How to Make It Through March

In 2012, I made it through this dreariest Ontario month with a healthy, happy glow thanks to a little experiment I undertook. One year later, I’m looking back at March 2012 to remind myself how to survive the end of winter. Here’s how I wrote about it then.

It started small.

First, I thought, “I want to spend more time focusing on taking care of myself.”

That led to my roping the love-of-my-life in on a commitment to buying and eating more fruits and vegetables and whole grains and beans and lentils, and less sugar, flour, and animal products.

“This feels good,” I thought. “Maybe I’ll make this whole month about doing things to take care of me!”

Next thing I knew, I’d stopped drinking coffee.

Then I splurged on an apartment-size mini-trampoline (if you call $45 a “splurge”, that is) because how could I possibly be miserable and/or dislike myself while jumping up and down on a trampoline? (It’s really the best thing anytime I have a mental block… I just go jump on the trampoline 100 times and by the time I’ve done that, my perspective has shifted or else I’ve come to a decision).

One of my teachers encouraged me to buy myself a little something to celebrate some of my recent business successes, so then I went and bought this darling little silver ring. And some of the Mistresses in my MistressMind group (because “Mastermind” group doesn’t quite capture our sexy, dominatrix-y, determined business minds) told me that with the next round of business successes, I ought to go buy myself the meditation cushion I’ve been wishing for. I’m sitting on it as I write this.

“But it’s more than all these external things,” I thought. “It’s about caring for myself internally too.”

And that’s when I decided that this would also be The Month of No Negative Self-Talk.

I’m fairly addicted to negative self-talk (see The Slot Machine of Negative Self-Talk), and telling myself to “Stop it!,” isn’t going to work. But what did work was telling myself that I was giving myself a vacation from negative self-talk. Taking a month off. Free to go back to it after a month if I want to.

Anytime I heard the negative self-talk start up, I said to myself, “Ha! Vacation! I don’t have to do that this month!”

And then I thought, “But it’s more than the absence of self-talk. I want to start talking to myself in a caring way.”

So I developed the mantra I was going to rely on for the month:

“I trust that I am doing the best that I can everyday, and the best I can is enough.” 

(Don’t think it’s enough? See above re: no negative self-talk!)

As you can see, once the process got underway it was fairly unstoppable. I’ve just had a glorious month of delicious smoothies, fantastic salads, walks by the river, “mental health break” days, acupuncture appointments, fresh flowers, early bedtimes, and loving invitations to the love-of-my-life to do the dishes / clean the juicer / go grocery-shopping with me.

Now, here’s the interesting part:

So, I had a great month. That’s clear.

But what surprised me was the ripple effects of being kind to myself.

I started being more kind to others.

Experiencing the joy of caring for myself led to a spontaneous outpouring of caring for my loved ones and doing kind things for them.

Although I was working fewer hours, my business seemed to take off this month — if I scheduled breaks for myself, it seemed that the client appointments practically scheduled themselves.

I found myself buying gifts for others — spontaneous generosity (a soul trait that I often struggle with… perhaps because I had not learned how to be generous toward myself?).

What’s next? I want to keep this going!

So, it’s been more than a month, and I have no desire to drop all of this self-loving. It’s brought too much goodness into my life.

During my last call with my MistressMind group, I focused on how to keep it going, and uncovered a little fear I was caring around:

A fear that I wouldn’t be able to handle all this love for myself.

How curious! Who knew that I carried around a fear of being loved?

Thanks to lovely Head Mistress Cynthia, I have this new challenge for the month:

How much love can I handle?

How much care and goodness can I take?

How much love before I reach the saturation point? Will I disintegrate?

(More likely, I will dissolve into some essential being-ness of love — which does explain some of the fear. Soul growth always requires some melting away of ego identity, and that’s scary.)

My invitation to you this week:

I invite you to get curious: What would A Month of YOU look like?

And one last note: special thanks to the fabulous Danette Relic, who penpal-coached me through the lovely journey of the Month of Me!

Setting Boundaries — A Fresh Look

Photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani / Foter / CC BY


With the holiday season upon us, it’s a good time to revisit this piece on boundaries from the Morsels of Change newsletter. If you’re needing a coaching session to balance your way through the holiday season, please be in touch — I’ll be in the office up until Dec.21 before taking some time off.

