Discover the Power of ADHD/ADD Coaching

Why are the top organizations and leaders in the field of ADHD/ADD now recommending coaching as an effective and important part of treatment? 

Because it works.  And don’t just take my word for it.

Widely respected organizations and individuals such as the National Institute of Mental Health, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD), Russell Barkley (ADHD: A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment), Edward Hallowell (Driven to Distraction), and the Edge Foundation, have endorsed Coaching as a vital missing link for achieving success.

Drs. Barkley and Hallowell both agree that with effective treatment, including therapy, and notably, coaching, individuals with ADHD/ADD can achieve their potential.

If you’ve been hearing about ADD Coaching, and you’re considering trying it out, here’s what I consider to be the  Top 3 Reasons why it’s so empowering:

1.  Focus. It helps you stay focused and on task with setting and achieving goals through continual positive encouragement and support. This leads to feeling more in control, having more confidence, being more accountable, and achieving more success in managing many aspects of life.

First, in their book, “Driven to Distraction” (Pantheon Books, New York, 1994), Hallowell and Ratey say: “We particularly like the idea of a coach. …It may be a friend or a colleague, anyone who knows something about ADD and is willing to put in the time–ten or fifteen minutes a day–to coach. …The person with ADD will greatly benefit from having a ‘coach,’ someone standing on the sidelines with a whistle around his neck calling out encouragement, instructions, and reminders, and in general helping to keep things going on task. People with ADD thrive with this sort of structured encouragement, and they feel lost without it… Mainly, the coach keeps the player focused on the task at hand and offers encouragement along the way.”

2.  Strengths and gifts. Helps you uncover and develop your strengths so you can cultivate your creative gifts. This leads to feeling a deeper connection with the positive aspects of your ADD.   

“In the midst of all the chaos swirling through your brain, all the disorganization and impulsiveness, the condition (ADHD) also seems to trigger a certain kind of creativity.” – David Neeleman, 
CEO of JetBlue

Other brilliant, creative minds who are believed to have, or have had, ADD, to name a few: Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Thomas Edison, Einstein, Ben Franklin, Mozart, Van Gogh, Picasso, Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Frank Lloyd Wright.

3.  Better understanding of ADD.  Helps you understand the latest research in ADD and develop strategies to take action and better manage common ADD challenges.  This leads to feeling more informed (knowledge is power), and feeling like you have tools you can use to start creating the future you want.

The major ADD challenge areas that most coaches work on are:

  • goal setting
  • scheduling
  • organizing
  • confidence building
  • focusing
  • prioritizing
  • persisting at tasks

This is an exciting time in ADHD/ADD research. The expansion of knowledge in genetics, brain imaging, and behavioral research is leading to a better understanding of causes and how to develop more effective treatments.  A qualified coach who is knowledgeable about ADD is an invaluable resource to support your success.

What’s more important than your success with ADD and your overall well-being?  Taking the first step in reaching out to hire a coach is the hardest part.  What’s keeping you from doing it?  Coaching has been helping thousands of people, so call one today and find out if coaching can help you too.

I hope this article helped you to see the benefits of ADD Coaching, and inspired you to contact a coach and discover for yourself, the power of ADD Coaching.

Valerie Davis-Rucker is a Certified Life, Executive and ADD Coach with Here2there Coaching. To learn more about Valerie, visit her website at, or email her at

A How-to Guide for Career Changes in Mid-life – 10 Steps

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”   – George Eliot

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor….  Explore. Dream. Discover.”  – Mark Twain

Are you feeling like it’s time to recreate or reinvent yourself for a mid-life career transition due to:

  • A recent job loss?
  • Dissatisfaction with your current job?
  • A new interest, or desire to revisit something you wish you would have pursued?
  • Wanting a change, a new challenge, work that’s more meaningful or satisfying?

You’re not alone.  Recent research in career development shows that people change jobs, and even careers, as much as 7 to 10 times in their working life.  I’ve done it myself, with about 4-5 different jobs/careers since college.

