Repurposed

Repurposed- Boldy Go.JPG

There are a few kinds of Pastor’s kids, I was the stereotypical “rebellious” one. 
I pushed every boundary set in front of me. I often think of my younger self and cringe at some of the illegal choices I made or dangerous situations I put myself in. Honestly, It gives me anxiety thinking about most of it. 

You could say that I was an extremist, a thrill seeker, an addictive personality. I’m not proud of everything I’ve done, I’ve been the mean girl, been the cheater, been the abuser, and many a time been the ring leader with bad motives and just plain “up to no good”. 

I always thought there was only one type of way to be a “Christian Woman”- and that was to be MEEK & QUIET. 

Two things that are not in my genetic makeup. 

I hit a turning point and felt like I *woke up* at 25 and was a new person with no direction. Like, “Who I am today, is not who I was yesterday, but who am I supposed to be?” Have you ever felt like that? 

Right before being diagnosed with infertility, I had been praying for unshakeable patience. (Naturally, one YEARNS for patience after months of not getting those two coveted pink lines.) 

After a short wait, a sweet couple CHOSE us & PLACED the life of their precious Baby into our once empty arms. We adopted our incredible Finley. 

I thanked God over and over again. 
Little did I know that He was still working on that answer to my prayer regarding said patience. 

Our daughter was born prematurely and suffered a brain injury. We were told she could either: 
1. Develop Typically
2. Never walk or talk
...and only TIME would tell. 

*insert unshakeable patience*

During the 15 lonely & terrifying months leading up to our Daughter’s diagnosis, I was depressed. I remember amidst the unknown, I prayed for God to USE our story to help others. I thought if God uses it, it would surely make it easier. (I was so wrong!). This was supposed to be the happiest time in my life - yet my spirit was at an all time low. I didn’t know it then but I was being repurposed. All the “horrible traits” I had possessed were able to focus on a positive energy. I was still the SAME crazy girl, just given a new direction.

Being repurposed isn’t taking something old and making it new. It’s taking something that exists for a reason & refocusing the direction in which it’s meant to be. 

Advocates HAVE to be thick-skinned “Ring Leaders”, you have to possess a level of hustle that is firmly planted in your being. You have to be devoted to it like it’s your addiction! 

My transition to becoming the person God intends me has been tough and Lord knows I’ve got a ways to go 🙌🏼. If I try to picture it, it probably looked a lot like the scene where Ursula steals & transforms Ariel’s legs. I just picture a cloud of smoke and confusion around me... through all the pain, tears, and challenges He granted me grace. 😭

It’s by the grace of God that I am where I am today. I know they say hindsight is 20/20, but man when you’re going through it - it’s HARD.

My story is far from over, and so is yours. I BELIEVE that God will provide you the wishes of your heart- you just have to be willing to TRUST Him. 

Did I know that all the horrible decisions I’ve made wouldn’t always define me? I hoped not.

Did I know that infertility and raising a child with special need would armor me with unshakeable patience?! HECK to the NO. 

Did I know that starting a blog would lead to becoming one of the biggest Advocates in the Cerebral Palsy Community? That’d be a big fat NO.

Did I know that ALL OF THAT would be the Vessel in which God would use me? No. 

I do not feel worthy. I am flawed. I am extremely far from what you’d picture a Godly woman to be. 

I got to sit on a Panel of Christian Influencers last week, which doesn’t even make sense. How did that happen? I was blown away to learn that all of them were constantly being repurposed in their lives and this is something that will be ever changing. 

On the Panel:

  • Savanna Labrant- Youtube Family
  • Yvette Henry- Youtube Family
  • Heather Avis- Advocate + Author "The Lucky Few"
  • Hanna Slyfox- Youtube Family

The emails I receive on a daily basis saying that our story has helped someone is EVERYTHING to me.  It never hit me that this was GOD's purpose.  I guess when you're in the middle of a battle you never stop to think, is this my purpose- you merely keep on fighting. 

repurposed.jpg

It hit me when I saw this picture.  God is using me. 😭

I write often about PAIN having a purpose, but never imagined having a purpose like this for myself.  Matter of fact if you would have told me this was going to be my life, I would’ve been petrified (and nothing scared me back then, lol I was as fearless as I was ignorant.) 

•••

Perhaps you feel like you don’t have a purpose? 
You, my friend- can absolutely be Repurposed today. 

You don’t need to change anything about yourself- you are EXACTLY the way God intended you to be. Please don’t think you need to be like ANYONE ELSE!

