Fly on the Wall: Inside a Recent Coaching Session

Today I’m sharing a snapshot of a coaching session. (Client’s name is changed and permission has been given to share this.)

Veronica was feeling dissatisfied and judgmental about her daughter, and also about herself for being judgmental. 

“My daughter is doing it all wrong- how she is living her life, how she treats her husband. She’s not going to get what she wants. I can’t help her- when I try, or rather, when I can’t stop myself from trying to control or fix her- I make everything worse. I do it all wrong, and she pushes me away. That’s really frustrating.”

We talked about this and Veronica noticed that when she is focused on the idea that her daughter is “doing it all wrong” she feels compelled to insert herself into her daughter’s life- and then ends up “doing it all wrong” herself. 

We considered whether her daughter really is doing it all wrong. Is it true? And can we know that the daughter is not going to get what she wants? Is it possible that how she is with her husband is the way it needs to be for her, for them, right now? 

It’s okay that Veronica has judgmental and worried thoughts; she’s a mom, she cares about her kids, and sometimes thoughts like these pop up. But it is also worthwhile to question them, and ask what comes out of focusing on them. In this case, frustration, judgment of herself and her daughter, and ultimately, her daughter pushing her away.

I asked if there are other thoughts Veronica has about her daughter that we could put out on the table and look at.  “Sure,” she said. “She has a good job, plus she manages her ranch and all the animals… she is actually doing a good job at doing her life. And, I only hear what she chooses to tell me, I don’t really know what happens inside her marriage.”

It’s clear that Veronica has a variety of thoughts about her daughter. Some positive, some negative, some neutral. All of them are believable and available thoughts that she can chose to focus on.

I asked: when you choose to think “she is doing a good job at doing her life,” how does that feel?  Veronica: “I admire her. I  don’t feel the need to fix anything. I can listen to her concerns and be supportive and empathetic. That feels so much better, and is the kind of mom I want to be to her.”

And that is the kind of mom Veronica is becoming, day by day, thought by thought.

Life Coaching: Creating a More Intentional Life

I was recently asked to describe life coaching- what it is, who its for, what we do in coaching sessions. 

The way I think of it: it’s for anyone who has an issue or goal to work on, or who wants to be more effective, enjoy life more, be happier, set and reach goals, improve their relationships. To replace bad habits with those that serve you. To get better at solving problems and making decisions. To turn worry, judgement and overwhelm into positive action. To have less drama and more fun. To get unstuck. 

Basically to take on your life in a more intentional way.

And always, with curiosity and compassion. 

Coaching sessions are an opportunity to look at your life- what’s working and what’s not- with another set of eyes, from another perspective. To decide what you want for yourself, and then make that happen. 

The first step is understanding how you got where you are now. Like every other human being, you meet each moment from within your own unique perspective and history and belief structure. 

As you meet each situation, each interaction with another person, you engage with it: you have thoughts and opinions, emotions arise and you behave in certain ways. Through this engagement, you create new situations, new results. 

This is an ongoing process of constantly creating your life experience. Which is always happening, whether you are aware of it or not.

The second step is: how do you use knowledge of this process to stop fighting with your spouse, lose weight for good, or stop worrying about your kids or your business? (Or whatever else doesn’t feel right in your world.)

Well, you have all kinds of options when it comes to how you meet the world, whether it be your husband, your dinner, your kids or your business we’re talking about. So that is where we start. We identify what needs to change to get you where you want to be. We make a plan. We tailor it to you and your situation. 

Each week you expand your understanding of yourself, of what you want, of how to make that a reality. You apply what you learn. You begin to see evidence of improved relationships, habits, health, emotions. You build up awareness, skills and resources. You feel confident and empowered. 

You are creating the life you want, on purpose.

I coach clients on their relationships with their adult kids, on creating a meaningful life, on their businesses or a career change, on weight loss, self confidence, grief, infertility, marital issues, artist block, worries about our country and about the pandemic. You name it. 

The common thread is learning to see your blind spots, understanding where your power is and how to use it effectively to create the life you want.

p.s. Photo: me, with rutabaga, living my (mostly) intentional life.

On The House!

I am really good at saying NO to this free offer and that free course. I generally like to keep my life simple, and minimize the inputs coming at me. I’m a big unsubscriber.

