Going Places…A Life-Changing Trip

When we started the S.O. What! Foundation’s STEP-OUT (Self-esteem, Teamwork, Exposure, Personal development-Overcome, Understand, Triumph) program, I knew I wanted to take the special kids in our program on a flight to Washington, DC.

 

Why? Because they followed the S.O. What! curriculum and read about my first flight as a scared, pregnant 15-year-old. And later my son’s first flight to the same place and all the awesome sites we saw and experiences we had. I wanted to give them the same opportunity. I wanted to show them something different, help them conquer some fears, and realize they could GO ANYWHERE!

These are some of the strongest young people I’ve ever seen because of the traumatic things they’ve experienced and overcome.  Check out this video of some of the things we did that we can share. Some of the most powerful moments of the trip were in our late night conversations. Fear, tears, feelings, and healing.

I love our kids and all kids and want to see them become successful adults!

 

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Daddy, Do You Know?

Several years ago I nervously left my son at home alone in my new apartment for the first time since my divorce. When I came home from the birthday dinner I had gone to, I didn’t know whether to be proud or sad.

With a tie sloppily hanging from his neck, my son said, “YouTube is my daddy.”

I asked, “Why do you say that.”

His response was, “YouTube taught me how to tie a tie.”

I smiled on the outside, cried on the inside, couldn’t say a word, and just hugged my child. When I finally could speak, I told him I was proud of him for being so resourceful and that it was important to learn how to figure things out when we didn’t have people to show us.

I always knew he needed a daddy, and I really needed mine. But in that moment, that feeling was magnified.

When a girl knows that no matter how a good a man treats her, he could never love her more than her daddy. Or no matter how bad a man treats her, her daddy will be there to protect her. When she needs help, support, or love, she doesn’t need to run to a man, settle for less, or depend on her friends or just on herself. Having a daddy changes everything about her life.

When a boy sees his daddy, he see himself and what he can be. What it means to be strong and lead your family. How it’s okay and necessary to have and show your feelings. The lessons about what it means to be a man don’t all have to be learned the hard way because many are demonstrated daily. Having a daddy changes everything about his life.

Unfortunately, these scenarios with daddy are foreign to a lot of people. Or maybe some people experience some small aspects of this and are grateful for anything they get because so many get none of this. And everything about their lives changes because of it.

Not having a daddy to fix her car, cut her grass,  give relationship advice, support her with her kids, or defend her in challenges, can make a woman strong and independent. It can also make her defensive and dismissive. Daddies provide the balance.

Not having a daddy to teach him how to treat women, be providers and protectors, discover his passions, can make men driven to do better. It can also make men hardened, abusive, and insecure. Daddies provide the lessons.

When a young woman has a daddy to ask how she’s doing then pushes for the real answer past, “Fine.” Or when a young man has had a daddy and knows that he can express his feeling and get help and advice on manhood. Daddies change everything about a person’s life.

Raising my son without a dad has hands down been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it has made me who I am. Although my son has not always done what I wanted or expected of him, he has done his best figuring out life and manhood without his father and with the men who tried and are trying to guide him.

This morning, he called me with his daughter, and they told me Happy Father’s Day. No, I’m not a father. I’m not a man. Never have been, never will be, and never want to be. I’m not getting into the debate about mothers being celebrated on Father’s Day, but I appreciate my son for recognizing me for filling in the gap as best I could. For doing what his father didn’t. And I’m thankful he is starting to appreciate and acknowledge that.

On Father’s Day without knowing it, he took me back to that tie moment and made my prouder than I’ve been in a long time. When his dog made his daughter cry, I heard him tell her in a calming, yet definitive voice, “I got you.”

20150204_094703That gave me chills. Such a beautiful thing for a daddy to say and show his daughter. Such a powerful thing for a girl to know.

Many daddies know their roles are important, and I applaud each and every daddy doing their job and the jobs of others.

But daddy, do you know that your role is more than important? It is crucial. No matter the age of your child and for so many situations; you are so needed.

Daddy, do you know that the smallest thing you do (or don’t do) can change everything about your child’s life? Daddy, do you know that your child loves you even when you don’t show you love them and even when that love may show as hate…which is hurt?

