I’ve always been impressed with and intrigued by the power of coaching. My Dad was a championship-winning D1 collegiate football coach for 25+ years, which gave me an unforgettable early vantage point into how powerful coaching can be.
Through him, I saw firsthand the impact challenging your mind and body can have on human potential. He was fearless in accepting his power, and the effect that power could have on others. He led, taught, pushed, challenged, believed in, and supported his players and fellow coaches so impactfully that they’re still in our lives today, and regularly reaching out to my family with gratitude.
Coaching always played an integral role in my life, but it also took a lot of time from us. I remember thinking even as a small child, “Is it really worth it?.” And although I may not have realized it at the time, I now see I was experiencing a deep awareness coming directly from my true self.
That awareness continued to follow me throughout life, but it didn’t always get to lead.
I’ve been a high-performer for as long as I can remember, and like many high-performers, I have a very powerful mind that continued to grow stronger and more powerful the more I used it. That led to an equally strong and powerful ego self, and to constant conflict between my ego self and true self as they were each trying to pull me in different directions.
Freedom, time and space for myself and loved ones, curiosity, fun, feeling alive and awake, being present, adventure, and experiencing life were all core values and drivers coming directly from my true self.
Success, accomplishment, perfectionism, judgement, needing challenge, craving stability, proving how strong I was, being the best, and the concept of needing in general, were all drivers created by and coming directly from my ego self.
And the battle between the two ensued.
My ego self helped drive the creation of a high-performing, 18-year career in marketing and strategy, working for and with organizations like Amazon, iHeartMedia, U.S. Soccer, the NBA, Audi, Johnson & Johnson, adidas, and more. It drove me wanting to work smarter and faster than everyone around me, and it reveled in the praise and validation I received when I did. It had me believing (or at least hoping) that more money and higher titles would get me closer and closer to freedom.
But my true self never bought in.
It knew none of those things were really the path to true freedom, or were really even me. And so in an effort to wake me up and remind me who I was, my true self guided me to living in Australia and Europe multiple times, learning Spanish and French, studying German and Italian, and traveling to 40+ countries, because it knew the excitement of the unknown would wake me up and make me feel alive. It had me prioritizing time with family and friends no matter how much was on my plate. And it had me constantly doing a check-in to ask, “When I look back from my last days, what decision right now is going to make me smile?”
My true self also let me know in 2016, enough was enough. I was exhausted. I was living in constant internal imbalance and conflict. Like different characters inside of me were trying to lead at the same time.
I was craving space and quiet to help myself recenter, but space and quiet are the ego self’s ultimate enemies. When you are being and not doing, you’re stepping out of your mind and the ego self can’t run the show. Because of this, it does everything it can to keep you busy so you never see what’s really happening, or who’s really in control.
For me, the enough was enough meant it was time to start finding ways to shorten my career in corporate. I wanted freedom more than ever, and at the time, I directly tied freedom to no longer needing to work in a corporate career.
In December 2016, I created a business plan around residential real estate investment and management that would have me leaving corporate in five to seven years. I bought my first house less than 30 days later.
But not long after, five to seven years started to feel like a life sentence. When your true self makes a decision, because it’s coming from your Truth, it’s an extremely powerful and decisive one. Waiting for change can be very challenging.
I continued to grow and manage my real estate business, but about a year into it, I also started learning about and investing in cryptocurrency as a way to diversify (and ideally speed up) my exit strategy. But seeing crypto as a long-term store of value, I didn’t and don’t know when I’ll want to capitalize on the gains.
In 2018, while Head of Global Events for Amazon Advertising, my internal imbalance and conflict reached a new height. I always had a curiosity and interest in awareness work and the coaching industry, and decided to pursue a coaching certification program. Being able to play in the space of awareness and growth while working for myself felt like a better next step than waiting for my investments to support me.
I started working with clients while at Amazon, and in November 2019, I put my notice in for early January 2020. After leaving Amazon, I planned to move directly into full-time work as a high-performance coach.
What I didn’t mention, is that in addition to working 60-80 hour weeks balancing a demanding global executive role while building everything else on the side, I had also been dealing with very challenging events in my personal life.
I suffered the loss of everything I owned in a deadly building fire, I faced life-changing health battles, I canceled my wedding and ended a very important relationship in my life, I lost my last remaining grandparent that I was very close to, and I’ve been slowly losing my Dad every day for the past 10+ years to a brutal battle with early-onset dementia/concussion syndrome. Including having to move him into an assisted living facility in 2017 as he progressed into the late stages of the disease.
To get through it all, I used the famous high-performer skills of compartmentalizing and pushing away challenging emotion. Something I think we all become experts in thanks to how strong and powerful our minds and ego selves become.
