Hustle, People-Pleasing, and Overwhelm

Here’s why you’re killing yourself at work, and how to stop.

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

I became a full-blown workaholic at the age of 18.

I had started working in fast food jobs at the age of 15 (I had to fake my application to say I was 15 ½, which was the minimum age to start working in California). I worked in a few different fast-food chains before starting a corporate job in the real estate industry at 18. 

And I’ve been in that same industry ever since, 37 years.

But my job/life balance looks drastically different today than it did back then.

It’s not that I loved working. It was more like every day gave me a new chance for me to prove my worth to my managers, bosses, and co-workers.

I would go into work early, stay late, work weekends, and even bring files home. Sometimes I wouldn’t log my time because “that’s just what it took” to prove my worth. Unfortunately it also meant sacrificing time with my newly born daughter when I was a single mom, and, later on, my other kids and my family.

I’m not proud of that. 

I’m only thankful that I had the opportunity later in life to re-build, or build, that relationship with my children as we all got older. 

Once, when I had been working my ass off in corporate for about 8 years, I had a meeting with our office manager to go over my yearly performance. I had established myself as a hard worker at that point, so I was expecting a good review.

We were sitting in his office, him seated behind a big mahogany desk in an over-stuffed chair, and me sitting on the other side of the desk in (of course) a chair that was smaller and lower to the ground. 

He knew who I was and I knew who he was, but we had never really had a conversation before.

During our meeting I remember him looking at me without speaking for what seemed like an uncomfortable amount of time. He finally said he appreciated that they could put me as an assistant with anyone because I seemed to get along with everybody, even the hard-noses that no one else wanted to work with. Then he tilted his head one side and asked “Are you a middle child?”. 

That was around the time The Birth Order book came out, and apparently this guy that I had never really spoken to before had me all figured out.

I remember feeling very uncomfortable and resentful at his question. I had never considered my birth order up to that point, or what it even meant, and I certainly wasn’t expecting that question as part of my review.

Unfortunately though, his theory was right, I was a middle child. And, although I never read the Birth Order book, I definitely grew up with an urge to make sure everyone else around me “felt okay”. I learned early on that was the best way to keep the peace and avoid unpleasant (and sometimes angry) confrontation. 

It was my way of making myself feel safe.

I have no idea how my boss had figured out so much about me, since I didn’t even understand it about myself at the time. 

But my review was favorable, and they rewarded me by making me the assistant of one of the mangers that was such a jerk no one else wanted to work with him. But I played my people-pleasing game and made it work out. 

I continued to be a workaholic and feed off of the attention and the accolades until I eventually burned out from it. 

And now, in spite of all the blood, sweat and tears I gave my job over roughly 30 years, I’ve learned that it could never give back to me what I desired most. It could never give me the love, attention, and value that I wasn’t able to give myself. 

Anyone who has ever worked in a corporate job knows the more work you do, the more work they give you to do. It’s like trying to dig a hole in the sand at the beach, the more you dig, the more it fills itself back in.

And when you burn out, it’s not your job’s job to save you. The Powers That Be will simply move on to the next hustler, and then you end up back where you’ve always been.

Responsible for your own feeling of self-worth and value.

And that, my friends, is a good thing,

You’re the only one that responsibility SHOULD belong to. You’re the only one who can control how you feel, and it’s because of the thoughts you’re thinking. It comes down to your beliefs.

You don’t need a job to feel worthy.

You need to believe you’re already worthy.

You don’t need a job to feel valuable.

You need to believe you’re already valuable.

And no job, no person, can give you that value, but they also can’t take it away. It belongs to you and only.

And once you anchor yourself  into that belief you will be able to establish boundaries to protect it. 

You will stop hustling to prove yourself. You will stop allowing others to dictate how you feel by what they say and how they act. You get to own your boundaries, your own self-worth, all of it.

THAT’S the work you should be focusing on. 

It will change your life.

Discover What’s Possible.

You’re Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places

It’s time to finally break the cycle

Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

It was one of the lowest points in my life.

I had parked my SUV in an empty parking lot near a train station, and I was lying in the back seat, curled into the fetal position, sobbing. I had my arms wrapped tightly around myself, trying to keep my body from falling apart.

I was an adult at the time, in my late 30’s, and I had gotten myself into a horrible, self-destructive relationship that I couldn’t seem to get myself out of, after several months of trying.

At the time I prided myself on being a strong person. even a smart person. So I couldn’t understand how I had gotten myself so deep into this situation, and why I couldn’t get myself back out.

And the kicker was, I found myself in almost that exact same position again, years later.

I wish I could go back in time to the girl I was then, hold her, and tell her what I know now.

That it wasn’t her fault.

And that she was seeking love and validation from a person who never had the capacity to give it. 

At the time I didn’t understand that I was looking for something that I could only get from myself. It was never going to come from someone, or something, outside of me.

Our Childhood Programming

We were all taught how to love from what we experienced while growing up. 

Some of us learned how to encourage and nurture. 

Some of us learned to stay quiet, or “under the radar”. 

Some of us learned how to please others in order to try and control our surroundings.

