Thursday, December 3, 2015

All By Myself

"The trouble is not really in being alone, it's being lonely. One can be lonely in the midst of a crowd, don't you think?"
~Christine Feehan, Dark Prince

There seems to be a bit of a theme in my coaching sessions that surround the idea of being comfortable in your own skin. I'm not talking about loving yourself or accepting your appearance. I'm talking about being comfortable doing things in life as just you.

Women have a much harder time with this I think. When I ask women if they have ever gone to a movie alone, had coffee or even a meal by themselves, or the real test, traveled alone, I often get a look like I'm asking if they ever died their hair neon pink and went to the grocery store naked.

One excuse is, "I don't want to be that pathetic person people wonder why she is alone."

When was the last time you noticed someone by themselves and even gave them a passing thought?(Unless you were on the prowl for a date....different scenario.)

One of the best weekends I've ever had was a New York trip all by myself many years ago. It was empowering for me to do what already countless women do every day who live there. It sparked me taking my daughter back often so that she could learn that cities don't have to be intimidating.

Having a lot of time early in my divorce, I went to the occasional movie or a meal with a book for company.  And of course, I had years of international travel meeting Dan in some part of the world but the travel section was me, myself and I in airport bars or stuck somewhere due to any number of reasons.

Maybe it's the McCaskey grad in me but I'm often shocked at women who tell me they won't drive downtown alone. I look at them with sadness at all of the amazing things they are missing.

A certain strength and confidence come from doing activities that are usually social by yourself. Rather than make small talk (you can do that by yourself but unless you pretend you're on the phone people look at you funny) you learn about who you are or even, on occasion, strike up a conversation with someone completely new.

So I challenge you if you've never done it, to try something by yourself. You'll be surprised at how easy it can be. And you might just gain a bit of confidence.

"If you wanted to do something absolutely honest, something true, it always turned out to be a thing that had to be done alone."
~Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


"You will find joy in everyday life with a heart of thankfulness."
~Lailah Gifty Akita, Beautiful Quotes

Having just swung past Thanksgiving and heading into Christmas I find myself once again looking at everything I'm thankful for this past year.

I'm thankful for:

My coaching clients that put their trust in me and the amazing moments that can come from them

My daughter's love of Harry Potter that led us to a family Universal trip and a 13-year-old almost in tears of joy (huge for her as emotions are not her thing).

Waiting to find that perfect horse rather than settling on something "almost right." If it doesn't feel right it probably isn't-an ideal that should be used often.

An ex-husband that decided to be a place the kids visit rather than live part time. It used to drive me crazy. Now I see it as a gift for everyone involved.

Days the dog does not pee on the floor.

Having a floor, a roof, a home and a family that fills it with so much fun and craziness.

The friends I have helping me with my book. Someday.....

A Queen's fourth birthday. We hold every year as a gift and hope for as many more.

The love and support not just for me but for my kids from a genuinely wild and crazy guy that we wouldn't want to live without.

And as always: Wine.

"We win some, we lose some, but there is always some."
~Anthony Liccione

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


"I have decided to stick to love....Hate is too great a burden to bear."
~Martin Luther King Jr.

I'm extremely sad by the hate our country has embraced. The pictures, memes, videos and unchecked statistics that now plague social media sickens me.

Those that know me can attest that I don't offend easily. Growing up sarcasm was my second language. But there is a difference between offensive and damaging.

Hatred for a culture or group of people based on fear and minimal knowledge makes us no better than any other bigoted, cruel, and small-minded group in our history.

I remember after 9/11 a woman who was like a member of the family at the time had to stop wearing her head covering in public because she was afraid for her safety. She had to fear her own life because a few people did a horrible act. If we, as Americans, had that same issue every time someone did something evil we would never leave our homes.

I have friends that I dearly love of every race, religion, sexual orientation and ethnic background and when I see HATE towards any of them it makes me ashamed and simply sad. Sad for the person doing it and sad that we can so easily still accept it as just an "opinion" and not what it is, a soft form of violence.

I beg everyone before you post your next anti-whatever post, video with misguided facts, or meme you believe to be innocuous, really look at it, research it, know all of the details, not just the radical information you think might be true. Think about who you know that may be affected by such statements, who will YOU hurt by it. Do you want to be that person?

Are you that person?

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it's opposite."
~Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What You Can Learn from a Horse

"I want a ride that is comfy and fast. And you just can't beat the gas mileage or upholstery of a horse."
~Jarod Kintz, Seriously Delirious, but not at all serious

My daughter is a bit of a perfectionist. For the last year, she has started to take English riding lessons. As my trainer says, "There is no better sport for a perfectionist because there will never be perfect."

And that is only one of many lessons horses and the ever challenging sport of riding them can teach you.  What other sport are you trying to decipher the mood, ability and general sanity of an animal that weighs over a thousand pounds? Maybe camel racing but I've not seen that much in this area.

I've had a long list of horses in my 30 years of riding.

My first pony, Mystic, taught me that I couldn't ride. Every time I got on her ended with me flying off in some way. Taking her to a new trainer and actually learning how to ride saved us both in the sport. She later became the prize pony at a school in Maryland.

My first horse, Echo/Canterbury Tales, taught me about competition. We were an amazing team and could often win. She taught me to be dedicated, hard working, a good sport, and forgiving. Unfortunately, she also taught me about heartbreak when she had to retire at a very early age.

My third horse, Pippi Longstocking, taught me patience. She was a young ex-racehorse I bought for $800. I learned how to take a horse and polish her into something talented and show-worthy. I proved that a diamond in the rough could shine like the fancier versions.

My fourth horse, Whoopie/Sister Act, was tragic. She was an amazingly talented mare I bought as a baby who was easy to train and wonderful to work with. Personal health circumstances resulted in leasing her out for awhile. She came back to me a broken version of herself that I could never repair. I will never lease another horse I own.

That lead to my William/Sandpiper, who was simply given to me by his owner. He would never be a fancy show horse, with back issues that made him flip-flop behind (I used to say he was like those dinosaurs that had a brain in their head and in their tail) and a funny jump to the left on occasion. He taught me that the best horses are the ones that become family. Those special animals that seem to sense you. When he died I learned the meaning of losing a piece of yourself.

My next horse, Stewie, who I only had briefly, was my first ever humbling experience. He taught me fear which in all of my years I had never had before. He was beautiful, powerful, and the biggest cream puff ever to have four hooves. He was afraid of his own shadow. I never knew if a bike, a lawn chair, a cone that was moved or a jump that fell over would send him in a tailspin (all things that had actually sent him in a tailspin). He was the sweetest boy, but I could never relax because he could never relax.

Because of him I feel like I appreciate my present girl, Buena Vista, all of the more. She is very young so I can draw from my patience, taking her training slow as she grows. Her personality has already made her feel like a forever member of the family, she is so quiet and easy she acts like an old soul in a young body. She has the potential to compete someday and I can only hope, avoids teaching me more lessons in heartbreak (these horses are so fragile at times it's a wonder they can do what they do).

But as no rider is ever perfect neither is there ever a perfect horse. So we learn, practice, work, succeed, fail, cry, laugh, love and sometimes hate. We break our banks, our bones, and our hearts. If these animals get inside you, it becomes the hardest, craziest, most time consuming and most rewarding thing you will ever do.

And you will never stop learning.

"In riding a horse, we borrow freedom."
~Helen Thompson

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Off Balance

"My point is, life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows, The pina and colada."
~Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously......I'm Kidding

How often do you feel off balance? Something is pushing you to the side and making life a struggle to get back on the tightrope.

Balance is a common coaching area. Balancing work, kids, chores, health and exercise can be a constant Jenga wall, one false move and everything crumbles.

Keeping balance takes energy, creativity, and planning. I often hear, "I just don't have time." And that can very well be true. A person does need to sleep on occasion. But more often than not if we really look at our schedules we can prioritize our time.

Maybe it's less television, internet searching, youtube watching or game playing that can give us more time to plan healthier meals, get more exercise, spend more time with family or do something creative and progressive for ourselves.


I try to eat healthy, but I have my occasional onion ring craving. I exercise regularly, but I absolutely have my "just don't feel like it" days. I can carry myself professionally and still swear like an Eddie Murphy stand-up routine with my friends (sorry mom). I can work hard, play hard, and enjoy both. I can devote my time to my kids and yet breathe a small sigh of relief on the occasions they decide to briefly see their dad.


So that is a huge part of my job, helping people find their balance. Whether it's an 18-year-old student or a middle-aged man or woman simply always fighting that gravitational pull.

Which way is gravity pulling you?

"Life seems so am/pm. But really it's not as balanced as all that."
~Jarod Kintz, A Zebra is the Piano of the animal Kingdom

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Be What You're Not

"I'm not who I pretend to be, even when I act like myself."
~Jarod Kintz, This Book is NOT FOR SALE

Halloween, the only day when grownups not in the entertainment industry can get dressed up and be someone else. I admire the creativity of so many DIY people on Pinterest or hanging out on the plaza of the Today show.

