Feeling Cheesy, Swiss Cheesy

Recently, I found myself feeling tired, rather used up, burned out and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get everything done. My husband, bless his soul, said “You know, no one could do everything that you want to do in a day.” He was right, but how did I get to that place? It took a lot of deep soul searching and a step back from my life to see that in the last few years I had gotten cheesy, Swiss cheesy as a matter of fact, when it came to my boundaries.

You see about three years ago, I had the chance to spend a lot of time with my mom who was recovering from an accident and I did so. It was the right thing to do and thank goodness my business can be done remotely by phone or video call, but there was a price to pay. You see, I ended up feeling mighty guilty for all the time away from my family- my kids, my husband and the dogs. So, when I returned I over-extended myself personally and just let go of my boundaries as I tried to do everything!

I said yes to too much, like special meals that the kids had missed, time in the middle of the day to dash out with my hubby, not asking help with the jobs around the house, and giving rides here and there in the middle of the day at the last minute, to name a few.

In my desire to reconnect and make everyone around me happy, I neglected myself, and my private and professional time and space. Basically, my boundaries were full of holes, like Swiss Cheese.

There are 6 types of boundaries that I believe are necessary for healthy living, and there are healthy and unhealthy ways to create and maintain your boundaries. There isn’t room to talk about them all here, so let’s dive into the two that were giving me the most trouble, Emotional Boundaries and Physical Boundaries.

Emotional Boundaries- distinguish separating your emotions and responsibility for them from someone else’s. For example, no one can make you happy, and you can’t provide happiness for someone else’s life.

Physical Boundaries- pertain to your personal space, privacy, and body. For example, do you give a handshake or a hug to whom and when?

I felt that I had disappointed my family, and that I needed to make them feel better, make them happy. This had two negative effects. Personally, I didn’t give myself time to heal from the tremendous physical and emotional toll of care-taking. When you are under emotional stress, you need to take your own emotion well-being seriously and handle yourself with great care, and not be afraid to ask for patience, time, help, or privacy to get your emotional health in order. Second, in taking on the feelings of those around me, I deprived my family of stepping up to plate and allowing them to care for me. By overstepping my role in their happiness, I also didn’t allow my family “feel their own feels” or handle their own emotions in their own way. When we try to do other people’s emotional work for them, that really isn’t fair to them, or to us. My kids especially needed time to adjust to my re-entry along with the sadness and, yes, resentment for the time I was away. I believe that no feeling is bad, but how we express those feelings can be quite harmful.

Upon my return, I also left my Physical Boundaries open to way too much traffic. My office has lots of windows, and the sad faces pressed against the glass, got to me. I was taking more breaks during the day, when the miserable mugs were at my office door accompanied by a hand waiving an ice cream coupon. I was the bending over backwards to take forgotten items to school, meetings, and music practice. My schedule and peace of mind at work went to “H-E- double hockey sticks”, causing me more feelings of stress and making me a grumpy bear of a business owning mamma.


I had to be honest with myself, spending time with my amazing kids and my handsome husband was fun and felt good, but I really couldn’t create a four-course meal with everyone’s favorite dishes each and every night after supporting my clients, speaking at events, and managing my business. My husband was right. (He reads my newsletter and will probably have this printed and laminated.) So, how did I regain my footing and get back to balance?

Here are the first two steps that I took to get my boundaries in order:

Define- First, I had to define what was important to me. Closed office door, means I am working, no faces in the windows or interruptions, unless there is an extreme emergency. Instead of multiple interruptions, I would deliver one item per semester to a child as a freebie, other items would be delivered but only if convenient and at a cost. I plugged up the holes in my boundaries, without building a wall.

Express- I left nothing up to chance and communicated what the expectations were around my need to have my own feelings, thoughts, space and time and that it was important for the family to respect that without “fixing”, “forcing opinions on me”, or “invading my space”. Verbally communicating that I just need to feel the way I feel, and do what I do, was crucial for me. This also allowed my family to navigate their own feelings, be responsible for their own boundaries and happiness.

In all, I ended up having better boundaries, being happier and not feeling exhausted or cornered like a bear when my boundaries were overrun. Through this work on boundaries, I am learning to be firm, but flexible with myself and others. For example, my husband just distracted me with note on my office window that says, “I Luv U”. Oh, what the heck, it is Valentine’s Day! I am going to let him slide this time, 😉

Now, there is a lot more to boundaries, especially for people owning their own businesses. That is why I am creating a new class, Boundaries for Better Business and Better Lives. Stay tuned for that or book a free call to hear more about the upcoming class and special pricing.



