Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My first Thanksgiving

In South Africa we don't have Thanksgiving. I grew up never knowing the delicious combination of stuffing, cranberry sauce, turkey and gravy. I had heard about it, of course, and loved the idea that Americans, those mysterious, magical people that lived across the Atlantic, gave an entire day over to giving thanks. I had watched movie and TV versions of Thanksgiving. Although I had never seen the Norman Rockwell painting of Thanksgiving, that's exactly what I thought it was: an idealized, beatific day of love, thanksgiving and warm family moments.

My first Thanksgiving in the States didn't go quite according to this imaginary version. Here's what I learned:

1. Life happens EVERY day of the year. For some reason I have this notion in my head, always have, that certain days of the year are too special for anything catastrophic to happen. Maybe because I was raised a Christian and the God I believe in would never spoil a special day? I don't know but the fact remains that I am always completely shocked when a crisis happens on a holiday. Imagine my surprise when my host has a heart attack while carving the turkey and making gravy.

2. Denial of a problem can be very dangerous. The bizarre part of this, my first Thanksgiving story, is that apparently my host was in agreement with me about this idea of "bad things can't happen on good days" and refused to acknowledge his heart attack despite turning grey, sweating profusely and having sharp chest pains. Two days later his wife found him, unconscious, on the living room floor. Fortunately he survived both heart attacks and was immediately scheduled for bypass surgery.

3. Living unconsciously will hurt you. You can't live a stressful life, drink too much, smoke and eat junk and expect that you'll still be okay. It's the same with your psychology.

4. There's a compound effect. My host didn't have his heart attack on that day because of his choices that day, that week or even that year. It was the result of years of choices and at the time, each little one didn't seem all that harmful. He could light up a cigarette, smoke it and not die. And for years he had been lighting up cigarettes, smoking them and seeing no ill effect but with smoking as with many ill advised activities, the effect is only seen over time. The same is true of life affirming choices. They too have a compound effect.

5. There is great power in thanks giving and appreciation. There were many things about my first Thanksgiving that didn't fit what I had imagined Thanksgiving would be like. My host having a heart attack not the least of them! But my overwhelming sentiment about the day is one of appreciation. When I think back I remember how thankful I was to be with good friends. How intrigued I was that a holiday food could come straight out from a can. How similar this holiday was to the ones we celebrated in South Africa with it's combination of traditions drawn from history, sports, food and yes, even bickering. My feelings of thankfulness far surpass any memories I have of things that went wrong and although we didn't fit the Norman Rockwell painting version of Thanksgiving, we had a day that I will always remember as a day of being welcomed, and loved and for that I am most thankful.

It is my hope and wish that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you need help getting your life turned around and you've realized that denial is not a good solution for you either call or email me and If I can't help you I'll put you in touch with someone who can.

You can also connect with me on Facebook.

There is great love and appreciation for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

About Being Organized

For years I thought organization was boring and restrictive. "I am an artiste" I would think, "Organization cramps my creative flair." In fact I even had a fridge magnet that said, "I'm creative I can't be neat as well."
I realized something was wrong when I never actually got my creative ideas out of my head and into something concrete, which was immensely frustrating and disheartening. I didn't finish projects, I couldn't find things, I constantly made good intentioned promises I didn't live up to and sometimes, the mess around me, would overwhelm to the point that I would drop an entire creative project just to get away from it. Organization is not just about stuff. It's also about how we are organized in our minds, how we organize our lives and work.

Here's what I learned about organization and what it means to be organized:

1. Everyone needs organization in different ways: Having studied various personalities and their organizational needs I came to realize that organization is different for different people. This is very difficult for the super-organized to accept. Their assumption is that everyone needs to be just as fastidious as they are. It's equally difficult for the super-disorganized because they've been told there's only one way to be organized and anything short of that is just NOT. The super-disorganized is completely overwhelmed and throws in the towel...on the floor.
Some people need their socks to be organized according to color and occasion. Some people just need one drawer for their socks and some people need a sock drawer with matching socks folded together.

2. If you're not organized very little can be accomplished: I know this from personal experience and I have watched many talented creative, right brain friends, family and clients stuck in their careers because they didn't have simple, basic organizational skills. In fact if you study Wealth Dynamics, a personality system designed by Roger Hamilton, you discover that the 8 different personalities all need to be organized in different ways in order to be effective in their lives. For example, Fire type personalities, usually right brained, need big picture organization. That means that they don't need to pay as much attention to fine detail but will be much more effective if they organize the boundaries  - things like deadlines and chunking projects into smaller pieces. They just need one sock drawer for all the socks.

