Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Making the Shift: Veronica's Story

I didn't know Veronica. But we went to the same high school at the same time. She was two years ahead of me. I grew up in a somewhat small town. There were two elementary schools. They filtered into one middle school. My high school was relatively small. I graduated with one hundred and thirty-six people. With eighth grade through twelfth grade being in the same school, you may not have known everyone personally, but you knew "of" people. Especially those you'd consider popular or attractive or just all around noteworthy.

I can't remember the year...but I do remember a conversation. It could have been sixth grade, for all I know. Having a kid has turned my memory into Swiss cheese. I was talking to a guy I'd always had a little crush on and somehow his "type" came up. Or just women he found attractive. He told me he liked Heather Thomas, and Fiona Hutchinson. I had to look them both up. Then I remember asking about real people in school. He said- "Veronica Berlin. She's the hottest girl in school." So that name stuck in my head. Plus, I've always been weird like that- finding out and remembering people's names. I do it with actors all the time. I always have up so when I see someone on tv and they look familiar, I can look them up right away to figure out where I saw them previously. So I remembered who she was, and I agreed. She was one of the prettiest girls in school. But I never actually had a conversation with her. She seemed way too cool to even approach. Besides, what was there to even say? "Hi, I'm Tara. A boy I liked said you were the prettiest girl in school. I'm two years behind you. Let's be friends?" No.

Because of Facebook, you end up making connections you'd never ordinarily make. I've found that there are people I wasn't that fond of who I find really cool, funny, and interesting now from what they post. Then, of course, there are the people I thought were cool, funny and interesting before who I now see are racist, sexist, homophobic and have no command whatsoever of the English language. Especially spelling. And then there were people I didn't like back in the day and their Facebook postings just confirmed why.

Somehow I became friended to Veronica and her life, her story, her passions, her personality are captivating, inspiring, and motivating. So I thought I'd bring her story here to get to know her a little better and how she's taken a life of adversity and turned it into positivity. It also goes to show that you never know what someone is going through. I just knew Veronica as a pretty, popular cheerleader. Never would I have guessed she had all this other awful stuff going on.

This is from her blog post on her website. It was on FB and I shared it but I'm putting it here with some additional, sort of, Q&A:

My Story


My name is Veronica Paris.  I am 42 years old, a mother of two amazing children and have had the honor of mothering many different animals along my journey.
My home life growing up is what is labeled in today’s society as “dysfunctional”.  My mother was an alcoholic, my birth father abandoned me when I was a baby and my step father had very little time with us as he had his own business working up to 15 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I was molested by the age of 4 by an uncle and by the time I was in my early teens I had unintentionally received the message “I was not important”…I came to believe my voice didn’t matter, my body didn’t matter, my feelings didn’t matter….I did not matter.

I married my first husband right out of high school and quickly became pregnant.  I wanted to be sure I got a head start on showing everyone how family life was “supposed to be”.  My husband at that time was an alcoholic and the marriage was over in just 2 short years.  As the years passed, I continued to choose men who where emotionally unavailable to me and physically abused my body. In 2005, when divorcing my third husband I came to a crossroads in my life. 

Did I want to continue to choose partners who were unavailable to me in ways that ironically felt most “at home”?  Did I want to continue to accept unacceptable behavior?   How much longer could I hide my true self….for fear of humiliation, abandonment and embarrassment?  When in reality, it was me that I had been abandoning all these years. 

So it was at this time in 2005, I came to my knees…..literally….choking on my own tears, begging, sobbing, crying to God, the universe, anyone…to please help me…help me to find my way.  The girl who had learned to survive all those years had to surrender….surrender to her true authentic self…she had to be born again.

And so, this is when my journey to my authentic self began.  With hard work and with what sometimes felt like endless self exploration, I began to realize facts about my life like:  So when someone abandons me….emotionally, mentally and physically, it’s not about me…. it’s about them.  I learned that I have a voice and that this beautiful voice deserves to be heard and validated.

I had learn that my body is not primarily here as a means to serve pleasure others….but rather as a vessel that embodies my most sacred possession….my soul.

And so my journey continued...from the little girl who felt very alone and scared to the woman who came to realize...all that has happened to me, does not define me…it is only part of my story and if I wanted to find out who I truly was, I needed to continue to dig deep and do the work to find true authentic self. 

Now, given the facts of my life, a Latina girl born into a broken home with an alcoholic mother, abandoned by her biological father, molested, barely graduated high school and divorced three times, the odds were clearly stacked against me and these events could have put me in the category of “less likely to succeed”.

Well, I stand before you today a survivor.  I am a survivor because in 2005 when all seemed to be at its darkest, I made a conscience decision to look at the choices I had made in my life and how those choices had affected me.  I found a way to love myself enough to step out of the fog of denial and shame and I choose to find my true self and to save her.  For I had come to realize, I was the only one who could. 

Today I am stronger, wiser, smarter and able to see my life experiences with the grace of a grown woman.  I continue to dig deep and do the work needed to show up for myself in my own life every single day. I will never say it was easy…In the beginning showing up for myself was very hard work. 

It took commitment and time to unravel who I had been conditioned to become after all of those years…but I will say that it was worth it and surrounding myself with others who were on a similar journey, made it manageable. 

Today I am able to freely feel my own feelings without shame or withholding them for fear of what others will think or how uncomfortable I will make someone else feel if I express them.  Today….I love and accept myself unconditionally.

It is my deepest hope to inspire you all to do the find your true authentic self.

So, that's her story. Her old story. Her NEW story is the woman she's become and how she's able to help others. I'm pretty sure I know a lot of people who could benefit from her approach. I'm always getting asked for recommendations for psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, etc. For couples, individual, and for kids. And the thing is, it's like anything else- very personal. It's really hard to find a good one because it's ALL about the personality. Everyone has a different personality so finding one to mesh with yours can be difficult. But I feel like this, empowerment, is a different kind of animal. Maybe you don't need traditional therapy and maybe just need to find a way to feel empowered and manage your life better. If nothing else, this is a viable alternative.

Make the Shift, LLC offers Self-Empowerment classes and Transformational Coaching both facilitated by Veronica Paris. Veronica not only brings to her profound passion and personal life experiences into her Coaching and Group Connection workshops, but she also shares her extensive trainings and certifications which have included Behavioral Assistance Certification from The University of Medicine & Dentistry, Family Support Worker/Family Assessment Worker Certification from The New Jersey Parents as Teachers Organization and Transformational Coaching Skills Certification from The New York City Open Center.

Transformational Coaching differs greatly from traditional Therapy by offering a more organic approach to each individual clients needs. Transformational Coaching also offers a wide variety of manageable price options keeping self-care an option and not a necessity. Veronica’s ability to relate to clients needs has proven to transform individuals looking to realign with their true, authentic happiness and have found the Transformation Coaching approach to feel less clinical.

Make the Shift, LLC also offers a “one-stop shopping” approach for self-care in which individuals can begin Transformational Coaching and also enroll in weekly group connections with other like minded individuals continuing the self-care journey after “the session” is over. These group connections have proven to offer on-going support, education and friendships that have truly changed lives. Make the Shift, LLC offer a space like no other where individuals have noted “it’s a place I can REAL and know I’m not alone”. Make the Shift, LLC group connections are very similar to that of Oprah “Life classes” in which REAL topics are discussed relating to our everyday lives.

For an appointment for Transformational Coaching or to register for a group connection workshop please call 973-862-1595 or

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