- A Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University Chicago.
- A Certified Health & Wellness Coach through Wellcoaches. Wellcoaches has been a pioneer in the coaching industry since 2002. They are fully endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.
- Christian Brothers Retreat House working with teenagers from all over the Chicago area.
- Loyola University Chicago as a Chaplain for Campus Ministry.
- Internship at the Doyle Center at Loyola University helping inner-city families coping with day-to-day stressors.
- Villa Duchesne School in St. Louis, MO as a teacher and personal counselor.
- St. Stephens Catholic Community parish as a Pastoral Counselor.
- Teacher/volunteer at St. Michael’s Academy in the Rainbows Program.
- Certified Health & Wellness Coach
- Meditation Teacher and Facilitator
- Public Speaker on meditation, self-compassion, and leading a balanced and joyful life.
My health and wellness interests began in 1983 as a freshman in college at the University of Maine in Orono. I began my college education in pursuit of a major in Health and Recreation. One of the first classes in my curriculum was a Personal Fitness class. I had always felt very healthy physically playing basketball in Junior High, cheerleading in high school and adept at almost any sport I tried. However, this professor taught me how little I knew about fitness. We started off the semester by being timed to run 1 mile. We ran on an indoor track at the Field House. I remember thinking, “One mile? No problem.” I started off in good spirits, high confidence, but within about 6 minutes, I knew I was in trouble. The pain in my side was becoming stronger and I could not ignore it any longer. I had no idea how to get it to subside, so I stopped and laid down on the track. I didn’t care that people were running past me, I just wanted the pain to go away.
After a few minutes, I got up and finished the mile at a slow jog. My time was over 16 minutes. Yikes! I had some work to do. I had some things to learn about fitness. And fortunately, I had a great professor who believed in me. I committed to a running regimen that semester, and when we did the one mile run again at the end of the semester, I finished it in under 12 minutes. For me, I felt like I had achieved so much. My love for running continued for another 33 years. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to speak to my professor on the phone. I told him how much I had learned from him in that class. I also told him that I had gone for a 3-mile run that morning without lying down once! We both laughed.
1994 was a huge year for me. Not only did I finish my Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University Chicago, but I also got married. We moved to Missouri and I taught at a Catholic all-girl high school. I loved this job! And I was eventually offered the opportunity to become the Personal Counselor for the school. I loved the work because I loved the process of helping the girls get beyond the emotions that seemed to have such a grip on them. I was in my element working in groups and teaching a psychology class to the seniors. Psychology was a passion for me intellectually and professionally. My graduate program prepared me for this position because it’s where I learned how to incorporate psychological development with theological/spiritual development.
In 1997, my husband’s job moved us to Florida, and I began working as a counselor at our local parish. Our son was just 18 months old and we had another baby on the way. Motherhood was becoming more of my focus. We eventually moved to a Fernandina, Florida and I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. I pursued part time jobs as a personal trainer, I wrote articles for a local publication, I worked at a physical therapy clinic, all the while waiting to see what my life would be like once our children were grown and moved away. All the while pursuing interests in health and wellness.
In 1999, I began playing doubles tennis for local clubs. This became a true passion of mine. There’s so much about tennis that I enjoy and soon tennis became more important to me than running. So I began to use running as a means to stay in shape for tennis.
In 2013 I became a Wellness Advocate for doTERRA Essential Oils. This was a training ground for me to learn how to start my own business. I had always worked for a company or organization. I had never thought about working for myself and it was scary, but exciting. I had some support from my upline, but they were all so far away. I decided that I would work hard at teaching classes on my own and finding people who were open to using alternative methods for alleviating health issues. I learned so much about trusting myself and the power of working hard at something I believed in and knew others could benefit from. I still sell doTERRA by the way, if you’re interested! Their products are a vital part of my every day health regimen.
In 2016 I began having issues with my lower back. It started with a soreness upon waking in the morning. I ignored it. It always worked itself out by the time I began my morning run. I had also been playing tennis for local clubs mostly on clay courts and only doubles. After about a year of this, and working at a physical therapy clinic that had a no-give concrete floor, my back began speaking more loudly to me. I would have to ice it after work every night. I know it’s ironic that I worked at a physical therapy clinic. The therapists would take their turns working on me and sometimes I would get up and feel great, completely mobile. Other times, it didn’t help at all. So I finally went for an X-ray and found out that it was arthritis in my lower back. I quit running immediately. The doctor told me that surgery was about 10 years away. We didn’t talk about tennis because I knew I was not going to quit that. I would find ways to manage the pain. And this began my deeper journey into health and wellness.
Having arthritis gave me the opportunity to learn more about coping with pain. I tried a multitude of methods and modalities to decrease inflammation. I went to a chiropractor, I did cryotherapy, I had neuromuscular massage, I had cranio-sacral massage, I began eating foods high in fat and low in carbs and cutting out almost all sugar. And while I am still in pursuit of that magic bullet to cure my arthritis, I am taking even better care of myself physically and mentally. By doing this, I am learning more ways of helping others take better care of themselves. So now I look at my arthritis as an opportunity to experiment and learn, which is how I work with my clients. We experiment and we learn.
In 2017, my kids had fled the nest and my husband and I were on our own. He had started his own company in 2010 and I support him by doing the bookkeeping for his company. I had also decided to work only on an as needed basis at the physical therapy clinic. A friend of mine told me she was getting her certification as a Health and Wellness Coach. My ears perked up on this and I asked, “What’s that?” She explained a little about how it’s a means of helping others achieve better health by coaching them. I exclaimed, “I want to do that!” And this began the next chapter of my life!
In July 2018 I received my Health & Wellness Coach certification from Wellcoaches. It was one of the best programs I had ever experienced. The instructors were extremely well-versed in the world of coaching and modeled the coaching characteristics to a tee. Within a few short classes I became a true believer in the power of coaching. We would practice with other students using the methods we were learning. And we found ourselves exclaiming, “Wow! This really works!” We learned about Positive Psychology, Appreciative Inquiry, Motivational Interviewing and brain science. I loved all of it because it all made sense to me.
Wellcoaches training reminded me of my graduate school program where I learned about Carl Rogers and client-centered therapy. This is the theory of psychology that assumes that the client holds all the answers to their life’s problems within themselves. And it is the therapist’s job to assist clients with looking within themselves for those answers. The therapist enables the client to get beyond defense mechanisms, negative self-talk, etc. and resolve various issues from childhood and other stages of their development. What I love about coaching is that it continues beyond therapy by helping people move forward into the future they want to create for themselves. I love coaching because it uses Positive Psychology, Motivational Interviewing, and unconditional positive regard to help my clients achieve a higher level of joy and fulfillment in their lives.