From disgruntled employee to broke entrepreneur – here is the story of how motherhood forced me to get my shit together. .
Hey! I’m Shereen Thor and here is my story ❤
I was a disgruntled cubicle monkey who followed the rules until my inner rebel got woke and finally broke out of the 9-5. Entrepreneurship was my jam and I was addicted. It was the ride of my life until I went broke, burnt out, developed depression & some serious health issues (so hot I know).
My fiancé almost didn’t marry me as a result of my wild financial instability Lol. But somehow, we still walked down the aisle, had two kids and after becoming a mom I learned how to do entrepreneurship in a way that would honor the freedom, health and quality of life I was hoping for in the first place.
It’s crazy that it took two pregnancies on bed rest, being at risk for preterm labor, a hospitalization and postpartum depression to wake my ass up. But after it all I finally changed the way I do life and business to be balanced, happy and whole.
Here is the story of how motherhood forced me to get my shit together.
I was born into a broken home. My parents divorced when I was 1 because my father was physically abusive. He used to hit my mom when I was in her womb. Dark I know, but it’s all relevant I promise.
I quickly learned that my single immigrant mom was tired and tapped, so I adapted by becoming super independent so I wouldn’t turn into a burden. I also learned that while my father was well intended, he suffered from mental illness and was deeply flawed. This was the beginning of my obsession with human behavior, though I didn’t even know it yet.
I never felt like I fit in in high school. This made no sense because I was great at sports, and generally popular, but I just never felt like I belonged.
I couldn’t get into the power and politics of bullshit popularity contests. I felt like it was all so stupid. I thought the nerds were fascinating, and the skaters were cool. I thought the jocks were talented and the mean girls were pretty. I liked people for who they were not what power they possessed under a value system that seemed wack. I was about the underdog. Defending the nice girl being called ugly against the popular people who liked to put her down.
So, I decided to opt out of the popular group, and they hated me for it. I was a weird rebel girl, and while I had all the makings of someone who could have been accepted in that arena, I wanted no part of it. I am slightly embarrassed to say that I was voted homecoming queen which is pure comedy because I couldn’t have cared less. I never wanted to be the queen, I just wanted to be free.
The Gut Punch.
My dad died the summer before my senior year. I was only 17, and it was shocking. It’s still shocking to me now, and I feel the urge to cry as I type these words. Even though my dad was deeply flawed, he was still the one I got in this lifetime. Mortality hit me like a gut punch, and I was forever changed.
I knew that as an Egyptian I was expected to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer. That’s what all of us do, but that wasn’t me. And if you know anything about immigrant families it’s that they only offer one type of love – the conditional kind.
Fall in line or be rejected. Be successful (in the way they define success) or be an embarrassment. Secretly I was a creative type, a wild child, a free spirit. All these rules grated against my soul and made me feel trapped. This system just wasn’t for me.
I was caught between two choices:
1. Become a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Be deeply religious and dutiful. Get married & make babies. If I did this, I would finally feel like I belonged in my family & culture. I would gain the love and acceptance from my mother that I so deeply desired, and I would be seen as acceptable in the eyes of my community.
2. Walk to the beat of my own drum. Dance, sing, create, explore, be an artist, be free, be adventurous, unbridled and untamed. Feel that soul satiation you get when you truly know who you are, what you want, and you don’t apologize for it. Be the truth.
What was a young Shereenie to do? I literally had no idea how to be me without disappointing my family and feeling rejected. So…
I would love to tell you that I chose one or the other, but unfortunately I decided to just skate down the middle and go unnoticed. To get a C+ at life. Knowing that no one would ever be super proud of me, but they also couldn’t go so far as to be deeply ashamed of me either.
I was lukewarm. Thinking about it now it makes me want to vomit lol. But at the time it was the best I could do. So instead of majoring in dance I majored in Human Communication Studies at Cal State Fullerton. It was definitely interesting and answered many questions I had about human behavior. I got certified as a mediator and started to mediate small claims at the
Fullerton Courthouse. It was good enough.
Adulting so hard.
I graduated, did the quintessential Europe trip and quickly landed a 9-5 job where I felt like a caged monkey in a cubicle. I lived in my dad’s old house that I now owned. And aside from the marriage and babies according to most people’s standards I had achieved The American dream.
