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Spotlight on Nicole Donaldson Vol. 003

Nicole-Faith Girls Rock

Nicole Donaldson is a woman that wears multiple hats all while being a wife and mother of 4. She has been involved with fitness at different levels since she began running track and cross country in middle school.  As a former Track & Field standout and mother of four, she understands the important role that health and nutrition play in their lives.  She stays active by competing in 5ks, ½ marathons, triathlons and fitness competitions.

Nicole holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Tennessee State University and holds certifications in personal training, sports nutrition and CPR.  Some of her other accomplishments include: USATF certified official, Got Chocolate Milk Team – sponsored athlete, Country Music Marathon 1/2 pacer and finisher, NPC Fitness competitor, Health and Wellness speaker, Track and Field Symposium speaker. 

No matter how busy Nicole’s days get, her primary focus is to encourage others to live the lives God created them to live by taking care of themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.  One way that she does this is as a Fit After 40 Fitness encourager.

Nicole provides in-home group training.  Email her for more information at FamilyFitMom@gmail.com  You can follow her on Instagram at Family Fit Mom.

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Rolita: Hello Nicole.  I am honored that you will give of your time and allow me to interview you.  So, for my first question, “When you were a little girl, how did your environment – whether your home, school or your church affect your view of beauty?”

Nicole: Well, as a young girl, it’s funny I don’t even remember thinking about whether I was beautiful or whether I was not.  Growing up, I grew up in church.  I had a wonderful family and didn’t really think about it much until my parents divorced when I was 11.  We moved to Seattle – totally different environment.  And it wasn’t until we moved, and someone said something about me being African-American and not liking the way I look–   Just really not being very nice to me that I realized, oh maybe I’m not cute.  Maybe I’m not beautiful.  Maybe there is something wrong with me.  Maybe what makes me different is not good because it was predominantly a white area at the time.  And that was the first time that I really even thought about being beautiful or not being beautiful or not being accepted.  And I didn’t really get a grasp of it until I got introduced to track and field.  And I began running track and didn’t think about it anymore until we moved back to Nashville when I was a teenager in eighth grade and began being compared to other people in my family.  And being asked, “Well, why don’t you do what they do?  Why don’t you wear what they wear?”  Because of that, I really started to take notice again of beauty means that I have to look a certain way.  I have to do a certain thing.  I have to dress a certain way.  So, my self-esteem took a nose dive between the ages of 10 and 14 based on other people’s perceptions.    

Rolita: Ok, so when that first incident happened, you were 10 years old?

Nicole: Yes, I was 10 when we moved to Seattle.

Rolita: When you moved back to Nashville, how old were you then?

Nicole: Between 13– I’m trying to think.  I was in the eighth grade.  So, between 13, 14.

Rolita: So now, during that time did you compare yourself to others or was it more of the other people doing the comparing?  Like you said, “Why don’t you look like this?  Why don’t you do that?”

Nicole: Absolutely.  It was both.  It started out being other people.  I grew up in a family of mostly women who in my eyes were beautiful and who did great things, who dressed to the nines all the time.  We were all cheerleaders.  You know, what you would consider the popular crowd or the popular kids or the cool kids.  And I remember I ran track.  I was a cheerleader, but track was my heart.  So, I had ponytails all the time.  I wore my hair pulled back.  I liked jogging pants.  I liked tennis shoes.  And I remember distinctly a time in high school that my aunt who is two years older than me, we both had the same pair of pants.  And she wore them what was considered more stylish– in a more stylish fashion than I wore them.  And I remember being compared by other people.  Not by my family, but by other people.  And I remember how I felt.  And I immediately thought, “Oh, so I’m obviously wrong or my style is obviously wrong.  So, I need to emulate what they’re doing or what they think is right.”  And from that point on, I started comparing – not just myself to my family members, but myself to what other people wore, how they wore it.  If their hair was a certain way, did my hair have to be like that?  And it became kind of a cycle of comparison in trying to keep up with what everyone else was doing so that I could be validated and accepted by others in the wrong way.

Rolita: So, what I heard you say basically was you had enough self-confidence before other people started saying things.  First, when you moved to Seattle and they said the things that they said.  Then, you moved to Nashville and there became this comparison to your family members which caused your esteem – like you said – to actually go down.

Nicole: Yes.  That’s right.

Rolita: So, how did your view about beauty in the past affect your relationships with other people that said those things, and even your family member?  Did it suffer as a result of your view about beauty changing and even your esteem changing?

Nicole: My relationship with my family member didn’t change at all.  It was just more of how I viewed myself and how I wanted to emulate what other people were doing.  My family unit stayed great.  But, it was more of me being in situations and feeling like in order to fit into this crowd, I need to dress this way.  I need to do things this way.  And so, my relationships all became really superficial and not really true relationships.  People didn’t really get to see who I really was.  And honestly, I didn’t really get to see who I really was because I was so busy trying to be what other people said was beautiful for a point of time. 

Rolita: So, those were the people outside of your family like you said?  

Nicole: Yes.  You know the peer groups in high school?  You know there are so many different groups.  They’re always kind of the cool kids, the popular kids, the trendy kids.  You know how high school is set up.  There are so many different facets of high school life.  I can say that I was able to flow through many different areas because I was a cheerleader and because I ran track and because I did well in school.  That allowed me to have several different pockets of friends.  But, I don’t feel like I allowed myself to be completely true to myself in any of those pockets because I just learned how to navigate life being what other people told me beauty should be or who I should be in every different area.

