Tag Archives: Self Growth

One-To-One Resilience / Lifestyle Coaching


I am pleased to announce that I am providing One-To-One Coaching via Skype, telephone or in some cases in person. My approach with you is to create a lifestyle that elevates you to not only build resilience but also helps you address any blocks preventing you from living to your full potential. This coaching provides tools to help you cultivate sustainable practices.

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7 Things I Learned in Trying a New Career

A little over a year ago, I decided to pursue a freelance writing career. I started to write a book and wanted to expand my reach by writing blogs for The Huffington Post and the like. I continue to maintain my full time job as a clinical social worker, and write during my evenings and weekends. It is nice in the sense, that I don’t feel pressure to write all the time. However, there are moments, I feel pressure to leave my social work job and give everything I have to my writing career. Then logic weighs in to remind me that I need a steady paycheck and health insurance. In the past year, I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some very lovely people, even famous ones. At times, I feel like I am in an ultra-marathon, with no clear finish line. I stop here and there to take breaks, refuel, share my joys and woes, but I continue. It is surprising who along the way continues to cheer me on and who, to my disappointment departed from my cheering section. Some of the departures were unexpected. They came after I refused to compromise my integrity and do professional favors or when I simply didn’t feel endorsing their child’s work was the right thing to do. I am new to this type of “ultra-marathon” within the publishing industry.

I’ve learned many lessons by trial and error, and I’ve discovered that growth makes you vulnerable. This sounds obvious, but I was surprised that the growing pains I’ve experienced often came as a result of being raw and open. Early on, I knew virtually no one within the business, and had very little guidance. I sought out others who I thought could provide direction. I didn’t need handholding 24/7, but checking in to bounce off ideas turned into uncomfortable conversations. I sensed jealously on their part, and later it was often confirmed. I know what you are thinking, that is their issue, not mine, but still it caused deep disappointment. I began to withdraw and follow my gut and pursue whatever opportunities I sensed were right. It ended up paying off. Long story short, I was personally introduced to Dr. Deepak Chopra. This was my version of a “runner’s high.” He is just as genuine and authentic as appears in his work.

Weeks later, after my meeting with Dr. Chopra, I had a series of conversations with another very successful business man. I met this individual through a writing assignment, which I did free of charge. Others criticized me for working for free, for cheapening “my craft,” and their comments gave me pause. Yet, something deep inside me told me it was the right thing to do. I was curious about the subject matter and pursued it. It ended up that I was introduced to this wildly successful and gentle soul. His guidance and friendship is priceless. During our conversations, I shared with him some of my earlier highs and lows. I knew he understood. He looked straight at me and said with all seriousness, “You should only be around people who lift you up and only let a few people into your inner (professional) circle.”

I knew that I needed to recheck my approach. My attitude towards my professional race so to speak mattered. This wasn’t anyone else’s ‘race,’ but mine. In many ways we all have our own races. We each have a goal line, a finish line that we strive to cross. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from journey:

1. Growth can make you vulnerable both emotionally and financially. People you know will offer you suggestions which in turn benefits them, and disguise it as help. This sounds severe, but I wish someone had told me. Don’t get me wrong, there are growth spurts which are exciting and helpful.

2. Re-examine your game plan. You may feel that your plan is solid and able to withstand the test of time, but as new challenges arise, you may need to readjust things. I’ve learned to have Plan B formulated as I am pursing Plan A. This helps because it won’t leave you feeling disorganized when things seem to fall apart.

3. Be aware of social poachers. Before this may have been someone that you invited to the party and next thing you know your babysitter is at their home every Saturday evening. The risks at this level were minimal. However, when it comes to your career, social poachers can do damage. They will scan your network, zone in on who they want to target and go after it. They may be even so slick as to have you introduce them to their target. You won’t know what happened until after the fact, and this will leave you feeling emotionally drained.

4. Be careful who you listen to especially if they can benefit from you in any financial aspect. We all have blind spots and when money is involved. We may think that person may be giving you genuine advice. However, these nuggets of wisdom can be tainted with dollar signs.

5. Don’t take things personally. This is very difficult for me at times because I want to believe that everyone has my best interest at hear,t and I want to believe their comments are constructive criticism. People will judge you and offer unsolicited advice. Follow your gut.

6. You are your own cheerleader. People often ask, “What is your brand — your label?” You are the best to decide this. It is you who is running this race. It is you who is having to stop, readjust, make decisions on the spot. You know your body, your brand the best. Only run each mile at a time. In other words, don’t try to live tomorrow today. “Listen to your body” is a phrase athletes are familiar with and it means that only you truly know when it it time to rest. Remember, rest prevents injuries.

7. Gratitude is the answer to nearly every question. I haven’t had a situation yet where I couldn’t apply gratitude. It is the great equalizer of the heart. It allows you remember what matters.

I’m running on, literally and figuratively. Like all runners those who continue to work on their core strength, they do the best. I’m pressing on and looking at this ultra-marathon as a gift. I’m in the best race of my life. I’m not competing with anyone but myself, and I’m even learning to dance along the way.

You can also read this story on The Huffington Post

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The Widow’s Guilt

When I started to write an upcoming book for widows with my co- author James Windell, I didn’t know quite what to expect. Sure, I was a young widow and talked about my own experience here but I hadn’t reached out to other widows. I quickly learned that no widow’s loss is exactly the same.

