The C Factor :: Desirae

Oh this girl, this girl, this girl, this girl.  Everybody in their life should have a friend this good. Everybody in their life needs a friend who shows up the way Desirae does. I am beyond proud to feature her in today’s C series because she truly is the most amazing person I know. For those of you who don’t know, “The C Factor” is a series here on the blog that highlights successful, confident, motivated women.  The example that she’s set for me as a friend (and just plain human being) is one that I will forever be grateful for and I don’t take for granted.  I am the left puzzle piece and she is my right.  She’s my person.

So minus the gushy gushy stuff, I hope that your read today’s interview and realize how and where you can make your life better.  It’s not a competition but a challenge on how much pride you can take in your own life.  Where can you reach?  How can you better prioritize your time?  Take a few lessons from the girl who does it on the daily, the busiest person I know…This girl keeps her schedule packed but it’s all for a good cause, all to make a positive dent in this world.  She spends her days teaching 3rd grade (only the bravest survive) and her nights leading bible study.  On the weekends she serves as an usher at her church and also volunteers for “RECESS” a respite care program for kiddos & families there as well.  She’s also involved in robotics and cooking programs at her school and in her “free time” she nannies, runs 8 miles a day and writes for her own blog at Rookie Rieke.  Be sure to check out her blog where she writes about life in Dallas, adventures in bargain shopping and “that single life.”


What is the best compliment someone ever gave me?
The best compliments that I’ve ever been given have come from my students.  I spend my life praying that they will learn, grow, and most of all know that they’re loved.  It’s hard to pick one compliment, because young children are so full of them!  I adore their pure hearts and their ability to see beauty in the most simple of things.  But a moment happened the other day when one of my kids was telling me how she she would miss me over Spring Break.  I asked her why and she simply said “because I’ll miss your hugs and your smile.”  That melted my heart because she complimented my character and the way I love her.  She let me know that she feels it and believes it. For me, nothing says “job well done” more than that!
What are two words that I would use to describe myself?
Determined and compassionate.  There have been many moments in my life that that have tested my faith and endurance, but I’ve been determined to overcome.  I don’t believe in taking the easy way out, and I don’t believe in giving in.  I believe that if you want something you have to work for it!  I’m also very compassionate.  I believe the Lord gave me a heart that yearns to understand, comfort, and love other people.  I find the most joyful moments come when I can be of some resource to others.
One good deed that I have done for someone?
It’s difficult for me to answer this question because I feel like good deeds go both ways.  When you do something for someone else, more times than not, it actually ends up blessing you, too.  One exchange in particular stands out to me and that is when I had the opportunity to donate bone marrow.  I entered the Be The Match bone marrow registry in 2011 and in 2012 I was notified that I was a match for a woman in Montana.  That year was a particularly dark time in my life, and being notified that someone needed ME was nothing short of a God thing.  I went through the process, donated my marrow via the PBSC method (much like giving blood), and waited.  Over a year later, I got the call from my recipient.  She, Kristi, was alive and well!  That phone call changed my life.  She thanked me for saving her life, but the funny thing is that she saved mine, too.  I love our story because it reminds me of how each of us is here for a specific purpose!
One thing that most people don’t know about me…
One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I didn’t have braces until I was 27 years old.  I grew up in a very humble home where we had all we needed and not much more. Growing up in such a way is something I would never change.  The best parts of me were shaped by parents who did all they could with what they had.  That being said, as a child I never had the opportunity to have braces.  I LOVE laughing and smiling, but growing up I often covered my mouth in embarrassment.  While some friends would complain about their wires being uncomfortable, I secretly prayed I could experience such discomfort!  Finally, for my 27th birthday, I bought myself Invisalign.  It may seem silly, but finally having straight teeth has been one of the biggest confidence boosters ever!
How do you handle a hard day/day at work?
After 30 years of life, I feel that I’ve finally figured out the best recipe for hard days.  First, you  have to be okay with the fact that they’re going to happen!  I have found it imperative to arm myself every morning for whatever is ahead.  I start the day in the Word, reminding myself of God’s promises. And yes, He promises that things won’t always be easy! He says that in this life, we WILL have trouble (John 16:33), but in the VERY next breath He tells us to “take heart” for He has overcome the world. How sweet is that?  A warning and a reminder!  Next, I get ready for work by listening to Kari Jobe Pandora. These two things start my day with an armor of strength and peace.  Then, if the day unfolds with difficult situations, I pray, I text my best friend, and I remember that I’m here for God’s work.  Being a teacher, that “keep-my-sanity” cycle sometimes happens HUNDREDS of times throughout the day!  But knowing yourself and what to do is half the battle.  Then to end any day, especially difficult ones, I like to either go on a long run or go to my cardio kickboxing class. There is something very empowering about being active and just sweating it all away!
What is your greatest strength?
My greatest strength is my ability to see the positive in situations.  Finding the silver lining is pretty automatic for me, thankfully.  There have been moments in my life that felt almost impossible to find the good in, but I’ve learned that you see what you look for.  We all have the choice of how to view life. Choosing to look through the positive lens is a lot more fun.  Trust me! 🙂
How do you handle criticism?
Criticism has always been a double-edged sword for me.  I love learning and growing, but I am also a perfectionist and always want to do things right the first time!  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned how to embrace it with grace and gratitude.  Watching how my students respond to criticism has also helped me in the sense that they trust the source (me), they listen to me, and then they try again.  It’s been huge for me to listen to only trusted sources of criticism because, quite frankly, someone is always going to have something less-than-peachy to say.  Some people just lurk and judge, and others are truly trying to help make you better.  I’ve realized it’s up to me whom I listen to! 🙂
Do you do anything to build self-confidence?

