MEET DEONA M. FRIERSON.
Deona is a Speaker, Consultant and Licensed Clinical Social Worker within Charlotte. She provides therapy services for individuals, groups and couples. She is a Certified Imago Therapist specializing in marriage and relationship counseling and maintains her private practice.
Deona empowers women within our community, strengthens relationships and is a #GirlBoss all around by being a female entrepreneur.
Tell us about you Business
I remember working on my clinical license after graduate school and thinking, I could start a small private practice and change the world. Believe it or not, I didn't give much thought to how hard it would be or the many challenges and changes I would experience along the way. I often think about the simplicity of my thought process back then. Had I even begin to let my mind wander, fear would have sunk in and derailed me from all that God has entrusted into my hands.
I remember talking to my husband about starting a small practice/organization. With passion I would share how children and families would be treated as if they are our own, how lives would be transformed. During our brief planning phase I felt (and still feel) an enormous amount of support and encouragement from my husband David who started and continues to journey alongside me through this adventure.
Wow, A lot has happened since the Fall of 2008.
I love people. My hearts desire is for everyone to live a full life being the greatest expression of themselves (whole, vulnerable, peaceful, joyful).
I am a Speaker, Consultant and Licensed Clinical Social Worker providing superior therapy services for individuals, groups and couples. I am a Certified Imago Therapist specializing in marriage and relationship counseling and maintain a private practice in Charlotte, North Carolina. My commitment to help others is evident through my lifestyle of service. I have spent over a decade dedicated to the preservation of families through Social Work and Counseling.
My Favorite Question. Describe yourself in THREE Words
Excited, Empathetic, Authentic
What do you consider your greatest personal achievement?
My greatest professional achievement has been starting and growing a Nationally Accredited Child and Adolescent Mental Health Organization. Once a successful leadership team was in place I was able to move forward in launching The Intentional Woman Series and The Excellent Marriage. I am able to do what I love while serving women and couples knowing that there are a team of skilled professionals providing quality counseling services to children, adolescents and families in Charlotte.
What are you professional goals in the next six months?
In the next six months I will focus on building new professional relationships and referral sources. I plan to increase my media presence through the use of social media and traditional marketing for greater results.
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I have always wanted to bake and open an small bakery. I love creating easy recipes (mainly desserts) and having my family try them out. According to my husband and children, I make the best pancakes, waffles and sweet potato pies EVER! When I was a child I made the most delicious peanut butter cookies.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Work/life balance is extremely important to me. Prioritization is key. Taking care of myself (spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically) is priority. If I am not functioning well, there is no way I am able to serve and love my family and others appropriately. If I am healthy I am able to flow harmoniously in every area of my life.
In this season of my life, it is important for me to create a loving, nurturing foundation for my children. I did not learn this over night. After almost 9 years of owning my own companies it is still important for me to establish boundaries. Understanding what my role is in each of my companies is critical.
I am a huge advocate for unplugging from this fast paced life our culture has bought into. I am learning to slow down, be present and appreciate now. Prayer, meditation, self-care, healthy connected relationships, fun, great food and relaxation are also a must! :)
My husband and I travel alone and with our children and family throughout each year.
What is your favorite drink – and where can you find it in Charlotte area?
I absolutely LOVE Sweet Tea! My favorite place to get Sweet Tea in North Carolina is McAlister's Deli.
What are your top 3 favorite people/places/things in Charlotte?
My favorite people are my husband David and my children Malik (19), Isaiah (10) and Hannah (5). I absolutely love hanging out with my family. All of our personalities make our time together priceless. Our family is known for the "family hug." Anytime we are together and someone is hugging, the entire family joins in.
I love that Charlotte is a city full of life. It is the city that hardly any of the current residents have originated from. I love that I can drive down the street and see Cam Newton on his hover board or have dinner and run into celebrities that are no different then you or I. Charlotte is the place where you can play in the NFL, NBA be a corporate lawyer or an entreprenuer and have your own space to shine bright. We are all needed, loved and Kings and Queens in this city.
I enjoy sharing time with my girlfriends, talking about our hopes and dreams and having brunch at Terrace Cafe. The Red Velvet Waffle is DELICIOUS!
