Video Tip: Mental Prep for Christmas Week

“It’s just another day.”

Christmas Week is coming and for many, that means there’s a certain dread in the air. While we want to see our family, it’s maybe not the easiest thing to do. If you’re alone, you might feel like you’re missing out. Instead of letting all the magical tropes get you down, consider this: you can’t make others feel happy, you can only control how you feel and if you lower your expectations, you’re likely to get through it with your psyche intact. And most importantly, remember, with a few exceptions, most people don’t intend to make you miserable. With that, you just have to get through a few days and life will get back to normal.

[And special note: I started cracking up in the video because my darn hat kept wanting to fall off!]

How it works

What: Ease-up, relax, be mindful and watch what others are doing.

When: Grab this mindset when you feel like your anxiety is increasing or you find you want to dump mashed potatoes with gravy over someone’s head. Examples: 

  • When a reasonable question provokes the crap outta you. You don’t owe them an answer but they don’t mean harm, so simply change the subject. “Do I have a boyfriend, you’re so funny. What’s your golf handicap these days?”
  • When your mom (insert any family member here) humiliates you in front of someone. “Mom’s so funny. Don’t tell her I still wet the bed after too much wine.”
  • When you’re alone and convinced everyone else is having a magical time full of love, warmth, good food and presents. “That’s a damn myth, and today is just another day and I’m just where I’m supposed to be right now.” I don’t mean this to be condescending. Instead I mean accept you’re doing what you need to be doing for yourself right now. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Not during Christmas Week.

Benefit: You may have a less stressful, more delightful day based on your values rather than everyone else’s (including those imaginary values promoted by our culture).

If you use this tip – let me know how it works! Hit me up on social media or leave a comment here. And if you like this content, subscribe on YouTube and share with your friends. Thank you.

Video Tip: Managing Transitions with Ease

“Hey honey, it’s time to go.”

Transitions can be tough. When you approach someone who is wrapped-up in an activity and need them to change their behavior to accommodate your needs, it can often result in conflict. This little tip can make those requests go much more smoothly by setting expectations and engaging the person you want to influence in a meaningful way.

How it works

What: You need someone to stop what they are doing and do what you ask.

When: Use this when you want to manage a transition without drama. It might require some negotiation, but it will generally make transitions much less painful. Examples:

  • You want to leave a party and your partner isn’t quite ready yet.
  • You need the kids to stop playing and get in the car.
  • You want a co-worker or subordinate to stop what they are doing and focus on a new task.

Benefit: Instead of demanding someone change their behavior, you’re asking them to partner with you to decide the best time for the transition to occur. It doesn’t mean you have to give up your position; instead it encourages a conversation that more often results in a cooperative outcome without fighting or bad feelings.

Did you try this technique? How did it work? Hit me up on social media or leave a comment here. And if you like this content, subscribe on YouTube and share with your friends. Thank you.

Video Tip: A Simple Way to Ask for What You Need

“Here’s what I want you to do.”

Ever need to talk to someone hoping they’ll say just the right thing to make you feel better or heard? This is an easy way to have that happen. Humans are pretty bad mind-readers. With this technique, you help them deliver what will help you most.

How it works

What: You specifically tell someone how you want them to respond.

When: Use it when you’re feeling vulnerable and how another person responds will make the difference between you feeling better or worse. Examples:

  • When you have an idea and don’t want to have it shot down immediately.
  • When you’re upset and don’t need a solution, just a friendly ear.
  • When you have something hard to say and need to be heard.

Benefit: You should shift the experience. If you’re lucky, it will be a learning experience teaching the other person a new way to respond. At a minimum, you should feel much better about the interaction. This technique tends to slow down communication and make both participants more aware of how they manage their responses.

Did you try this technique? How did it work? Hit me up on social media or leave a comment here. And if you like this content, subscribe on YouTube and share with your friends. Thank you.

Video Tip: Stop Fighting by Asking One Simple Question

“What’s your idea?”

This is a great way to avoid fights while gaining insight into the motivation of the people you work or live with. It’s easy and incredibly productive.

How it works

What: This simple question, “What’s your idea?” can reveal motivation you didn’t anticipate.

When: Use it when you’d normally tell someone no, or not now, or to do something else. Examples: 

  • When a kid starts to get up from the table.
  • When an employee hesitates.
  • When a loved one resists your suggestion.

Benefit: What happens next might stop you in your tracks.Rather than default to controlling someone, ask them their intent. You may discover they have a good idea that you can support. This has prevented a lot of squabbles in my life.

