The Experimental LIfe

According to Wikipedia “An experiment is an orderly procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, refuting, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Controlled experiments provide insight into cause-and-effect by demonstrating what outcome occurs when a particular factor is manipulated. Controlled experiments vary greatly in their goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results.”

Love this graphic from HD Wallpaper

As a species, us human beings have come quite far from the hunter-gatherer caveman.  Technology today makes it possible that a person could live out there entire lives without moving more than a few feet throughout the entire day.  You can work from home, over the phone or internet, you can call someone to deliver your food, you can pay with a credit card number instead of cash, entertain yourself through TV and the internet, date online, chat with friends, go to school, you can basically do everything.  Right now, the only thing I can think of that you would have to move for, is to use the bathroom.  And that’s only because robot-automatic-bed-toilets haven’t been made popular yet.

How did we get to such a point?  How have our inventions come so far?  In order to continue to advance our technology, we must begin with previous knowledge and inventions.  An app creator today doesn’t first have to invent a computer and the internet and he doesn’t have to be fluent in code.  That pool of knowledge already exists.  Someone else, with their hard work and toil has lay the groundwork for the next person to build upon.

This goes for any how-to these days.  We have to accept a certain amount of knowledge that we build on.  This is awesome in many cases.  Cell phones, facebook, medical technology- these wouldn’t exist unless we could build on something that was already there.

Up until a few years ago, I wouldn’t have said there was anything to worry about.  But then I started to realize that in some areas of my life I was trusting too much to the “experts” that had done the legwork for me in previous years.  As a child I was very trusting.  A rule was a rule.  If an adult said it out loud, then it had to be true.  What I didn’t realize as a child was that adults are just leaning on what they learned from the adults in their life and on and on and on.  The problem comes in when a generally accepted piece of information is actually not true.  When that groundwork is not stable, everything built on it can come crashing down.  And it was making me sick and fat.

For the longest time I relied on conventional wisdom to get me through.  It was after dieting for my wedding in 2007 that I started to realize that conventional wisdom might be wrong.  For a full year I had restricted calories and fat and exercised 6-7 days a week like the Heart Association recommended.  I ultimately lost the weight I wanted to- and I looked great in my dress.  But I didn’t feel healthy.  I should have been the healthiest I had ever been.  I should have been strong and have tons of energy and feel great.  But I didn’t.  I was exhausted.  The ADD I have struggled with all my life was full force.  My already thin hair was falling out.  I was unhappy at work and I had depression and anxiety constantly creeping in.  I had injuries that wouldn’t really go away.

I knew that this was not the way it was supposed to be, but I didn’t know what to do about it.  I was following the mainstream advice on how to be healthy.  It wasn’t until years later that I finally went to a therapist, and started to really do the mental work that I needed to.  At first, I just started to google my symptoms.  And more and more the answers that made the most sense were popping up in unconventional sites.  People like Mark Sisson and Dr. Mercola, which the mainstream would laugh at, were giving me answers that given a try would actually work.  Those sites started to really intrigue me.  They might not have been popular or followed in the circles that I was used to, but they were very popular according to the number of followers they had.

Take notes. Journal. You’ll be surprised.

Cautiously I allowed the thought that these oddballs might be on to something.  And I started to test things out on my own.  And I found that a lot of things I had been taught were just wrong.  Some were just a little off, like how much red meat you should include in your diet and some were just plain backwards, like how much fat and calories and grains you need to eat.  At the time I was focused mainly on nutrition/exercise information.  I had always thought that I was knowledgeable in this area and I was intrigued that maybe some of the adults in my life had been wrong.  I certainly took my time before I started living what I now call “an experimental life,” but finally, in January 2010 I started my first Paleo challenge.  Paleo really went against a lot of the conventional wisdom on diets.  There was NO SUGAR allowed.  It wasn’t about everything in moderation.  It was adding in fats.  Cutting out all grains, even the brown stuff.  No soy.  No corn.  Previous to this challenge I wouldn’t believe that this could be healthy for me.  But I was floored.  I lost weight fast.  And I was so energetic and strong.

Ever since I figured out that it was possible that the experts I had been listening to might be wrong, I started to research everything. I decided that I will no longer rely solely on someone else’s opinion for advice.  I will research multiple sources and then I will do an “n=1 experiment” (just means that I am the only research test subject).  I will no longer trust commercials or my local news to tell me how to be healthy.  Instead I will try things that I research and I will listen to my body.

Running, running, running!
Running, running, running!

