Life has been anything but predictable or 'normal' for me. I have lived through the peaks and valleys of life. Some chapters I wished I didn’t have to go through, but they got me to where I am today.
I was born with Myelomeningocele (aka Spina Bifida) & Hydrocephalus. Childhood was full of hospital visits, dealing with bullies, numerous invasive surgeries, and trying to enjoy childhood.
Growing up in a world not designed for children with disabilities was very difficult, not to mention I grew up in Fernie, BC… a dream destination for the most athletic, outdoor adventure seekers. I struggled to find where I belonged.
My saving grace was my parents who loved and encouraged me through everything. My dad and I had a very special bond though. While I tried to navigate life in a body that I could not control, he was walking right alongside me and cheering me on. Not only was I a daddy’s girl because we were very alike in personality, but we had a kinship because since I was two years old, he battled Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
At the age of 15, life’s path led to a valley that I lived in for far longer than I’d wish on anyone. I started losing my balance regularly, getting very dizzy, losing my train of thought, forgetting words, and couldn’t answer questions to facts I previously knew. I was scheduled to undergo brain surgery two weeks later as the shunt I had to treat the Hydrocephalus had malfunctioned and had to be replaced immediately.
While the surgery saved my life, I had a myriad of complications including irreparable short-term memory loss and hormonal imbalances. I had to learn how to walk again. I could not retain the memory of a conversation I had five minutes earlier. I was an emotional time-bomb. Getting through high school became even more difficult.
A year and a half later, my family was hit with a devastating blow. The cancer had returned and had taken over my dad’s whole body. Unlike the five other health battles he had to fight, this time, he couldn’t win. Over the next two years, I watched my hero get weaker… the valley got darker and darker every day. I was going to lose my dad, and in combination with the hormonal imbalances I had, I fell into a deep depression, suffered anxiety/panic attacks and suicidal ideations.
As I entered the final exam week of my second year of college, I got the phone call I will never forget. I made it back to Fernie in time to spend my dad’s last twenty-four hours with him. In his last breath, I felt my identity die. I lost all hope of being all that he told me I could be. The following seven years were the same day lived over and over. Every night I would ask God to not let me wake up and every morning, I would wake up and think, ‘Oh shit, I have to do another day’.
Good things would happen in my life and I did not care.
Depression and anxiety had taken over my entire life.
I lived under a dark cloud of hopelessness for far too many years. I found myself working as an educational assistant and it was the only reason I would get out of bed. One day at work, the ladies were discussing their plans for Spring Break travels. In that instant, I realized that I would have two weeks off work. I would have 20,160 minutes of not having a reason to get out of bed. No one relying on me to show up anywhere. I knew this meant I would stay in bed for two weeks as that was my schedule every weekend. This thought was too much to bear. I immediately picked up the phone and called my old college roommate and informed her that I needed to come crash at her place because I needed to get out of Fernie. She obliged without any hesitance.
That trip was the beginning of a new chapter. Two days into my trip, through a course of seemingly random events, I learned about life coaching and knew this was just the thing I needed to climb out of the valley I’d been living in for ten years. Over the next three months, I spoke with my life coach every two weeks and found my joy, passion and drive to thrive again. I discovered that I could be my own cheerleader.
How Thrive Life Coaching Came Into Being
I didn’t know it then, but this was the beginning of Thrive Life Coaching. I was the real me again. It was a change that was evident to everyone around me. Others saw the change in me and began coming to me for unofficial life coaching, be it for little decisions or life crises they were going through. I knew that this was the next chapter. My purpose was clear. I resigned from my job as an Educational Assistant and pursued this new journey.
Living on disability pension, the reality of starting my own business was an uphill battle, but this was a mountain I was excited and ready to climb. That was a feeling I had not experienced in a very long time. I enrolled in the Life Skills Coaching Certificate program at Rhodes Wellness College in Vancouver and graduated on December 14th, 2017. I returned to my home in Fernie and hit the ground running.
I always felt like we were journeying the ups and downs together, and if he could fight through everything he was going through and do it with joy, passion, and love, then I was determined to live that way also.