It is September 12, 2001 and as I stand in my beautiful kitchen in Ridgefield, Ct. I say these words to myself…’ I’m done…I am so completely done.’ Tragedy can break us down and destroy us or it can break us open and allow us to rebuild, reinvent and redirect our lives for the greater good. It is the morning after 911 and I am numb, angry, shocked and like all Americans, in utter disbelief of the horrific events that unfolded before our eyes the day before. I was a young mother of three, CEO of my own Staffing Firm, married to a husband who was more a roommate than life partner, who had been ‘feeling the call’ to live more authentically and in alignment with my values for a few years…yet afraid to answer it. “I’m done”…these words rolling over and over in my mind as I sat blankly staring out the window. I knew on a deep visceral level that it would be the last day in my life where I lived against my own inner truth, values and needs. The numbness I was feeling from watching the 911 horror on TV the day before was morphing into a deep inner roar that I could never silence or ignore again. I promised myself that I would, from that day forward, always live ‘on purpose’ and as authentically as possible. I picked up the phone to take the first step towards living on my terms.
On that fateful morning, I called the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy in Westport, Ct. to inquire if they had a massage program coming up that I could enroll in that would suit the schedule of a business owner? I had been ‘feeling’ for several years that I wanted to walk away from the corporate world and follow my heart’s desire to completely change career directions. For years I had a strong interest in Energy Medicine and the Healing Arts industry and I had already become a Reiki Master in my spare time. How could I as a CEO of a successful mid-sized Staffing Firm with 85 people on my payroll, including my husband, unravel and make such a dramatic shift in my life? The mountain before me seemed too big to climb…where do I begin? With one step…just one step. That phone call to the admissions counselor at the massage school that day was my first step of what would become hundreds of steps in the unraveling of one life and the creation of a new more meaningful and satisfying path. As ‘luck’ would have it, ‘Yes she told me, yes we have a two year program that begins NEXT TUESDAY that meets two nights a week and all day Saturdays! Before hanging up the call, I committed to signing up for the Therapeutic Massage Therapy program, paid for it in full, and learned that it was the last spot open in that group…of course it was.
Although I had enjoyed the challenge of building my own Staffing Firm from the ground up, I had come to realize that what drove me to become successful in the corporate world was more about ‘proving’ my worthiness to others than it was about achieving financial security. Having never finished college, I had this inner voice telling me that I won’t be successful and that I probably wouldn’t amount to anything. My drive to prove my worthiness and success to others led me to build this successful firm and to help hundreds of people connect with their dream jobs over the years. It also helped me to discover that I was street smart, resilient, focused, determined and most of all that my ‘lack’ of formal education was my true super power! It allowed me to ‘think’ outside the box and make business decisions that were both measured yet also brave. While running my company during the day, I was also raising three children, ran a large home, and tried to be ‘the good wife’ to my often emotionally detached husband. To the outside world, it appeared that I had it all. And in may respects I did, but there was this inner yearning to simplify, downsize and let go of everything that wasn’t serving my true life’s purpose. The tragic events of 911 ultimately helped me to ‘wake up’ and see how precious life was and that none of us can get back valuable time. I suddenly had the courage to set out on a new path to leaving behind the corporate world and building a new career in the healing arts field that resonated with my soul’s purpose. One week after my ‘first step’ phone call to the massage school, I was sitting in my first class at Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy. I was frightened but also excited for the journey ahead.
Over the next two years, I encountered many obstacles and challenges that come with making such a drastic life change but each one provided me a chance to learn and grow. I wanted to be an example for my children. I wanted to ‘show’ them what resilience looks like. I wanted to model for them that following your gut and dreams was the only way to live. During the time that I attended massage school nights and weekends, I helped to place all my staffing employees in great jobs and closed my company’s doors. My husband and I divorced and together we worked out a co-parenting arrangement. I sold my large home and moved to a small beautiful condo. After graduating from Massage School in August 2003, I opened up a Wellness Center in Ridgefield, Ct. in October, 2003!
On the morning of the opening of my Wellness Center, I stood in the beautiful and tranquil waiting room that my oldest son helped decorate and I felt a sense of pride and happiness that is hard to describe. The space is large and airy and I had met along the way 7 other Wellness Therapists who had agreed to join me at the center. Almost from the moment we opened our doors, we are flooded with new clients from the community that were eager to experience our massage/bodywork and other wellness offerings. Together with my office mates, we have been serving Ridgefield, Ct. for almost 18 years and I cannot be more proud of the healing work we have brought to our community.
As I type this story, it is the morning of April 19th, 2020 and I find myself at yet another major personal crossroads during the COVID-19 shutdown. My Wellness Center was ordered to close by the Department of Health. I am struggling to comprehend what is happening to all of us, our world, our lives and want to be strong for those around me. I also want to give myself permission to be angry, sad, and to allow myself to mourn the death of my thriving private massage practice in this beautiful Wellness Center. The world is suffering and I am suffering. I can choose one of two paths…let this tragic pandemic break me down and destroy me OR I can allow it to break me open so that I may be able to reinvent and rebuild once again. Four years ago, I yet again ‘felt a calling’ to move my career in another direction. I wanted to combine my corporate and business experience with my health and wellness experience into a new career that would allow me the opportunity to travel and work remotely at the same time. I made the decision to return to school once again. I attended the World Coach Institute where I trained to become a Professional Life and Career Coach. Since becoming a Certified in 2016, I have been slowly building my coaching practice while continuing to run my massage practice. Today, April 19th, 2020, with a heavy heart, I am making the decision to reinvent…to continue to live on purpose and with purpose. I have decided to close down my massage practice and begin to concentrate on my new path towards a career as a full-time Transformational Life and Career Coach. In this way, I can combine my corporate experience and my health and wellness knowledge and offer to the world the best of me and the lessons I have learned from living this beautiful life of mine. Here are the beliefs that inform my thoughts and choices that my life’s journey has taught me so far:
- Thoughts become things, and if I choose my thoughts wisely, it’s going to work out even better than I imagined!
- If I show up consistently and act “AS IF,” I will become the hero of my story.
- By doing what I love in the service of others, the Universe has my back, and everything is always working out for me.
As I build my new Coaching practice, I know the road ahead will have bumps, turns, and obstacles to overcome, however, what I know deeply in my soul is that the outcome will be more magnificent that I could ever have imagined.
Lynda Williams, LMT, CST, CPLC