Dandelion Dreams...

Upon first meeting 40-year-old Jane Doe in the winter of 2005, I was immediately struck by her fervor to change her life. Her passion for this change was palpable when she described the different root-issues she wanted to overcome. One root issue was her remaining in a 17-year off-and-on, toxic relationship with her then-boyfriend, J.T. Jane had several concerns about this re-relationship.

First, she was desperately worried that her emotional and spiritual needs were not being met. Jane was also concerned that although he professed to be “in her corner,” he was obviously jealous of her, and tried to sabotage her by attacking her goals and achievements. Finally, Jane also identified an unhealthy, co-dependent behavioral loop that they had been involved in for almost two decades.

Another root issue that Jane wanted to change was her desire to move from teaching at the community college level to a four-year research university. Jane understood that as a professor whose research interests include cultural studies, critical race theory and existentialism, she would have access to greater resources at a

four-year academic institution. She also knew that working at a four-year university would vastly improve her quality of life. In turn, she would have a more flexible work schedule that would provide her with more time to develop and formalize her own body of critical theory and complete her novel.

The last root issue that Jane acknowledged was her longing to return to the level of physical conditioning she had as a former marathoner. Jane completed three New York City Marathons in 1987, 1988 and 1989 consecutively when she was in her late 20s and turning30.

When Jane recounted the physical and emotional freedom and empowerment she felt while training for these marathons, it became obvious to me that all of Jane’s self-esteem and ability to actualize was linked to her identity as an athlete. Jane later revealed that as a child she grew up extremely athletic.

When she was 10 years old, Jane qualified as a JuniorLifesaver at Girl Scout Camp and grew up walking four miles back and forth to swimming lessons every summer until she was 15 years old. Once entering junior high school, Jane also joined volleyball, field hockey and track teams and continued playing these sports through high school. Growing up as an athlete, and as someone who always enjoyed sports, captured the happiest times in Jane’s life.

These moments in her life, when she felt capable of achieving anything and overcoming any and all obstacles, were always linked to Jane’s identity as an athlete. It was clear to me how much Jane enjoyed feeling strong, graceful and athletic – she wanted to experience these feelings again as an adult.

Jane’s last root issue was related to the satellite issue of making serious lifestyle changes around her relationships with food and emotional eating. Jane explained that after she completed her last marathon, her training regimen had changed, but the size of her meals had not. She was essentially eating the same amount of food but running much fewer miles.

Jane also noted that as she aged, she saw specific changes in her body’s ability to digest and burn certain types of foods. As Jane approached her late twenties, she noticed that her body could no longer burn that

late-night bowl of cereal or digest that four a.m. tuna sandwich. She further recounted that she recognized another metabolic shift when she entered her mid-30s. Processed foods became in- creasing more difficult for Jane to digest, as burgers and donuts would just sit in her stomach for hours. During our initial conversation, Jane also saw the connections among this denial of her metabolic changes, her dissatisfaction with J.T., her emotional eating, and her desire for true unconditional love.

At this point in our initial session, Jane knew three things. First, she knew that she was at a crossroads in her life around the root issues of relationships, actualizing her professional goals, and improving her health. Subsequently, having identified the root issues, Jane and I also acknowledged the existence of several satellite issues tied to these root issues.

Finally, Jane also realized that by starting the life coaching process with me, she was al-ready making serious strides in this positive direction and had begun her journey.

Since beginning our client-coach relationship, Jane has transformed herself, spiritually, personally, emotionally and professionally. Jane has completely ended her 17-year on-and-off again relationship with J.T. and is dating happily. She has also returned to her peak level of physical conditioning and maintains a healthy diet free of processed food and excess sugar.

Not only has Jane lost 40 pounds, but she also lost all the insecurities that were preventing her from taking risks in her life. Jane successfully completed and defended her dissertation; she has already had one chapter of it published in an internationally recognized academic journal and is expecting a second chapter publication in April 2012.

Jane has also attended and presented in six academic conferences and received invitations from colleagues to chair other panels as well. Jane is also branching out and seeking employment outside of New York for the first time in her career in academia.

Lastly, and most significantly, Jane has had an excerpt from her novel published in a well-known journal of African diaspora and criticism. She is currently seeking literary representation. Jane broke through her barriers, just as a dandelion has been known to grow through concrete.

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