As I lay on the ground, my child’s father kicking me repeatedly in what was the most brutal beating yet, it didn’t feel real. What was happening to me then was a far cry from the fun-loving and hard-working household where I grew up…a home I had left voluntarily during my senior year of high school and then found out I was pregnant on top of it. Refusing the open arms and loving assistance of my parents– crushing them, I got an apartment on Broadway for myself and my boyfriend. I worked a full-time job while attending school full-time, allowing me to graduate. I had my son a month later.

Gone were my plans to go to college. I was a mom now. I wanted to help my boyfriend—to fix him, but as I nursed my wounds from punches to my stomach and head, I realized it had to get better. The playful, giggly girl who loved life wholeheartedly had given way to a victim of domestic violence whose self-esteem was crumbling away. I knew I needed sole custody of my baby, which the courts awarded within a couple of months. Eventually, after a torturous, grueling, and expensive five-year court battle, a judge terminated all of my son’s father’s and grandmother’s visitation. You just never give up when it comes to your children.

During the court battle years, I met and married a great guy who helped me rebuild my self-esteem and bring back my giggly self. He provided an extended loving family to which we added a baby girl. I studied criminal justice at college and worked in a floral department and doctor’s office, eventually turning in a new direction: real estate.

Obtaining my real estate license was not easy while working full-time and being mom to two kids, not to mention the academic aspects of it. In high school, I had been the girl who fell asleep during the first two classes and who didn’t get the best grades. That was about to change drastically as I reinvented myself, fueled by the prospects of a new career. With the support of my family, I buckled down and did my absolute best to be the best student I could possibly be, persevering and facing my fears about taking the state exams. In my mind, failure was not an option.

I did pass the state exams and obtained my real estate license. For six years, I worked for a firm that specialized in flipping houses, eventually becoming its acquisitions manager, training new agents and closing an average of 70 deals a year. I earned my broker’s license, again hitting the books and passing the tests.

While successful in my job, I wanted more from my real estate career. I learned that I wanted my own voice. I wanted my own brand.

First I had to fight my demon—that naysayer in my head who wanted to know how a teen mom who endured daily beatings and was now in the middle of a separation in her marriage could even entertain the idea of being on her own with two kids and no guaranteed paycheck in an industry where paydays only come when you close a deal. Even my employer at the time told me I would fail. However, a fire ignited in my belly, and the desire to grow and achieve more left any demons in the dust. Just watch me, I thought.

That was four years ago. Now, I own a real estate firm where I generated 15 million of the 16 million in revenue last year. Per an agreement with my former employer, I start out with zero clients. Today, I have more than just a client base, but a group of clients whom I cherish like family with relationships that continue far beyond closings.

I’ve not only had professional achievement, but personal success, too. I’m the mom of three beautiful children, a puppy, a cat, and a bearded dragon lizard. I met the love of my life, Jay. I had never met someone so in love, devoted, and supportive in my life. Our marriage is enveloped in patience and understanding. We welcomed a son in 2020. We share sweet laughter over stupid jokes, like our nontraditional gender roles, as I try to wear the pants in the family, drawing on those years I was on my own. Despite his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I tell him to stay put with our baby while I check out noises in the night. Or I walk around with a power drill, level and pencil while he cooks dinner.

My life experiences, as horrific and trying as some of them turned out to be, are challenges conquered that have formed a solid foundation for my life and continued expansion professionally and personally as I turn 40. Despite all I had been through, I had the courage deep within me to do away with excuses and chase after my dreams. Now I choose to live every day to its fullest, cherishing every moment with this fabulous little tribe I’ve created that will always be my everything.

In 2023 and beyond, I hope you’ll do the same.

Stand up for yourself.
Be unapologetically authentic.
Love hard.
Take care of yourself.
Find your Zen.
Dream your biggest dreams and work toward them every day.

Here’s cheers to 2023!