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When Gift-Giving Becomes ‘Shackles-On,’ Use ‘The 3 Bs’

Boiling jalapenos, tomatoes and serrano chiles

The past few months, I have been on a making food from scratch kick. Cooking has always brought me joy, and this year I started a basil, rosemary, Serrano and jalapeño garden to feed that hobby. I learned how to make my own salsa, pickled jalapeños, and pesto sauce. Then my husband bought me one of those pasta-maker extensions for my mixer, and I ecstatically made us egg-noodle rigatoni.

So, for Christmas I thought I’d be Suzie-homemaker and make everyone on my shopping list gourmet food baskets with all sorts of fun homemade goodies. I ordered jars of all shapes and sizes along with labels from Amazon. I bought festive gift baskets, red and green crinkle filler paper, and cellophane from Hobby Lobby. Then we made a Costco run for ingredients in bulk. I was ready…or so I thought.

Producing food in bulk is more difficult than I realized. Aside from running out of certain ingredients (on more than a few occasions) when I realized my recipes only filled a jar or two at a time. (I needed 10 jars-worth per food item.) Plus, my mixing bowls, food processor, pots/pans and pasta maker only fit so much at a time. I found myself making slower progress and repeating prep and cleaning work five times over for each item.

What started out as a shackles-off* experience quickly turned into a shackles-on* experience. But I was committed, so I was going to power through. This caused me stress — and as a result, most likely caused my husband some stress as well. “Honey, can you pick up more walnuts on your way home from work?”

I rank high on the Kolbe A Index as a Follow Through, and my top ‘strength’ in Strength Finder 2.0 is Responsibility. In a nutshell, I always follow through on my responsibilities and I take having responsibility and commitments very seriously.

Like all things, moderation is key. Setting boundaries are as well.

As I lamented to my husband last night that my throughput for pasta was two-jars per day, his response was quite logical, “Do all ten people need pasta?”

“I can’t give some people pasta and not others,” I rebutted. “That wouldn’t be fair.” (Had I not been in my own blind spot, I would have asked myself – “Is that true?” In hindsight, I can see that I was telling myself a lie.)

When I sat down with my coaching partner this morning, we started as we always do with the area of least satisfaction. I shared that I was stressed about these gift baskets taking more bandwidth than I anticipated.

After using the tools, I realized that I really don’t have to give everyone a giant gift basket full of 10 different homemade food items. (This may be obvious to you, but reaching the insight yourself versus being told are vastly different.) The moment it went from a shackles off experience to a shackles on one, and yet I still persisted against my body compass, I had work to do on my limiting beliefs.

So – using Martha Beck’s 3 Bs*: Bag It, Barter It, Better It…

I looked at each recipient and item on my list remaining to be made and asked, “Does this person even want ____?” or “Does this person even cook for themselves?” If the response was no, I bagged that item from their basket. (On the extreme end of the spectrum, I could bag the idea altogether and just buy them something off their Amazon wish list and be done with it. I have the receipts for the gift baskets and unopened supplies making that option quite simple. Yet I was so close to finished, that I decided simply removing items for certain people felt easiest.)

Then I asked myself if there were items I could barter. In loose terms, instead of making it, can I buy it from the grocery store? Yes, every single item I could buy already made should I choose to.

Lastly, is there a way to better this whole thing? Certainly! I could just stop right here and give what is already made. I could wait to do it when my husband got home from work and have extra hands. I could turn it into a cooking party and invite friends to make it all with me. I could blast some holiday music, open one of my favorite bottles of wine and sing and dance my way through a few more jars.

The end result is that I am doing a combination of the above. Bagging certain items for some people, buying some things in the store for others to make it more customized to their tastes and compliment what I had made, and including my husband in making the last few jars of pasta to make it more enjoyable.

If you’re finding gift-buying to be stressful, ask yourself if you have overcommitted. Like the quote from Paolo Coehlo, “When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.”

If you are, then find where “the 3 Bs” can help you bag it, barter it or better it. And remember self-care in the process. Christmas isn’t any fun if you’re too exhausted to appreciate and enjoy it.

“Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s a gift to all concerned. You can’t serve from an empty vessel.” ~ Eleanor Brown

*“Shackles On” and “The 3 Bs” are Martha Beck terms. Copyright, Martha Beck,

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The Energy of Money

Find Your Serenity with Life Coaching

I was recently watching a video of Martha Beck talking about the energy of money. When someone is vibrating at the same frequency with it, it flows freely…when someone’s energy is tense and tight about it, they miss each other.

“Money issues exist independently – they don’t track to our pocket books or bank accounts; they track to our belief system,” said Martha Beck. “The irony is that we tell ourselves that it’s realistic thinking. That we need more to feel good.”

It is the Western cultural belief system that the presence of physical money will somehow make us feel more stable or secure. It’s the fish-bowl effect. If you put a goldfish in a small fishbowl, the fish will stay small. If you transfer the fish to a giant aquarium, the goldfish will grow huge and take up the space. Having “more” simply makes us want for “more.” But how much is “enough?” The goal line continues to move further and further away if the belief system that supports it is based on believing that money will create the feelings of safety and security.

Instead, if we focus on tapping into the feeling states of safety and security – we create an open flow of abundance toward us in many forms.

If your limiting beliefs about money (ex: “I don’t have enough!” “What if I lose it all?” “Why am I hemorrhaging money?”) result in feelings of anxiety, stress, and hopelessness, then of course money won’t be attracted to you. It’s a push energy instead of a pull energy.

The reason socially-determined “rich people” stay “rich” is because that’s normal and expected. If you’ve always had money, why would you not continue to have it? Finances are not a point of stress and therefore it flows to and from affluent individuals as a tool.

Martha offered an interesting perspective that I’ve since pondered and explored. She explained, fairly simply, that money is merely a symbol of value. I value certain consumables and products, therefore I give you a symbol of value in exchange for it, and you then give that to someone else for your own consumables and products.

None of us can eat money. You don’t build a roof of dollar bills and coins to protect you from the elements. I’m not sitting on a mound of cash to be comfortable while I’m writing this. Hence the term “exchange rate.”

Money is neither evil nor good. It is simply neutral. If we use it for evil, or we use it for good, money itself remains merely a tool. It’s the same as a knife. Whether I use a knife to cut meat to eat or to stab someone, the knife itself carries no morality. We give it its value and usefulness. When money is exchanged, it’s all done on computers and in databases tabulating numbers…nothing tangible is actually moved between banks or financial institutions. Even inflation is a concept of a change in value. It’s all perception of worth and completely relative.

When viewed this way, we can then set the foundation for what we consider as wealth. What do we have in abundance that we value?

