Episode 20: You are Enough: Discussions with Coach, Body Positive Activist, and Entrepreneur, Natasha Nurse

about the episode

Photo of Natasha Nurse.

Natasha Nurse held various stints in the corporate world prior to making a foray into fashion and writing. Having been a victim of bullying as a child growing up in NYC, Natasha sought out fashion as a source of strength early on and actively uses it as a personal means of empowerment. Natasha started Dressing Room 8 which provides web-based resources through her fashion and lifestyle focused blog, consultation and coaching services. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Nassau Community College, Lifestyle Editor for Plus Model Magazine and the Program Coordinator for Long Island Girl Talk, a Long Island community-based start-up program that teaches teenage girls of color how to produce, direct and star in their own television show about women’s issues in their communities. Recently, she partnered with her husband to create the new podcast WokeNFree and she is the host of Our Voices on 90.3 WHPC. Natasha will lead a women’s track session at our No Barriers Summit this June!

Our hosts caught up with Natasha Nurse, before they meet her in person at our No Barriers Summit this June 13th-15th.

Natasha spoke with Jeff and Erik about the map to start loving yourself and the road she personally traveled to get to that point herself. Now, a successful business owner and coach who illuminates the path for others, Natasha will be speaking and sharing her pointers with our No Barriers audience this June in Tahoe.

Listen to the episode and let us know what you think in a review. If you haven’t signed up for the No Barriers Summit yet go here and Register today

For more about Natasha’s company, Dressing Room 8, Check it out here.

Get more fashion tips at Plus Model Magazine.

If you loved the content of Natasha’s story, definitely check out her and her husband’s podcast: WokeNFree

Episode Transcript

Natasha: You’re not trying to be a different person. You’re trying to be the most positive version of yourself so that people understand that this positivity isn’t another person or mask I’m putting on. It’s within you. It’s just you have to release it.

Erik: It’s easy to talk about the successes, but what doesn’t get talked about enough is the struggle. My name is Erik Weihenmayer. I’ve gotten the chance to ascend Mount Everest, to climb the tallest mountain in every continent, to kayak the Grand Canyon. And I happen to be blind. It’s been a struggle to live what I call a no-barrier’s life, to define it, to push the parameters of what it means. Part of the equation is diving in to the learning process and trying to illuminate the universal elements that exist along the way. In that unexplored terrain between those dark places we find ourselves in the summit exists a map. That map, that way forward is what we call No Barriers. (singing)

Erik: Today we meet Natasha Nurse who held various stints in the corporate world prior to making a foray into fashion and writing. Having been a victim of bullying as a child growing up in New York City, Natasha sought out fashion as a source of strength early on and actively use it as a personal means of empowerment. Natasha started Dressing Room 8, which provides web-based services through her fashion and lifestyle focused blog, consultation, and coaching services. She’s also an adjunct professor at Nassau Community College, lifestyle editor for Plus Model Magazine, and the program coordinator for Long Island Girl Talk, a Long Island community-based startup program that teaches teenage girls of color how to produce, direct, and star in their own television show about women’s issues in their communities. She recently partnered with her husband to create the new podcast WokeNFree, and she is the host of Our Voices on 90.3 WHPC. Natasha will be leading a women’s track session at our No Barriers Summit this June.

Erik: Natasha, we’re really excited that you’re going to be at our No Barriers Summit, first of all, in June. It’s really exciting to have you there working with everyone but in particular the women’s track and helping women who are trying to break through barriers and become entrepreneurs and figure out their way forward. It’s so great to have role models like you that are there mentoring and as pioneers showing people the way forward. What are you going to talk about? What are you going to do with our community?

Natasha: I don’t want to give away too much. Everyone’s got to-

Erik: Yeah, don’t give away too much.

Natasha: … get tickets to see the full act. Generally my talk is going to be focusing on getting through obstacles and really getting tactical about it. I think as an innovation coach, as an entrepreneur, as a role model, as a leader in this world, I find it’s important to be able to produce content that gives people tactical ways to getting through and getting over obstacles. Whether it’s how you view yourself or if you’re part of a marginalized community, how do you use that marginalization for you not against yourself? How do you embrace certain empowerment techniques so that when you are having a bad day, it’s not really a bad day, but it’s more like a bad moment? You get past it, and you move forward because just like in Finding Nemo, just keep swimming, keep moving. You got to just keep moving forward and also just understanding your own power.

Natasha: I think so many people, especially being a person of color, being a woman, I have found that there are various opportunities or situations in life where people will try to take power away from you. It’s really important for you to understand that you are powerful, that you’re capable, that you are enough, more than enough really, and that you have to believe in yourself. Because the minute that you can believe in yourself, you can work towards making your dreams come true. But if you refuse to believe in yourself, you cannot expect the world to believe in you. It starts from within, so the journey has to come from within. That’s really what I [crosstalk 00:04:31] to just bring to the stage and bring to this amazing event.

Erik: If they’re part of, quote, unquote, marginalized community, like I feel like that sometimes being blind, do you think there’s a way in this world to turn it on its head? Because for me as a blind climber, I was sort of like a Jamaican bobsledder, you know what I mean? It almost helped me to stand out, so I just try to use that perceived negative as a positive. Is there a way to turn it around?