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Somewhere Between a “Hot Turd” and a Cup of Tea

This summer my family volunteered to work on a garage that had been flooded more than once and now sat dank, closed, cluttered and unusable. Not an easy or pleasant task, but we were, the four of us, driving the 4+ hours to tackle it with gloves, long sleeves, dust masks and various tools and cleaning supplies. On the way, I had a bit of dread and guilt wash over me for signing us up for this task, and I looked in the back seat at my two teens as they looked at their phones, and I asked how they were doing with the unpleasant chore ahead. The boy child just shrugged an okay. The girl thought for a second or two, I could see the wheels turning in her head.

Then responded with, “Well, the way I see it, mamma, it is kind of like picking up a ‘hot turd’. No one wants to do it, but somebody’s got to do it. So, do it, do it fast and move on.”

I caught my breath, then I laughed, and I mean LAUGHED! She was surprised, and a bit concerned that she had been too abrupt, but I assured her that was not the case. My kids often seem to get the gist of life quickly and clearly with certainty. She typically isn’t afraid to share.


We traveled on and were joined by other volunteers who we bonded with quickly, but there was a part of me that chuckled every occasionally, over the phrase “hot turd”.

Was this job going to be easy and pleasant like a cup of tea? Nope, but I had help from people that I care about. There were things that we found that were keepers, however, most of the contents of the garage were a loss and ended up in big trash bags or loaded it onto a trailer to be hauled away.

These are the insights that grew out of that “hot turd” three-day weekend:

  1. When you are faced with a task that reeks of feces, you must ask yourself, “Is this really my ‘hot turd’?” Is this really your job to do? We talked about this in the car after the laughter died down. Sometimes you can find yourself in the role of “rescuer” or “victim” and take on way too much. This may be a pattern if you feel depleted emotionally or physically often, or you find yourself putting in a lot of effort with the expectation of approval. When I checked this for myself, I realized that my expectations were not for praise or thanks and that I had built in some down time to renew myself afterward.


  1. You don’t have to go it alone. Asking for help doesn’t come easily to some of us. You can’t see it, but I am raising my hand on this big time. Hi, I am DeAnne, and I don’t like asking for help;) This was more than one person could handle, and we knew that four of us could work together on this moldy mountain and make a small dent, but there were other people along for the duration to make the days go faster. This made all the difference, not only did we share the workload, but along the way, there was some laughter and bonding happening.


  1. Take care of you and your team, and throw in a “carrot” or two. We had the right tools, safety gear and did an informal briefing on safety before we began. Frequent breaks were on the order, with water and a bit of ice cream at lunch, purely for medicinal reasons. As for “carrots”, or rewards, we planned to order pizza to satisfy our hunger after the long days and organized a swim and a dip in a hot tub to soothe our sore muscles after each hard day at work.  We reminded each other how fun it would be to have the treat throughout the day, and man did we need those reminders!


  1. Focus on what you have control over. Recognize what you have control over, and what you don’t. We couldn’t turn back time, or tides in this case. We couldn’t unflood the garage, or wave a magic wand to make the tons of decaying clutter disappear, but we could do what was necessary, appreciate the people who worked along with us and be satisfied with progress along the way and the ultimate outcome.


  1. Be in the moment. I have to admit that the work was hard and some of it was done through blurry sweat burning eyes, squeals of disgust, but I was present. In the individual moments, I could appreciate the hands working next to mine, the talents that were shared, the few salvaged items that could be set aside, and the muscle and the know-how that came together making the project conquerable in three days. The volunteers ranged from age 6 to almost 60 with backgrounds of teaching, business, and firefighting, and all had something to offer.

At the end of the weekend, there were no parades, no ribbons, no award ceremony, nor certificates… A negative had been turned into a positive, and sore muscles were reminders of what we had accomplished together. There were lots of handshakes and high fives, but for me, there was this feeling that I had been changed over the three days. There was a quiet satisfaction within me, as I took a step back to see the difference in the physical space. I could see that this garage was restored from a “hot turd” to its original use and purpose, not shabby for 3 days work.


From Blah to Blessed in 6 Seconds

I was sharing with my coach a negative rant and how overwhelmed I was with things that had to be done, including picking up dog poo, weeding the garden, running errands for kids, business follow-ups and networking events. She reminded me that even in the poo there is something to be thankful for if I took the time to shift my perspective.

Ouch, having to take my own advice, you know I wrote about how where there is poop, there has to be a pony a while back. She challenged me to make a quick list of some things that I am thankful for, and it made all the difference in bringing peace to a demanding day. I thought I would share my list with you here and encourage you to give it a try when life seems blue, negative, sparse or way too busy.

My Gratitude List:
1. I am thankful for my diversely talented children, who inspire and challenge me in any given moment. They have quick and clever humor, big hearts and happen to be the best-looking kids I know. Okay, my bias might be showing just a little.

