The Swell Life Story

Hi, I’m Amanda, the founder of Swell Life, LLC.  Swell Life was born out of my own experience as a Type-A overachiever who had checked all of the life boxes (Ivy League education, marriage, home ownership, professional advancement…) and found myself wondering why I still didn’t feel fulfilled.

I am awesome at setting big goals and achieving them.  I’m super at pushing harder and beating myself up. Because of this, I’ve had multiple experiences with burnout in my life and each has had a common pattern:  I push, I burn out, I don’t know I’ve burned out until my body tells me, I hit reset, do a bunch of inner work, and move in a direction that brings me joy.

The first of these experiences happened at the end of my sophomore year at the college I thought I “should” go to.  I pushed myself hard to fit in in an environment that was so opposite of who I was that I ended up being hit so hard by depression that I couldn’t get out of bed.  

I took the next year to reset.  I lived at home and applied to a smaller school in Southern California.  The next two years were fabulous, I met the ladies I still consider to be my best friends, studied by the pool, and re-discovered my love for being outside.  

After graduation, I took the job I thought I “should” take (you’ll notice a pattern here).  As a business consultant, I traveled every week from Portland to the Bay Area. There were a lot of things I loved about this job, but it wasn’t healthy for me.  Leaving at 5am every Monday morning to get on an airplane to not return until Friday really took a toll. I ended up having panic attacks. There’s actually a pretty funny story about the first one that I’ll tell you about sometime.  

After some soul searching I realized that what I really wanted to do was to become a professional camp counselor.  Since that’s not really a thing, I picked something that seemed stable. A pretty good “should”. I went back to school to become a teacher.  

I started to hit the burnout stage around year 5 and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  So, I earned a doctoral degree. And several years later became an assistant principal.

Then recently, life gave me a serious ass-kicking with the death of a close family member.  I realized that there was no way I could continue to live my life at full throttle the way I had been.  I hit reset, turned inward, and created a business I’m passionate about.

I’m using my experiences with burnout, reset, and all of the personal development work I’ve done to help other high-achieving women recover from burnout and build lives they love.  

I’m super stoked to have created Swell Life Retreats, where we use the experience of learning to surf to help women discover what is holding them back (inner critic, anyone?) from living a life they love plus skills necessary for getting there.

These retreats aren’t for everyone, but if you love challenge and want to start living your life more from joy and less from fear, we should talk.  Or if you know a woman who would love this work, please share this with her.

Swell Life was born out of my passion to help other women slow down, carve away what’s not necessary, and create the lives they truly want to be living.  It can be so easy to get caught up in others’ expectations, whether it’s from specific people in our lives or society in general. We create lives based on “shoulds” and “have tos” when really our lives should come from joy and “YESSSS!”

Our generation has been told we can have it all, and we’re learning that’s true, but there’s a price.  We constantly feel exhausted and behind in all areas of our life when we try. Taking care of ourselves goes out the window in order to get everything else done. Our perfectionistic tendencies that got us the good grades, the good jobs, and the praise and approval are now crushing our health, friendships, and well-being.  

I believe we can each live the life of our dreams. I’m working on mine and would love to hear more about how you are working on yours. Be a part of the Swell Life community on facebook and instagram to join the conversation!

Amanda Ryan Fear, D.Ed. is a women’s leadership coach and the founder of Swell Life, LLC. She is passionate about helping women live their lives by design rather than default and believes that each woman has the inner wisdom and power to live her own most joyful life. By stepping into our big, badass lives we can change the world.

Amanda has 15 years of experience as an educator of children and adults and has led hundreds of workshops and trainings. Prior to starting her education career she worked as a business process consultant for several years. After getting her butt kicked by life over and over again, Amanda has found that listening to her heart rather than trying to fit a mold of who she thinks she should be has paid off every time. Amanda has completed the Dragontree Life Coaching method through the Dragontree Illuminator Program, is a facilitator of Tara Mohr’s Playing Big Work and a lifelong student of women’s leadership and personal development. In addition to her passions of surfing, riding horses, climbing (mountains and rocks), reading and travel, Amanda is learning how to ski with her 8-year old daughter. She also really likes hanging out at home with her husband, daughter, 4 dogs and 1 cat. Learn more at:

April Hansen, RN

April aims to revolutionize preventative healthcare in our society. For over 20 years she worked tirelessly as a pediatric and adult nurse in the operating room and health clinics across the country. She has devoted her life to the ancient arts and sciences of Ayurveda, Reflexology, Essential Oils and Energy Systems in the body as a passionate educator, holistic health coach and body energy worker. Her clients love her real-life approach, her magnetic joy and her pure presence.  She also enjoys rock climbing, swimming, hiking, swinging from trees and hula hoops.  She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and fur baby, Kitty Shoemaker.

For more information:

Cameron Jones

Cameron Jones taught herself how to surf when she was 13 years old back in her hometown of Virginia Beach after she bought a 6’2” thruster at a pawn shop. Later wanting a longer board for more ease she finally saved up after working summer jobs to buy an old Robert August long board off one of her sisters friends. Recently she accomplished a life long dream of being able to shape her very on surfboard.

Cameron grew up body surfing and swimming in the ocean since she was 5 years old. Her dad, a skilled deep-sea fisherman, taught her to respect the ocean at a young age. Now with over two decades of surfing experience and having taught others how to surf for over a decade she’s excited to teach even more people the love of the ocean and surfing.

Through joyful, intuitive coaching she guides beginners to first learn the basics on the shore such as reading the water, how to pop-up and find the right stance on your board. After that she takes people out in the water to start learning how it feels to be on a board, move around on it, and eventually catch some waves. She’s worked with people who appear to be part fish to those that claim they don’t like being in the water and had successful joyful experiences with them all.

Some people take a lesson to learn and have an experience once in their life; others get hooked and continue to work on their surfing for years to come. All participants walk away with a deeper knowledge of themselves, their capabilities, and often a huge smile on their face that may last for days.