People often tell me that I'm lucky to be teaching Pilates and Coaching. They tell me they're jealous of the freedom I have from a 9-5 corporate job. I listen politely and then politely tell them it's all about choices.
Let me start from the beginning, I was born in...just kidding. As a little girl, I dreamt of being a ballerina (who didn't) but at around 16 gave up that dream, I was not coordinated enough. Around that time, we moved from a little town in Virginia to Northern Virginia, outside DC, the big city. I got involved with Peer Counseling through a psychology class in my new high school, and decided that's what I wanted to do, be a therapist. When I was selecting a major in college, there wasn't a hesitation. Virginia Tech had a great BS in Psychology program but I knew I'd have to get a Masters to become a Therapist (now you'd need a PhD, I'm sure). I loved my Psych classes and was excited to graduate and pursue my Masters.
Then life smacked me in the face.
One week after my graduation, my brother, John, was in a tragic car accident. One week after that, he died. My life was totally upended and any plans I may have had, were not even on my radar. Life changed in an instant and what seemed important yesterday, didn't amount to a hill of beans. I, along with the rest of my family, were in the throws of grief, which is a whole other conversation. Needless to say, we were all in survival mode. My future plans were no longer important. Getting through each day, each moment, was my only focus. I started working as a receptionist in the company were I worked through high school, it was a fairly simple job and it paid the bills.
Fast forward a year, I decided to join my best friend on a backpacking trip in Europe so I quit the job and took off. Looking back, this trip was a life changer! During the trip, it was a whole lot of fun with some cultural experiences thrown in, and a few hot Italian boys too! Upon my return, I took some temp jobs, worked in an insurance agency for a couple years and then received the call that would propel me to my next, or is it first real, career. My old boss called to offer me a position in Personnel. For you young kids, that's what they called Human Resources (HR) back in the day. I started in an entry level position and worked my way up. I loved HR because I was able to put my Psychology degree to work. Early on it was more about paperwork and benefits but when I relocated to Pennsylvania and was able to shape an HR department from the beginning, that's where the fun started. Working with employees to help with staff issues, counseling employees on performance and helping them navigate corporate life, that's what I loved. I worked my way up to a Director position and loved what I did...until it became too corporate and HR no longer helped employees, it was back to paperwork and benefits. Then I was done. I made the choice to leave my high paying job, with great benefits to move to North Carolina and join the family business.
The family business was in New Home Construction and had absolutely nothing to do with HR, although I was able to use my experience when we had to select benefits and company policies. I needed a change from the corporate grind so this seemed like a great choice. Honestly, family business is hard. You can't leave all your problems at the office, they tend to come home with you and can create family drama (more than usual)! While I enjoyed the people I worked with and dealing with (most) homeowners, something was gnawing at me to pursue other avenues. For awhile, I thought about going back to school to pursue my Master's in Psychology. This was also around the time, I started thinking about Life Coaching. Instead, I ended up enrolling in Pilates Teacher Training and going into the world of fitness. It may seem like an odd choice, and for someone who was not very athletic growing up, it sort of came out of left field. Now though, with over 5 years of teaching under my belt, looking back it makes perfect sense. Working with people, one on one, and in classes too, I'm able to use my background in ways I never thought about back in college. I often joke with clients that you get two for one when taking Pilates, you get a workout and a therapy session!
Making the choice to leave the family business and start teaching has lead to all kinds of great things in my life. Not only have I met some amazing people, a few who have become wonderful friends but I've also met my love (I'll share that story at some point). Teaching has also lead me to the path of Life Coaching. It is a natural fit for me. If you had told me 30 years ago, when I was in college, that I would be where I am today, I would have thought you were crazy. However, looking back now, I see it all makes perfect sense. The choices I made along the way, have brought me to this point.
- Quitting my receptionist job to go to Europe
- Taking a temp job when I returned.
- Going back to my old company for a job in Personnel
- Moving to PA and taking a Corporate job in HR
- Leaving the Corporate world to move to NC and join the family business
- Leaving the family business to become a Pilates Instructor
- Getting my Life Coaching certification and starting my business
Each step on the path were the building blocks to my current career.
So when someone tells me how lucky I am to have the life I now do, I politely tell them, it's all about choices!