If you’re someone who’s known what you wanted to do since a young age, that’s great. How many of you knew in middle school what you wanted to do? high school? college? after college? grad school? after grad school?  2nd grad school?  after that?  Well, that last one would be me.  And this seems to be more the norm than not.

Experiencing a midlife career change and seeking career advice is a growing trend for us over 40 types who thrive on change and personal growth.  Whatever your reasons, it’s important to have a plan. Thoughts and ideas about it are great, though nothing’s going to happen until you take action.

10 Action Steps

 1. Ask yourself if you feel it’s time for a change.  If so, what kind?

What’s going on for you that’s having you feel like it’s time for a career change? Could you make changes in your current job to make it more satisfying and meaningful? Are there HR people you can speak with about other opportunities within your company? Do you want to explore other career ideas and possibilities?

 2. Make an inventory of your accomplishments & competencies.

List your valuable experiences and successes in all your life roles, not just professional jobs.  Write down everything you do well and ask others to share their perceptions.  Organizing big social events, coaching kids’ sports, being a class mom, can demonstrate leadership and organizational
 skills.  Maybe you  manage your family’s finances, or you volunteer with, or serve on boards of things like the PTA, Toastmasters, community groups or non-profits.

3. List the things you absolutely love to do

What did you love doing as a child (in elementary/middle school) that you still love?  If you weren’t limited by money or time, what would you be doing? What’s the quality of that experience?  If you listened to and followed your heart, what is it saying?  How would you spend your ideal day?  Imagine the physical setting you’d be in –Indoors? Outdoors? Small room or large open space? Few people or many? What kind of people are around? How would you be relating to them? What activities would you engage in? Is it structured or flexible? What’s the pace? Are you more relaxed or excited?

4.  List your values & satisfactions

What matters most to you and why?  Consider values like autonomy, altruism, creativity, respect, family, community, power, financial gain or independence, intellectual stimulation, leadership, knowledge, travel, etc.  What’s the #1 problem you’d solve in the world if you could?  Why? Where do you derive the greatest satisfaction? Doing things that help others? Working in a team with other people? Working alone? Doing activities that produce tangible results? Traveling?

5.  Gather Information

Once you have your lists of accomplishments, skills, competencies, values, and passions, you can start gathering information on careers that fit your personal description. Your goal is to create a list of options, not to find the one “right” career.  Include every job that intrigues you, regardless of whether you have the required skills for it. Research people and companies you admire and respect in different career fields. Check your alumni association for names of people with whom you can connect.  Check out professional associations.  Ask your friends, either in person or on social media, if they know anyone.  Search the Internet and college/university career libraries. One resource is Bureau of Labor Statistics and their  Occupational Outlook Handbook at  If interested, take some personality assessments that provide suggestions for careers you’d be well suited for. A great site for these types of tests is  It’s also important to gather information in the area of your financial situation, in order to figure out what you need to make this change, and how you’ll manage financially as you move through the process.

6.  Do informational interviews

Contact people in that field to ask if you could do an informational interview. Ask your potential interviewee if they’d be willing to spend 15-20 minutes with you to discuss their work, either on the phone or in person.  Come up with a list of questions, such as:  How did they get into the field?  What did they wish they knew when they first started? What education, skills, credentials, qualities are needed to break into the field to be successful? What are some positive and negative aspects of the job? etc.

7.  Narrow Your Focus

As you complete the previous steps, you’ll become more clear, focused, and you’ll narrow down your options. When you’ve narrowed it down to what you really want, volunteer or take a short-term, part-time position to see how this new career would feel.  Or take some classes to see if you want to pursue further studies. If you like it and it’s something you can afford to do now, great. If not now, how can you prepare yourself financially so you can be in a position to make the change in the near future?

