The Next Level

“Every next level of your life will demand a different you.” — Leonardo DiCaprio

Are you finding that life is a struggle as you try to acclimate to your surroundings and reality of your day to day? Do you feel off and in need of some direction and stability? Are you caught up in the soul-sucking and crazy-making incessant busyness of life without any knowledge of why you are doing it in the first place? Do you feel like you are not measuring up? You don't belong? You're not alone. A good number of people are trying to manage these things, and it can often feel all-consuming, and exhausting. 

Many of my clients felt like rock stars in high school, but when they get to college and post-college, their extraordinariness is common. The competition is daunting, and they aren't so special anymore. And to make matters worse, they have had little to no reflection time to figure out that ever pressing question: Who Am I? and what am I doing with my life? So, instead of taking stock and doing a reboot, they revert back to what has always worked for them. They go back to being the person that they have always been, and there is no recognition that something different is needed. The landscape has changed, but they do not have the tool set to shift gears. 

They buckle down, stay up later, pile more into to their already full lives. They go into automatic pilot, and have no sense of what their intuition is telling them. Their day-planners are evidence of lives in constant motion, scheduled to the gills. With no down time. No quiet. No safe haven to retreat and reassess. And often, their network of friends have similar insane schedules and equally crazy lives so no one is able and willing to step off the crazy train and stop the madness. Take a breath. If only to question what seems to be the norm, but is toxic for so many. 

"They are not aware - because their lives are immersed in this, like fish in water - how ever­ present is their world of social media: the infor­mation barrage, the habitual messaging, the in­cessant appetite for immediate response. When they exit class or work, they talk on their phones, thumb­ tap text, look to see what they've missed in the time they've been away. They feel lost if not con­nected, umbilically, to the latest digital watering­ holes. It is relentless, addictive, brain-swiveling. But to them it is not unusual. The deluge and its unceasing demand for attention is not something they think of as stress-inducing."

Coaching offers a mindset reboot by helping you to step back and assess your situation. Our time together will be about questioning everything, and then going about shedding old patterns, belief systems, and thoughts that are no longer serving you, and help you get your mojo back. It all starts with awareness which fosters a shift in perspective. By getting a handle on what is going on inside your mind and "cleaning house," you'll feel more organized, more energized, and more motivated. You will feel better. 

A different and more adaptable you is needed to navigate life transitions, like college and life after college, and it all starts with the power of a good question. What is your why? You don't have to go it alone. What are you waiting for? #teamit #martalifecoaching

A New Day, A Fresh Start

One of my go-to thoughts when I wake up in the morning is, "Today is a new day, a new beginning. How can I make it better than yesterday?" In past, I often would wake up with thoughts about what I was dreading or what I wish I had done differently the day before. I still have a tendency to start there, but I am aware of this orientation, so I am able to gently shift those thoughts to a more positive and empowering place. By doing so, it helps motivate me and does wonders for the mood and overall outlook for the day. 

So, dear ones, instead of waking up and allowing a barrage of negative thoughts, gently pull your thoughts back to a place of gratitude for what is and what is possible. Maybe it is thanking the universe for the gift of a new day which allows for doing something a little differently than the day before, or asking the question of how you can make today a good day. I often hear my clients say, "I hope today is better than yesterday." Or, "I hope something good happens to me today." Imagine if you came at it from the perspective of how YOU can create the good, and not be waiting for someone or something to make it good for you. It's the difference between being proactive and reactive. One helps put you in the power seat, the other puts you at the whim of the world. Which one would your prefer? #taketheinitiative #howcanyoumaketodaygreat #itsanewday




Let's Do This!

Last week, one of my Notre Dame clients said to me, "being able to talk to you on a weekly basis and process through things is really helpful. It helps me have a better handle on my thoughts and this heightened awareness guides my choices differently. As crazy as it sounds, I am living a healthier existence because of our sessions." ~ K.A. 

Guiding individuals in seeking their truth and being themselves very well is core to coaching work. As my clients get better at being themselves and aligning their internal world with their external choices, they are able to contribute to the greater whole. As the saying goes, "the rising tide floats all boats." Awareness informs perspective, wisdom, and insight which gives one the context for change. 

