The Pebble in your Shoe is Having a Rock Party

“Want to go to a Rock Party?” was my Dad’s joke every spring. Being a farmer, as soon as the fields were dry enough to plow and plant, meant he spent long days outdoors preparing the fields. Over the winter, the freezing and thawing of the soil would push the rocks to the surface, and they would need to be cleared to create ideal growing conditions. The naïve would answer ‘yes’ to Dad’s question and end up following a tractor and wagon all day, throwing rocks onto the wagon. If you were smart, you jumped into the driver’s seat first.

Recently, in a blog post, I shared a story about two of my heroes, the artists Christo and his wife Jean- Claude. When Christo turned 80 he said, “I’m 80. I want to do something really hard.” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve looked to my elders to show me the way. That post was all about challenging mountains to climb, and the small and large courageous acts it takes to scale them. But what if you’re having difficulty scaling the mountain?

Muhammad Ali was so clever with language that he inspired fans and non-fans alike. He said, “It isn’t the mountain ahead to climb that wears you out: it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

Sometimes your particular ‘mountain’ and the problematic ‘pebble’ are not so obvious.

Here are six “shapes’ that pebble could take:

  1. Your mindset — Your underlying belief system is in conflict with your desires. Examples: “If I succeed my world will change dramatically” “I can’t have financial abundance AND healthy strong relationships” “I’ll lose control of my life if I take on a leadership role.”
  2. You have conflicting values.  “Professional ambition and kindness can’t co-exist” “Marketing myself feels like selling out” ” The needs of my family and personal achievement is a competition”
  3. You have conflicting ambitions. Are too many choices muddying the waters? Causing confusion — so you end up doing nothing?
  4. You are not all in. (Caused by: see above) To follow through on goals, you have to be 100% on board with your new goal. 70/30 will not cut it.
  5. You have a limiting narrative. “I have to take care of my family first — and their needs are never ending.” “I can’t ask for that much money, they will never pay it.” “I can’t say no, I can’t handle the consequences.”
  6. You are experiencing overwhelm. Too many things on your to do list? No clear plan on doing any of them?

By eliminating these ‘stones’ you clear the path to achievement. Want to go to a Rock Party?

What Are Your Results Telling You?

Connie said she wanted to explore new career options. She had long felt undervalued at work, unchallenged. She felt as though she was treading water. She said her boss was unwilling to help her reach her potential. But she was paid well, and couldn’t risk rocking the boat, so hadn’t budged on exploring further. Yet, this was what weighed on her mind when she woke up in the middle of the night.

Cole was a devoted family man, he would tell you every chance he got. Yet his behavior showed a man who put in long hours at work, and had little time to be the man he said he wanted to be. man-aloneHe believed this was what his career demanded of him. The years were ticking by with no shift in the balance while he longed for his life to change.

Shelly knew she was talented. She had an unsatisfied appetite for learning. She wondered what might have happened if she had continued her education, and felt bitterness about the obstacles that had kept her from reaching her true potential. If only things had been different.

All you need to do is look at the results to see what they are committed to.

It may surprise you to know that Connie, Cole and Shelly are committed to staying in their cycle of stuck. The sad thing is, they are unaware of this. If they understood what really is holding them back, they would be empowered to instigate change. But all three of them thought it was outside forces that kept them stuck. The real reason? The beliefs they held on to.

Are you stuck in a job you have been complaining about? In a relationship that isn’t satisfying? Are you still in debt despite having taken on another job to put money in the bank? Guess what. You have something deeper going on, more than what you think. There is a complex disconnect between what you say, and what you do. To understand and change this disconnect, first you have to uncover your unconscious mindset, revealing the ‘why’ behind your behavior. When you do this, you can let go of what is holding you back, and begin doing what you say you want to do.

Mindset and unconscious beliefs are powerful forces. When Connie, Cole and Shelly dig a little deeper, they can begin to peel back the layers and reveal the real purpose behind their behavior. Understanding that will give them the tools to make empowered choices. This awareness will free them to lead happier,  fulfilled lives. That’s what I want for them,

and for YOU.

