Woman Wednesday: Ruby B. Johnson

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.         


Q and A with Ruby B. Johnson, Sierra Leone, West Africa

“Three things: take care of your mental health, control your narrative, and work smart and do your research.” 

 

Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I am a mining engineer and currently work at a gold mining operation. I am also the founder and editorial director of STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine. Premiered in September 2018 with its autumn issue, STEMher Magazine is a print magazine showcasing the education and experiences of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics (STEM) academia, careers, and programs. STEMher celebrates women thriving in their careers and inspires others to fuel their curiosity and interests in STEM; the status of individuals featured range from middle school through retirement. In one year, STEMher has featured more than 50 STEM girls and women worldwide from countries like the United States of America, Australia, Ghana, Canada, South Africa, India, France, Nigeria, Channel Islands, The Bahamas, Sierra Leone, and England. All magazine issues are available for purchase on stemher.com and Amazon Marketplace.

 

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Summer 2019 Cover

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone [in West Africa]. I moved to the United States when I was 12 years old, which meant growing up and completing my middle school and high school education in Maryland. I graduated from Virginia Tech with a BSc in mining engineering and a minor in women’s studies leadership. While in college, I founded When You Believe Foundation, a program that empowers women and girls through social media engagement, workshops, and donations. In 2012, I competed in my first pageant, Miss Sierra Leone USA, with the platform of advocating for the recruitment and retention of girls and women in STEM fields, since I was a STEM college student at the time and women’s empowerment was something I was passionate about. I won the pageant and with that title, I was able to travel across the country as well as in Sierra Leone, encouraging girls and young women to pursue STEM. After the crowns and titles, STEM advocacy and women’s empowerment continues to be my lifelong platform. I wanted to take this platform to another level to be able to reach women and girls I may never cross paths with, so I created STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine last year. 

 

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Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: Three things: take care of your mental health, control your narrative, and work smart and do your research. (1) From Monday through Thursdays, I work ten-hour days and a two-hour commute to and from work. Additionally, I am an entrepreneur who runs her own business creating content and putting together each issue for STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine. I also serve in a couple of ministries at my church. Life gets busy. In the last year, I’m being intentional to prioritize my mental health. Making time to rest and slow down when necessary. In order to be productive with work, I have to take care of myself by sleeping, eating healthy, exercising, spending time with God through prayer, and meditation as well as reading my Bible. I have to be intentional about making time for myself, family and friends, as well as work. It’s okay to say “no” or “not yet” sometimes. I cannot fill the cups of others when my cup is empty. It’s also okay to ask for help—whether it’s in prayer, family and friends, community, or therapy.

 

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(2) As I navigate through the professional world and life in general, I’m realizing how important it is for one to control their narrative. Of course we cannot fully control what people say about us or how they feel about us; however, I believe we can play a role in those things. The way we carry ourselves is very important. We have to learn wisdom on when to speak up or be silent. We must be our biggest defenders and tell people how we want them to treat or address us. (3) Running a business is no easy feat and it’s time-consuming. In college, I learned to not study hard but study smart. I believe that’s important to do when you are a business owner. Being that I don’t have a business or journalism background, I spend a lot of time learning—asking questions, reading articles, listening to podcasts, and everything else in between. I want this magazine to go beyond, so that means I have to put in the work. I may not see harvest immediately, but sowing seeds each day counts. All in all, I believe it’s important to know who you are, stand firm on your values, always remember your why, and never lose your humanity no matter what environment you are in. 

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism means being my authentic self, living out my God-given purpose, and being intentional about making a difference in the community. While working on my women’s studies leadership minor in college, I learned about intersectionality. I am a Christian woman, born and raised in Sierra Leone, a naturalized American citizen, a woman in STEM, usually one of few or only black people in some professional settings, and a family-oriented individual. I thrive because of these lived experiences but also have a heart and a curious mind to learn about those who are different from me. Feminism to me is never compromising my faith and also being compassionate to others. To me, feminism means to reach for excellence and nothing less.

