I am the new mom of an adorable 4 month old chocolate lab name Ellie that came home with me at the end of July. What an adventure it has been! Hikes, yoga classes, meeting new friends, play biting, and training!
Dogs can be some of the most sweet, lovable creatures in the world. If you slow down and pay attention, there is so much we actually can learn from our furry friends. Here are some of my own lessons Ellie teaches me daily.
1) Slow down and be in the moment
As humans we are doing a lot, we are on the move, distracted by our phones. So much doing and we forget being. Dogs are right there in the present, not looking ahead, not looking behind. They enjoy company and play without the distractions and can be in the present moment.
2) Play, play, play
Dogs are great reminders to humans to take time and play every day. We all need play time to have joy, live our best lives, and energize ourselves. Dogs, especially, puppies, love to play and have fun each day.
3) Take naps and rest
Ellie plays like crazy and takes a nap when she sees needs to. We all need rest to regenerate our minds and bodies, to recover from the day, and to feel our best self.
4) Every day can be a new adventure
You can wake up and start the day with dread or you can choose to see it as a new adventure.
5) Enjoy the little things in life
Ellie is super excited about a kong with peanut butter or a being outdoors. There are so many little things that can bring joy if you look for them.
6) Forgive and let go
I step on Ellie's paw or out a little longer than I planned to be. She forgives me and is able to go forward without a grudge. It takes energy to hold onto a grudge and anger.
7) Love Unconditionally
Dogs love unconditionally like no other. Ellie loves just about anybody she meets! I know she loves me no matter what. It can be a challenging task to love unconditionally but our relationships would thrive!
8) Jump for joy when happy
I come home and Ellie wags her tail, jumps up and down and is super excited to see me. Celebrate your wins, do happy dance, sing out loud it feels great!
9) Drink lots of Water
Dogs instinctively know when their bodies need water. It’s a good reminder for us to stay hydrated and drink when we’re thirsty. In fact, drinking water when you feel hungry is good for weight management because often you just need some water. Another good practice is to drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning.
10) Don't compare yourself to others
Can you imagine a terrier wishing she were a boxer or a poodle envious of a collie’s mane or a pug wanting the nose of a greyhound? We humans spend a lot of time trying to make ourselves look like someone else’s version of perfection instead of loving our unique features, our unique life, and yes, our unique problems. How boring it would be if all dogs (or all humans) looked and behaved alike! Love and appreciate everything about yourself — the good, the bad and the ugly!
When faced with decisions in life, many times we seek guidance and support. If guidance begins to feel like you are being told what you should be doing versus what you know within yourself to be right, please remember to stand up for you. You get to choose what’s best for you.
Whether you agree or disagree with this blog, it’s totally your choice. I would never tell you what you should think, feel or do.
How many times have you shared something exciting you want to do with someone and their response was “you really should do….” How many times you knew in your heart what you really wanted, then told yourself you “should” do something else.
I know I have had conversations like this with people in my past that resulted in advice giving using the “should” word. These conversations usually left me feeling disempowered, a little angry, unsupported and hurt. If I find myself using the should word, it's usually not coming from an empowering place. It’s the word I would like to eliminate from the vocabulary!
I remember when I started my business many years ago and was met with other people's projections of fear. "You should keep your full time job", "This is scary, maybe you shouldn't do this". I chose to go forth anyhow and have supported many amazing humans over the years, have had so much growth from this experiences and created the work and life I wanted for myself. Have I made mistakes and hit road bumps along the way? Yes, but still my choice and not listen to the should word.
Live your life for you. You get to choose powerfully.
I love learning from others’ wisdom and experiences. I appreciate the guidance and support of others. I also appreciate good feedback and reflections. My true belief is that we are all here to educate and grow from one another. If someone has already been down a path of which I am headed down, why not learn from what they went through? Here’s the difference: I am seeking their guidance, not their approval.
I love working with my coach. She NEVER tells me what I should do. She supports me on finding my own answers, asks powerful questions that evoke insight and reflects back to me what may be getting in the way. The should word is not used.
Just because a way of life works for one person – does not mean that it will work for another. Listen, learn and take in what you need to when seeking advice. You may not have a need to follow their guidelines or walk their walk. Take that which serves you and forge your own path. If you make a mistake along the way, the learning is on you-not them.
It is one thing for someone to offer you advice. It is another if they expect you to follow it. It is your choice.
Ultimately, YOU have the power and knowledge within to find your answers in life. No one knows you better than you.
