Courage Crush : Laura Shook – Guzman, LMFT & CEO of SOMA VIDA

by Sarah on August 31, 2016

Laura Shook courage crush (3)

Laura Shook-Guzman, Mother and CEO

I met Laura when I moved my office space in to Soma Vida back in 2010. She welcomed me with joy and influenced my career path by introducing me to Somatic Experiencing. Since joining the Soma Vida community, Laura has become a dear friend, colleague, mutual encourager and collaborator. She is a force of vibrant healing and the definition of whole-hearted entrepreneurship.

That’s why I have a Courage Crush on her. Check out her inspiring story here:

Tell us your story about pioneering a movement as a single Mom/entrepreneur

Being a single mom made me an entrepreneur. During the first year, all on my own, with my 4 year old daughter in tow, I experienced a level of vulnerability that brought me to my knees. And simultaneously, it was also a time I began to come into a sense of personal power. I was strong and beautiful. Furthermore, stunned to recognize this was my first time experiencing it.

This spark of personal power went on to fuel a desire to advocate for the empowerment of other women. For a decade, I worked as an activist for women and children, providing case management and mental health counseling in the nonprofit sector. Three years prior to becoming a single mom, I resided in Europe and Canada. I was raising a toddler and conducting independent research on parenting practices in Sweden, Belgium and Canada.

Yet, I felt an emerging idea stirring in my heart and mind about women entrepreneurs. Inspired by my own experience of co-creating community with single mothers, I began to envision how to bring this into the world of business. Why work all alone when we could work alongside one another? Why doubt our ability to launch a business when we were so capable? I witnessed many of my peers attempting to run their own health and wellness businesses with so much struggle and very little support.

I wanted to bring in what I learned from living abroad and what I experienced as a single mother and create a transformative business platform. What a way to provide and pursue our passions through work without sacrificing our health, families and quality of life.

From this stirring, I went on to launch an innovative, hybrid business model, combining the traditional wellness/yoga studio model with the cutting edge ideas being embraced by the newly emerging coworking movement. In 2008, I opened Soma Vida, a wellness coworking community, especially designed for wellness and creative entrepreneurs, offering shared and affordable workspace with access to self-care and wellness, business support and education as well as the opportunity for collaboration and co-creation.

Has this experience changed you? How are you different now than before this experience?

Single motherhood brought forth aspects of myself I hadn’t noticed, nor cultivated, in the past.

A type of feminine power I hadn’t given much value to in my 20’s. I suppose it was due to my focus on acquiring the more culturally valued masculine traits of being goal-oriented, action driven, competitive and independent.

As I turned 30, those masculine traits took a backseat. Finding myself a single mother, I allowed myself to step into this deeper connection to myself and to the other women around me. I discovered I was on a journey towards reclaiming my feminine super powers. Motherhood and my life circumstances were calling on every one of them – calling me to step into my power by being empathic, intuitive, receptive, collaborative, relational and vulnerable.

When I decided to launch my own business at the age of 32, I gathered all of those feminist super powers around me, stepping into leadership with a confidence I never could have imagined just a few years before.

How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?

If you would have told me I was going to launch a business and become an entrepreneur during those early years of single motherhood, I would have laughed out loud. And, yet, became the fuel, the heart and the inspiration that drove me into that exact direction.

I can remember, vividly, the moment when I made the decision to take this inspiration and turn it into a business. I was standing barefoot, with a cup of coffee in my hands, in the middle of my kitchen, wrestling with fear and doubt. And, in that moment, I took a deep breath and acknowledged to myself,

“I know I will prefer to experience the sting of failure than the regret of never chasing this dream at all.”

That was a defining moment.

The fire inside, surprised and astonished me. I don’t think I understood, until that moment, what I was willing to do in order to chase my dream in order to create my vision. I made the transition from activist to activistpreneur, and never looked back.


(from the left) Jai (Husband), Cypress (Son), Laura and Sahara (Daughter)

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?

Becoming an entrepreneur drastically changed my previously held beliefs about courage, strength and fearlessness. For most of my life (the past 40 years) I have heard many messages, encouraging me to overcome fear – to become “fearless” – as a pathway to success.

Now, I understand it is best if I learn to lean into fear and trust my capacity to experience it.  For me, this requires to have faith in myself, listen to my intuition while practicing self-compassion along the way. If I trust my ability to be with discomfort, then I don’t have to spend so much energy trying to avoid it.

What are you proudest of?

I am most proud of the fact I have faith, patience and perseverance. It is quite challenging to create an innovative business model. Especially one of the first of it’s kind. There are no points of reference, only moments of hope plus inspiration. I definitely experienced my ups and downs, but I eternally believe if I am giving service to what I love in a way uniquely mine to give, there are no failures or wrong turns.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

I would tell her, loud and clear, “You’ve got this!”.

What advice do you have for others going through something similar?

First of all, I say, “trust yourself”. You will evolve and grow beyond your wildest dreams and expectations if you stop trying to become fearless and learn to trust your capacity to feel fear and doubt and act with self-love and compassion. I trust we are all much more capable than we know. And, secondly, I recommend you start pursuing what you love, NOW, not later, not when you have mastered your skills….not when it is the “perfect” time. For example, you don’t become an artist because you’ve created art, you create art because you already are an artist.

To learn more about Laura and her community, click here: Soma Vida.

What about Laura’s story of courage inspires you? Feel free to comment below.

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