Archive: Newsletter


Before I begin, I want to mention how this newsletter is structured, because I’ve discovered some confusion with some of my readers.  The newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1, but most often is not referenced in part 1 (it offers a different point of view); the third is a quote. I hope this eliminates the confusion, and that you enjoy all three parts.

I want to begin and end today with two quotes from Martha Beck on intimacy. The first is:
Remember, intimacy increases with honesty. Share less to keep people away and more to draw them closer.

It may seem obvious – at least the first part – but so often we end up not saying what’s on our minds. To protect our friend; to protect ourselves; to protect our family. At least, that’s what I say to myself when I hide some part of the truth.  But really, it’s more complicated than that – and much more simple.  It’s complicated because, while I may be protecting someone, I’m also afraid – of ridicule, of making someone upset, of getting hurt.  And that’s the deep-down simple truth of it – because deep down, I’m afraid of getting hurt.

So I hide away, protecting my fragile ego behind politeness, authority, absent-mindedness, distraction – anything that will prevent a possible confrontation. And a possible painful moment. I’m not always like this. For me, it’s when I expect to be ignored or talked down to. For you, it might be a different reason, like feeling rejected, or abandoned, or even manipulated or controlled.  Whatever the reason, most of us avoid being honest at times with people in our lives who don’t deserve it.

It takes courage to be ourselves all the time, and there is a huge payoff: true intimacy.
Here are three things you can do the next time you’re temped to hide behind a front rather than be honest with a loved one:

  • Take a breath and notice how you feel. There’s always a feeling that accompanies our desire to hide.  Mine is a tightness in my chest just below my Adam’s Apple. It tells me that I’m afraid, and I have an urgent desire to protect myself. This is what my fear feels like and I’ve learned to recognize it.
  • Take another breath and take charge.  That part of us that is in fear is very young and, just as with any child, needs reassurance from a responsible adult that they are safe because the adult is with them.  We need our conscious selves – our inner adult – to take charge, knowing that – with rare exceptions – there is nothing actually life-threatening out there. And the only way that can happen with any success is if our inner child feels safe and in good hands.
  • Take a third breath and act. Once our inner child and adult are in sync, we are able to act from a calm, considerate and mature place; from a place of intimacy and empowerment.
Pema Chödrön – Fear and Fearlessness


Quote of the Week
Conflict in close relationships is not only inevitable, it’s essential. Intimacy connects people who are inevitably different. -Martha Beck

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website or contact me directly at

Time enough for courtesy

Imagine this:  You’re standing in line at the bank. These days, because almost everything is done online or at ATM’s, standing in line at the bank can be very long and tedious, because no one stands in line unless they have something complicated to do.  You begin to fidget, thinking about the list of to-do’s for the day that probably won’t get done if you stand there much longer. You’ve been there for what seems like an hour, and finally feel you might reach the teller in another 15 minutes, when someone enters, looking harried, and cuts in front of you.  This person is loaded down with ledger books, cheques and cash bulging from a number of pockets.  Not a quick service.

What do you do?  You might feel shocked and say something like: Excuse me, the end of the line is behind that 10th person! You might feel outraged and simply move in front of them, leaving it to the person behind you to deal with it. Or you might take a breath and have a talk with him or her to discover what’s going on.

I’ve done all three at different times. From my personal experience, only the third alternative leaves me feeling good and at peace.  No matter how rushed I am, not taking time to consider the other person never pays off.

So easy to say – and agree to. So hard to do when we’re rushed. Therefore. I have a challenge for you: next time you’re rushed, no matter what you’re doing or where you are, set your watch and take 10 minutes to do nothing.

Time Passing – Stephen Wilkes


Quote of the Week
Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website or contact me directly at



Angry Woman (and Man)

A friend walked into my living room and had a look on her face that brooked no questions. She wasn’t about to explode; didn’t look like she was about to melt down.  Instead she looked too peaceful, too poised, spoke in a tone that was just a little too reasonable.  I know her, and I knew this meant she was – for the moment – unreachable.