Here’s something I’ve noticed about coaching clients who talk about wanting to learn to set better boundaries:

When the conversation heads in this direction, all the energy drains out.

From my vantage point, it seems that the very words “setting boundaries” carry a whole bunch of dread (at least for some people).

And as any good coach knows, when a client starts talking about a goal that they dread, things are going nowhere fast.

So whenever the conversation turns to setting boundaries, I look for the reframe that inspires and excites rather than drains and depletes.


Here are two reframes I’ve found helpful:

1. Rather than concentrating on what boundaries need to go up, I ask what boundaries need to come down.


Imagine someone who always says yes when someone asks for help. This person knows this pattern needs to change for his/her own well-being. He/she says, “I need to set better boundaries!”

Reframe (they type of question I might ask in a coaching conversation): 

What boundary do you have that prevents you from saying no when someone asks for help?

(Often this will be a internal boundary about what the client deserves or how the client treats him/herself (e.g. “I don’t deserve time to relax”)).

I find that reframing the conversation from erecting boundaries to smashing boundaries immediately adds energy and possibility.


2. Instead of talking about relationships governed by rules, I talk about relationships that are designed.

“Setting boundaries” has a tight, rigid feel to it. Making and enforcing rules can take a lot of energy, especially for someone who already feels weak in the boundaries department.

But revisiting the same relationship in terms of “design” brings in fluidity, openness, and empowerment.

In coach training, we talked about “designing alliances” with coaching clients — having honest conversations about what we are both bringing to the relationship, what we need from the relationship, how we want to be with each other in the relationship, and how we will address challenges in the relationship.

The designed alliance idea turns out to be useful in all relationships, not just coach-client alliances.

(You can read more about designed alliances here, on the website of The Coaches Training Institute).


Morsels of Change questions to ponder:

What internal boundaries would you like to smash?

What relationship in your life is calling out for a conscious design?


Listen to Laura Talk about Coaching with Ready for Change

Life coach directory Noomii interviewed me about what type of coaching I do, who I work with, what my clients get out of coaching, and why this work is important to me.

If you’re thinking of signing me up to be your coach, I really recommend that you listen to this short 6-minute interview to get a sense of who I am and what sort of work I do.


Listen to my interview by Noomii

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The Coaching Experts


Why Negative Self-Talk Can Be So Rewarding

A few months ago I was reading a lot about self-esteem (and the lack thereof). One of the big questions I kept wondering about is “Why?”

Why all this negative self-talk?

Why can it be so addictive and habit-forming to run ourselves down and criticize ourselves?

I’ve heard lots of answers — it keeps us safe, it keeps us from ever truly facing our own power, it keeps us small, it’s easier not to try than to try and fail, etc…

But when I was reading McKay and Fanning’s Self-Esteem – The Ultimate Program for Self-Help, I got a new perspective:

We keep up negative self-talk because it gets rewarded. 

Rewarded — like the addictive random reinforcement schedule that a slot machine doles out.

So how does this work? I’ll use one of my go-to personal examples — the negative self-talk I love to run through before I deliver a workshop.


Here’s the situation:

I’m a kick-ass facilitator and workshop deliverer. I know this experientially and I know this objectively, and I have the feedback forms and workshop participant impact statements to prove it. Yet still, for years, before I deliver a workshop I spend a few days prior wandering around being a little self-hating mess, thinking things like “I have nothing of value to offer,” “This workshop will suck,” “I don’t know why I ever thought I could do this,” “Everyone will know what a fraud I am,” etc.

And then, more often than not, I get up there and run a fantastic workshop and feel incredible afterward.


So what’s the glitch in the system?

The glitch is that all my self-hating DOES NOT ACTUALLY HELP ME PERFORM BETTER.

But, if I go through my ritual of self-hating, and then perform well, my self-hating ritual gets rewarded.

“That totally worked!” some insidious part of my brain whispers. “The more we hate ourselves, the better we do! Let’s try that again!”


Yes, this is some warped, warped thinking.

But tell me honestly, don’t you feel just a wee bit of familiarity in this story…. like maybe this is part of your story too?

Walking through this example helped me better understand why so many coaching clients are reluctant to let go of self-abusive behaviour.

They put a spin on it — just like I do:

“I’m a perfectionist; I hold myself to high standards.”

