Michelle Williams

By Heather Garcia

Fitness Instructor | Finance Assistant | Mother | Student

Michelle Williams would be classified as an empty nester, but you won’t find her sitting at home with knitting needles. You’re more likely to find her teaching Aqua Zumba on the pool deck at the Waco Family YMCA, or perhaps taking an exam at McLennan Community College or attending a meeting at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.

Williams is a fitness enthusiast who makes the myriad pieces of her life fit together using her very old-school paper planner. Two of the biggest pieces are her job at the YMCA, where she teaches fitness classes and serves as a personal trainer, and her part-time position as the finance and operations assistant at the chamber. Oh, and she’s also enrolled in college to advance her fitness and training qualifications.

Williams spends her spare time running with the Waco Striders club and practicing poses with other classmates at Yoga8 studio. (For the exercise-averse, don’t fret. We talked about more than yoga and marathons.) Williams shares about finding peace and staying engaged. One of the keys to her success is the support system of positive mentors in her life.

WACOAN: What does this week look like?

Williams: This week I have four classes. I teach Mondays and Fridays at 6 a.m. in the wee hours of the morning. And today I’ve got Aqua Zumba, so an 11:15 [a.m.] to 12:15 [p.m.] class. I teach that again on Saturday at 10:30 [a.m.]

Outside of that, at the chamber — Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, typically, is my work week. I’m the finance and operations assistant. What’s good about that job is it is extremely flexible. So when I got it, [they said,] ‘We can work around [your schedule]. We just need you to work 20 hours.’ And so it was tough going in because I wasn’t accustomed to it, but it mapped out. Also, it exposes me to more things in Waco, which is really pretty cool — all the new businesses, different events, understanding what they mean, who attends these things.

Outside of that, I go to school at MCC on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’m in the classroom from about 8 [a.m.] to almost 11 o’clock. I’m currently taking two classes: anatomy and physiology II [on campus]. Then I have one online class. [The teacher] dishes out homework pretty much four to five days out of the week. That’s intro to mass communications, which is good because it helps with everything that I do.

OK, so on top of that this week we had two events at the chamber. We had an event yesterday, and we have a membership banquet tomorrow night, which will be interesting.

WACOAN: What are you going to school for?

Williams: Being a personal trainer you need to just keep continuous education credits, especially in group fitness, where you’re nationally certified.

One of my goals was to really, really get better at what I do. And understanding the body to the fullest is really opportune, and it helps me to take care of people that have different issues because you don’t know what kind of clients are going to come to you. I want to be able to serve as many people as I can. And I needed CECs [continuing education credits].

So really, what I would love to do long term is get a degree in exercise science. Unfortunately, MCC doesn’t offer that. They offer, I think, an associates degree in kinesiology and coaching. And I don’t want to coach. I don’t want to be an athletic trainer because for me, [coaching is] too narrow a scope. I want a broad scope. I want the mom who’s just had the baby. I want the person that’s like, ‘I’ve been on the couch for five years. I don’t think I can do it.’ I want those people. What I did is I talked to the adviser over the athletic program. She said, ‘I’ve been really trying to get this program here, but not enough people are paying attention. But it could come.’ So I said, ‘I don’t want to start at Tarleton [State University]. I don’t want to drive anywhere. I don’t want to go to Austin. I’m just getting back started after many years of being out, and I want to start here. It looks affordable, and I think this is gonna be a good fit.’

So I started out with a general degree plan, which is an associate’s degree of general academics. That’s allowed me to pull in my transcript — what they would take, which they took most of it [from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma]. I actually have an accounting degree. So what I focused on last semester were things that were fitness-related.

I just got my certification renewed by turning in my college credits. That was great. This semester I’m continuing on with one of the courses that is more chemistry-related. The other one is, I guess, a counterpart to speech. I did speech, but they wouldn’t take my credit. So I started taking intro to mass communications, which I find very interesting. For what I do, being in the public eye or even just at the chamber, this is gonna be a great fit.

That takes up a lot of my time, the homework factor. [With it] being the second semester, I’ve learned how to figure out how to stage: where to study, where I can pull back, where I have to study, when I can’t go do this. So it’s been quite a balancing act.

WACOAN: Any other community involvements?

