Rocio Perez 00:04
All I knew is that I had this vision in front of me of becoming a teacher. What was at stake was our life. Everything was at stake everything and the only thing I can focus on is, was my son, our future, the decisions that I made. And the things that I had control over which were my thoughts. They were my thoughts that I had, which was what I told myself, I can do this, I can do this, I can do this, I’ve got this.

Kristin Taylor 00:45
Please be advised. Today’s episode includes frank conversation about childhood abuse, physical, emotional, and sexual. Hello, and welcome to How I Made It Through. My name is Kristin Taylor, and I’m an executive coach. As a coach, I have the privilege of supporting my clients and navigating many aspects of life that make it challenging to focus on business. My life’s work requires holding sacred space are stories of struggle, and facilitating a loving process of finding one’s way back to wholeness, because, much like the immortal words of Robert Frost, the best way out, is always through. Today’s guest is Rocio Perez, the story you’re about to hear her story is in many ways, initially, very difficult to listen to. You will hear her recount stories of childhood, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. And if you’re anything like me, it will break your heart. But ultimately, what her story transforms into is one where the power of hope, imagination and belief take center stage. Hello, Rocio it’s so nice to have you on our show. Thank you for agreeing to join us.

Rocio Perez 02:08
Thank you so much Kristin, for having me here. I’m really excited to share time and space and my life experience with you.

Kristin Taylor 02:16
Yeah, there’s so much to learn from your life experience. And I’m really excited to, to pull back the story because you have quite a story. And so when I was thinking about interviewing you, I was really thinking about and you and I’ve met previously, and you have quite an extraordinary story to tell. And as you will share with our listeners, so much of your childhood was really painful, and there was so much trauma. And yet here you are as an adult, and you have so much to teach, and you’ve done more than just survive, you’ve thrived. And you’ve really, as I see it devoted your life, to paving a path for others to follow to support them in their healing, and not just surviving, but thriving. But as usual, I feel like it’s so important to start from the beginning. Can you share about your childhood and what you went through to get us started and the unfolding of your story?

Rocio Perez 03:13
Thank you. I started off like many, many little girls around the world. With a dream. I was fascinated by life. I was fascinated by learning. And I remember watching TV and watching this teacher and I was fascinated by her being in front of the little children. And I was excited. And I would run around with my tattered books and telling anyone that would listen, someday I’m gonna grow up and want to be a teacher. And that was my life. I was very, very excited. I love going to school. I loved talking with my older brother to say, Hey, what’s your life? You know, what is it going to look like when we grow up? What do you want, and I literally was one of those few kids that cried to go to school. And I had these huge dreams that I wanted to become that teacher. Yet the reality was very far fetched. I grew up at extreme poverty. I was sexually molest, I shouldn’t even be alive. I was sexually molested from the age of three. Mentally, physically, psychologically, I contemplated suicide. And I knew how to do it at the tender age of five and figuring out that I could not live the life that I was living. At that moment. I didn’t feel like I could do anything right and the beatings were coming left and right. At night, I was being sexually molested by my father during the day beaten by my mother. And life was difficult. And so I lived in my head in many aspects. I lived with this vision that I knew that someday something stopped me from committing suicide at that moment, and I continued to draw me towards it in an sense of everything always there, like I knew that I lived in this imaginary world inside of my head, that everything was going to be okay. I knew that the life that I lived in would not be the life that I was living in the future that I can go out and create. I had seen it, I saw it on TV, I heard about it, I seen it with other families. And that was my, my journey of what to hang on to. And as I was moving through moments of my life, you know, there’s so many different moments really made an impact, huge impact on my life, remembering the fears that I had, have, I remember going to school, I was in first grade, and being beaten one day by my mother, and literally beat me up with a whip. The next day, of course, I had welts all over my body. And so I was taken into the nurse’s office, and there’s a principal and a teacher and the nurse and they’re asking me to undress and tell me what happened. And the only thing that I knew how to do Christmas to lie, to lie, because my mother said, if you think this is bad, you wait until they take you away. And I could not even imagine that there was anything worse. And so I lightest that it was my, my friend next door, I wanted to play with him and he started hitting me and whatever, it was a big fat lie. Within a lot of the abuses covered up by moving from point A to point B at the drop of a hat. And it wasn’t like the movers are coming or Grab your things or any of that to ever fit in the trunk of a car. By have kids to adults, you can only imagine one of five kids, middle child only girl. And with that came a lot of darkness as well through the way that I was treated by my mother. You know, I grew up being told all horrible words that no child should ever or human beings should ever hear. Being told that I was hoping you could say this, maybe you can edit it out. You know, it’s like your horror, you’re a slut, you’re a prostitute. You’re like the worst of the worse. Like, what does that do? To a child’s mind as they’re growing up? Feeling that in this moment, I cannot even imagine hearing it that another child could ever should ever hear that at all. be exposed to such cruelty and make it through and figuring out like, hey, you know, where am I safe? What am I doing? I was sent away at a young age to after the abuse was discovered. And I believe it was discovered way before then. Now it was public, as my older siblings were now aware of it. Such a way to live with the onset and things went well up there. And then I had to come back home and the abuse continued over and over again. And the beatings, my my father attempted to sexually molest me again, I was I would sleep underneath underneath my mom’s side of the bed. So that I, and still, like, the most worst moments of my life, were at night, the darkness of the night, to the night would come around, and I was traumatized by it. Because instinctually I knew something was going to happen within that. So fast forwarding through life, school became my safe haven life on my safe haven, my imaginary world, the belief that I would be somewhere someday keep on telling myself that anything was possible to move beyond this. And having to raise my two younger brothers helped my mom out with them. My mom checked out mentally many, many years ago, we were told when and having to respond for an adult and take care of her needs as she had some medical needs as well. That made it even more difficult. And then her checking out because of the abuse. Her being abused and and then her abusing us It in turn. Remember this picture of a day that and like that there was others where my brother and I, my older brother, and I were locked up in a room from sunup to sundown.

