Positively Optimistic and Powerful with Crystal Marie

Crystal Bio Pic

One of Crystal Marie’s favorite quotes: “There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise.” -W.E.B. Dubois

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.

Crystal MBA Graduation

Crystal Marie received her MBA in 2014, graduated Magna Cum Laude #Woot #Woot

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.”

Crystal Marie co-facilitating a workshop with her best friend for over 500 high school girls focused on self- esteem, beauty and media images.

Crystal Marie co-facilitating a workshop with her best friend for over 500 high school girls focused on self-esteem, beauty and media images.

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 with Jackie Robinson West

The “Snapshots of Life” blogger interviewed Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Little League Champions for a Black History Month event earlier this year.

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.

PBWB: I will definitely have to check out an Alvin Ailey performance. Maybe that should be on my next 101 in 1001 list! Now tell us…what is your favorite book, poem, song, or quote?

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.”

Crystal Global Trip Internship

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. “ -Coco Chanel

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’ 😉

On Bloggers: An Interview with Popped Black Woman

PBWB Fam, I’m so happy to announce that yours truly has been featured on the Properly Improper blog in the series “On Bloggers.” Please stop by there and read about me rambling about all things POP!

The founder of this blog is the wonderful Shahidah Ali whom you may remember from our February P.O.P. Women feature. Also check that feature out if you haven’t done so already. Shahidah’s spirit inspires me every time I read her words. Much love to you all and keep it poppin’ 😉

Properly Improper

One of the best things about these internets are the many opportunities we get to ‘meet’ new people, read different perspectives and broaden our little bit of the world. I am very happy to have come across Popped Black Woman one day in my WordPress feed and have been hooked on her positivity and good nature ever since. I’m encouraged by her spirit and I’d like to pass that on to all the wonderful folks who follow my blog…we all need a positive, optimistic, and powerful woman in our blogosphere…

Please enjoy getting to know Carla of the Popped Black Woman Blog!

Carla Duckface

I’ve come across some very interesting blog names and I really like yours. How did you come up with Popped Black Woman and what does it mean?

I wanted to choose a name that would be different and memorable. Since my blog is all about empowerment for women…

View original post 1,906 more words

The Positively Optimistic and Powerful Destiny


Destiny with her smoothie goodness

I’m humbled to introduce all of my positively optimistic & powerful people to Destiny from the Fit2Luv blog for the second installment of the Positively Optimistic & Powerful Women series. Destiny is a vegan nutrition and fitness blogger and a dear friend of mine. When she’s not inspiring people to lead a more healthy and fit lifestyle, she’s empowering people to demand fair pay and treatment as a labor organizer. Without further ado, let me introduce you to the one and only Destiny who never ceases to make me want to dream bigger and be better.

Popped Black Woman Blog: Thank you for taking the time to inspire us Ms. Destiny. Let’s start by telling us a little about yourself. I really respect the work you do as a labor organizer. Can you tell us about that?

Destiny: As a child I was mesmerized with the “Eyes on the Prize” series. I remember raiding my mom’s closet, donning her dashiki and asking her to cut my hair into an afro. Imagine that! Needless to say, grassroots organizing and political activism is something that has always been close to my heart.

My current field of work, Labor Organizing, has not only given me the opportunity to speak up for those who are not able to speak for themselves but also to empower those who may feel their voices don’t matter. In the future I would like to continue in this field by expanding my knowledge and moving forward within the labor movement.

PBWB: That’s great! I really respect your work to give voice to the voiceless. When did you become positively optimistic and powerful yourself?

Destiny: For me, being optimistic and powerful is an everyday conscious decision to live each day on purpose. There is not one specific calendar date that I could point out and say, “This is where it all began.” In fact, there were many days when I felt inadequate and just simply not good enough. I think a lot of that stemmed from focusing on pleasing everyone and subsequently failing myself in that process. Honestly, I have to say that it was the triumph from those hard and depressing moments that showed me who I really was and what I am made of.

Destiny's Vision Board

Destiny’s Vision Board

I am a visual person so one of the things [that] really helps me to maintain a positive and optimistic attitude on [a] regular basis is having little reminders posted around my home. It can be something as simple [as] an encouraging message on my fridge with alphabet letters or something more involved like a vision board made with cutouts from magazines. Another visual that helps is to have my goals posted somewhere I can see them daily. This visualization method not only helps to reinforce the positives and keep my eyes on the prize but it reminds me that it’s an everyday journey.

