Turning Pain into Purpose: How She Experienced the Ultimate Glow Up During a Pandemic
Photo by: omxproductions
Nothing makes me more proud than to witness the glow up of my fellow Black woman, especially when I know her personally, it hits different when you see your friends win.
A year and a half ago, I attended my first women's empowerment event as a newbie in ATL. It was incredible to be in the company of so many beautiful, talented, and successful, melanated Queens, who had the collective agenda to let their hair down and share their stories in a safe space. Me, being the introverted individual that I am, sat against the wall, with my drink in one hand, phone in the other, just observing as the rest of the women got their two-step on and took full advantage to work the room and network. To the left of me, was this tall, gorgeous Sistah with an infectious smile, bubbly personality, and flawless makeup; having the time of her life. A whole vibe! I remember thinking to myself, "I love her energy, and I wanna be friends with this girl." There was something about her spirit that was so inspiring, and captivating. I continued to stay to myself, and talk to people that were only in close proximity to me until she walked up and said, "Girl, if you don't get off that phone!" and then proceeded to include me in her video on IG live, as I smiled awkwardly and threw up the peace sign.
After the event, we exchanged our IG's, and about a week or so later met up for brunch at Maggiano's. We had so much in common it was almost scary, and from that moment on, became fast friends. A few months later, we attended another event together and continued to stay in touch, and keep each other in the loop about what we were up to. With everything going on in the world, hectic schedules, and my personal bouts with sickness, we haven't had a chance to catch up in person. Since the pandemic, we've been more intentional about staying connected, even if it's only virtually, as a way to still show up for one another and show support. To witness her growth from afar over the last several months, in the midst of such a trying time, has been inspiring. I wanted to personally give my good sis her flowers, and acknowledge her publicly, for the amazing work that she is doing.
Without further adieu, I present to you, the one and only, Natasha Faulker.
*Imaginary crowd of Black women screaming yassss as they welcome her to the main stage*
Monday, September 7th at 9:30am via zoom
B: Natasha!!! It's so great to see you, sis! Thank you so much for being available. I just wanted to say I'm so proud of you. You have such a powerful testimony, and I think that a lot of women, Black women, in particular, can benefit from hearing/reading it, especially now when there's so much fear, darkness, and helplessness. There's such a heaviness in the air, and we deserve to feel lighter, to feel hope, and to experience joy like never before. This has been a tough year, but a transformative one, could you tell me more about what you've been up to, and how you are managing right now?
N: First and foremost, thank you, girl. I'm honored, truly. I remember a year ago when we were at ElevateHer, and you spoke about how you were in the process of working on trying to write for OMNoire and look at you now! This is a full-circle moment!
There's a lot to be thankful for, a lot to be frustrated about, a lot of sadness, and anxiety. It's gotten to the point where people are stressing over money, the pandemic, worried about being sick, and we have to be Black. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, police brutality, trying to stay in the loop, I literally felt like I couldn't breathe. I literally felt like I was gonna die, then I was thinking that I thought I had COVID. I called 911, and they stayed on the phone with me, and talked to me, and told me that I had a panic attack.
It's like, you have no control over anything, but you have to live your life. I lost a lot of people, in the physical aspect because of death, and through distancing myself mentally. When you see or been through so much trauma, it starts to take a toll on you. Losing my mom two years ago, was a wake-up call. Then, I went through a divorce, changes in my relationships, just so much going on.
This is the time to live.
No matter what our diets are, you never know when your time is up.
Chadwick Boseman--literally dying right before our eyes, still managed to show up for himself and showed up for other people. That showed me that even if yesterday was a rough day, you have to keep going, you have to keep moving forward.
B: 2020 has been a hell of a year, to say the very least. We are experiencing levels of pain and turmoil that we have never endured and could have never imagined that we'd experience in this lifetime, but here we are. And like so many of us, I honestly believe that no matter how hard it is, no matter how many times we didn't think we were gonna make it, we have to cling onto some hope. Our ancestors suffered, they endured so much, but they overcame, so it's in us to be overcomers. There is a purpose in our pain, I'm not sure what it is, but it's not for no reason. We're still here because there's a lesson in all of this, there's a purpose that goes beyond us, and we have to do our best to learn as much as we can, and fulfill that purpose to the best of our abilities. Speaking of turning pain into purpose, how did PB&Justice come about, what was the catalyst that helped birth this vision into fruition?
Logo by: Pretty Face Mean Hustle
N: I started PB&Justice on June 10th. I was getting off of work at midnight and really couldn't sleep. I have insomnia and would be up in the middle of the night with all of these ideas, and I was like, I gotta do something with them. After my panic attack, I signed up for therapy, and my therapist told me to do things that I enjoy and to get out of the house. I would go to protests on weekends and ask myself what I could do to help this movement, particularly with police brutality.
One day, I went to Piedmont Park, wore all black, and held a sign that said, "I didn't want to come out today, because I'm Black."
