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Wake Up Calls — Surviving and Thriving After Burnout…

As a person who never found that so-called “work-life balance” until I had a major injury that forced me to reconsider my lifestyle choices: I am REALLY pleasantly enjoying my new schedule since retiring from my “struggling artist’s” life.

Ten hours a week of doing the work I KNOW I’m meant to do in the world, I’m making the same amount of money I was doing 50+ hours of work of the world I felt I HAD to do in the world. Funny how the universe just fills you up like that when you’re in alignment with your vision.

Didn’t really feel like I had any options in the 50+ hour work week Nicole. I was on a train, moving down the track, pretty fast, and I couldn’t get off.

This is a photo of me collapsed from exhaustion after performing and travelling with two different companies, for over three weeks straight.

Can you relate to being stuck in a job, seeking praise and success, all because it’s the only thing you’ve ever known? This is where burnout begins to set in.

I used to have so much anxiety around going to parties or catching up with friends, because I felt no one could relate to my dogged perseverance pursuing of “the artist’s dream” and would just dismiss my situation and struggles. No one could understand why I was running myself ragged, especially if, I wasn’t very happy doing it.

I guess I didn’t even feel I had time to weigh the pros and cons of my situation myself. For me now, I feel a little cynical remembering that time and thinking, “How could I not see that I was slowly killing myself?” But I know now, that’s exactly what I was doing.

Hi, I’m Nicole Smith. And this is my first blog post. I’m a former over-achiever who was addicted to people-pleasing, pushing my body to (more like past) its limits, and struggling to make ends meet every month. Yes, an addiction “is the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences.” So being obsessed with success/achievement in your career is an addiction, despite the adverse consequences.

There is that “simple life” that people write about in magazines, maybe magazines called “Living Simply” or something. Yes, we are a country of over-consumers and we don’t NEED all that we have. I still don’t think I need very much to survive, and I think I’ll always carry around that sensibility.

BUT what I do know now, after almost a decade of DEPRIVING myself of good healthy food (because of its cost), balance of play with work (because of my insanely busy schedule), and down time/rest (because who can afford that when you can only make ends meet?), is not living “the simple life” or “Living Simply.”

It’s actually called struggle. For me, I’d even say an addiction to it, and the beginning of inevitable burnout. And it toxified all of me… my thoughts, my feelings, my relationships, and lastly, my body. I needed the rush of running and pushing harder to keep me feeling “alive.”

How can a spry 30 year old have several herniated discs and be retired from her career in dance after pursuing it her entire life with perseverance, multiple modalities of self care, and intense enthusiasm? I’m the living proof. There was something more there that I wasn’t listening to…

“Work-life balance” is a term used in the corporate world that begins to tap into the underlying point of the work I’m focused on these days: healing and helping people reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and begin living out their visions…


Whoa. Bold statement? Yes probably. I’m an Aries and Capricorn Rising, so get used to it!

But Nicole, you just said above that you were pursuing “the dream” with dance, I’m confused. Yes, you are correct… “the,” not “my,” being the operative word.

What I was really pursuing was success in a field I had been in my entire life, and let’s face, who doesn’t like to dance? And who doesn’t like receiving praise for their talents? And who wouldn’t like getting paid anything (even if it’s $12 an hour by one of the biggest dance companies in NYC) to work out, sweat, and dance around with your friends?

Like is different than love, and love is different than PASSIONATE PURPOSEFUL LOVING ALIGNMENT OF YOUR LIFE IN ALL OF ITS PARTS.

And I know from most of the people I had the honor of performing with through the years, dance WAS all of that to them. Not me though — I was always struggling to make sense of my existance in the field.

So more than pursuing “my dream,” I was pushing “the dream” and inevitably, lost in a way. I wanted to prove to all the nay-sayers that I could “make it” dancing (EGO ALERT). Well, I achieved “success” on paper: worked for the greatest MacArthur Geniuses in our field, performed all over the world in huge venues like Lincoln Center, Jacob’s Pillow, the Kennedy Center, and the Cannes Dance Festival, AND… I also REALLY hurt myself doing it.

Was performing dance the thing that provided me the highest joy and the thing that I heard whispered about in my mind in quiet moments? No. Though that may come as a surprise because it was all I ever was doing and talking about! And hence why I was always at odds with myself. In the end, that was abundantly clear…

What I know my unique gift to the world is…

I’m supposed to help and heal people through mind/body awareness, somatic psychology, and movement.

This is how I overcame A LOT of darkness to find the light myself (more on that in another post, but let’s just say I wasn’t the happiest teenager/young adult) — these topics are what I read the most books about, what I have the most conversations about, and how I feel most natural observing, analyzing, and giving advice in.

What is that for you? What does your heart pull you towards when you are seeking a boost of happiness, love, or joy? How are you of greatest service?

The act of performing dance was not my Mecca… though, the journey from darkness to light, my evolution of awareness, towards that “dream” got me exactly where I needed to be to be able to help and heal others… Nothing is ever “done in vain”. Have no regrets…





So you may be reading this going, yes I totally get you, my story is similar — HELP! Or maybe you’re saying, but I DO feel like I’m in alignment with my dream AND I’m also struggling. Maybe not financially, but in your relationships, with your coworkers, your health, or your happiness… It’s all… totally… OK. Why?

In all the above mentioned scenarios, it means is it’s time to go deeper!!! It’s time to honor your discontent and begin an introspective process into why it is you were put on this earth? What is your purpose here and what does that look like? Every day is a new opportunity for growth, every day is an opportunity for a new beginning. Every day you can find deeper meaning and clarity in your life.

Turn your biggest struggles into your greatest forklifts to happiness, joy, health, spiritual success, and abundance… My new website with updated testimonials from work with clients who have created AMAZING results over the past year, as well as some snazzy photos, and TONS of free gifts will launch MARCH 20TH! Right now, my old one is still up.

Also, stay tuned for a free teleclass on the evening of April 6th: “Not in his goals, but in his transitions is man great.” 



Is Your Vision Right For You?


Thank you if you made it this far… This was not easy to write!

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