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Many Thanks

Noticing the simple moments to be thankful for—an embrace, a delicious piece of chocolate, sun on my back, small acts of kindness. Wishing the same for all of you.

photo by Nina Weinberg Doran


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Lists are a way of life for some people.  I have friends who say they simply cannot function without their lists. There’s the to do list, the gift list, shopping list, packing list, etc.  Some write their lists on beautiful stationary, some on scrap paper.  Some people check off their items, others cross off.  They lose them, curse at them, and forget them.  A list is a commitment in and of itself.

That leads me to the TO-BE LIST.  If we start with a list of how or who we want to be, perhaps it will influence or alter what we need to do.  For example, if I say I want to be more creative in my life, then on my list will be a reminder to pick up those watercolors I’ve been meaning to buy.  The action steps are linked directly to being values and goals.

As a coach, one of the first questions I ask my client is: “Who do you want to be?” More specifically, how do you want to show up in your world, in your relationship, your career?   Most people enjoy answering this question because they can visualize themselves at their best: “I want to be the go-to person, I want to be completely present for my children, I want to be kind, to be generous, to be a better listener”.

To be completely honest, when I began to write this piece, I thought this was my own idea.  In fact, the TO-BE list is already out there!  Here’s a short video about the book, Your To-Be List: Turn Those Dreaded To-Do’s Into Meaningful Moments Every Day by James McMahon and Lauren Rosenfeld:  Your To Be List /

I’m going to take a first crack at my list:  I hope you’ll give it a try and share some or all of yours.

Happy Being!


  1. Be patient
  2. Be self-compassionate
  3. Be healthier
  4. Be friendlier
  5. Be proactive
  6. Be open
  7. Be real

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Gift From The Storm

There have been so many important transitions, life events, beautiful days, joy and stress since my last blog entry.  All fodder for writing.  But, I’ve been stuck and that’s not easy for a coach to admit.  I think the events will unfold in time, and I’ll be eager to share the learning and development from each.  For now though, it’s back to writing with a simple story:

Many of you know that the Northeast had an unusually harsh October storm this weekend.  With trees still ripe with foliage, the heavy weight of the snow knocked power lines down, fell trees, blocked driveways and roads.  We are in day 3 of no phone, electricity and Internet.  Fortunately we have a generator for water to the barn and power to a couple of rooms in the house (I’m using the internet today at my office).

I missed the ease of connecting virtually to friends and family. I really did.  I wanted to “check the weather”, post on Facebook, Skype or read the news.  It took a while to give into the isolation.  After fussing with the fire, feeding animals & cleaning, it happened.  I fell into the spell of a good book.  This may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve been struggling to return to reading for quite some time.  I have no problem with work-related print, but the novels recommended by friends have been stacking up on my nightstand for about 6 months.  It wasn’t until I was forced to surrender – to the quiet and simplicity, that I was able to let go.

What I’ve learned from this storm is no revelation – as wonderful as technology can be, much of it is simply distraction.  I believe my writing also became stuck for this very reason.  Creativity begets creativity, and I was severely malnourished.  So, here I am, writing again after 3 days unplugged.  What a gift this storm has been.  I rediscovered an old friend and can’t wait to get home to be reunited once again.  Happy reading!

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Ask Nicely

One of my closest companions is a 1200 lb warmblood gelding who goes by the name of Corvallis.  We train in Dressage together, a very precise and prescribed method of riding.  He and I don’t speak the same language, but we do have an understanding… most of the time.  Our connection truly mirrors most relationships.  In training, this looks fairly straight forward: when I’m clear with my requests, when I’m tuned-into his needs and I’m holding up my end of the bargain, Corvallis will give me his focus, his athleticism and his respect.  This is a relationship based on trust and communication.

Sounds simple enough, right?  Here are a few factors that make this a challenge: Horses run on pure instinct, 100% of the time.  They are herd animals, and wired with an acute fight or flight instinct (mostly flight). They live in the moment and they are all about sensing the energy around them.

Another factor is that I’m human, and inevitably there are days when I’m preoccupied or feeling stressed.  If I greet Corvallis in this state of mind, he picks up on it immediately.  Sensing my distance, he is no doubt thinking  “Hey, if she’s out to lunch, where does that leave me?”  During our ride the disconnect can manifest as bratty behavior, unwillingness to focus or having one foot out the door.  On a dime, it can turn into frustration, discord and a safety issue.  It’s a lesson I have learned time and again over the years.