I do many things to build self-confidence!  I love that this is one thing no one else can do for me.  I start from the inside and work my way out.  As mentioned above, I strongly believe in reminding myself of Truth as often as I can.  I also take my physical health very seriously.  I haven’t always known health, and now that I do, I see it as a gift that I don’t want to take for granted! I eat things (for the most part) that I’d want my daughter to eat, and I take every opportunity to workout.  But if for some reason I’m feeling less confident, I always do a soul-check, because nine times out of ten, the problem starts there.  If I’m confident in my walk with the Lord, everything else falls into place.

What does it take for you to perform at your best?

Coffee.  Is that an okay answer?!  Haha.  No, but really I feel the best when I get good sleep (8 hours), have a warm cup of coffee during quiet time, and fuel my body well.  I truly believe that when your mind, body, and spirit are well feed, you can do anything you set your mind to!

You can follow Desirae on Instagram here, and her blog on here! 


The C Factor :: Samantha

So here’s the deal…

I am over all of the negativity that is going on in today’s world. I am over women not having confidence in themselves and not believing they can have what they really want in life. I am over women not lifting each other up, and people not sticking up for the underdog. I am over people feeling weak and insecure and alone. There’s just not enough love in this world right now and it needs to change.

So I’m going to change it.

Today is the first post of a new series called “The C Factor.”  The C stands for confidence but it also stands for courage.  This series is about women who rise above. They are determined, ambitious, and they know the importance of paying it forward.  The series will feature an interview with 9 questions and I am excited to “compare notes” from each talented & successful woman.  There is a recipe for success and I truly believe that it takes a village to raise each other up.

So let’s get started!

When I first decided to do this blog series, I immediately thought of my friend Samantha. You know what’s funny? I’ve only met Samantha once and it was over 2 years ago.  But we became friends on social media and since then her encouraging posts always leave a lasting impression on me. Crazy. Think about that ripple affect for a second…

I met Samantha when I did makeup for her for at a Miss Teen USA photo shoot.  She was the current Miss Missouri Teen and since then she’s gone on to become a TV host and model, all while attending Missouri University.  When I emailed her and asked her if she was interested, she was super excited with the idea and she was kind enough to send it back ASAP.

And then I read her answers.  And I was like, Oh-Em-Gee. 

I knocked it out of the park with this girl.  She is more than beauty and brains.  She has a giant heart and she shares her faith.  She’s currently seeking her personal training certification while she writes and shares recipes and workouts for her own blog,

She helped pass a House Bill last spring and she currently majors in Atmospheric Sciences at Mizzou.  What?? You mean you can do all of this? Let’s remember Samantha isn’t even the legal drinking age yet…

Take notes, girls. 

1.) What is the best compliment someone ever gave you and why?

