In this episode, my guest Kellina Powell shared about being deaf since age 4, how it was growing up and how she overcome the many challenges and struggles that came along with her disability. Today, she is a young entrepreneur who loves to help people with their personal growth and educate others about the deaf community. She recently graduated with a psychology degree and is now starting her own online coaching business while finishing working on her book! Here are some topics you wouldn't want to miss out on during our conversation:
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Mindfully Recharged Podcast. This is your host, Mariana Thomas. In today's episode, I am talking with the beautiful Kellina Powell. You are going to love this episode. But in this particular story, Kellina is a young entrepreneur who loves helping people. Kellina became deaf at the age of four years old. Please listen to this episode, keep your ears open and follow the story. I don't want to give you more information, because I want you to hear the strength in the courage of this young girl. So, without further ado, let's get to the episode.
Intro Speaker 0:56
Welcome to Mindfully Recharged with Mariana Thomas. In this podcast, Mariana brings you mindful conversations and people that will develop and recharge you from the inside out so that you can increase productivity in your personal and professional life. This is Mindfully Recharged.
Hello, welcome to the Mindfully Recharged Podcast, Kellina. I am so excited to have you with me in the audience today. How is it going in?
It's been really good. Thank you so much for having me.
I'm excited to have you. Thank you for being here. I'm honored. I'm looking at your beautiful face and your smile. And so, I'm excited to get this conversation going. So Kellina, so where does Kellina’s story begin? Where did this wonderful story begin?
Thank you. The story started when I was four years old. So, I am a deaf advocate, I am deaf. I became deaf at the age of four. And that's how my story started.
Oh, wow. So Kellina, what happened at the age of four that you know, this transpired? What transpired for you to lose your ear sight?
I was at a daycare; I had an infection. And my doctor prescribed me an ear drop and it was really for the eardrum. And so, what happened was I went to daycare with it. And unfortunately, the staff did not follow the instructions for the ear drops and so since that happened, I went home that day, when they didn't listen or follow the instruction, I lost my hearing that day. And my mom was calling me and I couldn't hear her for like, three hours and my mom came to tap my shoulder. And I just jumped because I was a little girl. I didn't know what was going on. And that's when my mom thought I was joking. But my mom was a young mom. So, she was so new to the health system. And luckily, I had my grandma who was actually a nurse. And so, my mom's talking to my grandma, and said “You know, Kellina is not listening to me”. And my dad said, “no, you got to be joking”. And my mom was like,” No, no, she can't hear me”. And so, my grandma rushed home from her work. And the next day, unfortunately, the next day, my family doctor said there's nothing they can do my eardrum in my ear is broken. That is how it started.
Oh, my goodness. How sad was that? What did you feel at the age of four, when your mom brought that up to you? Obviously, you knew right away. What was that like at the age of four years old?
I was so confused. I was hearing so many voices when I had the hearing aid and I was confused. I took it out because I thought it was a toy. And I was forced. I didn't know what was going on. And I was really confused. I was lost. That was definitely that I was lost 100% because my mom noticed that every time, they talk to me the voice was different versus when I had my normal hearing. So, I was really stumped by it and that's why I'm just like, “Why am I hearing different?” and it was really challenging at times, especially for my family because I'm like that person in my family. And so, the communication was really tough for me at the first three years I was wearing a hearing aid.
Wow Kellina, bless your family for being there for you and, and accommodating themselves to this new beginning, basically, because it’s a beginning to a new way of communication. And being the only one in the family, you know, that you just mentioned who can hear, and the fact that we are having this conversation, even though you can hear me it is absolutely amazing. And I'm looking at your beautiful smile, and you're just gorgeous. And I like to get into more here. So Kellina, when you went to school, at that, when you were ready to go to school, without having your hearing, how was that for you? How did you deal with it? You know, you could hear before the age of four, and then now it's like, okay, I get to emerge into the world and actually have friends and go to school and have this new life, with no hearing. So, tell us about that.
