My Story: Michelle Kulp
– From Legal Secretary & Paralegal to Writer, Coach, 6-Figure Entrepreneur
Billy Ray Cyrus (Miley’s Dad) and Michelle Kulp, October 23, 1992 (my birthday)
My Pivotal Moment – On October 23, 1992, I met a man by the name of Billy Ray Cyrus (Country Music Singer and Actor), who literally changed the entire direction of my life. Some might say it was merely a coincidence, but I strongly believe it was my spiritual destiny. You see, in 1992, I was at a very dark and desperate place in my life. My marriage had recently ended, I was raising 3 children (then ages 1, 3 and 5) on my own with no financial or emotional support from my ex-husband; I was let go from the law firm I was working at; I was living cut-off notice to cut-off notice and paycheck to paycheck; my older brother and best friend, Michael, was diagnosed with Aids and was dying. At the time I was also experiencing chest pains I thought were from heart problems and later discovered it was from severe stress and anxiety – i.e., Panic attacks.
Music that Spoke to my Soul – Late one summer evening in 1992 a neighbor stopped by and asked me if I had ever heard of Billy Ray Cyrus. Up until that point in my life, I had only listened to “rock-n-roll” so I was not interested or familiar with Country Music. This neighbor gave me a tape of Billy Ray’s music and encouraged me to listen to it, especially the song, “Achy Breaky Heart.” I took my neighbor’s advice and quickly got hooked on this very addictive tune. In fact, on many nights I blasted that song and danced around my townhouse with my three young children who also loved the song. It was a wonderful escape from my very stressed out life!
A couple of weeks later the same neighbor reappeared to tell me that Billy Ray was playing at a concert on October 23, 1992 in Fairfax, Virginia at the Patriot Center and that I should attend. If it had been October 22nd or October 24th, I wouldn’t have even thought twice about attending, but because it was October 23rd — my Birthday – I felt it had a special meaning. In fact, the thought instantly popped into my head, “Billy Ray is playing on my birthday for a reason…I am going to meet Billy Ray and he has something very important to tell me.” Perhaps all the stress was causing me to be delusional, but I honestly believed with every fiber of my being that I was going to meet Billy Ray and that he had something very important to say to me.
No Doubts, but lots of Obstacles – Because I was 100% certain about this meeting with Billy Ray (there was absolutely no doubts lingering in my mind), I purchased 2 tickets to the concert and recruited one of my adventurous friends to attend. The plan was simple: I would dress to stand out from the crowd (Red Spandex Dress and Red pumps) and after the concert we would get one of the road crew guys to get us a backstage pass. After all, it had worked during our teenage years so we figured it would work again.
After 4 attempts to get backstage, we were finally kicked out of the Patriot Center and told we would be arrested if we returned. We immediately went to Plan B…which again was very simple. Wait for Billy Ray to come out of the Patriot Center and follow the Limo to the hotel. After an hour or so Billy Ray finally came out. He was signing autographs and videotaping his fans…he loves his fans! We stayed in our car ready to follow the Limo. Unfortunately, we weren’t the only women with this bright idea. There were hundreds of women ready to follow the Limo for a chance to meet Billy Ray Cyrus. This did not discourage us in the least. I simply drove like a maniac so I didn’t lose sight of the Limo! I cut off other people, ran red lights and sped down the highway blindly following Billy Ray’s Limo!
I would NOT give up! – We followed the Limo to the Hilton Hotel where Billy Ray’s body guard, Steve, was taking Billy Ray up to his hotel room through a side door at the hotel. Luckily for me, all the women who were following the limo jumped out of their cars and started running towards the side door of the hotel. My friend jumped out of the moving car and went to tell Billy Ray to wait for me because it was my birthday. I parked the car in a handicapped space and ran to the elevator where Billy Ray was standing. Billy Ray saw me (I guess the red dress stood out!) and he took my hand and pulled me inside the elevator. He asked me if it was really my birthday. I assured him it was. He autographed a t-shirt I had and the bodyguard snapped a picture of us. I felt there was a special chemistry between us, but before I could do or say anything, bodyguard Steve abruptly pushed everyone out of the elevator and told us, “Billy Ray is going up stairs for the night. Good night!” And in that moment the elevator doors closed not only on me, but on my dreams as well. I looked at my friend and told her that whatever we did, the other women would do as well, so we pretended to leave the premises. About 10 minutes later after all the women had cleared out, we came back in. (I think we’re now at Plan C?!) We got in the elevator and pushed all the buttons; I thought that the hotel would block out the floor that Billy Ray was staying at, but they didn’t – all the lights lit up!
We started at the top floor and went down. We simply got off on each floor and looked for clues of Billy Ray. It didn’t take us very long. We got to the 12th floor in a few minutes and I saw Body Guard, Steve, go into the last room on that floor. I was sooooooo excited! Finally, my dream was going to come true. I started heading down the hallway when Body Guard Steve heard me coming and came out to inform me that if I didn’t leave, he was calling Hotel Security to have me removed. I thought I could charm him into letting me talk to Billy Ray, but the more I talked, the more irritated and aggravated he became with me. I argued with him for a short while until my friend told me she didn’t want to get arrested and we needed to leave. I hesitantly left and headed back towards the elevator.
I couldn’t give up at that point! I was so close. I told my friend the only thing standing between Billy Ray and me was the hallway and that I was going to figure out a way to meet Billy Ray. So I stood at the elevator and started searching my mind for some ingenious ideas. I looked up and noticed a small sign that had the room numbers printed on it, which read something like “Rooms 1200-1223” with an arrow pointing towards the direction I saw the body guard go. I then looked across the hall and I saw a house phone on a table. I picked up the phone and dialed the last number on the sign and Voila! Billy Ray answered the phone (apparently the Body Guard was staying in a separate room across the hall from him). I told Billy Ray it was the “Birthday Girl”, to which he replied, “You mean the girl in the red dress?” Wow! I couldn’t believe it…Billy Ray remembered who I was. He told me that he had something to tell me that I wasn’t going to believe” Curiously, I waited for his explanation. He said that if there hadn’t been all those women down in the elevator/lobby, he wanted to invite me to his hotel room for some Chinese food. I told him, “I’m here now!”