2. After 28+ years, I am still madly in love with and thankful for my husband. We still go out on dates and miss each other when we are apart. Last Wednesday, while he was gone on a business trip, I found a sweet card stashed away telling me how much he loved me and missed me more and more as each moment passed. BTW, he had only been gone 10 minutes.

3. I can even be thankful for picking up the dog poop in the back yard. Yes, because I have three sweet little dogs, the K-3s as we call them, each with their own quirky personality and story of how they came to us, and how they add to our lives. It is all worth it.

4. I so appreciate my extended family, the loving herd of 15 – 25 people who show up when called on to share a meal, welcome a new baby, stand by you at a wedding or support you when times are tough.

5. I love my community and the kindness and connections we have here, where everyone knows each other and watches out for each other. This is a place where you can borrow an egg, share a cup of coffee and find a shoulder to lean on.

6. I am extremely thankful for the work I do. I help people get unstuck and clear about their next steps in their lives, careers or businesses. Three times in the last 7 days, I have been told how much my work has meant to the lives of clients. Wow, and I get to do this every day!

It is amazing how making this list changed my blah-ness into an entire day of joy and awareness of what is possible and the blessings I was taking for granted and it all happened in seconds.

Some people say that I am lucky, but that seems to be too small of a word. I like to think that I am blessed, because even though this year has been punctuated with great and frequent loss, I still seem to have more than I could possibly deserve or attend to in this short post.

I will leave you with the quote below from Melody Beatie and an invitation to reach out to me and share something you are thankful for or let me guide you in how to unwind your blah.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
–Melody Beattie

Give me a call and unwind your blah! Get Unstuck!

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The Big 5 Oh!

Recently, I had to take my own “medicine” as a coach. I hate it when I have to do that, don’t you?

My 50th birthday was coming up right in the middle of the holidays. Over the years, I have been to friends’ parties as they hit the big 5 “O”! Some were big surprise celebrations with live music, balloons popping, oodles of food and drinks flowing and I thought that is what I wanted, to the point that I told everyone that would listen that I wanted a big bash with lots of people and a Mariachi band. But as the day approached, I wasn’t really feeling the big party scene. The idea of planning the details seemed overwhelming. On top of that, feeling rather blue, I had developed a head cold. Bleh!

I was caught between expectations and reality. I expected to make a big ta-do, others expected me to make a big deal and yet physically I wasn’t up to it and mentally, it seemed impossible. In part because of my moody broodiness about the big “Five Ohhh!” that would be displayed on the cake and the general lack of oxygen and energy from the stuffy nose and fever. Now, the old me would have done a big party come “H- E- double hockey sticks” or high water, but the new me, the gentler more accepting me that I wrote about here took more time to be present to what I wanted without “should haves” or “could haves”. When I got very quiet, it was clear that a big party wasn’t going to fit what I needed right now.

I put my coaching hat on and this is what I did for myself: 
I stopped and asked myself, what is it that I really, really want for this 50th day of my life? What would make me happy? Sounds simple, but when is the last time you asked yourself that question? Not, what am I going to do today, but what would make me happy today?
What could change my internal mood to match what the day really was about, a celebration of life? Other than clearing up my head which felt like a fishbowl filled with wet cement, what would make me feel more alive?  

When, I asked myself, what would make me really happy, it turned out that it was much simpler than what I had pictured that I “should do”. Somehow the dreams of a big shindig with lots of rushing around, details, activities, noise and timelines had given way to being with family, doing some of my favorite winter activities, even though it doesn’t feel much like winter here in Texas this year at 70+ degrees.

So, that is what we did, just a few of our favorite “doings”, brunch with the family, a carriage ride to see the lights around downtown (pictures below), trying out a new pizza place and opening birthday gifts with my son who, get this, was born the exact same day. What a special gift! Speaking of gifts, check out this photo!Inflatable Dog

Yes, that is a giant inflatable dog with bells and antlers. Imagine my surprise  as I found it taking up most of my living room upon emerging from my morning shower.

What a surprise! I laughed so hard that I had tears in my eyes. My family really gets my “GO BIG, OR GO HOME!” approach to life! It was a beautiful and sweet day with no rushing, no big plans, just being content as the day unfolded and I was reminded how, as a coach, I help people define success and happiness as it applies to who they truly are, not who they think they “should be” or “could have been”. It isn’t always simple to be present to what you want and need in these ever changing lives. The world can be a noisy place, out there and inside our heads, but each day I get to support people in being just that….present, successful and happy. How lucky am I to get to do this for a living?!

If you need to create new definitions of happiness and success; I would love to talk to you about just that. Schedule free strategy session by clicking the button on the right and connect with me for an hour to see if coaching is right for you.

The Red Hair-ing

To say my daughter, Haley, is independent would be an incredible understatement. I guess that is what you get when you get inspiration for your child’s name from a comet.

