Friday, April 28, 2017

Vlog: Life Coaching Specialties, Part 2 of 2

Hi!  I'm back with the second part of my video on my coaching specialties.  I intended to have this up yesterday, but I ran into some technical difficulties.  The video kept uploading upside down.  Frustrating!  But, I'm happy to say I eventually figured out how to fix it, so you don't have to turn your phone or another device upside down to view it.  Yay!

This time around, I'm discussing friendship coaching.  Friendship coaching can include anything from help making new friends following a move, to help to deal with the death of a close friend.  If you would like more information about friendship coaching, please email me at, or visit my website at  I'd love to hear from you! Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Vlog: Life Coaching Specialties, Part 1 or 2

Hi again!  I'm trying something a little bit different this time, posting a vlog.  This is the first of two parts, featuring a review of the types of clients I serve.  I start off here with special needs/abilities coaching.  I'd love your feedback on the information itself as well as the visual quality. If you would like to hear more information about my coaching, please feel free to contact me via email at  Also, visit my website at  Take care.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Coaching Niches: How I Came To Choose Special Needs/Abilities and Friendship (Part 2)

Welcome back for part 2 of my latest blog post on how I chose my niches.  This time I'll be talking about how I stumbled upon friendship coaching.

When I first got certified, I chose special needs and fitness coaching.  But I had fallen out of the fitness scene. I hadn't kept up with the latest research, and I didn't feel I could be effective in helping potential clients work through fitness issues and reach their goals if my heart wasn't in it anymore.  

Then I got to thinking about how important friendship is to well-being.  With today's crazy busy lifestyle, people often have little time for friendships.    I knew how tough it was to make friends.  I also knew how difficult it was to lose friends to abandonment, misunderstanding, and death.  And I knew how important close friendships were to me.  Could I help clients find new friends after a move, or guide them through the profound sadness associated with the death of or abandonment by a dear friend?  Could I be a friendship coach?  Was there even such a thing?  I Googled it, and, sure enough, one friendship coach's website popped up.  I had my second niche.  I read piles of books on the subject of friendship:  friendship loss, when friendship hurts, the benefits of friendship, on and on.  I wanted to do all I could to be prepared to help my clients.

Making friends has always been tough for me.  I craved friendship all through my childhood.  Due to my health issues, I never felt comfortable enough sharing my more personal side--something that helps foster deep friendships.  Then, I made a friend in high school who had a profound effect on me.  He showed an interest in me, he gave me confidence, he stuck up for me.  He was the catalyst who led me to change my attitude, become a bit more open and, as a result, make more friends and have more fun.  Still, to this day, only a few friends know a good bit of who I am, and even fewer know me at my core.  Most of my best friends live in other parts of the country or on the other side of the world from me.  With the Internet, staying in touch is easy, but that face-to-face, in-person connection is still missing.  I do miss it at times.  But I treasure those friendships and am happy with whatever way works best to stay in touch.  

Other friends I've had over the years--from school, church, the gym, social clubs, work, the neighborhood, and online--were kept at a comfortable distance.  We'd get together for dinner, play games, watch football, volunteer, shop, chat, and work, but the conversations would remain safe for the most part.  We'd rarely crack the surface.  When someone opens up to me, I'm all there, 110%.  If not, I'm just not there.  I'm not comfortable.  I can't connect.

Of course, not everyone I consider a friend has to go deep.  No.  We have different types of friendships:  casual, school-based, hobby-based, hometown-based, career-based, and so on.  I may be a sounding board for one friend, while another friend is a sounding board for me.  That's fair, and it's fulfilling.

When we made the move to Utah from New York, I had a tough time making friends.  It wasn't for lack of friendly people; there were loads of friendly folks around.  We just had a hard time settling into a new area where the culture was so different from where we had come from.  People were friendly, but it was hard to go deep.  When religion, politics, and other differences present themselves, it takes time and patience to break through those barriers and connect on a human level.  One of my doctors gave me some good advice.  He said something like this: 

People are very busy.  If you want to make friends, you're going to have to get out into the community.  Get involved in things that interest you, and you'll find others who have those interests too.  

Ah yes, common interests spark potential friendships. 

