Do You Get Irritated with People?

We all become irritated with others. Some of us walk around in a general state of irritation. I was thinking about what causes this irritation.

It's the words in our heads.

He should...She shouldn't...

The baby shouldn't scream. The kids should clean up.  The teenager shouldn't talk back. My hair should be straight. My husband should appreciate me. Katie should put down her phone.  Larry shouldn't say anything. They should know better. Johnny should agree with me. Old Sally shouldn't write checks at the busy grocery store checkout.

To life coaches, the word "should"is a red flag. It is the root of so much mental angst.

What can help?

Just noticing the reason (the stream of words in your mind) for your irritation can help. Find the words interesting. Recognize, as Byron Katie famously notes, that getting caught up in  the "shoulds" is "arguing with reality."

All the stress that we feel is caused by arguing with what is. -Byron Katie

Stepping outside of and observing your mind allows you to handle challenging situations as your best, calm, non-irritated self.

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Happiness = Plants + Pets + Photographs

Something that distinguishes happy families from less happy ones? Happy homes often have many plants, pets, and photographs in common areas.  Plants and pets give us opportunities to extend care beyond ourselves. Photos can prompt us to savor happy memories, a research-tested happiness booster.

In our home, we have an extra large pet (see above) and plenty of photographs (this is why), but only one little plant!  As much as I would love a couple tall plants in the living room, our toddler (the subject of many happy photos) & plants do not  mix.

Despite our lack of greenery, the Captain house will be featured in a future home tour on Design Mom. I will be sure to let you know when!

Don't miss the tips to make your day-to-day more manageable & meaningful.  Subscribe to the Blueprint blog here and the newsletter here.


You Might Be Good Enough

You know that pesky "I'm not good enough" story we all have? Maybe your mind says you are not good enough to have a successful business, pursue a dream, put yourself out there, take on a project, accept yourself, help others, offer your ideas, accomplish a goal, or try something new.  Perhaps your body, your job, your home, your partner, your income, your life  is not good enough. If you are a parent, you are not good enough many times a day.

Maybe it's too much for your mind to believe that you are good enough right now. If so, say these thoughts to yourself, let them marinate in your mind, and notice if you feel differently:

  • I may be good enough.
  • I just might be good enough.
  • What if I am good enough?

Does that change anything for you? More possibility? Hope? Lightness? That Not Good Enough story is not helping any of us be and do our best.  Let's do what we can to get some space from it.

Quick Relationship Tip

What if, by some magical wave of a wand, your partner  started behaving exactly as you wish? What if your husband or boyfriend was your ideal mate with no annoying habits? What if your wife or girlfriend was always supportive of you, never critical?

If that was true, how would you behave?

How would you describe the sort of partner you would be? Think of three adjectives (ideas: supportive, engaged, grateful, compassionate, loving, forgiving, authentic, kind).

What thoughts would you have about your partner?

Be that person now.

Apply this to your relationships with kids, family members, or co-workers and notice if it's helpful. I am going to try this with my kids (because lots of time together during the summer is not always easy!).

Image via Geoff Captain Studios.

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How To Save Mental Energy

President Obama has a habit you may want to adopt. Or at least adapt.

As he explained to Michael Lewis in this Vanity Fair profile, Obama wears only gray or blue suits. "I'm trying to pair down decisions," he says. "I don't want to make decisions about what I'm eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make."

The President described himself as "routinized" and referenced research finding that the act of making decisions impacts our ability to make further decisions. This explains why shopping can be so exhausting.

This prompted my own reflection on how much time & energy I spend deciding which tasks to complete and when, or (one that really drains me), deciding what's for dinner. For the dreaded dinner question, Christine Carter at Raising Happiness has a great idea: automate meal planning so that it becomes a habit and takes less time & energy. Take a look at Christine's weekly meal plan for her family here.

You can also enter meals into a Google calendar and have items repeat every so often (so you can have Aunt Betty's famous meatloaf every 3 weeks!).

My free Blueprint for 2013 planner includes the question, "What routines or systems will support my goal achievement?"

