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The Push and Pull of Life

Walking on the beach, loving the pristine water in the Gulf of Mexico, I stopped and allowed myself to listen to the magnitude of volume in the waves crashing onto the shore.  Compelled, I walked forward into the water to experience the ‘feel’ of what I was listening to.

As I stood with waves hitting my knees I did a yoga pose called mountain.  Feet firmly planted, shoulder width apart, arms reaching for the sky, hips tucked under and aligned with my shoulders.  I felt solid…..until I noticed.  As each wave came forcefully at me, it left me with the same force begging to take me with it, to drift away into the boundless waters.  Each time the water beckoned me to let go and succumb to its power, it took more and more of the sand around and under my feet, making it more difficult to hold my pose.  My equilibrium was challenged by the constant flow of opposing movement.

This is what life feels like sometimes and is definitely descript of my past year, which is what brought me to the beach in the first place!  Wanting to be firmly planted and yet, having to let go of more and more to maintain my equilibrium.   2017 began with a ‘yes’ to a passion I’ve wanted to brin

g to fruition in the world.  The demands of this yes, more times than not, felt like the waves crashing in – hitting me hard.  Those waves taunted me, challenged me to maintain and stand in my passion, the purpose I was serving.  Could I hold my pose?  I almost welcomed the challenge of the incoming waves to prove my determinedness, my resilience, my core strength of overcoming.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the opposing movement of the waves pulling me back into the depths of its body of water.  I didn’t realize fully that the bigger the yes, the greater the no.  If I said yes to my passion, it would require me to say no to a number of other things in my life.  The sifting sand under my feet represented to me that life is never solid, never singular.  It is fluid and multi-dimensional.

My life in 2017 had opposing forces in extreme!  What came out of it though were equal parts of creation and surrender and I rest in knowing that both are serving a purpose that may not be known to me right now.  However, I have discovered this unique and beautiful relationship between the push and pull of life.  How one relates to the other is completely dependent on the agility to be with both at the same time.

Of course, I couldn’t just stand in the water.  I finally allowed myself to be pulled in.  I let go of any need for stability and just floated along until I washed back up to shore.  What a ride!  Sometimes life is the wave-powerfully pushing and pulling us, forcing us to find our equilibrium within ourselves.  2017 supported me in getting clear about what was really important to me and why, what was important for the greater good, and flushed out old beliefs that were not serving my growth.  I disco

vered at a deeper level that we don’t need to stand on shifting sand to prove strength, determinedness and resilience.  There’s nothing to prove if we stand firmly planted in the truth of who we are.  Only then, can we rise to the challenge of opposing forces of movement, the push and pull of life and still maintain our equilibrium.


I’m on the road a lot for work.  Chicago sometimes feels like a construction zone disguised as a city.  When I hit upon a roadblock I’m frustrated because I don’t want to take a detour.  Detours usually take more time and are maddening because everyone is following the same detour.   But then I found WAZE-an app that directs me to the detours before I even hit the roadblock.  It is amazing the difference it makes when you are being pro-active about ‘alternative routes’ vs. hitting the roadblock and being forced into a specific detour. 

What does this have to do with life?  Wouldn’t you love a WAZE app for life?  Imagine being able to plug in where you want to be in a year, 3 years, 5 years and WAZE would give you three or four alternative routes? That would be something, however until that day arrives, here are a few things I’ve taken from this little awareness that you may want to consider.

ANTICIPATE ROADBLOCKS: The assumption or expectation that traffic will flow or life will go as we want it to be is our first true roadblock.  Once we can put aside the assumption or expectation, then we can get to the place of actually anticipating a potential roadblock.

I have a life desire to be healthy and vital regardless of age. My assumption or expectation is if I do all the ‘right’ things, eat well, exercise, get enough sleep-then I will be healthy.  I’ve discovered that doing the ‘right things’ is definitely supporting my health but that doesn’t necessarily mean I am exempt from illness or disease.  There are genetics that we all have to deal with.

CREATE ALTERNATIVE ROUTES: Removing the assumptions and expectations, you can now brainstorm and identify what a potential roadblock may look like for your situation.   I like to play the ‘if this-then what’ game to come up with alternative routes.