I couldn’t help but chuckle when Martha offered that she has an abundance of gravity that thankfully keeps her firmly planted on Earth so that she doesn’t float away. (Touché.) She added there is an abundance of oxygen that we can breath freely. Once she started this thought train, I began to think of all the things I have in abundance that I am grateful for. I encourage you to add your own as well:

I have in abundance:

  1. Carbon-Dioxide – I create this gas without any effort at all. I make it in my sleep, and just going about my day. I’ve made it since the day I was born before I was able to do anything else and will continue to create carbon dioxide until I die.
  2. Love from my dog – Pets are the most loving, and lovable, creatures on the planet. If I wanted to snuggle and play with my dog all day, he’d be ecstatic. There is no end to his affection.
  3. Sun – Living in Southern California, it’s pretty much sunny every day. There is so much sun, freely given, that I can simply walk outside and soak it up for as long as the day is long. And even after it goes down, I can still soak in its reflection off the moon. Aside from the warmth and pleasure the sunshine provides, it also gives me plenty of Vitamin D.
  4. Plants – In my community, there is no shortage of grass, trees, shrubbery, flowers and vines. Even Bird of Paradise plants grow like weeds. (My friend, Deb, in Texas shared that florists charge $10 per flower. So I sent her a picture of an overgrown bush of Bird of Paradise I walk by every day that was “worth” at least $500.) Not only are they comforting to admire and walk past, each one is converting my carbon dioxide and providing oxygen for me to breathe.
  5. Natural light in my home – Due to the open and split-level floor plan, I have an abundance of large windows from floor to vaulted ceiling that provide lots of natural light. This provides a peaceful setting to work from home.
  6. Sand, waves and seashells at the beach – Living a mere half mile from the ocean, not only do I have unlimited access to a public beach, there is an abundance of soft sand for my toes to play in and waves that continue to crash against the shore with no end. In addition, every time I go, I come home with bags full of seashells. (More than I have room for at home.) Nature just keeps providing sand, waves and seashells.
  7. Blood – My body is constantly manufacturing blood. I can donate my blood and still have enough to live and function. My body creates more and I can donate again in a few months. Blood carries oxygen and processed food to all parts of my body without my having to “do” anything.
  8. Dreams – Every time I sleep, I dream. I may not remember them all, but I have an abundance of dreams. Even the dreams I remember are so plentiful that I can’t keep up with analysis of them all. My subconscious is creating astoundingly insightful and symbolic dreams as a way of processing the millions of data points my nervous system is ingesting each second of the waking day.
  9. Body Processing Power – My nervous system (specifically my sensory nervous system made up of: eyes, skin, tongue, nose, ears) is innately processing 11-million bits of information per second. This information is so abundant that my cognitive mind can’t equally pace at 40-bits per second.
  10. Creativity – Whether I consider just my own or the combination of creative power across every human on the planet, we have the capacity to be extremely creative and innovative. Artists are consistently churning out completely original pieces and ideating even more. Every day, people are innovating products that improve lives and ways of doing things. Art and innovation is, and always will be, creating new and different objects of value.

Now that I’m on a roll, more areas flow to mind like clouds that provide shade and beautiful sunsets, dirt for growth of food, concrete streets for smooth transportation, dew that appears everywhere each morning and gives plants moisture…the list of abundance goes on…and on…and on.

When I tally all this up, plus more that will come to mind as the days and weeks progress, I am infinitely rich. And so are you. We all are. It’s merely a matter of perspective. Live a life in abundance and prosperity will continue to flow to you in a variety of forms.

I invite you to add your own areas of abundance in the comments below!

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A Note of Gratitude for my Clients

Cubs Playing with Stick

Thanks to my amazing clients, who have so graciously been open to playing with me and the tools, today marks 75 hours of coaching. With three and a half months remaining in training, I’ve completed the first requirement for Martha Beck Life Coach certification. This feels light and airy like I could dance on the clouds.

The past six months have been an emotional journey for all involved. The tools I’ve learned and practiced with my classmates have given me freedom from many of my own limiting beliefs. Hearing the inner wisdom from my higher self rise up out of me is nothing short of beautiful, gentle and loving. Listening as my clients experience that same deep knowledge flow through them, and as insights surface, is one of the most wonderful feelings.

I am so grateful to be a witness to that release and relief. It affirms and solidifies my decision to pursue this vocation. This is one of many ways I am meant to serve and offer my unique gifts to whoever is open to receiving them.

While there is still so much to learn and so many years of this art to craft and refine, I’m thankful that so many friends and family members (and family members of friends) were willing to join me on this journey. I’m excited to see what the coming months bring in the way of new challenges, insights, clients and tools to add to my toolbox. Beyond that, I believe that whatever happens is as it is intended. For now, I’m going to revel in the moment of this accomplishment and send heartfelt thanks out to my clients for their help in getting here.


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Living Life Backward: A Reflection

African STAR Retreat

My life’s timeline of milestone events and people have all played a part in shaping who I am right now. My values and guiding principles have been molded by each interaction and action that have compounded to create me in all my uniqueness.

As I contemplate and look at this timeline, the quote that stands out to me is that from Eragon, a movie I’ve never seen but will make a point to watch:

“You are stronger than you realize and wiser than you know.” I’ve seen that on memes and postcards and mugs throughout the years. What I didn’t realize, until I looked it up for attribution, was that it continues on with a phrase even more poignant: “What was once your life is now your legend.”

What legend would I leave behind me if I were to die today? What do I believe in the deepest parts of my essence?

I believe that loss causes you to love deeper and appreciate more the people who remain in, and those who enter, your life. I didn’t reach the depth of my capacity to love, and be loved, until I experienced great loss.

When I was twenty years old (merely a few weeks after my twentieth birthday actually), I was studying for finals in my junior year of college. Sitting in my bedroom, my cell phone rang and I saw it was my mother calling. I sent her to voicemail. She called back another two times and I rejected those too. Then she called the landline of our apartment and my roommate, Cindy, picked up.

“It’s your mom,” she said. “She wants to talk to you.”

“I don’t want to talk to her right now,” I replied. “I have to study. I just can’t deal with that right now.”

“Just talk to her,” urged Cindy.

In a huff, I picked up, “What do you want?”

“Can we talk about why you’re mad at me,” she said in a warbled, intoxicated voice that I had been accustomed to translating.

For the past two years, she had been on a variety of anti-depressants that her doctors continued to increase her prescriptions for. She was not the mother I grew up with. She was a stranger who couldn’t complete sentences and lost her trains of thought. She slurred her words and stuttered. She was a shell of a body without the spirit I had loved.

When I had been home at Thanksgiving we had argued about my flight home for Christmas. As a college student paying my own tuition and working four part-time jobs, I subsisted on a tight budget. My mother, in the process of a divorce and having been a housewife her entire adult life with an AA college education, had all her assets frozen. She was working as a waitress to also make ends meet.

