We talked to Foster, a lesbian, before her reading about the book and the lessons she learned while writing it — and how those lessons can help others become who they are supposed to be.
How did you come up with the title and narrow it down to eight lessons?
The title “The Grown Woman’s Guide to Greatness” was divinely sent to me and I was spiritually instructed to include only eight lessons. The book emphasizes that greatness is not about material gain or attaining riches but about fulfilling our destiny. Ironically, the lessons were not written in order. In fact I actually wrote chapter three first, then five, then two, and so on and so forth. There were times that I would try to write a lesson but the words just would not come. I began to realize that I couldn’t write that particular lesson because I had not gone through it yet. I actually wrote the introduction to the book last because it was revealed to me then what the whole process and this book were actually about. The whole experience has been very divine.
What exactly do you mean when you say “grown”?
Ever since I was three years old, I wanted to be “grown.” I thought by putting on my mother’s clothes, makeup and high heels that automatically made me grown. What I find is that many of us still have this mentality. We believe that once we turn 21, 25, or 30 years old, buy cars, pay bills, get degrees and buy homes, then we have magically earned the right to call ourselves “grown.”
But my personal definition of “grown” goes beyond age, income and education. Writing this book has made me understand that being grown means acknowledging that you were created for a purpose and accepting your calling in life. It also means serving others with your gift, rising above mediocrity, and fully standing on God’s word and promise.
At the start of writing this book, I made a covenant with God that I would complete this divine assignment that I was given, no matter what. Within days of making this agreement, I lost my job as a school counselor after eight years, my relationship of four years ended, and I had no idea how my mortgage or other bills were going to be paid. I didn’t let any of this stop me because I believed that a way was being created simply because I had decided to be obedient to the call. Whereas many people would have allowed fear and panic to set in, I knew I was being set up for something extraordinary and for the first time in my life I knew what peace and living fearlessly felt like. I have always known that my testimony would be used to inspire other women to move into their destiny. I didn’t know that God would make me lead by example, but I am glad it worked out this way.
You were on “Oprah!” What was that like?
First of all, I have been #TeamOprah since the 80s and have never stopped being a fan and student of hers. In 2001, right after graduate school, I had the opportunity to be a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show. The show was titled “The Turbulent 20s” and discussed the strife of going through the quarter life crisis. Myself and about 10 other young women got the chance to talk about the struggles and angst of graduating college and not knowing what we were supposed to do with ourselves.
After the show we got a chance to talk intimately with Oprah about how to find our purpose and discover our destiny. She said, “The problem with your generation is you all are not connected to the source and once you get connected to the source all of the questions you have will be answered.” It took 11 years for those words to make sense to me, but in the process of writing this book I got a major “aha” moment. I realized that Oprah had given us the “what to do” and this book is the “how to” guide to achieving that connection to the source.
God and spirituality play a huge role in your book, because they play a huge role in your life. What about people who are not religious — what can they learn from this book and your lessons?
Honestly, I consider myself to be very spiritual and not religious. I believe to some extent religion confines us, whereas spirituality connects us. The lessons are universal and are truly meant for people who want to know how to find their purpose and how to walk into their destiny. I have had hundreds of people from different genders, races, sexual orientations, religions and backgrounds to read the book and all of them have said that they feel a strong personal connection to the book and its message.
You give people specific actions to take in the book to help. How did you come up with these actions — were they actions you had taken yourself?
In the book I talk about my own issues of overcoming codependency, feelings of abandonment and sexual abuse. As a counselor and spiritual development expert, I designed the exercises with the outcome in mind and what I would want my clients to achieve when completing these exercises. In each of the lessons I learned valuable things about my self-image, my self-worth and my self-esteem. Writing the book and completing every lesson was a healing process. It was hard and revealing but worth it.
I want other women to have that same experience so I ask each reader to complete the action steps with honesty and integrity as it is a step on the journey toward greatness.
Why do you love words so much?
I have never been asked this before! I have always loved to talk…ALWAYS! My mother said I started talking around seven months and haven’t stopped yet. But words fascinate me. They intrigue me. As a poet and writer, I am amazed at how you can convey a message of love, hurt, passion, pain and pleasure through words. I am an avid reader and buy at least three or four books a month and plan to one day own my own little coffee shop/bookstore where people can enjoy a great cup of coffee, read, relax,and TALK…of course.
Photo: Lakara Foster (courtesy photo)