But recently…

I was talking to a friend who mentioned a meditation teacher and author she liked, and I jotted the name down. I looked up the teacher, really liked her and was drawn to her approach. I clicked a button and signed up for a free five day course.

Around the same time, I heard from a friend who I’d met at a dance class years ago. She wanted to let me know that this dance studio now has a subscription website of classes, and the first month is free.

Then I found myself signing up for a friend’s coaching webinar on “loving your ugly,” a class  for therapists and coaches on the importance of working with a client’s hope, and a course on running Facebook ads. The first two were great, and the ad course is coming up…

I started my day dancing goofily and joyfully around the living room. I am about to listen to a talk on joy and gratitude, with a guided meditation, and then head to bed.

I am loving this. And feeling gratitude for all these good folks sharing their wisdom and expertise with the rest of us. 

Here is what I’m thinking: I have that one last course coming up, and then I will be running new, amazingly effective ads for my coaching program. 

Now seems like a great time to put out an offer for free coaching to all of you, before I am deluged with all those new clients.

My coaching practice focuses on empty nest moms and those working to improve their relationships with their grown kids. In reality, I work with clients on anything and everything getting in their way of doing and being all they want, and feeling great about their life.

How I see it: your challenges are unique to you- so your solutions and the path to them will be uniquely yours as well. My role is to help you uncover that path. We solve your specific problems, and do so in a way that opens you up to yourself in so many ways.

So, my free offer to you: three coaching sessions, on the house. No bullshit, no sales pitch. From anywhere, as long as you have a computer or phone. Schedule now, before the deluge. Offer good until I pull it! 

Update September 7, 2020: Happy Labor Day All! Thank you to all who responded to this offer for On The House coaching. This offer has now ended. Back to regular programming: schedule a free 30 minute consultation and let’s talk about where you’re at, where you want to be, and how we can get you there! Schedule Now

Life Coaching Session Snippet #2 (composite, fictionalized)

Client says of daughter: I know she’s technically an adult now, but I still worry. I just want to make sure she is okay.

Coach: I hear this a lot from parents with grown kids, and as a parent,  I can relate. A lot of people would say this is how a caring parent should feel, and that you’ll always feel this way about your kids, however old they are. But worry never feels good, so lets look at this a little closer. When you think this about your daughter: “I just want to make sure she is okay,” how do you feel? 

Client: worried, protective…

Coach: and when you’re worried and feeling protective about her, how do you act, what do you do? 

Client: I go over all the things that can go wrong, ways she can be hurt or make bad choices or be unhappy… I talk to my husband and my friends and my mom a lot about my concerns. When I call my daughter I feel like I am always listening for hints that she is either doing well- then I’ll feel better!- or that she is having a hard time- which upsets me. I do try not to give advice as I know that irritates her, but sometimes I can’t help myself. It’s so hard to be relaxed and have an easy conversation- or to feel close like I wish we were.

Coach: Seems like that innocent sounding thought, of just wanting to know she’s okay, leads you to act in ways that don’t really help you or your daughter or your relationship. 

Client: yeah- it’s like I’m not trusting her with her life- and she totally feels it. I’ve never said that to her, and I don’t really think that, or at least, I don’t want to think that about her.

Coach: how do you want to think about her?

Client: that she is learning… I know she is smart and can figure stuff out when she needs to. 

Coach: so does this thought feel different than the first one? how do you feel thinking “I know she’s smart and can figure stuff out”?

Client: yeah, much better. It feels much more calming, and I feel proud of her…

Coach: so how do you think you’d act if you chose to think that thought, and felt calm and proud of her?

Client: hmmm… I’d be more relaxed around her, less apt to fuss at her or pry. I think I’d still be interested in her life, but more like wondering how she sees her life, how she is negotiating being on her own, what she finds challenging or exciting… I am realizing how little I have asked her her thoughts lately, because I’ve been wanting to impart my parental view, make sure she doesn’t make any mistakes. 

Coach: Changing your thought about your daughter led to a very different outcome in how you’d show up around her. What do you think the result would be in your relationship with her if you could think that thought consistently?

Client: I think it would be so much better. No wonder I haven’t felt close to her- I haven’t let myself really see her for who she is, and who she is becoming. It’s an exciting time for her, but I have been only looking for the dangers and problems. It feels good to think about her as competent and learning new skills. To have faith in her. I think if I have that image of her when I am with her, our relationship will improve. In any case, I know I’ll feel better being around her, and probably be less weird and irritating!

