Sophie Blondeau is an ex-ad exec who worked with Fortune 500 clients in London and New York for a decade before pivoting towards her passion to help people reach their goals and dreams. She’s run her own executive coaching company Walk + Talk Coaching since 2009 and has worked with folks from around the globe, including execs from leading brands like IPSOS, ESPN, Lifetime and Biesdorf.
Sophie helps her clients find purpose, build leadership skills, and boost creative thinking to thrive in stressful environments (hello, divorce?). She’s also going through a divorce herself. We chatted with Sophie who generously shared some great ways to get through the tough days of divorce for our DIGC community. As you can probably guess from the name of her company, she is a big believer in the benefits of walking through a problem.
Q. Sophie, can you share a little bit about what the divorce process has been like for you so far?
A. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I began my divorce journey by army crawling, literally on my belly, one inch at a time, out of a toxic marriage. I had already tried multiple times to end my marriage. From the moment I made a promise to myself to end it, I spent each day crawling towards freedom. Phase one, told a close friend I was ready to get a divorce, phase two went to secretly meet with a divorce lawyer to understand the process, phase three gathered all the family papers, and phase four endured my husband’s rage when I told him he had lost me for good.
Q. What prompted you to begin using walking as a tool?
A. My personal journey included my ex-husband’s narcissistic rage, my father’s sudden death from a heart attack and my brother’s suicide at the age of 46. The best tool I found to take care of both my body and mind was walking. Simple I know, but effective. I truly walked my way through the practical challenges and the emotional tsunami of my divorce, towards a new, healthy and joyful life.
Q. How did this practice evolve over time?
A. One step at a time, one walk at a time I went from merely surviving to standing in my power. Rain or shine, through the seasons, I walked alone, and I walked with trusted friends. Each walk helped me reduce the level of stress I was feeling. It gave me a new perspective on whatever challenge was on my plate that day. It helped me process the pain, sadness and anger that are unfortunately the by-products of most divorces. It helped me identify the best action plans, come up with options and make steadier decisions. Best of all I always came back feeling energized and healthier.
Q. I know you say walking is a secret super-power. How so?
A. What I found to be helpful instinctively is backed up by science. When we get moving it actually changes our brains, it enhances creativity and boosts our cognitive functioning. It’s an easy step you can take to increase your general well-being and renew your momentum towards the new life you are creating. When you are traversing through the rugged territory of divorce, walking is a powerful way to harness the mind-body connection to be the best you can be. Go on, put on your walking shoes and take the first step towards your new life.
Q. You’re a life coach, and we’re fascinated with the idea of your Walk + Talk sessions. How do those work?
A. Walk + Talk sessions are simply a combination of two powerful life tools. You take a thought-provoking coaching session and add an energizing walk, and you get a unique experience that gives your mind and body the energy and momentum to step into the future you’re envisioning.
Clients sign up for a series of 4 walks to start with. Each session is 45 minutes long and usually done over the phone. They choose a calm walking route or hop onto their treadmill - whatever is most convenient - and wear headphones to ensure privacy.
I have to say, I feel so privileged to do this work because I’m always as energized as my clients after a session. There is nothing more important to me than to help other women get on the other side of divorce, living a life they love.
I once read that “divorce is a journey across rugged territory. Behind is the life you can no longer live and before you is a future with more hope and possibility.” I think walking is a really powerful tool to help you across that “rugged territory.”
Q. Can you give our community a few tips so they can “try this at home”?
A. Yes, first thing is to schedule a walk for yourself. It’s so easy to let the days slip by. Pick a specific time and put your sneakers by the front door.
Second, pick a route that lets you walk without having to worry about too much traffic or barriers. You want to be able to get into the flow.
Ask a friend to come along and give each other equal time to talk about an issue. Try to stay at a high level, so you don’t drown in the sea of drama and details. For example, talk about your vision for the summer parenting plan and not what a pain your ex is about taking the kids to the beach.
Finally, when you get home be sure to write down your key ideas, when they're fresh.
Q. If there’s one thing you’d like for our community to take away from your experience, what would that be?
A. The divorce journey is like life, it’s unpredictable and much of it is out of our control. One thing that is predictable is that it’s tough, and the only thing in our control is how we show up to this challenge. For me showing up meant being a strong and stable leader for my three kids, and taking care of my body and mind, every single day of that journey. Most importantly, you only get one life, we all deserve to design a life we love!