I saw TaMeicka Clear speak on a plenary at the last NOLOSE Conference. She spoke about her life and her work with an honesty and groundedness that dazzled me. About a year later Meicka came up again when a friend of mine became her client. When she told me the suggestions and insights she was getting from Meicka I was super excited! So I wanted to introduce you to her.
Virgie: What is body positive coaching?
Meicka: Body positive coaching is kind of like a mix of spiritual and life coaching with emphasis on your relationship to your body. It involves getting honest and ok with your current relationship to your body and improving upon that in ways that feel good, loving, empowering, and liberating. Love of self is similar to love
of anyone else. It is very important to have acceptance, communication, trust,
and honesty at the foundation. The rest is tailored to the relationship based on
personal interest, needs and desires. The same premise is used with body love
and body positive coaching. Body positive coaching takes embodiment practices to another level and allows for some shifting beliefs and habits that no longer
serve a loving relationship with the body. This kind of work allows you to stand
in your power, for deep, sincere self acceptance and love are powerful beyond
measure. So if you are someone that is looking to love the body you're in, come
into balance with your body, and connect to your body in ways that you have
never been able to, body positive coaching is for you. It's a tailor made to the client with options. I also offer group sessions to center an experience and build around freedom and connection. One example of a group session would be centered space for plus size/abundant bodied black women.
Virgie: What makes you different from other coaches?
Meicka: To motivate, inspire, support, and encourage comes natural to most coaches. For me in addition to that, I use my background and self work to do a lot of mirroring for my clients. I am very open about the many ways that my past and family history have affected my life and I use that as a point of understanding and solidarity and examples of how to do the work. I'm very social justice minded so for me that means I keep a pulse on social issues and needs that affect people that I might identify with, as well as study and stay abreast of
communities and needs that are outside of my own identity or immediate radar. I
work real hard to check my privilege around issues that may affect my clients
and potential clients as I want to always ensure that I am providing access to
as many QTPOC people as I possibly can. I also make no apologies for centering blackness and do my best to make sure that black people and specifically black women, youth, queer and trans* people, and all the ways that those identities might intersect, can feel that their experience will not have to be explained to the point of having to explain who they are. I see you immediately so we can get to the root of your goals and move shit that you want moved without having to explain a lot of who you are to me before moving forward.
Virgie: Why a social issues focus in your coaching style?
Meicka: Because social issues are not just issues to be discussed and theorized about. They are everyday life and not separate from the life of those affected by
social inequality, systemic oppression, and inaccessibility. So when it comes to
working on spirituality, self love, a work related goal, family and interpersonal
relationship goals, and many other things that clients are interested in, I
believe I have to take into account all the things inside as well as outside of the client in order to make suggestions, give feedback, and support their whole experience. It's important to me that when I give a homework assignment, that that assignment does not trigger some issues and the client feel shamed by not having money or access or an understanding of what I’m talking about. That we are clear about how our working together is not about where they should be or any judgment or inconsideration about where they are. But that they are truly being met where they are, respected, and loved right where they are and supported on their journey. To take a step requires understanding and respecting the ground the person is stepping on. I do my best to keep that central to the process.
Virgie: How did you come to coaching? What was your path?
Meicka: I went to college with the intention on being a therapist. I did a lot of other work and jobs before discovering mental health care and many of those jobs involved me dealing with the public. I waited tables, did telemarketing, worked retail, and then discovered mental health care work as a profession. In all those jobs I was really good with people. I could understand them and meet them where they were. People would tell me the most intimate things about themselves and I was able to hear them with no judgment and then offer advice if they wanted it. As I grew in the mental health field, I began to get creative with
ways to help the youth I was working with. I started doing the work with a
"right next to you" kind of approach and it went over better than some of the
other techniques I had tried. When I started facilitating the group meetings I
stumbled upon another way to do what I had always known I was good at -
teaching. And not just teaching for the sake of providing information. But
teaching for the sake of helping others gain clarity, challenge them to think
differently, and come up with their own advice and solutions. I was listening to
Coach Kerri Smith-Osei out of LA one evening and she was telling her life story.
