Friday, June 29, 2012

Facing career changes?

Are you struggling with career issues? You may be job-hunting or perhaps you're retiring and wondering about an "encore career" or about how you will spend your days.

I often invite clients to take their focus off a job and focus instead on what they want to be and do in a broader sense. Often I urge them to create a vocational vision that fleshes that out in a meaningful way.

When you can step back from just thinking about a job and see the larger picture, so much more comes into view. It's good to think about what your specific interests and talents are. It's also helpful to think about what most nurtures you and those gifts you possess. What type of setting and colleagues do you find nourishing? What kind of commute can your lifestyle or family situation handle? What kind of hours?

Do you want your career to be meaningful—or do you prefer your work to leave you time and energy for hobbies about which you're passionate?  Some people live to work, and others work to live. You just need to know what's best for you. How does your vocation fit into the rest of your life?

Some questions that might help you think about your vocation are: As a child, what did you always think you would be doing? What do you want to do when you retire? What do you want to do before you die? What do others say about you? What might make you jump out of bed in the morning to do?

Please contact me if you'd like to have a complimentary consultation about career or other life issues. Or select some dates and times on my website calendar.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

You only have this moment

We've all heard it dozens of times. "Stop and smell the roses."

Do you do so? Really?

In my career as a journalist and when my parents were alive but aging and most of my grandchildren were far younger, I kept a pretty frantic pace. I didn't even see the roses much less smell them most of the time! I missed a lot of life's small beauties and miracles as I rushed through life.

After I lost my job and decided to retrain and reinvent as a life coach, I also chose to create a different lifestyle. I want to smell the roses. I want to tend and nurture all the important relationships in my life. I want to live in joy. I want to be awake and aware. I want to live until I die!

But it's so easy to rush through life and miss its beauty, isn't it? We all do have many important things calling for our attention. Our to-do lists are long and growing.

Yet all we really have for sure is the present moment. How do you want to spend this moment? Do you need to make some different choices today? I invite you to do whatever you need to do to pay attention to the beauty all around you. Don't reach life's end filled with regrets. I'm just guessing we won't spend our final hours wishing we'd worked harder or done more housecleaning! Just sayin' ....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Making choices is powerful

Have you ever felt like a victim at work? Or perhaps in some other situation? And have you worn the victim role like a mantle?

I have done that at times. It's really not attractive, is it? Nor is it particularly helpful in moving us toward change. It certainly doesn't make us feel powerful and energized.

Sometimes someone really has taken advantage of us. Or treated us unjustly. Sometimes we are on the receiving end of rude or even cruel behavior. But a victim mentality robs us of our power and keeps us from making choices that can actually change the situation. There are times when we need to have our little pity-party about something that's happened to us. But keep it short—and then move on, crafting ideas for what you could do differently next time.

What might you have done to change the situation or its outcome? What different choice could you have made? Did you need to set some boundaries with a coworker or a family member to avoid feeling victimized? Or is it a situation from which you need to remove yourself to keep from being a victim?

Take charge in whatever ways you can. Use your personal power—and feel the energy and confidence it brings! Share your tips below in the Comment box if you've found ways to avoid the victim mentality trap.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Is it really all-out war?

Last week I watched a TV program for entrepreneurs on creating successful small businesses in this economy. My coaching practice is my second enterprise (years ago I operated a marketing/advertising business). And I know it takes lots of focus and hard work to create something from nothing. So I was fascinated by this hour-long show.

One question and answer stood out. Someone in the audience asked the panel of successful entrepreneurs what they do about their competition. One man on the panel pounced right on the question with a forceful response that said, in effect: It's all-out war. You have to kill the competition. Every day is a battle, and you're out to get them. He sounded off on the topic with war images and strident language.

However, as soon as he finished his response, a woman who has created a very successful business jumped right in to say, "I disagree completely." She went on to say that she never gave a thought to the competition but instead simply focused on how to make her product the best it could be and how to give her buyers just what they wanted and needed. Essentially, she said that she wasn't there to defeat the competition but to attract buyers to a desired and high-quality product.

Their responses could not have been more of a contrast. I completely resonated with what the female entrepreneur said since that's how I operate my coaching practice. It's really all about what my clients want and need. Sessions are all about my clients—helping each person find her wisdom within and moving forward with her dreams and goals.

How would you have answered the question?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Stuck in a rut?