Adults often feel strange about dressing up.  Kids are used to it. Childhood is spent playing superheroes, playing house, being a vet to stuffed animals or giving out "tickets" to the kids in the neighborhood breaking the rules. Don't forget the ever popular Barber (who hasn't cut another kid's hair?).

For adults who we are in reality can be too much at times. Our kids could have us troubled or frazzled, our jobs could be torture to go to every day, or our love life could be anything but loving (call me if any of those resonate).

We pretend to be happy. We pretend to be brave. We pretend to be confident. Adults spend a fair amount of their existence already pretending but usually for all of the wrong reasons and rarely in a cool costume.

So for one night to be a zombie, a superhero, a bubble bath or even some sort of "sexy" whatever (because in reality you never dress sexy) is liberating and fun. It's pretending without guilt. It is, for one night, honest pretending.

Be creative, intriguing, naughty, mysterious, outrages or silly. Have a grownup treat and trick yourself out. Find your inner vampire, rock star, vixen or annoying politician.

Have fun!

Happy Halloween.

"I don't feel very much like Pooh today," said Pooh.
"There, there," said Piglet. "I'll bring you tea and honey until you do."
~A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Play On

"I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny."
~Dr. Suess, The Cat in the Hat

When do we forget how to play?

Recently I was watching a baby squirrel chase the birds on our deck. Mom or Dad was precariously perched upside down munching on the birdfeeder and junior was having a blast shooting across the rail to make the birds fly away. I've never seen an adult squirrel do that.

When do we lose our love of silliness? I know not everyone does. I know adults who still build with Legos. You see the swarms of people at Comicon or the adults who love Disney World even though they don't have children. But typically as adults we don't make it a habit to play.

When was the last time you stopped, on your own, to get an ice cream cone? How long has it been since you climbed on playground equipment? When was your last raucous game of dodgeball?

My family likes to do mini-golf marathons and, on occasion, take over a public tennis court where we play something only very slightly resembling tennis (which is okay-real tennis would be much less fun).  But we lose sight of the need to do such things when life gets busy and stresses build. Isn't that when we need it most?

I glanced at an article the other day about how adult horse riders should learn to ride like pony club kids. Kids don't judge themselves harshly or criticize every stride. They just ride and have fun.  Adults forget that fun aspect.

I ride with an amazing 65-year-old woman that ends every lesson with such an appreciation that she has the opportunity and ability to still ride a horse. Sometimes she is so happy she cries tears of joy. So I can be obsessing over any number of perceivable minor mistakes but when she starts her thankful dialogue I have no choice but to put them aside and join her in being thankful to have the ability to do something I so love and provides so much fun.

Because even in activities that should be fun we put pressure on ourselves to do it perfectly. How many golfers do you know who sometimes come off of a course feeling defeated rather than uplifted? Unless you're hoping to go pro soon maybe take a breath, take a look around, and enjoy the moment. Take the pressure off, relax, and play.

I beg everyone to find something to do that lets you relax and play. If I remember correctly play time was the best part of kindergarten. It should be the best part of our grown up years as well.

"Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Change for a Lifetime

"No one ever drowned in sweat."
~U.S. Marine Corps

I heard something today that I hear frequently when speaking to friends or clients about weight, "If only I were built like you."

I often wonder how to take that. Is it the impression that I can down a cheeseburger and fries five nights a week and still, miraculously, stay thin? Is my physique all about genetics and have nothing to do with exercising regularly and picking better eating options most of the time?

This week I've been bad. I usually do some form of exercise six or seven days a week. With the rain and just not being ready to set foot in the soulless gym I will only get five. Today was a day I opted to work on a project when I wasn't seeing clients and I have already reprimanded myself for it.
I did go out to lunch with my oldest son and I'll admit I was tempted by the crab sliders and sweet potato fries. But today was a lazy day so I went with the light cup of soup and half salad (yet swiped a few fries from my son).

I grab lunch with friends I ride horses with and they'll admit that I usually order my large salad with dressing on the side. (And to be clear this salad is all vegetables and an egg. There is no cheese, croutons, or other items that ruin the value of a salad.) But on occasion I know that won't cut it. I'm craving carbs so I'll get the wrap or, so bad for you crab smothered pretzel. And that's okay. It's only on occasion.

That's what I tell my clients, food is okay. If you deny yourself what you love you will only sabotage yourself later. We all do it. The key in life is moderation, portion control and common sense. If you love ranch dressing get it on the side and drizzle with your fork. If you crave sweet potato fries get a small order and share them with whoever you're with. But if you can simply make better choices, find the healthier options, by all means do that. And PLEASE READ LABELS! Too many adults are awfully unaware of what exactly a portion size is and what a calorie count can quickly rise to.

And as I also tell my clients, you can't move too much. With our busy lives, no one has the time to live at the gym unless you work there. But don't we all have time for at least one 20 minute walk a day? It benefits both the mind and the body. Better yet, squeeze in three walks, or four. Add on deciding to always take the stairs, park farther away or pace while you're on the phone. Just move your body whenever time gives you the opportunity. It actually helps.

So yes, I'm a smaller person. No, that is not from genetics. Yes, I have to actively try to maintain that.

Yes, you can do that too.

Maybe I can help.

Ask me about Healthy Reboot.

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
~Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

Monday, September 28, 2015

Does Time Heal All Wounds?

"The human heart has a way of making itself large again even after it's been broken into a million pieces."
~Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County

I've taken on the huge task of writing a book. It's been over a year of writing, reading, adding, editing, rethinking and the occasional panic attacks surrounding the content. It very well may never be published but just within the process I've had a lot of time to digest some ideas in a new way.

Time heals all wounds.

That idea I'm ready to call bullshit on. If you've been hurt by someone, truly hurt to the point of desperation, time will never make that hurt go away. Wounds of the heart or soul never heal completely. Time, forgiveness, joy, these can all put a stitch, close it up little by little, but as long as you still have the capacity to feel you'll still have a level of hurt.

I'm not just talking about personal pain. I do have many cuts in my heart that I know will always cause me sadness. But I've hurt people I love and I wish the time=healing equation were absolutely correct. I know I will always have to own that hurt. I will always be in charge of adding a stitch through love, laughter and happiness whenever possible. When those things are absent I may see the pain again.

We are human; flawed, beautiful, and fragile. We love deeply, hurt intentionally or by accident, and bleed.

My hope is to continually try to create so much love and joy that the cuts don't have a chance to bleed, only throb in a quiet moment. It seems like a noble purpose. That's all we can do with our pain or the pain we cause others, be better. Learn from it and be better.

Time doesn't heal all wounds. Even decades later a truly horrible moment can feel like a yesterday occurrence. Ask any soldier that has seen real war. Our battle scars are there for a reason. They show us our flaws, our mistakes, or our painful memories. What we do with them, how we add our stitch, can either make us stronger or defeat us.

"Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or.....learn from it."
~Rafiki, The Lion King

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Beyond You

"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."

My family did a collective facepalm last night when I ended dinner by pulling out a mason jar full of rolled up pieces of paper. Looks of complete fear and utter dismay displayed as the questions began.

"What is this?'

"What are you going to make us do?"

"Where did you get this idea?"

This idea, strangely enough, came from my coaching clients. I often give them a challenge for the week between sessions. I started to think about my own life and how I should have a weekly challenge as well. Something to shake things up a bit and get me out of my own head, thinking outside of the normal.

Of course my family could use this also (insert heavy sigh from said family) as they are all in their bubble of school stress, work stress and, well, fill in the blank stress. What if one day a week, I picked Tuesday as it is a non-activity night, we picked a weekly challenge and the following week you report how it went and pick a new one. Seems easy.

My daughter had a fear of horrible challenges like "go for a run every day" or "clean the house," but I explained it was mostly small things that, on occasion, she might already do. For example, her challenge is to exercise three times during the week, easy since she'll have a riding lesson, gymnastics and currently has gym class.

My task is to compliment someone every day for a week (preferably not the same person). If I see something I like this week that you are doing or wearing expect a shout out!

Other examples are to read a book, plan and make dinner one night, do something nice for someone else every day, try a new food or retry one you previously disliked, make a plan with a friend. There is quite a few in the jar with an extra jar to put the completed ones in. They can be recycled at the end. Chances are you won't pick the same one the second time around.

My family is reluctantly going along with it and we'll see if anything positive comes about. My purpose is to get everyone out of their own world a bit if only briefly each week.

Then we can go back to being the center of the universe.

"The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature."
~Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Creating a Wall

"If you keep running into the same wall over and over again, turn."
~Crystal DeLarm Climer

Walls, often a symbol of being contained, blocked or separated from something. We all run into walls, whether it's in our job, relationships or personal accomplishments they are unavoidable.

The true test is how you handle each wall. Do you stop, lean against it for awhile and walk away? Do you find a foothold and start to climb? Or do you find a sledgehammer and destroy it with passion?

