By: Joe Cardoso
At some point in our lives we will get punched in the face when we least expect it and how we react to is what is most important, will you lay down and give up or get up and fight. From all the different things thrown at us from personal demons to news, social media life in today’s world can be tough and scary. The stigmas over mental health and other issues only now are we seeing these stereotypes thawing out with a long way still to go. With that being said, our feature this month is a young lady who was knocked down and got back up off the mat. Instead of keeping her fight to herself, she has shared her story with others and is always looking for ways to help even more. With a sense of adventure that can include jumping out of airplanes. Maybe follow it up with fighting wildfires or giving much deserving military vets a hand. Oh, and she happens to be a published author of two books with a third on the way. Coming to us from the lone star state of Texas introducing Alysia Rieg!
AR: I have always had a servant’s heart. But it wasn’t until I became an adult and had gone through the valleys having walked my journey scared and in the dark , that I realized my tragedy was not just for me and my benefit, but it was for others to use as a beacon of hope or a flicker of light at the end of their dark tunnel. I wasn’t going to allow my many tears cried, my broken heart, my sleepless nights, my loss to be in vain. So, as I went through all of it, I sought to learn and I did. I learned of my worth, I discovered I was valuable and I had a purpose. I learned that my life mattered and I was the only me in the world, and my purpose on this earth was not just for me but it was a part of a greater picture.There are so many hurting people in this world. There are so many deceived and lost people, and so many people who don’t know that they too are valuable and worthy or that they even matter. Nor do they understand that their life and journey to has a purpose which is necessary for a greater picture, a greater purpose. I know all too well what it feels like to not be seen or to not be heard and not counted. I know what it feels like to feel and to be all alone, scared, and obscure. I don’t want others to remain in this state that I once was buried deep in. So I give got back up and began to fight by giving of myself, my time, my efforts, and my money to like-minded organizations that were in the same fight I was in. I chose to align myself with organizations whose missions I believed in. Some of the organizations I volunteer with are Team Rubicon, 22 Kill, Mission Volant, Merging Vets and Players, Team Red White & Blue and the Travis Manion Foundation to name a few.
I have recently started my own non-profit organization, The Hour Glass Initiative with my business partner. Our organization is in the fight against suicide, depression, and anxiety. Too many people today are taking their lives and not fulfilling the purpose for which they were created. So I (we) want to fight for those who are unable to fight for themselves and help them grow stronger so that they too can fight for themselves and then do the same for others.
AR: I often ask myself that question. I just turned 46 years old and I am still being asked to represent companies, products or to be featured in magazines. As everyone knows, I am a believer of the Bible and in the book of Joel and in the Psalms, it says, “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…” and “I will prepare a table before your enemies.”Growing up I was called names and picked on because I was always the smallest, I had frizzy hair and buck teeth. When I was 15 years old I was asked to be a part of a big name modeling agency in San Francisco, my parents were going through a divorce and I lived in Dallas and was unable to be in San Francisco on a regular basis. Then when I was 19 years old, I was going to college in Hawaii and was asked to be in a swimsuit magazine, and my mother who I was living with, would not allow me to because I had to focus on college. I was then asked by another agency to go to NYC to find an agent, again my mother said no. I always wondered, ”What if?” Fast forward 19 more years, I went through my divorce, and during my divorce, my ex-husband would tell me how much better and prettier the female who was 10 years younger than me was better than me. All of the negative words people spoke over me began to ingrain in my mind. I didn’t think or believe I was pretty or that there was a possibility that I could be pretty. So I decided, if I couldn’t be pretty on the outside, then I would work very hard to be as beautiful as I could on the inside. Going through my divorce and in my healing, I prayed, “God, if you could, please make me pretty, even for one day.” It’s funny how just wanting to be pretty isn’t a part of vanity but a part of wanting to be liked, accepted or even to be seen as worthy. God heard my prayer and it His voice that would always whisper to me, telling me that I was enough and that I was beautifully and wonderfully made just as I was the moment He created and formed me in my mother’s womb. He then began to send random strangers on my path who would tell me I was beautiful in the moments I felt the ugliest and worthless and not worthy of being loved. All of a sudden, it seemed as if the world was telling me I was enough and that I was pretty. I slowly began to listen to it. One day, I decided that I didn’t need to be a victim anymore and that I needed to do something for myself even if was to just change my scenery. So, from crying on the couch every day to go to the gym I went. There as I walked on the treadmill, crying and wiping my tears in hopes that those who saw me would mistaken my tears for sweat, I set a goal. I chose a goal that I knew nothing about, I didn’t know how to get to it and it was the hardest goal I could set for myself. The goal I set was to compete in a bodybuilding competition and to compete on my 40th birthday, which was four and a half months away. My goal was not to win, just to compete and I did. After that God brought people into my life who saw me worthy enough to be a part of their projects, who asked to take my photos. These photos showed me that I was pretty and only further ingrained in my mind that like God said, I was enough. Not only did the photos show me that I was pretty and slowly helped in the rebuilding of my self-esteem but a couple of them got me my first feature in an internationally published magazine, Fitness Gurls.
The verse in Joel and in Psalms had come to pass. Everyone who told me I was ugly, who told me I wasn’t enough, that my dreams as a child could no longer come to pass, had now become my reality. I didn’t have to say to those who tried to keep me down, “Ha, I told you so.” because God did it for me and He did it on a grander scale than I could. The ugly duckling had transformed into a swan. And because of this, I began empowering other women and girls even though I still get judged but now I get called different names because I am now confident and I do see myself as beautiful both on the inside and the outside but more so because I became because I did believe what God told me I was.
Part of my story, my loss, and my hurt sources from PTSD that the veterans in my life suffer from and live with on a daily basis. I don’t want my loss or the loss that my children endured to be fruitless nor in vain, so I fight back and fight for those veterans, their loved ones and their families who lost their loved one(s) in one way or another. I might not be able to fight in a military uniform because of my age but I can fight for our veterans and active-duty personnel in the way I live my life and in how I serve others.
AR: My first book, For Such A Time As This, was laid on my heart by God. During my healing process, I saw so many going through what I just went through so I wanted to write a “How to” book, if you will, on how to go from being a victim to an overcomer. I share my story transparently as well as how I overcame it along with a 30-day workout and a 30-day meal plan. It’s the workout I did during my healing, it’s perfect for anyone just starting out or returning to the gym. So many books say “I was a victim and I overcame” but they don’t tell you how to get to the victory. I teach in my first book how to become the victor.My next book, Obscure to Secure, is to be published next year and I am writing it to help those who are suffering from depression who think their life does not matter and who want to end their life. In John 10:10 lt says, “The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.” The enemy did this to me. So I am now fighting back and helping others to live, to fight back so they too can help others who need hope, light or someone to help carry the burden and to get through.
THANK YOU, Joe, for choosing me for this interview, Thank you for asking me to share part of my story. Thank you for your time. I am honored.