Ep 45 | Tara Martin: Overcoming Trauma, Advocating for Kids, and Bringing Your REAL Self

By Kim Strobel

March 24, 2021

Tara grew up in a very chaotic and abusive home. She was an “at-risk” student whose life was changed by one caring, kind, and very REAL teacher, which is why she now advocates for every single student and empowers educators across the country to be REAL. REAL Educators are relatable, they expose vulnerability by sharing their experiences, they are approachable, and they learn through life.

She shares how we must embrace the hand life dealt to us in order to fulfill our purpose and inspire those we serve to do the same.

Listen On: iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | Spotify

If you enjoyed this episode and it inspired you in some way, we’d love to hear about it and know your biggest takeaway. Take a screenshot of you listening on your device, post it to your Instagram Stories and tag me @kimstrobeljoy and Tara @taramartin.real.

What You’ll Learn From This Episode:

  • Why school was the safest place for her growing up.
  • How we must embrace the hand life dealt us to fulfill our purpose and inspire those we serve to do the same. 
  • The power of being true to yourself and finding the courage to “cannonball” into the adventures life offers. 
  • How to make “REAL” connections with others and dare to make a difference.
  • Why you can do hard things.

“ You were not born to sit on the sidelines and watch the jumpers. You were born to jump.”  Tara M. Martin

Helpful Links

About Tara Martin

Tara Martin is an educator, author, leader, and hugger. Teaching is hands down her purpose in life, next to being a mom! She considers herself an instructional coach by default because leading by inquiry tends to bleed over into any role she has had the honor to serve. One of my favorite things about Tara is she thrives on change and refuses to settle for the status quo.

About Kim

Kim Strobel is Chief Happiness Officer at Kim Strobel Live Events and Retreats. She is a teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, happiness coach, and a mission-minded person whose passion helps others overcome their fears and discover their joy!

You can follow Kim’s journey on Instagram at @KimStrobelJoy, and in the free private, She Finds Joy Facebook community.

 Love this episode and want to continue the conversation with me and other like minded individuals? Join the free private, She Finds Joy Facebook community.


Kim and Tara Martin 


Kim Strobel 00:03 

Hello, my friends and we're back for another episode of she finds joy. And I have to tell you, you know, I'm always excited about my guests, you know this I carry this kind of contagious enthusiasm for life. I very rarely meet someone who comes with the same kind of energetic vibration. And so today's guest is a woman by the name of Tara Martin. And Tara is a former school teacher turned instructional coach, turned author, speaker. And what I love about her is like her the name of her book, you guys is called real. And she really believes in valuing a person's unique strengths, talents, and all of the things that make them them. And you know how I am I'm always talking about how can we become more of who we really are at the soul level. Right. And Tara, that's exactly what you talk about. And I can't wait to dive into this session. I have to tell you all, I actually met her through a friend Matt Miller. He had us both Tara do a ditch that summit. I don't know if you remember that. Or it was a session we were live. And so I mean, I read people's energy. So I see this woman with like this beautiful long hair, this like super kind of bright lipstick, this massive smile. And she's just, you just like, I was just drawn to your energy. And so I'm just so excited to have you on the podcast. I am excited to be here, Ken, thank you so much. And I agree. I think we were fast friends. Yeah. I mean, we saw each other. I think we hugged each other maybe the first time I think 

Tara Martin 01:42 

those are always my besties immediate messages you're like, yes. So I want you to tell us a 

little bit about who you are. And then we're gonna dive into this concept called real. Let's do it. So I am Tara Martin, as she stated, I am a mom, that is probably my most favorite role in this thing called life. I'm a mom of one boy. So boy, Mom, he is 19 years old. And I know a lot of people, they always think I had him when I was 12. So if you're watching this, and you're like, Oh my gosh, she has an 18 year old. I have some good genetics. I'm not sure where they came from, but I'm super grateful for them. It is 19 years old. And I promise I was plenty old enough to have a baby at that moment. He is just my prized possession. I also have a husband and married to my high school sweetheart. We've been married for 22 years, 22 and a half years. And we started dating when we were 16. We got married when I was 20. And then I became an educator Love, love, love teaching. I showed up to school every day couldn't wait to be at school every single day. I was the first real teacher that even five years into it. I cried when it was Christmas break and all the breaks because I never really wanted to be gone. I was I was really that danger. It's crazy to think about it. I can honestly say in all my other roles. This wasn't necessarily the case. But when I was in the classroom, that was definitely the case. You can ask him a principle. Yeah, after that I became an instructional coach. I loved that role. as well. I worked as an instructional coach for about eight years inside the school system and really just enjoyed helping teachers find where they were, where their students were and helping them move to the next level. That was something I was passionate about. I got a lot of training from multiple different coaches, Bruce Wellman, Laura Lipton, Julian, Jim Knight, I just had all kinds of wonderful training when it comes to coaching. And then I later became an administrator of instructional coaches. So we started a small in a small district outside of my district, we started a coaching program from the ground up. So I got to become a district administrator, where I'd like to facilitate that, learn what that looks like hire coaches, train them, help them to do all these wonderful things that I had been getting to do for eight years. And I really, really loved that role as well. And then I was offered this wonderful opportunity, which is what I do right now as working for Dave Burgess consulting as the director of PR and communications, where I get to do a lot of fun things, I get to create graphics, go straight, do all kinds of things to the company, create frameworks within our company that helps serve our readers, and our educators out there that are just so amazing and so supportive of the work of DVC Inc, but also get to mentor and support and coach authors through the writing process and also through the launching process of their book and it is just a final roll. I'm so grateful for that. And I have written a couple of books be real educate from the heart, and Cannonball in which is my little picture book that I love so much. And I do get to travel around and talk to not only teachers but also students at assemblies and help them to remember Remember who they really are, and help them to Cannonball in on those dreams and ambitions they have. 

