I’m popping in to apologize for my unexpected disappearance lately. I’ve been dealing with some health issues. Thankfully, it’s nothing too serious, but it’s caused some pretty major fatigue that’s forced me to pull back on a lot of things. I’ve been wanting to write an update here for a while, but even something as seemingly simple as this quick post has felt like too much. All my energy has been going towards self-care, the basic necessities of life, and work for pre-existing clients; there’s rarely much else (if anything) left to offer anyone after that.
Resting and self-care have always been priorities for me, but now it’s on a totally different level. And even though I’m still in the thick of the getting-well process, I’m learning a lot and noticing some fascinating things as I let my body dictate my life. I’m also noticing what happens when I resist it or try to force my way through something even though I’m really too tired for it. I’m hoping to be able to explain more once my brain is fully functioning again.
I’ve got a new doctor I like, and she’s trying some new things that I think are finally starting to make a difference. I have no doubt that once I feel fully well again, I’ll come out stronger than before; I’m sure all I’m learning during this process will work its way to you one way or the other. And although the time table may be beyond my control, I’m feeling hopeful that the start of the new year will bring a fresh start to both my health and my coaching.
Please know I’m still thinking about you all (and, when I can, I'm playing with some fun offerings for you for when I’m ready to jump back in). I wish you the best both for the holidays and on your overall road to joy, and I’m looking forward to catching up with you on the flip side!
You know how Ben Franklin taught us nothing's certain but death and taxes?
Well, he forgot something: change.
Change can be a hard process sometimes, even when it's something good and something we initiate ourselves.
I recently realized my curly girl haircut was the perfect metaphor for the process that so often happens when dealing with change.
Can you relate?
You know you’re ready for a change.
Maybe you want to try something drastic.
Maybe you just want some minor fixes so you'll feel you're at your best.
You go to the expert who you know can help you get exactly what you want.
You sit down, take a deep breath as you settle in,
and explain what you’re hoping to get out of the experience.
The action begins.
Progress is made.
Then you get to the messy middle.
This is not the pretty part of the process.
It’s big and wild and feels untamable.
But you’ve been through experiences like this before.
You know how overwhelmed, frustrated, and crazed it can make you feel.
You admit that it’s scary.
You also know that given time and the right actions,
you’ll get through this.
You know the end result will be worth it.
You realize you need some time to relax and de-stress.
You do what you have to in order to calm yourself down.
You remind yourself to trust the process.
You pamper yourself
and ask for help when you need it.
You might find yourself in weird or uncomfortable situations,
but you know that’s just how it has to be.
You make the most of it.
You take notice of all the progress you’ve made so far.
You know you’re getting closer to the end.
You just have to wait a little bit longer and then…
It took time.
It took patience.
It took help.
It took trust.
Sometimes it felt like it wasn’t going to end.
There were moments you thought
“What the hell have I done?”
But you’d always known deep down
you were doing the right thing.
And, just like always,
that wise voice inside of you was right.
Special thanks to Debbie Hocevar of Santo Salon and Spa for her help, encouragement, and my great haircut!
all photos creative commons
Helen Keller went blind and deaf when she was 19 months old. She spent the next four-and-a-half years unable to communicate. She was frustrated, angry, and out of control, and who could blame her?
Then her parents brought in the brilliant and patient teacher, Annie Sullivan. The rest is history.
With Annie’s help, Helen:
Helen went from not even understanding the concept of words to accomplishing a list that would be extremely impressive for someone who was able to see and hear.
So for the love of Helen Keller, stop saying “I can’t” if there’s something you want to do!
If you can’t do it on your own, find your Annie Sullivan. Maybe you’ll need more than one Annie. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you get out of your own way. Find what’s holding you back, figure out a way through it, and go on to become the incredible, game-changing, world-changing you you’re meant to be.