Some of us learned we had to behave a certain way in order to get the attention or love we craved.

From a young age, we were given a script to follow…’If we were “good”, we got a reward (usually love, attention, or validation). Conversely, If we were “bad”, we got an unwanted result (anger, fear, intimidation).

So we learned to adapt to our surroundings, to read the room. We became masters of manipulation. 

Back then we were too young to understand that we could never be truly happy while living out that model.

The good news is, we’re adults now, and it’s entirely possible to re-wire our childhood programming. We didn’t know what we didn’t know back then, but now we do know, and now it’s within our power to change.

Re-Write Your Script

It starts by figuring out what it is we’re looking to get – to feel – from that other person, and asking how we can give that very thing to ourselves.

Are we looking for validation? We can validate ourselves. Sit down at the end of the week, or the end of the day, and write down what you’ve accomplished that you can be proud of. Did you keep our kids alive another day? Feed yourself? Get some sleep? Earn money from a job? Do something you told yourself you’d do? – Acknowledge your accomplishments, big or small.

Are we looking for security? Write down 5 ways you had your own back last week. Did you stand up for yourself on a decision that you made, and stuck to? Have you created a roof over your head? Have you created a reliable income for yourself? Have you said No to something that you truly didn’t want to do? (Hint: If you can’t find 5 ways you had your own back, then write down 5 ways you WILL have your own back for next week).

And the biggest one of all: 

Is it love that we’re looking for from someone else? I’m not only going to say we CAN love ourselves, I’m going to implore that we NEED to love ourselves. 

We simply cannot get ANYTHING from someone else that we’re not willing to give ourselves. We literally can’t accept it because we don’t believe we deserve it. We’ve been told for too long that it’s something we need to earn.

Love is not something we need to earn. 

I’ll say it again for that beautiful woman in the back – LOVE IS NOT SOMETHING WE NEED TO EARN.

It’s inherent, it belongs to every one of us.

But no one can make us believe it if we can’t believe it for ourselves (trust me, I tried for most of my life).

But we’re adults now. We get to write our own script, and it can look like whatever the fuck we want it to.

We can validate ourselves, we can make ourselves feel safe, and we can make ourselves feel loved (okay, now I have that Miley Cyrus song in my head “I can buy myself flowers, write my name in the sand, talk to myself for hours…” you get the idea). 

We owe it to ourselves to stop trying to be the someone everyone else needs us to be, and become the someone we were always meant to be. 

Discover What’s Possible.

It’s Time to Let Go of the Past

And start creating your present

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Recently I was talking to some women whose marriages ended unexpectedly because of spousal infidelity. In one case it was the woman who decided to end the relationship, and in other cases, it was the man.

Regardless, the pain they were going through was devastating.

Losing a spouse, whether by infidelity, death, or even choice, is one of the most difficult circumstances a family can go through,

What surprised me while talking with these women is that at least a couple of them had gone through their initial breakup YEARS ago, but the pain they were experiencing was as fresh as if the separation was happening in the present.

My own marriage ended when I lost my husband to multiple sclerosis, eight months before our 25th wedding anniversary.

His death wasn’t exactly unexpected, I knew I would eventually lose him to the disease, but that knowledge didn’t make the ending any easier.

And while losing my husband was hard enough, much like the women I mentioned above, I unknowingly added to my own pain by believing a single thought: “It wasn’t supposed to end like this.”

In my mind, probably like most women who get married, I had the rest of my life planned out. My husband and I were supposed to finish raising our three children, then retire to Oregon and live out our lives in rocking chairs on the porch. That’s just how it was supposed to be.

But there I was, twenty-four years into my marriage, two of our children still teenagers barely out of high school, and I was suddenly no longer married.

No one tells us that there’s no such thing as “supposed to” when it comes to our future, especially when it comes to our marriages. Growing up they only tell us “happily ever after”.

It Was Always Going to Happen That Way

I’m grateful that I found coaching during the hardest time of my husband’s illness.

When I brought up my “supposed to” thoughts to my coach, she gave me the most valuable piece of advice I had ever received: What if things were supposed to turn out that way? What if I was always going to lose my husband to MS 24 years into our marriage, I just didn’t know it?

None of us can see into the future, we have to take for granted that our lives will happen according to our plans.

So when something unexpected does happen, our brains naturally come up with thoughts like “This wasn’t supposed to happen”, or “This shouldn’t have happened”.

But believing that thought causes us to pile unnecessary pain on top of the necessary pain.

I can stay angry that I lost my husband too soon, and we can stay angry at that person who hurt us in the past for as long as we want. We can hold on to it forever even, that’s totally our choice.

But let’s look at that progression:

  1. We hold on to the feelings of anger and resentment towards the person or thing that wronged us.
  2. While we’re in that feeling of anger or resentment, what actions are we taking? Are we eating too much? Drinking too much? Overconsuming TV, or shopping? Are we taking that anger out on the people or things around us, withdrawing from friends, or avoiding other possible relationships because “what if it happens again?” Are we seeking validation from others by re-telling and re-living the past?
  3. And when we’re taking those actions…aren’t we the ones hurting ourselves now?

