Change Takes Time

One of the things that I don’t like about the coaching industry is that it sells the idea that you can have anything you want in life quite easily as long as you pay a lot of money for a given coaching deal. The expense is carefully reframed as “the investment.” Now I’m a life/executive coach, but I don’t change exorbitant fees (like over $1,000 per month), because I want my services to be accessible to people. However, there is a well-known coach who emailed everyone on his list last year to offer a “carefully curated group of top business professionals” to form a mastermind group for the “low” price of 10k per year. Not very much was even being offered for that price, except the opportunity to be surrounded by top professionals. I deleted the email, but I know a few people who were burned by this. And interestingly, a year later, there is no reference on the internet to the program that was offered at all, as though it never existed, after the coach himself pocketed a million dollars. The reality is that a lot of people think that if they pay enough money, they will be transformed, but it doesn’t work that way, because change happens over time and has everything to do with how much work a person is willing to do, not just in the short run, but over time to maintain the change.

Clients come to me after they’ve been burned by programs like this.  I don’t believe in fleecing people and promising the moon. I believe in working week by week on effective change. Period. I hate to break it to clients wanting a quick fix, but most change takes three months to see tiny changes, six months to see momentum, and a good year to solidify the habits associated with the change. Change is hard work and it’s not easy, which is why most people give up or don’t try in the first place. I have found in my own life and with friends and clients, that change doesn’t happen in a day or a weekend, no matter how inspiring the weekend. I know Anthony Robbins charges a lot for his intense weekend programs, but I wonder how many people are permanently transformed, and how many people could have the same or better effects reading his books and/or working with a coach? I have friends who have called after taking the intensive Landmark program (kind of like EST from the seventies), feeling transformed, but a few months later, they admit that it didn’t really do anything permanently for them.

The biggest obstacle for most people is that we have false expectations of how change happens. I’ve seen friends lose a lot of weight quickly, but the ones who lose it slowly over time find that the changes ultimately stick. And the methods aren’t very sexy: 1) keep track of portion size 2) write everything down 3) realize that sugar and junk and high fat foods should be occasional treats 4) exercise every day 5) get enough sleep and 6) lower stress. That’s it. Some people do better with more protein or less or more carbs or less, but nobody needs to adhere to the zealotry of various diet camps, like Vegans vs. Paleo, because foods work differently for each person and there is no one right diet. Ultimately it still comes down to: Eat less and focus on real foods, and exercise and move a lot more. That’s it.

As you seek your world stage, beware of the coaching programs promising you an easy solution to changing your life for a high “investment” of money. You don’t need to spend 10K for a weekend to change your life. You just need to decide that you’re ready to change, and then find the books and/or people who can help you. For some, it’s going to AA meetings, or joining Weight Watchers, or checking out Toastmasters, or getting resume services. For others, it’s finding a coach to have your back as you do the hard work of change. But just remember no matter what, that you can decide to permanently change whatever isn’t working. It’s up to you.





Watch Out for Spin

Last Monday, in Brooklyn around 12:30 in the afternoon, two mothers who are friends crossed a well-marked crosswalk at a light when it was their turn to walk. One mother, Ruthie Ann, was 7 months pregnant and carrying her 5 year-old daughter across the street. The other mother, Lauren, was pushing her 1 year-old son in a stroller. Later street videos show that even though the cars were initially stopped a few feet from the crosswalk, all of a sudden a white Volvo started to accelerate in spite of the red light, right into the people crossing, hitting the two mothers and both of their children, who were tossed like rag dolls into the street. The pregnant mother ended up lying facedown in the middle of the street with blood coming from her head. The other mother was able to get up and try to give CPR to her son who had flown out of the stroller, which ended up being dragged by the car. A medical resident happened to be there, so he did compressions while the mother screamed and blew oxygen into her son. Both kids ended up dying from their injuries but the mothers survived, including the unborn child. I can’t imagine what they are both going through right now as they try to come to terms with what happened, and try to heal their broken bodies and spirits.

