Thursday, November 2, 2017

Remembering My Baby Boy Michael

Charm honoring Michael.

11-2-2017. Today was my due date for our son Michael. I had no idea how I would feel today, but I am feeling good. I have learned so much through this time and I am grateful for the mark my baby boy has left on my heart. This whole experience put things into perspective for me though and here are some things I want to share with you.

  • For those who know me, do not pity me. I am strong. I am resilient. Treat me like the person you know and love and allow me to be me. No one wants to be treating like there is something wrong with them or like you have to walk on eggshells when you are in their prescence Continue to love on me. That's what make happy.

  • I may have lost a child, but I am still a mother and I still have the opportunity have more children. I don't take that fact for granted at all. I know there are women who have lost that opportunity or never had the opportunity at all to have children of their own. Each day I thank God for my blessings.

  • Be thankful for your children. Your kids may make you mad and get on your nerves, but be thankful they are alive and healthy. They can be here one minute and gone the next. Imagine how you were feeling if the last time you saw your child was the last time ever. How would you feel? Speak life into your babies and encourage them to be the best they can be.

I share my thoughts and feelings in hopes that this will let someone know they aren't alone. I pray they are inspired to keep pushing. I would not be where I am without my faith in God. God is forever faithful and I am thankful to serve such an awesome God.

The blanket Michael was wrapped in.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

AMPed Life Women: Michelle Harris Jefferson. A Teacher Turned Author. Finding Purpose In Her Pain

Michelle Harris Jefferson
Photo courtesy of Michelle Harris Jefferson
Michelle, tell us about yourself.
I am Michelle Harris Jefferson. I am a 30 year old mother, wife and educator. I graduated Suma Cum Laude and #1 in my department from NC State University in 2010. I wake up everyday of my life hoping to inspire someone to be a better them than they were the day before by living my own journey of self-improvement. I love to read, travel and experience new things. I love meeting new people and intellectually stimulating conversation. I'm a giver and a nurturer, but I'm also obsessed with organization and a stickler for discipline and respect.

What is your book about and why did you decided to write your book?
What Doesn't Kill You is the raw, transparent, unapologetic story of my life's struggles. From my parents' divorce, to years of mental abuse and neglect, I lay it all out in the open. In writing this book, I believe that I am giving women and girls all over the world permission to say, yes I am flawed and yes I have made mistakes, but these mistakes are the reason that I can say with authority my greatness was bought with a price! I no longer have to hide behind our shame and the taboos of our community. We can feel free to bear our battles scars as badges of honor on the road to our success!

What was the hardest thing about the process to create this book?

The toughest part about the creation of this book was the inward battle between my past demons and the future I have always dreamed of for myself: me as a successful author, motivational speaker and business woman. It can be difficult to stand on a platform, before the business world "naked," all your past wounds and scars exposed! When you write a book that places the spotlight on your past, it forces you to relive the pain and misery these memories evoke. 

What Doesn't Kill You: A Memoir. 
Photo courtesy of Michelle Harris Jefferson
Was it difficult revisiting your past? Why or why not?

Very. Writing this book was a bit of an emotional roller coaster to say the least. I tussled with the possibility of publishing this memoir for years. I knew deep down on the inside of me that this book and my experiences were not intended for me. They were designed to free millions of others who believe that our past struggles are strategically designed to imprison or limit us, a line of reasoning that also subscribed to once. I found in writing this that in fact the opposite is true. Our experiences are not boundaries, they are fuel!

What did you get out of writing this book?
This book freed me! A reader asked me a questions a short time ago. She asked me what it feels like to be free? Freedom is overwhelmingly beautiful and heavy. It's overwhelming in the sense that for the first time in my 30 years of life, my past struggles don't control me entirely. I don't consult my past before venturing out into the world and deciding to live, love and laugh. I do these things on purpose now. On the other hand, it's heavy in the sense that I now have a responsibility to help others find their freedom. 

What elements do you believe are important for someone who needs to heal?

Honesty and transparency. If you can not look in the mirror and own, acknowledge and accept what you experienced, healing is impossible. When you own your experiences, you stop taking a backseat to them. They are no longer the driving force. When the past is in control, it dictates what you do, what you say, who you love and how you live ,but when YOU accept all of what makes you who you are, you take the control back. Your past still informs your future, but you determine the when and where, not the other way around.

How has your life experience impacted you as a teacher, mother, and a wife?

