Archive for the ‘Phenomenal Women’ Category

This Woman Went From Being Overweight To Opening Her Own Gym

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

By Victor Trammell

Many people have achieved their own personal success stories when it comes to the conquering the difficult missions of losing weight and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

Marissa McDonald

However, at only 23-year-old, a black woman in Chicago, Illinois not only achieved her ultimate weight loss and fitness goals, she opened up her own gym after becoming an ACE-certified personal trainer. Marissa McDonald (pictured above) went from pudgy to powerhouse after she was roughly 200 pounds and not in good health.

The Body Concept Chicago co-founder developed not only an unwavering spirit to maintain her impeccable physique but an entrepreneurial spirit as well. She stopped seeing eye-to-eye with the owner of the gym where she used to train hard. On her road to becoming a new and improved woman, she dropped around 40 pounds.

McDonald not only dropped her own pounds and chiseled her beautiful, muscular body, she was training other women to do the same. With her clientele list growing, it became clear that McDonald was getting too big to be training clients at somebody else’s gym. The determined young fitness expert decided to strike out on her own.

Read more on this story here at HealthyBlackWoman.com.

Nomalanga: Gabby and Serena, You Are Not Your Hair

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

There has been so much talk about Gabby Douglas, the Olympics super star who has won Gold more than once at the tender age of 16. Unfortunately, while most of us celebrate and applaud her, there have inevitably been a few who have attempted to cast a dark cloud over Gabby’s bright shining star by talking negatively about her hair.

Serena Williams, who has had her share of criticism about her hair, spoke up for Gabby saying that talking about the teenage super star’s hair was “ridiculous”.

It seems obvious to most of us that the skills and talent that both Douglas and Williams bring to the bar and the court, respectively, have nothing to do with their hair, but yet we have seen more headlines, in the past week, about Douglas’ hair than we have seen about her skills and talent.

So, why the obsession with her hair? Well, I’ll be honest; when the Williams sisters first became tennis stars, I did notice that their hair was a little “unkempt”, if you will, but it was usually a passing thought. My primary focus, if I said anything about them, was usually an expression of extreme admiration for their superior tennis skills and the grace and dignity with which they carried themselves. The difference, I believe, between me and those that talk about Serena or Gabby’s hair is that I am able to shift my focus to what matters and dismiss what doesn’t and they apparently are not able to.

After years of watching them, I became vocal about how I loved that the Williams sisters were purposefully “different”. They would wear outfits and jewelery on the court that many uptight and narrow minded tennis enthusiast frowned upon and even ridiculed under their collective breath. No one can forget the tight, black Puma one-piece Serena wore years ago that stirred up the tennis world. I was one of the people who applauded Serena for daring to be bold and audacious and I still stand by her in her choice of outfits and even her sometimes bold jewelery choices.

Serena basically says, without saying it, “I’m ME-deal with it!” I love that about her.

Gabby on the other hand, is still young and may not have found her own unique voice but I hope that with time, she will learn to say “NO” when they ask her to try and style her hair in a hair style that was clearly agreed as the “official” hair style for gymnasts when there were few or no black women on the gymnastics team or in gymnastics overall.

As black women, we are only “our hair” to the extent that we agree we are. I’m not saying that we should all be walking around with various degrees of curly hair Afros, in an effort to show the world that we love ourselves. We don’t have anything to prove with our hair. Personally, as a Black woman, I love rocking all kinds of styles from the more natural ones to the super straight wigs and weaves; like I said, we have nothing to prove with our hair.

I wish people would not focus on our hair, but they do and that may never change. Our success as individuals comes from not letting that misdirected focus take over our emotions and actions. To Gabby and Serena, I say: YOU ARE NOT YOUR HAIR. None of us are.

Nomalanga helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s blog at successfulblackwoman.com

Originally posted at Your Black World.

Why Oprah Should Not Give Up on Own TV

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

We’ve all been watching what some might call Oprah Winfrey’s desperate attempt to increase the ratings on her television network, OWN. Some say she is desperate because of the recent interview that she did with Curtis “50 cent” Jackson.

