I am a native Floridian and grew up in a town called Winter Park, not far from downtown Orlando. I would say I had a relatively “normal” childhood – that is to say, it wasn’t until I was in therapy that I realized I even had trauma, which I know is a story that many people share. My Dad was a lawyer who didn’t practice law but was the CEO of a Title Insurance company, and my mom was a school teacher for many years and stopped teaching when I was in the 5th grade. I have one older brother.
I played volleyball and basketball growing up, loved taking care of animals and had a special affinity for horses. I made friends pretty easily, enjoyed school (up until a point) and had my first brush with therapy at age 15.
I felt at the time that my parents and I weren’t communicating as well as we could and asked them to set me up with a therapist (I mean…could there be any stronger indicator for me to become a therapist??). I genuinely enjoyed becoming more self-aware, and it was definitely a sign of things to come in my life purpose trajectory.
I graduated from high school at 17 and moved that fall to Charleston, SC where I was a freshman at the College of Charleston. I lived there until 2007 when I decided to move back to Florida to pursue a Master’s degree in mental health / marriage & family counseling.
It all reads as a pretty run of the mill, “normal” childhood, right? Yes and no. The above is how I chose to remember it, as a mere snapshot. But the truth is, I endured so much trauma that when I left for college, I was determined to build a life so bright and shiny that no one would ever guess that it had ever been any other way. And that’s exactly what I did… until it all caught up with me. I learned the hard way that the body never lies and that the subconscious never forgets and at some point, EVERYTHING catches up to you.
In 2007, I returned to Orlando to go to grad school. I would say the primary parts of my life during that time were career based: I finished grad school while working as a nanny (which kept me super busy), started a life coaching practice, worked at a psych-med baker act unit for two years and became a group therapist at a charter school for kids with significant mental health issues. I burned out quickly when I saw how broken our mental health care system really is, which was about 5 years into this 10 year journey.
I switched focuses and went back to school to study pediatric sleep coaching and then started a practice in 2013. Aside from that I was mostly focused on “adulting” – buying my first house, adopting my first puppy and attempting to create meaningful relationships.
The funny part is, once I finished all the degrees and got settled on a career path I actually enjoyed, my anxiety really started to set in. I had slowed down enough for my codependent patterns and unprocessed trauma to really take hold, and I spent a lot of time in my personal life trying to rescue, save and fix people. In hindsight, those patterns and choices are what ultimately brought Elli and I back into each other’s lives.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
The Panic Attacks
In November/December of 2015, 8 years after I had moved back to Orlando, I had a series of panic attacks – one that landed me in the hospital and another that required me to be driven home from New York because I had become so claustrophobic that I couldn’t board an airplane. I was terrified, and even as a therapist had no idea why it was all happening. But knew I needed some help.
I was told the panic attacks were a side effect of pretty severe anxiety and was prescribed medication “to manage it.” I lasted 3 weeks on medication, threw them away, promised myself I would never have another panic attack and would dedicate as much time as needed to helping myself holistically and said fuck “managing” anything, I wasn’t going to “manage” panic and anxiety, I was determined to eradicate it.
Anxiety is a tricky thing – it can fool you into thinking it’s not even there because it’s just “how I’ve always been.” I had never considered myself an anxious person, I had no idea that lack of presence with a mind mostly always focused somewhere else was a tell tail sign, AND I was a therapist at the time!! In therapy we focus on symptoms, on how whatever you’re dealing with is negatively impacting your life. And for the most part, I didn’t know that my lack of mindfulness was having an impact on my life – I got shit done, I had worked hard in school, started a business, owned a house and was “high functioning,” and then suddenly my world flipped upside down, and I had no idea how I got there.
I called Elli from the car the day I was being driven home from New York and basically said “HELP,” and we scheduled a session for the next day. I remember laying on the floor, talking to her on the phone during the session and saying what the actual F*ck is happening to me?? And her replying, “Bunny, you’re waking up.” I remember feeling so out of sorts and thinking, “well if that’s the case, I want to go back to sleep!!!” I had no clue what that meant at the time and basically spent the next solid 8-months putting my whole life on pause while working with her to figure it all out.
