The Power of Vulnerability

The Power of Vulnerability

Pull up a chair, sis. (And fellas too) This is exactly what it sounds like.  Let’s get right into it.

Vulnerability. Man, look.

The simple mention of that word is enough to make me shift my weight and squirm in discomfort.  
Allow me to explain:  I consider myself to be, pretty much, an open book. Folks know that I share my experiences online—that I can be super transparent and often use my daily situations, accomplishments and failures to both express my humanity, and to encourage myself and others on this journey called life. Even with all the perceived negatives of social media, I’ve come to find that shared experiences make one feel less alone. To know that you’re not the only one going through life’s challenges in the way that you are, can be a huge relief. At any rate, even with all of my so called “openness”, I still have the tendency to distance myself from certain situations that call for just that.  What are they? You guessed it; matters of the heart.

First, let’s look at the definition of the V word. I can barely say it without flaring up my acid reflux.
Vulnerable: adjective
susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.
 

 

Bruh. Who the HELL wants to be that?

It is simply basic human instinct to strive, at all times, to protect ourselves. Even the homie Sigmund Freud said, that “the deepest essence of human nature consists of self-preservation.”


What a mind f**k.

How in the hell am I supposed to self-preserve and seek love at the same damn time?  And that, my friends, is the question I ask myself every day.

I have literally ruined great potential partnerships by my unwillingness to open up completely, in that regard. As caring of a person as I can be, when it comes to dealing with relationships with men, I have only allowed them to get but so far, until I feel myself falling. Then, I take a lap and trap myself behind this extensional, proverbial wall.

Now, this wall? It’s not like Cheeto Satan’s alleged wall, but it might be just as absurd. In my mind, it’s made of glass, so technically, I’m able to see bae on the other side, and he can see me. (hey boo!) We talk to each other, we send cute gifts and exchange texts and calls. Every now and again, I come out from behind it when it’s time to be intimate, but I always return to my side, and he’s simply not allowed to cross the line.
Not only can that make one look emotionally unstable and partially insane, it can also be truly exhausting for the other person to think for example, that he’s getting ready to play basketball, and then I show up with a hockey stick, some cleats and a relay baton, smiling.  Girl, get your life.

The truth of the matter is, in order for me to truly love and be loved, that wall must come down. This is also not just a woman thing. I recognize that male vulnerability is a unique nuanced experience, that can be beautiful and just as difficult.

So, what does it ultimately boil down to, friends?

Fear.

Jazmine Sullivan said it best:  *sings* ‘’I’m not scared, of lions and tigers, and bears, but I’m scared of loving you.”

I feel you, sis. It be’s like that. We all know that when you lend your heart to another person, you’re essentially giving them the ability to break it into a million bite sized pieces. One day, I’ll tell y’all the full story. but basically– many moons ago– a bright eyed and bushy tailed Grace entrusted her heart to someone. Needless to say, brotha man violated in the most horrific of ways, and I haven’t quite been the same since.

Therapy? Yes. I go. But a decade later, I realize that I am still subconsciously fearful of the possibility of being hurt to that degree ever again. That said, a more recent romantic situation has taught me how much I can lose if I don’t overcome this obstacle.

I’ve come to understand that you have to harness the power of the V. (no, not that V. Nasty… Although, that post may soon come) and let it work for you. Understand that:

1. Great things are on the other side.

You might get hurt, granted. That’s life. But you also might flourish and find the great love that you’ve been yearning for. Discernment is key to deciding who and what to expose yourself to, but completely guarded emotions, cannot and will not work.

2. Self-Sabotage ain’t cute.

It doesn’t look good on you. Why push yourself further away from the things and people who are beneficial for you?  As ambitious women especially, I have no doubt that we will go for the jobs, apply for the promotion– but with love, we hesitate. Emotionally blocking yourself for the sake of safety is natural, albeit. But it can also be unproductive.

3.  You’re worth it: Say it with me. Vul-ner-ability. You will literally get nowhere from behind a glass wall. In order to move forward in love and in life, you have to open yourself up. It might not always get you the answers you want, but you will have the ones you need.

