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Embrace Your Voice Shavonne Broom of StyleChurch for You Look a Lot Like Me and Tortoise and Finch

The Healing Power of Voice: Giving the Gift of Your Voice – Part Three of a Three-Part Series

Embrace Your Voice Shavonne Broom of StyleChurch for You Look a Lot Like Me and Tortoise and FinchIn this last installment of our three-part series on the Healing Power of “Voice,” Shavonne Broom of StyleChurch shares some of her thoughts on giving (and receiving) the gift of one’s voice. It’s been a pleasure to speak with and learn from Shavonne over these past three months. We are so pleased to have another opportunity to hear more about her philosophy on the healing journey toward self-acceptance.

I believe it’s incredibly important to remind victims and survivors of domestic violence (and all forms of violence) that their voices are powerful and can help others to understand, heal, and change. It can be difficult to believe that when one has experienced any form of abuse. For those who may be reading this and struggling, Shavonne has shared some simple and thoughtful suggestions for getting in touch with one’s voice. I hope you find them helpful and inspiring.

Wishing all of you all the best this coming year and always,

Chloé

CM: Many people think of this as “the season of giving.” Is that true for you?

SB: Well, funny you ask. This the first year my family and I didn’t exchange gifts. Living from a service-oriented space makes the season of giving an everyday occurrence. I love spending quality time with family and was not affected by the decision to forego the gift exchange. I adore my mother and appreciate all the time she spends preparing for the holidays with great food options, house decorations and perfectly-wrapped gifts. However, the most enjoyable parts of the holidays for me are the time shared with family and friends, making new memories, and great laughs. My love language supports this as I express and receive love most through acts of service and quality time. Therefore, the best gifts I received were always through acts of kindness and/or time shared.

CM: When did you first start to recognize that your voice was a gift—both a gift to receive and a gift to give?

SB: Not too long ago. I mean, over the last year I realized that sharing my story could serve as a gift for me and help heal and encourage others as well. I’ve talked about my love for style during the past two interviews, however, I felt much more connected to the story behind style and how it shaped who I am and how I serve and support others today. My life journey is about self-acceptance, and once I discovered how to connect self-acceptance with style—by embracing individuality and sharing “voice”—I knew I had a gift to share.

My life journey is about self-acceptance, and once I discovered how to connect self-acceptance with style—by embracing individuality and sharing “voice”—I knew I had a gift to share.

CM: Once someone finds or connects with her or his “voice,” what do you believe changes?

SB: Finding “voice” is a journey that evolves over time. When we find our voice, I believe we operate from a much more grounded place.

  • We are open and honest about our stories (courageous and vulnerable).
  • We are clear about what we want in our lives and take consistent action towards goals daily (clarity).
  • We have a strong belief in a greater, more abundant life, visualizing it, and living it (conviction).
  • We show up in the world knowing we deserve to be there (confidence).

CM: How can people start to really conceptualize their “voice” as being something of value to others?

SB: I love this question. I’ll say that we have to practice using our voices more. I encourage others to start with activities or creative projects that feel liberating and give your “voice” away. Share your voice by gifting it to others or donate your gift of voice to organizations and causes that you feel strongly about. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels and the clarity you get by using your voice.

You’ll be amazed at how good it feels and the clarity you get by using your voice.

CM: I have experienced that many victims of domestic violence and bullying feel as though their voices are not of value, or that no one sees or hears them, or cares to see or hear them. Thinking of one’s voice as a gift when one is struggling with those thoughts and emotions can be difficult. Victims may also be afraid to use the powerful voices they know they possess because their emotional, spiritual, or physical safety have been threatened. What would you suggest for those who may be feeling like they have nothing to offer, or who may be afraid to use their voice because they have been told they will be harmed if they do?

SB: I certainly understand how sharing voice can seem impossible in these circumstances. No one should have to be alone in this process. When other creative outlets like dance, writing, or other forms of art are not possible or feasible for a situation, sometimes all we can do is feel, and I believe when we feel, we create space for our wisdom (our higher voice) to speak. Our wisdom speaks from the core and transcends the thoughts or words that have left us feeling lack, pain and fear. Feel, connect to what is, and breathe. Allow the emotion to pass and for the inner voice to guide you back to love. This practice is quite fascinating and will leave you feeling light again.

Our wisdom speaks from the core and transcends the thoughts or words that have left us feeling lack, pain and fear. Feel, connect to what is, and breathe. Allow the emotion to pass and for the inner voice to guide you back to love.

CM: When was the first time you gave the gift of your voice to someone else?