PBWB: What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing young women and women today?

Destiny: I think one of the biggest issues that women face today is the battle of the mind. In today’s day and age, the pressure to be the perfect daughter, mother, and wife is at an all time high. With the rise of social media, false images of perfection and happiness are plastered everywhere and unfortunately have become the golden standard. Society tells us that happiness is a husband, two kids, a house, and a car. It shows us that perfection as a woman is determined by maintaining a good waist to hip ratio and making sure our eyebrows, outfit and edges are on “fleek” at all times.

Unfortunately, even after achieving those so-called “goals” it doesn’t bring the happiness that we expected because after a while our mind and our eyes tell us that we still need more.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be successful but when that desire overcomes us and takes control of us emotionally it becomes a problem. The Bible says as a woman thinketh in her heart so is she. Instead of looking to celebrities or Instagram or coworkers for validation of who we should be we should constantly be building ourselves up with God’s word. No longer can we allow the approval of others to dictate our feelings and attitude, we must learn how to encourage ourselves by saying what God says about us.

PBWB: I couldn’t agree more. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you turned twenty?

Destiny at her 20th birthday photoshoot. Workin' it!

Destiny at her 20th birthday photoshoot. Workin’ it!

Destiny: If I could have a heart to heart talk with 20 year old Destiny I would say: No matter what anyone tells you or doesn’t tell you, Destiny you are beautiful inside and out. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things and meet new people. Watch the company you keep! Your time is precious, don’t waste it. Don’t let rejection make you stagnant. You will never know what is beyond that door if you don’t walk through it!

PBWB: You just on here preaching today. I think all this truth has just slicked my edges all the way down. Wow. On a lighter note, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Destiny: In my free time, I enjoy doing DIY projects for my house, cooking new dishes and of course shopping! This year one of my goals is to be more “cultured” so I want to do things like read one book a month, visit the orchestra and catch a few Broadway shows. I also started a fitness and weight loss blog called “Fit2Luv” to help me stay motivated in my health journey.

PBWB: Awesome. Leave us with your favorite book, poem, song, or quote and why.

Destiny: One verse that speaks volumes to my life and personal experience is, “The race is not given to the swift but to those who endure til the end.” This verse is very empowering to me because it reminds me that my biggest competition is within. So instead of running myself ragged trying to keep up with the Joneses, I now purpose to live in the moment and focus on completing each task with excellence.

A beautiful vegan dish made by Destiny. Check out more pics and recipes at her blog, Fit2Luv.

A beautiful vegan dish made by Destiny. Check out more pics and recipes at her blog, Fit2Luv.

Wow, thanks so much to Destiny for stopping by and sharing so much truth with us! Be sure to leave any comments for Destiny below or on Facebook. Be sure to check her out on her blog at Fit2Luv. You can also keep up with all things Destiny at fitnflyydiva on Instagram and Fit2Luv on Facebook. Please soak up this encouragement and email me at poppedblackwomanblog@gmail.com if you or someone you know would like to be featured in this series. Stay encouraged folks! 😉

The Positively Optimistic and Powerful Shahidah

Welcome you lovely guys and gals to the very first Positively Optimistic and Powerful Woman feature. Today’s popped woman is the very warm, smart, and beautiful Shahidah Ali of the Properly Improper blog. If you haven’t checked out her blog already, I’m sure the glimpse of this woman that you get from her interview today will make you want to follow her with the utmost quickness. She has one of my favorite blogs and she’s also been one of my biggest fellow blogger supporters as I get my feet wet in the blogging world and I’m forever grateful. I’m blessed to have her as the very first P.O.P. Woman on the Popped Black Woman Blog. Please check out her interview below:

The Lovely Ms. Ali

The Lovely Ms. Ali

Popped Black Woman Blog: Thank you for taking the time to connect with the Popped Black Woman Blog Community Shahidah! Let’s open up with you telling us what you are passionate about. I’ve always liked that question better than “what do you do?”

Shahidah Ali: I am passionate about empowering women especially women who are in the position to do their life ‘over’

PBWB: That’s awesome. When did you become positively optimistic and powerful yourself?

