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A R T I C L E S* &* S P E E C H E S

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. To order the CD of this speech or to purchase other CDs from this event, please click here.

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 spiritóthat canít, it canít die ...This is about the spirit of you. When youíre walking, when youíre talking, when youíre loving, when youíre just being who you are, because you canít help yourself. Youíre just so powerful, so beautiful, so magnificent.

This is about you.

Itís about you.

Itís about your power.

Itís about your mystery.

Itís about your glory, your divinity.

Itís about that mysterious thing they call woman.

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

This is about who youíve been.

This is about who youíre 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.

Itís about you working.

Itís about you loving.

Itís about you growing.

Itís about you crying.

Itís about you healing.

Itís about you touching.

Itís about you speaking.

Itís about you thinking.

Itís about you loving.

Oh, itís about you, woman.

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

This is about you.

Itís about where weíre going.

Itís about where weíve been.

Itís about what we need.

And itís about the s--- we ainít goiní 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 donít 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 letís see who we have in the house tonight.

New York, youíre 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 ...Donít 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?

Youíre not real excited about that.

Who else?

Good. Whoever you are...Whatever you said. Go give them some of that love. Itís an honoróVirginia. Iím sorry. Thatís where my mother is from.


Is Chicago in the house?



New Jersey.

Whatís going on in JerseyóI guess nothing because half of the women are here.

Ok, who else have we got?

Idaho? Idaho?

Who in the worldóstand up. I want to see what you look like...Oh, my God. Idaho. Two people. Alrighty, then. Iíd 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. Thatís 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 donít 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. Isnít 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 fromóall right...

See what happened! A control freak right there.

Yes. Where ever we come fromó


Okay. They just wanted toóletís just go on and do attendance.

All right. Anybody else?





Now, wait a minute. Iím getting a psychic premonition. Do yíall 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? Iím not talking to you people anymore. If youíre a woman ready to stand in your power, just stand up.

Now, that needs an applause.

So weíre 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. Donít just be turning your head there. Everybody look to the right. Look at somebody. Because everybody doesnít know everybody else, do they? No. Thatís 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. Heís all right. Heís just an angel in drag. Go on. Hold his hand. Angel in drag, thatís right. Just hold his hand. Thatís 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 thatís 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 silentlyósilentlyóand 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 silenceóin silenceóbecause one of a womanís greatest powers is her silence. Itís then when she can be creative. Itís then when the life force begins to move through her body.

I want you to look at her sister in the faceómake 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 youíre praying for.

Donít have a whole conversation now.

Just let her know what youíre 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 itís 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 thatís 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 lifeóshe may be your sister or a sisterís 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 sheís 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 donít 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 letís 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 youíre my sister, Iím going to hug you right now.

Hug your sister.

Because if we donít get hugged, we get ugly.

And just because we can, letís have a seat. Thereís one for everybody. And just because it feels good, letís give ourselves a hand.

Doesnít that, didnít that feel good?

We, you cannot believe a place like this, with people like thisólet me put these here so you can see them because you know itís all about the shoes.

But I also know that itís a sacred time and itís always good when itís 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.

Iím so excited. Iím excited about myself, so you know Iíve got to be excited about you. And, itís about you.

This is about you. This is about you. So very often we come to conferences and workshopsónot you. I know you donít do this.

Itís those people you work with. We come to conferences and we get information and we sit. Yes. Thatís so interesting. Thatís so nice. And we donít take it home and apply it until today.

Because this is about you.

Itís 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.

Itís about your mind.

Itís about your heart.

Itís about your spirit.

Itís about your life.

Itís about your voice.

It is about your voice.

This is about you.

Please understand this is about me.

This is about me. Iím just talking to you because you showed up.

But this is about me.

Itís about you and itís about me.

Itís about women.

This is about women.

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

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

But we know that.

Iím not saying that as a political ploy, as a political motivation for us.

Iím talking about really standing up and start cleaning the crap up in our lives because we canít clear up the world, ladies, until we start clearing it up in our lives. Okay?

This is about you.

This is about you.

Itís about theólet me be nice. Donít put yourself ugly with me. Okay?If you hear me say something that you know applies to you, just raise your hand.

Donít look left or right, though.

Because angels donít 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 canít heal the planet when we canít master a sink full of dirty dishes ladies.

This is about you.

Itís about me, but itís 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 colorsówe 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 toó

Just checking.

Donít leave me hanging out there by myself now. And donít you look left or right now. Angels donít have issues.

Just being niceódonít you just sometime want to cuss somebody out?

But thatís not nice.

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

Weíve given our voice to the nice girlóthatís not nice.

Donít say that. Thatís not nice. Donít say that.

And then we get confused between nice and spiritual.

Spiritual people, you know, they try to be very...Oh, thatís not loving. Oh, Iím going to forgive you.

Itís an out growth of the nice girl syndrome.

Remember, Jesus kicked the table over. You understand?

We got to remember that.