Kristin Taylor 09:30
Rocio, so I have so many questions, and I’m sure there’s so much more and I want to be very mindful of not interrupting but knowing where you are today. And knowing that you are psychologically intact and like I said, thriving when I hear this story, I think number one the cycle of abuse just like you were saying that your mother was abused in here she was abusing and you’ve you’ve broke broken the cycle and thinking about even attachment theory about how important it is for children to have safe places where they have that one adult that they can be psychologically and emotionally and physically safe with. How did you have that? Was there? I’m hearing you’re And were there any other people I’m hearing school? How did you find people with whom you could connect and form those psychological underpinnings of safety and integrity in the midst of such tremendous abuse?

Rocio Perez 10:32
That’s a very interesting question. For the fact that you’re right, I didn’t get connected with or bonded with my own family, the affection wasn’t there. I did get it, you know, bits and pieces between aunts and uncles, Grandma, I cuddle up with them, try to have conversation, and still the sense of trust, right, because there’s, there’s function and dysfunction. And I’m sure you get that, that when there’s a dysfunctional family, it’s all dysfunctional. It’s very different levels of being dysfunctional. And within that, I’d say that I really didn’t get it from there. Right. Nobody really got me as a while, nobody got because number one, I wasn’t vulnerable. Number two, I was hiding. Number three, the people who did see it. Although they had some compassion, they didn’t know how to help, nor did they know the impact that it would have on, you know, I consider myself lucky on a human being the impact is extraordinary, right? Like I said, In the beginning, I shouldn’t even be alive. Most people are on drugs, you know, they’re in a jail, they’re messed up for life, whatever it may be. The way that I made it through is a whole different way. And that’s to keep that visual way to say, hey, you know what, even though this is happening, I know that when I have children, I get to choose how I’m going to treat them. I want to treat them with love and compassion and empathy and integrity, and be nice to them being kind to them. What a concept, right? Something that I didn’t experience, and I didn’t know, in my environment, to be able to go out and create it, I had to give that to me. Not only did I have to give it to me, for my own son’s survival, and his well being was the survival, right? Because we all survive, we can continue to live in that world, where we can step outside of that comfort zone. And for me, I knew that I had to drive that change for him.

Kristin Taylor 12:42
Wow, wow. And that’s amazing. Because you’re not seeing it mirrored in your environment, you’re not receiving it, but in bits and pieces. And yet, you had this part of you. So I want to go back to that question. So that is extraordinary to me, that a child who was not receiving that kind of kindness, and that safety. And that nurturing, had within her this ability to say I will do it differently, because it could so easily go the other way. And I saw and you saw it. So continue with your story about I’m hearing hope I’m hearing imagination. I know that’s a very important concept that you talk a lot about, say more about moving forward in this idea of how you made it through, and how you held on to integrity, and a sense of self in the midst of what is so extreme as you explain it.

