My name is Dr. Barbara Swinney…and I am Iyanla Vanzant; I am Michelle Obama; I am Oprah Winfrey; and I am You!

When I started this journey of wholeness and healing, I kept bumping into myself; I kept running into Barbara. But I did not recognize her because she looked like you. I heard untold story after untold story, stories which could have unlocked my alabaster box twenty years ago—but nobody could step outside of themselves long enough to free me. I heard stories of toxic relationships, of mental, emotional, and spiritual suppression, of illnesses caused by the stress of abuse, and the tragic outcomes of cyclical dysfunction.

Sadly, most of the women I spoke with were telling their stories for the first time…to me! They had spent years of going it alone, years of hopelessness and silent frustration. They had done the same thing I was guilty of doing—putting on my Ruby Woo Lipstick and heels and walking around confidently insecure, bound by the expectations of others, paralyzed by self-judgment, and completely afraid to give any indication that I was not OK.

That’s why I became vigilant about helping women just like me to transition through life-changing events, while managing the demands of their roles as leaders. That’s why I wrote the book It’s Always Deeper, and that’s why I hosted the first annual DEEPER Women Speak—an event that provides a platform for women in leadership to share their stories and to empower other women to go after their healing, to go after their dreams, to become a DEEPER Woman! A woman who…

-knows who she is and understands that her purpose is far greater than she is.

-is not intimidated by another woman’s gifts. In fact, she understands that it is her job to help identify and cultivate those gifts.

-does not shake in the face of her problems. She understands that her problems come only as a means to establish her as someone else’s solution.

-understands that her only function is to be the light. When you are the light, you cannot complain about the darkness. All you can do is shine!

-is no longer afraid to face herself, nor does she quake at what others think of her. She is confident, sure in her purpose, and has learned to live The DEEPER Life!

DEEPER is not just a hashtag, tagline, or a book. DEEPER is a lifestyle!

Dr. Barbara L. Swinney

A leader of more than 20 years, her career in education, along with her life experiences have allowed her to support and empower women in leadership, as they transition through life-changing events while balancing the demands of their leadership roles. A John Maxwell Certified Life and Leadership Coach, Speaker, and author of It’s Always Deeper, Dr. Barbara Swinney, uses her gifts to inspire transformational thinking to help leaders clarify their vision and align their goals so they are able to live their purpose from any position; helping them to live a more fulfilled life.

This feature was submitted by Dr. Barbara L. Swinney

All images were provided by Dr. Barbara L. Swinney