How to think positive when you feel like crap

Think positive right?

The pressure to think positive often back fires. Trying to think positive when you feel crappy doesn’t usually get you very far. Here’s how to shift that crappy feeling without bypassing your feelings. Use this tool any time you feel stressed about not being able to think positive or you want to tell your friend who tell you to think positive to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine! think positve - embrace present as if you chose it

Granted, there is something to positive thinking. Obviously…there’s a huge world of personal growth surrounding it. Really, this article and video is for the recovering self helper…new ager. We have a program in our minds that says we “should” think positive. However, we dig a hole for ourselves when we throw this should on top of ourselves instead of being present with ourselves to move through the emotion we are feeling, to have a somatic clearing of the energy that we are feeling.

My big pet peeve

Having been in the personal growth field since 2003, I’ve heard people tell each other to think positive all the time. It becomes exhausting and doesn’t work…it actually has the opposite effect on the person who feels crappy. The pressure just adds more stress and self criticism to an already crappy mood! When someone is clearly distressed and a well meaning friend tells them to think positive, I have to calm my inner mamma bear down. The use of this phrase is one of my biggest pet peeves. Would you tell a young child in pain to think positive? I didn’t think so. It doesn’t make sense when someone is feeling hurt, sad, angry, etc.

Are you sick of your inner voice or the voices of others telling you to think positive? Are you tired of it not working? Check out the video for a different way of shifting your feelings.



For a discover session to move through your emotional blocks, contact me to schedule. It’s complimentary!

How to reduce overwhelm with the C.A.L.M. Method.

Do you have more ideas than time? Do you feel overwhelmed, almost in a frozen state regarding your goals and to do lists? Do you feel almost frustrated by your expanse of ideas without enough time and energy to do every thing? I relate.

My computer, phone, and notebooks have countless ideas, projects, and ….countless. There are a lot of gems in there, but it would take two teams working full time to get them all done. And even so, over YEARS, real things…lots and lots of things, are get done. It’s so satisfying to look back at one of the lists I find randomly while organizing, and notice how many of the things I’ve done. And there are things I’m glad I didn’t do as well.

Recently, a client sent me multiple pages of her goals, ideas, projects, etc. They all sound good and they all make sense. So, what’s the problem? She has a full time job and a full life, so they can’t all happen at once. And that’s not even the problem. The real problem is that voice that berates us and says, “You’re not doing enough! You’re not working fast enough!” And believe it or not, this voice has good intentions. It honors our ideas, our creativity, our vision/goals and wants to make sure we express them. It’s our job to manage those voices and to build trust in ourselves that we are taking “enough” action to express ourselves in the world.

The voice in us that is screaming, “You’re not doing enough” is actually just trying to protect us. What you can do is simply assure it that you are still worthy of love and will be okay even if you don’t get everything on your to do list done. Your worth and lovability do not come from how much you get done in a day or in your life.

How do you find a balance between feeding the “not enough” monster and actually contributing to society?

Many people believe in quitting their job so they can do all of these things. That might work, but it won’t reduce overwhelm and my experience is, the more time we have, the less efficient we are. So, what to do?

So, not that you know the world won’t end if you don’t get everything done, here is a system for dealing with too many ideas and not enough time. It’s called C.A.L.M.M.

Clarify the over all purpose and mission of what you are doing.  This doesn’t just mean to make money. What’s the larger reason you are doing this particular thing? Let that be the space for your garden and the intention that you continuously return to when you get overwhelmed. Use this purpose/mission to catalyze momentum and to create a strong center. Why are you doing what you’re doing?

Activate your highest priorities. Which seeds are ready to pop? What’s right there in front of you, even if it’s small….or if it’s a small step toward something bigger. What is the most important thing for LONG TERM growth and sustainability. (If you can’t focus on long term, then change your circumstances so you can.) Mother Teresa had a simple quote that I love, “Do what’s in front of you.”

Learn more about your ideas. Talk through them with a friend or coach or do some brainstorming to discover which has the most energy for you, which is most ready to sprout, and which one most embodies your purpose and mission. Research your market or study what others are doing similar to what you want to do, etc. The thing about pacing things is that you get to learn as you go. This learning along the way will give you confidence to do bigger and bigger things.

