Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Terrie M. Williams began her career as a social worker. When she saw an article about public relations, she says it lit a fire in her. She launched The Terrie Williams Agency into one of the most successful PR firms in the country. Still wanting to help change people’s lives, Terrie began the Stay Strong Foundation and also wrote books. The range of her accomplishments definitely makes her an inspiration as part of my Embracing SUCCESS series.

Terrie’s latest book, Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting (Scribner, 2008), has touched many people with its candid look at the effect of racism on black people and her own depression from it. There’s a foreword by Mary J. Blige and testimonials from an impressive assortment of people, including Danny Glover, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Patti LaBelle. I admit it’s a tough read. Terrie speaks the truth! But as the saying goes, the truth can set you free. If you’re black, you’ll gain a lot of understanding about your own behavior and the people around you. Other races may also recognize parallels in themselves, and gain an understanding about why some black people act in unhealthy ways. It can also make everyone more aware of how they treat folks who are different and the effects it can have.

When I taught school, kids expressed the pain they felt from comments and treatment that they’d experienced because of their race. As a white person, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to have so many stereotypes about people who share the color of your skin used against you. This book is eye opening. EVERYONE, no matter what your color or experience, should read this book to understand the often underlying or subtle racism that still exists. It can help foster more consideration and compassion toward people of color. Anyone who cares about people should read Terrie’s book! I’m posting this interview in honor of Black History Month. Here’s what Terrie had to say:

How would you define Black Pain? The dark emotion and space in all of us. There’s a particle set of circumstances that affect people of color who experience pain and depression. It’s a learned silence from the days of slavery. You’d be beaten, tortured, raped, sold from your loved ones, but you had to act like you weren’t hurting. I think that’s been passed on for generations.

Why does it lead to depression? Because we’re not meant to hold our stuff in–the childhood wounds, scars, trauma and day to day slights we experience. We’re not meant to hold in anger, disappointment and rage. When these things are not dealt with, it causes depression.

Why do you think the pain and depression is different in the Black community from other groups? We were raised that you can’t speak about it or there will be repercussions. It’s also perceived as a sign of weakness or being crazy. We’re a very faith based people so we think to do anything other than to pray to God is a betrayal.

What inspired you to write your book? I went through the fire and came out on the other side. I heard the voice of God saying that I had to share my story. I used to wonder about people who’d say that God told them to do something, but I clearly heard a voice one day that said I had to share my story. It’s been an amazing blessing, liberating and has helped me understand what I’m here on this earth to do. Every experience in my life brought me to exactly this point. I am a social worker and one who manages depression so I know what that feels like and am more compassionate. I know how to market and promote a message and I had access to the media and celebrities. So I tied it all together to make an in your face, up close and personal message for people to understand that they’re not alone.

What would you tell someone who doesn’t understand how someone with your level of success could be depressed? Pain is a human condition. It has nothing to do with what I have. We come into this world shaped by the pain we have inherited from our parents, no matter how loving they are. We inherit their gifts and talents too. It gets passed on from generation to generation.

When was your toughest time? What happened? Four years ago when I had a breakdown. It was 9 months of hell. But when you come out of it on the other side and you’re still standing, you’ve got to share. I’m still very much a work in progress.

How did you keep your pain hidden from the people closest to you? I lied. That’s what we do. Three of the hardest word in the English language to answer honestly are, “How are you?” when you’re the one other people look to.

Why is it so important to share your message with children? I think we set our kids up to fail when we don’t tell them how we’re really doing. They learn that the way to move through life is to lie and wear a mask. They’re smart and don’t miss anything. So when we lie and say we’re fine but we’re not, they know differently. We ought to share our frailty, our flaws, our challenges with them, and let them know how we pick ourselves up. We need to share with them the tools that we use to steady ourselves when we go though the fire. I tell them the hell I went through when I had my breakdown because they can see. Then, they start to open up in amazing ways because they’re unaccustomed to adults speaking the truth to them.

How successful do you feel now? I have to work on the happy part but I feel successful in that I am amazed that my life has come full circle. That everything I did along the way prepared me for such a time as this.

How would you define courage? Feeling the fear and doing it anyway because the fear is there but you just have to move through it. If you don’t get up every day with butterflies in your stomach and they don’t feel good, if means you’re going through life being pathetic or flat-lining. Whenever you have those butterflies it means that you’re about to challenge
yourself and take your game to the next level.

What helps you move through it? I try to remember that there are people who go through a whole lifetime and they don’t have butterflies in their stomach. I know the butterflies mean I’m where I’m supposed to be.

