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Anchor Points

Even when we are committed to change, we lose track of what matters. The values and goals in our lives can get drowned out by the noise. The busy. The distraction. The day-to-day responsibilities pull us away from our purpose.

Anchor points can help us to reground and stay focused on what matters. Some people wear a symbol of their values on their bodies. A bracelet with a word like “peace” or “love.” A necklace with a symbol of faith and connection. A tattoo of a meaningful symbol or words.

We can also keep symbols in places that we see every day. By our toothbrush. On our desks. I have a little altar in my car—a piece of driftwood from a trip with my daughter to an Irish island, a blue stone from my mother, a bracelet given to me by a friend out of the blue, and a Ganesh–known to be a remover of obstacles.

I spend a lot of time in my car, driving my teenagers from place to place. I don’t really enjoy driving. These little symbols stay in view to help me to remember how valuable that car time can be to connect with these people whom I love.

My kids are at an age where it’s so hard to learn how they are doing, and they often enter the car filled with overflowing emotions. The symbols help me to try to remember to show up fully for them when they arrive in the car. To breathe. To stay present with them. To remain curious instead of judging about their experiences. When I have time waiting for a child in my car, they remind me to make a call to connect with someone meaningful to me.

We all need reminders of what matters to us. What are little ways that you can reground throughout your day with the help of symbols?

You’ve Always Had the Power

I spent the weekend cheering at soccer fields, as I often do. My son’s team was missing a lot of its key players at this tournament. The more senior members of the team entered the first game heads down, sure of failure. And true to their expectations, they played terribly the first game. They seemed to have already decided before the game that they would lose.

The second game, one of the littlest kids decided to write a different story. He was new to the team, and you could see in his body language that he didn’t buy into the drama. He decided that he would be the spark. He scored two of the early goals, and suddenly the whole team believed in themselves again.

As a cheering soccer mom, when the team looks out of sorts, I often shout, “Who’s going to step up and be the leader right now? Who’s it going to be?” That second game, it was an unlikely choice from a spectator’s viewpoint. But it didn’t matter because that kid decided he could do it.
Mindset matters more than anything in life. That I know for sure. We get to decide how we will show up in our lives. I share this lesson with my own children endlessly.It’s a super power each and everyone of us have. We can decide that life controls us. That we have no choice. Or we can make miracles.

Like Glinda the good witch’s advice, we need to know that we carry within us greater strength than we will ever need if we can just be brave and vulnerable enough to tear down our walls and let it shine out. My daughter is starting to believe it. My son is still figuring it out. My greatest wish for him is that he lets his light shine so brightly that he can light the way for others too

Half Assery as a Form of Excellence

I work with a lot of clients who strive to be the very best they can be. Often they are burnt out, spinning their wheels, and exhausted.
I encourage these stressed souls to embrace Half Assery as much as Bad Assery. Not everything in our lives can be an A+. We should intentionally settle for pass/fail when we can. Know where life must be an A+; where your passions lie and you want the A+. But also give yourself permission to just skate by on the parts of life that do not bring you joy and do not require your best effort.
Especially during the holiday season, where doing it all perfectly can seem to be the unspoken expectation in the head of so many. By resting during the “need to” parts, we can save our energy and bandwith for the “love to” parts.
Today, I took my sixteen-year-old daughter with me to Baptiste Yoga—a form of yoga that is very intense, with high expectations of pushing yourself as far as you can. But we are running a half marathon tomorrow.
So, I told her we were going to stay for the whole class but work on being mediocre. Her eyes grew big, her body tensed. “Nope,” I said. ”We have permission to fail gloriously today.”
I’ve never felt so light and free in a yoga class When the rest of the class sank deeper into chair pose, I rose up higher. When others took a downward dog, I snuggled into child’s pose. It felt joyful. My daughter laughed throughout the class. Why on earth have I taken yoga so seriously all the time? And the kicker was, by being totally playful and relaxed, we still did about 90% of the poses, but had way more fun doing so.
Pass/fail instead of A+ can feel delicious. Let it be a gift to yourself. Be intentional about it. The space and rest you create with your Half Assery will allow you to then joyfully choose when you are ready to shine your light to the absolute fullest. And that is the greatest gift of all.

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Make Friends With Your Inner Critic

We all have an inner critic. It’s the internalization of all of the judgment in our lives living in our heads. That voice that comes from way high up in our heads who tells you all that you can’t do. Asks, “Who do you think you are?”
The critical voice is not you at all and you have no reason to listen to it. It’s not us. Our truth lies much deeper in our bodies—in our hearts and our core. The Inner Critic voice instead ricochets through our heads like an echo chamber. Getting still and listening to where our insight is coming from came help us to discern when it’s our critic. After some practice, it becomes easier to see when the critic is rearing its head.
It helps to personify the inner critic. Give it a name. Draw it, sketch it, sculpt it out of clay. For one of my clients, the inner critic was the voice of a professor who told her she should quit school. For other’s it comes from a relative in childhood or a co-worker.Find humor in the endless loop of negativity helps. I have a client who is a researcher and a writer who has given me permission to share her inner critic—Gnome Chomsky. Here is a picture of him. She keeps him perched on her desk. Anytime the voices of doubt, worry, illegitimacy creep into her head, she gives a laugh at Gnome and tells him to hush. She has work to do. Silly Gnome Chomsky, you have no idea how much of a badass she really is

Beware of Red Tin Stars

We romanticize our past. Often what we remember is a story we tell ourselves, bloated with nostalgia-what we wish had happened. These memories can hold us back from embracing today. We find ourselves longing for a moment that never actually happened. It keeps us stuck in previous ways of being instead of taking the brave steps toward an unknown future that is bigger than we could ever know.

