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Monday, July 28, 2008

Lipstick Leadership: "A Remarkable Woman" - Dawn Prince's Story!

"I always tell people that my mother is the bravest and strongest woman that I know. My mother is a remarkable woman. Ever since I can remember appreciating strength and character, protector and fighter is what comes to mind when I think of my mother. In the West Indies, when most women stayed at home, my mother was a career woman. She has been a nurse since she was 17. I remember her flitting around on that bike of hers in a crispy white nurse outfit with the starched cap that sat high on her woolly hair.

At 28, when I was about six, she left my two brothers and me with my grandmother to start a new life in the United States. At that time, coming from the West Indies, it was unheard of for a single woman to do that. 'Going outside,' as they called it, was a way for my mother to find the means to take care of us. It seems like she has always had a plan for making life better for us: go to the U.S., get a great job and then send for the children. I always tell people what a remarkable woman my mother is. I marvel at the sacrifices my mother made for my sister, my brothers and me.

A few years ago, I found out that my mother used to draw in her younger days, and it saddens me that a hard life took away a means of celebrating her spirit. I marvel at how she stood strong after heartbreaks with love and life and focused on the plan of bringing her kids to a better life. That search for a better life took her from the United States to Canada. A lesser woman would have given up and returned home, but there is something that is fiercely strong and independent about my mother. She refuses to give up. I would see this time and time again over the years: when my father had a debilitating stroke, she took over as his nurse and spent everyday at the hospital while he was in rehabilitation for 3 months - forgiving him for all of his transgressions. From her, I learned commitment and unconditional love.

At 42, when she found that she couldn't support a family on $5.00 an hour, she went back to school to get her Canadian nursing license. When she grew tired of our brief stay in government housing, she moved us to a better neighborhood and eventually into a house. From that I learned about ambition and determination. It must have been hard all of those years, but my mother never let us see that she was worried. Though she struggled to pay the bills, we were never without food. She always used to say, 'I will find a way' and she always did. When we wanted brand name, she firmly said no, and we understood and appreciated what she could give us. From her, I learned to live within my means, as well as gratitude. And despite the financial struggles, my mother's love was constant. There was a lot of love and laughter in our house.

I just wish that I had allowed my mother to love me the way she wanted to. I see it today as she cares for my nephew who lives with her. And I see the love of my childhood - the love I thought I had missed, but it was there all the time. Out of my own inadequacies, I could never fully take it. I think I allowed some of that love in the other day as we said goodbye before I left Canada to return to the United States. My mother was in tears. I squeezed her and said, 'I love you' for the first time in my life. And when she said, 'I love you, too,' - it felt like we'd reached a quiet understanding.

I always tell people that I get my strength, discipline and independence from my mother as I'd seen a lifetime of a woman doing everything for her children and her family and sacrificing herself. These days, she seems to have shrunk--smaller than I remember her. Yet when I think of my mother, I see majestic earth-mother doggedly defining mother-love and absolute strength. I always tell people about my mother, but now it is time for me to tell her how remarkable I think she is."

- Dawn Prince, www.SureWoman.com

For more of "Mom's Wisdom" to apply in your workplace for success, check out my new book "From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Mom's Wisdom on Leadership" available in local bookstores and online at BarnesAndNoble.com!

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