Hey There Soul Sister!
My name is Melissa – I am a psychology graduate, turned interior designer, turned yoga teacher, turned brand designer, now life coach and I am here to tell you that your life can be whatever you want it to be!
Just like you, I have experienced a long and winding road full of question marks, epiphanies and challenges to get to where I am today. Along the way there have been many perceived obstacles but ultimately my journey has been one filled with lessons, love and self-discovery. It hasn’t always been easy but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
By telling you my story, I hope to inspire you to view your own life as a journey whose path you get to choose at every given moment. So grab yourself a cuppa and get comfy, cuz girrrl, it’s long story…
In my younger years I lacked direction. I had a habit of “shoulding” myself and trying to fit myself into a box. It took me 31 years to realise that they do not make Melissa-shaped boxes. They actually don’t make anyone-shaped boxes, in case you are searching for your *insert name here* box.
I “shoulded” myself into Leeds University, even though I really didn’t want to go, and in 2010 I found myself in my last year of studying a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Psychology had always intrigued me. I studied it at A-Level for two years and loved it but it was the objective, analytic nature of the BSc Hons Degree that I couldn’t stand! I am very stubborn so I refused to give up as it dawned on me that a career in Psychology would be all about control groups and statistics. I gritted my teeth and got on with it for three long years, all the while I could feel my soul shrinking. When I look back now, I can see that this is because I was trying to be who I thought I should be and not being true to myself. I was so worried about what other people would think if I dropped out that I forced myself to be someone I knew deep down I wasn’t…. Can you relate? As a result, I was truly and profoundly miserable throughout my early-mid twenties. I found various ways to hide from my unhappiness, none of which were healthy (more on that toxic spiral of self-loathing another time).
The light at the end of the tunnel during my darkest days was always the trip around the world I had promised myself. Yep, I’m a travel-junkie and the only thing that got me through my time studying Psychology was daydreaming about the globetrotting I could do when I graduated.
Much to my dismay, my globetrotting was postponed because I had to make the most difficult and scary decision of my life. I have severe Scoliosis, a condition I was diagnosed with when I was 14. Over the years, I had denied that there was something seriously wrong with my spine but by the time I was 22, I was in so much pain that I could hardly walk let alone ignore it any longer. I finally chose to listen to what my body was screaming out to me and on the 18th February 2011, I underwent serious spinal fusion surgery. I now have two chrome rods and 13 titanium screws in my thoracic spine. This experience is a huge part of my life story and it deserves its own limelight, so for now, let’s just say that this time in my life was hell on Earth (for multiple reasons). At the time it was unbearable but when I look back now, I see that it taught me resilience.
After my recovery, in August 2012, I finally set off on a 12 month round the world trip…on my own…with no phone. I needed to be alone. I was hell bent on a voyage of emotional recovery and self-discovery. I needed to figure out who I was and what to do next with this Psychology degree I had attained out of pride not passion. I thought I stood more of a chance at finding myself on a beach in Thailand than in a nightclub in Leeds, so off I went.
I spent a year having the time of my life, making a myraid of friends from all over the world and soaking up the culture of 25 countries across 4 different continents. As this year of escapism ran its course, I was no closer to knowing what to do with my life… but I was much closer to my overdraft. I was forced to return to reality and came crashing down with a bang!
It wasn’t until I returned home and eventually pulled myself out of the “back at home again blues” that I landed a job selling show homes and finally realised… I am a Creative!! I won the job because my background in Psychology and my friendly nature made me the perfect sales-person but my role also involved helping clients to design their dream homes. During these design specification meetings, I discovered I had a natural flair for pulling together interior design schemes that my clients loved and what’s more, I loved doing it. Isn’t it wonderful when you discover your hidden talents?
Once the penny finally dropped, I understood why I had always struggled with objective science and I instantly felt better about myself. I realised I needed a creative outlet to be happy and feel fulfilled, so I decided to follow my newfound passion and I enrolled in college to study interior design. The creativity I had buried deep down inside of me and hidden away from the world began to flourish as I transformed into a budding Interior designer.
After graduating, I found work experience at an award-winning interior design studio in the picturesque Lake District! My work experience turned into an apprenticeship and my apprenticeship turned into a Junior Designer role. I gained a wealth of knowledge and experience working on residential, commercial and investment property project for high-end clients; it was a steeeeep learning curve! After my time working there, I ran my first solo project with my Dad for our family’s property development company. I spent a year working with him renovating an 18th Century Church Hall into 4 rental houses and learning the ropes of how to run a full scale project myself. The result was fabulous and the properties were rented before they even went on the market but I emerged…not sure if I wanted to pursue a career in interior design! I mean, seriously? I know, right?! What can I say? I had big time imposter syndrome, I lacked confidence and I didn’t believe I was talented enough or worthy of becoming a professional interior designer. Have you ever felt like you are running around in circles in quicksand? Because that’s exactly how I felt back then.
So, there I was again in a funk about whether or not I had chosen the right path and then in summer of 2016 I unknowingly set off on a trip that was destined to change my life forever!