So, we got out of the house in a big way.  We visited a local church of the same denomination that we'd attended off and on back in New York, we volunteered, we joined clubs and, do you know what happened?  We made friends and lots of them.  We have more friends here in our adopted state of Utah than we ever did in New York.  It just takes open-mindedness, planning, action, and patience.

If you find yourself with a friend (or friends) who "gets" you; who you can relate to on a deep level, consider yourself lucky and hold on tight--but not too tightly.  If you're suffering the loss of a friend or struggling with trying to find new ones, I can help.   Email me at for more information.  I'd love it if you'd leave comments below about your experiences with friendship, as well as special needs.  Have a great day.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Coaching Niches: How I Came To Choose Special Needs/Abilities and Friendship (Part 1)

There are many coaching niches: career, ADHD, stay-at-home moms, relationships...on and on.  When I went searching for ideas, I couldn't believe the variety.  But none jumped out at me; none felt right.  So, I turned to myself and what I had experience in and a passion for.  First, I came up with special needs, and fitness, then fitness was replaced by friendship.  So, now I have two unique niches that I am knowledgeable in and passionate about.  Perfect!  Here's how I chose them, starting with special needs.  Friendship will be covered in part 2.

Special Needs/Abilities

As I've mentioned before, I was born with spina bifida.  I've dealt with health issues all my life.  I know what it's like to deal with the medical world.  It can be daunting and demoralizing.  It can also be inspiring and celebratory.  For example, meeting doctors who care enough to fight for you every step of the way, or those who celebrate your little victories to help keep your spirits up through the long process of recovery laced with setbacks.  And then there are the family members and friends who never give up on you, no matter how many times you are sick with an infection, or have to have surgery, or complain about the crappy hand you were dealt.  It is a tough road, no question about it.  But, I've been able to navigate the medical maze that is part of my lifestyle with a fair amount of success, and I wanted to help others do the same. 

I'd always wanted to help people in some way.  I started out with the idea of studying English with aspirations of being a writer.  I thought I would write articles that would shed light on the special needs community, point out where improvements could be made regarding perceptions of those with health issues, and write books featuring characters with special needs.  But I nixed that and switched to psychology, then I switched to developmental disabilities, then sociology.  Then I turned off that road to study business but always worked in offices geared toward helping others such as social service agencies and educational programs. 

 In the early 1990s, I started my own typing and design business (combining my two loves of writing and art) that I ran from home.  I was still helping people but in a different way.  For the first few years, I still worked in offices through a temp service, but then in 1996, I went home-based full-time, and that's the way it's been ever since.  It was so much easier to manage my health care schedule while working at home as opposed to having to trek to an office in the city each day.  I had moderate success with that business and had fun designing the products: resumes, manuscripts, note cards, address labels, and the like.  It wasn't until 2007 that I closed up shop on that venture.  That's when we moved to Utah.

That move spurred big changes in me. I learned to navigate the streets in a city bigger than any I'd ever driven in before.  A huge accomplishment considering I had always been petrified of driving even on country roads.  I also joined a gym, lost 25 pounds and was in the best shape of my life.  I was so impressed with the trainers, my experience, and my results that I decided to get certified as a personal trainer myself.  Many of the trainers at the gym where I worked out were supportive of my decision, helping me study for the exam, asking for updates, cheering me on.  It felt great.

Then I stumbled.  The manager of the gym seemed willing to hire me as a trainer there, but I hadn't applied yet. He kept asking me when I was going to apply.  I said I was going to wait until I got back from a trip back east to visit family.  Why I waited, I have no idea.  This had become a bad habit of mine over the years.  Well, by the time I got back from that trip, that manager was gone.  He'd moved up north to open his own business.  I didn't realize the gravity of my mistake until I applied at the gym and didn't get an interview.  I applied three different times at that gym and several others around town, got a couple interviews at other facilities, but was not hired.  I don't know the actual reason why I wasn't hired, but I have a feeling it was partly due to the fact that I didn't have experience and also didn't fit the cookie-cutter image of the svelte, young, healthy trainer.  Even though many people had told me they would rather work with someone who looked less intimidating and closer to their age, gym managers seemed to have other ideas.  The lesson I took from that was, never, ever pass up a reasonable opportunity that lands in your lap.  I did end up working remotely for that manager friend who had believed in me, blogging and providing customer service for his company. It was something fitness-related at least.

