Thankful For All That Will Be


In this week of giving thanks, we can all stipulate that gratitude is good for you.* We are bombarded with those messages, especially now.

Here’s a new way to look at an overused word and put it to work. When a worry pops in, send your gratitude to take care of it like Tony Soprano.

I’ll tell you what I mean.

My three teenagers, like young people everywhere, live in perpetual uncertainty.  This one is sending out applications, that one is procrastinating, the other one is running her own life until we get a late night call. As their mom, I could work myself up into a lather.


Because I have spent so much time allowing worry to dominate my thoughts, that is my default setting. The good news is that I have found a way to stop the cycle: notice when it’s happening and then mindfully choose something that feels better.**

Now when a scary “what if” slides in, I project it on the IMAX screen in my head, visualize the scene unfolding perfectly, in great detail, concluding with smiling faces. I actually feel the excitement and gratitude of everything working out.

Sidebar for the skeptics. You might wonder how it’s possible to flip a legit worry into an imaginary good outcome. First, worry isn’t right about how things will turn out. In fact, worry is A LIAR. It believes everything will go badly when it has just as good a chance to go well.**

Also. Worry makes us feel like we are doing something about the problem. Like if we just devote X amount of time to hand-wringing, we are giving that important thing attention. It is a false sense of productivity. Don’t fall for it. Worry just makes life miserable because we are choosing to live in the feelings of an undesirable future.

Plus, fretting over loved ones DOES NOT HELP THEM. You are actually making it so they cannot come to you for support because you have snatched up their experience and thrown it into your own worry furnace. They need untroubled space. Your bad vibes are not that.


Choosing to imagine the best case scenario is actually easier than you might think. If your thoughts are causing you to feel terrible, you CAN choose another thought. It’s simple brain science. When you choose differently, neuroplasticity allows your brain to reorganize to anticipate positive experiences. You reinforce new neural pathways that will eventually become automatic processes. Playing the reel of best possible results pumps dopamine into the brain’s chemical pathways. It creates the feeling state of everything working out just as we would like.

To stop defaulting to the worry loop, you have to practice. I have a calendar reminder every day at 3:30 pm. Whatever worries I have, I take a few minutes to visualize a good result and to feel happy and grateful for it. I don’t do it all the time, but when I do practice, it feels like a full energy cleanse. 

I have proof the practice is working. Our family traveled for the holiday this week. Unlike our usual, we arrived at the airport behind schedule. The backup of cars to the parking lot announced you will miss this flight if you don’t find another solution. I visualized all of us, happy and peaceful, boarding the plane with smiles. The thought calmed my nervous system. Then the VALET sign caught my attention. I googled Ft. Lauderdale airport Valet, called them up and found out that the price we would pay for parking versus valet was negligible. We tossed the attendant the keys and arrived at the gate with plenty of time.


This method works for emergencies, for worries about others, and for my own future as well. Not too far in the distance, my kids will all be off in their own lives. Instead of handwringing about the empty nest, I see this happening:

It is early morning. I tiptoe out to the deck of a beautiful mountain home with my journal and a mug of peppermint tea. The cool air chills my face, carrying with it the sharp scent of juniper berries and sage. Under a soft blanket, I settle in to write and enjoy the sun peeking over the Sangre de Cristo mountains. A day of coaching, writing and learning are the only items on my schedule. I relax into the certainty that everyone I love is safe and happy.

Living in the feelings of this moment gives me a dopamine hit that lasts for hours. And I already own a temperature controlled tea mug that will stay hot in the brisk mountain climate.


So, the choice is yours: waiting and worrying or treasuring your amazing future? I choose to be grateful for all the beautiful things I have coming.

Remember, where focus goes, energy flows. Your brain will get busy sorting all the information for your beautiful life, as long as you are doing the work to get there.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week!



WRITING PROMPT: What are you manifesting? Can you convert worry to treasuring the future? What does it look like?

*Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. As if that wasn’t enough, a gratitude practice reduces cortisol, makes you more resilient to emotional setbacks and negative experiences. Feeling grateful releases oxytocin, reducing inflammation and lowers blood pressure. It literally rewires the brain to deal with the present with more awareness. 

**Caveat: worry is one thing, an anxiety disorder is another. You can tell the difference because changing your thoughts, as I am suggesting here, will not work for that. The only way to know is to practice it and see what happens. If anxiety persists, it might be time to check in with a licensed mental health professional.

***This assumes the work has been done to make a good outcome possible. There is no sitting on your duff and relying on magical thinking.

Ready to start doing some work on yourself? Email me to schedule a free Discovery Session at Curious about coaching? Learn more at And if you are family or a friend, I have an amazing coaching community ready to partner with you.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on and subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!


Finding Your Formula For Flow And Fun



Do you observe the way other people work then compare and despair?

I do.

My husband can put his nose in a stack of depositions and not look up until he grows stubble.

I, on the other hand, can draft an onboarding contract, spot a bird at the feeder and suddenly I am refreshing their water, watching them squabble over the middle spot, and looking up the Blue Jay’s totem symbol. FYI they are ever-vigilant investigators and like to dabble in a lot of things, gathering tidbits of information as they go. #relatable

Distractions such as this can be managed by discovering our own unique flow and learning about our natural energy cycles.

1. How Do You Take Action?

Knowing this about yourself is key. The Kolbe A Index* doesn’t measure intelligence or personality but rather, it reveals the ways in which you approach a problem when you are free to do it your own way, i.e., your conative style.


The data determines where you are in the four action modes: fact finder, follow through, quick start and implementor.

I am a natural fact finder which means at the macro level, I am at my best researching and comparing data. That is why digging into a problem for my Friday Stories lights me up. Same with coaching. I am endlessly curious about what makes people tick. Asking powerful questions helps my clients solve their own problems and it’s awesome to witness.