Rocio Perez 13:40
I think, you know, I run away from home at a very young age, and I became pregnant at a very young age as well. I was 14 and pregnant, right? Abuse after abuse after abuse. And again, you’d think that we can’t make it through, like how can a person make it through through all that abuse I was sexually, I was raped again, you know, now by another adult. Now I’m 14 years old. It’s a trusted person. It’s a family member and being sent back home and figuring out like, how do I get out of this? How do I get out of this, and two choices live or die, you know, go back or be dead, pregnant, whatever that was, and I knew that that was probably the the nice part of it. Right? Death was more of something that I expected for myself. I did what I felt was the most important thing and with what I had in front of me. I didn’t want to be returned back to my home. And I ended up running away with my 22 year old boyfriend. And you would guess it two weeks later I was pregnant. Now figuring out my life and like from one abusive relationship to another abusive relationship in a different way and still very abusive, psychologically, physically and verbally abusive, moving through that I knew again that I had to focus on what can I give my son. And I became a mom at the age of 15, two months after my 15th birthday, and delivered a beautiful baby boy, oh, my name Victor. And Victor, became that shining light. For me, it’s like my focus was on him. My focus was that I wanted to create something different than what I had ever experienced, or seen. I knew that I had to read with him, I knew that I had, that it was important to talk with him, I knew that auto reflection, which was a concept that I taught him at the age of four was important for him to understand how he is impacting his life, and his choices and his decisions. And those were his timeouts that were very short and sweet. Like, okay, wait, you’re telling me what happened, why it happened, how it happened, and what would you do differently, and he learned how to connect and move forward. I knew that love and compassion empathy was there that I can share that with him even though I didn’t have it. That’s, that’s an even How did you know that? I knew that because I wanted it myself. Like I’ve longed for that, as a child, I’m longing for that connection, as a child to be connected with and held and loved and, and even told, You’re important to me. That’s not something I ever heard in my life. And so I knew that I had to do that and sit down with my son and have conversations with him and have friends over which we never had people. We didn’t have friends we didn’t associate with others. As you know, the cycle of abusive people are being kept captive and away from people. So that nobody finds out what’s happening. That was our life. And as I continue to move forward, and teaching Victor what was important, I knew that I had to develop myself as a mother, right? And have the best role models. I knew at one point when I was 17, that we all have the ability, like I had the ability to be my mother, even at that age, thinking of like, wow, anybody can lose control at any given point in time, I choose to remain in control, and guide the outcome. Children can sometimes be rowdy or crying or something that gets us frustrated. And there was a moment of like, like, I could either take my mother’s rage and act upon Act, or I choose to do something different. Yeah. And that was the thought of a 17 year old and thinking, Okay, what do I do here now is going to save the rest of my life, his life or life. And as I said, by the time I was 19, I was taking parenting courses and figuring out how to connect me in a way that I had never been connected with. Yeah. And I finally, that relationship I escaped. I was 19 and a half. And I’m like, I no longer fear having my son take it away from me of age, we ended up in a transitional housing situation where we slept on the floor. And hey, it was the best thing that ever happened to have made that decision. I remember one day calling my mentor at the time to was around 54 years old. I met her when I was 15 years old. And my son was 15 days old, and she was 50 years old. So fast forward four years later, I called her up and I said, Ann, whether you give me a job or not, I don’t care. I’m leaving, and I’m leaving. Now. I had sold my car for $500. Instead of whatever it took, I’m like at $500 in my pocket, nowhere to go, I have no clue how it’s gonna happen. And it ends here, like our life begins at the other side of this, whatever that looks like. And I get to go and create it. And I did. I went ahead and worked 130 hours a month in exchange for an apartment. I cleaned houses on this side so that I can be able to afford to support us and take care of what we needed. I ended up we ended up in the transitional housing place we were we had nothing we slept on the floor. We ended up just becoming, you know, gathering things behind things. I remember this lady came one day to the transitional housing place that I lived in. She wanted to donate two twin beds and I’m like, wow, but those became our first beds. Like literally, so much gratitude over that and learning and I knew that I had to step outside of that comfort zone my entire life. And the moment that I left was outside of that comfort zone, going to university at the age of 13. That was a decision that I made to move forward.

Kristin Taylor 19:58
Lets slow down there that I feel so important because here you are at 15 with a newborn. And from what I read about you at that point, you had what a seventh grade education?

Rocio Perez 20:10
I completed the highest grade I completed was a sixth grade.

Kristin Taylor 20:13
Seixth grade, okay. So, and I’m hearing mentors and then this monumental recognition that okay, I’m going to do everything that I can. I’m going to step out of my comfort zone, I need to get a degree. Can you fill in some of that for us? How did you navigate that?

Rocio Perez 20:30
That was a fascinating experience. Looking back, you know, two people have the fortitude if one person can do it, anyone can do it right once it’s proven that Roger Bannister concepts right? Over the four minute mile. Here I am at the age of 15. I knew one thing for certain being a Latina, born in poverty and came from an abusive background. My family didn’t care. I was in an abusive relationships, sixth grade education and working menial labor that he didn’t my son stand a chance. And at the age of 15, as my son was six months old, I was knocking on the university doors and sexually the Community College of Denver’s doors to let me in, I had taken my Accuplacer, which was my placement test. And I was so excited. I’m like, Oh, I’m ready to go to university. And Rosemarie looked at me and said, hey, you know, you’re not old enough. I’m like, okay, she’s like, you’re 15 years old. I know. And I was this little rebel who kept on asking your house, can I get in house? Can you get it for your parents? And just then I said, Well, I haven’t seen my parents in three and a half years, and they have no desire to see me. So that’s not going to happen. They’re not going to sign. And I continue to ask, they’re like, Well, you need to be 16. But your parents don’t need to sign up, Mike. Okay. That’s not gonna happen. What else can I do? And to me it was when she said emancipation, to me, it seemed like this. And it was the biggest word I had ever heard up until that point in my life. And like, what does that mean? And she explained that it was divorcing, my parents had to go to university and I still needed to be 16. And all of that. The journey seemed uphill both ways. And I say uphill both ways. Because there was nothing easy about getting to school meant getting up at going to bed at midnight, getting up at three in the morning, fixing lunch for my son’s father, fixing my lunch, my baby’s lunch. And then by four o’clock, 415, I’m walking down the street, with a two year old and my arms completely covered, because it’s the middle of winter, with a backpack and a diaper bag, so that I can make it over, drop him off in the morning, and then get to school by 8am. I ate it that was almost four hours. One way each array like in the morning and four hours in the evening, didn’t account for school time. And if I had time, I would be walking down campus eating my cold burrito that I made at three o’clock in the morning so that I can make it to class by 8am. And that was life that was doing whatever it took i All I knew is that I had this vision in front of me of becoming a teacher. What was at stake was our life, everything. Everything was at stake everything and the only thing I can focus on is was my son’s our future, the decisions that I made. And the things that I had control over which were my thoughts, they were my thoughts that I had control is what I told myself, I can do this, I can do this, I can do this. I’ve got this, like anybody who ever has spent any amount of time they always say like Rocio you’ve got this on, like, Of course I’ve got this and learning that that I had to go out and mold my son. I’d say a mentor that was more of a mentor who was there to support me for a one year period. And it ended up being that I was the one reaching out. I kept on reaching I’m I didn’t know anyone else. I needed a driver’s license. So who said hey, you know, you do need a driver’s license, you do need to get around. And it was things of moving forward and always guiding the adults in my life wasn’t like adults were coming knocking on my door to school. How are you doing? It’s like, okay, I need this. How am I going to get what it is that I need, in order for, for us to continue to move forward. So that was something that was probably one of the greatest learnings I’ve had is being an advocate, not just an advocate, also being resourceful and being able to future pace and understanding that whatever it is that I do here now is going to have an impact in the future. If I didn’t go to school, my son wasn’t going to have a future if I do didn’t go to work, he wasn’t going to have a place to live. Nobody was knocking on my door saying, Hey, don’t care, here’s $500 towards your rent or whatever it was. You just go out and do it. As a matter of fact, nobody made it easy. Yeah. Anyone who ever watched my son as he was growing up, including my family, and my mother, and everyone else charged me for watching how to take care of him to and going back to that was my biggest expense was daycare, yes. And then figuring that out. It’s like, how do I move beyond, you know, to continue to create and be even more resourceful? For myself.

