I thought I was doing life the way “I was supposed to.”
I studied hard and got good grades. I went to the best Ivy League schools and earned fancy degrees. I worked hard, regularly pulled all-nighters, and took on pro bono projects for worthy non-profit organizations. I played hard, too: I ran nine marathons and raised money for charities.
To the outside observer, I was a hard-working, accomplished, creative and generous super achiever. And I was all that. But inside, I was struggling, angsty and unhappy.
I was $100,000 in debt and felt like a fraud. My body hurt from all the overtraining, my head hurt from all the overthinking, and my heart hurt from all the overgiving. My self-esteem was in the toilet. I was depressed and scared.
How had I fallen through the cracks? How was I going to get out of the hole I had dug for myself? I was a good person doing good in the world, but somehow, I was completely depleted and burned out. I thought that (lack of) money was the problem so I focussed on how to fix the money problem.
My analytical mind did what analytical minds are so good at: I wracked my brains until I came up with what seemed like a brilliant solution at the time: I decided that if I became a real doctor, if I finally got a real job, then I’d finally earn a real paycheck and finally get some real respect. I’d finally be worthy. I’d finally have money. I’d finally be doing something that mattered.
I was so sure that going to medical school was the answer, that I didn’t notice the “rational lies” my mind was telling me.
I already was a doctor — I had a PhD from Princeton in Comparative Literature — but I’d convinced myself that being a doctor of philosophy was insignificant.
I already had a real job, and a pretty cool one at that — I was a documentary filmmaker who travelled around the world making movies about the environment and health. I loved my work, and my films won a lot of awards and were seen by millions of people. But I invalidated the humanitarian work I was doing because I was still struggling financially.
I kept asking myself, “What is wrong with me?”
The quality of the questions we ask determine the experience we receive. Since I kept asking what was wrong with me, my brain did as I requested and went looking for proof… and I came up with lots of reasonable-sounding answers, such as: you need another degree, you need a real job, you need to make more money, you need to be more respected.
So, I started down the path that I thought would lead to my freedom: medical school. I immersed myself in anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, psychology, neuroscience, environmental health and statistics.
I worked in the anatomy lab for two years and got intimate with every nerve, muscle, cell type, organ and bone the body.
Two years into this medical school journey, “stuff happened” that turned my world upside down.
First, a massive flood destroyed a third of our house. My office had to be gutted.
A few weeks later, my dad dropped dead of a heart attack.
The next day, it was my job to go into the anatomy lab and remove the heart from the cadaver to prepare it for the students.
This is how I discovered the path of true wealth — which is the path of the heart.
Holding a heart in my hands showed me how blind I had been to the wisdom and rhythm of the body.
I realized I had been running my business backwards.
I had been working, working, working, and never stopping. I had been focussed on giving without ever pausing to receive. I had gotten used to living in lack and contraction, without realizing that abundance and expansion are part of the cycle, too. I had been disrespecting my self, my body’s rhythms and my innate wisdom.
Nature is not productive 24/7, but somehow I had missed this key truth as a business owner. I thought I was supposed to be “on” all the time, and if I wasn’t producing, I was being lazy, or bad, or stupid.
The heart told a different story. It rests after every beat. It rests in order to fill up again. Its life force depends on rest.
I had completely missed this deeper Truth.
When I applied this wisdom of the heart to my business — that rest is necessary for life — my income skyrocketed. Rest, not more work, was the prescription.
I saw how I had been living my life in deliberate ignorance of the reliable and sustainable rhythms of Nature.
In that moment of holding the heart in my hands, I discovered what it truly means to live a heart-centered life and run a heart-centered business.
The heart teaches us that life is a dance of expansion and contraction, giving and receiving, working and resting, filling and emptying. Our very survival depends on pressure building up and pressure being released.
The heart sets its own rhythm. I discovered my rhythm that was uniquely mine and I began to honor it.
The heart is both muscle and nerve, drummer and drum, fire and water. The heart gives and receives. It works and it recovers. It is powerful and vulnerable.
The heart does not do the work of the liver or the brain or the kidneys or the eyeballs. The heart is a team player and it depends on its teammates to do their job so that it can do its job. The heart teaches us that we are a vital part of something bigger and our contribution matters.
Holding a heart in my hands, I felt the heaviness of my own heart and I saw in an instant that the way out of my sadness, self-animosity and scarcity mindset was through my own heart. I realized that the validation, the respect, and the wealth I was seeking was an inside job. I applied everything I had learned about the mind, the body, the nervous system and the breath and I systematically rewired my BEing for good.
