Stay in the room.

There is a valid growth technique called ‘staying in the room’.
The concept is that what you suppress does not heal.
What you avoid, what you numb, what you distract yourself from cannot change by avoiding the space where it hurts.

There is no one who makes it through life without crap they need to face, crap they need to heal.
There’s a huge industry built around helping us avoid healing, avoid becoming whole.
Much of what they call self-care, I’ve found to actually be numbing.
If you’re barely holding on until your massage next week so you can relax, it’s possible you need to reduce your responsibilities by learning to say no.
If you’re doing a weekly girls lunch you can’t afford, it’s possible you need to work on clearing money blocks.
If you hit ‘decline’ every time your mother calls, it’s possible you can work on boundaries and cutting energetic cords, becoming less emotionally invested.

In the last several years, I’ve redefined self-care for myself and my clients.
I’ve seen an increase in their ability to define and create and re-enforce boundaries, thereby creating more energy and space in their personal lives.
I’ve seen them create awareness that increases their ability to respond instead of react.
I’ve helped them create an understanding of the role of irritation and jealousy and how those triggers can create positive changes with the right mindset.

When clients start asking the right questions and begin to develop a healing practice, it redefines what self care looks like. When you have a regular support system and a practice of self-paced healing and spiritual practice, it creates far more overall satisfaction and a life you don’t need a vacation from.

Imagine getting a massage to feel good, as a reward, not to relax, not to de-stress – because you’re not stressed.

Imagine knowing there is money available for a whole month of girls lunches because you’ve created habits and systems that support your money goals instead of your money fears.

Imagine knowing you can have a conversation with your mom, then go about your day as if nothing happened, because you’ve reduced your emotional trigger points.

Your life looks different when you don’t need to escape it.

Want a taste of what this feels like?
Want to know what questions to start asking?
Join The Distillery today!

How disheartening…

(post written approximately 3 weeks ago. I still need these things, but less every day.)

to realize I’m not yet perfect…

I’m struggling with a kind of deep unhappiness in recent weeks. Those who are close to me have been watching for this for months, surprised at the head with which I’ve handled the circumstances of my year. They’ve kept watch for the ‘meltdown’.
This discontent is how I melt down.

When I say deep unhappiness, I need to make this clear: I have a really good life. I have wonderful people, two jobs I greatly enjoy, and I feel contentment with how I help, how I’m present with those I love.

But I’m often checking out, or disconnected when this is a time of year I generally feel more connected than normal. It’s not depression, though many in my circles are finding themselves there at this moment in time. I’ve been there, so I know this isn’t that.

After handling this year in brilliant fashion, I’m simply disheartened to be in a place where my best simply isn’t enough to make me happy. Where my tools feel like Band-Aids and I can’t summon the level of excitement for my day in a way I’ve become accustomed to.

I ask myself daily what I need, and the answer is always the same.

Time and space to go deep within myself, to create this next phase of expansion and growth from a place of deep inner connection.

I’m writing a lot.
I’m creating new tools.
I’m being reminded of old tools by valued friends
I’m allowing.
I’m moving some each day.
I’m breathing.

This isn’t depression.
This is awareness.

Turn the beat around…

Recently, I’ve been miserable.
It was so frustrating, because I teach people how to avoid that, how to create a life they don’t need a vacation from.
And here I was, telling myself the story that I needed a vacation.
It was so frustrating, because I’d just come out of months of health and family stress, and I really thought I’d mastered this stuff.
It was so frustrating, because it felt bad every day.

Feeling bad every day = not the goal.

I messaged a friend, told her I was ‘doing all the things’ and they either weren’t working, or they felt like a band-aid.
She reminded me that sometimes you need a band-aid.

But what writing to her really did was help me see that I was totally avoiding certain things I know create clarity, healing, and make significant increases in my ability to focus, be productive and helpful. Which, in turn, increases my daily satisfaction, which creates a life I don’t need a vacation from.

Here’s how i turned it around today.
Here’s a list of the things I’d been avoiding:
Brain dump (part of the Tame Your To-Do List process)
Called my dad to check on him.
Started a client project I’d been avoiding.
Prioritized two or three things (the client project, meal planning, grocery list) over things I’d been prioritizing (certain work tasks that could wait, things I’d invested in emotionally that were out of alignment with my long term goals)

Once I’d done the brain dump, I journaled my ideal day, and that brought even more clarity, and I released my attachment to getting certain things ‘right’ (mostly parenting things).

I’m ending the day in a much better place, because I stopped avoiding looking at what wasn’t working.

What do you need to face?