3. We can learn from each other: My husband is super-organised. I am super-disorganized. What have we learned from each other? I have learned that being disorganized is not a cool creative thing. It's actually selfish and disrespectful. Promises broken, appointments missed, projects left half done. Not the example I wanted to set for my children, not the wife I wanted to be and not the way I wanted to show up in the world. What has he learned from me? I'm guessing he would say that he's learned to be more go-with-the-flow and  enjoy the moment. I'm thinking I've probably saved him from an ulcer - seriously he was that intense about it.

4. Organization has psychological ties to feelings of safety and comfort: We are all, in some form or another, trying to keep ourselves safe - emotionally, physically and psychologically. Our organizational rules are some of the ways we feel safe and comfortable. This is a great opportunity to be  understanding of the needs of those we love and care about. Think about it like this: A child, who has a high need for organization will feel very unsafe and uncomfortable in a disorganized home or with a mom who is always in some form of chaos. On the other hand, if you're a child that is naturally more inclined to being disorganized and you have a super-organized mom you might feel stifled and claustrophobic and not accepted for yourself.

5. Delegate, strategize, leverage and routine: I wish I had learned to use these skills sooner. Honestly, I wasted so much time resisting organization that it took my brain years to get into solution mode and create ways to help me be more organized.

  • Delegating: The process by which you give the task to someone else. It's amazing how many people love to organize. It was shocking to me when I first discovered that people who love to organize will willingly do it. For example my13 year old daughter is very organized. When we travel she takes care of the passports and tickets. Seriously. She helps me with the grocery shopping. She reminds me about appointments. Once she even organized and labeled the cutlery drawer, for fun! She would much rather do that for a chore than say, cook dinner.
  • Strategize: The process of using systems and tools for getting things organized. For example, I use my iPhone - a lot. It keeps my appointments for me with an alert. The strategy starts when I'm at the doctor's office or on the phone making the appointment. I right there and then put the date time and any notes into my phone with the ALERT. I set the alert for the day before and to repeat again 30 minutes before the appointment. That way, even if I've forgotten, I'll have 30 minutes to get there. If it's a super important appointment or there's something else that might distract me I ask my husband to help me remember too.
  • Leverage: To me leveraging means noticing other people's talents, thinking about what value I could offer them and then asking if they'd like to trade.
  • Routines: Routines save me.... I'm in a routine of cooking dinner at a certain time, spending time with the kids etc. I also create routines that bring me greater fulfillment like playing cards or boardgames once a week as a family, watching Super Soul Sunday and making Sunday lunch with my husband.

Being organized, in your own way, can only be good for you! Take it one step at a time and if you can afford to hire someone who can help you along the way.

If you need help being organized at home I recommend Fly Lady. She's broken down housework into step by step process and was a lifesaver for me.

If you're in the Sarasota area I present a Life by Design workshop on personal organization. Check out my workshops page for more information.

Andrea Brundage is a professional organizer and I encourage you to visit her website for her ideas and tips on getting organized.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Being bored....

It's Saturday afternoon. My daughter is staying over at a friend, my son's are playing League of Legends and my husband is sick in bed. Nobody is demanding anything of me, nobody is entertaining me and for some reason all the quiet little "me" activities that I fantasize about doing when I'm rushed off my feet don't seem the least bit appealing to me right now.
I'm bored.

And so I'm thinking, "What can I learn from being bored?"

1. Being bored really gives me a craving for Ben and Jerry's ice cream. That's interesting. I wonder how often I eat out of boredom?

2. Boredom is only a breath away from contentment. When I ask myself why I feel bored and not content my answer is, "perspective". It occurs to me that boredom and contentment are two side of the same coin and if I shift my thoughts a little I don't feel bored any more, I feel content. The thoughts I've been thinking are, "I don't feel stimulated. I shouldn't feel this way." If I shift my thoughts to thinking, "Maybe I need a break from stimulation. Maybe feeling this way is okay." I start to feel calmer and not so restless and agitated.

3. Using an uncomfortable emotion as a tool is actually quite entertaining and enlightening. I know I'm a bit of an introspective nerd but being able to observe my boredom from a little bit of removed perspective is really helping me to see how, if motivated, I can shift my thinking and therefore the resulting emotions and behavior. It's easier to do with a slight negative emotion like boredom but it's giving me insight as to the process I can use with more energized emotions like irritation and frustration. And doing this is entertaining me in quite a cerebral way.

