Monday, April 30, 2012

It's liberating!

At least two times in the past couple months I’ve been asked to what age I would return if I had a magic wand to make that happen. Each time my answer has been, “I like my age now. I wouldn’t return to an earlier age for anything.”

Then last Tuesday I heard author Anna Quindlen talk about her life as remembered in her new book, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. She, too, said she likes where she is right now—approaching age 60.

“Why?” she was asked by the show’s host.

Her answer resonated with me: Because, she said, most of my life I worried about whether I was doing things right, whether I was even doing the right thing; and I had all those voices inside me (and outside me). Now I don’t care anymore. I am not “backstopping” myself anymore, she said. I know I’m just fine. And it’s so liberating, she added.

Yes! Yes, that’s it exactly. It is liberating. It is incredibly liberating to reach an age where you know you are enough. You are good enough. You are enough to face whatever comes you way. You know enough to gather the resources and support you need. You have enough experience under your belt and know you can do what’s needed.

Anna Quindlen is right: It is liberating! Please share your stories about this below. I’d love to hear how you came to a place of liberation.

If you don’t yet feel that confident, don’t worry. It’s a process. Start today. Contact me if you would like a complimentary, no-obligation consultation so we can talk about letting go of “shoulds” and messages that hold you back.

Friday, April 27, 2012

What's weight got to do with it?

I know a woman who has a very successful career, one she loves. It's also one with high stress. One of the side effects of the high stress and fast pace of her career is that she often eats meals on the run.

Meals on the run often mean foods you can grab quickly. Sometimes it means fast food. It surely also has an impact on the digestive process. The end result is more weight than she ever wanted to add.

What's a woman to do? We all know that eating in a healthy way takes more time. Shopping takes longer if we stop to read labels. Preparing vegetables and fruits takes longer than zapping a pot pie in the microwave or stopping at McDonald's.

Eating in a healthy manner is often more expensive as well. So for those on a tight budget, healthy eating is a more difficult option.

What's a woman to do, indeed? We all want to be healthy. We don't want additional weight to plague us. And we women don't want our self-image to be affected by our weight. That's an uphill struggle, too, because of all the societal messages around us.

I'd love to hear what you think about these issues. Weight. Self-image. Healthy eating. How do you balance it all in your life? Please share your ideas in the Comment box  below.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I feel disconnected

I am doing most of this week's blogs from my fiance's home and his computer. My computer's internet connection went down early Monday morning. And I'm told no repair person can come out till mid-week. And I am feeling totally disconnected!

I can't check any of my email accounts. I can't write my blogs from home or prepare my next month's ezine.

Isn't it interesting how completely connected most of us are by our devices? I'm less so than many people I know. But still I feel extremely frustrated. Everything I had planned to do the early days of this week has been changed.

OK. What else can we do at such times but chill out and go with the flow? Find some other way to get done what absolutely needs to be done ... and let go of some of the rest.

These blogs needed to be done. But perhaps I'll just take this opportunity to clean out my files. Now there's a job needing to be done, one that's easy to put off.

What do you do when you get stalled out with your plans? Do you find it easy to reschedule and reformulate? Remember the serenity prayer about accepting what we can't change and changing what we can? That's a good one to post at work, at home and anywhere we need the reminder.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Be direct

A friend told me last week that she learned a valuable lesson about being direct and going to the source.

An acquaintance of hers was diagnosed with cancer, and she wanted to know how that woman was doing. She was about to ask yet another friend about it when her husband suggested she go directly to the woman with the cancer. My friend did that, paying a visit to the acquaintance. It turned out that the woman hadn't had many visitors and was most grateful for this visit.

My friend said it taught her a valuable lesson about being direct. Are you afraid to talk with others when the news is bad? Sometimes it's easy to avoid people who have received bad news, whether a medical diagnosis or a job lost. And it becomes a lost chance to connect, support and encourage another. 

We women can be each other's strong supporters and encouragers. Sometimes we just need to get past our own discomfort and be direct. It's been said that men are better at being direct than we women. It could well be. But we are also quick learners--and we can definitely change that pattern.

Resolve today to go straight to the source rather than to a third party. Who knows what type of rich encounter or friendship may ensue?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What makes your heart sing?

Are you at a crossroad between jobs or careers? Perhaps you've been downsized. Or maybe you simply quit your job because it was sucking the life right out of you. I hear both those stories a lot these days. And I hear women saying they just aren't sure what to do next. One thing they do know for sure: They want a career or job that makes their heart sing!

