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Navigating Non-Conformity • How I Re-invented my Career + Business Identities 16 Times • Part 1
Navigating Non-Conformity • How I Re-invented my Career + Business Identities 16 Times • Part 2

Identity no. 9 • Global E-Strategist

Breadcrumb Trail • My previous career made it very clear that my place is in international headquarters. I narrowed down my search to 2 hubs: San Francisco and New York City, now knowing how I'd sort out the work visa yet, but figuring that it must be easier than applying to European hubs. I scoured the entirety of the internet. I applied to every position remotely related to the digital, creative, humanitarian, educational, and managerial world. I got a response from Google out in San Francisco and 5 responses from various companies in NYC. After passing 3 of Google's 11 interviews (god, their questions were so lame, I don't know how HR can even ask those), and knowing I knew no one in SF, but had 2 amazing friends in NYC, I lined up 5 interviews in 5 days in Manhattan. I got on a plane and by day 6, I had secured two offers, accepted one, obtained a signed offer letter, setup a US (212) phone number, secured a cute little apt in Brooklyn (by having the foresight to show up with $2,700 in cash for the first month rent, last month rent and deposit), got the keys to the apartment, initiated my application for a Social Security Number, and had two lunches with my two amazing friends. I flew home on Day 7, packed up my life in on Day 8 I moved to NYC.

Grit: 4/10 | Grace: 14/10

Retrospective Awe • I love that my address was on New York Street, in New York, New York. I had a legitimate visa to live and work in the United States of America. Any immigrant or expat knows what a holy grail that is to hold in your hands. The organization I worked with was so amazing. They were even willing to tweak my professional title so that I'd fall into the right immigration category and my visa was issued 3 hours before my flight, easy peasy. (Thank you mom and dad for my Canadian citizenship!) People talk about living in London, Paris or New York once in their life. I actually did that!! I knew where the tastiest but least expensive restaurants were. I saw a musical every month. I could still do good in the field of humanitarian aid, have high work autonomy (since I'd be the only one in this role), the organization was still growing, so there was plenty of potential here. I was even building an international reputation, with colleagues from our 3 foreign offices reaching out to me for web strategy consultations.

One day, I was tracking Google Analytics and noticed a lot of traffic from a website. I clicked on that site and out of the corner of my eye saw a job ad for the same position I wa in, but with a much larger and reputable international aid organization, and I assume higher salary. I didn't think anything of it because I was so focused on my work. But around midnight that night, I couldn't help but pull up that site again. The ad was gone. What where the chances that I saw that ad at the TOP of that page at that EXACT moment in time?!? I applied of course, passed both interviews and fit in like a glove. Phew, it only took 10 career overhauls!!

I adored my colleagues who were all passionate, fun, super talented and good-hearted people. With the salary increase, I was able to move to Manhattan. My landlord even chose me out of 36 applicants that day because my business card had my employer logo. I had my "Sex and the City" foursome gal pals, was learning Antigravity Yoga and sewing, and could walk to work in 21 minutes. At work, I had near total creative freedom and would complete e-projects in 3 weeks, when it took other offices 3 weeks just to finalize the specs. I spearheaded a global $1.2 million dollar online initiative, because I felt like it, because making systems efficient is fun! Several of our international offices flew me overseas to borrow my talents. It was a dream life that I didn't even know could exist.

Letting Go / Walking Away • But I let it all go. The compounded federal tax, and state tax, and New York City tax weighed heavily on me. I knew from my travels that there were other places that were less expensive, with higher quality of life. I missed being able to see the sky from my tiny shoebox apartment. My life was very minimalist, but doing good doesn't necessarily pay the bills. What if I had a large medical expense or wanted to buy a home? It'd be impossible on my current salary.

I'd also be another 6 years before I learned of the term "secondary PTSD." That! That's what I was suffering from. Day in, day out, my inbox was bombarded with photos and videos of disease, famine, death, and disaster. Though I was doing meaningful work, my sensitive constitution could only handle so many years of "second-hand trauma." I was also facing the very real glass ceiling: I didn't want my boss's job, but there was no other ladder to climb in that organization. No matter my talent, quality and speed, I'd never be able to have a promotion or raise. I wanted to be reward for the caliber of my skills and person, not for the number of hours I sat at a desk. And of course, in divine timing and as a test, life placed me at a crossroads: stay at a no-growth career that I loved or move overs with a partner in a blind leap of faith that I could have both career and personal fulfillment. I took the blind leap of faith. I landed on the pavement of: You can't have both.

Fears / Emotional Rumble

Heartache of saying goodbye to passionately talented colleagues, fun loving friends, and the abundance of entertainment in New York City

Guilt over the fact that I shouldn't feel such heartache because it was my conscious choice to leave

Pure, unadulterated freedom and joy at having "made it" (outer success and inner fulfillment) and fear of never finding anything nearly as satisfying

Agony and injustice at having to chose career or love (at the time, it was impossible to have both)

Rollercoaster between contentment with meaningful work and an unquenchable thirst for more (an ethereal "more" that I couldn't articulate in words)

Foggy knowing (years before I even knew I had an intuition) that the "more" that I was seeking wouldn't be found in NYC

Uneasy self-questioning of "Is this all there is?" [Lol! I'd be very soon after shown that the answer is "Nope. There is PLENTY more!!! And LOTS of it I'm not going to like!]

