What’s your story?
it all started with being hospitalized with writer’s block
While lying in the emergency department with a panic attack from writer’s block during my PhD comps—heavily medicated and being informed that “no, you’re not having a heart attack”—I could have never imagined that I’d one day be helping others with writing. No way, no how.
Here’s the thing (and this ain’t no humble-brag): I had already published, written successful grants, achieved a $100,000 national scholarship, and had amazingly supportive supervisors when I was hospitalized. There was nothing on paper that suggested that I didn’t know how to write.
I knew what I needed to do; I just couldn’t implement what I needed to do.
I felt like a fraud to the point of being crippled, unable to move forward. Writer’s block took me down. And it sure didn’t feel like “it’ll all be okay” as the emerg doc suggested.
Here’s the truth:
At some point, working 80+ hours a week year-round seemed normal (everyone around me was doing the same thing). So did numbing out with wine.
I was so focused on my work that The Voice—that wise, intuitive, compassionate Voice—was completely drowned out by a continual sense of urgency to do more, faster and better.
In this state of survival and achieve-at-all-costs, I made brutal choices and ignored my gut. Some of that led to my divorce during my PhD (so…was just a bit stressed about relocating and creating a new life). Other times it led to me to work to exhaustion for other peoples’ priorities and to continue down a path that had nothing to do with my real values and interests.
Writer’s block was a by-product of my emotional chaos, a story about how people would find out that I didn’t have what it takes, that my work was crap, that others would judge me harshly for what I was putting out there, that I wasn’t enough.
The inner work
You know what saved me from all that chaos: a mentor who really cared, lots of therapy, meditation, and a shit-ton of internal work.
I realized that my MO was to keep myself small and pretend that I wasn’t struggling; to always look for ways to get gold stars from people around me; to constantly look for the best way to do things to avoid failure or humiliation. Positivity wasn’t the way to happiness, nor was complaining.
Instead, I recognized that the negative stories and thoughts that played out in my mind weren’t actually ME, and that recognition offered the space to CHOOSE who I wanted to be and how I wanted to feel in that moment. That’s power!
When I learned to get out of my own way (that is, quit listening and believing those shit stories to be true), I became crazy productive while working less!!! The procrastination started dying out with the stories, which meant work hours were laser focused.
By working less, I finally had spaciousness for an incredible life built on gratitude, making a contribution, date nights, laptop-free vacations, travel, sleep, and beautiful friendships.
now life’s about making an impact by serving others
As I was creating this new me, I transitioned into working within a research development unit where I was seeing brilliant, passionate researchers who weren’t as productive as they wanted to be.
However, tearful chats in my office revealed that they had the same internal struggles that I knew to my core. What they really needed (beyond learning some key skills) was ongoing intensive support, a cheerleader, a BS detector, and someone to help convince them to say “no” more often (and how to deal with the fallout). They wanted to know “What’s normal?”
I’m became a certified performance coach to better support the trainees and faculty who were coming to my office overwhelmed, deflated, and knew they wanted more from their careers and their lives.
And now I’m excited to support even more aspiring researchers because I can make exponential changes in the world by impacting even one researcher who is willing to step up and shine!
I don’t have all the answers and am a work in progress, but that doesn’t stop from me helping you find your answers and your Voice.