“I spent so many years avoiding my authentic self because I feared the consequences of coming out would outweigh the benefits. I was wrong. Learning to live in the fullness of who I am as a gay woman, a Christian mystic, an avid adventurer, a creative, and a free spirit has been so integral to my healing and wholeness.”
My name is Sarah and I am a Life and Empowerment Coach based out of Denver, Colorado. I moved to the mountains four years ago in pursuit of authenticity, adventure, connection, and direction. In that time span, I fell in love and experienced heartbreak for the first time, came out to her friends and family, reconciled my faith and sexuality, fell in love with my best friend, and experienced a whole lot of healing and personal growth in the process. When I’m not rock climbing or adventuring in the Rockies, you can find me busy with the launch of my company, Kaleido Coaching. I partner with individuals experiencing compassion fatigue to navigate balance, boundaries, and burnout. I’m passionate about connecting on a deep and authentic level with those in the midst discovering their own unfolding stories. If you are in Denver, feel free to hit me up for a cup of coffee!
1. Where are you from and where do you live now?
I grew up in Wheaton, IL – arguably the evangelical capital of America. From there, I moved onto the outskirts of Nashville and was immersed in laid back, country living – which was a shock to my suburban roots. Fast forward almost 10 years, and I am happily living in Denver, CO. I found my fit – city living with a big emphasis on playing hard in the mountains beyond.
2. Tell me a little bit about what you spend most of your days doing.
Right now, my time is split between building up my coaching business and working at an outdoor co-op and helping people get outside to play in the sunshine. Most of my free moments are spent with people I love – either adventuring in the mountains, getting deep over coffee, hitting up local parks, or relaxing with a good book or the latest Netflix binge.
I really love people and ultimately, whether I’m coaching a client or spending time connecting with a friend, I want others to know how important and unique and valued and loved they are. So hopefully that love comes through whether I’m fitting someone for a pack, sitting across from a tearful friend to offer a listening ear and some encouragement, or helping a client discover his/her/their deepest dreams and desires and figuring out how to live those out.
3. Give us a little insight into your backstory…
Growing up in Wheaton kind of felt like a perpetual church experience, in ways. I grew up believing everyone was a Christian and that non-believers had an empty existence and they were just longing for someone to tell them about Jesus. I remember singing to one of my neighbor friends, once, about how God loved him and then trying to lead a Bible study right there in my plastic lawn chair on the furthest corner of my yard. He looked at me funny (as he should have) – perhaps not fully understanding how my young Rodgers and Hammerstein obsession fueled the idea that life could flow seamlessly in song and of course, I expected a conversion experience right then and there, because my Bible had colorful and exciting pages, after all.
Lawn chair piety aside, I really, deeply believed that Jesus loved everyone and was the very best thing that could happen to a person. My parents got divorced when I was 8, so my belief in and love for God was the anchor not only for my faith, but also for my survival. I took great comfort in believing that Someone was with me at all times and saw every ache and pain that I didn’t share with anyone else. I talked to God a lot as a kid like he was in the room with me and I genuinely believe that those experiences of “just me and Jesus” cemented my faith for good even in the turbulent coming out years when others in my faith tradition told me my sexuality was incompatible with my faith.
My parents were both (and are still) wonderful people who fueled my restless sense of adventure, limitless creativity, and understanding that there was a world outside the one I knew – different cultures across the ocean that longed to be explored. I feel incredibly grateful that I had such early exposure to the possibility and wonder of international travel and cultural exchanges. My worldview was constructed with a rather large boundary, in my reflective opinion, and adventure was tucked into every activity, experience, and dream. While the divorce and its aftermath were hard, I felt like I had wings and open skies as a kid.
As I grew older, I really struggled with feeling “different.” I was too tomboyish or too much of a Yankee in the South, or too loud or too intense or too inquisitive or too sheltered. I had a lot of trouble finding my place and finding my voice, which is ironic, because I had no trouble speaking. I just couldn’t find myself underneath the weight of who I felt I was supposed to be. Being vocal about my same-sex attraction (which I began to wage war about internally around age 12 and kept up that internal war for the next decade) was totally not an option. So I threw myself into church and volunteerism and missions and leadership roles and worship leading and after a while, the internal warfare was diminished in its volume because I had created so much noise in the distraction of living for other people.