Nearly every day, you can read online about a tragedy in which a wife becomes a widow. You can see the look of despair on her face and sense the loss. When I talk with women who are recently widowed, one of the first things I’m asked is, “How did you get through it?” I have experienced this intense rawness that a new widow feels. I remember feeling like my world ended, desperate to find the one thing that would take away the hurt. The real problem is that there is no magic cure for grief.

I know the days following the funeral for widows are depressing. After my husband’s death, I remember coming home after work to complete silence. We had no children together, so there was no one to distract me. Those months following his death were in the midst of a Michigan winter. This meant it was dark by 6 p.m. and cold. Curled up with a blanket on the couch, I had the fantasy that I would quit my job, move to Hawaii and walk on the beach. It was, of course, just a fantasy. The cold reality was that I needed a job with health care benefits.

Nearly all of the widows James and I talked with report similar emotions: fear, anxiety, shock, loneliness, sadness and depression. There is no question that there are many challenges widows face, but the first challenge will relate to experiencing and coping with emotions. We also found that there is a difference in some of the emotional reactions based on how the husband died.

Widows whose husbands died as a result of substance abuse or an illness related to this also reported feeling guilt and shame. It is difficult because the widow often saw their spouse’s life deteriorate in a downward spiral. The widows often remarked that they tried various interventions throughout the marriage, only to feel, deep down, that their spouse lacked willpower to quit. The widows covered for his use, made excuses to others, and worst of all lied to herself.

When the widows discussed the cause of their husband’s death with others, they said they would often see a look in other’s eye that said, “What did you expect”? Sometimes, others had nothing positive to say about their spouse. One widows said, she asked a family member to make a few remarks at her husband’s funeral and was told, “I have nothing good to say. He was always a drunk to me.” Sensing judgement and criticism, widows often become more isolated.

This isolation led to depression. These widows would often ruminate on the past, wondering if they were somehow to blame for his substance abuse use. One widow admits that she gave up on her spouse and obtained a legal separation. She hoped this action would force him into treatment. Shortly after the separation, he died. She blamed herself for his death, feeling guilty for demanding the split, and thought he would be alive had they remained together. She sunk into a depression, and eventually at the urging of her family, entered into psychiatric treatment.

Coping with this type of guilt intertwined with grief is a heavy task, and there is nothing wrong with seeking licensed professional therapy. There are some others things that you can do to help with the guilt:

1. Give yourself grace — you deserve a pass. This is not a time to expect perfection from yourself.

2. Forgive yourself — if you can’t let go of everything, then, start with a few small things.

3. Seek non-judgemental support. This may be a trusted friend, a relative or member of a support group. You are already your own toughest critic. You need someone who is there to listen and love.

You can also read this article on The Huffington Post.

What People in Crisis Need

After writing The Moment I knew on The Huffington Post, I received some beautiful and empathetic emails from complete strangers to long lost friends. One friend, “A,” wrote me saying she “didn’t realize everything” I was going through and apologized for not calling me. Honestly, I couldn’t recall such a conversation.

However, this got me going back to the 2007 archives email folder, a time when I wasn’t on Facebook and didn’t text, but in “crisis mode” with my late husband. As I scrolled through this folder, I didn’t dare open certain emails, titled, “hospice, funeral arrangements,” knowing it would send me directly back into those painful moments. However, I did find this one email, not from friend “A.” Truthfully, I completely forgot I wrote it. It went something like this:

Me: Have a few hours to talk starting at one tomorrow.
Her: Oh, tomorrow — not good. At spa, no cell phones allowed. How about early next week?
Me: I’ll be at U of M (hospital). I’ll get back to you when I know more.

As soon as I reread this, I gritted my teeth, and eventually I deleted it. Looking back, it comes across as insensitive, but I know this person met no harm. When you are in a crisis you need help, but for many reasons it’s stressful to ask. Acknowledging the gravity of the situation and repeating the “story” is emotional. It’s as if you feel like you are talking under water and no one understands you. Coming up for air, while treading for water, you see your friends and family on boats looking down on you. Deep down, you want someone just to pull you out of the water, give you a towel, a hug and tell you, “everything is going to be okay. I love you.”

In reality, there are loved ones who truly care and are looking at you, but don’t know what to say or provide what you need. For all of you out there wanting to provide support, this is what people in crisis need:

1. Hug. Even if it’s brief, with no words. This is a tender, needed gesture.

2. Send a text, email, leave a voicemail but don’t expect a reply. Sometimes, the person is living moment to moment. Lost for words? Simply say, “I’m sorry this is happening. I love you.”

3. Small gestures are huge. I remember coming home late from the hospital to find a loaf of banana bread (with no note) by my door. Starving, I immediately cut into it, and I remember saying, “thank you” out loud.

4. Go out of your way to be helpful with actions (e.g., child care, meals), but don’t ask lots of questions. There’s a fine line of being nosy, wanting to know all of the intimate details, and being respectful of boundaries. When you genuinely want to support someone, your actions will reflect authenticity, and the receiver knows it’s sincere.

5. After time has passed, still offer support. Know that the person is still fragile. Several weeks, after the funeral, my friend put together a girls night, just her and I. She arranged wine, comfort food, a pedicure. It meant the world to me.

Emotional support makes difficult situations less stressful, and softens painful edges. It helps with healing and is never forgotten.

You can also read this article on the Huffington Post