As I work on making changes in my own life, coincidentally they seem to coincide with lessons the Starting Over women are learning. Last year I learned to trust, right along with Andy, and worked on my relationship with my son alongside Lynnell and Hailey. This year I am learning to forgive along with Towanda and Jennifer.
Josie is calling yet another expert, the image consultant, to apologize for acting inappropriately when they had met before. Rhonda has gotten Josie to realize she was rude to the people that were only trying to help her. The image consultant tells her it takes a lot of courage for her to make this call. Josie adds that she had realized that the image consultant was there to boost her confidence, and all Josie did was think the opposite, and then shut down. The image consultant ends the conversation by telling Josie that she’s a good human being, and she should believe that other people care and want to help, and accept it gracefully.
Towanda and Kim are talking, and Towanda is upset with Iyanla … again. She is still upset about being placed on probation with a C at the last Board of Review, and is unhappy again with the way Iyanla talks to her. She tells Kim that there is something about the way Iyanla talks to her that reminds her of her mom. Kim asks her if she has told Iyanla that, and Towanda says she has. Kim helps her draft up what she wants to tell Iyanla the next time.
Rhonda arrives for group, and announces today they are going to discuss the difference between criticism and constructive feedback. Josie says criticism is negative; constructive feedback is positive. Rhonda acknowledges that that’s a big step for Josie to be able to see that difference now. Sommer says criticism is someone pointing your problems out, and with feedback they are offering you options to solve the problems. Jennifer disagrees, as she would rather have criticism than feedback. Rhonda shows how they all have different opinion on the subject, and that is where people would begin to disagree. The first person to come to Towanda’s mind in this discussion is Iyanla. After this thought, Towanda says it is the tone that makes the difference for her. Rhonda tells them the key is to know how to communicate with people so your intentions aren’t misunderstood. Lastly, she tells them there is a Board of Review that night, and that someone may leave, someone may graduate, and someone may not be pleased with their grade.
Rhonda meets with Josie immediately after, and Rhonda asks what she learned about herself after apologizing to the experts. Josie learned she wasn’t as open as she could have been, and she listened until she heard one thing she didn’t like, and then would shut down. Rhonda tells her that today’s assignment will be to meet with another expert, a professional reporter. Josie is to learn how to properly interview someone through his advice. She will learn how to ask thought-provoking questions. Later, with her newly-learned skills, she will interview three different babysitters for Chloe.
Josie meets with the reporter. She discusses the problems she has had meeting the experts. She wants to know what you do when the other person says something you disagree with. The reporter says this is the best springboard for a debate. An opposing view isn’t wrong or bad, just different. He tells her the key is to listen and ask questions based on what you hear. Josie says she has an abrasive tone “that bites me in the butt.” The reporter says that it is good that she is at least aware of it.
Towanda calls Iyanla and asks to meet with her one-on-one. In the meantime she waits in the kitchen with Sinae and Kim, and they are discussing who they think might graduate or be asked to leave. Kim thinks Sinae might graduate, and Sinae thinks Towanda might be asked to leave.
Josie meets with the first of the three sitters. She has decided to put the three sitters in three different situations, but ask the same questions of all. She asks this sitter to just sit on the floor and play with Chloe. Josie asks what her worst babysitting experience is, and she doesn’t have one, but if forced to come up with one, she would say a broken arm, although points out that it has never happened to any of her charges.
Towanda and Iyanla finally meet, and Towanda says she has a few issues, and that she is confused. Asked to define confused, she says she is mixed up. Iyanla explains that confusion means you have gotten to the end of all the information, and it usually means a breakthrough. This is why they make intentions, to clear confusion. Towanda tells her she can’t hear the intention because she’s too frightened of Iyanla’s tone. She feels there is no compassion there, but she needs to communicate in order to grow. She asks how Towanda hears her when she’s speaking, and Towanda tells her it reminds her of her mother.
The second sitter arrives, and Josie asks her to feed Chloe. I can’t help but notice all day how Josie has her hair pulled back like the image consultant had suggested. Josie is finally listening today. While the sitter is feeding Chloe, she is asked what her worst experience was as a sitter, and she claims to not have had any. Josie thinks it’s not likely that neither of those two sitters ever had a bad experience.
Sinae is reading Jennifer and Kim her off-campus housing request letter. Normally they don’t allow someone as young as her to live off-campus unless with a parent, but she is asking for an exception due to her having a disability, and having different needs. Everyone feels Sinae will be graduating tonight; they know she is ready for her independence.
