If you are Tomeika Hunter Koski, you choose Happy, you choose family and close friends, and you choose to use your VOICE to change the lives of others in need. Tomeika entranced our 7th and largest Voice + Visibility Salon event last week. Ariel Blue, a Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe performer and Development/Arts Liaison started the evening off with this incredible performance of Superwoman, by Alicia Keys:
Tomeika’s Voice commands attention. She is a woman who knows who she is, where she came from, and what she stands for. Tomeika shared obstacles she overcame and triumphs she experienced during her years in the Army, at Spellman College, through her mothering, and world travels. She gives her Southern upbringing, a well selected circle of true friends, philanthropy and music credit for helping her choose happy every single day. She and her husband Bob have adopted a school in Mozambique that was recently devastated by the Cyclone. Tomeika has mobilized her network to ensure that she returns to Mozambique this summer on International Children’s Day with school supplies, uniforms, sanitary napkins and resources for over 3,000 school aged children. We agree with this student’s T-shirt: Everything is a Choice!
To see photos from our Voice + Visibility Salon event click here:
I’ve always been a serious fan of Alicia Keys, talk about a strong Voice! Her songs; Unthinkable, Fallin and Girl on Fire have been on every one of my playlists since 2009. But this Superwoman song-this one has gripped me in a whole new way. Especially here, especially now.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how different things would be in our homes, offices, communities and country if Women’s Voices were truly valued-and heard. I’ve been thinking about how important it is for women, and young girls to learn from an early age that their voice matters. That their hard work and labor was valued and compensated equally, and not invisible or taken for granted. I’ve long believed that my inner voice, my intuition is my biggest Superpower. Like so many women, however, at different chapters in my life I have silenced this inner voice, ignored her, doubted her-and I have suffered greatly for doing so. Until Now.
Dedicating 25 years to social advocacy in Boston, DC, California and Florida opened my eyes to the voices and stories of low income women, privileged women, and my favorite and often overlooked group of women-the bad ass middle class. Trauma nurses, teachers, cops, waitresses, administrative assistants, saleswomen, all holding the fabric of their organizations and our society together every single day-frequently heading home to care for children, elders, houses of worship and neighbors. These women need to be more Visible. Watching my beloved mother literally lose her words and voice due to advanced Alzheimer’s disease has been the most profoundly life altering experience for me. All of this, and also realizing that we are embarking on a monumental shift in America in terms of women’s roles and opportunities- these are some of the many inspirations behind the Voice + Visibility movement. Collectively, as women, and with the support of men, we need to claim the strength and beauty in our Voice + Visibility.
My best friend Cristina Young is a Therapist and Parenting expert in Connecticut. She recently shared this quote in the brilliant “UNDER HER COAT” blog created by Denise Restauri. It hit the bullseye for me.
“As I tiptoed reluctantly from age 50 to 51, these words began to rumble within me: ‘It’s time to live your life now.’ I have spent decades pleasing, rescuing and care taking. These skills come easily to me, and this is my work as a therapist. Spending so much time as a nurturer and validator meant that I was not honing the skill of deeply listening to myself. I could hear a faint whisper of my true self, but someone had dialed her down to a one or two. How would I have mothered successfully all these years if she had been on a ten? How would I have nodded agreeably all these years as my husband announced another client dinner or another business trip if she had been on a ten? My internal voice had to get quiet (or so I thought) to survive the intensity and demands of parenting three children, often alone. Sublimating my voice and my needs allowed me to tune in with precision to those I cared about most.
Times have changed. With older, more independent teenagers now, I find myself with a refreshing abundance of time on my hands. I am immersed in a daily conversation with that inner voice now, and I adore her. She seems to have grabbed the mic, and she’s dialed herself back up to a seven or eight. She’s the one saying in a delightful voice, ‘It’s time to live your life now.’ I’m actually content with her voice hovering in the seven-eight range for now. Maybe when we launch our youngest, I will give myself permission to let her roar, full blast, at a ten. Baby steps for now—we’re just getting re-acquainted!” Cristina Young @cmytherapy @cmck5 @Underhercoat Greenwich, CT
At what level is the dial tuned to your inner voice?
How do we dial up our voices? We must pursue Radical Self Love in the form of Radical Self Care to achieve this. Let’s be still, and befriend our inner voice. We must unlearn, and reject the inner and outer forces that give us negative messages of less than, never enough. Let’s practice saying what we actually mean, in every setting in our life. Let’s start saying NO more, and stop apologizing. When we set boundaries and connect with our true selves, we set our souls back on fire.
Strategically and systematically, research shows us that investing in education, innovation and wealth creation for the advancement of women and girls are great equalizers and opportunity builders. There is much work to be done in this space. I also believe that listening to other women’s stories, particularly those who are courageous enough to share their hardships, obstacles, and victories is legitimate soul food for women. It is for me. And don’t forget to play Superwoman-on repeat…because you know…it’s a great song and we need to remember that we have that S on our Chest!
This is the magic that is happening with the growth of the Voice + Visibility Women’s Network. We know that part of how women empower themselves both personally and professionally, is to connect with other women. This is even more effective when we open our hearts and minds to stories and journeys that are very different than our own. Universal themes of resilience, strength, endurance, joy and hope emerge. The Sisterhood has so much power when we gather with intention-and purpose.
Friends, I’m so pleased to announce that SRP, LLC is producing its Inaugural Voice + Visibility Women’s Summit in Sarasota on 2/4/20. Mark your calendars and save the date. We will host a Voice + Visibility Women’s Summit Lift off Luncheon on 9/17/19 at Michael’s on East in Sarasota. SRP, LLC is in the business of elevating bold, diverse Voices and we are GOING FOR IT! Florida is one of the most diverse states in America. SW Florida is a region that is emerging in many areas, and trailblazing in others. It is full of people, stories, breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and opportunity, and it is a place I am so proud to call home!
Elevating Bold, Diverse, Female Leadership, One Story at a Time!
Thank you Tomeika. Thank you Cristina. Thank you Ariel. Thank you mom. Thank you to the Tribe of exceptional SUPERWOMEN who inspire us all.
Let’s Dial up our Voices…It’s time to live our lives now!
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