Rolita: On that note, I have another question because I’m looking at what you’ve accomplished through the years.  You are heavily into fitness.  Just to name a few, you are a Got Chocolate Milk Team sponsored athlete.  A Country Music Marathon pacer and finisher for several years.  You finished as a NPC fitness competitor.  Health & Wellness speaker.  Track & Field Symposium speaker.  I mean, oh my goodness!  Come on Nicole.  So tell me at what point – there had to be a turning point – and when was that?

Nicole: There have been several turning points in my life for sure.  And the entrance of track and field into my life definitely gave me a place to really become all that I was supposed to be or what I think God purposed in me.  I really believe my senior year of high school is really the first point that I kind of started to change the way that I thought and began to realize that even though I’m a member of my family, just because I’m not like everyone in my family doesn’t mean that God didn’t have a purpose for me.  My purpose was to reach people in a different way.  And that was at that time through track and field.  I began to see that although other people are saying that I should dress up more and I should do other stuff, my family is supporting me through everything.  My family is here.  My family is not critical.  My family loves me.  And because of our foundation in Christ, they helped me realize that I was made for a purpose.  I’m a different puzzle piece of our family that just happens to do something different.  That I should celebrate that and be happy about that.  And I think that was really the turning point to continue to excel in track.  Getting an athletic scholarship.  Being successful enough to be able to go on to college by doing something that nobody else in my family did, as far as being an athlete.  And it’s just kind of carried on from there.  At different stages of my life, I’ve realized that I’m supposed to reach people through fitness.  So even though I went on through college and I’ve graduated, God gave me an opening in order to begin to encourage women through fitness and through running and creating running groups.  But while I’m helping them train for the running groups, I’m also encouraging them in other areas of their lives to do things that they didn’t think they could do.  I encourage them to be beautiful just the way they’re made, and to continue to excel in those different areas and not think that they have to be just like me or anybody else. 

I’m a different puzzle piece of our family that just happens to do something different.

Rolita: So, what does beauty mean to you now?

Nicole: Oh, beauty is totally different to me now.  Beauty does not mean clothes.  Beauty does not mean the latest hair style.  Beauty means learning to accept yourself instead of only accepting yourself when you receive acceptance from others.  Beauty – I believe – totally radiates from within.  No matter what I have on, I get the most compliments from people when I smile and say, “Hello.”  I mean I can be coming from the gym, sweaty, stinky, hat on and I can smile at someone and say, “Hi.  How are you doing?” and get a great response.  I can be dressed to the nines, smile and say, “How are you doing?” and I’ve gotten more compliments on my smile than I’ve gotten on my clothing.  And I think it’s because of what radiates from within me and I really believe that it comes out through my smile and confidence and personality when I present myself to another person.

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Rolita: Yes!  Great!  What do you think about society’s standard of beauty today and how it affects young girls and women?  

Nicole: Well, now I have my own daughter.  And the things that she deals with already through social media and different things just surrounding beauty and what you need to look like – if you’re thin enough or if you have the right name brand on – is very alarming to me.  She has a natural small frame.  I’ll never forget she had a young lady over at the time, who was probably 8 ask her, “How do you stay so slim?  I am so fat.  I want to be slim like you.”  And the 8-year-old wasn’t even close to being fat or anything.  You know.  But they look at beauty now so early and think beauty is a shape or clothing or something else.  And that’s really disheartening to me. 

Rolita: She was 8-years-old at the time.  Wow!  Do you know what your daughter’s response was?  Did she tell you?

Nicole: She was so young.  And I was actually in the room when it occurred.  I was just kinda eaves-dropping – kinda listening.  She said, “That’s just the way I’m made.  You know people are made different.”  Then I stepped in and said, “You know we’re all beautiful – all different shapes, all different sizes, shades.  You know everything about us is different.”  I just went along with what my daughter said, “We’re all made differently and you’re perfect just the way you are.” 

Rolita: Wow!  That’s amazing.  I know you probably read a little of what I wrote about the overwhelming focus that is on our young girls and our women.  It’s not just the young girls.  It’s not just those that are 8-years-old or even 18-years-old.  There are women who are in their 20s, 30s, 40s and even 50s who struggle with beauty.  They struggle with the way society looks at us. You know the standard that society has set with beauty and what they measure it against with the entertainment industry and with the fashion industry.  I say it’s really almost an impossible standard to live up to like the 8-year-old was measuring herself.

Nicole: Yes.  Well, it’s definitely an impossible standard when you think if we’re looking up to people in magazines and people on TV.  They have been styled and especially in a magazine.  Some of the clothes that they have on are pinched in the back.  They’re pinned up.  They’re duct taped under.  I mean the finish product that you get, if they turned around or if they did something different, you’d be shocked about how it really looks.  The make-up.  They’re sitting in the make-up chair for hours just to get the right look.  Lightening skin.  Contouring their noses.  Different things with all the different make-up techniques.  And then it goes so far as on print images, they’re distorting the images after the picture has been taken.  So, we’re holding up a false since of reality and then thinking that we’re supposed to look like something that isn’t even real.  It’s impossible to emulate because the person on the picture didn’t even look like that before they put the make-up on, before they put the clothes on or before they were digitally imaged.  So they don’t even look like the false picture that we’re trying to look like and that’s disheartening.

Rolita: Mmm.  Now you’re talking close to my heart right there.  There is so much enhancing that is going on.  That is why God has put it in my heart to use this platform to reach out to the young girls and women to let them know there’s another standard in which we have to live up to – radiating inner beauty.  That’s why when you touched on that, it blessed me because I understand your faith.  As a matter of fact, Nicole and I attended the same church at one time.  She is actually one of my sisters in the Lord.  So, I want to ask you what does radiating Christ beauty mean to you.

