From Dreams to Goals and Back Again: A Family Cycle of Love
Written by Sameerah Allen, MSW.
Assisting others and caring about their outcomes have always been primary for me. As a youth residing in a Pittsburgh inner-city neighborhood, an environment where gang violence pervaded my adolescence, I witnessed firsthand the traumatic effects of life without purpose, without vision. I knew early on that if I wanted to be successful it would be up to me to make a choice to do so, to reflect on the contribution that I wanted to make in the world and the impact I wanted to have within my own family. My parents created the space for me to dream – a space where I was free to achieve and experience life outside the conflict and confines of my community.
My first observation of what it means to “put others first” came from my mother. She believed so much in my success and abilities that she moved from the house that she owned in the inner city to a public housing complex in a majority neighborhood so that my sister and I could be afforded a more well-rounded education. It was important to her that we not only have a space to dream but that we were afforded the educational opportunity that gave us the capacity to realize them.
His biggest lesson, perhaps, was to not take things as they are, but to imagine them as they could be.
The first person to pique my curiosities about the world was my father. As an elementary school teacher and guidance counselor, he would insist that I ask questions when information was presented to me. His lessons stretched and challenged me – inviting me to consider life alternatively. His biggest lesson, perhaps, was to not take things as they are, but to imagine them as they could be. There have been many – teachers, professors, mentors, colleagues – I have encountered who have had an impact on my worldview and have played a role in my success. However, my parents inspired a lifelong journey of learning, caring about and for others and helped to cultivate my place and purpose in the world. I would be greatly remiss if I did not perpetually use these learnings, and the impact of my faith, to contribute to the world; it is my faith and curiosity that drive my passion to connect with others and to create knowledge that will fuel positive change.
As a mother of seven and specifically three college students, I work hard to model those same values and ethics as an example for my children. It is essential to inspire curiosity that informs life as a learning process. Affirmations that encourage and motivate their purposeful behaviors and actions are a daily part of our routine as a family unit, with me reminding them to “be GREAT, do GREAT…because you are GREAT!” These reminders help to embody their greatness.