Archive for the ‘Personal Coaching’ Category

My horrific fabulous vacation

October 20, 2008

It all started with the booking of our Canadian hotel, and the realization that my passport had expired, plus I had a name change during that time and could not find our marriage certificate. I ran around to every government office in a 2 county area, and then was finally told how to get around that. Whew.

We packed 2 days early (I discovered a FABULOUS new way to pack for the girls! I’ll post that later). We thought we were ready, but of course, were still running around packing last minute stuff 5 minutes after we were supposed to have left to catch the ferry to Sydney. Pitch black at 5am, the girls were still dead asleep. The plan? At the very last minute, scoop them out of bed, go potty, wrap them in blankets and throw them in the van hoping they’d fall back to sleep or stay sleeping.

No such luck.

At the last minute, I scooped up Kathryn, went potty, and she was still sleeping. So far so good. I ran out the door with her wrapped in her fuzzy blue blanket, and was smiling to myself that this actually might work. Then, not sure what happened, but my foot caught the front step funny, my foot went one way and my body went the other. I remember thinking on the way down that I wouldn’t be able to totally protect Kathryn, and sure enough, I somehow flipped so she landed mostly on top of me, but not quite enough. Her head hit the concrete and the pain receptors hit my brain simultaneously. We laid there on the walkway crying for a minute before Gerry heard us and came out to help us up. I was mostly crying because I had dropped my daughter…what a horrible feeling.

So, now 30 minutes late, some ice packs, Tylenol and lots of soothing and answering sweet questions from Stephanie (“Did you fall down, mama? Do you have an owie? Can I kiss it?”), we decided to head out the door. It might not be so bad. We could always turn around. Maybe we’d just take a ferry ride.

By the time we got to the ferry, we could see with relief that Kathryn didn’t even have a bump. She had some expected emotional scars (Gerry still laughs at me because she still doesn’t quite trust me to carry her! Not sure what we’ll say to her therapist when she’s 25…), but was physically ok. Me on the other hand, had a baseball where my ankle used to be, and a knee that would not stop bleeding.

But determined to VACATION, dangit, we kept forging forward, hoping for the best.

The hotel suite was fabulous – right on the harbor, with all the amenities we needed. We had decided not to bring a ton of food with us like we always do, and just go out to eat. We had to rethink that plan when not a few hours later, everything went black. Yup. Black out. Four cities wide. No restaurants were cooking. No heat. Apparently no generators to be found. And no hot water. Since it was rapidly getting dark, we got the girls ready for bed while we could still see where our luggage was. Thanksgiving dinner (we were in Canada) must have been interesting for local families!

Gerry and I looked at each other and laughed out loud. What a vacation! We ate snacks from the car, read stories to the girls until it was too dark to see, then went to bed.

The lights eventually clicked back on, I continued to ice my ankle, and the next day Gerry took the girls to the Bug Zoo and Miniature World. I stayed in the suite, relaxed and read a novel for the first time in … I can’t remember. We ALL had a great day!

Even though the swelling was still pretty fierce, we thought we’d stay through Tuesday and then ferry home. We went to the petting zoo. Closed! The train rides. Closed! The Planetarium. Closed! What the?!? Turns out, most activities for the kids were closed for the season the day after Canadian Thanksgiving. So we freaked Stephanie out at seemingly the only thing open — the Butterfly Sanctuary (she thought she was being attacked by these huge flocks of gorgeous butterflies swarming around), and went home. (Just wait till you see the pictures of her — hilarious!)

After all that, guess where the kids had THE most fun? At a local park. Swings, slides, seesaw. Just like at home.

We missed the ferry (it was full), so took another. Finally late Wednesday evening, we got home and back into our own beds.

We recounted the amazing way that God protected us, and how he blessed us with our family. Through it all, we laughed, made jokes, and made what could have been a really miserable time into something really fun and memorable. I am now convinced more than ever that whether or not the time we spend together is fun or agony COMPLETELY depends on us. We can experience the most annoying circumstances, and still find ways to enjoy one another.

I thank God for the blessing of my kids who just had fun as long as we were having fun, and my husband, who joined me on our vacation to Crazy, and returned with our senses still intact. 🙂


It is 1am. I have three babies. Why am I still up?

August 22, 2008

I honestly have no idea why I am still awake at 1am, and bored, except that I probably had that Mocha at Starbucks with Cheri too late in the afternoon. I’ll hit the wall this afternoon, I suppose. A cup of coffee should get me through late afternoon playtime with the girls. Hm. This could be a bad trend.

But I had an interesting conversation while hopping up on caffeine. What is boredom? I’ve been eating more lately and it is just starting to show (beyond the post-pregnancy pounds). I am a bored eater. But seriously, now, how could I possibly be bored?! I am SO busy!

Cheri and I talked about some theories. Boredom for her was a version of braindead. Tired. Too much to process, system shut down. Looking for filler to avoid … something…and not finding it.