Some recent examples in the physical health part of my life include eating way more fats.  I used to think this would kill me.  Turns out it does not make me fat and my arteries are doing well.  I don’t eat very much dairy at all.  Sometimes I have grassfed mozzarella cheese on my omelettes, because it’s something I love.  Do I get enough calcium?  Yes.  There is plenty of calcium and other wonderful minerals in green leafy vegetables it turns out.  My bones have yet to snap and crumble into dust.  I do not eat grains most of the time (for health reasons, man do I love bread, so I have it sometimes).  According the USDAs guidelines I should be quite undernourished since I never eat brown rice or pasta.  I don’t eat quinoa, I don’t eat crackers, I don’t even eat beans.  Removing grains and beans for me reduces the amount of bloat I carry around my belly line and the best part is how my mind- my actual clarity of thinking- has improved.  I also don’t try to work out for an hour every day.  I do crossfit 3 times a week and I walk my dogs.  My dogs don’t walk very far, so it’s mostly just crossfit.  It’s intense, but there’s very little cardio, except on random days when the WOD includes running.  Has my body become a puddle of fat?  Have my muscles withered away?  Or do I have massive man muscles from all of the lifting?  None of that.  If I do say so myself, I look pretty darn good.

In my career life, the experimental life has also helped me immensely.  For many years I spent a lot of time thinking that if I did certain things, then surely I would be immediately tarred and feathered and then promptly terminated.  The past couple of years I tested out the theory that if I did my job really well, and then blurred the other lines a bit, maybe no one would care.  The truth is, they don’t.  I made sure I showed up for the important stuff.  I did therapy, made sure the important paperwork was done well.  I helped kids get better and I helped families feel better and healthier.  And I often went in late and left early.  Unless there was an early meeting or a late one.  I would be on point and on time for those.  I didn’t want to be lazy, I just didn’t want to waste my time or anyone else’s by sitting around in the office when there was nothing to do.  So I tested it out.  Not one complaint.  Ever.  If there had been a complaint, if it had been rubbing somebody the wrong way or something wasn’t getting done because of my behavior, I would have changed back to being promptly on time immediately.  But it turns out, people like it when you do your job well and are super happy.

And there’s so many more examples in my life, where being brave enough to test out “common knowledge” in my own life has freed me from unnecessary guilt, and work, and pain.

Tell me, are you willing to experiment in your own life?  If you discovered you didn’t have to do it, what is one thing that you would stop doing today?  Comment below!  I would love to hear it!

How to Get Over Your Fears and Breathe Underwater

About 5 years ago, my husband and I decided to get certified to Scuba Dive.  Hell, we live in Hawaii.  How could we leave here without giving it a try?  I had been snorkeling many times before and I never had any problems breathing through a snorkel, so I did not foresee how terrified I would be.  Before you ever take your course, you have to read through the book they give you.  You learn all about the dangers, including how deep you can safely go, what happens to the air inside of your body as you go deeper, why you need to clear your ears, why you need to ascend so slowly, why you need to wait a certain amount of time in between dives and how long and how deep you can safely dive if you go twice.  You learn about how long you have to wait before you fly in an airplane after you dive, not to hold your breath, to empty all of the air out of your BCD before you start to ascend.  This is, obviously, all very important.

I was very excited about learning to dive until we practiced for the first time.  Your first practice is in shallow water.  You learn how to put all the gear together, you practice putting your mask on and off under water, you practice safety breathing, you practice all of the emergency prep stuff that you might need when you go deep.  You also practice swimming around under water.

This cat breathes underwater better than I do.

In Hawaii we are lucky.  We don’t have to practice this stuff in a pool, we can just go to a shallow, calm section of the ocean, put on the gear on shore and wade right in.  And it was then that I realized how heavy the gear is.  The weight of the air tank did something to me mentally.  And when I waded into the water and put my head in, I panicked.  Something in my head was saying, “you are going to put your head under water and try to breathe and that is seriously stupid.”  I am not one to quit, so I basically forced myself to go through the motions.  I had my husband there and our instructor, so I was able to pack down the terror by basically telling myself that they know I’m new at this, they will watch me closely and they won’t let me drown.

Then, as part of your class, you do a deep dive and a shallow dive.  I didn’t fully admit to myself how terrified I was, I think I told myself it was just because I was a beginner.  But the fear got in my way so much that it was hard to concentrate on what everything did.  I had a really hard time remembering the name of the gear, how much weight I put in my BCD, how to connect the regulator, and kind of let the instructor set everything up for me.  I got through those dives again, by thinking that the instructor was going to keep an eye on me and not let me drown.  Awesome.  

After the class was over it was another year before we dove again.  We went with a dive group and I felt okay knowing that we would have a dive leader who would remind us of what to do and stick around us just in case something went wrong.  My husband and I were buddies, and I knew he would keep an eye on me.  Well, I jumped off the boat for the dive, got to the rope and couldn’t force myself to go down.  I panicked.  I put my head under, started to sink and then started flailing like I was drowning.  The dive leader came back up and told me to breathe out, I did, calmed down enough and went down the rope.  I had an okay time, but I struggled with how much air to keep in my BCD and kept thinking about my breath.  We saw fun stuff, but I spent most of the dive thinking about my breathing.