Oh, my goodness, this is such an emotional topic, because I was actually split into two different schools. Thank God, my family found a Dutch school for me. I went to a Dutch school and then I went to a hearing school in the afternoon. So, with that two communities, it was a big challenge for me to accept two communities because I realized how two different communities, two different personalities, two different communication ways. And that's the one thing I learned, with communication, how do I communicate with two different communities knowing I am deaf? How can I help both communities to learn how to come in one role, to learn how to communicate with one another? So, it was really inspiring how I was able to do that at a young age. I was only four going to school, and a lot of times in the hearing school, I felt really motivated because I was seeing kids that are like me. And when I wasn’t in the hearing school, it was more difficult because there was no one like me. And I was bullied a lot of times, the teacher didn't know how to communicate with me. She doesn’t know how to even accommodate me, especially in the classroom, especially with different kids who are hearing, especially having conversations, right? They didn't know if I was listening in class, they sometimes did too much for me. And I feel like “I’m okay”. You know, and my family taught me how to access my stuff at a young age and if they’re not listening, you need to tell them. And so, I had to grow up super-fast at a young age and able to advocate for myself, it was rewarding. It was a challenge; I’m not lying to anybody. But again, as I got older, things got a little bit easier for me because I learned how to communicate with the hand. So, unfortunately, I stopped going to Dutch school. I only stayed until I was in grade three, because the school was too far, so I ended up not going there and went straight to hearing school. Since then, things got better since I went to hearing school.
So that's amazing. Oh, my goodness, you're a trooper. And one thing that I've heard there, and this happened to me I believe when I was 12-14-15 years old, I was bullied as well, like you Kellina. So how at the age of four, probably this went on… how long did the bullying go on for you? And how did you cope with that?
The bullying went on until I was in grade 5 so it was a really long time. It was my entire elementary school. I had great support, my two best friends were Oh my god, there was literally my superpower. And every time someone bullied me, they would throw a rock at them. And they just never let anybody touch me and never let anybody bully me. And remember one time my best friend called the teacher and she told the teacher like that someone was bullying me and the teacher didn't bother even helping me and then I saw my best friend she like “What are you doing? You’re supposed to help Kellina and you're not doing that”. And it was funny and then left when my best friend’s friend noticed that too. And so, what happened from there was I actually reported to the principal, the principal didn't do anything, and especially my parents had to go back to school and figure out what was going on, because I actually came home with bruises, and it was so bad. Because my mom was doing social work. And they’re not scared, and my mom walked in with the bat, so they don't they knew there was a bat…
She was ready to defend her little girl. So, what was it like to be the only one that was deaf basically in school? Right? Among your friends I mean, did you feel different?
At some point yes, especially when having a conversation with them, I felt really different. Because, you know, being a deaf person it’s very hard to have a conversation with more than one person at the same time, because being deaf, the voices are taking time to hear. So that only thing that I felt really different. But, a friend of mine, all made sure that I hear every single one of them. They always take their time while they're talking and they always catch me up if I didn’t hear anything, that they're not ashamed like “ugh, I’ll tell you later” like you're not listening. They never did that to me before. So, the only difference in the school is no one knew how to communicate, that was the only difference.
Right? And you know, Kellina, now that you mentioned that I have learned, you know I'm studying right now. And in my program, the Mindfulness Meditation, long two years program. I'm already a yoga teacher, but I'm in this intern, intense program right now. And one of the things that I'm learning is to deal with different types of people. Like the diversity, and inclusivity. And how you and I met was in this new, amazing social media app called Clubhouse. And we are now learning that we need to say our name, speak and say what we need to say. And then say our names again, and say “I’m done speaking” at that moment, yes, Kellina. That when I understood why are we doing this. We are doing this for someone like you. And you just explained: “I can't speak to two people or three at the same time. It has to be one at a time. So, I know exactly who is talking to me”. What a beautiful day. I'm learning so much right now. And I am so grateful to be a part of this community. Now, you know, there's a club in there and it’s called “The 15%” … I'm sure you remember. Are you a member of that club? That’s an amazing club has so many people that are friends of mine, now they are in there. I don't like to call you guys… say that word, say the word because I don't like to say it…
But there is another word to say. There was another one that I said the other day. And I wanted to say it and one person actually corrected me and said “no, we want to be called that way. We are you know, instead of saying special, you say No, it’s a disability.” And that was hard for me to say. Because I don't see you guys as disabled. I see you guys as being someone special. Because I work with people with cerebral palsy and autism and all this type of stuff and you guys are just so special when you have a disability, you know what I mean? So that was kind of hard for me. But I'm learning to just say it because you guys want to be called that way and that's a different story that we can go in. The one thing that I wanted to ask you, Kellina, is how did you recharge yourself after being in two different schools, trying to combine communication and bringing everyone together so they can communicate with you and understand you, and you could understand them. I'm sure that you were, this will be interesting to say, when you were in your silent time, you know, I feel like you're always in silence which is beautiful. And I am jealous. Not talking to anyone and you have that quiet time, how do you recharge yourself?
