The things in my bio are true. I’ve done a bit of school, I’ve published 11 books, I love to write and I love coaching. I spent a year of intensive professional coach training to become accredited by The International Coach Federation. I am a wife to a very special guy, and my most creative role by far is being a mom to two amazing boys.
But none of these things truly tell you about who I am or about my Big Whys: Why I love the work I do; why I am driven to continue on this path; and why I ever even started on this creative journey of listening when my soul speaks.
Origin & Early History
I was born in 1978 in a quaint, charming seaside town in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. I come from a long line of St. Andrews townies on my Dad’s side. My Mom grew up an army brat and spent time stationed at different bases in Canada and throughout Europe. Her family never settled in one place long enough for her to create that feeling of having roots or a sense of belonging.
My Mom’s family ended up stationed in Oromocto, New Brunswick. My Mom attended university and did what most students there did during summer break: She went to St. Andrews to find summer employment. St. Andrews was and still is a very popular tourist destination and my mom worked during the summers at The Algonquin Hotel. As fate would have it, my parents met in this magical town of St.Andrews
One thing turned into another and my parents were married and started their journey together. My mom finally felt like she belonged and could plant roots. My brother was born in 1976 and my mom took great joy in being a stay-at-home mom. My dad worked as a tradesman and in his spare time built our family home. He did much of the work himself. He was quite a creative, innovative man.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to learn firsthand the essence of who my father really was because his life was cut very short. He died very suddenly and tragically at 25 years old, when my brother was two-and-a-half and I was just six months old. This left my young mom to pick up the pieces and figure out how she was going to take on the much different role of raising two small children on her own. My mom, being the strong, resilient woman she is, found her way through and we ended up staying in St. Andrews for another four years.
It wasn’t easy and my mom struggled to decide whether she should move us from the place where we had such strong roots and ties. However, she trusted and listened to her inner voice, which urged her to move closer to her parents. At that point, my grandfather had retired from the army and my grandparents had settled on Vancouver Island—on the West Coast of Canada—where he spent the rest of his career working as a prison guard. My mom made the very brave decision to honour her inner voice, packed us up and moved us out west, where we ended up living a few doors down from my grandparents. That is where I grew up.
I had a happy childhood. I was lucky to grow up in an era where children had the freedom to be children. We lived in a neighborhood with lots of kids of all ages. We built forts, rode bikes, explored and learned from each other. I loved to run as a child and my brother and I would often set up races on our street. There wasn’t a lot of direct adult supervision, like there is nowadays with raising children. I’m nostalgic for this way of life—back then we could really stretch our legs and just be free.
I didn’t realize at the time how it must have been a real struggle for my mom to raise us on her own, make a living, and play the role of mom and dad. We lived in a duplex in a great neighborhood, but compared to others around us, we didn’t have any of the luxuries and extras that most of my friends from affluent families had. I remember having this feeling of not quite measuring up when I was out in these wealthier circles. But my mom had this amazing strength of character that made me believe I wasn’t limited in any way: I could be or do anything in this life, as far as she was concerned. Because not measuring up or feeling less than wasn’t an issue she would entertain or ever give life to.
I know that part of her resilient spirit rubbed off on me. I have always had this voice deep within me reminding me that I can reach whatever stars I set my sights on. Outer circumstances aren’t what bring things to life, the voice says. Life comes from within.
As an adult I’ve made a commitment to honour and nurture my strong inner voice. However, there have been hard—even dark—times in my life journey where it’s felt like this voice has been buried. I found my teenage years to be a struggle. I didn’t make great choices or honour that voice inside of me very often. I always remember feeling like I wanted to move away and be somewhere so I could just have quiet and get to be me without all of the influence and pressures I was constantly up against.
Making Space and Eventual Transition
It wasn’t until I was 17—and I moved to a tranquil part of Vancouver Island to live with my aunt and uncle—that I discovered this space. In helping my aunt and uncle run their fishing resort and working as a live-in nanny for my younger cousins, I discovered a sense of purpose and responsibility. I loved the tourist industry—it was exciting to meet many different people from all around the world! And with each new encounter, I felt a growing urge to get out there and see new parts of the world. Even better, I embraced the industriousness of my aunt and uncle—successful entrepreneurs who also worked in logging—and discovered the rules and structure and sense of direction that I had been craving. Soon, I’d saved up enough money to take care of my responsibilities and to travel to Australia, which fed my adventurous spirit and deepened my desire to see more of the world.
I returned to my aunt and uncle’s to work and I took some courses at a small community college to get prepared to go to a bigger university. It was during this period I met a nice young man in the small town where I was working and going to school. Over a few years, one thing led to another and we decided to get married. We were so young and it seemed like the next thing to do, but even then I knew it didn’t feel like the right thing to do. The marriage was short lived—a year-and-a-week short, in fact. During this period in my life, I felt so stuck and paralyzed. I didn’t feel like myself. I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore. I lost that feeling of being adventurous and being thirsty to explore and to learn about new things. I had turned my back on everything that made me feel excited and alive. I rarely ever heard that strong inner voice. It’s clear now that I was afraid of discovering who I could possibly be. I didn’t believe in myself enough to take any steps towards unsticking myself. It was a hard period of time where I felt unsure about most things. I don’t think I ever would have had the courage to leave the relationship that didn’t feel like a fit, or give voice to what I was feeling inside. As fate would have it, I didn’t have to make that decision because the young fellow had the courage to speak up and end what wasn’t right.