Optimally, when Corvallis and I are working on something new or a bit more challenging, my goal is clarity and connection.  Instead of jumping to frustration if we’re not quite getting it, I pause to ask him a few questions, and I ask them nicely:  What do you need from me in this moment?  What don’t you understand?  How are you feeling today?  No need for an answer – if I tune in, I’ll know.  I demand a lot of Corvallis on training days: I separate him from his pasture-mates and the green grass (albeit only for a couple of hours).  I clean him up to look presentable, put a saddle on him, a metal bit in his mouth; I climb onto his back and then ask him to dance. The least I can do is show-up fully.

Being in the moment with Corvallis is a true lesson in Mindfulness.  The most productive learning happens when the only expectations I have is that we’ll engage and be present for one another. What this looks and feels like in the sport of Dressage is difficult to describe. Movements are fluid, elegant and harmonious.  Communication is so subtle between horse and rider, that it appears to be effortless and that the two are of one mind. It’s no different from being with a loved-one or close friend because there’s often no need to explain each other’s thinking…  you just know.

Corvallis is an amazing teacher – not only of Dressage, but also of relationship.  Without the clutter of a human mind, he tells it like it is.  As a matter of fact, he is so good at his job, that if I’m careless or unclear about my needs, he will simply ignore me!  With his large, class-clown personality, our relationship is by no means all work. His loud whinny is a given whenever I walk into the barn. He’s also been known to throw his feed pan out the barn window on occasion – behavior only a mother could love!

Isn’t this ultimately what we all want from our relationships?  to be heard, to be playful, to be respected and to be asked nicely.

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Cliff Dwelling

I’ve just returned from a trip to Sedona, AZ where I was struck by images of intense beauty and extreme conditions. As the sun rose very early one morning (5:30AM to be exact), my husband and I hiked up to an 800 year old Sinagua cliff dwelling tucked away in Red Rock country. Hiking in silence, we soon caught site of the stonewall ruins that housed multiple families, perched precariously on the side of the mountain above us.

Sin-agua by definition means “no water”, which left me wondering why they would choose such a site.  Blinding sun, dry desert landscape, prickly vegetation and rattlesnakes.  And yet, the towering red rocks created goddess-like formations that were astoundingly beautiful.  Could it have been the mystical quality of the landscape that drew the Sinaguans to the area?  Hunting and gathering was a simple existence – survival in its purest form.  There wasn’t much distraction from the intention of putting a roof overhead, food in the belly, and tending to the needs of family and community.

Ironically, I imagine today’s definition of  a cliff dweller to be someone who “lives on the edge”, implying huge risk-taking or flirting with danger.  Our culture honors loud, attention-getting personalities, extreme sports, working overtime and living large. So, I’ve been wondering… without the busyness and distractions of modern life, which personality types would our society honor:  Leaders?  Healers? Communicators?  Craft-people?  Farmers?  Hmmm… sounds like a world where being an introvert is revered.

Me Likes!

photo of a cliff dwelling in Sedona, AZ

Invited to a WHAT?

WOMEN ENTRPRENEURS ROCK THE WORLD: Branding, Marketing, Social Media & Sales – This was a 2-day conference I attended in NYC a few weeks ago.  Being the self-proclaimed introvert that I am, I couldn’t imagine a more nightmarish title used to describe an event. Here’s the visual I concocted in anticipation:  workshop take-a ways broadcasted like the marquee lights on Broadway and a flashing ticker running emergency messages on the bottom of the TV screen.

Yet, according to the buzz out there, my business will cease to exist if I don’t tweet, blog, tag, link, post, share or “like”.  So, off I went like a lamb to slaughter.  I knew I’d need to have a good night’s sleep and a honking cup of coffee to maintain my stamina.

Don’t get me wrong, the workshop was filled with 200 smart, friendly, successful women, all eager to share their stories, give advice and cheer one another along. I learned quite a bit on day 1, and I was able to take what I needed and leave behind what I didn’t – truly inspiring.

By lunchtime on day 2 however – I WAS COOKED! While my companions enjoyed schmoozing with new acquaintances, I was dreaming about my cozy yoga pants and curling up on the couch with my dogs.  There’s just no stopping these thoughts!  I slipped away an hour before the close of the conference.

Fast forward to this week, and I was invited by a friend to join her and a group of professional women for tea at a hotel in Boston.  Why not?  I’m on a roll here stepping outside of my comfort zone. Not knowing what to expect, we rehearsed our elevator speeches on the way into town and threatened to pull over to go shopping instead.

Doors opened to a warm room, with a table set for 12.  We were greeted by our hostess, offering drinks with fresh berries… now this I could get used to.  One question was asked of the group, and we spent the next two hours sharing our answers:  Q.  What makes you bubble up?  No elevator speeches, no talk of hashtags or book deals. There was actually very little mention of our work.  Connecting, laughing, inspiring – this is also what networking looks like.