Saturday, January 31, 2015

Just Listen

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."
~Ernest Hemingway

How often does someone listen to you? I mean REALLY listen. They aren't checking their phone, looking around or fidgeting. They are glued to everything you say.

It's hard to find in todays ADHD paced world. But that is exactly what a coach does-listen.

I often get asked what a coach is for and my short answer is to help you create whatever it is in your life you feel you are missing. It can be a new career, a healthier lifestyle, a new path after a large life change such as divorce, empty nest or a new family. I have helped with relationship coaching, addiction, parenting, business development and simply getting back to things in one's life they love. That's the great thing about Life Coaching-the directions are endless.

And let me be clear-I don't tell you how to do it. YOU tell you how to do it. Coaching is based on the belief that you have the answers to make your changes, get unstuck and move forward. My job is to help you sift through everything by carefully listening, asking the right questions and helping you organize a plan and stay motivated and connected to that plan. No one can decide what is better for you than you.

One of the best coaching quotes is by Confucius: "When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps."

Because that's what it's about; taking action, changing perspective, keeping motivation and holding onto a hope or dream.

"What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals."
~Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Justice for All

"A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each Should have it's own reward."
~George R.R. Martin A Clash of Kings

In our little town in Pennsylvania we've had a terrible tragedy, actually quite a few recently. Two of the larger stories: a young teacher tortured and murdered in her own home and a beloved downtown resident killed simply crossing the street.

And as with most small towns (even though it doesn't feel like such) many people I know are intimately connected with people in the stories. With that comes some passionate views and emotions that are absolutely normal.

But what always disturbs me, makes me sad, is the inability of people to let the families of those "responsible" mourn. Whether the child or young adult did a heinous crime or simply had very poor judgement there is a family connected to them that is suffering. They are mourning the loss of a life both in the victim and in their own home. If they show any sign of being sad for their own loss they get crucified as an accomplice.

Many blame the parents, or in the crazy case of the school teacher some have even blamed the school they attended. There is always plenty of blame to go around so here are a few questions I'd like to propose before anyone besides the suspects get condemned.

If you are a parent, have you ever said "my child will never (fill in the blank)" only to have them do it a year or two later. I was like that with my oldest. All of the preschoolers were hitting or biting but my angel would never do such a thing and it's probably because I'm such an awesome parent! Enter a little brother and, well, let's just say the gloves came off the little bugger.

Granted that's far from rape, murder, or vehicular manslaughter but your children are their own people who will make their own way, mistakes and all. Your job is to try to raise them correctly with morals and respect but who and what they become without you is up to them.

And in regards to the hit and run, have you ever made a mistake? Did you ever have a stupid accident as a teen or young adult that was your fault? Have you ever as an adult gotten behind the wheel knowing you maybe had one too many but were lucky enough to make it home? Have you ever had that moment where you know something could have ended tragically but amazingly didn't?

Yes, the young man was wrong on so many levels and a dear gentleman is gone because of it. That is something both families and especially the driver will live with forever.

The dead are dead and the living are left to suffer. Why add to the suffering? What purpose does it serve? Life is long and complicated. You never know what the future holds. You may someday be the one in need of a little kindness.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
~Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Thanks for Showing Up

"What winning is to me is not giving up, is no matter what is thrown at me, I can take it. And I can keep going."
~Patrick Swayze

Winning. So many definitions of this word. As an award or accomplishment, an attribute or a noun.

My daughter recently came home very excited because she won second place in a writing competition. Her words were: "I finally won something that wasn't just for showing up."

We see that in our kid's activities today right? They get awards for participation in soccer, gymnastics, or whatever they are into as younger kids. We don't let them ever think they are worse or better than another child if at all possible. We treat their egos like egg shells, afraid they may feel inadequate and crumble.

We celebrate when they "graduate" from preschool, kindergarten, elementary school and then middle school. What makes High School and College special?

I guess I wonder what kind of adults we're creating. When they don't get constant accolades for just showing up at their job will they lose motivation and get frustrated?

And what as adults do we feel is winning? Is it the big house, the "perfect" children/marriage, the dream job?

Or can winning be defined as making a difference in someone's life, showing kindness to a stranger, giving to those closest to us the time and attention they need, or simply ending every day knowing you participated, showed up, and went above and beyond what was expected of you for absolutely no other purpose but work ethic and a sense of accomplishment.

We all have our own version of winning (think Charlie Sheen). Some noble some not so much. What needs to happen in our lives to get us there is personal.

So what do you want to win?

How soon can you start trying?

"It always seems impossible until it's done."
~Nelson Mandela

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Skinny

"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."
~Kate Moss

Yes, the queen of skinny making people (and by that I mean mostly women) feel bad for putting anything into their mouths.

But how about this for a quote:

"One in seven eating disorder patients will die from it." HBO's Thin.

I know first hand about such things and I want to warn parents of what not to do to your daughters. Take it as not from a medical professional or really any authority on the subject except that I lived it.

NEVER criticize their weight or, God forbid, a specific body part. Never tell them it's in their genes to have large thighs or a belly. Never tell them they will always be fat. One day they may decide to prove you wrong and in doing so slide down a slippery slope. Instead always find ways to compliment every attribute you can possibly find. We can make or break our children.

NEVER discuss your own weight and insecurities. Show your daughter you are confident and beautiful in your own skin (obsess in private if you need to). By being a shining example of health and security her own self worth will be greatly improved.