4. It highlights how reactionary I can be and how quickly I react. I haven't been bored for that long. Just about an hour and I quickly started to label the experience as "wrong" and I immediately started looking for relief from my discomfort. I wonder what would happen if I just sat with the agitation for a little bit.

5. Vipassana meditation has helped me! The fact that I have even been able to look at this with more of a balanced mind shows me that since my Vipassana course I have learned not to be so hooked by emotions and circumstances. I'm bored and I'm able to step back from the emotion a little, notice that I want to eat a tub of Chunky Monkey and redirect my attention to something that will have longer lasting benefit than a sugar rush - like writing a blog post about what I'm learning from it.


Letter to the American Government


We need a government made up of mature, responsible adults that care more about the people in the country than political careers, grand-standing and "shanking" each other.

I don't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat. 

What I care about, and I hope you do too but at this point I'm really not sure, is that you come to some agreement in the next 6 weeks that will protect our country from another recession.
What I care about is children going hungry because their parents don't have work.
What I care about is men and women who fought in a war, with the honorable intention of protecting and serving Americans, who are returning with PTSD and are not getting the help they need and are killing themselves in desperation!
What I care about is that what happens with our economy has a ripple effect felt throughout the world.

I am so sick of hearing that you can't get along. I'm exhausted by your constant inane bickering.
We, the people of America, need jobs, a strengthening economy, support for veterans and care for the children and elderly.


Please share this if you agree.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

5 Ways I Learned to In-Joy the Holidays Guest Blog

Written by Andrea Brundage

I have learned that reducing holiday stress can be a reality. By planning ahead, asking for help, and learning not to take on more than you should, you too can enjoy (In-Joy) a marvelous holiday. My goal as a professional organizer is to transform lives and living environments into peaceful places, and this is particularly important during the holidays. I want you to truly “In-Joy” the holidays this year and in the years to come.  

Below are tips that may make your holidays a little less stressed so that you can be more “present” to yourself and to others. Decide this year to control your environment versus allowing your environment to control you.

5-Tips to Help You “In-Joy” the Holidays

  1. Identify what's most important to you. What is your vision of the true spirit of the season? Make decisions this season that are in alignment with that vision.
  2. Be realistic about your finances. Love is not measured by price tags and the number of gifts under the tree. Stay within your budget and do not overextend yourself by impulse buying.
  3. If you are stressed out due to family dynamics or social situations, try to reframe your thinking. You cannot control others but you CAN control your reaction to others. If there are toxic people in your life that you cannot avoid, limit your interactions and time with them.
  4. Create your own traditions. If you are pulled in too many directions with extended family obligations, consider lovingly advising them that you are starting you own family traditions this year and invite them to participate, if you so choose.
  5. This your holiday, too. Limit stress by planning ahead. Implement effective time management techniques. Ask for help. Simplify gift giving. Do not over commit. Be mindful, be grateful, be present.
Andrea Brundage is a professional organizer and founder of Simple Organized Solutions S.O.S.). She is available for speaking engagements, self-improvement workshops, and employee training programs offering topics such as "Tackling Time Management Techniques," "Chaos into Calm," "Maintaining Balance in an Unbalanced World," and others. Visit or contact her at (480) 382-1085

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

5 things I've thought about...guest blog

5 Things I have thought about not necessarily learned;
however I'm a work in progress!!

  1. of the first words I would have used to describe myself.  I'm not quite sure of the technical definition but to me it means that I would never say or do anything to make someone else feel bad, that I would be honest and caring with another person's feelings. However, I was missing the compassion for myself.  I think I will practice that!
  2. Saying No...I would say a very good portion of the time when someone tells me "no", I completely understand. Although I might be a little disappointed, I realize it (whatever they say no to) just doesn't work for them.  Hmm...why do I find it so hard to say "no" or "let me think about it" when something doesn't work for me? I do try but then I feel the need to go into deep explanation and end up sounding ridiculous. So from now on friends, family and others please understand that if I say no it has nothing to do with you, it just doesn't work for me.
  3. Awareness...I think I'm pretty intuitive and pick up on another persons mood pretty quickly.  Yet I go through the day completely unaware of my own thoughts and feelings.  If I am happy, sad, mad, worried, etc do I realize why?  I have decided to set my phone alarm 3 times a day 12, 4 and 8 pm so when I hear the beep I will remember to think about how I'm feeling and why.  I think that simple step will help shift  perception of my feelings for the better.  Because if you actually think about the truth (the real truth) things usually aren't as bad.
  4. Gratitude....I absolutely love and enjoy the coconut water from a thai coconut.  Without fail every time I drink that cold bit of magic, I literally thank God for the most delicious and refreshing fruit he put on this earth.  It makes me feel connected, happy and purposeful.  Maybe, just maybe, I should be grateful for a few other simple things in life. Like a super tight hug from my husband, or a belly laugh with my BFF, or the quiet smile between my son and I because we share the same humor and found something amusing that no one else did, or the proud look on my daughter's face when she masters her front walk over at gymnastics.  
  5. A little sweat goes a long way...This is the one thing that I have learned; not just thought about and I've mastered it.  I must break a sweat every day even if it's just 15 or 20 minutes.  It clears my mind and gives me a sense of accomplishment. And it just so happens that I do my best thinking, planning and goal settings when I go for a run.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Vipassana - What I hope to learn

