Why we must take care of ourselves

The term self care can be thrown around a lot like a buzz word and you may already be thinking, what more is there to know that I haven’t already heard? What I want to share with you is why self care is important, signs that you may need to make self care more of a priority and tips for doing just that. I’ll also share my case study of how I neglected self care for many years and where that got me.

The definition of self care is: the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

How many of us do this? When we are under stress thinking about our self care is not what typically comes up first. More likely it is the source of the stress that grabs our focus and attention. I think realistically the self care part does not even come up until we are in a health crisis or a place of exhaustion and we are forced to consider it. Otherwise we keep on going doing what our primitive brain tells us is most important. 

We must pay more attention to our well-being. We cannot be the best version of ourselves without doing so. You are no good to anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself completely first. We tend to put our own needs at the end of the list. Which is rooted in good intentions. But just like when you are on a plane and you are told to place your oxygen mask on first then assist children and others it is because you must take care of yourself first in order for you to even be able to help others. This really is the same thing in our lives. By taking care of ourselves we are in effect taking care of others in our life in the best ways possible. 

When I cleaned up my own self care practice, I recognized that it made the energy in the household better. I recognize that as the Mom I would often set the tone. Do any of you feel that? There was this saying I heard somewhere in my life…If Momma ain’t happy, no one is happy. It’s a funny thought, but I really saw how that was true in my own family. 

If I was stressed out, I might see my kids act out. If I was on edge I noticed my husband was on edge. Yes, we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions but I realize how much power I have with the energy that I put out in my family, my community and in the world. If I want more peace in my day, my life, the world. I start with my putting out more peace into my family, my community and the world. 

We say things to ourselves that we would never say to anyone else we love. Don’t you love yourself too? God has taught us we are all 100% worthy. We are worthy of our own love, patience and forgiveness. 

Notice when you are so much kinder and compassionate to others than you are to yourself.. 

We must learn compassion for ourselves. It truly is a skill we can practice and get better at. 

Many of us don’t even know what is possible in taking better care of ourselves because we are stuck in thought loops and patterns. This is where coaching can help show you a new path and challenge your prior belief systems and thought loops. 

So what might be some signs of sacrificing our self care?

The body has a really fascinating way of letting you know when you are out of alignment. I don’t think we look at it in this way enough. When your body is showing symptoms and signs it is trying to tell you something. It’s only way to get your attention is to send these signals. 

You may get sick often

You feel anxious, irritable, or on edge

You never feel great, even when you’re not “sick”

You are always tired. Especially in the afternoon

You suffer from migraines or headaches

You can’t even remember the last time you went to the doctor

You eat poorly

You are dependent on caffeine or alcohol, drugs

You feel like you are in a brain fog

You feel stressed out and overwhelmed

You don’t take vacations or plan time for relaxation & enjoyment

You can’t name what activities bring you joy

You struggle to stay present with people

You struggle to smile or enjoy laughter

You just want to be alone and distance yourself from people

Your mindset is negative

You focus on everything wrong in your life and the world rather than what is good and what you want to see more of

So Why are we doing this to ourselves? There could be many reasons, here are a few to ponder. 

Childhood trauma or adverse childhood experiences.

Learned behavior by example. Belief systems we are shown and taught by repetition. 

The world advertises we should do more, be more. SUPERHERO SYNDROME.

We compare our lives to others and tell a story.

We  continue to add pressure to ourselves due to perfectionism 

We aren’t in tune with what we really want and why.

We associate our worthiness and value with what we accomplish.

We aren’t taught self compassion. We just don’t know how!

Tips for Improving your Self Care

Create a self care routine. Start small.

Work on cleaning up your past.

Allow yourself to slow down.

Put a priority on you.

Clean up your mind.

Know what you want and why.

Separate story from fact.

Make a plan for everything in your life: work, family, fun, self care.

Stop saying things to yourself you would never say to others you love.

Take a proactive approach for practicing self compassion.

Do not believe the myth that self care is selfish!! It is absolutely not!

Here are some good starter questions to ask yourself

In what ways are you not caring for yourself and it is spilling over into how you are able to show up for others?

What warning signs is your body sending you and you have been ignoring it?

What are the self care actions you really want to incorporate more into your life but you think you can’t?

What do you think the positive effects would be on your life if you started doing those things?

Why are you not doing it? What are the thoughts and stories you keep repeating?

So let me share with you my case study. I used to be a person that filled my to-do list up with what everyone else needed and essentially I would see what time was left over at the end for myself. What I never was able to pause and see is that there was never going to be any time for me. I did this for over 25 years before I faced the reality of what those decisions created for me. So from my early 20’s until late 40’s this was my routine. 

I would get up, snooze my alarm for as long as I could get away with, finally wake up, check my email and social media. Then get mad at myself for spending that much time. Hurry up and shower, get ready, run out the door without a plan for breakfast or lunch. Speed to work, work all day long typically from 7:30am until I got done. Which got done was a never ending target for me. I had this idea that in order to be at peace I had to have every possible thing accomplished. All email attended to and everything clean for the next day. Come on, we all know how hard that is. So I would work until 5:00 – 7:00PM at the office sometimes later. When I would get home, I would constantly be glued to my phone and would ultimately feel the need to get out my computer and work which I often did until midnight. Now during the years my kids were younger you can see the flaw in this plan. As their needs came up I just viewed it as less time I had to get it all done and I was not present with them. I was always thinking about what I needed to do next. I stressed and overwhelmed myself constantly thinking this was the only way. 

So where was the time for my self care? There wasn’t any. There were times when my husband and I would break away for a bike ride with our cycling team but I just found a way to make that stressful and overwhelming too. I would always want to do some form of enjoyable exercise, like a walk outside. I would always want to read. I NEVER HAD TIME. Oh how many times I complained I just don’t have time. It is all a lie. We make time for what is important to us. 

Years of this routine led me to a very poor mental outlook. I was so negative. I got so negative I began to tell myself I can’t even stand myself. My future outlook deteriorated and I began to feel hopeless about a future life that I loved living. I tried to stuff that down and tuck it away. I was quite amazing at pushing harder and harder and then wearing that like a superhero badge. But even with that will power I was not showing up well for myself or my family. As some of you know my story by July 2020 I was fed up and I was starting to really work on my mindset and habits. I began to work with a functional medicine doctor in September and learned that I was in adrenal fatigue, my gut was out of wack, I had a fair amount of inflammation….many of my systems had taken a hit and were functioning in high stress mode all the time. If I continued on this path I have no doubt it would lead me to illness and disease. 