Then why did I feel empty inside? Why did I look around my life and feel a deep sense of disenchantment that haunted me all the way to my bones? Other people seemed happy with their office jobs and normal lives. I just figured there must be something wrong with me and tried to put my head down and keep going.
At this juncture, I was also deeply disappointed by many of my relationships both romantic and with close friends. My young adult self was getting hopeless about not only my career, but life in general.
Three months into my job I was sexually harassed. This work environment celebrated the girls with big racks & small voices who did what they were told. My voice was huge, and my rack was small lol, so once again I didn’t fit in.
A male coworker who didn’t seem to like my sassy personality would jokingly make comments about how I needed to tone it down, and I would always snap right back (jokingly of course). It was an ongoing contentious banter.
One day I was sitting at my desk when he walked into my office, closed the door behind him, hovered over me and said, “If you don’t lose your attitude, I am going to bend you over this desk and spank you.”
I played the tough girl even though I was pretty jolted by this intimidation tactic and quickly told him to get out. I ended up telling the superiors and the one that held all the power in no uncertain terms said, “But he was joking right? You can still work with him, right?” And holding tears back I said yes.
Every day after that staying at that job felt like another layer of dignity being stripped away from me. But I was afraid to leave so early for fear that I wouldn’t be able to get another job, or that it would look bad on my resume. So I stayed. It was a slow death of my self-respect. 😢
Luckily a friend of mine had just drank a mad amount of Kool aid at a seminar she went to and was obsessing over me having the same experience. I blew her off for months but the people pleaser in me couldn’t bear to say no to my bestie one more time so I finally gave in. I registered for it, and immediately regretted it hard.
When I finally went, I had my arms crossed and was all pissed about how I didn’t want to be there in the first place. I asked for a refund and their policy was that I had to attend the entire weekend, but if I didn’t get anything out of it at the end then I could get my money back. So, I stayed.
Thank God for that refund policy. Whatever old school immigrant programming I had about following the rules and abandoning my truth was busted up. After that seminar I quit a master’s degree program and started to do stand-up comedy. How’s that for being an embarrassment mom? lol.
For the next few years I did every personal development class, seminar and retreat that this company offered. All of the ALIVEness I felt from this new version of life was transforming me in a way that my soul deeply needed. I also continued to do stand-up comedy alongside all of my leadership development training. Comedy and personal transformation became my two loves. Right when I started getting scouted by MTV, E! and VH1 I felt the ache in my heart to go all in on coaching.
So I gave stand up a rest, and took the next step to get certified in coaching. I did a year long program at the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC) and became a Certified Professional Coach (CPC). I also did two certification programs in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). I still liked to be on the mic, but only if I was able to be authentic & talk about something meaningful.
I did an Oprah Winfrey recap show on Afterbuzz TV, offered my first motivational workshop, and took the leap to quit my job. Freedom and dignity were mine for the taking.
I found a new job, hated the boss and quit. I dabbled in network marketing, real estate investing, read the 4-Hour Work Week and Rich Dad Poor Dad. I was changing…
Unfortunately, without a stable income I couldn’t keep that shit going lol, so I swiftly accrued mad amounts of debt and had creditors calling me non stop. I moved back into my childhood room at my mom’s house, went into a deep depression & was completely embarrassed of myself.
But wait? Wasn’t this supposed to be my road to freedom? Then why didn’t I feel free?
Sometimes Your Soul is LOUD.
I settled the debt, got a job doing sales for Xerox and moved in with a roomie in Beverly Hills. I also met Kenny at this juncture, and we started dating. I didn’t really like my job much, and it was barely enough to put food on the table but at least I was “normal” again. Less of an embarrassment lol.
The Thursday night of my first week of training I couldn’t sleep a wink (and for those of you who don’t know, I am the sleep QUEEN, so this was weird).
The whole night I was plagued by this ONE THOUGHT, “What if I never write a book? What if I have a boring normal life and never realize my dream of becoming an author?”
What? My soul wanted me to write?!? I had never lost sleep over anything before, so this became a guiding factor for me.
