Becoming Your Best, Life Coach

Your next dish from the menu of Life: What will you choose?

[This is part 4 of a 5-part series on Becoming Your Best. You can see the previous parts here:
1: Overview, 2: Self-Scaping, & 3: Noticing.]

Step Two in Becoming Your Best: Choose

YOU get to decide your experience of your life. 
Wow, does that sound epic! And maybe a little nerve-wracking.
You mean, I’m in charge of this thing?!
Yep. Your life is literally a choose-your-own-adventure.

A word about choices…

When you go on a quick errand for milk and eggs…and you are there for 45 minutes because you get to decide what is important, and to whom, and how much. (Omega 3? Vegetarian fed? Free range? Cow? Goat? Soy? Almond? Coconut? Cashew? On sale? Quantity? Packaging? Sustainability? Brand?)

What about taking time to choose the perfect angle, lighting, balance, frame, or filter for an Instagram post? [guilty!]

Decision fatigue IS real. And yet…

Living your life on purpose doesn’t have to be hard.

As I’m relearning with my new coach cohort, when you align any choice with your values, it can feel really easy.

The folks who ascribe to radical responsibility ask us to acknowledge that we own our life as it is. The world is blameless, and every moment is a potential jumping-off point for creating more of how you want your life to go.

Note: This is not to say that it’s your fault you’re experiencing a strong emotion, or that you prefer to have a certain past trauma triggered. No victim-blaming here. Our environments are powerful. What I am saying is that you, too, are powerful. Every situation of a thwarted societal takeover (real and imagined) was because of individuals who realigned with their values and made a different choice. Every drastic turnaround happens because someone chooses a different outcome. 

You are allowed to struggle and suffer…but you don’t have to.

Choosing is not about reshaping your PAST self or your PAST environment. It’s about acknowledging that you get to choose how it goes NOW and NEXT, moving forward. You don’t have a responsibility to change what happened in the PAST, but NOW you can choose to shift how you think about those past events, and then decide to move NEXT towards whatever outcome you desire. Isn’t that a relief? 

Choices are the hinges of destiny.

Edwin Markham


Imagine an amazing outcome for something (a meeting, a date, a performance, a day).

What does it feel like? What are you seeing, hearing? What is the experience of it?

Name it in words. (It feels warm! I am laughing joyfully among friends, celebrating at a party! I see bright yellows. I am loved and cared for.)


Choose to welcome warmth, brightness, love, joy, connection – in advance of the event. Feel it moving through your body. How does it move, speak, act? Breathe it in. Sit with it. And (THIS IS THE PUNCH LINE), once you are literally embodying it, decide how you’ll allow it to impact your next actions. What would you be willing to laugh about? To celebrate? To rejoice over? Who will you connect with, from this place? How would you bring this Being to the rest of your day, even to mundane tasks?

Bonus round One: Strong Emotion

But what if you don’t feel warm and fuzzy? What if you’re feeling bummed and isolated right now?

Option One: Notice with compassion

Go back to Step 1: Notice. Pay your inner self a visit. Close your eyes and get present. How can you be with yourself, AS YOU ARE, right now? A sweet, connected embrace? Holding space in loving and understanding silence while you rage or weep? A wise and gentle reminder that you are a gift, feelings and all? An invitation to play? 

Notice again: do you sense an invitation to a deeper experience? What is it? Feeling loved, valued, comforted, seen, held, honored – even in the midst of your feeling of sadness? ARE YOU WILLING TO ACCEPT THE INVITATION? Are you willing to hold space for both seemingly contradictory experiences, simultaneously?

Notice that this visualization can teach you how to bring your own being to others and connect with them, without becoming them. Honor where you are. 

And notice that choosing a new experience does not imply that you should demonize your emotions or make your feelings go away. You can indeed BE your person and BE WITH the feeling. You are not your feelings; you are a person who experiences feelings.

And notice that even if one thread of your emotional tapestry is especially bright and catches your attention, you are allowed to notice how it fits in with others as well.

Option Two: Act As If

Choose an action in spite of your strong emotion – one that is in line with the experience you want to create. Acknowledge if you don’t feel like it. Do it anyway.