Sending Love,

Deborah 

She rolled down the window, and let it go…

The Tyranny of the Couch

Carolyn was driving along a quiet stretch of highway, daydreaming, when an intriguing idea formed in her consciousness. The idea was exciting. Tempting at first. But then made her anxious. Nope. She opened her window and let it go.

After returning home she quickly was knee deep in work. Some weeks later, coming home from work late one night, the idea popped up again, and held her attention. She pushed it away. It didn’t seem do-able. And, if she followed through, it would definitely mess with her orderly life. For what? Following her idea into territory with no guarantees. She couldn’t have it. She pushed it away again.

(I’ve talked to lots of ‘Carolyn’s’ with this dilemma. Good people. With great ideas — but following closely behind are the questions, the doubt, the possible impact and upheaval. Work, time and energy.)

The couch is so cozy, I think I’ll stay right here, thank you very much. THE idea — to end something– leave an uninspiring job or dying relationship. Or fresh beginnings– a new adventure, a new career, look for a new romance, take a year off to pursue a dream … the variables are endless. The common denominator, something new is calling you.

How do you know when to listen?

1. It’s an idea that resonates. Does your heart expand when you think about it? Do you feel a sense of relief? Check in closely with how you feel.

2. The idea is persistent. It keeps appearing in one way or another.

3. It is precisely the thing that might shake up ‘your orderly life’. It makes you a bit anxious, somewhat afraid, leads you to doubt yourself. All of this is necessary TO GET YOUR ATTENTION.

Carolyn was not a lazy person (she worried that she was). What was going on for her was an internal narrative that didn’t align with who she really was. She was in conflict with herself, and not completely aware of it. Will she be lured to the comfort of the couch and stay put? Or will she do the work necessary to create a bigger, better version of her life story.

Come on adventurers, put your boots on and let’s go!

How do you cope?

Life can certainly confound you. Whether it is the nightly news, cantankerous relatives or incompetent bosses, you feel your blood pressure rise with each episode. Could you use some simple tools to use when you’re feeling stressed, discouraged or angry about something you have no power to change?

Try the 1-2-3 method using R-R-C. Remember these 3 steps to shift ‘consciousness’ — to move your mind through mental quicksand toward empowered uplifting thoughts. Getting stuck in the anger and stress is not productive. Paying attention to stress, discouragement or anger responses is important information to prompt you toward action. Here are three steps. R.R.C. Easy because you already have this.

  1. Reframe. Pause and ask yourself, “What am I grateful for?” “What is good about this?” There is something to be grateful for in every moment, in every situation. There are things to learn within every challenge.Buddhist’s call it ‘Beginner’s mind.’   “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
  2. Revive. Remember past success, past happiness. Feel what that was like, and transfer that feeling to this moment.
  3. Compose. What is the version of your best self in this situation? Who do you want to be right now? Then re-calibrate into the best you.  Consummate professional. Loving individual. Empathic co-inhabitant of planet earth. Courageous human. You’ve got this.

He Stared at the List. Then, an Awakening

Action: Energy + Momentum = Results

I was meeting with a client last Wednesday who is working on a change in career direction. This guy (I’ll call him Kyle) is very goals driven. As we have worked together, Kyle has researched, interviewed authorities, and collected data. He keeps a notebook of ideas with goals attached and a calendar with deadlines in the notebook. He looks at the notebook everyday. He had gotten to the stage of exploring 3 distinct career paths, and couldn’t decide. Which path should he explore?

Which path should he take?

I saw his notebook as a very ‘brain centric’ tool. Kyle definitely had that part covered. My work as a coach is to coach the whole person, head and heart. It was time to check in with Kyle’s heart. Which career direction did he feel the most passion and interest for? As we explored this conversation for a while, he realized that he was most excited for one path! (I saw his eyes light up). We found out that he had resisted that choice because:

1. It was the scariest. The learning curve was longer and the outcome unknown. The other two options would have been easy. Kyle already knew how to do them. And bingo, that was the reason they were on the list!

2. Secondly, he was waiting for ‘other people’ to give him permission to proceed. After contacting a training and certification organization, he had received little direction, and that had not been helpful. Prompting Kyle to hang out in limbo and WAIT.