Jefferson with her husband Gary and daughter Danai
Photo courtesy of Michelle Harris Jefferson
Despite what people think, as an educator, your teaching extends far beyond the classroom. Everyday I encounter people who have had troubling pasts. Often times I can "see it" on them. Damaged people carry themselves differently. When you haven't healed properly, your wounds are sometimes visible to those who have shared your condition. As the healed, we have a responsibility to share our healing journey with others, to help them heal. Weather its a kind word, a listening ear, a hug or a whispered prayer we have a responsibility to help those in need of what we have. Now, I must say that my experiences do cause me to be cautious with my own daughter and I am very intentional in the selection of people I allow to influence her world. This lends to my previous statement concerning a shift in seating. Before my healing, I was determined not to have children for fear of what someone may do to them because of my own experiences. As a mother to an amazing two-year-old, that fear no longer drives me, it simple informs my decision concerning who I allow in her world. As a wife, I believe the damage done to my femininity, the very essences of my womanhood, was my biggest challenge in this healing process. Being vulnerable with my husband concerning past molestation and sexual encounters was not easy but it was necessary. Having someone love you when you are damaged, even when you don't love yourself is a tough spot to be in, but it is also motivating. Pushing yourself to see the person others see even after they know the truth is powerful. This goes back to surrounding yourself with the right people.

What advice do you have for someone who maybe going through dark times and feel like giving up?
Take a step back, analyze and put things in perspective. Ask yourself, "What do you want?" "What is hindering you?" and "What you can do to change it?" Set goals for yourself and a plan to accomplish your dream. Give yourself deadlines. Write down your vision. Get an accountability partner to keep you motivated and accountable. Most importantly, make yourself a priority. We tend to get loss in all our roles as wives, mothers and career women, and we forget to make time for us. Allow yourself time to love you enough to give your dreams the time they deserve. Go out in this big world and be great!

What words of encouragement do you have for women who maybe second guessing going after their dreams?
Photo courtesy of Michelle Harris Jefferson

My company, LEAP has a mission statement:

Through truth and transparency, we learn to overcome our struggles, persevering to seek out greatness, in spite of adversity, inspiring other to strive for greatness, while building their own legacy!

Love yourself enough to see that you deserve the best! If you don't love and respect you enough to invest in your greatness, you can't expect anyone else to either. Use your struggles as fuel for your greatness.

How can people reach you for speaking engagements? 
I welcome the opportunity to speak and encourage people from all walks of life. You can reach us via email at, by phone at 336-907-2430, or on our business page: LEAP 

Where can we purchase your book?

You may purchase my memoir What Doesn't Kill You: A Memoir at the links below:

What upcoming events do you have planned?
Our company, LEAP, is excited to announce the official launch of What Doesn't Kill You: A Memoir, Sunday, August 20th, 2017 from 2-4pm at 1220-E Battleground Ave Greensboro, NC. Click the following link to RSVP link: Event RSVP

Follow our page to get motivation and inspiration as well as information on upcoming events and engagements.

Monday, July 10, 2017

10 Things My 31 Years Have Taught Me

1. Life is what you make it.
We all have one life to live and we at times get dealt tough hands.  Play that hand to the best of your ability.  Being born into poverty does not mean you have to be poor all your life.  I remember not taking no for answer when a particular class I need was closed.  My persistence allowed me to be put into the class and it stopped me from being held back a semester. Your actions and mindset can tremendously impact the outcome of your situation.

2. People change and that is okay.
Time and experience have an impact on people and you aren't immune to this happening.  A person changing due to their life experiences is not in your control.  What you can do as a person and as a friend is accept them for who they are and understand there is a root cause to why they do or say the things they do.

3. Saying "No" is good.
We always want to make people happy and don't want to seem mean by saying no when asked to do something. People often take you for granted when knowing they can always come to you.  Doing everything for everyone else wears you down.  Telling others no at times healthy for you and your sanity.

4. Sometimes you have to let people go or give them some distance.
Not everyone is meant to travel your journey with you.  Some people cause more harm than good.  Some people hinder growth.  It is important to understand the people closest to you and your relationship.  Don't hold on to meaningless relationships out of feeling obligated based on something such as being friends since elementary school.  If this person is full of empty promises, makes choices that can impact you negatively or doesn't truly support your endeavors, consider why are you friends?

5. Everyone has an opinion, but it doesn't have to impact your life.
People will have opinions about you and your life.  Their thoughts are not law.  People will try to get you to make your life decisions off of what they think is best for you.  Remember it is your life and while taking others opinions into consideration is an option, it is your option to make.