At the micro level, understanding my style has allowed me to structure my day with a mix of coaching, writing and learning.

For both individuals and teams, I highly recommend taking this assessment. It affirmed that I have special gifts to offer the world in my own particular way.

2. Does Your Schedule Maximize Natural Productivity?

In this society, we are conditioned to believe that if we don’t push ourselves to the limit and maybe even past it, we are doomed. The problem with this plan is that we are humans, not robots.

Good news: we can reject this default setting and learn how to follow the body’s natural energy cycles, i.e. our ultradian rhythms. It is like flowing with the river’s current rather than swimming upstream like a very determined salmon. We are not salmon.


What the heck are ultradian rhythms? They are short biological cycles of the human body that occur within a 24-hour period. Research shows that if you spend around 90 minutes focusing deeply on a task and then rest for 20 minutes, you will work more effectively and efficiently.

Free self-assessments are available to help you discover how your own cycles work within that general time-frame.**

Before I knew any of this, I’d multitask the day away. Doing all the things can lower your productivity by as much as 80%.

When I do the 90/20 day, I am able to focus longer because I know I have a break coming. This means less time spent distracted. It is a far more self-compassionate, efficient practice.

3. What’s Fun Got To Do With It?

Ultradian rhythms tell us that humans need periodic breaks. Fitting some regular FUN in there will make time for the magic. Following the natural cycles of work and play, creates space for unexpected synchronicities.

How’s that? In moments of play and fun, you are feeding your SOUL and raising your vibration. This acts as a magnet for all good things. Want some of that? I definitely do.

Like many of us, I got the idea that play and fun were frivolous time wasters. Starting pretty early, academic excellence eclipsed all else. Over time, pursuing goals consumed most of my mental space. I have subconsciously reserved fun for when all the work is done. When I am finally ENOUGH. 


The problem with this theory is that we are programmed to think it’s never enough. And if we aren’t practicing joy in ordinary moments, we have a hard time doing it at all, even when we do make the space.

Fun is a practice and the time to master it is NOW.

Also. Humans MUST take breaks regardless of whether we provide for them in our schedules. So instead of fun, we default to distraction (see mindless scrolling).

Is this really what we want from our one wild and precious life?

Just as we stand to gain so much by following our own personal action styles and natural rhythms, we must also honor rituals of rest and joy and reunion. We are heading into the holiday season. It is time to recognize a plateau of production and schedule the enjoyment of life already.

Are you confused about what it means to have fun anymore?

It is a distinctly modern dilemma that many (most?) of us have totally forgotten what fun even is. In our culture, we spend a lot of time thinking about the things that bother us but not much on what brings us joy.

Crazy, right?

Also valid. We live in the upside down world with a horrendous 24 hour news cycle of which I have opted out for my mental health. My own privileged news diet notwithstanding, I needed a re-education when it comes to fun.


Author Catherine Price has studied FUN and how to recognize it and cultivate it regularly.

According to Price, genuine fun has three key elements: play, connection and flow.

PLAY: you only have fun when you are being playful and lighthearted. When you feel free.  Doing it just for doing it and not caring about the outcome. Fun has no sense of obligation.

CONNECTION: fun is a special shared experience, unusually connected to your physical environment like nature, or with the particular activity, or even your own body. You could be connecting with another person. You are joined together but you also feel totally yourself. Laughing with someone else is exactly THIS.

FLOW: you are fully engaged in the present experience. You lose track of time with no self-consciousness or judgment. You get lost but you are grounded in the present moment.

Fun is a life-giving force. It generates energy and that is what we live on, simple as that. A life without fun grinds us into dust.


If trying to figure out how to have fun feels like pressure, a simple, lighter place to begin is delight. Simply finding a moment of delight takes no effort, only attention. Sharing it with someone who gets your joke will tap into playful connected flow.

By doing this, you are training your brain to find it and bring more of it into your life. It’s stoking the fire of high vibes and it works. I think I’m going to call my skating friend and plan a playdate.



What will derail all these wonderful efforts? Allowing ourselves to default into distraction. Instead of blocking off time to cut loose, we waste the time on an energy drain. Let’s not live in default mode. Intentionality is the only thing that gets us to where we want to go.

When we honor our natural gifts and rhythms and make time for joy and fun, we get the sense that it’s all going to be okay.



WRITING PROMPT:  What were three experiences from your past that stood out as true fun? What would you LIKE to do for fun now?

Ready to start doing some work on yourself? Email me to schedule a free Discovery Session at Curious about coaching? Learn more at And if you are family or a friend, I have an amazing coaching community ready to partner with you.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.comand subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!






What Part Of You Is Stuck?


Many of us have an area of life that desperately needs improvement. But for some mysterious reason, we remain stuck, just wishing we could break through like the Koolaid guy.

This week, I busted down an internal brick wall of my own and it felt like a huge victory. I’ll share what did it in hopes that it will help you get unstuck yourself.

Admin work causes me despair. Onboarding, bookkeeping, and—most irritating of all—tech issues with my website make me feel like #Luhu the cat.


Putting it all off bothers me, but what’s worse is the judgment I layer on top of feeling immobilized. Why do I do this?

The only way to figure out the problem is to replace judgment with curiosity. To become interested in learning what lies beneath the pattern.

“Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries.”
-Carl Jung

In my method of coaching, curiosity takes the lead. Liz Kinsella, a fantastic Martha Beck-trained coach, volunteered to do some digging.

She asked if we could talk to the part of me who resists this odious work.*

I close my eyes and an image of my First Grade self appears in  my mind’s eye. She is playing in her childhood friend Kristi’s backyard. It’s after dark and she doesn’t want to go home. She glances back at adult me like, “ugh, leave me alone.” She throws the ball back to Kristi and ignores me.



Liz asks why my First Grade self hates this stuff so much. 