Nicole: I think radiating Christ’s beauty – what it truly means is radiating the love of Christ.  Radiating all that God has placed in you.  Taking what He has given you and giving that back.  And that can mean different things to different people.  That can mean–  For me, I am a natural encourager.  I think that I need to speak and smile to everyone I come across because they may not have gotten a hi or smile for the day.  That’s how I radiate Christ.  It’s just to naturally do that.  There are other people who may radiate the love of Christ by buying someone a meal, by buying someone some clothing, by serving somewhere.  I think it’s different for everyone and that’s why it’s so crucial that everyone finds their place in the body of Christ and figures out what their purpose is.  For others it may be speaking, doing several speaking engagements a year.  You know, it’s different for everyone that’s why everyone is needed.  And that’s why everybody has to figure out what their purpose is, what they’re put here to do and not be so bent on fitting in and trying to be like other people.  If you’re trying to be like so many other people, you’re going to miss the people that you’re supposed to touch because Christ put you here to touch a particular section of people.  And without you figuring that out, that whole section of people may be missed for a time until someone else takes on your assignment because you were out of place.  Because you were not walking in your purpose and not radiating Christ’s love through you to reach others.

Rolita: Yes!  Right.  I know you had the sons first and your daughter is the youngest.  So I know the dynamics of the house shifted once the little girl came. (Laughing)

Nicole: Oh, mightily. (Laughing) Very different.  

Rolita: Did you find yourself, now as the mother of a daughter, maybe you had to change some things?  Do you know what I mean?  Because now you are a role model to a little girl. 

Nicole: Oh!  You know what?  I can’t even tell you how much my life has changed in these years as I’ve watched her watch me.  And realized that – oh my goodness – I do that?  Oh, I might need to not do that.  She watches me so closely and wants to do everything that I do.  That’s given me a heightened sense of awareness that even if I’m not speaking anything, my actions speak volumes.  Like even to putting on make-up or perming my hair or doing different things.  She’ll ask, “Why are you putting on foundation?  Do you not like that about you?”  “Why are you putting on eye shadow today?  You didn’t put it on yesterday.  Where are you going?  Why do you need to look better today than you did yesterday?”  And it made me think, oh why am I putting it on?  And when I put on make-up it still looks natural.  But, I’m more aware now.  I’m like, can I go to the store without make-up on?  Thankfully I can.  I mean it doesn’t bother me, but she’s made me more aware.  And even to the straightening of our hair.  She has beautiful curly hair.  And I use to have a perm.  It’s grown out now, but I always kind of say, “You know what?  I think I want my hair straight again.”  She’ll say, “Well, I’m never perming my hair because my hair is beautiful curly and I like it just the way it is.”  There’s nothing wrong with a perm.  There’s nothing wrong with curly hair.  But, I felt so good with her not feeling like, I need to have straight hair or I need to have hair a certain way.  She’s really embraced her curly natural hair and likes it that way.  She’ll have a choice to do either way, but she doesn’t feel like she has to become a certain thing to fit in.  And I love that.  I wish I could say everything I do is perfect and affects her that way.  But I can’t say that it is.  But, I do feel that she has a true sense of self and what she thinks is beautiful.  But, I have to be very aware of what I say.  If I say, “Oh, my goodness.  Do I look fat in this?  Or, do I look too skinny?”  I have to be very conscious of all of that especially being in the health and fitness industry.  I tell her, “You know we work out and we stay in shape to be healthy.  We don’t want to be sick.”  You know my mom died before she was 50.  My grandmother died early.  So, we work out to be healthy not just to fit into a swimsuit or to be a size 2 or a size 0.  You know it’s not about the size.  It’s about how you feel.  So I have to be very cautious in all areas with her.

Rolita: I have one last question.  This is for my own personal knowledge.  Where can we find the “Got Chocolate Milk?”  Do they have posters?  That was a big thing with the “Got Chocolate Milk?” campaign.  I personally love that photo.  When I found out that you were picked, I was shouting, “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!”  I was so excited that I didn’t know what to do.  (Laughing)

Nicole: (Laughing)  Thank you.  You know what?  They don’t have a particular poster or anything of me in particular.  But, I will be wearing “Chocolate Milk” attire when I do have marathons and things.  They have tents and booths at the marathon that we meet up with for that.  There may be a few pictures posted on my Instagram, which is Family Fit Mom, whenever I do things as a Chocolate Milk sponsored athlete.  You can find me there.  Family Fit Mom is probably the easiest way to find me because it is not a private Instagram.  You get to see all of the crazy different stuff and clothing that I put on there from time to time.   Nicole-Got Chocolate Milk

Rolita: Ok.  Great!  Thank you so much Nicole Donaldson.  You are a fabulous, wonderful, fit mom.  This has been a joy for me and I am inspired. ♥

Copyright by A. Rolita Adams

All worldwide rights reserved.

 

 

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Spotlight on Valerie Priester, Vol. 002

Valerie Priester Headshot

Radiate Inner Beauty’s spotlight is shining on Valerie Priester.  Valerie is the CEO & Founder of Victorious Life Coaching, a Certified Business & Life Strategist, a Certified Les Brown Coach – Speaker – Trainer, Les Brown Institute Ambassador, a Motivational Speaker, and an Amazon Best-Selling Author.  Valerie is passionate about mentoring and awakening the inner spirit and confidence of women who aspire to become heart-centered coaches and create profitable coaching businesses.  Valerie provides business and personal development coaching.  She has had years of success empowering women to Design Their Victory, so they can Live Their Dreams.  Visit Valerie’s website at http://www.ValeriePriester.com/

Rolita: Valerie Priester is a life coach through and through.  Let me tell you that.  We are going to get down to business because she has a wealth of knowledge.  Valerie empowers women and so this is right up her alley.  She is going to empower women as we talk about beauty.  Valerie, thank you for setting aside time for me to interview you.  My first question is, when you were a little girl, how did your environment whether it was home, school or church affect your view about beauty? 