What is your goal for retirement?
Let's check back in about this subject in about 12 years. I believe that I will always delight in serving others whether it be speaking, seminars, small retreats or counseling. My husband and I plan to continue to travel the world now and throughout our lives. In the future we plan to have all of our developed material published (books, manuals).
Do you have any advice for women who would like to start their own company?
Whatever dream God has placed in your heart, BELIEVE in yourself, have COURAGE and move forward. Take care of yourself (spirit, soul and body). It is easy to get caught up in fads and what everyone else is doing versus knowing who you are and what your contribution is in this world. Do not get caught up in comparing yourself to others and what others may be doing. Allow yourself the grace and time that it takes to learn and grow. EVERYTHING that you need is already inside of you. Connect with people who encourage you, tell you the truth and hold you accountable. I believe in you!
STAY SOCIAL WITH DEONA
Each year I see it happen. Maybe it was because I was a military spouse for over four years. Maybe it was because I have seen the effects of war. But each year it bothers me.
Memorial Day is to remember the ones who we have lost. The ones who sacrificed it all. Three years ago I fully understood what those words meant.
My ex-husband was deployed while I was a surrogate in the spring of 2013. We were on the phone when I realized something was wrong in Afghanistan. I heard the questioning he was trying to muffle. He then told me they were going to go on a com-blackout and he did not know when he would be able to call again. Communication black outs happen if someone has died to prevent social media and word of mouth from reaching the loved ones before military officials can.
He hung up and five minutes later my belly buddy was earthside. The emotional struggle I felt for the next few weeks was hard. I felt the entire circle of life in that hospital room. I knew while I was experiencing a new life being brought into this world, my friends overseas were experiencing hell as they knew it. Less than an hour before Liam was born, Captain James 'Mano' Steel lost his life fighting for our country
The brave men and women of the 77th Fighter Squadron located at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, SC arrived home three weeks later. They were three weeks away from landing home when Capt. James 'Mano' Steel lost his life. I watched the jets come in the days before and cried. I wept silently as the large Boeing 777 circled above us before landing with the majority of the men and women.
But one did not come home.
Five days later, we all met back in the same hangar we welcomed everyone home to have a memorial. The large American Flag was the backdrop was the same from the days before. It was a preparation for our time in Arlington a few days later. I do not think anything could prepare me for what I would experience while I was there.
We toured Arlington the day before the funeral. A horse drawn casket walked through as 200 or so tourists and students paid no attention. My knees buckled and I gripped on the stroller a little tighter. I looked around at all the tourists not stopping or caring. Do they realize what that casket represented? Do you realize what that man or woman has done for you?
I stood there and cried. In that moment I felt everyone should witness a funeral in Arlington. The magnitude of it all struck me.
Later we walked the National Mall. If you've ever been to Washington DC then you know that the airport is nearby. You hear planes often take off and land. But suddenly I hear a familiar sound. The roar of a fighter jet was making itself known. I stood and asked if it was a jet and found out they were practicing for tomorrows fly over.
The next day, when the flyover happened, my heart sank. Since that day I have never been able to experience a fly over without crying.
The funeral was very humbling. I had met Mano through passing. Visiting the squadron and just hearing stories my ex-husband has said. But the funeral has always effected me. The weight of being in Arlington for a funeral was so heavy. We heard the 21 gun salute twice while we stood on the hillside. There were 17 funerals in all on May 3rd, 2013. After some research it seems that was a slow day in comparison. Seventeen men or women were laid to rest that fought for our country.
Since my divorce, the 77th has lost another brave soul overseas, Capt. William 'Pyro' DuBois. The 77th was a family. I still talk to many of the spouses and squadron military members. My heart broke at the news that yet again, on their first deployment after the loss of Mano, they had another death shortly into their deployment. It is something you never think will happen and pray it never does. It hurts to see so many friends in pain due to another loss.
