Have you ever looked at someone and wondered about their life experiences and how those experiences shaped them? I do this all the time. What we see externally does not fully represent the depth of who we are.


Over the years, this curiosity has led me to understand that no one’s life is easy. We are all presented with ongoing challenges and misfortunes that shape who we are and offer opportunities for growth.


The opportunity for growth is something I prefer to focus on whenever one of life’s hard knocks pierces my world. After the requisite twenty-four hours of feeling sorry for myself becomes tiresome, I get a grip on myself and begin to get curious as to why this is happening; at this point I ask, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”


When I get curious about what I am supposed to learn in the midst of chaos; I find that the journey not only becomes a bit easier, it also becomes more meaningful and engaging. I’ve discovered that it takes me out of the position of being a victim and squarely into the position of being a co-creator of my experiences. Life itself may thrust upon me circumstances that are out of my control, such as a tornado sweeping through; but how I respond to those circumstances is entirely my choice.


Another way of thinking of it is to see myself as the protagonist in the story of my own life. This shift is empowering because it helps me take charge of my life and how I wish to experience it.


Recently, I watched a documentary on Mark Twain and discovered that while his life was filled with much joy, it was also filled with many tragic events that could have easily shattered his soul. What stood out for me is that throughout his trials and tribulations he never lost his sense of humor; in fact, he chose to develop his ingenious wit and innate talent for storytelling and share it with others through his writing and public speaking. His insatiable curiosity about life and its meaning fueled his creative abilities and ultimately produced his incomparable body of work.


Mark Twain believed that the ideal book would have no order in it, leaving the reader to discover his/her own. He recognized that life presents us with hardships that create the chapters of our journey, but how we embrace and interpret those occurrences shapes who we are.


This sentiment is echoed in a quote from his autobiography:


“We recognize that there are no trivial occurrences in life if we get the right focus on them.”

~ Mark Twain


Get curious about all occurrences in your life—-what they mean for you and how you wish to have your story unfold.


“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”  ~ Joseph Campbell

Vulnerability is something I am drawn to in others because I understand it and know that when they are feeling their most vulnerable, that their greatest strengths are sitting right there beside them waiting for this exact opening to come through.

It’s through your vulnerability that you discover your greatest strengths and that leads you to your highest potential. I respect vulnerability and the people who have the courage to show it.

So what is vulnerability? To me, it is the ability to feel everything you feel and express it knowing that you may be rejected or humiliated. It is the ultimate act of courage. It is showing up and being who are, even though you feel the need to shield your true nature in order to be accepted. It is feeling the fear, but knowing that sharing your truth is paramount to your well-being… and accepting the consequences of how others respond to your truth; it is the most empowering act we can do for ourselves.

When others have the courage to show their vulnerability it is a great connector because instantly we look at them and know exactly how it feels to be vulnerable. We feel closer to others when we recognize their emotions and the fear beneath them. Vulnerability disintegrates the walls that separate us, and reminds us that we are all one, and energetically connected.

An example of finding our greatest strengths through our vulnerability is Oprah Winfrey. When I first started watching Oprah it became clear to me that she connected with her audience so well because she allowed herself to be vulnerable. I remember watching her and understanding that she had the ability to feel what her audience was going through (empathy) because she had been through many of the same things. And she had the courage to share her vulnerabilities, and trust that she would be accepted… this is the ultimate moment of empowerment.

A caveat to expressing your vulnerability is that it is important to know your audience and the people who can appreciate your vulnerability because there will always be people who turn away from vulnerability in others. Many people hold the misconception that vulnerability is a sign of weakness, but in truth it is the precipice of strength. My feeling is that it is because they cannot value and accept it in themselves. If you are expecting everyone to accept your vulnerability with open arms, you will be disappointed. The optimal reason to embrace and express your vulnerability is to strip away that which does not serve your truth and higher purpose.

Just know that when vulnerability emerges within you and you feel the urge to dismiss it, that you are actually at the threshold of discovering your greatest strengths; and an opening to your higher potential. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”


What Does a Life Coach Do?