My little self doesn’t want to talk to me and continues to play with her friend. So I read her thoughts instead. She feels like a little adult, worrying about way too many grown up things. This has caused her to feel sad and tired. She just wants to be a kid. Whenever she becomes aware of yet another adult task, she feels overwhelmed.  

Liz wants to know what my First Grade Self needs from adult me.

She doesn’t want to be in charge of anything. She plays at Kristi’s after dark because she doesn’t want to go home. She feels too much adult responsibility there. She wants to have fun.

As I feel what it is like for her, I cry her weary tears. I tell her she doesn’t have to take care of any more grown up work.

Liz asks where she’d like to go to have fun.




She remembers an afternoon at Roosevelt Park with her three siblings and how free she felt rolling down the grassy hills. I take her back to that wide-open green space, thank her for her hard work and give her a hug beneath the massive oaks. I assure her that I am here to take care of the adult business from now on. She seems relieved. Lighter. Ready to stop worrying and just play.

Later that afternoon, I notice the following:

When I think about all the pending admin, panic does not flair up inside me. First Grade me is now off the hook—she is at the park. I feel more integrated and less reactive.

As I wait in the car for my older son to finish an appointment, I call Godaddy to straighten out my domain issue. I purchased the site on September 5 and mysteriously I am still not the owner. I have called, emailed, and Live Chatted many hours away. I ended all conversations before reaching any resolution, requesting a confirming email that it is done. No such email has arrived.

This time, I stay on the phone. We discuss ICANN policy for transferring domains, security blocks and authorization codes. The conversation continues for the ride home and lasts throughout Taco Tuesday prep. I chop steak and toast shells listening to the dulcet tones of tinny “on hold” music. My blood does not boil. My breath is even, my nervous system is calm. 



I make a list of technical instructions to provide the current domain owner in Reykjavik through an encrypted email to initiate the third domain push. I request a follow-up ticket.

I thank the agent and say good bye. I eat tacos.

The next morning on my run, I dial Godaddy and opt for no “on hold” music while I enjoy my run listening to silence. I send love to the whole Godaddy organization on the other end for completing the transaction. I feel gratitude in advance.

At 9:51:37 a.m., I receive a notification that I own the domain and it has been transferred to my existing Godaddy account. I quietly rejoice.

I now understand why it’s been such a challenge to acquire this website for my coaching business. One of the central tenants of this work is “live it to give it.” Sounds dorky but this was necessary work I needed to do for myself in order to facilitate growth in others. Overcoming internal barriers to get what we want is the whole flippin thing.

The day after I figured out my own block, a client spoke about her inner procrastinator who was getting in the way of her goals. That much younger part of her is now off enjoying herself too, allowing the adult version to get some work done.

When we honor all parts of ourselves, especially the ones who are stuck and unseen, we get the sense that it’s all going to be okay.



Writing Prompt: What are you resisting? What can you get curious about instead of judging? What lesson might you need to learn? How can the adult you take charge of the situation?

*This method, called Internal Family Systems, allows you to “stay in Self,”— the part of you that is always steady, not affected by trauma or cultural conditioning—to develop a relationship with each of your parts, and heal them. The key is that the healing comes from you. This means you can do IFS with a coach, a therapist or even on your own. For more info check out:

Ready to start doing some work on yourself? Email me to schedule a complimentary Discovery Session at Curious about coaching? Learn more at And if you are family or a friend, I have an amazing coaching community ready to partner with you.




Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on and subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!




Six Steps Ahead Of The Not Enoughness



If the Joy of The Season™ washes over you in a cascade of bubbly gaiety, no need to read any further. For the rest, chances are, you are the designated merry-makers of your family or social circle. If you are merry-maker adjacent, I invite you to learn the ingredients of holiday sausage-making.

It begins with an undercurrent of panic that crackles beneath the days of us party throwers. At this point in the calendar, you may be thinking, “one down, three to go.” Not so festive.

There’s a reason for that. The entire production is on us and our efforts never feel like enough. We aren’t making this up in our heads. Confirmation from both culture and family comes through loud and clear: you can always do more. And do it better.

It is all but guaranteed that many of us will field complaints from the very people who do little if anything in return. And there is no one to blame. We have all been conditioned to do exactly this.

So, my ever hopeful, tireless merry-makers, let’s talk. I’m here to suggest something different for all of us this year.

Let’s unlearn the not-enoughness.

Understanding its origins is the key to surgically removing it from who you are. Not feeling enough doesn’t come from your paltry efforts. YOU DO PLENTY. How do I know? Because society has convinced you that your worth absolutely depends on it, so you do it.

This creeping crud has seeped into every inch of our lives. NOT ENOUGH is the battle cry of a system that has us believing our fulfillment lies somewhere out there and we will find it, wrap it and present it to our loved ones.


Not a bad haul for Jewish kids

No doubt you have your own collection of stories that illustrate the point. Here’s one of my many:

When my kids were little, I joined the PTA as a Room Mom.* The children of those mothers shone in a spotlight like tiny celebrities. I wanted that warm glow for my kids, so I volunteered.

I was terrible at it. The waste drove me bananas. I argued with the other mothers to scale it back. I pushed for eco-friendly reusable plates, cutlery and decor. Also recycling. At a private pre-school in Miami, this unpopular MO came to a head in an altercation so epic, one dad recorded it.

Until the boiling point, however, I sat my bewildered frog self in the steaming pot. During one party planning session, negotiations with another mom broke down. She felt the pre-school Christmas party should have a theme: gingerbread houses. The cost of her admittedly adorable decor would exceed the classroom budget by hundreds. We would need to re-purchase all supplies.

“But the reusable plates are green,” I argued. “Isn’t Christmas the theme for Christmas?”

“We have to make it special for the kids,” she insisted with a tight smile.

When I disagreed, she rallied the other mothers and won.