As a coach, I know any action will yield energy, momentum and a result. I encouraged him to get right into action. He had the power within himself to begin. He didn’t need to wait. He decided to jump in.

Kyle called me later to say he was excited AND nervous. Perfect!


P.S. Like what I do? One of the biggest compliments you can give is to share my work with friends! Feel free to forward articles and links to your people; I promise to take good care of them. Thank you for supporting me in any way that feels good.

Are You Holding Back?

You’re successful. You’ve worked hard, been rewarded for your hard work, met challenges and sought out greater opportunities. And then, some new ‘thing’ just rises up and stumps you.

Sunshine was spilling through the window, but Sarah ‘s mood was perplexed. She was an ambitious professional. Hardworking. With many successes to testify to this hard work. But today, her normally positive attitude was hard to sustain.  She had set some new goals for herself, but just couldn’t get excited about them.

As we talked about her new plans, it became clear that she was holding something back. A part of her wasn’t ‘all in’ and she didn’t know why.

After some deeper conversations, where I probed and asked lots of questions, Sarah began to realize that there was some icky unfinished business related to what she was trying to do. As we talked, she began to understand that emotions around events in the past (which she thought were in the past) were interfering with her passion to fully embrace what she was trying to do in the present. 

Together, we developed some homework assignments, aimed at examining fully what was going on. Greater understanding leads to empowered action. Released from the entangled morass of undealt with emotions, she felt renewed energy. And in our next coaching session, Sarah saw a way to make something positive from it, to clear away the unfinished business. Funny how this happens, but she felt excited about what she wanted to do right now.

If you feel like you’re holding back, ask yourself, “What is interfering with my enthusiasm for what I want?” It’s a great question to get you started.


 

Opportunity Knocked. She Wanted to Run In the Opposite Direction

Daria was stuck in a big decision. She was waffling about a job offer she’d gotten in Seattle. Her initial reaction 2 days ago had been one of excitement. The job was a good match, for a company on her A list. And Seattle? She loved the city! But something had happened in the two days since she had been offered the job. A mental paralysis had settled in. And she was now swimming in a funk of indecision. With a yes or no deadline looming, she called me and we met over coffee to discuss what had happened.

How do you go from over the moon excitement to the basement of doom in two days? Worry. Daria started to list all the ways this was going to be hard. She would have to find a place to live. She would have to learn a new job. She would have to build new friendships. Learn a new city. Start all over. This was freaking her out, and the anticipatory worry had overwhelmed her.

“Daria, all of these things are true. It will be hard. Moving to the other side of the country won’t be easy. But one thing I know about you is you learn quickly, are resourceful, and have great energy. Do you think all of these worries will still be true in six months?” Daria looked at me, and slowly shook her head, no. “Will you have learned the city by then?” “Well, yes.” “Will you have learned your new job?” “I’ll be on the way.” With each question, I could see her mood shift. Lighten.

Daria had gotten stuck in the space where she realized the magnitude of the undertaking. Where things were going to be hard work. But she had not moved through the process. She had forgotten to stay connected to her dream,and to her strengths. It’s like staring at your feet when you’re trying to stand tall and walk, it’s impossible to do. You have to lift your eyes and look at the distant horizon. Where will you be in six months if you say yes to a new opportunity? If I know you, you’re not afraid of the hard work of growing into your potential.

“It Was Like I Was Wearing a Mask.”

“I’m a very positive person, but this whole concept of having to always be nice, always smiling, always happy, that’s not real. It was like I was wearing a mask. I was becoming this perfectly chiselled sculpture, and that was bad. That took a long time to understand.” — Alicia Keys

Caroline was a young talented woman. She loved her job, had huge responsibilities at work and was paid well. The work energized her, and she constantly pushed herself to learn more, do more. To take classes, trainings and certifications to rise in her profession. That area of her life was right on track. The thing that kept her awake at night was her personal life. She was in a serious long term relationship. She was having second thoughts, a vague uneasiness. Her doubts about the relationship caused her to doubt herself. “What was her problem!”, she kept asking herself.  Her hesitation had now turned into sleepless nights and gnawing anxiety.

