Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On this Eve of 2014...

Happy New Year's Eve, dear readers. May your 2014 be filled with adventures and stories that fill your soul to the brim.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Busting Through Grudges

My husband and I had plans to fly from LA to Tampa last weekend when an ice storm decided to hit Dallas, forcing our airline to cancel our flights and bump us to another carrier.

We were so thankful that there were two spots left for us, but were disappointed when we discovered they were across the aisle from each other, each located in the middle seat. I was certain that some kind soul would be willing to trade seats so we could sit next to one another.

But when we got to row 18 and I brightly asked, "Would anyone be willing to switch with us so my husband and I could sit together?" two of the four men in question wouldn't meet my eyes and the others just sort of shook their heads like they were turning down a door-to-door salesperson.

I started fuming.

I hunkered into my seat with a million rude comments zinging through my head. "This wouldn't have happened in a row full of women." "I hope if you and your wife ever find yourselves in a similar predicament, someone is kind enough to move for you." "Oh, and a Merry Christmas to you too!"

I knew the way out of the frustration was to coach myself; to focus on how grateful I was to even be sitting on that plane. But my anger was burning hotter than my coaching resolve.

I purposely took up more space on the armrest just to spite one of my neighbors. I ignored the other's attempts to make conversation. I was so mad but at the same time wishing something would snap me out of my funk.

And then I started reading an article by Ann Lamott in the November issue of O Magazine. The title was "I am really ticked off. Do I have to be forgiving?" Here's an excerpt:
"This is what Hell feels like: to be obsessed with a generally awful person who isn't even aware of the turmoil he or she is causing. Heaven is to have forgiven—or to have forgiven-ish, the best you can, for now. When your heart is even slightly softer toward that person and you are less clenched and aggrieved, you've been touched by grace.

Grace is spiritual WD-40. It eases our way out of grippy, self-righteous stuckness."

That thing we think is for other people but is really a savior to our own sanity.

I felt my racing pulse start to slow. I almost laughed out loud at the Universe for sending me the exact message I needed at that moment. Not only did it have impact on me during my plane ride, it was a powerful reminder of how to handle sticky holiday situations—which can be rife with grudgey opportunities.

Wherever you're holding anger right now, see if you can let some of it go by focusing on the power of forgiveness. I guarantee it'll make you feel a little better. Like a stocking stuffed with tickets for primo seats on your favorite airline.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

One-Minute Meditation: Bees in the Rosemary Bush

Every day these dedicated little buzzers work away at their very important jobs pollinating our garden. I think I could sit for hours just smelling the rosemary and watching the bees.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Seeing It All Through a Lens of Gratitude

In the spirit of this day of thanks, I thought I'd share a few of the answers that came up for me when I completed my 30 Days of Gratitude worksheet last month (you can get the worksheet here for free). I hope you're having a wonderful turkey day and that you tap into massive amounts of gratitude from now through the end of the year.

Here are a few peeks into my daily feelings of gratitude:

Day 7
The strongest part of my body in this moment is: my vocal cords

Day 10
I felt a little burst of energy today when: my yoga teacher said, "Yes, Melissa that's it!" while I was doing a back bend

Day 15
I'm grateful that my hands can hold: spray paint and tools

Day 23
I'm grateful for the way these things feel: cozy socks, sunlight, hot showers

Day 26
When I look around the world, I'm grateful for: tolerant people, changes in thinking about farming, marriage equality, mental health, and guns

Unfortunately there's a whole other set of gratitude catalysts that my 30 Days worksheet doesn't cover: the hard things. The challenges that end up revealing great blessings. Life coach Meadow Devor wrote a beautiful post about this earlier in the week. And it really got me thinking about how thankful I am for the challenges I've faces in my life thus far.

I'm grateful that I was a pipsqueak late bloomer because it helped me develop a greater sense of humor.

I'm grateful that my boyfriend cheated on me in 2007 so I could finally become clear on what I really deserved.

I'm grateful that I've had to spend periods of time away from my husband, forcing me to stand stronger in my own independence.

I'm grateful that health scares in my family reminded all of us how lucky we are to have one another and how we should try to make the most of every day because we never know how much time we have here.

I'm grateful that the last year has been a crazy stress roller coaster because it reminded me the importance of practicing what I preach and using the tools I have to combat overwhelm.

And I'm grateful that there will be new challenges ahead to teach me invaluable lessons and steer me along my path toward every point I'm meant to hit in this life.  

Happy Thanksgiving to you, readers. I hope you can find much to be grateful for today, too.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Launching a Counterattack on Stress: A How-To Guide

Hawaiian vacations are a great way to de-stress, but most of us can't afford to
take them on a weekly basis.

Last night I hosted a free call on my 5 Top Tips for Overcoming Overwhelm and Breaking Free from Your Funk. It was a jolly good time and if you missed it, you can listen to the recording here!

There's also an accompanying Google doc that you can download here.

What I'm talking about may not be rocket science or brain surgery—but it is brain science! Certain practices I cover can literally help you start to rewire your brain so that it refocuses on the positive instead of the negative. And when you're feeling stuck in a funk, that kind of change in perspective can be extremely valuable. 

While I have you here, I also wanted to let you know about a little program I'm putting together to kick off the New Year. It's called Wonderful U and it's all about reconnecting to your sense of self—and what makes you wonderful—so you can find more joy and get more of what you want out of life. When it comes to your career aspirations, relationships, life experiences, goals, hopes and dreams, the common denominator is YOU. Everything revolves around how you feel about yourself and how you treat yourself. I want to make sure you're feeling and acting from a place of wonderful.

So I'm cooking up a workbook, a series of four tele-classes, and a fun kick-off party at my house in California's Central Coast wine country to help you make it happen.

You can find more details here and here.

I hope last night's call helps if you're feeling stuck in a state of funky overwhelm. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions or want to chat!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My 5 Top Tips for Battling Overwhelm and Breaking Free from Your Funk

One of my nightly practices: documenting things I'm grateful for in my Grat Pad.