When all the songs had been sung and children shuffled out the door to play, the beautiful plates sat stacked in an enormous gray garbage can, smeared with holiday treats barely touched. The mothers cleaned up in silence.

Volunteering in this capacity was not who I was then or now. My continued attempts suggested just how lost in a stormy sea of my own not-enoughness I had been.

The version of me who tries to be someone I am not for the benefit of others is more self-aware these days but the insidious feeling lingers on. To get ahead of NOT ENOUGH, this is what I am telling myself:

  1. Your worth is not measured by how much you do for others. You were born worthy of love.
  1. You are doing the best you can. We all are.
  1. You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness.
  1. Beware the Energy Leakage,** i.e. putting forth more energy than you get back. If what you are doing leaves you feeling resentful or trapped, that is a sign to ask this critical question, “what can WE create together?” Maybe have a family meeting.
  1. Think for a second about how your body will feel doing your usual holiday prep. If it is energized and excited, mazel tov! If it is daunted and snoozy, it’s time to scale it back until you get a Whole Body Yes.
  1. If you carry negative energy into your celebrations, you might assume no one notices. Guess what. Negative energy is MATTER. It is a real thing and everyone can feel it. Any action we take in negativity transmits straight into our loved ones. That goes for food prep as well. It’s the exact opposite of what we want. So let’s not.

Okay team, we can do this.

As for our family, we have chosen to do holidays differently this year. My Mother-in-Law is a fabulous cook and always willing to host us at her home in North Carolina. The generosity it takes to welcome five people with varying dietary restrictions for four days? Worth the price of holiday airfare for five. She makes the best oyster stuffing around. And this year she has promised to do it gluten-free.

Hang in there, friends. When you take a moment to acknowledge how your efforts feel and to spread the work around, you leave room for REAL joy instead of the store-bought Joy™.

WRITING PROMPT: What can you re-negotiate this year? How can you get a Full Body Yes from your holidays? Who are you asking the question, “what can we create TOGETHER?”

*Let’s not kid ourselves by calling this position Room Parent. Find me a Dad who will throw parties for other people’s children. How about for HIS OWN children? Oh, wait. My friend Annie’s husband Dave is one. There may be more of this endangered species of Dad, I don’t know. Please advise. In any event, this special unicorn dad is lauded like he cured cancer. The moms? Standard practice, no thanks required. This tiresome programming needs to change.

** Melissa Urban’s brilliant book makes a great gift for all the exhausted merry-makers in your life.


Ready to start doing some work on yourself? Email me to schedule a free Discovery Session at Curious about coaching? Learn more at And if you are family or a friend, I have an amazing coaching community ready to partner with you.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.comand subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!



The Magical Pre-Boundary


Ever hear of a pre-boundary? It can make setting an actual boundary unnecessary. Amazing, right? It starts with this premise:

“We always exist at choice.”
-Master Coach Natalie K. Miller*

You may doubt that we have a choice in all situations. Here in Florida, it’s the tail end of hurricane season. Just a few miles North, folks would definitely not have chosen for Hurricane Ian to cut through their neighborhood.

But even in the moments when circumstances are beyond our control, you still have the opportunity to ask, how will I show up in this moment? That is always up to us.

To get ahead of the metaphorical storms that swoop in every day, you can set a pre-boundary. The idea is that we are always co-creating our lives with the people around us. If we aren’t getting what we want, we are making the choice to settle for it.

A pre-boundary will help you create the life you want instead of marinating in the disappointment of someone else’s idea of what you deserve. It’s becoming the driver instead of sitting in the backseat. Are we full up on metaphors? Okay. Let’s try it.

You start by asking these two questions about the situation. Maybe even look in the mirror and ask yourself directly:

What do I want?

What do I need?

Sidebar to the women out there. How did it feel when you asked yourself these questions? If your insides registered a little fear, that tracks. ALL our cultural messaging discourages us from looking inward. We are trained to be validated on the outside only. Society rewards women for meeting the needs of others. We’ve been trained not to want too much food, too much time, too much fulfillment. Our world is far more comfortable with women as compliant servers.


But we would all like to live better, right? And there is no way to do that without discovering what we want and going after our heart’s desire. So, let’s unlearn the conditioning.

Now that you have (hopefully) determined what you actually want and need, you are ready to set a pre-boundary by telling the other person what you prefer. In doing so, you offer them the option to choose it with you. It isn’t an attempt to control but rather, an invitation for the other person to opt-in to a more inclusive, respectful, and mutually beneficial life for you both.

I’ll give you an example of the pre-boundary I set this week—it was so exciting.

First, a bit of context:

My husband Mark is in go mode working sixteen hour days. His jury trial is set for two weeks but he’s already been prepping for most of the month. Meanwhile, we have my son’s birthday and daughter’s parent weekend at college where we will meet her adorable boyfriend AND his family at a special dinner. Without Mark.

Being in trial is rough but as my friend Faby once said, “it’s better than being on trial, amiright?” And just so you understand our joint mentality about it, the world could burn down around the courthouse, but the lawyers inside shall not be disturbed. Absolute focus is required.

As a former litigator, I have lived the credo. When the kids were little, we tested the outer limits of this philosophy. Once during a six week trial of Mark’s out of town, all three came down with gastroenteritis. Nothing could be held down on either end. To get us mobilized, I fashioned barf bags out of lunch sacks and plastic bread bags. A babysitter helped me carry them all in to the pediatrician for a shot of Zofran to stop the barf volcano. Scary times.

My middle son looked so frail that I recall entertaining these actual thoughts:

What if he doesn’t make it? 

What would be worse, Mark being distracted or not saying goodbye to his son? 

True to form, I didn’t say a word to Mark. Luckily, we all pulled through.

So that’s our trial attitude. Sh!t happens (literally) and I run triage until further notice.

