Who is Dr. J?

I know that to increase my following and consulting opportunities, I need to provide more insight into who I am as a person. But bear with me as this is an uncomfortable process for me. I know that I give off “extrovert” vibes, I am actually very introverted and have been since a little girl. 

As an adult, while teaching and leading in schools, I realized that I had to give people more insight into me in order to get more connection from them. As a coach, one of the activities I like to do when facilitating meetings is provide a structured way for people to get to share more about themselves. The activity asks that participants share the “leaves” of their lives. These are aspects about themselves that are readily visible to others. For me some of my leaves are, that I am Black, a woman, and I am tall. While height may not be something that another person would share, it has been a large part of how I have experienced the world.   

The “roots” of the activity are an opportunity for leaders to share the truths about them that are not so readily visible to others. These are key influences to who they are as a person, that they believe are more hidden to others. The participant can reflect and share as deep or shallow as they would like. 

With this blog, I am sharing more of my roots with you. Here is just a snippet of who I am. My hope is that if you are reading this, you can appreciate my honesty, my authenticity, and are interested in hearing more, even if you don’t agree with me. Please take this as a way of allowing me to reintroduce myself. 

I am a Virgo. While I don’t think that the astrological signs are spot on for everyone, most popular descriptions of Virgo traits do align perfectly with my personality. I am logical, loyal, systemic, and always paying attention to the smallest details. Virgos are known for being critical and hard on everyone, but especially ourselves. Because I know this about myself, I have intentionally become a more strengths-based coach. This has allowed me to give not only myself more grace, but others as well. I have also learned the importance of me speaking positively to myself and questioning the negative and critical assumptions that I tend to make in my head.   

I am adopted. My dad adopted me when I was a young girl and raised me as his daughter. Even after finding my birth certificate without his name in elementary school, I didn’t realize I wasn’t his biological daughter until high school. We’ll talk about the trauma of that “Jerry Springer” moment at another time.  Let’s just say that it ended with tears and my brothers joking that I wasn’t their “real sister”. 

I am an Army brat which means I moved around a lot as a kid, including living overseas in Germany. This experience was traumatic as a child, never feeling secure and knowing that you were only going to be friends with people for a limited time before moving again. I was constantly placed in spaces where I didn’t feel as though I belonged. I was too Black in Germany and told I talked like “a White girl” when in Louisiana. However, as I got older, I appreciated the experiences I got to have with so many people and cultures. It made me unafraid to pick up and move as an adult. I also learned how to be comfortable and make friends in a lot of different spaces. 

I am a mental health advocate. Not only because I have anxiety and depression, but I intimately know the pain that untreated mental health concerns have on families and communities. For me, when things are especially hard, I need to take prescription medication to help me deal with the strain I am under. During the pandemic, I worked to complete a doctoral degree, ran virtual school for my 3 children, worked full-time and kept my family healthy. I was under so much stress and was not fun to be around. However, during that time, I was also able to come to terms with my reality and get the help that I needed to be okay. I have zero doubt that I am a better wife, mother and person. 

I am a mother to three, beautiful Black children and one of my daughter’s was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. It took everything in me to not ignore the problems, pretend that they weren’t there and that she was developing at the same rate as her twin sister. And that her meltdowns, lack of language, eye contact and affection were “normal” and that she would grow out of it. I am thankful for my education background because I had enough context to know resources available to get her help early. To see her come out of her shell and engage with others more has been amazing. But, as a Black mom, I have an intimate knowledge of many of the challenges all of my children will face and want to share what I have and am continuing to learn about motherhood. 

I recently graduated from Georgia State University with my doctorate in educational leadership with the hopes of centering more Black, female leadership voices in the discussion around schools. This process was intense, but immensely rewarding as I walked away feeling more confident and capable of sharing my perspectives with others. I am grateful for the opportunity to conduct deep research and study and am confident in my ability to think and write at a high level. My dissertation can be downloaded https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/eps_diss/250.

Thank you for learning more about me and stay tuned for more. 

Capacity. Confidence. Critical Thinking.
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