NEVER diet in front of her. If your daughter has a weight problem that is a health issue by all means create a healthy environment but keep it realistic. By cutting out all fat, sugar or anything that, well, tastes good is so limiting they are set up to either become strict calorie counting anorexics or binging (because it's forbidden) bulimics. (There is a story of someone I know who restricted all "junk food" to the extreme for their children. As a teenager their daughter was caught taking half eaten Twinkies out of the school trash can. We always want what we can't have.)

If your daughter does not have a weight problem and neither do you let them see you EAT. Share a plate of fries on occasion or indulge with ice cream now and then. If all they see is you with a garden salad, discussing your next work out and complaining that you're turning into a cow then that is how they will see themselves.

And lastly, emphasize strength, creativity, inner beauty, academics and goodness over how they look in a swim suit, if their ears stick out or if they have developed the preteen belly. Show them why you love them, respect them and are proud of the people they are for just that-who they are. Raise good people who know what to look for in a friend. Raise girls who are compassionate to everyone, not judgmental, critical and cruel. Raise girls with the self esteem to love themselves and see the good in everyone around them for who they are, not what they wear, what size they are or who they hang out with. Raise beautiful girls on the inside and the dynamics of weight peer pressure could change.

I bring this subject up for two reasons.

First: My daughter has a weight obsessed step parent. One that weighs almost nothing, obsesses over running and constantly talks about how fat she is getting. I have tried to ask that this be kept out of conversation around her but I'm told it's not my business.

Second: I battled with anorexia for many years through high school and college. I was down to almost nothing and obsessed with calories and exercise. It's a dark pit that takes not only your strength but the strength of everyone who loves you to get you out. I don't know that any addiction such as that can be overcome from purely one's own desire to get better. Your mind may tell you food is needed and you must eat but every other part of your body will fight it, make it the enemy, tell you that one more bite will ruin you forever.

I've been to hell and back and I feel very confident in saying that. I've been a more than healthy eater starting in my early 20's so there are people who do not live with it forever. But it is hell to get to the other side and that is not something I ever want for my daughter or anyone's daughter to have to discover.

People can be mean, the media is distorted and children let alone adults don't always know how to navigate such confusion. I know you can't protect them from everything but by creating a safe environment at home is a good place to start.

"I'm an actress, I live in L.A., I work in Hollywood. But I've learned that if you're too skinny, they'll say something about it. If you're not skinny enough, they'll say something about it. I just try to feel good in my own skin as much as I can. "
~Jennifer Love Hewitt

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Next Chapter Please

"You don't just have a story, you're a story in the making, and you never know what the next chapter is going to be. That's what makes it exciting."
~Dan Millman

You can't get to where I am in age and not realize how many stories you've been a part of. I know personally I've had definite chapters of my life and even different characters. I am certainly not anything like the me at 15, 25 or even 35. Each one of those ages have shaped me and contributed to the me that is now but those ladies seem like entirely different characters in the book of my life.

So here begins yet another chapter with new goals and dreams. I'm devoting myself to a handful of projects that I hope by sharing make me somewhat accountable to you (whoever may read this) as sort of my reader/coach in the respect that I don't want to let myself or you down.

So here it is:

1) Get Sandpiper Life and Wellness up and running as a sustainable coaching business. I've always juggled my clients with other jobs and that has seemed unfair to them and me. So through advertising and word of mouth as well as finding possible speaking engagements I hope to consistently obtain new clients to make it a stand alone business I can devote my whole heart to.

2) Write. I have a book I've been working on for over a year, only doing it little by little. I've been taking one to four hours a day lately to just write/edit/write. Even if it never gets published I want to finish.

3) Be more accessible to my family. They need me in ways I was missing over the last year and it has come with a price. That has to change.

4) Do more of what I love. Who doesn't want that right?

So I'm starting the next chapter both figuratively and literally. I'm lucky to have an amazing husband to support my dream and encourage every idea, no matter how crazy.

And if you're reading this and it strikes a nerve, if you also have dreams or desires that aren't happening or you feel stuck in a place in life you can't quite find the escape hatch for, maybe you need a coach? I happen to know a little company....

"It's better to risk starving to death then surrender. If you give up on your dreams, what's left?"
~Jim Carrey

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Imperfect Yet Perfect

"I have a memory like an elephant. In fact, elephants often consult me."
~Noel Coward

Today is de-Christmas day. Time to take all of the various knick knacks you only see one month out of every year and put them back in their cubby space.

Un-decorating the tree is usually my job and I'm okay with that. I don't always see what my kids choose to put up until I reorganize their boxes and start bubble wrapping. Every year they pick different memories out of that box and leave others behind. Drew's past train obsession, Ethan's elephants, Lily's love of any animal ornament all made the cut. Many "babies first/second/third Christmas ornaments that their great grandmother used to get them left wrapped and untouched.

And new memories added to the tree; Disney cruise ship, a skunk, some special picture ornaments, a Christmas pickle, a piece of wood from Dan's childhood home.

The kids don't get that option any more with their dad and it makes them a bit sad. The tree there has to have designer balls that all match a color scheme. So their boxes of Christmas memories sit untouched.

I'd rather have a tree full of memories in all of it's random glory. Just like I like to have a life full of memories, of travel, adventure, activities and time spent with the people I love.

So I'm not begrudging you the perfect tree with the matching color scheme balls and lights. I like my life to be a bit more unorganized, messy and (like our tree this year) imperfect. That sounds fun, exciting and new every time you look at it. That kind of tree has you noticing something you missed in every section.

That kind of tree is full of memories.

"Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going."
~Tennessee Williams