 

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Woman Wednesday: Kezia

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.         


Q and A with Kezia, Warwickshire, England

The doctors told me I might never walk again. When you’re faced with that kind of news, you have a choice—accept what you’re being told or try and do something about it.” 

 

Q: Tell us about you. 

A: I’m Kezia Thomas, a recovered chocaholic and chronic dieter/binger, who used to have no body confidence, completely failed at willpower, and spent the majority of her life obsessing about what/when/how much she ate and what other people thought about it. I left that life behind me and I’m now running a business showing female entrepreneurs how to lose weight and keep it off so that they can feel confident being visible in their business. 

 

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I was brought up to believe that the only option for me was to get good grades at school, go to university, and get a degree so that I could get a well-paid job. But university never appealed to me, so although I worked hard at school and got the grades I needed, at 17, I moved out and went to London with a dream of becoming a freelance writer.

I assumed that in London, the opportunities would be easy to find, but the reality was very different! I, then young and not well connected, ended up struggling to find work or pay my way, and after two years, I admitted defeat and asked my parents if I could move back in with them. My family reassured me that I’d tried my best and that the best option was to find a real job. So, I did. But I never stayed in anything for long; I was unfulfilled and unhappy, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I overate on a massive scale just to fill the void, managing the inevitable weight gain with all manner of diets and exercise regimes. On the outside, it looked like everything was fine, but behind the scenes, I was barely holding it together.

 

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By my late twenties, I was working in a company with good prospects—settling for the options I felt were available to me. One day out of the blue, I got struck with an illness that later led me to lose my balance at the top of a flight of concrete stairs, and the fall left me almost completely unable to walk.

 

Q: How did the accident change things for you?  

A: It was a real low point in my life—I was still young and suddenly, I could barely move, let alone exercise. It scared me senseless because my regimen of diets and workouts had always helped me to keep my weight down, and suddenly, that wasn’t an option for me. 

 

The doctors told me I might never walk again. When you’re faced with that kind of news, you have a choice—accept what you’re being told or try and do something about it. I refused to give up, so I started learning everything I could about my body to find out what I could impact. I became fascinated with the science—of nutrition, movement, and the power of the mind.  began to understand that my negative relationship with my body had been affecting me for years, well before my fall. I learned how I could maintain my weight through changing my eating habits. And I slowly formed a better relationship with food. How I was eating became as important as what I ate—I started to see a shift.

 

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When I felt my confidence coming back, I found a way to start my recovery from my accident. I put up a pole in my living room and used it to pull myself up so I could overcome the pain from the pressure in my hips and legs. 18 months later, with the help of a physiotherapist and my own brand of unconventional muscle rehab, I wasn’t just walking, but I was learning aerial gymnastics. 

 

 

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Q: How did this lead you into running your own business? 

A: Using the pole had given me strength and confidence, I wanted to share that. So, I trained and set up as a fitness instructor. The only problem was, I started to feel super self-conscious. I was worried my body wasn’t good enough for people to take me seriously. Potential clients wanted to see lots of photos and videos…and I didn’t want to be on camera at all. It made it almost impossible to market my business because I was always making excuses not to do the things I knew I needed to! 

 

It drove me crazy, and it was a massive waste of time and energy. 

 

I’d lose the weight, but it felt so difficult, and keeping it off was a nightmare. I’d starve myself, then binge-eat to relieve my stress…and all the while, I was telling other people how to get fit and healthy! I felt like a fraud, and I was so full of anxiety. I realized I needed to take stock and look at things more closely—why was my eating getting out of control again? I had to make another shift to get things back on track for good.

 

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As an entrepreneur, I was under all sorts of new pressures, and I was going through it all on my own. I’m a real high-achiever and was utterly convinced I could do it all…so I kept pushing my needs aside to give more and more to the business.  It took me a while to realize the truth: I am the business. If I’m not looking after myself, I’m not looking after the business.  If I don’t feel confident in my body, I can’t show up and be visible in the way I need to be to promote myself—I can’t network effectively, I can’t do live streams, I can’t put myself out there to attract new clients. And it didn’t matter how many courses I took on getting visible, doing PR, or making money online because I had so many issues with how I felt about my body, I never took the actions I needed to.  