You might reflect on two questions to help you generate ideas and try to find your passion.

1) What do you want to do when you retire? Women typically don't retire and do nothing. Many of you volunteer. Many of you reinvent yourselves and try out an entirely new career, using gifts and talents you may not have used before. Why wait? Perhaps that retirement career is calling you right now. Think about it.

2) What do you want to do before you die? As you make your list, something just might emerge that leads to career ideas.

If you are seeking a new career that follows your yearnings and passions, take the time you need. Ask the questions. Talk with others. Explore options with a coach. And please contact me should you wish a no-obligation, complimentary strategy session. Remember, most coaching can be done by phone so you need not live in my area.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What's your story?

Last Friday I attended an all-day conference for female entrepreneurs sponsored by the small business center of a local community college and the YWCA.

Presenters shared information on a broad range of topics from marketing to legal guidelines to the personality characteristics needed to be an entrepreneur and more. We participants walked away with valuable tips, ideas and facts. And we were given many opportunities to network with each other and with the vendors who were staffing exhibits, too.

Despite the value of all those things, do you know what the best part of the day turned out to be? At the end of the first large-group session, one woman suggested we go around the room and each very briefly tell what we did and how we got there. Tell our stories, in other words. I was amazed to hear what ventures (and adventures!) these women were undertaking. So many of us had been downsized. Some had left corporate jobs voluntarily. All were seeking a way to use their talents in a way that not only gave them joy but gave meaning to others and themselves.

I came away so inspired and energized. As I talked with other participants, they said the same thing. Stories inspire. Stories give us hope that we, too, can achieve. That we, too, can follow our dreams.

What's your story? What's your dream? Go ahead—follow it, if you haven't already. You can do it!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Limbo time

For many of my clients, that time between what is and what they want is the most difficult. Time in the cocoon. Transition time. Fallow time. Limbo time. Whatever you call it, it's messy and difficult, and it takes more patience than many of us have.

If you are a caterpillar crawling around on the ground, that's all you know. You know what to expect. And when you're the butterfly soaring from flower to flower, that's the life you know. You probably don't remember the crawling days!

But that time in between—time in the cocoon—when you're neither a caterpillar nor yet a butterfly. That's messy. It's a time not to be rushed. A lot is happening inside that cocoon.

You know what happens if you try let the butterfly out of the cocoon before it emerges on its own. It dies. That also happens if you try to force the butterfly to fly before its wings have dried off and the entire transformational process is finished.

So it is with you. Sometimes you just need to be in that cocoon, that limbo time. Life changes and transformations are a process. I invite you to do all you can to be comfortable with that time, to let it be what it needs to be. Breathe deeply. Take up yoga. Recite mantras. Do whatever it takes to be calm and open—open to all the new possibilities! Let the change happen.

Where are you now? Where would you like to be? Contact me if you have a life change you'd like to work on.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Accepting yourself

If you're like most women, you can be pretty hard on yourself. Harder than you would ever be on a friend. More critical. Less accepting. Not cutting yourself any slack. Seeing flaws and not seeing all the wonderful aspects of you.

Are you ready to change that? Can you begin loving yourself and accepting all of you—the things you like and those you don't?

Begin today. Perhaps you want to post some affirmations on your mirror to remind yourself of what you really like about you. Just begin with one thing, if it's difficult to think of several right now. Write that down where you can see it often. You might even want to put a note in your purse so you can take it out at work or wherever you are—just to remind yourself to be gentle and loving.

Two books I found helpful as I learned to love and accept myself are: Imagine a Woman in Love with Herself by Patricia Lynn Reilly and Loving Yourself More by Virginia Ann Froehle.

I encourage you to find one thing today that can start you on the path to accepting yourself. You can become that beautiful butterfly you were meant to be—no more crawling along the ground as a caterpillar!

Please contact me if you'd like to talk about this. And do share your stories in the comment box below. We need to encourage each other!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2 views on career choices

Doing what you love. Loving what you do. Ah, that has such a wonderful ring, doesn't it? And a wonderful feel in the body as well!

Here's the thing, though: Not everyone chooses to turn their passion into their career. You can look at the choice in at least two different ways (you may find a third way).

1) You might choose to switch careers and do what you love. Many women at some point in their lives—and especially in the later years of a career—say "No" to jobs that don't excite and fulfill them. They want to do something that brings them joy. Something with meaning. A job that makes their heart sing.

