Category Archives: Blog Posts

I Overcame Bullying

1391619_720377891343742_2918921522263846905_nFor some time now, I’ve wanted to address bullying. As I host workshops, I always meet students/children, who are being bullied and teased, and it makes me feel that I must do something to add to awareness. In my girls’ mentoring workshops, I teach young ladies how their words affect each other and teach them how to communicate in healthy and effective ways. Today, in honor of World Day of Bullying Prevention, I am sharing the story of an amazing young lady, who was bullied and has overcome it. In her story, you will hear how teasing—what some call “just kids being kids”—can have lasting and potentially dangerous effects.

stephanie Hi my name is Stephanie, I am 18 years old and currently working at Meijer. Yes, I have unfortunately been bullied before. It happened all through junior high and slowly ended in high school. This always happened at school, either in class or at lunch in the café. I still to this day do not know why I was the bully target. I was the sweetest girl ever. I was very shy. Just for some reason the kids decided to target me.

Overcoming this was very difficult for me. My family was always there for me, though. I would also seek help from counseling services. I would tell my teachers and principal all the time, and their reply to that was “oh they are just being kids.”

 “people will not always be nice. They do not always care about you or the situation you are going through.” 
I have overcome it all for the most part now. I still worry about people bullying me to this day to be honest. I did learn that people will not always be nice. They do not always care about you or the situation you are going through. My mom always told me when people are mean to you then that means it makes them feel good about themselves. I find it so wrong!
I feel this has made me better as a person because not only did I live with being bullied, I can also talk to others who get bullied and give them advice. If only they knew how bad my feelings hurt. if only they knew every day after school I would go home and just cry… Cutting and crying seemed to ease the pain and words away. They had no clue how bad words hurt. The mean words I was called about cost me my life.
 “bullying is so painful, but you can be strong enough to not let it get you down.”
I want other kids who are being bullied/parents of kids being bullied to know you have to stay strong. Think about the bright future ahead of you. Please do not ever try to commit suicide. Think about all of those who love you. Yes, bullying is so painful, but you can be strong enough to not let it get you down.
Update: Stephanie was being bullied when she was 12 and 13 years old. When I asked about how she is doing now, this was her response.
“I just graduated high school and I go to college, and would like to be a nurse. I am doing great! Every now and then I get low self esteem because the words “fat”, “ugly”, and “stupid” will always be in my mind…. But I do my best to keep my chin held high and keep my beautiful smile on my face.”
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Thank you Stephanie for sharing your story. So many people don’t realize how hurtful teasing can be, nor the lasting effects. I hope through your story and others, parents and children will learn that bullying is not a laughing matter.

The Truth!

The motivational speakers who have impacted me the most are those who have shared their story, but I… honestly, don’t want to share my story. It hurts… and the story I’ve told myself is that if I share it, it may hurt others… 

… the question everybody asks me more than any other once they meet me and have learned of my book is, “What motivated you to write I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!?” And I always graciously smile, think for a second, then give them an answer that is definitely true AND missing some critical parts. 

My answer to the question usually goes something like this. “Well, I wrote I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! because I have always had a problem with the way people of color—particularly Black people—place value judgments based on physical characteristics such as skin tone and hair texture….” Depending on how talkative I am feeling at that particular moment, I may add another personal truth… that I wrote the book because I feel like our generation and the one before us (the “say it loud, ‘I’m Black and I’m proud.'” generation), have “missed the boat,” and left our children with a really distorted sense of self. A lot of us don’t know who we are, don’t accept who we are, or just discovered who we are somewhere in our thirties, and I just felt that the kids needed a fighting chance. By starting at such a young age, I can give them a firm foundation of healthy self-esteem from early childhood, rather than spend their teenage years trying to repair damage that was done likely before they even turned 6. 

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Anyway, I digress… the point is that although the topic and motive for desiring to write this book came from those desires for change, the urgency came from an unexpected life transition….

