We are delighted to be joined this week by Sarah Thayer of Slow Coach Sarah. This is such a timely interview, given that we are all living in an increasingly uncertain world, where the pace of world events and modern life can seem overwhelming. Based in the UK, Sarah worked in both the corporate and public sectors before training as a counsellor and Transformational Coach. She now helps people discover how to get the life they want, at the pace that suits them.
We think you're going to love hearing Sarah's personal story of how a book changed her life, how she is helping others change theirs, and how she came to do a turn as a stand up comedian.
Here's what we discovered:
Can you tell us what you do and how you came to be doing it?
One Friday lunchtime in 1998, I bought the book ‘How to Find the Work You Love’ by Laurence G. Boldt. After reading it, I sat down and typed my resignation letter, to leave a corporate human resources role so that I could follow my heart and study counselling.
That was over twenty years ago, and whilst I’m no longer counselling, reading that book was the inspiration – and starting point – for the work I do today as a Transformational Coach. My work involves supporting and inspiring both individuals and organisations to make positive changes in their lives and their businesses and to live more authentically, whatever that may look like to them.
If you had one piece of advice or wisdom to pass on to your younger self, what would it be?
The biggest and most important piece of advice would be, trust yourself. Trust and value that deeper, unchanging and innate part of yourself, which has always been and always will be. Even when outer circumstances, people, places or things change, connect with and trust your inner-knowing, because it knows and speaks a truth that cannot be directed by anyone else but you.
As young people, adapting is necessary to survive our early years, which is almost always inevitable. Very few grow up in an environment which perfectly suits their nature and character or meets all of their needs. Yet, perhaps those imperfect surroundings are an essential part of the alchemic journey; the necessary process, wholly required for birthing our ‘real’ selves along life’s journey.
What is it about slow living and the simple life that you find appealing?
In two simple words, slower living just feels better. I also believe it’s a more natural state to be in; much closer to the rhythms of the earth, to nature. Too often, we’re being subtly coerced into doing something, saying something or choosing something, which may not genuinely be of our own choosing, when we’re rushing through life. Conscious choices require a degree of self-awareness, which involves slowing down to reflect.
Giving myself permission to slow down is the lifelong challenge. My curious, reflective and imaginative nature was not always understood, encouraged or welcomed (by others or by me). I’m grateful to have trusted and protected it enough to be able to nourish and appreciate it now, as the inevitable ongoing work continues; undoing the shoulds, oughts and musts from a lifetime of denying one’s nature!
How can we counter the pulls of content-sharing and curating images of our lives with the need for being in the moment?
That’s a very important question. Never before have we had access to so much worldwide information, connection and support via the internet. It’s a wonderful thing. Yet, when we’re living more of life through a screen than living our real life, that’s a worry! A slower, reflective life can really help here and thankfully, more and more people are catching on.
I’m able to notice now when I’m feeling subtly coerced into buying something online or perhaps being tricked to click! Compulsions to check emails, ‘likes’ and comments on social media or read more on-screen, is like gorging on junk food when I’m already full. I ask myself what I’m really needing. So often, I don’t need more. I probably need something else. A hug. A chat with a friend. Maybe real connection with a real person.
Finding a harmonious balance in all areas of life always requires our ongoing attention and vigilance, whatever the distraction. With a slower and more reflective life there is more likelihood of noticing our imbalances than when we’re racing ahead in life at break-neck speed.
Who inspires you?
On a day trip with my family, aged around 10 – probably to Cheddar Gorge or Wookey Hole Caves – I remember buying this lovely poem with pocket money from one of the gift shops. Written in 1908 by Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957), it’s called 'God Knows' (later known as 'The Gate of the Year').
I still have the original and these words guide and inspire me today. I tend not to look to ‘who’ inspires me. God, a higher power or whatever that entity or energy is my dominant inspiration. I’ve learned to look out for and listen to signs and symbols on my path, which sounds kind of mystical, but it really isn’t!
When I’m needing inspiration, support or grappling with a challenge, I ask God/my higher power to send me guidance. Help always appears in many forms! Hunches to go (or not go) somewhere, call someone. A friend or stranger says something which resonates or I hear lyrics from a song, serendipitously playing on the radio. Something unusual from nature may cross my path, plans maybe cancelled or I receive unexpected news and information which directly impacts the situation I’m enquiring about.
Since this intuitive way of living is deeply integrated into my life now, I guess it honours my highly imaginative nature and the deep trust in allowing life to unfold, which I’ve been cultivating throughout many years of inner-work.
What are your essential homeware items/ things you couldn’t do without?
I can honestly say that I don’t really have any essential homeware items or things I couldn’t do without! And of course, as soon as I write that, I think, hmmm… maybe my laptop? It would certainly make writing more difficult, but I’m sure I’d find another way.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
Apart from resigning on the back of reading a book, I’m always finding ways to challenge myself mentally and emotionally (not so much physically!). So, booking myself onto a stand-up comedy training course to overcome my fear of public speaking is pretty high on that list! Six Saturday afternoons to write and perform a five minute, stand-up comedy routine to around 100 people was both terrifying but highly memorable.
Thank you so much for your time, and sharing your thoughts with us, Sarah. What an inspiring read!
Sarah's one-to-one coaching is continuing online and via telephone during the pandemic, and she is still able to offer some face-to-face meetings, depending on location. You can also benefit from Sarah's coaching in person on Saturday 24th October in two three-hour workshops, Finding Peace in Uncertain Times in the beautiful countryside near Bath, Somerset.