Check out boldlybicoastal.wordpress.com for more on my story. My friends asked me to keep a blog when I began this journey. Boldlybicoastal was my answer.
Everyone has a story. Mine may not be extraordinary, but it explains where I have come from and why I have such a passion for helping others. I also share my story because I have accomplished what many of my clients dream of. My story is what drives me to help others. I KNOW you can do it! I'm not extraordinary. I don't have super powers, but I achieved my dreams. I had a clear vision of what I wanted my life to be and I made it happen. I want that for you. So, here it is, as briefly as I can share it. So, settle in and take a listen. Thanks for your time!
In the space of two years, I lost my father, a long-term relationship and my job security. Three main pillars of my life as I'd known it had crumbled, leaving me bruised, empty, completely destroyed.
I had always dreamed of returning to Seattle, but had thought that would happen when I retired. Each time I returned to visit, I realized how much I love this city. Even on the rainiest, darkest mid-winter days, my soul would soar just to be here. So, during this time of turmoil, when nothing seemed to be working for me living in the Washington, DC area, I realized I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The longer and harder I seemed to fight to make things work in DC, the worse they got, the more dissatisfied I became with my life, and the more unhappy I was. This was not the vision I had for my life.
I'd worked hard, gone back to school for a master's degree to transition from an accounting career to education and coaching, and for a time, had been happy with life. But with each change, with each new painful loss, I knew I had to do something, and something big! It didn't happen overnight. I knew returning to Seattle was the answer. But here I was, in a full time job with people I admired, near family, and 3000 miles away from the life I began to realize I needed and dreamed of. How in the world was I going to make this work?
Through much soul searching, the support of a great friend and career coach, a wonderful mentor, and a counselor - someone objective who could help me make sense of my fear, anxiety and paralysis - I started my job search. I applied for jobs, reached out to contacts, did what little I knew at the time to secure a job. This was the only way I thought I could make it happen. You see, I was single and the only source of income was my work. How in the world could I make it work without a job? But how could I get a job from 3000 miles away? I tried and tried and failed and failed, on that roller coaster ride of applying, interviewing, and not getting the job. One morning, I woke up with the realization that NOT returning to Seattle was no longer an option. It was a MUST. You see, in order to make sense of your life, in order to be happy, you MUST set yourself up for the life you want. For many people, this transformation starts in a different sort of place. A place of boredom, dissatisfaction, or burnout at work. For me, it really came down to simply living in the wrong place. I wasn't right for D.C. and it wasn't right for me. I was a 'western girl' as one person put it. I belonged in a place of space and beauty that valued the outdoors, where the weather was more conducive to my lifestyle, where people thought the same way I do.
As soon as I reached that point where NOT returning to Seattle was more risky than staying in D.C., everything fell into place. It was like the universe was waiting for me to have this realization. I gave notice at work and my boss hugged me. I put my house on the market and it sold in two days. I found a mover, a friend to drive cross country with and a very good friend even offered me a place to live until I got on my feet. Yes, it all unfolded seamlessly. I still stand in awe when I think back. I asked myself why I waited so long, but that answer is easy. It just wasn't time. I needed to experience the things I did in order to have the strength, the knowledge, the will to pursue my dream.
I accomplished everything I'd set out for within just one year. It was never easy, but I never doubted, not for one second. When people called me 'brave', I was uncomfortable. I felt quite selfish following my heart. But in the end, even my family left behind, while sad for my departure, see how happy I am, how I have made my dreams come true and are proud of what I've done and pleased for where I am.
So, that's the brief version of my story. I share it because I know you have dreams and I know you can achieve them. You don't have to do it alone. I didn't. Without that great support group I had, I would probably still be miserable in D.C. So let me help you make it happen! You CAN do it! Don't give up on your dreams. #dreambelieveachieve
And the story continues. My 92 year old mother came to live with me in late 2016. Watching her struggle with getting older, and how dependent she was on me for everything, was an eye-opening experience. You see, I don't have children. I'm alone in this life. If I'm fortunate to live to 92, I'm not going to have a 'me' to take care of me. When I lost her 5 months later, my world was shaken. And I had yet another epiphany. My dream and the goals I had for my life brought me to another crossroad, and one I never expected. Seeing how unfriendly Seattle is to a senior person, and how young a culture it is becoming, retiring there became an impossible dream. I had to come up with a new chapter. This time, it brought me back East to Orlando, Florida. I'd become increasingly stressed and isolated in Seattle and yearned for a place where I could slow down, develop deep relationships and look ahead to retirement some day. Visiting a friend in Florida one February, it dawned on me this was the solution. I have long-term friends as well as family down here. Orlando is a vibrant city, nothing like the retirement villages you read so much about. Once again, I sold my home, packed up everything and crossed the country again to a new home, a new town and a new life. So far, and I'm early into it, it's proven to be the right choice. Not only can I continue my coaching, but I'm developing wonderful new friendships in a community where people take life a little slower and understand the importance of relationships. And, retirement is getting closer all the time. I fully expect my next adventure to be the shaping of what 'retirement' means to me.
I feel myself making a shift. I no longer want to be that person constantly striving for more. I want to relish what I have and savor every day. This move has allowed me to do that. Is this the last chapter? I doubt it. But stayed tuned. You never know what's around that next bend in the road!
Andrea Cole Coaching | Seattle, WA | 206.658.7919 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credits: Ingrid Pape-Sheldon Photography