Category Archives: Coaching

Making the most of your vacation

Check out my guest post on creating a fulfilling vacation on the BNI Amplify Health and Wellness team blog.

Staying in character

Vancouver is known for many things:
– Spectacular scenery (rainforest, desert, mountains, ocean – we have it all!)
– Hosting world class events like the 2009 World Police and Fire Games, the 2006 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships and the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics
– Friendly people
– Close proximity to 3 local mountains for after-work ski/snowboarding/mountain biking as well as a quick drive to world famous Whistler Blackcomb ski resort
– Having the busiest sea port in Canada
– The nickname “Hollywood North” for being 3rd largest film production centre in North America

Last week, Vancouver hit the headlines for another reason: post-Stanley Cup riots. This was the Vancouver I saw from my balcony:

Vancouver riot fire

Vancouver post-Stanley Cup riot fire

Now there are ongoing debates as to who is at fault, how it could have been prevented, what is the fall out and kids these days… what really caught my ear was hearing people that were involved in looting, setting vehicles on fire, destroying public property and/or taunting police say that their behavior was “out of character” for them.

The curious juxtaposition for me is that Vancouver is home to a vibrant film, television and theater scene. We create great entertainment here and part of why it works is that actors create characters that we believe.  There is an acting term called “staying in character”. This means that the actor responds and acts in the way that his or her character would. Instead of seeing an actor going through the motions of a line or action, we, the audience, see the character. When an actor breaks character, or doesn’t act in the way that their character would, the effect on the audience is that they are no longer able to suspend their disbelief and believe in the character.

This brings up some great coaching questions:

– where are you “out of character” or out of integrity?

– what does it feel like when you are “in character” or in your integrity?

– what stands out about your character?

– what would you like to strengthen about your character?

– what does “I’m sorry” mean to you?

In Joy,


Making decisions: Apples to Oranges

Decision Making Process with a Personal CoachNot all fruit are created equal.

Decisions in grown up life are rarely simple. They tend to be less of “blue cup or red cup” and more like move to Toronto for a great job opportunity or start your own business here. I call these “Apples to Oranges” decisions.

Coaching can help you through the decision making process by taking “Apples to Oranges” options and helping you figure out what are the root factors in the decision and how they weigh in importance to you. In a sense, it helps you quantify what can be a very strong emotional decision.

If you are facing an “Apples to Oranges” decision in your life or business, consider how coaching may help. For more details on my “Apples to Oranges” package, click here.

Practice makes perfect???

Ever listened to a little kid practicing the piano?

I remember diligently (OK, that is a rosy reflection. Begrudgingly…) doing my 30 minutes of practice a day. Well, most days. I would play the same song – usually as fast as my fingers would go – until the timer beeped and I bolted off the piano bench to play or read or whatever.

The thing about practicing the same thing over and over is that sometimes I would learn a song and learn one note incorrectly or with a weird rhythm. But I wasn’t able to hear the part that clunked. I bet my neighbors did, though! When I trucked into my piano lesson each week, my teacher would first listen to me race through the song and then get me to slow it down. Sometimes I would then hear it. Or sometimes she would point my attention to that area and we would work through the passage together. Muscle memory is an itch and it takes more work to unlearn a habit and then retrain a new one.

Working with a coach is kind of like this. There are areas in life where we go on auto pilot because *we know it*. In fact, the conscious mind can only hold about 7-9 things at any given time. That is a whole lot of thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and actions being run by our unconscious! So it is hard to hear the parts that we keep tripping over.

Coaching turns our attention to these things to bring them into consciousness to see what we find, tweak what is working and rework what isn’t. Then we are able to set off to the races again, knowing that we will hit the right notes to make our Fur Elise soar. A professional coach is trained to listen for the clunks and and is skilled at slowing you down to work through the rough spots. Coaches are also trained to listen for your inner Mozart and will help you amp up your genius.

For your enjoyment, a piece that reminds me of tranquility and the underlying madness of the mind:
Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1

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Highs and lows of Canucks playoffs: Interview with Kiah and Tara Jean

Wow – talk about how things just come together… I’ll have to post later about the back story on this interview with Kiah and Tara Jean on their show on Virgin 95.3.

For now, here’s the clip posted on Tara Jean’s blog.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Happy vs. Happy

A few years ago, my friend said to me “Everyone is just trying to feel better.” I was really puzzled. While the answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is not 42, as Deep Thought answers in The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I figured that it was more complicated than a feeling.

When Dr. Melissa Carr of Active Life Health Clinic asked me to write an article for her newsletter about being intentional, her topic of SAD vs. SAD (Standard American Diet vs. Seasonal Affective Disorder) sparked an idea of happy vs. happy. defines happy as:

–adjective, -pi·er, -pi·est.