Our minds are powerful machines. When they run certain programming for a long time, they get used to it – and so do we. But mindstuff is software – it can be uninstalled, edited, swapped. There are many programs that can behave similarly, so if this one is not producing the outcomes you’re looking for, I invite you to design and choose another that’s more in line with your values. Unlike the software metaphor, however, our habit-seeking minds will reinstall the old program when we’re not looking. This will take repetition and patience.

Won’t this be hard?!?!?

If you’re having a hard time aligning with your values, try going back to Step 1: Notice. What speaks to you? What is important? Discover some of the thoughts and sensations that lead you towards your values, and name them. Designing the new software program is no harder than that.

Bonus Round Two: Waffling

What if making a decision seems impossible for whatever reason? Too much pressure, too little pressure, too many options, too few options, too many great options, too many terrible options, no options…

Answer: Whatever decision you make IS the best one.

It’s like the conundrum when people ask fitness professionals to name the best workout. A wise answer I’ve heard is, THE ONE YOU’LL DO. Whether a workout meet this or that research requirement or metric, most of us frankly don’t give a damn. When we get in touch with the reasons why people work out, they can almost always accomplish those goals or align with those values through several different paths. At some level, it comes down to what you enjoy doing.

In closing

My mentors at my coach training program taught us that we have three options: 

  1. Make an empowered choice
  2. Make a disempowered choice
  3. Make no choice (which is always disempowering)

Pretty simple, I’d say. And yet…Simple ≠ easy. Or fast. Unless you decide that it is.

What will you choose next from the menu of life?

Becoming Your Best, Being, CoachBrain, Life Coach, Mindset

Selfscaping: How to Enjoy Change

Step Zero in Becoming Your Best:

Overall Mindset Shift From “At The Effect” To “Be The Cause”

I don’t think it’s too radical to say that everyone wants to have a great life. And in our society, many of us desire active participation in our own wild success story. This is what I mean when I invite you to choose to “Be The Cause” of your great life. (If you want greatness to “happen to you,” that is, to allow circumstantial dice to be rolled, and be “At The Effect” of your environment, this article may not be for you.) As a life coach, I believe that every person is not only capable of having a great life, but also has the power to be responsible for how it goes. This article is an invitation to look inward and claim your responsibility – do some trimming of your inner landscape (selfscaping) – which will then impact how it goes outwardly.

Everyone has their triggers. [My current working definition of a trigger is something that shows up in your environment that causes an unconscious response. Often, this response is related to something that has been repressed, avoided, or seems unsavory to the person experiencing it.] The moments when we are triggered are the moments when we give up our agency to our circumstances, and it can be a struggle to get back. In those moments, we are “At The Effect” of our situation. And to be clear, there is nothing wrong or bad about being triggered. But what if you could change your mind about what was happening, and enjoy that change?

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Photo by Maverick Sean Photography at USPDF Pro Finals 2019

Many of us resist change. Humans are creatures of habit. Patterns suit us. The Comfort Zone is, well, comfortable. To Enjoy Change, we need to be open to embracing the unknown, stepping into possibility, and welcoming newness. My invitation to you is to change the spelling: In Joy, Change. If you have resisted shifting into a higher version of yourself, slide a filter on it! Are you willing to be joyful about changing your mind? Maybe it’s joy, or maybe it’s love, or power, or boldness, or satisfaction. What filter of Being could you put on yourself and your life that would lead you to a more wonderful experience? (I am channeling Victory as I write this!) Choose a filter of Being that speaks to you!

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Photo by Maverick Sean Photography at USPDF Pro Finals 2019

Now try this with me. Take a breath, and call to mind a recent moment when you were less than yourself. You blew up on someone (or didn’t), had a breakdown (or didn’t), neglected yourself (or others), or any number of things. Get clear on your unconscious thoughts, words, and actions. Invite that filter you chose and see how your experience might have changed. Let your beautiful filter bleed over onto your present self. Now, if you were to encounter the same situation, how would it go differently? What would happen if you took that filter with you for a whole hour – a whole day – a whole week, or longer? Are you willing to try it??