I had strangers coming up to me, talking to me, hugging me, it was crazy. I heard different people saying they leave protests, and have no food. I thought to myself, "what can I do?" I asked myself, what is something that won't spoil? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! For people who have a peanut butter allergy, I'll make almond butter sandwiches. I can make sandwiches for the protesters! I thought, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, PB&Justice, that's how I came up with the name. Then I called up some friends and told them that I needed a cute logo, and so I can have bags and things like that and came up with the colors. I wanted the brown to represent us, and the jelly which of course is purple, and put it on a black t-shirt. I really wanted to do something that was for everybody, that is geared towards fighting racial injustice, and educating people on systematic oppression while feeding them a sandwich. PB&Justice is an organization that not only provides lunches for protesters but also helps to spread awareness about what's going on. After each protest/event, we take the leftovers, and go to different communities in Atlanta, and distribute it to the homeless.
You're literally turning your pain into purpose. Think about everything you've gone through in the last two years. I've known you for a short time, and I see the growth. You've transformed that energy into something productive and formed a movement. This is truly gonna take off, and be so powerful! What's next for you, and what's next for PB&Justice?
N: I know, it's so crazy! It's not for clout, it's not to be noticed, it's not for attention. I am for the community, for education, for love, for equality. I'm up in the middle of the night, I don't sleep, I have so many ideas, and I write. I've been sitting on so many ideas, and I've been waiting for someone to take a chance on me, and just listen. I've just been waiting for someone to give me a shot. I want to impact someone's life, that's it! I'm not chasing the bag, the money will come. As long as I can pay my utilities, that's all I care about. I have so much love to give, and so much I want to show people. I have a voice, and I want other people to see that they have a voice, too. I have been bullied, I have been talked about, I've been beaten to the ground.
I would like to thank all of the people who have shown up for me during this time, and for those who helped bring my vision to light. Special shoutout to my sister, mentor, and friend Janessa Dennis, for providing a safe space for protesters, organizers, and the community to come together to let their hair down, and helping them/us to feel seen and heard through access to yoga, therapy, and so much more.
When I tell you, there is nothing that you cannot do, through Christ that strengthens you! And, with some good ol' sage! With a good ol' cleanse, and some Christ, there is nothing that you cannot do! It took me a long time, to be stripped, and for God to literally push me to the edge.
If you would have told me 6 months ago that I would be a homeowner at the age of 29, I would have never believed you. Then I was like, I'm quitting all my jobs, and I'm gonna step out on faith. I got 123 followers on Dora's Daughter's, my closet organizing page, and PB&Justice is getting off the ground, we gon get it! That's my purpose, that's what gets me up in the morning. I have work to do, I have mouths to feed, and I have smiles to put on people's faces.
Colin Kaepernick took a knee, Janessa threw a renewal revival, and I started making sandwiches, there are so many different ways to spread awareness about what's going on right now. Whatever it is that will help you heal, and to help others heal, do it. It's about connections, not competition. I just want to change the world, one peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a time.
B: Support is a verb, we gotta show up for one another. We can accomplish so much more if we come together, and use our resources, and use our platforms to heal collectively. There's enough for all of us, we can all eat, we gotta get out of the scarcity mindset. That's why it's so important for me to write, and use my voice, that's my form of protest. There's strength in being vulnerable, your story can unlock someone's else's prison, I believe in that wholeheartedly, that's my purpose. Right now, we are both operating in our purpose.
N: You are the shit! Black women move the damn world. We have to encourage, empower, and uplift each other. We got this!
Photo by: omxproductions
At this point in the interview, we were marveling at the fact that without even realizing it, we were using all of our pain and obstacles as stepping stones to propel us to the next level, which is our purpose. We have manifested the very things that we talked about a year or so prior, and we are very much on the way of becoming who we are meant to be.
Natasha spoke candidly about what life has been like for her as a 29-year-old, newly divorced, bi-sexual woman, and how these experiences have shaped her in a way that allows her to be intentional about showing up for others. She learned earlier on that isolating herself from the world was not only unhealthy but that she was doing herself and others a disservice by going into hiding. By being transparent about what she has gone through, she has had the opportunity to connect with so many amazing people, who like her, just want to be advocates for positive change for the black and brown communities, and beyond.
I cannot wait to see how God will continue to show up in her life and to see the beautiful places he will take my friend. It was an honor to interview, and celebrate her. So many of us have been discouraged and have been close to throwing in the towel because of the uncertainty and unexpected losses this year has brought, but I wanted to highlight why it's important to keep going on, even when it's hard.
We are all one decision away from a completely different life.
I hope that you keep showing up for yourself, with unconditional love, patience, and grace, knowing that there is a purpose for everything that we go through in life and that you will make it on the other side.
For more information on how to support and/or get involved in Natasha's movement check her out on her Instagram page Nosh.is.
This piece is dedicated to Natasha's mother, Marsha Elizabeth Callahan.