Please help me extend a warm welcome to Victoriyah Smith. Welcome to the PBS Blog!
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Victoria Smith (Victoriyah Israyl) and I am from Gulfport, Mississippi.
What was your childhood dream?
My childhood dream was to be able to travel to different countries around the world. I have been blessed to travel to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Belize, Progresso, Montego Bay, Cozumel, Key West, to name a few places. I enjoy learning new cultures and trying fresh foods as long as it is not pork or shellfish.
I feel you. I love traveling myself. Got a travel buddy? Married?
I am married to my wonderful, loving, supportive husband, Willie. We have shared this life together for 21 years.
Beautiful. Let’s talk about writing a bit. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
I published my first book on June 15, 2020, and it was a wonderful feeling.
Oh okayy. You new, new. Congratulations!
Thank you. It took a lot of work, time, and learning technical things to get it in the correct format for publishing; it was definitely a learning experience. I am now working on promoting my book as I work on writing my next book. I know the process will be more straightforward because of my first experience.
What do you love about yourself?
I love that I am a giver. I enjoy helping others and being a blessing to others who are not as fortunate as myself.
In your own words, what is humility?
Humility is being humble in my heart and my actions. Humility is the opposite of being puffed up and high minded. To walk in humility means to open yourself to understand the pain and disappointment of others. It is a welcoming approach to solving violence, anger, and aggression in relationships and society. Humility is being of no form or fashion, but existing in love and understanding as you seek to understand others when there is no peace. Humility is being as a little child.
I love that part about opening yourself up to understand the pain of others. Victoriyah, what is the best advice you’ve ever been given? What made it special?
My father gave me some wisdom as a young adult after I built my home. He was laying a new driveway for me, and I tried to pay him before he had finished the work. My father looked at me and asked, “Have you seen the finished product?” My answer was “No sir,” and then he said,” Never pay for a service in full until you’ve seen the finished product. Even if it’s your daddy.” Those simple words have been special in my life because it gave me the courage I needed to hold people accountable in business transactions as a young woman.
That’s awesome. Why is writing important to you?
Writing has always been an escape for me. When I became a Sunday school-teacher years ago, writing became a huge part of my life as I would write stories of the bible that would help my students to understand the scripture in a greater way. As I have continued my relationship with the Most High, writing has been a central focus of my meditations as I am being guided by my creator to unfold many truths about the bible. I hope that the truths that are written in my books will help others increase their belief in our creator Yah.
Life is not always pretty, as we all experience hardship now and again and this is magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. What is your best advice for reducing stress?
My advice for anyone experiencing hardship is to understand that there is a purpose for everything we experience. To find the meaning of life is to gain a relationship with our creator Yah and the Messiah Yahoshuah. I believe that by doing that, the Most High gives us understanding and direction in the path we should take in our lives. Pray to our creator Yah, cast all your burdens and troubles on him, and he will lift every burden (stress) and give you peace that surpasses all human understanding.
From the natural perspective, start a hobby, exercise, eat healthily, write more, and evaluate the decisions you are making and set goals to remove anything out of your life that may be causing stress. Our creator will give you the strength to remove those things through prayer.
Beautifully articulated. Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
I enjoy gardening. I grow my own cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, and peppers. I also have a passion for helping women become their own bosses by giving them the tools they need to succeed. In 2014, I established an organization to work toward that end. It is called “Network of Women Business Owners.” I also enjoy helping the less fortunate individuals in the community with clothes, food, and resources to help them overcome life’s challenges.
Thank you Victoriyah for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Born in Gulfport, Mississippi, Victoriyah received her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama and her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern Mississippi. Also, she obtained an associate’s degree in Business Management from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. With a passion for helping every inspiring woman become her own boss, Victoriyah shares her proven insights with diverse audiences through training, consulting services, workshops, seminars, and online platforms.
Mrs. Smith is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Network of Women Business Owners, a professional business network established in 2014 in Gulfport, Mississippi. Victoriyah resides in Gulfport, Mississippi, with her husband, Willie, and her (4) children and grandchildren live in Texas. She is available to conduct speeches and facilitate professional development training for professional women groups, organizations, and empowerment business events.