So daddy, and when I say “daddy”, I’m talking to anyone who is called daddy and even those who aren’t daddies but are fathers because of genetics. To anyone who feels it or shows it or does the job. You are daddy.

And, daddy, I want you to know.

 

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Chapter 39- Celebrate Your Life While You Have It

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time or just know my story, then you know my birthdays are “special”. Yes, everyone’s birthday is special, but my birthday is also the anniversary of the day I got pregnant by someone I did not know. A day that changed everything about my life.

A day that used to be hard for me to celebrate.

But as I got older, I made sure I celebrated every single birthday- usually by traveling.

This May though, I already had a trip planned for every single weekend and lots of events and speaking engagements in between. None of them were for my birthday, but I made each one a celebration of my life. A life that is beautiful and precious with an end date not known to me.

Summer Owens Facebook birthday

Growing older is a privilege

For my 39th birthday, I started my day taking my granddaughter to daycare with a plan to work out afterwards…that didn’t happen.

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She said Happy Birthday to me and then her whole class sang to me. That made my day!

I had breakfast by myself, cleaned my house, worked, and simply had dinner with a few friends who could make it out for my last minute decision to hit up a happy hour.

Summer 39 birthday dinner

But I started the month with a speaking engagement in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I celebrated my life then. 20180501_095916

 

When I had some real talk with some teen mothers with their babies right there with them, I was celebrating my own life.

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When I was in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic celebrating 20 years as a woman of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. with 11 of my 25 beautiful line sisters- I was celebrating my own life.

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When I returned and attended (with a lot of my family) the graduation for my young cousin who passed away in November, I celebrated my own life.

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When I celebrated Mother’s Day with my mother and saw both of my grandmothers including one in the hospital after her third stroke, I was celebrating my life.

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Mother's Day 2018

When I was at Blackbird Farm in Philo, California on our annual board retreat for Pathways in Education, I was celebrating my own life too.  20180515_155541

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One of the highlights of my annual trip to the San Francisco airport is the visit from another amazing #sowhatwoman cousin of mine. This time she came as a flight attendant who gets to travel the world too!

 

 

 

When I hosted a women’s empowerment event for media personality, Pam Chatman, I celebrated my life.

Summer with Pam Chatman

When I (and a bunch of my cousins…and my sisters) was in Murfreesboro, Tennessee celebrating one my favorite, most amazing #sowhatwoman cousin Pam’s 40th birthday, I was also celebrating my own life. Summer and Pam

Jones celebrate Pam

sisters celebrating Pam

And when I go to Washington, DC next week with four amazing teens who are a part of the STEP-OUT program I started through the S.O. What! Foundation, I’ll also be celebrating the fact that I still have my life.

And I won’t be waiting for my next birthday to celebrate it. This is and will be a daily celebration as I countdown to the big 4-0 and every year I am blessed to see beyond that!

I have chosen a life and career that allows me to live my best life. It was a journey to get here, but my journey has given me choices! You can do the same.

Check out my free online course to help you make your job work for you!

 

 

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Proud to Be a Memphian #MLK50

Today is a huge day for the city of Memphis. I am with my 96-year-old grandmother in Jackson, but she was living in Memphis on this day 50 years ago. She recalls being at the laundromat the moment Dr. King was shot and killed. She talks about the progress we’ve made, and how things have also sadly gone backwards too.

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Dr. King was the same age I’ll be next month when his life was taken, 39. But he had already done so much. His dream was put forth, and it’s up to all of us to continue to fight to make his dream a reality.

Memphis, like a lot of cities and our entire country, has a lot of work to do. But I do not join those who bash the city instead of working to build it. I am a Memphian by choice, and I am proud of how we are honoring Dr. King and his legacy for #mlk50.

The question for us collectively and individually is, “Where Do We Go From Here?”

So NOW what?

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Maybe You’re Broken to Heal

When I quit my job at ServiceMaster, I had about two months before I started my new job at FedEx. I opted out of the COBRA insurance which would have provided me with coverage in between jobs because it was so expensive. So I told my son who was 12 at the time to be VERY careful because there would be no doctor or hospital visits until my new insurance kicked in.

