Hi! I’m Verna May.
I am an International Coach Federation-credentialed life coach. I am an alumni of Christian Coach Institute and have earned my Certified Professional Life Coach credential. I have completed additional stress management consulting and grief counseling certification courses, and additional intensive life coach training programs.
Here is a little bit of my story….
A few years ago, while employed in my former line of work, I had a major wake-up call.
It jolted me right out of any remaining denial I had about which direction my life was heading – if I continued living as I was living.
There I was. Sitting in my cubicle at work… phone constantly ringing….
It was only 20 minutes into the start of my work day - and I was already feeling overwhelmed and frazzled by all the work on my desk.
No different than any other work day. Then it happened.
My heart started pounding and for a few minutes, it just would not quit.
Sure, I’d had anxiety attacks in the past, and I knew what those felt like. But this was completely different. For the first time, I felt a pressure in my chest and I just could not catch my breath. Taking one very deep but ineffective breath, I told myself, “I have to answer it." Glancing over to the call display, I noticed there were 6 others calls waiting in the queue. Telling myself to just “pull it together… maybe this is just anxiety," I reached for the phone. But for the duration of the call, my heart continued to pound and I remained unable to take a full breath.
In those moments, so many things were going through my mind.
“What’s wrong with me? Is there something wrong with my heart?"
"What have I done to myself? Why am I even on this call right now? Is the client noticing anything? I have to focus on this call. What did he just say?"
"What’s wrong with my heart?”
Looking back, I realize how completely ridiculous and self-disrespecting it was for me to have even answered the phone.
As I sat there talking to the client, I found myself recalling a night the week before....
It was a-running-on-over-drive kind of day. For some still-unknown reason, I had decided every task and errand just HAD to get done that day.
The fact that I was already exhausted and I had to work the next day did not seem to matter.
Crawling into bed at 1:30 a.m., I proudly thought about all I accomplished that day – even though I had had to maintain a ridiculously revved up pace all day to do it.
“Hurry up and fall asleep,” I ordered myself, “If I can just fall asleep in the next few minutes, I might actually get a good five hours sleep tonight.”
Unexpectedly, my heart started to pound so loudly I could hear it.
And I just laid there - not knowing what to do except to wait for my heart to stop pounding.
Call with client concluded, I hung up the phone.
“What if there’s something wrong with my heart?
"What if it’s too late to make changes now?”
I felt real fear and anxiety.
But something else too – I felt REGRET.
Regret over spending years too long at this soul-destroying job – one in which I had to literally force myself to make it through each work day.
Working so very hard in a high-pressure work environment where probably only wolves could thrive.
Feeling that the mostly busywork I performed daily was of little value and significance....
Feeling that almost nothing I did all day long felt personally meaningful or satisfying to me....
Feeling that despite what I did, none of it was making a real difference to anything or anyone.
I realized how very much I had settled and resigned myself to overwhelming career stress and chronic exhaustion.
To working the equivalent of three full-time jobs....
To constantly feeling revved up, frazzled and running on over-drive....
I had chosen to accept and to tolerate the negative impacts this career was having on my health and on other area of my life.
I regularly felt the helplessness and hopelessness that came from believing that this career was all that there was for me.
A lot of the career had been good - or at least bearable or do-able. I had also had a full, relatively satisfying and balanced life.
But somewhere in the final few years, the career had begun to consume me, and my general health suffered.
“But I can’t leave this career right now, " I reasoned. "I've got too much invested. I’ll make a change someday. I still have time.”
So, I had tried so many things to reduce the extreme stress, and just “stick it out” and make things work. Maybe things would somehow get better. I constantly worked out at the gym and did yoga. I did all I could to still create a balanced life from out of such chaos. I went for counseling. I took a ridiculous number of self-development and self-improvement courses, seminars, and training programs. Somehow, I even spent an additional 15-20 hours/week completing college credit courses.
All in attempt to one day leave the career.
I knew nothing about self-care.
All I knew how to be a total workaholic and a perfectionist.
In that cubicle, I realized my health was the only thing that mattered. That this crazy making career had to be over – because there was nothing more I could do, try or change to make things better.
I was so tired of the chronic stress and exhaustion I was experiencing on-the-job.
I had no end of weird physical ailments and pain, and always feeling like I was coming down with a cold or ‘flu. I experienced almost daily headaches, or seeing those eye floaters or white flashes as I worked at my computer. I had high cortisol levels that my doctor told me were “through the roof.”
And I was so tired of experiencing little joy, fulfillment, passion and purpose in my life.
Overall, I felt like my life was falling apart.
I wanted to run away from my life.
I wanted a do-over.
There had to be more to life than this.
I could no longer deny the truth or attempt to postpone the inevitable.
I had reached the end of the line.
I knew this career was over.
And that day, my physical heart did too.
I felt such grief and loss. I had been in this career for 20+ years – and suddenly I knew it was over.
I was now starting over.
"What would I do now?"
"Who would I be now?"
In the months and years that followed, there was a lot I did not know. I had no end of "What now?" questions. But with the help of a lot of good people, I completely overhauled my life, worked hard to restore my health - and then I started to work towards achieving the dream I had always had of becoming a professional life coach.
The one thing I did know was God could use my struggles to help others.
I would help people reduce the stress in their lives.
I would help them reduce the stress of major life transitions.
And I would be there right alongside them as they moved towards a more meaningful life and satisfying life.
“God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad of our greatest calling.” - Unknown
“Use your God-given gifts to serve others.” – 1 Peter 4:10