Measure your tasks out over the long term. It’s easy to look at a list and think you’re going to get it all done in a month, but give yourself DOUBLE the time you think it will take. If you’re like most entrepreneurs and bootstrapping your business, you’ll be learning about SEO, web-sites, blogging, social media, selling, marketing, etc and it will all take time and have a learning curve. Expecting yourself to do it all overnight will only add to your frustration.  If you can hire it all out, give yourself double the time too….because you’ll still have a lot to clarify, learn, and communication takes time as well.  Look at the bigger picture and spread your ideas out. Use a wall with a bunch or Post-It’s or something that you can move around, so you can adapt as you learn more about what you are doing and direction you are moving in.

Motivate yourself by exceeding your expectations…which very likely means setting lower expectations, especially if you’re a perfectionist. Setting small goals and exceeding them is a more effective formula than having ridiculous expectations and burning yourself out or feeling like you are always behind. If you have a long term goal to paint for 30 hours/week, and you’re doing zero hours now, start with 1 or 2. Let it feel ridiculously easy, then do it. You’ll likely exceed that goal. And don’t get carried away the next week and try to do 5….keep setting small goals. Seriously. It works in the long run.

If you want support to create your overwhelm reduction plan, contact me for a complimentary half hour discovery session.



Why It’s a Bad Idea to Set New Year’s Resolutions…And if You Must

By Jen Aly, M.S.

As we begin the new year, many people are setting new goals or revisiting old ones. While over half of us make New Year’s resolutions, less than 10% of those who set them actually keep them. So, before you consider setting new resolutions, start the year by forgiving yourself for all the ones you haven’t kept over your lifetime.

If you are reading this article, chances are you are growth oriented, have an active life, and may be a perfectionist (or recovering “A” student). Do you spend your energy on being more perfect, less flawed or “better”? A big part of being happy and expressing that happiness in the world comes from self-acceptance, a feeling of self-worth and feeling loved.

What if your only resolution this year is to love yourself and those around you more? That’s it. When you are gentle with yourself, you have more love to give. When you take care of you, you are supporting all of your relationships.

For many of you, the idea of adding new habits to your schedule may be overwhelming anyway. What about simplifying your schedule so you have more unscheduled time? It may sound scary at first, but if you are someone who is generally busy, spaciousness can be miraculous for your well-being and for your relationships.

In addition to adding more to your schedule with your resolutions, you may also berate yourself for not doing as much as you had hoped. This isn’t very much fun and only increases your stress level. These reasons, and the following three reasons are often why resolutions don’t work.

1) Your goal is too big. Out of guilt, you may try to compensate for all the years you haven’t exercised daily and commit to six hours a week. This over commitment is likely setting yourself up for failure.

2) You pressure yourself to be disciplined and your inner child (the part of you that is tired of being pushed to do more and just wants love) rebels wildly. You may hit a stand off with this part of yourself and get no where.

3) You believe you should be able to do it alone and don’t ask for or create support. The thing about choosing to do it alone is, you can’t see what you don’t see or know what you don’t know. So the perspective of an insightful friend, colleague or coach can help you create changes more easily.

When it comes to making changes, consider this. There is a part of your brain called the amygdala. Its job is to keep you in your comfort zone. When you move outside of your comfort zone, you experience stress. The amygdala does not make any distinctions about whether you are moving outside of your comfort zone in a beneficial way or in a way that is dangerous to you. So, your amygdala may be triggered to overreact and sabotage the change you really want. With awareness of this you can keep going in the direction you choose even when it’s uncomfortable.

Perhaps you are not convinced and feel having resolutions is important and keeps you motivated to make positive change. If you feel that adding new habits to your life is the way to love yourself, please consider these ideas.

  • Set a small clear goal. If you want to get in shape, the goal could be to put your running shoes on every day. I’m serious about starting small. Begin where are you now and complete an action that is one small step in the direction you want to go in. Success breeds success. Take it from there.
  • Track what you are doing. Create a log sheet and write down what you do. It’s hard to beat yourself up for not doing enough when you can see you are making progress.
  • Enroll your partner or a friend in your new commitment and let them cheer you on. Share your accomplishments and celebrate with them. You can agree to support each other if you each have a commitment to a resolution.
  • Set an intention instead. What is it you want to cultivate more of this year? Choose an intention and make that your focus for the year. Make it something you can live into such as courage, calm, prosperity, etc. Determine a symbol that anchors your intention like a piece of gemstone jewelry you can wear daily or plaster the word everywhere on Post-It’s in your home and office.

Try this and see how you feel at the end of the year without the guilt of quitting the diet in February or paying for a gym membership you only used for two months. Focus on one habit that creates more gentleness in your life. Pat yourself on the back for whatever progress you make. Einstein once defined insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So, why not try something different?