What struck me about this story is how the news story has been spun. This is a story that touches on a lot of different issues: money and fame and race and religion and illness came into play. The driver who killed the children apparently has not be prosecuted because she is a white middle-aged woman who has a medical history of seizures, as if that explains anything. My cousin had seizures after the birth of one of her children, and was forced to give up her license. But in this case, the driver wasn’t even scolded. Her license ended up being temporarily revoked, after some public pressure, but that’s about it. If she had been a black man driving with a medical condition, they would have pressed charges. In addition, I thought it was strange how the press emphasized continually how the pregnant mom was a Famous Broadway Actress and the other woman was “a friend” and how both moms had Go Fund Me pages that had been set up, but the famous woman had twice as much money as “the friend”– with one accruing $414K so far and the other “just” $221K. While I appreciate that people want to do something supportive in a time of tragedy to show that they care, should enough money be raised to fund a new house? It kind of seems like trading money for a dead child to me. In addition, various celebrity publications have been writing about what Ruthie Ann Miles’ net worth is, forgetting that there are two dead children and a reckless driver who hasn’t been prosecuted. Instead, people have focused on how much the famous actress has and how much she’ll get from her Go Fund Me account.

There’s also the issue of the moms’ races– it’s interesting that one is Asian married to a white guy and one is white married to an Asian guy, both with Eurasian children, and no one mentions it, which I think shows how far we’ve come in terms of race. But what if these moms had been black women from the projects, or they were migrant workers carrying their kids after being in the fields? I don’t think there would be a story or a Go Fund Me page. Finally, the issues of religion is interesting too. Ruthie Ann is apparently very religious and believes that the two dead children are in heaven with Jesus, but the other woman is apparently really suffering mentally. I don’t know what her beliefs are, but I would think it would be hard to be friends with someone who has such religious certainty when you in fact may not share that. Not everyone believes that everything happens for a reason and that your child who was murdered is suddenly in the arms of Jesus.

Finally, while locals are up in arms about the crossing not being safe– I’m not sure why it’s not safe but another pedestrian was killed there last year– people continue to walk down the sidewalk and across the street while looking down at their phones, trusting that all the cars will stop. I was thinking about this story today, noticing how often pedestrians are walking and not looking where they are going. As for the woman with the seizures, her license should have been taken away from her years ago. People with certain medical conditions should not be able to drive, no matter how much compassion we may have for them, just as crazy people shouldn’t have guns.

To find your world stage, make sure you notice the spin on any news story. Notice how often there is an implied hierarchy of values: 1) Fame 2) Money 3) Upper class white (or Asian) 4) Mothers. The quicker you understand the spin of the story, the sooner you can see what our society values, and how easily we get distracted by money and fame and forget the more important story, which is that two innocent children were murdered by a reckless driver who never should have gotten behind the wheel of a car that day.


All the World’s a Stage

This weekend my 13 year-old son performed in his school’s production of Mary Poppins, playing the part of the little boy, Michael. There were over 40 middle school students performing, some of whom had never been on a stage before, and the cast only had rehearsals five hours per week for three months. With a few extra long rehearsals toward the end, it amounted to about 80 hours of rehearsal total, which is only two weeks time for a professional cast rehearsing 40 hours per week, and they usually rehearse at least six weeks. So there wasn’t a lot time and there were a lot of beginners in the cast.

And yet, when the curtain came up last night, I was more moved by this production than by professional ones that I have seen, because of the amount of heart and joy that went into this. Given that the cast was all roughly the same age (age 11-13), many of them were the same height, so my son who played a 7 year-old was actually taller than his mother, his older sister, and Mary Poppins. But somehow we believed that he was a little kid. The cast was a fabulous rainbow of races– with Mary Poppins half Asian and half hispanic; George, the father, half Asian and half white; Jane, the daughter, half black and half hispanic, and Bert, part-black. My son and his mother were the only two white leads. There were kids who could hit all the notes perfectly and those who had trouble with pitch. There were strong dancers and kids who looked at their feet. There were kids who really stood out in the chorus and other kids who were happy just to be a quiet townsperson or a toy who came to life. There were kids running lights and kids moving the sets on and off, kids who sold tickets, and kids who organized the costumes, props and sets with teachers.