My final fitness position was as a coach for participants of a weight loss drug study.  That lasted almost three years.  I enjoyed coaching the participants who took the time to check in with me, but it was part-time and, honestly, not the type of thing I wanted to do long-term.  After five years of trying to establish myself in the fitness industry, I had had enough.  My heart wasn't in it anymore.  I gained back the weight I'd lost, I was discouraged that nothing I tried seemed to last.  Not knowing what else to do, I wrote content for websites.

Next, I looked into master's degree programs in psychology and certificate programs in play therapy, considering one of my original plans.  Well, the information I found indicated that I would probably have to take a heap of psychology courses to start, since I hadn't taken many in college years earlier, then I'd have to get my master's degrees in psychology or related field, and then get certified in play therapy, plus licencing exams, etc, etc.  It added up to almost 10 years of education when all was said and done.  I was 50 at the time.  There was no way I was going to invest all that time and money for a career that might last 10 years, tops.  If I had gone for it in my 30s, sure.  But I wasn't prepared to take on such a big project in my 50s.  It's doable, for sure.  There are people who tackle it in their 70s and 80s.  It just wasn't something I was willing to take on.  

Then in 2014, I heard about life coaching.  Curious, I did some research.  It sounded perfect for me.  I could get certified in a reasonable amount of time for a reasonable fee, and work at home helping people!  I was over the moon.  I loved the study materials, the practice coaching, and meeting other coaches who had the same passion for helping others that I did.  

When it came time to choose my niche, one popped into my head immediately:  special needs.  I added "abilities" to it as well because I wanted to key on the positive; what clients can do, rather than what they can't.  By focusing on special needs/abilities coaching, I am able to bring all the knowledge and experience I've gained throughout my life to each session in order to help guide people with health issues as they navigate the sometimes confusing, sometimes frightening medical world.  But not only that.  I provide guidance to clients dealing with societal issues as well.  There are those in the world at large who sometimes forget that we're all human, including those with special needs; we're all able to contribute to society in a variety of ways, big and small, and we should be respectfully allowed to do so to our full potential.    

Always keep a look out for opportunities you view as potentially rewarding and fulfilling. Grab them, and hold on tight.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hug Life

I'm always looking out for cool shirts that catch my eye.  I've been on a tye dye kick lately, so when I saw this shirt with not only a tye dye design, but a cat and the words "Hug Life" emblazoned across the front of it, well, I was sold.  

What Does It Mean?

I got to thinking the other day and wondered what exactly it means to "hug life."  I came up with the following ideas:

