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.

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!

Three Lies My Brain Tells Me Everyday

And How I Manage My Mind Around Them

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

My alarm goes off at 4:15 a.m.

I look at my phone screen and have to make the dreaded decision – “off”, or “snooze”?

I know what “off” will mean. It will mean falling back asleep and missing my 5 a.m. CrossFit class.

“Snooze” means I can delay that decision for another 10 minutes, but I will ultimately still have to decide.

Meanwhile…outside it’s cold and dark, and I’m inside under my king-sized comforter with my little terrier, Sam, snuggled beside me.

And so the battle begins.

Brain Lie No. 1 – This is Too Hard

Of course I don’t want to get up at 4 a.m. to go to the gym, even though I’m the one that set my alarm and literally labeled it: “Get up and go to the gym”.

  • My brain tries to convince me:
  • It’s too cold outside
  • It would be easier to stay in bed
  • It would be easier not to put myself through a workout

And I get it (primal) brain, you’re just trying to keep me safe, comfortable, and in the cave.

But I try to give my (prefrontal) brain the chance to rally back:

“That’s true, all of those things would be easier, but would those actions get me the results I want?”

  • Stronger
  • Healthier
  • More fit
  • Connected to a community of like-minded people

Will “easier” challenge me to move forward towards the goals I’ve set for my life?

(Then I also remember those cute leggings I bought and planned on wearing today – never discount external retail motivation).

I throw back the covers and get moving.

Big Brain Lie No. 2 – This Won’t Work Anyway, Why Bother?

My brain loves to pull this one out of its virtual back pocket anytime I want to do something creative, like write this blog post, create a post on Instagram, or develop my elevator pitch.

And it goes a little something like this:

  • I’ve tried this before and it didn’t work
  • No one else cares if I do this or not
  • No one will like it anyway

All of which adds up to = why bother?

Rally brain: You may be right, it may not work…

  • But what if it does?
  • What if my message reaches just one person?
  • What if my message HELPS just one person?
  • What if creating this makes me better at creating?

That’s usually enough to get me to pick up a pen and start writing, or pick up my phone and start posting.

Big Brain Lie No. 3 – aka THE BIGGEST LIE OF ALL – What if I’m Not Good Enough?

This lie needs no introduction.

In fact, if I were a gambling woman, I would wager (for some reason I hear that in the voice of Captain Jack Sparrow), that half of you reading this right now would also have this as your Biggest Lie of All.

It’s the belief underlying most of my inaction.

This lie usually comes from what we learned to believe about ourselves while we were growing up (which is a whole other blog post in itself, so stay tuned).

But let’s give equal airtime to what could also be true:

  • How AM I already good enough?
  • How AM I already capable of doing hard things?
  • How AM I already capable of evolving into a better version of myself?

You don’t need to make your brain do a complete 180 and go from “I’m not good enough” to “I am good enough”, because it won’t stick if you don’t believe it.

Just pick a 10% better thought:

  • I have already evolved this far
  • I have gotten myself through x, y, and z, and I can get myself through this
  • I know so much more today than I did a year or six months ago

And then ask your brain to find evidence of those truths…did you learn to ride a bike? Drive a car? Start a new job? Raise a child?

I guarantee your brain will find the evidence of the positive if you tell it to.

We all have negative thoughts.

But we don’t have to believe or accept them.

We can ALWAYS choose to rally.

My unhelpful thoughts will always be a part of who I am. And on some days I may not rally. I may decide to sleep in or put off writing that blog post or creating that IG reel. And that’s okay.

But repeating those actions will not get me the results I want for my life.

I want a full life. I want to see what’s possible. I want to see what I am capable of achieving, and who I am capable of becoming.

And I chose to manage my brain in order to get there.

Who’s with me?

3 Steps You Can Take (Today!) to Beat Overwhelm as an Escrow or Title Professional

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Few people outside the title/escrow business understand the hustle it takes to run a successful desk.

Maybe this sounds familiar to you:

You walk into your office Monday morning, Starbucks in hand, optimism in full effect, ready to conquer your workday.

Then you start scrolling (and scrolling) through emails.

And notice the red light blinking on your phone.

And the stack of files on the corner of your desk from Friday.

