The moment that I decided I would help people was when I was sitting cross-legged in a circle on the floor amongst teachers, counselors, and fellow eighth-graders as we mourned the loss of our classmate to suicide. The mixture of emotions in the room was overwhelming: sadness, fear, confusion, worry, curiosity, and regret to name just a few. It was at that moment, at the ripe age of 12 ½ years, that I felt a spiritual tug to be a catalyst for change in people’ lives. I couldn’t help but wonder if Jeremy, my gone-too-soon classmate, would have still been sitting in that wooden desk if he had encountered more encouragement, hope, and the power of what could be. While I wasn’t quite sure the capacity in which I would one day make a difference in peoples’ lives, or to what extent, I was committed to keeping my eyes peeled for opportunities to speak life into others.
All through high school I participated in support groups and began my quest for information about human psychology. As I moved through college I became more intrigued by human behavior and the resulting outcomes. I encountered people who were handed everything but squandered it, as well as people were given very little but created much from it. I watched the way addictions took over some people’ lives and celebrated with those whom had been empowered to change the direction of theirs. I became fascinated with the connection there is between how we think, feel, and behave. I could feel my calling take shape and was excited to pursue it further. I decided I wanted to be a counselor.
Following the receipt of my Master’s degree in Counseling, I entered the field where I believed my skillset could make the greatest impact: substance abuse treatment. And for years I listened, learned, connected, empowered, and witnessed incredible change, not just within my clients, but also within myself. I saw “real life” through the eyes of those I worked with. I was forced to put theory into practice, which was oftentimes much harder than it sounded. These were real people, with real consequences, and (sometimes) a real desire to change. I can’t describe how incredible it felt to have someone entrust to me their innermost secrets, vulnerabilities, and fears in exchange for feeling inspired, encouraged, and empowered to create a new outcome for their lives. I clung tightly to those feelings, and they sustained me when the outcome was not so idyllic. I truly loved working in that field but just one year after our daughter was born, we moved our growing family to a different state and I decided to put my career on hold to stay home to raise our (then 2) girls. So how on Earth did I go from THAT to helping people with money? The answer will likely surprise you. Stay tuned.