I began to put an importance on self care and over time was able to get clear about what was important to me. I made some lifestyle changes but I am not even saying you have to make changes as big as I did like such as changing my career. Just learning that my excuse of never enough time was bull crap was life changing. I have never said it since. 

So what do my days look like now? 

Well, I have a planning system that I learned through my coaching certification that allows me to be extremely productive called Monday Hour One. I use my prefrontal intelligent brain to plan in advance what I want to accomplish each week and I follow it. I have used this system for over a year and it has been life changing. I accomplish so much in less time. I don’t feel guilty having fun and I put a priority on my self care. It’s actually the opposite of how we are generally trained. I start with self care, personal tasks of importance then my business appointments, tasks etc. You want to talk about empowering and motivating! I don’t care if you are at work 8-10 hours a day, you still get to decide what you do with the other hours. You get to take charge and decide. Don’t let your primitive brain tell you that you are tired and a better idea is to grab a glass of wine and that bag of Oreos!

So I wake up each day between 6-6:30, I usually don’t need an alarm as my body just wakes up naturally. I don’t check my phone first. I use the Headspace App to complete a 10-12 minute guided meditation. I journal and dump all the thoughts in my brain for 5-10 minutes. I go through a spiritual prayer practice I have. I learned this practice from the speaker/author Matthew Kelly and it has allowed me to go deeper in my prayer life. I may choose to add in a manifestation practice from Wayne Dyer when I am really wanting to go after something in my life. 

I will exercise 30-60 minutes each day which may consist of any of the following, outdoor walk, outdoor bike ride, indoor ride on my bike trainer. 

I will spend 15-20 minutes doing an at home yoga practice, I follow Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube. I will be sure to stretch. 

I feed my brain positivity whether that is audio books or podcasts that keep me focusing on a positive mindset. This is all before 9am!!

I follow my plan on my calendar as far as my specific work day and what I will focus on and accomplish. 

I am able to be present and available to my family when we are all gathered together.

These self care practices I have implemented are huge in my momentum! And it has allowed me to make positive changes in my life and improve my health. The numbers don’t lie. 

I want to always remind you! I am not 100% perfect. That is not the goal. I can tell when I skip my self care practices. I can feel the difference. So over  time I recognized how valuable it was for me to keep up a self care routine. To hold myself accountable and know that these steps I take keep me healthier physically and mentally which allows me to be the best I can for all those around me. Even strangers I don’t know. I have recognized that when I take care of myself I have more patience out in the world. I don’t get upset over the small stuff and I can let people be who they are. All because I have more inner peace.

Now, I have come to understand that I have to be very intentional with my self care practice. I have to remind myself how important it is. Notice when I am feeling the effects of not giving enough time to my self care and learn how to not give in to my primitive brain (my inner critic) when it says that I should be doing something more productive with my time. Or when it wants me to cut my self care practice routine short for something else that feels more important. I remind myself that my mental & physical health is the foundation of everything I am able to do in my life. Without that strong foundation it eventually breaks down and shows up in the way of illness…mental or physical. 

I hope you will think about 1 or 2 things that you can start doing to put yourself first. Knowing it will come back to everyone you spend your time with. It is not a waste of time. 

So what are you going to do today, this week, this month that is all for you? Answer that question and then hold yourself accountable like you would do for everyone else.

Self care means giving yourself permission to pause.

Cecilia Tran

Take the first step

I wanted to share my journey of taking the first step on making a big change in my life. You know how we all go through life wanting things for ourselves, whether they are new experiences, better health, a change in direction or tangible things?

I think it’s normal for us to want but we sometimes push it aside or listen to our primitive brain as to why it is not possible or even worth trying.

My takeaway from my journey is that the first step truly is the hardest.

I decided I wanted to get healthier, I decided I wanted to change my view of exercise from something of a stressful job to something more soul filling and enjoyable. I decided I wanted to stop drinking so much sweet red wine. The first step I took was making a financial commitment to work with a functional medicine doctor to get to the root cause of my symptoms and move towards optimal living. I will never regret that decision!

I decided I wanted a career change and I set a date for myself, but until I took that first step towards it which was signing up for a continuing education certification class, I knew I could change my mind. I will never regret that decision!

When you have something that you really want, you like your reasons for it and you feel the desire towards it don’t dismiss it away. Don’t ignore it. Don’t listen to your negative primitive brain that tells you it would be safer or easier to stay where you are. When you take a step towards something you are also gaining valuable information along the journey so that you can continue to determine if this feels like what is right.

If we never even take a step, we never even know what is available to us.

I can’t imagine my life now had I not taken those first steps and committed to moving towards these things I really wanted for myself. Even if it’s something you’ve dreamed of or thought about for a period of time, there will be these defining moments when you really feel a strong pull to it. I think this is when we really need to listen to that and ask ourselves, what is the real risk in moving towards this goal? Your brain may tell a story that it could be a disaster but it could also be amazing.

It may not be today, tomorrow or next month. But there will be a day when you feel a stronger desire to take the first step towards something.

Maybe you should just take that first step and jump. The only failure is giving up or never trying.

You must take the first step. The first steps will take some effort, maybe pain. But after that, everything that has to be done is real-life movement.

Ben Stein

Unhappy People

I have noticed a theme with clients as I have been working with them. I will hear them say that they tend to be a pretty happy person for the most part but other people around them just bring them down. Or I do fine until I am around a really negative person. I want to challenge those of you that think this way that someone else’s behavior, mood or energy should not have that power over yours.

I used to be one of those unhappy people, so I now have the advantage of seeing both sides. I used to envy people that appeared on the outside so happy all the time. I used to judge their smiles and wonder if it was forced. Goodness the things my brain came up with. 

I have done so much work on myself and so I got curious as to why I was an unhappy person and why I would claim that the negative energy of others affected me in some way.

We are only responsible for ourselves. And no one else’s negativity jumps out of them and onto us. It’s not like it is an unhappiness germ that infects us. This just doesn’t happen. You are ultimately having a thought about their behavior which creates a feeling in you. Once you know and believe this. You can create a new protocol for how you react to unhappy people. 

Don’t give someone that power over you. 