In the fifth grade, Haley wanted to quit Girl Scouts because she just didn’t want to “dress like everyone else.” Besides, she had really gotten into music. First, it was piano, then the bass guitar, then the guitar and finally the bassoon.

For years she had also been obsessed with having red hair. We sprayed her hair red for Valentine’s Day, Crazy Hair Day at school and a couple of other occasions. I thought that might get it out of her system, but nope. It just confirmed what she wanted: Bright. Red. Hair.

Last summer, we dyed it with a semi-permanent color over her brown hair, making a dark henna color that was really flattering with her hazel eyes and fair skin. There is red hair in our family, after all. It definitely suited her. It even satisfied her for a while.

A few weeks later she upped the ante. She wanted brighter and bolder, as in fire engines or sports cars. She researched everything—she found the precise dye, watched the YouTube videos and learned the proper technique and care. We even discussed the dress code of her school that stated, “No un-natural hair colors such as blue, green or purple will be allowed at school.” It didn’t say red, so she wanted to go for it.

I relented, thinking, “How red can it be?”

Haley with Red HairWe dyed it a couple of weeks before school started in September. Her hair came out as red as A STOP SIGN IN THE BLAZING TEXAS SUN! This was a natural color for apples or cherries, but not for hair.

I was surprised. My husband was speechless. My son was shocked. And Haley was THRILLED BEYOND WORDS!

The first thought that came to my mind was, “We are going to hear about this when school starts.” Still, Haley said, we will deal with it when we come to it.

School started and my kids packed off to middle school. After a couple of weeks, my usually bubbly child changed. She became sullen and withdrawn. She avoided eye contact with me and with her father, often looked like she had been crying when I picked her up and went straight to her room after school. She started asking me about transferring to another school, or checking out private schools.

Haley didn’t want to tell me what was going on until finally one day, she burst as she got into the car after school. One of the administrators had given a presentation during school orientation, covering all kinds of school policies, including—you guessed it!—THE DRESS CODE!

When the subject of hair color was broached, the administrator added these words with emphasis, …and unnaturally red hair.” While doing so, the administrator stared at Haley in front of the entire assembly and paused until the kids started staring too, poking Haley in the shoulder and calling her “Ariel” and “Ariana.” The teasing continued after assembly, in the halls and in the classrooms.

Later that same week, Haley was approached by the same administrator in the cafeteria and told that she had “until Friday to do something about that hair or else face the consequences.”  Then, later in the hallway she was stopped, again.

We looked at other colors, dulling it down, but every time she ended up in tears and said that it was more important to her to keep the red hair even if she had to take a bus to another school, a school that did not have bassoon and a music program.

I called the school to check the facts. After all, I know my kid is pretty dramatic—she gets that from her father’s side. No, really! The same administrator said that she hadn’t seen Haley. She had never been in the office or had any reason to see her in class, no office reports or teacher complaints on file. Then, I reminded her that she had talked to Haley in the cafeteria and in the hallway. Nope. Never. Great kid, super student.

I said, “She has red hair.” Oh yes, her. “That needs to change.”

I realized then that the administrator didn’t really know this kid, my kid. Haley was just somebody that could easily be singled out and treated differently because of how she looked.

I sought expert advice from a parent who had been through something similar. I decided to talk to the principal. He was very understanding and calm, which is more than I could say for myself. (I may have used the “F” word a couple of times, okay three or four.) I told him that my daughter chose this school for the music program and that she was an amazing student and musician, but that the way this was handled was more like bullying than procedure. I recounted how Haley had been singled out for her appearance on at least three occasions, in front of her peers. I explained that it was distracting her from her learning and her desire to go to school each morning.

He assured me that learning was the priority at the school, that supporting kids to be the best they could be was his goal, and that he hadn’t noticed anyone with extremely red hair, but he would follow-up and get all sides of the story and get back to me. He emphasized that belittling kids, especially in front of their peers was not at all appropriate in his eyes. He later left me a message not to worry about the color of her hair and that he hoped that Haley would have a good year.

Haley did have a good year. The administrator who had singled her out, now ignored her in the hallways and in assembly, although random teachers took her out of the lunch line, or talked about her in the hallway, or interrupted her classroom instructor to ask, “When is this going to be taken care of?”
My daughter, who now was back in the groove of school and music, said it was a shame that these grown-ups weren’t willing to get to know her, but were eager to judge her.

At the beginning of this school year, the principal of my daughter’s school pulled my husband and me aside, saying that he had relaxed the dress code regarding hair color officially at the beginning of the year. He said there was some pushback from a few teachers, but he used this story to make his point:
“I attended a concert put on by our school and there was a girl with long bright red hair playing some complicated woodwind instrument. Then, she put down that instrument and went over to the keyboard for a few songs and played that. Then she went back to the woodwind section. This kid obviously has a lot of talent. So, why should I admonish her for the color of her hair? After all, aren’t we here to help these kids grow their talents and achieve their dreams?”

