I didn’t earn the nickname Sunshine for my sunny disposition. The truth is that I can rock a stellar RBF without even trying and so many a coworker over decades in various corporate environments have tagged me with “Sunshine” out of sheer sarcasm. I’m always impressed that they know this to be my nickname, especially when it’s early in our relationship. Ha!
The RBF is usually a result of deep concentration, planning, or under-caffeinated early mornings. As unintentional as my facial expressions may be, I latched on to the nickname early and I’ve stuck with it through the years. That’s why it became my go to alias when the time of reinvention presented itself in 2018.
I had spent a lot of time in the IT industry, rapidly developing my skills from help desk to leadership level. I worked hard, I soaked up the advice of my mentors along the way, and I got shit done. I thrived under the pressure of deadlines. I loved to write documentation when I could leverage my creativity. Starting with a blank slate and an end goal always sparked a flame in me. I felt I could truly shine when I produced amazing results and reaped the rewards.
This is why I was undaunted when our family moved from Lexington, KY to Dallas, TX. In fact, I was stoked at the sheer volume of opportunity that awaited me in the metroplex. I just knew that I would lock in that dream job if I could just get my foot in the door. I have been known to prove myself time and time again. I knew the value and skill set that I brought with me. It was simply a matter of convincing the interviewers of this and off I could fly.
But getting the interview proved much more difficult than I had anticipated. Fifteen years had passed since I had been a job seeker and I overlooked the key element that gets one’s foot in the door: who you know.
My first gig was a contract position that ended up lasting only four months. I tried to recall the last time I’d had a stint that short and I could only channel my teenage years. That was a long ass time ago, let me tell you. My second gig was full-time position that truly seemed full of promise and future. That was until the reorg happened seven months in as a result of a company acquisition. I’d been through those before, so I was unconcerned and ill prepared for the 15-minute meeting with my manager and director.
“I’ll get right to the point. As you know, we’ve done a reorg,” my director said. I nodded.
“And there’s no box for you,” he stated simply.
The best part about this deal (and I say this with a fair amount of sarcasm) is that I received the privilege of continuing to come to work on a daily basis for about a month or so, knowing that I was on borrowed time. For anyone who has been through an M&A, you understand the nuances that come with wearing an invisible “short timer” sign while walking the hallways.
Those experiences forced me to dig deep within myself and really ask, why am I here? What is it that I’m really supposed to do? Because it can’t be commuting in heavy traffic at least 90 minutes per day to be told that ultimately I don’t matter. I’m not faulting anyone who delivered that message to me. I will never envy that position. I had to get honest with myself and really ask for my intention and my power. If I’m not shining bright enough here, where do I shine?
The voice inside (you know the one) said to me, this life, my dear, is not for you. I listened hard and embraced the message.
Very early in the process, I set off to network with the deep relationships I’d built over the course of a year in a brand new place. One of the first lunch meetings that I had was with my SUP (stand up paddle board) coach, T. I really wanted to pick her brain because I knew I was slipping into the darkness. I knew I didn’t want to get out of bed if I didn’t really have to. But T’s daily social media posts about where she would be through the week (and she was everywhere – the lake, the gym, this place and that place) inspired me. I needed to know what made her tick. I needed to know how she got herself into a biz that required her to show up for others because I wouldn’t do that for myself.
So I asked her just that. I asked her what makes her show up. I’m not even sure what I was I was looking for in that moment beyond honesty (and I did get that). I wasn’t even sure what what I wanted from my life beyond knowing that I needed to show up for others in order to show up for myself. Did I want to be a fitness coach myself? Not necessarily, but I did know that I needed some kind of kick in the ass.
As we wrapped up our lunch and deep conversation, T said, “You know, I have a friend who’s studying to be a life coach. And in so doing, she has to work on herself. She loves it. She’s really enjoying the process.” It was a very matter-of-fact statement from T’s perspective, I suspect. But that was the moment the seed was planted. It had never occurred to me to consider to face deep thought work. I wasn’t even sure in that very moment that I knew what a life coach was.
It was just enough to steer me in that direction. I latched on to my first podcast while I walked the nature trails around my neighborhood and soaked up the sun. I soaked up the knowledge. I embraced my new normal.
This life, my dear, is exactly for you.
The mere idea of it sparked an enthusiasm I have never felt before. Certainly one that was not met through all of the corporate drama. I realized I was inserting myself into places where I could never truly shine. I was just a number. Just a box on an org chart. Another 15-minute dreaded meeting to check off.
In traveling this path to becoming a life coach, I realize that I am so much more. I have so much to give. I am reinventing.
I am Sunshine. I am Sunny. I am Sunny The Life Coach.