Through relationship we become. If you're ready to evolve and come into your own, give me a call. #letsdothis


Make the World A Better Place

I posted this on my FB page last week, and I share it here on the blog since the sentiments and the spirit in which I do my coaching work have been strongly informed by my upbringing, and the irrepressibility, vulnerability, drive, brilliance, and heart of my dear father. He was himself very well. May each one of you get better and better at becoming YOU. Our world needs you. Cheers to you, Dad! x

My heart is both rejoicing and breaking as I compose this. It is with a heavy heart that I share the death of my dear Dad, Chuck Roemer, this morning. He succumbed in the end to the vicious and unrelenting disease of Alzheimer’s, but his being and core nature were never completely ravaged by it as he maintained a kindness, light, and goodness that defied all odds. It is hard to put into words the deep love and gratitude I feel toward him and the legacy he left us. He set the bar high. God blessed us with a loving, driven, disciplined, committed, vulnerable, competitive, smart, magnanimous, and principled man. He was never one to blend (to my dismay as a young person!), and he always was about making a difference and making the world a better place in any way possible. As your daughter, Dad, I thank you for loving Mom so fiercely, and teaching your five children that the most important lesson of all is learn to love and be loved. Very well. Although your light has been extinguished here on earth, I know that it will illuminate the Heavens and come back to us ten-fold. I promise to do everything I can in this life to do as you did: LOVE, SERVE, LOVE, HAVE FUN, LOVE, WORK HARD, RINSE and REPEAT. I love you forever and always, and being your daughter was one helluva ride. Shine on and fly, Dad! You earned your wings. xoxoxoxo

The Journey

"It's easy to fall in love with the GPS version of the universe.

There, just ahead, after that curve. Drive a little further, your destination is almost here.

Done. You've arrived.

Of course, that's not how it works. Not our careers, not our relationships, not our lives.

You've always arrived. You've never arrived.

Wherever you go, there you are. You're never going to arrive because you're already there.

There's no division between the painful going and the joyous arriving. If we let it, the going can be the joyful part.

It turns out that arrival isn't the point, it can't be, because we spend all our time on the journey." ~ Seth Godin

My husband and I just took our two oldest children on an 8-day east coast college tour. Many miles were logged, and our GPS was a godsend (most of the time!) in getting us to the next leg on our journey from Rhode Island to North Carolina and everywhere in between. What GPS didn't offer us were guideposts and answers for the day to day adventure. Stepping out of the known and the day to day routine allowed for a shift in perspective. New learnings. As the days passed, I softened to the crazy pace we had set for ourselves and found myself less preoccupied by where we needed to be next, and enjoying the journey more. Because, "it turns out that arrival isn't the point, it can't be, because we spend all our time on the journey." 

Remember, it's not about the destination. The gold is in the journey itself, and the space in between. #itsallgood

Who Are You? You Are A Beautiful Amalgam

There is so much more to you than the roles you play or from where you come. 

You have your own curiosities, and areas that are immune and safe from the outside world. Your insides are under construction as you navigate the landscape and get in touch with what resonates with you. Not just what sounds good to the outside world. But, what really jives with your being and what you know to be true. As you are learning, you are evolving — so yesterday's and today’s answer to your inquiry about "who am I" may be too broad or too stifling tomorrow.
Your journey warrants some intentionality. Some personalization. Some guts.

Here’s the most telling question to ask yourself when you’re in search of guidance and finding your voice:
“What fits me?"
That particular question destroys blueprints, and belief systems that never honored you in the first place. That question is truth and authenticity in a world that is enamored with shoulds, appearances, facades, and societal expectations. 

“So... what fits me?"
Finding the answer to that — from your relationships to your major to your extracurriculars to your passions — requires chutzpah, the audacity to experiment. It’s not as lickety-split as a quick fix, or as logical as a math equation, or as familiar to the masses. And you may not score at the popularity game — but the liberty and the empowerment will fit you quite nicely. Stay true to what fits, and you won't be sorry. x

Coaching and Therapy: A Powerful Combination

I am a big proponent of both therapy and life coaching as I witness the incredible gift that self-awareness and its relationship to living a healthier and happier existence breeds. About a 1/4 of my clients do a combination of both, and there seems to be a good synergy between the two. Why? Therapy tends to be more focused on past traumas and unresolved issues, and it gives context to the undercurrents at play in belief systems and behaviors, while life coaching focuses more in the here and now by identifying the client's personal goals, the obstacles that are getting in the way, and how best to proceed by developing a plan of capitalizing on awareness, cultivating a healthier mindset, optimizing strengths, and compensating for weaknesses. 

