I grew up in a family of hard-working people. My father studied intellectual European history, built guitars for a living, and then settled into a career working as a contractor for NASA. My grandfather is 90 and still works his 2 acre garden: feeding all of us with corn, turnips, peppers, tomatoes and more every year. My other grandfather was an entrepreneur who worked until the day he passed. Both grandmothers and my mother take pride in what they do: the whole family has managed to find a certain alignment with their life’s work. I have been surrounded by this from the moment I was born and I knew whatever career I chose needed to allow me to work hard while feeling proud of what I was accomplishing.

I wanted to be a holistic practitioner during college, but at the time I did not know that there were career options available on that path. All the natural practitioners I knew were essentially starving artists. So I settled into the next best thing in my book: a job as a 911 medical dispatcher while toying with natural remedies as a hobby. I was extremely talented at dispatch and had a lot of support the first few years. I learned how to handle myself under extreme stress and am grateful for the coping mechanisms that I discovered during this time. But these coping mechanisms could not contain the stress of being out of alignment.

The longer I was in dispatch, the harder it became. The work wore on my conscience: I knew I didn’t belong in this environment. I wanted to help people with chronic problems find their wellness instead of patching up acute crises as they arose. Every time someone called asking for an ambulance, I felt like we were just putting bandaids on gunshot wounds. I began to feel like there was a heavy weight on me.

The heavy weight was compounded from the stress of personal situations and the toll of 12 hour shifts. I took the call for a family member’s suicide. I watched a coworker help family members attempt CPR on their grandmother without breaking the anonymity. Working all night and suffering from a damaged circadian rhythm wore down the thin facade that what I was doing made any difference. I began having dizzy spells and was sleeping all the time, but I was not going to give up just because of a bit of weakness.

I had been instilled with the idea that hard work was one of the most important things I could do. I took the lesson a bit too literally and kept toiling away at a job that did not fit my personality or vision for my life. I held on to this delusion that paying the bills with something so uncomfortable at least allowed me to feel like my life had purpose. I dismissed the symptoms I was feeling and hoped they would eventually disappear as I kept pushing forward.

This delusion would not continue long. About the time our medical dispatch combined with police dispatch, I found myself in a physically abusive relationship. So my stress levels skyrocketed and a lot of my coping mechanisms could no longer keep the physical consequences of my lifestyle at bay. I would suffer abuse in the afternoon and then go to a 12 hour night shift: sometimes even having to block out my memories while helping other battered people try to get assistance. My refusal to deal with the strain and the constant pretending everything was ok started to finally take a dangerous toll.

I began having strong bouts of dizziness with no warning. I slept even longer and was hurting all over. Even then, I chalked it up to stress, depression, and lack of quality sleep, and chose to dismiss the symptoms as harmless so I could justify pushing forward. I did not recognize them as the warning signs they were until I the night I suffered an acute allergic crisis.

This particular evening, I was at work and my hands started itching. Initially I thought it was just a reaction to something used to clean the desk. So I went to the bathroom to wash my hands and by the time I returned, my feet were itching too. The itching became so intense it morphed into a painful, burning sensation, but this was only the beginning of my problems that night.

The confusion that set in as the rash grew was even more terrifying. I was unable to remember basic things about myself. It got so bad that I refused to go to the hospital that was two blocks away because I thought it was the hospital that was thirty minutes from us. By the time I made it to the hospital, the burning red rash had managed to creep the whole way up my legs, abdomen, and chest, and was beginning to cover my neck.

After the doctors treated me for my adrenal insufficiency, they informed me I would be on prednisone for the rest of my life. This caused me to embark on a healing journey that helped me to realize I needed a full lifestyle change. I managed to get away from my abuser, I started to eat healthier and exercise more, and I returned to my original love of holistic health. I knew these were the first steps to changing my mindset. I needed to realign and allow for my hard work to become more satisfying and to allow for a healthier existence.

In three months I was off the prednisone and ready to change careers. I did not immediately leave dispatch, but I began working toward a more serious approach to my desire to be a full time practitioner. Within six months I was ready to make the leap of faith into a full time business. I was now embracing hard work with an upgraded paradigm. I was able to feel pride in my path again: the same type of pride I see in my family as they go about their work. Now I feel as if I am helping people with their chronic issues instead of just putting bandaids on bullet wounds: and I am not a “starving artist”!

I make a comfortable living now, but more important than the full time income is the connections I have made to so many kind hearted individuals. I get to spend my days empowering people to take charge of their health and encouraging practitioners to step out into the light and showcase the transformations they offer. I have time for my family, my health, and I sleep regular hours every night. I no longer have dizzy spells and have never had another adrenal crisis. Getting into alignment with the changes I desire to affect has saved my life.

Getting into alignment with what you want to offer the world can feel uncomfortable at first, but I encourage you to begin walking that path. Choosing to go an unconventional route and stepping outside of your routine is scary. What is scarier is being stuck in a rut that is unfulfilling, unhealthy, and unchanging. We should be more afraid of what is happening to us when we refuse to step into our power than what might happen if we take that risk!

I was lucky: my health crisis did not ruin my life and I have been blessed with the opportunity to start fresh. Others have had a much harder time. Use the vitality you have available to you today to start moving your life toward the path you know you should be taking. Take some baby steps toward being who you always wanted to be. Overcome your insecurities and remember: when you implement changes correctly, you can get in alignment with your desires and emerge happier, healthier, and more abundant!