Jul 012016


Angela Schaefers “Stories Matter. Yours. Mine. Theirs.”

“Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” – Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing

Have you ever met someone who raved about how many opportunities the USA offers? Or perhaps you have met those people who tell you how lucky you are to live, work, and play here in the USA? Have you come across the people who think there is no better place than the USA, whether they are from here or not? I have.

WVM July 2014 Angela Schaefers IMPACT ImageI used to wonder why people would say those things. I never really thought about how blessed we are with all the opportunities and freedoms we have. I did not have a sense of appreciation like I do now. Part of my appreciation came from maturing and understanding how valuable certain things were to me including education, opportunities to work for various companies/organizations or for myself, and so on.

Over time I had the chance to visit other countries, some third world. Others more advanced in some ways than the USA, but nonetheless all different and all varied in what was considered ‘opportunity’ and ‘freedom.’ I won’t go into all the politics behind one country versus another country (Although I know you can find those great articles in our politics section!).

Part of understanding the value in living, working, and creating a life for ourselves and family here in the USA is realizing it is indeed the land of plenty! There are jobs and careers women can fill; there are educational opportunities women can pursue and freedoms some women, from abroad, could never fathom. In some other places, women cannot work outside the home due to cultural norms, and some cannot attend school (even grade school).

I don’t know about you, but for me, to be able to work and go to school has been one of life’s biggest blessings!

Are things perfect in the USA? Not hardly. Are their discrepancies in pay for men versus women, do women hit glass ceilings in their careers, are women treated less than in certain situations? YES! But again we can always compare our lives to a woman living in another country that has far more obstacles, challenges, and injustice.

Whatever is not right or fair, let’s work together to improve it. Whenever we have women in our own work place, neighborhood, or school experience injustice, let’s help create change. Whatever is holding us back from being our best self and achieving our hopes and dreams, let’s break down the barriers. It all starts with having gratitude for what is right before you, accepting what you cannot change, and creating a vision and taking action to work towards what you want and need.

We have amazing access here in the USA. Perfect? No! Are we always free to express ourselves and allowed to say and do as we please? Not exactly. Are we restricted from moving about, changing jobs, choosing certain options versus other options, and so on? NO!

In contrast, we actually have the ‘freedom’ here in the USA to over indulge in many things; food, material things, unsavory activities, and so on. I’m not condoning certain activities, but you certainly would not ‘get away’ with some things you can here as a woman in another country!

As many women I’ve met who have been teary eyed, grateful, and humbled to experience life in the amazing USA, I have also met women who are recovering addicts, homeless, and/or criminals who are from here but landed on a less then desirable path.

It is our choice to live in a state of gratitude and savor every bit of opportunity we have here in the USA versus killing our mind, body and soul. It’s always a choice. What will you choose? I know from experience it is not always easy to choose the right thing or that there are not real life issues and problems for each of us.

Each time I land in another country and see the oppression women experience, or witness women giving up on their hopes and dreams, I wonder to myself, “Do those around me in the USA recognize and appreciate what is before them?” Will they make a choice to pursue their freedom of choices and opportunity? Will they recognize their blessings? I hope so. Today is a good day to start!

Angela Schaefers is a speaker, writer and producer and host of Your Story Matters show. She speaks as keynote for organizations and at events and speaks to groups to inspire them.  She is a TEDx speaker – Your Story Matters Creating Connection & Collaboration Through Sharing Your Story.  Angela is author of Your Story Matters You Matter, A guide to healing, learning from and sharing your story.  She has also co-authored several books, writes for online publications and blogs.  She has previously counseled families, couples, children and individuals, and has provided career and personal development coaching.  She has worked with and consulted with various non-profit organizations, government entities and the corporate sector.  ContactWebsite Books

Photo Credit – Stuart Miles