It's My Life Inc.

Taking Risks

“We must never be afraid to go too far, for success lies just beyond.”

– Marcel Proust, French Novelist

It is only fair that if I tell my clients to take risks that I take them too.  What is interesting however, what may seem like a huge career, relationship, or financial risk, may actually be the right, safe, and appropriate path for us to take.

The First Shift

In April 2008 I knew it was not only a risk to leave the security of the Fortune 100 company I had worked for almost a decade, but it would be an enormous challenge to take a Director of Marketing position at a small privately owned company which had never had a marketing department in its 50 years of existence.  But I felt with my organizational skills and recent Masters of Integrated Marketing Communications that I would be able to create a clear brand, accessible communications, and help the company grow.  What I didn’t know was that there was a reason the company had never had a marketing department.

With the company’s reluctance to accept change, silo-thinking that restricted open participation, a culture of making from-the-hip decisions versus a desire to create successful systems, a lack of managerial empowerment, and difficulty spending the time to create a future vision for the company, my fledgling marketing department was doomed from the start.  But as I started this new position, I was also starting a new phase of my life.

Not only had I known that it was the right time to leave corporate America, but I knew it was finally time to begin my pursuit of a coaching practice.  So along with a new job I started my training as a coach.  Many, many years ago I started college as a psychology major, but never took a class.  At the time I talked myself out of the endeavor because I felt I was not smart enough, didn’t have enough money to complete the degree, couldn’t separate my clients’ emotions from my own, and just thought it would take too darn long.  So I blindly bumped through my life’s winding journey until my health finally told me I was not on the right path.  The stress of living a non-authentic life was attacking my health until I started pursuing what truly makes my heart sing, coaching others to find their authentic lives.

The Second Wave

The transition from being a marketing employee to being my own boss as a personal and business coach would not be easy or smooth.  My plan was to create a marketing baseline for my new day job so that I could turn the new department over to someone else once my coaching business was strong enough to go full-time.  This was not meant to be.  I experienced a lot of pain and anguish at my day job.  I went through the five stages of grief starting with denial that things were as bad as they seemed to anger that management didn’t understand and didn’t want to change.  I then moved into bargaining; if I could just suck it up long enough to get my coaching business stable, but my body said no.  I began to feel ill, to have difficulty getting out of bed for work.  I began to have headaches.  So on to the next stage, depression that I was stuck in this position, which was thankfully short.  Then I came to acceptance.

Acceptance is powerful.  It is terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.  I remember the moment well.  I was shoveling snow outside of my house and stopped.  I burst into tears and laughter and a wave of peace.  Yes.  This was right.  I need to take a stand and yes I will be leaving.  I felt the wonderful release that I could once again be myself.  And I also felt terrified that my husband and I would end up poor and homeless.  But then an amazing thing happened, once I truly accepted my right action, things started falling in place.  First, although it would change our financial security my husband fully and unconditionally supported my leaving.  Then three new blog ideas came to me.  The attendance for my very first workshop jumped from one to five.  Supporters, validaters, and partners appeared all within 48 hours of acceptance.  My acceptance and vision of my future started the universal ball rolling with good things coming my way.

March 2009 began my hero’s saga as Martha Beck would say.  The first thing I noticed was how violently my body started reacting every time I felt stuck in the marketing position.  My body, my soul, and my spirit wanted, no, needed to be somewhere else.  After initially mistreating my body through sugar and caffeine to try to lull my pain, I started taking care of my body again and noted a release in my mind and my attitude.  Through self-coaching and the support of fellow coaches, I released my feelings of being stuck and began to picture the future.  Then things started falling in place.  Potential clients appeared.  Opportunities presented themselves.  I took a PSYCH-K® class and felt the energetic shift and release I needed.  Five days after I started saying in public I was a life coach – not a life coach with a day job but a life coach, the day after the PSYCH-K class, a mere hour after seeing the Proust quote above, and an hour before picking up my It’s My Life, Inc. business cards, I was laid off from my day job.

And I was joyous!!  There was some fear to be sure, but it was quickly replaced by confidence.  This is what I am meant to do.  This is what I will be paid to do.  This is what is meant for my life.  The Universe agreed.  Before noon on my first day of unemployment, I had a potential client seemingly out of no where.

The Result

The first part of this newsletter was written on January 11, 2009, approximately 48 hours after acceptance.  The rest of the above was written the day I was let go last March.  Now to the present.