Let’s take my life desire to be healthy and vital regardless of age.  If this-there is cancer in my family, then what-I have my annual physical and health screenings.  If this-there is a genetic pre-disposition to auto-immune deficiency, then what-I eat foods that combat inflammation.

Creating alternative routes to roadblocks in your life keeps you on the positive side of power.  You always have options to consider.  You are not trapped, you are creative.

CHOOSE AND LEARN: When we create alternative routes, we have the opportunity to exercise choice.  Sometimes we get caught up in ‘did I make the right choice?’ or ‘this isn’t going smoothly, I made the wrong choice,’ etc.

We like to play judge and determine right and wrong.  The truth is, choice is choice.  It can be right and wrong.  However, if you can stay neutral to your choice, the choice allows us to learn and start the whole process over again.

ENJOY THE TOUR: Frame your detour as “De’ Tour” and enjoy the scenery along the way! When you create your own alternative routes, they will be different from your ‘expected route’ from your ‘routine.’   Appreciate the difference, the uniqueness of this route and open yourself to the possibility that the roadblock is enhancing your experience of life!

Set Intention…..and then Pay Attention!

Intention, as a noun, is an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.  I really learned about setting intention as an athlete.  Sure, as athletes we establish goals to achieve a new skill, new score, new win.  However, the ‘process’ of being an athlete took more than just knowing what skill I needed to learn.  I discovered 90% of being an athlete happened in my mind. This is where I learned to ‘determine mentally upon some action or result.’  If I did not set the intention to do whatever it took to achieve that next step-it probably wasn’t going to happen! 

In my life when an idea comes to me, and I find energy and excitement around it, I set intention to play it out, get into the experience of the intention, and see where it leads.  For example, I may get an idea on how to better manage my time where I feel like-this is it-this is the time management system that is going to give me 48 hours of work in a 24-hour day!  Ok, a little outlandish, but you get the point.  It’s an idea and I’m excited so I set the intention to put it into action.  Or maybe it is something that I want to focus on becoming better at – like learning how to dance.  Setting the intention to be a dancer and signing up for dance classes is the first step.

The second step is to pay attention.    It is so vital to the process of learning.  Typically, we set intention with the thought that if I stay focused and disciplined and do exactly what I’m supposed to, then I will get the result I want.  Sounds great and it rarely happens that way.  Life happens, things get in the way, tangible and intangible. Take the dance example – I may get injured to the point of not being able to pursue that intention or stall it for a while.  Or, in the intangible world, we may be hitting up against a fear, a belief, a story, that is keeping us from acting on our intention.  This is why it is important to pay attention while you are actually in the experience of your intention-to wake up to the things that stop us from reaching toward what we want.

Intention is an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.  Five years ago, I determined mentally to get into action around an idea that presented itself to me and I did.  However, the journey took me through many winding roads, twists and turns, hills and valleys.  Sometimes I paid attention, other times I was lazy and didn’t.  I gave up on the idea, I reunited with the idea, I found work arounds to get it to come to life.  Generally, I paid attention to the intention and even though it took five years and A LOT of learning about myself along the way, the intention became a realized dream.

Follow the story next month……Birthing a Dream.



Bringing the Swing to the Center of Balance

I coached gymnastics for 25 years and found that many of the principles of balance I taught in the gym are also principles that apply in life. I taught my gymnasts that balance is dynamic, always moving, shifting, changing. Sometimes the movement is large and may even end up in a fall and sometimes it is so small it is elusive.  The one thing we can be sure of is that balance is not stagnant.

Balance is life energy that is always working toward equilibrium. Even with the highest level of coaching in skill development in the gym, we could not remove the possibility of imbalance and falling.  If imbalance and falling were a reality, what else did they need coaching on?  And then it hit me-if I coach them on Recovery skills, they will have less fear, greater tenacity and consequently more success in reaching their goals.  This became my secret to winning teams and my personal secret to a fulfilling life!

What is Recovery? Recovery is the ability to lessen the time between ‘the fall’ and ‘the wholeness’ of your life.

  • The wholeness of your life includes what goes on inside your head and heart and what goes on outside of you.
  • There is no judgment in recovery, no right way or wrong way.
  • The key to recovery is not to find the right or wrong way but how to become more efficient at recovering.