(FREE) Coaching For Everyone!

I am pleased to offer free coaching during this strange and uncertain time we find ourselves in. 

Now through May, until my schedule fills up, I am offering to everyone: three 50-minute sessions at no charge.

We are in new territory, with this pandemic. Besides all the usual stuff that has us feeling stuck, uncertain, fear, confused, resentful, unmotivated, self doubting, angry, etc… now we have a whole new layer of things to think about and deal with. 

For some, that may mean loss of work, financial hardship, strained relationships. For many, isolation, uncertainty, worry and fear. For others, the virus has arrived, and you or your loved ones have become ill. Every day the landscape changes.

Whether we are facing everyday concerns or death or the possibility of death, we still are humans figuring out how to meet life as it presents itself to us. In all cases, at all times, there is choice. There is the possibility of grace, of growth, of opening our hearts and our minds.

We all truly are in this together and people are pulling together in ways that amaze and inspire me. So, as a life coach, I am grateful to offer what I can: life coaching for you, life coaching for everybody, at no charge.

Not sure what that means? Like all the coaches I know, I get coached regularly. Here is what coaching means to me:

  • having access to an intelligent, objective, outside-my-own-head perspective
  • having someone to help me think about my life, sort out the dilemmas, cut through the noise and confusion
  • being asked incisive questions that make me think in new ways
  • a safe, respectful and loving place to consider anything- from philosophical/spiritual questions to the practical and mundane- and everything in between
  • a commitment to my self awareness and self development
  • learning how to value and love myself
  • learning to take responsibility for everything in my life

Sign up and schedule your free coaching sessions here:

Let’s see what we can make of this time, together.

Staying Informed, Keeping Sane

I’ve been consciously working on finding a balance between staying informed about our national politics and keeping myself sane.

Last night before getting ready for bed, I checked my facebook page. I clicked open an article about current political disinformation campaigns. I sensed it was a bad time to do so, but I read it anyway as I flossed my teeth.

Angry, dire and judgmental thoughts flooded my head as I went on to brush my teeth, wash my face and push the button on my alarm clock. I slipped into bed and lay there, feeling a tide of panic and despair. I tried to recall more balanced, rational thoughts. Soothing thoughts that might allow me to at least set my concerns aside until morning, but they couldn’t find purchase in the clamor going on in my head. 

Self judgment joined the din: why did I need to check Facebook at eleven pm? why did I click open that article, which I knew would rile me up? And then my inability to coach myself, to talk myself down.  

On and on. One am, one thirty. Thoughts of the alarm going off at six, with no hope of sleep in sight, panic rising. 

I thought of the Ann Patchett novel next to me on the bedside table. A book light next to it. Would that help? And would I be proving my inability to self coach?

I remembered a story a teacher of mine told: a car at the top of a hill, parking brake failing. The slight possibility that one could, if noticed right away, use physical force to hold it back before it began to roll, or maybe jump into the car and get control of it before got going. But that once that car got moving the momentum would cause it to pick up speed and the best thing to do at that point would be to wait til it got the the bottom of the hill, or hit something that would stop it. The wisest thing would be to get out of the way, knowing it will eventually come to a standstill, and then assess and deal with the consequences.

I felt around in the dark for my book and clip on book light. The story diverted my attention and eventually gratefully I clicked off the light, slipped the bookmark between the pages and rolled over to get some sleep. When the alarm went off at six, I turned it off and slept until nine. 

In the morning I assessed the damage: I slept through Zumba class. 

What I gained: a reminder to listen to my gut, a renewed commitment to calm evenings and the value of good sleep. And a reminder for a compassionate approach to self coaching- it’s not a contest, it’s just a tool to be used when helpful and practical. 

In the light of morning, I was able to think about the article I’d read online with less anger, less despair. I recommitted to compassion, as well as truth and integrity. I recommitted to my faith in humans and the human experience. I felt clear and calm. Mind and heart open and engaged.

Staying informed, keeping sane.

Credit: Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

A Big Hairy Looking Decision is Still Just a Decision

The other day one of my clients had a dilemma. She was at a fork in the road and neither path looked good. She stood at that wide spot in the road and told me why that direction was a bad idea, and the other was a terrible option. 

