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International Women's Empowerment Coaching
I have always had a spirit that wanted a taste of the margins, a taste of the novel or the non-ordinary. Though I have had these tastes, I have also had many life experiences that caused me to cultivate a lot of fear, and subsequently disown or cover over my capacity to be the seeker and the doer that I have known was deeply within me.
But, shall we start at the beginning?
I was born and raised in Hawaii, as a twin. My twin sister and I added to a blended family, which made us a bunch of 11. This was an alternative and dysfunctional family, to say the least. Our parents, though good people who had the best intentions, both came from severely dysfunctional households, and they themselves were not generally aware of how to raise children, beyond meeting physical, survival needs.
We all lived on an organic farm, and the children were mostly left to fend for themselves, take care of each other, or to take care of the work with the plants and animals. This had its pros and cons developmentally, as I quickly learned to be very adventurous, creative, responsible, and independent, yet I also had my emotional, relational, and attachment needs neglected, which created challenges for me later on.
I experienced many social issues because the culture of my family, as well as the relationship that I had with my sister, did not prepare me socially for being in public schools in Hawaii. I became a very serious, academic, ambitious, fear-driven person as a way to protect myself against the daily torment of bullying, as well as the pain and angst I felt in being neglected and mistreated by my parents. I had relatively low self-esteem, and based what little self-esteem I had, on being successful in academic and extracurricular pursuits such as clubs, work, and sports. I figured out very early on that I was intelligent and also, in many ways, more mature than my peers, so this caused me to stand out and get extra attention from teachers. This success, as well as attention from teachers, was literally one of the few ways I gained any level of self-worth.
When not trying my best to excel in the ways that became expected of me by my parents, as well as my community, I was always exploring nature and either in the ocean or hiking into the wilds of the mountains. Nature was a great refuge for me, away from the pains of interacting socially, or within my family. My twin sister was always right by my side on these activities and adventures. I learned to see life according to the elements of nature, color, texture, patterns, et certera, and I found this informed the way I problem-solved as well, within all my creative pursuits. I have since always felt a strong reverence for, and bond with, nature. I have always felt wild, based on nature, and the deep outdoors, feeling like my home. This spirit of wildness remains within me today, and I believe drives me to always push outside of the edges of what is expected of me as a domesticated human being. To feel wild and free is a must for me, and I cherish how this desire and value lives deep within me, even despite the years I attempted to perhaps make this call to the wild go dormant.
When I graduated high school, I had already decided I would become a psychologist, and though I had a strong yearning to be an artist, and travel, and be wild, I chose what was the most "responsible" and "reasonable" approach. After all, I was always passionate about helping others heal, and I was naturally good at helping people. I also had an obsession with how to best understand my self, because I wanted to be happy and also find a way to heal myself. So, psychology seemed like the right field for me at the time.
I pursued 12 years total of psychology school, from an undergraduate program, all the way through a Masters and a PhD. I was extremely invested in my education and training. I received about 9 years of intensive outside training and consultation in two psychotherapeutic orientations, and many other tertiary trainings in order to improve my craft. I was also passionately ambitious about experiencing and getting trained in a variety of meditations, and practicing them in order to find the secret to happiness. In the midst of all this school, as well as training, consultation, and meditation practice, I also received my own intensive therapy, that spanned over 12 years. And in the midst of this, I acted as a counselor and therapist for over 9 years. Let's just say I was obsessed with psychology, healing myself, understanding others, and being able to help facilitate others' healing, growing, and transforming.
In the midst of this period of focused meditation, study, work, and activity, I began to heal my deepest wounds, and began to understand what fundamentally causes pain and suffering in myself and other people. I found that the easiest way to understand life was through the concepts of fear and love. I began to see that decisions myself or others made that were based in fear, had a certain pattern of consequences and ultimate results, whereas decisions made from love, were in contrast in their consequences and results, to those made in fear.
Often, in life, it can be difficult to discern when something is catalyzed or represented through fear, versus love, because humans have such complex ways of covering over these basic building blocks with multiple defenses, such as (but not limited to) rationalization, intellectualization, projection, dissociation, denial, suppression, and oppression. I realized I was certainly quite guilty of all of these defenses, and more!
