Charlotte Smith was a lawyer – or solicitor as they say in the UK – and she realized her job was no longer aligned with her core values. Feeling burned out, miserable and unhappy, change was needed. She made a pivot, to coaching, and now helps people intentionally design their life so they are happier, more productive and overall better people.
Here’s her advice on how you can start doing Life Design on your own during quarantine.
Here’s how to use the Wheel of Life. Charlotte explains how she uses the tool with her clients and it’s something you can do on your own. It’s a good time to plan. Use now to design the life you want tomorrow.
Heidi Koronkowski completed her Behavioral Coach Training at Anxiety Treatment Services with Dr. Dufford, Clinical Psychologist and Mary Szeles, Behavioral Coach. She also draws on her personal experience in overcoming severe panic and agoraphobia. Her goal is to provide context-sensitive coaching aimed at helping people live symptom-free.
Heidi suffered with anxiety, panic and phobias for over 15 years. After finding limited success through talk therapy and medication, she had a severe relapse and realized she needed to find a different kind of help. Dr. Dufford’s Anxiety Treatment Services relies on cognitive-behavioral tools and techniques that change the thought processes that fuel the anxiety. As a result, she has truly found freedom from anxiety, panic and agoraphobia.
Today, on the show, Heidi shared a list of what you can do to help lower your anxiety. Here are her tips:
Set limits on information.
Limit how much you watch or read about the virus. In fact, moderate your intake of news in general including politics, the economy and all the information being shared right now. Try to consume it no more than one or two times a day. By constantly feeding your brain information about these scary events that are generally not in our control, your reinforcing a fight or flight response. To stay mentally healthy, we need to normalize our lives as much as we can.
Engage in the here and now.
Meditation lowers anxiety – here’s a great app that has guided mediations at no cost. Going out into nature works like meditation. If you can’t leave the house open a window. Hear the sounds, smell the air. Use all five of your senses. Go barefoot and let your feet feel the ground. Smell the flowers. Touch the leaves.
Hopefully you can shelter safely. Now appreciate that. In fact, consider how many times you’ve said you wish you had a day at home. Take time to do projects or nap or watch a movie. Spend time with family.
Knitting, crocheting, painting, writing, baking are all great for helping anxiety. The key is to do something that feels productive and is tactile – using your hands and your body to create something engages your brain in healthy ways.
Sex releases dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin, which can boost your mood. There are six positions that are linked to relieving anxiety. Just remember, you have to decide if you want to end up with a baby in nine months – so be careful!
Tap your higher power.
Spirituality, however you define that, has been shown to reduce anxiety. It delivers hope, you’re taking positive action and you’re connecting to others energetically.
Finally, remember to connect with others. Check on your friends and family. Listen to them talk to make sure they’re doing okay.
Know that you are not alone. We are all in this together.
Ron Johnson spent more than four years as a personal trainer in San Jose. He loves his career helping his clients become fit and confident. Ron believes our bodies are such an essential part of our well-being, our personas, and how we are seen in the world – he understands the mind body connection. He realized working on his own body, that real transformation was possible.
Ron believes to experience equanimity and well-being, it takes more than just changing one’s physical strength. It is also takes understanding of how we feel within ourselves. This awareness has led Ron to expand his life’s work and integrate life coaching with personal training. He is determined to help his clients live a more well-rounded life.
Update: If you look closely at Ron’s podcast, you’ll find an interesting one with me! I spoke with Ron and Gloria on Life’s a Shuffle about insecurity and confidence. It was an amazing discussion.
This is about you and how you can manage your energy. It sounds super woo-woo, but it’s not intended to. It’s intended to help you make conscious decisions about the way you feel and how you choose to take in information and manage it. As an energy coach, typically if I was coaching, I would be talking to you about what it is that you’re dealing with right now. It’s very different from therapy, coaching is more action oriented.