I wrote I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! because I was desperate…. I was happy as a stay-at-home mom, to my beautiful one-year-old (at the time) and decided that if I designed natural hair t-shirts and inspirational products online, I could work from home. The products in my online store became the original I’m Proud to Be Natural Me product line. (Most of these products are still available in my store http://www.zazzle.com/mdillondesigns.) Well… without disclosing all the details, I will say that two days after I opened that store, I went from stay-at-home mom to single mom.995049_904412206240060_3211499269042872400_n

Without a dime to my name, set to be evicted from our apartment in less than a week, I turned to my family and they graciously took me and my little girl in. The photo of us that is posted on many of my social media pages was taken just weeks after this major transition. I put on a brave face, went to the now closed Sears Portrait Studio in River Oaks, and did a photo shoot with my daughter to celebrate her turning 2 years old and us being alright no matter what… At a time when I could have broken down and decided to be depressed and not be there for my child, I pulled it together and “kept it moving.” I stayed up late and got up early, working many nights with my daughter sleeping across my lap, and even more nights with her cradled in my arms as I designed the little girls you see displayed in my book and on my products. 

For a year I stayed up creating these items in my online store, that in my head would be our ticket to independence. I would post products constantly on social media thinking to myself, “People know I’m a single mom. They’ll buy my products. We’re gonna be alright.” Ha! No such luck. Well… we are alright, but the products didn’t sell…. yet. AmazonLookInside

When I finally completed the book, self-published it via CreateSpace, and saw my “Look Inside” preview on Amazon, I KNEW we were about to take off! But that didn’t really do it either.

So, I said to myself maybe I’m not giving back enough, promoting enough, doing enough and began to fill in those gaps, of course, while working a “regular” J-O-B. And finally, I thought to myself after listening to many of my personal development CDs, I think I know what’s wrong. I have negative energy around my book. I need to revise it and add the missing pieces that are causing me to put out a vibe in the Universe that no one should buy it.  I was desperate. Did that. Sales? About the same.

So now, I’m here, it’s 2014. I’ve raised the stakes. Tired of being in my momma’s house, although I am grateful I have that option to do so (many wish they did), I have promised my daughter that we’re getting our own home. I am motivated. That’s one thing I have not lost through all of this. I am actually more motivated now than ever. Sometimes seeing a glimpse of your dream, or in my case seeing another “impossible” dream come true is motivation enough to keep on pushing, toward that big thing that you want. Honestly, I’m sitting up right now typing this, praying the light from the computer doesn’t wake her up. We need a space of our own… with our own separate rooms. A place where we can bake cookies together in our own kitchen, have a dog and a cat (her dream), … a space where a thirty-five year old mom, can think and regroup, read and watch shows like Scandal without having to flip to Sprout every time there’s a love scene. I want my little gymnast to have room to practice her forward rolls, and when she watches her ballet DVD to have room to twirl… (sigh)…  

Anyway…. I hope that through my story you may gain some hope for your own journey. Doing the thing that is in you to do is not always easy, but sometimes these unexpected transitions help us discover our gifts, realize our passions, and give us the boost we need to pursue them. Wanting my own helps me press forward toward making my book a best seller. Needing to ensure my daughter has an easier path motivates me to press through when I want to give up. No matter what I’ve been through, I have always returned to the belief that “all things have purpose.” Had I not experienced all I did, there would be no I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! So, if for no other reason, my rough spots have allowed me to produce something that is helping children come to embrace the truth of their beauty, a realization that alters all aspects of life.

Have you learned from a life challenge? Have you come to learn your purpose through a perceived setback? I’d love to hear from you below! 

If you are interested in any of the products/services I mentioned, here are some links.

My passion for sharing the message that “we are ALL beautiful as is” has not changed. I’ll be speaking at a daycare this evening on Chicago’s South Side. I am not discouraged by a long shot. I know things are coming together and… my child eats everyday. 🙂 I will continue to visit daycare centers and schools looking for opportunities to empower children with the message I believe with all my heart I was sent to teach. I am also planning a multicultural parenting workshop to be held in the Hyde Park area, to addressing the challenges of instilling healthy self-esteem in children of multicultural heritage…. It’s just that while continuing with my purpose I am also ready to live my life full out… to tell people “you can live your dreams” knowing that when I step down from the podium, I am a very clear example of how true that statement is. 