SA: Hmmm, I don’t know if I would describe myself as positively optimistic or powerful. I know that I have a certain strength and I do admire that about myself. I try to live with optimism because it is too hard not to. I’m too lazy to be negative all the time. I truly believe life is simple but we overcomplicate it. I want to be happy and I want to believe that things will work out so its how I choose to be.

PBWB: I certainly strive to do the same. What particular challenges have you overcome?

SA: I think right now I’m in the middle or maybe the beginning of my biggest challenge. For the past eleven years I’ve been reasonably successful. Divorced and raised three children on my own, provided them their own home and stability. I’m very proud of those accomplishments, the proof is in their happy laughs and constructive contribution to society, but as much as I did for them I didn’t do things for myself. I used them as an excuse to not pursue my goals of stepping out on faith. It is easy to go to work everyday for someone else, to be a part of a team etc…but for me the hardest thing is striking out on my own. Doing what I have dreamed I’d be doing all my life. If I still have this dream then shouldn’t I try to live it. Right now that is my challenge and I think it is my biggest…setting myself up to live the life I want. To go to bed at night feeling truly accomplished.

Ali Blog Interview Pic 3

Shahidah describes this pic as “my daughter and me right before I entered the world of grandmotherhood via my oldest son”

PBWB: It certainly is hard to step out on faith and pursue our true passions. We certainly wish you all the best on your journey. Give us an idea of where you would like to be in the next 5-10 years.

SA: In less than a year I want to be doing work I love. I am currently working on a business plan that is in its very early stages, still figuring out the mission statement. I also plan that in less than five years I will be an established well-paid author and book publisher. There was a time I wanted to be famous but I don’t need that I just need to be satisfied and proud of my work and also be able to survive off of it.

PBWB: Very nice. What would then be your ultimate goals?

SA: To do work that makes me proud. To support others in their goals. To be the anchor for my children. To be stronger than I am today.

Ali Blog Interview Pic 2

Properly Improper Blog: https://improperri.wordpress.com/

PBWB: Those are all great goals. To get a bit more general, what do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing young women and women today?

SA: I think women are in a unique position, especially black women. There are more women entrepreneurs, more college graduates and in general very successful women in the world. I think the biggest challenge for women is not letting society dictate who and what we should be. Its sad to see women we admire and love to see suffering from insecurities thrust on us by society…a male dominated society. I believe we can get and achieve external goals if we just try but the biggest challenge is facing and dealing with the internal blocks we set up for ourselves-self-acceptance, fear, and desire to the women we see on television etc…

PBWB: Please tell us what woman past or present do you look up to the most? Why?

SA: I often say I am a lover of women but I’m not a lesbian. Women are phenomenal…I am always in awe of the things we can do and what we can overcome. I feel very privileged to be a woman, as flawed as I am. There are so many women I admire and look up too but for this I’m going to with my daughter, Mia. What I love most about her is she lives without fear. She says she wants to do something and she sets it in motion and does it. She has been my best cheerleader in talking me into going after my dreams. I hope she never lets the world talk her into a place of not living the way she wants to live…

What Shahidah enjoys doing in her free time:

Oh I hate to admit this but in my free time I love being a grandma. I have one grandchild Autumn is 4mos and one I call my bonus grandchild Darius is three. I love taking them places, baking, making them things, spoiling them. Its so different having grandchildren because you are not in charge of raising them but you can give them so much.

What Shahidah wish she knew when she was twenty…

That being safe is not always the best option.

Shahidah’s Favorite Book Right Now:

Alice Walker’s first book, The Third Life of Copeland Grange

What she’s saying about it?

The characters are ugly but there is redemption and change.

Many infinite thanks to Shahidah for stopping by the PBWB to share a bit of herself with us. We will take all the wisdom and insight she has shared with us on our own journeys. For even more Shahidah Ali, connect with her on her blog Properly Improper and tweet her on Twitter @sali1368 where she says,
“I am still amazed by Twitter. I wake up at 5am and people I follow are already knee deep in conversations…that can’t be a good thing, can it?” That sounds like a great thing to us. Let’s keep those positively optimistic and powerful convos going. Share any comments regarding the interview below or on our Facebook page. Stay poppin’ folks 😉