Blog: Heart of A Woman

About A Woman’s Business: Meet Alma Padgett by Renee A. Berry

As an extension of the four-part vision of A Woman’s Business to Reveal, Restore, Release and Replicate, every month #HeartofaWoman blogger Renee Berry showcases a woman to challenge the stereotypes and change the conversation about and between women. Do you have a story to tell?  Let us know!  Send your thoughts and suggestions to submissions@awomansbusiness.org.

Alma Franchesca, About A Woman's Business

Alma Franchesca, About A Woman’s Business

Who:  Alma Franchesca Padgett. As far as my age, it varies from August 9, 1952 to August 9, 1954. I am a widow, a mother of three daughters who are all very different, unique individuals, a grandmother, great-grandmother, caretaker for my brother who has been disabled since birth and am thankful for my church family, the sisterhood I’ve found there, and real friends!

Where: I was born in Macon, Georgia, but I currently residing in Sicklerville, New Jersey. My father was in the military and did not find out about me until later on. When he came back for me, he also came with a wife. From there, I paid a life-long price as the two warred with each other. I did live with him and his wife for a period of time, but things became too much for his wife and I returned to my grandmother and later to my mother.

What’s your average day look like? My average day is caring for my grandsons, Anthony and Tony, who have both been diagnosed with autism. They are my heart and I pray I am here to see them into adulthood. While they are in school, I spend my time on daily chores, my study time, running errands, and I also like serving at two of my church’s food pantries, meeting new people and inviting them out to church. I also have started working on my autobiography from my childhood to adulthood and my relationship with my mother. For fun, I enjoy reading and my quiet time.

I previously worked with substance abuse clients, but upon finding myself with custody of my grandsons, I was no longer able to work as my position often required extended hours, morning and evening, and I was unable to find appropriate care for them. Tony, who was almost seven years old at the time, was not toilet trained and was non-verbal. He was a challenge. For more than two months, I took him to work with me daily.  My office was great in helping me, but my work required that I was in an out of the office, so as one could imagine, this could not continue.

What inspires you? I am inspired by women who have overcome obstacles to be whole. In spite of a difficult childhood, I have been a department head in a level one trauma center, successfully started a small business management company and tax preparation firm, and was in the process of obtaining my substance abuse counselor license prior to taking my grandchildren. My family and my church keep me going. I love music, especially pianos. I enjoy all types of music, from classical to contemporary, meeting new people, cooking, wedding planning and boating, I love the water!

What cause is close to your HEART? What is close to my heart is helping women with substance abuse issues. I was an advocate on the Governor’s Council for Substance Abuse and a strong supporter of support services. I have attended and spoke several times to the New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly in reference to services for a very vulnerable population and the inequities of treatment, especially regarding women. 

Do you have any Advice for women today? The most important advice I can give women is to put God first, value yourself, do not be ashamed to ask for help and surround yourself with positive women who are about something.

Heart of a Woman Blogger Renee Berry.

Heart of a Woman Blogger Renee Berry.

Renee A. Berry (formerly known as Renee A. Simons) is a newly married, lifestyle writer and member of the AWB Network, serving as a blogger for the “Heart of a Woman” weekly blog. Her loves include family, friends, design arts, fashion and a growing obsession with hair and its impact on today’s media, culture and community. Her quirky personal stories, plus hair and beauty product reviews, can be found on her blog “Curls and Clothes,” as well as the websites of Old School 100.3 and Praise 103.9 Philadelphia radio stations. Connect with Renee on Twitter and Instagram.

Have a story idea or feedback about something you read on “Heart of a Woman”? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Contact us at submissions@awomansbusiness.org or leave a comment.

 

 

Life is for the Living by Angela M. Brown

Unknown-1“You told Harpo to beat me!?”  Who doesn’t love a good one-liner from The Color Purple? The acclaimed novel by Alice Walker, and the subsequent stage and screenplay, depicts the life and trials of one woman’s struggle to overcome loss, abuse and find her identity. While centered on the main character, Celie, you quickly discover that struggle does not discriminate.

As I sit here pondering my remarks to a group of 200 widows I’ll address later today, I’m reminded of this fact. We all inevitably face struggle, whether it’s the loss of a spouse, job, business, home, car, dream, or worst of all in my opinion, hope. From that perspective, struggle is easy.

Living, on the other hand, is not only hard, it’s for the discriminating, i.e., those possessing a distinctive quality—the ability to let go and move on. Celie powerfully demonstrates this with perhaps her most compelling one-liner proclaimed after she conjures the courage to face and leave her abuser, “I’m still here!”

But before you use this as justification to quit your job, give up your dream or leave your spouse—let me explain.

