Stregthen your spirit with one simple step

Do you know that weird state after a party when it goes from loud, boisterous & full of energy, to suddenly still & quiet?   My summer camp girls have just left and the air in my house is full of that electricity.  I’m eager to see what the girls wrote on their evaluations of the camp.  Teenage girls are a tough audience.  I don’t get a lot of “great lesson today, Torie” or “I’m really learning a lot, thank you so much.” like I might from a room full of grown ups.  So, the written evaluations always blow my mind a little & this year was no exception.

“I learned I am important in the world.”

Tears well up in my eyes.  A 13 year old girl, because of this summer camp, learned she is important in the world.  Wow.  Mind is Blown.

How did she learn that?  I never used those words, “You are important in the world.”  How is it that the questions I ask or the games we play or the subjects we talk about, would lead someone to that conclusion?   It is such an amazing comment that I want to figure out how that happened and here’s what I came up with:

Life Coaching isn’t just about feeling better and accomplishing goals.  It’s about finding purpose and meaning in our lives.  It’s remembering that we are spirit, not just bodies and brains, and our spirits like to feel connected & purposeful, while doing our work in the world.  I asked the girls, “Raise your hand if you’d like to help the world in some way, whether it’s helping people, animals, or the planet.”  I figured I’d have at least a few who, like me, felt compelled to help & heal.  Do you know every single girl raised their hand?  In both sessions?  Mind is Blown.

Here’s a simple but significant exercise you can do to keep yourself and your kids connected to the big picture and remembering you, too, are important in the world.

Every time something happens in your life, use the experience to add to your list of “This is what I want, this is what I don’t want”.  For example, one girl complained about the people at her old school.  She said they were rude, materialistic & full of themselves.  This may be true, but it doesn’t help us grow or feel empowered.

I showed the girls a game to demonstrate how thinking negative/judgmental thoughts, actually makes everyone weaker, less effective and adds more negativity to the world.  (Experience and evidence are much more powerful teachers than words, especially with teens!)

Instead of judging someone negatively (even if it’s true), try this instead.  “Because I’ve had that experience, I can now say I want friendships with people I admire and whose values I share.  Because of my time spent with these girls, I now know that I don’t want to be with people who focus on the shallow, superficial aspects of life.”  It is MUCH more empowering, adds positive energy to the world, and reminds us that EVERYONE is here to help us grow as individuals.  When every circumstance is helping you grow, there’s no such thing as a bad day, annoying people or a negative circumstance.  Instead of life happening to you, it’s happening FOR YOU and for your benefit.

Right now, grab a piece of paper and write this at the top.  “This is what I want” and “This is what I don’t want”.  Then start writing down what you want and don’t want when it comes to relationships, work, family, exercise, etc. This simple but powerful exercise will add more purpose & meaning to your life, while helping you focus on things you have control of.

Girls, especially, will bond over a mutual dislike or disapproval.   “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe she’s wearing that, she’s so weird.”  This negative judgment brings everyone down, even if it’s just an innocent comment like “look at her crazy hair-do.”  Instead of focusing on others, make it about you.  “When I look at her outfit, I realize that I want to dress in a more modest, conservative way” or “I don’t want hair like hers.  Maybe a streak of color, but overall, I prefer a more natural look.”  Use your thoughts, opinions and judgments as a way to learn more about yourself, and you feel the shift in energy from negative to positive.

When you use other people and experiences to help you figure out who you are and what you want, you’ll feel powerful and in charge of your own life.  And a world full of people feeling powerful, determined and at peace with themselves, while focused on helping and healing the planet, well, I can’t imagine anything better.

Are you ready to feel more purpose and power in your everyday life? Sign up for one of my new life coaching packages and see if one of them is right for you.

Life Lessons from Facebook

Summer is here and it’s time to give your kids room to explore their individual passions and follow their bliss. But what if all they want to do is play video games? Or it’s day two of vacation and they are already bored and missing their friends?

If your kids passions are inconvenient or unclear, try tuning into your own. Children learn by imitation so one of the best ways to teach your kids to be happy, successful and passionate is to focus on your own life.

No one can tell you what your calling is or who you are meant to be, but you can learn to listen to the whispers the Universe is sending you! Knowing we are here for a reason helps us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves, helps us feel excited and purposeful about our lives, and therefore, is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.

Before we can teach our kids how to listen, we have to trust it for ourselves. So often we think, “Competitive sports changed my life for the better and taught me so much, so my kids should be in competitive sports.” Or “My success came easily because I learned how to study, get straight A’s, and had lots of friends so I can’t imagine how my child will be successful with her negative attitude towards school.” When we assume our child’s path is the same as ours, it blocks us from seeing them clearly. We end up arguing with them, their teachers, peers, coaches, wishing their personalities were different, instead of remembering we are all perfect as we are.

