Spotlight of The Year 2014 – 2015
Please introduce yourself
Hi, my name is Serena Dyer. I am a South Florida native and I have recently completed a book called Don’t Die With Your Music Still in You.
Please take us back in time and share with us how you became who you are today:
I was going to graduate school at the University of Miami and I was getting ready to graduate. I got panicked. I started to think that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. And now that school was ending, it seemed even more daunting — this idea that I didn’t have a career or a profession lined up. So, I made the decision to go to law school. I enrolled, and I was about six weeks into law school when I realized that it was just not what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be. I felt that I entered into law school just so I could have something that sounded credible. So if people asked me, “what do you do?” I had something I could say. “I’m in law school.” And, that has some level of respect to it. I realized once I was there though, that this was just not my dream. This was not my purpose. This is not why I came to this Earth at this time.
I feel like what I basically realized was that it was someone else’s dream—not mine. I started to get really sick physically. I had pneumonia. I felt weak all the time. I had a conversation with my Dad about whether or not I really wanted to get to the end of my life and look back and think what if my whole life was a lie? What if it was all wrong? What if I went after someone else’s dream without ever really honoring what I felt called to do? It was at that time, after he and I had this conversation, that I quit law school.
To be honest with you, I actually was even more depressed at that point — after I quit — because my whole identity, my whole sense of self-worth, was wrapped up in what I was doing. And when I was no longer doing anything, I felt I was no longer worth anything. I had no value in myself. I had no self-confidence whatsoever. I began the process of really contemplating, almost meditating if you will, on what is it that I want to do? Where do I want to take my life? Even more than that, how do I want to feel?
And it’s really through that journey of going into law school, getting sick, quitting, feeling like a failure, and getting really depressed, then overcoming that, that I have turned into the Serena that has more of a public persona today. It’s truly still just the beginning of the journey to be honest with you.
Can you elaborate a bit more on the emotions you went through at law school?
When I went into my master’s program, I really liked it. I didn’t want to miss a class. I have always liked school and learning. I felt really excited to be in the classroom among other people that were learning. It wasn’t the hard work aspect, because law school is a lot of hard work. So is a master’s degree. It wasn’t the hard work aspect that felt so off for me. What felt so off for me was the idea that I would be becoming a lawyer. And in my career, I would be responsible for other people’s livelihood. Whether it was their divorce, or settlement, or their contract — or whatever it would be that a lawyer would do. And lawyers do a lot of really amazing work. It was just this idea that I would be responsible for other people. It didn’t set well with me. I don’t think that I am somebody who should be responsible in a business sense for other people. I also realized that law school is a lot of paperwork and a lot of details. I am just not that much of a detail oriented person. It was really all just very foreign to me.
That’s actually how I got into the process of writing this book. I was in a state of really contemplating and meditating, even praying, on what is it that I want to do. Then I realized I was approaching it sort of incorrectly, at least incorrectly for me. I stopped focusing on what it was that I wanted to do and I started focusing on how I wanted to feel. I would make a practice of waking up in the morning and setting two alarms.
Let’s say I had to get up at 7:30. I would set one alarm for 7:20 so I could spend the last ten minutes and fall right back to sleep for those last precious ten minutes of sleep. I would go back to sleep with the feeling of gratitude thanking God, thanking the universe, whatever you want to say, for helping me have the day that I want to have where I can feel good about myself and what I am doing. I can feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. I would make it a practice of starting my day out on the wings of gratitude.
I did the same thing at night. I would turn the TV off, put my phone down, shut off Facebook, and I would spend the last five minutes before I went to bed trying to feel in my body what it was that I wanted. And what I really wanted to feel is a sense of purpose. I also wanted to feel a sense of inner peace. What I mean by inner peace is I wanted to feel like when I went to bed at night, I felt what I had done with that day was purposeful, was serving others, and was fulfilling something that I felt I needed to do.
Other than Oprah, who inspires you?
