He’s Not Perfect. You Aren’t Either

More real wellness, like this, to be shared in this month’s Wellness Challenge.


Testimonials of a Wellness Coach

I am so grateful to be able to do what I do. It has taken me several years to get to be at this place in my career and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I always knew that the essential tools and lessons that I was learning through education, experience, and introspection were missing somewhere in life lessons 101.

Here are a few amazing testimonials and feedback that I have received from individual and group wellness coaching in the last couple of weeks.

“I have lost 11 lbs in 5 weeks. This is unreal. Thank you so much.” ~L.S, 32

“I am going to bed every night before 10:30. It was hard at first but now I am sleeping and rested. I haven’t felt this way in years.” ~ J.L, 39

“I stopped my psychotropic meds. I just don’t need them now and I feel great.” ~G*

“This is why everyone needs a coach. Women need to hear that it is ok to stop beating themselves up!” ~H.T, 35

“It is hard to balance your weight loss goals with your goals to go out and meet people, but I am doing it!” ~L.S, 32

“I have started eating breakfast or having a smoothie and am seeing changes in my mood, energy level, and weight.” ~A.B, 28

“Powered through a 4 mile run. It was a challenge but I finished.” ~E.H, 26

*Not recommended without consulting a physician

30 Before 30: A Recap

I think I have been looking forward to 30 since graduate school. I loved being young, hanging out with my friends, feeling youthful. However, that was a detriment when you are looking for respect and validation in a professional career. Also, as my life progresses, I feel really great about where I am. I am in love, have great friends and family, and am building a great company. So my adventure in 30 Before 30 was a combination of things I haven’t done, things I love to do, and things I probably shouldn’t do after 30 (emphasis on shouldn’t).

However, mid-way on my journey between the start of my list and my 30th birthday, my life derailed a bit. After my car accident this Summer, there were several factors that threatened my ability to keep checking off. Mainly, my health, my bank account, and my motivation. I am going to leave that for another post, because I feel that I should devote some time to owning it. But nevertheless, my birthday got closer and closer and my check-off percentage was well below failing.

I was sad but I was coming to an acceptance point that Life Happens and just because I didn’t complete these things by 30, does not mean that I won’t complete them. I know I will. But for the last week or so I had given up. My list did mean a lot to me, though. Each item represented me in some way and it was a bummer that I didn’t get to satisfy them. Chuck knew this (one of the many reasons why I love that man).

Anyway, my birthday is steadily approaching and I am feeling dread. I didn’t get my items checked off. I am not traveling the world like I would prefer to be, sipping my expensive bottle of wine in Napa (#29, maybe). I am suddenly feeling reluctant about this whole 30 thing. Maybe I’m not ready. Maybe my life isn’t where I want it to be. Maybe professional credibility is over rated.

Enter the birthday week (yes, we do birthday weeks around here). And I am feeling- Whatever. Ugh. But then the fun(ny) starts. You see, Chuck and I have birthdays 5 days apart. Usually, we just kind of celebrate both birthdays with friends, together. I did say that I wanted my own this year so felt that he, too, should have his own. I proceeded to plan some mild festivities at the house with friends that Thursday (his actual birthday). I also thought that it would be fitting to have some Happy Hour drinks on Friday. I wasn’t trying to throw some elaborate surprise party. I just thought that it would be fun to have a large group of Chuck’s friends sort of show up and join us wherever we went to. I emailed this to his business partner and a few other close friends, thinking, “Oh, this is nice. He’ll like this. Nothing too crazy but the opportunity to see all of his friends at his favorite bar.” Yeah, that’s not what happened. I get a response back from his business partner, telling me that it is a great idea and him and the guys went ahead and set it all up at Solas, a downtown night club (Chuck hates clubs). They had already started inviting people and it was going to be a great time. I wish someone was in the room with me when I read that email. I literally had a WTF look on my face. I was not happy. This is not what I had said or planned or wanted. I composed myself a bit, then composed an email to Jason, gently explaining these concerns. I then conceded to the idea of a Happy Hour at Solas for my fiance and continued to invite a few more friends.

The joke was on me. I knew there was something a bit fishy about the whole thing but as we opened the elevator to our rooftop party, there awaited friends and out of town guests all screaming and holding signs up for me. Insert tears. I was overwhelmed. Three people whom I love dear, Valerie, Misty, and Carin had traveled from out of town. Everyone was laughing and so excited that I thought that the party was for Chuck and threw a twist in it all at the last minute. We had drinks and snacks. I was glad I threw on a dress but really wish that I had brought a make-up refresher. I was gushing. The coolest part (other than 90% of my favorite people in one room) was that Chuck had blown up my list and had gotten people to start signing up for items. It was so incredible.

