Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Truth About Wallpaper

Ever since we moved into our house, our guest bathroom has had dark green wallpaper with pink roses on it. Suffice it to say - this is not our style. However, due to lots of procrastinating, some knowledge of the work involved w/ stripping wallpaper, and my sheer inability to dig deep & muster the motivation, the wallpaper has stayed put for nearly 4 years.

A while back the kids discovered a little tear in the paper and simply could not help themselves from ripping off tiny pieces and exposing more and more of the wall. Ok, truth be told, I may have actually started this...perhaps a deep, evolutionary connection to picking at things, like my distant relatives, the chimpanzees, picking for bugs in each others fur!

Last summer I decided to invited everyone who used the bathroom (family and guests alike) to feel free to peel away a strip of wallpaper. My thinking was: a) I would be motivated (irritated) by the slowly appearing wall to actually "take the plunge," and b) It may actually make my job easier if everyone just did it for me.

It didn't make my job any easier. It just pissed me off. It was an unfinished, half-assed, ugly, annoying part of my house - and I saw it EVERY DAY! So did my husband and kids... but it really didn't bug them.

Now, I am a BIG believer in your living space (home, physical environment, etc.) being a very accurate representation or metaphor for your life. So, for a few years, I have been wondering what the "rosy" Guest Bathroom says about my life.

Finally, I think I have discovered what part of my life my guest bathroom represents: (pardon the "potty" humor, but it kind of seems appropriate here) - My avoidance of STINKY, SHITTY things!

For a while I was able to avoid dealing with it and even find some acceptance with the dark, flowered meadow, that was my guest bathroom.

But, after a while... I knew the wallpaper just had to go. Slowly, at first. Then, I decided to bring others on board - thinking they could somehow make things happen where I could not. Here is the truth about wallpaper; it takes time to remove it, it takes motivation, it benefits from a little help, but it really is a one woman job (especially in a small bathroom).

Three weeks ago I started the REAL work. You would think that once I started I would want to get it done quickly. Nope, not me. I have chosen instead to draw this out as long as possible! I stripped the easy places first and left the residual paper and glue clinging to the walls. Then I removed the hardware. The I took off some more wallpaper. Then I "let" my brother, visiting from Hawaii, help me (I am pretty sure he was thinking it would take me a year if he didn't step in and assist). Turns out, stripping the paper is quite a process, especially when you have gouged the dry wall and the floorboards are GLUED on!

I am STILL not done - not even ready to paint yet, but I am happy to report that the wallpaper is gone! I think part of me is enjoying the process of CHANGE and TRANSFORMATION. When you think about something for as long as I have thought about the wallpaper in the bathroom you want to let it all unfold slowly, right?

And this SLOW unfolding - or "peeling" has taught me something. Sometimes we avoid things because we think they will be really SHITTY, but we end up not really minding them so much - infact, sometimes they make us feel capable, motivated, and even empowered! And sometimes, it is totally ok to avoid them until you are just ready. In fact, when you are ready to tackle the "stinky" thing you have been avoiding, maybe it won't feel so much like a tackle as it will a gentle roll in a meadow. And maybe, that meadow will be dark green and dotted with pink roses.

So, what is your "wallpaper"? What have you been avoiding that you may just be ready to move on?

The truth about wallpaper is sometimes it is OK to leave it on for a while and sometimes it reaches a point where it just HAS to go!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fierce, Fabulous & Forty!?

It's true, I am forty. As the saying goes(thanks Byron Katie), "you can argue with the truth, but the truth always wins." Forty is not really worthy of arguing over. Age, at least at this moment, doesn't really faze me. I think I am feeling pretty zen about forty. It's an even number, divisible by 8 (always good!) and, as my sweet & saucy son pointed out, it sounds younger than 39! So, whatever, I am forty. I can fully accept and own the "40" part of "Fierce, Fabulous & Forty!"

