It’s the beginning of 2016 and I’m wondering what I can say that I haven’t said before to give you a better understanding of what it means to make changes that stick. How can I encourage you to take those first courageous steps? Well, I thought I would share a bit of my own transformation story. As vulnerable as I feel in sharing it, I want you to know that you are not alone in your struggle to feel better and to live a better life. I want you to feel alive and vital and in charge empowered in your life. (I dislike the phrase “in charge” because it presupposes that we are helpless victims when we are not!) I want to share with you some of my biggest Aha! moments of the last eight years (see all bolded, italicized comments).
When I started Nutrigal in 2010, I had just come off of a long stint with a job that was, for the most part, extremely fulfilling and an incredible learning experience. But in the last three years of it things started to fall apart for me. A little voice inside began nudging me, telling me that there was something else out there. I began to get the message that working each day for somebody else, following their codes, their rules, and their vision was not only soul-sucking but it was stealthily eroding my physical and mental health.
I was spending most of my time completing the duplicate and triplicate paperwork necessary in a government funded program. As a front line mental health and addiction worker my priority was the client but as it is for most corporations the bottom line was numbers. I’m not blaming the workplace. Incredible work was being done for the suffering clients but as a sensitive, somewhat empathic, person the demands of the corporate model were killing me.
The types of clients I worked with were struggling with addictions and mental health issues. I learned that not only do miracles happen but people whose lives are shattered are being transformed every day. One gentle soul worth mentioning was a young man, just out of his teens, getting sober for the first time, who came to me with the news that he had been diagnosed HIV positive. This young man climbed up that mountain of pain and fear and started a new life despite his challenges. He went out and got a degree while maintaining steadfastly to his belief that, there is more to my life than a label someone has applied to me. There’s a saying in recovery that when you get sober or clean there’s only one thing you need to change; and that one thing is everything. Nothing changes if nothing changes. But day by day, one change at a time, many of my clients were overcoming the trials of addiction and achieving great things in their lives including physical well-being, mental health, and spiritual enlightenment.
I had a beautiful office with an open window where I enjoyed the fresh air of the season. I was able to walk in the woods each afternoon and even visit horses on my lunch hour. This environment was soul giving, joy promoting, and the staff were friends sharing the common goal of our clients’ well-being. But I was about to face a huge challenge. My workplace moved from the pastoral setting to an urban environment in a new building. Windows were closed; chemicals from construction, carpeting and cleaners could not be avoided; and the noise (oh, the noise!) from the work stations, began to take their toll on me.
While some might thrive in this type of environment I certainly do not. Initially, I thought I’d get used to it but things quickly started to go downhill. For a time I tried to ignore my inner voice. Fearful thoughts like “this is the best job you’ll ever get”, “you’ll never make this kind of money again”, “nobody will hire you now, you’re too old”, plagued me. So I ignored my inner being’s calling until my body and the Universe gave me clear signs that I was off the path.
Here is a list of the spiritual sign posts I ignored:
- Chronic back pain: my Chiropractor once told me that the most common cause of back pain is job dissatisfaction; hmmmm.
- At 3 p.m. I was down for the count: I wanted to lie down and die, in fact I couldn’t get through the afternoon without coffee and something sweet. I would pray for 5 p.m. to come.
- Persistent belly fat: no matter how much I worked out or how well I ate I continued to gain weight.
- Early morning waking: at 3 a.m. these thoughts raced through my mind, “Wouldn’t it be awful if…?”, “You should have said…”, “You must be (crazy, wrong, unworthy)”, “What’s wrong with you?”, and my all time favourite, “20 reasons you’ll get fired today”.
- Each day became “Groundhog Day”: and a fight to survive; my body hurt, my mind was racing, my heart pounding, and my tolerance for people was becoming nonexistent. I was on an endless loop just like the Bill Murray movie.
- Inability to look after myself: at the end of the day I was wired and tired. Forget about making a healthy meal; a peanut butter sandwich or cheese and crackers became my only two dinners.