Every wall is different.

Relationship walls tend to be constructed slowly over time. We are usually present for every brick that is laid but rarely take notice until the wall starts to obstruct our view. Once acknowledged the options tend to be removing the bricks one by one, letting the wall stand and ending the relationship, or drastically bulldozing the sucker in one motion. On a rare occasion, a relationship wall can be handled that final way, when both parties can find that moment of clarity and understanding of the future. There is still rubble to sift through, but the wall is destroyed.

I have clients in my Healthy Reboot program that hit walls. Family, work, stress or simple lack of motivation halt their progress and make them stand, banging their head against the bricks, wondering where to go. In those moments the wall won't be destroyed, it won't go away. They have to either gain the determination to climb over it or reevaluate their priorities to see if they can slowly find a way around it. That is the keyword: determination. No one can make you determined, motivated or successful. Someone can help you, cheer you on and guide in the right direction, but the work, desire, and drive can only come from within.

Work walls come in a variety of heights and thickness. I have a friend who gives the advice to never waste time in a career you hate. She clarifies that we all waste time in jobs we hate but never in what is a potential career. There is a difference between a job and a career. Great advice but sometimes seemingly impossible if we need that money to survive. I've heard the words, "This is not what I signed up for." It takes great strength and determination to start a new path, turn away from the wall and go in a better direction. Whether it's going back to school or actively job hunting and networking to find a better fit, it takes courage and a strong belief in a future professional happiness.

But if the wall is simply a stalling point in a career you love then it may just take some time to disassemble it to get back on the right path. That often requires a plan or blueprint of steps. But if getting past that obstacle will move you forward it's worth the effort.

What wall are you starting to construct or are you staring up at it right now?

It can only stop you if you want it to.

"A wall is a very big weapon. It's one of the nastiest things you can hit someone with."
~Banksy, Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What Do I Want?

"...and you drink a little too much and try a little too hard. And you go home to a cold bed and think, 'That was fine'. And your life is a long line of fine."
~Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

What does it mean to get stuck in a rut? Is it as simple as just being predictable,  routine or bored with life? Is it not having anything to feel passionate about, look forward to or strive towards? Is it never getting out of your comfort zone and always being afraid to shake the balance of life?

I suppose it can be any combination of these ideas. Some people find the routine, predictable and easy, with the minor daily shake-ups, all they can handle. But so many others long for that "something more." That elusive explosion of change or adventure that seems out of their reach but always in the back of their minds.

I'm absolutely one of those people. I have to have something to look forward to, an adventure or a goal I want to accomplish. Right now we have a family adventure planned in November and I have at least four goals I hope to achieve in the next few months, plus a longer term goal or two.

But so many people get stuck in a self-fulfilling dish of unhappiness with a dash of 'lack of passion' and a hint of 'that's life' attitude that presents the most boring and sad display.

Often I hear "I wish," "if only," or my favorite, "what if?"

Those ideas can be what we need to get out of our rut.

Look at your life right now and say: I wish.....
What is it?
I wish I was in better shape.
I wish I could travel more.
I wish I could find a better job.
I wish I could go back to school.
I wish.....

If only I had the money.
If only I had more time.
If only things were slightly different.
If only...

What if I cut some corners and started a separate account for a vacation?
What if I asked for help from my family to go back to school part time?
What if I started actively looking for that job that I think I deserve.
What if I made a goal to run a 5K or get to the gym four times a week.
What if....

And now the ultimate of questions: What do I want?

I understand having obligations, responsibilities, and a busy schedule. But if your life consists of a job you hate, coming home to a relationship gone sour or simply having nothing positive to strive for it may be time to shake things up.

It doesn't have to be a major Eat, Pray, Love or Wild type of life altering adventure, but it may have to be something. Plan a trip or excursion, sign up for a class, try something or plan something completely out of your comfort zone. Go on a weekend getaway with your partner to reconnect (and if you discover that there is a reason you don't spend that kind of time together discuss that issue). Start a blog, try a sport, pick up an instrument, try out for a play or join a club.


I wish my life could fill me with passion.
If only I could make a plan.
What if I made a plan right now?

I want _____________.

What is stopping you?

"But there was a difference between being stuck and choosing to stay. Between being found and trying to find yourself."
~Martina Boone, Compulsion

Friday, August 28, 2015

You Sexy Thing

"Whenever I see a gorgeous women, I think, Who is that tall drink of water, and how come I'm suddenly thirsty?"
~Jarod Kintz, This Book Title is Invisible

What is sexy?

That question has a different answer to everyone.  And the answer tends to change as we do. What I find sexy in my forties is very different from what I considered in my twenties.

I love to see people who believe their sexiness. I'm not talking about the creepy fat, balding, cocky guy who just comes off as stomach-turning (think Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder or present day Donald Trump). But the people who dress well, carry themselves beautifully and confidently, whether they are a size zero or a size 18, and display a kindness and happiness that shows how they view the world around them.

I love to see women of any size being beautiful and proud of who they are. My group of friends does not include one supermodel and I have to say that the ones that ooze the most sex appeal can be those that society would state should be ashamed of their body. Do you know by today's standards Marylin Monroe would have been considered chunky? Talk about sex appeal that would have been wasted.

What makes me heartbroken is people who give up, who don't care, who dress how they think the world should see them or how they feel about themselves. I know beautiful women who wear stained, ripped, too tight or old clothing because, in their minds, what's the point?

Sexy should not have a size. Sexy should be an attitude, a lifestyle.

I'm not saying we shouldn't always try to be healthy, eat right and work out, but we should love our bodies every minute we are doing it.

Not easy, I know. My husband tells me often that I am the sexiest thing he can imagine. My self-deprecating humor will emerge and I'll tell him he needs to improve on his imagination. But he truly means it and I'm lucky for that.

So what do I find sexy?

Humor mostly, I love it when someone makes me laugh. I have an incredibly sexy husband and some smokin' friends in that department.

Kindness, towards animals, is such a turn-on, but I like kindness to people as well.

Happiness, which is not always easy or possible. But people who display a happy outlook on life are truly the sexiest.

Adventurous. Life should be one big sexy adventure.

Intelligence, being a well-rounded person, which sort of goes along with humor. You need to be quick and bright to be truly funny, rather than tragically amusing.

Smell. Sounds strange but I really like someone who has a distinct nice smell about them.

(Thankfully my sexy husband fits all of these criteria.)

So what is unsexy?

Being too serious. Getting upset over the small stuff and obsessing over things that are trivial.

Being cheap. I get being money conscious, but some people discuss every cent that leaves their pocket as if it's a personal crisis even when they are not in financial trouble at all.

Rudeness. Period.

Cruelty to animals (or people). Those people should just give up and accept their worthlessness.

Stupidity. There is a lot of unsexy in today's world.
***Girl's, please don't up-speak, vocal fry or, for the love of humanity, stop with the every other word "Like." And let's be honest, not everything can be "literally."

So whether you're in a committed relationship or searching for one, think about what you find sexy. It may not be about blond hair or ripped abs. You might surprise yourself.

"She looked so sexy with her sixteen cats that I just had to swipe right, but when she messaged me first quoting Montey Python, I knew it was Tinder love. Maybe on the first date we'll knit the blanket we'll make love under."
~Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not FOR SALE

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Stop, Breathe, and Move On

"Toxic people will pollute everything around them. Don't hesitate. Fumigate."
~ Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

Toxic people are like a bad haircut, you're going to have at least one in your life and you may just have to put up with it for awhile. I'd like to say that the choice is yours on what that time limit is but in reality it doesn't always work that way.

The toxin may come from a coworker or boss that you have no ability to get away from. It may be a teacher you have to deal with for a year or four, a relative you need to see at occasions or an ex-spouse that, if you have children, you are stuck dealing with until your children are grown. Unfortunately a hazmat mask or fumigation doesn't always work and you need to, well, choke down some poison.

The trick is not letting it control you. Typically a toxic person is all about themselves and every drama, conversation or achievement is completely in their limelight.  Often energy vampires, if you find yourself dreading being around someone you have to ask yourself why you need to be? They tend to have little sense of humor about life in general, taking everything way too seriously and not only sweating the small stuff but obsessing about the tiniest of trauma to the most mundane turmoils.

If it's a contact that you can minimize find your best approach to minimize it. Why not? What do you gain having any relationship above the minimally mandated one with a person or people that only cause you stress or dread? Unless they saved your life and you are in their debt maybe move on, or at least buy a hat to cover the bad haircut.

Sometimes, on occasion, a toxic person gets better. This is, maybe, the case of my ex-husband, according to my kids. He actually seems to be TRYING HARDER. They aren't finding excuses not to see him and reasons to avoid interaction. He is attempting to be less toxic. I'm not about to run out and join him for coffee, but I'm thrilled if a relationship with the kids improves. I may actually get a day or two more of free time.

