People 06 February 2018
Fatima Morken knows something about the pain of scars. A resilient songwriter and model, she has endured a divorce, and seen the effects of addiction in the home up close. The Houston, TX native sat down to talk about how her strong Christian faith helped her persevere, and share her ambition to help women improve their lives.
At age 23, Morken thought she was living her version of the American Dream. She was married to a man she loved. They already owned their dream home, and could afford to take overseas trips annually. Although blessed financially, Morken’s marriage abruptly ended in a divorce.
In the wake of the divorce, Morken set out to find her voice again. She spent time in therapy, prayer, and leaned on Scripture daily.
“The divorce was shocking and excruciatingly painful," says Morken. "I am now free and healed — the happiest and most fulfilled I have ever been. I bask in the fact that God will never break his promises to me. His immeasurable love and forgiveness rebuilt me, and empowers me every day.”
Morken also understands the helplessness associated with watching a family member struggle with alcoholism, and gambling. It nearly destroyed her home. It’s common for a family dealing with addiction to experience codependency, and even low self-esteem. The Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization refers to this family dysfunction as “sick thinking” which needs to be repaired daily. Morken turned to her faith again. In time, she learned it wasn’t her fault. In difficult times, her love of music has been a refuge. Her own painful experiences have helped the songwriter connect with deeper human emotions in her lyrics. She draws artistic inspiration from stories of strength, triumph, love and pain — much like her own story. Her musical influences include Celine Dion and French pop artist Lara Fabian. In her late 20s, after a dissatisfying career in education, she received an opportunity to train with Actors Models and Talent for Christ, a faith-based talent development ministry. AMTC has launched the careers of artists such as Megan Fox, Miley Cyrus and country music star Chris Young. The SHINE Conference — an invitation-only event in Orlando, Fla. — gave Morken the chance to perform in front of industry executives, and a platform to launch her career.
“I make sure everyone I meet feels important, valued, unique, special, but above all LOVED. I want to make a huge difference with my music by telling it like it is — writing lyrics totally based in personal experiences and beauty.”
The artist is also modeling as a way to tell her story, and help women find their own strength.
As the USA model for two French clothing lines, La Cotonniére and Dakidaya, Morken’s job depends greatly on her appearance. In the age of makeup, professional editing and social media, it can be easy to view models as flawless. It’s her goal to help change this perception of beauty by showing authenticity. She chooses projects with minimal makeup, and is open with fans on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The model is proud of her imperfections, including a scar on her left leg.
“It is sometimes assumed models have no physical defects," says Morken. "We are not perfect! The scar is my trademark and I am very proud of it! I don’t let my imperfections keep me from achieving my goals.”On top of everything else, Morken is also a polyglot, fluent in English, Spanish and Italian; intermediate in French and Portuguese and learning German. In spite of her natural language skills, she still faces ignorance when it comes to her intelligence. “I let people discover their own stereotypes [about models] are incorrect,” she says of the negative comments she sometimes receives on set.
When asked about her opportunity to make a difference as an artist, Morken’s eyes lit up with excitement. In addition to volunteering through her church, she gives her time and talents to aspiring models with style advice. It’s an opportunity to help women feel beautiful. She hopes her story will encourage women in all walks of life to overcome, even if life seems bleak at the moment.
“I just want people to see that one doesn’t have to be perfect for things to work out," Morken remarks.
4 min read
One of the few things I remember from grade school biology is the concept of tropism. In plain language, tropism is the reaction of a living thing, like a plant, towards a stimulus like sunlight or heat. You've likely seen this before but just didn't recognize it for what it was. If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action. The plant is bending towards the sunlight.
If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action.
In our everyday lives, we are all inundated with stimuli throughout the day. The driver in front of us that stalls at the yellow light and zooms through the red light, leaving us behind to wait. Or the customer service rep that leaves us on hold for an ungodly amount of time, only for the call to prematurely drop. There are so many examples both common and unique to our individual lives. The trouble begins when we form the habit of responding to everything — particularly negative stimuli. By doing this, our mental peace is disrupted and diverted making us slaves to whatever happens to happen. Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us. Now take that concept and multiply it by the number of things that can happen in a day, week, or month. What happens to you mentally with so many emotional pivots?
For me, the result is: Restlessness. Anxiety. Sleepness. Mindless Eating. Everything besides peace of mind.
Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us.
Earlier this year, something pretty trivial happened to me. I'm sure this has happened to you at some point in your life also. I was walking through a door and, as I always do, glanced back and held the door longer and wider than normal for the person coming behind me. My gracious gesture was met with silence — no thank you, no smile, not even a nod. I remember being so annoyed at this travesty of justice. How dare they not acknowledge me and thank me for holding the door? After all, I didn't have to do it. I know I spent the next few hours thinking about it and probably even texted a few friends so that they could join in on my rant and tell me how right I was to be upset. In hindsight, I should not have allowed this pretty petty thing to occupy my mind and heart, but I did. I let it shake my peace.
I've since taken some classes on mindfulness and what I've learned (and I'm still learning) is the art of being aware — being aware of the present and my feelings. Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy. We're all human and having emotions is part of the deal but as mindful adults, it's critically important to choose what you're going to care about and let everything else pass along. There are several tools on the market to help with this but the Headspace app has really helped me in my mindfulness journey. The lessons are guided and coupled with some pretty cute animations.
Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy.
Over the course of the next week, I'd like to challenge you to pay more attention to your reactions. How aware are you of how you allow your environment to affect you? Are you highly reactive? Do you ruminate for hours or even days on events that are insignificant in your life? If so, practicing a bit of mindfulness may be the way to go.