It may be my imagination, but it seems I’m beginning to see this increasingly – in my clients, friends and sometimes in myself. In fact, I noticed this in me a few days ago, and decided to make becoming aware of it part of my morning mantra.

There are a ton of articles on angry women, all of them either praising them or asking why it’s OK for men and not OK for women to be angry.  And maybe that’s what’s happening: in business, anger in a woman is seen as unattractive; like she can’t control her emotions. But because of all the press over this – and the pushback from women in business – women are beginning to express their anger.

This is great! Except when the anger is misdirected – and this is what I’m seeing increasingly – with both men and women.  For instance, my friend was angry at her son because … well … the list is long. She knows her real source of anger is with herself – that she let herself down and ended up taking it out on her son, making her even angrier – but she just can’t seem to stop it.  Then later she feels remorse and an almost driven need to make amends.

I know when I get angry like this: I know it because it doesn’t feel good – it feels filled with garbage.  The pattern for me is my anger actually begins earlier as anxiety or overwhelm. I may look at the list of things I think I need to do with dismay, thinking I’ll never get through it all.  Then I might wonder if I even have it in me to do it, and what was I thinking getting myself involved in this particular project anyway.  Then I’ll really up the anti by musing on what others must be thinking about me and my foolishness.  That’s when some poor sucker pops up and happens to say the wrong thing at the wrong time (which by now could be anything at any time), and I lash out. So, added to my dismay and anger is remorse.

This whole thing happens without much awareness on my part.  Hence my morning reminder: when I build into my day an awareness of what I’m thinking and feeling, and where it all might lead, I can begin to act in a way that brings positive change, rather than negative feelings.

If you find yourself getting angry or carrying it into your day, there are three things you can do to support yourself in a positive way:

  • Be prepared. Bring an awareness into your day about how you’re feeling, especially if it involves fear, anxiety or overwhelm.  Being aware helps you take responsibility for your feelings and the situation you find yourself in.
  • Take care.  If you’re like me, when you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, you’re also extra sensitive.  If so, add an extra dose of self-care, giving yourself space to deal with the emotions that come up, recognizing that you may interpret what others say negatively as a result. Self-care isn’t merely a good thing; it’s essential to living a happy and balanced life.
  • Learn to say No. One essential of self-care is knowing when it’s best to say No!, or at the least, delay responding.  This is, for me, the most powerful thing I can do for myself.  “I’ll get back to you on this” gives you time to get into a better place and respond thoughtfully rather than react emotionally.

Eckhart Tolle has his own way of addressing anger – see the video below.

It’s great to be able to feel and express our anger. Learning to express it “cleanly” with no garbage is well worth the effort.

I’d love to hear what you do, and am certain other readers would like to hear it too.  So I invite you to leave a comment below.

Eckhart Tolle – Expressing Anger

Quote of the Week

I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.
― Simone de Beauvoir


At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website or contact me directly at

Celebrating Success

We hear a lot these days about the person who strives and works hard and finally reaches a place in their lives where success is at their doorstep, only to quit or sabotage their efforts at that crucial moment. We call that fear of success and associate it with not wanting to fail (see Susanne Babbel’s article on this subject in Psychology Today. Some of us secretly expect the worst, and rather than see this happen, we avoid real success.

I thought I was fine with success: I’ve had my moments of failure – lots of them, but I’ve also had some great successes in my life, hard won, that I’m proud of. Then all last week I noticed a deep rumbling inside me – a niggling unease, annoyed at anything that popped up, distracted. I couldn’t pinpoint it. A friend said she noticed this in her clients, so I wondered if it had something to do with the season – air pressure or something. I’ve been working on refreshing my business offerings for a few months now, and getting close to actually implementing them, and it finally struck me – like a large ripe melon breaking over my head – that I was really agitated about the idea of putting this out. The closer I get to actually doing it, the more excuses I come up with to delay it.

I know I’m not the only one out there who has this or a similar fear, so I’m sharing what I’ve done to help me through this.

