The world has a nutty way of making introductions, doesn’t it? As I’ve written here before, I don’t believe in coincidences. And yet, even after almost 36 years on this earth, I am still always amazed when fate touches me on the shoulder and nudges me forward in the right direction. Welcome to episode 3 of “Cool People, Doing Cool Stuff”. I actually don’t quite remember how I stumbled upon Elizabeth Piper’s “The Pretty Girl Revolution” Instagram feed. But, somehow through a rabbit hole of the the social application, I made the connection. Perhaps it was because we are both from Baltimore, or conceivably, because we both happened to attend the same all girls prep school (although over a decade does separate our time there). It might even have simply been that we both “fan girl”…oops, I mean, adulate… over the works of our favorite writer, Liz Gilbert. An amalgamation of these similarities probably prompted me to follow The Pretty Girl Revolution account, but ultimately it was was my curiosity that lead me to reach out to the woman behind the pictures and inspiring posts. Why? Because Elizabeth Piper is a life coach and my life was about to do a goofy-foot, 180, kickflip ollie, handstand. Somewhere my brother is rolling his eyes at my awful exercise of skateboard terminology ; )
It wasn’t that my life was spiraling out of control. In fact, I was on the cusp doing some really awesome shit. But for some reason, I was struggling to make something happen. So, when Elizabeth generously posted that she was willing to give up an hour of her time for anyone that reached out to her by the end of the day, I jumped. She responded quickly and we set up a time to chat. I’m gonna be real for y’all though for a second. As someone who just recently started my own business, I think at least 5-10 self described “life coaches” reach out to me a week. While I’m sure many of them serve value in some shape or form, a lot the messages I receive come across as watered down motivational horse poop. But for whatever reason, and again maybe it was all those other commonalities I crossed with Elizabeth, I recognized immediately that this chick is about as authentic as they come. I’d like to keep what I discussed with Elizabeth between us, but I will tell you I learned more about myself in that one hour than I have in years spent in self-discovery, and even therapy. I hung up the phone inspired, determined, and bridled with a new sense of clarity. Hashtag worth it.
Elizabeth provides her services through a number of different channels- from one on one coaching to speaking at venues of all sizes. Most recently, she spoke with a large group of women at James Madison University. When I was 21 years old, I could barely comprehend that life existed past college, much less find my way to career services office. I would have listened to someone like Elizabeth though. She’s young, empowered, and passionate. And, she a dreamer. That equation is exactly what our world needs more of and luckily for us, Elizabeth is willing to share her gift and energy.
Here’s Elizabeth in her own words.
- Tell us a little about yourself!
I am a 25-year-old entrepreneur born & raised in Baltimore. After graduating from Loyola University in 2012, I moved to Bangkok, Thailand for a year to teach English to university students and travel throughout Southeast Asia. From motorcycling through Northern Vietnam to trekking to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal, my time abroad allowed me to pursue my adventurous cravings to see the world & explore the innermost desires of my soul. When I arrived back to the U.S. in 2013, I started the prettygirl revolution to empower young women to see themselves as the very key to unlock their greatest potential & life purpose. I bring this mission to life through motivational speaking and life coaching.
- What was your first job? This is one of my favorite questions, because usually it is something absolutely UNinspiring, but funny nonethless ; )
In high school I worked at a pool snack bar at a ritzy country club in Maryland, and honestly loved it. From a young age, I really enjoyed any experience that allowed me to interact with people and serve their needs. While some days, the needs of the members came in the form of a cocktail by the poolside on a hot summer day, other days, it seemed to me that all they were looking for was someone to listen – someone to merely see & hear them. While it may sound odd, there is a parallel to be drawn between the work I did that summer in high school and the work I do now as a speaker and coach. Both then and now I see and listen to people. And sometimes that is the greatest service we can give to others – to simply be present to them on their journeys. It’s what the Jesuits call ministry of presence.
- What began your path into life coaching? How has your work evolved?
My career as a life coach came as no surprise to those who know me well. My father raised me on motivational speakers like Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, and Wayne Dyer, so my passion for inspiring others to chase their dreams and discover their life purposes developed at a very young age. However, it wasn’t until I grew into my high school and college years that I began to understand why these speakers and their messages resonated with me so deeply.