While I worked my job, I wrote my first book The Coolest Quote Book Eva. I started to dabble in hiring help on Upwork to get my shit created rather than doing it myself (and never getting it done). I was featured as an author at UCI which was a highlight for me because I was able to speak to these students about the concept of truly following your soul’s calling rather than being a cog in a wheel. It was a glorious moment for me.
I was still too afraid to take the plunge and commit to entrepreneurship, but my dabbling grew into a full on side hustle. I did more workshops, worked with more clients, got more testimonials and got to do my own talk show on an
international network called CSAT.TV. I would jokingly call myself the Egyptian Oprah, but jokes aside it was a dream come true.
About a year and a half later I moved in with Kenny to a super cool beach apartment in Venice, and got a different job that gave me a bit more money and freedom so I was able to do even more workshops & coaching. This was a life that started to resemble the one I was losing sleep over just a year and a half ago.
True love, a bad ass beach apartment, an interesting career where my soul was truly expressed and I got to make a positive difference in the world. I even drove a mini cooper convertible stick shift around and felt fancy free. I would rollerblade by the beach with my German Shepherd Rambo…this was the life.
After 1 year of working that new job (which allowed me to side hustle so hard), they let me go and I took it as a sign from the Universe that it was time to finally grab my lady balls (or ovaries rather) and do coaching & entrepreneurship for real.
Entrepreneurship is no joke.
I hired a mentor (because God knows I had no fucking idea what in the hell I was doing). And honestly, I don’t think I really trusted myself to be able to do it without guidance. My whole family was all employees so I had no examples of anyone in my life who had become a successful business owner.
She was disgustingly expensive, and I had all the hope in the world she would save my life. Show me the ropes, usher me into a greater way of living where I finally made what I was worth, while contributing to the world in a way that made my soul sing.
3 months into her program I was broker than when I started and burning myself out like never before. When no money is coming in unless you sell something, IT’S STRESSFUL. And when you work hard and see no reward it’s stressful. So, I burnt out FAST.
I remember crying when I realized we had run out of toilet paper and I needed to go to the grocery store to buy some (for those of you who don’t know, this is a sign you are depressed). I didn’t know it at the time, but I was experiencing depression, and I started to develop some concerning health issues.
I got gastritis and became at risk for type 2 diabetes.I certainly won’t blame it on this mentor because it wasn’t her fault, but I believe she was lacking the depth and nuance needed to deal with a client like myself who was struggling so hard.
We were on a group coaching call and I mentioned the health issues + feeling burnt out and asked her if she had ever struggled with newbie entrepreneur burnout and she said, “There is a difference between selling and talking about selling.”
I was crushed (and embarrassed). I was basically asking for her to keep it real with me and relate with me on having struggles, and she shamed me for not being strong enough or selling more.
Right then I knew she wasn’t the mentor for me. I needed someone with more emotional depth, who would support me in paving a way in entrepreneurship that wouldn’t hurt my health. Someone who could be more sensitive to me when I was in a time of darkness. After all I became an entrepreneur so that I could thrive. Not so that I could struggle to even survive.
I was too chicken shit to bow out of her program (and break my commitment) so I continued to pay her $1700 per month for the next 3 months even though I was completely checked out (WTF?!).
Building the Brand.
I started to work with a company that did branding (another exorbitantly expensive one that was recommended by my good old mentor). They quoted me $10K and it ended up being $20K. “Oops! It just took more time than we thought” they said.
But again I was too chicken shit to just say no. I paid them and had to borrow money from momma to do it. This was so humbling.
Do you see the pattern? I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t disappoint my old mentor, or this branding dude in the same way I couldn’t disappoint my mom or the Egyptian community.
While I was paving my way, and building my rebellion I still had this old pattern of trying to do what other people wanted me to do at my own expense.
And now that I was an entrepreneur I was seeing how this not only costs dignity & personal power, but it was now costing me my money & my health.
Awaken The Rebel.
The rebel brand came to life and it was glorious. A beautiful reflection of what my soul desperately needed to thrive in my own skin. I NEEDED TO AWAKEN MY OWN REBEL. First from my mothers’ expectations and now from going broke as an entrepreneur. I did a tele summit called the Cubicle Monkey Revolution. It was all about rebelling against the 9-5 to live an extraordinary life. This put me on the map. It built my email list. It connected me with 30 thought leaders in the conscious community and for the first time in my entire life I felt like I belonged.