I would like to offer that it’s causing you unnecessary pain in the present.

Now I’m not suggesting that we should minimize or ignore past trauma. It should be effectively processed, with a professional’s help if necessary, and time needs to be allowed for grieving and processing through that pain. What I am suggesting is that there’s also a time to heal from the past, then let go of it and start living our lives in the present.

And we can start by recognizing the old, painful thought, and choosing a new one.

We don’t need to go straight to the land of rainbows and unicorns, just find a slightly more helpful, but believable thought.

A more helpful one could be: I didn’t choose this, but I do get to choose what I want to do now.

Or: I may have been hurt in the past, but I can be the one who treats myself with love and respect right now.

Being a widow was my new reality, regardless of how or why it happened (which I would never get an answer for anyway). I never wanted it to happen, and I didn’t have to like it, but it was something I would have to learn to live with.

Moving On

So instead of focusing on the past I can focus on my present and ask a more productive question: “Here we are, so how will I choose to handle it?”

That question gives our brain a far more productive problem to solve.

Since change begins with just a thought, you get to consciously decide what you want your next thought to be.

And here’s where our primal brain will get tricky… Living in the past may be causing us pain, but it’s familiar, so our primal brain will try to balk at the idea of changing it because change is scary, and the unknown (future) is even scarier.

Our brain will tell us that staying stuck in the past is somehow safer than venturing out into the uncertainty of “what’s next”.

But that’s a lie.

So, we can thank our primal brain for trying to keep us safe, then disregard it and instead switch to our prefrontal cortex — the thinking, logical side of our brain. And we can ask it a better question: How can I move my focus to the present? How can I start taking care of myself, right now? What would that look like?

That validation we’re looking for from the past, we can give that to ourselves, right now.

  1. We can acknowledge our “factual” reality (a death, or separation)
  2. Allow that we were hurt
  3. Give ourselves the love and grace that we can’t get from anyone, or anything, outside of ourselves.
  4. Decide to no longer allow our past circumstances to define who we are now.

Part of the fear of moving on might be that we think we don’t know who to be without that person, or without that relationship. But each of us is a whole, worthy, unique person. We were a viable human being before that relationship, and we are just as viable afterward.

And we’re also stronger for having gone through it.

So stop focusing on the past. It doesn’t serve you.

Start focusing on who you want to be, now. On what you want to give yourself, now. Don’t miss out on the incredible life you can start building for yourself.

Discover What’s Possible.

Calling All Women Over 50…

Looking for your (honest) opinion

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

Normally my posts discuss the importance of thought work and intentional living for women over 50.

This one doesn’t.

Consider this post more of a poll. As I’ve never been in my 50s before, and my brain doesn’t typically work the same as others, I’m really curious about what other women in my similar situation are really thinking and doing.

Other than a few Facebook groups here and there, I don’t see a concentrated “community” for women over 50.

Why is that?

Is it because we’ve sort of dispersed and quietly become part of other people’s lives…our spouse, our children, our grandchildren?

I know it’s not exactly new that women in our age bracket seem to be “dropped off the map” when it comes to being represented in mainstream media, marketing, and especially movies and tv.

And I can guess why.

Teens are marketed to because they spend a considerable amount of their parent’s money. Twenty, thirty, and even forty year old’s are marketed to because that’s where the disposable income market is. And I’d be willing to bet that Moms are marketed to most of all because let’s face it, moms tend to direct most of the spending in the family (at least that was my experience).

At one point we all existed in those age brackets, they were, and still are, publicly defined communities.

So where did all we go once we turned 50?

We obviously didn’t physically disappear, so why did the representation of our community disappear — except in AARP or medication commercials, or maybe as the secondary role of a mother or grandmother in some movies?

It’s not like we’re posting selfies in our bathing suits on Instagram.

When I do see older women in tv, movies, or commercials, I see someone who is supporting their husband or their grandchildren. I almost NEVER see a strong, independent woman over the age of 50 who is still living out her intentional purpose (except for that bad bitch Caroline Warner on the show Yellowstone played by Jacki Weaver. *Goals*).

I don’t know about you but I still buy groceries. I still go to the movies, watch tv, travel, buy cars, do home improvement, etc. I’m still making my own decisions. I didn’t stop spending money once I turned 50, if anything I’m spending more on myself now that my kids are grown than I ever have.

That’s not to say I necessarily want telemarketers calling and trying to sell me stuff, but women over 50 still exist.

We matter and we have money.

So why aren’t they selling us their cars, their hotels, or renting us their Airbnbs? And did we disappear once we fell out of those publicly defined communities, or because of it?

I’m currently 55, I still do CrossFit, I play drums, I like to run, walk, and hike, and I’m starting a new business. I didn’t retire my life when my kids moved out, or when my husband passed away a few years ago. And I have seen glimpses that at least some other women my age enjoy some of the same things, but not very often.

That’s not to say relaxing and enjoying a slower-paced life after 50 is a bad thing, to each their own, I’m just saying that’s not my path, and I’m wondering if I’m really that far outside the norm?