“But I want to be critical! It keeps me trying harder.”

“The harder I am on myself the better I do.”

And maybe all of that is true.

Or, maybe, it’s just some straight up behaviourist phenomenon: the behaviour of self-hating is getting randomly reinforced when you perform well, even if the self-hating had NOTHING to do with it.


My invitation to you:

Notice if self-criticism really and truly is helping you out, or if it’s just along for the ride.


Substitute Goals: The Goals that Get in the Way

In this blog post, I share a personal experience about what I call a “substitute goal”, and ask you to consider what sort of goals you’re setting for yourself. If this post piques your interest, perhaps you’d like to set up an introductory coaching session with me to discuss your goals. You can do that by clicking here.


I got to Inbox Zero on the weekend, and realized that I had been dangling that goal in front of myself in hopes that life would take a dramatic turn for the better once I reached it. Guess what – life didn’t.

I realized that I had been holding up a false goal — one that I thought would result in relief, satisfaction, success — instead of asking myself what truly leads to relief, satisfaction, success.

I often run across something similar in my coaching clients: the belief that “if only” they can get into x school / get x job / get x promotion / get x relationship / make x amount of money, then they will be happy / fulfilled / satisfied / confident.

I call these substitute goals: the ones we dangle in front of ourselves as something to work toward, and only once we achieve them do we realize that they don’t give us what we were hoping to get. (Sometimes they do. But not often.)

Sound familiar?

How can you check in with yourself to see if something is a substitute goal, or if it’s a goal that will truly lead to the outcome you’re wanting?

Below, I’ve explained some of the ways I might help someone think through this if I were coaching them:

1. Run the goal by your Future Self.

(Future Self is a coaching tool I’ve mentioned before on the blog; if you’d like more info, just send me a line!).

If I had stopped and asked my Future Self if Inbox Zero would lead me to the relief and satisfaction I was seeking, she would have started laughing uncontrollably, and then she would have said, “No, it won’t; PLEASE go do something else with your Sunday.”


2. Ask what has led to your desired outcome in the past. 

If I had asked myself what had led to feelings of relief and satisfaction in the past, I would not have come up with Inbox Zero. I might have told myself to take a walk, go to a yoga class, or have a computer-free day.


3. Check out what’s keeping you from your desired outcome right now. 

I was unconsciously holding onto the belief that I couldn’t be relaxed or satisfied unless I got to Inbox Zero. In reality, I could have accessed feelings of relief and satisfaction in the “right now”, before I met my weird goal. Similarly, I often hear from clients that they will be happy / fulfilled / satisfied only when x, y, or z happens. I like to get nosy and ask “What about feeling happy and fulfilled right now, today?”


Inbox Zero, people. Not all it’s cracked up to be.

Could your goals use a fresh perspective?

A Case of the Septembers? Ways to Get Ready for Change

As September 2012 approaches and that autumn back-to-school energy fills the air, I hear from lots of folks who want to shift something in their lives. If you too are thinking of making a change and wondering if coaching might be a good support, I’ve got lots of options for how we might work together!

Here’s a summary of the programs running here at Ready for Change this fall.

If you have any questions, just drop me a line ( I’d love to talk further.

A Free Consultation.

I always offer a free 30-minute no-obligation consultation to individuals interested in seeing if working with me is a good fit for them.

Coaching in Your Inbox.

Sign up for a four-week email program on the theme “What Do You Really Want?”, for a cost of $60 plus HST. Ongoing start dates throughout the fall — you can see more information here.

Online, Daily Coaching.

A one-month program focusing on a change that you want to create. The program consists of a 45-minute coaching session (conducted by phone or Skype) followed by daily online check-ins (you report on your progress daily, answering customized questions which I design for you), and I email you coaching responses twice per week. The cost is $250 plus HST. You can see more information about this program here.

Individual, One-on-One Coaching.

I work one-on-one with coaching clients by phone, Skype, or in person.

Clients hire me for one month at a time (I encourage a 3-month commitment in order to commit to the process, go through some ups and downs as you work toward your goals, and see results).

Each month consists of 3 x 45 minute sessions. Clients also have unlimited email access to me and the option for up to 2 x 10 minute “laser coaching” sessions each month, to be used if/as needed.