Trust yourself.

If for the first time, or like me, again.  

After all, Freud also said, “out of your vulnerabilities, will come your strength.”

It’s about time for me to take his– and my own–advice.

 

By: GraceOnTheMic
Twitter & IG: @GraceOnTheMic
Previously posted on: http://www.thegraceperiod.com/
#AreYouVSOP #TheVSOPLife
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Having Trouble At Work?

 

Having trouble at work? So was I.

I started at this company 2.5 years ago, when I was on the heels of a divorce and I moved 30 min. away from my core group of people. I took this job in transportation, an industry I had no experience in. Needless to say, my 1st year was miserable. People questioned me, my skills, and even my writing abilities – as a journalist, I was insulted. I had a horrible review. I had never felt so unfavored in any position.

Every day I imagined myself getting a new job and boastfully slamming a resignation letter on my boss’s desk, but that never happened. Every opportunity that was offered to me fell through for some reason – budget, resources, timing etc. So I ended up staying in this position because I needed the money.

I changed my prayers from finding a new job to changing my circumstances at my current job. I asked the people in my Bible study group to pray for me and with me. Slowly, but surely, things started to turn around.

My biggest critics were taken off my projects, and my attitude about my job started to change. I found reasons to be grateful for my job, and I started working on the things people criticized me for. My next review was amazing. It was a complete turnaround from the first one. As things got better, I continued praying. I didn’t want to go backwards.

In October, I had the unique opportunity to take a position in NYC doing exactly what I wanted to do – public relations, and I really had an opportunity to shine. To my disappointment, the assignment ended abruptly, and I feared going back to my regular assignments and having to work with the naysayers again.

I just knew my “winning” streak had ended a couple weeks ago, when I was working on a report that took me twice as long as I anticipated. When the project manager called me, I just knew he was going to let me have it, but instead he told me I did a “phenomenal” job.

I called my boss to let her know that someone actually used the word “phenomenal” on a report I worked on. To my surprise, again, she told me that she had good news too – my promotion!

I’m still growing, but prayer works and God’s grace is real. I hope this helps someone.

Stacy.

*Previously Posted on Proccessingpain.com *
Twitter:
@StacyGrahamHunt Ig:@stacyreports
#AreYouVSOP #TheVSOPLife
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LIFE IS TOO SHORT AND ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.

Have you ever received some news that catches you by surprise? You’re caught off guard and many thoughts begin to fly through your head. Then you pause. Everything goes silent and you feel numb. You slowly begin to hear the raindrops falling outside. You snap out of it and now you’re back to focusing on your thoughts… You begin to unscramble them. With the news that you just received there are a lot of emotions and thoughts that you’re trying to process. The final thought becomes, “wow, today can be anyone’s last day on earth.”

Today I heard the news that a gentleman that I met last year passed away. All I could think of was “wow, I knew him;, He’s young, joyful, humble, genuine, motivated, successful and positive.” He had this amazing energy that you immediately felt while in his presence. He was the type of person that I personally love the most; the ones that you can have deep, intellectual conversations with. He was the type of person that instills motivation in you. He was the type of person that provided a friendship that instilled personal growth.

 

I could not fathom what I had heard, so I proceeded to check his Facebook page. To my dismay, it was true. In complete shock and confusion I started reading some of the comments on his page. Many people were sharing many of the same positive things I mentioned above. Some were sharing memories and pictures, anything that could make this reality feel real. Overall I knew that everyone felt like they were blessed to have shared the same space with him. I began to think about how I felt about him. How the positive comments that I shared above, I never conveyed to him. (Because what it might have been awkward?) How I had ideas I wanted to ask him about and never did. How I was intrigued by his life and would have loved to learn more. Many things that if I knew this day would come, I would HAVE ACTED on.