The second dive was similar, minus the panicking at the top of the rope.  I kind of floated around with the group thinking of all the things that could go wrong, and trying not to move too much.  Then, on the way up, my husband went just a little too fast.  He was having a hard time keeping himself on the rope.  The dive leader grabbed him and pulled him down, but it was a struggle to go slow enough.  When we got to the surface he had a small bloody nose, but everything else seemed to be okay.  The dive leader, who I will not name, did not check on him.  He did not explain to him why he might have been going to fast, or even talk to him at all about it.  We got back to shore and later than night he had pains in his chest.  Yes, we probably should have gone to the doctor and we are idiots that we didn’t immediately head off to the emergency room.  He was okay in the morning, so we just went on about our lives.

So, when we go the opportunity to go scuba diving on Christmas Day this year I had mixed feelings.  I was excited and I was terrified.  I remembered how the last trip went.  I checked the weather and surf- there was supposed to be big waves and very little visibility.  Things weren’t looking great.  But I decided that since the only thing I could control out of the whole situation was myself, that I would do so.

Christmas Eve, before I fell asleep, I did a visualization of myself, with the gear on, breathing fantastically.  I recalled the way it felt breathing out of an air tank, and I reminded myself that it would feel different, but it was safe.  I thought of all of the things I could do to make this trip go better.  And I took charge.

That morning two of the five that were supposed to go diving didn’t go.  So I told my husband and our friend, Brian, that I reserved the right to go on the boat and decide not to go in the water.  Of course, they agreed.  Just that one thing made me feel better already.  They were okay if I decided it was unsafe.  When we got to the group, and the leader asked us if we were comfortable divers, I flat out told him, no, I was kind of terrified and I hadn’t been diving in years.  The truth felt good.  We got on the boat and we started to put our gear together.  I told Brian that I had some dumb questions, including “What the hell do I do now?” and “How do you scuba dive?” and similar questions.  He is experienced, so I let him walk my husband and I through how to put the gear together.  And this time, knowing that I was more in control, I really watched.  I asked questions about how much weight I should wear and how when I should fill my vest and really listened to the answers.  I told the dive leader that I might go really slow, I might decide to turn back.  I also made sure he knew that my husband has tubes in his ears, so there was a possibility that he wouldn’t be able to clear his ears, and in that case, we would both be going back to the surface.  Again, the truth felt really good.  And this time, when I jumped in the water, I felt much better.  I remembered to breathe out, take my time, do a really quick meditation and when I got to the rope, I let all the air out to descend.  I wasn’t heavy enough and couldn’t get under water.  But the leader came over and made sure all the air was out of my vest and helped me go under.  I reminded myself that I was in control.  I knew what my gear was for.  I took my time and went slow.  I made sure to concentrate on all of the cool stuff happening around me, like the bubbles coming from the divers below me.  I made sure to clear my ears and looked at the rope in my hands.  As long as I was concentrating on the good stuff, the fears about my breathing went away.  I made sure, the entire dive, that when I started to feel the panic about my breathing, to breathe out, and to look at my surroundings and pick something to concentrate on.  The only time I allowed myself to think about my breathing was to check my air level periodically and to make sure I wasn’t holding my breath.  As long as I was enjoying the moment, the experience, the fish, the bubbles, the wreck, and the Eagle Rays that we saw, I was totally fine.  We went very slow on the way up, and I appreciated that.  Nathan started to float a bit again, and go fast, but he held on, the leader made sure he didn’t go too fast.


The next thing that happened was the most important for me, and why I was able to do the second dive in utter bliss, and am excited to go diving again someday.  When we got back on the boat and took our gear off our leader came over to check up on us.  He explained why I didn’t get all of the air out of my vest and couldn’t go under at first.  He explained what to do next time.  He explained to my husband why he was going up so fast last time, and what to do next time.  We talked about the dive, the cool stuff we saw and problem solved a few things so that the next one would be even better.

I set up my own gear for the second dive, and when I descended the rope, it was such a joy.  We went very, very slowly, because my husband was having difficulty clearing his ears.  At one point I thought we might have to go back up, but it would have been okay.  It was that feeling of accomplishment, that I had overcome complete panic and terror to be able to breathe underwater with such ease.  And that dive was amazing.  I was able to swim a tiny bit farther away and look at things on my own.  The dive went great and we went slowly to the top.

Taking the time to overcome of of my fears was one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received.  Is there anything that you were able to overcome in 2013?  Celebrate it with us below in the comments!


Sometimes I Meditate In My Underwear

I’ve come to realize that one of my passions in life is to get everyone to realize that meditation and some kind of spirituality, any kind of spirituality is of value in our lives.  I want to start to dispel some common myths that get in the way of starting off on a spiritual journey.  Today’s myth that I’d like to dispel is how you look when you meditate.  Now, I know that might sound absolutely stupid.  It shouldn’t matter how you look when you meditate.  But, darn it, in the beginning I was very concerned.  Every article or book I ever read on the subject had some kind of image like this:

Gautama Buddha

Or this:

The ethereal nature meditation

Or this:



Look how flexible and Zen-like she is!

And I am guilty of supplying you, the reader with similar images.  It gives the false notion that when you sit down for meditation you must straighten your spine broomstick straight, fold one of your feet into your crotch (how do they do that?) and immediately drop into a state of bliss.  The truth of the matter is, meditation is often not as pretty as this.  And I will tell you the truth.