If you use this tip – let me know how it works! Hit me up on social media or leave a comment here. And if you like this content, subscribe on YouTube and share with your friends. Thank you.

Top Ten Reasons You Could Use a Life Coach

I know, I know, sometimes even I giggle when I see the term “life coach”. It is kinda funny. And that’s okay. Until I went through the training, even I didn’t understand the value of a coach. I did understand the mission, but man, has life gotten so hard, we need coaches? Well, yes.

Think of coaches as being a lot like a personal trainer.

Using your goals, your motivation, and your priorities, coaches use our ability to help you create a plan that works for you. We clarify, question, and hold you accountable for the change, but the change is truly owned by you. Still not sure? Let’s see how others have used coaches.

You might need a coach to:

1 Improve or change your career – you like what you do but you know you can do more. More in a way that helps you earn more or manage your time better or change the arc of your career. Having someone help you clarify what you truly want and how to make it happen is huge. This is often something your company will pay for (but know, regardless of who pays, your sessions are 100% confidential, nothing is shared with anyone else but you).

2 Restore work-life balance – time management and seeking opportunities for happiness is a common problem. We’ll work to align your priorities with your values and then identify ways to change your schedule to accommodate the things you value most.

3 Change how you parent – so often parents are working and going fast and sometimes miss the little things that kids crave. Those cravings change with age and being tuned-in to a communication style that allows for them to have a voice and influence the family can be powerful. It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, being aligned with them can fundamentally improve your relationship.

4 Increase satisfaction in your relationship(s) – if you’re struggling in your marriage, romantic relationship, with your parents or co-workers, looking at your communication style and how you interact can release new strategies for being heard. We work to help you get what you want from your relationships.

5 Get a grip on finances – often one person in a relationship handles the money. That can leave the other with no idea how money is prioritized, used and invested. Or young adults leave home without any real understanding of how money works and they struggle to figure out how to match priorities with spending. I can help you establish a plan that aligns with your goals.

6 Move through a transition – a new job, a new home, a new baby, a new relationship or even the loss of someone important, any time there’s a significant transition, it’s easy to feel lost as part of the process. We’ll work to establish your priorities so that you protect what matters most to you as you move through the change.

7 Plan for a long-term goal – from buying a home to planning a dream vacation to paying for college, reaching a long-term goal requires planning. We’ll break it down into manageable steps, so you see progress and feel motivated to keep working toward your goal.

8 Have someone hold you accountable – this works how you need it to work. Need to report back weekly on how you’ve done during the week; all good. Want to send photos as you make progress so there’s proof of your work; done. How accountability works best for you is a secret sauce of coaching. We’ll work together to make sure you don’t feel burdened, but you do feel responsible.

9 Add someone to your team (personal advocate) – maybe one of the hardest parts of adulting is being expected to do everything by yourself. That’s nuts. We know things are easier to do with support. With a coach, you’ll have someone on your side that’s 100% behind you. It’s maybe been one of the most frequent “wow” moments clients have. There’s another whole brain there to help figure things out.

10 Align your life with your values – this one has been incredibly important to me. After DeAngelo was caught, I felt like I needed to do more with my life. I wanted to align my work with my value around helping others succeed. That’s how I decided to become a life coach. Sometimes life is so noisy and busy, we get sidetracked. If you’re feeling that way, we’ll work together to re-clarify your values and then identify ways to start living them in daily life.

I don’t need a coach right now, but boy, I sure know someone who does.

Oh, I have a list of friends who I think could use a coach. In fact, my daughter, who’s just 20, is a great candidate. She is sometimes overwhelmed at what it takes to be an adult and then her priorities get messed up and she ends up forgetting to do something important because she thinks it was essential. It’s perfectly okay to refer someone.

It’s even okay to pay for someone else. But please know, it doesn’t matter who pays, the client being coached is entitled to confidentiality. The best example here is a parent, paying for a child – even a minor – will not have access to the things discussed during coaching unless the client chooses to share. If your minor child wants you to attend coaching with her or him, that’s fine, a coaching session can have more than one person. We’ll discuss the rules of engagement before we begin.

Still not sure? That’s easy. Schedule a complimentary consultation.

Honestly, you owe it to yourself to meet me and see if we are a match. We’ll have the meeting on Zoom (preferred) video conferencing. We can also use just the phone if you’re video-phobic! But the video makes it rather nice and I love seeing your facial expressions!

