This is me. I’ve decided to close out 2021 holistically. It was time to update the business photos to represent me as I am. No more hiding my tattoos and forcing corporate smiles to appear more approachable. This is me – a low key, curious, observant, assertive, introvert who overcame childhood trauma and leveraged my fire through post-traumatic growth to be better, do better, and create better. A passionate learner who geeks out about all things psychology related, deep, meaningful growth-focused dialogue, and making evidence-based coaching services more accessible to marginalized populations. I’m Dr. Leah B. Mazzola:
☆ a Hispanic/Indigenous American who grew up one of seven kids in poverty,
☆ experienced all 10 assessed Adverse Childhood Experiences,
☆ spent my teens involved in delinquency and heavy substance abuse,
☆ worked at least 2 jobs at all times since 14,
☆ dropped out of high school my junior year,
☆ decided to create a new path for myself at 17,
☆ secured my first corporate job at 18,
☆ used an iron will, willingness to learn from those who had what I wanted to gain the professional skills necessary to thrive at work,
☆ bought my first house at 21,
☆ earned my GED at 24,
☆ paused to consider how beautiful life was on the other side of positive transformation, so became a first-generation college student at 25 to study why I was able to make it out and transform my life when so many others hadn’t,
☆ worked 70+ hours weekly for the next nine years as I juggled full-time corporate work, full-time school, full-time family life, and began life coaching focused side hustles that have become my full-time life’s work,
☆ met the love of my life at 27 in between and co-raised four securely attached, thriving, children effectively breaking the cycle of poverty, abuse, and criminality for my kids.
☆ Earned my PhD in Psychology at 34 and walked the stage with a lump in my throat as I considered representing every young brown girl managing risk and trauma outside of their control, still feeling like every day won’t end and struggling to imagine better for themselves. This could be them too. We have no idea what we’re capable of until we decide to focus our energy on building the good within and for ourselves to make positive, meaningful contributions to our world.
☆ Hit burnout hard at 35 and put hard boundaries around my work life to attend to recovery. Spent the last five years holding those boundaries working on healing. Working through the trauma that led me to hyper independence, hypervigilance, workaholism, and over-achieving as the expression of being stuck in the cycle of fighting with every cell to create and sustain security and safety for myself and my family – when truly, I’ve/we’ve been safe and secure all of my adult life.
☆ This is me. Learning to love my newfound freedom. The slower pace. The life we’re building and nurturing outside of work. The positive emotions, connections, and experiences that now have room for being. The settled, relaxed nature that was so unfamiliar it was uncomfortable and provoked anxiety for quite some time. I had to come to realize this is what relaxing feels like and resist the urge to add more as my system adapted to doing less. This is what right feels like. Space for the full spectrum of human experience. Space for boredom, curiosity, fun, leisure, joy, exploration AND focus, engagement, productivity, determination, effectiveness, and efficiency. We have arousal and relaxation responses for a reason. They both need space for being.
☆ This life is rich with resilience, wisdom, love, compassion, and purpose. So grateful to know this flourishing. So grateful to get to support my clients, trainees, and mentees as they attend to their own self-awareness, changes, and growth necessary to overcome, thrive, and live well. Life is good.