January 2009


The world is changing very quickly and our economy is one of the more obvious signs. There are moments when I think that everything has been tipped on its ear and I am reminded of how much we must be ready for a dramatic re-write in how we live and think and work.

If you have found this blog through my website you may understand its purpose. But let me state it for the record, clearly and succinctly. I write this blog for three reasons:

  • To bring value and share knowledge
  • To inspire change
  • To bring in business

All three are linked and equally important in my eyes. Yes, I have to eat and pay bills, just like you. Just as relevant, I have struggled to find myself, to find happiness and definition and joy in my life. Each day I work to define what I need out of life and how to get it while maintaining the values I hold dear. Sharing my knowledge, empathy and experience is part of that journey.

A week or so ago I signed up for a free class on business building. I knew from the description that the class was indeed a type of marketing maneuver that I myself employ – that of offering what I call “flea or free” classes on a particular subject I am knowledgable in – in exchange for the opportunity to make a nominal amount of money and expose myself to potential clients. I knew there would probably be a soft or even hard sell during this class, but I am always interested in learning better techniques – and I’d have the opportunity to potentially network with other business owners, so it was a win-win.

Until I received a call last night.

The man identified himself as part of the group who was hosting the class and asked if I knew how to get to the location. Then he asked my reason for attending and I told him that I owned a housecleaning, organizing and now a business and life coaching business so I could use all the tips I could get in marketing and business building.

His tone immediately changed and I was taken aback when he accused me of “checking out the competition” and asked if I was planning on “trying to steal [their] intellectual property.” Considering I had no idea what that firm did until I asked TWICE for an answer and finally received it (they provide business coaching), the whole idea and conversation was ludicrous and quite insulting.

I won’t name names – neither the caller nor his company need identification for this particular lesson. Needless to say, I won’t be attending.

But here’s the deal – the crux of the matter so to speak. If this guy was so worried about what I might learn in two hours, then this “intellectual property” must not be worth much.

If all of my knowledge and ability was here in this blog, you wouldn’t need to hire me, you’d have everything you needed right here. The clients that come to me are looking for a partner along the journey. They are looking for focus, for support, ideas, brainstorming techniques and for objectivity – and I provide them with all of that and more. I could share my knowledge in a two hour class and still have more insight to give to a one-on-one client than could be covered in twelve coaching sessions. How sad that this company valued their worth so little!

Ideas are everywhere. It is the person who puts them into action and makes them pop who is the ‘winner’ in life. No matter how novel your concept, someone else might have the identical idea bobbing about in their gray matter – until it is in action or on paper – it’s a crap shoot. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants, building upon those who have gone before.

That this man chose to be paranoid and fearful and accusatory was so beyond laughable it actually tempted me to tears. Small minds think like that – they accuse and fear – they can’t envision a world in which we are all striving towards our purpose and eagerly creating our own vision of the future. The idea of stealing someone else’s idea is so completely alien to me – why would I do it when I have so many of my own that are just as good if not better?

We are not standing shoulder to shoulder, neck to neck, there is ROOM for us all to create our unique vision of the world – one individual at a time.

Our economy’s threats of imminent collapse sends a clear message – something is not working right. We need to create a new paradigm, a brave new world. We need to ask ourselves “What works for ME? What can I do to make a difference in my life?” When we begin to make answers to those questions, instead of holding our tiny ideas so closely to our chests that they are suffocated, we will begin to forge this world. It will be a better one, full of individual joy and happiness and potential.

It will be  a brave new world – and it will belong to each one of us.

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My schedule has been crammed full of classes and clients these days. In the last week alone I’ve been up by 4:30 am nearly every day and frantically busy with work and writing and family commitments.

A few evenings ago, a knock came on the door. Before we could answer it, my mother sailed right on in. True to form, she had not called to ask us if we were home, she just showed up.

“Fix your shirt,” she instructed me a few minutes later and I automatically straightened it. After that came a comment on how/what my toddler was eating and then an admonition that I needed to vacuum under my couch cushions after my child took that perfect moment to raise a cushion up and dig underneath for a toy (something she had to date NEVER done before).

It wasn’t until the next morning that it all hit. With nearly four decades of living under my belt, I was still being treated like a ten year old by my mother. And worse yet, I put up with it!

I realize that I was insulted and felt I was being treated with disrespect. While I would never show up at her door unannounced, she does this to me regularly. I also would not comment on her state of dress or tell her she needed to clean her home – two things she finds completely acceptable to do to me.

Now some of you may be saying, “But she’s your mother and mothers can be like that.” And that is true, to a certain point. I will admit to looking at it in a different manner. I am less concerned about her actions and responses as I am about my own. I had reacted to her words without thought. I also had not communicated to her just how resentful I felt when she did these things.

I pulled out some of my past coaching studies and began to read. The following excerpt gave me pause:

The action of responding becomes an act of freedom and consequently has power within it. Response creates an opportunity and is in Alignment with your Commitments. It is also, by definition, an action of Responsibility. Which basically involves the ability to respond with a sense of duty and trustworthiness.