I would love to write that days after this transition I was a fully employed coach living a comfortable life.  But that is not the truth.  This past year has been filled with trials and tribulations along with wins, coincidences, growth, and opportunities.  It is truly a journey, but I like where the story has taken me.  I love my life.  I love my practice.  And I love the daily challenges and transitions I have been experiencing.  And most importantly I am thrilled to report that I am not poor and homeless.  This past year I have enjoyed helping many other individuals find their ideal lives.  I have helped new entrepreneurs to create the foundations they need for their companies and their lives.  I have been a keynote speaker and have spoken at Fortune 50 companies as well as local events.  With Sandy Walden, I hosted a retreat that not only changed the lives of the attendees but those of the hosts as well.  Supporters and guides appeared at the right time to help me progress.  I have tried things that have failed miserably and I have found things that work.  I have felt low and discouraged, and I have felt amazed at success falling into my lap.

But most of all, I now feel the joy, peace, and happiness of living my authentic life.

How about you?  Have you taken a risk that has made all the difference in your life?  Share your story with us now.

It's My Life Inc.

The True Story of a Meditation Retreat Dropout

A friend told me months ago about Dhamma Pakasa in nearby Rockford.  They offer a free (donations accepted) ten day retreat to learn Vipassana meditation.  I was immediately drawn to the idea and signed up for the course in December.  The week before I couldn’t stop talking about the upcoming journey.  Not only would I be learning meditation, a great tool to teach my clients, but I would receive some much needed downtime.

Arriving Wednesday evening after a sizable snowstorm, I was assigned a room, unpacked, and waited for the course to begin.  We were offered a bland green pea and carrot soup for dinner then after some brief rules of the center we were ushered into the meditation hall.  For the next ten days we were to adhere to noble silence which meant no talking or even gesturing to the other meditators as well as no reading or writing.  The latter would be very difficult for me as there always seems to be a pen in my hand.  The next morning at 4:00am the gong sounded to wake us then sounded again at 4:15am to give us the fifteen minute warning.  From 4:30am to 6:30am we were to meditate in our rooms or in the group meditation hall.  6:30am to 8:00am was breakfast followed by group and solo meditation until lunch at 11:00am.  By 1:00pm we were meditating again alone or in the group room which lasted until tea and fruit for dinner at 5:00pm.  When 6:00pm came around we were once again meditating followed by an hour discourse by S.N. Goenka then a final meditation until 9:00pm.  This was to be the schedule for the next ten days.  Every day eleven hours of meditation with light and sound deprivation, six hours of sleep, light food consumption, noble silence, zero physical contact, and limited physical exercise (walking to and from the different buildings was the only activity allowed).  I was up to the challenge, or so I thought.

Into the second day I had daydreams of going to a local hotel and soaking in the hot tub.  Those first two days were challenging.  The breathing meditation eventually calmed my mind and stopped the constant mind chatter.  It also amazingly provided an emotional release which filled me with joy and lightness.  This joy became by downfall at the retreat.  I was so happy that I wanted to burst out in song – not quite the right feeling for a silent retreat.

At the end of day two we learned a focused awareness meditation.  I had difficulty turning off my joy and had a limited desire to participate in the process.  I wanted to dance and sing not sit in noble silence with no human contact.  Doubts also began to cross my mind about the process.  Were the very simple techniques all that we were to learn?  I agreed with the premise of the program and what they were trying to have people experience, but I felt that I had been there and done that.  I was uncertain what else I would experience through this process.  I was also concerned about my health.  Not sure if it was the food, changing from eating my normal five meals a day to basically two, or my frustration with the slow pace of the program but my stomach was not right.  I chalked it up to the work I was doing and pushed myself to day four where we would learn the actual Vipassana technique.

By the afternoon Vipassana discourse, I had decided to leave if it was not a remarkable, life-changing technique for me.  I was hoping that it would bring me to the next level but was uncertain if it could.  Unfortunately for me, it was not.  For those of you who have worked with me or who know Martha Beck’s work, the first step of Vipassana is conducting a constant Body Compass to continually watch the minute changes of our bodies and therefore experience the truth that everything is fleeting and change is a constant part of life.  For the other thirty students, this lesson and technique appeared to be monumental, for me, not so much.  Don’t get me wrong.  There were lessons learned on the retreat.  I did get that turn off the world and recentering that I so desired.  But the true lesson for me was that I did not have to get away from my life to be centered and peaceful.  My challenge and quest is to integrate this calm into my daily life.  We are here to balance our lives.  To hold down that job and take care of the family, while also taking care of ourselves.  We shouldn’t have to wait for our yearly vacation to find that peace and calm, but our quest is to find that joy in everyday life while we are in the midst of the stressful real world.

