I was out walking this morning in one of our beautiful parks here in Montréal and thinking more deeply about my WHY. Listening to a Tony Robbins podcast will do that to you.
WHY do I do what I do (life coaching)? In case you don’t know, I figured I would explain it. And to be honest, the truth of why I do what I do hit me hard this morning. In fact, I’ve never quite articulated it this way before, at least not out loud.
So here goes:
I believe that we all need help now and then…to work through confusion, strong emotions, when we’re feeling stuck or unhappy or wanting something in life to change but not knowing how to make it happen.
When I was 15, my grandfather died very suddenly and I was DEVASTATED. I asked my mom if I could see a psychologist to work through my emotions and the many existential questions I had about GOD, death and the meaning of life.
When I was 17 and in my senior year, I got kicked out of boarding school (!) and felt like the biggest loser of all time (but I also felt super free and excited in a way which left me riddled with guilt) and again asked to see a therapist to help me make sense of my “life” and my “angst” and my strained relationship with my parents.
When I was in university and had relationship issues, I again sought out help. And again and again over the years, I have looked for support in different ways. Therapists, coaches, spiritual healers, astrologers, friends, journals, and even my dog.
We don’t live in a vacuum of existence, alone. We live in community. In dialogue with our families, our friends, our lovers, our kids, our work, emotions, and expectations. Life is complex and we are asked everyday to navigate it in relation to others.
Why would we ever believe we should be able to do this thing called LIFE on our own?
Life is so fucking wonderful a lot of the time and also so fucking hard some of the time. And we all need a safe space to land when life feels hard or when we feel lost or scared or have no idea what we want!
Sometimes we have friends and family we can talk to. Sometimes we’re able to work through things on our own. But sometimes…we just know that we need something else.
Someone else to help us reconnect to ourselves. To achieve what we want. To make sense of what we feel.
A non-judgmental, compassionate person to help us help ourselves out of the dark hole we find ourselves in. A person that will hold our hand (metaphorically), hold our heart, hold the most tender parts of us without any attachment to what we do or don’t do.
Sometimes, we just want to be heard. Really and truly heard. Because when we are heard, when we can speak our truth aloud and know that we are safe in it’s presence, we can let go. We can breathe. We can accept what is. And we can move forward. One step in front of the other, one day at a time.
The power that arises in us when we speak our truth aloud is transformative and life changing. Even when it feels scary to do it, which is all the more reason to do it in a safe space with a trusted guide.
As someone who needs this safe space myself, craves this safe space, and values this safe space to open up myself to the Truth within me, I want to offer this safe space to others. It’s my WHY and why I do what I do.
Because we all deserve a safe space to be heard. Because we all know how epically shitty it feels to not trust anyone to “handle” the tender bits of our most authentic souls with the care we deserve.
We deserve a compassionate witness to help us make sense of our own hearts and confusion. We deserve a place to speak our truth, where we know we won’t be ridiculed, mocked or made to feel ashamed. It’s scary to say aloud what’s deep in our hearts. I know!
We need support to seek out our truth, to find it, and then to speak it aloud!
This is not for the faint of heart….all this truth-seeking. But when you know you need help, you know. And you seek.
So let me hold you tenderly as we explore together who you are, what you want and why you want it.
Maybe you want a new career? Or you’ve got general life dissatisfaction, for “no reason” and you feel guilty about that? Or maybe you want to create healthier habits? Or improve your relationships? Or feel less overwhelmed?
Maybe you have BIG goals or maybe you just know you need some accountability to make some small but powerful changes in your life?
Whatever “it” is, I am here to provide the safe environment you crave so you can finally let it all out and explore what you truly want…with a gentle guide by your side. You’re not alone.
And if you’re wondering what the difference is between therapy and coaching, you are right to be curious, especially because there is some overlap and since coaching is still a relatively “new” option for support compared to traditional therapy.