Kim Strobel 05:04 

I love that. And for those of you who are listening, because, you know, we do have a lot of teachers who listen to this podcast because I'm a former teacher and what I love is that you recognize this concept of, especially when it comes to like educating our students, you know, how do we even let them be their real selves? And so, you've kind of gone through this journey yourself. You now work for Dave burgers, by the way, those teachers listening Dave burgers is the teach like a pirate guy. Okay, so you have this role. You're kind of like outside of Shelley. You're Dave's right hand girl, I think. 


Yeah, yeah. 

Tara Martin 05:43 

She would be his number one I might be like next. Especially when it comes to anything technology. I think he could agree to that. Yes, yes. 

Kim Strobel 05:52 

And so like, where did this concept this idea of like, be real? What? Why is that birthed in your soul? Tara to help me understand how that became such an important mission that you want to put out there to people? 

Tara Martin 06:07 

Certainly. So you might be asking if you're listening, you might be asking what is real? Well, real is an acronym. It is being relatable. expose a little vulnerability, approachable and learn through life. I feel like all of the multipliers, if you will, I know Liz Wiseman, Liz Wiseman's book called multipliers is just a book I love so much. If you haven't read it, it's incredible. But all of the multipliers in my life, were always real. So when I got to thinking about, what is it that I stand for? What is my brand? What is it that makes me me? And what is it that I think the whole world needs to embrace and do and be to be to create this beautiful world where everyone gets to be their best self? And when I came down to it, I started thinking about who are those multipliers in my life? Sorry, yes. There were those multipliers in my life, like, Who were those people? And what made them them? Well, they were real. They were relatable. They expose vulnerability. And they allowed me to do that, too. They were approachable. And they allowed me to be approachable, too. They taught 

me how to be approachable. And they were always learning through life. And they, they helped me to embrace that mindset as well. So real just became something that I'm like, Yes, this is me, this is what I stand for. And it really kind of came the Act, the name, the word real, came from one of my surveys, I've always surveyed my students and asked them, you know, about the climate, the culture of our classroom. And we did it on note cards way back when, but with my coat with the coaches that I got to serve, I would survey them to beginning and end of year. And I remember one of their comments that said, you know, Tara, you're different, because you're real. And I was like, so it just kind of stuck out. It's one of those ones I like, posted up on my, on a post it note on my computer. And I also saved that one, I was just like, I love that. So when I've had to think what is real, that's when I came up with the acronym, but I really think it goes if it really kind of goes back to even my childhood with teachers, especially one of my elementary teachers, who really showed me what being real was all about, and helped me to embrace who I really was, as well. 

Kim Strobel 08:39 

So I absolutely love this topic, because I think that most of us are walking around, and we're pretending to be someone we're not. And we also walk around with all these labels, that and beliefs that are a part of our core system. And I know that like most of the beliefs that were housing in our body about our potential and our ability and our strength, were actually they came from the first four years of our life, they come from our childhood, and they're still operating in your system today. And so, but we have the ability to download a new set of beliefs, we have the ability to change the trajectory of our life. And so I want to talk about several things with you. But I want to understand your childhood. I want to understand the trauma that you endured that that I feel like is kind of also running in the background of why you show up and do what you do. 

Tara Martin 09:28 

Yeah, so I love to talk about that. It's it's part of my story that it took me a while to really embrace it, right. It's something I understood as a little kid. But as an adult, there were a lot of moments in my life. I was just like, Yeah, I don't really want to talk about that. I don't really have to talk about that people get to see me showing up every day. I want them to see that I want them to see this version of who I am, right, the one that I've created the one that a lot of the multipliers in my life. helping create. But then I remembered. Back in second grade Honestly, I was a student who ran to get in school instead of out as Dave talks, Dave Burgess talks about and teach like a pirate. And I was that kid. And it wasn't necessarily because my teachers were so engaging, and they were just creating these lessons that got me all fired up. But it was because the alternative was less than stellar. I 

had, school was a safe place. For me, it was a place where I got hot meal, the place where sometimes they got hugs from my teachers. And it was a place where I didn't have to worry about being hurt physically, mentally, and in every other way. And I knew that I could be there and I could show up and I can be me. And home was not it was a very scary place. So it was somewhere I never wanted to go, I didn't want to leave school, I cried. Every day, I didn't want to go to home, I didn't want to be there. I especially didn't want to leave for breaks. I was the kid that gave those teachers a living hell because I did not want to leave for breaks ever, ever. I always wanted to be at school. So I would start making myself miserable and making them miserable, so I could get mad at them. And then when I left for a break, I was mad at my teacher. So it was okay, I could be away for a moment. I was that good. So if you have those kids just know I was one of them. But this is s was my second grade teacher. 

Kim Strobel 11:30 

And I'm gonna stop you right there a minute because I have a bunch of questions for you. And I want to go to the Mrs. s story because that's amazing. But I like to get deep with people. Okay. And I want to tell you that like so. So when you're talking about you want it to be at school, you didn't want to go home for Christmas break or holiday break like that was your safe place. I have a similar story of a student that I talked Corey, who is like, he is the superstar of one of my keynotes because he was like the little shit in class, right. Like every day he showed up, he picked and prodded and bothered everybody else because he had a DD he never had his homework he he stuck in when you and I were talking for your podcast, you said I was a smelly second grader. And honestly, Tara, I'm like, in my head, I was thinking, we're gonna talk about this on my podcast, like, you know, like that right in itself can be traumatic, right? I'm thinking why was she smelly? Didn't don't nobody give her bath did she not have. So I'm going to talk about that. But I had this Cory. And he in my classroom, I always allowed and created this very safe place where every day after lunch, the students could either share a gratitude, something they were thankful for a note of appreciation to someone in the class or struggle. And we had created a safe enough place that in November, he shared with the rest of the class that he was going home to a trailer without heat that on the weekends he went without food that his mom was a drug addict and had been arrested the night before. And so this query of mine is now graduating in May from from the University of Southern Indiana, and he still to this day will send me a text and say, Mr. Strobel, you were the game changer. You believed in me, like, you know when no one else did. And so I think like, what you're saying is that this teacher you're getting ready to talk about she kind of did that for you as well. But if it's okay with you, I would like to know more about your home life. When you say it was traumatic. Did you have a mom and a dad? Did 

Tara Martin 13:32 

they feed you? Did they bathe you? 


