When I made an agreement to start living an authentic life, my whole life changed.
But it’s not that the skies parted and everything became gloriously easy. In fact, I ended up experiencing one of the hardest years of my life. And it all started with leaving my job, a job I had gone back to four times.
I was stressed out and exhausted working as a massage therapist who also managed 24 technicians in the spa department. I was worn out going from corporate meetings to the treatment room. Whatever feelings came up during a meeting needed to be stuffed before I saw my first client so I could be present for them. From frazzled to zen. I had a ton of responsibility and no power. I was so frustrated going back and forth between technicians and corporate that some days I wanted to just throw my hands up and say “you all just sit in a room together until this is worked out”. It’s hard to see both sides of the story and feel like you need to pick one, but you know you’re gonna feel like a traitor to someone. My husband and I worked opposite schedules so one of us could be present with the kids. We rarely had time for each other and our family time was paired down to every-other weekend. Talk about pressure for everyone to get along during family time! And yet, I was telling myself this is just how it is. This is how it is for every working mother, and this is what I had to do so I just needed to suck it up.
I had enrolled in the Martha Beck Institute life coach training program, and one of the first agreements we made is to start being authentic and honest. Now, when I say honest, it’s more than just not telling a lie. I mean being honest with my thoughts and what stories my thoughts were creating. And by authentic I mean paying attention to the physical and emotional feelings my thoughts were creating, and following the ones that made me feel serenity and joy. When I started acknowledging the lies I was telling myself, the stories I was creating that were not true, a whole new space opened up for me to walk through. I started to chose my sanity and my integrity.
Whoa, just like that?
No, this was a struggle.
Here’s the reason why I went back to work at this spa so many times: I love the people I used to work with. The corporate office and the technicians are some of the most caring, talented and creative professionals I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. I enjoyed the camaraderie and felt safe knowing that someone had my back whether it was a technician or someone from the corporate office.
And here’s the other thing – I was good at my job. I had been a licensed massage therapist for 18 years, and still had clients regularly tell me it was the best massage they’d ever had. And I was good at managing, too. I had a solid understanding of our numbers and business goals, what needed to be done for us to reach the next level and could communicate effectively between both worlds.
And I burned out. Done. I don’t think I’ll ever give another massage and I definitely don’t want to work in a corporate environment ever again.
During the time I was working and in life coach training I started having a lot of anxiety which I frequently experienced as a pit in my stomach. One day, I started thinking “maybe I should have a drink after work, that’ll help the stress”. Then another day I thought “maybe I should start smoking again”.
Whoa. Lightbulb moment. Time to leave.
During a coaching session with a fellow classmate, I had a moment of clarity. I wish I could remember the exact thought I was struggling with, but I do remember when we turned it around a few times, I felt free. And I felt free to move forward with my life. I wanted to embrace what was already there for me, to start being present in my life and follow what I know to be true for myself.
And so I did.
I wish I could tell you that everything was easy peasy once I made this decision. In fact, quite the opposite is true as the year that followed was one of the hardest I’ve ever been through. But once I agreed to live an honest and authentic life I was able to start replacing the messy thoughts that are brought on by stress and hardship with clarity. And clarity helped me change my life by one degree.