Oprah’s Life You Want Tour-Honors Army Veteran with an Inspiring Salute

oprah life you want tourThis weekend I had the honor of attending Oprah’s Life You Want Tour in Washington, D.C.   If you could ever imagine being on an inspirational high, that was the atmosphere of the Life You Want Weekend.  The Life You Want Weekend not only left you feeling inspired, but also left you with the desire to do and be more.

One of those inspirational highs was the honoring of a special Army veteran, Jas Boothe, with a “Standing O-Vation.”  Jas Boothe founded Final Salute Inc.  an organization that provides homeless women Veterans with safe and suitable housing. Oprah’s Standing O-Vation recognizes women who dare to be great, recognized a need or inspired a movement. As an honoree, Final Salute Inc. received a $25,000 grant to continue their mission of helping homeless women Veterans.

 As a person with several family members and friends in the military, I could not resist sharing her story.

“Jas Boothe is a Chicago Native and disabled Army Veteran, who gave 13 years of service to this great nation.

She deployed during the Operation Iraq Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom campaigns and her military career has been dedicated to working with and advocating for Soldiers and their family members.

In 2005, she was a single parent in the Army Reserves living in New Orleans. That spring, she learned she would soon be deploying to Iraq. During her mobilization, Boothe’s life was torn apart by two significant events. In August, she lost everything she owned due to Hurricane Katrina. She tried to shift her focus to her platoon that was counting on her for leadership through the deployment. The next month in September, she received a devastating diagnosis of an aggressive head, neck, and throat cancer, and was now unable to deploy.

Boothe’s options were limited and posed some very hard choices for her. Because of her illness, she was facing discharge from the military. However, she needed complex full-time medical care, a job, and a place to live with her young son. When searching for what assistance might be available, she was told there were no existing programs for female Veterans with children and that she should explore welfare and social services as an option, just like every other single mother. Jas then realized that America had forgotten about the women who have served, fought, bled and died alongside their male counterparts. She found these options unacceptable for a woman who had honorably served her country and after extensive cancer treatment, including radiation therapy that left life-long side effects, at Brooke Army Medical Center; she was able to stay in the Reserves and immediately began looking for full-time employment and a place for her and her son to live.

In 2006, she relocated to Missouri with her aunt, where she had subsequently accepted a job offer from the Army National Guard. Later in the year, she received an opportunity to return to full-time duty in Washington, DC. Boothe never forgot what she and her son had been through and was determined to ensure her fellow sister Veterans had a resource in their time of need.

To date, Final Salute Inc. has assisted over 250 women Veterans and children and now operates three transitional homes in Alexandria, VA, Martinsburg, WV and Columbus, OH.”1

For more information on Final Salute Inc. visit finalsaluteinc.org.

1finalsalute.org

Photo Courtesy of Harpo, Inc.

Restoring What was Lost

image (11)Author, beauty queen, talk show host, and daddy’s girl are only a few of the titles of Jenna Marie Christian. Despite her current success, Jenna recalls her journey from despair to restoration.

“I was born in the real concrete jungle, the west side of Chicago. My mom is a loyal Christian and a retired Preschool teacher from Arkansas. My father was a blues Singer from Mississippi.  We never had much money, but together we were a perfect family. The only girl and youngest of three children, I was the epitome of a daddy’s girl.

My early childhood memories were that of big dreams, carefree days and joy. I never would have dreamed that in a few short years my life would take an unimaginable turn. When I was 9 years old, my dad suddenly got very sick. We later found out that he had cancer. As a kid in the 90’s I had no idea what cancer was. All I knew was that when people got sick, they eventually got better. Sadly, this was not the case with my dad. Despite his declining health, my dad still always found the strength to do what he loved. Sing. He performed up until a week before he lost his battle with cancer.

Losing your father at such a young age is one of the most devastating things one could endure. I quickly lost that zest for life. Those big dreams slowly vanished. I stopped caring about everything. My grades and attitude showed it.  I lost my faith. I lost all of my aspirations. All of the dreams I had included my father and he is longer here. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be strong like him. I just coasted through life. I began to exist with no goals or ambition. There was no point.