  • Acknowledge my feelings. Acknowledge my fears around succeeding, knowing that they’re deep.  I’ve discovered that self-care is the best medicine when we hit on something that hurts, and deeply held feelings are no different.  My way of acknowledging my fears is to be with them – sit with my feelings, walk with them.  I may do some journaling but usually not; then after a while I notice my feelings lifting and I know it’s time to move on.
  • Take small steps. Big steps when I’m feeling scared and vulnerable feel like climbing a 100 foot wall. So I break down that wall into smaller ones that I might even leapfrog over. Then I schedule the steps – my way of committing to action. This may not be your way, but whatever it is, it begins with making each step bite-sized.
  • Celebrate every success.  No matter how “small”, because every success is “proof” that I am successfully putting myself out.  These successes include the small steps toward my goal; they also include everything in my life that bring me joy – enjoying a good healthy meal, going on an invigorating walk, spending time in nature, getting a good night’s sleep, and most of all, spending time with my friends.

It takes courage to face our fears, and knowhow.  You may be able to figure it out for yourself, or you may need some help doing it.  I needed help, and never regretted getting it.

Celebrating success feeds my soul. Being stuck in the terror of putting myself out there doesn’t. Knowing this helps me chose to move through the terror.

I’d love to hear what you do, and am certain other readers would like to hear it too.  So I invite you to leave a comment below.

Jane & Lily – doing well in their success

Quote of the Week
You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my or contact me directly at

Time – waits for no one?

I came across the lyrics of the Rolling Stone’s famous song Time waits for no one. The words are haunting and became famous because we can all feel their impact: Time waits for no one, it won’t wait for me.

I feel it; it’s often been a driving force behind my decisions: I was afraid I’d die of boredom; I was afraid I’d be too old too soon; I was afraid I’d miss out on an opportunity that might never show up again.  And so I’d jump in, unprepared and often blind, just so I could close that possibility of missing out on something.

A lot of people do this. In fact, more and more people today are driven by this fear of missing out. Jumping on this or that particular train makes us feel good – at least for the moment: we feel like we’re doing something positive, it’s exciting and energizing. It’s exciting like a roller coaster is exciting: experiencing the fear of diving down into a seeming abyss, feeling the relief when we arrive in one piece shortly after. It feels positive because we feel good doing it – energized and alive.  It’s often called “good stress” and lauded as something that’s a positive influencer in our lives.

However, reality and appearance can sometimes diverge, and I believe that’s true here: humans evolved to have stress in their lives, but occasionally, not every day and all day. When our ancestors needed to hunt a dangerous animal, or protect their home against attack, they were able to instantly summon the clarity, strength and stamina needed to do that.  It no doubt felt good to have a successful hunt and successfully defend their homes – just as it does for us today.  Then there would be a much longer period of rest and recovery, where their systems had a chance to heal and rebuild. In that way, they maintained a balance between restorative and stressful activities.

Today that balance is reversed: we spend most of our time in some kind of stress – in our businesses or careers, raising children on top of that, and keeping up with mortgages and student loans.  We tend to work longer hours than our parents did, and carry a debt load that they didn’t even contemplate.

No matter how you slice it, even if most of the time it feels good, this can’t be good for us.

Eventually, we start to notice physical changes – fatigue, digestive issues for instance, that won’t go away for long. So we eat better, exercise better, maybe spare an hour a week for social activities – and that helps, but not completely. Because we are still wired to “not missing out”.

Time waits for no one, it won’t wait for me.

Not everyone is impacted by this drive. I’m really talking to those who are.  I’ve been one of you, was eventually impacted physically, and had to learn to live a lot differently. The biggest thing I had to learn was to address my fear of missing out.

This is a big topic, and not one easily covered.  But there are a few things you can do for yourself to begin to address this:

  • Awareness of your pattern. Always the first essential step to any worthwhile change: being aware of how we are driven by time provides a benchmark and a starting point.  Notice when you start to rush; when you brush off being with friends and colleagues to relax and socialize; when you dive into something new with little or no consideration.  What’s your particular pattern?
  • Beginning in a positive way. It’s amazingly difficult to take the first 10 minutes of the day and simply sit. In my practice, I discuss this with every client – a few of them are able to incorporate it into their lives – most fail to do so.  Master Time is a very hard task-master, and simply refuses to let us sit calmly with whatever is happening at that moment – even for 10 minutes.  And yet it’s probably the most positive thing we can do for ourselves, and will make a difference to the rest of our day.  So see if you can tolerate even 3 minutes, to start, then build it into 10.
  • Being kind to ourselves. This means no judgments, no comparisons to some idealized view of what should be vs what is, especially within ourselves. Change at this fundamental level takes commitment, courage, and – yes – time.

