Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today, we have life coach Catherine Simmons sharing intimate details of the challenges and triumphs she has experienced on her life journey.
As a kid I was a bit of a dreamer. I was very keen to believe in the impossible even though my parents are very practical people. My favorite show on TV was “The Tomorrow People”, and it was this show that tuned me in to science fiction, and the possibility of humans evolving special powers – like telepathy.
Growing up I was always the quiet one, and still am in many situations. Even so, I loved drama and singing in the choir. I never thought of these as practical career moves though, instead I pursued my love of biology and how life works.
After leaving high school, I followed a degree course in Applied Biology. This appeared to be a very sensible undertaking as it wasn’t purely academic and would allow me to get a “proper” job. My first paid employment after graduating was as a lab assistant, where my boss was leading research into muscular dystrophy. While there, I gained practical experience in the principles of how genes are expressed to make our physical bodies the way they are. I also obtained a Master’s degree in Molecular Genetics by research, and could have continued my studies….
….but I didn’t feel like I was making any practical inroads towards helping to cure disease. It seemed like there was a lot of study of “parts” of the biology, and no way to really fix it. I was disenchanted, so I took a job at a Biotech company that was in the research stage of drug development. This was surely going to be a way to help people! However, although everyone worked really hard we didn’t get any closer to success, and the company folded after I’d been there five years. During that time I’d developed a knack for being a support person and facilitator, and was lucky to land a position at one of the UK’s red-brick Universities. The position involved being lab support services manager for their shiny new biotech incubator building. It was this third job that was the start of my metamorphosis.
The Millennium had arrived, and it was a time of excitement, busyness, and life events: both my husband and I had new jobs, we moved house (before selling our home) and had two children under three (one of which who was not impressed about going to sleep at night!). On top of that we had begun plans to immigrate to Canada. My job led me to suffer the stress of inertia, due to University politics and the newness of the operation, and my mind was constantly engaged in trying to come up with new ideas and solutions. Eventually the constant thinking and lack of sleep led me to experience a psychotic break.
Having never taken drugs in college, suddenly being thrown into a psychedelic experience was bizarre and frightening. All my senses were working overdrive and I was talking ten to the dozen. I dare say that if this has happened to me in the Dark Ages they would have said I was possessed by demons. I ended up in hospital for a while with the other folks who were having an “alternate” experience of life. It was certainly an interesting time. After I was over the initial shock of it, the “little biologist observer” in my head found it more and more interesting – I was getting a new perspective. Sure, I always knew that everything I saw and sensed was perceived in my mind, and was a construction based on past experience…but to realize that this was true first hand, was a revelation. Not only that, there were things that I was perceiving that were outside of my “normal” experience.
The drugs to make me well again brought me down into a deep depression for some time, but when I’d recovered enough to start to begin processing the experience, I became interested in the more metaphysical aspects of life. I decided to take a course in Reiki to see what it was like. To be honest I was skeptical, especially about the attunement process, but to my amazement I could actually feel the energy. I didn’t believe this was any kind of special power, but just that most of us live our lives being unaware of it.
Following our move to Canada I had another breakdown (too much excitement too soon) and was again admitted to the hospital. This time I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Having a fresh label of mental illness was a huge blow, especially as I didn’t have the first clue what it was or what it would mean for me. Despite the diagnosis, I landed a job at an early stage Bio-pharmaceutical company and worked there grudgingly for nine years.
I loved the people I worked with, and enjoyed helping them find solutions to their problems and help with project goals, but in the back of my mind I always knew that this was not a solution to the eradication of disease. The integrated treatment model and personalized medicine with teams of professionals with a variety of skills seemed so much more sensible. Plus, I knew from all my experiences that the mind has such a huge effect on the health of the body and vice versa. The more I researched and thought about the subject in my own time, the more I learned there were others out there who had already gone down this path.
One of my favorite leaders in the field is Bruce Lipton. As a biologist he explains so well how our thoughts affect the way our genes are expressed, and affect our lives so much more that we imagine. I was drawn also to energy psychology and Emotional Freedom Techniques (tapping) as ways to change limiting beliefs and enable not only to cure certain diseases but to move forward from trauma.
After a divorce in 2010 and losing my job in 2012, it seems I was finally in a position to pursue my real dream of becoming a life coach. I took courses in EFT and became a qualified practitioner. There was still something missing though. The EFT was working, but up to a point. I knew about the Law of Attraction and in 2014 enrolled in Christy Whitman’s Quantum Success Coaching Academy – I now feel I’m building on my skill set to really support clients to value themselves for their uniqueness and to design lives for themselves that they love. I really believe that we have the capacity to heal ourselves from depression, lack of self-confidence, overwhelm, trauma and the diseases that are associated with them. The first step we have to take is to ask for help and support to do it.
Catherine Simmons is a Life Coach, Facilitator and Speaker. In 2014 she was a panelist at Professional Development Week for the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns in Vancouver, and a speaker at the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Bottom Line Conference in Calgary. Her mission for 2015 and beyond is to support women to reach their life and career goals in a way that values their individuality and uniqueness.
Where to find Catherine…
Catherine, thank you for sharing your inspiring journey. Best of luck with your mission for 2015–you are in a unique position to make it a reality.