Self-Discovery is the prime action word for “finding purpose”. In order to define and know your purpose, you first have to know who you are. Many, especially many people of color, struggle to define who they are. Whether you are in your teens or well into adulthood, the journey to self-discovery is a mission.
I recently interviewed mindset coach, AJ Adisa. AJ helps people awaken within themselves by tapping into self-discovery. Check out the interview below:
Can you tell myself and the readers about yourself?
I have been alive a long time–I feel like there is so much I could say! A brief snippet is that I was married for 11 years, a union which resulted in two daughters. After the marriage, I was able to really seek out and develop my own identity as a woman and as an individual. I began to study metaphysics and that is when my life and my perspectives about it really began to change. I started to look at this lifetime as part of my spirit’s evolutionary process. I view my physical being as the universe expressing in human form; somewhat as a mode of transport to experience things on this planet.
I really enjoy living. I find joy in small things like seeing people begin to smile while reading, watching people dance with each other, smelling a newborn baby’s breath…life brings me happiness. And, for better or worse, I really do like people.
Growing up and still to this day who inspires you? How did they impact your life?
I actually have something that is similar to a vision board hanging by my bed. It is a compilation of images of people who are on what I call “My Counsel.” These are people–some living, others not–who I admire and would love to be able to ask for advice. I have a large version of this image by my bed and a smaller one in my car.
Two constant people–ones who I have admired since I first head of them in elementary school–are Sojourner Truth and Maya Angelou. Other people on my counsel are Oprah, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jim Carrey, Frida Kahlo, Cardi B, Colin McGregor, Malcolm X and others. I also include images of myself as a child and an adult on my Counsel image to honor the divine wisdom I possess within myself; as a reminder that I have within me all the answers I seek.
When did you realize you had a passion for modeling?
My “passion” was somewhat born out of necessity. I was 33 when I started modeling, which is all but ancient in the industry but because I was working with amateur photographers for the most part–those who needed people willing to help them perfect their craft–modeling paid well for me. At that point in my life, I was recently divorced and before modeling, I was on food stamps and donating plasma as a means to get extra money for my children and myself.
After a few months, I really began to enjoy the creative process of modeling and began to view it as a form of expression.
How did you first break into the modeling industry?
When I was in college, I took an art class. We regularly had figure models who posed nude for the class. One day, we had a woman who was well into her sixties. When she dropped her robe and stood before us, she was so powerful in her nakedness. She was beautiful. I said to myself, “I want to be her when I grow up”…not necessarily that I wanted to be a nude model, but I wanted to embody her power and beauty.
Fast forward fifteen years and, like I said above, I had been donating plasma (it’s so hard to imagine that that was my reality!); I was always looking for other options to make extra money. Somehow a friend and I were talking about college art class and I mentioned wanting to be a figure model when I was 60. He challenged me to not wait. I began looking at opportunities to model and within a few weeks, I started posing for art classes and photographers. I paid more than the plasma centers and it ended up opening so many doors for me!
You’ve become an entrepreneur writing a book Almost Evolved: 100 Insights on Being Human. Can you tell us a little about the book?
Almost Evolved: 100 Insights on Being Human is a daily affirmation-type of book. I discuss topics that we encounter during our human experience: anger, loneliness, faith, dysfunctional relationships, judging, stress, rejection, abundance, etc. There are 100 topics and it is designed for the reader to read one topic per day.
Each day begins with a quote. The bulk of the reading expands on the quote either through a real life example from my experience or by using an analogy. At the end of the passage, I offer an affirmation, activity, or question for the reader. In the introduction to the book, I advise the reader to take it at his or her pace–make the book work for their life.
How did the idea of writing a book come to you?
When I started my first Instagram page to promote my modeling and book more shoots, I couldn’t help but to include very long captions coupled with mostly naked images of myself. People really enjoyed my words and I would often hear, “Yeah I like your pictures but your words are what really move me!” Over the years, I have had several people from my audience ask me to write a book. I was asked to speak at a women’s empowerment event earlier this year and in my bio for the event I put that I had written a book. It was the best motivation I could have had to get it completed!
