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Life Lessons:
Jillian Bullock

*Are you happy at the moment?

Very happy. I finally learned the trick to happiness is to be me, and not compromise what is important for my life so I can continue to grow. Also, I now live by the words Oprah said, “Surround yourself only with people who will lift you higher.” So, when I rid myself of negative or toxic people that makes me so happy.

*If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

That’s very complicated considering by the time I was 16 I had endured growing up with my stepfather, who was a member of the Philadelphia Italian mafia, raped at age 11, homeless at age 15, which resulted in me becoming a drug addict and prostitute. Plus, by the time I was almost 17, I had a newborn. Such a rough beginning, but still I was able to overcome it all. So, to my 16-year-old self I would say -“Your past doesn’t dictate what your future will be.” Also, “When life deals you hardships and challenges which threaten your happiness and success, you have a choice: Either lie down and quit or stand up and fight.” These two sayings is how I end every speech I give to audiences, so I would definitely tell my younger self the same things.

*What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

I learned that my life story, which was published in a book, HERE I STAND, in 2012, allows people to feel hopeful and inspired. This year I got training and certified as a professional life coach and as a speaker I use my story to help people overcome tremendous obstacles, hardships and challenges. It’s fulfilling to help people transform their lives.

*What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

I have several projects I’m working on including a fitness book entitled Fitness Between the Sheets, which will be out in 2014, and a new movie I’m developing entitled A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives, which deals with veterans and post traumatic stress disorder. I’m the screenwriter and will direct this independent film. I am working on getting booked for more speaking engagements, too. But the most important project I’m working on is Fighting Spirit Warriors, a fitness for self-defense program for girls and women. I want the program to become better known through colleges, women’s organizations, hospitals, non-profit organizations, youth groups, etc. It’s important for me to help empower and give females the tools to be victors, not victims of rape, sexual assault or domestic violence. Through my company, Jillian Bullock Enterprises, LLC, I will be producing a fitness for self-defense DVD in 2014, as well. And of course, getting my memoir, HERE I STAND, turned into a feature film. It will be a big budget movie, because it’s a period piece, so I have to align myself with the right producers/director, who I feel will do justice to my story.

*What’s your secret to happiness?

It took me a long time to have an answer for that, but now I know it’s my service to others. I didn’t go through all I did for nothing. Everything happens for a reason, so I feel all I endured has put me in a position where I can sympathize and have more compassion toward people who are hurting physically, emotionally or spiritually.

*What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

Working out. I am a fitness expert, personal trainer, martial artist and boxer. I train six days a week and I feel alive when I exercise. Training helps me reduce stress, while I stay fit and healthy.

*What’s your biggest regret?

That it took me so long to learn how to love. Enduring the past that I did, it was difficult to learn how to let go of the pain. As a result, I gravitated to some pretty unhealthy and toxic relationships, especially with men. It wasn’t until I finally learned how to love myself that I am now able to surround myself with loving relationships and good people in my life.

*What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

Never to give up on their dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you what you cannot do. It may take longer to get there, but don’t quit. It’s important to turn dreams into reality. I’ve also taught them to be responsible and independent. My rule was my kids had to be out the house by 18, either they were in college or living in their own apartment. They learned at 14 how to work, balance their money, and plan for their future. I never wanted my kids to be a burden on me or society.

*What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

I don’t take time for myself. I’m so busy doing many things, trying to save the world, and help others, building a multi-million dollar company, that I forget that sometimes it’s good just to sit and relax or go out and pamper myself.

*Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

Many things-Accomplishing all I set out to do thus far including getting a college degree, raising three productive, responsible children, who are great adults, working in my fields of fitness and entertainment, being an author and award winning filmmaker, working as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, earning two black belts in Tae Kwon Do and Wing Chun, and beating cancer. But I’m most proud of the fact that I have gotten to a place in my life where I can forgive people who have hurt me. More importantly, I can forgive myself for the hurt I’ve caused others. We all make mistakes, and forgiveness is the key to happiness and a peaceful, loving life.

*When were you happiest?

There are several times I’ve been so happy, like when I received my college degree. It took me 11 years, because with kids, work, and life, it didn’t happen for me in just four years. But I never quit, even though I felt like throwing in the towel many times. I was happy when my doctor told me my cancer was gone and I was in remission. But two years ago something happened that changed my life in such a profound way even though it seems silly. I was married at the time to my husband, Rich, and he took me to the beach to see the sun rise. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, yes because it looks so romantic in movies. But before the sun came up, we walked the beach and saw dolphins swimming in the water. That was amazing. Then at 5:30 a.m. the sun came up and it was a miraculous sight to behold. I had the best day. Even though Rich and I aren’t together anymore, that was a happy day and one I will always cherish because it was so special and romantic, just like in the movies. I’m also happy to say Rich and I are still friends, even in divorce, which allows that special day to still have happy memories.

*What ten words best describe you?

Loving, compassionate, hard-working, insightful, loyal, disciplined, focused, stubborn, perfectionist, forgiving.

Jillian Bullock, CEO of Jillian Bullock Enterprises, LLC, is an author, freelance writer, screenwriter, fitness and wellness expert, professional life coach, motivational speaker, and award winning filmmaker based in Philadelphia, PA. She is also the creator of Fighting Spirit Warriors, a fitness for self-defense program for girls and women.