God created a YOU for a reason, and you merely need a change of direction. 
It won’t be easy, but boy will it be worth it. 

💚

Adoption Update: Managing your Disappointments

IMG_1746.JPG

Not a day goes by that I don't get asked about our Adoption.  

"Hows the Adoption going?"

"When do you get your little boy?"

"When does Finley officially become a big sister?"

While I would LOVE to have an answer, and I LOVE that people feel open to asking me about the Journey....I simply don't know and it's slightly more painful than I anticipated. 

Here is my Video Update on the matter. I posted it on FB LIVE last week.

I understand that God has a PLAN.  When I ash Him, "Why?" it doesn't mean I'm looking for an answer- it's more of an emotion I'm experiencing. If that even makes sense. 

As always, thank you for the love and the support. 

Finding Work-Mom Balance as a Celebrity Stylist & Special Needs Mom

Hi there. I'm Christina Smallwood.

This is my story and all the nitty-gritty details.

Christina Bermuda 2018

FROM STYLIST, TO SPECIAL NEEDS MAMA, TO BALANCING A NEW CAREER, AND ADOPTION NEWS.....

I rarely share about my work-life on Fifi + Mo, but after my most recent experience I thought it was time to throw it out into the interwebs.  About 10 months ago I found myself facing a new phase of life.  In my early 30's, happily married, so blessed to be the mother to the sweetest little girl, a Hairstylist... throw blogging + advocating into that mix and I can assure you, with the full plate I had, I was not ready for a "New Chapter".  

Nevertheless, it arrived. 

I grew up the daughter of a Pastor, but not just ANY Pastor... My dad was an extremist.  He could throw baseballs hard, so he grew up and became one of the youngest rookies drafted to the MLB in 1975.  He pitched for the Reds, Twins, and Rangers. He could eat a lot, so he went ahead and held the record at the BIG TEXAN for eating a 72 ounce steak meal in under 12 minutes, then went back and broke his own record - 9 minutes.  It is like the size of a telephone book, lol. He went from a raging atheist, found God, and then DOVE head first into seminary.  He was a 30 year old freshman and achieved a PHD in Philosophy & World History. A lot of my childhood was spent in different churches where I would help my dad set up tables with his cards while he would speak and share his testimony.  He went on to win National Awards for having the best Christian Radio Show. 

He was a superstar.  Everything he touched turned to GOLD.  

After graduating high school I felt the pressure to go to college.  My older brother was in Dental School at UCLA and had a 4.0 GPA - then there was me, they often referred to me as their "social butterfly" LOL.  I remember nervously telling my Dad, "I kinda just wanna do hair- but I want you to be proud of me."  He said, "You enjoy doing hair, so do it, and make it a career! The key to life is to figure out what makes you happy and then finding a way to get paid for it!' 

So that was my mission.

I Graduated beauty school and wanted to explore all aspects of the HAIR world.  Trying to find my niche. I worked very hard to have a successful business, 40+ hours a week behind the chair and grew to be number one hairstylist on yelp in Orange County (Hey! in 2009 that was a big freaking deal!).  My girlfriend and I started a successful Beauty Business geared towards weddings, Privé Beauty Group which currently has grown to a team of 17 and services over 180 weddings a year.  I found that I was drawn to teaching, I educated for one of the best haircare lines I had ever known and it was amazing.  I basically was eating, breathing, sleeping: HAIR.   

All to have that come to a screeching hault.

(Dramatic, I know. lol.)

10647241_10205149655599742_6537632637612232199_n.jpg

WAITING... WAITING... WAITING...

I started dating Josh in 2009, we met through mutual friends via MYSPACE. We fell in love, got married, and bought our first home.  We were on your typical track of "what life should look like," but when Josh and I decided we were ready for baby, we hit a wall after TRYING for 15 months. And I mean trying: diets, schedules, charting, temping, tracking, supplements, massage, acupuncture, and I even gave up baths... People told me "not to stress" but that just made me stress about my stress.  My father was killed in a HORRIFIC motorcycle accident amidst this time period. He and I were very close as he was always MY ROCK.  His death shattered my world and put extra stress on my body.  A few months after we buried him, we received news of Infertility.  

Talk about a sobering series of events. 