I would say I always map out my schedule. I feel like it's very important to have a schedule, especially for someone who has a disability - we have so much on our plate a lot of times, and I feel like a lot of times, sometimes we feel like we don't deserve rest. And I always tell people, rest. Because for me, hearing is voices, voices, voices. And because I'm a lip reader, I have to read lips 24/7, my lip is my ear. And people think “oh my god, like how do you lip read? How do you like, I don't get it, like how you do it?” and I say I'm tired 24/7 because I have to read someone’s lips. And that's why, for me, it's very important to have my self-care. And every Sunday for me is relaxed. And that is how, how tired I get. And some people don't realize the people that, they go “Yeah, but you got an easy way” You know, we need help. And I feel like sometimes people feel like they can be offering help but sometimes they don't understand the disability behind it. If I were to put it in that way.
Oh, that is so amazing, Kellina. I love it because you said the keyword. That's how I do my self-care. And you know, Sundays are my day to mindfully recharge myself. And that is so important and the fact that you can read my lips. That is so amazing. You know why? Because I have an accent, English is my second language. The fact that you can read me, that just really feels my heart. So, thank you because you just validated me as well. So, thank you so much. And I know that you use other assistants also, you know, to be able to communicate, like in clubhouse, for example, where you can’t see people but they're talking so you have other systems that do help you. Okay. So now I want to get to the juicy stuff, Kellina. You had done so much not only going to school and tell me what is your degree now?
Psychology? I mean, come on. You are not only a psychologist, but you are a businesswoman.
So, tell me, what is it like to start your own business being a deaf person?
Oh, my goodness. I mean, I would say a lot of people don't hear a lot when they hear someone who has a disability have their own business. It's very rare. And my goal is to be a deaf advocate for the disability community to encourage them to, you know, come out of their comfort zone, come up the shop, don't be afraid to go to the Clubhouse. And I'm and you know, for me, my business is a mental health coach. My goal is to help the people who are deaf and those who have disabilities to come out of that comfort zone. And even treat them saying that they don't know. For example, in finance, a lot of people with disabilities don't have education and knowledge about finance. Two: There is so many mental health with a disability we don't even talk about it. Why? Because we feel guilt. We feel like no one will understand us. And you know, and the third thing is, for me it was difficult because there was no one who was like me who have a disability that wanted a business. I had to do things on my own. And you know, thankfully I'm grateful for my family because we have a business and I’ve been able to learn from my family how to run a business, and they're teaching me how to run. So, I will say the difficulty in starting a business is being able to find the resources and the right people who can support you because a lot of people who have disabilities are not out there so it’s very hard to find them. And you know, you have to pick them, you have to find a community support group or even check it out if there's any other way. So, I would say that’s a little bit difficult, but for me starting my own mental health coach, but it's getting there, I think, communicating with a lot of people in Clubhouse, teaching people on clubhouse alone, I feel like teaching people on Clubhouse alone is another business I've been doing, because I've been helping people run rules for them, you know, helping them what to do, how to be more inclusive.
I love that. So, your target audience is people like you. People who want to grow, maybe they are just a little bit behind you. And you want to bring them up to where you are and even more, right? I mean, you were amazing, my dear. And the fact that you're getting out there, and letting people know what you do, and getting in the community where you can find those people. That's important. So, we can make sure we get this out to the world. So, the other question that I have for you is how can someone support or accommodate someone who's deaf? Okay, how can I support you? You know, right now I'm trying to speak as clear as I can, you know, being mindful in how I speak and really looking at you when I’m talking. So, what are the ways people can support someone like you?