During the height of her television success as the host of the Oprah Show, Oprah often spoke out about her distaste for rappers and the way that their lyrics disrespected women. She was especially vocal about rappers who used the word “bitch” as though it was a synonym for women. So it is not surprising that many are speculating that she is desperate when she has a person like “50 cent”, who is well known for calling women “bitches”, on one of her shows.

The way I look at it is that she is no longer just running a show; she is running a network. She is running a network that not only caters to the “Oprah” audience, but to a very broad demographic. Her network is not just about her, it is as symbolic as the Obama presidency. It is as symbolic as Tyler Perry studios. Never before has a Black woman taken it upon herself to have her OWN television channel, just as before President Obama was elected, we had never seen a Black man run a First world country, let alone the United States of America. Before Tyler Perry opened his studios, again we had never seen a Black man open a studio and produce movies on his OWN terms.

Many who know Oprah’s life story know that she has encountered hardships that some of us can not even imagine. She was told “no” more times than she could count and yet she persevered and ended up having the most successful day-time talk show that has ever been on television. People may say her network is “struggling” or “failing” but from where I stand, she was a success before OWN was ever launched and she will continue to be a success. Even if she closes the doors to OWN, she will always be the first ever Black woman to step out and say, “I want my OWN…” The same applies to Tyler Perry and President Obama; no one can take away what they have accomplished. There will always be those who do nothing and stand on the sidelines waiting to point out what the “doers” have failed at, instead of seeing them for the pioneers that they are. That should never be a reason to give up and I hope that Oprah will not give up on OWN.

Originally Posted at Your Black Bloggers

Nomalanga: How Black Men and Black Women can be Heroes

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Having been born and raised in another country (Botswana), I often have a different perspective of my life as a Black woman living in America. I grew up in a society that is almost the polar opposite of American society. I grew up in a country where the most loved, respected and respectable person in society was the Black man. This gives me a very unique perspective in that I am able to see how a community of Black people can function when the women and children and even the men are not bombarded with images, news and “statistics” that all emphatically state that the Black man is the greatest threat to their lives. Let me be clear, I am not saying that Botswana is somehow “better” than America or that I , a Motswana (a person from Botswana), am somehow “better”, than an American Black man or woman. I am just offering a different perspective.

Having lived in America for about a decade and a half, I have grown to understand how important it is to always think for myself and to seek understanding in matters that are heavily overlaid with confusion, manipulation and ulterior motives. There is only one outcome in a community that does not hold their men in high regard: it will fall apart and it will devastate every member of its community.

I just listened to a speech by Louis Farrakhan in which he talked about The Willie Lynch letter/theory-The Making Of a Slave. In my first exposure to Farrakhan, years ago, I dismissed him as being a “radical” and an “instigator”. Sadly, I am now becoming increasingly aware that my judgment was made hastily and made because of a lack of knowledge and understanding of the complexity of being Black in America.

I still don’t entirely agree with everything Farrakhan says, but sadly, I don’t believe that he is wrong when he says that we can still see the devastation of Willie Lynch’s work in our communities today. All you have to do is interview Black women and find out what they think of Black men and then ask Black men what they think about Black women. They will all say a variety of things, but what I have observed is a thread of mistrust, contempt, judgments, frustration, suspicion, paranoia and so on. Of course, not ALL black women or ALL Black men feel the same way about each other and some may speak in direct contradiction to what I am saying. That being said, even if they said that everybody loved everybody else and everything was perfect, we can still look at the state of Black communities across the country. There are more little Black boys and girls growing up in homes without both parents than there are those who have the safety and security of both of their parents. Even among those who have both of their parents, there are many who are still exposed to unhealthy and dysfunctional ways of living. The devastation can be seen in so many ways; just take a trip to your local jail house and tell me what you see. Take a trip to an “urban” public school and tell me what you see. I could go on, but I think you see where this is going.

The only way that this unfortunate set of circumstances, to put it mildly, will begin to change is when we, Black women and black men begin to show up as Heroes. Our heroes are not the next President or the next policy or even the next pastor. It is each and every one of us.

A hero is a man or woman who can see his community’s restoration even before it happens-that is called Vision. Heroes are visionaries.

A hero is a man or woman who is willing to set aside their “happiness”(an ambiguous and false state that can elude a person for the rest of their life) for the sake of their husband or wife and children and community.

