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We Asked, You Answered: What Inspires You?


Recently, I was at a speaking engagement, and was asked, “What inspires you?” Thankfully, I have many sources of inspirations in my life. Without a doubt, my #1 source of inspiration would be my husband!

Me with my husband Kahlil

My husband is a man who I had to know the minute I saw him. Our love story actually began at a Greyhound Bus stop at Penn State University. It was fall break and I was on the bus home, chatting with a friend; that was when I first saw Kahlil.

At the time, he was dressed in Sixers gear from head to toe. Instantly, I lost my breath. He was and continues to be the most attractive man to me. Deep down, I knew that I needed to know him. Thankfully, I was bold enough to make it happen. I took the bold move then to introduce myself and the rest is history.

So, why does he inspire me? His love, patience, and deep connection is the driving reason why we live our lives full of love, excitement, and constant joy. He is there when I need help, when I need a pep talk, or just someone to hear me out. I will eternally be grateful for finding my soulmate and life partner in my husband.

Some of our readers share what inspires them below:

Teri Mandel:

My friends Mandie Mutchie and Joao Bosco have been my biggest inspirations and motivators the past year. They’ve showed me the importance of making health, nutritional and lifestyle changes to better improve my life. I am forever thankful to Joao for telling me about Dr. Terry Wahls, Dr. Mark Hyman and David Wolfe, all who I have learned so much from regarding health and nutrition in the past year and am forever grateful for the knowledge they have given me.

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Teri Mandel

I am eternally thankful for Mandie continuously telling me about Beachbody and how it could not only improve my health, but my whole life. Mandie inspires me to be a healthier person daily! I have learned so much from both Mandie and Joao about health and nutrition this past year, giving me more information on how to go about living a healthier life and motivating me to actually do so by implementing healthy changes into my life so that I live healthier and motivate others to do the same.

In life, it is very important to have personal sources of inspiration! Especially, when dealing with things that make our journey a little bit more difficult.

The beautiful Melissa Henrius says:

My mother is my inspiration because she was a single mother in a low income environment. Unable to finish high school, she took responsibility at a young age taking care of her sister (my aunt), cousins and a few years later, me. Despite her journey, she made sure we were all fed, clothed and had a roof over our heads. Goals were not set for herself but for us to have the best education and become career driven women. Being raised in an area within Brooklyn that held the highest statistics of early teen pregnancy, drugs and gang activity, my mother protected us the best way she could and taught us our strength and love from day one. And this is why she is such a huge inspiration to me.

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Melissa Henrius

Melissa adds:

As many young adults, we face challenges that can either put us on the wrong path or can help us gain access to a successful life and future. I believe my mother not completing school has provided me with a firsthand experience with many challenges that one may face without the highest level of education, such as a career. Entering college was a first for me and it was a little difficult. I was balancing work and school as I am became a young adult; learning different diversities in a different city. It allowed me to shape my street smarts and educate myself so that I could think outside of the box when it comes to work and personal life decisions.

Like Melissa, Mariana Teixeria Cardoso dos Santos’s #1 source of inspiration is her mother. She says:

She never gave up on me, in any way, but especially whenever I decided to try some new sport.

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When I discovered CrossFit, I thought it was too hard for me. She said that if she could do it, so could I, so we both joined. Almost a year after that, it’s still my favorite sport, and we’re doing it together.

While business owner Katrina Bills says:

Writing is therapeutic and a great stress release activity. Being a business owner, any positive resource is a plus+.

I couldn’t agree more with Katrina. Outside of people, it is important to have hobbies and activities that make us feel alive. Writing can be such an incredible inspiration and element of positivity needed in so many lives.

The bold Davina Hargrave says she is inspired by strong females.

She told us:

I am a strong female who surrounds herself with fellow strong females!

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Davina Hargrave

Women should celebrate being fabulous no matter what shape, size or age they are!

Fashion designer Nina Spain’s greatest source of inspiration is her grandmother Luella Gagum because she was a courageous woman who was fearless, outspoken, independent, a business owner and a fashionista.

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Nina Spain (left)

She adds:

One of the challenges I faced in the plus size industry, was the increased competition amongst designers in the industry. I was so worried about the competition to the point where I was questioning my sketches and the name of my clothing line. Then I remembered when my grandmother opened her nightclub and someone asked her, why would she invest her money into a nightclub when there are popular clubs with a dedicated customer base and more than likely are not going anywhere?