I assert that, to a great extent, how we show up anywhere is how we show up everywhere. If you can acknowledge and redirect your internal selfscape – thoughts, sensations, emotions, your entire BEING – you will be able to do the same with your external words, actions, and interactions with greater facility and grace.

Mindset shifts like this are fleeting; make sure you create or secure sufficient support to maintain your new filter of Being. Journal, create community, read inspiring words, speak affirmations aloud, meditate, hire a coach, join The Creative Level-Up. And stay tuned for the next steps in the series!

Photo by Rachel E H Phototraphy



Being, Life Coach, WonderPlay Coaching

5 Steps to Transforming a Win-Lose Into a Win-Learn

Think about what you would classify as a totally devastating disaster.

There is a golden opportunity there!

I don’t say this to minimize grief or pain – those are really important parts of the human experience, and they need time and attention. I am simply making the assertion that you can have a 180 in the next moment – if you allow it. Give yourself permission to transform a Win-Lose situation into a Win-Learn in these five steps.

Fail early, Fail often, But always Fail Forward. (1)

1. Discover the gifts.

In a situation that didn’t go as perfectly or smoothly as you had wanted, get curious. If this “failure” was actually designed for you as Training from the Universe, what could the title of the lesson be? What lessons would benefit you as you move forward in your life? Consider that every opportunity to learn is always a gift. In my coach training program, we called this turning “Problems to Opportunities,” which I lovingly refer to as “Probportunities.”

2. Look critically within.

In my Advanced Choral Conducting course in college, my professor said something about leadership that has profoundly impacted me. “If the ensemble is not doing what you want them to do, look inside first.” Is there something about your Being that has internally or explicitly drawn this result to you? Garner the courage to look, without judgment, and discover where you can shift your Being to invite more success. (Want help? Schedule a sample session with me!)

3. Take radical responsibility.

Related to the quote above, consider that everything in your life was drawn to you, by you. If it seems like events have happened *to* you rather than *because* of you, practice releasing any trace of victim mentality. I particularly enjoy practicing with mantra or affirmations, such as “I am a powerful creator. I speak and act boldly as the master of my experience.” (More of those, here!)

4. Play like a scientist.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater at every undesirable outcome. Use what worked, and treat the project like an opportunity to polish up the rough patches. Give yourself the power to persistently stick to your convictions, and yet take the freedom to play and experiment with what could be tweaked or improved. At some point, with enough careful gathering of evidence, you may find remarkable results with fairly small adjustments.

5. Appreciate the challenge.

Remember that this is a journey, and you are not alone. Take the time and space to acknowledge yourself fully. Take a veritable bath in love and compassion. Fill your cup or regenerate your spoons for the next day. Remember that you are the star of your movie, and even the superhero experiences minor setbacks. Express gratitude for the possibilities this presents. And get back out there, you resilient warrior you!
So, the next time you find yourself hooked by something that feels bigger or more awful than you can bear, remember that life is what you make it. Enjoy the adventure!

Additional Resources

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3 Simple Steps to Becoming Your Best – an Overview (part 1 of 5)

Let’s juxtapose two familiar moments.

If you’re like most people, you have moments of your life that feel wonky. Unproductive. Negative. Out of control. Not yourself. Off. We know in our heart of hearts that we are better than those moments.

Likewise, you probably experience moments of uncontrollable shiny brilliance. You are an all-powerful Being. Loving. Loved. Glowing. Flowing. Magical. Everything you touch turns to gold. We wish we could stay in THOSE moments forever.

Sometimes these moments seem to happen to us. While I have nothing against receiving blessings, I believe we can step beyond letting the Universe give us gifts. I believe we can create them on purpose, bringing our best selves to our lives – work and play, friends and family.

I propose a path to Becoming Your Best – one of many – and I invite you to practice with me. (I will cover each section in greater depth in the rest of this series on my WonderPlay Coaching blog – visit me there for more!)

Step Zero: Overall Mindset Shift

From “At The Effect” To “Be The Cause”

This really is the foundation, so I’m calling it Step Zero. Without creating this foundation first, there is no supported place to continue. Mindset shifts are fleeting; make sure you create or secure sufficient support to maintain your new mindset. Journal, create community, read inspiring words, speak affirmations aloud, meditate, hire a coach. Identify your “What For” in Becoming Your Best – Family? Career? Relationships?