6. Everything happens for everyone in their own time.
It's like you look around and everything is happening in everyone's life, promotions, engagements, birth announcements, new houses, etc. You feel stagnant and not where you believe you are supposed to  be.  Don't compare how successful you are by looking at someone else's life.  Watching someone else's life will cause me to miss out on my own victories and blessings.  I made it a point to be so busy achieving my goals, I don't have time to worry about what someone else was doing.

7. We all have demons we are fighting
I would look at a person and say, "Man, how does she do it?"  She seems to have it all together, but many times when I get to know her, she has a lot on her plate, and she is doing her best to keep it together just like the rest of us.  We all put our best face forward in public, but there is no telling what is eating at someone on the inside.  Be gentle with people and be patient.

8. Sometimes the best response is no response at all
I have had situations where I really wanted to say what was on my mind, but I decided it wasn't worth it and kept quiet.  I've learned to pick my battles and not to feed the flames of the fire.  When a conversation is needed, I will talk it out.  I evaluate those lessons to see what I can learn from them and move on. Depending on the severity, I may cut ties with the person or place and interact on a need be basis.  I choose a peace of mind over continuous drama.

9. Being comfortable in my own skin brings true happiness
I truly love me.  There are times I have to correct myself when my husband says something nice that he likes about me. I Would twist it into something less flattering. I will accept my imperfections as those things that make me who I am. We all have flaws and should not be ashamed.  I'm learning to accept my compliments and appreciate myself and see the beauty in what I perceive as my imperfections.

10. I am stronger than I think
The loss of my son Michael is teaching me so much about myself. I experienced a pain/grief unlike anything I have ever experienced.  I really did not know how I was going to make it to the next day carrying so much pain.  I am thankful for my support system because even though I had to go through the pain, I was not alone.  I didn't even know my own strength because I know I survived because of the strength God gave me.  I am learning I have the strength to take on the toughest trials life can dish out.  I will hurt, but I will survive.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

One Step at a Time

"When you can't wait any longer
But there's no end in sight (When you need to find the strength)
It's your faith that makes you stronger
The only we get there is one step at a time

Take one step at a time
There's no need to rush
It's like learning to fly
Or falling in love
It's gonna happen and it's
Supposed to happen that we
Find the reasons why
One step at a time"
~Jordin Sparks,  One Step at a Time.

These are lyrics from one of my favorite songs. For me at this point in my life, I'm going one step at a time. I need this for my healing.  I have my good days and my bad days, but eventually my good days will outweigh my bad days. This part of grieving hurts for me because I want to bypass the pain and feel my best again, but I can't.  This frustrates me, because who wants to continue to feel that pain? I know that in time that it will happen naturally. That's where my relationship with God and staying connected to my support system strengthens me.  There will be times I want my space to be alone, but I don't ever want to completely disconnect with my support. Through this time God is showing me his faithfulness.  He isn't going to leave me.

To anyone who is going through or will go through a difficult time, it is ok to go through the many emotions you will feel. Do not fight the feeling. You need to allow yourself to properly heal.  Lean on God and he will see you through. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Be Gentle with Yourself

I am truly taking life one day at a time. Losing our son so early in my pregnancy has been the most difficult trial of my life.  I have to be gentle with myself.  I have set some fitness goals for myself since I have put on weight. My husband had to remind me that I have been pregnant back to back. During my pregnancies, I had complications that landed me in the ER as well. My energy has been non-existent for many months now so for me, training has been difficult.  I am now motivated and my exercise is a part of my therapy. Through this difficult time, I am learning so much about myself and I know I am scratching the surface. 

My advice to anyone reading this is to take time to evaluate your life and where you are at the current moment.  If you are not satisfied with your situation,  create a plan and do what's needed to make the proper changes.  You have to be patient and be gentle with yourself because everything will not happen on your time. Trust in God and allow him to direct your path.

"Take delight in the Lord , and he will give you the desires of your heart."