Tara Martin 13:43 

And I don't usually go into too much detail but but I'm okay with it. I mean, I talked about it in my book material too. If you really want some real details, you can go there. And it's easier to write about it to me than speak about it. Probably the most dramatic piece. My both my parents dealt with addictions. So that was also something that caused some limiting factors when it came to finances. We did have food a lot of times, but not necessarily great food and not necessarily those things that keep you full for a long time. So I felt like at school, we always had a balanced meal. I was always grateful for a hot meal, and also something that kept me full all day. I didn't I wasn't really one that required a ton of food. But there was just something about food at school and knowing that I was going to have this balanced meal that made me feel very safe and comforted. It's true that when your Maslow's needs are met, you're just not thinking about those when they're not met. I feel like they take up so much space in your mind. like are we going to be creative Tonight, are we going to have the heat on tonight? You know, are we having to save energy? Or are we not, but at school, it didn't matter, whatever the climate was, we had the alternate climate inside to be able to make you feel comfortable. So it's just those kinds of things. Also. My family just I don't know, they just put a lot of their own needs in front of their kids. And so that's why we didn't take we only took a couple of baths each week, it was just like to save money. But But I was a very active kid, I love to play outside a whole lot. So I think that's how I got so dirty. But I always had great hand me downs, I will say there was a great little family, couple of them in our town, that always gave me the cutest clothes. So my sister's there were four of us. So we all had decent clothes that we could wear, we would just wear them over and over and over. And so I think that's kind of how we got to become the stinky kids. But it really didn't matter. I mean, that didn't bother me as much as being stinky was probably the least in my concerns. I really just wanted to be fed. And I really just wanted to be hugged. I was one of those kids that needed a lot of physical touch is definitely my love language. So thank you, for those kids that needed a lot of touch. And I didn't get positive touch ever. 

And so at school, I got nurtured. and Mrs. s you know, if we just dive into Yeah, let's talk about her. She, she was just an angel. She really was I think she was like heaven sent. She must have hit her with Halo and her wings and her dress. I don't know, every day when she when I first met her. I remember just thinking, wow, this is the most beautiful teacher I've ever had. It was so lonely. I do before that. But she was just so like glowing and fun. And I remember her just asking all the second graders, what do you want to learn at the end of second grade and all the kids raising their hand and saying all these different things that they wanted to learn. But I knew I knew what I wanted to learn. I wanted to learn how to read because I was so tired of being made fun of and being picked on for everything. But especially that I couldn't read like all the other stuff I could dismiss because it was just kind of a part of who I was. And I was kind of accepting it at that moment. But I wanted to be able to function like they did in class. And so when this little girl looked up to her when we went out to recess and I told her I want to learn to read and she said you're going to learn to read Sweetie, and I was like really? Oh my god. Like I thought when I came back from recess, it was over like I was going to be able to read and it didn't quite work out like that she tutored me every day when I got off the bus. And I honestly I did not know it was tutoring. I thought I was getting like all these special special privileges. I got to walk inside the door and everybody else had to sit outside with their backpack and I got a homemade granola bar on a brown paper napkin and she smelled like red door perfume every single day. And I got a huge hug. And honestly, Kim, I still don't to this day know how she taught me to read that year. But I leveled up with all my peers have never struggled in school again. And I think it was because I think she taught me to read off granola bar and hugs, as all I can imagine, because she would tell me things like, Tara, you're greater than your current circumstances. Like I believe in you. She taught me the love for writing, she got me my first diary with a little key and I got to lock it and put it in her bottom drawer ever file cabinet. And I got to write all kinds of things down in there that was troubling me that was bothering me. And she promised to never show it because I never wanted to get removed from my home. Because if you get removed and you get placed back in, you guys know how that works. It's just miserable. And so she was just somebody I could trust and someone who seriously changed the trajectory of my future. She gave me a whole new highway, if you will, she gave me a whole new way to think and a whole new way to process and also a new Not only did she teach me all this academic, she taught me social skills. And she she helped me to learn like, you know, this is acceptable. And this is not she gave me fidgets, she understood that I was a little bit different. And I got these noise cancelling ear muffs for when we the fire drills went off. So I didn't go into the rocking spells that I was going into. And all of these things that I had resorted to some other kind of behavior. She taught me how to channel all that energy and put it in a place of productivity. And at that moment, I really needed that I was a kid that was dancing around my chair and never missed a day of school ever. Every teacher wish I would miss. I literally got a perfect attendance. scholarship y'all from Tinder to 12. I literally got a perfect attendance scholarship. I never missed a day of school. I was that kid, but was because it was a place I longed to be. It was a place that I needed in my life. But Mrs. s gave me a whole new meaning of why I needed education. She not just to be safe, but to move myself forward to help dig myself out of this hole to to help give me something that I had never seen done before. And so, yeah, I just can never credit her enough. And I know that there's teachers out there that do this every day for their students. So please don't underestimate the awesome things that you do. Because honestly, when I talked about her my graduation speech, my peers came up to me and said, You think you are all special? But the truth is, she did that for all of us. And, and I can't imagine how she could possibly do that for everyone. But that's the thing about teachers, we say, educators have the opportunity to just say something to a kid, that is the perfect words at the perfect time. And they fall on this ground, their heart, and they get buried and watered, and they become something big and beautiful. And you never even imagine that that one little I believe in, you would take this kid to this new place, you know, so yeah, Mrs. S, just, she really changed things for me. And she helped me to view education as a gateway to freedom at Gateway to do something different, a way to serve people in a new in a capacity I never dreamed was possible. And I've never seen done before. So it's still really scary to me. So I think there were lots of coaches and educators placed along the way all the way through, through high school and into college. But becoming a first generation graduate of anything was was a big deal for me. And it was something that I definitely credit all my teachers and coaches for instilling in me something and reminding me that you know what all of you all have your quirks, your weirdness, your circumstances that you didn't get to ask, I didn't ask for that I was born into that, right? I didn't ask for any of that. And all of those things are going to help you to empathize with people like you've never been able to do, like other people can't quite relate. They're going to help you to, to reach kids that no one else can really reach because they've not experienced what you've experienced. But you have to love all those parts of you. And you have to appreciate them, because they shaped you into the person you are today. And so I'm super grateful for all the educators and people in my life that have helped multiply that were my multipliers. 