Or maybe I’m just looking for validation.

As I said I’ve always felt that my brain does not work the same as the general public, especially others my age. So I’m taking a poll.

If you are a woman over 50 I want to hear from you.

Where are you hanging out, either online or in real life? Do you spend a lot of time at home, or do you go out?

Do you still work? Are you looking to slow the pace and maybe work your current job until you’re ready to retire, or are you looking to switch jobs and work towards something you’ve put off until now?

Are you and your partner looking for a relaxed lifestyle and are happy with your day-to-day routine for the most part? Or are you setting goals that you’re looking to achieve before you’re ready to retire?

Do you still try to stay physically active, whether that means dedicated workouts or walks with friends or loved ones?

Is there something you’re looking to still achieve at this stage in your life? If so, what is it?

Are you happy with your daily routine, or are you looking for something more? And if you are looking for more, do you know yet what that is?

This isn’t a sales pitch, and you don’t need to provide an email, contact info, or anything like that. I’m just curious to see where our community lies, or even if there is one?

Please post your comments below. I’d love to get your input

We’re Still Looking for That A+

But who’s doing the grading now?

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

When I was a kid I sucked at math.

I mean really sucked. Like, never–made–eye–contact, left–the–class–in–tears, had–to–cheat–my–way–to–a–D–in–geometry kind of sucked.

By the 6th grade, I had convinced myself that I wasn’t smart enough to understand math and I never would be.

Not only had I accepted that as a fact (instead of just a thought), I also made it mean that I wasn’t as smart as everyone else who did understand math, in spite of the consistent A’s I had been getting in English and biology. 

Walking into algebra class every day with the belief that I wasn’t as smart as everyone else did not set me up for success. I felt defeated, resentful, and angry, and as a result, I resisted the instruction and blocked myself from even trying to understand it. It was a cycle that I perpetuated throughout high school.

When we were kids we had someone outside of ourselves constantly judging or grading us…teachers, parents, or family figures. I understand their jobs were to teach us, but as kids, it was difficult to separate the grades we were given on paper (or verbally) from our worth as a person. A’s = (We were) Good. B’s = (We were) Okay. C’s = (We were) Average (but more like less-than). D’s = (We were) Bad. F = (We were a) Failure.

It was cut and dry. It said right there on the paper – you were good enough, or you weren’t.

What are you still grading yourself on?

It took me a long time to challenge the belief that I was dumb when it came to math. 

Some math makes sense to me now, especially as it applies to things I’m actually interested in. I began to understand basic fractions when I started baking, and I discovered that I was fascinated with physics when I started studying exercise science (Power = Work/Time, Work = Force x Distance). 

As kids we were raised believing that the Power of Approval needs to come from outside of ourselves – teachers, parents, and authority figures, because we had no power of our own back then.

But many of us are still living our lives in pursuit of that external A+. 

Only now we’re giving the Power of Approval to our bosses, our spouses, and even our own kids. 

And that’s because we never learned that we could transition into creating our own approval.

What’s your current “math class”? Where are you giving yourself a ‘D’ or an ‘F’? 

Losing weight?

Stopping overdrinking?

Going for that new job?

How does the grade you’re giving yourself make you feel? 


Less than? 


What actions do you take when you’re feeling that way? Do you avoid? Overeat? Overdrink?

What are the unwanted results of those actions?

If choose to believe that we’re not good enough at something our brains will be happy to produce plenty of evidence that the thought is true. That’s our brain’s job. It’s trying to keep us safe by protecting us from disappointment.

But what if we challenge that negative belief? What if we chose to believe something different, to believe “Maybe this IS possible for me?” What if we just need to figure out another way that makes sense to us?

Maybe if someone had taught me basic math in a cooking class I would have understood it and had the confidence to go on and learn even more. Instead, there was one person teaching it one way and my not understanding it led me to believe that I wasn’t good enough.

You Control the Gradebook Now

It’s time to stop grading yourself on a pass/fail basis, and start grading on a (GENEROUS) curve.

Life is not an exam, it’s a learning experience. There are no fill-in-the-blank, black-and-white answers.

And you’re not doing it wrong.

Get curious. Instead of focusing on what hasn’t worked in the past, ask your brain questions that will move you to future-forward action:

  • What if you could figure out how to stop overeating, overdrinking, or overconsuming? What way might look right for you? 
  • What thoughts do YOU need to think, and what questions could you ask your brain, that would help you move forward towards that goal, instead of focusing on past evidence of what hasn’t worked?

Take some time, right now, to acknowledge what has worked for you in the past and everywhere you have succeeded. Give yourself ALL the credit for getting where you are and achieving what you have.

All of us have the knowledge and the power to teach ourselves anything we want to now, it’s no longer dependent on anyone outside of us. We control the grade book.

We just need to get curious and start asking good questions: What do I want to do next? What would success at that look like? And what might be the next right step to getting there?

You have everything you need right now. You’re good enough to start, right now. You can – and you will – figure out the rest as you go.

Discover what’s possible.

