June is HER:STORIES Month on the blog and I had the pleasure of sitting down with my very dear friend Danuvis last week and chatting a bit about her story and her life. I’m so excited to be able to share this with you!
Karen Cecilia: So, I’m really excited to do this interview and just chat to you for a bit about life and about what’s up ahead for you.
Danuvis: It’s funny that you want to talk to me about that because I literally was talking, on my way to church, to myself and to God, and just feeling a little lost. Like, I don’t have my next couple of years fully planned out. I haven’t really thought it through. I feel like life just hit me and it kind of left me trying to figure things out all over again as well as finding me all over again. So that’s kind of where I’m at. I don’t have some great things to say, haha.
KC: No, this is great! This is perfect and I feel like this is so important to discuss because we all get to that place where it’s like, God, what the heck? And we don’t know what he’s doing or we feel like he’s not doing anything and we’re like what is all of this for?
D: Yeah, and it’s scary because for a while I knew what my life was going to be like. I knew what I wanted to be, where I was going to go, even where I wanted to be at by now and now I’m just like, wait…what?
KC: Yeah, let’s talk about that! I know it’s a frustrating place to be in…
D: Yeah it is. It’s frustrating because I don’t want to be in this place and it’s uncomfortable.
KC: Ok, so let’s go down that road…what got you where you are right now? Not necessarily the events, but what is behind it? How did you come about to this place of frustration?
D: This was borne out of disappointment, for sure and I now stand in an unknown place and I’m just trying to figure things out. Starting with me wanting to be a registered nurse and that didn’t work out for me—
KC: I didn’t know that.
D: –I had to change my major and I couldn’t pursue becoming an RN anymore and that was highly disappointing. Just me and my faith with God. There were certain things that I believed, certain promises that I believed would have come to pass by now and not only haven’t they, but it just seems like it won’t happen now or perhaps plans have changed and I’m just trying to figure out what it is.
KC: Would you mind sharing some of the things that maybe at this point aren’t where you want them to be?
D: Well, for one: I didn’t want to be single at this point. Still a single parent to an 11-year-old daughter. I’ve practically raised her most of her life alone or single. So that’s frustrating. Career-wise, the change. Um…still single, haha.
KC: How do you navigate those disappointments? How do you deal with them?
D: Day by day. Choosing to think positive day by day. Encouraging myself and speaking to myself until I reach a point that I actually believe that everything is going to work out and there’s still a plan and I’m still in it.
KC: Yeah, for sure. That’s great.
KC: I want to chat to you about parenting to an 11-year-old girl—
D: –Eleven going on thirty.
KC: Haha! An 11-year-old girl who is so smart; she’s amazing. A girl, specifically, in this culture and this society where girls are being misinformed about where their identity is found. How do you instill values in her that help her to navigate this culture in a healthy way?
D: Just telling her how beautiful she is and how amazing she is. Forever congratulating her every chance that I get whenever she accomplishes something. I just want her to get used to knowing that and hearing that from me first. So that she hears it so much and for so long, that it’s not something that she feels she needs from someone else. Whatever happens, happens, but it’s all with the hope to be that for her so that she won’t ever feel like she needs that from anyone else.
KC: I’m not going to cry. (definitely crying)
D: And it works so far! The other day she created a project with the theme “Who Inspires You?” She chose three people: Meghan Markle, me, and herself. And I was just like, you chose yourself! She put it on this board and she put pictures of her three choices. On the side of the picture [of herself] she wrote why she chose herself. I’ll read it to you. This confirmed to me, that whatever I’m doing—it ain’t much—but its helping her. She wrote, “I am athletic, I am beautiful, I am funny, I am a social butterfly—“
KC: Yeah she is!
D: “–there’s more about me, but this is just a little bit.” So, she knows that about herself which is…I’m very lucky.
KC: I don’t think that’s luck! That’s parenting. That’s good parenting! Not everyone has that kind of confidence instilled in them as they’re growing up. Parents don’t always understand how important it is to speak into their kid’s lives as individuals so they don’t have to struggle as hard to find out who they are. I think it’s amazing that you do that. You’re awesome.
KC: So let’s talk about some fun things and then we’ll circle back to talk about some more serious things later. You’re a creative person, what are some creative outlets for you?
D: I haven’t really been creating anything lately, but I would say the most recent thing that’s been on my mind to create has been the shoe idea that I talked to you about [a while ago]. I’m a woman who loves heels, if I could wear them every day, all day, I would, but it’s difficult to do because they hurt! So I’ve been thinking of creating comfortable six inch heels for women who want to wear them more often than they actually can.
KC: I know you’ve talked to me about this before, but what’s your signature, what mark do you want to leave on this industry if this is something you wish to pursue? You spoke to me about the potential for a product like that—particularly in the fashion industry—runway models (you see those videos of the runway fails with the models and the shaky ankles), can you expand a bit on that?
D: For women to be able to wear these shoes and walk comfortably down the street, down the runway, even dance in them. I think I may have said something about even playing basketball in them! Haha.
KC: That sounds like something women would be ready for!