I coached someone this morning about when it might be a good time for them to go visit their parents in light of the virus. That’s something a lot of people are struggling with. What are the conditions that would be optimum for visiting your parents? That’s just an example – we would go through all the issues, roadblocks, feelings and you would decide on a plan that works best for you. That’s how coaching works.
The goal of energy awareness is increased consciousness.
Many of you have already said, oh, my gosh, there she goes. But the thing is, it’s really important. Consciousness just means you’re mindful and you are aware of the decisions you’re making at any point in time. If you have energy awareness as well, you’re able to then decide how you want to react: negatively or positively. You can manage how you feel about things.
I had a friend last week who made a mistake at work and when I talked to her, she was beating herself up over this mistake. Finally I said, “You just need to accept the mistake. It happened. The world isn’t going to end. You’re not a bad person. You didn’t intend to make that mistake. But beating yourself up is just dragging you down. There is no point to sit in that kind of muck right now.”
Embrace the mistake. Own it and move on.
That’s the idea of being mindful, know what’s going on in your head. Being aware of your energy allows you to shift it so that you will do better and feel better. Imagine the power of that kind of self-awareness. It will make a huge difference in the days to come. It also can make a huge difference on the people that you know and love.
The Butterfly Effect
This physics concept broadly says what happens in one place can affect something somewhere else. The real concept is more complicated. For our purposes, the notion is that what you take has an effect on others – case in point, social distancing. We stay home, we flatten the curve, more people survive. This works the same with energy.
When you make that phone call, face time, whatever it is to check on the people you love. That energy matters. That’s a connection. You can shift the energy of somebody who’s feeling lonely or down. You could shift their energy to being more positive and having a more positive outlook. It sounds trite and I don’t mean to sound trite. But what I’m saying is what you put out there can affect other people. That’s the most important part here.
If you are aware of your energy and you’re paying attention to it and being mindful, managing your energy can deliver a sense of well-being. This is so important in managing your body’s response to stress, your body’s response to sickness and being isolated.
Two kinds of energy – catabolic and anabolic.
Catabolic energy is typically unproductive and anabolic energy is typically productive. They work together in flux. They move through us throughout the day. And sometimes the unproductive energy really does have a productive purpose.
Imagine being at the bottom of a cave, at the bottom of a hole. All you can see is the light at the top and the walls surrounding you that are nearly impossible to scale. In fact, it feels impossible. You might feel helpless. You might feel like a victim; like there’s just no way out of this deep, deep hole. That is how catabolic energy feels. You can also experience it as anger or rage or the need to fight.
If you do feel the fight, it’s the bad kind of fight; a win lose kind of fight like you want to kill them or you want to get even. They’re going to pay. Those are the kind of thought you might have. These are the kind of thoughts you have if you’re exhibiting really catabolic energy. And it’s the kind of energy you’re much more likely to have in a stressful situation. Like if your sheltering from a virus that we don’t know when will end.
The idea of being cut off from the people we care about, being cut off from our patterns and behaviors; from shopping and eating the kind of foods that we love, that can really create some catabolic energy. You’re at the bottom of a deep, deep pit. The bad news is, if you’re at the bottom of the pit, it’s really hard to know what your options are because it feels like your choices are limited.
Now imagine you climbed out of that hole and you’re up on top.
Now you can see the possibilities. You can tell what the weather is going to be because you just don’t see sky but you see the horizon, in all directions. You can see where other people are that could help you if you lost. You would know where to get help. As you can see, you’ve gotten yourself out of that unproductive energy. It’s a metaphor, but it’s a really powerful one because not only does this help you, but this metaphor can help you empathize when you want to help others.
If you can imagine and have the empathy to understand somebody in a catabolic state; stuck in a pit. Imagine your ability to empathize and to provide productive support knowing that they can’t see the possibilities and you rattling them off is not helpful. By the way, just being there with them in that place of being stuck is ok for right now. What you’ll eventually want to do is move them to where they start to fight and then ideally move them to anabolic energy. But you can’t just command them to be there with you.