Learn to listen to the whispers in your own life by doing these two exercises:

1- Start a list of “What I Want/What I don’t Want” and add to it every day. Go on FACEBOOK and notice any posts where you get jealous or annoyed. “I just passed the bar exam!” “Ran 10 miles today!” “Our view of Kailua Beach”. Jealousy isn’t bad, it’s just a sign that you are meant to have that, too. Anything you feel a physical or emotional response to, add it to your “What I want/What I don’t want” list. Whether it’s a vacation, a new job, or going back to school, your higher self knows what’s next for you and it’s always better to pay attention to the whispers instead of waiting for the Universe to knock you upside the head. For example: Shelly was annoyed by her friends tri-athalon posts and everytime they started talking about it, she rolled her eyes and walked away. Once she realized her gag-reflex was a sign from her higher self, she started playing tennis once a week, something she loved doing before her kids were born, and taking more bike rides with her kids. Now she is happy for her friends that they are doing what they love, because she is doing more of what she loves.

2- Look back into your childhood and make a list of your favorite movies, books, TV shows, school subjects, activities, trips, experiences, friends, games to play. Look for the common threads! For example: My favorite things to play were real life games (store, house, school, bank, etc.) and board games (The Game of Life).  My favorite books were Ginnie’s Babysitting Business, The Popularity Plan, and, of course, the Judy Blume collection. The TV shows I liked were Growing Pains and Family Ties (no Star Trek or Crossfire for me!) and when I was 13 I wanted to be “Dear Abby” and write an advice column. If I had known life coaching was a profession, for sure I would have found it sooner. All the signs were there.

Just like me, your kids might invent their own career, or the work they are best suited for, hasn’t been invented yet. To best help them, focus on the big picture and what lights you up, then talk about it out loud.  Recognize the signs the Universe is sending to help you listen to your higher self and theirs. Your kids may not listen to every word you say, but for sure they are watching every move you make!

Want to feel more connected with your purpose? Want to feel fully alive as you help your kids find passion and confidence? Join me for my three week telecourse: Cultivating Passion and Confidence. Sign up by Tuesday, June 17th and get a free life coaching session with me!

My secret trick to motivate yourself and your kids

Do you want to inspire your kids to work harder? Contribute more? Feel proud of themselves? Recognize their accomplishments? Be inspired? Feel motivated? Well I have a secret little motivational trick to share with you that works like a charm.

When I was in college I lived in a house with 5 girls. None of us really knew how to clean but every few months the filth grew to intolerable levels and we would start complaining. “She always leaves her stuff out” “I can’t walk barefoot or her breakfast residue sticks to my feet” Basically, “Someone ELSE needs to clean this house but it shouldn’t be me!”. We tried nagging, chore charts, team efforts, passive-aggressive maneuvers, but nothing worked as well as this magic trick: Permission to BRAG. We tacked up a piece of paper and every time you did something brag-worthy, you wrote it down. Everyone wanted recognition and to be viewed as a team player, and soon we were racing to take out the garbage so we could write it on our brag chart.

Bragging, done right, celebrates our accomplishments and inspires us to continue working hard to do good things for ourselves and the world. My partner and I (in TimeforTheTalk.com) start our weekly meetings with brags. I ask clients to email me their brags in between coaching calls. At dinner time, my family and I go around the table and brag about ourselves.

Bragging got a bad rap when it was tied with superiority. To imply “I am better than someone else” is not the energy to cultivate in your home. To brag with “I am amazing, beautiful, hard working, and so is everyone else” is the kind energy I want to be surrounded by.

What you see in others is a reflection of what you see in yourself so when you see the world as judgmental, it means you have a lot of judgment. When you see the world as a scary place, it means you have a lot of fear. You cannot view the world as beautiful and inspiring, if that doesn’t reside inside of you. In order to be surrounded by positivity, you must first learn to cultivate it in yourself.
In our busy, never good enough world, it’s easy to get bogged down by all we have yet to accomplish. Our to-do lists, shortcomings, and mistakes never seem to end. Switching your focus to what you ACCOMPLISHED and what you are PROUD of, motivates and inspires you to do more of the same.

Here’s some brags from my clients (whose names I’ve changed) so they will let me share:
Kayla thought she hated her job but didn’t know what other kind of work she wanted to do. After only a few weeks of coaching, she realized she actually liked her work, but hated her commute. She realized that if she could ride her bike every day, that’s all it would take to make her happy. Six months later, she has moved out of state, works at her kitchen table for the same company, and rides her bike everyday when she takes her kids to and from school.