Constant self-doubt, "Am I crazy for walking away from The Dream? From something I didn't even know I deserved. From something others can't even dream of?"

Hope that colleagues don't think I'm an inconsiderate fool for leaving The Dream and/or them, but knowing there's nothing I can do about their opinion of me

Interestingly, there was zero fear of the unknown. (I think it's because I had hit the glass ceiling, so any change I made is bound to bring about a career improvement. I figured that it couldn't get any worse. At the time, I saw it all as a great big adventure, so I didn't even lose a minute of sleep worrying about what might or might not happen.)

Critics corner

Where the f*ck are you off to again?!?

Why can't you just pick one and stick to it?

How dare you abandon us to move to the United States, to the land of opportunity? [I did what they didn't have the grit to do.]

So now that you've made it in the Big Apple, you think you're better than us?

You never visit. You're a disloyal family member. We might as well cut you out.

You are a miserable excuse for a daughter. [Even though I had put a $20,000 downpayment on my parents' retirement home and retired them in comfort when I was only 24 years old]

You're such a failure. Why couldn't you become the perfect eldest son, Silicon Valley white boy you were supposed to be?!?

When are you getting married? What is wrong with you?

Why haven't you pumped out 2.5 kids yet? What is wrong with you?

Why can't you settle down like the rest of us?

Sacred Brand Archetypes

Without knowing it, I was leading my colleagues into an "e-Wonderland" where everything was possible. I could turn any practical need, such as community building, event engagement or talent recruitment into simple and elegant e-solutions. It'd be another 13 years before I understood the nature of my soul, expressing itself organically, beyond my control, through the Sacred Brand Archetypes of Artist and Alchemist. Who knew?!?

 

Identity no. 10 • United Nations Consultant

Breadcrumb Trail • Having moved overseas to Asia, where I didn't have a long-term visa, and would not likely be hired over local candidates, I had to get creative. I didn't realize it at the time, but I'm sure of it now: living in a country with only 10% income tax for entrepreneurs awoke the creative and entrepreneurial fire within me. I asked myself what was the simplest thing I could, without having to start over. Since so many other aspects of my life were being jostled upside down, I figured career-wise let's just do exactly what I was doing before, but as a consultant for several international aid organizations. Thanks to the stellar reputation and e-portfolio I built from my professional years in NYC, thanks to the remote-work nature of e-consulting, and thanks to the existing global infrastructure of the United Nations, I began bidding for U.N. contracts.

Grit: 6/10 | Grace: 6/10

Retrospective Awe • I always got a first interview. I always got a second interview. I had a knack for reading people's unspoken needs. I could also articulate succinctly and ultra kindly what was missing from their project specs in order to make their vision a huge success. I was becoming a digital nomad and living the laptop lifestyle 2 years before those terms were even coined. I had broken free from the 9-to-5, I was no longer an employee! I was making around $10,000 per project that only required 1.5 to 2 months of work. And I was working with the United freakin' Nations, the Everest of the international aid world!!! Those were my "power skirt", high heels, black leather briefcase, and UN security badge days.

Letting Go / Walking Away • But I let it all go. One word: bureaucracy. There was so much bureaucracy. So many people in "high places" shufflin' about, accomplishing nothing. The deeper into the system I got, the more I witnessed abhorrent wastage of donations, time, funds, time, resources, time, etc. The UN was born from a great ideal, but by then had little to do with human rights and global advocacy. It was shadowed by executives flying first class, their children in private or boarding schools, with chauffeurs and nannies, elaborate galas of which the funds never reached field projects. I spent all my time waiting for my clients to have endless meetings in order to send me their decisions, so I could move the project forward. It was like working with a brick wall, watching its paint dry.

Fears / Emotional Rumble

Frustration from the fact that nobody else seemed to care about the purity of the work and the people most in need

Anger and confusion as to why I could not continue in this easy, lucrative, coveted, rightly earned, location-independent line of work, why, why, WHY?!?

Inner war between holding on to paid work (ie financial independence) and letting go until I found something more life giving (ie ending up like my mom, a victim at the financial and emotional mercy of a man, just about my worst nightmare)

Isolation from moving overseas as a "trailing partner" and having no social circles nor friends

Loneliness from missing my passionate, talented and fun colleagues and friends

Resentment toward being a woman in a man's world, unable to have it all

Fear of scarcity and madness: this career was dreamier than the previous dream career, if I let this go there will be nothing more at the end-of-the-line

Absorption and belief of decades of criticism as truth, with genuine inquiry of "what the hell is wrong with me?!?"

Critics Corner

<scoff> There you go moving halfway around the world again. You really need to have your brain checked by a doctor.

When will you get a real job? You know, a six-figure job?

What are you doing? Can't you just create something and sell it to Google for millions? [Dad's words of encouragement]

Don't sweat it. You're not leadership material anyway. [Mom's words of encouragement]

When are you getting married? What is wrong with you?

Why haven't you pumped out 2.5 kids yet? What is wrong with you?

