'Live & Learn' with Shivraj Parshad

Ep.9 The Coming Out Coaches Lucie and Vanessa

June 14, 2021 Shivraj Parshad Season 4 Episode 9
'Live & Learn' with Shivraj Parshad
Ep.9 The Coming Out Coaches Lucie and Vanessa
Show Notes Transcript

Coming out can be a scary proposition for anyone on the spectrum of LGBTQ+. Yet, with a little guidance and support it can also be revealing and give you a sense of peace of mind. Which is why this episode is even more special. I’m joined from Switzerland by Lucie (Mind Coach) and Vanessa (Body Coach) who call themselves The Coming Out Coaches. In this 30 minute conversation they hold back nothing. As I question them, they reveal their own personal journeys, how they met, their passion project which makes their ‘coming out’ Coaching so wholistic.  

As these fabulous ladies explain, It is about first getting you to focus on yourself and your goals. On that journey of self discovery, it is about your body, mind and soul. Leaving behind your fear of judgement of yourself and by others and being one with your environment.
Getting you completely ready for your exciting journey of coming out and living your true selves, irrespective of your sexuality or gender.  

Don’t forget to listen till the end as they have a very special offer for listeners. To reach out to Lucie & Vanessa - email: [email protected]

Visit their website - https://thecomingoutcoaches.com

Join them on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/thecomingoutcoaches

Follow them on Instagram - @thecomingoutcoaches

 And, if you ever feel the need to just talk or discover how we can work together - Email me [email protected]

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Shivraj: You know how they always say Live & Learn after deeply personal and often surprisingly unpleasant experience?  Well, I aim to turn that idiom on its head with more positive reinforcement through this podcast. Hi, I'm your host Shivraj Parshad. The folks I've interviewed on my episodes have all taken that leap of faith to bring you the means to live a better life.

I'm really excited about today's conversation. It's deeply personal yet very enlightening and encouraging. Because as an openly gay man living in India, I can tell you coming out of the closet is a scary proposition. Filled with fear and anxiety. And now a life Coach. I'm putting myself out there to tell you that with some guidance, it can also be tinged with excitement and a future possibility that is endless. 

Why do I say that?  It is because my two guests on today's episode, Lucie and Vanessa who called themselves The Coming Out Coaches join me from Switzerland to break it all down for my listeners.  Lucie, Vanessa, thank you so much for speaking to me on the Live & Learn podcast.

 Vanessa: Hi Shivraj. It is really nice   to be with you here today. 

 Lucie: Hi Shivraj What a pleasure to be with you.

 Shivraj: Thank you and I, and I understand it's early morning, your end, but if I look at your website, because when, when I reached out, you were so prompt, you have a very interesting tagline 'dare to follow your heart and live your truth'. That's the tagline and also a mission statement. And two of you really represent that, I think with your personal stories. So, if I could begin with you, Lucie, you are a life or Mind. Coach. Tell us a bit more about where you come from, you’re growing up years, because I know you struggled with real issues of not fitting in, and then you also had a debilitating physical condition.

Lucie: Yeah, well, I come from Greece and in general, the aspect of not fitting in has been very strong for me, especially for the first 20 years of my life at school. I had a lot of learning difficulties and the educational system I was following never really allowed me to find and develop my strengths. So already with this part, I was feeling very much alone and often feeling worthless. And to add on top of that,  , that didn't help was the fact that I could sense that I was gay or at least bi-sexual, since I was a child and such a thing wasn't very,  , you know, spoken about in Greece or in my environment. So, I was suppressing it and hiding it for years out of fear of getting rejected or mocked, because what was expected was for the girl to be with a boy and for the boy to be with a girl. So, I did. I didn't like that. I didn't want I, and on the other hand, I didn't want to stand out. I didn't want to be different, but that was, I was very unhappy. And when, when I was 19, I had my first fling with a girl. And since then, my life transformed completely. Now sure about what I was looking for. And a whole journey began. I had gay friends; I was going out to gay clubs. I was on gay chats, meeting new people like me. And for the first time I was feeling like belonging. It was incredible. A whole other world that was finally so happy. I have found my place. So, I got the chance to enjoy my life fully and free. But then at the age of 22, after an intense weekend of snowboarding, I went home from trying to recover from the extensive physical activity. And also, from the pain I had all over my body that came from falling off my board. And every day after that, instead of becoming stronger and better, I became weaker. And within 10 days I lost the ability to walk. And,  , the new challenge of my day in life became to how would I go to the bathroom? So, a long journey started with doctors and treatments and hospitals until I was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. And then I slowly started over and became better one day at a time I could walk and go on with my day, but, um, I never,  , managed to be, you know, as well as before ever again. And coming to today, 20 years later, feeling stronger and better than ever. I go back to all, all of this that I have been through and thinking that it made me the person I am today. And now I'm ready to use all my strengths and life experiences to support others, be happy with who they are without needing for something extreme to happen to them before waking up and living their truth in all aspects. 

