Liz Byrne traveled the globe and came full circle in her own life to inspire all of us with her story, A Whole New World:
Liz Byrne is happy, she’s arrived. Or at least on this path along her life’s journey, this page in her book, it’s a time to cherish. A super successful businesswoman, a loving wife, a devoted mother. She will even go so far as to say her life is “simple and boring”.
“We don’t do anything”, says Liz. “We have two toddlers, life is work, and the kids. Tim and I are so committed to the kids’ routine and we have opposite schedules, so we have an understanding and we make it work. I’m busy with my agents on my sales team. Tim gets home to make dinner for Michael and Gabby, gives them a bath and handles some big responsibilities. I especially respect what he does because he’s out running around all day as the lead on an Emergency Reaction Team for NASA. But he does whatever it takes. It works. We work.”
Liz says sometimes Tim tells her he feels like he’s “Daddy Daycare”. But, she laughs, “I tell him, ‘babe, it’s called parenting’.” And while these days life might appear boring and simple, for Liz it’s all good. The experience of her life is joyful, impactful, and meaningful, since her childhood was anything but.
That’s because the first third of her life was spent living the one word we all try to conquer every day: fear.
Liz says, “I would lay in my bed at night and wish I would be anyone else in the whole wide world. My story was I never fit in and nobody liked me and it was based on believing what was happening to me. I’m believed I was living a story where I didn’t fit in and nobody cared.”
She continues, “When I was a kid we didn’t have money, my home life was not safe, my dad was very violent, not a good person. He was physically a horrible person, a sociopath, he was very volatile and terrifying. We lived in fear of him. He was the punisher, my mom was the protector. She would come sneak into my and my brother’s room and cry with us. It’s tough to grow up in a place with someone you are afraid of, someone you are supposed to look up to. As a kid it didn’t feel fair, or right.”
When our childhood is “right” it is something we look back on and remember fondly, a time of innocence where anything is possible, a place we feel safe, secure and harbor little fear, since fear is a learned response. But for Liz this time of joyful innocence was filled with dark memories of a man who became the thief in the night of her chance for a bright and “normal” existence.
But before she exited her teenage years, Liz says her mom got up the courage to get out. Her mom divorced her father and brought a new man into her life and Liz says her mom’s husband showed them the way. “He stepped up to the plate” says Liz. “He showed us it was possible to have a family where love lives and he was, (and is), a good example of what we could have, of what we could be.”
With love at the core and hope at the door, Liz got the courage to venture out as well, to distance herself from her past. She moved from Titusville, Florida to Orlando and saved her money. It gave her the foundation and the fortitude to make the big jump – to the Big Apple. “Moving to New York City was definitely me trying to get away”, says Liz. “I didn’t know a soul there, I had no job. I remember my cab ride to an apartment I had never seen, and thinking ‘holy crap’.” But she made it work.
In the meantime Liz had also started traveling. She has been to 18 different countries and seen the world, through her own eyes, it made her realize things about her past, present and future.
Liz says, “There is that saying – I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. When you get out there in the world you see what real poverty is and what people’s real struggles are. It helped me come to a place where I didn’t harbor any feelings that I thought were still relevant about who I was. It helped me create a new story.”
Liz’s travels eventually took her from New York, back to Florida, and a failed engagement that had her losing nearly everything and moving back into the house with her mom. The house was 11-hundred square feet. Liz shared a tiny spare bedroom with baby chicks and a trash bag with her belongings. It left her thinking hard – what would she do with the rest of her career? Then in 2009 she answered an ad for an insurance company, which after a short time, led her to the doorstep of what is now USHEALTH Advisors and meeting Taraina McCants and Troy McQuagge.
Liz says with Taraina as her mentor she learned all she needed to know. “I went on a sales appointment with Taraina’s sister, Teaira. I recorded her presentation, listened to it like 40-thousand times, did it word for word, sold like a maniac and got out of my financial hole. I called Taraina like 150 times-a-day and she always answered the phone. If not for her I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
She continues, “Taraina takes the philosophy and beliefs of Troy McQuagge, (the CEO of USHEALTH Advisors), and passes it down to our leaders and agents. Agents come here with no hope and go from that place to a place where legacy for your family is possible because it is a supportive, genuine environment of complete sincerity and love. I had never experienced anything like that in my life. It is Troy’s big heart that has created this opportunity for all of us. This company is like a living body and the heartbeat starts with Troy. It’s like a passion and a calling. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience it.”
“To have the support I do at home, with my husband Tim as an amazing partner, husband and friend and to have the same experience at work too and have it all over my life, it’s something that’s extraordinary.”
And what of those demons in the past?
The love from all around has helped to erase the memories of the tough childhood Liz endured – her travels around the world helped to open her heart and her mind, to give her perspective and to see her struggles in a different light. And then she took the final step to alleviate any residual fear and pain as well. Liz attended a Landmark Forum about making positive, permanent shifts in your life, accepting responsibility and making peace with your past.
Then she took a trip… to see her father.
It had been nearly a dozen years since the last time Liz laid eyes on the man who cast such a dark shadow on her childhood. “I just wanted to let him know I forgave him and what he put us through”, she says. When I found him he was just this “person”, not so terrifying. I went to see him as an adult and he was not whatever I thought he was when I was younger. He was very insecure and puny, no backbone, no accountability, just a pathological liar. I just thought, ‘wow he’s so weak’. And he was in denial of everything. It was interesting for me to perceive him as this weak man. No strength and nothing to be afraid of. I only saw my Dad once and that chapter of my life is complete now… closed.”
It was a turning point.
Liz says from where she began to where she is now she has learned so much: “It all boils down to being able to grow. Once I was able to forgive all these opportunities started popping up everywhere. At a certain point I decided in order to grow I had to accept responsibility and not live the life I was given and create something better. You have to choose to break the cycle. I didn’t want to live in a situation where I was poor, or live in fear. Every day you must do something to make a difference. Don’t just strive for success and money, be of value and of service. Make a commitment, choose your own luck.”
And build yourself a whole new world.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.