Within this series of recovery tactics, I will share six practices that will support effective recovery.  Recovery Tactic #1 is Claim Your Power.   Following are two circle tools.  The first is called the Circle of Chaos (trap) and the second is called the Circle of Control.  (empower)

The Circle of Chaos is created when we get caught up in reactive mode to situations or people in our experiences. Here’s how it goes:

We have a  frustration (something does not happen the way it should according to our values and beliefs)

We have an opinion of how it is supposed to be (we create a fantasy based on the frustration-this is how it should have happened)

We share our opinion over and over through telling the story to as many people as will listen as we share the frustration and the fantasy (soliciting agreement, attachment to judgment and grounded in the fantasy)

We make the situation or person wrong and us right (have agreement – stuck in judgment-conflict)

We feel a loss of control (victim to situation or person)

We resolve (loss of power)

This is the human condition!  We all experience this chaos on one level or another-at home, at work, in our relationships. The circle of chaos is created by putting 100% of our focus on what is happening outside of us-our external world-and expecting it to be exactly the same as us.  We love our sameness!  At the same time, you are stepping into others circle of chaos and boom- Conflict Explosion.

Now, we will transition to the Circle of Control.  The circle of control is a wonderful tool devised by Stephen Covey’s ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ to help reinforce clarity on what we have control over, what we are able to influence and what we need to let go of.

There are three circles in the circle of Control-the first one is the Circle of Concern.

A Circle of Concern encompasses the wide range of concerns we have, such as our health, our children, problems at work, the amount of government borrowing, or the threat of war.  Will I get out of this job in time to pick up the kids-will there be enough work this month to meet the bills?   Within our Circle of Concern, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. We could identify those concerns in the latter group by circumscribing them within a smaller circle.

A Circle of Influence encompasses those concerns that we can do something about. They are concerns that we have some control over.  When you think of your concerns and get focused on those you can influence, you are taking a proactive approach to life.

As we look at those things within our Circle of Influence, think about what you have complete control over.  This will take you about 1 second because the reason why the circle of control is the smallest is because YOU are the only thing you have complete control over!  You have ownership of your thoughts, feelings, perspectives, emotions, and behavior. That is where your power lives!

Often times when you are feeling an imbalance and see yourself in the circle of chaos, the first question you could ask yourself is who or what are you handing your power over to?  Then ask where do you want to take control.  Control is the ability to direct something (thoughts, feelings, perspective based on values and beliefs) Power is what you have authority over. (behavior-how you choose to show up)

You are your own Control Center and when you get clear on what is going on internally, you will be more empowered to create and own balance in your life.  Stay tuned for next month’s Recovery Tactic #2; Implement the Triple A.

Loving Mentoring and a Mentor Who Loves

Through sport, I learned the value of having focus, a goal I wanted to achieve.  I took that learning into my life and business.  In business, goals became my ‘game of competition.’  I was competing against the goal I set.  Who would win?

In setting goals, I often overextended, got lost in my own goals with a ‘what do I do next’ yell at the back of my throat!  Many, many times, I failed.  Through one of my failures, and perhaps a little serendipity, I discovered a mentor.  The first piece of advice my mentor gave me; set yourself up for success – not failure!  You have way to many goals!!!! That was the best advice I could’ve received.  It was like she innately knew I was an ‘over-doer’ and overdoing was working against me rather than for me.

From that point on, I felt I could breathe because I had someone in my court, someone who had my back, who believed in me.   I felt completely supported and cared for in my business.  I still had failures, however, my recovery was much quicker because I could tap into my mentor for help in figuring out where I went wrong.  I loved my mentor and to this day would do anything for her. If you look at people who have found great success in their lives, most of them have two things in common, they were mentored and they give back.  One of the most visible mentor relationships was between Oprah Winfrey and the late Maya Angelou.  “She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life,” Winfrey said. “Mentors are important and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship,” she added.

Having a great role model, I started practicing mentoring in my thirties and have been mentoring ever since.  What I’ve discovered is mentoring is a win/win situation.  The more I mentor, the more I learn! I grow in my profession as I support others growing in the profession.

