Why I Stopped Coaching

Eventually, I keep thinking, I will become accustomed to the way life changes. It’s inevitable, after all.

But even as I keep improving the ways I react to change, I must admit: change is hard. It’s fucking hard.

And, as it seems I say so often when I post here, because I just don’t do so often enough - so much has changed since my last post.

As you may or may not have noticed, empoweredmuses.com no longer exists. This was a difficult decision for me, but after months of thought it still feels right.

When I started Empowered Muses back in 2015 I was excited to offer the skills and tools and templates I’ve created over the course of my career to talented models who needed a marketing boost. I knew from past experience that I had developed strategies that allowed me to book plenty of work without cold calling. (A strategy that I don’t judge at all, but personally hated having to rely on at the beginning of my career.)

I jumped in headfirst, with plenty of passion and very little game plan. I invested hugely in coaching and education to help me get the business off the ground. I invested in learning how to create an effective webinar training, how to structure courses so people will learn from them, and how to market in a way that felt in integrity for me. This was primarily content marketing: emails full of valuable information, an ebook, free webinars, Youtube videos, a few live events, and the chance for any model who wanted it to book a free call with me for tips on how to advance their careers.

I’ve always felt that newer models deserve resources that will help them build a safe and profitable career without needing to pay for it, so I offered copious amounts of free information. I decided to charge only for the information I knew would advance a model’s career from moderately successful to immensely satisfying, tools and strategies that would pay for themselves in extra bookings.

And I taught so much more than just marketing tools - I worked with my clients on time management and career satisfaction. We didn’t just focus on making money, we focused on better paying and more enjoyable gigs so they could have more free time, more mental bandwidth, and spend more time at home with loved ones.

I explain all of this because I am feeling, quite intensely at the moment, the same imposter syndrome that haunted me throughout my entire time attempting to build Empowered Muses into something sustainable.

I truly believed in Empowered Muses. I still do. I believe that resources and training around business practices, marketing, copy, and more are important for new and experienced models alike. I also believe that our industry is so different that typical trainings won’t help bridge that gap - one of my clients had a business degree and successful startups under her belt, but couldn’t figure out how to apply that education and experience to nude modeling.

So I strove to provide the trainings and resources that I looked for when I was a newer model. I’m extremely proud of what I created and built. And I’m heartbroken that it didn’t work out.

Throughout the four years that I worked to build Empowered Muses I worked with some amazing models, and I received some lovely feedback that I will treasure for years. But I also had to turn down so many models who I knew I could help, who couldn’t afford my rates to work with me 1-on-1 or in a group program.

Over and over again I had to have difficult conversations about money with talented models who I knew could afford to pay my rates by booking just one or two extra shoots each month, knowing that by working with me they could book at least twice that, knowing they’d say no anyway because that’s an impossible catch 22 of a situation to be in.

And it broke me.

For years I kept trying, working with the models who could afford my rates, wanting to serve the models who couldn’t. I offered scholarships, group programs with sliding scale fees, and burnt myself out.

And in the process, my savings ran out.

At the time, I was still recovering from my surgery and had no other source of income.

And while I still believed that what I offered was going to make a difference for the models I spoke with, I also knew that I needed an income in order to survive. I began to feel, for the first time, pressure to sell. And I didn’t like that at all.

I didn’t ever want to feel pushy or salesy in helping models to make a decision that could affect their entire careers. When I started feeling like I was moving out of integrity and going into calls with the goal of signing up a client rather than just helping as much as I could, I knew it was time to make a change.

That’s when I met an absolutely beautiful woman at an event who said she wanted to try nude modeling and asked me to help. For the first time in ages, I lit up. That had always been my end goal, what I truly wanted to do with my life: helping women experience posing nude in a supportive, empowering environment.

I put together a wonderful program for her, and we started working together. It was magical, and I thought I’d found the future of Empowered Muses.

But as it turns out, most women aren’t incredibly keen on the type of spiritual work combined with a nude photoshoot experience I was offering. And again I found myself struggling, focusing on trying to get clients rather than trying to change lives.

And then somebody I knew well, somebody I trusted, somebody who had helped me grow Empowered Muses, suggested that maybe coaching wasn’t what I’m supposed to be doing right now.

I remember the conversation vividly. I was staying with a fellow model, laying sideways across the bed in the guest bedroom with my phone on speaker, trying my best not to sob and failing. I felt utterly betrayed. This friend I was talking to was supposed to have my back, and they dared suggest that I abandon everything I had worked for for the past four years, everything I had built and believed in.

