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Hidden Gems: Meet Janine Sunday of Lean Into Change

Today we’d like to introduce you to Janine Sunday.

Hi Janine, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Where to start… Ok.  I attended UNC Chapel Hill hoping to walk out of there as a communications expert, or a PR maven, or maybe even a journalist, and instead graduated with a double major in vocal performance and Communications. For the last 20 years, I’ve been cobbling together a living as a musical theatre actress, with mastery in lyric interpretation in the DC/Baltimore area. It’s been thrilling and fulfilling and most of all, I’ve met true genuine friends and a husband on the journey.

I have about 78 side hustles, among them: costume design, wig design, production management, vocal coaching, youth theatre management, and probably some I’ve forgotten. One of the most impactful side hustles is with Kaiser Permanente, working as a Patient Care Actor who helps doctors with their communication skills. I was so inspired by this work, noticing that the people who run this dedicated program for Kaiser, are coaches who are credentialed through the International Coaching Federation. I found a lot of free time during the pandemic shut down, which had profound effects on the theatre industry and continues to keep it fragile.

I felt I was seeking something, and thus started my coaching training path. By the end of the year, I too will be an ICF credentialed coach, and currently hold the title Certified Master Coach in CORE coaching (Confidence, Organization, Reframing, and Empowerment). My clients are mostly women, many moms, some artists, and all looking for that work/life balance and striving to achieve their wants with confidence, and kindness to themselves, and still, show up for their people. Because of the life I lead with many balls in the air at all times, I help clients reframe and create time for what they want, which is empowering as hell. While I still perform and costume design, I do feel a calling towards coaching and helping others find their way forward.

When I became a mom 12 years ago, performing every night was challenging for my son’s schedule. I stepped back from performing and did maybe a show a year. Now that I’m a single mom, I definitely want to coach more and perform for the joy of it when it works with my schedule. It’s a life, and I wouldn’t change a moment of it (ok, that’s a lie, I’d change SOME moments, and recognize I’ve learned and evolved and grown from the hard stuff!).

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Of course not. While I’ve been lucky enough to be cast in shows with frequency throughout the area, it’s always scary not knowing when your next job is coming. When the dates don’t line up beautifully, I find myself with large gaps in the calendar wondering how I can make money.

The financial struggle I think tops the list for the freelance artist. It’s a vulnerable place to be in, and yet I’ve always made it work. I think for years I’ve been seeking a way to feel fulfilled, earn a livable wage, and still be creative. Being married to a fellow actor made it doubly hard to make ends meet at times. Then add motherhood to the plate already filled with a struggling marriage and financial strain, and the pressures mounted. 

The smoothest parts were easy because of the people I met and the connections I made, and how 20 years later I continue to feel lifted and supported by these same people.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
As I make this departure from acting and singing for a living, I find I can use the things I learned and package them with my coaching skills. Change is so scary, and what I want to impress upon my clients, whether I’m coaching them on career goals, personal goals, or life goals, is to lean into the hard stuff.

Because I’m in tune with emotions, body language, and vocal inflection as an actor and singer, it helps me be more intuitive to what a client is experiencing in a session. I’m able to then ask the questions that can lead to unlocking discovery, confidence, and ultimately achieving their goals one bite at a time. My experience with the Kaiser doctors and my degree in communication also help me as a coach to understand the how’s and why’s of communication.

I help people consider how they communicate and how that can steer them towards better connection and leadership. The partnership of communication training followed up by coaching is a powerful pairing. The coaching helps you figure out how to apply the training, and how to hold yourself accountable.

It’s about exploring new options and learning new habits, which can feel scary without a coach to collaborate with. I offer this to individuals via one-on-one coaching, or group coaching, or can tailor a package to an entire office that is interested in improving their office culture. I am certified in the Science of Positivity as well as Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

What’s next?
I will be officially credentialed through the International Coaching Federation as an Associate Certified Coach by the new year.  I’ve been training and studying for several years now, honing in on what I do best and how I can market myself. While performing is what shaped me, I’m ready to make it more of a hobby than a living. It will always be a part of me. Lean Into Change has the potential to help so many people and businesses. I’m excited to see where this takes me and how it serves my community.

I’ve started a series that is available on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram called Sundays with Sunday. I bring a weekly message each Sunday that can help folks get through their week a little smoother. I talk about how to reframe, how to choose positivity, how to communicate effectively, how to make self-care a priority, and how to set boundaries. They are short messages under 5 minutes and told with realness, vulnerability and promise from me that I’m walking the walk not just talking the talk. My subject matter comes to me organically each week, so that what I’m saying is real to my own experiences and told with authenticity. 

I want to find my voice to help other people rediscover themselves after divorce. I’d like to talk about forgiving yourself for the allowances you made, and how to rebound from co-dependency. I want to talk about how alcoholism can impact a family, and how that same family can detach from the alcoholism. I’m figuring out how that will happen. Right now a book is in the works, perhaps speaking engagements? I’m finding it, and as I heal myself, I see an opportunity to share my story in a way that will help others find their own ways forward. As I say, life can be hard, so lean in to the hard stuff and I promise beauty is on the horizon.

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Image Credits

Toby’s Dinner Theatre production of Spamalot

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