Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the song, “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads:
You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack.
And you may find yourself in another part of the world.
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile.
You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife.
You may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?”.
Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down.
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground.
Into the blue again, after the money’s gone.
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground.
It was our High School senior class song, and at the time I remember thinking it was a strange choice. Yet, there’ve been times in my adult life, where I’ve woken up thinking “Well, how did I get here?”
When we graduate from High School, we have dreams that we’re going to change the world. We observe the adults in our lives and pick out those we don’t want to become. There’s the minivan driving mom or the zombie middle-manager with all of her spirit gone. We wake up one day, and realize that they’re exactly who we don’t want to be, and if we don’t make some changes, we’re headed right in that direction.
As a health coach, I teach my clients to lean into change. We don’t want to change too much too soon, because that causes discomfort and the changes won’t stick.
However, sometimes you just need to rip off the band-aid (aka: Hit Refresh).
My sister labels me as a free-spirit. My dad says that I was born with a horseshoe up my ass (suggesting I’m lucky). Maybe I am. Or maybe I’ve never been one to be boxed in to conventional labels and expectations. Perhaps I realized at an early age that my life was mine & mine alone, and the only one who would face the consequences of my own actions.
As much as I’d love to say I didn’t care about people’s opinions, I struggled for a long time being the good girl who was wanting approval and doing the responsible thing. The problem is, what I wanted from my life isn’t what people close to me wanted from their lives. When you want something different, for some reason, people seem to think you’re challenging what they want.
If we’re living an authentic life, a life that we choose, we seldom need to hit refresh. But when we go along with the not-so-bad, comfortable, socially acceptable choices, that’s when we wake up and say “Wait a minute. I did everything that they told me to do, I have everything I’m supposed to have. Why am I not happy?!?”
I hit my first refresh at 28. I found myself having an extra-marital affair and yet not wanting to leave it. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with my ex-husband, however there wasn’t anything particularly right about him either.
It should have been a red flag. He wanted children and I didn’t. We shouldn’t have gotten married, there were differences in how we saw our futures. I honestly didn’t know if I would change my mind, and he was counting on the fact that I would. The subtle pressure to start having a family began almost immediately after we got married and intensified.
In examining my motivations, and what led to me to be unfaithful to my husband, I realized that happily married people don’t have affairs. Therefore, I was clearly not happily married.
I gained a lot of weight during my short marriage. Although I started exercising, it wasn’t until I watched cancer ravage my mother’s body that I understood the connection between our habits, weight, health, and disease. My mom struggled with breast cancer for over 10 years, and was clean for 5 of them when it returned. Her spirit crumbled as the disease destroyed her body.
Her death had a great impact on my life with a HUGE wake-up call for me. If I didn’t again course correct, I would end up the same way. I had learned how to be overweight from my mom. I was emotionally eating, not exercising, internalizing stress, had high expectations of myself and others. I was disappointed and feeling resentful. In researching how not to get cancer, I learned that holding on to excess body fat is a risk factor for so many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many more.
I wish I could say that once I’d made the decision to be disease free and shed the weight, that everything was easy after that. I tried to take shortcuts, I looked everywhere for a magic pill. It took me another 12 + years to get my mindset, weight and health under control.
During the time that my mom passed, I was an executive for a large software company, and traveling frequently across the country for business.
I also fell in love.
Gary and I met through work. He lived in Austin Texas and I in Chicago. We dated long distance for 5 months, when we made the decision to see if our relationship would lead to anything. We should at least live in the same city, so I moved to Austin.
Now, let me say that moving to a city where I barely knew anyone, to buy a house with a man I only knew through work and long-distance dating was probably not my smartest move. Kids, don’t try this at home. So many things that could’ve gone wrong. Lucky for me, they didn’t (this is where I have a horse-shoe up my sleeve). If a friend of mine told me she was doing this, I would have deep concerns. However, looking back, it was probably “THE” decision that changed the trajectory of my life.