A flight into LAX was $100 cheaper than a flight into SNA (Orange County). She refused to pick me up in LA because she despised traffic and didn’t want to spend the money on gas. I didn’t want to pay the difference in cost to fly into a closer airport.

“So you’d rather me not come home at all for Christmas, than pick me up at LAX?” I yelled.

“I’m not driving to LA to get you. End of story,” she said.

In hindsight, I was also angry at my mom for turning into this whole different person that was so needy and reliant on me, the child.

When she dropped me back off at the airport at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, I stubbornly refused to hug her goodbye and left without a word. Over the next couple of weeks, I ignored her phone calls. Until December 5 at 8:30 a.m. when she rang the house.

“I don’t understand what I’ve done to make you so mad at me,” my mom managed to stutter through in what felt like two minutes to get out.

“I don’t have time to talk about it right now,” I said. “I have finals in two days and I have to work all day tomorrow, so this is the only time I have to get it done. We’ll talk later.”

“Just know that I love you,” my mom said.

I hung up angry and frustrated without any response. I tried to focus back on my school books in front of me and pushed her out of my mind.

The next day at work, as a receptionist at the school, my two aunts walked in the doors. I was surprised to see them and had assumed they wanted to grab lunch. (They both lived near the college campus.)

With shaking voices my aunt Terry asked, “Is there somewhere private we can go to talk?”

Without waiting for my response and without asking permission, she walked over to my boss’s office and said, “Do you mind giving us a minute?”

I stood up and as I walked down the stairs into my boss’s office, my aunt Kathy said, “I have some bad news…”

Without their completing the sentence, I knew. My legs gave out beneath me and my whole chest felt like it was being pulled down by an anchor. I yelled out the loudest, most guttural animalistic cry of “Nooooooooooooooo” from my very core. My aunts tried to brace me from falling down the stairs. They pulled me up, but had to drag my limp body down the stairs and propped me on the couch. I cried and screamed and cried. I felt like every cell in my body was trying to merge with the earth beneath me.

I don’t remember what they said to me after that. I nodded like I heard them. Months later, when I had to testify as a witness in a court case that my stepfather had waged against my mother’s doctors for malpractice, I learned the details of her death.

Her time of death was within minutes of our phone conversation. From how the lawyers explained it based on the coroner’s report, she had started to overdose when she called me and died shortly after our call ended.

If you want to know what guilt and regret feels like, it is the most ginormous ball of self-loathing that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

I’m sharing this now, for the first time ever to anyone, because I’m in a completely different transformative place now. It took me many years and a lot of mistakes to find my way back to myself.

Because of that grief, because of how low that trough was, I had a wildly high appreciation of everything good that was in my life. I saw my siblings and loved them more fiercely than I had ever loved before.

I began saying “I love you” openly, often and with an intention. I was more present in conversations with my friends and family. Every joy and success was to celebrate and embrace with an open heart. Nature was more beautiful.

From birth to nineteen years old, I held grudges like you wouldn’t believe. After my mom’s death, nothing was worth holding back my affection. I forgave quickly, easily and without the offending party’s admission of fault.

This all sounds virtuous and lovely, except there is such a thing as being too wide-open. I had swung to the other end of the pendulum with wanting to see only the good and pure in other people. While I had dealt with the grief over my mother’s death, I hadn’t addressed my guilt. I had a penance to pay. For as loving as I was to others, I was the opposite with myself.

At one point, I wrote on post-it notes that I hung on mirrors in my house, “Stupid bitch!” I lived alone.

I started to disassociate with my body and my instincts. I certainly didn’t trust myself, which meant everyone else was right and I was wrong. I became involved in an unhealthy relationship with someone who raised his self esteem by bringing mine down. I allowed it to happen and felt I deserved it.

In 2006, I bought a house that the universe gave me signs not to buy. I let my boyfriend convince me that the only way to move forward in our relationship was to own a home. Since I paid both sets of our bills, and had the more successful career, it only made sense that I should buy it with my savings and my credit. I didn’t want the house, he picked it out.

On the way to meet with the sellers and plead my case on why they should accept my offer over others, I got two flat tires. Not one, but two. Knowing if I was late to submit it after their deadline, I would lose it, I drove on my rims for three miles to make it there on time. Universe saying what?

In 2008, I attended the Professional Business Women’s Conference, where Martha Beck was a speaker. She challenged all attendees to do some magic that she demonstrated on stage first. With strength against strength, one person tries to close another person’s hands together. Then you do that again, except the person trying to squeeze the other’s hands together fills their mind with a memory of love. I paired up with my girlfriend, Deanna, and with using my memories of feeling love and being loved I was able to easily bring her hands together. We were both amazed.

At the conference, I bought Martha’s book Steering by Starlight. Reading that book set off a ripple of events. I started to realize my value and purpose. I started to forgive myself for my part in my mother’s death. I began standing up for myself.

I kicked my boyfriend out of the house. I literally woke up one day and realized just how miserable I was with him and how much happier I would be alone.

He asked me, “What’s wrong? I feel like you’re not the same person anymore.”

“I’m not,” I said. “I don’t love you. You need to move out.”

He was in such shock that he started to bribe me with, “What if I bought you an engagement ring? Let’s go shopping right now. Is that what you want?”

“No,” I said. “I don’t want to be with you anymore. I’m done. I’m over it.”

While this was a step in the right direction, I hadn’t learned my lesson yet about boundaries and trusting myself.

Someone who I had been friends with for a couple years convinced me to invest with him.  He knew I was struggling to make my house payment and painted a picture of having a couple thousand more a month in income. This friend drove a fancy Mercedes SL500, wore expensive shoes and clothes, and had a habit of dining at top star restaurants. I was so panicked about money and bills, I wanted to believe in something that was too good to be true.

While I can’t get into the details of the con for legal reasons, I will share that he wracked up more than $210,000 in debt under my name and credit.

I was ashamed to tell anyone for fear they’d think I was as stupid as I believed myself to be. There were signs along the way that I ignored. Mostly from my body, which had revolted in the form of forgetting how to write. Even writing my name was challenging and full of spelling mistakes.

Shortly after this, I was laid off from my job as Director of Marketing for the arena and coliseum in Oakland. The city and county issued budget cuts and every Director level position had been eliminated. I could no longer pay my bills, I had no savings left and my debt was overwhelming. This was during the Great Recession when the housing market was under water. Even if I wanted to sell my house, the market value was far less than my remaining loan amount.

My newfound self was shaken loose and I began to doubt my worth. I remember sitting on my couch and feeling a flush of heat flood my face while my chest constricted so tightly that I couldn’t breathe. Gasping for air, my arms going tingly numb, my mind I thought, “Is this what it feels like to have a heart attack? Is this where they’ll find my dead body?” Then as quickly as it came, it left. I could breathe. The heat left my face and I could feel my arms again.