Last evening, I was talking to one of my clients who recently began therapy, and when I asked her how she differentiated the work that she and I were doing and the work that she was doing in therapy, she said, "I see therapy as going back in my life and addressing some of my earlier experiences and how those have colored my beliefs and behaviors up to now, while I see our coaching relationship as a way for me to have a game plan for my life going forward. It's a life philosophy. I want to live my truth, contribute to the greater whole, and have an epic life." Sounds good to me! Cheers to the journey ahead! x

Roots and Wings

Hodding Carter in his book, When Main Street Meets the River, quotes a very wise woman who once said to him, “There are only two lasting bequests that we can hope to give our children—roots and wings.”

The conflicted relationship that exists between emerging adults and parents when it comes to making life decisions is real.  You feel betwixt either way:  If you don't follow your parent's advice, you face the possibility of making a mistake and risking their disappointment.  On the other hand, if you always seek and follow the advice of your parents, you never truly feel equipped and worthy of standing on your own two feet.  

Be clear about your own interests and curiosities, know where your strengths and gifts lie, and then discern if you are making choices in alignment with these.  The wisdom of knowing what is going on inside of you, and the ability to communicate the path you are navigating and the way that you are ultimately choosing to go, even if you are struggling to know if it is true for you and it differs from your parents desires, is a gift that you can give to both yourself and your parents. It is a way of educating and enlightening them on what you believe is best for you and why.  And if your parents are willing, they will hear you out and take time to understand and respect your process, even if it might deviate from theirs.  Knowing that you have a process, and understanding what that process is, can alleviate a lot of parental concern. 

So much of a parent's need to control and fix what seems to be going awry is the belief that you, the emerging adult, are not equipped to make a well-informed and risk-free decision.  But, here's the thing: Only until you have the trust and belief in yourself to make the small and significant life decisions, will you come to know yourself and understand what works for you and what doesn't.

As you have probably figured out, nothing is risk-free or a sure thing.  Whatever the outcome of a decision, you have the learnings along the way that give you good data points for future decisions. It gives you an ownership and responsibility that you would not have had you had your parents' hands been commandeering the decision.  With this personal ownership, comes investment, awareness, and maturity.  You can bet that the next time a decision presents itself, based on previous choices, you will be more informed as you choose your next path.  Regardless of what the decision entails, whether it be big things like: choosing a major, deciding on a school, picking a partner, securing a job, choosing a roommate - or smaller things like what to eat, when to study, and what extracurricular to sign up for, the more you have the breathing space to make your own decisions.  

Your parents give you roots and wings in this life, and with these roots, you can spread your wings and ultimately fly.  Job well done!  May you keep on showing up and choosing the next best thing. Baby steps. Your parents and I will be cheering you on along the way!  xox


For You, Dear One

If you feel vulnerable, or armored, or vulnerable and armored. If you sometimes embrace your insecurities and sometimes struggle with them. Whether you are an extrovert, or an introvert, or are sometimes seeking the company of others and sometimes desiring quiet. 

If some days you wrestle with the feelings of being lost and unanchored, and some days you experience moorings and being centered. If you speak your truth, or don’t know what your truth is. Whether you are full of passion, or uncertainty, or sometimes passion and sometimes uncertainty. If you feel seen and known, or hide from the fear of rejection. If some days you stay in the arena, and other days you choose to stay on the periphery. Whether you feel isolated, are seeking, or have found yourself. If you are choosing to show up, or dial it back, but no matter what, you keep walking. 

Wherever you are, in whatever state you are, I see you. Keep walking. #itsallgood


Your Tribe

"Be around the light bringers, the magic makers, the world shifters, the game shakers.  They challenge you, break you open, uplift you and expand you.  They don't let you play small with your life.  These heartbeats are your people. These people are your tribe."

