We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Martin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Prior to the pandemic, I worked to the point that I felt like I was always missing out on the important things especially as it related to family time. Now that we have been in this space for over a year, I have learned the importance of living in the now. I value the time I spend with my husband and children even more. I am enjoying watching them grow up even though the circumstances are different. I can be honest and say that there was no work/life balance for me prior to 2020. I was always on GO! Now, not only do I have it, I work hard to protect it. I think about balance from the point of understanding that it is essential for my peace. I love being able to walk away from my work to engage in my family time.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am an educator by day and a blogger by night. I have been in the education field for 15 years focusing primarily on gifted education. I actually started blogging years ago as classroom teacher with my students and found that it was an amazing way to share my ideas and thoughts with the world. Years later when I decided to return to blogging, it was more personal. I created iammichellerena.com as a space for Black women to be heard and seen. I started highlighting Dope Black Women each week who were doing something amazing, different, or who had overcome and had a story to tell about it. What I realized is that we all have a story to tell, many of us just never get an opportunity or a platform to tell it. I wanted to help curate that space to tell the stories of everyday Dope Black Women. I launched the blog on my birthday August 14, 2020 and from there I have highlighted over 50+ women to share their stories. In January, I added a contributing writer, Monica Odom, and she has added even more flair to the space. I am most excited about what I do because it allows me to meet new people, reconnect with people I’ve known for years, and cultivate a creative part of me that was dormant for a while. It has been so much fun interviewing and interacting with all of the people I have highlighted. I wouldn’t say that it was easy. When I initially reached out to people and said that I wanted to interview them for my blog that I was working on some were hesitant, but the ones who were on board were ready from day one. Lol! I had a few friends who seemed to understand the vision from the very beginning and they jumped in head first with me. Some of the lessons that I have learned along the way is not to take anything personally, rest when your body says rest, and being honest and transparent is much easier than pretending. I have been so fortunate to be in a space where I get to be myself unapologetically and I try to encourage others to do the same.
I want the world to know that iamMichelleRena.com is a place where you are free to be yourself. I am a big advocate for mental health and wellness and I try my best to create a safe space for those who need to have their voices heard. One of my favorite quotes is from Malala Yousafzai. She said “I raise up my voice, not so I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” I try to raise my voice to ensure that we (Black Women) are heard.
Finally, I live each day to witness and embrace the impossible! For me, it’s the idea of the impossible things that make life worth living! So I go out seeking to do that which has been deemed impossible. Sometimes I fail, but it just gives me the juice to get back up and go at it again!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When I am in Atlanta, I am definitely visiting the Slutty Vegan, the classic Pappadeaux, and Spondivits. We are definitely hitting up the Georgia Aquarium, the Civil Rights Center, World of Coca-Cola, and a day at either Piedmont or Centennial Park. There are so many places to shop so stopping by Lenox or Cobb Galleria would certainly top our list, but our primary focus would be on the smaller privately owned boutiques.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people who have contributed to me becoming who I am. I am so grateful for each of their contributions. First and foremost, my mother Genevia, who instilled in me a strong work ethic. She is the reason that I am a go(al) getter and always willing to learn new things. My daughters, Zahra, Kai, Laila, and my bonus Amber, have taught me patience and resilience. I know that I can’t give up on my dreams because they are watching and I never want them to think it is ok to give up on theirs. The universe is the limit for us! My husband, DeAlex helps to keep me balanced, he is the man behind the scenes and he makes sure that all of the intricate details of what I want to do are in sync. I come up with the dreams but he helps me to dream bigger. Finally, there is my TRIBE, my girlfriends, all Dope Women ! The women in my circle literally challenge me to do better each day. From working out, to eating healthy, to being intentional about meditation and prayer, and lastly to ensuring that I make time for myself. I love each and every one of my girls because they help me to be the absolute best version of myself and I make it a practice to do the same for them.
Lomiekia Messam of Dynamic Duo Photography