(How can I help you create a life you don’t need a vacation from? Join The Distillery and let me know.)

Staying sane

Recently, I wrote a bog post about how this year has taught me so much about how to know your personal growth efforts make a difference. One of the pieces that helped keep me sane was to email myself during times when I was away from both my computer and my business.

Here’s a blog post I wrote during the spring, while staying at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh with Daniel…

EMail yourself to stay sane.

Things lately have been a huge storm of what the hell.

I’ve been staying in hospital rooms and I’ve driven countless hours, because Daniel’s hospital stay was 2(ish) hours south of where we live.

That makes it hard to stay on top of things, let alone FEEL on top of things.

My tried and true system for feeling in control of my life was pretty much destroyed by the whole process of getting Daniel healthy. We were in total survival mode, and my unread emails were mounting into the 100’s.

I’ve just gone through and cleared out most of them, and unsubscribed from lots of them. ( is awesome for this).

And, throughout this process, here’s what I’ve found.

Using email to stay sane works.

I’ve found emails to myself about every possible thing.

Blog post ideas.

Anger management.

Journal entries when I forgot to pack my journal.

Brain dumps.

And, going through that set of unread emails to myself has helped me see that I really was navigating well. I maintained my tools and systems for mindset and mood management – I just utilized a new tool.

How do you stay sane when your routine is disrupted?

Of course – when shit really hits the fan, you have to find your own system, your own practice that helps you navigate. I’m happy to share the things that worked for me, so you’ll have a resource and/or ideas should you need them!

(If you’re in need of a little more than a couple emails, I also work one:on:one with people on navigation skills. Take a look here. Work with Lani.


In the last two weeks, I’ve taken an idea through ‘what do you think?’ and all the way to being ONE SEAT away from sold out.
I’m beta testing a new group coaching program, and I promoted it in a way that feels genuine and authentic. I priced it deliberately so that it’s 100% accessible.
I’m also allowing plenty of space for this thing to grow and become magic (the same way The Distillery has become magic in the last two years).
The basics are this:
One person in the group gets focused, one:one coaching each week.
Each month holds a specific theme that we dive into – all the ways these themes show up in life and business and the spaces between. All the ways we use the theme to stay on the surface of life, instead of diving deep within it and allowing it to transform us.
Every quarter, new people will join.

For this first round – there is literally ONE SEAT left.

You can go here for more details:
The Distillery Community: A Group Coaching Experience

What to do when you don’t know what to do…


The process of mapping a full 90 days can be challenging – especially the first few times you do it.

I remember sitting in a room with 200 people the first time a coach handed me this type of worksheet – everyone was scribbling, and I was frozen. Blank. I had no idea what to write.

For one thing – I was in the wrong business at the time. Photography brought me joy – but it was far from effortless. I still believed I needed to do something challenging for it to pay off. (More on how wrong I was about that in later blog posts!)

For another – I was thinking way to big to start. 
I believed that if I mapped my next 90 days, that everything would magically be different at the end of those 90 days.
That simply set me up for failure.

If you’ve downloaded the worksheet, and it’s like staring at a blank piece of paper, here are a few things to get you started:
1. You don’t need to see the whole staircase. Just the next step.
2. Pull out your calendar, and start with the things that are already scheduled. Write out the things that fall under your To-Do list, and think about life plans, birthdays, holidays, etc. This puts your brain into the right mode to come up with business to-do’s as well.
3. Write the dates that associate with the next 30/60/90 days. If you were doing this today – it’s Monday, Oct. 10th. Ask yourself what you want to have accomplished before Nov. 10th… Dec. 10th…. Jan. 10th.
4. Do some free writing. Talk in big picture goals, then break each big picture down into completion dates, action steps and mini-goals.

If all of this still feels overwhelming, my 90 Minute Mapping session is the perfect solution. It takes just 90 minutes, and you walk away with clarity, goals, and most important – an action plan – that leads you through the next 90 days. Recently, a client shared that she carries her 90 Minute Mapping summary with her wherever she goes, so that she’s always able to check something off the action list.
We not only create an action plan, we also uncover the blocks and mindsets that might get in the way of you making progress on the plan. We dig in a little, and I provide you with habits and systems to shift long-standing productivity blocks, and create real momentum towards your goals.

This is the foundation of my business coaching plan.
If you can create a clear, actionable 90 Day Map, then all you need is the accountability and support to get it done.
If you’re not able to create a clear plan with realistic expectations, it’s time to dig in and find out what’s in the way.