A hero is a man or woman who is selfless in their conduct because he or she knows that in serving his or her spouse, children and members of the community, s/he cannot go without. That is a basic law of the universe-what you sow, you will reap.

Let’s stop pointing fingers, even when we have just cause, but instead step up and be responsible and accountable-that is heroism. Let’s start with loving our children, even before they are conceived, by behaving responsibly so that when they are conceived, they have a better chance at a normal, healthy and functional family life.

This is not about me sitting on my high horse and wagging a finger at others; it is actually quite the opposite. Every day, I have to make a conscious decision to do the right thing because it is so much easier to just do what I feel is right for ME. How easy it would be to not have to “work” at building a marriage. How easy it would be to blame anyone or anything for my lack of action or lack of accomplishment of my goals. I believe that there are systems in place that do not serve “us” and I believe in doing my part to effect change. I do not, however, believe that I can afford the luxury of just talking about all the “odds” that are stacked against me and then use that as a reason to give up. I don’t believe that I should behave irresponsibly and then wash my sins away with “the blood of Jesus”.

Please. Let’s start being the heroes. Let’s start the process of restoration. Let’s be accountable and responsible. Let’s start holding each other accountable-not just blaming and judging. Let’s start showing more compassion for each other without enabling each other. Let’s start challenging the systems that do not serve “us”. Please.

Check out Nomalanga’s e-book:
Seven Life Changing Habits; How I Changed My Life from Mediocre to Magnificent & How You Can Too!

Nomalanga: What Black Women Can Learn from Meagan Good

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

I have been following a lot of news about Meagan Good and her vow to remain celibate until her and her Pastor/Producer husband are married.

To some this may seem the most far-fetched idea that they can think of because celibacy is something that society has dismissed as both outdated and unrealistic. Let’s think about it though-Think about all the negative information that is currently circulating about Black women in America and the rest of the world. Let’s start with the rate of HIV infection as well as other sexually transmitted diseases. Let’s think about the rates of teenage pregnancy and the rate of single parenthood, much of which is the result of unplanned pregnancies and pre-marital intercourse.

I am not one to jump to conclusions that I cannot support with credible sources so I will not do that but I think we need to, at the very least, consider that Meaghan Good may just be somewhat of a hero. She is going against the grain and setting an example. I don’t believe she is saying that she is “pure” and angelic and that the rest of us are “sinners”. That would be off-putting. She is however, saying that it is possible for a young woman to stand her ground and do something different and still be popular, attractive and “modern”.

The lesson that I am drawing from her example is that just because you have engaged in what some would call “sin”, there is still room to take a different course of action and change your outcomes. To some, celibacy may seem like an extreme measure to take but considering the issues that we deal with, maybe we should consider it as a very viable option. Obviously, it is possible to avoid diseases and unplanned pregnancies through taking birth control and using other forms of protection. That, however, does not take the emotional and spiritual ramifications of having multiple partners (whether concurrently or consecutively) into consideration.

My passion is the pursuit of personal development, including but not limited to my own. I instruct, mentor and advise young women, especially young women of color, more than any other population so this is an issue that I tackle very often. I’m not trying to assign judgment to anyone for their choices but I think that we are often too quick to dismiss the idea of celibacy as either “old fashioned” or unrealistic. Let’s begin to look at it as a very viable option. Yes, there are other ways to be responsible and safe, but no one can argue that no other way is as safe as celibacy so let’s not discount it.

Check out Nomalanga’s e-book:
Seven Life Changing Habits; How I Changed My Life from Mediocre to Magnificent & How You Can Too!

Iyanla Vanzant:How to Have a Hard Conversation in 7 Steps

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

They’re not always easy, but the hardest conversations can actually strengthen your most cherished relationships. “It’s a communication between two people or a group of people who have an important relationship,” Oprah’s Lifeclass teacher Iyanla Vanzant says. “It has to be an important relationship where some information needs to be shared, clarity needs to be gained or feelings need to be expressed.”

Because it’s not a hard conversation unless the relationship matters, Iyanla says many people—especially women—tend to avoid tough talks because they fear negative outcomes. It’s time to let that go. Here’s how to start a conversation that will advance, heal and grow your most cherished relationships in seven steps.

