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The Power of Journaling

I remember cleaning my garage after my son was born. I was 40 years old, standing in the middle of the garage with years of journals from my teens through my 30’s. I realized that I had achieved a good deal of my dreams and that journaling had given me the space to work through what I wanted in life, helped me process breakups, job changes, decisions on if to travel the world, sell my house, settle down and have a child. Journaling was a tool for me to know and understand what I wanted for my life and also it was an outlet to process the confusion and sometimes the pain that life brings.

Which brings me to work and journalling. We spend more time at work than anywhere else and work can be filled with great opportunity while also bringing stress and anxiety into our lives. Let’s face it, nobody teaches us that both work and life have peaks and valleys to navigate. And for sure nobody ever sat me down and taught me how to process my stress. When my mom was stressed she yelled and smoked. That’s how she dealt with her stress and that’s how I learned to deal with my stress. I thought that was how it went.

The idea processing my stress happened when my boss walked over to me. He had always given me a hard time for smoking and he leaned in, sniffed the awful sent of stale smoke and asked, “When are you going to stop smoking?” Embarrassed, I looked at him honestly and said, “When I figure out how to deal with the stress.” I knew that there had to be a way.

I have a tough job, I take care of a lot of people. My boss was exacting and operated at a level of excellence that most people would not hold up to. He drove all of his executives hard and we were really at the top of our game. I noticed we all suffered from stress and each person held it a different way. Some execs ate, some yelled, some drank. Most had an unhealthy form of stress release. One yelled and boxed, which probably kept him going longer than any of the other execs I knew at the time.

I could see stress building in co-workers until small frustrations turn to resentment. Then resentment begins to lead to anger and after years it becomes bitterness. It can also lead oneself to turn it inward, doubting their ability and capacity to do the job – no matter how good they are. This was the most heartbreaking.

When you doubt your capabilities it is inevitable that you begin making mistakes. When you start making mistakes it’s hard to come back from that because you start to want to leave the job you are in. There’s a dissatisfaction that sets in and most people give their notice. Then the executive leaves our company only to go to another company and burn out there. They hadn’t realized that the reason wasn’t the job, it was who we are in the job.

The best way to explain it is to liken a job to a diet. You start off strong, only to see progress stall out and then you’re off looking for another diet to try. You move from counting points to not eating bread to juicing. Then, at some point, you begin to think that you are the failure and it will never happen for you. I am here to tell you that you are wrong, you are not the failure.

This is where journaling is most effective. Instead of turning the thoughts over and over in your mind, you can take time to journal and lay your thoughts bare on the page. You can become the witness to your thoughts instead of being held captive by them. That’s where the magic is, when you start to unravel the patterns.

When you are able to see who you are, understand what feelings you are holding and see your stories then you begin to heal. During my journal session I sometimes felt like I was 16 again. I saw that I was having the same problems with management that I had gone through with my high school teachers and I started seeing a lot of my problems had to do with me and my issues. As my patterns started to reveal themselves through journaling I was able to pick out the stories that my mind was creating. As a kid I had always felt like like I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t smart or popular…and these were the same stories my mind was playing out at work.

Journaling gave me the time for me to sort out what was real and what was imagined. I continued to go to work everyday knowing something was off. I love to work but at some point I started sleeping in, calling in sick or not putting in a full day at work. I went workhorse to worst employee ever and if you asked me at the time, I would have told you it was everything but me.

And that is the secret nobody tells you. Your mind comes up with thoughts that are there to protect you and those thoughts are not always true. That just because you think a thought doesn’t mean you are right. Your mind with twist the situation into your win and when it lies to you is when you hurt the most. If you can’t see the truth you can’t operate fully in your life, let alone at work. You need to go in deep and look at it. Figure out where it came from, poke at it and most of all, you need to give yourself some compassion and space to open the door to what is really happening. That is where you find solutions. That is how you start to come back from burnout.

Before I started to journal, when I started to feel that dissatisfaction I would quit my job, travel for a time and then come back. That all changed when I had a baby and a husband – because I couldn’t just pick up and go shake off the burnout. At a certain point, I couldn’t deal with the stress and my anger built up I stopped trying. I had no idea what was wrong. So I began to journal and ask myself questions I had never asked before. I started to take responsibility for my thoughts, feelings and actions. It was where I learned how to set an intention, it was the first stop on the road to wellness that brought me to meditation and movement.

Journaling helped me understand what value I bring to my career when I bring my full self to the table. I have an ever growing appreciation for my boss, my-coworkers and the people we serve and I love being part of my company. I also know that it was the work I did and that I can now show up to the job the way I choose to show up in life – kind, thoughtful and warm. It is sustainable and built to last.

So start writing and start asking questions!

The Power of Voice

On July 5, 2019 my husband rushed me to the hospital at 4 o’clock in the morning. Struggling to breath and unable to speak, my throat had swollen until my face lacked definition from my neck.

Surgery for a thyroid duct cyst in my throat had become infected due to my poor judgement. At 2:00am I was sitting upright on my couch unable to rest comfortably, hoping to make it through the night and to my doctor’s appointment the next day. By 4:00am I knew I needed a trip to the emergency room and yet i still debated twenty minutes about waking my husband and son for the middle of the night trip.

All of the thoughts running through my head pointed to, “No, let’s not wake him up. I can wait until the morning.” I came up with many reasons but in the end I went to the restroom, looked at my face and neck and truly believed that if I didn’t go to the emergency room I would be dead by morning.

We woke up our kid and jumped in the car.  I was no longer able to speak and had to use sign language to let him know where the hospital was. Even with a July 4th crowd in the emergency room the hospital reception staff took one look at me and admitted me into emergency immediately.