Williams: I’m also a Waco Strider. I’ve been in a running club before, and we are one heck of a group. I’m just gonna give us props here. We take everyone. Can you crawl? You’re in. So a lot of times people feel like they can’t come in because they’re not fast runners. We don’t care. We really don’t care. There are people that are just walkers, there are people who are run-walkers, there are runners. Even the elite group, who run like gazelles, they are just so nice. When I came from the East Coast that wasn’t a thing. I mean, they were a great group of people, but usually the elite group was a little bit different. This group down here, they’re just genuinely nice.

Also, sometimes you might see me around town volunteering as a fitness instructor at a lot of group races. Like last year I was being called for a lot of, ‘Can you come and do a Zumba demo?’ Sometimes at the Y we get asked to do things. I’ve been asked to come to Weight Watchers to do a Zumba demo. We had a day out for one of the shelters here locally, so we brought food for the homeless.

WACOAN: So when did your job start at the chamber?

Williams: November.

WACOAN: And you just started school this fall as well?

Williams: Yeah, in August. All these little blessings — I call them blessings. We were trying to get a boot camp [started] at the YMCA Doris Miller location. That came all in the middle of all of this. I got more clients right in the middle of this. I’m like, ‘You have got to be kidding!’ And I was like, ‘Hang on. Just breathe. Learn to breathe and get through it.’ And I managed to get through it, and my schedule kind of balanced itself out. But it was like a lot of things came at one time.

But you know, I can go either one of two ways. I can become overwhelmed and just be disengaged, or I can be engaged, learn how to manage this and be OK.

And that’s what I did. This is why I carry [my planner] around with me everywhere. A lot of people present their telephone as their lifeline. My planner is my lifeline. We were joking the other day — I said if I lost [my phone], I wouldn’t be so upset; if I lost [my planner], yeah, we’re gonna have a meltdown. The balance goes out the window. So for me, staging things out is extremely helpful. I just write down everything.

WACOAN: Were you looking for a job at the chamber?

Williams: No, I was sought out to see if I’d be interested in this job opening. Several of the ladies that work there knew me from my group fitness classes at YMCA. They also knew I had a background in finance. I agreed to look at the position and to interview, which resulted in an offer.

WACOAN: With all these things happening at once, what made you decide to go back to school?

Williams: I went back to school because I said something’s got to give besides just doing personal training and group fitness. I need a little bit more. I had funding available. We have a 22-year-old, and he wasn’t using all the money. I said, ‘OK, well, you know the good thing about this fund [is] once he starts using it, the family can get set up to use it if we need to.’ A beautiful plan. So I said, ‘This is awesome. I have the money to do it, so why not?’

I’m one of those people — I love education. I love learning. So one of my things as an instructor — I also teach Zumba; the format that I like best is Aqua Zumba. One of the girls I’ve taken classes under, her theory is never stop learning, and I truly believe that. You should not ever stop learning. You shouldn’t let your age [stop you]. You shouldn’t let circumstances [stop you]. We all have circumstances, but that shouldn’t be a deterrent. For me, I’m well into middle age, but it helps my mind. It keeps my mind fresh. It keeps me going.

So when you age, the brain cells don’t fire off like they used to. So this helps keep my mind stimulated and thinking and staying on top of everything. So I really like that. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but I totally enjoy it, so I have to keep going. It also inspires other people when they see, ‘Wow, you’re going to school?’ ‘Yeah!’ Most people think I’m going to school because I’m a teacher there, and I’m like, ‘No, I’m a student.’

Part of the process was, I mentioned this, as trainers, we have to do all these continuous education credits, and I am seeking other certifications within that. One of the things I wanted is a functional training specialist certification. This helps me develop exercise programs that are aimed at helping clients move more efficiently and prevent injury. I see a lot of people come in kind of wounded. We don’t need to complicate what’s going on. We need to be able to help them. I’m halfway into [the certification] for a personal trainer, but I want to get something that’s a little bit more robust.

WACOAN: How long have you been doing fitness instruction?

Williams: In a nutshell, I started my fitness journey in 1992 when step aerobics first came out. It’s been on and off. It’s really hard to pinpoint it. I’ve been active since 1990. In between then I have coached my kid’s soccer team as an assistant coach because they take volunteers. I would say I’m probably at 18-plus years of teaching.

WACOAN: You said you like teaching Aqua Zumba. Besides being in the water, what makes Aqua Zumba different from regular Zumba?