Teen Driving: How We Shot Ourselves in the Head in California

At some point – and I could go figure out when this happened but it pretty much doesn’t matter – we took Driver’s Education out of our schools. Stupidest move ever.

If you aren’t aware, here’s how our kids learn to drive today.

1. They take an online course to get a certificate. This is a joke because it can be gamed and passed really easily. So the only kids learning at this point are the ones who are earnest and naive.

2. They study for their learner’s permit, this is the written test at the DMV. Again. super easy. There are so many videos and online tests you are really in trouble if you can’t memorize enough to pass the test.

3. Immediately, upon obtaining the learner’s permit, they have to take one hour (of six hours total!) of driving instruction from a licensed driving instructor. After their first hour, they can start driving with you, their licensed adult over age 25.

4. They drive with you – or a reasonable facsimile. (There’s a whole blog here to be written about who gets to drive with the learner based on temperament, skill and tolerance for anxiety and bickering. Pisces were born for the job. For everyone else, this is why we drink.)

Step 4 is very important and here’s why.

You know when you scream asshole at that person who blew through the yield sign causing you to slam on your brakes? Or the sonofabitch who cut you off on the freeway after they tailgated you for the last three miles? Or dipshit who thinks 30 miles per hour is too fast and so they serve as an illegal pace car for everyone else. Or the person who is on their phone or eating or doing their make-up or parked badly or …. you get the point. THAT’s who’s teaching our next generation to drive. Seriously. Bad drivers are responsible for future drivers. Think about that.

5. They log five more hours with their professional driving teacher. We supposedly had the best person from the shabby mix in Santa Cruz. Her advice, “Katie should park closer to the curb.” She also told my kid I had painted my license plate so traffic cameras couldn’t record my information. Um yeah, no. They are just old. Why would she say something so stupid? She also said don’t go to the Watsonville DMV – more bad advice. They turnsed out to be the nicest people at the most positive DMV I’ve ever been to! I love those people (and I’ve been back with another kid and just as nice)!

6. They take their driving test. And an amazing amount of them are passing on first try. It’s an eight minute test; typically with one “gotcha” that we all know about because we talk to the people who’ve recently taken the test. And there you go. Instant driver.

Only here’s the thing. This is so stupid.

They have no common understanding. In the olden days, when we had driver’s ed, we all learned the same things. We all knew the rules, the consequences and there was agreement among all teens on how things worked. That’s just gone. Gone, gone, gone.

Now their skills depend now on how parents interpret the rules. Kids are 100% learning by example so if you use your cell in the car, guess that they do. If you swear at other drivers (oops, me), guess what they do. That tailgating that’s your bad habit? It’s theirs too. They can’t even support each other because they don’t have a common understanding.

They have no collective sense of consequences. They all have heard us tell them what can go wrong, but I’m convinced their sense of immortality causes them to dismiss it as soon as they hear it. But remember when we watched hours of car wrecks and stupidity – together – so at least it was recorded in our brains? They get none of that. We attended a workshop put on by the CHP – it was good – but I could see it just wash over the kids. Because they only saw it once; in one 90 minute class.

Adaptation to change is left to our interpretation. I’m convinced driving is harder today than its ever been and as adults, we’ve adapted accordingly (but not uniformly or with any training). More cars. More poorly trained drivers. Complex dashboards, Cell phones. I don’t think we’ve done a great job but at least we have driving experience on our side. These kids could actually use four months of class time to understand all this complexity, and instead, we’ve eliminated it.

And then there’s the gift of provisional driving. They aren’t supposed to drive with other kids for the first year of their license. This is a corollary misdemeanor from what I can figure out. Corollary because they aren’t stopped for having kids in the car. They have to be stopped for some other offense and then get cited for the provisional driver violation. I think some lawmaker thought this law would cut down on teen accidents. Maybe it has (you can review the study – it honestly looks like too many variables are co-mingled to really get to an answer).

The truth is – at night, I want my daughter to have someone else with her when she drives. I like the extra pair of eyes on the road and a buddy to keep her safe as she walks to the football game or store.I spent a lot of time letting her drive with friends in the car during permit time because I wanted her to learn how to ignore them and focus on driving. Fingers crossed she grokked it.

So what’s my recommendation?

We need to put drivers ed back in school. I can’t figure out why our insurance companies aren’t paying for this (if we want to play follow the money). They have the means and it would save them big bucks ultimately to have these kids all on the same page.

Then I say keep the provisional driver stuff but allow one other person in the car because we might actually get more compliance. Teens don’t do stuff alone. Make a law that instantly turns them into violators is nuts.