I have since learned that I can have compassion for people as they are. I now know that if they are out of alignment it is very difficult for them to be happy with themselves and this often spills over into how they show up in the world. 

So what are the reasons we tend to be unhappy? I am here to tell you it all starts with our thoughts. No matter what happens in our life we have a thought about it. But let me go broader with that answer to start. 

There are actions that can lead to unhappiness. We may intentionally choose these or they can also be subconscious. 

  1. Comparing ourselves with others and using it against ourselves. Being in the habit of comparing ourselves to others will leave us in a constant state of discontent. If we use the comparison to get inspired and create goals for ourselves that creates possibility. But comparing and despairing just opens us up to unhappiness. 
  2. Lack of gratitude. We need to count our blessings everyday. How many of us have the things we once wished for and what do we do, we move on to the next thing to accomplish or acquire. Truly being grateful for everything we have places us in a place of abundance rather than lacking or scarcity which leads to unhappiness. 
  3. We are stuck in our own comfort zone. We all have this primitive brain of ours. Its main focus is to pursue pleasure, comfort and to exert as little energy as possible. This is what keeps us safe in the cave and in our comfort zone. But as humans we also are meant to evolve and grow. This is what has allowed our species to evolve and thrive. Our big human brains are naturally hardwired to acquire knowledge. When we stay still and content it can cause unrest within ourselves. Because we are pushing away this natural desire to grow and evolve. 
  4. You are living in the past or future. We tend to either be stuck in our past and we look for patterns and certainty from our past to decide what we are capable of. Or we are so focused on the future that we worry about what is going to happen to us and where we are going to end up. WIthout being intentional we may stay in the past or future so much that we get stuck in indecision. We get so conflicted with what to do next that we do nothing. When we live in the present moment we can create our future and we can decide what we make our past mean to serve us going forward. We must be mindful to live in this present moment. 
  5. You are not making healthy lifestyle choices – addiction, buffering, poor diet, poor sleep. If you don’t take care of the fundamentals your body will alert you in many ways. When we don’t physically or mentally feel our best and do things that are giving us the best chance for health we are going to deal with issues which can add to our unhappiness and make us feel like a victim to our circumstances. But we actually had all the control to begin with. We get to decide what actions are serving us and which ones are hurting us. 

What you should gather from this list is that what makes us unhappy comes from within ourselves. There is no one else that we can place the blame on that makes it any better, 

Likewise then, can we allow others to deal with their own unhappiness without making it mean something about us or be our problem to solve?

You know, I will share an example with you from my own life. Something that I had to step up and do the work on myself about. 

I can recall how I would always ask my husband….what’s wrong? He would walk in the door after work and I would look at him and try to gauge his demeanor and if my brain did not perceive it as happy I would ask “what’s wrong?” Of course he would typically say “Nothing” and then my primitive brain would go to work to try to make sense of that. It would either create stories or try to find evidence of how I am somehow part of his low mood. 

I learned a few things. I noticed that seeing others unhappiness would just remind me of my own. So, I would often be projecting my own feelings of frustration onto someone else. It’s like it kept my brain busy without cleaning up my own brain. I had this false sense that if everyone around me is happy I can be happy. 

I learned that life is going to be 50/50 and I can retrain my brain to believe this and live it each day. I don’t need to follow my primitive brain scanning for trouble at every corner. I can just let life happen and I deal with those things in the moment.  I know some days may be filled with tremendous joy and others could have an overabundance of pain. There was this false sense of security that I was somehow preventing some negative circumstance from happening in my life. But what happens when you are so focused on finding the negatives in life? You find it!!

I learned that being at peace requires no effort to BE HAPPY. I learned that I can feel my feelings…all of them and I survive. Not just the ones that feel good. So when I learned this about myself, I realized this applies to everyone around me. We are not meant to feel happiness all the time. We need the contrast in life to experience the fullness of joy. 

Look, the goal here is to not be happy all the time. And hide our pain. We want to understand our pain and process it in a healthy way so we aren’t a walking time bomb of frustration and anger ready to take it out on someone so we can feel better for just a short burst. 

Remember, you get to choose your own thoughts about anything that happens around you. That includes how other people act, what they say, what they do. You get to make it mean something about you. Or you get to recognize that they have their own model going on in their brain and it does no good for you to interject yourself into it. 

It is human nature to feel like we need to sympathize or join them. But the best thing we can do for them is to maintain our own emotional balance. Keep showing up in a way that feels authentic and true for ourselves. Deal with our own things in our brain and let other people be who they are at that moment. There are so many other ways to support people rather than trying to solve for their unhappiness.

“Miserable people focus on what they hate about their life. Happy people focus on what they love about their life.”

Zig Ziglar

Managing your mind is the key to everything!

Everything changed for me when I learned how to be more mindful and intentional with how my brain spends its time. When I took charge of this and directed it more, I started to see my hopes and dreams come true. 

So I specifically want to ask you…..who is running your life? 

I am sure you are thinking, well that would be me Carisa, I am running my own life. But I want to ask you again, who is deciding what you think about and how you spend your time? It is part of you, sure. But I have a hunch it is the primitive part of your brain making most of the decisions on what you think about the majority of your day. 95% of the time, that is where our brain works from. 

I am not really talking about the tasks that you must do for your household or work. I am referring to that endless chatter that is going on inside of your head nearly every hour while you are awake. That background noise. You know what I am talking about right? You wake up with it, you go to sleep with it. 

How do I know this? Because I have the same brain components as you and I had that same inner voice inside my head offering me all sorts of demotivating, worrisome thoughts. I still have it…but I decide when I open the door to it. 

You know, most of us would be very strict on who we let walk into our homes. We feel that is a safe place for us and we must know the person pretty well to let them into our safe space. But let’s say what if you did know this person well, but every time they come they cause a major disruption to your household, your family. How likely are you to allow them back without some boundaries and ground rules? You would protect yourself and your family and make the hard decisions that had to be made. It seems so obvious. Right? 

But what I want to offer you is. Do you guard your brain the same way? Are you particular about who you let in? Who you let take up space, talk your ears off and then just walk away when they are done being a negative drain on you in your own private space? What do you let in? 

I think if you are like me the answer is no…because sometimes that inner chatter is in fact you. Your own primitive brain and inner critic speaking to you. I used to think I needed to listen to every word this voice said. I used to think I have a pretty smart brain and I think this is wisdom and experience speaking to me. So listen up Carisa, there may be something useful here. 

