“Cherish forever what makes you unique, because you’re really a yawn if it goes.”
– Bette Midler, actress and singer
Welcome to the first installment of It’s My Life’s newsletter, My Life and Times. I thought it apropos for this first edition to explain my personal journey in becoming a life coach as I help many clients on their journeys to the life they were meant to live. As you will see it is a misnomer that I became a life coach or decided to become a life coach. The truth is that I finally stopped being someone else and allowed myself to be who I truly am.
Back in high school as I dreamed of my future, I dreamt of being a psychiatrist. But my LIMITING BELIEFS attacked me. “You have to be in school forever to be a psychiatrist. Four years of college plus who knows how many years of medical school?? You don’t have that much time. You have to do something now. Besides how are you going to get enough money for all that education? Think you are smart enough to complete all that? Ha! Besides you would probably make a horrible psychiatrist.” So after choosing a college for psychology, I never took one course. Instead I majored in theatre arts because it was comfortable and easy and it ate up so much of my time that I didn’t have to think about how unhappy I was.
I was good at theatre. I rose through the ranks and won acclaim and honors like being the first student at Bradley University to direct a main stage production and being one of three accepted into the UCLA master’s program for directing. But all the acclaim felt hollow. Theatre didn’t make my heart sing. It wasn’t like breathing. It didn’t fulfill me. It didn’t rank high on my BODY COMPASS. The professors at UCLA saw that I did not have passion and they kicked me out of the program. To prove I was not a failure I continued to participate in theatre in Los Angeles. But it was not fulfilling.
Being kicked out of UCLA and floundering to make a living in Los Angeles was the first time I remember being in SQUARE ONE. I was lost and searching for meaning. It was the first time in five years that I did not have theatre eating up every evening and weekend. I was alone with myself. I began to examine what I would do with my time. I explored religions. I met some wonderful friends who introduced me to Science of the Mind. I walked the beach and found that being near water did make my BODY COMPASS sing. I found that my heart truly sang when helping others.
I was blessed to know Tod Love in Los Angeles (his name says it all). He saw the core of me and supported me when I needed it. He saw something in me that I couldn’t see. He was also stricken with AIDS. However some of my best memories of Los Angeles were driving over an hour to see him in a nursing home or spending time with him during his last days; in giving him solace and comfort in his final journey. Other friends marveled at how I could give so much in a difficult situation. To me, it was like breathing.
With that lesson in hand, the universe continued to push me on my journey. The universe is not subtle. It threw at me being held up at gun point, being in a car accident, and experiencing an earthquake. Finally I let go of my pride and left Los Angeles. Back to SQUARE ONE I went; living with my parents; trying to retain the prestige of doing theatre; trying to make a living; trying to find my purpose in life.
Next I worked psychologist to begin to break free from my LIMITING BELIEFS and PAINFUL THOUGHTS. This helped me let go of things I thought HAD to be; things I HAD to do. Released from much of my psychological pain, I once again searched for a life purpose. Over the years people told me what a good listener I was, that I gave good advice, and that I helped them feel better. My thoughts again turned to becoming a psychologist. But even without my LIMITING BELIEFS, that career didn’t score well on my BODY COMPASS. I thought about life coaching, a career that was just beginning to take root in society. But every time I looked at a program, it did not seem right; it did not follow what I believed; I didn’t see where I could really make a difference in people’s lives.
In the meantime I spent many years building a profession in marketing. I felt that I HAD to become a marketer. I was getting too old to go back to school. I was making good money. I was good at my job. I was now a responsible adult and had to put aside fun and focus on the “unfun” things adults do – food, shelter, clothing, keeping up with the Jones. Plus marketing, like theatre, kept me so busy that I didn’t have time to realize how unhappy I was. So the universe was nice enough to give me another wake-up call. And this time it was a doozie.
I was stricken with non-diagnosable constant pain. For years I went to a string of specialists to no avail. They poked and prodded, they prescribed, and they even suggested a major surgery that “may” help. So I turned to Eastern medicine, herbalists, acupuncture, and the like. Finally I met up with a nutritionist who was able to increase my clinical levels with supplements. However it was interesting that most of my relief was the result of doing things that nurtured me: eating well and at regular intervals, finding and regularly participating in the exercise that made my heart sing (walking and yoga), getting enough sleep, reducing my stress and anxiety, just being good to myself. My illness was not biological. It was my body telling me that I was far removed from who I was meant to be and what I was meant to be doing. I was off track.
I continued my quest to improve my physical well-being and found instead a mental release that in turn relaxed my body. I spent two wonderful weeks in Peru under the guidance of a shaman. This was an amazing experience that I will write about in another article. But this experience released me from the LIZARD voices that still haunted and controlled me; the LIMITING BELIEFS and PAINFUL THOUGHTS that kept me from my true desires and purpose. After that trip thoughts of coaching once again returned. This time I jumped into SQUARE TWO and began to interview coaches with the intent of hiring one. Perhaps I needed to experience coaching to really understand if that was my destiny. After interviewing many coaches, I hired a Martha Beck Certified Coach. In working with this style of coaching, I finally found what made my heart sing. Plus Susan did a great job of killing off the last of my LIMITING BELIEFS and gave me tools to combat them if they ever arose again.
Now I am happily in SQUARE THREE, the Hero’s Journey, learning the fundamentals of coaching, learning more and more with each client, and overcoming the obstacles of starting a business. And loving every minute of it!
And that is the story of how “overnight” I became a life coach. . . by releasing who I thought I had to be and learning to just be me.
Thank you to all of you who have helped me along my journey and are helping me now in SQUARE THREE.