As he recounted what he had witnessed, I had tears in my eyes. I hugged the principal, right there at the middle school bonfire!

As we say in Texas, everything is a “blessin’ or a lesson”. It is our job to figure out which it is. In this case, my daughter taught me about the importance of being accepted for who you are, instead of being judged for who you should be or what you look like.

These are my other takeaways:

1. The heart wants what the heart wants. It doesn’t always make sense, but that is the heart for you. I find that with coaching my clients all the time. I don’t know why one person wants to sail around the world, another wants to dedicate their life to animals and yet another wants to leave medicine to become a writer….The heart wants what it wants…YEAH, FOR THE HEART!

2. Choose your battles. When you are a 13-year-old girl, hair isn’t everything, BUT IT SURE IS SOMETHING! To her it was more important to express herself this way than it was to continue at a school with the music program and instrument that she loved dearly.

3. Never take a “No” from someone who can’t give you a “Yes”. This is great advice for my career changers. I must have gotten 100 NO’S over the years about changing careers from teaching to counseling and from counseling to coaching.

4. Surround yourself with cheerleaders. Now, there are some people who you need the truth from—including your doctor and YOUR COACH. Everyone else, including your friends and family, should cheer you on for the most part. That is my opinion, you are welcome to disagree.

5. Get advice from someone who knows. Thank God for another friend who had been through something similar with her daughter and had sought great legal advice.

6. Being unkind is never the answer. Although there are certainly rules intended to keep us safe—like speed limits and stop signs—there is no room for unkindness. It solves nothing and the only answer is LOVE.

Oh, and by the way, she wants MIDNIGHT BLUE hair now.


Do you know what your heart wants? Schedule a free strategy call to discuss your heart’s desire and how to achieve it.

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BTW, Lipstick is Optional

Once, when first starting my business, I was preparing to give a talk for a large group at eBay. This was literally a dream come true for me. The talk, “I hear voices in my head, do you? How doubts, fears and negative thoughts can keep you from the life you love and deserve” is one of my favorite subjects. The self-doubt monsters, I call them “Trolls”, are always lurking around when you are ready to make a move, set a goal or step out into a new exciting direction. It was ironic that the subject was facing fears and that in the process of preparing for the talk, I had to face some qualms of my own.

Lipstick is OptionalYou might think that the fear that I had to face was the whole public speaking thing. It’s a common fear that makes every survey and article about common fears and phobias, but I don’t have a fear of public speaking. I grew up on stage in musicals as a youngster, at the front of the church congregation as a teen and as an adult, I have given thousands of presentations and workshops in training rooms and universities all over the US. I know how to prepare, to time, to tell a funny story, to tailor the sections and Lipstickroll with the punches. I had planned what to wear, from head to toe, even lip color. I keep lipstick squirreled away in a drawer near my front door so that I never answer the door without it, in my purse at all times, and in the pocket of my jacket when I do a presentation. I am never without lipstick. This was special, monumental ….ahhh the anticipation! I was representing me, my very own work, an important message and my very own company and had chosen a perfect neutral shade of lipstick to go with my perfect red jacket for the perfect presentation!

The challenge came two days before the presentation when what I thought was a simple pimple on my left upper lip, turned out to be something more sinister, a major infection. With a trip to the doctor, then the dermatologist, I came home with a bandage on a significant portion of the left side of my face which was now throbbing and angry and with a dilemma: do I do the event, or cancel?

Now, the right side of my face looked fine, but the left side of my face was round like a moon pie. I was slurring my speech and my left eye teared at random. It was a rough night and when I woke up I thought, “No one would blame me if I canceled.” The subject was important and it was a record crowd, but I looked like a mess. Then I realized, I had a sniveling little voice in my head asking, “Are you really going to go in there looking like that?!” It was the voice of vanity and fear of what others would think of my appearance.

I became determined to do the talk anyway. So, I ran through the presentation once more, this time I taped my notes to a large mirror and made a few changes, but more importantly, I made friends with my imperfect appearance. Showing up a bit swollen, slurred and imperfect was more aligned with the message about overcoming doubt that I wanted to convey. I have heard myself say, “Let nothing stop you…” to my clients over the last 15+ years as they sought more challenging jobs, negotiated for better salaries, applied to graduate school, changed careers, prepared proposals and presentations or started their own businesses. I have heard myself say that to my children, “Let nothing stop you from learning today, doing your best performance, being who you know you are on the inside…” Now, was I going to ditch this gig because I had never faced an audience with a booboo on my face and no lipstick? No way!

