I had an amazing childhood mainly because of the relationship my sister and I had and still have. My sister is my best friend, consultant, and confidant. We were taught to do all things together. We were taught to stick together and always have each other’s back no matter what. Everyone thought of us as twins because of our names and also because we do resemble each other quite a bit. But, it was through this relationship I learned love, commitment, determination, loyalty, character, and integrity. I must also include that I learned how to love myself but love someone greater than I even loved myself.
My mother taught me that I should always be honest and tell the truth no matter what. She would say, “Even if it is your mother you always tell the truth.” She taught me what it meant to endure and if you want something you will have to work for it. She taught me that everything doesn’t come easy, but perseverance would always prevail.
I remember when my mother and father were going through a divorce she was determined to provide for her two daughters. She knew that it was up to her to make sure that we were healthy and well. My mother who was a school teacher would go to school and teach every day, but also would work after school for the after school programs for other children to make extra money. I also remember that my mother would play the piano at different churches on Sunday morning to also receive extra money. My mother was a piano player and singer. She taught my sister and I both how to sing and put us both in piano lessons so that we could learn how to play the piano. However, I saw my mother struggling to pay for the piano lessons and I opted out of taking them. My sister continued because her love for music was much greater than mine.
We were not wealthy nor did we have much money, but we were loved and cared for purposefully and passionately. We were my mother’s world. She took us everywhere she went and there was no place that she went that we couldn’t go. My mother made sure that we were safe and secure. We never had to worry about her bringing men around or her having a boyfriend to compensate for things that were needed. She remained vigilant as a women of character, morals, and ethics. She gave us a great example of how a lady should be and function regardless of what they were going through.
I remember my mother would buy material and make her skirts because it was cheaper. Her goal was to always have enough to feed us and take care of us. Her main lesson that she taught us was the gift of learning and education. She was a masterful educator until she retired after 43 years of service.
My father taught me the importance of your word. When you say something make sure that you follow through on your word. He would always say that your word is your currency. He would always say people will listen to you when they know your word is your bond of truth.
He taught me to not take any wooden nickels and to make sure that I never settle for anything. Earlier in life I didn’t have much respect for my father because as a child I saw and heard things that he did to my mother that I didn’t like or appreciate. He was the one who defiled the marriage by infidelity. I am just now in my latter years of life being able to truly embrace and love my father unconditionally. At some point in life we have to accept people exactly where they are, set our boundaries, and love them anyway.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been throughout life and up until recently, wanting to please everybody without having to say no. I hated confrontation with a passion. So, standing up for myself was a great challenge. I would rather just not say anything and go along with it just to get it over with for the sake of peace. However, I had an awakening. I realized that I had spent most of my life pleasing other people, whether it is family, friends, bosses, mentors, colleagues, acquaintances, church members, mother, father, etc. So, I stopped!!! I decided to do all of the things that I desired to do no matter who didn’t like it. It felt so good! I decided that if I am going to be uncomfortable in life it should be because I am going after everything that I want and desire out of MY life. I overcame it because I didn’t have enough time in a day, week, month, year to do the things that I wanted to do. I wasted most of my time catering and pleasing others. I also realized that I was frustrated and agitated all the time. It was because I was living life daily for everyone else but myself.
I started being honest with myself. When someone would ask me to do something, I would then take time to ask myself, “Do you want to do it?” “Do you desire to be a part of it?” “Do you have the energy, time, and capacity to take this on?” If my answer was honestly no, then I didn’t do it. I also begin to assess whether or not it was even something that would benefit my growth, development, purpose, mission, goals, vision and overall well-being. Because sometimes it can be a good thing but not a divine thing. I got to a point where I needed every word, action, behavior, deed, and thought to count for something towards enhancing my life. I didn’t want to experience depletion but fulfillment.
What does breaking barriers look like to you?
Breaking barriers to me looks like, as a female leader, doing all of the things that said I couldn’t or shouldn’t do regardless of constraints, bias, prejudice, discrimination, small mindedness of society, tradition, and culture. It is being the authentic, unique, version of yourself without facades, masks, or cover ups. The greatest barriers that we have to break as women are the dysfunctional cycles that we have been taught. We have been taught to be who they say we should be, do what they say we should do, wear what they say wear. Society, tradition, and culture has given us the things that we should do and the things that we should not do. Breaking barriers means we tear up their list and all of the lists that we have been given AND MAKE OUR OWN!!!!!
Our great barriers are insecurity, intimidation, inadequacy, irrelevance, voiceless, condemnation, etc. We must realize that the only way those things can take root is if we allow them to. The greatest barrier is realizing that we don’t have to accept anything unless we want to.
I remember when I first started my Female Civility Initiative one of my male mentors told me that Men would always run the world. I thought to myself he must be blind and he surely is dumb. Regardless of what it may appear to be, women have been running this world forever. We are the ones that give birth, structure a household, undergird visions, and have a keen sense of insight and intuition. Likewise, he is no longer my mentor because that say’s several things that are a detriment to my existence. Breaking barriers is not being dominated or contained by ill perceptions or sterilized beliefs.
Based on your vast experience, what is the biggest challenge with global female empowerment and leadership?
The biggest challenge with global female empowerment and leadership, in my opinion, is that we lack balance. We are not trying to take over the world or diminish the need of male existence, but we are saying we will be included. Women must realize that we don’t need empowerment, WE ALREADY HAVE THE POWER! We don’t need man to give us a position we were created in position. It is our attitude and intentions of why we feel the need to empower females. Our mindset and behaviors should be regardless of the stereotypes, categories, limits, and boxes I am who I am and I am going to be who I am without hesitation.
