My Mari’s always been the quiet one.

Not the shy one, really.

Just quiet.

The kind of kid who’ll sit back, survey the land, and make a very sound, very rational, very mature decision about whether she wants to be bothered with the other kid’s mess. More than likely, she doesn’t get involved. And I’m okay with this.

But I find that in her quest to be the surveyor/play the rear, she often goes unheard… won’t raise her hand, won’t answer questions (even when she knows the answers), won’t speak up. It’s more comfortable for her, you see, to just… be… quiet.

She’s been like this since she was lil’ ol’. I remember when she first started big girl school–kindergarten; I’d dress her in these super cutie outfits and put fancy barrettes in her hair and tell her she was beautiful and pump her up all the way from our garage to her school… “you’re fantastic, baby girl–the smartest little girl I know.” She’d climb out of the car with a wide grin on her moon pie face and I’d kiss those beautiful brown cheeks, tell her I loved her, and implore her to “be fabulous, because who are you not to be?”

I was reminded of this just this weekend when I attended Odyssey Network, an annual conference of high-powered black women who come together every year to network, bond, and have an amazing week of sisterhood; one of the keynote speakers quoted the passage from which I borrowed liberally to inspire my baby; it’s from inspirational writer Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love,” but was catapulted to fame when Nelson Mandela quoted it in his 1994 inaugural address.

Use it to inspire your babies, too… maybe even yourself.


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

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  1. parentingBYdummies

    So busy lately, haven’t been able to visit all of my awesome “friends” thanks for sharing words of wisdom today. Off to catch up…

  2. I love Marianne Williamson. She is by far one of my most favorite authors. Her inspiring words always seem to reach out on a day I really need to hear them.


  3. Felicia - I complete Me

    Those first two lines strike me so hard. For a long time I wondered why I could not reach the level of success that I saw in my mind. I realized it was because I was afraid of success. Who would have thought. As I grow away from this fear I teach my children not to be afraid but to embrace it.

  4. Beautiful post! I know how your daughter feels! I’m that way in certain circumstances! I’m not sure what it is but some people just intimidate me. 90% of the time I’m my loud usual self though, 🙂

    Love that quote! It always reminds me of Coach Carter too.

    I’m SO excited we’re going to be rollin’ together!!

  5. MBB Founder and Editor Denene Millner

    @parentingbydummies: Welcome back–enjoy!

    @Miss Behavin: I'd never heard of her until this past weekend, though I'd hear that passage over and over again–mostly attributed to Nelson Mandela. I should have figured he wouldn't say "fabulous" on his own! LOL!!! This quote was also featured in the movie, Akeelah & the Bee.

    @Felicia: I SO agree with you. For me, I've been taught from an early age to "shrink back" in deference to others–to let others take the light no matter what. It's what girls were taught when we were growing up, at least. I'm STILL uncomfortable standing in the spotlight and speaking up out of fear of offending. But I'm working on it. And I want to make sure that my daughters know it's their divine right to let their lights shine…

  6. MBB Founder and Editor Denene Millner

    @Future Mama: Can’t wait to hit the Chevy… it’s going to be a blast!

  7. Your daughter reminds me of myself as a child and an adult. I have always been the quiet surveyor type. While being quiet has its perks, there are many disadvantages too. I’ve let too many chances to be heard and to be human out loud blow quietly in the wind. I love the quote you’ve shared. It makes me want to turn myself up a notch. Fabulous!!

  8. Renée aka Mekhismom

    That is one of my favorite quotes. I copied it word for word when I saw Akeelah and The Bee and later realized I had the book by Marianne Williamson with the quote in it. This is such an inspirational quote and has helped me to find my way on many a day.

  9. mommaof4wife2r

    i can’t tell you how much i love that quote…it’s amazing!

  10. LaTonya Yvette

    WOW! Simply Beautiful. Denene thanks for the inspiration, it was right on time.

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