I’m not saying it’ll be easy. And I’m not saying you need to live a life that even remotely resembles Helen’s. But there’s something you’re meant to do. There’s something your heart longs for. There’s something you’ll regret if you get to the end of your life and haven’t done it.
Start now. Find your something. Then do whatever it takes to make it happen.
Lately, when I’m not doing coaching-related stuff or napping, I’ve been writing biographies for first and second graders for an online reference site.
Not only is it a fun gig, but I get to learn a lot and be inspired on a constant basis. I thought I’d share some of my biggest inspirations (so far) in the hopes that you can get something from them, too.
Abraham Lincoln: As a kid, Abe barely went to school. Yet he learned to read, write, and do math and eventually studied law and grammar on his own. (He borrowed books from friends.) Plus, of course, he won the Civil War and freed all the slaves. Abe might have come from inauspicious beginnings, but he certainly didn’t let anything keep him from getting ahead and doing what was right.
Franklin D. Roosevelt: Just because nobody had run for president more than twice didn’t mean jack sh*t to him. He ran a third time. Then a fourth. All from his wheelchair. And all because he felt compelled to help people who were struggling.
Dwight D. Eisenhower: Like Lincoln, Eisenhower came from a poor family. Like Lincoln, he didn’t let that hold him back. First, Ike worked two jobs. Why? So he could send his brother to college. His BROTHER. There was no money to pay for his own college education. He went to West Point and the rest is history—and history-making. Ike went on to lead the biggest military attack in history and thus defeated the Nazis. Check and mate.
Christopher Columbus: Okay, so this guy thought he landed in Asia, but he actually landed somewhere in the Bahamas. He also inadvertently (one hopes) ruined the lives of many natives by opening the metaphorical doors of the so-called “New World” to Europe. To be honest, those things make me like him a lot less. But then there’s the whole “I’ll sail in a direction no one has ever sailed in before” idea he had, and I can’t help but be impressed by the dude’s chutzpah. Things may have gone differently than he’d planned, but you’ve gotta admit that his vision and bravery changed the world.
Amerigo Vespucci: Good ol’ Amerigo didn’t actually discover anything new. BUT. He was the one who realized the New World was actually a totally different continent and not eastern Asia. Sometimes it takes someone with a different perspective to help you see what’s right in front of you. We all have our blind spots, and that’s okay. Also, Columbus was totally chill with the new country getting named after Amerigo. They were buds, so he was happy for his friend. That’s what you call a good sport. It’s a pretty great thing to have relationships like that.
Cleopatra: When Cleo’s dad died, Cleo was supposed to co-rule with her 12 year old brother. (And marry him, as was the custom. Ew.) Cleo wasn’t having any of that. She declared herself Pharaoh. She knew she had to fight her brother, that she needed Rome’s help to do it, and that she’d never get anywhere near Caesar’s palace. (The actual palace, not the casino in Vegas, although she might’ve had more fun there.) Anyway, Cleo had people roll her up in a carpet burrito and delivered to the palace. Once she was inside, she unrolled herself and proceeded to seduce/convince Julius to help her. She ultimately took full control of Egypt. Talk about creative problem solving!
Amelia Earhart: As a kid, Amelia collected newspaper clippings of women who worked in traditionally male jobs. So basically, she was a rebel feminist badass from the beginning. Amelia broke all kinds of records—flight paths, flight heights, flight distance, and first to [insert one of many, many firsts here]. When her plane got lost, her husband read a letter she’d left him to read only in case she died. She said “Please know I am quite aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried.” Preach it, sista!