Whether it's a new friend, a dating prospect or an old relationship you've never been quite sure about, beware how the toxins can control and depress you. We get one chance at life and to waste time with people who can't see beyond their own importance is a waste of whatever happiness is pure, unfiltered and genuine.

If you feel like a toxin can be filtered maybe check in now and then to see, surprises happen. But if every indicator points to a naturally poisonous demeanor then by all means, stop, breathe, and let go. Walk away and let the stale air fall behind you. There is too much fresh air to breathe anything else.

"Love is in the air but the air is highly polluted."
~Amit Abraham

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Gratitude and Regrets

"Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, "It might have been."
~Kurt Vonnegut

Regrets, we all have them. Chances we never took, paths we never followed or mistakes that haunt us months, years or decades later. Can we avoid future regrets?

I recently read an article about the top ten regrets people have right before they die. Most focused on not loving enough or not following a dream. I absolutely related. If I were to die tomorrow I would worry that I haven't been loving my family enough. I would also regret never finishing a book. So I've been actively working on my book but that has distracted me from my family. Must multitask better.

Past regrets include not following career paths or staying in a bad relationship a decade too long. And we can wallow in regrets every day until our eyes bleed in disgust. That doesn't help anyone.

So try to find everything in your life, your day, your hour, that you can be thankful for and appreciate.

I'm grateful for:

My fury writing partner that sits next to me in my office.

The veggies I picked in my garden.

My daughter figuring out how to put in contacts.

A lovely young mare to work with for the next many years.

An amazing husband who makes me laugh every day.

My son when he's activated.

The view from my deck.

Fantastic friends.

Modern medicine that fights cancer.

My Mac.


Being able to run.

Air conditioning.


What are you grateful for? I dare you to make your own list and even share it below. Or find one thing every day and post, Tweet or simply keep a journal.

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude."
~A.A. Miln, Winnie-The-Pooh

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

It's Alright to Cry

"Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you."
~John Green, The Fault in our Stars

There's a difference between being sad and being depressed. This is a conversation I had with my kids yesterday. Even though Webster's first definition is "a state of feeling sad" that seems a bit too vague. And too often we use the term depressed for what is essentially sadness.

When something bad happens in life we can get sad. We should get sad. We should mourn our losses, cry over heartbreaks and regret mistakes for the amount of time it takes to start healing and move on with life.

Yesterday I had two separate children crying on my shoulder for two very different reasons. One was sad because for the fourth year in a row all of her best friends are on different teams in school. The fact that every year she adds a new best friend to the fold was not holding water. The only thing holding water was my pants as she sobbed on my lap.

She needed that. She needed to cry, get it out, and go for ice cream.

I have another child who struggles with depression and the sadness is something he lives with and fights with every day. Some days are harder than others. Yesterday was a hard day.

So last night we stayed up late and had a long talk about being sad verses being depressed. They can share the same body, absolutely, but they can also be very different.

I struggled with depression in my late teens and then during a bad marriage, but both were situational depression. Once clear of the situations I was no longer depressed. My child feels that he is doomed. His reasoning is that, on occasion, something happens that makes me sad. But that's the key, sad, not depressed.

Everyone in my generation remembers that Free to be You and Me told us, "It's alright to cry. Crying gets the sad out of you."

It's okay to be sad. It can be cleansing and healing. Just know the difference between a sadness and a depression in yourself, your children, your spouse, or anyone you care for and get the help they need.

How I would define depression is a sadness on many levels that just never seems to go away. It can come about situationally or chemically and it usually requires outside help to conquer. Don't be afraid to get it.

But if you're just sad then be sad. Then try to be happy.

"That's the thing about pain, it demands to be felt."
~John Green, The Fault in our Stars

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Perfectly Not Perfect

"My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library."
~Peter Golkin

If you could design your perfect day what would it be? If nothing was impossible, you could speak with someone who has passed or do something incredible that you would have never thought possible? Or you could ride a bike to the library?

My daughter's perfect day would include a great new book series and a comfortable chair. My son would pick an awesome new video game and my husband would pick golfing with his great friends in Spain like he used to. Speculating on all three of course.

My perfect day would include a ride on my old horse (now passed) William. As I'm back to looking at horses I was discussing this great fellow that I rode the better part of 12 years. Here's the amazing thing: I never once fell off of him. For those of you in the horse world, a gasp was just let out. Twelve years of jumping crazy things and not one fall. I can't say that about any other horse I've ever owned.

But he was far from perfect. He had a funny jump to the right, only got 50% of his lead changes and had a strange back issue that would make him "flip-flop" on occasion. But he was safe, sound and sweet.

And nothing is perfect right? There is no perfect child, spouse, dog, vacation, home....etc. Everything comes with it's headaches, heartaches, and hassles. It's how you handle it that defines you. You can obsess, worry, overthink and discuss until your ears bleed or you can take things as they come, with grace and poise, and conquer one by one without losing hope.

I try to do the latter. I'm a private overthinker but a public "let's not discuss it until we have to" kind of person. And I can often revel in the imperfections. Imperfections are what keep our lives interesting. Don't get me wrong, sometimes they just completely SUCK (as we get ready to dump a small fortune into new siding for our house or the retirement of a great horse who will forever hold a piece of my heart). But if we all were Stepford people with Stepford lives we would all crave something to shake things up (I suggest you watch or rewatch the movie Pleasantville-classic and super funny).

So what would your perfect day be?

"Too late, I found that you can't wait to become perfect, you got to go out and fall down and get up with everyone else."
~Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked this Way Comes

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Begin as a Beginner

"You wanna build your IQ higher in the next two years? Be uncomfortable. That means, learn something where you have a beginner's mind."
~Nolan Bushnell

Begin at the beginning. Seems obvious, right? But so often we want to skip a step, a beat, a task or cut corners to get to our goals.

We try the fad diet that promises fast results. We buy the "seen on TV" tricks that make anything super easy. We start an exercise plan too quickly or in a way that leaves us frustrated or injured. We live in a society of fast information and quick fixes to any problem.

So when was the last time you began as a beginner? Really took your time and learned a new approach to something? When have you slowly built a foundation for a lifestyle change or activity that would grow in a healthy and sustainable way?

A few years ago I was discussing teaching some beginner riding lessons (not at the place I ride) as it was something I had done in the past. Concerned that the pay was too low I was told that they only needed someone with half of a brain to say "up down" (posting rhythm) to beginners. That ended the conversation.

The foundation for any sport, especially one involving a large animal with ideas of it's own, is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of any new endeavor. There is so much that goes into a beginner anything. In photography, you have to really understand all of the complexities of the camera. With weight lifting, you must make sure your form is correct and your progression is at the right pace to prevent injury. Learning to play an instrument involves reading music and knowing how to make something pleasant out of sound. It would be like taking a handgun class where the most important concept was pulling the trigger.

We are never too old to begin again. But go into it holding as much knowledge as you can. Research, ask questions, and keep your mind open to learning something new and create that good foundation. Whether it's a new diet, exercise, hobby, relationship (yes-online dating or blind dates), career, whatever, go into it with all of the information you can gather and do it in a solid, safe way.

Even with decades of experience I get on any new horse the first time with the mentality of a beginner. I need to learn about him or her slowly or else there may be a surprise I'm not prepared for. I don't bounce like I used to and if I build an understanding of that animal it makes for a greater chance of success.

Build a strong foundation in all areas of your life so that nothing fully crumbles. There will be cracks now and then, after all, each one of us, every day, is dealing with other creatures with ideas and minds of their own. That's life. That's why we have patches.

"You can learn new things at any time in your life if you're willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you."
~Barbara Sher

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hopes and Dreams

"If you don't like where you are, then change it.
You are not a tree."
~Jim Rohn

Do you have a goal, a dream, a plan or even a fantasy? If I were to ask you to quickly name the first thing that you are unsatisfied with in your life what would it be? Don't think abut it, follow your gut reaction.

What is keeping you from trying to change it? Most of the time it's typical excuses.

I don't have time. I don't have the resources. I'm too scared to shake things up. What if I fail? It will be too hard.

With eight years in the fitness industry, I would hear excuses all of the time about exercise. I should lose some weight before I go to the gym. I'm always too tired to work out. My schedule is too busy.

We all know that exercise boosts your energy, metabolism and mood. Waiting to get fit until you drop pounds is like waiting to change the oil in your car until your engine locks up. It makes no sense.

I hear the "lack of time" excuse in my coaching practice about everything from healthy meal preparation, exercise, business development goals, relationship issues....the list is endless.

If I were to tell you that you had an extra hour every day what would you do with it? Now, if I tell you there would be one less hour in your 24 what would you give up? Now swap one for the other. Does that seem too simple?

I understand the pressures of work, family and personal time balance. When it comes to your health, what is more inconvenient; extra time on healthy meals and fitness or type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease?

As far as your happiness, who else is more important? If you have a goal, whether it be professional, personal or outright crazy in nature, isn't pursuing that goal, chasing happiness, better than staying stagnant and stale? What is happiness worth to you?