Towanda says she feels like four years old again, and that her mom is speaking to her when Iyanla talks to her. Iyanla asks what she heard back then wearing her little dress, ruffled panties, and patent leather shoes. Towanda says she hears her mom saying, “Wrong note,” and that she has a squint in her eye that lets you know you’re in trouble. She hears her mom saying, “You know that note. Stop acting like you don’t know the song.” Iyanla herself repeats it, and asks what she did then Towanda says she never made that mistake again. Iyanla tells her to tell her mom now what she wants to tell her. Towanda says, “I’m just a little girl trying to grow up. Let me be Towanda. Let me be who I want to be.”
Josie meets with the third sitter and has her give Chloe a bath. Asked what her worst babysitting experience was, she has an immediate response. A couple choking incidents. Having been through that with Chloe, Josie knows how she feels. The sitter explains the baby choked, she put her over on her stomach, gave her a little thump, and the food came flying out across the room. She immediately called the mother afterwards. Josie thought it was great she called the mom, as she never would have even known about it, had she not told her. Josie feels immediately more comfortable, and this will be her choice of the three sitters.
Kim and Jennifer are in the bathroom getting ready for the Board of Review. Jennifer thinks she is going up and has been sick to her stomach all day. Kim says she knows Jennifer is nervous as she’s been very clingy all day. Towanda is doing Sinae’s makeup to get ready for Board of Review. All of the women are clearly tense. A nice touch is that Towanda is wearing the Tiffany necklace Kim gave her yesterday.
Josie is asked to go up for review first, and is shocked it is her. Asked what she is doing well, she says, “Honestly? Nothing up until two days ago. I was being a stubborn brat.” She believes she now has better awareness and compassion, and that she is learning to see the gray. She feels she deserved a C then, but expects a B now.
Josie’s roommates are asked to give her feedback, and Jennifer is up first. She knows Josie has a hard time accepting constructive criticism, so she’s afraid. She finallly says Josie’s tone can be offensive, and Josie simply agrees. Kim says Josie’s anger is sometimes blunt. Towanda tells Josie, “You feel you can say whatever you want, but when someone else does, you snap.” Again Josie concurs.
Iyanla tells Josie the joy is in the journey, not the results. Feel the joy along the way. She needs to stop wearing her wounds; they’re no longer attractive. Asked if she should stay or go, Sinae thinks if she wants to stay she should, but if she intends to plateau, just leave. Everyone else feels she should stay, with Towanda saying she wishes everyone could see Josie like she does at night during the calm of everything. Rhonda tells her no one wants to feel like they have to walk on eggshells around her. She tells her “You have been living a paradox to not put yourself first; you actually were, as they had to adjust to you. True power is from vulnerability and courage.” Two days ago she would have given her a C, but because she worked hard today, she gets a B. Towanda is angry, feeling it’s undeserved, and thinking she worked harder and only got a C.
Next up is Jennifer. Asked what she is doing well, she says she is much more open to love and trust. Towanda tells her she has a problem releasing her anger. Josie says, “You’re willing to love me, put love out, and become vulnerable. When you question my love for myself because you love me … none of my other friends would do that for me.”
Jennifer says she wants to love unconditionally, without being afraid of getting hurt. She wants to be free of all the crap she’s been carrying around. All say they want her to stay with Kim saying she wants Jennifer to know what it’s like to know and receive love. Iyanla tells Jennifer she fought her every step of the way and complained. She acknowledged and appreciated the work, but she wasn’t always present. Jennifer gets a B-.
Sinae is the last up, and when asked what she’s doing well, she says her assignments. She’s always been excited to get them. Josie tells her she sees a difference in her with Sinae now accepting what God has given her. Kim adds she has the courage to be eighteen, and be an “animal.” She notices a huge change in Sinae’s independence. Towanda says she has seen her accept her fate with maturity. Rhonda says to be able to admit at eighteen that she wants to start over, even Rhonda herself wasn’t that strong at eighteen. She has seen Sinae grow from not wanting to go out to being the instigator in going out. “You are fearless. Your grade? Congratulations, you’re graduating, Sinae.”
Everyone is crying and happy for Sinae, or NaeNae as Kim has been calling her. Towanda is happy for Sinae, but just can’t get past Josie’s B which she still feels is undeserved. Towanda thinks everyone is as upset as her about it. That right there shows why Towanda got the C, but she can’t see it.
Despite usually working on the same things, I have learned something Towanda hasn’t. You can’t compare yourself to other people. Each one is different, and in Starting Over they all have different goals. Josie gets it now; this is why she earned a B. Towanda still doesn’t get it. Live for yourself, Towanda; no one else will.