I’m the youngest of 6 children in a tight-knit family. Having to move away, allowed me the freedom to discover what I really wanted from life, who I wanted to be, and how I wanted to live my life. My mom’s death shattered our family’s relationship and my move across the country intensified it. My sisters felt that I abandoned them by leaving, and although that might be okay for a boy (my brother), it’s not okay for girl.
Although the emotional sadness and isolation I experienced from my sisters’ rejection was crushing, it also meant I didn’t desire their approval. I could make decisions about my life without their judgment.
After living in Austin for a few years, and working in a high tech company through a recession, again I asked myself, “What am I doing? Is this the life I want to live?”
With coaching from my therapist, I realized that making software for car dealerships to capture customer leads, wasn’t going to satisfy my life’s purpose. But rather, what would satisfy it was the desire to become a health coach, with the goal of helping women avoid the disease that took my mom’s life: cancer.
Thirty days after completing my training and nutrition certifications, I was laid off by my company. Co-workers who were laid off were nervous, stressed, worried about their future. They were concerned about what was going to happen next. I saw this as a huge opportunity to fully embrace the open road ahead of me and design the life I truly wanted.
In 2007 “health coach” was a new term. In the years that followed, I worked as a frustrated personal trainer. I knew that I could help folks more than just exercising them, but I didn’t know how to market myself as a coach who could help them feel better.
During the summer of 2010, Gary and I spent a month in Belize. It was the first time that we looked at each other and wondered, “Could we actually “DO” this? Could we live on a beach somewhere outside of the United States?”
Yes! Yes, we could!
We realized Belize wasn’t the right place for us. We loved everything about Mexico, its rich culture, the food, art, openness and the kindness of the locals. We started vacationing in different spots in search of “the right place”. Each time someone mentioned a promising town in casual conversation, we’d research, then visit with the hopes of it being “the one”.
From the outside looking in, we had the “American Dream”, an amazing house, 3 cars, a pool, and we traveled a lot. But we desired to travel more, and our “American Dream” was costing a fortune to maintain.
Telecommuting, technology, and coaching became the norm. As a software executive, my husband could work from anywhere, and so could I. The time was right. We were just shy of 50, didn’t want to have regrets, and we didn’t want to wait until retirement to make the move.
We discovered our small beach town in November of 2015. In April of 2017 we sold 90% of everything we owned, with our 2 dogs, we drove down to Mexico, and I took my health coaching business entirely online.
Today I’m a public speaker, executive health coach, and weight loss coach. I work with women on creating healthy sustainable habits which help them lose weight, and feel better. We work on eliminating limiting beliefs, emotional mindsets, and overcoming obstacles and barriers that often get in the way of living our authentic lives.
See, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we get to create the life we desire. Our current circumstances are a result of our past actions, but we can easily change the direction that our life is headed. To coin the phrase of another refresher, Jodi Cullen, “don’t go back to sleep.” At any point, we can decide that we’re no longer able to tolerate “letting the days go by” and instead make a deliberate, conscious decision to live our best lives. The lives we were meant to live.
We always have the choice to course correct, you’re never too old. You’re the only one that suffers the consequences of your decisions or indecision’s. Others who have an opinion about what you should do with your life, they don’t get to vote; they don’t have any skin in the game.
Keep refreshing until you get it right! The only failure is not even trying.
You can find me on my website, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
If you want to make a change but are unsure of what that looks like, schedule a breakthrough call with me . We’ll create a clear vision of the life you truly desire, uncover hidden challenges that could be sabotaging your success, and leave the session renewed and inspired to finally hit that refresh button. (Use Coupon Code: REFRESH when booking call)
Member Spotlight highlights stories of inspiring women from our She Hit Refresh community. We hope that by sharing their stories of change and travel we can expose the unconventional paths that thousands of women 30 years and older have chosen. There is no one way to live a life, just your way.
1 thought on “Member Spotlight- Elizabeth”
I loved reading this, thanks so much for sharing your story, Elizabeth!