In Defense of the IG Quote Memes

IMG_3844Our social media feeds are full of them and as I life coach I create my own quote memes multiple times a week. And while I pick each quote carefully, there really are so many to be found in any IG scroll that these little truth bombs start to run together; undermining each individual one’s impact.

But a great reminder of the power of words happened this week after I posted this quote:

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I loved the quote when I stole reposted it (with attribution) from another IG feed (@kindnessmatters). I did it because the words so perfectly connected to a core principle of Fearless Living—the coaching work I do.

Basically, when people are unkind, 9 times out of ten, it has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with them and the fear-based place they are coming from. So taking things personally—which in my life I have (at times) been very adept at thank you very much—is like drinking a poison that’s meant for someone else.

Here’s the quick story of how it connected this past week.

I rescue dogs. I work with an amazing group here in Los Angeles Wags & Walks, The ASPCA and because of my incredible Labrador, Ranger, I have become a Labrador devotee working with a lab rescue in Arkansas.

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A few times a year, I transport of dogs from the nonprofit in Arkansas which is overrun with Labradors and I bring them to people here in California to homes who would otherwise end up waiting months even years to find a purebred Labrador for adoption.

I fund the transports on money I raise from my network of dog loving fees and the adoption fees for some of the dogs on the transport.

Last year I had connected with a woman who wanted a yellow lab. I had a beautiful one for her and in the process we became friendly. She couldn’t commit to the dog before meeting it which I understood.  So she agreed to donate $600 dollars towards the cost of the transport, then pay the last $300 if she decided if to adopt the dog.

As the dogs were about to leave on the transport she backed out of adopting the dog for personal reasons, but to her credit, she kept her commitment to pay the $600. I was impressed.

Months passed and I had another transport of beautiful labs (yellow ones, the kind she liked). So, I reached out to see if she was in the market yet. She was interested and she graciously offered to help with the transport whether she got a dog or not.

IMG_3791 2I went to pick up a check from her on Monday and I asked to have her make the check to me. As I usually do because of the difficulty of managing all the elements of the transport. Truck rental, Gas, driver etc.; it makes it easier for everyone if the money is one central location- with me.

She said I’d prefer to write to a Non- Profit, which I understand 100% so I had her write it to the Labrador Rescue in Arkansas.

Great. End of story…or so I thought.

Tuesday night she sent me a HATE-filled email the details of which are unimportant. But suffice it to say she hurled some nasty accusations my way.

I was hurt and upset. But then something miraculous happened. After the initial shock of being upset someone could think badly of me like this—a trigger for me–I kind of didn’t give a shit. And here is where the really cool part comes in.

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I realized didn’t care because I was doing everything in alignment with my values. I knew I working my ass off to rescue these14 dogs who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance in the world. I knew where every penny would be going, and I knew I was willing to take on the financial commitment of the transport even if it meant money out of my pocket because saving dogs’ lives is core to my being.

And most of all I knew that every step I took in the process of saving these dogs was dictated by a rock-solid moral compass; guided by the value I place on being fair and honest.

So while initially, I 100% wanted to send her an email telling her what a CU Next Tuesday I thought she was, I sent back a level-headed email calmly communicating my hurt feelings and showing her the destroyed check.

Did I want to send that FU email?
Of course.

Would that have accomplished anything?
 No

Would she have heard me?
No

Did I need to be kind to her when she was unkind to me?
Yes

Oh wait I knew I had heard that somewhere before…right…Instagram!

The quote memes come full circle

So, my sort of throw away quote memes post from IG ended up being the anchor for what I needed to keep me centered and living the value-based life I aim to live each and every day.

And guess what?

She wrote back. She 180’d on her accusations and almost said she was sorry. Almost.

Maybe she really didn’t mean to be so unkind. Or maybe she did. The best news is that it didn’t matter.

I’m not sure what will happen; time will tell if we can continue to build a friendship and if she truly wants to support the work.

But either way I feel good having ripped up the check. My instinct told me if I was ever to have a clean relationship with her and feel at peace about the finances of this transport; this money was not going to help.

So, based on another great quote…

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The mistake and the success will have been all mine and that’s just as it should be.

