There are so many wildly inappropriate and jaw-dropping stories I’m sure I could share with you, but I’ll save those for my memoir.
In the mean time, I’d like to share a bit of the story on how I came to leave my corporate job, become a life coach, and live happily ever after as a solo entrepreneur.
Here we go…
I was born in a hospital in a small Western Pennsylvania town. The hospital burned down shortly thereafter. I am told it had nothing whatsoever to do with my birth. I am still struggling to believe it.
Regardless, I had a good childhood. I was a precocious child, happy, confident, bossy, talented, good-looking. Modest, too.
Then a bunch of stuff happened that you’ll have to read about in said memoir, but the upshot is that by the age of seventeen, I found myself without a mom. She died from breast cancer. It was very sad. I was not a happy camper.
In college, I struggled with trying to figure out my studies and a potential career path. Honestly, I didn’t care about anything too terribly much and was wracked with constant self-doubt. I didn’t belong here, in this world, without her. I didn’t know how to “be” here. So I did what “people” (my dad and older sister) told me and I majored in Business Management with an almost-minor in English. I had never been interested in business. I wanted to be a writer, a teacher… I wanted to help people. I told myself that “management” was helping people… right?
I worked part-time as a Marketing Assistant at a Robotics company during college. I met amazing people there, one of whom is still a dear friend and wonderful mentor for me. (Hi, Lee!) While the work didn’t excite me, the connection and feeling of belonging was wonderful. They weren’t able to hire me out of college, so my first job after I graduated was at a systems consulting firm as a Sales and Marketing Specialist. I prepared proposals. Managed sales pipelines. Got very depressed and had to go on anti-depressants. I remember leaving after my first week in this shiny anonymous corporate box near the mall, wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into. I was so over-medicated that I had to nap in my car during my lunch hour. Awesome, right?
Eventually I got laid off and ended up joining a technology company as a Partner Specialist. Contrary to my business title, I never felt very special in my corporate jobs. I found it hard to make friends and never felt like I fit in. While I was clearly talented and smart, I could never really imagine myself climbing the corporate ladder. Where was I going to go? And why the hell would I want to be there? But it was all I knew. I wanted to make my dad proud. So I worked hard. Got promoted. Pioneered new roles. Played the game. Ate a lot in order to fill the creeping sense of empty inside me.
Sure. I met a man I loved. (Hi, Brendan!) We got married. Bought a house. But there was one day that I was so overwhelmed by stress that I decided to work from home rather than face the office. And then I started crying and could not stop. Literally. I couldn’t stop the tears. I contacted my husband.
“I don’t mean to alarm you, but I can’t seem to stop crying…”
He immediately rushed home. After a call to the Employee Assistance Program, I went back on the anti-depressants and started seeing a therapist again. The truth was that I was too terrified to quit – certain I would end up homeless on the street – yet equally terrified I’d get fired, even though my performance reviews were usually very positive, except for my seeming lack of self-confidence. Surprise. Surprise.
I was paralyzed with fear.
Eventually things got so bad that I cried out to the Universe – to my mother – to please come help get me out of this situation. I’m not being melodramatic. I literally cried out for help! I didn’t care what happened as long as this persistent sense of Hopelessness would just go away. I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted it to just stop.
And then the magic began…
Seemingly out of the blue, I was put on a performance plan (the double secret probation of the corporate world) at work. It was ridiculous, unfounded and yet it was also exactly what I needed to happen. After a quick chat with HR, I quit my job. Just like that. And the earth didn’t open up and swallow me whole.
In fact, once I quit, all sorts of strange synchronicities began happening in my life. I was regaling a girlfriend (Hi, Ellen!) over my good-bye lunch about all these strange magical things that kept happening to me , when she asked me what would prove to be one of the most profoundly life-altering questions of my life:
“Have you ever heard of Martha Beck?”
She went on to tell me that Martha was an author and monthly contributor to “O Magazine”. She told me about one of her favorite books, “Expecting Adam”, and how Martha shares the story of all the crazy magical things that happened to her when she was pregnant with her son, Adam, who has Down Syndrome.
I read it. Loved it. Saw Martha was a life coach. Read one of her life coaching books, “Steering By Starlight”. When I closed the book, I turned to my husband in bed and said, “I know what I want to be. A life coach.”
Now, my husband didn’t even give my declaration a moment of serious thought, and rightfully so. I had been telling him every ten days or so that I wanted to be a sociologist. No, an anthropologist. No, an archeologist. No, a social anthro-archeologist. Maybe I should just get my MBA. No! I know! I’ll go back to school for psychology. Or interior design. The list went on and on and on… I even hired a career coach – where of course one of the careers in consideration was “life coach” – and still I felt no closer because of all this paralyzing fear. What if I make the wrong decision?
Oh how far I’ve come …
I, of course, ignored the calling and promptly started another corporate job. At first it was all roses and unicorns and rainbows… I fit in! I felt smart and appreciated! I felt that the world was full of possibility! Until the bloom wore off that rose… Then I realized it was the same old, same old: Another company more concerned with making a buck than making a change in the world, which I had, by now, recognized was something I wanted to help do, even in my own small way.
Feeling defeated after finding myself in this place again, I recalled that moment of certainty and connection with Martha’s writing and went out to her website to read her blog. And there it was: verifiable proof that I was not a weirdo and that I had been onto something that fateful night when I told my husband I wanted to be a life coach. It was an article written by Martha titled “There is no ‘I’ in TEAM, but There’s ME“. In it she shared qualities of people on the “TEAM” – those people called to heal the world – and each and every one of those qualities described me. ME!! I immediately sent the article to my husband and told him here was proof that I was meant to be a life coach. He read it, was dumbfounded, and agreed.
And so I signed up for Martha Beck’s Life Coach Training program.
The rest, as they say, is “too long to tell you about here so we’ll have to save it for another day”.
Suffice it to say, I am not only a life coach, but a Master Life Coach. Fancy, eh? I can destroy limiting beliefs in a single blow! I can ferret out dormant dreams like a… ferret! I can teach you how to pay attention to your body’s signals and learn how to trust your intuition! (Ever heard of a “gut instinct”? It’s real.) I can use my strategic powers of business and marketing skills for good, not evil! I can nap in the middle of the day!
All joking aside, my story is an illustration of what can happen when you learn to tune into your body’s signals in order to know when you are heading towards your “right life” or away from it (remember all that crying?), pay attention and learn to live from your strengths (all the research I did on careers is actually a gift I can share with my clients), detach from the prison of your limiting beliefs (I can’t quit! I’ll end up homeless on the street!), and trust your instincts and intuition. Magic. I created magic. And I can help you create magic for your life and business, too! I’m a professional, after all.