A lot of people inspire me. I am very inspired by Hillary Clinton. I think that she is a remarkable force to be reckoned with. I am inspired by Ellen DeGeneres. I think that she has really paved the way for people who have a different sexual orientation than straight to be accepted in mainstream pop culture and Hollywood-type entertainment. I think that’s so honorable, and remarkable, and worthy of praise. I think that the young girl from Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban, Malala, I find her to be incredible inspiring. I regularly follow her journey online because she’s such an example of resilience. Also Nicholas Kristof, he writes for the New York Times. His every piece is so beautifully written, gut wrenching, and honest, but it also paints such a beautiful picture for the reader. At the same time, he touches on topics that are really relevant and important, especially relating to women’s issues, which I can be pretty passionate about.
What motivates you?
What motivates me is my desire to be better — to improve. I don’t find motivation externally. I find motivation to be something that I can only get from inside. I can only draw from within. I think it’s just the desire to be better, to improve, and to always grow and change. That, to me, is the biggest motivating factor in my life.
The old saying is “you work hard, play hard.” How does Serena Dyer relax?
I relax a lot, to be honest with you. I relax when I am cooking. Cooking is probably, besides reading, my second favorite hobby. It’s really relaxing and therapeutic for me. I relax when I am exercising. I find that I feel calmer after. And then also, I really do enjoy traveling. That’s always, even if it’s stressful travel, is still in some ways relaxing because it’s exciting. You’re getting to experience something new. It’s hard to find anything not relaxing about getting to go on an adventure and learn something.
What is your favorite place to travel? What country?
The best trip I’ve ever had was when I went to Kenya and we went on safari. That was just out of this world. It’s so hard to put into words how majestic and personally fulfilling it was, as well as inspiring. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I had when I was on safari. I actually felt like it added years to my life. I was so calm. I was in such awe of the people there that lived in tribes and just really lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle that
I can’t even contemplate. They had such an innocence about them. Seeing the animals in their natural environment — it was just unbelievable. It was the best vacation I have ever had.
The lifestyle is extremely different from here in the U.S.?
Right. It was beyond different. It was like being on another planet. It was so different. They don’t have running water. They don’t have bathrooms. They bathe in the river where the crocodiles bathe. They drink cow’s blood that’s warm. There were so many things that were different. It was like being on another planet, but at the same time, the human essence was there. The essence that makes us all have love, and have sadness, and have desire. It was there. For these people especially, I felt a sense of protectiveness over them. They just had an innocence about them of purity, if you will. It was just really inspiring.
What advice would you give adults, specifically young women today, if they are trying to either prepare themselves for business, or just prepare themselves for a well-to-do life? With social media today and so many ways to get online and destroy your reputation before you have a chance to start, what advice could you give to young women today on how to prepare themselves for the future?
I would say that within every one of us is an internal compass, if you will. It’s like an internal compass that we call our intuition. You can call it your internal voice, or your internal compass, your morality — whatever it is. Whatever the name is, I believe it’s all the same. And I think that within every single one of us we have, especially women, we have a knowing of whether something really serves our higher self or does not. We have a knowing if something makes us feel unsafe. We have a knowing if something makes us feel uncomfortable or not at ease. And my advice would be, get really in touch with that inner voice that you have. It’s a gift. It’s something that if you honor it, and acknowledge it, and live by it, you will never be disappointed or have big regrets in your life.
The intuition that we all have — the inner compass that we all have — really does not lead us astray. It’s just a matter of trusting it, getting familiar with it, and following it. My advice would be to follow that. I was not following it when I went to law school. I knew I didn’t want to be there. I knew it was wrong, but I kept going. The result was getting sick and getting depressed. So, I think that we all have those feelings, and it’s a manner of honoring that.
Any additional comments you would like to share?
No, I don’t think so. I have been blogging lately on my website which is just my name, www.serenadyer.com, and I really enjoy that. I have been making a point of putting out positive, uplifting stories and being really honest. Hopefully, it allows other people to feel safe in doing the same. Besides that, I am just getting ready for this book to come out and this wedding to happen.
When does your book come out?
June 16. It’s available right now on Amazon. Some people have purchased it already because it’s on pre-sale. The actual release date is June 16th.
Will it be available on your website or just Amazon?
Thank you so much for taking time to speak with us. Congratulations!
Please, click here to leave a comments for Serena Dyer’s interview.