Click here for a video about using gemstone jewelry as an anchor for your intention.



What is the most important habit to cultivate for success?

This is a photo of Michelle Marshal & I. We met at a networking event, have developed a friendship and given, received, and referred business from each other.

This is a photo of Michelle Marshal & I. We met at an Asheville Femfessionals networking event in 2013, have developed a friendship and continue to give, receive, and refer business and resources to/from each other.

After I began my first business as a life coach in 2004, I went to my first networking event in California where I remember feeling subjected to business cards coming at me from all directions, rather than actually connecting with people. What I’ve found is that opportunities, resources, and success come through quality connections rather than massively distributing my business cards or generically following up from the stack of cards on my desk.  The value of connecting with people and an organic evolution of business, is priceless, fun, and more sustainable in the long term. This is why I love networking groups that primarily focus on relationships, connection, support, and collaboration.

I hope this classic story inspires you to take a connected approach as the most important habit to cultivate for success….one that is less hurried, busy, task oriented, and more connection oriented than what is typical.

The following story by Leo Tolstoy is my favorite fable. For years I’ve used it as a teaching tool with college students & coaching clients, and I remind myself of the key lessons often. I hope you gain some inspiration from it and remember the lessons when considering how to be successful in networking, in business, and in life.

Three Questions – by Leo Tolstoy

One day it occurred to a certain emperor that if he only knew the answers to three questions, he would never stray in any matter.

What is the best time to do each thing? Who are the most important people to work with? What is the most important thing to do at all times?

The emperor issued a decree throughout his kingdom announcing that whoever could answer the questions would receive a great reward. Many who read the decree made their way to the palace at once, each person with a different answer.

In reply to the first question, one person advised that the emperor make up a thorough time schedule, consecrating every hour, day, month, and year for certain tasks and then follow the schedule to the letter. Only then could he hope to do every task at the right time.

Another person replied that it was impossible to plan in advance and that the emperor should put all vain amusements aside and remain attentive to everything in order to know what to do at what time.

Someone else insisted that, by himself, the emperor could never hope to have all the foresight and competence necessary to decide when to do each and every task and what he really needed was to set up a Council of the Wise and then to act according to their advice.

Someone else said that certain matters required immediate decision and could not wait for consultation, but if he wanted to know in advance what was going to happen he should consult magicians and soothsayers.

The responses to the second question also lacked accord.

One person said that the emperor needed to place all his trust in administrators, another urged reliance on priests and monks, while others recommended physicians. Still others put their faith in warriors.

The third question drew a similar variety of answers. Some said science was the most important pursuit. Others insisted on religion. Yet others claimed the most important thing was military skill.——————————-

The emperor was not pleased with any of the answers, and no reward was given.

After several nights of reflection, the emperor resolved to visit a hermit who lived up on the mountain and was said to be an enlightened man. The emperor wished to find the hermit to ask him the three questions, though he knew the hermit never left the mountains and was known to receive only the poor, refusing to have anything to do with persons of wealth or power. So the emperor disguised himself as a simple peasant and ordered his attendants to wait for him at the foot of the mountain while he climbed the slope alone to seek the hermit.

Reaching the holy man’s dwelling place, the emperor found the hermit digging a garden in front of his hut. When the hermit saw the stranger, he nodded his head in greeting and continued to dig. The labor was obviously hard on him. He was an old man, and each time he thrust his spade into the ground to turn the earth, he heaved heavily.

The emperor approached him and said, “I have come here to ask your help with three questions: When is the best time to do each thing? Who are the most important people to work with? What is the most important thing to do at all times?”

The hermit listened attentively but only patted the emperor on the shoulder and continued digging. The emperor said, “You must be tired. Here, let me give you a hand with that.” The hermit thanked him, handed the emperor the spade, and then sat down on the ground to rest.

After he had dug two rows, the emperor stopped and turned to the hermit and repeated his three questions. The hermit still did not answer, but instead stood up and pointed to the spade and said, “Why don’t you rest now? I can take over again.” But the emperor continued to dig. One hour passed, then two. Finally the sun began to set behind the mountain. The emperor put down the spade and said to the hermit, “I came here to ask if you could answer my three questions. But if you can’t give me any answer, please let me know so that I can get on may way home.”