In the end, I hope my son will grow up knowing what our service members do for our country. I hope he understands what Mano’s selflessness truly means. One day when he goes on a school trip to Washington and there is a casket going past I hope he stops and prays for their family. These are things I wish for my child. I hope he understands the magnitude of what our American Heroes do for us day in and day out and the ones who sometimes pay the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
Memorial Day weekend is here. It's the first official glimpse of summer. We jump in our boats, put on the sunscreen, lay in the grass .. or go watch 43 race cars for 600 miles. My weekend is filing up quickly. We have our summer photos being taken by one of my favorite Charlotte photographers, GB Lovestoryographer, two family cookouts and lots of time in the sunshine and by the pool. My little is so excited for this weekend and so am I.
This was always my favorite weekend as a teen. I loved going out to see my favorite artists for free. Now, it's a $15 entry fee for the concerts and they've strayed away from rock bands but there are still a lot of awesome headliners. Today is day two of the concerts. Get the full listing on their websites
nathans famous hot dog eating contest
While you're at Speed Street on Saturday, stop by to watch the Hot Dog Eating Contest! It's at 4:15 located at Levine Ave and Tryon Street.
loso bbq competition
LoSo has quickly become the newest 'dirinking district' of Charlotte and it's easy to see why. Our next event will be in LoSo at the Broken Spoke. Come out to view all the local breweries, distilleries and more as they face off in a BBQ Competition on Saturday! Featuring OMB, Sugar Creek, Broken Spoke, & Great Wagon Road Distilling Company. Free admission
coca cola 600
We're in NASCAR Country. Why not go out and enjoy the races!? I am always one to say that you must experience a NASCAR race one in your life. We live in the heart of the sport and it is entertaining. Tickets are still available at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS AT US NATIONAL WHITEWATER CENTER
The US National Whitewater Center is hosting lots of entertainment on Sunday in honor of Memorial Day. There will be trail races, yoga, cornhole tournaments and ending the day with fireworks. Learn more about all the festivities on their website.
To close out Nurses Week, I want to introduce you to an outstanding nurse in Charlotte - Lisa Miller Hedin. If you remember about two months back, I was a guest at the National Kidney Foundation Spurs and Sparkles Gala. Lisa was the coordinator and host of the event, which turned out amazing in Founders Hall. In 2015, Lisa was crowned the Ms. North Carolina America title. With her platform and background in Nursing, she has sought to promote awareness and change in Charlotte for Kidney Disease and awareness.
Describe yourself in three words:
Loyal, Determined and Focused
How did you become involved with Kidney Disease:
When I was a young nursing student 25 years ago, my father came down with kidney disease. I walked into the ICU unit while he was connected to life support and there was a dialysis machine attached to him. I was devastated that my father, who was only 48 years old was dying right in front of me and his kidneys had failed. I now realize that all that pain I felt while seeing my father in such a devastated state, that was God preparing me for my purpose in life. Most times, our greatest pain in life becomes our purpose in this lifetime.
From that day forward, I have always kept kidney disease on the forefront. My career has been around my passion of kidney disease.
When I won the Ms. North Carolina America title in 2015 I knew I wanted to align with the National Kidney Foundation to get the word out. Being Ms. North Carolina America was the segway for me to make several media appearances and events to bring awareness about kidney disease in the state of North Carolina.
It was so much fun and such a pleasure to work with the staff at the National Kidney Foundation, Carolina's office. We all had the same goal and we united to achieve those goals
My motivation has always been remembering how kidney disease impacts patients and families. More people die of kidney disease than breast cancer. That statistic puts it in perspective. As I work with the NKF by educating the public on the simple screening and bring awareness, I get more motivated each day when I hear stories of the lives we saved.
What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?
When I think of professional achievement, it does not include the corner office, climbing up the corporate ladder, getting a huge bonus or getting an award. I measure my professional achievement by my happiness. I am one lucky girl to have developed a career around my passion and purpose life.
Yes at one time I wanted that corner office, but as I grow older I now understand what is important in life. What is important is being happy and at peace.
I am a Registered Nurse that specializes in kidney disease. I am currently employed as a Senior Clinical Educator for a major medical manufacturing company that manufactures kidney disease products.
I go to work everyday and it does not feel like work. I think in life, that is so important because we spend so much time at work and so many people are discontent. In my case, when work doesn't feel like work--Now that is professional achievement.