The more you come into your own, the more you will attract and fall in with your tribe. This group can be comprised of 1 or 10. It doesn't matter. What matters is that they are your people, and when you are in their presence you feel stronger, better, and more at home. They get you. Validate you. Challenge you. Dig you. Stretch you. Love you. Get comfortable in that skin of yours, own your choices, behaviors, and story, and seek your people. They are out there. And they are ready to welcome you home. 


Who I am and how I live my life on a day to day basis is about helping people thrive and be their best. I teach my clients that happiness is a mindset, a choice. How you want to be and engage with yourself and the world is entirely up to you. Circumstances are out of your control. But how and what you think and do with those circumstances is your call. On your terms. I have the privilege of helping you get your groove on, and step into what makes you that unique and fabulous human that you are meant to be. 

Once you get clear on your why, and what motivates you and keeps you showing up each and every day, you capitalize on this WHY and formulate a daily routine that helps you achieve your goals and live the life of your dreams, one day at a time.

If you are seeking a road map for life, get in touch with me. Rather than struggling mightily to find your way, let's join forces and figure it out together.

Life coaching is an agent for change and transformation. What are you waiting for? 

Cheers, dear ones! x

Hello, Parents!

My coaching practice is brimming with young adults that arrive at the college doorstep well-groomed, well-loved, sparkly clean, and with an impeccable resume to boot; however, they often run for cover and crumble under pressure when life throws the inevitable curveballs. Why? Because that high-achieving young adult is still developing and learning how to navigate the myriad of obstacles that life is throwing at them. They are smack-dab in the middle of figuring out who am I and what than means. The struggle is real, and it is normal. They have not yet developed the problem-solving skills, mindset, and grit to absorb the blows of a bad grade, an argument with a roommate, or a difficult professor. Instead of seeing adversity as though something is terribly wrong with them, I teach them how to improvise, take accountability, and become super resourceful and adaptable to deal with difficulty and the convoluted nature of all things life.  

Against popular opinion, putting yourselves OUT of a job is exactly where you want to be going if you desire for your children to be truly successful in their own right. This does not mean to withhold the nourishing practice of loving your children and supporting them as they navigate their way through the world. Quite the opposite. The only difference is that instead of doing it FOR them, you are helping them to learn the tools necessary to do it for themselves. 

Recently, I have expanded my offerings to include a monthly family package which encompasses the daily/weekly work I am doing with my students while weaving in the parent/s on an as needed basis. I am finding that this approach is more holistic in nature, as it offers an even greater body of wellness for not only the student, but the broader family whole as well. 

Let's get to work! xx


Time to Exhale

Hooray! You made it through your first semester of college! And for those of you who maneuvered your way through semester three, or five, or seven - job well done. Either way, as you are finding out, this college journey is not for the faint of heart as it can be raw, intense, discombobulating, and unforgiving. More than likely your tank is empty. You are spent. I totally get it. It is probably the most you have ever grown as a human being in a four month span of time, barring your infant and toddler years. Take a deep breath and let it all sink in. The good, the bad, the ugly. Acknowledge the visible, but mostly invisible interior signs of growth.

Growth in any form is largely uncomfortable and exhausting, and college offers prime growth real estate with its new and unchartered territory.  I like to refer to it as the perfect time to reboot. It is the space between your previous existence and the current one under construction. As you are learning, life will take you on a grand journey if you allow it. This openness to the adventure will allow you to reach landscapes and heights that you never imagined possible. Think about it: you are definitely wiser and none worse for the wear than when you arrived on campus in August. If you experienced discomfort, awkwardness, confusion, and insecurity along the way, this is a good sign that you stepped outside your familiar which is precisely where you need to go in order to grow. It seems counterintuitive to seek this kind of growth, especially when misery seems to accompany it, but it is absolutely your greatest teacher. So, regardless of what semester you have under your belt, hold your head high. You did it. You are still standing, learning, and growing - and that, my friends, is something to celebrate. 

