I was all alone, sitting in my corporate Director’s office, more than 3,000 miles and a flight away from Ireland. Reeling from the devastating death of my father weeks earlier, I wondered what in the world I was doing with my life. There is something about the sudden death of a loved one, that feeling of loss has the ability to shock you out of your system and plunge you into the wilderness. Tears were streaming down my face; my next meeting was in 10 minutes and I didn’t know how I was going to compose myself. Unexpectedly, and to my relief, the meeting got canceled. It was close to lunchtime, so I gathered my coat, packed my bag and went outside. I went to my favorite thinking spot, tucked out of the way, an unfrequented picnic table under a tree. I sat there drowning in my despair and heartache. Words cannot express the loss I felt, the tsunami of emotions crashing over me, the incomprehension of what had occurred and the realization that my world had literally fallen apart. I didn’t know how I was going to piece my life back together again.
I was still in recovery from my divorce a couple of years earlier, on the back of which, I relocated from Switzerland to New York to start a new chapter. I was just about feeling some resemblance of my old self. Although the scars of my divorce were still present, I felt a connection to my new life, through good friends and new experiences. Living across the Hudson River from New York City had worked its magic; I latched onto the fervent energy and allowed it to propel me forward. The noise, the traffic, the sights, the smells, the diversity of its life-force soon became familiar. The abundance of everything I could possibly want and things I didn’t even know existed was all available on-demand. This lifestyle was so far removed from my upbringing in a small town in Ireland, yet the welcome I received due to the privilege of my heritage was comforting. I experienced a positive association with being Irish in New York. I felt, from many, a huge affinity for Ireland and its culture.
I had left Ireland 9 years earlier and until that moment in my life, I had not felt the urge to return. Suddenly, it made sense to me. Ireland was where I needed to be and the only thing that was going to comfort me at this moment was being with my loved ones on my home turf. Thankfully, my employer was understanding and my work was portable, so I returned to Ireland for a month and worked remotely. At the time, it didn’t occur to me to take a leave of absence. Although my work was a distraction, it was one that served me well after my divorce as the more I worked the less time and energy I had to focus on recovering myself. It became a pain management strategy until I couldn’t avoid it any longer.
Returning back to New York, I felt stronger yet still unsettled, but I realized that it was up to me to figure out what to do in my own time. I toyed with the idea of making a radical change, packing up my life and heading off to explore the world. This idea seemed appealing to my sense of adventure. However, I decided to hold onto the stability of the familiar as long as I could, having received the advice that making life-changing decisions while in the depths of the grieving process would unravel me further. I sensed it would be best to wait to explore that part of my life until the time felt right.
Serendipity aligned with divine timing. I found myself in a leadership development program, sponsored through work, that had the benefit of having a coach assigned to me. From a pool of coaches, I matched with my first choice, Eve Simon, founder of Inspiration Without Borders, co-located in Düsseldorf and San Francisco. I was drawn to Eve’s expertise as a Coach and her love of building bridges between ‘inside and outside the box’ thinking – integrating an extraordinary creative ‘toolbox’, state of the art subjects such as mindfulness, diversity ,and design thinking to find new ways for you to thrive and succeed.
Up to this point, I had worked with a couple of different executive coaches in a team building context. I found them invaluable at navigating team dynamics and uncovering potential opportunities and threats to the team while facilitating the conversation around success factors and commitments that would enable the team to succeed. I wondered how it would be different to work with a coach on a one to one level.
In my first session with Eve, I found out that the approach was to look at all aspects of my life in the context of thriving at work. She was curious about all the challenges I was facing, not just about those at work. She made me realize that running on the empty outside of work would not enable me to thrive at work. I confided in her about my yearning to pack up my life and go to the other side of the World; New Zealand was top of my destination list. On the surface it looked like it was escapism, moving away and going somewhere new, leaving the past behind, something I had already had experience with. With Eve’s help, I unpacked what was underneath my longing, it turned out to be the draw of the power of the magnificent of nature. I discovered I had a primitive need to connect with it. Coming from Ireland via Switzerland, where nature was on my doorstep, I was missing the nourishment my soul needed.
I realized that urban life was taking its toll on me, I was lacking the restorative power supply of being immersed in nature, getting away from the demands of my job and recharging. Eve coached me into realizing that what I was yearning for was available to me, much closer than I had imagined if I sought it out. She encouraged me to explore what the state of New York had to offer and to my amazement only 2 hours away, I found a strong connection to the Catskills mountain area. I experienced a sense of homecoming, it turned out that these lands were prevalent to the Irish in times gone by and some areas were even dubbed the Irish Catskill. The lands had served a very specific purpose as a place where the Irish held onto their heritage, even as they were consciously assimilating, and where Americans went to if they wanted to be Irish.
Even if I did not go to the Catskills purposefully to seek out an Irish connection, it was a positive association and soon I found myself wanting to spend all my free time up there I loved hiking the mountain trails and exploring the towns nestled in the valleys. I loved the slower pace of life, the feeling of getting away from it all and letting the stress of the week melt away and be replaced by a higher vibration of peace, tranquility, and solitude of nature. My spirits soared and I felt connected to a higher power, an eternal life force of the universe. Soon I realized that it was time to make a permanent lifestyle change to further my own personal development. I swapped my expensive trendy brownstone apartment for a rural Catskill cabin on the weekends and a small crash pad apartment in a suburban area closer to work during the week. This decision set me on the path to spiritual recovery and to eventually becoming a coach myself.
The trusting coaching relationship co-created with Eve, was life-changing for me and it showed up at my time of dire need. It helped me overcome my grief and showed me possibilities that I didn’t even imagine. Through Eve I was introduced to mindfulness practices, another essential component of my life today that was unfamiliar to me back then. I gained so many insights through the work I did with Eve that led me to becoming a more conscious leader and to obtain the illustrious work-life balance that had been absent for too long. In becoming more present with my emotions and underlying needs, I changed my outlook on life for the positive and as a result all my relationships in my life prospered, particularly the relationship I had to myself. I gained more vitality that helped me cope with the high workload, I no longer felt constantly drained, in fact I felt more alive than ever and this gave me the capacity to be able to effectively deal and take charge of other changes that were coming down the line.
My relationship with Eve continued after the coaching sessions ended. A couple of years later, I was invited by Eve to participate in her female leadership coaching retreat in Silicon Valley and San Francisco that stimulated huge personal growth and awakened new possibilities leading to other life changing decisions. Check out https://www.ladies-lead.com/for more information and I will elaborate more of my experience in another post to come. Suffice to say that without a doubt I have experienced amazing personal breakthroughs and success through this and subsequent coaching relationships that I have entered at other pivotal points in my life.
Working within a coaching relationship can have enormous positive impact and transform your life. Transformation is a process of profound and radical change that arises from a deep awareness and leads to fresh orientation and new direction. Coaching for transformation requires you to be willing to trust in the power of the coaching relationship and open yourself up to deeply examine what is underneath, that needs to surface in order for you to overcome and thrive in all areas of your life.
The coaching relationship creates the container and space for a new life purpose to be birthed. Transformation happens when we are deeply seen, heard and recognized for the gifts we bring to the world. I believe we all come into the world with gifts that align with our soul purpose and it is through recognizing and honoring the essence of these gifts that we become more of who we are destined to be in the world.
Are you ready to transform your life and live your true soul purpose? Sign up for an exploratory consultation today to discover more about how the coaching process can transform your life.