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Me & Mini MeMarlene Dillon is the self-published author of the empowering children’s book, I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!  She is a single mom on a mission to inspire others by living fully and purposefully, and by sharing her gifts and her story openly. Through powerful workshops she mentors young girls, and teaches parents and children how  to build healthy self-esteem and confidently pursue their passions.

If you find value in what Marlene is doing and would like to make a monetary donation, rather than purchase products, you may do so securely via PayPal by clicking the “Make A Donation” button below. 

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VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH!!!

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH!!!! September 1 through 7th!

I am SO EXCITED about the I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! Virtual Book Launch! I’m even more excited that you’re here!

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Order your book right now and receive a special gift for your little one! *While supplies last.

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is the book I wish I had as a little girl. I didn’t realize that I was beautiful naturally until I was in my 20’s! That’s a long time to not love and embrace myself. I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is my attempt to save our children some years (my daughter included)! Imagine who and what they will be when they start out believing in themselves… when they at 3 and 4 can look at themselves in the mirror and say, “I love what I see!” Click the picture to buy now!

I am so eager to get a copy to your little one. Fill out the form below, with the name of who you’d like me to autograph it to, and the simple mailing info then click “Buy Now.” There you will securely order your autographed copy via PayPal. That way your information is safely processed and I simply sign and mail your book. I’m so excited. Go ahead. Order now. Your child is going to LOVE it! 

 

To purchase a copy of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! simply fill out and SUBMIT the info form below, then click the “Buy Now” link.  *For larger orders please fill out the form on our Contact page.

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Your Inner Critic is Your Frenemy

A good friend of mine called me out, today. Told me that I am WAY too hard on myself. That I am definitely my “biggest critic.” And I was half listening, and half letting it go out the other ear, until these words were spoken, “You would never even let someone like that be cool with you.”

And I thought about it. That’s true. I don’t let negative people in my inner circle. You can be as cool as hell is hot, but if you are a Debbie Downer, Negative Nancy (no offense Nancy ), or one who constantly criticizes others, we will never be close. That’s just a MAJOR turnoff for me.

innercritic

So it seems really… messed up…. that the character flaw I won’t allow in my inner circle, is residing… within ME! I have come to a horrible discovery. I just realized that the person I listen to the most is my FRENEMY. That’s simply unacceptable. It’s full on Crazy Town! I have to do something about this. So, I decided she has to die. lbvs

So I’m breaking up my inner critic. She’s not my friend. She doesn’t deserve all the time and attention she gets. She has no right to even speak to me. She’s mean. She doesn’t even like me. She never has anything nice to say. No matter what I do right, she always points out the one thing I did wrong!

So it’s over between us. I know she’s not gonna go nicely so….. I’m gonna attempt to starve her to death. She loves attention, so I’m not gonna give her any. When I catch myself listening to her, I’m just gonna stop her mid-sentence, and tell her how awesome I am, and maybe even remind her of what I’ve done RIGHT! Eventually her voice won’t be the loudest one I in my head. Eventually, thoughts of my awesomeness will overshadow her criticism. Eventually, she’ll be nothing more than a faint whisper in the background of my thoughts. The voice I question, rather than automatically accept as truth.

** Our inner critics will likely never stop talking, and that’s actually a good thing, if we train ourselves to listen for the tips on how we can better prepare and fine tune our life strategies. #Proud2B #NaturalMe http://improudtobenaturalme.com/

I Believe in My Book

“I want to spend the rest of my life loving my daughter and inspiring others. That is what I was created to do.” —Marlene Dillon

 If I see a sad cashier at Target, I’m in her line trying to encourage her. If I see a little girl with curly hair, I have to stop and give her a book. Empowering others is not just what I do, it’s who I am. I wrote I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! to give children an opportunity to learn that they are beautiful as is. Many parents don’t think to teach their children to be confident in themselves. It doesn’t happen automatically. My book is an amazing tool for starting that conversation.