1. Acknowledge the fact that you need to have a hard conversation.

2. Clarify your expectations. Be clear with yourself about what your experience should be—and the intention should not be to get your point across or declare who is right. “It’s not to have your toxic dump,” Iyanla says. “It is to heal, grow or expand the relationship.”

3. Invite the other person to have a conversation with you. “Say, ‘There are some things going on I want to share with you. I’d like to have this conversation,'” Iyanla says. “If they say no, don’t take it personally. Say, ‘Can I check back with you in a week? When will you be ready? Because this is important.'”

4. Set the ground rules—especially if you think there’s potential for upset. “Say, ‘I want to share something with you. I ask you to just listen, and then if you want to respond, I’ll listen,'” Iyanla says. “Let’s not call names, let’s not swear, throw things, whatever. No name-calling, whatever your ground rules might be.”

5. You have to be willing to listen. One of the biggest mistakes Iyanla says you can make is rehearsing the conversation in your head before and bringing preconceptions with you. Instead, get on the same side of the table as the other person and just sit with them. Hear what they need to say and be willing to say what you need to.

6. Be willing to be wrong. “Be willing to be wrong about what you thought they would say, what you thought they would do, how you thought they would respond, what you thought was going on,” Iyanla says.

7. Agree on the next step. “At the end of the conversation, be sure you have the next steps for how you’re going to behave, what the expectation is, what the next step will be, what you’re expecting,” she says. “Don’t just leave a conversation without clarity about ‘okay, now what are we doing?'”
Source

Check out Nomalanga’s e-book:
Seven Life Changing Habits; How I Changed My Life from Mediocre to Magnificent & How You Can Too!

Michelle Obama: A Woman of Substance

Monday, May 28th, 2012

I recently wrote a blog titled “Why He Doesn’t Respect You” which discussed the role that Respect plays in our lives. In this latest blog post, I share why Mrs. Obama is the perfect example of a woman of substance.

No one can deny that a part of President Obama’s success is due to the love and support of his wife, First Lady, Michelle Obama. In spite of numerous attempts at tarnishing the Obamas’ name, Mrs. Obama has managed to remain positive and carry herself with class and dignity.

Below are some reasons why I and the world love First Lady, Michelle Obama:

1. She is smart and intelligent without being arrogant

In 2008, when we first learned a lot about the First couple, one of the things that stood out to me was that Mrs. Obama’s career and income significantly surpassed that of her husband and yet I have never seen her display even a hint of arrogance. You may even notice that although many have tried to squeeze her into the “angry black woman” stereotype, none have ever called her arrogant.

2. She carries herself with style and grace

One of the reasons why Black women love Mrs. Obama is because she is clearly a woman with strong convictions and strong opinions and yet she is able to express herself in such a way that she is heard and respected without sounding angry or aggressive. Let’s not also forget that Mrs. Obama never ceases to amaze us with her impeccable sense of style.

3. She has a fun side

Recently it was heavily reported that Mrs. Obama shared that she has fantasized about experiencing life as a singer, like Beyonce and then soon after that, she was reportedly at a Beyonce concert with her daughters Malia and Sasha. Mrs. Obama has also been known to throw on her sneakers and play sports with youth or stop by Sesame Street to chat about the importance of eating healthy foods.

4. She is devoted to her man

In an unauthorized biography, by Edward Klein, about the Obamas, “The Amateur”, Michelle is said to have come very close to ending her marriage to President Obama. The fact that two decades after they said, “I do”, the Obama’s marriage is still going strong only makes us realize that she is so devoted to her husband that she has continued to love and support him even when she felt she had good reason not to.

5. She adores her children

Every time that Mrs. Obama is interviewed, she never fails to mention that every decision that she and her husband make always takes into consideration the fact that they have two beautiful girls to raise. She often talks about how important it is to her that her daughters maintain as much “normalcy” in their lives as possible. Mrs. Obama also makes sure that when she travels, she uses the opportunities as tools to expose her daughters to different countries, people and cultures.

Original post at Your Black Word
Check out Nomalanga’s e-book:
Seven Life Changing Habits; How I Changed My Life from Mediocre to Magnificent & How You Can Too!

