Meet my friend of 16 years, La Tina! She’s raising her daughter Layla, working her day job, finding her passion, and just trying to live her best life in the midst of it all. I hope her inspiring story of triumph and faith can encourage and motivate you.
How would you describe the Life and Times of LaTina?
I would describe the life and times of La Tina as, never a dull moment! Every day is full of new challenges, lessons, and blessings. I am a single mother, working full time, and doing everything I can to ensure my daughter lacks nothing. A typical Monday starts at 5:30 am with getting up, getting Layla (my daughter) up and moving, breakfast, school, work, pick up Layla from latchkey, cook dinner, gymnastics, homework, reading, bible study, prayer, get Layla in bed, and THEN I can finally handle my own personal responsibilities. My days are usually very full. But I am learning to appreciate and make the most of every moment in the process.
What’s your day job and what’s your passion?
Professionally, I work as a supply- chain analyst for General Motors. My passion throughout my entire life has been helping others and working with kids. However, as I am on this journey of self-discovery, my passions are constantly growing and evolving as I learn more about myself and who I am as a person. I can only be excited for what my future holds!
What is your why?
My why is inspiring others and setting a strong example for my daughter. When others see me and hear my story, I want them to feel and know that through God anything is possible and with his strength, you can overcome all things.
What motivates you?
As cliché as it may sound, my biggest motivator is my daughter. Every time I am feeling down and just want to close in, I look at her and I am reminded why I must keep going. I am constantly having little eyes examining and processing my every step. It’s important to me, that she sees me not only as a strong woman, but as a woman who not just talks about her faith, but one that lives it out in every area of her life.
How and why did you begin your self-love journey?
In all reality, I was somewhat forced into my self-love journey. For a very long time, I was constantly putting everyone’s feelings and wants ahead of my own. I had been doing it for so long, I didn’t even realize it. I was in a very dark place, within a very toxic marriage. Situations occurred, that literally forced me to look in the mirror, and “snap out of it.” Not just for the wellbeing of my daughter, but for myself. With the love and continuous support of my friends and family, I finally chose “Me.” I made the hard decision to leave that situation and that was the start of my journey.
Overcoming the intense emotions and realities that followed was a process in it of itself. That took me nearly a year to overcome. However, finally, I entered the phase being able to recognize myself, not just as a “wife”, not just a “mom”, but as La Tina. A woman with her own passions, interests, and thoughts.
How do you care for yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally?
A part of recognizing yourself as not just the many hats that you may wear, but as an individual, I find it critical to take care of yourself first. I always try to make time for me. My self-care consists of something as simple as a pedicure and a fresh set of nails, getting my lashes done, and giving myself weekly facials at home. These three things help me, to feel like me and puts me in a great space emotionally. That’s how I get my “me time” and get the rejuvenation I need. I used to beat myself up about getting my nails done when Layla was younger. I would feel as if “oh, I can just do them myself” or “that’s money that can go towards Layla.” However, I had to recognize everything I do is for her and I cannot live my life solely for her. I still must try to take care of me, and not lose myself in motherhood.
Lately, I have been making some fundamental changes in our household diet. I want to live a much healthier lifestyle. I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic last year. At the beginning of this year, I was going back and forth in my head about my new goals and I hear God speak to me saying, “You would much rather take care yourself out of choice, instead of being forced limit what you eat because of a diagnosis.” While these lifestyle changes are still for me, it is something I want to share with my daughter as well. We work out together, we cook together, and we are always talking about healthier food options. Health is wealth.
Mentally the main thing that keeps me in check is my relationship with God. It’s easy to tell with me if I haven’t been in prayer like I need to or go to church in a while. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and tend to become overly frazzled and emotional when I am not where I need to be spiritually. Making time for God and keeping him first is so important.
What do you want to tell other moms about raising a daughter?
Girls already go through so much and adding on the times we are living in, it has its challenges for sure. Layla is full of so many questions I would not have even thought to ask, at her age. I am constantly trying to find the balance between “sheltering her” and trying to “not shelter” her too much. It’s so different from when I was growing up. I am frequently having to stop what I am doing, create time, and sit down and have these deep conversations with her. Whether it is about race, gender norms, hair texture differences, etc. and she’s only six! I have noticed the more we have these conversations when things do happen or come up, she never hesitates to come and talk to me. I am learning how important it is just to be open, honest, and just to listen as a parent.
How was your pregnancy and journey into motherhood?
My pregnancy journey was a whirlwind, to say the least. I found out I was pregnant at 18 my freshman year at Michigan State University. I was up early, grabbing a bite to eat before my 9 am class when felt the sudden urge to vomit. As I sprinted to the nearest bathroom in Shaw Hall, I immediately I knew, this wasn’t the flu. But also, I immediately I knew, this was not going to hold me back from anything. I completed my second semester at MSU. Married my then boyfriend of 2 years at 18, and transferred to his college, where I later graduated from Western Michigan University. I gave birth to my baby girl on September 26, 2012.
My pregnancy was tough. I got pregnant at an age where I should have been discovering who I was. Now, I had to put that to the side and discover how to become a wife and mother, all while dealing with overwhelming judgment, shame, and disappointment. Postpartum depression was a concern, especially with all that I was going through. Ironically, I assured my loved ones, “I don’t have time to be depressed.” That bit was true. Six months after I gave birth, I returned to school full time. Later, that summer gained a full-time internship, while still attending school part-time to catch up. I went on to continue my education full time, balancing co-ops and internships, work, being a wife, and a mother. It was a heavy load, with all sorts of roadblocks and drama in between. But, thank God, and the immense support of my family, I made it through, and graduated Summer 2016, Magna Cum Laude, with a 3.8 GPA.
My journey into motherhood was hard, and my early years of it were spent creating a better future for my daughter. I can admit there was 0% time spent on myself and self-discovery, let alone self- care. However, those years spent were not in vain. I have successfully created and still am creating the life I want for my family. In these recent years, I am relearning how to love myself and discovering who La Tina is. As well as overcoming the suppressed emotions I “didn’t have time for” over the years. Through every hardship, I learned a lesson, and those lessons made me the strong woman I am today.
What do you want to tell women about thriving in your twenties?
Live your best life. Literally. I have held myself back so many times out of fear, worrying about perception, and self- doubt. Travel, try new things, learn and absorb as much as you can. Never be afraid of change and most importantly trust God. For example, I have a passion for poetry and that’s not really a “thing” amongst most of my peers, so last year instead of waiting around and never experiencing a poetry night, I would go alone, and there’s something so empowering about knowing what interest you and just going for it.
How do you live intentionally?
Every day, during devotion, I will ask my daughter, “what did you do today to be a Jesus Domino?” Jesus Domino being, someone who created a domino effect by acting like Christ. I realized one day, while we always talked about what she did, I did not have that same mindset for myself. With that said, I live intentionally by aiming to be a “Jesus domino” every day. While I am not perfect and have my many faults, I try and look at each day as an opportunity to be and create change.
What's your inspiration?
I draw inspiration for those around me. I try to surround myself with men and women who are movers and shakers. Seeing my peers and family doing remarkable things within themselves, career-wise, or within the community motivates me to get to that level, to keep going, and to achieve more.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want to my legacy to be someone lived fearlessly, and through Christ's love, inspired and helped many people along the way.