I 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!
CM: 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“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:
- Confidence. Knowing and understanding the beauty in our voices and owning them.
- Using our voices more. Starting each day with voice. Writing, singing, or reciting words that shine light on our unique voices.
- Staying close to the people and things that give us the space to use our unique voices.
- 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.
“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.
- Add to it.
- Recite it.
- Record it.
- Listen to it.
- 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.
“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.
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!