Additionally, another area that is a big challenge is when we as females constantly compete with each other. We say it is collaboration when in reality we are trying to figure out a way to take some other females vision and turn it into our own. Rather than using our own brilliant and unique creativity to author what we were purposed and created to do. This is why we see so many empowerment movements for women with the same agenda because we take something of someone else and we think we can do it better. Wrong motive and intent. Likewise, it stifles the growth of the lazy individual, confuses the masses, and causes chaos amongst the mission of change. At some point we must be accountable and lead our own lives to where we are intentionally pursuing our own unique and authentic purpose by design. You are not a leader of empowerment or in power if you are unable to engage in your creative ability within yourself in order to produce a substantial vision that is unique to your life.
What has been the highlight in your journey so far?
The highlight of my journey has been self-discovery and watching myself grow, develop, and bloom into this amazing miracle that I thought I would never see. The highlight of my journey has been removing fear, taking a leap, and never looking back. The highlight in my journey has been the process that leads me to the destination because I had to come face to face with me. I had to learn, like, love and sometimes laugh at me.
Another highlight in my journey is being TRUE TO THYSELF. I have learned to protect me, guard me, and secure my life that is a treasure to not only myself but to others. There is a whole nation of assigned females that are attached to my life and reaching them is definitely a highlight of my journey.
What’s your why?
My why is the constant need for change and offer the world a new narrative. My why is to make certain that I am not a complainer but I am a change maker. I want change in the world, change for the better. So, I am the change I want to see. My why is to right the wrongs, bring justice to the injustices, peace to chaos, clarity to the confused, and love in place of hatred, mercy in place of condemnation and grace in place of guilt. My why is “I want the world to experience and know love.”
I believe that each generation has the duty and authority to make the path better, brighter, and greater for the next generation to follow. I want to be that example that they can see. I want to be that blue print that that can build upon. I want to be that fingerprint that helps them find their identify.
I want the next generation of females to feel loved, appreciated, accepted, and celebrated. I don’t want them to feel lost, abandoned, or existing with no clue of who they are or what they should be doing. I want to be that launching pad, vehicle or tool that they can rely on right now.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by God. I know that may seem unrealistic or deep for some, but for my life it is my truth. I am inspired that I wake up with breath in my body, the motion of my arms, legs, fingers, toes, etc. I am inspired by being in my right mind and the ability to keep growing and learning through the lessons of life. I am inspired that God created me as a unique vessel that has a small part to play on earth that will impact the lives of females worldwide. My greatest inspiration is knowing that God trusts me enough to say, do, create, implement, and activate something that will ultimately change lives. For me that is the most powerful inspiration of all.
What is the most fun thing you have ever done?
The most fun thing I have ever done is wait late in the morning hours just before the new day on Christmas eve and call everyone in the family while singing, playing the toy piano, and tambourine. The reactions from friends and family were priceless. Some hung up the phone. Some thought they were dreaming. Some thought they were having a nightmare. Some started singing along in their sleep. But the most important part to it all is most never even remember the experience the next day. (I am laughing now just thinking about it…lol)
One thing on your bucket list is…
To write, enact, input, create, establish, and interject a policy that will forever change the trajectory of females forever.
What do women’s voices mean to you?
Women’s voices are a sacred substance of sensitivity. Our voices are agents of a balanced calming vibration that the world neglects but so desperately needs. Our voices are sacred because they hold elements that produce and nurture growth, keys that unlock and expand intellect, treasures that increase value and worth. Women’s voices are the trajectory that has the capacity to enhance society, tradition, and culture dimensionally. Although women’s voices are not always appreciated, valued, or heard due to various biases, prejudice, and discriminatory reasons, previously, it did not, and currently, it does not ever diminish the power of our voices. It caused our voices to become sensitive to the needed changes in the challenges we face worldwide. However, as women, we must realize, accept, and deploy our unique voices without reservations. The problem that I see with women’s voices is that we continue to try and sound like someone else, or we try to follow a pattern of what we think others want to hear. As women, we do ourselves an injustice by not speaking our thoughts, perspectives, and perceptions with brilliance and intellect. We are more than capable of engaging in most conversations at every table and can offer great value regarding every topic. I believe that women’s voices are an intricate detail and vital piece to the world individually and collectively. Our voices represent our identities individually and collectively. Women’s voices are powerfully phenomenal and phenomenally powerful, to the point that we are afraid of our voices, and so are they.
What legacy do you want to leave behind?
I want to leave a legacy that when people (family, friends, coworkers, mentors, females, little girls) think of me they smile and feel a sense of love, substance, depth, fortitude, solidarity and wholeness. I want to leave a legacy where people will know that I loved God with all of my heart and considers me one of his angels that was sent to hug and kiss their lives.
I want my sister to know that I was the best friend and best support system she ever had!
Professor Ona C. Miller
Professor Ona C. Miller is a Global Educator and Founder of Female Civility Initiative™ that has various subsidiaries to include The Global Female Civility Leadership Institute™, The Global Library of Female Authors™, The Global Female Publishing Group™, Little AMAZONS™ and National Female Civility Day that was established in 2019.
Professor Ona is on a mission to break all barriers and build sustainable bridges, while leaving no female behind. Her mission is to make sure that all females worldwide know and experience mental, physical, emotional, psychological, societal, cultural and traditional liberty.
Tell us about your early life experiences.