I got Valerie coaching me on my 8 minute mile. Cynthia assisting with creating prayer space. Joe offering to buy me Atlas Shrugged and me vetoing it because I am on page 983 of Gone with the Wind which is torturous enough. There is Brooke hooking me up with new stationary. Chris and Sara offering a fabulous bottle of wine. Gillie says she is all over the new shoes. Mike and Melissa are ready for a baby break and to hit the amusement park. Lauren, (once she stopped making fun of me for calling it “the splits”) will be keeping me accountable to knock that one out. A guy that I just met that night, Jason said that he was going to hook me up to the back of his boat and practice wake surfing. Carin will be my day drinking buddy. Chuck generously offered to make out with me. The girls assured a night of dancing. Everyone promised that a tree would get climbed.

By the end of the night, we had crossed off #2, #6, and #17. And it was one of the most fun nights I have had in years. I laughed. I cried. I danced. I kissed. And I didn’t really care that my makeup was gone and smeared. I didn’t care who was watching. I didn’t care who was there or wasn’t there (although some people were missed). I didn’t care if I was  judged by 20-somethings or work colleagues. I was me. I was proud. I was confident. A list is fantastic. But having amazing people by your side, helping you, supporting you, challenging, you, loving you… now that is what life is all about.

On my actual birthday, I had gotten many “Welcome to the Club” wishes, bragging about how great the 30’s are.


The Meaning of Life

This makes me happy in so many ways…

To laugh often and love much
To win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection from children
To win the approbation from honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends
To appreciate beauty
To find the best in others
To give of one’s self
To leave the world a little bit better
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation
To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived
This is to have succeeded

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Going to the Chapel.

We’re Engaged! Yay! This is such an exciting time and something that I have wanted for quite some time. I was not the little girl that dreamed about my wedding, but I did enjoy wedding planning once I found the man that I wanted to marry. Yes. Fine. I was that girl. I was the one that started wedding planning before I was engaged. But it’s been fun. I got a lot of inspiration for what I thought would make a beautiful celebration.

Here is what I knew (or what I thought I knew) prior to the engagement. I wanted a smaller, intimate wedding with close friends and family. The nice part about a lot of divorce is that you stopped caring about offending people a long time ago. I want a pretty dress. Something fitted, sexy, and classy. No sequins. No Kleinfeld’s exclusive. A water scene would be nice but I don’t want the whole feet in the sand thing. I will not get overwhelmed with wedding planning or lose sight of the meaning.

We have been engaged exactly 11 days and I have forgotten that last part at least 17 times. I have been overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the excitement and overwhelmed by the cost of weddings. There is no such thing as something simple in wedding world. Luckily, I am marrying someone that I communicate spectacularly with. He is constantly putting me back in check. He is reminding me that the fancy party (even on the simple, smaller level) is not necessary. He is reminding me that this is about us and a gorgeous backdrop is not going to make our marriage more successful.

I swore to myself that I wouldn’t get wrapped up in all of this wedding hoopla but it’s happened. Now I have about 8 months to get it back in check. Because at the end of the day, I will have something far more important, far more coveted than any wedding checklist item… I will have a wonderful man. I will have communication. I will have trust. I will have fidelity. And I will have a partner that no price tag can fulfill. So while I will not let this blog turn into a wedding blog, I will ask that you all occasionally keep me in check. Together, we will remind each other what is really special about a wedding… the marriage.

Rules of Engagement

Conflict in a relationship is the most commonly misunderstood component. Many people come in with dialectics that fighting is a part of every relationship or that they are looking for someone in which to never conflict. Yeah right. Let’s get a little clarification on a couple of words before we proceed. For the sake of this blog we will refer to a conflict when speaking of a disagreement, conflict of interest, or a trying time in the relationship. We will refer to fighting as that nasty thing couples will do when self-respect of yourself and the relationship is lost.

Fighting is what will poison your relationship. Conflict is healthy, normal, and somewhat essential. Fighting can leave us beaten, broken down, and exhausted. Conflict resolution enables us to use teamwork and can fuel the relationship. Depending on the intensity of the fight, fighting can also be abusive which will break your morale and self-esteem.

Here are my Rules of Engagement for Couples:

1) No screaming, yelling, swearing or name calling. As soon as one of the former begins, then all bets are off. You are no longer being heard and your partner went straight to defensive mode. As much as we like to think that we can take this back, we can’t. Think about how the presentation of your words will effect your partner after you have made up.

