Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Parenting language that promotes healthy body images

New Year's Resolution Speak!

It's that time of year to revisit how we communicate New Year's fitness resolutions.

Constructed on a 5 foot 1 inch frame, my body image has been a work-in-progress for most of my 62 years.  Though I was raised by parents who encouraged me to not be defined by my gender, size or body type, I still felt the pressure.  I was more worried about my roundish body in a bathing suit than the burn scars that covered 20 percent of it.  I didn't feel responsible for the scars and thus dismissed them from my pressure to be perfect.  The not-so-perfect roundness of my body, well that was another story.  

I was blessed to have a mother with strong instincts and unconditional love.  She hung in there on more than one occasion when I wrecked an otherwise delightful Mother-Daughter outing by ending it in tears inside a fitting room.  The day's goal to search for, select and purchase the perfect outfit for a special event.  However, my inability to capture the look sabotaged the joy of the outing.  Determined that my own three daughters not fall into the same trap, I was buoyed by the writings of Mary Pipher.  Pipher, a psychotherapist specializing in adolescent girls authored the best selling book, Reviving Ophelia as well as The Shelter of Each Other.  Pipher gave voice to the pressure and defeat I felt when measuring myself against unrealistic images.  With years of documented cases as evidence, she had the credentials to bring to light the cause and effect that I had only suspected to be the source of my frustration.

It seems there is a drip, drip, drip of not so subtle messages constantly bombarding our daughters.  These powerful messages help to shape our children's concept of normal and healthy.  The messages put pressure on girls to be pink and pretty with the body dimensions of a Barbie doll.  While parents' abilities to counter these messages seem small in comparison to these bigger than life images on screen and in print, one of the most effective steps is to recognize the power of words.

My husband and I had considered ourselves well-read and fairly astute when it came to parenting, but not until I read an excerpt from Pipher's book did I realize I was not fully acknowledging the power of our words and how they affected our daughters' body image.  It was not enough to encourage our girls to be proud of their bodies and learn to take care of them through wise food choices and exercise.  We were making an impact by the way we observed other body types and the dialogue that surrounded our impressions.  We had no idea that we were unknowingly contributing to the sea of mixed messages.

Awareness of healthy body image language took practice and discipline.   We could see that we were buying into and supporting the same messages that concerned us.  We began to notice that we, too, were talking about our need to diet, someone else's weight loss or gain, in front of our kids.  If our goal was to take charge of helping our kids build healthy self images then we needed to walk our talk.

 Today, our girls are grown women raising daughters.  While many of the same body image challenges persist, so too do the sound principles laid out in Reviving Ophelia!

Monday, December 4, 2017


There have been innumerable titles and catch phrases used to describe effective communication.  However, regardless of the many ways to describe it, the goal of effective communication…to create a connection and understanding, has never changed.  Effective communication is the barrier that stands between being heard and acknowledged and feeling “stuck” and powerless.

Allowing others to support their efforts while working through transitions is critical to my coaching clients’ success.  However, they are often challenged by their inability to clearly state how and why that support is needed.  As it turns out, VULNERABILITY is a key element in relationship dynamics.  While it endears us to others, it’s often the very thing that stops us from asking for help in the first place.

We tend to not want to look vulnerable and yet we (particularly women) are immediately drawn to protect, support and champion others whom we view as vulnerable.  In fact, if we look at our deepest and most meaningful relationships, vulnerability (at one point or another) always leads to deeper bonding.  Absent the willingness to be vulnerable, relationships stay linear and superficial.

So when we prepare to engage in an empowering conversation, whether at work or at home, there are some steps to consider before taking the plunge.

1.       Recognize your feelings around the topic or issue but leave your ego at the door.  Get clear as to exactly what it is you’re feeling…”I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m feeling unappreciated, I’m feeling invisible, I’m feeling powerless”.  Using the personal pronoun “I” in stating how you feel will help you to take responsibility for your feelings.  If you are having difficulty separating your feelings from the other person’s behavior, you’re not ready to talk!

2.       What is the intent or the object of the conversation you’re considering having?  How can you move forward toward a solution to the issue or challenge and honor the person, the relationship and yourself?  Stay away from needing to be RIGHT.  Stay focused on the highest intent of the conversation.