 

The following thoughts flashed through my head as I continued to think about life in general…  We have positive comments to say to one another, but we don’t. How we become angry with one another and easily toss friendships away. How holding grudges towards one another does not serve us a purpose but rather hinders us. How being in an unhappy environment is pointless; choose to walk away. How we let excuses comfort us. How we build walls in fear of being hurt. How we try to avoid love so things don’t get “complicated”. How we seek validation from others instead of trusting the most important person, ourselves. How we dismiss our intuition. How we let ourselves drown in friendships/behaviors that will not benefit our lives. How we forget to believe in ourselves. How we spend more time working on other individuals rather than ourselves. How we put others first at the cost of our own health. How sometimes we have to cut ties even in the most difficult situations. How we forget that we are STRONG! How comfort keeps us from seeking more in life. How we limit ourselves due to fear of something “not working out.” How we “save something for later” to avoid the task…. I could go on and on! You get where I am going with this. It’s so sad that an event such as a DEATH can instantly alter how you think and feel for a few moments. Depending on how close you are to the individual or how deep your relationship was, the impact may last longer. After the life altering event occurs and the “awakening” moment passes, we tend to forget the impact of this loss. After we are told about a loss, most of us think, “Wow, life is unexpected. Anything can happen to anyone. I should tell these people I love them. I should ignore the bullshit and focus on myself. That’s it I’m making changes.” We proceed to go about life with a different mindset. But then life itself happens. You know, it’s the moment when you snap out of this “mindset.” This usually happens after a mishap situation where we become frustrated with life and are reminded that life isn’t always this happy place and things do not always go as planned. So then we resort back to comfort. Shit gets back to normal and we get back to our regular everyday life. We move on and forget about the way of life we WANTED to follow after hearing about a loss and saying, “LIFE IS TOO SHORT AND ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.”

 

Not quite sure if anyone is STILL reading this post. If you are, thank you. The Kayla before hearing this news would have tried VALIDATING this essay with my best friend. I would have asked, “does this make sense, do you see grammar errors, who even cares about reading this, why am I ever sharing this, it’s too long, right?” This Kayla says screw what others think, this is my page, this is my platform to say what I CHOOSE to SAY, how I choose to FEEL and what I choose to SHARE! I believe that I decided to share these random thoughts for a few reasons. One is that this allowed me to vent in a healthy way about what I am feeling after hearing this news. Another reason is that it feels good to share ideas and meet others that might think/feel like I do. Lastly, I am tired of not living up to my highest potential KNOWING that I am CAPABLE of it. I would love it if my peers would join me in striving to achieve personal/spiritual growth at a different level. The type of change where you look back 12 months and say, “wow, that’s where I was, look where I am, look how I’m doing, I could never have imagined being here now.” That type of change. Sometimes when we think of huge change people imagine large projects such as starting a business or making a huge investment. No, everyone’s idea of success /happiness is different. It’s all about making changes that will in the end benefit you! It’s about beginning. It’s about having the final outcome in mind BUT focusing on the present. The image of that final outcome may always change. Always remember to take steps or you’ll go nowhere…. Next time I think of something that I want to do, I know that fear will try to creep in to convince me otherwise. But my response will be, “Why, not?” We all have the POWER to CREATE our OWN HAPPINESS. Now, it’s up to you to decide how and when.

 

K. Cortes M.S.W
#AreYouVSOP #TheVSOPLife
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It Only Took A Pen & A Phone

Write or not to write….that is the question???

Are you questioning if you should journal for fear of having record of this tumultuous time in your life? Are you struggling with getting your thoughts together? Or is “writing” something you just don’t do?

Whatever may be holding you back, I think journal-ing is a great option for a person facing transition in their lives.

 

One thing I must say, journal-ing and writing down what I was going through while dealing with my separation, divorce and even now, post-divorce it still helps! It wasn’t the easiest of decisions to make honestly, because as much as I like to write, I like to read too. So I knew that documenting the hurt, the struggles, the triumphs and even the drama all in a journal (or several journals to be exact), I would at some point go back and read some of these entries. Do you have that same problem, or fear you will do the same thing?