My friend BJ shared with me the story of her red tin star-a Christmas tree ornament she longed to retrieve from her ex-husband. She remembered it as antique, with beautiful dappled light peeking out. It carried great sentimental value, and she longed to have it in her new home.
When BJ received the star, it was nothing like she had remembered. It was cheap plastic. A shell of the memory she held in her head.

Since that moment, BJ uses the phrase Red Tin Stars when she finds herself thinking longingly of what once was. It helps her to realize that each memory has many versions–stories of nostalgia, stories of happiness, and stories of regret.

Rather than looking back to memories that might fail us, we can stay present in what we can build today. The Red Tin Star reminds us that what we remember as sweet and perfect has all the flaws of any moment. Better to find gratitude in this day and build toward a future that shines bright just as we hope it can.

Ready to make the most of today? Contact me for a free coaching session to see what it feels like to make time for the growth you have been desiring

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Slowing Down.

Every year I spend a week in the woods. I live in a tent and I cook for my children’s summer camp. I unplug from my technology and steep myself in a much camp magic as possible.

I especially the singing at the fire circles. This song spoke right to me this year, sung over and over in a round:

Humble yourself in the arm of the wild
You’ve got to lay down low and… [repeat]

And we will lift each other up.
Higher and higher.
We will lift each other up.

Camp offers me the gift of slowing down. Noticing a bug walking across the roof of my tent. Sampling the blackberries along the trail. Staring into a fire.

The slower I get, the more I know. The more wisdom seeps up into me. The more grounded I am. The greater I am in touch with my truth. My intuition. The part of knowing that comes from deep within my belly and tells my monkey mind to hush up and surrender. To “be still and know.”

I’m back I’m the frenetic life of the day to day. But I keep trying to hum that melody and remember to notice. To wonder. To be thankful. And to get still and to listen deep within myself.

Ready for transformation? Contact dana@coachingbydana.com



When they go low, I go high. As high as I can, in fact—climbing the steepest mountain ridge I can with my faithful dog.

When life feels like it has taken control of me, I am at my healthiest when I take a hike. Breathing deeply and pulling away from the buzz of life below clears my head. It helps me to pan out from the close-up view of problems that causes me to feel helpless, angry at others, and full of funk. Being up high in the fresh air, I can get a wide-lens view and gain perspective again. I am present, grateful and full of peace.

How do you reset when life starts controlling you?

The funny thing about resets is how much we resist them. It can be so hard for me to get out the door to take that hike, even though I know that I will be filled with joy if I do. Permission is needed for self-care. We have to remember that self-care is not selfish—it allows you to be able to ride the waves of family members who push your buttons, of judgment, worry, and doubt. Doing just one more thing on the to-do list won’t give you peace like a reset will.

My holiday wish for all of you is to know your reset button. And use it. Lots and lots of times if needed.

Holding Space

Holding space is different than listening, and a powerful tool for relationships and leadership.

When trying to problem solve, fix or give answers. Supporting people making change includes stepping aside to allow people to make their own choices. Coaches and therapists–and parent– hold space when doing their jobs well.

I think of the metaphor of dialing a camera lens from close up to wide angle when holding space. It involves what we call “level three” listening in the coaching world—not only hearing words spoken, but also picking up on the energy surrounding a situation.

Holding space includes pulling one lens back to see the bigger picture with kindness and grace. It involves sending positive energy with an intention—perhaps focusing on light, love, peace. Heather Plett (http://upliftconnect.com/hold-space/) describes the process as walking alongside others without judgement. It involves opening our hearts and viewing the space with a softer lens.

The more emotion involved in a situation and the more I form an opinion of “right and wrong,” the harder it is to hold space. In emotionally challenging situations, holding space requires discipline and an ongoing focus on the bigger picture. It also requires self care and discipline regarding one’s own emotions.

I have asked of friends and loved ones to hold space for me, even if I didn’t have the vocabulary to do so. When I am in a space where I am experiencing a conflict with someone, knowing that a friend or family member is sending energy my way makes a difference. And I admit, when I ask that of friends, and they cannot do so, I struggle with that friendship.

I wonder how I could work on hold space in more parts of my life—learning how to flex this muscle. With my children. In line at the grocery store. At work meetings.. Starting in easier spaces without emotional pull is great practice space so that we can learn how to hold space even in the difficult times.

Granule-sized Gratitudes

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, the idea of developing a gratitude practice is worth considering. The concept is to keep a log of 5 or so moments of gratitude from your day. This focus on the positive and affirming the good can help to rewire our brains to look for the joy in our lives and to expand it.

The first time I tried a gratitude practice, I failed gloriously. I told my coach, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Every night I write down that I appreciate my kids, my husband, my job, our home. I just don’t get it. It’s not working for me.”

My coach replied, “First of all, I call bullshit that those are the things you really were grateful for today. What if you were actually grateful when the door shut and you had a moment’s solitude? Would you put that down if it were true?”

Oh. Right.

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We need to be honest about our gratitudes. What really did give us joy that day, without shame or doubt about it.

Gratitudes also work best when they are very small grained. When we can pull our senses into the practice. The foam on our cup of cappuccino. The warmth of an embrace. The glorious red and yellow of the leaves of the trees. The warmth in our heart when a stranger said thank you.

You know you’ve hit the gratitude jackpot when your list still has resonance as you write them down the second time. You can feel the sip of coffee, feel the emotion in your body from the thank you. It’s like getting a second emotional hit of joy and appreciation from those moments all over again. And then those feelings can expand and grow as you practice noticing them.
That’s the joy of gratitudes. Mindful appreciation of the abundance of life.
Looking for greater abundance in your life? Contact me for a free coaching session to see what it feels like to make time for the growth you have been desiring dana@coachingbydana.com

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