Is Your Past Defining You? Please read my story.


Do not let your shadow walk you.  You are not a slave of the past.

~ Dodinsky

If you’ve ever allowed your past to define you, please allow me to share some brief snippets of my story:

I grew up in a little trailer in a little town. Now, I live in a penthouse (actually, it’s a condo on the top floor, but penthouse sounds more glamorous:).

I grew up eating fried chicken and processed cheese straight out of the wrapper. Now, I prefer filet mignon and pungent cheeses like Epoisses (but, I still love fried chicken).

I was raised in a church that forbade jewelry, makeup, and ladies wearing jeans. Now, I rock all three with grace and confidence.

I dropped out of high school at seventeen. Then, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Boston University.

I was married at 18. Then, I divorced and learned how to love myself first.

20 years ago, I had no clue who Coco Chanel was. Now, she is one of my greatest idols (and a woman who didn’t live in her past.)

15 years ago, my accent was so thick that I pronounced “chest of drawers” as “Chester drawers.” Now, I speak in front of packed audiences across the country knowing that everyone in the room can understand me.

I went to sommelier school. The first day, I pronounced rosé like the flower, which resulted in a burst of laughter from the class. I ended up passing the blind tasting with flying colors and aced the final. Who’s laughing now, darlings?

10 years ago, I had no idea what an ROI or a P:E ratio stood for. Now, I’m a learning to be a savvy investor.

For a decade, I served as a critical care nurse, tending to hearts and lives. Now, I run a company that inspires both.

My body once carried 75 extra pounds and earned me the nickname “blimp.”  Now, I’m a healthy size 6.

Why am I telling you this? Because some people think that I’ve always had it together – that I came out of the womb wearing Chanel and sipping Champagne.


That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’ve come a long, long way.  In fact, I’m a completely difference woman.  Sometimes, it amazes even me.

So, while I talk of all things French, joie de vivre, travel, style and lipstick, it wasn’t too long ago that my life was void of these beautiful things.

I am a woman who knows the pain of loss, understands feeling paralyzed, has lived through countless amounts of shame and guilt and is no stranger to sleepless nights.

I also know that if I, a girl that grew up in the Deep South in trailer parks, can cultivate myself and live confidently in a world that I absolutely adore, there is no reason why you can’t do the same.

It’s all between your ears. Every bit of it.

If you can change that, you can change your world– and that of many others, too.

Here’s another truth that I’ve learned along the way:

You get to tell the story of your past.  Make it a fairytale, not a nightmare. (tweet it)

I see my past as a beautiful part of who I am – adding texture and vibrancy to my soul.  The years I struggled most were the same years that my past was my prison.

How you interpret your past will impact your future.

So, my question to you is:  what part of your history do you need to rewrite?

Please share in the comments below.

With a sincere heart,

(P.S. After numerous requests, I’ve finally opened up some space to work with me privately, either virtually or in-person.  If this is something your soul fancies, email

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12 Responses to Is Your Past Defining You? Please read my story.

  1. Hiya
    I just wanted to let you know that your posts are so inspiring. They have come just at the right time for me having realised that I had let what I do work wise define me. After several friends pointed out my exhausted countenance I decided to slow down, this was when I discovered your website. It’s brill, thank you xxx

    • Jacqui,

      Thank you for stopping by and your kind words. And, congrats on slowing down. A brave act for a busy lady.

  2. A tragic childhood with criticism and limits spoken over me became an embedded “truth”; though I was spirited and exhibited toughness to disprove what was stated, I still felt that my value was less than nothing. It was evident in the guys I dated who further contributed to that “truth”. I thought I wasn’t good enough to have “real” friendships, so I became a loner.

    My value was connected to my paycheck, and without that I was “nothing”. I didn’t have a lot growing up, but I enjoyed nature, art and science greatly. This is where I found joy and eventually met others who loved the same.

    In fact, last night I sat on the porch while hubby watched t.v. The trees sparkled with fire flies (like a lot of them-beautiful!) and the frogs in the pond sang. I was reminded of the impact I have had in the past on co-workers, friends and acquaintances. As of late, I have needed this reminder.

    The biggest thing I would change about my past is building true, valuable friendships in spite of someone else’s “truth”. I would have thrown that into the fire many years ago before I did so that I am free and knowing that it is more than okay to be who I am. Cookie-cutters are for making cookies, not people.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate your authenticity so much.

  3. You’re an inspiration – by embracing your truth and loving who you are you’re offering us the same. Way to go girl friend!!

  4. Wow, Tonya, this is so beautiful.

    I am currently in the process of looking at my past, habits, patterns and all and how they inform and influence how I act and the decisions I make today. I am making beautiful shifts in this arena. But what it is also so beautiful is that I remind myself that I am standing on that girl’s shoulders and it has all been perfect.

  5. How do you reinvent youself? What are the first steps you took? Love your blog by the way. Did you really lose 74 lbs. WithOut surgery?

  6. oh, wow, this is SO SO amazing!! thank you for opening up and sharing yourself. it really inspires me that, yes, i’m NOT defined by my past and that in this moment, i create WHO i am…but, what i’m starting to learn…just like you said here, is yes, i needed my past to make me WHO i am today. amazing how that works!! something i’m starting to connect more and more with and something i’m really starting to connect the dots more and more. everything you write always inspires me!! always!! thank you!!

  7. Wow! I’m a girl from a tiny town in the hills of Tennessee. I’m also a nurse but for special needs babies. I almost flunked out of high school, married at age 17 and had my daughter. Now it’s 20 years later and for the most part I’ve let go of negative traits of my past. I graduated Valedictorian in my nursing school many years ago and that helped me realize I can break out of the mold. Thanks so much for sharing your story and reinforcing so much positivity 🙂

  8. I guess I would re-write the belief that I am not good enough…not pretty enough, not smart enough, not skinny enough. I would try to stop the statement that is always in the back of my mind….I’m not worth anything. Now, I’m 62 and wondering…”now what?”

  9. Tonya,

    This is incredibly eye opening. I am only 24, but have been through so much hell in my life already. In the last few months I have come to realize that I cannot let my past define me. As far as re-writing it, I’m not really sure where to start. I look back and I had everything I ever needed. I’m slowly realizing my worth is not in my paycheck or the guys I date, but in what I bring to the table. Any tips on where to start to re-write your story??

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