A Dancer’s Journey

Valerie Estrella was raised in Stockton, California but her parents called her by her middle name which is Georgianna. They called her Georgi for short. She was born in 1967 in the Summer of Love or actually Fall of Love. Her first-generation Mexican American Father was a musician and her Mother was a nurse. The Apple didn’t fall far from the tree because Valerie definitely has a passion for music and as a health coach for healing. 


John, Valerie’s father in 1968. He was a music teacher for Stockton Unified for over 30 years and a local musician. Valerie credits her father for having music in the house. Everything from classical, jazz, disco, funk and Mariachi. Thanks for loving music.

Valerie was the youngest of four children. She has three older brothers. When Valerie was born, the Dr. lifted her by her legs to show Leonora her baby girl. That’s when Leonora exclaimed, “Look at those legs, she’s going to be a dancer.”

Valerie’s mom Leonora was the first in her family to graduate from College. She went to school while working full time. She was a nurse over 40 plus years. Leonora supported all of her children in their pursuit of music and art. She’s a talented artist too.

When Valerie celebrated her 8th birthday, her mother gave her a black leotard with pink tights and Georgi just died. Her gut instinct was “NO I DON’T WANT TO DO IT.” Leonora was gentle and said let’s just try it and see how you like it. She didn’t have a choice so she went. Turns out she had a blast and fell in love with dancing. She studied with Judy Ratto at Judy’s Dance Studio in Stockton, CA. She progressed to point shoes within a year as she had very strong ankles and feet. After a little while she started to take tap and jazz. She enjoyed it and danced consistently for 5 years.

Valerie at 9 years old on Point.

When she was 13 she decided she was too cool to dance. So she did what parents dread and she quit. Although she took a break from dancing in a dance studio, in high school she was a Song Leader at Del Mar High School in San Jose. Valerie transferred schools her Junior year and decided to go by her first name which was Valerie because Georgi was too much of a nickname. When you transfer schools your Junior year of high school you kind of want to blend in. She got tired of having to explain why she had a boys name. Valerie, as she was now known, was able to choreograph some of their dances at Del Mar High School in San Jose and had fun. She was able to dance at the 49ers HalfTime show with about 500 other teenagers who went to the United Spirit Association Camp. It was a routine to Footloose by Kenny Loggins in 1984. Joe Montana was the best!!

In college Valerie studied ballet at San Joaquin Delta College with Dorothy Percival. Dorothy was really good with technique as she carried a little stick and wasn’t afraid to use it. Just that little extra bit to get you set up correctly. This is where Valerie became really flexible. She graduated with her Associate of Arts Degree in General Education in 1988. She finally decided she needed to pick a career. She really wanted to be independent so she ended up majoring in Criminal Justice at California State University Sacramento. She graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice.

After she had been working for about 10 years for the State of California she really was experiencing pain through her back, severe insomnia, depression, and anxiety. She had just gone through a stressful divorce and had relocated from Southern Central California to Northern California. Valerie knew that yoga would be her cure for back pain.

She started taking yoga at her local gym and one day she heard an ad on the radio about becoming a Yoga Instructor. Her eldest brother, Christopher had recently passed away. He was very much into Eastern philosophy and studied meditation and energy. She decided to become a yoga teacher in honor of her brother. In 2008 she completed her Ashtanga yoga 200 hour Yoga Alliance Certification with Michelle Paisley Reed. Michelle went on to become a best selling author. This is where Valerie first heard the concept of being able to manifest. Valerie was really happy that she had learned so many different ways to stretch. And in 2009 she started teaching at Millennium Sports Club in the North SF Bay of California.

John Christopher, Valerie’s eldest brother was instrumental in Valerie becoming a Yoga Instructor. Chris, as he was known, as a drummer and had very strong arms. You might not be able to tell but he had a super strong grip strength and was into advanced meditations when it wasn’t cool in the ’70s. Chris is so loved and will be forever honored as a true Earth Angel.

Valerie became absorbed in the gym culture which involved maintaining certifications, getting new training and continuing to get stronger and develop herself. The Millennium provided her with opportunities to get excellent training in Les Mills Body Flow, Les Mills CX Worx, Zumba and U-Jam Fitness.

Valerie in 2012 with Solano County Zumba Instructors. Look for the Legs and you’ll find Val

Zumba is where Valerie really got the confidence to dance in front of people. She also participated in many Zumbathons for Party in Pink, ToyAthons and many other fund raisers. Valerie was having so much fun because she was dancing and helping the community.

Look at the lovelies from Solano County Viva Zumba

In 2012 Valerie was still experiencing quite a bit of stress from work and was exhausted, moody and just feeling overall no good. So she went to a work shop called Growing Wild in Santa Cruz with Joy Smith who was also a Zumba Trainer and a health Coach. Joy encouraged participants to become a health Coach. It was dancing and juicing and clean eating for 3 days and after doing that Valerie began to feel better and decided that she needed to learn as much as she could about healthy eating. So she decided to become a health Coach in 2013 through Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

Organic Greens are great just wash them really good.

In 2015 Valerie began to study voice with Alina Adams. It was divine intervention that Valerie began to study voice. It is because Valerie had paid for her daughter to have voice lessons who did not want to do it anymore. So Valerie started to take lessons and she really started to enjoy it. Alina really worked with Valerie. Zumba gave her the courage to get in front of the crowd. She decided to Sing Like Nobody is Watching You can watch her sing here.

Valerie performs Shatter Me at a local recital

After a few years the Millennium, it was bought out by In Shape SportsClub. Well, it was beneficial because the Millennium was suffering from the 2008 recession and was getting ready to shut their doors, it started to feel like it was work. Logging into websites for training, too many small changes pushed her over the edge and she decided she didn’t want to deal with all of these changes. She was working a stressful job and she was at the end of her career. She had to work until October 2017 and it was just getting to be too much. So she decided to resign from teaching.