The book of Genesis, chapters 37-50 recounts the life of Joseph and his journey from imagining his dream life to realizing the life of his dreams. In the process, he was envied, hated, stripped of his garment (or who he thought he was) only to be falsely accused of rape, wrongfully imprisoned and forgotten in jail before realizing his true identity and purpose.

“And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Genesis 45:3-7

After all that had happened to Joseph, instead of blaming those closest too him who caused him the most pain, he forgave. As he had done countless times before in order to arrive at the position described in Genesis 45, Joseph let go and moved on, not limiting his identity to his past or his pain, but allowing it to propel him into his purpose—in this instance, saving his family and ultimately a nation.

You may question why those closest to us at times cause the most pain, but the answer lies in the question—because they’re the closest to us. You may also ask, “why forgive?” I’ve come to learn that both the prisoner and the prison guard are in jail, until the one standing guard over their offender exercises the liberty to let go and move on.

We may not like the circumstances that brought us to where we are, but THANK GOD, we are not defined by our circumstances.  Let’s stop looking back, focused on where we’ve been and what has happened to us, and get back to living.  Life is meant to be lived, not survived. We’re still here, so let’s enjoy the journey!

Angela Brown Headshot

Founder of A Woman’s Business and contributing writer to the Heart of a Woman weekly blog designed to inspire and challenge us to live in the fullness of our purpose, power and position as women, Angela M. Brown is a daughter, sister, wife, mother, auntie, friend, mentor, PR executive, talk show host and community leader—a woman recognized for making a difference and inspiring others to do the same. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter and discover tales of her journey on the “road less traveled” and the tools she’s gathered along the way turning obstacles into opportunities in “Resilience: Living Life By Design” now available on Amazon.

 

The Power of Identity by Angela M. Brown

Me at 12, as captured in the pages of my 8th grade scrapbook.

Me at 12, as captured in the pages of my 8th grade scrapbook.

Coming of Age. Age of accountability. The most awkward year of your life. These are all phrases to describe the 12th year of our lives. Comprised of lasting memories and experiences, both good and bad, your 12th year was likely a formative year that shaped the person you are OR are not today.

I recently reflected on the 12th year of my life as I prepared to deliver a commencement address to a group of graduating eighth graders. For me, that year was 1984 and marked by my move from the familiar into the unknown—in more ways than one. At the age of 12, I left my rural, middle-class hometown of Chesilhurst, New Jersey, a historically black town with a population of approximately 1,634 people and 582 households for the city of Stamford, Connecticut with a population of 126,456 people and 45,458 households. Up until that time, everyone I encountered pretty much looked like me. Conversely, Stamford was comprised of mostly very wealthy, white people peppered with a small community of blacks and Hispanics who lived in poor, working class subdivisions otherwise known as “the projects”.

My mom and I moved smack in the middle of those two worlds in Stamford, which would collide for me Monday through Friday at the school I attended in eighth grade.  In spite of the fact that it was my first and last year there while most students had been together for sixth through eighth grades, I was elected class president and selected as one of the two black students who tested high enough to be placed in the advanced math class. You would think my achievements would be worthy of celebration amongst my peers, but unfortunately they invoked criticism instead—spurred by a bully who took great pleasure in rallying others who “looked like me” to mock me for acting and talking like “them”.  After a year of conforming to whomever I needed to be to appease my bullies, I finally stood up and the most amazing thing happened—the bullies left me alone! Not only did the bullies leave me alone, I learned a powerful lesson as I realized the goal of any bully, whether a person or circumstance, is simple: conform you into someone you are not, reducing you to a state of envy and an insatiable desire to be like others, because you neglect to discover our own identity.

Regardless of the season of life you’re in, realize it’s time to stand up and grow up. Track down the bullies in your life that have limited you, stunted your growth and attempted to define you, robbing you of your identity and the opportunity to live a fulfilled life. Don’t succumb to the inevitable pressure to conform and settle because you’re afraid to stand out in the crowd. Instead, learn to celebrate your achievements, embrace your failures and stand strong knowing who you are.  Whether the crowd is applauding, booing, silent or threatening harm, discover and be the real you.  There is nothing more painful than a life unlived.

Angela Brown HeadshotFounder of A Woman’s Business and contributing writer to the Heart of a Woman weekly blog designed to inspire and challenge us to live in the fullness of our purpose, power and position as women, Angela M. Brown is a daughter, sister, wife, mother, auntie, friend, mentor, PR executive, talk show host and community leader—a woman recognized for making a difference and inspiring others to do the same. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter and discover tales of her journey on the “road less traveled” and the tools she’s gathered along the way turning obstacles into opportunities in “Resilience: Living Life By Design” now available on Amazon.

 

 


I’m ready for a Revolution.