As I struggled to figure out what to do about my financial situation, I met and started dating a new man, who looked perfect on paper. He was handsome, funny, successful, and most importantly seemed to dote on me like I hadn’t experienced before. I would get frequent texts throughout the day about how beautiful, smart and charming I was. After only three weeks, he blurted, “I love you so much.” Two months in, we were spending most of our free time together.

One night, I had an extremely vivid dream. There was a baby crawling underneath a beautiful, black grand piano. The piano was playing lovely, smooth music. I kept trying to grab the baby out from under the piano and couldn’t. Despite all my attempts, I couldn’t pull the baby out, so instead I put my hand up against the legs so that the baby wouldn’t bump its head as it crawled. I knew I had to get the baby out before the piano crashed down on top of it crushing it.

Remembering the Dream Analysis chapter in Steering by Starlight, I used the tool and was able to decipher that my boyfriend was the piano and I was the baby. My higher self knew that somehow, he would crush me and hurt me. Instead of listening to my dream, I let logic and reason push it away.

Less than a week later, we were laying on my couch watching football when I got a call from a number I didn’t know. I let it go to voicemail. With my boyfriend sitting next to me, I listened to the message from a woman stating she was his wife. That she’d found his ‘other phone’ and was calling to let me know that he was married with kids.

Another blow. I was drowning. I felt so much self-hatred at how stupid I was.

For the next two years, like clockwork each year, I was laid off from another job. All different reasons, none of them within my control. A venue closed for renovations and couldn’t justify a marketing position. A year after becoming the head of marketing for Strikeforce MMA, it was bought by its competition, UFC, and all the staff was laid off. It would be nine months before I found work again.

Looking back, I needed to lose it all to build anew. I needed to completely break, dissolve and cut the ties to the life I was living. Each time, I was forced to look inside and dig deeper to find meaning.

Over those three years, I hired two different life coaches. Working with them changed my whole perspective and gave me tools to not only accept who I was, but also love my uniqueness and recognize the gifts I had to give the world.

I realized that my mother’s death was not my fault. She was on her own path and made her own choices. While I’ll never know for sure, I believe now that when she said, “Just know that I love you,” she didn’t want me to blame myself for her decision to end her life. She knew what she was doing and didn’t want me to feel any guilt for it. It was her way of saying that no matter what was going on between us, I was loved.

I distinctly remember the moment that I “got it.” The moment I completely surrendered to a power higher than myself. I woke up from my victim pity party and accepted my life as it was, my journey as it would be, and myself just as I am. No more, no less.

December 2010, I was driving down interstate 5 on my way to Orange County to spend Christmas with my family. I felt a sense of calm, peace, contentment and love radiating out of my body. I cried tears of joy. It is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. I was listening to a Lady Antebellum song “I’m Ready To Love Again” which struck a chord.

The lyrics are:
“Seems I was walking in the wrong direction
I barely recognize my own reflection
Oh, scared of love but scared of life alone

Seems I’ve been playing on the safe side baby
Building walls around my heart to save me
Oh, but it’s time for me to let it go
Yeah I’m ready to feel now
No longer am I afraid of the fall down
It must be time to move on now
Without the fear of how it might end
I guess I’m ready to love again.”

To me it wasn’t about loving someone else, but it was about being ready to love ME again…to love my life again…to open myself up to whatever path I was intended to go down without fear, without walls…and let it all go.

Once I did that…everything changed.

Within a few months, I started dating love of my life, my husband Jeff. I had created an “ideal husband” vision with one of my life coaches. It was one of those “this is impossible, but if I could have it all, this is what I’d want.” You know what? I got exactly what I asked for. In fact, on our wedding day, I gave him my journaled notes that I had created with that exercise. He’s not perfect, but he’s absolutely perfect for me. I am thankful each and every day for the gift of loving and being loved by this man.

A few months later, I got an amazing job with some of the most brilliant people I have ever worked with (and still maintain friendships with today).

I found the courage to declare bankruptcy and not fear what people would think of me for doing so. As part of that, I foreclosed on my house and just let it go and accepted that it wasn’t mine to have. The emotional release I had from getting out from under that financial burden was so freeing.

I started to use my body compass to assess my relationships and cut out those which gave me a shackles-on response. I paid close attention to my instincts and gut rather than allowing logic and reason to rule my actions. You know what? It opened up space in my life for meeting some amazing people.

Shortly after getting married, my husband and I set a goal to move back to Southern California, where we grew up, to live closer to our family. I resigned from a job that I enjoyed, but that caused a lot of stress and demanded all of my time, for a life that gave us so much more time with each other and with the people that we love.

Because my journey in learning lessons is never over, on the career front, I pushed ahead with taking jobs my body compass wasn’t thrilled with because of the money and prestige they offered. Within six months of becoming the head of marketing for Angels Baseball, I resigned. Stubbornly sure my calling was marketing, I took another job for a tech start up company and within 10 months was laid off again.

I finally got it. “I hear you,” I said to the universe. My purpose is not to be a corporate marketing executive. That started my path toward tapping into what my life’s purpose is, what makes my heart sing, and what unique gifts am I hear to offer the world.

Now, I am self-employed as a Life Coach (or Wayfinder) and seeing my clients have life-altering insights is extremely fulfilling. One of my client’s husbands told me, “I feel like I have my wife back, thank you.” Talk about heart-expanding!

Despite my bankruptcy, with time that heals, we now own a home that is uniquely ours and exactly how we pictured it. We do the activities that bring elation. Had I not gone through what I did, I wouldn’t have all that I have now.

Some of my friends have told me that I’m the strongest person they know. Had they experienced what I had, I know that they would be too. We all have it in us, we just need the opportunity for it to shine through.

I believe that my choices were to either stop living or move forward. I chose to keep going. I now see obstacles and challenges on a very wide spectrum. For every low, there is an equal high. From a distance, it is a series of long, slow, rolling waves.

I believe that your body and dreams can guide you if you simply pay attention and follow their wisdom. My higher self knew that I was making mistakes and I reasoned away the signs. It was a lesson I needed to learn to now listen as it guides me toward my best path.

I believe that you can’t live your best life with your heart clenched tightly closed, nor with it forced wide open. Living the life you crave means a balance between the two so that you can catch and hold the opportunities as they come.

I have no idea what tomorrow and the day after bring, yet I do know that if I follow the integrity of my essential self, what lays before me is better than I could ever ask for myself. Yes, there will be moments of losing my identity…it’s all part of the beautiful process and it, too, brings me to somewhere even better than where I was.

