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Grow through what you go through.

My experience with burn-out, the ultimate baptism of fire.

For the past decade I’ve been so busy on life’s treadmill surviving and making a living that I neglected to do any life admin through my twenties. You know like take stock, sort through the stuff that hurt, peeling back the layers to find sense and clarity of thought in order to be able to hang out your hang ups, feel and be content in this precious moment, and move forward with your life.

This year life just hit me. The tension had been building, my foot was on the gas, but the car wasn’t in gear.

I was mindlessly entangled in the ebb and flow, I was operating from my reserve tank all the time and my head felt like a scrambled egg. Inside I knew I was wound up so tight I was bound to snap. A lot of this stemmed from not properly processing bereavements that devastated me, I felt dis-empowered at work and I justified the daily fight in a toxic environment because chaos was familiar to me and I convinced myself that I needed to wring the towel dry every single day.

It’s true that everything in retrospect is more obvious. I have since come to understand and accept that the cards were stacked against me, and I have taken some hard lessons both in life and politics. In not wanting to suffer twice, I started carving out time for myself, where I later unraveled that I had unhelpful core beliefs and I did not know how to establish healthy boundaries. Instead, I convinced myself I enjoyed the adrenaline through my veins my job gave me, but the reality of it was that I was in an abusive relationship with work and inevitably it was a bad trade in the end.

The lessons I learned from this environment were that productivity gained by suppression, and using aggression, causes dysfunction and waste.

Sometimes you have to accept for your own mental health that you can’t reason with unreasonable people, especially high-functioning sociopaths!  Culture is an undeniably powerful force in the workplace and in hindsight I should have removed myself from the environment a long time ago. In overriding my intuition because nobody could tell me I couldn’t do it, I was left broken and disconnected after years of absorbing other people’s emotions that overwhelmed any sense of myself I had left.

How did it feel? Emptiness from dodging emotions, brain fog from feeling run down and episodic insomnia. The turning point was when I contracted shingles after chronic daily stress weakened my immune system reactivating chicken-pox. This was only the beginning of my health issues and it got much worse before it eventually got better.

Often physical pain functions as an evolutionary indicator that there is emotional work to be done.

Mind-body medicine creates balance, and Stephen Porges Polyvagal Theory describes a way in which unresolved trauma can be locked in the nervous system. My body was shutting down and I didn’t know how I got to this point until, through therapy I realized I had a shocking lack of awareness of what self-love was and battered confidence.

This manifested in generalized anxiety which affected every aspect of my life in some way and then just like that, one day I woke up and I chose to stand in my own truth for the first time. I was committed to getting my sense of self back and this opened the door to a new moment to moment being. It’s that simple in the end, discipline is a form of self love but some of us have to crash before we can see it.

Now I’m on a journey in small steps to connect my values to create true life purpose and I’m thrilled at the opportunity to work it all out. I know your physical limits reveal your mental limits so I’ve been inspired to climb Mount Kinabalu in Eastern Malaysia, Borneo. I’ve also enrolled on a whirlwind course in Bartenieff Fundamentals to find means to connect inwardly, something that I have never explored. Luckily through all of this I have been deeply in love with my now husband and I’m grateful for his care that keeps my cup full.

My intention now is to be fully myself, to enjoy and embrace the changes ahead and do everything with mindfulness, conviction and trust in the process. To invite a new career into my life, to be true to myself and seek the source in order to center myself again and let go of what does not serve me anymore.

My advice is to stop running and give yourself a moment. Let your body be.

Breathing alone will get you through everything and meditation that welcomes stillness has been a refreshing and important reason why I have been able to come out the other side! Seek inspiration at a sensitive time of growth and personal development, take time to think and practice letting life fill every inch of you!

Don’t trade in your authenticity if you value that more than your paycheck, inhale the good stuff and exhale the BS!  At the end of the day we are our choices and I chose to be me.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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