 

To make matters worse, because I was constantly shaming myself for not being able to deal with this one area of my life, it spread into everything outside of work too. My self-doubt, embarrassment, and lack of confidence…it grew into this huge and terrible anxiety that was taking over my life. I knew it had to stop. I needed to do something differently. I’d figured out the what and how with my eating, but I realized there was something else to look at. WHY was I so obsessed with food and my body? 

 

I started to get curious in a way I never had before. I started to dig deeper, underneath the symptoms of my struggles (the shifts in my weight and insane sugar cravings) and find out what the real problem was. The emotional issues: the lack of self-worth, self-love, and self-trust. They were what was really holding me back. When I discovered the real reasons I was overeating, that was when everything I’d learned before about what and how to eat began to work for me in a big way. Losing weight became easy...even pleasurable! Keeping the weight off suddenly wasn’t a problem: it happened effortlessly. I didn’t even have to think about it anymore—it happened as a happy side-effect of the other things I was doing in my life. I’ve never looked back, and it’s exactly why I am so passionate about helping other women make the same changes for themselves. 

 

Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: Be tenacious. Keep moving forward after every push back, be consistent with whatever you’re doing and give it a chance to work for you. If you believe in what you’re doing, don’t give up. This is your life, and if you allow your own fears or other peoples’ beliefs to scare you or pull you away from your passions, you’ll never feel like you’re living it to the full. Go out there and make mistakes: learn from them. Know that the next time, you’ll do that thing 10 times better. 

 

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I’d love to connect with you!

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Woman Wednesday: Felissa

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.        


Q and A with Felissa, Atlanta, Georgia  

“People will judge you, try to change you, try to break you, and even try to stop you. But that is all in the process of getting to the top!” 

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I wanted to have a career where I could give back to people in a real impactful way. I had always wanted to help others and make a difference. Although teaching in the classroom was something I loved, I never felt like I could create the life I desired. Six years ago, I was a tired, overweight mom of two with no energy. 

 

I was always looking and doing the “next best diet” and as everyone knows, diets are not sustainable for life.  I finally decided it was time to educate myself on nutrition and health so I could create a healthy lifestyle for myself and my family. After losing 40 pounds and stopping being such a skeptic, I started sharing my success story with others. I partnered with a health and wellness company and a nutritionist and created a career that would inspire and empower people to live their best life through a journey of nutrition, wellness, and creating a healthy mind and body. 

 

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I was only looking to drop a few pounds and get my energy back, and what I found was a community of people with a vision that empowers others to do more than they thought they were capable of doing. As I continued to share my story: of the nutrition and our life-changing opportunity, to my surprise, by the end of that year, I surpassed my teaching income and decided to jump in with both feet (well, sort of). 

 

Actually, when I let go of worrying about what other people thought of me, and was open to new opportunities and possibilities, and that was when my life changed. I cared too much about what other people thought of me, and it prevented me from doing the things I wanted to do or being who I truly was. This has given me a sense of achievement, purpose, and community and a profession where I can be my own BOSS. Every day, I have the opportunity to help people change their quality of life both physically and financially. That feels pretty amazing.   

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

I had a wonderful childhood and was raised in a very loving home in Savannah, GA.  My parents always supported me and wanted me to enjoy every minute of life.  I graduated from the University of Georgia, where I received a bachelor’s degree in Audiology and Speech Pathology and then continued to Georgia State University, where I received my master’s degree in the Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  I then taught grades kindergarten through fifth grade over the next 12 years.  

 

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During the last few years I was teaching, I began to realize I wanted more than just living for weekends and holidays. I found a way to plan my work and passion to help others around my life verses planning my life around my work—working days and hours that were best for me, with no cap on the amount of income I could earn. 