Overwhelm starts to set in, your shoulders start inching up around your ears, and your chest begins to tighten. It’s enough to make even the most dedicated of us want to run for our TikTok fyp.

You’re not alone! 

When we spin out in overwhelm it’s because of our thoughts, and the feelings that those thoughts generate. Our brain is telling us that the tasks ahead are too much: 

  • We’ll never get them all done (failure).
  • We don’t have an answer for that lender or agent (inadequacy).
  • We have to admit a mistake – even if we’re not the one that made it (vulnerability).

These unproductive thoughts lead to unproductive actions, which leads to more overwhelm.

But you can break that cycle.  

Here are 3 steps you can take to start conquering overwhelm today.

Step 1: Get a Plain Journal or Notebook

Go into your closet and grab one of the seven journals that you started but never finished (or is that just me?). 

Give yourself an hour for this exercise, and do it the same day/time each week. I find that Sunday mornings, coffee in hand, dogs next to me on the couch, is the best time for me. I’m in a relaxed state and thinking with the logical part of my brain (prefrontal cortex). You definitely don’t want to do this when you’re under pressure or already stressed.

Now write down all of the to-do items that wake you up at 3 o’clock every morning…the question you’ve been meaning to ask underwriting, the 1,000th email you need to send to the seller’s agent, your daughter’s soccer game that you volunteered to bring snacks for. 

All of it. 

You’ll want to start freaking out at the number of tasks on your list – but don’t! You don’t have to do any of it yet, or even at all if that’s what you decide. The point is to just get everything out of your brain and onto paper.

Step 2: STS (Schedule That Shit)

Go back into your closet, next to the stack of unused journals, and get out one of your unused monthly calendars.

It doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated, simple is actually best.

Open up your calendar for the upcoming week and schedule each task on your list. 

Each task gets a time frame:

Email client – 7:30am – 7:45am

Walk at lunch – 12:30pm – 1:00pm

Stop after work to get soccer snacks 5:30pm – 6:00pm

Again, don’t panic! It’s your calendar, you’re in control. You get to decide what goes where, or even if it goes at all.

Schedule with kindness! Don’t sabotage yourself by planning an entire day, or days, of back-to-back tasks. You don’t need to be super-human to get it all done, just realistic. 

For example, if you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule a gym session for 5 am. If you know your brain is typically dead by 6 pm schedule your high-functioning mental tasks before 3 pm, or, better yet, before work.

Pro tip: Schedule self-time FIRST. It can be as simple as taking yourself to lunch or dinner, even binge-watching Yellowstone (yes, you can still binge tv shows! Just schedule it). We know how quickly self-time goes by the wayside if we don’t make it intentional.

Also, think about delegating tasks when possible: order groceries online, use auto-pay for your bills, or even hire a house cleaner to come in once a month, if that’s feasible for your budget.

Step 3 – DO. THE. DAMN. THING.

Spoiler Alert: You will want to avoid this step. 

Your brain will try to tell you it’s too hard or uncomfortable. 

It will tell you to pick up your phone, head for the fridge, or go get more coffee.

Expect those thoughts. Be ready for them.

When they arrive just tell your brain to settle down, and then put on your big girl pants and get it done. 

Five minutes of feeling uncomfortable beats two weeks of having that same task hanging over your head while you beat yourself up for not having done it.

Budget the time you think each item will take, then use ONLY that time, and move on. If you’ve underestimated how much time you needed then re-schedule another time to finish it.

Obviously, there will be circumstances outside of your control, but it’s your schedule, and you get to decide how to respond.

This isn’t about writing yet another to-do list, and it’s not about wearing our busyness as a badge of honor or feeling sorry for ourselves.

It’s about making decisions on purpose, then executing those decisions. We know what to do, we know how to do it, and we’re worth the effort.

Now, get to scheduling! I’d love it if you’d drop your comments below and let me know how this works for you, or if you have any questions!

How Is Your Fear Holding You Back?

When I was 10 years old I knew I wanted to play the drums. My parents didn’t take me seriously, because, back then, it just wasn’t something girls “did”. But I also didn’t take myself seriously, so I never pursued it.

But the desire to play drums never left. 

I was 38 when I bought my first set of drumsticks – just the sticks – I suppose it was a way of dipping my toe in the water. 