Florence Nightingale: Florence said God told her to be a nurse. She listened, despite the fact that women of her class didn’t work, despite the fact that nursing schools didn’t even exist, despite the fact that her parents were totally against it. The woman studied in secret for years until daddy dearest finally said, “Fine. Go study nursing.” Once she was a nurse, she went to Turkey during the Crimean War because all the English soldiers kept dying—not in battle, but in the hospital. It was filthy and there was no medicine, but the stubborn, righteous docs wouldn’t let her help. “No worries,” Flo said. “I’ll just tell the biggest newspaper all about it, and once people know how you’re essentially killing our soldiers, they’ll get all outraged, and I’ll get all the support I need, and I’ll fix this place up, and it’ll drop the death rate from 40% to 2%. Oh, and then I’ll go back to England, fight for good healthcare for all, start a fabulous nursing school, and essentially save thousands and thousands and thousands of lives. ‘Cause I’m amazing and you suck.” Okay, I might be paraphrasing. But the accomplishments are all for real. Florence was pretty damn impressive.
All these people inspire me. Some found their purpose early on, some found it when they were older. But when they did find it, they went full steam ahead. They overcame all kinds of obstacles. They figured ways around every “no” they got. They believed in themselves. I’m all for that kind of history repeating itself—over and over again, and I’m all in. Are you?
image courtesy of endlessorigami.com
My inner GPS has decided to take over scheduling my life, and it’s been a fascinating thing to watch.
I recently transitioned into full-time self-employment, and a coach friend suggested I plan out my days to ensure I get stuff done. Normally, that’d sound like heaven to my schedule-loving, list-obsessed self, but before she even finished the sentence, I knew it wasn’t right for me.
Very quickly, I discovered that I can sketch out an idea of what I want to get done during the week, but attempting to delegate tasks to certain days feels like I’m trying to run directly into hurricane-force winds. It’s too freaking hard, and, of course, goes totally against my easy experiment.
So instead of planning, I’m trusting: trusting my inner GPS to guide me, trusting that everything that needs to get done will, trusting that when something I’d tried to plan changes, it’s because something else—maybe even something better—is coming my way instead.
As for things that really do have to be scheduled, like doctor appointments or deadlines for projects, they still fit perfectly in to this way of living. How? Because these are things I’m choosing to do for myself because they feel right, plus I know that everything else in my life can be flexible. So the scheduling (and the doing) does still happen, but with the added bonus that there’s less stress around it all.
Letting go and trusting the process really does take the pressure off. I still get disappointed something didn’t work out or have moments of regret that I didn’t get something done, but those feelings tend to pass pretty quickly. More often than not, I’m living in a state of curiosity about why things happened the way it did, where this is going, and what exciting things are coming my way. It’s actually pretty damn fun living this way.
* * *
At this point you very well may be thinking something along the lines of, “But I can’t live like this because I have a job/have to take care of my family/need to constantly keep my eye on my Ebay auctions.” Trust me, I totally get it. I’ve spent the vast majority of my life being told where I needed to be and when, so I never take this opportunity or this freedom for granted.
This is just where my inner GPS has led me, and, ultimately, that’s what this post is about—letting go, being led, and allowing what wants to happen just happen. In my case, I was led to stop trying to control of my life, to stop giving other people permission to control it, and instead to Trust with a capital “T.”
Now, lest you think that one day I just casually switched from being an over-thinking super-scheduler to a feeling-my-way non-scheduler, I just want to say—Not. Even. Close.
While there were many wonderful, magical moments along my journey, it was also a scary, difficult and (at times) seemingly endless road littered with struggle and fear. I knew things were going to change, but I just couldn’t imagine how, even as I stuck with all my coaching training.
My brain was constantly firing off thoughts along the lines of “But what if [insert bad thing here] happens?” There was a strong inner battle between holding on and letting go. But, with help from fabulous coaches and my amazing holistic healthcare practitioner, I kept doing the internal work I needed to do and continued checking in with my inner GPS about which direction I should take.
Then one day, suddenly and unexpectedly, it was like a switch flipped. I knew without a doubt what I needed to do, and I felt calm, clear, and completely confident about the big leap of faith I knew I needed to take. The excitement overtook the nerves, and the “what ifs” went from scary images of my future to truly amazing possibilities of where this life will lead me.
