So who am I and why am I so passionate about helping women transform their lives for the better?
The simple answer is because I've very much been that woman! But... if you want the slightly lengthier version then please read on
To start with I'm going to take you back to January 2016, when I had what could be termed a 'defining moment' that changed my life forever...
I had been working in HR for 16 years (a career that for the most part I absolutely loved), I had recently married my best friend, become pregnant on honeymoon, given birth to a healthy gorgeous little boy and was on my last few precious months of maternity leave. All was pretty rosey if I do say so myself!
Then something ‘big and ugly’ happened and my life was thrown upside down! In the third week of January 2016, I went from being a fit, active new Mum to a quadriplegic in 3 days.
I got a condition called Guillian Barre Syndrome. I won’t blame you if you’ve never heard of it. I certainly hadn’t! My immune system had gone into overdrive and was ‘eating’ my nervous system from my limbs inwards. By the time I was admitted to hospital I had lost all use of my arms, legs, my swallow function, was in an incredible amount of intense pain and the condition was starting to reach my lungs making breathing painful. I was extremely fortunate in being diagnosed relatively quickly and put on an immunoglobulin drip to slow the conditions’ progress. After a few days I plateaued (oh, not before I lost the use of the muscles down one side of my face so it drooped and didn’t respond to anything, that was pretty, not!) All in all I spent 3 months in hospital, the first few weeks I was bed-bound and spoon-fed pureed food, then 2 months in a wheelchair undergoing intensive daily physio.
Obviously this was pretty traumatic and made more so by my son only being 10 months old at the time I became ill. However, I was told on my second day after being admitted that everyone recovers from Guillain Barre Syndrome so that was what I focused on during my time in hospital.
The miracle of this situation for me was the gift of time!! When you're paralysed in both your arms and legs there really isn't much else you can do but think. I genuinely didn't feel scared by my situation (weirdly!) so I chose to embrace this time, what else could I possibly do?! With hindsight, and since learning a great deal more about spirituality, I believe this happened for a reason; to make me stop operating on autopilot and following the expected path through life; to take stock of what I really wanted to do to feel fulfilled in life.
Although I had often considered myself very lucky to have found a career that, for the majority of time, I loved, as the end of my maternity was drawing closer and since becoming ill I felt a huge sense of resentment for having had those last few months of maternity leave and precious time with my son taken away from me.
I knew part of the reason behind not wanting to return to work was not wanting to leave my son, but I was due to drop to working only 3 days a week and had found a nursery that I was really happy with for those days. I began to realise that the other part of the reason I dreaded returning was the actual content of the work.
In hospital I had the time to dissect that the part of my job I still got a great deal of satisfaction from were the 1-2-1 chats where colleagues confided in me and we would talk things through, generally by me asking lots of questions and listening intently, to help them decide for themselves what they wanted to do. These interactions really lit me up and feel like I was able to give something beneficial to others, but unfortunately this wasn't a big part of my job.
Having the time to reflect on this enabled me to have one of those intuitive miracle lightbulb moments that I now recognise quite frequently where the words ‘Life Coach’ just popped into my head. This wasn't a career path I had considered or really known anything about before but the words just popped up.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been voraciously curious about human behaviour. I am so passionate about understanding what makes people tick, why they behave in certain ways and discovering what their beliefs are to help them see what is supporting them and what is holding them back. This completely fascinates me! I'm sure I drove my colleagues mad by always wanted to consider how each HR initiative we wanted to implement might make employees ‘feel’, which makes decisions exceptionally difficult when you’re trying to pre-empt the feelings of over 800 people!
2016 continued on it’s merry way, generally being a disaster year, not just for me but for those close to me too also with life-changing illnesses and drastic employment situations. All of which reaffirming this need within me to change the direction my life was heading in, in order to do something that would truly make me happy and allow me to spend time with the important people in my life.
So I immersed myself into becoming a Life Coach. When I wasn’t resting or doing Physio, I was studying. I had signed up for a Life Coach qualification and was in my element! I have always been a big reader but now I felt like I couldn’t read books fast enough, I wanted to absorb information as quickly as possible, I couldn’t get enough of it! I had an incredible thirst to learn more and more about psychology, human behaviour and latterly spirituality. I signed up to receive Life Coaching myself to experience first-hand the programme I was training to deliver.