3.       Interestingly enough, the right time to have the conversation isn’t when you perceive the other person is ready to hear it.  Rather, it’s when you are clear with steps 1 and 2.

4.       Speak to the possibilities by giving voice to moving forward from a place of integrity, confidence and courage.  Keep it positive and solution driven, not accusatory or judgmental.

I’ve experienced the amazing transformation that takes place when these steps are taken before initiating a difficult conversation.  Shifting your mind-set from “power and dominance” to “empower and honor” can go a long way when soliciting the support you need in order to bring about change.

If you’re ready to learn how to have empowering conversations in order to discover and develop your strengths and to deepen your relationships, I’m here to help.  Connect with me at: 


Friday, November 17, 2017

Courage to say NO!

Why is it so hard to say “no”?

I opened the door and there she stood, Christmas cookies in hand with her family trailing behind walking up my front steps.  She was full of anticipation and excitement.  After all, it was three days till Christmas and she was there to join my family in a neighborhood caroling party.  Why, then, did I have this overwhelming urge to slam the door in her face?  What on earth was the matter with me?  At that very moment, I had reached my proverbial “wall”.  I simply could not face one more activity, one more party and I was certainly in no mood to sing carols at the top of my lungs.  Every bone in my body ached and my spirit had flat-lined.  Here we were, at my most favorite time of the year, my most loved holiday and I was baked…DONE!  I wish I could honestly say that I’d reached my profound turning point and from that moment on I stopped choosing to double and triple book my calendar.    Unfortunately, that was not the case.  I sleep-walked through the event, hosting it as usual but with a mummy-like presence before collapsing into bed the minute the door shut behind the happy carolers.  

My exhaustion and overwhelm were only symptoms of something I have since come to recognize as an addiction to the validation and recognition that comes from saying “yes”.  After all, had I not voluntarily committed to every social event, school activity, sporting event, church concert, children’s concert, gift shopping, party planning, gift wrapping, cookie baking, card addressing, tree-trimming, house decorating and company party planning and hosting for all those in my life who were counting on me?  The cold, hard truth of the matter was…NO!  I was not doing all that for my children, my husband, my friends or even my community.  I thought I was, but really, I was saying yes to my vision of who I thought I needed to be.

If this scenario seems familiar, you’re not alone.  Learning to say no is a starting place for about 90% of my female clients.  It has a deeply woven thread in the fabric of overwhelm, frustration, burn-out and the inability to live in the present.  Overwhelm and over-committing don’t discriminate.  They’re troublesome to virtually everyone, regardless of intelligence, education, socio-economic level and proficiency.  So why do we do this to ourselves?

We fall into the trap of over-committing due to a number of factors.  ( At one time or another, I’m pretty sure I’ve had to deal with all of these).

·       setting boundaries.

·       putting strategies in place to protect boundaries.

·       allowing other’s issues and crises to becoming your own.

·       feeling validated by “busyness” and having a heavy schedule.

·       fearing missing out on something.

·       fearing damaging your reputation by letting someone down.

·       getting clear as to what activities really matter to you.

In her book, Find Your Courage, Margie Warrell suggests there are two key blockers that prevent us from finding the courage to say no:

1.    Lack of clarity about what you want to say yes to.

2.    “Shoulding” on yourself…how we think we should be seen by others.

In life coaching, this is where we start.  I help my clients 1-identify what they value, 2-get clear about their purpose and 3-make choices that are meaningful to them.
As we head into the holidays, give some thought to where you may be empowered to avoid the overload by saying NO!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Finding the Rembrandt!

Welcome to the quickly approaching holiday season and to the end of what, for me, has been a year of transitions. My coaching business took a significant turn this year when I decided to expand my practice to include corporate clients.  In addition to my private coaching clients, I'm now engaged as a contract coach for LIFE MEETS WORK INC,
providing New Parent Career Coaching to companies throughout the United States.