Maya was an empty nester. With her kids off at college, her days seemed to drag on with not enough things to fill them. She had a job, friends, activities, but they all left her feeling dissatisfied. Even things she used to enjoy left her feeling empty and unfulfilled. After a few months of coaching, Maya has accepted her calling and living the life she was meant to live. I’ll let you hear it from her, “I feel excited about life again! Even though this journey is scary and my self-doubt follows me wherever I go, I am loving this new exciting adventure I am on. I even secretly couldn’t wait for the kids to leave again after winter break so I could get back to my new life (I can’t believe I admitted that). Now I find there just isn’t enough time in the day to do all the creative things I want to do, which is a huge change!”

Now it’s your turn! If you want to create a more positive, inspiring world, leave a brag below! When you acknowledge your goodness, you give permission for everyone else to do the same. And don’t you think our world needs more goodness?

Here’s a few of my brags:
I wrote my blog today and if you are reading this, it means I also got my newsletter out!

I had a wonderful weekend skiing with my family and instead of worrying about the expense of it (an old pattern of mine), I focused on how happy I was to financially contribute to the ski resorts in a difficult, drought year.

Despite strong temptation, I have not posted anything about my kids on facebook that would embarrass them. And they seem to be embarrassed by just about anything these days, even brags! 🙂

Now you go….I dare ya!

Have you forgotten how to play?

My kiddo: “Mom, will you play a game with us?”

Me: “No thanks, honey, I’m enjoying reading my book.”

My kiddo: “What are you reading?”

Me: “Oh, it’s this great book on the importance of play by Dr. Stuart Brown, I just love it. It’s all about how Play shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul.”

My kiddo: “You’d rather read about play, than play a game with us?”

Me: “Oh, all right, I’ll play a game with you.” (But inside my head, I’m thinking YES! At times, I would rather read about play, than play a game with my kids.  Is something wrong with me?)

Have I forgotten how to play?

Janine is one of those Moms schools couldn’t live without. PTA volunteer, scout leader, car-pool coordinator, and room Mom. Everyone counts on her and she takes a lot of pride in her involvement. But she gets resentful of other Moms who say “no”. Why is she doing all the work? Secretly, she’s jealous of those Moms who put themselves first, but she can’t seem to figure out how.

Don is a good provider and father of two young children, yet he constantly feels like isn’t doing enough. At work, he feels like he should be at home, at home, he feels he should be working. He’s burning the candle at both ends and burning himself out.

Many of my clients fill their calendars and to-do lists, but still feel like they are missing something. We are taught to focus on goals, hard work and productivity, but we aren’t taught about the importance of play. (Or perhaps we spent too much time playing patty-cake and trains, that we’ve forgotten what feels like play to US). Grown ups need to play in order to feel like all our hard work is worth something. It gives us a sense of well-being, connection, and shifts us into a more relaxed brain state (and who doesn’t need that?). But what feels like play to one person, may not to another. If you or your kids need a break from stress, check out these play personalities, from Dr. Stuart Brown’s brilliant book.

Storyteller – Imagination is the key to the kingdom of play. Reading, writing, movies, performances, dance, etc. Storytelling can be brought to any activity. (If your child loves stories, make sure to give them lots of quiet time to be inside their own heads.)

Director – Enjoys planning and executing scenes and events. Born organizers, they love the power of being in charge and creating an experience for others. Center of the social world. (Discovering my daughter’s bossiness was her way of playing helped me accept it and find appropriate outlets for it.)

Kinesthete – Move in order to think. Like to push their bodies and feel the results. (School desks are torture for these kids. These kids need trampolines, chin up bars, balancing boards and roller blades, especially if they are trying to learn something new.)

Joker – A joker’s play revolves around nonsense. Silly jokes, behavior, foolishness, practical jokes, class clown. (Which means these kids need an audience, thank goodness for YouTube.)

Creator/Artist – Joy is found in making things: something beautiful, something functional, and something goofy. Or just to make something work. Take something apart, fix it, clean it, put it back together, and make it new. (Gardening, organizing, decorating, woodworking, blogging, detailing a car, there are many outlets, if this is you or your kids, make sure you have a creative outlet or you’ll never feel completely alive.)

Explorer – Exploration is a way of remaining creative & evoking the imagination. Can be going to new places, searching for new feelings or meanings. Discovering something new by going deeper or researching and discovering something new. (Now I understand why I love life coaching and reading non-fiction, it’s how I play!)