SB: I remember immediately following a salsa dance lesson with my new instructor, Angel S., we sparked up a conversation about the stack of beaded bracelets I wore on my left wrist. From there the conversation led to spirituality. Angel has this innate gift of creating safe spaces for people, as a life coach and dance instructor. Within a very short time, I was sharing some very personal and struggling times with childhood bullying and patterns of failed relationships. We laughed about this later and I’ll even venture to say that the dance lesson was the medium in which he and I were meant to connect. Angel was my spiritual guide.

What I learned most from our time together is, in dance partnerships and in relationships, true connection is never forced. I feel connection lives in the center space between two grounded yet open and receptive individuals. Learning how to release childhood fears of rejection and judgment (because they still show up) and let go of control has allowed me to be more open and to be a better dancer. I know I don’t have to take care of myself by myself. If I allow myself to be supported (and led) I can live life with much more ease and grace and leave space for connection to happen. And this, my friends, is the magic of dance (and relationships).

If I allow myself to be supported (and led) I can live life with much more ease and grace and leave space for connection to happen.

CM: What are some others ways that you and your company, StyleChurch, have given to others through the gift of your voice?

SB: Speaking aloud about my own journey of self-acceptance and supporting other women through theirs. I’ve presented on self-acceptance and powerful presence and offered personal styling services in the for-purpose arena and to transitioning military service members.

My very first speaking engagement was in a classroom at Dress for Success San Antonio. These were a group of women transitioning into the workforce from various backgrounds including: homelessness, drug/alcohol recovery, domestic violence, and incarceration. I shared tips on how to be more confident and to show up every day with clarity and intention. I included tips on building a basic wardrobe and dressing for a professional environment.

I was nervous; however, I was very comfortable in this environment. I’d seen some of their faces before, and even heard their stories, but this presentation left me feeling a bit jittery. I took a deep breath and went ALL IN. It took me a good 10-15 minutes to find my rhythm, but there was a point when the audience became completely engaged. I’m not sure exactly when, but they were asking questions, laughing, sharing personal stories, and having fun. Time was non-existent…

After I concluded the presentation, I was surrounded by sounds of applause, hugs, and smiles. I’ve given two more presentations since then and the ladies still remember me, share warm embraces, and tell me how much they appreciated my speeches. I am always in awe and filled with so much love. This reminds me of the power of sharing voice and how the connection among people and communities strengthen because of it. I love the Dress for Success community.

You Look a Lot Like Me Interview with Shavonne Broom of StyleChurch True Self Expression

CM: What is one suggestion, one simple thing someone can do today, no matter what her/his circumstances, to either receive or give the gift of her/his voice?

SB: Making self-care a priority and incorporating it as a daily practice, like creating or writing, in ways that support their voice. I understand these creative outlets may not be feasible in certain conditions and I’d love to share some other mindful exercises to consider:

  • Reflection: Remembering joy, laughter, and love through our favorite times from the past always connects us back to our essence and the realization that we are more than what’s happening in a given moment.
  • Visualization: This is another creative, yet mindful exercise where you get to let your mind wander a bit. Take yourself to the place you’ve always wanted to be and give yourself permission to receive what that feels like for you.
  • Asking questions: This is a recent practice that is so powerful. Ask yourself “How can I find peace in this moment?” This clears out limiting options and gives your conscious mind the option to seek out and return more viable options. Try this one today!

CM: What are some other suggestions?

SB: Keep moving and stay engaged, be an advocate for the voiceless, support an organization or a cause, or become a mentor/confidant to someone else.

CM: What would you say the gift of one’s “voice”—one’s true self expressed, either through words, or art, or dance, etc.—is meant to do in the world?

SB: When we choose to share our voices, through art, dance, etc., we support the healing process in others in limitless ways. I believe the way in which we impact others aligns with how our voices and stories have impacted our own lives. This is what makes our voices and stories so unique.

I’ll share a bit of my own story. After launching StyleChurch as a personal fashion styling/consulting business, I realized something was missing for me—the piece that separated me from all the other stylists and connected to my own journey. The missing link for me was self-acceptance. My journey to style was my way of expressing my voice when I was afraid to otherwise for fear of rejection, judgment or ridicule. My mission became less about style and more about encouraging others to share their unique voices through creative expression. This business venture evolved into a movement and a way to share with others the power of turning your unique journey, gifts and stories into an expression of love (through self-acceptance). I feel we add a bit more love to the world by first accepting and loving ourselves. There are various mediums to express self-acceptance; style is one that I choose because it combines the use of “voice” with creative expression and encourages me to take bolder action in my life and choose exactly how I want to support others in their journey to self-acceptance.