Next step: recalibration. Thankfully, winter break offers a time for replenishment in the form of TLC, rest, reflection, exercise, home cooking, ice cream, Netflix, friends, and family. Take advantage of it all. Soak it in at the cellular level. While settling in, make room for reflection to process through the unfolding of the last 4 months (no judgment, just awareness!), gain some clarity on where you are at this moment on the journey (again, no harsh judgments as much as being a compassionate witness to what has been and what is), and then brainstorm what you would like to change, what you desire, and what are possible next steps. Creating space for this process is vital in setting the trajectory for your second semester. Goal setting and getting clearer on what piques your curiosity and what lights you up, even if it means shifting majors, is a good step. For some it might mean seeking out time management/organizational help, or finding a new friend group. For others, it takes the form of integrating a new hobby or weaving in the creative. Whatever it is, cheers to the process. I look forward to picking up where we left off and hitting the ground running, dear ones! Until then, get some sleep and take time to exhale. #itsallgood

Love Yourself First

I came across a quote this morning that beautifully touched on a common theme in my college students : "So many years of education yet nobody ever taught us how to love ourselves and why it's so important." It is striking to me how few of my clients understand this concept of self-love. You can be loved by others to the very depths of your soul, but this love doesn't take the place of the responsibility that you have in loving yourself.  Self-love takes practice just like any other skill. 

Here are a few small steps that my students are taking to love themselves:

1. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing that I do is think about 3 things for which I am grateful.  And if I can't come up with anything, my tried and true is always to just be grateful for a new day and the opportunity to try again.

2. My self-talk is atrocious and ever since you told me that we have over 60k thoughts a day and the majority are negative, I was mortified.  Seriously?  So, whenever I feel myself going down a negative path (which is often!), I bring it back to: what is the next best thing that I can do for myself, right here and now? 

3. I am playing the piano again.  Only a few times a week but it is enough that I am feeling connected to more of my creative side and that has given me something more pleasurable than focusing everything on my academic load. I miss my music.  

4. I am doing a media fast because my anxiety is heightened when I am connected to social media right now. I need a break. 

5. Although I am finding that there is a never ending to-do list in college, I am making time for my friendships. Just last night I had a group of girls that I am just getting to know come up to my dorm room and hang out for a few hours.  We listened to music and just got to know one another better. So good for my spirit and something that I have really missed from high school. I felt a little guilt but it was so worth it. 

6. I raised my hand in class today even though I was terrified (I even put my hand down at one point but the professor saw me and called on me anyway!).  The professor treated me kindly, and best of all? I didn't feel stupid. And all the sweeter was that by asking the question, I understood the concept better in the end. 

7. I ate at Chipotle with my friends last night and instead of over-indulging, I was more aware of how the food tasted and took my time. I wasn't beating myself up and devising a way to go workout to work off the excess food like I normally do after eating. It felt strange, but kinda amazing at the same time.  

8. I am no longer hanging around with a friend that is not a positive person in general. Whenever I was around her, I didn't feel the freedom to be myself and I was always apologizing for things that I was saying or doing which were only exacerbated by my awkwardness in her presence.  

9. Instead of working out to lose weight, I am now trying to focus my thoughts about exercise on wellness and taking care of my body and myself.  Nothing over the top either.  Maybe 30 minutes of cardio and weights and I'm out.  It feels great and it's so much more doable than trying to fit in an hour (which I rarely find the time to do anyway and then I would skip it all together).  

10. I'm not a small talk kind of person but I realized that I needed to be open to more surface exchanges early on with potential friends and then allow the depth to occur more naturally. I now have a group of 10 guys that I hang out with that are awesome and it feels great. Remembering that my close friendships from high school didn't happen overnight, but over 4 or more years, was a good reality check, since I desire to have those kind of friendships right now. I am trusting the process and it's a lot more enjoyable and not as stressful. 

Namaste, dear ones!  ox #loveyourselffirst

Paradigm Shift

Client:  Life dramatically improved after we first talked.

Me:  What has transpired since we last met?  

Client:  My self-worth has grown considerably by actively choosing to think about situations in such a way that I am not dependent on what another person thinks of me.  This was a huge paradigm shift for me.  I am seeing the world now through my own eyes and not through the eyes of everyone else.  It was monumental and incredibly helpful.  - T.W., Notre Dame student

THIS is why I love my work.  Life coaching is not merely a transactional exchange, but it has the capacity to be a transformational one. As Plutarch said, the mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.  xo!  #choosetothrivenotmerelysurvive



Resume Building? Shift to Person Building.

