Safiya Maouelainin is a college professor, author, and Therapeutic Writing Coach. She holds a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literature from Johns Hopkins University. She has taught in American colleges and universities since 2006, and was also a visiting professor in Spain. Her academic articles and book chapters focus on the power of the word and the need for the right mindset.
Safiya writes fiction as Soleah K. Sadge. Her short stories have appeared in many publications, while her fantasy novels which mix magic and folklore are in the editing stage. Since 2023, Soleah has been a columnist for diymfa.com, the do-it-yourself alternative to a Master’s degree in writing.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I was born and raised in Morocco. During my childhood, we changed cities a lot because of my father’s work, and I got to discover the different landscapes of Morocco. I went to a French school, so my parents immersed me in two cultures growing up. I like to think it opened my mind to learning and appreciating different languages and countries. I loved to travel, and now, I share all this knowledge in my stories.
When I couldn’t go to a place, I read about it and traveled to it that way. I wrote as much as I read. When I was eight, I dabbled in poetry. At eleven, I wrote fairy tales, long gone now, except for two. At thirteen, I started a romance novel.
Then, when I was nineteen, I moved to PA, USA and left behind my writing dreams. I graduated from three institutions and earned my doctorate. Starting from 2013, I taught languages and literature in a college in New York, then in a university in Philadelphia. Now, I am in Rabat, Morocco where I care for my mother, write short stories and novels, and combine my skills and gifts to work as an Energy Practitioner and a Therapeutic Writing Coach.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
I’d say the turning point happened in 2017, when I sat, took a pen and paper, and through writing, pinpointed the time unhappiness slowly infiltrated my life—after I finished my doctorate. Up until then, I had a plan. I knew my goal and what needed to be done to accomplish it. I think I was happier as a broke graduate student, shoving down fast food in the small studio I shared with my sister. Our bank account never held numbers longer than three digits, but our smiles never faded. We were happy. Why? Because we had hope. We were working to create our futures, and we could shape them in any way we wanted. The best part was that we knew how to do it, and we were successful.
After graduation, I started working in a different city, so I had a two-hour commute almost every day. Stress ate at me, and soon I started gaining weight, losing my hair, grinding my teeth, and yelling for no reason. My frustration increased, my health worsened, and I felt trapped. But I had come to the end of the line—the job I had studied for and its reward, stability. So why wasn’t I happy?
Because while I changed my lifestyle, I didn’t change my mindset. It took me a year to develop what I called the “Next” Mindset. It’s all right to realize and accept we need to change path and careers. I started writing again, I took creative writing courses, I finished stories and novels. Writing made me happy.
I also honored my legacy and turned to energy and spiritual healing. Again, I took classes and revisited the ancient world of my ancestors. It allowed me to deal with my traumas and issues, grow, and become whole.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea that made you start this brand? How did such a unique idea strike you, and what motivated you to “YES, go for it?”
I started energy healing to save myself, to regain my wellness and power, and to reach happiness. I come from a long line of Intuitive Bedouin Healers (a traditional healing practice done in the South of Morocco), and all my life, I used it in small doses when falling sick or feeling stressed. But I never wanted to immerse myself in that world, because it didn’t fit in our “modern” world. Until it became unavoidable.
In 2020, I met my mentor and coach, who helped me regain balance and deal with the traumas from my past abusive relationships. Until that year, I had become a modern hermit: going from work to home. When COVID hit, I just stayed home. For an entire year, I didn’t step foot outside. My mentor offered to teach me his methods and practice, and I immediately accepted. I wanted to be in charge of my healing. It did wonders.
I became certified in Quantum Release Therapy Levels I, II, and III. But it was all to help me. Then, my sisters, nephews, and nieces were experiencing physical and emotional challenges. I couldn’t just witness it and do nothing, while I had a solution that had worked for me. With their permission, I worked with them and the changes were near miraculous.
A friend of my sister’s noticed her behavioral changes and her new mindset and wondered if I could help her. At first, I was afraid. But then, I wondered, “What if I could make a difference in that woman’s life?” And I did. Then I helped another one, and that motivated my “YES, go for it.”
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
Right now, I am an author, an Energy Practitioner, and a Therapeutic Writing Coach. I like to use my gifts and the skills I honed as a college professor to educate and guide women to deal with their traumas, heal their voices, and tell their truths. I think we all have a “survivor story” in us, and expressing it is the first step toward healing. I want to help women reach a fuller and more balanced life. So they find the bandwidth to help others, even if it is just with a smile.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
Doubt and self-judgment are the main challenges I encountered when I started my entrepreneurial journey. It took me time and a community of like-minded people to push me and finally convince me I am a writer and I am a practitioner, and there is no shame in calling myself that. But the imposter syndrome is never too far. At first, many questions popped into my mind: Can I do it? Am I enough? Am I ready to put myself out there?