  1. pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.
  2. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind
  3. favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky: a happy, fruitful land.
  4. apt or felicitous, as actions, utterances, or ideas.
  5. obsessed by or quick to use the item indicated (usually used in combination): a trigger-happy gangster. Everybody is gadget-happy these days.

What strikes me about #1-4 is that they are about a temporal state, impacted by the circumstances of the moment. Happy is an adjective. If you reach into the recesses of elementary school lessons on parts of speech, that means that it describes a noun. The noun in this case is a person: you. A happy you. So when are you most happy? When you are being hugged? When you get a raise? When you are singing in the shower?

What about when you aren’t…? What if you could make happy a constant state of being?

The ancient teacher Paul, said, “I have learned to be content regardless of the circumstance…” His circumstances included being jailed, tortured and enduring public scorn – ok, so in a difficult circumstance contest, he wins most people hands down but the lesson is true for both extreme and minor circumstances. When we choose an attitude of joy, regardless of what we face, our whole world looks different and we feel better.

What does it take to learn that secret of choosing to be happy? I believe that the operative word here is ‘choose’. It is not always an easy choice. We must say yes to some things and no to others. Here are some places to start:

– I say yes to choosing work aligned with my values, even if there is a financial impact.

– I say yes to simplifying my schedule to make more time for……..

– I say no to relationships that constantly drain me…

– I say no to overcommitting, even when I feel pressure from other people.

Douglas Adam’s wrote: “He felt that his whole life was some kind of a dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” I believe our hearts continue to know what is right for us and also to dream. What, right now, is the thing that would move you towards having a truly happy 2011?

The fifth definition of happy  is “obsessed by or quick to use the item indicated” as in trigger-happy. What would it like to be joy-happy?

Live your dream AND enjoy it. Feel Better. Choose joy.

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Reach out and nudge yourself…

Although I am allergic to dogs, one of my favorite shows to watch while I knit is The Dog Whisperer. Cesar Millan says he rehabilitates dogs and trains people. As a coach, it fascinates me to watch how he works with the dog owners to be present, aware of their own state and create what they want for their home and their pack. One technique that he uses with the dogs kind of startled me – in fact, it bothered me: sometimes when a dog starts acting up, he gives it a little tap or kick. Yeowch. Cesar explained that sometimes the dog’s brain moves into a behavioral rut and the nudge doesn’t hurt them – it just snaps them out of their current state. Kind of like when my computer gets stuck and won’t respond to what I am asking it to do and I have to reboot it. So I got to thinking about how this applies with people…

I remember back in October I was feeling really bogged down on a couple fronts – I was in the tail end of my certification program, parenting was occupying a lot of my emotional energy and we had just renovated and sold a family property so I was struggling to catch up on some business development that had piled up. My partner, Glen Murray, and I had planned to go with our TCM, Dr. Melissa Carr, up to Adams River to see the salmon run for a little daycation. I wasn’t sure whether a day on the road would be relaxing or if it would create more pressure in an already full calendar. Glen is a wise and patient man and assured me that the day would be memorable and well worth the trip. We bundled into the car early that morning (I don’t think I realized how early we had to leave Vancouver when I agreed to go) and set off to see the largest salmon run in 100 years.

I love the feeling of roadtrips (even if this one started too early in the morning) because I get a delicious sense of freedom and discovery… With the open road before me, good tunes and company in the car and, of course, plenty of snacks, the day was mine to make of it as I wished. The backlog of work faded quickly as we put miles between us and home. One of the amazing things that I appreciate about BC is the lush beauty that surrounds us and it reminds me to get outdoors more often. I am always refreshed, although sometimes also rained on, when I do.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the sight of thousands of salmon, fighting against the currents and odds, to return to their  nesting spot, find a mate and fulfill their part in the salmon circle of life. Before this trip, I knew very little about salmon except that I liked it with a little teriyaki or fruit salsa rather than candied. Fortunately, the Adams River Salmon Society (sorry, their site is down at the moment) had fantastic educational displays. Of all the eggs that are laid in the spawning grounds, only one in four thousand survive to return four years later to the Adams River. Something like half of all eggs make it through to hatching into little fry, half of the fry survive a year of growth in the lake and then swim out 480 km to sea, and only half make it past predators, fisherfolk, and nature to swim back the 480 km to spawn in the place they were born. Those are not odds in their favor for survival. The last part of their journey is in fresh water, where they cannot feed, and so their bodies begin to feed on themselves, changing shape and color as they stave off starvation. With their last reserves of strength, they struggle against the current to maintain a steady position, staking out territory and building nests to lay their eggs. The second they lose their grip, they are swept away by the river and have to make their way painstakingly back over the same rocks and other fish that are competing for mates and space. And then to top it off, as soon as their eggs are laid and fertilized, they die, their carcasses floating to the banks to become fertilizer to enrich the nearby land. While the last days of their lives seem grim for the salmon, I felt inspiration in their determination.

