In 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,
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.
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!