It can be thrilling to allow the ocean of your circumstances to toss you about. It is a significantly different experience to be the captain of your ship, and to move in the direction of your choosing. If you wish to exercise more power and purpose in your life, Be The Cause of your movement. Connect with the source of who you are as Divine Creator. Identify and release the disempowering stories of who you used to be, and proceed boldly on your declared course.

1+ minute exercise:

(a) Identify a circumstance of your past when you were “At The Effect” of your world. (ie getting into an argument)

(b) What were the unconscious thoughts, behaviors, and feelings you demonstrated? (ie “If only ____ had said _____, then ______! It’s all their fault!”) 

(c) Ask yourself how it could go differently if you were to “Be The Cause” of your life in that same situation if (when) it comes up again. (ie “When I take ownership of my responsibility for communicating, I articulate my wants and needs clearly.”)

Step One: Notice

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In order to Be The Cause of your Being, first notice – without judgment – who you have been. People call this mindfulness, metacognition, presence, self-awareness, Super-Ego — whatever you call it, it begins with you extricating your big Self from your mindstuff. You know when people mindlessly ask “how are you?” and you mindlessly answer however you answer while you’re thinking about something else? Take the time to really ask yourself. Give yourself the gift of your own attention, even for a moment.

1+ minute exercise: answer these three questions as an outside observer watching the movie of your life, without feeling the need to judge or change.

(a) How am I, really, right now?
(b) What thoughts, feelings, and body sensations are in my space?
(c) What’s going on in my environment?

Step Two: Choose

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You get to Be The Cause of how your life goes. Your thoughts, feelings, and determinations are up to you – your responsibility, no one else’s. If you have that much agency over your life, could you choose to Become Your Best, more and more aligned with the greatest version of your Higher Self? The answer is yes – and at any moment.

1+ minute exercise: play the director in the movie of your life and answer these three questions.

(a) What is the hero’s highest purpose in this [scene, movie, series, life]? (ie Connection)
(b) What is the best next [action, interaction, feeling, scene, line] that would express our hero’s purpose? (ie clear the air with my argument partner and listen for what they need)
(c) When or how will the hero take that action, and what will the results be? (ie invite a conversation tonight, and we’ll be back in connected relationship afterward)

Step Three: Repeat

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Becoming Your Best takes as much practice as anything else. I recently shared with my musical theater students some advice I received when I was their age: “If you care about precision, don’t practice until you can get it right; practice until you can’t get it wrong.” It’s not bad or wrong for you to not get it the first time. It’s refreshingly normal. We are habitual creatures, and we need the reps.

1+ minute exercise: give yourself some reps!

(a) Choose a way of Being to maintain for at least 1 minute of activity. (ie Love) 
(b) Notice the effects of your Being on your activity. (ie appreciating brushing your teeth as an act of Self-Love)
(c) When you fall into unconsciousness (ie brushing your teeth mindlessly), re-Mind yourself of your Chosen way of Being, and come back to it on purpose.
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Thanks for taking a journey to Becoming Your Best. I believe that the better we each express our brilliance individually, the better we become together. Join me for more depth by following my WonderPlay Coaching blog, or join my newest collective, The Creative Level-Up, for weekly coaching and live masterminding (find the schedule here), or schedule a Discovery Call to find out more about joining a coaching group for even more direct support on Becoming Your Best!

Being, Life Coach, Mindset, Perfection, WonderPlay Coaching

Declaring Value is a Choice: 5 Gifts From My Stolen Car

We were about to take a drive to Humboldt Park (to scout locations for a community event for The Sacred Circus), and my car isn’t where we parked it after we got groceries the night before. Towed? No. Stolen? Yes.

The situation is (almost) resolved as I type this. Nothing was ever broken in the first place, but as usual, I am creating a lot of value in this journey!

The bottom line is: Declaring Value is a Choice. When we make a mindset habit of declaring value, the circumstances seem to reorganize themselves around that idea.
These 5 gifts (that I choose to receive) are ways I am declaring value from this whole experience.
Selfie from a day I was feeling really boss that week, regardless of missing car.
I was channeling Power, Creativity, and Love!

