Breaking Point: #9

A word from Laura:  I want to thank everybody for their vulnerability—my favorite quality.  Your Breaking Point stories are stunning.  Since this series ends on the first day of Spring, I am closing submissions.  But I encourage all of you to consider doing this exercise for your own personal growth.  The people who have shared their breaking point stories at These Here Hills tell me that it was a powerful and healing experience going back to a time that was so painful, and seeing how out of it…they grew into the people they are.  That is good news.  It means that we use pain.  It’s not wasted.  So wherever you are in your life, remember that.  Fasten it to your heart in those early morning hours as you lie awake worrying about the future, feeling shameful about the past, feeling that fight or flight buzz in your stomach that just won’t quit.  You are not alone.  Know that life is ever-changing.  That you can count on.  Have a great weekend!  I will continue to post the already submitted Breaking Point stories until March 20th, so stay tuned for more.  I hope they are helping you. 

Yrs. Laura

Submitted by: Sue Engle, who blogs here.

I turned my back on a 30-year career in Information Technology last year, after yet another “good job” disappeared. I’ve been struggling with this for a long time.  I have a degree in Writing and Editing, and I used it to make my living through business analysis and technical writing, moving my prose from my right brain to my left – from creativity to technology. But it was never the way I actually thought and approached life. It became more and more a struggle to force myself to think logically rather than intuitively. I was fighting myself every day I showed up at work.

The places I looked for a different path during this 30 years were concentrated on the spiritual and psychological – graduate school in counseling, seminary, religious education, developing a web site to provide a life planning service, extensive reading in psychology and spirituality, and active prayer and mediation practice. All of these brought me closer, but none of them completely filled the hole, the drive.

The whole process of learning I had finally left technology took longer than I thought… nearly six months. It was a hard mindset to leave behind. For a few months, I kept thinking I could go back part-time, or do certain tasks that didn’t trigger complete revulsion. Some position that I could use to fund my next life, fill the chinks in the budget that was being destroyed by living on unemployment. What triggered the switch was an interview where I didn’t get the IT job…actually, both the manager and I agreed I wasn’t the right fit. But he was impressed enough by my resume and attitude that he wanted to try to find a spot for me. I thanked him and came home to begin eating my way through the house, even though I’d finally been able to bring my appetite down over the last couple of months and had lost about five pounds. I realized that I was in the middle of a panic attack over the thought of going back to technology, and I knew I was done.

So what could I do? I’d been playing around with the idea of life coaching for a while. For years, co-workers had teased me about the “couch” installed in my office, where there was usually someone parked a couple times a week telling me about their problems. Not exactly a service most technical staff listed on their resumes, but definitely a hallmark of mine. This is what led me into a year of grad school in counseling, but I realized that I didn’t want to spend years letting people chew on their histories – I was far too results-oriented to give that much time to it. I worked too hard on understanding and getting beyond my own past to live in someone else’s story.

Thus the appeal of life coaching, once I found out about it. At one point a friend and I started talking about writing a book together one day, which morphed to developing a series of workshops, then a web site to offer a life planning service. We knew we needed content for the site and as the writer, that became my arena. I began writing from my right brain again on life transitions, and discovered pure joy and the more I wrote, the wiser I became. My own “aha!” moments led to insight I could communicate to all. Once this business was put aside, I knew this was content I could mine for my own site.

But it was so hard to get started.  I was unemployed, and I wasn’t bringing in enough income to cover the bills. At times I was absolutely paralyzed with fear over my prospects. I knew I was following my calling, but how was I going to manage it on no money?  And what should I do first? I couldn’t get past the starting gate.

Then I won a three-month membership in a group for prospective coaches, which included free coaching.  The encouragement inched me a little further forward. I worked out a deal with a friend to do some mutual coaching. A neighbor needed some coaching. But money still wasn’t coming in and I wasn’t writing, either. I worked a part-time temp job to help out a little, but it fell through just before the holidays. Bills were piling up, but somehow I was getting by.

I had a friend come over for the weekend to give both of us some distraction. I moaned for an hour, then she’d had enough. She set my woes to a cheesy C&W tune and through laughter, convinced me that I was born to do this work. Then we brainstormed names, taglines, and themes the rest of the night. The next day, she papered my house in encouraging sticky notes while I was away. I just found another one yesterday!

Later in the week, I was past due on the car and the rent, too. I was panicky again, looking around at my furniture to see what I could sell. Then I realized I had $25 on a credit card I’d forgotten. I could spend it on food, a bill, or I could get started on my life. I got busy, centered myself, and quit panicking.

Nine hours later, I had settled on a domain name, set up a basic web site, ordered cards, set up my blog, written the first blog post, and updated my online profiles. I started putting out blog posts three times weekly. Then the miracles started pouring in. I won marketing tools, more free coaching, and even was published online within two weeks of starting my blog! Money started trickling in; still not enough to pay all the outstanding debt, but enough to keep me going.

Two months later, I’m still seeing serendipity every time I move further forward on my path. If I veer, possibilities dry up and fall away. It’s still chancy… I don’t know anymore where I’ll be in a month and what I’ll have, but I know beyond any doubt I will have what I am building and more. I am flying further every day, soaring on miracles.



Filed under Breaking Point, My Posts

6 Responses to Breaking Point: #9

  1. Heather

    I love the last line: “I am flying further every day, soaring on miracles.” How inspiring to know that when you follow ‘your path’ the miracles are there for you to use….Blessings to you, Sue! May you continue soaring on miracles and inspiring others to do the same! And, Laura, thank you for allowing all these authors to use your blog to bring about our continue their healing! All the best!

    Heather Schultz

    • Thank you for your well wishes, Heather! This is almost without doubt the scariest thing I’ve ever done (and I include raising a child totally on my own in that), but along with raising my child, I can tell it will be the most fulfilling activity of my life.

      The miracles appear as you take the risk to totally be yourself and own your true path in life. And while this is scarier than just about anything else you can do, as you go further you know more deeply exactly what it is you can do and what miracles you can bring with you.

  2. Alison

    You’re so inspiring. I always wanted to have the nerve to jump off a cliff into the unknown, as you have, but I haven’t done it yet. Congrats in having the chutzpah to believe in yourself when others would have quit, and how wonderful that it’s begun to pay off!

    • Thank you, Alison. The funny thing is that I really do believe that I have been given this chance over and over again with all the unemployment I’ve had. Every time it’s happened — and it got to the point where I almost could predict it — I ended up on my couch, reading as much spiritual literature as I could soak up, and occasionally writing myself into a stupor. That was what I was driven to do to help the pain and agony of the limbo I was in.

      What I did differently this time was listen to myself and lean into the limbo to see what it held for me. I acknowledged the pain and agony of going back to my former career, I admitted what I truly love to do, and I began to pay attention to what calls me. If my gut says “no”, I listen.

      It’s scary, I can’t lie about that, and I don’t know what’s next. I’m interviewing candidates to share my house to help with expenses and I sold my car to get out from under the loan. But no car, no house, no furniture can possibly equal the fulfillment I get from following this dream. And that’s what counts in the end.

  3. Sally Engle

    So proud of you. So proud to be able to call you family and friend. This journey of yours has been a long time coming and life has prepared you. It is such an inspiration to others that you are sharing the journey, what you have learned, your insights. I know I don’t comment enough, but I read and I learn. Keep writing, Sue. I will be reading .

    • Thank you always for your encouragement, Sally. Knowing that at least one of the family is on the other end of the line is so gratifying, I can’t even begin to tell you.

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