The current cost for each month of one-on-one coaching is $400 plus HST. A limited number of scholarship spots are available for those who would otherwise be unable to afford coaching.

You can read more about one-on-one coaching here.

Group Coaching Course (Ottawa only).

The Authentic Relationships program is born of the idea that all of us carry personal baggage, unfinished business, and unhelpful patterns, all of which cloud our ability to authentically relate to ourselves and others. By working through some of this cloudiness, we create more open, authentic, and meaningful relationships.

The group will meet weekly from September-December, one evening a week and one half-day per month.

Tuition for the fourteen week program is $975 plus HST. The program fee can be paid all at once or in monthly installments.

You can read more about this program here.

Questions? Comments? Want to talk further?

Just drop me a line and let’s have a conversation. I’m at


Ways to Work with Irrational Beliefs

This post was originally published as an edition of the Morsels of Change newsletter. If you like it, you may wish to sign up here!

Morsels of Change question to ponder:

Who Would I Be Without This Belief?

Sometimes I stumble upon an assumption or belief that I’ve been unconsciously carrying around, and I think, “What the hell? Why do I believe that? That’s not even true!”

But even knowing it’s not true, I’m not able to let go of the belief.

Perhaps you’ve encountered a belief like that — something which your logical, rational mind doesn’t accept, but which you do believe on some other (emotional? intuitive? cellular? reptilian brain?) level.

This Morsel of Change has some of my best tips for working with such beliefs.

I invite you to think about an irrational belief you hold, and to try on the exercises below as you read this.

Ways to Work With Irrational Beliefs

1. Explore how the belief was formed.

a) Journal about where you first learned this belief:

  • Who taught you this?
  • Whose experience or role modelling led you to this belief?
  • When you first encountered this belief, did you question it and explore it, or did you “swallow it whole” without examining it?
    (Gestalt psychology refers to this “swallowing whole” as introjection — beliefs that we take in without chewing them over and digesting them. In Gestalt, part of becoming a functional being is to regurgitate such beliefs in order to examine them for ourselves before deciding whether or not we want these beliefs to be part of us.)
  • What emotional state were you in when you first learned this belief? Were you vulnerable? Were you a child dependent on others?
  • How did your environment encourage you to take on this belief? What would have been the consequences if you hadn’t taken on this belief?

b) Journal about what has changed since then:

  • What about your current environment is different from the environment where you first learned this belief?
  • What about your emotional state is different from when you first learned this belief?
  • In your current environmental and emotional state, does this belief still serve you? Is it helping you, or harming you?
  • In your new environment, what are the consequences if you continue to hold this belief?
  • In your new environment, what are the consequences if you let go of this belief?

2. Questioning your thoughts.

Byron Katie’s work is the most accessible way I know to examine and question thoughts.
She invites us to ask four questions of our belief:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without that thought?

Finally, the Byron Katie work gets us to find “turn-arounds” and to find examples of the truth in each of these turn-arounds.

For example, if my belief was “She doesn’t care about me”, then the turn-arounds might be:

a) “She does care about me” (and then I would have to find three examples of how she cares about me).

b) “I don’t care about her” (I’ve turned around the subject and object) (and then I would have to find three examples of this new statement being true).

c) “I don’t care about me” (I’ve turned it around to find out if I’m projecting my own belief onto “her”) (and again, find three examples of when this has been true).

3. Give the belief a character and get creative.

Imagine the belief is “No one cares about me.” Imagine the character inside your head who says to you: “No one cares about you.”

  • What does this character look like?
  • What are some of his/her favourite things to say?
  • If he/she had a career, what would it be?
  • What does this character do after hours? Who is this character friends with?

Give your character a name (perhaps “Big Bully” works for this example) and get creative: draw a picture of him/her, make a paper bag puppet of him/her.

Next time you hear that belief in your head, you can say, “Oh, it’s Big Bully”. You can take two minutes to pull out your paper bag puppet and put on a little play in which Big Bully is the star.

And then you can say: “Okay, Big Bully, I’ve heard you, but now I remember that you’re just one piece of me, you’re not ALL of me. And I’m going to go back to listening to some of my other thoughts now.”


Morsels of Change question to ponder:

Who would I be without this belief?


How’s That Like Your Life? A Gestalt Self-Awareness Prompt

This post was originally published as an edition of the Morsels of Change newsletter. If you like it, you may wish to sign up here!