“We need people to be able to share our weaknesses with—as well as our strengths—and without shame.”  Caroline Myss

I have this inner struggle to explain, and maybe even justify, what it is I do as a life coach. That elevator speech that’s supposed to roll off your tongue and over yours lips never seemed quite right to me. On any given day it changed, and oftentimes, it was with an apologetic explanation that left me feeling like what I had to offer was ridiculous, unnecessary and unimportant. Naturally, it follows that if I felt that way, then down inside I thought what I was doing was irrelevant and not needed.

Why did I bother with this occupation that I sometimes feel is ridiculed and dismissed by so many people? The answer is simple—because I’ve seen the difference it has made in others’ lives. I’ve seen people engage in the world in new and meaningful ways. I’ve seen them tap into what was once unused energy and potential, and develop parts of themselves they never knew existed.

Having said that, I still continued to doubt that what I have to offer truly mattered and had value; then I saw this quote from Caroline Myss, and in an instant everything changed for me. She gave me a bona fide understanding of what I do and affirmed that it is very much needed.

For the most part, I believe we tend to relate to the world with the hopes that everyone sees only our strengths—even if we are not quite sure what they are at times. We want to be seen in a positive light and valued for who we are. We are seeking connection and acceptance. This is an honorable goal and one which we all hope to attain, but many times it is thwarted by our own disconnection and lack of acceptance of ourselves. We readily accept and honor our strengths because we see them as positive, while we shirk acceptance of our “so-called” weaknesses. Whenever we try to hide something about ourselves that we perceive as negative, we create shame. Shame is a weight we carry that keeps us from recognizing all that we are, and all that we have to offer. We are prone to view ourselves as a mix of positive and negative qualities. And hope that the negative qualities are not seen by the outside world.

Let’s look at our perceived positive and negative qualities in a different way. Think of a magnet… no matter what type of magnet, the opposite poles always attract. The opposing poles are drawn together and can be magnetized to form one cohesive magnet. When we view our opposing qualities in this manner, it becomes clear that making the connection we are seeking is acquired by accepting every aspect of ourselves and allowing them to form and unite as a whole; thereby, transforming the shame that arises when we remain disconnected.

Bridging the disconnection and magnetizing those parts of ourselves we oppose, is a necessary journey we all take. It’s an ongoing process that I have come to revere. I can only imagine the difference it would make in the lives of others, if they knew they had someone to share their weaknesses, as well as their strengths—and without shame. That’s what life coaching does, it gives you the experience of making that connection, and knowing that the acceptance you are seeking is not only possible, it’s necessary.

Take Your Cues from Nature

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
~Albert Einstein

Many years ago, I took a drawing class and one of the first assignments given by the professor was to just start paying attention to nature. There was an upcoming project which required us to draw a tree. At the time, I thought this was something I was strictly doing for the sake of art in order to help me develop my drawing technique. What I came to understand was that paying attention to nature provided a deeper level of understanding and wisdom to my life in general.

This particular class was conducted in autumn while the leaves were changing colors and the days were getting shorter. I began to notice the beauty of the trees and how no two trees were exactly alike. Their branches reached outward and upward, and grew in a pattern that was unique to each one. Because it was autumn, it was also evident that the leaves were changing colors and beginning to fall to the ground.

As the weeks moved forward, I found myself not only paying attention to the trees, but nature in general. I watched the clouds roll in and out as the day progressed. There were days of beautiful sunshine and days in which the sun was masked by the clouds. The rain would move in and sometimes there were violent storms; the wind would whip through, but eventually dissipate. I noticed that the weather constantly changed and we were not always given advance notice as to when or how it would happen. I reflected on the fact that we did not have control over the weather, but we accepted what came our way; we did not allow it to prevent us from moving forward in our lives. We just had to allow nature to take its natural course, pass through our physical world, and process the effects of it once it passed.

As I was paying attention to nature, I began to notice that nature reflected my own life, and how I could take my cues from nature. I noticed that just as hail storms can move through and create physical damage to our homes and cars, so can our anger move through us and create emotional and physical damage.

Nature reflects the cycles of birth and death. There are waves of storms and of calmness, sunshine and gloom. Our emotions roll in and wash through us, just as the clouds roll in and out. Just as the seasons change and transform, we do too. When we resist those changes, we resist our natural evolution of growth and development. When we push against nature, we are refusing our own cycle of change and development, and this creates our suffering. Making judgments about the cycle of change we experience is what causes us to suffer.