Natasha: Absolutely. It’s about storytelling, I think. When you say, “blind climber,” to me when I hear that, I say, “Wow. This person is beyond determined. This person believes in themselves so much they’re confident.” So when you share your story, yes, you describe who you are, but you also describe what you’re able to do. So I think as a being part of a marginalized community, it’s important to recognize and acknowledge what you can do and make sure that your audience or the world is listening to that and doesn’t just close their ears off at the marginalization, but they say, “Yes, my name’s Natasha. I do this, that, and the other, and I happen to be black and I happen to be a woman, but, again, I do these things.” So it’s really about storytelling. When someone tries to manipulate or change your story, it’s up to you to say, “Nope. That’s not okay,” and to stand up for yourself and to reemphasize the story that you want to the world to pay attention to.

Natasha: I think Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without you allowing that to happen.” So it’s really about you standing up for yourself, you deciding what is your story and screaming it to the world whether people want to hear it or not. The more of us that do this, the more that people take a step back and say, “Wow, that’s incredible,” and also to add to that… I’m a bit of a talker, as you can imagine. That is, I’m so important to have representation. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the TV show Switched at Birth.

Erik: Yeah.

Natasha: It was about a girl who was deaf, and they showed so many real deaf actors on screen. I thought that was so momentous for the deaf community because growing up I never saw deaf people on TV or in film. It just wasn’t a thing. The more that you can see yourself or the more that you know your community is being represented in mainstream thing, the more that people can have an understanding more. Because human beings, we fear what we don’t know, and then we create our own stories around things that we don’t know. But if they’re told and people are given the story and the context, then they can open their hearts, open their minds and embrace. I think more and more and more now than ever we are in world that needs to embrace and try to understand more instead of fearing or creating other people’s stories in a way that’s more convenient to themselves.

Erik: There’s still a lot of prejudice out there. There’s still a lot of stereotypes out there. You must have experienced some of that. What are the walls that you’ve bumped up against in your rise?

Natasha: Oh, wow. That’s a great question. Growing up in New York, Manhattan specifically, everyone always says, “Oh, New York is such a wonderful place. It’s so diverse, and it’s so mixed up.” What people fail to understand about what New York culture is is, yes, there’s a lot of different people from different walks of life. However, segregation exists everywhere. If you come to New York and you really walk around in the streets, yes, there are some areas that are very intermixed, but there are also a lot of areas where black people live in one area, white people in another, Hispanics live in another, and it’s very like, “This is us, and we’re all very separate.” That can be very challenging. I mean I would say number one obstacle, I guess, I face in my life would probably be being black. I was called the N word at six years old at a school by a teacher.

Erik: Come on.

Natasha: That was my first introduction to… I didn’t know I was black. Because, again, when your parents are raising you, they’re not like, “Come here, my black daughter.” They’re just like, “Come here, my daughter.” It was very traumatic. No six-year-old should ever have to deal with what I dealt with, but it was a very important lesson in that people have certain contexts and ideas as to what a black person is in this society, what a black person can and cannot do. It’s up to me to be a very good representative of myself and of my community and also acknowledge that when people see me, unfortunately it’s not just seeing Natasha, but it’s seeing a black person, seeing a woman, seeing a plus-size person. So each of those stories have certain contexts in different people’s minds, and it’s up to me to show the world that I can do XYZ, that I am more than capable of a lot of things. Those are identifiers, but it’s not the only thing that makes me who I am.

Erik: What happens, though, when a teacher says the N word? What’s your response first of all? As a six-year-old, you probably don’t even really know what that means. But over time, what do you think happens to people in a larger way? Do you think it gets ingrained in them? As you said, you start to give away a lot of yourself.

Natasha: It’s a couple of things. As I acknowledge in my own journey that it then becomes a bit of a sensitive button for you. When people deny you things, it’s a very easy transition to say, “Oh, was it because I’m black?” Because you’ve been hit that way, it becomes a negative narrative for yourself, so I have to constantly make sure that I’m assessing the situation to understand, is this a rejection that is a non-biased rejection, and making clarification because sometimes people don’t want to be around you because they just don’t want to be around you. Sometimes it’s racially charged. Sometimes it’s gender charged. Sometimes it’s sexual orientation. It’s things that bias come in to things but not every time, so I have to be very discerning as to what’s happening and what people are saying.

Erik: It’s hard, though, because you don’t know. I’ve been turned down for jobs. They’re just like, “Yep, no openings.” You’re like, “My friend just told me there’s an open sign, like ‘looking for work’ sign,” you know what I mean? I don’t know 100%, but there’s something bigger going on here.

Natasha: Yeah, yeah. Then also I would say it makes you question. I think sometimes it makes you question your worthiness, because it’s like, no matter how good I am, will people really see that, or will they just assume that I can only achieve so much, or that they will make a certain interpretation of what blackness is, and will I be ever able to overcome that or deconstruct that in people’s minds? Because some people feel very badly about certain groups and certain marginalizations. I think it creates a layer of contextual messiness in each and every one of us. Whether you’re a person of color or not, because if you’re not a person of color, then again, you’re dealing with your own other things.