What I loved about this is that during this show, you couldn’t tell which kids were popular, which kids were friends or not, or which kids were gay or straight. It didn’t matter whose family dislikes Trump or not, who was what race or what religion or spoke what language at home. It didn’t matter ultimately who had the most lines or the least, because in the end, the leads can’t shine if they are not well lit or don’t have their props, or don’t have smiling townspeople behind them. Every single person was essential to the success of the play and every student knew it.

I think about what our society and our greater world would be like if we realized that, like a play, we are all necessary and important, and that it doesn’t matter if our doctor is black or white or Christian or Muslim, but that he or she can help to heal us. Same with the teacher or accountant or firefighter. We waste so much time trying to make ourselves better than others, making the point that we are the lead and others aren’t, but we forget that we need all the players of life, just as in a play, to make our lives work.

To find your world stage, remember that as Shakespeare once said, “All the world’s a stage.” Every single actor and designer and crew person is essential on the stage, as they are metaphorically in real life. Let’s forget how we’re different and start to notice not only how alike we in fact are, but also how much, in the end, we need each other.






After the recent school shooting in Florida, where another 17 students were mowed down by a disgruntled student with an AR-15 weapon, President Trump tweeted his “prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” Later he stated: “Our entire nation, with one heavy heart, is praying for the victims and their families. To every parent, teacher, and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you — whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain.” And then he went off and played golf. This is the man who received 30 million dollars from the NRA and was quoted as saying (and I paraphrase): “You were good to me, so I will be good to you.”

There have been over 10 school shootings in America in the past six weeks alone, and guns have been fired in schools 18 times since 2018 began. There were 58 shootings since the beginning of the school year, according to Everytown, a gun control advocacy group. Of the 13 worst school shootings in America’s history, only three happened in the eighties or nineties. The rest were all within about 10 years, with five happening in a little over two years: Dec 2015-Feb 2018. The biggest two happened in the last two years as well with the Las Vegas and Orlando shootings.  (See The Guardian Feb 15, 2018.)

So I’m guessing thoughts and prayers aren’t working. We can’t really leave this up to God when we have mostly Republican congressmen receiving huge gifts from gun advocacy groups. According to, Republicans received 5.9 million in gifts and Democrats about 100K in the 2016 election year, with top donations going to congressmen like Paul Ryan, who personally received $336K.

I’m thinking that instead of thoughts and prayers, that hearing this might be more helpful: “I’m sorry that my greed and my need for power made me accept blood money that is now killing your children.” That would be a start. And then outlawing and buying back all semi-automatic weapons, that are not helpful for self-defense or hunting, would be the next thing to do. But it begins with the word Sorry. Or how about “I’m sorry we cut taxes for corporations and billionaires and won’t have enough money to feed the poor, but at least we’ll be giving them food they don’t want or can’t eat in little boxes somehow delivered to their front door?”

I’ve been thinking about this issue of apology a lot lately in my conversations with clients. So many of my clients, who are smart and talented and hard-working, would benefit from hearing Sorry from emotionally abusive parents, in two cases, who never heard what the client needed as a child, so these clients struggle as adults to believe that their needs are valid. Or how about another client hoping that her father will stop negating the choices she is making, by constantly trying to steer her to another path, even though she’s doing great? Or how about my friend whose husband has been emotionally abusive for years– what if he apologized and got help? Or the friend with the husband who has been cheating for years? “I’m sorry I betrayed you and it’s not your fault. I’m going to get help” would go a long way.

I’m kind of tired of thoughts and prayers. After bouncing around a lot of churches over the years, trying to find our “church home” we finally gave up, after the last very liberal minister tried to convince me that hiding illegal aliens was more noble than giving to the Americans who are starving and homeless in our own backyard. I think it felt sexier to him to get caught up in the Sanctuary Movement, even though it was against the wishes of many parishioners. As I said to my kids, “If every American was fed and clothed and safe and warm and had a good job, then we could give amnesty to all these new poor people who snuck in illegally. But if we can’t take care of our own– all the Native Americans who were here first and all the African Americans whom we stole and forced onto ships– then we have no business hiding foreigners. Hearing a Sorry from our minister might have allowed us to stay, but in the end, he felt like he was part of the Underground Railroad, saving people who didn’t belong here and forgetting that he was abandoning all the ancestors of slaves in our own neighborhood.