Better Late, than Never – Billy Ray explained that he had hurt his back on stage, and that a masseuse was coming to work on his back, but if I would wait, I could come up to his room when he was done. My friend did not want to wait, so I gave Billy Ray my number at the Holiday Inn where we were staying and told him to call when he was done. A couple of hours went by and no call from Billy Ray. Finally, I changed out of my red dress and into my pajamas, but I left my hair and make-up intact just in case. As I was listening to his tape still on an adrenaline rush, at about 2:00 a.m. the phone finally rang and it was Billy Ray! He asked me what my birthday wish was. I told him, “To meet and talk to you in person.” He said if it wasn’t too late for me, he would love to have me come over to his hotel and visit. As quick as I hung up the phone, I had that red dress back on and was speeding down the highway back to the Hilton Hotel.
3-5 AM – I finally got back to the Hilton Hotel and was heading down the hall toward Billy Ray’s room when the Body Guard heard me and came out to investigate. He was furious to say the least. He told me to get leave the hotel before he called the Police. I swore to him Billy Ray called and invited me to his room. Luckily, Billy’s hotel room door was slightly ajar and Steve went in and asked him if this was true. I guess he confirmed what I told him and he let me in. I spent the next two or so hours talking to Billy Ray (he was a complete gentleman). We spoke about our lives, our families, relationships, etc. He had a very spiritually enlightened side to him aside from his “stage” persona. He spoke about the fact that some people called him an “overnight” success to which he said he spent ten plus years playing in bars to become this overnight success. I told Billy Ray my rather desperate life story, when Billy Ray said looked me in the eyes and said something to me that changed my whole life…
Dreams – Billy Ray asked me “What are your Dreams?” to which I quickly replied, “I don’t have any dreams, my life’s about survival.” Billy Ray assured me I had a dream and that I needed to go out and discover what my dream was and never, ever give up on that dream.
One year, one small book and one BIG Dream! I took Billy Ray’s advice and went out in the world searching for this elusive dream. It wasn’t so easy to find my dream. I read books, I talked to people, but I could not figure out what my dream was. Then, one day I was at Borders bookstore when a tiny little book fell into my hands…that book was “How to Find Your Mission in Life” by Richard Bolles who also wrote a very big book called “What Color is Your Parachute”. There was a sentence in that book that helped me discover my Dream. It said, “What do you love to do where you lose all sense of time?” Finally! I knew the answer – I loved to write. When I wrote 5 hours seemed like 5 minutes.
One Road leads to Many Others – In 1993 I headed down that road toward my dream – to become a Writer. I joined Writing Groups, attended Writer’s Conferences, and read every book I could get my hands on about writing. Then I wrote a manuscript called “Woman, take Hold of Your Power!” which I tried for over a year to get published. I received rejection after rejection and was becoming quite discouraged. Finally, a very big New York Publishing House editor called and asked me some questions about myself. He wanted to know if I had a Ph.D. After all, the book was a “self-help” book for women and he wanted to know what my credentials were. I told him I didn’t have those types of credentials, but I had something better – I had life experience. He said that unfortunately the publishing business was very competitive and that unless I had a Ph.D. he could not take a chance on an unknown author. I hung up the phone feeling disappointed and excited at the same time. Disappointed that he wasn’t going to publish my book, but excited that I finally had some validation from an outside source that my writing was good enough to get published.
I never did get that manuscript published, but I did become a freelance writer for the local newspaper for 2 years and gained a lot of experience writing. Since then, I have published my own e-books and articles and I love inspiring others through writing! The dream of becoming a writer, led me to another road I would have never imagined myself on – Public Speaking. I had a Level 10 Fear of Public Speaking my entire life and avoided public speaking like the plague. It took me over 4 years and an incredible program called, “Speaking Circles®” (which I was a licensed facilitator through for several years.) Amazingly, I am now a motivational speaker, workshop leader and Coach. I have been teaching a variety of classes for the past 8 years because I had the thought one day that if I was ever going to become a successful writer, I had better get over my fear of public speaking. Writing and Public Speaking (Teaching) are my passion!
The confidence I gained from overcoming my fears helped me take another huge leap of faith. In 1999, after 20 years in the legal field as a Paralegal and a Legal secretary, I left my very secure job to follow my dreams. Actually, I left my job because I was dying on the inside. That job was paying the bills, but it was also sucking the life-energy out of me every day I stayed in it. That job was not my passion any longer. I weaned myself off that very secure job with no money in the bank and 3 young children to support. And now I’ve written several e-books and teach online courses as a way to share with others who are struggling with the same issues about what I learned on my incredible journey. My best qualities are my resourcefulness, creativity (thinking outside the box) and my risk-taking abilities, which some people refer to as “insanity” or “leaping before I look.”
Living my Dream – I am living the life I dreamed of many years ago. I have the perfect job (I work 20-25 hours a week making a 6-figure income). And I am living my dreams of writing, teaching and coaching because that is what fills me spiritually. I talk to so many people on a weekly basis who are so unhappy with their jobs and who are killing themselves to pay the bills…and I want to help them improve the quality of their life. So they can live their dreams! John O’Donohue, Irish poet and Catholic Scholar, reminds us, “To be born is to be chosen. No one is here by accident. Each one of us was sent here for a special destiny.”