This is About YOU! by Iyanla Vanzant

A Speech by Iyanla Vanzant

This is About YOU!

The following is a transcript of the keynote speech delivered by Iyanla Vanzant at the 3rd Annual Women & Power Conference, organized by Omega Institute and V-Day in September 2004.

And this is about you. (Flute playing)

This is about you. (Violin playing)

Oh, yes. This is about you. (Melodic singing)

Oh, this is about you. This is about the spirit, the spirit—that can’t, it can’t die …This is about the spirit of you. When you’re walking, when you’re talking, when you’re loving, when you’re just being who you are, because you can’t help yourself. You’re just so powerful, so beautiful, so magnificent.

This is about you.

It’s about you.

It’s about your power.

It’s about your mystery.

It’s about your glory, your divinity.

It’s about that mysterious thing they call woman.

Oh, they keep trying to figure us out. Bless their pointy-heads.

This is about who you’ve been.

This is about who you’re not.

This is about who you want to be.

This is about who you are right now.

Oh, this is about you.

So very often, all too often, woman is willing to give her power away to make sure that somebody else gets what she herself wants. Oh, until today, because, this is about you.

It’s about you working.

It’s about you loving.

It’s about you growing.

It’s about you crying.

It’s about you healing.

It’s about you touching.

It’s about you speaking.

It’s about you thinking.

It’s about you loving.

Oh, it’s about you, woman.

Oh, will the women in the house, just raise their hand?

This is about you.

It’s about where we’re going.

It’s about where we’ve been.

It’s about what we need.

And it’s about the s— we ain’t goin’ to take no more.

When was the last time your life was about you?

Let today be the day…

Let me just say you look good. I don’t want to be a speaker and talk to a bunch of ugly people. If you look good, just raise your hands. If you feel good, raise both hands. Oh, yes. And if you express some good this weekend, just shake your butt. Believe me, what a beautiful sight you are. What a beautiful sight you are.

Thank you, Elizabeth.

And Eve, do you love them?

So let’s see who we have in the house tonight.

New York, you’re in the house? Ok.

Pennsylvania, are you in the house?

I came from California, so is California in the house?



How did I know that?



Oh, somebody …Don’t you know somebody from Delaware?

Who else we got in the house?

Indiana is in the house?



Who else have we got?

Have we got any foreigners?

Missouri? Yes. Missouri is in the house.


I got two ears. You all got 29,000 lips.

Wait a minute. Who did you say?

Washington D.C., oh my God, Washington D.C. I lived there, right next door.

Maryland, is Maryland in the house?

You’re not real excited about that.

Who else?

Good. Whoever you are…Whatever you said. Go give them some of that love. It’s an honor—Virginia. I’m sorry. That’s where my mother is from.


Is Chicago in the house?



New Jersey.

What’s going on in Jersey—I guess nothing because half of the women are here.

Ok, who else have we got?

Idaho? Idaho?

Who in the world—stand up. I want to see what you look like…Oh, my God. Idaho. Two people. Alrighty, then. I’d a been a ho, but they made it illegal


I just made that up.

Iceland? Oh, my God. Stand up. Let us look at you. Iceland. That’s phenomenal.



Yes. This is delicious. Oh, give me a fork.

Yes, darling?

Scotland? Oh, my gosh. Scotland. Stand up. Let us look at you. Is London, is in the UK here?


Yes, yes.

Jamaica? I don’t mean Long Island. I mean Jamaica.

No. Not here?

Anybody else?

Virgin Islands. Virgin Islands? Yes. The only place you can still find virgins in the islands.

Puerto Rico…


Now, you know I cannot hear you. What are you doing?

Nigeria? Yes. Nigeria. Wait a minute. Excuse me. Isn’t Nigeria part of Africa? I said Africa and nobody said nothing…

All right.


Is that amazing?



Seattle and Germany on this side.

This is a nice mix over here. Kind of international flavor. I can see it in your auras.


Wherever we come from—all right…

See what happened! A control freak right there.

Yes. Where ever we come from—


Okay. They just wanted to—let’s just go on and do attendance.

All right. Anybody else?





Now, wait a minute. I’m getting a psychic premonition. Do y’all live there or is your third generation ancestors from there? You actually live there? Born there? So you came for the conference? No? How long have you been in the United States? How long? One month? Really? You know what? I’m not talking to you people anymore. If you’re a woman ready to stand in your power, just stand up.

Now, that needs an applause.

So we’re gonna get started now, yeah?

Do this for me if you will. I want you to look to the right, just look to the right, look to the left. Look at somebody. Don’t just be turning your head there. Everybody look to the right. Look at somebody. Because everybody doesn’t know everybody else, do they? No. That’s good.

Now, I want to bring something to your awareness. You are right now, in this very moment, standing in the presence of angels. Because you never know when an angel is going to come right beside you. And if you think back through your life in your, and your, deepest darkest moments, it was another woman; it was an angel, a woman that was there for you. So I just want you to reach out and take an angel by the hand. Come on. Reach outtake an angel by the hand; just hold on to an angel. Touch an angel. Well, you could touch him. He’s all right. He’s just an angel in drag. Go on. Hold his hand. Angel in drag, that’s right. Just hold his hand. That’s okay. And what I want you to do is just take a nice deep breath with me if you will and let it out with a nice breathe. And take another nice deep breath.

