Sometimes you just need to hear it….

I was feeling resentful and under-appreciated.  My husband went out of town and I felt stuck in the daily grind of dishes, laundry, cooking, driving and homework.  Even the holidays just looked like more chores on my to-do list.  I was busy but bored.  Normally I can coach myself out these moods, take some time to myself, go to yoga, etc.  This time I wasn’t snapping out of my bitterness.  I really needed to feel appreciated, valued and considered but I was stuck in my self-righteous anger and I didn’t like it.

I believe that no one can make you feel anything without you believing it first.  If you tell me I’m mean and selfish, it doesn’t affect me because I don’t have that belief about myself.  If I roll out of bed and drive to CVS, sick and feeling awful with my head pounding and nose running, and I see you there and you tell me how great I look, I will not believe you.  If I want to feel appreciated, I have to appreciate me first, in order to receive a compliment from anyone else.  So as dorky as I felt doing it, I wrote myself a thank you note:

Wonderful You,

needing to feel appreciatedI just want to take a minute to thank you for all you have done and continue to do to make our household run smoothly. You do such a great job of raising our children, cooking for our family, keeping them in clean clothes that fit, and maintaining a beautiful home, it’s easy to take you for granted. You manage to stay in good spirits while you juggle all the demands of our family. You encourage your children and husband to pursue their interests, joys, friendships and activities and are happy to “hold down the fort” and help facilitate, plan, drive and arrange financing to make these dreams possible. You always prioritize their needs, remembering their schedules, being on time, purchasing the right shoes, birthday presents, permission slips and all the details of life. You do this because your family’s happiness makes you so happy. Sometimes taking care of your family is a thankless job, but I want you to know that I appreciate and recognize your hard work, thoughtfulness and consistent care. You are a gem of a wife and mother and I am truly proud to walk in your shoes every day. I hope next time you look in the mirror, you recognize what a powerful force for good you truly are and how blessed your family is to have you in their lives.

With gratitude & love,

Me

It took a few drafts to get into the genuine feeling of gratitude (that self-righteous anger held on tight!).  But once I wrote it AND felt it, the rest of the day I felt only love and gratitude.  It was like I had filled up my appreciation tank and didn’t need any external validation. But what happens when you are walking around, vibrating in self-appreciation?  Other people feel it too, and about 5 hours later my husband walked in with a dozen roses AND the two items I asked him to pick up at Costco!

Don’t sit around and wait for someone to give you the feeling you want to feel.  Give it to yourself first. Write a letter telling yourself how proud you are of you, how you deserve a break for all your hard work, how caring and generous you are, how much you admire your patience and self respect.  Then watch and see how your family and your world start to respond to you differently.

How to Help Your Friends & Loved Ones (without losing yourself)

I’m sure you’ve all experienced “help” from your loved ones. Well meaning advice that starts with “What you need to do is……” or the pleading words from parents, “Honey, I’m worried about you….”

Working TogetherIt can be really hard to watch our child, our friend or a loved one suffering unnecessarily. Often, we can see things they can’t see but when we try to offer a new perspective, we get shut down. “If you just changed your attitude, your job wouldn’t be so bad.” “Just because your friend didn’t text you back doesn’t mean she hates you.” There are three ways people “help” that just don’t work.

  1. “Let me tell you what to do.” If you’ll just step aside, I can take over and do a much better job at managing your life than you are. This may be true but it’s not your lesson to learn and this type of “help” leaves both parties feeling frustrated and ignored.
  2. “I feel bad for you.” I’ll jump into suffering with you in hopes it will eliminate and relieve your burden. I will feel sad & scared in solidarity with you so at least you aren’t alone.   As well meaning as this is, this version leaves both parties feeling crappy and unable to see solutions.
  3. I’m worried about you so if you could worry too, I’ll feel better. This version of “helping” is common for parents to do to kids but it’s really about helping “the worrier” feeling more comfortable. Asking someone else to change their behavior so you can feel better, ignores the real problem and real solution.