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Designing a Coaching Playshop

As I plan for the future, I’m envisioning how I would go about designing a weekend coaching retreat or workshop (which I’d prefer to call “playshop”). Advice from master coaches focus on connecting with our original medicine and ideal day to lay the foundation for building a retreat on. Some coaches do Equis Training, where clients tap into their emotional energy to engage with horses. Others have nature retreats with a focus on forest bathing or building a campfire as a metaphor tool.

My happy place of rejuvenation is the ocean. It always has been. The sound of waves churning and tumbling onto the sand, the ripple movement of the surface of the water as it constantly changes shape, watching birds dive for fish or dolphins porpoise along, the smell of salt and wet spray in the air that you can practically taste, and the sun warming my skin like a heating blanket. It feeds every cell of my body…and I have a feeling it does for many others as well. Why else would tropical vacations be so popular?

I’m grateful to live in Huntington Beach, a popular vacation destination. I can imagine my future clients looking forward to visiting the ocean for a weekend retreat from their busy schedules. How do I combine this blissful place with the coaching tools? Quite easily, it seems, once I started mapping it out. I would need a partner that brings the other half of the experience.

Through a series of synchronicitous events, I recently met another healer, Justyn, who’s a meditation and yoga teacher. She has a special gift of reading and feeling people’s energy. Through her own practice and building a deeper connection to her body, she can actually feel her digestive system break down food and send those nutrients to certain parts of her physical form.

When I first met her, my whole body started buzzing with an electric shock…and now, even talking to her on the phone, I can feel her energy and my energy meeting and resonating on the same wave. I imagine it is what it would feel like if I was a rechargeable battery hooked up to a charging station. Except it’s mutual…I charge her in the same capacity she charges me. My heart chakra completely opens and there’s a swirl of light and love being shared between us and growing in magnitude as we share our experiences and lessons in healing.

Our longer term plan is to build a wellness center together, and in the shorter term, we want to do retreats and playshops. I will bring the coaching tools and she will bring her meditation and yoga teachings. Together, we’ll leverage the beach environment and add in an element of boating/whale watching to give our clients a holistic experience.

I am buzzing just envisioning this weekend retreat and excited to chart out my turtle steps to get there. Stay tuned…more to come…

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An Evening with Byron Katie…And New Friends

Byron Katie A Mind At Home With Itself

I was first introduced to Byron Katie’s work in 2009, when I read Martha Beck’s Steering By Starlight. In that book, Martha shared background on Katie, who in 1986 woke up from utter depression to complete enlightenment. Katie has since written books sharing about The Work and helped (quite literally) millions of people find peace from suffering. Reading Loving What Is changed my life.

The foundation of The Work is quite simple, yet has a depth so inconceivable that even Katie finds it impossible to find language that would do it justice. I’m not exaggerating. For months after her awakening, language was completely lost to her. She had to re-learn how to speak and even now, 30 years later, her husband Steven Mitchell translates “Katie speak” through her books that they co-author together and at her live speaking events.

As a Life Coach, we use The Work of Byron Katie to help our clients dissolve their painful thoughts. I hope to attend her 9-Day School for The Work at some point in the future. For now, I use self-inquiry about my own thoughts on a daily basis. When I saw that she was on a book tour for A Mind at Home with Itself and speaking in LA, I jumped at the chance to buy a ticket and experience her energy live.

You may recognize that I share fairly frequently about synchronicity. If you’re not familiar with the term, Carl Jung introduced it as a perceived meaningful coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidence, I believe there is a meaning behind everything and that all interactions between people and events is part of a greater, higher purpose. And where intention meets attention, synchronicity happens. As I personally become more awakened spiritually, I see more and more synchronicity happening in my life.

Given Southern California traffic, I decided to leave Huntington Beach at about 1:30 p.m. to be in LA by 3 p.m. and then explore the area around the Writers’ Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills until the event start at 7 p.m. I walked to Rodeo Drive and observed the tourists taking photos of the upscale, luxury brand retail stores that line the sparkling street that is Rodeo and Wilshire. I was fascinated by all the languages and expressions of awe and amazement at these grandiose buildings and window displays.

When my tummy started to gurgle, I stopped at a cafe where I was seated on the patio to eat an early dinner. No sooner did my spicy ahi tuna over crispy risotto arrive than two elder men sat down at the table next to me. The engaged in a very passionate conversation about organized religion and the pyramid of power struggle happening not only currently across the world, but how that has been the way throughout history. I almost dropped my fork. I have been showing people the following Martha Beck video about the Pool and the Pyramid for weeks…and here these gentlemen were expressing (almost word for word) how Martha has been describing the Pyramid.

Every cell in my body felt electric and I jumped into the conversation without even thinking. We then began a philosophical and spiritual discussion that lasted more than an hour. It was so energizing…and here were these two strangers who were completely open to engaging on that level, which probably doesn’t happen very frequently in LA-LA-Land. (That is a judgment on my part that I will do The Work on when this is done.)

Still buzzing from this conversation, I walked back to the Writers’ Guild Theatre lighter and floating. I reached the entry doors to the theatre at 5:30 and they wouldn’t let guests in to the sold-out event until 6 p.m. So I sat myself down on the steps in front of the doors and watched the bustle of people walking by. I noticed three women who were also early and looking for where to get into the theatre, so I chimed in with letting them know what I had learned from one of the staff members. They decided to join me on the steps and the line formed around us.

“So how were you introduced to Byron Katie?” I asked them.

“From a friend,” one woman (I’m forgetting her name, please forgive me)said.

“I was introduced through Martha Beck,” said the second woman (Leigha).

I gave her a high five and said, “Me too!”

“Oh really?” Leigha asked. “How so?”

“I’m in her Life Coach Training course,” I said.

“Me too!” she responded. (If you want to check her out: Leigha May Coaching )

We then began excitedly sharing our own stories on how we’d come to pursue Life Coaching, which co-horts we were in, etc. I was so pumped to be experiencing this with another tribe member!

With my three newfound friends, we sat together and continued sharing about other books and authors…various forms of meditation…and then the first woman shared how she loves doing new things. How she describes herself as an explorer and always wants to go and do something new. She added that it doesn’t have to be big and profound, that even the small things are impactful and exciting and a way to continue to grow as a person.

Once again, I’m fairly sure my jaw dropped before I shared:

“Me too! I have challenged myself to do one new thing per day that I have never done before. I started on August 21 and I am thankfully still going.”

“You should blog about it,” Leigha said.

“I do! Elation Explorer dot com,” I said.

Then we all shared about the new experiences we’ve had lately due to this philosophy of saying yes and being willing to put ourselves out there.

I cannot make this kind of stuff up. I promise you, this was too surreal. And we hadn’t even experienced Katie speak yet!

Katie is as advertised. You can feel even as an audience member that she is warm, compassionate, loving and completely out of her mind (in the best way possible). She absolutely is challenged in finding words and is so completely in the present moment that what was shared even a second ago has left her. So much so that her husband is “herding a cat” (his own words) when they do these events. She begins one task and then goes somewhere else and he’ll redirect it back to the agenda.