It truly means the world to me when people make an effort to reach out to me to tell me I have inspired them in some way. Whether it be through social media, my blog, or face to face, I really do try to leave a lasting impression on the lives of others every day. The best compliments I receive are when people tell me that I have inspired them to live a healthier lifestyle, or to pursue a goal they have been wanting to start working towards for quite some time, or that they feel more confident in themselves and their abilities because of my influence. It makes me feel like I truly am making a difference.

2.) What is one good deed that you have done for someone else?

Well, I have a passion for encouraging others to be the best that they can be. Healthy relationships with yourself AND with others are the foundations of a healthy lifestyle as a whole. One thing that I am very proud of that I feel has made significant strides in promoting overall health and wellness among our youth is the passing of House Bill 2481, which designates the month of February as “Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month” in Missouri. I was able to work closely with House Representative Donna Pfautsch to create this bill and take it all the way to the governor’s desk, where it was signed in to law this past spring. This is a great way to shine a light on this topic that is often left in the dark and promote happier, healthier relationships across our state.


3.) What is one thing most people don’t know about you or would be surprised to know about you?

A lot of people wouldn’t guess that I grew up playing competitive sports my entire life. When people find out I compete in pageants, I think their automatic reaction is to picture a “Toddlers in Tiaras” type situation. When in reality, I spent my childhood in basketball shoes instead of high heels! I’m so thankful for the experiences I had with my sports teams growing up, because it truly taught me that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible. I really feel like sports have made me the person I am today.

4.) How do you handle a hard day at work/school? 

Well, I just transferred to the University of Missouri this year, where I am majoring in Atmospheric Sciences. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes my physics homework can get a little stressful! I am a huge proponent of using exercise to relieve stress. Whenever I have had a long day, I love to go on a run and just let my mind take a break. I absolutely LOVE hot yoga, too. It’s a great way to improve flexibility, focus on bettering yourself, and get in a REALLY good sweat session! 


5.) What is your greatest strength?

I would say my greatest strength is my work ethic. I take a lot of pride in the amount of effort I put in to my goals and aspirations. Each and every day I try to take steps in the right direction and keep my mind focused on what I want to achieve. Some days are better than others, and I know it’s important to remember that everyone has set backs, twists, and turns along the way. But I truly believe that it is precisely those challenges and that adversity that is shaping me into the person I am meant to become. 

6.) How do you handle criticism? 

I love criticism. I think there are two ways we can choose to look at criticism: one way is to view it as something meant to harm us, keep us down, and affect us negatively. The other way is to view criticism as fuel and motivation to improve yourself. I choose to see criticism not as a put down, but rather as a little push. I can either choose to listen to that “little push” and work on improving myself, or I can filter it out and let it go in one ear and out the other if I don’t feel the criticism was constructive or genuine. It’s all about knowing yourself, your weaknesses, and what your goals are for self improvement. Sometimes a little criticism is a good thing!


7.) Do you do anything to build your self-esteem or boost your self-confidence?

Absolutely! I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving yourself a pat on the back occasionally. In fact, I think it’s so important that you give yourself a little credit when you achieve a goal or succeed at something you’re passionate about. For me, I get my confidence from my faith. I am a huge fan of Joel Osteen books, and every night before I go to bed I read a devotional passage to remind myself that my strength comes from the Lord, and ultimately He is guiding my path.

8.) How do you encourage other women? Do you feel an obligation to do so because of so much negativity in the world today? 

I think all women have an obligation to encourage each other! We as women need to be uplifting and empowering towards one another every opportunity we get. I try to reach as many young women as I can through social media, my blog, and day to day life. Sometimes, doing something as simple as giving a nice compliment can turn someone’s entire day around. I think pageants are an excellent example of how women can encourage and empower one another. A common misconception is that the contestants are competing AGAINST each other. When in reality, we are only competing against ourselves. The women I have met through pageantry are some of the most empowering, strong, and genuine women I know I will ever meet in my life. I think the way we portray confidence in the media today tells young women that in order to be confident you have to have the latest clothes, have the best body, have perfect makeup and hair all the time – when in reality, confidence comes from within. You can have all of those things, and still not feel true confidence. TRUE confidence comes from accepting your flaws and imperfections, having a genuine heart of service, and striving to leave a lasting impression on the lives of others each and every day. 


You can visit Samantha’s blog here and you can follow her on Instagram here. (@samanthabowers_)

And you can pin and copy her delicious recipe for 60-calorie chocolate glazed donuts here.

Because donuts are important too.