Williams: I’m glad you asked. So [with] land Zumba there’s movements that are more grounded because you are free to move any direction as long as your body is able to. But for certain people maybe with joint issues, aging populations, they can’t sustain the jumping. If you put them in a water-based program, they become weightless. So it’s not impact-free, but it’s a lower impact, and it’s also joint friendly. Also the water has a cooling effect on the body. It offers resistance. So whereas if you’re on land and you don’t know how to isolate the muscles, it’s easy to flounce around, but in the water you’ve got to move through that water. You’ve got resistance working for you, which is great because you get a little more toning that way. So they’re getting cardio, they’re getting resistance and it’s joint friendly.

For a lot of people that’s a lot better. They can have fun. They can get their exercise in, and when they get out of the pool they’re like, ‘Oh, my knees aren’t hurting. My back’s not hurting.’ So it’s a little bit more friendly. People automatically think it’s for the older population. No, that’s not true. It’s for everybody. But it’s a different format.

What Zumba has done, which is really incredible, is taken our core movents for each rhythm that we do and modified it for Aqua Zumba. So we’ve taken these same principles and now applied them to the water. It’s really awesome to see. A lot of people don’t like shaking or the kind of gyrating, ‘Oh, it’s so embarrassing.’ I’m like, ‘You’re in the water. You can let it go!’ So they become very liberated, very free in the water. It’s amazing to see them smile and to have so much joy and fun. And a lot of times we’re singing. It’s a very close-knit little group. There’s probably a core of eight to 10 that come pretty regularly. It’s just a lot of fun.

Now I’m on [the] deck. I can’t be in the water because they can’t see me. When I first started, it was extremely hard. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s really hot on deck.’ People that aren’t accustomed to seeing our class are like, ‘Why is she on the pool deck, and why does she have a fan?’ People are like, ‘Give her five minutes. You’ll see.’ I’m sweating up a storm.

[My class] said to make sure I gave a shout-out to them today. They are very interesting, that group of women. All different issues, all different walks of life who come together twice a week and just have fun. It’s really good.

WACOAN: How much time outside of class does it take you to prepare?

Williams: For Aqua Zumba, if you’re learning new choreography, you’ve got to practice it. What they advise us to do is not just practice on land. And it makes sense to just jump in the water. When I’m able to, I jump in the water.

Learning something new can take an hour. It just depends on how difficult the choreography is. Pretty much, Zumba is formatted to keep it simple. You can add levels of difficulty as they get better at something, but don’t just make it complicated because then it’s no longer fun and no one’s gonna come. It can take an hour just to try to nail down the song.

Then I have other classes. Depending on what my goals are for those classes, that can take a couple hours as well, particularly if you’re trying to break something [down] to where you notice that something didn’t move right in a class or someone brought up a question or issue that we need to share in the other class — is anyone experiencing the following? I don’t have very large classes. I have a smaller group, which makes it more intimate, and it allows me to really cater to that group. That’s why I really like having smaller classes because we all know each other, and like I said, I can actually try to help, be more hands-on. That takes time. I could spend easily three hours planning classes.

WACOAN: What other classes do you teach?

Williams: I teach interval training. Typically, it’s a high-intensity training class. Then I also have body shaping.

WACOAN: Tell me about your family.

Williams: I’m married. Been married since July 1988. It’s been a long time — 27 years going on 28.

WACOAN: What does your husband do?

Williams: He is a plant supervisor for an energy generation company.

WACOAN: How long have you been in Waco?

Williams: Actually we’ve been in Waco since October 2011. His job is what brought us here.

WACOAN: You said you have a 22-year-old son?

Williams: Yes. He does not live with us. We’re from the East Coast, so he stayed back East. He does come to visit us some.

WACOAN: Is your son out of school?

Williams: He’s taking a sabbatical and gearing up to hopefully do some stuff online. We’re looking into computer — I don’t know how to say it — not technically computer science, but web development. It’s an online school; it’s called Udacity. So we’re looking at that for him because it just gets down to the nitty-gritty.

WACOAN: Having been through all the stages of raising a kid to adulthood, what would you say is the hardest stage of parenting?

Williams: You think it’s when they’re babies — it’s not. That’s actually easy. When they’re teenagers and trying to figure themselves out, that for me was the hardest stage because all these things are changing. All these hormones are going on. No one told me. I didn’t think boys were hormonal. We know girls are. We are expecting that. Then all of the sudden it’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh, so are they!’ So that was the biggest challenge for me. I’m not prepared for all this, him growing and trying to figure out who he was and that teenager [stage]. I would say [ages] about 15-17 were hard.