When chopping onions, just chop onions


Quote of the Week
You can have it all. Just not all at once.
― Oprah Winfrey

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my or contact me directly at

Developing our own voice

How often have you been silent when you really wanted to say something? It might have been on behalf of someone else, but most often it’s on our own behalf when we lose our voice. And it’s mostly women who do this.

Women are taught in many societies to stay in the background; being dominant is seen as unfeminine – Still! – and is, at the least, discouraged.

Or – how often these days have you been admonished to speak up when you really didn’t feel comfortable doing so? Staying silent is seen as a sign of weakness and timidity – and may really be a sign of introversion and consideration.  Sometimes it’s not something you may be interested in enough to speak up.

Either way, there’s judgment from others and ourselves about how we ‘should’ act and respond.

I find my voice in my writing and being with others one-on-one.  I was raised to speak only when spoken to – it’s true – and I didn’t like it.  But my heroes as I grew into adulthood were always the silent types, speaking only when it mattered.  Growing up in my home was chaotic and loud, and my way of retreating from all that noise when I was a teenager was into books, where the good guys weren’t the ones screaming the loudest.
I’m also a therapist, well and thoroughly taught to stay out of the spotlight, allowing my clients to take that place.

Having said this, I know that sometimes it’s simply a convenient ‘go-to’ when I’m nervous about speaking up. When I find myself judging, or feel that others are judging me, then I know I’m quiet when I need to be the reverse.

Speaking up isn’t a rule or an obligation, unless you’re keeping quiet when you’d rather not.  Being authentic is the point.  Even more to the point is that we cheat the world of our voice.

Pat Blumenthal was also raised to be polite and keep her thoughts to herself. Then one day she realized that by doing so, she was missing opportunities to influence outcomes — “to change an opinion, to clear up a misunderstanding, to give support, to challenge an assumption, to keep someone from making a mistake”.
As we keep ourselves from speaking up, it becomes a habit, and our voice begins to fade, even to ourselves.
So speak up when it matters most to you. Here are three things to help you determine when that is (courtesy of Martha Beck :

  • Assess. Honestly assess what’s happening around and inside you. What if you live with someone who never cleans up after themselves.  This person may be your husband, wife, roommate – it doesn’t matter.  You might not care picking up after them, or you might be talking yourself into not caring every day.  If so, then try this: imagine you could summon a ‘wise observer’ who’s able to see things from a disinterested perspective. Ask yourself, what would this observer see and say? It might be that he or she would see something minor that isn’t worth making a fuss over.  Or, the observer might see the roommate or spouse acting like a ‘pig’, leaving their garbage for you to pick up; and inside you there’s a building resentment and fear of what they might do if you suddenly didn’t pick up after them. ‘Seeing’ this way can help us really understand what’s happening. Then, and only then, ask yourself what you want to do.
  • Take action. If you have something to say, then express it as authentically as possible.  If you’ve decided to take some action, then follow through.
  • Wait out the reaction or response. There may be a reaction, especially if the person sees you saying or doing something they aren’t used to.  You may want to bolt, but know that the fit will pass eventually.  So sit it out, and don’t run away.
A note of caution: the above is assuming you aren’t dealing with a physical abuser.  If you are, then protect yourself by physically removing yourself from the space. Otherwise, stick it out, and make your voice count.


A Haircut Taught Cindy Crawford to Speak Up for Herself



Quote of the Week
It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent. – Madeleine Albright

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my or contact me directly at

The dark before the dawn …

“The darkest hour is just before the dawn.” I’m sure you’ve heard and read this all your life.  Where did it originate? Apparently, the first to use it in literature was an English theologian in 1650, but he was probably not the first to use it. We see it a lot, especially in self-help books, journals and workshops, also in literature.

