Archive for the ‘Changing Patterns’ Category

It’s that time of year.  The end of one and the beginning of a new one.  The time when many people size up where they are and think about where they want to be.  I wrote last year about how I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.  Or, at least, that they aren’t for me.  They seem to set people up for failure and that’s not a good way to start a new year…or a good feeling to have at the end of January when you realize you’ve not followed through with your resolution/s.  Then you have 11 months to bemoan that and feel bad.

This year I am thinking about the new year in a different way.  I’m looking ahead at the year to come in a broader way and trying to come up with a metaphor or vision for how I want my year to be or how I want to be as a person.  2011 was all about resettling in San Francisco and getting my older son set up in high school.  We’re resettled and he’s settled.

As I sit here in a funny massage chair in a cottage in Maui’s upcountry, I’m trying to imagine where I want to be (mostly mentally) at this time next year.  Later today we’ll go to the top of Haleakala, the volcano on Maui.  I think I’ll find inspiration up there.  Maybe next year will be about climbing peaks…physical and metaphorical.  Maybe 2011 was the year of the burrowing rabbit and 2012 will be the year of the mountain goat or the bald eagle.  I’m not sure, but I like the idea of looking at it in this broad sense.  Then I can ask myself during the year whether I am staying true to that vision.  Even if I don’t get to the top of many peaks…am I trying?  Am I moving forward?

What is your vision for 2012?

May 2012 be all that you want it to be.

I like routine and habit as much as the next person, but I had one of those moments last week when I was reminded of how great it can be to do something out of my mold.  How that can bring the unexpected.

I was planning to go to a fundraiser for a friend’s women’s theater group, 3 Girls Theatre.  It was across town and parking was sure to be a nightmare.  I was feeling really tired and if the friend I was planning to go with had given me the out, I would happily have stayed at home and read my novel.  But it was one of those extremely rare warm San Francisco evenings, so when she said, Let’s ride bikes!  I couldn’t really find a reason to say no.  I’m too tired sounded lame.  There are too many hills sounded lame too.

So off we went.  Two middle-aged women (Oh god, did I really say that? Is that really what we are?!) in party clothes, wearing bike helmets and crossing San Francisco.  Only one giant hill.  We arrived at the party a bit sweaty, but we decided to call it glowing.  We stayed long past the official end of the party and then we climbed back on our bikes and started the ride home.  It was still warm out and even though we both had plans the next night, my friend declared that this was too nice a night not to stop somewhere on the way home.  So, we did.

We sat at an outdoor table at Zuni’s on Market Street.  We had our picture taken by the guy sitting next to us.  That after he first took a couple of himself…phone facing the wrong way!  We all had a great laugh over that and I still smile when I think about it.

It was just one of those unexpected nights when you feel like life is very special and you wonder why you don’t step out of the mold more often.  Why don’t you?  Why don’t I?


Lots of people ask me these days if I am a career coach or if I know one.  I’ve been tempted to add career coach to my site because in fact, nearly all of my clients have come to me about something related to their careers.   And it seems that’s what people are looking for these days.

But I hesitate to change things because I consider career to come under the banner of life coaching.  And the way I support people looking for a job or career change is the same way I support them in other things.  I’m not as a consultant with a specific plan for how someone should look for a job.  I come at it from the perspective that a career/job should fit into a client’s whole life and so the client, not me, has to be an integral part of designing a search strategy.

So what do I do?

  • I’m there to listen;
  • Offer different perspectives…it’s sometimes hard to remember that there are different ways of looking at situations;
  • Hold the client accountable for what she says she’ll do (no, not that!);
  • Push him to step out of his comfort zone if it might mean getting what he really wants (not that, either!);
  • Be a cheerleader…not with pom poms, but someone who sees your potential reminds you of that.

And my clients keep getting jobs…good jobs despite the dire economic reports about hiring.  So, yes, I’m a career coach, a parenting coach, a relationship coach, a get-your-ass-in-gear coach…a life coach.

I watch people struggle to make changes in their lives…whether it’s a diet, a relationship, a job, a way of being, and I work to support them in making things happen.   I always ask clients what they hope the outcome of change will be, how they hope things will be different/better if they’re successful, to consider what might be getting in the way, and finally to choose a baby step they can take in the right direction to feel some movement right away.

Everyone approaches change differently, and everyone comes to it with different baggage and tools.   My sister sent me a blog post a while ago that provides some insight into how different people approach change and gives a good starting question for anyone going in that direction:   are you and abstainer (more extreme) or a moderator (less extreme)?  (Click here to see the post on Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project website.)

Here’s the idea…for some people being very clear and extreme is an easier way make change.  It’s better to take out all temptation and stick to a clear and simple path.  For others, going extreme creates anxiety and a strong sense of loss or deprivation and so they more easily give up what they’re trying to do.  For them, the right path is allowing some room for flexibility.

Are you an abstainer or a moderator?  I’ve spent some time thinking about it for myself, and my realization is that in my DNA I’m an abstainer (better to be extreme and deny myself things), but that I strive to be a moderator when I can.  I think over time I’ve figured out when I need to give in to my nature and when I can play with it.



I was sitting in a jeep a few weeks ago in the South African bush following wild dogs on the hunt.  Our guide told us it was extremely rare to see wild dogs and that we were very lucky to be on the hunt with them.   They look like scraggly, spotty mutt dogs with huge ears…cute, but not really.

They ran helter-skelter…15 or 20 of them as we crashed through the bush in pursuit.  Every once in a while they would stop and listen.  There seemed to be no real order to what they were doing and they didn’t mind our presence so I asked our guide what they were after and/or listening for.  His answer:  anything.  He explained that they get active when they get hungry, and then just get up and start running to see what they’ll find.  This cracked me up.  It seemed so “doggish” to me…no thought, just action.   It felt so counter to how I would do it.  In a word, lame.

But I keep thinking about those wild dogs and I’ve started to think that maybe they’re on to something.  At least partly.  I see so many people stuck in different parts of their lives (me included) and they/we never get going.  We think, we plan, we ponder, we argue, and on and on.  And nothing happens.  We just lie there.

What if we embraced our inner wild dog?   Just get up and go.  See what happens.  See what you come across.  But go.  Run.  Of course, wild dogs are spurred on by hunger and the need to survive.  That’s a pretty powerful incentive.  It’s what rules the bush and there were countless examples of this.   But humans have hunger too.  (If you’re reading this, I’d bet you don’t have physical hunger from not having enough food…and for that we are incredibly lucky.)  We hunger for fulfillment, satisfaction, purpose, love, friendship and on and on.

What are you hungry for?  What would it be like to just start running toward something without thinking it to pieces?  The idea has captured my imagination.