We have this saying in coaching that goes, "You've got to live it to give it." You can't go around trying to help people solve problems if you haven't taken your own medicine and solved them yourself.

I knew this back in January when I started offering girlfriend getaway coaching weekends to friends and family that wanted to learn about "Overcoming Overwhelm," but I didn't know that the Universe had big plans for teaching (and reteaching) me how to do it myself. Live it to give it...

I thought because I had all sorts of fancy tools up my sleeve from coach training that I was more than ready to share them with the world. And much of what I shared has helped clients.

But after going through a year that included a husband out of the country, monthly trips from California to Canada, two houses that required upkeep (in cities 2+ hours apart), working one full-time-ish job while trying to launch another business (this one!), packing and moving (sans husband again), caring for ailing geriatric cats, and trying to fit in fun stuff here and there, I realized I needed a new toolset. Whew!

When I moved in August, I was under the false assumption that Everything! Was Going to Get! Easier! Hooray!


The first two months were extremely rough and it wasn't until I started putting my coaching knowledge into action that I really began to feel better.

And the funny thing was that the external stressors seemed to calm down as I calmed down. Coincidence? I kind of think not.

All of this is to say that I came away with 5 Stupendously Important Practices that I shall henceforth use anytime I'm in a funk again. And probably in between funks. Like preventative medicine.

I'm sharing my 5 Top Tips for Battling Overwhelm and Breaking Free from Your Funk on a live call next Tuesday night, November 19 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. PST. 

And it's completely free, baby!

If you're a ball of stress like I was, I highly encourage you to dial in and learn the tips—plus get a little free coaching if you need it. Send me a note here telling me that you'd like to attend and I will send you the call-in number and accompanying Google doc.

And if you can't attend live, I may record the call and post it on the site. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Finding Your Feel Good Flock

I've been taking part in Brené Brown's Gifts of Imperfection e-course on Oprah.com, and one of our recent assignments was to make a list of people we can share our "stories" with, knowing they'll continue to love us no matter what we say.

It was an interesting exercise and it got me thinking about all the different "lists" that exist within each of our social communities.

We have the friends we've known forever and love to reminisce with, and the friends from work who can totally understand our career-related joys and pains, and the friends in similar life stages who integrate easily into our routines, and the ones who are different from us and have the power to pull us out of our comfort zones.

But one of the friend flocks I find most essential to a sense of joy and aliveness is the group that speaks our language and sets our senses of possibility in motion.

These are the people who share our passions. The ones who light up with us when we start carrying on wildly about our hobbies or aspirations or philosophies on life. They not only support the facets of our feel-good, they understand them in a way other friends may not. They get it.

For me, the feel good flock includes friends who get amped up over personal growth talk, nurturing of the spirit, and the magic we're all capable of creating in our lives. When I'm with "birds" from this flock, I can feel myself just humming. There's a sense of playfulness and positivity and deep understanding in all of our interactions.

Making a list of the people who fit this bill in your life will enable you to connect with them quickly to get feel-good fixes when you need them most. 

So who are the birds that really speak your language? Which friends up the power supply to that little light shining inside you?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

One-Minute Meditation: Cloud Tracking

Remember when you were a kid and you'd lie on your back and stare at the sky, watching the clouds drift and collide and change shapes? I'm taking you back to those days for a minute.

Settle in, let your shoulders loosen, and watch the clouds go by.

Need a few more minutes? You can watch my previous one-minute meditations here and here

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Happiness Can Be Found in the Right Here and Right Now

When you can recognize manifestations of your desires in your current life, you'll attract more of what you want. (Plus it just feels good to recognize that you already have what you're seeking.) What are you after? Love? Peace? Fulfillment? Adventure? Fun? Stop and think of all the places you can already identify those things in your life. You might be surprised.

Friday, October 18, 2013

5 Places to Find Abundance in Your Day-to-Day Routine

Harvest is in full swing in the valley where I live, which means gourds and pumpkins and apples and grapes are abounding around every turn. Cornucopias can't hold all the plenty going on around these parts.

It's a good reminder to focus on abundance rather than scarcity. 

Where our attention goes, we go. The more we focus on something, the more of it we attract. 

So if your focus is on lack of love, finances, fun, shoes, whatever, you're sending a signal into the Universe that boomerangs back a whole lot more lack in that area.

How do you shift your vibe from not enough to a whole lotta lotta? Practice looking for abundance. You may not be with the love of your life right now, but where else can you feel love around you? Or if your bank account isn't as full as you'd like, where else do you feel rich? How are the things you want most already showing up? How do you already have what you're seeking?

Even if you don't zero in on a specific area of your life, it's great to practice looking for abundance in your daily routine. Here are 5 place to find it as you start your morning.

1. In your closet
I would bet that most of us have enough clothing to stylishly cover a small village. How many jackets and sweaters do you have to keep you warm? How many memories come up when you look at your dresses and cute tops? How many places have all your different pairs of shoes carried you? Our closets and dressers are often bursting with bounty. We just have to stop and notice it now and again.

2. In the shower
Talk about a treat for the senses. How good does your shampoo smell? How much better does your voice sound when you're singing between those tiled walls? (Everyone sounds like a pop star in the shower. It's a proven fact.) How many body parts are feeling the warm tickle of the water? Notice the sensation of it against your skin. How many delicious scenarios can you daydream up while you're under the shower head?

3. On your breakfast plate (or in your lunch bag) 
We are so fortunate to have such an abundance of food available to us in this country. Taking the time to actually taste your toast or coffee or pb&j sandwich lets you experience all the flavors and textures your food has to offer. How does that latte feel when it hits your lips? What do your tastebuds detect when you chew a bite of your bagel and cream cheese? Food doesn't have to be gourmet to offer an abundance of satisfaction.

4. Outside your front door
Again, the path to more abundant experiences often starts with sensory perception. When you walk outside, what do you feel? Sun on your face? The nip of cool autumn air? What do you smell? Can you hear birds chirping or planes flying overhead? Do you see neighbors or new flowers budding in your yard or leaves starting to change color? How much activity is already in the works around you as you're just getting out to start your day?