Declared Value #1: Recognizing That I Am Warrior. 

That doesn’t mean I’m not a Worrier sometimes. But I am prepared to step up and take appropriate action in the circumstances I find myself in. I prioritize easily. I plan methodically I move swiftly. I trust my intuition. I count on people to have my back, and I also am ready to move along if they are unable to help. I see that my mindset is one of my most precious resources. I didn’t panic or rage. I simply acknowledged that my afternoon was going to look different from how I had planned it and moved along.
At the same time, Warriors need breaks too. Which leads me to my next point…

This was a report to my team about my mindset practice for the day, as I was waiting for a bus.

Declared Value #2: Reminder to Practice Compassion and Gratitude.

Having compassion for myself was a challenge – surprisingly/not surprisingly. As I was waiting for the bus to go to work after I canceled the remainder of my participation in our Sacred Circus research trip, I thought to myself that I wanted to simply cry and be held. My need to be tenderly cared for got met in other ways that week, and sometimes I got reminders to be tender toward myself.

This was right before the first drive back in the recovered vehicle. Some of the objects that remained included this extraordinary shiny and sequined piece of fabric – remaining from my competitive pole season. I opted to wear it as a scarf immediately in the name of Celebration!
It was fairly easy to have compassion for the thief, by surprising contrast. I imagined the person who stole my car really needing transportation. I imagined them getting groceries and commuting to a workplace. I imagined them being super short on earthly dollars and choosing this as a way to generate some quick cash. As I learned from Grace Bishop at the first ImpacTable (find her business at LeadLove and her passionwork as a leader and facilitator of NonViolent Communication in Chicago), much of human emotional behavior is an expression of an unmet need. 
Bonus: whosoever stole the car cleaned it out pretty well! Thanks!

Cleaned out…Stereo included.

Declared Value #3: Leaning on My Human Resources.

What a network I have, in biological and chosen family!

The first phone call was to my Dad, who got into action to mitigate the potential negative effects, including recruiting his sister (my aunt & godmother) to investigate giving me a big ol’ pile of her airline miles to rent me a car for a week while we at least figured out what would happen next. He started fixing up “my” car extra fast and moving forward with that, but then once the stolen car was recovered, my grandmother contributed that she would switch cars with me so I would have a drivable car sooner, and even gave me money for the title transfer. Not to mention, my Dad insisted on having me drop the car off to him immediately so he could make sure everything was still in proper order before releasing it to me again. Holy cow. I would not have managed this situation nearly as gracefully on my own, without their assistance. I am SO grateful.

And then there’s my husband. The moment we discovered the car missing, he offered his service – “What can I do? What do you need?” And he was a space for love and listening the whole time. Even the morning the car was recovered, when we got that call from the police to either pick it up RIGHT NOW or they would tow it and have it impounded, he canceled his bodywork/training appointment that he had been excited about ALL WEEK to come with me in the rental to pick up the stolen vehicle. (I hadn’t even considered that it wouldn’t be drivable, but it started right up when we got there.) He got to be with me, too, when we realized when we were most of the way there that we had left the house without any ID. That was quite a hilarious scene with that police officer, but I was able to confirm my identity by having my Driver’s License Number memorized and independently corroborating the info on the initial police report, so that turned out ok. But I wouldn’t have been nearly so easy and graceful in that situation either, if it had not been for Ryan. I continue to be SO grateful. 

Declared Value #4: Reminder to Release My Hold on the Physical.

Possessions? Great. Stopping to smell the flowering trees? At least as great.

I remember the last time a big-ticket item was stolen out from under me: it was my backpack in Costa Rica. It wasn’t “my” backpack — it had all my STUFF in it, yes, and I was USING it at the time, but it wasn’t strictly mine. 

My husband and I had left a high-stress situation and decided to camp out on the beach the day before we would begin leading our first retreat. We had been backpacking and hammocking, getting trained up with Sacred Paths Yoga, doing Ayahuasca when wild shamans appeared, and all-around having brilliant adventures…and suddenly the earthly possessions I had been carrying around were no more.