Sacred Brand Archetypes

I've never had delusions of grandeur, but I did amass an empire of very satisfied clients because I used my creativity to bring people together so we could move projects forward, in a world where ever task felt like pulling a snail's teeth. It'd be another 10 years before I understood the nature of my soul, expressing itself organically, beyond my control, through the Sacred Brand Archetypes of Ruler and Artist. Who knew?!?

 

Identity no. 11 • Web Design Agency

Breadcrumb Trail • After the field of international aid had "failed" me, I went through another identity crisis and spiritual depression. In the fog, I stumbled upon a contract with a health organization one day before the application deadline. One. Single. Day. What where the chances?!? I'd been running on empty cylinders since I was 14. So I figured, even if it felt like a career 180 and I knew nothing and no one in the wellness arena, why not immerse myself in health and well-being for a change. They called me the very next day, on my birthday, to invite me to an interview. What where the chances?!? Within two weeks, I got the contract, left Asia, moved back to Canada, and was paid 10% more than I asked for. Wow, there was indeed "more" after the end-of-the-line fear I had when leaving career no. 10.

Near the end of this first client contract, I had bought a condo, had $20,000 in savings, another expected $9,000 in tax returns (I became a tax expert somewhere between all the career re-inventions), and stumbled on a marketing e-course that strengthened my resolve to truly establish my empire as an entrepreneur. I took a day off for my 30th birthday, tasted the sweet nectar of yoga class at 11am when the studio isn't smelly yet and grocery shopping at 2pm when there are no queues at the supermarket. And I made a vow to never again have a boss, never again have some white male tell me what to do, and to fully surrender to entrepreneurship, even if it killed me. Because at least then, I'll die with an ear-to-ear grin on my face, knowing I went all in.

Grit: 13/10 | Grace: 11/10

Retrospective Awe • Two months later, I bought a condo in Vancouver, right by the beach, which was my dream before turning 30. I loved being around heart-centered, purposeful, passionate people again. I was making $5,000 - $7,000 for small projects that required 3-4 weeks of work. I had a regular stream of referrals because 1. who doesn't need a beautiful and functional website and 2. I read my clients' needs so well and was flexible in catering to their changing moods/tastes. I had outstanding testimonials. At the peak of my business, I made $60,000 for a project that only required about 4 weeks of full-time work, which I spread out over several months so that the client could keep up with me. I thought of the highest amount I could charge and they said "Sure." without batting an eyelash. Darn it, should have charged even more lol! I not only had the web development skills, but also an eye for design, as well as a finesse with training even the most tech inept person. I loved how alive and empowered clients felt when I showed them what e-technology could really do for them. They had no idea the web world could be so fun, easy and simple. It also felt soooooo good to not deal with visas and precarious "alien residency" status anymore, to be firmly planted in my country of birth.

Letting Go / Walking Away • But I let it all go. This was THE most difficult career to let go of. I was masterful at my craft, paid so well, delivering outstanding work. But, coaching had nuzzled its way into my red blood cells and stirred my soul in a way that made web dev/design feel like pushing a square boulder uphill. (I didn't know it at the time, but I resented coaching for showing up as a new calling, for making something I adored since I was 14 feel like such a drag.) Then some of my clients' website started malfunctioning, when there was no rhyme or reason for it. My remote team started changing career paths as well and left our partnership. I could also see clear as day that if a client has self-worth or core identity issues, even the best website in the world wouldn't help business sales. It'd take another 2 years until I could articulate what I was feeling: I didn't want to work for my clients anymore, I wanted to work with them.

Fears / Emotional Rumble

Massive fear of the unknown, with violently shaking hands, unable to screw the lid onto my smoothie cup every morning

Anxiety at the doomsday fear of not being able to pay my mortgage in 9 months time

Fear of using up all my savings and having to admit to financial ruin

Shame from potentially having to apply for a loan (in Chinese culture, cash is king, banks are evil, never borrow, never spend what you don't have)

Constant worry and desperate agony at the thought of having to go back to a 9-to-5 job working under a white man

Upheaval and visceral discomfort of changing the industry, the sector and the career format all at once (will never do that again!!)

Fear of failure for the first time (ie proving all the critics right that I don't do enough and will never be enough) *
* This fear is peculiar because I've never failed at anything before. Why would I suddenly develop a fear of failure. Is it because of the unpheaval above?!?

Grounded knowing that I have the technical talent, I just need to learn the business / marketing side of things, this is do-able

Irritation at having to "start from scratch" to establish myself in the wellness industry

Fear of success: the more I succeeded the more machetes appeared to hack me down

Fear of not succeeding fast enough battling the fear of burnout

Visceral exhaustion from bearing the fear of others (they are afraid for me and therefore project their fears onto me, when I already have enough of my own)

Sorrow of watching my precarious low self-esteem petter to dangerously low to zero

Searing pain from recognizing that all my achievements were masks for having no self-worth (it was beaten out of me since very young)

Wind knocked out of me when I learned about how I repeatedly sabotage myself, triggering full blown identity crisis (Who am I then without those saboteur voices in my head?)

