Why I Became a Life Coach
1976: I Am Late to Mrs. Kane’s Typing Class
And there’s just one unclaimed typewriter left—a dud with the keys painted over with Wite-Out so I can’t possibly cheat. Dammit. Against all odds, I learn to type like the wind.
Life Lesson #1: Be on time. Or learn to type.
1981: I Choose My Degree…Poorly
I pursue a B.S. in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry at Yale, a major I've chosen solely for its "wow" factor. Everything about it is hard and not fun. My creative writing seminars, in contrast, are easy and a total blast, but I don't have the courage to switch majors. After graduation, I use my typing skills to get a job at Scribner’s as an editorial assistant. Hot doggies, I’m getting paid to read books and edit them, something I’ve loved since I’d worked at a publisher during high school, where I made $175 a week. I open my first paycheck: I’m making $175 a week. Couldn’t I have eliminated the middleman somewhere?
Life Lesson #2: A tinch of self-awareness might save you some grief. Oh, and seriously, dude, learn to type.
1996: I Meet My Mentor
“I think you need one of these,” reads the note accompanying a tiny, perfectly detailed resin turtle sent by my new author, Martha Beck. I’m an executive editor at Times Books/Random House when I buy publishing rights to this brilliant author’s new book: Breaking Point: Why Women Fall Apart and How They Can Re-create Their Lives. Martha intuits that I need the turtle’s credo for success: go slow and steady, pull your head in when you need to, stay tough on the outside and tender on the inside. Our editorial work together blossoms into one of my dearest friendships, one that takes us from trolling the mean streets of Phoenix shopping for tally counters so we can see how often we laugh (you had to be there) to horse whispering adventures in Montana to the magical Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa and beyond.
Life Lesson #3: Stick with friends who share your passion for the perfect margarita.
1999: I Nag My Mentor
Despite the fact that my publishing company puts the world’s most butt-ugly cover on Breaking Point and markets it with all the zest of an ad campaign for reclaimed hair plugs, Martha allows me to edit her luminous memoir, Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic. When we wrap up editing, I urge her to “grow her platform” by publishing magazine articles and writing a new book proposal. “I have the perfect bribe for you,” I tell her, “But you won’t get it until you write that article.” My secret reward for her is a beautiful sterling silver turtle pendant I’ve found at the bottom of my jewelry box; inside its tiny carapace is a wee compass. (To this day, I don’t know where this piece of jewelry came from.) After months of nagging, Martha tells me she’s written the article—and based her new proposal on it. The packages--her proposal and my secret turtle--cross in the mail. When I open the package and read the proposal, my neck hair stands on end. It’s about Martha’s seminal life coaching book, Finding Your Own North Star, and it’s all about turtles and compasses. Cue the woo-woo music.
Life Lesson #4: Accept—and allow—that life is full of everyday magic.
2002: Good/Bad Day At Black Rock
Uh-oh, it’s layoff time at Random House. I’m given a choice: take a golden parachute or go part-time. Luckily, because I’d edited Finding Your Own North Star, I find the courage to go into business for myself. Random House issues me a final check; the stub reads “Terminal Vacation”. (You can read my essay about this experience on The Huffington Post here: ) After three months of 3:00 am panic attacks, where I clutch my husband and wail “Waves of shame! Waves of shame!” I realize that becoming a full-time freelancer is the best decision I’ve ever made.
Life Lesson #5: Follow Your North Star. And keep your check stubs.
2004: I Become a Martha Beck Life Coach
I keep following my North Star and receive my certification as a life coach. I love love love helping other folks find their right lives.
Life Lesson #6: Live your right life; you’re more helpful that way.
2007: I Get My Hospice Training
My beloved mom dies in 2005 after a very brief illness. I get hospice training to honor her and the amazing men and women who helped her find peace in her last few weeks. Today, as a hospice volunteer, I visit with folks facing their own deaths. We hang out, talk, pray, sing, moan about the Mets—whatever matters to them.
Life Lesson#7: It’s worth contemplating: When your world shrinks down to a bed and a bulletin board with some Get Well cards, what matters most?
2010: Master Life Coach Certification
I complete my master certification and step into more magic: writing/coaching retreats, shaman nature retreats, JoyQuesters. I get to help folks while barefoot and swanning around in yoga pants. Life is joy.
Life Lesson #8: The more joy I find in my own life, the more joy I’m able to help others find.