5. In the car
Car stereos and ipods have to be some of the most abundantly packed items on the planet. Yes, I know sometimes we scan the radio stations and can't seem to find any songs we like, but I would bet that somewhere most of us have a killer playlist overflowing with great tunes—or even a stack of great CDs—we can use to fill the air around us with melody. How many great songs do you hear on your morning commute? How many interesting facts or funny stories do your favorite DJs share? And how lucky are you to even have enough money to be driving a car? You're prosperous enough to keep gas in your tank. And I bet you even have the luxury of going to the car wash now and again.

If we make it a point to look for it, abundance can be found in all different areas of our lives. And because abundance is gratitude's faithful sidekick, it makes a great starting place for shifting into a mode of increased thankfulness.

Where can you see abundance in your life today?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

One-Minute Meditation: Afternoon Rain

This week's One-Minute Meditation is probably better as an auditory experience. My hand isn't super steady, so the camerawork is a little shakier than I'd like it to be... Click play, close your eyes, and listen to the soft rhythm of the rain as it makes its first autumn mark on California's Central Coast.

And when you're finished, hop over to The Path to Wonderful Facebook page and check your settings to make sure you're receiving all of my posts. Apparently Facebook has changed its algorithms again, so we have to make some minor adjustments if we want to make sure we're seeing everything our Liked pages are posting.

1. Mouse over the "Liked" button and be sure that "Show in News Feed" is selected.
2. In the same drop-down menu right underneath "Show in News Feed" you will see a "Settings" option. Click on that.
3. Then check "All Updates."

Thanks for stopping by to share another meditative moment with me! 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Mimosas and Manifesting

Hi there! I'm over at Mimosa Lotus today, talking about manifesting and magic. If you haven't checked out Mimosa Lotus, you should! Here's a little snapshot of what their site has to say:

Mimosa Lotus inspires personal growth by providing tools to live a happier, more fulfilled life.

We focus on career, health, fitness, lifestyle, money and relationships with a fresh approach and a healthy dose of fun.

There are actionable ways to move forward, so that every one of us can live our dream life. 

We hope that all of your mimosa glasses are always at least half full and that you remember to leave a little room to bloom.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy my post on the four musts of manifesting

Thursday, September 19, 2013

One-Minute Meditation: Wind in the Trees, Santa Ynez

In the spirit of the OWN network's Breathing Space videos and a blog my friend Janice once wrote about meditating on a blowing tablecloth, I shot a one-minute movie of the breeze in my backyard yesterday.

Take a second out of your busy day to just breathe and watch.

Listen to the wind—it almost sounds like the ocean.

Let yourself relax. Just for a moment.

Repeat as often as necessary.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Free Download: 30 Days of Gratitude Worksheet

I've mentioned a couple different paths to gratitude on the blog here before, but now I'm taking things a step further with a full month of gratitude prompts. And you can download them for FREE! This new worksheet walks through a variety of topics, so you can explore gratitude from all different angles.

You can use it once or every month or fill out multiple questions each day if that's what you prefer. Whatever sort of thankfulness floats your boat.

To download it, click here or visit the Free Love page of this site.

Hope you enjoy your new gratitude practice!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Untangling Negative Thoughts

The house we just moved into seems to have an ever-growing smattering of bulbs buried in its front yard. Because we plan to eventually relandscape to more drought-tolerant native plants, I've been digging up as many bulbs as I can when I'm out pulling weeds and trimming errant rose bushes.

Every time I pull up one bulb, I see a sister or brother peeking out from the dirt nearby. And I have to dig more.

These puppies seem to multiply like crazy, so leaving any unattended in the dirt pretty much guarantees that a whole crop of unwanted plants will come our way in the winter.

As I worked to free some from the soil this weekend, I found myself comparing them to the negative thoughts we all have buried in our overly fertile brains.

It's almost guaranteed that if you dig up one negative thought, you'll find others tangled around its root system, conspiring to give rise to additional undesirable beliefs and actions. 

To stop the clusters of negativity from growing wild and taking over our inner sanctuaries, we've got to keep digging and digging until we've plucked them all out, examined them, and assessed whether they're really, truly serving us in any way.

Most of the time, I would say they are not.

But the key to getting rid of them and, frankly, living a more joyful, positive life is to keep on digging. Pay attention to the new (or old) ones that try to crop up. Let your higher self grab a mental trowel, and extricate them immediately. Ask yourself, "How is this thought serving me? Is it making my life better in some way? Do I feel good about this thought?"

If it's not serving you, it's time to toss it into the compost pile.

Freeing up that space in your mental garden will make room for much more beautiful, sustainable thoughts to grow.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What's Holding You Back from Dreaming?

I was having a conversation with my husband about career paths recently, and when I asked him what he would do if he could do anything, I could almost feel his creative synapses tense up and shrivel like frightened sea anemones.

"I can't just do anything I want because I have to make money," he told me.

To a degree, this was true. We have a mortgage we'd like to keep paying, so we both need to continue bringing in income. However, that reality shouldn't serve a gigantic, immovable boulder that stands in the path to dreaming about different options.

"Take money out of the equation and just let yourself daydream about what would be the most fun," I encouraged.

He couldn't do it.

I was kind of astounded. It's not like I was asking him to make a commitment to becoming a carpenter or a professional barbecuer. I was just inviting him to relax into some creative thinking. To open his mind and follow the tracks that felt most exciting.

It occurred to me that if he had this roadblock keeping him from daydreaming, other people probably did, too. (Including myself.)

But dreaming is supposed to be a no holds barred, delicious activity. A gift from our creative minds.

If I dig into my path-blocking boulders, I find thoughts like, "I'm not a good public speaker" or "I don't even know where to begin with that" sitting in my way.

In order to let myself explore options that could be the starting points for something really wonderful in my future, I have to gently tell my rational brain to set the boulders aside and just indulge possibility.

In a daydream, there are no rules.

I don't have to be a good public speaker—or maybe I AM one. It's my daydream, after all!

