I had the opportunity to visit Mt St Helen's yesterday. There it sits, a beautiful mountain, or what remains of it, as a testament to the power of nature. The volcano erupted 35 years ago, on May 18, 1980. Much of the devastation is still very evident. Treeless slopes where once stood old growth forests, lakes where once there were hills, hummocks where once there were lakes. It all looks very peaceful now, but that is a deception of nature. Just as in 1980 when the power under the mountain pushed it out and forced it to explode sideways, that same mixture of pressure and gas continued to build. The mound in the center of the crater grows daily, crumbling down a bit and growing again; a constant reminder of what's bubbling beneath.
As I stood there in awe of the grandeur and power of nature, it reminded me that we humans are not unlike this mountain. We all have something bubbling beneath our surface. And, are we recognizing that and being true to it? I reconnected with former colleagues over the weekend and the comment I received most is "You look so happy!". For the first time in my life, I knew without any measure of doubt that how I appeared truly matched how I feel and where I am in this life. It's been hard work to get here. Fraught with risk and struggle and change. But I have arrived, happy, whole, content and fully aware that I am living my best life. It's this very concept that drives me in my work. I've said it before. Many people, much as I did previously, are not living our whole selves. There is something bubbling underneath. It might be the knowledge that a relationship is dying. Or perhaps our work no longer satisfies us and, while we know it's time to move on, it's simply easier and less risky to stay put. If I could shout from the rooftops for all to hear, my message would be "Stop playing it safe. If you want a better life, get out there and make it so!"
More than once people have said, "Oh Andrea, you did it because you're brave/strong/independent/what have you." Well, those may be true, but none of those are what drove me to make the change I made two years ago. I was unhappy, unfulfilled, and living a life that I knew what NOT what I wanted for my life. I made the change, and while dramatic, to save my life! It felt like the most selfish thing I've ever done. I stopped listening to everyone else's idea of what I should be, where I should live, and what I should do, and simply did the one thing I knew I couldn't NOT do. I sold my house, quit my job and moved myself back to Seattle, the only place I ever want to live, where I am whole, happy, and my authentic self. I had safety nets for sure: a family I knew would help me if I failed, retirement investments that could be tapped if need be, a strong resume that ensures I should always find work. But on the other hand, I am single, doing this alone without any outside means of support. There would be struggles of all sorts. Could I buy a house without a full time job? How would I pay bills if I was a self-employed business owner? The list of concerns was substantial, and never fully goes away when you work for yourself. But, I keep moving ahead, letting everything bubble up to the surface and dealing with it. I'm making it. I LOVE my life!
As I said, this is what drives me in my work to help others, whether it's an organization that wants to be more, or an individual who seeks more fulfilling work. Everyone deserves this same success and if my lessons can help others get there; if my strength can support others to believe in themselves; if I can make a difference in one life, then everything I went through on my own journey is amplified beyond my wildest dreams. Someone told me the other day that I should write my book and be an inspirational speaker. Maybe that's next.
Have you struggled to live your authentic life and come out the other side happy and whole? I'd love to hear your story! Please share.
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Andrea's passion is to see you achieve your professional dreams. Whether you are a corporate leader seeking leadership development for your employees or an individual seeking guidance in building your career or preparing for retirement, she will coach you to success.