Dr. Joyce Brown
“As long as we remain vigilant at building our internal abundance—an abundance of integrity, an abundance of forgiveness, an abundance of service, an abundance of love—then external lack is bound to be temporary.”
― Marianne Williamson,
Leading up to the deadline for submitting this article, I couldn’t pull my jumbled thoughts together. Partly because there were so many moving parts to the story I wanted to share—about the richness that comes from turning words of encouragement, acts of kindness, and new experiences into actual lived experiences like meeting a new couple who moves in next door and she introduces you to the broader reality of college life beyond studying for a degree and introduces you to what belonging to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority can do to enhance your college experience and life going forward or spending ten days in Shiga, Japan, to gain a thorough understanding of the structural economic upheaval and employment changes in America.
The jumbled stories flowed into my adult experiences of pouring into others and then observing them soaring in their lives. For me, the key to abundant living has been to both be the recipient of intentional support that enriches while simultaneously extending that blessing to others. Typically, many of us measure abundance by material gains—financial wealth, political positions, personal influence. The emphasis is often on careers with the highest earning potential, public recognition, and lifestyles that provide one with the ability to influence public policy or direction. Rather than producing abundance, the American model reinforces scarcity and the hierarchical notion of community, economics, and leadership—the antithesis of abundance.
Each time we reach out to help someone else achieve their goals, we create an opportunity for our own self-growth. My biological family and fictive kinship relationships added rich texture and abundant blessings to mold and shape me throughout my life. Fictive kin are people, not related by blood or marriage, who come into our lives as teachers, clergy, forever friends: who teach and mold us in ways that add to our heritage’s richness and increase our opportunities. Both groups taught me to dig deeper for solutions and to persevere despite obstacles. They were the encouragers, the pushers, the cheerleaders, and sometimes the moral voices to insist on excellence in every pursuit of abundant life.
Because of their investments, I’ve learned to pay forward the encouragement, hope, purpose, and love of living beyond self. Each time we reach out to assist someone else, we create an opportunity for self-growth. These relationships influenced my career choices in community and family services, counseling, and, finally, research. Rather than focusing on deficits and deficiencies, I searched for the strengths. I served as director on numerous community boards, pushing to change policy and procedures that benefited low- and moderate-income individuals/families. I served as a public school trustee for five years, challenging policies that scapegoated children of color.
Over the years, I’ve stayed connected to like-minded people who see the benefits of building community leaders, servant leaders, and innovators who believe in MORE for everyone—infinite possibilities instead of scarcity and lack. They see the benefits of building and expanding the next generation of problem solvers and public servants.
Because of the multiple positive influences, guidance, and motivation, young adults live productive lives with more options, diverse choices, and a positive outlook. When I receive notes (they used to be handwritten.. now they are emails or Facebook postings) sharing their current statuses, I feel blessed. Embedded in the note will be a “thank you”… for supporting me during a difficult time in my life…for giving me a soft-landing during changes in employment…for forcing me to confront and say NO to my negative behavior…for forcing me to complete my doctoral studies, etc.
The nudge to crystalize my musings finally came. A young professional reached out to thank me for the times I spent listening, offering suggestions, and eventually insisting that she resign from her job (in Alaska and move in with me while completing the final dissertation research.
Ten years ago, she received her Ph.D. from Western Michigan University, and she credited me with helping her navigate the process. As she transitioned to researcher/practitioner/educator, we’ve stayed in contact. She’s now receiving coveted awards because of her diligence in advocating for community-based health programs and policies that improve the quality of life for individuals and families.
My life has been enriched by others. I’m delighted to be able to share out of the abundance of my life.
– Joyce A. Brown
Joyce Brown is a motivational speaker and author who uses her creative energy to give voice and meaning to the challenges women face in all walks of life. She grew up in Rockford, Illinois in a household of strong women. She graduated from Bradley University with a B.S. and M.A. Her professional career expanded her reach into Peoria, Illinois; and Battle Creek, Michigan. Joyce obtained a Ph.D. from Western Michigan University.
She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and has served as a direct services worker, executive director, program director for a major foundation, and an entrepreneur. Joyce has experienced many uplifting moments as a professional and as a dedicated parent and strives to bring those events and lessons to life through her characters in contemporary fiction novels she pens.