Valerie: Thank you so much for having me, Rolita.  I am so excited to be here.  My environment was one where we weren’t rich.  We were poor, but we didn’t know we were poor.  But my grandmother is the one that raised me.  Actually, my mother’s mom and my father’s mom did.  But, they always made sure that I looked good no matter what.  I mean we had some of the prettiest clothes.  I had a first cousin that was raised with me and so they would always dress us alike.  People would think that we were twins.  We would always be dressed alike.  So they always made sure that I looked good.  So if I had to say about my environment, it taught me that women were meant to be beautiful.  It didn’t teach me any negatives as it related to beauty and how we look.  But, one thing I remember from the environment mainly, is how television portrayed beauty.  And back then you know you didn’t – because I’m in my 50s, so let me clarify that – back then you didn’t see a whole lot of exposure on television.  But what you did see were, you know, the nice figures of women and they were dressed appropriately.  But, it would always be where you could see the shapes of their figures.  So for me that kind of formed what beauty should look like.  As it does I think with most girls at that age.  We’re looking at something.  We’re looking at society that shows us this is what beauty should look like.  And one of the things I know is that I was always a little chubby as a young girl and my cousin was always the thin one.  So part of that kind of built my environment too and made me start thinking that I need to be thinner in order to be beautiful.  So all of that was kind of wrapped up in how my environment was when it came to beauty.  And I think even at an early age I started thinking about, “I’ve got to be thinner.  I’ve got to be thinner.”  So that played a big role in it.

Rolita: Do you remember how old you were?

Valerie: I want to say I was probably about 8 or 9-years-old that I started to really realize this whole thing about beauty and what beauty really is or what society said beauty was. 

Rolita: It’s so interesting that you said that because my next question is, did you compare yourself to other girls?  Automatically, you’re telling me that yes, it was your cousin that you compared yourself to.  But, my question with that is, how did you feel after you compared yourself to your cousin?

Valerie: It would make me feel like I was less than or I was not as important because my cousin was the one who was real popular too.  Everybody loved my first cousin.  They loved her.  Her name was Connie and she had loads of friends.  I had friends but I think because of me comparing myself to her and other girls who were thinner, I put myself in a position where I probably withdrew and didn’t make friends as readily as she did.  Because in my mind I’m thinking I’ve got to be thin.  You know?  I’ve got to look like the rest of the girls in order to have the friends that they have.  You know that’s not true.  But, in my 9-year-old mind that’s what I’m thinking.  So I watched her be this popular girl and she loved fashion.  She loved to dress even when she was 9-years-old.  Well she was 10.  She was one year older than me.  So it really made me feel like I was missing something.  Like I didn’t have everything that I needed because I wasn’t this thin person like so many of my classmates and my friends.

Rolita: You said that’s the way it made you–

Valerie: That’s the way it made me feel like I was missing something.  In order for me to have what they had.  The popularity.  All the friends and all that, I had to be thin.  I had to have this certain body structure in order to have the same things I thought they had.

Rolita: You know I find that that’s important.  I’m going to pull that part out because you said that’s what you thought.  That’s what you did.  That you did the comparison and that’s the way it made you feel.  And so I want young girls to understand that sometimes we can do that to ourselves even if nobody else is doing that.  We can do that to ourselves because of the things that we see.  Whether it’s on television.  Whether it’s in the newspaper.  Do they still have newspapers?  Yes.  Magazines.  Internet.  Whatever it is.  That – more often than not – that is what we are doing to ourselves.

Valerie: Absolutely, it comes from us.  Honestly, cause you know I’m the mindset lady.  Even as a child, we build up in our minds what we think other people are thinking and what we think other people are saying about us.  Most of the time, none of that is true.  It’s what we’ve built up in our minds to believe.  And so no matter what the other people do, we associate that with, “Oh yeah. That’s because they’re thinking I’m less than.  So that’s why they’re treating me like that.”  In fact, it may be something totally different and so unassociated with what we think it is.  So it’s always built up in our minds how we perceive other people are seeing us.  So here I am thinking that well, I’ve got to be thin and I’ve got to have this to be popular and this, that and the other.  But, when I really think about it, I probably had just as many friends as my cousin.    A lot of our friends were the same.  So I probably had just as many friends as she did.  But, I didn’t see it that way because my mind kept telling me I have to be thin.  I have to fit a certain body structure in order to have what I perceived she had and I didn’t.  But, I probably did have it.

Rolita: Ok.  Now on that note, how did what you thought about yourself affect the relationships that you had?  Because you compared yourself to your cousin.  How did that affect your relationship with your cousin?  How did that affect the relationship with your friends?

Valerie: Oh, good question.  Good question.  I would say the relationship with my cousin and how it affected it is not in a negative way.  It was more in a positive way.  I always looked up to her.  So she was kind of my role model.  She was the one that I looked to more so than what I saw on television or what I saw in magazines or newspapers or anything.  It was her.  I would look up to her.  And so I would want to be like her.  I would want to dress like her and you know, just look like her physically.  And so it was good for that relationship.  But now other relationships like – umm – let’s say boys. (Laughing)

Rolita: (Laughing) Yes!  Let’s say boys!  Boys!