2) Use “I” statements. This is therapy 101. We stay away from “you did this” or “you made me feel this,” and even the sneaky undercut version of “I feel this way when YOU do that.” Try to stick with how you are feeling.

3) When using tactic number 2, it is common for people to direct back to the other person when describing the situation. Stick to the facts. Drop any assumptions you may have about what the other person was thinking, feeling, or their intentions.

4) Don’t be afraid to compromise or say that you are sorry, but only if you truly are and will correct your mistakes in the future.

5) Pick and choose your battles. Listen to yourself when you are approaching your limits so that it doesn’t end in a volcanic eruption. Remember that people can and do impact our emotions, but we get the final say on how and when we want to respond.

You know that you have successfully gotten through a conflict when you have felt heard and you feel closer to your partner afterwards, knowing that you have worked through a trying time together.

500 Days of Summer on the First Night of Winter

Who would’ve known that North Carolina has the best snow storms? I remember my first snowfall in NC 11 years ago. I was so annoyed that it was snowing after leaving Chicago. I did not move to NC to have snow! I remember being even more annoyed by the responses of North Carolinians. They were excited! So excited. They wanted to play in it. Build snowmen, sledding, and snowball fights. I remember thinking, “Hello! We’re Freshmen in college, not 7 year olds.” Then came the warnings: Hurry! We have to get to the store to stock up on milk, toilet paper, and beer. It’s snow, people, not a nuclear war. Where I came from it was just a normal part of life that you learned to ignore and tolerate. Well over the years my annoyance has turned into laughing at the comedic overreaction and now into the same joy that I saw 11 years ago.

In NC, the threat of snow shuts the city down. You know that if it’s going to snow all obligations are off. It’s best to hit the store, stock up on food, booze, and movies and find someone that you want to be stuck inside with for a day or so. It’s best to stay off the roads. Even if you know how to drive in it, most people in NC don’t. It’s the universe giving us an unexpected vacation day. Over the years, some of my most enjoyable days have been snow days. Remember crazy card lady, Stroh?

So yesterday when the snow started falling, I knew junk food, wine, and DVDs were on the evening agenda. Chuck and I bundled up and headed to Blockbuster. 20 minutes and $35 later we headed home with 2 boxes of M&Ms, 2 rentals and 4 pre-viewed purchases, one being a favorite of ours- 500 Days of Summer.

We first saw this movie over a year ago in a local indy theater. It warns you at the beginning of the movie that it isn’t a love story, but we didn’t know that when we decided to go see it (and actually missed the precautionary line for the first watch). We both thought that we were in for a cute, romantic comedy. I will save the details from the movie, and try not to spoil too much through my rhetoric for those who haven’t seen it. I’ll just say that we both love it, but not because it is any representation of our current relationship.

I won’t speak for Chuck because he may like the movie for simpler reasons, possibly the Hall and Oats flash mob scene (that’s a good one), but for me, I like this movie because it reminds me of the grueling process of dating. It demonstrates the constant compromises that we make in bad relationships and how we talk ourselves into thinking things are better than they are. Essentially, it reminds me of the necessary work I had to do before I could be with the man I have now. It is very easy for me to think of a healthy relationship as common sense at this time, but that wasn’t always the case. I, too, once compromised rationale on putting a title the relationship. “Who needs a label? It’s what we feel that matters.” Oh hodgepodge! (Pardon my 1940’s slang) If what you were feeling was so great then a label wouldn’t matter. Saying that you are “In a relationship” wouldn’t be restricting. I remember being mad because words and actions weren’t consistent. The other person didn’t think that they were to blame because one of them represented the truth. I thought that they were solely to blame, because I chose to listen to whichever one was telling me what I wanted to hear. And it was usually the wrong one. I wanted so badly to be within the security of a healthy relationship that I would try to convince myself that it was. I would focus on only the good times in a relationship. I would ignore the unresolved conflicts, the underlying messages, the agony of insecurity.