It’s popular because it’s true. We’ve all worked on something important to us, finally reaching a moment of despair, only to have the answer we’d been searching for suddenly materialize.  Or for those of us who have struggled with something in our lives that keeps turning up and blocking us – over and over – until we loose hope of ever turning that around, and then shortly after, we find the answer, and then change happens. The feeling of new discovery after such bleakness is indescribable.

Uri Alon in his Ted Talk on Why science demands a leap into the unknown  describes what he discovered as a PhD candidate:  he was in the middle of writing his thesis, and found that all his assumptions were incorrect, everything he tried led nowhere; he lost all sense of direction, felt unworthy, that he couldn’t be a scientist.  He didn’t end up quitting, and eventually made it through with the help of his friends and colleagues, ending up discovered something completely new that proved to be the key point of his thesis.  Afterwards he remembered feeling an amazing sense of calmness – the reward for hanging in there and waiting for the magic to happen.

Then, a few years later, it happened again – he was working away and getting nowhere, final ready to throw it in, and that’s when he made another new discovery.  Then, he began to hear from other researchers that they’d had similar experiences. As it happens, Uri is a man of many talents and passions, and one of these is as an improv actor.  If you know about improv, then you know that it’s about getting up on stage with no clue about what’s going to be handed to you; and whatever is handed you, it’s up to you to make something of it, regardless of the consequences.  When he was learning to be one, he was told exactly what was going to happen: that he would get on stage, having no idea what would happen, and that he would get stuck and fail miserably! The whole experience was to learn how to be creative in that stuck place.

This improv approach is exactly, he realized, what he wanted to nurture in himself, his colleagues and his students.  We all assume that if we have a question A – and want to reach the answer – B (whatever that may be), we do our experiments or take action, and eventually – pretty directly – get to B.  But in fact, it’s never a straight line to the answer.  Instead, we try, fail, try again, and keep going around and around in seemingly endless circles until we are stuck.  He calls this the Cloud. We can be lost in this cloud for a short or long period, but one thing is certain – we will end up in that cloud.  It’s because this cloud stands at the boundary between the known and the unknown.  If we continue to explore the problem inside the cloud, then eventually we might notice something new coming out of the cloud that relates to A, but not to B.  This is something we weren’t looking for or expecting -C.

What he came to realize is that in order to discover something truly new, we must change at least one of the basic assumptions we’re making. B is some thing or experience we know something about at the beginning, but C is brand new. Hanging onto our assumptions will drive us around in circles forever.

The cloud is therefore unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean such deep and dark despair is.  Again Uri went to his work in improv: In improv, the actors learn to always say “Yes, and …” to any challenge. They’ve discovered that saying “Yes, and” bypasses the inner critic and often brings us to the brand new answer – without going first to a place of despair and hopelessness. (It may be a place of temporary high anxiety, but not hopelessness.)

Saying “Yes, and” is a way of changing direction deliberately with hope and curiosity replacing inner resistance and ultimately hopelessness.  Sherwin Nuland in his Ted Talk on the extraordinary in ordinary people, talked about hope.  He discovered that the concept of hope is based on the Indo-European root – keu – which is the same root that ‘cure’ comes from; and it means going in a different way. Hope is about looking in new directions that we hadn’t previously guessed or expected.

Growing, learning something new, discovering new pathways, all require change in us, and change requires changing directions. If you think you know where you’re going, you’re not going in the right direction. The process of change means we will end up in the cloud – that boundary between the known and the unknown, and when we do, we can either approach it in resistance and despair, or in the hopefulness of “Yes, and”.  Pema Chödrön might add: Be more like a river than a rock.

Pema Chödrön – How to let go and accept change


Quote of the Week

Hope does not consist of the expectation that things will come out exactly right, but the expectation that they will make sense regardless of how they come out. – Vaklav Havel, Breaking the Peace


At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my or contact me directly at


Unrealistic Expectations?

