I did it!

As of 9:58 this morning I am a certified Martha Beck Life Coach!

It’s been an amazing year and I’m so grateful to have found my way to this path. Thank you to everyone who allowed me to practice my tools with them. Thank you to all of you who have wished me well, referred me to friends and written wonderful testimonials! Thank you to my fellow life coach cadets who have joined me on the journey and are out there in the world doing wonderful work. Thank you to the Martha Beck Life Coach Training teachers and support staff who made this process so awesome. Thank you to my family, my in-laws, and my husband and son who have supported me every step of the way. And now for a pink drink! (Well, maybe not immediately, but at some point today!)

Brave does not equal Fearless

This summer I’ve had the opportunity to speak to a couple of groups of students about my book, The Secret Labyrinth.  The main character of the book, Halley Armstrong, is brave.  At one of the schools we talked about what it means to be brave and some of the brave things that each of the students had done. Some of the stories were pretty scary, from holding a (large) snake, to jumping off a roof into a pile of leaves (ouch), to speaking in front of your classmates (gulp). When we started discussing synonyms for brave a few of the students suggested fearless. 

I disagreed and here’s why. Being brave doesn’t mean that you aren’t afraid. It means that you ARE afraid and you choose to do it anyway.  If you’re fearless you don’t have to brave. If it doesn’t bother you to hold a big snake then you don’t have to be brave to do it. If you’re calm when you think about speaking in front of a room full of people, you do it and enjoy it, no bravery required. It’s the things that frighten us that require bravery.

My friend and fellow life coach, Sarah Curnoles, is running a 40 day challenge to help people face their fears. I haven’t fully participated but I have taken on some of her challenges and it’s been eye opening to notice how many things in my life require bravery. Some of the things don’t scare me at all and may be things I already do, like going somewhere alone. Others are really scary, like #11 Fail On Purpose or #17 Lie on the Floor of a Mall for 60 seconds (what?!)

I’m curious to learn about what you’re afraid of. Sometimes our biggest dreams are what scare us the most. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough, all of those fears can prevent us from doing what we really want to do.

If you’re letting your fears stop you, maybe I can help. I’m not saying I can make the fear go away, but by using some of the tools I’ve learned I can help you find your own inner bravery.

Be BRAVE, not fearless. Your dreams will thank you!


What Lights You Up?


The first time my mentor, Natasha Reilly, asked me this question I was stumped! It wasn’t something I spent a lot of time thinking about. I’d been plugging away at being a mom, being a teacher, being a wife, wearing a multitude of “hats”, but I hadn’t been doing much for myself.  That question opened things up for me in ways I couldn’t have imagined at the time. I started looking around with new eyes. What DID light me up? What brought me joy?

I had a little journal I’d been carrying in my purse and I started using it to keep track of the things that brought me joy each day and also the things that drained me. Looking back at it now I can see that the things that brought me joy still do and there are more of them in my life.  The things that drained me still do, and there are fewer of those things in my life.Often the joyful things were very simple; walking a nearby labyrinth, really seeing a snail, petting my cat, reading Women Who Run With the Wolves, doing yoga outside in the park, hopping from rock to rock with my son, watching Grimm with my husband, eating almond pancakes. The things that drained me  included volunteering for a PTA event that didn’t feel comfortable, worrying about not having enough money when I quit my job, and yelling at my son to stop doing things that he does almost unconsciously.In the past three years I’ve continued to add to my JOY list. Hiking, belly dancing, painting and writing have all brought me an amazing amount of joy. Enrolling in the Martha Beck Life Coach Training and becoming a coach has brought me joy. One of my favorite parts of being a coach is helping my clients discover what brings them joy and finding ways of weaving that into their lives.  Of course we also work together on reducing the draining stuff and the painful beliefs, which can open up more room for joy in your life.

So, now ask yourself the same questions.

  • What lights you up like a Christmas tree?
  • What brings you joy?
  • What makes you feel young again?

What would happen if you tracked it for a few days with the intention of actively including more joy in your life? If it feels like there’s something stopping you, feel free to reach out for some coaching around it. The first session is complimentary and it would bring me joy to work with you!


The Gift of Being a Beginner

In the interest of being a beginner I’m going to share a story about roofing with you. Why roofing? Read on!

When my mother-in-law first mentioned that she wanted to replace the roof of the wishing well that has graced her front lawn for over 50 years I was excited. I like working with my hands and it seemed like it would be a fun project. How hard could it be?  I arrived one morning, bright and early, with my hammer and hat and got to work tearing off the old roof.  Likewise, when I first decided to sign up for life coach training I was excited and enthusiastic. How hard could it be?

I was a little unsteady on the step ladder and really had to reach for the top row of cedar shingles. My father-in-law came out and offered some of his tools, including a couple of crowbars and some nail pullers. By the end of the first day I had filled two large garbage cans with deteriorated shingles and was feeling a great sense of accomplishment. I took pictures as I demolished the roof so that I would know how to put it all back together. After my first couple of life coach classes I was feeling pretty good about it. There was a lot of material to learn but I knew I could do it.

