"Love for me is unconditional acceptance of myself and others. I think we're all trying to do the best that we can, the best that we know how. Love is accepting other people for where they happen to be on their journey, with a sense of opening and understanding and respect, and honoring their dignity as a human being and knowing that I haven't walked in their shoes, and I haven't lived their life. Just being open to their experience, and to their story as well, and accepting them unconditionally."
In her life and work, Gloria excels in celebrating and lifting up the magnificence of the human spirit, inspiring organizations and teams to think outside the box and reach new heights of performance. Evocative and engaging, in her keynotes and presentations, Gloria draws on her successful experience as an entrepreneur and executive in the computer and human services sectors. She is the author of the best-sellers "Legacy Living" and "Dare to Wear Your Soul on The Outside" An award-winning speaker and performer, she is one of the few speakers who integrates insightful commentary, heart-warming stories and artistic mastery. Gloria enjoys speaking to audiences around the world and is often requested to speak on authentic leadership and building bridges across cultural and social divides.
I just love this woman, I remember at one point in our interview, towards the end she told me something I will never ever forget "I can feel your energy as we speak. Your essence is coming through." This means a lot to me today. Her motherly souls and spirit really sinks through the very core of me, and as a treat for Mother's Day I am sharing this interview today in hopes that everyone who reads it will remember this special connection we have with our mothers, grandmothers and all the people who looked after us - those who helped us shape our own lives and become who are now.
I'm most proud of being a friend and a mom. I continue to learn about things of the soul, and that's where I am on my journey. I try to reach out to others to just leave the planet a little bit better off than the way I found it and I find that these days I am joined by a lot of wonderful people doing the same thing.
I don't think it would be truthful to say that I had this kind of idea but what I do know is that in my home, the way I was raised by my mom and my dad is that we were expected to reach out and help other people. In my community we go by the saying "It takes a village to raise a child" and we also talk about having a personal village, and those are the people who are immediately around you, whose life you can impact and whose life you can make a little bit better by lending a helping hand. For me, this personal village is much broader than my community. I would say that those kinds of values and just ways of thinking and being were instilled in my from the time I was very very small.
I live in the Seattle are now, in the Pacific North West . I was born in Mississippi, one of the Southern states and I was raised there partly and also in Michigan in Detroit and Ann Arbour... I had lots of different experiences.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SPOT IN YOUR CITY? WHERE DO YOU FEEL MOST ALIVE?
I actually live in a small town in Seattle called Edmonds and it's right on a part of the Pacific Ocean that's called 'Puget Sound'. My favorite spot is the ocean. I draw all kinds of inspiration and energy there. I can de-stress at the waterside of my home. I'm actually looking at the ocean right now, from my office at home.
YOUR GREATEST MENTORS AND TEACHERS.
I would have to say that my mother and my father certainly stand out. Mother's day is coming up soon so I just want to get a shout out to my Mom! I just celebrated her 81st birthday with her last week back in Michigan. She is just one of those people who you can count on to do what she says she's gonna do. I think I got my instincts about motherhood from her. I tend to be everybody's mom. My daughter's grown up now and moved away from home but she always tells me "Mom you're always telling people what to do". My mother...she's one of my "she-roes" Just rock solid values, a woman of faith, a woman of integrity, a woman who is very resourceful. She can do just about anything with very few resources. She learned that when she was a little girl growing up very poor financially but very wealthy in term of soul and spirit and creativity. She's certainly one of my mentors, and I would say my dad as well. I just came back yesterday from Louisiana where I gave a keynote t an early childhood summit. And the thing that I talked about was my father because he was very particular about instilling early learning in my family. we were taught from a very young age to read books, to look things up - he didn't give us the answers, to make our own games because we didn't have enough money to buy the things. We didn't have a TV and those kinds of things. We were taught to be resourceful and I am so grateful to him for teaching us how to be that way.
LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR DAUGHTER. WHAT HAS SHE TAUGHT YOU ABOUT LIFE?
That's a great question. I actually do think of her as one of my best teachers and one of the things she taught me early early on was to really walk my talk. It's one thing to say these things , it's another to do them. You know, children are the best police force in the world because they just call your number.
