The Story Behind On The Threshold
Stories underpin everything, our culture, our history and our own personal journeys. I am no different so this article will tell my story, a story that I tell whenever I can in speaking opportunities and articles such as this. It forms the heart of my book, “Journey to Chocolate” which will be published later this year. The reason I tell my story is because I want to inspire other women to do what they need to do to get what they want out of their “one wild and precious life” (Mary Oliver).
I am 61 years old, a grandmother, receiver of a state and NHS pension and holder of a bus pass. I can honestly say I have never been happier and part of that happiness is the business I launched nearly two years ago in 2009. My story is one of a journey to fulfilment and that is what I do. I help other women take off on their own journeys. It wasn’t always like this for me. 11 years ago I was working in the NHS as a professional lead for health visiting. I loved it and thought it would be a job for life or at least for the next 10 years which would take me to my pension. In the job was everything I loved; working with women and their babies and developing a service which would provide the best possible care to our client group. Lots of things excited me but particularly the areas of postnatal depression, domestic abuse and infant mental health. There was so much to demonstrate what a difference our profession could make to the lives of women and their families. But what I didn’t do was take into account the NHS engine with all its rules and negative energy.
In 2000 I was diagnosed with stress related depression, the workload combined with my own expectations of myself had become too much. I was off sick for 6 weeks, in therapy for 2 years and on anti-depressants for one. What I learnt was that the grief I was holding onto following my failure to have a second child and the miscarriage when I did succeed in getting pregnant had laid buried for many years and at some point would have to re-emerge. And it did big time but it has taken a long time to acknowledge the extent of that loss.
Two years after that initial diagnosis I had been back at work for some time and I could feel the symptoms returning and one that I was on the verge of and which really frightened me was anorexia. It was then I made the decision to take charge of my life and I went to my boss and said “I’m going off sick and I’ll come back when I’m ready”. It took me four weeks of reflecting and walking in the spring sunshine to make the decision that I was not going back, that I was going to work for myself. And that’s what I did. It has to be the most empowering moment of my life.
So I set up my first business working with NHS organisations and I was successful; successful but not fulfilled. I trained as a coach and then started the next part of my journey setting up a professional coaching business. Throughout this time I continued with my own personal development, initially through therapy and then through coach training and the years since in which I have worked with my own coach. I am now an accredited and certified coach with every right to call myself a professional life coach.
It has taken me quite a long time to really nail what I wanted that business to be. The initial idea came via networking when someone asked me why I was not using my health visiting and coaching skills in combination. From that moment the idea for On the Threshold grew. Initially I intended to work with women recovering from breast cancer, postnatal depression or other such illnesses. And I declared the intention that this business was going to be a successful. To do that I knew I would have to get help and approached a marketer, a brand designer and a web designer all of which I believe to have been a great investment.
One of the things I have learnt is that we have to be prepared to change our vision for our businesses to meet the needs of the market. I did that when I realised that women were approaching me with confidence issues, looking for meaning and purpose in their lives, or reaching a crossroads and wondering what to do next. This was not my original plan, but what I have also come to realise is that lying in the background for many women were these other issues; postnatal depression, breast cancer, divorce, redundancy and a multitude of others which often result in similar feelings of grief and loss to those which I experienced. And what I realised I could do and do well was help my clients overcome these and other barriers which prevent them living the lives they want to and earlier this year I rebranded myself The Fulfilment Coach. I have developed my products and services and now offer a range of coaching packages; face to face, online, telephone and group and I also hold one off workshops along with writing and speaking. By the end of the year I will have an online shop for e courses, my book and DVD’s. My website has an online tool that can help you rate your level of fulfilment in each area of your life.
The biggest challenge for me is self- belief; coaching is relatively new to the UK but growing in the business world. Personal coaching is different because we, particularly women, are reluctant to invest in ourselves but I know the difference coaching has made to me and the clients I have worked with over the years. I also strongly believe that in women there is a vast amount of untapped potential which, once released, can make a huge difference in the world. Coaching is for everyone and I don’t believe that there is one person who would not benefit from working with a coach. I remind myself regularly of why I do what I do, I see that as my purpose and keep going!
I am inspired by the courage I see in people who take a chance and step out of their comfort zone to do what they truly want and to get the most out of their lives. This often means overcoming seemingly insurmountable barriers. But if I’m honest I look back and I am inspired by what I have done and what I have overcome to be here and when I get stuck or feel any sense of despair I just remind myself of what I’ve already achieved.
I am looking forward to many years yet running my coaching business, helping other women on their journeys and the ongoing success of On the Threshold contributing to the life I have and want in the future.