Sometimes I meditate in my underwear.

Most often, when I am motivated to meditate, I will get out of bed, and go to our extra bedroom which is mostly jam packed full of stuff that we don’t want other people to see.  It’s like a huge storage closet.  I have all of my craft stuff, most of my clothes, a couple of bookshelves and dressers and all of the other junk I’ve collected over the last 12 years.  On the floor I keep the meditation pillow that I made out of military fatigue material that has been collapsed by the weight of my butt over time.  It is pretty flat. So, I’ll get out of bed, grab my phone with timer, and sit on the pillow.  Sometimes I’m smart and remember a blanket, which is awesome, but I’m not much of a thinker at 6am.  I put the pillow in front of my dresser, and get comfortable.  Sometimes I start with my legs crossed, but in a million years I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to assume the foot-in-crotch standard meditation position.  Sometimes I just sit with my legs bent.  I could sit in a chair, but I like the novelty of sitting pretty much on the floor.  I do my best with my slouchy spine and prop it up on the dresser so that I don’t think about how slouchy I am at minute 8 of a 10 minute meditation.  I set my timer to whatever I feel like, 5, 10, sometimes 20 minutes.  And there I sit.  I can usually sit still for about 4 minutes.  Then my foot will start to tingle or fall asleep, so I shift to the legs bent position.  I will shift my body so my spine is a little straighter again.  I stretch my back a little.  Sometimes I peak at my timer.  Sometimes my little dog joins me and sits by my feet or on my lap and I scratch him, because meditation is great, but I can’t resist being distracted by my doggies.

So there it is.  This is the glorious, magical image of how I meditate.  It is not pretty.  But it is functional.  And I decided a long time ago that if I was going to get spiritual, I was going to have to do it on my terms.  And fancy that!  I meditate a lot now!  I actually enjoy it.  Some days it’s hard for me to get my Zen on, but there are mornings where it makes it so worth it and I go on a mini spiritual retreat in the comfort of my own over-size storage closet on my flattened meditation pillow.  In my underwear.

Living a Happy Life- It’s not about luck.

As we come upon the end of the year and look forward to the next, the posts about how to improve your life are taking over social media.  And in response I’ve seen many posts about how annoying it is to have those posts pop up all over the place.  I enjoy reading both sides, the ones outlining activities and practices that lead to more positivity and those convinced that those people should just shut up.  What really entertains me is the comments at the end.  I am floored by the numbers of people who take the time to comment.  And it saddens me to see how many people are convinced that happiness and joy are out of reach.  I understand that these articles often come off with a Pollyanna vibe, like it’s supposed to be easy.  “10 Easy Steps to Joy!”  And if you are currently in a depressive state, reading the easy fixes like, “Smile more!” might make you want to punch someone.    The truth of the matter is that Joy and Happiness are not easy to come by. Not at first.  Especially when you’re out of practice.  The people writing these articles have usually taken years of practice to come by their current state of calm, peace or joy.  They didn’t just “smile more” for a day and then BAM, HAPPINESS!  It is not easy, and it doesn’t happen quickly.  But it CAN happen.  One of the first steps is to figure out if you even believe it’s possible, despite your present circumstances in life.  You can be in exactly the same circumstances that you are in now and have a more peaceful, calm, even joyful state of mind.  Another thing to realize, is that being happy or joyful despite your circumstances does not mean that now you become a passive floater in life.  The people writing these articles are not simply running down the shore of the beach in the sun all day.  That might be a part of their day and all the power to them!  They take the time to have fun.  But they are also feeding their families, paying their bills, writing blog posts, putting their effort into the projects that they care about.  They work hard.  They do not simply lie on the bed all day with a big grin on their faces.
I know, because I’m one of those people who tend to write and share those positive posts.  I love to talk to people about how to live a more joyful life.  But the truth is, I didn’t use to be this happy.  I used to be pretty miserable.  I went to my boring, stressful job, came home to my husband and dogs who I love very much, and made dinner and either worked out or worked on the computer and went to bed.  It wasn’t a bad life.  If you had asked me then, I probably would have said I was pretty happy.  I enjoyed a lot of the things I was doing.  I was being paid well enough to continue to live in Hawaii, which is a beautiful place to be.  My husband took wonderful care of me and dogs give unconditional love, the best kind.  And yet, looking back, knowing how happy I am now, I see that I was “pretty happy” but also “pretty miserable” in probably equal amounts.  Good memories and moments of sadness, boredom, discontent.  And that feeling that I couldn’t change it.
So I know.  I know what it’s like to think to yourself that you should be happy because you have a great husband, family, dogs and for $#@$ sake you live in Hawaii.  I know what it’s like to look at people with those beaming smiles and think they’re faking it.  Believing that that level of happiness doesn’t actually exist.  Believing that those people were trying to sell me something, their product, their website, something, and that when they were done convincing me how awesome it was, they were going to go home and collapse into an exhausted heap of human, spent after spending the day trying to keep up that level of deception.  I believed that it wasn’t possible.
Seeing a therapist in 2010 was a big change for me.  I stopped trying to do things by myself.  And in that small act of asking for help from someone else, I became a little braver.  I decided that I didn’t have much to lose by trying.  I decided to live an experimental life.  I decided to give it a shot and see if it was actually possible to enjoy the little things in life.  To see if, in fact, meditation works.  To test out whether or not those joy gurus were right.  I started to listen to “self-help” books and to experiment with prayer, yoga, meditation and mindfulness activities.  Even if I thought it was stupid at first.  In fact, when I started meditating, it was painful.  My mind raced, thinking of all of the more important activities I could be accomplishing, my legs hurt because I’m so inflexible, my back hurt because I don’t like to sit up straight and they tell you you should.  Sometimes I would fall asleep, other times I would peek open my eyes to see how much time left I had on the clock.  But I gave it a shot.  I made a commitment to a week of meditation in the morning.  And slowly, in little tiny moments, I began to feel that inner peace.  Those moments of just being and nothing else.  Where all the pain in my body and all the painful thoughts were briefly not important.  In the beginning it was so short, but once you’ve felt that, you become a bit of an addict.  You want more.  And then I finally believed that those joy gurus could be right.  That feeling does exist.
At the same time I was exploring books on the subject.  If a book didn’t interest me in the beginning, I stopped reading it.  I wasn’t there to waste my time.  Over time I found a few people whose words touched me and hit a nerve.  Not everything they said was like that, but every once in a while there would be a statement that just zinged me from my head to my toes and landed in my heart.  And I knew, just knew it to be truth.  I felt it.  It was not logic, it was knowing.  It was similar to that feeling of just “being” during meditation.