 Shivraj: Wow. Lucie, and that is really a story I think people should hear. And also, Vanessa, you are a fitness or Body Coach, but you have a day job at a university, and you also have quite an interesting story coming out to yourself. Right. Pretty late I gather. Why was that?

Vanessa: Yeah. So, in terms of the timing, I'm more on the other extreme side than Lucie and,  , I think it's because I grew up also in a small town in Southern Germany. So not necessarily the gay hotspot of Germany. And it started. I think during my teenager years when yeah. You develop in a   certain direction. And in that period, I felt more and more, that I'm an outsider. It just didn't feel that I belonged to, um, the other girls. I didn't enjoy what they enjoyed and so on. So, in this term school was not easy for me. And already in that period, I was very lucky and also happy that I had my sports community, where I find belonging and common interest in sports.  , there was something that was binding me or like a bond to, to other people. So, all this time I was driven by this wish to feel that I belong. And, um, even though I had the sports, I still wanted to feel like being like the other girls like these girls that are popular. There always these three to five people in the class that are the popular ones. So, this hindered me to follow any other intuition or thoughts that I had, or even curiosity if I think back mostly concerning my sexuality and who I am. And yeah, it's simple like that. I wanted to, to belong and be just as the other, the average of my environment. So later on, I started to get more out and dating men and which I didn't enjoy. I enjoy I'd say the conversation or going out for a hike or playing sports games together. But not the part that is, let's say intimate or   in terms of bed or in terms of yeah dating. So, I just stopped this, and I started to stop to explore this area of my life any further. And, at the age of 29, I moved to Berlin, you know, the big city in Germany, which for many years also had this,  , Gay city President openly out since, since I can remember. And so, this was my first act of liberation to find a space and the room where I can develop myself, where I also learned to be happy, even on my own. Not , depending on any relationship let's say. And sports like fencing and rowing were my social life at this time. And you know that sometimes. need to meet other people that help us to develop further. And are also, challenging us that bring us in situations that really make us think and wake up. And for me,  , I became friends with a female trainer and runner, and she became this person in my life. Because I started to develop feelings for her that I know were inappropriate for a normal, friendship. And I gave   really my best to hide this feeling also from her, but still at the end, this friendship ended in a rather complicated way. And,  , so that made me seeking support from a Coach to overcome the pain that I felt and confusion and all of this thinking. If this was stressing over a normal friendship, why does it hurt so much? So, I'm doing the session with a Coach, something in me unblocked. And just a week later, I met another woman, and I had such a huge crush on her that I just couldn't ignore it anymore. And I also didn't want any more to ignore it. And from that point on, I knew who I am and,  , there was no hiding for me ever again. So, I don't, I just don't care what others think. I'm just so proud that I could free myself. And I think this is also very important and the key to, to have a good health and you have to be happy. And this is why I would like also to support others, to stop hiding and to be free and to just be who they are.

 Shivraj: And I think it's very important, what you said, Vanessa, that we have to be happy with being with ourselves first, and also not so concerned about what the world thinks. I think that's a whole load of your shoulders. Now, the two of you, apart from   being business partners in the coming out Coaches are also a couple. So how did you meet?

Vanessa: Yeah, so we met here in Switzerland through our common friends. So really natural way. And,  , which led to the fact that we were friends for about a year. And then at some point we were both single and that meant we could get also closer together. And, um, yeah. So, at some point we then discovered that there's even more than trust and true friendship. And from there on we, we just kept going and now four years later. Here we are!

Shivraj: And it's pretty apparent that the coming out Coach is a passion project for both of you. So, what has the journey been so far and who is the audience that you address through the Coming out Coaches?

