Before college, I was fortunate enough to work with a program called JTPA. The program placed teenagers in real work situations for on-the-job training. I worked at the Justice Court. This was an experience that I will never forget, especially because I was able to sit in court and observe the different styles of the Justice Court judges.
I was also able to converse with the constables. They were the first indication I had that there were people in the suits that owned the guns and badges. Before that, the uniform was all I saw. Every face was the same.
I didn't recognize it then, but there was a woman there who made an impact on my life that didn't really affect me until years later, recently actually.
At the end of last year, I had a health scare that changed my life. I'm sorry to say that it took that to kick me into gear, mentally and professionally, but it's reality. I'm thankful that it happened while I still have a chance to correct it. As I lay in bed, thinking about how I got to such a place at 40 years old, I started doing some heavy evaluating. The torture I'd been doing to myself was facing me with great zeal and determination. I was unable to run from it, and finally I gave in.
So, I gave up Misty cigarettes. I also elected to limit my cocktail intake. I removed caffeine and fast foods and even committed to drinking more water. Initially, my body was in shock. It was awesome.
I decided to de-stress my entire life. I found out that I sort of thrived on stressful situations, and I was sickened by that fact. Who does that? Well, for someone who has a high desire to succeed, it becomes a part of the territory to be a magnet for high stress situations. That would be fine if it didn't physically steal from my wellbeing.
I knew I needed to change my approach to my entire life, not just the health and wellness. I had to change my mentality about who I am; what I wanted to do; how I wanted to do it. I had to decide to be different, to accept newness. I literally had to say to me, "If you want this, YOU have to go get it."
I worked at the Justice Court for two months and never saw Shirley Bass repeat an outfit. A coworker and I watched, intentionally, each day to see what she'd be wearing. She was my supervisor; however, after she made the assignment for the week, she barely spoke to us again. I found her to be stunningly beautiful. She was professional at all times. She did very little socializing with the staff. She was focused, but she was polite and very pleasant. She smiled often, so there was really no need to converse. She was highly impressive.
Thankfully, this reflection has created some much-needed adjustments to my life's journey. Much like the ancestral mothers I often pull from to get me through, I've learned that I don't have to travel far to find the influence I need. Often, the feminine-owned power my energy seeks has passed through my journey, in my own lifetime.
Even after all these years, with no thought of Ms. Shirley, I pulled from her energy. She became a sort of subliminal inspiration. I decided that I would channel her and begin to think bossy, classy and professional. I decided to own the feminine power that poured from her pores. A power that I didn't even recognize seeped into my soul as a teenager. She gave me the drive I needed to accept the best parts of me, professionally.
You may not know what's happening, while it's happening, but women have a connection to each other. We are universally one. All we have to do is learn to draw from each other and honor the elements that are faithful enough to our journey to place us at the right place at the right time.
While I am setting the path for who I am to be during this next phase of my life, I smile in knowing that I have what I need. I carry many women with me, proudly. I am grateful for the smallest touch of their feminine greatness.
Maybe one day I'll be some young woman's Shirley Bass.
Funmi "Queen" Franklin is a word lover, poet and advocate for sisterhood. She has a weakness for reality shows and her puppy, Shaka.