Those 8 months were scary AF as I pretty much learned how to live all over again, from a place of learning my brain, my true self and engaging in practices like yoga and meditation and self-care, every. single. day. It felt like it wasn’t working fast enough, and I would slip back into old patterns on almost a daily basis. Thankfully, I kept going. I didn’t have a choice. I hated anxiety, was determined to beat it and wasn’t going to stop until I did. And it worked. I never had another panic attack again. AND this was all without the aid of subconscious tools!!
The thing was, I required a lot of self-care to maintain a balanced nervous system. And because trauma and stress are actually looping in the subconscious mind, it wasn’t until Elli introduced me to PSYCH-K® three years later that I was able to begin a new normal that didn’t require endless upkeep and maintenance. Adding in the subconscious piece has been an absolute game changer AND I’m also really grateful for going through a significant part of my journey without it. I learned just how far I will go in the name of loving myself, how resilient and persistent I am and that I will adapt and go to the ends of the earth if necessary to help myself. Those “feel better” tools I relied heavily on still play a large role in our 4 Pillars and leaning on them heavily allowed me to understand them from the inside out in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’m a much better teacher for having lived through that. AND – I’m really grateful for PSYCH-K® for allowing me to fully heal and entirely release everything I had been carrying.
I Do The Work Too
Now when people come in at whatever stage of their own awakening, I want them to know – I get it. I get how hard change can be, I get how crippling anxiety feels, I get how frustrating transition feels when it’s moving “too slowly.” I also get how it feels on the other side, get how well the tools work if you can have the faith to follow them even when it seems fruitless and GET how important it is to have a mentor, teacher and tribe around you. I would’ve been lost without Elli and credit her for leading me down this incredible path. I feel grateful and privileged each day to be able to share what I’ve learned with others and watch as it helps ease their path and times of transition as well. I don’t often share this story but think it’s important for others to know – you never know what someone has been or what they have gone through. I always assume everyone has a story; assuming they don’t because of what the outside looks like is a fatal assumption – isolating at best and life changing in a negative way at the worst. I hold the other pieces of my story close to the vest, knowing my inner pieces are valuable, my story has worth and I choose when and who to share it with. But just know, I get it. And do the work because of it. 💫
Story 1: Creative Thinking
Here comes a story….two parts really; one was how I used to always misinterpret directions in school. Especially in English class – we would get an assignment, I would read the directions and would deliver what I thought fulfilled said instructions and would often get: “yes, but..I was looking for xyz and you turned in abc…” and I would respond back: according to the instructions I actually colored within the lines – and almost always, I was right. I had colored within the lines and for whatever reason had interpreted the instructions differently than everyone else.
Story 2: I’m a Mani Gen, Baby
I went to grad school because I had majored in psychology and felt a kinship with wanting to help people. Post grad school I worked in lock down psych units and a charter school for kids with mental health diagnoses. I felt burnt out after just two years. A mentor suggested I look into pediatric sleep consulting, which I did and then started my own practice. A few years into that I began having my own anxiety / panic issues and began working with my old friend @ellirichter. Through that work I discovered self-care and holistic ways to nurture / treat myself. From there I started a nonprofit (while still sleep consulting) that taught programs about self-care to help others with their own anxiety, depression and life transitions. I did that for 3 years, dissolved that business and continued teaching classes, coaching 1 on 1, doing sleep consults and then pursued facilitating PSYCH-K®. Seems like a lot of different balls to juggle right? I was always worried people would judge me to be “a jack of all trades, master of none” all while feeling like I was pretty damn good at all of those services.
Then through Elli, I discovered Human Design. It turns out I’m a Manifesting Generator, and I’m made to pursue multiple avenues all at the same time while pivoting and releasing what no longer lights me up. I’m also, according to HD very creative and designed to see things in entirely new ways (eat that English class ☺️). I get hit with emotional waves and if I wait before making decisions and sleep on them, I never go astray. (That’s not the correct strategy for everyone btw).
All of that is to say that we are all not made the same way. We each have a unique design and when that design is considered, all of our pieces begin to make sense. The parts of ourselves that didn’t seem to fit when compared to the masses become our super strengths. Human Design bridges that gap and helps to hack your perceived “short comings” as a way to leverage them as strengths and to help quickly ID where you have been carrying shame and limiting beliefs.