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Kwanzaa is an African American celebration of family, community and culture. It begins the day after Christmas through New Year’s Day observing seven key principles derived from an African philosophy over the seven days.

The second principle is SELF-DETERMINATION or Kujichagulia (Swahili)
Its focus … To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I learned something from a mentor that has indelibly directed my life for several years now … “own your own stuff”.
Stop throwing adult-size tantrums and blaming someone else for YOU. It is so easy to use what someone else said or did, did not say or did not do as a reason for who, what, why and how I am or for what I do and vice versa. My goodness, how much of life we lose literally when we don’t own our own stuff. I am not referring to tangible things either, but to our sense of self, who we are, who we can be and who we can become.

One of my godson’s birth name is Jacob. He decided to change his name, at least on Facebook, to Israel. He, through self-determination, changed his identity, he chose to define, name and create anew the perception he desires for himself. That is what self-determination does, defy all odds, resist all limits, restrictions and boundaries. In God, we have power and abilities to continue to evolve into our ultimate selves … who God says we are. So much of life can and will define us if we let it. Our childhood, our past, our mistakes, our choices, they can all define us if we let them. But in Christ, we are created anew and can redefine our lives, our paths, our choices, with His guidance if we let Him. What prevails here is our choice (personal decision) to let the greatness be. To define, name, create and speak our existence.

Every action begins with a thought. Self-determination is constructed from healthy thought processes that are nourished with forward-thinking, positivity, knowledge, wisdom and tenacity. It is also created through our words, not so much the ones we say out loud, but the ones we whisper to ourselves. Lastly, it is experienced through our actions. Self-determination motivates us to act on who we desire to be or what we desire to accomplish. Self-determination says ‘own your own stuff’, be responsible for your own life, take your life into your own hands, no one else defines you or decides for you, only you.

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
~ Harvey Fierstein