Now that the kids are older, disappearing for a bit only means that Mark has limited knowledge about what is going on in our lives. He is unavailable for shared responsibilities of shopping, dinner prep and managing kids on the weekends. Not a big deal. Of course, we miss him.

One remaining shared task—morning carpool—had survived the trial calendar. Our boys are at two different schools with back to back start times. It’s not impossible for one person to do both trips but it demands full cooperation of both traffic and boys. The glitch is that on most days, one of those kids requires his own motivational speaker. For that reason, a one person drop-off sucks.

Trial started Monday. That night before bed, I texted Mark to confirm there would be no surprises the next day.

Surprise. He would be providing no rides to school.


An opportunity to set a pre-boundary! Out on my run the next morning, I sent this text asking that when Mark becomes aware of the inability to meet his obligation, that he reach out to our friends to arrange a ride. Then I registered an ick about mentioning our son. As if my own need to have a calm morning wasn’t reason enough. 

So I took a minute to remind myself of the following:

  1. It is okay for me to want a partner who thinks of me when he discovers his schedule may negatively affect me.
  1. It is okay for me to need to know I am a priority to the person with whom I have built a life and family.

When I got home, Mark was loading his briefcase in the trunk to leave.

“When the judge changed the schedule, I didn’t think to tell you. Your text made me wonder what I would have done if I had been a single parent,” he said.

I answered that if I could go back, I would have omitted the part about our son. And that it is okay for me to want a partner who thinks of me and then does something to spare me unnecessary hardship. It felt great.

Another bonus of the pre-boundary is emotional self-regulation. Without this request, I would have ruminated on how Mark hadn’t considered me. With no other way to process it, I would have lobbed a grenade at some point later. Nobody needs that.

This was not easy. But that is me up at the top in the pink, after it all went down, unusually happy, on my two kid drop-off. Why? Because I became the person who asks for what she wants regardless of the outcome. I invited Mark into a way of being with each other that benefits us both. And that belongs to me forever.

Because setting actual boundaries is a whole thing, tons of ink has been spilled and podcasts recorded on the subject. Here is an awesome one that came out just yesterday. Take a listen.

Here’s some other great news. Mark’s case settled just in time for him to join the family in LA and we take off this morning. YAY!

When you check in with yourself about what you want and need and then ask for it, you get the sense that it’s all going to be okay.



WRITING PROMPT: Where in your life can you state your preferences and to whom? Have you asked yourself what you want? What about what you need? How does that feel?

*This brilliance comes from a life-changing workshop I recently took with Martha Beck Master Coach Natalie K. Miller, an instructor in my certification training who I have been following ever since. She is super witchy–the GOOD kind–so ’tis the season for MORE of her. You can sign up for a free weekly newsletter at, follow her on IG @msnataliemiller, listen to her Mind Witchery podcast, apply to join her group—aptly named Cauldron— or seek her out for 1:1 coaching, retreats and more. She brings the MAGIC.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on and subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!

Ready to start doing some work on yourself? Email me to schedule a free Discovery Session at Curious about coaching? Learn more at And if you are family or a friend, I have an amazing coaching community ready to partner with you.



Validation For Dummies

This is me headed to a 50’s costume party.

For twenty years I sat on the overstuffed leather sofa in a pricey psychoanalyst’s office wondering how to be happy. I assumed it was to become someone else entirely.

Dr. Waddington didn’t ask what I actually wanted for my life. Instead, he jumped straight into how I could be better for other people. That would do. When his suggestions didn’t appeal to me, he offered words of encouragement like, “just fake it ’til you make it.”


That didn’t feel great. I might have received a better ROI if this guy had supplied the one thing you take for granted in a therapeutic setting:


Unless someone modeled this for you at some point, you may not really understand what it is. I just learned it in a class last week.*


Validation is acknowledging that another person’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors have causes and are therefore understandable. It is finding the kernel of truth in another person’s perspective. The end result is that you have allowed that other person to be fully human. Just like you.

If you totally disagree with them, how does that work? (Are you thinking about politics—I am.)

First, it isn’t about agreeing with their seemingly wrongheaded ideas. Validation removes the pressure to prove who is right. That reduces negative reactions. By showing we have taken the time to recognize where the other person is coming from even if we disagree, it improves our relationship. We have demonstrated that they matter to us regardless. It makes closeness possible. In sum, it is a more peaceful, more human way to relate.

If you aren’t agreeing with them, then what are you validating?

The person’s experience. Their emotions, beliefs, opinions, or thoughts. Their suffering. You don’t have to agree with them to validate that they have a different life than you do.

Why is this so important?

We all have a right to exist exactly as we are. And we all want connection. That other person needs you to let go of your own ego for a second and just BE with them. If not, it devolves. When someone finds herself in an invalidating social environment, it can be very difficult to regulate emotions.

I can vouch for this. When I feel strongly about something and don’t feel heard, my head feels like it’s going to explode.

When people do not allow you to have your perspective, the message comes in loud and clear that they don’t care—your feelings are weird, wrong or bad. As a result, you feel invisible. It’s the worst. Why would you want to have that effect on another human being?

This sounds hard. I thought you said it was validation for dummies.

Ok, fine, I will flesh it out better. Here is the key to being able to validate literally anyone.

According to Dialectical Theory, everything in the universe contains the seeds of its opposite. In Chinese Philosophy it is the concept of Yin and Yang. In Western Philosophy it’s the idea that the world is ever-changing. Creative and destructive forces are both constantly in motion.

Neat. What does that mean in practical terms? 

Two things that seem like opposites can be true. Here’s a list:

You can want to change AND you are doing the best you can.

You can be independent AND want help. (You can allow someone else to be independent AND also give them help.)

You can want to be alone AND also want to connect with others.

You can share some things AND want to keep some things private.

You can be with others AND be lonely.

You can be a misfit in one group AND fit perfectly in another.

You can accept yourself the way you are AND still want to change.