When these questions pop up—yes, they still do—, I turn to “my people,” a small group of writers and practitioners that are on the same path as I am. Some are a few steps ahead, others behind, but we understand each other. If anyone of us has that feeling of failure or self-consciousness, we all cheer them up and make sure they clear those limiting beliefs from their minds and keep following their calling.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
Of course. The first year of COVID wasn’t as hard for me as the second. I was already used to staying at home; that part was very easy for me. I even had an excuse for it; no one asked me to go out or made me feel bad for preferring to stay hidden at home, with very little social life.
But with so many people having to turn to online meetings and virtual work, I started meeting more and more people until I found my mentor—or he found me. It was easier for me to put myself out there online than in real life.
I wrote and published my first short stories, and I finished two novels. Without the pandemic, I don’t think I would have had the time to do it all.
The second year of COVID was way harder. I endured the loss of a very important person in my life, but thankfully, I was surrounded by physically present and virtual friends. The experience opened my eyes to the fragility of life and how taking advantage of the present moment is so important.
With the help of my mentor and my community of writers, I had many examples to follow that opened the path to author- and entrepreneurship for me. Healing my traumas transformed me into the person I was supposed to be. My motto became “Everybody has a purpose in life. Never give up until you find yours.” I didn’t give up. It took a pandemic, but I figured out my purpose.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
Thank you! I appreciate you saying this. My first achievements in life are, of course, my degrees. I worked hard for them in a different country. When I came to the USA, I barely spoke English. Fast-forward twelve years, I earned my doctorate. As a college professor, I helped many students from different backgrounds and opened their eyes to diversity, other religions, and cultures.
I was lucky to always meet respectful, open-minded young people. A lot of them were eager to learn. Some even took me as their role model. I was honored. I learned from my students as much as they learned from me, and that was a blessing.
I also published articles, book chapters, and short stories. One, titled “Hearts and Stitches,” based on my own painful experience as a domestic violence survivor, won the Grand Prize in a literary magazine’s contest.
Then, I cannot tell you my excitement when I started my energy practice Wisdom Source Healing, and my first client felt immediately better after a one-on-one session. I was so proud of myself. The feeling doesn’t dim and each time I get that reaction from clients, it makes me want to help even more.
I am also proud of my accomplishments on the personal level. When I found myself in an abusive relationship, it took me a while to escape. I could do it because I knew my worth. I thank my parents, my aunts, and my sisters, who gave me enough confidence in myself to know that I am free and that I deserve more than I had at the time. So, I left that unhappy relationship. Now, ten years later, I am so grateful to my younger self for taking that decisive step. Despite it all, I believe there was no mistake. All that hardship allowed me to recognize what I have now that I found the one. Happiness.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I would like to change the dynamics between giving and receiving. I see many people that have no problem receiving and taking, but do little giving. Others give too much, are people pleasers, and end up not pleased at all. It’s very difficult for them to receive anything and feel worthy of it or accept it. I think a right balance between the two in each one of us would make the world a better place.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
Other than the new motto I mentioned earlier, which is more like my professional motto. My personal motto is a Moroccan saying I lived by all my life: “never say I regret, always say I learned.”
I always felt at peace after every experience, good or bad. Of course, I laughed or cried, but I never had remorse or regret. I believe every day, through my interactions with other people or travels to different places or listening to podcasts or reading, I become wiser. We don’t know it all, and there is joy in discovering the gems the universe offers us through different experiences.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
I believe we are seeing an exponential growth in women’s leadership today. The path to real equality in the business world and workspace is still long, but at least, it is open. For centuries, their male counterparts created the myth of weakness and hypersensitivity of women, forcing them out of the way to maintain power. But no matter how many barriers keep coming in their way, women prove again and again they can jump over them, avoid them, or go right through them.
The one point that I hope can get solved quickly is equal pay for the same job. I like to think that meritocracy is growing and hopefully, we will see the day where we won’t have to celebrate every “woman leader” because it will become a norm.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Do not give up. Or if you do, it’s because you decided to change course, because you realized you are called to do something better. But not because others judged you or criticized you. There will always be someone trying to bring you down. Try to accept that these people are just not “your people.” Your job is to find the latter or put yourself out there so they can find you.
You never know who needs you to speak to them, to hear your message, follow your voice, and cheer your uniqueness.
Don’t compare yourself to others, which is so hard to do at first. Focus on your own path. Find a team to motivate and help you when it gets hard. And take it step by step until you make it.
As Isabelle Laflèche said, “Your passion is waiting for your courage to catch up.”