What's on the other side of doubt and fear? This.Read More
What is Project Fabulous Femme anyways?
Pulling back the curtain on how me and my task list stay organized.Read More
Way back in January, did you notice how everyone seemed to be coming up with their 3-word vision for 2014? It was going to be the MOST EPIC and MOST UNBELIEVABLY FUCKING AWESOME year of their WHOLE LIFE EVER because they had three words written to describe themselves, their businesses or their hopes and aspirations for all of 2014.
I’m not going to lie: I get excited about a lot of stuff. I can be damn near evangelical when I’ve had a great experience in any way, shape or form. But there’s just something about lemming hype that gives me a special sort of pause. I’m never one to jump off a bridge just because everyone else was doin’ it, especially when it seemed impractical.
Honestly, New Year’s Day has started to really gross me out, especially as a health & lifestyle professional. It’s become a time for gimmicky fast fixes, yet quick returns to old habits. That’s not my style. So, this create-your-3-word sword exercise that will radically slay all of your shortcomings was banned from my task list in 2014.
So, I thought…
As an entrepreneur, I often set aside time to be creative and introspective about my business and how I can better fit into it. I found a writing exercise that asked me to write down the first 10 words that describe me. Nothing like a beach-y change in scenery over Independence Day to get the creative juices flowing.
Fierce Pragmatic Irreverent Empathetic Intuitive Scrappy Creative Committed Energetic Whipsmart
Done and done. Then, I gasped when I saw the next instruction:
“Good. Now use the first three words on that list…” Sometimes, you have to eat those words.
What are YOUR 10 words? How about sharing them in the comments below?
For those who didn't catch me on WWLP's Mass Appeal last Friday, here's an easy, breezy dish to whip up when company comes a-calling. The complete recipe is below, too.
- 1 ripe avocado
- Juice of one-half lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8-oz. frozen green peas, steamed or sautéed
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large carrot, cut into thin rounds (or flowers)
- 30 small pumpernickel rounds, baguette slices or gluten-free crackers
Add all ingredients, except bread/cracker, into food processor or blender. Pulse to combine taking care to not over-blend. Top each round with spread and add carrot garnish.
While rebooting and recharging off the grid at a wifi-free Québécois lake house, I recognized how time bankrupt I was during my LLS Woman of the Year campaign. While I recognized that the campaign was a temporary, 10-week sprint, that pace was entirely unsustainable and, let's be real, totally undesirable to me. If I was working (yes, I'm loathe to admit this as a health + lifestyle gal) 14+ hour days, watching my task list accumulate, and dreaming about projects that I wanted to be doing, something was busted. Come hell or lakefront high water, I wasn't returning from Canada to that frazzly pace again.
Ever an accountant, I ran some numbers while my husband, Craig, slept in one morning. That single investment of 15 minutes of my time has yielded huge shifts in both my personal and my entrepreneurial lives. When I say huge shifts, I mean things like stepping down from a board of directors, saying no to several events, starting a big, scary, yet exciting, creative project and actually seeing people I love without 3-6 week advance notice.
Want to try it? Here's what you need: a piece of paper, a pen, 15 minutes, and a calculator for those of you who dislike subtraction.
Write down the number 168 at the top of the page. Just do it. Unless you've figured out a way to time-travel, 168 is the great equalizer. We all get 168 hours each week to spend.
Now, let's spend those hours. From 168, list out and start substracting how much time you need to:
- Sleep (Hint: Anything less than 49-56 here is going to negatively impact the quality of the remaining 112-119 hours.)
- Food prep + eating + dining
- Bathing + hygiene
- Exercise + movement
- Work + commute
- Family/social relationships
- Anything else to which you're currently commited or eats your time in any way, shape or form. Seriously, list it out.
You're going to end up with a number. If that number is:
- <0: Come on back to the realm of reality, home skillet. You don't get more than 168 hours. Something has to give before your health and sanity does. What can you let go of to at least break even and avoid feeling like a failure each week?
- 0-7: This means that you only average 1 hour each day to react to things like traffic, spills, sickness or whatever unexpected curveball The Universe might pitch at you, as well as last minute opportunities. What activities are you willing to trade to have more wiggle room in your own life and feel more satisfied?
- 7+: You have a little room to breathe and react, but are you happy with how you're spending your time currently? Where can you be a little more strategic?
What's your number?
Driving this number (and your overall health) up is what I do. I'm here to help. Here's how.
Thank you. Two super small words, but imagine for a minute that they are made of molten platinum and stand about 100 feet tall. That might begin to approximate the gratitude I feel for your support over the wild 10 weeks of my Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year campaign.
Here are some highlights:
- 1000+ people learned about my childhood friend, Pat "Noodle" Newell, as the 10 year anniversary of his passing looms
- Planned 2 events attended by 225+ people, including A Night for Noodle in my hometown
- Won the LLS 2014 Mission Award for "demonstrating exceptional outreach and advocacy through the campaign" (and was introduced as a "spitfire")
- Raised $41,256 in 10 weeks
While I didn't get the official Woman of the Year title, let's be real: I won the moment that I said yes. The decision made my stomach churn for about 24 hours while the critical Itty Bitty Shitty Committee in my head whirled it up. What the hell do you know about fundraising? You're not even a blood cancer survivor. Why would anyone care what you have to say? You're a little woman from a little town with a little business. You've never raised more than $3K. Who do you think you are saying you'll raise $37K? I could go on and on, but you catch my drift, right?
Here's the thing: I've made way bigger, scary, criticism-inciting changes in my life. I've lived to tell about all of them. By day, I'm privleged to catalyze and support other women who want to make their own stain on the world. (Seriously, I have the BEST job ever!) How could I say no? Sally Ekus, who is a leukemia survivor herself and a kindred badass, with a wave of her nominating wand presented me with an enormous gift - a chance to grow, learn, connect and do something soul-smooching.
