There Will Be Failure

You’re going to fail. I will too. During this winter holiday season we will all fail in some way or other, at least once. We’ll say the wrong thing, omit a present, eat poorly, rush ourselves and our loved-ones, maybe snarl at someone just doing his job, or worse, snap at someone close to us. Most of all, we’ll forget that we have control over how we react and a choice about how we manage moment to moment. (For tips about how to Turn Your Day Around in 180 Seconds, you can get the Move Into Change newsletter here.)

Failure is real and, though we might not realize it, we’re successful because we fail not in spite of it. We fail continually during each and every day. When something doesn’t work out (a form of failure) we adjust (a form of success) until we transform a small mistake or an epic fail into a different success. Ryan Babineaux (Fail Fast, Fail Often) calls this process “failing forward,” a term I’ve come to adore.

So what of the failures you’ll inevitably encounter during the next few weeks? How can you take some control over the sense of overwhelm that causes you to miss opportunities? How can you strengthen your relationships? How do you ease the stress that causes you to make a default choice instead of acting on a deeper commitment to yourself?

You can begin by understanding more about the value of failure (look for future posts).

And, you can pause to bring some compassion to yourself for your mistake.

It’s possible to pause any situation you’re in. It’s possible to take a mere 5 minutes to check – in with yourself so you don’t check-out by responding more like a puppet than the terrific person you are.

Often it’s at this time of year that you wish you had already built stronger  resilience so you’d have something to rely on now, when you need it most. If you’ve already been practicing, the holiday season can make it more challenging to carve out 30 minutes to meditate or an hour to exercise amidst all the shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, socializing and traveling.

It’s never to late to start to develop your Pause Ability. You don’t need a guru, fancy equipment, or find non-existent hours to devote to it.

And, with the gift of the pause, there will be success.

New In 2015 INTRODUCING! The Pause Ability Place.

I’d love to hear about the miniscule and gigantic ways a simple pause helped you. Or, if you use PauseAbilities, tell me about that. I’ll share your stories in future newsletters (with your permission, of course). If you aren’t receiving the newsletter yet, you can see a sample or sign up and get started on making change in your life with my complimentary workbook, “Permission Granted: Move Into Change With Your Own Approval,” here.

A story from my life to start us off …
The other day, I was organizing my office closet. It was going pretty well. There were problems and re-adjustments that flowed so quickly from one to the next the process felt almost effortless. Then, there was that moment… half of my files, books, coaching materials and office supplies were still piled up outside the closet and the closet was full. Ugh. After too many tries, I still couldn’t figure out how to make it all fit. Frustrated, I was tempted to walk away or shove it all in  and slam the door (not gently).


Instead, I paused. I noticed the tightness in my chest & shoulders and the tizzy I was in. I could hardly sense my legs because there was so much going on in my mind; “Look at the mess, I’ll never find a place for everything. What possessed me to start this project today?!” I needed grounding. I took out my phone and following the prompts from PauseAbility #3, I felt some relief. I realized I was trying to squeeze an idea from my frustrated mind, and within the space of the pause, a new idea came to me. Ah, much better.

Here’s another…

I am holding this space for you to reply to me and share your story that will appear in our Pause Ability Place coming in 2015. With the next story be yours?




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Puppet or Pause Ability?

116663554-mannequin-style-string-puppet-or-marionette-gettyimagesLast night I was watching How to Get Away With Murder when I needed a drink. I pressed the pause button on the remote and made the trek upstairs to the kitchen. After sipping some water, I sat back down to witness Professor Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) careen between being a terrifying control freak and a horrible hot mess of a brilliant woman.


I felt great. I was more comfortable and noticeably more alert because I had paused. Davis’s character was still being pulled apart by her emotions. Poor Annalise …


We’re all familiar with pausing a show or a song to run to the bathroom or get a snack. That’s all it takes to to get what we need. It’s pretty easy, right?


Most pauses take a mere 3 – 5 minutes. Pauses that give us time for something other than a snack, like interrupting an emotional explosion (remember counting to 10?) or before we’re about to make a presentation or enter a social setting like a party, also take little time. But they tend to be something we only occasionally remember to do.


Mostly we shift quickly from one thing to the next without a moments pause. We barely register our full reaction before it’s off to the races. When we do remember to pause, we usually don’t take complete advantage of it, either.


Fly on the wall at Erin’s office just the other day:

Erin gets on the phone with her client, Michael, a few seconds after having an unpleasant interaction with a co-worker. Michael doesn’t t know anything about this situation but within the first few seconds he reacts to her tone of voice. She seems to be in a negative mood and distracted (which she is). He wonders if he’s done something to annoy her. Michael questions whether Erin is truly ready to give him the attention he had paid for.         Uh oh!