This woman vomiting her
hunger over the world
this melancholy woman forgotten
before memory came
this yellow movement bursting forth like
coltrane’s melodies all mouth
buttocks moving like palm tress,
raining rhythm to blue/black/smiles
this yellow woman carrying beneath her breasts
pleasures without tongues
this woman whose body waves
this woman wet with wandering,
reviving the beauty of forests and winds
is telling you secrets
gather up your odors and listen
as she sings the mold from memory.
there is no place
for a soft / black / woman.
there is no smile green enough or
summertime words warm enough to allow my growth.
and in my head
i see my history
standing like a shy child
and i chant lullabies
as i ride my past on horseback
tasting the thirst of yesterday tribes
hearing the ancient/black/woman
me, singing hay-hay-hay-hay-ya-ya-ya.
like a slow scent
beneath the sun
and i dance my
creation and my grandmothers gathering
from my bones like great wooden birds
spread their wings
while their long/legged/laughter
stretched the night.
and i taste the
seasons of my birth. mangoes. papayas.
drink my woman/coconut/milks
stalk the ancient grandfathers
sipping on proud afternoons
walk like a song round my waist
tremble like a new/born/child troubles
with new breaths
and my singing
becomes the only sound of a
womb ripe. walking. loud with mornings. walking.
making pilgrimage to herself. walking.
I have known Lynette for about two years now. Though it’s hard to pinpoint any exact moments in the blogosphere, I believe we met when she commented on my blog post, Why Memoirs are Special. From there we have gone on to follow each other’s blogs, email lists, social media, and she even bought one of my paperbacks.
Today, I am honored to help to promote her memoir, Even Rain is Just Water. Eck!
OK. I am calm. But, you all know that I would like to write a memoir one day. It is my honor to witness how it is done from those who’ve been where I am trying to go. Lynette’s book released in ebook on May 30, 2017. Today, she is releasing the paperback!
I love paperbacks!
AND I’ve already read the book. Yup. I beat you.
Before getting into the book, let’s learn more about Ms. Davis. I had a chance to “sit down” with her for a special edition interview. (Yup, beat you again. Ya’ll better hurry up.)
Lynette, what inspired you to write a memoir?
I was inspired to write my memoir to facilitate my healing. I know that “all things work for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). I was driven to continue writing when I realized I was not alone that my experience was more common than I ever could have imagined. I decided to develop my story and make it available to the public to raise awareness about emotional abuse.
Even Rain is Just Water is a powerful title. Can you give us some background on why you chose it and what it means?
I went through a dozen titles before God dropped rain is just water in my spirit on a clear, sunny Southern California day. Months later, the word “even” was added to the beginning. It means at the end of the day, the storms in our lives are just that–storms. And storms are temporary. I particularly liked rain is just water because it made me think of Psalm 1:3. The storms of our lives may come in like a flood. But, at the end of the day, it’s just water because, ultimately, God is in control of our lives. And after the storm has come and gone, we’ll still be here like trees planted along the riverbank.
Beautiful. Let’s get into the book. You have been through some stuff! What do you think some of the major differences are between Emotional and Physical abuse?
The major differences between emotional abuse and physical abuse are one is visible, and the other is not. Emotional abuse is an invisible abuse. There are no tell-tale scars, no broken bones, no black eyes, which is what makes this type of abuse so insidious. Emotional abuse, just like physical abuse diminishes the person’s sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth. If our scars were visible, there would be lots of scar tissue from scars that never fully healed before we got another scar.
How important is the role of mother in the life of daughters?
The role of mothers in the lives of daughters is of utmost importance. It’s the first relationship the daughters has. And it’s the one that provides a mirror, for the daughter, as to how she sees herself and the world around her. If you can’t trust your mother, who can you trust?
Man. I feel you. OK. Let’s switch it up a bit. I hear you work in education? Tell us about that.
I work in education as a substitute teacher. I work in one school district, however, with many schools, generally with elementary school children, and occasionally, with junior high and high students. Substitute teaching hasn’t changed much since you were a student. When a teacher is out, I take the teacher’s class for the day.
You was jamming in this book! Tell us about the kind of music you like.