The hermit lifted his head and asked the emperor, “Do you hear someone running over there?” The emperor turned his head. They both saw a man with a long white beard emerge from the woods. He ran wildly, pressing his hands against a bloody wound in his stomach. The man ran toward the emperor before falling unconscious to the ground, where he lay groaning. Opening the man’s clothing, the emperor and hermit saw that the man had received a deep gash. The emperor cleaned the wound thoroughly and then used his own shirt to bandage it, but the blood completely soaked it within minutes. He rinsed the shirt out and bandaged the wound a second time and continued to do so until the flow of blood had stopped.

At last the wounded man regained consciousness and asked for a drink of water. The emperor ran down to the stream and brought back a jug of fresh water. Meanwhile, the sun had disappeared and the night air had begun to turn cold. The hermit gave the emperor a hand in carrying the man into the hut where they laid him down on the hermit’s bed. The man closed his eyes and lay quietly. The emperor was worn out from the long day of climbing the mountain and digging the garden. Leaning against the doorway, he fell asleep. When he rose, the sun had already risen over the mountain. For a moment he forgot where he was and what he had come here for. He looked over to the bed and saw the wounded man also looking around him in confusion. When he saw the emperor, he stared at him intently and then said in a faint whisper, “Please forgive me.”

“But what have you done that I should forgive you?” the emperor asked.

“You do not know me, your majesty, but I know you. I was your sworn enemy, and I had vowed to take vengeance on you, for during the last war you killed my brother and seized my property. When I learned that you were coming alone to the mountain to meet the hermit, I resolved to surprise you on your way back to kill you. But after waiting a long time there was still no sign of you, and so I left my ambush in order to seek you out. But instead of finding you, I came across your attendants, who recognized me, giving me this wound. Luckily, I escaped and ran here. If I hadn’t met you I would surely be dead by now. I had intended to kill you, but instead you saved my life! I am ashamed and grateful beyond words. If I live, I vow to be your servant for the rest of my life, and I will bid my children and grandchildren to do the same. Please grant me your forgiveness.”

The emperor was overjoyed to see that he was so easily reconciled with a former enemy. He not only forgave the man but also promised to return all the man’s property and to send his own physician and servants to wait on the man until he was completely healed. After ordering his attendants to take the man home, the emperor returned to see the hermit. Before returning to the palace the emperor wanted to repeat his three questions one last time. He found the hermit sowing seeds in the earth they had dug the day before.

The hermit stood up and looked at the emperor and said, “But your questions have already been answered.”

“How’s that?” the emperor asked, puzzled.

“Yesterday, if you had not taken pity on my age and given me a hand with digging these beds, you would have been attacked by that man on your way home. Then you would have deeply regretted not staying with me. Therefore the most important time was the time you were digging in the beds, the most important person was myself, and the most important pursuit was to help me. Later, when the wounded man ran up here, the most important time was the time you spent dressing his wound, for if you had not cared for him he would have died and you would have lost the chance to be reconciled with him. Likewise, he was the most important person, and the most important pursuit was taking care of his wound. Remember that there is only one important time and is Now. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion. The most important person is always the person with whom you are, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future. The most important pursuit is making that person, the one standing at you side, happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life.”


The Power of Setting Your Intention

At the beginning of every coaching session, my client and I take a few breaths together to center and I ask clients to set or tune into an intention for the session. I ask clients what they want to experience in the session and/or leave with and hold that intention and sometimes direct the session toward their intention. Common intentions are ease, clarity, motivation, and peace. Today, the word “fruition” came up as an intention for a client. I felt curious and looked up the meaning. We found definition (below) 2. “Enjoyment derived from use or possession.” especially interesting because it’s more about being in the moment rather than a particular outcome or accomplishment.

fruition – n.noun (Houghton Mifflin via

Fully bloomed hibiscus flower.

Fully bloomed hibiscus flower.

1. Realization of something desired or worked for;

2. Enjoyment derived from use or possession.

3. The condition of bearing fruit.

Setting your intention for a task or project and returning to the intention can support more fruition in the moment and move you toward realizing your desired outcome.

For support in remembering your intention every day, you can “Wear Your Intention” with gemstone jewelry. Visit to discover intentional jewelry with titles  such as “Healing,” “Intuition,” “Prosperity,” and “Calm.”


One Person Can Make A Difference

Mildred Cannon Bacon

Mildred Cannon Bacon

It’s not easy to step outside of the western norm of  trying to do everything on our own. Without some form of modeling or support, it’s challenging to move confidently in the directions that our hearts and souls are calling us. Even having one nurturing person in our corner can make a huge difference in how we live and what we are willing to choose for ourselves. Last month marked (what would have been) the 86th birthday of a woman who had a huge positive impact on my life, my grandmother, Mildred Cannon Bacon.

