I graduated from the University of Ulster in 2001 with a 2:1 Hons Degree in Business (Retail Distribution Management). Not before failing a important transfer test at 11 and leaving secondary school with just 2 qualifications.
Whilst I was at college repeating my GCSE’s I began to challenge my limiting beliefs with the help of a very supportive maths teacher. Every day she stayed behind during lunch to give myself and a friend extra tuition. She affirmed to me regularly – ‘Michelle, I know you can do this. You do have the ability. You are more than capable. You can do this.’ Little did she know the impact those encouraging words would have on me.
An 11-year career in financial services followed university, leading a team as General Manager for a national mortgage company. I know my teacher would have been proud.
Following the recession, redundancy & divorce in 2008, I decided to re-train with the vision of eventually setting up my own business. I wanted to help other people, just like me, overcome challenges and uncertainty.
In 2010 I became an NLP Practitioner (Neuro Linguistic Programming), a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader & Master Teacher in Energy Healing.
I started seeing clients from my living room in 2011. These very humble beginnings lead to the birth of The Sunshine Project in 2012.
In that same year one of my closest friends, Jacky, died suddenly. I was devastated.
How could someone so young, healthy, and vibrant die so young?
Jacky introduced me to Laughter Yoga back in 2008 when I was struggling. She was instrumental in my healing journey. She was my soul sister. We had plans of collaborating and sharing our happiness programmes with our local community.
How on earth could I do this on my own?
After a lot of reflecting and meditating it became clear to me that if I became a Teacher in this practice I could train up others to deliver sessions in their own communities and schools. And so I travelled to London and immersed myself in learning mindful breathing techniques, laughter exercises, grounding exercises and Yoga Nidra relaxation to become Northern Ireland’s first Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher.
All of a sudden my passion to help others became my life purpose.