Meredith Richardson is The Midlife Coach. And boy does she know a thing or two about re-writing your life. In 2015 she was the victim of an attempted kidnapping that resulted in years of legal battles, PTSD, her marriage falling apart and her decision to leave her career in Child Protective Services and Guardian work behind. She left the United States and spent a few years traveling the world, finding herself again. And ultimately she did – starting her very own coaching business, The Midlife Coach and teaching women from her own first hand experience how to create and live their best lives.
Richardson’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
I had been a rescuer for many years. As a mediator, I helped over 1,500 people to navigate conflict successfully. I coached the highest conflict people and those in conflict with them, helping them to understand what was happening during conflict and how to do things differently. As a guardian ad litem, I represented the best interest of children in divorce and parental rights cases when their parents could not agree as to what was in the children’s best interest. I also represented the best interest of children in child protective cases when children had been removed from their parents’ care due to allegations of abuse and neglect by one or both parents.
In April 2006, I rescued my stepchildren, too. Their stepfather was abusive, and their mother chose to stay with him. When my then boyfriend called me, I said, “Bring me the children.” He and the children moved into my condo that day. By October 2015, my stepchildren were adults and out of the home. I had stopped doing guardian ad litem work, and had focused my business on mediation, conflict coaching, and training. I was still heavily involved in volunteer work, on the board, the Executive Committee, and chairing the Governance Committee for Sweetser, President of the Board of the Maine Association of Mediators, and President-Elect of the NH Conflict Resolution Association (along with being on their Education Committee).
But then in October of 2015, a man named Mr. Hall and an accomplice tried to kidnap me in retaliation for work that I had done four years earlier as a guardian ad litem protecting Mr. Hall’s children. I am alive today because I was able to fight off Mr. Hall. My life has two clear lines of demarcation – 1. the night of the attempted kidnapping and 2. the day that I thought Mr. Hall would go free. After the attack, I was clear about three things: 1. I was grateful to be alive; 2. I wanted my life back; and 3. Mr. Hall needed to be locked up as long as possible, preferably until one of us was dead.
I was back to work as a mediator within two weeks after the attack. However, the façade I showed to the outside world hid my struggles with PTSD. I didn’t bounce back. My marriage was over. I knew that I had to leave my home state of Maine. In June 2018, I went to visit friends and family in Norway. When I arrived at the farm where I had farmed in my early 20’s, I felt like I had come home, and also like I had come home to me. I knew that this was where I needed to go to heal. And so, I packed up my marriage, packed up my career, and headed to Norway where I hiked, did yoga, wrote a memoir about my life after the attempted kidnapping, and healed.
In Fall 2019, I asked my Facebook friends, “If you could learn anything you wanted from me, what would you like to learn?” I thought that they would want to know something about relationships or navigating conflict, as I used to be a mediator. Their overwhelming response: “I want to know how to do what you did.” That was how my international online coaching business was born. I love helping women all over the world to see their strengths, step into their power, and claim their best lives.
To me, success is being able to live your best life. Ideally, that means that your work allows you to pursue your passions and play to your strengths that you enjoy. You find joy in your everyday life, and you make joy a priority in your everyday life. You have a healthy work-life balance, whatever that may be for you. And your earnings provide you with financial independence.
My biggest success to date isn’t business-related. My biggest success to date is falling in love again. After the attempted kidnapping in 2015, I told my then-husband that it was a good thing that I was married because I couldn’t imagine ever dating again. I had been lured to a remote location by a woman and tased by a man wearing a disguise. I had a hard time trusting any new people as a result. Three years later, when I left my husband in 2018, I did so knowing that I might never have a date with a stranger again, that I might never be in a serious relationship again or get married again, and I was perfectly OK with that. In the last two years, as I’ve traveled the world, I’ve done a lot of work on myself, teaching myself to trust again. In June 2020, I worked on forgiveness. I forgave a lot of people including my attacker. All of that allowed me to open myself up to the possibility of falling in love with a complete stranger. And so, on July 4, 2020, I went on a date with a man I met online, and what was supposed to be just a coffee together turned into nine hours – seven hours of conversation and then two hours watching the fireworks together. Within two weeks, we could complete each other’s sentences. Now, we see each other almost every day. Our relationship is my biggest success to date.
My top challenges with creating an online coaching business were sales, marketing, and visibility. I already had been coaching people in conflict, so coaching women on how to create their best lives was easy in comparison. Building an online coaching business came with a steep learning curve with respect to it being online, both in terms of the tech involved and the business know how, but I’ve always been a fast learner and achiever. I got in my own way with respect to visibility, sales and marketing, which is why those were my top challenges.
When I decided to do an online coaching business, I knew that I would need to do sales and marketing very differently than I had for my mediation business. I did a deep dive into marketing and sales in the online world, taking one course after another. I reached out to Natasha Bray, and received two months of individual coaching from her, as well as four months of group coaching from her. That deep dive into my visibility issues, as well as learning her form of sales and marketing, really made the difference for me. I then did another group coaching program specifically focused on launching with a woman who radiated joy and love when she launched. I wanted to radiate joy and love when I launched and I knew that if I worked with her, I could make that happen. And this month, when I launched my new 30-day, small-group, self-empowerment program, Do It Easily, I launched with joy and love.
Natasha Bray is my role model. She is an amazing coach and person who has overcome tremendous adversity and trauma to get to where she is today. She makes the world a better place.