DeborahJeanWhen you fall in love with yourself, everything else falls into place, personally and professionally. When love transforms your relationship with yourself, it transforms your personal life, your work, and the world.

 When your birth includes a near-death experience, you know you are in for a wild ride. A 55 year roller coaster of triumph and burnout led to finding my life purpose more than five decades later. Mine is a story of hope. Yours can be too.

My birth in 1954 as an “Rh factor” baby required a complete blood exchange to save my life. Instead of perceiving my survival as a blessing and a gift, early on I concluded that I had to pack each day with output because I was, after all, operating on borrowed time and someone else’s blood. My response to a gift of grace was a lifelong marathon of trying to prove myself worthy through productivity.

Prove myself I did! Having earned a full academic scholarship to college, I graduated summa cum laude in just three years and began my professional career as an organization transformation consultant. I made partner in my first firm at the age of 30 and went on to serve as a senior partner in four of the world’s largest and most prestigious global professional services firms.

I had some wonderful times in that 30 year career. Coached, taught, and encouraged clients and colleagues to claim their personal power and step into their greatness. But 51 years of the “hamster wheel” approach to life, with little regard for my personal health and welfare, finally took their toll. A poster child for professional burnout—exhausted, morbidly obese and clinically depressed—in 2005, I took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace.

In 2008 and 2009, I hit bottom. I lost three loved ones in five weeks and found myself living alone for the first time in my life when my husband of 17 years took an important assignment in Washington, D.C. That “alone time” became a crucible in which I transformed myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Prolonged isolation gave me the opportunity to work on the relationship I had neglected my entire life—the relationship with myself. Stripped of my habitual pattern of avoiding my own needs and feelings by focusing on caring for others, I finally understood that loving and taking care of myself is one of the greatest gifts I can ever give myself or anyone else, because when I nurture and cherish myself, my very presence encourages and supports others. When I’m not taking care of myself, I’m not able to give my best to anyone or anything. I may put on a good show, but it will be a pale imitation of the real thing.

When my husband headed off to Washington DC in 2009, I spent the first four months hating being alone and bemoaning all the things I didn’t like about my life. Then one day, in a rare moment of clarity, I received a Divine download: “You can spend the next year making yourself miserable over all the things you can’t control, or you can see this as an opportunity. Is there anything that’s completely within your control and, if you achieved it in the next year, would plant joy firmly in your soul no matter what your other circumstances might be?” My response? “I have got to lose this weight.” The most incredible journey of my life began in that simple moment of grace.

My journey to wholeness started with regaining a sense of control over my physical care—what I ate and how I exercised. Losing eighty pounds—and keeping it off—is the part of the story that many people respect and even envy. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. If all I accomplished were to change my body through healthy eating and exercise, I would have stopped far short of the wholeness I was seeking.

Read part 2 of this article for the next phase of my journey to wholeness

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About the Author

What’s love got to do with minimizing stress and getting unstuck? Everything, according to empowerment coach and inspirational speaker Deborah Jane Wells, author of Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life! During her 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, Deborah served as a senior partner in four of the world’s largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, she took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. Her recovery from burnout, including a sustained 80-pound weight loss and freedom from 10 years of debilitating depression, led to finding her purpose guiding others on their journeys. Through healing and self-exploration, she discovered that loving yourself unconditionally is the key to transforming your personal life, your work, and the world. Deborah’s books, blog, radio show, and signature coaching programs help individuals and organizations harness the transformative power of love to step into their greatness. Learn more at Deborah Jane Wells Website.