That's a really good question. I would say one, always be mindful in terms of what their needs are everybody needs are different. Sometimes people expect that everybody will understand what you’re saying, but it’s not. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask them, “Hey, how can we accommodate you?” I feel like when I’m talking to people, they get nervous, and I noticed that people in Clubhouse go ask me “hey, is my accent okay?” I’m like, it’s okay. You know, but it's really important to ask, and I feel like that's the number one thing you're always talking about, like a lot of people want to ask, I get it, it's a really scary thing because you never came across as someone like that. And it's like, it's okay. Why because the education system never taught us to be inclusive, and diversity, and how to be a helpful community. And the second thing I always tell people is, make sure you make your social media platform accessible, captions, speaking slowly, if you have not then put a caption as well. I know a lot of times people to be like, “Oh my God captions are too much work.” There are so many websites that can do it for you. I've been teaching a lot of people who are big influencers, and I actually taught them how to do a closed caption and so I would say those are the top three things I will recommend a lot of people to do.
Yeah, that's so awesome. That's one thing that I have been mindful of. I don't know if you have seen my reels lately. And if you haven't, girl get in there and give me a like and a comment. I asked my assistant, make sure we have captions. Because even the people who can hear the majority of the time people are just scrolling. Right? And so, if they can see what you are saying or what you mean, you know, it's better. But yes, accessibility for those who can hear is very important. So, what a beautiful thing. So, if you're listening to this episode right now, this is how you can help someone like Kellina, someone who can’t hear. Make sure that you ask questions, right? What do they need? And not be afraid to ask. And the second one is to make sure that you're being accessible, like putting your captions you know, and maybe speaking slowly and clearly. And what is the third one Kellina?
And just make sure that you're being accessible in terms of like, let's say like Zoom, for example, make sure that they are talking with captions, and a lot of times people don't realize to use Zoom with a caption on it, but Google will do so do the research before they bring someone on the platform.
Okay, beautiful. So Kellina, speaking of that, what is the biggest struggle, maybe when those things don't happen. But just the biggest struggle in general, because we all struggle with something, we all have our ups and our downs. Even when we have everything going for us when we have all our senses. But for you, and for those in your community, what is the biggest struggle?
My biggest struggle is when I ask for help. And someone doesn't know, I won’t say they don’t know but someone who is not willing to accommodate me. So, if I'm like asking you, and you said no, I'm not a person who asks a second time. I'm not that person. So, I feel like that is my struggle. And even though if I spoke to someone the first time, I feel like going after the second time, I don't want to bug them. My second struggle is you know, to balance out my mental health, right? I can get super anxious when I’m with the hearing community, even though I came there at 4 or 5, I feel like the more words I get, the more I get a little nauseous to being around like, especially if someone new, and especially at Clubhouse, speaking to someone new, are they going to be disrespectful? So that is the second struggle I have. The third struggle is keeping up with things in my life, you know, having a disability, going to the doctor, and keeping up in school. And so, there's a lot on my plate because you know, because of my disability, there are so many things that have to take care of. And so that is another struggle I have to deal with. But I know that in order for me to go through struggle, it's going to make me better and make me successful especially if I'm running a business, I have to learn how to take on a lot of plates.