Raising leaders through the practice of mentoring is a lot like raising kids- you invest, you guide, you advise and most importantly, you love.  A mentor, an experienced and trusted advisor, someone who believes in you when you’re not sure you believe in yourself, is a powerful alliance to have.  The key word is trust. Creating a trusting mentoring relationship means creating a safe environment for your mentee, where no question is a stupid question, or where they can spill their guts, if they need to and share how they fell flat on their face, knowing they will not be judged, you will still be there, guiding, advising, and believing in them.

The title of this blog is Loving Mentoring, which I do to the depths of my heart and a Mentor who loves.  In my email newsletter this month, I share the following thoughts;  “Love is such a bold, unspoken word, especially in business.  Why?  What is it about love that we are so afraid to talk about? Perhaps it is because we put limits on what love is.”   I love the relationships I have with people I mentor.  It was apparent that there was love in the Winfrey/Angelou mentor relationship.  What a privilege to walk alongside with someone on their journey, sometimes listening, sometimes guiding, sometimes advising, but always loving the person and supporting their deep desire to grow, to learn, to master being a professional, and grow as a human being.

We all have something of value to offer to those who are coming behind us or are even working alongside us.  I encourage you to consider sharing your value through being a mentor.   It is the gift that keeps on giving….. both ways!


Intentional Living; Re-Setting Your Focus

If you’re like me, you set intentions at the beginning of the year (some call these goals, desires, dreams, vision, etc.) and then you put yourself into the doing!  What I’ve found is the more intention I set, the more I get into the doing, the more I create, the more I may experience loss of focus!  I get overwhelmed trying to manage everything I’ve created.  When that happens, I know I have to re-set. Another reason for a re-set may be a life ‘happening’ that has an impact that you could not foresee.

Whatever the cause, the effect is requiring you to reset your focus.

So how do you actually ‘re-set?’  Wouldn’t you love it if we could just turn ourselves off like our computers or phones and re-boot in order to re-set!  While we are more complicated than an on/off button, there are a few key elements in a re-boot that we can follow to re-set our focus.

Go Dark-what this means is silence your world for a bit.  Yes, I know you have a million obligations, responsibilities, people that count on you, and I encourage you to find a way to go dark, even if it is for a short period of time, for reflection.

Reflect on where you are now and where you want to be at the end of the year.  What gap presents itself?  What new focus do you need to establish?  When I did this, I realized that I was pouring myself into some work activities that were going to take time from where I wanted to be by the end of the year.  They weren’t critical to my intentions or focus.   So, the next step would be what I call App Clean up.

App Clean-up-what this means is get rid of the things in your lifpc-power-button-1515567e that are of no use to you in your current focus.  They are only creating roadblocks to where you want to be by the end of the year.

Think about the apps on your phone and how easy it is to get lost in them.  Relate that to activities that you participate in that are more of a time suck than a time serve.  These are the apps you need to delete!  Once those are deleted, you open space for clarity of purpose.

Power up-what this means is you are re-set with a clear focus, you have done your app cleanup to support yourself and you have solicited support systems that will keep you focused and living an intentional life.

If you are feeling out of balance, overwhelmed or uninspired, do a reset.  We are in the fourth quarter of 2017!  This is the perfect time to reset your focus and get clear on what you want for yourself for the rest of the year. It is also a perfect time to start thinking about what intentions you will set for 2018.

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Leadership is a Practice, not a Role

For over 35 years I’ve had the opportunity to be in leadership roles, and that’s not even counting the years I served as the eldest of 5 siblings.  Now there’s where I really began to understand what it means to be out front.  Let me share with you, its not all fun and games!  However, I took on my leadership roles with vigor and responsibility.  People could count on me.  Through my ‘leadership role’ experiences, I came to understand what leadership really is-a daily practice.

We practice many things on a daily basis, which turn into habits and routines – some serving us and some not!  Many of those habits and routines are directed toward the tangibles in our lives; taking care of our bodies, our homes, our families, our work.  However, our behavior and the way we show up in the world is largely driven by the intangibles; the way we think, the meaning we make of things, what we believe and what’s important or of value to us.  It is in the intangibles that I have found my leadership power and the ability to influence others.  Over the next few writings, I want to share these practices with you because they have had such a positive effect on my life and my relationships.