In one of your recent social media posts, you spoke about people being too obsessed with money and material things while losing touch with people, relationships, and goodness. What did you mean by that?
I write about so many things, I cannot recall this particular post but I can explain, nonetheless. At the end of this lifetime, we will all end up in pretty much the same sized box or be burned at the same temperature–having money or material possessions cannot change our inevitable fate as humans. Bob Marley said it best: “Money can’t buy life.” The way our society has been structured, most people determine one’s self-worth based on their net-worth. It is just so unfortunate. What is sitting in someone’s bank account has nothing to do with the energy within their soul. We can miss out on so many enchanting moments with our family and friends or potential friends or lovers because we are so focused on money–something that was man-made and not of any actual value.
You are also a vegan, how did your decision to join the lifestyle and journey come to fruition?
I went vegetarian when I was nine-years-old because I asked my mother where chicken nuggets come from and she told me the truth. I felt bad for the animals and decided I couldn’t eat them anymore. From ages nine to 12, I was strictly vegetarian. But then I entered 7th grade and didn’t like feeling like the “weirdo” always bringing a bagged lunch to school (there weren’t many vegetarian options back in 1994) so I began eating meat again until I was 15 and realized I didn’t care if people thought I was weird. I went vegan when I turned 30 and saw an amazing youthful 72-year-old raw vegan woman. I say I went “vegetarian for the animals and vegan for vanity”! I stay vegan, though, because I know it is better for my health, animals, and our planet.
What are some of the major changes your body went through becoming a vegan?
Initially I lost 10 pounds right away when I went vegan, which was definitely not my goal! When I figured out how to gain the weight back, I have had an easy job maintaining my desired weight/body shape. I also noticed the following: clearer skin, reduced bloating, more energy, and healthier hair.
In addition to the changes on a physical level, I noticed changes spiritually and psychology. I believe in something called “food energetics,” which basically states that food, like everything else, holds energy. Meat carries with it the energy that the animal had before death–fear, sadness, stress, loneliness, anger, etc (everything that you would feel if you were being imprisoned and physically hurt). A lot of people may not agree with this but if you think about it, it has become widely accepted that stress has a detrimental effect on the human body. Could this not be the case for non-human beings; wouldn’t stress have a detrimental effect on animals’ bodies (and the meat that comes from them)?
Being vegan has helped me to be more calm, open-minded, carefree, and connected to other people, myself, and the world at large.
What are your views on human sexuality against those deemed acceptable by society?
I feel that human sexuality is totally natural and should not be a source of guilt or shame for anyone. Sex is quite literally how our species survives! It is backwards to me that so many people are embarrassed about their sexual desires. Even if their desires are homosexual in nature (interactions that do not add to our species’ survival), it is all well from my perspective. Homosexual tendencies show up in the animal kingdom so it’s to be expected that homosexuality would be a human tendency–we are, after all, animals.
How do you balance it all while being a dedicated mother of two children?
I don’t know that I do! I do what I can but, at the end of the day, I make sure that each day includes laughter and fun for my children and myself. I am sure that with more focus and dedication, I would be further financially and business-wise. I do intend to somewhat “buckle down” and put a greater amount of energy into scaling up with my brand/business but if I were to maintain at the level I am now, this life could end and I would be pleased with the people that I have reached. I enjoy the variety that I have in my life. I think that the key is to let your feelings and intuition be your guide while remembering that tomorrow is never promised. What is worth giving your life to? Give your time and energy to that!
What great words of wisdom and advice can you offer our readers?
Wow, no pressure! I will say what I say at the end of all my Instagram posts: Stay curious and keep exploring! Your soul came here for a purpose. If you are not sure what that is, do not fret! As long as you remain open and curious about yourself and your life and are not afraid to explore your curiosities, you will stumble onto it one way or another!