I remember my grandmother telling the person that everyone offers something different to their business; people like to have a good time and maybe they want to a new place to hang out. I remember her saying, ‘I don’t have time to worry about what other people are doing. If people want to come here, they will come. I’m aware of the night clubs in Paterson but they will not prevent me from running my business.’

Her business was slow at first but eventually it picked up and became a hot spot in the city of Paterson. They even filmed The Hurricane Carter movie at her location and she met Denzel Washington while they were using her club for filming. My grandmother has taught me not to fear competition and it doesn’t faze me when I see other designer’s clothes or what other people do with their brand. I am focused on my business and how I can make my customer feel good when she wears my designs. Even if things start off slow in the beginning, I believe everything will work out just fine and what happens, will happen in due time.

I, too, am very inspired by certain family members who lived remarkable lives that deeply contributed to the woman I am today.

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Designer Hannah Olson of Hannah Caroline Couture is inspired both by beautiful textiles and by her younger self, because she was heavily bullied.

She shares:

I was bullied a lot as a young teenager and I want to show how far I have come from that. I also want to show other young women, especially those who are bullied, that things get better and that they can do amazing things with their lives because there is way more to them than what bullies say about them. In fact, I recently gave a TEDx talk about how bullying can help young people become stronger and realize their full potential.

Like Hannah, I was bullied too. You might have been too! How we deal with that experience is what will change your life forever. You can’t let disapproval or bullying stand in the way of your dreams. There is no excuse for any of us to live a life of prosperity, joy, and happiness!

Lisa Quinn is inspired by her smARTphone, because it made her realize that she was an artist.

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Lisa Quinn

She told us:

‘I am not a real artist. I am not a real artist. I am not a real artist.’

At least, that’s what I used to tell myself. I haven’t published enough, haven’t been in enough galleries, haven’t got the technical skill or the academic training, wouldn’t know Matisse from Monet. I call my ‘real artist’ friends and say, ‘What exactly is a found object? Do you see the face in this sculpture? Is this poem terrible? Does this essay make sense? Is this story boring? What do you think…’ as if I can’t trust myself. As if real artists always have total confidence. As if the reason I don’t is that I’m not a real artist. For years and years, I told myself I wasn’t a real artist…

A phone with a camera. A phone with the Internet. A phone that could take a picture, edit it, and share it with everyone you know in just a few moments. Suddenly I was a real artist, really making real art and showing it to real people.

Lisa’s story is so incredible for so many reasons! How many of us tell ourselves over and over again that we “can’t” do something or what we want is “not” possible? If you have been, you have essentially been blocking your blessings and standing in the way of what you want. I encourage to recognize it so you can begin the journey of seeing yourself as powerful and capable of what you can do in life.

Carmen Powell is inspired by knowing that she can still feel and look pretty.

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Carmen Powell (left)

She sayss:

My inspiration helped me one day when my son said to me, “Mom, you don’t see what I see and I wish you did.” It wasn’t until I was 40, that I thought I was beautiful. I had just gone through a terrible divorce and feeling completely rejected, unwanted and un-pretty. I never was ‘this size’ and my size needed to be accepted as a part of my new life now. I had to learn to love myself and be able to accept me for who I was, now. Face it, I wasn’t 16 anymore, I wasn’t married, I am now a curvy single women who didn’t like anything about that. I went through diet after diet and nothing… yes I would lose the weight, but it always made its way back… finally my son said, ‘MOM!!!!! You’re beautiful… STOP IT!!!!’

Here I am thinking no one will love me. Everyone wants someone younger, thinner… but then I realized, no one will want you with that attitude. I began to just be the healthiest me, and roll with it! Now I know that I am not alone and I am beautiful inside and out and it’s not my size that defines me. I feel confident and very humble all at the same time. My inspiration are my sons and beautiful daughter who have supported me this whole way. You have to feel pretty inside for it to show on the outside!

Who hasn’t struggled with what Carmen honestly shared? Ladies, at what point will we learn to love who we are and appreciate our bodies? There are several instances in the world where you will not be liked or appreciated. The least we can do is stop bullying ourselves!

Kelsey Rose Weber is also inspired by her mother:

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Kelsey Rose Weber and her mom

She explains:

One thing many people don’t want to talk about is addiction — however, it is my mother’s recovery that makes her such a badass woman!