I feel we add a bit more love to the world by first accepting and loving ourselves.

CM: We’ve so enjoyed having you with us for this three-part series on the Healing Power of Voice and are deeply grateful for all that you’ve shared with our audience. Any final thoughts that you would like to share with our readers?

SB: Wow, Chloé! I love how the process felt so organic.You made it easy for me to say yes! I hope this interview series encourages more men and women to share their stories. The gift of voice is so precious and the medium in which we can begin to heal ourselves and the community around us. Let’s keep our voices alive!

And to my friends, old and new…

You are beautiful.
You are enough.
You are whole.
You are accepted.
And your voice is needed.

Shavonne Broom is the founder of StyleChurch and one of the prize contributors for Tortoise and Finch’s “On Courage” Writing Contest. We are so grateful to Shavonne for making the time to share her wisdom and insights with our audience and wish her the best with her StyleChurch movement in 2016 and beyond. 

To learn more about Shavonne and her StyleChurch movement, or to inquire about having her speak at your next community event, training, or workshop, please visit her website or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

If you missed parts one and two of our three-part series on The Healing Power of Voice with Shavonne, please click here to read more. We hope you enjoyed this series. Shavonne will be back for more later this year, so please stay tuned. We definitely find her wisdom to be a gift and we hope you do, too!

HOW HAVE YOU SHARED THE GIFT OF YOUR VOICE WITH OTHERS? PLEASE SHARE WITH US IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.



Expressing Thanksgiving with Shavonne Broom of StyleChurch via You Look a Lot Like Me

The Healing Power of Voice: Expressing Thanksgiving – Part Two of a Three-Part Series

Expressing Thanksgiving with Shavonne Broom of StyleChurch via You Look a Lot Like MeI hope you all enjoyed Part One of Our Three-Part Interview Series on The Healing Power of Voice with Shavonne Broom of StyleChurch. Shavonne and I are continuing the discussion this month with a focus on “expressing thanksgiving.”

When I was about 18, I heard Oprah talk about her practice of keeping a gratitude journal. If I am remembering correctly, she suggested making time every day to write down five things that you were grateful for in your life. Listening that day, I understood with great clarity that what she was talking about was one of the keys to peace of mind and would be of great significance for my life. As a result, I have kept some form of a gratitude journal since that day. That practice—my practice of thanksgiving—has been one of the most important and healing things I have ever done. I would highly recommend it.

In this interview, Shavonne shares her thoughts on the healing power of expressing thanksgiving. I hope you find her words as empowering and inspiring as I have.

In closing, while we are on the topic of gratitude, I just want to say how grateful I am for the gift of being supported by all of you who make time to read these posts and share your feedback. Tortoise and Finch Productions has always been blessed with a sincerely positive and uplifting community and we deeply appreciate having you as part of that community. So, thank you and enjoy!

Chloé

You Look a Lot Like Me Interview on Expressing Thanksgiving with Shavonne Broom of StyleChurchCM: Last week here in the U.S., many families and loved ones gathered to celebrate some variation of our modern-day Thanksgiving tradition. What does this time of the year represent for you? What memories does it conjure?

SB: This is the time of year I think about my grandmother the most. Funny, I often wonder how 20+ people managed to fit into the tiny two-bedroom apartment occupied by my grandmother and grandfather in Parsippany, New Jersey, but I realize space and time really didn’t exist. I don’t think my family or I ever really considered the space at all. I enjoyed the family trip from Virginia to New Jersey every year, as I fully anticipated the loads of food and desserts my grandparents had spent hours preparing. Plus this trip was like a mini family reunion. We’d spend hours reminiscing on childhood memories, laughing and playing games—spades being the card game of choice—with family members we had not seen in at least a year.

Coming back around full circle, this time of year really represents:

  1. Intimacy: The gathering of loved ones in small spaces. The center of my world is connection and intimate spaces create a sense of closeness that makes the connection so effortless.
  2. Reflection: My grandmother has passed on, however, my family keeps the tradition going strong. There’s no shortage of food at our Thanksgiving table. (Call me. We’ll make room for you). Grandma would be proud.
  3. Gratitude: It’s in these very moments when I feel love, abundance and support the most. Gratitude is the foundation for everything great in life. I know not to take that for granted.

“Gratitude is the foundation for everything great in life. I know not to take that for granted.” 

CM: Do you have any special traditions you love to celebrate at this time of year? 