I was 41 when I bought my first full drum kit. The kid working at the music store asked if the kit was for me, and helped me pick out a set, but I remember I was so afraid of being judged that I kept my head down and couldn’t even make contact with him (even though he was very nice!). 

I had no idea how to play, but I set up the drum kit in my garage. I played along to rock songs on my iPod. I had no idea how to read music, but I could play by ear, and actually hold a beat pretty well.

I played on stage for the first time when I was about 45. My wonderful brother-in-law challenged me to sign up for a program at a local music store that put musicians together into groups, gave them practice space, and then put them on stage at a legit nightclub downtown. I had never even played in front of anyone at the time, not even my family, but I accepted the challenge anyway (if there’s one thing I CAN’T do, is turn down a direct challenge).

The day I went to sign up for the program the room was filled with mostly men around my age. I didn’t know a soul.

When I wrote my name onto the sing-up list I was terrified. My mouth was as dry as the desert, I couldn’t even swallow. My hand was shaking so badly I didn’t even recognize my own signature.

Everything within me told me to run away, go back home.

Instead, I sat in a corner and waited for my turn to play. 

When my turn came I walked over to the band area and sat down at the drum kit. Now, I’m 4’11 and the kit I used was set up for a grown man, but I somehow made it work. I did hit the rim instead of the drum head a couple of times, but I had rhythm, I knew the song, and I wasn’t half bad! 

It was the first time in my life that I played drums in front of other people,  and it was more exhilarating than I could have imagined!

After playing one song we were all assigned into separate bands. Over the next 4 weeks, each band would practice together 4 times, and then we would get to play live, on an actual stage, in front of an actual audience. 

As scared as I was to sign up that first day, I imagined that the fear of playing on a stage in front of 100+ people would be debilitating. 

The day of the show came, and I was definitely nervous, but it was one of the few times in my life where I felt like I was LIVING. It was a high I will never forget. I knew I was exactly where I belonged.

Our band sounded really good! We played 5 songs and I savored every second. I was in my element and there was nowhere else I would have rather been. 

I was 45 when I first got paid to play a gig at an actual venue. It was the first time I felt like I could truly believe I was a drummer.

Our band stayed together for a few years, playing fairly regularly at bars around town. I stopped playing for a while when my husband started to become really sick. It was too difficult for him to be alone so I focused on that and ended up selling m,y drum kit. I knew I could always buy another one, but for the time my focus had to change.

I’m 54 now. I recently bought an electronic kit after moving into an apartment. I signed up again for the same music program as before, and we got to play on stage again a few weeks ago. 

Playing drums is my happy place, and I have no intention of stopping.

When I was 10 I gave up on my dream before I even gave it a chance, and I hate to think about what would have happened if I gave it up a second time, simply out of fear?

My fear was that people, strangers, would think I looked stupid. Not only for being a female drummer but for being one at my age. 

I was afraid they would think I sucked. 

 I was afraid they would think I didn’t belong.

The truth is I was already thinking all of those things about myself.

My real fear was that those thoughts would be echoed by other people, and, thereby, validated.

If we didn’t believe other people’s thoughts about us, we wouldn’t feel pain from them. 

If someone told me “I don’t like you, because you have blue hair”, I would think they’re crazy. I know I don’t have blue hair. And just because someone tells me I have blue hair, that doesn’t make it true.

If someone told me “You suck at playing the drums”, my pain would come from my own thought “maybe they’re right?”. If I’m already doubting myself, then their words would only validate my self-judgment. 

But just because someone says I don’t know how to play the drums, doesn’t make it any more true than saying I had blue hair. 

Maybe they don’t know what to listen for? I can play songs, I can play along in a band, I can pick up sticks and move around a drum kit to a song. 

Maybe someone else truly believes that I know how to play the drums? That still just makes it their opinion, not a fact. And why would I let one person’s opinion invalidate what I believe to be true? 

Their opinion can only be true if I ALSO choose to believe it.

Fear is just a feeling, it’s a vibration in our body. And feelings can’t harm us. Not if we process them…feel them, allow them, then let them go. 

What are you choosing to believe? What are you letting fear hold you back from? 

Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you. ☺️

How Do You Measure Your Self-Worth?

Happy Monday strong humans 🙂 

I know your time is valuable so let’s get into it.

How do you measure your self-worth?

Is it your hustle? What you can do for others? What you can produce?