For about five minutes I went from disbelief to sadness and anger. I asked continuously through hysterical tears, “What do I do?!” Ryan finally offered, “Start to accept the loss.” That was what I needed to hear in that moment. I snapped out of it immediately. I stopped crying and did as suggested – began to accept that those objects didn’t belong to me anymore, and released them to their next phase of existence and moved on to mine.

The backpack is not the focus of this photo, and it turns out it wasn’t the focus of our journey either.

All of this to say, when the car was missing from its spot, I had already had a great session of practice this year of accepting the loss of a high-value object. We figured out who to call, what to say, and what to do next. It was a little tiring, but I was ready to move forward. I still am, even now that the car has been recovered – missing stereo and some personal affects notwithstanding.

WonderPlay of the Day: Steps Toward Release! While out in the city, I threw away the shoes I was wearing and walked home barefoot. I was on my way home from an adventure to meet @c_rieds ‘s financial planner with @mr.ladysmith last week, and I noticed that my gait had adjusted to avoid the pain from walking in my broken sandals. My beloved white Birks had taken some severe water damage (most recently and deleteriously from our Big Top adventure on the Fourth of July with @placeodiscovery and @deosluciddream), and they had never recovered. And yet! True to my fashion, I had decided that I would try to make them last till the end of this sandal-season. When Ryan suggested I throw them away, I discovered I was still attached to them, broken as they were. They’ve served me ever so well (@birkenstock is my jam), and I’ve had so many adventures in them (3+ years!) – not to mention Ryan has mostly commandeered my other pair (which you can see in the 2nd video). I went through fear that was physical (what about broken glass? will it hurt me to walk on the concrete?), social (what will people think of me? can I present as as person in charge of themselves and their life if I don’t even have shoes?), commercial (will they even let me on the CTA?), mental (I’ve never done this before; can I even handle it?) and even familial judgment (what would my MOTHER say? @sandratuazon) before I finally allowed the pain of my present situation to override all of it. Not only was I not injured, but I was leaps and bounds more comfortable than with my broken sandals. I remembered that my feet were built to walk on, urban environment notwithstanding. Plus, I got to experience something completely new. To top it off, a man living out of his truck under the Green Line asked if I was barefoot by choice, and then offered me some shoes. How humbling! Takeaways: 👞Pay attention to your discomfort. There is something there for you. 👟Pay attention to any invitations you get to release your discomfort – and especially pay attention to your resistance to do so. 👠Give generously, and express gratitude freely. 👡Explore the world for new experiences – they may be closer than you think.
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^^^Another recent exploration of releasing the physical.

Declared Value #5: Seeing A Bigger Picture. (Hint:It’s All Perfect.)

Recontextualizing a hardship into an opportunity is always a way of declaring value. 

Here’s some background that made it seem hilariously extra-complicated: 

  • It wasn’t even “my” car. It was on loan from my family.
  • Therefore, the stolen car is not in my name, nor registered to my address.
  • I didn’t know WHOSE name the car was registered in when I called to make the police report. 
  • The insurance on said loaner car wouldn’t cover theft replacement or a rental.
  • I plan my schedule based on commutes for my jobs, which are in turn based on having a car for commuting.
We learned this glorious tool in my coach training called “Problems to Opportunities.” A few of us clever folks condensed it to “Probportunities.” The shorthand of the exercise is, when you think you have a problem, find at least 3 opportunities from it. I had opportunities to figure out how to get to work on transit and how long that would take, how to file a police report for a stolen car I don’t own, how to rent a car with someone else’s airline miles (pro tip: you still have to pay the taxes in regular dollars, and still with a credit card), and how to get creative regarding missing work supplies (my dance bag was in the car at the time, and they rifled through it pretty well) and stretch the resources you’re left with. As Mike Michalowicz says in Profit First (<<<that’s a link to the audiobook on Audible), one of the tropes of entrepreneurship is to do more with less. I am grateful for all of these opportunities and reminders.

Bottom line: everything is really fine. Really.

There’s nothing like a little training from the Universe to create yourself more into who you are becoming. I create this experience as character-building and interesting, and I know that it will eventually be what one of my colleagues calls “Fun Type 2” – it will all be be funny after it’s not dramatic anymore.


I’d love to hear how you declare value in your experiences! Please comment below and share what values you are creating.