“This is our second night of the book tour,” Mitchell began. “We had planned for her to read the whole chapter 12, and she only got through half. Tonight we got about one third of the way through. By the end, we may be down to a few words.”

Mitchell opened the event with sharing background on why and how this latest book was created. He, and other students of Buddhism, have been challenged in translating the Diamond Sutra because all other languages don’t have the words to express the meaning behind it. It is so abstract and heavy that most give up after a few chapters. Mitchell took on the challenge by getting Katie’s unique perspective on it in her own translation of it from her enlightened mind. From these “Katie-isms” of nuggets, Mitchell would then translate them and the end result is A Mind at Home with Itself.

Most of the two-hour long event was Katie answering questions from the audience, of which many were associated with the hosting organization Insight LA. Some brilliant questions were asked and Katie opened my mind up even more to the meaning behind asking “Is it true?”

When she explains how even when we are replaying moments from a millisecond ago, we are separate from ourselves and the present, you “get it.” How her husband is the person in front of her now, not the man he was this morning or yesterday or even 10 years ago. She is so present and you can see from observing her that whoever is speaking, she is completely focused on that person and present. There is nothing happening in her mind, no distraction. Complete centeredness and presence.

She is extraordinary and there is no faking how real her enlightenment is and how purely she loves and feels she is everyone and everyone is her. I’m even more determined to go to the 9-Day School for The Work and continue this awakening and existence in the present.

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Overcoming Fear

For as long as I can remember, the sight of needles and the thought of them inserting into skin has made me want to jump out of my skin. My heart leaps up into my throat, my back gets shivers and my shoulders scrunch up into my neck. Even watching needles on TV, knowing that the camera is filming fake skin and fake blood, gives me the heebie-jeebies and I can’t watch. I close my eyes and burry my head. “Just tell me when it’s over.”

In the few times I have given blood, I looked away, squeezed something with my other hand to distract my mind and force myself into my happy place. I pictured lying on a beach and totally disassociated with my body. “If I can’t see it, it’s not happening,” I convince myself.

In high school, I gave blood during a blood drive. A guy-friend, who was also giving blood on the table next to mine, decided it would be funny to tell me — straight faced — that there must be something wrong with how they inserted the IV or with me because my blood was a weird color. He yelled, “Nurse!” When I looked to see what he meant, I just about hyperventilated seeing my blood filling a bag. If they hadn’t given me a bag to breathe into, I probably would have fainted.

Before I was a coach, this fear was just something that I accepted. Something that made my friends and husband laugh when we watched movies. Something I dealt with through disassociation…with blocking it instead of experiencing it.

To be completely TAO (Transparent, Authentic and Open), I didn’t catch my lizard brain when I tried acupuncture for the first time last week and I refused to open my eyes or let my mind visualize the needles. I tried to climb into my body to feel the sensations and my mind kept wandering to far off places. I now realize it’s because I wasn’t accepting and climbing into the whole experience. I was trying to block the needle part out, which inhibited me from a true mind-body connection.

As all things happen when we need to and are ready to experience them as part of our life path, this week I saw that I needed to “live it to give it.” I needed to address and do the work directly on this fear.

Our uncles, Steven and Jerry, who also happen to be our neighbors, have two aging dogs: Tasha (14 years old) and Nikoli (also 14). Recently, both dogs have had some serious medical issues. About five months ago, Tasha was in the hospital for kidney failure. Steven and Jerry almost lost her, but she’s a fighter and so are they. Tasha’s at-home care included receiving a daily IV of fluids to flush out her kidneys. This is something the uncles had to learn to do themselves.

On Tuesday, they were back at the vet because Tasha’s kidney issues had returned. Once again, the vet prescribed daily IVs. Jerry had sent me a misfire text, intended for Steve, that he was on his way to pick up her IVs and fluids. I responded with my condolences and apologies that they had to go through the painful process of inserting a needle into their dog’s neck.

“If it’s going to make her feel better, we do what we need to do,” he replied.

Realizing I was projecting my own fear and angst over needles, I said, “Good attitude. Glad you have options.”

“I have a new thing for you to do tomorrow,” Jerry said. “You can give Tasha her daily IV feeding. Come watch today and you can do it tomorrow.”

Immediately my lizard brain went into a scary story about needles and without catching this, I said, “LOL. I’m not sure if I’m that adventurous.”

“HOLD UP! Wait…what are you making that mean?” I heard a voice in my head say.

The awesome thing about coaching is that when I notice I’m having a stressful or adverse reaction to something, it’s a sure sign I have work to do on myself. This is a gift. So I took it to self-inquiry:

Q: Why is it a problem to give a dog an IV?
A: Because needles hurt and I don’t want to cause pain. What if I do it wrong? What if I cause more damage and make her more sick? What if the needle breaks off in her skin? (And my thoughts once again went off playing a horror movie of a future that doesn’t exist.)

Q: The vet trusts Steven and Jerry to do it…and they managed to do it fine for weeks. They’re also going to teach you and show you. Why do you think you can’t?
A: Because needles freak me out!

Q: Why are needles bad?
A: Because they hurt!

Framing up the painful thought: The needle will hurt Tasha. (The following tool is “The Work” by Byron Katie.)

Q: Is that true?
A: I believe so, yes.

Q: Can you absolutely know that that is true?
A: Well, no, not absolutely. I know they hurt me if I look at them, which is my cognitive brain’s story. When the nurse does it, it is only a slight pinch. And I have no idea what dogs’ pain thresholds are.

Q: How do you react, what happens when you think that the needle will hurt Tasha?
A: I get shivers down my back. I tense up in my shoulders. My heart beats fast. My hands get clammy. I feel like my chest is being squeezed. I stop breathing.

Q: Who are you without the thought?
A: I’m my normal, calm self. I would just be inserting a needle into Tasha and being clinical about it. Heck, I could have been a doctor if I couldn’t think that needles, or anything puncturing skin, didn’t hurt.

Q: What are some turnarounds?
A: To the opposite: The needle won’t hurt Tasha.

Q: Have Steven and Jerry told you that Tasha is in a lot of pain when they do it? Do dogs tell themselves painful stories about the IVs long after it’s done?
A: No. I don’t believe they’d do it if that were the case. And animals don’t have language, so they can’t relive it over and over again like humans can.

Q: What’s the turnaround to other?
A: Tasha will hurt the needle. HA! I guess if she’s like Tucker (my dog), if she doesn’t like something she will bite it. So if she was in pain, she’d try to bite the needle back. As far as I know, that hasn’t happened in her previous IV treatments.

Q: What’s the turnaround to self?
A: I will hurt me. My thoughts will hurt me. I guess that’s probably what I’m projecting. My own pain. My own story about needles is hurting me, not Tasha.