Well, listen, the truth is I did. I did go back and read and in the beginning, it was painful to read. But we are not exempt from pain or disappointment; what we do have power over is how we deal with the trials we will face in life. You can either live in fear and worry about what you “will do” or you can live now and focus on getting through this moment in your life. I decided to continue to journal and vent via writing, drawing, painting, being creative in anyway I felt comfortable. It turned out to be a great decision and an emotional one all at the same time. I really really struggled with some entries versus others. However; when reflecting on what I wrote, I got a sense of peace, knowing though I faced such turmoil and such heartache…I MADE IT.

No one can take that from you. No man, woman, or child. So why not you? START TODAY! Start writing, venting, scribbling, writing poems, collaging, taking selfies. Whatever you have to do to manage all the emotion; do it that. If you have a hard time figuring that out. Start with things that you enjoy doing and do it often. Use that energy to heal: release that stress, anxiousness, pain, and anger.It will be tough some days, but push through!  

Taking ‪#‎Selfies‬ helped me to witness change through my transition seeing my mood, expression and even my hair color/weight change. But seeing the entries from the beginning of my journey until now gives me another reason to smile and rejoice. Once I was able to jot down all the anger and disappointment of what was “happening to me”, I was able to move from the victim-hood mentality and move closer to forgiveness and gratefulness.

So, naturally, my entries turned from angry rants to soothing words of gratitude and delight. Writing what I was grateful for changed my view tremendously. It helped to remind me that I was not where I started and I definitely was growing and evolving! Praise the Lord! Because he knows, none of this is easy. But hard doesn’t mean impossible! With him it is possible. His grace is enough. Follow me on this journey of gratitude and forgiveness.

Order your “Action Speaks” journal today @ http://www.chelamora.com! Start journal-ing and taking your selfies. Remember to follow me @chelamora and @lamoracheheart on Instagram and when you start your selfies use the hashtags #selfie and #selfiechronicles. This is your journey, take hold and be of great courage, you are not alone. Much love.

-Che’

MY SON LIKES TRUCKS

My son is not quite two.  He plays the drums, the saxophone and the keyboard.  And if an ability to make a lot of noise is a measure for skill, he is gifted.  He enjoys eggs, singing Jingle Bells and chanting Mommy mommy mommy at obscene hours.  He hates when his hands are dirty.  He prefers Charlie Brown to Elmo.  He thinks fart noises are comedy gold.  And he loves, loves, loves playing with trucks.  He loves identifying trucks.  He loves saying the word ‘truck’.  His pronunciation is not so tight quite yet, so it sounds like he’s cussing but trucks are his jam.  I try my best to quiet my internal relief about that.  I never prayed that he would be drawn to blue things.  It was not my conscious desire that he be all snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.  I shrugged my shoulders when someone mistook him as a little girl in the airport. They apologized profusely as if I may have been insulted, as if I should have been insulted.  “I am so sorry!  It’s just…the braids, I thought…”  I was proud of my initial response.  I am proud of my parenting style and the way I refuse to place heavy value on some of the silly gender expectations we assign children. I looked at my beautiful baby boy and smiled.  I convinced myself that the haircut he got a month later was because I was tired of wrestling him to brush his hair and/or braid it and that it had nothing to do with people asking me when I was going to cut it and absolutely nothing to do with a stranger thinking he was a little girl.

 

I imagined myself being the type of parent who could buy their son an Easy Bake Oven and dare anybody to say anything about it.   But the truth is I am the type of parent that is relieved by their son’s interest in trucks.  I am not alarmed when he climbs the furniture and jumps off of it.  I tell him “you’re fine” when he stumbles and is trying to decide whether he should cry or keep playing. When someone says, “He is all boy ain’t he?” I am pleased.  It is my responsibility, to guide him towards being the person God has called him to be.  And I realized that I am really hoping he only stands out in ways that will make his life easier.  If he is smarter and faster and stronger than his peers, that would be better for him.  If he is the most prayerful or the most creative he could excel in ways that would benefit his life.  If he is unusual in the “wrong ways” it could make everything complicated.  He is Black and his mother is single. Those two things alone make him eligible for every negative statistic that exists.  I observed a mother describing her two year old Black son as soft when he would not stop crying.  “You soft water!  You so soft!”  I watched this same baby’s uncle snatch a guitar out of his hands and reprimand him for playing with a girl’s toy.  The guitar had pink designs on it.  In those moments I felt like I was witnessing a crime. A baby was being robbed of his right to emote and play freely.  Let’s meet up with this guy at twenty-two and see how well he manages interpersonal relationships.  Right there under the surface of my polite smile was hard judgment. I judged the entire family.  And as I traveled a little farther into myself I was able to understand.  Forgive us Father.  If fear and love are the only two motivating factors in any decision  a human can make, then fear is winning when it comes to parenting.