Psalm 37:4 NIV

Monday, May 15, 2017

Thank You Mommy and Daddy

This weekend was such a blessing. We didn't do a lot, we just spent time with my parents. I'm at the point in my life where all I want is time because I know how precious it is. I came home to my favorite favorite foods and the foods to satisfy my cravings. She even made sweet tea just for Nygel 😊.  We were Joking and talking with my dad. I enjoyed the fact my hubby spent guy time with him. My parents had things for me to take back home including my Harry Potter book. They still buy things for all of us. Although their children are adults with their own families, they still care for us. They show me time and time again the type of parent I will strive to be. I want Jeremiah and our little sweet pea on the way to know we will always love them and care for them. The job of a parent never ends. Thank you Mommy and Daddy.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

AMPed Life Women Sherena King: Engineer, Queen, and Health Enthusiast. A Real Life Wonder Woman

Photo Courtesy of Sherena King
Sherena, Tell us about yourself.
I work as a QA Validation Oversight employee at a pharmaceutical company.  I’ve been married for 3 years to my husband Xavier.  Together we enjoy world travel, binging on Netflix’s Vampire Diaries, YouTube vlogs and knocking items off of my bucket list.  I also love event planning, playing with textures while interior decorating, collecting Wonder Woman paraphernalia, playing in makeup and transforming my body through different avenues of physical activity.  I’d like to think of myself as a true Jill of All Trades; I am Wonder Woman!!!

Why did you decide to get involved in competing in pageants?
I always wanted to be involved with the entertainment, beauty and/or modeling industry.  I believe pageantry would be an excellent avenue to gain exposure and network with individuals in those industries.

Photo Courtesy of Sherena King
What is your platform and why did you decide to use this platform.?
My platform is “Fighting Obesity through physical fitness and clean eating.” I've struggled with weight my entire life. I know what it's like to be in an obese weight range for my height, so if I can help others then I feel I've done my part. Daily physical activity and clean eating can be hard. It's good to have an accountability partner.

Most people who participate in pageants have coaches, but you decided to go without. Why did you decide to forego a coach?

When I competed for the title of Mrs. United States in 2014, I decided to forego a coach to present an authentic package to the judges.  Without proper coaching and technique I would be sure to standout and be completely myself.  

What skills do you gain when you compete in pageants?

Competing in pageants require you to be physically, socially and intellectually at your best.  I was able to enhance my social skills and strengthen my public speaking abilities.  I was always confident, but presenting my best physique during the swimsuit portion definitely took my confidence to a new level.  

Why is fitness such a big part of your life?
As a young child, I suffered from obesity and grew up to be an overweight young adult.  With extra weight came health problems.  At the age of 16 I was diagnosed with hypertension and had to take medication to control my blood pressure and bring it down to safer levels.  Becoming physically fit has given me a better physique and also keeps me off of the blood pressure medicine I use to take.  

Photo Courtesy of Sherena King
Some people have negative views of women who lift weights.  Has that been a problem for you? What are the usual comments you receive and how do you respond to them?
Fortunately, I haven’t had any problems from those who don’t understand my way of life.  I tend to surround myself with people who understand and see the beauty in women who lift.  However, there’s always that one person who asks if I’ll get too big or too ripped b/c they’re concerned I’ll no longer be feminine and/or pretty.  My usual response to them is, “F your beauty standards!” …and I’ll say it with a smile.

Society has its own standard of beauty.  Has measuring up to those standards been something difficult as a child or an adult? How did you handle societal pressures?
Society tends to be so hard on women.  When I was growing up, the media and magazines I enjoyed promoted women who were tall, very thin (size 0 – 2) with silky straight hair.  That definitely took a toll on me as an African American girl with kinky hair, struggling with her weight.  I was definitely influenced by society’s meaning of beauty; but it wasn’t until after college I dared to be my own type of beautiful.  When you know who you are and whose you are other people’s opinion of you no longer matter.  Self-Validation is the strongest trait a woman can have.  When you can admire another person’s beauty without questioning your own, you can handle the beauty standards society throws at you.    

How do you plan to use your fitness knowledge and your connections and skills? What is your overall goal?

Photo Courtesy of Sherena King
The ultimate goal in the fitness arena of my life is to become a certified personal trainer and obtain a certification in nutrition. I’d use those skills to start a weight loss program for morbidly obese women who lack the finances they need to obtain gym memberships or nutritional advice. I’d also love to teach freelance step and kickboxing classes at various gyms in my community.

How were you able to decide what paths in life you would take? How did your faith play a part of guiding you along the right path?
My family played a huge part in making sure I went off to college and obtained my Engineering degree.  However, my faith in God and my persistent nature are my special superpowers.  When you mix crazy faith with persistence beyond belief, you create a fearless human being not afraid to jump at opportunities.  I let my passions determine my path and I know I can do anything but fail because I have the DNA of Jesus Christ.      
Photo Courtesy of Sherena King

What advice do you have for those out there who want to chase their dream but have not yet?

