Like so many others, I hit the “brink wall of reality” … multiple times.

I really didn’t know what “health” really meant.  In my childhood, my family often lived on food stamps or food donations.  Much of what we got was either canned, boxed, or frozen and very processed.  My mom always strived to get healthy fresh food when she could afford it.  That was hard to do when you had 7 kids to feed.  We just ate what we had, and mom would do her best to provide meals that were as healthy as she could make them.

In my college years, I decided to put myself through school.  I worked 30 hours a week while taking 16 or more credits each semester.  I even took summer classes. This went on for 5 years until I graduated.  I was the only one of my family to graduate with a 4-year degree, but my self-inflicted pressure to achieve impacted my health the most.

Those years of little sleep, lots of caffeine, and vending machine food, conditioned my body to “push” through each day.  And as the years went on, the pressure continued to mount.

Although I worked in a fast-paced real estate and mortgage industry (during the refinance boom of early 2000s), I officially landed a retail corporate job in 2004. I was thrilled and VERY determined to prove my abilities, but my habits of “work, work, and more work” continued each day.  Most days I’d find myself working all day, going home, working some more (while I ate dinner), working late, then going to bed after 10:30pm.  Then I’d do it all over again… day after day.

I lived off caffeine, sugar, fast food and adrenaline. Stress was a 24/7 occurrence for me.

Fast forward a few years. I started noticing the mental and physical impacts of this lifestyle I created.  Most notably, my anxiety was now off the charts!

The first time I hit “the brick wall” was during an hour-long corporate training session.  I sat in the middle of the room, in the middle of a long table facing the instructor.  Fellow employees sat on both sides of me.  The room was very crowded, with some people standing in the back.  About half way through, I started to feel lightheaded and had a hard time catching my breath.

This was my first panic attack.

I honestly don’t know how I got through the rest of the class. I just kept saying to myself, “breathe… breathe…”  Still to this day, I have no idea what that training was about.  I didn’t want to make a scene by leaving the room.  I was also worried that if I stood up, I might faint.

That lead me to a therapist and anxiety medication.

A few years later, I started to have children.  Life got even more stressful as I tried to take care of this little human, but also keep my career a priority.  I was even dumb enough to only take the minimum maternity leave of 6 weeks with my first son. (What was I thinking?!)

To top this off, keeping in mind that I’m the youngest child of 7, my father (48 years older than me) started having health issues, so I became one of his primary caregivers. I became his main support, life organizer and power of attorney.  I also became the leader amongst my siblings when it came to dad’s care and well-being.

I felt torn apart each day. Exhausted. Stretched too thin and overwhelmed. Every. Day.

Then the anxiety started taking a bigger physical toll on me.  I started having heart flutters and I didn’t know why.  One Saturday the heart episodes turned into multiple episodes within minutes of each other.  I freaked out!  As my anxiety rose, the more my heart fluttered.  This situation turned into my husband rushing me to the ER as I thought I was dying.  (That’s how anxiety brain works.)

Yep, another panic attack… that eventually turned into a heart diagnosis of P.A.C. (Premature Atrial Contractions).

Then I hit the wall for the last time.  I finally woke up.

Three years later, after having my second son (who also was very sick for the first two years of his life with an unknown birth defect – a major stressor for me), my health continued to decline.  One major health issue was my low back.  It was in constant pain. I even had a hard time even picking up my boys.  It was awful and limited what I did in my life.  I was only 33 years old at the time.

I saw a chiropractor for many months. Even with adjustments, soft tissue work and exercises, my back only partially improved.  So, my doctor decided to order a MRI and X-ray.

The results stopped me in my tracks.

The scans showed that I had two degenerated discs in my lower back (like I had the discs of someone twice my age).  They also found a mass in my mid abdomen along the inside of my spine.  This scared the sh!t out of me!  Luckily the mass was discovered to be benign, but that was as close to the “c” word I wanted to get. I would have an MRI scan yearly for about 6 years to ensure it didn’t grow larger.

At this point in my life, I had accumulated the following health issues:

  • Anxiety

  • P.A.C. (Premature Atrial Contractions)

  • Digestive Distress

  • Migraines

  • Skin issues (Seborrheic Dermatitis)

  • Heart burn/Acid Reflux

  • Muscle tightness and neck stiffness

  • Back and pelvis pain

  • Chronic fatigue (from long-term anemia)

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Constantly getting sick with colds, flu, infections, etc.