And let it out with a nice breath. And disconnect your brain for just a moment. And I want you to feel the life that’s in your hands. And know that God, goddess, all that is so, trusted you that she put a life in your hands.

Feel it.

Know that right now you have a life in your hands and your life is in the hand of an angel. Feel it.

Feel the warmth of it.

Feel the heat of it.

Feel the pulse of it.

Now turn to the left or to the right, I want you to just turn silently—silently—and take hands with another woman.

Just turn. Its called get a partner.

Surely, you know how to do that. No ____________ out there; cut that freaky stuff out!

In silence—in silence—because one of a woman’s greatest powers is her silence. It’s then when she can be creative. It’s then when the life force begins to move through her body.

I want you to look at her sister in the face—make eye contact with her, whoever she is, and know that this is not your keeper.

This is not just your angel.

This is you.

Look at you.

Look at your beauty. Look at your glory. Look at your divinity. And silently, right where you are, what I want you to do, one at a time, I want you to lean over and tell your sister what it is that you are praying for in your life. Praying for, working for, wishing for.

Just lean over and tell her.

Lean over and tell her. Tell her what you’re praying for.

Don’t have a whole conversation now.

Just let her know what you’re praying for. Yes.

Let another sister know what it is you need.

Now, together, let us take a nice deep breath and let it out with a nice Ahhh.

You know, you always say Ahhh because that is the announcement of the name of God on our planet. Ahhh. Take another nice deep breath and let it out with a nice mmmm. Mmmm. We say mmmm, because when things get so good we just acknowledge it by saying mmmm.

And it’s so good to have another women hold your prayers sacredly. So together, in whatever way you are comfortable with, I want you to pray for your sister, not yourself. Send up an affirmation, a silent prayer, for what your sister needs and wants, because she just told you. Pray for your sister, not for yourself. Because when you pray for someone else, you receive tenfold.

Pray for your sister.

Pray that their dreams come true. That her life grows, that her heart is healed, that he life is mended, pray for your sister right now. They say that the easiest way to get what you want is to be willing to see someone else get it first. So pray for a sister that’s not here. A sister you know who is in need. A sister who may need a healing, who may need growth.

May need something in her life—she may be your sister or a sister’s friend. Pray for another sister right now.

Be willing to see her get what she needs, before you get what you need.

Just take a breath and pray.

Pray for your mother whether she’s in the flesh or not. Pray for your mother, giving thanks that she lent her body to the creator to bring you forth. Pray for your mother.

Just give thanks for her.

For the sacredness of her womb. For the sake of her life.

For without her, you would not be here today.

Pray for your mother.

Now pray for healing for women.

Women who suffer violence.

Women who are lost.

Women who are confused. Women who have been silenced. Women who through the day-to-day mediocrity that has been cast upon them no longer use their mind as a creative tool.

Pray for women on the planet.

Pray for them.

Affirm for them.

Know for them.

Let us send up a cry to the God, goddess, all there is, that a special dispensation of light and love, and healing and wisdom and discernment fall free, fresh, upon women all over the planet. Pray for women today.

And yourself.

And yourself.

And yourself.

That you be stronger and wiser.

That every thought you think, that every word you speak, that every action you undertake, will be manifested as good, good and more good, healing in your life, the lives of your loved ones and the lives of women.

And if you don’t know what to pray, simply say Help me. And once you say help me, just say Thank you.

A nice deep breath.

Let it out with a nice Ahhh.

And let’s have another breath.

And let it out with a nice mmmm.

Now, just look your sister in the face, look another sister in the face, and to her say I wish you love.

I wish you peace.

I wish you joy.

I wish that your angel carries you to the heights. And just because I can and because you’re my sister, I’m going to hug you right now.

Hug your sister.

Because if we don’t get hugged, we get ugly.

And just because we can, let’s have a seat. There’s one for everybody. And just because it feels good, let’s give ourselves a hand.

Doesn’t that, didn’t that feel good?

We, you cannot believe a place like this, with people like this—let me put these here so you can see them because you know it’s all about the shoes.

But I also know that it’s a sacred time and it’s always good when it’s a sacred time to just stand flat footed on the earth and to call forth the authentic-ness of my being, what an honor and blessing to inhabit the flesh form as a female on this planet at this time.

I’m so excited. I’m excited about myself, so you know I’ve got to be excited about you. And, it’s about you.

This is about you. This is about you. So very often we come to conferences and workshops—not you. I know you don’t do this.

It’s those people you work with. We come to conferences and we get information and we sit. Yes. That’s so interesting. That’s so nice. And we don’t take it home and apply it until today.

Because this is about you.

It’s time that we have a fierce conversation among ourselves, with each other, and with ourselves about where we see ourselves moving to as women.

This is about you.

It’s about your mind.

It’s about your heart.

It’s about your spirit.

It’s about your life.

It’s about your voice.

It is about your voice.

This is about you.

Please understand this is about me.

This is about me. I’m just talking to you because you showed up.

But this is about me.

It’s about you and it’s about me.

It’s about women.

This is about women.

But what is this—what is this Iyanla? You keep talking about the this. What is the this?

The this is that it’s time for us to stand up in ourselves, for ourselves, and about ourselves.

But we know that.

I’m not saying that as a political ploy, as a political motivation for us.