I have experience with both therapy and coaching. I have clients that have done both too. One is not exclusive of the other. However, according to the American Psychological Association, “therapy encourages awareness of past injuries in order to promote insight and healing, whereas coaching focuses on untapped present possibilities in order to link awareness to action”.
Basically, coaching is action-oriented and forward thinking, whereas therapy is more talking about the past to inform your present. Either way, you’ll probably get the help you deserve.
So if you’re feeling called to get some support with wherever you are in life right now, know that I am one option, among many.
But my genius, if you will, is offering a safe (non-judgmental), beautiful, compassionate, and sometimes even FUN space for you to land to explore whatever’s tugging at your heart and in your soul.
Your Truth deserves your attention. I invite you to honor that.
Summer vacation has only just begun and I am already finding my patience waning with a deep need to be alone!
Camp doesn’t start for another week. And even then, it’s only two weeks long. YIKES!
It’s going to be a long summer if these feelings keep up, boy!
I figure I’m not alone here, dealing with the incessant demands and constant interruptions as I attempt to work (from my home office) or prolong my morning coffee (now that we’re on “summertime”).
Those long days with the kids at school seems like such a faded memory and it’s only been a little over a week. Eeek!
My mind easily goes to super judgmental thoughts like:
Yup. I am.
I am that mom, in this very moment, right now as I write this.
The one who loves her kids more than anything else in life and who wants cuddles and kisses and to spend time with them exploring the world and doing nothing at all…and yet, I have all these feelings too of wanting to get far away from them, to be alone, to not cook for them and to certainly not play camp counselor or lego friends or any other shitty game that bores me to death!
I feel guilty even writing this, but let’s be honest and truthful here:
I can still be an amazing, loving, giving, generous, caring, funny, and awesome mom while having feelings and thoughts like the ones above.
It’s what I choose to do with those thoughts and feelings that ultimately define me and determine how I live, mother, and show-up in the world.
Do I allow my frustrations to show up in anger and screaming (which they do sometimes, again, let’s be honest)? Or do I, instead, invite them in with a curious eye so they can help point me to my deeper needs?
The latter feels the best, every time.
Here are the exact 4 steps I use CALM DOWN when all I’m about to LOSE MY FREAKING MIND on my innocent kiddos.
Disclaimer: this takes practice but it is doable!
Step one: Notice and Name
Step two: Identify the need
Step three: Make a plan
Step four: Try it out!
When I follow these steps, I always feel better. Yes, sometimes I feel like I could have used more than what I got (time alone, sleep, more nights with no cooking), but tending to my own needs does refill my cup. And while one break may not refill it completely, it helps to ensure that I am not running on empty.
Because as we all know, we can’t fill anyone else’s cups when ours have nothing left to give.
I want to love my kiddos hard with lots of focused attention, fun and games, explorations and chill time! I like to think I do this often and well.
Yet, I can also very easily lose my mind when my own needs aren’t taken care of. And it’s MY JOB to take care of them.
So here’s to a summer that feels as good as you want, because knowing that we each have the ability to take care of ourselves is deeply powerful!
Here’s to taking care of ourselves, together.
In November of 2015, I attended a Hay House conference in NYC. During that conference, I had the pleasure of hearing Kris Carr (the super inspiring woman behind CrazySexyCancer) speak about saying YES to your life.
I was a brand new life coach at the time and was so full of energy, ambition and hope for my future and business and clients and self!
I came home from Montréal ready to say YES to so much more in my life. One of those things was saying YES to an office space, outside my home.
I had been working on my dining room table, in the middle of our open-concept home for the past year and I was intensely craving some private space to call my own.
Within a week or so after coming back from that trip to NYC, I found a teeny office space a five-minute walk from my home. The rent was cheap and it was perfect. My heart was filled with excitement, pride and gratitude. My lease started on December 1st. I carefully picked out my IKEA furnishings and set up shop.
