I faced a lot of fear of failure when I began teaching, when I returned to school, and when I became a divorced mom with two children. I felt like a failure when my students were not achieving success even though they were reading on an elementary level in middle school. I felt like a failure when I had to retake a research class during my doctoral program. I felt like a failure for not being able to keep my family together even though the marriage had broken down well before the divorce happened.
I had to learn how to prioritize my new life and remember why I wanted to teach. I needed better time management to ensure I dedicated enough time to my studies while raising my sons and mapping out my career. I engrossed myself in personal development to help me cope with the loss of a significant other, not once but twice.
Sis, you can start over as many times as needed and still get it right. My journey has not been all sunshine and rainbows. There have been many tears and gloomy days but I persevered. There is no true balance, you learn to adjust.
I got started because I understand the difficulties of being a mom, having a career, and chasing my dreams. I’m using every skill I have in every situation to do my best even when I don’t feel my best. I challenge you to do the same.
Check out my ebook store, latilyarashon.selz.com. My Fourth Year In Middle School: The Truth About Teaching is specifically for you if you are a mom that is thinking about transitioning careers and feel like you don’t have a clue about what to expect. I encountered a lot but I made it through.
I have been asked how to write books, how to start a blog and my simple response is just to start writing. This is not my first time putting my story into the atmosphere, but this the space that puts the pieces of me together. I had a beloved blogspot but when I decided to step things up a notch back in 2016, I was not clear. I was simply stringing thoughts together and calling it a blog.
It was not until I sat down and outlined my first book that I realized I was diving into territory that was uncomfortable but was my wholehearted truth. I was nervous but I shared the tragic dissolution of my marriage in my first book and that was a huge mountain to get over. See, in my second year of teaching, I had only been separated from the Air Force a little over a year, I was still a new teacher, finishes up my alternative preparation program, and sadly my life was in turmoil. I was separated from husband of six years, and I was completely devastated. In the midst of all of those emotions, I still had to be a mother and figure out what I was doing in the classroom. I cried a lot that year, and simply felt like I had no control over anything in my life at the time.
I felt misunderstood by coworkers and even judged at times. I was completely ostracized from spouse’s family, and the only person I relied heavily the most on was my mother. She struggled with watching me deal with pains of my marriage because it was an pain that she had never experienced. She could’t tell how to fix things or how to navigate through the problems because she had never been married.
I was separated for two years before the divorce was final. We tried briefly to try to reconcile, but one day I asked him, “What are going to do?” He looked at me and said, “I don’t even like the word marriage.” That is when I knew I had to let go, as hard as it was. The reality of that pain is that I survived. Dealing with personal problems outside of your profession surely is a test of wills and each time there is a set back and life gets in the way, you learn how to bounce back. Of course at that time I was 30 years old, finding my voice as a woman and refusing to be treated as less than an equal partner. Now my tolerance for things that aren’t conducive to good vibes, I gladly shy away from.
Sharing my story, my ups and downs have become my survival guide because just when I thought I was ready to give up, my strength takes over. I know that I am strong but sometimes when I’m tired, I want to be able to be vulnerable in the arms of someone that will be my strength when I feel weak. We will lose ourselves many times in life but it’s always worth it to see the pieces get put back together as if they were never touched.
My heart as a mother will not let my children down because everything I do is for them. They make me better. My love for writing as an author gives me the ability to share my trials and triumphs. Some days are better than others, so I focus on the good even when I don’t feel like it. When I am in my classroom, teaching continues to add layers to my life and give me experiences that I would not trade for anything in the world.
The parts of me that make me unique, I gladly share and each time I reflect on my trials and my blessings, I am eternally grateful.
I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth so everything I got in life has been because I’ve worked hard for it. Growing up in a single parent home the odds were stacked against me. If society had it’s way I would have been another statistic as a teenager; teenage mother, living off of government assistance, and quite possibly a high school dropout. My mother was not having that for me at all. I knew my father but he was not an active part of my life, so watching my mother work various jobs to always provide for me was the best example of hustle and heart.
We lived in the family house until I was four and starting
head start. We moved across the street
to Fort Bailey housing projects. Walking
to the store for a bag of pink cookies and a cream Ritz soda was a treat, now I
live for my crab legs and moscato…LOL! I
was a project kid, with a key at the age of five letting myself into the house
each day by myself then waiting for my mom to get home. Life was sweet in the 80s. Now it’s not that easy to leave kids home
alone because too much can happen with predators lurking at every turn.
I grew up being very independent and doing a lot of things
for myself because the fact is I spent a lot of time by myself. My mom worked and that was understandable, so
throughout middle and high school, during my mom’s off time we spend time together,
then when she was gone, I’d read a book or watch t.v. So by the time I graduated high school in
2000 having worked at Wendy’s and Shoney’s I could make a little money for
myself but in the back of my mind I always wanted to just write.