I went, I spoke and I opened by pointing to what almost stopped me, the bandage on my face and frank words about the doubts I had about my appearance. The thought of not being presentable or perfect melted away as we talked about how the doubts we have in our heads, habits and negative thoughts are often what stops us from going for “it”, whatever “it” is for each of us! I also had to let go of an old rule of talking about “personal stuff” while being paid for something, i.e. talking, that I used to get in trouble for big time.

If facing a fear or voices in your head rings a bell for you, you should check out The Smash Shack. The Smash Shack is a class that I created for a small group of people to be expertly guided through the process of breaking up with this faulty way of thinking and step into a better and bigger version of your life, with expert guidance and friendly Broken Porcelain Camelsupport. This is a class for a limited number of people and some of the spots have been snapped up already. I usually reserve this work for my exclusive one-on-one clients, but I am opening it up for the first time. You will want to bring something breakable, grab a seat and let go!

Are you ready to Smash?
(BTW, lipstick is optional.)

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The Word That Changed My Life

One morning just over a year ago, I got that call. You know the type of call I am talking about. The type of call that you never want to get: something is wrong, something is terribly wrong and you must come quick.

It was my mom. She had fallen and hit her head after a tussle with her trash can at the end of her steep driveway. She sat at the end of her driveway that night thinking that someone would pass by and she could flag them down, but no one did.

The first miracle is that she never lost consciousness. So, she walked in the house and called my brother. The second miracle is that my brother, who lives 20 minutes away from her, happened to be close by. He took her to the small hospital in the next town, where the doctor (who had gone to high school with my brother) didn’t like the initial exam and sent her on to a bigger hospital in the next town.

That is where I met her, arriving in the wee hours of the morning. She lay quietly with road rash on her face, knees and arms, a broken nose and scratched glasses. She insisted that we were making too big of a deal about it and shouldn’t have come from our various corners of the state. To be honest, she was a bit embarrassed by all the attention. You see, my mother and I are different. She is quiet. We sometimes joke that if my nickname were “Sparkle,” hers would be “Warm Glow.”

As we stood there, with Mom gently chiding us for breaking away from our lives to rush to her side, the neurologist came in and told us that the danger was not over: Mom had two deep brain bleeds. Because they were deep, there was nothing we could do but watch and wait for symptoms to develop. He described what we were to watch for immediately, 2 days from now, 5 days, 7, days, 10 days, 14 days….and outlined the procedures and medications for the best and worse case scenarios. We, of course, hoped and prayed for the best, but that is not exactly what we got.

This turned into quite a journey that took months. We could really only watch as Mom’s brain attacked the bleeding. Gradually parts of her drifted away: at different times along the way, she was unable to stand, to move her left side, to feed herself, speak or even breathe on her own… Some of her organs failed and she was in pain. She’d get better, then worse, better then worse. This went on for months. My sister and brother sat with her most of the time and myself and my aunt filled in where we could. She eventually needed surgery and we weren’t at all sure that she’d make it. It was a medical and emotional roller coaster that most people, even half her age, don’t survive. But she did.

At last she was transferred to a rehab hospital for intense physical therapy. As I stood there by her bedside, she told me that people were calling her a miracle. With some embarrassment, she admitted that people wanted to know why she survived. She must have work to be done, a message to share—did she have a sense of what that was? My mom, never one to take to the spotlight, had found a way around the attention. She said, “I have been turning the question around for them. I have been asking them, if I survived to offer you something, what would it be?” And she was amazed at what people shared–struggles, doubts and celebrations.

I stood there with tears in my eyes as mom, with her quiet warm glow, told me this and I agreed that she was indeed our little miracle and one that I was thankful for. Then she asked me, “What did I survive to give you?”   

I stood there a bit taken aback. I was embarrassed to say anything. It felt selfish and odd to ask any more from someone who had given so much and worked so hard all her life, especially in the last few months fighting to come back to life. But here we were, having this open and frank conversation and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to go deep with my Mom.

I finally admitted that I always have a bit of a doubt about whether I am doing good at my work. She said, “That is easy, DeAnne. You are already doing it. Everyone knows it, so just accept it.”
In that moment, the word acceptance hung in the air over my head like one of those neon signs over an old movie theater, the letters warmly glowing. I looked at my mom and realized that it was that simple. Although I have had a couple of moments of self-doubt since that day, for the most part the word “acceptance” has become my mantra, my divine message from my mom. It has changed my life, it is my own personal miracle.

I wanted to find a way to keep that word with me, so I took a Bracelet Saying, "Acceptance"leather bracelet and a silver Sharpie and wrote the word on my bracelet. As I wore it, the word would fade after about a month and I would recommit by re-writing it on the bracelet throughout the year.

I chose a new word for my mantra—and my leather bracelet–recently. I love this practice, because it doesn’t feel like a “should” or some sort of deprivation like resolutions have always felt and this way my intention stays with me throughout each day.

