More ABOUT ME
Here is a piece of my story...
Towards the end of my social work career, 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 workday - and I was already feeling overwhelmed and frazzled by the constantly ringing phone and all the work on my desk.
No different than any other workday.
Then it happened.
Unexpectedly, my heart started pounding and it 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 real 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 the phone."
Glancing over to the call display, I noticed there were already 13 other 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, the main thing going through my mind was, "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.
And as I sat there talking to the client, I found myself also recalling a night the week before....
It had been 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 maintained a ridiculously revved up pace all day to do it.
“Hurry up and fall asleep,” I ordered myself, “If I can just fall asleep RIGHT NOW, I'll still manage to get four hours of 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.
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 workday.
Working so ridiculously 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....
I realized how very much I had settled and resigned myself to years of 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.
And I regularly felt the helplessness and hopelessness that came from believing that this career was all that there was for me.
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. What about my pension? 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 did all I could to still create a balanced life from out of such chaos. Somehow, I even put in an additional 15-20 hours/week completing college credit courses so one day, I could leave social work altogether.
I knew nothing about self-care.
All I knew how to be was a total workaholic and a perfectionist - and to remain in a career that was destroying me.
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.
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.
There had to be more to life than this.
I could no longer deny the truth or attempt to postpone the inevitable.
I knew this career was over.
And that day, my physical heart knew it too.
I felt such grief and loss. I had been in this career for 20+ years – and suddenly I knew it was over.
I would now be starting over.
"What would I do now? Who would I be now?"
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 and stress management consultant.
The one thing I also knew was that 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 and satisfying life.
ACC Certified Coach, International Coaching Federation
Certified Retirement Coach, Retirement Options
Certified Professional Life Coach, Christian Coach Institute
Stress Management Consultant Certification, American Institute of Health Care Professionals
Grief Counseling Certification, American Institute of Health Care Professionals