Just because weíre spiritual, just because weíre on a spiritual path and just because weíre womenónot just because, I wanna say, because we are on a spiritual path, because we are on a healing path, and because we are women doesnít 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 donít take no mess.

Weíve 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 donít have clear boundaries, when we donít speak our

boundariesódo yaíll 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. Couldnít 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 donít 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 donít think so!

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

Because when we donít 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 donít have a strong no, we cannot haveówhen we donít 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 wonít do because weíre not committed to them.

Use your voice to create your boundaries. Draw your line in the sand and if someone crosses it, donít 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 donít have powerówhen you donít 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?

Donít lie now. Raise your hand.


Why is the drama in your life?

Thereís lots of theaters.

If thereís drama, itís because we allow it.

Many of usówill all the drama queens stand up.

Donít be a shamed. Donít be a shamed.

Stay standing. Stay standing.

Donít look to the left or the right.

Thatís why people wonít 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.

Iím going to over correct here. That means Iím going to say harshly if I upset you, Iíll clean it up later. Thatís a good practice.

Over correct.

Youíre not living your purpose. Youíre not doing what you know you need to be doing. And when we donít know what we know we need to do, we create drama to keep ourselves from being bored. Youíre 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 queenís not raising their hands because they want to be cute drama queens. Drama queens, get on purpose.Get on purpose.

Do what you wantóthereís something in here; right?

Are you doing it?


Are you almost pregnant?

Get on purpose, drama queens.

Stop creating drama because youíre bored.

Be willing to upset people.

Be willing to piss somebody off.


Now, you could do it nicely.

Thereís 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 thisÖ


Let me hear all the drama queens together. Let me hear youÖgive them some loveÖ

Because----we donít want to use our voice to offend. We donít 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.

Donít just keep repeating yourself add infinitum. Let people know Iím gonna say this again, and if blah-blah doesnít happen, this is what will be the result.

See, one of the reasons people behave inappropriate in our lives is because thereís no consequences for bad behavior. Hello! If you donít 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 voiceóso many of us have a beautiful song. Your life is a song. Did you know that?

And the way you singósome of us sing off key.

Thatís all right.

Some of us sing loud. Thatís okay.

Some of us, some of us, wellóI want to say canít sing, but thatís not true.

All of us can sing. Some of us just donít sound good.

Thatís 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, donít be afraid to out sing someone else. So many of us wonít stand in the fullness of our voice because we donít want to out sing someone else. We donít 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 wonít 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 youíve 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 donít ask for what you want, you canít complain when you donít get it.

Donít 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 goodóif you have good conversations with yourselfó

I have absolute dialogues.

Sometimes debates.

And Iíve developed multiple voices.

What do you mean?

What do you think I mean?

Who you talking to?

Iím talking to you.

Develop multiple voices so it doesnít become monotone, because youíll get bored with that and then you wonít listen.

But most of all when youíre speaking to yourself, ladies, speak the truth.

Donít lie to yourself.

Sometimes you just may have to omit a little information when youíre speaking to other people. Iím notóI mean Iím not advocating that.But when youíre speaking to you, speak the truth.

Stop saying youíre going to get in that size five.

Youíre not. Throw it away!

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

Let me tell you this.

As long as thereís a size bigger than the one Iím wearing, Iím okay.You understand? Theyíve got plenty of sizes above 12. Iím not going to keep telling myself Iím a ten, or an eight. I just tell you Iím 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 donít tell ourselves the truth. We donít speak the truth into our spirits. And then we canít understand why thereís 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 donít 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, everybodyís got a story.

Donít make up stories.

Tell a real story.

Because some peopleónot youóbut those people you work with, they have a tendency to add characters and situations that didnít really occur to make the story even more dramatic.

Donít be ashamed. Donít look left or right now.

Tell the truth of your story.

The core of your story.

Because in telling your story, youíre going to learn how much youíve grown.

Oh, we grow.

We grow through adversity and difficulty. We grow through the celebration of our victories. And sometimes because we donít 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 stoppingówithout stopping to celebrate the victory. I didnít use my own voice to celebrate myself. When I looked upówhen 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 itís about the beauty of your voice.

Itís about the beauty of your life. Itís about the power of your voice and the power of your life.

This is about you.

And itís 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)

Iím 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 donít have things that fall down.

They donít have things to play with like we do.

Iím so grateful.

And Iím so grateful because the way my mind works as a womanóthis is a miraculous thing, I figured out that the reason we have babies is because men donít know how to utilize space.

A man could never get a big old baby in there. He couldnít do that.

Our minds are simply incredible.

But all too often we waste them.

Re-running tapes that donít serve us.

Re-running beliefs that donít honor us.

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

Monday is my birthday.

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

Iím participating in the first daytime reality show called Starting Over.

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

So check your local listings.

Thatís my commercial. Monday. It is my intentionóit 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 thatís because of the way I think about women.I am committed to the universal healing of women.

Iím committed to women healing their bodies, healing their hearts, and women healing their mind.

Iím committed to that.