I was inspired to write this after watching a past episode of Marie TV where she talked about times when we are told our dreams are “too big”. I’ve been a dreamer all my life. This worried my mother, who’s one constant refrain to me was “Come down to Earth!”. I know she was worried I’d be disappointed, but her worry created in me self-doubt.

At times, my dreams and expectations are, indeed, unrealistic. Those times always begin with incorrect assumptions on my part that I haven’t verified – often haven’t even considered. For example, as a kid, I spent one full summer turning the clay of the Alberta prairies into bowls and pots, sun baked and water-colored.  My brother and I worked in tandem – he spent his days digging tunnels, creating a maze of ‘forts”, and I gladly re-purposed his leftover clay.  Unknown to either of us – because we hadn’t considered it – was the inherent crumbliness of clay: his tunnels and forts could only work if confined to a relatively small area, being, in fact, shored up by the rest of the field.  We also didn’t consider the hundreds of Prairie Dogs, who habitually dug through constructed clay walls, weakening the structure.  So, if you haven’t guessed by now, the entire infrastructure collapsed one day – fortunately with no one inside.  And that was the end of that enterprise. A little forethought could have saved us a lot.

That was a fun experience, and I remember it that way (kids would not likely have a chance of doing something like that these days).  But other more recent ones weren’t fun – like the time I misjudged a contractor because I thought he came recommended but discovered – too late – that the person who referred him had been paid to do so.  My focus had been on what I wanted and what I was going to do with it, and it blinded me to the incorrect or incomplete assumptions I made going in, and upon which everything else was based. Those kinds of experiences made me doubt myself – maybe I’d bitten off more than I could chew; maybe I was indeed dreaming too big. But the truth is that I wasn’t dreaming too big; the truth was that I didn’t actually have enough trust in myself, and relied on others when it wasn’t justified.  Until I learnt that lesson, I kept spoiling my own dreams.  One friend called this jumping in without looking.

That’s what I did.  That isn’t the only way you can feed self-doubt. Another way is to listen to the nay-sayers that are going to be around whenever you dream big.

The best way to learn to trust yourself is to reality-check your dreams and assumptions. Marie suggests 5 very practical steps to do this:

  1. Frame your dream or expectation. Write it down, because the simple act of writing it down means that you are 40% more likely to achieve it.
  2. Fend off negativity.  Take responsibility for the energy you allow in your life; often we focus on one negative voice instead of the many positive ones.  Allow positive reinforcement, throwing out that one toxic negative voice among the many.  The only opinions that matter are from those who know us, who we admire, and who’ve been where we’re going.
  3. Flood yourself with positive, inspiring examples.  There are so many people who have achieved their dreams, and for most people around them, their dreams were “impossible”.
  4. Fast forward. And listen to that elder you’ll become some day. One big regret of people who are on their deathbed is that they didn’t live the life that was true to themselves but instead lived the life others expected of them.
  5. Focus on action.  The action step is the step that will move you past fear and into your dreams.
  6. And I’ll add one more: check your assumptions. Write them down and then verify them. You might save yourself much heartache, and instead ensure the fruition of your dream.

Dreaming, especially dreaming big, doesn’t mean you’re head’s in the clouds, but it does mean you need to make sure you can make them real, and for that learning to trust yourself and base your actions on solid ground is essential.

Dare to dream – Diana Nyad


 Quote of the Week
Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.― Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my or contact me directly at

Getting started … then finishing

If there are two things that cause us the most trouble and inner anguish in our daily lives, its either getting started or finishing something.  We may be someone who has trouble starting, finishing, or both. My father notoriously didn’t finish things – we lived in a house with a half-finished basement, with a back yard that was almost finished. Sometimes, he would actually finish what he started, but only after years of delay, distractions, and becoming blind to it’s presence, and finally getting a real, serious, threatening ultimatum. And part of the reason he never finished anything was because he’d wait till the last minute to begin, work like a demon last minute, wear himself out, finally make some mistake, then stop, get discouraged, and leave it for a very long time, if not forever. I found it endlessly aggravating, so – naturally – that was one thing I vowed I’d never do.

