wanted to try and really process its meaning. I am the product of a biracial union.  I was born in the 1960’s when segregation was still pretty much the law of the land and Black people were thought to be inferior.  Ironically, in 2019, some people still think of Black people as inferior -- even though laws have been passed to say differently. We’ve even had the first Black President in the White House (can we come up with another name for this house), but racism is still strong and alive. I am proud of my entire heritage (a Black father and a White mother), but I know in America I am a Black woman and that’s okay with me; however, when I think of other countries, individuals are often thought of as their nationality first, despite having different cultures and ethnicities. When will America get that picture?

When I think of what is happening today, it hurts my heart and my spirit.  I’ve heard people ask, “Why is there a need for an organization like, Black Lives Matter? Isn’t that racist?”  No, it isn’t.  Not with the rise in hate groups, especially white supremacists who target Black people, Hispanics/Latinos, Immigrants and anyone that is different from them (and they feel it is okay because of the rhetoric that comes out of the highest office in this country).  They feel protected and safe. When will all Americans feel protected and safe? There needs to be accountability across the board. Before we will see any real progress in this country, we must learn how to be kind to one another and show mutual respect. 

To understand race relations in America we would have to go back 400 years.  The thread that binds us as a country is ripped all the way through the soul of America. Although some people may disagree, there’s a difference between Black Pride and white supremacy.  One focuses on making sure the lives of Black people are respected and not thrown away while the other focuses on hate and destruction.  What must we do to get to a place where we are not so mean with each other?  How do we get to the table of brotherly love and focus more on what we have in common than what makes us different?

I am sick and tired of hearing or reading about another shooting, mass killing, racial profiling or other race related incidents. Police brutality, shootings like El Paso, Texas, and the likes must stop.  If we want hope for our children and grandchildren, we must each become a party of one and stand up for what is right even when it is difficult.  We must be willing to sacrifice and support efforts to bring healing.  I believe forgiveness is a critical component to this process.  We must put an end to hate crimes.  A hate crime is described as a bias-motivated crime and usually involves some level of prejudice. All of us hold some level of bias (or prejudice), but when we allow it to cause harm to another human being this is not acceptable.

What challenge are you willing to pick up to help eradicate this situation?  Are you willing to not participate in any disparaging conversations about other people just because they are different in any way?  Are you willing to even challenge your friends and family members when they share racial jokes that could be hurtful? We must all be willing to de-escalate situations on all sides, no matter how big or small.  It starts with us.  As I told my children growing up, wrong is wrong even if everybody is doing it and right is right even if nobody is doing it.

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. 

Homecoming!

by Wendy Gladney on 08/12/19

This past week I had the opportunity to go to my paternal side of the family’s “Homecoming” down in East Texas.  My father, Johnny Wendell Dolphus Harris’ father, my grandfather, Booker Telefaro Washington Harris was born in an area known as Shady Grove, Gary Tap, Texas right outside of Carthage and not too far from Shreveport, Louisiana.  For at least sixty-two years, this town, which is made up of almost all kin, annually opens wide their doors and welcomes friends and family from near and far to come home and revisit their roots. My grandfather passed away before I was born, but my grandmother, Rebecca Ruth Reed Harris made sure we would be included. I remember as a child packing up the car in California and heading to Texas. And I discovered at a young age that Texas has a spirit unique unto itself. Texans are one of a kind.

Family and family history mean a lot to me and over the years I’ve had the opportunity to go “home” a few times.  A few years ago, I was able to take my daughter, Courtney to the Homecoming so that she could begin to put the pieces together from all the verbal conversations we’ve had over the years of who’s who and how we are all related.  One of the things that always confused me was when someone would say to me that I was “double related” to someone, but eventually it became clear when I could put names and faces together and sit down with pen and paper and connect the dots.  For example, my grandmother and her sister, Aunt LeAnna, married two cousins.  My grandmother’s husband was Booker T. and Aunt LeAnna’s husband was Uncle Eli.  Eli and Booker are cousins therefore their offspring are double related.  With the community being relatively small, many of the families ended up inter-marrying.