I found this scene on the rocks nearby the river and thought it was poignant: a male and female salmon having fulfilled their life’s mission, with life spilled out on the rocks. And it made me reflect on my life’s mission… and wonder how committed I am to seeing it through… Do I have the persistence of the salmon? This thoughtful, grounded woman on the bank of the Adams River was not the same as the person that had left Vancouver 5 hours earlier. I was changed by being in a different environment, experiencing something new, engaging with my surroundings and being open to what the day had to offer.
So how are the dog whisperer, salmon and my experience connected? Cesar Millan said:

…I have made it my mission to continue spreading this message of balance around the world. If we can do this with one dog, and one human at a time, maybe we can eventually bring that into entire communities and countries, so we can all live as my greatest teachers (dogs) do – mindfully aware, and emotionally in tune.

To me, he is referring to connecting back with ourselves and being intentional with our actions. In our busy lives run by calendars, various phone alerts and overfull inboxes, it is really easy to slip into familiar ways of getting through our day. Our lower brains are really good at learning rote behaviors and we can almost switch off our active brains for things like getting between familiar places or dealing with routine functions. Have you ever arrived home and realized you weren’t really paying attention to how you got there? Or felt like you spent your entire day catching up, constantly behind and running to the next thing on your to do list? What are you missing when your mind and heart are not connected with your body?
My daytrip was like that nudge in the side to snap me out of a habitual work-mode and to re-engage with the world around me and within me. I am sure I would not have had the same experience, sitting in my office at my computer, crossing off things that needed to get done. And absolutely, those things were still waiting for me when I returned. But I approached them in a different way – with fresh eyes and energy – after an afternoon at the river’s edge. New experiences shake up patterns and habits. We pay more attention to the details of our surroundings and are better able to hear what our senses are telling us. We stimulate the frontal cortex of our brains where we make decisions, weigh conflicting information, problem solve and direct higher learning and behavior.

We can’t always take a day or longer and get out of Dodge to mix things up so here is a list of some ideas to start with:

  • take an art class
  • try an open mike night at the local lounge
  • do yoga
  • try writing with your opposite hand or upside down
  • visit a botanical gardens near you
  • spend some time journaling
  • take a bath (I was told once that to take a proper bath, one must fill the tub, get in and then drain and refill the tub twice and then drain the tub a final time in order to feel completely relaxed)
  • take a dance class (for me, this was taking a hip hop class. As a dancer, I was shocked at how awkward and out of place I felt. And it was so good for me!)
  • take a glee club or stand up comedy class that has a performance at the end

And here’s the thing for all you perfectionists out there… if you don’t know what the exact right thing is, do something else until you figure it out =) And while you are at it, send a comment and tell me what you are trying.

What do you do to nudge yourself?

Peace of mind and Joy in heart,


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Hoarding and Trust

I have emerged from the boxes and dust that seem to have no end to share some of what I am working on. Well, the truth is that my skill in gathering *stuff* has made this move really challenging. There were of course good reasons to keep things: old school yearbooks, furniture from dead relatives, product samples from when I freelanced in marketing… I also have a lot of interests which require equipment or supplies (paper making forms, stamps, clay, renovation tools, snowboard, camping, 9′ 6″ long board – and then there is the yarn. Hey, I run a knitting group!).

I watched an episode of Hoarders – have you seen that show? There are people who are buried in their own homes by their stuff. Or who don’t live in their homes because there isn’t room for them there. My home isn’t falling in on me but it definitely could use some streamlining. I have adopted the “love it or lose it” approach to clearing clutter and that has helped significantly as I sort through things.

I read a really interesting quote that I will paraphrase since I determined not to get get side tracked to find it. The jist of it was that attachment comes when we do not trust. Hmmm. What am I not trusting by holding on to these things?

The memory items (photos, furniture, paintings, gifts) have something about honoring the person that they were from. Throwing the item away feels disrespectful to the person that it was from. -> I will trust that honoring people from my past doesn’t require that I hang on to physical items.

Past portfolio (marcomm, products, paper/print samples) give a sense of accomplishment for the last 10 years of freelancing. What if someone asks to see printed examples of my work? Funny enough, no one ever has. And for custom work, I’ve always gone out and found specific print or paper samples for individual projects. -> I will trust my resourcefulness to find what I need if and when I need it. I also know that my experience & wisdom aren’t contained in my portfolio…

Extra furniture. O this is a good one. A large factor in this move was merging lives and moving in with my partner. The question is whether to keep the extra bed, dining table, couch, etc. in a storage locker just in case… -> As I learn to lean into interdependence, I trust that we will not need a backup plan and I know that if we do need to re-establish our own places, we will figure out the best way to do it.

What are you attached to? What would be different if you trusted in that area?

I choose to have a home that I love living in and that is a warm place for our friends and family to visit. As I build my new home in partnership, I will lean into trust and let go of the stuff.

Peace of mind and joy in heart,