"A dream is a wish your heart makes," according to Disney's Cinderella. There seems to be a shortage of Fairy Godmothers. Without a Bipity Bopity Boo answer, the only alternative is to fight for our dreams, work for our goals and accomplish something.

What are you willing to fight for?

"A goal is a dream with a deadline."
~Napoleon Hill

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Confederates and Rainbows

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
~Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches.

One flag is coming down and another is being raised.

One, although a part of history, is viewed as a sign of hatred and inhumanity.

The other, in all of it's vibrant colors, is a sign of love and acceptance.

And both are steeped in controversy.

I suppose I understand how Southerners look at the Confederate flag as a part of their history, but if you think about it, the Nazi flag is a part of German history and you don't see those hung proudly throughout the country. It was a time when the south was, well, wrong, and so lost the war. But unlike most Germans there are still people who believe they weren't wrong and dress up in cowardly white robes to spew their racist and ignorant ideas.

I heard a comedian recently state that if he sees a Confederate flag in a bar he knows two thing: he's going to hear the words "son of a bitch" repeatedly and there is probably a goat on the property. I'm sorry, but no one associates the Confederate flag with high intelligence. Think about it. If you went into your mechanic and they had one flying you MIGHT let him work on your car. If you went into your doctor for surgery and he proudly pointed it out in the operating room you might wait for a second opinion.

And then there is the rainbow flag. A sign that love wins. I apologize, but I see the controversy over that flag as stupid as the Confederate flag.

People are posting that it defies God and the Bible. People are claiming that they "don't believe in it" like it's in the same category as Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny.

What is unreal or wrong about two people in love, willing to make a commitment to each other? What is wrong with wanting the same rights as a couple and as a family no matter who you choose to be with?

The Catholic church's new Pope seems much more enlightened than many average Americans. Just because someone told you that a book written centuries ago should be interpreted a certain way and never rethought, reevaluated and, in many ideals, disregarded as antiquated has created a version of bigotry that seems okay in the name of religion.

I can give you four interpretations of any Dr. Suess book.

I know I'll be told I'm wrong, I don't understand. So please explain it to me if you can.

Because I just want everyone to be happy, feel safe, and live without fear for the color of their skin or who they love.

"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."
~William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well

Friday, June 12, 2015

I Challenge You

"When faced with two equally tough choices, most people choose the third choice; not to choose."
~Jarod Kintz, This Book Title is Invisible

Have you ever been asked, "Are you up for the challenge?" Are you?

I'm giving some great women (who are putting their trust in me) a month long challenge that I hope will transform the way they live their daily lives.

I'm asking them to eat consciously, move daily and think about their health. Do you do that?

I've started a program I'm calling Healthy Reboot and it means just that, reboot your lifestyle in a healthier fashion. There are three areas of focus:

1) Eating consciously. What that means is simply thinking about what you're eating and why. What are your bad habits, for example, late night TV munching or overindulging in restaurants? And most importantly, are you eating the right things for your body to stay healthy?

I HATE the word diet. When you tell someone they need to diet, I don't care who you are, it's a depressing thought and they immediately think about everything they can't eat. There are no taboo foods. It's all about a balance.

2) Exercise. Move. Be active. Do you know that the starting goal on a Fitbit is 10,000 steps? That's the baseline goal. For one month, I'm asking my clients to move every day. Whether it's swimming, biking, yoga, an exercise class or simply mowing the lawn or walking the dog, I'm requesting something that moves the body every day. Could you commit to that? Do you already?

3) Coaching. As a coach, it's my job to ask the right questions and try to help with anything that might be a source of sabotage or trigger points that trip someone up. Often just talking about your health and what your goals are will keep the idea present and in perspective, making it easier to obtain. Also knowing that nothing happens instantly so making sure those goals are reasonable, not unattainable to the point of frustration.

I'm also your biggest cheerleader, motivator AND task master. I am the person, besides yourself, that will keep you accountable and help you when things don't go as planned or your train gets derailed.

It takes, on average, a month to make or break a habit. So that is what I'm offering, a month to make good habits and break bad ones. Of course, I'll also be available when needed after the month but if you're determined you can reboot your lifestyle in a month.

Get out of your comfort zone and explore your potential.

Do you need a reboot?

"The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun."
~Benedict Cumberbatch

Friday, June 5, 2015

A Body in Motion

"I'm in great shape. I'm 30 years old, and I feel like I'm 29."
~Jarod Kintz, A Zebra is the Piano of the Animal Kingdom

Diet and exercise, two things that tend to go together like burgers and fries, strawberries and whipped cream, vodka and tonic, wine and....anything. You get the idea.

People are always looking for the quick fix, magic potion or secret wonder food that will shed the pounds. They want to combine that with the ultimate workout, one that is quick, cheap and promises the ripped beach body.

Well, brace yourselves, I'm about to give you the AMAZING answer to that pesky weight problem.

Drum roll, fanfare and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

Move more and eat less.

Expecting something else?

Having just finished a nutrition program I can tell you all about proper nutrients, portion size and what foods to avoid. And as a past fitness instructor I can take you through a workout that would rival the Biggest Loser.

But is huge lifestyle revamping the way to go or can people modify and tweak what is comfortable for them to encourage a lasting change? Fad diets are only proven to create a yo-yo society when it comes to weight and the convenience and price of fast food have the world packing on the pounds.

I'm not an advocate for cutting everything you love out of your life or starting an exercise plan that you will ultimately burn out from.

My family loves onion rings so when we go somewhere we know they are "worth it" we get a basket and split them between all four of us. It works out to maybe two per person. Perfect.

Years ago, when I was teaching multiple hard-core classes every day, I was constantly in pain and always hungry. I couldn't eat enough to keep my weight from plummeting. I had a six pack and guns for arms and I was miserable, popping Advil like tick tacks.

I'm certainly not saying if that is your goal you shouldn't go for it but if your goal is to be fit and healthy in a realistic way there are so many options. Just small diet changes and finding activities you enjoy can be the simplest of answers.

Of course, some would say that if you hate exercise why do something you hate. True enough. If you hate jogging don't commit to a running schedule, chances are you'll fail. But too often someone's hate of exercise only gets a jump start when a potential or real medical problem comes to play. Don't wait until you're pre-diabetic or dealing with heart disease to make a change. Not to mention the absolute fact that exercise can act as an anti-depressant. Who doesn't need a bit more happiness?

I remember reading an interview with a pretty buff actor who simply said his secret was to work up a sweat somehow, once a day. Might seem unrealistic in a busy life but it's not if you redefine what working up a sweat is. It doesn't have to be an hour of Body Destruction Combat Crossfit Whatever. That stuff is great when you can fit it in. But it can simply be a brisk walk with a dog, yard work or doing a quick 20-minute routine that can be easily thrown together.

With long days and warm weather, the timing couldn't be better to find what could become your next healthy hobby. Swim some laps, jump on a bike, grab some high energy tunes and go for a walk/run, hike your nearest trails or sign up for something completely out of your norm; yoga, martial arts, horse riding, Zumba, whatever sparks your interest.

Say to yourself, "I've always wanted to try _______" and see what pops into your brain. Don't wait until a doctor is saying it's necessary, make it necessary for your life now.

What do you have to lose?

"If we are creating ourselves all the time, then it is never too late to begin creating the bodies we want instead of the ones we mistakenly assume we are stuck with."
~Deepak Chopra

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Gay Irish Wedding

"The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer."
~Mahatma Gandhi

Kindness, compassion, acceptance, understanding, all words I would hope we all strive for and want in return.

It's hard in today's world, where it's so easy to cyber bully or even for that matter respond quickly in anger without thinking. I have definitely done that, sometimes justified, sometimes not.

Twenty years ago to be angry at someone meant a face to face confrontation, phone call or, hold your breath, writing a letter, with a stamp and everything. Nothing says 'maybe I'm not so angry after all' as trying to put it on paper (try it kids).

Ireland just made it legal for gay marriage and in grand support comes the hatred. J.K. Rowling tweeted a great idea of Dumbledore and Gandolf marrying in Ireland only to be shot down by the Westboro Baptist Church. She gave a short, wonderful response of course but why did she engaged at all with such ignorance?

She said, "I don't care about WBC. I think it's important that scared gay kids who aren't out yet see hate speech challenged."

Brilliant. But where I really learned something was from Evanna Lynch, the actress who played Luna Lovegood. She asked that any anti-gay activist please unfollow and block her. Fair enough. But as she wrote on she explained that having a belief, no matter how misguided, is everyone's right. It's how you put those beliefs on other people that defines your character.

And I never thought of it that way. I had somewhat of an idea that if you secretly judged someone or hated a group of people in an irrational way it made you a bad person. And maybe in a sense it makes you unfortunate, but if you never verbalize, never act on it, never make anyone ever feel any less for it, it is simply a belief and not harmful.