Well, alright then! This is exactly what I need to do then for Elation Explorer. Push beyond my fear and look for alternate truths in the process.

Yesterday I observed and learned how Steven and Jerry give Tasha an IV. While the thought was a little less painful after “The Work,” it wasn’t ready to release me yet. So today, I used another tool: ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). I looked at other thoughts holding up the “Needles will cause pain” and found some additional stories that my mind tells:

“Objects shouldn’t puncture skin.” (And this caused a whole series of lizard brain visions of knives cutting through flesh, broken bones poking out of skin, and a host of other physically painful story options.)

I said to myself, “I’m having the thought that objects shouldn’t puncture skin.” I repeated this three times.

I added to it with, “I’m noticing that I’m having the thought that objects shouldn’t puncture skin.” Again, I repeated this three times.

I sat with this for a moment, began to feel some separation, took a breath and said to myself, “I have a whole story around the thought that objects shouldn’t puncture skin. This is my needle story.”

Then I sang “this is my needle story” out loud to a tune I made up, then again to the tune of Happy Birthday. The painful thought loosened a little bit more.

I pushed myself to think of proof of why the opposite is true…why objects should puncture skin. I came up with a whole list, including:

  • So doctors can perform surgeries and procedures to save lives.
  • So that patients can get anesthesia to be unconscious during said procedures and surgeries.
  • So that people who like and want tattoos can use that form of self expression.
  • So acupuncture can help people heal parts that Western medicine and prescriptions may not be able to cure.
  • So that Tasha can live…so she can get the fluids she needs to flush out her kidneys.

When 2:30PM came, the time for Tasha’s IV treatment, I walked to their house and breathed slowly and deeply. I grounded myself and quieted my mind with the presence of the trees and breeze along my walk. When I arrived, they began to set out the IV bag and Tasha’s bed while I did some Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (alternate nostril) breathing.

I sat behind Tasha in the bathroom and became present and focused. Jerry handed me the needle and told me which direction to face it when inserting.

IV Needle prepared and ready to be inserted.

They had shown me how to grab the folds on the back of her neck and shake it in a way that would allow a space to inject the needle so that the fluid would fill underneath her skin. I was grateful that she was a pug with extra loose layers of skin. I inserted the needle. I was calm and my hand was steady.

“The fluid isn’t flowing,” Jerry said. “You’ll have to take it out and do it again.”

My mind said, “Of course. Lessons that are needed to learn are always going to have a few hiccups.”

I took out the needle…we rubbed the back of her neck, and I did it again. This time it worked and the IV fluids flowed in at a good pace. Tasha started fidgeting half way through and I got a little nervous…but I wasn’t scared. I was able to look at the needle and look at her and still breathe evenly.

It took about four minutes and then it was done. Tasha was given her treats, she shook herself and it was over. She wasn’t mad at me. She wasn’t in pain. It was like she’d already forgotten it.

I stayed for about fifteen minutes making small chat with Steven and Jerry, and Tasha was her normal, doggy self that I’ve seen and interacted with every other time I’d seen her. She wasn’t fazed one bit. She looked like the hulk with her neck full of fluids, but she was otherwise unaffected.

It really was all in my head.

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Growing Insights

Hard on the outside, soft on the inside

**I posted this blog yesterday on Elation Explorer and because it is relevant to Inversion Coaching, I am duplicating it here.**

I set out on this career transformation in June, when I started Martha Beck’s Life Coach Training. While I expected to learn a whole new set of skills, I didn’t realize how much self-growth I would experience these past three months.

I’ve been even more blessed by having friends and family who have been willing to open up their innermost thoughts and feelings to work with me as I practice the tools. Some have even recommended me to their friends and family, which is an honor I can only describe as a bubbling overflow of love emanating out of my chest.

I started off coaching for free with the limiting belief that I shouldn’t charge until I was fully certified. Yet, many have asked to pay me because they’re getting more out of a few months of coaching than they have through months and years of therapy. This response was a pleasant surprise…and affirms that I made the right decision.

I feel pure joy when a practice client has an ‘aha’ moment. It’s palpable when it happens. There’s a peace and calmness that is exchanged between our energies when we end a session. That in itself is a gift to receive when giving.

Through coaching, I have grown personally and professionally, my clients have grown in their own life journeys, and my quantity of practice clients has grown organically. What started as five raised hands grew to eight, then ten, then fifteen…and for a month or so I was consistently meeting with three clients a day. I started charging the clients who were willing and offering to pay for services rendered.  As I developed my business plan and set goals, I set my sights on coaching what is considered the “maximum” of five clients per day.

Today, I hit that goal. As scheduling luck would have it, I coached five clients today…and it was wonderful.

Admittedly there was a curiosity as to whether I would feel “rushed.” The most important thing I can be for my clients is a place of peace and calm.  There are few rules in coaching, and while I honor our core values and esteem to embody each one, I try to stay very conscious of whether I am “invested” in an outcome. In training, we say “be clean.”

Even having the motivation of “helping” a client means we have an agenda. Attachment to an agenda or an ‘outcome’ takes you out of peace and calm and into a place of guiding and directing with a purpose. That’s dangerous territory. Whether a client has an epiphany or they’re exactly the same at the end as they were when we got on the call is NONE OF MY BUSINESS. Their path is their path and it will unfold as it was intended. Coaching without any expectations allows us to be fully present and listening while “existing in perpetual creative response to whatever is present” (Yogi Amrit Desai).

The irony is that to be called to do Life Coaching comes from a desire to help people. However, we must let go of our ego…let go of our desires any thoughts, opinions or emotions that may project onto the client.

It’s harder than it sounds, though certainly not impossible if we are consistently doing the work on ourselves.

I will admit that I have realized in sessions that I have opinions. When I do, there is a tangible difference in how that session goes if I am unable to ground myself and “get clean.” I’ve found that having space between clients to clear my mind, ground myself, and become present inside my own body is the best way to avoid going into a session with a motivation to help. This was the epiphany I had that finally helped me truly understand one of our core values of: “Be the window, not the light.” I am merely a vessel for the tools and it’s up to the client and the tools to work together.

One tool I use to center myself before a client session is an App called Insight Timer, which was recommended by a client who also enjoys meditation. Within the free App, there are a variety of types/styles of meditations as well as lengths of time. How much time I have before the next session starts usually determines which one I choose to do.

This morning when I woke up, in anticipation of a full day, I reviewed each of my clients’ previous session notes and prepped today’s session document so that I could maximize the half hour between sessions to meditate and become present and clear. Reserving that time between sessions means that if a session runs over (like they often do), it is ok to let it flow as it needs to for a natural closure.

Today was a good test-run for the future. Thanks to my clients (you know who you are) for allowing me to be with you where our journeys intersect.