I’m talking about really standing up and start cleaning the crap up in our lives because we can’t clear up the world, ladies, until we start clearing it up in our lives. Okay?

This is about you.

This is about you.

It’s about the—let me be nice. Don’t put yourself ugly with me. Okay? If you hear me say something that you know applies to you, just raise your hand.

Don’t look left or right, though.

Because angels don’t have issues. This is about you.

Just raise your hand.

Raise it up high. Mmmm-hmmm!

Because, acknowledgement is the first step towards healing.

We can’t heal the planet when we can’t master a sink full of dirty dishes ladies.

This is about you.

It’s about me, but it’s also about you.

This is about you.

We want to talk today; I want to talk to you about four particular areas of your life. And each part of those lives are represented by a musician.

I want to talk to us about our voice today. Our voice as women, where is it?

Where is our voice and whose voice is it and who are we speaking?

I want to talk to us about our minds, our minds.

The mind of a woman is a powerful thing.

I want to talk to us today about our hearts.

Our hearts. The drum is our heart.

I want to talk to us today about our spirit.

The flute is our spirit.

This is about you, your spirit, your heart, your mind, your voice. We need a voice.

So many women, particularly women of color, women of all colors—we lost our voice. We gave it up.

We gave up our voice. Someplace along the way we gave up our voice because it was nice. I tell you I am so sick of being nice. I just want to—

Just checking.

Don’t leave me hanging out there by myself now. And don’t you look left or right now. Angels don’t have issues.

Just being nice—don’t you just sometime want to cuss somebody out?

But that’s not nice.

So many of us are hypnotized by the nice girl syndrome.

We’ve given our voice to the nice girl—that’s not nice.

Don’t say that. That’s not nice. Don’t say that.

And then we get confused between nice and spiritual.

Spiritual people, you know, they try to be very…Oh, that’s not loving. Oh, I’m going to forgive you.

It’s an out growth of the nice girl syndrome.

Remember, Jesus kicked the table over. You understand?

We got to remember that.

Just because we’re spiritual, just because we’re on a spiritual path and just because we’re women—not just because, I wanna say, because we are on a spiritual path, because we are on a healing path, and because we are women doesn’t mean that we have to give up our voice.

It is time for us to speak from the deep part of the great grandmother belly that is within us. Mama don’t take no mess.

We’ve got to remember that. We have to remember that.

We have to stop allowing people to be in our lives in inappropriate ways.

When we don’t have clear boundaries, when we don’t speak our

boundaries—do ya’ll have pencils and paper?

This is being taped right?

Buy the tape. Buy two. One for you and one for the people you work with.

Because you know they need it.

You know them people they need help. They should have been here, but they had too many issues. Couldn’t even get here!

They issues kept them from coming in.

So please buy them a tape.

Your voices are your boundary to know when to say no.

Write this down.

You must have a strong NO because if you don’t have a strong NO you will have a weak yes. I want to demonstrate it to you.

This is not a strong NO: Um, no.

People are going to walk over you when your No looks like that.

Or, um, um, no. I don’t think so!

Think of it as a hazard to your health. Just say no.

Because when we don’t use our voice to announce our no.

No to dishonor, no to disrespect.

No to de-evaluation. No to being diminished.

No to being ignored.

No to being denied.

When we don’t have a strong no, we cannot have—when we don’t have a strong no, we will have a weak yes and the things that we need and say and the things we want to do for ourselves we won’t do because we’re not committed to them.

Use your voice to create your boundaries. Draw your line in the sand and if someone crosses it, don’t back up and draw another line. Stand your ground.

Stand your ground.

This is about you. What are the boundaries in your life and are they being violated and by whom and why? How are you allowing it?

How are you participating in it? Because as women we must draw the boundaries in order to maintain our power.

When you don’t have power—when you don’t have boundaries, you lose power. Do you know there are energy vampires that will suck your life out of you?

How many of you know some? Mmmm, hmmm. And it is your voice, your No! So have your very clear boundaries. Let people know what is or is not appropriate in your life, in your life.

How many people got drama going on in your life?

Don’t lie now. Raise your hand.


Why is the drama in your life?

There’s lots of theaters.

If there’s drama, it’s because we allow it.

Many of us—will all the drama queens stand up.

Don’t be a shamed. Don’t be a shamed.

Stay standing. Stay standing.

Don’t look to the left or the right.

That’s why people won’t stand. These are angels declaring their divinity right here and now.

I saw that. Get up drama queen. Stay standing in your truth.

Drama queens, take a breath.

I’m going to over correct here. That means I’m going to say harshly if I upset you, I’ll clean it up later. That’s a good practice.

Over correct.

You’re not living your purpose. You’re not doing what you know you need to be doing. And when we don’t know what we know we need to do, we create drama to keep ourselves from being bored. You’re simply bored, drama queens.

The drama keeps you occupied.

Get on purpose.

Get on purpose.

Be willing to fail!

How many drama queens are willing to fail? Fall down on your face. Break your fingernails. Muss your hair. Scratch your knee.

Awe, I see some of the drama queen’s not raising their hands because they want to be cute drama queens. Drama queens, get on purpose. Get on purpose.

Do what you want—there’s something in here; right?

Are you doing it?


Are you almost pregnant?

Get on purpose, drama queens.