This community of people who were into growth, ethics, morals, love, and changing the world for the better. Certainly, there were the crooks and hucksters lol, but at least I was on to something.
Kenny and I got engaged when the brand & summit were launching and life started to feel like it was truly blossoming.
Marriage & Preggo-town.
I was planning a wedding while doing the tele summit. My entire life was coming together. My purpose, my business, my sense of belonging, love. All the questions I had asked myself my entire life felt like they were finally being answered.
Kenny and I got married and had our first baby 6 months later (yeah you can do the math lol). Sorry mom haha embarrassing you is my jam!
Maya was our baby, she made me a mom. She also beat the shit out of me from the moment she was conceived lol. My first pregnancy I was riddled with anxiety, depression, and on top of that I was on bed rest because I was at risk for preterm labor. So this exciting time of getting married and having babies really turned into the demise of my freedom.
This was hard. I had to sell off my bad ass mini cooper convertible and buy the quintessential mom SUV. This was symbolic in so many ways of how I feel my life had to change to become a mom, and I can honestly say I wasn’t ready.
I resented it. My pregnancy sucked. For the first time Kenny and I experienced some serious fighting since he had freedom and I didn’t. I felt trapped at home, while I watched him live his life. I know this is a story about how motherhood helped me get my shit together, but it had to break me first lol.
Maya made me a Mom.
Maya was born (4 weeks early, but totally healthy) and I never could have anticipated the pain and suffering that happens when you have a colicky baby and undiagnosed postpartum depression. The torture and sleep deprivation were unbearable. The isolation was insane. By week 4 I was thinking of suicide. I felt so detached and alone. Looking back now it was SO FUCKING OBVIOUS that I had postpartum depression but they said it was the baby blues, so I believed them.
I also didn’t really tell anyone I had those thoughts…I just kept them to myself. At my 6-week checkup I made the doctor think I was great. I wanted to get an A+ on the “How are you doing at motherhood and life?” exam. And I did. At my own expense. That A+ costed me 9 more months of spinning, suffering and sucking at this thing we call life. Finally, my husband saw it.
He called me and I started crying and I said, “I think I just need to make more money in my business” and he said, “No babe. I think there’s something else going on.”
Breaking Down Old Beliefs.
He was right. I finally went to a postpartum therapist, got on some holistic supplements that help with happy thoughts, and started working out daily to combat depression. It worked. I realized that I needed to put myself higher on my list of priorities. Sure, this was chemical or hormonal, but it was also the perfect storm. I put my kid, my husband and my business before myself. I was 4th on my own list of priorities. It was a recipe for disaster.
For the first time in my life I also realized that coaching hurt me. I relied so heavily on my own ability to self-motivate that I kept thinking there was something else I should do. Something that must be wrong with ME if I couldn’t fix my moods. I needed the help of a therapist not a coach.
I also didn’t ask for help enough from my family, husband or friends when it came to the baby. My old programming from when I was young of not wanting to be a burden just DIDN’T WORK in this new life. I was crumbling. So, I needed to find a new way to “be” that allowed me to receive support not only for my own health but for the health of my entire family.
My definition of success also needed to change. Oprah and Marie Forleo had been my model for what successful female entrepreneurs with a creative streak looked like. But my life now looked different then theirs. They didn’t have kids of their own. Would I never be successful since I did? I had to find new models for what success looked like that included motherhood.
I also realized that all the ads selling making money in your sleep on the beach were a lie too. You could make money in your sleep, but you couldn’t necessarily thwart tough times in life or guarantee happiness.
At this juncture I lived by the beach, married the man of my dreams, had my first child, and STILL felt darker than I had ever felt in my entire life. This was a mental health conversation not a coaching conversation, and that changed everything for me.
From thinking I had all the answers to realizing that life was WAY MORE COMPLEX than I thought. In a lot of ways, I think this was the deepening that made me a WAY BETTER coach, wife, mom, and human than ever before.