Natasha: I have found growing up that in life that we have our own little messes that we have to clean up internally, and it’s challenging. I would say from that lesson or that experience in my life that no matter what people think of you, what’s most important is what I think about myself and what I think about my black identity and celebrating who I am, because you can’t expect, again, the world to celebrate you. So I have to celebrate being a black woman. I have to celebrate being a plus-size person, and you can’t give a damn what other people think.

Erik: I’m being a question hog, Jeff, sorry. One last question and then Jeff. I know you got a ton of questions. I can only imagine that if you’re meeting these ceilings in your life, it’s so easy to, one, feel paralyzed, to feel helpless, and that turns into bitterness I could see for a lot of people where they’re like, “Screw it. I’m not even going to try because the whole system is totally rigged. I’m going to fail anyway.” We see this a lot at No Barriers in our community where people have gone out and just gotten shattered, and they’re like, “I’m done. I’m going to be under a rock here.”

Natasha: So what’s the solution, right?

Erik: Well, yeah, exactly.

Natasha: Again, you have to come from a place of you, not from a place of others. If you want to give up because you want to give up, then fine, but don’t give up on other people’s turns. If you think the system is rigged, then the system is rigged. I mean I don’t know if you’re a practitioner of the Law of Attraction or The Secret or things like that but I am.

Erik: Yeah, you’re a fan of The Secret. I know.

Natasha: Yeah, right.

Erik: [crosstalk 00:13:36] awesome.

Natasha: I think for that that’s where you have to really hold on and really embrace the idea that even if everyone is against you, you have to push through it. It’s not about them. Your journey is literally about you. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want out of this life? Because if we’re only here for one time and it really is a bit of blink of a moment, then what is the mark you’re making on this Earth? What do you want to accomplish? What is your story? You can’t come from a place of anyone else other than you. So I think you have to get other people out of your mind.

Natasha: I like to say that a no is really nonexistent, a no is a maybe later, a no is a maybe with somebody else. You can’t allow rejection, you can’t allow defeat to bring you down because you’re being unworthy for you. You deserve more. You deserve everything that you want in this world, but it’s up to you to fight for it. Like, if breathing is at risk here, you have to keep going. That’s what I try to do. Just keep pushing past and just know that you can make this happen. Like I said earlier, if you don’t have that belief, then it’s like you’ve already given up. I think people can deserve more for themselves.

Jeff: You mentioned the Law of Attraction and for people who don’t know that, it’s pretty fascinating. There’s multiple books written on it, but basically the sensibility is we attract in our lives that which we focus on-

Natasha: Exactly.

Jeff: … so if you manifest it. I’m interested, Natasha, for you personally and for our whole No Barriers community and everybody who walks this planet, like you mentioned, we all have these insecurities or these scabs, these injuries, these wounds or things that hold us down in some fashion. If we allow ourselves to make that the center piece in our setting, then that becomes us, right?

Natasha: Yeah.

Jeff: Give us a sense, then, how in your youth you had people marginalize you. We’ve all been marginalized in some fashion, some a lot more than others. What were some of those incidences that you felt marginalized and that you realized at some point whether it was the Law of Attraction or The Secret that said, “I’m not going to let this define me, and in fact, I’m going to turn it on its ear and make it fuel”? Is that-

Natasha: Absolutely.

Jeff: Yeah?

Natasha: Yeah. I would say the biggest thing for me that I could think back to is probably my weight. I started gaining weight at the age of around six so most likely connected to some of the other trauma that I was experiencing. I definitely was bullied. I think most people have a bullying story. But just for me, I guess I was one of the bigger girls in school, and I didn’t have a lot of friends because I was a hardcore nerd. All I wanted to talk about was homework. My parents should have told me kids don’t actually want to talk about that for their free time, but I didn’t know that, and so I was just very lonely as a child and also very deeply upset about how kids can be so mean and ridicule you about your-

Jeff: You knew as a young kid that kids were mean, right?

Natasha: Yeah.

Jeff: You felt that in your heart.

Natasha: Oh gosh, yeah. Because kids go out of their way to make fun of you. Now when you get older and you have perspective and you understand a little bit more about the psychology of what’s going on, hurt people hurt, so those kids who bully have been bullied or have been hurt in some way, and that’s them re-acting out that cycle. You don’t have that context when you’re going through it. So for me, I think what I did is that I realized, well, I wasn’t necessarily doing what I could have been doing from a fitness perspective, but what I could do is I could turn that marginalization or that trauma and hurt into something that is controllable.

Natasha: What I did is I turned to fashion and really focusing on how I own my presentation as I continue to get older and older and really focus on the idea that, “Okay, people are going to judge you. Got it. Never going to stop.” But I can own the presentations that I put in this world. Meaning, if I wear clothing that fits my body type best or better than other types of clothing, then I can create the silhouettes. I can use colors for my advantage. I can be confident in my clothing, and if I’m confident, then what can I do? I can express a message clearly. I can resonate more with people, and they won’t attack me for not looking like the average person or looking in a way that society says is only beautiful or beauty is defined as. So that’s one of the ways that [crosstalk 00:18:40].

Erik: What’s that look like? You throw out the sweatpants or what? How does that fashion journey look like?

Natasha: It’s about understanding-

Erik: That [crosstalk 00:18:47], like you want to look good, feel good, right?

