It takes a village is an African proverb that means that an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. This phrase is fitting for this post, because I saw myself a child needing a village to walk with me during this journey!
When this project started, there were specific people I knew had to be part of my village. When I shared my vision, they were on board from day one. I would text them each month on my vision, and they helped me bring it all together. The first few sessions were hard for me, but they wouldn’t let me punk out. They held me accountable for what I said I wanted to do and pushed me to make it happen.
Each of my sisters is unique and played a role far beyond what I expected. I was able to be vulnerable with them and not feel ashamed about my fears and insecurities. Words really can’t express what these ladies meant to me, but I will try.
As you continue to read this post, I ask that you put in mind those in your village. If it’s a parent(s), neighbor, friend, pastor, I challenge you to tell them how you feel about them. None of us knows when that last conversation, text, hug or kiss will take place. Reach out to them TODAY!!! We all have a village!
Mishira Davis Photographer
When I tell you this young lady is phenomenal, you better believe me. Mishira (Cha Cha) was one of the first persons I reached out to for this project. When we first started, I had no clue what I wanted because I hated taking pictures. I gave her such a hard time on how I felt. I’m surprised and thankful she didn’t give up on me after the first two photoshoots. I would pick apart every little detail about each, but she forced me out of my comfort zone. I’d even ask her to do a little editing or Photoshop on some of them (especially the swimsuit shoot), but she would bluntly say “umm, no” in a way only she could put it. She said she refused to present anything that wasn’t authentic and in its natural form.
Mishira, thank you for pushing me and helping me embrace the areas about myself I was ashamed of or thought were ugly. Each photoshoot helped me express and expose areas in my heart that I didn’t realize needed healing had it not been for this journey with you.
You taught me what pure beauty is, which starts from loving the beauty, which is ME! You have a unique way of displaying the world through photos. You bring to life images by attaching a story to them, causing the viewers to see past their natural view. You help us see the beauty in things we take for granted; this is a gift! Thank you for bringing me to life!
Facebook: Mishira Cha Cha Davis
Marla Prater Lewis Makeup Artist
This woman right here is and will always be my hero! She was one of the first I spoke with regarding this project, and she was on board from day one. I never wore or knew how to apply makeup, so again, this experience was totally outside the box for me. I fought her and even toned down the makeup on a few sessions out of fear, but you loved and encouraged me the whole time. I honestly can say, out of all your clients, I KNOW I was your problem child.
Now that it’s 11 months later from our first session, I can honestly say you played a tremendous role in my evolution on this journey. Your encouragement just on life, in general, helped me embrace and see my natural beauty. I always admired you, but spending time with you and sharing your journey, I’m more in awe of how you can stand as the confident woman, wife, mother you are. Your strength, endurance, and faithfulness are to be commended. If people only knew your story! I pray one day you can share it so that others can be blessed just as I have been.
Marla, thank you for being authentically you! Your beauty may be the first thing people see, but after spending just a few minutes with you, your inner beauty and resilience break forth. You are so precious to me in so many ways. I love you, my baby momma!
Nicole Eagger Fashion Consultant
Everyone that knows me knows I love to dress! The thing with my style is I keep it basic but classic, channeling Olivia Pope. But as I visioned this journey, I knew I was going to need help. There was no question in my mind who I needed for this task. Her words to me were, "I'm not going to have you out here looking crazy," and "you need to add some color to your wardrobe and take some fashion risks." Well, she was responsible for getting me in a swimsuit and me baring my shoulders!
Nicole, thank you for helping me learn one of the greatest lessons I've learned in my life: "learn to love myself as much as I love others." Those words you spoke to me always ring in my heart. Even though you are a few years younger than me, your words of wisdom often make me pause and reevaluate things that once stressed me. You not only do this for me but the young ladies at Vista Maria Girls Home. When I started volunteering there, you mentored me as well as those young ladies.
With all those young ladies' experience, from the juvenile court system, foster care system, drugs use, sex trafficking, you have a way of talking to them, giving them a glimpse of hope. I remember sessions when some of the girls were in tears because they knew you were genuine in your approach; you talk to them and don't preach at them…there is a difference.
I will forever be grateful for you being in my life as my little sister. I'm also excited about what's next for you. My continued prayer is that you see what He (God) sees and has instilled in you!