Valerie: Boys came into my life probably around the age 13.  So how it affected those relationships was I always felt like I was less than.  So I always felt like I had to give more, do more to hold the attention of the boys.  So of course, we’d get into some things that may not have been all proper and primmer.  But, that’s what happens when you talk about how it affects your relationships.  And so I was constantly feeling like I had to do more.  I had to go the extra step than the girls that were thin and were considered to be pretty.  I had to do more in order to hold the attention of the guys. 

Rolita: Ok.  So what does beauty mean to you now?

Valerie: Mmm.  Now?  Oh my goodness!  Fifty something years later?  Beauty to me now is more about (pause)

Rolita: Honestly.

Valerie: Honestly.  It is really more about your inner self.  It’s really more about the relationship you have with yourself.  How much do you love yourself?  How much do you appreciate yourself?  No matter your size.  No matter how you look.  No matter your skin tone.  None of that is relevant.  But, it’s about how do you really feel about yourself.  So to me beauty is an inner thing more than it is an outer thing.  Not only how do you feel about yourself but, how do you know yourself?  Who do you know yourself to be?  We all know that we’re in the likeness and image of Christ.  Do you really feel that from deep within because that’s where the beauty really is in who you are.

Rolita: Ok. So now because I know you are the mindset lady and you’re Victorious Life Coaching.  I want people to get in on your coaching.  I just want people to experience a little bit of it because I heard what you said about beauty and everything.  But, how do you get from that young lady – that young girl – who views herself as chubbier and compares herself to her thinner cousin?  How do you get from that place to where you are now?  How do you shift that mindset?

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Valerie Priester speaking at a Word of Mouth Entrepreneurial Networkers (WOMEN) networking event.

Valerie: How do you make that transition?  It starts with – I believe – really getting honest with yourself about how do you feel about you.  What are the things that you really say about yourself?  What are the things that you really think about yourself?  I believe that it starts by getting real honest about that.  Because a lot of times, we don’t get honest about how we really feel about ourselves.  No one else.  About us.  And if when you look in the mirror, you don’t like that your thighs are a little bit bigger than you want them to be, how do you really feel about that?  Because if you’re feeling in any way a negative feeling associated with that, then you’ve got to first look at – I’ve got to clean that up about me.  So I have to shift that and say, “Ok.  What is it that I appreciate about me?  What is it that I love about my thighs even though they may not be the size that I want them to be.  I appreciate the fact that my thighs have brought me to this place in life.  My thighs have been there to support me.  My hips have been there to support me.  My hips were there to help me bear and birth when I gave birth to my child.”  That’s one of the things that we can appreciate about who we are and how we look.  And when you get real clear on that and you start loving on yourself from that place; instead of criticizing ourselves because we’re not thin.  We’re not a size 6.  We’re not a size 8.  You may be a size 14.  But there’s something to love about that size 14.    So you get clear about that.  How do I really really feel?  And then you have to start the study process.  To me the study process is really getting clear about what does God say about you?  What does He say about you?  Who does He say you are?  How did He create you?  Does He not say that He made us fearfully and wonderfully?  Does He not say that He created us in His image and His likeness?  So how can we then take this person that we see in the mirror and say that we’re less than, or we don’t have enough, or we’re not enough, when we’re created in His image and His likeness.  So you’ve got to get a real understanding of who you really are as it relates to what Christ says about you.

Rolita: Ok.  I’m pulling her back.  I’m pulling you back. (Laughing)

Valerie: I’m trying not to preach to ya’ll. (Laughing)

Rolita: I know.  (Laughing) But, it’s such a full topic even when I’m talking to women when I’m just setting up the interviews.  They’re just so full about this topic and it can just go on and on.  We can just talk.  Now I’ve got to shift and ask you, what do you think about society’s standard of beauty today and how it affects young girls and women?

Valerie: I will say this.  I have watched society’s standard of beauty kind of take a shift.  Let’s say over – I want to say over the last 4 or 5 years.  Now if you asked me this 4 or 5 years ago, I would tell you that society’s standard of beauty has always been artificial.  It’s always been that you’ve got to look like a Barbie doll.  We all know that Barbie is artificial.  Barbie is 36-24-36.  She is perfect in size.  And that was always society’s view of what beauty should look like.  Even to the point where it should be blonde hair, blue eyes and that’s beauty.  But I think over the last 4 or 5 years society has begun to make a shift.  It’s slow, but it’s shifting in that it recognizes beauty in all shapes, sizes and color.  And one of the ways that you can really see this is when you look at Dove.  I think Dove was the leader in showing that women can be beautiful no matter how they look.  No matter what size they are.  No matter what color they are.  And they had that whole campaign to show that beauty comes in all different sizes, shapes and forms and colors.  And so I think society is slowly beginning to follow that because another thing that you’ll notice is in our women of color.  No longer is it shown more in society on television that our hair has to be straight.  Our hair has to be processed.  Our hair has to look like our Caucasian females.  Now what you see in advertising; on television, on brochures, anywhere you look now- I even see it like when you’re in Walmart and you see a bank in Walmart.  There’s a banner that’s advertising the bank.  There’s an African-American woman on that banner and her hair is natural.  So you’re beginning to see more of that when you see African-American women in advertisements.  Most of them now – I’m gonna say probably 80% of them now – have natural hair.  So society is slowly following and showing that our beauty is in everything.  No matter how we look.  No matter how we wear our hair and we don’t have to fix our hair like our Caucasian counterparts to be considered beautiful.

