When I met Tami I was so drawn to her. I knew she had an amazing story to tell and I am so honored she allowed me to capture her, and tell her story to the world.
She was a dream to work with and I feel so damn lucky to know this strong woman and call her my friend.
I hope you enjoy.
What makes you strong?
I believe my spirit makes me strong first and then my mind wills itself after my spirit. What's most amazing about the human body is it is so resilient and can push itself to the furthest limits, much more than we can comprehend. We naturally like to stay in our comfort zones, but "mind over matter" can totally will the body to give up or keep going. This is the very reason someone can get in an accident and re-learn to walk & talk again or give up and die- what they set their mind to do will happen. I'm strong because I refuse to give up, I have so many reasons to keep fighting.
When was a trying time you triumphed over a situation that felt like death and it only strengthened you?
Well there have been several times where I have faced death and overcame it; since I've beat death 3 times I am for certain I’m supposed to be here, and I am stronger and more resilient than I ever imagined. But I would have to say a time I triumphed over a situation was 2 years ago I found myself homeless and I had lost everything after a broken engagement/divorce. I decided it was time to leave my hometown and start over. It was the hardest thing I had ever done, I looked in my kids eyes and told them bye temporarily so I could go get back on track and rebuild my life and be the best Mom I could be for them. I drove to Texas in my Dodge Ram pickup truck with 7 bins in it. I had no money, no job, and my cousin offered me her couch. I came to this new state stripped of everything I had ever known, I didn't even have baby pictures of my kids. I found a job working with the State and was homeless for the entire 1st month working there. No one knew because I showed up to work dressed professional with a smile. From there I rebuilt my entire life. My children cheered me on from afar and made sure to FaceTime me often. My grandmother was my best friend; I found out before I left to Texas she was dying and had 18-20 months to live; but she told me to go live my life and be happy. I lost her 8 months after moving to Austin. Everything that happened in the span of 12 months would have destroyed someone else, the amount of loss I took seemed unbearable- BUT GOD. I kept my faith in Him, and He promised to restore everything to me and I am seeing Him do that daily. I will continue to follow my grandmas last words to me, “Be Brave and Be Happy.”
Name a woman or women who represent strength to you?
The women in my family represent strength to me. My grandmother had 6 children and my Mom had four. They were both pillars in our family and made sure we all were provided for and stuck together with all of our cousins. My Grandmother was a community pillar, often taking care of other peoples children and helping to raise them since she stayed home caring for us. The woman outside of my family I feel represents strength in every sense is Michelle Obama. Being FLOTUS is not an easy job, but being the first black FLOTUS is a role nobody can be prepared for. She handled inequality, hatred, bigotry with such class, wisdom and humility. I honestly felt like she deserved more honor and awards for the changes she brought and sought after while her husband served his terms. She carries a silent resilient strength that doesn't require many words, she just walks in it.
What are you most proud of about yourself?
I am most proud that I didn't become a statistic. I was a teen mother having my daughter at the tender age of 15. I knew nothing about sex, child birth or raising a child but I didn't run; I embraced the challenge and made my mind up to do the right thing, the right way, and make sure my children had every resource to be successful even though their Mother was young. I am proud I didn't give up and I kept going even when I lacked money, resources and energy. I have had a job since I was 15 and my own place since 19. Nothing has ever came easy to me but I would not trade my journey for the world ; it has molded the thoughts, character, knowledge and wisdom of the woman that stands before you today.
What advice would you give a woman ten years younger than you?
I would tell her this life is not a race, do what’s best for you at the time no matter whats status quo. Accomplish your goals with or without a man. Be everything you want to be, travel to every place you want to travel and never take your health for granted; it may not always be there. Make a plan 2 yrs, 5yrs, and 10yrs out and don't be afraid to cross out and redo the plan if necessary. As you evolve-plans, wants, and desires change. Never let anything prevent you from evolving. Get uncomfortable, take the trip, buy the shoes and definitely eat the cake!
Lastly, what would you say to the 15 year old you, if you could go back?
I would say "I know the Mountain you face seems insurmountable, but one day your going to look back and see the journey God brought you on and the reasons for it. Having a baby doesn't mean your life is ending; its just beginning and it will birth a new you . Love yourself well and love your children even harder. Don't let anyone hold you to and old version of yourself; you have to ability to redeem and reinvent yourself a thousand times if necessary. Your are not your mistakes but instead you are greater than your highest imagined self, and that self can be actualized if you don't listen to your Nay Sayers and keep being a Rockstar and breaking the barriers people want to contain you in as a teen Mom. Also your not a teen Mom forever- to your child your just Mom.