Imagine what you might discover about your desires if you rolled the roadblocks out of the way and gave yourself permission to really, truly, creatively daydream about career changes, relationships, or even just edits to your day-to-day routine. You don't have to commit to doing any of it. You don't have to nail down a plan of action. Just bask in the possibility for a bit. Let yourself think, "Wouldn't it be awesome if..."

You might find out something new about yourself. Or even put your finger on a fork in the road you'd like to follow.

So tell me, what defeating thoughts are standing in the way of your daydreaming freedom? And where might your mind go if you let yourself move past those, even for a few minutes?

Friday, July 19, 2013

20 Ways to Bring More Play into Your Day

Life coaches are notorious "players." Check out Mary Beth Leisen's site at
TapasLiving.com and Allison Snyder (pictured on the phone) at AllisonSnyder.com

On the heels of my last post, I thought it would be fun to offer up some solutions to the all-work-no-play dilemma many of us may be facing.

Here are 20 quick tips for bringing more play into your day-to-day:
  1. Create a "Play" playlist and listen to it when you need a boost. I find that anything from the 80s featuring Olivia Newton-John immediately brightens my mood.
  2. Let yourself doodle. Or color if you have crayons at the ready. Or paint if that's what floats your boat. You get the idea...
  3. Free write—anything you want—in a journal for 10 minutes. Doing this every day can open up a whole new path to creativity.
  4. Turn a meal into a fun event. Have breakfast for dinner and get decked out in your favorite sexy pjs, make a picnic on the living room floor, or recreate a meal you had on a favorite vacation.
  5. Sit on a stool or a wall or a countertop and swing your feet. You'll feel like a kid again. 
  6. Dance while you're doing the dishes. Or while you're vacuuming or cooking. Music obviously helps with this one...
  7. Watch something funny on YouTube. Like this or this or this.
  8. Let yourself be imperfect. Allow yourself to do something badly or messily in the spirit of creativity and fun.
  9. Recall a funny memory and send a "remember when" email to a friend or family member. You'll likely brighten their day as well as your own.
  10. Challenge your coworkers to a game of Scrabble (or basketball or whatever else tickles your game fancy). Nothing breaks up the monotony of the day like a little friendly competition.
  11. Change your shoes. Keep flip flops or bunny slippers under your desk or near your front door and slip into them when you want to be reminded of relaxation mode.
  12. Spend some play time with a pet. Obviously dogs and cats are easy marks, but I've had playful encounters with hummingbirds and squirrels who're peeking in my window. (Note: probably want to avoid playing with raccoons, coyotes, and mountain lions...)
  13. Tune into Hulu during your lunch break. My favorite playful shows are New Girl, The Mindy Project, and Modern Family.
  14. Challenge yourself to come up with song lyrics about whatever task you're doing. (I might use Macklemore's Thrift Shop when I'm copywriting... I'm gonna write some ads, only got 20 words in my pocket...)
  15. Chew bubble gum. And blow bubbles. Avoid getting gum in your hair...
  16. Send someone (or yourself) a JibJab card. The disco ones are my favorite.
  17. Go outside. Something about being outdoors always feels a little like you're playing hooky.
  18. Hang out with children and go along with whatever they tell you to do. They're expert players. I once found my brother-in-law laying in a recliner having his teeth faux-cleaned by my niece who was playing dental hygienist. Classic.
  19. Leave anonymous "love" notes around your home or office for people to find. You'll feel like you're playing a secret spy game and recipients' days will be made when they discover messages telling them they're wonderful and amazing.
  20. Build something. A tower out of your loose change. A teepee out of the pens on your desk. A mosaic out of M&Ms. Again, building is a great way to tap into fun and creativity—the signature marks of play.
As I was compiling this list, my hubby and his best friend came into the room so I asked them how they like to add play to their work days. The reply I got was: Fart jokes.

Apparently that should be #21 on the list.

Play on, my friends!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Work vs. Play

I was cruising through the channel guide on my TV today when I cam upon The Shining—a movie that both terrified and captivated me when I first saw it at 15. I couldn't help but tune in for a bit this afternoon and watch as Jack spiraled into madness.

Sure, he was one of Stephen King's greatest psychopaths. But can't we all relate to the feeling of mental unbalance that ensues when life feels like work, work, work all the time?

Without time for play, even the best of us can go a little crazy. 

And really, when we're our best selves, isn't it because most things feels like play? Like when we're on vacation and everything from a swim in the ocean to the taste of some new, exotic dish has a hint of mischief behind it. That sort of silly, thrilled feeling you'd get when you were a kid. 

According to an article featured on PsychCentral.com, "Play is just as pivotal for adults as it is for kids."

Being in a playful state of mind and engaging in play-spirited activities sparks joy, creativity, and learning. 

Approaching tasks, relationships, and problems playfully can make them much more enjoyable—and even yield better results than if you tried to tackle them from an all-business mindset.

Life coach extraordinaire Martha Beck has been talking about the need to play for years. She recommends giving yourself permission to embark on an ongoing cycle of rest-until-you-want-to-play, followed by play-until-you-want-to-rest.

I've found that letting myself slip into a slightly goofy place during office hours can make projects feel more like play. Singing and dancing while cleaning or cooking definitely elevate the level of fun associated with each. Even just playing with my cats helps put me into that "pivotal" place of lightness and amusement.

The bottom line is that everything feels better when come at it from place of play rather than work.

Then, like a joyful toddler, I can let myself relax until I'm ready to take on the next round of play.

So tell me—what have you been doing lately that feels like play? Or how can you bring more play into your day-to-day routine? 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sanity Saver #62: Ask for Help

It's come to my attention recently that most people I know are pretty resistant to asking for help when they need it.

Myself included.

Whether the resistance stems from a belief that we "should" be able to handle everything ourselves, or that someone else won't do our to-dos as well as we will, or that asking for assistance is evidence that we're failing, we end up suffocating our own joy by not seeking out aid when we need it.

Not asking for help breeds resentment.

