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  • Writer's pictureMichèle Newton

Use your own voice

Updated: Jul 29, 2019

I view success a lot differently than I used to. I’m successful because I’m in a place where I’m fully accepting me as a person. — Maria

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it. —Maya Angelou

Thoughts oN SUCCESS

I know success is not found in the tangible, no, it’s not. I’ve come to realize tangible items are fleeting items. I've learned to live small and to live simplistically - in that tangible items really don’t matter. It's great if your can buy yourself a nice purse or a nice piece of clothing. That's a pleasurable reward, but that's not success.

Success is knowing that I was able to change somebody's life for the better today. I’m absolutely grateful to have that as a reward for what I do. Success is knowing that I’m doing that I what I was called to do. That's success. —Maria


By Michèle Newton

To be or not to be successful

Seems that’s what our world is about.

Step back to before it became ‘are or are not’,

‘have or have not’, black or white, and no grey.

Use that reflection to start undoing all the frames

limiting how you see your success.

Give yourself permission to turn your thinking around,

to believe in yourself and recognize your strength.

Embrace this new you and let go of old constraints.

The world will come to know and acknowledge your greatness.

Who is maria michelle'lee

Maria is living her dream. Years ago, she dreamed vividly one night that she was on stage “speaking to the masses.” In fact, her dream was a vision of her future—her life’s calling—that she’s well on her way to realizing. Maria is an inspirational speaker, life coach and podcast co-host, focused on motivating people and helping to change their lives for the better.

As a life coach, Maria does a lot of listening in order to guide, mentor and coach her clients. She draws from her own experience in overcoming hurdles and deciding to choose her own path. Maria empathizes with their individual situations and compassionately moves them towards personal empowerment and fulfillment.

Growing up in Canada

Maria and her sister were often reminded of who they were as black girls and how things might be different for them by their mom. Although Edmonton had a relatively diverse population, Maria was bullied in school for being black and over the unique sound of her voice.

After repeatedly trying to change her vocal tone resulted in a sore throat, Maria decided enough was enough. She made peace with who she was, embraced her natural voice and even began singing.

“I love the sound of my voice. It’s made me a great speaker. People say that my voice is ‘so calming. It’s relaxing. There’s so much joy behind your voice.’ Those are the things I chose to keep with me.”—Maria

Maria’s experience has shown her that other people’s values and opinions don’t really matter when it comes to your dreams. What matters is believing in yourself and having the courage to follow your own calling. Being true to yourself—as she and her husband Dwayne regularly encourage their two sons and daughter—is how you achieve success and happiness.

“I’m very determined and I have drive – even when there are voices and people telling me to give up and to sit down.” —Maria

How about Role Models?

Growing up, living first in New Brunswick and then in Edmonton, Maria fondly remembers the strong black women who helped shape her.

Her mom: A single mom who moved to Canada while pregnant with Maria, she embodied resilience—a testament to how hard work and determination pay off. She demonstrated the power of independence.

Her girl friends: Stacy and Michelle taught Maria about black heritage and culture, and, most importantly, to stand up for herself and use her voice. Stacy is Maria’s eldest son’s godmother, and regularly shares her own experiences on raising independent children with Maria. Another friend, Leah encouraged Maria to recognize her own strengths and successes as a person, mom and wife.

Maria's Words of wisdom

Since her daughter was little, little, little, Maria’s shared wisdom from her life experiences with her. Her messages to young girls and women looking forward are:

"Your independence is valuable. It’s priceless. You don’t have to do thing by yourself, but don’t be waiting for someone else to do it for you. You should understand your money. You have a voice and you deserve to be heard.”—Maria

Photo by: Michèle Newton


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