Leadership Practice #1 – Own what is yours to own! 

What is my contribution to the situation I’m in?  Sometimes it is so painful to turn the spotlight on self.  To demonstrate this practice, let me share a recent situation I found myself in.

Recently I bought a car.  Prior to purchasing the car, I’d been in a two week tornado of work catching up from being on a half months vacation.  Going to car dealers and dealing with the ‘sales pitches’ was not on my top ten list of things to do.  However, my car had broke down twice on vacation and I travel a lot for work so it had to be done.  I was in the stress pot of wo991F9CF7-rk; impatient, and generally just wanted to get the whole ordeal over with.  I made a hasty choice!  I bought the car and the next day had to drive 150 miles for work.  I quickly realized the seats were not right for me, in fact they really irritated my sciatica.  Aghhh, so here I was with a car that was not going to work for me.  I started down the road of what was the dealership going to do for me.  I was the victim and the car dealers were the ‘mean guys.’

After a week of wasting time trying to get the dealer to do something, I woke up.  No one twisted my arm to buy this car.  In fact, our sales guy was great.  No pressure, just service.  I made the choice to look for a car when I was stressed and very tired.  I made the hasty choice to purchase the car.  Now, knowing I had a problem with the seats, what could I do?  Solution came much quicker once I took ownership.  The seats will be ‘re-foamed’ by a company that specializes in car upholstery and my bum will be happy!

I have found that when you take ownership and practice it on a daily basis, you get to solution and the positive side of life much more quickly.  Can you imagine how our world would change if everyone engaged with Leadership Practice #1?

What Really Robs us of our Time and Energy?

Things that rob us of time and energy…..one of the most common topics that come up in coaching!  I often assess my own use of time as my ‘endless energy’ now has a definitive end-which is about 9 pm every evening! I’ve also learned over the years that I can’t manage time-time is what it is.  I can only manage myself within the time I have.  External demands will always be there. If we are alive, we can count on this!  What happens in our external environment we have very little control over.

What we do haveClockInGrass control over is what we believe about those external demands. For instance, if I believe that I have to be available 24/7 to serve and keep my customers, well I won’t have much of a life!  That belief is robbing me of time and energy.  I can choose to let go of that belief and create a new one: I believe I can best serve my customer when I’m physically and emotionally healthy. This belief is aligned with something I value (health) and makes it easier for me to design my life to match this new belief.

I like to call our Values and Beliefs our OS-operating system.  Values speak to what is core to us, what is really important.  Beliefs come from the meaning we make of our experience, or we inherit them or are taught them through different groups we’re a part of.   We can change our beliefs if they no longer serve what we want for ourselves.  So if you feel robbed of your time and energy, start asking yourself,  “what belief am I operating under and what value am I not honoring by giving my time and energy to this?”

Here are a few common ‘beliefs’ that rob us of our time and energy.

I believe I have to say yes, especially to my boss, partner, kids, church, volunteer organization, whew! If we say yes to everything outside of us, we are saying no to us.  We overextend.  We act as if we’re kids that have been let loose in a candy store.  Sure it is fun to grab hold of and eat all the candy you can, but we all know what we will be cleaning up if there is not stopping point! We just cannot be all, have all.

Antidote: Try on a new belief-I believe if I say no to ____________ then I will have more time and energy for what is really important to me.   Learn the word NO, or a variation of it.  Having the ability to say no to saying yes to everything is empowering.  In order to say no, try prioritizing according to your values.  Get in the habit of asking this question: If I say yes to this, what am I willing to say no to.  This is a great way to keep you from overextending.

I believe I can do 10 things at once and that will make me more effective with my time.  Much research has shown that multitasking actually robs us of time and energy.  To be honest, I still buy into the belief that when I have more on my plate I get more done because I can multitask.  Sure I can do a lot at the same time but it really does cause an internal stress that translates into lack of energy.  I am in the process of changing this old belief system.

Antidote: Practice presence and mindfultasking.  Being mindful of the present task I am working on is a challenge for me because I really do want to do 3 things at once.  However I am already experiencing a shift in bringing tasks to completion.  Turn off your notifications, your email, step away from the phone!  Present Mindfultasking-try it for a while.  You wont be disappointed.