Kim Strobel 22:55 

And you know, I'm gonna drop that multiply book in the show. notes in your book be real, you know, I'll place that in the show notes. Because I know I'm sitting here going I don't even know about that book. I want to order that book as well. But very business written book, but 

Tara Martin 23:08 

it's really good. It's so good. 

Kim Strobel 23:12 

Yeah. But twice during you talking about that I literally got goosebumps all over me because, you know, I think that everyone, but what she did is what Carol Dweck talks about, you know, she Carol Dweck has this great quote that says the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. And what she's talking about is a belief system. And that teacher, Mrs. s, she downloaded a new belief system in you, Tara that said, Hey, you have capability you have hope, like, I'm going to plant the seeds of hope so that you can see what what you can really do. And like, I think it literally can be the one person who changes your whole trajectory. And for, you know, when I share the story about Cory, I'm not sharing the story, because like Kim Strobel is this anomaly of a teacher who literally changed the trajectory of this kid's life or who was one of several who did it. But to me, teaching is such a noble and sacred profession because you have the ability to influence and impact students 180 days a year, and no other profession gets to do that, Tara, like that's what teachers are made of. That's an amazing calling to know, you can be that North Star, that that is truly a change maker for a student. 

Tara Martin 24:35 

It's so true. It's so true. And I always try to think back to my other teachers, the kindergarten in the first grade teacher, and I really don't remember tons of things about them except for in kindergarten, I got a frowny face every single day. You get a frowny face stamp, like right on your hand every single day for not taking a nap. But yeah, remember really about kindergarten, but I will tell you is like you If you're an educator out there, and that is something that you're sending home, and I'm not bashing my kindergarten teacher, hopefully she doesn't ever listen to this. We're not gonna call her out. But, um, but that frowny face that ink like did not come off. And what I think teachers don't always realize is what that kid has to go home to. It's, it's not good after I tell you, I didn't want that frowny face. I tried to wash it off every day, not because I didn't want to get in trouble. But because I didn't want to get in trouble, like I was going to get in trouble. And I don't I just think we have to be mindful that some kids just don't have it. So good. 

Kim Strobel 25:42 

Yeah. And I think like for me, Tara, and I always tell this story, it kind of it embarrasses me. But like, you know, I went into teaching because I mean, I wanted to grow students, I 

Kim and Tara Martin Page 9 of 23 Transcribed by https://otter.ai

wanted to teach them to be good readers, and writers and mathematicians. And so like, I always say that somewhere along the lines, somebody put Harry Wong's book in my hands, and it taught me the value of relationships. So even though I was all about, like, you know, you got to do your work, and we've got to learn this stuff. I also knew there that the relationship building piece was important. But that being said, you know, I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that every day when Cory walked in my room, and I high fived him and all other kids as they came in, you know, I would high fiving and under my breath, I'm thinking Good morning, Cory, your little shit. Come on, in, you know, like, because like, you know, he was wild. He was crazy. He got on everybody's nerves. He drove people nuts. But but we didn't know this thing was going on in the background. But here's what I did. Tara as a young teacher that I'm ashamed of I just like Maya Angelou says, I just didn't know any better. So I couldn't do any better. But when he didn't have his homework, I was sitting in my little add kid who never had any friends. I was sitting him on the curb at recess, Tara, because he didn't do his homework. You know what that kid didn't had a mom who was who was who has, you know, an alcoholic who was in the bedroom. He wasn't where he had no support. He, he was like you he was multiple grade levels below where he should be. So he didn't know what to do. And then there I am, disciplining him for not bringing, I mean, I just embarrass the hell out of me now. But I learned better because once I heard his story, it's like, all of a sudden, I was like, Oh, I get it. But I want teachers to get it before we have to hear the story. I want them to know that we don't know what those kids are going home to. And that literally they seriously are worried about staying warm at night are getting a meal. And, and so like how do we extend some grace to those kids along the way, which is what Mrs. s did for you, you know, and how do we not enter into the power struggle, and I know it's hard for any teacher that happens to be listening to this. I know you're at your wit's end. And sometimes you just don't have it in you to deal with the situation the right way, and you're a human being and we all do that. But like, understanding the great influence that you have, as a teacher just astounds me. 

Tara Martin 28:16 

It's so true. It's, it's really hard. And I feel certain that Mrs. s probably lost her cool with me more than I just can't really remember those days that much, because there were so many positive ones. And I think that's true with kids, too. They're very forgiving. You know, so, yeah, say we mess up sometimes they still remember, he still came back to you and said, You changed me like you helped me he didn't remember you sitting him down and making him do his homework. Although now we know better. You know, we don't 

Kim Strobel 28:45 

change that, like after November, I no longer did that. Because I finally got the big like, 

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Tara Martin 28:50 

you know, it's like, I can teach, one of the things I did, especially as an elementary teacher, and I preached as an admin too, is just, we have them for so long, especially Elementary, you have them for seven hours, like we can teach them anything they need to know, in the school day, and let the parents be wherever they are. Maybe they want to spend time with their parents, maybe they have a loving family, and they need some time with them. Or maybe they just want to play and do some other things. But, you know, the discipline of homework. I mean, that could be a whole topic. 

Kim Strobel 29:24 

I don't even think we should hardly even have homework anymore, to be honest with you, Tara. 