8.  Write down your Vision & Mission Statements

I believe it’s just as important for individuals as it is for organizations to create these.  I found this exercise a great way to help me figure out the future I want to create, and map out how I’m going to make it happen. And whether or not I end up being successful or not, it’s something important enough for me to commit myself to for its own sake, not because I’m attached to an outcome. It’s worth doing whether I succeed or fail. (For more information on criteria that goes into creating these statements, please see one of my previous blog posts).  Here are my examples:

My Personal Vision Statement

“I see the expansion of human consciousness and greater wellbeing through the increased understanding of neuroscience and the growth of effective mindfulness and empowerment techniques from the merging fields of psychology, Eastern spirituality, yoga, education and life coaching.” 

My Mission Statement

“My mission is to empower people to better understand themselves by providing the highest quality of coaching that focuses on the whole person; by cultivating my own personal awareness and growth; by staying current on latest developments in neuroscience, psychology, education and coaching; by speaking and connecting with people on a deep and authentic level; by freely sharing ideas, theories and models of empowerment in the forms of workshops, public speaking, writing and coaching; by staying committed to my yoga practice, embodying those tools both on and off the mat; and by using all appropriate therapeutic approaches and evidence-based modalities to achieve optimal health and well-being.

9.  Be patient.

How often do you hear this?  Of course it’s easier said than done, especially in the early stages of a career change. Being patient is something I continue to feel frustrated about, which is why it’s one of my top priorities to work on in 2012. Find strategies that work for you to help you reduce the stress and anxiety that naturally come from this process.  For me, it’s my yoga practice and hikes with my dog and friends, or just spending time at home with family. Don’t underestimate the importance of getting support from friends, family, a coach, career counselor, etc.

10.  Trust the process.

Also, easier said than done.  However, if you go through all the previous steps, and you align with your heart and deeper values and commit to staying on that path, it can only lead to something positive, meaningful and fulfilling.  Also, think back to when you went through similar situations. How did you get through them and what worked to help you then that might work again now?  Or what were the lessons you took away from those experiences that grew you in a way you didn’t expect?  Is there a way of seeing how those experiences can help you trust the process you’re in now?

Taking a reflective stance is essential in developing yourself and transforming your thoughts and actions to successfully recreate or reinvent yourself.

Here are a few more challenging questions to be asking yourself in this process:

  • Who are you? 
Who do you want to be? What needs to shift in order to bridge that gap?
  • What do you want – really?
  • What’s important to you?
  • What are your dreams, hopes and aspirations?
  • Where do you want to be in 6 months, one year, 3 years?
  • What options do you have?
  • Are you ready to recreate or reinvent your life?
  • What would you regret not doing in your lifetime?
  • What subject would you go back to study?
  • What are your deepest conversations obsessing about?
  • Who do you find yourself voluntarily spending time with? What might that be an indication of?

I hope this helps to stimulate your thought process if you are considering a career change in mid life, or anytime. If you’re interested in working with me on this issue, these are the kinds of coaching questions we would explore and discuss together.

I look forward to hearing from you if you’d like to provide feedback on this article, or if you’d like to contact me about a possible coaching relationship.

What are you going to commit to in 2012 that will be an investment in your future?

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”   – George Eliot

Happy New Year!! 10 Takeaways from 2011

10 Takeaways from 2011

  1. Santa still comes and is very generous, even during challenging economic times.
  2. Challenging economic times makes me more focused on, and appreciative of, how much I do have, and how much I don’t need.
  3. I do need to start knitting my gift scarves earlier.
  4. I also need to not smother my 6th grade boy, which is not easy and makes me a bit sad at times knowing this is a big transition year. It’s just hard when he’s so sweet, adorable, huggable and kissable.
  5. Marketing oneself with a new business & dealing with all this social media ‘stuff’ is annoying, uncomfortable, and brings up much resistance. ugghh… That’s why I’m committing to making this one of my priorities in 2012.
  6. I’m grateful for my job in five high schools. Teaching teens, counseling one-on-one, and facilitating groups is fun, rewarding and continues to be a learning experience.
  7. I loved being a guest speaker for master’s level students at Dominican, and I proved to myself that if I can successfully do that, there’s no reason I can’t do more of it in 2012 & beyond. Toastmasters is finally paying off. Another goal for 2012: more speaking & teaching, which also means more writing.
  8. It feels great to choose an area of coaching specialization that I enjoy, can relate to (for sure) and want to pursue more – adult ADD. It’s also great to figure out a name for my work: Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioral Coaching.
  9. I really, really enjoy creating an art piece every December with my ‘soul’ friend Alma (based on her technique called Telamadera Fusion). Like yoga, I achieve a sense of ‘flow’ (see my previous blog entry about ‘achieving flow’), which is rewarding just for its own sake.
  10. I have so much to be grateful for, especially the love of my husband, son, stepdaughters, family, and friends, and the opportunity to do work that I love and that helps others in a positive way. Relationships are what truly matter and what give life a real sense of meaning and purpose.

