I’m dividing this post into 2 parts, because I know that when you see too much text, you hesitate to read it. I know! I’m the very same way. So here’s Part 1 of “Me, Revealed” in which I tell my story.
I am 25 years old, well, I’ll be 26 in one week!! Hurrah! I am excited to be turning 26, and I hope to embrace each birthday with the same excitement, even when my number reads 86. Some people have asked me if I’ve ever thought I was too young to become a life coach, or if this was a barrier to getting clients? Hmm, I honestly never even thought about it! And that’s not a bad thought to ponder!
Now I didn’t wake up one day, shoot out of bed, point my eureka finger in the air, and say “Eureka! That’s it! I’m going to be a life coach!” Well, actually, that sort of happened, but not until I endured a few years of chronic physical pain, unhappiness, and being life coached myself. And it happened while I was practicing Yo-Ching (Yoga and Coaching), without my eureka finger pointing in the air…
The reason I have chosen to embark on this life coaching journey is because my body told me to! Haha! In a very indirect, drawn-out, forceful kind of way. It was only drawn-out and forceful because I wasn’t listening to the signals my body was sending me. They weren’t signals telling me I had to become a life coach, they were signals telling me to slow down, love myself, stop overworking myself, stop over-achieving, stop trying to please everyone, stop trying to be, well, perfect! *Gasp* Not be perfect? Isn’t that what we’re all striving to be?
I like to think it all started when I was powering through my pre-requisite courses to get into my Dental Hygiene program. Other wise souls have told me I’ve always had “something going on”. I had a very mild form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) when I was a child which is a sign that I was avoiding things/emotions even when I was very young. It’s like your mind comes up with these tricks to preoccupy your mind and grab your attention so that you avoid feeling emotions and living in the present moment. Some of my OCDs included: not being able to step on sidewalk cracks, tucking my hair behind my ears twice always, if I scratch my left knee I would have to scratch my right knee, making a pig-like motion with my nostrils, of course, twice, etc. When one OCD went away, another one formed. I remember wondering if this would ever go away. I felt like the OCD had so much power over me. And it did.
But anyhow, even though I was weird when I was little, the real signs of something being off started when I was 20. In my school pre-requisites I scored straight A’s, and at the same time maintained an eating disorder to achieve my “perfect” body. I didn’t even take dinner breaks from studying! I ate my tofu stir fry as I copied out my Biology notes at my desk! Can I get my gold star, please? I was proud of myself for being so smart and motivated and eating so “healthy” (healthy=700-1000 calories/day). I’ve finally learned that it was not actually smart and healthy at all! I developed IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) from all the pressure I was putting on myself. This pressure wasn’t only from getting good grades and looking good, it was from trying to be interested and educated in things I wasn’t interested in, it was wanting love and acceptance from everyone, it was lots of pressure!! I experienced these symptoms every night on my way to my night classes. I would run off the bus and make my pit stop at the loo before I went to class. It became normal to do that. My hair also started to thin from my lack of nutrition. These symptoms don’t develop when you’re treating your body right, that’s for dang sure!
When I moved back home I started to eat better, and my IBS symptoms slowly went away, but they were replaced with IC (Interstitial Cystitis). IC is basically like IBS but with your bladder. The bladder lining is irritated and you get symptoms of urgency, frequency, and pain. Luckily I didn’t have the pain, but I sure had the other two symptoms! It’s kind of like having a bladder infection 24/7. Not fun! I was in my dental hygiene program at the time I was coping with my IC symptoms. Now I’m kind of a worry wart, so all of my attention went to my symptoms and I would worry, worry, worry about them. What if this never goes away? I can’t do this, this, and this because of it! Why me!?!?! Of course, those thoughts don’t help, but we like to think things that make us feel worse, right? 🙂 And when we focus on and obsess about something, that something usually shows up more! I’m sure you’ve heard of the story about the pink elephant. When someone tells you not to think about the pink elephant, what do you do? You think about the pink elephant!!! Gaahhh!!! The medical system couldn’t do anything for me either. They prescribed me medication that did nothing but give me xerostomia (dry mouth). It is one of those issues you just have to learn to live with, and just decrease your stress dammit! Come see me when you’re less stressed, my urologist says. Pfft. Umm, ok?!
In walks amazing Mind-Body Master Life Coach Abigail Steidley. Well, she didn’t walk in as much as I sent her a desperate e-mail telling her I needed her help, and FAST! I actually found her advertisement when I was on an Interstitial Cystitis website searching for the magic pill to cure my bladder so I could get on with my life! I coached with her for two years pretty regularly, and found out all this fascinating stuff about the mind and the body, and of course, myself! My symptoms didn’t go away over night, they very slowly decreased, to the point where one day I realized that I didn’t worry about my bladder anymore. Abigail told me I wouldn’t wake up one day, know that my bladder was “healed” and then perform daily celebrations because I was healthy! (Although I think this would be fantastic for us to do. Why don’t we celebrate good health every day?) I just very slowly stopped worrying about my bladder so much, and since my attention wasn’t focused on it, I never thought to think that my IC was gone! The mind and body are so fascinating! So how exactly did I rid of my IC, you ask? I learned to re-connect my mind and my body through thought work, breathing lessons, emotional awareness exercises, yoga, freewriting exercises, using my creative right brain to give my left brain a break, and much more. I was becoming more present. I was figuring out who I was and what I truly loved to do. I was questioning why I did the things I did. Why did my hand reach for the cupboards the instant I got home from school? (Yes, I went from almost starving myself to binge eating…) I was being curious and being a detective in my own life. I was opening up to the experience of being human and accepting myself as I am, “flaws” and all. I loved this life coaching thing! I was learning so much! I wanted Abigail to coach me forever. I didn’t want to end my life coaching journey. It felt like this was just the beginning of something wonderful. And it was. So the light bulb finally turned on when I was at a retreat and feeling clear in my head in October 2010. I don’t have to be life coached for the rest of my life to keep this in my life, I can BECOME a life coach! Best. Revelation. Ever.
Tune in next week for Pt. 2 of “Me, Revealed”, because honestly, although this seems like a “happily ever after” ending, it really wasn’t. 2011 has been eventful to say the least. There might even have to be a Part 3…