Now that you’ve got the steps and the tools – what’s your 90 Day Plan?
*This post is part of a 3-part blog series.
Planning = Productivity
What’s your 90 Day Plan?

*This post is part of a 3-part blog series.
Planning = Productivity
What to do when you don’t know what to do…Save

What’s your 90 Day Plan?


In the first post in this productivity blog series, I introduced the concept of the 90 Day Plan.

I use this as an initial assessment into the flow of a client’s business – it provides huge insights into where we are in terms of which path they’re most comfortable – the art of dreaming and magic in creation of their goals or the action plan / task list process in creation of their goals.

Once I have an awareness of where they’re currently working, we begin to blend in the opposite, so that they’re able to utilize all the tools in this Universe to maximize their progress and success.

It’s a great clarity gauge.

If you’d like to find your own balance, here is a tool for you to make this assessment yourself.

I created this to use during my intake sessions with clients (both Life Plan and Business Plan) and I think it will be valuable for you to use as well.

Once you download your 90 Day Planner pdf from the email, grab your calendar, and start plugging in your goals, tasks, and intentions for the next 90 days. If you’ve done the Tame Your To-Do List process, you might even have your Brain Dump for Goals – grab that too, and start adding a timeline to that list.

Fill in all the to-do’s, want-to-do’s and might-do’s for the next 90 Days.
Start with the big items – things with deadlines, events, scheduled meetings.
Fill in with goals and projects that have a longer lead time.
Look out past 90 days as well – start considering how the next 90 days can map your entire 2017 year.

Planning = productivity = profit.

What’s your 90 Day Plan?

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A lot can happen in 6 months…

and at the end of it, you can realize that your entire life is different, if you allow it to be.

I wrote a letter to announce my business changes and share that news with my clients, friends, family and contacts. The process of writing that letter brought clarity and focus to some awarenesses I’ve had about the intensity of the inner changes I’m recognizing in myself.

If you’re here, you got the letter, or someone shared it with you. Thanks for coming here to hear more. I’ll be sharing more about my insights, changes, and processes as time goes on – but you’re here for details about the ‘Life Crisis’ I mention in the letter – so. On with it.

The important note here is that WE ARE ALL EXCELLENT right now.
The second important note is that this is NOT a call for pity. (more on releasing my claim on the ‘survivor’ identity later) This is an acknowledgement that you can go through extremely challenging circumstances without completely collapsing, if you have the right tools.

In February, my 12 year old came to me with a minor health thing happening. I did my usual: If it’s still happening in 2 or 3 days, come back and let me know.
Then, I forgot about it. Got distracted – whatever.
10 days later, he came back and said “It’s still happening.”
Is it ‘still’ happening? Or did it go away and then come back again?
Nope. Still happening. Going on over 10 days now…
We made immediate diet changes, scheduled a visit with his pediatrician, and monitored it as it progressed and additional symptoms showed up that made me pretty confident we were going to need a specialist.
All this takes time – more than a month to see the pediatrician, be referred to a specialist, get an appointment, etc. Once we got to the specialist, he recommended a round of testing that would work fastest if we did it in-patient at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, 2 hours south of our home in Erie.
We received news that they’d have space for him on Friday for him to be admitted on Monday – and off we went, getting him settled, and Mark driving back to Erie for Matthew to sleep in his own bed and go to school the next day.
The initial testing took 3 days, and showed that he had inflammatory bowel disease, and we went home with medicine that seemed to work….
Until it didn’t.
More testing, more in-patient, and he’s getting more and more obviously, undeniably sick.
After his 3rd in-patient stay, they found a treatment plan that works for him, and things have now progressed back to normal.
Daniel is doing great. He did amazing throughout this entire process, and watching him navigate the entire experience was witnessing grace, strength, endurance, and hope in a way I’d not seen before, particularly from a 12 year old.

In between hospital visit #1 and hospital visit #2, I snuck away and had a biopsy completed on a thyroid ‘spot’ they discovered on the remaining bits of thyroid left after a partial thyroidectomy from 10 years ago.