Have you ever had one of those situations in a relationship where you thought the other person should (there's that "should" word again...) just KNOW when you need help and offer to give it to you? So maybe you hold out, tight-lipped and tense just waiting for them to ask, and when they don't, your resentment grows and grows until you can't take it anymore and you blow up, launching a fiery attack on them about how you always have to do everything?

I know this one well. I bit Mr. W's head off because he didn't offer to help with some wedding projects in 2010. But I didn't ask him to either.

We need to be willing to ask for what we want.

Not asking for help can make life lonely.

When you try to tackle everything on your own, it can sometimes feel like you're the only person on the planet, condemned to bear the burden of your stress in solitude. Sharing the fact that you need help (even if the person listening can't give it to you in that moment) can ease some of the suffering. Knowing that there are people around you who care and who are willing to hear you out, in and of itself, makes the load easier to carry.

The other byproduct of seeking out help when we need it is that, again, even if the people around us can't be there in the moment, they may be able to shower us with compassion. "I've totally been there," can be a really great thing to hear when you're feeling overwhelmed and all alone. 

Not asking for help diminishes what you have to offer the world. 

Think about it: when you're totally overloaded by your task list, how do you show up in the various areas of your life? Do you have the time and energy to be the kind of friend, employee, spouse, or parent you want to be?

I know I don't.

When we don't ask for help, we can't give where it matters. And that leads to mediocrity, which isn't exactly the kind of performance I think any of us want to be known for. (Except when it comes to shower cleaning. I'll take a mediocre rating on that one.)

After going for a very long time without seeking assistance on a growing list of things in my life, this past week I asked for help. It was truly amazing how much better it made me feel. And I ended up getting to spend some time with family and friends, which was a huge bonus.

Where are you holding back on asking for help in your life right now? And how much better would you feel if you had someone to lend you a hand?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fighting for Your Life

Much better than humans fighting, right?
Last Saturday, a friend took me to my very first self-defense class. Going into it, I was definitely excited to learn some new skills to use if I ever found myself in a precarious situation in a dark alley. But I had no idea what an impact the class would have on me. See, it wasn't just any old self-defense routine. It was based on the art of Guided Chaos.

The idea with Guided Chaos is that in real life-or-death situations, there aren't systematic moves that will save you every time. The fighting is chaotic and messy, and you have to adapt to what's happening—split second by split second.

What struck me the most about the class (other than my immensely uncoordinated limbs) was how the four main principles of it can be applied to any situation in life (which can also be chaotic, if you haven't noticed...).
  1. Balance: One must maintain his or her balance—with a low center of gravity and flat feet—so as not to get knocked over.
  2. Sensitivity: Being acutely aware of sights, sounds, and touch enables you to react more effectively.
  3. Looseness: Staying loose in your body can put you at an advantage. A floppy arm can easily fling back up and hit an attacker in the face without much effort. Rigidity actually gives the other guy an edge—he can manipulate or knock you over more easily .
  4. Body Unity: Coordinating arms and legs/hands and feet allows you to stay in perpetual motion and retain your balance better.
Aren't these the same abilities we need to master to keep it together in times of stress or unexpected change?

When life gets crazy and chaotic and we have no idea what's going to come at us next, isn't it critical to work on keeping our balance? Using our senses to react appropriately? Staying relaxed and going with the flow? And unifying with our bodies (not our heads) to be fully tuned in to our intuition?

The entire time I was in the class, I was thinking, "WOW. I need to use this stuff when the Universe throws termite infestation punches and family illness kicks at me." Imagine how much more effective I would be at defending myself if I could stay balanced, tuned in, loose, and unified. I think I'd do a much better job of saving my sanity.

And, if necessary, I might even be able to save my purse from a thief.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Key Ingredient in Finding New Friends, Lovers, and Jeans

Trying on clothing in a fitting room is an exercise in vulnerability.

You head in to that poorly lit little stall with a pile of jeans in your hand and a heap of uncertainty in your head, and then you strip down to nothing and stand in the reflection of your own judgment. If it's Nordstrom, there's a mirror behind you, illuminating every dimple and vein on your backside. Funny how the lights always seem to shine brighter on those spots.

You slither into the denim, unsure of whether it will mold perfectly to your curves or gape and pucker in all the wrong places. You try on one pair, two, three—finally on the fourth, you stop and stare. You like what you see. You like how you feel. It's you but maybe even better.

And you never would have figured this out if you'd only grabbed one pair from the rack. Or if you'd made a purchase without trying them on first.

The act of letting go of your defenses—stripping down to your natural self—has served you.

The fitting room isn't the only place this tactic works.

A friend and I were talking recently about how it can be difficult to make new friends when you're an adult. It can be scary to ask another ladykid if she wants to come over for a playdate. She might get one look at your collection of owl salt and pepper shakers and deem you a huge dork. Or you could open up to her about your irrational fear of the earth losing its gravitational pull and she might decide you're crazy.

She might reject you.

And wouldn't that be a good thing?

Just like the jeans, we want our friends and lovers and jobs to fit just right. We want them to hug us where it's needed. We don't want them to pull away in the spots they should be close or cling too tightly when we need breathing room.

But like the jeans, the only way to discover whether they're the right fit is to let down your guard and be vulnerable. 

And if they're the wrong size, that's okay. It doesn't mean you've failed. It just means it wasn't the right fit.

You just keep trying on others until you find the ones you want to keep.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Finding the Way Out of Unfairness

If you are one of those people who has never used the Internet to peek at people from your past, I commend you. Way to live in the present. If you are like me, curiosity may occasionally get the best of you and send you searching LinkedIn and Facebook for old coworkers and even your cheating ex.

As a life coach, I realize this is not a productive use of my time. And furthermore, I shouldn't be worrying about what other people are doing—I should be focused on making my life the most joyous, awesomest experience it can possibly be. But I'm a human, and therefore I have flaws. Like Facebook stalking.

Last night, for some unknown reason, I looked up my old flame Mr. Redflags on Facebook and found a profile for him that nearly made me gasp. Splashed across his page were pictures of him smiling from ear-to-ear with his wife and sweet, new baby.