I grew up on a farm, and not all our country roads were graveled when I was a teen driver. So I knew what it was like to get stuck in muddy ruts in the road. I especially knew how important it was to avoid them in the first place! But sometimes that wasn't possible.

Sometimes we can't avoid getting into those stuck places in our lives either. What do you do when you find yourself stuck? Perhaps you've lost your job—or a relationship that was important to you. Or your job duties have changed substantially, and you're not happy about it. And you just can't seem to move on. There are many things in our lives from which it's difficult to transition and move forward.

If you're trying the same thing over and over, and it's just not working to move you ahead, stop. It's just like revving the engine when you're stuck in a muddy rut. You'll just sink deeper and deeper.

Try something new. Change up some things in your life. Do something different for fun. Consider volunteering for something you might not have before. Find a new route for your morning walk. Do something to get out of the rut.

Then make an action plan for letting go of the old, whatever that is, and moving on with your life. Please contact me if you'd like some help creating a plan. Together, we can get your wheels rolling again!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Be a friend to yourself

It's often said that women are their own worst enemies. Sometimes we are much harder on ourselves than anyone else would ever be. We don't think we measure up.

Are you one of those women who engages in negative self-talk? Do you berate yourself for things you've done—or haven't done?

If you are, I invite you to put a stop to it. Today. Wouldn't it be lovely to be your own best friend rather than your own worst enemy?

There are several ways to stop the negative self-talk. One thing I did many years ago that was effective was to envision a stop sign popping up in my mind whenever I heard me saying negative things about myself inside my head. That stop sign operated just as a stop sign along the road would. It stopped me cold in my tracks. Why was I beating up on myself? Was what I said about myself really true? Where did that voice come from? How could I re-word or change the message?

Over time, I was able to change the messages and speak kindly to myself. That little stop sign was a friendly reminder that I was being too hard on myself. It helped me remember that I wouldn't speak to a friend like that. Why would I speak to myself that way?

I'd love to hear your stories about what works for you in dumping the negative self-talk habit. Please tell us in the Comment box below.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Keeping dreams manageable

A client I worked with was such a joy. She was totally committed to being the best she could be, to being all she was created to be. She wanted her life to work as well as it could, and she was willing to do whatever it took to get there.

One day, however, she admitted that she was extremely frustrated because she found herself working on too much at once. It was wearing her down rather than energizing her.

In her enthusiasm, she had wanted to take on everything at once. As we reviewed all the goals, long-term and short-term, that she had for herself, we agreed it was way too much to do all at once. I encouraged her to gather all her goals and dreams together, pull out one or two that held the most energy for her at that moment, and visualize putting all the others into a drawer in her desk and closing it.

The other goals would be in the drawer ready to pull out whenever she felt ready to take those on (but again, not all at one time). Meanwhile, we were able to focus her attention on one or two. Her energy level increased, and she admitted to feeling much more powerful and focused than ever before.

Are you working on too many goals right now? Can you pick one or two to put at the top of your list? And break those down into bite-sized pieces too. Be realistic in what you can handle at one time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Drill down to see what's beneath anxiety

When you are sick, you often take your temperature. When you are feeling anxious or restless, do you ever take your emotional temperature?

Sometimes it's a good idea to just drill down further into your emotions to see what's beneath those feelings of anxiety or restlessness. Try to stay with the feelings rather than ignoring them or trying to get over them. Stay with them and ask questions of yourself: Am I afraid? Am I sad? Am I angry? What's happened lately that might cause or contribute to these feelings? What's really going on?

If you are good at journaling, write it out. If you think best by talking with your partner, spouse or best friend, do that. And here's something you might try: Right-hand, left-hand dialogue. Such dialogue allows you to discover things that are at a subconscious or unconscious level. This format allows the questioner or interviewer part of you to talk with the feeling, emotional part. Use your dominant hand for the interviewer and your non-dominant hand for the emotional you. So the questioner side asks something such as, "What are you feeling right now?" And the non-dominant hand writes whatever emerges, not editing or stopping to think it through—simply writing whatever comes to mind first.

I have done this before and been blown away by the inner thoughts and feelings that emerged. If you'd like help exploring this further, please contact me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What's an "encore career"?

Have you ever heard the term "encore career"? An entire website is devoted to the idea of combining purpose, passion and a paycheck in the second half of life. What you will find on the Encore Career website is information for those who want to "leave the world a better place than you found it."