Whether I'm in my first coaching session with an attorney, a CPA, a corporate executive or a small business owner, there is always some confusion as to exactly what coaching is, and what results might be expected as a result of coaching.  While watching former President George W. Bush in his recent appearance on the Tonight Show, I was struck by the way he relayed his story about his interest in becoming a painter. He stated that he had a desire to paint and that his instructions to his art teacher were, "There's a Rembrandt trapped in this body. Your job is to find him".  That was it!  The former President articulated the role, goal and mission of coaching in that brilliant and elegantly simple phrase. "There is a Rembrandt trapped in this body. Your job is to find him".
Helping my clients discover their purpose and passion, reunite them with their confidence, and expand their skills in order to "Find the Rembrandt" is a cherished privilege.  As my year of tremendous growth and discovery comes to a wrap, I look forward to the challenges ahead. You have a Rembrandt trapped in your body. We all do. I can help you find him!
Wishing you the joy of a discovered Rembrandt,


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Conquering the Mess-Stress Cycle…easier than you think!

Conquering the Mess-Stress Cycle...easier than you think!

Most of the time, as I contemplate potential topics for this blog, I land on a subject that has been a focus for multiple clients.  This time, however, there is a prevailing topic of conversation among my clients, friends and family that leaves me no choice but to write about the power of being organized and having systems.  Apparently, the seasonal move back indoors following months of summer activity has caused some to suddenly notice how their inside spaces are  working against them.  Although I’m currently coaching a number of new parents, it’s experienced parents who have recently express to me their desire for a less cluttered life.

Many people have reported feeling so completely out of control that they are willing to spend a large sum of money to hire someone to just fix it for them.  (Unfortunately, even if you could hire someone to fix it for you, you wouldn’t be able to maintain the fix unless you personally construct and buy-in to the solution).  It may be the stacks of unopened mail, the laundry that seems to have babies at night, the project that has taken up residence on the dining room table or simply the time wasted repeatedly hunting for the car keys.  It’s important, of course, to have the ability to tolerate the degree of mess that’s a normal by-product of living.  However, if you don’t have systems in place that support continual checks and balances around life’s messes, they will set up house in your head, create stress and rob you of energy.   In order to break the mess-stress cycle, we have to be able to identify how we got there in the first place.  We do that by examining our habits and behaviors.  Habits are what we do every day without thinking.  They are learned and repeated and then they become automatic, like throwing your coat and purse into the kitchen chair when you come in the door.  A system is having a landing place for the purse and the coat that is easy to access and will not require moving when everyone comes to the kitchen table for dinner.

The process of making a change in your life, as in all life coaching, begins with questions.

·         What is it that you want?

·         Why do you want it?

·         What will happen if you don’t make the change?

·         What are you willing to give up for the change?

·         Have you seen an example of the system you are wanting?

·         Have you had success using this system in the past?

The next step is to use your answers to create systems that will work for you.


Should you be interested in receiving coaching in order to conquer your mess-stress cycle, I propose that we work in partnership to identify your goals and to establish strategies and accountabilities that will enable you to achieve them.  Give me a call. 




Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to School

 Back to School

Regardless of whether or not you have a direct connection to school schedules, in some way, we are all affected by the shift from summer to fall.  Even corporate and enterprise worlds reflect a more casual and loose attitude through the summer months as they respond to employee and client vacation schedules.  As we near Labor Day, the official marker of summer’s conclusion, it might be helpful to return to “school” for a little refresher on how to manage the additional stress that comes with new fall schedules, projects, deadlines and expectations.

·         Get clear as to what really matters to you.  Know what is working for you right now with your priorities.  If you are enjoying a renewed sense of balance as a result of more summer exercise, family time or self-care, recognize how it feels to you and what it would take in the way of scheduling to continue it into your new fall calendar.

·         Establish boundaries to protect what matters to you.   Establishing boundaries contain solid best practice policies that allow you to check requests and demands on your time against your values and priorities before committing. 

·         Institute a 24HR window of time before you agree to any commitment.  No immediate response policy will allow you to evaluate the choice and how it matches your priorities in a timely and respectful manner.

·         Don’t allow others to create urgency by transferring their issues and crisis to you.  Short of a medical emergency, you have the power of choice to select how and when you will accomplish a task.  Utilize this power by owning your time.

·         Resist feeling validated by “busyness” and having a heavy schedule.  Practice allowing yourself the freedom and restoration of “open” time.

·         Recognize FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and make sure you are not falling into the trap.  We have a culture that rewards frantic busyness that leads to over-whelm and exhaustion.  Make sure that you value how you spend your time.

