What Fashion Meets Poetry Taught Me
Lisa Harris ~ January 30, 2018
The world is alive right now. On the surface, it’s angry and tormented with polarized political views, misunderstood racial divides, and gender inequalities. Its stories are rooted in sins of our fathers and generations of mistrust, betrayal, and tragedy. We often find ourselves walking in undiagnosed depression and fearing the darkness. Or is it really that we are afraid of the light?
This world is ours, like we often say in our family when referencing each other, “she belongs to us” and beneath her seemingly dark layers rests her heart. Unlike our lungs, which sole responsibility is to keep us breathing, our hearts are tasked not only to pump blood throughout our bodies, but also to love. Every day, despite our differences and anger, we still hope and dream. So like I said, we are alive. There is anticipation in our voices as we witness women break their silence and compassion within us as we learn how to truly listen. We are not in darkness if within each one of us is light.
All this is a reminder of what I have seen all around me since both darkness and lightness have gleaned their presence on my journey. After publishing Unveiled Beauty: Handwritten Stories From a Poetic Heart, I never expected to find myself in the heart of the women’s empowerment movement, yet here I am. Every day embracing new women as I continue on my own journey of healing and peace. One by one, through launching our Unveiled Beauty: Cultivating YOU women’s empowerment events to celebrating the women in our community at our sold out Unveiled Beauty X Fashion Show, they taught me about Beauty and Bravery. So, as the world continues to rage with judgment and amateur listening skills, I aspire to unveil the courage, strength, and love that’s not only seeping through the cracks, but also exploding within our hearts. Today, I share with you what Fashion Meets Poetry has taught me through the hearts of women:
We Are Not Strangers
The Unveiled Beauty empowerment stage has become a space where both our protected selves and authentic selves agree to embrace and the culmination of hidden confidence, buried memories and self-love is powerful. As I watched the women share their stories, hold back their tears and find their inner courage, I began to recognize myself. The stories spilled from their lips with layers of shame, sadness and strength as the memories came alive. Stories much different than my own, but within them, I knew a similar loneliness. Whether we were new acquaintances or old friends, it became evident that we were never strangers. If within another person, we can witness their heart and embody their pain, that person no longer becomes somebody else’s friend; they become someone we have always known. In essence, they become us and we become them.
The Answer is The Journey
As a philosophical and introspective woman, I have always been motivated by the quest for answers and stimulated by the pursuit of understanding. I have convinced myself that within every circumstance, situation or sequence of events lays a reason, a solution, or an explanation. There MUST be an answer. This mindset slowly began to breakdown and disintegrated as I became emotionally invested in each woman and her narrative. How beautifully she stood in front of her community revealing stories that shattered your spirit and crushed your heart. Once again, I found myself asking, “Why?” With tears over a father’s grave, abuse at the hands of a loved one or feelings of hopelessness and unworthiness, SHE endured. It was in witnessing these women, when I realized there was no answer. In life, the hardships that show up at our doorstep and the heartaches that break us are part of the journey complete with its own tragedies and blessings. If we begin to accept the path, it’s only then when we can recognize the journey itself IS the answer.
Collaboration Wins Over Competition
Coming of age, professionally, with a business degree and almost 20 years of experience in corporate America, I was taught that success is determined by how well a company differentiates their product, understands their target market and knows their competition. I was reminded of this recently when speaking to investors who asked me, “Who is your competition?” For the first time, I struggled with that question, not because I didn’t know the answer, but rather, I didn’t see them that way. I’ve come to believe that competition is just a concept created to motivate and push companies and individuals to move faster, work harder and be more innovative. Through the hearts and minds of women, I discovered that the most successful ones were not only leaning into their own unique talents and building profitable businesses, but they were replacing outdated concepts like competition with community and collaboration. If we begin to shift our competitive spirit to creating partnerships with shared goals, we all win and there is room for all of us. Together, we reach more, empower more, and on the shoulders of each other, we individually and collectively change lives, communities and yes, run successful businesses.
Words Can Heal
Since the beginning of time, words have always possessed the unparalleled power to free our thoughts, imaginations and souls. On their wings, we are sent to far away lands and imaginary worlds. On good days, they help us rewrite history and fall in love. And on bad days, they betray us by fueling hatred and fear. Words are essential in learning, relating, and connecting with one another and their mere existence, whether written, spoken, sung, or heard, brings people together and divides nations. These are the facts. Although, it wasn’t until I began my own journey did I discover the healing power of words. Poetry and writing saved me. However, the Unveiled Beauty: Cultivating YOU women’s empowerment events highlighted another form of healing. As one would expect, our speakers inspired our attendees with their stories, but being witnessed and heard became vital to the speakers’ own healing process. Openly sharing their truth and revealing their authentic self was empowering. If we begin to see words as building bridges and remedies for the soul, we can address the wounds of our hearts and the world we live in.
Bravery IS Beautiful
Every single woman who has graced the Unveiled Beauty empowerment stage is undeniably beautiful - the kind of authentic beauty that surpasses all definitions of conventional beauty. Whether they spoke on stage or modeled for the very first time, the courage and kindness I saw within these women is nearly impossible to describe. Despite any fears and unwelcomed insecurities, each woman harnessed her inner warrior, walked on that stage and owned it. Beneath the perfectly applied makeup and styled hair, there she stood; proving her vulnerability was her brave and her bravery was beautiful. Not only did she emerge triumphant, but she also encouraged the women around her so they too could shine. I continue to be in awe of the women I meet and the true beauty and bravery that lies within each one. If we begin to challenge the world’s definition of beauty and recognize it as the depth of heart, mind, spirit, we will discover beauty blossoming all around us.
As I said in the beginning and I will say again, we are alive! There is no question about it. Love, compassion and kindness still exist and it’s time to give them center stage. We cannot allow the world to lead us into darkness and overshadow what we know to be true. If we have been taught anything, it should be, that true Beauty and Bravery reside within all of us and we have the power to choose how we engage and lead in this world. After all, "she belongs to us" and deserves to be loved, to belong and to be seen and heard.
Fashion Meets Poetry was a journey I was meant to take and everything I shared with you only scratches the surface of what I have learned and continue to learn. More importantly, I am forever indebted to the women who have shared their stories and dared to unveil themselves. With their courage and strength, they inspired those around them and reminded us that we are not alone. There will always be darkness, tragedies and heartache, but in the end, we must ask ourselves… are we brave enough to embrace the light?
I choose to embrace the light. I invite you to join me.