Anabolic energy is the productive kind of energy.
If you can imagine, there’s this crossover point where you go from wanting to fight someone to letting go of the fight and moving to a place of almost productive complacency. It’s a kind of anabolic energy that we use a lot to cope in life. It’s the energy that allows you to deal with going to the store and getting the kids to school or attending another meeting at work.
You don’t love it, but you don’t hate it. You get it. It’s important. It’s the thing you’re supposed to be doing. It’s a complacent level of energy that is still productive. You might get down a little and dip into catabolic energy, but typically, you can use it to bounce back up. This is the go-along-to-get-along kind of energy. In coaching, this is the first of four levels of anabolic energy.
As you move up the energy ladder, you move from calm to inspired.
The higher you go, the more you are able to detach from judgment, detach from the here and now and start thinking about what is possible. Now be warned, if you’re really high in your energy and you talk to somebody who’s really low and catabolic, they might hurt you. That’s not a good way to share your energy. Instead, calibrate your energy to meet other people where they are and then work together to lift out.
Think about your anabolic energy. Think about the things that happen when you’re in the flow, when you feel really good, when you feel helpful. Help being helpful is very anabolic. Being willing to brainstorm and think of new ideas is very anabolic. Being able to detach from the here and now and think about “what if”, is incredibly anabolic. These are the kind of things that will motivate you and inspire you.
Even if we’re stuck at home or our world is somewhat limited, ideally, with anabolic energy, the possibilities are endless. And that’s basically the highest level of anabolic energy. It means you’re able to come into the situation, whatever it might be. Let go of all the parameters or rules, judgments, all the things that typically constrain how we think about something.
Let go of those things and just think, what if.
This is a common coaching practice where we listen to our clients talk and they have all the rules about why something can happen. My partner is not interested. My kids don’t want to play or the car is not working. We don’t have the money. Those are all constraints that can limit your ideas. In coaching, we work with you to let go of those constraints.
And that’s what I’m suggesting here. Let go of all the constraints and all your limiting beliefs. Think about what might be the perfect situation or what you could have if you could have everything you wanted? What would that require? Some of these constraints that you’re currently saddling yourself with may fall away.
I coach the other person this morning was talking about safe ways to get out of the house with the kids. OK, now is not the time to get out of the house. And yet maybe there’s still a way – maybe a car trip. You’d have to pack your food, ok. That way you don’t have any contamination vectors. You’re going to tell the kids the rules are you’re not getting the car. But you could go see some things you haven’t seen before, especially with fewer people. The trick here is to let go of some of the constraints – like don’t leave your home, don’t spread the virus. Oh, and please don’t get in a car accident. But new ideas come when you let go of the rules so you can find a way to meet the need that you may not have thought of before.
That’s the idea of anabolic energy. And that’s why it delivers endless possibilities as long as you’re willing to let go of rules that are holding you back. Or more importantly, the beliefs that you have that are holding you back. This is a big win for me because I feel like the power of energy coaching is helping you have the skills to help others. And I’ve talked about this on my other podcast before. There’s a great example I us and I made a video about it! Here it is.
What’s your idea or tell me more works.
By asking and listening, you just shifted the energy. You didn’t go catabolic, which was maybe your gut reaction at first to resist. And you’ve uncovered more information that’s going to make you both happier.
The outcome to any struggle isn’t limited to one.
We tend to limit ourselves right up front. Instead, let your thoughts go. Catabolic energy can be very productive that way, much like that wave in an ocean that tumbles and tumbles. Sometimes you’re on top. Sometimes you’re down below. Sometimes you’re in the green room when you get to just surf your way to heaven. Just know that energy moves all the time. But the more you are mindful and can be aware of how you’re feeling or how someone else is feeling, the more effective you’ll be at having more life satisfaction – for you and those you care about.