Why We Need To Give Teens a Break

Teens will be teens.  Even over 2,300 years ago, Aristotle said:

       “The young are heated by Nature as drunken men by wine”. 

Can you guess who wrote the following quote?

        “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”


I’ll give you a hint:  It’s a Greek philosopher who lived about 100 years before Aristotle…. Socrates!  How is it that not much has changed in all these years?

In a recent article entitled “The New Science of the Teenage Brain” (National Geographic, October, 2011), author David Dobbs attempts to answer that.

He reveals a new way that neuroscientists describe the teenage years as ‘adaptive adolescence,’ meaning 1) they’re adapting to their changing brains that are not yet fully developed until age 25, and 2) they’re preparing themselves for the imminent scary task of leaving the nest.

Whether you have a teen, are a teen, know teens or work with teens, now we know what’s really going on in your/their heads – an electrical, myelination storm.

Typical traits of teens   

Angst, idiocy, haste, impulsiveness, selfishness, recklessness, thrill and sensation seeking, risk taking, openness to the new, excitement, novelty, company of peers. Sound familiar?  These traits and behaviors, seen in all cultures, modern or tribal, define adolescence and make us more adaptive, as individuals and as a species.

Some may consider these traits dysfunctional. If so, then how did they survive selection, if dysfunctional traits typically get selected out?  Dobbs says that maybe those traits don’t really characterize adolescence and they’re just what we notice because they annoy us or put kids in danger. So then, what valuable function do they serve?

Value of these traits

How do traits that seem dysfunctional serve a valuable purpose?

Sensation seeking, for example, does not necessarily mean impulsive. It could be planned (i.e. racing a car at 100 mph on a long, isolated stretch of highway), and it could lead to positive behaviors, such as an urge to meet more people, widen one’s circle of friends – making us happier, healthier, safer, and more successful.

The hunt for sensation provides inspiration to get out of the house to new terrain, which is practice for what teens will be having to do when it’s time to really leave home. The hunt for novelty and trying to top each new thrill with another, more intense one is actually helping them find their path.

Teens are figuring out who they are and who they want to be. Questioning parents’ beliefs is normal and healthy in order to develop a sense of identity.  Teens prefer the company of those their own age because it’s a way to test out different identities to see which one fits, and it’s a way to invest in the future (peers) versus the past (parents).  If they will live in a world run and remade by their peers, than knowing and building relationships with them bears on future success.  Studies show that socially savvy rats or monkeys get best nesting areas or territories, most food and water, more allies, more sex with better and fitter mates, etc. In our society, that seems to apply to people as well.

Teen brains: what’s happening in there?

Brains go through massive reorganization between the 12th and 25th year.

Teens are learning to use their brain’s new networks. Stress, fatigue, challenges can cause misfire (which some call ‘neural gawkiness’ – like physical gawkiness teens can have while mastering growing bodies).

Neural remodeling

Adolescent brain remodeling is like a network and wiring upgrade.  Axons (long nerve fibers that neurons use to send signals to others) become more insulated with myelin (fatty white matter), which boosts the axon’s transmission speed.  This process is called myelination, which is important for learning.  Once it’s complete in our mid-20s, it’s harder to change.  If myelination was completed in our teens, we would lose flexibility for all the important learning that needs to take place as we separate and individuate.

