I’ve never been into superstition or new age philosophy. Outside of the occasional horoscope readings, I was a devout scientist — things had to make sense and backed by facts. A few months after I completed my last chemo session, I started seeing the numbers 911 everywhere — the clock, parking spaces, license plates…it seemed to follow me everywhere. It was so compelling that I reluctantly admitted it to one of my best friends, “Ugh, I’ve been seeing the numbers 911 ALL THE TIME. I’m a little scared…” And that’s when she replied, “Omg, me too!!” This got me so curious that I decided to look it up expecting it to mean disaster or a bad omen. To my surprise, 911 actually carries positive connotations, specifically that it symbolizes new beginnings and alignment. Months went by and I progressively started to not only see 911, but also 11 11. I’d feel compelled to look at the time and boom, it would be 11:11. I’d look up an address and the street number would be 1111. Heck, I even saw it on the runway as I sat on the plane leaving my yoga retreat in Aruba.
The scientist in me was suspicious, but the Pisces inside me was deeply curious. There had to be some meaning to all this. I’ve seen this number enough times in meaningful ways for it to be more than coincidence. So of course I looked it up.
If I thought seeing 911 was a good sign, seeing 1111 was even better. In Numerology, this number is considered a Master Number, a divine sign that could signify a huge change, possibly toward a higher life purpose. It is powerful in that it can be associated with new beginnings and turning ideas and wishes into reality, which is why it is common to hear of people making a wish at the stroke of 11:11.
During my time in Aruba, I was introduced to Angel Cards — a deck of cards with various messages spanning health, relationships, personal reflections, business, etc. The idea, I was told, is that we attract that which we need most. So when me and 50 other women sat around a circle that first night of the retreat, the card we picked was exactly meant for us at that place and time. I came in fully expecting a healing card or new changes card, but alas, I got Do Some Research:
The first hit of my search was Duke University’s Integrative Health Coaching program.
Integrative Health Coaching empowers clients to make lasting behavior changes that are the foundation for a lifetime of health and well-being. Health is impacted by multiple interconnected dimensions. These dimensions include the choices one makes that affect their physical, mental, spiritual well-being and the medical care approaches utilized for their health. An Integrative Health Coach helps support their clients in discovering ways to successfully implement healthy lifestyle behaviors across these various dimensions into their unique lives.
As I browsed through information regarding the program, I could feel a surge of excitement come over me. All of this made so much sense! I learned so much about healing outside of traditional medicine, about the importance of self-care and awareness and staying present — being mindful. That all these areas of our well-being do, in fact, play into each other. How do I know this? Because I am proof. Proof that you could get cancer in your 30s, be stripped down to the core, have your life fall apart, not recognize yourself in the mirror and yet you can still be healthy. And happy. I had a deep yearning to do something with this knowledge; to share what I’ve learned to not just survive, but to THRIVE.
I signed up for a webinar where I gained better insight to the program. The new cohort was to start just a few weeks into January, which meant I had to make a decision. Do I go for it? Do I invest in myself? Do I pursue this health and wellness journey? Do I follow the voice inside me? Do I dare step into this path that is seemingly being laid out in front of me? Do I make something good out of the pain?
It didn’t require much contemplation on my end to know this was something I was meant to do. This notion that optimum health and well-being (which to me, also equates very simply to happiness) is a result of a balance of many dimensions and not just diet and exercise like what the mainstream fitness industry seems to tell us.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I’m happy to say that I got back from the first of two modules in Durham, NC, where I sat in a room with 35 other like-minded people. People who are passionate about health and well-being and believe that an integrative approach is far more effective than targeting just one aspect of the individual. These are doctors, nurses, physical therapists, coaches, nutritionists, teachers, and even people that work outside the healthcare industry — a Marketing coordinator, a Chemist, and then there is me: a Biology major working in the bio-pharmaceutical industry married to a doctor and just recently battled cancer who is now a yoga and meditation aficionado and holistic healing proponent. Is there a more qualified person? I literally sit on the intersection between science and spirituality, patient and doctor, conventional and complementary treatment, allopathic and holistic healing.
It felt good to spend those 4 days learning about the power of coaching, specifically how to be a flashlight for other people’s path to wellness. The coach’s job is not to fix the problem, rather to partner with the client to examine the spokes of their lives and identify the places that maybe need some balancing. What I’ve learned is that so many of the health concerns and things that manifest superficially are actually deep-rooted, if you give it enough time and attention. What presents as insomnia is actually due to anxiety stemming from waking up cold without heat as a child, or that an aversion to exercise is due to self-image issues that is triggered by tight-fitting leggings. Dare I say, we are all messed up in one way or another…and for those that are wanting to make a lasting change, this Integrative Health Coaching could help.
Everything I learned as part of my cancer journey ties back to this Integrative Health program. From the books I am drawn to, to the people I’ve met, to the yoga retreat that changed my life, to the cards that predicated more research and business venture, to this spiritual awakening I believe I am having, and to numbers of alignment and purpose I keep seeing…they were all leading to this path.
I have arrived.