Fortunately, I have a lot of great friends who have been through this, my mentors, and they’re like, ‘You’re gonna survive, like the rest of us,’ and guided me through. There would be times we would pray together. They’d hold my hand and tissues were coming out. [They were saying,] ‘You’re gonna be fine. We all did this. Just hang on.’

WACOAN: You had mentioned instead of being overwhelmed, you choose to be engaged when life gets hectic. What are some practical ways you avoid the overwhelming mode so you can stay engaged?

Williams: For me, I like to look at what’s my week looks like. I’m normally methodical about the things that I do, so I write it all down. That’s therapy for me. I write it all down, and then I look at it and try to figure out, ‘OK how do I fit these pieces in? Where’s the time? I’ve got to teach, I’ve got to work, I’ve got to study. Oh, I’ve got to cook dinner.’ But I have to have that little ‘me time.’ Again, it starts with having a canvas to lay everything out on and just to map things out.

One of the things that helps keep me focused is going to Yoga8 studio. It’s been a true blessing to take time off for me. I think that’s what keeps [me from] being overwhelmed. We take care of everyone. Women are nurturers by nature. We want to take care of everybody else, make sure everybody else is happy, and we’re drained. So [yoga class] is something that I have for myself, that I’m no longer the teacher; I’m the student. And I can just go get myself together before I go to the next thing. So in between coming off, let’s say, the chamber, I’m like, ‘OK, I can take this class, and I have homework due at 11 tonight, but if I just go do this I’m gonna be refreshed.’

Pre-planning food. Oh, my gosh. Big help! I do not like a lot of processed stuff. It just doesn’t allow my energy level to stay where it’s at. It also tends to tear down your body. So when I’m on my A-game, I’m food-prepping. If it’s nothing but making sure there’s enough groceries in the house for me and my husband to make something. But I like to make meals ahead of time, at least for two to three days. I want to do things ahead.

Scheduling is really crucial for me, and that keeps me in balance. And then there’s sometimes I know I can’t get to [yoga class], but it’s learning, you know what, I can do maybe five minutes of stretching or just deep breathing in between to allow me to regroup and move forward. There’s things that will come up. You can’t dwell on it. Dwelling on it is not going to make it any better. So I choose to have more positive thoughts and try to keep the negativity as low as possible because even to dwell on something and fester in it as opposed to focusing on what went well today and not so much the things that didn’t go well. I try to keep that mindset. It’s really helped me be able to be more productive.

One crucial thing is each day starts and ends in prayer. Every day presents its challenges, but despite the outcome, I thank God for the direction and ability to persevere. Having an attitude of gratitude has blessed me beyond measure.

WACOAN: Do you feel like you have a lot on your plate?

Williams: I do. But would I change it? No. I would not change anything.

I have an incredible support system — husband, family and friends — which enables me to do all that I do. I give thanks each day that I awaken for the opportunities to be of service and do what I love. I think what helps me is again having the people in my life who are mentors. So if I’m really out of sorts, picking up the phone [to call one of them]. [They’re] a good source to go to and to just bring me back.

There are times when I think I’ve done too much. There’s been a couple times this year where I’ve had to say the word no. You know what, I’m OK with that. I really don’t feel bad. [Before] I would think I was letting people down by saying no, but I had to realize that you can’t do everything and there are times when you’re gonna have to say, ‘No, appreciate the offer, but I can’t at this point in time.’ It’s OK.

WACOAN: How do you choose your priorities?

Williams: Right now, the jobs that I have are current priorities. So anything else I have to look and see is it something I can actually fit in without throwing in a huge change in my schedule?

So say somebody wanted me to attend something this week, and I’m like, ‘OK I just have to look at my schedule.’ Try not to overschedule. Try to keep a little room for flexibility.

That’s what I love about my job at the chamber. [I can say,] ‘You know, I really need to go to the doctor now, and I can come in maybe two hours tomorrow earlier,’ and we’re good. That really works. Having a schedule that allows flexibility, even though it may be busy, is a big plus.

WACOAN: What does it mean to you to be balanced?

Williams: To be able to accomplish things I want to be able to accomplish, but to be able to find peace at the end of the day. To be in a peaceful state. People like me who are Type A personality sometimes can tend not to be in that peaceful state, and that’s not good.

