This month’s guest on Motherhood full of dreams inspirational corner is Lucy Abreu. Lucy is a passionate career-driven, mother from the block who has come a long way from her childhood life to the life she has today. For years, she’s inspired me and I’m ecstatic Lucy has agreed to share with us a part of her story. I promise after checking out her interview you’ll feel energized from learning about her. Take a moment to be inspired with her story below.
1. You are a passionate woman juggling motherhood, a high level career and wifedom. Tell our readers about yourself and how you do it.
My journey started in Plainfield, New Jersey. I was a quiet kid with thick glasses and a poofy ponytail who loved to draw, spar in karate, read and study. I was… a nerd. Unfortunately, this was before being a nerd was cool. I put mostly everything I had into studying because I saw education as “the ticket” to my future.
I am a product of the Plainfield, NJ public school system. I practiced martial arts since the age of 10 and earned a black belt from Wazito-Ryu. I went on to graduate from Rutgers University with a BA in Journalism and subsequently attended Syracuse University where I earned an MS in journalism. My first professional job as a journalist started in Plainfield at a family-owned newspaper – City News – where I gained experience in owning our story, which is what I always wanted as a kid. I wanted to provide a different perspective on how Blacks and Latinos were portrayed in the media, and write stories that truly reflected our community. I am currently a Director at Otsuka Pharmaceuticals where I lead the Corporate Communications team. Previously, I spent 8 years at BlackRock, a leading global financial services organization, in various digital and social media marketing roles, 3 years at Johnson and Johnson as a Global Corporate Communications professional and 2 years at CNN working in broadcast television. I’m also a Girl Scout Troop leader, a member of Delta Sigma Theta and a community volunteer.
When I’m not being a “corporate ninja” I’m enjoying the other part of my life – my family. My hubby and I pretty much knew we met our match the day we were introduced nearly 14 years ago. We joke that we should have a family TV show because we think we’re hilarious! We are the same in many ways, and different in many others, but sometimes I think that’s exactly what makes this work. We have to be a team. He’s detail-oriented, organized, and extremely social and I’m the optimist dreamer who is a “recovering” introvert. We’re equally fiery, ambitious, stubborn, and passionate about the things we care most about. We’ve accomplished many things together, but what we’re most proud of is our children. They are smart, silly, kind-hearted “minions” that complete us. As parents we pray that we fill their lives with love, empower them to dream, encourage them to explore, and teach them to serve and pray.
Family is important to me if you haven’t got that! My sister and brother are my glue (sometimes it’s Elmer’s glue and sometimes it’s crazy glue – we’re siblings, what do you expect?). We always have each other’s back, draw on each other for strength, and most importantly, make each other laugh! Last but not least, I have ride-or-die friends. We inspire, motivate and uplift each other. These are all of my angels.
2. I know you feel your parents helped you become who you are today, tell us about them and what your childhood was like.
My parents are my greatest role models. They instilled a sense of service, sacrifice, love, family, humor, confidence, faith, and perseverance in our family.
We didn’t have a lot, but we did have love. I learned first-hand to be grateful for what we did have, and to be resourceful for when we didn’t have. I learned to value sacrifices others made for me, to work hard because we’re worth it, to give because others gave to us; to create my own path because I owned my destiny.
My parents showered us with love. They are two of the most giving people I know. They are the essence of strength and have endured lives I wouldn’t even know how to survive. My mom lost her parent’s at an early age and my dad started working sugarcane fields at the age of 10 in Puerto Rico. They grew up to be courageous and loving people. They taught us the power of prayer. They taught us that you can plan for things, but then life happens and no matter what it may take away, you never let it take away your faith. They taught us that we could achieve whatever we set our minds too. They taught us the value of education. They taught us what it meant to make sacrifices. These are the positive lessons ingrained in my DNA and reflect a lot of what I strive to teach my children.
3. When you say that’s the positive side, what do you mean? Can you clarify and where else do you think your passion grew out of?
Oh my goodness, I had so much fun as a kid and so many pleasant memories. Yet, the world is a complicated place and full of conflicting paradigms. There is no yin without a yang.
During the week, I remember my mom always walking us to school in the rain, sleet or snow – we were going no matter what; the aroma of my dad’s cooking; watching Sanford and Son or WWE with the family (#DontJudge); riding our bikes in the City Hall parking lot, or practically living in the dojo because we went to karate almost every night (it was our family thing!) and we were forever trying new moves on each other – probably not wise, but it was fun.
