How I went from watching the aftermath of stress and burnout in my patients in the ICU to starting my own business

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.

Now I was on a mission!

My super-nerd kicked in and I started reading, taking courses and listening to podcasts to:

  • have a more in-depth understanding of how the stress response works
  • learn more about trauma, complex trauma, PTSD and cPTSD
  • discover more about the neuroscience behind human behavior, how we create new habits and break unwanted ones
  • how to regulate a dysregulated nervous system in an accessible and inclusive way

From there I discovered our stress comes from two sources:

#1 - Our inner high-achiever that equates our value as a human with what we can accomplish, who we can help, and how perfectly we can do that

#2 - Our inner protector that is scared of anything new or different and says anything and everything they can think of to keep us the same

I applied this to my nursing practice and the results were beautiful!

I began by showing my patients how they could:

  • reprogram the beliefs that were sabotaging them and leading to burnout
  • not take anything personally
  • quiet their negative self-talk and rebuild trust in themselves


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.

Ready to get things rolling? Choose your own adventure to begin:

Listen to the Inner Stillness Outer Chaos Podcast

Looking for stillness in the chaos of your day-to-day life? This podcast combines ancient Vedic and Taoist wisdom with the latest research to meet in the middle and find a focused calm in our fast-paced modern world. Each episode contains real, raw and vulnerable stories of my life, along with tips, tricks and strategies that you can start implementing right away.

Listen to the Truth About Burnout Podcast

Burnout has become a trendy word online which is both good and bad: good in that more people are learning about what it means and how to prevent it, but potentially problematic in that there’s a lot of misinformation being shared. On this podcast we talk about the REAL truth about burnout, what causes it, what to look out for, and of course how to recover from it and prevent it from happening again.

The Flow State App

“I’m loving this app and what you’re offering! The 15-minute yoga classes, guided meditations and personal development exercises are exactly what I need when I’m feeling stressed out. Not only do I have help staying accountable to what I know I should be doing, all of the activities actually seem achievable, which makes a big difference when I feel like I’m failing at life.”

Dr. Lana Mercier – Family Doctor and current member

Why'd I change my name to Avery?

Pull up a chair... it's a bit of a story.

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 my 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.

Much love,