Natasha: It’s about understanding your body type. I think fit is key. Especially with plus-size women, it’s really important to understand how clothing lays on your body. Does an A-line dress fit you better? Does a wrap dress? Does certain cuts? There’s five different major body types so really understanding where you fit, and what are your unique measurements? So I’m a high-waisted, pear-shaped woman, so things that cinch my waist look really good because it’ll show my wide hips in a good way. You have to do a lot of research. You have to try on a bunch of clothes, and you have to create your signature style. You have to also pay attention. What are colors that make you feel powerful? I was saying earlier, I’m Jamaican. My family’s from Jamaica. I was born here but bright colors really-

Jeff: She’s not on the bobsled team, Erik.

Erik: You’re not?

Jeff: No. She’s [crosstalk 00:19:41].

Erik: [crosstalk 00:19:41].

Natasha: No. So bright colors really help me, I don’t know, feel connected to my culture as well as just make me feel confident. So I like to tease, if I’m going to wear a suit, it’s going to be a red one or a purple one. You have to be vibrant and present in every aspect of what that means and especially with your fashion. You have to get educated. Some people don’t want to put effort into their fashion. They’re like, “Eh, I just want to get clothes,” but clothes is more than clothes. It’s a part of the package that you’re putting in this world, so you have to pay attention. You have to put in the work.

Erik: You’re the lifestyle editor for a plus-size magazine. It sounds like that’s connected. That led you on a question to this cool position. That’s one of the entrepreneurial things that you do, right?

Natasha: PLUS Model Magazine, yeah, absolutely.

Erik: PLUS Model Magazine.

Natasha: They reach millions of people every month. As the lifestyle editor, I write articles that are really focused on, again, inspirational stories. Whether or not it’s me interviewing someone who is doing something innovative in fashion, or if it’s an opportunity for me to share some mindset techniques and things that will help you own and appreciate who you are in this world, that’s what I like to write about. I also write for Fairygodboss, and I’ve been in many different publications, which has been really fun. Again, that’s another thing that I did as a kid. Because I didn’t have friends, I wrote. Now I’ve been able to have that be a part of my identity as a writer. That’s really powerful that you can turn your passion into something more than just writing in your journal, but it’s something that people pay attention to your words and your thoughts and really help change their lives.

Erik: Did you even know there was a community at first? Did you know there was this powerful community of people that were maybe experiencing similar things to you at first?

Natasha: Not, really, no. Only later in my 20s, later 20s that I realized that. The plus-size community, I don’t know if you guys have any touch to it, but it’s gotten a lot more mainstream that it has been for many, many years. With the plus community, you have to, I feel, seek out for it. Then you’re like, “Oh, I know this blogger, and I know this blogger.” Once you dive in, very accepting, various different types of influencers and people in the space. It’s a beautiful community. I don’t know if you know Ashley Graham or Tess Holiday. They’re some of the women who are leading the movement of embrace your body and love who you are and all of that good stuff.

Erik: Dressing Room 8 is your organization, right?

Natasha: Yeah.

Erik: So as a coach, you’re trying to pull people up. I’ve read that you’re talking about laying a trail of breadcrumbs behind you. That’s a very cool concept. What are the stories that you’ve seen, the struggles that you’ve seen people have, and how do you pull them up or lead them?

Natasha: I think the biggest thing I’ve seen consistent with all of the people that I work with is this idea that I see the potential in them that they don’t see in themselves. So when they work with me, essentially I’m helping them to actualize who they are in the inside. There are people who never thought they could be a model or be an entrepreneur and now are thriving in these businesses, in these careers because they’re like an onion and I have to help them unpeel these layers of insecurity, self-hatred, self-doubt, the I-don’t-knows and, “Can I really do it?” and pulling that crap away so that they can see, “Wow. I’m just this beautiful, magnificent person who can do anything.” They can be as bad ass as they want to be.

Natasha: I think the value of working with the right coach is the person who can help guide them to actualize who they want to be. So for me, primarily I’m focusing on people who are trying to do this through entrepreneurship or through some creative outlet and helping them to get organize, helping them to have a sense of accountability because it’s great. You can have all the intention in the world, but if you don’t actually say you’re getting stuff done by Friday, then intention and action, they have to meet in the middle of the road for things to happen. So helping them do-

Erik: That’s what they can do. I mean that’s what they can do. But if you’re this really motivated person but there’s this big ceiling that you cannot get through, that becomes a hard ascent. So there’s also a bit of networking that you must create. You want to get in to a position of power so that you can pull others up, create those opportunities for them. Is that [crosstalk 00:24:31]?

Natasha: Absolutely. I definitely leverage my networks for the people that I’m working with because you’re absolutely right. Certain industries, really you excel by who you know not by necessarily what you know. So for certain people, I’m able to give a foot up on what they’re able to do, who they’re able to access, and also teaching them, though, how do you develop these relationships? A lot of people will say to me, “Oh, well. Yeah, I would love to write in a magazine, or yeah, I would love to do this event. How do I do it?” My simple answer is, “Send an email.” You have to understand how to put yourself out there, and a lot of people don’t understand the power of email, the power of just saying, “Hey. My name is… I want to do this.” People just don’t get it. They’re like, “Wait, you can actually just send an email?” That’s-

Erik: Just lay it out there.

Natasha: Yeah, you can actually get out there. But a lot of people, again, they don’t understand that about themselves.

