It’s that time again! I’ve been wanting to bring Fresh Face Friday back for awhile now, but man the past few months have been, ummmm, a lot. I hope you’re as excited as I am to hear some new stories. I started doing this series last year because I just feel like hearing other people’s stories is SO interesting and I love providing a platform for them to share.
This week I’m introducing you to Courtney. I actually met Courtney the summer before my Sophomore year of high school. My family had just moved to Michigan and we ended up seated next to each other in Driver’s Ed. One of the things I remember is how friendly she was and then when school finally started a few months later (after we hadn’t seen each other the rest of the summer), Courtney remembered who I was and introduced me to some of her friends. I love that we’ve been able to re-connect in recent years and even had the chance to see each other in person in Nashville a couple summers ago. She has such an amazing story of her journey into motherhood and then a major career change after having her son.
Tell everyone a little about yourself.
A little bit about me… Well, my name is Courtney, and I’m a 38 year old wife to my husband of 13 years this July (we’ve known each other for 21 years!) and mom to my 7 year old (as of the end of June!) miracle boy! I was born and raised in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (GO BLUE!) and went on to teach middle school math and science in a district not far from where I grew up. I was in public education for 12 years before taking a year of childcare leave to stay home with my kiddo. Turns out, I never went back! I officially “retired” from my teaching career in 2017 and am now a full time stay-at-home mom, work-from-anywhere virtual health and wellness coach, and I love it all!
You made a pretty big career leap a few years ago. Tell us about why you decided to go for it.
It took my husband and I 3 years of infertility treatments, multiple clinics and doctors, and ultimately an out-of-state (world renowned) infertility clinic to have a baby. That’s a lot of time, tears, stress, injections, early morning lab workups, ultrasounds, failed cycles, and devastation. When our miracle baby finally arrived after a relatively uneventful pregnancy (but a HORRID 21-hour-long labor and delivery experience) I was thrown into postpartum depression. My newborn baby cried constantly. I cried every morning when my husband eventually had to leave to go back to work. I didn’t want to be left alone with him, and I couldn’t explain why. From the blood loss and subsequent transfusion I experienced during and after L&D in the hospital, I was anemic and being monitored and treated for that. Everyone told us Carter had colic, but I knew deep down something was going on. Eventually, when he was around 3 months old, it was discovered that he had a pretty severe dairy (and assumed soy) protein intolerance. The formula we were giving him — don’t even get me started on the disappointment that was my failed breast feeding experience — was literally tearing him up inside. Talk about MOM GUILT. Needless to say, when I had to return back to work a little over two months after having Carter, I was NOT ready. Besides the fact that it still felt like my body was recovering from a massive trauma, my mind was not in the right place. I arranged to make use of FMLA and while I started the school year off in September, I shortly thereafter was home and took the rest of the semester off. As a matter of fact, my last day at my building in September I left early — panicked and in tears after having a meltdown in the office in front of students and ending in the counselor’s office — and drove myself straight to the ER because I was *still* having some, ahem, ‘issues’ as a result of my delivery nearly THREE MONTHS EARLIER. (Side note — I will never, ever, ever understand how people have children who are less than a year apart. Ever!!) ;-)
As I started to come out of my PPD, and Carter got a little older, I was back to work full time. Up and out of the house often before he was even awake, home in time to get him from daycare or relieve the grandparents from watching him, make dinner, and get him to bed before sitting down to do ALL the schoolwork. The checking of papers, recording of grades, answering parent emails, lesson planning, documentation… My job was starting to suck the life out of me — with all the pressure from the state on data, standardized testing, the requirements for teacher observations, etc. I felt like I was spending the majority of my day assessing with little room for actual teaching. The profession definitely changed in the decade+ I was in it, and I felt like I was putting more and more and more into my job and in return getting more and more and more piled onto my plate. I never got to see my son and family that we worked SO hard to have. The weekends were spent prepping for another week, and the weekdays were spent counting down to the weekend. It was an awful cycle, and I was BURNT OUT.