This is not a 5 things I learned post but on Wednesday I'm leaving for Vipassana and I wanted to share my own spiritual development journey.

What is it? Basically Vipassana is 10 days of silent meditation.
Why am I doing it?  I'm doing it because I want to be even more peaceful and happier with myself and the world around me. I am doing it for my spiritual and emotional growth.

This note is serving as a journal for myself and a blog, a space to express my thoughts and fears about this endeavor and a platform to share why I feel it's important for me to do this at this time.

So what will I be doing? I will be going away for 10 days to a Vipassana Center in Jessup, Georgia where I will, essentially pause my extrenal identity, possessions and voice for 10 days. I will commit myself to the rules and times schedule. I will be completely reliant on the kindness of strangers who will feed me and provide me with a place to sleep with no expectation of any reward. (They are all volunteers and there is no fee for attending Vipassana.) I will have no contact with the outside world or the other participants. I will wake at 4am and meditate, according to instruction, for most of the day.
Just the notion of this process and set-up humbles me.

The premise of Vipassina is that through the process of meditaion, instruction and immersion I will develop a deeper understanding of myself. Vipassina means to see things as they really are. It is a method that has been taught for 2500 years in India.

I am nervous. I have listened to the reports of others who talk about leg cramps, tiredness and deep emotional releases. I am unsettled by the unknown. What will I find out about myself that I don't already know? Will I dissapoint myself and not make it to the end? Will I be starving hungry all the time? How will I get through 10 days without talking to my husband and children? I can hardly get through a couple of hours now.

And at the same time I am excited. I am so excited about the idea of being more free from mental addictions, which is what the process often produces. I am excited by the physical and emotional challenge of it. I am excited about the certainty it will give me about me - who I am at my core. I am very excited about expanding the space in my mind that is tranquil and content and bringing that more into the world on a practical, daily basis, into my relationship with myself and others, and into my work.

I, like anyone else, want more freedom from a crazy mind that is in a constant motion of noise and busyness - part of the time telling me about my faults in fantastic, painful detail contrasted by times of grandiose posturing about an I that is unrealistic and puffed up with an identity dependant on the ownership of titles, people and possessions that don't even really belong to me. I want to be free from it and although I know this will not be complete emancipation I am excited about the progress. This is one step towards it.

To learn more about me and my work please visit my website Nicky Roberts Coaching

To learn more about Vipassana here are some great websites that I've come across in my own searching:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

5 Things I learned about self care this weekend

I teach and live by the idea that you can't give away (or teach) what you don't already have and this weekend, after a busy week of seeing coaching clients and presenting a Life Purpose by Design workshop, I could feel that self care was needed.

We've all heard the term "self care" but what does it really mean? How do you do it? How don't you do it? Here are some thoughts on what I've learned coaching clients and myself in self care:

1. It's not about buying stuff. I've heard people say to others who are having a bad day or who are feeling neglected, "you should go out and buy yourself something special." This is not self care. Buying stuff doesn't mean you're taking care of yourself it means you're spending money -  and sometimes that can even mean you're harming yourself. Buying yourself something to make yourself feel better only works for about 3 minutes. After that you're back to the feeling you started with.

It may be appropriate to buy something in the process of self care. For example if you've neglected your grooming and you need to purchase a nail polish to do your nails that is appropriate, provided you have the financial means to do so.