Jeff: No, because you have to manifest. You’re manifesting it. You’re turning it into something. You seem like a pretty master manifester.

Natasha: I try. I try.

Erik: Back to this idea of weight. Our community started out with a lot of physical challenges. Then we realized that the world is full of emotional challenges, physical and emotional things. Is the weight thing even harder? Because you can’t do anything about being black or white or blind or sighted, but people have this, I’ve seen it, almost like an anger where they’re like, “Weight is something you can do something about.” There’s a lot of weight and energy around this issue, it seems to me.

Natasha: Yeah, absolutely. Ew, that’s a multilayered question there. It’s interesting because now we’re at a time in the plus community and the body positive community where if you advocate weight loss, then it seems to be publicly this is an anti-body positive narrative or rhetoric. Me, personally, I’m of the proposition that if you want to change your body in whatever ways you want to change your body, that needs to be a personal decision, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot lose weight and still be body positive. I think those are two separate conversations. Yeah, there’s a lot of negative… Fat stigma is really the term in this country where people will assume that if I’m fat, it means that I’m overindulging and that I’m not taking care of myself and dah, dah, dah. Like, there’s all these assumptions and presumptions about who I am just because I’m overweight. Maybe they’re true. Maybe they’re not true.

Natasha: But you can’t view health. That’s really what the world needs to understand that thin does not mean healthy. Fat does not mean healthy. You need to actually assess, like medically assess the person to determine health. You cannot look and see health. That’s what I think people are trying to get people to understand that just because someone looks a certain way, you don’t know if they’re healthy or not. I think that personal decisions of losing weight or not losing weight, you have to come to terms for that yourself. Like, I personally am working on a weight loss journey because my weight affects other parts of my health, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t feel good in the skin that I’m in. It doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate bigger bodies, of course, because I’ve been a bigger body most of my life. It’s a really hard question. But I think at the end of the day, the kindest thing that we can do as human beings is to love on each other and embrace each other.

Erik: It’s really interesting. It’s like a balancing act that you’re talking about, almost being able to exist in two worlds maybe.

Natasha: Yeah.

Erik: One, nobody’s perfect, so we’re all striving for perfection. We’ll never reach it. In the meantime, I want to be healthy, and I’m not going to be shamed. Because in the past people say, “Oh, you’re plus size. You’re overweight.” You get shamed. Then it drives you into this dark place. Now, that paralyzes you even more so that now you’re stuck, and you have less of a chance of being able to do something about it. Is that-

Natasha: Absolutely. It’s so hard. It is really hard because you’re also… If you talk about it, people will unfollow you, and they’ll drag you on social media. To me, it’s upsetting. Typically plus-size people get mad at non-plus size people for mocking us and making fun of us and trying to make us feel worse for who we are. Then if you turn around and your own community is shaming you and attacking you, it’s frustrating. Because it’s like you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t, which makes me go back to what I said originally which is, again, who are you living for? You got to live for you. You got to come from a place of, “What do I want?” and manifest and work on those intentions irregardless of what other people are saying and doing because you’ll never make everyone happy, ever.

Jeff: It’s a slippery slope on social media, right?

Natasha: Yeah.

Jeff: If you have a social media following, you’re presenting yourself. Because when you read the comments and you hear people say things, it affects you. You can’t pretend like it doesn’t because it’s there. But then how do you reply back to that? Do you reply back with love, or do you disregard those people? How does that work in your space?

Erik: [crosstalk 00:30:17].

Natasha: I would say I really have found strength in not feeding into negativity. Because if like attracts like and thoughts become things, then if I feed into a negative comment, then what am I doing? I’m attracting more negative comments and negative thinking. Is that doing anything for me? Is that making me happier, more successful? No. I think you can reply with love. You can, “Thank you for your comments. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I hope that made you feel better.” You can be a little bit sassy. Kind with a bit of sass is my general approach. Like, “Oh, I’m so glad that you got that off your chest. I hope you [crosstalk 00:31:01].

Jeff: You just go ahead and go with that if it makes you feel better.

Natasha: I say kindness with a little bit sass never hurts anybody.

Erik: Do you think that changes the world? Because you’re affecting your own positive outlook on the world, but there’s so much crazy negativity right now that feels just like a weight on our society. Do you think that eventually that positive outlook and mindset, do you think that ekes away at all that negativity and actually changes and makes an impact on society, or is it just about us?

Natasha: I think it’s like anything else. Negativity has a nice, strong hold on most people because we allow it to, and you see more negative than you see positive. It feels more intense and it feels more intrusive than positivity is, but the more that you do something positive, the more love you put out into the world, the more likely you’re going to attract more of it and then also inspire others to follow suit. We’re all walking, talking role models, so you can’t expect the world to change without you changing it in some way.

Natasha: I think like any other movement, positivity, it takes all of us to have an effect. The reason why we don’t see more change is because not enough of us hold on tight. Because you might be positive and like, “Oo, I’m about to do The Secret this week.” Then next week you’re like, “Girl, no. I’m not about that life.” Then if you fall off or if you have a bad day and that bad day becomes three bad months, you have to make sure that if you commit to this lifestyle of positive, positivity, love, attraction, like, “I am going to focus on what I want and cut out the negativity,” you commit. Because otherwise, it’s one step forward, two steps back every single time you feed into that [crosstalk 00:32:52].