When I told my grandfather I was adopting my daughter from China he said, "You're going to have a little Chink." Meanwhile, he was in tears with joy and began to say he only wanted to live to see this baby. He died before that happened but for my grandmother, who she is named after, she was a joy in her final days.

But in saying that clearly racist term (which I told him he was never to say again) it simply showed his generation. One of World War Two veterans who used such terms without a second thought. Yet he was one of the most loving of men no matter who you were.

So I feel sorry for those who don't know how to change the beliefs that have been ingrained in them and only hope that until they are enlightened they do no harm.

But if your intent is to do harm, to judge, accuse, scorn and hate people you really don't even know, please, as the young actress above requested, remove me from any social feed or possible way of communication. Because to do that you are attacking my friends and my family.

It makes about as much sense as hating people with red hair.

Way to go Ireland.

"I believe a Christian muffler shop owner should have the same right to refuse service to a gay couple, as a gay lifeguard has to refuse service to a drowning Christian.
~Quentin R. Bufogle

Monday, May 18, 2015

How You Going?

"How ya doin'?' I always think, What kind of question is that?, and I always reply, 'A bit too early to tell."
~Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

If I pass you while I'm running in the park, whether you are biking, pushing ten babies, walking three dogs, rollerblading or running, I will smile, wave and say good morning or hello. 

Sometimes I get a truly wonderful response in return. Someone with a big smile and an enthusiastic greeting gives me a small burst of energy and an actual brief joy. Some look at me a bit awkwardly and do a half wave, a brief nod. Some do a sideways smile. Others look away like I invaded their space. Some refuse to make eye contact to begin with. Those people slow me down. I actually feel a loss of energy in my stride.

I'm not saying they are bad people. Some people are very shy or live by the rule of not speaking to strangers even as adults. But their lack of luster makes me sad.

Kids are the best. Some are so excited to be acknowledged and others look immediately worried and confused. I don't take their response personally either, but a cute kid with a huge smile and enthusiastic wave makes my day.

I don't think we are friendly enough anymore. Not to mention the fact that it's good practice to look at the people around you, know what they look like and how they carry themselves. Look them in the eye with confidence and determination. If you go through life with your head down you may miss something important or, at least, present yourself as insecure and vulnerable.

Years ago in Australia the greeting was always, 'How you going?' (That would be a great greeting for joggers or bikers as they pass.) Most people in Australia would smile, look at you, and ask that simple question. It was nice.

How much better would everyone's day be if we all took the time to smile at someone, greet them warmly, and make sure they know they are seen. How often do you not look at your checkout person, waiter, receptionist or any number of other people you come in contact with in a week. How little would it take to change that habit?

So if you see me running be prepared to be greeted! Don't make me lose my stride.

How you going?

"Good Morning! Good Afternoon! Good Night! These are not just mere greetings.
They are powerful blessings, setting the best vibration for the day. Hence, whether it is morning, afternoon or night, make sure that you say your greeting right."

~Franco Santoro

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Heartbreak and Hooves

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."
~Winston Churchill

That quote has been manipulated by many people, including Ronald Reagan, and can be very true, depending on the horse.

Horses can be like anything one loves in life, a pure joy, almost high that someone feels, like a runner crushing a marathon.

They can also break your heart. I have a friend recovering from a knee injury not sure she would ever run again, and running for her is like breathing, how is it possible to not do it? That is horses to a tee.

These big beasts that carried men through war and pull plows, buggies, jump huge jumps and carry police officers around cities are incredibly fragile. They seem to "break" every bit as easy as we do.

We have a lot of heartbreak at the moment where I ride. Injuries that have these beauties recovering for six months to a year or more. I know when my Sweet William was injured I could have sunk thousands into his recovery but he was already in his 20's so retirement was the only answer. It devastated me, he was my safe place through the hardest point in my life. When he had to be put down from a tumor that blocked his throat two years later I didn't know if I would ride again.

He's not the first to break my heart. Most have taken a chunk, whether an early retirement or a myriad of circumstances that led to sadness or disappointment, I have had my share of equine angst.

But I have a second chance with a beautiful big boy, Stewie, so generously put in my care by his loving previous owners. Much like William was left to my care as well and we had an amazing 12 years together. But Stewie had a pretty bad injury, he recovered and reinjured. That's tough on a huge body. I know when I tore both of my ACL's I was told if I re-tore it was only that much less likely to hold.

But this guy is worth the chance. He has the personality of my Sweet William and the presence of a 'King of the Ring.' Everyone that watches his trot and canter can't help but to say "Oh My!" He floats. I've never used this word before for anything I've ever ridden, he is lovely.

But at every moment as he becomes my next heartbreak I hold hard to the hope that I'm taking him slow, recovering him in a smart way, and will give him a lifestyle that hopefully keeps him healthy and happy. He seems to know me now and he is very content in his new life. We have figured out a trust and bond in two months that make me proud of us both.

So there is always a next chapter, a second chance. Whether you're a heartbroken rider, a recovering athlete or simply having any setback in life that seems so devastating in the present. There is always hope, a second chance or a new challenge. Sometimes you have to search for it and sometimes, with patience, it is dropped at your door with four hooves and a love of carrot kisses.

Never lose hope.

"They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for."
~Tom Bodett

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Good Cop/Bad Cop

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
~George Orwell

I'm so tired of the cop bashing.

Too many people in the United States and around the world are putting our police officers into a box and labeling them evil. That is about as justified as labeling every German who lived through World War Two a Nazi or every person even resembling someone from the Middle East a terrorist.

Yet that, as a society, seems to be our mentality.

Do you remember after 9/11 how we revered our men in women in uniform? Police, firefighters, and our military were the heroes we so needed. But we also needed someone to blame so innocent people in our country were taunted, called names, threatened or were the victims of violence because they wore a head cover, spoke with a certain accent or had a skin color just similar enough to look like the men who crashed planes. I know this not from the news, but because some of them were my friends.

Some police officers recently have done some extremely unfortunate things. But I would put all of my money that in the same time period the majority of our sworn protectors have done just that, protected. I would wager for every mistake a cop has made there are at least a thousand who have done something amazing in that same second. We don't hear about them. Nor do we hear about every officer in the country killed in the line of duty.

I personally can't even imagine performing a simple traffic stop, walking up to a car not knowing if the person driving is hiding something much more than a broken tail light or traffic violation. Every police officer is amazingly braver than I ever will be. Can you imagine our society without them?

My son wants to be a police officer, but the recent environment makes him question that choice. Does he want to be in a profession where he is putting his life on the line every day and still people hate and disrespect him? It's a fair concern. How many other future amazing men and women are second guessing that career choice?

I know, we have racial profiling and a society that claims to be evolved but continually fall backward into conflict. But blaming a race or a profession on circumstances we personally can't even begin to understand is fueling the fire and solidifying that we will never be as smart or forward thinking as we so intently try to be.

I may not live to see a time when racial issues are completely out of our society, but I can definitely say we are going in the extreme wrong direction.  And I'm not a religious person but there is one part of my upbringing that would be great to start saying to everyone regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or occupation.

Peace be with you.

"Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity."
~Kofi Annan

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Body Shame

"Sometimes we're more fit. Like, especially me. I'm such a creative person that I yo-yo. Sometimes I'm more fit and I get into kickboxing hardcore. And then sometimes I don't and I'm like, 'I'd rather have wine.'"
~Kelly Clarkson responding to body shaming.

I'm confused by this sudden outpouring of body shaming. Okay, maybe not sudden. It's been happening for awhile. And I'm not an angel when it comes to obesity. At least not inwardly. I try not to speak my thoughts, but I'll admit at times looking at someone and thinking "how do you let it get to that?"

That's extreme cases, for example recently my daughter and I were out to dinner and witnessed a man who actually, physically needed two chairs. But I don't know his story. So thus my question of 'how do you let it get to that?'

But body shaming a weight gain is just mean.

When I look at my daughter she is, of course, perfect. She has the best little physique. She has strong shoulders from 8 years of gymnastics, strong legs from track, riding, swimming and walking, and a great attitude about eating. She is the first to tell a friend who is body shaming themselves that they are fine and to freakin' eat something!

She is an advocate to eat to be healthy. In fact, at 12, she's probably the healthiest eater I know.

And that is where the issue often lies. Food and eating considered healthy. Too often, food is a taboo and eating is something to be agonized over and regretted. Food is the enemy. That seems only true if you have a terrible allergy or issue such as high blood pressure, diabetes or an eating disorder.
For these serious health issues, food can very readily be the enemy. It can also be the hero. It depends on the moment.

But as I go through a nutrition degree program I'm truly understanding what we need and why. Food is not the enemy, we are. We decide what to put into our bodies and how much.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the occasional french fry or onion ring, I'm also for the desire to eat a salad (and by that I mean vegetables), go for a run, ride a horse or do anything that moves your body. I'm about living a healthy lifestyle full of everything delicious.