So if you’re struggling, I’ve been there. I know how crappy it can feel to be in it, and I know how incredible it can feel to be on the other side of it. I promise you that even when it seems like you’re not making progress, you are; the steps you’re taking, no matter how small, really will all add up.
* * *
Sometimes we all need a little help to keep moving forward, so if that’s where you are these days, here’s an easy turtle step you can take: email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.
(And yes, I did say “schedule.” In this case, it’s totally worth it, because I can’t imagine anything better than filling my days with helping awesome people like you create better lives.)
We all know the saying "there’s light at the end of the tunnel." But what if I were to tell you there’s light wherever you are in the tunnel? Well, there is, and there's a really quick and simple way to find it and make whatever you’re going through a little easier.
To get started, let’s look at some examples of less-than-ideal situations you might be dealing with:
All varying degrees of frustration and misery with no upside, right? Wrong!
Now, I’m going to suggest something that might make you want to punch me in the face, but please resist the urge for physical violence and just ask yourself this question:
“What’s perfect about this?”
Because in 99% of situations, you’re going to find at least one good thing. (Yes, even you cynics out there will be able to find something!) Proof?
By identifying something good about an otherwise crappy situation, you alter your perspective of what’s going on, which then positively affects your emotions, helps clear your head a little, and can even empower you to take steps towards a better life. All by just asking that one little question!
Now I’m sure you’ve got some more serious examples jumping to your mind—situations where you’re sure this question just wouldn’t work. Trust me, my brain’s coming up with some doozies as I write this! But in my heart, I really do believe something good can come out of even the most awful situations. New, supportive relationships are formed. Better laws are enacted. Leaders emerge.
To that end, sometimes you really can only see the good once you’re looking back at the situation. If you’ve tried and tried but can’t find what’s perfect in the present moment, imagine something good that might happen in the future thanks to what you’re going through. Just doing a little daydreaming can help change how you experience your present sucky situation, bringing you less stress and more optimism. And, seriously, who doesn’t want that?
And if you’re up for a little more than just imagining, take some turtle steps towards making that daydream a reality—slow and steady wins the race! And even if you take the teeniest tiniest step you could possibly take, you’ll be able you ask yourself “What’s perfect about this?” and have an answer: “This situation is inspiring me to take action towards getting the better life I deserve.”
And voila! No more waiting until the end of the tunnel for that light.
“So You Think You Can Dance” is back for season 12. As usual, there are some blow-your-mind dancers, and, as usual, many of those incredibly talented people are getting sent home.
It’s not that these particular dancers aren’t ridiculously good at what they do, it’s just that their skill set isn’t right for this particular season of this particular show. Maybe they can’t follow choreography. Maybe they can’t do other styles of dance.
Whatever the reason, even as they’re being rejected, they’ve had a great opportunity to be reminded of what they’re good at, discover where they can grow, and become more aware of what just doesn’t work for them.
This means that even if they’re feeling upset, disappointed, and/or angry at the moment—all completely understandable given the circumstances—ultimately, it’s all good.
Once they work through their emotions, they’ll be clearer on which direction to go in next. Train more and try again? Look for other opportunities that better fit their current skill sets? Take a break and do some soul searching?
Regardless of what they choose, they’ll be taking steps that will help them get closer to making their dreams a reality. They’ll see that their rejection from the show isn’t life’s way of saying “No, never” to their dreams, just “Not here. Not now. Not yet.”
All they can do—all any of us can do in our own versions of this experience—is learn from it and keep going.
Their paths may be different what they initially imagined. They may even find that their dreams completely change as time goes on. But as they let go, trust the process, and follow their hearts, they’ll see that everything really does work out exactly as it should.
What happens when we stop struggling, stop pushing, and stop making things hard for ourselves? What happens when, instead, we just let things be easy?
This is my current experiment.
Paradoxically, easy is difficult, at least for me. But I’m practicing, and I’m making progress.