What do you want white people and other races to understand about Black Pain? Be aware. When I flag a cab, especially at night, if I have a hat on I take it off because I have short hair. I have long earrings on so I cannot be mistaken for a brother. I try to have NY Times in my hand so I can flag the cab so the driver will see that there’s one with a NY Times, so maybe she’s okay. I start smiling literally when I get a glimpse of an available cab, so they will see there’s a friendly one. Maybe that one’s okay. I do that whenever I take a cab.

When black men walk too close to a white woman or get on the elevator, nine times out of ten she’s gonna clutch her bag closer to her arm or in some way convey fear. So it’s not easy to be a person of color on the planet. If you’re a big, tall black man and have a deep voice, you start to speak softer and smile extra, so you’re not so intimidating. You stand differently. One brother said he wears suits on weekends when he travels. A dark skinned black man tends to be more intimidating to others. So they smile extra to be perceived as nicer, better, like saying, “I’m not gonna hurt you.” All of those things, just because they become second nature to you, doesn’t mean they roll off your back. I try to be an aware person and know what other cultures experience. We really are all the same. We want and need the same thing.

What makes you grateful? I’m gratified because I get letters from people telling me that they’re relieved to see they’re not alone. More people have to read it to get to know who we are and why we kill each other every day in the streets. Black people understand for the first time understanding why they do what they do. I’ve heard from people in prisons who say, “I finally understand why I’m here. Now I know I’ve been depressed for as long as I can remember.” I thank God every day to have been able to do that. It’s not an easy book to read. The tears flow.

What’s your best advice for someone who’s scared to move out of their current way of life or to try something new? You’ll be pathetic or flatline for the rest of your life if you don’t. Thank God that you’re scared, because it means that right before you is something that’s going to take your game to the next level. So go for it. Listen to your inner voice and treat everyone the same. You never know in what disguise God is coming to you.

Check out Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting. It was recently released in paperback.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

AddThis Social Bookmark Button var addthis_pub = ‘wryter’;

This is post 27 in my series on the Law of Attraction in Action. You CAN use your power to attract all that you need. I do it every day! Read the posts in this series to see how.

I once spoke at a Christian conference. Afterwards, a lovely woman who I’ll refer to as Laura, introduced herself and preceded to tell me about all the troubles she was going through. She assured me that she was a good Christian—her father was a minister—and she prayed for help each day. In fact, she had everyone in her church praying for her. Laura asked if I’d pray for her too. I reassured her that I would.

She was stunned when I then asked—“What are you doing for yourself besides praying?”

Laura stammered but no real answer came out. She looked confused. “Weren’t prayers enough?” she asked. No. When you have true faith, you don’t need to ask everyone you know to pray for you. By running to everyone she could find to help her pray, Laura put out a message that she was afraid her own requests wouldn’t be answered. That expresses doubt, which says you have a lack of faith in getting what you want.

Prayers without faith in the prayers won’t manifest good results!

There’s NOTHING wrong with praying. All prayers are good. But Laura’s fear was obvious. She didn’t expect to get them answered, so she turned to everyone, including me, to do it for her. Praying, like doing affirmations, can be empty words if your thoughts deny them. Once I was convinced that my prayers get answered when my thoughts are clear and faithful, I didn’t need others to pray for my. I know my intentions go directly to the source.

In order for prayers to work, you must also show that you’re serious about getting what you’re praying for.

It’s important to have concrete actions and thoughts that show you expect to get what you say you want. Laura was so busy counting on others to pray for her that she broke her own connection with God. I asked her if she talked to God or put herself in His hands with trust as she prayed. She looked sheepish. This woman, brought up in the church by a father who was a minister, was so scared and desperate to improve what was going wrong that she attracted more of the negatives. Laura asked me what she should do.

I suggested she work on developing her relationship with God and do what she could to put out positive thoughts about getting what she needed as she prayed.

Laura needed to talk to God while she prayed, share how scared she was, and, ask for guidance in getting past the fear. It’s critical to focus on what you’re looking forward to having when your troubles got resolved, instead of focusing on making problems go away. The latter keeps your thought on your problems, and the Law of Attraction brings more problems. The more Laura depended on others to pray for her to improve her life, the less she got because she wasn’t trusting that it would happen.

The more she thought about all that was wrong with her life and talked to others about it, the more Laura put those troubles out to the Universe and the more the Law of Attraction kept them coming!