Shame at not being able to become the best "white man / Sillicon Valley garage start-up / sell to Google for millions" I was expected to be

Shame at not being able to claw myself out of the trenches of shame

Grateful for the abundant pipeline of clients (I mean, who wouldn't want a clear capture of their soul into a beautiful and functional website?)

Resentment toward the Universe for "forcing" me to give up this lucrative and well established career

Serious spiritual crisis, wondering if I even have any free will when the Universe presents a new path / calling, making my former path that I adored feel like drudgery

Critics Corner

What is this entrepreneurship nonsense? When will you get a grown up job?

Why the f*ck would you leave the lucrative world of tech to go into wellness?

There's definitely something not right in the head with you.

When are you getting married? What is wrong with you?

Why haven't you pumped out 2.5 kids yet? What is wrong with you?

Sacred Brand Archetypes

Effortlessly, I could transform ideas into products, identities into brand visuals, and business aspirations into functional funnels. More so I could help a client see their greatness and glory, and map those two into the world wide web. It'd be another 9 years before I understood the nature of my soul, expressing itself organically, beyond my control, through the Sacred Brand Archetypes of Alchemist and Innocence. Who knew?!?

 

Identity no. 12 • Success Coach

Breadcrumb Trail • In one word: synchrodestiny! I got stood up by a date for the first... and last time. I declared, "Oh, hell no!" and took myself on the best day ever. I ended up taking myself to the annual wellness show. I expected to come home with a bag full of soaps, and salts, and yummy samples. What I didn't expect was to have my soul awakened and unraveled in a way I couldn't put back together again.

Of all the dozens upon dozens of doors I could have entered through at the massive convention center, of the hundreds upon hundreds of booths, the first one I walked by was CTI's booth (Co-active Training Institute). A program adviser literally jumped out at me and offered a "laser" session. I wondered, "You mean, like laser for my legs or my eyebrows?" She added, "We have certified coaches here who are offering laser coaching sessions." I sat down for 15 minutes. Didn't notice or feel anything in particular. I put my name in their glass fish bowl for a draw. And carried on.

A few days later, that same program adviser called to say that I won a CTI book. Up until that point, in my early 30s, I had never won a single thing in my life. I have EARNED things, like mofo earned them through blood, sweat and tears, but I never won anything just by dumb luck. This rattled me to my core. How could I have gone through 30+ years of life, without ever having effortlessly won anything?

Grit: 8/10 | Grace: 18/10

Retrospective Awe • I had zero clue, absolutely zero clue, that meeting the program adviser for coffee to collect my book prize was going to explode, transform and define the rest of my life. I'm often asked how I found my way to coaching. I didn't. It found me. Before that coffee, I had never heard of coaching, outside of athletic coaches. As I shared about my last 2 careers, she mirrored back, "Oh, so you are coach like." I remember replying, "No. It's more like I make adults play nice together. And I excavate a person's true identity." She offered a discount to CTI's Fundamentals coaching class, full money-back guarantee. I had started my self-development journey about 4-5 years prior, so I was open. After that weekend class, I knew I had found my tribe. For the first time in my life, I felt seen for who I am, not for what I've achieved. Normally, coach trainees do all 5 courses in a row over 5 months. I did the first Fundamentals course, then someone in my life died, so I did the 2nd course 4 months later, then someone else in my life died, so I was only able to do the 3rd course 3 months later. It'd be another 5 months until I could complete the 4th course and I just ripped off the band-aid and forced myself to do the 5th course that following month, before anyone else had a chance to die. It was as if my life was falling apart like a demolition zone so that I could rebuild anew. And the demolition took way longer than it could have because I kept resisting this new calling of becoming a coach. I was never something I wanted or dreamed of. I never even knew it existed as a profession! Long story short, I ended up investing $12,000 in CTI's coach training and certification programs, and $15,000 in CTI's leadership program. Did not see ANY of it coming!

Letting Go / Walking Away • This time, I didn't let it all go (though I wouldn't be surprised if the Universe ordered me to do so). I saw right away that I didn't want a business based on a dollar-for-hour model because if I stopped working, I stopped earning. I also saw how unsustainable it was to juggle CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, CTO and CHRO hats as a solopreneur, no thank you! So I held off on building a full-time coaching business, even if the Universe kept knocking, then pounding on my door.

Fears / Emotional Rumble

Reverse ageism: not being taken seriously because I was half the average age of coaches

Tug of war between surrendering to this calling (and making the door pounding stop) vs. fighting the arduous uphill climb of completely starting over from scratch in an arena I know nothing about

Frustration at gender inequality and pay gap of the coaching industry

Anger toward the Universe, "I didn't ask for this! Why do you keep testing me? Please. Stop. I beg you. Please."

Immense grief, "I don't know how much more loss I can take, how many more tests I can endure. Please. Stop. Testing. Me."

Sting of non-belonging, which proved to be true for several years at the beginning, exacerbated by the curse of "lone wolf" self-sufficiency

Fear of prosperity: the more money I made, the more financial windfalls befell my family and repeatedly drained my resources

Self-hatred and anger that I can't get "there" (obtain all my certifications and build a six-figure business) fast enough, it shouldn't be this hard!!! *
* Oh, but darling, who ever said that it would be easy?