Because I took the time to experiment, I allowed myself to be open to the possibility.  And I discovered it could be true.  And it took a long time.  A 10 minute meditation in the morning is long for me.  I still peek at the clock sometimes.  But there are times when I start to meditate and I drop into this wonderful state of calm and peace.  And I’ve come to a point where I can find that state during times of stress and frustration.  In traffic, in long lines at the supermarket, while one of the toddlers I work with is purposefully taking as long as physically possible to put his dish into the dish tray after lunch.  In these moments I can drop down into that feeling of relaxation.  And here’s where I think we have led people astray.  Once I’ve reached that state, I don’t just smile and say, “Oh, it’s okay, do what you want” and pretend to smile blissfully.  I don’t let people walk over me just because I’m able to stay calm.  Being peaceful and calm is not the same as being a push-over.  In those moments, though, I can clear my mind and think of something to keep me busy.  Instead of fuming about how slow the lady in front of me is, while she counts out 85 dollars worth of pennies and drops a handful on the floor, I can take a second to drop in the calm.  Then I can look around and see if there is a different line, I can see if the person behind me is friendly and wants to share a smile about the situation, or look at the cover of the Enquirer which is always entertaining.  And instead of being furious about the pennies on the floor, I can smile at the woman with arthritis, assist her in picking up pennies, and wish her happiness in her life.  The truth is, either way, the woman is going to pay her money for her groceries.  I can fume, I can help her, I can find another line.  When you are paying your mortgage bill, you can do it with a smile or a grimace, both cost the same.  When the child takes forever, you can make a calm decision about how to react.  Do I shout at him to hurry up?  Do I take the plate from him and do it myself?  Do I let him continue on so that a more important lesson of self-sufficiency is learned?  Can I use a gentle, but firm tone to remind him that we have something to do so going fast is important? mIs it more important to be fast or for him to do it himself?  I can decide in a calm state of mind instead of reacting in anger.
So ask yourself a few questions.  Do you believe that happiness is possible?  Do you believe that being calm and peaceful would change you into a push over?  Do you think that once you accepted reality,  you would have no power to change it?  Leave your answers in the comments!
“Happiness is not circumstance.” Marianne Williamson says this on an episode of SuperSoul Sunday.  And I truly believe this to be true.

A Year of Speaking Dangerously

I am watching Marie TV and she is interviewing Susan Cain, the author of “Quiet.” She mentioned that she used to be terrified of speaking publicly, but she knew that in order to get her message out, she would need to get over her fear. So for a year she embarked on what she called her “Year of Speaking Dangerously,” and it is amazing to me how just the right article/video/advice will come to you when you are looking for it. I just yesterday mentioned to a few of my girlfriends that one of my goals for 2014 was to talk to more people. I just started my busines, Oasis For Change, this year (I offer Life Coaching and Individual, Family, Child and Group Counseling services) and I now am at a point where I have to spread the message that my services are available. For an introvert, this can be frightening. When I think about networking the gremlins in my head start the negative talk. “They’ll laugh at you,” “They will think you are dumb,” “They will not understand what you are saying,” “They will think your business is stupid and that you don’t have anything to offer them.” The voices can be pretty brutal. I am lucky that I don’t have a fear of public speaking. I don’t mind getting up in front of a crowd anymore, which is a huge blessing. I worked through that in college with a public speaking class. I do, however, have a fear of small talk, both with people in person and on the phone. And this is not helpful when it comes to making connections for your business.
Susan Cain talks to Marie about how she trained herself over the course of a year to speak in front of others. She started small, talking in front of small, familiar groups and working her way to larger groups. I am dedicating myself in 2014 to something similar, but instead of speaking publicly, although I will continue to practice this, I will begin to talk to everyone. People at the library, at the grocery store, at the gym, I will make small talk with the grocery store clerks.

