My Story
Phoenix Rising

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“We must always change, renew, and rejuvenate ourselves:

Otherwise we harden.”

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I suddenly found myself in the ER hovering between life and death, uncertain which outcome would prevail. This day, a few years ago, began like any ordinary day of so many. It was a beautiful sunny day and I began it with coffee on my outside deck and soon after left for work. The morning was uneventful and in early afternoon I left my workplace in a rush to drive to another state to facilitate a meeting. I was running late; on the way to my car I dropped the mountain of papers I had been carrying with me. In quick irritation I reached to scoop them up. As I did so I felt a piercing pain in my arm; I thought the notebooks I was carrying were pinching my arm and I would fix them as soon as I entered my car. But the pain got worse, forcing me to see what was going on and much to my surprise I saw a yellow jacket stinging me. I brushed it off and got in my car and began driving, the pain got worse and I wondered if it was my imagination but I looked down just in case and to my horror the stinger was still in and it appeared to have continued to sting me for a few additional minutes. The next moments are a blur; I was in anaphylactic shock, crashing fast, in an ambulance – lights flashing and siren blaring – on my way to the ER. In the blink of an eye I had gone from perfectly healthy to death’s door step. I knew I was dying; no one had to tell me.

 

In the ER, after I was stabilized, a group of doctors surrounded me, and I said to them “I almost died, didn’t I?” and they all nodded vigorously in unison. When it was clear I would live, I asked for paper and pen because I was getting a strong message from the other side while I hovered on the precipice between life and death. “The life you are living is not worth living,” The crux of the message was that I had a new mission and a new life to live. I needed to take leap of faith and leave my current high prestige position, six figure plus income with a pension and have faith that my next steps would appear. The end of the message was very clear – if I failed to heed the message next time there would be no warning, it would be the end of this life for me. I felt the energy in the message as unconditionally loving with my best interest at the center. Nonetheless, I was shocked and the message made no sense to me. The previous day at work someone had told me what a collaborative, inspiring leader I was and what’s more I was a big sister and a mentor to many. I was quite shaken. I knew I could not rise to the challenge of my near-death experience alone. Where to turn? I had heard many uplifting stories about people who had been working with a coach. In desperation, I hired a life coach. It took me a year of work with my coach to gain the courage to follow this guidance. 

 

With my coach’s invaluable help and support I slowly, over time, began to see the stark reality of my life that I had denied and blinded myself to. One day I found myself writing the truth of my descent into anaphylactic shock:

Buried alive in work at a job no longer suited to me, multi-tasking in the extreme, rushing to my car in a parking lot, I was too busy and distracted to see a yellow jacket. This humbling observation ran like shock waves through me, a long-time mindfulness practitioner. How did I let this happen?

This truth burst forth through my false narrative about my life, I could now see the façade my life had become. I had moved from doing work I loved to doing work I was capable of with no scrap left of what I loved, let alone liked. Worse my days were consumed in work that was depleting and sucking the life out of me. Soon more suppressed memories arose. I remember returning home from an international trip and going over to my neighbors for a quick trip to retrieve my mail. They asked me to come in for a minute and inside they told me to sit down and enjoy the coffee and croissants they had laid out so beautifully on the table.  They told me it would be nice for a change if I was not always a drive by experience. I sat down and enjoyed the conversation and when my neighbor spoke about his boss too busy for relationships, too busy to live her life, I felt the tears streaming down my face. I began to surrender on a deeper level, long buried and suppressed feelings came to the surface; I felt how much I had let work devour my life, how quality time with friends and family had slowly disappeared from my life. My hobbies had become a distant memory. Without realizing it, or more to the point – without wanting to admit it, I was living a life not worth living, a life where I was going through the motions.

 

I started spending more quality time with family and friends and I became more and more sustained by the depth and meaning of our conversations, returned to my hobbies; ballroom dancing, hiking, music, and art, while exploring new career avenues. I got up with the sunrise and journaled. As I reflected on my life I could see that loathe as I was to admit it, I was living someone else’s version of what a successful life was and not my own. I was living outside in and not inside out. Together with my coach, I discovered new space emerging within me making room for my identity, my voice, and my power. The life I am living now is well worth living. I love my life and I am grateful to be alive at this time in history on our planet.

 

Once I experienced the power of coaching, I had a burning desire to offer others the same magic that I had experienced with my coach.  My greatest joy in life is to support people to become more than they ever thought possible. I enrolled with the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) to get my professional coach certification.

 

I am an avid learner and have enthusiastically embraced innovative coaching approaches, most especially neuroscience and the way it has radially disrupted our understanding of what shapes our perception and behavior.  I enrolled in several neuroscience of coaching courses; practicing these new tools and techniques gave me a firsthand understanding of their power. In my own life, I have experienced a new sense of liberation and well-being. When working with clients, I notice the value of using whole system intelligence and the corresponding remarkable shifts in perception, behavior and insight.  This has revolutionized my coaching and inspired me to specialize in the neuroscience.

 

If you are interested in experiencing the power of coaching, I invite you to a complimentary session. You will leave this session equipped with new ways to approach your challenge.

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TRAINING, AFFILIATION, AND EDUCATION

HEARTMATH INSTITUTE, Boulder Creek, CA Resilient Heart   In progress

MINDSIGHT, Los Angeles, CA  Interpersonal Neurobiology       

HARVARD UNIVERSITY, Cambridge, MA  Institute of Coaching Affiliate  

INSTITUTE OF PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE IN COACHING, Shrewsbury, NJ

Certified Professional Coach, CPC

COACHES RISING, Amsterdam  Neuroscience of Change  

HARVARD UNIVERSITY, Cambridge, MA Negotiation and Leadership Program

BOSTON UNIVERSITY, Boston, MA  PhD                                   

Areas of Specialization: Psychology, Social Psychology, and Medical Sociology

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Christine Johnson PhD, CPC, ELI-MP

Challenge As Invitation Coaching and Consulting

(401) 489-5209

cj@challengeasinvitation.com

ChallengeAsInvitationCoaching.com