So, when you see my  meme quotes…take a minute and really look at them. They may just change your whole day.

 

 

In This Year Of The Dog, Learn To Think Like One

Katie B. Photography, copyright 2015It’s the Year of the Dog, and as we em-bark, there is no better time to extoll the virtues of our favorite four-legged friends.  The dog lover/rescuer in me could simply point to the cuddles, kisses and undying loyalty I receive on a daily basis, but that’s really just the beginning.

As a professional life coach, working to help people move their lives forward, I think about the role dogs play in our lives. And if we let them, they can be the life coaches we all need to help us thrive in this Year of the Dog and beyond.

Let’s explore 3 ways…

Your Dog Thinks You’re Awesome…Believe Them

Fat, thin, single, married, rich, poor, gainfully employed or recovering from a pink slip, your dog thinks you are their moon, their stars, their sun, their universe. And yet, we’re often stuck thinking about ourselves as merely adequate, barely acceptable.

In my practice, I constantly come up against this mistaken notion that if my clients are anything but hard on themselves, they’re falling behind.  Losing at life.  And when I point out the long list of their strengths, talents and innate worthiness, they don’t believe me.  And even more striking, they will go to great lengths to try and convince me of their failings.

This glaring contradiction speaks to how our culture has focused on faults and deficits; obsessing on what we need to be better at rather than enjoying who we are and what we already have. Add in social media’s influence, which often comes from a place of ‘less-than’, and it’s not hard to see why so many feel like they’re losing at life.

I’m not saying one shouldn’t have goals, commitments, and work hard to honor them – but instead, of having your perceived weaknesses fuel your process, be driven by the best of what makes you, you. Because the fuel of negativity won’t sustain your engine for very long.

Instead, look at how your dog rolls.  Never propelled forward by an image of their “failing self,” always secure in what they bring to the table.  Real change, real success, and the ability to enjoy it, comes from knowing you are worth it. If not, how can someone ever get past the inevitable adversity that comes with change?

Bottom Line:
Let’s throw out this obsession with our weaknesses like a bag of proverbial dog poo.

Action Item:
When you have the instinct to beat yourself up after reading about your ‘frenemy’ from high school’s success in her insta-feed, stop yourself. Look down at your dog.  Are they ever measuring their self worth against the dog across the street? Uh, no!  So remind yourself that you ARE the person your dog thinks you are.  

Dogs Let Things Go

IMG_0042One of my first rescues was of a horrifically neglected dog named Hope from the South Los Angeles Shelter. I won’t go in to too much detail but she was gaunt, her body covered in gashes, and struggling with an upper-respiratory infection that caused her to sneeze and wheeze as she walked.

And yet as Hope emerged from the shelter, her little tail began to wag and she gave me the most tender, heartfelt kiss. Her ability to feel love after so much cruelty was her truth.  She wasn’t holding on to the abuse she obviously had endured.

Sure, you can chalk up a dog’s ability to leave the past behind to their brain structure, but the lesson is nonetheless important, and one that humans can learn from our four-legged friends. Because, really, how does clinging to the stories of our past serve us anyway?  I mean, yeah, we need to learn from the past, but holding on tightly to transgressions against us or mistakes we’ve made won’t help anyone move forward. Instead, it keeps us stuck in a compromised life.

Bottom Line:
Accept and Acknowledge what has happened in your life and then focus on what’s next.

Action Item:
Write a forgiveness letter to yourself or the person who has hurt you. Pour it all out on the page then rip it up, like a dog ripping up the grass after a big pee…kick it up and move on your merry way.

Turn it Off

fullsizeoutput_75a1In our 24/7 society one of the biggest challenges is time management.

Not so much in terms of getting work done, but rather the work of keeping up. Social media, news, online shopping, it keeps all of us constantly set to the ON position.

The effects of this aren’t good. According to a study from the University of Konstanz in Germany, “thinking about work constantly may make it difficult to stay productive in the long run…There must be time to ‘switch off.” Furthermore, a nonstop schedule made people more easily “irritated.”