Stop creating drama because you’re bored.

Be willing to upset people.

Be willing to piss somebody off.


Now, you could do it nicely.

There’s a nice way to piss people off.

Would you like to learn this?

All right. See, most drama queens piss people off like this…


So drama queens, practice this with me. Take your most perfect and dramatic stand.

Come on. Get your stand. Come on.

Practice this…


Let me hear all the drama queens together. Let me hear you…give them some love…

Because—-we don’t want to use our voice to offend. We don’t want to use our voice to upset. We want to use our voice to protect ourselves, to honor ourselves, to respect ourselves as women.

Use your voice.

So many of us have lost our voice. We gave our voice up to the dominion of someone else, whether that was a parent or an outside force.

We gave up our voice. And now we have to practice…

Saying what you need to say. I know Eve said that to you.

Say what you need to say.

Find the voice and say it.

Say it loud if you have to. Say it softly.

Repeat yourself a specific number of times.

Don’t just keep repeating yourself add infinitum. Let people know I’m gonna say this again, and if blah-blah doesn’t happen, this is what will be the result.

See, one of the reasons people behave inappropriate in our lives is because there’s no consequences for bad behavior. Hello! If you don’t give people consequences for bad behavior, they will continue to run a muck in your life. It is only your voice that will stop it. Draw your line in the stand. Use your voice to hold it. This is about you. This is about your voice—so many of us have a beautiful song. Your life is a song. Did you know that?

And the way you sing—some of us sing off key.

That’s all right.

Some of us sing loud. That’s okay.

Some of us, some of us, well—I want to say can’t sing, but that’s not true.

All of us can sing. Some of us just don’t sound good.

That’s all right.

Your life is your song. Sing it as loud as you want.

And when people complain about how loud you are living your song in your life, tell them to buy earplugs.

Ladies, women, don’t be afraid to out sing someone else. So many of us won’t stand in the fullness of our voice because we don’t want to out sing someone else. We don’t want people to be upset with how great our song may be. The song of your life. You know our beloved sister Marianne Williamson say some of us stay small to make other people comfortable. Some of us hum so other people won’t get upset by our song. If you have a song, sing it. If you have a speech, speak it. If you have a complaint, voice it. If you’ve got a need, ask for it. This is about you.

Learning to ask for what you want.

Ask for what you want, ladies.

Slower. Slower. A little to the left, please.

Because, if you don’t ask for what you want, you can’t complain when you don’t get it.

Don’t just sit there, stand there, lay there in silent agony.

This is your song.

Make your request.

This is about you, and the healing power of your voice. Sometimes, ladies, you just have to talk to yourself. Do you have good—if you have good conversations with yourself—

I have absolute dialogues.

Sometimes debates.

And I’ve developed multiple voices.

What do you mean?

What do you think I mean?

Who you talking to?

I’m talking to you.

Develop multiple voices so it doesn’t become monotone, because you’ll get bored with that and then you won’t listen.

But most of all when you’re speaking to yourself, ladies, speak the truth.

Don’t lie to yourself.

Sometimes you just may have to omit a little information when you’re speaking to other people. I’m not—I mean I’m not advocating that. But when you’re speaking to you, speak the truth.

Stop saying you’re going to get in that size five.

You’re not. Throw it away!

Stand fully in your 12,14, 16,18.

Let me tell you this.

As long as there’s a size bigger than the one I’m wearing, I’m okay. You understand? They’ve got plenty of sizes above 12. I’m not going to keep telling myself I’m a ten, or an eight. I just tell you I’m a six.

Speak the truth to yourself about what you feel, about what you need, about what you see, about what you want. So many of us don’t tell ourselves the truth. We don’t speak the truth into our spirits. And then we can’t understand why there’s so many dishonorable things going on in our lives. This is about you and your voice and your truth. Tell your stories, ladies.

Tell your stories.

Please tell your stories.

But don’t tell it just to hear yourself do your dramatic interpretation of how horrible your life was. Tell your story because in there are the nuggets of healing.

Somebody was hurt before you.

Somebody was left before you.

Somebody was broken before you.

Someone was raped, abused, rejected before you.

And it is in the telling of their story that you find inspiration. And it is in the telling of your story that someone else will find inspiration.

This is about you and your story.

Because in your story, somebody can be healed.

Now, everybody’s got a story.

Don’t make up stories.

Tell a real story.

Because some people—not you—but those people you work with, they have a tendency to add characters and situations that didn’t really occur to make the story even more dramatic.

Don’t be ashamed. Don’t look left or right now.

Tell the truth of your story.

The core of your story.

Because in telling your story, you’re going to learn how much you’ve grown.

Oh, we grow.

We grow through adversity and difficulty. We grow through the celebration of our victories. And sometimes because we don’t tell our story, we miss the victory.

I was one of those people. Let me tell my own truth now. I want from thing to thing to thing without stopping—without stopping to celebrate the victory. I didn’t use my own voice to celebrate myself. When I looked up—when I looked up, I had written seven books in five years, lost a dress size, and was wearing an under wire bra with a cup size bigger and I had never taken a rest.

There was a lot going on.

Pause to celebrate the victories. Tell your story so that you can find that this is about you.

And it’s about the beauty of your voice.

It’s about the beauty of your life. It’s about the power of your voice and the power of your life.