 

 

Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: I learned very quickly that big dreams don’t come easily. People will judge you, try to change you, try to break you, and even try to stop you. But that is all in the process of getting to the top! Learning to get comfortable with the uncomfortable was an important lesson for me and not easy. All my life, I cared what others thought of me. Life is better when you’re not so concerned about how other people will view you for your actions, choices, and decisions. 

 

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Sometimes you have to risk so much for a dream no one can see but you.  It became very apparent that I had to surround myself with people who supported me on my journey and would be there to lift me up when I fell (because I fell a lot). Whether it was the weight loss, the career change, or my new positive outlook on life, I had to stop feeling guilty about the decisions I made. I have had many challenges along the way. I could not make excuses anymore. It was time for results, and you can’t have both! If you take anything away from my story, I hope you will learn to be authentically, unapologetically you because it is your ultimate freedom and where joy is found.

 

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism advocates for social, political, and economic equality for men and women. 

 

 

Connect with me! I’d love to chat with you! 

Felissa Covin
Make the Shift
Healthy Mind and Body

 

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Woman Wednesday: Lasheika

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.        


Q and A with Lasheika, Miami, Florida

“Everything happens for a reason, and don’t regret a thing because it’s all a part of your journey.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: Hi, my name is Lasheika. I am a mom of five boys and an author of experiences. I recently began my blogging journey, but my love of writing was recognized in middle school. I love to write and now that I’ve had experiences in love, life, family, and marriage. I choose to share those experiences with other moms in the hopes of them gaining more insight, support, and encouragement.

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I was raised by my mom and step father. Just having a nonexistent relationship with my biological dad was enough for me to go looking for love in all of the wrong places. I became a mom at the age of 17, which was one of the most scariest and happiest times of my life. Two weeks after giving birth, I returned back to school. I graduated three months later. The birth of my son was a true game-changer for me. Seeing this little human made me push past my own emotions and shoot beyond the stars. Now, five kids later, I was more determined than ever to find my purpose. I felt that by having five kids and being able to maintain my sanity was something that I could share with the world. Me feeling neglected and then me finding love in my marriage and through the births of my children have me wanting to share my experiences with those who faced similar challenges.

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Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: I would want other women to stay encouraged, continue pushing forward in faith. Believe and know that God will never leave nor forsake you. Most importantly, nothing is a mistake. Everything happens for a reason, and don’t regret a thing because it’s all a part of your journey.

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism is our unique flawlessness. It’s the strength that we possess that no other has. It’s our ability to bear weight that only we can carry. It’s our boldness, our beauty, our courage and strength to overcome.

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Connect with me! I’d love to chat with you! 

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Woman Wednesday: Stacy

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.     


 

Q and A with World Traveler Stacy (traveler of over 40 countries), The Sunshine State of Florida

“My favorite quote is “There’s a sunrise and sunset in every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss any of them.”

 

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I’m passionate about seeing as much as possible of the Earth and sharing it with others. I love exploring new places, seeing nature, and being in a new culture. Sunrises and sunsets are my absolute favorite! My favorite quote is “There’s a sunrise and sunset in every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss any of them.”

 

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I currently work for a large school district in Florida and love my job.

Being able to work with kids, I’m able to instill my love of travel and inspire them from an early age.

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: We didn’t travel much as a family when I was young because of financial issues. When I was in my early twenties, I began exploring and found my true love for travel. I’ve never looked back! I would say my big trip in my 20s was Ireland. It was my first non-tour or “family” trip and opened my eyes to all the ways of exploring the world.

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Women and men being equal to each other. Same rights, same pay, etc.

 

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Having explored more than 40 countries on an educator’s budget, I always look forward to my next solo or group adventure. Check out my blog to join me on a memorable journey as we experience breathtaking views, authentic eats, and inspiring moments. Plus, get the ‘best of’ travel tips without breaking the bank. Transform your wanderlust into reality at sologatortraveler.com.

 

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Let’s connect! 🙂

Click here to check out my travel blog, learn tips and tricks, and follow me on my travels: sologatortraveler.com

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