The juxtaposition of the joy I was “supposed to” feel vs. the darkness I actually felt was mind boggling. So as you can imagine the crumbling of tons of old beliefs and the confusion that came with the degradation of my old self was very disconcerting. But luckily I adopted new beliefs that supported me in this new version of my life and rehabilitated myself out of darkness towards the light.
One main belief that had to get deconstructed was the belief that it wasn’t okay to experience negative emotions. There is often an energy in the coaching world where they encourage you to bypass uncomfortable emotions and just KEEP. THINKING. POSITIVE. I think this is largely a result of everyone watching The Secret and not wanting to “attract negativity” into their lives.
This is also extremely destructive. Life cannot be 100% positive, and if you are striving for that then you are missing out. Negative emotions are a valuable and necessary part of the cycles of life so if you avoid them you are avoiding a big part of the experience. Our soul’s need space to breathe, they can’t be suffocated by this neurotic need for constant positivity all the time, so this was a huge lesson for me.
Luke made us a family.
Once Maya was 18 months old, I decided that it was time to get knocked up again lol. I was on bed rest for 6 months with my second pregnancy which was hard, but luckily since I had already done the whole momma identity transition, I was more relaxed about the whole thing this time.
I had already been a mom for a year and a half, knew I needed to ask for more help and shattered my coachy bullshit. This time I wanted to do it differently. I talked to my husband about us supporting each other more. Instead of our old model of Win-Lose where he got to live his life and I didn’t, we would slow down. We would be more Win-Win.
We were just acting out of our old programming when we had Maya and just fell into this win/lose pattern by default. Which was easy for me as a person who likes to make others happy and not disappoint. But this time we would be more of a team.
The big scare.
When I was 24 weeks pregnant (6 months), I went to a regular check up and the doctor was so afraid that I was about to go into labor that he admitted me to the hospital immediately. At 24 weeks a baby can either die or have such a failure to thrive that they may be better off dead.
It was November of 2016 and this is when I realized that the one and only thing I could do to help ensure a healthy baby was to relax. Rid myself of all the stress of the world. And just keep this baby IN.
This was when I realized the power of the feminine. To just relax and allow people to support me was a massive life altering lesson for me. From being a child who tried not to need anything to being a mom who needed help with basically EVERYTHING for the health of this unborn baby was a radical experiment in learning how to ask for help.
I started to really embody feminine energy and appreciate feeling supported by the masculine. Something that was foreign to me given that I was raised by a single Mom. It was a healing experience. I realized that I had lived most of my life in a masculine manner celebrating accomplishments and measuring my worth through dollar signs, yet it occurred to me that the feminine was magnetic. She relaxes and lets people come to her like a Queen. She makes tons happen, but she doesn’t necessarily do it all herself. This was an invaluable lesson.
Embracing Motherhood (and finally getting my shit together).
There was something about this pregnancy, all I had been through prior and my desire to do it differently in the future that made me realize I needed to embrace motherhood in a way that I was resisting the first time around.
So I did, and what ended up happening was magical.
I focused on happiness more than I focused on success. I focused on making MYSELF happy more than I focused on making other people happy. I put myself first. I cared for me. I let people help me, and gave gratitude. I discussed and negotiated with my husband to illicit his support rather than doing it all myself (and secretly being resentful). And as a result, so much became clear.
I realized that entrepreneurship and motherhood were both very chaotic and unstable (at least in their infancy stages) and both happened for me at the same time.
I realized that stability is NOT overrated, and while I was still a freedom lover who needed to run wild and free, I also needed to feel safe and secure like nothing would come before my health. Not freedom, not money, not success, nothing.
From that clarity around my needs for freedom + security I decided that I wanted to do 50% wild creative rebel entrepreneur, and 50% freelance coach/facilitator/host.
I started freelancing as an executive coach which created stability, legitimacy and ease. At first I was afraid that this was me selling out since I had done so much work to become a rebel entrepreneur. But I quickly realized that my rebel perspective was exactly what organizations needed to honor themselves and their souls while doing great work in the world. It was a beautiful Win-Win.
No hustle energy necessary I would just coach the client and send an invoice. Getting paid my worth and feeling valued all the while feeling like it was easy and relaxed vs. stressful and straining was magical for me.