Also, dendrites (branchlike extensions used to receive signals) grow twiggier in our teens. The most heavily used synapses grow stronger, and synapses with little use start to wither (i.e. use ‘em or lose ‘em). This is why it’s the best time to cultivate skills in areas like languages, instruments, sports, etc.

Memory, decision making, vulnerability to addiction

Other links are strengthening too, such as between the hippocampus (memory directory) and frontal areas that plan and set goals, which helps us better integrate memory and experience into our decisions.  Teens make less use of these brain regions that monitor performance, spot errors, consider consequences, plan, and stay focused – areas adults bring online automatically as needed. Teens use these areas less often and more easily give in to impulse – i.e. looking away from the road to a text message.

In adolescence, there’s a peak in the brain’s sensitivity to dopamine – the neurotransmitter that fires reward circuits and aids in learning patterns and making decisions (which is what makes teens more vulnerable to addictions).

The teen brain is similarly attuned to oxytocin – the neural hormone that makes social connections more rewarding, which is partly why teens perceive social rejection as a threat to their existence. To them, it actually feels that way.  And although they understand risks of smoking, unprotected sex, etc, they tend to give more weight to pleasures and rewards than to costs or consequences.


This new view of the adolescent brain – the ‘adaptive-adolescent’, views teens less as rough drafts than as exquisitely sensitive, highly adaptable creatures wired almost perfectly for the job of moving from the safety of home into the complicated world outside.  We’re used to seeing adolescence as a problem, when actually it’s a highly functional, adaptive period. The teen brain produces a creature optimally primed to leave a safe home and move into unfamiliar territory, the hardest and most critical thing we ever do.

Teens may not be very different than they ever were.  It’s just that now we have neuroscience to provide a better understanding as to why. They’re learning to adjust to their new brains and changing neural networks.

Sounds like we need to give them a break and cut them some slack, though not too much.

Tips for parents of teens: 

1)  Engage and guide teens with a light but steady hand.

2)  Stay connected yet allow independence.

3)  Know when to offer kernels of wisdom – knowledge valued not because it comes from parental authority but because it comes from parents’ own struggles to figure out the world.



A Choice-Point Decision Reveals My Own Immunity To Change

I am currently at a choice-point.  I can either A) renew my dues for another six months of Toastmasters, or B) not renew.

Choice B would allow me to stay safe in my comfort zone of not speaking in public. Choice A would force me to expand that comfort zone and maybe even get me to the level I’m really wanting to be at in my public speaking.  Or … is that what I really want?

I started thinking about this after my ninth speech last week, which went okay. As usual, I did get a lot of positive feedback. However, because I’m human, it’s the ‘what needs improvement’ part (which is a nice way of talking about weaknesses) that sticks, and the mind chatter goes something like, “I stink”, right? So I had already decided in my head that I would not renew my membership, because clearly this public speaking thing is just not my forte.

After a few hours of awkward relief, I started to wonder whether my decision to quit was just a “fox and grapes” moment.  As in the tale from Aesop, I (the fox) had failed to reach my goal (the grapes), so I walked away saying “They’re probably sour, so I wouldn’t have liked them anyway.”  My thinking? If I quit now, I’m not failing because public speaking is just not my thing.

It’s called cognitive dissonance, and we all do it, though now it was happening to me.

The good news is that I caught myself. The decision to quit made me feel like, well, a quitter—which, for me is worse than failing as a public speaker.  I’ve been a regular at my Toastmaster group for nearly a year and I’ve given nine speeches, so I expected to be way better by now.

Choice A, to stay and renew, would allow me to not feel like a quitter (yeah!).  Rather, because I’d be facing my fear and doing it anyway, even though I may not succeed, I would feel more like a ‘warrior’, which actually is what I feel like I really am at heart.  Even my name, Valerie, means strong and healthy, and comes from the word valiant, which means boldly courageous and showing bravery.  I’ve been an athlete since my childhood, and I didn’t become a kung fu master at age 33 from not feeling like a warrior woman.  So I guess I wouldn’t be living up to my name if I quit, right?