Kristin Taylor 25:39
What I’m really hearing is such incredible fortitude. There are so many reasons to have absolute hopelessness and despair. And I’m hearing from the beginning to restore you talk about as a young child, seen it on TV, and loving school and saying that is my future I want to teach and that was almost implanted in your imagination. As that sort of north star that you were moving forward, you had to have moments of absolute despair. What do you do in despair? Or did you not allow yourself to spare?

Rocio Perez 26:16
Oh, that’s fascinating, as you said that there was a number of moments that came up. And that being what are the decisions that I’m making? Number one, I found out that my son’s father was going to take him into Mexico, so that he can raise his mom can raise him because I wasn’t worthy enough of raising my own son. And it’s a cultural thing, in a sense, at least in that particular family as well. And seeing that from that perspective, and taking action right away. For me, it was taken action, okay, I found out my family knew, my family knew my cousin knew. And allow the conversation to go until almost the last minute they were within days of leaving. If it wasn’t one, it was maybe two days before they laugh, that I picked up the diaper bag. I packed it. And mind you, I hadn’t thought I was 16 years old. My son was turning one. I packed up his diaper bag, and I said, Goodbye. This is it. There’s no way that I can afford to lose my son to what I’ve always strived for was for him to keep him safe and to give him the life that I knew was possible for him. There was moments you’re right. You know, there’s other moments like being told that by his father, you don’t come back. I’m going to take him away from your mind or your family doesn’t even care. On my own family support. Yeah, yeah. Saying that. Yeah. And, and it being true. That was the worst part of it was being true. Within and finally leaving. It’s like escaping that experience. Or there were there moments. Of course, there were it wasn’t easy. I was working two jobs. I was going to school full time. There was a moment that I came down to my knee house. And I had to make a decision. Do I buy a gallon of milk? Or do I buy a pair of shoe laces? For my son? He needs them both. Like I hope nobody ever has to make a decision, like too many people do. And too many people do. And for me in that moment, I literally came to my knees and wept about that. And I said okay, no, you got to get up and shake it off. You got to shake it off. Move beyond that. Because that’s not going to serve you. What are you going to do? To make sure that you get what you need? Yeah. working hardest.

Kristin Taylor 28:53
So much self reliance, just so much determination. I’m curious, did you or do you have a spiritual connection? Or was it more about refrain my thoughts, I got to do this, I’ve got a son to take care of. I don’t have the luxury of doing this. Like, tell me a little bit about that if you would, if there’s anything to share.