I see this idea of systems & routines working in at least two ways. Automating tasks can save mental energy you need for creative, cognitively demanding activities. Establishing routines or rituals for important tasks (writing in a gratitude journal, exercising, reading to your kids) can also make it more likely that you will make room in your schedule for what matters.

Brene Brown & Oprah

I want to let you all know that Brene Brown is talking with Oprah on this week’s edition of Super Soul Sunday (3/17). The show airs at 11am ET/PT. For those of you (like me) who don’t get OWN, there is a simulcast on I believe part two of their conversation airs the following Sunday. Enjoy!


How to Say "YES" to Life

When it comes to your life, are you all in?

I recently wrote a guest post for Purpose Fairy about saying "yes" to whatever life brings - even the messy, painful stuff.

While you are visiting Purpose Fairy, you will want to read "15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy." This post was shared over one million times on Facebook. It's how I discovered the site. I just shared this post with some friends, and they joked that if they gave up those 15 things, there would be nothing left to do! :)

“When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real. I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.” ― Mary Oliver

Did you miss your FREE Blueprint for 2013? Get it here.

Free Blueprint for 2013 Planner

Happy New Year!

Now that the holiday dust has settled, are you ready to think about what's important in the months ahead?

My Blueprint for 2013 workbook is here! It's full of questions and lists to inspire and guide your design of 2013.  The book is free to newsletter subscribers and was blasted last week.  If you did not receive it, that means you are not subscribed to my newsletter (the blog and newsletter are two different subscriptions). You can sign up HERE  and your Blueprint for 2013 will be e-mailed to you. Free!

You can download, print, and staple the book together and get on with your planning. Or, if you want something fancier to write on...

Blueprint for 2013 is also available for purchase as a printed book through Amazon. It's printed in color, bound, and includes bonus questions and pages beyond those in the digital version. The beautiful graphics are thanks to my husband, Geoff.  My first copy arrived yesterday (We have Amazon Prime, so it was here in 2 days). I ordered a bunch to give as gifts and others have let me know that  they have done the same.

I have been using the book to create meaningful goals for my business and family life and to keep track of my ideas for the year.  I hope you find it useful too!

Thank you for the space in your inbox!

With gratitude,


The Non-Negotiables

In this interview on balancing parenthood and work (something we struggle with in our house), Brene Brown said something simple yet powerful. When asked about how she structures her day, she identified her non-negotiables:

I don’t negotiate sleep, exercise, or healthy food. I can’t show up for my life when I’m tired, eating crappy, or not exercising.

Isn't that the truth?  A couple of months ago, during a period of time when the baby thought it would be nice to get up and eat three times a night, my husband and I were non-functional.  Our thinking was fuzzy. I lost  patience & presence with my older kids. I  found myself reaching for energy in the form of Coke Zeros and anything  I could eat from a bag while standing up.

Since then, we have turned things around in the sleep and eating departments and we are working on the exercise. This means that sometimes, for the sake of sleep, a pile of dishes is left in the sink overnight or work is left undone.  It means more frequent trips to the grocery store to buy fresh food.  My next step is opening the calendar and scheduling walks.

My husband and I  also recognize that if our current way of living does not support what's most important (time with family, our health), it's time to make bigger decisions about how we live and work.

What makes your life work? A morning run? A walk during lunch? Reading the paper? A daily green smoothie? Time to pray, write, or paint?  Family dinners? Date night?

What supports your values? What sets you up to do what matters? What will you not negotiate?

You Are Invited to Find Your Purpose

Your soul came in with a plan.

Your life has a purpose.

But what if you're not sure what the plan or purpose is?

Or what if you do know and you're stuck under your desk feeling terrified to take that leap (You are not alone!)?

This post is to let you know that Martha Beck is teaming up with physician author/blogger Lissa Rankin and author/ life coach Amy Ahlers to help you uncover your life's purpose.  The trio is offering a free class they are calling a "no holds barred tele-jam" on October 10th as an intro to a new telecourse.

Find Your Calling Tele-Jam   with Martha Beck, Lissa Rankin & Amy Ahlers LIVE worldwide event on 10/10 at Noon PT/3pm ET Listen via webcast or phone.

