Lizette Rodriguez is no stranger to struggle. She experienced poverty as a child, is the first person in her family to go to college, and has had to balance different career paths while working in the Air Force Reserve. Whether she’s in the gym or hard at work, one thing is certain: she will never be satisfied with mere potential.
- United States Air Force Reservist
- Massage Therapist
- College student working to earn a degree in Kinesiology
- Wife for 17 years and counting (dated for 7 years & married for 10 years)
- Former Real Estate Agent
- Runner who’s participated in the Nike Women’s Marathon twice, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon, Pat Tillman’s Run, and The Bataan Memorial Death March
- World Traveler who’s visited: Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Germany, Czech Republic, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Italy, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and China
- Yoga enthusiast
- Fitness Coach for Beach Body since 2009
What are you currently doing or working towards that you would like to tell us about?
I am currently serving in the USAFR (United States Air Force Reserve) and I also have my own private practice as a massage therapist. In the USAFR, I am in a Combat Communication Squadron that works more as an active unit versus your normal reserve unit (which would be one weekend a month, two weeks out of the year). During the past six years, I’ve spent more time away than at home, so I plan to make my massage practice more of a priority in the next year.
Who or what has inspired you to do all that you do?
I was eight years old when my father gave me the best advice. He said, “Do you know who is the best boss?” I said a good one. He said, “No, you are. You are the best boss you can have.” From then on I was determined to become my own boss. I also had another dream and that was to serve my country because it gave my family the opportunity to progress.
I first became my own boss at the age of 20. I worked as a self-employed Loan Consultant. Fast forward to today and I am a massage therapist, which gives me the freedom to have my own practice.
What drives you to go beyond the norm and put so much time and effort into doing so many different things?
I am the second child out of seven and I come from a family that used to be very poor. We were so poor that at one point we lived under a blue tarp and slept on top of cardboard boxes. This wasn’t the kind of life I wanted for my siblings, so I was determined to work as hard as I could to get us out of that hole. My family is the most important ray of light in my life. They are my rock and my weakness at the same time.
Working your way up is hard. But seeing all of your efforts and plans come to fruition fuels you to accomplish more. It gives me life and light. It is pure desire–that need to be a better person and make this a better world.
What challenges have you faced in pursuing these different interests and goals, and how do you balance it all?
The hardest challenges have to be how to balance everyone you love and your work. Your support system has to be solid. My husband helps me hold it all together. We have been in each other’s lives since we were teenagers. He is wise beyond his years and has always helped me stay on track.
When 9/11 hit he was in Germany, but he was deployed to an undisclosed area. After he got out of the military in 2003, he went back overseas as a contractor. He wasn’t there for me physically, but he gave me advice from thousands of miles away and we have supported each other through everything.
I’ve always kept my eyes on the road. When life is challenging, I never think about how much longer I have to go. Instead I think about how far I have come, which reminds me that I can’t stop now. We feed our souls with positivity. My positivity comes from everywhere: from my family, my friends, my husband, and even everyday people that I come across.
What specific steps did you have to take to get to where you are today?
I learned at an early age that I had to make sacrifices. In high school it was skipping house parties and focusing on academics and sports so that I could get scholarships to go to college. I also worked 25-30 hours a week at a fast food restaurant. It was the only way. I did not get big scholarships (they were all $200-$500), but they added up and easily paid for my first year of college.
I was the first member in my family (both immediate and extended) to go to college and I wanted to make everyone proud. But during my second year of college, I had to cut back on my classes to help my family.
My mother’s health was deteriorating. She had been hospitalized off and on since I was ten. She had multiple ulcers and then a ruptured ulcer in her esophagus. She had to have many surgeries and we pretty much spent all of our money on her healthcare without finding any cure. She went down to 98 lbs. and had to be hospitalized for six months. So I decide to stop going to school for a while to make more money and help out.
I got my real estate license during the market boom. The real estate business was good to me and I did very well. When the housing market crashed, I did not get hurt like so many others due to the fact that I did not live large. I purchased an affordable home, saved money for school, and for my family.
When the market was in a downward spiral in 2009, I decided to join the military. I still had this huge desire to serve. I contacted a recruiter and two months later I was on my way to basic training at the age of 26. To my surprise, I learned that many women don’t join right after high school like men do. We take our time. So I wasn’t the oldest by far. That was a relief. I have deployed once to the Middle East and have been away from my family for months on end. It has been tough but well worth it.
Last year I achieved another goal: becoming a massage therapist. I have always lived a holistic lifestyle due to my grandmother and my mother’s indigenous up bringing, so becoming a massage therapist was a natural calling. I took more interest in the holistic Eastern approach but studied both Western and Eastern modalities at the National Holistic Institute in San Francisco. This is my new journey and I am beyond excited to be in the beginning stages of it.
Did you ever imagine doing things like this as a teenager?
I always knew that if you want something you go out and make it happen. If one door closes, go knock on five more. Start tapping on windows if you have to. It is tough, real tough to go after what you envision for your life. It takes time and hard work. But I knew this when my dad had that serious talk with me at the age of eight. I did not expect it to be easy but I knew it would be worth it.
Is there anything you would tell your teen self if you could go back in time?
Yes, the same thing I told myself then: Good things are coming to you. Just wait and see.
Are there any other jobs, roles, or goals that you want to pursue in the future?
I am currently back in college, pursuing a degree in kinesiology. I also have plans to become a doula and yoga instructor in the future. Once all of that is in place, I will build a non-profit organization that will work with the Wounded Warrior Project (which I’ve volunteered with multiple times). I want to provide massage therapy healing for our wounded warriors.