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Voices Of The BBFG - Mental Health Advocate Stephanie Lyons

The Summer of 2021 looks bright to many in the wake of COVID. So many lives have been lost in the past year and a half. Not just physical lives but the lifestyles we thought we would have, the vacations we thought we’d take, the jobs and opportunities we thought would go our way, the loved ones we thought we’d see again. In the past year I’ve personally lost so much to COVID and it's been layered with divorced, becoming an empty nester, housebound, coworkers died, family died, my daughter’s loss of prom, graduation and its rites of passage and celebration. As a parent, there was the uncertainty we both faced - I tried to be positive and encouraging to lift my daughter's spirit while secretly venting my frustration and anger through tears in the car on my way home or quietly muffled at night.
Being an empathetic person, I tend to attract people from all backgrounds both male and female who share their stories with me. I consider this opportunity a gift as I try to present a safe space for each of them to land. As such, I’ve been privy to two stories that specifically stood out from two Asian beauty technicians who shared their stories with me during my regular visit to the salon. One woman lost her uncle on the February “snow day” here in Texas. As the hospitals were at capacity, he was not feeling well and was allowed to stay in the waiting room. The hospital insisted they could not admit him as they were full and at capacity. He dies from a heart attack alone in the waiting room. His family was not allowed to be with him before his passing and even in the aftermath, they only received a 'matter of fact' kind of phone call advising them of the his death and . . . “oh, by the way if you’re coming to see him you have little time before we have to call the coroner's office and have him removed”. With no electricity and through the danger of bad weather and snow they decide to fight the weather to say their untimely good-byes.
Another tech. shared her tragic love story as to how she made it here to Texas from California. Boy meets girl in school, they marry, have children, obtain good jobs and think everything will be good for the rest of their lives. Their marriage is infiltrated and destroyed by ‘friends’ and the typical ‘he said she said’ drama. She moves from California to Texas after the divorce to love the one she’s WITH instead of the one she WANTS and lost. He realizes his folly and apologizes too late. He moves to Texas to be near her, but her heart is already too broken. She loves him and he loves her but it’s too little too late – one lives in Houston and the other in Austin (with a new wife and daughter) just to be close to each other. The gospel according to COVID should have taught us all the same lesson, the ONLY thing that matters in life and at the end of life are RELATIONSHIPS. The pairing of human beings is for the purpose of relying on each other hence, developing relationships – each different, unique, and necessary for the survival of mankind.
Let’s face it, we were socially distancing LONG before COVID. We whore after technology and then cry about our families and children in rage shaking our fists asking, “What’s wrong!” We must not be fooled. This was our doing, our choosing.
Wake up! Clean out your closet and nurture your relationships beginning TODAY. A good name is worth more than gold. When you buy luxury it’s simply a last name – behind the name is a reputation. You are purchasing the REPUTATION behind the name. Relationships are so valuable we rely on them in the name of “networking” to get jobs, open financial doors, to get us into exclusive clubs, organizations, colleges, careers . . . at the end of the day it’s all we really have. So, what am I saying? Simply this, don’t leave your family with a BURDEN behind your name, leave them with a BLESSING.
Let’s be honest for a second, there are some that die, and no one really cares; in fact, we secretly think the world is better off without them. We do not want to judge or play God but secretly we believe the world to be a little lighter because of the load we no longer bear when someone “bad” dies.
Some live for just today – never caring about tomorrow. But everyone has a TOMORROW a day of reckoning. You can pretend and entertain yourself but eventually the show ends, the house lights come on and reality takes center stage. Was the argument that important? Could you have been more patient? Could we have taken more time or just listened – truly listened to what their heart was trying to say?
Men, I dare you to think differently. We have not been attentive to your voice and too much of your soul has gone unheard - and for that we are paying a dear price in society. But I dare you to reach higher – don’t just go for the low hanging fruit. In the black community, we’re so used to eating scraps from the table of mediocrity that we’ve developed a mindset normalizing it and punishing those of us who dare to reach higher. Yes, it takes more work but the rewards are so much better! At minimum, if you reach for higher the lower hanging fruit is always there waiting to be eaten . . .from the ground.
Let me leave you with this final thought: we desire more functionality from our phones than we do from our own lives. Those warning messages appear on your phone as a warning AND opportunity. I dare you to take the upgrade! Choose to rewire your brain and listen to uplifting messages, you will see your spouse, family and even work differently. Wake up with a new goal, a new dream. If you don’t have one ask God to give you one – there’s enough to go around! Yes, there is room for you at the table.
Hear me clearly, the next stage of life post COVID is scary, unscripted, uncertain, and exciting. I’m not sure what’s in store but I DO know we all have the choice to excel and become better from this adversity – develop more capacity to love, to give love and receive love. So, do me a favor my friend – take the UPGRADE!

Stephanie Lyons is a Mental Health Advocate at the BBFG Community. She is also the original Co-Host of Voices Of the BBFG for the Black Business Focus Group.