2. It's about listening to what you need. People usually become acutely aware of needing self care when they've been disconnected from hearing their own voice about what they need...for whatever reason. The first step in self care is to get quiet and listen  to the inner voice for what you need. It may be a nap. It may be a cup of warm tea. It may be being kind to yourself in your self talk and intentionally interrupting patterns of negative self talk. You may need to pray or meditate. Getting quiet so you can hear what you need is the place to start and then ask yourself, "What do I need to do for myself in this moment to feel better?" (If you hear "alcohol" you're listening to the wrong voice :))

One of my strategies is spending time in nature.
Here I visited my friend's horse farm in Florida.
3. Men and women experience different awareness of their needs. The more stressed a man gets the better he understands his needs and takes care of them. Evidence for this can be seen by the fact that most men have the ability to take a nap, in the middle of the day, on the couch with the kids all running around the house yelling and screaming. Most women can't. In fact, as a rule, women become more and more disconnected from what they need the more stressed they become. That is why it's important to get really quiet, sit down and refer to No 2.

4. It may take a while to feel rejuvenated. If you've gotten to the place where you're exhausted and craving self care you will probably feel depleted and weepy for no particular reason and maybe even physically weak. It's going to take a while to get back to your springy, vibrant self so be patient.

5. Consistency is key - again! Taking care of your needs is about taking responsibility for your emotional and physical health ...and not expecting others to. Having a consistent plan to do so is really smart. If you're like me with a lot of people relying on you, you should make sure to create some consistent times in the day to reconnect with yourself and ensure that you are emotionally and physically balanced and nourished. Exercise, prayer, meditation, connecting with good friends, herbal tea, healthy snacks, getting out of the office for a walk are all strategies that I use to keep myself in balance.

Do you need to learn how to care for yourself. Has this somehow gotten away from you? Are you completely at a loss as to how you might even start?
I can help you. Visit my life coaching website and sign up for a FREE CONSULTATION.

Friday, September 28, 2012

5 Things I learned from Diets

Over the years I have read at least a dozen books on dieting and nutrition. I have also, both in my life coaching practice and in my personal life, observed friends and family try one diet or another. My father-in-law, bless his heart, tried even the most extreme diets in an effort to reduce the extra 100 lbs or so, that he carried with him.

Here are 5 life lessons I've learned from diets:

1. You have to stick with it. Except for those diets where you only eat one food for days on end, most diets offer you the realistic opportunity of losing weight but, like with most things in life, you have to stick with it. You can't give it a mediocre effort and expect outstanding results.

2. Use your common sense. Yes, the cookie diet may help you loose 10 pounds in 2 days but really, should you?

3. Be discerning about what you commit to. Following on from point No. 2 its' also a good idea to really think about things like timing, how this choice might effect your health in the short term and the long term and how this will impact your life in the broader sense. For example, will you be able to eat out or at other people's houses? How will you make it easy for other's to accommodate your food choices? Don't just make commitments willy nilly. When you make a commitment and then break it because you really didn't think it through, you set yourself up for disappointment and a belief that "you can't stick to it".

4. Delayed Gratification.  I often notice, when I'm in the checkout line, that magazines are still printing articles along the lines of "Lose 10 pounds in 2 Weeks" and yes, it is possible but we all know that the diet will be extreme and not sustainable. Losing weight, in a healthy sustainable way, requires all of the above and a commitment to delayed gratification. Putting down the chocolate cake and enjoying the rewards maybe several days later of looking and feeling good.

5. We overestimate what we can achieve in a day and underestimate what we can achieve in a year. Small consistent baby steps in the right direction is the secret to success in most everything, dieting included.

I would love to help you be successful in your life. Please visit my website at to learn more.

If you are looking for help specifically with diet and exercise here are some fantastic wellness coaches who I am very happy to recommend:

Here in Sarasota is Tomasin Marshall. You can connect with Tomasin on Facebook and on her website Kingdom Momentum
Tomasin training on the beach

Hanna Goss is in the North Carolina area and you can find her on Facebook and at her website Goss Coaching

Lori Wardell is also a wellness coach. She lives in California. You can find Lori on Facebook

Thursday, September 27, 2012

5 Things I learned from Dash the Dog

Dash our sweet, funny and so smart dog

7 Years ago we bought a little Jack Russell cross Dotson puppy. He is a little dog with a big personality. Here are 5 life coaching lessons I've learned from Dash.

1. Your self image is mostly self perception. When we bought Dash we also bought two Huskies. All 3 puppies were about the same size when we got them but of course, the Huskies grew to be much bigger than Dash within just a few months. Dash never noticed though. In fact, to this day, Dash thinks he's a big dog and has no trouble socializing with dogs that are even 8 times the size of him. He even fell head over heels in love with a Pitbull named Lucy.
We become a lot like the people we spend time with because it changes the way we see ourselves. If we hang out with confidant, articulate, self motivated people we will tend towards adopting those characteristics and, like Dash, completely forget that we're "too small" to run with the big dogs.