Procrastinators, according to Tim Urban (see the Ted Talk below), have a really hard time doing anything that has long-term benefits if it doesn’t also have the short-term benefit of instant gratification. When faced with work that looks scary and labor-intensive, the procrastinator will almost always go for relief into something that gives them a momentary pleasure.

He calls the place procrastinators go The Dark Playground. The only way procrastinators seem to be able to get going, get started, and then finish, is if a deadline is looming and panic sets in. This is a problem, and shortens lives eventually.  But what’s even worse is when there is no deadline, because then even if things get started, they rarely get finished. Unfinished and unstarted things begin to pile up, resulting for the procrastinator in frustration, depression, and feeling like they are merely spectators in their own lives.

Marie Forleo  discusses this problem for those of us who are self-starters in our own businesses.  As self-starters, procrastination will kill whatever it is we are striving for faster than pretty much anything else.  Deadlines don’t work because there’s too much riding on them – if anything is delayed or ignored, it’s likely going to stop everything, leading to missed obligations, broken promises and lost opportunities.

Her answer? Start before you’re ready.

If you’re a procrastinator, you might delay starting because you don’t feel you’re ready, or that you need to get it right. This need isn’t actually real, because in truth, we are never really ready to start something and be sure we won’t miss something or make it perfect the first time.  We all learn by trial and error, and that means the first time we do something is really necessary and unavoidable practice for the next time we do it again. If you never get started on the fist iteration, you’ll never get to perfection.

So the next time you’re faced with something that feels daunting, and begin to feel the tug of instant gratification, make a deal with that part of you who would rather play – satisfy him or her in some way – then get to it.  Start before you’re ready!

Tim Urban: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator


Quote of the Week

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.
Pablo Picasso
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my website or contact me directly at



When we Fail …

One thing I hear daily in my practice is that people feel like failures; they feel deflated and disheartened that their efforts to find a better way of living don’t seem to be making life easier or better. They find themselves falling into familiar patterns that they know don’t work. I’ve been there too, in both my business and personal life: I’ve made mistakes, losing relationships and opportunities.  When that happens, it hurts and its hard for me to stay positive.

Cherly Strayed talks about the importance of failure for personal growth in her book Brave Enough. She believes that our failures contribute to our successes because they teach us to be humble. In fact, she believes that being humble is the key.

Confucius called humility the foundation of all other virtues. Humility equates to modesty.  It can be a negative value if we don’t think much of ourselves – then it isn’t really humility we feel, but self-hatred; it can also be a powerfully positive value that makes it possible for us to see ourselves as we truly are, because when we’re humble, we don’t fear the truth.

Huffington Post describes 7 habits of the truly humble. Because the truly humble are free of pretense, their focus is on others in a truly compassionate way; they tend to have a realistic view of themselves and others, and as a result do not have unrealistic expectations that are doomed to failure and disappointment.  Hence, they have a positive outlook on life, and build strong relationships with others.

And so, when Cheryl Strayed says she believes that humility is the key, she includes learning from failure.  Failure is about learning the hard way, and sometimes, especially if we venture into unknown territory, this is the only way to learn and grow. Sometimes we do drive down dead-end roads in life, but that doesn’t mean we get stuck there. And when we turn around and get back to the fork in the road where we first got off track, we come with the knowledge of what doesn’t work, eliminating at least one possibility and saving ourselves much grief the next time around.

Cheryl shares some wisdom she received from her mother, and I pass it on to you: ‘Nobody’s going to do your life for you. You have to do it yourself, whether you’re rich or poor, out of money or raking it in, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice. And you have to do it no matter what is true. No matter what is hard. No matter what unjust, sad, sucky things have befallen you. Self-pity is a dead-end road. You make the choice to drive down it. It’s up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out.”  – Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough

Her mother called this “Putting yourself in the way of beauty”. We can choose to either focus on our disappointments, or on what’s beautiful. We can focus on our imperfections, or on what we learned.

Journey from Hero to Humility – Christine Gibson

Quote of the Week

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.
― Ernest Hemingway


At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations.  For more information, visit my website or contact me directly at