I told her about a minister I once heard speak who changed my life. He was a crusty old Irishman and his delivery was crisp and bluntly when he said, “You can pray a lot, many times a day and before you go to bed. You can ask others to pray with you. But if that’s all you do, you know what the result will be? You’ll be the best darn praying person. And, you’ll always be praying for what you won’t get if you don’t get up and let your actions and thoughts show that you expect to get it.”

Praying is like the condiments in a meal. Strong positive intentions cook the main course of what you want.

You need both. Ever since I heard the minister talk I’ve redefined what it means to pray. For me, it doesn’t mean saying what I want and sitting back waiting to get it. If you’re not ready for a healthy romantic relationship, prayers alone won’t bring you one. But loving yourself more and becoming whole on your own shows God that you want the kind of romantic partner who is strong and loving too. If you want to be rich, watch for opportunities that can help you make more money and do the work to achieve it. If you want to move to a better living space, start looking for one as you ask God to show you the perfect space.

You can begin by asking to be shown the best opportunities for getting what you pray for, and take advantage of them to the best of your ability!

God often speaks to us by presenting situations. Watch for these! It may not be obvious that God is speaking to you when something unexpected happens or you see a good possibility for making money or you keep bumping into a neighbor who might be someone to date or the many other signs that God is communicating. Help the Law of Attraction to work with you to attract positive goodies by letting your actions reflect an effort to get it.

* Show yourself love and you’ll have the best chance of meeting more loving people.
* Improve your skills, try every opportunity, be the best employee you can be, and enjoy the money it can bring.
* Call realtors and search websites and papers for an apartment and the right one will come.
* Say thanks in advance for what you intend to get to show that you believe your getting it is a given.
* Get enough sleep and make eating healthy and exercise a priority to attract feeling better.

The next day, Laura greeted me with a smile. She had her first real talk with God and felt more hopeful than she had in ages. She was now actively praying by talking to God and felt it working. And she thought of some things she could do to help herself!

Give your prayers more punch with your intentional thoughts and actions and they’ll begin to work for you! And, always remember to say thank you when they’re answered, whether it’s when you see the results or like me, have strong enough faith that they’re coming so I know they’re answered well before. ?As you connect to your source, the prayers will become more real to you, and the good old Law of Attraction with work with, instead of against what you want.

See all the Law of Attraction in Action Series..

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

var addthis_pub = ‘wryter’;

As pressure for a perfect body motivates very poor decisions, more people, especially women, are suffering from eating disorders. It breaks my heart to see perfectly healthy individuals abuse their bodies in the name of losing weight. This in turn, abuses their souls, and their self-image.

It’s hard to love yourself when you hate your body!

Tamara Hey is a singer/songwriter who I’ve known and like for years. I’ve always enjoyed her straightforward lyrics. Sometimes biting, sometimes funny, often both, they tell the truth. Still, I was surprised to hear her perform Round Peg, a song on her latest album. It begins:

Round Peg doesn’t fit in with all of us skinny chicks
But what I like most about her is that she doesn’t give a shit
I wanna be her and let myself go
I bet she never stuck a finger down her throat

Could this lovely woman suffer from bulimia? I listened intently. I heard the emotions as she continued:

Round Peg couldn’t care less, buttering both sides of the bread
Letting the crumbs fall to her chest, brushing them off and starting again
I wanna be her — taking big bites
I’ll bet she never let a mirror cut her down to size

The chorus—ROUND PEG, ROUND PEG—ROUND PEG, ROUND PEG—wove around the lyrics that gave such a clear feel of what it feels like to have a poor body image, poor enough to purge your food after eating. My heart went out as she sang:

Oh Peg, your chocolate birthday cake
I pushed the pieces around my plate

That sweet 16 left such a bitter taste

Round Peg, I cut you out — with everything else good — ounce by ounce
I shouldn’t have done that, but I did, and now I’m down to bones and skin

I wanna be you — laughing out loud

But I’m bitter in the center and no fun to be around

I asked Tamara if this was her truth. Yes, she’d suffered from bulimia. So I had to interview her about it! Tamara Hey is a singer/songwriter with 3 independently-released CDs, including “Miserably Happy” (November 2008). She “brings lighthearted optimism to a singer/songwriter genre often skewed toward the brooding and depressive”, blend[ing] humor, sarcasm, wit, and introspection … with tons of pop vibes. Here’s what Tamara shared:

Why do you think you became bulimic? I can’t remember exactly what age I was, but I’m sure I was younger than 16; probably 14 or 15 years old. It was a “phase” that was short lived, but the state-of-mind doesn’t seem to wear off.

