Before there was a thriving online membership, a busy coaching practice, and a number of highly downloaded podcasts, there was a shy, emotional person that thought she had found her dream job as an ICU nurse.
I enjoyed coming into work, managing complex machinery, making autonomous decisions for my patients, and being a vital part of keeping someone alive.
But then it started to feel futile. Every time I came into work there was someone else with an illness or disease that could have been prevented.
Then my husband and I moved across the country for him to get his Masters Degree and I ended up working as a part of team of family practices where I helped their most complex patients with the greatest medical and mental health needs navigate the health care system.
I realized, however, that connecting my patients with community resources and agencies wasn’t the most impactful thing I could do for them.
Every single one of my patients struggled with self-compassion, stress, negative self-talk and the learned habits like perfectionism and people-pleasing that inevitably lead to burnout and illness.
My super-nerd kicked in and I started reading, taking courses and listening to podcasts to:
I began by showing my patients how they could:
Within a few weeks, the difference in them was profound. I remember a number of their doctors calling me and asking what I was doing because they’d noticed such a significant improvement in their patient.
It was at that time that I realized I found my true calling, and I started my online business.
My business has been through many iterations since then as I found my voice and learned to trust my abilities, and now I couldn’t be happier or more fulfilled with my work. This truly is soul-work, and I believe in my heart of hearts it was what I was meant to do in this lifetime.
And I am so grateful to have found myself and brought my own life into balance along the way.
My @becomingavery Instagram Account speaks more to overcoming emotional trauma, whereas @TheTruthAboutBurnout speaks more to stress management and habit optimization.
The truth is I’ve never really felt like a Heather, but then I know it’s normal to not always like your name.
Over the course of my life, I’ve walked through a lot of struggle and trauma which changed me over time. This gradual change is something that I think we can all relate to and is just a part of the human experience.
However, on December 25, 2018 I experienced a massive change in my life that happened literally overnight. I was working 12 hour shift work in a pediatric ICU and I was coming off the night shift and I remember the Charge Nurse coming up to me and saying “Heather, you really don’t look good. I’m going to mark you down as sick tonight. Feel better!”
I went home and slept for 20 hours straight.
And I did that the next day.
And the day after that.
After nearly a year of painful medical procedures, surgery to remove a thyroid mass and half my thyroid, and multiple specialists investigations and tests, it was determined that I was now the proud owner of a chronic illness and permanent disability known as Myalgic Encephalomylitis. (I call this part of me Emmy – get it? M.E. Emmy? I thought I was clever)
I worked hard for nearly three years to get back to some form of normal, and in September 2021 I realized that was never going to happen.
I was no longer Heather.
I was no longer a Registered Nurse capable of working in an ICU.
I was no longer able to be as active as I was used to being.
I was no longer the weight I was used to being.
I was no longer the person I was used to being.
I realized I was no longer at home in my body.
I wasn’t connected to my previous identity at all and it was causing some strong PTSD dreams, intrusive thoughts and anxiety.
So after talking about it with my husband and therapist, I decided to change my name and spend days looking on baby name blogs until I found the name Avery.
It was strange at first to start referring to myself as Avery, when I had been Heather for 37 years – but now that I’ve had time for it to settle in – my goodness it’s a beautiful thing to feel at home in my body again!
To feel connected to who I am.
To start fresh, learn new habits and strategies rather than try and fit what I’m capable of now into the mold of what I used to be able to do.
So if you’ve made it this far, thank you for being a part of my journey. It’s lovely to have you in my corner.