She Left The Nightlife Behind To Become A Life Coach

She Left The Nightlife Behind To Become A Life Coach

3:45pm Jan 05, 2015
Mira Johnson took an unusual route on her journey to becoming a life coach.
Mira Johnson took an unusual route on her journey to becoming a life coach.
Courtesy of Mira Johnson

This is part of a series of stories about starting over, profiling people who, by choice or circumstance, reinvented or transformed themselves.

At just 32, Mira Johnson has made a lot of changes — some drastic. Her choices took her to low points, but also to where she is now: coaching others to make changes themselves.

Perhaps the best place to start her story is with a little-known saying about Portland, Ore.

"They say that the city has the most strip clubs per capita in the country," Johnson says. "Not Vegas. Portland, Ore. And so, naturally, it's 'you throw a stone and you hit a stripper.' "

Johnson moved to Oregon from Georgia after college. She worked in corporate sales and advertising, and dabbled in network marketing. All the while, she says, she wanted to own her own business. The question was, how?

While she was in her last "day job," as she calls it, Johnson made a few friends in the strip club industry. "And I was like, 'Oh — that's a way I can make a lot of money in a short period of time and have free time to start a business.' "

So Johnson started dancing, taking home $500 on a good night. She paid off her school debt and started her own business planning events.

But the late-night work took a toll. She made bad business partnerships and found herself in an abusive relationship.

"I knew if I stayed in the situation I was in, I would become suicidal to the point of being serious about it," she says.

Johnson knew she needed a change — and she had an idea of what that change would be.

A Voice From The Past

Before she had started stripping, Johnson had gone to a convention — a standard meet-and-greet sales thing. A woman stood up.

"And she said, 'I'm a life coach. This is what I do.' And I had this moment when I was like, 'Ding! That's what I've been looking for.' And I bee-lined across the room and said, 'Can I take you to lunch? I have to hear about what you do.' "

That life coach was Jennifer Powers. She says Johnson came over and asked to pick her brain.

"I used to get a lot of those calls," Powers says. "I could see that she was really driven to do this. But her timing wasn't right."

Johnson didn't feel like she had enough life experience to be a life coach — so she put the idea on the back burner, telling herself, "OK, I know that's there, and I know that's possible, because someone else is doing it."

Starting Fresh

Remembering her meeting with Powers, Johnson started to make some changes. She quit stripping. She packed up and moved to Los Angeles. "Of all places. Don't ask me what I was thinking, because I didn't have a plan."

But it wasn't that easy. LA isn't cheap. Johnson was so busy just trying to make ends meet, there wasn't much time for anything else. Then one day, "Lo and behold, I meet a woman who works as a dominatrix," Johnson recalls.

And there was good money to be made, she says. "I mean, surgeons make that kind of money. ... Who else makes that kind of money?"

So she went back to the adult industry — this time with an exit strategy.

To get certified for life coaching, she signed up for coaching classes from Jennifer Powers, the woman who had originally inspired her to pursue the field. She paid her way with the money she made as a dominatrix.

"What Mira did was, she accepted the fact that she was who she was. She accepted that she had this past," Powers says.

Johnson says clients know she won't judge them, no matter where they're coming from.

"And the gift in it now, as a life coach, is that the women that read my story — whether they share my experience or not — they see that I pulled myself out of a dark place and that it's possible."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

But first we're starting the new year with stories about starting over, people or places that have purposefully or unwittingly been changed and started anew. Mira Johnson is one of those people. At just 32, she's made a lot of changes, some drastic.

MIRA JOHNSON: I remember writing in my journal that week. This is the last day I'm going to be a good girl or something where I was, like, really clear about the fact that my life was about to change forever.

RATH: NPR's Nathan Rott brings us Mira's story from the lows to where she is now coaching others to make changes themselves.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Perhaps the best place to pick up Mira Johnson's story is with a little-known saying about Portland, Oregon.

JOHNSON: They say that the city has the most strip clubs per capita in the country.

ROTT: Portland, Oregon?

JOHNSON: Portland, Oregon, not Vegas. Portland, Oregon. And so naturally, it's - you throw a stone and you hit a stripper.

ROTT: Johnson had been in Oregon for a couple of years. She had moved there from Georgia after college working in corporate sales, advertising.

JOHNSON: I dabbled in network marketing.

ROTT: All the while wanting more than anything to own her own business. The question was how. You can connect the dots.

JOHNSON: So I made a few friends who were in the industry while I had my last, quote, "day job." And I was like, oh, that's a way I could make a lot of money in a short period of time and have free time to start a business.

ROTT: So Johnson started dancing, taking home $500 a night on a good night. And for a while it was good. She paid off her school debt and started her own business planning events. But then the late-night work started to take a toll. She made bad business partnerships, found herself in an abusive relationship.

JOHNSON: I knew if I stayed in the situation I was in much longer, I would be suicidal to the point of being serious about it.

ROTT: She knew she needed a change, and she had an idea of what that change would be. Before she started stripping, Johnson went to this convention, some standard meet-and-greet sales thing. A woman stood up...

JOHNSON: ...And she said I'm a life coach. This is what I do. And I just had that moment where I was like, ding, that's what I've been looking for. And I, like, made a beeline across the room and was like can I take you to lunch. I have to hear all about what you do.

JENNIFER POWERS: She came and she told me that this was something that she wanted to do. Can I pick your brain? And I was like, I used to get a lot of those calls.

ROTT: This is Jennifer Powers.

POWERS: I could see that she was really driven to do this. But her timing wasn't right.

ROTT: Johnson didn't feel like she had enough life experience to be a life coach. So she put it on the back burner.

POWERS: I'm going, OK, I know that's there and I know it's possible 'cause someone else is doing it.

ROTT: Years later, knowing she needed a change, she looked back to that. She quit stripping, packed up her life.

JOHNSON: And moved to Los Angeles of all places. Don't ask me what I was thing, because I didn't have a plan.

ROTT: But it wasn't that easy. LA isn't cheap. She was so busy just trying to make ends meet there wasn't much time for anything else. And then one day...

JOHNSON: Lo and behold, I meet a woman who works as a dominatrix.

ROTT: And the money in that job.

JOHNSON: I mean, surgeons make that kind of money, you know. But who else makes that kind of money?

ROTT: So she went back to the adult industry, this time with an exit strategy. She signed up for life coaching classes to get certified from the woman who had originally inspired her to become a life coach, Jennifer Powers, paying the way with the money she made as a dominatrix.

POWERS: What Mira did was she accepted the fact that she was who she was. She accepted that she had this past.

JOHNSON: And what, you know, the gift in it now, as a life coach, is that the women who read my story, whether they share my experience or not, they see that I have pulled myself out of a dark place and that it's possible.

ROTT: And she says they know that she won't judge them no matter where they're coming from. Nathan Rott, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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