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FEATURES Mar 29 2013 9:58AM

Lisa Acknowledges the Powerful Women in Her Life—Today & Yesterday

If I were to think of the first woman who inspired me, I know that in theory it was my mother, because she was there from day one, did everything for me and shaped me into who I am today.  But, in the moment of being a 5-year-old child, I don't believe we have that awareness, and Mommy is a given; a constant that we tend to take for granted and we realize her importance later.  I know that happened for me when I became a mother.  Not that I didn't love my mother, appreciate her, love to be around her. But there's that moment when it clicks, and you say, "Now, I get it.  Oh, yes, you were amazing, because I now understand how difficult this job of mothering can be.”  
That aside, 5-year-old Lisa was first inspired by my Aunt Judith.  To me she was like a princess: beautiful, strong, smart and proud. She married a German man, moved to Frankfurt, had two children and later divorced.  She is an actress, and when she found out that her German accent was not authentic enough for her to make it successfully through auditions, she stopped speaking English altogether. Then, when she would not get cast in roles because they were played traditionally by White actresses, she decided to produce her own plays and opened a dinner theater in Frankfurt.  Truly bad ass and didn’t take no for an answer. Judith has always been an inspiration to me for thinking outside the box and not accepting the notion of "no, you can't do that."
Although my aunt inspired me early on, it has taken me a very long time to fully understand the power I can wield as a woman.  I got a glimpse at a small bit of that power years ago. I was 16 and had a Christmas party for all of my friends.  It was a hot party.  I ended up kissing for the first time in my life and remember being intrigued at how certain movements of your mouth could illicit a reaction from the person you are kissing.  I think I was more fascinated by that aspect of it more than anything else.  It was like I was conducting an experiment.  Later in my life there was a grace and strength I noticed with women in my life, that I wasn't sure I had.  I always felt a bit awkward and unsure about myself.  Am I strong enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I smart enough? I doubted myself all the time.  Then I found dance.  I LOVED it! I learned that I could push my body in ways I did not know before.  I studied various forms of African dance mostly and then more disciplined forms of dance for strength and balance, but I loved the freedom of moving to the music and the rhythms.  In dance you learn to appreciate your body and what it can do and you become less hung up on what it isn't.  I learned an appreciation for my body and its abilities.  I did a performance once and male friends of mine were in attendance and after the dance they looked at me as if I was a different person.  It was an odd and cool feeling at the same time.  
Now that I am older, a wife and a mom of three, I am so over a lot of the drama of my youth. I embrace me, flaws and all.  Every bump, blemish, wrinkle is a testament to my life, lived to the best of my ability.  I will no longer allow a fear to hold me back.  I just wish that I could have gotten here at age 35, but c'est la vie.  
I have three children, Forrest, Ennis and Becca. Since there is a nine-year gap between Becca and her brothers, I spent those years in a house of male energy.  I was the only girl, and I was spoiled rotten and I loved it.  There was just tons of unconditional love and adoration. Then little miss came along and I suddenly had adoration in the form of imitation.  She wants to be like me and follow me and just be with me.  My husband calls her my "appendage." I can't tell you how many times in a day she crashes into my toosh, because she is walking so close behind me.  She makes me feel like a girl. I look at my boys who are turning into men, and I get a little sad that I am older and they are older and then she reminds me to twirl or she gets excited over "Twilight," or we both squeal over a lip gloss that we love and I am young again.  I look at her and she looks at me and we get "it." And the boys look at us and just shake their heads.  It is an amazing thing to have reveled in being the "Queen" and then getting to be a "princess" again without having to abdicate the throne.  I Love!
There are so many women that inspire me, Oprah, Debra Lee, Beyoncé, Janelle Monae, Barbra Streisand, Michelle Obama, the list can go on and on.  But, I have a woman in my life, Iya, who is truly special.  She has worked for me for almost sixteen years, and she has gone through so much in the time I have known her, but she is constant.  She is faith, love, patience, kindness, devotion and loves God fiercely. I cannot imagine my world without her in it.  
Women's History Month gives us all a chance to celebrate, reflect, acknowledge, praise, examine, understand and honor, women. It is imperative that we remember the contributions women have made to our world and how their yesterdays have formed our todays. 

Love, Lisa


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