Interview By Chante Dyson.
Today and all days, we want to uplift, support, and encourage our women, our queens, our mothers. Thank you to the mamas, grandmothers, aunties, and divine feminine support from the goddesses who have helped us to heal and evolve into who we are today. All of the nurturing and the support we receive unselfishly from our mother figures is truly what keeps this world going around. Our mothers are our first experiences of God. Their wombs are the portals of our greatness — our entrance into this dimension and to our true purpose on the Earth. Give thanks.
Here at Black Girl In Om, we want to honor the legacy of our founder Lauren Ash’s grandmother Lillian Lazenberry-Martin and her queen mother Patricia Miller. We give thanks for the powerful legacy that has ultimately led to our divine resource for black women’s wellness and healing — Black Girl In Om.
In what ways are you two similar and completely different?
Lauren Ash: I love this question. For too many years, I think that I dwelled on our differences. My Grandmother — my Mother’s Mother — and I are each others’ mirrors in personality, life outlook, and overall energy. So, I used to focus on how much my Mother and I contrasted.
However, in the past year and a half since my Grandmother’s passing, my Mother and I have developed — intentionally so and with God’s direction — a stronger bond.
We are deeply similar in that we: share a deep love for God and God’s plan for our lives and our active participation in its unfolding; we are connected and interested in the lives of our ancestral lineage; we are deeply creative, generative women; and that we love people, serving others, and ensuring others feel cared for in our company.
My Mother is an introvert — I’m an introvert that has been socialized to be an extrovert. I’m a spontaneous risk taker — my Mother takes her time to weigh all decisions and make the best and surest. My Mother is all sweet, I have the fiery sass. We’re different in all the ways that contribute to our appreciation of each other and our mutual growth and learning.
What’s your fondest memory with your Mom?
LA: My mother gently rubbed my back to guide me to sleep daily (when she wasn’t traveling) until I was seven years old. This loving attention and the nurturing intention behind it undoubtedly laid the foundation for me to receive love and care in intimate relationships — and, importantly, to believe that I am deserving of it. When she talks about her decision to do that now, she reflects on how challenging it was for her to stop. When my younger sister was born, she needed to share her love and care for both of us. She was emotional about not being able to continue to show her love for me in this way, but I recognize now as an adult that those seven years of nightly nourishing back rubs poured into me for a lifetime. To this day, when a loved one or a bodyworker gently rubs my back it takes me back, emotionally and spiritually, to my childhood.
Has your relationship with Lauren changed in a significant way in the past few years? If so, how?
Patricia Miller: We are forever changing and evolving and that includes the relationship Lauren and I have together. You may recall my mother past away about 2 years ago. When I was down and missing my mother, Lauren called me out of the blue. Not knowing how I was feeling she uplifted me with words and engagement I once received from my mother. Lauren has become an anchor for me.
How has your relationship with your Mom helped to create your own definition of ‘womanhood’?
LA: My Mom never wore makeup. She’s a modest dresser. She’s shy and kind. I don’t think I received many overt messages from her about how I needed to “be a lady” but rather she encouraged me to be my best, most authentic self whatever that meant to me, and that uncovering that would be a journey.
She is a woman of strong faith convictions and really encourages me to expand into what it means to be a child of God. I think, then, that my notions of womanhood from my Mother really relate to that creative, ongoing process. I would definitely say that my Mother is less invested in rigid gender norms and more invested in what it means to be connected to a divine feminine energy although she wouldn’t use that language.
What's your fondest memory from Lauren's childhood?
PM: Lauren loved to talk and read. When she was talking she usually looked at me, took her hands and reached up to my face to turn it towards her. She wanted to make sure I kept eye contact with her while she told me something "important". When she read, she enjoyed reading out loud to me so that I could enjoy stories along with her.
How much of what your Mom taught you will you carry into the relationship with that of your own?
LA: Wow. When I step into Motherhood, I will be absolutely honored to share with my child what my Mother has taught me. She has demonstrated grace through some of the most challenging situations; for example, when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, it was an opportunity for her to be more vulnerable with our family, even more deeply surrender to God’s will for her life, and also to get more intentional about self-care. I didn’t hear her complain or speak negatively once during that time. She turned to alternative wellness practices to cultivate holistic wellness within her mind, body, and soul (interestingly, this was all at the very same time that I was launching Black Girl In Om).
What's one important thing you have learned from Lauren?
PM: Lauren has taught me to take time for myself. Both of my daughters have stressed the importance of me making myself a priority. I love being a mother. But now that my children are grown and out of the home I feel lost at times. I now realize how much of my time was spent on my children and others and not as much time in caring for myself. Lauren will call or text me reminding me to do something for myself, or surprising me with a gift of sorts. She is returning the love I shared with her. She is teaching me how to receive it and expect it.
Growing up, what were some of the core values you instilled in Lauren? And how has it been watching these things bloom within her?
PM: In 1997 we created a family mission statement. It talks about love, truth, compassion and servitude. It talks about putting God and our love ones first, and taking care of ourselves. It talks about being pacesetters and pressing towards the mark of a higher calling that helps others, learns from others, and is a positive force. It has been a "magical" experience watching Lauren bloom. I tried to give her everything I wanted as a child. I didn't realize the significate of it until I saw what it gave her. I read to her every night before bedtime when she was young, and I enrolled her in dance and music lessons. I watched it encourage the confidence she already had inside her to bloom even more. The freedom I gave her to express herself, encouraged her to show how much of a pacesetter she is. To see her helping others, in their wellness journey, has been a blessing to me.
What would you say was your parenting style?
PM: I gave her the freedom to express herself, to believe in herself, and encouraged her to make her dreams happen. I trusted her and always believed in her.
Is there anything that you would go back and do differently in raising her?
PM: I wouldn't go back. I would be afraid of messing something up. I remember Lauren being happy and socially engaged with the community around her. I would only want to go back to remember our time together but not change anything. Even to this day, Lauren continues to learn and grow. I have confidence in knowing that. If I missed teaching her something, interesting enough, I see her getting it now. When you have someone who is interested in their own journey and growth, like Lauren is, there is no need to go back. Lauren continues to learn so there is nothing ahead but growth.