I Was A Walking Dead Girl.
I’ve lost control of my Jeep. I’m less than a second away from smashing into the wall at high speed. It’s noon.
I hear my own voice as a little girl, “No, no! Not like this!”
And then another voice, mine but seemingly not from me, “Sylvia, you’re about to hit the wall. Relax and let go.”
Against every natural human instinct I watch my hands let go of the steering wheel…in slow motion…willed into action by “something” outside of myself.
I smash into the freeway wall, the airbags explode and scrape off parts of my face.
As if my identity were being ripped away.
I’m 40. I’m a fitness badass, a Women’s Tri-Fitness Hall of Famer with two world championships, and I work as an elite trainer at one of the best gyms in South Florida. My clients are pro athletes, celebrities and high achievers all striving for “success”. I live with an incredible boyfriend, fifty steps from the beach…yet, I haven’t been happy for years.
My 30s were spent chasing trophies and podiums, unknowingly as a means to escape trauma, addiction, nightmares and pain. As an adult I got into relationships with super abusive guys. One put a gun to my head. Another put my head through a wall.
I became hardened on the outside and numb on the inside.
At my lowest point, when I was 38, I locked eyes with the driver of an 18 wheeler that I’d resolved to step in front of. My boyfriend pulled me away from the highway just in time.
I was a walking dead girl, desperate to come alive but feeling trapped in my own skin.
Dissatisfied with traditional bandaid approaches to healing I went on a mission to reclaim my physical and mental health with the very attitude I’d mastered as an athlete — that extraordinary results happen through incremental changes.
For the next two years, instead of focusing on “peak performance” – how to do more, get more, and try to look good while doing it – I began immersing myself into learning about breathwork, meditation and heart-brain coherence; neuroscience, chakras and movement as medicine; the Law of Attraction and the practice of prayer. And, most of all, the miraculous healing power of gratitude.
I was discovering how to connect with myself…to trust myself. And began experimenting with everything I learned on my clients.
Minutes after crashing my Jeep I was loaded into an ambulance. During transport, I had an experience that to this day is still hard to comprehend, let alone explain.
As I’m looking up at the paramedics the roof of the ambulance seems to open up. Suddenly I’m standing on a translucent white line. To my left is every moment I’d ever lived. To my right, a black void. Then I hear another voice, “Sylvia, you walked right up to that line in the crash. If you’d crossed over, would you be okay with that?”
I watched how most of my life I’d often said “Yes,” to things I actually wanted to say no to. And saw how too often I’d said “No,” to things I yearned to say yes to.
I answered the question. “I’d rather be dead.”
I woke up in the hospital. My first thought: “This is NOT my life. It’s up to me to change this.”
Weeks later I ended my relationship, packed up whatever I could fit into my tiny car, and moved to Boulder, Colorado — because bizarrely, “Boulder” started popping up everywhere for me, out of nowhere. I trusted this as a sign. Nothing I was doing made any logical sense to those around me (especially to me!) but everything inside me knew THIS was my path…
The next few years of my life ushered me into a rabbit hole of deep inner transformation.
I lived summers in Boulder, and winters in Costa Rica. I befriended and joined forces with extraordinary entrepreneurs who role-modeled authentic, creative and courageous living.
I made friends with and was mentored by Amber Rae, international best selling author, inspirational artist and a creative maven who’d worked closely with serial entrepreneur, the prolific Seth Godin. I assisted Dr. Kate Maloney in producing the legendary Success 3.0 Summit. In Costa Rica I ran a team of 27 locals alongside the founders of ECHO, producing a unique fusion of Burning Man-esque and TEDx-style talks in the middle of a jungle, three years running.
I began to understand what it was like to stop using my body as armor and start trusting her as my muse to manifest opulent experiences, generate boundless moments of joy and feel vibrantly, purposefully ALIVE.
While in Costa Rica, I initiated a social impact business idea with women from the local town. I showed them how to turn plastic bags into beautiful bracelets. While we worked we talked. At first, their talk was all gossip, but I’d share my story, my mistakes, and pains, and soon the garbage talk transformed into deeply meaningful moments with the girls sharing really personal feelings they’d never spoken before. It became a healing circle of sisterhood. Or as one of the girls lovingly called it, Trenza Terapia or “Braiding Therapy.”
While sharing vulnerably with one another I knew that, together, we were overcoming our personal suffering one story, one bracelet at a time…and liberating our hearts and our gifts.
Today, one of my greatest joys is guiding the soulful woman-of-action down the very path I continue to walk myself. I use fitness, wellness and self-care practices as sacred gateways into her liberation from the inner mental and emotional prisons that keep her bound to the past, fearful of the future and disconnected from the self-healing magic on the moment.
The woman I serve is out to create a life of beauty and aliveness – not chasing down toned abs, a bikini butt and yet another “peak performance” hack.
I teach this soulful go-getter to use her body as the instrument that breathes life into the great visions she is called to bring forth into our world.
I help her ignite freedom, ease, and real-life magic so that she can finally trust herself to let go and fall in love with life.