When I was nineteen, I traveled to Colombia with Witness for Peace to learn about US intervention and mobilize my fellow US citizens for change upon return.

I visited a church where the priest was killed while giving a sermon, traveled to subsistence farms that had been fumigated as part of the US drug war, witnessed dead bodies lying on the side of the road, sat quietly as paramilitary searched our bus, and heard stories of so many atrocities paid for by my tax dollars. That’s where I first learned the meaning of secondary trauma.

One relic from that journey was my newfound contract with myself: I will do everything in my power to make the biggest impact I can possibly make, no matter the cost to myself.

For the next six years, I organized non-stop.

I put myself in more dangerous situations doing undercover solidarity research into hydroelectric dams, mining, and logging in Guatemala and Honduras, co-founded the Progressive Students Alliance on my college campus shortly before the US started bombing Iraq in 2003, and organized students against imperialism, tuition hikes, and sweatshop procurement. After college, I worked in strategic affairs for UNITE HERE!, the hotel workers’ union, lobbying for fair organizing contracts in Connecticut and Arizona.

At first, I fell in love with activism. The call to work toward collective change was clear, and I felt alive when marching in the streets and canvassing my neighbors.

But I based my self-worth on how much I did, and it was never enough.

The work took its toll, and I struggled with chronic anxiety, migraines, and other health problems.

A voice inside me begged me to pause and learn a more sustainable way, but the part who said it wasn’t enough won out. So I refused the call to care for myself, and I continued to work all day, almost every day.

I was forced to finally answer the call to learn a new way when I discovered I was pregnant. To care for my son, I had to learn to care for myself, too.

And, so the path that eventually led to me becoming a coach began.


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