I want to inspire and empower everyone to be the best versions of themselves they can be. Regardless of whether their children are struggling with mental health issues, low self-esteem or physical ailments, It is essential for all children to reach for the stars and to not let their fears or doubts stop them from achieving greatness.
As a part of my series about “Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships” I had the pleasure to interview Kimberly A. Morrow. Kimberly is a proud alumna of the Los Angeles Unified School District and a graduate of Morris Brown College. She holds a Master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Throughout her career as an educator, Ms. Morrow has advocated for student success inside and beyond the classroom. She has taught in North Carolina, Georgia, and California. She was recognized as “Teacher of the Year” by the Moreno Valley School District in California. Ms. Morrow also served as an administrator at Apple Valley High School and High Desert Premier Academy in California. She currently teaches high school in the Social Science Department for the Apple Valley Unified School District.
Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.
My path to becoming a teacher and now an author began over 40 years ago in my garage in the black working class neighborhood where I grew up in Los Angeles. I played school with my younger siblings and other children from the neighborhood, and I was always the teacher. Years later, after hitting a few bumps in the road, I found myself standing in front of real students doing what I had always dreamed of doing, teaching students. Now, my goal was not to simply teach my students facts from a book, but also many of life’s important lessons. Lessons that I learned the hard way on my journey to becoming a teacher and now an author.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now?
I recently debuted my book, 8 Pearls of Wisdom: A Parenting Guide Empowering Children is the Way to Go! The book draws on my 22 years of experience as a parent and educator. It is filled with inspiring and practical tools parents can implement with their children. In fact, educators have already begun implementing some of the tips offered in the book.
My personal mission as an author is to inspire parents and educators to encourage children to maximize their full potential and advocate for them so that they can and will be able to walk in their purpose. In my book, I also explore the importance of self-care for parents and other adults who work with children. My hope is for those who are primary caregivers to learn to spend time taking care of their own needs which can ultimately lead to a better sense of well being for themselves and in their relationships with others.
Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?
My struggles with depression began to manifest following the unexpected and traumatizing death of my younger sister in 1987. In 1987, it was not common for those of us in the black community to be diagnosed or even accept diagnoses such as depression or anxiety. We were simply encouraged to push forward and keep going.
Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?
It has been a long road to mental health recovery, self-care and self-love. After being hospitalized, I learned that I had to put my needs first and focus on my mental health. I am important. My family needs me. I matter not only to my children and family, but I matter to me. I feel compelled to share this message with others, particularly parents. As parents, we spend so much time and energy on the well being of others and not ourselves.
According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?
Sadly, social media plays a strong role in the diminished self-satisfaction in one’s appearance. Years ago, those from my generation only had to contend with magazines and images on television. Today, we are constantly bombarded with images on a minute to minute basis. This is especially detrimental to our youth, particularly middle and high school age students. These youngsters are entirely too focused on how many likes, views, followers, and shares they receive on social media. It appears their value and self-worth is being determined by the number of likes they receive on social media which could lead to self-harming behaviors.
As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?
It is vital to our long term mental and physical well being to love ourselves unconditionally. We teach people how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves. If we love and accept ourselves, flaws and all, we are demonstrating to others how we should be treated.
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?
I believe people stay in mediocre relationships, whether personal or professional, due to a lack of self-love. It’s important to love everything about yourself, flaws and all. The best advice I can give your readers is, to know that everything you need, you already have within. You are worthy and valuable, and no one needs to complete you.
When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?
I’ve always considered myself a “strong, independent, I have got this all under control” type of woman.
However, when I had my major depressive episode, I realized that was all just the protective armor I wore to avoid my pain. At my brother’s funeral, I was told by a close friend, “It’s ok for you to lean on us. You don’t always have to be the strong one.” I thought to myself, of course, I have to be the strong one. My family need me to be the strong one. Not to mention, I really don’t have time to dig into my grief as I have to go back to work next week. It was during my major depressive episode while sitting in my hospital room one night after group therapy that I began reflecting on how I had gotten to this point in my life. It was then I began to realize how important it was for me to sit still in the quiet and dig into my grief rather than stuff it down and push forward or busy myself by putting everyone else’s needs ahead of my own. This was an extreme way for me to be forced to deal with my illness, but for me, after spending 30 years avoiding the pain associated with the deaths and divorces and illnesses I had endured, this was exactly what I needed to begin the healing process. Shortly after, I started writing my book 8 Pearls of Wisdom to share the many lessons learned during my journey.
So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?
It’s funny, I was never afraid of being alone. In fact, I always preferred my own company over the company of others. During my alone time, I would journal, write stories or watch my favorite shows. However, I did not go deep into the pain I had buried within. That is something I was always afraid of even when I was alone. Through therapy, I learned how to be alone, but more importantly, how to engage with my feelings in an honest, frank way. Many fear being alone to avoid dealing with their true feelings and some are like me who love to be alone and still are able to avoid true feelings. I strongly encourage both sides to seek some type of guidance to learn how to truly be alone in a healthy way which will increase self-awareness and self-growth.
How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?
Once I was able to get clarity and have a stronger level of self-understanding and self-love, it allowed me to have more meaningful and authentic relationships with everyone in my life. I have also been able to support the parents I engage with who are seeking advice and understanding in dealing with their children’s emotional needs.
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
In my book, 8 Pearls of Wisdom, I discuss how important it is to increase our time for self-care. It’s important not only for parents to advocate for their children, but to also advocate for their own mental health and well being.
What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?
The five strategies I implement are:
- Pray, watch sermons online and read bible scriptures relating to how I am feeling and what emotions I am going through.
- Journaling. I love to journal, and I find it very therapeutic to dump everything I am thinking of and going through at the moment.
- I also write fictional stories based on what I am going through but with storylines of the way I want things to go.
- Vision boarding. When I am trying to maintain a connection to my desires and dreams, I will create a vision board.
- Watch my favorite show, I Love Lucy! Ever since I was about ten or eleven years old, whenever I felt down or at a loss, I would watch the weekly antics of Lucy and Ethel. Lucy was always getting into something, yet she was also a strong woman who could come up with a plan in no time. I think it’s important for all of us to have something or someplace we can go to, no matter how down we are, to help pull us out of our stupor and make us laugh!
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?
My favorite podcasts for self-psychology, intimacy and relationship are Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday and Iyanla Fix My Life. I love the guests chosen to interview and the stories they share of overcoming, and the important lessons they have learned. With Iyanla’s Fix My Life, I especially love how she is able to get to the heart of the matter. She’s tough, but she explains to her guests who are seeking help that her goal is to “disrupt the patterns” in order to create something new.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…
I want to inspire and empower everyone to be the best versions of themselves they can be as I am trying to guide parents in my book 8 Pearls of Wisdom to encourage their children. Regardless if their children are struggling with mental health issues, low self-esteem or physical ailments. It is essential for all children to reach for the stars and to not let their fears or doubts stop them from achieving greatness.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by?
Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?
“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” This quote guides me throughout my life. I have the quote posted on my mirror as a constant reminder to take care of myself first so that I may continue to be a blessing to others.