2. We all enjoy acknowledgment for a job well done. When we bought Dash we were still living in South Africa and the guy at the pet store told us that, for security reasons, we should get 1 little dog and 2 big dogs. The big dogs would scare thieves whereas the little dog would sound the alarm. Dash must have overheard this snippet of information because he's been diligently "sounding the alarm" ever since. It's his work and he takes it very seriously, sometimes a little too much so. It is cute though that after he's done his job he struts around for a bit asking for praise and affection as if he's telling everyone, "I did my job well and now I'd like some acknowledgment."

3. Even animals have unhealthy addictions that they need help with. This doesn't really fit easily into a life lesson but it is fascinating to me that even animals can have unhealthy addictions. Dash is addicted to chocolate.  We hide chocolate from him and when certain holidays come around we become extra vigilant about making sure the chocolate is out of sight. If there is a lesson here maybe it's that if you know and or love someone with an addiction try to do your part around the holidays by not having it a big part of the festivities. It's not your responsibility but it is an act of kindness.

4. Nap and stretch because it feels really good. Dash is a real snuggler. He loves to burrow under his blanket and have a nap, he'll sit on your lap if given even the slightest encouragement and often sneaks under the covers of my bed. When he wakes up from a nap he stretches out, downward facing dog, and gives a little pleasurable moan.

5. Look for reasons to be happy. I imagine that in dog world Dash has it pretty well set up. He gets fed, has lots of good napping spots, a family that adores him, yummy treats, lizards to chase and visitors to alert the family about but I can't help feeling that Dash would be happy anyway. He just seems to find reasons to be happy. I can take him on a 30 second car ride down the driveway, stop the car and he bounds out of it as if I've taken him for a two week fantasy vacation. I can walk out the house, be gone for 5 minutes, come back and he is bouncing around with joy, his little tail wagging so fast I'm afraid he'll knock himself over.

I'm sure most anyone who has a dog could have written this article because they all offer so much love and wisdom just by the nature of being dogs. I would love to hear about what you've learned from your puppy!

To learn more about me and life coaching please visit my website at Nicky Roberts Coaching

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Guest Blog: 5 Things I Learned from my husband, Joe. By Laurie Battaglia

5 Things I Learned from My Husband Joe
When an extravert meets an introvert, great things can happen. That’s what I’ve learned, having met my husband Joe eleven years ago. We’ll celebrate 10 years of wedded bliss this October. As my adult son said, as he met and learned to love Joe, “You bring his energy up, and he brings yours down, and that’s a good thing, both ways.” 
Here are the 5 things I’ve learned while living with and loving Joe.
  1. You don’t have to book every minute of the day. Sometimes it’s a great thing to just sit, watch, breathe, and think about not much of anything. Exhale.
  2. You’re never too old to change things. Joe had triple bypass surgery the year we got married. Since then, he has changed his entire way of living, eating and exercising, one baby step at a time. It’s the little steps that lead to big change.
  3. It’s OK to stay home. See #1. Sitting together, him doing crossword puzzles, and me reading the paper, give me great pleasure. It doesn’t have to be non-stop excitement every step of the way.
  4. There’s a no-drama rule for holidays and vacations. Our first marriages were filled with drama; this one is not. Drama is a lot of wasted energy and anxiety for no good reason. No drama is good.
  5. You’ll learn a lot if you just sit and listen to the conversation around you. As an extravert, I’m a talker. Talkers frequently miss things, because they’re talking! Listening gives the floor to others and puts the spotlight on them. It’s not always about you… let it be about them. 
Sit, listen, breathe…
To have a great, no drama relationship, click here and learn more.
We coach people through transitions and reinvention, in life, career, and relationships. Joe and I coach as a couple -- you get both perspectives, male and female, feeler and thinker.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

5 Things I learned Eating Chocolate Cake

There have been times in my life when I've eaten an entire chocolate cake. Yes, that's a little obsessive, I agree. There have been other times where I've only eaten a few slices. Better, yes? There has never been a time when I could just have a few bites of cake. Never.  Here's what I've learned from my relationship with chocolate cake.

1. Some things are just not good for YOU.
I would often, in my relationship with cake, look around at others who were skinnier and healthier and tell myself that there is nothing wrong with chocolate cake. I would tell myself that if other's could eat it and look and feel great it must be okay for me too. Well, the truth of the matter is that flour+sugar makes me sick. It gives me painful heartburn which I would try to ignore, for hours. I eventually came to the place in my personal growth where I committed to acknowledging that there were certain activities that were just not good for ME. It had nothing to do with ANYONE ELSE. I often hear from alcoholics that they just want to be able to have a drink with friends, socially. The truth is for the alcoholic, alcohol is just not good for them. It makes them sick.