As time progresses, the surnames of the families continue to grow.  Originally the names I always heard about were Harris, Calloway, Champion, Flakes, Ingram, Lilly, Byrd, Beasley and Bryant. Now we also have McLemore, Womack, Sanders, Hawkins, Johnson, Morris, Smith, Roberson, Solomon and McDaniel. I’m sure there are even more as our branches continue to sprout from the roots.  As our branches continue to stretch wide and across the globe, it is important for us to all pause every now and then and come together first to honor our ancestors and to make sure the new generations don’t forget their history.  I have to say there’s also nothing like the down-home cooking that comes straight from the land and is seasoned with love and patience. 

In the words of the late Toni Morrison, from her book Beloved, “Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be.”  This is exactly what it looks like to bring family together.  There were so many different conversations that went on and oral family history tradition was in full bloom.  I’ve learned as the years go by truths can be twisted and turned and if we are not careful a legend can be based more on hearsay, half-truths, and assumptions.  It’s up to each of us to seek the truth, write it down and if you are not sure of something, as my grandmother would say, be quiet.  It’s important to try and keep the record straight.

As I reflect on my time down in Texas my heart is full of joy because this particular year was extra special. A new member to our family, who was originally adopted close to 57 years ago, recently found out he was my first cousin and was able to go home and learn a little more about his roots.  Welcome Home Gilbert!  

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. 

Women of all Ages Celebrate the Life & Times of Biddy Mason

by Wendy Gladney on 08/06/19

It is incumbent on us all to keep the life and legacy of our heroes and sheroes alive.  If we desire for the next generation to know and embrace the history of their forefathers (and foremothers) the buck stops with us.  We have such a lady that Americans should be aware of, and especially Southern Californians, and her name is Biddy Mason.  Women from different generations will gather on August 10th to pay homage to the woman that was born a slave in Mississippi, became a freed woman in California, and made history along her journey. Biddy Mason’s roots run deep throughout what is now downtown Los Angeles.

Ms. Mason was brought to California by the Mormons as a slave and she originally resided in the San Bernardino area before settling in Los Angeles.  She is credited with many talents including being a nurse, as well as a real estate investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She also founded the First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church in her home. This woman was a pioneer who believed in making a difference and leaving a legacy behind that showed her footprint. Making sure our next generation of millennials are aware of this amazing woman and the contributions she made to society, Diane Mitchell Henry, founder of The Women’s Group of Greater Los Angeles County (WGGLAC),  the Honorable Aja Brown, Mayor of Compton, the Honorable Jan Perry (Retired) along with the Cynthia Perry Ray Foundation, will celebrate the 5th Annual Biddy Mason Legacy Gathering by also honoring young millennial women for the contributions they are making in our society and community today.

WGGLAC believes that many of today’s millennials mirror the character of Biddy Mason through their ambition and confidence, and they are unafraid to question authority while serving their community. They have a new form of social activism.  Just as they must honor those that came before them, we must support and encourage them as they move forward in the world.   Biddy Mason was just 30 years old when she made her historic 2,000 mile walk from Mississippi to California. She invested her mid-wife earnings in downtown Los Angeles real estate and became the first wealthiest Black American woman in Los Angeles. Ms. Mason advocated for the poor and the incarcerated population – two groups still underrepresented today. What could our young people do if they knew we had their back to help improve the world?

Diane Mitchell Henry, Founder of WGGLAC says,The Celebration is a platform to pay homage to the legacy of Biddy Mason by honoring millennial unsung sheroes and empower them to embrace Biddy Mason’s perseverance.  As the founder of Forgiving For Living, Inc., an organization formed to empower young ladies with positive self-esteem and to provide them with the tools to believe in themselves, I too believe that it is important for us to teach our young ladies their value and that they have a powerful voice that can turn into action that brings about change.

Biddy Mason once said, “If you hold your hand closed, nothing good can come in.   The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance, even as it receives.”  We need to open our hands and take the hand of a young lady that is coming up behind us and not only show her the way, but also stand beside her on her journey.  We must sow into the lives of the next generation and empower them with the tools they need to succeed. It begins with us.  

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.