This is about you.

And it’s about the richness of your voice. Somebody is waiting to hear exactly what you have to say. Somebody is waiting to know you at a deeper level. Somebody is waiting for the lesson you can teach. The wisdom you can bring forth. The healing that you can speak.

This is about you.

And your voice.

Let us make a commitment to ourselves to use our voice, to sing our song, to have a strong and powerful note, create boundaries that honor the authenticity of who we are.

This is about you.

Take a nice deep breath and let it out with a nice Ahhh.

Just connect with your voice. Connect with it, connect with it.

(Music playing)

I’m so glad to be a woman.

Just imagine, I could have been a rock in a park.

Some raisin in bran.

I mean just think about it.

Think about how awesome and magnificent really it is just to be who you are.

Just to be able to stand and watch pieces and parts of your body shift and change.

You know, guys are boring.

Did you know that?

They don’t have things that fall down.

They don’t have things to play with like we do.

I’m so grateful.

And I’m so grateful because the way my mind works as a woman—this is a miraculous thing, I figured out that the reason we have babies is because men don’t know how to utilize space.

A man could never get a big old baby in there. He couldn’t do that.

Our minds are simply incredible.

But all too often we waste them.

Re-running tapes that don’t serve us.

Re-running beliefs that don’t honor us.

Watching too many soap operas let me not say that, because this is my commercial.

Monday is my birthday.

I’m gonna be 52 years old on Monday. And Monday I start over. I do. I start over.

I’m participating in the first daytime reality show called Starting Over.

Where six (6) women come together in a house to heal and grow and I’m the life coach.

So check your local listings.

That’s my commercial. Monday. It is my intention—it is my intention, and with the grace of the goddess and the Holy Spirit to revolutionize the face of daytime television. To begin to use television as a median

to heal and grow. And that’s because of the way I think about women. I am committed to the universal healing of women.

I’m committed to women healing their bodies, healing their hearts, and women healing their mind.

I’m committed to that.

Because our minds are so powerful.

I want to encourage you—I want to encourage you that at least once a day do a mind dump. A mind dump where you totally allow yourself to release every thought about yourself.

About everyone else.

Every thought, every judgment, every past experience.

Just dump your mind.

I can’t tell you how to do it. I’m not going to tell you to rub no crystals on your head, stand on 1 toe, do a yoga—I can’t tell ya none of that. I’ll just say, figure it out and do it. Use your voice and affirm it. It is my intention at this moment to dump all negative unproductive unharmonious energies from my mind so I will be a greater and a more whole vessel for the divine energy and essence of life. So that everything that I put my hand to do will be healing for someone.

That everything I open my mouth to speak will be healing for someone. That every talent, skill, ability that I have will bring peace, harmony, love, balance on the planet. Great goddess, give me the right thoughts now and point my feet in the right direction. Now you have to buy the tape because that’s on that.

This is about your mind.

It’s about the minds of women coming together.

It’s about the minds of women working together.

This is about you and your mind.

Your mind is a powerful instrument.

It is the universal vessel of Light and there is a universal power waiting to pull forth through you. There is a song that, that power wants you to sing, a book that, that power wants you to write.

There’s a business that, that power wants you to open up. This is about you, right here and right now.

Your mind is connected to the one (1) divine universal mind and there is a down pouring of powerful information that you can use simply because you are a woman.

To bring light, energy and healing on to the planet.

This is about you and your mind.

Open your mind. Hear your mind.

Expand your mind. (Music playing…)

Your mind…ok, I have to talk fast now. I have 12 minutes, so I want to talk real fast. This is about you and this is about your spirit. This is about your spirit. This is about your spirit. This is about the dynamic, divine essence and energy at the core of your being.

This is about your spirit and I’m not talking spirituality. I’m talking spirit. I’m talking essence, energy.

This is about your spirit.

And the strength of it.

And the power of it.

And the beauty of it.

This is about your spirit.

This is about your spirit.

This is about you.

Ladies, you know, sometimes we think that when we get on this path of growing and loving and healing and being political and working that we’re not supposed to struggle.

Don’t look now, don’t look left or right, but the person right next to you is struggling right now with something because all of us are struggling with something. So many of us want to have faith, but we don’t want to have to test to build that faith.

This is about your spirit and the reason we struggle is to grow in spirit.

To grow in spirit. When we have questions, when we have doubts, it’s about our growth. It’s about our evolution.

I love confusion. I love confusion. I love confusion.

You know why? Because when I get confused, it says that I have come to the edge of all the information that I know and I’m on the verge of a break through.

And in that moment of confusion when all my degrees and all my books and all my experience and CDs and tapes don’t help me, that’s when I go to spirit.

That’s when I get still.

That’s when it gets deep.

That’s when I get naked before the God of my understanding and say Help me because I’m weak.

Help me because I don’t know.

Help me because I’m not as cute, as smart, as powerful as I think I am in this moment. It’s about your spirit and we have to go to that well of spirit and drink from that well and suckle at the breast of the mother. And allow her to nurture us. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know.

Because, when you say you don’t know, your spirit will tell you what you need to know.

Don’t be afraid to say you can’t.

Because when you say you can’t, spirit can.

Don’t be afraid to step into the darkness of the unknown because your spirit will be your light. Get in touch with your spirit, whether you do it with breath, whether you do it with meditation, whether you do it with belly dancing or yoga.

