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Whitney Houston: Lessons for Working Women

As you all know, Whitney Houston died last Saturday. Whitney Houston, a working mom, is dead. You may question my characterization of her. You may say that she had nothing in common with working moms. She was gorgeous. She was famous. She was a super star. She was rich.

A lot of people say isn’t it so sad that someone with so much died so young. If you can’t be happy with all of that, when can you be happy? I think that’s precisely the point. It’s not the money that makes you happy. It’s not the applause that gives you joy. And it’s not the publicity that gives you peace.

Having never met Whitney, I have no insight into her psyche. However, I was riveted to the television during her funeral. By all accounts she was talented, which we knew. However, she was also sweet, incredibly vulnerable and generous.  

As I listened to her friends pay tribute to her I was struck by how very normal she seemed.  Like a lot of us, she worked and she lived her life.  True, she lived an extraordinary life. But having the funeral at her home church reminded me that she was just a little Black girl who grew up and lived her dreams, for better or worse. She lived her dreams. She was haunted by her demons. She also had a daughter.

Based on what has been reported it seems as if the demands of her work and life tested her greatly. And she was in search of something that would give her relief from those demands. That relief seemed to have eluded her. Eventually, her demands became too much.

Most of us will never know what it is like to have our photo on covers of magazines, have a hit record or need a body guard. However, we know what it is like to be overworked.  We know what it is like to become overwhelmed by the demands of life. And, we all know that Whitney is not the only working mom who was found dead in a bathtub. Because the others weren't famous we don't know their names.

My personal lesson from the Whitney Houston story is to practice compassionate self-care, take a break when necessary, and to guard my heart and body with all diligence. She taught us, the greatest love of all is inside. I hope that her death makes us all remember that.

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