I am very proud of the work I’ve done with little to no money, and I know I could have a much greater impact, if I had the resources. I wrote, illustrated and self-published I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! with no money in my pocket and my little girl sleeping across my lap. I am recently separated, sleeping in my parents’ basement, but the message is so necessary, and there’s no more time to waste—children need to know who they are and parents need to know how what we say and do impacts their self-worth. My book has provided me an awesome platform to hold workshops at public libraries, speak in schools and meet the most amazing people at networking events. Thanks to my current job as a teacher’s assistant, I have been able to purchase books (25 or so at a time) to present at fairs and various events. Although, the lack of funds has caused me to turn down numerous opportunities to share my message, I continue to share, network, and speak where I can.
I believe in my book. For all the children who require their parents to read I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! to them every night, for the little 4th grade girl I spoke to in a classroom who said, “I used to believe I was ugly, but now I know I’m beautiful,” for the child who’s likely never seen someone who looks like her on the cover of one of her books, and for the countless times parents have come up to me at events thanking me for writing it, I know it is necessary. I know it is a message that needs to be shared. And I know I cannot do it by myself.  As I sit here with tear-filled eyes desiring so desperately for the resources to reach more children, to visit other states,speak and hold workshops, and even to continue to give books to those who can’t afford it, I ask how you will you help me accomplish my dream? You can share, you can give, you can ask others who you know have the resources and would love to support what I’m doing to read this for themselves. However you can help, I ask you to because this is bigger than me. This is bigger than a single mom who wants to give her daughter her own room and a puppy. This is about the lives I was created to affect for positive change. I cannot do it without your help. Will you please give a $5 donation to my FundRazr and tell others of the work I’m doing? Please give and share, there is a link below.

Thank you for your time and thank you in advance for your support.

With much love and inspiration,

Marlene

Here’s the link to my FundRazr: http://fnd.us/c/2MCJ3/sh/6waf0

Next Event: Children’s Empowerment Workshop, Saturday, Dec. 21, 11—2, Woodson Regional Library (Chicago)

Check out my new promo video and please share below!

Give What You’ve Got

I recently had the awesome opportunity to speak to a group of girls on Chicago’s Southside. This is amazing group of young ladies is so full of promise, talent, and light. It was inspiring working with them, and I’m grateful to my dear friend Michelle Pechter and Aspire to Greatness for granting me the opportunity to “pour into” these young ladies for a few minutes. I walked into the event thinking of how great it would be to take the minutes allotted to speak a word of truth into their hearts—to tell them something that could change the course of their lives for the better.

So what did I tell these girls? What nugget of truth did I feel was the one thing that I could leave with them and feel I had fulfilled my purpose? I told them the one thing that I know now that would have accelerated the course of my life had I heard it earlier. I told them the truth, that it is more than okay to be yourself.

Special thanks to Getty Images!

It’s okay to be your awesome, unique self.

I told them that they are great as is. What does that mean? Well, in short, that the gifts, passions, and interests within them—their unique characteristics—are an amazing part of them that they should embrace and cultivate, rather than hide and alter to fit in. I told them that it is okay to want to be a doctor, if that’s what’s in you, and that it’s also perfectly okay to design doll clothes, if that’s who you are. I mean, think about it, while others scoff at the idea, somebody is getting paid top dollar by Mattel to design clothes for their dolls. It’s about not thinking small of who we are. We are great—each and every one of us.

I had to tell them the truth. Why? Because no one ever told me that, or at least not in a way that I could receive. I was already 30 when I began to halfway view myself as an artist, and I just started calling myself  an author.  I want children to know that it is okay to accept the gifts that are in them, to cultivate and celebrate those gifts.  I mean, I’ve spent at least 20 years trying to deny the creator I was meant to be—regardless of what evidence was all around me—and now, I know better. There’s no stopping me. I’ve been through some of roughest times of my life these past few years but I guarantee you, now that I know who I am, I won’t let anything stop me. It doesn’t matter what “setbacks” I’ve experienced, or what obstacles I’ve had to overcome. I know who I am now and she will not be denied. 🙂

Naturally Confident—A Movement of Self-love

I am sooo excited that my book is FINALLY out! 😀  The reality is that I can hardly contain my joy because I realize that for once, I had a really big task in front of me—not a go pick up the dry cleaning task, but a lives will be affected if you do this (and lives will be affected if you don’t) kinda task—and I overcame every possible obstacle and got it done! I am so excited because I am walking in my purpose, finally. I love my blog, but this is something different. The manner, the reach, the opportunity to shift a child’s life from mediocre (or less than) to walking in their greatness (as they were created to be) is something totally different.