Jeff: That being said, Natasha, I totally agree, but with me personally and people in our community, we strive to do that. We strive to embrace positivity. We want that. We want that to be a part of our character. Either that, or we want to make this paradigm shift and be a different person. Then that’s good for two days, three days. Then there’s that one day, and that one day can derail you. How do you handle that one day when you can’t shake it? When it is just all encompassing? Do you try to fight it, or do you let it be?

Natasha: Okay, so two things. One, I would say you’re not trying to be a different person. You’re trying to be the most positive version of yourself so that people understand that this positivity isn’t like another person or mask I’m putting on. It’s within you. It’s just you have to release it. Then when you have a bad day, I would say for me what I have done is I really try to take a moment and think, “Why am I having a bad day?” If I have a day and I wake up and I feel… Like today, I wasn’t necessarily feeling that great, and I know it’s because I felt guilty about not going to the gym enough this week.

Natasha: So really thinking, looking deeper at why you’re having a bad day. What is the real trigger? Is it that someone said something to you? Is it really just that? Or is it something else? Is that statement being said to you triggering what mom and dad said to you 15 years ago, and you haven’t released the anger and the hurt and all of that other stuff that’s now accumulating into this one moment that seems so much bigger than it really is because it’s actually tied to past trauma, past hurt?

Natasha: I think, for me, that is how I have found… because the more that you can dive deep and be like, “So it’s actually not about this. It’s really about something else,” and you realize you’ve just been holding on this. You haven’t released, and you haven’t forgiven, you say, “Oh, this isn’t a bad day. This is me diving back into something that is no longer my present. It is my past. Why am I allowing my past to F up my today and really getting real with yourself.” It takes work. It’s not easy. I don’t think that anyone on this journey is like, “Oh, I have a phenomenal day every day of my life,” but the goal is to wake up and be blessed. The goal is to [crosstalk 00:35:13].

Erik: Do you think that’s the biggest thing that you may be faced when you’re coaching people that their traumas and their own perceptions, maybe the way they self-sabotage are really the biggest weapon in their growth?

Natasha: 100%, 100%. When it comes to obstacles, like they say, “There are no limits in life.” It’s limits in your mind. Our life is a reflection of our mind. So when we say, “Oh, we can’t break through the barrier,” is it that we can’t break through the barrier? Is it because you, in your mind, think there is a barrier that cannot be broken? It’s absolutely self-sabotage. It’s absolutely self-doubting and unwillingness to see past their negative thoughts, absolutely. Because, yes, will every email, will every opportunity lend for exactly what you’re looking for? Not necessarily. But what are you doing that’s helping to contribute to this fall, this setback? What are you doing? I think people don’t want to get real enough with themselves. Because we all can look at that and be like, “You walked into that meeting expecting to not get a deal, so when you didn’t get a deal, that blow felt a little bit less worse to you because you already knew you weren’t going to get it.” So people rationalize the negativity to help them accept the rejections and the failures that they are creating in their life.

Erik: Do you think they don’t diagnose themselves too? It sounds like you’re positive but you’re critical in terms of, “Okay, maybe I did something today that led to the bad day I’m having.” Maybe sometimes it’s hard to turn inward and look at the things that are affecting your life negatively.

Natasha: Mm-hmm (affirmative), absolutely. I think getting real is really challenging for people. For me and my husband, I think, we attracted each other at Penn State when we met freshman year because we were so sick and tired of the liars in our lives and we were like, “If we’re going to be with somebody long-term…” Because we’ve been together since we were 18 years old, and it’s going to be like 15 years in September, and we just had [crosstalk 00:37:24] marriage.

Jeff: Congrats.

Natasha: Thank you. So much of our relationship is 100% honesty. I do not want to question or doubt for a second who you are, what you’re saying, do you really intend…? No, no, no. You have to be honest. That’s hard. That’s hard for other people when we explain that to other people. They’re like, “You guys are nuts.” But it works for us because we were so overwhelmed by the levels of lies and fabrications and fraudulence that people were doing in our family and in our-

Jeff: Lack of authenticity, right? That’s-

Natasha: Yeah.

Jeff: So you’re bringing authenticity to your relationship, and you find that’s probably what you rest on the most in your 15 years.

Natasha: Yeah.

Erik: What if your husband… you don’t like his new haircut or something like that? You can white lie a little bit, right? [crosstalk 00:38:15].

Natasha: I don’t [crosstalk 00:38:16] like that, but I like to say I’m just not emotionally equipped for lying. I just don’t. Because even if I try, Kahlil’s like, “Okay, Natasha. I can see you’re not telling the truth,” and so I’m like, “Own it.” So I keep it 100. Luckily for my husband, he’s been getting the same haircut for, I don’t know, 10, 12 years so [inaudible 00:38:37] liked the haircut.

Jeff: Let’s just say, though, you are into fashion, let’s change it from a haircut to what your husband… Maybe he’s not as fashion sensible as you at times, and you’re like, “Honey, that just don’t work.”

Natasha: Oh, yeah. He’s said that to me. I’ll be wearing this new modern thing, and I’ll be like, “What do you think?” He’s like-

Jeff: No.

Natasha: He’s just like, “I mean you have that on, sure.” I’m like, “Listen I appreciate your candor.”