But look at dogs.  They go to work too.  Guarding our homes.  Protecting against the postman.  Growling when sketchy characters enter our personal space. You know what dogs do after “work?”  They shut off the world around them, lie down, and lick their nether regions until they are then ready to take a snooze.  They inherently understand that always operating with the power switch flipped on eventually leads to no power.

Of course, our dogs don’t have to pay bills or worry about the mortgage, but extended work days don’t even show an increase in productivity! So why not take a page from your dog?

Bottom Line:
Like your dog, follow life’s circadian rhythms. At the end of day, turn off your mind, lick your nether regions and go to sleep. You’ll be ready and more successful to go after the postman, I mean the sale, tomorrow.

Action Item:
Activate the do not disturb feature on your smart phone and find something to do that grabs your attention but that isn’t work. Read a book, take a walk with your dog, chew on a bone if that helps. Just move away from the stimuli of work.

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So celebrate this Year of the Dog by, well, living more like your dog.  Don’t hold onto things.  Go through life as the best version of yourself, and after a long day at work, don’t come home simply to do more work.  But instead, be like your dog, grab your favorite chew toy and have at it.

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Living Fearlessly!

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Minnesota for a weekend retreat where I received my Fearless Living Coach certification.

As a coach already, I’d participated in a separate program than the other graduates, and although I knew many of them, we didn’t have the same cohort bond they enjoyed amongst themselves.

While a part of me looked forward to the experience, I had an upcoming trip to Italy soon after, my coaching practice at home, my work with St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, managing my 5-year-old and his intense dislike of camp and of course, my dog rescue. Dropping into an intensive weekend of training, bonding, and stimulation was actually a stressful proposal—even for this extrovert.

As I was heading out to LAX, I made a mental deal with myself— and my mom who begged me not to go so I could take care of myself—to experience the weekend in a different way. I made a conscious decision to take every opportunity that weekend to make myself the priority and make choices that would take my needs into consideration.

Not sure about you, but for this mom, that’s a tall order. I didn’t want it to appear that I wasn’t a team player, but I needed to take some time for myself and what was important to me.

I took walks on breaks. I left the group lunch early and went to a quiet spot nearby to grab a bite on my own and tend to my to-do list. I slept like a rock and kept to my own in a way that if you know me, then you know it’s out of character.

On the last night of the retreat, there was a talent show and karaoke night. My fellow coaches had been prepping for weeks on skits and they were adorable, but in my detached approach to the weekend, I had little interest in participating.

But, after their practiced skits the floor was opened to those who wanted to present their talents. There was a reading of a story, a virtual surfing lesson, and a movie presented. Although I had been lingering in the back, still not intending to participate, I said to myself, “What’s my talent? What could I show?”

My first answer was nothing. I know, I know, but it’s amazing how even as a coach, who helps people see what’s special about themselves, my fear took over and I drew a blank. It’s not that I intellectually don’t know that I have talents, but I literally couldn’t think of anything I could display.

But then something popped into my head. Last year I was honored by Wags and Walks as their “Wagatarian” of the year. A video had been made about me and a rescue operation I spearheaded.

I hadn’t watched it in over a year, but I decided that while not exactly a commonly recognized ‘talent’, it was one and the talent of which I am most proud.

But as the next person…and then the next…and the next came up to present their talent, I kept hesitating. I knew it was an awesome video and an awesome story, but I was afraid of how it would be perceived.

At a certain point, I said eff it. If I couldn’t be fearless at a FEARLESS LIVING retreat here, where the hell could I do it? So I saddled up, presented the YouTube link and asked to be next.

As the video played, I tried to get a read on the audience, but I wasn’t sure. I rolled through the options of what they might be thinking… Betsy is a grandstander, or how is this a talent?, or, or, or.

This, by the way, is the classic fear dynamic in action which looks like this:

I definitely don’t want to do _____ (fill in the blank), because people may think______ (fill in the blank), so I will do nothing and then beat myself up.

But wait…I’m a coach and I’m at a FEARLESS LIVING RETREAT dammit, so I decided that this was an exercise in not caring about how it was received. In order to be free in our lives, we really do have to not care about how we will be perceived.