- Sunday night “Fright Night”: by 6 o’clock at the end of the weekend panic started to set in and falling asleep was impossible without some sort of medication.
- Self-blaming: I blamed myself for the lack of sleep, the weight gain, the memory loss and the inability to cope.
- Sick every vacation: each time I took time off so did my immune system leaving me sick and in pain through-out the holiday.
- The pain of staying in the job became greater than the pain of leaving: but thankfully, my ability to let go of what wasn’t serving me finally forced my hand.
What I didn’t know then but I do know now is that my adrenal glands were working overtime trying to recalibrate a hormone imbalance that could not be fixed if I didn’t change my life. (If you recognize any of these symptoms you too might be dealing with a hormone imbalance caused by stress. My FREE e-book discusses solutions that you can implement now to help.)
What happened to me?
The day I left the corporate world is one I’ll never forget. I didn’t know it would be my last day ever working for a corporation. That day, I experienced my first panic attack. I threw a few items from my desk into a backpack and vowed to take three weeks stress leave. That leave turned into a two year healing journey which enabled me to look at my life, change my way of being in this world and discover what I needed to do to rebuild my life. I realized my health is worth more than job security.
I’m not saying job security isn’t important but at that time I knew if I continued in the job I was only going to get worse and I would never heal. It took a leap of faith for me to think I could be something more, to do something I’ve always wanted to do, to live my life the way I want, to be at peace with the decisions I make on a daily basis.
I started seeing an acupuncturist, a psychotherapist, a spiritual psychotherapist, a bio-identical hormone doctor, and a Naturopath. I started making changes, little by little, one thing at a time, until the transformation of my life began. It didn’t happen overnight and there were days I couldn’t do anything but lie on my back, deeply saddened. I couldn’t sleep at all and I had a mind that was so negative it constantly used words like ALWAYS as in, “it’s always going to be like this”, and NEVER as in “it’s never going to get better”. I worried I was going to become a Bag Lady and the fear of financial insecurity plagued me. But there was a little voice of hope. A little voice that said I was going to get through all this.
The voice told me: People love you. You are strong, capable, empathetic, honest, and caring. This was the turning point. I listened. This is where everything changed. People stepped up. People who I didn’t even know came into my life to light the path. One encouraged me to take life one step at a time, one day at a time, and one task at a time. And so began my journey back to hope and healing. In fact it began when I walked out of my workplace that day in 2003.
I now realize you can find great gifts in times of the great despair. During the two years it took to heal I was given gifts. I was able to visit my ailing dad and my parents weekly. I was able to find the things that bring me joy. I was able to take a hard look at the path I had chosen. For the longest time I’d felt trapped in my corporate job, attached to a weekly pay cheque, to the false security of a corporate job: I had benefits, four weeks of holidays, but was completely miserable. I knew I was destined for a better life, that I could do more for the world and for myself. But at that point I had nothing to give in fact I had nothing to give for two full years.
There were naysayers and there were supporters. When I was told by the insurance company that I had to go back to the work environment that had made me sick I finally found my voice and stood up for myself. I refused to go back. I told the disability worker that I was going to start my own business. The look of disbelief in my case worker’s eyes was terrifying.
At my lowest point I had a good friend who urged me to do just one thing today to move my life forward. Yes, I could do one thing. The first thing I did was make one phone call to my first of several business coaches. It seems small but at the time it was frightening to take that leap and commit to myself. That phone call led me to a meeting which led me to coaching which led to the opening of my business, Nutrigal.
Since then I’ve counseled hundreds of women and heard hundreds of stories similar to mine; always heartbreaking, beautiful and empowering. When women come to me they’re looking for more than a nutrition overhaul. They need hope, support, and a step by step, actionable plan with someone who cares about their recovery. We can recover from the hormonal upset of chronic stress and I am blessed to be able to show the way. Recently I put it all together in a program I call, The Body Beautiful Weight Loss & Nutrition Program for Every Body. For me, nothing is more powerful than women helping women.
Are you ready to make that one call? Contact me right now at 416-258-3596 or email me here: Contact Kelly.