Valerie has presence, she creates an electric atmosphere in the air. Almost like the sensation just before a thunderstorm. She isn’t dangerous though, just electric and compelling and I am never sure of where the conversation is going to go, but what I am sure of is that it’ll be engaging. She carries an ‘earthy’ quality that feels like what she’s about to tell you is a very ancient truth, that it’s elemental and timeless.
She can move from moment to moment, authentically expressing what’s with her in the instant, great joy through to deep emotion and tears and back again. I never had any doubts that Valerie was speaking her truth and there’s something about this magic she creates that allows you to do the same and feel all of the same emotions, safely and authentically.
I coach professionals, men and women, who want to bring more of their deeper true self to the work they do, but don’t necessarily know how to. Typically, they approach me because they’re not sure that they’re doing what they want to do and are looking for clarity. Or they want to feel more confident expressing themselves authentically in a work context.
I coach these people because I believe we all deserve to be able to live life as ourselves, work is where we spend most of our waking hours (for most of us!) but can be a place where that feels like a really difficult thing to do. I want to provide a place where people can work through who that deeper true self is, what really matters to them and how to express more of it in their work.
What matters most to me is to do my best to honour this precious gift of life that I was given. Because when I feel, I am alive. I cry super easily! I let myself be touched by joy, by sadness. It’s a conscious choice I make. They are moments of grace and connection to me. Because in those moments, I connect to myself and others, I experience our exquisite humanness. Even those emotions that I don’t like, such as guilt or shame. I try and remind myself that they are part of my human experience, that’s all. If I didn’t feel these things, I’d just be a table. I don’t want to be a table…
It’s vital for me to notice the wonder of the world around me, the people around me and of course, myself. I think two attitudes that are sorely lacking in our modern world and can make a HUGE difference to your quality of life is curiosity and wonder. I think that we can cultivate them and bring them to the smallest and most mundane things in our lives too…
…To live a life that is an expression of who I truly am and not of others’ expectations and man, it can be hard! Because of the way our brains work, it’s so easy to fall into automatic thought patterns and behaviours. Because it preserves energy. Particularly when we are under stress. And the way the world is accelerating, I don’t think it’s making our lives easier to cope with the constant stress and pressure we’re under.
I believe that it takes a conscious commitment, and daily recommitment, to slow down long enough to make conscious choices in order to live your truth. It can be taxing at times, challenging, exhausting. But it’s worth it just for that deeply fulfilling feeling that you’re living the life that you have chosen. I personally wouldn’t have it any other way.
What kind of coach am I? I think it’s a combination of things. I feel and sense things, about myself, about others, about situations and I am able to articulate and name them. Very often, I have people tell me that I have expressed something that they were feeling, but didn’t have the words for. Also, my open mind and fierce heart mean that I will face difficult situations, even if I feel fearful, and I embrace difference. I know that the impact is that it creates safety for others.
My purpose? Well, I think my purpose has got something to do with speaking the truth, focusing on what really matters and letting go of what doesn’t. I know that I’m on purpose when I feel my heart expand in my chest, literally. And my heart expands when I’m coaching and witnessing the magnificent, courageous, wise human beings that my clients are, or I’m delivering a workshop and I see a group of people being real with each other, or I’m working with Co-Active colleagues to bring co-activity to the world.
There have been a few heartbreaks in my life, but the most defining one in terms of the direction my life took was the heartbreak I felt when I witnessed my grandfather being taken by dementia in 1995 and dying two years later, probably from his own heartbreak. The story is that he lost all of his family during the Second World War. They were Jewish and were deported to Auschwitz. He wasn’t able to save them and felt guilty all his life, but wasn’t able to work through that with anyone. What I learnt from seeing what happened to my grandfather was how vitally important it is to speak the truth of what is really going for us, whether it is to ourselves or to others. Both are equally important. I live by that in my personal and professional life.
My significant object is an angel wing pendant that was gifted to me at the Burning Man festival in 2014. It was the first year that I volunteered as a Temple Guardian at Burning Man. Temple Guardians hold the space of the Temple, a structure in the middle of the desert where people go to symbolically lay down any burdens that they want to let go of (the Temple is burnt at the end of the week).
The Guardians don’t do anything as such, just walk around, making sure everyone is ok. I was so touched by all the offerings that people make and the energy in the space. That is where I first experienced holding space and witnessing. It has a sacred dimension to me. I struggle to put into words what it means to me. It’s one of the things that means the most to me in the work that I do with my clients today. Life is short. Don’t waste it on shit that doesn’t matter.