Jeff: “What do you have the hell on?” That’s a fact. You are wearing that. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to leave it at that, right?

Natasha: Yeah, yeah. So I can understand when he likes something and when he doesn’t like something. Again, I would rather keep it at that level even if it hurts. Honesty does hurt because who doesn’t want to be told that they’re beautiful in everything that they wear? Guess what? He’ll be, “Do you feel beautiful?” “Yes.” That’s all that matters, because what am I wearing this for? I’m not wearing this for other people. If I feel fabulous and everyone else is like, “Huh,” that’s their problem.

Jeff: I heard somewhere else that you talk about gratitude. I’m a big fan of gratitude. All the other things that you share with us just so far, where does gratitude fit in to your everyday routine?

Natasha: Yes, I love that you moved the conversation to that. I read, oh, gosh, I forget, maybe about two years ago, I think Oprah said that she wakes up every day and just says, “Thank you,” and she thinks about what’s she’s thankful for the day. I just feel like, as a society, who are we to question what Oprah’s thinking? If she’s starting the day saying, “Thank you,” I better say, “Thank you,” 10 times. Success emulates success. For me, gratitude has come in helping me actually forgive myself for not being kind enough to myself. It’s helping me forgive other people for their misdeeds and unjust words or things that they’ve said. I think gratitude also helps me just appreciate life more. Even when you’re having a bad moment or a bad day, there’s always something to be grateful for, and it can help you move past those moments.

Natasha: I have found that gratitude has helped living more enjoyable. It has helped me understand the lesson because there are no good and bad things. It’s just contrasts. Some things we enjoy more. Some things we enjoy less. Like school lessons, some lessons are good, some lessons are bad. So I have found it’s been helpful with that. Also from a coaching perspective, helping people to understand like, “Yes, you might have not gotten that opportunity, but what did you learn from that experience? Then are you grateful for that learning? Because how can you now take that and apply it to the future.

Erik: What if somebody’s really dark, though, and they’re in a really bad place? They’re like, “Look, I’m just not grateful for anything.” Can you just really break it down and be like, “I’m grateful to be alive. I’m grateful that it’s a sunny day out”?

Natasha: Yeah, absolutely. There’s a term. I forget, I think it’s Sarah Jakes Roberts who said, “Stinking thinking.” I heard her say that in a ministry and I was just like, “Oh, I love it.”

Jeff: What was it?

Natasha: Stinking thinking.

Jeff: Oh, stinking thinking.

Erik: [crosstalk 00:41:52].

Jeff: Oh, I got it.

Natasha: Stinking thinking. If you want to be really mad in your head and your attitude and you’re like, “There’s nothing good about this day,” then you’re the only person who can get yourself out of that. People can say anything they want to say to you, but if you want to be a poo-poo head, essentially, you have to decide when you’re done doing that because no one can make you feel better other than you. I forget if Tony Robbins said this or someone, actually I think I read it in The Secret, “It’s impossible to think bad thoughts when you’re feeling good thoughts, when you’re saying good things.” They’re polar opposites. If you’re on one side and you’re just in the negative, negative, negative, how do you change it? You have to start to get grateful. Start to get thankful. What are things that you’re looking forward to do? Start moving the needle to the positive side of things instead of just stinking thinking because we can all be poo-poo heads. We can all be like-

Erik: Have you ever told somebody you’re mentoring or coaching that they’re being a poo-poo head?

Natasha: No, because name calling’s bad.

Erik: [crosstalk 00:42:58].

Jeff: In a way you’re not calling them a name as much as you are calling them out a little bit. Like, “Hey, stop being a poo-poo head.” This is an epiphany for me. I’m going to start using this with my 13-year-old-

Natasha: Yeah, absolutely.

Jeff: … because there’s other words that I’d like to use with him, but this is a good one. I like it. So thank you for that.

Natasha: Absolutely. Then also because I have done work with a group called Long Island Girl Talk where we train girls how to create their own television show. It actually airs on Altice and Verizon here in New York. I was the program coordinator. For me, what I have found working with girls, oh gosh, I think we were from ages 8 to about 17, there’s a lot that our kids are going through. Uh, I mean talk about the poo-poo head syndrome. It’s like they don’t feel good. They don’t like what they’re saying to each other. There’s bullying. What are the boys saying about the girls? What are the girls…? It’s a lot going on as a kid.

Natasha: The more that you just enforce just how much love that you feel for them and make them see… like what are three great things that you like about yourself? That is a question I ask people all the time, and too many people struggle with coming up with an answer. That, to me, is heartbreaking. If you can’t identify three things you like about yourself, then, yeah, you’re not living the best life that you could live because you have to have love for yourself each and every day.

Jeff: Throughout our conversation, you talked about identifying those things that you love about yourself. Say I make a list and I write three things down that I love about myself. Then what do I do with that list?

Natasha: Out of that list, then it would depend on what you want. For instance, when I ask people and they’re struggling, say, in their career, now based on the things that they like, how many of those things are monetizable? How many of those things would go into their new job prospect? The list essentially attaches to something else. If you’re struggling with your career, if you’re struggling in your business, if you’re struggling as a writer, if you’re struggling with self-love, then you would attach that to that. But you have to be able to identify… at least start from that place of like, “What do I like about myself? What am I good at? What are things that make me happy?” Even that, happiness. People struggle with identifying happiness for themselves which is, again, deeply troubling.