2016 was an amazing year in my business. I was living my dream. And my little office space was my sanctuary. I relished in having my own, sacred spot. It was no one’s but mine.
My name was on the door and my name was on the directory in the front of the building. I felt like I had “arrived”. It had always been my dream to have an office on the prestigious Boulevard St-Joseph, where signs for Psychologists, Therapists, and Oral surgeons abound.
But as the year came to a close (and as a the result of a health scare that turned out to be nothing) I had decided to make some changes in my life and business.
I needed to go inward, to further excavate my own authentic self, to bring her forth more deeply into my work. And I needed to have more fun! I was taking this whole “work” thing very seriously and it was starting to feel draining rather than what I had envisioned when I first said YES to changing careers and becoming a Life Coach.
So 2017 was my year for going deeply inward. I did an intense 3-month course, Pillars of Genius, which helped me identify my “genius” more clearly.
I gave myself a lot of space to reflect (meaning less clients), travel, just be and have the fun I was craving…although looking back it wasn’t always all that fun.
I did a lot of it at home. In my living room, in my kitchen, from my bed. The dining room that had previously served as my desk was now long gone, sold off once we realized, after it had become my desk, that we mostly ate in the kitchen anyway.
And, truth be told, I felt awful a lot of the time. I felt guilty for the empty space my office had become. It sat there, untended to and uncared for, as I sat comfortably at home, with my dog at my feet. Or on my bed. “Surely this was no way to conduct a business. Get yourself to your fucking office, woman!”
But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. And I certainly couldn’t understand WHY.
Once I finally admitted this aloud (because we all know how much easier it is to keep things concealed when we don’t speak them aloud), I got coached on it. And coached on it, and coached on it.
I finally had a breakthrough and discovered that I felt “safer” at home going through my metamorphosis than being in my office. I needed the comfort and safety of home to really allow myself to dig into the inner work I was committed to doing.
“Fair enough”, I thought. “This feels true.”
Well, it turns out all that inner work actually did produce something tangible in the world, as My Field Guide (the sixty page coaching guidebook I created) was born and I held the first copy in my hands at the very end of 2017. I was euphoric!
The creation of this guidebook came to be during the summer months, so when September came around, I had more clarity, purpose and a product I was producing. I was ready to go.
Except, I still didn’t have this whole “weird relationship I have with my office” thing figured out quite yet until…
I realized I wanted to have a home office AND an office away from home. I even wrote about it here and it was such an A-HA moment for me at the time. I felt like I had finally given myself the permission I didn’t even realize I needed to have two offices. For whatever reason, I felt like I had been holding myself back from this desire. YES, this felt like truth!
So I bought myself a desk for home and declared to my husband, who also works from home, that I would be spending more time “officially” working from home (because all the hours spent in the living room, the kitchen and our bed were not “official” enough for me, I guess).
Except…I bet you can guess what happened next!
I was SO confused and the guilt I was feeling for 1. paying for a space I was hardly using, and 2. not feeling motivated to go to my office and making it mean ALL sorts of things about myself, was really starting to fuck with me.
So I got coached again and again, and I came to a different level of understanding this time around.
The this is the real hard truth: I was lonely.
BOOM! That hit me hard. you know truth by the way it feels and this felt true (peaceful, sad, and right).
Being an entrepreneur can be really freaking lonely. I missed having colleagues to see first thing in the morning. I missed team meetings and lunch dates. I missed the camaraderie.
I was alone now, most of the time. And my little office space felt even lonelier than staying home, as I was usually alone in our office suite too (a space shared with two other practitioners that worked primarily during hours I was not there).
Not to mention, there was no communal space or kitchen, just a tiny waiting room and our individual offices. Showing up to our dark space, turning the lights on and being alone, when I could be home with my dog and on my bed or make a delicious lunch and curl up on my couch for my call with a client, well…you can guess which one won out time and time again.
So I finally made the decision to say goodbye and move into my home office, full-time.