As you think about your world stage, remember to listen not just to what people say, but to what they do. Learn to follow the money to understand people’s actions. If it’s not about money, it’s about power for so many people sadly. But if you can stand up for what is right and expose the hypocrisy of all the greedy, power-hungry people offering thoughts and prayers, as opposed to real life-changing solutions, then you will be on your way to claiming your world stage.









Remember the Dream Again

A year ago, I wrote about Martin Luther King and what a hero he was, not only to black people but to all of us. I am re-posting this again this weekend, because it is more important now than ever. Americans have spent a year feel assaulted by the bully we have in the White House. We already know that Trump is sexist and racist, but his horrible comments this week about not wanting people from s*** hole countries is disgusting. I feel ashamed to be American, and I can only imagine what Martin Luther King would have thought. I hope that we all find the courage to start marching in protest against all the dismantling that has been done already, from our environment to foreign policy.  It is ironic that these comments were made on the eve of MLK Day, given that this day honors a man who stood up for the poor and the oppressed and who understood the power of language to unite or to tear down.  He cared about justice and building a better world for everyone, not about making more money at others’ expense. In honor of Martin Luther King, here is the post I wrote exactly one year ago, celebrating one of my heroes. May we all remember that freedom is not something we can take for granted, and we must fight for it every day.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and none of it was planned.  The night before, King asked his aides for advice about the speech, as to whether he should use the “I Have a Dream” line, which he had used a few times before.  His advisor, Wyatt Walker, said, “It’s trite, it’s cliche.  You’ve used it too many times already.” The next day, King did not plan to use it.  He wanted something as powerful as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address but just couldn’t seem to nail it.  When he reached the podium, it was almost 90 degrees and the crowd of 250,000 people had been standing in the heat for hours.  King was 16th on the program, almost at the very end.  As Norman Mailer wrote, “there was… an air of subtle depression, of wistful apathy which existed in many. One felt a little of the muted disappointment which attacks a crowd in the seventh inning of a very important baseball game when the score has gone 11-3.” King delivered a rather staid address, reading from his notes, but it clearly wasn’t as passionate as other speeches he had given in the past.  As he neared the end, Mahalia Jackson, who was behind him, having sung earlier, cried out: “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin!” King paused, put down his notes and decided to preach like the Baptist minister he was, and the rest is history:

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character… I have a dream that…one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” (The Guardian: Aug 9, 2013.)

Over 50 years later, some of the dream has come to fruition, like having a black president in the White House the past eight years, but racial tensions continue, with white cops killing innocent blacks and blacks retaliating.  Most recently in the news, there was a very sad and disturbing story of four angry black teens kidnapping and torturing a disabled white teen to seek revenge on all white people.  The ordeal was videotaped by the teens and posted to social media because I guess getting noticed for their hatred was far more important than not getting caught.  Still, it makes me so sad and angry that all these years after the Civil Rights Movement, there continues to be more racial hatred and violence.  Dr. King would be so disheartened to see this, and yet I’m sure he wouldn’t be surprised.  Racism is taught at home and anti-racism has to be taught as well.  Children don’t just grow up knowing the importance of not judging by the color of one’s skin. It has to be taught.  Children aren’t born racist.  Babies love all colors; they love people who play with them.  It is adults who teach them to be mean and judgmental and afraid of people not like them.  And we should be ashamed.

My family is fortunate in that we can afford to live in a town that is very racially and religiously diverse, with 30% Jews and many Asians and African Americans.  My son’s classroom last year was 50% non white, his teacher was Indian-American and his aide was African-American.  The year before, his teacher was Costa Rican. My daughter’s school is an international school with 75 countries represented. At her birthday party, half of all the girls spoke another language as their first language.  My husband’s best friend is Japanese, and our kids have grown up thinking that “Crazy Uncle Dave” is somehow blood related, even though we are pale white people.   My kids know that discriminating against people because of the color of their skin is like choosing friends because of the color of their tennis shoes– it’s pretty random and unfair. But not all parents teach this.  Some white children are taught to hate and fear blacks and visa versa, and that’s sad, because the cycle will never end until all of us learn and teach the right thing.