I think for me, it is a lack of meaning, not a lack of things to occupy my time. Mindless busyness. I try to be mindful by planning and putting my activities in some sort of context. I haven’t been planning well lately, and so I figured that was causing me to go through my days in this aimless fashion, leading me to bored eating. I think I tend to overcome “boredom” with planning.

Then Cheri shared the way she copes with boredom. She finds a way to intentionally use her spiritual gift (so sorry if you are a friend who isn’t yet a Christ follower — bear with me here — this part won’t make sense. Better yet, don’t bear with me. Believe on Jesus. Message me about it and I’ll tell you more — before I get too far off track here for even 1am). As we talked, we drew mental pictures with each other of how spiritual gifts bring us to interact with people. There are no “Reading” gifts, or “sleeping” gifts, or “cooking fabulous food and eating it” gifts (dang!). Spiritual gifts compel us to relate to people in some way.

And the cool thing about spiritual gifts, is that God uses them in supernatural ways to build the Body. Even when we aren’t trying, or don’t know what specific gift we have.

So, what about the idea of deciding to intentionally look for ways to let God use your gift, specifically to fight boredom or mindless busyness? When I find myself eating ANOTHER handful of almonds (they are good for you, but not in successive gargantuan shovelfuls) because I am just mindlessly changing diapers, cleaning finger paint, planning Ballet birthday parties, and talking to telemarketers, I should look around for ways to use my Exhorter/Admin gifts. Help show Kathryn how to juggle. Call my mom and tell her I am thinking of her. Remember how my choice to stay home will hopefully create a strong bond between me and my daughters. Pray Colossians for someone while I fold laundry. Tell the next telemarketer that he needs Je-e-e-esus! (OK…I know that it is true, and a serious subject, and am not flippant about salvation, so please don’t get mad at me for laughing out loud at the idea of calling telemarketers and witnessing as a diet plan. It is 1am.).

What do YOU think boredom is? How do you fight it? I’d love to get some ideas.

What if you really DON’T have what it takes?

April 16, 2008

Idol auditiion

Have you seen American Idol? I watched the first two shows this season to see what all the hype was about. Most of it was painful. It was like watching a train wreck – I couldn’t look, but I couldn’t look away. Among some people who had fabulous auditions, the show also edited together some of the worst “singers” – using the word loosely – that I have ever heard. (Glutton for punishment? Here is an example)

And even more unbelievable to me was the fact that many of those crooners seemed to be genuinely upset that they did not make it to the next round. I thought to myself – what on earth would make people believe in themselves and their abilities so blindly that they could not accurately self analyze?

Your secret suspicion
Pop culture today has a new mantra “You can be anything you want to be!” It seems so encouraging! Such a fabulous motivator. Just try harder. Eventually you’ll get your hearts desire if you don’t give up.

But what if – even in the midst of all the encouragement and motivational books telling you that you can do anything if you put your mind to it — you secretly suspect that you really don’t have what it takes to realize a dream?

When my daughter Stephanie was 15 months old, she discovered the kiddie step-stool. It is was a little pink plastic stool that we use to help the children reach the sink so they can wash their hands and brush their teeth.

Stephanie brushing teeth

Once Stephie discovered that her view of the world was vastly expanded when she used that stool, she carried it around the house to access everything – from my cellphone on the kitchen counter to the baby powder on her dresser (which she proceeded to empty out over her head, and make a wonderful sticky paste by adding in some lotion.).

Discover what is it is that you really want
One thing that some of my coaching clients ask for is help in clarifying what they really want. I consider that to be a very enlightened request. Often when we determine a goal that we want to attain when we achieve it, we are disillusioned by its reality because it is not what we really want.

I hear this often from lawyer friends. It seems like such a prestigious position – one where you receive immediate respect from the general populace. Everyone thinks you are smart and rich and wise. The reality is that many lawyers hate their jobs. Buried under piles of paperwork, the stress of billable hours, which feels just like the stress of sales quotas, working with people who believe you can work miracles for them, when sometimes the best you can do is give them just shy of a fair shot.

Others realize that all they want is the perception of a certain life — not that life itself. For example another friend used to work in administration. Office work. She used to say how much she wanted to just live in the country on a farm. So one weekend she offered to house-sit for a friend who actually lived on a farm – sheep, dogs, cats, chickens, horses, you name it. We all thought this would be paradise for her. Alas, on the second day, my good friend recognized that she had nurtured a romantic view of peaceful evenings watching the sun go down from her back porch, overlooking her spread. The reality was — in a nutshell — sheep’s poo and rotten eggs.

Do you really want to be a lawyer? Or is it really that you want to be rich and respected? Law school may not be the only path to your true desire.

Do you really want to own a farm with animals and acres of land? Or do you actually just want a more simplified, quiet, life — rich with small town type relationships?