And, people, I’m scared!
As I write this, I am here in my rented office (see the pic below). This will be the last time I sit here, as I move out this weekend.
When I popped in the other day, there was music actually playing in the waiting room, and I could hear the muffled voices of the other practitioners with their clients. The sun was streaming in ever-so-perfectly through my window, the birds were chirping outside.
And so I stood there for a moment, taking it all in. And then the thoughts starting coming at me:
“What was I doing letting this gem of a space go? Oh my god, I made a mistake! It’s not too late; I can tell Bianca (my landlord) that I’m staying. She’ll be so happy. I’ll be so happy. YAY!”
Deep breathes. More deep breathes. This was crazy talk and I knew it.
So I did what I needed to stop the spinning and get super clear on what I wanted.
I sat down at my desk, grabbed a piece of paper, and wrote out what it would look like if I came to my office everyday…held regular office hours for myself here, in this space. Because that was the only way I could justify even considering hanging onto it. No more office at home.
Then I wrote out what it would like to be at home, same regular hours.
Well, let me tell you, my body spoke loud and clear. Even though my mind seemed to want to convince myself that this space was just perfect and it made so much sense to keep it, my body led the way to my truth.
I felt constricted when I imagined coming here regularly.
I felt EXPANSIVE when I saw myself at home.
Why? To be honest, I don’t quite know. My mind certainly didn’t like the answers my body gave me.
But what I do know is that I trust the guidance my body is providing me. I trust in the unknown of this decision. I trust that my resistance all these months is for a reason that is going to make sense in the near future. I trust, I trust, I trust.
And just so we’re clear, I am still having moments of freaking out. “What if I never find a place this cute or affordable? What if this is the beginning of the end of your business? What if just knowing you have nowhere else to go drives you mad.”
You get the drift. Right?
So I bring myself back to my trust, to my body, to the truth I feel in my soul.
I wanted to share some of these truths that have come to me in the last few months with you:
It’s funny, but saying YES to this new phase of my life and business by saying goodbye to my office space has already had a ripple effect of magic in my life!
After I told some women in my networking group that I was lonely and my office space reinforced this loneliness, not a week later and I got an invitation to join some super inspiring women for a monthly work day, in a gorgeous home, with a scheduled lunchtime for socializing, complete with all you can drink tea and coffee…and I could bring my dog too!
You cannot make this stuff up.
Magic is real when you say YES, when you honor your truth, and when you trust in what feels right even when you don’t know what the heck is going on.
So here I am, saying YES again to something new.
Saying YES to letting go of what was once a dream, even when I don’t see the entire staircase in front of me, because I trust that what’s coming is only going to be better than what’s been.
Sometimes saying YES actually means saying goodbye. And that’s ok.
I HATE getting into cold water. Like every ounce of my being screams NO!!!!!! at the mere thought of diving, jumping or, even, wading into cold water.
While I am known for my proclivity towards very warm waters and my high tolerance for heat, my preferred state of being warm has actually become a source of stress and struggle in our family.
My oldest daughter is a lover of water. And she is able to swim in any temperature. She has already swum in 4 degrees Celsius! I mean, how can we even be related?! But most importantly, she wants to share this love of the water with me and will beg and plead for me to join her in any given pool or ocean.
And nine times out of ten, I say “No”, as I watch the disappointment sweep over her face.
I am a firm believer in respecting our own boundaries and communicating them to our loved ones. I have always communicated my boundary with cold water as something physically impossible for me to get over. It feels tortuous to me to go into it. It feels like hell and I would rather do a zillion other things that get wet in cold water. It’s too much of a shock to my system (and I think I have an, as yet unspoken, fear I’ll have a heart attack!) and I just don’t fucking like it! Ok? Can’t that be enough of a reason? So leave me alone about it.
That is basically what I had to tell her, over and over and over again, until she stopped asking…at least for a little while.
