Earlier this year, I joined a crew team. I’ve never done anything like this before, but on a whim I showed up at a practice and the next thing I knew I was in a boat paddling away on the Schuylkill River. “I’ve never done this before,” I exclaimed, but 21 women welcomed me with open arms, tossed a vest and paddle to me and said, “Don’t worry, just follow the woman in front of you.”
Less than two weeks later, I would find myself facing a new challenge with these women—my first competitive race. As I boarded the boat I suddenly realized this was only my fourth time in the boat—ever! Now here I was competing with a team—one hungry to win. I began to replay in my head what I learned in just three short practices… concentrate, watch your form, recover quickly if you have a bad stroke and make the next one count, breathe… before I knew it we were off… 4, 4, 4, up 5, 5, 5 up… power 10 now!!!! We raced 500 meters and came in dead last. Twice. But much to the amazement of our coaches and team, our time qualified us for the finals.
As we boarded the boat for our third and final race that day, I again replayed what I learned, this time rehearsing lessons from the failures of our previous two races. Our coaches directed us to keep our eyes in the boat, focus on the beat of the drummer, stay in harmony with the woman in front of you and be ready to start at any moment. “We have alignment! Go!” 4, 4, 4, up 5, 5, 5 up…power 10 now!!! We took first in the finals.
A week later that same group of women—from all walks of life and only a few practices together— competed in Paddle for Pink, a race to raise funds for breast cancer research. We were undefeated in all three races and walked away with championship medals. Not only were we rewarded for our racing skills, but our character, as we were bestowed with a spirit award for our sportsmanship. Upon learning that and as I write this blog, all I can hear is “we have alignment.”
Alignment in competition represents the perfect moment to begin the race. It’s the moment all boats are aligned on the water—in spite of the conditions of the wind and the waves. Alignment also represents that moment of clarity that comes from heightening our sensitivity to our “drummer” to tune out all of the conditions that attempt to prevent us from moving forward. That drummer for me is the voice of the Holy Spirit who on January 6, 2013 beckoned me to begin what is now known as “A Woman’s Business” through a message at my church entitled “Going to the Other Side.”
“… he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side… And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” Mark 4:35-40
This account challenged me to stop focusing on what I perceived to be the winds and the waves—or the conditions that existed to prevent me from moving forward—but to listen to that still, small voice inside of me—the beat of the drummer—to navigate me through the “conditions” and align me with my destiny. Upon realization of this, I heard “what are you waiting for, go to the other side?” For me, that meant starting “A Woman’s Business” which I did with a group of women who first met on January 14, 2013. Since then, this group about the size of my crew team, has been on a journey to change perception and restore the position of women around the world—beginning with how we first see and relate to one another.
We officially began by offering a “Love Thyself” workshop series for women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction at a transitional housing facility in North Philadelphia. Not only have we witnessed the women we serve learn to love themselves, WE have learned to love ourselves—seeing our value and the impact we have when we individually AND collectively come into alignment with our destiny.
In less than a year, A Woman’s Business has received numerous requests to replicate its service not only in this region, but around the world. We’ve been able to achieve this simply because we chose to focus on the beat of the drummer, harmonize with the women around us and position ourselves to be ready to start at any moment. So, we have alignment. Now, what are you waiting for?
Founder of A Woman’s Business, Angela M. Brown is a daughter, sister, wife, mother, auntie, friend, mentor, PR executive, talk show host and community leader—a woman recognized for making a difference and inspiring others to do the same. Follow her and her service on Twitter via @BrownAngelaM or @AWomansBusiness.
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