Do you really want the work that the promotion involves? Or do you simply want to have more autonomy and a larger paycheck?

Discover what you actually have – know your strengths, and use them
Everyone has strengths. Do you use them intentionally? Leverage them? Or do you take them for granted and spend most of your time focusing on improving your weaknesses? If you are a parent, do you spend most of your time focused on your child’s weaknesses or do you spend time helping them to build and leverage their innate strengths?

Even more important — do you know your strengths?

There are many different facets to our strengths — the following acronym helps me to remember some of the most basic.

Skills (Learned and practiced abilities)
Talents (Natural inborn abilities)
Resources (Borrowed abilities)
Energy (motivation and physical vigor)
Nourishment (emotional, spiritual, and physical “food”)
Gifts (Supernatural abilities to promote the church body – for followers of Jesus Christ)
Temperament (character/integrity/moral fiber)
Hegemony (authority/power by position)

Over the next weeks I’ll explain in more detail what I mean by each of these.

My journey to Clutter Prevention

February 9, 2007

So, I am embarrassed to admit that I was watching Oprah yesterday. Nothing wrong with her show, it is just the “lazy-soccer-mom-stays-home-and-watches-Oprah-while-eating bon-bons” stereotype that I resist. Just so you know, I was emptying the dishwasher and preparing dinner while watching. No chocolate in sight.

The show caught my attention because the girls were still napping (a quiet house!) and because on the show they were cleaning out a really “cluttered” house. If my mother ever watched a single episode of Oprah and saw it, she would have called it a “downright pig-sty”, and would have said they had no “home-training.” But today’s terminology is “cluttered.” I can get with that.

Now, I don’t think our house is overly cluttered, but the potential is one pair of shoes away. Our house is smaller and seriously lacking in closet space. I mean, right now, there are only two functioning closets for clothes – the master bedroom and the front closet. All the other clothes closets have had their doors and clothing bars removed and now have bookshelves or dressers in them to create a more spacious look in the room itself.

So, needless to say, any overflow of shoes, clothing, or accessories have nowhere to go except in the garage in a box. In fact, almost all of my shoes are on some shelves in the garage. Kind of hard to get dressed when you have to go to the garage or dig in a box. Now, mind you, I am willing to admit that my closet is plenty big. I simply have too much stuff. So, either we buy a bigger house to store all 2 gazillion pairs of shoes, or I pare down. Simplify. I decided paring down was cheaper.

So, I watched Oprah. I was inspired to get rid of everything not in “the present”. My closet and the myriad of boxes in the garage were filled with items from “the past” (“I wore that on our first date”, or “I spent way to much money to throw that away!”) or from “the future” (“I will get back into that pair of size 4 pants if it kills me” or “I might need to wear that one day”). I am inspired to try to live in the present.

Well, unfortunately, I realize that I have not fully accepted my present. Why? In the last 4 years I got married in my late 30s, moved to a new town, and had 2 children. I think my brain is still stuck in my career focused, socially active, living by myself mindset. Am I really that stay at home mom who wears sweats 6 times more often than dress slacks? Is my social life now playgroups and birthday parties? Do I really share my house with 3 other people and so cannot take over every closet in the place to store my clothes and shoes? Am I now to accept that my butt is really that big?

I sit here staring at a pile of sequined evening dresses as the reality of my new life hits me with a thud like a chubby unwanted bully. Cleaning out the closet seems to be resurrecting a need for therapy.

Now, mind you, I love my new life with my girls and my husband dearly. I would not trade them for anything. So why is choosing to live in the present and give up my favorite jeans that no longer fit and those 4 inch stilettos that kill my toes so difficult?

Clinging to the past
So many of my things remind me of the past…I have many happy memories, and have some regret about the way I have accumulated things. Ecclesiastes encourages us to live in the present, not the past. Eccl.5:19-20 To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life, that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy.

Living for the Future
The things that I don’t use, I tend to save because I might need them in the future. I mean, should we be out of work and become homeless with no money, at least I will have my black crocodile stilettos to wear while we panhandle, right? And you never know, I might just get back to my pre-baby weight and shape so that I can wear all those size six fancy suits while I avoid being touched by little fingers covered in mashed bananas.

I realize that hording things for some moment in the future is simply worry in a form that is more difficult to recognize. After all, God is the one who gives me a future – He has the plans. My next breath belongs to Him. Jer 31:16-17 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. There is hope for your future,” says the LORD. ”

Now, of course there is reasonable planning for the future that wisdom dictates we do. But I don’t need to keep so many extraneous things to feel secure. God has given me hope for my future. He has given me reasons for joy.

My Present: a reason for joy
So cleaning out my closet and dresser is my first stab at living my life in the present. My sweats wearing, grubby kids handprint wiping, dinner cooking, Volvo driving, big hipped, wonderful, blessed present.
Matthew 6:25-34
“So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.

“And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!

“So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.