I Had a (mini) Breakdown

I Had a (mini) Breakdown

Actually, I’m not really sure it was “mini.” I just need to type that to get up enough courage to tell you this story.

If I’m honest, I crashed on December 16, 2022. After 18 months of writing and re-writing, I had just published my first book, “Choosing Me: The Journey Home to My True Self.” Through that stretch, every day I’d wake up early to write for a few hours before work, serve my clients all day, and then write for hours more. I felt like I was working 24–7 for a multi–marathon stretch.

While there were parts of the experience I loved, the literary birthing process was a true labor…and exhausting. Not to mention, as a memoir, the book was a deep emotional excavating of leaving my 25+ year marriage, coming out, and a tough, visceral exploration of my mother–daughter relationship. Expressing my story in the public realm was a raw exercise in vulnerability.

As a daughter of strong, enterprising parents, I wasn’t raised to be vulnerable. I learned to hold my cards close and not let others “see me sweat.” This upbringing, while wonderful in many ways, also conditioned me to be cool and calm on the outside despite the stress and overwhelm I often carried on the inside. Over my career, as a driven leader and business owner, I’ve kept a strong façade and taken on things when I should’ve said “no” or asked for help. Such was the case in December 2022. I wish I’d done both, but I didn’t. So, my body spoke for me.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was a Friday afternoon, and I had just wrapped up the work week. My wife, Lyn, came upstairs in our home office the same moment I came down. One look into her face, and I crumbled to the floor and burst into tears sobbing, physically trembling, and trying to breathe. I’d never had a panic attack before, but I’m quite sure I did in that moment. I felt out of control.

Looking back, this was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Mostly, I’m thankful that my body woke me up this way instead of something much worse. Until that moment, I didn’t know how to stop. I didn’t know how to rest. I didn’t feel like I could turn down client engagements and wasn’t as skillful in seeking partnership and accessing my resources. Now I know, and I do.

Since that day, slowly and steadily I began living a new way…a new life. I learned that I can slow down and my world won’t come crashing down. In fact, it’s when I don’t that it does. I stopped reaching for some arbitrary benchmark outside myself to give me permission to live a healthier and whole life. I still work hard. I’m still driven. My business is full and thriving. And more than anything, it’s life giving and fulfilling.

Gone are the days of scheduling myself wall-to-wall, leaving no white space on my calendar, boarding an airplane 30-40 weeks a year, waking up and trying to remember what city I’m in. I don’t pull near all-nighters obsessively preparing for client work the next day. In fact, I’m not quite sure why I ever did. From where I sit today, I hardly recognize that old self.

Reflecting back, I can see things that enticed that insanity. There was a kind of high, like a runner’s high, that came from the race. There was a deep satisfaction of achievement in doing the work and supporting clients in navigating the volatility and uncertainty of their worlds. And I’m sure that there was a degree of proving to myself and others that I could do it, and even make it look easy.

I told myself that I loved it (and believed it). I assured my wife, “I got this!”—especially when she was experiencing her own Covid wipeout and career reinvention. A responsibility gene kicked in, and I was my own Atlas. Why did I create this internal myth, swelling into some kind of unsustainable savior?

It’s important to me to share this story. Too often, I keep my real and gritty life buttoned up, presenting instead the “put together,” shiny parts of myself. But that behavior is the same that led to the crash. We appear to be these superhumans, conditioned by our patriarchal society we live in to strive, achieve, produce, and earn. And at what cost? It’s time to challenge and dismantle these structures, starting with our own values, beliefs, and actions.

In the newly released audiobook, “Choosing Me: The Journey Home to My True Self,” I have a heart–to–heart conversation in the Bonus Author Interview with Lyn about what it takes to know and live your true self. We talk about this experience and others, reflecting on our journey since publishing my book in November 2022. I hope you’ll grab a copy and let me know what you think!


Jeanie Duncan is an edge walking transformation partner helping individuals and organizations align with their values, discover their core purpose, and create meaningful impact in the world. Her avenues for doing this work are executive coaching, team coaching, keynote speaking, program facilitation, and organizational consulting. For more information, contact Jeanie here.

I Got My Voice a Personal Trainer

I Got My Voice a Personal Trainer

I’ve never thought about getting vocal coaching for my work as a speaker and presenter….until I decided to narrate my own audiobook. As I prepared for the task, I realized that transitioning from storytelling as a writer to one as a speaker is a completely different game and would require developing new skill and, quite literally, new muscle.

As an entrepreneur, I believe it’s important to “keep in shape” for the work I’m called to do. For me, over the years this has included professional development in the form of leadership courses, assessment certifications, and coach training. When my audience began requesting that I produce an audiobook of my published print book, I thought, hmmm, I’m gonna need to work out for this one! So, I hired a vocal coach, and we got started!

Here’s what I learned:
  • How to prepare to read out loud for a long duration
  • How I say what I say is really important—like being intentional with tone, pacing, inflection, volume and varying all of that for interest and aligning mood and emotion of the content
  • Speaking well is a full-body experience
  • Proper mic etiquette
  • How critical it is to master my content so I can fully relax into my material with joy and ease, to give my listener the best experience

It was a hugely impactful experience! It made all the difference, both in being able to produce an audiobook product I’m proud of, as well as presenting speaking engagements that are compelling and effective.

And speaking of my audiobook, “Choosing Me: The Journey Home to My True Self,” you can grab your copy here on Audible or Amazon (paperback and Kindle versions also available).


Jeanie Duncan is an edge walking transformation partner helping individuals and organizations align with their values, discover their core purpose, and create meaningful impact in the world. Her avenues for doing this work are executive coaching, team coaching, keynote speaking, program facilitation, and organizational consulting. For more information, contact Jeanie here.

