Jason’s Journey

 A Winding Path 

 How My Journey Led Me Here 

“Our journeys are seldom straight paths. Instead, our paths have many twists and turns. There are dead ends and mountains to climb, and sometimes we travel the path at night or during storms. Fortunately, however, through patience, we can find our way beyond dead ends to new beginnings. And we will even have opportunities to admire the view from the tops of the mountains we spent so much time and energy climbing.”

Jason Signor in 2020Jason Signor (2020)

LIFE IS VERY much a journey—a process of discovery. To me, seeing it any other way would make it less interesting. There have been challenges along the way, but looking back on my travels, I am grateful. Today I am more connected with my passion and purpose than ever before.

I am absolutely sold on the idea of life being a journey—through which we continually explore, learn, grow, and move ever closer to the truest and most authentic expression of ourselves. And I am convinced that, ultimately, our lives are only fully rewarding to ourselves and to others when we are connected to—and live from—our personal values, passion, and purpose.

Being ourselves in the world, however, is costly. It requires courage. Courage to reject the status quo, courage to overcome adversity, courage to look within and see who we really are, courage to accept ourselves, courage to change some things, courage to face our fears, and courage to act—to express who we truly are—to the world, freely and without fear.

And this is the heart of my life’s work—to guide people into healing, change, and self-acceptance; to help them connect with their values, gifts, passion, and purpose; to help them resolve blocks to expressing themselves—all, ultimately resulting in the manifestation of tangible rewards for both themselves and others.

It’s not just surface work; there’s a lot of digging and planting and growing under the soil at first. It’s a spiritual quest where “who” and “why” matter more than “what.” A fruitful, meaningful, giving life cannot come from following a to-do list or from just maintaining an appearance of success and completion without true heart-work any more than a successful garden can come from placing examples of already-ripe, grown plants on the soil’s surface. If it’s not rooted and watered, it dies. True growth requires digging, exploring, planting, watering, sunlight, and love. 

The picking and sharing of the fruit are the end results. The journey, however, is where it all springs from. In fact, YOU ARE YOUR  JOURNEY! Your journey, your story, is uniquely yours. And the world needs to hear it!

I help people tell their stories to the world in whatever form they manifest. The results are unique for each soul, just as every garden flower or fruit is unique in texture, color, shape, aroma, and taste.

What kind of fruit are you—and will you be—to the world!? 

I feel strongly about this perspective, because I have personally experienced what it is like to navigate adversity, to live out of alignment with who I am, and to persevere through it all to pursue my own passion and purpose.

FOR ME, LIFE began at the start of the 1970’s. It was a time when the disability rights movement was just getting underway. That was fortunate, because I was born with “low vision”. Basically, low vision is significant nearsightedness that’s not completely correctable with prescription glasses. Think of perfect vision and decrease its power by ten. That is how I see the world. Low vision, for me, also came as a part of having albinism, a genetic condition where one has little pigment, creating fair skin and white hair. Currently I color my hair blond, but for many years I had my natural white color as you can see in the photo below of me and my twin brother. You can learn more about low vision and albinism by visiting NOAH, a national authority on albinism.

Me with Aaron in the 1970'sWith twin brother Aaron (1970’s)

In my youth, having albinism and low vision created several challenges. In school, my limited eyesight made seeing small print and chalkboard notes difficult. Those were the days before whiteboards, mobile phones, and personal computersall of which proved tremendously helpful. Sports were difficult and I dreaded gym classes. And having albinism resulted in teasing and bullying by peers. In those days, we didn’t use the word “bullying” and there was no public awareness about it. There was little to no support for mental health related matters in the schools, and most schools didn’t have a counselor or social worker. Fortunately, being raised in a supportive family and having an identical twin with the same challenges helped tremendously! Teasing and bullying by peers was a common experience for both me and my twin. My twin brother was, and still is, my best friend in life.

