Today my guest is V. Lynn Whitfield, author of the new book, The Party’s Not Over Until God Says So. Lynn is an accomplished attorney. Presently she serves as the City Attorney of Hallandale Beach, Florida. I am excited to interview her about this inspirational book, which provides a roadmap on how to drive through the storms of life.
Why did you write this book?
Once I started writing I realized that this book has been in me my entire life. The idea to write a book about my experiences actually came from a colleague of mine. After I was hired to be the Deputy City Attorney for the city of North Miami, he said that I should write a book because I had come full circle in my career by returning to Miami to practice. He stated that the circumstances which led to my leaving Miami initially was just a setup for my comeback. I was intrigued by his statements and started writing. That was in 2006. I was unable to make much progress on the book at that time. It wasn’t until after experiencing a major health challenge 6 years later that within four months I completed the book.
Why did you title the book The Party’s Not Over Until God Says So?
That has always been the title of the book since its inception. The title is derived from the headline of the Miami Herald article about me in 1981 which proclaimed that for me “the party’s over.” I don’t want to say too much more about it just in case someone reading this has not read the book yet. The full story is laid out there.
Most people try to hide challenges they are going through. Why were you so transparent about personal challenges in your life?
I really feel that this book was God inspired and that I was commissioned to write it not so I could get any acclamations, but to help others that are facing challenges in their own lives. The only way you can help others through is to be transparent about what you yourself have experienced. I don’t know how I could have written this book and not have been transparent. This book was meant to touch so many people going through so many different challenges.
How did you feel when you discovered that you had lost your license to practice law?
From the moment I left the State Attorney’s office I was devastated. I had worked so hard to become an attorney. Everyone in my family was so proud of me. I was too ashamed to tell them the truth about what had occurred. I’m not sure what I told them. Between the time I lost the job and the time I was actually facing discipline from the Florida Bar, I was working to reestablish myself as a criminal defense lawyer, so on Martin Luther King Day, 1983 when I returned home to find the letter about the complaint being filed with the Florida Bar, it was like I had been punched in the stomach again. I felt like the powers to be were trying to destroy me and I didn’t understand why. I thought to myself, “Wasn’t it enough that I had lost my job and faced embarrassment? Why were they going after my license?” One thing I don’t talk about in the book is the statement which had been made to me prior to the incident by one of the top supervisors in the State Attorney’s office which were borderline sexual harassment. He was the same person who filed with the Florida Bar to get my license suspended.
How could you get up and face the day knowing that people knew what had happened to you?
It was hard to face every day. In fact for the first couple of days I didn’t get up. I wallowed in my pity party. But I was alone. I had separated from my live-in boyfriend, which is discussed in Chapter 9. Looking for love can bring about storms. I didn’t have any money, so I had to get up and go out because I had to eat. At first I stayed away from the courthouse and others who knew details about what occurred unless they were very close friends of mine. Then I started hearing rumors that a lot of the defense attorneys were supportive of me and they were saying that if any charges were ever filed against me they would represent me. What I learned was that the defense bar considered me to get a good prosecutor who always attempted to be fair with them. I also had a lot of support from the judges whom I had appeared before over the four-year period of time.
It seemed like there was a long process to get your law license back. Did you ever feel like giving up?
My suspension was for six months, but as I state in the book, the reinstatement period took another year. I never felt like giving up especially after my mentor and friend, H.T. Smith, agreed to represent me. How do you give up when you have someone who is going out of their way to be there for you and to get others to support you? Also, I think I had something to prove to those who had wanted me suspended. No one had ever said I was not a good lawyer. They said that what I did was not good. I wanted to prove that I was not only a good lawyer but also a good person who valued her bar license.
In the book you detail your recent health challenges. After surgery when you became aware that you were paralyzed on your left side how did you have the determination to tackle rehabilitation with so much inner strength?
I’m glad you asked this question. By the time I reached this challenge in my life I had journeyed through so many. I have learned that you do actually get stronger and more resilient every challenge that you encounter. I thought back on all the other challenges I had gone through. I thought back to how I have been able to overcome them. I thought back on how initially I didn’t know if I would be able to overcome them, but I did. I knew that I was going to need a tangible object to help keep me motivated and that is why I asked my sister to bring me my half marathon medals. The medals were tied to the side of my bed and when I was concerned or thought about not working hard at rehabilitation, I would look at my medals and think about how at first I couldn’t walk five miles continuously and how I had to work hard to be successful. I knew it was going to take the same type of determination to fully restore the use of my left side.
You also detail relationship challenges you have faced. Have you received any feedback from the men you talk about in the book? If so, what has it been? Any apologies?
I detail two relationships which caused storms in my life. The preacher I discuss died prior to the release of the book. He actually was sick when I was sick and that was the last time I spoke with him. I have spoken with his son and I let him know that I had discussed his father in the book. I don’t think he has read the book yet. I have not heard from the other individual and don’t expect to hear from him. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want an apology, but I’m learned that the only apology which I needed was for me to apologize to myself for allowing them to treat me the way I did. I’ve apologized to myself for not loving myself enough to set clear boundaries on how a man should treat me. I realize that not having my father in my life during my teen years had a negative effect on how I related to men in relationships.
Why do you feel the need to help people who are facing major storms in their lives?
We all have a purpose for walking on this earth. It has taken me a long time to realize what my true purpose is. It was only with the writing of this book and it’s being published that I came into the realization that everything which I have experienced in my life was not about me. It was about me being able to get this story out and to share it with others so that it could bless them as they encounter the major storms in their lives. Why else would one person have gone through so many storms and still be young enough to help others by speaking and writing about it.
The holiday season is a time of festive celebrations with family and friends. What advice would you give someone who is facing a major storm in their life and have nothing to celebrate?
You are right most people are in celebration mode right now, but it is the most depressing time for a lot of other people. We all have something to celebrate. The fact that we woke up, we need to celebrate. What I would tell someone facing a major storm and feel they have nothing to celebrate is to just get up and get dressed. Next leave the home and find someone who is having a hard time. Maybe volunteer at a homeless shelter or a domestic violence shelter or even just go to the nursing homes and hospitals and see people with worse challenges. Take your mind off your problems by helping someone else with theirs. What is that old saying? “I thought I had it bad because I had no shoes until I met the man who had no feet.” When we see people doing worse than us, we become grateful for what we do have.
What future books are you planning?
I’ve always wanted to write novels. I’ve been working on a Christian murder mystery set in West Palm Beach for a while now and hope to finish in the very near future. People have asked me about the sequel to “The Party’s Not Over” but I’m not being led in that direction yet.
What topics do you cover in your workshops and seminars?
I have two workshops/seminar which I am developing. First is “10 Steps to Overcoming the Shame of Failure” and “Remove the Mask and Let Them See You.” I am also developing, with a psychologist, a webinar for lawyers, doctors and dentist entitled, “Make Law Your Profession Not Your Life.” The title is changed for each profession.
How can people contact you for workshops, seminars, speaking engagements, and book signings?
People can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 561-856-6757. I’m available to speak at churches, youth groups, recovery groups, health groups or any group or organization which encounters individuals dealing with the challenges of life. Pick a challenge and I’ve either experienced it personally or have someone close to me who has.
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