This is a fascinating idea. As the site says, "If the old golden years dream was the freedom from work, the dream of this new wave is the freedom to work—in new ways, on new terms, to new and even more important ends. The goal: doing what you love, helping others and getting paid for it."

That's actually what I talk a lot about on my website, too. It's really about building a career that expresses your passion, your gifts, your dreams. When you are doing what you really love and what you were created to do, it doesn't even feel like work. Such work makes you feel like jumping out of bed in the morning. It keeps you going all day long. How powerful and energizing is that?!

So whether you're middle age, younger or older, think about whether it's possible for you to pursue your passion. If you want to explore this, please contact me and we'll talk about it. I invite you to a no-obligation, complimentary strategy session to see whether you could follow your dreams. You'll be energized just thinking about it!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Size 6 and sexy

How many magazines in the supermarket check-out line tell you how to be a size 6 (or smaller) and how to be sexy and thin? Do you succumb to that pressure? Do those messages affect your self-image?

For many years, and at a fairly subconscious level, it affected how I saw myself. Those magazines and the dozens and dozens of other media messages showing and telling us what the ideal American woman looks like wormed their way into my mind to the point where I tried far too many diets. I lost weight, gained it back, lost it again. What a vicious cycle.

Now for me it's about being healthy and feeling good. It's about being the best Sonia I can be. Life is about being serene, content with what I have and who I am and bringing as many of the "seeds of love" into the world as possible (the subject of last Friday's blog). I want to eat in a healthy way, exercise, get the sleep I need, find the types of self-care that nourish me and allow me to do my best work and be my most loving and compassionate self.

I don't want to beat myself up with images of thin women. I want to be a healthy weight, but I no longer worry about what my dress size is.

What about you? Do you have a different perspective now than you did a few years ago? Or a different one from mine? I'd love to hear what you think about these messages with which we're surrounded. Please add your comments below. Maybe we can even start a conversation about weight, dress size, and a self-image that doesn't depend on those things.

Friday, June 15, 2012

All you're meant to be

A few nights ago at my American Association of University Women gathering, over dessert some of us were sharing book titles we know and love. I always enjoy hearing what other women are reading, and I've discovered books that way that I might not have read otherwise. I like both fiction and non-fiction and am always looking for another good read!

One book I keep returning to really looks like a children's book. It has beautiful illustrations of butterflies and caterpillars—and doesn't have many words. But it's really a book about life and hope and is meant for adults.

In one of my favorite parts (and I have several) of Trina Paulus's Hope for the Flowers, we read: "'Butterfly—that word,' she thought. 'Tell me, sir, what is a butterfly?'

"'It's what you are meant to become. It flies with beautiful wings and joins the earth to heaven. It drinks only nectar from the flowers and carries the seeds of love from one flower to another. Without butterflies the world would soon have few flowers.'"

What "seeds of love" are you carrying today? Have you become what you were really meant to be? Are you that beautiful butterfly right now—or are you a caterpillar waiting to enter a cocoon? In other words, are you in the middle of a time of change and transition awaiting that butterfly-like transformation?

If you want help with a transition so you can set free your beautiful inner butterfly, contact me for a complimentary strategy consultation. There's absolutely no obligation attached to it. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Smile—you'll feel better

Several things were getting me down the other day. By the time I entered the post office to mail a package and buy stamps, I wasn't my usual positive self at all.

The woman who assisted me with my package greeted me with a large, friendly smile and a "Good afternoon!" It may sound silly—but that made all the difference for me. I just felt my spirits rise as a smile covered my face as well. We had a good conversation while I looked over a variety of Forever stamps to see which ones I liked best. I left the post office feeling much better than when I entered it.

Isn't it interesting to notice how we feel when someone smiles at us? And when we smile back? When we receive a friendly greeting?

It really doesn't take much. And it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown. So why not try that the next time you're out? Or even when your family or partner comes in the door tonight?

We need to do whatever we can to help ourselves stay positive. I don't mean we ignore our problems and pain. We can't be positive all the time. But there surely are times when it's a good choice to make. It'll make a difference to you. And who knows who else you meet might need a smile from you to brighten their day?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Live your values

I'm still on an emotional high from last weekend when I spent quality time with my oldest son, daughter-in-law and 11-year-old granddaughter. We had such good conversations, enjoyed healthy and delicious food, and made more beautiful memories.