What motivated you to write Round Peg? I didn’t sit down with the intention of writing about bulimia. I had written down the potential title, “Round Peg” after hearing someone passing by say it mistakenly. The expression is really “Square Peg in a Round Hole”. She had it backward. I liked it and it was a challenge to come up with something the song could be about. When I realized what I was going to write, I was a little afraid. I had never considered writing a song about bulimia.

What does Round Peg represent? To me, Round Peg represents the kind of person the singer loathes and even fears yet wishes she could be. The singer is afraid to be fat. So afraid that she resorts to bulimia, hanging around with a clique of skinny girls who aren’t good friends. She befriends them because she knows that under their influence she will never become fat. She also envies Peg for her sense of self, freedom to enjoy life and just be who she is.

Was there a girl or type of girl that you saw as a Round Peg and envied? I can’t recall anyone specific. But even today, I admire women who are not afraid to wear clothes that show off what they’ve got physically. They seem comfortable with their shape no matter what it is, whereas, I think I never really will.

When you looked at the birthday cake, what did you see? In the lyric, the birthday cake was actually at Peg’s Sweet Sixteen. Fun foods like birthday cake, present me with a choice. If I decide to eat that birthday cake, then I have to face the challenge of not feeling bad about it; accepting that I ate it and move on.

How did you feel when you looked at yourself in the mirror? I almost never felt good. In fact, even today I purposely don’t have mirrors in my house – except for the bathroom cabinet mirror. I’m afraid that I’ll be tormented if I have mirrors in the house.

What made you so bitter? I used the term “bitter” in the lyric as a metaphor: an empty, acidic stomach and a bitter personality.

How did you finally turn it around? I woke up feeling really sick; dizzy and shaky. I knew I had to stop. And I did.

How do you feel now when you perform Round Peg? I feel really good. At first I was nervous about revealing something so personal. But now I enjoy it. As a song, it’s really fun to sing and the arrangement is just the right combination of strange/circus and a little mean. Also, more than one woman has come up to me after a show to tell me that they really like the song. I think maybe they are telling me that they can relate.

How do you feel now about yourself? I feel pretty good, but unfortunately, I will always have the insecure, bulimic teenager inside. I’m very weight conscious. I don’t starve, but I’m careful.

What did you learn? I learned that making myself sick is not the solution to any problem.

What does the title of your album, Miserably Happy, mean? To me, “Miserably Happy” means not allowing myself to be totally happy about a something. But with that song, I’m trying to show that I’m aware of this tendency and I can laugh about it. Many people have told me that “Miserably Happy” describes me very well.

What advice would you give to someone who tells you they’re bulimic, or who seems obsessed with losing weight? Being thinner probably won’t solve what’s really troubling you. Figure out what’s really going on. Seek help from someone you can trust to be objective about your situation—a doctor, a therapist, maybe a friend.

Bulimia or anorexia or fad diets, etc.
are NOT healthy under any circumstances! While I do advocated being fit, losing weight in ways that harm your body isn’t getting fit. I just got a product I heard about called Slim Shots. It’s an all natural small cup with a blend of palm and oat oils that works in the ileum to trigger a feeling of fullness. I had one today and actually felt no urge to munch all day. That’s unusual! But it was only one time. I’m going to keep using them and I’ll report later on about whether they work well regularly.

Taming your appetite naturally so you can eat less is a MUCH healthier way to lose weight. No matter how you feel about your body, learn from Tamara’s painful lessons. Respect your body enough to lose or maintain weight in healthy ways. Check out Tamara and her music at

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

AddThis Social Bookmark Button var addthis_pub = ‘wryter’;

This is post 26 in my series on the Law of Attraction in Action. You CAN use your power to attract all that you need. I do it every day! Read the posts in this series to see how.

Saturday is Valentine’s Day, which I call V-Day. It’s a day when MANY women wait for love to be specially expressed and romance to abound. It’s also a day when many men get stressed or feel pressure to accommodate the expectations of their partners. And it’s also a day when many single women feel depressed, like they’re missing out on love. The expectations and longings on V-Day get blown up and create disproportionate expectations for one day of love.

Many emotions are stirred on February 14th each year! We give this one day so much importance.

I admit that I’m a hopeless romantic. I love sweet gestures and getting flowers and other surprises. But love isn’t about obligation. It also isn’t about forcing someone to express it with gifts. But that’s what happens on this day designated for love. I laugh when I see men lined up at delis buying flowers and in drug stores buying last minute candy and stuffed animals and any other things to impress their ladies.

This is all done as single chicks struggle to survive the day of love without a special man.

