Ercelene Kinnebrew has always been sort of a “cheerleader,” offering words of encouragement or pushing friends, family and co-workers out of their comfort zone to fulfill their goals. Kinnebrew is a proud graduate of one of the best HBCUs in the land, Hampton University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing. She continued her education at Kennesaw State University earning a Master of Business Administration with a focus in Leadership and Certification in Health Coaching. Ercelene is a lifelong learner, and adventure seeker in her own way.
Her recently released book, Unpacking Your Backpack : Overcoming the Influence of Your Past, was her debut as an author. She gives a birds-eye view into her life growing up, and how her experiences caused her to battle with self-doubt and insecurities as a full-figured woman.
“I have been thick my entire life, I had to learn to love myself as a whole woman inside and out and let go of the negative influence of my past”.
What inspired you to become an author?
Ercelene: I have always enjoyed writing. It could be poetry, short stories, or sitting in a quiet space reading a book. Writing was a safe place to let my imagination run free. I had often thought about writing a book but ignored the idea for years as a result of my own “stinkin’ thinking.” I questioned how could my story be beneficial to anyone; who would want to read my story? During my own healing journey I prayed a lot. There were several times the idea of writing a book resurfaced and I ignored it.
I literally felt like God was nudging me but I was too stubborn to understand that writing the book was part of my healing. While sharing portions of my life experiences with others the idea to write the book resurfaced and again I ignored it, but didn’t completely close the door on the thought. I remember sitting at dinner with two of my colleagues who became dear friends who during conversation mentioned I should write a book. Again, I felt like it was another nudge and I decided to give it a go and the rest is history.
Please tell us about the book you wrote, Unpacking Your Backpack : Overcoming the Influence of Your Past.
Ercelene: I fondly call the book a labor of love. Unpacking Your Backpack : Overcoming the Influence of Your Past is an interactive reading experience that gives readers a glimpse into my life, my personal insecurities and how I was able to overcome the influence my past was having in my life. For years I ignored the feelings I had about experiences in my childhood and the influence those experiences had on my adult life, my behaviors and my own insecurities. I hid my feelings behind my smile, but I carried all of the baggage with me every day in my “invisible backpack.”
I say invisible because no one ever really saw all of the stressors, emotional insecurity or mental challenges that caused me to allow my representative to show up instead of allowing people the opportunity to get to know the real me. I was not showing up authentically. Sharing my story is part of the reading experience, but I also included some self-reflection opportunities and a template to help create a healthy emotional life plan. The healthy emotional life plan focuses on the whole person.
What was the journey like for you to complete the book and what do you want readers to take away from it?
Ercelene: Writing my first book, Unpacking Your Backpack: Overcoming the Influence of Your Past was like looking at my life from the outside in. There were definitely days that were easier than others. I had to rehash a lot of old feelings, address a few issues that were not completely resolved and take another look at the scars and bad behaviors.
Throughout the writing, I recommitted to not waste any more days of my life afraid or ashamed to show off the woman I saw in the mirror. Playing small is no longer an option! The more I shared, I began to realize the impact I could possibly have, [and] it was at that point the book became interactive. I included exercises throughout the book to help readers create a healthy emotional life plan to start shifting their mindset to create a more fulfilling life.
How has being a nurse and healthy lifestyle coach made an impact on you personally?
Ercelene: I believe my career as a Registered Nurse has taught me the importance and power of perseverance, compassion, empathy and forgiveness on my overall health. Being able to forgive myself for the bad decisions I made was pivotal to my healing journey. Admittedly, knowing how ignoring my emotional health could directly impact my physical health, I still needed a wake-up call to get back on track to becoming a better me.
I had to implement the same interventions I used with my clients in my own life. The Healthy Emotional Life Plan (H.E.L.P.) that I share in my book Unpacking Your Backpack: Overcoming the Influence of Your Past was created as my own personal guide to help me redesign my life, regain and maintain a healthy balance.
Of course, having the knowledge and skills to do better didn’t prevent me from reverting back to bad habits from time to time. For me personally, I had to implement several of the interventions I use with my clients in my own life.
We’re thrilled to know about the Curvygirls Clubhouse, what can you tell us about it?
Ercelene: I am so glad you asked. Curvy Girls Clubhouse is an online community for full-figured professional women to meet other full-figured professional women with common interests and similar experiences, inspired to enjoy life. Learning to love the woman they see in the mirror. It is my goal to inspire 1,000 women to begin living a joyful life, free of embarrassment or shame. Being part of a community of women who look like you and are doing amazing things personally and professionally is empowering.
I believe we all need a tribe. You know the people that “get you”. As a member of Curvy Girls Clubhouse women can learn techniques to increase confidence, communicate effectively with different personality types, get assistance creating her H.E.L.P., participate in unscripted conversations on life and love, receive meal planning tips and more, all [within] a private community! Not to mention being celebrated as the amazing woman she is. It is a safe place where women can be themselves without fear of being judged by body shape or weight. At the clubhouse, curvy girls are “more than a dress size”. You can visit www.curvygirlsclubhouse.com to connect with me for more information on how to join.
What all do you hope for yourself in 2022?
Ercelene: There are so many things that flood my mind with this question. One of my greatest desires this year is to speak at several women’s conferences, book clubs and podcasts. I want to continue sharing my story and inspiring women around the world to forgive, heal and start enjoying their life to the fullest. It is important to me to continue helping others learn to live life unashamed and unafraid. Growing the Curvy Girls Clubhouse community is also my desire this year. I am keeping myself open to what God has in store for me in all areas of my life.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Ercelene: I absolutely love to travel in my spare time away from work, and I haven’t been able to do much travel due to the pandemic. Some of my other hobbies include writing of course, but I also enjoy crafting, cooking, watching movies and live music.
What is the best business advice you have ever received that you could pay forward to someone else?
Ercelene: The best business advice I have ever received is to never be the smartest person in the room and always surround yourself with people who challenge you to be better and have expertise in areas where you’re weaker. I would also pass along the advice to continue believing in yourself even when the people [who] you expected to support you don’t.
What else can we be on the lookout for?
Ercelene: Currently book number two is underway, and I am discussing the possibility of launching a podcast with a really good friend. The idea of coordinating a Curvy Girls Clubhouse retreat has also been on my mind.
Keep up to date by visiting: https://curvygirlsclubhouse.
Photo credit to Kim Taylor of Kimazing Photography