2015 was quite a year for me because of the Ms. North Carolina America title and traveling to the Ms. America pageant. It was never about the crown during my reign as Ms. North Carolina it was all about living out my purpose and bringing kidney disease to the forefront. With that being said, I didn't win the Ms. America title but I won the award that was the heart and soul of what I was trying to achieve. It was the "Woman of Distinction" award that was based on beauty, intelligence and humanitarian effort of what the American woman represents. I couldn't have been more honored that the Ms. America pageant presented me with that award.
I would also have to say the success of the National Kidney Foundation's "Spurs & Sparkles" gala. It was the first gala in Charlotte and I was honored to be chosen as the chairperson for this event. I had an incredible team of people who executed my vision. We raised a lot of money and awareness in the city of Charlotte that night. I am proud to say that we will be having another gala next year and we are currently working on the plans. So stay tuned and look for details.
What are you professional goals in the next six months?
I am going to stay right on track with what I have been doing for the last 20+ years. I am firm believer if something isn't broke--don't try to fix it.
I hope to continue to touch lives and save lives. I am excited for some events that are coming up to raise more awareness for the National Kidney Foundation, Carolinas.
June 11th-Charlotte Kidney Walk (Come walk with us)
August 15th--National Kidney Foundation-Golf Classic (Peninsula Club)
What is your goal for retirement?
My number one goal is to retire healthy so I can enjoy retirement and live out the remaining items on my bucket list.
I want no regrets on the last day of my life whenever that may be.
Do you have any advice for our readers?
As I said previously that 2015 was quite a year for me. Not because of all the things I achieved and experienced, but because it was the final stage of rebuilding my life.
I know and see so many women go through divorces and scared to death to start over. If I can give any advice to starting over is focus on one step at a time. Only do one step and do it well. For me, I had started a plan that took years to rebuild because it was one step at a time. This final stage of getting myself healthy and whole again was the final step to allow myself to open my heart for anything new that may come into my life.
Yes, I wanted to give up many times during my peaks and valleys of life. In fact, when I won Ms. North Carolina America I almost gave it up and if that would have happened I would not be here today writing this for you to read.
During those times, I had an internal flame that would not die when faced with the hardest times that no one should have to endure.
So, keep your flame going and never let it go out because one day the right circumstance will happen or someone will come into your life and say the right thing at the right time--and in my case, I had a friend look at me with such determination and told me to "Own It". That was the fuel that I needed for that flame to ignite..and the rest is history!
FOLLOW ALONG WITH LISA
Check out the National Kidney Foundation Carolinas website for all the upcoming events this year and don't forget about the annual gala that will be held in Feb-March 2017. It's an event you will not want to miss. I loved attending last year and hope to attend next year as well!
National Kidney Foundation Carolinas
The older we get, the more we value our teachers in society. We know they sacrifice so much to help our children gain an education. They struggle against common core, required testing and low pay scales – especially here in North Carolina.
But for single mothers, they are an additional life line.
I do not know what I would have done the last two years without my son’s teachers.
As single moms, we may not be able to work one-on-one as much as we want. We may not get to attend the special functions and field trips. We may have to schedule special hours for the Parent-Teacher conference because missing work may mean risking our job. They try to understand if we have to be a little late on our field trip deposit because we didn’t receive child support that month or money just got tight.
They'd do this for any family, not just the single moms. But when you're the sole person at night, it's nice to know the teachers are there to help.
I have been extra fortunate. The last two years my son has had teachers in which I have known them personally for 20 years. They knew what was going on behind our closed doors. They worked to help me when things got complicated. I could tell them in a simple email or message about his struggles because of emotional issues he was having. They worked extra hard on my son, just like they would any kid in need.
But even more importantly, they loved him extra hard for me because I knew he needed it.
Those are the teachers we have within school systems throughout the country. I am so thankful he is surrounded by love when I am not around.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Day Charlotte.
I’m extra thankful for the teachers in my son’s life.
Oh – but in true single mother fashion, your appreciation gift will come later this week. Because.. mom brain