As you begin this new year, committed to finding and living your world stage, remember the brave preacher that one hot August day, who had a dream that someday black children would be equal to white.  This is also a man who took a chance, against the advice of his aides, and put his speech down, knowing he had no other words to read from, and followed his heart in order to inspire a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people looking for direction and hope.  Remember to ask yourself how you are helping Martin Luther King’s dream to live on in the way you live your life.  And ask yourself what your “I Have A Dream” speech is, and what would happen if just once, you lay down your notes and spoke from your heart.  You might just make history too.





Hope Is Alive

This morning I woke up to the news that one of the largest tax cuts in American history was passed, during the night while Americans slept. The cuts will fill the pockets of corporations and the wealthiest 1% to please the donors who will contribute generously to future campaigns. We no longer have a government by the people and for the people, and it is very scary. The timing seems perfect because Americans are in fact asleep at the wheel of democracy. We have become consumers and not citizens. A large percentage of Americans actually get their news from Facebook, much of which we have now learned is in fact fake. We voted in a reality star for president, because we were more mesmerized by the size of his bank account than by the content of his character. We got the democracy we deserve.

My son is studying the American Revolution and trying to understand why a ragtag group of colonists, with not enough money or training, could overcome the massive British Army. There are a lot of reasons, including learning a form of guerrilla warfare that the Indians had taught George Washington in the French Indian War. But the main reason, I believe, is that colonists had a lot to lose; they had a why. They were not asleep.  They were not wasting time doing the colonial equivalent of watching the Kardashians.  They didn’t believe in taxation without representation and realized that they were going to have to fight to gain their freedom.

Today we think that freedom is our God-given right, but it’s not. We have to fight for it every day, given that it is eroding as we speak. But we also have to reconnect with that sense of purpose that the early colonists felt. We have to find our WHY, because without it, we won’t have the energy over the long haul, for all the lost battles that can still add up to an ultimate win if we are patient and persistent.

The same, of course, applies to our lives. We have this idea that things should come easily and if they don’t, they aren’t meant to happen. (I blame design shows that renovate a house in 45 minutes.) As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” And doing anything that matters doesn’t happen in a day or a week or a month or even in a year necessarily. It takes a lot of years of hard work to be a surgeon or a concert pianist or a great teacher. It takes daily grit and patience and humor to raise kids and/or to start and grow a business. It’s a leap of faith for so many things that matter, since in the end there are no guarantees.

In spite of the bad news, however, it was a great day, because I helped out with my son’s school’s Model UN conference, in which 600 students from all over greater Boston took a day out of their busy lives, shut off their phones and computers, and took on the biggest issues the world faces, from poverty to women’s rights to nuclear weapons. My son represented Turkey in nuclear arms issues, and others represented countries ranging from the US and UK to Myanmar and Nigeria. I heard conversations about water rights and hunger and disarmament. I took pictures and was impressed how serious all the students were, ranging in age from 11-14, dressed in their business suits and negotiating resolutions. I couldn’t put my finger on what made me so happy today, and then I realized what it was. I felt hopeful for the world and for our country.  600 students, representing the next generation, made fighting for human rights and democracy their number one priority today.

As you seek your world stage, whatever country your passport comes from, don’t forget that anything that matters is worth working hard and fighting hard for. Remember your WHY for whatever you’re doing. If it’s not strong enough, think about what will inspire you to go after what matters to you. If a group of scruffy colonists could defeat the greatest power the world had ever known, we have a model for how to do it again, whether to defend our democracy or our dreams.



Watch the Road

I recently read about a mom in Oklahoma who was driving six kids home from a water park last summer on the way to a soccer game. It was hot and she was probably tired, and with six kids in the car, ranging in age from 7-13, three of whom were hers and three of whom were her kids’ friends, I’m sure she was distracted. But something happened around 3:20pm on Monday July 17 coming back from Tulsa, and instead of slowing down to stop behind a semi-truck that was parked in front of her, she plowed into the back of it at full speed, killing herself and two kids– her son and one of his friends– instantly. The other four kids were air lifted out, but one of the 13 year-old girls, a friend of her older daughter’s, was taken off life support two days later. The other two 13 year-olds are still battling all sorts of injuries in the hospital two months later, one on a breathing tube relearning how to move and the other in a full body cast. The only child who escaped with no injuries, was the mom’s 7 year-old daughter, who was most likely in a booster seat. The boys, however, had no seat belts on, and no one is sure if the girls were belted. It is frankly amazing that anyone survived, given that the SUV drove at full speed into the back of a semi, and just folded in on itself like a giant accordion.