I grew up living two very different lives – the life that other people witnessed and the life that existed behind a closed door. On the outside I appeared as someone who had it all together – I was class president, on the honor roll, team captain of sports’ teams, and had a very healthy social life. It wasn’t until I went home that my world changed. My mother, who struggled with a severe alcohol addiction and mental illness, was impossible to predict. Living with her was a real and breathing dichotomy of good and evil. When she was sober and on her medication, she was my best friend, but when she was drinking – and I mean getting absurdly obliterated –she was my worst enemy, inflicting emotional pain on my father, brother, and me. When you live in that kind of world, you tend to grab hold of anything that has the potential to either help or distract you. It can be drugs, sex, writing, dangerous activities, food, God, literally anything. For me it was hope. I desperately sought out anything that offered me any dosage, no matter how small, of hope. I became infatuated with the idea that I could create the life of my dreams, that I was here for a reason, and that everything I was going through was preparing me for my life purpose. When I graduated college, I knew that I wanted to speak to, empower, and coach young women. I wanted to offer hope –the same type of hope I was searching for – to a generation of women who were told time and time again that their worth came from numbers – numbers on a scale, numbers that men ranked them at a bar, numbers of friends they had, numbers on tests they received, the number of calories they consumed in a day, and the number of likes on their Instagram posts. I wanted to tell them that their worth came from a place far deeper than any of those superficial places. I’ve learned through my work with the prettygirl revolution that young women are craving this message. Whether they are going through a break up, an eating disorder, a parent struggling with mental illness and addiction, or friendship drama, young women need to be reminded that they have worth merely because they exist; they need to be taught that they are here for a purpose that only they can offer the world, and that every triumph and heartbreak that they endure is molding them into the person they were created to be.
- Greatest challenge in your work? In life?
My greatest challenge in my life was when my Mom passed away tragically and unexpectedly when I was 22 years old. I had just come home from my year-long-excursion through Southeast Asia, and I was looking forward to re-connecting with my mother and helping her recover from her addiction. When she passed away that early July morning, I remember being in shock. It is impossible for one to prepare for an experience that traumatic. In the two and a half years that have passed since her death, I have experienced the many phases of grief – anger, resentment, sadness, denial, and acceptance. I used to go out on stage to speak to young women, and force myself to appear as though I had it all together. It wasn’t until these past three months that I made the conscious decision to open to my heart to the audience in front of me. For the first time in my life, I have made the choice to share the darkest moments of my life with complete strangers rather than hide it from them. I have opened up about the complex relationship I shared with my mother throughout my entire life, and how hear death turned my world upside down. But most importantly, the lesson I share with the audience – the ultimate lesson that my mother’s death has taught me – is that no matter what pain we endure in life, no matter who or what we lose, we will always be the place we’re searching for. Our soul will always be our home. There is something very freeing about that truth. It has been and always will be what keeps me going through this frightening, but oh so thrilling quest.
- What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the strength I possessed when I delivered my mother’s eulogy at her funeral. Looking back, I don’t fully understand where that strength came from as I peered out at the pews to find both my father and brother sobbing uncontrollably. Perhaps I was in denial of where I really was. Perhaps I was being guided. Or maybe, just maybe, I was designed to hold half of the sky on my head. Maybe it was all a part of my purpose. Whatever it was, I’m proud of myself for trusting all of it.
- How do YOU unwind after helping so many others?
The best way I have learned to unwind is by making time for myself. And I don’t mean just fifteen minutes here or there on the weekends. I make me time a huge priority. I take soul strolls. I take naps. I take baths. I watch movies that feed my soul. I laugh. I love. I observe my surroundings. I hold hands with people I connect with. I dance and I sing. I tell people what I need. I drink my favorite wine (malbec). I spend time with my father (a lot of time!). I walk in the rain. I reflect. I dangle my feet above the water on my favorite pier downtown in the middle of the night. I speak poetry. I cry. I tightly embrace people I love. I breathe. In fact, some days, all I really do is breathe. I give myself permission to miss my Mom. I read everything Elizabeth Gilbert writes. I trust that everything is unraveling as it should. I accept that I am and always will be the place I long for.
You can read more about Elizabeth Piper and The Pretty Girl Revolution at http://theprettygirlrevolution.com/