But I was never taught that the primitive part of our brain has a purpose to seek pleasure, comfort and to exert as little energy as possible. Oh and it wants to keep you safe too. So what does it do, it is constantly scanning for danger. Looking for threats and circumstances that could mean trouble. 

So we get pulled into this patterning. We listen to it. We go with it and sit with these thoughts too long. And when we do that we are most certainly going to have a feeling about it and then based on those vibrations in our body which is what feelings are, we are going to take some sort of action. It all happens so fast. 

What I am suggesting is that we truly must become more mindful of what is happening inside our brain. We must look at it as a contributor not an authority. We must decide when to open the door, when to listen intently to what it has to say. And then we must make a decision as to whether this visitor is helpful to us or not. 

So what can we do to become more mindful?

We must overcome our brain’s desire for efficiency. Our brain loves patterning. This is not great news for all the thought loops and belief systems that are no longer serving us but they are so unconscious they visit us each and every day. 

So what I do is a mindfulness practice.

I do thought downloads daily. Which is me spending 5-10 minutes dumping all the stuff in my head. Anything and everything floating around. No matter how random or stupid it may seem. I don’t judge it. If I am thinking it, I get it out. I look at the thoughts on paper and I start to question them. Which ones are stories not facts and I can call bullcrap on it right away. I use the self coaching tool called the model that I teach to work through thoughts that I want to get curious about. Ultimately if I don’t like what results I am seeing due to what these thoughts are creating for me, then I will do some intentional models to try on new thoughts that could also be true that I can begin to believe. In this process I will decide what I want to feel, create and do. I will decide what thoughts I need to believe in order for me to create and feel what is needed for what I want to accomplish. (Side note, I previously made a list where I write down 25 things I want more of in my life (they may be things, accomplishments, experiences, improvements) I always keep these top of mind. My thoughts need to match up to these goals. I make a list of these thoughts that can keep me moving towards my goals and I begin to pump them into my brain. I have used several approaches to do this. I have written the new thoughts on note cards, kept them by my bed and when I wake up I flip through them. Before I do anything else. I pump these motivating thoughts into my brain. 

Mornings have the most energy. So use your brain power to reprogram.

I have used affirmations or mantras. This can be very helpful for planting these new thoughts and ideas in your brain. It can be extremely powerful. For example when I was beginning my life coaching certification and I was so unsure of myself and my primitive brain had so much negative chatter to offer me, I practiced the affirmation, people need help and I can help people. I would repeat this phrase several times in the morning and when I would notice self doubt coming in I would repeat it. It was just enough of a pause and redirection that I was able to continue moving forward without getting stuck in the negative emotion that would have come up otherwise. 

With new thoughts and affirmations I have used post it notes on my bathroom mirror, on my desk, and on the computer. Currently I use a free app call YAPP and I enter in a few intentional thoughts I want to make more common in my brain and I set it to pop up on my phone and watch several times a day. The constant reminder throughout the day is helpful so when I see it I repeat it a couple times out loud to myself. I am retraining my brain. Just like if I lift weights and work to strengthen my muscles, I am doing that with my brain. So much of what we think about and do is because of the neural pathways we have built up. So two things need to happen to  create a new neural pathway. 1. We need to learn the new behavior or thoughts. 2. We need  to practice it. You have to do it enough to replace the old. So repeat, repeat repeat. 

The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. You decide what you want to think about and focus on. If you do not give your brain a direction, it will take over and decide for you. We can be certain that it is going to come from the primitive brain with negativity, scarcity and repetitiveness because that is what the primitive brain does and you are using that portion of your brain 95% of the time. 

My brain used to think about all sorts of things. Whatever it was focused on it was providing me with all sorts of chatter about it. Sometimes the voices were so constant it was exhausting. 

But once I learned how my brain works and what I need to do if I want to be more intentional and go after what I want more of in life, it all changed for me. I am still a work in progress but I am definitely much more mindful than I ever have been in my life and it shows because I am going after more of what I want in my life, managing my thoughts and feelings and taking proactive massive action. AND…I AM SEEING RESULTS. 

So if this feels familiar. The incessant chatter inside your head that never stops. Please know there is nothing wrong with you. You have a human brain and someone needs to manage it. That person has to be you.

“You either control your mind, or it controls you.”

– Napoleon Hill

Back to School & Parenting

I totally understand all that comes with trying to get back into the school routine. All the worry, stress and frustration that can come along with it. Having a 20 year old son and a 13 year old daughter, I have quite a few years of experience under my belt of raising kids in the world we live in, in a world that is so rapidly evolving faster than our brains can sometimes keep up with. 

All the experiences and challenges that I have faced as a parent place me in a position where I have something to offer parents on this journey as well. I often think about if only I had known about life coaching when I was raising my son, how much differently I could have shown up for him and myself. But I also know that my journey was this way for a reason and I can see all the good that came from me having these experiences exactly as they are. It gave me all the passion I now have to help other parents. 

I want to talk about why it is important as parents for us to grow in our own emotional management. What stressors are present for parents with school aged children and how we can show up in a manner that we really want to for our kids. 

I have talked about stress before. How chronic or toxic stress can reach your children. I know no one really wants that for their loved ones. It is that we are so consumed by the habits and routine we are in, that we often can’t focus on what ripple effect it is having on our loved ones. We also tend to not be thinking in the place of the future. We are sort of living in the moment doing what feels right and not looking to our future self for wisdom in how we want to handle various situations. I bring this stress topic up because it relates to our precious children. The truth is if you don’t take care of yourself, you will be overly invested in your kids being happy. What do I mean by taking care of yourself? It really applies to the whole you. Mentally, physically, spiritually. But I want to focus on emotional management specifically. So much of what we do or say to our children is coming from our past experiences, our current perspective. Sometimes our own unhandled trauma and pain. 

As a coach my mission is to work with individuals that want to take their life from good to great. I do this by helping them learn tools to manage their mind. I am here to help functioning people process things from their past, and decide how they want to live for their future self. I help you clean up things in your life for your future. And your kids are part of that future right?

I know the majority of parents want the best for their children. What we do is often rooted in love. But we sometimes can’t see beyond that. We can’t see how our own brain is causing us to show up in ways that we may not choose if we were using our evolved intelligent brain (our prefrontal cortex).