Tara Martin 29:28 

True. It's so true. There's so many things that you know, there's so many outside factors. But you know, right now, Kim, as we are joining our students in their homes through zoom, I think that's also something we have to be super mindful of. We're a guest in their home. And that would be mortifying, do you hear me that would be mortifying, if I had to do that, in elementary, middle school or high school, I don't even know how I would have survived. I honestly think I would have probably dropped out like my family. Because of the the, like, if I would have had to turn on my camera, and they had to see what would happen in our home, I think it would just be terrible. Yeah, I, I never want to think about it, I never wanted my friends to come over, no one came over to my house. And my teachers didn't come over to my house. And I never wanted that I never wanted that all that to be connected. And so I think that's something to that there's probably students out there that are like me, that aren't comfortable with that. And so we need to be mindful of all those things. It's so difficult, but it's just challenging times that we're in. But like, like you said, this is all about finding joy. You know, this is about using some of those hard times in our life and, and turning them around, and are we going to be the victim? Are we going to use all of that, to help us to be better at being compassionate with others being empathizing of others, understanding that, you know what, I can do hard things. And so when this hard thing comes, I think about some of the hard things that I went through, and I'm like, okay, I came out of that, like, I can come out of this. I don't know how yet, but I'm going to figure out a way. 

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Kim Strobel 31:11 

I love that. And it just makes me love you at an even deeper level. Because remember, I mean, when I first met you, I'm like, Who's this super shiny person in the red lipstick dancing around smiling and laughing like, you know, and I would have never in a million years known that you came from this traumatic background. But I also think, like one of the messages of be real is, is, like you said, How can you honor your skill set and your type of intelligence and your unique, like, I love that you really push back against the status quo. And I want you to talk a little bit about that. But you're, you really are all about embodying who the person is at the core of their being, instead of like, trying to play the game of life with others and I would love for you to talk a little bit about that and help some of us out like even sometimes me I mean, I'm pretty real but sometimes I find myself following along like a little duckling too. 

Tara Martin 32:13 

Yeah, well, it's hard to do and i think it's it's easier if you could just play by the rules right? And because the rules keep you safe right? Most of the time but I will say when you get out of that safe place right when you not not the safe place I was talking about the home but you are secure you're shallow in so if you if you don't mind, Kim, I'm just going to tell the story maybe using my Cannonball in story as the metaphor 

Kim Strobel 32:39 

Yeah, let's talk about that picture book in because I haven't read that I don't even know about that picture book. 

Tara Martin 32:44 

I'm going to clash these together and mash these together because I really think this works. So when we are so the book Cannonball and it's all about one of my favorite moments where my dad used to take me to the city pool every summer one or two times each other usually once and so is a big deals and my favorite day of the summer, but we would go and he taught me how to first I was terrified or the water then he taught me how to swim in the shallow and I became like a little fish in the shallow. But I always wanted to join the jumpers because my dad was the best cannon baller and for ever, this is it. This guy is my dad. So if you watch the picture book, you will see that this dad that I call dad looks nothing like me. He started raising me from the time he was 18 months old on and so he is his grandma is native. So he and I are like night and day. But he knew that I loved the water so much. And he one day came over to me and was like Tara, why don't you come 

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jump. It's your day, like some Cannonball in let's go Cannonball in and I was like, God, I can't touch the bottom over there. Like there's no way I can't go over there. I promise I'm going somewhere with this story. I can't swim over there because I can't touch the bottom and he was like you can swim. If you know how to swim in the shallow and you're going to swim just fine in the deep. You just have to go wrong. Grab both knees, jump, jump, grab both knees and make your splash. That's when you would tell me and he would show me and he would model for me over and over and I would get to the top of the diving board and freak out and climb down. And finally I did it. I got to the top of the diving board. I ran I jumped I made my splash I felt like a freakin rock star down in the in the deep. My temples felt like they were going to explode from all the pressure and I saw the light of sun coming through and I just swam just like I had always done in the shallow when I swam. I couldn't touch the bottom. But I still had that fundamental skill of swimming. And I made it to the top and took a deep breath climbed out felt like a rock star looking at the ripples that I had. Maybe they weren't big waves like my dad made but they were ripples and I was feeling successful. And as I was headed back to talk to my dad and you know get that big hug and the cheer that he always gave me when I did something good. I crossed three dabblers. The dabblers. Are the beautiful girls fully made up, dry, perfect. You know, they're not jumping, but they sure as heck they're judging all the jumpers. And they were really disappointed in my job. It was weak. It was terrible. They saw me I got a wedgie. When I hit the water. They said, they were telling me all these awful things. And I was mortified. So when I got over to my dad, I just was crying. And he was like, You were just feeling so confident. What happened? I'm like, Dad, did you hear them? Did you hear those girls like they like all these things? He but he told me something. Kim, that takes us back to the answer your question. He said, Tara, here's the deal. You first of all, they're not even wet. They're not even wet. They're not jumping? What does it matter? What are their opinions even matter to you? Why. And secondly, he said, You were not born to sit on the sidelines and watch the jumpers. You were born to jump. And every time I think about that statement, I something welled up inside of me and reminds me you know it, every single person listening and every single person out there with the polls, honestly, you were not born to sit on the sidelines and watch all the people around you doing amazing things that you were longing to do. You were born to jump. And it doesn't matter where you start, you have a fundamental skill where you can start your breathing. Okay, we can start there, your breathing. And, and we can start with the next skill up. But we can take it back, we can work we can design backwards. This is our big goal. And how do we break this up to where we can start taking steps toward climbing that ladder ronning grabbing both knees jumping, making a splash because yeah, my ripples were not as big as my dad's waves escaping the pool. Sometimes what we do it, Mrs. s might not have thought what she did was massive waves, right? She didn't think she was making massive waves by telling me she believed in me. And I was greater than my current circumstances. And given me a little diary and teaching me the love for writing that I've journaled every since then, 