·         Learn to say NO!  In her book, Find Your Courage, Margie Warrell suggests there are two key blockers that prevent us from finding the courage to say no: 1. Lack of clarity about what you want to say yes to.  2. “Shoulding” on yourself…how we think we should be seen by others.

As a member of your work and family communities, you have requirements on your time that are non-negotiable.  Consequently, it is imperative that you become even more selective and intentional with the remaining hours of your days, they are precious.  As Holly Mosier writes…”Our culture encourages us to plan every moment and fill our schedules with one activity and obligation after the next, with no time to just be.  But the human body and mind require downtime to rejuvenate.  Learn to say no to demands, requests, invitations, and activities that leave you with no time for yourself.  Until I learned to say no, and mean it, I was always overloaded by stress.”

If once and for all you would like to eliminate over-whelm, over-booked and stressed out from your life, pop me an email to schedule a complimentary coaching session.    Cheers!  ~   Jan


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thriving through Transitions

For many years now, I have been intrigued (some might say obsessed) by the French term …JOIE DE VIVRE.  Sure, I understand the literal translation is “joy of life”.  What’s elusive to me, though, are the nuts and bolts of just how someone lives their life in the flow of “joie de vivre”.

Granted, I’ve never felt more joyful, ageless and present as during a sweet visit to France back in 2000.  But in all honesty, I thought that had everything to do with being on vacation with the best of friends, lots of wine and fabulous food!  As it turns out, those are the superficial, more marketed, outward signs of “Joie de Vivre”.  As I later discovered, “Joie de Vivre” is more about sustainability and one’s attitude towards daily living.  It is an attitude that is free from the constraints of money, trappings and social pressures.

Janie Cat Callan writes in her book  Bonjour, Happiness  …”I think of joie de vivre as optimism about one’s life and the ability to enjoy what you have without worrying too much about what you don’t.”  Her interview with Isabelle, a Frenchwoman living in Paris revealed…”Joie de Vivre is about loving life, loving people, loving to be alive, feeling alive.  It is about smiling, being in your heart and being grateful for all the beautiful things in your life: being in good health, being able to hear, to see, to walk, being grateful for all the lovely and loving people (people we know or strangers we meet), being grateful for the nature surrounding us and all that it gives to us.  It is to be grateful for the mystery of life, and that we are able to live and breathe.”

Ah, now she’s speaking my language!  This statement could have been drafted directly from one of my coaching sessions.  The deeper meaning of “Joie de vivre” requires us to have an element of gratitude and appreciation for the most simple and yet profound beauty and gifts in our everyday life. Adopting an “Attitude of Gratitude” is the third action item on my TRANSITIONS SURVIVAL GUIDE list.  One of the first exercises I do with clients working through a transition is designed to help them get grounded around gratitude.  Nothing will help you to “zoom out” from the intensity and energy around your obstacles like taking stock of your gifts!  Recognizing how grateful you are for the things in your life that are right and beautiful is a good place to start building your strength around dealing with those parts of your life that you’d like to change.

Adopting and practicing “joie de vivre” will move you from surviving to thriving!   There’s a thought.  Maybe I should aim higher and change my TRANSITIONS SURVIVAL GUIDE to THRIVING THROUGH TRANSITIONS with JOIE DE VIVRE….

1.    Take it one step at a time...Process in the present by keeping   your focus short-term through the transition.

2.    Adopt a plan of self-care.  Find one manageable activity that will help you manage your stress and feed your soul every day. 

3.    Develop an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE.  Look for simple things that give you joy and heighten your awareness of the gifts in your life.

4.    Give yourself credit for past victories and for having the courage to meet this current challenge.

5.    Look for "under-utilized resources".  Allow others to help you and give yourself permission to tap into support.

6.    Surround yourself with good role-models.  Be aware of those who have gone before you in this current challenge or role.  Connect with them for advice and support.

7.    Allow your places and sources of Joy to be your inspiration for moving toward your goal.

Encouraging clients to get to know themselves by defining what gives them joy and then creating a clear and detailed picture of their “sweet-spot” has helped me realize that my “joie de vivre” lives in helping them navigate their way to “thriving”.  I’d be honored to make the trip with you.  Give me a call.