I learned that as humans, we have such complex minds, and a fascinating ability to use them to avoid our deepest feelings and knowing, or to misinterpret these body-based experiences of emotion, sensation, energy, and intuition. I learned so much about my own experience of being this way as well, and struggled with it a whole lot, through my many years of therapy and personal and spiritual healing work. We spend a lot of time living in our minds, and this causes an inordinant amount of pain and suffering. We get confused about what is the right decision, or right way, and I noticed I myself as well as others tend to rely instead on what our cultural or familial environment models to us as a guide, because this makes life feel a lot more comfortable, even if in the end it actually makes us miserable to do this.
My form of misery, which sprang from the above patterns, came through extreme self-criticism, strong anxiety, and severe depression. I have also received the diagnosis of PTSD. We often disregard how these diagnoses are created as well as reinforced by these ways we learn to "live" as humans, and due to my extreme pain and suffering, I was determined to get to the root of these issues and overcome them, so I could ultimately survive.
During this process of realizing my misery and my desire to overcome it, I spent my entire twenties struggling with becoming more and more connected to a deeper knowing and feeling, as well as greater integrity. I struggled because what I started to experience continuously, was not what was being mirrored back to me in American Culture and the cultural spheres I was in, as the "right" way to live or be. I received adulation for the wisdom, skill and maturity I gained, but the actual process of getting there, and the ways it changed me from the inside out, were frankly confusing to many, as well as not in alignment with most of the cultural scripts and contexts I participated in at the time.
I faced several big life crises based in several major failures, serious depression, abusive partnerships, unwanted pregnancies, major medical emergencies, as well as big losses, that brought me into questioning why I was on this planet, and if being a healer and psychologist was actually what I wanted. I faced the fact that when I felt out of control and couldn't measure up to my perfectionism and high standards around performance, I felt horribly about myself, and I realized in actuality, I hated myself. I hadn't learned how to love myself at all. I also had scarcely gotten to know who I was and what I wanted, at the deeper levels, because I was too busy aligning my life with the ideals and goals of becoming a successful therapist, and participating in the roles of "woman", "friend", "consumer", "entrepreneur", etc, in American culture.
My therapy practice progressed, I became even more successful, and I continued to heal and work on myself, on into my thirties. I continued to uncover more and more about the roots of my own deep-seated unhappiness and dissatisfaction, and what I found was surprising to me.
I realized that being liked, belonging, money, notariety, and success as a therapist, were not what were going to ultimately make me happy. What started to make me happy was cultivating deeper and deeper connection with myself, unearthing the deepest woundings and learning to love them too, and also living a life that was in alignment with my deepest yearnings and deepest SELF. I found that the only way to do this was to be completely honest with myself and others, overcome my shame in being visible to myself and others, learn to tolerate my fear and my other painful emotions, and learn how to live in a more embodied way, so as not to get lost in the fearful chaos of my mind. I needed to pay attention to what was deep inside me, and not ignore it or make excuses for not living or being this way any longer.
All of these shifts and changes, helped me transform into someone who listens to her deepest knowing, is able to share vulnerably and authentically, and trust her deepest desires, while staying the course enough to see them into action. Living in any other way, now makes me feel rather ill and unhappy, as to be living out of alignment is incompatible with who I have become.
This transformation process eventually led to my leaving my job as a therapist, my practice, and my field as a therapist, even though I had invested the majority of my adult life into it all. I then also moved down to southern Mexico, as my heart had been calling me here. I now live life here in Mexico, in a more wild and alive way, and am happier for it. I now feel much more in alignment as an international coach to women, living more creatively, dynamically, and in a more connected and inspired way.
I am now in the continued process of stepping into empowerment, and practicing it daily, and with all those in my world.
I am excited to share what I have learned, and what I am continuing to learn, with all of you!
There is a way to live an empowered life, and I can help you find out how to live this way too!
Please feel free to contact me if anything about my story resonates with you!
Please sign up through my online scheduler, for a free, 30-minute phone consultation, through the link provided here: Ava's Online Scheduler.
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