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I have luggage, not baggage and I own it!

Updated: Aug 8, 2022




After 20 something years working as a nurse in the UK, I relocated to the USA, following my partner on a brand new adventure. I knew there would be challenges, deep learning curves and many uncertainties. I was though, very confident in the ultimate success of the move, I have after all, done this before, alone. This time was to be different.


I arrived in the USA excited, adrenaline pumping, ready for the new chapter in my life. Within weeks Covid locked us down and my life was suddenly wrapped in devastating fear, uncertainty and mind-blowing anxiety. My Doctors feared the worst for me and ordered me to lockdown and see no one. I have only once in my life experienced such deep fear and angst. Like everyone else in the world I stayed safe and made plans to be protected. Living with a chronic heart condition, I took this very seriously. Part of this health protection plan, was to walk many, many miles a day. It became a place where I could breathe, reflect and escape from the overwhelming emotions I was experiencing . I spent a lot of my walking time speaking and contributing to a social media health support group I belonged to. I carried a heavy emotional load helping others in the group. I was frustrated and annoyed, I struggled with feelings guilt and uselessness. I wanted to do more, I needed to do more! During one of the support group chats a fellow attendee asked me if I was a Life or Health Coach and if I wasn't one, I should make hurry up and become one.



This was intriguing, what is this Life and Health Coach business? What do they do?

And so the research started, the discussions with my partner about a complete career change and leaving nursing career completely.


Within months I found a new life direction, a new purpose and hopefully a new career that used most of my nursing skills. I was excited. It was the first time in months that I was able to enjoy the possibility of no fear or anxiety. I was going to invest in myself and become a Life Coach. After much deliberation, I enrolled as a student at the Health Coach Institute (HCI). It was a complete and stunning match from day one! They taught me the beautiful parallel between health and life coaching, how the one needed and depended on the other and vice versa. The complement was perfect with my past.


The commitment to my studies was intense and exhausting, but at the same time exhilarating and mind-blowing! I started making friends, all over zoom! These beautiful friends, some of whom I still haven’t met face to face, has become integral to my life in America.

Slowly but surely the anxiety, the depression and the fear caused by covid lockdown and isolation started lifting. I was able to see the wood form the trees and that is when the next level of deep learning happened for me.

I started linking every nursing and medical conversation I have ever had with coaching. I discovered my coaching skill set, my coaching voice and vision.



As my HCI personal coach helped me define my future, he at the same time helped me see all the connections to my past. How the ‘meanings’ I made as child of events that happed, helped map my life path. It was a mind altering and life changing moment. I took ownership of all the events, moments and hangups I was conscious of. Owning them, I was able to change them! Take responsibility for them. I was not under their dictatorship anymore, I was free of anger and fear! I was able to forgive people, I was able to see my relationships clearly and what my role and responsibilities were.


I finally started moving forward, as an owner of all my issues, hang ups and complications. My oversized, bulging matching luggage was mine (just for your information, I have never had or owned baggage, I own and use luggage).

It all stopped being bags given to me by someone. It became my own, beautiful, weird, large and stunning matching luggage! I can redesign them, I can mould them and make them work for me!

I was no longer a victim of my circumstances, but the proud owner of my own life meanings!


‘The meaning someone makes about what happened, is more important than the content of what happened (The 10 foundational paradigms of HCI Transformation 2019)’.



As I continued to work on this and became more conscious to my life and past events, I learnt that I had silenced my voice, my heart and my gut. I allowed my head to dictate coping and surviving mechanisms. I was missing out on so much in my life, I was allowing fear and anxiety to dominate, only focussing on the end game, the future and all its plans.

In my second year at HCI, I had gorgeous moment in a coaching session when I realised that my biggest escape and coping method was to plan the future! Between the belly laughs and streaming tears of realisation, I concluded and accepted that I had no control over tomorrow or the future. I knew in my heart I had no grasp on tomorrow, but that it was my ego in my head dictated the illusion that I needed to gain command of it. I still have a big compassionate smile on my face at my nativity.

“To be connected to the voice of my heart is to be calm, quiet and conscious in the moment. Being connected to my quiet is giving a voice to what my brain silenced decades ago.”

(James Van Der Walt - VanDerWalt Coaching LLC).



This of course helped set in motion the discovery of the biggest judgement I held over me in my life. During a prolific and deeply motivating coaching session with my business coach, I was asked to discuss my thoughts on promoting my coaching business online in a live video? I knew this topic was coming and my business coach’s timing was spot on. But what I didn’t see coming was the Shut down! Total and complete ceasing of brain activity. Blank!

My heart tried so hard to take over and help. Nothing! My brain had brought down the curtain of the show.

My coach beautifully noticed this epic event and calmed the situation, moving the topic for another time. What she did do, which I will always be very grateful for, was to challenge me to reflect on what happened. There was something deeper here. I affectionally call it: “She TCM-ed me” (The Transformational Coaching Method).

I left the session, devastated, disappointed and confused. I worked so hard to allow my heart to speak, why did my brain just take over?


It took me days to be quiet enough to finally hear it, (the irony is real and its not lost on me!).

I hated my voice, the actual physical vibrations that is my voice, I could not stand it.



I spend the next two weeks just listening, writing and being quiet. I heard my heart ask me so many questions, but non of them needed to be answered. They were comforting and calming. There was no action to be taken, no chase to be had. I just had to start listening and STOP WORKING!

Stop active self improvement, to start your natural conscious improved human development. Stop, Listen and Grow!

(James Van Der Walt - VanDerWalt Coaching LLC)


Working on everything was actually taking me out of my present state, away from hearing the truth. Here I was “working” on becoming this ‘elevated’, more conscious human and at the same time rejecting my voice, my heart, rejecting me.

…Surprise! You can’t do both.


This huge unconscious limiting belief in my life, this overwhelming, disabling judgement that I had to overcome, could now stop. I don’t have to work to perfect me. My voice is after all my heart, my desires, my inspirations, my creative thoughts, my instincts,

it is ME.


I laughed and cried with both my coaches, because that’s when I saw ‘the meanings we make about what happened’ waving at me. It was carrying all my beautiful matching luggage. It was waiting for me to join it for a soothing calm cup of tea on the beach of quiet. I have come full circle. I am expanding now, listening further and hearing bigger potential possibilities for myself and those I serve.

I still have moments where I want grab all my luggage and run, but as Paul Terry once said in his New York gossip column in 1937, “Whenever I feel the urge to run, I lie down until the foolish notion has past”.


I started this journey many years ago unconsciously, but now I am walking it consciously. Seeing, hearing and feeling all of it. I blessed with beautifully matching life luggage, knowledge that creativity only happens in uncertainty and that I can use my voice, to speak my truth loudly, because I know it, love it and own it!


Thank you Health Coach Institute! You all rock!




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