I love R&B oldies from the seventies, eighties, and nineties, and some from the sixties such as Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, The Four Tops and The Temptations, especially when I’m cleaning the house. And I love contemporary gospel music. I also like jazz, although I haven’t bought any jazz CDs in a while.
What takes up most of your time?
Writing, my blog and Twitter, in that order.
Lol. In your own words, what is humility?
To me, humility is when you treat everyone the same, not some people different because they have more, or some people different because they can’t do anything for you, or some people different because no one is looking. Humility is not being stuck on yourself, and being able to understand how someone else may feel, having empathy for someone else, trying to imagine how they feel. Humility is knowing who you are, no matter how other people treat you. Humility is not being arrogant, walking around saying, “Look at me.” It’s being comfortable wearing a tee shirt, your favorite pair of jeans and a pair of flip flops because you know who you are, and don’t have to impress anyone.
I.Love.That.Definition. What is the most thought-provoking book you’ve ever read?
Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi. Reading that book was like I was there, right along with Anne during the early days of the Civil Rights Movement. Being from Florida, I related to a lot of the things she wrote about in Coming of Age in Mississippi.
Oh my goodness, yess! I so love how you incorporated history into your life story. It was brilliant and made me wish I was there to experience many of those historical moments.
Lyn, who is your favorite historical figure?
I would have to say Martin Luther King Jr. (Although Muhammad Ali runs a close second.) The way he initiated the Civil Rights Movement, through the jail visits, hate, and imminent threat of death. And how so many people did lose their lives, like the four little girls at the church in Birmingham, Alabama, and the three civil rights workers. He was clearly operating in his purpose.
Indeed. He went hard toward the end of his life for sure. Lyn, faith plays a big part in your story, would you define yourself as being a religious person?
No, and yes. If you mean, do I go to church every Sunday and follow a set of traditional rules and regulations? No. But if you mean, do I believe in God—that is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? However yes, in that I’m more spiritual than religious.
In your own words, what is truth?
Truth, especially as it pertains to memoir, is all about perspective. In a memoir, when we tell our truths, it’s from our own perspective. No two people will have the same perspective about everything, not even siblings who were raised in the same household. Or husband and wives, for that matter. Truth usually goes along with facts, although not necessarily. Truth can be verified. Truth goes along with humility – being true to who you are, being authentic.
Why is writing important to you?
Writing is important to me for three reasons. First, it helps me to express my feelings. I’m an introvert. And as such, I’m naturally quiet and don’t express my feelings often. Have you heard the saying, “I write to know what I’m feeling?” Well, that’s me for sure.
Secondly, when I write, I’m able to express my truths, not just facts. Maya Angelou has a quote that expresses what I mean here. “There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.” And thirdly, writing brings new revelations. I learn a lot about myself when I write.
Powerful. What skill would you like to master?
I would like to master graphic design—book cover design, in particular. That was the one aspect of my book that I wouldn’t—that is, couldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.
Who is your favorite author?
My favorite author is Maya Angelou. And I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is my favorite memoir. Angelou is my favorite writer because not only does she write so descriptively, but she was a survivor of sexual child abuse and wrote about that experience in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. That memoir encouraged me to bring my story out of the dark and into the light. Another reason she’s one of my favorite authors is that she rose from a sexually abused child to an empowered woman that empowered others.
Speaking of memoirs, let’s get back to your book, how can victims of emotional abuse recognize the signs?
A person can recognize that they’re being emotionally abused by the way they feel. Here are a few subtle, but not so subtle, signs. Generally speaking, if a person makes you feel bad or makes you feel bad about yourself, on a regular basis, there’s a good chance, you are experiencing emotional abuse. Here are a few signs.
Emotional Abuse As to children–
Constant belittling, shaming and humiliating a child. Calling names and making negative comparisons to others. Telling a child he or she is “no good,” “worthless,” “bad,” or “a mistake.” Frequently yelling, threatening or bullying. Ignoring or rejecting a child as punishment–giving him or her the silent treatment. Limiting physical contact wit the child–no hugs, kisses, or other signs of affection. Exposing the child to violence or abuse of others, whether it be a mate, parent, sibling, or even a pet.
