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Coach Rita Sonntag with her cat, while recovering from cancer

Meet Rita

Through my personal experience, I have been shown many times how fragile our time here is. 

I have survived Stage 3, Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I am still learning to thrive after my cancer experience.

I care deeply for humanity and enjoy assisting others to get in tune with what impassions them.

I am compassionate, empathetic, and focused.

I have a natural, light-hearted enthusiasm for life and healthy living. I love to learn and laugh.

The practice of silence is key for my spiritual life and rejuvenation, it is also one of the ways I am able to serve others, by listening.


I have the courage to address difficult subjects with hope and a vision for what is on the horizon.

 This is vital to living an honest,      grounded, connected, life.

I am trustworthy, with your confidence, comfortable holding a calm, safe space for where you are now, and the vision of where you want to be.

I have lived those values through decades of work in the healing and fitness fields, as an Emergency Room, Labor & Delivery, and Hospice Nurse, as a Massage Therapist, a Swim Instructor, as a Behavioral Change Instructor in a weight loss program.  

As a member of the management team in the Emergency Room, I was asked to create a bonding, morale-building, fun activity for the staff. I organized and ran a Biggest Loser contest over three months. The staff and I loved it!  For three months, the participants shared their health challenges with me and we worked one on one to overcome them, I held a weekly health quiz and obtained great prizes from our town for the quiz winners. Running this contest made me realize how much I loved helping other people transform their lives.

The gradual transformation for them came through awareness, accountability, support, and tweaking some fitness behaviors. I was thrilled that my coaching helped them become healthier and have fun doing it.

I believe in compassion in action and have volunteered at a children’s grief camp, went on an exploratory medical mission in Guatemala, and did home visits to help Spanish-only speakers follow through and understand care instructions after discharge from the hospital.  I have also volunteered for the last three Presidential campaigns.


I have also volunteered to aid people newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Cancer and its profound effects have been in my family's life since I was a child.  My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was seven and died when I was fifteen. We lost my “little” brother when he was thirty-nine.  Another sister and brother are survivors, like me. We have also lost a brother and a sister-in-law to cancer.

Long before my existence was threatened by cancer I lived a free, active, do-it-now, play-filled life, ok-I worked a whole lot, too.

My life was, and is again, fun, connected to community, and I feel vibrant and alive!

I reminded myself to Say Yes Now,
even when I wanted to say no and stay in my cozy home.

The fragility of life motivates me to not wait for someday, to follow my heart today.

For example, a couple of months after my last cancer treatment, I left my cozy home to walk the El Camino de Santiago in Spain. I had read about it in a Shirley MacLaine book as a teenager and it was on my bucket list, for decades.


I was exhausted before I even started walking but I had just survived an aggressive cancer and it was possibly a now or never situation.

I loved being outside every day, meeting people from all over the world, the quiet walking meditation, and relished speaking a bit of Spanish.  I had fun and to be honest, struggled a bit too-as my feet really hurt. I am happy and proud that I was able to walk the first 100 miles of the Camino!

I did it!

Spinner Dolphins

My Joys & How I Live Life Now

  • Dancing & swimming make me feel happy & free.
  • I am an avid Pickleball player.
  • I love playing board games with family.
  • I lived six years in my favorite state, Hawaii.
  • I learned to surf on the North Shore of Oahu.
  • I lived twelve years in my favorite town, Charlottesville, VA.
  • I have completed a dozen+ open water swims, the longest was 2.4 miles! 
  • I have completed 4 triathlons and a few 10k’s, my goal is just to finish as I am a super slow runner. 
  • One of my favorite part-time jobs was coaching triathletes stroke techniques so they could be faster more efficient swimmers.
  • I have traveled to 7 countries and 26 states-so far.
  • At dawn, while living on the Big Island of Hawaii, I would often swim out from shore and was blessed to share many of my morning swims with spinner dolphins. Those swims were one of my life’s most treasured amazing adventures.
Click photo to view it larger & read my story.

Life & Family

I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, went to high school in Washington, D.C.


The seventh of eight children. I currently have twenty five nieces and nephews (includes Greats)!


ACC Credentialed Coach

by the International Coaching Federation (ICF)

Earned Certificate in LifeCoaching, and Health and Wellness Coaching

  • MentorCoach, an ICF Accredited Coach Training Program, in Bethesda, MD

Registered Nurse since 1999

  • The first half of my career was as a Labor and Delivery Nurse, and a bit of Hospice Nursing, too.

  • The last half was as an Emergency Room Nurse

Earned a B.S. in Nursing

  • University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA

Earned a B.S. in Psychology

  • Towson University in Towson, MD

Massage Therapy Certification

  • Specialized in Craniosacral & Energetic Osteopathy

Under Water

Ready to explore your options?

  • What coaching is all about

  • What you are looking for now

  • Cover the coaching process and fees

  •  Happy to answer any questions you have

Schedule your 45-minute complimentary
coaching session to discuss:

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