But they were right.

I finally realized what they had tried to tell me - I was utterly depleted, emotionally, physically, and financially. I was still recovering from surgery while trying to work full time and support family members, and I was in a fundamentally unsustainable situation. I had worked full time through planning my wedding and barely took a two week break afterwards. My response to not being able to support myself via Empowered Muses was to invest in more and more training - over four years I spent probably 3-4x more on business trainings than I earned through Empowered Muses.

On no level was I capable of maintaining the rate I had been going at.

While I was absolutely convinced that my friend was wrong about me needing to quit coaching, I did concede that I needed a break. For the first time ever, I asked my spouse to support me financially 100%. In June, I did no work. No coaching, no modeling. No marketing. No sales.

And my creativity, my energy, and my enthusiasm for life began to return.

By the end of June I was focused on bringing in the bulk of my income through modeling again. By August I was lining up a part time job with flexible hours that would supplement that income. By September it was clear that Empowered Muses, as I had hoped for it to exist, was gone forever.

It’s taken me more than a few months to mourn that realization.

I’m undeniably happier now. I have more stability, more energy and creativity for photoshoots, and more confidence. But I mourn my dream of changing our industry.

In some ways, I’m sure I have changed it. I’ve helped pro models gather the confidence to raise their rates reflective of their experience and start taking deposits, actions which will help improve industry standards for everyone. I’ve shared game changing tools and strategies with a group of wonderful models who will, eventually, help the next generation of models, spreading those tools and strategies until the best of them are common knowledge. And I’ve created free resources that will be available forever, or as close to it as I can manage.

I’m sure that my foray into Empowered Muses garnered me some enemies as well. Some were certainly vocal: I had photographers who hated what I was trying to do for models, and models who hated that I had the gall to charge for it. And while the majority response I received was overwhelmingly positive, I do wonder how many industry connections I somehow damaged without ever knowing it. I believed in what I was doing, and I marketed it. At the end, I probably marketed it a little too vehemently.

But would I change the experience? Not at all. Mentoring models has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, short of marrying my spouse and becoming a nude model myself.

Someday, I hope I can complete my dream of creating a comprehensive online course for models who are seeking the tools I offered - something I can offer at an accessible price, without burning myself out.

In the meantime, most of the free resources I created are still available. Depending on my blogging urges, I may try to put out more.

Truth to tell, if a model wants to work with me badly enough to reach out and ask, I would love to do more 1-on-1 coaching. But I doubt I’ll ever again offer it full time. And honestly, that feels much better.

Immersing myself in the world of Empowered Muses helped me to crystallize and finesse the materials I offered in a way I never would have been able to otherwise. It was a valuable experience for me, and I believe for the models I worked with as well. But I’m much happier focusing elsewhere now, and I don’t expect that to change.

So if you’ve wondered what happened to Empowered Muses, now you know. And if you’ve wondered how I’m doing, I’m doing great. There have been a lot of changes recently, and at least two or three more things worth writing blog posts about are brewing. Life is never calm, and someday I’ll learn to make time for rest instead of hoping it will appear. But overall? Things couldn’t be better.

I hope the same is true for you.

About the Author

Eleanor is an accomplished traveling nude model and has been pursuing her art since 2010 and posing nude since 2011. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines, books, and galleries, including a special event at the Louvre.

Contact Eleanor

Invisible Illness and Me: Chronic Pain and Modeling

If you’ve read my latest two blog posts, you know that my health journey has not been a simple one. I’ve had chronic pain, chronic fatigue, depression and anxiety since my early teenage years. I’ve been hospitalized several times for various illnesses, and had four surgeries before I turned 25. In recent years I’ve dealt with the aftermath of a car accident that left me with a whole list of symptoms and a whole lot of questions: Why did this happen to me? How am I supposed to make enough money to survive? How does anyone manage to cope with health issues and keep functioning as an adult?

I quickly learned that the way I’d been living - non-stop, burning out and then going full speed ahead again immediately, booking 4-12 photoshoots per week while in school full time - wasn’t going to work anymore. I left school, I dialed way back on modeling, and I focused on regaining my health.

And I floundered. A lot. I tried a lot of things, many of which helped me regain energy temporarily but weren’t enough to maintain it long term. And because I didn’t look sick, people still expected me to be available for their projects as well as my own. It felt like I never had time to rest unless I was stuck in bed feeling too sick to enjoy it.