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every day of my life, she might not have thought that she was making big waves, but she made ripples. And she made change happen because she took a jump. And she didn't just sit on the sidelines and be like any other teacher and just say she's going to be a statistic just like the rest of her family as a statistic. And there's nothing we can do about it. She didn't do that. She said, You know what, I'm going to Cannonball in and try something a little different. I'm going to put these things in place and give her some fidgets and make her wear noise cancelling ear muffs and teach her how to work in society because she has things to do. She was born to junk, she was born to make waves. And so I think of that when I work with people, when I work with students, when I work with anyone that I serve. Now with authors, you have a story to tell. And don't leave out the parts that are challenging that made you who you are. That's the piece that helps you to relate to other people. And when you share that people are like, Oh, she did that. And she made waves. Whoa, now I can go do that. Because that's exactly what happens at the end of the book. The end of the book, it comes full circle. There's two little kids over in the shallow end and they said, Hey, I just wanted to let you know that was the best Cannonball ever. And the little girls like, let me my little splash the best Cannonball ever. And they're like, yes, we've always wanted to do that. But we were so scared. We can't touch the bottom over there. And she realizes, you know what, that was me five minutes ago. And she said, but you know how to swim. And they said, like fish in the sea. And she said, Take my hand. I'll go with you. Today's your day to Cannonball in. And so that is what we were born to do. We were born to not only take risk, put ourselves out there. But we were born to bring everybody along with us and remind them you know what, you might have this little insecurity, you might have this challenge. You might have this traumatic event that you've gone through that that makes you be able to relate to somebody so much better that that's going to help you create this business, create whatever, like none other can do because you were born to die. Oh, 

Kim Strobel 39:49 

my gosh, I am so glad you went there. I mean, Okay, first of all, so I definitely want that book, but I'm kind of one of those people like you see, do you see my color coordinated books on my bookshelf So, so like, if I know the author, I have to have the author sign it. 

So like, I need your book, but like, you're going to have to sign it and send it to me. And I'll pay for it that way. Because like, I need that book, I can see that book being so relevant to adults to children, to all of them, but it makes me think of like that man in the arena, quote from, from Roosevelt, right, from Teddy Roosevelt, because it's like, it's like, um, it's like, it's not the critic who counts. It's not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The Critic belongs to the man who is actually in the arena and Bernie brown talks about this, right? who's like, their, their, their faces marred with dust and all of this stuff. It's like, that's what you're 

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talking about. And I love that same concept for sure. And so I think I need to right, so I'm looking here across my computer, because I have my vision board, I have my affirmations. And I think I need to add, add, just jump, right like make a splash, because make your splash. I do that a lot. But there's like, right, I was telling you, I have this book that I want to write for educators that I'm just like, Ooh, I'm not good enough to do that. Like, I just need to jump. I just need to make my splash with that. I love that idea. 

Tara Martin 41:15 

Yes. And you know, it's all about making your splash. So one of the things you, you know, you mentioned good enough. And that's something I struggle with, too. I'm always like, Oh, my gosh, Is this enough? Is this enough? Well, sure, my splash was not going to be the same kind of splash is a 200 pound man. I mean, it's just not going to happen. I was just a little tiny twig. I was like eight years old. And so but you are making ripples. And ripples means something's happening, the waters moving, not things aren't staying the same, something's changing. And when you take a jump, that's what happens inside of you, too. You start to realize, whoa, I can actually do this hard thing. And what's happening on the outside, which is the waters, people around you are seeing it this little kids thought it was the best ever. Why? Because I was there sighs so they're like, ooh, if she can do that, maybe I can do that. So people are watching you. And they're looking at you, like, hey, she can do that. Maybe I can do that. So you're encouraging people that you don't even know are on the outside looking. And that's why I say you got to make your splash, you got to make your jump. And you have to at some point, squash, if you will squish whatever you want to call it, put it down, take it away all the self doubt, which is always creeping up, which was my first fear that I dealt with in the book. And then the second fear I dealt with was the dabblers. Because there's always critics out there that are going to say, you know, this is like, what are you doing over there in your classroom? What are you doing with that business idea? Why are you thinking this is even a possible project? like no, we can't do that that way. But it doesn't have to fit. Everything doesn't have to fit in a box. It doesn't the water didn't need to stay in the pool. Like when he jumped and water escaped the pool. That was all that was like, wow, this guy is crazy. Awesome. This is a mess. Best cannibal ever. And even though mine didn't escape, the pool, change was made ripples were made the surface change. And so do something, just do something like if you have a vision board, you have like you said, you have thoughts. There's probably people out there. They have ideas, they have dreams, they have ambition, stuff that they've been writing down for years, take a step start climbing that ladder, so you can run. And you know what, when I was a little girl in that book, that is that that little redheaded girl with pigtails ends me That is exactly what I look like to I literally just had to not think about it. I had to trust my dad that I really did have a skills to be able to swim, and just run and jump. And I think sometimes our best ideas have been like that you do is run and you can 

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involved in and you're not really sure if you're going to belly bias or what's going to happen. But you're going to learn from the experience. And you're not going to let yourself drown. Because you are going to swim up for air you're going to make sure your your life depended on it. So you're going to do it. So you just swim up. And before you know it, you're like okay, I learned a few things from that next time. I'm going to do this, this and this, and then you Cannonball in again and then before you know you're doing a backflip and changing things up a little bit, but you just have to take that first step it's the hardest part. 

Kim Strobel 44:31 

And I think like the other message is that you know, when I tell people like you know not everybody wants to become a motivational speaker like me not everybody wants to my dreams are different. But like, we don't understand the the teeny tiny things that do affect other people's lives. Like when you're at Walmart and you're going to the checkout, and you tell the lady, Hey, thank you like I know especially somebody like me, right like I dread being here in the back. That you the fact that you checked me out super fast. Thank you for that, you know, 

Tara Martin 45:05 

it's like 

Kim Strobel 45:06 

that tiny little kindness, that tiny little, that tiny little thing that you do to serve someone else has a ripple effect. It really does. And so 

Tara Martin 45:18 

it's been measurable to that's another thing I talked about when I talk about Cannonball in especially with kids, and like your ripple effect is in measurable. It literally no one could measure all those ripples across that water. Yeah, yeah. Yes, measure how many drops escape the pool for those that were able to splash and make water come out of the pool? It's, and it's like that in life when you do. And you act on these things, that you're so ambitious, and it's going to help fulfill your purpose. You can't measure the ripple effect of it. It just keeps rippling. I mean, Mrs. s was so kind to take me in under her wing, but never would she have imagined. No, I think it was like five years ago, last time I had been able to speak to her six, I don't remember, it's been several years ago, but never would have 

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imagined that this little girl would take everything that she said and like, it's like scripted in my head, I remember it so vividly. And then be telling other educators and other students about this marvelous teacher who saw this kid with all these weird little quirks and embrace them and loved them and, and helped foster them into the person I was needing to be, and helped me to learn and love education. never would have imagined I would go on and tell other kids and other educators. And I don't even know how far that's gone. What about other people that have told that same story? Or the kids that I got to serve? And I got to be the Mrs. S for them? Yes. What about them telling all those stories? At least? It's a measurable, it is early and measurable. 

