Dawn is an accomplished and versatile leader with strong interpersonal skills and over twenty years of professional and business experience. Dawn created the Facebook page She Recovers in 2011 to reach out to other women wanting to recover their lives and their potential. Building on her degrees in women’s studies, women’s history and a PhD in health care policy, Dawn completed recovery coach training with Crossroads Recovery Coaching in September 2013. In addition to operating a full-time health and social policy research consultancy, Dawn has been running She Recovers Retreats since 2012. In Dawn’s view, we are all recovering from something and – we’re stronger together. www.sherecovers.co
What events led up to you deciding to take back your life?
I’ve taken back my life at a few crucial points. Most recently – in fall of 2011 I came to the hard realization that I had become a raging workaholic. Having conquered alcohol and drug addiction in my late twenties it was a shock to realize that I was once again addicted, but this time to a process (work) rather than substances. Like a regular alcoholic or addict – my health was declining, my relationships were suffering and I was in complete denial about how out of hand things were getting. I was “sneaking” work in the middle of the night by going into the spare room with my tablet and working – under the covers. It was pretty insane.
Was there a significant event or moment that made you realize you needed to make a change? What was it?
I burst into tears in an executive meeting – twice. And I had a panic attack while driving home after a particularly stressful work day. I felt like my life was spinning out of control. I went to see my doctor and she called me out on what I had been doing. I knew something had to change. She reminded me that I was only five years past a very serious run-in with cancer (colon, stage 3) and that stress was going to do me in. I definitely had an awakening during that conversation – and realized that I was as addicted to work as I had earlier been to drugs. I knew that I needed to recover, that I needed to take back my life.
Was there a first step of action when you decided to take back your life? What was it?
I took some time away from work. I went cold turkey, actually – didn’t go back to work for four months. I started writing, seeing a therapist, reading about workaholism and prayed and meditated harder than I had for a really long time. I started to take care of myself – in a nutshell. I was never really very good at self-care up until that point.
Since you took back your life, how have things changed for you?
Everything has changed. I did go back to work but knew that I didn’t want to be in the same pressure cooker environment, so saw it as a temporary return until I could afford to stop work and figure out what I really wanted to do. The universe intervened when my work unit was dissolved after a re-org and I was granted a year of severance. I spent a fair bit of time sitting on beaches (on the West Coast and in Mexico) and decided to partner with a friend and my daughter to run yoga and recovery retreats for women recovering in all areas of life (my passion project) and to start my own research consulting company (my profession).
What would you say to anyone who finds themselves in the situation you were in?
Not everyone will have the luxury of taking a year off but I would say – just stop. Find a weekend – or a week and take a sacred pause and then sit down and really ask yourself what you want your life to look like and identify what needs to change. Be fearless and honest. Then, find the support you need to make it happen. Seek professional help but also find your tribe – you are not the only one going through whatever you are experiencing.
What does ‘Fully Alive’ mean to you?
I define “recovery” as being about the process of discovering and recovering our potential. I suppose I would see being “Fully Alive” as living that potential.
Favourite Inspirational Quote
“Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind!” Dr. Seuss
Connect with Dawn
Take Back Your Life Month
Last year, I declared May 16th ‘Take Back Your Life’ Day, because that’s the day that I took back my life from that evil beast, Cancer. It’s so important to me that this year I’m declaring the whole month of May ‘Take Back Your Life’. Every Tuesday and Friday this month, be inspired by stories of everyday people who have transformed their lives. These are people who converted a moment of struggle into a moment of strength and revolution! (Read more here.) Check back here to read their stories & share your own on social media! #TakeBackYourLife