2) Or you might decide to keep your career, especially if you have a good salary and benefits package—and just spend less time at it so you can do what you love as a hobby in your free time. Call it "golden handcuffs" if you will—but it can be a win-win solution. You have a salary package that works, and you create more time for your passion to become a hobby. Perhaps you decide to work four days a week rather than five. Or perhaps you simply stop throwing yourself 150 percent into your job—not bringing work home at night and on weekends. The point is to create room in your life to follow your passion. Reduce your stress. Ratchet up your joy quotient!

You choose. What will work for you? What will bring you joy and still let you maintain a living?

Need help deciding? Please contact me for a no-obligation, complimentary strategy session.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Both/and thinking

With which kind of thinking are you most familiar: both/and OR either/or? 

Most of us are more fluent in one of those "languages" than in the other. I'll admit it; I've spent too much of my life speaking "either/or." Now I'm trying to become more fluent in "both/and." For example, in my days of dieting, I was either on a diet or I was off. If I "fell off the wagon" and ate something I didn't think I should have, I'd consider myself well and truly off the diet. That could easily lead to this thought process: "Well, as long as I'm off my diet (and have messed up), I might as well eat this and this, too." And then I was really off! And somehow it seemed more difficult to get back on plan.

What difference does it make? How different it would have been had I said, "I am on a diet. And I just ate something I wish I hadn't. It's OK. That happens sometimes. I'm still on a diet. I'll just get right back to it again."

Living in both/and land allows for more possibilities. It's more positive. It makes a difference in attitude. Two things can be true at the same time—I can watch my weight by limiting my calorie intake AND I can eat something that adds more calories to my day than I'd wanted. It doesn't have to mean the end of my weight-watching. It doesn't mean I'm bad. I don't have to see myself or my actions in a negative way. I don't need to beat myself up.

In what ways do you favor one or the other type of thinking? How does it affect your life? I'd love to hear your insights.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The best and worst of women

Last week I heard a discussion on TV about women's choices: those who choose to work outside the home and those who are stay-at-home moms (and work inside the home!). The discussion arose from an unfortunate comment made in the political arena. It reminded me of how we women sometimes get divided into camps. I've done both: been a stay-at-home mom and later, a career woman. And I strongly believe in the value of each. More important, I respect each woman's choice.

As women, we can be so supportive and nurturing to one another. On the other hand, we can sabotage one another in ways that cut more deeply than any other wounds we might receive. Our relationships are so complex, aren't they?

As I received promotions in a former workplace, I had to contend with a certain amount of sexism and male privilege. However much that angered or distressed me, it never hurt as deeply as when other women cut me down (or cut me up!). Those experiences made me look at my own behavior, too. In what ways did (do) I do that to my sisters?

I want to be a supporter of other women—not a saboteur. How about you? In what ways do you encourage and support other women? And have you ever pulled the rug out from under another woman? Or had others do that to you? Let's see if we can draw out the best in each other.

I'd love to hear your experiences and thoughts about the best and worst of women. Please add them to the Comment box below.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tend and befriend

Studies have shown that in times of stress, women respond in a
different way than men. Men tend to withdraw (or sometimes to fight)
while women engage in nurturing, befriending behavior. This concept is
often referred to as "tend and befriend" for women and "fight or flee"
for men. (And, of course, there are always exceptions.)

Generally, however, women are very good at tending to others and
befriending one another when faced with stressful situations.

The surveys and news articles about the studies point out that some
men go on a rampage when under extreme stress whereas women will turn
to others to give and receive mutual support and nurturing. Women will
nurture the family (tend) when stressed and will typically reach out
to a social group (befriend).

Do you have a good community of women to support you as you go through
change? If not, can you create one? It's so essential to get
encouragement and support when you are stressed (and even when you're

My hope is that this website, especially through this blog, can be a
place where we tend and befriend one another. I invite you to
regularly leave your comments and tips so we can learn from each other
and support each other. Thank you for that. I learn from you and value
your support, too. Each of us has wisdom to share.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Getting sidetracked

So many women tell me that it's difficult to follow their dreams and pursue their goals because they have so many others in their life who need their help and attention. One woman has an adult child with depression who requires a lot of attention. "This doesn't feel like the empty nest I thought I'd have," she says. "I don't feel I can pursue things I want to do."

Another woman has family members who constantly come to her with their problems, and she feels so responsible to help. "I can't just ignore their pain," she says. "But I do have some needs and wants of my own, too."

Yet another woman spends a lot of her time, when she's not at her full-time job, checking on her elderly parents and helping out. "I might not have them around much longer," she says. "I need to do everything I can now." Of course.