2. It's much more about psychology than ingredients.
The reality is that alcohol or sugar or even possibly wheat is not good for anyone. They all are irritating to the immune system. The truth is also that if we, those of us who over indulge in these substances, developed a healthier psychology around eating cake or drinking alcohol we wouldn't over indulge in them in the first place and we could probably get away with a little bit. The work is in developing that psychology and until that is full proof it's best to refer back to point No. 1.

3. Ignoring your signals of discomfort can be deadly.
I don't have to give you an physiology lesson for you to know that if I was regularly consuming significant quantities of cake that I was leaning into being very, physically, unhealthy. But this is part of a bigger conversation too, about ignoring warning signals not only from our bodies but also from our emotions and our psyche. When you practice ignoring anything it's a bit like giving yourself Leprosy; you start to numb those parts of yourself and that can be very, very dangerous emotionally and physically.

4. Delayed Gratification
I did not enjoy seeing myself in the mirror after eating cake. It felt awful. I felt I looked chunky and flabby and unattractive to myself and my husband. Really not a good feeling. It took me a while to get to the place where I realized that the pleasure in the moment of eating the cake needed to be delayed to the moment, rather, of standing looking at myself in the mirror and appreciating what I saw. And even more than that, delayed to the feeling of pride I could have in myself of knowing that I was finally taking care of myself and the feeling of pride I could feel knowing I was setting a good example for my children. These delayed feelings of gratification are also much more satisfactory and have longevity whereas the cake eating feelings were short lived and followed quickly with terrible bouts of guilt.

5. Self confidence comes from living with integrity
Women often complain to me about their lack of self confidence. Here's what I tell them. There's no miracle cure, there's no one else who can give it to you and there's no magic strategy. To build self confidence you have to live in integrity and do what you know you need to do when you know you need to do it. You have to step up to your life and have a relationship with you that you can rely on and trust. Giving up chocolate cake gave me one more reason to feel confidant.

So, what's your "chocolate cake"? I would love to help you figure it out and help you make the transition to a free, confidant you.

Monday, September 24, 2012

5 Things I Learned Moving Countries

In December 2003 my husband and I and our 3 small children moved from a small coastal city in South Africa to a small-ish coastal city in The United States with 10 suitcases and very little money. This is what I learned:

1. Not everyone who speaks English thinks the same way. I had been warned by returning expats that this was so but for some reason, maybe because I had done some international travel, I didn't think this was going to be a problem for me. I quickly discovered that not only did American's have a distinct, cultural point of view, they even used different words to express it. It was a huge learning curve that I still sometimes find myself navigating and taught me to be careful with words and sensitive to how people might interpret them.

2. Moving countries is much more about shifting identity and much less about a different environment. There have been days when I've felt quite lost, not sure if I'm American or South African or perhaps something vague in the middle. I never even knew, before I moved, how much of what I thought and identified myself with had to do with a country. Now that I'm some sort of hybrid version of the two I see and appreciate both places and have a more multi-layered, flexible sense of self.

3. Much of what we tell ourselves is a fabrication. Over the years I've learned to become pretty suspicious of my own story telling and yet this past summer I again stumbled upon another story I had been telling (to anyone who would listen) about the distinct virtues and value of living in a third world country. I even dragged my entire family back to South Africa in the middle of a sub-saharan, chilly winter to explore the possibility of living there for several months of the year. 6 weeks after landing in Johannesburg International Airport I was literally crying, begging my husband to get me back to Florida. This is not as much a commentary on South Africa as it is the danger of an untrue, overly romanticized, fabricated and emotionally charged inaccurate story.

4. The longer you stay caught up with what you feel "should be", the longer it will take for you to see the value of what is. Coming back from our disastrous trip to South Africa I felt a bit foolish. I had been living in America for 10 years and although I felt, at times, deeply appreciative for many things in the US there had still been, as I explained before, this romantic vision I had of Africa and what I was missing by not being there. When my vision had been cleared up with a solid dose of reality I started to notice how much I had in the US that I hadn't noticed before...things like feeling safe at night, indoor heating and air conditioning, friendly, prompt service and good food and drivers who obey the rules of the road.