Mark was a bright guy in his 50’s. He had made a lot of money working long hours as a tech designer. His passion was for photography (his zest for tech work had long ago disappeared). He said he wanted to figure out a way to sell his photography, to see if he could turn his hobby into a career. He had been saying this now for two years, and had done nothing about it. He was at a loss as to why he couldn’t move ahead.

Just retired, Lauren had been preparing herself for a smooth transition to doing what she loved. All plans were in place to rent space in a commercial kitchen and bake her famous cupcakes to sell at the Farmers Market. This was to be Lauren’s second act, one she was excited about. Just as she was checking out commercial kitchens to rent, her parents moved back from living for many years in a vacation/retirement village in South Carolina. Now they demanded Lauren’s time, and played on her sympathies as a daughter to get her to care for them. She felt torn, resentful and guilty. All of these emotions morphed into extreme sadness about the loss of her dream. Family trumps self, right?

Carole, Mark and Lauren couldn’t trust their own instincts. They were letting the ’noise’ of what they thought they ‘should do’ get in the way of  what they wanted to do. Staying stuck in limbo was making each of them miserable. These three thought there was something wrong with them, and they felt overwhelmed by what, exactly could they do about it?

I’m happy to say, they did not stay stuck in anxiety, overwhelm and sadness. We worked together in a strategic way, and began to create a road map so they all could thrive.

First we systematically uncovered the truth about what was holding them in a painful place. Then, they brought what they desired into focus. They gave themselves permission to say yes to having what they wanted.

Second, we moved all the faulty thinking out of the way, and created a new, more powerful and honest, way of thinking.

Third we made a step by step plan to move through challenges toward their ideal future.

I’m thrilled to say, they all did this courageous work. You can too. Caroline, Mark and Lauren learned to trust their instincts. Let go of the mask of inauthenticity. Become your brilliant self.

Let’s work together. Begin here……..

Go for Intense and Brilliant Without Cracking

“As soon as I cross the bridge I can relax.” The bridge my Mom was talking about was the Mackinac Bridge, linking the lower peninsula with the lush wilderness of the upper peninsula  of Michigan. Forested, quiet and surrounded by the gorgeously vast Great Lakes.

My sweetheart and I went on a trip to the UP to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We love it there too. I’m grateful to our parents for sharing their love of this beautiful place. Crossing the bridge is an invitation to respond to the beauty, to fall into quiet and just look. Absorb.

Mackinac Bridge at night

We chose to get married in autumn because it is a season of abundance and meaning, different from the generosity of summer. Autumn is  reflective. The colors are intense and brilliant. The shadows are deep. The season is short  — on the verge and ripe.

Our first sighting of the bridge on our camping trips north as kids were cause for excitement. We competed to see it first. This weekend, traveling around the bend then up the hill, we saw it in the distance. We both exclaimed ‘there it is!’ Seeing that impressive structure was the cue to step across the threshold and relax.

“Be intense and brilliant without cracking.”

Finding time to relax is so important. You know this already. You know you can’t work full out for days on end without something cracking. Putting in long days and filling
Finding time to relax is so important. You know this already. You know you can’t work full out for days on end without something cracking. Putting in long days and filling up too short evenings with more work. On those days, do you then find it’s hard to get any good sleep? Do you feel edgy and out of sorts? Vacation is months away. RELAX needs to happen on a daily basis. One of my daily intentions is ’stillness nurtures peace.’ Planting opportunities for stillness and quiet in my calendar every day is important to me. How do you get “RELAX” into your daily schedule? If you’re hungry for help with this, read on for an extended conversation.


 

TIPS TO GET TO THE AAAHHH ZONE

 

Do you eat your lunch at your desk? Taking a lunch break away from your desk serves a larger purpose than just getting fuel into your body; it is a vital pause. Art Markman, PhD, author and Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas explains: “When you walk away from a problem and think about something else, your memory resets. The ideas that dominated your thinking recede from your thoughts. The memories that were inhibited before, gradually become more accessible. If your thoughts return to the problem after a pause, those other memories now have a chance to influence your thinking.”