I stayed in Erie on the first day of Daniel’s 3rd hospital visit to get the results from the biopsy. Because I had a really good relationship with my thyroid doctor, I knew if he wanted me to come in, there was something for him to share. My operating theory I shared with him after the visit was: If it was really good news, you’d have called. If it was really bad news, you’d have called. So, the news was that it was ‘suspicious’ and he recommended another surgery to remove all thyroid tissue, the ‘suspicious’ spot, and remove the primary risk of this happening again. (I have a minor thyroid cancer history.)
I asked how long I could wait, explaining that Daniel was back in the hospital, and there was a lot on my plate already, and adding this to Mark’s plate seemed pretty intense.
His response was: A few weeks is ok – a few months is not.
Again, this stuff takes time, and I was incredibly grateful that Daniel responded well to medicine, and stayed healthy after the 3rd visit. I’m unsure how my calm, collected, zen-type experience of his illness and my biopsy would have held up had he not found something that allows him to be healthy enough to experience life at full throttle – which is just how he rolls most of the time.
As his recovery progressed and Mark and I became more confident we wouldn’t have to return to Children’s, we were meeting with a surgeon, and scheduling a full thyroidectomy. I tried to get it before the boys were done with school – but the first opportunity was late June – so I took it. By then, Daniel’s symptoms had cleared, and we entered what we’re now calling remission for his IBD.
After my surgery, they did another biopsy, and discovered that I’d had a Papillary Thyroid Cancer recurrence. (In the lotto of cancer, this is the one to get. Easily treated, phenomenal survival rate.)
Since the surgeon was thorough, I was in great shape, physically speaking. (Aside from looking like the Bride of Frankenstein for a little over a week… this is where I admit to having a little meltdown.)
A quick round of ‘preventative’ radioactive iodine treatment, and my prognosis is incredibly positive, and I’m feeling amazing.

The RAI treatment just wrapped a week ago, and Daniel went through summer and returned to school without a recurrence of his symptoms, and we’re all settling back into our busy, normal, healthy lives.

But here’s the piece that’s relevant to my business.
I didn’t crash and burn. I didn’t stop communicating, or marketing, or meeting with current clients. I didn’t accept new clients during that time – but the overall sensation was of balance, and trust and focus.
There were moments, and whole days where I felt a little lost, frustrated and irritable. (the 4 days after my surgery was a full-on pity-party in my brain).
Overwhelmingly though – I saw clearly the results of having a spiritual practice that focused on my listening to my intuition, knowing it was all going to work out, and clearing out much of the noise of the outside world to be present with Daniel, with myself, with those I love, and with my fledgling business – all in the same space and time.

Things I didn’t do:
Share it all on FB.
Watch TV.
Self-sabotage (not completely. I did, but not my typical crash and burn style)
Ask why this was happening. (The why question didn’t matter to me at all. It simply was – and I allowed it to be.)
Resent myself, or Daniel or Mark or Matthew in the process.

Things I did do:
Pack what I needed for each stay with D in the hospital.
Cry when I needed to cry.
Asked for what I needed. (clients to move from in-person to phone sessions. Being with Daniel in the hospital, or being home with Matthew. Chocolate.)
Set boundaries.
Take small steps every day relevant to my business. (and, tracked them, so mind-gremlins had a harder time negating my efforts)
Find quiet spaces to be.

In the 8 years since I started this journey of healing and growth, I’ve had at least two other equally stressful situations. Another cancer scare for myself where I shut down for a solid 2 months and just obsessed over what turned out to be nothing; and an intense health/ICU trip for my dad which went on for months, during which I worked
My navigation skills during those times were not even in the same orbit or Universe.
My cousin asked me in the midst of some of this: I know you’ve done a ton of inner work. How do you know it’s working?
My answer was somewhat generic – but the REAL answer is: When your life goes to shit, and you don’t go with it? That’s when you know it’s working.
That it works every day to bring me more peace, contentment and satisfaction is harder to track – but it’s there. The crisis points in life bring the effectiveness of a personalized healing practice into sharp focus.

Phew. Writing that all out feels like a huge purge.
If you read this far, Thank You.
You’re amazing.
Thank you.

Planning = Productivity


Having a plan creates clarity, comfort and productivity.

I talk often about the idea of prioritizing, but how do you know what to prioritize?
The very first step is about creating a list of tasks, goals, and accomplishments that flow over the next 90 days.

Bill Gates said: “People over estimate what they can accomplish in one year, and under estimate what they can accomplish in 10 years.”

Long-range planning is a valuable tool to get you from where you are to where you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years – but the steps along the way can be incredibly muddy. Bringing the light of awareness to this short-term goal process is a huge advantage and creates momentum, highlights accomplishments, and relieves stress.

In my experience, people over-estimate what they can accomplish in 3 months, especially when they’re starting out, or building something new. As entrepreneurs, that’s pretty much all the time. As I talk with clients I begin with generalities:

Where do you see yourself in 1 month?
This feels very clear to them. There are already many things in the calendar, they’ve got a clear picture of what each day looks like, what needs done, and how balanced they feel between work and life.