I keep thinking about this accident because so often my kids are being driven by other people and I have to assume that they will keep their eyes on the road and not text and not be distracted. I can’t imagine the family getting the call that their son was killed and two daughters fighting for their lives, and then realizing that one wasn’t going to make it. Pulling the plug on their 13 year-old is not what this family had planned. The mom who killed three other people, including her son, and severely injured two more, including one of her daughters, can’t be held accountable since she’s dead, but it’s clear from the traffic report that she was “unlawfully distracted.” I don’t know if that means she was texting, but the fact that she didn’t notice the truck was parked in front of her and was barreling at a high speed without any attempt to break (no skid marks), means most likely that she was looking down at her phone. Maybe an important text came in and she figured she knew this stretch of road like the back of her hand. She might have been running late, wanting to notify the coach of their whereabouts, apologizing for keeping the team waiting as she hauled an SUV filled with star soccer players. She might have turned around to ask the boys to stop throwing the nerf ball in the back, or to answer a quick question, or to quickly glance at her daughters’ phone at a cute picture, since we know the daughter was in the front with her feet propped up against the dash– the least safe way to travel.

What’s curious to me is that everyone is saying what a great mom this woman was, not mentioning the fact that her carelessness killed all these people. But for a lot of people, a great mom is someone who thinks nothing of driving a car full of kids to the water park, and then rushes back to a soccer game, organizing things on the phone along the way to make sure everything works perfectly, until it doesn’t. After the crash, the soccer coaches focused on what great athletes these kids were, and then added as an after thought that they were great kids. But I wonder if the hyper-competitive soccer atmosphere was part of the dynamic that made this woman forget that her most important job at 3:20 on that Monday was to the keep those kids safe. I’m also curious what will happen in the aftermath. Yes, there are Go Fund Me pages for both families. I do wonder if the other family will sue for wrongful death. But then, who do you sue? The surviving husband? Some commentators were blaming the state for constant construction and unsafe roads, but that’s true everywhere. But I think it’s safe to say in this case, the problem was a tired, distracted mom who took her eyes off the road for too long and no one in that town will ever be the same.

To find your world stage, remember where you are on the road of life.  Don’t lose sight of the path or closer your eyes to obstacles. It’s okay to slow down or even temporarily stop, but if you go barreling ahead with no attention to what is around you, it could really cost you. And beyond the metaphor, remember to never mix texting and driving since it’s more dangerous than drunk driving. Always be aware of your surroundings and keep your eyes on the road, because in an instant everything could change.



Live Like It’s Always Summer

I’m always sad when summer winds down at the end of August because it’s my favorite season. Even though we technically have the first three weeks of September until the season ends, the back-to-school rush tends to erase the last vestiges of summer. This afternoon we arrived home from the last of summer vacation, having spent a week in New Hampshire and Maine visiting family, and my daughter starts back at school on Monday, with my son’s school following close behind. I’m realizing that I feel the way I feel after returning from a long trip: grateful to be home and missing being away. And like summer, I am always grateful to be embracing a start of a new school year with all the excitement and opportunities it provides, but am already missing the slower pace, the buckets of blueberries and candy-like tomatoes, the fresh lake water and lazy days looking up at clouds.

This year, I’m going to try to live in fall, winter and spring as though it’s summer. I don’t mean wearing shorts in the dead of winter, but instead trying to keep up the more easy-going pace, spending more time outside in nature, and trying to stress less and live more in the present. I plan to take lots of pictures of fall foliage and enjoy apple picking and hay rides and Halloween, and for winter, I want to make more snowmen (women!) and make yummy soups and try cross country skiing, and for spring, I want to plant a garden early that we can enjoy all summer and spend time outside noticing all the colors that are emerging. It’s easy to forget the treasures awaiting us outside when we have a work deadline or a child home sick from school, but that’s in fact when we have to remind ourselves to notice more. As Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” Every year we take our kids to Walden Pond to see where he lived and what he saw, and being in the woods always makes me feel more present.