Competitor – Playing to win a game with specific rules. Keeping score and fighting to be number 1. Games may be social or alone, observed or participated in. Competitors like to be known for being on the top. (Who can be the first one to eat their veggies and clean their plate?)

Collector – Wants to have and hold the most, the best, the most interesting collection of objects and experiences. This may be a solitary activity or the focus of intense social connection. (This can apply to multiple activities, you can travel to collect souvenirs, play soccer to collect trophies, or collect subscribers on your YouTube channel).

Can you identify the play personalities of everyone in your family? Remember, the things that feel like play are the things your kids will make a career out of later. What’s your favorite way to play?

The Opposite of Play isn’t Work, it’s Depression

Can you feel the enthusiasm?  New lunchboxes, new pencils, new classrooms and the back to school excitement is here.  But a look at the statistics for today’s kids tells us this optimism will turn to stress by October.  How do you keep the relaxed and joyful days of summer, even after the school year begins? The answer is so simple you won’t believe me.  So let’s take a look at the problem first.

Many kids today struggle with motivation, joy, self-acceptance, social and life skills. With suicide rates rising and occurring at younger ages, it’s not a problem we can continue to ignore. Anxiety and depression are higher than ever in teens and increasing in YOUNG children! Why?
1. Kids today think the world is a scary place and they have no control to change it.
2. Too much structure: school-work, organized sports and screen time are all about following OTHER people’s ideas.
3. Less and less time spent in nature.
We’ve got a serious problem in the health of today’s kids and teens, not to mention an inability to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow, which require creativity & drive, not repetition. The success of the movie Race to Nowhere shows you parents know it, see it, and need help changing it. But the solution is simple.
It’s PLAY.

Self-directed, imaginative, social, outdoor PLAY.
The benefits of this kind of play are HUGE! But somehow, in our drive to make kids smart achievers, we forgot that the best way to be successful in life is to FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO then SPEND LOTS OF TIME DOING IT.  PLAY helps us discover who we are and what we enjoy. PLAY teaches us how to solve our own problems and exert power over our lives. When you PLAY you are in control of your environment, (something my corporate clients know is important).  PLAY teaches that life isn’t about success and failure but about participating for the sake of it. It gives us ACCESS to ourselves: our feelings, thoughts, preferences, abilities, etc. PLAY allows us to discover who we are and who we are meant to be. It gives us the feeling that life is good and all is well. Allowing your kids to initiate and pursue their own interests is as crucial to their well being as feeding healthy foods.

But if you are like me, it’s easier said than done.
My neighborhood is full of single-family homes with sidewalks, basketball hoops and nice families, but nobody’s outside! My kids are not the outgoing type so outdoor play only happens if it’s me initiating it, and I’m busy! TV, video games and ipads keep my kids quiet and out of my hair. And when I say no more, I have to listen to them whine & fight. The pressure to put my kids in organized sports comes at me from all angles.

When you ask parents what is their greatest hope for their child? It’s always the same….happiness. Every parent wants their child to be happy and PLAY is what creates that sense of well-being. Here are some practical tips to create an environment that encourages a LIFETIME OF JOY.
1. Back away from the children. By hovering and directing their play experiences (or hiring a teacher/coach to do it) they don’t learn to control their own world. Let them struggle, make mistakes, invent their own rules & figure it out.
2. Initiate a neighborhood playgroup or street party. Collect emails and schedule “play in the street” days if your neighborhood is as quiet as mine.
3. Teach your kids how to call up a friend and ask them to play. Practice it and praise their initiative.
4. Limit screen time! TV and video games distract a child from their emotions. Kids need to experience boredom, disappointment, frustration and failure and then find ways to soothe it and make it better. Think of it like serving vegetables, nobody likes it but it must be done. Limit and commit, no matter what their ages.
5. Go camping with other families or (my favorite invention ever) go to family camp. Free time outdoors encourages more imaginative play with more creative problem solving than free play indoors.
6. Invite other kids and families over and play “the old fashioned way.” No video games, cell phones or TV, and let the kids figure out how to invent their own fun.
7. Tell the teacher you aren’t going to do homework because it stresses out your child and takes away from valuable play time. (I did. It was hard, I was nervous the whole time.) Remember the schools are here to SERVE YOU, not the other way around. If enough parents do it, they’ll change their policy.
We are out of balance and it’s time to change. We need to enjoy living for life’s sake, not because it’s leading us towards someone elses external goal. What feels like PLAY to you? Do that more and set a good example.  It’s for the kids!