When I was in my late teens and twenties I was a workaholic.

I went to high school during the day and worked at a fast-food restaurant at night, sometimes until closing, which could be as late as 1:00 am.

After graduation I got a “real”, 8-5 office job, I started as a receptionist but quickly proved myself to be a very hard worker and moved up quickly. In order to impress the ‘higher ups’ I started coming in early and staying late. I even worked weekends.

My bosses loved me, and I was making good money.

I lived like this, even after having my first baby, for several years. 

My first marriage ended after just two years (to be fair we were both still children when we first got married). 

In my early thirties, I remarried and had two more babies. By then my focus had shifted. I not only had to prove myself worthy to my coworkers and bosses, I also needed to prove myself worthy to my kids and my husband, and his family, while still working full time. 

Shortly after that, my husband became sick, and I felt I had to prove myself as a caregiver.

Looking back at this makes me feel exhausted. 

In a nutshell, I’ve lived my whole life feeling that I was only as good as the work I could produce, and what I could do for other people.

Because I’ve only known how to view my worthiness through their eyes. 

Only their approval of me mattered, mine meant nothing. 

And I feel like a lot of women are living their lives the same way. 

Are you one of them?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as easy as repeating a mantra, or shoving down your current thoughts and swapping them for a “happy” one.

So what does it take to truly acknowledge our self-worth? To believe it?

First, we need to look at why we ever questioned ourselves in the first place.

Who told us, or got us to believe, that we weren’t worthy?

And why did we choose to believe it?

However it started, it’s in the past, and we don’t have to believe it anymore. We’re adults now, and we get to choose whatever thoughts we want to think now. Intentionally.

Do you want to believe you’re only as good as someone else thinks you are? Do they know you better than you do? Or do you want to finally believe in your own self-worth?

We live and breathe. Our brain contains chemicals that can generate enough electricity to power a lightbulb! 

It takes six muscles just to operate the human eye.

We are capable of loving others. Our children. Our parents. Our siblings. Ourselves.

We are walking miracles. We are born being worthy of love. And that never changes.

The only thing that changes are our thoughts about ourselves. 

But we can change them back. 

Find that worthiness in yourself, it’s there, I promise you! You just need to see it, and accept it. 

And if you need any help with that just let me know. No matter who you are, or what you feel you’ve done to lose it, I GUARANTEE I can show it to you 🙂 

Don’t waste one more day giving away your power, your worth

Decide to take it back.

Start today.

You’re worth the work. I promise. ❤️

Primal Vs Prefrontal – a Tale of Two Brains

Photo by That’s Her Business on Unsplash

Did you know that, as humans, we function primarily from two different parts of our brain?

They’re the polar opposite of each other, and their functions are the difference between sitting down and working on a college thesis, or binge-watching Tin Star (highly recommend!) the whole weekend.

Let me introduce you to them:

The Primal Brain

Its job is to

1) Seek pleasure

2) Avoid pain

3) Be efficient (which, in this case, is NOT a good thing!)

Back in the primal days being full, being warm, avoiding uncomfortable situations, and thinking ‘inside the box’ literally meant staying alive. (We weren’t always at the top of the food chain).

The Prefrontal Cortex

This is known as the ‘higher-thinking’ brain. It’s the workhorse, the intentional, problem-solving brain, and it’s available to us 24/7. We can tap into it any time we want.

Most of us just don’t know how.

The primal brain is considered ‘efficient’ because it runs on default, which takes no energy or conscious thought to operate. Because of this, it tends to generate the same (often negative) thoughts so often, for so long, that they become our unconscious beliefs:

“I can’t do that”, “I don’t know how”, “I’m not good enough”, “Things like that are only available to other people, not me”. 

But imagine for a moment…what would be possible for us if we decided to challenge those default thoughts? If we chose an INTENTIONAL thought instead? How would those intentional thoughts feel in your body? 

We don’t have to choose an opposite thought right away because most of us have found that forcing positive thoughts doesn’t work. But we could decide to choose a thought we can believe, one that would serve us:

“What if I could do that?”, “What if I could learn how”, “What if I AM good enough, right now, just as I am”. 

Pick an intentional thought from your higher brain, make sure it feels believable, and make sure it’s a thought that will serve you. Then journal that intentional thought, every day. Make it part of your routine. “I AM worthy, just as I am”. “I AM capable of learning this new thing”. “I can do hard things”.