Carrying others' burdens
Do you resonate with any of these women? Women are often the caregivers, the ones responsible for the well-being of families and communities. It's easy to get sidetracked and carry the burdens of others, even when you're not asked to do so.

And it's easy to become resentful and wonder, "When is it my time?"

Some situations simply do need your attention and time. Can you carve out some time for yourself even when you're in the midst of a demanding situation? Are you able to at least start creating your dream?

And if you're choosing to tend to others but don't necessarily have to do so, can you change what you're doing? A spiritual director once told me to carry my loved ones in my heart—but not carry all their problems on my back. If that's a choice you can make, I encourage you to do so. 

See if you can find a way to move toward your dreams. Even one or two steps can bring you hope. When the time is right, you'll be ready to pursue them full-time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bring barriers down

Are you where you want to be? Doing what you desire?

If not, now might be a good time to stop and take stock. Can you identify one or more barriers to changing your life? What gets in your way? Fear? Of what? Or does money stop you? Or perhaps someone close to you doesn't want you to change—and you're afraid of what might happen to the relationship if you do.

The power of naming
Once you name things, whether they are barriers or fears, you remove their power over you. Then you have a choice: Do you want to remove the barriers and fears? Or do you want to leave your dreams unfulfilled, your goals unmet? Can you stay in your current situation and be OK with that?

If you are ready to make some change and you have identified a barrier, make plans to bring it down. Be sure to make your plan manageable. Break everything down into bite-sized chunks so you don't get into overwhelm mode when you think about moving forward.  

And if you cannot make any changes now, find a way to change your attitude to one of peace in your current situation. Do whatever is possible to make it the best it can be—for now.

If you need help, please contact me. We can set up a complimentary strategy session.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chocolate, anyone?

I just finished reading Live Big! By Katie Brazelton, a book given to me by a friend. One of the chapters is titled “Eat Dessert First.” I love that idea. Don’t you?

In fact, sometimes when I’ve finished a meal in a restaurant and am asked whether I want dessert (and I’m full and have no room for a luscious chocolate dessert of some type), I laughingly say, “Next time I’ll start with dessert and then we’ll see if I have any room left for an entrée.” I’ve never actually done it, however.

Perhaps it’s time to start!

What Brazelton really invites readers to do is to make memories with those we love, celebrate gifts, treasure little blessings and take time to play.

Are you so focused on being productive that you don’t smell the roses? Do you feel guilty if you read a book during the day? Or take a nap? Do you have any time to play?

Let’s start today to embrace joy! Find time to play. Eat dessert first.

Chocolate chip brownie, anyone?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Help! Change is scary

Are you making changes in your life? Do you have the support you need
to make them?

Change isn't easy. Sometimes it's downright scary. For some people,
it's more difficult than for others. In some cases, you have chosen
the change: accepted a new job, married, moved to a new home. At other
times, you had the change forced upon you: an illness, death of a
loved one, job loss.

It doesn't matter how the change arrived at your doorstep. Just be
sure you get what you need to support you in making the transition—in
doing the grieving for whatever you've lost (even when the change is
good, you lose things), in letting go of the old and in accepting and
moving on to the new.

If you are fortunate enough to have someone in your life who can
support you, ask directly for whatever help you need. Perhaps you even
want to write out an informal contract with her or him, spelling out
what you need or would like for support. This is not the time for
assumptions. Nor is it the time for being a martyr or holding back. Be

Seek out the resources you need. Don't be afraid to ask.

And if you want help, please contact me. We can begin with a no-obligation, complimentary strategy session.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Shifting moods

I had a couple of down days recently. I just felt out of sorts, at odds with life. Not miserable but not my usual positive self either. A bit cranky. Discouraged.

It wasn't as though something had really gone wrong. There was no single issue I could address or problem I could solve to improve things.

I did what I've learned to do these past years: took out my Gratitude Journal and started writing. My hand hovered with the pen over the page quite a while before I could even begin writing. But once I started, I knew I had plenty for which to be grateful. As I wrote, I thought about each thing and savored it. Sunshine. Oh, yes, I love sunny days. My grandchildren. Ah, what joy they bring to my life. A career I love. Yes, what delight that brings! My fiancé. I am happy having a partner share my life journey.
As I listed those things for which I was thankful, something inside me shifted so I could get back on track.

Real depression is different
I am not suggesting that you can or should simply talk yourselves out of down days. Acknowledge them. See if there is some basis for them and change what you can. Just be with what's real. And then, if it's possible, refocus. If you can, look at the glass half full. Be grateful.