So, you have your brain. They have their brain. You will have two different perspectives. Especially as kids reach the teenage years…13, that healthy desire to separate is actually supposed to be there. It is supposed to happen so they can grow and evolve to become a fully functioning adult within the next 5 years. Now, we know that a human brain is not fully developed until mid to late 20’s however at 18 in our world, they are granted that adult label and the truth is they can decide to make their own way in the world. We may not like it. We may not like that at 18 we no longer have the rights by law to know they health information, even when we may be financially supporting them. But this is the reality we live in and it does no good to argue with that reality.

As parents we need to be aware of our desire to put their needs below our wants. Rather we should practice being curious as to why they see things the way they do, why they make the decisions they do. Can we be open to accepting that there are 2 perspectives and we are only seeing through one?

We grow up in a world where we are fed all kinds of things….sometimes toxic things. We may want to be thinking better thoughts, but sometimes we can’t hear that when we are in a noisy place and have all these thoughts swirling around in our head. Coaching cleans this up and allows me to be available to hear something different. So I worked on my own emotional management and cleaning up things in my past, looking closer at old belief systems that are no longer serving me. It required me to move into emotional adulthood and be hyper aware of my emotions 100% of the time. This is what I want to ask you to look at? Are you attaching your emotions too tightly to your children?

You know, the Concept of a lawnmower parent was shared with me through my continuous training. That is the parent that is out front clearing the path. But the truth is, our kids will need to make mistakes and have negative circumstances in life to find out who they are and who they aren’t. You cannot do that work for them. Just like your parents could not have done that work for you.  From my own experience, I tried to control everything. I tried to have them follow my plan. I tried to make it pretty and perfect. I tried to run ahead of my kids with that lawnmower clearing the way to protect them. I tried to live through them, I tried to make them overachievers, I made them my job, my world and my entire focus. I know this sounds admirable and the right thing to do…but there is a distinction between the motivation and energy we bring. What I want to show you is that distinction. 

For example, if they were ok, succeeding and doing their best…then I could be ok. This is not healthy. It is making our kids responsible for our emotional health.

So what are the stressors that come up when our kids are headed back to school?

I know there are certainly more than I have not captured but here is where I will start. 

Homework – oh my goodness, does that word alone bring up a trigger for you? I remember so many fights around the kitchen table and homework. 

Kid drama – the fact is we live in a world of all types of people and this will allow drama to come up involving our kids at times. If you’re the parent out front with the lawnmower clearing the path for your kids you are going to just be draining yourself trying to solve for any drama that comes up. 

Managing schedules – our world can promote having our kids involved in so many things. Sometimes at a negative overload. What feeds this can be our desire to have them experience many different things, to build their skills, to become proficient and well rounded. To experience everything so they know what they really want to do. Again, all well meaning intentions. But sometimes these hectic schedules are just training our kids to not learn how to slow down. How to really focus on only a few areas at one time and still allow time for peace, reflection and recharging. Sleep cannot be viewed as the only time they have to rest.

Emotions – we have our own emotions to manage (which the majority of us were not taught how to do well) and then we have our kids emotions. Add in hormones and puberty and you can have the ingredients for emotions off the rails. 

Anxiety – not only do our kids have their own bouts with anxiety, but we as parents are experiencing anxiety in wanting our kids to have a happy pleasant experience and not feel discomfort. 

Separation anxiety/missing them when they go back to school. Again, sometimes our kids present the signs of separation anxiety but we as parents also go through a change when they have been with us all summer and now it is time to let them go back out into that unpredictable world. This anxiety can drive our actions and how we show up. 

Concerns for their health & safety. With the circumstances of danger that have been coming about in our schools, our comfort level as parents is understandably off the charts, we hear these stories of tragedy and of course it makes us worried about their safety. Add to that the health concerns that Covid presented and it is just another thing that we get to put in our parental backpack we carry around on our backs. 

Lastly what about communication? After all I just shared is it no wonder that being intentional and grounded in our communication is suffering? The communication we give to our children as well as the communication between both parents. For those in a 2 parent household as well as those in a shared parenting situation. How do you keep yourself calm and collected?

What I am suggesting is managing your mind. When I managed my thoughts around these areas I have exampled, it changed everything. I realized I had a choice in making an intentional decision on how I wanted to handle it. Rather than going with what my primitive brain offered me at the moment. 

No one gives us a roadmap for how to do this parenting thing. We are not trained in such a crucial area of our life. Learning how to navigate caring for and raising another human being. And so we all pretend it’s ok and we only show what is going right in our lives. Meanwhile…we hide our pain, we question ourselves, beat ourselves up and still feel like we are a failure. We are ashamed and embarrassed to talk about it for fear that we are alone.

There is another way. There is a way to grow, evolve and find a healthy middle ground. There is a way to manage our own emotions and teach our kids to do the same. There is a way to not make our kids responsible for our emotional balance.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Learning how to manage my own emotions has been a game changer in how I communicate and build a relationship with my kids. If I knew there was someone I could have worked with to improve my own emotional management when I was in the thick of it, it would have changed everything for me, my husband and my kids.

So where do you start? Go back and make note of the list of parental stressors I shared. These are areas that you could most certainly look at ahead of time and decide how you want to show up rather than being on autopilot of what you have done in the past. 

Beyond that, I’ll leave you with 5 things to think about as you begin a new school year with the kids.