YOU CAN RE-TRAIN YOUR BRAIN to think thoughts that work FOR you. Tap into that prefrontal. Make it intentional. 

It will change your life.

I wish you all a very happy, intentional week!

And Happy Valentines Day my beautiful friends ❤️

The Thoughts You’re Holding Onto, Are the Same Thoughts Holding You Back

Do you ever find yourself wanting something more? Something different? Something better?

What if I told you the only thing holding you back from that ‘something’ – was just a thought?

Let me explain…

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

  • I’m not good enough
  • I’m not worthy
  • I don’t know how
  • I might fail
  • People will make fun of me

Are any of these sentences you’ve said to yourself? And if so, how often?

The thoughts we default to over and over again create a thought loop. They can often be negative (see any of the above), but we repeat them so often that they become the path of least resistance for our brains.

Our brains are designed to be efficient, so they will choose that default thought – over and over – until it becomes automatic and requires no energy to generate.

These are called ‘unintentional’ thoughts.

Now here’s the good news.

Thoughts are never facts. They are optional sentences in our brain.

And we don’t have to choose them.

Instead, we can challenge them.

Try this (play along, I promise it will be worth it!): Read the unintentional thought, and then the intentional thought. Pause for just a second to notice the different feelings these thoughts generate in your body

Unintentional Thought:

Intentional Thought:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I don’t know how
  • I’m not worthy
  • I might fail
  • But what if I am good enough?
  • What if I could figure it out?
  • (That one is a trick. You are worthy. 1000%. So stop it)
  • What if I succeed?

When you read the unintentional thought “I’m not good enough”, how does that feel in your body?

Tight? Heavy? Dark?

Now, when you read the intentional thought “But what if I am good enough?”, how does that feel in your body?

Take just a second to believe the intentional thought is truly available to you.

How does that thought feel in your body?

Does it feel lighter? Brighter? Maybe even hopeful?

Can you start to imagine generating that feeling on purpose?

Intentional thoughts are available to us. Every day.

Let me prepare you, it’s not as easy as just flipping a switch. You can’t fake it, or guilt yourself into it, or beat yourself into submission.

First, you have to get curious (there’s absolutely NO self-judgment allowed!). Where did those negative thoughts come from? Your childhood? Have you been carrying them with you your whole life? Did they serve you at some point by keeping you safe, or keeping you from feeling sad, or hurt?

It’s time to challenge those thoughts. You’re an adult now, you don’t have to keep the unintentional thoughts just because they’re familiar, and thereby, comfortable. You can choose to let those thoughts go.

Find a believable, intentional thought. Something as easy as “I am someone who can figure it out”, or “I’m worthy simply because I’m a human”.

Journal the intentional thoughts every day. Write sticky notes if that’s what it takes.

You can form a new neural pathway in your brain. It’s possible. It just takes practice.

So, how about you?

Are your thoughts serving you?

Or are they holding you back?

I’d love to hear your comments ❤️

Hi, I’m Vicki

I coach single, empty-nester women to discover who they are, and what they want. Then I teach them how to go get it. I just launched my 6-week program where I help you discover what you want from the next stage of your life. Are you in?

So Where Do I Go From Here? Navigating Empty – Nester Syndrome

After my husband passed away last year, I decided to sell our four-bedroom house and move to a two-bedroom apartment that I would share with my 21-year-old daughter and her girlfriend.

I was so excited at the prospect! For the first time in 25 years I had a bedroom and master bath all to myself.

I could keep it as clean or dirty as I wanted.

I could decorate it however I liked.

I could even leave makeup and tools all over it if I felt like it.

So one afternoon I took my excitement to the home goods section at Target and got ready to buy all the things that reflected MY personality.

Then, as I stood in front of their wall of towels, (and coordinating accessories), it hit me. 

I had no idea what to get.

I had no idea what I even liked. 

I didn’t know what color or pattern would represent my style, because I had no idea what my style was.

I had no idea who I was.

I had spent the last 25 years of my life raising kids, being a wife, and being a caregiver. I had confused who I ‘was’, with whatever role I had taken on.

But I had no role now. 

It was just me. Dealing with me.