Cassandra Pollack Haircare/Hair Stylist
Cassandra is more than a beautician but a dear friend and sister. From the first time we met, it felt like I had known her all my life. Whenever I go to her, I’m there for hours. Not just to get my hair done, but it’s a time of sharing, laughter, and sometimes shedding a few tears as we reflect on God’s goodness. Oh, and I can’t forget listening to the gospel group Commissioned; she’s their biggest fan!
She creates an atmosphere that anyone coming in her door feels like family and unashamedly shares her faith and love for people in general. Some of our conversations would go from catching up to full praise and worship. No matter how long I’m in her chair, I never feel it’s time wasted. She always made sure I was her only client when I came because she knew how hectic my life is, and our time together was for me to step away from the busyness of my life.
Cassandra, I’ve told you many times, I am so thankful for you. Even before the 12 to 50 journey, you helped me look at myself in the mirror and smile. Your love and passion for your craft set you apart as more than a beautician. You are graced with the ability to bring out the beauty in a person before you even touch their hair. Your blessing isn’t in what you do, but who you are!
Anna Mitchell Editor
I first met Anna in 1986 at Joe Louis Arena when she worked in merchandising for the Detroit Red Wings. I was in high school, so she was Ms. Anna even though there was only a few years difference. Who knew thirty years later she would be one of my dearest friends/sisters.
We’ve shared so many memories over the years, from being with her in Florida on a business trip finding out with her she was pregnant, to bringing my family dinner after my father passed, to me visiting with her mom in the hospital because she was unable to attend Anna’s sister’s (her daughter) funeral, to weeks later sitting with Anna at her mothers’ funeral. She was also my rock at work during my marriage.
We’ve cried, laughed, and shared so much over the years. It feels like we were connected from birth. There are moments when we say the same thing at the same time. She’s my Phoebe, and I’m her Monica! If you’ve ever watched the TV show Friends, and you’ve been around us together, you will get it.
Thank you, Anna, for being that person I have on speed dial to talk about just about any and everything at any time. Also, for loving me unconditionally, flaws and all. You never judged my choices but would give words of wisdom and walk with me regardless of the choices I made. You have been a true sister to me, and I’m forever thankful for you!
Tina Creguer Editor
If there were a definition in the dictionary for “God Sent,” Tina’s name and picture would be right there! There were so many things going on in my life during my marriage, including many work projects. I met Tina at the most challenging point of my husband’s addiction. She was hired as my boss. Not knowing her, I tried to do my job the best I could without letting her know something personal was going on with me. I had to keep up the image of the outstanding employee!
I’m not sure when it happened, but I felt lead to open to her about what I was going through. I knew nothing about her, and she could have easily made my situation worse as my boss, but she didn’t! Her compassion and love for someone she barely knew speak volumes of her character. She frequently checked on me, even outside of work, to make sure I took care of myself. She held me accountable for my work, which I much appreciated. Because of her empathy towards my situation, my job had become my place of solitude and distraction from the pain of home. I didn’t need a pity party but compassion. This is what I received then, and it continues to this day.
Tina, I’ve told you this before, but I’m glad I have this platform to share with the world how much I thank you! Even after you left our company, your concern and love never ended. I’m thankful that I can call you anytime to talk or meet for lunch. I met you as my boss, you became my friend, and now I‘m honored to consider you my sister!
Evelyn Horton Blanks Consultant
Evelyn is one of my dear and trusted friends/sisters. There were times in my life when I was surrounded by people who only told me what I wanted to hear. I can’t judge their motives, but I knew I wasn’t always as good as they tried to make me believe or feel. Well, that’s when God gave me Evelyn. She never sugarcoated anything! When I first met her, I was somewhat intimidated by her boldness. You never had to guess what she thought or felt. Time did reveal to me that she was just what I needed in my life.
As blunt as she is, I knew it came from a pure heart of love. Whenever I require wise counsel, she’s my person. I trust her to tell me the truth, even when I know it may hard to hear. The remarkable thing about her is that she encourages me in the process and continually reminds me of what God says about me. I’ve always walked away from our encounters with hope and determination to complete the assignment (whatever it may have been at that time) given to me.
Evelyn, thank you for being sharing your wisdom, life, and love with me for over 20 years. No matter what craziness I came to you with, you never judged me. You always saw the beauty in me even when I didn’t or couldn’t. You spoke to who you knew I was and not what I did. For this and so much more, I am forever grateful to call you my sister.