I know that sounds like a tall order for a picture book, but I see the bigger picture. This book starts the conversation that so many parents overlook. What I realize now, as I raise my little girl, is that you can teach a child to be confident. It’s actually something you instill in them. They don’t just pick it up at school. It’s not just their natural way or personality. The words that we speak to a child, the way that we address them, how we react to their mistakes, and whether or not we celebrate their successes all work together to fill their head with “I am enough” versus “I’ll never measure up.”

A beautiful story of self-acceptance for our little ones.

I am excited about I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!—that many think is about hair care tips for kids, or about race, or that it in some way excludes one race or another (or even members of the same race). The truth of the matter is, even I had the wrong idea when I first started writing it. It was a book “for little brown girls” when I first started “fleshing it out,” but somewhere in the process of writing it, I said to myself, “this message is universal.” I realized that an alabaster-skinned, freckle-faced redhead deals with the same struggles of “fitting in” that a little brown girl with tight curls does. Maybe it’s not the same in depth and history and indoctrination, but the pain of not being accepted is the same. The pain, and joy, and all the other emotions that are core to humanity, connect us all. We all can relate to wondering if our differences make us less, or unworthy, or deserving of isolation. I want children to learn early that our differences and similarities are all beautiful and worthy of celebration—in short, that we are ALL beautiful as is. It is a simple message, but a hugely important one. If we teach our children in preschool that they are amazing, we don’t have to convince them in high school that they are significant.

This is my proactive effort toward eliminating low self-esteem. If you agree with this message, please share this post, and if you are able, purchase a copy of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! for the little one’s in your life. It’s now available on Amazon! 🙂

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is now on Amazon!

Why I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!?

NOW ON AMAZON! Order today!

It’s time to teach our children,
we are ALL beautiful as is.

On Christmas morning, I was inspired to write my second children’s book, I’m Proud to Be Natural Me. It is a story about a little girl who learns to embrace her beauty after being teased by other children because of the texture of her hair. Through a tender conversation with her mother, she realizes that her hair is a part of her identity, and is celebrating that truth by the end of the story.

This book is very important to me as I am raising a beautiful little girl with natural hair. With a master’s in counseling, I know how urgent it is to give her a strong sense of self, especially at this early age. A child’s self-esteem begins to erode very early in life so it is essential to give our children a firm foundation from the start. I’m Proud to Be Natural Me is more than just a children’s story, it is a tool of empowerment for our children. It is an opportunity to teach our kids a lesson that our generation seems to have missed, that we are ALL beautiful as is.

Will you please help me share this message? Please choose one of the links below to “Share” this post with as many people as you can. Purchase this amazing children’s book for your little ones, and loved ones. And proudly wear I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! products, which are available in my online store.  

Thank you so much for your support. Together we can heal our world by empowering ourselves and our children. Please don’t forget to click the “Share” buttons below.

Yours Truly,

Marlene Dillon

*Click here to order I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!

What Is I’m Proud to Be Natural Me?

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is a movement of self-love created by author and designer Marlene Dillon. It’s bigger than a hairstyle or hair texture; it’s about the beliefs that run deep beneath the surface.

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is not about condemning those who choose to weave, press, “perm” (relax), or flat iron their curls away. Nor is it about deifying those of us who chose to rock our curly locs for life.

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is about recognizing and accepting that our hair is a part of our identity. It’s about learning to love and appreciate our hair in it’s natural state. 

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is about loving our hair no matter what state it’s in and teaching our children to do the same. It’s about internalizing that no matter how we choose to style, straighten, or color our hair, at the root we are beautiful as is.

NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM! ORDER TODAY!