But as I look at the pink, black & white (super cute) Mylar balloon that declares "Fierce, Fabulous & Forty," I find myself struggling with the other adjectives. I really do. Do these words, in any way, describe me? Fierce, in its new (post Project Runway) definition makes me think of someone bold, confident, fashion forward & hot. Me? Let's just say I rock a mean pair of Lee jeans & KEEN sneakers. Now, I have some aspirations towards "fierceness," but the extra, extra weight I've been carrying for 5+ years provides a "fierce" barrier. That's my story anyway. Is it true?

Now, if we are talking the classic fierce definition I can see it a bit more. Fierce = tough, a little bitchy, a little scary, a LOT scary, an occasional f&*@$ing nut job. With this definition I can begin to own my "fierceness." And in case I need references to back me up, I believe my kids would speak to this. Albeit, very quietly and only if they new I wasn't listening. They would for sure tell you that I can be FIERCE after listening to, say, the "Great Crayon War of 2011" for the eleventh time! And I am telling you, if I have to hear about Max's lost pocket knife one more time I will become so fierce that my zen forty feeling will fade away!

Is it true? Am I fierce? Yes, I am fierce, I'm just not sure I'm the kind of fierce you want emblazoned on a balloon. You can argue with the truth...

Next time...FABULOUS. Really?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mario Karts and Mediocre Parenting

Last night my sweet 9 year old son had a minor fit because he lost at Wii Mario Karts to his DAD! Oh the sadness, the injustice of it all. While his father revelled in his win, Max promptly threw the controller and stormed to his room - with a door slam, as the cherry on top of his pissed off sundae!

My immediate response was to remind my husband that Max had probably spent too much time on the Wii that evening and that we needed to set better guidelines on his "game time." To which my, ever -so -calm, husband replied (along with a few other remarks), "his reaction is his responsibility not mine."

It is really true isn't it? As parents, we walk a fine line between setting boundaries that enable our kids to make good decisions, and creating the space for our kids to make decisions on their own, sometimes bad decisions.

What is more important? The boundaries or the space? I would still argue that both are important, but that space is really crucial to helping kids learn how to screw up. Let's face it, we aren't ever going to teach our kids NOT TO SCREW UP - the hope is that we will teach them how to screw up and then deal with the consequences in an effective (and responsible) way.

My insistence that it was OUR fault, as parents, for not setting boundaries was both unfair to us and unfair to our son. Later when we went in to talk to him about his reaction this became all too clear. He had obviously heard some of our earlier conversation (through the slammed door, no doubt!) about setting better boundaries, because he said "It is dad's fault for letting me play so long." NICE. With one sentence I had both implicated my husband and exonerated my son.
The result was an irritated spouse and a gloating child. Not a pretty combination.

I did my best to repair the damage by letting Max know that is was IN NO WAY DAD'S FAULT that he chose to have a tantrum over losing. I repeated it multiple times. Maybe he heard me, maybe not. You can bet that the next time he has a fit he will pull out the "it's your fault..." card. We will deal with it. You know how? By creating some boundaries, yes, but more importantly, by continuing to give him LOTS of SPACE to screw up. Again and again. Over and over. Right here, in his house. Over Wii, over dinner, over homework. And each time we will remind him of his responsibility in it. We will remind him his reaction is his choice. We will do it here, where he is safe and can screw up and learn how to deal with it, so that when he screws up in a not-so-friendly environment he has some skills on how to do it. He will have experience on how to take responsibility and how to respond appropriately. Then, hopefully when his college professor gives him a C- on a paper he will see his role in the C-, rather than blaming the incompetent instructor.

So give 'em boundaries, but also give them lots of SPACE to @#$% Up!
I am eternally grateful for all the SPACE I have to screw up as a parent...
"Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to resolve..."
Roger Lewin (U.S. Anthropologist 1918-)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Creating opportunities...

Sometimes you are all ready for an appointment, a meeting, or a call and it doesn't happen. I used to get upset when plans fell through and take it as a "sign" that I wasn't worthy of the other person's time or consideration. I would spend the time I was supposed to be with them wondering what was wrong with me. I did this both in my business and professional life. Before I knew it the time I was intending to coach, meet for coffee or just chat was gone and I had used it to simply wallow and spin a story.

