“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” – Marianne Williamson

One of my favorite things about women is that we all have been blessed with such different gifts: so many strengths and so many varied talents. Every time I meet someone new, I am thrilled to learn about what makes that woman unique and how she uses her God-given talents to make a difference.

When I was in junior high, choir was a requirement. All of my friends were put in the soprano section, and I was so envious of them. They were able to sing the beautiful, high melody while I was relegated to singing the alto part. When it came time for the soprano section during the school program, I made the rash decision to join them. I thought it was time for me to leave the lower range of the alto section and soar just like the gorgeous sopranos. Let’s say the musical results were not quite the same. I will always remember my choir teacher telling me, “Connie, you are an Alto. Be your voice, embrace your voice, and don’t try to change your voice.”

That moment was one of the first times I realized that we don’t all have the same gifts. I may not have had a higher tone to my singing voice, but my lower range and ability to blend the harmony was what made the entire choir sound richer and more lush. A melody is just a tune. A chorus is a symphony.

Women are often taught when we’re growing up not to “be too much.” To not be too loud, not to stand out, to not always be the one answering or asking the question. To not share adverse opinions. To not share opinions at all. We’re taught that there is something shameful if we aren’t exactly like other girls. So we go with the flow, suppressing our talents and strengths and dimming our light. I’ve experienced, on far too many occasions, invitations to turn my light off; I’m thankful that I’ve chosen not to RSVP! We were not meant to live in darkness. We were created to thrive in our light.

I encourage everyone to fully embrace the unique person that God created them to be. Dress your style, wear the colors representing your beauty, and express your opinion. Speak up, speak out, stand up, and light up this world!  When you allow yourself to shine naturally, you show other women that celebrating your strengths is our birthright and will encourage them to do the same. Notice, learn and appreciate the unique gifts and strengths of other women. Illuminate your light on them. Support them. Applaud them. We need to be the sun and the stars, natural creations of light, during day and night.

That’s one of the reasons that I am proud to be on the Inspire Awards Advisory Committee. We have the opportunity to put the spotlight on women who are using their gifts, strengths, and talents to do remarkable things for our community. I am proud and honored to help recognize women who have embraced who they are, what they have to offer, and are lighting up Lincoln!  Shine on!

Connie Edmond is Managing Partner of WRL CPA. With over 30 years of experience in the Auditing, Accounting, Business, and Tax fields. Connie currently pursues her passion in financial management, business consulting, and business analysis. She works with businesses and individuals, developing financial plans, perfecting their accounting systems, enhancing their internal controls, and ensuring compliance with the regulatory authorities.  In addition, Connie does educational speaking engagements to Non-Profit Boards and Organizations on the importance of proper financial oversight and internal controls. Connie is married to her college sweetheart Elton who has encouraged her to let her light shine for over 36 years.