Many times I resigned myself to a life of fatigue, struggling to balance work and health, always compromising one to boost the other. Sometimes I expected to live that way the rest of my life, feeling good and getting lots of work done one week and then spending the next two weeks in bed.

It didn’t help that every time I started feeling poorly again the first things to go were the fledgling habits I was trying to implement that were making me feel better.

Ultimately, I spent four years learning how to balance my energy levels and care for my symptoms while also running my business and enjoying a personal life. The first time I finished work for the day and had enough energy left that I actually wanted to go outside and play tetherball was mindblowing. I felt like a kid again, like a weight had been lifted and I was free.

Of course it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows from there. I still have upswings and down - that’s how energy works. The difference is that now I know how to listen to my mind and body and give myself what I need before I burn out or melt down, whether that’s food, water, rest, or play. I still spend days in bed occasionally, but now it’s intentional, giving myself a day to rest and be still. (And catch up on my reading!)

Why am I sharing this? Because I’m not the only person I know who has struggled with this. In my family alone, there are at least three women with Fibromyalgia, five with depression, and two diagnosed with Lyme and co-infections. I’m pretty sure everyone else has at least one chronic invisible condition: Diabetes. Gout. Chronic Pain. Chronic Fatigue. Hashimotos. Anxiety. Migraines.

And it’s not just that my family is particularly unhealthy: most (if not all) of my friends suffer from at least one chronic invisible condition as well, as have most of my coaching clients over the past four years and most of the women I meet.

While doing research for an upcoming workshop I’m hosting, I discovered that in America 1 in 2 people suffer from chronic conditions, 96% of people with one or more chronic conditions live with a condition that is invisible, and women are statistically more likely to suffer from invisible illnesses. That means most women are walking around every day in pain, low on energy, and beating themselves up because they can’t get enough done.

To be honest, I knew that the statistics had to be high. From my lived experience I knew that most women have had, currently have, or will have some sort of chronic condition. But somehow I didn’t expect the statistics to actually reflect that. Invisible illnesses are everywhere, yet there’s very little accommodation for them in our society. 

This needs to change. I don’t have an answer to how that can happen, but I do know that talking about it helps.

Freelance modeling is a profession that seems to attract people with chronic pain and illness. Many of us can’t handle office jobs sitting all day, and definitely can’t handle retail jobs standing in one place all day. The ability to set our own schedules, work around our illnesses, and accommodate our own needs is appealing. The fact that modeling involves a mixture of movement and stillness is helpful when both moving too much and sitting still too long both cause pain.

We’re artists. Our chronic conditions do not define us, and they aren’t the only reason we do this work.

But in an industry where many of us live with chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and chronic (often invisible) illness, in a society where most of the people I know are living with these things, I think the more we talk about the realities we face and the decisions we make to accommodate them, the better off we all are.

So this is me, talking about my reality. I didn’t choose a career as a freelance nude model because of my health, but when health issues flared up it helped immensely to be working for myself in something other than a desk job. Modeling kept me active and fit when I had little motivation to exercise, and kept me motivated and got me outdoors when I had little reason to leave the house.

It wasn’t always easy - I’ve posed through migraines so debilitating that flash left me blind, sometimes without the photographer ever realizing. I’ve regretted booking shoots on days I had barely enough energy to get out of bed, and I’ve been proud of myself when I still showed up and did a good job.

I’m a lot healthier now than I used to be, and I still have a long ways to go. But I know now that I’m not alone. And neither are you.

About the Author

Eleanor is an accomplished traveling nude model and has been pursuing her art since 2010 and posing nude since 2011. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines, books, and galleries, including a special event at the Louvre. She now draws on her experience as a freelance nude model as a women’s empowerment coach, helping women reclaim their lives and bodies through transformative nude photoshoot experiences.

Contact Eleanor

An Ending, and A Beginning

Last week I published a blog post with a general update on what I’ve been up to over the past few years, as well as a promise to share more about what I’ll be doing moving forward this week.

Before we look at the future, however, I’d like to acknowledge and honor the past.

In 2014 I was rear ended on my way to my girlfriend’s house. It was a Saturday, and we planned to attend a kink event that evening. At first I thought it a mild inconvenience: my car was visibly damaged, and I was shaken up, but I was “just” rear ended - right?

By the time I finished exchanging insurance information with the other driver I was starting to feel stiff through my neck and shoulders, and decided to head back home. Driving two hours no longer seemed such an exciting prospect, and my girlfriend agreed that I should rest.