I don't remember when it hit me, and to be honest sometimes it still doesn't, but more often than not these days I see a missed meeting, missed coaching call, or missed appointment as an OPPORTUNITY to do something meaningful. Rather than spend this time focusing on what may have been missed I choose to consider what I can do with this gift of time.

Today, a missed coaching call becomes an opportunity to send out a quick blog. Tomorrow's missed appointment may be a chance to take a brisk walk and next week's cancelled meeting could become a creative explosion of marketing ideas (seriously, I could really use that!).

The point is that we get to CHOOSE how we spend our time. No one dictates our thoughts and our choices... we may have no control over someone forgetting a scheduled appointment, but everything beyond that is up to us - what we do with that time, how we react, and what we do next.

Olivia is downstairs playing a game with her Lala (grandma), I am in a quiet space... all is perfect in my world right now. Sure, I could have been on a coaching call - but I am not.

When plans change how do you respond? Are you a "victim of circumstance" or a Creator of Opporunity? What can you do today to make the most of change in plans?

Thanks to my fabulous client for missing our call... oh wait, the phone is ringing, she is just 30 minutes late. Wow - what an excellent 30 minutes!

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Teacher...

There is a saying... "The Teacher you need is the person you live with." I believe the amazing and insightful Byron Katie said this in reference to the idea that when we notice the people around us and closest to us they have much to teach us.
The saying doesn't say that these are the people who drive us the most crazy, but most of us know that if you spend enough time with anyone (including yourself) you will begin to notice everything about them that makes you want to scream, pull your hair out, and generally complain!
Katie's belief on this is that these "teachers" are there so that we can learn the lessons life has in store for us from the very people in our lives who not only reflect themselves, but shed light on who we are and how we behave.
My mom has recently been spending A LOT of time with our family. She was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in March and since she lives in a remote area she is getting her treatment in our town, and therefore living (mostly) in our home.
Suffice it to say... right now MY MOM is my biggest Teacher!
She just completed DAY 3 of 7.5 weeks of radiation treatment. Only 34 left to go!
You may think this is going to be all warm and fuzzy about how my mom has taught me to persevere, to rise above the struggle, or to choose life. It isn't. At least not yet.
Right now, my mom is teaching me about negativity and what it does to those around you. My mom is teaching me about anger and frustration. My mom is teaching me about what happens to you and others when you fail to express gratitude and extend grace to those closest to you.

So, I ask myself today:
  • In what areas of my life am I being negative and what impact does that have on me and my family/friends?
  • How do I behave when I am angry and frustrated? How does this serve me?
  • Who can I show more gratitude to today? What will that feel like for them and for me?
  • Who needs my grace and my patience today?

Thanks, Mom - I will be more patient and grateful to YOU today. You are an amazing teacher!

With love - Live a Juicy Life! xoxoHannah

Thursday, October 1, 2009


A few weeks ago, I was awakened by the sounds of construction equipment. Now, unlike my 8 year old son, Max, I am not a huge fan of construction. I always feel like the noise is intrusive and annoying. The moving of earth and rocks offends me. I find myself becoming protective and territorial when I see the landscape being altered. So, my reaction to a backhoe (or whatever it is called) in the vacant lot adjoining our property was not pretty. Plus, I hadn't had any coffee yet - it wasn't even 7am. Who on earth would wage war on the land before 7am??? No doubt, there was something sinister going on.

I was in full warrior mode by 7:30am. My heart was racing, my body temperature rising, and I was on a mission to save the world, or at least our stream! It turns out that the "work" was being done on the natural stream that runs through our yard and then continues through the vacant lot.