I suppose I’m digging in my heels because public speaking is uncomfortable for me and I’m not naturally good at it.  Wow, I think I actually hit on something – “I’m not naturally good at it.”  Hmmm.  How about that?  Something that doesn’t come easy for me naturally, and I’m still doing it anyway, after almost a year, even though I haven’t mastered it to the level I feel like I should have by now.  My mind chatter continues: “When’s the last time I couldn’t master something quickly? I can’t even remember.”

Ok, so this is butting up against a belief and way of knowing that sounds something like “hey, I’m smart, competent, a fast learner, and I’m usually good at most things I try, or at least I get good quickly, so what’s happening here?”  I’m starting to see how this is exactly what the ‘Immunity to Change’ (a model of behavior change, and book, created and authored by Harvard psychologists Drs. Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan) which is what I’ve been studying and what I spoke about recently at Dominican University. If what’s at stake for me is that I’m seen as the opposite of any of those things (not smart, not competent, not a fast learner, etc), then what?  Then I wouldn’t be respected or successful, so why wouldn’t I self sabotage myself by quitting, in order to avoid the possibility of that happening?  (of feeling not respected and not successful)

I’ve understood the Immunity to Change concept on an intellectual level and I’ve seen how it works with some clients. I’ve filled it out and thought my way through it and kind of tested it out for myself, but now I’m really feeling it. And, as we know, that feeling is essential before adaptive change can occur.  Becoming a better public speaker is an adaptive challenge for me, and finally, after almost a year of working on it, it’s bringing up an optimal conflict, just like Drs. Lahey and Kegan said it would.

As Lahey and Kegan define this optimal conflict, the criteria is as follows:

  • The persistent experience of some frustration, dilemma, life puzzle, quandary, or personal problem that is… (Check)
  • Perfectly designed to cause us to feel the limits of our current way of knowing…(Check)
  • In some sphere of our living that we care about, with…(Check)
  • Sufficient supports so that we are neither overwhelmed by the conflict nor able to escape or diffuse it. (Check)

Check on all 4.  Wow, this is actually kind of exciting and awesome, an ‘aha’ moment. I almost wish I had created an immunity map around this personal improvement goal a year ago when I started Toastmasters (though I hadn’t yet met Drs. Lahey and Kegan or learned of their work). But now that I’m so familiar with the process, I’m going to create one, with the same goal becoming a better public speaker, and work on it during the next six months.

This is an adaptive challenge for me because, according to Lahey & Kegan, it meets the following criteria:

  • it’s a single goal that would excite me personally if I were able to make big gains on it
  • it draws on the head and heart, thinking and feeling
  • it would enable me to add more value to my job and career, and elsewhere
  • and it’s a commitment that is ‘important and insufficiently accomplished’

So it’s perfect.

I guess I’ve just written my way into my answer of what I need to do—renew my dues and keep plugging away, in spite of my resistance and immunity to change.  Even if I don’t achieve the level I’m hoping for in six months, it will grow me in a direction I’m wanting, and keep me on track.

Somehow I just figured out one of my own immunities to change, without even having created an immunity map a year ago, though that’s probably because I get how the model works – and I’m seeing how my problem is solving me, versus me solving my problem.  Actually, this is the ideal situation to be in to create an immunity map, because: it’s a commitment I want to make, it’s important to me and insufficiently accomplished, there’s room for growth, others will benefit besides me, it taps into both thinking and feeling, and growth will occur on more than just the single goal.

Yeah!! I am definitely up for the challenge… I think.  Check in again and see how it’s coming along!

Coaching With Myss Archetypes

One year ago, I wrote this summary on Carolyn Myss’s book, Sacred Contracts, for my coaching certification program, because I was inspired to learn more about it after working with one of my coaches who used it in our work together. I’d like to post it here for anyone interested in learning more about themselves through archetypes, whether it’s archetypes as first popularized by Carl Jung, or expanded on by Carolyn Myss.