 

Feeling overwhelmed or lacking creative fuel? A 2014 Stanford study says you could walk it out: changing the scenery can change your perspective, pump oxygen into you brain and muscles and give you a power boost. It’s the mini version of a vacation. A 10 minute walk can revive your spirits. If you can’t get outside, take a walk through the hallway, up the stairs, just move your body through any space available. There are lots of yoga poses that can be done from a sitting position, if that’s all you have.

 

Resting in the evening is a vitally important physical and mental resource that frequently gets shortchanged. Ariana Huffington has been making it one of her missions to change American attitudes about this for several years.

“I love the idea of rekindling the romance with sleep.” – Ariana Huffington

 

I agree. There is nothing smart about exhaustion. A commitment to rest and an evening routine are important.  Make it a priority to relax and restore yourself with enough sleep every evening. Set a bedtime for yourself (so you get 8+ hours of sleep), Turn off all digital devices to limit the barrage of information overload, and leave them out of the room (parents of teens can adapt this tip).  A hot bath or shower will wash away the workday ‘dynamic’ before you put on your jammies. Watching a screen to fall asleep is a no no. Read instead.

 

The cue is the cue. Seeing the bridge was our cue to relax. Leaving your desk for lunch is the cue for your brain to open the aperture wide. Moving your body, and breathing deeply is your body cue to disconnect from static and engage with the kinetic. Shutting down your smartphone and laptop is your cue to rest and restore in the evening away from digitized overstimulation. You will develop your own rituals of relaxation to cue your brain that something special is coming  –  to retreat into the ahhh zone.

Princess Knocked Me Out

I had so much to learn……..

A summer spent bagging groceries at McNeilly’s Market earned my half of a Welsh Pony/Quarter horse mix named Princess. She was beautiful and a dream come true for me the summer I turned twelve. She had just arrived, and was grazing in a small corral when I decided I would grab an apple and give her a special treat. I climbed over the fence and ran toward her, coming from behind. Wrong move. I got soundly kicked, and lay flattened, unable to breathe, the wind knocked out of me.

It was a long time before I had the courage to go near that horse. I now understood Princess was an animal to be feared.

Personal upheaval can feel like that. One of my clients is going through a contentious divorce, and another works for a large company that is being acquired by another large company. The similarities here are that both clients feel a loss of control about a future that is constantly changing and unknowable. How do you navigate these choppy waters? How do you cross the field without getting trampled by the bull?

Develop your strengths and understand yourself within the situation. By working on these two things, major change feels less like upheaval and more like evolution

 

At twelve, I had so much to learn. About horses, and everything else. The beginning of my 4b807df6-7b93-4682-a81c-98860d91aaeaunderstanding came when my Dad noticed I hadn’t taken our horse out for a ride yet. “You’ve got to ride her Deb. I know you’re afraid. By now you’ve learned never to come up to a horse from behind. You were right though, let her get to know you by bringing her treats. Then saddle her up and take her out, no excuses. Or else you’ll always be afraid. And you don’t want that.” Know your strengths, understand yourself and the situation. I pulled on my big girl boots, found my courage, and went for the ride of my life.

“Deborah challenges me

to identify barriers and confront obstacles so I am more productive and aligned with my deepest goals. Her insights along my journey are invaluable.”

Rosemary Collins, Business Owner

“Deborah is an energetic, engaging and skillful listener.

“Deborah is an energetic, engaging and skillful listener who is always fully present when we meet. She challenges me to confront obstacles and identify barriers in my practice so that I am more productive and aligned with my deepest goals. Her insights along my journey are invaluable.” ”

Amy | Project Manager at the University of Michigan and Professional Artist

“Deborah listens carefully to my short-term and long-term goals

and sets a course of strategy including time-tables to carry out my plans and keep it within a structure and focus.”

Nancy Wolfe | Educator, Professional Artist

“She challenges me to recognize my worth

I love Debbie! She is kind, insightful and honest. She challenges me to recognize my worth, identify obstacles and pursue my goals. She treats me as if I am already the person I hope to be. She is a rare find and a joy!”

Heather Suffron, Business Owner and aspiring ESL Specialist