I decided to put in for a year of childcare leave the summer of 2015 to be able to stay home with Carter. He had just turned 3, and I knew I’d never get these days back with him. Around the same time, I signed up to be a Team Beachbody coach because I had been doing their at-home workout programs and drinking their superfoods shake for about 9 months and seen and felt great results. I signed up just to get the awesome discount on products I was already buying… But when my leave was approved for the year by my district, and I realized I’d be home anyway I figured WHY NOT see what the business opportunity of coaching could provide? I had a slight glimmer of hope in my mind that if I was successful as a coach, I could possibly extend my childcare leave a second year. Not only did I extend my leave a second year, but after that second year I was able to put in my official resignation from my district. I was able to be home with my son, and still am even though he’s now in elementary school. But I get to put him on the bus in the mornings, get him off the bus in the afternoons, I help out in the classroom whenever help is needed, I even got to be his teacher’s Room Parent this year which was just so much fun! And I can work my business whenever and wherever I want to, while still working on my own health and wellness goals. All the stuff we’d have to take care of on the weekends when my husband and I were both working (grocery shopping, laundry, keeping up the house, etc.) I can do during the week now so we actually have our weekends together as a family. I’m in SUCH a better mind-space these days, and I know I owe that to taking the leap of faith to put aside the career that I had spent years and two degrees working towards so I could focus on my family and also making myself and my health a priority too!
3. What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned through your journey with infertility?
The biggest lessons I’ve learned through my journey with infertility? To never take anything for granted. Also, to never ever EVER ask anyone if//when they are going to have kids. It’s such an innocent question for people who get pregnant easily, and I’d reckon to say that in almost every single case the person doesn’t even realize the hurt that such a simple question can bring on someone. Besides the fact that someone’s family planning is NONE of anyone else’s business, you never know if the person you’re asking has been trying for months…years…spending each and every day injecting themselves with hormones and drugs that wreak havoc on their bodies and emotions…waking up hours before needing to be at work so they can drive to the infertility clinic for bloodwork and ultrasounds… You just never know. It’s also taught me to be more open about the struggles I go through. When I was actually in the midst of infertility, I was not public about it. I happened to meet a few girls locally who were also going through infertility at the same time as me (ironically we all now have children within a year of each other…crazy, right?) and we are still super close. But I think that other people can benefit from hearing the struggles that you are willing to share, and each year during National Infertility Awareness Week I share about our journey on social media. And every single year I get private messages from people either going through it themselves, or with a close friend/family member going through it and asking if it’s ok that they share my post with them.
4. What is the most surprising thing about motherhood to you?
The most surprising thing about motherhood is the EXTREME emotions I still experience! One minute my son is driving me UP THE WALL crazy. But the second he goes off to school, or is playing — I miss him or want to just go up and cuddle him and kiss him. Also, the fact that no one warned me that motherhood basically throws you into this weird time warp. Those early months were so so so hard, and I wished them away. I remember rocking Carter in his rocker, just WISHING he could be 3 months old…4 months old…6 months old… because maybe THEN he wouldn’t cry all the time, maybe THEN he wouldn’t be as fussy all the time. Those days were SO VERY LONG. And yet I feel like I blinked and he’s now a big kid going off to 2nd grade in the fall.
5. What is your favorite thing about your current job?
My FAVORITE thing about being an online health and wellness coach is that there are so many favorite things about being an online health and wellness coach!! ;-) I love that it is my JOB to help people get started on a wellness journey and I get to see them work towards and crush their goals — whether they be weight loss, cleaning up their nutrition, improving their confidence and self-esteem, instilling some healthy self-care habits, or all of the above. I love that I get to do my job whenever and wherever I want to. I set my own “hours”, and so I am always available to chaperone field trips, help out in Carter's classroom, etc. I love that this job has given me so many opportunities to travel and earn trips that I wouldn’t have even known about otherwise. From (two!) Caribbean cruises, to a cozy cabin nestled high up on Mt. Hood, to Nashville, to New Orleans, to Indianapolis — so many opportunities that I have awesome memories from!
6. How has self care impacted your life?
Honestly, before I started coaching I didn’t think I needed self-care. I really don’t think I fully understood what it even MEANT. Now, my favorite form of self-care is personal development. I have a goal to read one book per month this year minimum, and so far I’m keeping right on par with that goal! I think it’s so important to fuel your mind because that can set the tone for your entire day. I’ve also come to learn that exercise is a form of self-care for me. Something I used to have to force myself to do is now something I look forward to - most days! - because I know how good it makes me feel when I’m done.
7. What are your top 3 tips for someone looking to make switch careers?
First, acknowledge that it is ***OK*** to want to change. I had it so engrained in my head that I was a teacher… I spent 4 years at U of M getting my TEACHING degree… I earned my MAT from Marygrove College in TEACHING… everything about me was dedicated to the education profession. And when I started to realize I wasn’t loving what I was doing, I felt like I was letting myself down. If I didn’t teach, THEN what? It’s ok to feel that fear, that unknown. And it’s ok to want to change your life!