Walk your own walk. One step at a time.
PS: Photo taken from New Zealand, a place a couple people told me I "shouldn't" go to because it was far. It was one of the most amazing places ever and so grateful I listened to myself and went!
What challenges you? Maybe it is a long run or a race, or hiking a mountain. Or starting a biz or a new job, asking someone out on a date. Maybe it is taking a class or going back to school. It could be doing something new and outside of your comfort zone.
Challenging oneself promotes growth for not only yourself, but for others too.
When I look back over my life and notice where I have grown the most, it has been going through experiences that were super uncomfortable and the most challenging.
I look back at the many adventures I have been on such as hiking, backpacking, camping and travel and there were many times I was challenged. Weather patterns are unpredictable and travel plans can change on a dime when flights get cancelled. I’ve fallen many times, literally, and had to pick myself up and keep going. I love the challenge of a long hike, a river crossing or a run. My adventures typically brought a new level of confidence, a belief in myself that I can overcome obstacles and total excitement in doing something I was unsure I could do.
For the past year I flew into NYC one a weekend a month for my Life Coaching and Leadership training program and graduated and certified in July. This program was designed to be confronting and challenging to create transformation. The past 12 months were transformative, life altering and empowering on so many levels. Not to mention many of my relationships have been transformed.
I love being a business owner and I have been for the past 13 years or so. It has been the most exciting, life changing, challenging, and empowering experience. Many times I have wanted to quit and have had to commit and recommit over an over again. I have also reinvented my therapy business and also added a second business of Life and Career Coaching to add more challenge and growth.
For the past year and half I have worked with a life and career coach. I have been challenged, pushed out of my comfort zone and called out on my own BS stories getting in my way. If I am supporting others to create amazing lives, I need to be doing my own work!
So here is my challenge to you:
Do something within the next seven days that forces you OUT of your Comfort Zone, even if it scares you. Take witness to who you inspire and provide learning along the way. I’d love to hear how your growth empowers others! Because undeniably, it will.
A few weeks ago I was in NYC for my monthly leadership training and Friday evening I stayed in Brooklyn with a teammate. So on Saturday morning we leave Brooklyn to get to Manhattan 20 minutes early. Plenty of time to grab a coffee and get ready to kick off the weekend.
On our way, we were in our Uber and came upon a large half marathon that was happening. There was traffic everywhere no matter which way we tried to go. We totally hit a standstill and decided to hop out of the Uber and run and catch the subway. It was raining, so I traded my heels in for running shoes and put on my rain jacket. We were now going to be 20 minutes late! I noticed I started to stress about not being on time. In this moment there was absolutely nothing we could do to get there any quicker and we realized it was out of our control at that point. Sometimes things happen beyond our control, no matter how much we plan for them.
When I was stressing about being late, I noticed I still wanted to be in control of the subway and I felt tense. I realized that I have a choice on how I want to respond to the situation. I was able to loosen up, breathe a bit and relax. I could have chosen to stay tensed up or I could let go of what I can’t control go.
As with many of the simpler things in life, it’s not always easy to let go, even of the things we know we can’t control. Many of us feel really uncomfortable with letting go of the grips of being in control and want to manage the outcomes. Sometimes we realize that all of this wanting to be in control can feel like an unnecessary burden. Like my stress on the subway that morning.
We can allow ourselves to be taken over by anxiety and fear or we practice lessening our grip on control. I could have stayed in stress mode about being late and let it ruin my morning but I chose to let it go. We may not be able to be in control over every situation, but we are in control of how we want to respond. This is a great reminder as I return to NYC this weekend!
Last week I organized a stand up paddle event for business leaders in the community to network and connect. The weather forecast was on an off all day and rapidly changing. We decided to go for it and paddle as it was clear when we started.
In the background there was thunder and we can see a storm cell in the distance rolling on by. We decided not to go too far just because the weather was unpredictable. A couple of us stopped for a few minutes to just to chat and the wind pushed us a little farther out in the lake. So we started paddling back towards shore.
I look behind us and I can see the rain coming towards us as we were paddling back. At first I thought we could make it back before we got hit. Then I heard thunder and saw lightening as we were getting closer to shore. The water was rough and the wind was blowing, I was paddling my little heart out!
There was a part of me that knew I was going to get back to shore and be safe. I have been caught in the rain out on the lake by a fast moving storm many times and always got back ok.
