Wisdom From "We’re Speaking: The Life Lessons of Kamala Harris"

Jan 03, 2022Maria West0 comments

Heading into 2022, I picked up Wise Woman Hitha Palepu's new book, We're Speaking: The Life Lessons of Kamala Harris, which contains learning moments for using your voice and owning your story. And that’s what the best New-Year mantras are made of, right?

What is a mantra?

The Sanskrit origin of mantras is a sacred word or phrase to be chanted or prayed repeatedly, which runs deep to both Harris and Palepu's South Asian culture. Now globalized, a mantra can be phrased to help the mind and spirit focus on a truth (e.g., "I am a strong, wise woman").

3 mantras for 2022, inspired by We’re Speaking

1. "I will own my name and multitudes."

Growing up (and unfortunately, still in the public sphere today), Harris faced teasing and scrutiny for her name and its pronunciation. Palepu relates to these racial microaggressions and the uphill journey to be proud of her identity.

Both women learned not only to gently correct those who have a hard time with pronunciation but also to own the cultural meanings and rich potential in their names.

"Kamala" means "lotus flower" in Sanskrit and is also a name for the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi. "Hitha" means "good" in Sanskrit. Both sound pretty badass to me.

Owning your name and being proud of its heritage is part of being a multihyphenate woman. In We're Speaking, Palepu goes into more detail about how we can own our multitudes (like being Black, South Asian, and American) and use our unique voice and style to take up space.

Criticism will always be plentiful, but the confidence to unapologetically show up as who we are is power.

2. "I will do something about it."

Harris's mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, played a significant role in her daughters' lives, always involving them in activities or services. Shyamala instilled Kamala’s need to "do something about it," leading with a no-bull attitude and a passion for justice.

In We're Speaking, Palepu discusses the reality of setbacks and hurdles when trying to accomplish something, especially when "the right things are the hardest things." She dives into Harris's experience as an attorney and politician fighting for social issues against the grain.

We, too, can "do something about it." That might start with voting a certain way, building diverse relationships at work, or calling out microaggressions and injustices. But when we think bigger, we can do bigger.

What doesn't sit right with you? What stirs you up every time you see it on the news or Twitter? Think big and start.

3. "I will follow my North Star."

A North Star is a compass to goals — your "why" — no matter how stormy the sky gets. "For the people" has been Harris’s North Star phrase from the beginning of her early days as an individual prosecutor and has carried into her political campaigns.

Part of focusing on your North Star is adopting a growth mindset and acting on your ambition, which Palepu teaches throughout the book. Both are necessary to overcome challenges, progress your goals, and fall deeper into your purpose.

What's your North Star? Maybe it's prioritizing your family. This coming year, you might focus on creating a work-life integration that helps you do that (e.g., have dinner together most nights). If your Star is raising awareness about a cause, you can find ways to have a bigger impact this year (e.g., create TikTok videos).

You can own your story, do something about things that spark your fire, and set your sail to your North Star. All it takes is focus, hard work, and a lot of grace (because yes — we all mess up).

Read or listen to Palepu’s We’re Speaking for more 2022 mantra ideas and let us know what energy you’re channeling for the new year.

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