  1. Embrace life:  Embrace each facet of your life; for example, relationships, spirituality, career, health, well-being, and financial.  Embrace it all, the good and the bad.  Be present in each moment and really feel it and experience it. 
  2. Spend time wisely:  None of us knows how long we will live.  It's best to take advantage of each day and live it to the fullest.  That doesn't mean cramming every possible activity or opportunity into each day.  Rather, it means, spending time on the people and things that you love and value the most.  Learn to say no when you're asked to do something you don't want to do.  Of course, there are always things you must do even though you don't want to, but I'm talking about the optional stuff.  Dinner with friends, membership to this or that committee, hosting the family reunion for the tenth time just because you are so good at it, and so on.
  3. Break down barriers:  Don't waste time sitting on the sidelines wishing you could do something.  Get out there and do what you can to make it happen.  Break down perceived or real barriers in order to live the life of your dreams.  Challenge naysayers, prove them wrong when they say you can't do something, work your butt off to make your dreams come true.  
  4. Get fit:  Get off the couch and ditch the junk food.  You've only got one body; it's up to you to take care of it.  Pick activities and exercises you enjoy and change them up every month or so, or whenever they get too easy or boring.  Gradually swap out less healthy foods for healthier ones.  Eat plenty of veggies, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats.  Yes, you can still indulge is your favorite treat now and then, too.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people:  Do you find that you come home from a gathering with friends feeling drained and unsatisfied?  It might be time to reevaluate your friendships.  Decide which friends energize you and which ones drag you down.  You don't have to ditch the ones who aren't as satisfying, just back off a bit so you have more time to spend with those people who deliver positive vibes.
  6. Be community-minded:  Volunteering is a great way to hug life.  Get out into your community and see how you can contribute.  I've found that there's no better way to help yourself than by helping someone else.  Even as little as an hour per week, or even sticking to seasonal events like a toy drive at Christmastime, or a school supply drive in the fall, helps.  Some places you may be able to volunteer:  hospital, school, church, community theater group, library, sporting event, or animal shelter.
  7. De-clutter your home:  Do you feel drained as you look around your living space at all the clutter?  Arm yourself with a box of large trash bags and start going through all that stuff, room by room.  I love a good clear out, but it gives some people the hives to think of getting rid of anything.  But it's a great way to hug life.  Getting rid of excess stuff can feel very freeing once you get going.  If you haven't used it or worn it in a year, pitch it.  Of course, you'll want to keep sentimental items, but don't go overboard on that either.  That can quickly turn your clear out into a pity party and clutter fest instead.  
  8. Reevaluate your job:  Do you enjoy going to work every day?  Do you find the work and comradery energizing?  If so, great.  If not, it's time to make some changes.  Volunteer to work on a special project that really gets you fired up, organize a company softball team or walking group, or bring in plants and photos from home to improve the ambiance of your office space.  If nothing works, start hunting for a new position that you can really get jazzed about.  Maybe you'd get more fulfillment out of working for yourself.  Do some research and see how you can make positive changes related to work.
  9. Reevaluate where you live: Is your home comfortable and pleasing?   Do you enjoy living in your town?  Do you find that there are more than enough ways for you to get involved in your community?  Do you find that the people are friendly?  Or has everything become old and stagnant and uninspiring?  Stay if you are thriving in your community, but consider a move across the country or across the world if you just can't take it anymore.  Sometimes a major shake up is what you need to live the life of your dreams.
  10. Reevaluate your relationship with your spouse:  Are you still in the honeymoon stage with your spouse?  Does your heart still skip a beat when that person enters the room?  Do you love to sit and talk for hours with the love of your life, or simply hold hands and cuddle?  Or, do you shudder at the thought of your spouse coming home from work?  Do you get irritated with each other for petty little things?  Do you find that you no longer have anything in common?  If things are great, yay!  Keep doing what you're doing.  But if they aren't so great anymore, take the time to sit down and talk about it.  Figure out ways you can try to improve your marriage, including increased communication, date nights, and taking little romantic get-aways.  If you put in a real, concerted effort to improve matters but it doesn't seem to be working, then you might want to consider separation or divorce.   
  11. Consider your spirituality:  Fit quiet time into your life so you can look inside to find out what really matters to you. What do you truly believe in?  Are you religious, non-religious, unsure, or still processing your beliefs?  What do you like about yourself?  What do you not like about yourself? What are your regrets?  What are the things you're most proud of?  What makes you really feel good? Answer these questions and find peace with yourself and your life choices so you can move on and grow.  Self-exploration can open your eyes and heal your soul.    
  12. Consider what family means to you:  Are you close to your family; or not?  Do you love spending time with family but your schedule doesn't allow for it?  Or does being around family suffocate you?  Do you feel as if your dear friends are more like family than your blood relatives do?  It's important to work this out and spend your time with those you feel closest to, without guilt or regret.  
  13. Consider your children and pets:  If you have children, remember, they will be on their own in a flash.  So, take the time when they are young to nurture and spend time with them.  Avoid letting cable TV, video games and the Internet be your babysitters.  Play games, reminisce, laugh, and have meaningful discussions with your kids.  Be sure to make it to their recitals, baseball games, and graduations.  Be a positive example for your children.  Let them know you are there for them without smothering them.  They will love you for it.  If you don't have kids, you may have pets.  Same thing; well, sort of.  Be there for them.  Take care of their needs, keep them well, fed, clean, and happy.  Schedule playtime and snuggle time with your pets.  Dogs and cats, in particular, can be very loving.  They snuggle with you when you're sick, they provide hours of entertainment.  They provide you with unconditional love; they need to receive it in return in order to be healthy and happy.  
  14. Be appreciative of nature:  Dance in the rain, take the  time to observe wildlife while walking in nature.  Be curious, watchful.  Really stop and experience the beauty of nature around you.  Really hear the birdsong, babbling brook, and the skittering of a critters in the tall grass.  Really see the brilliant colors in the sky, the flowers, and the birds.  Touch tree leaves and bark; take a deep breath and notice the scents of tree sap, flowers, and waters of nearby lakes and streams.  Be present.  Walk amongst nature with a sense of wonder.  Don't rush.  
What It Doesn't Mean.