3 Straightforward Ways to Stop Fighting Reality, And Start Working Towards What You Want

Woman in black workout clothes and black boxing gloves hitting a punching bag

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER | @LGNWVR on Unsplash

Fun fact, I had a completely different post typed up before this one.

I finished the first article then shortly thereafter decided that I hated it (which does sometimes happens, not a big deal).

But then I fell into the very trap that I’m here to warn you about.

My usual modus operandi goes like this — I write something that I feel super good about, then I go back to edit it the next day and think “Actually, this is crap. How did I even think it was good?”. But then I mess with it for a little while, get back into the flow, and make it work out.

Not this time.

This time I spent the next three days spinning in thoughts like “This shouldn’t be so hard. I don’t even want to write this anymore. Nothing is working. This is stupid”, and then I would go eat a snack, make some coffee, and binge cooking shows on tv.

I was fighting the reality of having to write a blog about fighting reality.

I’m a firm believer that life is a balance of emotion, positive and negative, and that we’re not supposed to feel good all the time.

The question is, why do we choose to prolong our time in the negative?

I don’t know if anyone loves their job 100% of the time, but usually we can get back into it and remember why we signed up in the first place. The same holds true for trying to live healthier or manage our finances, we have times we’re in flow and times that we aren’t.

The problem comes when we start fighting our circumstances. Naturally the thoughts I was stuck in, “This shouldn’t be so hard”, and “I don’t want to work on this anymore” are going to make me feel crappy. And when I indulge in those crappy thoughts long enough I end up feeling depressed and resentful.

Have you ever tried being productive when you’re feeling depressed and resentful? (0/10, I don’t recommend it).

It’s easy to blame work, our health, or our finances for our unhappiness. But by blaming our circumstances — something that’s outside ourselves — we give away the power to make ourselves feel better and improve those circumstances.

The way to take back that power is to change the thoughts that are keeping us stuck in that negative loop.

Here’s how to get out of that rut and start moving toward what you want:

Accept where you are now

Let me clarify, I’m not suggesting you paste on a happy thought and force yourself to love your current circumstance (in fact I will never give you that advice). Acknowledging you’re not where you want to be is a sign that you’re ready to start thinking about moving forward and leveling up your life.

What I’m offering is for you to accept you are where you are right now, make it a neutral circumstance — you have a job, you have a body, you have a bank account. Accepting your current circumstance doesn’t mean it will always stay this way.

Instead of spending your time and energy fighting it, spend that same amount of time and energy getting curious about what you might want to do instead.

And just a heads up, when you try to ask your brain what to do next it will automatically answer “I don’t know”.

Never let your brain stop at “I don’t know”.

Instead ask a better question, such as, “What if I do know, what would it look like?”. Or, “If I could make money doing anything at all, what might that be?”.

Understand the benefit of staying stuck

Holding onto the thoughts that are making us unhappy has net benefits.

When we stay stuck in an unhappy situation we become the victim of that situation and we give up the power to change it. When we give up the power to change it we also abdicate responsibility, which saves us from having to take scary actions like trying something we’ve never done before and risking failure or embarrassment.

Our brains are so tricky like that.

They’re designed to keep us safe, and keeping us safe means keeping us comfortable. But being comfortable and being happy are not the same thing.

We’re comfortable with something because it feels familiar, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we enjoy it. This explains why most of us will spend years stuck in a job we don’t like, we may not be happy but the work is familiar and we don’t have to risk failure by trying something new.

How to move forward anyway

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but: You don’t have to have all the answers before you get started.

You can be unsure, you can be scared, and you can even be wrong (okay, chances are you will be wrong, at least a few times), but you can also do it anyway.

None of us were born knowing how to walk, run, drive a car, or write a blog, every one of us had to learn by doing.

For some reason, it was easier when we were kids. Maybe because we didn’t worry so much about failing back then? As adults, when we start thinking of doing something new, our brains are wired to tell us it’s too difficult. It will automatically answer “I don’t know how”.

Never let your brain stop at “I don’t know how”.

The “how” is, you research the thing, and you take the first step. There is no right or wrong answer here, there’s just one decision or another. You pick one thing and you try it. If that doesn’t get you the desired result, then you try something else. It’s really that simple (notice I didn’t say easy).

Once you’ve committed to your decision on how you want to move forward, put your blinders on and go for it. Decide you will try it for at least “x” number of days or weeks (or longer) before you change it up and try something else.

You may not achieve your first goal, but then again, you might. Or what if you end up doing something completely different, something even better than you could imagine?

You may even discover that you’ve become a better person along the way.

Key takeaways:

Accept your current circumstance/reality. You don’t have to like it but you’re wasting time and energy by fighting it.

Understand that staying stuck will seem easier than changing your situation because it requires no risk and no commitment, but you will be miserable in the meantime.

Ask your brain productive questions about what you might want to do next or what the first step might be. Then let your brain surprise you by coming up with answers you never thought you knew. And don’t panic! You don’t have to execute every idea, just go into each one with curiosity.

Once you’ve decided what you want to do, commit to one action that will move you forward. Then enjoy the person you’re evolving into while overcoming obstacles to get you the life you want.

