There are so many people who have had influence in my life, and who have pointed me back to who I really am in times when I have allowed circumstance or emotion to lead me to compromise what I know is true. I wish that I could adequately pay tribute to all of them here, especially to Margaret and Lauri, since I must pick one person, I am choosing my mom. I know that it is somewhat cliché, but my mom truly was my first and very best friend.
She wasn’t a very social person, and still she taught me everything that I know about people. She understood that there is evil in this world, yet she viewed people, individually, as either heading in the right direction or as misguided missiles, meaning they weren’t inherently faulty, they were just being guided in the wrong direction.
This theme would be repeated over and over again in my childhood.
One time that stands out in my mind was when I had a friend over, and we were standing in between the kitchen and the living room, and my Mom was making a snack for me and my friend. My friend started talking negatively about a girl at school, and all I did was say, “Uh, huh” and nod, which I guess my mom accurately perceived as agreement with my friend’s comment, and like something out of a scene from a scary movie, it looked like my mom flew over to us. Quick background information here, my Mom, was VERY even tempered. I seldom saw her angry, I saw her disappointed more than I would care to remember. In this instance, I would swear her eyes were lasers ready to fire. She was all of five feet tall, and ridiculously beautiful, think Audrey Hepburn, (I look like my dad), and she quietly and as calmly as she could said, “We do not talk bad about people.” The way in which she said it, I knew that she meant business. That moment and what she said on the subject on another occasion has stayed with me forever, though I find myself paraphrasing it now. Basically, she said that until we are perfect ourselves (which, of course, we will never be), we have no business highlighting other peoples’ faults.
She also taught me that it isn’t okay to focus too much on my own flaws.
I went through an extremely selfish period of time in my life, during my late teens to early 20’s, where I had an incredibly destructive self talk and I continually focused on my inadequacies. I actually viewed this beating myself up as humility and didn’t understand how it could impact anyone else. Mom taught me that there is a fine line between being self-conscious and self-absorbed, either way you are always on your own mind. I realized that whileI was in pain, self-imposed drama, I was taking everyone around me for granted.
So, Mom said some things that were hard for me to hear and I’m sure, hard for her to say. Once again, her wisdom brought me back to focus outward. She taught me that in a world where women, in particular, are often devalued or valued for the wrong reasons, that it is our responsibility to acknowledge and build up each other’s strengths, and to view weaknesses as something that we all have to live with, in ourselves and in each other. All of which, requires grace.
Mom, lived out what Mary Kay Ash spoke, when she said, “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, Make Me Feel Important. Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.” Mom, I hope that you can see me, and that you know that I am still working to live the grace filled life that you modeled for me. I fail frequently, but I am never going to give up trying. Thank you for your love, your faith, and so many memories that I treasure every day, because that is how often I miss you. I could not have hand-picked a better Mom for myself… I love you!
Angela Joyner is an AFAA Certified Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor; since becoming a Licensed Zumba Instructor several years ago she has an enthusiastic passion for Zumba. Her focus is on total wellness and freedom from the “to do”, “I will” or “when I look like” lists…. that can keep so many women from truly having fun and focusing on themselves in a healthy way. It is her personal experience that the Zumba fitness program can cultivate connections which enable women to be their uninterrupted selves…no need to pause for critique, no specific set of numbers to achieve, it is all about moving to a funky beat and there is truly no way to do it wrong! Angela volunteers her personal time to choreograph and coordinate multiple dance routines for several Women’s Conferences in the North Texas area – inspiring women through dance. She is a wife, mom and friend dedicated to helping other women to see their value and encouraging those women to dream BIG, and live it out!