First round of fertility tests showed that I have LOW AMH levels, making it unlikely for us to conceive naturally and highly likelihood of miscarriages. This news was really hard, but we rallied and turned (almost immediately) to adoption.  I remember sobbing on the phone with my mom, "I am broken, the part that makes me a woman doesn't work."  I knew after grieving my dad that life was simply too short, and  I could NOT spend it feeling sorry for myself.  This was something we couldn't change. I told Josh, "I'm gonna give myself 24 hours to have a pity party and then we're going to move past this."

About two weeks later we were sitting in an attourney's office, starting the Domestic Adoption Process.

  We were matched pretty quickly and couldn't wait for our baby to be born in September! In between Doctor's appointments with our daughter's birth-mother (Lex), I worked worked worked. On a drive home from working a beautiful JULY wedding in SD, I received news that Lex was leaking fluids.  The entire drive to the hospital I was panicking over my clients and what was going to happen to them, my business was always on my mind.  Finley was born 9 WEEKS early and weighed a miraculous 3.9 pounds. She was the most precious thing I've ever laid my eyes on and meeting her was the greatest single moment of my life.  The moment I saw her in that little incubator I forgot about everything else, she was my world now.  We didn't know if she would potentially have a disability and the Doctor said, "She could be fine, or she could never walk or talk. Only time will tell." 

1001891_10201921721263401_625781685_n.jpg

I supressed my grief and kept telling myself that everything was going to be okay.

I took a long maternity leave to bond with my baby.  We began in-home therapies as soon as she was released from the hospital.  I did everything in my power to make our life FEEL NORMAL, even though deep down inside I knew it was going to be different.  I began to feel depressed.  HOW?!! This was supposed to be the happiest time of my life! 

The greatest day of our life was the day our adoption was finalized.

 Finley was officially diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy a few months after our Finalization.  To avoid full-blown depression, I started a "secret" Instagram account to feel a sense of normalcy.  It was my outlet and allowed me to interact with other moms in the same boat.  I met a few of my greatest friends this way. Since then, that little account has transformed into Finley's Beautiful Story of Dreaming Big and Overcoming Obstacles (+130k followers). Advocating is a total PASSION for me and it is so fun collaborating with brands and helping spread awareness for CP.  Which, btw is the most common motor disability in children - did you know that? 

When Finley came into this world, I went into immediate survival mode- completely letting the hairstylist in me die.  This is the story I'm writing about today.  It took me a long time to realize it's okay to be both: a Mom and a Career Woman.

15873198_10212543066030382_5039085804268538229_n.jpg

A year after Finley's diagnosis, my Mother-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 Brain Cancer. Her 3rd Cancer diagnosis in 6 years.  She passed away due to a stroke following brain surgery.  Watching my husband grieve the loss of HIS ROCK was devastating.  Finley was already missing out on one amazing Grandpa, now to lose an amazing Grandma- its just really very sad. We miss her every day.

  I wrote my first blog in the hospital on Christmas Day.  This was not our first holiday spent there.  I looked around at the waiting room and realized I was awfully comfortable in hospital waiting rooms.  After all, we had spent the last 3 years of our lives in hospitals, doctor's offices, and medical facilities. Sitting, waiting, hoping, in those cold and unwelcoming chairs.

14938204_10211896784433746_4631111446777589332_n.jpg

FINLEY'S MIRACLE

In October 2016, Finley underwent a MAJOR Spinal Surgery called the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, to permanently remove her spasticity.  We fundraised over $60k in a few weeks utilizing social media and a global movement called, "The Dare to Dance Challenge." The LA FIRE DEPT kicked off the Challenge with an incredible video and it spread like wildfire.  My sweet friend Britty Rose came up with the whole idea and even spear-headed the movement!  Her amazing husband got his whole crew of LAFD to kick off the Challenge in and amazing video.

Beyonce's Backup Dancers, ABC's The Bachelor: The Ferguson Twins, Perez Hilton, and THOUSANDS of amazing people posted videos DANCING for our sweet girl.  All so she could one day DANCE by herself.  She was bound to a walker, and had just been fitted for a wheelchair before her surgery. We are still BEYOND GRATEFUL to those that supported us during that trying time in our lives. We will NEVER forget you.

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP.

So basically, I never returned to Salon. Our life was way too demanding. I did some hair from home, but considered that something that hairstylists do toward the end of their career.  About a year ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with Tamra Judge, from the Real Housewives of Orange County for a shoot with my photographer friend, Christine Bentley.  Tamra asked me to style her hair for the following season of RHOC and I was in tears (Currently on my second season with her, its gonna be amazing- LOL).  The only words I can use to describe this is like, "Stella got her groove back y'all!!" VALIDATION, if you will. She is even sweet enough to allow me to bring Finley to work if I need to. She's a gem.