Emotional rollercoaster and instability of $12,000/month highs and $0/month lows

Maddening lack of reason to explain why one launch was immensely successful and the other a complete flop, when all other factors were exactly the same if not better

Incomprehensible ability to find talented and accountable support team members

Flabbergasting lack of a female mentor of color who is bi-cultural and has feminine grace (I searched for 3.5 years and the only three Asian female coaches all operated out of kill-or-be-killed rah-rah-rah punishing patriarchy. They even physically look like the best man they could be, no thanks! Until this day, I haven't found a mentor who is like me whose path I can follow.)

Low grade anxiety at being stretch so far beyond my comfort zone that it looks like a dot that I can't even see anymore from where I stood

Being swirled around in the hypocrisy of the online marketing world, dominated by false advertising, over-promising / under-delivering, and lack of integrity

Tug of war between "I have so much wisdom to share" and "Who the hell do I think I am?" (aka imposter syndrome)

Overwhelmed by having so many identities, talents, and passions, but unable to succinctly capture it all under one cohesive brand (like pulling my finger off the dam)

Constantly plagued by "Who am I? Why am I here? What is my unique purpose? Where do I belong? What the f*ck is happening?!?"

Overjoyed by being able to work from anywhere in the world

Hyper-vigilent fear of losing that joy and freedom at any moment (waiting for the other shoe to drop)

Unconscious barriers to receiving praise even though it's freely given (You're inspirational! You're a true trailblazer! You are my spirit animal! I want to be you when I grow up!)

Spiritual angst of wanting to trust that letting go of the good will make space for the great, but unable to

Grateful that all these fears, repressed parts of me, unprocessed emotions, trauma locked memories, and spiritual wounds are coming to the surface for examination and healing (if I had stayed at a safe, but boring or worse soul murdering job, none of the darkness in me would have been brought to light and alchemized into grit and grace)

Critics Corner

Who do you think you are, little girl? Discrimination of my age, skin color and gender by an industry dominated by old, white men.

You won't succeed unless you ride an "influencer's" coat tail by selling your soul to him. [I soooooo proved them wrong!!!]

What are you doing now? What is this Leadership and Coaching nonsense?

You think those certifications makes you better than us?!? [My young age, success, and gender was so triggering to anyone older, whiter, male or female.]

We never know what you're up to. So we're giving up on you.

At the very least, the critics FINALLY stopped asking me "When are you getting married? What is wrong with you?" and "Why haven't you pumped out 2.5 kids yet? What is wrong with you?" because:

  • my parents FINALLY realized that every time they brought up marriage and kids, I'd move far, far, faaaaaar away where there was no internet or overlapping timezone when we could speak
  • the rest of the critics saw the freedom and joy gleaming out of my skin and finally knew their criticism would fall on deaf ears
  • I was beyond ultra clear that I'll marry whenever the f*ck *I* want, not a second earlier, and I don't want kids, EVER.

Sacred Brand Archetypes

As I transcended from freedom seeker to liberator, I sought deep and transformative ways to coach my clients to liberate themselves by alchemizing their wounds into superpowers, their past into fuel to create a freer future. It'd be another 8 years before I understood the nature of my soul, expressing itself organically, beyond my control, through the Sacred Brand Archetypes of Maverick and Alchemist. Who knew?!?

 

Identity no. 13 • Wealth Mentor

Breadcrumb Trail • I was attending a conference across the country and planning to stay with a friend. But when his in-laws came to town on the same dates, I had no find another place to stay. My friend offered to help me find an Airbnb, which I had never heard of. This was 2 years before it exploded in popularity. So I rented out my condo by the beach for $700 and rented one near the conference center for $450. I gotta tell ya, once I got a taste of residual income, even if it's only $250, I could never go back. In parallel, I was investing in real-estate, creating digital masterclasses and teaching clients on how to create their own masterclasses. I knew they both required upfront investment of time, energy, self-education, and resources, but would lead to evergreen residual income. 

Grit: 5/10 | Grace: 13/10

Retrospective Awe • Thanks to the "4-Hour Workweek" and "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" books, I knew crystal clear that I didn't want to continue trading dollars for hours. I wanted to create assets that would keep making me money, whether I worked or not. I practically had an out of body experience when I reviewed my financial statements: I was making $4,000 to $5,000 per month, working 2-3 hours a week. It felt surreal to watch the seeds I planted ages ago bare fruit for weeks, months and years to come. It blasted my eyes wide open so I could see how every job or business identity I let go of was not a loss, but a series of course corrections on a cumulative journey of gathering skills, courage elixirs, stamina stones and resilience swords (you know, like in Nintendo Zelda). I was so successful with Airbnb and they asked me for advice on how to create a 5-star home and how to select the best hosts. I could have coasted through this semi-retirement lifestyle for years, even decades.

Letting Go / Walking Away • But I let it all go. My soul yearned for much deeper meaning and much broader impact. My financial investments only benefited me and my real estate only benefited my tenants. I wanted to touch more hearts and liberate more souls. I needed to. I also recognized that millions, if not billions, of people can't come anywhere near cultivating wealth if they are strangled by shame or trauma. I've lost count of the number of clients who would rather talk about sex than money. I also have clients who earn beyond six-figures and have multiple real estate properties, but they aren't fulfilled. They can't seem to tap into creative joy, access inner peace, nor break free from their addictive compulsions. I needed another set of tools, another path of investigation.

