FaLessia Booker and I go back a bit and we have always been supportive of each others work but I’ve never known the full scope and struggles of her story.
FaLessia Booker is a freelance writer and editor living in Flint, Michigan. She works as the Editorial Director of Courageous Woman Magazine and volunteers as Editor in Chief for Martha Cook Alumnae Association’s bi-annual newsletter. FaLessia also serves as President of Flint Club, an organization with more than 15 years of promoting positive events and people in the city of Flint.
In this exclusive interview with Black Girls Allowed, FaLessia Booker talks about living a busy life as a Courageous Woman with hydrocephalus (also known as, water on the brain), being an adoptive parent to twin boys, what it means to have a supportive and loving husband, and her hopes for the future of Flint, Michigan.
What does it mean to you to be the Editorial Director for Courageous Woman magazine?
It is a very enlightening and humbling experience. I love writing and editing, and even in times when everything is going wrong with my edits and I want to pull my hair out, something inside is ready to buckle down and get to the root of the issues. Writing gives me peace and editing allows me a first glance at the gems that our readers will love!
Who should be reading Courageous Woman Magazine?
Courageous Woman Magazine is for women who want to be inspired. Our audience is not limited by geography, economics, or social standing. We try to make each article interesting, informative, and leave the reader feeling ready to conquer any obstacle that comes along. We want readers to say, “If she can do it, so can I!”
What kind of women and stories is Courageous Woman looking to feature?
We want warriors! We want women with unique approaches to common issues. It is common for women to feel tired–how do you combat the weariness? My children misbehave in school–what other parenting strategies can I try? I have been diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, or cancer–how did you conquer your medical mountains?
I recently wrote an article for the magazine about my tests and triumphs with hydrocephalus. I was diagnosed with excess cerebrospinal fluid in my brain at three months of age, and I have had more than 20 brain surgeries as a result.
I am blessed to be relatively healthy otherwise, but when my shunt malfunctions, it is very painful, and my life stops for 3-6 months while I recover. I have always been a person that hates limitations, so I try to do, and be, everything that I see in others.
What has the support of a loving husband meant to you through all your ups and downs?
Mario is my husband, but way before that, he was one of my best friends. We hung out together nearly every weekend–going to movies and dinner, watching TV and playing games with our work buddies, and he even dragged me to the mall a couple of times. (I REALLY hate shopping, so it was a big accomplishment for me to go along!)
Mario has seen me through of some my worst times, through seizures, brain cysts and surgeries, and the general depression of dealing with chronic illnesses, temporary blindness, and paralysis. Sometimes I need Mario the Protector, and heaven help anyone who tries to hurt me.
Sometimes, I need Mario the Minister to pray for me, and NO ONE prays like he does!
Sometimes, I need my friend, Mario, just to encourage me after a tough day. I get all of those guys in one “Super Mario,” plus an awesome Zumba instructor who keeps motivating me to give my best in class!
Why was it important for you to adopt and what are your biggest parenting challenges?
After a pretty painful adoption failed at the last moment, my mom encouraged me to grieve the loss of that baby, but when we were ready, to make room in our hearts for another child. Once we were ready, God said, “I’ve got a deal for you…how about twins?”
In the beginning, we spent a lot of time figuring how to help each one, and after a while, we saw them calm down. They became sure that our home was their forever place. Now they are VERY independent pre-teens and I miss my little boys.
I am proud of the young men they are becoming and how they each have their own interests and talents, but help each other and defend each other.
Jace is younger, but very protective of his brother!
What do you think Flint needs the most right now?
Understanding. My city has been hurt and discounted so much, it is hard to see how we will ever survive and prosper. Flint is full of people who care. WE WILL MAKE IT!
Flint needs more advocates. It saddens me to read an article about positive changes going on in Flint, and find the comment section full of elitist, racist, negative stereotypes: “Those people voted Democrat, so they deserve what they get.” “Last person to leave Flint, turn the lights out.”
Most of the commenters don’t live in the city, and the anonymous nature of the comment sections makes them feel like they can say anything with no repercussions! I have tremendous respect for the community leaders of Flint that work hard to get Flint’s true story out.
For every criminal, there are 1000 good, honest people. For every challenge, we have hundreds of Flintstones who step up quietly, with no need for accolades, and get the job done.
For every story about educational decline, there are educators who work unpaid overtime tutoring children, and pay for classroom supplies from their own paycheck.
I am Flint, and those of us who identify with the city’s success know that the recovery of Flint is already well underway!
How optimistic are you that Flint will get everything it needs?
I am very optimistic! There is a tremendous improvement in the city’s landscape in just the past ten years! Crumbling buildings and homes have been demolished and there are two very big development projects slated for Flint in the next few years.
One is a hotel downtown, and the other is an airplane factory where Buick City used to be! Those developments mean jobs, and more jobs mean more residents. We have beautiful historic homes all over the city waiting for new owners and some new build housing that is less than ten years old.
We already have fantastic restaurants and lofts downtown and the universities in Flint are interesting heavily in the areas that surround them.