Ever wonder why you get stuck sometimes? Do you struggle to find the darn silver lining when things aren’t going well? Do you know you’re capable of more, but you have no idea how to get things moving?
The Energy Leadership Index (ELI) can help you learn why.
The good news is you’re not alone. We all experience these feelings and blocks, and we all have different strategies for attacking them. Lord knows it’s happened to me, and now that I have a paradigm for understanding what is going on, I’m better able to shift my energy and deal with things from a more positive, more open point of view.
Manifesting change doesn’t have to be complicated.
The power of the Energy Leadership Index (ELI) assessment is what it reveals about you. Research shows the higher a person’s E-Factor (E for energy), the more life satisfaction a person experiences (read the study). The assessment determines your E-Factor and then provides insight into what is supporting or not supporting that number.
The assessment evaluates how you “show up” in the world when you’re in the zone and when you’re experiencing stress. It measures the core energy you tap to manage yourself throughout the day.
Core energy draws from six dimensions of human experience: spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, social, and environmental—each of which may support or obstruct the flow of energy through our bodies and minds at any given moment. Read more.
When you take the assessment, you’ll discover how you’re coping, leading, and managing yourself as you move through the day. Together, we’ll develop your path for personal development to increase your life satisfaction.
An ELI assessment provides meaningful insight.
The ELI assessment is a valuable component of an effective coaching relationship, and I like to start here for anyone who wants to understand themselves and their energy. I am committed to providing enough information to allow you to pursue self-development on your own. If you’d like to continue with coaching, I’d be privileged to be your coach.
I conduct the assessment throughout four one-hour appointments. The cost is $500. That cost covers my time, analysis, a report, and the pass-through cost of the test (provided via IPEC).
Schedule an assessment today by calling or texting me at 831.239.6496. Have questions, shoot me a message. I look forward to working with you.
OMG it took everything I had to get myself out the door to visit Bill and Kimberly Harticon and their family on Sunday. I was so depressed and so just dead inside and I didn’t want to be with people. I could barely move myself forward. But I knew I had to go. As it turns out sitting on the beach with their wonderful family was just the right medicine but I cannot emphasize enough how hard it was to get out that door.
The detox from court this week proved to be more thanI expected. There’s always a little ripple in my existence after spending time in Sacramento, but for some reason this time really triggered me. Maybe it’s because I wrote the lie-detector blogs. Maybe it’s because I took Katie with me. Or maybe spending time with more survivors ended up making things even more real for me – but I had one of the worst nightmares ever early Saturday morning. The kind that drops a shadow over you and lasts all day. In fact, so bad that when I walked back into my bedroom on Saturday night, I didn’t want to go to bed!
I slept like crap both Friday and Saturday nights and moved to the couch early Sunday morning because I could not shake off the crazy thoughts. With two kittens, the minute the sun comes up, they start moving and it was only their parkour insanity that distracted me enough for a few hours sleep on Sunday morning (if you watch that link, the guys from The Office absolutely replicate what is happening in my house with these kittens). I really wanted to go see Bill and Kimberly and the kids, but how in the world would I do it? Thankfully, I managed to get myself to New Brighton beach and spent a lovely afternoon with them and their family (amazing kids bytheway). It was the therapy I needed.
People ask: would I benefit from therapy and how?
As I have moved through this space called post-arrest, I’ve received a lot of questions about how or why someone might want to get therapy. Since I’m from the land of fruit and nuts (California), you know I’ve been to therapy. Let me see if I can answer this in a way that’s helpful and also provides a way for you to “shop” for the help you might need.
It’s not easy to find the right person.
This is freaking true. I think I saw as many as six people before I found the right person for me. As far as I was concerned, the right person had to be smart and have an outstanding bullshit detector. That’s because my denial was so strong, I didn’t even realize it was in my way for like two years. In fact I remember the shift on the day I quit fighting the process and finally let go. I’m not sure what the secret is to finding the right person, but if you feel like you could go back (even if you hated it) you’re probably on the right track.
