Category Archives: Empowerment

New Year’s Special!

Start your new year with a motivation boost!  Try two free sessions of life coaching.  Offer valid through the end of January.  For more information, email

How to Figure Out What Matters

Is your life effective?  Is it getting you what you want?

It doesn’t matter what you should do.  It doesn’t matter what you deserve.

What matters is if you are living a fulfilled life.   It matters if you are happy.  It matters if you are contributing to the world in a way that you like.

How to Memorize Wisdom of Books

A friend of mine, Divia, recently introduced me to a really cool software program called Anki. Its a memorization tool, which works by helping you review flash cards right on the cusp of when you are about to forget them. This provides the greatest learning retention for the least amount of time spent studying.

The cool thing is the way in which Divia uses these cards. Divia made cards based on concepts from books like Non-Violent Communication, and other material that she enjoys from day to day life that she wants to fully understand and remember.

I love the concepts from Non-Violent Communication and had thought that I understood the book very well, but I’m finding that when I test myself using the cards she made, what I’m learning is not obvious. I’m instead learning that I really didn’t know the details of the book in depth, and I can benefit from studying.

If you’d like to try the Non-Violent Communication cards for yourself, download Anki, and then email Divia: diviam at gmail dot com.  They are meant to be studied after you’ve read the book, so your mileage may vary if you try them without having done that first.

Don’t Give Up!

coaching mother and childSomething I’ve seen a lot of with coaching is just how much people can do when they don’t give up.  A situation seems hopeless, and then when my client digs deeper and discusses the issue with me, solutions and ideas just naturally arise, when everything had seemed so bleak.

My training is to not buy into my client’s Saboteur.  When the client tells me that things are hopeless, even when I really believe their story, I hold out and help them try on different perspectives, or help them process in a way that makes life a little easier to deal with.

I just had a personal experience where something hopeless turned out to be not as such. My husband and I are expecting a baby, but we’re not doing it the old fashioned way, we’re having a surrogate have our child! I can’t breast feed because I’m on heavy medication, so it was looking as though the baby was not going to have milk, which I was pretty sad about. Milk from a milk bank is prohibitively expensive.

Eventually it dawned on me that I could put an ad for milk up on craigslist! As it turns out, one of the craigslist responders told me about this site. I have already found someone from the site who has promised to donate us a few hundred ounces :)

It occurs to me now, that if I had thought to have my coach work with me about that seemingly unsolvable problem, that I would have probably realized that I had options even sooner.

How to Strengthen Willpower, part 1

According to this article, willpower uses up glucose, thus tiring out our body as well as our mind. glucose gives strength A rush of glucose raises our willpower over the short term, but a more steady level of glucose increases it over the long term.

The mind-body response of exerting willpower literally fatigues us (Tice et al.

2007). It depletes physical power, as shown in one study that looked at the effects of mental self-control on physical stamina (Bray et al. 2008). In this study, trying to control one’s thoughts decreased muscular endurance, as measured by performance and EMG activity. The researchers who conducted this study called the effect “central fatigue.”

Our minds and bodies draw from the same source of strength. But what is this source? Matthew Gailliot, PhD, a researcher at the University of Amsterdam, argues that the fuel of willpower is glucose. 

Do You Live Out of the Box?

Out of the Box CoachingPeople with alternative lifestyles are people who think outside the box.  Some of us are forced to think outside the box early on because of the ways in which we differ from cultural norms.  For example, I was raised Jewish, and I can recall as far back as kindergarten wondering why I was told to believe one thing when almost everyone else I knew was being told to have different basic assumptions.  This led to my questioning the tenants of religion, and of what I was ‘supposed’ to believe in general, before I was even in grade school!

People who are gay know from a young age that they are different, and start questioning the world based on their sexuality.  People who aren’t suited to the standard mold of monogamy at some point realize this and question the societal image that everyone needs to find one soulmate and never have deep intimacy or look sexually at another person again.