Discover What’s Possible.

How to Feel Accepted

(Hint: It has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you)

Woman sitting alone on top of a mountain
Photo by Milan Popovic on Unsplash

When was the last time you felt accepted, like you truly belonged?

Would you feel comfortable going into a room full of strangers and hanging out by yourself?

I can say I would, but not for the reasons you might think.

It’s definitely not because I thrive in that type of environment (um, HELL no). In fact, it’s the exact opposite. I could do it because I’m a professional at making myself invisible in a crowd. I mean like Houdini-level disappearing.

It’s a trait I learned early, out of necessity.

When I was a teenager my family moved around a lot, I went to 3 different high schools in 4 years. And trust me, if there was one place I definitely didn’t want to stand out as an awkward teenager, it was high school.

Fortunately for me, I’m 4’11 so all I had to do to was keep my head down, hover on the outskirts of large groups, and avoid eye contact. I could go all day without anyone even noticing I was around.

(That sounded a lot less sad when it was just in my head).

Anyway, to say I felt like I didn’t belong would be an understatement. As far as my brain was concerned it was a concrete fact.

Looking back it’s easy to see how my lifelong pattern of not belonging was developed:

  • I didn’t believe I would be accepted so I acted small and invisible to avoid attention
  • By avoiding attention (and thereby, connection) I made sure I was by myself all the time
  • Being by myself all the time guaranteed that I wouldn’t fit in, which proved my belief that I didn’t belong

See what my brain did there?

I used to think hiding and playing small served me. And maybe it did when I was younger, in unfamiliar surroundings with no knowledge of how to protect myself. I wasn’t able to make choices for myself back then so naturally I felt powerless.

And I know my brain was just trying to keep me safe by convincing me to stay hidden.

But now I’m a 55-year-old adult woman, and I am no longer powerless. I get to make decisions about where I live and how I decide to show up. I get to choose what circumstances I put myself into and which ones don’t serve me or my goals.

But changing old patterns and beliefs definitely isn’t easy, they don’t go away just because we grow up.

One of the things we need to learn as adults (and that I continue to work on) is how the feeling of acceptance and belonging doesn’t come from circumstances outside of ourselves. 

In the case of me as a teenager, it was my thought “I don’t belong” that lead me to feel like I didn’t belong, which made me act like I didn’t belong, which lead me to “un-belonging myself”, if you follow.

It’s the same for us as adults.

If we show up believing that we don’t belong, that we’re somehow less than the other people around us — at a job, the gym, or a party — then how do we act? And what will be our end result because of those actions?

Our belief in ourselves has to come from ourselves. The call needs to come from inside the house, as they say. 

No one can make us feel accepted, or unaccepted, it comes from our beliefs first.

“Our sense of belonging will never be greater than our own self-acceptance”

-Brooke Castillo

We can decide ahead of time to accept ourselves and “belong” ourselves, no matter what happens outside of us.

It takes practice, but I’m willing to do it.

And you can too, I promise.

Discover What’s Possible


I hear from a lot of women over 50 who want to make friends but don’t know quite how to get started, so I created a free pdf “3 Simple Ways to Make Friends in Your 50s”. You can grab yours here

On a Scale of 1-10, How Would You Rate the Quality of Your Life, Right Now?

How you can improve the quality of your life if you do this one thing – and it won’t cost you a penny.

Photo by Marc Najera on Unsplash

We might be familiar with the term “quality of life” as it relates to someone who may be elderly or ill. I know it came up often when my husband was nearing the end of his battle with MS. 

But we sometimes forget that every living person has a quality of life…whether good, bad, so–so, or awesome.

So how would you rate the quality of your life, right now…do you have what you want? Do you want what you have? Are you happy where you are at this stage of your life?

Rate each of the following statements on a scale of 1-10, 10 being best:

  1. You’re happy with the material items you have and you don’t want more (clothes, car, house, electronics)
  1. You’re doing what you want to day–to–day  (job, routine)
  1. Overall, you’re happy with where you are in life  (physically, financially, living situation)
  1. You’re happy with your relationships (spouse, partner, relatives)

Now total your score…was it a 20, or above? Was it average, or below?

Are you satisfied with your score, or do you think it could be better? Do you WANT it to be better?

Many of us grew up believing, and still believe, that our circumstances create our feelings —if we could just get that job, house, car, or person, then we could finally be happy (advertisers spend billions of dollars every year to keep that belief alive and well).

But what if the opposite were true? 

What if we need to be happy first in order to create that desired job, house, car, or relationship?

Here’s an example:

I used to live in a big, bright, 2-bedroom apartment in an expensive, urban neighborhood that I thought I could afford.

It lasted about a year and a half before I had to admit that, mathematically, I actually COULDN’T afford it. 

The apartment had a full garage, big, bright windows, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, and an in-apartment washer and dryer (industrial size–be still my heart).

The new apartment I chose had one bedroom, one tiny bathroom, no dishwasher, no in-unit washer and dryer, and on-street parking only. Also, being in the city, had a much higher propensity for crime.

BUT, it was also about $700 cheaper a month.

