Dear HRart Worker,
It’s Samm here and today I have the immense pleasure of introducing you to our new HR Healer Apprentice, Melissa Ural. You’ll hear more about how Melissa joined the team in August in her story below, but I want to add that I already knew she was a Healer even before we began discussing the possibility of her training under me to become the next HR Healer.
The thing is, most HR practitioners and human-centered leaders come with these extra gifts that we are often discouraged to learn about and develop. We are intuitive and we are Healers, which is what draws us to working with people in the first place. Unfortunately, because these gifts aren’t mainstream knowledge (yet), it oftentimes takes a rock bottom situation to force ourselves to recognize those gifts as actual gifts and not weaknesses.
So, I challenge you to read through Melissa’s story and see if you can make it through the whole thing without being able to relate to her. The truth is, you won’t. We’ve all been there and the exciting thing about this work is that there is an answer to these challenges so many of us are facing. Follow along as Melissa steps into her role as a Healer.
Have you ever thought you were destined for something more… that you were meant to play a bigger part in this thing called life and had no clue what “it” was? If so, you are not alone. I have felt that way for years, throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what would stick. Inevitably, I would think I had found “it” and then would be brought back to reality just as the spaghetti would grow cold and fall down the wall again.
In April I had the devastating experience of losing my job which catapulted me into the transformative experience of finding myself. You see, back then I based my value and worth on how others saw me. I looked for their validation and praise to tell me I was on the right path. Little did I know, striving for that praise and validation was pulling me away from my own path and completely draining me. Since then, I have had some startling revelations on what led up to that moment.
Those who know me know that I am a competitive person who does not give up even at the risk of losing myself. I’ve always been in male-dominated industries where I somewhat fit in but was never really accepted for who I was. How could I be accepted for who I was when I didn’t even know myself?
When I would take a step in the right direction of finding myself at work, I would often encounter two types of people. The first type of person saw my gifts and abilities, igniting a flame to give me an indication that perhaps these gifts are what fuel my purpose. The second type would mock my gifts because I was using a perspective that was off the beaten path and foreign from how most businesses acted.
At the core, I was asking people to get vulnerable and drop the facade. We all have pasts and insecurities that shape who we are today. Some people are willing to go deep and do the work. Others aren’t even aware of their insecurities and how they present themselves in the workplace, so they would brush this off as “touchy feely” work. I could see their insecurities clear-as-day and just wanted to help fix them.
I thought my purpose was to “fix people” so they could be the best versions of themselves. While trying to “fix people” I ended up easily putting too much on my plate because I knew people needed me and it helped fuel my need for external validation. Since I had so much to do, there were times I sat at my desk for the day and didn’t realize that I hadn’t eaten lunch and it was already 6 PM. This started a vicious cycle.
I wasn’t able to meet my own commitments because I was striving for that validation while at the same time, ignoring my own health and well-being. The validation I was searching for never materialized because I was emotionally, physically and mentally drained yet still putting on a facade that I had everything together.
I was plugging holes in a dam. When someone asked me to do something for them, I could easily plug the hole when my energy was good. Unfortunately, when I was no longer able to plug all of the holes, the water started to leak until I was drowning. Does this resonate? I share this because I realize now how many people are or have been in the same situation.
Ultimately, I wasn’t meant to “fix people”. I can only lead people so far through their healing and growth journeys and then it is up to them to do the rest of the work. I found my own coaches and mentors that held up a mirror and helped me see the real me. I understand now how I am able to impact the lives of others.
I started using this newly gained knowledge to pay it forward to those I was coaching at work. I knew in my heart and gut the work I was doing with people was creating a shift in not just their lives but also the culture of their workplaces too. I was starting to realize that this was the “it” I had been searching for, helping others was fuel for my soul, but why was I still so exhausted and overwhelmed then?
What I wasn’t yet aware of is the fact that we don’t have a well of unending energy, and I wasn’t taking care of my energy to replenish the source. I got to the point where I was drowning and nothing I did helped me to get my head above water.