You may have a valid reason for believing what you believe AND you may still be wrong or incorrect.

Someone may have valid reasons for wanting something from you AND you may have valid reasons for saying no.

Because of this ongoing paradox, we must constantly balance opposites like these:

Accepting reality AND working to change it.

Validating yourself and others AND acknowledging errors.

Working AND resting.

Doing things you need to do AND doing things you want to do.

Working on improving yourself AND accepting yourself exactly as you are.

Problem solving AND problem acceptance.

Emotional regulation AND emotion acceptance.

Mastering something on your own AND asking for help.

Independence AND dependence.

Openness AND privacy.

Two truths! The idea that all truth is paradox helped me better understand how to be there for someone without feeling compromised myself. It is natural for others to hold an opposite truth and IT’S OKAY. It’s how this all works. Our differences make this big ole world go round and it’s actually beautiful.

Also. This insight landed as a relief in my role as a parent. I can be present to my kids’ perspective instead of focusing on bringing them around to my point of view. They actually hate that. I love that I can abandon this relationship-damaging communication style. Even twenty years into parenting. Better late than never, right? (Smh.)

I will give you an example of something that came up the other night that demo’s this two truths theory in practice.

We share technology quite a bit in our house. My husband Mark was on Facetime with one child and another was conducting a Google search on a connected device in the next room. The eye-popping search terms suddenly appeared on Mark’s computer screen. Needless to say, the subject was NOT something that child would have wanted his dad to know he was sitting around wondering about. It was a perfectly normal topic of curiosity but that kid would be totally mortified if the whole family were in on his private thoughts. Just a guess.

So, what are the two truths? 

  1. The internet is chock full of information we want to shield our kids from—we are responsible to monitor everything they are consuming.
  2. Children need to be allowed to have their own inner world without their parents making themselves privy to every stray thought.

And in case you are in the camp of, ‘I really do need to know my child’s every move for their own good,’ there is supporting science that we have an epidemic of kids who do not feel any real agency in their lives. This could be causing a cascade of mental health crises. The theory is that it stems from being micromanaged every minute of every day by a well-meaning adult.

This opposing truth isn’t popular among us 2022 parents. Nonetheless, there are important considerations to keep in mind. Autonomy is essential for developing what psychologists call an “internal locus of control” — the sense that your choices and actions affect your life, that they matter — and that’s exactly what today’s young people lack.

So. Two truths! Leaving young people alone is a surprisingly radical idea. Remember how we were allowed to think our private thoughts and come home when it got dark?

Ya but we didn’t grow up in this crazy world with so many more dangers.

Let’s look a little deeper into that one too.

wouldn’t hurt to wear a helmet for the morning wheelies ijs

Bottom line, validation and finding the middle path is essential to being our full selves while cultivating a healthy bond.

When none of us has to be right AND we can all be right, everyone feels understood. When we all feel like we matter, we get the sense that it’s all going to be okay.



WRITING PROMPT: What are some opposing truths in your life? Are you comfortable in conversations where you disagree? How do you handle those interactions? How do you feel afterwards? Can you give up the need to be right?

Ready to start doing some work on yourself? Email me to schedule a free Discovery Session at Curious about coaching? Learn more at And if you are family or a friend, I have an amazing coaching community ready to partner with you.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on and subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!

*Mark and I are taking a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills class with the best DBT therapist in town and a group of parents. Yes, we have a kid in college and two more close behind. But we will be parents for a lifetime so it’s worth the TWENTY FOUR flippin weeks!


It’s Okay To Say No

How often do you say yes without even considering no?

It is so culturally ingrained to give an automatic yes that we often do not even notice when we DON’T WANT to do the thing at all.

Noticing what happens in my body when yes is really no has helped me find the no: a sinking feeling in my chest, an anxious jump in my solar plexus when I imagine actually doing the thing. After I experience those physical sensations, I have even pulled the plug a few times. I can count that de facto no on one hand.

What’s the big deal about doing things for other people that might benefit them so much so more than it will bother you?

I’ll tell you. When we ignore our inner voice, we silence the part of us that knows what we want and need. Not just, I prefer herbal tea over coffee. Critical stuff like this relationship isn’t right for me or this is unwanted touch or this stranger is dangerous. Access to this innate information is deeply important to our wellbeing. When we ignore that voice about the little stuff, it doesn’t speak up anymore about the big stuff.

Saying no is a way to take mental, physical, and emotional care of ourselves.

I speak from experience on the perils of ignoring that inner voice. Throughout my life, I dismissed the whispered directions to my true path. To this day I am realizing things about myself that I paid no attention to for decades. Tapping into that inborn wisdom is the only way to have a WHOLE and happy life.

If you also have difficulty saying no, there is no need to beat yourself up about it. That part of you has been working incredibly hard to do everything for everyone all the time. This is our cultural training and it runs DEEP. The only thing the relentless worker inside you needs is gratitude for all that labor and to be allowed to rest.* There is no rush to heal. You don’t have to be perfect at that too.

So, how do we do it? Since I struggle with this as well, I look to the pros. When someone asks Martha Beck, Oprah’s Life Coach (and the one who trained me), to do something, her answer is, “let me check.” She isn’t consulting a calendar. I mean, afterwards she probably does, but initially she is checking in with herself. Does the idea of saying yes create a feeling of expansion or contraction? Expansion is a yes. Contraction is a no. The body has access to so much more information than our verbal mind. Pro and con lists don’t begin to cover it.  

Once a friend of Martha’s got upset with her when she did this. She asked why. The friend said, “because you had to check.” The only folks who have a problem with you setting healthy boundaries for yourself are the ones who have benefited from you having none. I heard that somewhere and it’s definitely been true for me. If people truly value YOU, they would want you to take care of yourself, right? 