There is no denying that a checklist provides structure and clarity, and a resume often becomes the embodiment of this list; however, when the checklist becomes the focal point and end game, the cultivation tends to be externally driven and the opportunity to grow from the inside out is lost.  Resume building is important, but only so long as the individual is following suit and growing in depth and breadth in collaboration with the checklist.  

Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former freshmen dean at Stanford, made this very apt analysis about the cost and underbelly of focusing solely on resume building and not on person building:  "Each year my students were more and more and more and more accomplished. The grades, but not just the grades: the scores. And not just the grades and the scores but the awards, and the accolades, and the activities, and community service, and leadership, and, and, and, and, and, every other prospect for perfection. Yet each year I noticed that more and more could tell you what they’d done but not so much why they’d done it. Could tell you what they’d achieved but not so much about what mattered to them. These students were far more interesting to look at on paper than to talk with in person. Was any of this stuff really their passion? Did they even know what that word meant or was it just something someone said they needed in order to get into the quote unquote right college? "

This past summer, I worked with a bright young lady who was struggling to find her fit in college as a junior. She was desperately searching for something that truly gave her purpose and meaning and yet, she was falling short.  She felt lost.  It appeared that the school, the major, the lack of fit were all the problem.  Instead of focusing on the externals and changing her circumstances, we chose to shine the light on how she could change her perspective and attitude toward what was in her control, and shift some of the habits and behaviors that were not feeding her and ultimately not getting her closer to her goal.  As we were discussing her possible next steps, she mentioned the need to improve her resume and decorate it further because she felt it needed to be more impressive to prospective employers.  Instead of going this route, I proposed that her work, and our work together, was to no longer be driven by the checklist, but focused on her own personal development.  In understanding her thoughts and those things that she desired, it helped her get closer to what was important to her, and ultimately who she was and who she wanted to be in 10 years.  

Granted, it is the resume that most often gets you in the door, but once in the door, employers will take notice of your authenticity.  Not just do you possess the skill set needed to perform the job.  Are you self-aware?  Do you possess a sense of humility, drive, curiosity, and tenacity?  Are you capable of thinking outside the lines?  Do you know how to take the initiative and not seek approval every step of the way?  Are you a team-builder?  Collaborator?  Do you think ahead about the needs coming down the pike?  What are your gifts?  Curiosities?  Do they align?  These are just a smattering of the things that employers are looking for.  An impeccable resume only goes so far.  Understanding the what and why helps you make more informed choices.  And your resume becomes an extension of you, not just a mere list.  You want to be the full package, not just a bright shiny object. Dig deep, dear ones.  You are worth it.  ox

Creating Healthy Patterns

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern."  ~ Annie Dillard

You are what you repeatedly do, so being intentional about the substance of your daily habits and patterns is essential in creating your reality.  Your day to day choices become your life.  Plain and simple.

As you get older, it gets harder to create new habits because it requires energy and awareness to shift gears and try new things.  Operating on autopilot is a lot more comfortable and efficient for your brain so unless you explicitly teach it to do something else, it prefers the well-traveled path.  Probably the hardest part of developing new habits is the initial energy involved, and having to work hard at getting good at something again.  My kids would tell you that you have to suck first before you get better. The good news is that you don't have to be better than where you actually are at that very moment in the process.  There's no need to keep score.  And most importantly, there is no place for judgment (even if it has been hard-wired into your being from an early age!) since that holds you back from trying new things and unleashing that untapped potential within.

A great example of being okay with wherever I am is building my business as a life coach.  Each step along the way asks me to be okay with wherever I am in the process and not judge whether or not it should be something else.  Like being somewhere else on the journey.  As a person who likes to be good at things, it has been a hard but valuable lesson in appreciating the very process of the unfolding. I have learned that writing this blog post (and all of those preceding this one!) without judging it, and posting it is part of honing that tool of process and not being wed to the outcome has been an important step in that direction.  An unexpected bonus from the actual practice of writing a blog has been finding my voice and establishing a pattern.  It has helped me to get more clear on what I am teaching, what my work entails and from where I come in coaching my clients. 

