Happy Monday to all of my beautifully popped people! Welcome to the 3rd installment of the Positively Optimistic and Powerful Women Series. This month, I am beyond ecstatic to bring you a woman that lives and breathes her faith in God and her passion for mentoring young women. I am privileged to have been one of her many “Little Sistas” in college and can testify that she is passionate about education and helping young women build confidence and self-esteem.
Crystal Marie is a native of North Chicago, IL and attended Wheaton College, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. In 2014, she received her Masters of Business Administration from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management (Magna Cum Laude) and was the recipient of the 2014 Hotchkiss Scholar Award, Lake Forest’s highest honor. In addition to her many other endeavors, she somehow finds the time to blog over at Snapshots of Life.
Just to give you all a little taste of her blog, here’s Crystal Marie’s belief statement for Snapshots of Life:
Speak BOLDLY for Women and Girls! These are the words that guide my life. When God’s most beautiful creation (Woman) begins to question her worth, beauty, and intellect, the world suffers. Society sets unattainable standards for women and we have been trained to sit quietly and accept the extermination of our authentic selves. Who says, “Enough, No More?”
I started Snapshots of Life Blog for every woman and girl who wants to begin the journey of self-acceptance and authenticity. I am not an authority on Women’s Issues. I am just a sister, daughter, and friend who desires to share my thoughts and experiences as I seek to fully embrace the woman I am meant to be. I desire to start a movement of sisters who embrace our authentic selves.
Now let’s get to the interview!
Popped Black Woman Blog: When did you become positively optimistic and powerful?
Crystal Marie: I can’t pinpoint when it exactly happened, by nature I’m extroverted and optimistic; I tend to look at things from the “Glass Half Full” perspective. I do believe that I became most powerful in my life when I made peace with my weaknesses. First, I recognized my need for a Savior and my inability to save myself. Second, I learned to believe that non perfect Crystal is much more lovable and relatable than perfect “image” Crystal. The secret to real power is embracing our powerlessness.
PBWB: I completely agree. We are all imperfect in some way. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be human. Can you tell us some particular challenges or struggles that you have personally overcome?
Crystal Marie: I’ve struggled with unhealthy body image which manifested itself in over-exercising/dieting and many of the behaviors associated with eating disorders. It has taken a lot of prayer, therapy, accountability, and daily, healthy practices to get me to the point that I can acknowledge this was/is an area of struggle for me. But being honest about it, has allowed me to feel stronger and freer than I ever imagined. I actually just wrote a blog series surrounding this issue on my blog. As a Black woman, I wanted to break down the stereotype that says “unhealthy body image and eating disorders are not black girl issues.” We can’t get help if minority women in particular believe we are immune to this issue.
PBWB: We definitely are not immune from any of the “not black girl issues,” ranging from eating disorders to depression and everything in between. Besides for unhealthy body image, what do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing young women and women today?
Crystal Marie: Lack of a relationship with God: When we don’t know our Creator and His plan for our lives, how can we truly know ourselves? So much time is spent on relationships that won’t last, while the ONLY relationship that will last, is neglected.
Low self-esteem: We don’t love or value ourselves, so we accept treatment and behave in ways that are beneath our dignity.
Sexting, Selfies, and Social Media: The desire to be told we are beautiful and sexy has grown to such a disgusting and unhealthy level by young women. Countless hours are spent on pointless life updates, manipulated /inappropriate pictures, and private thoughts that should NEVER be published. Personal business is broadcast for the world, reputations are ruined, jobs are lost, and self-respect is lost through false “online” lives, rather than investing in our real lives. Sisters, we are better than this.
Lack of Discipline and Focus: It is disheartening to see how easily many women throw away their futures before they have even begun. If I could tell my little sisters in particular, one thing it would be, “Sit down and FOCUS. Intelligence is beauty; focus on this kind of pretty. One day your education and decisions will play a major role in your life goals, don’t squander it.”
PBWG: You’ve had so many “Little Sisters” over the years that you’ve mentored. I’m blessed to be one of them. When you think about yourself at 20 years old, what do you know now that you wish you knew then? Maybe give some words of advice for your new “Little Sisters” in the blogosphere.