Before I drove home I called my fiancee, who directed me to urgent care.  I spent the next few hours getting diagnosed with whiplash and muscle strain, and was told to visit my doctor on Monday.

By Monday it was clear that something was seriously wrong. I was in too much pain to walk up the stairs to my bedroom and was behaving erratically. I was confused, belligerent, and forgetting things, repeating things I’d said just a few minutes before. My doctor confirmed whiplash and diagnosed a concussion. My chiropractor told me to take the next 3 weeks off from modeling if I wanted to heal properly.

At the time, 3 weeks felt like way too long. The semester had just ended, and I was planning a cross country road trip with another model. Modeling wasn’t just my only source of income, it was my life blood, my passion, my pride and joy, and at that time my only hobby. Asking me to take three weeks off to rest felt like being asked to give up the very core of my being.

I wasn’t willing to risk my recovery taking longer, so I acquiesced. Over the next few weeks that turned out to have been a very good idea. I was so disoriented I couldn’t be left alone in the house, so physically disabled I couldn’t shower without help. In addition to the physical pain and memory issues I was dizzy, nauseous, and depressed. I experienced severe anxiety and mood swings, and once forgot who my parents were and thought I was being kidnapped while riding in their car.

About a month in I saw a neurologist and started taking a medication that helped mitigate the concussion symptoms. At first I felt great on 10mg, but over time I had to increase the dose until I was taking 100mg every day just to function.

Then my grandma died.

There are times in each of our lives when everything gets turned on its head, years where everything breaks apart so we can remold ourselves from the ashes. At the time I wasn’t able to view this process magnanimously - all I knew was that my life was falling apart, everything sucked, and I couldn’t stop bursting into tears at inappropriate times.

And time passed.

I never really shared online how bad things got for me through the worst of this. Without getting too deep into the misery, suffice to say I eventually pulled myself out and began recovery. I learned how to practice effective self care, how to keep from perpetuating cycles of overworking and burnout, how to listen to and take care of my body. My pain and energy levels are now returning to better than they were before the accident (I had already suffered from chronic pain and fatigue), and last October I finally got off the medication I’d relied on for 4 years in order to function normally.

This was not my planned upon blog post for this week, by the way. But life happened, as it so often does.

This weekend I was rear ended on my way to a friend’s house. It was Saturday, and we planned to attend a women’s empowerment event the next day. At first I thought it was the end of the world - I’d been here before, you see. I knew what came next: the pain, the confusion, the tears, the years of rehabilitation.

As I got off the freeway and found somewhere safe to park I was sobbing. “Not again,” I kept saying. “Not again, not again, not again.” But even in shock, panicking, and deeply triggered, the self care techniques I’ve learned over the past few years kicked in. I started breathing deeply, I calmed myself down, and I reminded myself that I’m a different person, and in a different place, than I was five years ago. I have a stronger support system. I know and teach so many tools now that would have changed my life if I’d had them then.

And I started using those tools.

Over the past few days I have been in a deep process of healing - not only the whiplash and mild concussion from Saturday, but the trauma and pain left over from 2014. I am in the midst of a beautiful experience of being able to see this not as a pattern repeating, not as the ushering in of another dark night of my soul, but as an opportunity to close that chapter of my life.

That’s not to say that this hasn’t been painful, nor would I ever describe the past few days as easy. They’ve been intense. They’ve been powerful. And while I wouldn’t have chosen this, I’m grateful for the experience. And I’m grateful to have come to a place of gratitude that very same night, to have been able to change my focus from feeling victimized to looking for the beauty, the healing, the wisdom in this experience within an hour of it happening. That couldn’t have happened without the years of intense work, self growth, and transformation I’ve put in.

I’m also grateful that this time around my life is not on hold. I am taking care of myself and tending to my business. I’m writing this blog post. I’m planning a photoshoot for this weekend. I did a card reading yesterday.

There are cycles in nature, as there are cycles in our lives. I believe that lessons repeat until we learn them, and I couldn’t have asked for a clearer way to know that this lesson has been learned. This pattern will not repeat. And as I move into this new chapter in my business, I’m excited to also move into a new chapter in my life: one in which the car accident I was in does not define me.

It taught me the tools I need to help my clients, and I can let it go now, secure in the knowledge that I don’t have to identify with that pain any longer. That’s not who I am anymore.

About the Author

Eleanor is an accomplished traveling nude model and has been pursuing her art since 2010 and posing nude since 2011. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines, books, and galleries, including a special event at the Louvre.

Contact Eleanor

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