For those of you are not current clients and still want a chance to get a free 50 minute coaching session, you can still respond to the previous August quizzes, or you can comment on this post with the answers to these questions. (Click on the title of a blog post to comment on that post.)

  1. What is your favorite season and what do you do to really enjoy it?
  2. How will you plan to live your favorite season all year long?
  3. What will you do to make fall this year more relaxed and present?
  4. What is your big goal that you’ve been putting off that would make you so happy to achieve?

To find your world stage, find a way to live the pace and joy of summer all year round. Being calm and present and filled with wonder will make you happier and will allow you to stand out from a world that is often not at peace. And the world so needs people who are happy and at peace.

(The picture above is of me from a few years ago at my daughter’s camp, just celebrating being alive and enjoying summer.)










Do What Matters (Part 2)

The decision I made in 2013, in response to feeling stuck and dealing with unremitting eye pain, was what really changed my life: I was no longer going to listen to others’ voices and instead listen to my own. I started taking risks and caring a lot less about what other people thought:

•I went back to school to get certified as a coach so that I could coach outside the context of voice lessons.
•I started my business called World Stage Coaching, helping women to find their voice and claim their world stage.
•My husband and I pulled our two children out of school for six months while we traveled through Asia and Oceania. My husband did academic research, while I planned and coordinated the trip (including 16 flights!) and home-schooled our kids. I was also able to coach clients while traveling.
•I released my second CD, a jazz recording.

It wasn’t until I took the Live Your Legend Start a Blog Challenge that I began writing consistently and re-found my voice. I had been blogging in my mind long before I started actual blogging, but everything changed when I committed to getting my writing out of my head and into the world.

I started a blog called Your World Stage as an adjunct to my coaching business, World Stage Coaching (, which helps women who are stuck and playing small claim their world stage. When I started writing, I realized I had lost a lot of confidence from listening to the outside world’s voices, but that writing could help me to figure out what I felt and believed.

Here are the 4 Top Ways to Begin to Do Something that Matters, which aligns with the four pillars of Live Your Legend.

BECOME A SELF-EXPERT: I became a detective (figuratively). I looked back at old journals and photo albums to remind myself what I loved and the kind of people whom I needed to surround myself with. I also started recording my dreams to figure out what I was feeling and needing on an unconscious level. Throughout my life, creating and performing music has fed my soul, and yet I realized that in the busyness of my life, I was doing less and less creating. I realized how passionate I was about coaching and how much I loved to write, and that I knew how to rediscover my voice because I had been teaching that to others for years.

DO YOUR IMPOSSIBLE: I reconnected to my greatest joys. I began by committing to traveling more, since I feel most happy and like myself when I’m exploring new places. My husband, who grew up all over the world, and I both realized how important this was for our family. We had traveled a lot before we were parents, but we weren’t sure how traveling would work with kids. We did spend a summer in Japan when the kids were babies, and took them to England and France when they were 7 and 5, but that didn’t feel like enough. Our experience traveling through and living in Hawaii, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and Japan for six months was transformational because we got to teach our children how to be world citizens and break free of constraints we had taken on back home. I also returned to songwriting and started singing more. I recorded a second CD—nine years after my first had been released. I went to coaching school to get certified in coaching, since I loved it and had been doing it for 20 years as a natural outgrowth of my vocal coaching business. I started listening to new music, taking long walks through nature, and doing photography.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PASSIONATE PEOPLE: I looked for a new, positive tribe to support and inspire me, and I learned to say NO a lot. I made notes about the people in my life who made me feel excited and joyful, and noticed who drained me. I made a list of the types of people I wanted to attract as friends, colleagues and clients. I noticed when those types of people showed up and I took the initiative to get to know them. I had felt drained and overscheduled and I realized that if I didn’t get a clear sense of what I wanted to do, other people would decide that for me. I had been trying to be all things to all people and was definitely addicted to pleasing. I started keeping track of how many times I could say “no” to something I didn’t want to do, so that I would have the time and space to say “YES” to me. I realized that the more I said “no” to people and activities that I didn’t want, the more space I was creating for something better.