4. What is your religious background?
5. On a scale of 1 – 5 how supportive was your family when you came out?
6. What is one accomplishment in your life that you’re proud of that most people might not know of?
While this is not a tangible or measurable accomplishment, I’ve spent several years creating space for dozens of people to share their stories, free from judgement or scorn, and I believe those private conversations over the phone or in my inbox or over coffee have impacted many lives for good. It makes my heart happy because ultimately, I just want people to know they matter so much and that we are not our stories – no matter how hard or how good the chapters have been. If I can keep doing that for the rest of my life, then I’ll know true fulfillment.
7. Why do you feel that the simple message of the Promote Love Movement is important?
I think this message is so important to me because for most of my life, I promoted striving, proving myself, knowing all the right answers, and “doing” as much as I can. Over the past few years, I’ve realized love is so much more about the being than the doing. Sure, our love is also backed by our actions – how we show up, how we serve, how we demonstrate our deep care for people. But it all flows out of a state of being – knowing we are beings of infinite love, knowing that we were birthed out of Love, and believing that the overflow of that knowledge it an outpouring of being love to others.
I’ve learned that showing up and sitting with someone and letting them just be their most authentic self in our presence is one of the most loving things we could ever do. I’ve learned that merely listening to someone’s story, mirroring their tears, and sometimes wrapping them up in the safety of our arms are some of the most significant ways we can practice being Love. I love this movement because it encourages people to really see, seek to understand, and truly love other people with a genuine and curious kind of love.
8. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone if you knew that today was going to be your last day to live?
Love fiercely and freely and be all that you are with every breath that you take and breathe back into this wild and wonderful world.
Striving our lives away for the approval of others just isn’t worth it. We are each so uniquely and divinely breathed into existence, and to marvel at that miracle in ourselves and in others by loving with all that we are is the most wonderful gift and opportunity that we have.
Practice forgiveness often – the bitterness our unforgiveness creates will destroy us before it ever affects anyone else.
Love yourself as much, if not more, than those you pour out your life for. You are so worth it.
Don’t be afraid of the pain life brings – the pain is how we grow. It is how we become our truest selves. It is only in walking through it that we find our way to peace within. And when we are at peace inside ourselves, we can be at peace with anyone in the world.
9. Why do you think it is important to be your authentic self?
Freedom. It’s really that simple. I spent so many years avoiding my authentic self because I feared the consequences of coming out would outweigh the benefits. I was wrong. Learning to live in the fullness of who I am as a gay woman, a Christian mystic, an avid adventurer, a creative, and a free spirit has been so integral to my healing and wholeness. I love Jesus so much more than I did before because now I realize he was a misfit too and the religious people didn’t want him or understand him. That revelation has revolutionized my self-perception as well as my perception of God and others.
I believe we are all so much better as a collective whole when we are comprised of individuals who know and love and share their authentic selves with their circles of influence. We are enough as we are. And living into that truth can bring so much freedom and fullness to lives we didn’t even realize were so vastly lacking before.
10. How do you feel like growing up in church played a part in shaping who you are?
Honestly? For all the hell I’ve experienced from churches over the past several years, I’m still really glad I grew up in church. It taught me the power of community gathered around a belief/cause and that when we really love people and are willing to let our lives and our resources bleed into the lives and needs of others, astonishing things can happen. I’ve seen this done in some churches really well, but I’ve also seen a variety of non-religious communities embody this power in beautiful ways.
I’m also crazy about Jesus, even still. Who knew that flannel boards and soccer camps and elementary school discipleship trainings would plant the seeds for a resilient life-long faith?
My ideas on church have certainly changed. In addition to my heretical beliefs of late, I believe the Church is meant to be the actual manifestation of Jesus today. That means people of faith can be pretty darn powerful in impacting change and breathing healing and hope into broken places, when they want to be. It also means that we aren’t broken people with no power, but empowered people with no limitations.
So yeah, I’ve definitely shed childhood ideologies that I feel are detrimental and contradictory to the radical Love Jesus modeled, and my relationship with the Church is super different than it used to be, but I am grateful that my roots trace back to church pews and worship music and doing life with other people on an intimate level.
11. Do you still attend church/religious gatherings?
I don’t go to church regularly anymore, but mostly because I don’t like to live out a faith of obligation anymore. I attend every now and then, though, and I’m a sucker for acoustic worship nights. I’m all about conferences such as GCN (Gay Christian Network) and TRP (The Reformation Project). The people I’ve met through those experiences have become my church community, in ways.