I cowered in the backseat of the car, head down, while my parents waited in the ditch at gunpoint.
This is former communist Germany—a place of no freedom. No choice. I was born and raised here, and often wondered, what did the world beyond our wall look like?
After two high-ranking officers interrogated my parents, we were sent back home. We lived in fear, knowing we had risked everything in our attempt for freedom.
When the iron curtain did fall and we were thrust into capitalism, my Dad embraced the chance to provide and gave us all the “things” we never had: travel, a nice car, electronics. But we didn’t see him because all he did was work. Was this finally “freedom?”
It wasn’t, and our quest to Canada began. With a lot of work and sacrifice, we made it to Halifax. Unexpectedly, initial hospitality turned to hostility. And as the only one with a slight grasp on English, I became the main translator for my parents’ small business. High school at 15 is hard. High school as the foreign new girl, thrust into a completely different country, culture and business—well that was a whole other level.
Although it was tough, it was also my first taste of entrepreneurship. Yet despite giving it everything we had, our family business didn’t make it. As I became a young woman, I was determined to prove to my dad and myself that our move and struggles weren't all for nothing. In fact, I was desperate to succeed, hyper-focused on becoming an entrepreneur. I finished university, moved to Alberta, and decided I would do it all…on my own.
I knocked on doors from southern Alberta to Fort McMurray as an insurance saleswoman. Although I was grateful, I struggled, dreaming instead of teaching, traveling and making a positive impact. I believed this career would provide the money to do that.
It was quite the opposite: my 100% commission-based income wasn’t enough. So I took on a 9-5 job with a small yet consistent paycheque. Raised obedient with a natural entrepreneurial spirit, I was the perfect employee. I took on hours of unpaid overtime, and bid my sliver of vacation time. I thought my success rode on doing it alone, working hours on end to make more money. Was this the freedom I wanted?
My ENOUGH moment
I found my boss waiting for me in the doorframe of my “box” (i.e. cubicle). She was tapping her foot when I arrived late, falling into a lecture about how unacceptable my behaviour was. That same day I was expected to work an evening client appreciation event—unpaid—but I suppose I was to consider myself lucky to partake in this event with strangers. I felt under-appreciated, undervalued, and disrespected. I was overwhelmed, exhausted and lonely.
The pendulum had swung—I desperately needed a taste of REAL freedom. So I traded my heels for Merrell’s, emptied my savings, and backpacked across Europe. It was impulsive and illogical. Yet I felt it vital to dig into my fears. For the first time ever, I did what my heart wanted. And I finally trusted the rest would follow.
Freedom Seeker 2.0
Once home, I invested in personal and professional development that gave me the tools to dissolve inner blocks, build unstoppable confidence, and develop skills, language, and mindset. I soul-searched. I listened, I learned, I devoured. I now know I was a child who escaped oppression and suppression, and the price I paid for that was a lack of community. I own that trauma, and work on healing it.
I will never again be restricted by my own mindset—or by another person, business, or government. I reclaimed my power by embracing the truth: I already have everything I need to be and do what I desire. Giving up all the guilt, shame and beliefs I held around what I am supposed to be…has allowed me to confidently show up as I AM. How freeing to know deeply my success is my own definition, in my own life!
You + Me
I share my story, in hopes you find your own. Maybe it’ll nudge you into reframing your priorities. Maybe it ultimately sets you loose into your own freedom-life.
My story is my why, and my story is also why I can help you. I'm unconventional. I show women the possibilities before them if they are willing to be brave, vulnerable and stand together. If you desire to break free, to create new possibilities, to be part of something supportive and inclusive…think about the freedom life. Think about taking the LEEP with me.