I went off to college to the University of Florida and partied
my life away. I was introduced to
beloved Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., met some amazing people but ultimately
blew it. I joined the United States Air
Force in 2001, lived in New Jersey my entire enlistment, got deployed to Bulgaria
and Italy, got married, had my two sons, then separated from active duty status
in 2007. My background had set the tone
as I share my story because it was not easy being active duty, married, tending
to babies, and pursuing my studies all at the same time. I was very overwhelmed and emotional a lot of
times but I pushed through anyways.
By the time I relocated to middle Georgia, I had acquired 3 degrees and had multiple ideas of starting a women’s magazine, writing a book, short stories, or just something creative because I have always had the passion to write. By the time I began teaching in 2008, I was halfway through my Masters in Public Administration program and still had no idea what I was going to do next. But the yearning for more was peeking over my shoulder and in my subconscious. I kept digging until I outlined my first nonfiction title. In 2013 I said to myself that my book was going to be great and everyone would want to read it… Well that didn’t happen. See I wanted more but I didn’t have a plan. Now the plan is for me to TELL MY STORY, so people really get a true idea of who I am, what I represent, and what I’m all about. I defied the odds and I have a story to tell.
Achieving my advanced degree in 2016, my Doctorate of
Education in Higher Education Leadership was personal. It was a checkmark to be place of my list of
life goals and accomplishments. There
have been others that did it younger than me, but see at the age of 34 with two
kids, a second marriage, six years of honorable military service and eight
years of teaching, I was doing damn good for myself. So where is my POP?! When things got rocky and I thought I had a
clear vision of what I want to have happen, a second divorce happened on
2017. I wasn’t devastated, but I was
derailed so my goals for pursuing speaking and writing more took a backseat.
Now here I am 11 years into teaching, having taught roughly
2000 students, each year I wonder who will or who has been that one? I have highlighted some of my most memorable
students in My Fourth Year, but beyond that when students come into my room to
hug me midway through a lesson, or stop by my door during transition to class
it has been too many to count or name.
My colleagues are hit or miss, but some of them know where my heart
is. I simply refuse to give up on my
population of students, but good God some days it is hard.
When I look at my mixed career I have done a lot and take a stand for individuality. I’m often confused and people like to put other people in a box and you shouldn’t. Creativity is an extension of who a person is and you have to tap into your greatness better than anyone else can and tell your story.
Be vulnerable because someone needs to hear from you.
At my heaviest I weighed in at 190 pounds at five feet one inch. I said to myself HELL NO this is not my life. When I saw my clothes size balloon for me up to a size 12 and 14 I was secretly devastated but I was also upset about the things that had happened in my life.
Being a size six all throughout high school and even in my early 20’s was the best feeling ever so I knew something was up when after working out my size 6’s didn’t fit anymore. Surprise…You’re Pregnant! I was elated about my first little bundle of joy. I had a c-section so working out was not an option for at least eight weeks because for one I had sutures and had at least six weeks to wait for clearance from my doctor to do anything. Needless to say my mother-in-law at the time was extremely rude and insensitive about my weight gain and said to me when my baby—Lil Phil—was two months old, “You know what you can do to lose weight don’t you?” I was emotionally unprepared for such a statement to come out of her mouth. I immediately called my husband in tears while guzzling some Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. Postpartum hormones on 10!
I lost my weight by running four times a week at the time while in the Air Force. Of course my second blessing was born while I was on active duty so the pressure to get back right was important to me. Then next thing I knew in 2007 I was moving to my home state, in a new house, and relearning a familiar town but now as an adult. I joined the gym but then that eventually got boring.
I fought with my then husband, we separated, I changed careers, I gained weight from lack of exercise, I lost weight due to overwhelming stress, I drank some, I slept a lot…I was unhappy and scared to start over. Then one day I looked at my stomach full of stretch marks, my thick ass thighs, size 14 pants and decided that this was not healthy. I hated feeling like I couldn’t cross my legs or feel completely comfortable in my clothes. I was self-conscious but hid it with a smile.
Stress caused me to gain at one point because I was not active at all. All I did was take care of my sons, go to work, and sleep. I was trying to figure out my life and starting over. I was 30 years old and my life was in an uproar. I took charge!
So post divorce in 2011 I picked up a tennis racket and went to a private lesson with a group of friends. It was fun and the tennis pro was fun. I didn’t put the racket down and my true weight loss journey began. I was determined to lose about 40 pounds because I felt entirely too heavy to be so short. I have been playing tennis since the top of 2012 and I love it. It keeps me active. I was not good when I started and the way I play now is a major improvement. So here I am five years later still playing, I have been on different teams under different captains, I have even been the captain… My love affair with staying fit is a struggle especially when life gets in the way.