Sometimes the word that can change your life isn’t dynamic or something you would read in an article on success in the Wall Street Journal. It can be something simple and quiet like the word acceptance, compassion or connection. The only thing your word must be is personally meaningful.

So, it took me until my 40’s to really get that what I do is something I am darn good at and that my talent, intuition and brilliance are more than enough to help those I serve. They say “we teach what we need to learn,” and wow is that ever true for me. Now I’m even more attuned to how my clients feel as they learn to accept their gifts and trust that they are everything they need to be in order to create the success they want.

My Mom and My Niece

As for my mom, she celebrated her 81st birthday recently. If she survived to help you with something, let it be this: a reminder that a little warm glow and acceptance can help the gifts that we so often take for granted grow into infinite possibilities. (The picture above is of my mom and niece.)

Maybe you need a life change. If you would like to schedule time with me to plan what is next for your life, career or business and haven’t had a free strategy session before, take advantage of a free strategy session with me. You can easily schedule a time using the button on the right side bar of this page!

There Is No Wrong Way (Or Time) To Get Started

I started my first business when I was 4 years old. We lived in a little pink brick house at the end of a long gravel driveway in Atoy, Texas. I started out collecting rocks to sell; not just any rocks but the pretty ones—rocks that looked like they had glitter on them and smooth brown cubes that looked like caramels. My favorites were the tiny pink rocks with little wrinkles and clefts in them that became magically transparent when I rubbed spit on them. Yes, I said spit…in this blog, you don’t pretend that you didn’t spit on stuff when you were a kid.

Unfortunately, no one really wanted to drive up the long drive to buy my treasures. Standing at the end of the driveway trying to wave down buyers was too distracting for the drivers on the little country road, or so my parents insisted. I was so mad when they told me to stop that, I threw these treasures out of the pretty box I stored them in and all over the driveway. I picked them up a couple of days later when I had cooled off a bit, but I lost a few of my favorites. Wow, does that sound like you? Plan A doesn’t work, you pitch the whole thing and have to start all over again.

I started coaching clients one-on-one after many years as a Career Consultant for Lockheed Martin. As a career consultant at Lockheed Martin, I advised thousands of people and employers on successful careers and staffing. I will never forget that day 10 years ago when my neighbor’s sister showed up on my doorstep. My neighbor said, “That thing you do with careers and people? My sister needs that.” At the time, my neighbor’s sister, let’s call her Lori, was about to reach a major birthday and Lori didn’t know what she wanted to do for a living. She only knew that her current job was not it. Lori was stuck and as I have found over the years, she was my favorite type of client, the stuck kind.

At one point in the process of creating a new career, Lori showed up for her appointment at my home office after having not followed through with a meeting with a networking contact, for the third freakin’ time.

Now, I knew the person she needed to meet very well, and by now I knew Lori, very well. The purpose of the meeting was to gather information, not ask for a job, but just see how the environment and the work was and if Lori fit. “Guess what?” I told her, “No more putting it off. You are going today.” She freaked out just a little bit, even though she was completely ready for this step. “What if he isn’t there? I’m not dressed to meet anyone today,” Lori said.  I responded, “You will call, you can borrow something from my closet. I’ll drive.”

Then, I marched her to my closet, gave her a gentle shove in, and closed the door behind her. Off to the car and the appointment, and she went through with it. Now, I don’t usually highjack clients in my car and take them places, but it worked and she was unstoppable after she got that first meeting under her belt.

When I first started coaching groups, my biggest fear was that no one would show up.  A dear friend said to me, “Make gumbo.” Gumbo is something that I am seriously good at making it. I even talked about it here in a previous blog post. Whenever I make gumbo, as many as 50 people show up to share it. I was nervous to charge for such an informal endeavor, so I put my cow cookie jar, Moo Lah, on the counter and made it “pay-what-you-wish”. The business coach I had at the time threw a fit.“That is no way to build a business, what were you thinking?” she said. But, it was my way. It wasn’t a flawless launch, but it was perfect for me.

I’m sharing these stories with you today to show you that there is no such thing as one right way to get started. Typically, what stops us from starting any new endeavor is this idea that it has to be big. We put too much pressure on ourselves and doubt our abilities even when all the pieces are right there.

When you are starting something new, don’t be afraid to:

1. Trust your gut and go with what brings you joy, like those shiny stones that made me smile. I still collect stones and sea shells.

2. Start with what you have- a great recipe, someone at your door…

3. Take some risks. Although I can’t recommend standing in a blind curve waving your arms.

4. Put everything into what you do, kind of like gumbo—sometimes it takes a bit of everything and time to make things work.

5.  Don’t worry about being perfect and pleasing everyone. After all, being everything to all people is not possible. Be ignored, mocked or even fumed at by some who just don’t get it. You are the only one who needs to understand the vision.