There are a couple of things that I now know about a healthy, long-term relationship.1. It is more important to find someone that you can conflict with than get along with. Obviously, if you two have decided to pursue a relationship, you find something positive in the other person and can get along well. That’s the easy part. However, the real genius is the ability to resolve each and every conflict so that both of your self-respect is in tact, you both feel heard, and you feel that the issue is rectified and you can move forward. You’re gonna conflict. It’s healthy from time to time. You need to know how to resolve it or you will find yourself still fighting about that original issue months and years later. 2. Lasting love has maturity. It is not the same utopia (nausea) you experienced at 16. There is not the concern/excitement of “I wonder what he’s thinking,” “How come he hasn’t called/text/written,” “He’s late. I wonder what he’s doing,” or “He said ______. I wonder what that means.” You get to be present and functional in the rest of your life. Since there aren’t these worries, you can be engaged in whatever you are doing with the complete security that your partner has your best interest in mind and heart. 3. Relationships take reciprocal commitment. This is the scary part because it requires trust at a depth few of us will ever think about. This means that BOTH of you commit to each other now and to the ongoing process and work that it takes to stay in a lasting relationship. This takes constant reaffirmations of love, trust, and security.

I suppose the reason why I adore 500 Days of Summer is not because it reminds me of the love I have, but because it reminds me of the process that I went through to get to the love that I have. (And it doesn’t hurt that it does it in a smart and funny way.) This movie represents growth and gratitude. It makes me appreciate my relationship more than a movie that reminds me of what I already have. I suppose the fourth thing that I know about a lasting relationship: Make sure it’s someone that you love being snowed in with.

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Holiday ’10. This will take on various meanings to you all during this season, but to me and many of my close friends and family, this means the title to my annual CD! This year marks the 6th edition to the insert that you find in my/our holiday card. At this point I can’t remember how it started. I’m sure it was because I was either too poor to buy everyone Christmas presents or too bothered by the same, tiring Christmas music. Nonetheless the tradition was born. And it’s a hit! A huge hit! People get on the waiting list to get a copy each year!! (Or at least that is what I like to tell myself). This CD brings me great joy over the holiday season. I love searching iTunes and old Christmas collections looking for just the right songs that are fitting with my current holiday mood. I love the buzz that’s created even if it’s solely to humor me. It arrives in mailboxes and I hear the excitement. Newbies are thrilled with the extra something in the card. Veterans express their anticipation of sticking it in the CD player for the first listen (Did Mariah Carey make it again!? Please! Please! Please!). This year they will talk about the anticipation building while searching for their archaic CD player.

You see this CD has defined my place within all of this holiday chaos. It is my little piece of something that keeps me connected. I don’t bake. I don’t knit. I don’t have a lot of money for gifts. I don’t really like cold or snow. I hate crafts. I stopped believing in Santa about 25 years ago. I believe in all religions, subscribe to none. I don’t have kids. And for many holidays, I didn’t have a partner to share them with. Our family has done it’s best. We’re not your “traditional” family. There are a lot of divorces, we’re scattered all over the continent, and we have never had that set place to go and retreat. From time to time, we don’t like each other. We’ve had to include various partners of the moment, then extradite them. We have to rotate with this side of the family and that side of the family. So the messages of “Holly Jolly Christmas,” or “I’ve Got My Love to Keep me Warm,” or “Frosty the Snowman” didn’t really seem to include me. I had to find my own way to make the holiday season my own!

Not feeling like you are included in the holiday season is like being excluded from The Mean Girls. Ugh. It stinks! (Even though you didn’t want to hang out with those stupid, mean girls anyway!) You may not jive with all of these old-school definitions of what the holidays are supposed to be. So don’t. Create your own. Who cares if you can’t provide presents for 6 hours of opening and then the kids look at you and ask, “Is that all!” Ungrateful little …

This is some of the most distressing time in the therapy world. Parents are crushed that they can’t afford to fill the day with presents. Unresolved issues with family members can trigger feelings of isolation and neglect and turmoil comes out of hibernation. Singles are in great despair that they are not with a partner (and often make desperate compromises to avoid battling the season alone). Conflicts with religion arise. And although we have made some progress, we, as a society still segregate. If you are at all an outcast then your Scarlett Letter stands out more than your ugly sweater.

Good news though! If you or your family don’t fit into the typical holiday traditions, this is your year. Define what the holiday season means to you (advice: try to stay away from words like “suck,” “boycott,” “hide,” etc). Be creative. Do something that fits you and represents your definition of the season. One of my most recent favorites from last year was the New Year’s card that I received after all of the craziness, sending warm sentiments for the new year. If you have only experienced a “traditional” holiday season, I challenge you to do something outside of the box. Try something different. Embrace the possibilities and open your mind to accepting the unknown (eggless egg nog, anyone?). Most importantly, embrace the right for others to create their own.

This year’s musical compilation is going to be a little bit different this year. Here’s a hint based on our definition: Seasons of Love. I hope the fans won’t be disappointed.