I didn’t feel I had the time or capacity to face all of the emotion around everything that was happening, so my ego-self kicked in and took the lead. I met all of those personal challenges in a logical and mind-driven way, focusing on solutions and next steps, all while the immense emotion tied to each was getting pushed down and stored in my body.
And on December 31st, 2019, with one week left at Amazon, my body collapsed. I pushed it so far, and so hard, for so long, that I was hospitalized with a severe case of rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo), and I almost died.
Rhabdo in laymen’s terms is muscle death. It’s what happens when your body can’t handle any more stress. The muscles rupture and toxins are released into the body, and without immediate medical attention, it can cause kidney failure and death.
It’s very rare and most commonly reserved for ultra-extreme athletes (only 26,000 people in the U.S. get it each year, .008% of the population). But because of the stress and damage I caused from how hard I pushed myself over the years, a routine workout with my trainer was all it took to finally put me over the edge.
Lying in the hospital, I found myself thinking, this is when I should be having those powerful moments of awareness about what I’m going to change in my life, and how I’m going to take better care of myself. But, I’d already committed to all of those changes, I just didn’t get to put them into practice yet.
I remember telling my Mom I felt like a marathon runner that sprained their ankle a few feet from the finish line, but then I smiled. And I thought about how overwhelmingly grateful I was that I didn’t need a moment like this to know I wanted a different life.
Waiting for an extreme event to wake up is very common, but very dangerous. We never know if it’s going to be too late.
Although a lot of grief and forgiveness work later come around how I treated myself and my body to get there, I was grateful the majority of the doing and pushing in recent years was all motivated by getting myself to a place of more balance and freedom.
I was in the hospital for a week followed by a pretty intense recovery, and in finally sitting still for the first time since I could remember, I could feel the overall extreme burnout. The space allowed my true self to give me a very clear message of rest, and of turning my focus inward, although I didn’t fully understand what that second part meant at the time.
I paused on formally launching my business, and a few months later I felt called to start working with a inner work teacher and guide. Even though my mind and ego self didn’t understand what that meant, my true self knew exactly what the work was, and used my intuition to lead me there.
During what was arguably one of the most difficult years in history (2020), I had the most powerful and beautiful experience of my life.
I created space and turned all of my focus inward, and moved very deeply and quickly through what I now know was an internal rebalancing and awakening, all during quarantine. It was like a factory reset for life. And what happened next blew my mind.
All of the external challenges I thought I’d be “working on” with my guide released on their own. It’s something my mind still can’t comprehend, but that’s part of the beauty. The real, deep healing and re-balancing work never happens in our mind, so our mind is never supposed to be able to understand it.
I finally saw true freedom has nothing to do with anything external. The idea that enough money or power would give me freedom was a belief created by my ego, and like everything the ego creates, it sets it up in a way where it can keep moving the finish line, and maintain control.
Judgment, feeling trapped, constant chasing, craving and needing external attachment to escape, extreme stress, never feeling truly satisfied or free – it all released. And it didn’t just release, the concepts no longer made sense to me.
For so many years, all of these felt like the sources of my challenges and conflict, but in reality, they were all symptoms of the deep, internal imbalance I was experiencing. And, for the first time in my life, I experienced true freedom.
When I say true freedom, I don’t mean freedom in relation to any external event or attachment. True freedom is the awareness of and freedom from the limiting beliefs, perceptions, judgments, rules, and overall constructed world the ego creates. It’s coming back to your true self and seeing you and everything around you for what it is, instead of through the lenses and limitations the ego has convinced us to adopt.
When you are in a place of true freedom, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, you are always free, because the freedom is coming from within. It’s another challenging concept for the mind to understand for the same reason it can’t fully understand deep healing and transformational work. It happens in our body and consciousness, far out of reach of the mind.
I lived the rebalancing, healing, and awakening experience, and now it’s part of me. I purposely didn’t study, research, or read about inner work during my process, because there is no doing, learning, or understanding that can move you through a true rebalancing and awakening (all of those actions are driven by your mind and ego). You can only get there by surrendering into and moving through the work. If anyone in our industry tells you differently, they haven’t done the deep work and their ego is still leading.
I stepped into this journey knowing very little about what inner work was, and trusted and surrendered to what came. And what came was a powerful return to my true self. A life now filled with space, love, joy, flow, fulfillment, and abundance. A life where I own and get to play with my gifts of trust, surrender, and healing on a daily basis. Where my work is a grateful “get to” not a forced “have to.” A life where everything I was fighting and pushing so hard to achieve and obtain is now coming to me naturally. And a life where I am truly myself, and truly free.