Rolita: That is true, and I agree.  Dove * is one of the brands I was actually intrigued by because my heart is in beauty.  My mom was a cosmetologist for years.  We saw her arching her eye brows and hair removal and all of that.  That was her background and that was her training.  She modeled that in front of my sister and me.  It was just our lives.  So to see them (Dove) do this whole campaign to reach out to women was really dear and near to my heart.  I do know that they did a study.  I’m just going to throw that in there because I have been researching this a little bit more.  They found that 72% of the thousands of young girls and women that they surveyed still struggle with beauty.  They don’t even really view themselves as being beautiful.  And the women – and we’re not talking about little girls – the women may be able to see the beauty in someone else, but a lot of times we don’t see that beauty in ourselves.  So I think it’s important to have mindset shifts like you said.    

Valerie: Rolita, let me say this.  A lot of the reasons why we still struggle especially women with our self-image is because we haven’t dealt with the things that really created our self-image.  The deeper things.  There’s still a lot of deeper stuff that women haven’t dealt with and they’re holding on to and that’s what drives their self-image.  Cause let’s face it.  Your self-image is created from when you were a child.  So there’s a lot of stuff that women are still suppressing and not allowing to come to the surface, so they can get real about it – they can get honest about it.  And then, definitely confront it and eliminate it.  And that’s what keeps them stuck and not feeling like or not knowing that they’re beautiful.  Because they’re still holding on to all that stuff from their past.

Rolita: And see that’s why it is important that people understand that’s why we have life coaches.  They don’t do it for you.  But just think of it like a coach for a football team or a basketball team.  They’re gonna get in your face and their gonna say, “Hey!  You’re gonna have to do the work.  Now I’m here to help you do the work.  I can lay out the program for you – write the plan.  But, you’ve got to get out here and you’ve got to do the work to make the wins in life that you need to make. 

Valerie: Absolutely, because as a life coach it’s not our responsibility to make the decisions for you.  It’s our responsibility to bring you to your truth.  Whatever your truth is.  And a lot of times, women and men but, women don’t know how to find that truth.  They don’t know how to find the root of what caused me to think that I’m less than.  What’s the root of what caused me to think that I’m not beautiful – that my dark skin is not beautiful?  That maybe my gap in my front teeth is not beautiful.  That maybe my eyes are not beautiful because they are too slanted or they’re too big or my nose is too big.  All of that stuff.  They don’t know how to get to the root of what made them think that to begin with.  And until they know how to get to that root, they can’t resolve their self-image problems.  They’ll struggle with it.  And so no matter how much other people tell them, “You’re beautiful.  You’re gorgeous.”  Cause I’ve got some friends.  I’ve got some people that I know that are absolutely drop-dead gorgeous but when you talk to them, they tell you that they don’t feel that way.  They don’t feel like they’re beautiful and that’s because of all the stuff underneath that they haven’t dealt with.  So a life coach can help you really dig up that stuff.

Rolita: Ok.  I want to get this question out.  I know that I’m springing this one on you.  But, what do you think is the cost to not digging in there and doing the work, finding the root cause of why?  Why do I react like this?  Why don’t I think that?  And for the record, I know we throw the words self-esteem out there a lot, but I’m not talking about being haughty.  You understand what I mean?  I’m not saying being so conceited that you’re scornful and you look down to other people.  What’s the cost for not doing the work where you at least think that you’re valuable enough, first of all, in God’s eyes?  And then, to think that you’re valuable enough to make a resounding, positive impact in the world?

Valerie: Ooh.  Loaded question.  Loaded question Rolita!  Oh my goodness!  Let me tell you this.  When you talk about what’s the cost.  Oh my goodness!  The cost is your relationships with anyone.  It can be your relationship with your children.  It can be your relationship with your parents.  It can be your relationship with your friends.  Authority figures.  Any relationship – that’s the cost because you cannot be in a relationship if you do not value yourself.  So every single relationship that you’re involved in is going to suffer because you’re going to take these people and you’re going to place a burden on them to help prove your worth, to help validate you, to help confirm that you are worthy.  And that is a huge burden to place on somebody else.  That’s just part of the cost.  The other part of the cost is you never step out into your purpose.  You never step out and do the thing that God has called you to do because you don’t feel like you are worthy of it.  You don’t feel like you’re good enough.  You don’t feel like you’re smart enough.  You’re not pretty enough.  All of that stuff plays around in your head and you never make the step.  And so because you never make the step and go where God is calling you to go and do what God is calling you to do– guess what?  There are thousands – millions maybe – people who cannot make the step because you’re the one that’s supposed to lead them.  So you ask me the cost?  Oh my goodness!  The cost is astronomical.  You can’t even put a price on it because it is your entire life and the lives of maybe millions of other people that you’re supposed to impact.  All starting with your self-image of yourself.  What you feel about yourself.  Your worth.  Your value.  Cause if you don’t get a handle on that–   If you don’t get a hold of who you really are and know who you are and step fully in that, all of those millions of people can’t do it either because they’re waiting for you.  A life coach that I had years ago told me that and it has stuck with me to this day.  And I think it may have been like 9 or 10 years ago that I had this life coach.  And she told me, “People are waiting for you.”  And so every time I get into a place where I feel like, ”Oh you’re not smart enough to do that,” or “Ooh, you don’t have everything it takes to do that.”  Her words ring back in my soul, “People are waiting for you.  People are waiting for you.”  And it’s not about waiting until you get completely whole.  It’s about taking the step anyway.  If you take the step to make sure that you’re correct in your self-image, and what you feel about yourself, and how you value yourself in knowing that you’re worthy, take the first step.  Get help in doing that.  And when you take that first step, guess what?  Reach back and help somebody else cause they’re waiting on you.  They’re waiting on you.  So even if you’re two steps ahead, you still can help somebody else.  Alright!  See, you opened the door. (Laughing)

20170103_191926
Valerie Priester speaking at a Word of Mouth Entrepreneurial Networkers (WOMEN) networking event.

