Saving Our Sanity During the Holidays: Community Life Coaching Can Help

Price: $2.00 /per person

We all know that although the holidays can be wonderful, stress detracts from holiday joy. Join us at a coaching workshop to clarify what’s most important in the holidays. Decide what you can say “no” to so that you can say “yes” to what you love the most. We’ll make individual plans for minimizing stress so that the truly valuable aspects of the season can shine.

Light refreshments will be served.

I’ve had many years experience as both a coach and human in managing my own holidays, and helping others get the most out of theirs.

Davis Square · Somerville, MA


I’ll give address and directions before the Meet-Up to “yes” RSVPers

Location image of event venue


Meet-Up Coaching Workshop Oct. 20 from 10:30-12

I’m excited to share that I have started a Meet-Up Group: Aspire Life Coaching Community. I will be hosting our first workshop on Saturday, October 20 from 10:30-12 in Davis Square Somerville. Hope you will consider coming. It’s a great (and inexpensive: only $2.00–no that is not a typo–) way to explore coaching in a supportive setting.

Here’s the link for more info: Autumn Energy: Community Coaching to Make Your Aspirations a Reality


Lasting Habit Change

I’m delighted that an article I wrote about lasting habit change has been published in the Ace-Up Blog.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

When I decided to start a coaching practice specializing in work with artists and athletes I was full of doubts. In fact, I can’t say I decided to start it: I thought it would be fun to incorporate my love of the arts and sports with my work (which I also love.) And then I came up with a million reasons for why I couldn’t do it.

When I finally got sick and tired of the excuses and decided to give it a go, I had very little (read: no) confidence. So, I decided to use one of the techniques I would use in my coaching practice (should I ever get out of my own way) on myself. This technique, Resource Installation, involves building up the qualities I’d need to successfully meet the challenge of starting the coaching practice.

I asked myself, in keeping with the protocol for the technique,  “When had I been confident?” I hit a wall immediately. I was never the kid who believed I could do anything. On the contrary, I believed there were many things I could not do. “I could never be a lifeguard,” I thought, even though I loved swimming. Another thought, “I‘ll never be Miss America.”

I despaired of coming up with a memory of a time I was really confident. None came to me. But what I did remember was just as useful: that I tried something even though I didn’t think I could do it. It was summer camp and I was 11. Our challenge was to swim ¼ mile in the lake. This sounded like a ridiculously long distance. But, what the heck, I was being told to do it so I tried it.

You guessed it: I swam the ¼ mile. I was SO excited! So, this is the memory I used to begin to build my confidence for this adult endeavor. The realization that, no, I wasn’t convinced I could swim the distance but I was willing to try anyway helped me have the confidence that maybe, just maybe, I could get this business together. And I didn’t have to worry about whether I believed I could or not; all I had to do was try my best and stick with it. Turns out gumption and persistence are a pretty good combination.

I still smile when I think of that 11-year old girl getting out of the water, dumbfounded at having gone the distance. Even though she never did become a lifeguard. Or Miss America.

Foiling Mental Filter

Photo by Nicole LeBlanc

In mental filter you obscure the positives and only see the negatives. If there had been Mental Filter championships I would have been a contender. This is still one of my weaker links. (When I review evaluations of my workshops I still have to force myself to focus on the majority of positives instead of on the few negatives.) To illustrate mental filter I return to my piano-accompaniment experience. How many pages of sheet music did I get through competently? It was a medley and so I’m going to go with a conservative estimate of 8. Let’s say there were 20 bars of music on each page. 8 X 20 = 160. That means that I successfully played 152 bars of music, yet I stopped playing piano in public for years because I dropped out for 8 bars. A bit of overreacting, wouldn’t you say?

How do you foil mental filter? As with most thinking errors, first ask yourself, “What is the evidence that everything I did was lousy?” Note the aspects that were acceptable or even good. Some people find that imagining they are evaluating a friend helps them be more objective. You can ask trusted friends and colleagues for honest feedback. Keep an open mind about the positive things they say.

Remember the question, “Is this thought useful?” Again, it can be helpful to acknowledge the negatives so that you can work on them. This is different from totally ignoring the positives. Since a big part of improving is building on the positives, mental filter is actually destructive.

I hope you’ll soon enjoy beginning to see things clearly rather than through the fog of mental filter.

It’s Never Too Late

Head of the Charles


Rowing Club“It’s never too late.” Trite phrase, I know. But I met someone recently who personifies this. Kelley Kassa (front row center) is a petite woman who aspired to be an athlete, but believed she could not pursue sports because of her stature. So, she did the next best thing: learned to play marching band instruments and participated in athletic events as a member of the band.

