Until around 9:40 this morning, I had no idea who Shauna Rowland was. We had never met socially or professionally. In point of fact, she found out about this project via LinkedIn. It is fair to say that we might never have connected and it would be fair to say that I would be a lesser person for that. Meeting people, breaking up our own little protected worlds to see the world through someone else's eyes is what makes life interesting. Life is a journey, not a trip. You never know where you are going on a journey, they are exciting and unpredictable. Trips are planned, they have itineraries and timelines, they are boring. On our respective journeys today, Shauna and I shared some road, and a cup of coffee. I am much better for it.
Shauna is an incredible human being. If you don't know her, you should. She has a magnificent intellect, her keen eyes are focused when she is listening to you, and she is definitely listening to you. Her smile and her laugh hold real joy, her poise and her presence hold true strength, a power earned from understanding and accepting there are weaknesses yet not forgetting the power underlying it all, her truth.
If there is one thing she is about above all, it is owning your truth and who you are. She wears her hair natural, a fitting crown for this marvelous woman, a little wild and deeper than you can fathom. She once entered a beauty pageant, just to do it, and refused to alter her hair like other competitors. She won.
Shauna is a mother of two children. Her love for them is a physical sensation when with her, a feeling in the air. She believes in teaching them to value an education, even more than most, because as African-American children it is something no one can take away from them. They will always be educated. She wants them to be proud of who they are, but to love others for who they are, a true love of diversity. We talk a lot about diversity, about race in America.
Maybe it is an easier conversation because we are like minded. I tell her about my views on diversity, how I believe it makes your world bigger, about the times it saved my life, about the time I discovered jazz in a public library. We share stories about where we are from, about our lives, our fears. We talk about BlacKkKlansman (I really want to see it, she has), about the peach crayon and family. We talk about greatness.
Shauna believes in the ability of people to be great, in their ability to overcome or move past their weaknesses and onto their strengths, their passions, their loves, their truth. Truth, that is a word that describes Shauna Rowland. If the commandment is to know thyself, then she is an example to follow.
"Rock who you are."
Hours after we parted, those words are still in my head. We meet people and leave an impression on them. While our moments together are ephemeral, the etching we make on each others lives remains. In a world where we all struggle within our own skin, for whatever reason at whatever time, these words are what we should hold on to. If you have ever wondered what wisdom sounds like, this is it. Need proof? Compare it to this.
"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without." Buddha
Sound similar? It is universal that you must love who you are, and it is one of the hardest things to do. We are both our greatest strength and our greatest weakness, a voice of love and strength as well as a voice of doubt. I like to think I've hit my stride lately, but Shauna knows who she is, and she rocks who she is.
Mother, wife, powerful, African-American, intellectual, sage, consultant, counselor, beauty, woman and many more, Shauna rocks all of those. They are who she is.
When she waves to her next meeting, the day slows a bit, but it has been glorious so far. I have had a fantastic talk and begun building a new friendship. Take a moment to look at the picture. Whether you know me or her, maybe you are learning about one of us for the first time here, isn't it wonderful? Make no mistake, we are all different. Even our skin is slightly different as Shauna points out. We are all diverse. Isn't it beautiful?
Favorite Dinosaur: Stegosaurus
Why: When you think of ferocious dinosaurs you think of T-Rex, this one is not so scary but it could do so much damage, it is so powerful. Don't judge a dinosaur by its teeth...or its stubby arms.