By the end of the video, I was in sort of a blissed-out state of freedom. I was so proud of the work highlighted in the video that I really didn’t care as much about what people were going to say.

As the segment wrapped, people were clapping and a few were crying and others offered to foster dogs and others asked about how they could volunteer with animals in their community. I won’t lie…it felt pretty amazing as there is truly nothing aside from my family that is more important to me than dogs, but the other part of the rush was about me facing my fear and letting go of the outcome.

And this is what living fearlessly is all about. How those people reacted made the work I did saving the dogs in the video no more or less important. Connecting to what matters to you…in this case saving dogs…and letting that carry you through is what’s important. And this is at the heart of my coaching.

Connect to what’s important to you. Let that fill you up, and it will move you into freedom.

The Accountability Factor

On June 15th, 2007 hands trembling, I signed the contract for my book, The Complete Singles’ Guide to Being a Dog Owner. Agreeing to turn in 45,000 words in 5 months’ time was somewhere adjacent to a joke and just south of a nightmare.

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Sure I could turn out a wrap-around for TV—I had been a television producer writing copy for TV hosts…Hi, I’m Tyler Florence and today we’re going to make…Gazpacho/Short Ribs/Risotto/Bouillabaisse, etc.—but I certainly wasn’t the girl who could deliver 45,000 words (or as I calculated 40-ish college papers). I wasn’t even the girl who could keep a diary.

And yet once the ink was dry, knowing I was contractually obligated to turn in those 45,000 words, something came over me. I was obsessed. On November 15th, 2007 I ended up turning in 180,000 thousand words plus charts and graphs, thank you very much. #overachiever

Clearly the disconnect between what I thought I could do and what I could actually do was colossal. Today, as a coach, I can recognize exactly why I was able to deliver my manuscript (and then some) while simultaneously explaining why to this day I struggle to keep up with this blog. The answer… ACCOUNTABILITY.

I knew I had to turn that document into someone and knowing this kept me accountable because I didn’t want to disappoint. And while committing to something outside of your comfort zone is scary, for a majority of people, disappointing someone (besides yourself) would be so much worse.

It’s not that we don’t value ourselves, and that failing ourselves is cool—okay, it might be a little of that—but really it’s more nuanced. If left to our own devices, the fear of failing overpowers the desire to get something done. Procrastination isn’t about being lazy, it’s about fear. Ahh, but fret not, the desire not to disappoint someone overpowers all, and we coaches know it!

Accountability is essential to the coaching relationship. I work with clients (and with my own coach for that matter) on the WHAT to do to move my life forward as intentionally as well as on the WHEN I will do it by. Although somewhat of an artificial construct as deadlines can always be altered (and should be if it’s too overwhelming) time pressure and the idea that the client is accountable to someone besides themselves will motivate he or she to tackle a task that without a deadline would languish indefinitely. Simply said, accountability pushes people past the inertia of procrastination and procrastination is a symptom of fear.

So, how can you make accountability work for you?

  • Work with a coach—A good coach will help you stay accountable while creating an atmosphere of non-judgment and support.
  • Find an Accountability Partner—You’re probably not the only one wanting to get things done and move your life forward. Ask a friend to partner up. Be sure to set ground rules about how you want to be supported and or kept on track without judgment and negativity.
  • Announce your goals—Announce to the world either virtually or in person that you’ve made a commitment to do ‘X’ by ‘Y’ date and see how much that public accountability keeps you on the straight and narrow.
  • Bribe yourself—This may be a little unorthodox, but it’s worked for me. Is there something you want? Like really want? Set up a deal that you will buy it, do it or visit it if you reach your goal by a certain date.

I hope this helps you and if you want to talk more…hit me up at better@withbetsy.com

What Would You Do with 5 Unexpected Days in Foreign Country?

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After a kick-ass week traveling through Peru with my MOM-Sanity partner coach, Michelle Kenney Carlson, I ended up back in Lima to wait for a few days to meet the hubs and my little guy in the Tumbes region of Peru where we have our family beach house.

I was excited to spend a few days in Lima. I love it here. I have my favorite pocket of the city San Isidro with restaurants and shops I know and even a Starbucks so I can get my daily fix.