Take, for example, this blog post. I sat down to write about thresholds, something that’s been on my mind lately and which I really felt compelled to write about. However, even with all that, no matter what I tried, it just didn’t want to come out in writing yet.
So I asked myself what would be easy and realized that writing about making things easy would be easy. I know—meta, right? And as proof, this one’s flowing waaaay more easily than my original topic.
* * *
I do want to clarify that deciding to take the easy road doesn’t mean just sitting back and expecting everything to magically work out. It’s more about not forcing the things that don’t want to happen and not resisting the things that do.
For me, it means I’m going to do my best to let go of wanting to get through my to-do list just to cross stuff off, surrendering to what feels most right, and figuring out the easiest way possible to do things (while making sure the quality is still top notch, of course). The easiest route may still take lots of time and energy—and there will still be challenges along the way, I’m sure—but if it’s something that’s right, it’ll flow better—and feel better, too. It won’t be so much of a struggle. It won’t be so hard. THAT is the goal.
* * *
Part of the trick is deciphering what’s hard and what’s resistance, and that all comes down to where the message is coming from. Here are a couple of examples to help explain:
Say you’re feeling a strong internal pull to write a novel, but every time you go to sit at your computer, you end up checking Facebook, texting a friend, getting up to cook a spontaneous gourmet 12-course meal—anything but writing. That’s resistance, because there’s something deep inside you that has something to say, but there are likely thoughts—either consciously or subconsciously—floating around in your head like “I can’t do this,” or “No one will want to read what I write,” etc.
This is where you address what’s behind all your stalling tactics. Once you deal with that, chances are the writing will get easier, and, even if there are occasional bouts of writer’s block, you’ll still have this feeling you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and that’s where the real joy comes from.
On the other hand, say you’re in college and you declared a pre-med major because that’s what your family (all of whom are doctors) expects of you. The thing is, the way you want to help people is by becoming a detective who helps get the bad guys off the street. Meanwhile, you’re struggling to keep your head above water in your classes, there’s no motivational end goal to help you power through the challenge, and you’re absolutely miserable.
This is where “hard” comes in—you’re not listening to what’s right for you, and when there’s that disconnect between what you’re doing and what you want to be doing, there’s always, always, ALWAYS going to be struggle, unhappiness, and stress. Sometimes you may be fully aware of it; sometimes you may have suppressed it to the point that it’s completely subconscious. But, either way, I promise you it’s there, and it’s taking its toll.
* * *
As I said, making things easy (or, when full-out easy isn’t possible, at least easier) is an experiment for me right now. A big part of it is getting out of my head, which I often catch going to the "but I need to..." or "but I should..." thoughts, even though I know better. So in addition to checking in with my body to see what feels good to me and delving into any resistance that shows up, now I'm adding asking myself, “What would make this easy?”(Shout out to my wise coach friend, Kat, for the suggestion!)
I’m not sure where this will go or how this will work, but I’m so curious to find out, and I’m sure I’ll be writing a follow-up post to this one at some point. Meanwhile, if you decide to do your own version of The Easy Experiment, I’d love to hear how it goes! Feel free to post in the comments here, on the Baron Life Coaching Facebook page, or email me at email@example.com.
Due to moving, I’ve been quieter on my blog and social media the last month or so. All the packing, the actual move, getting settled, and then recovering took up the vast majority of my time and energy. But that didn’t stop ideas from popping up.
There were so many times I had to stop what I was doing to write down an idea for a blog post, and knowing I wasn’t going to be sitting down to flesh it out any time soon was a little torturous. Writers write, coaches coach, and I wasn’t doing either of those things that feed my soul (although, thankfully, I do actually enjoy the moving process, so at least I wasn’t in total hell).
When I’m inspired, writing these posts makes me lose track of time. It energizes me, and I feel like I’ve truly accomplished something once I’ve hit the submit button. I love sharing what I have to say and knowing there’s a possibility I could impact others in a positive way. It makes my essential self ridiculously happy.
