I laid in bed crying. I couldn’t sleep because I was so uncomfortable. The boot that they put my foot in after my Achilles ruptured was big and heavy and the plans that I had created for my life upon re-entering the US after a 12-year stint in Eastern and Central Europe were absolutely on hold. It is awful hard to stand on stages, lead workshops, and see acupuncture patients on one leg.

So, I laid there, staring at the ceiling, crying asking whoevertheheckisoutthere to show me what to do next.

How could I utilize the next three months that I’d be in bed in a way that would allow me to feel productive and like I’m still helping the people I’m meant to help?

The last time I asked for help feeling as desperately as this was just before I made my first transatlantic move to Warsaw, Poland to be with my then-fiancee, now husband, Marcin – in 2007. That time, I was petrified that I might be making the wrong move and even though I knew I wanted to go – what would I do there? Would it work out? I mean, over a year and a half, we’d only spent 9 weeks together – did I even know this man?

A chance meeting at a hostel on Azcuenega street in Buenos Aires, Argentina turned into a fast engagement and wild plans. Too wild? I couldn’t tell.

I felt sure during the daylight, but when night fell, my fears woke up. So, 13 years ago, I laid in bed crying, asking for help and falling asleep with tears on my pillow and fear in my gut. I was awoken in the middle of the night to the sound of a little girl’s voice in my room, she was saying, ‘Mom, I’m trying to tell her it’s alright’ over and over and over. Her voice was so loud that I checked for her outside my California window, under my double bed, and in my ensuite shower cabinet. I was convinced someone was really in the room.

And then, out of nowhere, a voice poured out of my mouth and I said, “Oh! Hi Eleanor!”. Eleanor is my aunt, my mother’s sister, whom I never met. She passed away of leukemia when she was a young child, way before I was anywhere on the horizon. My mother, at that time of Eleanor’s passing, was 3 or 4.

Over the years, I had been told by mediums and psychics that my grandmother, my mother’s mother, was watching over me, but I had never experienced anything like this. Once those words came out of my mouth, I felt calm. I heard her again, “Mom, I’m trying to tell her it’s alright”, I can still hear it clear as day today – and it was the right decision for me then. I trusted it and moving to Europe taught me more about myself than anything else, brought me a great husband and the best of best friends.

So, 13 years later, as I lay there, feeling broken, wondering if this new transatlantic move was the right one and I begged for help again. I begged for a clear direction, tears made my pillow wet, my body pulled into a fetal position and I and fell asleep, worried but trusting. When I woke up in the morning, I had one clear thought: FRIED – The Ultimate Guide to Burnout – I need to make a podcast. I had tried a podcast before and when I did I realized that I needed to avoid being a solo show, I do better feeding on other people’s energy. I also knew that I needed more stories and inspiration for my book that I was writing and interviewing people on that subject was the perfect way to get it.

So, I got out of bed and started by creating podcast art. I already had a picture in my head of a frying pan and I found one that I loved in Canva immediately. I posted about 20 versions to my business Facebook page and heeded the guidance of my clients, patients, friends, and family until we co-created the podcast art that became the symbol of FRIED – The Burnout Podcast.

Then, my next challenge laid ahead. I knew that I wanted to have deep and real conversations – the kind I have with coaching clients and patients and I was so afraid that there wouldn’t be anyone willing to go that deep with their stories on a podcast that could potentially be heard by millions. I put out a call for guests in 2 Facebook groups and in one of them, I had a few bites but in the second, CRICKETS. I went to bed that night a mix of excited and disappointed, wondering how I was going to make it happen.

And when I woke up, I had over 40 comments in the second group – there were LOADS of people that were able and willing to be raw, vulnerable, and real with me on a podcast. “Thank you”, I whispered up toward the sky.

Over the course of the next 5 weeks, I did 38 interviews. With a cast on my leg post-surgery, I sat at my desk with a stool underneath covered in pillows and blankets to keep it soft, I rested my aching leg while I held space for your stories. Each one blew me away. These stories, I could feel it in my gut, these stories need to be heard.

These stories break down shame, guilt, and self-judgment. These stories help us see ourselves in others. These stories help us to choose to heal. These stories will help to end burnout culture as we know it.

Before I knew it, we were at 6000 downloads and growing. Before I knew it, I had created the thing that I am the proudest of in my entire life. I never understood how people could share their creations feeling so confident that they were worthy until I created FRIED. I KNOW that there is healing in these episodes – and the comments and requests to be a guest on it that have come since it was born have proven this over and over.

And it all started with a prayer, a request, a moment of weakness within a time of injury and pain. One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Tosha Silver, says,

“Divine Order says that the perfect solution to any problem is already selected if you allow yourself to be guided”.

Tosha Silver, Outrageous Openness

Being guided led me to Argentina, where I met my husband and then to Poland where I broke through barriers, gained a family, friends, and a language. It led me to Prague where I rested, recovered, and healed from burnout. It led me back home, to my people, to my energy and my space. And it led me to FRIED – The Burnout Podcast, my gift to the world around me, in gratitude for all the great lessons and journeys it has brought me and now I bring to you.


  • Caitlin Donovan

    Burnout Expert

    Caitlin Donovan is one of New York City’s leading burnout experts, host of “Fried – The Burnout Podcast,” and author of the book The Bouncebackability Factor. Her master’s degree in traditional Chinese medicine enables Caitlin to combine Eastern wisdom with her natural practicality. After treating more than 25,000 patients, Caitlin added 1:1 coaching, corporate workshops, and keynotes for companies such as PTC and Lululemon – all with a focus on burnout. She has been featured on podcasts and online magazines such as “Elephant Journal,” “Thrive Global,” “Addicted 2 Success,” and “Your Story. Your Health.” as well as quoted in Oprah Magazine. Caitlin and her husband spent 12 years living in Europe, but now make their home in New Jersey. When Caitlin is not speaking or coaching on burnout, you can find her with her husband and their white fluffy dog hiking around NJ and NY.