I drove down a familiar road with my eyes watching the speedometer. I was late for my therapy session and completely distracted by my life's chaos -- juggling kids, a career change and a struggling marriage. Plus I was working on a song that gave voice to what I was feeling, but that also took over whatever was left of my brain cells. I've gotten all of my speeding tickets in this absent-minded state. As I should have. It's a safety hazard.
"LIFE IS A CAROUSEL
YOU PICK YOUR RIDE AND YOU STAY UP THERE... " I sang loudly in my car, tweaking the words and the melody each time.
"SMILE BIG, AROUND AND AROUND," I stopped at the red light and gave a big fake smile into the visor mirror.
"... WHEN IT STOPS YOU'LL HAVE TO STEP DOWN..." I made a left turn on auto-pilot, feeling resigned.
I pulled into an empty parking space and sighed. I had written another song about being stuck. I was late to my therapy session again, I didn't want to be there -- or in that town. But hey, at least I didn't get a speeding ticket.
"Will I ever be able to change my old patterns and get off of the mind-numbing spinning platform?" I asked my therapist Cheryl. "What's wrong with me?"
She smiled gently and said in a calming voice that nothing was wrong with me, that I should look into getting an assistant, a business consultant, and a marriage therapist. She did a great job of getting me through a period of bad depression and anxiety, but now, it was time to release me back into life. I felt like a bird whose wing had been fixed, but was not yet strong enough to lift her off the ground.
The moment I stepped out of her office I scrolled through my contacts looking for another... therapist.
I met Fran during my marriage separation. I remembered her saying something like "the bridge behind you is broken; let's build the path ahead." She was a clinical counselor and a coach.
Fran didn't take insurance for her counseling sessions, but she did offer an online coaching package which worked for me not only financially, but also because I could do it late at night when my kids were sleeping, on the road when I was traveling with my concerts, and even on my walks, as I set Siri to speak Coach Fran's responses back to me. She warned me that it wasn't the same as counseling, but assured me that she'd let me know if I needed to go back to it.
I didn't want to go back. I wanted learn to be present and move forward.
Fran opened the doors of life-coaching to me. Without the pressure of a ticking clock, I was free to explore the shadows and dark corners of my past. She patiently read through the thoughts I sent her, made me feel heard and guided me back onto my path and toward my goal of creating a life that would allow me to "soar again."
This wasn't about something being 'wrong with me' and my need to be 'fixed.' It was about me being able and perfectly capable of taking charge of my life. And in the process of taking small steps toward a goal that made me feel alive and excited inside, I was continuing to heal.
Fast-forward a few short years... I am soaring again.
I wake up every morning thanking God and all of the universe for being exactly where I am. I love the town we moved to, my kids are thriving and happy, my depression and anxiety are gone, I am no longer afraid to launch and produce different projects, and my husband and I learned how to argue without fighting. No, I didn't win the lottery or create an incredible financial success, but that has nothing to do with my happiness anyway.
I sit at "O" Gallery in Nashville's Marathon Village to interview Dez Stephens for Waking Up in America -- a TV show which has been a huge challenge for me to produce, but that has also helped me and many of my viewers unpack and understand what makes us stuck in life, why some people wait till a turning point 'happens' to them, and why some people are able to move on from life's hardest situations and emerge as game changers and community leaders.
Dez and I talk about how a life coach can help us through life's challenges, struggles and transformations, and about how life coaches are different than mentors and friends. We do a sample coaching session which gets a little bit personal, and she tells me about the turning point in her life that allowed her to shift into her role as one of the leading coach trainers in central Tennessee. She brought along her friends Nancy Moran and Fett to perform an uplifting song called "Unconditional Love," and we smile and let our feet and hearts dance to the music.
But my favorite part of our conversation is talking about Dez's global outreach.
Recently, Dez trained 50 women in Honduras to be life coaches, and is scheduled to train even more in Panama, Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Croatia.
"I visited there three years ago and I noticed that women don't have opportunity. Hondurans live, on average, on a $1 a day, U.S. So I thought, they could coach online. They could coach tourists. They could coach their communities."
When Dez returned later to conduct the life coach training, she was encouraged by her efforts to create opportunities for these women, who could now call themselves 'entrepreneurs' -- something that's less common for women there than it is in the U.S. She decided to volunteer a portion of her time and expertise each year to train and certify new coaches around the globe.
I drive away from our interview filled with excitement, my mind painting a picture of 50 women in Honduras coaching hundreds of others. Every one becoming a version of my coach Fran in someone else's life, helping others to get unstuck, move away from their 'broken' selves, find the confidence to soar and become game changers, social entrepreneurs, helpers, and soul-based business owners in their own communities.
I can see a picture of a globe covered in a net of little lights, each one representing a life coach doing their work.
I look at the road ahead of me and notice that I'm driving exactly the speed limit. I smile with gratitude and sing something that might become the first line of a new song: "THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN'T DO..."
Dez Stephens is the founder of the Radiant Health Institute and the developer of its Holistic Coach training program, which is certified as 65 hours of Approved Coach Specific Training Hours by the International Coach Federation. Her Radiant Global Outreach program is a philanthropic division of the Institute.
Disclaimer: I did not receive any discounts, payments or free services in the process of writing this blog.