I used to get depressed on V-Day if I didn’t have someone to bring me flowers. I’d often get together with a friend to commiserate a lack of love. Every time we saw someone walk by with flowers we had an ouch moment. Actually, we’d torture ourselves. If I didn’t see the flowers, she’d point it out and vice versa. We’d moan about not having a guy and share how much we both wanted to be in a relationship. I found it funny that the days before and after I was fine about being single.

But February 14th brought out the needy in me as it does in many people.

We’re inundated with ads for romantic endeavors and gifts for a while before this targeted day for love. It can make even the strongest chick long for what we see or read about. Single men can feel the sadness too if they want to be in a relationship. I’d bet that there’s a lot of depression on V-Day when it’s supposed to be a day to honor love. Even people in relationships feel let down from the pressure to buy the right gift or do the right thing. And the disappointment when your partner doesn’t come up with the most romantic ways possible to express love.

BUT—LOVE ISN’T A ONCE A YEAR DEAL! Putting so much into the love you get, or don’t get, on February 14th demeans what love really is.

When I was a DoorMat I waited in expectation for the guy I was with to make me feel loved. But the roses I got didn’t change that I still felt lousy about me; even hated myself often. The roses or dinner or one night display of affection was like a small band aid on a HUGE wound. That wound was from not loving myself. Now that I’ve left DoorMatville, whether I’m with a guy or not, I celebrate myself on V-Day. Then I always get the love I want the most—from ME!

When you get depressed on Valentine’s Day, you tell the Law of Attraction you have a lack love, which results in continuing to feel unloved.

Pay attention to all the love around you, whether it’s romantic or a kind neighbor, family member or friend. Love comes in all kinds of packages, but it’s still love and should be appreciated all year long. It may not feel the same as a romantic partner on V-Day but can still be satisfying. I once was in London on V-Day. I used to go there regularly when I had my record label and I stayed in a bed and breakfast owned by a family I became friends with.

I was particularly friendly with Bernard, one of the brothers who owned it. He saw how down I was about having no love on V-Day. I saw people carrying flowers but none were for me. When I returned to my room later, there was a stuffed bear holding a bouquet of roses—“with love from your friend Bernard.” We weren’t romantically involved but it made a big impact on my heart. I kept that bear for many years as a reminder of how pure and delightful a loving gesture like that can be.

The biggest love that should be nurtured on V-Day is what you give to YOU!

Strong self-love makes it easier to navigate the emotions on February 14th and gives it a lot less importance than what the media hypes it to be. Loving yourself is not only valid love, but it’s the most critical and valuable kind. You can give it any time, any place, whether you’re single or in a relationship.

Being loving to yourself sends the message that you deserve love, and therefore you’ll attract more of it.

I learned this a few years ago when I broke up with someone just before the “big” day. He was very romantic and I’d looked forward to receiving roses and other goodies. But, he’d done something that I knew couldn’t be excused just for this reason. I began to get depressed when I went out and saw what seemed to be everyone carrying roses but me. My initial response was to feel unloved. But as I began to indulge in self-pity, I remembered:

The greatest gift to yourself is to love yourself. I made a vow that V-Day to honor that love!

I imagined the most perfect rose in my head. It was yellow, with rusty orange edges and I went on a mission to find it. I just wanted on perfect rose. I finally found it in a florist shop for 10 bucks. That’s right! I spend 10 bucks on ONE rose! I’m worth it! It gave me such pleasure to be able to make myself feel so good from buying that rose. I’ve been buying myself a bouquet of flowers every week for years, but this was the first time I’d bought a rose. Now I do it occasionally just because, even when it’s not V-Day!

The heck with waiting for a guy to do it! I love me and if I have a boyfriend, I’m loved even more, since I’m already loved without one. V-Day is now Self-Love Day to me!

Honor yourself on Saturday, whether you’re in a relationship or not. Do something special for you. Be loving and kind. There’s nothing like self-love for being consistent and always available. It’s not a substitute for the love of someone else. Even when I’m in love with a guy, I’m in love with myself too. Guys may come and go but I’m here to stay! This Saturday I’m planning a healthy day, since keeping myself fit and healthy is a super gift of self-love.

The more you show yourself love, the more the Law of Attraction responds with more love. Corny as it sounds, LOVE does make my world joyous. Money is nice. Possessions are nice. Flowers are nice. But LOVE is priceless! Indulge in self-love and allow the Law of Attraction to return it with more joy.


See all the Law of Attraction in Action Series..

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or cli
ck on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

AddThis Social Bookmark Button var addthis_pub = ‘wryter’;