Success Through The Joy Of Sisterhood
Written by Joaynn Darden
Ever since I was a little girl, I aspired to own my own business. I established several goals I desired to obtain by the ages of 30, 40, and 50; respectively. My plan was to graduate with a Masters by the age of 25, own my favorite BMW luxury car by the age of 30, own my own home by the age of 40, and obtain my PhD by the age of 50. But as we know when it comes to this thing called life, nothing happens as we plan, but as God predestines. It’s all in his timing.
I became a wife and mother at the age of 22 and had to put my dreams on hold. But I was still hopeful. Made some major transitions in my life as a single parent moving my family across the country at 28 with not a clue where life would lead. It was during this particular season of my life I decided to capitalize on my educational dreams and entered college at 32. I received my Bachelor of Science in Psychology at 36, married again for the second time at 37, received my Master of Business Administration Technology Management specialization, owned a BMW and owned my own home at 42, all while juggling a full-time career and a family. Divorced for the second time, not by my doing, at 48.
For the most part, I thought I was on top of the world….until one year later my life changed at no fault of my own as a result of a work-related injury that left me permanently partially disabled. My doctor declared me permanently totally disabled two years later. I was hopeless. I thought my life had ended. Because I was independent and worked since the age of 15 and was able to sustain through consistent employment, I questioned how my essential needs would be met. I asked, “Now what?”
I went from having what I thought was the world to literally just the clothes on my back. I wasn’t sure what to do with my life given I felt I had no transferrable skills outside of what I was accustomed to when working in various fields that included mental health and education. It was not until I became ill that I discovered my purpose in life. My twin sister JoAnn, my youngest sister Debra, my brother Rudolph, my children Terence, Tia, and Kevia, my father Rudolph, Sr. and my family were my greatest influencers and a strong support system; especially my Mother Jacqueline who I lost two months ago. And even in the grieving process, God continues to bless me with unexpected open doors with great opportunities such as this.
At the encouragement of my two daughters I created a Twitter and Facebook account and began to interact with others solely from my cellphone when posting inspirational, thought-provoking messages on social media. I met some interesting people and found myself desiring more from what I believed was my now stagnated, defeated life. And thought, what better time to start a new endeavor in spite of my struggles with Fibromyalgia and other health and injury-related issues that kept me bound, weary, hopeless, and helpless because of having to live daily with chronic pain and limited use of my hands.
Through various encounters on social media I learned of a “vision board” from a young female minister named Kia Granberry on Twitter. She doesn’t know it, but it was through her testimony that propelled me to walk in my destiny. I was excited as I began to document goals on my vision board I desired to accomplish in my quest for success. The list included my book which is being published this year and my business Jonnay Designs™ which launched a year ago that since has been upgraded last year. These were the final two goals to be completed on my vision board I started three years ago. And I am proud to say, the dream manifested.
What most people may not know, but I have experienced is that starting a business can be very intimidating and will take humility, time, dedication, obedience, perseverance, and for the most part lots of patience. I learned you don’t really have to have a degree to become an entrepreneur. All you need is a dream, hope, and faith.
When opening my business, I found some business owners recommended reading self-help books, attending seminars, networking, and establishing focus groups to aid you in the process that would be a determinant of your success. However, when writing my first book and opening my first online store I decided to take an unconventional approach given my background.
Although it had been 14 years since receiving my MBA/TM degree, I never, ever put it to use. It sat on the shelf collecting dust along with a marble replication my father presented to me as a gift. Therefore, I could not remember any of the material to help in my journey. I felt like a deer with headlights not seeing the big picture but believing God had a greater plan for me as I forged ahead to make my dreams become a reality.
Entrepreneur sounds good right? Yes, but becoming and implementing the action to fit the title was not so easy. I did not have a clue as to how to start a business let alone the tools that would be required to create an online store. But I never gave up hope. I was persistent. I persevered.
The blessing in all of this was having godly women in my life who empowered, motivated, inspired, and encouraged me to become the best me I could be in spite of my disability. Empowering others as well as women became one of my greatest passions. I was down for the cause. I felt we owned the world and can do anything when we put our minds to it. We are resilient, strong-will, strong-minded, intelligent, and powerful human beings. We are trailblazers. We rule the world!