Rocio Perez 29:13
And it’s fascinating that you ask that I’ve been asked that question many, many times, I am a very spiritual person. I do believe in a higher power. And I believe in the vision being my vision when it came here for into this world to do is it led by that vision. Because everything no matter what I’ve lived through. As one of my mentors, it really made me very present. No matter what I’ve lived through. Life has always had my in the deepest, darkest moments where people give up and say can’t be done anymore. I’ve always had that vision and for me, that vision kept me moving forward and saying okay, you know what, I’ve got this I can do this. I can move forward. I can before, like every day, and it was, it was beyond things. And it was finding creative things. There was a moment in time. Here’s a fascinating story about my son. When he was roughly about five, I had to take him to the doctors, and now I’m exhausted, okay, I’m still at a team still figuring it out. It was still 19. And he was still four. And I’m taking him to the doctor’s, and one day, he was tired, and there was this huge hill where we lived. And I needed to get him onto a number of buses, first up the hill to take the next bus and take the next bus after that bus to take him to the doctor’s. And I’m like, okay, he’s like, I’m tired. Mom carry me. And I’m, like, exhausted, right? And it’s not his problem. He doesn’t need to know that. He didn’t need to know that was his responsibility. My responsibility was, how does he move beyond that? Because, number one, I’m too tired to carry him. He’s getting really bad. And number two, how do I move him through that, and I started telling him the story about the little engine that and I’m talking to Mike and The Little Engine that cut and it’s going, it’s like, I think I can and I think I can’t. And before we knew it, we were at the top of the hill, we had forgotten about him being tired. Which, like those moments, I had, hundreds, if not 1000s of moments, as he was growing up where I was like, Thank you, universe, thank you. Thank you for giving me this experience in front of me. Now I can use that experience as a teaching opportunity. It’s not because somebody taught me. It’s because I felt it inside of me that it was important for him to have that insight of nobody taught me about politics, yet we ended up volunteering on a number of political campaigns. Nobody taught me about being a volunteer in general. And yet, at the age of 20, I was volunteering and teaching him to volunteering, teaching him how to be compassionate and empathetic for people that are standing in the street corner who need food or money or whatever they need water, right? Cool supplies, and to know that we can make a difference. And that it’s up to us to be that person that guides no matter what happens in our life, we have greatest moment. And my greatest epiphany, as a young girl, young teen was that I have control. And I couldn’t wait until the moment that I was of legal age, to have full control of my destiny, where I was responsible were a you know what I get to do what I get to do, and that was one of the sweetest moments like nobody. Nobody can abuse me anymore. Right?

Kristin Taylor 32:57
Right. Well, let us get there because I know that you earned a degree. And I’m hearing of course, you know, if the four hours one way on the bus and the for the other way and then all the schoolwork and caring for your child and then becoming an adult. What kind of degree did you earn and fast forward us to that place in your life? Okay, I earned a number of degrees. I had two associate’s degrees, I ended up moving as a matter of fact, I was mentoring students from the age of 19. For so that they could get into and through school, some of them were old enough to be my parents have their GED is or mainly had their high school diploma or on their second degrees, whatever that was, whatever journey and path they were in. I graduated with my own students, I literally have cap and gown with my own students who were wearing their cap and gowns at that time. And I continue moving forward. There’s a moment right after graduation, they feel is very important to point out. I was with my son, my youngest brother and my young cousin at the time. Nobody else showed up in my family. Nobody showed up.

I literally wept. I remember the next day walking into the advisors office. I was 21 The first time I graduated. And I had shared my advisor. I’m like, not my my family didn’t show up. And she gave me the best piece of advice I could have ever received at that moment. She goes, someday, you need to create your own family and your own traditions. And from that point on, I did, I started connecting with people from all over the world, connecting with my friends inviting them over, starting to build that community and and I had that sense of belonging. So fast forwarding through school, and later graduated with a bachelor’s in international business. Then I went back to school I did a Bachelor was an internet or bachelors, dual Master’s in international business and marketing. And then I went back to school again said, Okay, I’ve got to do more, and did an international entrepreneurship certification, and have, from that point on move forward to continue to develop myself and that at that point, there was a moment in time, two moments that really impacted me actually, three One was in a head on collision at the age of 25. That changed me, I nearly nearly landed me in a wheelchair, mind over matter again, see the future. See the future, like I knew instinctually that my mind had the ability to heal my body. At the age of 29, I had another pre cancer experience within life and thinking okay, again, and the only thing that I wanted at that time was my mother’s comfort. I didn’t receive it either time.

Kristin Taylor 35:55
Right, right. That’s so interesting. I use the word fascinating, a lot. So much of this is fascinating to me. Tell me about your desire to stay in relationship with her, and where you are in your relationship with her now if she’s still living or..

She is. And it’s interesting that anyone would ask that, right? Because we all have a desire, even a child that’s been abused, they have a desire to belong to their parents, they have a desire to be there. So matter of fact, children that have been abused, typically don’t tell them their abusers, and especially if they’re their parents, because they want to belong, and they they know that instinctually they cannot survive without them. My relationship with my mother, you know, my entire life was like, love me. I was like that sick puppy. Puppy Love, like, please love me. And there came a point in time, and it was inspired by another journey that impacted my life at the age of 33. I was on top of the world, the heart, the car, the house, the kid, the education, the business, I was an empty nester, I was 33, only 34 was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. And that woke me up to turn all of what I was doing for others, which was coaching them and helping them live a better life and achieve everything. Except the only difference was that I wanted to achieve. I wanted my mother’s love by something that I could have. Because it wasn’t meant for me to have, okay. Okay. And through that, I started, that tumor was my biggest blessing. It taught me the greatest lessons in life, because it taught me that I didn’t feel worthy of my success. I didn’t feel worthy of love. I didn’t feel worthy of connection. I didn’t feel like I had a sense of belonging in the world. I was always floating around. And I didn’t even know, right? To the outside world. I was perfect whole and complete as I was and I was to the outside world. That tumor awoke everything that I had repressed because I was like, Oh, my parents did the best that they could with what they had. Yeah, they did. And it doesn’t stop for me to acknowledge what happened. Let’s acknowledge it, see it, go through the grieving process, learn there was so much to grieve along the way. And fast forwarding through that I put myself through my own coaching programs and other people. And I turned on that same coaching into me, and I remember telling myself, you know, you’ve asked earlier, how do you do that? For me, it was giving those messages, those affirmations that I had not heard outside of me. Like little girl, you’re amazing, little girl. I love you, little boy, you’re having to continue until I felt full.