If you knew Erin, you’d know that she is smart, good at her job, committed to her clients, caring in her relationships, and well meaning. Erin is also a busy person. Being the mature woman that she is, Erin most likely noticed her upset. Perhaps she felt “frustration.” She probably said something to herself like “Grrr, better pull myself together, I have a call in 2 minutes, can’t deal with this now, it’s too big…” She may not have noticed her jaw clench and her breathing tighten. She certainly thought she could push the annoyance aside and get going on the next agenda item.


The thing is, all that pushing aside has an effect. Often it affects us in the moment, as in Erin’s first few minutes with Michael. Too frequently, the accumulation of countless unacknowledged reactions in our day leaves us drained, fatigued, short tempered and/or vaguely anxious.


Have you had an experience like Erin’s or have you had thoughts like these?

“But if I stop, even for just a few minutes, I might collapse and not start back up again, ever!”

 “I’ll pause after I finish this, and that, and that. Then I’ll be able to take care of me and it. ”

 “I’ll take go back and revisit it after I’ve crossed everything off my list for the day.”

 “What will a few minutes do? I have to focus on what’s important! I need to bear down.”


I have said these same words or a version of them. So have my clients.


It’s easy to get caught in believing that ignoring our selves won’t matter, or that we’ll catch up with our inner life later. It can also be a challenge to trust that pausing will make a big enough difference for us to be willing to do it.


It matters.

Think about how many times in your day you transition from one thing to the next. Not one, not two, could be fifty, could be hundreds. If we are carrying unacknowledged sensations from just a third of those moments with us, we are unlikely to be our best. And, that’s an understatement! By the end of the day or even earlier, we are very likely to be drained and scattered. We might observe ourselves numbing out with TV, food, or silly FB quizzes if we weren’t so busy trying to get away from ourselves.


Not only does our go- go life drain us of vital life energy, it robs us of knowing the best of ourselves. It impacts on work, personal relationships and our fundamental feeling of being at home within ourselves, something we rarely take the time to nourish.


If we begin to become aware of what’s happening inside us, we can then make choices about how to work with it. It allows us to regulate impulses, thoughts, emotions and behaviors at the micro level. With each pause we strengthen our ability to make a new choice, to allow a fresher perspective to bubble up.


It’s as if the pause opens the door for new possibilities to occur to us. And the ability to do that gives us the strength to pause more.


But, if we continue to go through life unaware, we’re more like puppets, individuals who allow life to happen to us.


The pause allows us to check in for a moment with who we are. The pause sets the stage for us to align who we really are with what we do. 

 9019737-hand-cutting-the-strings-of-a-puppet-giving-it-freedomThe pause cuts the puppet strings for a moment.


Now we have a pause, which opens up possibilities and then becomes a skill, an ability… a Pause Ability!

Thanks for coming with me this far. There’s more to come when I share one best way to pause.

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11 Reasons You Might Want to “Listen” in a New Way

        This might be you. It’s definitely me or has been me at least some time.

  • Crave more ease in life.


  •  Reactive: sometimes it seems like everything bothers you.


  • Misunderstood: other people don’t seem to get what you “mean.”


  • Escapist: you look for relief and create habits that affect other parts of life.

junk food

  • Distractible: you’ve been told you weren’t listening to someone else, when you thought you were.

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  • Overwhelmed: Decisions and actions don’t seem possible.


  • Procratinating: you put off important things (tasks, projects, people, experiences) in your life.


  • Imposter: you feel disconnected from your authentic life – a bit like a faker.behind the mask_192169424
  • Unappreciated: You figure being your own best friend is a good idea, but how do you do it?



Focusing is one powerful and simple process that lets you be supportive of other people and yourself – so the important things in your life can move forward freely.

Focusing has made a huge difference in how I am, what I do and how I feel. It made (and still makes)  such a difference that I got certified so I could teach other people too!

Sooooo, if you’re interested in being more of a friend to yourself,

I’m teaching an introductory Focusing workshop, “Listening To You” on Oct. 18th at Westchester Community College, Valhalla, NY.

It’s affordable!

Click to  SIGN-UP. If you click the photo below, you’ll get to the brochure

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Meditation Monday: Yes, and…

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I read recently that the benefits of meditation won’t really kick in until my meditation practice is consistent (as in, close to daily) for an extended period of time (as in 8 consecutive weeks or more) and goes for at least 15 minutes.