Okay, so you want to hug life; make the most out of it and accomplish all sorts of wonderful things.  That's all well and good.  But don't go stepping on toes in the process.
  1. Being obnoxious:  Just because someone doesn't have the same goals or values as you have doesn't mean they are hugging life in the wrong way.  You do it your way and let others do it their way.  
  2. Being mean or dismissive:  Say you believe in living your life in a certain way and you feel passionate about that belief; so passionate, in fact, that you protest any other way of living life.  You have a right to peacefully protest, but you do not have the right to burn buildings, smash windows, vandalize vehicles, or inflict any other harm to others or their property.  That is just plain wrong.
  3. Being irresponsible:  Think before you hug life so hard that you suffocate it, or yourself. Donating to causes beyond your means, totally ignoring your family and friends for the sake of a cause, or quitting your job and moving your family to a remote area to live out your dream of a self-sufficient life without first discussing it with said family--all bad ideas. 
I would love to hear what it means to you to hug life and how you've actually put it into action.  Leave a comment below or email me at  Thanks!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Working on an Identity Perspective Program

Hello all.  I'm working on a new program on identity perspective that I plan on starting to offer  in summer or possibly fall.  This is especially for those of you with special needs/abilities. How do you see yourself? How do you relate to yourself? What is the focus of your identity?

 The program is going to be based on what a dear friend first asked me many years ago: Are you a girl named Amy who just happened to be born with spina bifida, or are you a girl who was born with spina bifida whose name happens to be Amy? There's a big difference between the two.  He made me think, 

The program will help you dig deep into how you perceive yourself, uncovering layers of misconceptions, doubts, and fears that have been holding you back, to find your true self, and with that, your true talents, dreams, ambitions, and abilities. It will help you build confidence, set goals, explore ways to put your talents to work for you, capitalize on your strengths, and live a more satisfying and fulfilling life. 

More details to come down the road aways as it comes together. Stay tuned!   In the meantime, please email me at, or post comments below with your input regarding this program.  What would you like to see included?  How would you like the material presented--via a self-study course of videos, live 1-on-1 sessions utilizing Zoom, an email course?  I would love your thoughts on this.   Take care.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Making Choices: It's Been Awhile, but I'm Back

Whoa!  It's been awhile since I've posted here.  It's been a trying, confusing, exciting, and rewarding couple of years.  Here's what happened, in a nutshell.
---- Do you get the feeling that you've hit on something really special?  You've finally found your calling?  But then, life happens?  That calling comes and you're raring to go and then---boom!  One thing after another comes along and delays that jump full force into this project, this thing, this life that you have been waiting for.  I spent two years consumed with other things, not blogging or coaching.  There were times when I longed to blog, but as I got further and further away from it, it was harder to get back to it.  Now I wish I had documented the events of those two years.  It would have been fun and also educational to look back on them.  It was a time of growth and adventure that I won't forget.

In August of 2015, our high school exchange student, Naja, arrived from Denmark to stay with us for the 2015-16 school year.  At first, I made time for blogging.  One post in early August of that year, then another in early September.  Then...nothing.  I made a conscious choice to concentrate on our exchange year experience, not on business or blogging.  I wanted to dive in and fully experience those 10 months, not be absent.  Live it, breathe it, feel it deeply.  Every part of it.