Morsels of Change question to ponder:

How’s That Like Your Life?

Last night the Transpersonal Therapy Centre (TTC), of which I am a graduate, held an open house for new students. It seemed timely for me to honour some of what I learned in that program by referencing it in this newsletter.

Sometime during my first year at the TTC, when we were up to our necks in Gestalt psychology, “How’s that like your life?” became a catch-phrase for my cohort. (I’m sure it does every year, for every cohort.)

It went something like this:

Someone would start a piece of therapy by talking about something that had been capturing their attention, and sooner or later one of us would interrupt with, “How’s that like your life?”

“I decided to wear this necklace; it’s shiny but understated–”
—> “How’s that like your life?”

“In my dream I was running away, and I couldn’t catch my breath–”
—> “How’s that like your life?”

“I got really frustrated in the group because I couldn’t get my point across–”
—> “How’s that like your life?”

“So I did all the cleaning and the dishes and got angry about it–”
—> “How’s that like your life?”

“I felt guilty because I didn’t even tell her that I wasn’t going to show up–”
—> “How’s that like your life?”

The theory that we were drawing on, Gestalt-wise, is that everything that we notice out in the universe is a projection of our own making. What we see around us is what is inside us. The good I see in you is my projection of my own goodness onto you. The bad I see in you is a projection of my own badness onto you. The perspective I have on what happened is a projection of my internal perspective. The way I behaved is a projection of my internal interpretation.

The gift is that everything you see around you is fodder for your own growth, because it illuminates your projections. The world around you points you to what you need to pay attention to within yourself.

What’s been capturing your attention this week? Take a few moments and think about it. Jot down some of the characteristics about this thing or event that’s been capturing your attention. And then look at those characteristics and inquire of yourself: “How’s that like my life?”

Morsels of Change question to ponder:

How’s that like your life?

Attention to Your Highest Self

This post was originally published as an edition of the Morsels of Change newsletter. If you like it, you may wish to sign up here!

Morsels of Change question to ponder:

What parts of yourself get the most attention?

A few years ago, Otto Scharmer’s blog post about Attentional Violence made a big impression on me. In short, he writes that it is a kind of violence to not be seen in terms of who we really are and who we can become. Too often we’re only seen in terms of where we’ve been and what we’ve done. We — and those around us — inflict attentional violence when we withold our attention from our highest possibility.

I see that sort of attentional violence with many coaching clients; I see it in myself. Too often my attention is focused on how I’m messing up, what I’ve got wrong, what I don’t know, what I can’t do.

Rarely do I put my attention to my highest possibility, my greatest potential, the person I am becoming, who I am when I am at my best.

What a gift it can be to each other and ourselves to start placing our attention on that open space of our own becoming and unfolding, instead of the tight, constricted place of the story we know about ourselves.


A question for you to ponder:

What parts of yourself get the most attention?

Growth Happens at the Edges

This post was originally published as an edition of the Morsels of Change newsletter. If you like it, you may wish to sign up here

A question to ponder: Where are your edges?

In one of the personal growth / spiritual / psychological books stacked in my current reading pile, I came across a paragraph on our struggles as indications of where we are growing.

It’s not exactly a new concept — the phrases “learning zone”, “leading edge”, “spiritual frontier” all come to mind — but was explained in a way that put a new spin on it for me. The author writes that the things we have built into our lives and now do without struggle are no longer indicators of our growth edges. The places where we do struggle are where we are being called to step up and grow.

For example, I know a lot of people who have built themselves healthy exercise and healthy eating routines. It isn’t even a question for them whether they’ll go running four times a week or eat five servings of vegetables a day — they just do it. They have made discipline, self-care, and health built-in priorities.

On the other hand, I also know many people who face a daily struggle to recommit to exercise and recommit to eating vegetables. For these people, the daily struggle is an indication that they are being called to grow. Each of us can determine what growth is being called forth: are we being called to grow in our capacity for discipline? For enthusiasm? For valuing our health?

The take-away for me is to look at the places where I am struggling (e.g. my half-assed meditation practice, or my on-again off-again spiritual reading practice) with gratitude: the struggle is illuminating for me clearly the ways in which my soul is trying to grow, the growth that is being called forth in me.

Where are your edges?