My immediate reaction was,"That's NOT fair! He doesn't deserve such happiness after what he did to me!"

The raging victim inside me reared her angry head and started spinning a story that didn't feel good at all.

I stewed in this place for a little while and then that wise, higher person who rents a room in my brain said, "Why shouldn't he get to be happy, too?"

"Because he's a cheater and a liar! I bet his new wife doesn't even know about all the things he did!" my victim replied.

Then something shifted and suddenly I realized that he deserved truckloads of happiness because if it weren't for what he did, I wouldn't be where I am right now. If he hadn't cheated on me, I might be married to him. I might be miserable. I might not have ever met my Mr. W. I might actually owe him MY happiness.

I felt gratitude stretch to the furthest corners of my being. It's funny because I had expressed thanks (ish) toward him before. But this time, the physical feeling that went with it was completely different. I could tell it was true gratitude because it felt peaceful inside me.

We all deserve happiness. Things are only unfair when we choose to view them from the place of the eternal sufferer.

And I am not an eternal sufferer.

I know that even when someone has betrayed me with words or actions or maybe even a smack in the face, there is an opportunity to turn it around and find a reason to be thankful. To find gratitude for the lesson. The lessons are teaching me to own higher standards for my life. They are inviting me to make changes and move on to better things.

Whose life do you look at from time to time and find yourself thinking it's not fair? Can you cultivate a space of gratitude around the relationship and change that painful story?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Manifesting Mad Libs

Want a quick way to get started in the realm of manifesting? Start filling in the blanks to sentences like these:

     It would be so cool if ____________________.

     It would be awesome if __________________.

     I'd be so excited if ______________________.

During my final semester in college, I was interning at an advertising agency. I dug the work, enjoyed the staff, and of course wanted more than anything to have a job lined up after school was done. Though it didn't seem at all likely that the agency would hire me, I distinctly remember saying to my boyfriend, "Wouldn't it be cool if Grey offered me a job?"

Three weeks before graduation, they called me and told me they wanted to interview me for a junior copywriter position. And a few weeks after that, I was part of their team.

Sometimes all it takes is one simple request—or even mild musing—and the Universe just swoops in and delivers a slice of reality that's beyond your dreams. 

The key is to not have a huge attachment to the outcome. When I was playfully wishing for my post-college job, I didn't have a lot weighing on it working out. I didn't carry around any anxiety or worry over what might happen. I simply expressed a possibility that seemed like it could be a very cool experience. And it happened.

Since then, it's happened many more times—and I've come to realize how important it is to be specific about what goes inside the blank. This could mean spending a little more time considering the scenario you want most or maybe just adding lots of "ands" and adjectives to the end of your sentence.

If you go through life being totally unclear on your "Wouldn't it be cool if" statements, you may just bounce around haphazardly until finally finding a fit by accident.

I think it's way more fun to invite the right fit in from the get-go.

So tell me: How would you complete the phrases above?

Maybe in a few months or years, we can compare notes and see how many of them have come true!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Same Circumstances, Different Stories

I couldn't help but pair this post with a picture of the two-pronged carrot we picked
in our backyard this weekend. I bet each of those legs has a different story about growing.
I'm putting my own advice to work this week. My hubby came to visit over the weekend and when I found myself sliding into a fit of sniffles and self pity when he left, I immediately started to examine the story I was reciting in my head.

Changing your story can change your mood in a hot minute. 

Here's how mine seemed to be breaking down:

Story Option #1: My husband is working in Canada for 7+ months. This means I have to take care of two houses, two yards, two cars (we don't want any dead batteries!), incoming mail for two people, some extra outgoing bill payments, and any little disasters that creep up (like clogged sinks and broken light switches). I have to go to bed and wake up alone. I'm solo at social events. I'm sex-deprived and snuggle-starved. We'll be apart on our 2-year anniversary. I miss him every day and we still have four more months to go. Ugh.

Story Option #2: My husband is working in Canada for 7+ months. This means I get to go visit him four times in Vancouver and then see him once for a wedding in Hawaii—then again when his shoot moves to Hawaii! I talk to him throughout each day on Instant Messenger, and we're able to Skype and chat on the phone often. I have more time to focus on my own projects, and if I don't want to shave my legs for a week, no one knows but me! To make up for being apart on the actual day of our anniversary, we enjoyed two special dinner dates together this month. I miss him every day but we only have four more months to go. We're nearly halfway there!

Feel the energetic difference in those two different takes? One makes you pretty much want to lie on the couch with a security blanket and a mojito-filled sippy cup. The other makes you kind of want to high-five me, huh?

There is so much power in focusing on the positive. 

It can literally re-energize you. Both of the stories above are completely true, but when I tell myself option #2, I feel So Much Better. And isn't that what life is about? Feeling good. Feeling joyous. I choose that over the saddies any day.

But, of course, if the saddies creep in, it's important not to ignore them. 

Letting myself shed a few tears yesterday when Mr. W left was what allowed me to focus on my positive story again. I had to move through the sadness before I could get back to the joy. I think a good cry is always a good thing.

But after that cry, I'm always going to lean into the happier ending.

Do you have any two-sided stories swirling in your head right now?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Confessions from a Coach

Every year at the end of December, I write a recap of the year before in my journal and compile a list of resolutions/to-dos for the year ahead. Sometimes they're lofty ideas, like "Write that book you've been thinking about," and other times they're small but fun like "Attend at least 3 concerts or musicals." I don't know when it started, but one year my list reached 35 items. Ever since, I've felt like I needed to match that number.

Well, every year except this one. 

Confession #1: I am a life coach and I don't have a New Year's resolution list. 

I'm sort of shocked that it's March and I still haven't gotten around to writing one. I mostly finished my 2012 recap, and I've written other entries in my journal. But in between the two are a series of blank pages just waiting for me to document my 2013 to-dos.

