She is tall, poised, striking. She is an image consultant and speaker. She has a confidence that comes from a deep place within her…there’s no shallow facade.
This is my consistent experience of Dianne, whom I have known for at least 10 years.
And if you know her today, you’d never guess that at a young age, Dianne experienced incest at the hands of her father and older brother (both of whom are deceased).
[It didn’t hurt and I wasn’t scared. I’ve heard so many survivor stories filled with violence and shame and other awful things, but none of that was true for me. I didn’t make it mean anything about me.]
After her father died when she was nine, Dianne’s relationship with her mother was one of contrasts and contradictions.
[My mother was both my best friend and my harshest critic. I worshipped the ground she walked on. She could do no wrong. And then I found out she was human and that she didn’t have all the answers…it was partly over time that I realized this, but I think it started when I understood that if I had told her about what happened to me, I am not sure if she would or could have done anything to stop it.
As I grew up, I learned that I better not disagree or say certain things…because if my mother didn’t like you, you were done. She was a yeller and her tongue was so sharp it could cut you to ribbons. She was famous for saying, “It’s my house, my rules. If you don’t like it, let the doorknob hit you where the good Lord split you. Goodbye.” I didn’t want to risk it.]
I felt like I never quite measured up and at the same time, especially later in life, she was proud of me for achieving what she herself hadn’t been able to.]
Dianne used to take a lot of what her mother said personally.
[She said the worst thing I could be was fat, black, and nappy-headed. I was all of those things. Food = love. Whoever got the most was loved the most. So I tried to keep up with my older brother.]
Now she tells herself a better story.
[Inside of me is a stubborn refusal to blindly accept other people’s definitions of who I am. And the world needs that.]
Although she grew up with the black-and-white “you’re either with me or against me” attitude of her mother, Dianne chooses to embrace shades of gray.
[I am more likely to accept someone’s difference of opinion with me without throwing them out of my life. For instance, I have some good friends with whom I have many political differences of opinion. That doesn’t mean they can’t be my friends, it means we have a difference of opinion, and that’s okay. My mother tended to “cut people off” if they didn’t agree with her most of the time – this included her children!]
Like many daughters who have become mothers, Dianne made a choice to parent differently than she was parented.
[I made a conscious decision that my kids could disagree with me if they wanted to.]
(Dianne’s daughter, Ariana, who sat in on the interview, verified this: “She may not always agree with me, but she always respects me.”)
She also consciously chooses to mother herself:
[I do this by being selfish in a healthy way. I grew up thinking I had to do for others before I could do for myself. Doing something just for me wasn’t in anyone’s vocabulary. Now I take classes that I enjoy, just because; I cook and eat food that is not only healthy for me, but also because I really LIKE cooking; I buy clothing that flatters my “right now” body, not the one I wish I had or the one I’m working towards. I chose my latest hairdo (dreadlocks) and I KNOW my mother would have disapproved, but that’s okay – I wanted them.
I choose to support causes and organizations that I believe in, not necessarily what my friends agree with, or my husband agrees with. I have the right to do what I want to do with MY money – and choose where it’s spent.]
Dianne’s advice for resilient daughters:
[You are not your mother! You have a different frame of reference, different experiences, and that’s okay. You do not have to be defined by your mother…or by anything that has happened to you. Also? Mothers are human. They make mistakes.]
Dianne is a resilient daughter and an empowered woman.
[Resilience is being able to define yourself as a separate and independent person while acknowledging your mother’s example and influence.]
She’s All That
Dianne is The Diva Style Coach… “an irrationally passionate coach, consultant, and speaker whose heart’s desire is to help remove the stigma surrounding weight-loss surgery and empower patients to achieve more than physical weight loss.”
She is married to Aaron, mother to Ron and Ariana, and stepmother to Christopher.
She grew up in Detroit, MI.
She serves as the Democrat Registrar of Voters in her home city of Norwich, CT, where she has lived since 1993.
She says she “came out of her shell” at the age of 12 when her mother took her to a taping of Kelly & Co. (WXYZ-TV in Detroit) and the newscaster handed her a microphone and asked her a question. “I got that microphone in my hand and I wouldn’t shut up.” The question? “How do you feel good about yourself when people talk bad about you?” Even then she was searching for answers to low self-esteem and little did she know she’d be building a business later in life around that very subject!
She loves old houses (she owns and lives in one that was built in 1850) and is known for her trademark high heels.
This woman has reframed her past to work for her. It no longer holds her back but is a source of clarity and motivation in her present life. Would you like to release the story that holds you back and tell yourself a new, more powerful one so you can live up to your potential?
Reframe your past, make good on your future: The Transformational Interview.