When Granny was in her early 40’s and her youngest of four children was 12, she decided to go to college. She worked two jobs, one laboriously trimming tobacco for the neighbors farm, so she could afford to go to a local college. She received her bachelors from Tennessee Wesleyan College and then went on to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for her Master’s degree in education. She was the resource teacher at a rural, low income elementary school in East Tennessee until she was 73.  She was the first person I knew who had e-mail. Others have told me that, among other good things, she was the teacher who helped make sure every child at her school had field trip money.

As her first born grandchild…and the only female granddaughter until I was 13, she spoiled me. Not in the worst way…..but in ways that made me feel special. She bought me shoes and clothes when I needed them…and sometimes when I didn’t. She took me to Florida when I was 8 to visit family and to Disneyland. She took me to Washington, D.C. when I was 10 and I’ll never forget how big I felt when I saw the D.C. skyline of monuments and famous buildings.  When I had trouble in Algebra in high school, she hired a retired math teacher to tutor me and after one session I went from a “C” to the highest grade in the class. She undoubtedly nurtured possibility and confidence in my life and my spirit.

When I was in college at Tennessee Wesleyan and then in grad school at U.T, Knoxville (both her alma maters), she helped me out monthly financially. I would go to her house on Sundays and do laundry, talk and/or nap in the living room while she drank Diet Coke in a crystal glass with slivers of machine-made ice dinging around, and the sound of the Home Shopping Network or golf in the background. That living room was the coziest place in the world for me.

Granny took this photo of me and my Aunt Theda when I was eight.

Granny took this photo of me and my Aunt Theda when I was eight.

Before I would go on trips, domestic and especially internationally, she’d nudge my leg under the dinner table and slip cash into my hand. I planned to go to Spain after graduate school and bought a ticket to visit there a few months before graduation. When I told her my decision she didn’t wince, or express fear like so many other people in my life. She just said, “Well, you’d better learn Spanish.”  I didn’t go to Spain that time because my grandfather had a (non-fatal) heart attack right before my scheduled trip. However, I did travel to 15 countries and have lived in some amazing places, including Maui and Honduras, and I’ve moved close to 15,000 miles since I was 18. I have taught at four higher education institutions and have had several businesses. This isn’t a “normal” behavior for girls who grew up in Etowah, Tennessee. I can’t imagine stepping into these experiences without having received her nudges to try new things and to follow what I wanted while growing up.

After she died, a relative told me that my Granny said to her, “You might as well do what you want to do; no one is going to do it for you.” She lived by this and encouraged others to do the same.

Most of us are fortunate to have at least one person who believed in us. Who is that person for you? And if this inspirational person could give you good advice or support about your current circumstances, what would they say?

What would you tell them you’d want to do? And, as another mentor of mine, Martha Beck, likes to ask: What is one “turtle step” you can take today in service of that vision?

Please share below about the person who inspired you and why.

Transformation never stops… it just cycles.

For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

– Cynthia Occelli

Manifest More Synchronicity in Your Daily Life

Aloe_polyphylla_spiralWhen I backpacked Europe after college and years later when I traveled all over Central America, I had the most amazing, miraculous, and synchronistic experiences.

I met someone at a hostel in France and then saw them walk by as I was napping in a park in Venice 2 weeks later. I completed days of travel with a newly-made traveling buddy from the Bronx. As soon as we parted, I met another person on the bus who I traveled with for the next 2 days who had a friend with a hotel in the next town I was headed to.

It was a sort of ‘travel-flow.’ How come that doesn’t work in day-to-day life?

What if it can?

I asked myself, what is it that I have when I’m traveling that I don’t have in my day-to-day life? I thought of a few things…lots of time with little or no schedule, relaxation, surrender, and an intention to have fun, explore and an openness to adventure.

What if cultivating more synchronicity in your life is as simple as the following ideas:

  • taking a different street than usual to a destination you commonly visit
  • instead of your usual mocha with no whip cream, try a chai
  • exercise at a different time of day or find a way to spice it up
  • respond differently than normal to a friend just to see what happens
  • meander randomly and see what you find
  • go early to an event and see who you’ll meet
  • insert your ideas here

When there’s spaciousness, you are opening opportunity for miraculous surprises. Enjoy!

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