THEN IT HAPPENED....

About 10 months ago, I had a few friends/clients asking me about being invited to "Wine and Wash" parties.  I knew what they were referring to, pesky Direct Sales Haircare products.  Without any hesitation I told them they absolutely didn't need to waste their money, and there was no way these products did what they claimed to. I might have even posted to my clients on FB to beware of said products.  I am an accomplished, well-educated, professional hairdresser, I know BEST.  

WELL, TWO THINGS HAPPENED TO FLIP ME FROM SKEPTIC TO BELIEVER:

1. One of my best friends suffered from severe psoriasis.  Having done her hair for over 10 years, I'd seen her try EVERYTHING under the sun to heal her scalp: Topicals, Orals, Tars, Treatments, some steroids so harsh she couldnt even use them when she was pregnant.  She sat in my chair and I said, "Are you on a new medication? Your wounds are healed?!" She responded, "No.  I'm using that stuff you told us not to use."  I instantly felt so bad, I almost stopped her from trying something that ended her long battle with psoriasis.  Not only that, her bleached blonde hair was actually shinier and appeared to be healthier. I was definitely intrigued.  

2.  A few clients later, her mom came in.  She has a more dry, coarse hair type who definitely could use a Brazilian blowout a few times a year.  She took out her ponytail (the only way she was comfortable wearing her hair) and her hair felt like silk.  I said, "You got a Brazilian!"  She responded, "No. I just have been using Monat for 6 weeks."

I knew at this point I needed to get this stuff in my shower to try it for myself.  I had seen two completely different TRANSFORMATIONS, I wanted to see what happened to mine.  

 

20139902_10214765787957041_3881899828605636811_n.jpg

I fell in love on the THIRD wash.  The products are super concentrated and contain a different technology, so you've gotta follow the instructions exactly. I was in shock, a PLANT BASED product line that actually PERFORMS. I knew I was going to support my friends that were selling these products.  Seriously, I had ZERO free time to add anything else to my plate.  We're at weekly doctor's appointments, school, dance, 3 hours of therapy a week, client days behind the chair at home, weddings every weekend, fifiandmo keeps me VERY busy with emails and collaborations, and top it all off that I work on a reality TV SHOW.

I was stretched pretty thin. 

15220198_10212062571778326_851812016606077053_n.jpg

THE LIGHTBULB WENT OFF...

I went to a gathering with the local distributors to learn more about the products, during all the conversations I saw what this opportunity could potentially do for our family.  Josh and I were heavily debating adoption again, but there was just NO WAY with my already limited schedule.  Plus, I've already dabbled with some MLMs and made $500 bucks a month at max.   Being a Stylist, I've tried everything my clients were selling.  I've always been intrigued with the thought of "making a little extra money on the side."  Though I discovered, there's hardly ever true success with "pyramid schemes".  Everyone on this inside swears their company is different, and everyone on the outside swears they're all the same.  I watched my girlfriend's checks grow and grow, and knew there was something truly proprietary about this company.  I had only ever seen one girl at the top of ANY MLM company with her car and make the big bucks, and it was after a few years of her being the first one in the business.  I looked at our California team that is only 8 months in and close to a couple dozen girls are already driving their Company Cars! A lot of them were able to become SAHM's and quit their 9-5's. This was unusual.  It's surely  set apart. I decided to go for it and had another "STELLA" moment in my life.

December 2017- I was asked to share my journey for an audience of 40,000 LIVE... (not intimidating at all. LOL.)

To date, I have been able to spend more time with Finley and was SO BLESSED to be present when she took her FIRST STEPS in our Home.  I had waited over 3 years for that moment and I would have been devastated to miss it.  I have grown a TEAM of over 200 women that all just want the best for their families.  Josh and I have  spent more evenings together, and now we are able to GROW our family by Adopting again. We are adopting a SON, hopefully by the end of the year.  Finley cannot wait to be a big sister.   

 I spent my early 20's soaking up knowledge of the haircare industry, education, and training myself to have as much work ethic as I could artistically manage. I have spent the past few years passionately educating myself and ADVOCATING for Adoption, Cerebral Palsy, Inclusion, and dedicated hours of my day connecting people to resources that will help them.  Joining this company connected so many dots for me.  I'm getting to do ALL the things I love.  I have a team of women I get to encourage and help support- in turn I have completed the circle of my life-balance.  I am now a Director with the company and am a Cadillac Earner.  Having my car payment taken care of is a huge blessing to our family. I am not alone- there are close to a hundred (in less than 15 months) that are driving their cars and earning substantial checks for their families.  This is not the typical situation you see with direct sales. 