That night I fell asleep, tired and happy. I woke a few hours later in a panic. What the hell had I done? I didn’t know how to build a roof! I didn’t know what materials I would need or how I was going to get huge sheets of plywood up on the roof or really anything about roofing! I had jokingly told my father-in-law that I would look it up on YouTube but now I realized that I might have bitten off way more than I could chew.  I finally fell back asleep and the next day started doing some research. Home Depot looked like a good place to start. After a few sessions of watching videos and listening to the Master Life Coaches we were invited to start practicing with one another. I panicked. The first time I tried to speak on a group call my heart was pounding so hard I thought I might pass out. What the hell had I done? I had no idea how to be a life coach!

I found a couple of useful articles and printed them out. I was able to calculate approximately how many shingles I would need to replace the ones I’d torn off. I spent some time on hold with the wonderful folks at Home Depot and both times I was ready to place an order for shingles and plywood for delivery I managed to hang up the phone with my chin. Instead of spending more time on hold I decided to wait. We weren’t ready for the materials yet anyhow. We were assigned to small groups of four people to practice together. The other three women in my group were bright, funny, empathetic and willing to make mistakes and learn from one another. I began to feel like maybe I could do this after all.

When I went back to work the following week my father-in-law came out to look at the plywood that was under the tar paper and realized that a lot of it could be re-used. That was a relief! We spent some time cutting a piece of plywood that he’d been saving since my husband was a young boy and they had dismantled his bunk bed.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! And don’t tear something apart that doesn’t need to be torn apart! My one attempt at using a circular saw while standing on a step ladder could be seen either as a failure (the saw kicked back out of the plywood) or a success (I still have all ten fingers and both arms).  All this practice was beginning to have an effect! I gained some confidence as I listened to the other coach trainees (or cadets as we are fondly called). We had a wonderful Master Coach, Bev Barnes, who led our first practicum and she encouraged us to use the tools we were learning and gently helped us through the rough bits. I coached in front of the other 12 or so cadets on the line and emerged with all my fingers intact.

The next stage of the project involved finding out why the roof was slanted at an odd angle on one end of the wishing well.  After emptying the base of the wishing well, we realized that the bottoms of the 4 x 4 beams that were holding up the roof had been destroyed by termites. Instead of tearing them out completely we were able to shore them up using 2 x 4s and some ingenuity on the part of my father-in-law. More tools were brought out, jacks to prop everything up, a level to make sure that each side was the height, a drill for screwing in the 2 x 4s. I was feeling more comfortable with the tools by now and had also remembered how much I used to enjoy working with my own father when I was young.  I was able to choose the right tool for the job, including chisels, wire cutters for pulling nails, and found out the best way to remove wet tar from skin is with WD-40! By the end of the second practicum we had learned more life coaching methods and it felt more natural to apply them. I was spending less time worrying about “doing it right” and more time helping the people I was coaching.

Once everything was level we placed more tar paper (also known as roofing felt) over the plywood and nailed it down. I started out with my heavy wooden handled hammer then switched to a lighter weight hammer. I got into the rhythm, eventually getting to the point where I could get a nail flush with the roof with 7 bangs.  It felt pretty good although later that night my right hand hurt so much I skipped my yoga class! At the end of the second practicum we were told we could start practicing with “civilians”, people who weren’t in the coach training with us. I reached out to a couple of people I knew and  they agreed to be my guinea pigs. I practiced the tools that we had learned and it gradually got easier.

Before the next working day I went to pick up the new shingles at Home Depot.  While I was there I also bought some sky blue paint for my front porch ceiling and had a nice chat with a gentleman who was visiting from Ohio and doing volunteer repairs at a church in Miami. He was encouraging about my roofing project. I was feeling confident that I could do it. In December I started telling others about what I was doing, just chatting and offering to help. I wasn’t so self-conscious about it as I had been when I first started out. I was gaining some confidence but still felt shy about telling people I was a life coach.

After a false start where I had to tear off the top of a double row of shingles that had been matched up instead of staggered, I got into the rhythm of nailing on the new shingles.  They were all different sizes and some had knots or holes in them and weren’t able to be used. We stopped at 3:00 so I could pick up my son from school, just before completing the top row.  I continued to coach friends, relatives, acquaintances, and other coaches. Some people I only coached once. It’s not always a good match.  I’ve coached others weekly and we’ve made real progress. I love the feeling of being “in flow” that comes sometimes when I’m coaching and I feel energized and happy when I finish a session.

On Saturday I got a call from my father-in-law that he was going to finish putting on the metal cap and the last row of shingles. My mother-in-law was due back from Chicago on Sunday and he wanted to have the project finished. While at first I felt disappointed that I wasn’t there to see it completed I realized that I’d done what I needed to do and could let it go. As my clients learn how to apply the tools to their own lives they don’t need me to be there for them, they can complete the work themselves. And I can offer my services to someone else who needs some help getting started.

We had a great group coaching session today with Master Coach Jackie Gartman. She invited us to give ourselves the gift of being a beginner. What this means for me is that instead of feeling the need to be a “perfect coach” (whatever that means!), that we instead allow ourselves to be beginners and to enjoy it. If you’re interested in being a beginner with me, please contact me about coaching (or roofing!) I’d love to tell you more!




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