Get into your spirit. Because it’s in the spirit of a woman that this world is going to be healed.

Every single thing you need to heal this planet, we have it.

We have the spirit of our love. We have it in the spirit of our voice.

We have it in the spirit of our mind.

Lest we not forget that we are giving birth to the men we are raising them— we are re growing them. We’re sleeping with them. We are feeding them.

As we become grounded in our spirit as women, we gave them permission and direction to be more grounded in their spirit as men.

Get in touch with your spirit.

This is about spirit.

This is about your divine glory, your essence, your being.

Stop being so busy that you, you don’t have time for five minutes of silence three times a day. This is about you. And your spirit. And your poem and your glory.

This is about you, and the spirit in you.

There is a spirit waiting to answer your question that you don’t have the courage to ask. This is about you.

And there’s a spirit in you that knows exactly how you are to take the next step to get to where you need to be.

But if you don’t touch that or tap into it, be present to that spirit, you’re out there on your own. And that could be a hazard to your health.

(Music…) Your spirit.

I want to tell you a quick story before I talk to you about your heart.

I love a sale.

I don’t care what’s on sale.

If it say sale, I have to be here.

It could be something and I’d miss it.

I love a sale. Don’t be shamed. Don’t be shamed.

So I was reading in the paper—this was a year ago—I was reading in the paper that LensCrafters had a sale. I tell you, I don’t care what the sale is sisters. So my grandson, he wears eye glasses so I figured I would be a good grandmother. It was during the Christmas season. I would take him to LensCrafters and they had two eye exams for 39.99. How could I give that up? Any shopper worth her weight in the credit card knows if there’s a two for sale you got to be there.

So I went to LensCrafters and since he had two eyes and I had two eyes, I would be the second one of the two for. So they examined my grandson’s eyes. I hadn’t had an eye exam since they did those “E’s”, that how long it had been since I had an eye exam, because I can see everything or so I thought.

So now I go in, they have all kind of modern technology. Have you been getting your eyes examined lately? You have to look in the little machine and they say do you see the green and the blue—it was so quite exciting and then you go from that office to the other office and you—they say I’m going to test you for glaucoma and you stick your eyes in the other thing and poof they spit some stuff in your eye, they don’t even tell you it’s coming— so now you can’t see maybe you don’t have glaucoma, but you have powder in your eye to let them know you don’t have it. Oh, it was quite exciting.

So Dr. Apple, she was the eye doctor—isn’t that great, apple for the eye—she gave my grandson his glasses and then she said to me Ms. Vanzant, where are your glasses?

I said I don’t wear no glasses.

She said you don’t?

I said absolutely not. No, I don’t.

She said you don’t wear glasses for reading?


Well, that wasn’t really true because I had that nice little leopard pair that I got from Target because they were on sale? You know, have you been to Target? They have them on the rack, the little magnifying ones.

I got them for $1.25. I just got them because they were leopard and they go with so many things and a diva must have leopard eyeglasses, O.K.

And so she said you don’t have reading glasses?

I said I don’t have reading glasses. I said what are you trying to say to me?

She said Ms. Vanzant; you need not one, not two, but three pair of eyeglasses.

I was absolutely horrified. I said I didn’t even know that. Why are you telling me I need glasses?

She said because your vision is very bad.

I said when did my vision get bad?

She said well, if you don’t know, you know I don’t know. This is the first time I’ve seen you. What am I supposed to say to you?

The reason I didn’t know that is because your eyes will adjust to the level of deficiency in their focus.

Hear me! Your eyes will adjust to the level of deficiency in your focus.

How many of us are walking around not realizing that we can’t even see?

That our eyes have adjusted to a certain level of deficiency and that we then adjust our lives to the deficiency that we see. And any time we adjust ourselves to deficiency, it means that we are not living the truth that is in our heart.

We have to get our eyes checked. And the way you check your vision in your life is not by going to LensCrafters because they have a sale. The way you check your vision is to really get deep down and in touch with what’s going on in your heart.

Are you still mad at booboo because he left you at 56, upset with your mama because she gave you generic cookies?

What is going on in your heart?

Are you still holding yourself back because mom liked your sister better?

Are you still upset with your brother?

Is there somebody that you still need to forgive because your life has been adjusted to the level of deficiency and defect in your vision? And if your heart isn’t open, joyful, loving, peaceful, then it means you can’t really see.

This is about you.

This is about you.

It doesn’t matter what they did.

If it’s causing an upset in your life, it’s about you.

It doesn’t matter what they said.

If you’re still talking about it, it’s about you.

It doesn’t matter whether they sent the check or didn’t send the check.

It don’t matter that Booboo left you or Fifi ain’t coming back.

If you’re not living in joy and in peace in your heart, then you are out of integrity.

Because you have the universal and a divine contract with the Creator of your life to live in total, absolute, complete abundant joy.

And if you’re not doing that, it’s about you. It’s not about Booboo.

It’s not about Fifi.

It ain’t even about Bush bless his pointed head.

It’s about you.

So the question becomes today is how are you going to heal your heart? How are you going to stand authentically in your heart?

You know, women think we’ve got to do so much.

But there’s really only three things a woman was put here on the planet to do.

