iyanla-vanzant_web.jpgMIAMI – Iyanla Vanzant, the popular author, motivational speaker and life coach who is also an ordained minister, will share her story and well-received nuggets of wisdom on Friday night at Unity on the Bay, a popular, non-denominational church near downtown Miami.

A former welfare recipient turned attorney, Vanzant poured the wisdom gleaned from her own life experiences into several bestselling books, inspiring millions of readers to improve their lives.

With a down-to-earth, no nonsense delivery, Vanzant encourages people to look within themselves for the strength and courage to live better lives, and then to take action.

During a telephone interview with the South Florida Times, Vanzant said her visit on Friday, April 17 will be about fellowship.

“It’s great anytime we can come together to share space, time and love,” she said.

Popular on the motivational speaker circuit, Vanzant is also the founder of Inner Visions, a Maryland-based “network of spiritual and holistic practitioners who believe that all individuals must be empowered,” according to its Web site. Not a religious organization, Inner Visions represents a variety of cultures, ethnicities and spiritual philosophies.  

“We believe that empowerment is a function of knowing who you are, why you are on the planet and the role you play in the divine order of life,” the Web site states.

Once a regular guest on “Oprah,’’ Vanzant teaches her legions of fans, primarily women, that the power to transform their lives rests within, and that it is accessible through prayer, meditation and common sense.

When asked what advice she would give to people suffering due to the economic crisis, Vanzant cautions that she doesn’t give advice, but rather shares her experiences.

“Where we are is nothing new, especially in the African-American community,” Vanzant said of people losing jobs and homes.

What’s different about the current crisis, she said, is that, “It’s touching people who thought they were untouchable, people who felt like they had done all the right things.”

Likening the state of the economy to a pop quiz, Vanzant said it’s time for people to look at what’s really important, like love and relationships.

“What are you really made out of,” she questioned. “What is your plan B?”

A promotional video from her appearance at a women’s retreat offers a glimpse into how Vanzant sees the spiritual in everyday occurrences.

When Vanzant took her young grandson to get glasses, she had her own vision tested because Lens Crafters was offering a two-for-one special. Surprisingly, the exam revealed that Vanzant’s vision was not what she thought it was. Because she had spent years unwittingly adjusting to a visual deficiency, Vanzant said was not aware that she could not see well.

She used the experience as an analogy about people who subconsciously adjust to – instead of overcoming – a deficiency in other aspects of their life, essentially settling for a life of mediocrity when they are capable of so much more.  

Vanzant will be introduced by a local woman who has also done her share of personal transformation. Lorna Owens, also a former attorney, went from nurse, to lawyer, to author and motivational speaker.

Founder of the popular “And the Women Gather” annual literary jazz brunch and women’s empowerment company of the same name, Owens said she is thrilled to introduce Vanzant.

“It is such a great honor. She’s someone that I highly, highly respect,” Owens said of the author, whom she has followed in the United States as well as England.  “When she was on her way to the UK, you could feel the power, her force. The whole place was a buzz and all of her events were completely sold out.”

Owens said Friday’s event, which is being co-sponsored by “And the Women Gather,” is an example of the type of quality events her company is committed to delivering.

“We’re not looking to simply entertain or inform, but to empower women,” Owens said.

The similarities between the two women’s approaches to helping women are obvious. Positive thinking is important when it comes to living your best life, Owens said, but action is imperative.

“You can visualize all you want.  You can do it, but you have to do the work.”

Vanzant will sign books after her two-hour talk on Friday. Her bestselling book, Tapping the Power Within was re-released this year in honor of its tenth-year anniversary.

Of her many books, including In the Meantime, Yesterday I Cried, Acts of Faith, Until Today, The Value in the Valley and One Day My Soul Just Opened Up, Vanzant said that she has no favorite.

“That’s like asking a parent which child is the favorite,” she said with a chuckle.

She said each book emerged from a special place at a special time.

“Life was calling it forward,” she said.


Photo: Iyanla Vanzant


WHAT:  The Ways We Love, with Iyanla Vanzant

WHERE:  Unity on the Bay Church, 411 NE 21st St., Miami

WHEN:  Friday, April 17 at 7 p.m.

COST:  $25 in advance; $35 at the door. Tickets may be purchased online at www.unityonthebay.org or at the church’s bookstore, The Source

CONTACT: Call 305-573-9191