About a month ago, 2 of my brothers, my girlfriend and her daughter, and I had the opportunity to go to sunny (and very hot) Arizona to celebrate my mom’s birthday. A great time was had by all, and as always, it made me appreciate this powerhouse of a woman all the more. Now, for those who barely know her, you would see a relatively quiet, soft spoken woman, one who doesn’t like rattling people’s cages and just enjoys everyone’s company. Those in the know see a different woman behind the scenes. To give you a taste of the strength and tenacity of this woman: one night we were sitting around talking about life and goals and stuff. Mom starts in with what she is planning for her 80th birthday. She says she is going to jump out of a plane… again.
Yes, this is my mom at Maccu Picchu 🙂
I have mentioned often about the men that have helped shape my life, and I will always be indebted to James McCullough, Chuck Robinson, Lynwood Barr and Rev. Earl Anderson, among others for showing me what it means to be a man. But for my adventurous spirit, my willingness to challenge convention, and for my love for cultures and people, that comes from my mom.
I have always been surprised when I would hear men talking about how women couldn’t or shouldn’t do certain things. Recently I was talking with Holly’s daughter, Mackenzie about a movie she saw and loved, The Battle of the Sexes. This movie starred Emma Stone as Billie Jean King, and Steve Carrell as Bobby Riggs, chronicling their epic match where Bobby thought he could beat her just because he was a man. I was lucky enough to be around when the match happened, and I remember being happy that he lost, cuz I didn’t like his bragging. I guess growing up with a woman who figured out how to raise 4 kids on her own, create her own “mini real estate empire”, and do so many things for which people would have counted her out (like sitting down with The Dalai Lama… twice), I have always thought of people’s abilities as their abilities, not because they were male or female.
So, I grew up doing things that were unconventional, because she taught me, by example, that I could. I started preaching at 15 years old because… well, I knew I was called. I created my own comic strip at 6 years old, and tutored kids in my first grade class… again, because I knew I had what it took. Later in life I had the opportunity to run in the Master’s Nationals against former Olympians and professional football players, and not just run against them, but beat them… all because this quiet powerhouse of a woman always said, “you can”.
I have spoken to a lot of people my age, who talk about “slowing down”, about not wanting to pursue things… they are looking for retirement and the easy life, and I don’t knock them for that. If they can do it, that’s great for them, and they have earned it. For me, I feel like I am back in the blocks, like there is so much more to do and experience. I am looking forward to heading back to China and Myanmar, and adding a host of other countries to my list. I am looking forward to the books I will publish, and who knows… I may get back on the track and challenge for the prize one more time. I anticipate these things because the one who goes before me challenges me with her own life… nothing is off of her life list. She is going to keep doing until she has nothing else to do, for that’s how she has always lived her life.
And why not? After all, life is meant to be lived and experienced. If there is one lesson I can take from her life, it is that, and I plan to do that until I leave this earth.
So here’s to you, mom… my launching pad. You continue to inspire me to reach for the stars, and that’s what I plan to do 🙂
One way that I know the strength of my mom’s influence is not because of my own life, but because of my daughter, Imani Tahira.
No, that is not a photoshopped image. My daughter has been taking the “you can” and “why not” mantra to the world for over 10 years, sharing God’s love with hundreds, if not thousands of people. She has been all over Asia, including the northwestern region of China where she was able to see some of the best horsemen and women in the world, and where she got this epic shot. Her latest quest is Italy, and you can read all about her adventures on her site, itsimani.com.