Finally – and I know this will shock everyone – when a teen goes through drivers ed, use that time to refresh parent’s driving skills (maybe they get $50 discount on insurance for attending a refresher course). We will still be sitting next to them during the permit months. Wouldn’t it be good if we were reminded of all the things we’ve forgotten since we started driving? Who goes first at a four-way stop? Are you allowed to pass a bicyclist on the right if you have to cross a double yellow on the left? Can you have liquor in the car if you aren’t drinking it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic. It’s been a hot button for me. Please let me know what you think!

The Joys of Midlife: A Kid that Can Drive and Three Things…

Katie is finally a junior and this summer she got her license. That means I don’t have to drive her around anymore. That means I am free. The result, I’m trying new things and having some adult fun once again. And, in my 53rd year, I’ve discovered three things that are keeping me very happy.
What is the secret you ask? Why let me share. My three things.

1. Improv. I started in January at a Saturday drop in class at the Broadway Playhouse in Santa Cruz. Offered by The Fun Institute (that’s Santa Cruz code for Cliffordand Dixie), I met a great group of adults who come together to play and fail publicly (and with conviction dammit – go hard!). The experience had been great.

Since starting the class, I’ve attended a number of workshops and an on-going practice group that’s invited me to be in my first public performance (coming this November). The best thing I have learned from improv is saying “yes”. I’ll have more to say about this soon – but just know saying “yes” is probably one of the coolest things you can do – for anyone including yourself.

2. Medical marijuana.Like any 50 year old woman, I have my fair share of anxiety and trouble falling asleep. There’s nothing more coveted than a worry free night a pure slumber. And yet, it’s often illusive for so many reasons. I have the kids to thank (blame) for trying this next generation of marijuana. I have to stay, it’s amazing.

With just a tiny edible, I can get a good night’s sleep, or, if I take CBD, my brain stays clear but anxiety fades away. Perfect for non-profit board meetings. I mean you just don’t care with some CBD on-board. It makes collaboration a breeze and because you don’t care, you aren’t likely to sign up for some dumb committee. I encourage you to go get your cannabis card and throw your prescriptions away.

3. Heated car seats. Until April 15th, I was driving a 2003 Honda CR-V. Great car but it started to fall apart during Spring Break as we traveled to the Grand Canyon. Katie was supposed to drive her when she got her license, but we both came home knowing it was time for Goldie (our name for her) to move on.

I impulsively bought a 2008 BMX X3 and it has heated seats! These have changed my life. I can get in the car, after a long day working at the computer, drive to the store with the air conditioning on and my seat on high. Suddenly the seat radiates heat into my back and butt, relaxing my muscles and making me feel oh-so-good.

I’m starting to realize what this second half of life is all about. Being chill. Trying new things. Not moving with urgency but instead bumbling and fumbling along, laughing and taking time because that’s the one thing we can’t see to get more of. 

Someone Get Me a Xanax, It’s Finals Time

Look closely at that photo: On Friday she was barfing her guts out with the 24 hour flu; the bucket’s still there but now it appears papers are what’s been barfed out. What a way to study! 

I think the greatest testament to the first year of high school is the fact that I haven’t blogged about it since November 1st.

This year went by at times painfully slow and on whole, remarkably fast. Today is the first day of finals (first semester finals were a joke but that’s for another blog), so today is the first “real” final for biology. And I am a wreck.

I know it’s not about me. 

I don’t have to take the darn test. But the Herculean effort I have put in to helping this kid learn how to learn all year long is coming down to two days: today and tomorrow. And this morning’s breakfast is still a rock in my stomach until 12:20 when I see Katie to hand her her yearbook (that she forgot this morning) and look at her face to see if she survived – oh, and maybe got a passing grade (because seriously, I do NOT want to do this over again).

Oh there’s so much to share about freshman year and now that it’s coming to a close, I think I will have time to reflect, record and release (you knew I had to find another “r” word because school is all about the three “r’s” isn’t it?).

So for now, this blog will serve as my faux Xanax as I wait for word and get ready for tomorrow’s second mad dash to her math final (thankfully English isn’t having one – first time that horrible teacher has done something good!).

And then I will start a list of blog topics: How I Survived Her Freshman Year. 

UPDATE: I got an excited text from her that she got 100% on her lab book – her choice to focus on that last night was a good one – and she thought the final wasn’t that bad. She’s off the lunch with friends before sweating the math final tomorrow. Whew. One down, one to go!