Fast-forward a decade or two. She joins Community Rowing ( Keep in mind that ideal rowers are long and lean. After 16 years of rowing on and off (the off years due mostly to the economy and work situations) she is invited to join a shell from Quinsigamond Rowing in the Head of the Charles Regatta. The shell is short (pun intended) a few rowers. Kelley says asking if a rower wants to crew the Head of the Charles is like asking a football player, “Would you like to play in the Super Bowl?”

Yes, she says. And this is where sports and life converge. Kelley, an accomplished marketing communications professional, says that her parents never required her to work hard. In fact, they discouraged her from setting big goals because they wanted to protect her from disappointment. Kelley grabbed the opportunity to change this life pattern even as she worried she might succumb to a habit of inconsistency.

Once she committed Kelley knew that simply participating wasn’t enough; she wanted to row as well as she could. After 6 weeks of early morning workouts with Quinsigamond (while continuing to practice with Community Rowing and work full-time) Kelley rowed the Head of the Charles, putting heart, soul, body, and mind into it.

The experience changed Kelley’s life. Setting and working towards goals, such as trying out for a competitive team, is now routine. While telling me her story she refers to herself as an athlete and smiling, says that it’s still hard to believe that she can—finally—call herself an athlete.

Article in “Swimming World Magazine”

With Associate Head Coach Nancy Bigelow and Head Coach Adam Hoyt

On November 12 I had the wonderful opportunity to facilitate workshops on preparing for competition with the Tufts University swimming and diving teams.

A few days later I discovered that I had been quoted extensively in the following article, which will serve as my blog this time. Enjoy.

Neutralizing overgeneralizing

Flying white bird small Photo by Nicole LeBlanc

To refresh your memory, take a look at my most recent post. ( See below to address overgeneralization using the questions we’ve been talking about.

1) What’s the evidence that your thought is accurate?
“Never” hasn’t happened yet so you don’t know if you’ll never practice or compose/write/ draw/design. (Note: this is also jumping to conclusions because you’re predicting the future.)
If you practiced yesterday or last month or 5 years ago, then the statement that you “never” practice is clearly false. Also, if you are ruthlessly honest you may find that you have already composed/written/drawn/designed and that you have gotten some good calls from officials.

2) What are alternative explanations?
Not sure if this applies. What do you think? Let me know if you see the relevance of looking for alternative explanations here.

3) What are the implications?
Not career changing or life altering. You can practice again any time you choose. You can take another look at what you put on canvas/paper/computer. Calls by officials will probably vary from fair to unfair.

4) Is the thought useful?
Again, hard to see how such thoughts are going to encourage and motivate you.


Man painting

This multisyllable thinking error has a lot in common with all-or-nothing thinking. You interpret one thing as “a never-ending pattern of defeat.” (David Burns, MD)

Remember my story of dropping out for 4 bars while accompanying the chorus on piano? I made it into a never-ending pattern of defeat by never even trying again. By, in essence, “retiring” at age 13. (Though, happily, I came out of “retirement” eventually.)

One of your teammates blows his coverage assignment and you say, “He never stays with his guy.”
You have a day when you don’t like anything you put on canvas/paper/computer and you say, “I don’t have what it takes to paint/draw/write/design.”

A referee makes a lousy (in your humble opinion) call and you think, “I’m always getting the lousy calls. I never can get a break.”

When you find yourself over-generalizing ask yourself the questions we’ve been going over, such as: What’s the evidence? What are alternative explanations? What are the implications? Is this a useful thought?

Next time I’ll weigh in with my thoughts on some of these questions.

Digging In

Discounting the Positive

It took the intervention of a really good supervisor (and the persistence of my husband) to break this habit. A specialty of mine was laughing off compliments by saying something self-deprecating in a humorous way. Maybe something like, “Yeah, sure, but I didn’t exactly achieve world peace.”

What is “discounting the positive”? You find ways to say that what you did accomplish doesn’t count. “I had a generous judge.” “It’s always easy for me to work in pastels.” “I copped that idea from someone else.” “I swim fast because I have long arms.” “Anyone else could have done it.”

1) What is the evidence?
Everyone else had the same generous judge. Since there’s nothing new under the sun, maybe you did cop that idea but you also put your particular spin on it. Maybe you have long arms; but not everyone with long arms can swim, let alone swim fast. Maybe anyone else could have done it; but did they?

2) What are alternative explanations?
That someone else created that piece? That someone else swam your race? I don’t think so.

3) What are the implications?
Maybe you did get lucky this once. Maybe you did “borrow” someone else’s idea. Maybe you do have long arms. None of that takes away from the totality of your efforts in your art or sport. You’ll find that out if you only rely on getting lucky, or stop practicing because you’re relying on your long arms, or only look at others’ ideas to make good, creative work.

4) Is this thought useful? I doubt it. What do you think?

A coach can both help you see if and when you fall into this trap, and also be a great cheerleader for all the positives you do.