My granddaughter and I had an afternoon for pure "grandma time," and we spent it playing—miniature golf, go-karts and games in the arcades that she liked. We did some shopping and had fun trying on sandals with bling! We also found some good bargains in summer clothes for her. What fun we had. The next day we relaxed at the spa with pedicures and manicures.

Beyond the pure enjoyment of this time, it carries special significance for me because it reflects my values and priorities. I value family. I especially value the grandparent-grandchild connection. I think it's a deeply important relationship to nurture. I can play a very different role in Olivia's life, for example, than can her parents, my son and daughter-in-law.

In addition, I value time spent in letting "little Sonia" come out to play. One of the ways I do that is with my grandchildren. And that one-on-one time is just the best.

Are you living out of your values? Have you thought about what they are? Do a reality check today and see how you're spending your time—and whether it's truly reflective of the values you hold dear.

If not, you know what to do. And if you'd like to work on this, please contact me for a no-obligation, complimentary strategy consultation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Staying jazzed

On this website I talk a lot about self-care. It takes so many forms and provides necessary fuel for our daily lives. So last week when I read another coach's ezine about getting and staying motivated, I sat up and took notice.

Coach Molly Gordon pointed out that it's much easier to stay motivated than to get motivated. It takes a good deal of energy to get ourselves motivated—and, like anything once in motion, far less energy to stay motivated or stay in motion.

She encouraged us as readers of her ezine to determine what our energy sources are—and then be sure we tap into those sources regularly.

What feeds you? Fuels and jazzes you? What gets you up in the morning and keeps you going all day? Your passion for your work? Exercise? Quiet time? Perhaps you get energy from being with others. Or you may be just the opposite and get fed by solitude. If massages or bubble baths refresh you and keep you going, be sure to get those as often as you need. Schedule lunches with friends if you find that energizing.

Find what motivates and energizes you, what restores your energy—and then do those things. That's good self-care. And you'll stay motivated. You'll have a much more positive outlook on life. Isn't that something worth pursuing?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Have any emotional thorns?

Emotional thorns. Have you ever heard of them?

Writer Sue Patton Thoele in The Woman's Book of Confidence introduced me to the concept. She wrote:

"If we get a thorn in our finger, our natural response is to pull it out—to eliminate the source of pain. Yet how many of us allow emotional thorns to embed themselves in us without ever acknowledging that we have the right to pull them out? Emotional thorns run the gamut from a relationship that is detrimental to our self-esteem to regret or guilt over something we did or that was done to us. Left unattended, emotional thorns can fester and acutely infect our attitudes."

Ever had that happen? I have. It takes a while to recognize the thorn. And sometimes it's difficult to know just how to remove it. At times, the emotional thorn involves more than one simple issue; it can be several connected parts of our life. For example, you might experience workplace problems that also affect your close relationships—and, of course, affect your financial stability. So removing the thorn isn't so simple.

Do whatever you are able to do to eliminate the pain. Or reduce the effects of the obstacle. If all you can do is reframe the issue and change your attitude, that too constitutes thorn-removal.

Please contact me if you have an emotional thorn you want to remove, reduce or reframe. I would be happy to set up a complimentary, no-obligation strategy consultation with you.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lose the cocoon

Imagine what it would be like to be a butterfly. How might it feel to fly free? How would it be to soar among the flowers, light as a breeze—no baggage to carry around.

The butterfly doesn't drag around its cocoon once it emerges. The cocoon served a very important purpose in the transition from caterpillar to butterfly. But it's no longer needed by the butterfly.

Do you have any cocoons you need to lose? Any baggage you'd like to shed? Of what do you need to let go before you can move forward?

I've gone through so much letting go in my life. And yet, from time to time, there's yet more I need to shed. When I feel resistance inside myself to moving forward, I know it's time to see what's keeping me stuck. It's time to lose another cocoon, to let go of more baggage.

Lighten your load today. Let go of whatever holds you back. Negative attitudes. Old resentments. Unresolved issues. Sorrows you haven't yet grieved (do the grief work before you try to let go, though). You'll find new energy as that beautiful butterfly in you flies free!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


My three sons and I are looking at rental cabins, vacation homes and resorts to try find a site for their families, my fiance and me to gather next summer for a week. We don't live in the same area so don't see each other as often as we'd like.