Tom Stern who wrote The Practicing Mind says that "the goal is not the destination, but rather the compass that guides the journey." I love this.  Keep heading in the direction of your goals, enjoy the process, and stay on course.  Inevitably, adjustments will need to be made along the way (that's the beauty of the adventure!), so recalibrate when and where needed, and recognize the gold in the process.  You got this.  #babysteps #itsallgood



Introverts and Showing Up

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. ~ Carl Jung

As a self-proclaimed and Myers-Briggs labeled introvert (I certainly have extroverted qualities, but for as long as I can remember, I have leaned and related more toward my introversion), I find that there is nothing sweeter than quiet time where I can reboot and replenish after the emotional output required in my day to day. My preference in relationships and social gatherings is the one-to-one or small group dynamics versus the bigger groups and large parties.  It is in the more intimate settings that I feel a sense of connection and authenticity.  The bigger and less intimate gatherings have always felt more on the surface, less substantive, and not as safe.  For a long time, I struggled with my bent toward this and actually thought something was wrong with my wiring.  Why wasn't I more comfortable in this life and the many daily interactions that I had from being on sports teams to school to being part of a big family?

One of my greatest desires since I was a little girl was a need to belong and be safe and be known.  When those criteria were met, I could operate at my best and take risks.  I think this is true for most of us.  When we feel safe, we can grow and be free.  

Interestingly, I began to default to my introversion and avoiding social interactions whenever life got to be too much.  Only until I came upon coaching and started looking at the WHY of my motivations and what thoughts created those feelings did I begin to wonder if I was overly relying on my introversion and using it as a shield.  An armor.  A place to hide.  What was I afraid of?  At the time, I couldn't articulate it.  Now, I can say that it was the thought that I was not enough, and showing up as I thought I needed to show up, and not as I truly was, required incredible amounts of energy. 

Fast forward to working my with fabulous clients and I am starting to see a very common pattern with my self-proclaimed introverted students.  As they peel away the layers of years of habits and behaviors, what appears to be their introverted tendencies in situations that require vulnerability, there is often a mode of self-preservation and protection.  This protection is in place because of the fear of being truly seen and known and being rejected once they are "outed".  One of my clients told me that she worries that if she were to truly share her thoughts with her friends and family, it would be too much for them to bear.  She felt her deeper and more intimate thoughts were seen as outside what would be acceptable.  There's a fear of just being too much on all levels. Another client told me that he has always been known as the nice guy, nothing more and nothing less.  He is tired of this label and longs for more, but his fear of not being liked by everyone takes precedence.  He admits that being nice can be exhausting.  It leaves him feeling empty.  And lost. Why? My guess is that by going against the grain and trying to morph into something "more acceptable" requires considerable mental energy. 

I am completely fascinated by how we try to mold ourselves into the person that we think is desirable, but by doing so, we totally lose our way and become liked by people as someone that we are not. What the what?!  It makes no sense and yet we do it all the time!  I choose to believe that people do us a favor by not liking us since their thoughts about us are more about them than they are about us. Regardless of what we do, they size us up pretty much from the get-go and either they have thoughts that are for us or against us.  It really requires no energy on our part.  We can just be who we are and be that very well.  Their assessment is all about them.  But, that is for another blog.  :)

As an exercise for my clients, I ask that they foster an awareness when the desire to "hide" or close down creeps in, and then understand what is going on to create that trigger.  Is it that you truly are spent and need to recalibrate, or is it because you would prefer to avoid a person/situation and fall back on your introversion as the excuse?  It's all in the awareness of the thoughts surrounding your actions, and what is driving your behaviors.  Stay clean on these things, and stay true to who you are and what you need.  In time, the desire to hide will not be such a strong force/motivating factor because you will own who you are and make no apologies for it.  You will start showing up just as you are, in whatever setting you find yourself.  It's all good.  Much love!  ox

To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves – there lies the great, singular power of self-respect. ~Joan Didion

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

If I could tattoo this quote onto the bodies of my students, I would. Literally. I wish I could take credit for it, but its genius is from Theodore Roosevelt.  