I Didn’t See This One Coming! —narrating an audiobook

I Didn’t See This One Coming! —narrating an audiobook

Wow! Talk about something I never thought I’d do — narrate an audiobook. But here I am, laying down final tracks turning my print version of—“Choosing Me: The Journey Home to My True Self”—into audio. It feels like such a huge accomplishment!

This project stretched me in so many ways. I mean, I thought writing a book was a huge process…but in some ways the audiobook challenged me even more. But, hey, my audience asked for it and my publisher recommended it, so I jumped in. And I’m really glad I did!

It turns out, the audience for audiobooks is greater than I initially realized. Through my own audience surveying, I learned that a lot of people like to enjoy books this way. Not being one of those myself, it was simply a new discovery. And for a memoir, it can be important for the author to be the storyteller. I began to face those things I’d have to overcome…

First, I had to believe I could do it. Until writing my book, the longest stretches of reading aloud were when I read bedtime storybooks to my young son. I was about to begin training for a new kind of marathon—it was both about going the distance and producing a top-quality result.

Then, there was getting over not liking the sound of my own voice. Can you relate? My publisher, editor, and coach helped assure me and give me confidence to step forward. It doesn’t hurt to be married your vocal coach 🙂 Thankfully, my wife Lyn brought a wealth of knowledge and experience and supported my journey.

I remember the day of our first coaching session. I told Lyn I was ready to read a section and get her feedback. She sat on a barstool in our kitchen, and I stood before her with my book on a music stand and began to read. Then, feeling so awkward, I stopped and made her turn her back to me, and started again. I made my way through a chapter and held my breath, nervously awaiting her response. I fully expected critical feedback from this pro…if graded, maybe a C. Much to my relief, she was only encouraging, giving me tips here and there and telling me to keep going. With every step, I developed this new muscle and began to think, “this is really happening!”

Next, I’m a writer—which for me also translates, I’m an introvert. My place of storytelling comfort and practice is with pen and pad, or a laptop…definitely NOT a microphone! For my whole life, when I’ve stood before a microphone, I get uncomfortable. All the years of church and school choir as a kid and public speaking as an adult have done little to calm my nerves and overcome my timidity. But I’ve kept going, nonetheless. I’ve learned that the only way to do the work, is to do the work.

For several weeks, I read my book out loud for an hour or two each day. My publisher advised that the key was to know the content so exceptionally well that I could focus on the quality of the delivery and enjoy it. The preparation paid off. In just four recording sessions plus a few revisions, I had my final audiobook product!

Of all the things I learned in this experience, nothing is more important than this: If my goal is to have an outstanding product or outcome, assembling an “A Team” is my #1 priority. I’m deeply grateful for these exceptional partners:


“Choosing Me: The Journey Home to My True Self” audiobook is available for purchase on Audible. Get your copies here!

Learning Agility and Embracing the Suck

Learning Agility and Embracing the Suck


“Embracing the suck” is part of the path to mastering anything new says social scientist, Brene Brown.

These days, my “new” is learning to write the stories of the amazing, courageous women I’ve interviewed for my book…I’m learning to be a storyteller, essentially. And it’s hard!

It’s hard because

  • I feel responsible for someone’s story. I want to write it in such a way that I honor and convey the core essence of their narrative. I want my reader to really see the women and their experience.
  • I’m so accustomed to business writing, which is all about keeping the message short, direct, and to the point. Storytelling requires me to develop a style of expounding, elaborating, and being more colorful and emotive in my writing.
  • I’m working to find the balance of staying focused and on point, yet sharing enough that my reader is drawn in, as if riding a wave beside my “character,” following the rise and fall of the story’s build, the peak, and the close.

The work is stretching and challenging me in new ways. The difficulty persists, but so do I. I show up even when I don’t feel creative. I make myself write – “just get words on the paper,” I tell myself, “and the flow will come.” I feel myself growing, not only in my ability to write the stories, but also in how I tell stories to others. I’m learning about the art and delivery.

This path, and sometimes anguish, of learning something new is what I refer to as The Learning Curve. I have the (ahem) joy of being in it right now!

The Learning Curve

Whenever we come up on a learning opportunity, we have a choice of two ways to go:

  1. We can decide to go for it, or
  2. We can choose to stay right where we are…“the comfort zone”

If we choose to go for it, we’re sure to have some new muscle building with a likely series of trying the new thing and failing. It’s like learning to ride a bike as a kid and taking the training wheels off for the first time. We’re gonna fall – probably over and over and over again. Attempting and failing is hard, it’s embarrassing, it…sucks. It makes us want to quit!

If we decide instead to stay the course of where we are, it’s easy. We’re comfortable. It feels good. In other words, we can “do it in our sleep.” But we also miss out on learning new things, opening up possibility, and even discovering something we might love or be really good at, that we had no idea of before.

Anytime I come up on something new – it could be a job opportunity, realizing I need to develop a skill, or fixing something in my house ­– I think about The Learning Curve and weigh my options: Do I really want to do this? Is it worth it? What’s the worst-case scenario?

Sometimes I decide not to take on the challenge, and I pass on the potential promotion, delegate the task, or call that plumber. That can feel really good – and necessary. But sometimes I decide to step up, stretch myself, and I go for it, I take the leap, I DIY it. And there’s a thrill in that too. Even though it brings pain with it, which it is certain to do!

What new thing are you learning these days? How’s it going?


Hi, I’m Jeanie Duncan. I work with individuals and organizations as a transformation partner to help them unlock their Truth, discover authentic value, and create meaningful impact in the world. I believe when we are truly aligned with our purpose, we can live and perform at our highest potential. With over 25 years of experience as an executive, CEO, consultant, coach, and writer, I offer strategic, knowledgeable, and experienced guidance for those who are ready to take the courageous leap toward true transformation.