My life was turned upside down in 2006 when I found myself unable to do my job due to my disintegrating speech. I resigned in January and it took 7 months to get my replacement hired so by July I was exhausted, suffering from constant jaw pain and a regular headache that wrapped around my head like Brett Micheal’s bandana. I had built a life around my voice, vitality and myself expression. What was I going to do? How could I make a living? Would I ever feel rested again? I wondered as I slept 18 hours a day for 4 months…and no doctor could tell me what was wrong.
I created the practices that became the Master Plan out of my need to keep myself sane and moving forward in the face of this fatigue, uncertainty, diminishing capacities. I had no marketable skills other than my voice as all the things I was trained in revolved around communication in the moment. I didn’t know what was happening to me though undoubtably something was…I had no job, no insurance ( my cobra payment was more than my rent in downtown Chicago!) no computer skills, and at 40 my boyfriend and I were falling apart. Peachy. It would be 3 years until I was diagnosed with ALS. I was frightened, pissed off, alone and exhausted. Did I mention I was a good 80 lbs over weight? YEAH. Joy.
The only consistent advice I got from physicians was a perscription for anti-depressants, repeatedly 15 times over…while the path to depression was laid out before me, when I looked inside myself what I saw was UPSET and FRUSTRATION not depression. Though I had become prone to crying jags ( what would later be termed a symptom of Emotional Lability) especially when confronting a physician and my own circumstance, I was shocked at how people wouldn’t listen to me about my experience and were quick to label me as “clearly depressed” when that was not my experience at all! Few people could be with the emotions as they rolled through me, often at inopportune times. I steered clear of the meds.
I became more isolated. My life went from interacting with hundreds of people each week to a hand full. I got quiet. I went inside. having been told everything from “You’re just being lazy” about my speech to “It’s all in your head” about my fatigue…I started with 1 thought: IF IT’S TRUE FOR ME THEN IT IS. And I began to listen for my voice, my instincts and what my intuition had to say about my circumstance. Though I can still appreciate the value of looking at things from new/other points of view, I saw I had surrendered my own point of view to a cause and that combined with a penchant for over-giving altruism created an imbalance. I believe that imbalance~ putting the mission of another above myself and my wellness made me sick. I had been concerned with proving my own worth, I had not been responsible for myself. I needed to reconnect. I needed a plan.
Fortunately I am adept at planning, having managed a department with 300+ volunteers…I knew the pitfalls and the problems from over planning and under acting as well as getting discouraged by the miasma of overwhelm that can effect a thorough plan. Especially in the face of that fatigue, I knew I had to keep it simple, doable and encouraging. I needed nourishment, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. I put opportunities to be nourished in my plan. I made my “job” moving something forward in every domain of my life on a weekly basis. I treated every area of life as a department that needed to produce clear results, then I created a “guiding intent” for each area. I worked on keeping my mind clear and focused, so I could step away from the uncertainty of my circumstances, and think about and work on re-creating my life.
As I began to honor myself 1st, things began to move. I made the committment to manage myself differently with an eye on sustainable productivity versus productivity at any cost. I created a physical environment that supported “flow” and effective action versus PRESS. Oddly enough, I began to experienced being fulfilled in the journey~ even though my situation hadn’t changed health wise, people began to reach out to me for coaching and support. As I trained them in the method I had used on myself, the Master Plan was born and refined. I kept reading, researching and implementing the latest from positive psychology and used reliable texts for support: everything from SunTzu to Wallace Wattles to the lastest neurological research.
I believe the Master Plan is so effective because it’s written from the participants point of view. 1st you clear your mind of errant thoughts, 2nd you are nurtured and empowered, then you are naturally in action on what is important to you, and we implement practices that maintain wellness and improve efficiency and expand capacities over 12 weeks. These practices become ingrained as habits as you are trained in planning. You create relationships and environments at work and at home that set you up to win. The results are as astounding for others as they were for me. It is my legacy and I believe my purpose to alter the way people are managed. Sustainable excellence is possible in fact required to move us forward as human beings. We have seen how over work doesn’t work over time…it’s time to manage for the whole person not just results in the short term.