 

This is not an article about my son.  This is not even an article about subscribing to the Westernized ideals of femininity, masculinity and sexuality.  It is an article about being held hostage by our fears.  We are scared for our boys.   It would not be difficult for me to love my son if he wanted to wear pink and play with Barbie dolls like www.myprincessboy.com .  But it would be difficult for me to send him outside of our home knowing tolerance and understanding will not necessarily be waiting for him on the other side of the door.  It is difficult to leave him now.  Will his grandmother be as patient as I am when he throws a tantrum?  Will his daycare provider respond to his finicky eating with kindness and other options?  Will the children at the birthday party want to be his friend?  Will his teachers cater to his learning style? I want him to be favored.  I want him to be a leader.  I want him to be outstanding.  I want him to be loved.  I don’t want him to get hurt.   My “don’t wants” are so much louder. 

 

 I think I should be busy trying to create a world that is safer and more beautiful for every child instead of preparing my son for the world that actually exists.  I lean toward the latter in practice, the former in poetry.  I should do more.  I don’t know how.  Parents who discipline their sons for playing with toys that have glitter are not a part of my immediate circle.  But their children may be a part of my son’s.  I’m glad he likes trucks.  For now, it makes me feel a little less afraid.  But I promise not to ever snatch a pink guitar out of his hands.  Even if I kind of want to a little bit.

 

By: LYNNETTE JOHNSON
Twitter: @KnottyPoet IG:KnottyMama
@TheVSOPLife #AreYouVSOP

 

 

 

A Part of Me Died with Sandra Bland 

Last week I watched the police dash-cam footage of Sandra Bland’s traffic stop. As I watched the horrific interaction unfold, a slow numbness took over my body, followed by fear and panic. I felt like a toddler who lost their parents in a department store. I was scared and confused. Why was she stopped in the first place? Why was she asked to get out of her car? And why was Sandra arrested?
Trying to tweet the hurt away, I took to twitter to vent out my frustrations, but that did not help. My tweets were met with Internet trolls. While I responded and scrolled through the #SandraBland hashtag I saw words like combative, attitude, belligerent and insubordinate to justify her arrest and consequently her death.

 

I sat up in bed overwhelmed with emotion. Sandra was a brave and bold woman. She was a black, educated, millennial, young professional who moved to a new city to mobilize her career and pursue her passion. The more I thought about Sandra, the more I saw myself. I looked up at the ceiling and felt this feeling I can’t explain with words.

 

I usually pray at night before bed and that night was no different. But when I knelt down to pray, the words didn’t come out. I was at a complete loss of words. As warm tears rolled down my face, I knew a piece of me died with Sandra Bland. My friends would describe me as articulate. My parents would describe me as outspoken. My supervisor would describe me as stern and just. But if I were found dead in a jail cell, what would my media narrative be? How would my personality translate in a police report? I wept. My shirt was drenched in tears and the words still didn’t come. I simply didn’t know what to say. I wept some more.

 

Then I said the names of my friends one at a time. Then my sisters. My cousins. My mentors. My neighbors. My classmates. My aunts. I wept harder. I was completely distraught at the thought of such amazing women; such amazing people; being one self-advocacy moment away from a justice hashtag. Any of them could’ve been Sandra Bland. I wiped my face with my shirt and sat at the edge of my bed. A part of me died with Sandra Bland. I pray I get it back.

