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Seeing a World Beyond Your Expectations


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Dena McMillon-Billups is a creative artist, author, illustrator, and advocate for vulnerable communities. She is passionate about helping women rise above adversity and see beyond the limited mindsets they’ve lived with. She strives to educate those working in child welfare so they can help children shed negative beliefs before it becomes a part of who they are. 

Listen to this episode of Motivational Mondays to hear how Dena strives to bridge the gap for marginalized communities by helping people find their voice.

Why Dena wrote Naked: Stripping to the Core in 40 Days

Dena has a painting of a little girl hanging on her wall with “binding words” written across her lips. One reason she wrote her book is to help women learn to tell their own stories and not let others write their narrative. Her book helps women find their worth and their words through a 40-day journal. It’s about stripping past labels to see who you are.

Expanding leadership opportunities by eradicating the “poverty mindset”

A poverty mindset is the idea that people are influenced by negative thoughts and limited by negative belief systems. If you believe those negative mindsets, they can keep you from moving forward in life.

You have to break the cycle of the limiting beliefs you’re being bombarded with and create a new narrative for yourself. This begins by teaching people how to find their words so they can see their self-worth; this is a core reason why Dena wrote her book.

It’s also why Dena is passionate about education for those working in child welfare. Children are impressionable and often believe what adults tell them about themselves. They internalize both positive and negative thoughts, and it shapes their beliefs about themselves.

Bridging the gap between resources and marginalized communities

Dena notes that it’s important to invest in yourself. She invested in training so she could understand the concepts that are impactful in people’s lives. There are many coaching models you can use. When Dena coined her concept, “Activate Right Thinking,” it stemmed from the art of perception. 

When Dena works with people to heal communities, she asks them to look at the cover art on her book and tell her what they see. Someone saw spaghetti and scrambled eggs, someone else saw wood, and another saw a person praying. When you know how you perceive things, it can have a powerful impact on your life. Activating Right Thinking is about learning to ask the right questions to find out how you perceive the world.

Listen to this episode to learn about...

  • [0:51] Why Dena wrote her book, Naked: Stripping to the Core in 40 Days
  • [2:59] How Dena used her experience to become a mentor to teen mothers
  • [8:36] The mission of Dena’s program, Activate Right Thinking (ART)
  • [10:55] Expanding leadership opportunities by eradicating the “poverty mindset”
  • [14:24] Bridging the gap between resources and marginalized communities 
  • [19:44] Dena’s personal story about becoming a mother

Listen to the bonus episode to learn how Dena’s six-year-old son keeps her young and the importance of not getting stuck in life.