However, during this rough time my mom kept me in church and forced me to read Psalms 23 every night. She made me go to bible class every week. Then one day, those scriptures my mom made me read started making sense. I slowly remembered that God never said the journey of life would not be easy.  He never told us that challenges would not come. However, He did promise that he would never leave you or forsake you during your storms. He will be your comfort when things are rough. It was in a rough moment that I found that comfort. I thought to myself. Would my father be proud of his baby girl wasting her potential?

From that moment on, I decided that I wanted to make my dad, my family and my friends proud of me. I wanted to have an impact on the lives of others the way that he did. I realized I could still accomplish my dreams with him, because he is always here with me. One book, two pageant titles, a ton of community work and a talk show later, I am restored. My faith, drive, happiness, confidence, peace, and desire to live my dreams have returned. I now desire to be great.

In closing, I want all reading this to know that you will encounter stress, struggles, heartbreaks and disappointments. Remember, “Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31″

 

I Decided to Take Charge of My Life…

image (6)Looking at Shiryl Davis, you would never guess that she has a chronic illness. Like many of us who are going through something so personal, we usually do not want to share or talk about what we are going through. However, this week Shiryl Davis decides to open up and share her story.

One day in 2001, Shiryl began experiencing extreme abdominal pain. The pain was so bad that she could not even walk. She went to the emergency room and to her surprise; she needed an emergency blood transfusion. After several tests and surgery, Shiryl was diagnosed with Crohns Disease. Crohns Disease is a disease that causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. 

Shiryl recollects, “I was devastated when I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease. I was put on several medications that made me tired or sick. I became depressed. To cope with the pain and fatigue I ate whatever I wanted. Before I knew it I weighed almost 400 pounds.”

That reality forced Shiryl to take her life back. She realized that she was slowly killing herself. From that, moment on Shiryl became determined not to let her diagnosis dictate her life. Shiryl shares, “I gradually started working out and became more conscious of what I ate. After researching, I decided to become a vegetarian. With this lifestyle change, I slowly began regaining my energy and was no longer fatigue. I currently do not take any medications and I am pain free!”

In closing, Shiryl attributes her come back to her support system and the words of her grandmother. Shiryl reminds you to, “Believe in yourself and always have faith. I am Perfectly Imperphect because I realize that I even though I have a chronic illness I refuse to be controlled by it. I can and I will strive to be the best I can be.”

 

Gifted to Inspire


tangie henryWe all have the gift to inspire. We just have to find our own way of doing so. This week’s honoree has discovered her own unique way to use her gift. Tangie Henry, founder of InspiredSistah uses her gift to “Inspire women to live on top of the world.” As a registered nurse and certified life coach, Tangie has been blessed with the opportunity to minister to all types of women at great times of vulnerability.

Tangie has a heart for women who are broken, bruised, and challenged by life’s obstacles. She specializes in using her life experiences, a little sistah savvy and a lot of Godly wisdom to offer women “Inspiration with a Flair.” Tangie shares, “I grew up in South Central, Los Angeles and saw too much, too soon. I struggled with insecurity and as a result, I made many poor choices. Although I looked good on the outside, I was a broken, lonely woman, desperately trying to keep up a charade. Gratefully, I was able to learn and grow from my mistakes and experiences.”

Tangie started Inspired Sistah five years ago to offer inspiration to other women who may currently have or have had similar struggles. Tangie shares with those she inspires that, “It’s not the load that breaks us, but the way that we carry it. I want women to understand the difference between being a strong woman and a woman of strength. “Strong” women often take on more than they should. They shoulder everyone else’s burdens and often find themselves depleted of their own strength and energy. A Woman of Strength, on the other hand, is a woman who fully possesses her identity and sets boundaries in a loving manner. She understands that she cannot offer anything of substance to anyone unless she first ministers to herself. As women, we are sometimes encouraged to be strong…to our detriment. That is a fallacy. You can still be impactful, helpful and loving without completely exhausting yourself. You are created in God’s image on purpose for a purpose. You need to be whole, happy and healthy to complete your mission.”

