My Bittersweet Bio

20161112_164249Writing a bio was harder than writing my whole book. By definition a bio is “an account of someone’s life written by someone else,” but everyone secretly knows that you really write your own bio. Well written bios make me happy; unfortunately, I don’t have one that is well written. I wanted to title this post “My Bipolar Bio” because when I talk about my life I often feel like I’m discussing two different people. My bio is bittersweet, it feels like a half truth, it’s sterile, and my life has consisted of many messy moments. To read my actual bio click on the ABOUT page of my website.

Bios in which highly qualified people don’t mention their credentials are probably my favorite. People who have earned the right to brag, usually don’t. People who are trying to conceal their weakness seem to write lengthy bios in an effort to compensate for what they lack. Be forewarned, this post will be long but it is not to compensate for what I lack. Its purpose is to expose what would be easy for me to cover.

My Bittersweet Bio

Toya Poplar was raised in a small town filled with big dreams. Her hometown is where I-96 ends and Lake Michigan begins. Muskegon is surrounded by water, it’s shoreline hydrates the soul. Though she spent years beholding the beauty of the lake, Toya never learned to swim. Much like her life she watched others be refreshed by something she only gave herself permission to admire from afar.

Toya grew up in poverty, not just a lack of finances, but a deficit within her soul. She never learned to dance, play piano or do a cart-wheel. When she encountered those who did, she marveled at their courage. She graduated from high school and was awarded many scholarships. As a freshman at Eastern Michigan University she embraced activism (towards social justice) and let go of her focus (towards education). Losing her scholarships led her to Washtenaw Community College where she rediscovered her passion for learning and worked hard to obtain an associate degree.

By her last semester in college she was unwed and pregnant. She graduated, moved to Nashville, and lived with the father of her child. She was depressed, discouraged, and disappointed with herself. After trying everything she knew to be good enough, she surrendered her life to Christ and found peace within. She was married at Davidson County Courthouse on a Friday, just before they closed. It was nothing like she had imagined as a small town girl dreaming big dreams.  “Anticlimactic” is how she describes it but, admits that it was the antidote to her shame.

She and her husband Melvin are living out their happily ever after in a tiny town nestled in North Alabama. They have 6 children. Toya counseled at a crisis pregnancy center, it was there that she found purpose for her pain. The Poplars became marriage counselors, known for sharing their unglamorous wedding story. They encourage couples to focus on the quality of their marriage and not just the details of their ceremony. 

As a single, unwed, and pregnant college student; Toya made herself a promise that someday she would further her education. She blinked and her oldest son that was conceived while in college, was entering college himself. This day was filled with bittersweet tears. Happy that her baby boy was headed to college but sad that she didn’t continue her education. The lies that bombarded her seemed unbearable, until something clicked on the inside. Life is not defined by merit but meaning. Her son’s start did not have to be her end.

My Perspective

Someone else’s victory is not your defeat. Things won’t always go as planned. A change of plans provides you with an opportunity to overcome. People can learn far more from your weaknesses than they ever can from your strengths. Don’t conceal what needs to be exposed, and be certain not to reveal what might become a stumbling block to others. Braggadocio sets people up to feel like they are failing by simply playing the hand they have been dealt. Your story is still being written, so be sure to co-write with conviction. Transparency and truth are a catalyst to set people free. Thank you for taking the time to read this memoir. God bless, and be sure to always tell your truth.

If you were to write a Bittersweet Bio what would it say? Feel free to email your response to:


7 thoughts on “My Bittersweet Bio

    1. I enjoyed reading your bio Toya! In fact, I love reading everything that you write! I love the way you think, verbalize it and pen it on paper!!! You are so gifted and talented! Thank you for sharing your special gifts!!!
      Much love to you and your family!😘😄


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