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By Jennifer L. Warren
MAYBROOK – “You have to go through something, to have a story to tell.”
Janelle Santana-Sims says these words with a proud conviction, as she reflects upon her over four decade journey. It’s a lifetime of love, lessons, loss and hope whose roots were planted in the South Bronx. Witnessing horrid violence, unspeakable murder, daily familial activities with drugs, along with an array of what many would deem a damaging life backdrop, Santana-Sims has chosen to view her past through a different kind of lens.
“It’s all really shaped who I am today,” said Santana-Sims, reflecting upon her life. “I don’t regret one thing I have gone through; in fact, I’m grateful for all of it, as it’s added to who I am as a person, personally and professionally.”
A piece of what Santana-Sims has endured most recently is the loss of both of her parents.
First, on October 11, 2018, her mom passed away. Then, about two-and-a-half years later, her father lost his long battle with opiates, succumbing to the harrowing effects of a drug overdose on May 11, 2021. Many would have curtailed any plans or dreams in the works after losing two parents within such a short time, Santana-Sims opted to cope in a different manner.
“My mother was the inspiration behind birthing my life coach business, JS Self-Care, which focuses on the importance of taking care of oneself from the inside to the outside,” explained Santana-Sims, a veteran social worker who works with urban clients. “When my business was growing, I lost my father and decided to become a Substance Abuse Recovery Coach, advocate for substance abuse, and now run a pop-up Narcan training, providing a life-saving emergency nasal spray to treat overdoses, in Newburgh.”
Refusing to make any excuses, Santana-Sims, “walks the walk,” of positivity, adaptability and growth that she aspires to foster within her life coach clients. Encouraging people she works with to be the best version of themselves, she steers her clients toward focusing on individual self- care, as opposed to self- maintenance.
“I want people to get rid of the idea of glitz and glamour- getting their nails done or buying something for themselves- of self-care; rather, I want them to see it’s about doing the inner, and not the outer work,” said Santana-Sims about her mission as a life coach. “Self-maintenance is the soothing and temporary stuff, which can be important, but only once the self-care, inner care, is in place.”
So far, things have been very productive for JS Self-Care. Not only has Santana-Sims developed the “Pop-up with a Purpose” Narcan training, but so too she has implemented Mirror Work by Louisa Hayes, accrued priceless experience with the Harlem School of Arts, and coached people from all over the world, helping them see their truth and purpose.
“Life coaching takes you from where you are at to where you want to be, allowing you to really evolve as a person,” explained Santana-Sims about why it’s so needed in today’s world. “We are all on a journey, and have magical powers that we need and deserve to discover.”
Santana-Sims’ own exodus continues to evolve and flourish. More motivated than ever to get the word out and facilitate others’ growth, she has a 501©(3) in the works, is seeking a self-care building space-complete with a Himalayan salt pool- as well as coaching and therapy services, and she is holding tight to a vital need of securing an “Angel Investor” to assist with this journey which has taken on a life of its own, and one too much needed to apply the brakes on until it reaches its full realization and potential.
“Mental, psychological, and emotional health are all so very important,” said Santana-Sims about her life coach work. “Life coaching helps us show up as human beings, getting in touch with our mind, body and souls, while seeing how they are all connected.” Smiling, pondering and taking a deep breath of satisfaction, Santana-Sims adds, “I often quote Maya Angelou, ‘When you know better, you do better,’ and then add my own twist: ‘So, now what are you going to do?’”