Learning to help your friends and loved ones in a way that TRULY helps is an art form. If you’ve got “The Helping Tic” like I do, seeing people struggle causes you physical pain and mental anguish. The desire to help others is a good and important trait so learning to do it in a way that helps you BOTH feel better is SO important!

This “How to Help” workshop is right for you if ……

  • Your friends confide in you about their problems.
  • You find yourself thinking more about other people’s problems than your own.
  • You find yourself avoiding certain people because strong emotions come up when you are with them.
  • You hear yourself telling others “What you need to do is…..” or saying “Why doesn’t she just _____________ and then her life will be fine.”
  • Watching your loved ones or friends repeat the same mistakes really bugs you.
  • You worry more than you like and wish you knew how to stop.
  • Your children come to you with their problems and you’d like to help them feel better, without “fixing” it for them.
  • You can’t stand watching your children struggle.

This workshop was inspired by some of the girls in my summer camp who felt burdened by some of the secrets they had been asked to carry by friends who were in a really bad place. Please share this invitation with your daughters age 13 and up and bring them along if they are interested.

Mom’s Mini-Retreat (teenage girls welcome, too.)  Sunday, November 23rd 12pm-3:00pm near Walnut Creek.  $35.00 each, includes lunch, drinks and an interactive workshop. Space is Limited, Sign Up Today. 

If you are interested in the topic but can’t make the live retreat, click here and let me know.   If I get enough interest, I’ll create a webinar version.


How many are coming?



Listening to your instincts

Should I let my 9 year old stay home by herself? Should I let my daughter hang out downtown? When should I let my son ride his bike to a friends house?

African-American single-parent family

Parenting is full of questions and decisions that don’t have an obvious answer. We usually look to see what everyone else is doing but just because it’s popular, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. The high technology use & helicopter parenting popular today is creating the most stressed-out, disconnected, anxious, depressed and medicated cultures in history. When your Mom, sister, neighbor, and the media disagree, and you can’t trust the dominant culture, how are you supposed to know what’s right?

Is my child ready for summer camp? Is my daughter mature enough to babysit? Should I let my child have an Instagram account?

Depending on whether you ask a teacher, a police officer or a pediatrician, you could get completely different answers. Even you and your spouse might disagree! As kids grow into adolescents, the questions become bigger and scarier.

Could my teen be depressed? Should I tell my teenager about my past experiences with alcohol and drugs? When do I talk about birth control?  Is my son addicted to video games?  Does my daughter have an eating disorder?

Luckily, worry, fear and helicopter parenting are not your only options!  You were born with a very handy tool, something I call Instinctual Intelligence. You KNOW what’s true and right for you (you just might not always have access to that information).

Everyone is born with instincts. It’s wired into our central nervous system. But over time we learn to block, ignore, and override these natural instincts and if we aren’t careful, we teach our children to do the same.  Instinctual Intelligence is the ability to tap into the wisdom of our body and use it to apply to everyday situations.

Try this:  Close your eyes and think to yourself “My child should obey me.” Notice how your body reacts to this thought.  It’s subtle, but you might notice a heaviness, tension or cloudiness. This is how your body reacts to a lie. (Many parents have this belief, that “my kid should obey me” but it’s not true. Kids aren’t robots, they are supposed to disobey, wouldn’t that be weird to have a kid who ALWAYS obeyed?).  Notice where in your body you feel it the most:  a constricted throat?  heavy ankles?  Pressure on your chest?  Now try this:  Close your eyes, take a deep breath and think, “My child is a unique spirit.”  You might notice feeling lighter, looser, relaxed, expansive, or clear.  Notice how your body reacts to the truth and where you feel it the strongest. “My child is a unique spirit” is a true statement for most people “My child should obey me” is a lie.

This is how we tune in to our instincts but it today’s modern world, it’s really easy to get distracted and ignore what our bodies are telling us.  When it comes to the health, safety and well-being of our teens and pre-teens, wouldn’t it be nice to regain that instinctual intelligence?