I am, at the moment, the heaviest I've been in three decades (not counting pregnancies) and that is to say I'd feel best if I lost about 5 pounds. Boo freakin' hoo right? I apologize that I have my dad's genetics and both of my parent's desire to stay fit (my mom is super fit and strong, but her side has to work twice as hard to stay that way). That's not to say every time I lace up my running shoes I don't secretly think maybe I could just skim the internet for an hour instead, find a blog topic or read a book. It's a struggle most of the time.

But I also know how I feel in my own skin, and that is how I can motivate me.

But overeating and staying sedentary are, of course, never the right choice. But as Miss Clarkson stated, we go through phases in our life that may derail us and that's okay. We are allowed and no one should shame us for it. We just need to figure out what motivates us to get stronger, healthier and run (no pun intended) with it.

After all, I'm sure we all have some part of us that may embarrass or shame us. It just might not be as openly obvious as an extra 50 pounds. If we all had to wear a sign as we see in pet shaming Facebook photos we may look at each other with more compassion and understanding.

I have two women in my neighborhood who walk for hours and hours every day of the week. I'm pretty sure their upper thigh is the size of my lower forearm. I'd like to often ask them to take a break with me and get a pizza. But even that thought is shaming them for what they are struggeling with.

We all have one body, one skin, and one chance. What we do with that chance is only and completely up to us. And no one, unless you are a true harm to yourself or others, has a right to judge you. So be creative, be dramatic, be energetic, be confident, drink wine, have a slice of cheesecake, have an adventure. Just be who you are to the best you know how to be and then no one has the right to say you're doing it wrong.

Be strong.

"Nothing was a more powerful compass of my mood or a better indication of my self-worth than the number on the scale."
~Betsy Lerner,  Food and Loathing: A Life Measured Out in Calories

Friday, April 17, 2015

Unhappily Ever After: Divorce

"The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn't want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached Greenland."
~Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

That book had a profound impact on my life. Especially the bathroom section where she is sure she doesn't want to be married anymore and it becomes a prayer. It is one of a huge list of things that gave me strength.

I had lunch today with a long time friend who I have some things in common with. The first time we met, possibly ten or more years ago, we both admitted we were desperately unhappy in our respective marriages. I've been done for more than six years now and she is finally making the leap.

And like all newly starting the process you believe it will be easy. You'll be nice, he'll be understanding and life will go on happily ever after.

And then you wake up from that dream.

Divorce is the quintessential Gotham villain Two-Face, nice one moment and ready to rip you to shreds the next. It brings out the most horrible attributes in the best of people. It becomes about greed, blame, and control. Throw kids in the mix and you have a lifetime of dealing with such issues.

I've done divorce coaching and I have to say my only advice I give is to be prepared for anything. Know your rights, worth and angles for every circumstance long before you need them. Too often I've heard the words, "It was going so well, I never thought he/she was capable."

Things change, people go a bit off, emotions are never predictable.

As for the kids, I read a column from a pediatrician last year stating how detrimental divorce is to children. My kids would beg to differ. They are much happier with parents that are happy. They are learning what a good marriage looks like and what stability in a family feels like. They no longer deal with the tension and sadness that was any family time together.

No happy marriage ends in divorce. No one ever said, "I love you way too much to make you keep living with me."

Stop beating yourself up if that is the path you are presented. Stop feeling so guilty!

I used to choke on the words, telling people I was in the midst of such a thing. I was only ever met with understanding and support. (Although don't ever say "I'm sorry" to that news. As stated above, usually for the best.)

And in the end you may find what I've found, that person that is exactly what you were missing. That person you never thought you would find let alone deserve.

Don't beat yourself up for happiness. I guarantee the divorce process will take care of that for you.

Happiness is worth it.

"Divorce isn't such a tragedy. The tragedy's staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce."
~Jennifer Wiener, Fly Away Home

"What we wait around a lifetime for with one person, we can find in a moment with someone else."
~Stephanie Klein, Straight Up and Dirty, A Memoir

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Anger Management

"Get mad, then get over it."
~Colin Powell

If only that were easy. Forgive and forget, right? But how do we accomplish that divine ability to take a deep breath and, well, let it go?

It's a struggle.

I can really hold a grudge.

I haven't forgiven a boss from years ago who was so dishonest it made me quit. Or a co-worker who betrayed me so horribly I had to walk away.

I haven't forgotten certain family members that turned against me during my divorce, believing I was wrong, and later coming to see the horrible person I was getting away from.

And, of course, there is that said person. Every month when he proves where his children are in his priorities I have to fight my anger. I often write long emails that I never send. I have learned to bite my tongue and know that my kids will always feel loved and wanted here.

The hardest one at the moment are those kids. I get angry at my one son for not trying harder in school (I mean he's REALLY not trying). Or my other son for deciding his teenage girlfriend's family is more important than ours to the extent if someday they get married he should probably take her name.

So how to unknot the stomach and redefine emotions? How can you get to that inner peace where you can look back on people's mistakes or failures and not feel that same sick feeling of hurt and anger?

I'm very much trying.

Mark Twain said, "When angry, count four. When very angry, swear."

True enough. Sometimes anger is needed, necessary, cathartic even. As John Green wrote in The Fault in Our Stars, "Pain demands to be felt." If you stifle pain, anger, disappointment, you may quickly either implode or explode leaving yourself and possibly others as casualties.

I think the trick is to deal with it as it happens. Address it right away and move on. Not something I'm very good at, thus the lingering occasional stomach knot.

But I'm going to try and do better. Be bolder and braver when the time comes to discuss my disappointment. I'm a natural "keep it in" and "don't make waves" kind of person. But maybe from now on a few surfing days are in order.

"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret."
~Ambrose Bierce

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Walk Before You Can Run

"I didn't know why I was going to cry, but I knew if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of the throat and I'd cry for a week."
~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar


It seems to touch everyone at some point in life. Whether it's you or someone you love.

We've been battling with depression in one of our children for awhile now and it's heartbreaking, frustrating, scary and exhausting.

It's a crazy illness that there is no physical therapy for. You can have better living through chemistry, but there isn't a PT program where twice each week you can relearn how to be happy with a few simple exercises.

It's completely in the hands of the sufferer to find that program. It's very easy to want to stay in bed, sleep all day and not interact. It's comfortable in its loneliness.

So like any illness or injury you have to slowly regain strength or relearn how to function. You can't just go run a marathon two weeks after knee surgery. You have to work back into a program to where walking is comfortable, then running, then running farther every day, week, month.

Depression can be the same. Slowly accepting social offers, making yourself get outside, trying to find the things you enjoyed doing or new hobbies that keep you active and occupied. Then slowly the rhythm of life doesn't become so foreign or difficult but easy and natural.

In an earlier blog called The Ugly Sweater I used that metaphor. We wear our sadness like an invisible ugly sweater that we hate but at the same time is comfortable and keeps us warm and safe. Sometimes people catch a glimpse of it but most of the time we hide our sweaters under layers so no
one knows.

Too often, it is believed that it's a sign of weakness and one should just be able to look at the bright side and be happy,  just take off the stupid sweater. If only it was as easy as a wardrobe change.

 I love a quote from The Book Theif by Markus Zusak: "Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day."

That's living a life of depression; feeling slapped and usually smiling on the outside regardless.

So if you're walking in a world of depression, I hope you can find the courage to set out at a jog every so often, and eventually try a run. There may never be a finish line but the race itself may take on a new purpose with the prize being life and all it can have to offer.

And as you're running your sweater may also unravel.

"That's the thing about depression. A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees an end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end."
~Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Brave Now. Afraid Now.

" I'm not afraid of death; I just don't want to be there when it happens."
~Woody Allen

The title is from an old Sesame Street clip of Elmo shifting back and forth from feeling brave to afraid, brave, afraid....


I hate fear. I hate to feel afraid or intimidated. I know it's necessary. It's that feeling in your stomach when something feels off. It's the hair on the back of your neck and the voice in your head saying danger is around to put you on high alert.

But what about the irrational fear. The phobias and the moments when we are scared to do something logically we know should not frighten us.

Recently I've started a lovely horse back to work after more than half of a year recovering from an injury. He has been a perfect gentleman. I should feel confident and secure with my decades of horse experience.

Unfortunately a number of things put my bravery back a step. Not one of them major in any way but the combo and timing put a small tingle of fear in me.

But he has proven that he is smart and sweet, although a bit of a scaredy horse himself sometimes with noises. I have started to trust him and in turn he is more relaxed. Although the first few rides, feeling his nervousness made me nervous, and we would share our growing ball of tense with each other like a defective toy.

How do you make that fear you know isn't helpful or needed dissipate? Whether it's a fear such as waiting nervously for a child to come home or a call with a diagnoses. Or fear that keeps you from trying something new or overcoming an obstacle.

I wish I knew. I personally despise feeling like fear will win. Most of the time I can berate myself into getting past it.