SB: This is the time of year to show special appreciation and love to the eldest and the youngest in the family. I joined my grandfather, aunt, uncle and cousins in San Antonio for Thanksgiving this year. We were grateful to have four generations at the table. My grandfather is the eldest at 88 and my cousins’ newest born son is six months old. Family members will ensure these two are loved, supported, and nurtured throughout to show appreciation for bringing so much joy to our family each day we get to see them, hold them, talk to them, and love on them.

CM: How does the concept of gratitude manifest itself in your life?

SB: I make a conscious effort to focus my energy on what’s already great in my life. I created a gratitude list that I recorded to serve as a guide to owning and expressing my voice. I’d love to continue supporting others in their journeys toward self-acceptance as well, so I start by expressing gratitude for wonderful opportunities like this interview series with you, Chloè, to reach, advocate for, and connect to so many women across the globe. What an absolute honor.

CM: Would you say gratitude is a part of your personal philosophy?

SB: I am a student of gratitude and I’m learning that every great opportunity, every chance to love, every teacher, every lesson and every experience in my life offers me the choice to recognize the gift of gratitude. I’m building this muscle every day by choosing to experience gratitude over pain and fear.

Expressing Thanksgiving with Shavonne Broom via You Look a Lot Like Me: The Healing Power of Voice

“I’m learning that every great opportunity, every chance to love, every teacher, every lesson, and every experience in my life offers me the choice to recognize the gift of gratitude.” 

CM: How does your inner voice receive gratitude? 

SB: My inner voice receives gratitude every time I tune in and follow the guidance that it speaks so softly, but also profoundly. My inner voice and wisdom never seem to compete with all the other rambling thoughts in my mind, yet the instant tug on my heart always lets me know they are present.

CM: How do you believe an “attitude of gratitude” affects our journey toward well-being and self-acceptance?

SB: I believe gratitude is appreciation and acceptance for what is. A consistent attitude of gratitude clears the head space of mental clutter and places us in the position to see and receive the true gift in each experience. Through the expression of gratitude (for self), we learn to be more accepting of our individuality, so we can take more bold and courageous actions toward the life we want.

CM: Is the practice of thanksgiving something that comes naturally for you or do you have to really work at it? When can it be difficult to express thanksgiving? How do those challenges impact your voice?

SB: I love this question because intellectually the concepts of gratitude and thanksgiving seem very simplistic. Thanksgiving is a spiritual practice I’m learning to incorporate into my life on a daily basis. Let me tell you—gratitude comes so easily with success and small victories; it’s in the midst of the storm where my practice is truly tested. Sometimes I allow my mind to get caught up in the whirlwind of the storm and the expression of thanksgiving becomes an afterthought. I can even retreat at times and choose to work through the storm on my own. My independent mind and spiritual need for connection seemingly clash and result in less than optimal results and huge amounts of stress on my mind, body and spirit. I know that making gratitude a daily practice makes these challenging times a bit more bearable to get through because it opens up my heart to see the growth opportunity. Moreover, I believe in the reciprocal effect of gratitude and that’s why I continue to practice thanksgiving.

CM: How can we learn to be grateful for our unique voices?

SB: Learning to be grateful for our unique voices comes with:

  1. Confidence. Knowing and understanding the beauty in our voices and owning them.
  2. Using our voices more. Starting each day with voice. Writing, singing, or reciting words that shine light on our unique voices.
  3. Staying close to the people and things that give us the space to use our unique voices.
  4. Showing gratitude for every opportunity to express voice. (Thank you, Chloé.)

CM: How can we use our voices to express our gratitude to those individuals or organizations who have helped us along the way, who have believed in and bolstered our voices?

SB: Oh, well, when you get a great opportunity to do a three-part interview series on The Healing Power of Voice, show gratitude by simply saying “thank you” to the ones who support you, keep you lifted, and challenge you beyond your psychological limits!

Seriously, though, here are some fun ways to express gratitude:

  • Talk about them. We love to talk about who and what we love on social media. This is a great chance to brag on your supporters.
  • Ask how you can support them and do so.
  • Do something on their behalf. Acts of service and charitable donations are great ideas. Remember, size doesn’t matter. The impact does.
  • Say “thank you” often, in as many creative ways as you can.

“The best gift to give is to pay it forward…Go back into your community and mentor, guide, and support someone else. I guarantee you it will fill your heart, bring love and meaning to your life, and make your supporters proud.” 

CM: How might we use our voices to give something back to the people who have made a positive difference in our lives? Not something material, but something meaningful, something that is uniquely ours to give.

SB: The best gift to give is to pay it forward. Be the one to bring a sense of hope back into the community. Start at home. Go back into your community and mentor, guide, and support someone else. I guarantee you it will fill your heart, bring love and meaning to your life, and make your supporters proud.

