Linda F. Williams, MSW CCLP CPLC
*Are you happy at the moment?
At this point in my life, I am the “happiest” I have ever been. With age comes the realization that sorrow over the past is a roadblock to leveraging lessons learned. Failure to leverage those lessons makes empowerment impossible because we are swallowed up by guilt, regret, blame, resentment, or shame. All those things add up to some level of hopelessness. I always say that loosing hope is like falling asleep at the wheel. You don’t even know you are asleep until you wake up. That’s the insidiousness of the progression. Some are not blessed enough to awaken before it’s too late. I am very blessed to have awakened in time to make it count.
I spent the better part of my life stumbling in and out of opportunities I did not orchestrate, never realizing how remarkable they were. I also spent the better part of my life in the grip of self-loathing, insecurity, and totally unaware that I had never found my voice. In other words, I had not embraced my True Self. How could I? We were no more than passing acquaintances, the memory of which faded with each successive destiny-diverting heartbreak I endured. From rape, to homelessness to domestic violence, several emotional breakdowns – you name it and I can probably tell you I had tasted of that pain. Consequently, in the interest of determination not to make any more hurtful mistakes, I turned my back on that Linda before I ever got to know her. The unfortunate truth of that decision is that I turned my back on everything I needed to be to fulfil my life-purpose.
*If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?
Don’t you understand that you are already all you need to be to accomplish that for which God crated you? I want you to know that I understand that you’ve been hurt, that you’ve worn your heart on your sleeve, that you’ve been very naïve. But, what I want to tell you, you my dear precious girl. You should not turn your back on that in the interest of protecting yourself from something that was done to you. They are wrong. I understand that you are naïve and tired of hurting, you’re tired of crying. But, I want you to embrace who you are. Don’t leave that little girl behind as you go through life. Take her with you. Let her grow up. She is the culmination of everything you need to be. You are enough. There is power in the truth of who you are.
*What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?
There at two important lessons I have learned in the past year: 1) you can’t be all things to all people; and 2) don’t beat yourself up about it.
1. The whole world is a cosmic puzzle and we are all the pieces. I am going to gain nothing but unhappiness and frustration if I try to fit into someone else’s place in that puzzle. I do myself a disservice in doing that. I have had to learn that I am strongest from a standard of that truth.
2. In the interest of the being comfortable in my own skin, I no longer allow myself to feel inferior to others because I don’t have all the answers or because I am not the answer.
*What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?
The next year will find me having shorn up my client base and having developed a thriving coaching business that includes passive income from training programs currently in production. I will also have completed and defended my dissertation as well.
*What’s your secret to happiness?
Stay-in-Your-Lane is my moto and my recommendation to anybody who is seeking their purpose and working to achieve that reality in life. I developed this guideline for myself as I recognized how becoming overwhelmed was one of the warning signs of my ongoing battle with depression. I am just no good at all once I move into overwhelm-mode!
Stay-In-Your-Lane requires a laser-focus on the goal, holding every opportunity to a values-driven standard, and being OK with saying “no” to any opportunities that fail to align with that standard. The result is that time, emotional, and financial resources yield purposeful outcomes.
*What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?
Prayer. Not that I am on my knees (maybe I should be); but constant communication and listening for guidance from the God I serve. That guidance often highlights a lot of personal development and character building. Hey, there is so much freedom for me in knowing someone else has all the answers and in understand where the “works” that goes along with faith begins and ends.
*What’s your biggest regret?
I regret the impact my life choices has had on my children. It took a whole lot of internal work to be able to let go of that issue in my life. I had to sit down with each of them separately and honestly discuss that fact that I know how those choices have impacted them. I apologized and asked forgiveness, recognizing that I can change none of it now.
Having to run for my life due to a domestic violence situation resulted in being separated from my children – for years. It tore me up to the point of being hospitalized many times. It would be decades before I would realize that the deep heartbreak and grief had taken such a toll on my physical and emotional well-being. Add to that the shame I bore from enduring that separation and you have to know it took a lot of healing for me to come to terms with it enough to have that honest conversation with my children. At that time, they were in their teens. Today we all have very healthful, honest and loving relationships.
*What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?
My children are well into their 30s now. Here’s the lesson: Don’t come to mamma unless you are ready to hear the truth! I don’t take sides in their marriages or relationships. I have an open door to listen, I give advice when requested, and then I am out of it from that point forward. I always say that there are three sides to every story, his side, her side, and somewhere in the middle is the objective truth of a matter.
*What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?
I am way too reclusive. I need to get out more. With a dissertation in the wings, having to market my book and business, and keeping up with social media, I spend way too much time staring into a computer screen.
*Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?
Remember my earlier reference to stumbling into opportunities that I didn’t orchestrate? Well, one day I wandered into Studio A at Chicago’s Universal Recording Studio. The result? I am a protégé of Grammy Winning Songwriter and Arranger, Eugene B. Record of the famous Chilites! They released three of my songs: You Take the Cake, Do What You Want, and Hard Act to Follow, all co-written with Mr. Record, who had international hits with Oh Girl, Have You Seen Her, Soulful Strut, and For God’s Sake We’ve Got to Get More Power to the People.
I am also proud of Whose Apple is it, Anyway: Empowering Purpose to Achieve Your God-Ordained Destiny, which took 7 years of inside out healing to complete. It was my only revenge on a painful and traumatic past with which I came to terms during its writing. My entire purpose came to fruition because of that book and it led to my founding a nonprofit with a mission to assist individuals with painful and traumatic life histories in leveraging it toward mission, vision and destiny.
*When were you happiest?
As a life coach, relationship coach, I recognize that many lives are affected by a single life changed, and that a lifetime of change is empowered by a single act of courage. I am at my happiest with each life changed and every individual that finds hope and purpose in spite of a difficult life. I live and breathe to fulfill that purpose. I tell my clients that my purpose is reconnecting them with their purpose; and my destiny is facilitating their destiny.
*What ten words best describe you?
For Linda, a profound result of writing Whose Apple is it Anyway! was seven years of shedding layers of trauma, disappointment, and one bad, destiny-diverting heartbreak after another. Every layer she shed brought clarity of vision as she has now turned that pain into her purpose and destiny – helping others find their purpose and leverage their pasts to empower their destiny.
Linda has been featured on NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX news outlets for her work as a life coach. She has also contributed to articles on business and education at CNNMoney, Community College Review, The Flairst, RescueACEO, Main Street, American Express Open Forum, and Glo Magazine. She is the founder of the Whose Apple Empowerment Center and creator of The Whose Apple Dynamic. Williams is also a trained psychotherapist, behaviorist, Certified Christian Life Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, motivational speaker, and author of Whose Apple is it, Anyway: Empowering Purpose to Achieve Your God-Ordained Destiny.