But the other part of me felt a bit of panic. Oh no, what if I get struck by lightening and die? What if someone gets hurt? Why can’t I paddle fast enough? Fear was present for those 5 or so minutes. I noticed a fellow paddler being super calm and going with the flow of it and paddling with ease, and I noticed my panic and fear and how hard I was paddling. I wanted to run, but couldn’t, I just had to paddle back. But how I was being was making me feel worse. So, I took a few deep breaths, calmed myself down, and continued to paddle back through the rain.
We all have automatic ways of being when feel fear or when we are confronted. I invite you to take a look at your automatic way of reacting to fear. Maybe you run, maybe you hide, suffer, freak out or just shut down. Just notice your response and perhaps how it shows up in others of your life when you are confronted or scared. Just notice without judgement.
Noticing your automatic response is helpful. You may have a reaction that comes up for you such as fear and a way of reacting to it, but you can always choose something different. For me on the lake that day, I chose to breathe and go with it. I arrived at the dock in a much calmer state of mind and enjoyed my last few minutes on the lake! There will always be unexpected storms in life which will challenge us, noticing ways we want to react and choosing something different can be empowering and impactful.
This this past weekend I had the honor of teaching yoga at Triple Play Farm that hosted Davidson LifeLine’s Spring into Wellness event. Triple Play provides Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and the farm is a beautiful and peaceful place to spend an afternoon! Did I mention there was ice cream?
The past 4 months have been a whirlwind for me that started with mom taking a fall at Christmas and having to leave her home of 65 years and go into long term care. I am her POA and had to learn fast about elder care and get on top of her finances to coordinate her care. I also sold her home in New Jersey, which was my childhood home. On top of taking several trips back to New Jersey, I have been traveling one weekend a month to NYC from Charlotte, NC for leadership training. On top of running my counseling business and growing my Life and Career Coaching biz. On top of getting my work outs in, connecting with my team and my friends.
It just hit me when I was out on the farm this weekend that I really need to slow it down, breathe and get back to being. One of things about yoga I love so much is the breathing and slowing down to be more present in the moment. I feel the same way about spending time outdoors in nature.
We live in a society where there is much emphasis on being busy and productive…all.the.time.
Someone I worked with once shared they wanted to quit the “busy club”. I get it. Have you ever asked someone how they are doing and their response is “Great, I’m crazy busy!” So, since when did being busy make our lives better? Whatever happened to encouraging relaxation, peace, joy? Simply just being? I totally get having goals and taking action steps to reach your intended goals, that is important too. So is having connections with others and interests we love. We seem to forget about relaxation and being in the present because there is 'always something to do'.
Being busy and productive can be quite an addictive cycle and stems from all different reasons. Sometimes we use being busy and productive as a measure of self-worth. The more we feel productive and busy, we connect it to feelings of self worth and compare ourselves to others. Many times people equate being busy as a measure of success. For others, it can be the feeling they have to do it all.
So if this resonates with you, you are not alone. This also doesn’t have to be a way of being all the time either. Nor does it have to define your worth. You get to choose. Choosing to quit the busy club is possible. Consider that time is made up and you get to create it with intention.
Consider this a reminder that relaxation is healthy. Slowing down, taking a technology break and taking time for ourselves to get back to being is just as important as achieving goals. It may actually assist with reaching your goals, just coming from a place of ease and intention and not as much busyness and force.
Taking care of your well-being may look different for everyone. The areas to take a look are physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, and relationships. Are there areas that need a little more attention? What shifts can you make to get back to being? I love the expression 'we are human beings, not human doings.'
So for me, this means getting plenty of sleep and rest. Taking walks outdoors, getting my yoga practice in. Saying 'no' to meetings to take care of myself. Connecting with important people in my life. Joy, play, laughter and of course adventure. I have an amazing support system and my own coach to share with. Reading a good book, being creative, listening to good music. Allowing myself to slow down. Addressing nutrition and hydration as well.
So.. take care of you and your well-being. It’s ok to slow down to relax… and just be.
Photo cred: Triple Play Farm
Many of you know that I expanded my business to include Life and Career Coaching in addition to providing therapy. I have been getting a lot of questions about what coaching actually is. So I decided to share a little more. Perhaps you are looking to make a shift in your own life. Maybe you heard of life and career coaching but not quite sure what it is…if you’re curious read on.
Coaching is similar to therapy, however it's not exactly the same. Coaching does address blocks, beliefs, and wounds. However coaching focuses on the present and future, building on the hard, deeper work you may have already done in counseling or therapy. Although therapy can focus on moving forward and the future, it's a different support system more focused on building new coping mechanism or can be more process oriented. Both are fantastic support systems and modalities.