  • Weight gain

My body was in major distress.

My priorities had to change…for me and my family.  I couldn’t live like this any longer.

This put me on my path to become a coach, yet, at the time I didn’t know it.  I just started making small food changes, educating myself (lots of documentaries!), and listening to my body’s response to foods.  I even hired a health coach, started doing yoga, did some self-care and LOTS of mental and emotional work.  It took time (years), trial and error and dedication.

It was the small steps of change that paved the way to my health.  

Since that point, I became a Certified Health Coach (2014), then a Nationally Board Certified (2020) and even started an employee wellness group at the company where I was employed.  As the over-achiever that I am, I had a paid position, but created a volunteer role helping other employees who wanted to be a part of a wellness community. I wanted to provide a safe space to share and support others, at all phases of their individual journeys.  By the time I resigned, there were over 1000 members in the employee wellness group, 4 additional lead volunteers and dedicated HR support. I was privileged to work with employees at all levels of the company (even executives).  Doing this work brought out a true passion for serving and supporting others, and hopefully impacting lives while doing so.

Now my passion to teach, support and guide others has become a new career path.

My desire is to have others see that their wellness journey doesn’t need to be difficult, scary, confusing or lonely.  Most importantly, it IS possible to feel good again.  

Other fun facts:

  • Home:  Born, raised and still living in Minnesota.  I love all 4 seasons, but love Fall and Spring the most.  I love to travel to the north shore to be in nature. With that, I also love to create a peaceful, calm and toxic-free/chemical-free home.
  • Family:  I have 5 older brothers, who still pick on me to this day.  I’m also the mother of two young boys.
  • Growing up:  I was the only child to go to private school (K-8) and I was told I was a “quiet girl”, but made friends with everyone I met.
  • Education:  I received a B.A. degree in Finance from the University of St. Thomas (2001), became a certified health coach from I.I.N. in 2014, then  National Board Certified in Health Coaching in 2020.  (I’m a “forever student” who continues to take courses in many areas of interest.)
  • Music:  I love listening to anything from the 80s or 90s, but enjoy anything that makes me want to dance and sing!  I also love peaceful instrumental music while I work.
  • Sports:  I played softball and volleyball growing up.  I love watching my boys play hockey (my brothers played too). I also get to watch some good baseball during the summer too!
  • Movies:  Comedies are my go-to, like the classic 80s movie, like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  Some others: Tommy Boy, Billy Madison, Mrs. Doubtfire or Elf.
  • Food:  I love pizza (even though I’m gluten free).  I’ll try all unique pizzas that have fresh and unique ingredients.  And yes, I will eat pineapple on pizza too!
  • Exercise:  It varies based on my schedule, how I feel and what my body needs, but I enjoy yoga, a HIIT workout, running, walking, weights or even rebounding.  I also love getting out in nature as much as I can.
  • Mental Self-Care:  I focus on affirmations, time in quiet (no phone!), time in nature, meditation, audiobooks, or videos from leaders like: Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay, Lisa Nichols, and more.
  • Attributes:  I’m a bit sarcastic at times, I like to joke around and I love getting to know other’s personal stories. I’ve been told that I’m a good listener.  I’m also a proud “tree-hugger” and animal lover.  I know I’m an Empath and I think that is what draws me to coaching.
  • Top 5 Strength Based Themes:  Responsibility, Achiever, Harmony, Consistency and Connectedness.
  • “Craziest” Foods I eat:  Chlorella, spirulina, mushrooms (like in my morning drink), turmeric, bone broth, green juices and pizza with pineapple on it. LOL!
  • Quirks:  I LOVE to organize my home. I don’t like clutter and prefer simplicity.  I love to take common recipes and make them healthier, yet still taste amazing (and sometimes even better!).  I have to fold or lay out clothes immediately upon taking them out of the dryer.  (No wrinkles!)

Libra’s Principles:

Always strive to create the most caring environment.
Encourage and support with authenticity and love.
Truly listen to each individual’s needs while honoring their life journey.
Preserve trust and respect everyone in the Libra community.

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“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.