Elaine M. Prioleau

MEET ELAINE:  Introducing Elaine M Prioleau - the winner of our Dear Self Challenge. She's a mother of 5 children: 3 boys and 2 girls. Most recently, she got married and she's very grateful for her bonus son. Besides being a wife and mom, she also loves spoiling her 3 handsome grandsons. Elaine's passion for ministry has molded a career in social work. We love that Elaine embraces a joyful, faith-filled perspective and remains steadfast under trial!

What does women supporting women mean to you?

Supporting women is a passion for me. It’s important every young girl and every woman knows that she is loved, beautiful, worth it, enough for herself even if others don’t feel that way. I want women to know that they are not defined by their past. They are not made to fit into a box. Putting me in a box is like trying to put a triangle into a rectangle. And I want other women to know that. I have had my share of bumps and bruises and endured many struggles, but I have come to a place of acceptance of who I am and how awesome of a person I am. That is my desire for every woman, to find out how awesome she really is!

Do you have a life mantra/motto that you live by?

I have so many things I live by. One of them is God close doors that should be closed, open those that should be open. Give me the wisdom to know the difference and the faith to trust that you can handle them both. I also say again that trying to put me in a box is like trying to put a triangle in a rectangle.

What does it mean to live a meaningful life?  

To me, living a meaningful life means that no matter where I am or what’s going on, I have joy and I am at peace. Joy and peace come from knowing who you are and whose you are. I am a firm believer that God holds me in the palm of His hands and without Him I am nothing. So, knowing that lets me know that I am ok. I have peace even in times of hurt, pain, and disappointment and I find joy in knowing that whatever the battle is I’m not alone. And that is worth any material thing or any amount of money there could ever be.

What inspired you to become a Social Worker?

I have done many professions but the desire to become a Social Worker came from my passion in ministry. I have always just wanted to help people and being a social worker was the absolute best. I have worked in public housing with women and children. I worked for the Dept of Social Services with women and children. Then I went on to work in long term care as a social worker. Each time was an awesome experience. Due to health issues, I had to stop working but my desire to continue to help people hasn’t stopped. So now I have a motivational blog and I do ministry.

Has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you've had to overcome?

It has not been an easy path at all. I caused a lot of hurt and pain in people’s lives that genuinely cared for me because of some choices I have made. I was divorced and for years I lived in guilt, shame, regret and remorse….and then rejection came along. And that was just the icing on the cake. I attempted suicide all because I couldn’t handle the fact of the things I had done. I harbored hate and unforgiveness against others and myself.  I had to come to a point that I had to accept the reality of what was, forgive those who I thought had wronged me, even if I thought they had, and they hadn’t I had to forgive. That was hard, hard. And I had to mean it. But after I did there was such a relief and a burden lifted from me. Then I had to start forgiving myself. I am still working on that. There are some areas that I had completely forgotten about in my life that pop up and I must deal with. But I am stronger for what I went through. There’s more clarity about life and I’m enjoying life now.

Where do you draw motivation from?

I draw my motivation from seeing women and children happy and healthy. I draw my motivation from knowing that I am helping to strengthen others and change their lives just by sharing my story. What motivates me is that there may be another opportunity to speak, write and share my life with others to help them to see that no matter what it is, how it hurts and how it looks, they can go on. They can go forward.

How would you describe your personal style?

Wow…my personal style is a little diva, a little conservative and a little lively. Depending on where I am or what I’m doing lol…But I think no matter where I am, I always a little diva! I absolutely love, love, love girly stuff. I love glitter, flowers, bling, jewelry…all of that. And being able to get ALL of that in my pens and office supplies is AWESOME!!!! I collect office supplies. If I were rich, I’d have a room full of office supplies, furniture and computers.

What product would you seriously stockpile if you found out they weren’t going to sell it anymore?

LOL I would honestly stockpile in a storage unit, every pen, paper clip, binder, planner, sticky note, push pin…everything that ALLEYMUSE has. I absolutely love the products. Every time I use my pens I feel like a queen. When I’m out and about and I use my pens, I feel special because I get so many compliments. I love love love the products. Lol

Who should everyone be following right now?

Um…I’m not big on celebrities so I don’t know who’s doing what or trending. But if I had to pick anyone, I would pick God. But if I had to choose a human, it would be Michelle Obama. I have been reading her book and the stories of how she learned to be her own thinker and make decisions has been awesome. She was not forced to do things, she was given a choice, but with the understanding of the consequences.

What should every woman try at least once in her life?

Every woman should try at least once in her life to be selfish. I say that because we put so much emphasis on others to be what they need that we often lose ourselves. By the time we get to a point of finding ourselves some of the dreams that we had have been long deferred and unattainable. But, if we’re just a little bit selfish and allow ourselves that moment to say I’m taking this for me, we may find that we make better decisions. And even if we’re not making good decisions, we should be a little selfish with ourselves and say, “this is hurting someone who loves me. It makes me feel good, but I know it hurts them. So, I’m going to take this moment for them and do something that makes them feel loved.” It goes both ways. It’s just a matter of how you apply selfishness. It’s not always a bad thing.

Push, Pull or Let go?

Push, Pull or Let go? Whew! That’s a tough one. I can honestly say that at some point, depending on the situation, you end up doing all three. I say that because with my children, I have been at a push point with them. I pushed until I couldn’t push any farther. So, then I began to pull because I didn’t think they had gone far enough, and I wasn’t satisfied. They were satisfied but I wasn’t. So, I pulled and pulled. But what I was doing was creating feelings of resentment and planting seeds of lack of self esteem and lack of self-worth. And that became painful for us both. So, I had to learn to let go. I had to let them become their own person and have the right to live their own lives. I had to learn that my role as mother in their lives had changed from physical overseer to counselor. Gone were the days of my word being their lives, but now my words are their counsel and they are still able to make the best decision for themselves. And, if it doesn’t work out, I am still mom with open arms.

What words of encouragement do you have for someone who is in a season of disappointment? 

Seasons are just that…seasons. As the seasons change in the weather, so do the seasons change in our lives. However, what we do in this season helps determine how long this season lasts and what the next season will be like. In my book I just wrote, one of the things I say is don’t stop trying, keep singing. It’s easy in a season of disappointment to give up and just look around you with disgust. It’s easy to wallow in it and feel bad for yourself. And it’s ok to do that, for a minute. But only a minute. After that turn up the music and dance!!! You know how when you’re cleaning the house you turn the music up and cleaning takes on a whole different atmosphere. Yes, you may be cleaning the toilet, but with the music going you clean it and before you know it, it’s sparkling and shiny and you dance your way to the next task. That’s the same way with life. Bad things happen and we must deal with some stinking situations. But put on some music, face that situation and dance through it. Be real about what happened, how it feels and what you think. Be truthful to yourself and realize…it happened, I can’t change it so now what? Not facing it doesn’t make it go away so you gotta get to the next season. If this season sucks, then what can be done to move out of this season, into the next and make it better? Don’t stop trying, just dance!!!

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