Noelle De Atley: Red Booter Profile

As all Red Booters know, when you meet up with another Red Booter, something magical happens. The energy builds during the conversation. This shows up in a number of ways. Tears, laughter, more coffee, intense conversation or light-hearted humor, but we all know when "its" happened because we walk away from the conversation with more energy and a kind of "real" connection...a kind of "I feel like I've known her/him forever" sense of knowing.

noelle with student

Noelle DeAtley is a Red Booter. You know it when you sit down with her over coffee. She lights up the space with her open heart, easy laughter and courage to speak her mind with a "now it's your turn" willingness to sit back and listen. She, like all of us, is a work in progress and is joyfully at a place in her life where that rough and tumble "I got this" attitude she grew up with... is integrating more intentionally with a gentler and open approach that invites others into the space, the conversation, the being-of-themselves.

Noelle is real like that. You just know it when you are with her.

We thought it fittin' to introduce her to the world...'cuz afterall...Red Booters do that for each other...we lift, accept, encourage, inspire each other to be our wildest, gentlest, rambunctious, tenderest, kindest, evolving selves.

So here goes.

Noelle DeAtley: Red Booter Profile

"My name is Noelle.

I tend to look confused when people tell me I am funny or a great teacher. The kids that light up at the karate school and run up to hug me are wonderful. Those who tell me how awesome I am and what a great job I do keep me humble. This is all new to me. Funny what happens when you become the person you always wanted to be. You have to learn how to accept compliments and be that person.

I grew up feeling like I had to be someone I was not. I was born to a Mexican father and Anglo mother and raised in Texas. My father left when I was a baby, so I never knew him growing up and did not meet him until I was 16. All those years hearing about being a “no-good half-breed” did nothing but confuse and anger me. My teenage years were worse as I had no identity, a very thick accent, and 3 high schools in Texas, Illinois, and California, respectively.

My mother always said, “If you want it done right, you better do it yourself.” She is a wonderfully creative and funny woman. I took what she said with my anger to propel me into being outspoken and doing things my way. My older brother was all I had for company with so many years of moving and change. From the time we were very little, he was teasing me. I was very proud of how I would give him a bloody nose when I got tired of the picking. Of course, when a bully in kindergarten tried to hurt my brother, I gave him a bloody nose as well.

I started "taking charge" of things in middle school when the orchestra I played in was being regarded as stupid. I started playing harder and speaking out more. In high school, I led the orchestra to having the winning homecoming float. Don’t mess with me. I play the cello and I have a camera for yearbook pictures.

I had grown up in and around the theatre, so I learned how to act. Act appropriately, act maturely, act like I care, act a fool. I acted until my insides turned me inside out. Around 1996, someone told me, “You are the most unhappy person I have ever met.” The truth will set you free, once you recover from the train that just ran you over. I set out to find happiness. The hardest part of the journey, at least the way I saw it back then, was knowing I had to find it within myself.

It really was an inside job. To this day, my happiness and serenity come from within me. It was there all along. I just had to work through the pain, sadness, anger and fear to find it. It is mine. It is very cool and keeps me connected to the earth and reaching for the stars while drawing on the infinite power of the universe.

Being a leader requires big lessons in humility. I think great leaders are surrounded by great people. Finding those people requires me to listen and learn. I am very outspoken and opinionated and I can accept that about myself. I temper that with my love to learn new things. I still behave like a bull in a china shop sometimes, but then I am quietly reminded to step back and allow things to unfold. Many people I look to for guidance simply tell me to be quiet and listen. The answers are there, I have to listen for the questions.

Spending time with kids keeps me humble and always working hard at being a better person. The kids are very honest and I know that how I behave makes a difference to them. It is like my relationships with my loved ones. I get to work at being a better person. It is a journey, not a destination."

noelle with cookie monster