If I had decided to leave my fancy apartment based on thoughts like “I have to leave”, “This isn’t fair”, “This place shouldn’t cost so much”, or “I shouldn’t have to do this”, I would have felt completely miserable about the circumstance of moving and would probably have resented the move.

But instead, I knew that I didn’t want to continue going deeper into debt for no reason. The extra amenities just weren’t that important to me, and I was tired of the constant stress of having to come up with the rent every month. 

Initially, I was drawn to the city because the rents were so much cheaper. But what happened was I fell in love with the charm of the place.

My thoughts about it were: “I’m choosing to do this to save money and stress”, “I live alone so washing dishes by hand won’t bother me”, “the laundry room is only a few steps away from my apartment”, and “parking isn’t a big deal because there are so many awesome places within walking distance”.

I chose to be happy about it first.

Most importantly I believed those thoughts, they all felt true to me so I didn’t have to lie to myself first and then struggle later to make the lies feel true.

The result of liking my situation ahead of time was that I got to actually enjoy my new space, which created the circumstance of me having a more desirable living space by choosing my thoughts about it. 

These new thoughts also helped create the circumstance of being able to finally start getting out of debt (I’d trade the in-apartment washer and dryer for that any day, thank you!).

It’s not the circumstances that dictate our feelings, it’s our thoughts about that circumstance.

Based on that equation it’s possible to change the quality of your life without changing anything but your thoughts. 

Better yet, you can IMPROVE the quality of our lives, just by improving your thoughts.

The next time you feel angry, sad, or not good enough because of your circumstances, step back and get curious about the thoughts you’re thinking that are causing your feelings. 

You don’t have to trick yourself into believing your circumstances are rainbows and daisies, you just have to drop into a thought that feels a little bit better. A thought that gets you to a place where can at least feel more neutral.

And please don’t wait until you’re elderly or – God forbid – have a critical illness to start paying attention to your quality of life.

Start now.

Discover What’s Possible.

Click here if you want to learn more about how to not just improve your life, but live a fuller life than you ever thought possible!

Stop ‘Othering’ Yourself

How to Stop the Cycle of Compare and Dispair and Move on With An Intentional Life

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

“Othering yourself” was a term I heard the other day during a coaching call with the amazing Stacy Boehman. 

It’s a habit I’ve been doing unconsciously my entire life, but that was the first time I’d heard someone assign it a term to it, and it really hit home with me.

Here’s an example of what ‘othering’ looks like in my life:

Two weeks ago I decided to walk to a local coffee shop during my work break. 

I was wearing my usual leggings, sweatshirt, and Converse tennis shoes, with my hair in a bun. (I live alone and work from home, let’s just say the dress code around here has gotten extremely lax).  

I know I didn’t look my best, but I felt comfortable and wasn’t looking to impress anyone, so I decided to go as is.

While waiting for my coffee a woman walked up to the counter to pick up her order. Her back was turned to me but I noticed her grey, ankle-length jacket, tan pants, leather boots, and coordinating purse. 

The very first thought that entered my brain was “I’ll never look that put together.”

I suddenly felt dumpy, unattractive, and, less than.  And just like that, my happy trip to the coffee shop quickly turned into one of self-judgment and disappointment.

Maybe a similar situation has happened to you? 

You see someone running a half marathon, getting a promotion, or taking a sunny vacation,- basically every other post on social media – and you think “That will never be me”, “I’ll never be that good/pretty/successful/lucky”, fill in the blank. 

Fortunately, I’ve gotten to know my brain better recently, so it wasn’t surprising that my first thought was to ‘other myself’. It was a familiar pattern that I’ve cultivated over the last 54 years. 

But just because it was my first thought, doesn’t mean it had to be my final thought.

In this particular instance at the coffee shop, I was able to recognize the familiar thought spiral I was about to walk into, and I knew I didn’t want to go there. I understood it would result in me feeling sad or sorry for myself and I would carry that feeling into the rest of my day.

So instead of letting my brain run with the first, unintentional thought, I decided to take a step back and just get curious about it.

First, I knew it was just a thought, and our thoughts are optional.

Second, I remembered that I had consciously decided ahead of time not to change my clothes or upgrade my look just to go pick up coffee, and that decision had been fine with me.

Third, I reminded myself that, how another person chooses to show up for themselves at any given moment, HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with me.

But that’s automatically where our brains go, right? We see someone else’s life or appearance and we turn that around to somehow mean something about us.

Kind of silly, isn’t it?

Especially since we probably know nothing about that person or their life. We still judge ourselves for somehow falling short compared to them or their circumstance.

But the truth is we get to decide which thoughts we want to keep. And we don’t have to choose our first thought.

On my way home from the coffee shop that day I wondered what other thoughts I could think about this lovely woman’s outfit that wouldn’t put me into a negative thought/action pattern. It couldn’t be some rainbows-and-daisies meme regurgitated off an Instagram Reel, it had to be something from my own brain that I could believe. A thought that felt true in my body.

The new thought I chose was: I can look put together whenever I feel like it. 

