May’s Gem Precious Jewell Middleton
I am honored to introduce to you, May’s Gem, Precious Middleton. I am in awe of her story. She has managed to turn tragedy into triumph, and is working to make that a reality for others who are still experiencing the fallout of troubled pasts. I know that this will be a blessing to everyone who reads this post. Read on and be inspired by May’s Gem, Precious Jewell Middleton.
Me: How would you describe yourself? Who is Precious?
Precious: I’m a mother. I’m a lover of God. I’m an entrepreneur, a serial entrepreneur. I would say that I’m an overall great person.
Me: Tell me about your beginnings. Where were you born?
Precious: My siblings and I were raised in the projects in Jeffersonville, IN. I’m the oldest of three children.
Me: What are your happiest childhood memories?
Precious: Being outside, talking and singing to the stars. I also remember pretending that I was a teacher, reading to my sisters and brother.
Me: What did you dream of becoming when you grew up?
Precious: Great question. Let’s see. I was into art, creative expression. We didn’t have much. I used yarn to express my creativity. As a matter of fact, I got in trouble at school once for stealing yarn. I was going to create something that I could sell. I don’t know what I was intending to make, but that intention was strong.
Me: What were some of your greatest fears growing up?
Precious: Honestly, we grew up, the 3 of us, in a fear-based home. Everything was my biggest fear.
Me: What do you mean when you say that it was a “fear-based” home?
Precious: It was fear-based because of domestic violence, poverty, and the uncertainties that come of it all. There was nothing promising for a child to look forward to. For me, that was fearful.
Me: What made you the most hopeful at that time? What made you believe in yourself?
Precious: There were many times when I would sit outside on the rooftop with my blanket and my Raggedy Ann doll. I would talk to the stars, and just hope that I would live another day. That was my prayer, to just make it through the night.
Me: Did you have a support system at all, anyone to comfort you from the turmoil that you experienced?
Precious: Well, it was hard. There wasn’t really a biggest supporter. I do remember that my grandmother was the sweetest person. She would bring a mint green cake to lighten things for us. I also remember that she gave me my first bike. I would say my grandparents were a support system for us.
Me: What has been your biggest accomplishment, so far?
Precious: I’ve been through very difficult experiences in childhood and adulthood. My greatest challenge and accomplishment has been overcoming those tragedies, and believing in myself.
My primary concern was that I didn’t want to repeat my upbringing with my children. Education was a force in my childhood home. We had to learn to read, we had to learn to speak. It was a big thing in our home, but it wasn’t enforced in a healthy way. I wanted to make sure that my kids saw the healthy part of being in school and getting over challenges. Children need education but it doesn’t have to be a brutal experience
Me: You were speaking of difficulties in both childhood and adulthood. What were particularly difficult situations?
Precious: I didn’t know if I would survive my childhood. We had mental illnesses in the home. I didn’t know if I would survive the attacks from my parents at the time. I experienced physical, mental, and sexual abuse. There really wasn’t any boundary.
Me: Were rescued from that at any point?
Precious: We were in and out of foster homes throughout the childhood abuse. We lived with different family members. Actually, my first memory is coming home from a foster home at three years old and meeting my biological mother for the first time.
Me: Let’s talk about healing. What was the first step in you healing from the abuse?
Precious: It was not until 2010 that I realized that there was an issue. Around 2008 the market fell. I lost my job, my home, all of these material possessions. I felt that I needed those things to feel accomplished, to feel that I was doing a good job for my children. Things fell apart. I lost control and almost committed suicide. I had to pick myself up. Even though my family was there, I needed to find the answer to why I almost committed suicide. That led me to a journey of self-discovery. Through this process, I learned that my coping skills were low. I decided to go into counseling. During my sessions, the therapist made the connection that because of the severe abuse during childhood, I was still suffering.
Me: Was that the first time that this connection was made?
Precious: Yes. The sexual abuse was major. I learned in counseling that, because there were no boundaries, I felt that people could do and say anything, which ultimately killed my spirit. The year 2010 was my first encounter with self-discovery and trying to find out answers to who I was.
Me: What place are you in now in terms of your self-esteem and confidence?
Precious: I would say that I’m a strong 8. Before my process of self-discovery, I was in the negative numbers. Things improve once you realize what you have overcome. I’m ok with the fact that I’m always a work in progress. I’m not perfect, and I feel like God is showing me my new value. At one time in my life I had no value.