One of the more exciting aspects of one’s teenage years is learning to drive. That wasn’t an experience I was afforded the privilege of participating in or enjoying. I was angry about it. One of the few right-of-passages left in American culture for emerging adults is learning to drive, and I couldn’t experience it. Until one sunny, summer afternoon when I decided to take matters into my own hands. Finding the keys in the entrance table drawer, where they always were, and proceeding to the long strip of grass in the back yard which connected to the front yard—and driveway, I was sure I knew how to start and back my father’s black 1980’s I-ROC-Z Camaro from back yard to front. I never made it out of the driveway, thanks to a concrete wall and my mother’s sudden appearance from nowhere—though I didn’t feel that way at the time!

These were some of the challenges. And there were others. But they did not stop me from having an enjoyable and productive future. The journey continued. I learned more lessons—some through significant hardship, some through amazing epiphanies. And I’m still becoming—moving ever closer to the fullest expression of myself. As much as is possible in this life. 

WITH A PASSION for learning that has extended into my adult life, I completed a Bachelor of Music degree, a Master of Counseling degree, a Master of Social Work degree, became a perfumer, a trauma professional, a Certified Professional Coach, and a Certified Work Incentives Practitioner. I took the long road educationally, and I am still learning. I’ve learned from all my experiences, both enjoyable and heartbreaking.

In addition to the challenges of my youth, some of the biggest challenges—and life lessons—occurred more recently on my path. The realm of career has been the most recent opportunity for personal change and conquering. I found better ways to live and work that create a happier journey. But, as all change does, it came at a price.

I LEARNED THE hard way about burnout like many people who experience it do. It crept up on me suddenly in the summer of 2011. I worked and lived for several years in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for a government agency, and I’d just emerged from a week-long vacation in Upstate New York—my childhood hometown—where the air smelled of fresh ozone, green grass, and summer woods. The Philly air, in contrast, would need many rounds of filtering to get that crisp and clean.

After re-arrival in Philly and exiting the 30th Street Amtrak station, as I walked south along 30th Street in the direction of Market Street and the Market-Frankford subway station, to complete the remainder of my trip home, a huge windstorm kicked up endless shards and scrapings of Philly trash, shoving it in my face for several minutes. It was a forceful attack! Looking back it seems so symbolic—like a foreshadowing of the life-storm that would soon darken my path.

A week passed. Things were great! It was a hot and humid day, very typical of the Philly summers. But the Philly heat was especially unbearable that afternoon. Suddenly I found myself overwhelmed. I’d experienced stress before like everyone does, but this was different. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. An unexplained sadness hung over me that I couldn’t shake. My head felt foggy and I couldn’t focus on my work. And as I sat at my desk that afternoon there were few coworkers present. I felt strangely alone as I experienced all these sensations. Finally, as I gave up and laid my head in my arms, I knew something wasn’t right.

An emergency room visit and a follow-up doctor visit later, I came face-to-face with the fact that what happened was stress-induced. I experienced burnout. Multiple life and work stressors took their toll on me. And that was just the beginning. Panic set in as I questioned my ability to cope. I took a medical leave but misunderstood the regulations. My paychecks stopped. And I was thrust into unstoppable panic. It quickly became the worst time of my life.

A year later, the leave I took from that job turned into voluntary resignation, and the uncertainty that followed was palpably uncomfortable and scary. Like an object I could see and touch, it seemed all-too-real. But, with time, therapy, medication, and the support of my family and friends, not only did I make it through the storm, but I did so having learned invaluable life lessons!

DURING THAT TIME I sought as much knowledge about burnout and traumatic stress as my brain could absorb. And I learned that my experiences were not unique. Many people endured the same. I also learned that new life events can re-trigger past trauma. After considering myself well-recovered from that turbulent time, I found myself in two situations that re-triggered past stress. But by that point, I was smarter than this lurking stress gremlin. And twice I overcame its attempts to strike me down again. And years later, it crept up on me again! After a two-month long life-storm, I overcame. 

For more information about burnout and traumatic stress please visit my page entitled Burnout & Trauma.

