QueenLyfe, Inc., a community-focused movement and cultural collective, presented its third installment of “Sip and Share: Wine, Conversations, and Connections at the Houston Museum of African American Culture last night. The series, which boasts of two previous successful community forums, welcomed both genders and more expansive perspectives for the third reprise. Queenlyfe’s founder, Candace L. Strother, invited an eclectic panel of nationally-acclaimed authors, thought leaders and community advocates to provide transparent commentary and “straight talk” to guests — all surrounding the theme of “self love.” Panelists included empowerment speaker and author Wendi J. Turner, blogger C.C. Sutton, Youth Pastor DeVale Simmons and author Landon D. Taylor. The panel was moderated by author Jotina Buck.
Jotina sparks the discussion with a simple question concerning the need for self-love: “We are living in a time where hate is real, and not just [hate] which we inflict on others but also on ourselves…so what is self-love and how do we begin to love ourselves?”
Each panelist presented a unique perspective on where the self-hate is derived from, and how each of us can begin a process of self-love.
Youth Pastor DeVale Simmons lamented his years “under a microscope” while serving in ministry and the toll taken on his spirit as a result. His proposed solution for self-love involves “becoming responsible for your own purpose and destiny” rather than allowing others to dictate your vision.
Author Landon D. Taylor shared his point of despair and the turning point which led to his path of self-discovery. After a heart wrenching break-up, he took personal inventory of his life and the gifts God provided to him and subsequently determined that the key to self-love lies in “understanding who you are; knowing what you have to give and what is being received by others.”
Empowerment speaker and author Wendi J. Turner literally brought the audience to near tears as she succinctly outlined the reasoning behind self-hatred, from a biblical perspective. “If I can sum up all my experiences in teaching and working in ministry for years, two issues are at the root of it all: hate towards others and self; and self-doubt.” She passionately emphasized how F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) is at the core of it all – holding each of us captive and removed from our purpose and destiny, which is prophesied in Jeremiah 19. “I charge [each of] you tonight to look at yourself in the mirror and walk out of here looking at yourself differently.”
C. C. Sutton recounted her story of self-discovery which began after a brief, fateful encounter that would inevitably change the direction of her life. After entering a natural-hair modeling competition on a whim, her win of the competition showed “so many sides of [herself] that [she] didn’t know existed” and prompted viewing herself through a new lens. This life-altering moment began opening doors for new opportunities and has provided C. C. a platform to reach women. She admonishes, “If an opportunity presents itself, take a risk and a leap of faith!”
The discussion then takes a turn towards over overcoming adversity and how to deal with hard knocks in life.
Youth Pastor Devale Simmons steals the spotlight as he very intricately details an account of his pain after his parents split and how his choices at the pinnacle of his trials ultimately led to triumph in the end.
After a brief intermission, the event featured break-out sessions where guests could share their experiences and discuss the importance of self-love, as well as the potential impact on the community from a holistic standpoint.
Queenlyfe’s sole purpose is to ignite these important dialogues to spur plans of action in our community. Candace exposed her motivation and passion for leading this movement as a resolve from her own path to self-discovery and journey to a place of self-love, following her father’s death. For more information on the movement, visit www.queenlyfe.org. For more information about the author, visit www.urbanmediagroupoftx.com.