Next, I ask: Where do you see yourself in 60 days? What do you want to accomplish?
Things here are often a little vague. Some projects, numbers of clients, life events, those are clear, but the daily activities get fuzzy.

Finally, I ask: Where do you want to be at the end of this quarter? Where do you see yourself in 90 days?

I love this part, because it really gets us thinking. Always, this is where we know if they’ve got an actionable plan, or if they’re still in the dreaming/thinking phase of business.

Some kind of magic happens here – either they list off things that make sense in terms of next steps from their 60 day plan, or there’s a whole shift in their demeanor – they become hopeful, a little agitated, and things take a huge leap. They share with me that in 90 days, they’ll have a full client list, they’ll have a place to rent, they’ll have made a certain amount of money.

Having dreams and big goals is never the problem here – knowing where you’re going is vital. It’s the leap that trips us up. 
Because there’s a huge gap in understanding of the daily activities that get us from our 30 day goals to our 90 day goals, we can easily get discouraged, disgruntled, and demotivated when we create a large gap here.

How do you get from a month of clarity, to 90 days when everything is magically fixed?

There are several paths here:
Path 1 is creating a daily practice that anchors you into your dreams, allows the Universe to create magic around your intentions and goals.
Path 2 is to bring awareness to the steps and time it takes to create and allow those dreams to grow.

In my business and coaching practice, we walk the tightrope between these two zones: Hopeful dreaming and creative, inspired action.

*This post is part of a 3-part blog series.
What’s your 90 Day Plan?
What to do when you don’t know what to do…



Planning, and being realistic….


I ended up sidelined for much of last week.
I had good intentions of getting lots of work done.

There were two projects of particular importance I wanted to accomplish and logic said this was the perfect time to get. shit. done.

Instead, I basically binge-watched two seasons of Supernatural on Netflix and ate chocolate.

In the past, I would have been resentful, irritable with myself, and incredibly judgmental.

This time I planned for it.

I knew, in the days leading up to this time of isolation, in the pit of my stomach, the place of my awareness of myself, that I wasn’t going to get shit done. I was going to binge watch Netflix.
Because I could.

All the rules of the world said that I could maximize this time, be productive, create massive value during this planned, scheduled downtime. Just me and my laptop.

Except, experience, self-awareness, and a deep understanding of how I work best told me, with complete acceptance, that that’s simply not how I work best. Plus, a conversation with my accountability partner helped me get real clarity, especially when she turned one of my favorite tools for clients against me, and asked me how I wanted to feel at the end of my 3 days of isolation.

The clarity I’ve received from staying aware during this back-and-forth is going to serve me well as I make more plans and create more for myself and my clients.

When I’m at my most productive, I’m doing intense periods of deep work. 
I spend about 40 minutes in deep focus, peeling back layers and being insanely productive. 
(It’s how I wrote this blog post, and the entire 3 (maybe 4, not sure yet) blog series that comes next).

Then, I go do something else.

Help Son1 plan for his week.
Put in a load of laundry and hang out with the dog.
Sit outside with tea.
Eat something.
Be ‘in the world’.

Then, I’m back at it for another 30-50 minutes. Deep. Focused. Intentional. Inspired. Productive.

What the time away taught me, since I was kinda held hostage in a space that wasn’t my own – long blocks of time without every day activities to break it up are not my best space. They’re not the place where I can create and grow and be productive. They’re a place where I can experience deep rest, create a space for intense recovery.

The world says different – isolate yourself and finish that novel. Isolate yourself and paint for hours. Isolation is what breeds creativity – and perhaps there are creative souls who thrive there.

For me, I feel blessed to (finally!) understand that I’m not that type of creative soul.

All my best work comes in concert with my messy, full, inconvenient life.

Which brings me to the question for you:

Do you know your best space? 

Do you understand the way in which you create your best work?

What are the parameters that you believe you need to create?

And, what is it you actually need?

Here’s the final message that I’m writing because I know I’ll need a reminder later.
I thought I needed to work a certain way – take advantage of this down time to be productive. 
I felt awful leading up to the 3 days – I knew something was sideways, and I couldn’t figure it out.
What was sideways was the expectation I placed on myself – to maximize the time alone and be super-creative.
Eventually, I came to a place of acceptance – where it was ok for me to NOT accomplish all the things…
Which allowed me a space of deep rest…
Which created in me the ideas and fuel and motivation to work the way I work best today, and I’ve now created more than I expected to accomplish during the 3 days I was ‘supposed’ to be productive.

Short story: Deep rest allows me to be work better within my busy, messy, full life. 

Good to know.

(Work with me to discover/uncover how you work best.)