I visited an old friend in Toronto and I toured around Canada for 4 weeks, my last stop was Vancouver. Well, who can visit Vancouver and NOT fall in love? It was a whirlwind romance and after only 3 days in this breathtaking city, I was head over heels and I already knew that I was going to live there one day. I felt deeply called to be there, but I didn’t know why. I look back now and realise that this was my intuition guiding me towards my Truth. When you know, you know…y’know?
When I returned home, I told everyone I knew that I was moving to Canada. My claim was met with rolling of eyes and “Yeah, sure you are.”. My loved ones were well used to hearing my “pie in the sky” travel plans and thought this was just another pipedream, like when I was going to become a diving instructor in French Polynesia.
Flash forward 12 months and I had manifested Canadian Permanent Residency status, without having spent more than 4 weeks in Canada in my life. A true testament to what can be achieved when you harness the power of positive thinking and an understanding of the Law of Attraction!
When I arrived back in Vancouver as a permanent resident, I had no idea what was about to unfold, all I knew was that I was in the right place. After a few months, I was happy enough working with clients re-decorating and styling their downtown apartments while simultaneously working in a cute British-branded homeware and gift shop in South Granville on the side (spending most of my hard earned cash on jewellery by Michelle Ross because gorgeous, limited edition, statement jewellery is a love language of mine). Life was going okay and but I had an inkling that there was more to life than fabric swatches and jewellery…Then, I made what was hands down the best decision of my entire life!
I DECIDED TO FOLLOW MY PASSION FOR YOGA, AND I TOOK MY 200 HOUR YOGA TEACHER TRAINING AT A NON-PROFIT YOGA STUDIO IN VANCOUVER’S DODGIEST NEIGHBOURHOOD.
For years I had wanted to take my training but I told myself that wasn’t “serious enough” and that I would not be a good teacher because of my scoliosis. In fact, the opposite is true. My scoliosis makes me a more considerate and understanding teacher whose emphasis is not on what the pose looks like but how it feels in my students’ bodies.
This place offered free or by donation yoga classes to the community that needs it most and as I signed up, I knew the training was going to be life changing but I had no idea HOW impactful it would end up being on the trajectory of my life! It changed my perception of the entire world and even more miraculously, of my entire Self.
The training lasted 3 months and my experience was truly transformational! I healed emotional wounds I didn’t even know I had, I developed a new self-confidence and a renewed sense of purpose. I realised that I don’t have to fit in any box and that I can live my life however I choose. I had finally stopped searching for my home outside of myself and realised that home has always been within me. As soon as I graduated, I began teaching free yoga in Vancouver and quickly became a natural at holding sacred space for others. I was hooked!
After falling out of love with interior design and losing all faith in myself as a designer, I suddenly felt the drive to head back home and set up my own business! This feeling did not come from my mind, it came from deep within me, it was a core desire and I had to follow it. I know you know this feeling!
It was a hard decision to leave Vancouver, I loved my time there so much and I had made some incredible friendships with inspiring and uplifting people, but my expensive lifestyle was unsustainable, my meagre wage could not support me and (but) this new calling to start my business was too loud to ignore.
When I arrived home in May 2019, without giving much thought to what I actually wanted, I set up Melissa Interior Design and ran my business in the only way I knew how… exactly how my old boss runs hers. There I was again, “shoulding” myself into the role of an Interior Designer that didn’t really fit me. Had I forgotten everything I learnt in Canada? Not exactly, but my desire to portray an image of success to those around me was still far stronger and louder than my inner voice.
I started to run large scale renovation projects and I found the entire process draining, stressful and unfulfilling. It wasn’t until spring of 2020 that I started asking myself “What am I doing? I am being creative, yet I do not feel fulfilled. What is missing?”. I pondered this for a few weeks but I did not have an answer. Then something happened that kicked my ass into action. My dearly beloved Grandmother passed away during COVID lockdown, in hospital, on her own. It was heart-breaking. This was my wake-up call! What was I doing with my one wild and precious life? Why was I not happy?
IT WAS IN THE PAUSE AND STILLNESS WHEN THE WHOLE WORLD WENT INTO LOCKDOWN AND MY FAMILY WENT INTO GRIEVING THAT I HAD A MOMENT TO REFLECT AND THE CLARITY TO REALISE THAT THIS WAS ACTUALLY NOT HOW I WANTED TO DO THINGS MOVING FORWARD…
After some deep inner work, I made the connection between my spirituality, my creativity and my business. I realised that the only thing stopping me from living with integrity was me! I was standing in my own way and stopping myself from fully stepping into my Truth and running a business that is aligned with my spirituality and core beliefs. I had “shoulded” myself into living someone else’s life…again!
When I had this epiphany, I thought back to the reason why I studied Psychology in the first place. I did that because I wanted to help people and have a meaningful impact on their lives. I started a career in interior design because I love being creative and helping people transform their homes. I became a yoga teacher because I want to spread love and help people transform themselves through their spiritual practices. What was stopping me integrating these three passions into one unique offering? Nothing!! In this moment, the Holistic Lifestyle Coach seed was planted in my subconscious mind.