Me: What do you feel is your purpose?
Precious: I am just finding that out through prayer and meditation, and by taking care of myself. My purpose is to speak to other women and encourage them. They may be experiencing something that has everything to do with their childhood that ran over into adulthood. I think my purpose is to shed light on mental illness and self-esteem recovery for those who’ve been through events that are tragic. I’m here to give a voice to those who don’t have a voice.
Me: In what ways are you sharing your story to encourage others?
Precious: On my blog, Precious Jewel Speaks, I write about my journey to show that you can overcome any obstacle. I am also in the process of writing my first book, entitled Pulling Back the Covers. In my book, I will share more about the tragedies that I have experienced, and my process of healing.
Me: At this point, are you where you want to be? Are you satisfied with where you are now?
Precious: I would say that I am content with my corporate job, but I know God says that there is more for me. There are people who have a story like mine who need to heal and be inspired. I hope to be that voice that helps to uplift them. There’s still a lot of growth for me.
Me: We’ve talked about your growth over time, and your healing process. What do you love most about the woman who you are today?
Precious: My tenacity. Throwing in the towel is not an option. I’ve learned this about myself, having gone through domestic violence, finishing school, raising children. I love that I have the tenacity to get things done.
Me: What is your biggest goal at this point in your life?
Precious: My oldest daughter is 17 and graduating from high school. I was 15 when I had her. My other baby is graduating 5th grade. Just being there with them through this process is my biggest goal. Making sure that my children are well protected and taken care of has been my biggest motivator. Opening up chapter 2 in my life is the next goal. I’m thinking about relocating and starting a clean slate. I plan to get my book out this summer. I’m staying the course, learning to take care of me, and that’s ok.
Me: What is your advice to someone who may have had a similar background as yours, but who has not started the healing process?
Precious: Slow down and get to know yourself before you try to get to know someone else. Once you master self-discovery and self-love, you raise your standards as to how others will treat you. You know your value and you don’t wait for someone else to give you your value. Admit areas where you’re weak, and seek help. Get counseling.
Me: Do you think that seeking professional counseling is still a stigma in the African-American community?
Precious: Absolutely. In my childhood, the thought was “what goes on in our home, stays in our home”. I’m sure that this is true across the board. I want to say that it’s ok to get the help that you need if facing depression, thoughts of suicide, or abuse in your life. It’s ok to take care of yourself.
Me: Is there anything else that you would like to share as encouragement to others who are striving to take care of themselves?
Precious: One nugget—limit and set boundaries around anyone who you feel is draining your life. You deserve to be loved, cared for, and respected. Pray about the relationship, and, if necessary, you may need to end it.
I have to say that I am finally able to embrace my name now at 33 years of age. I know that God sees me as a Precious Jewel and I’m excited about that.
I want to thank Precious for being so open and transparent. Her story is certain to help others in their healing process. Please comment and let Precious know how her story has touched you.
Be sure to support her upcoming book, Pulling Back the Covers, on Amazon.
*Available for pre-order
As women, we are often pulled in so many directions. It’s important for us to find a balance in managing all of our obligations so that our health and happiness do not suffer. As we know, some of us are better at doing this than others. Sometimes it helps to sit down and get advice from a sister friend about how she juggles it all. When I decided on this topic, my sorority sister and friend, Diandra Polk was the first to come to mind. She has so much on her plate, but manages it all with sheer grace.
Diandra and her hubby, Shawn, are the parents of an absolutely adorable set of twins. In addition to being a dedicated wife and mom, Diandra is a proud teacher of special needs students. She is active in her church and various community organizations. She loves the arts, and is a very talented dancer and singer.
Read on and get to know April’s Gem, Diandra Polk
Me: I have to tell you that I’ve been looking forward to this. I don’t know if you know this, but I truly admire you. When I think of Diandra, I think of someone who can do it all: you’re talented, a wife, a mom, you can dance, you can sing, and the list goes on and on. You seem to be doing it all.
Diandra: Oh my, now I didn’t come here so that you could make me cry (laughter). You know, as women we need to hear those things from one another. I appreciate that. There’s not enough positivity among women.
Me: I’ve told you how I see Diandra. How would you describe yourself? Who’s Diandra?