The process is only as good as you want it to be.
Think about it. All a therapist knows is what you tell them. If you aren’t forthcoming (and even have in your mind what you want to change), it’s going to be rough going. For me, I wanted to get my shit together so I’d be a good parent. I really struggled to love myself and I knew if I couldn’t love me, it would be hard to love a kid in a healthy way. It can be the simplest statement: I’m tired of being afraid; I want people to take me seriously; I have unexplained rage; I don’t seem to exist; I do all the emotional work for my whole family. You get the idea. Figure out how to state your pain and state it. The work comes from being honest about why that pain exists. And it is work.
You don’t have to go it alone.
A lot of the benefits I gained from therapy were done in “group”. There were about seven of us and we’d agree to meet as a group – with our therapist – for about a year. The session was about to hours long and each person got a chance to talk every week. The upside of group therapy is that you don’t have to do all the work. I often benefited from someone else’s work just by watching and listening. I really liked group and I think it’s actually a little faster than individual therapy. Individual usually lasts about 50 minutes and in my experience, it takes a good 20 minutes to start getting productive. But it’s private and personal and better if you need to talk about something you simply can’t do in front of anyone else.
It should have homework.
Change won’t happen just because you want it to. Homework is critical. A good therapist will usually give you assignments that can help you observe your own behavior, try new behaviors or even stop yourself from doing bad behaviors (like exercises to slow down anxiety or putting a serving of food in a bowl if binge eating is your thing). It doesn’t have to be big or hard but it does help create change. If you aren’t getting homework, ask for some. At a minimum, Dr. Jen will tell you to journal.
You’ll need a refractory period after your session.
When I went to group, it was on a Thursday. Thankfully I would go home to Seinfeld, Fraiser and ER. I would not take phone calls. I had a Diet Coke and popcorn for dinner and I would just decompress. The last thing you’ll want is people yapping at you – or even worse – asking “how was therapy?”. I hate those people. It’s none-ya, as in none of your business! I strong recommend sharing insights after some contemplation. You discovered your insight when you were vulnerable. Others don’t know what it took for you to figure things out. Sharing without context or the space for conversation could undermine your progress. Pace yourself and tell nosy-Nellie’s to go away.
Therapy has gimmicks that work.
Some of the gimmicks used on me with good results: confrontation. This one is classic because it’s simply a “I call bullshit” moment. As you peel back the layers of the onion on this one, denial is typically called out and defenses can start being chipped away. Another is reframing. This was huge for me. When I thought I was so awful people said I killed my dad, it wasn’t until it was reframed for me that I let myself off the hook. My dad treated me so badly I would have had justification to be that angry (not kill him but be that mad at him). Reframing is powerful and you can use it to help your friends. All you have to do is put the problem in a different light. Suddenly it’s easier to understand and process. One more is compassion. This isn’t about someone having it for you, it’s about having it for yourself. Easing up on the negative self-talk and unrealistic expectations that are working like a trap to keep you from moving forward. There are many more techniques used during therapy, I’m sure the internets can tell you about them. The point is, a good therapist will use them and you will make progress as a result.
It takes time.
I took roughly seven years. I could have done it way faster but I fought it for at least two. Then, after my pivot, I kind of loved it. I ended up working on things I didn’t expect to and it helped me a lot at work as well. How long it takes is really up to you. My main point is, don’t let time be a deciding factor. If it’s about money, figure that out with the therapist. You can establish a progress plan and remove money as a worry.
It’s totally worth it.
I am a believer. The process works. The benefits include reducing depression, anxiety, self-doubt, learning about boundaries (where you begin and end), and learning coping strategies that can last a lifetime. I’m happy to answer questions if you leave a comment. I know getting help can seem scary and expensive, but the investment is worth it. And you’ll find once you’re feeling like you’ve got things figured out, you’ll make a much better friend and supporter for others because you’ll be able to practice what you’ve learned.