Yes, I hear you there. And I see why. You know, I always tell my clients, there is no such thing as life balance, right? Life harmony and we got to find that symphony in that right melody for our lives, right? So, when you tell me about all these things, the school, the business, the talking to people, when asking people for help and they're not willing to… I see how you can be very exhausted. That’s why self-care and recharging yourself are so important. So, the struggle in that is so many things to juggle at the same time, and not having people to understand where you coming from. And this is why it's so important for us to communicate with people to ask questions, to be kind, to be compassionate, and to know that everyone is coming from a different place. Everyone has something that they're dealing with, even if they are successful. Because I see you as someone who has succeeded in many things, you have a degree, you have a business, you are helping people, you are helping your community, but yet we still have struggles. And the most important thing about that is that we hope the people will understand and will support us with the struggle. Yeah, so one of the things that I always tell myself is if I don't find that support, I have to find it within me. And that's why I always recommend mindfulness. So be mindful with yourself, finding your quiet time meditating. I don't know now with Covid, we can go and get a massage that often. But maybe self-massage. You know, just taking care of yourself is really important. Doesn't matter where you are. Doesn't matter how successful you are. It doesn't matter if you have all your senses or you are missing one of them. What a beautiful thing. So Kellina with that, what is next in your life? Because you’ve already overcome so many things girl. Seriously, when I look at you and your smile and everything that you have overcome, what is next in your journey and how can…
Oh, my goodness, what is next on my journey? I will take the next thing is on my journey is I'm going to be providing online courses for people who want to learn how to be accessible, and who want to learn how to communicate with someone who is deaf. So that was the first one. The second thing is I’m interested in opening a nonprofit organization for the deaf communities. For them to afford a hearing aid, cochlear implant, ASL interpreter, BSL interpreter around the world. And because a hearing aid is super expensive, it’s $5,000 per hearing aid. Not a lot of people can afford that. So, I noticed that a lot of people, especially in the States, or Europe, or especially those who don't have benefit coverage, can't afford a really high-quality hearing aid. So, for me, it's very important that my community can get access to those types of hearing aids to make sure they're having a better life not struggling because they can't hear. And because they can't provide the proper hearing aid, or even the proper equipment for themselves, even though the government may cover a little bit, but the government does not cover everything. For example, there’s a school system where when you go to school, you buy an FM system, which is to help the teacher speak and the student can hear. And there’s a hearing aid, there are hearing aid batteries, you have to go to the store and actually physically buy it, you won't get hearing aids for free. So, there are some people who are struggling to buy hearing aids. And so that is why I'm putting down two things for now, and I have to warn myself that I have way too much on my plate.
I can totally feel that passion for this project. And what an amazing project to be able to support the people that do need this. Because like you mentioned, there is a lot of people that may not be able to afford these, you know, units that they need in order to hear in order to communicate. What a beautiful thing, Kellina. Thank you so much for adding so much value to the world. So, if someone wants to know more about your future projects, like, hey, I'm going to teach people how to be inclusive. We need that very much in this world, Kellina. How can they connect with you on that?
I would love to, they can connect with me on Twitter - @cutiekellina, and Instagram @Deafqueenboss, my website is kind of shut down. I don't know what's going on with that. So, I'm actually trying to work on it so I can get it up by this week. So, my website is Kellinaempowerment.com So, with that being said, people can find my health coach fitness, my podcast, my information. And of course, they can ask me anything, they want me to be a speaker for the conference, teaching people. And if they want me to make room for them in Clubhouse, that’s how you will find me.
Awesome. And we will put that information on the show notes so people can follow that and learn more about the foundation that you want to create in the future. Maybe they can find that on your website, as well. Hopefully, you get that going pretty soon. You know I'm not the best helper when it comes to technical stuff. And really, I’m not that great there. But hopefully, you get some help there. My friend, it truly has been a pleasure to have this conversation with you and to get to know you more. And hopefully, I can be a support in helping you anyway because I'm in love with this community and getting to know more and more people and the disabled community, and you guys are believable and super excited about that. And I'm just appreciative that you accepted my invitation to come to the podcast and speak to the audience. So, with that, the last question is: This podcast is called Mindfully Recharged., so what would it be a tip for the audience to mindfully recharge themselves?
I would say be kind to yourself and be mindful that there are other people who are actually looking up to you, little do you know. You just never know. And also, tomorrow is not a promise. Make it the best. Make your life the best. Tomorrow is not a promise. And God bless.
Beautiful, Kellina. Thank you so much for that advice. And with that, my friends I hope that you enjoyed this episode. Please go to the show notes check Kellina’s info and we can’t wait to see you on the next episode of The Mindfully Recharged. And this is Mariana, I’m signing out and see you next week. Bye. Bye, everyone.
Thank you for listening, everyone. And don't forget to go to the show notes and click to download your free Mindful and Energetic Living Guide. Also, don't forget to share this podcast with your friends, families, and everyone up there. I want to get this out there to everyone. So, thank you for your support, and I'll see you next week.