Emotional Abuse as to adults–
You are blamed for their problems, life, difficulties or unhappiness. Your behavior is constantly being corrected. You are put down in front of others. Your ideas and beliefs are regularly disregarded. Your hopes, dreams, and achievements are minimized or ignored altogether. You are constantly reminded of your flaws or shortcomings. Your boundaries are repeatedly crossed. You are accused of being too sensitive. You feel as though you need their permission before you can make decisions. Or you are not allowed to make any decisions. They invalidate or deny their emotionally abusive behavior when you try to talk to them. You are constantly being threatened with abandonment or neglect. They don’t seem to notice or care about your feelings.
Even Rain is Just Water is your first book. What was it like publishing for the first time?
I published my first book, Even Rain Is Just Water on May 30th. Writing the book was a journey. And getting it ready for publication was another journey, in and of itself, a learn-as-you-go experience, for me. Since it was my personal story, I decided to go the self-publishing route so that I could have control over every aspect of the book. It took me four years to write and develop my book. Two things I learned from the process. One, know what you want and how you want it. There are a lot of people out there willing to take your money and give you little to nothing in return. And two, plan for everything to take ten times as long as you initially thought it would.
And now…drum rolll…Even Rain Is Just Water by Lynette Davis
When Lyn finds herself homeless with three children in tow, she is forced to deal with the demons of her childhood—being unwanted, unloved and rejected. As she embarks on a search for a place to call home, her sole desire is to give her children what she lacked growing up—a sense of belonging and security. But she is not so sure she can make that happen. Will Lyn conquer the demons of her past and save her children from a generational fate?
Alternating between a lonely little girl’s coming-of-age in Florida during the Civil Rights Era and her adult years, Even Rain Is Just Water, traces a daughter’s quest for love and acceptance that transcends into adulthood—illuminating between how childhood emotional trauma shapes our adult identity.
There’s a lot to take from this book. What I absolutely loved was how Lynette gave us a glimpse of the time by the many historical events that happened and what she was doing when it happened. Everything from the death of MLK, the Rodney King beating and even the shooting and eventual death of Tupac. As Lynette lived her life, all these things were happening around her and we get to witness them in real time. She even did this with the music. It was brilliant. My full review is coming soon.
PRAISE for Even Rain Is Just Water
“Like rain in the desert of a parched soul, Lynette Davis’ poignant narrative of rejection, revelation and redemption, offers hope to those of us who have felt displaced, disconnected and alone.”
—BETTY TUCKER, author of Don’t Worry About the Mule Going Blind: Hazel’s Daughter
“A remarkable and heart-wrenching accounting of Davis’… undeniable courage and tolerance for suffering a lifetime of conflict, adversity, and emotional abuse…”
—D.G. KAYE, author of P.S. I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy
“A courageous voyage of one daughter’s remarkable journey in finding love, security and a place to call home against the demons of her past.”
—MARY A. PEREZ, author of Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace
Riverside, California, 1996
I imagine I look like mother goose walking with her baby ducklings as my three children trail me, one behind the other. The convenience store is a good ten blocks away. It seems more like twenty. Although it’s only a few minutes before seven o’clock, we’ve been up since day break. And the morning sun is beaming down on us like it’s the middle of August, instead of the first week of June. My children must understand the gravity of our situation because they’re as quiet as three mice as we trek to the convenience store. This is not our normal routine. Twenty-four hours ago, I couldn’t have imagined the events of last night, or that I would be walking down the main boulevard with my three children this morning. For the umpteenth time in the last fifteen minutes, I check my beeper. No pages.
Although I’m dressed for walking—a pair of just-above-the-knee gray biker shorts and a tee-shirt which is what I slept in last night, and a pair of tennis shoes with no socks, I feel weird like I’m half naked. I didn’t even bother to comb my hair this morning. Luckily, I’m sporting a short Halle Berry look, and the slightly disheveled look is in. I wonder what my children think about all the drama of last night as I marvel at their resilience. Despite everything our family has been through these last couple of months, they’ve never complained. My daughter, the youngest of the trio, is doing a good job keeping up with her brothers and me. I thank God, they’re such good troopers. We’re used to walking from time to time when my Jeep Cherokee acts up. Right now, it’s parked in front of mom’s house where it’s been all week. As we walk down the boulevard, I contemplate my situation. I’ve run out of options. What am I going to do?
