meet coach penny

As I enter my 7th year in the practice of life coaching, my heart is full and I’m truly excited for what God is doing.  Here’s a glimpse at my journey and hope you find encouragement for your own life.  When life throw’s you a curve ball or two, take heart.  It’s never too late for a course correction…

Here’s my story…

For over 25 years, I have been on a personal pursuit of alignment with the life I was created for.  Growing up a middle child, I felt lost much of my earlier years.  I felt like I didn’t fit in and that somehow I didn’t belong.  With the help of much prayer and applying God’s truth in my life, I developed a better sense of what was true about me and I realized my discomfort with my world was not because there was something wrong with me, but there was something wrong with the way I interpreted my place in the world.  I realized that I wasn’t meant to just “fit in”.  I was created to be unique.  I had a personality that didn’t always mesh with everyone else’s.  I had perceptions that not everyone else shared.  I had gifts and talents that as a child, left me feeling “odd”, but were the very things that  made my life special.   The established systems and the way others lived around me gave me the impression that I had to let go of my uniqueness to be “normal” and survive my world.  My own fears of rejection and failure allowed the judgments and dictates of others to rule over me and I chose to do whatever it took to be accepted and fit in.

As I neared my 40th birthday (almost 10 years ago now), I decided I was tired of feeling like a child, trying to “please” everyone else all the time, fearful of saying what I really thought about things, and lacking confidence as an adult.  I began a personal pursuit of freedom from these forces that I had allowed to act on me throughout my life.  It was scary to begin making choices that aligned with “the real me”.  Up until that point, when the people I loved or respected looked at me funny or challenged my perceptions, I’d always assumed I was wrong and needed to change my thinking or behavior.  Then, it dawn on me one day… “Why have I given everyone else’s voice so much more power over me than my own voice?”  I realized that in my own self-doubting, I had willfully submitted myself to people with strong opinions about all sorts of things…assuming that their confidence meant that they were “right” and I was wrong.  In several cases, sharing my true thoughts about things meant possible rejection or accusations of being disloyal or just “difficult”.  I was not one to upset apple carts.  I had been a peacemaker much of my life and to confront or challenge popular ideas (among my family, church, or friendship circles) felt extremely dangerous.  Everything inside me screamed “Don’t do it or you will die!!!”  But then, I discovered that the fear was a smokescreen to keep me bound up!

Over the next few years, I decided to be more true to my inner voice….to say what I really wanted to say in response to questions, to resist offering pleasantries when I knew inside they weren’t genuine, to get in touch with what I really liked and wanted instead of just doing what everyone else wanted all the time.  I began drawing boundaries with others when I felt their words or behaviors were damaging to me and I began removing myself from places or groups that weren’t really who or what I wanted to be a part of…even if I couldn’t define why I needed to step away.  I began learning how to trust the voice inside that had been trying to lead me my whole life.  As a young Christian in my 20’s, I had a clear sense of God leading me initially, but all the challenges along the way left me confused, doubting my ability to hear God’s voice.  I began to push back any thoughts that seemed out of alignment with what I knew to be true and resting thoughts fueled by fears.

My first radical personal leap was to decide to run a marathon, to which one of my loved ones exclaimed, ‘why would you want to do something like that?!’  Fear and doubt of my commitment immediately arose, but I was determined to live MY life and stop allowing the opinions of others to deter me.  Nine months later, I completed the Chicago Marathon (my 1 and only marathon) with a time I was proud of…a humbling, but concrete representation of the truth about the potential strength that existed within me.

Now, I wish I could tell you that as I continued my journey, everything ended happily ever after.  Initially, however, that was not the case.  Whether it was a direct response to my choices, the natural unfolding of events, or God’s mercy redirecting me for a better path ahead, several huge things occurred within a year.  My husband of 16 years decided he wanted a divorce, I decided to leave my church family of 20+ years, and after not working outside the home for several years, I had to re-open my search for a career.  As a woman of faith, I found peace trusting that difficult circumstances were part of life’s journey and that temporary pain would yield joy.  And so it did…

Fear would have led me to panic about being alone the rest of my life or not being able to make it financially or having missed my calling as a spiritual leader.  I battled old patterns of thinking every day, but decided to trust that God was with me….and that it would be ok.  For a couple months, I read, prayed, studied, and waited.  Doing everything I knew to do, without clarity of the next step, I waited.  And then, a friend told me about the field of life coaching…

I had heard about people like Oprah having a life coach, but didn’t really have a clue what it was about or how it worked.  I purchased a book and began researching the field.  Within a few chapters and a few days, I knew I had found the field I was created for.  For 20 years through my work in the ministry, I had helped other people find meaningful ways to use their gifts and talents to serve and had a mantra of wanting to “help people be all that God had created them to be”.  But, since I stepped away from work in the church, I had no idea that theme would resurface for my life outside the church.

I realized that theme truly is part of who I am and at the core of my passions for contributing in the world.  I genuinely wanted to see others be who they were created to be and experience more of the life we as human beings are made to experience.  I realized that at my core, I was a “life coach”!  So, I jumped all-in and enrolled in the Coach University professional coach training program.  The initial financial investment was significant, but I pushed through the fear of not having enough and clicked the “submit” button to enroll in the coach training program anyway.  Within a few months, I launched my coaching practice. Within 9 months, I had completed my basic coach training program.  A year later, I continued in the advanced coach training program and in August of 2014, earned my ACC (Associate Certified Coach) designation with the International Coaching Federation.

Now in my 7th year as a practicing Professional Life Coach, I continue to evolve, but love that I have had this opportunity to serve people in this way.  Choosing to spread my wings and allow my true identity to emerge with a renewed sense of authenticity and purpose required courage.  I have discovered that facing fears and taking risks are the very things that open new paths for personal growth and expansion.  Through my own journey, I am convinced even more than ever that the world is full of people just like me…stuck…bound-up…afraid…letting others tell them how they should live…living below their potentials…struggling for meaning and real living!  I want to be the voice and the extended hand that offers support, encourages courage, challenges limiting beliefs, and reminds others of the truth of who THEY really are.  I am committed to be a catalyst for others to break out of the cocoons, find their wings, and experience more of the life they were created for!  As the heart beats, so shall you live!

With outstretched arms and honor for who YOU are, I invite you to live fully alive!

Take courage!  Be all who you’ve been created to be!

Warmly, Penny