We had a “normal” 90’s childhood complete making home grown mix tapes, going to Ferrarro’s local pizzeria, driving to Newark airport to watch the planes (OK maybe everyone didn’t do this part but it was fun). And I can’t be the only one whose childhood soundtrack has a little New Edition, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and we can’t forget the Wilfredo Vargas which would blast at family house parties…. “Mami. la la la la la la la”
Now the flipside that accompanied this euphoria was the reality of the drugs and violence that haunted the community at times, and slowly suffocated the hope out of me by casting a shadow on the world as I knew it. Police sirens were sometimes a lullaby that played in the background, especially on summer nights.
Everybody has a hustle and many times we have to play the cards we’re dealt until we can change them, but sometimes the cost of this was losing loved ones to the street. The cost was being knocked down with no’s and limitations. Sometimes the personal and community consequences were just the cost of survival.
All of these experiences helped shape my view of the world, and defined me and my purpose. I remember always wanting to change the wrongs of the world, wanting to end injustices, and wanting an equal playing field from the classroom to the boardroom. I wanted to always believe in the good in people. So this is my story.
4. What advice do you have for our readers on going after a goal of theirs? Or to keep your sanity and still make ME time, what do you do for you?
My advice is nobody is going to stop you, but you. If you don’t allow yourself to dream, who will? The truth is a lot of times I was scared to death to take some of the professional risks I have taken; but I believe in living a life with no regrets. Allow yourself to have big ideas and strive for the impossible, and then start making things happen!
Another key point is to do your research. Always, always, always be marketable. Make sure you would hire you! Stay competitive and hungry. Know what drives you and what fuels your fire. Last but not least, know your worth and fight for what you believe in.
Surround yourself with people who can not only support you, but challenge your thinking, stretch you, inspire you, and be there to help you up, because some of the best lessons I’ve learned have come after I’ve failed. And then I got back up.
My “me-time” is often the quiet pockets of time I have on the drive to and from work because I am a full-time mommy first and foremost, and as most parents can relate to there are no days off or no time-outs and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So while being a parent of two rambunctious, strong-minded, and silly little ones is the most rewarding job I could ever be so humbled and blessed to have, it is also an exhausting one, so I think we have to make time where we can get it, and find quiet sanctuaries in our noisy lives because it is best for the whole family. One trick that works is to have them read for a half an hour, and the quiet is restored in the house and they are learning! Win-win!
What do I do for me? Besides, being with my family or hopping from one event to the next, I still love reading, drawing, listening to music, traveling, playing board games with the kids and enjoying TV shows together. Social media is my guilty pleasure so you can usually find me sharing, posting, pinning, tweeting, etc., in between the day and that’s been a personal and professional outlet that I can always count on!
The truth of the matter is, you don’t keep your sanity all the time, and you don’t have ME time, but you have something greater in my opinion.
5. Can I just tell you, that being from the same town as you, Plainfield, NJ, growing up in the same type of neighborhood and seeing how far you’ve come, knowing what you’ve made it from “the bottom” so to say, inspires me. Tell me what else made a difference in your childhood that pushed you to find change?
Part of my upbringing has propelled my thinking into what have I got to lose? I work hard. I take risks. I know my value and I fight for it. Karate tremendously helped me develop my confidence and the will to fight. I believe everybody should have something. For some people it may be basketball, it may be band, it may be theater… whatever it is just be a part of something bigger than you. Be a part of something that can be a rock for you and can help you realize you hold the power to make a difference in your life and in others. Karate was that something for me. Literally through blood, sweat and tears I was able to see results of hard work and visioning a target and hitting it. My target has been ‘success’ because I needed to make the sacrifices others have made for me worth it. I need to not have to ask for help, because that’s extremely difficult for me. I need to be able to make a difference. I need to believe that whatever I’m crazy enough to think I can achieve, that I can.
6. What is your favorite quote or piece of advice and why?
As you know, I L-O-V-E social media, especially Pinterest, and I recently saw this quote that has stuck with me. “The woman I was yesterday, introduced me to the woman I am today; which makes me very excited about the woman I will become tomorrow.”
7. Where does your inspiration come from and when you need a big dose of it, what do you do?
God is my constant source of inspiration. I am still learning a lot and pray that I am able to give more than take, build more than break, listen more than speak and love more than hate. God is the core of who I am.