The action of reacting, however, comes from somewhere in the past, and is powerless. It is powerless because the response is sometimes devoid of “a worthy action.” It is based on resistance or opposition without much thought. Reaction can often perpetuate a problem, or enlarge a complaint, and can even tear down, rather than build up a relationship. At any given point in our lives, we are always in one form of action: either a Response or a Reaction. – ICA Training Manual

I realized I was reacting to my mother’s words, albeit a little too late, not responding to them. Worse yet, it was tearing down our relationship. Each time she came by I found myself relieved when she left. This was not the kind of relationship I wanted, not at all!

I’m the type of person who likes to think on things a while, chew them over, and decide on the best course of action. While my automatic reaction is to ‘fix my shirt’ or go looking for a vacuum in reaction to my mother’s orders, I knew I couldn’t continue to react, I needed to learn to respond. Otherwise, our relationship would continue to deteriorate to the point that I never wanted to see her – far too similar to how her relationship with her mother ended.

Think about the relationships you have with others – siblings, parents, children, partners, co-workers. Chances are you can think of at least one person like this – one that shows little respect for you, but may not have  aclue how they are affecting you.

How can I change the relationship with my mother? How can you change your relationships from one of reacting to one of responding?

1. Be aware – the ‘reacting’ is usually preceded by feelings of anger, frustration, becoming defensive, or giving back quick answers without thinking of them.

2. Define – What exactly is bothering you about this? In my situation with my mother I realized it was that I felt that I was not being recognized as an independent adult. I felt she was being disrespectful and demeaning of me. It played into my fears – all these years and I’m still not grown up enough!

3. Let Go/Take Action – At this point, you have an option. Let your feelings and frustrations go or take some kind of action (preferably a positive one!) towards resolving the situation. Several scenarios ran through my head, one included a rather ‘catty’ question about the cell phone and why she wasn’t using it (to call ahead). Nothing really worked – letting it go or being snarky – until I realized I needed to address the situation head on.

I resolved to sit down with her and address the issues directly. To explain to her that I found it rude to just show up on my door and walk into our house without invitation or warning. I know I will also have to explain that her comments on my apparel or the crumbs hidden under couch cushions are not positive or well-received.

She will not take the talk well – I am sure it will be taken as criticism and she will leave in a huff, feeling unappreciated and misunderstood. I will then have to endure weeks or months of silence as she continues to feel sorry for herself. It is for this reason, along with the desire to not rock the boat, that I have stayed silent for so long.

I am also realizing my own complicity in all of this. By NOT maintaining a stance, by NOT continuing to respond in a positive yet firm manner I continue to encourage her behavior. In order to break the cycle I need to stay firm – in essence I need to be the adult I expect her to treat me as. And while I cannot control her responses, I can control my own, and then she can choose to have an adult relationship with me or not.

I’ve been an adult for over twenty years now. It’s time we both recognized that fact.

Think about your relationships over the next week. What’s working? What’s not? Then ask yourself what it is that YOU are feeling. Can you let it go? Do you need to address it directly?

Whatever your feelings are, don’t ignore them. Take the opportunity to examine them and work through them towards a satisfactory end.

Hello everyone!

I apologize for not posting for a while. I’ve been deep in writing.I was surprised to realize that it had been so long.

This past Wednesday I was in having my hair done, as I do every six weeks, and realized I had written about 25,000 words on “Change Your Life” (CYL) in six weeks. Considering all of the other projects I have going on, that was fantastic! I was commenting to the hair stylist about it which segued into the latest chapter I had thought to add when she asked, “Does your brain ever just STOP? I mean, how do you stand it? I guess when you go to sleep…”

I shook my head, “No, I dream about my work, all the time. I wake up four or five times a night thinking about ideas, new chapters, new classes I would like to teach…it’s rather exhausting.”

She just laughed and shook her head. But it caused me to think about how incredibly manic my life can be and I made a few changes:

  • I went home and crossed off several teleclasses I had wanted to squeeze in to my already packed schedule.
  • I sat down on the living room floor with my toddler and played with her new Curious George jack-in-the-box over and over (and OVER) again.
  • After that I took a short half-hour nap (having been awake since 4:30 am).
  • I picked up and then set down three different books I have been ‘meaning to read for research purposes’ and briefly walked through our yard and wished it were spring and green again.

I still woke up at 4:30 am this morning, despite the fact I had no reason to be up at such an early hour. But instead of filling my head with way too much information – I wrote on CYL and sipped my coffee and sat and thought.

My hair stylist was right – I’m tired all the time and distracted. I need to slow down just a wee bit – get a little more sleep and spend more time rolling on the floor with the little one.

But I doubt my brain will ever stop running at its frantic pace…at least not any time soon!

My main focus on CYL this morning has been that of structure rather than in-depth writing. The chapters I have written in the past were put together differently than more recent chapters, so I was trying to get the structure more in line across the board. I stopped at one point and formulated some key points on a chapter that is still under revision – “Get the Balance Right” and had to laugh.

How often do we teach the words and yet not follow the advice?

“You think you’ve got a hold of it all
You haven’t got a hold at all
When you reach the top, get ready to drop
Prepare yourself for the fall, you’re gonna fall
It’s almost predictable

Don’t take this way, don’t take that way
Straight down the middle until next Thursday
Push to the left, back to the right
Twist and turn ’til you’ve got it right

Get the balance right

– Depeche Mode