A woman was put on the planet to awaken to her God self, to awaken to your God self that divinity, that nobility, the God of your understanding—I’m not teaching you religion.

If tree’s rocked bushes, if that turns you on, if you like it, I love it—but get to the God of your understanding and awaken to your God self.

Number two, to celebrate life.

You were put here to celebrate life.

Life is a blast.

I mean sometimes, you know, it can be a royal pain in the butt and rather inconvenient, but Oh, well, what the hell. If you have some party shoes, get in it and dance.

That is a woman’s work.

A woman’s work is to dance.

You know, you can dance yourself through anything—you wanna leave me Booboo, go on, get out…

Oh, yes.

Oh, you want to fire me? Whoa-whoa … a woman’s work is to sing. You know we have to dance we have to sing.

Most of all, we have to learn the power of “TADA”.

See you have the power of TADA in your heart.

You know what TADA is; right?

Oh, you thought I was going to fail? You thought I wasn’t going to make it? You thought I was going to stay crazy forever? Well, TADA! You thought you were going to hold me down? Oh, you really thought I didn’t have it going on? Well … a woman’s work is to dance and to

sing TADA. So ladies get into your hearts.

Can you stand up for a minute? I just want to check your woman-ness. Let me just see. Get a hip moving, just one, just one. Don’t hurt yourself now. If it feels good to you—that’s right, Mama, work it out.

See, a woman can do anything. Just work it out. Now, if you really want—men, and that’s all right. Men, you too. We appreciate you.

Get up men, c’mon get up.

We know you might have a little woman hiding in there.

Just sway and sway and say TADA, TADA.

TADA—we’re coming up, we’re becoming powerful.

We are becoming stronger. We are taking over.

Yes. We have work to do.

Oh, it feels so good.

Yes. And if you just put your arms in it—yes. Now, remember, you’ve prayed for somebody today; right?

So that means there’s a dispensation on its way to you.

Because what you give, you receive tenfold.

So come on.

Pull it down. Pull it down. Pull it down. Pull it down. Ooh! Just get in it now.

Whatever it is. C’mon. The courage pull it down. The strength, pull it down.

The victory. Pull it down. Yeah! Pull it down.

Whatever you need, reach hi pull it down.

Reach up. Ok, keep them hips moving.

Because a woman’s work is to stretch her hands as far as she can reach and grab all that she can grab.

And just thank you, TADA, TADA, TADA…you ain’t moving your hips! We have to be multifaceted! Yeah! Yes! Yes!

And right where you are, take a nice deep breath and just feel life as it moves through you.

As it reviews, renews, and revises itself in you.

What a blessing to stand on the planet as a woman, a creative and divine instrument of the infinite intelligence of life.

They tried to silence us, but TADA.

They tried to hold us down, but TADA.

In so many areas we have been first and we will be first and we will continue.

Because not only are we divine, we are phenomenal.

Because of the divine essence within us.

Thank you, Father, mother God for allowing us to be alive on the planet at time inhabiting the flesh form as female.

Right now we ask that you put the right thoughts in our minds and that you point our feet in the right direction.

Guide us individually and collectively to that place of divine purpose in our lives so that we, as your daughters, as your handmaidens, will bring a new life, a new light, a new energy onto the planet.

Thank you, Father, Mother, God.

Thank you most of all, not only for our greatness, for our divinity, for our sweetness, for our beauty, for our power.

Thank you, God for chocolate!

This keynote speech was delivered by Iyanla Vanzant at the 3rd Annual Women & Power Conference organized by Omega Institute and V-Day in September 2004. To order the CD of this speech or to purchase other CDs from this event, please click here.

More Speeches from the 2004 Women & Power Conference

Iyanla Vanzant
Iyanla Vanzant is an ordained minister, lawyer, and spiritual life counselor who is a frequent guest on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.” The award-winning author of five New York Times best-sellers, including Acts of Faith, One Day My Soul Just Opened Up, and In the Meantime, Vanzant facilitates workshops nationally with a mission to assist in the empowerment of men and women.

Praised by Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley as “an inspiration to all women,” her stories of personal struggle and victory as a battered wife and teenage welfare mother have touched millions. In building a life of transformation on the foundation of her troubled past, she has become a standard bearer for the power of forgiveness and love to heal. She has been awarded an “Oni” by the International Congress of Black Women as one of the nation’s unsung heroes.

In 1998, she served as the national spokesperson of Literacy Volunteers of America. In 1999, she was listed among the 100 Most Influential African Americans by Ebony magazine, and her debut spoken word album hit the Billboard Gospel Chart at Number 1. She has been awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from the City University of New York and an honorary doctor of divinity degree from the Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia.




The Education of the Negro



 This month marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The recognition of this dark event in history is remembered amidst a series of potential political firsts. Both sides speak to the transformation King’s fight has created which brings us to this juncture. Only Rev. King had the foresight to believe that Blacks, Whites, men, women, young and old would be working toward a common good. In today’s political climate each category previously mentioned is represented in three candidates: Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain.


  Each of these candidates speaks to the influences of MLK and Ronald Reagan. Although political and social activism was marked by the assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, and Medgar Evans, not until MLK was gunned down and much later when The Gipper lost his senses, have we looked to resurrect a leader to carry on those values. Undeniably, every legacy is sustained in how it is remembered.