But I felt like shit. I wanted to be that mom that went in and enjoyed her time with her child; to play and be goofy and show her that I could be brave and get over my “resistance”. But time and time again, I didn’t make it happen. And as the years went on, I started to feel bad. Respecting my boundaries was, and still is, important. But this felt like something deeper. I needed to shake this up.
So I promised to try harder and be courageous and “just do it”! And here’s what I learned in the process:
My comfort is in the warmth. I am happy, content, cozy and deeply comfortable in the heat. The thought of physically disrupting that comfort is, well, uncomfortable. But why? Am I someone incapable of being with discomfort? Am I not able to push myself into uncomfortable situations? Do I always stay in my comfort zone?
The answer is I am capable of being out of my comfort zone and I have lots of examples to prove that! I fly in airplanes a few times a year (it takes lots of self-coaching to not lose my shit while flying), I left a cushy career to start my own business, I learned a new language at 25 years old while moving to a new country, I am currently on a 1-2 month anti-candida diet/cleanse, and finally, I gave birth with no painkillers (YO, was THAT uncomfortable!).
I can handle discomfort. So what’s up with the cold water?
Last summer, while vacationing in Italy with my extended in-law family, I made a pledge while looking at the beautiful, happy face of my daughter, to be brave and go in the pool. Even after I knew how cold the pool was. Not only had I seen my daughter’s reaction when she jumped in (Miss I Can Swim in Any Temp Water!), but I had also dipped my toe in and, let’s just say, I was terrified.
The anticipation was awful. I would wait for as long as possible, get as hot as humanly possible and only then would I move closer to the water. Sometimes wading works best for me. Sometimes, you just gotta bite the bullet and plunge in head first. That’s my preferred way.
So here’s the beautiful lesson I learned last summer when I dove into the freezing cold pool: it was horribly cold, awful, shocking, uncomfortable, “fucketdy fuck fuck fuck” is probably what I said…but, that only lasted about 5, tops 10, seconds. That’s it.
After that, I was able to swim around, play, relax and enjoy feeling refreshed and cooled off. And, most importantly, I saw the smile on my daughter’s face and felt the pride in my own heart.
All this fuss for 5-10 seconds of discomfort? What had I been so afraid of? Every uncomfortable second was worth it.
I used that piece of information to help me for the rest of our trip. I coached myself through the resistance…reminding myself that discomfort is nothing to be feared but rather to get through it so we can feel the benefits of what else is being offered to us.
I cannot tell you how much this realization and, now, technique has helped me. I like to call it the Cold Water Dunk. It’s a three-step process:
Since Italy, I have used this technique to help me do FB lives (I coach myself to do them every single time), to help me speak my truth even when I know other’s won’t agree, to take care of my health through an elimination diet, to swim in the cold ocean with my daughter in the Dominican this last March, to name a few.
Discomfort is a wise teacher. And my aversion to the cold water really helped drive this point home for me. It only lasts a few seconds. We can do this. We were made for this.
So next time you doubt yourself or feel the resistance to doing something uncomfortable or revert back to your default ways, think of the Cold Water Dunk and jump in. I can almost guarantee you won’t regret it!
I want an exciting, fulfilling, purpose-led and heart-led life. I always have and I suspect you have too.
It’s why I switched careers at 40 to become a life coach, leaving behind a solid career with a great employer, moving into the unknown with excitement and trepidation and a whole lot of butterflies in my gut. You can read more about my story here.
And it’s why my coaching practice is called Your Novel Life. A name that came to me with such power and clarity about 5 months into my coach training.
A name that holds within it the promise of a new life, while also playing around with the notion that we are the authors of our own lives.
Yes, the authors. We create the stories of our lives. We get to “write” out the plot twists and details and how we want our stories to unfold and, perhaps, even end.
Yes, we are that powerful.
And no, I am not delusional. I am well aware that we cannot control the circumstances of our lives, but we can control how we react to them…AND THIS IS EVERYTHING!!!! (Yes, I am screaming this last bit because it is SO IMPORTANT!)
