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.
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.