  Reagan is remembered for his tough stance on drugs and his conservative political theory. While MLK is remembered for his utopian view of society’s future where we as a people would be respected for our differences and united by our longer list of similarities.


  Getting there requires the honest education of society and all of its members, not a candy-coated education that makes history easier to swallow, but an unbiased history reflecting every participant’s strengths and weaknesses.


 I can recall the uneasiness in the eyes of my Caucasian high school social studies teacher when he spotted the Autobiography of Malcolm X on my desk. Or later, the curiosity of my Caucasian coworkers during a lunch break when I pulled out a book entitled Martin, Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare which compared and contrasted the doctrines of Dr. King and Malcolm X. Education is so powerful, that a search to educate oneself about his or her own culture and the contributions from members of that culture raises the eyebrow of the collective majority. Shouldn’t the minority just accept what is said about them and their culture by the white majority?


  If so, what this amounts to is a lot of rosy colored reflections about history and about some of our most respected leaders. It is easier to remember MLK for his eloquent speeches and his nonviolent protests. It’s interesting how the most referenced words of Dr. King come from his “I Have Dream” and his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speeches. Little reference is made about the disappointment MLK felt toward America for its involvement in the Vietnam War as expressed in his “Beyond Vietnam” speech. King’s nonviolent stance was not restricted to the black community’s response to racial oppression. King recognized the hypocrisy of fighting oppression and violence with more oppression and violence. No disappointment could exist where there was not once pride.


  King’s legacy, much like history, should not be picked apart and misquoted to suit the purpose for the moment. To carry on the vision is to understand the whole man behind that vision. Not doing so is to leave very little hope in sustaining a successor for the cause. Who would dare take the charge of the demigod we have created. One that is selfless and without flaws. No one could succeed by that standard. The history of one and his contributions must be remembered in its entirety in order to do the most good. 


Images in Reflection

 I participated in the Grown & Sexy broadcast of the Black Authors Network this weekend on Blogtalk Radio. Amidst the sexy titles and erotic explorations came real conversations about definitions of sexuality.

·                      What makes one homosexual?

·                      Are you bisexual or just a freak?

·                     Can a person be “on the down-low” and still be straight?

·                      Why aren’t women who experiment with other women automatically considered gay and men are?  

 All those in attendance agreed that healthy sexual interest begins with some level of attraction. What interested me most was what wasn’t being discussed. Everyone assumed that finding attractiveness in others instantly leads to sexual desire. That being said,  straight people would only remark positively about specific physical features exhibited by members of the same sex in relation to body characteristics they wish to acquire. In other words, a straight man would not admire the tight ass or ripped abs of another man for the sake of the taut body part itself. It can only be recognized as an example of how the admiring man would like to fix his own self-perceived flaws. Some women on the panel expressed the same for themselves.

  That part of the conversation struck a chord with me in that we as people should be able to recognize the beauty in others regardless of gender or orientation without sexual desire or sexual preference coming into play.

            I am a heterosexual black woman and, as one panel member remarked, I am an erotic person by nature. I can see the eroticism in another female and not desire her in any way. I can recognize what makes her sexy and have no desire to possess her. I can also see the sexual prowess of a man and not want to go to bed with him. While nothing makes my panties buzz more than a man’s strong shoulders and a nice broad chest, I take pride in the fact that I can appreciate another woman’s beauty without feeling threatened and without feeling less sexy in my own right. I don’t think I am physically perfect, but I realize that there will always be someone taller, someone with a flatter stomach and longer hair.

             Once we can all view beautiful bodies of both genders without it defining our sexuality, we will come closer to understanding why we love who we love. 

            If only it were that simple. As curious children sneaking peaks at Dad’s girlie magazines and as teenagers practicing intimacy with each other, society teaches us to control our urges instead of being a slave to them. Then with adulthood comes the right to pursue those urges, even be consumed by them. Something that was meant to be so beautiful and pleasurable has become so perverted in the search for instant gratification. So much so, we can’t admire the sexual energy of others without calling our motives into question.

  The human body and its sexuality should be viewed like a piece of artwork. It should be admired, expressed and appreciated simply because it exists in its natural state. Sexuality which is as old as humanity itself holds only the connotation we assign to it. For some it’s pure ecstasy while others associate excruciating pain in its power to make one vulnerable.

            As long as we are obsessed with sex and its personification, happiness with our bodies and our sexuality will remain outside our comfort zone.


How to pay for your book dream

A Literary Diva needs money. If you’re looking for a way to fund your literary dream, then you’ve got to get creative. Sometimes (most times) it means putting your own money into the project. You can scrimp and save and squeeze money from your personal budget to pay for your book’s editing, design, printing, publicity, whatever you need. Other times it means leaning on friends and family for a few nickles and dimes. Still other times, you may come up with an idea to raise money for this project by selling something else, such as selling your consulting services and using the money you earn from that to pay for your book.

But you may have another option to fund your business — through business loans. In my interview with Bryant Moore, a former loan officer and now a minority business procurement specialist, you receive some suggestions for getting capital to move your book business forward. Check it out at and see what you need to do to make your loan application look good to the banker.

Your book dream doesn’t have to languish because you don’t have the money. There are many options, you just have to position yourself to be able to pursue them. That means saving for your book operation, raising money for it or securing loans. What are you doing to fund your book dream?