I’ve had jobs that were very, very stressful in the past. I was in an accounting manager job where I ended up grinding my teeth. That’s a true sign that there’s an imbalance going on in the body, and some of that led to root canals. It’s a very costly result of stress. So they were like, ‘We can get you a mouth guard.’ I’m like, the root cause — I’m all about root cause analysis — is I’m stressed. Let’s analyze why I’m stressed. Once I analyzed that, I changed jobs because of this. So I’m at jobs now that I really like and really want to do.

One of the things, coming to Waco, I immediately thought I wanted to get back in accounting, but I’d done that 20-plus years, and it was a great salary and great benefits, but the stress level was astronomical, and it wasn’t fun anymore. In the beginning it was fun, when you’re young. I’m like, been there, done that, and now I want fulfillment.

And for me, fulfillment is balance in my life.

I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity with this job at the chamber because it still allows me to do fitness. When I first got there, before my schedule was so crazy, we were outside doing a couple of classes, like 30-minutes classes. It was fun. I could get people involved. So I’m hopeful that it will get warmer and schedules will lighten up a bit and [I can do] a 30-minute session for my co-workers, just to put some life back into our bodies and then go back to work because it just makes the day go better. They’ve got calendars bigger than mine, and they’re going, ‘You know what, I already took care of me. Awesome! Now I can take care of family when I get home.’

Being able to take time for myself. That’s where in the past I’ve failed. That’s where I was really not balanced. I was not taking enough time. People are like, ‘Well, you exercise all the time.’ I’m like, ‘No, when I’m teaching, I’m really there for my students.’ If I get a workout too, great, but it’s for my students. I truly believe that. I was taught that. What you teach is not your workout, so get that straight in your head.

My students know it’s not just the hour in class. I get texts, I get Facebooked: ‘I need help on this,’ and I’m there. So most of the people who train under me get more than that set time that we have. So to me, how can you put a time frame on somebody’s life? You can’t really. You’ve got to be willing to do that.

Turning the phone off sometimes. That’s one of the things you need to do. I would not sleep sometimes because, ‘Oh my phone’s buzzing, who’s that?’ Or I hear an email coming in on the computer. I’ve had to shut it off and take it out of the bedroom. It has to go away because your mind won’t shut down. I’m really hyper. I have a lot of energy. So I need to be able to bring it down. Part of my balance strategy is turn the phone off at night, get it out of the bedroom so I don’t see any light from it when it’s plugged in. Do not bring your laptop in the area that you’re sleeping. So there’s no noise, no extra little buzzing things going off. That has really helped me relax more at night and be more peaceful.

WACOAN: If you get a little random downtime, what do you do?

Williams: I actually watched movies this weekend. I was so excited because I had two big exams, and I was like, ‘Wait! I think I have time to watch TV.’ Turned it on the Lifetime channel.

I’ve got friends that are in the Waco [Civic] Theatre, and a young lady that I met through the Y is performing, I think, on Valentine’s Day.

And you know what, sometimes the laundry needs to wait. That’s constant, but sometimes the dishes need to wait. And I’m OK with that. I’ve learned I don’t need to have that done all the time. That’s not really what’s gonna define my character.

WACOAN: What are some of your goals that you have right now?

Williams: My current goal is the two certifications for fitness. I want to get those by this year. One is my personal trainer certification through NASM [National Academy of Sports Medicine] or ACE [American Council on Exercise]. I’m currently licensed under AFAA [Aerobics and Fitness Association of America], but those are the two big guns I want to go after.

But the functional training specialist certification, that’s the ACE, and that’s definitely gonna happen because I’ve already put money and time in it. I just have to finish it. The beauty of it is it’s online. That just helps me manage my schedule a lot better. Trying to go to campus more than twice a week would not be ideal for me. That’s time away, and it just doesn’t work.

My future goals also include helping more folks become active, from sedentary to moving on a consistent basis. Did I mention how much I love fitness!
For my personal goals, to get into some of the more advanced yoga positions. Kimberly [Damm, the owner and instructor at Yoga8] is helping me with my crow, and we’re gonna try a handstand.

And I’ve never done a marathon yet. I’ve done [half-marathons]. I’m a little afraid. I’ve got some biomechanics issues, so I’m just treading the water lightly just to make sure the body’s gonna be able to sustain it. The beauty of the Striders [is] a lot of them, when they’re training for marathons they’re run-walking, and that spares the body big-time. And some of them, that’s how they run [the marathon] — they run-walk it. So I’m like, ‘That’s probably a good idea, so I’m not having to pound myself to keep running 26.2 miles.’ But that’s my big goal. I’ve at least got to do it once.