Lastly, Tangie proclaims, “I am perfectly Imperphect because I am an example of God’s grace. He has taken my broken and bruised pieces, made them whole and is using me to inspire others.”

We all have the gift to inspire. We just have to find our own way of doing so. This week’s honoree has discovered her own unique way to use her gift. Tangie Henry, founder of InspiredSistah uses her gift to “Inspire women to live on top of the world.” As a registered nurse and certified life coach, Tangie has been blessed with the opportunity to minister to all types of women at great times of vulnerability.

Tangie has a heart for women who are broken, bruised, and challenged by life’s obstacles. She specializes in using her life experiences, a little sistah savvy and a lot of Godly wisdom to offer women “Inspiration with a Flair.” Tangie shares, “I grew up in South Central, Los Angeles and saw too much, too soon. I struggled with insecurity and as a result, I made many poor choices. Although I looked good on the outside, I was a broken, lonely woman, desperately trying to keep up a charade. Gratefully, I was able to learn and grow from my mistakes and experiences.”

Tangie started Inspired Sistah five years ago to offer inspiration to other women who may currently have or have had similar struggles. Tangie shares with those she inspires that, “It’s not the load that breaks us, but the way that we carry it. I want women to understand the difference between being a strong woman and a woman of strength. “Strong” women often take on more than they should. They shoulder everyone else’s burdens and often find themselves depleted of their own strength and energy. A Woman of Strength, on the other hand, is a woman who fully possesses her identity and sets boundaries in a loving manner. She understands that she cannot offer anything of substance to anyone unless she first ministers to herself. As women, we are sometimes encouraged to be strong…to our detriment. That is a fallacy. You can still be impactful, helpful and loving without completely exhausting yourself. You are created in God’s image on purpose for a purpose. You need to be whole, happy and healthy to complete your mission.”

Lastly, Tangie proclaims, “I am perfectly Imperphect because I am an example of God’s grace. He has taken my broken and bruised pieces, made them whole and is using me to inspire others.”

 

Learning To Love Yourself Is the Greatest Love of All

BeYou

All of us have those famous lyrics imprinted in our mind.  However, learning to love yourself can be easier said than done. This holds true for this week’s feature Ivy Cooper. A Health Coach and Body Image expert Ivy serves as an advocate for women everywhere to love the skin they you are in.

We are taught that experience is the best teacher and Ivy’s journey has served as testament to empower those she coaches. Ivy’s early journey was one of self-hate, low self-esteem and insecurity.  She recalls days of hating herself and never feeling comfortable in her own skin. “I have always felt that I was less than attractive.  Ever since my early adolescent years, I found myself comparing my body and beauty to others.  I frequently felt that other women were more beautiful than I was. I longed to look like them.  As a full figured child, teen, and woman I felt at war with my body, constantly FIGHTING to lose weight and become a certain size.  I wanted to be accepted.  No matter how many diets I tried, I always ended up back in a body that I hated and was ashamed of.”

After years of living with low self-esteem, Ivy realized that dieting was not the answer to feeling beautiful in her own skin.   Her freedom from body hate came when she began to work on healing her relationship with her body.  Ivy began to appreciate her body as a creation from God and worthy of love.  She began to see each part of herself in a different light.  Ivy has learned she deserves to be loved exactly the way she is. A loving relationship with her body became her motivation to embrace her physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual self.

Through the healing and transformation of love in her own life, she has learned to embrace her body and self. Ivy’s transformation is proof that a change in your belief and love of self is possible.

Ivy reminds us to, “Allow yourself to love and be loved exactly as you are. Being perfect is not a pre-requisite to love.  I know my imperfections and embracing them is part of what makes me beautiful! “