Imagine a world that is fueled by the celebration of your differentness, versus a belief that being unique separates, diminishes, and/or threatens you? It is striking to witness this obsession with comparison and feeling less than or unworthy on college campuses. It is everywhere, and it poisons the well of your soul and paralyzes you from truly showing up in this world. Cultivating your gifts and curiosities is a heckuva lot more productive and courageous than shrinking back and hiding because you are fearful of the unknown and rejection.

Instead of playing the comparison game, why not channel your energies to what and who you are, and what and who you want to be? If you are in class with someone that is ridiculously smart, why not acknowledge it and take some pointers from them? Study with them. Analyze their note taking prowess. Ask them questions. Be curious! Learn. If you are around happy and healthy people, take notice of what they are thinking and doing to create this in their lives and implement these life-giving thoughts and behaviors into yours. How can you best take care of yourself today, and how can you best show up in this life today? Stop comparing—instead, acknowledge what it is that is drawing you in and speaking to you—and get to work on weaving those things into your own being and life! It all comes down to what you want, and what you are willing to do to realize this in your world.  Your life circumstances are out of your control, but how you choose to think about them and how you choose to behave as a result determines your outcome.  Nothing is off the table.  

"With envy out of the way, you'll have more space for your own greatness to emerge."  ~ Danielle LaPorte

Big love.  xo


Living Your Truth and Choosing a Major

"You either walk into your story and own your truth, or you live outside your story, hustling for your worthiness."  ~ Brene Brown

Much of my work is informed by Brene's research and wisdom on courage and vulnerability which beautifully corresponds to my students' desires of seeking happiness and a sense of meaning and purpose as they navigate the world of college and choosing a major.  I see a handful of students on a weekly basis that are grappling with their desire to live freely and out loud, but they are afraid of being rejected and/or seen by others as not good enough. What if my peers think an Arts and Letters major is inferior to a STEM major?  What if I know I am a good writer and I love to write, but I am afraid that I will not live up to the expectations that my professors have of me so I'll choose a major that doesn't make me feel as vulnerable, like Science.  When we live our life according to what we believe others want, we are stuck hustling for our worthiness.  And this hustle is an exhausting and soul-sucking existence.  Hence, the omnipresent anxiety, depression, motivational issues, and feelings of unworthiness.

My role is to help students cultivate their inner world and answer some of the underlying questions that seem to be obstacles in their way.  For instance, for my freshmen and sophomore students, figuring out a major that truly fits with their gifts and interests is a huge step on the path of awareness and empowerment.  Maybe this means choosing Environmental Science versus Environmental Engineering, especially when they are drowning in the Engineering curriculum.  Or, going the Biology path when they find that their true calling is that and not Anthropology.  Or, going the English major route and not Pre-Medicine recognizing that their dreams of becoming a doctor are not completely washed away, but they are able to thrive and flourish in an undergraduate major that will lead them more wholeheartedly to that next step post-graduation. Maybe it is more unconventional, but sometimes taking the path less traveled is exactly what is needed to realize their dreams.  

Either way, when they choose what fits their curiosities and gifts, there is a fundamental shift in ownership of their choice, and this seems to make all the difference.  

Identifying what they want and why allows them to make more informed and proactive decisions which ultimately helps pave a smoother and more empowered path.  This freedom to choose organically brings a drive, passion, and determination as they move forward.  Magically, a lot of their resistance (lack of motivation and engagement, poor time management, anxiety, not seeking out help when and where needed) melts away and they rise to the challenge of a life that they are choosing.  No longer are they walking through the motions; instead, there is a light and fire within that ignites them.  

As a parent of four children myself, I struggle with knowing when to loosen the reins and when to push on the accelerator.  Ideally, we find ways to support, guide, and LOVE our children while also respecting their need to feel like they are capable of making sound decisions.  A good barometer is to recognize when something seems more about the needs and desires of the parents, versus what, in fact, the young adult is communicating (either verbally and/or non-verbally).  It's a dance, but a very worthwhile one. What I often observe with my students is they are often acting on what they believe their parents want, rather than following a path that speaks directly and more intimately to their own passions and interests.  I think we all desire for our children to be happy and well, and sometimes that means letting go of what we envisioned for them and allowing them to engineer and create their own path.  Ultimately, they will thrive and find meaning and purpose on the way which contributes to a life well-lived.