Updated: Oct 22, 2020
I have a way of never really speaking or sharing about myself as I'm always too fascinated and curious about the other. Seeing that I'm now putting my whole self out there, I thought it would be good to share who I am and how I came to care about making a difference in the world, one interaction at a time.
44 years ago I was so excited to begin this adventure called life that I was born 3 months premature as the third child of four. I was quite a serious little one and deep thinker from the time I could remember. I loved school and took part in every activity it had to offer. I was an absolute over achiever who got an ulcer at the age of 10 for being too driven. I played provincial hockey in primary and high school, was head girl for both and loved watching LA Law. It was my passion for justice and love for a good confronting courtroom drama that made me go study law. Little did I know at that time that we don’t have a jury to entice in South Africa and that I still had to get through Latin 1 and Law of Contracts to actually get my degree.
I made it proudly 4 years later and served my articles in the dark and dangerous Johannesburg. For me it was the best experience in learning how to read a map of the Witwatersrand, how not to be a boss one day and how to sit still and read through 30-50 files a day. I qualified in 2000 as an attorney and 2 motor vehicle accidents later I became a specialist in the field of personal injury law.
You’ll find it hard to believe, but the money making side of being an attorney never impressed me much although that was one of the main reasons I gave up my fantasy of studying art. For me I was in heaven when I could meet a stranger, assist and support him or her through a traumatic experience and walk away knowing that we shared a meaningful encounter. It was during that time that my personal development journey started after an excruciating heart-break experience, where I ended up doing 3 transformational courses all in one month, that impacted me greatly. It confirmed my passion for making a difference in people's lives and in a moment of sheer bravery, it led me to give up a stressful life of making my monthly fee budget to travel to a small island on the other side of the world to go teach English as a foreign language in Taiwan.
With no teaching experience at all I started teaching kids aged 2-16. One thing I quickly discovered was that I had to become a child myself to connect with kids and many a time I found that the teacher became the student and not the other way around. I also learnt to be on my toes at all times as kids could smell/sense when a teacher was unprepared and have no mercy.
From sunny Taiwan I went to cold and somber London to work at Grant Thornton, the accountants, in their internal communications department. It was a challenging time for a South African to not see the sun. That and it was not human to stand so close to each other on the trains without acknowledging each other. The separateness and coldness seeped into my soul and I became very depressed and down. I realised it was time to come home when I got annoyed with a man that passed out on the stairs at the train station, because he was in my way and causing me to be late for my train. Only when I stood on the platform did I realize that I just walked over a human being and I didn't blink. I resigned soon after and came back to South Africa. I needed our people, I needed the interactions, the humor, the warmth. I learned a lot and made many friends during my overseas travels but there is no place like home.
Back in South Africa, I worked as a Legal Advisor for the Financial Planning and Advisory Services at one of our big banks. It was during this time at the end of 2006 that I watched the movie The Secret and wrote down on a piece of paper that I am so happy and grateful to be a life coach at the end of 2007. Back then the only reference I had of coaching was a book I bought in London called: Coach yourself. I had no idea where to go, where to find out more or how to do this. A month later a friend of mine forwarded a newsletter to me from Creative Consciousness International, (now called Consciousness Coaching) a coach training company in Cape Town. I read the first two sentences and knew it was heaven sent. I signed up for all the courses and started with this course in January 2007 that changed the course of my life.
I was never a great attorney. I was good. I was caring. I was competent but I wasn't great. To give you an example, I had one divorce case and I got them back together and didn't even charge the couple for it. So, yes, I was never a great attorney. But coaching fit me like a glove. I loved firstly the self transformation that I went through during my training and I also loved that it was the most respectable way to move another human being to move on their own. No telling, no giving advice, no forcing, no manipulating. Coaching was this way of holding space and seeing truth while deriving questions from that truth coupled with a keen sense of curiosity that helped the other to see what they've never seen before. I was hooked!
Then my boss's boss came into my office one day and closed the door behind him. That's when you know you're in trouble. He sat down and said to me: "Berdine, don't motivate the people. Don't make them think they can be more or do more. Just let them do their jobs." At first I thought it was a joke but after seeing he was dead serious I decided in that moment that I will become the way-shower that will help transform the way we look at people. I will be the one that will lead the way to see that every person is unique, has strengths and is the biggest asset an organisation can have, if only they knew how to activate that potential.
A month later I resigned and started InVision Coaching with the motto to come "see" your Self!. With no plan, no savings, no back up, I made another courageous leap and about 13 years later, I'm forever grateful for the courage and the complete innocence and ignorance I had to make that change.
During the past 13 years I've gotten divorced, ended friendships, made new friends, went on a 3 month sabbatical travelling through Europe on my own, lived on my own, cried, laughed and everything in between. I submerged myself in growing, learning, transforming and becoming who I really am and unbecoming who I was conditioned to be. I reclaimed my inner artist and did an exhibition of portrait paintings called Woman of Strength. I found my love for the Native American teachings and the sacred purification sweat lodges. I broke down and broke open in fire dances where we danced around 5 fires in an arbour for three days without food or water. I communed with plant medicine, discovered the universe within and still at times doubted my place in the world. Surely I am not here to merely survive? My search continued and with it a battle with my weight, my self-worth and feeling forgotten. I showed up and then I hid. I hid and then I showed up again. I lost my dad and contemplated death. I saw friends have babies and delighted in new life.
I have gone through the dark nights of the soul which weren't pretty and felt awful. I've felt the intensity of transformation in every cell of my body and I was determined to find ways to make the journey insightful, meaningful. What I've learned I teach and what I teach I live. My coaching and guiding comes from a place of knowing because I've gone there and I've seen what lurked in the shadows, the limiting beliefs and the gifts we don't even know existed. I discovered Strengths and loved adding that awareness and activation to my coaching journeys. I am forever a guide, a coach and a way shower. Everything I do in life is to expand my own capacity so I may be of service more. And the more I expanded, the more I can hold the space for whoever was in front of me to go there too.
One of my coaches once said this about me and I thought it was so accurate:
"You won't accept a little love, just a small insight, just a little change. Your BIGness gives others permission. Your push (with (love) brings the hunger, push and thirst up from others. Your very core seems to ask: Can we have more, reach higher, go deeper, be truer? And the feisty love seems to come from having learnt to embrace all of who you are."
-Mix Swart, Medicine Woman, Spiritual Guide & Coach
This is me in a nutshell. I am passionate about activating potential and I have this hunger and drive in me to do things differently in life. I am forever learning and growing in this divinely orchestrated way of flow and ease. I have come to believe that the only life worth living is the one aligned with your soul and in partnership with Spirit (whatever your definition of Spirit or God is).
I look forward to meeting you if I haven't yet and may we one day share meaningful encounters that would make us live our lives in a way that can only be described as blessed, abundant, safely guarded and divinely guided.