For those of you who ever question whether you are enough to do this or that, stop overthinking it. You are. The opportunity wouldn't be in front of you if you were anything less than enough. Did it look like I knew what I was doing during the campaign? Quite possibly. Because, when I said yes, I had about 10% of a clue about what I was doing. However, I trusted that I could figure the other 90% out or knew someone who already had. Hell, it's not like LLS was asking me to perform a bone marrow transplant. It was figureoutable, especially to a super-organized nerd like me who had a Franklin planner by 7th grade. (Yeah, that's right, even before Covey got all up in that.)
It also helped that a fantastic team came together - Andrea Landry, Craig Snyder, Rob Berthiaume, Sally Ekus, and Sarah Williams (East Coast) plus Brian White and Robbi Rucker (West Coast). Pat's mom and stepdad, Mary and Bob "G" Pepin, dove in, plus countless others. Much to my amazement, these friends, old and new, said yes or just showed up with their sleeves rolled up and ready to rock. It took a shit-ton of emails, texts, phone calls and a planning meeting at our kitchen table, but we got it done (and done well, I might add). Brandy Morris, Brilliance Instigator, cheered me on every couple weeks and gave me the space to think things out. Megan Atkinson, Ruckus Maker Extraordinaire, got my vision and helped me create the irreverent look of the campaign that made me terrifically excited, instead of nervous, on launch day.
Then came all the kind-hearted and generous supporters like you. When I opened my heart, you opened your wallets, schedules and/or Facebook pages to help. Whether it came as an unsuspected act of kindness, an email, a comment or a note, someone managed to make me cry tears of joy and amazement at least once a day since late February. Literally, for 3 months, I've been totally drunk on the milk of human kindness (and mildly dehydrated). When you give people the opportunity to do something good or helpful, they will fucking amaze you about 99% of the time. Try it and see for yourself. No, really, try something that scares you more than a little bit and trust that you can figure it out along the way. You'll have to get over yourself and ask for help. You'll botch stuff up, but then you'll get it right. You'll learn. You'll grow. You'll connect with others. You'll make a difference. You'll be different in some really radical ways.
With loving thanks from the bottom of my bursting heart + a virtual hug that will squeeze the air out of you,
PS: I won't be emailing you about the campaign any more. If you'd like to stay in touch, do consider getting on The List. I'll pop into your inbox monthly-ish to say hello and always be a reply away.
These days, one of my favorite moments is when I tell a prospective client or a fellow health practitioner that I was a Certified Public Accountant for more than a decade. Peoples’ reactions range from a jaw-drop to comments about how I don’t look like an accountant to unabashed dismissal. As the character Holly Golightly once said, “It’s useful being the top banana in the shock department.”
People commonly assume that CPAs only do taxes. Not true. I was a CPA who got my start in troubled debt restructuring and bankruptcy for one of the largest global firms. Basically, a failing company’s leadership called us when the financial shit hit the proverbial fan. Then, a team of us would arrive to interview people, triage the situation, attempt to stop the cash flow hemorrhaging, functionally look at what may have caused the problem and create a plan to control the chaos.
The industry was fast-paced, high-stress, high-travel, and male-dominated. For me, it was a gut-rotting job that forced me to self-educate on healing my own roiling guts. No hyperbole here: I used to eat a giant bottle of antacids every 2 weeks and regularly cogitate publicly shitting my pants in the airport terminal vs. while scampering over people and luggage on the airplane. Don’t even get me started about that seatbelt light. I was just so fucking busy working (and rotting) that I had no idea health coaches even existed or a doctor could do more than slap a name on my condition. So, I did what I’ve always done when I want to know something: I hit the books. Anatomy books. Nutrition books. Self-help books that I sometimes wrapped in brown paper bags to avoid the prying eyes of coworkers or old dudes on 1st class flights who had way too many drinks.
Applying the sometimes contradictory theories and research proved a lot more challenging, especially considering the Type-A lifestyle I was leading with full-tilt New York swagger. The double-whammy was my double-Ivy-Leagued doctor’s reticence to even discuss the effects of dietary or lifestyle changes. Eventually, I did what I was trained to do. I took a data-driven, systematic approach and interviewed myself about the results. What happens when I get 6 hours of sleep at night instead of 4? What happens when I eat a salad vs. Chinese takeout for lunch every day this week? What happens if I stop dating narcissists? What happens if I worked for an employer devoid of partners who joked, “Associates are like pencils: Break one; buy another?” It took me years of trial and error, but I shed about 20% of the old physical me and stopped eating antacids like some demented food group. Most importantly, I stopped nearly shitting my pants in public on a regular basis.
That said, it’s endlessly amusing when people almost instantly question my ability to help my clients improve their overall health. You haven’t taken organic chemistry??? Gasp!!! (You can add any other dogmatic belief that mentally stymies people here.) It also signifies a blatant misunderstanding of the role of a health coach, or as I like to call myself, a health + lifestyle strategist. Because as I see it, I’m applying the same skills in a more personally fulfilling way. Let’s be honest: No one reaches out to me because they feel awesome. 100% of the time my clients are experiencing something incredibly painful or frustrating. Because I feel “data” is so essential to the process, I have clients start considering their own “data” even before our very first session. Once we start talking, it’s about presenting questions and critically thinking about the interconnectedness of different areas of their lives. Together, we evaluate where things aren’t functioning so well and strategize how to make a plan to improve them. We test and collect more data. We measure according to plan and adjust as necessary.
Whether it’s bankrupt companies or health-bankrupt people, it’s still turnaround work. Except now, I just get more hugs and gratitude from my awe-inspiring clients.