You’re an intelligent woman who excelled in school and university.
Growing up, people told you you could have it all in your personal and professional lives. You believed them.
Years after graduation, you're now at a point where you need to make a change.
Right now one or more areas of your life aren't working. You're frustrated because you can't figure out the "right" path forward on your own.
But too many possibilities create the paralyzing pressure to make the right choice.
You don't have to figure out the answers on your own. Let's do it together.
Hi, I'm Kelsey Cleveland.
I've been where you are more than once since graduating from Smith College.
When it happened again in 2015, I realized I'd never taken a course on the most important subject of all — how to design a life that feels good to me. So, I began a self-designed study to find the answer.
That's when I discovered a book that would change my life —The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte.
Now I help intelligent, highly-educated women over 40 who want to be happier in their personal and professional lives. They’re frustrated and confused about how to find the “right” path forward on their own without rules and textbooks. Inspired by The Desire Map, I help them uncover their desires so they can design a life that feels good.
I've experienced three major turning points since college where events forced me to question everything.
Listen to the Waves
On December 26, 2004, I sat on a porch surrounded by a lush, tropical jungle in Langkawi, Malaysia. A glass of tropical juice sweated from my hand to the laptop on my lap.
Instead of relaxing on my vacation, I was working on my master’s thesis to make myself more marketable to non-profits. A monkey, a long-tailed macaque, forced me to interrupt my work and flee inside my bungalow when he tries to join me on the porch.
Later on this “vacation” day, I enjoyed a well-deserved nap on the beach. I was exhausted and physically tense beyond belief from trying to complete a master’s degree while working full time.
Due to the grueling schedule, I was also delaying my dream of starting a family.
As I napped, my husband noticed the water recede. He had experienced earthquakes at our home in Japan and knew the warning signs of a tsunami. He could tell something was wrong. He woke me up and told me we had to get off the beach right now. I went from asleep to running at full speed in seconds.
My husband yelled “tsunami” to warn others as we run. I was too terrified to look behind me. I ran as fast as I could. We just managed to escape the first wave after running from the far end of the beach.
I realized how lucky I was when we learned the scope of the disaster. The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami killed over 220,000 people in a total of 14 countries.
I felt like I had been given a second chance at life. My brush with natural disaster forced me to take a 10,000-foot view of my life. I questioned everything including the ambitious goals I set for myself and my values.
I didn’t yet have an Inner GPS to guide my decisions on how I wanted to live my life. But I knew that after six years of marriage, I didn’t want to wait any longer to have children.
Double the shock
A year later, in December 2005, I am seated across the desk from my obstetrician in her office. She has a concerned look on her face. In my previous visit, my doctor had delivered the shocking news: I was pregnant with identical twins. It had taken me a month to come to terms with this news.
In this visit, my kind doctor explained to me that my twins were no longer alive. I was devastated to learn that I had had a missed miscarriage. I held myself together in the taxi on the way home and began to sob the moment I entered my apartment.
The roller coaster of pregnancy and loss were turning point number two for me.
My relationship with goal setting and life planning continues to evolve.
I had uncovered my deepest desire — to have a baby — along with the realization that my goals and desires were not always in my control. But my response to the event and my next actions were still in my control. I wasn’t ready to let my dream of having a child die.
Two years later, in January 2007, I give birth to a healthy baby boy. A few months, I relocate with my family back to the United States to be closer to our parents after eight years of living abroad in Japan.
If having a child was what I so desperately desired, then why wasn't I happy?
Reverse culture shock, a lack of sleep from being a new parent, and the mind-numbing boredom of caring for an infant all played a role in my unhappiness.
Work was no longer working
Turning point number three was gradual. It started in 2009, when my son was two, and I returned to work full-time as a fundraiser.
Life as a working parent was harder than I had anticipated. I felt conflicted, but I didn’t have clarity on how I wanted to feel in my life.
Over the next six years, I felt more like a “human doing” instead of a human being. I worked long hours. I had a long, unpredictable drive to and from work, often with a sleeping preschooler in the back seat. I felt guilty that I was not spending enough time with my son. I missed important events in his life. I even went to a weekend work event on his fifth birthday. In my role working for schools, I attended school events for other people’s children but missed many of my son’s events.
I poured myself into my work and it took a toll on every other area of my life. I didn’t exercise on a regular basis and weighed more than I should. My muscles, especially in my neck and shoulders, were tied up in knots. I suffered from regular migraines. I hardly took any vacation time. I didn’t make time for my friends.
I was burned out. I wondered if I even wanted to work in non-profits anymore. Something had to change. I realized that I was in the midst of a midlife transition. Feeling betwixt and between, I searched everywhere for a solution.
During my search, I discovered The Desire Map and devoured the book from cover to cover. As I read, I had a major “aha” moment.
I had often felt that the goal-setting process was missing something. What I had been doing was missing feelings and the process was reversed! I realized that many of the goals I set for myself were not making me happy.
I used the process outlined in The Desire Map to help me pivot and find renewed purpose. First, I discovered my core desired feelings, which were how I want to feel most of the time or my preferred states of being.
My core desired feelings are:
- Deep Connection
Then I took a step back to align with my feelings to design a life that feels good. This required a holistic look at all the areas of my life.
The resulting improvements in my life were dramatic.
I left my job and took the time to heal my body and soul. My migraines disappeared. I picked up my tennis racquet after a decade long break from my favorite sport. I joined a team and even won a tournament. Without a diet, I went down three clothing sizes.
I also focused on my relationships. I greeted my son every day after school and spent more time with him. Our relationship grew deeper because when we were together I felt more present. I found a fulfilling volunteer role at my son’s school.
My husband and I went on more dates together and took our first vacation together without our son to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. I got to know my neighbors. I made time for my friends near and far. I visited my family in England, whom I hadn’t seen in over a decade.
A path forward as a Desire Map facilitator
I struggled to figure out what to do next in my career. Then I discovered that I could share the transformative power of The Desire Map with others as a facilitator. I felt especially called to help other women navigate life transitions.
Today, as a Licensed Desire Map Facilitator, I get to help others discover their inner GPS. I offer workshops and coaching to help them tune in to their feelings to design a life that feels good. I have worked with coaching clients in English and in Japanese. This work helps me to feel a deep connection with my clients.
What does this mean for you? Whether in person or online, deep conversations are my introvert superpower. I will listen to you with my ears, eyes, heart and undivided attention.
Are you ready to design a life that feels good?
How can we work together to make the most of this big adventure called life?
Schedule a FREE 30-minute chat to learn how I can work with you. I look forward to meeting you with a wave and a friendly smile online.