DO SOMETHING THAT MATTERS: I started blogging and got my writing out into the world. I also committed to growing my business, which helps women who feel lost and disempowered to find their confidence again and re-connnect with their greatest joys. I am committed to helping women find their voice, when they’ve lost it, and claim the world stage that is waiting there for them.

I have come to know who I am and what matters to me and I am doing things that I didn’t think were possible. I do things that scare me, like learning to build a business and getting my voice out into the world, and I am constantly challenging myself to do more. I’m also consciously surrounding myself with people who make me feel alive. Finally, I am asking myself every day how I can make a difference in the lives of my family, my friends, my clients, my audiences, and in the greater world. When a client goes from playing small to living big, I realize that there is now one more person who has found her voice and is sharing her talents with the world.

(For original blog post, go to



Do What Matters (Part 1)

Ever since I was little, I needed to be heard.

I started singing before I even talked, and I was a loud child and rather bossy. I was the child who organized the other neighborhood kids to put on a play. I was the lead in the plays and beat out the boys for student body president and head percussionist. I had the freedom to be who I was.

Until I didn’t.

Then I went through puberty and all of sudden other people decided who I was supposed to be. I needed to be attractive and please others; I was supposed to be high achieving but not make others feel bad about my achievement. And even though I was a performer (I wrote songs and sang them) and had a literal voice, I had no clue what my real voice was.

Throughout my childhood, I was always a strong student, and spent years striving for perfection and high achievement. I learned to follow the crowd, to please, to fit in. I was high school valedictorian, won a lot of awards, and got into Yale University where I planned to take the place by storm.

It never occurred to me that I would have to swim as hard as I could at Yale just to be average and tread water.

I learned that it was going to be a lot harder to stand out in that crowd. I had no idea who I was. The pressure to be outstanding got to be too much. I dropped out my junior year to take time off time to regroup and had to actually interview to get back into Yale the following year. That was humiliating, but I was determined to get through college and graduate.

After I returned, I auditioned for the Whiffenpoofs, a famous and privileged all-male chorus, to make the point that women weren’t being treated equally. I experimented artistically in theatre and music. I started listening to my own voice, but I still kept comparing myself negatively to others.

I learned that I needed to find different metrics to be happy. I was tired of succeeding on others’ terms.

I graduated and became a cliche by moving to New York City to become a singer/songwriter. I worked at a law firm during the day and sung at night. It was even harder to stand out as a performer in the Big Apple. So many of my Yale friends were making tons of money in finance or going to law or medical school. Being a legal assistant by day and a starving artist by night was not exactly impressive.

It was hard and lonely, but it made me feel alive.

Then I fell in love with a guy who was different than anyone I had ever known. He was like a sexy nerd, an intellectual who loved my music and really heard me. My parents were thrilled that he was smart and responsible, but my friends thought that I was selling out by no longer dating artistic men. I married him because I felt safe enough to finally be myself.

After we were married, I started teaching voice lessons to supplement my performing income. I originally thought of teaching voice as a day job to make money. But soon, more and more of my mostly female students started wanting to talk to me about their lives in the context of voice lessons. At first I was surprised; talking seemed unrelated to voice lessons, until I realized that my ad hoc coaching was improving their singing voice and helping these students to get clarity about their lives.

Soon people were coming to me to help them find their voice in a literal and figurative way. I loved the work and was surprised that I had accidentally found what I was passionate about.

We bought a house and had two children and I continued working as a musician and vocal and life coach. And yet, somewhere along the way, after I had kids, I lost myself.

So many people were dictating what I should do and how I should do it, that I lost that strong voice reminding me of who I am and what matters to me. I felt like I was back in junior high, trying to fit in and please others. The more stuck I got, the more I lost contact with my true self.

I tried to deny this was happening. I poured myself into parenting and convinced myself that supporting my husband’s international academic career was more important than remembering what I needed and listening to my voice. With the economic collapse, I lost a core group of students, and others moved on. I started volunteering more and being the perfect wife and mom and forgetting what mattered to me beyond my family. We moved and spent two years renovating. And then I developed crippling eye pain from all the stress, as well as other health issues.

I felt lost and feared that I would never find my voice again.

And then…I made a decision that changed my life and started to turn it all around.

Four years later, I am a different person as a result of that one decision.

Stay tuned next week for that one decision that changed everything…

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