Kristin Taylor 38:56
Yes, I want to pause here, if I may. There’s a lot that you’re saying right now that is very worthy of pause. Number one, when you are a survivor of such trauma. It is important to grieve. There’s so much locked in even though you had all this outward success that man you worked your tail off. And that is an understatement to achieve. But I’m hearing with this brain tumor, and I want him to understand more about the brain tumor and what ended up happening with that, but I’m hearing the blessing was you had to stop and engage in the grieving and in the healing. So I want to hear about that. I also want to hear about the brain tumor what came of that. And then I’m fascinated and curious about the principles of, of your coaching approach. And one of them that stands out to me is just you talking to yourself a third person neuroscience talks about how important that is, in our own self compassion self regulation. Self healing, to shift beliefs and be able to take in words of love and encouragement when we talk to yourself in the third person is so powerful. And that’s exactly what you just did. So I just asked you like, four part question. I want to hear about the brain tumor. I want to hear about the healing, and then the coaching principles. Does that work for you?

Yes, so I’ll let you guide the conversation on that. First of all the brain tumor was, was a night it was an awakening. I remember walking into my doctor’s office and finding out that I, what type of tumor was and the issue was that it was going to mushroom on to the brain. That was the major issue between mind over matter over that. I knew that if I can see the future, I can live in the future. It’s been my whole life. This versus my entire life. I remember ending up in the emergency room was literally the eve of my 34th birthday. I went to bed, woke up at 130 in the morning, and my day went to bed around 5:30pm I wasn’t feeling well, and I wasn’t feeling well all day. It’s a matter of fact, I was at the doctor’s office and I canceled my appointment. I knew that I needed to get home and I wanted to get home fast and I lived an hour away. When home friend came over brown 530 I’m like I’m done. You know, I’m done. I’m gonna go to bed wake up when 30 In the morning, disoriented end up in the emergency room. Fast forward. I’m there crying like a baby, because my head hurts so bad. And all I can think about is I’m gonna have a birthday party on Saturday. Now it’s Thursday, I’m gonna have a birthday party on Saturday, I have 50 people coming over and turning to the doctor once I was stabilized. And I said, wow, you know, what am I going to do? She’s like, you need to get an MRI. I said, Okay, I got that. I have 50 guests coming over on Saturday, to celebrate my birthday. I think you need to get an MRI like you cancelled, like no accounts. And I remember asking for help, which was something I had a really hard time with, because I thought I had to do everything on my own. Like, I had to be superwoman. Because that’s how I always see survived. Like, you have to have to your life depends on it. If you’re not Superwoman, you’re gonna fail. Right? Something bad is gonna happen. I remember being at that party. When my girlfriend asked me, like, what are you going to do? They say there’s something wrong. I said, I’m going to celebrate, I’m going to celebrate before I’m going to celebrate during, and I’m going to celebrate after because I knew if there’s an after, I have something to move towards.

Kristin Taylor 42:46
That’s such a guiding principle for you’re here to be able to imagine a future and have something to move towards.

Rocio Perez 42:52
And that was that was what guided me because the next words out of my mouth was what do you want me to do? Sit down in a corner and cry? Like, that is not enough. So like the options the future and go create it. So that’s that’s the part of what happened with the brain tumor. That was 2009, October 19 2009. I was diagnosed and I get to go check it out in two days, three days Friday. Okay, okay. We get to monitor Okay, and cancerous. No, I and it was the issue was that it would mushroom onto the brain. And then it would take its course I did have stereotactic radiation, which actually stopped it. And we didn’t think it was actually stopped until 2000. As a matter of fact, 2020 was when we discovered that it had stopped tonight. Every step of the way, I would say is keeping strong with my convictions, because I could be like many, many. In many situations, we can go into the belief of what somebody else believes for us. I get to choose. When the doctor said, you will be in a wheelchair by the time you’re 30. And I’m like, No, I won’t. After the car accident. There’s no way Yes, I was the first doctor in 2014 when I literally flew into San Diego at living in Denver to do check in with my doctor. And the tumor had gotten smaller. And I’m like, wow, you know, I was alkalizing learning about my body. I was doing whole body vibration, all these different things that I I was well on that journey before the brain tumor. I knew there was something that I need to figure out about my body that doctors didn’t know at that time. As a matter of fact, I felt like the brain tumor went undiagnosed for a very long time. I was on steroids for a long time. So, my doctor said, Well, you know, you’re lucky that you got a, an MRI. Normally, we don’t do that I’m lucky. I’ve been dealing with this for a year, these issues for years, okay? This is not something new, this is the issue that landed me in the emergency room. And lucky for me that I wasn’t on an airplane or it could have been hours. Or it could have been something could have been even more because being disoriented and not being able to stand up is not a good thing, and the pain and everything that went along with it, and, and all the medication that I was taking, for what I believe were allergies, that I was having brain fog, and stuff like goodness, actually kept it under control. I was literally on steroids. When I ended up in the emergency room. fast forward through that 2014 I thought I had mastered something, my mastering my body, I’m doing all these great things, cream to seen, and you name it, jumping up and down and doing all these fun things. And I looked at the doctor and I’m like, Yes, doctor, you know, like, what are these days, I’m going to walk in here and that brain tumors going to be gone? And he looked at me, he says, No, it’s not. It’s gonna get worse. And I said, you know, what, doctor? How about, I keep my belief, you keep the brain tumor, and I’ll keep my belief in myself. And that was the last time I saw a doctor until 2020, where I did have some issues and was, again, out of balance and things weren’t going well. And at that time, I was like, Okay, maybe it’s time to go see a doctor again and figure out what’s going on. And again, you know, for me, I choose to be around the people who bring me wholeness, because I know I have that hope inside of me. I know that if I believe it, I can be I can be. And I’m sitting I’m standing here proof standing through cancer through car accident through a number of things that I shouldn’t, according to others, in the way that it’s been for many, many others. i i a state with my conviction in what I believe it.