I just signed up.

You can register for the free call here.

If you can't make the call, no worries. Register & they will send you the recording.

The details were sent early to Martha Beck coaches. Here is what they will cover in the free tele-jam:

  • The magic hot tracks formula for tapping into your life's purpose (go on a safari with them!)
  • How a Down syndrome baby, a suicide, and a brain tumor changed everything (and led to hope, magic, miracles and life purpose)
  • The road map for finding your calling and how to identify where you are right now (so you can feel peace about your process)
  • Why the question "What do you want?" may be the WRONG question to ask yourself (and the juicy, hot, kick-ass question to ask instead)
  • The single most important, and almost always overlooked, tool for figuring out why you're on the planet (sometimes the most powerful things are the simplest!)

We are told that Martha, Lissa, and Amy are going to spill the beans about how they found their own callings.

"See" you on the call!




when your life doesn't look like an ad

I had what I call an"ugly phase" this past February. I was due to give birth to my daughter. You're probably thinking it was pregnancy that caused this ugly period, but actually, that wasn't it. Other than a ginormous (my husband's word) belly (which is one of those things you sort of expect when you're expecting), my body seemed relatively intact. Here is what happened.

I was home all day, working very little, alternating between resting and slowly checking nesting items off of my to-do list. I would literally complete one simple task (start a load of laundry) and have to sit down for a few minutes to recover (see belly description above). And (here's the key), I had the TV on for hours a day. The line up started with the Today Show and ended with Dr. Oz in the afternoon. So as I walked around the house and sat for short spells, I caught snippets of segments and...plenty of ads.

Unaware of what provoked my thinking at the time, I noticed myself going to my shopping lists and adding beauty and health care items like eye cream (I wasn't sure what to use but felt certain I needed something) and supplements.

I felt uglier after watching all of this TV. And don't get me started on the makeover my house needed.

Society via the media has expectations not only about how we look, but everything about us: how much money we need, how to spend it, how to decorate our houses, what activities to choose for our kids, what food to eat, how to spend our time...

According to research by James R. Mahalik, Ph.D. at Boston College, society’s top expectations for women are to be: nice, thin, modest, and use all available resources on appearance. To conform to norms, men need to: be in emotional control, put work first, pursue status, and be violent.

These expectations wear us down and set us up for believing we are not enough as we are, that we are the only ones who don't have it all together. They get in the way of our self-confidence. When we believe these expectations are the "norm," they trigger shame.

According to Brene Brown, Ph.D., shame is "the intensely painful feeling or experience that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging." It drives us to work hard to keep everything just right on the outside so we will fit in and people will like us. And we all experience it.

Dr. Brown offers an antidote to shame: critical awareness. Think of it as a coaching tool to apply to all of those "have to" and  "should" thoughts. Here's how you do it.

Notice what triggers shame for you. Including "appearance and body image" (an "almost universal" shame trigger), Dr. Brown has identified 12 categories in which women, in particular, struggle with feelings about themselves:  motherhood, family, parenting, money & work, mental & physical health, sex, aging, religion, being stereotyped & labeled, speaking out & surviving trauma.

Reality-check your expectations (those "should" thoughts) in your trigger categories by questioning them.  Dr. Brown lists different sets of questions in her two books, I Thought It Was Just Me and The Gifts of Imperfection. I combined and adapted her questions:

  • How realistic are my expectations, especially considering my life circumstances? Is what I am seeing in the media (magazines, TV, movies, Facebook, photos, music) showing real life or fantasy?
  • Can I be all of these things all of the time?
  • Do the expectations conflict or compete with each other? Can they really exist together?
  • Do these expectations reflect who I want to be (what matters to me) or what others want me to be?
  • How do I try to manage other people's perceptions of me?
How realistic is it for you to lose 60 pounds as quickly as Beyonce did (unless you have nannies, personal trainers, chefs...)?  Can you really simultaneously have small children and pets running around a house that looks like a Pottery Barn catalog? Or work full time and care for your teenagers & aging parents? For a man who has been laid off, how is he supposed to look invulnerable, put  his non-existent job first, and climb the ranks?
We think we should look confident, but how can we feel confident when we internalize expectations that are unrealistic, competing, and of little or no value to us?
And don't forget that it's all supposed to look easy, even if it wears you out on the inside.
I remember Oprah stating at one point, that she decided not to have children because she couldn't be the parent she wanted to be and career woman she was .  She must have realized that she couldn't be both at the same time.
I know critical awareness has helped me feel more compassion toward myself when I am caught up the unrealistic, competing expectations - when I think I should have been able to cook a healthy, homemade dinner, sweep the dog hair from the floor, and paint my toenails (Who am I kidding? That doesn't even make the list these days!) after addressing the higher priorities. I hope you see right through your "shoulds" too.