Nomalanga: 3 Basic Marriage Savers

Friday, May 25th, 2012

I think it’s no secret that I believe that many marriages that end in divorce do so unnecessarily. I think that there are some very extreme circumstances that some men and women deal with in their marriages that leave them with very few options and unfortunately, divorce ends up being the option of choice. That being said, I still believe that Divorce should ALWAYS be the very, very last resort and in a lot of cases, unfortunately, it is one of the first.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I would like to admit that my own seven year old marriage has had some very rocky periods. I’m talking about some sharp, jagged rocks that could hurt somebody, literally and figuratively! I share this, not just to be humorous, but to emphasize that people don’t stay married because they are “soul mates” or “meant to be” or whatever other fluffy cliché you may have heard. The people who succeed in marriage do so because they don’t look at divorce as an option, but instead, as the destruction of the individuals, family unit and the community that it is.

I would like to share three marriage savers that I know work, not only from my own personal experience, but also from having observed them in other people’s lives and marriages.
1. Close the door to WRONG counsel
“Wrong Counsel” is a topic that I am very vocal about because I have seen its destruction at work. Wrong counsel is anyone that you speak to, or allow to speak to you, about your marriage, that has not earned the right and privilege to. This particular group of people is funny because they tend to be the ones with the most eagerness to give unsolicited advice, even though they typically have had no professional training in the field of Marriage and Family life, have never been married or have failed at their attempt(s) at marriage.

Sometimes the “wrong counsel” individuals have very good intentions and their advice sounds good but bear in mind that if their mindset and advice was right, they would be in a successful marriage themselves or they would have earned the degrees and field experience to run a successful Marriage and Family Counseling practice. I’m not saying that these people should be discounted as not being respectable or lovable human beings; all I’m saying is that you should exercise some wisdom and protect your marriage from their “well meaning”, but often misguided advice.

2. Open the door to RIGHT counsel
Anyone who is married or has been around married people knows that every marriage encounters challenges and tests. The great news is that “there is nothing new under the sun”! If you run in to what seems like an insurmountable obstacle in your marriage, it is very important to seek Right counsel.

The counsel can be an older couple you know that has been married for 5, 10, 20 or 30+ years. Obviously, it can’t be a couple who you have observed being constantly nasty and unkind to each other. If you’re a woman, find an older woman who loves and respects her husband as well as herself. If you feel comfortable that she will be respectful of your privacy and she is open to mentoring you, you have found a good thing. Understand that sometimes you may be certain that you’re completely right and actually be completely wrong and she will be that person that helps you make decisions that will preserve your marriage.

Another form of Right counsel is a spiritual leader who is in your church or religious organization. The key here is that your beliefs and theirs have to be similar or the same. Again, before you open your marriage to their counsel, you must be assured that they will be a good role model (are in a healthy and stable marriage) and that they will protect your privacy as well as your marriage.

Another form of Right counsel is a professionally trained, preferably licensed, marriage counselor. This person is often a good choice because they can give you tools that can be helpful and they can be objective and non-judgmental.

3. Never give up.
This does not need explanation. Either you give up and you get a divorce or you don’t. Exceptions are very few and far between.

I would like to add that you can use all three forms of “marriage savers” and also read books and attend workshops and seminars that will help you be a better wife (or husband). As always, please note that in extreme cases such as abuse, chronic infidelity and dealing with addictions, a different course of action is necessary. Remember, marriage is a commitment and making a commitment means that you’re going to do what you said you would do even at the times that you don’t feel like it. Don’t let yourself, your family and your community down. Save your marriage.

Check out Nomalanga’s e-book:
Seven Life Changing Habits; How I Changed My Life from Mediocre to Magnificent & How You Can Too!

Nomalanga: Why he doesn’t respect you

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

A lot of times when we hear people describing the differences between men and women, we hear “men need to be respected” and “women need security”. While I can’t argue with the descriptions, I think what tends to happen is that we talk about men needing to be respected so much that we forget that women need t be respected as well and they also need to respect themselves.

In the area of respect, women fall into three basic categories:
1. She is respected and commands respect
A woman who is respected is a woman who has a healthy level of confidence and self respect. This woman earns respect and therefore commands it. She is a woman of substance and she demonstrates this through her words and deeds.