There’s a reason why certain dreams you have are in the back of your mind and you constantly think about them.  Your dreams are the blueprints to your purpose.  Every day you choose not to pursue your dream you’re missing out on your true purpose and all of the blessings that come along with it!  My advice would be not to wait another day to live a purpose driven life because your purpose is greater than you!  You will be a blessing to so many people by living the dream that God has placed inside your heart.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

AMPed Life Women. Andrian Dennis: Navy Veteran Making Her Mark in Beauty & Glam

Andrian, Tell us about yourself.
Andrian Dennis, Owner of MyArtYourBeauty

My name is Andrian Dennis.  I was born and raised in a small town in South Carolina.  After graduating high school, I joined the United States Navy, where I met my husband and spent 10 years on active duty. We've been married for over 13 1/2 years and have a blended family of seven kids ranging in age from 10 to 21 years old.  There is never a dull moment in the Dennis household, truly LOL.  We decided that I would get out of the Navy to stay at home full time with the kids while he continued to stay active. I always wanted a big family as a kid, I never thought that I would get that and more. I recently started my business in makeup artistry, which I love. 

How do you juggle your responsibilities without becoming overwhelmed? 
Being a military wife and mom as well as a business owner is challenging.  There are times that I get very overwhelmed, but I usually have to schedule out the day and I go by that. It makes my time management easier for me. Getting the kids up and out for school, scheduling clients for a makeup session, doing makeup applications, picking the kids up from school,  and cooking dinner just to do it all over again. Whew! I don't think I would change a thing though.

Why did you decide to launch your makeup business?You know when I decided to start my business, it was so sudden because I really didn't think I was ready. I never thought that this little country girl who made mud pies would have a business that was mine and had a name that I created!  I had family members who were very influential and adamant about me launching the business. They just kept encouraging me and pushing me to do it, so I did.
Photo credit: MyArtYourBeauty

What services do you supply?
The services I supply are full face makeup applications, eyelash applications, beauty tips on skin and makeup products that may be affordable for all women.

What was the most nerve-wracking thing for you during the process of starting your business?I think the most nerve-wracking thing was creating a business page. I felt nauseous for some reason. I was like, "Okay, all of these strangers would see my work, and judge me for it." So I was very self-conscious and afraid of what someone might say negatively.

What is your favorite thing about having your makeup business?The most favorite thing about having my business is I get to make my clients beautiful.  When they take that last look in the mirror after I'm done with their makeup application and see the transformation, that smile from ear to ear let's me know that I've done my best at my job.

Photo credit: MyArtYourBeauty
What advice do you have for those who want to chase their dream?
The advice I want to give is whatever your dream may be, you should never give up in trying to pursue it.  Work hard, stay focused, ignore the negativity, keep praying, and believe in yourself.  Life in itself can have its road blocks, self-doubt, and the feeling that it all may not be worth it.  Just know that anything is possible, it may not come on your timing, but when the time is right it will.

How can people can people get in contact with you?
I can be reached through my social media.  

Business Facebook: MyArtYourBeauty
Business Instagram: @MyArtYourBeauty 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Participation in the Women's March

I heard the details of the Women's March on Washington when three women, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sasour went on the Breakfast Club Morning Show to speak about their involvement with the march.  The ladies spoke about how the march started with a woman from Hawaii inviting her friends to go D.C. to march and the event went viral.
                I was not able to participate in the Women's March on Washington D.C., but I participated in the Women's March On Charlotte, NC. At the march, I was surrounded by what I felt as genuine respect given by men, women, and children of all colors and backgrounds.  I received hugs and high fives from strangers.  There were signs not just for women's rights, but for human rights.  The atmosphere was energizing and powerful. When I got home, I watched videos of people across the country and around the world marching.  I want this energy for change to continue. 

               For me, it did not matter who started the march,  I look at this as an opportunity to spark change for all people.  I look at this moment as an opportunity to create dialogue with people of different ethnicities and backgrounds.  I look at this as a time in our country where we can talk to people about our struggles.  This could be the time where those who initially were closed minded would actually be open to listening and acknowledging things like racism and sexism exist. 

               We should hold each other accountable for lack of action when injustice takes place against anyone. I truly believe this what former President Obama wanted in inspiring hope and change.  My experience was empowering and motivating, and it has pushed me to further think about how I can impact my community.