My path as a Shift Stirrer™ traces back to my humble roots. Raised in Section 8 housing by my fiercely loving single mother and my two older brothers, I felt branded by our circumstances and struggled with a persistent sense of shame and an all-consuming feeling of “other.” These thoughts and feeling were overwhelming, and at times debilitating. Deep down, I was a sweet, thoughtful child who spent most of my time daydreaming of modeling in New York City, Paris, and Milan. To the outside world, I presented as an entirely different person: fierce, defensive, and combative. This was my family’s code of honor and our most deeply-held tribal belief: that if we were feared, no one could hurt us.
So, I armored up with an arsenal of defenses: verbal knives, emotional swords, and the shield of an us-against-them mentality that masked my deep shame. I threatened peers, told off teachers, and threw chairs in fits of rage. I was sent to 6 different alternative schools from junior high to high school. I was still in the “I of the Stir™” by my late teens when I finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of landing my first modeling contract. My destructive behavior almost derailed my career before it could begin. At my very first booking, I battled it out with a fellow model over SHOES! Yes, you read that right, shoes! The next morning, I received a stern warning from my agent.
It was a sobering wake-up call: If I wanted a shot at my dream, I had to choose another way of being. It was time to lay down the sword.
Modeling became my entry point into the shift that I so desperately needed. As I changed into beautiful and delicate designer clothing and looked in the mirror, I was able to see myself differently. If I was going to be successful at the only career I ever wanted, I would have to embody a softer and kinder persona. This required me to take off my armor, lay down my sword, and be vulnerable to a new me.
This is when I started my lifelong journey of soul-searching and committed myself to unwind my old beliefs, challenge my own ego’s authority, and ask myself the big questions. Eventually, I began to share my fears, insecurities, and shame. I devoured self-help books, threw myself into intensive workshops, sat with my thoughts, and had raw and vulnerable conversations with close girlfriends and family.
What I realized as I started to SIT and SIFT through my beliefs, feelings and reactions —what rang true to the greatest depths of myself —was that to be healthy, whole, and happy, I had to be open and honest with myself and others about what was really going on inside of me. As I started to share my Real Reel™ instead of the highlight reel of my life, it served as a powerful magnet for connection. It became clear that I had more in common with the people around me than I had assumed. We are all Same, Same but Different™.
As I exposed my authentic self, Own Your Awful™ emerged. I gave a voice to my fears, worries, and flaws —no matter how ugly or painful they were. Instead of masking them under an armor of defense, I discovered the world-changing powers of the SHARE. This is where many shifts began to happen and I started to fall in love with the real Tinamarie.
This SHIFT would not only benefit my life as a model—leading to real, meaningful relationships and a successful 15-year career but every aspect of my being. My bonds with my friends became more authentic. My connection with my partner became infinitely deeper.
I am living proof of Magic in the Mundane™: how everyday experiences and interactions can produce incredible moments of truth, wisdom, opportunity, and game changing life lessons. When we open ourselves up, we can receive gifts beyond our wildest imagination.
Today, that scared little girl who acted out of fear of weakness feels an exhilarating strength in sharing my full and imperfect self with the world.
My dream is that we all dare to STIR, SIT, SIFT, SHARE, and SHIFT to experience true freedom.