I also started to open back up to my creative side by getting back into stand up comedy, hosting and learning to play the ukulele. My creativity now doesn’t feel separate from my work, it actually fuels it. It just effortlessly raises my vibe and I’m able to be the best coach, wife, mom & entrepreneur that I can be. So now when I do retreat facilitation for organizations I bring the Uke with me 😉
So now it’s part of my practice to do creative things and integrate them into my lifestyle. My main focus with Awaken The Rebel is the podcast. It gives me a space to feel self expressed and like I have complete creative freedom. I get to speak as much truth as I want, about whatever I want with whoever I want.
Retreats are my JAM. The freedom that comes from detaching from technology and the noise of society is more magical than any book or seminar could ever be. I offer my moms retreat bi-annually and it’s a blast.
We also offer coaching for men and women who desire a more intimate version of support. This helps people to navigate their lives according to their souls, because quieting the noise can be hard (especially when the noise is in your own head lol). So if you are interested in coaching there’s some info here.
We also do Monthly Momma Mastermind Calls at a low cost to support entrepreneur moms in getting clarity and strategy on how to take action on their dreams while rocking the balance of motherhood. This makes coaching more accessible and creates a sense of community because let’s be honest motherhood and entrepreneurship can both be very lonely journeys if we don’t get connected.
I hired an associate coach, a podcast producer and have a team to support the movement. This makes it so that I get to stay in my lane, and do the things I love while feeling like the business can keep growing even when I bury myself in a book for a few days or insist on frolicking in the woods with my uke.
I took a course on Positive Psychology which is all about what truly makes us as humans feel happy & thrive based on research. This has helped me tremendously to balance the desire for success and weigh it against what actually makes people happy based on the scientific research. So now there’s a more grounded approach to my life & how we coach our clients.
I have shifted my work and career to truly support me in the ENERGY I want to have in my life rather than chasing money, success or fame to validate my existence.
Where we’re at now.
I still miss my mini cooper convertible lol, so I am looking into purchasing a Vespa so that I can feel the wind in my hair (and avoid LA traffic lol). Or maybe I’ll get a Jeep so that I can have the kids with me and we can ALL
have the wind in our hair lol. I am not sure yet…
But it feels good to be recalibrating in a way that will honor what truly gives me LIFE in this life rather than just following the “supposed tos.”
Kenny and I are always working hard on maintaining the balance, and as the kids get older it gets easier. I actually think all of these struggles and hard times were to heal some old familial wounds so ultimately it’s been for the better. Sometimes when Kenny and I are having trouble getting on the same page we go see our couples therapist (because I’m all about help these days lol).
I am now playing in an adult soccer league on Sundays, and Kenny plays flag football on Saturdays which keeps us having fun and feeling active. Soccer is like a moving meditation for me I get completely out of my head and into my body, it’s pure magic. ⚽
I’m also co-hosting Up Late with Brian Moote which has been super fun and allows me to be in my creativity yet totally authentic at the same time. I still suck at the Ukulele lol, but I love that I now know how to play and I can keep learning 😄. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s balanced. Now there’s room for my family, my career, my creativity and me.
It feels worlds better than it did before. I am able to enjoy my little sweeties because I feel like I get to still have a life while momming so hard. It makes me feel so much more happy and fulfilled.
I get away from it all more, carve out time for fun and take better care of my health. I do what I need to be happy because my kids and my hubs not only need me, but they need the BEST of me.
I truly believe that women run the climate of the family (and the world – thank you Beyonce) so it’s important for us to make our needs a priority.
I am into women advocating for themselves so that we have a more balanced family & society. And I believe we are all learning how to do that better together (men and women alike).
Awaken The Rebel is my effort to help us get this much needed time for ourselves so that we can tune inward and know what we truly desire so that we are directing our lives accurately according to the map of our soul rather
than reacting to the noise of societal or familial pressures.
I am still learning how to rock this balance, but I’m on the right path now and that feels like half the battle. If you have made it all the way to the end of this page then WHOA. THANK YOU 🙂
This contact form goes directly into my personal inbox so feel free to connect, say hi, ask a question or tell me how you relate to my crazy story! Looking forward to hearing from you, xo.