LIFE coach Julie Lambert doesn’t tell people she’s a former beauty queen.

“It’s was so long ago now,” she says. “It’s just not really relevant.” But after persistent probing she reluctantly offers up the facts. “Yes, she was Miss Auckland in the early 1980s.

Yes, she was Miss New Zealand runner-up shortly after, and yes, following that, she was Miss Universe New Zealand runner-up, too.

“Most of my friends here wouldn’t know that,” Julie laughs. “I mean there’s no reason to tell people. And besides, beauty pageants are seen differently to how they were then.” But she says her stint in the beauty industry, which included modelling in New Zealand and Hong Kong was very short.

“I found that world vacuous. There are many different forms of beauty and how someone is inside is far more important,” she says. “But it did give me valuable tools in things like public speaking, which have been invaluable.”

Julie’s work life has included a diverse array of roles, including work as an international stager and events planner, as an author of two books (with a third under way), and, in a role that has solidly threaded its way through her past decade or two, as a life coach.

Julie now lives in Ohope with her husband, Frenchman Christophe Lambert, who, appointed last year by Tennis New Zealand as the country’s national coach, is largely based in Auckland.

The couple’s arrival in New Zealand signalled a return home for Julie who, after leaving her home town of Auckland at the age of 25, had lived in Britain for 21 years before moving to China, and later Canada, after Christophe left his role as performance coach for England’s Lawn Tennis Association and took up positions with Canada’s National Tennis Federation as well as coaching individual players in China.

“I’ve always travelled a lot because sometimes it was the only way to see Christophe,” she says. “He was frequently accompanying players on tour.” But living now in Ohope, Julie hasn’t travelled out of the country for a couple of years, a record, she says, and one that she is happy with.

“I’m so perfectly happy in Ohope.” Having left the fierce winters of Toronto, she knew she wanted to live in a seaside town. “And when we visited this area, I knew straight away that this was where I wanted to be.”

Julie has been life coaching for 17 years, drawn to the role initially by a feeling that it was a perfect fit. “And it is,” she says. “I absolutely love life coaching and while I do have laughs with clients, it is usually deeply moving.

“It’s about helping people to unravel problems, to climb out of feeling stuck and frustrated by seeing a bigger vista and having a neutral ear to table ideas. It can be life-changing for my clients. Helping people to begin the dialogue to see what the real problems are, and finding ways forward, is a wonderful way to be able to help people.”

Julie began her practice in Britain, coaching what she describes as a wide range of people; a magistrate, a member of parliament, award-wining newspaper columnists, people dealing with health issues or family disputes and people looking to change careers or start their own businesses. “It was incredibly varied,” she says.

She also ran “walking-coaching” sessions for a handful of clients who were desperately keen to lose weight. “There is nothing better than marching around the English countryside at the same time as looking at limiting beliefs and ideas resulting in ah-ha moments.”

She has also worked with athletes, including a tennis player in the Chinese men’s national team, a professional player in Britain, and recently, a young New Zealand athlete. “Working with sports people is fascinating because understanding thought processes plays a crucial role in winning.

“I coach face to face, but I also do a lot by phone or by skype, especially when my clients are in another country.”

After moving to Canada, Julie also took on roles as an executive coach for companies, running workshops in mind mastery and hosting group life coaching and meditation workshops.

She says what led her to graduate as a life coach had unfolded in an unusual way. After an impromptu healing experience with her retired and injured greyhound dog back in 1999, Julie went on to train as a spiritual healer through the College of Psychic Studies in London.

She went on to run a healing clinic within a doctor’s practice, donation only, two afternoons a week. She had been teaching meditation classes to the nurses at the practice and the idea had evolved from there.

“Incredibly,” she says, doctors at the practice agreed to trial the clinic for three months. She says it went on to run for many years, continuing with another healer when Julie eventually left to go abroad.

“The clinic was busy. I realised a lot of people were showing symptoms of illness that were actually due to what they were thinking, their stress and worry and grief, their sadness and fear and repressed anger. I started to look for additional ways to help them.

“Using healing energy was wonderful to aid the body’s natural healing system but I realised it was important to get to the real source of the problem, and that’s what led me into life coaching.

“It was fascinating that one could make such a huge difference in such a short space of time.” She is grateful too that she has a spiritual underpinning to draw on for those clients who wish it.

Julie has published two books. Angels Carry Umbrellas, which tells of her own life experiences, was shortlisted for the Ashton Wylie Unpublished Manuscript Award in New Zealand, and Hand Me That Umbrella, which includes over 40 stories from people from New Zealand and around the world who have experienced profound events.

She is currently working on a third book targeted at younger readers. “I’m concerned about the high rates of depression for young people in this country and this is a positive book with them in mind.” Julie works under the name Falling Upright, and can be contacted through website www.fallingupright.com

By Lorraine Wilson