Of course that didn’t work. Two weeks in, he was playing basketball with his friend and broke his finger. I taped it to a splinter to the finger next to it. I knew what to do because he had broken it before…my active son.

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I shouldn’t have been surprised when a couple of weeks later he came limping into the house held up by his friend. His pants were bloody because his knee was bleeding. When I looked down I also saw that his right shoe was sliced across the top of his foot. I removed his shoe to find that his foot was cut and bleeding too.

Remember, I didn’t have insurance so I cleaned up his knee and foot and assessed his pain and figured it was only a surface cut that would heal.

A few days later we were flying to San Francisco….to meet his father’s family (but that’s a WHOLE other post). He walked through the airport fine and was still fine at the airport for our connection. That’s why I was shocked when two into our visit his foot starting turning green!

We took him to the emergency room. The doctor said that his foot was actually broken. In three places and that it was beginning to heal wrong. The bones were fusing back together in the wrong places. He said that if we had gotten him to the doctor any later that they would have had to break his foot again so that it could heal properly.

Have you ever felt broken? Maybe you feel broken right now.

I certainly have felt broken many times in my life, but when I reflect on this story I realize that just maybe I’ve been broken or shaken up so that I could deal with things I thought were fine. And so that I could truly heal properly.

So be thankful for the broken periods in your life. Evaluate how the brokenness is actually helping you cope with what’s behind you and preparing you for what’s next!

And if you want help working on your what’s next, I’d love to talk to you! Feel free to schedule a free, no obligation call with me and let’s see how I can help you figure out your So NOW what?  and create a plan to get it done.

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Unlucky or Just Making Bad Choices?

When I was little, I remember playing on the playground with my sister and cousins outside of my aunt’s apartment . We had heard that four-leaf clovers were good luck so in between swinging and playing tag, we searched among the sea of clovers for that special one with four leaves.

four leaf clover

Although we were by most people’s standards, poor, we were happy. We were young and carefree, but we also wanted to have and do what other kids around had and did.

You know, nice clothes and shoes. The nice house and car. Two parents in the house…or just two parents who contributed to helping us grow up and live better and have more. Maybe we would find a four-leaf clover, and that would give us everything we wanted in life.

Over the years, I think we found some. I think the other kids we played with found some too. And over the years, we grew up. Good things happened to us and the people we played with. And bad things happened too.

Some of us got those nice clothes and shoes, nice houses and cars. Some of us got them the right way and some us chose the fast way. Some of realized that those things were nice but didn’t determine if we were successful and certainly weren’t the most important things in life. Some of us experienced two parents either for ourselves or our children. Some of us had the lives that we wanted, or at least most of we wanted. Some of us didn’t. Some of us got jobs and had careers. Some of us bought homes and started businesses. Some of us started families when we were ready and some of us have children and still aren’t ready. Some of struggled, and some of us thrived. Some of us lived well, and some of us even died.

As I reflect back on our days searching that patch of clovers for just one with four leaves, I realize that life is not about luck.

Minimizing our place in life to be about luck simply relieves us from responsibility for our circumstances. It says we think we have no control over our situations, and that we don’t feel accountable to or powerful enough to change what we don’t like.

We have to be responsible. We do have control. We have to be accountable. And we are powerful.

No, life isn’t about luck. It’s about blessings, and more importantly, it’s about our choices. How we choose to use those blessings, and even challenges, to create the life we want trumps any bad luck or bad circumstances we could ever face.

I’m thankful for the good choices I’ve made and even the bad ones because I’ve learned from them. As a life and success coach, I love helping people calculate their choices to get what they want and deserve in life too.

 

 

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Did You See This?

Memphis blogger and my friend who found me on Facebook, Belinda Simpson, covered the signature fundraiser for the nonprofit I started, the S.O. What! Foundation.

The 3rd Annual Love Yourself Event was a huge success with a Valentine’s Day focus on being, accepting, and loving your best self!

2018 Love Yourself Event flier

via S.O. What! I Love Me

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