Sarah Davies De Paola’s childhood dream of becoming an energy healer dissipated when she moved to Zurich to live with her husband. She ended up working in finance for a decade but has now quit to embark on a more spiritual career path, alongside running her own business…
Sarah Davies De Paola lives in Zurich with her husband Massimo and their two children – four-year-old Jackson and two-year-old Ellie.
I remember being in pre-primary, standing in the playground, grinding up small limestone rocks and knowing really clearly that I wanted to work in natural medicine and as an energy healer. As life would have it, I ended up working at the complete opposite end of the career spectrum to alternative healing.
After meeting my Swiss-Italian husband I moved from Australia to Zurich, where the English-speaking jobs were all in finance. I’ve now spent more than a decade working as a senior communications expert for large financial institutions in Zurich, with an induction by fire in 2007 as the global financial crisis erupted.
There were hard times and there were good times. In retrospect, I see how much I learnt from the hard-times. My most valuable lesson was becoming crystal clear about who I did not want to become: I don’t want to be driven or defined by money. Financial sector salaries are very enticing, but the drawcard for me was seeing “my” topics high on the agenda at political and industry meetings.
My roles focused on strategic and thought leadership topics, and the thrill of helping push for positive change is quite addictive. I also learnt to be less judgemental. It would be easy to roll out the “I never thought I would work in finance card” and, while that’s true, I came to genuinely love my work and worked with many amazing people.
But, I still used to beat myself up for having a day job so far removed from my childhood dream. This feeling became stronger with motherhood – how hypocritical to expect my children to follow their dreams when I hadn’t followed mine.
And sadly, a few months after our first child was born, two people I knew committed suicide within weeks of each other, in completely unrelated circumstances. The words of one of their mothers plays over and over in my ears: while I can’t remember her exact sentence in German, the translation was very clearly “take care of your life”.
About 18 months ago, I got an amazing coach. She pointed out all the ways my corporate career had served the natural therapist in me. I realised that, when the time came to launch my own practice, I knew how to do business, think very strategically and thrive under pressure. She also pointed out the value of being able to bridge the corporate and more esoteric worlds. Owning that I feel at home in both of them has been very liberating. It’s not “either – or” anymore. The relief this provides is huge. I’m no longer searching for what’s the “real” me, but just being me.
I’ve tried out dozens of alternative therapies and healing techniques. Now I see I was searching to find myself in one of them. I also see that part of my personal journey was to stop looking externally for answers. I finally stopped waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder and politely inform me that I have not only permission but also validation to work as a healer.
Of course, as soon as I gave myself this permission, I suddenly saw a whole range of women working across various fields that remind me of me. By chance – aka late-night googling – I also found a form of energy healing that is remarkably similar to what I did intuitively as a child. A pranic energy healer works to support the self-healing abilities of their client, by bringing balance to the client’s energy field and chakras. While I’ve trained in energy healing techniques before, this is the technique that resonates with me the most.
A little over two years ago our daughter was born. I found myself, shockingly and unexpectedly, having to say things like “yes, she is a girl, and she can also do and be whatever she wants”. I was not prepared for the “be gentle with her, she is a girl” comments in the playground. Nor the congratulatory “oh, how nice you are helping Mum do the shopping” chatter at the supermarket. My first child is a boy and no-one ever made such chit-chat regarding his physicality, potential vulnerability or willingness to help with household chores. I am a staunch advocate for equality and hearing my son tell his sister “you can’t play with this, it’s only for boys” hit home hard – I realised I need to actively create a world in which they are exposed to a variety of lifestyles and people who follow their dreams.
Mid last year we had a sudden change in our childcare arrangements and I needed to stop working and stay home with our kids. I tend to throw myself into my work, so leaving my corporate job opened up the mental space to begin building a business. I want to highlight here that leaving a corporate job did not translate into having lots of time and flexibility – I used to joke that my office days were my “holidays”, so I’m definitely of the belief that taking care of children is a lot more demanding than working in an office. Instead, those out-of-office hours I used to spend thinking about how to manage campaigns or editing publications, these are hours I can now dedicate to my own projects.
I’ve stopped pressuring myself to choose one path. My freelance communications business allows me to continue the corporate work I love – helping people to define what they want to say and how they want to say it. And, with Grace Healing Collective, I’m essentially building a business I would love to be a client of. It merges pranic energy healing, co-active coaching and soon also breathwork therapy. Somehow, all of the seemingly random things I’ve done in the last two decades have finally come together.
I firmly believe we all heal in different ways at different times – and that healing should be part of our everyday lives. It would be amazing to find a location to bring this all together – a practice room and an office, together with a shop space, a small café and an area for workshops and community events. But, one step at a time. I’m learning not to force or rush things. There’s this great quote doing the rounds on Instagram: “Don’t be surprised how quickly the universe will move with you once you have decided”. It seems there’s a lot of truth in this – that the hardest part is actually embracing yourself and the rest somehow seems to take care of itself.