  • Our products are consumable
  • Our products are a necessity (EVERYONE washes their hair)
  • Our company is NEW (3 years)
  • We have no competition (we're propietary- no one has proven clinical studies like we do)
  • We pay 3-5% higher than other direct sales companies, with an attainable CAR-PROGRAM

Please tell me another company that checks all those marks. (We've got a special mix here.)

Josh and I experienced tragic, deep grief with losing our parents.  Then we faced infertility and became parents through adoption.  I overcame the darkness that could have consumed my life, which would be mourning all the "what could have been" scenarios if my child wasn't diagnosed wth a disability. I learned through all of the prayers and quotes that we are IN FACT in charge of our own happiness.  I am forever grateful I was introduced to this opportunity through friends.  I don't know if you're reading this and maybe living paycheck to paycheck, perhaps its been YEARS since your last vacation, maybe you have an illness/impairment that is prohibiting you from work.  What I do know is that Monat has been the answers for MANY that I know.  This company does so much good.  I really believe it's a "once-in-a-lifetime type of company.   

32807830_10217816088212641_6900790900138442752_n.jpg

Yesterday, we got back from our Bermuda trip.  PAID FOR by the company.  My husband couldn't believe we didn't have to put one thing on his credit card.  I am so grateful I got to take him and Finley (and myself) for this experience. I keep hearing my dad's voice in my head, hope he's proud of me.


"The key to life is to figure out what makes you happy and then finding a way to get paid for it." -Frank Pastore


I still LOVE doing Wedding Hair, but I'm grateful I no longer HAVE to work every weekend. 

If you find yourself interested in learning more please EMAIL ME: Christina@privebeautygroup.com

>> AVAILABLE IN THE UK + CANADA + USA <<

 Some of our team enjoying Bermuda.&nbsp;

Some of our team enjoying Bermuda. 

LEAPS & BOUNDS

As many of you know, Finley is in therapy 3 days a week -- and has been for FOREVER. She LOVES her therapists and riding the horses, and IT IS EXPENSIVE! We would LOVE YOUR help in supporting Friends of Leaps & Bounds Pediatric Therapy by making a donation team "FIFI & AUSTIN" fundraising page. Even a small donation will help US achieve OUR goal! 

Leaps & Bounds Pediatric Physical Therapy

Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy for children of all ages

At Leaps & Bounds, they provide physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy services for children of all ages in the Inland Empire and Orange County who are at risk for, or who have difficulty participating in typical, age appropriate activities. Their therapists are highly skilled and have dedicated their practice to the specialty area of pediatrics. They strive to implement the most current and best practices to help your child grow by Leaps & Bounds! Therapy services include evaluation, consultation, treatment, home and school program activities that promote typical development and functional mobility. They offer a comprehensive family-centered approach to mulit-disciplinary care… everyone works together with and for you and your child! They are excited to offer the highly evidence-based treatment strategy- hippotherapy- as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, in addition to our recreational therapeutic riding program.

Hippotherapy

  • What is it? Hippotherapy is a treatment strategy used by physical, occupational, and, or speech therapists that utilizes equine movement as part of an integrated intervention program to achieve functional outcomes (Helps children sit, stand, walk, balance, and MOVE more independently!).
  • Who is it for? Children (and adults) with mild to severe neuromuscular and other medical conditions, who have abnormal muscle tone, impaired balance, impaired coordination, impaired communication, impaired sensorimotor function, postural asymmetry, poor postural control, decreased mobility, and limbic system dysfunction related to arousal and attentional skills.
  • Why the horse? The horse’s walk provides sensory input through movement, which is variable, rhythmic, and repetitive. The resultant movement responses in the patient are similar to human movement patterns of the pelvis while walking. The variability of the horse’s gait enables the therapist to grade the degree of sensory input to the patient, and then utilize this movement in combination with other treatment strategies to achieved desired results.
  • Patients respond enthusiastically to this enjoyable experience in a natural setting! Therapy is FUN!
  • We offer hippotherapy services with a physical or occupational therapist, depending on your child’s goals and needs.
  • Hippotherapy is billed NO DIFFERENTLY than a clinic-based therapy session.