After my divorce, I felt this sense of being able to finally have the space to find myself, though I was also afraid of what I would find. My divorce was the start of a new path but it came with some private struggle. On the outside everything appeared to be going well in my life, better than well.
I was finishing my university degree and working full time and enjoying travel and fun with friends. I had met a man who was a natural fit and he brought excitement and hope to my life in a way I had not experienced before. His drive, structure and thirst for success and adventure was exactly what I needed to inspire me to push things into high gear. With him, I wanted to be the best version of myself and to really succeed. I finished university while I was working and we had lots of fun adventures together.
New doors of possibility were opening for me and I felt excited about the future and all of the things that seemed to be opening to me. We made plans together and when it felt right, we got married.
Despite all this really great stuff happening in my life, I was still struggling inside. I had gotten really good at people pleasing and making everything around me match the expectations others had for me. I was missing a huge piece of what I was really longing for but going about it in all the wrongs ways. I wanted to have that sense of love and belonging, but I reached outside of myself to get it. Not only that, I allowed my inner critic to rule my thoughts and inner voice. Privately, I was really hard on myself and I was quite disconnected.
Becoming a mom is what finally gave me the courage to face the demons that squashed my inner spirit and had me turning my back on myself.
The Gift of Motherhood
As a first-time Mom, I did what lots of others do: I nested and prepared for something I could never possibly prepare for. Even so, I was excited and had everything in place to welcome our son and embark on this new journey that we knew nothing about. We were ready to have a family and felt blessed that it was about to become a reality. Lots of my friends were having kids around the same time, and so I would hear birth stories, but I never gave it much thought that things would be anything but straightforward.
My son was a week overdue and I finally went into labour and things were progressing and seemed normal. They very quickly took a turn. My son’s heartrate was falling rapidly. He wasn’t tolerating labour very well. Equipment started beeping and the room was flooded with nurses and doctors, who quickly decided I needed to get to the operating room right away to have a cesarean section. It all felt like a blur, but I remember thinking Wait a minute this isn’t how it is supposed to be. I was scared and panicked–it felt as if time were standing still. I am not sure if it was the drugs they were pumping me full of to calm my terrified heart, but it almost felt like I was observing the whole situation, not in it. I just remember hoping with every part of my being that everything would be okay and that everyone would be healthy and we would pass through this storm all together.
Seeing my son’s bright eyes through the fog of chaos and hearing his first cries made me feel like everything was right in the world. Although it was the scariest night of my life, it was the one that opened the gateway to experience life in a new way. Our beautiful baby was alive and only had to have a short stay in the NICU. I was, and still am, overcome with gratitude that my son was healthy and that we had escaped an unthinkable tragedy so many people sadly have to face.
Bringing our beautiful baby home was such a gift. The feeling of completely falling in love with this tiny human in such a deep way made my heart nearly burst with joy. Looking into his bright, wise eyes was my turning point.
I knew I wanted this precious being to always know—to really know deep inside of himself—how incredible he is as he is. I didn’t want him to waste time like I did being needlessly hard on myself, not honouring my worth as a human being.
I realized I could potentially pass along my patterns and past hurts if I didn’t finally face some of the demons and self-defeating ways I’d developed over the years. It was time, I had to do it for him.
Becoming a mom is what gave me the courage to journey down a new path of honouring myself and my inner spirit. Of healing past wounds, and seeing the light of who I am. Of accepting all parts of who I am, not just the shiny bits, but all of my bits, and of finally putting healthy boundaries in place to stop giving all of my light and personal power away.
Finding My Way Back to My Inner Wisdom & Voice
Finding my way back to that strong inner voice didn’t happen overnight—far from it. This has been a journey, a daily one. Honouring my worth and loving who I am, is a practice I use to start each day.
I’ve learned this practice is not about perfection, it’s about surrendering to whatever is before me and not attaching my worth to any of it. It’s about never losing sight of who I am. Sure I make mistakes and I still can wonder just what was I thinking, but I strive to ignore those critical inner voices inviting me to be hard on myself.
It has been a step by step process of adopting joyful habits, of developing a strong self-awareness practice and of knowing where to go for support when I need it.
The work that I do through writing, coaching and speaking keeps me on track. It feeds my soul and continually encourages me to step outside of my comfort zone, to challenge my thinking and to grow in new ways. I’m passionate about what I do—and not only because it helps me in my life. I know firsthand what it feels like to be stuck, to feel like you can’t honour that inner voice, to feel like you must put self-care last.
But I’ve also been blessed to see and feel what it looks like on the other side, to have a strong inner bond and to trust and see yourself for the amazing human you are. I am passionate about this message and hope to share it in as many ways as I can so that others who may be feeling the same way will see that they aren’t alone and that there is a brighter way—a way that starts from within by first honouring the spirit and truth of who you are.
That’s my Why. I hope you will find something on this site that will inspire you along your unique journey. Thank you for coming by.
– Emily Madill