  1. Become aware of your thoughts. Recognize what thoughts are coming from your primitive brain and are there because you have just thought them many times before. 
  2. Stop saying we want our kids to be happy. The best gift we can give our children is to show our kids how to embrace the 50/50 life. Enjoyment and happiness as well as how to process pain, discomfort and disappointment. It’s ok for life to be hard. As parents we actually need to let some of that happen. There is something very powerful when the parent isn’t worried when a kid is going through a difficult time. When we try to take away discomfort from our kids our over sensitivity. We can’t change what our kids are experiencing. Find the middle ground on supporting our kids and letting them figure things out on their own. 
  3. Don’t hang our emotions on our kids. Realize that they are living their 50/50 human experience and your role is to show up with clean energy. Clean meaning it doesn’t have all our junk wrapped up in it. You can bring guidance, wisdom, strength and knowledge to them to share and as they get older let them make their own decision and learn from the consequences. 
  4. Remember that these school aged years are such a small portion of their life. You don’t have to add all this pressure on yourself that you must do it all right to produce a good human. Sometimes people do everything right and things don’t go the way you would have liked right? This is being a human. When we leave our parents oversight, we all have our own agency to do what we want to do. If we try to control our kids lives we are treating them like chess pieces. We get caught up in believing that there is one path for our kids. This comes from what we make it mean. We make their actions mean we are failing as a parent. THIS IS FALSE!!!
  5. Lastly I am nowhere near perfect and that is not what I am promoting here. I am just asking you to step into the discomfort of being a parent and not try to shoo away what doesn’t feel good. How can you show up for all the discomfort of raising kids? How can you not make it mean anything negative about you or them? How can you get curious and ask yourself what is this here to teach me? How can I grow from this and show my kids an example of how to grow from these experiences rather than wishing they never happened? Just like you I am a work in progress. I still make mistakes. I still let my primitive brain drive me around before I catch on what is happening. 

I’ll leave you with an example. My daughter’s first day of school was yesterday and I noticed that I was anxiously awaiting seeing her after sports practice so I could ask that all too common question….How was your day? And I recognized the energy I was hanging out there waiting on that answer. I realized if she said something negative I was going to feel the emotional drop and go into fear, sadness, a real problem solving mode. And I really had a hidden agenda secretly hoping that the answer was a resounding Great Mom! So I could breathe and relax. Yes, I have done so much work on myself and here I was. But the beautiful thing was while I was in it experiencing it at that exact moment I was also on to myself and recognizing what I was doing. So she gave the typical answer that I think so many kids do and said “Good”. Same thing she has said so many times before. So many days over so many years.  And then I felt myself wanting to probe more. But I decided to stop and let her be and let her breathe. Knowing we have worked to build a trusting relationship where she can come to me when she has something she wants to talk about. I don’t need her to tell me how her day is anymore. When I make it about me, it is fear. I can just be there ready to listen to what she wants to offer me. Can you feel the difference? Waiting to hear their positive words so you can relax and breathe versus just being a steady presence that they know you and your home are a safe place? 

So remember when we don’t do our work we fiddle with our kids. It is not their job to live a life that makes us happy. When we become emotionally available, we can have new conversations that we have never had before. So now I am intentionally working on when I see my daughter after school, I will just say, I love you and it’s good to see you.

We’ve got this parents!!! One day at a time!

“The sign of good parenting is not a child’s behavior; the sign of good parenting is a parent’s behavior.”

Andy Smithson

Perfectionism

I can say that I am a recovering perfectionist. I actually don’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t aware of this trait that I had. I would often make a joke that I had OCD as a kid. I don’t really know if I did have an official form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but I was aware of my behaviors enough to recognize when it would show up throughout my life. 

With the new white space I had created in my life over the last 2 years I had been facing the areas that needed the most improvement in my life head on. One of my first that I focused on was an addiction to work. My journey of discovery on why I overwork enlightened me to discover a root cause of why I was overworking.  And that was the desire for perfection.  

I was able to recognize it, evaluate it and ultimately change it over time. So my level pf perfectionism really looks completely different today. 

There are many contributing factors as to why someone may have a perfectionist trait. I’ll go into that as well as sharing the concerns of letting perfectionism go unaddressed in your career and personal life. I know where my perfectionist tendencies came from and I would hope that you could pinpoint those as well. 

The most common signs of perfectionism can be:

  • obsessing over the small stuff
  • trouble getting started or completing a project
  • stressing about receiving validation or approval
  • extremely high standards
  • stressed about your results
  • overachievement 
  • fear of failing
  • being self-critical of yourself and others
  • the belief it has to be this way

I think if you thought about that list and you could relate to a few of them that may not necessarily indicate that you have an unhealthy amount of perfectionism. But if you relate to a majority of them, most likely you will already have a sense that perfectionism does have an impact on your quality of life. You could recollect numerous examples in your life pretty easily. 

So where does it come from? The root of perfectionism is believing that your self worth is attached to your accomplishments. The truth is that we are all 100% worthy. From birth we are all created to be absolutely worthy and nothing takes that away from us. However, as we are exposed to the world we live in, our minds begin to create a story around what we should accomplish that makes us feel worthy. It can stem from early childhood experiences. Having parents or loved ones around us that have a very high standard or expectation can play a part. Once started it can be cemented by a fear of judgment or disapproval from others. And what do we know about a belief system that continues without a balanced look at it? It continues to grow stronger and stronger to the point that you believe this so wholeheartedly and it becomes very difficult to change the neural pathway in your brain that has been created. 

What are the downsides to perfectionism? Like anything there are many but here are a few key ones I’ll share 

Chronic Stress – perfectionism drives us to take on more, accomplish more and so we overdo it and this can lead to stress and burnout. 

Lost opportunity – when we are focused on perfection we lose precious time that we could accomplish something and move on to the next area for growth in our life. We could spend that wasted time on new experiences or more fulfilling opportunities. But when we are laser focused on the way our brain tells us we need to be, we often miss seeing this entirely.

Procrastination and Inefficiency – those that are focused on perfection often struggle with being inefficient and procrastinating. The focus is on doing it right and so sometimes getting started can be a struggle. The overthinking and over worrying that takes place before you even get started is a motivation stealer. 

Negative Self View – for a perfectionist the internal voice in your head can be non stop. That voice is there constantly telling you what you need to do better and then laying on the guilt when you don’t hit that bar. This leads to an overall dissatisfaction with life and frustration on a regular basis that is unhealthy over time. You just can’t enjoy where you are.

Passing it down – I find this one of the most compelling reasons to change your behaviors. I know that I inherited my tendencies from example and I could already see where the perfectionist tendencies I had for myself were being placed on my children. I had a hard time not wanting perfection for them. And let me tell you that crap does not work. You will be inviting in a whole new set of issues if you place your perfectionistic tendencies on your kids. Trust me on this!

So how do you Push Past Perfectionism?

For me, the biggest step forward has been to be more mindful and recognize when my perfectionist tendencies are at work. When something is so second nature it can be difficult to pause and process what is happening. Being more in the moment and hyper-aware has helped me with this. Once I can recognize what I am doing, I am then able to reason with myself why I am doing it this way. Then I can bring in a side of reality to question myself on my choices and validate whether or not they are warranted. 