For more about what gets in the way of confidence and how to let it go, join The Confidence Course. Starts June 12!

what keeps you up at night?

My 5-year-old recently asked me to read her a book that turns out, belonged to my husband when he was a kid (that explains the yellowed pages).  In the book, There's a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer, a little boy tells us how he handled the nightmare in his closet.

The boy was afraid to even look at his closet, but one night, he decided to get rid of the nightmare once and for all.

The boy shot the nightmare, who began to cry. The nightmare wouldn't stop crying, so the boy took him by the hand and tucked him into bed.

And the nightmare stopped crying and fell asleep next to the boy.

Of course, I couldn't help but see the parallels between the boy's nightmare and the thoughts that keep us up at night. And just like the story, when we fight and struggle with our fears and think they shouldn't be there, they persist and get louder.

In Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach, refers to the "dragons" in our minds:

Women have always known how to deal with the dragons hiding under beds or lurking in closets. We turn on the lights and reassure worried souls with love. We need to slay the dragons in our minds the same way.

So instead of trying to get rid of your worries & fears, get to know the nightmares and dragons who are just doing their job. Shine your flashlight on those thoughts and see them for what they are: words and pictures in your mind. Love and thank your mind for being normal in its endless production of worries. Show yourself compassion for caring about your life and the people in it. Then the dragons won't bother you as much. Then the nightmares will fall asleep. And so can you.

What keeps you up at night? Is it money worries? Work stress? Feeling like you are wasting time? Relationship problems? Uncertainty? Not knowing what career to pursue? Too much to do? Over-analyzing the day's interactions and wishing you could change what you said or did?

I really want to know because I want to use my coaching knowledge & experience to help us all sleep better. Comments welcome below or here on Facebook.

A Letter To My Daughters

A year ago, I wrote a Letter To My Daughters, Ella & Maddie, to express my hopes for their lives.  I shared the letter on my blog because I have the same hopes for all of you. Since then, we added a third little beauty - sweet, cuddly, delicious Molly...

For Mother's Day, I re-visited the letter and tweaked it just a bit...

Dear Ella, Maddie and Molly,

First, I hope that our home is a place where you feel free to be yourselves – where you can proclaim your brilliance and awesomeness and also share your fears and doubts – where you know you are loved and accepted and always belong.

I hope that you take care of and love yourselves – that you nourish those beautiful bodies and you are kind to yourselves in your thoughts. As you grow older, I hope that you surround yourselves with people who reflect your kindness, encourage your growth, and extend the safe place to fully be yourselves.

Life is messy and imperfect and sometimes difficult. As much as I would like to protect you from all of that, I know my work is not to shield you, but to help you navigate the challenges, make room for mistakes, and believe in your ability to do hard things. Whatever life brings, you will handle it. God always has a plan for you.

I hope you discover work that lights you up, that calls upon your strengths and allows you to contribute to others’ lives.

Every day, I hope you do what is most important to you. I hope you define success as doing just that. I hope you give more consideration to being the person you want to be than to what others think of you. I hope you know that your worth is not dependent on titles or accomplishments, that you are always enough. I hope you choose growth over perfection. And that you don’t take it all too seriously.

I hope you enjoy peace and savor beauty.

I want you to know that Daddy & I and your grandparents, aunt, and uncles love you so much and are so happy that you are all here.

Finally, I hope that you continue to treasure the relationships likely to be the longest you will ever have – those with each other.