We LOVE our stream. Originally, it was just a (poor) substitute for Horsehead Bay, where we used to live. I was known to say, sadly, "Well, at least we still have some water to look at." But the stream has become our pride and joy. It runs year round, houses crayfish (OK, we have actually only found one), and changes by the day. Sometimes it looks like a flash flood zone and other times it gently trickles, but it is always there! And there is something absolutely amazing about running water.

So, with some direction from my brother--in-law (a surveyor and environmental enthusiast) I grabbed my clipboard (a woman should always have a clipboard - it works well as both a shield and note-taking device). I piled the kids in the car and drove down to the lot. Long story short, I confronted the workers demanded to see a permit, threatened to call the sheriff, discovered our neighbors were the culprits and ended up walking away more confused then I arrived. Now what?

I spent the day anxious, stressed and physically sick. I was deeply troubled by the injustice of it all. I was angry that the neighbors had not consulted the Dept. of Ecology or at the very least, us. I was, what you could call, WORKED UP.

Being angry is WORK. A lot of work. It can sometimes propel you to take action (when harnessed) and sometimes it can paralyze you. I made some calls, but mostly I was seething. For days I could not release my anger.

Then, a week after I called the Dept. of Ecology my husband noticed a sign on the property, but we could not tell what it said. I, of course, had to get in my car and drive down there. I didn't bring the clipboard this time. There, staring at me from a small wooden stake was a pink piece of paper that said "STOP WORK NOW NOTICE." As I drove home I realized that the sign was for me. After all, the work on clearing out the tiny stream and building a HUGE rock wall alongside it, had been completed several days earlier. Even after the last boulder was placed and the sad layer of hay was sprinkled over the scarred ground I was still WORKED UP.

The Stop Work Notice was a message for me. It was like someone was saying to me, "OK, enough now. You don't have to work on this anymore. You can let it go." Only then did I realize that I could have consolidated all my "work" just like they did with the "stream remodel." The amount of time you hold onto something doesn't determine its importance to you, it only determines how much the issue is controlling YOU.

So... what issues do you have that need a STOP WORK NOW notice? Are you taking action to make changes or just getting WORKED UP? When you have taken the action you need to take, you have been given a STOP WORK NOW notice. You can release it. I (almost) have!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One Small Step...

OK, I was going to give this blah blah blah blog a cute title about the "journey of a thousand miles..." but when I realized Confucius said it and then further realized that I hate the word journey, I decided to use another frequent flyer in the quote world instead - "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." (Neil Armstrong)

As I lay in bed tonight, OK tossed in bed tonight, I kept thinking that in order to take action you really only have to do one small thing. Infinitesimal. Itty Bitty. Once you do that thing - whatever it is - you are no longer where you were. You are out of inertia and moving. Even if it is at a turtle's pace, you are still moving. In fact, Martha Beck calls these mini movements turtle steps. And you know the story about the Turtle and the Hare, right?
So, that damn Confucius was onto something.

Where are you trying to go?
What are you hoping to achieve?
What do you want more (or less) of in your life?

Having a sense of your destination can be helpful, but even if you don't know exactly where you are going you can move in the direction of your dreams by taking one small step. The cool thing about these little moves is that you can adjust your direction easily if you discover it wasn't actually where you wanted to go. The other cool thing? They are a piece of cake and, dare I say, FUN!
My small step this week was to update my blog. After all, the journey of a thousand thoughts begins with just one word. Which is why I got up at 3am and decided to type a few of those words. Turtle Steps.

Do want more joy? What is one small thing that will bring you more joy this week?
I am going to laugh more with my family.

Do you want to be healthier? What is one thing (tiny!) that will create more wellness in your life? I am going to enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables of summer every day!

Do you want less stress? What is one itty-bitty mini-movement you can take to create more peace?
I am going to remind myself to be present.

Share YOUR small steps.
Everyone who comments on this post goes into a drawing for a 30 minute one-on-one coaching session on Turtle Steps. I know - it is a shameless way to encourage comments, but I don't care!

Confucius always makes me think of fortune cookies. I like to add "in bed" to the end of all my fortunes. So, "the journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step... in bed." Good night everyone!