An Open Letter To Rachel Dolezal

Dear Rachel Dolezal,

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t waiting for an apology. Not because you can’t identify as a black woman or can’t feel particularly vested in black culture, but because it is likely that your actions and decisions have hurt and offended people of color, specifically women of color. The gall of you to finally make a statement and then disgorge responses that  were clearly homegrown on a farm of entitlement and white privilege. Let’s get a few things clear Rachel. Although you are a scholar and professor, you seem to have conveniently confused racial indeterminacy, the understanding that individuals can have multiple racial identities and race is not a fixed variable, and racial misrepresentation. Rachel, racial misrepresentation is theft; cultural theft to be exact.

It took no time at all for the good people of twitter to talk about black privilege, noting that black privilege must exist since you decided to become a black woman. I’m convinced that black privilege is a myth and I could be wrong, but I know that white privilege is alive and well. It is white privilege that helped you, as a white woman to feel entitled and empowered to claim blackness as your identity. You appropriate from black culture, and pose as a black woman fighting for the oppressed, while gaining access to prominence.

Your dishonesty devalues and erodes the experiences of those who actually did struggle growing up as people of color. You missed your calling to be an ally; correction, you declined your calling to be an ally. Instead, you used your privilege to assimilate and appropriate black culture. Growing up with black friends and adopted siblings does not constitute as growing up black.  You did not look this way as a child and you cannot recall genuine memories and experiences growing up black. You lied to propel your career forward and in doing so you occupied the platforms for REAL black women to share their authentic stories. Stories like mine. Tell me Rachel, how often did your peers accuse you of “acting white”? And unlike Jeff Humphrey, “I don’t understand the question.” will not suffice as an answer for me. I have spent much of my life defending my blackness. The label of “acting white” has been a social and academic mobility barrier for black people all over the US. If I speak in an educated and eloquent way I am “acting white.” So tell me Rachel, growing up how often was your intelligence and academic ambition a wager of cultural and racial exile?

You can identify as you please but also recognize that your actions minimize and trivialize the experiences of black women.  To add another layer to chaos, #transracial was trending on twitter and some began to erroneously equate the transracial experience with that of transgender. Yup, conservative commentators found themselves “caping” for you, claiming hypocrisy, since there was large acceptance of Caitlyn Jenner as a woman, but not for you as a black woman. Please note how your actions have distorted and regress identities that are already marginalized. I could go on and on about this but I won’t. I’m patiently waiting for you to “clarify that with the black community.”

Sincerely,

A legitimate African American (or as you prefer, black woman)

V.S.OP Spotlight: “The BARMAIDE”

Joiah “The BarMaide” Ladson

Its a pleasure to have our first of many Opulent Spotlights to be a close friend to the VSOP fam, Ms. Joiah Ladson. You might remember her as one of the best mixologists in the tri-state area, but now she can be found mixing it up as she ascends the fitness circuit traveling with the BarStarrz and matching the most effective workout regimens for her clients as a personal trainer.

Joiah was born and raised in Queens, New York, and was an active child as her parents ensured that she was engaged in organized sports. She left New York to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science with a concentration in Biology which she received in 2011 from the University of New Haven. While attending UNH, Joiah participated in many clubs and activities, but according to her own admission, her favorite activity was drinking. She shared that though she had amazing nights while under the influence, it took a toll on her well being.   In an interview with the VSOP Team, Joiah shares how she overcame her bout with alcohol and transformed from bar waitress to the “Barmaide.”

VSOP: “Tell us about your journey. How did you get into the industry that you are in?”
JL: “For years I struggled with alcoholism, it was taking a toll on my life and the people around me. I was spending too much money on alcohol and neglecting my bills. When I wasn’t drinking at my bartending job, I was drinking at home or at some other Happy Hour. In addition to drinking, I also had terrible eating habits. These habits included Doritos, fried chicken, Chinese food, daily trips to McDonald’s, bar food and non stop snacking. Within a few months I was at my heaviest weight, my stress levels had skyrocketed, bills piled up and I determined that it was time for a serious change. At this time I stopped making excuses for myself, signed up for a gym, cleaned up my eating habits and reached out to a few of my personal trainer friends that could help me get my life together.”

