It’s been over a year since I have been able to visit the pages of the website. For the most part this website has laid dormant. I’ve been paralyzed to say or do anything as it relates to Leading Ladies. The end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 were horrible times. In two short months, we had the unexpected death of two of our Leading Ladies and the devastating separation of my marriage. Grief crippled me and I retreated. I went totally off grid to grasp the pain and deep sorrow that I felt inside. Words cannot express the loss of a biological sister and a best friend who was a sister all while dealing with a painful separation. What was I to do? I didn’t know how to navigate this new normal. I didn’t have a set of instructions. No college course had ever prepared me for LIFE.

Leading Ladies was formed out of a longing for true connection with women. I had discovered that I wasn’t open to female friends. It was my mistrust of the female’s deception that kept me from forming any bonds with most women. A casual conversation with an assistant of mine, informed that I was a loner and an introvert. This couldn’t be right I thought. I interact with people all the time. How could I be, dis-associative? After all I do have a best friend. It was at this point my assistant said, your mother has died and you didn’t allow anyone to come to your house. It had not occurred to me that I did that out of some desire to be apart from people, but it got me to thinking. I looked around and I only had one friend. A best friend who was 600 miles away. Even she and I didn’t talk much. I looked around and I suddenly felt lonely. I had management systems in my life not to feel or become close to anyone. I saw what hurt did to people and I surely didn’t want any of that.

The death of my mother allowed me to take stock of my life. I had worked my way to success and was climbing even higher when my mother died. Today, I don’t understand how I ran all the businesses, church affairs, marriage, and life in general. I was on several board of directors and was always at the ready to help someone out, but when my mother died, I couldn’t think of one person that I could call except for my assistant. I remember calling Erica, and saying I’m taking this week off because I know my mother is going to die. She later called me that day to check on me and I knew that it wouldn’t be long before my mother passed. What happened next was the most healing words of my life. “I’m on my Way.” I didn’t give it much thought, but it brought a certain amount of peace for the moment. My died that night with Erica there with me. The Lord knew in that moment, I needed someone. Erica went from being my assistant to best confidant a person could have. I was able to lay all my fears, sin, shame at her feet. She carried it on her shoulder and never showed me that she wavered from the stress of it. I had lived inside my head for so many years that I didn’t know how to come out. My mother’s death left room in my life to sit and think. I learned that all my success and ever setting goals was a mask for the guilt that I felt.

I had gotten pregnant in college. I felt ashamed as I was one of two people from my community who went to college. Everyone knew that I was succeed, but the shame of returning home pregnant created a drive in me. I wanted to repay my mother for the shame I had caused her. My mother dropped out of school in the 8th grade. She endured the pain of my abusive father to make sure I had what I needed. I still recall the day my dad told me that I couldn’t go to college because he wouldn’t pay for it. I cried. Those words still haunt me today. It was my father who threatened me to get good grades. It was he that told me a “B” means bad. I strove for straight A’s. But even with good grades he was never impressed. I thought the idea of the good grades were to go to college. My mother later told me to not worry about college. She proclaimed, “At the end of the summer you will leave her for college. I don’t care if I have to mop every white person’s floor in America, you are going to college.” So that’s where the guilt came in. I became focus at locking everyone out and creating a life that my mom would be proud of. The death of my mom released me from that guilt.

In walks in Lashanda Miles. I knew her from my orthodontist. She treated me special at my appointment for my braces. She made me a VIP. I would have never thought we would be friends much later. I was way too different. She was contemporary and I was awkward and nerd. I didn’t fit in with many women. I wasn’t into fashion, clubs or what was going in pop culture. I was into nature and science. This brilliant angel saw the best in me. She thought I was cool. She had so much confidence in me that I was scared to let her down. She would call and ask questions and I would just so happen to have the answers and she thought I was intelligent. I thought I was just lucky. It was through her pushy assistance that I launched my third company. Maybe demanded is the right word. She encourage me to be and to do all. She forced me into interaction with others. It became fun and then it became addictive.

Who knew friendship could be so good? I wasn’t totally naive. I did have a best friend. It is still the most sacred friendship I have, but it still had left me with wanting. Lashanda Miles was the gift that God gave to me to open me to the gifts that I had inside. I struggle to navigate without the footprints in my life. What do you do when one of your biggest cheerleaders die? She along with my sister has been the greatest teacher for me. I live INTENTIONALLY ever day. To do otherwise, would be a disservice to them.

Leading Ladies has been such a source of great joy and pain. How do I find my way back?