2015 is here – what are you ready to accomplish this New Year?

I would love to hear about!

The Night Before My Birthday

It is the night before my birthday and all the through the house,
Not a computer was stirring, just my little mouse.
You see I work for myself and my schedule I make,
So, I can be with my kids the day off I did take.
All the articles, billing and payments had been done,
And I had looked over the year which had been such fun.
I started with getting my mom all settled for the big Eight O,
Then off create great changes for my clients you know.
I coached and spoke and prayed over many and much,
To see them successful, settled, promoted and such.
Their dreams they did bring me with a tear or a grin,
Overwhelmed, excited and afraid to begin.
We set goals, took actions and when needed we fussed,
One decided to write a book proposal or bust,
Another changed jobs, another re-launched a business with glee,
By fulfilling his income multiplied by three.
Clients spoke at conferences, they started new degree plans,
Some got married, others sold products to new fans.
So, as I look at the year and get ready for a new part,
You must know that I mean this from the bottom of my heart…
“I do what I love, I love what I do……..”
So my question as a coach is, “Do you?”
If the answer was, “NO.”
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Sometimes You’re the Windshield, Sometimes You’re the Bug

Suicide is not a fun topic, but I feel compelled to write about it nonetheless. Please consider this your warning that there are Deep Thoughts below.

When someone such as Robin Williams, who has been a part of our lives, making us laugh in our living rooms, abruptly departs from this world it can churn up all kinds of memories like a flood. In fancy psychological terms, this is called an “anniversary reaction.”  My dear friend Kate wrote about this eloquently on her blog. That post spurred us to have a great conversation about being touched by suicide and loss.

I have my own legacy of suicide. My paternal grandfather took his own life before I was born. You would think that since it was before I was even on this Earth, it wouldn’t really affect me. But really, I saw how that taboo subject took a toll on my Dad. It is still a subject that comes up at family gatherings generations later, even recently.

Beyond that, I had a brush with suicide in high school and again in college when each time, a friend opted out of this life. More recently, I had someone reach out to me for marketing help via LinkedIn. A few weeks later, I heard his name on the news.

Robin Williams’ death brought a lot of that back to me, as it did for Kate, as it did maybe for you too.

grasshopperSometimes you are the windshield and can resist, bounce back or deflect what comes at you, but sometime you feel like the bug, and you didn’t see it coming. Experiencing the anniversary effect – which can happen either by the actual anniversary of an unfortunate event, or by hearing about a similar circumstance — is kind of like walking into an old spider web: you know the spider isn’t there anymore, but the reaction brings up every spider that you have ever seen and you have an out-of-proportion reaction that probably involves flailing around like a comic ninja.

Here are my best tips for dealing with the anniversary effect.

  • The best way to be the windshield and not the bug is to stop trying to push feelings down and hold them under the surface. Notice I say “try”—you can’t submerge an emotion any more than you can hold a beach ball underwater. A beach ball is such a silly little thing, it’s light and bouncy, but have you ever tried to push one under water? The ball takes on a life of its own, pushing back, working around your hands, trying to surface with a vengeance, and the harder and more you push it down, the higher it pops up. Don’t treat your feelings like a beach ball. If you don’t have a family member or friend to chat with, journaling, creating something–even a great pot of soup–connecting with clergy, medical professionals or support groups can help you feel the feelings and help them move along. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign that you are human, and aren’t we all?
  • Take a break from television, news articles and other media, especially if the anniversary is around a public disaster or crisis. Often, media outlets revisit distressing imagery again and again. Be mindful of the images and messages you let into your internal environment.
  • Take care of yourself in every way possible–healthy foods, exercise habits and sleep need to be in the mix. Thank goodness during my Mom’s recent health crisis, I had a hotline to a friend that is a health coach and she reminded me to keep to the salad bar and whole foods during my weeks of sitting in the neuro ward. Thanks Beth Wilde!
  • If you find that you’re struggling with your trauma or that it is affecting your quality of life in great or lasting ways, remember that you’re not alone. Loss affects each of us differently, so don’t put a time limit on your grief. If you feel overwhelmed or like you cannot navigate successfully through your anniversary reaction, consider seeking the counsel of a mental healthcare professional.

As a coach, it may appear that I am always positive, that I always walk around with a smile on my face thinking only positive thoughts or that I have all the answers. I don’t. No one person has all the answers, for all of the world, all the time. That is why we need each other. I’m hoping these ideas will help you navigate your next anniversary reaction and that instead of it setting you back, you are able to turn it into an opportunity to reset or reach out and receive a little more compassion, peace and healing and not feel so squashed by the events in your life.

Is something bugging you? Schedule a time to work out what is bugging you about your life,  career or biz.

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Email: deanne@deliberatecareers.com