I love you, Mommy

The Confidence Course

How would your life be different if you had more confidence?

There is a Confidence Revolution here at Blueprint. Next in a sequence of offerings is The Confidence Course starting June 12th.

This telecourse is designed to help you develop genuine confidence to perform better in your career & relationships.

Perhaps you would like to be more effective working with clients, building your business, seeking a relationship, starting an important project, parenting, or socializing.You may have an upcoming interview, presentation or event, or are considering a change. Perhaps you would like to be more focused & engaged, self-accepting, or authentic in your relationships.

Confidence helps you to be more of the person you want to be.

The 4-week course addresses the following:

Class #1 (june 12)

  • Identifying how your life would be different if you had more confidence ("The Life Change List") and pinpointing which of the five main causes of low self-confidence may apply to you in a particular area
  • Uncovering your thoughts that cause worry, self doubt, shyness and fear
Class #2 (june 19)
  • Practicing a variety of tools to detach from thoughts that sabotage your confidence
  • Clarifying your values, the person you want to be in your life, what matters most to you
Class #3 (june 26)
  • Handling fear and anxiety so they have less impact on you
  • Building shame resilience
Class #4 (june 28)
  • Being present, mindfully engaging
  • Taking confident action
The Confidence Course includes: four live calls (60-90 minutes each) on three Tuesdays and one Thursday at 5:00pm PST, mp3s recordings of calls (so no worries if you can't make classes), e-mailed worksheets, and lists of additional resources for the investment of $97. The first three participants to register receive a complimentary individual coaching session ($110 value).
How to register? Simply e-mail me ( with subject: Confidence Course).


Questions? I would love to hear from you:

Preview: This course is not about controlling your feelings, thinking positive thoughts or "faking it." It's about pulling your time & energy from managing perception and putting it into doing what matters.It's about being who you want to be and making your life work. And it's going to be fun!

"Your approach to confidence is very innovative and groundbreaking/paradigm-shifting" -Kim, lawyer in Ontario, Canada

Book Club Night

Have you read or thought about reading Martha Beck's new book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World? I devoured it and then went back for seconds and thirds. The book is about uncovering your true nature to let it direct your choices.  To give you a taste, you'll find these two questions on the back cover:

Question 1: How the hell did I get here?

Question 2: What the hell should I do now?

I am hosting a "Book Club Night" at my house in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 22nd to dig deeper into this book and you are invited. We will discuss and practice exercises in the book, eat yummy food, sip wine, try green smoothies and leave with goodie bags (and hopefully a peaceful, connected perspective).

More details are found here on my website. Interested? Questions? Just e-mail me.


Small Change, Big Impact

A friend recently asked me how I stay so calm. I am certainly not always calm (just ask my kids), but one change I have noticed since training as a coach is that things don't bother me as much.

What I mean is that the little things (a messy house, fighting kids, the long list of unfinished tasks, drama, a broken car) don't stress me out like they once did and even big, scary fears aren't as powerful.

When I consider what has helped me, there is one simple thing I now do automatically that I know has made a big impact.

I have learned to be very aware of what I am thinking.

It  may not sound like much, but simply noticing the thoughts going through your mind gives you some space and detachment from those thoughts. And if those thoughts are unhelpful (you know the type - What will people think...I don't have enough money...I can't get it together...I'll never be able to leave this job...I can't handle this), they will have less power to cause you anxiety, stress, and fear.

To increase your awareness, become a detective or  scientist who is objectively studying your mind. When you feel stress or tension, observe the words in your mind with curious interest, not judgement. Oh, I'm thinking that if I say the wrong thing, my boss will regret hiring me. It's that same old "she doesn't like me" story. Isn't that interesting (Naming your thoughts/story like this creates even more distance).

To uncover deeper thoughts causing you stress, take the situation that is bothersome and ask yourself, What am I making this mean? Why is that a problem in my mind?

Simply just notice what comes up.

I love working with people who know nothing about coaching. If you are unfamiliar with life coaching, but are open to powerful, practical tools to increase calm and handle stress & anxiety, I have a 3-session Declutter Your Mind program for you.