Kim Strobel 47:02 

And I was gonna ask you that because I had a couple of questions, because because, you know, I know my audience has is they're curious birds like me. And I wanted to know, like, have you reached out I figured you hadn't told Mrs. s The impact. 

Tara Martin 47:15 

So yes, I Well, my high school last time I talked to her physically was like after high school graduation, and then again in college, undergrad. But if I could reach out to her I wanted to I my whole premise of my book is written about her. So I tried to reach out to her to give her that book. But it turns out, she's in a nursing facility and she actually doesn't, she's lost a lot of her memory. Okay. doesn't remember even her own family. So of course, she didn't remember me, which was heartbreaking. But it's okay. Yeah, doesn't matter, right? Because the point of the matter is, well, her family has the book. So that's really not Yeah, 

Kim Strobel 47:52 

her family knows, 

Tara Martin 47:54 

it doesn't really matter. That piece. If I could tell her again, I would tell her how much. I mean, I've written this out. And I actually say it in my keynotes all the time. And I literally can never even talk about it without crying. But I would tell her, what a difference she made in my life, like, and I would point it out, just like I do in my keynote, you know, you taught me the love of writing. Little did you know, that not only would I journal every single day, but I would write two books that hopefully helps educators understand the value of building relationships with their students. And and seeing that student that yes, 

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should be a statistic. And yes, I really wish she would be upset every single day, but she's not. But seeing that student as a potential because if she thought otherwise, I didn't know yes. And ever let me know that. And so I would tell her thank you for that. Thank you for teaching me that. It's okay to be weird, because who knew? Now it has a label. It's called sensory processing disorder. Little did I know I had that I didn't know. But fidgets are a part of my everyday fidgets are definitely a part of before I go on stage, or anything that seems frightening to me. And I still have all those things in place. I go to the Chiefs game, I watch the Q games, our noise cancelling ear muffs, their Bose headphones, they look fancy, they look cool. But it's another coping skill that I learned from Mrs. s In the second grade. There were lots of things that she taught me like, she would tell me, you're sensitive hearing. It doesn't work so well with the fire drills. But man, you were able to really hear what they were seeing over there. And when they were whispering, I don't have that kind of superpower. And she would turn all these awful things that I thought were terrible about me. And she would turn them into something beautiful. And so I'm able to see the strengths and talents and quirks and awesomeness, and other people, especially when I was teaching kids and remind them you know what, that's just a really cool question. little tool that you have, that I don't have, like you're going to be able to relate to people. I can't relate to that. And I think that's important. As adults, as parents, as teachers, as educators, as business owners, I don't care who you serve, reminding everyone that you can bring all of you all have your real self, to the working environment, to the whatever environment. And it's going to be accepted here. And it's going to be appreciated here, it's going to be valued here, because that's what Mrs. s did for me. And I never struggled in school again, because I started to learn, you know what, I'm enough, I'm valued. And I'm appreciated just the way I am. And it's okay that I have all these things. Because one day, these things are gonna make me a better person. ever get to that mindset, you don't really take a victim mindset anymore. That's all I had before. But I started to realize, you know what, it doesn't have to be that way. This could be this is maybe just the way I'm this is what this is the hand that life dealt me. So how am I going to play it? And you know, I think like for our audience members, you know, I like to challenge people like, 

Kim Strobel 51:11 

let's not just here terrorists story, let's, let's actually do something. And so I think that we don't take enough time sometimes to really send that little special text message or that email, just to tell someone, hey, this, this is why you're important in my life, or this is what I love about you and admire. And so 

Tara Martin 51:33 

I think like, 

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Kim Strobel 51:34 

that's really important. You know, when with teaching happiness habits, we know that random acts of kindness is one of the top five happiness habits. And so I would like to challenge everybody here, listening to this podcast episode, I want you to think about one person in your life. And I literally want you to grab your cell phone as soon as we're done. And I want you to text or email that person, and just say, 

Tara Martin 51:58 


Kim Strobel 51:58 

I just want you to know, this is what I notice about you. This is what I love about you, this is what I'm grateful for about you. Because when we do that, we also create that ripple effect going forward, we make them feel better. We know that happiness research says that we actually get a dopamine hit from that, that is even higher than the person receiving the random act of kindness. And so I would encourage our listeners to take action here and go one step further. And tell someone Hey, this is how you impacted me. This is how you influence me, it doesn't have to be this crazy thing where people are gonna think you're weird. But if they do, so be it right. 

Tara Martin 52:35 

So be this. Weird is cool. Oh, I 

Kim Strobel 52:38 

love this. And then I have one more curious bird question for you as we wrap this up. You talked about this great moment with your dad in the pool. But this is the same dad that also sometimes you had struggles with, right, Tara? 

Tara Martin 52:51 

Yes. My dad Oh, so my dad was kind of, he did have a lot of issues. But he wasn't one that hurt me. So I was super grateful that he was. Yeah, he was just he was not the source of a 

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lot of the abuse. Okay. But he did have a lot of issues as far as addictions and things like that, that definitely hindered him from being the best dad that he could be. But yes, the same dad. And I think it's important to to realize that, looking back, even on both of my parents, and my biological parents like, and how all of this came about, there were a lot of things about them that I think they could have been something different, you know, could have been different for them, had someone noticed their strengths and noticed their quirks and, and highlighted those for them. And I almost feel guilty that I had that, you know, but yeah, it was the same guy, for sure. 