Lucie: We are both people that believe a lot in supporting each other and becoming better, becoming a happier, more fulfilled and all of that, doing it together. So, from my side, I use my strengths, which is to understand people, to feel what they're going through, to validate who they are. To validate their barriers, their pain their challenges, their fears, and to support them to overcome anything that doesn't allow them to live a life, being true to themselves in every aspect.

Vanessa: And my strength is my passion for physical activity, my understanding of the human body and how someone can make small changes in the way they move, they eat also breathe and sleep. And this is how we impact positively, how we feel about our bodies about ourselves. And finally, also about our confidence. So, sports and taking care of my body, have helped me transform my life and I want to inspire others to do the same for the present, but also for their longevity. If you have a hard time solving your personal puzzle. We will figure it out together. 

Lucie: So, we combined our strengths and passions along with our personal experiences and journeys. And we created the Coming out Coaches. We support individuals of all sexual orientations and genders, non-binary, or agender and gender fluid folks to dare to follow their heart and live their truth. And we do that through online Coaching. And we focus on the mind and the body. We create individual programs, depending on each person's needs. Our approach is supporting you to love and appreciate who you are. Your mind can’t feel good if your body is fed inappropriately and doesn't move.

Vanessa: And your body cannot feel good and strong. If you have negative self-talk in your head all day long.

Shivraj: Wow. So, it's the body and mind. Now I'm coming to this whole issue of the coming out process. You know when you look at it, it's clouded with a lot of, of conflict. I mean, Vanessa, you of course dealt with a lot before you came out at a much later stage. But in my case more specifically, I was also very conflicted and full of doubt. You know, I came out in my late thirties as well. And what was really scary was that there was a lot of hate and internalized homophobia that also went with it. Right. So, when you meet people at this stage, you know, where they're struggling with their inner demons and they're struggling with fear of judgment, how, how do you work with them? What do you do when you first encounter people like that?

Lucie: Well, what we do is to focus on the individual. And help them see, first of all, their truth. Understand who they are, go towards a journey of self-discovery. And at the same time, take distance from self-judgment and judgment from others and get liberated from the whole aspect of what others are saying. And then once this is more established, how they can increase their self-care in every aspect, Become more aware of their minds and bodies. Become more aware of their thoughts and switch their perspectives of how they perceive themselves and their life, and to start to love and appreciate who they are and their authentic self. And the next step is to focus on the individual and their environment, the people in their life, and how do I achieve closeness and real relationships.

Vanessa: And also, to focus on the people that are important to you and that you are important to them. And to not have the idea that we need to be loved and accepted by everybody. Because anyway, this is not possible.

Shivraj: And that's, that's interesting because you know, how we in the LGBT community always say that our extended family is actually not always the conventional family. And you know, the reason why I'm coming back to this is because when I started saying that I wanted to do this as well. And I put out my blog, I had a lot of people who got in touch with me. The way they, they spoke when they wanted to speak, this is almost urgency and franticness and almost like conflict and, and real, and, you know, so I got worried. So do you get folks like that and how do you reassure them that it's okay. That there's a time and a place and a process. And you have to trust intuition because they're all already so, so agitated when they contact you. Have you had people like that? How have you handled them?

Lucie: Well, we all have these moments in our life. The only thing we can do is focus on ourselves. This is what we do. We take the mirror, we put them in front of the mirror to focus on them. Because this is the, this is the only thing you can really control. You can have an impact on. And once you have focused on yourself then, and you know who you are, and what you want. Then everything becomes easier because you have, taken some, some decisions there.

Vanessa: And the second component to it is, we try to bring them back to the now. In all of the mind starts to jump and skip and what's here and there. You're all over the place. The best thing is to maybe also combined with breathing practices to really bring yourself back into now, ground yourself and think, okay, what's really going on right now in this moment. And then you start to take the next step from, from this point.

Shivraj: And that's such a powerful Coaching tool, isn't it? Because when we look at Coaching though, as a framework, the way we were all trained as Coaches, we talk about things like goal setting, action planning. But in this case, like you just pointed out all that comes much later. We can't use those conventional Coaching methods in this case. Can we?