WACOAN: Is your husband a runner?

Williams: He’s a golfer. He’s adamant about his golfing. He loves it. When he first started, I got him a gift certificate for lessons. But now he can hold his own. He’s done pretty good.

WACOAN: Do you schedule time with your husband?

Williams: Being in the energy generation business is really tough because they have times, well, their shifts are 12 hours. The plant is about an hour from here each way, so that means he’s away, like, 14 hours. So sometimes we’re in passing and just try to figure out when he has days off and we try to do things together. A lot of times he’s like, ‘What are you doing tonight? Wanna go to dinner?’ That kind of thing. So we just have to schedule stuff as we can because we are in and out, two ships passing through the night. I love it when he’ll just say randomly he just wants to go out of town. That’s the best surprise.

One year we went to the wine country. He was like, ‘Do you want to go to Fredericksburg?’ We found a bed and breakfast. It was nice. Now he’s more spontaneous, and I’m more [the planner].

Just being able to take care of my husband, our son. We communicate. We text a lot, about once a day.

Our son is 22. He’s a young adult. I feel like I’m not so much Mom — even though I am Mom, I’m here as your mentor. I’m here as your guide. I can make suggestions, but it’s up to you to act on them. I can’t tell you what to do. I can make suggestions, and it’s up to you to decide.

One of the coolest things that happened, there was a hurricane alert last year. He was calling me, ‘Hey, Mom!’ ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ ‘Well, there’s a hurricane coming through, and I was going to the store, and I was just wanting to know what you think I should get.’ Wow, big moment for Mom! I was like, ‘Whoa. Just think, the electricity could be out for days. Did you think about that?’ ‘Oh, I didn’t think about that.’ ‘You can’t cook, but you can open a can of beans.’ Just getting that call, it was one of the best phone calls I’ve ever gotten. I hope nothing happens, and nothing did, but the fact that he called me for advice on what he should get, that is awesome. That made me one happy momma.

WACOAN: Aside from your planner, are there any other tools that you use?

Williams: I do. On some of my devices I get 30-minute [reminders] because sometimes I’ll get wrapped up in something, and it will buzz. That’s a great tool to have. My calendar will ding me.

I do feel really blessed that I’m extremely healthy, and I attribute that to a good diet.

Learning to say no. Learning to take time out for myself. I believe in giving back and doing for others as well, but I believe you’ve got to know your limits.
I think just learning to be happy is just one of the bigger things. Used to be, I thought I would be happy with a big ol’ paycheck. No, not the same anymore. My goals have changed. Happiness is helping others achieve their goals. That’s exciting.

WACOAN: What advice would you give young mothers or anyone about keeping balance?

Williams: The biggest thing is surround yourself with positive people. People who are interested in being helpful because they’ll help guide you. So many come to mind, it’s just phenomenal.

Again, I do try to keep away from someone who is being very negative. I don’t have time for that negativity in my life. It just drains you. Someone will look at my Facebook page and say, ‘Oh, you’re always so positive.’ I want to dwell on the positive. Because it’s easy to be negative and get caught up in that, but at the end of the day, I’m not happy doing that. So I’ve got to surround myself with people who are positive and uplifting me.

I’ve got prayer warriors all lined up. I can call that one, and they’re gonna pray through it and give me encouraging words. And we uplift each other, and that’s really crucial is surrounding yourself with people who are positive and have past experiences and can offer me good advice.

And finding time for yourself. So many young mothers [say,] ‘Oh, I just don’t have time.’ You know what, get a sibling, get a mother-in-law, get a friend to babysit so you can get time for you. If it’s nothing but to go walk down the street by yourself. Or to go out with your husband if you never get a date night. As a couple, I think that’s important. Find someone who is going to be able to give you that little time for you guys. Or just yourself. You’ve got to have time. That just helps to keep things in sequence. You can. You gotta look, and you’ve gotta find the people to help. To give people five minute to themselves. It can happen.

Take a mental health day. Clear the schedule and have some fun. Meet a friend for lunch, go to the movies or, even better, get a mani-pedi. That works wonders for restoring the mind.

WACOAN: Any advice for people moving into the Waco community?

Williams: Find someplace to connect. Connect. Either connect to a church, connect to a fitness club, the arts.