For a moment I stood there with her and was caught up in the impossibility of the situation. It looked like a mess! While I was caught up in it, I felt just as muddled as she sounded. While I bought into the impossibility of her situation, the best I’d be able to offer would be sympathy.

Sympathy may sound nice, but it doesn’t bring clarity. It doesn’t offer a new perspective. Nobody learns anything. A dilemma stays a dilemma.

So, fortunately for me and for her, I woke up out of my muddle. I remembered: my client has a decision to make. And I know about decision making, and indecision. I know about dilemmas, when we feel like there is no way out. I know how we can feel muddled and stuck. Frozen in inaction. Like I did before I woke up! 

Here are a few things that may help you get unstuck the next time you feel caught in a dilemma, as they did for my client.

Remember that even a big hairy looking decision is still just a decision, like any other, and all the following ideas are still applicable.

We learn nothing as long as we stay put and tell ourselves that there are no good options.

Instead, set aside assumptions, be curious, and go on a fact-finding mission:

  • get paper and pen, and list the obvious options, then ask: what else? what am I missing? is there another path I am not seeing?
  • mentally take a walk down each path and explore it with an open mind
  • write down the pros, cons, feelings, concerns, dangers, mitigating factors, likely results 
  • ask if any relevant information is missing and go get it
  • for each option, ask: if I chose this path, what would my reason be? Do I like my reason?

By this time you should have a good feel for what you want to do, and why. Here is something important to know: there are no right or wrong decisions. There’s only whether you stand by it, or whether you second guess yourself and doubt your decision. 

I take it back that there are no right or wrong decisions: here’s one that is always right: deciding to have your own back. 

Why Your Kids Don’t Text You Back

Here’s a question I hear a lot, from moms with kids away at college:

Why can’t s/he just text me back? 

Sometimes followed by: I sent her three texts today and she hasn’t replied to any of them! 

Or: he knows how I worry when I don’t hear back.

I can’t answer the question exactly, but I’ll take a stab at it:

She’s in class and has her phone off.

He’s late to meet friends for lunch and is running across campus.

She’s in the library, reading a novel for her American Lit class.

He is doing research for a history paper.

She’s sleeping in as she was up all night with a friend who’s having a hard time.

She is worried about her midterms next week and doesn’t feel like talking.

He is typing up his Geography notes.

She’s trying to figure out her schedule for next semester.

He’s in his Sociology professor office, discussing today’s class.

He’s struggling with a math problem.

She’s working on ideas for her business marketing class project.

S/he forgot to charge her phone.

He’s going for a run.

She is getting dressed to go out with her roommates. 

She’s looking for the R.A. because she locked her keys in her room.

In other words, they’re busy. Even if it’s busy hanging out with friends having a beer. They will get back to you when they have time, when they feel moved to, when they have something to say. 

Moms, I know you love them and are thinking about them and want to stay connected. Your kids know that too. And by not replying to every text, they are saying, as gently as they can: okay, Mom, that’s too much. I love you, but I need to be me, outside of who I am to you right now.

Your kids are creating their lives, independent of their family. Making new connections. It’s hard, it’s exciting, it takes focus… and it’s important. It’s healthy and appropriate.

What’s healthy and appropriate for you is to take care of yourself. Your thoughts, your feelings, your worries, your needs. 

And for you to live your own life. This is a perfect time for you to be redirecting all that wonderful loving mama-attention toward yourself. 

If you need ideas or support, I’ve got you. Click here to schedule a free, introductory, 30 minute call with me.

Thanks, Coach!

I was like a little kid who was mad at the world, kicking at the dirt. Throwing rocks. Finding excuses, pointing fingers, resenting others who I thought had achieved what I wanted so badly.

I was talking to my life coach; she listened for awhile, and asked questions. 

I told her I was about to give up, to walk away from a goal I’d been working toward for two years. It wasn’t happening the way I thought it should. I thought I should be further along. 

As we talked and I answered her questions I realized that underneath my resentment and blame were some very painful thoughts: 

I must not have what it takes to succeed. 

I’m not smart enough, I don’t have enough grit, 

I’m not disciplined enough.

You know that feeling, like a dam breaking, that tells you when you hit on something? The dam broke when I uncovered those thoughts. (Read: lots of tears.) It felt terrible. I felt heartbroken. If I believed those thoughts were true I would have to give up something that I loved, something that represented to me my highest self.