Before I start my mother’s story, I want to preface it with this: addiction can affect anybody. It doesn’t recognize skin color, economic class, or any other signifiers. My mother is like Betty Crocker. Any event she goes to, she has fresh baked cookies. When people visit her, she is in hosting mode. She is probably one of the most selfless people I know around; so this story is a bit out of place but changed our lives for the better.

My mother’s drinking tail-spinned out of control when I was a freshman in high school. She ended up with 4 DUI’s and in the state of California, that means you are sentenced to 16 months in prison. She spent 3 months in maximum security and then completed her sentence in rehabilitation centers in Los Angeles. Following this experience, my mother did not let it define her but rather used it to help change other people’s lives. She noticed how young people in recovery were and saw that most of this drinking behavior began on college campuses.

Alongside her best friend (who is also sober), my mother founded The Haven, a recovery center located on college campuses for students struggling with drug/alcohol abuse. It provides a sober community of support for students so they don’t feel alone as they enter sobriety. Each Haven is tailored to the school it is at — for example: at USC, they do sober tailgates before games so that even though they aren’t drinking, students still feel apart of the game day rituals for the Trojans. There are currently Havens at: USC, UCSC, Drexel University, USF, University of Redlands and there are plans to open 5 more at large universities in the next year.

Most people don’t want to talk about addiction but we should be talking about recovery. My mother’s recovery has led to people having access to recovery and this is what inspires me about her. Instead of letting her rock-bottom experience define her, she turned it around and started a revolution. I think my mother is the most amazing woman I know and I am inspired each and every day to push myself to chase my dreams.

Fashion Designer Kay Dupree is inspired by her thirteen year old daughter.

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Kay Dupree

She says:

Throughout the years, she has taught me to never give up no matter what. My daughter Brianna is a professional ballet dancer. She’s been training for over 5 years to receive her pointe shoes. There are so many moments when she could’ve given up or missed classes because of a birthday party, hanging out with friends or simply being tired.

This March, she received her pointe shoes and it was so amazing to see the sheer happiness on her face. She had so many emotions all at once. In that moment I realized how much she has inspired me. I want to make her proud of me. I want her to see all my struggles and know the she can do anything she desires. Because I have made my dreams comes true no matter what is in my way.

Whenever I have doubts and I’m unsure what my next move will be, I just have to think of my daughter and how she has inspired me to be the best person I can be. Even at such a young age, I see the desire, passion and determination in her. She has taught me to never give up on my dreams and to be the best fashion designer I know how to be.

The fearless Renee Jones is inspired by her two sons.

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Renee Jones with her kids

She says:

I want to try and lead an active healthy lifestyle for them, not only to be around in the long run but to also make them proud and for them to be able to say, ‘Ya my mom… she did that and she rocked it!’ My big obstacle has always been my weight, which goes up and down all the time and it has gotten even worse since I had thyroid surgery. My other problem is that I hate working out but I love sports. So since my boys started playing hockey at a very young age, I decided 3 years ago (at the age of 36) that I was going to start playing too! First step was to learn how to skate and although it wasn’t pretty at first, after lessons and some awesome hockey coaches, I’ve come a long way. Needless to say, three years later, I’m the starting goaltender for my women’s team, the Yo’ Mamas. We are a team made up of various ages and skill levels but with one main goal: to go out there, have fun and be active. My boys love that I play and love bragging to their friends that their mom is a goalie! I love it! My relationship with my boys has only gotten stronger and the relationships I’ve made with my teammates are ones that I will have forever! Hockey is so amazing for not only your physical health but your mental as well and as Canadian as this sounds, hockey truly is the best sport out there!

Lastly, Sherrie Shelton is inspired by women!

Sherrie Shelton

She says:

I have grown up with strong women in my life who have overcome a lot of hardship. I’ve been through abuse, an eating disorder, low self-esteem, body image issues, and mental health issues. By watching these women in my life and around the world get through the tough times, I obtained the courage to seek therapy, continue to affirm the wonderful person I am, and recently undergo weight loss surgery to continue my journey into a healthy and happy lifestyle.

After reading the stories of these amazing Plus Model Magazine Readers, I am inspired by their honesty, bravery, and openness. We are all moved by different things for different reasons. What’s important is to use your motivation to ensure you are living the life you want.

So how will your use your source of inspiration to achieve a goal?

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