HERE's MY STORY...
In 1985, I was born in San Francisco, CA to drug addicted parents. My parents were not married and were often breaking up and making up - my two younger siblings are the result of each of their reunions. My brother was born in Irvine, CA and my sister was born in Queens, NY - as you can see, we bounced around A LOT. Eighteen months later, my mom passed away. I don't remember much about my mom other than the days leading up to her death.
Once, during a meltdown she told me I was pretty and smashed my face into a mirror - that I'll never forget. After that, I remember she slept almost all day every day. I'd come home from school and have to stare hard at her to make sure she was still breathing. I also assumed the role of "mom" in my household and began tending to my younger siblings - cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, all while doing well in school and trying desperately to seem normal. To be honest, my mom's death is still very confusing to me, probably because I was only seven years old at the time.
Eventually, my father moved us back to Southern California in order to get some help from my aunt and grandma - three young children are quite the handful for an addict. We lived in our own apartment and my aunt and grandma had no idea of the chaos we were experiencing. The abuse. The neglect. The deep emotional scars. My dad was dealing with his own pain from my Mom's death and became even more addicted to drugs, and became less and less useful. I always knew when we didn't have any money because he would go through withdrawals and not get out of bed for days at a time (and be an absolute terror to be around). He'd send me to buy cigarettes and alcohol, and he would take us along when he finally had money to buy drugs. I would sit in the car and sing at the top of my lungs to distract me and the kids from what was happening. I remember a drug dealer telling me that he could hear me singing and that I was something special - such a strangely vivid memory. It was obvious when we had money (somehow) again because he was energetic, happy and high again. In a weird way, I began to prefer him high, which made me feel guilty. Still not even a pre-teen, it was my job to take care of our home, feed my siblings, change diapers, get them dressed, help with homework, etc... I'd sometimes get visited by social workers at school, but I would lie to make things sound better. I still feel betrayed by the social worker who told me my secrets were safe - because they were at my house later that day. It's weird how bonded victims get to their abusers - I understand that now.
Music became a huge outlet for me - from church and school choirs, to recording songs in our garage on the reel-to-reel recorder my dad set up, music was an integral part of my life. Though many of my memories of my dad are truly painful, I do credit him in a myriad of ways for my love of music and songwriting. For a few years, he would require me to write a poem every single day. I learned how to express myself and immerse myself in the emotions of music from my dad. I'll never forget him being so excited about the songs that he wrote and how he was always looking at the deeper meaning of songs and their lyrics rather than what was on the surface (he mainly thought every song was about drugs, but still...). He was the first to bring me to a real recording studio (how we paid for it, I'll never know), he infused in me my deep [nearly psychotic] love of Michael Jackson and my affinity for literally everything Sade. And he showed me how someone who was completely tortured could find true joy in the universal language of music. It was at the age of 10 that I decided I wanted to be a singer.
Eventually my dad started to get into some legal trouble around his addiction and we ended up needing to live with our aunt/grandma who started to fight for custody of us. Unfortunately my dad's addiction got the best of him and he passed away in 1996 - I was 11 years old. My aunt - single mom of one, took in all three of us and eventually we were legally adopted by her. I became oldest of four and even though I was great at school, had great friends, etc.. I still struggled ... and continue to struggle with many of the emotional traumas I experienced as a child. This turned into masochistic behavior and disordered eating all while trying to maintain the appearance of being "normal".
As a young adult, I didn't know how to experience love or receive love and spent many years spinning my wheels with silly relationships and bouncing from job to job. I could spend an eternity explaining all of the ways I ruined my life, my credit and my integrity over a period of six years, but I'll save that for another time. God had a different plan for me and eventually started to align many things in my life perfectly. I started to get some help with my emotional issues, left a very toxic relationship and later found my amazing husband. My husband has been through his own share of heartache, but we both have learned that life is what we make of it. We have chosen to forgive, let the past be the past and not be defined by our story. Yet through music, I've determined to share my story with the hopes of potentially helping people as much as possible.
After dabbling in many different jobs and random ventures, in July of 2014, I founded my company Nuila Events, LLC. We are a corporate and business meeting and events company, specializing in sourcing hotels for clients - we recently negotiated $1.6 million in concessions for a client. I started a group here in Orange County called The Honest Entrepreneur Collective (Formerly OC Young Entrepreneurs) and we engage over 2,000 local young entrepreneurs. I'm on the Board of the Boy's and Girl's Club in Capistrano Valley and spent the last 3.5 years years mentoring teens at church. I absolutely love the work I've gotten to do, but I still wasn't feeling fully fulfilled.
Last year a friend and coach, Luke Brady, helped me realize that music/singing is still my greatest passion. Through everything, that's what I've always come back to. So, I started writing and recording music again and have slowly allowed myself to share this dream of mine with friends and family, but it is terrifying. I don't claim to know much and I'm certainly nowhere near problem-free at this point in my life. In fact, I started pursuing music a half a second before getting diagnosed with Bell's Palsy. This has meant trying to sing at church, gigs and record without being able to fully control my mouth/lips. It's been a slow recovery, but I am grateful for the experience because I've learned a ton about myself in the process. I just believe that my life and struggles have purpose, and I believe strongly that my dreams are what continuously get me through dark times. The pragmatic world teaches us not to dream, to be practical and responsible and focus on education and finding a great/reliable job, but I just don't believe in that approach - at least not for folks like me. I think that God gives us our passions for a reason and I want to use mine to connect, relate, inspire, encourage, empower, build up and ignite people to action!
My life has taught me that God allowed me to go through things so that I can be helpful to others and so that I'd have the character and the grit to be able to handle the opportunities that have now arisen. I teach the young entrepreneur crew and I share with everyone closest to me how much I believe that we all need to be tapping into our deepest passions and pursuing them. Even if it's only one tiny step at a time - it's our lifeline mentally, emotionally and spiritually - and possibly why God put us here on earth. I appreciate the opportunity to share my passions with you.