By lashing out at the world, I had been avoiding looking inward.

But when I did look, after the waterworks subsided, I realized that I didn’t believe those disturbing thoughts. Or maybe a little, but certainly not completely. I knew I had learned and accomplished and created so much already. I was well on my way toward my goal… just maybe not as fast as I had expected. 

What is the truth here? Neither: all these are subjective thoughts, opinions I could have about myself.

But let’s look at what happens when I choose to believe, even if unconsciously, that I must not have what it takes to succeed- not enough smarts, determination and discipline. I feel terrible, heartbroken. And then, fueled by that feeling: I blame and resent others, look for excuses, don’t work to figure out the hard stuff I need to master, I avoid coaching myself on my thoughts, and I want to give up. Basically, I kick dirt and throw rocks. 

Can you guess what the result of all that is? The result that originated with my “not good enough” thought? I am not using all I have- all my smarts, determination and discipline- that I need to succeed.

Now that is something I have complete control over! And it starts with choosing different thoughts.

What if instead, I consciously think these thoughts? I’m well on my way. I’m learning and growing every day. I’m creating something new, something valuable, out of my love, vision and dedication.

When Life Feels Too Hard

In my recent posts I have been writing about “indulgent emotions”: worry, confusion, self doubt, overwhelm and guilt. These are emotions can take us down the rabbit hole if we let them, so I recommend keeping your wits about you when they come calling. Listen to them, question them, see what there is to learn from them.

Then, once this message from your psyche is received, firmly step away from the rest of the wrappings and trappings, and go take care of what you need to take care of.

There is one more in this bunch of “red flag” or “indulgent” emotions I want to talk with you about: self-pity. Feeling sorry for ourselves. We all find ourselves in it at times. We recognize self pity in others, probably more readily than in ourselves.

Here’s the deal. Our feelings are always generated by a thought- or belief, which is just a thought that we have practiced for such a long time that it has come to seem so true and obvious that we rarely stop to question it. But a belief, like any thought, is optional. And is only as “true” as we make it in our lives, by finding and creating evidence to support it.

When we find ourselves feeling sorry for ourselves, the thought behind that feeling is usually something like this:

  • my life is so hard
  • it’s not fair
  • no one helps me
  • no one cares about me
  • why does it always have to be me
  • there is too much for me to do, to take care of
  • I’m tired of all the bad luck, difficulties, obstacles in my life
  • I don’t want to deal with it
  • I’m exhausted

When we are in the middle of this kind of thinking, when we focus on thoughts like this, and believe them, we want sympathy and help. We want to curl up and have someone take care of us, and make our troubles disappear. We just want relief.

This is normal. We can have compassion for ourselves when we feel this way.

But do you see that it is not a healthy place to linger? Do you see how we can acclimate ourselves to this kind of thinking, and then from a place of self pity, become disempowered and disinclined to take a look at what is going on in our lives that we may want to change or deal with or approach differently?

When we indulge in feeling sorry for ourselves, we give away our own power to outside forces: other people, bad luck, life itself. We feel ourselves at the mercy of these outside forces. We throw up our hands.

What if instead, we considered thoughts like these:

  • my life feels hard right now, and that’s okay
  • I’ve done hard things before and I can do this too
  • I am open to new ways of looking at life
  • what if it isn’t as bad as I have been thinking?
  • could I go about this in another way?
  • what if there is something in all this I can learn?
  • what if there is something in all this I can enjoy?
  • how do I want to feel about my life?
  • what would I need to be thinking to generate that feeling?
  • what if I decided that my life is perfect at this moment?
  • what do I want to make of my life?
  • how can I take charge of my life, and my thoughts and feelings?

It is possible to manage our thoughts so that they serve us, empower us, and don’t suck us down into self pity. We can learn to tell a good story about ourselves and our lives that we love, and chose to believe in, make happen, and thrive living into. We can get ourselves there with awareness, intention, a little bit of work, and a lot of love and compassion for ourselves.

xox Katy

p.s. If you would like help with this challenge, or any other facing you, I would be honored to be a guide and support for your journey. Click here to schedule a free thirty minute consultation:

We’ll talk, do some coaching, and you can decide whether coaching would benefit you.