Kristin Taylor 47:24
Yes, we had a recent guest, Amanda Sobey. And the title of her episode is “Whether You Think You Can or Think You Can’t, You’re Right,” that quote by Henry Ford. And that’s really coming up for me as I listen to your story, the power of belief, the power of your thoughts being intentional, where you focus your energy. Yeah, yeah. So take us if you would, to more current times. And I know a lot of what you shared when you’re talking about the brain tumor is also very current with 2020. And I’m sure there’s more to that. But here you were this little girl in such adverse circumstances. And you had this vision and this hope and this imagination about being a teacher, you’ve earned these degrees, you’ve worked so hard, you are proof in the power of positive intention. What are you doing now to support others and finding their way?

Rocio Perez 48:24
It’s fascinating because I’ve been leading the way since I was 15. I hear that I’ve been paid for coaching since I was 19. And have been doing it ever since today, as I want to help even more people as people are coming to see oh, I helped me out. And I there’s only so many hours in the day. I put in my work into the book unstoppable, which is seven steps to become a more intentional leader on that and saying, hey, you know, we had a really I have high level one on one coaching program. I wanted to level the playing field. Yes, anybody can buy that book for $25 and change their lives. There’s the secrets of the mind how it operates, where we’re conflicting, how to align ourselves. There is a planned seven step process that you can take yourself through so that you can master yourself. And I took my own steps. As a matter of fact, I had a very exciting, yet very difficult opportunity. I was writing my memoir, and I would come to tears and I’m like, Oh my gosh, yet there was something that was very interesting. In the process of writing the memoir. I’m like, here’s what I did in this phase of my life here. And that’s how it worked. I did my roadmap. I decided to look for mentors. I went ahead and did testing, tracking and tweaking and figuring out all these different things that I’m like, okay, maybe the memoir, not right now. Oh, as I was going through a lot of the grieving, I said, have all those steps and share with people how they can do it for themselves. And that’s where unstoppable came from. It’s a matter of fact, it was December 31 2018, when I decided I was going to write the book to be launched on February 26 2019. Wow. Which was raised.

Kristin Taylor 50:27

Rocio Perez 50:28
Oh, yeah. It read cover to cover photoshoots everything that had to be done for that book. And here it was, and again, the power of belief, the power of belief through it all. While people were sleeping, I was working out and you know, figuring out what’s the next thing, while others, you know, I had friends that I pulled into to help me and I’m like, help me out with this. And I would work all day and then entertain them at night, we would talk about the book, and they’d help me with whatever portion, they go to sleep Makoki, it’s two o’clock in the morning, they’re sleeping, I need to get two hours of sleep and be at the gym by 5am. And so that book came out. And again, the power of belief that that book would be successful. I launched the book by myself, by myself, and by, I believe 9:30am, it had made it into a best seller by 9:30am. That same day, so that was like, excitement and created and I’m like, still like, No, I’ve got to keep that that that best seller. And like, I kept on going, we had a party. In between then people are as I’m launching it, people are like, what about the Spanish one? What about me, as I’m bilingual, and I’m like, okay, so I gave myself a crazy cool that in 30 days, I would launch a Spanish one. There’s nothing easy about making sure that all those bits and pieces are taken care of launched in 30 days. And also that would make international best seller. I didn’t even know it had made it best. Because at one point, I was so exhausted, again, I’m on my own launching it connecting with my network all over the world. And at one point, I did lay down at 3:30pm. And I’m like, Okay, God, I’ve given you everything. I have every ounce of effort. I’ve done everything that I know in my power. I’m tired. Yeah. Like, if you really want me to have this, then you make it happen. Yes. And I laid down and I took a nap. Good. I want you to take a nap. I didn’t even know that over 24 hours, because I had hired a book consultant to guide me through the process yet I was doing this on my own. And I’m like, Okay, what am I doing? The next day, as I was actually taking a course, on my lunch break, and he’s like, You go rock star, you got international best seller. And I’m like I, you know, I didn’t even know. I was upset at myself. And I’m like, I didn’t make international best seller. Like that was the whole reason, you know, like I wanted to do this. Anyway, it got launched and it worked out perfect. So fast forwarding from there at the last thing that are the most current thing that I’ve created was the mind shift game. And that’s the game that makes you a winner. To put this through. When we talk about vision, everything that I talked about today, from vision, to power to believe, to taking courageous actions, to owning your power and tapping into your energy and everything that I can think of I put into this game, so that we can level the playing field, right because leadership in every way, just like little Rocio couldn’t afford to pay for something, you know, 1000s of 1000s of dollars to be coached. Now, people who can coach themselves, we have a community where people can have that sense of belonging, that very same sense of belonging that I have, that I desired, the very sense of belonging, where we polled people all over the world. 75% of people said, I want a community 95% said there’s things that I can do to be happier. And that’s what we do.