I believe it is a selfish waste of time to spend time on myself when so many others need me.  Who hasn’t fallen into this trap at one point or another in their lives?  Self care, self nurturing, self love, translated into selfishness.   Perhaps you were taught to serve, serve, serve and in that serving there wasn’t time to honor and care for your life.  Or maybe we were taught through our own life experiences that we were not worth caring for.  This is one area where I have seen deep pain in the human experience. It is our inability to be okay with self care that we set ourselves up for lack of energy and time.  We age more quickly and we limit what our bodies can do for us.  Our bodies, our minds, our spirits need to be fueled, need to be taken care of the same way we take care of others, our homes, our cars, our jobs, etc. So how do we turn this belief system around when it may be deeply ingrained?

Antidote: First, create a new belief: I believe when I take care of myself, I have more life to give, and that the giving is selfless because my needs are met.  This was the belief I tried on and then I began the work of designing my schedule first around my self care knowing that then my serving would be more selfless.  What I am discovering is I have just as much time as before but much more energy!  It has taken some getting use to in prioritizing my self care…..a work in progress, however I will say that changing my belief about self care has had the greatest impact on my life.

Remember, your operating system is your values and beliefs.  Becoming aware of your beliefs and if your beliefs are supporting you and what you value will help you to make empowered choices of how to use your time and energy.

3 Ways to Condition Your Brain for Mental Gymnastics

Mental Gymnastics?  Think about all the flipping, twisting, jumping, swinAustralian artistic gymnast, Lauren Mitchell, performing a layout step-out on the balance beam during the 41st World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in London, United Kingdom, in 2009.ging, flying, and the list goes on, that you see when you watch a gymnastic event.  Then think about what happens in your head when you have A LOT going on-enter mental gymnastics.  When we are not use to ‘performing’ mental gymnastics we can enter into overwhelm and shutdown ending in a paralyzed state.

For twenty-five years of my life, I coached the sport of gymnastics.  In the gym, I quickly learned that when a gymnastic skill is broken down into smaller parts of the whole skill the learning was much quicker.  I also discovered the value of skill drills, having the gymnast repeat the smaller part over and over again (they hated this!) until they didn’t even have to think about what they were doing.

To draw the correlation, when we are on the precipice of change, growth, or overload, the WHOLE of the mess is too much to comprehend and think about at once.  So here are three things you can do to train your brain to perform mental gymnastics.


I call this the ABCD method-A Brain Clearing Dump!  When you make the intangible thought tangible, it allows you to tap into your senses to help you actually deal with the mess.  Writing things down, you tap into your sense of touch.  You can see your thoughts, which may help you articulate them better to someone, then tapping into your hearing.  You have de-cluttered your head.  Now you have room for strategy and creativity.  This would be like setting up the gymnastic equipment in a gym for the gymnast to do their work of performing.  Your gymnastic equipment is your tangible list of thought.


Looking at your list of thoughts, ask yourself,  ‘what goes together?’  Or take it from the perspective of  ‘one of these things does not belong with the others’.  (Feel like you’re on Sesame Street?).  Then name the categories in a way that it makes sense to you.  There is power in this process because without really knowing it you are conditioning your brain to make mini-decisions, mini-choices.  Sorting and categorizing gives you the ability to see, move around and play with your mess of thought.  Before you know it, you have conditioned your brain to be a bit more agile, flexible and powerful in making choices and decisions.


Have you ever experienced a situation when you are trying to remember a person’s name, a name of a song, or a place and you just can’t bring it forward?  But the whole time you keep saying to yourself, what was the name of that ____________, oh well, I can’t remember.  Then perhaps an hour later, a day later or even a week later out of nowhere the answer pops in your head? Your brain never stops looking for the answer to an open-ended question.  Using what, how, and where questions allow your brain to work for you.  Ask the question and let go.  I have found if I’m patient and pay attention, the answer always presents itself.

These three practices, as simplistic as they may seem, allow you to condition your brain for the really big mental gymnastics that happen in life events such as changes in job, family, lifestyle, health, relationship, and much more.  It’s often the simple practices that create the biggest shifts.  Practice these and do a mental flip….don’t flip out!