I was about the prospect of finally claiming my own space. But, when the time actually came, I felt completely overwhelmed.

I stood in front of that wall of towels (and coordinating accessories) for about 30 minutes. I finally gave up and just grabbed something that I felt okay with, and went home.

I felt defeated.

Not actually by towels, of course.

But by the thought that “I have to get it right.”

Like there was a right or wrong way to decorate my bathroom!

(Spoiler alert – there isn’t).

I ended up going home, washing everything, then placing it around my bathroom anyway. And you know what? I liked it! I even started thinking about a pretty accent color I could add to make the space even more me

But this is about more than just picking out towels for your bathrooms or a color pattern for your kitchen or living room.

It’s about the empty–nester process.

Maybe, like me, you’ve spent the last 10, 20, or 25 years living for other people, and considering their needs and wants.

And now, we’re having to re-learn who WE are, and figure out how to start living for that person.

Let me reassure you – there is no right or wrong way to move forward with the 2nd stage of your life!

Explore! Have fun!

Do something you’ve always wanted to do, but never ‘found time’ for.

And be patient. Give yourself some grace. There is no time limit, you don’t have to have it all figured out before you start moving.

Just start.

Take one step.

And if you don’t like where that step takes you, change it. Shift. Regroup.

You can always change the color of your towels.

You can figure this out!

I believe in you 🙂

If you’d like to learn more about how to adjust to being an empty–nester you can contact me at You can also follow me on FaceBook at Your Next Step, and on Instagram at vicki.pike_lifecoach.

I’d love to hear your story 🙂

Holding Space for Yourself

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

Okay, before you write this off as all ‘woo-woo’ hear me out…

You may already have an idea of what ‘holding space’ means, but just so we’re on the same page, I describe holding space as:

  • Listening without judgment, no matter what is being said
  • Staying ‘out of the pool’ – not agreeing with the person’s story, not feeling sorry for them or justifying their emotions – just listening quietly, and with compassion
  • Being patiently and giving them all the time they need to get their words and emotions out

Maybe you’ve already done this for a friend, a loved one, or even a customer or an employee.

But have you ever done it for yourself? 

Have you ever help space for YOU? Have you ever listened to your own feelings and needs, from a neutral space, without judgment, and with compassion? 

I recently made the difficult decision to end a romantic relationship, even though I did (and still do) care very much for this person. 

We separated on good terms, but shortly afterwards I found that I kept returning to a feeling of anger towards them. The thoughts coming up for me were that they weren’t who I needed them to be, or who I thought they should be, and if they had been, then none of this would have happened. 

Now I know that this person wasn’t truly making me angry, it was my thoughts about them that were causing my own feelings of anger (‘they should be different’, “the circumstances shouldn’t have been be so challenging”).

It took me a few days – and many thought downloads – to understand my  real problem. 

I was sad.

Even though I’m the one that decided to end that part of our relationship, I was still very sad about it, and I was mourning the loss.

The problem was, I didn’t want to feel sad. That emotion was WAY too uncomfortable, so I was trying my best to avoid it. For me it was much easier to feel anger, because I could at least project that onto someone else, and not have to own it (spoiler alert, that actually doesn’t work 😬).

When I finally decided to let go of my ‘false’ anger and get curious about my sadness, it allowed me to discovered another underlying thought that I was trying to avoid…the thought that somehow I “didn’t have the right to be sad because I’m the one that caused all the pain to both of us in the first place”. 

Ouch. 🙁 

(Can you believe the way we talk to ourselves sometimes??) 

Once I discovered that these thoughts were the actual cause of my pain, I decided allow them, explore them, and to hold space for myself.

I gave myself permission to be sad. To allow it. To feel the feelings, without judgment, without reacting, and process them when I was ready. 

It was difficult for sure, and brought up some issues that I wasn’t aware I had been avoiding. But finally understanding the thoughts that were causing my pain felt so much better than projecting anger at someone I loved. 

And that’s the same option I’d like to offer for you…to hold space for yourself. Just like you would for a loved one, your best friend, or a child.

Whatever you’re going through, whatever feelings you’re trying to work out, make sure to have compassion for you. Have your own back. Don’t judge. Identify your thoughts that are causing your feelings, allow them, and process them. 

And always remember to love yourself through that process. 

You’re 100% worth it.