It was almost identical to mine, specifically her description on how she felt
about the work of a coach was extremely inspiring and felt closer to the kind of
work I saw myself doing. It's like she had spoke to a different option than
therapy. While I believe in therapy and appreciate what it has done for me and
so many others, up until meeting Coach Kerri, I thought being a therapist was my
only career option. After some soul searching I reached out to her. It was the
fall semester of 2011. I was entering my last year of college after 7 years. I
was finally approaching graduation and I reached out to her and pretty much
spilled my guts and gushed about how kindred I felt to her and how I was
thinking of shifting gears from therapy to coaching as a profession. We started
training that September and after 6 months of intense training from Coach Kerri,
I launched my coaching practice in 2012.
Virgie: What can people gain from hiring a spiritual or body positive coach?
Meicka: One can gain perspective on their inner blocks and access to their inner wisdom. The sense of self is often distorted by the way we see ourselves. Beliefs about the body/self and beliefs about the divine affect how many people move in the world, take up space, claim their power, go after their dreams, admit when a
situation is not good for them, rearrange and end relationships that no longer
serve them, and so many other things that affect our lives daily. As you begin
to uncover blocks and shift your perspective, a spiritual coach or body positive
coach will be there, supporting your adjustment to living without that thing
that's hindering you or assist you with understanding parts of yourself that you
might have been unable to really address on your own. You can gain access to
parts of yourself that feel just out of reach. Both of these areas often over
lap and or ebb and flow into one another. Body positive coaching can’t help but
affect most people spiritually, and spiritual coaching often affects how one
begins to exist and connect to their body as well as so many other areas of
life. Gaining freedom and access to other areas of life are almost guaranteed
with either of these kinds of coaching. Trusting yourself, building
relationships with people that are meaningful and truest to your nature, and
taking on work that you're excited about and drawn to often improve with these
two kinds of coaching.
Virgie: If someone is considering getting a life coach what questions should they ask themselves?
Meicka: There are many questions that people can ask themselves when they are deciding on hiring support for their goals and thinking about investing in themselves. One of them could be "what does my therapist think about me getting a coach?" The lines and boundaries of the work you'll be doing with a coach and the work you'll be doing with a therapist need to be clear. A nod from your therapist might be really helpful. Another really important one is, "what do I want to work on in my life that I'd like to see be very different?” This kind of
question helps you think a little past fixing "it" and thinking more about the
steps you'll be taking to shift things for yourself with the help of a coach.
Another really important question to follow up with is "Am I in a hurry?” This
question will help you decide if you are willing to be patient with the process.
Everyone's process is different. If there is something that is really important
that you want to work on now, then that is excellent! However, if you are in a
rush, you might not be able to be present to what for many is inevitable, a
change in plan. And last but certainly not least, "How ready am I to commit to
myself and my dreams?" Often, clients believe that the coach will make their
dreams come true. It's important to be clear that the kind of service provided
through coaching is more about leading you to the door so that you can unlock it
and walk through it. As your coach, I am your biggest cheerleader, accountability partner, and a really honest and attentive mirror. It's like basketball-I don't play the game for you. But we are on the same team to get out of life what you REALLY want!
TaMeicka L, Clear, who prefers to be called Meicka, is a big bodied Black, dyke from Texas who resides in Oakland. She is a spiritual artist that is passionate about her communities and centers work for them in all that she does. Meicka is the teacher/facilitator, spiritual practitioner, emotional intellectual, and sassy -truth-teller, of Clear Coaching and Consulting (www.clear-understandings.com). She writes, dances, and does healing work in those ways and various other ways in order to liberate herself and others! Meicka's loves are vibrant high top tennis shoes, ginormous earrings, community/family, and her sweet sweet partner, Merika.
Virgie Tovar, MA is one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp (a 4 week online course focused on helping people break up with diet culture) and the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She writes about the intersections of size, identity, sexuality and politics. See more updates on Facebook.