We get to the convenience store. And I dial my grandmother’s telephone number from the phone booth, just outside. It’s almost seven thirty now, so it’s close to ten-thirty in Florida where she lives. I hear the phone ringing loudly through the phone lines and envision my grandmother, a pert seventy-nine-year-old who still drives herself wherever she wants to go, making her way to the phone. I let the phone ring awhile, to give Mother—that’s what her children and grandchildren call her, time to get to the phone—and me time to get my emotions in check. I’m still reeling from the events of last night. I need to tell someone what happened, to help me process it.
After six or seven rings, my grandmother picks up the telephone.
“Hello,” she says, in a sweet southern drawl.
“Hey, Mother. How you doing?”
“I’m doing fine. How you?” she asks, raising her voice higher when she says you.
“Mother, you’re not going to believe this.”
“What? What happened?”
You can keep reading. Click on the cover below (or the linked title) to support this author with your very own copy ofEven Rain Is Just Water, available now on Amazon.com.
Lynette Davis is an educator, author, editor, and survivor. Her memoir Even Rain Is Just Water draws attention to emotional child abuse and narcissism’s mounting prevalence, as she joins the growing number of people speaking out about the ill effects of such relationships. Her short narrative, “The Fatal Blow,” is featured in the anthology I am Subject: Women Awakening: Discovering Our Personal Truths Fall 2014, a collection of stories featuring women re-claiming their lives in life-altering moments. To other survivors, she recommends “The Invisible Scar,” a blog that supports adults who were emotionally abused as children. Davis received her B.A. in English from California Baptist University, studied Composition and Rhetoric at California State University, San Bernardino, and facilitates writing workshops in the Inland Empire, California.
First, I want to thank Colleen of Silver Threading for tagging me in the #GirlLove Challenge, that’s my girl! For those who are unfamiliar, Girl Love is a challenge premiered by Lilly Singh, a Canadian vlogger, under the inspiration of ending girl-on-girl hate. You can watch her YouTube video here.
I am honored to be tagged in a challenge that promotes the building up of women because that’s one of the many purposes of my work (It is the reason I host a weekly online radio show specifically dedicated to the sisterhood). The challenge addresses a problem we tend to only see in woman-to-woman relationships and that is our negative perceptions of each other. This is an issue that is relevant with all women and, most especially, black women. I believe the miseducation of the woman, what her duty and her purpose is, has contributed largely to this issue and how we see ourselves overall. For this reason, I strive to encourage women, with an emphasis on black women, to invest in the power of their purpose and to appreciate their beautiful selves.
I choose to tag the following women bloggers in the #GirlLove Challenge who I have come to know through the Blogosphere, and who I admire in some way. If we were to have a girls night out, I would love to invite:
I would love to meet this woman in person because I think we will have a lot of fun! I love to laugh and something tells me she does too. Lisa has been very supportive of my work and my blog since following me a year ago. We have had the opportunity to pretty much swap support for each other on a professional level as well. I’ve done a book review for her, she has written a review for my book, we’ve interviewed each other and overall the experience has just been amazing. Lisa reminds me that team work makes the dream work!
I don’t always comment on Whitney’s posts but I read them daily. A year younger than I, I feel like Whitney is like my little sister! She reminds me so much of myself years ago. Her topics of discussion are easy to follow and relate to for black youth. But more importantly, there’s this light about Whitney that inspires me to want to get to know her better. There’s something there that moves me to want to take her under my wing sorta speak.
If Whitney’s my little sister, Nikki’s my big sister! I started following her after she commented on one of my blog post (I believe it was the gentle rain). Since then I have purchased her book “The Town Dance” (which I’ve been secretly deciding whether or not to do a book review on but I haven’t spoken to Nikki yet so… shhh lol), as well as follow her on Instagram and Facebook. Nikki is very talented and one thing I would like to do is pick her brain! Let’s just sit down over a nice cocktail and talk about the black experience.