Erik: Do you think that inner strength is maybe part of the solution to that, like really liking and being comfortable with yourself?

Natasha: It takes time because if you were to talk to me or if you were to go back in time and see me at 13, you would be like, “Wow. You were a hot mess.” Yes, I was. I was a hot mess because I wasn’t… In school, that’s why in schools… How we educate our children, I hope, I hope in 20 years, I hope to be a part of that process, but generally schools need to change. The curriculum needs to… They’re so focused on algebra and certain things that don’t necessarily apply to everyone, but you know what does apply to everyone? Self-love. What does apply to everyone is learning have to teach love, how to be kind to each other, how to have a form of acceptance. What does kindness look like in 2019? Things like that and so I would say it’s a journey.

Erik: I would take that class in a heartbeat.

Jeff: Yeah.

Erik: You just really gave me goosebumps. Why don’t they teach that in school?

Jeff: It is remarkable.

Erik: Is that what you’re starting to do?

Natasha: I definitely want to be a part of that. I’m a speaker for this organization called The Love Group. It’s 20 odd of us, I think maybe 26 of us. We go around and we do workshops, and we teach young girls the power of self-love and how to love yourself, how to be more confident, how to overcome certain obstacles. So, yeah, it’s definitely, I think, in the works. I always want to be a part of that initiative because that’s the stuff that changes the world. Yes, my husband’s an engineer. I get it C++, physics, that stuff matters. It doesn’t matter to me, but it matters to other people.

Erik: This is other people doing that.

Natasha: Different strokes for different folks. But education, for me, I think would make more sense in this country or in this world if it was tailored to who you’re going to be in this world and then really focus on making some of your strengths stronger. I’ve always been a public speaker. I’ve been doing public speaking since I was 14. So focusing my educational track on that, and then also what could we all use? The self-empowerment and learning how to love yourself, all that stuff. There’s a lot of bureaucracy in education, and so I think people do the same thing for a [crosstalk 00:47:33].

Erik: Well, the No Barriers Summit is going to be a beautiful opportunity for you. Because if it’s as half as interesting, a tenth as interesting as this interview, man, then people are going to walk away with some incredible insights and [crosstalk 00:47:46].

Jeff: You’re going to touch a lot of people, Natasha. You really are.

Natasha: Thank you.

Jeff: You’re going impact a lot of people because your message, it becomes this universal feel. You had your own set of people stealing your power early on. No matter what it was, whatever those things were, those characteristics, those things, we’ve all had that, and you have learned in your few years how to, then, turn that and manifest it. I tell you, you’re going to be around a very target-rich environment in Tahoe, and you are going to impact, I mean you already do, but you’ll impact a lot of folks from our community and we’re really grateful to you for who you are. You’re so wise. My gosh, you’re a wise person. I’m grateful to you.

Natasha: Oh, [crosstalk 00:48:35]. You got to read, guys. You got to [crosstalk 00:48:38].

Jeff: You’re really, really wise.

Erik: [crosstalk 00:48:38].

Natasha: Thank you.

Jeff: Thank you so much.

Erik: Thank you so much Natasha. [crosstalk 00:48:41] amazing.

Natasha: Thank you. Quite an honor.

Jeff: E-dub, I’m amazed at being amazed, so frequently I’m surprised in Natasha. I read about her. I listened to her beforehand, but of course, like life does, she completely blew me away with how eloquent and thoughtful she is and with this universal message. What’d you distill out from the whole thing, E-dub?

Erik: I had heard about The Secret, and I had read little bits and pieces of it. I never really quite understood this positive affirmation and the way the whole pattern and the cycles works. Natasha described it so well, this idea that you can only really control what’s inside of you. If you do that, the chances of those good opportunities and relationships and all the good things you’re hoping for, you dramatically increase the energy that brings those things into your life. I find it a super interesting philosophy or mindset. I think she articulated that incredibly well for a lot of people to get it in a concrete way.

Jeff: I just feel the authenticity is such the backbone of her message, and we could all use that because this society that we live in starts to get diluted from authenticity. How to be true to yourself, that’s the most authentic thing you can be. The most authentic version of you is to love yourself even with the rollercoaster of emotions that we all go through and not allowing shame or guilt to be an overriding factor in who you are. I feel like our community could all use a big bite of that and understanding that we should not revolve around this shameful, guilt-riddled orbit that I think a lot of people do.

Erik: No, that was awesome, yeah. Really grateful to Natasha. Looking forward to meeting her. Thanks everyone. No Barrier.

Jeff: See you next time. (singing)

Dave: Thanks to all of you for listening to our podcast. We know that you have a lot of choices about how you can spend your time, and so we appreciate you spending it with us. If you enjoy this podcast, we encourage you to subscribe to it, share it, and give us a review. Show notes can be found at nobarrierspodcast.com. Special thanks to the Dan Ryan Band for our intro song which is called, Guidance. The production team behind this podcast includes producers Didrik Johnck and Pauline Popdora], sound design, editing and mixing by Tyler Kottman, graphics by Sam Davis, and marketing support by Karly Sandsmark and Jaime Donnelly. Thanks to all of you amazing people for the great work you do.

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