Fears / Emotional Rumble

Fear of non-belonging, which proved to be true (I watched the people around me and none sparked joy)

Knowing that I don't belong here, but having no clue where it is that I do belong

Disgust at being patrionized by white men and even by "Queen Bee" women (who are hollow inside, so bully others to self agrandize)

Hollow sense of fulfillment at making great money and plenty of residual income, but having such a microscopic impact

Deep knowing that won't shut up and leave me alone, "You are here to be of service to thousands, to millions." Oh, shut up! Shut up! Shut up!

Weekly mist of guilt for luxuriating in so much free time and relaxing creative projects

Fear of my own greatness and power of influence

Fear of being witch burnt (again) or crucified (again)

Sinking into spiritual depression, "I don't understand what is happening. Where am I supposed to go? Who am I supposed to be?

Feeling utterly abandoned by the Universe and dumped and forgotten on this forsaken planet called Earth

Sexism, racism, reverse ageism, no surprise

Clear knowing that this is but a pitstop, a detour, one checkmark on the "I conquered the outer world" list, but having no clue what's next

Critics Corner

Who do you think you are, little girl? Discrimination of my age, skin color and gender by an industry dominated by old, white men.

You won't succeed unless you ride an "influencer's" coat tail by selling your soul to him. [I soooooo proved them wrong!!!] I had too much integrity for an industry infested with sleazeballs.

(Before I invested in rental property) Why do you always have to start crazy projects? You know the site you're using is a scam right? We've never heard of it.
(Four years later when I mega profited from rental property) We're thinking of renting our place too, show us how you did it and how you got 5-star rating.

(Before I bought investment property) It's only crazy people like you who buy property in crazy locations like that.
(After I profited from investment property) Why didn't you tell us sooner? We could have profited too. [I did tell you, you called me crazy and slammed the door in your own face.]

(Before I got on the property ladder) It's only crazy people like you who buy property in crazy locations like that.
(After I got off the property ladder with $85,000 cash in hand) You need your head checked. Only reckless people like you get off the property ladder. What is wrong with you?!?

There is so much money to be made in the wealth industry. Where the f*ck are you running off to now?!?

Sacred Brand Archetypes

All I've ever wanted was to be free. Once I tasted the nectar of financial freedom, which could then buy me an even sweeter nectar of time freedom, I knew I had to go down that path and somehow share what I knew and how I did it with other freedom seekers. It'd be another 7 years before I understood the nature of my soul, expressing itself organically, beyond my control, through the Sacred Brand Archetypes of Explorer and Ruler. Who knew?!?

 

<Aerial Yoga Image>

Identity no. 14 • Aerial Yoga Studio

Breadcrumb Trail • I was wrapping up career no. 9. And on my second to last day of work, I left the building, turned right to walk home as I did for an entire year, and bam! I smacked into an A-stand easel in front of the building next door. Literally. That easel was NOT there before. I would have seen it or smacked into it sooner. It was a poster for "Sky Lab: Antigravity Yoga Studio." I had to check it out! I mean, it had my favorite things in life: flying, play, and freedom. I bought their 3-class promo pack. Even though I was entirely nauseated after the first class, I went back for two more because the Asian in me couldn't let go of "wasted money." By then I was hooked! It is ultra rare to find a fitness program that offers play, joy, delight, alignment, harmony, strength and freedom, all at once! I could not have predicted that I'd get certified to teach Antigravity Yoga, since I come from an absolute zero athletic background. I had no clue that four years later, I'd attend a women's wellness circle on the other side of the country, which would lead me to participating in an intuitive workshop, which would lead to meeting my future aerial yoga studio co-founder.

Grit: 3/10 | Grace: 12/10

Retrospective Awe • There is a difference between a great aerial yoga teacher and a great aerial yogi/artist/acrobat. No one would ever hire me to perform aerial tricks, but students flocked to my classes because I guaranteed 800% safety: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual safety. I had students in their 60's move their bodies in ways they never thought possible. I had students who suffered accidents or surgeries and were told they could never exercise again accomplish beautiful, fluid movements. Many cried, found freedom from body shame, mental chaos, emotional rumbling, and loneliness. Every single student was wowed by the transformative power of play through these aerial hammocks. They were also becoming conscious of how their minds limit them when I showed them proof of what they could accomplish beyond the mind. This was also one of the rare time I had a business partner and finally didn't feel alone amidst the entrepreneurial cogs. She provided the studio space, I provided the expertise, and together we promoted the wellness center. Oh and I lived 3 blocks away from the studio, how perfect is that?!?

