I used to have a nice, bright-and-shiny life, at least from the outside. I had a great job title, education from good institutions, accolades from my bosses and peers, a good house, handsome husband, a son and a daughter, good friends, and good relationships with my parents and brothers.
It wasn’t until I spent a week in an introductory life-coach-training program that I realized how dim my inner life was by comparison.
None of the pretty trappings of life made up for my chronic insecurity, perfectionism, or the belief that I had to stay successful at all those external things to be safe, to be worthy, to belong, to be loved.
Even though I was loved by others, I couldn’t have said I truly loved myself; I was focused on my flaws and shortcomings instead.
The training program started turning that around. I’d really just taken it on a whim; I loved the instructors and thought it might be fun and interesting. For the first five days, the smart and intuitive Judy Klipin took us through the basic toolkit developed by Martha Beck, and each day, I learned things about myself that felt good. I got acquainted with an inner guidance system—my internal North Star—and became increasingly excited about a new way to live life.
Then, over the weekend, Martha joined us and shared her thoughts, her fabulous laugh, and her out-of-the-box thinking; taught us how to horse-whisper and bend spoons; and just laid a lotta love on us. By Sunday afternoon, I felt so shiny inside I was sure I could be seen from space.
I had never in my life wanted to do anything more than I wanted to share that super-nova feeling with anyone else whose inner light felt dim.
The first thing I did the following Monday morning, when I got to my job as Acting Director of Corporate Affairs and Head of Sustainability at one of South Africa’s biggest financial institutions, was announce that I intended to become a certified coach and that I would be resigning when that happened. Right up until my going-away party six months later, my boss didn’t believe I’d really do it. She hadn’t even found my replacement when I left!
I’ve never looked back, even though being a self-employed coach has been challenging in many ways. There was the challenge of getting used to my relatively-flaky-sounding new job title: life coach. Being my own boss. Making less money. Finding my own clients. Learning to navigate blogging and social media and learning things like “scaling offerings.” Things I never would have had to do in my safe, cushy office job.
There was also my old nemesis, self-doubt, which—combined with my innate curiosity and love of learning—led to many additional coach-training programs and certifications.
But despite the hard parts, I got to experience joy and the profound satisfaction of seeing the men, women, and schoolchildren I worked with light up when they discovered their strengths, explored their unique personality style, learned to speak up for themselves, or left soul-sucking jobs or relationships in search of ones that would make them happy.
I was also able to incorporate many empowering lessons into my parenting, which helped my now-young-adult children be far more self-aware and confident than I was at their ages. My coach training and love weren’t enough to prevent them from struggling as adolescents—nothing can—but it did help us get through as allies.
My biggest challenge was still to come, however. After being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2018, I really learned the value of all those coaching tools and techniques. Some of them help me find peace in scary moments. Some help me stay focused on what matters most. One allows me to track what I’m most grateful for; this in turn reminds me that life is good every day and it encourages hope. These, combined with my firm belief in a compassionate spiritual realm that exists around us and will welcome us back when our lives here end, keep my inner light glowing brighter than it ever has. Truly, I feel like you could see me from space again. I live almost every day with true joy and a deep love for life and myself.
So Now What?
I’ve been creating something new—a group online workshop/class—for anyone who wants to feel more lit-up inside and do it with a compassionate cohort. I’m calling it “Reclaim Your Flame” and will offer it in the first quarter of 2022. I have some fun creative ideas for exploring who we are at our shiny, brightest best, such as creating collages and playlists, remembering what we loved as children, and (re)discovering strengths and talents and passions. If you’d like to stay in the loop about it, please hit reply and say, “I’m in!” I think it will be a blast. It will not be expensive. I’ll send more information in January.
Until then, I hope the holiday season is bringing you joy.