Cute Website Article

Cute Website Article

How about you? Do you struggle with small talk? Do you need to work on connections this year? Let me know below if you will be joining me this year for a Year of Speaking Dangerously!!

Preparing for New Year’s Goals

December is my second favorite month of the year.  July wins out because that is my birthday month, so it is full of celebration.  But December is close on its heels.  I love December for many reasons: there’s the holiday celebrations, the holiday food, the holiday music, and the gracious attitude that people seem to adopt as they count the days to Christmas.  But my favorite part of the month is its representation of the end of the year.  Over the last few years it has become a time for me to reflect on the past year and think about the next.  It gives me a chance to look at all of the challenges that I went through and to congratulate myself for the successes.  And it is a time for me to prepare for my New Year’s Goals.

How many New Year’s Goals have you successfully made and kept throughout the year?  For the majority of the population most goals are dropped by February and completely forgotten about by March.  Health clubs go through a ginormous spike in memberships during December and January.  And more than half of those people stop showing up a few months later.  Why is this?  People are usually VERY motivated at first.  They get the membership.  They buy the outfits.  They research the diets.  They get the nicotine patch.  They bite the bullet and look at their finances.  They stop buying things they don’t need.  They buy the Spanish Rosetta Stone.  They spend more time with family and friends.  But soon enough the motivation goes out the door.

I believe that we do not spend the time we should on figuring out WHY we want to reach the goals we choose.  We pick lofty goals that sound great, but when our desired outcome is superficial, or we’re trying to please someone else, we tend to lose motivation.  Want to lose weight?  Why?  Want to get out of debt? Why?  Want to stop smoking? Why?


If you can’t answer the question, you are likely to be one of the millions of people who drop their New Year’s Goals.  And if you answered that you just want to stop smoking because other people tell you it’s a good idea, your chances of following through are pretty slim.  But if you desire to stop smoking because you have a new baby in the house and you want to feel energetic enough to play with her, or you want to protect him by keeping second hand smoke away, now those are more likely to push you through the year.

So what if you can’t answer the why or you’ve just figured out you have no motivation past pleasing your spouse?  Journaling is my first recommendation for most problems.  The process of writing helps you get clear on what you perceive the problem to be, and helps slow down your thinking when it comes to solutions.  You can also go back and look at your writing if you lose motivation or need to remember something you’ve forgotten.  For those who don’t like writing, drawing a picture, cutting out pictures, or recording voice memos can be helpful as well.  Here’s some journal exercises that I have done over the years to get really focused on my goals and helped me follow through.

  •  Write down what you think your goals should be.  Then ask yourself the question, “Why?”  and write the answer.  Continue to ask yourself a few times until you feel like you’ve really gotten to the answer.  An example-  “I want to stop drinking.”  Why?  “Because I have gained weight and been less motivated to do work.”  Why? “Because I feel unhealthy.”  Why? “My wife is unhappy with me.” Why? “Because I feel unhealthy and I’m not taking care of myself.” Why?  “I want to feel healthy and take care of myself.”  Why? “Because I want to be healthy enough to take care of myself and take care of my wife.”-  Now there’s motivation to stop drinking.
  • Write down previous goals that you have made in the past.  Free write about any challenges or successes you had while meeting those goals.
  • Write out your fantasy life.  Write how everything would be different if you met your goal. All of the things you would be able to do, places you’d be able to go, or things you’d be able to have.  Get precise and specific.

Now that you’ve gone a little deeper with your goals, it’s time to evaluate if they need to be rewritten.  Continuing with the example above, wanting to stop smoking because of the new baby in the house, maybe you realize that it’s not just about cigarettes.  You want to feel energetic enough to play with your baby and keep both of you healthy.  Quitting smoking might only be a part of this goal.  Writing your goal in a more positive frame will help keep you on the right track, even when things get hard.  Your new goal might be “By February I will be able to have the energy to spend at least 8 hours with the baby.”  Framing your goal in this way might help you make decisions not just about smoking, but about exercise and healthy eating as well.  And if you give in and have a cigarette, you have not “failed your goal.”  You don’t have to give up.  You have the motivation of spending time with your baby to keep trying.

What goals do you have for the New Year?  What is the motivation behind it?  How will you keep the motivation to make it all the way through to December 2014?  Comment below!

Life Coach Client Goals

Wondering what a life coach can do for you?  Here are just a few examples of what you can achieve working with the right person.