As William Shakespeare so insightfully pointed out in his play Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Thinking that one cycle is better or worse than the other is what fuels our resistance and fear.

Our external situations are always changing, as does our physical form and energy. Our bodies age and degenerate. Our physical energy patterns also reflect the cycles of nature. Maintaining maximum energy levels all the time is not possible. Each of us experiences times of high and low energy. There are times when it is necessary to rest for large amounts of time. Just as bears hibernate in the winter, we too can require larger amounts sleep, and there are times when we require very little sleep at all.

The cycles of nature are reflected in all areas of our lives. There will be periods of success and failure. Success is equated with growth and this is usually considered positive, but sustained growth cannot last forever. Just as plants wither and die, so do the chapters in our lives which no longer serve us. Releasing thought patterns and behaviors which stunt our growth, require dissolution in order to allow a new perspective or creative force to emerge and bloom anew.

With this one class assignment which was geared toward art, I learned a tremendous life lesson. I learned that resisting the cycles of nature and change is like grasping at the wind. The wind is fleeting and impermanent. It slips through our hands if we try to hold onto it. Everything is temporary and surrendering to the cycles of change is honoring our true nature. If we take our cures from nature we will learn to become present with what life presents to us and embrace its beautiful illustration of infinite possibilities.


My son and I were driving down the expressway one day, and somehow stumbled into a conversation about happiness. At one point, my son said, “most people are happy and just don’t know it.”

My first thought was that this was a profound statement for a 21 year old. My second thought was that I knew exactly what he meant, and was in total agreement with his statement. I knew he meant that a lot of people spend a majority of their time thinking about the things they don’t have, instead of focusing on what they do have. Our lives are a reflection of what we value, and what we choose to focus on. Once we accomplish a goal, or acquire something we desire, we tend to immediately think about the next thing we want, instead of looking at whether we have what we need. Most of the time, we have what we need, plus a good deal of what we want. When we focus on what is lacking in our lives, it kicks us into a state of unhappiness. After thinking about his statement for a few seconds, my son went on to say, “you know you’re happy, when you wake up in the morning and you’re just happy to be alive.”

Of course, I had to ask… “Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling happy to just be alive?” He said, “I used to, when I was younger.” I understood that the responsibilities of adulthood had taken the place of his carefree youth, but I was glad to hear that he’d experienced the feeling of just being happy to be alive. I know that no matter what he does, or where life takes him, he will have times of adversity and sadness; but I also know he will have this experience of happiness to access.

In that moment, I was happy being right where I was, and with someone who understood the real meaning of happiness. The extra bonus was that this person was my son!

A Simple Act of Kindness

Just recently, I walked into a Starbucks on a cold morning to purchase a warm drink. I placed my order at the counter and was reaching in my wallet to get the money, when a gentleman standing next to me said, “I’m paying for her drink.” I glanced over and saw there was a line forming behind each of us, and I didn’t know this gentleman, so I assumed he couldn’t be talking about me. I handed my money to the cashier and he said, “he’s paying for your drink.” This was completely unexpected and I was curiously surprised, so I uttered the first words which came to mind. I looked at this man and said, “Why do you want to pay for my drink?” He responded with, “I just want you to have a wonderful day.” I told him how grateful I was, and that his generous act of kindness was such a nice surprise.

We moved over to wait for our drinks to be prepared. I told him that a few days earlier, I purchased two items at a retail store, and as I was walking out of the store, I looked at my receipt and realized that I was only charged for one item. I went back to the same cashier and told her I was not charged for one of the items. She was surprised that I would come back, and said that something good was going to happen to me. I told this gentleman that he was the good thing that happened to me.

He went on to share with me the real reason I’m writing this. He said that the previous week, he was in line behind a woman in this same Starbucks when she said, “I’m paying for his drink.” He said he was as surprised and grateful as I was, so he asked her what he could do to repay her. She said “just buy someone else a drink one day.” He then told me that I was the one he had chosen to buy a drink for.

He got his drink, and again, wished me a wonderful day. I did have a wonderful day, and it spilled into the next day, and the next.

This nameless, faceless woman that I have never met, connected with me through this kind gentleman, and made a difference in two lives… with just one simple act of kindness.