A friend and industry peer who needed my help with something recently said to me, "This is the best accidental friendship ever!" I literally laughed out loud. I feel like that is what my life has been like all along, accidental friendships that remind me what life is all about--human connections that bring us joy. I was introduced to Life Coach and certified health and wellness counselor Susan Montanaro via a mutual friend while supporting one of my clients at my company. As mentioned in a previous blog post, I was featured on her podcast Dreams and Detours, and now it is my pleasure to feature her as this week's Thriver in Action! She talks about her passion for helping others find their way in life, her podcast and life lessons that have helped her cope during the pandemic.
Name: Susan Montanaro Title/Company: Life Coach + Wellness Counselor City/State reside: Queens, New York Tell me about your business and why you started it/what your mission is.
I started my business so that I could focus on my passion to help people get unstuck from decisions they may have already made or lifelong habits they want to discontinue. After a long tenure as a media executive and internal cheerleader for my colleagues, I found that my desire to support people to get out of their own way was the best next position for me to pursue. So many people feel pressured to make decisions about life and career, either prematurely or under the design of someone else's idea of success. Additionally, it is not unusual to reach a point when you have collected enough life experience to better understand yourself and the sudden desire to want to make changes or live a different life altogether. I work with individuals and groups to uncover the fears and challenges holding them back and help them to take steps toward a happier life with purpose. Tell me about your personal experience with mental health. Can be lately during the COVID pandemic or overall throughout your life.
I was raised by an emotionally unstable parent. The ongoing unexpected shifts in mood and behavior resulted in abuse and violence. It took many years in adulthood to unravel the affects of that, to learn what healthy love, trust and kindness actually look and feel like. I experienced depression as a consequence of that early impact, and until I understood how to heal from that, it was difficult to navigate life the way I wanted. I lived in a state of fear, with an inability to trust my own decisions for many years. This wasn't obvious to anyone, I hid it well. I'm grateful I don't have two sides of myself any longer and have let go of pain that was holding me down. I use the lessons and tools that I learned for all types of life events, including the one we are in now with Covid-19. Any projects or initiatives you are launching or already launched to support the wellness of yourself or others?
I launched my podcast Dreams & Detours 7 months ago, covering a variety of life issues both in solo format, as well as conversations with guests. It is part of my strong belief that we find ourselves in each others stories. I wanted to create a platform for listeners to have that experience, to affirm what they believe to be true for themselves. I also have a few projects in the pipeline, one in particular is a group that brings people together with similar needs or stages of growth in order to share their practices or gain feedback. Personally, I'm always reaching for new or deeper levels of learning in my own daily practices, including coursework in human behavior, meditation, Reiki and the impact on our physical being, all in an effort to maintain my own health and wellness, and also introduce new concepts to my clients.
What have you learned about yourself/community/life in general since the lockdown and COVID pandemic? I have been digging into the subject matter of loneliness and isolation for over a year. It was a top priority for me in 2020 to have deeper conversations (on my podcast) with others, and also share my own experience. My desire to highlight what is a global crisis is critical, now more than ever, as we have so many people quarantined alone and lonely. Separately, it has been incredible to see communities come together to help each other. From food donations, to grocery shopping for neighbors, texts, calls and the 7 pm cheering - all of it has consciously connected us in a way we hadn't been doing prior to the virus outbreak. My hope is that this level of compassion and grace finds a permanent place in society, on a wider scale. Any advice you can give to others to help support their mental health right now?
Please reach out to at least one person that can offer support, perhaps a friend or even health professional. Use the digital tools that are available in order to stay connected. Get fresh air, eat clean food, stretch and move your body. All of these are meant to keep you healthy and safe. And if you don't know what that means or should look like, please reach out to me. We'll find a solution together.
Susan Montanaro is a professional Life Coach, mentor, and certified holistic health + wellness counselor. She completed her education at Fordham University with Bachelor of Arts degree in Clinical Social Work, graduating with distinction. She is the host of Dreams and Detours podcast, a show about the life you planned to have versus the one you are living. Learn more about Susan Montanaro at www.dreamsdetours.com and connect with her at susan [at] dreamsdetours.com and on Instagram @dreamsdetours