Let me tell you a story. I wish I could say that where I am today is a result of good decisions and a clear path, but the truth is that along the way there have been many times that I have stubbornly dug in my heels to try to avoid change. I guess you could say that I’ve been a somewhat reluctant change agent, but also someone who has had a number of calculated re-directs. The story I want to tell you today is one of being knocked down after ignoring the subtle indications that I was on the wrong path.
I’m not perfect; I am a flawed human being who makes mistakes - sometimes the same ones over and over. However, I have chosen to embrace these as life lessons. After all, I live on a planet with billions of other human beings who are also doing their best, or sometimes burying their heads in the sand and pretending that what they are doing is all that they can do.
In my first few years living in Colorado, after moving from my home state of New Hampshire, I bought a home and was making my way up the corporate ladder in a job where I raised my hand for every project, took every management development training and even lived in Montreal in the dead of winter so I could fill two roles in the company at the same time. I was working long hours, and playing hard as well. At 30 years old, I trained for a triathlon and competed to prove that I was capable of juggling it all. I was racing along the road of the American way.
That’s when my heart stepped in to let me know that I was moving too fast and furious in the wrong
direction. As I was being wheeled out of the cath lab (catheterization laboratory) after having a blood clot removed from my coronary artery and a stent inserted, the cardiologist who treated me told me that if I hadn’t gone into the hospital that night, I wouldn’t have woken up in the morning. “WHAT!?!” Yes, that’s right – I had survived a heart attack that I suffered that day while on a 60-mile bike ride. I was 31 years old. What a wake up call.
I wasn’t taking the time to pause to notice whether I was doing the right things, so my body slammed the breaks for me. Only, I wasn’t ready to stop. I spent four nights in the hospital and the entire time all I could think about was getting back to my life – my work, my ladder that I thought I needed to keep climbing to show the world that I was successful.
A little voice inside kept whispering, “something isn’t right and something has to give, because I want to live.” I started to do what I have always been good at doing – research. I took a nutrition course, which resulted in a certification as a Holistic Health Practitioner. Through my training, I came to realize that my diet wasn’t as good as I thought. I also learned more about heart disease and got angry. I began to uncover the secrets of big ag and the pharmaceutical industries, and all the ways that they are keeping Americans sick, and not taking any responsibility for it. I read about how animals raised for food in America are treated like a commodity rather than the sentient beings that they are. I started slowly moving to a plant-based diet, learned to cook healthy food and make more ethical choices. All of which resulted in getting myself off of all prescription drugs.
After a knee surgery left me with a nine-month recovery period, I discovered yoga. I found that it was exactly what I needed – I was hooked. It was the missing piece to aid me in the necessary change process to get back in touch with what I needed in my life. I took yoga teacher training, and went back for more. I travelled to Costa Rica for two weeks of advanced yoga training for three years in a row.
When I was offered an opportunity to move to a more flexible and less-stressful job, I took it. My manager tried to talk me out of leaving, but it was time. I needed to get my priorities straight, and it wasn’t fully possible without getting out of my existing work environment. Time revealed that I made the right decision for me. I began to prioritize my health over the next promotion.
As the years passed, I started two businesses, left my corporate job, participated in and led multiple yoga retreats, and learned more and more about myself along the way. I’m still navigating the waters of living life out in the open, letting go of the expectations for what is normal and what success looks like. I still find myself in periods of stress, take wrong turns now and then or slip into old behavior patterns. The aches in my body tell me when I’m not taking care of myself, loss reminds me of how precious every minute is that we get on this Earth, and mistakes remind me that I’m human. These are the things that connect us as human beings.
I’m telling you all of this, because my hope for you is that it doesn’t take a near death experience to get
you to press pause. To take a look at your life, and notice if you are living the life that you want, or if your days are overly influenced by the expectations of others. My wish is that each person can confidently say, “I’m living the life of my dreams, acting from a place of passion and purpose, and letting my light shine.” It’s not easy. There are bumps in the road that knock us off track, but that’s to be expected. If you need a little help getting back on track, or finding your unique path, contact me. Let’s talk it out and see if I can help. My experience has given me tools that I’d love to share with you.