KC: Another fun question: if money was not a factor, what would you spend your days doing?
D: That’s a great question…hmm…I greatly enjoy making someone else’s life better in whatever way I can, if they need help in something or just guidance and direction. I enjoy helping peoples’ lives be better. I know so many people, especially where I come from, who don’t really have any positive role models or guidance or anyone to help them to be better, to do better, to become better. There’s a huge lack in that. For me, within my own circle, within my own friends, within my own reach, I always try to enlighten people. When I see a need, when I see that they’re missing something, when I see that they’re not getting it, when I see they just need someone to teach them otherwise…
KC: It’s funny, I was just talking to my parents two weeks ago, I don’t even know how we got to that conversation, but I was telling them about you. I was saying I never met anyone like you before with such a heart for people—It’s not that I think it’s bizarre, per se—actually I think it’s the heart of Jesus. I really do. You look at people with so much compassion and you act on it right away. Do you remember that time we were in a restaurant eating and across the street was a woman with a guy and she looked sick? You got up and went over with a bunch of napkins to see if she was ok—like we’re sitting in a restaurant having Mexican food and this woman is in a corner across the street probably throwing up because she was so drunk and you’re going over to make sure she’s ok and getting them in a cab safely! There were three of us sitting at the table, and you saw it and you went.
D: Ha, yes, I’m so strongly motivated in that.
KC: Yes! And I know the look that you get when you notice something, and I’m like there she goes, she’s about to do something. You do it all the time! I think its inspiring and convicting for all the regular people, like me, who see things, but don’t do as much as we could. So, thank you for being that example to me and I’m sure to other people in your life.
KC: Ok, I’m going to leave you alone soon, but not yet. Do you want to talk about dating? I have a couple of dating-related questions and you can answer them together. What is dating like as a single parent: what are your criteria, and how do you approach the idea of dating as a single parent? And does your faith effect the way you date and how so?
D: Everything about it! I would say that being a single mom totally changed my outlook on dating. I’m definitely more intentional about the individual that I choose to date versus “oh let me just give this guy a try”. I’m not as flexible about it anymore and I’m very specific about the individual, which is completely different from how I was before when I thought I had my whole life in front of me and I could just play around as much as I wanted. Also, the kind of role model or what that person would bring for my child—their personality, their character.
KC: How does faith play a role in that for you?
D: I would say faith is more the reason why I’m single than anything else, haha!
KC: How so? Tell me everything.
D: Because since having faith, I’ve learned or strongly felt like it can’t be just anyone. And because I feel like it can’t be just anyone, I automatically do not go out of my way to try to date just anyone. I think they work together: me being a single mom and me having faith, it narrows it down to a straight path in dating. So I’m [super] single because of both of those things.
KC: That is so real and I’m not even a parent, but I know what you mean about the faith thing for sure.
D: It’s a struggle.
KC: What advice would you give to a woman who is single and bringing up a young kid right now? Maybe advice to someone like yourself five years ago—someone who’s young with so many responsibilities.
D: Be strong. Believe in yourself. Keep going. Yeah…honestly there are so many struggles that you face being a single mom and not wanting to be there. I think the words that would matter in every up and down would be to be reminded to be strong; to believe in yourself through the doubts about how you are doing as a parent and the questions of how will you get things done. And just keep going. Don’t let anything hold you back, stop you or make you quit. Keep going because I just believe that everything will be alright.
KC: Yep, the Bible says it.
KC: Alright, last question, we can end here. I have a million questions, but this will be the last: what do you want to be remembered for? Years from now when your kid talks to her kids about you, when the history books are written, what do you want to be remembered for in the lives of people around you?
D: My heart. My love for people. Too many people walking around not caring about their neighbor. I want people and my daughter to know that I genuinely care. That in spite of everything that life has thrown at me and lack of resources most of my life, I still didn’t allow it to hold me back. I believe that I’ve overcome a lot of things.
KC: Would you like to share a few?
D: I was raised in a home with four other sisters and a single mom. No dad because he was gone when I was very young. The resources were limited, my mom, being a woman from a different country, she didn’t know how to help us in America and didn’t understand all the struggles that an American teenager experiences. So, for me not having the proper guidance or having anyone else that was a role model to me or cared enough about the things in my life. All the struggles I’ve been through I had to figure out on my own. I was the first to graduate from high school and the first to go to college and get two degrees (an Associates and a Bachelor’s). Now after me, my younger sister pursued her dreams and she’s in college and she’s the second person to go to college. My nephew goes to church and lives a much more positive life than what we were used to. My other nephew has dreams and goals and actually pursues them. I feel like I’ve overcome so many things in spite of the obstacles that it has opened up doors for those who are coming up after me. I’ve gone through things that make it so others didn’t have to.
KC: Yeah, I definitely feel that will be part of your legacy. You being the person on the front line, making a way for the people behind you and I think you do that in a lot of ways.
I just want to say THANK YOU, Danuvis. You are a one-of-a-kind friend and I thank God for you. I know that your story will bless many, just as it’s blessed me. Thanks for opening up and sharing it with us. LOVE YOU!
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.