The funny thing is, I've been knocking chores off a giant invisible list like nobody's business. While my husband is away working on a film shoot, I've been a virtual single-gal-superwoman, painting and decorating and gardening—at our current house in Hollywood and future home in Santa Ynez. I've squeezed in a 5k at LA's Color Run and have tried a couple new restaurants and some new recipes. But none of these were officially premeditated, set-in-stone goals.

Confession #2: I think it's okay if you just have one goal—to live a really joyful life. 

I know most coaches (and most Americans!) believe that setting and accomplishing goals is the key to happiness and fulfillment. But I think when you make happiness and fulfillment (and I mean true happiness and fulfillment; the kind your deepest, most intuitive self desires) your only goal, all the other stuff falls into place. You end up making choices that support your own best interests; you end up challenging yourself; you end up pursuing your passions. You do what feels good to you. And to me, that's what truly matters this year, and this lifetime.

I'm still going to pen out my resolutions for 2013. And maybe throw some on the list that I've already tackled (like painting closet doors), just so I can cross them off. But I'll do it knowing that my ultimate objective is to have a happy, balanced, laughter-filled year.

Confession #3: If I can keep my eyes set on that prize, I think this year may turn out to be the best one yet.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Working from the Inside Out

When I had been dating my husband for a couple of years, I hit a point at which I wanted to marry him so badly I almost stopped enjoying just being with him. I remember catching myself one day and thinking, "What does marriage represent? Why do I want this so much?" The answer didn't just provide clarity—it presented me with the key to real happiness.

In order to be happy in the moment, I needed to find evidence that what I wanted already existed. 

I realized I wanted to marry him so we could be together. But we already were together. So instead of focusing on how much happier I'd be once we were engaged, I decided to try to ease up and work on being fully present when I was with him.

I wanted to find the joy within myself instead of waiting for a ring to deliver it to me.

The funny thing was, I think my change in attitude impacted our relationship for the better—and before I knew it, we got engaged.

It's easy to fall into that trap where we think happiness is determined by external circumstances. "I'll be happy when I have a boyfriend (or girlfriend!)." "I'll be content when I have a new job." "I'll be confident when I lose 10 pounds." But the truth is, it's not the externals that create the long-term feeling. In fact, the magically wonderful external circumstances we want actually begin with the feeling state inside of us.

Think about it: When you're at your worst—totally unhappy about being single or hating your job or berating yourself over your muffin top—what are you projecting into the world? Who are you in those moments? Who are people seeing when they look at you? My guess would be a sad or angry person who doesn't treat themselves very kindly. And if I'm a bachelor or bachelorette, an employer, or stranger on the street, I'm probably not going to be all that attracted to you when that's the vibe you're emitting.

By putting conditions on your happiness, you not only deprive yourself of joy in the present—you knock yourself out of alignment with what you want most in the future.

I've shared some of my experiences on this blog about how things turned out when I put my happiness first and just surrendered to my circumstances. Somehow, magically, everything fell right into place. Had I let myself stay in an "I'll only be happy when" space, I would have probably shortchanged my life on a few different levels.

What I'm trying to say with all this is: Don't let the things you haven't achieved yet prohibit you from experiencing happiness NOW. Find what feels joyful and run with it. Find evidence that what you want already exists—that you already have it, just maybe in a different form.

And as you allow the joy of that to sink in, I have a feeling you'll create an energetic opportunity for what you want to come into your life and light it up even more. Like a diamond (and maybe a white gold band)...

Sunday, February 17, 2013


I had never heard of Brené Brown before one of my fellow coaches mentioned this TED talk to me earlier in the week. Since then, Brown has come up in multiple conversations with people and was even quoted in one of Oprah's daily emails. Crazy how synchronicity works.

Hope you enjoy her message!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How Are You Showing Your Love?

With Valentine's Day looming, there's a whole lot of lovey dovey flair and terms of endearment floating around in the world right now. Of course, cupid's favorite holiday is supposed to be about the love you share with another person, but I'm more concerned with how we're all showing love to ourselves.

Can you think of 5 ways you've treated yourself lovingly lately?

Being conscious of how you're doing it is key because when you love on a less-than-conscious level (like we all sometimes do) it's far too easy to express affection through things like excessive chocolate consumption, one too many glasses of wine, or the accrual of slightly terrifying credit card balances. Desperate for that feeling of self-care, we often slip into modes that seem to be all about nice treats, but really may not feel so nice in the long run.

On the flipside, we may be doing really wonderful things for ourselves but not recognizing them in the moment—thus nixing some of the positive effects of the love. Treating yourself to a bubble bath or a run on the beach or even an early bedtime can have a much greater impact when you stop and acknowledge the action as a gift you are giving yourself.

Today after slaving away on a not-so-fun writing project for many hours, I decided I wanted to give myself a break—and show myself a little love. The first place my mind went was, "A glass of Pinot at 5:00 would be fantastic." But I quickly realized that was an old standby that wasn't necessarily the best way to show myself some adoration (not that I didn't go ahead and have a glass with dinner...but that's beside the point). Instead I chose to give myself 30 free minutes to read a magazine.

And it was glorious.

In my experience, having a go-to list of things that make you feel cared for can come in handy when you're needing love the most. 

Imagine what would happen if you wrote out a list and then made it a point to do one thing on that list every week—or even every day. My guess is you'd want to buy yourself flowers for being such a loyal lovebug.

Give it a try and let me know what happens. And Happy Valentine's to you!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Solar Power

If your mind is anything like mine, you know that trying to meditate can be a bit like trying to tame a cowlick or coerce a fly to go out your back door instead of buzzing in your kitchen. The mind wants to do its own thing even when you diligently try to steer it in another direction. Between to-do lists and fixating on the fact that you're supposed to be clearing your thoughts, and the random songs that pop into your head when you're trying to be still, meditation can make the cowlicks seem like a walk in the park.

Which is why I got so excited last week when I discovered a new trick for short, simple meditations.

I think the Universe may have been conspiring to bring me the lesson, because several of my coaching clients mentioned a common theme when walking through an exercise based on their "ideal days,"  and I remembered Elizabeth Gilbert mentioning it during the Oprah interview I recently watched, and then I wrote about it a bit on my other blog.