Although there had been rains near our home and even some in Lima, we had been pretty much isolated from the devastation that has now taken over almost half of Peru. I’m not sure how much coverage it’s getting at home, but monumental rains have all but destroyed entire cities with mudslides, crested rivers, washed out bridges and collapsed roads.

Our little town had been somewhat unaffected. That however changed rapidly soon after I got to Lima.

The roads in and of out our town became compromised and the closest major cities both experienced (and continue to experience) bad rains as well as the after-effects.

Andre and Niko’s trip was cancelled, and thanks LATAM airlines those changes were easy and quick.  My trip wasn’t however as easily changed. I had the choice of paying a $2000 fee or spend 10 days alone here in Lima.

I do love the city but that’s a long time to be away. After 3 hours of haggling with the airlines I was finally able to secure a flight home Monday Morning leaving me flying solo in Lima for 5 days.

Although I did have a bit of a panic at first, I realized that stress wasn’t going to improve the situation. So instead of the stress perspective I went with one of opportunity–what could I do with these days?

Thankfully in Lima, with a little creativity, research and some fearlessness, the possibilities have been endless

Inspired by my Michelle who found time to do yoga while in Cusco, I decided to look for some Pilates classes. Thanks to good old Google, I found the most incredible (English speaking) Pilates teacher who also happened to have 2 adorable Labradors…wet puppy kisses are a great motivator…In fact I have worked out every day since arriving here in Lima.
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Next…I found a Spanish language school where I have been taking daily Spanish lessons. This was a  leap for me. With everyone being bilingual in our house, I knew I needed to learn Spanish but was totally intimidated to make it happen. With the gift of these days, I didn’t have much to loose so I found a place and signed myself up.

Although  challenging, these endeavors were both somewhat in my comfort zone. What has been hardest has been to rest. I am so used to being on the go, almost maniacally so, that to make myself stay in my hotel room and watch TV has been an effort.

Even as of yesterday, when my whole body ached from all the walking and the Pilates and the heat, I had the impulse to go check out Barranco, the arts district of Lima.

Isn’t that kind of ridiculous? It’s like the dream I always ask for–time to do nothing by myself and rest–was magically presented to me and I was fighting it tooth and nail.

But that stopped yesterday evening when I came to my senses and vowed not to do anything extra between then and my after midnight flight tonight.

Today I have gone for a massage and a quick lunch but have otherwise not left my hotel room. The inclination to visit the Inka craft market percolated but around 3pm, but thanks to reruns of The Mentalist and the need to book our replacement trip to Peru with American Express travel, I am happy to report that I have basically been in bed all day.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am far more proud of the accomplishment of rest than of the Pilates or the Spanish. Being busy is a modern day obsession. Yes I was taking care of myself but was I really? Clearly I was working on improving myself but taking care? Maybe not…not until that is I made a date with my bed!

Here’s to hoping I can build on this small step and keep making the choice to relax when I get home!

xx

B

To Nap or Not to Nap…

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photo credit Business Insider

Does your answer to ‘how are things?’ include a nod to overwhelm or fatigue?

You’re not alone.

There is no shortage of reasons why people are legitimately tired, overwhelmed or running on empty.

Managing the stress of…work (whether in or out of the home,) the 24 hour work day, the 24 hour news cycle, Trump, your boss/ toddler/teenager/parent / the mean mom at drop off/ the conniving co-worker/ the nosy neighbor…is a lot in its own right.

Maintaining all of the above while comparing yourself to perfectly curated social media images of bliss and ease projected by celebs, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and said mean mom at drop off, is enough to make anyone yawn and want to crawl into bed.

And yet so many people seem to have a stigma about the one thing that very well may be the answer to their heavy-eyed prayers…a nap.

I am unabashed napper. I used to take a nap at lunch when I worked a traditional job and when finding coaching as a career, aside from fulfilling my life purpose to help people, I can’t say I didn’t love the perk of being able to grab a shluffy (Yiddish for nap) when needed.

When I suggest taking naps to burned out clients there is often an audible gasp. Well I couldn’t do that…it’s so indulgent…I don’t have time.

Really?