Lucie: Well, in my opinion, at least I would say absolutely. We can still use the conventional methods because our goal is a goal, and you always need an action plan to achieve it. Maybe in our case now is the goal could be for someone wanting to enjoy, wanting to feel free, um, wanting to be happy with who they are and desiring to be their true selves every day on day. Wanting to come out to their families. The topics are endless, and the methods still can remain the same as with any goal. First, to understand what someone needs and then to see together how to get there. Because only, when you have a clear goal, you can actually achieve it. Even if the goal is to come out to yourself or to come out to others, or if the goal is to love and appreciate unconditionally who you are, it's still a goal. And in our case, we each bring our own approaches through the body and the mind to support the person, reach the goals. From my side, loving and appreciating who you are. I support you eliminate all this poison of negative thoughts -and all that. I'm not good enough. And what others will say, bullshit.

Vanessa: Yeah. And from my side,  , we will figure out how to build the body that represents the real you. And so, it's about really you, you yourself and not what pleases others or what is popular. Now, we don't need to become this model that is somewhere in the TV or magazine. And to support this. It's also about how to create and feel calm and content in your own body. And with that your good. And on top of that, we can even improve,  , how you, how you move so that it just feels amazing to be in this body. And yeah, that's all you have to focus on so that you feel good in your own body.  

Shivraj: That's so holistic, but just coming back to this whole thing of acceptance of gender and sexuality, do you think it's also one a cultural  thing because there's some cultures that  accept it and  some that hate you for it and generationally as well, because I find a lot of younger folk seem to normalize it and settle into it quicker than much older  folk. Is that something that has been in your experience as well?

Vanessa: Yes. Yes. 

Lucie: Well, for sure, the new generations, ah, yeah, it's much more, so are much more supportive and open and hopefully this way grow even more over the years.  

Vanessa: Yes. And,  , cultures indeed can play a significant role of how people allow themselves to be free. You have experienced it. I have experienced it. Lucie has experienced that as well. We handled it in three different ways. So, um, it's also about the culture that,  , influences us,  , how we allow ourselves to be ourselves and how much we love ourselves and love who we are. But this doesn't mean that we don't have the power or it's a duty to also influence again, the culture and, um, society and that we still have the power to say that this way of living is not good for us, and it does not suit our needs. So, we are here too. I know that for many people in many countries being out is not an option because it's really dangerous. And hopefully at some point, this changes as well.

Lucie: And from, from our side as Coaches, the only thing we can do is to support individuals, to love and appreciate who they are. To know that they are valued. To build their confidence and also to focus on making sure that they are surrounded or at least in contact with like-minded people. So, they don't feel alone and isolated because of course the main concern and focus is for the person to be safe and to not jeopardise in any way, their wellbeing.  if they are living in environments that does not accept who they are. So, what we do is, we focus first on the individual so they can feel good about themselves. And the second thing is how they can connect with people that understands them and that appreciate them independently of the environment or the culture they're in.

Shivraj: And it's very important to let people know that they have a safe space, right? When they speak to you as Coaches, that this is a safe space, no conversation we have is going to go out that you're completely secure. Now I've always said this about coming out, and this is very funny. And I said, said this very often to people, cause I've never really worn, my sexuality on my sleeve. Very often do heterosexual people ever feel the need to come out. So why should we, as the LGBTQ community have to continue reiterating this in every sphere of our life, whether it's at work, whether when we're meeting new people, I mean, do heterosexual people say, hi, I'm heterosexual. I mean isn't that odd?  

Lucie: Yes, it is odd in this for this meaning of coming out. But if we think about it, we're actually coming out for so many reasons in our life,  , which also heterosexual individual who might need this.

Vanessa: Yes, might even need this.

Lucie: So, if we think about it, we all go through a process of coming out. Whenever we are afraid of other people's judgment or else it's not called a coming out, but it's just called talking or living the truth, whatever we want to do. So, to eliminate the concept of coming out in any way. You just need to overcome your fear of being judged of being bullied. Your fear of being rejected, of being marginalized. Of being unloved and unappreciated. So can you do that because the day you will manage that you will be free, and you won’t need to come out again because you will be just   living your truth without wondering what others are thinking or saying about it.

Shivraj: Here in India. It's always been, you know, when you come out or you suddenly say your gay or lesbian, you're told, go see a shrink or counsellor and. And it's only when, when you're at that whole existential crisis about your sexuality, everyone says, gosh, see a shrink. But if someone were to ask you, why would Coaching work better? What would you say to them?