And speaking of Oprah, she considered it a revelation that she could decide for herself how she spent her time and energy. She didn’t learn how to say no until the age of 42! Unlearning an automatic yes began when she asked herself what her intention was behind her yes. If it was I don’t want this person to be mad at me, she said no. A genuine YES came from her heart. And it changed her life.**

And speaking of life-changing, Tricia Hersey, author of Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto, teaches the importance of pushing back against Grind Culture: “I say no to 90% of what is asked of me. I don’t overbook my calendar. If I do that it would not allow space for mystery, curiosity and for the sacredness of what COULD happen in those spaces. I want to say yes to things I really feel a YES about.”

Resting and taking time out—there is information for us in those spaces. To slow down is to allow the portal inside to open to create a better world for everyone. Running ourselves ragged prevents us from realizing our true potential.

So. When a friend says no, try honoring that no. There is a good chance it was extremely difficult for her to say it in the first place.

And P.S. if you feel resentful receiving a no, ask yourself this. Who are you really mad at? Could it be you for not having the courage to say no when you didn’t want to do a thing? Your friend didn’t break the code when she refused your request. She took care of herself because if she doesn’t, no one else will. To say no, especially as a woman in this culture, is a radical act.

So try saying yes only when you feel it in your heart. You will like your life a whole lot better and make space for others to do the same.

When you honor your real needs by listening to your inner voice, you get the sense that it’s all going to be okay.



WRITING PROMPT: What happens to your body when you say yes when it’s really a no? How do you feel about yourself when you say no? Who do you say yes to more often, other people or yourself? Does saying no effect your self-esteem?

*The 10/13/22 podcast We Can Do Hard Things covers the violent history of Grind Culture and how critical it is to our collective liberation to allow ourselves to rest. Check it out. It is revolutionary.

**Oprah has a daily reminder sitting right on her desk to honor her own no.

Curious about coaching? Learn more at Email me to schedule a free Discovery Session at And if you are family or a friend, I have an amazing coaching community ready to partner with you.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.comand subscribe today.  And if you like, come find me on the socials: on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!



A Path Through The Messy Middle

A few minutes into my morning run, familiar signs of stress crept in. Inside my cheeks felt ragged from teeth grinding, the night’s sleep interrupted.

The body will always tell you how you are doing.

In our house, it’s application season. The real work, however, has nothing to do with the online forms. The details are not my story to tell, but the urge to do it my way, on my timetable, definitely is.

I’m having a hard time stepping back and allowing my child to mobilize. Or not. If you feel pulled to solve problems for your nears and dears, I see you, my friend.

Yesterday, a trusted observer said, “you are the only one doing the work, Elizabeth.”

I blanched at the truth of that. It’s not my style to rob my kid of agency. Once upon a time, this same kid rode his bike to elementary school alone. In our town, that level of independence is practically unheard of. Ever since Covid, however, I’ve indulged in the mad urge to swoop in and take over. It is undoubtedly parenting malpractice.

If you’ve tuned into these Friday Stories for a while, you know they begin with a problem and usually end with a tidy solution. Not this time.

Welcome to the messy middle.

Why am I inviting you into a problem with no end in sight?

A few reasons. First, everyone deals with hard stuff. Often, we handle it alone, no matter how willing our support system.




If you are like me and prefer your story to end like a renovation reveal, I feel you. Maybe you’ll debrief your people when it’s over, just to keep folks in the loop. I am lucky to always have a story to write or a coach to call up. My vulnerability is safely contained.

Sharing face to face with an actual person is far more difficult.

So, why do we keep the messy bits to ourselves? We justify our silence with some version of the following:

Everyone struggles with something— why bother discussing it? 

I don’t want to look like a disaster to other people. 

Support is for the weak. 

I don’t need anyone to solve my problems.

No one really cares.

People don’t know how to listen.

At one time or another, I have believed every one of these painful thoughts. And you’re right, not every little thing is meant to be shared. But that last one about listening? That one happens to be true.

But letting others in for the big stuff actually matters. We share to be seen, not fixed. When you reveal your truth, you get to be your whole self with someone else. That vulnerability creates human connection, there’s just no way around it.

Finding someone who can listen deeply is tricky though. Most of us aren’t—it’s not a skill any of us was taught in school. Algebra? A must. Listening to another human being: useless.

If you’re short on good listeners, I have a tip for you. Become a really good listener yourself. The universe is one big ole boomerang.

The best tutorial on the art of listening comes from Untamed author Glennon Doyle. She demonstrates what not to do. I have been a few versions of this terrible listener. And I’ve been “listened to” in those ineffective ways too. The shover, the comparer, the fixer—not listening.

Do your friends and family a favor and watch this:  

As a coach, I am now trained to listen. Admittedly, I do better in a coaching session than in conversation. Old habits die hard.

So. Back to the original dilemma. How am I going to step back from trying to solve my kid’s problems? How do any of us resist the urge to fix what doesn’t belong to us?

I’ll start by acknowledging what this is really about. For me to stand by and allow him to feel the painful consequences of his own mistakes is excruciating. I imagine it sucks for most parents.

The truth is, taking the pain away really isn’t about saving my kid. It is about saving myself from the pain of watching my child suffer. But by robbing him of a difficult growth experience, he misses out on the lesson the pain showed up to teach. The deeper truth is that I have actually saved him from nothing. I have only deferred his pain into the future, possibly creating a worse problem with higher stakes later in his life. And that sucks WAY worse for him.*  




So how do I stop the madness? There are a few possibilities which I am just going to have to experiment with because I’m not sure.

I can try being a comfort instead of a fixer.** I can be there, steady and present to his experience, as best I can, instead of hijacking the whole business for myself. I can hold my own space, like an oak tree in a storm.




When I start to feel anxious and pulled in to rescue, I can step away and feel those difficult feelings about witnessing the struggle. Maybe seek support of my own.

That’s all I got.