Because our minds are so powerful.

I want to encourage youóI 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 canít tell you how to do it. Iím not going to tell you to rub no crystals on your head, stand on 1 toe, do a yogaóI canít tell ya none of that. Iíll 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 thatís on that.

This is about your mind.

Itís about the minds of women coming together.

Itís 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.

Thereís 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 playingÖ)

Your mindÖok, 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 Iím not talking spirituality. Iím talking spirit. Iím 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 weíre not supposed to struggle.

Donít look now, donít 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 donít 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, itís about our growth. Itís 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 Iím 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 donít help me, thatís when I go to spirit.

Thatís when I get still.

Thatís when it gets deep.

Thatís when I get naked before the God of my understanding and say Help me because Iím weak.

Help me because I donít know.

Help me because Iím not as cute, as smart, as powerful as I think I am in this moment. Itís 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. Donít be afraid to say you donít know.

Because, when you say you donít know, your spirit will tell you what you need to know.

Donít be afraid to say you canít.

Because when you say you canít, spirit can.

Donít 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 itís 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. Weíre 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 donít 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 donít have the courage to ask. This is about you.

And thereís 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 donít touch that or tap into it, be present to that spirit, youíre out there on your own. And that could be a hazard to your health.

(MusicÖ) Your spirit.

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

I love a sale.

I donít care whatís on sale.

If it say sale, I have to be here.

It could be something and Iíd miss it.

I love a sale. Donít be shamed. Donít be shamed.

So I was reading in the paperóthis was a year agoóI was reading in the paper that LensCrafters had a sale. I tell you, I donít 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 thereís 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 grandsonís eyes.I hadnít had an eye exam since they did those ďEísĒ, 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 blueóit was so quite exciting and then you go from that office to the other office and youóthey say Iím 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 donít even tell you itís comingó so now you canít see maybe you donít have glaucoma, but you have powder in your eye to let them know you donít have it. Oh, it was quite exciting.

So Dr. Apple, she was the eye doctoróisnít that great, apple for the eyeóshe gave my grandson his glasses and then she said to me Ms. Vanzant, where are your glasses?

I said I donít wear no glasses.

She said you donít?

I said absolutely not. No, I donít.

She said you donít wear glasses for reading?


Well, that wasnít 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 donít have reading glasses?

I said I donít 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 didnít 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 donít know, you know I donít know. This is the first time Iíve seen you. What am I supposed to say to you?

The reason I didnít 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 canít 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 whatís 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 isnít open, joyful, loving, peaceful, then it means you canít really see.

This is about you.

This is about you.

It doesnít matter what they did.

If itís causing an upset in your life, itís about you.

It doesnít matter what they said.

If youíre still talking about it, itís about you.

It doesnít matter whether they sent the check or didnít send the check.

It donít matter that Booboo left you or Fifi ainít coming back.

If youíre 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 youíre not doing that, itís about you. Itís not about Booboo.

Itís not about Fifi.

It ainít even about Bush bless his pointed head.

Itís 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 weíve got to do so much.

But thereís 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 understandingóIím not teaching you religion.

If treeís rocked bushes, if that turns you on, if you like it, I love itóbut 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 womanís work.

A womanís work is to dance.

You know, you can dance yourself through anythingóyou wanna leave me Booboo, go on, get out...

Oh, yes.

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

Most of all, we have to learn the power of ďTADAĒ.

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 wasnít 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 didnít have it going on? Well ... a womanís 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. Donít hurt yourself now. If it feels good to youóthatís right, Mama, work it out.

See, a woman can do anything. Just work it out. Now, if you really wantómen, and thatís all right. Men, you too. We appreciate you.

Get up men, címon get up.

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

Just sway and sway and say TADA, TADA.

TADAóweíre coming up, weíre 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 itóyes. Now, remember, youíve prayed for somebody today; right?

So that means thereís 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. Címon. 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 womanís 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, TADAÖyou ainít 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

Gloria Steinem 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.

Omega Institute is the nation's largest holistic education provider, highly regarded for its pioneering work in holistic health, meditation, yoga, transformational psychology, bodywork, spirituality, world music, and art. Founded in 1977, Omega fulfills its mission to provide learning environments that awaken the best in the human spirit through its broad-based curriculum and unique community spirit. www.eomega.org

V-Day, an international movement, distributes funds to grassroots, national, and international organizations that work to end violence against women and girls. In its first seven years, the V-Day movement has raised more than $25 million. Recent events include Confronting Violence, a conference of South Asian women leaders in India; the 2004 International March on Juarez, Mexico, with Amnesty International, to honor the missing and murdered women; the documentary Until The Violence Stops; V-Day delegation trips to Israel, Palestine, Egypt, and Jordan; the Afghan Women's Summit; the Stop Rape Contest; and the Indian Country Project; as well as the ongoing presentation by local activists and college students of V-Day benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues. In February March 2004, more than 2,300 V-Day benefits took place in 1100 communities around the world. www.vday.org