2. She is not respected but demands respect
This is a woman who secretly loathes herself and does not respect herself. This woman hopes that no one will figure out her dirty little secret and she usually complains about not being respected and constantly has to demand respect.

3. She is not respected and she does not expect to be
This woman is a woman who has such a low level of confidence and self esteem that she has no expectation that anyone will respect her. She allows people to talk to her and treat her badly and sadly, she believes that she deserves that bad treatment.

Of course there are instances when a self respecting and respectable woman will be disrespected by a person who has no regard for the appropriate way to treat another human being. Also, as women, we deal with issues such as sexism, where no matter how respectable you are, some man is going to think that his male “parts” somehow qualify him for some superior status in life. Another common issue is racism, where some non-black or non-minority person will not respect a woman of color because he or she believes that the color or tone of their skin entitles them to some “special” status that no black or minority person can ever attain.

With all the exceptions aside, any woman who complains that her man or anyone does not respect her has to do a self analysis and see which of the three types of women she is. In the two cases of the women who do not respect themselves, usually because of their low level of self esteem and lack of confidence, there is a simple answer: Invest in your personal development and become a woman of substance.

In the next post of the Personal Development Series, I will share tips on how to become a woman of substance.

Nomalanga: Three Questions to ask yourself before Divorce

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

By Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses

Less than a year into marriage, I experienced what I now call the “reality” phase. Anyone who has been married for a while knows exactly what I’m talking about. The “Reality” phase of marriage is when you start to come down off of the honeymoon phase of the relationship and start to really see your partner for who they are rather than the fantasy that you were projecting onto them.

Just as I was processing this rather confusing phase, I had a conversation with one of my “sisters” who, at the time, had been married for about eight years. What she shared were three major things that tend to affect marriages either negatively or positively. In other words, if you pay attention to these three “things”, you can sustain a happy marriage but if you neglect these things, trouble is inevitably around the corner.

I am generally an advocate of marriage; partially because I was born and raised within the confines of one. (Side note: My parents have been married for almost 40 years).

That being said, if you have neglected any of the three “things” I feel that it is possible to give each one attention and restore your marriage, rather than head to Divorce court.
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Are we Communicating well?
Many times what couples think are major problems, are actually small problems buried in a series of miscommunications or no communication at all. Unless you have developed the skill of effective communication and are able to resolve conflicts and problems through effective communication, you have not earned your way out of the marriage. Rather than head to divorce court, explore ways to build your communication skills.

2. Are our finances in order?
My husband and I love to joke that we need to make sure that we get our finances in order because “broke people fight”. Now, I’m not sure where the saying “broke people fight” comes from but like most jokes, it has an element of truth in it. When finances are in order, there is a level of security that can quickly disappear if they are mismanaged. If you get to a point where your finances are a mess, rather than head to divorce court, put your heads together and explore strategies to restore the financial well-being of your family.

3. When was the last time we were “intimate”?
“Intimacy” is a topic that many of us shy away from because it is uncomfortable for some people to discuss. That being said, if you are not being “intimate” with your spouse, you’re trying to glue two pieces of paper together and omitting the glue. Before you head off to Divorce court, get creative about “rocking his world” (or hers). One thing that I would add to this is that many women ask, “what if I just don’t feel like it?” Well, I’ll tell you like I heard it jokingly said, “Sometimes you just have to take one for the team”.

As I approach our 8th anniversary in marriage and reflect back on my own marriage and those of the people around me, I can honestly say that what my ‘sister” told me all those years ago was marriage saving advice. That being said, none of the three “things” apply if you’re dealing with a partner who is abusive, is dealing with an addiction or is chronically unfaithful. Even these serious issues are not cause to end your marriage but they are certainly issues that need addressing though professional or spiritual intervention.

At the end of the day, a problem in marriage is no longer just your problem; it is the possibility of your children growing up without Both their parents or the shattering of a community that was partially bound by your marriage or another case of giving up on your own personal development journey which your marriage was facilitating. Make a decision, today, whether you are already married or not yet married, to ask yourself these questions so that you can stay married. Don’t let yourself down. Don’t let your spouse down. Don’t let your children down. Don’t let your family and your community down. Stay married.