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Elation Explorer

Catalina Scuba Diving

As a Life Coach, my ultimate goal (and my life’s purpose) is to help people live their most joyous life. Many of the tools I use help clients let go of painful thoughts, of either the past or the future, that spin on repeat in their brain. Other tools are more meditative and help them live in the present moment and shift their awareness to watch what their mind is doing, what emotions are flowing in the body, and notice the physical sensations corresponding to that in their body. Once they’ve grounded in this from an observer perspective, they can calmly and peacefully be centered in the present.

Being completely present and experiencing moments as they unfold allows us to also be grateful for the gifts here and now, and find serenity at home with ourselves.

For me, personally, I’ve found my elation comes from exploring and experiencing new things. Whether that’s through new foods, new activities, new cultures or new places, it is in those moments that I am most present and feel most alive. Doing something new requires my focus and a heightened awareness. My mind doesn’t go to the past or future, it stays in each millisecond as I actively participate.

For example, when we were on African safari in Tanzania, I was so enthralled with the watching the lions interact with each other, their smooth movements, their massive and muscular size, the flies on their faces, the yellow in their teeth, the softness of their orange fur, how enormous and expansive their yawns were, and how vibrating their deep voices. I am sure we stayed there for hours and yet it felt like minutes…to the point where we only left because our poor tracker, Bilal, had to urinate and he wisely chose not to do it in front of a pack of lions.

Visiting somewhere new allows my mind to watch in amazement and appreciation while soaking in the ambiance of sights, sounds, tastes, smells and often touch. It’s exhilarating!

Traveling the world, while it would be a dream come true, isn’t a reality for me at this present moment. It’s for this reason, I’ve challenged myself to find something new to experience each day here in Southern California…and to share it with you in the hopes that you’ll be inspired to also add something new to each day. No matter how small it might seem, the act of creatively seeking a new experience builds new thoughts in our minds, and the act of doing creates awareness and presence. Both done frequently, I’m betting will have the side effect of elation.

Learning something new has the added benefit of personal growth. Often, and especially once we have achieved a certain level of societal success, we become content moving in auto-pilot and our risk-aversion to failure outweighs the reward of potential growth. The higher we climb, the more we feel a stronger expectation from “everyone” that we must always be successful. It is then that we stop being comfortable with, and welcoming of, failure.

A former mentor, Harry Conlin, once told me early in my career, “Dare to fail.”

I am daring to fail both in the new activities I will try and even in the challenge of doing something new every day.  In doing, I will gain so much more than resting comfortably on my complacency.

What would you do if you couldn’t think the thought “I might fail?”

Thank you for joining me on this journey! If you care to follow my adventures, I’ve created a new and dedicated blog site, Elation Explorer, which already has a few entries starting on Monday. Or you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Mind-Body (Re)Connection

Mind Body Connection

As a coach, I “live it to give it.” That means that I use the same exercises and tools I use to help my clients. Sometimes I work with other coaches because it helps having someone else who can see through the stories I tell myself as well as keeps my “left brain” from interfering in messages from my body. The rest of the time, I self-coach so that it’s a part of my daily routine.

Frequently throughout the day, I will check in with my body to keep my mind-body connection flowing and strong. It’s like exercising muscles…”use it or lose it.” (Though, once a connection is made it’s too delicious to ever even want to lose it.) While every day brings new insights, one “Climb Into Body” session in particular was too mind-blowing not to share.

For some background, the past 20 years or so I have suffered from chronic back pain. On my 30th birthday, I threw my back out for the first time and then consistently continued to throw it out about once a quarter for the few years after. Between chiropractic visits, therapy exercises and core strengthening, I have been able to keep the daily pain to manageable and increased the time between herniated discs to once every couple of years. It also meant changing certain activities and awareness of ‘protecting’ my back, which has been a whisper in my mind even when I sleep.

When I first started setting a timer three times a day to “Climb Into My Body,”* it was hit or miss on whether I’d get any messages. As I learned to connect with the physical sensations (vs concepts), metaphors and messages started getting stronger. Some messages from my body are simple, others deep and profound.

Last week, when my afternoon timer went off, I had coincidentally just finished up a meditation. I had participated in Oprah Winfrey & Deepak Chopra’s “21 Day Meditation Challenge” – Day 21 was “Extraordinary Me” and focused on Joy being our greatest desire. As I pondered this question, I heard my phone beep and thought “Perfect timing!”

What is my mind thinking right now?
Answer: “What is my greatest joy?”

What emotions/feelings are running through me?
Answer: Curiosity, Calm, Wonder (are those emotions? if not, they should be!)

What sensations are in my body right now? Do a scan:

As I scanned my body and noticed various sensations starting from my feet, up my legs, into my torso and chest, down my arms, up my neck and into my head…I started to feel my heartbeat pumping blood in various parts of my body. This was a new sensation for me as usually I can feel it in my chest and yet this time, I could feel it in my head and my arms and my legs.

Again, I pretty much always have pain in my low back that goes from mild annoyance to straight out spasm (and the latter less so since starting Life Coach training). I noted the pain yet stayed focused on my heartbeat.

Suddenly my whole back started to tingle (almost ticklish) and then felt a rolling wave of icy coolness…almost like chills rolling across my whole spine into my neck and down my shoulders. It came in pulsing waves of cooling from the inside out. I didn’t dare disturb my back to check if it felt cool to the touch, but I did allow my left hand to move to my thigh and it was cold to the touch.  Keep in mind, the room I was in was hot and humid (no AC, and about 78 degrees outside).

As I embraced this sensation, I went through the exercise and noted three descriptors of the sensation: Permeating, Fluid, Soft

I named it Cool Tingle.  “I am Cool Tingle.”

I asked myself as Cool Tingle: “What is my purpose?”
Answer: “To sooth and calm you.”

I asked: “How am I hear to help Jennifer?”
Answer: “To take away your pain. To comfort you and to flow.”

I asked: “What is the wisdom I want to impart?”
Answer: “Chill out. Don’t worry. I got this. You are self-healing.”

I sat fascinated with this sensation for what felt like a long time. I thanked it, and it then subsided.

Folks – ALL my back pain was gone. I can’t describe how light my body felt, how much energy I had and my urge to move and dance and turn and twist in ways I haven’t dared to in over 8 years.

Reading and studying about the healing benefits of reconnecting with your body is one thing. To feel and witness the power of it is nothing short of miraculous.  God/Higher Power has given each of us an incredible gift in the form of ourselves and the unique gifts we offer to the world. Tapping into that and releasing parts of ourselves that have been stifled, stuffed down, disconnected from is a path I hope you all have the courage to journey through.


*The Climb-Into-Body tool is reprinted with permission from Martha Beck, Inc. Copyright, Martha Beck,