Oh April.

I’m sitting in Starbucks, where I do my best work. That’s not true, really. It’s just that when I’m away, the wifi is the way I like it: Free. This time, I’m in San Diego. I’m bumming around while Adam is training coaches, which of course means I bought new shoes. They look like this (Jen: More shoes for collecting the eggs <<wink wink>>):



This Starbucks is awesome. So far, I’ve seen two chihuahuas and one cute and one bizarre-looking French bulldog come wandering in. There are lots of dogs here, which is good when you’re missing your pets. I’ve also seen a girl wearing brown cowboy boots, star-printed jean cut-offs that showed the crease of her bum, a tank top with no bra (all of these things were really obvious. I wasn’t being super creepy). The thing is, she looked great. I’m serious. Normally, I’m full of judgment and this time, I think I’m just wishing I could pull it off (I’m not going to try. I promise.). The best part? She just reached down into her boot to pull out her phone. Seriously. She’s amazing. I think she might be Daisy Duke, if Daisy Duke were a pirate (I don’t know why I think only pirates keep things in their boots, but there it is).

Anyway, I’m off to check out Seaport Village today. I picked a super-cute outfit and then spilled on it (if you look closely in the photo above, you can see the marks on my dress). Sigh. C’mon, Bay. Get it together. Tonight we head to LA, which sounds fancy, but really, Disneyland is the destination. I can’t wait! It’s SO much fun. Also? It’s supposed to get up to 35º. It will be sweaty and magical in The Happiest Place on Earth.

It feels like time to catch you up on what’s been going on, so here you go:

Wow. What a month April has been. Lots of ups and downs and most of them in breakdown. The good news is that when you’re in breakdown, that means that a breakthrough is available and (hopefully) imminent. This is always much easier to remember when someone else is experiencing breakdown in their life than when it’s your own. The less-good news is that being in breakdown sucks. Even more annoying is the fact that how much it sucks has little to do with the actual circumstances and a lot to do with how you’re being about them. Needless to say, I’ve been being less than understanding about my breakdown, so it feels like my circumstances are making up the difference in enthusiasm. Awesome.

I’m coming to the end of this breakdown cycle, which is to say that I’m surrendering my resistance to Life and its shenanigans and trying out some compassion instead. This might sound obvious to you, but compassion is not something I can access too easily for myself, though I have it in spades for everyone else. When things get tough, I like to grit my teeth, pushing to work harder. It’s kind of like when someone is talking to someone who doesn’t speak English, so they say everything again, just louder. Super effective.

This compassion has looked like taking care of myself without calling myself a lazy slacker (a self judgment I clear daily): Taking the pressure off my projects (in a surprising turn of events, the extra judgment wasn’t creating results. Huh.); getting enough sleep; getting my nails done, because it makes me feel good to have pretty fingers and toes; getting lots of exercise — running, cycling and yoga; long walks to enjoy the beauty of springtime; and lots of time to chill out.

Here’s some of what happened this month:

  • I realized that my childhood resilience methods, while awesome and highly effective at the time, are no longer serving me. They haven’t been for a long time, if I’m being honest. I’m taking responsibility for this stuff I haven’t wanted to examine, so that I can decide what to do with it, instead of having it creep around in my blindspots.
  • I got angry at someone, instead of stuffing it, like usual. This doesn’t mean I got into a fight or anything, but I got angry on purpose and I let off a little steam. Turns out, when you are the one choosing to allow the expression of anger (and, importantly, the manner in which it is expressed) no one gets hurt and you feel A LOT better. The issue isn’t necessarily something I can change (as it requires the other person wishing to change it, too), but I can change the way I’m being about it. I can be a human about it, instead of a robot.
  • We lost Maui on Wednesday, April 23. This brings the sting of tears as I write it. I loved that cat. For 10 years, Maui’s been a quirky and beautiful part of our little family. She was born on the first of April, so we like to think of her as our little April Fool’s cat. She’s been with Adam and I through some ups and downs along our way and I adore her. She’s been faring poorly for a while now, with the decline starting slowly a couple of years ago. The long and short of it is that she was sick and she wasn’t enjoying her life. So, we had to make the brave choice that was best for her and the rest of our family, even if it is the hardest decision to make. I will always love her and I will always be grateful for her soft and gentle affection that she only shared with us. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to hold her safely surrounded by love in my arms as we said farewell and she went to sleep. We’ll see you at the Rainbow Bridge, Maui. xoxo


  • It hasn’t all been difficult and sad. Case in point: I learned how to cut a mango. This was practically an epiphany. Usually, cutting these delicious tropical treats is a messy and disorganized affair and every time I slice massacre one, I think to myself, “There has got to be a better way to do this.“Obviously it was not a big issue, since it never occurred to me to use any of the plethora of resources at my fingertips to discover a better way. But then! One day, last week, I decided I’d slice one the way you see pictures of mangoes on smoothy bottles, because I’m wild and free and that’s just the way I roll. HOLY CRAP! They show it like that because it’s SO MUCH EASIER to cut up a mango that way! I’m a genius (sort of)!