I've spent several hours on the computer (as they have, too) researching sites. Initially it felt like a time-consuming task. Then I began to enjoy the process.

As we engage in the planning, we're all feeling such a sense of anticipation and joy. I think this just may be half the fun! And it will add to the experience itself.

Isn't anticipation wonderful? The real thing will be quite amazing, too, I am certain of that. But meanwhile I want to savor each moment of anticipation. I want to enjoy the planning and dreaming we do all year as we prepare for this precious time together. 

What are you anticipating right now? Take time to savor and enjoy each moment. Remember to delight in small moments and plans rather than simply focus on the end game or the big things. It will help keep you positive and in a place of real joy.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What's your gift?

"We were born to bring a gift into the world without which the world would be a poorer place," says Joan Chittister in her book Living Well.

She echoes what psychiatrist and author Jean Shinoda Bolen said at a women's conference I attended two years ago: Each of us has an "assignment," something for which we have unique gifts and which we came into the world to do.

Have you recognized your talents and gifts yet? And have you claimed them? So often when we women are asked to name our gifts, we fall silent. It's easier to name our shortcomings.

If that's how you feel, I encourage you to change things. If you aren't sure what your gifts are, ask those close to you. Reflect on what you love doing, on those things that deeply absorb you and make you feel good. Start your list today. Then think about what you bring to the world. Are you sharing that gift? What does the world need that you can offer?

If you would like to discover your gift or "assignment," and if you want to be confident about your talents, please contact me for a no-obligation, complimentary strategy consultation to see how you can claim them.

Knowing what you bring to the world—and bringing that to life—will make you feel so joyful and powerful.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Activities that jazz you

I've just come off a weekend with 24 wise, creative and engaging women. I'm reminded once again of how nourishing and nurturing I find those experiences. I'm filled with so much joy and energy today.

We spent our weekend in intentional dreaming for a women's organization to create its next generation of online resources. We thought about topics women want and need to discuss. We thought of innovative methods of delivery, in addition to downloadable pdf formats. We talked about resources for retreats, multi-session, single session and personal use—and more. We discussed e-learning. And we thought about how to market them all.

Do you get jazzed, too, when you're in the company of bright, witty, fun and innovative women? The staff of the women's organization that called this gathering said how much we had given them. But right now, I'm thinking we participants came away with so many gifts and so much energy ourselves. I think it was win/win.

Take a moment to think about what things fill you up and energize you. Then be sure to include such nourishing events and activities in your calendar. You'll be so glad you did!

Monday, June 4, 2012

You need a tune-up too

"I can't possibly take time to do that. I have way too much to do."

Ever hear those words? Ever say them?

Sometimes you are better off taking time out for a walk, for coffee with a beloved friend, for a movie with your partner or floor time playing with your child or grandchild. Most often, the work you are doing will wait. And you'll have more energy for it after having taken a break for fun.

Often we women are our own worst enemies. We push ourselves so hard—trying to save the world. Or even just our families.

Let up a bit. Don't think of self-care as a luxury. It really is healthy—and will improve your attitude as well as your productivity.

I get massages regularly, and I've learned to see them as my body's tune-up. I hadn't had a massage in my life until I was in my 50s. One day I realized I took better care of my car than of my body! I was religious about oil changes, tire balancing and alignment, and tune-ups for my car. I wanted it to run well for a long time. Hmmmm, well, what about my body?

Does your body need a tune-up? Or your mind need a little break? Be good to yourself. Find some self-care practices that really work for you. And don't feel guilty about it either!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Celebrate the small things

I am trying to develop a new habit. Actually, I've been trying to do this for a while. And it seems within reach now!

For so long I have focused on a goal and the steps to get there—and I haven't always stopped part-way to that goal to celebrate the small successes along the way. I want to change that.

Do you do that, too? Are you so focused on the end result that you don't even notice how much you've already accomplished or how many changes you have made already?

If you have embarked on a new exercise program or you're trying to eat in a more healthy way, stop and pay attention to the changes you've made along the way. Celebrate each one.

Whatever your goal is, acknowledge the steps you've taken. Pat yourself on the back.

It's motivating to realize that you have made some changes already. It's energizing to look at small successes rather than just at the long climb ahead to get to the top of whatever goal you've set. Be good to yourself! Stop and celebrate you!