And then, to give my brain the evidence it needed (our brains are always looking for evidence, good or bad), I thought back to the times I’ve looked and felt good…like going out for sushi a few weeks ago, going to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving in a super cute outfit, and almost every day of my 33 years working in an office. 

This new, intentional thought immediately made me feel better. I could literally feel the relief in my body.

But, more importantly, I got to retain authority over how I felt about myself, instead of giving that power over to someone else.

Our self-worth doesn’t come from how someone else looks or acts. It comes from our own thoughts about ourselves. And we can choose those thoughts just like we can choose an outfit. 

It’s not always easy to recognize an unintentional thought and consciously change it to an intentional one. It takes practice, but it’s possible. 

And, like anything else, the more you practice the easier it becomes.

The alternative is to continue allowing negative thoughts to run unchecked in the background of our brains (they’re sneaky that way), and continue to be at the effect of the compare-and-dispair cycle.

What are some intentional thoughts you want to think about yourself? 

Write them down and keep them in your back pocket so you can take them out when you need to. 

Consider choosing an intentional thought, so you can move forward with an intentional life.

Discover What’s Possible.

Happy Holidays! – Or are they?

How to manage your mind to make sure your holidays don’t suck

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

So black Friday deals now start in October.

And Christmas decorations go up the day after Halloween.

Ya’all, the holiday bullet train has already left the station.

The last three months of the year are filled with images of smiling people surrounded by friends and family, throwing fake snow, enjoying everything the season brings (capitalism at its finest!). 

It’s billed as “the most wonderful time of the year”. 

But is it?

How are you truly feeling? 

Honestly, I have mixed emotions, every year I find myself caught between the joy of the season and seasonal depression. 

And this year is going to be especially difficult because it’s the first time I’ll be alone on Christmas day in 54 years.

Brief backstory…I lost my husband to MS a little over two years ago and my three children are grown and have started their own lives. I’m very happy for my kids, and super proud of all they have accomplished! I’m also in the process of reinventing my own life.

But I recently started binging any and all holiday baking shows – from cookies to pies, to ridiculous cake structures – which would seem normal given the time of year. And binging shows isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It’s why I’m binging shows that’s the issue.

I’m not watching consecutive hours of baking shows because I want something, like tasty recipes or inspiration. 

I’m binging tv shows because I don’t want something.

I don’t want to feel the sadness or loneliness that I’m afraid I will feel when I wake up alone on Christmas morning. 

Binging hours of holiday tv shows has become my way of “buffering”, or hiding from, that anticipated feeling of sad. (Plot twist, buffering still results in me feeling bad, I’m just feeling bad ahead of time but that’s a topic for a whole other blog).

Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation, that the holiday season isn’t the most wonderful time of the year? 

The good news is, if it’s not too early to start prepping for black Friday deals, it’s certainly not too early to start managing our minds and making sure we have the holiday experience that we want.

Here’s how…

Right now I’m trying to avoid feeling sad that my kids won’t be with me. 

My thought that’s generating the feeling of sadness is “I don’t want to be alone at Christmas”. 

If I chose to indulge in that sadness the actions I would take would include binging more tv shows and overindulging in coffee and Christmas cookies, which would make me feel more sorry for myself, which would make me feel sadder.

That’s definitely NOT how I want to spend Christmas day.

So let’s change the scenario:

The question I need to ask myself is – how do I WANT to feel when I wake up alone on Christmas day?

I want to feel connected. 

Connected to family, and friends, the joy of the season, the beautiful lights, and colorful presents.

So instead of focusing on the thought: “I don’t want to be alone on Christmas”, I could choose an intentional thought like: “I have family and friends whom I love, and who love me”.

In order for a thought to work we have to believe it, and I truly believe that thought.

Next, I can help myself feel connected by connecting. 

I can call my mom and dad, or I can drive to my sister’s house which is less than an hour away. I can schedule FaceTime with my kids. I can text them and tell them I love them and how much they mean to me (although I usually have to preface it with “I’m not drunk”, because I’m pretty sure that’s their first thought when I group text my feelings to them).

I can start a tradition of writing cards or letters to my friends and loved ones that I lost touch with throughout the year. 

More importantly, I can find ways to feel connected to myself.

That could look like putting presents under the tree for myself (let’s be honest, how many of us already do the “one for you, one for me” method of Christmas shopping?). I can even treat myself further by having the presents gift wrapped at the store because I hate wrapping presents and I suck at it.

I can also put on my favorite music, light my favorite candle, journal about what I’ve accomplished throughout the year, and maybe brainstorm about what I want my life to look like next year.

Connecting with myself might also look like spending Christmas night under a blanket, binging tv shows, and indulging in all the Christmas desserts. But it will be intentional, decided on ahead of time, and not the result of trying to hide from a negative emotion.

The bottom line is you get to decide how you want to feel this holiday season. 

Choose the thoughts you need to think in order to generate that feeling, then decide what actions you will take to ensure that your season is suck-proof.

We all have the option to choose our thoughts and feelings, instead of being at the effect of them. 

Discover What’s Possible.

And Happy Holidays everyone!