How did your mother’s love get you to where you are now?
My family was poor, and my mother worked primarily as the sole provider since my father was an addict. He rarely kept a job, and he often stole from us. Although my family did not have much money, I received a lot of love and emotional support. I was raised as an only child, so everything came to me - all the hugs, love and attention. My family struggled financially, my parents struggled within their marriage. However, my mother’s love was unequivocal, enduring, and endless. Her encouragement, support, and belief in me have been part of my resiliency from the poverty and addiction of my childhood.
What’s your day job?
I am a licensed psychologist - I completed my Doctor of Psychology degree from Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL. I have worked in private practice for over 10 years, gaining experience from diverse work settings which range from juvenile detention centers to the UNC Charlotte counseling center.
What do you appreciate about your profession?
I have a very flexible schedule, which I fashion around my daughters’ active school and extracurricular schedules. It is also unique that I have the privilege of getting the inside scoop on many people’s private lives, inner critics, and inner voices.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a psychologist?
I’ve always been interested in understanding why people behave the way they do. As a child, I could not fathom how my father, and many members of his side of the family, could make some of the decisions that they made. For instance, I was sure that my father loved me more than anyone in his life, including my mother. However, my smile, good grades, and athleticism could not deter him from the streets. He would leave us for weeks at a time, which was beyond my understanding. I prayed, pleaded and cried, but nothing worked. I learned the impact of the Serenity Prayer, for my own sanity, at an early age.
During my senior year in high school, I took an AP psychology class and knew that I was in love with the subject. However, I did not major in psychology in college - not realizing it at the time - because I was risk aversive. People asked me what would I do with a degree in psychology and whether I knew any psychologists who looked like me. My answers to these questions deterred me from the major.
I majored in business and minored in psychology, but never gave up on my passion for the field of psychology. I took extra psychology classes, volunteered in clinical settings, and began working at an adolescent inpatient facility. I was just a few classes shy of double majoring, but I wanted to graduate on time. Those extra classes and activities helped prepare me, as I decided to go out on a limb, and apply to doctorate programs. If I was not accepted into a doctorate program, then I would apply to MBA programs. Well, the rest is history: I was accepted directly into a doctorate program after undergraduate.
Describe your family now:
I have been married for 14 years and have two daughters who are five and eight. In addition, we have a 14-year-old Doberman Pinscher, koi and saltwater fish.
Charlotte has been home for the past 12 years, but I was born and raised in Memphis, TN. We moved here from Chicago, IL, where my husband worked in banking, to pursue career opportunities.
What are your thoughts about being a working mom?
My biggest challenges are juggling being a working mom with being an involved parent. I spend so much time at my girls’ school and activities that many people think I do not work outside the home. I jokingly say that sometimes I have the best of both worlds while at the same time, sometimes, I have the worst of both worlds. The worst is because I am unwilling to completely sacrifice family involvement for my career or my career for full-time family involvement.
What do you do when you find time for yourself?
Oddly enough, I enjoy reading self-help books, which is what prompted me to write my own book called Reclaiming Your Best Self. Self-help books have been so beneficial in my life, so I wanted to give back to the genre to possibly help other people. I also enjoy hosting functions at my house and entertaining others.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about my girls, family and dogs. I am also passionate about spreading positive and empowering messages to other people.
What motivates/inspires you?
I am inspired by stories of resilience and courage. In addition, I am motivated by the lives of people who have turned their pain into purpose.
How do you give back to your community?
I regularly support and donate to St. Jude. They are a beautiful organization that does so much for sick children and their families. I also regularly support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
What do you love about the Carolinas?
I love the beautiful trees and landscapes. I also love the close proximity of the mountains and the beaches.
Where do you vacation?
Recently, we’ve spent a lot of vacations in California and New York.
What are your proudest accomplishments?
My proudest accomplishments are writing a self-help book while working and raising young children.
What outdoor activities do you participate in and where?
I love hiking and walking. Often, I walk around my neighborhood, which has beautiful scenery.
What struggles have you faced in your life?
My childhood struggles included poverty and addiction. My adult struggles include coping with aging parents and health issues.
Where do you see yourself retiring?
I am a creature of habit. I see myself remaining in Charlotte. Given how much I love what I do, I am not interested in retiring. I want to do this until I am unable.
Favorite spot in the Carolinas to visit?
Asheville is beautiful.
What events in your life or family's life have impacted you?
My father’s addiction, frequent incarcerations and lifestyle have had a major impact on my life. In addition, my parents’ love and support, and my grandmother’s faithfulness and work ethic have also impacted my life.In 2006 my family lost our matriarch, my grandmother, to pancreatic cancer. She held our family together - things haven’t been the same since she passed.
I love chocolate. My client’s know that I keep a secret chocolate stash at my office.
Favorite TV series?
Days of Our Lives - I’ve been watching it on and off since elementary school.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
People would be surprised to learn that I enjoy the blues. Memphis, TN, is known as “the home of blues,” so naturally I was raised listening to the music. A radio host used to say, “You better blues me before you lose me.”
If money wasn't an issue, what would you do with your time each day?
Thankfully, I would do exactly what I am doing, i.e., making my own work schedule and spending quality time with my family.