Rolita: Ooh!  (Laughing) Ok, ya’ll.  I got to pull her back.  Let me say this.  Because what I heard was Victorious Life Coaching – The Mindset Lady, has a life coach.  I just want to make that clear.

Valerie: Yes, always.  I am a product of my product.  I believe in coaching because coaching can help you take the steps that you’re afraid to take.  It can help you eliminate the fear and the doubt and the unbelief that keeps you stuck in the same place year after year.  Year after year you keep struggling with the same thing.  You go so far and you stop.  You go so far and you quit on yourself.  You go so far and you feel like, “Oh, I can’t do this.  I’m not made to do this.  I don’t have what it takes to do this.”  A coach will keep you moving.  They won’t do the work as you said, but they’ll keep you moving so that you continue to do the work.  And the greatest thing about a coach is they’re the people who take your hand and let you know you’re not alone.  They’re the people that will take your hand and guide you and lead you on the path that you say you want to take.  Because it’s not about my path.  It’s about your path.  It’s about that burning desire that’s deep within you that you say you want to do – that you say that God has called you to do.  You know what that is.  I’m here to walk the path with you.  And so many times we don’t start out on that path because we feel like we’re alone and we don’t have anybody to go with us.  A coach goes with you.  A coach believes in you.  A coach reminds you of who you really are when you get in those moments when you doubt.  “I can’t do this.  I don’t know if I can do this.”  The coach comes along and says, “Yes you can.  Yes, you can because you have everything you need.”  Don’t get me started. (Laughing)

Rolita: (Laughing) You already started.  You know this platform is for Christian women.  You know my heart.  So it’s for Christian women, but it’s also for women who are seeking spiritual answers.  So with that being said, I ask the question, what does radiating Christ’s beauty mean to you?

Valerie: Radiating Christ’s beauty means to me, you being all that God has created you to be.  You fully walking in that.  Walking in your authority.  Taking authority.  Ownership of what God says you are to be, to do and to have.  That’s Christ’s beauty.  And when you walk in that – when you fully take ownership of that and you fully take the authority that’s already been given to you, and when you walk in that, that radiates Christ’s beauty.  Because what people will see in you is the very thing that God has placed in you that He wants you to get out and that He wants you to share and impact the lives of others.  But you have to first take the step and walk in the authority.  That’s Christ beauty. 

Rolita: Yes!  Wow!  Again, thank you, Valerie, for allowing me to interview you.  It has been powerful.  Valerie Priester of Victorious Life Coaching.  She is considered The Mindset Lady because she will help you shift your mind to get your work out there.  Let’s get your work into the world, so God will say, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.” ♥

Copyright by A. Rolita Adams

All worldwide rights reserved.

* Dove, Unilever’s largest beauty brand, did a study in 2004 and revisited the same topic in 2014 on its subject, The Real Truth About Beauty

 

Radiate Inner Beauty Intro. Vol. 001

SETTING THE FOUNDATIONS ~

Welcome to Radiate Inner Beauty!  These blog articles will shine a spotlight on women trailblazers for Christ.  When I interview them, I ask them a few core questions about beauty.  So, I thought it’s only fair that I give readers insight about my life in the same areas that I go deep with the women.  Let’s start by discussing how my childhood environment laid the foundation for my view on what is beauty. 

My mother was a licensed cosmetologist. (That’s her beauty college graduation picture at the top.)  She concentrated on hair care.  A lot of people may not know this, but while in school, student cosmetologists are also taught the basics in other areas like skin care, make-up artistry and nail care.  My sister and I saw our mother do others’ hair, but we also saw her take care of herself.  We saw her groom herself.  That involved tweezing her eye brows, hair removal, manicures and pedicures.  She also shampooed, cut and styled her own hair.  I don’t think my mother paid anybody else to do her hair once she obtained her license.  Seeing her groom herself became the standard for my sister and me.  We adopted the practice of grooming ourselves because we watched our mother do it. 

My sister, me (age 10) and Mom.

I had many trials and errors learning how to cut and style my hair.  My goodness!  I experimented with hair color and everything.  It was so funny – disastrous even – when I was in high school, the things I did to my hair.  I was also excited to tweeze my eyebrows for the first time.  But, boy did it hurt!    

When I was a little girl, sometimes my mother would have me put a very thick medical dictionary on top of my head.  That thing felt like it weighed a ton.  Then, I had to walk from one end of the living room or kitchen to the other.  When I reached the other end, I had to carefully turn around and come back.  The point was for me to walk keeping the book straight.  When I’d turn to come back, I had to do it carefully without the book falling off my head.  That was my mother’s way to teach me how to walk gracefully and to improve my posture. 

Back then I was tomboyish.  I liked hanging out and competing with the boys on my block.  We would race, climb on top of garages, play softball and volleyball.  We played so many games.  I had so much fun hanging out with them.  So, when my mom had me walking with a book on my head I thought, “What the heck?  Why do I have to do this?”  It wasn’t until I hit puberty and started to mature, that I began to appreciate the times that my mother taught me those things.  My mother was and remains my foundation of beauty-care, as well as, self-care.  Little did I know that I would grow to have an interest in and study cosmetology, as well as, aesthetics.