Coaching is a partnership that focus on you, what you want, and your vision for your life. It is powerful conversations about creating your life and moving beyond your current comfort zone. I coach clients on aspects of their career, business, relationships, wellness or areas of their life they want to make a shift in. We may start to focus on one area of your life, but other areas will be impacted as they are connected and impact each other.
Coaching also provides an opportunity to understand the blocks you may not see for yourself and how to overcome them, allowing you to create the life you want and be who you truly want to be.
Coaching allows you to create your life from a place of possibility and empowerment, instead of a place of how you think it should be or has to be. You get to choose outside of your circumstances and feelings. I am here to support your ability to see things for what they really are by providing reflections, asking provoking questions, and standing for what you say you want.
Coaching can support you get you unstuck from ineffective habits and patterns by building effective communication and relationship skills and offering encouragement and empowerment along with accountability. Coaching can move you forward to the life you wish to create...from your own design.
If you're curious to learn more, let’s talk!
PS: I see people in my office or on-line via FaceTime or zoom.
PPS: Photo from my trip to Croatia
What lights you up? What is that thing you really want to do but haven’t done yet?
Maybe it sounds something like this….
I am going to quit my job and start a biz.
I am going to book a trip to New Zealand. (I highly recommend NZ by the way)
I am going to stand up for myself.
I am going to get a new job that lights me up.
I am going to tell that special someone I love them.
I am going to sign up for that race.
I am going to get in shape and feel healthy.
I am going to improve my relationships with my partner.
I am going to do that thing I keep talking about.
Does this sound familiar?
What are you not moving forward in? Maybe it’s one thing, maybe its a few. Write them down on a sticky note.
We all have things we want to do, dreams, beautiful visions for what we want our life to look like. You know, the ones that light us up and get excited about. Then there are the blocks, the stops, the delays in not going forward with our visions. Maybe it’s that little voice you hear- I’m not ready, I’m not enough, I don’t deserve that thing, I can’t do it.
Write these reasons on another sticky note. I like sticky notes. Look at this one next to your dreams and take a look.
So, what do you see?
Amazing life on one side and BS stories we tell ourselves on the other. The BS stories are made up, they don’t define who you are and the life you live. The stories will keep you from the life you want to create...if you choose.
I get it. Been there. I remember all the fears and doubts coming up when I started my business, the reinvention of my career, my first time traveling internationally solo and my first race. It went from “I’m so freaking excited” to "what the hell am I doing?” One story is totally disempowering and the other is more empowering and way more fun! It was also my choice of which place to come from.
Post that sticky note of what you want to create somewhere where you can see it daily. Recycle the other one.
This is your life to create…dream big and take action! If you need a little support getting there, reach out to me!
PS: Picture from a backpacking trip in Peru on our way to Machu Picchu after climbing our highest peak at about 16,000 ft. elevation!
Somehow we learned to have date expectations on what we will accomplish and what's supposed to happen in our life. It starts off as a child- we will walk by age 1, have a drivers license at age 16, go to college and graduate by age 21, get married and have babies in our 20’s etc. The list goes on.
I went to college and graduated relatively “on time”, went to graduate school, graduated and gained employment. I met my future husband, got married in my 20’s. Then in my early 30’s...divorce. Wait, that wasn’t the plan! I thought I was supposed to get married, have babies and live happily after? Ok that was what I thought in my 20’s and that there was a certain path I thought I needed to follow in order to be successful.
Although I was devastated by divorce and the stigma around it, this event set me on a new trajectory. I had the opportunity for reinvention and this time, on my terms. I challenged old belief systems of what I thought had to do and traded it with what I want to do.
Right after divorce, I went to Costa Rica and traveled. I adore travel and adventure and love seeing the world. I always had dreams of being self-employed, so I started my own business- a counseling private practice. Through having my own business, I gained a greater sense of self-confidence as I was making it happen and doing it on my own. I followed my heart and went for it and 12 years later I am still self-employed!
I went on to travel the world and have been to some amazing places. I developed my original love for the outdoors and began hiking a lot more. I have hiked all over the world. I began running and challenging myself through races. I developed my passion for my hobbies and met some incredible people along the way.
So a couple years ago I hit a plateau in my life. So I hired my own coach and then followed a long time dream of mine- to become a coach! I enrolled in a rigorous one year program and here I am, building a new business…at 45! Reinvention again!