I love her! I have only started following Deb recently, but I fell in love with her tagline “Because you need more than my fingerprints” (I believe we met during Blogging U’s Writing 101). Since following her blog, I have come to really love her down to earth demeanor and her realness because I am all about that. With me its like, I may not always agree with your perspective or your flaws but please keep it real with me. Let me get to know the real you and we can work on our issues together. That’s what I get from Deb’s blog, she always keeps it 100. She also makes me laugh lol. She is also a blogger whom I do not always comment on but who I do pay attention to (you never know whose watching…no pressure lol). I would love to meet Deb in person and learn more about her.
And last but certainly not least is Michelle. I have a passion for children (I was a teacher and tutor at a research center for years and interacted with children of all ages on a daily) and this woman has just the cutest little baby ever. I don’t want to say I followed her blog because of her kid but…I did! LOL. No, but seriously, Michelle and her little princess are adorable and I always look forward to their updates. The one with Kenzy’s new headband? Super cutesy! I have also just started following Michelle recently and I look forward to learning more about her.
Well, that’s it for me. The diversity of the personalities of each of these women would make our meet and greet an amazing experience. I hope you enjoyed my spotlight on some of the women I have come to know and love through the blogosphere and I encourage each of you to follow their blogs! Below is more on the #GirlLove Challenge for those who want to participate.
Here’s what you do for the #GirlLove Challenge:
Tell your followers who inspire you, a famous woman who may be dealing with negativity on a daily basis.
Tell your followers who inspire you in real life, a woman you always interact with.
Tag five women bloggers who you love. Compliment them and tell them why you love them, and comment under their latest post with the link to your #GirlLove post!
If you get tagged, do the post on your own blog. If you want to do it anyway, do it anyway! Add the tag ‘Girl Love’ to your post, so we can see them all! Let’s start 2016 with LOVE for each other!
I promise you
You see I know what kind of girls you’re used to
I know that
little black girls can’t appreciate you like I can
I know that
those little girls you’re used to
doesn’t know what you’ve been through cause
kindergarten fingers on small hands don’t know how to hold you
like I do
she pushes buttons on your heart like that
cause she’s not hip to the fact that a man
can lose focus too
but see she’s just a little girl so
she plays catch with your emotions
cause she feels that if she hits you hard enough
you’ll start coughing up tokens for her to play games with
I know that your body to these little girls is merely a myth
and every trip to your mouth is a quiz enveloped in living water
that she ain’t learned how to swim in yet
so she apologizes for getting lost in your kiss
and every vibration of your body simply doesn’t make sense to her
and every word of truth coming from your lips
is like a puzzle that she ain’t figured out yet
you see she’s insecure because what she’s selling has failed
and its cause the way you love to her is reminiscent of fairy tales
they mistake my trust for you as some kind of façade
don’t know what a real man is so they think you’re a God
mistaking the heavenly embrace of your arms for wings
cause I told ‘em I’m willing to fly away with you
mistakenly discerning that you grant me wishes like milky ways & stars cause
they see me praying for you
but that’s because I’m not a little girl
so wishing upon stars we don’t have to
but your mind they can’t dissect
and your ways are hidden from them like the life of insects so
she dismisses you as too perfect & she ain’t ready for all that yet
you see I know
what kind of girls you’re used to
but what I promise you
is a woman
I promise you support sweeter than any tea you could fathom
you see I promise you words of love
not temper tantrums
I know what kind of girls you’re used to
so I promise to appreciate every inch of you
Because what I promise you
is a woman
I promise to be strong so when it comes to bearing my burdens
sweetie you don’t have to
because I promise to help and not hinder you
I promise to cry tears on your shoulders
so I can properly communicate with you
And I promise to bear soldiers and little soliderettes for you
And I promise that temptation won’t attempt to temp you
cause aint no way little girls gonna love you the way that I do
you see I promise
not to walk in your shoes
cause I’m woman enough to know that you’re the head of me
but like the neck I support you
I promise not to distrust you like they do but we gonna talk about it
and when were done
I’m gonna feed you
cause I know that I can be satisfied by the same living bread
that satisfies you
So I’m gonna love you
Beause what I promise you
I promise you
not a little girl,
but I promise you