Life Coach Client Goals

  • Be able to listen to your intuition
  • Be able to value your time
  • Be able to list your strengths, talents, and achievements
  • Be able to accept money without guilt
  • Change your attitude from that will never happen to how can I make it happen
  • Be able to question your thoughts
  • Have a clear vision of your desired future
  • Be able to list your Core Desired Feelings- Danielle Laporte
  • Be able to tell people what you do, not what you do for employment
  • Be able to see your 9-5 as your side job, your investor, your bridge job (unless you love it)
  • Be able to give without looking for anything in return
  • Be able to love yourself and all of your quirks
  • Be able to show up as your complete authentic self with others
  • Be able to physically touch others with love and caring
  • Be able to create and give away value knowing that you will get more back in return
  • To never use money as an excuse
  • Be able to look at money as an energy and commodity, a tool for your use, not an end goal
  • Be your own best friend
  • Be able to love your body fully in any shape or form it’s in
  • Be able to look yourself in the mirror and feel love and pride
  • Be able to create
  • Be able to have a healthy relationship with food
  • Be able to have a healthy relationship with exercise
  • Be able to have a healthy relationship with drugs and alcohol
  • Be able to identify your fears and challenges
  • Be able to act with courage when afraid
  • Be able to find tools to help you stay organized
  • Be able to forgive yourself for being too (insert put down of choice)
  • Be able to love yourself for being too (insert put down of choice)
  • Be able to list at least 5 people who are true supporters in your life
  • Be able to set boundaries with people in your life that drain your energy in some way

Are you working on any of these goals?  What resources do you use?  Share with us in the comments section, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

My Current Home

What I want my loved ones to know.

Life is precious.

Appreciate every single moment.

Live in the present.

Question your thoughts, they are not always true.

Don’t waste your life on anything that doesn’t fill you up in some way.

Life is too short to waste on any activity that angers you, bores you, doesn’t fulfill you, unless it is a step in the process of getting to something you love. 

Life is too short to not do something because of money.  Find a way.

Spend time looking into your loved ones’ eyes.  Spend time listening to the words they say.  Hold their hand, savor the moment.  Really hear them, see them, and love them for who they are.

Love yourself in the same way.  Stop to look and listen to yourself.  Treat yourself with as much kindness as you would a child.

Don’t get in the way of joy.  If someone you know is in the middle of a truly joyful moment, don’t let thoughts of time, responsibility or money get in the way.  Let them experience the fullness of it.  In fact, join them.

An exercise in gratitude for the Thanksgiving season to use when you feel like your life sucks.

I am a big fan of gratitude.  Although sometimes it may appear to be a catchy, new-agey theory that having gratitude is good for you, the truth is that when practiced regularly finding the time to be thankful for the little things in life can be life changing.  When you get into the habit of focusing on the positive, more positive seems to show up.  The explanations for this vary, they go from  magic, or a miracle, to the Law of Attraction where you literally manifest what you want in life.  I’m more of a sciency, objective type of person.  For me it simply makes sense that if we are looking for things to be grateful for, we are more likely to see them and be ready to appreciate them when they come our way.  Let’s take this scenario taken from my very real life.

Situation 1- I have not been practicing gratitude, in fact it’s been a long, exhausting, negative day and I am having negative thoughts about everything.  I arrive home from work and my husband is at the sink washing the dishes and the negative thoughts just continue on, merrily.  “Oh, NOW he wants to wash the dishes.  He lets them sit around for weeks, waiting for me to wash them or until they magically wash themselves.”  And I probably say thank you in a sarcastic, passive-aggressive, snarky tone and head to the couch to sulk and think about how crappy his dish-washing timing is.  This is, by the way, a serious example in my life.

Situation 2- I have been practicing gratitude, I have had a trying day, but have been looking for the positive.  I come home and my husband is at the sink washing dishes.  On this occasion, I can walk in the door, thank him for washing the dishes and go relax on the couch for a few minutes knowing that the dishes are being washed.  The only difference in the two days is my attitude when I walked in the door.

So- now we know, gratitude is awesome and worthwhile!  And just as we bring in the New Year with our fitness, health, career and life goals, we bring in the Thanksgiving season with reminders of gratitude.  “What are you thankful for?” is the catchy phrase that’s being thrown around recently.  The newest status trend on Facebook is to list all of the things you are grateful for that start with the corresponding letter of the day (1=A, 2=B, etc).  Although the gratitude trend may not last beyond the holiday, I do think 30 days a year of gratitude is better than zero and it’s a great start to what could become a habitual practice.

Some days it’s easier said than done.  Have you been there?  There you are, having a shitty day- your child barfed on you in the morning so you changed your pants, then you accidentally spilled coffee into your lap in the car, didn’t notice until you got to work that you forgot to brush your teeth, had a long passive aggressive conversation with a co-worker that took up all of your free time including any time you had to run out and grab lunch, then you got stuck in ungodly traffic on the way home.  You know, those kind of days.  Then you get home and call a friend because you just need to vent to someone and they say something along the lines of, “Just be thankful for what you have.”  Well, THANK YOU, very much, you (insert expletive of choice here).