I have a personal story I wanted to share with you as to why perfectionism can plague you in your personal and professional life and how to know when the level of perfectionism you have is unhealthy.

Recently, I rediscovered my love of twinkle lights! What typically was a Christmas season-only delight is now bringing me joy all year long! I found some very cost-effective, minimalistic, and low maintenance solar lights that I have been able to place around the outside of the house and leave them up all year through all seasons. Since I have been at home more than previous years, I have begun adding a few more lights to enjoy. 

It was a weeknight and I had worked quite a bit that day (see blog #1) and I thought I would head out for a soak in the hot tub to take away the stress of the day, some knots in my neck and reset with some quiet meditation. It was about 9:30 pm. As I headed over to the hot tub, I remembered that I have this one remaining strand of twinkle lights and I really wanted to add them to the decking around the hot tub. Yes! I said to myself, I can do this quickly and then my experience in the hot tub will be perfect.

I went back inside and grabbed my new strand of lights and thought to myself, “remember Carisa, if you aren’t careful, these can very easily get a knot in them since they are fragile copper wire and it takes so long to fix.” Yes, I had already had this happen a couple of times prior. So, I started placing the wire and I knew that I would have just enough to encompass the entire area I had envisioned. As I was halfway in about 10 minutes later, it began to rain. Ugh, I really wanted to get in the hot tub. Why did I start this project? It could have waited. Oh well, it’s not pouring, I will just finish this quickly and then still get in for the soak. A little rain won’t scare me away. As you can probably guess, my focus most likely shifted to moving quickly and less on the caution of a knot. 

Sure enough, moments later I have a knot. Just what I wanted to avoid. “It’s ok, I can get this one out just like all the others,” I said to myself out loud. But…it’s raining and all I wanted to do was get in the hot tub I thought to myself. So, I sat there in the light rain shower next to the hot tub working on this knot. I methodically worked with it so much that now I had it down to a little loop of a knot. Before I knew it, over 30 minutes had passed. There was a moment of awareness where I said to myself…”Carisa, you wanted to get in the tub, you still have time for a quick soak, finish putting this on tomorrow.” But, that would require me to be ok with leaving something half-finished. No, that is not an option here. Then I thought, well…is anyone going to see this little knot, just keep going and finish. No one will even see it. 

Well, here is how the story ended. I couldn’t let it go. I kept messing and messing until “SNAP”. I broke the wire in half and now the last 15 feet that I needed to finish putting on the railing went dark. No more lights. Now the problem shifted from the pesky knot to only having 10 feet of lights and will have to stop short. Half done, unfinished. Then comes the self-critical talk. Why couldn’t you just do it the next day in the daylight? Why couldn’t you just finish putting it up with a little knot? As I walked in the house defeated because I don’t have any new light sets and I have been banned from purchasing anymore…LOL…I look at the clock. It is 10:45!  For 1 hour and 15 minutes, this little project consumed and kept me from the relaxing plan I had for myself. 

This may seem like such a silly situation, but for me, it prompted a self-reflection process. Because this isn’t the first time this has happened and sometimes the story can involve others and that is where perfectionism can be harmful. The days that followed, I recognized where I got off track, I obsessed over the small stuff, I stressed about getting the project done, I focused on this belief that it had to be done and it had to be perfect. 

Looking back, I would have been happy with the knot being there and the rest of the railing twinkling away in the dark night. But instead, now I see an incomplete picture in front of me, not what I had mapped out in my head. But I decided to keep it, just as a reminder that people, life, plans, things….they don’t have to be PERFECT!! And there is an empowerment that comes with being able to accept things as they are and find the gratitude in it. 

By the way, I kept the broken section of the copper wire and shaped it in to a heart to remind myself that there is still beauty in imperfection. I just have to open my eyes to see it. 

Ok, so that is all I have to share for now about perfectionism. I hope that anyone out there that struggles with it, you will make yourself a list of action items you want to focus on. Just start somewhere and then build on your progress. You can overcome it just like I have. It has not gone away completely for me, but I am in the drivers seat making the conscious decisions which is so empowering.

“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.”

– Kim Collins

Why I left my 47-year family business and became a Life Coach.

What is a Life Coach?

Let me begin by stating what a Life Coach is for anyone that has yet to hear of this growing industry. A Life Coach is someone who can help you improve your life, feel better, and achieve your goals. A life coach does this by supporting you in a confidential, non-judgmental safe space allowing you to share your thoughts. A life coach can help you go after your goals or become aware of why you may feel stuck and how you can move forward. You really can’t see this yourself, and this is why having someone outside of your brain is powerful. A life coach will call you out, give tough love, and believe in you before you see it yourself.

Carisa and Life Coaching meet.

One might think that my career switch was sudden. Looking back at my former career, I can recognize how my desire to help others was present for quite some time. I would listen to team members. I would feel empathy for their pain & struggles. I would offer advice. I had a desire to see people grow and thrive. I wanted to show them what I saw in them. Things they may not be able to see in themselves.

So when the Covid pandemic came in March of 2020, I soon found myself sitting at home on the front porch watching our business shut off like a faucet. Client activity reduced to a trickle initially. As we were all trying to process what was happening, I suddenly found myself with a light calendar. Of course, my mind would soon race on how to survive the slowdown. For a brief time however, the hamster wheel stopped, and I stepped off.

I can’t express to you in words how bizarre this felt. It was nothing like I had ever experienced before. So many things I never noticed. It was as if they were now screaming at me. Birds chirping, the hummingbird buzzing past me to feed on the feeder hanging on my front porch, the red bird that was visiting daily and staring at me from the tree in my front yard. I started taking morning walks to clear my head. I watched the sun come up. I felt the wind and sun on my face. I met my daughter when she got off the school bus. I listened without agenda to my adult son. I smiled more. I laughed more. I tried to be less busy doing things. 

Of course, I was still worried about so much. Our team members. Keeping everyone safe by working remotely. Continuing to serve our clients and produce a product. However, I was being pulled in a new direction that I had not experienced before. Over the next 3 months, I started looking at my life and realizing how unhappy I was and how I was just getting by. My lifestyle had taken a toll on my mental and physical health, and I was tired of feeling this way. That led me to reach out to my former primary care doctor, who was now a functional medicine doctor. That one call changed the trajectory of my life. It would be a couple of months before I would begin her program, but she suggested that I listen to a podcast. She thought I may find it helpful with the journey of self-discovery I was already on. 

