I had gone to school, certified and started coaching by the time I was 24 years old. Yet I was still holding on to the “real job” crutch.
To the outside world, I was a vision of success: balancing full-time work with weekends at retreats and after-hours appointments. Regardless of the job or how much it paid, I couldn’t shake my need to be a coach. It was clear that life coaching was where I was meant to be: helping people find happiness and success in their lives. I was sharing my gifts and helping other people live the lives of their dreams, while my own dream was smoldering on the back burner.
I thought I could handle the crazy schedule, the dismal pay, tyrannical management, and lack of connection to my true self. It was just for “a little while”, right? But the Universe works best with concrete time frames so my “little while” meant nothing: days turned to weeks turned to months. And I remained stuck. I was surrounded by miserable people, at a job I could do but that I didn’t want to do, and everywhere I looked there was nothing but dis-ease.
Often times, I would be the one telling my clients to beware of the small voices that whisper for you to make a change – if you don’t listen, the Universe will have no choice but to hit you with a 2x4 moment – and here I was heading for one of the biggest 2x4 moments of my life and I had no clue:
My husband’s business was growing, but not quite where we thought it should be. He could do better and we could be in a better position. I longed to be free to work with people full time, to teach and share my program with anyone who needed it. I just couldn’t see how. I had succumbed to the negative energy of my “real” job and become closed off to my options. My future looked hopeless.
Then it happened. Stuck in rush-hour traffic, trying to cross the border between Oregon and Washington, I felt a horrific pinch in my left arm. The pain grew and radiated up my arm and across my chest. I started sweating – even though the air conditioning was on – and my vision was getting blurry... “Shit!” I think I’m having a heart attack.
Next thing I know, I’m pacing in front of my manager’s office. Waiting and pacing. He waved me in and I said, almost apologetically, “I think I’m having a heart attack.” I was 39 years old.
He was shocked and confused, asking what he could do. I blurted: “I just want to go home.”
“Yes, go!” He said.
On my way home, I called my husband and explained what happened. Once he calmed down, he said he’d meet me at home. I refused a trip to the hospital and settled for a trip to Urgent Care instead.
The machines at the clinic showed that my heart was fine (thank God!), though my blood pressure was up and I was clearly having spasms in my left arm. Yay, I wasn’t dying… it just felt like it. After several more tests and a consultation, it was determined that I was suffering from a pinched nerve and stress.
Yes, the heart attack that saved my life wasn’t a heart attack at all. It was the perfect combination of fatigue, stress, and muscle strain. You see, I’d always been well endowed. The discomfort and physical strain were constants from early puberty. So when the doctor suggested that breast reduction surgery could alleviate my suffering, I jumped at the opportunity.
As I spent the new few weeks recovering and admiring my post-surgery body, a thought began to gnaw at me. What if this was my latest 2x4 moment? What if it wasn’t just a pinched nerve? For the most part, I was on the couch all day: reading, watching TV, and trying to ignore the questions I wasn’t ready to answer.
Ultimately, the nagging question was all I could hear. I had a sinking feeling that I was coming to a crossroad. One that would require a big decision – go back to the daily grind or step out and follow my own dreams for a change. There was really only one choice. It was time to take the leap and let go of my safety net.
As if on cue, the Universe rose up to meet me. When I returned from medical leave, the position I’d held was gone and the new position was a dead end. My husband’s business was flourishing like never before and we were swamped with business. In fact, a girlfriend of one of his clients became my first full-time coaching client.
Some say that when it comes to making decisions, you have to trust your gut; it was clear that I needed to follow my heart. The beautiful part is that my health improved instantly. I was sleeping well (killing your alarm clock will do that), eating better, and more active than I’d ever been. If it weren’t for the apparent heart attack, I might have actually run my body, mind, and spirit right into the ground.
Today, I trust my gut and remain open to possibilities. I know how quickly life can change and I’m grateful each day that I have the chance to help other people recover from and even avoid their own 2x4 moments. Which is why I run my coaching practice from the heart.