So I’d blocked today off on my calendar to write, and I can’t tell you how much I’d been looking forward to finally digging back into things.
It’s not going how I’d hoped.
I’m rusty. The flow isn’t there, and as I write this I realize that the slew of ideas that had been inundating me has slowed to a very sporadic and barely perceptible drip in the last week or so.
So I’m just trying to take it one step at a time, because I know eventually I’ll hit my stride again. And I know I need to keep writing because I can just feel it in my bones, even if my brain isn’t totally cooperating at the moment. There are words inside me—stories wanting to be told, insights wanting to be had, helpful tools wanting to be shared—but at the moment, I couldn’t begin to tell you what they are.
All I can do is listen to my inner GPS, follow it to the best of my ability, and trust in this crazy process I can’t begin to understand but believe in with all of my being.
And even if it doesn’t seem like I’m making huge strides at the moment, at least I’m taking baby steps—slow and not always so steady, but still headed in the right direction.
Today—and always—that is enough.
That Time I Almost Accidentally Aligned Myself With an Alleged Cult (or Why You Should Let Go of Your Stories and Focus on Your Gut Reactions)
Don’t you just hate it when you apply for what feels like a perfect job then discover the organization’s quite possibly associated with a cult quite possibly associated with a notorious serial killer? Yeah, me too.
In addition to being a life coach, I’m also a writer, and I recently came across a freelance opportunity helping out an animal non-profit. I love writing, I love animals, and ever since I adopted my dog from a dog rescue group, I’ve had a special place in my heart for organizations that save animals.
I did what I thought was due diligence—I researched the organization and discovered that, by all accounts, the non-profit was legit and truly helping out all kinds of animals. The thing is, as soon as I sent them my info, I got this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Immediately my lizard brain went into thoughts like “I should’ve looked over my stuff one more time.” and “I didn’t show them my full personality.” and “I can’t believe I forgot to mention I had a rescue dog!”
Ultimately, I let it go because I couldn’t change it. I figured if they responded, I could show them more of my personality and get across my love for animals in a stronger way, and that calmed my lizard down without needing to bribe her with peanut butter.
A few days later, they replied back with the pay to see if I was still interested. Now I’d expected a lower amount since it was a non-profit, but the amount they put forth was such a low offer, I really had to think about it. I did a little more digging into the usual pay rate for this kind of situation, one thing led to another, and that’s when I discovered the alleged cult stuff. I took it with a grain of salt because, well, Internet, but I also came across it a few different places so it felt like there could at least be a kernel of truth.
All I could do was laugh at the ridiculousness.
In the research process, I also came across a lot of negative employee reviews of the company, and there were so many, those at least felt totally legit. (Although I do feel compelled to add that even some of the most disgruntled employees mentioned the group really did help a ton of animals, so at least there’s that…) Anyway, the employee reviews combined with the pay combined with the possible cult connection combined with the most important thing of all—my gut reaction—of course led me to tell them I wasn’t interested after all.
I’m sharing this because I’m amused by it, but also because it’s a great example of my inner GPS intervening and my lizard brain immediately jumping into storytelling mode. I had a strong feeling something was off, and I let my brain go to “I did something wrong,” without questioning the thought.
The thing is, sometimes we do get strong feelings about something, but there’s no way to explain it at the moment; not being able to explain it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t follow what our gut is telling us. Seriously, would your brain have jumped to “It’s a cult associated with Charles Manson!”??
So the next time you get that kind of clear message from your body, check in with it. See if you can get clearer on what it’s telling you. Let go of the stories your lizard brain comes up with to explain it. Ultimately, if it's in any way possible, follow it (or know you'll probably pay the consequences).
And, of course, if it makes sense for the situation, dig a little deeper into those Google results.
Katie Baron: life coach, freelance writer, animal and nature lover, musician, relentless optimist