It’s been a while since I’ve done a #TransformationTuesday so I thought this before and after would only be fitting since my modeling career is blooming right along with me. A lot has changed since the pictures on the left so let’s take it back a couple years to 2017 and I’ll paint the context. I was fresh in my #BloomingUnapologetically journey. I filed for divorce that January, which for me was the key that released me to fully pursue me. It set the tone for me to step outside my box or better stated, crawl from under my rock. Modeling was a childhood dream of mine that I buried because I was told being plus sized wasn’t something I should celebrate or acknowledge. Due to that belief, most of my life I battled with my weight and hid behind clothes that would downplay my curves and plus size figure. Modeling didn’t even cross my mind again until I chose to pursue my dreams and conquer my fears as I began this healing journey. The end of my marriage served as the catalyst that I needed to propel me to be the best me. I decided that I would face my biggest battles with my fluctuating weight and address the root of my lack of confidence.
I get a lot of questions on what I did to lose weight, how I started and how I stay motivated. My first answer is weight loss was much more than numbers and measurements for me. It was all about me reclaiming my life and finding me after my ex husband left me. I knew I needed to make drastic changes to pull myself out of deep debilitating depression and it had to begin with learning to love me. My goals seemed impossible to reach. My reflection, I didn’t even recognize. I had literally lost my identity. Who you see today is a product of no short cuts, hard work, discipline and healing from the inside out. Thank you for tuning in to me #BloomingUnapologetically.
A few weeks ago I celebrated my divorce in the company of close friends and family. It was definitely a joyous occasion as we dined over good food and great energy. The gathering was impromptu, invites were sent via text and I literally planned it the night before with my cousin who was also celebrating her divorce which was granted just a few days before mine. I was surprised by all the "I'll see you there" responses and the turn out warmed my heart. I've gotten a lot of side eyes as word has spread that I am celebrating divorce but I would like to set the record straight. I don't advocate for divorce. I advocate for wholeness by any means necessary but even this philosophy took me a while to attain. I remember a time that I was fresh in my marriage and still on that newlywed high full of hopes and dreams for our future. The same cousin who just celebrated with me came to me seeking advice regarding her derailing marriage around October of 2014. I'm known to give good advice with my forte being toxic relationships but this was advice on a topic I was not familiar with. I hadn't been married that long and I was talking to someone who was about 10 years in the game. I remember encouraging her to work it out and to stick by her husband and to forgive him and all the other good save your marriage tactics that were taught to me. We continued our conversation over dinner and parted ways later that evening. We caught up weekly over candid conversations that usually resulted in me jokingly calling her crazy. She informed me not too long after our 'save her marriage meeting' that they would officially be parting ways. I knew that God could change anyone and fix anything so I secretly held hope and prayed that they would work things out even in the midst of me knowing she deserved better. That was my first experience with giving advice on a topic I didn't have experience with but a few months after this in February of 2015 I got my second chance at this.
So after having a conversation with a few of my girlfriends over lunch this past weekend I realized that I'm a little weird. I'm that person who enjoys meeting strangers without apprehension and traveling alone. They asked me about the recent traveling I've been doing, specifically my birthday trip to New York. They commended me for being brave enough to travel on my own but stated they were too scared to try it themselves. I explained that I enjoy going places where I know no one and traveling alone allows me to do this but I usually don't remain alone. I end up meeting strangers and making connections along the way. Sounds a little reckless but the way my life is set up, I only go where I'm led so I know I'll be protected wherever I go. I go without expectation except to be used somewhere along the way. I shared with them the story of the stranger I encountered on my recent birthday trip to New York. I'd like to share that story with you too as encouragement to step outside your comfort zone. You never know who you may meet and encourage if you strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. You may find out they they were never really a stranger to begin with, just a kindred spirit you hadn’t met yet.
This story is very near and dear to my heart. This was the first time I attempted to love unconditionally and I must admit I got lost in it. It wasn't until years later that I eventually got a return from what I sowed into him. I met him after the pimp and in the midst of the one I ran away. We began our relationship when he was a boy. By boy I mean young, reckless and unaware of who he was. He was younger than me but I was drawn to the respect he commanded among the young and old. I saw something in him that I wanted to cultivate and protect. I saw what he could be if only he could stay alive. So I poured into that knowing that he could never repay me. I’d like to think that I knew what I was doing when I embarked on this relationship with him. Truth is, I was still knee deep in my savagery but torn between love and manipulation. Some days I wanted love and some days I wanted to experiment with my powers. He caught me off guard sometime in between then and I fell hard.
I used to be that pretty girl with bad intentions. I was whatever you needed me to be but only for your pleasure and my benefit. I didn’t mind being what you needed if I got what I wanted. I wanted you for what you could give me whether that be pleasure, finances, material possessions or shelter. If you weren't going to pay me in either one of those denominations, I was not entertaining you. I had a method to my madness that has even trickled down to my mindset now. There is a reason behind my self control, intuition, view on men and relationships. I learned from a pimp and all that he taught me contributed to my ability to understand people and as a result, love and forgive on the level I do now. I'd like to give my new followers some of my background and this foundation that has made me, me.
Before I continue with my divorce story, I want to tell you a little more about Leslie than what these stories are describing him to be. Although these stories seem to paint him in a negative light, I do want to inform you that he was once indeed beautiful and absolutely radiant. These recent stories tell of his lows and I did not fall in love with the man who I am currently divorcing. I fell in love with a wonderful man of God who was on fire for God and after God’s own heart. He helped me to my spiritual feet at my lowest and helped me to become the woman of God that I am today. Some of you may be familiar with our love story but I would like to retell it because even at our outcome, it still has merit and our love story was ordained by God. Remember it was the assignment that changed.
What do you do when what God calls you to do sounds crazy? Are you willing to walk away from the life you have created for yourself and live a life surrendered for His glory? My 2016 was just that. In November/ December of 2015 I remember being at my lowest emotionally and physically. I was unhappy in my marriage, receiving less than I deserved. I felt depleted in my friendships, pouring out more than what I was getting in and I was at a point where I could not get myself out of my depression. I had hit rock bottom despite what it looked like on the outside. I remember vividly praying to God asking Him to send a friend who can pour into me.