Oh, and I bet some of you wonder how I’m doing since I left my job with the government. I’m doing great. No regrets, whatsoever. I knew I wouldn’t have any, but some of you may have wondered. I’m happy to report that being self-employed, no matter how scary and unsure it can sometimes feel, is definitely the right path for me. I’m clear that coaching is what I want to do, instead of pretending it’s one of the many things I want. There are still lots of things I want to do, but I can say I’m a coach without worrying that I need some back-up plan or safety net to keep people (read: Me) from worrying about my future.


When I grow up.

As of tomorrow, it will be four weeks since I became self-employed. This is what it looks like when I work:

Photo on 2014-03-23 at 5.12 PM_2

There’s a lot of coffee and tea involved (you can’t just sit in coffee shops without ordering a drink! There are rules and I follow them!). It’s pretty awesome. I’m not going to lie; there’ve been ups and downs and stressful times, but all of my own doing, seeing’s how I am, in fact, the boss of me (see below).

mr. manager

One thing there hasn’t been is regret, which isn’t surprising to me, but still a nice validation of my decision, nonetheless. Regret isn’t really my style. I don’t generally linger in my decision making and once I’ve committed to my choice, I look forward from there at what’s next.* Giant ball of fears and insecurities though I am (remember; I’m a human), I tend to follow this advice:


* That being said, there have for sure been areas of my life where I was carrying around a lot of significance and not letting go of my past, partly because I hadn’t yet realized that who I am is not the same as the things that have happened to me. I’m a work in progress, but it’s progress!

The week before last, I was talking to my coach about a familiar story that is driving me Up The Proverbial Wall: When I get to X, then I can Y. It’s very closely related to my “not-good-enough/all-or-nothing” story; the one in which I’m simultaneously the tragic protagonist and nasty-ass villain in my own story.

Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of storybook references in this post. I’ve always loved make believe and fairy tales. I’ve lived in a committed certainty that my fantasy just outside my peripheral vision. I don’t ever open a wardrobe without hoping, just a little bit, that there might be pine trees and snow just past the jackets.

What I wanted to work on with my coach was the way I continue to get in my own way. As in, here I am, in the future I’d oh-so-longed for, and yet, I wasn’t doing the stuff I wanted to be doing. Why wouldn’t I look at what I wanted? What was stopping me from creating my vision? There was nothing in my way but me and it was getting really, really irritating. When I get irritated/irritating, all possibility of self-compassion takes off, fleeing for safety in higher ground, and I’m left being a not very nice person to me.

It was time to bankrupt this story and that’s precisely what we did. I looked at every single way in which this story was costing me joy and happiness. The evidence was plentiful and obvious. Eventually, we got to the point at which we realized that I believed I had to bust my ass to deserve anything, and even when I did just that, I still couldn’t enjoy the fruits of my labours.

“You’re addicted to suffering,” said my coach. “What’s that about?”

“Well, I am Catholic; it makes sense,” I joked half-heartedly. And then I got frustrated. After all, I actually remember a time when this wasn’t the case.

“I don’t get it,” I said, my frustration mounting. “I used to be so happy. When I was a kid, I was happy.”

It’s true: Despite growing up in a pretty stressful family life and amidst lots of sadness, fear and anger, I was a happy-go-lucky little kid. If it wasn’t fun, I’d go off and play by myself and find some fun. I was a genuine Sally Sunshine.

“Seriously,” I said, “I loved my childhood. When other kids wanted to play grown up, I’d peace out. I never wanted to grow up. Ask my mom.”

“So, what happened?” asked my coach.

“I don’t know. It’s like I just passed this imaginary line and life got all hard and—oh! Oh my god. I can see it.”

Forget the penny dropping: It was like a massive tree falling right in front of me. It all made sense and it had never occurred to me before.

Here’s what I saw:

I’d lived in my happy childhood (my therapist thinks it’s hilarious when I try to convince her my childhood was happy; she knows my family situation from way back when), never wanting to grow up, because all the grown ups I knew were sad, scared, angry, stressed out and unhappy. Why would I want that? Nope. I had a serious case of Peter Pan-itis: If that’s what growing up entailed, then I wasn’t ever going to do it. Other kids couldn’t wait until they were a grown up for real. This was not my idea of a fun game or promising future.

So what happened? Well, somewhere along the way, I guess I grew up anyway, despite my protestations and denials. When I wasn’t looking, Life caught up to me and turned me into an adult. I inadvertently stepped over the line I’d drawn in the sand and I grew up, and from that point forward, I looked at my life the only way I understood adulthood to be: Hard, scary, stressful and unhappy.

This kind of took my breath away. I mean, I can see it. I can see how I made this real, without meaning to do it at all. How I’d been suiting up for a fight and approaching my life like a linebacker heading for a tackle, all the while wondering what the heck happened, like the concussed quarterback who got taken down.

The day you realize that you’re the reason your life feels hard is a pretty big day. Suddenly, I could choose anything else. Today is going to be fun. Today will be peaceful. This day, I’m going to enjoy myself. This one is going to be an adventure.

[Tweet “The day you realize that you’re the reason your life feels hard is a pretty big day.”]

It turns out, I’d been living a fantasy the whole time, but I’d been picking pretty crappy chapters for my choose-my-own-adventure. If I could choose joy before, I can choose it again.

Now, I’m not saying that life is easy, but does life have to be hard?

Only if I say so. And this time, I say something different.