On top of playing tennis I was at the gym and at times spending up to three hours on some days working out. Not the plan, but after leaving the gym I would get a text asking who could play tennis so I would jump at the opportunity especially in the summer time. I even jumped on the P90X extreme workouts and would tap out at about day 60.
I had a time or two that I took to the pavement again, playing around with the C25K running app. I’d make it to week five and then get totally thrown off. Life would interrupt my workout schedule and next thing I knew I was slowly gaining weight.
I saw my dress size begin to shift. Those 14’s dropped to an eight and suddenly I felt too small. Right now I am at a steady weight, some days I’m okay at 165, then it’ll drop to 160 and I’m okay with that. I have a love-hate relationship with fitness. I work out to relieve stress, take my mind off of things, and weight maintenance. I still have a belly full of stretch marks and some days my stomach appears flat; other days I look at it and I’m reminded that life was carried there.
I am an active person. I’m always going to show you something real. This body takes work…cardio…elliptical…tennis…ministepper…running. I don’t want to be pushing 200 pounds ever again. I took control. Besides I have to be around for Lil Phil and Pressy. They keep me young!
My journey to staying fit is ever evolving. I’m not going to pay for a body. I’ll just work on the body God gave me.
I am in such a different space in my life from the restart of my blog (March 2016) as I pursue my writing and grabbing opportunities to express myself (Pursue Your Dream Career). I love lists….I write everything down and look back at the things I affirm in myself and feel a sense of pride when things come to fruition.
Right now there are so many thoughts in my head about what I’m trying to do and where I’m trying to go and I know that the next few years are going to push me closer to my purpose. In the meantime I’ll just focus right here at Tilyarealeyes.com and put things into the atmosphere and watch them come full circle.
So here’s to the 10 Things I’m Proud Of…
10. I began my college journey at the University of Florida the glorious summer of 2000. My #1 school of choice and I had a blast…my very first Blue & White weekend, being introduced to Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. by way of the fabulous Mu Epsilon Chapter…endless memories…oh what a time I had.
9. Due to the fun I had at UF, I subsequently enlisted into the United States Air Force and spent six wonderful years on active duty. I met some amazing people…but I also walked away with 2 associate degrees and my bachelors when I separated in 2007…Honorable Discharge…Veteran Status
8. I have given birth to the most amazing little boys on the side of heaven. I’m supposed to be proud as their mother…that damn Lil Phil (3.4.04) waited 20 hours to make his appearance into this world…after contracting, I stalled at 5 centimeters so a c-section it became and he’s still stubborn to this day.. #Big Then came the baby, my Preston (2.9.06) my little genius and scheduled c-section. He melts my heart…so innocent…so sweet…so caring… #Little
7. My trials and tribulations in life remind me that everyone struggles at times and it is a part of life but it’s ultimately about how you handle things. I have no choice but to be resilient…I have children to take care of. I am defined by my experiences and that is what completes me.
Taking a deeper look though, my first name has 7 letters in it…L.A.T.I.L.Y.A.
My journey makes me aware of who I am…7…the number of completion!
6. I have been in the traditional classroom for 9 years and I love it! It’s not easy each day or each year. In time middle school will be my foundation as I move up to the next level.
5. Five years ago…April 2012 I closed on my first home…ALL by MYSELF at the age of 30. God is so Good! These past 5 months have shook me up…my marriage ended…a financial setback…but I’m home! The devil got busy, but I’m grounded in what’s mine and I give it all to God.
4. I have survived what might drive others crazy. I am not ashamed of my second divorce, nope not one bit. Marriage 1 changed me, matured me, and birthed me my 2 delicious babies. Marriage 2 taught me what I deserve and I don’t deserve to be cheated on, lied to, disrespected, or unappreciated. It was not all bad but the truth of the matter it was a struggle. I have my dignity and I learned my lesson. I’m not sure if 3 times is the charm… Who Knows…But You Already Knew That…I Want The Magic.
3. Writing my book, My Fourth Year in Middle School will always be a proud moment. Personal, honest and something I always wanted to do. So stay tuned for my next body of work. Because I’m super critical of myself, when The Journey to Here is complete it will be because I’m ready for you to see it. Being a creative is not easy…I’m passionate about MY words and how I intricately weave them together.
2. My education! I’m modest about it, but having someone speak life in me and say, “You should introduce yourself as Dr. Williams”, it is a constant reminder of my accomplishments. Surround yourself with people that SPEAK LIFE into your existence, your being, your soul, your day…those are the kind of people to have on your team. Community College of the Air Force…Thomas Edison State College (now University)…Bellevue University…Nova Southeastern University…Since 2000 I pursued my education and ultimately became Dr. LaTilya Williams. No easy feat…but yes I did it.
1. My spirituality! I luh God! He is the author of my life. Without him I would not be able to stand strong. I am where I am in life because of him and I embrace all of my blessings. My life is changing for the Good…the Great…the Better.