It was not until I came across one of my quotes from my WordPress blog I created on a colorful background on another WordPress reader’s blog without photo credit that set the stage for what was to come. I was a bit upset and immediately called my longtime sister friend Vanessa Logan. And after talking with her, I managed to calm down and listened as she imparted wisdom and knowledge. She suggested, “Instead of getting upset because someone is using your work why not consider it a blessing because someone was inspired by it. And use it as a means to expand your work to another level by putting your quotes on coffee mugs and t-shirts and create an online store to bless others.” Hmmm.
I thought, “Wow…really….me? Online store? With hands and elbows that ached with chronic pain every waking moment of my life?” How? But then nothing is impossible with God. Why not show off my battle scars? Show the world how I outlived what tried to kill me. How I overcame. My battle scars had meaning. Outside scars tell a story of battle wounds. Inside scars reveal inner strength. Don’t ever be ashamed of your scars. There’s beauty in them.
I took a deep breath, a leap of faith, and began what I found to be one of the most fulfilling, exhilarating, freeing, endeavors that I played a significant role in since traveling this long, challenging journey the past thirteen years. Vanessa and I put on our thinking caps and managed to create what I consider one of the most unique, creative online stores I could have ever thought of; for FREE. Yes, FREE! How? Glad you asked. Through Square Market’s website.
We linked the images on Google Drive where I gave her access to items and documents to edit and we collaborated daily for hours on end putting the final touches before uploading to the online store. We put in countless hours day and night adding new items and updating the website, marketing on various social media platforms, word of mouth, and managed to get some sales along the way. Not nearly what I anticipated based on the world’s idea of success, but what I achieved based on my own personal intentions which was simply to inspire others. With not a single drive for monetary gain. That in itself was a success for me. I am grateful to God and for the sisterhood bond I share with Vanessa who unselfishly dedicated time and effort to make this endeavor a success. I couldn’t do it by myself. And I did it all from the confines of my home. Yes!
Here’s an example of my work and one of my most favorite quotes that can be found at http://www.jonnaydesigns.com that reads “Until you walk in my shoes you probably can’t fit, you may never understand my journey. Don’t judge me. One day you may have to walk in my shoes and travel the same journey.”
Yes, I may have a long ways to go because change is constant and I’ll never stop creating. But one thing I will never do is give up. And I encourage you to do the same. A woman of immovable faith won’t let nothing stand in her way. Her faith in God is unshakable. No matter what comes, her faith is unstoppable. While my dreams may have manifested at the tender “young” age of 55, it was never too late to start. There’s still more work to do but I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and faith and am assured this is only the beginning of what’s to come.
And to top it off, in the end I managed to adopt some new friends. Perseverance became one of my best friends. Humility, self-confidence, self-respect, self-worth, and selflessness are my closest friends. The beauty of a broken, battered, bruised life pushed me beyond my limits to reach heights I never thought I could. I found the key to success, is my, not others, happiness.
The opinions of haters, doubters, and others who didn’t believe in my dream and said I couldn’t do it or would never make it didn’t stagnate my progress. In fact it did the opposite. It compelled me to want it that much more.
I learned the true meaning of success is not money, but merely having the ability to say in your lifetime, “I did it. No matter how it turned out, I accomplished something.” It has now become my mantra, “I did it.” And I haven’t stopped since. I humbly celebrate my accomplishments. No matter how big or small, I’m thankful. I made it through it all!
There’s nothing and I mean nothing you cannot achieve if you put forth the effort. “Nothing beats a failure but a try.” If you have a dream or goals, put a plan into action. Don’t just speak about it but be about it. Create a vision board and monitor your achievements and/or your accomplishments regularly. Research companies that will meet the need based on your current financial situation because you don’t really need lots of money to start making money. You only need lots of determination and a strong will to start before you can make money. The rest will follow.
Know this, you can’t do it alone. Find that sister friend, loved one, or significant other that supports your vision and is willing to unselfishly assist you with no hidden agenda in making your dream come true. Share your experiences with others who may be uplifted, motivated, or encouraged to do the same. Let social media become your marketing platform and build from that foundation. It will open the doors to some amazing connections you never thought you could ever have. And lastly, never, ever give up on your dreams.
Just when it looks like everyone around you dreams are coming true but yours, it’s that one phone call, one idea, one divine connection that can change your life forever. Never stop believing in yourself or your dreams. Keep it moving!
“I am my sister’s keeper. We are all in this together. We stand united. We fall together. All for the sake of sisterhood. One love. Our bond is unbreakable.”