Alcoholism is a serious issue to face, and it controls many people’s lives. It is not uncommon for alcoholism to lead to bouts of depression and other life altering conditions. Joiah was able to replace the bottle with an outlet that not only improved her health, but also, her well being and her wealth.
JL: “I saved about $400 per month by eliminating alcohol purchases, and I gained an amazing body in return.  After about six months of working out on my own and with friends, I hired a personal trainer for some extra fitness advice. My personal trainer saw my drive and dedication which led us both to believe that I had a career in personal training. I decided to get into training because I realized the joys that fitness brought into my life. I knew I’d be able to connect with my clients on multiple levels because of what I had been through. I wanted to let people know that happiness and longevity are just a workout away. Exercise and healthy eating have the same addictive qualities as alcohol and drug use, except the results are much more rewarding.”

 

Many people would be satisfied with facing and conquering their demons, but this is only the beginning for “The Barmaide”.  Just as anyone who is seeking opulence in their lives, Joiah has goals and big goals at that.

VSOP: “Where do you see yourself at in the next 10 years?”
JL: “In ten years I see myself still involved in health and wellness, but more so as a brand.  I want to produce literature, digital apps, clothing and do motivational speaking that help promote my message.”

VSOP: “In regard to your message, what legacy do you seek to leave behind through your craft?”
JL:  “The legacy that I’d like to leave behind is that everyone struggles but that shouldn’t deter us from seeking better. You don’t have to be a product of a negative environment because life is so much easier when you’re happy. When you’re in a negative mind state, opportunity knocks but you’re too busy sulking that you won’t get up to answer. Once you change to a positive outlook on life, opportunity just walks right in.”

 

Opportunity is what many are waiting for, but just as Joiah stated, if you are not ready it will pass you by. As you continue to grind toward your goals and aspirations, remember that obstacles and barriers are meant to teach us lessons.  The road from bartender to “The Barmaide” has been riddled with obstacles, but Joiah has faced each challenge head on with intensity, and she has learned from what she has endured to get to where she is.

JL: “Throughout this journey I’ve faced some health and financial obstacles that slowed my process but never stopped me. Participating in Spartan Races taught me that obstacles are meant to be overcome. I’ve been in the hospital for severe dehydration and starvation, ruptured ovarian cysts and emergency wisdom tooth extraction. Unexpected car/medical issues that I didn’t budget for would take away from my grocery and gym membership funds but I always found a way to pull through. Besides the medical and financial issues I was still battling my addiction. For the first few months into the journey I had to really convince myself that I did not NEED alcohol. I embrace everything I’ve been through because it lets me know that I can overcome challenges. If I had to do one thing all over again I would alter my spending habits and budget more wisely.”

VSOP: “What advice would you give a young person looking to get into your industry?”
JL: “ To the young person looking to get into personal training and all around wellness I recommend that you do your research. When I started working out I wasn’t familiar with the science behind it. I currently hold three different certifications which allow me to better assist my clients in reaching their goals (Certified Personal Training, Performance Enhancement Specialist and Corrective Exercise Specialist). Use your resources and understand that even after studying the science portion you’re still not the smartest person in the world. There is a constant exchange of knowledge in this field that will allow you to excel. Practice what you preach. On a number of occasions I’ve seen trainers advise certain workout and meal regimens but they’re overweight with poor eating habits. Just like the airline oxygen mask principle, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Let it be understood that your body is your business card and your lifestyle is your resume.”

VSOP: “In your opinion what is opulence?”
JL: “Opulence is health, because health is wealth. The greatest luxury I can ever obtain is a fit and healthy body that can perform the way a body should.”

 

Life is an ever changing path with many twists and turns. One that “The Barmaide” herself has traversed and is still progressing along with a far more positive outlook. With her drive, passion, perseverance and know-how, Joiah has defined her opulence and is certainly seizing it, truly living the VSOP Life. Salute to “The Barmaide” for who you were, who you are, and who you are becoming!

Now there’s only one question to ask, #AreYouVSOP?

Joiah “The BarMaide” Ladson

IG: @The_Barmaide
Twitter: @MamaJ_UrHiness
Email: jlads19@gmail.com