Diandra: I’m a chameleon. No matter the situation, I tend to adapt. Don’t get me wrong, like anyone else, from time to time, I may feel like buckling under pressure, but failure is not an option.
Me: You seem to be a very resilient person.
Diandra: I’ve always known whose I was. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves whose we are. I can tell that I’m maturing. I deal with things differently. In most cases, if I’m dealing with something you would never know it. For instance, if I’m at work and experience a particularly stressful situation, I may get in my car and have a boo-hoo, hallelujah cry. I walk out and pull it all together. This is when my mom’s survival kit comes in handy. She told me to always have on hand Visine, tissue, an ink pen, and mints.
Me: Let’s go back a little. Describe Diandra, the child. It’s always interesting to see how a person evolves.
Diandra: Creative. I don’t think that I wanted attention, but I wanted siblings. I was very imaginative- I guess like most children. One night I was pretending Michael Jackson was coming to pick me up. I had my bags packed and everything. Definitely imaginative. I was heavily into the arts: dance and piano. Dance has always been my life.
Me: Besides wanting to be Michael Jackson’s girlfriend, what were some of your happiest childhood memories?
Diandra: I used to love watching Annie, and I liked to reenact the scene where she fell asleep and Daddy Warbucks carried her to bed. My mom would play along and carry me to bed.
Me: What did imaging becoming as an adult? What did you want to become?
Diandra: Everybody goes through that “I want to be a teacher” phase, but I was saying that because I liked playing teacher, acting like I was grading papers. I had my little chalkboard. I never thought anything would come out of my creativity. Of course when you’re younger, you can’t decipher all of that. I just knew that I would dance. I would look up to the dancers who were older than me and set my dance goals. I didn’t think in terms of where my creativity would take me.
Me: On the flip side, what was your greatest fear?
Diandra: I used to struggle with not being accepted. It was a silent fear. It didn’t sway me one way or another. I was always my own person. I never had a set group of people who I would hang with. I got along with everyone. I guess that’s a part of that “chameleon complex”.
Me: Seems like you come from a supportive family. What have been the greatest lessons you’ve learned from your mom and dad?
Diandra: From my mom, I learned to endure, to stand no matter what, and to never let them see you sweat. From my dad-perseverance. My dad just completed his master’s degree in divinity. From him, I’ve learned that it’s never too late. Pretty much, both of my parents taught me to endure because the blessing is on the other side; walk until you receive your blessing.
Me: Do you feel that you’re where you’re supposed to be in life?
Diandra: No. I don’t feel that I have a grasp on what my purpose is. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy. I’m content with where I am as far as my teaching position is concerned. I received advice from a friend that pretty much spoke to this topic. He said that God may be allowing me to be content in my current position so that I can branch off and develop my other talents. Now, my dilemma: in what way can I utilize those talents?
Me: You’re successful at so many things. What has been your greatest accomplishment, so far?
Diandra: Bringing twins into this world. I say that because a doctor told me at one time that I would never give birth.
Me: What’s your greatest hope for your babies?
Diandra: True happiness in all aspects of life.
Me: You have to be proud of all that you have going on. What do you love most about yourself?
Diandra: I never cease to amaze myself. When I think that I’ve done all that I can do, I excel.
Me: What advice would you give to women who may be facing obstacles with getting to this point of being happy with life and content with herself?
Diandra: You have to put yourself in God’s hands. Allow God to show you your purpose. Allow God to show you true love.
Gems From April’s Gem
*Having a relationship with God and having faith can make a difference in how you handle life’s obligations.
*Be resilient. Life may seem overwhelming at times, but we all must have develop our own healthy ways to cope.
*Though you may be busy nurturing those around you, do not neglect to take care of yourself. Take time to find your own source of happiness. Nurture your purpose and talents.
*Be supportive of your children’s dreams, and provide them with resources that will enhance their talents.
*Take the time to pat another sister friend on the back. Even if you think that she knows how great she is, tell her anyway.
Thanks, Diandra, for taking the time to chat with me. I know that this post will touch so many!
Gems, be sure to comment and let Diandra know how her story has touched you.
Antoinette C. is a blogger who delights in all things that foster unity and growth in women. After all, if the woman is happy and fulfilled, so is her family and community. Through Truly Charmed, Antoinette will introduce you to women who have inspired her, and who will, hopefully, do the same for you! Here's to your charmed life!