So, not everything happens on an unexpected time line. I let go of societal expectations and limiting expectations of myself. By setting aside these expectations, I discovered that it gave me the mental space to realize that I AM far greater and deserving than the limited expectations I had once put on myself. Belief systems of what I “should be” were now squashed by what I “could be” and “would be”. I also discovered I am far greater than the expectations others have put on me.
Let me tell you, this hasn’t happened with out fear. I had a ton of fear, anxiety. I had grief of my divorce and the loss of my dad. I grieved the loss of my in-laws that I adored. It took some time, but I allowed myself to feel all the feelings I needed to feel- anger, sadness, grief, and joy and excitement.
My life shifted when I really let go of those expectations and began trying new things. As I said above, I am far greater than the expectations myself or others placed on me. When I think about all the experiences over the years, I get excited because I made them happen....I did it!
Every time that I hiked a mountain, tried something new, traveled a new place, ran a race, the old version of me dissolved giving way to a far more integrated me.
I chose to stretch myself mentally and physically, placing Unlimited Potential for my new life and growing in ways I never thought possible.
I have dreams and visions of what I will create next. I want to be me, I want to give back, I want to inspire others, I want to love hard, I want to see more of this amazing world. I get to reinvent myself at any age…. on my own timeline.
What would reinvention look like to you if you push your limiting beliefs aside, get adventurous, and see what is possible?? I can’t wait to hear!!
We often don’t talk about what we really want from a friend or what kind of friend we want to be. Many happily married people will tell you, the reason why their marriage is successful is because of their strong friendships. As many happily single people will tell you, the reason why they're happy is because of their solid network of support.
A truly like-minded and like-hearted individual with whom you share that special alchemy — is a gift.
Just like one of the keys to a successful partnership is to learn about what it means to give love, one of the secrets to attracting and sustaining meaningful and rich friendships is to become the friend you wish to have. I love the thought: Be the person you wish to attract.
So, I have given it some thought about what kind of friend I want to be and what qualities I would like in a close friendship. So for me, these are a few things that stand out. A good friend:
1. Listens with empathy and presence
This is, perhaps, the most important is being present and listening without interruption or offering unsolicited advice. A great friend listens with an open heart, is fully present and asks follow-up questions that indicate the she was, in fact, really listening.
2. Holds space for other
When someone is talking about trouble at work, for example, a great friend doesn't turn the conversation to talk about trouble at her job unless it's completely in service of supporting the one who initiated the conversation. There are times one person may be in need of support, and other times you may need support and the space held for you. A great friend is mindful of time and space and acts accordingly.
3. Has good boundaries
A great friend is able to keep secrets and is honest. If someone shares something private with you, a great friend doesn't share it with anyone else without explicit permission.
4. Supports others' successes
A great friend is a cheerleader. If your friend strikes a book deal, you take her out to lunch. If your friend meets the woman of his dreams, you make time to hear every detail. You take genuine pleasure in others' joy, even if you're struggling to find your own at times.
5. Is vulnerable
A great friend doesn't only share what's working in his or her life, but is also willing to share the "shadow" elements. This doesn't mean getting stuck in a victim mentality where you're always complaining, but it does mean not falling prey to the cultural injunction to "put on a happy face." Even if all your friends think you have a perfect marriage, for example, you make sure you share the struggles as well.
6. Makes time to connect
Love is action in all relationships, which means it's not enough to say I love you; you need to act in loving ways. A great friend makes time to remain connected through telephone calls and in-person dates (if it's not a long-distance friendship). And texting isn't real communication. It serves a function to communicate perfunctory information, but it doesn't build or maintain true intimacy.
7. Honors commitments
If you say you're going to be there at 3pm, be there at 3pm. If you can't make it by then, a great friend communicates that she's going to be late. Being regularly late sends a clear message that your friend isn't important enough to honor a time commitment, even if that's not what you're trying to communicate.
8. Can tolerate another's pain
Like #1 above, being able to tolerate your friend's pain is a rare quality. I mean being able to hold a wide and compassionate space for your friend to go through his or her grieving process, no matter how long it takes. A great friend is able to listen to a friend crying without having to say or do anything. The silence communicates profound respect for the depth of vulnerability that your friend is trusting you enough to share with you, and a great friend holds it with care.
A great friend is a gift to cherish for a lifetime and is often the lifeline that gets you through the rough patches of daily living. If you've even one or friend who embodies these qualities, count your blessings!
Life and Leadership Coach, Licensed Counselor, outdoor enthusiast, yoga lover and passionate about wellness.