Imagine what it would be like to NOT WORRY and NOT FEEL GUILTY? Imagine having CALM CONFIDENCE in your parenting decisions?   Imagine having such PEACEFUL CONVICTION in your decisions that your children, parents and spouse don’t even bother trying to talk you out of it?

Re-introducing parents to their instinctual intelligence is one of my favorite things I get to do as a life coach. I love it at the end of a call when a client says, “I was going to ask you something else but I already know the answer.” It’s a great feeling to be able to trust yourself and your wisdom.

Want to know what your higher self is trying to tell you?  Check out these instructions for a fun little Pinterest Vision Board activity.

Don’t Sell your Soul to the PTA

The requests are starting to pour in……“Only a few hours of your time….” “The auction committee is looking for……” “The kids won’t be able to go to Science camp unless we fundraise…….” Volunteering at your child’s school can help you feel connected and purposeful, or it can suck the life out of you and still beg for more. I have been invited to speak at hundreds of PTA/PFC meetings all around the bay area, I’ve got a summary to save you time: “We need more money”, “We need more volunteers”, “Please be nice and follow the rules so we don’t KILL OUR CHILDREN AT MORNING DROP OFF!”

The best way to use your volunteer time is to become a better you. Learning these lessons, while on the PTA, will keep you out of resentment and overwork, and more fully in the fun zone.

1. Boundaries. If you aren’t good at setting boundaries, the PTA will quickly show you the need for it. They will take whatever you have to give and still ask for more. “I offered to donate some extra plants and found myself head of the landscaping committee.” Some people feel setting boundaries is mean and it is, it’s being mean to yourself, your family, and your goals for the future. Decide ahead of time how many hours you are willing to give and ask your family to help keep you accountable. Having clear boundaries is a huge life lesson that will allow your life-enjoyment-meter to crank up to a 10+! Use the PTA to learn this valuable life lesson (p.s. you’ll know you need them if you are feeling resentful.)

2. What’s your “Why”? Don’t do anything without having a clear understanding of why you’re doing it. Do you volunteer to keep your project management and computer skills up to date? To support your child and help provide them with an excellent education? Julie discovered how much she loved putting together the school auction: developing the theme, decorations, marketing materials, was super fun for her. Although she didn’t know it at the time, she was gaining the confidence to start her own event planning business and was ready to launch once her youngest was in middle school.
Emma was a working-Mom who felt disconnected from the other stay-home Moms. When the PTA sign-ups came around, she made sure to sign up for a committee so she could get to know other Moms. Now she not only has friends and feels connected, but she’s got willing helpers on those minimum days and staff development days when she’s working but her kids are out of school.
Find your “why” and you’ll know what to volunteer for, when to quit, and how much of your time to devote.

3.  If it’s not fun, don’t do it! I know, I know, the committee needs you, the money will dry up, blah blah. Do you notice that schools are ALWAYS adding new and great ideas but RARELY do they terminate old ones? “Let’s have an International Festival after the Book Fair and before Field Day! We’ll have a bake sale to raise money for the Jump-a-thon!” Sometimes, even good ideas need to die a natural death. If your PFC is always scrambling to fill the same two positions, maybe it’s time to let them go. If you reluctantly sign up for these yucky jobs, you might be delaying the inevitable and setting up future parents for unnecessary work. The PTA needs to know their “why” and set boundaries as well.

4.  I’m going to let you in a secret….Supermom is getting tired. Trying to be good at everything is SO last decade. Instead, Moms are following their bliss….then sharing it with others. I will gladly go on field trips and take your kid to the park, if you will help make a book report diorama and take pictures at school events. Teacher appreciation week sends me into a panic so if you’ll handle that and teacher gifts, I’ll help sell girl scout cookies and host some fun party games for your kids (just have someone else do decorations & bake). Think of how much fun we could have if we only did what we really love and we did it together!

Make your volunteer time serve YOU, as well as the school. The kids will benefit from your upbeat attitude and community spirit, as much as anything else. Now who wants to come clean my house while I play with your baby? 🙂

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.