Nevertheless, my mother also taught me many principles about beauty.  One that stands out to me is “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”  Everyone has their viewpoint of what beautiful looks like to them.  What looks beautiful to one person may not look beautiful to someone else.  Basically, that’s what that saying means.  I’m so grateful for the things that my mother taught me about beauty.

My sister and I were not raised in an environment where we were compared to one another.  We were not allowed to fight or bicker and especially about what one of us had and the other one didn’t.  We were not allowed to be competitive or combative.  

It wasn’t until I was about five or six years young that I began to experience a competitive environment among girls.  I was in the first grade.  There were a handful of girls who would compare the length of their hair with the other girls.  With her sassiness, the ringleader would say to someone, “Let me see who has the longest hair.  Take down your hair and let’s see how long your hair really is.”  Then a couple of the other girls would chime in, “Yeah!”  The poor victim would say, “Well, my hair isn’t really this short when I let it down.” 

On another occasion, those girls would compare the texture of one another’s hair.  That meant they would look at whose hair was wavy, curly or kinky curly.  They’d gaze across the classroom to find a victim and say, “Her hair is pretty.”  That sounds like a compliment until the ringleader would question her, “Is that your reeeaaal hair?”

I was uncomfortable because my sister and I didn’t do that to one another.  So, to be in that type of environment, I didn’t know how to deal with that at my age.  I saw how cruel some girls could be towards one another.  The jealousy, contention and strife were unbearable for me.  I began to distant myself from the girls.  Reflecting on it, I’m sure that’s why I started to play with little boys more than I did with girls. 

REVEALING THE ILLUSION ~ 

It is nice to look at people and appreciate their appearances.  People like people they are attracted to.  We like people who are pleasing to our eyes.  Unfortunately, sometimes we can put unrealistic standards of beauty upon one another. 

That reminds me of when I was working part-time in an advertising agency while I was in college.  With all the different campaigns we worked on, one still stands out to me.  Honestly, I don’t remember the product.  I do, however, remember the poster of a lady’s face with her chin resting on her elegantly positioned hand.  The picture itself was set in grayscale (primarily gray in color).  The only thing that was in color was her lips.  She had on ruby red lipstick, and the color popped from the picture.  Even still, her face looked creamy and flawless. 

A few copies of that poster hung throughout the agency.  There were many times I’d stare in awe at how beautiful she looked.  Her lips were perfectly shaped within the lipstick.  

One day I went into one of the artist’s office to discuss something for work.  He was an artist who had worked on that campaign.  I saw one of the posters on the floor leaning against the wall. 

“That is a beautiful picture!” I exclaimed as I pointed to it. 

He picked the poster up and curiously asked me, “So you really like this picture?”

I said emphatically, “Yes.” 

He replied, “Let me show you something.” 

He reached down on the side of his desk and pulled out another poster.  It was the first proof of the same lady’s face.  He said, “This is what that picture looks like before we airbrushed it.” 

That was my introduction to airbrushing.  He explained that there is much work that goes into making a picture look flawless.  On that first proof, I could see nose hair, facial hair, fine lines, wrinkles and every blemish on her face that was visible to my eyes. 

He continued, “We airbrush the photograph so that it looks like this when we are done.  We remove every imperfection – every flaw – to make this picture look perfect.”  I was outdone.

At that time, airbrushing photographs was not widely known outside of the advertising industry.  With modern technology, we use forms of airbrushing.  Photo editing is done by using computers, phones and apps.  Now there are many ways to alter a picture.  Not only can a nose be altered, but a face can be slenderized.  A waist can be cinched. 

That day I learned that in the advertising industry they do what they need to do to a picture to give the illusion that it is perfection.  But there is no perfect person.  There is no perfect face or body.

In this era, that is what young girls – and even women – must contend with more than before.  That is the standard that advertising, fashion and entertainment industries have set.  Young girls and women feel the pressure to compete with that illusion.  It reaches not only our local communities, but across our nation and internationally with the world-wide web and its far-reaching span.

TURNING THE TIDE ~ 

“Beauty is only skin deep” is a popular saying that explains society’s belief.  It certainly confirms their standard.  God, the Creator of mankind, teaches that beauty is deeper than the layers of our skin.   

As a young adult, I began to really understand the awesome sacrifice God made in offering up Christ for my sins.  I accepted the gift of Christ and invited Him into my heart and life.  Afterwards, God told me to make Him my example.  So, as I studied God’s Word, I learned about Christ’s character.  I began to practice those principles and I began to change on the inside.  That is how I learned about the true beauty that shines from the character of the heart.  It is the essence – the nature – that is Christ.  That is the beauty God is looking for.  That is the beauty that He wants radiating in all that we do.

It is my pleasure to shine the spotlight on women who radiate the inner beauty of Christ in their daily lives.  Some of these women are nurses, event planners, life coaches, doctors, fashion designers, actresses, as well as, radio personalities.  Whatever their careers, these women have set a goal to allow Christ to shine in their daily lives.  They make a difference in their families, communities and the world at large.

Come back to visit this site.  Better yet, subscribe to receive your personal email notification for the next article and tell a friend.  Why?  With society’s overwhelming focus on beauty, body image and sexuality, we need positive examples of change agents.  It is my hope that young girls (and women) will be inspired to not only look their personal best, but to be and to do their personal best. ♥

Copyright by A. Rolita Adams

All worldwide rights reserved.

~ Rolita