Then came that fateful day in April. I was called into my boss’ office and saw my two leaders and an attorney sitting there waiting for me. They told me I was being let go and that “they loved me as a person BUT…” For someone searching for perfection and validation, BUT is a dagger that cuts deep. No matter how hard you had worked, your efforts were not enough because people were able to find your flaws.
While I was processing what had just happened, I was flooded with many emotions. The one emotion that shocked me because I didn’t expect it was relief. How can I feel relief when my world just imploded? I couldn’t figure it out in the moment, because my inner monologue was 5-10% positive and 90-95% self-deprecating.
My journey could have taken many different paths at this time. I could have continued on the same path and hoped for a different outcome, or I could have followed that sense of relief and changed the narrative. If you remember earlier I said I was catapulted into a transformative experience. That tells you that I chose the latter.
I took the summer to spend time with my family and friends. Doing this allowed me to be totally present when finishing the last few months of my Executive MBA program and not just go through the motions as before. I was able to get to know Melissa. All of these incredible gifts came out of a devastating situation.
So how does all of this play into my transformative experience? This was the path that led me to take notice of Samm Smeltzer’s social media posts regarding burnout, disengagement in the workplace and fear. It felt as if those posts were written just for me. Samm and I have been acquaintances for years, so when I began my job search, I asked to meet her for lunch to catch up and see if she might have any job leads for me. That one split decision has forever changed me. Samm asked if I wanted to join her team. She was healing burnt out professionals by teaching them to balance their energy. Being truly transparent, I wasn’t really sure what Samm and the HRart Center did but I know her words resonated with me and I had even witnessed the results from a few people I know who have worked with her. In August I took a leap of faith and joined the team as an HR Healer Apprentice at the HRart Center.
I was apprehensive about what people would think if they saw a VP of HR transitioned to an Apprentice. Yet even with my fear, I moved forward because something was telling me this was where I needed to be. I started my journey as a hopeful skeptic. If Samm is able to help burnt out professionals thrive again, why wouldn’t I want to at least give it a shot and learn how to do the same?
In the last few months, I have learned more about myself than I have in my 40+ years. I have learned that my emotional health is just as important as my physical health, and in the past, I had prioritized neither of them because I was trying to take care of everyone but myself. I have learned that in order for me to help people, I need to heal myself first.
Samm is teaching me to be a practitioner in the ancient Chinese Medicine modality called Qigong while at the same time using that practice to heal me. Qigong has the power to uncover, purge and heal those patterns that many of us feel stuck with: perfectionism, need for validation, burnout, and so on.
I now know that on my journey I didn’t actually process things. I would just push emotions down and move onto the next thing because there was always too much to do. Those stagnant emotions started to take up space inside of me and started to build this unconscious narrative that was me, both positive and negative. I was never able to be fully present because I allowed my fears and a lack of validation from others to tell me that I wasn’t enough. The more I tried to shape myself into the person they said they wanted, the less value I provided to the organization and my overall performance suffered and continued feeding this negative narrative. I am now healing those falsehoods and discovering how strong I truly am.
This part in my journey has profoundly changed me. I have had so many family, friends and acquaintances comment on the positive change they’ve seen in me. Usually, I would have just brushed it off; however, I truly believe I have changed based on this journey.
Today, I still encounter fear but it is different… I don’t fear if my gifts are good enough or if I’ll be accepted. If anything my journey has shown me that the gifts that I tried to suppress for all those years are the gifts that allow me to live my purpose today. While I get closer and closer to becoming a full-fledged Medical Qigong Practitioner (at which point I’ll be able to offer Qigong Healing Sessions), I’m able to use my gifts to help clients at the HRart Center.
Thank you for reading my story. It’s been such a journey, one that I am grateful for and has allowed me to become the Healer that I am today. If any part of my story resonated with you and you are interested in learning more about the HRart Center, feel free to check out this page and connect with me.