I left the program the evening of the fourth day.  On the drive home I felt a lightness of heart and pure joy.  The next day my stomach ailments were relieved.  Once again I was shown how my body tells me what is right for me.  The program was good for others, but not for me and my body told me so.  But it wasn’t an easy decision to leave.  How could I tell my friend that I didn’t follow through on the program which changed her life?  Could I deal with explaining why I left to the fifty people to whom I had talked up the program?  How could I write my blog and justify being a life coach, yet I could not complete a ten day meditation retreat?  Not to mention my self-torture due to a desire for perfectionism, finishing what I started, and adhering to a commitment that I made.

Yet the truth and my personal happiness relied on doing what was right for me, living MY truth no matter what the ramifications.  Sometimes giving up something is actually the only way you can gain what you really need.  Where in your life are you not living your truth?  What would you lose if you chose your truth?  What would you gain?

It's My Life Inc.

Lessons from the MBI Convention

Recently I attended the first ever Martha Beck Coaches Convention.It was an amazingly powerful experience to be surrounded by over 200 women and men all striving for peace and understanding in our world. There was a joyful calm enveloping the event because there was a lack of competition, jealousy, anxiety, fear, and feelings of inadequacy .I am not saying that we didn’t all have our moments (get thee to the self-coaching corner!), but with that many coaches around any incident was truly only a moment as it dissolved as soon as it appeared. Just attending the event taught me the role we all play in each others lives. Although our job is first and foremost to take care of the needs of our essential self, we can easily and effortlessly make incredible impacts on each others lives by just sharing our experiences and what makes us special. Below are just a few of the gifts I received, along with an ability and driven desire to bend flatware.

The Importance of Breath

We can go weeks without food and days without water but we only live minutes without oxygen.Breathing is more than a bodily function; it is the renewing of our spirit.From Sanskrit to Hebrew to Greek to Latin the word for breath does not translate to oxygen intake and carbon dioxide release.Breath translates to universal life energy, soul, and spirit.Concentrating on being mindful of one’s breath is life affirming and life sustaining.Dana Frost and Jill Tupper taught that, “Breath is spirit moving in body.”Breath can take us out of our fight or flight mode (ala “stress”) and into rest and digest relaxation mode.Practicing slower, deeper, quieter, and consistent breathing can return one to a state of calm and stillness in this stressed out world.

We Are Energy

If breath is our spirit, energy is our power and action. Koelle Simpson is a horse whisperer and an energy expert. Koelle learned about energy from animals.Animals have no words to speak so they relate and receive communication from each other’s energy.As humans we are not that far away.Our words provide 7% of our communication.The rest is communicated through our bodies and energy.Our words can lie but our bodies do not.That is why when you are trying to coax your dog with a treat in order to grab him and splash him into a bath, he backs away because he senses that your true purpose displayed through your energy means bath-time. Koelle showed us how to harness the power of our energy by having a clear intention, holding a feeling of joy and peace, releasing any desire to control the process or outcome, and setting clear boundaries.

Actively Create Your Life

Jeanette Maw built off these lessons about energy to specifically focus on the Law of Attraction.She reiterated the importance of having a clean intention, a sense of peaceful joy, releasing the desire once it has been identified, to state and write what we want, why we want it, and why we believe we can have it.The key here is to experience the feeling of true desire and true joy of receiving the item.The emotional joy of receiving our desire is the force that draws it to us.Examining why we can have it helps us to focus on the positive possibility and diminish the energy we give to our limiting beliefs which will block the Law of Attraction from working.

Share and Care

I have the honor of attending an informative and insightful class led by Judy Klipin and although the content will forever change my coaching abilities, the lesson from this session was the power of sharing and connection.In sharing our personal and clients’ (anonymously, of course) experiences there was an amazing feeling of peace that filled the room.There is a great power in not feeling alone.Once that connection is felt it opens the door to allow us to release the painful past, release those limiting beliefs, and have a new perspective for the future.There is incredible power in a group; a power to be utilized for great healing.

True Peace

After these lessons in breathing, energy, creation, and connection the final lesson was in transcendence.I have had a respect for Byron Katie’s work and use it often in my practice, and I often wondered if Byron lived up to her words in person.She does, and then some. She is a woman of great peace and infinite spiritual depth.Her words are simple yet ripe with meaning and inspiration.She has reached an enlightened state that I assume some would fear to go because she is no longer of this world.Byron has reached a level of enlightenment which I have not experienced with any other person I have ever met.Just hearing her speak has elevated my own awareness and practice to a new level.

I hope that these lessons have sparked your desire to learn more and deepen your practice, as they have definitely done for me. Share with us the lessons you have learned on your path or areas you would like explore.

Have you tried to bend a spoon today?

It's My Life Inc.

How I “Became” a Life Coach

“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.