I was in surgery within hours and remained in ICU for three days still unable to speak. That is a lot of time to think in silence.

I now believe that illness can physically manifest in your body as an expression of your mental pain. Looking back at my life, I understand that I was raised in a home where children were to be seen only when helping an adult with a task, and they were not to be heard. It does not surprise me now that this would and did manifest into throat and speech problems as an adult.

I have always been interested in self discovery and the healing arts and I began to study eneI have never stopped. And as I gained the confidence in my own voice, I began to work through all of my beliefs. I began speaking up more at work.  I learned how to use my energy and express my thoughts wisely. With grace and determination I built my self-confidence and was able to speak my truth.

We have an inner voice and then we have our physical voice. I like to think of the voice as the tool of the body used to express the mind. The voice is so incredibly important. It is there to communicate our needs in order to be safe and secure. It is also there to verbalize creativity and to build bonds of community.

If you’ve ever heard a church choir, gone to a concert or listened to poetry being spoken aloud you understand the power of communicating through voice.

Our voices create deep meaning and beauty in this world. When we don’t use them because we

  1. are afraid of what will happen and how people will judge us or
  2. we don’t believe people are listening or want us to even say anything, then
  3. we are living outside of our truth

And now I use my voice to help women, who like me, believe that their voice matters. I help women who don’t understand how to use their voice in the world so that it can be heard. Learning how to speak to power in the workplace creates the opportunity to be the example of how to communicate for your co-workers. 

Your power is when you are speaking from a place of grace, thoughtfulness and warmth.

My intention is to help guide women into their voice and power so that we no longer stop speaking because we think it won’t make a difference.

Why am I the Back from Burnout Coach

I’m the Back from Burnout Coach because I understand what it is like to go to work every day stressed, anxious and unhappy. I started at a labor relations organization in 1998 and with the exception of a couple of “breaks” – referred to as “time off for good behavior” – I’ve been there ever since. Each time I returned to my job I was filled with excitement and high vibe energy but within a year I became anxious and stressed.

Now I understand that it was not the job that needed to change, it was me in the job that required growth. I was trying to balance work with being a wife and mother, class parent and school photographer. I didn’t know how to keep from being overwhelmed and frustrated. I felt rejected and isolated. I didn’t have the capacity to connect with people over fun things and instead I was sarcastic and more than willing to listen to all complaints and gossip. I could not comprehend people who were happy and normal.

When you are burned out it is difficult to create perspective. I continually sought release by envisioning escape – I traveled around the world on long trips – twice. Me escaping was, in truth, a fear response. The fear response is your mind plus thousands of years of ancestral survival training chiming in and telling you to run from the danger. It’s instinctual, habitual and it doesn’t work.

I am here to tell you that you do not need to change anything in your life except to understand that you can change your thoughts about your situation. The mind is just an organ and it throws out thoughts – think of your mind as the sidewalk sign twirler who is hawking the next idea. We can just drive on by and choose not to pay attention or you can decide, “Yeah, that thought works for me”.

You can choose not to believe the thoughts that your co-workers “don’t care” or are “not working hard enough.” The minute that you begin to look at things differently, you create a different response and no longer have an automatic reaction to your life. You can feel better and all those people can keep doing what they are doing. No more complaining into your glass of wine when you get home.

I’ve absolutely had moments where I sat in my car and tried to emotionally brace myself before walking into work. I have been at the place where I wasn’t sleeping, was overeating and over drinking because I hated my life— which, I felt, began with my job. These were symptoms of my dissatisfaction and my lack of ability to handle the stress.

I’ve had conversations with co-workers who have lost all belief that they are even proficient in their jobs. Sitting across from a co-worker listening to her story I realized we mirrored each other with our lack of confidence, tears and wine. We were considered “the best of the best” and had lost faith in ourselves. Stress breeds both physical and mental illness and slowly breaks down our sense of self and our bodies.

Nobody teaches us how to process stress and overwhelm. Nobody sits us down to say that you can move from thinking in circles and stressing about life to processing your thoughts and feelings– creating an intention to feel good.

Nobody teaches us how to heal.

Nobody teaches us how to create boundaries with bosses and co-workers. These are boundaries in conversations so communication is less a stream of consciousness and more of clarity and direction. I hadn’t set my own boundaries on my behavior and personal connection.

With powerful coaching and personal commitment I sought out methods that would heal my burnout and in doing so I discovered excellence. I am committed to spending the rest of my life learning and teaching methods that create healing in both mind and body. 

I support you by helping you gain perspective on your life without judgment, process your thoughts and feelings, clear your emotions, and create clarity in your life. I believe that when you are in tune with who you are – your originality, your creativity, your spirit and even your neuroses –  you are amazing. Your beauty lies in your individuality. In that individuality you will find easy boundaries for yourself and others. Positive energy can expand to create deep connection and value.

I want to help you dissolve the need for feedback from others. I want to help you stop looking for reactions from those around you and grow in response to how you feel. I want you to develop your individual power by creating your personal daily practice and trusting yourself.

Instead of running away from what you’re thinking or feeling I support you to create a strengths-based life. This is a life that is built upon your energy, clarity, values and motives. Let’s live in excellence not only in our jobs but in our personal lives!

This is where you learn how to become YOU. Then you can learn how you can grow your company, help your coworkers, and show up excellently in everything you do. This comes from an honest place and an honest sense of self. This is where we stop pretending and step into the strength and power of who we truly are.

I invite you to join me on this journey of self discovery and power. Let us create your daily practice. This practice will create your foundation so that you can be who you want to be  because it’s inside of you— not being told to you by others. I can bring you back from burnout and lead you to your own path of excellence!