Crystal Marie: “Stop worrying: the degree, the job, the relationship, the house…the desired FUTURE it will ALL come! Just be in the Moment, girl.” “Turning 30 is going to be the BEST birthday of your life or at least so far! Thirty will be so amazing and freeing!”
PBWB: That is great to hear! For me, by every birthday, I feel so much more comfortable; so much more myself than the year before. I love the wisdom that comes with time. What woman past or present do you look up to the most and why?
Crystal Marie: Proverbs 31:10 asks, who can find a virtuous woman for her price is far above rubies. I can say that I have found such a woman in my mother. I have met many talented and beautiful women but there is no one woman I respect, love, or look up to more than my mom. My mom is the epitome of grace, strength, realness, and beauty. My mother has such a loving and intimate relationship with God and it permeates everything she does in life. It’s amazing to watch the lives she touches and the way she NEVER sets limits on herself or others. I also admire the way my mother views motherhood, she believes it is her greatest calling and that is evident by the way she raised my siblings and I. We were and have always been first. I find it very difficult to watch mothers who don’t act like mothers because my mom made it her life goal to invest in our lives. If I could be half of the woman my mother is, it would be my greatest achievement.
PBWB: Absolutely beautiful. Speaking of achievements and goals, what are your goals over the next 5-10 years?
Crystal Marie: My goal is to start a foundation for underprivileged adolescent and teen girls. Ten years from now I want this dream to be a reality which requires me to invest in its conception now.
PBWB: Love it! I can definitely see that happening! What would you say are your ultimate goals?
Crystal Marie: To be Joyful. I spent many years looking to be happy but I’ve learned that happiness is temporary, Joy is eternal no matter the circumstance. This is the type of Joy only God can give.
To be remembered with a smile. I desire to bring joy to other people’s lives. I want others to feel valued and loved in their interactions with me. If I die and one person is compelled to smile when describing me, than my life will have counted for something.
To enjoy the work I do. No job is fun all of the time but I want to do work that means something. I want to be so passionate about the work that I do that it propels me to keep pushing even on the hard and boring days.
I want to pay the rent of a stranger. For many years, I have prayed that I will be in the financial position to one day write a check for a stranger that completely covers their rent or any other need they may have. I don’t need the accolades, I just love the joy that comes from making someone else smile.
PMWB: Wow, those are some truly inspirational goals. I hope my fellow P.O.P. readers have been even half as inspired and encouraged as I have been by your words. After so much depth and wisdom, how about we end on a lighter note? What are some things that you enjoy doing in your free time?
Crystal Marie: I love listening to music. I have a very well-rounded/slightly eclectic taste in music. Lyrics are a big deal to me; I love a great beat and hook as much anyone else but if I can’t connect with the words, if the lyrics don’t come from a deeper part of the author then I will lose interest in the song. My perfect day is curling up in a comfy chair with a good book, my Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, a cup of Panera Iced Green Tea and a white chocolate chip cookie. I ADORE Alvin Ailey American Dance Company. Front row seats to their annual performances in Chicago just gives me LIFE! Mentoring is my Greatest passion. I love encouraging and spending time with young women.
Crystal Marie: [My favorite scripture is] Jeremiah 1:5, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you.” [My favorite book is] We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century by Dorothy Sterling. Presently, [my favorite song is] “Unbreakable Smile” by Tori Kelly.
PBWB: I’ll have to put my library card to use and check out that book. I’m always on the hunt for my next read. It’s been truly an honor to have you on the blog. Thank you so much! I’m sure everyone will want to know where to find more inspiration from you. Please let all my popped people know where to find you online.
Crystal Marie: Check out my blog: Snapshots of Life and my Facebook Group: “Snapshots of Life: United Sisters Group.”
Words cannot express how grateful I am that Crystal Marie stopped by to share so much of herself with us. She’s been such a positive influence in my life and I’m happy to share her wisdom with the Popped Black Woman Blog Community. To all my positively optimistic and powerful people, leave your comments below or on the PBWB Facebook page. Keep it poppin’ 😉