Lucie: Yeah. The approach of Coaching is different. It's different from going to a psychiatrist or a psychologist or anyone, any other type of professional, because we are focusing much more on the present. And what to do now about your current challenges and goals. Therapy is more focused on understanding the past and the root cause of something. Coaching is much more I'm taking action right now. It's about the present. And also, um, what is very important to say at this stage is that Coaching is suitable for people that are mentally stable. For example, if someone right now is going through challenges such as having perhaps clinical depression, then Coaching is not recommended at this specific phase of someone's life. As soon as   they are better, freed from medical treatment or also with the approval of their doctor, then Coaching could be for sure an option for them or else. If they're not feeling well enough, they won't be mentally and psychologically ready to commit.  to taking the necessary actions to achieve the goals.

Vanessa: Yeah. By the way, the same also holds for body Coaching. I am a trainer. I'm not a sports doctor or dietician, or even a physiotherapist. So, if you have any injuries, then of course you should consult a healthcare provider first, but as soon as you're cleared for exercise, then let's work together.

Shivraj: That's fabulous because that is true. I think a lot of people confuse Coaching with telling people what to do and providing them inputs, but that's not it. Right. So, if I were to ask you to take a few steps back, what advice would you have for budding coming out Coaches like me and others, listening to this conversation?

Lucie: Well, the coming out Coaches of the world, like you and us, we have to unite together. So, we can become stronger together. We both have two main things in common right now. You both, both sides, you, and us and all other coming up, Coaches. We want to be of service to others, and we want individuals to live their truth. And there are so many people out there that need our support. So, there will never be any competition among us Coaches. We need to combine our strengths and build our field of expertise as Coaches relevant to all of the LGBTQIA   plus topics with sexuality and gender plus related topics. So, I would, what I want to say is to be open and see each other as allies so we can grow together.

Shivraj: Yes. And, and that's, that's the fabulous thing when I found you and I wrote just really randomly, you very quickly responded, but for other people, how can they contact you? Because you're just absolutely fabulous the way you respond.

Vanessa: Thank you so much. Yeah. So of course, they can find us through our website, which is thecomingoutCoaches.com and also contact us through our Facebook page and Instagram handles  , both channels it’s,  , the coming out Coaches as well. And,  , currently we are also putting in place group Coaching. So that whoever joins us can benefit for, for two reasons. So one is,  , of course even Coaching, you can get individual support based on the challenge that you have right now. And in addition, you can also hear the struggles of other peoples and being together in similar situations that also creates a sense of community. And,  , yeah, we will bond with each other, and you wouldn’t have not only the support of one Coach, but of our whole group that is having your back. So please contact us, especially also, if you're interested in being part of this. And Shivraj. We have one more offer that we would like to give to your audience. So, we would like to offer your audience,  , one free Coaching session. So, for anyone that is listening to this conversation right now, and they need some support, we're here for you.

Shivraj: And I'm going to do that. I'm going to, I'm going to put the link to how to contact you in the show notes, for sure. Lucie, you about to say something.

Lucie: Yeah. It's for your audience and for you.

Shivraj: Thank you, Lucie. And finally, we're all about leaving listeners with something to think about, given what we've spoken about so extensively for the last half an hour, what is your one message for our listeners on the Live & Learn podcast?

Lucie: Everything starts and ends with you and within you. And no matter your reality and your environment, focus on yourself, take care of yourself, love and accept yourself, and then go out there and find your people. Because we're not meant to take this journey out on our own. We all need our support system to feel safe and to feel valued. So, no matter where you are located, connect safely with other people that get you and that appreciate you, and this will transform your life and will make all your challenges and fears seems so much more manageable. 

Shivraj: Lucie, Vanessa, thank you so much for your time and for speaking to me and your expertise. And of course, the offer that you've made to our listeners on the Live & Learn podcast.

Lucie: Thank you so much for having us Shivraj.

Vanessa: Thank you very much.

Shivraj: Now, if you missed what Lucie Vanessa said about contacting them, I've put all their contact details on the show notes, accompanying this podcast. If you'd like to speak to me to discover how we can perhaps work together, or even if you think there should be someone that should be featured on the Live & Learn podcast, you can reach out to me by emailing me at [email protected] And I'll be happy to speak with you. Until then stay safe and stay in touch.