I remember when she was really really young I was working in the high tech/computer industry, I had lots of responsibility and it was a wonderful job. I was travelling all around the Unites States. I remember I was getting ready to go to Seatac airport and my daughter who was about 2 and a half or three then grabbed me by the leg and said "Mommy, Mommy please don't go!" If you're a mom, you know that that just breaks your heart, and as a little girl she didn't have the words for it but what she was really telling me was "I need you here with me." you know? And here I am talking about how family is important, which it is, but I wasn't really demonstrating that to her. I remember going out the door and getting in that plane. During that plane ride I really had one of those soul searching moments and thought "I'm gonna have to do something different because my daughter needs me at home. It took me about a year and a half, two years to really reposition myself and get things in order so I can transition from working for a corporation to having my own practice. I was able to do that and I haven't looked back. When talk to my daughter about that time in her life now she says "Mom I have no memory, I have no idea what you were talking about, you were always home for me. When I got up in the morning, when I came home you were there."
So I started this consulting practice out of my home, calling my clients on my phone sometimes all day in my pajamas . That notion of integrity, of being true to who you are and being true to the people around you, and walking your talk, she taught me that lesson.
WHAT HAVE YOU UNLEARNED LATELY?
I'm going to say that some of the things that I used to think were liabilities, that were struggles in the past -- I see them now as great gifts. I'd say I've unlearned a way of thinking about certain life circumstances or situations in my life or people, events, things that have happened to me. I've learned how to view them as positive gifts in my life. One of the stories I tell when I speak to audiences is I tell the story of my childhood. Growing up dirt poor in Mississippi and being a product of segregation, having a lot of harsh experiences of racial prejudice and so on and so forth. I used to think about those experiences as hard times, struggle, down on my luck, we use the term "marginalize" now- all of those things. Now when I look back on all of those experiences now , all of those things, all of the people I encountered, the people who didn't like me because of the way I looked, my eyes, or the color of my skin...I didn't have lips like theirs or cheeks like theirs, all of them have really shaped me into the human being that I am today. I don't do it all the time, I'm only human and I'm not perfect but I see myself as a pretty compassionate humane woman and those are the kind of qualities that I take into my work to help other people to build bridges, both internally into themselves and their relationships with other people who may be remarkably different than them. I don't think I'd be able to do the kind of work that I do with the same level of skill and expertise and embodied compassion without having gone through those harsh experiences myself.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE DOING?
Two things. One is helping other people see what they are not able to see for themselves. Their gifts and their special qualities and also helping individuals really tap into their life's purpose. The reason why they're here on the planet. I love how I get to wake up everyday and do that! I can just pinch myself everyday -- I get to work with professionals of different organizations, I get to work with young people in their schools, I get to work with elders who may not have the opportunity to even think about these stuff because they were so busy making a living and putting food on the table.
I think the one thing I'd like to change is a pretty tall order. If I had the power to change one thing in the world I would change the things that divide us that is not necessary - our politics, our religion, our geographic borders - I think that those are all man-made things. We need to get over them to realize that we all want the same thing. We may have different ways of saying it but at the end of the day we all just want to have a good life for ourselves and our family, our communities... We just need to get over all the 'stuff' that separates us... these artificial barriers.
WHAT IS LOVE?
Love for me is unconditional acceptance of myself and others. I think we're all trying to do the best that we can, the best that we know how. Love is accepting other people for where they happen to be on their journey, with a sense of opening and understanding and respect, and honoring their dignity as a human being and knowing that I haven't walked in their shoes, and I haven't lived their life. Just being open to their experience, and to their story as well, and accepting them unconditionally.
2012 is a pivotal year. We're not quite at a tipping point Juno, I'm sure you know that, but we are certainly at the midst of this huge paradigm shift. Some people use the words co-evolutionary and all those words. I don't use that. My life is so different this year than it was last year and certainly if I look back over the last 15 years and really kind of look at the milestones I can see how much things have changed. I believe that women are finding their voice, their finding their place in the world. Now we need to bring our young girls along, especially young girls in dire poverty - I'm talking about internationally as well as domestically. We're poised to make a huge paradigm shift. I'm just so glad to be alive at this particular time in the planet.
IF YOU CAN SHARE AN OPEN MESSAGE TO YOUR DAUGHTER, WHAT WOULD YOUR MESSAGE BE?
Be who you are. Stay true to who you are because you are a beautiful, radiant magnificent being. You are a creative soul in the world. Live well, love well and just soar to your potential because when you do that it unlocks the doors for other people to do the same thing.
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All articles written within the period of Oct 2011 through present. © Juno Cristi 2011-2012, All Rights Reserved