I also learned that people do not like to talk about burnout and trauma. They are under-the-rug-sweep-able topics considered too scary or shameful to discuss. And that makes sense, because burnout is often erroneously associated with failure,2, 3  and both the fear of failure and the fear of dearth are people’s biggest fears. In fact, people fear failure even more than death! 1 Watch this video by Dr. Zubin Damania. (Note: foul language warning, in case that may be an issue for some. However, it’s bleep censored.) A very powerful video!

Combine one of the biggest fears, the fear of failure, with Western, individualist, ableist culture, where climbing the proverbial success ladder is the predominate—albeit tasteless—metaphor for personal and professional growth, and “burnout” becomes one of the least sexy words to utter!

My journey brought me face-to-face with words like “burnout,” “compassion fatigue,” and “vicarious trauma.” Even after years of study and work as a rehabilitation counselor, somehow these words slipped past me. And, such is the case for many professionals—including those in the human service fields such as counseling, psychology, social work, and medicine. But now these words occupied my consciousness. And the more I learned about them, the more I learned that something was rotten in Denmark. Only, not Denmark really. But instead, in the world of work as we know it.

In fact, little is actually rotten in Denmark! On a list of the 23 countries with the happiest and most loyal workers, Denmark ranked first!

Something was rotten in the world of work. The land of the cubicles. The place that Ron Livingston’s character, Peter Gibbons, in Office Space hated so much.

The place that Joe Banks (Tom Hanks), in Joe Versus the Volcano also grew weary of, and about which he exclaimed, “These zombie lights. I, I, I, I can feel them sucking the juice out of my eyeball. Suck, suck, suck, SUCK!”

And I learned the word “burnout” actually can victim-shame those who experience it—while excusing its larger causes. “Burnout” isn’t a personal failing as some think, but rather, it is due to a variety of factors—including faulty systems.2,3 

However, and fortunately, through education and advocacy efforts, awareness about burnout, compassion stress, and trauma have spread. An increasing number of organizations now implement trauma-informed care models, and quality customer service models. 

I’ve made it a life mission to promote awareness about trauma and its impact. To help people heal and overcome. I specifically desire to help those with disabilities to purse work they enjoy!

And I have a passion for organizations. I want to see us do it better! I want to see us work and live with heart and honesty instead of ignorance and denial.

I know that for real change to occur, we must help one person and organization at a time. I am committed to this mission.  

The world needs a new banner that reads, “Welcome to the new world of work! Hating Monday’s is SO over-rated!” 

TODAY I AM strong because I endured and conquered hardship. Because I’m aware of what triggers my stress. And because I now permit myself to live in alignment with my values, passion, and purpose.

It is my passion to help people find new paths after career train wrecks, to navigate life purpose chasms, and to permit themselves to be who they truly are deep inside! Through Your Amazing Journey LLC, I empower Social Security beneficiaries to obtain full-time work and phase off benefits! Check out the Social Security to Work program.

The path that led me hereto renewed hope and passionhas not been a straight one, but I have found that every curve and unexpected bump has significant meaning. Meaning that ignites my passion for my work with clients. Every step has beenand isworth it. 

And, I must mention, there is one common, insurmountably important thread that runs through my journey, that sustains me through it all, and that is my faith. “God got me through it!” is an accurate phrase to describe my journey. And He gets me through it every day! The epiphanies I mentioned earlier? They are very much tied to my spiritual journey. There are many cool stories regarding that! Check out my new book, From Beyond the Veil: Manifestations at the Crossroads of Heaven and Earth, about my spiritual journey!

OUR JOURNEYS ARE seldom straight paths. Instead, our paths have many twists and turns. There are dead ends and mountains to climb, and sometimes we travel the path at night or during storms. Fortunately, however, through patience, we can find our way beyond dead ends to new beginnings. And we will even have opportunities to admire the view from the tops of the mountains we spent so much time and energy climbing. This certainly describes my experience! And this fuels my passion to help others navigate their own winding paths to their own unique passion and purpose.

Your coach for YOUR journey,

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