A year ago, this would have put me off meditating faster than it takes for a thought, any thought,  to capture my attention. Nanoseconds. Well, I don’t practice every day consistently – yet. When I do it tends to be about 15 minutes, which is about how long it takes for me to count 100 breaths, and that just happens to match the research.

If you’re a beginning meditator you might well respond to the discipline of 15 minutes everyday when starting out. But if you’re anything like me, I know you’re out there, it might be all you can do to sit for 5 minutes, 3 minutes (?) when you first start.

I say do it anyway.

I say yes,  the measurable benefits might not kick in until farther down the road. And, in order to travel that road, you have to step onto it, maybe even just for a minute so you can see that it isn’t too rocky or dangerous. “Learning” to meditate is really about learning about you anyway, so why not start here, now, right where you are?

Today I meditated by saying “yes” on my inhale and “and” on my exhale. Try it if you want and let me know how it goes.

If you like this sort of thing, here’s some new research on changes in the brain due to meditation     917.450.1524

Dissolving a Habit

If you like this kind of thing- tips and tools for self-coaching- you can sign up for the Move Into Change Newsletter here. Below is an example of one type of content you’ll get.


The sink in my new home is across from the stove to the right instead of beside me to the left, the way it was in my old place. No big deal, except each time I want the sink I turn to the left before I realize that it’s the other way.

This habit of turning to the left worked well in the old kitchen situation but doesn’t here. That’s the way it is with habits. They may have worked before but now, they don’t.

50shousewifeNo, not really me.:)

Habits exist so that we don’t have to think so much.

Imagine if we didn’t create habits. We’d be rethinking all things all the time. We’d be up in the middle of the night deciding which way to get to the bathroom, or thinking about how to form the letter “a” while trying to write our thoughts.

We’d be exhausted and still never get beyond inventing the wheel…or to the toilet in time.

Habits, a.k.a, patterns, put us on “automatic,” resulting in large parts of our lives being better. Easier.

We can thank our brains for this ability to be efficient.     Basal_Ganglia_and_Related_Structures.svg

The Basal Ganglia, is a big player in habit making.

Every habit we have serves a purpose, some way it made our life better at the time we made it, though that purpose may not be as simple, or obvious, as getting to the sink quickly with a hot pot of pasta.

So what to do when a pattern no longer helps us?

When the mindlessness of “automatic” makes it difficult to be as healthy, productive, creative, kind, or as loving as we desire it’s time for a change.

Luckily, our brilliant brains are adaptable too. Some patterns re-adjust or shift on their own, subconsciously, the same way they are made. I’m sure that I’ll soon have a new pattern in the kitchen and that cute little spin I do at the stove will disappear.

It’s trickier when a habit  doesn’t change on its own.

If it’s an old habit, chances are it’s not going to shift as easily as my kitchen example. At this point, dissolving a pattern requires coaxing its reasons for being out from the gray world of rote behavior into the brighter light of gentle inquisitiveness.

It requires mindfulness.

And a plan.

A plan unique to you.

I hope you’ll use the following 5 elements to craft such a plan. When I work with clients I use these very same elements. A recent client stopped smoking, another is exercising every day, and another is making different food choices. I quit biting my nails years ago by incorporating these elements into a plan.

  • Do things that help you learn about yourself and your body like journaling, meditation,  PauseAbilities,yoga, therapy, energy work.
  • Find ways to quiet the judging and shaming yourself for having this habit, or waiting too long or not moving fast enough or whatever way you shame or “should” yourself.
  •  Start learning about the needs you are meeting by maintaining this habit. There can be more than one current one, and older ones too.
  • A. Cut down slowly and intentionally. B. Introduce new behavior that meets the needs behind the habit.
  • Celebrate the small victories! They add up and keep momentum flowing.

All 5 elements are equally important to creating the type of plan that doesn’t emphasize outer or inner work, but integrates the two.If you like this, please share it. Responses, comments and questions are always welcome.


Meditation Monday Day #100: Ta Da!

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Yay we did it!  I’m feeling quite good about this one hundredth day of meditation practice. 100 pats on the back, 100 butterfly kisses, 100 imaginary trumpets, and/or 100 bags of sparkles – whatever celebration floats your boat. Let’s just say, I’ve never been this consistent about meditation. Ever. Cue the dancing girls – wait, I am the dancing girl!

So what’s come out of it so far?

Beyond the bits of discovery about going in reverse to go forward, and finding new capacity for receiving compassion, which, by the way, would have been enough, I’ve noticed that when I don’t meditate I can feel the difference- big time. I didn’t really get that until this morning, when for the third day in a row I was avoiding sitting, and noticed that despite yoga practice, I’ve been weirdly ungrounded and unfocused for the past few days. Ding.