Second, don’t throw in the towel on your current career if you don’t have ANY backup plan! I want everyone to do something they’re passionate about, but I also want you to be able to pay the bills, you know? I didn’t just quit my job — My husband and I decided I’d take a year off after looking at our financial situation, knowing he would still be working full time, and so on. Be reasonable, but maybe set aside some time every day — 15 minutes? A half hour? — to brainstorm ideas of things you’d be interested in doing. Be open to signs from the universe too. Looking back, I know the signs were there for me. I just wasn’t open to seeing them yet!
Lastly, when people say “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” please realize… They are lying. Sorry, but they are! Don’t expect to land your dream job and love *every* aspect of it. I absolutely LOVE what I do, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows every second of every day. And that is totally normal! I still wouldn’t want to do anything else — and THAT is how you know you’re doing the right thing!
8. Three books that have changed your life?
Oh gosh…changed my LIFE?? This is a tough one. Maybe because it is so recent in my head, but I’m going to have to say Atomic Habits by James Clear. I recommend EVERYONE read this book. Everyone. Seriously! Go read it! I also LOVE Jon Acuff — Start and Finish are two of his books in particular that really hit home with me. You also can’t go wrong with Rachel Hollis — I highlighted the crap out of her latest book, “Girl, Stop Apologizing”! I’m apparently allll about the books that fuel your mind!
9. In your opinion, why should women invest in themselves by attending an event?
There is NOTHING like a live event to really set your soul on fire! When you attend an event, you are surrounded by like-minded people, and the SUPPORT and STRENGTH you can find within a community like that is so empowering! Every year my company holds a coaching event that is open to any and every coach in the business. Doesn’t matter how big or small (or nonexistent!) your business is — all coaches are invited to attend. Since what I do is largely internet-based, and I DO feel like I know my teammates from spending so much time “face to face” with them within our team pages and accountability groups and Zoom calls, there is NOTHING that can replace the live face to face time we get together in person! I have made some amazing friendships with these people, and the memories we have from events such as this are irreplaceable!
10. Your company is big on creating community. What do you do to help cultivate that community in YOUR team?
My company is definitely big on creating community. My own team is part of large collection of teams, appropriately named the Wild Reign Collective. My own coach began this with her team and all of her coaches — We all become a part of this collective and it’s like one big family! We all are there for each other, help each other out, and it feels like this awesome sisterhood! I host local quarterly events at my home which is a great way to meet other coaches in the area too.
11. If you could give 18 year old Courtney a pep talk, what one piece of advice would you make sure to give her?
Be open to change. Your life is not scripted for you — so take time to figure out what YOU want! Don’t do something just because you think it’s what everyone EXPECTS you to do.
12. What is your biggest goal for the coming year?
My biggest goal for the coming year…Avoid going insane this summer. HA! Kidding, kidding… I love my child to death but as I said before, those emotional extremes are for REAL! Mad props to moms who home-school their children because that is just not something that we are hard-wired to do in this house! ;-) With my business though, my goal is based around growing my team. When I started this business I was solely focused on growing my client base. While I still take on new clients of course, I’m looking a bit more into the future and establishing a solid group of working coaches who want to help pay forward what this company and business has done for them! I’m also not-so-secretly hoping I get to be my kiddo’s 2nd grade Room Parent too!! ;-)
13. MLM companies often get a bad rep. What do you wish people knew about them?
I wish people would understand that not all MLM companies are the same. The cost for me to start up my business was the EXACT same thing that it cost me to start on my own health journey, nothing more. I don’t have to keep any inventory at my home. And you can be as successful as you want to be. You are in control of your salary!
14. Who has been your biggest supporter through all the trials and change you’ve experienced?
My biggest supporter has been my husband, Steve. Without him, taking a year off in the first place wouldn’t have even been a possibility! This whole “coaching thing” was so foreign a concept to him and yet he knew it made ME happy and was something I wanted to do and has supported me all the way. (Thanks, babe!) I also have to shout my parents out too — they always support me in everything I do!
15. If you could interview one person (living or deceased) who would it be and why?
This is a tough one! I’d probably say my maternal grandpa. He passed away when my mom was a child so I obviously never got to know him — my only grandparent I never met. He would have quite the stories to tell, as he was alive during the Armenian Genocide and had to flee the country.
Okay y’all…isn’t she awesome? Courtney is just such a kind, genuine person. Her instagram feed is full of fun, good tips/recipes, and just general inspiration. You can follow her at @courtneypoloney.