When a Traumatic Delivery Leads to a Career as a Holistic Wellness Practitioner
“Every one of us has an internal guidance, a GPS, an intuition, a heart print, a heartsong that speaks to us. Your only job is to be able to listen and discern when it’s speaking versus your head and your personality speaking. And if you follow that you will be led to the highest good for you. Always.” - Oprah
For Sharon Elise, a holistic wellness practitioner there were two moments when she tuned into her inner GPS. One moment lead to a career as a doula and the other as an entrepreneur.
“I help people see themselves for who they want to be and to step into that space fearlessly,” Sharon said as she described her business.
Before she figured out what her business would be Sharon was working as a mental health therapist and decided to return to school to pursue a Ph.D.
“I always dreamed of being a writer, but I felt I had to get a degree for people to feel like I was an expert,” said Sharon.
Throughout the program, she felt a pull from the path she was on. It may have been because she didn’t really need another degree to become the writer she knew she was destined to become.
“Something kept telling me to quit, but who drops out of a Ph.D. program?”
Three years into the program and the voice was too loud to ignore she took the risk and returned home to live with her Mom. Sometimes we choose our joy over our paycheck. She worked at a bookstore making $8.50 an hour because it brought her joy. One year later she was hired as a therapist doing outpatient treatment and in-school therapy and it was also enjoyable work. When Sharon found out she was pregnant, she was faced with two choices; to take the six-week maternity leave or quit her job to have more time to raise her child.
Helping Others Sparked a Business Idea
With any business, the first question you ask is, What problem will I solve?
Sharon realized she could combine her background in psychology to help people refine the vision of their business and create a strategic plan to execute their ideas.
Her friend Jessica said she hated her job and wanted to learn how she could start a business of her own. Sharon intuitively created an assessment and a strategic plan to assist her in creating a business. Three years later and her friend now has a profitable event planning business, Jessica Johnson Production. This experience helped her to see the value in the skills she has obtained.
With the encouragement of her husband, Sharon launched her website to share her experiences through her writing and to offer her new service.
Sharon developed a 13 item questionnaire called the PurposeFinder™; a holistic wellness tool designed to discover the pathway to your purpose and a strategic plan to transform your life. She also offers branding, coaching and counseling services.
“I seek to empower you to live authentically, discover your purpose and create the future you dream about,” said Sharon as she described her own mission.
Turning Trauma Into a New Career
Another moment that created a new path for Sharon was motherhood. Having a baby is a life-changing moment a woman never forgets. But for Sharon, it wasn’t until she began training to become a Doula that she realized it was actually a traumatic experience.
Sharon was on state Medicaid insurance when she was pregnant causing intense fear of receiving poor service. At 8 months, her midwife took leave to care for an ailing family member. During her labor, there were lots of people in the room, lots of yelling, and even hearing statements like, “Push like you have to take a sh*t!”
While scrolling through Facebook, Sharon saw a post about a Doula training and it immediately resonated with her. She didn’t hesitate to apply.
“It was not something I was thinking about. It was not in my plan at all. But, I felt called to it. I definitely felt God placed me to be there in that space because through that training I recognized that I had experienced trauma during my delivery. Going through the training allowed me to heal.”
For Sharon, being a Doula is a way to help women understand their bodies and be able to advocate for themselves. This is particularly important for Black women.
“On a subconscious level, some aspect of my being did not want that to happen to other women,” said Sharon.
Did you know the United States has one of the highest rates of maternal deaths? And the risk of pregnancy-related deaths for black women is 3 to 4 times higher than those of white women.
“In the black community, a lot of women are not open to giving birth at home or in birthing centers. In the hospital, it is harder to speak up for yourself. You may get fearful because you’re taught doctors know what is best.”
Recently, Serena Williams wrote about her near-death experience after giving birth to her daughter Olympia. Imagine, a woman who we can say is affluent, with access to great health care services, saving her own life by knowing what was best for her body. Serena had a c-section and soon after her coughing from the pulmonary embolism caused the wound from her C-Section to open. She had to have another operation to keep any clots from getting to her lungs.
“I am so grateful I had access to such an incredible medical team of doctors and nurses at a hospital with state-of-the-art equipment...If it weren't for their professional care, I wouldn't be here today.”
Sharon has found a way to help others and still provide for her family. A beautiful combination. She is using her experiences to positively change the lives of the women she works within her business and as a Doula.
Here are Sharon’s three #SisStayReady tips for future entrepreneurs:
Identify your top-level goal: To know where you are going decide what your dream is.
Create a plan for that vision: Ask yourself what does it take to accomplish that goal. (You could create plans for 30 days, 60 days, 100 days)
Take action! Don’t let fear stop you from starting.
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