As I worked with my coach, I became interested in the way she used archetypes with me, and I wanted to learn more.  I bought Myss’s Archetype Cards, which are beautiful and interesting, though there’s not enough explanation about how to use them.  Then my friend got me the book, and although I didn’t like it at first and in certain sections, I began to understand how better to use archetypes to help me, and my clients, distinguish our being from our doing, and view relationships and experiences more symbolically.  When we identify our main archetypes, the goal is to see how the shadow of each has and does, show up in our lives. Then we can face it and make it our ally, so as to see how it’s supposed to serve us and teach us, which apparently will help us to grow and actualize.

Myss says we all have twelve primary archetypal companions, and 4 of those are survival archetypes – Saboteur, Prostitute, Victim, and Child (Child-Nature, -Eternal, -Orphan, -Wounded, -Divine, -Magical).  My more dominant of the survival archetypes are Saboteur and Child-Magical.

Shadow Saboteur manifests as self-destructive behaviors or desire to undermine others.  For me, the way the shadow Saboteur shows up is when I avoid doing something that I know I need to do (writing papers, getting my marketing stuff done for my business, being calm with disciplining the puppy, etc) that will get me closer to what I say I want (coaching certification, more clients, a well-trained dog, etc). Instead, I do things that I enjoy, are easy, or distract me (yoga, clean the house, do something fun with my son, go on a dog play date, read, write, organize, etc), which indicates that I’m more committed to freedom and flexibility, and doing what I want to do when I want to do it, rather than being disciplined, organized, hardworking, and productive.

Child-Magical shadow attributes include: attitudes of pessimism, belief that energy and action are not required for growth, allowing one to retreat into fantasy, pattern of transcendence over apparently negative circumstances from early in life, lack of faith in miracles and transformation. One way the shadow Child – Magical shows up is when I question my innate way of thinking (‘positive and optimistic, belief that people are inherently good and trustworthy, and belief that anything is possible and that things will always work out’), which is the light attribute of Child-Magical, as being too Pollyanna.  In my last year of my psychology master’s program, I was told by the director that I was a bit Pollyanna-ish, which seemed to imply something negative and not conducive to being a therapist. I did notice how most students in the program were NOT Pollyanna-ish, or positive thinking types, so I can’t disagree that being a therapist may not be the best fit for me.  However, I think that the term Pollyanna is only negative if it’s being used in the sense of someone being naive, unconscious and unrealistic, which I am not (though maybe sometimes naïve).  Rather, I see my Pollyanna-ishness as being optimistic and having a positive outlook.  I’m a pragmatist, and I know that it’s only through actions that we are going to move a goal forward. I believe it takes a lot more than just positive, wishful thinking to make things happen.  And if that experience at school hadn’t happened, I may not have discovered life coaching and realized how much better of a fit it is for me.

Anyway, one of Myss’s suggested practices is to come up with words you would say to your different archetypes, and as one example, here are mine to my child-magical archetype: I see you in my need to believe that anything is possible, which probably goes back to when my dad was dying of cancer when I was between 10 and 15 years old. I had to believe that it was possible he wouldn’t die and that the treatments were making him better.  And then when he did die, of course I was sad and angry and no longer believed in miracles, or God, in the traditional sense of the word.

My other 8 personal archetypes include: Shape-Shifter (more like Thought Shifter for me, which Joy came up with when we coached and she collapsed my dominant NLP auditory style into it), Student, Mother, Warrior, Dilettante, Seeker, Pioneer, Hedonist, Mentor, Companion.

This coach I worked with also inspired me to learn more about NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming), which I’ve been exploring and trying to practice with clients.  I find it extremely helpful in understanding my, and others’, dominant style in processing information, which is improving my communication in general. (more to come…)

Archetypes and NLP are tools that can help us to better understand ourselves and others, and how we tick.  So if any of this resonates with you and sounds interesting, I would encourage you to explore it for yourself and see where it takes you on your journey of self discovery.

