I edge around the dome-like pinnacle, the final “ascent” to Angels Landing in Zion National Park, rated “One of the world's deadliest trails in the world” (Outside Magazine '14).
With no ropes and only room in places for the balls of my feet, I freeze. Like a small sparrow, I am immobilized, inconsequential in this cavernous canyon surrounded by spectacular views I refuse to see.
Little did I know then that the “hike” to this 1,400-foot red rock formation—with sheer drops on all sides no one has survived—would change everything.
Fear & Grief
Halfway up the crazy-narrow rock trail, they warned me, “Don’t look down! People have died, you know.” No, I didn't know.
Near the top, frozen on a ledge and dizzy with fear, I wept. I wept for all those I had lost, and for myself, trapped in terror and shame. To continue on, I knew I had to release the young, stubborn girl I had been or I would slip and die.
When I did reach Angels Landing (a giant, slanted slab of wide-open red rock), I dropped to my knees. I only remember saying “I can't go back”, a fitting metaphor lost on me then. But back down I went, and holed-up in my hotel room for 48 hours as hard rain pounded the glass, the parks closed, and I planned a new future.
Big Inspiration and New Career
Returning from Utah, I immediately ditched my budding business career, applied to graduate school, and looked for work serving other people—those who were simply overworked, stressed or tired, and others who were depressed, conflicted and misunderstood and needed greater hope, clarity and confidence.
The first job I found was not a job many wanted: serving the inner city housing projects as a social worker’s assistant, an incredible and maturing experience. I next served in hospitals and mental health clinics with people in the middle of countless challenges: loss, grief, trauma, physical abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse, financial hardship, military service, career transition, and homelessness.
Upon receiving my Master’s in clinical Social Work (MSW, Simmons School of Social Work), I realized that if I was going to help my clients move forward as confidently and quickly as they deserved (versus spending years in therapy or on a lot of medication), I needed look beyond traditional psychotherapy and common approaches.
Attaining numerous certifications in alternative modalities, and armed with a dynamic toolbox of both conventional and non-traditional techniques, I began to see clients progress more quickly. Each was better able to tap the strengths they already had, more easily release symptoms of stress and trauma, and live happier lives.
With growing confidence, I then founded a small retreat business—such a fun, phenomenal way for participants to reduce stress, increase fitness and relaxation, and bond with like-minded others.
Many years and thousands of amazing people later . . .
In 2011, another life-changing opportunity came knocking: an invitation to join National Veterans Wellness & Healing Center, a seven-day residential program in New Mexico serving veterans experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress who attend with their partner/spouse or support person.
Soon recognizing the unique strength of veterans and their family members, I wholeheartedly embraced the mission and served as a counselor and Program Co-Director for seven incredible years. In the summer of 2017, I decided to bring home what I had learned to my Colorado community . . . and stop replacing my tires so often!
To witness the triumph of the human spirit is a gift, and I love what I do. The people who bravely share their stories continue to be my best teachers—better than any classroom or book, which keeps me learning and helping where I can.
With the Jan ‘20 launch of Pivotal Impact programs, I'm thrilled to offer my individual life coaching, retreats, speaking programs, and team trainings now under one “roof” and one name.
Whether I'm working, exploring outdoors, or just sharing a laugh, I’m always in pursuit of the best life possible for others and myself.
If you're feeling “frozen” as I was on Angels Landing, or just want to pursue a better life, a more effective team, or a relaxing retreat, I'd be honored to work with you.