Unfortunately my road to recovery wasn’t as straight-forward as ‘you can walk again, you must be all fine now?’
I struggled terribly with fatigue. There wasn’t a day that went by in the 20 months after getting the Guillain Barre that I didn’t have to go back to bed and sleep at some stage due to absolute exhaustion. And when I tried to go back to the gym, with the best intentions of strengthening my muscles to relieve the chronic knee and back pain I had as a result of what I’d been through, I ended up putting my recovery back by months by getting Pneumonia. I hadn’t appreciated how hard my body was still having to work at rebuilding the myelin sheaths around my nerves and all the other damage that had been done during my illness. It couldn’t cope with additional energy being used in the gym, not to mention trying to function normally at social events – no chance!
I am someone who has always worked hard to achieve the things in life I wanted to achieve; be that getting good grades in subjects I found harder than others at school or maintaining an athletic figure I was proud of whilst loving consuming vast quantities of chocolate and cheese (not together, of course!). Not being able to apply this same mindset and approach to my recovery and looking like someone who was ‘fine’ whilst actually feeling so fragile, lost, vulnerable and needing daily day-time naps caused me to have what I guess could be termed a ‘breakdown’. Quite publicly, whilst trying to keep it together and act ‘fine’ on a weekend away with friends and their families in Oct 2016.
I was then diagnosed with Reactive Depression.
Apparently it’s quite ‘normal’ for people to experience this after an illness of the severity of Guillain Barre and I’d done well to get as far as I had without needing medical help. I felt as far from ‘doing well’ as I’d ever felt...
It still reduces me to tears now, remembering the thoughts that were going through my head at this stage. The genuine suicidal thoughts of not wanting to live my life anymore and how I could make that happen, conflicting with how much I love my son and husband and not wanting to miss seeing my son grow up.
To this day I cannot comprehend how people manage to function and live their lives with depression. It is by far the worst thing I have ever experienced, far worse than the scariest bits of Guillain Barre, although I appreciate I knew from early on that I wasn’t permanently going to lose the use of my arms and legs which made it easier to manage. During my HR career I dealt with many people suffering from depression and as a sensitive person I sincerely hope I dealt with them compassionately, but having experienced it first-hand now gives me an entirely different, deeper appreciation for just how debilitated the situation is that they’re facing, day-in, day-out.
Why taking medication for depression, especially when you’re not in a position to exercise, which would have previously been my default way of creating happy hormones, is TABOO is a mystery to me?!
If you’ve genuinely experienced depression; the hideous dark thoughts that come with it, the hellish all-consuming feeling of helplessness (as someone who had always been so independent, I felt reliant, incapable and weak) and the horrible pretence (‘Yes, haven’t I done amazingly well overcoming the physical illness I had, but I’m not going to admit to you that my mind is being a complete traitor right now by trying convince me to kill myself…’), you’ll understand that any escape, be that in the form of medication or otherwise, is hugely needed.
So I took the medication. And attended CBT. And had to admit to my practice Life Coaching clients at the time that I wasn’t in a fit state to be helping them with their own mindsets and would need to put our practice sessions on hold for a while. Fortunately they were all very understanding. The medication kicked in and started to improve my mood within a month or so and within 3 months I was able to start holding my practice sessions and slowly continue with my qualification whilst managing my frustrating, but thankfully no longer suicide inducing, fatigue.
The huge change in my recovery came when I discovered and attended a course called ‘The Phil Parker Lightning Process’ in Sept 2017. I cannot recommend this enough to anyone suffering from any form of Fatigue. To the extent that I intend on becoming a qualified Lightning Process practitioner at some stage in the future. In a nutshell, it is a training course that focuses on the science behind how the brain and body interact; it gives you powerful tools to use this brain-body link to influence your health and life. The tools involve gentle movement, meditation-like techniques and mental exercises. With practise you can use them to change the way your nervous system works, switching on pathways which promote health and switching off ones which aren’t so good for you.
