If you asked Michelle Hillier at what point in her life she felt most like herself, she’d tell you about working as a professional dancer on a cruise ship at age 24. She spent a year abroad, learning, growing, exploring new opportunities and destinations, and meeting people from all over the world. The experience opened her eyes to what was possible in her life and helped her to cultivate a deep sense of empathy.
But over the next 20 years, Hillier found she didn’t recognize herself anymore. Indifference, job changes, relationships that didn’t serve her, pain and health issues, the grief of losing her parents to death and dementia, motherhood, and addiction found her unable to connect with her authentic self anymore. She used her work—her thriving mind-body education and speaking business—and alcohol as her escapes. And then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and her work life came to a standstill. She leaned hard into alcohol to cope. Within six months, she reached her breaking point.
When we are at our lowest, we are presented with a clear choice: to stay down on the ground or take the first, small step of our ascent back to happiness. Hillier refused to remain stagnant and decided to seek help and start her recovery journey. Sobriety forced her to reassess and reexamine everything she had become. In her own words, she refers to the process as “burning the house down to find a home.”
By attending a treatment center for 30 days and then continuing the work once she returned to her life, she was able to rediscover her sense of calm and reignite the fire within her that had once burned so brightly. Hillier’s journey of self-discovery led to the creation of Breath+Fire, a new platform that helps other people recognize the gaps in their lives and make a plan to find who they truly are again. Breath+Fire offers an exclusive group coaching program called Homecoming, one-on-one coaching, speaking and workshop facilitation, content creation, and more. Hillier is determined that no one should have to suffer as she did in order to discover their true path in life.
Hillier knows that her struggle is not an isolated case, and her message is clear: The situation is never too far gone to get help. She uses learning points from her own life experiences in combination with movement, meditation, and personal reflection to help participants find their own inner flames again. Her unique strategy involves paying attention to “breath,” or calmness, while at the same time helping to reignite the “fire,” or passion, inside.
Now, Hillier sees the world through the eyes of the person she was on that cruise liner when she felt free, grateful, and driven by compassion. Hillier’s hope is that she can help others successfully navigate their own journeys towards the ultimate destination: happiness.