Letting Go / Walking Away • But I let it all go. Once I got off the high from the brightness of my students' faces and actually sat down to crunch some numbers (which in retrospect I should have done before I started the business), it was crystal clear that this was a passion project, and not a sustainable business. The hours required to setup and take down the aerial silks, "chit chat" with students after class, and for the number of silks available, I was making less than career no. 2, which was back in high school. I even tried to hire a junior teacher, so that even if it was profitable, these classes could serve as lead generation for all the other services we provided at the wellness center. There are less than 4 certified aerial yoga teacher in the area, with 2 owning their own studios, 1 not actively teaching and 1 under contract with a gym and not allowed to teach elsewhere. That was the end of the line. At this stage in my life, I was no longer capable of martyrdom and to just "suck it up" and continue doing something that is not profitable nor sustainable.

Fears / Emotional Rumble

No fears whatsoever, we invested out of our own pocket and setup the studio in under 3 weeks!

The sting from being spat out into the cold entrepreneurial world all alone again

Grieving the loss of synergetic partnership and passionate co-creation

Grieving the loss of fun, play, physical movement and in-person community

Angry confusion as to why my passions can't be profitable

Proud remembering and re-alignment to my values of freedom (time fraying, location dependent business is not freedom to me)

Deep contentment that I profoundly enriched the lives of a few dozen students (even if it wasn't the thousands or millions that my ego wanted)

Inner peace with having "lost" $1,000 each in investment, but having had such a fun time (never once did either of us worry or fear about this business not being profitable... maybe we should have lol!)

Critics Corner

(None)*
* Our exponential passion for this joint project was far too grand for any criticism to penetrate our vision and execution.

Sacred Brand Archetypes

I knew students were drawn to my zen-like calm, but I didn't realize at the time that I was creating a safe space for them to experience deep intimacy with their body, while delighting in child-like play, sensual cocooning, and enchanting flow. It'd be another 6 years before I understood the nature of my soul, expressing itself organically, beyond my control, through the Sacred Brand Archetypes of Lover and Innocence. Who knew?!?

 

Identity no. 15 • Psychotherapist

Breadcrumb Trail • I fell in love with Brené Brown after I watched her TEDx Talk on The Power of Vulnerability. When she showed a photo with the words "You are enough," I burst into tears and couldn't stop crying for weeks. I even called a bestie in tears asking her, "How do I turn off this faucet, I just can't stop leaking!?!" Brené Brown was the first to ever to come into my life and validate that I was enough. Despite the previous 14 careers, being feature in national and international newspaper and TV, until that point I had only ever been praised for my external achievements by people outside my home. And I had only been told how not enough I am by people inside my home. So with every fiber of my being, I wanted to meet her in person and thank her for the revolution she created in my life.

She wasn't scheduled for any talks or book tours, but I stumbled upon her The Daring Way certification program. As a certified coach, I happen to qualify for all her training pre-requisites. I don't know exactly what happened, but it was as if my line of thinking bypassed rationality and pro/con list and went straight for the registration button. I did sleep on it for one night, then enrolled. This wasn't the first time. I really didn't need another certificate, I had so many already. It'd be another 2 years before I had the words to describe how my soul had switched seats with my ego, and it was now my soul steering the ship of my life. In the moment, I had no idea that was happening. It was 3 months later, on the last day of our training with Brené that I learned:

  1. enrollment for this training cohort was opened the exact day I stumbled on it - I mean, what where the chances?!?
  2. it sold out in 3 days - so if I had slept one more night on it, it would have been sold out
  3. this would be the last training that Brené would lead herself (future ones would be lead by her senior faculty) - what were the freakin' chances?!?

So I ended up trained and certified in psycho-educational-therapy.

Grit: 8/10 | Grace: 15/10

Retrospective Awe I had always come from a peak performance, leadership, self-empowerment and coaching background. Now I was being expanded by colleagues from a therapeutic background, who work in mental asylums or prisons, and with horses or differently abled children. I saw how naturally gifted and proficient I am in safely, even playfully, guiding people to the depths of their psyche, the abyss of their soul, including the armpits of their shadow self. Add to that thorough training and certification, I could immediately see what clients don't see, immediately tell what clients aren't saying. I even pre-feel what clients are about to feel 2-3 days before they feel it. I brought every client to tears, cracked hearts wide open, so we could mend it back together with grace. Never needed to prepare before a session, it all came so naturally.

Letting Go / Walking Away • But I let it all go. Well, not all, but I let most of it go: 4.5 years and $6,500 of training. I didn't want to spend all my time, nor my clients' time, on endless mommy and/or daddy issues. I have so much admiration and respect for therapists, I don't know how they do it. Working in the field of trauma was like spending all my time in a noisy, smokey bar, inhaling second hand smoke like I inhaled second hand PTSD (<-- it's a real thing!). I experienced the latter in career no.10. This career path showed me that I am a healer, even though I fought off the label for so long, because it attracted so many energy vampires, narcissists, sociopaths and Peter Pan's. But just because I am a healer, doesn't mean I have to be a therapist. There are other ways of incorporating wisdom and tools into my coaching business. It was a long and knarly road to learn that just because I am something, doesn't mean I have to make it a career.