By the end of the 3 day course I was well on my way to curing myself of fatigue (it took about another few weeks of practicing the techniques morning and night to get there 100%). I booked to see my GP to come off the antidepressants the day after the course, weaned myself off them and went on to pass my Life Coaching qualification with a Distinction on 2nd Nov 2017.
Outwardly, now I'm back to full health again, I look just the same as I ever did. However, internally I’m a totally different person and, as strange as it may sound, I’m so appreciative of the journey I've been on to achieve this!!
I have a new found/re-found passion and drive for life. And, most importantly, an overwhelming drive to share with people all that I’ve learnt and experienced in terms of the immense power of our minds. How much of a MONUMENTAL role our minds, and specifically the beliefs we hold about ourselves, play in what we achieve in our lives!!
Whether negative or positive, what we BELIEVE underpins everything we do and the outcomes we get as a result of that belief. When I lost my ability to believe in myself and think positively about my future was when I found myself in the most trouble…
So what have been my biggest transformations since learning about Life Coaching…?
Before Life Coaching it would be fair to say I was a bit of a 'People Pleaser'. I hated conflict and desperately wanted to be liked. I was also hugely unconfident. This combined with my ability to read people was totally crippling me.
You see, life for me is all about emotions. I cannot function purely on a ‘task-level’, everything impacts on other people and therefore has an emotional element attached to it. Or at least this is my perspective of human life.
Being this way can be a gift and I’ve discovered there’s a term for people like me. I’m an Empath. Before you get carried away and think I have magic powers I don’t, I’m not psychic or anything as talented as that. I just feel people’s emotions, I instinctively know if people are being genuine or putting on a front to mask an underlying emotion, I feel the atmosphere in rooms change when people with things troubling them come in. I now know this is what makes me a fantastic coach!
However, prior to working with my Life Coach this ‘gift’ was suffocating me. I had got to a place of inertia as I was so afraid of what I was reading from peoples’ emotions that they used to overwhelm me into silence.
Working with my Life Coach helped me learn how to harness this gift. To be able to tune in to people’s feelings, trust what I was picking up on, not fear judgement or rejection but be able to ask them the right questions to help them achieve the best in their lives. This is the best feeling in the world to me! (Well, after being a Mummy, anyway ☺) And I want to help others experience this too!
If you were to ask me to list the transformations I have seen in myself they would be:
I feel fulfilled on a daily basis. This is such an immense feeling!! I know now that my life purpose is to help others by the power of personal interaction and I’m so grateful to have found a vocation that allows me to do exactly that!
I feel inspired by what I do. I can’t get enough of it!
I am faaaaar more confident.
I am able to depersonalise situations and let go of things more easily (I was previously making myself feel guilty for situations I had no part in), I am now therefore much more resilient in difficult situations.
I have much more clarity; I trust my gut instinct and follow the signs my intuition provides me with.
I am able to make decisions without being stuck worrying about the ‘what ifs’ forever anymore.
I am far calmer. This may sound a bit ‘zen’ but my stress levels have drastically reduced.
I feel more in control of my life and emotions.
I am generally happier and more grateful.
So that’s me, with the help of a Life Coach, I’ve found and am fulfilling my life purpose and would absolutely love to help you do the same!
My journey has not only enabled me to grow in all the ways I've mentioned above but it has given me first-hand experience of the true power our minds and beliefs have in everything that we do and achieve. I cannot stress enough how much of an impact the thoughts you are having (bearing in mind we have between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day) have on the outcomes you achieve in your life.
Your mind drives everything you do. How you feel in any given moment dictates how you respond to the situation you’re in at that moment. Which either takes you closer to where you want to be in life, or further away. Becoming more conscious of your thoughts is the key to living the life you want to live.
It is SO simple to train yourself to become aware of your thoughts and think differently, once you've been shown how. This will enable you to live a happier, more intentional and purposeful life than you are now.
I have a fundamental belief that everyone is capable of change, if they want to, but understand how personally challenging this can be. Especially when you feel lost and don’t know which direction to focus on for the better, let alone knowing how to start moving forward.
My desire is to guide others through this transformation process to save them from living their life feeling 'stuck', lost or overwhelmed.
Please don’t wait until you end up in hospital for 3 months or get pushed to the edge by life as I did in 2016… if you want change, do it now!