Not only do studies—real ones…from Harvard—suggest ‘napping makes people more effective’ but ‘even catnaps of six minutes (not counting the five minutes it takes to fall asleep on average) have been shown to make a difference’.

So there goes the indulgence excuse.

So now the time excuse…I dare you to keep a log of your day. How long did you spend on eBay/Amazon/ESPN/TMZ/Houzz today?

Instead of burying your face in your phone at lunch, why not sneak down to your car or head to the park and grab 20 minutes of shut-eye.

I promise you will thank me for it.

Does your answer to ‘how are things?’ include a nod to overwhelm or fatigue?

You’re not alone.

There is no shortage of reasons why people are legitimately tired, overwhelmed or running on empty.

Managing the stress of…work (whether in or out of the home,) the 24 hour work day, the 24 hour news cycle, Trump, your boss/ toddler/teenager/parent / the mean mom at drop off/ the conniving co-worker/ the nosy neighbor…is a lot in its own right.

Maintaining all of the above while comparing yourself to perfectly curated social media images of bliss and ease projected by celebs, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and said mean mom at drop off, is enough to make anyone yawn and want to crawl into bed.

And yet so many people seem to have a stigma about the one thing that very well may be the answer to their heavy-eyed prayers…a nap.

I am unabashed napper. I used to take a nap at lunch when I worked a traditional job and when finding coaching as a career, aside from fulfilling my life purpose to help people, I can’t say I didn’t love the perk of being able to grab a shluffy (Yiddish for nap) when needed.

When I suggest taking naps to burned out clients there is often an audible gasp. Well I couldn’t do that…it’s so indulgent…I don’t have time.

Really?

Not only do studies—real ones…from Harvard—suggest ‘napping makes people more effective’ but ‘even catnaps of six minutes (not counting the five minutes it takes to fall asleep on average) have been shown to make a difference’.

So there goes the indulgence excuse.

So now the time excuse…I dare you to keep a log of your day. How long did you spend on eBay/Amazon/ESPN/TMZ/Houzz today?

Instead of burying your face in your phone at lunch, why not sneak down to your car or head to the park and grab 20 minutes of shut-eye.

I promise you will thank me for it.

Take Fear out of your Facebook Feed

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One might long for the days when your social media feeds only gave you anxiety about how your life compared to others.

 

Today it’s hard to venture online without gasping with horror at how our world seems to be heading for some sort of explosive event.

 

To that end I have made a conscious choice to replace my addiction to FB with an addiction to books. Since November 8th I have read 9 books on my iPhone. BTW, if you haven’t read  Crazy Rich Asians or the The Magician’s Lie …go buy them now so you too can find yourself inhaling luscious fiction while waiting for your latte.

 

And while it might be the norm for some people, 9 books marks a major shift for this girl who, although being an author myself, had to be bribed as a child to read.

 

That said I still feel the draw of FB. And while some may feel it’s just a big complaining fest, I see something else. It’s a nuanced difference that my training as a coach (FearlessLiving.com) helps me to see.

 

Complaining keeps one stuck in the complaint without moving beyond it. When you complain, you don’t look for solutions or seek feedback.

 

Clearly there is a LOT of that. But many of my friends and others are moving past the complaining. They are protesting, speaking with their wallets (hello 24 million dollars to the ACLU), engaging with elected officials, and using their voices to speak for the disenfranchised. (Please see this amazing article from writer producer Hadley Davis)

 

So how about a tit for tat? Before you start composing that brilliant tweet, FB post or meme showing Trump as a baby/psychopath/tiny-hand-monster call your elected official and voice your concerns.

 

Make a donation to a refugee charity. Or find out how you can support any number of the other causes that didn’t go away and probably got worse because of the new administration; may I suggest feeding seniors with St. Vincent Meals on Wheels or saving dogs with Wags & Walks.

 

Bottom line, take positive actions instead of just complaining; it has a triple benefit. First it keeps a dialogue going in our society. Second, you are supporting good work and third, which to me is  just as important, it leads to feelings of empowerment.

 

Being stuck in a complaint keeps you stuck in fear and nothing will be accomplished on the micro or macro level from there.