Fears / Emotional Rumble

Fear of attracting more energy vampires and qi (life force) thieves

Fear of vulnerability (you can't become a certified psychotherapist without exposing the shadowlands of your own psyche)

Fear of being taken advantage of, again

Fear of having my vulnerability used against me

Energy nosedive whenever I'm around colleagues in the field of trauma (they carry secondary PTSD in the energy field and haven't actively cleared it)

Fighting with all my might not to be labeled a "healer" because it keeps attracting broken "Peter Pan's" who want to date me

Fear of martyrdom, of having to carry the burden and massive weight of everyone else's suffering

Grateful for the opportunity to lift my own trauma to the surface for healing

Uber grateful for the trained skill to guide a client toward therapy for healing, rather than coaching for creativity or self-empowerment

Ultimate wrestling match with shame and I won. I finally won!!

Critics Corner

We never know what you're up to. So we're giving up on you.

(With terror in their eyes) How are you making any money?

(With disdain) WTF are you doing with your life?

(With disgust) How can you live like that?

Sacred Brand Archetypes

It was a revelation when I learned that my clients, who are badass founders and overachievers, came to me because I was their only safe haven, a place where they could put down the sky, release their tears, and be raw and real. They've always been the strong one, and now they finally have a place to breathe, remember their fierceness, and re-emerge into the world newly empowered by grace. It'd be another 5 years before I understood the nature of my soul, expressing itself organically, beyond my control, through the Sacred Brand Archetypes of Innocence and Maverick. Who knew?!?

 

Identity no. 16 • Spiritual Guide

Breadcrumb Trail • I had no idea that going on a 16-country in 16-week Exquisite Freedom tour, looking for my new home, would lead to a 56-country in 52-week journey that would lead me to stumbled upon a very straight forward visa to live in Spain for a year, for Canadians 35 or under. I was 35 years and 11 months old. One month later and I wouldn't have qualified. What were the chances?!? Within 2.5 weeks, which is the fastest they've ever processed such a visa, even the officer at the consulate was surprised, I moved to Spain with a carry on suitcase. Little did I know that in 8 months time, my soul would be flipped inside out through a series of 3 serendipitous encounters in my city in Spain, which lead me to 10 Ayahuasca ceremonies in 65 days. I've always felt like a "Mystic out of monastery," too spiritual/ethereal for normal folks, but too practical/grounded/realistic for the woo-woo folks. I've conquered the outer world which seems so elusive for my spiritual circles and unleashed the inner world with seems so elusive for my business circles. There doesn't seem to be much overlap. But ancestral medicines sprinkled on top of a decade of intense self-development unleashed grace from within me. I was coincidentally rebranding my business 2 months prior from "Success Coach" to "some sort of guide." Guide to what, I didn't know. And one day, during group integration, bam! it hit me: Guide to Grace.

Grit: 20/10 | Grace: 20/10

Retrospective Awe • More mystical experiences than the English language can describe. I'll create a separate blog series for all the awe and wonder I've experienced. And many of them were spontaneous, I didn't take anything or do anything. Wasn't even meditating and bam energetic ascensions or spiritual upgrades would take place. Thank goodness I don't operate heavy machinery!

Letting Go / Walking Away • I know better by now. I don't get to walk away until the Universe says so. Universe, you win. I surrender. Whatever YOU want, you get. Ideally, tell it to me in plain English during the day time. But if you must, go ahead and use weird ass metaphors or wacky dreams that take me weeks or months to decipher. You win. I am surrendered.

Fears / Emotional Rumble

Not knowing what to do with all my mystical, clairvoyant, clairscentient, and clairaudient superpowers, while knowing that I cannot force or speed up the answer, ugh

Inability to make long-term plans, since the Universe will do whatever she wants with me anyway

Serene, eerie quietude of ever present joy and inner peace

Critics Corner

(Out of order)*
* It took me an entire lifetime to finally understand that a human's criticism is an open admission of their fears and smallness, and an invalid assessment of my courage and largeness.

Sacred Brand Archetypes

What do you do when you've fully realized that you have absolutely no control over the mysterious unfolding of your life? What do you do after you've fully surrendered to the paradox of no-control and free will? What do you do when 8 Sacred Brand Archetypes of Heroine and Innocence / Maverick / Artist / Alchemist / Sage / Explorer / Jester (<-- this is a new one that had never appeared before!) want to simultaneously express themselves? I don't have the exact answer yet, but I'm gonna lean into "Sacred Waiting," this hopeful yet unattached anticipation of more joy and pain, more awe and suffering, more this and that. In short, more unfolding. Let's see what happens!

 

In the end...

If any past, present or future critics ask, "Why are you going so fast?", ask them "Why are you going so slow?"

If any past, present or future critics ask, "Why are you constantly changing?", ask them, "Why are you constantly the same?"

If any past, present or future critics ask, "Why can’t you stay still?", ask them, "Why can't you move?"

It makes me laugh now how critics thought that their judgement mattered in the grand, mystical and wondrous unfolding of my soul's path. I see now how it was my Wounded Child Archetypes who took their judgement as the truth of who I am.

With infinite grace,

xo, Ella

ellany writer fountain penInspiring Stories of Surrender,
Reclamation and Freedom

Practical tools on how to navigate identity crises, creativity and lifestyle freedom through joy, grit and grace.

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Author • Ellany Lea is a success coach, master freedompreneur, and modern mystic. She writes about collecting the 4 types of knowing as a pathway to total freedom.