Carving your own path has benefits and costs.  A benefit is that you are free to create a life that is uniquely suited to you, a unique individual.  Nobody is exactly like you, or has had the exact experiences that you have had.  You as a unique individual, having those unique experiences, create your memories and the building blocks that your present and future are built upon.   The more freedom you have in your ability to imagine and pursue a life that is more specifically suited to you, the more engaged and fulfilled in life you have the possibility to be.

When my husband and I bought our home, we went all out with the customizations.  We are part of an intentional community that is made up of 2 bedroom apartments, but we wanted to have a family, with four bedrooms, so we combined two apartments to make a larger space.  I also painted murals on the walls, and bought Ikea furniture that exactly fit the living space.  Since the two combined apartments had two kitchens, we turned one kitchen into a fifth bedroom that we rent out to a wonderful housemate.  We love our home, and especially that we get to live with good friends as our neighbors.  The community we have is something we have that we really value, which most people in suburban cities miss out on.

A downside to all that freedom is that when you go off the beaten path, you don’t have the cumulative wisdom of society to build upon.  Over the centuries people have experimented with many different ways of doing various things, and they’ve collectively learned what sorts of things do and don’t work, for the goals that they’ve set out to accomplish.  When you’re choosing your path on your own, there are probably going to be assumptions you make that don’t take into account realities that our ancestors dealt with, that will bite you in the butt by not heeding.

One problem with our wonderful living space, which we didn’t realize ahead of time is that our one remaining kitchen isn’t really big enough to have five rooms worth of people sharing it comfortably!  We manage, and in retrospect we’d still make the same choice, to convert the second kitchen, but the cramped kitchen is an example of a consequence we didn’t see coming.  Likewise, the murals drawn directly on the walls, instead of on canvases that can be moved, and the Ikea furniture being earthquake safe bolted to the walls, means that we can’t redecorate very easily.  After a few years I would like to redecorate, but I can’t put furniture in certain places or it will block the murals, and it would be a real pain to move the furniture in the first place.  The bolted furniture and the unmovable paintings are something I probably would change in retrospect, although they’re not a big deal.

Carving your own path requires more thought and figuring things out becasue you’re doing things in a new way, so having friends, mentors, psychologists, coaches, and other people to help you figure things out is really important.  If we had hired an interior decorator when we designed our living space they might have foreseen some of the issues that we didn’t.

3 Tips for Making Your Life Better!

There is a vast body of knowledge out there when it comes to self help. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • I highly recommend the book Non-Violent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg for learning to better understand your own feelings and needs, communicating your feelings and desires, and for learning how to understand and empathize with other people’s feelings and needs.
  • Keeping a gratitude journal is a nice way to hone your positive thinking skills.  Here’s mine.  I’ve found it so refreshing that I’ve been keeping it since 2003.  I noticed a big shift immediately once I started it (I wrote in the log 5 or more times/week for almost three years).   I started actively looking for things to put on the list.  Throughout my day my mind was attuned to looking for things to be grateful for.  Eventually given more time, I’ve become more grateful without consciously trying.  Throughout the day I often think about things I’m thankful for unprompted.
  • The Feeling Good Handbook provides great insight and practice for skills to improve your quality of life.  In coaching as I’m trained by CTI, we term that voice in your head that tells you that you’re not good enough as “The Saboteur.”  David D Burns addresses The Saboteur by helping you understand how it is working in your head, and he gives you tools for helping to reframe your thoughts in a more constructive manner.

Sometimes you can speed along self-help by hiring a trained professional to guide you in your personal quest for fulfillment and happiness. Life coaches such as myself are trained with techniques anchored in what has shown to bring people a richer, more grounded and more fulfilling life. Some of these techniques are based on studies that have been scientifically demonstrated to make people happier. Other techniques are based on wisdom that is too complex for modern studies to boil down just yet. The more complex wisdom has so many different facets that are so individualized to the person that is being worked with, that it cannot be isolated into little pieces to be tested.

By hiring a professional you are receiving the expertise of someone who has spent years of their time studying what it takes to make you happy, so that you can benefit from their knowledge, since that person will have done the studying already and can pass along the wisdom in a way that is personalized to you.