On my morning walks, I would listen to these podcasts. I began to open my mind to new ways of thinking. Challenging the previous belief systems that were holding me back. I recognized how I was buffering my way through life with work, alcohol, food, worry, and control issues. Piece by piece I worked on transforming my life. I would never be the same again.

Despite what the outside view looks like, we all have baggage!

I may have looked like I had it all together, but I was so fragile on the inside. Any adversity could send me down a path that was not healthy. I had faced a variety of family issues that would rock my world starting in 2016 and lasting through 2020. I was in a constant state of fear and worry. I pushed through most of it, but I was not well. 

I didn’t have the tools to handle these parts of life. I didn’t want to experience any of this, I just wanted it all to go away and feel better.

With clarity & awareness, I saw a new path.

Over the next 18 months, while running the company, I would be on a journey of self-discovery like I had never experienced before. I would work daily to uncover the root causes of my discomfort. I would then apply the new tools and concepts I learned through my life coaching journey. I made peace with my past and let go of baggage weighing me down.

I began to have clarity and a new awareness for what I was creating in my life. I began to dream. I never was a dreamer. I had thought it was silly and served no purpose. I began to meditate, journal, practice yoga and manifestation. I began to seek a higher level of spirituality and gratitude with my prayer. I began to see a new future for myself. A future where I take all the dysfunction and pain I had experienced throughout my life, and combine it with all the lessons I had learned along the way. I could help others with their suffering. I could make a difference one person at a time.

I pushed outside my comfort zone and made a substantial financial investment in myself by joining a premier life coaching program. This program would push me beyond so many limits I had placed on myself. It would bring up all my insecurities and doubts. One by one I would work through them and come out stronger on the other side. I can now see that I was my first client and I would not be able to help others if I didn’t walk the talk.

A new day.

I now view my journey as what brought me to this place in time. I am doing exactly what I was meant to do. At exactly the right moment in time. I often would vent to people throughout my entire life. It never really helped me feel better. It just kept me feeling stuck. I’ve often thought…. if only I had a life coach through some of those dark times. I now get to be that for others. 

This is why I left the comfort of all I had ever known to pursue something unknown. I am grateful for all the experiences I had in our family business. I’m proud of the work we provided for 47 years. I’m also proud we survived the pandemic. We were very lucky to find a family with energy and passion to continue the business that my family had built. No matter what happens, I will never regret the journey. I have grown so much as a human being and I love so much harder now. I don’t take a day for granted. I never will again.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. ” ~Mark Twain

Planning your Personal Time

Calendar user? Yes, all day! or Nope, no way!

Most likely all of us have some sort of calendar we use regularly right? Or maybe you are one of those lucky ones that are saying….a calendar? What do I need that for? Oh how that sounds wonderful and scary all at the same time!

But for those of you that do rely on a calendar….it may be documented on paper or a digital version. Maybe it is even a bunch of post-it notes stuck to your computer or refrigerator. I say this because I remember this being myself way back when! But for the most part, we all need something to keep track of all those appointments and things we need to do. Are you with me?

One calendar, two calendars, three calendars…FOUR! 

So now that we talked about having a calendar. How many do you have? Yes, I am serious! Do you have one for work, one for personal use? One for who knows what it could be, am I right? We can often feel like we have too much going on and not enough time to accomplish it all. That is a very common complaint of many. I am here to tell you from a former 2 calendar person…it does not have to be this way. 

Let me ask you this? Do you plan your personal time? If not, you should. I am not talking about setting personal appointments that you need to attend like a doctor appointment, a lunch with a friend, or your child’s parent-teacher conference. I am talking about personal time for you? Maybe you are thinking the way I did when I was first introduced to this concept! There is no time to put personal things I want to do for myself on a calendar! Believe me, I thought the same exact things!!

A new way to Calendar!

The good news here is you don’t have to change anything about your process if it works well for you. However….if you find yourself struggling to stay organized or never integrating personal time and activities for yourself then maybe keep on reading. 

The type of calendar system you use isn’t the most important piece I want to stress to you. What I want to suggest is that you include your personal time activities on your calendar. Yes, it may cause your calendar to look quite full but the good news is you have a plan and what you plan increases your likelihood to accomplish it.  

So this is how my calendar looks. I use a google calendar. I have separate sub-calendars that are color-coded so I can differentiate them easily at a glance. I have a personal sub-calendar and a work sub-calendar along with some other additional sub-calendars so I can really break it down. I can see them all in one view or hide them with the click of a button. 

On Monday of each week, I take the first 30-60 minutes of the day and I dump all the to-do’s that are stored in my head on a piece of paper. This is everything personal, work, or otherwise that I am occupying space in my brain for. When I think I have it all out, I push myself to go even deeper. List those things that I want to do and never get to. 

I can’t stress enough the importance to include your health/wellness and personal care desires also. This is the only way we put importance on them. Which often means, it’s the only way we accomplish those goals as well. How often do you have a plan in the morning that includes these personal health/wellness to-do’s and they are the thing that gets pushed aside when the day comes to a close. 

Once I have all this on paper in front of me, I look at what amount of time I will allocate for each. This is a huge tip!! So listen up!! If you don’t tell yourself how long something will take, you will either take too long or never complete it. Tell yourself exactly how long you will take by blocking out the time for each project or task. I map out each item on my handwritten list until I have them all crossed out! Then I crumple up the paper and throw it away. You can’t imagine how good this feels! Everything is on the calendar, I don’t need all these notes hanging around cluttering up my space. 

Now…work on your plan!

I have been following this system for over 6 months and I cannot tell you how life-changing it has been. Early on I noticed my mind stressing over something that I remembered I needed to do. I just told my brain to calm down as it is on the calendar already. By doing this, I cleared up so much capacity in my brain to function more efficiently. I also built up trust with myself to know I will follow through on my commitments. I found my productivity skyrocketing! 

You may be thinking, this is too rigid. Trust me it is not rigid, it is so empowering!! I still have the flexibility and the ability to move things around, because we all know that life is UNPREDICTABLE!!! 

The most important thing here is to put importance on all parts of life, especially what rejuvenates you to keep moving forward. Don’t let that be what falls off the calendar….or worse yet…never even makes it on there!!

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. ” ~Charles Richards