I am also not talking about clinical depression. I have many friends who live with depression, and I know that thinking positive thoughts isn't the answer. That's a different situation entirely. I'm referring to garden-variety bad moods and down days.

What do you do to get back on track at such times? What helps you? Please share your tips with us.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I don't even know the questions

Some time ago a friend told me, "I'm really not happy with my life right now. But I don't even know how to fix it. I don't even know the questions I should be asking."
Ever feel like that? I have. It's one thing to have the questions and no answers. It's quite another to not yet have the questions.

It's really OK, though. It's not always a comfortable place to be. But it really is a place of possibility. Like an empty bowl.

Start with what is
What is real for you right now? Write down what you like about your life. Write what you don't like. Keep those two lists around.

Then switch up some things in your life. Take different routes to get places. Try new things. New foods. See movies you wouldn't typically see. Try new activities. Read books you wouldn't typically pick up. Do the same things differently. Hang out with some new friends as well as your usual crowd.

Sometimes you just have to change the patterns in your life so new ideas can bubble up. Imagine holding out that empty bowl. See what starts to fill it. Talk with other women. Share with all of us in the Comment box below; let's begin a conversation. 

And don't be like my friend, who also told me, "I can't sign up for coaching with you because I don't even know what to talk about." I've had that happen with clients before, and, together, we are able to drill down to the questions that are buried deep inside. So contact me for a no-obligation, complimentary strategy session—even if you don't yet know the questions!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

'What's your assignment?'

Two years ago last month, I attended an amazing women's conference in
Mobile, Alabama. Called Womenspeak 2010, the conference included
keynote addresses, workshops, singing, round-table discussions and
more. So much about spending those three days with women from around
the globe stays with me.

One thing that really stands out, however, is when keynoter, author
and psychiatrist Jean Shinoda Bolen asked us, "What's your assignment?
What did you come into the world to do?"

What's your assignment? Have you ever thought about that? Perhaps
you haven't asked the question in quite that way. I hadn't. It's
always good to ask a question in several different ways, though,
because you look at them differently when they're reworded.

Recently I read a comment by another author, Linda Douty, who urges,
"Don't die with your music still in you."

If you aren't doing what you came to do—and if your music is still
in you—start today thinking about how you can change that. One step
at a time, you can reach your dreams and goals. You can find "your
assignment". I would be honored to be part of that journey if you want
a coach to partner with you. Contact me today for a no-obligation,
complimentary strategy session.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Luxury—or necessity?

This morning I'm going to have my regularly scheduled therapeutic
massage. And this afternoon I have an appointment with my chiropractor.

I do both on a regular schedule because they keep my spine
aligned and prevent unnecessary back pain. The deep tissue massages
loosen up knots in my neck and back, release toxins in my body and
restore my balance. The chiropractor's adjustments keep me flexible
and more agile than I'd otherwise be.

There was a time when I would have done such things on an as-needed
basis (and the need would not have occurred often!). Well, truthfully,
I wouldn't even have done massages at all, seeing them as a luxury item.

Now, however, I see self-care as essential. Self-care involves all
of me—body, mind and spirit. Each one of those needs different things,
from exercise and healthy food to relaxation techniques to quiet time
with my energy source. Some things care for all of me, such as massages.
Massages don't feel like a luxury anymore. I know what a difference they
make to my body, mind and spirit.

What do you do for your self-care? Do you need to carve out time for
more? Are you at burnout right now? If you are, please don't wait.

Take care of yourself today; you are worth it!

Monday, April 2, 2012

From drudgery to delight

Several of my current clients tell me that they are at a point in
their careers where they've had their fill of jobs that are OK but not
fulfilling. They want to do something now that makes their heart sing!
And, frankly, some of them talk about their current jobs as not even
"just OK"—they're pure drudgery.

I hear the same from retired women I coach. They want volunteer work
or a part-time job that brings joy and delight—and work that's

Do you resonate with that longing?

Last week I talked about life's "shoulds." You will always have some
things you must and should do. And not everything you do will bring
you joy and pleasure.

However, you can stop "shoulding" on yourself. And you can start
bringing more joy and delight into your career and your life. When you
do, you will gain energy. You will feel happier—and it will be
contagious. Can you imagine the difference in your life even when you
think about it?

What one or two changes can you make today to move from drudgery to
delight? Name them. Create an action plan to get there.

Contact me if you want help doing that. I invite you to sign up
for my three free gifts and my monthly ezine, too—where I talk a lot about
how you can make changes in your life.