The feeling of the sun on your skin.

The power of this finally sunk in when I saw my cat sprawled on the living room rug, and I decided to sit next to him and let the morning light warm me.

I closed my eyes and immediately saw a vibrant flood of golds and oranges and reds behind my eyelids. It stunned me into mental silence. I could feel the heat coming through my blinds and quickly began to get a sensation like the light was filling my entire body, invigorating me with some sort of powerful energy source. I felt clear and still and blissfully comfortable. 

And then a John Mayer song started playing in my head.

I may not be a skilled, enlightened, meditation pro, but I think I'm on to something with this whole sun approach. And I'm not the only one.

Do you have any special tricks you use to find moments of calm throughout your day? And when it's available, do you find yourself drawn to the light and warmth of the sun?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Who's Got Your Goat?

Last week I was driving to the grocery store when I found myself replaying a story in my head that I've been reciting for the past two years.

People in Hollywood should be better drivers.

My blood pressure rises every time I think about it. If they would just learn to go faster or slower and not block intersections or cut people off, life in the city would be so much easier. The problem is that my getting all fired up about it does nothing to the other drivers. It doesn't make them more conscientious. It doesn't magically remove a chunk of them from the road to decrease traffic and make left turns simpler. All it does is get my seat belt in a wad...

So as I cruised down Franklin Avenue last Thursday, I caught myself in the story spin cycle and tried to turn it around. Rather than focusing on how other people should be different, I tried to identify how I could take responsibility for my frustrated state.

I should be a better driver. 

Almost immediately, I felt more relaxed. Finding my role in the situation was empowering. It meant that not everything was out of my control.

I quickly sought evidence to support my new story. I should be a better driver: I should focus on being calm when I drive. I should worry about what I am or am not doing—even if it's in response to someone else—instead of concerning myself with what other people are doing. And, I'm not a perfect driver all the time, so I really shouldn't judge others. 

When someone or something has got your goat, the one who suffers most is you. And one of the best ways to end the suffering is to turn it around and identify your part in the equation. Would things be different if you spoke up to the person and expressed your feelings? Would it help diminish the resentment? Could it be that they were somehow tapping a sore spot in you that really didn't have anything to do with them? Or maybe it was a matter of you taking a particular action—interacting in the same way you always did—and expecting a different end result?

If the well is dry, there comes a point when you just have to move on and look for water elsewhere. 

I'm going to remind myself of this as soon as I get into my car again during Hollywood rush-hour traffic. For me to expect it to be anything different than it has proven to be during the last two years is just silly. All I can do is turn it around and look for ways I can be better in the situation. I can release my goat, remember to breathe, and hope I stumble upon a good Bee Gees song on the radio. And I know beyond a doubt, that will make the ride much more enjoyable.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Why Rejection Is a Blessing in Disguise

 Rejected AND naked. Oh, the humanity.

Putting yourself out there is always scary—whether it's for a job or a relationship or an artistic endeavor. It's never easy knowing your "fate" is in someone else's hands.

As someone who has been dumped and turned down for jobs more than once, I know the feeling of rejection quite well. And although many of those situations left me heartbroken and forlorn, I've actually come to embrace rejection.

Rejection is one of the greatest warning signs that the other party involved isn't the right fit for you. 

My college boyfriend must have broken up with me (or threatened to do so) at least a half dozen times when we were in our early twenties. Back then, it felt like there was something wrong with me, but the reality was that we just weren't well suited for each other. And that's totally okay.

I have lots of friends who are dating right now, and if there were one bit of magic fairydust thinking I could sprinkle on their brains, it would be to make peace with rejection. 

If someone rejects you, something is wrong. It's either the wrong person or situation, the wrong time, or maybe it's a signal that you're doing yourself wrong in some way.

Sometimes it's all of the above.

Think about it: Would you really want to be in a relationship with someone whose feelings for you were just lukewarm? Would you really want to work for an employer who wasn't excited to have you? Would you really want to trust someone with a heartfelt creation, only to have them change it or throw it away? 

If you're nodding your head yes, I challenge you to reject your own thinking. Don't give yourself over to someone or something that doesn't recognize your value. You deserve the happiness that comes with finding the right fit. And it's worth weeding through some bad matches and withstanding some cold shoulders to get there. 

In the end, it's worth waiting for the one who is "all in." So don't give up.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Scrapping Our Best-Laid Plans

Hendry's Beach, Santa Barbara CA - January 1, 2013

Like so many other people in the world, January sparks a yearning inside me to make plans.

I can't remember how many years I've been doing it now, but somewhere around the holidays, I sit down and create a big to-do list for the coming 365 days—just so I'm clear on all I intend to get done.  

The funny thing is, the plans always change. 

This week I was looking over last year's list—and my big plans to finish writing the novel I started and visit certain restaurants and save a chunk of money in 2012. It would be very easy for me to feel like a failure for not crossing those things off my list. But I know that in their place, some even more miraculous things occurred.

In fact, nothing really turned out like I thought it would at the onset of 2012. But as I enter 2013, I have a new house, new friends, and exciting new endeavors in my life that are probably more delightful and exciting than finishing that book or visiting that one restaurant would have ever been.

I was reminded on New Year's Day of how wonderful it can be when your plans fall apart. My husband and I were on our way to a beach in Santa Barbara with another couple when their car died. Neither of us had jumper cables, so we had to find an auto supply shop and drive in the opposite direction of the beach to go buy them. Needless to say, it wasn't how we had envisioned the day playing out.

But when we finally made our way to the coast, we were met with one of the most incredible sunsets I've ever seen. Had we gotten there earlier, we might not have stayed long enough to see it.

When leave wiggle room in our plans and surrender to the Universe's unexpected changes, we often get results that are much more spectacular than they ever would have been under our sole control.

I have to say, it was the perfect way to start out a new year.  

But I'm still going to sit down and make my list for 2013. Just so I have something to compare the wonderful twists and turns to in December. 

What unanticipated shifts in plans have left you pleasantly surprised lately?