Kim Strobel 53:49 

Because what you're saying is this, these parents didn't really do right by me a lot of the time. But I also don't know, their story, their trauma, and what influenced them. So while we know it's not right, there's nothing you know, right about it. We can also understand 

that there were other layers that we don't understand, that came from them. So are your Are your parents a part of your life now? 

Tara Martin 54:15 

No, I'm not a part of any of I have zero family. So I have. I do have my husband's family. So I'm super grateful for them. And I think I'm a believer. So I definitely believe that God has placed other people in my life to fulfill those roles. And he always did, you know, it might have been a teacher or coach or something like that throughout the way. But he's always had people in my life that helped fulfill those roles and helped me to feel like I belong to a family. 

Kim Strobel 54:48 

I love that and I love that when you are talking about this story of hardship, that you're talking about it in a way way, to me that your I can see that you're not full of poison about it, Tara. I love that that is like, so important, right? Like, you're not allowing that story to steal your joy. You're just not. And you're rising above it. 

Tara Martin 55:20 

Yeah, I think it took a little while. I mean as a little girl My nickname so my my dad actually, anytime I talk about my dad and talking about the same day we've been talking about, he gave me the nickname sunshine because I always was smiling and happy even though things were terrible, like all the time, and he would just that's what he called me 

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almost more than he called me my name, he called me sunshine. Unless he called me other names. I said, Jay, um, but I think I think it just learned even as a little girl, but certainly later in life that you can see the beauty and ashes, you really can. It's very, it's very hard to see. And there was a point in my life at 13 years old, where I actually wanted to take my life, I had a volleyball coach who talked me out of it. Now I'm so grateful for her. But most of the time, I could see an end I could see coming out and, and then later, when I got to be an adult, I realized that I couldn't just be angry because they have a story, right. And this is all a part of my story. It too shaped me to who I am. And while I didn't understand their story, in their mind, I was a mistake. I was born at 16. My mom was 16 years old. And my dad and they had to drop out of high school. And it was a disaster, right. And so in their mind, this was just a little mistake. And so but in my mind, I thought, you know, I thought I should deserve like what everybody else had. But I had to shift my thinking and just think I don't understand their story. I don't get it. I don't understand how it works. But I do get to reshape and form my own world, my own life, I can't change them. And I can't rationalize with the irrational, I realized that real quick as a little girl and as a teenager. And definitely as an adult. You just can't rationalize with the irrational. But you can decide, I'm going to do things differently. I told you at the onset, I'm a mom, it's my most favorite role in this world. Because I always wanted to know what a loving mom would be like, and I get to be one. And that's where you just get to change your story. You get to rewrite your script, you don't have to. Yeah, everything is handed to you when you're a little kid. But then there comes a time where you get to write your own story to do and I 

Kim Strobel 57:53 

love that right? We all get that choice if we're going to continue the pattern of those ways that we were raised if you were raised in or you get to pick a different way and I was an empowered person you are in so Okay, so here's what we know. We know we all need the book be real. We all know we want the book Cannonball in I mean, I can just apply that to so many things I teach. But like if people that are listening are like, Hey, we need to get her to come do a keynote at our organization or our school or I want to be in terrorist circle. Where can they find you? Tara? You think 

Tara Martin 58:36 

they can find me on Twitter? That's probably my most use social media at Tara Martin. edu. You can also find him on Instagram. I will I will preface this I am a crossfitter. So you're gonna find a lot of fitness. Motivation there too. It's something that keeps my mind and heart healthy. And I love it so much. So Tara m Martin dot real on Instagram, on Facebook, Tara m Martin. And then I have a podcast too. It's called the real journey show. 

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And it's something I'm passionate about just learning about people's journeys. How did Where did you start and where are you now? And where are you headed? Like, tell me all about it. Share your journey with me. And yeah, and I also have a YouTube channel. Okay, real talk with Tara. So, okay, 

Kim Strobel 59:24 

we're gonna drop those links in there. Your ID will be all your social links because I do feel like your story is going to resonate with a lot of people and they're going to want to continue to get that encouragement from you. And if you're listening to this episode, I would love to hear your takeaways, your thoughts, like literally I want to say like tag me and Tara I'm Kim Strobel joy on Instagram. She's Tara Martin. 

Tara Martin 59:48 

Tara Martin. Martin. 

Kim Strobel 59:51 

Yeah, yeah, real tag us if like what you've heard today has inspired you somehow. We want you to tag us in the social media at Tell you tell us what was your takeaway? I mean, that just inspires me to bring more of that kind of content to all of you. So, Tara, first of all, I just want to thank you for meeting me. Right, right, exactly where I knew you would just true. Truly willing to go there, even though it was hard. I think at times during this conversation, I know for a fact that someone needed to hear that they just did. And, gosh, I mean, I don't know, I really think Dave needs to be concerned. Because if I need to hire a second happiness coach, I'm coming after Tara M. Martin. 

Tara Martin 1:00:37 

Well, thank you so much, I, I've learned so much from you today to Kim and I just I just appreciate being able to share my story, honestly. And I would encourage you out there listening that, you know, oftentimes, it's the most vulnerable parts of our story that are actually the pieces that resonate with others, and that really empower them. So when you feel your eyes watering and your heart fluttering, and you're like, maybe I shouldn't share that piece. If you feel the little nudge, just go ahead and share it because it could be that that's the piece that kind of helps others to say, okay, 

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Kim Strobel 1:01:11 

it is I mean, I have a lady in my facebook group right now and she, she I can tell she is meeting someone to throw her a bone because she keeps referencing her traumatic childhood but she really shouldn't want to talk too much about it. And she is a little bit stuck in like not being able to come out of it. Um, seriously, when this episode goes live, I'm going to ping her like she needs to hear this story. So thank you so much, Tara. Thank you 

Tara Martin 1:01:35 

for having me. It's such an honor. 

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