Just Got Off the Bus in Times Square

You can’t have her, she’s alllll mine….

A good friend of mine remembers his adolescence amazingly well.

As I described to him the changes going on with my 14 year old daughter, a freshman in high school, he said, “It’s like she just got off the bus in the middle of Times Square. She is so overwhelmed having to adapt to these new surroundings – learning the language, how to dress, what music to listen to, where to go, how to be, noticing what the older kids are doing – her brain is over flowing.”

His recollection and description truly helped me. Before he explained this to me, I really couldn’t grasp how she could sit down to eat and keep forgetting to get a fork. Seriously – she’s been eating since – well forever! The fork is now a hard thing to remember? Yes, he helped me understand. But it doesn’t change the fact that I feel like Jekyll and Hyde living in two very opposite emotional states of mind.

I want to shoot her.

She has been brain dead at home. Worst grades ever. No ability to string two thoughts together. If I ask, “What’s your plan?” she looks at me like I am speaking French – no wait, something far less interesting – like I am speaking whale. Or like those teachers on Charlie Brown.

“Mom, I want to live in the moment,” she says clarifying as she heads back to her bathroom to make yet another cosmetic adjustment. Fifty-year-olds don’t spend this much time on their faces. My god.

“That’s fine honey when they are all your moments, but in this case, you need me to drive, get food and frankly put my life on hold while you figure things out,” I say while I am often picking up another pair of her shoes (not co-located) or moving her crap off the table an into a single location.

And thus the battle begins. No matter how hard I try to eliminate any challenges, just simple communication seems to be impossible. And she’s explained to me it’s perfectly normal: all her friends hate their parents. Gee, awesome. Let me run right out and get the special yogurt you want.

I am missing the crap out of her. 

My friends theorize since I am a single mom, it’s probably harder for me than most. But I don’t think that’s it. I’ve busy and fairly fulfilled – I’ve been working like crazy and I am blessed to have a fantastic, diverse group of friends.

No, I think it’s because she and I actually got along really well and liked each other’s company. I always counted my blessings I got a kid that liked to do what I liked to do (wasn’t the case with me and my mom – she was an orange and I was an apple…well, actually she was more of a banana). I miss the time I would spend with her getting into mischief – even if her friends were along for the ride.

Just keep swimming.

So here we are.I’m 90% sure I haven’t changed on iota since September 1st. Yet little miss NYC is caught in the swirl of emerging adulthood and is fifty shades of different: excited and overwhelmed in the middle of Times Square. Please tell me I’m not just a pigeon on the sidewalk trying to avoid all those feet.

This too shall pass. Right?

Wow – Just Changed the Blog Title to “It’s High School”

First day and last day of middle school. Damn.

Hard to believe the time has come.

Middle school graduation was last week – I can’t believe how much this kid changed in one year. Who knew eighth grade would mark such significant developments. For a kid who really had one friend in middle school, she ended with a posse! In fact, her great milestone, a zillion signatures in her yearbook – compared to last year which only had signatures on one page.

Katie considers this to be her greatest 8th grade achievement. I can’t say she’s wrong. She did great academically but thankfully that’s never been that hard for her. But making new friends, that’s proven to be much more of a challenge. She likes kids who are savvy and interesting and willing to try new things. She’s not interested in stoners or followers or people who have no imagination.
She’s off and running and I find that I am the one left facing a bit of “development.”

When I brought Katie home from the hospital, swear to God, the very first week, I cried like a fool telling everyone that she was going to leave me and go to college. I’ll be damned, I was right! But the leaving is starting now. All this time I wanted her to have friends but I didn’t realize that meant I would be back on my own again.

Oh sure, I see her sometimes, but even as I write this she’s in her room, on the phone or texting. She has been out all day on a bike ride (and an early dinner – what 13 year old says that? “Hey mom, we are heading out for an ‘early dinner’ on the wharf!”). I have been home working and then cooked (well, burned) myself dinner and dove into a Stephen King book (Under the Dome – why did I think I could read 1074 pages before the series starts this week?).

Anyway, this early empty nest thing isn’t going so well for me. I am truly having a hard time. I know I’m in the final countdown. Four years of high school is going to fly by. I’m clear. It’s time I get back to having a life, doing things with my friends, maybe watch a movie. The feeling is so uncomfortable and lonely. I miss that wonderful pre-teen who used to hang out with me.

But I’m proud of her too. This is what’s she’s supposed to be doing right? Growing up. Being independent. Taking responsibility for her own life.

So we begin. The last four years. This is high school.