Be prepared.

The following is from my last Toastmaster’s speech.

If you’ve ever been a girl scout or a boy scout, this expression might be bringing back memories, because that’s the motto of the scouts: Be prepared. 

“Be prepared for what?”, someone once asked. “Why, for any old thing”, responded Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting.

For our purposes today, it’s not about being prepared for any old thing.  I’m referring to 3 situations in particular.

What does camping with bears, hiking Yosemite during record water levels, and turning 45 all have in common?  (besides me having experienced them all recently)

In all situations, it’s important to… BE PREPARED.

In the next few minutes, I’d like to share a few tips on how to minimize your risks, which will help to maximize your pleasure, in each of these situations, with some personal stories, and show you some items and how to use them, that I hope will be helpful.

By the end of my speech, you will know how to be prepared for any of these potentially scary situations, and hopefully be inspired to visit Yosemite.

1st:  Camping with bears.

How many of you enjoy camping? Ever have a bear visit your campsite?

Here are the most important facts to know about black bears, which is what you’re likely to see when camping in California (and 95% aren’t even black, they’re different colors such as blonde, cinnamon, brown):

  • They have a keen sense of smell –  7 times greater than a blood hound.
  • They have an excellent memory for food sources, know how to find YOUR FOOD or anything that smells or looks like food, and are only interested in YOUR FOOD.
  • They will break into tents and cars, even into cars if they see something resembling a food storage container, or smell a greasy pan.

We recently had a middle of the night visit by a huge bear to our campsite due to a neighbor’s greasy pan left in the back of their pickup truck.  What to do in the presence of a bear:  make loud noise, especially banging of pans, or sound the car alarm on remote control (which worked for us, so now I recommend keeping it near your pillow), never get near cubs, stay at least 300 ft away from any bear, report sighting to Yosemite hotline.

Important: use metal food storage lockers – bears can smell the food, but they can’t get in.  You see what can happen if you don’t.

2nd: Hiking Yosemite during record water levels.

There are many recent You Tube videos of Yosemite to see the spectacular current water levels.  Here’s a nice one where you can really hear the beautiful sounds of the rushing streams and gushing falls.


As we hiked, I was reminded of some of my favorite John Muir quotes:

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” – John Muir

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

Fun fact about John Muir:  One time he climbed a 100-foot tall Douglas fir tree during a windstorm and rode it for hours as it bent and swayed in the wind.

Most important thing right now if you hike any of the falls in Yosemite is to wear good shoes (hiking shoes or sneakers, anything with rubber soles).  When granite is wet, it’s very slippery. Otherwise, you just need the usual (layers, hat, sunscreen, camera, and water – though there’s a great fountain on the way up to Vernal Falls with delicious mountain water). I especially loved the feel of the mist spraying on my face near the top of the falls. It was truly an awe-inspiring and breathtaking experience.

3rd: turning 45

How does one best prepare for turning 45?  Or just the aging process in general after hitting an age we can’t believe we’ve reached already?

The only tips I can think of here are what I can share from my own personal experiences:  do yoga and stay active, moisturize and use sunscreen, take vitamins, keep your mind engaged by learning new skills, studying new subjects, traveling, etc, marry or have a partner with someone who truly feels like a soulmate and will be a great parent (if you want children), with whom you bring out the best in each other, who can make you laugh and always feel young, even after 16 years together. Lastly, it’s great being with someone who is such an amazing listener and gift giver, who would go back through Yosemite & to the Ahwanhee Hotel gift shop on his way home (he left the night before we did), after telling him the night before that I liked and almost bought a certain hand woven placemat with Indian designs, six of which he bought and surprised me with on my birthday the next day.

I hope you can see why it’s important to be prepared in all of these situations.

What’s 1 thing to do to avoid bears in your campsite?

How many of you are now inspired to visit Yosemite sometime in the next few months?

If so, you won’t be disappointed, especially if you make sure to… BE PREPARED.