Yeah, “duh,” but instead of going down the beat myself up for not getting it sooner road (I know you know that one), I sat. And, ohm my goodness…the difference. There it was. I’ve leaped from meditation as an experiment in commitment and self-compassion into the realm of, this s–t is important to me.

So what now what? In anticipation of this day I’ve been thinking and poking around on the internet. I found the 21 Day Meditation Challenge with Deprak Chopra and Oprah (ChOprah?), which started in March, but can be downloaded for free anytime. Not my cup of tea, but could be yours. I found an old book on meditation and there’s some interesting meditation techniques in there that I might try, though this mindfulness mind training is pretty great.

Any suggestions of what I might try next?

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Meditation Monday Day #93: What!

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93 days. What?!?

When I started this challenge I really had no idea how it would go. I picked 100 Breaths in 100 Days because I liked the way it sounded, truly, no other reason. Two weeks in, I was sure I’d made too big a commitment and wouldn’t able to write about meditating everyday, let alone do it. Or is that the other way around?

Anyway, there’s something here to be remembered about commitment; the power of a public commitment (hey, like marriage, you be-robed jurists in Washington) and something else about moving through a big hunky project a little bit at a time. At some point in these past 93 days I forgot about the goal, and in the forgetting I let go of ever being done. Then whoa, here I am seven days away from the “end” just noticing that I never expected it to be over. And, of course it doesn’t have to be.

More about that next time.

 How’s it going for you?

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  • photo detail from Breathing by Anne Lindberg at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art

You might want to check out too. That’s where there’s info about coaching and coaching with me. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

 How’s it going for you?

If you like what you read, please share it. Thanks.

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You might want to check out too. That’s where there’s info about coaching and coaching with me. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Meditation Monday Day #86: Now

Even though it’s still cold, spring is here. I see the crocuses and the daffodil shoots aiming toward the sun, a sun that feels warmer on my cheeks than just a month ago. When I awaken early, the birds are singing their spring song, and I am reminded of the continual renewal around me; a wheel that keeps turning whether I acknowledge it or not.

Soft curving melody, bird song lifts my morning mood.

Yes, I know it’s Tuesday. It’s been a tough week for meditation practice. When the moment came each day, it seemed like everything, er, anything, was more important than doing it. What’s going on here?

I’m going to approach answering that question keeping the larger commitment I’ve made to myself – out of which Meditation Monday grew – to treat myself with as much compassion ( = love) that I can stand. Here goes:

  •  “What’s going to happen when the 100 days are over?” I’m hearing that  I’m in the car, when I wake up, before I sit to meditate… ahhh…there it is. Ahead of myself. Expectations. Thinking I have to know something I don’t know yet.
  • And, there’s a hint of sadness, too. Will something be lost when the commitment 100 Days 100 Breaths is over? I can sense the desire to rush in and protect myself from feeling it. Hello there default mode.I see you.
  • Truth is, I don’t know what this is right now, I only know what I think it is from before. I can go there and watch it with 100 breaths.

I’ll go now.

How’s it going for you?

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Meditation Monday Day #78: Stepping Out and In Again

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Oh man, just when you think you’ve “got it,” the next bit of learning beckons. Usually it comes in some form of an obstacle. Today, its name is frustration.

After a week of smooth meditation practice in which breaths came and went in variations on the theme of Hello, Goodbye, today’s practice started out like a night of tossing and turning. All over the place and no place at all.

First, I try reining myself in with an image of a horse at the bit. That feels harsh and my body contracts. Next I imagine my breaths as a rabble of butterflies captured in a net for observation. Somehow, even though the net is gauzy, it feels wrong and damaging to the butterflies’ wings to boot. The butterflies are flinging themselves at the confinement of the net and seem more agitated than before. Yikes, I’m creating resistance to the very thing I want.

What is it I want? I want a butterfly to alight and then settle on a flower, calm. In order to have that, I can’t capture it, I must invite it. I must unfold petals and offer Presence*. I’ve forgotten Presence; no, not forgotten – stepped out of it. Presence is the opposite of force.Narcissus unfoldingI can step into it again, remembering that a flower doesn’t question its ability to be a flower.

* Presence: The state of being that includes all experience with awareness, gentle curiosity,  and compassion (taken fromFocusing work).

How’s it going for you?

Want to ask a private question? email:             You might want to check out too. That’s where there’s info about coaching and coaching with me. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thank you.

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out too. That’s where there’s info about coaching and coaching with me. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.