Kristin Taylor 54:17
Wow, that is so amazing. And you are it’s a perfect title for the book. You are unstoppable, relentless in this pursuit of manifesting this vision and that you’re giving it back to others is just a profound, profound gift. As we end this incredible episode and your story, we could talk for hours, there’s so much there that you have not shared and I want all of our listeners to go out and buy the book and I want you to share where they can find the mind shift game. And if you have any parting words for people to hold on to and read ruminate on and think about as they apply to their own lives. What that would be.

Rocio Perez 55:05
Oh, there’s like a million words how I’ll leave them with eight words. And this has to do with the game as the magic is inside of the game. Number one, take courageous actions every single day, do what? Whatever it takes you outside of your comfort zone. If it’s not scaring you, it’s probably not taking it outside of that comfort zone. And that’s where creation starts. Number two, build your confidence. And confidence could only be one of ways that it can be built is through taking courageous actions. So the more courageous actions, build confidence, confidence, really allows us to see the vision or true vision. Until then, we start to see like, ooh, really, this is, this is what I wanted, not what somebody else wanted for me, or what I thought I wanted for myself. Now, I really know what I wanted for myself. And then taking a look at the power, how do I take my power back? Because we start to take our power back, you know, from we start to be wearing masks for mother, father, teacher, preacher, whoever, and we don’t even know who we are. But we take that power back. I want not what you want for me what I want for me, elevating and tapping into our energy, being able to review and reflect what I taught Victor at the age of four stands true. Still, we’re 27 years down the road. And it still stands true for the work that I do, to be able to auto reflect and look at that to be able to adapt to change, can’t continue to be on that same path and expect to get something that’s extraordinary. And then to have that deep reflection again. What does this all mean? And it all comes from us? Right? All the answers are inside of us. It’s like this beautiful road. I have so many flowers in front of me. This particular beautiful rose in front of me right now. To its perfection, everything was inside of it. The seed inside that seed, the color of the rose stem the thorns that everything was there. It’s the same for us. Yes, everything is there, make your own decisions. And then make your own choices after you make decisions.

Kristin Taylor 57:26
Beautiful. It’s so so beautiful. Rocio, where can they find the mind shift game?

Definitely, theycan reach me at the mind shift You can reach me on LinkedIn. You can call me 303-587-8367 I know it’s really bold by giving my phone number out. I love it. Let’s have a conversation. And also look me up through Unstoppable you can email me my other company’s name is Inventive. If you put events, meetings, info,Rocio, whatever you put in front of event, diva consulting, you’ll find in there for the most part on that. So check this out, connect with us. We’re here to help people discover their greatness, and we’re here to support them.

Kristin Taylor 58:23
So you are an extraordinary inspiration. And I am so very, very grateful that you have chosen to share your time and your story with us. So what a blessing. Thank you for all that you are bringing forward and teaching truly. Thank you so much for the honor and the privilege to be here with you. You’ve totally inspired me I’m going to say that there are some things that I’ve been wanting to do. I’m like I need to get off my butt and do time is of the essence. So that really matters to me personally. Thank you. You’re welcome. In her own words, Rocio says she continually, quote, “rose from the rubble, dusted myself off, came up for air and became more curious of my mindset. I asked myself, now what, where do I go from here.” end quote. What she learned along her journey was that she and she alone gets to choose what she believes as possible, not what others tell her. Whether that was about her education, parenting, career, or even her health. She embraced that ultimately, she was responsible for her own healing through taking courageous action, stepping out of her comfort zone, knowing that if she was not scared, she was not learning and trusting that it is only outside of her comfort zone, or creation happens where she can truly see the vision of the future she is moving towards. Rocio has taken her power back to learn more detail about her story, and how you can do the same. Her book again is called Unstoppable: Seven Steps to Becoming a More Intentional Leader. To learn more about The Mindset Game, visit Rocio can be reached at And you can even call her directly for a one on one conversation at 303-587-8367. Our theme song and sound engineering was provided by Shane Suffriti. You can listen to more of Shane’s music at If you have a story about making it through something that forever changed you or want to tell us what you think about our podcast, send me an email at If you enjoyed today’s episode, we humbly ask that you share it with others. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you next time on How I Made It Through.

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How I Made It Through is produced and distributed by EIQ Media, LLC. Elevate your emotional IQ with podcasts and content focused on overcoming adversity, leadership, mental health, entrepreneurship, spiritually transformative experiences and more.