On this kind of day I have a quick exercise that works well to adjust your thinking back to what you have in life, even if you don’t particularly feel like it.

1. Find somewhere to be alone, not in front of the tv, phone, or computer.  These are all distracting and are guaranteed to remind you of some more things that you could possibly be angry about.

2. Sit still for a few moments.  If you are a practiced meditator, now is a really good time.  If you are like me, and have difficulty shutting your brain off (the yoga peeps call this monkey mind), don’t fight it.  Just sit still for a few moments.  Take a few deep breaths.

3. State your intention (ideally out loud, yes, speak to yourself) to find three things you can be grateful for.

4. Start thinking.  If your meditation and deep breaths helped you calm down, you should be able to come up with a few good ones on your own here.  However, sometimes we’re really stuck.  If that’s the case, look around you.  The stories in our heads can keep us from finding the good in our lives, but often physical items around us can trigger a memory.

5.  If you’re really stuck here, and you are stewing in negativity, then this exercise is really important for you.  You need to get unstuck or go take a nap, because if you’re at this place, you might not want to be around people.  Force yourself to focus on an item that you see in your physical space.  A tree, a piece of paper, a sock on the floor, a piece of lint on your pants, a dresser in your room, a chair.  Anything.  And find 3 things about that object to be thankful for.  For example- the chair under my bottom at this very moment.  This chair is ripped, but it has lasted me for almost 9 years.  I am thankful that I have it to sit on.  Sometimes I will think of something I need to write at the computer, but my husband has wheeled it away from the desk for some reason and I’ll kneel in front of the computer on the floor and that, my friends, is painful.  I am grateful for its ability to hold me up to the desk and keep the pressure off of my knees.  It has a lever on the side that I can push on and it allows me to adjust the height.  It is tall enough in the back that I can lead my head back against it when I have writer’s block.  It is made of a feaux leather material that is cooling, and doesn’t get your bottom all sweaty when it’s hot and humid here.  It has armrests.  What more could you want in a 9 year old desk chair?

This exercise can be done at any time during the day.  Look around for an object and think of all the redeeming qualities it possesses.  Feel free to stretch a bit, sometimes the fun of it will knock you out of your bitter mood.  Maybe that lint is a lovely shade of yellow.  Perhaps it is making a smiley-face or appears in the shape of a unicorn.  Maybe the lint reminds you of something.  Get creative.

If that doesn’t work, look at this picture of this dog chewing on a kitten’s face:

Puppy Chewing on Kitten
Puppy Chewing on Kitten

I hope you enjoy this exercise.  What other methods do you use to stay thankful over the holiday season?

You can feel however you want, whenever you want. Nothing is holding you back.

Be your own dictionary of fulfillment. One feeling. Your world. Go.” – Danielle LaPorte

When setting my intentions and meditation for the day, I now include choosing my Core Desired Feelings. Danielle LaPorte has changed how I view about goal setting and really, life in general. It is worth your while to read her books The Firestarter Sessions and The Desire Map. She also has tons of worksheets on refining your Core Desired Feelings, free on her website, such as this one. I will give you a brief description on what it is and how to begin using them in your daily journal.


Basically, you are choosing how you want to feel during the day. This sounds deceptively simple, but will really change the way you view the goals you have chosen for your life. Let’s do a little exercise. Think of one of those goals you have been working on for a while. Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds or you want to exercise more or eat healthier. These are great! You may even have them written down somewhere as SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). So why haven’t you met this goal yet? Often we forget the most important part of the goal, which is the why. Why do you want to lose 10 pounds? Why do you want to exercise more or eat healthier? We miss a very important step. We want to attain these goals because ultimately we are hoping we will feel a certain way. This is the truth for every single goal.
So take that goal you thought of before and think about how meeting that goal will make you feel. Let’s take the example of losing 10 pounds. Why do you want to lose 10 pounds? Because I will look better in my clothes. Why do you want to look better in your clothes? So that I look good. Why do you want to look good? So I can feel beautiful. Boom. You want to feel beautiful. This helps you for two reasons. The first is that when you are looking at a piece of cake you can think to yourself, will this make me lose those ten pounds so I can feel beautiful? It will help you decide if you want the piece of cake or not. The other reason it is great, is because you don’t have to wait to lose 10 pounds to feel beautiful. You can do something this very minute to feel beautiful. You can put a clip in your hair, put on some lipstick, sit up straighter in your chair. My friend Kitty Cavalier has tons of tips in her blog that will make you feel beautiful just reading them.
I have added the Core Desired Feelings to my daily journal because I want to intentionally set how I want to feel during the day. Over time mine have morphed into these six recurring: Joyful, Free, Clear, Connected, Supported and Energized. Just reading those words put me in a better mood. No matter what happens in my day, whatever what comes my way, I can change my circumstances to feel my Core Desired Feelings. I want you to get to a place where you can, too.
Check out this journal workbook I have put together for you.

Spirituality for the Easily Distracted Fillable Form

Tell me in the comments section, how do you want to feel?