This powerful revelation happened for me during coach training and completely opened me up to a life that was all of a sudden new and different from what’s been known before.
That is what coaching does to someone. It opens them up to new ways of thinking, being, and living in the world. Your relationships change, your self-perception changes, the vision for your life changes.
You become the master of your domain (Seinfeld fans anyone?) and you recognize how much power you have over your life when you understand that you have the ability to choose how to live.
Your life is not anyone else’s responsibility but your own and that is just mind-blowing when you really think about it! And a little scary too. But mostly unbelievably freeing and empowering! And this is what I want to share with you, my kids, my husband, my friends, my family, and basically anyone who will listen. LOL!
Hence, Your NOVEL Life; a life that is new and different from what’s been known before.
When this name for my business hit me, I could not turn away from it. It came to me, literally, as a knowing deep in my soul. A name that was not so much chosen by me as given to me. And I was (and continue to be) asked to use it to relay this message:
You (me, all of us) are here to create and live your own authentic story.
Your Novel Life and the work I do in the world is my invitation to wake up to the central and powerful role we each play in our own lives.
It’s about taking charge of your life, and living it with curiosity, purpose, joy, love and compassion.
It’s a life that is grounded in the ordinary hum-drum of daily life, while inviting you to be fully open to finding and experiencing the extraordinary within that.
It’s a life that is in constant evolution…filled with learning, growing and changing into who we are meant to be in any given moment.
It’s a life where you know yourself deeply and well enough so you can move through it with lightness, freedom and confidence (at least most of the time because we are human after all).
It’s a life that is at once messy and wonderful. It doesn’t offer perfection, but rather encourages you to be as real as possible. It’s about putting both feet in and taking a leap of faith over and over and over again.
It’s about trusting in what you cannot see, while learning to trust in what you feel.
It’s a life that is compassionate towards yourself, accepting of your limitations and quirks, and fiercely celebrating the glory of your heart and your efforts and kindness and all that you give and want to be and do in the world.
If you’re curious to know what living Your NOVEL Life looks like more concretely, I invite you to visit this page on my website.
You may be wondering how I know this? You may be thinking, what does she know? You may even think that I have led a fairly uneventful and almost perfect life and it’s easy for me to say all of this because I have never faced anything challenging or awful or circumstances that felt life-crushing.
Indeed, I have led an extraordinary life filled with many, many, many blessings. I celebrate them and am grateful for them, nearly every day.
But scattered in between the blessings you’ll find deep and mournful pain that has ripped out my heart more than once, loss, rape, emotional abuse, sexual harassment, bullying, miscarriages, health issues, lots of fears, relationship problems, self-esteem issues….you get the idea.
Here is what I know: we are all complicated, diverse, richly unique individuals that want to be loved, cherished and accepted for who we are. And we deserve to live lives that are the fullest expressions of ourselves, to live out our most authentic stories.
And in order to do that, we start with ourselves….we go back to the basics, to the relationship we have with our own souls.
Your Novel Life and the work I do is an invitation to step into a relationship with yourself that is loving, compassionate, and empowered. Work with me as I teach you how to identify what is keeping you stuck or afraid, lost or overwhelmed, in pain but wanting relief.
Work with me if you are ready for something new and different from what’s been known before. Work with me if you want to know how to handle the messy bits of life while still enjoying the wonderful bits too. Work with me if you want to feel lighter, freer and more confident.
Do I have all the answers to everything? Um, hell no!
Do I know how to listen with deep compassion and non-judgment to someone who is ready to be heard, someone who is ready to tell their story and then shift their story for good? Hell YES!
If you know you are ready to live Your NOVEL Life, I invite you to sign-up for a Complimentary Discovery Call. We’ll be able to discuss your specific coaching needs so I can offer you the best option possible because I want nothing more than for you to create a life you love!