I understand where people are coming from when they are torn.  I love writing.  I love life coaching.  My business had already been put on the back burner shortly after getting my life coach certification the previous year when my mother came to stay with us for a bit.  She had had a stroke at the beginning of 2014 and could no longer live alone.  She lived with my sister at the time, but that sister needed to have surgery.  She asked if we (my husband and me) could take care of Mom for a couple of months while she recovered, which we did.  Although it was heartbreaking to see the changes the stroke had caused in Mom, we had a lot of fun during her visit:  reminiscing, going out for ice cream, hiking, playing games, and painting.

But we went ahead with hosting Naja.  We needed to go for what felt right in our guts, and this felt right.  

I dove into the role of host parent.  I drove Naja to and from school daily, braved the throngs of teen drivers navigating the streets near the school, and thanked my lucky stars each time I arrived home in one piece.  I have never been particularly fond of driving, but it was a whole different ball game with a 16-year-old riding with me.  That bumped up the pressure of responsibility just a tad.  It was one thing to drive myself around, but to be responsible for a teen, besides; someone else's child?  Yow!  Her parents had consented to allow their daughter to travel across the world to live with us, trusting us to keep her safe and well for 10 months.  I nearly broke out in hives the first day of school. 

Life seemed to go 110 miles an hour once Naja joined us and settled in.  We took her to many of the parks and sites in Utah, where we live, and the surrounding area.  She made lots of amazing friends, so there were often other teens coming and going, or we were driving her to a friend's house or school event.  It was: go, go, go for 10 months.  We had a blast!  

Then, it was over.  Her parents came in May of 2016 and stayed with us for 10 days.  We had so much fun.  They are lovely people and the time went so fast.  We didn't want it to end.  But it was time.  When we waved goodbye to them at the airport, we didn't quite know what to do.  We stood in the terminal kind of shell shocked for a bit. The fact that the year was over brought on both feelings of sadness and, admittedly, relief.  Naja was fantastic.  She was intelligent, witty, sweet, never got into trouble--no problem.  But we don't have children of our own, so when Naja arrived we were instantly responsible for a teen.  We didn't have 16 years to get ready for this exciting and challenging time in her life, as parents who raise a child from birth do.  So we were in a whole different world and learning as we went along.  It was very challenging and stressful at times.  So when she left there was that relief of not having the huge responsibility for her.  That said, it also was one of the most rewarding, exciting, and fun experiences we've had.

Before Naja left, I had all sorts of plans of what to do when the exchange year was over.  I was going to start my coaching business, join a local book club as well as a social club, write for online publications, volunteer all over the community, blog, and so on.  But I hadn't realized how tired I was.  Instead of jumping into all these activities, I slept.  And slept, and slept.  And when I was awake I just kind of went about daily chores as if on auto pilot.  Life was so different!  The house felt empty and was so quiet.  

I lost feeling for all things.  A wall went up around me.  I had a feeling of total disorganization and ineptitude that left me seemingly frozen in place.  I couldn't seem to get myself out of this funk.  For someone who had always prided herself on being organized, I was a mess.  I didn't know which end was up, I didn't know what to do.  I couldn't seem to get enthused about anything that I had, not that long before, been excited about.  I didn't join any clubs, I didn't exercise much, I didn't volunteer, I didn't write, I didn't coach.  It was bizarre.

It didn't help matters that I had bouts with sickness (colds, flu), foot, knee and shoulder trouble (old injuries that came back to haunt me), and as a result, weight gain.  I also had more time to think about Mom once Naja left.  She was so different after the stroke.  She still had that beautiful smile and positive attitude, but part of the old Mom was gone.  She couldn't do a lot of the things she used to love to do:  garden, read, hike.  She was always very active.  Seriously, she could out-walk anyone half her age, even in her 80s.  And we used to talk for hours on the phone, whereas 5- to 10-minute calls were now the norm.  I sort of felt abandoned and lost without my mom.  

I've worked through these feelings and problems.  I've done a lot of thinking; looking inside. I've done a lot of reading on the topic of parent illness, dementia, getting organized, life change, and parent loss.  I've gained comfort from my husband and dear friends.  It still frustrates me at times, but I know that I'm stronger for these experiences.

And now, I'm back.  I'm looking forward to blogging again on a regular basis--I'm planning on blogging once a week to start.  

Have you had to put something on the back burner that you were excited about to do something else that was important as well?  Comment below, or send me an email at  I'd love to hear from you.