Life is full of transitions and as you will read, I’ve had a few.
I started out my adult life working in psychiatric hospitals, first as a teacher in a children’s unit, then as a unit chief for an adolescent service and finally, after getting a clinical degree in social work, as a therapist at the Veteran’s Administration. During this time, I worked with dreams and experienced their healing power in people with severe trauma.
After 13 years I decided to experience life in a different way and explored a number of careers. I studied acting and earned a living doing bit parts on soap operas, went to law school for a year and a half before realizing that I didn’t want to argue for a living and filled in the gaps by bartending. And then I had a friend who had a Ph.D. in math and was taking a course for the fun of it in something called telecommunications. He taught me everything I needed to know to land a job on Wall Street in the IT department of a brokerage house. And from there, things took off.
For the next 20+ years the phone would ring and someone would be offering me a bigger job and more money and more status. I worked for some big-name companies (EF Hutton, JP Morgan, PricewaterhouseCoopers, McCann Worldgroup) and achieved the titles of COO, CRO, Managing Director and CIO. It was a wonderful time from a career perspective, I traveled the world and learned a great deal about technology, real estate and risk management.
And then in my 50’s, on my birthday (just in case I missed the point) I was fired for the first time in my life. It wasn’t for cause; I was the CIO of a global advertising firm and they were grateful for my work. It was just that there was someone else who was much better connected to the CEO than I had who wanted my job. I was confronted with my own naiveté and failure to understand the relationship aspect of a senior position in a global organization.
I didn’t know it at the time but that was the last corporate job that I would ever hold. I spent several years trying to get back into a position like the one I had and in the process lost everything that I had worked for. At one point, I was saving empty boxes to keep in the kitchen cabinets so my kids wouldn’t think we were running out of food. And I began to write down my dreams. They informed me of a larger purpose which felt insufficiently vague in a time where I was struggling for survival. But they kept me going.
Finally, I gave up trying to re-enter the corporate world and became what I am fairly certain was the oldest personal trainer in Manhattan. That experience of getting people back into their bodies led to a desire to get back into some sort of healing profession. A friend suggested that I look into a coaching program and that led to my current work and a new, larger version of myself.
What I’ve come to understand is that there are many gifts in what we call the Dark Night of the Soul and most of them are revealed to us through our dreams. My own experience tells me that we are so much more than we think we will ever be and the path to get there just requires being open to answering some powerful questions. I enjoy asking them.