As for me. The sunshine helped. Telling Bill and Kim I was struggling helped a lot. I didn’t even have to go into specifics. Being reassured they had zero expectations of me helped me feel safe. Spending time with the kids made me feel relaxed. Knowing I could manage to push through when I wanted to quit, helped me get a good night’s sleep and today has been 100% better.
Had anyone at a Buckhorn Grill looked our way, they would have seen a group of women, whooping it up, sharing laughter and a meal and singing happy birthday. What a wonderful group of women exhibiting a level of resilience that I believe, belongs to women. No matter what, most women know how to “soldier on”. We might be battered, bruised, traumatized and exhausted, but for many of us, we keep going. I mean this in the best possible way.
For all the good men out there, please forgive me, in advance, for generalizing. I’m gonna do it. I can’t help myself. Women freaking rock.
I started tonight writing about court, but I couldn’t stay focused. That’s because today was amazing – but not because of what happened in court. It’s because of what happened outside of court. It started at the corner of H Street and 7th in downtown Sacramento. That’s where Victim Services has us meet to walk over to the jail where our courtroom is located. I didn’t realize we’d all be there! It was amazing!
One after another, survivors started showing up just a bit after 8am (we had a couple wonderful men who joined us, don’t want to leave them out). I hadn’t met some of the women because I wasn’t in court for the initial arraignment. Others, I had met two weeks ago at the hearing that ended up being continued to today. There were smiles and hugs and introductions. Damn! This was a squad and we were heading to court to show that man we were not going to back down. It’s our turn now and he’s OUR bitch.
A recess allowed us to head out for coffee.
The judge switched to an “in camera” session – which means “in chamber” but really it was in the courtroom with lawyers only. Like a closed session of a board meeting. He said to come back at noon, so we were off to hang. As we walked away, a reporter was following us. I dropped back and asked him to let us be right now and we’d be happy to talk after the hearing was over. He graciously respected our request and off we went. In private.
We hid in a local cafe and had the most wonderful chance to talk. We were all over the place in our conversations, but it was interesting, funny and bittersweet. The women know I blog but I assured them, our conversations are private and not for blogging. As the time passed, we realized we needed to head back. We joined the media back in the hallway that holds us all as we wait for court to resume. Then we got the message, court wouldn’t restart until 2:15! OMG! We had time for lunch.
How many survivors can fit into a hybrid Accord?
Turns out five (plus driver). We were walking to a local eating joint when Dea pulled up and said, “Hey, wanna go to lunch?!”
Several of us knew Dea, a reporter from ABC, and she has a very good reputation among us. With the caveat that everything we’d say would be off the record, Dea took us over to the Buckhorn Grill. We were like a carload of college women – complete with lots of giggling and the discomfort that comes from jamming bodies into a car. Which is to say, it was awesome.
Turns out it is Dea’s birthday, so we had a reason to celebrate.
And now the part that I must share but I won’t attribute a word. We actually were the table of women discussing the one thing I think mean fear: penis size! Can you even imagine being the most notorious serial rapist and killer in America and the one thing that every victim knows, is that you have a small peen? After studying his hands today, I can only imagine.
What a wonderful day.
Courtroom machinations aside, this was an incredible day. It’s probably why I’m so fried tonight. I realize stepping out into the light might not work for everyone, but I personally believe it can be healing. Everyone is on their own journey. Everyone has their own process. But the community we had today was worth the heat, the standing around waiting and the challenge I have to remember names. While many couldn’t be at court today, we held you in our hearts. You were there in spirit. We represented.
At some point we will need to have a spiritual reunion. One woman spoke of a dream that she had the night DeAngelo was caught. At the end of the nightmare, she saw all the victims coming together in joyous celebration. What a wonderful vision.