Unfortunately, on occasion, fear has won. Usually that leads to something I like to call my regrets. And at least in my life, regrets are worse than fear.

So if you're struggling with a fear or simply trying to face something bravely let me know. Maybe we can pep talk each other. I find that nothing helps a person with their own fear as much as being a cheerleader for someone else.

So take a minute. Take a breath. Hell, take a drink if needed. And as the saying goes: put on your big girl/boy panties and get to it.

We've got this.

"What you fear most of all is -- fear. Very wise..."
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Training Wheels

"To be environmentally friendly, I'd ride my stationary bike to work. I hope this career works out, because it feels like I'm just spinning my wheels."
~Jarod Kintz, This Book is NOT FOR SALE

The other day we had a taste of spring and like most people, I had to get outside. I took a long walk through the park, passing dog walkers, strolling couples and of course parents with their kids.

One women was desperately trying to encourage her son to "put your feet on the pedals! I promise you'll be fine!"

Training wheels laying to the side the child was whining and pleading, "I don't want to!"

I felt bad for them both.

I understand that fear. That fear that our physical selves are about to be harmed so let's just stop whatever nonsense is leading up to that. I've had to conquer that fear. A few instances are getting on a horse that wants to kill me, jumping in a self defense training ring with someone twice my size, filing for divorce in a bad marriage or traveling to another country to find real love.

We all face that fear on occasion and rarely can we find a pair of training wheels. Sometimes it's a personal motivational speech, a cocktail, or our own cheerleading squad that gives us the push. Other times we may just whine, plant our feet and refuse to touch the pedals.

What are you putting off, afraid to try? What is missing on your checked off bucket list, personal accomplishments or life goals? What do you need to start pedaling towards?

Wether it's a friend, a coach, or simply a plan to begin trying, don't let fear stop whatever you wish for in life. It may be hard, it may be exhausting, it may even hurt, but if in the end you achieved something you've long put off then it was worth the struggle.

Take off your training wheels and go somewhere.

"Chances don't approach you,
It's you who approach chances."
~Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

Monday, March 16, 2015


"On TV, I can hit the mute button and silence any moron. I wish real life came with a hush button I could push and enjoy instant quiet."
~Jarod Kintz, At even one penny, this book would be overpriced. In fact, free is too expensive, because you'd still waste time by reading it.

Imagine having that magical mute button. You could turn off a whining child, an annoying sales person or, lets be honest, any number of idiots one person can encounter.

The other day I was standing in line at Walmart waiting for the third time to see if they finally had my son's prescription ready. A nice couple behind me were having the same issue. We chatted for a bit until she said she had tried Walgreens but the woman had a "head cover thing" and it made her uncomfortable. MUTE

If I had been able to mute my ex-husband I may have stayed married longer and the kids might actually go see him more. But last night I was the one told to hush.

My kids always come home from their rare day or two with their dad and just vomit the details with no prompting. Sometimes it sounds so terrible I go into Momma Bear mode and send a "how dare you" text or email. That, from what I understand, is the wrong approach. All that does is lead to another lecture on their next visit simply adding to the circle of torture.

So I have promised to mute. I will not discuss anything regarding the kids with him unless it is absolutely necessary (medical issue or he decides to use one as a punching bag again). The kids can share their life details or not, their choice, and they will have to be their own advocate.

Because really, why waste the energy? People are who they are. We can try to change them. In our minds they are flawed, wrong or simply bat-shit crazy. But unless that feeling is shared the result is as effective as shaving a cat.

It's a simple coaching idea: If you can't change the situation than alter your approach and change your perspective. We all know the definition of insanity.

So my approach is to stay quiet and my perspective will be one of blissful ignorance about the situation.

In the words of the great Elmer Fudd I will be "vewy vewy qwiet."

"If you can be quiet, you're more than welcome to stay in my House of Silence. Bring your own bubblegum ice cream."
~Jarod Kintz, Seriously delirious, but not at all serious."

Friday, March 13, 2015

Out of Focus

"My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip."
~Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing

Stay on task. Focus. Stop getting distracted. Things I tell my son every day after school when it comes to homework. What he doesn't know is that I'm just as guilty.

Writing is hard. Unless you find yourself on a complete role (happens on occasion) trying to pound out chapters of a story can be as motivating as teaching my dog to play checkers. It would make an awesome Youtube video but the chances of it actually happening feel like it's not worth trying.

And then there's the distractions! Facebook, email, Trivia Crack, the dishwasher is beeping, the dog needs a walk, oh look-a new recipe on Pinterest. That looks good. Maybe I should run to the grocery store. Look at the dustballs in the corners. I better vacuum. What was I doing again?

So I think to get this done I need to get out of my element. Be one of those coffee shop people on their laptops for a few hours whenever I can. Maybe make a deal with the waiter/waitress to nudge me if they notice my mind drifting or playing on my phone.

That's what I do with my son. I take his phone and often sit behind him while he works so he can't switch to a computer game. He needs someone to be accountable to in the moment.

That's often my job as a coach. As adults many things in our lives we simply have to get done for ourselves only. In our jobs we probably have a boss, a work ethic and hopefully a sense of accomplishment. But in our personal lives if we go for a run, order the salad over the triple cheeseburger, clean that drain that seems backed up or tackle that home repair that may take our entire weekend is our decision. And it's easy to put it off.

So I'm going to put some of my coaching practices into play for myself and see if I can stay focused. You may see me around Lancaster trying out different places to hide from, well, me.

Just please, I beg of you, DO NOT give me the WIFI password!

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
~Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Falling or Flying

"What if I fall?"
"Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?"
~Erin Hanson

One of my favorite quotes.

Because you have to fall. Everyone has to fall. I've fallen more often than I can count. Off of horses; thrown, fallen on, flipped over, etc. at least 35 times. I've also fallen over my own feet, or the proverbial fall when things just go horribly wrong in life for awhile.

I recently read a blog about kids today not knowing how to fall and get back up, no matter what the reason is. If they fall they give up because it's too hard, too embarrassing or simply not worth the effort.

That may be more true today but I think our parents said that about our generation, and their parents about them.

To me it's more about personality. I look at my three kids, all raised the same, and two are die hard who will "get back up no matter what" kind of people from early on in life. But one, from the time he was little, would quickly give up if the smallest thing didn't go his way. It's just his personality. It's not that he isn't brave, smart or often determined, he just needs more encouragement and prodding when things get tough.

It was recently the great George Morris's birthday (the patriarch of Hunter/Jumper riding) and one of his famous quotes is: "You either go to the hospital or you get back or on!"

My first time on a horse I was five. They put my tiny self up on that big saddle and my mom tried to sit behind me. The horse was not crazy about that and threw us both. I flew pretty far being a pipsqueak (so flying and falling) and, I'm told, maybe had a mild concussion. But a few years later all I would talk about was riding lessons.

And it is like flying, jumping around large obstacles on a 1000 pound animal with a mind of it's own. So falling on occasion is inevitable. You can be done after that first fall or you can dust yourself off and keep riding.

You can say the same after your first car accident, loss of a job, loss of a loved one or failed relationship. You can decide never to drive again, never love, find a job below your ability to be safe. Or you can take a deep breath, dust yourself off, and get back on the horse.

That is if you don't have to go to the hospital first.

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
~Nelson Mandela

Monday, March 2, 2015

Kids-What Are They Good For?

"Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories."
~John Wilmont

The constant guessing game of raising children. I would say there are no instruction books but that's not true. Just go to your local parenting section at Barnes & Nobles and you'll find a book on all of life's parenting questions. That would be great if all children were the same mold, all situations exact and all personalities fitting into a correct box.

As is the case in my life I tend to always have a child testing my parenting patience, pushing me to do the frustrated head bang against the wall in hopes that if nothing else a concussion will make me forget I'm a mom. And then there is wine.

My kids are great kids but there is always a challenge. Last year at this time it was my oldest and his lack of direction. Now he's thriving both in school and his job. So issues do pass. But during the troubles it feels like a hamster wheel of insanity.

Of course the frustration sometimes spills over to my ex-husband who can't parent unless the stars are in alignment and not one tiny thing is inconvenient. Those of you who parent in the real world understand how often he sees his kids then. Not that it's a problem, they choose to be with me anyway. But it can feel unfair during the stressful periods.

But despite it all there is always the love, laughter and rewards of their humor, kind hearts and ability to rebound. We make memories on travel adventures or finding crazy things to do on the home front. We laugh a lot (thanks a great deal to their amazing step-dad) and talk about everything. We share a lot of love.

So I take a deep breath and prepare for another week and the challenges to come. But as with my oldest who I rarely see due to his schedule I'll miss (some of) this someday.

Next up-teenage girl years. That reminds me, I'm out of wine.

"Having children is like living in a frat house - nobody sleeps, everything's broken, and their's a lot of throwing up."
~Ray Romano

"Parent's can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands."
~Anne Frank