My messy life suddenly made sense. Just as the body relies on the organs to contribute to the totality of the organism, I have created a business that integrates the various threads of my life: filmmaking, ancient wisdom and modern science are complementary tools for telling the same story. The language may be different but the underlying message is the same.
Access your heart and you are home free.
I AM a seeker. I AM a student. I AM a teacher. I AM a lifelong learner. I AM spirit being human.
I AM a storyteller. I AM an artist. I AM a writer. I AM a geek. I AM a goddess. I AM a gardener. I AM a chef. I AM an introvert. I AM an adventurer. I AM an explorer. I AM multidimensional. I AM curious. I AM open. I AM willing.
I AM the Creator of my experience. I AM.
My unique way of coaching integrates mind and body, logic and magic, information and intuition, ancient wisdom and cutting edge neuroscience. I facilitate deep inner transformation that results in ease, abundance and energy so there’s more of YOU available for YOU to create and live the life of your dreams.
I can help you release your habitual fears and frustrations so that you have access to your original, brilliant, creative Self. You’ll learn to identify and shift subconscious limitations and conditions so that you re-connect to the essential you in YOU. Once you start living authentically and confidently as your real Self, your purpose, mission, vision and passion become clear. Self-sabotage stops. Painful patterns resolve. Satisfaction, prosperity and contentment become your new normal.
Clarity leads to confidence. Confidence leads to consistency. Consistency leads to creativity. Creativity leads to freedom.
Being a visual storyteller is a gift that lets me witness the full spectrum of what it is to be alive, from incredible beauty to heartbreaking loss. Filmmaking has taught me about the power of perspective, deep listening, and the narrative arc of the stories we tell about ourselves and others.
As a filmmaker, I’ve learned to dance with light and dark, sound and silence, positive and negative, and to weave these elements into coherent, congruent narratives we call movies. Now I’m bringing the powerful language and tools of filmmaking into my coaching work. You’ll learn to visualize, change lenses, edit, apply filters, rewind, fast forward, color correct, mute the audio, change the score, lower the opacity, increase the saturation, and think in pictures so that you focus on what you want to see, be, do, feel and have.
You’re the writer, producer, director, wardrobe consultant and lighting designer of the movie that is your life.
I’ve been practicing yoga and meditation since 1994. It’s the most powerful forklift I know for cultivating self-awareness, self-compassion and self-love. This ancient technology has been pivotal to my transformational and it’s a foundational pillar of my business. The interplay of mind, body and breath reveals your strengths and your weaknesses, how you walk with the masculine and the feminine, and how you allow life to flow through you (and how you block it).
My daily yoga and meditation practice has helped me transform depression into devotion, confusion into confidence, despair into discipline and fear into freedom. Deep bow to this profound wisdom that taught me to travel light, live light, spread the light and be the light. I discovered the mind-body-money connection on my yoga mat. It’s my mission to share these prosperity teachings with as many people as possible.
“Within us lives the most calm, serene lake of wisdom, the most beautiful, powerful pond of kindness, compassion and clarity. Let us understand and let us dive into it within ourselves.” ~Yogi Bhajan
I love cooking because it’s creative, collaborative and communal. My brain loves the textures, tastes, aromas and colors of food. My body knows how to break food down into its constituent parts, digest what’s useful and eliminate the rest. I love the communal aspect of breaking bread with friends and family. Cooking satisfies my inner scientist and my inner artist, it’s creative and it’s social. It also turns on my inner geek who sees cooking as a metaphor for mindset.
Your thoughts and your mindset are the food you serve your soul. Are you feeding yourself a diet that’s life-affirming and vitality-enhancing? Are you consuming ideas of lack and limitation that give you indigestion and zap your energy? Thoughts, like food, create chemical changes in your brain and gut, and that chemistry affects your immune system, your cardiovascular system, your digestive system, and your emotions.
I’m interested in how we can metabolize our thoughts and emotions for optimal health and wealth. You are what you eat. You are what you think.
Water the fruit trees and don’t water the thorns. ~Rumi
UNTIL I MET DEBORAH, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about what was keeping me from dramatically increasing my income. While doing the work and getting coaching in her Anatomy of Money class, I discovered that I believe my money comes from other people AND I have to put up with their shenanigans so I can be okay financially.
After working with her in a private group, the fog has lifted! She worked her magic on my brain’s molecules and my spirit and showed me how to work my own magic, too. Literally, the week after our coaching session, I made $12K. In.One.Week. It was super easy. My mindset abut money has shifted 180 degrees thanks to Deborah’s transformational way of coaching.
MAGGY STERNER, BRAND & BUSINESS COACH