If my story were an adventure tale narrated by Morgan Freeman, the intro might go something like this:
Things were going alright for trail guide Jennifer Shryock until she climbed the proverbial career ladder instead of the Rocky Mountains. She got lost. She got sick. Then, against all odds and the prognoses of her doctors, illness guided her home and to an even richer career and a magical life (helping others to reconnect to their deepest nature, heal their own careers, and to find and make their own magic).
I’m so glad you’re here.
For our purposes, how about I just tell it this way?
I was once a trail guide. Then I got lost. And sick. I followed the breadcrumbs of my calling (symptoms) and along the way I learned how to help others heal their own careers and lives. This is my story.
(To read The Rainmaker Story — A Calling, click here.)
During my early twenties, I worked for several summers in Glacier National Park. I was a backpacking guide and river guide. Life was good. If I was hot, I’d splash someone and inevitably cool off, either in a water fight or a spontaneous group swim in turquoise, recently melted waters. Of course it wasn’t quite that simple. I worked long hours. Grizzlies, storms, and falling trees were real dangers. Some of the guests were challenging. And yet, it felt so right. I felt so right.
I lived in my body. Now, I don’t just mean that I moved it a lot, knew where to place my feet, and slept outdoors, although of course those were true. More than that, I inhabited my body. I trusted that I’d know what to do and when to do it. I trusted in myself and in the universe. It was as if I had a little internal navigation system that guided me, a sense of knowing. This sense of knowing seemed to emanate from somewhere near my heart or solar plexus. It didn’t feel special. It just felt natural. It felt good.
I lost my way.
Then I grew up. I started to think about fleshing out my resume, gaining professional skills that seemed more important than my innate talents. I got ‘real’ jobs where I was all up in my head, thinking a lot, which I was really good at. I worked for really long hours at a desk. I’m not saying you can’t inhabit your body while you’re thinking or sitting. But I didn’t.
I felt lost, a trail guide who had taken the wrong path. I felt like I was living somebody else’s life, that this wasn’t me. I was very lonely, a lot lonelier than those long hours and days that I spent in the mountains in my twenties or alone in foreign cultures when I’d traveled.
The first breadcrumbs of a calling
In an effort to return to myself, I sold a business that wasn’t a good fit. I left a relationship that wasn’t a good fit (It was so much worse than that, but I’ll save that for another story). I moved back to Montana, to people, and to a place where I had known myself, where I had felt at home in myself.
I started a new business, Rainmaker Resumes, to tap into some of my super powers, like writing, being able to see others’ best sides and help them present themselves in their best light. I thought all of this would help me feel home again, but I still felt lost. It felt like I was still far away from myself.
Then I got sick.
Eventually, I received a litany of autoimmune diagnoses with pain, fatigue, and medicinal side effects that were crushing. I could barely meet with my clients or lift my fingers to type, even from the comfort of my bed desk. I could barely do this important work that I cared about.
The prognosis was grim. It was long grim, not even the kind where people rally around for an exciting, “Is she gonna pull through?” but rather decades of declining mobility and increased pain. From where I lay, things looked really dark. I was terrified. I worried about being a burden, and to whom? I’d been so independent…I couldn’t see how things could work out. I began to think of other options.
I gave up.
And strangely, that’s when things started to get better.
There is a forest in your heart, a vast ocean in your mind, a universe in your soul. However trapped or frightened you may feel, you were born to be an explorer. ~ Martha Beck