Lisa Renee Johnson is a coach, speaker, wife (married 28 yrs. to her high school sweetheart) and mom. She is the founder of I Got Sunshine™, a community for women searching for clarity and their own shine within. She also mentors aspiring authors as the CEO of Brown Girl Press. While recent events may have tried to “derail” her joy and dull her shine, Lisa is shining even brighter. Let’s bask in her light.
Tell our readers about your I Got Sunshine™ community, including its goals and mission. I am the Chief Sunshineologist of I Got Sunshine™, a global community dedicated to the simple mission of supporting women on their journey to becoming the expert in their happy and embracing their sunshine. I coined the term Sunshineologist because I wanted a word that described the feeling and knowing that you are living your hopes, dreams, your why. I created this community to help women reconnect with their IGS acronym for Internal Guide System to shed their excuses, live life out loud and to define success and happiness on their own terms.
In the same theme of your community, what does success look like to you? Success for me means to live the journey on my terms. So many of us are stuck in shame, fear, and judgment of our life experiences. Our negative mind chatter is rampant and we are chasing what success looks like as defined by others. It’s time to shed how others define what makes us light up and take back our shine.
Give some insight on your childhood and how certain catalysts, highs and lows from 0-18 add up to shape you as the woman you are today. Just as success leaves clues, I also believe our childhood does too. Growing up, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer, but I fell in love with the written word at a very young age. For me books provided the opportunity to dream and experience new places. Every time I cracked open a spine, I found treasure in the stories. The characters’ problem solved, overcame obstacles and in most instances lived happily ever after. I grew up believing that I was the driving force for me to do, be, and have anything my heart desired. I graduated from high school knowing what my fairytale life would look like. I was on my way to college, future plans for marriage, kids, but my vision was interrupted when a blue plus sign showed up in the window of a little white stick. I was 18, pregnant and terrified. This experience changed the trajectory of my life and has had tremendous impact on the woman I am today. And looking back, I wouldn’t change one single thing about my life. My experiences make me who I am.
When you strip it all down to basics, what 5 words would you say describe who LISA is at her core? Authentic, Creative, Curious, Infectious, Leader
If you could name your autobiography what would it be called today? Happily, Ever After: Living the Fairytale My Way
What is one of your favorite books and why? Intriguing plots and interesting characters keep me glued to the pages. I’m extremely social, but books are my friends, which probably explains why I have such a difficult time getting rid of them. I love how they smell, how they feel. Books make me happy.
The thought of picking one as a favorite is difficult (I’m cringing over here), but one that comes to mind is The Truth About Me and Bobby V by Janetta Johns (1984). This was the first time I remember reading a story as a teenager where the lead character in the book was a little brown girl who looked like me. I read and re-read that book numerous times in complete awe that I was seeing the world through her eyes. I actually still have a copy of this book in my library.
When Lisa is not spreading Sunshine, her light focuses on her family, including three sons and a granddaughter.
Where is your favorite place to read? I read absolutely anywhere, in fact there is always a book, in some format in my purse. But my favorite place has to be snuggled up in my bed reading for hours and totally oblivious to what’s going on around me. Books transport me to another place.
Tell us about Brown Girl Press. What type of writers fit your writer demographic? When I decided to respond to the whisper and write my first novel, the entrepreneur in me was fascinated by the many details involved in publishing a book. So when the manuscript was complete I made the decision to create my own publishing company, Brown Girl Press and self-publish my book. It was so rewarding to hold my first galley copy in my hands, fan the pages and know that I created the book I was holding. My first inclination was I have to help other writers feel the success of becoming published too.
Brown Girl Press doesn’t publish other writers. We support aspiring writers through the process of outlining, writing the book, and creating a marketing plan. I always say to my clients that writing a great book is half the work. Once you have the launch party with family and friends, it’s crucial to have an executable marketing plan to get the books into the hands of your ideal reader.
What are three things you can never leave home without? “Cellphone, my glasses, and iPad (for reading and writing)”
You mention in your bio, being destined to help others. Does this derive from a time where may have felt that you didn’t have the support, help or resources you needed or from watching others not have anyone to reach out to? More times than not, teen parents receive shame instead of support and for many years, I used that shame to create a mental prison that wouldn’t allow me to forgive myself for becoming pregnant at 18. I knew better. My response was to prove to the world that I was enough. Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, real estate, foreign cars, yet nothing removed the hole in my belly that was supposed to make me enough. I knew in my heart of hearts that something was wrong. It took my 4-year-old son asking me what my favorite color was and me not having a clue to wake me up. I had amassed all the things society said would make me successful, yet I couldn’t articulate what the hell my favorite color was. When I began my own journey of rediscovering “the real me” resources and support were limited or non-existent. And nobody should have to walk their journey alone.
If money were no issue-you have just been given 1 million in seed money- what issue in the community today would you target that you feel misses the target? I would create a movement to empower, build confidence, leadership and self-esteem for young girls and boys, so they can embrace the “shine” that they were born with.
Without giving away any of your prime expertise, what would you tell a woman who feels like all her shine is gone and everyday has just become a blur of DULL for her at home and at work? What is the first step she can take in reclaiming her spotlight? I would tell her to Get Naked! Release the pressures and expectations of others and get in touch with who she really is. Give herself permission to make mistakes, forgive herself, live in her truth and be unapologetic about it.
∣Pick one: A Day shopping – a Day at the Spa – A Day Alone in a Cabin Reading? “A Day at the Spa – self-care is a priority.”
Many have seen the headlines concerning the Napa Wine Train. Can you tell us as a woman-a black woman-how that day made you feel? My Napa Valley Wine Train experience is the single most demoralizing and humiliating experience of my life. It left me angry and sad with an overwhelming sense of helplessness. But my helplessness was quickly replaced with a sense of urgency to use my voice to be empowered and to empower others. I believe it is my responsibility to shed light on what happened to us with dignity and grace if only to prevent anyone else from enduring this horrific type of treatment again. Laughter is good for the soul and I’m committed to laughing as much as I can while here on this earth. No regrets. #laughingwhileblack
∣How does Lisa unwind from it all? “Connecting with nature at the beach, on a hike or spending quiet time with me and God. These things ground me.”
Do you think diversity training should be necessary in all workplaces dealing with the public? You can never fully train anyone on someone else’s culture but training is a start. As a society we have to be cognizant of our own biases and how we treat people who don’t look like us. It’s about having the courage to acknowledge our own stuff and stretch and grow and behave differently.
To close, why is it important that women speak up for themselves and live in their truth and not be defined by others? Because if you don’t create the yardstick for what success looks like to you, then you will find yourself on the hamster wheel of life chasing shit that has no value to you and in the end doesn’t really matter anyway.
For more information on Lisa and her endeavors please visit her online at www.lisareneejohnson.com.
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