I remember being 5 years old in my kindergarten class, I’d look over my right shoulder and see a sad little boy, he smelled awful, kind of like dried urine. He always looked so unhappy and didn’t talk and while all the other kids made fun of him and teased him, I remember hurting for him.
One day, coming back from recess, the class stopped at the water fountain. The kids around him were teasing him, making fun of him, saying, “you stink” “you’ll never have any friends” and other unkind words.
I could feel their disgust and they didn’t care what they were doing to this little boy. I knew this wasn’t right. Knowing full well what I was about to do would turn them against me too, I pushed through the taunting crowd, turned to my classmates and said, “I’ll be his friend.”
Someone had to do it. Someone had to stand up and be this small, wounded boys friend. It didn’t matter to me how weird or smelly he was, he deserved to feel safe and loved.
On some level, I must have said, “Oh shit…I’m willing to do the right thing at my expense.” I believe that’s when I learned I could NOT just sit and watch other people hurting and if I didn’t help others, I’d feel horrible.
This is how I learned early on, my purpose in life was to help others.
My mom always told me “You’ve always been for the underdog and shown love where other people couldn’t, wouldn’t or didn’t.”
I instinctively knew, when people were hurting, they hurt other people…and if people could stop hurting, they would stop hurting each other.
Another incident happened when I was 15, working checkout at a local grocery store, I asked a man, “how are you today” he proceeded to tell me exactly how he felt. I remember thinking, “Wow dude, I’m only 15, I was just being polite and kind of expecting the usual “I’m good thanks for asking.” I vividly recall “knowing” and completely feeling and empathizing with this man. I was easily able to respond with words that soothed his soul. That day, a simple “how are you” created a deep connection, which led to this man honoring me with a graduation present, one which I cherish and have to this day.
This connection was my first realization I held a safe place for people without meaning to. I knew this was a gift and I was somehow different than other people. I didn’t know back then how I would use this ‘gift’. What I did know was I had to help others who were struggling. After all, it was easy to listen and it made me happy to see others feel better. It was a win-win!
Hoping to become a Speech Language Pathologist, I enrolled in the University of Oklahoma’s Communications Disorders program and received my Bachelor’s degree. Unfortunately, during my clinicals, I realized my hearing impairment (It was when I was failing second grade they first realized I couldn’t hear) prevented me from giving proper assessments. So, moving on to plan B, I went to Texas Women’s University and earned a Masters in Special Education and began teaching Elementary and then High School in the inner city.
In 2001, my son was born and I chose the most important job; full-time mom. In 2003, my daughter was born and I continued dedicating my life to raising my children.
Once my routine with my children was set, it became clear I needed something for Me again.
With the encouragement of my yoga teacher, (I first started practicing yoga on my own when I was 20 and later began taking classes) I went through a 200 and 500 hour yoga teacher training program over a 3 year period and became a certified yoga teacher.
I decided to specialize in serving “special populations” which once again brought me back to helping and serving others.
In 2007, craving a community of like-minded people, I opened my own yoga studio. I designed, created and began teaching my own therapeutically-based teacher-training-program. I also created a yoga training program for people in recovery from addictions; with an emphasis on healing physical and emotional trauma. Again, understanding that hurting people, hurt people.
Forever a student, over the years I learned Ayurveda, Reiki, and Vedic Astrology. I had all a girl could dream of (on the outside), but inside I was drained from saying yes to everyone else at my expense.
In my desire to serve and help others, I often found myself in unhealthy and too many times, abusive situations. I slowly learned, being a high-achiever and People-Pleaser was an attempt to help me feel valued, and control situations so I wouldn’t feel abandoned.
In 2012, unhappy and totally stressed, I left my marriage and (shortly thereafter) lost my yoga studio (along with my community and most of my “friends”).
I entered into several romantic relationships, re-creating unhealthy patterns I’d been accustomed to throughout my life.
I hit an all-time low, I was completely lost and devastated, and frankly, for the first time in my life, didn’t like myself very much because I knew my choices had brought me here.
On my knees, I realized it was time to take a close look in the mirror and make some much needed changes. So, I hired a Life Coach and enrolled in a Life coach Training program based on Neuro-science at the Gardner Institute. This enabled me to pin-point my limiting beliefs and discover specific areas in my life where I was holding myself back.
This began the transformation from a People-Pleasing doormat to an empowered Bad-Ass with strong, healthy boundaries. Transformed, I could now begin living the life I knew I deserved.
Hiring a Life Coach kept me accountable and I learned how to put myself first, which as a People-Pleaser was very uncomfortable.
The process was much like dancing the Cha Cha, one step forward, two steps back. I quickly realized my natural tendency was to fall back into my old self-limiting beliefs and habits. So, with the support of my coach, I began to practice my new tools and skills over and over again, until my brain began to change and I was taking more steps forward than back. As my brain began to change, so did my life.
Naturally these new skills became additional tools I could add to my “helping others” tool box and so here I am.
I’m blessed and grateful to have the experiences and the tools to help others, but more importantly, I’m excited and astounded that the idea of putting myself first isn’t some far away dream, but now a reality.
I’ve learned how important it is to give myself oxygen first. I find now I can help others while my energy reserves remain strong.
If you identify as a People-Pleaser this may sound next to impossible, but, it’s not, I’ve proven it.
We are capable of accomplishing most anything we set our minds to.
YOU can do anything you set your mind to.
My intention is to inspire others to do what I have accomplished. The little girl in me still believes we can create a world that is more supportive one person at a time. If we believe it, work for it and achieve it, we can inspire others to do the same.