Expressing Thanksgiving with Shavonne Broom of StyleChurch via You Look a Lot Like Me

“Make gratitude a daily practice. Start today by creating your own gratitude manifesto and write down everything you’re grateful for in this moment. Add to the list everyday.”

CM: What are some ways you suggest to get in touch with our gratitude and to tie that gratitude into the healing power of our voices?

SB: Make gratitude a daily practice. Start today by creating your own gratitude manifesto and write down everything you’re grateful for in this moment. Add to the list everyday. I have one of my own and my friend suggested I record myself reciting the words. Oh, did that bring tears to my eyes. Try it. This is quite the exercise in gratitude and appreciating and accepting your unique voice.

CM: What are some creative ways to express thanksgiving?

SB: Oh, the sky’s the limit, my friend! I love expressing my voice through style because that’s how I feel most connected to my voice. I’d say, find what feels most natural and do it often. Sing, dance, write, perform, create, speak. Do what makes your heart sing. You were created to express yourself in a way that is unique to you.

“Sing, dance, write, perform, create, speak. Do what makes your heart sing. You were created to express yourself in a way that is unique to you.”

CM: How can we work to maintain our gratitude when our lives are feeling aimless, hopeless, disappointing, or overwhelming?

SB: Making gratitude a non-negotiable part of our days is a great way to maintain gratitude, especially when life doesn’t feel great. A personal gratitude list or manifesto can serve as an excellent reminder of all the great things in our lives we may otherwise take for granted.

  1. Add to it.
  2. Recite it.
  3. Record it.
  4. Listen to it.
  5. Reflect upon it. Daily.

CM: How can we use gratitude to help us grow?

SB: Expressing gratitude helps us grow because it takes our mindset out of lack and scarcity and into love and abundance. As the shift happens, our world shines a bit brighter and we can begin to see how each experience of our lives is meant to support us in developing and refining our own voice, teaching us how to love and appreciate who we are—a true expression of love.

The Healing Power of Voice: Expressing Thanksgiving with Shavonne Broom of StyleChurch via You Look a Lot Like Me

“Every instance we choose to use voice to express gratitude brings us closer to the world around us…”

CM: Any final thoughts on how voice and thanksgiving are or should be connected?

The expression of thanksgiving is a choice to use our voice to show appreciation. Every instance we choose to use voice to express gratitude brings us closer to the world around us, and enables us to feel more connected, supported, and loved. 

We are so pleased to share that Shavonne is one of the prize contributors for Tortoise and Finch’s “On Courage” contest. We are currently accepting submissions and we’d love to hear from you! We are seeking true stories of what “courage” means to you. There is no fee to enter the contest and you just might win one of Shavonne’s Love, Me Manifestos. Learn more at Tortoise and Finch.

To learn more about Shavonne and her StyleChurch movement, please visit her website or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Please stay tuned for Part Three of our three-part interview series with Shavonne on The Healing Power of Voice. In December, we’ll be talking about The Gift of Your Voice. We look forward to hearing more from Shavonne and to sharing her thoughts with all of you. We definitely find her wisdom to be a gift!

HOW DO YOU EXPRESS THANKSGIVING? DO YOU HAVE A DAILY RITUAL? DO YOU KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL? PLEASE SHARE WITH US IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW. 



Share Your Story of Courage With Us

"On Courage" Writing Contest

Tortoise and Finch Productions, LLC is gathering up stories of courage. We’re pleased to announce our first Nonfiction Writing Contest, “On Courage,” which will run until 11:59 p.m. on December 31st, 2015. It’s free to submit your story and we’re offering some cool prizes from some truly inspiring authors and entrepreneurs. Learn more here.

Each of the films currently in development or in release with Tortoise and Finch are focused, in some way, on courage. We are continually inspired in our work by the strength and bravery of the individuals we are privileged enough to speak with and interview, and this made us want to learn more about how others see and experience courage in their daily lives.

We decided to launch “On Courage” in October as part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month because we have been especially moved over the past seven years by the incredible courage of those who have lived with and survived domestic abuse in its myriad forms. This is one small way of acknowledging how their courage has inspired us.

No matter who we are or where we come from, we all experience fear, doubts and sad, frightening, or challenging situations in our lives. So, we want you to tell us about what courage has looked and felt like for you. We want you to share with us a time in your life when you have had to develop, lean on, or rediscover your courage. You can choose to tie your submission to any of the themes of our current projects—domestic violence, postpartum depression, love, serious illness, death and dying, or aging as a woman—or not. It’s entirely up to you.

We wish you luck and we look forward to reading your submissions!