Often times, I would be the one telling my clients to beware of the small voices that whisper for you to make a change for inevitably if you don't listen the Universe will have no choice but to hit you with a 2x4 event. That's when something so drastic happens it literally smacks you up side of your head like a 2x4 and you have no choice but to take a break and pay attention. How did I know about these moments? Well, sadly, I had already had a few in my lifetime and I did everything I could to avoid having them again. At least, that is what I thought. In reality I was heading for one of the biggest 2x4 moments of my life and I literally had no clue. I thought that I could handle the crazy schedule, dismal pay, tyranical management, and lack of any connection to my true self. I thought, it was just for a little while. Problem is, the Universe works best with concrete time frames, so my "little while" meant nothing and day, after day, week after week, and finally month after month I remained stuck.
And then it happened. I was surrounded by miserable people, at a job I could do but that I didn't want to do anymore, every where I looked there was nothing but dis-ease. Still, while my husbands business was growing, it wasn't quite where I thought it should be. He could do better, we could be in a better position, so I started connecting with more people trying to do more of my work outside the office. As I did it became clear that life coaching was what I was meant to do. Being a part of helping someone find happiness and success in their live inspired me. I longed to be free to work with people full time. To teach and speak and share my program with anyone who needed it. I just couldn't see how. I had become closed off to my options and starting succumbing to the negative energy of my "real" job. For the first time, in a very long time, my future looked hopeless.
Then it happened. Stuck in rush hour traffic, trying to traverse the border between Oregon and Washington, to appease my micro-managing boss, I felt a horrific pinch in my left arm. As I continued to drive in bumper to bumper traffic for twenty, thirty, almost 45 minutes the pain grew and radiated down my arm and across my chest. I began to perspire heavily even thought he airconditioning was on in the car. I began to have trouble with my vision as if everything was getting blurry and out of focus on the periphery. All the while, I tried to ignore it, shake it off. Maybe the flu, just a bad day, too much stress.... a panic attack. I remember, like it was yesterday, hearing myself say the word attack snapped me to full attention. Shit! (I'm pretty sure I said that aloud) I think I'm having a heart attack.
It took a few more minutes still to get off the freeway, cut through town, and reach the parking lot of my business. I don't remember any of it. Though I'm sure I managed as the next thing I remember I was pacing in front of my managers glass office with what I can only imagine was a very strange look on my face. There was someone in his office so I waited... and I paced... when I suddenly caught his eye and his attention. He waived me in and I said meekly, almost apologetically, I think I'm having a heart attack. I was 39 years old.
He was, understandably shocked and a bit confused, he stammered and asked what he could do, what I needed, and I just blurted out... I just want to go home. And amazingly enough he said, yes, go! So, I drove myself home a feat made much easier by the fact that the rush hour traffic was gone and my return trip only 15 minutes. Now, I had called my husband on the way and explained what happened in brief and after screaming at me and my manager for letting me drive home he said he'd meet me downstairs in front of our mid-rise apartment - thank god. He took me to urgent care (I had refused the hospital) as I was feeling somewhat better. When we arrived they hooked me up to the machines and learned that my heart was fine, though my blood pressure was up and I clearly had some sort of spasm happening in my arm. Yay, I wasn't dying... it just felt like it. After several more test 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. I did what I always did I found a problem and I solved it. You see, I'd always suffered from being very endowed. The shame, discomfort and physical strain were constants from early puberty. So, when the doctor suggested that having breast reduction surgery could alleviate the problem, I jumped at the opportunity. Still, as I spent the next few weeks recovering and admiring my post surgery body a thought began to gnaw at me. What if it wasn't the pinched nerve. What if that was just my latest 2x4 moment. Now, if you've never recovered from a surgery you may be unaware just how mind numbing it can be. After the initial pain subsides, thanks in part to the Vicodin, you reach a level of general discomfort while still being unable to effectively use your arms for more than brushing your teeth. So, for the most part I sat on the couch, read, watched day-time television, and tried to ignore the voice that kept asking questions I wasn't ready to answer.
In the end, the nagging thought was all I could hear, followed by a sinking feeling that I was coming to a cross-road. One that would require a big decision - to go back to the grind or step out and follow my own dreams for a change. It took about two days for me to realize, for me, there really was only one choice. It was time to take the leap and let go of my supposed safety net job. As if, on cue, the Universe rose up to meet me. The position I held was gone when I returned from my medical leave and the new position they had for me was a total dead end. Then my husbands business began to flourish, like never before, and we were swamped with business. In fact, the girlfriend of one of his client's became my first full-time coaching clients.
Some say, when it comes to making decisions you have to trust your gut, in this case it was clear I needed to follow my heart. The beautiful part is my health improved instantly. I was sleeping well (killing your alarm clock will do that), eating better, and more active then I had ever been. If it weren't for that 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 every 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.