After she resigned from teaching she created EnlightenYourLives.Com as she knew that she had so much information to share with the world and felt that a Blog would be the best way to share it with the world. She could influence more people on a global basis than taking a few clients here or there. She also wanted to focus on her own dancing and began to study with Angeline Lucia of Dio Amore Dance and Fitness. Angeline has a large background in dance. Not only is she a fantastic dancer but she’s an excellent instructor. Valerie studied, Ballet, Tap, Salsa, Hustle and too many to list. (All you have to do is go to one of her dance socials and you are doing Waltz, Fox Trot, Tango, Salsa, Bachata and so on and so on and so on. Angeline was instrumental in getting Valerie prepared for a performance at her retirement party in October 2017.

Valerie definitely decided that she was going to continue to dance and that’s what she has done. She stopped taking dance lessons because it was time for her to dance to her own beat. To take everything she has learned through dance, yoga and fitness and begin to integrate it into what works for her. She really started to have fun with improvisational dance. You can catch up with her on her Youtube channel.

She’s having fun dancing to whatever her heart desires. Ballet, tap belly dancing. She’s exploring and enjoying her freedom and Belly Dancing is in the air for 2019. In March 2019, Valerie will perform at a restaurant in the SF Bay Area. Here’s wishing her much success in 2019 and beyond.

Mother and daughter in 2017 at Valerie’s Birthday Party. Special thanks to the mom who inspired dance in her child even when the child didn’t want it. XOXO

Sing Like Nobody is Watching

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Recently I did a performance and many people were telling me that they admired my courage to sing in front of people.  I told them that I just decided that I was going to be brave and not worry about what other people think.

I read a really good book which I highly recommend for anyone that wants to pursue their dreams or goals.  The main thing I got from this book was that you have to do what makes you happy and forget about what everyone else thinks or says.  Also if someone criticizes you, then tell them to come and do a better job.  So that attitude really resonated with me.  The name of that book is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  

big magic

Just to be clear that I am a student.  I am not a professional.  My preparation to sing this song began about 11 months prior when I first started listening to this song by Lindsey Stirling called Shatter Me and I just really fell in  love with that song.  I listened to that song over and over on a road trip.

I wasn’t sure I would be able to sing that song because it seemed like a difficult song to me.  I spoke to my voice teacher and she said, “Let’s do it in G Minor.”  So I got the music and we started working on it in December 2017.  It was very brutal at first.  Just painful to listen to.  But I just kept working on it.

After a while I asked my music teacher if maybe someone could accompany me on the violin.  So she was able to find an advanced student to accompany me.  (Please note that she did not want to be videotaped.  We had to actually edit her out because she did not want to have her images on the web.  But Rebekah is beautiful and an amazing violinist.)  The first time we rehearsed together was brutal.  Imagine trying to sing with someone banging drums right in your ear.  I couldn’t believe how thrown off I was.  My music teacher said it’s completely normal.  When the violin accompanies me, I was listening to her play and my timing was off and it was way more difficult than I thought.  It’s like I am distracting her by singing and she was distracting me by playing the violin.  The thing is we had to be in sync with our timing.

wood music classic sound

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In any event this is the results of the preparation.  I watched numerous George Michael Videos.  I became a bit obsessed with him (which is a completely different story.) In any case this is the result.  Thanks for watching and any kind words are appreciated.  Also remember I am a student.  Think of your kid that’s been singing for a couple of years.  T

Valerie is a Health and Wellness Coach. She has a passion for singing, dancing and following her heart. She encourages everyone to do the same.  Please subscribe to her Youtube channel and Follow Enlighten Your Lives to support everyone’s dreams.  Namaste

Merry Christmas Darling

Merry Christmas Darling

Can you believe it’s Christmas again?  Isn’t that what everyone always says.  There are two types of people around Christmas time.  Those that get all into the Christmas spirit with the decorations, presents, holiday parties etc and there are the other folks who bide their time until December 26.  I’ll let you guess what type of category I fit into.

This year is my first Christmas with my puppy, Amber.  So needless to say I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with her house training and getting her on a schedule.  It’s really like having a baby all over again.  I think I could have new parents hire Amber to puppy proof their house.  She will find every piece of plastic, glass, rock or choking hazard.  So needless to say, I am constantly catching her with stuff in her mouth.

So long story short is, I didn’t decorate a whole lot this year.  I wasn’t sure where I was going to put the tree and so I just got a really small tree and didn’t do a whole lot of shopping either (except for Amber).  I made quite a few gifts: bath bombs, granola and actually one of my gifts is the song: Merry Christmas Darling.perfect-beautiful-christmas-decorations-on-decoration-with-make-a-decor-pretty-tree-and-lights-idea-of_how-to-decorate-house-for-christmas_design-your-apartment-interior-decor-ideas

This is my fantasy Christmas decorations.  It’s nice to Dream


I sang this song at Merriment on Main.   I started working on this in October (you have to prepare way in advance).  Christmas songs in October just isn’t my favorite thing.  I mean that’s even way before Thanksgiving.  But I have always loved Karen Carpenter from the Carpenter’s and I really enjoyed rehearsing this song.

When you sing live, you just never know how it’s going to turn out.  Maybe you’ll forget the words or won’t hit the right notes.  But it’s always a thrill.

So here’s my rendition of Merry Christmas Darling.  Wishing you all a Merry Christmas Darling

Valerie is a Yoga Instructor, Health and wellness Coach.  Her hobbies include singing and dancing.  She lives in Northern California with her daughter and puppy. You can contact her at enlightenyourlives.com/contact.