5. You don't have to be with the person/in the country that you love in order to love them/it. To leave your country of birth you need to have compelling reasons. You are essentially cutting yourself off from everything you've known and loved up until the point in time that you leave. As much as I know that America is where I want to be now because of all its wonderfulness I still get teary eyed listening to Xhosa singers coral, I still feel my heart ache when I see pictures of my brother, his wife, their children, I still want to be at my best friend's daughters ballet recital. Often clients will tell me of a love relationship that they know is not good for them, that they know they should leave but they also know will bring them heartache when they do. I try to encourage them to make their choice by saying, "Just because you love someone doesn't mean you have to be there with them. You can love them from afar."

Moving countries, as you can probably tell, has been a transforming event in my life. It's brought a lot of opportunity to grow and for that I am deeply appreciative.

If you're looking to transform your life you don't have to move countries. You could rather contact me. I'm a life coach and can help you make an internal shift. It will save you a lot of time and money :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

5 Things I Learned from Byron Katie

I've read a few of Byron Katie's books. My favorite is "I Need Your Love - Is That True".
Here are 5 things I've learned from Byron Katie in this book.

1. Examine the thoughts you think. I go often write my thoughts down in my journal, especially when they are accompanied by strong emotions, so that I can see them out in front of me and really explore them. It's amazing the junk that I think sometimes!

2. Defense is the first act of war. This one took me quite a while to make peace with but it's proven to be a really solid life lesson. At first I had to just come to terms with how much I defended myself and then slowly, I learned to practice not defending myself. It's still a work in progress.

3. Is that True? It's amazing how this little question really shifted my orientation about my beliefs. Asking yourself, "Is this true?" after making a statement about an emotion, an opinion or even an event is a unique and enlightening way of interacting and processing daily life.

4. How is "making an impression" influencing my behavior? One of the things Byron Katie is very, very good at is asking questions or offering a perspective that deeply examines our motivations and the result of those motivations. When I got some clarity on how my need to influence and impress others was motivating not only social situations but career and financial choices it really freed me up to make choices more aligned with who I am at my core and live a more authentic life.

5. Mind your own business. Under the guise of caring we get involved everyone else's shizzle and drama. It feels good to be needed, it feels good to feel that at least our lives are not as messed up as theirs. It creates a distraction and even feelings of superiority. See the problem?

Reading this book is a really good idea. I recommend it to my clients regularly. It's an even better idea to read the book and work through it with a friend, family member or a Certified Life me :)

I would love to work with you so visit my website and see if you would like to work with me too.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

5 Things I learned from my Life Coach

I met my first life coach, Coach Camille, at Date With Destiny. She was insightful, tough and really transformed the way I felt about myself and the way I showed up in life.

Looking back, here are 5 key takeaways that really helped me shift.

1. I am resourceful.
I always had a story about how I couldn't do certain things. How helpless I was. I couldn't make friends, I couldn't solve certain problems, I couldn't loose weight, I couldn't earn more money. All my life most of the people around me would agree and commiserate with me in my complaining. Friends would agree that the economy was in bad shape or that it was difficult to make friends or losing weight just got more difficult the older we got. Coach Camille said, "That's BS! You are very resourceful. I'm confidant you'll figure this out."

2. There are safe problems and quality problems. 
I must have done lot of complaining during those sessions with my coach because here again I was bemoaning something and very quickly Coach Camille stopped me in my tracks and said, "This is not a quality problem. This is a problem that you continue to perpetuate because it feels safer not to solve it."

3. Set yourself up for success. 
For some reason I thought I could go from zero to hero in just a few short leaps and with the result being that I would invariably fall flat on my face demotivated and slightly miserable. My coach quickly pointed out that I needed to take smaller steps and set myself up for success by making them easily achievable.

4. Stop telling stories.
This was an blinding moment of realization. In fact when she first told me that what I was telling her was "just my story" I didn't know how to respond, I was dumfounded. What do I say if I don't tell my stories? (Yes, I was that unconscious.) I soon recovered from this shocking piece of insight and discovered that my life, and I,  didn't need any of the drama and embellishment I lathered on it in an attempt to illicit sympathy and connection and that the result is quite beautiful and authentic when I tell the truth.

5. Measure and celebrate success. 
When I started being coached I was so bad at this part that I even asked my coach what it meant to celebrate a success and could she give me some ideas on how to do it. I even googled How To Celebrate, when she replied, "You are resourceful, you'll figure it out" and wrote a list of ways I could celebrate.
Measuring was also a huge step. I had never paid attention to how I was doing well but always had an excellent accounting of how much I screwed up.

So, looking at your own life, how might these 5 life coaching lessons help you shift and transform your life?

To get started on your own transformation click here for a Free Consultation