So. Have I convinced you to share your messy middle with a trusted friend? Or to start by being that good listener for someone else? I hope so. I’m going to give it a whirl myself. After all, authentic connection is what makes us feel like it’s all going to be okay.



WRITING PROMPT: What big truth is right there waiting for you to discover? Do you have someone to share it with? A good listener, perhaps? Are you a good listener?

*This is also about something else which I didn’t realize until I this Friday Story had already gone out. We also clean up the mess because we worry about what other people think of us just standing by and watching it happen. We imagine their thought bubble, what were the parents thinking? That is such a given I didn’t even think to mention it.

**This insight came from someone I coached. This is the magic of coaching! The sessions are co-created so there are gold nuggets for all in every session. Ready to start doing some work on yourself? Email me to schedule a free Discovery Session at Curious about coaching? Learn more at  And if you are family or a friend, I have an amazing coaching community ready to partner with you.

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on elizabethheise.comand subscribe. And if you are so inclined, forward to a friend. You can also come find me on the socials: on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!



You Are Every Age You’ve Ever Been


You Are Every Age You’ve Ever Been

At my thirty-fifth high school reunion, I lived this theory all weekend. Reuniting with the amazing people I grew up around brought the girl I used to be out to party. It felt like we all became those same giggly goofballs who wanted to spend lots of time together, catch up on what we had missed, and reminisce about the crazy stuff we did back in eighties. Like teenagers anywhere, we all just wanted to be young and wild and free.

That spunky former self of mine wasn’t the only one who showed up. Like our adult selves, the younger versions are also complicated.

At the big event on Saturday night, the angsty, insecure version of me popped in too–during a chat with a boy I had liked. That “boy” is 53. Back then, it was pretty clear I didn’t mean much to him. No shade intended, it was me who sent the message that it was cool, I’d stick around regardless. The confident adult I am now felt a stab of pity for that needy girl.  


It may sound odd, but quick access to those old feelings says something. Those vulnerable parts are still there, unresolved. And they need attention—particularly around their fears.  If we never revisit them, they just hang around, feeling angsty in perpetuity. Ideally, we want to feel fully integrated and whole but that takes some work.

A bit of self-compassion for our tender inner selves helps to realign so that we don’t end up making decisions or acting out from those unresolved selves. Instead, we want to lead from our steady core when we face challenges. We would all prefer to operate from the calm, clear, confident, curious, connected, compassionate, courageous, and creative Self who isn’t rattled by anything. Every one of us has that Essential Self. If you aren’t in touch with that part of you so much, this work is calling out to you. (See below for a detailed explanation.*)

It’s called Internal Family Systems, i.e., “parts work” and it can be done by yourself, in therapy or with a coach. I did it myself and demo-ed this valuable tool in a prior Friday Story.** When you feel a strong emotional reaction to something and the need to act out, that’s a signal for you to take a look inside.  


For me, that same self-conscious girl pops in when I am in a crowd of friends and clams up. She felt intimidated as a relative newcomer to this group of high school friends with long standing friendships, many since junior high and even elementary school.

So, in service to that sixteen year old who goes to every party with me, I will address her concerns. I have figured some things out as an adult which it seems like she may need to know. Maybe at the next party, she can relax a little and perhaps feel a wee bit less self-conscious.

Here goes:


  1. You think you need to change so much about yourself, but guess what? All you need to do is accept yourself exactly as you are. Once you love yourself better, you will take better care of yourself. It comes naturally. That is what we do for people we love. You will eat well, exercise, hydrate, and take time for yourself because it feels good. Not because you have to. That includes the people you allow access to you. They will be the ones who deserve you.
  1. You believe it’s better to hide the messy parts of you so that people don’t reject you. It’s a big NO to that one too. When you share your truth, people can relate. The more personal, the more universal. When you have the courage to show up exactly as you are, it creates space out in the world for others to do it too.


don’t worry, I’m fine, this is an old photo 🙂

  1. Your young mind believed all you had to be was thin, pretty and rich to be happy. LOL! That was just the culture trying to sell you stuff (looking at you, Cosmo.) Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s fun to be all of those things but that’s not the recipe for happiness. All these years later, I know super rich folks who are miserable, and thin, beautiful, people who are painfully insecure. It means jack squat. Happy is an inside job. And if you aren’t working on your inner life, it’s bloody impossible.
  1. You thought setting limits would alienate others and that boundaries are for people who don’t want relationships. That you should go along with everything just to keep others around. In truth, having no boundaries is only for people who want bad relationships. That bit of intel came back to me like a sack of hammers when I thought about my little sixteen year old self with a raging case of mommy AND daddy issues. SHEESH. That girl was so desperate for attention, it hurts to even thinking about it. Good job not getting yourself in more trouble back then, little miss.


  1. Friendship. Despite lots of friends, you felt like a lone wolf. You always assumed it was because you didn’t quite fit in. All this time later, it’s clear that you have difficulty in big groups and sometimes get overwhelmed. It’s a sensitivity thing. You worry about saying too much or too little. Your heart sinks at the thought that you won’t have any meaningful conversations and it will all be for naught. Know that there are always opportunities to connect. I found many this weekend and it was amazing. My old friends are the absolute coolest people ever. And I no longer have qualms going off alone to take care of myself. I no longer worry what anyone will think. Several of us acknowledged that we get overloaded and need space to recharge. I did that a few times—took a long run in the crisp Fall weather, meditated regularly, and followed a schedule that worked for me. And felt fine about it. Actually, I worried a little, tbh, but I did it. A few of us discussed how great it is to finally be okay taking care of ourselves. Progress, eh?
  1. You weren’t the only one struggling back then or now. You may have felt self conscious about how nuts your home life was but the truth of it is, everyone had hard times. Some we didn’t have a clue about until now. Abuse, alcoholism, neglect, you name it. And most of us kept it to ourselves. How great to be able to share what we went through from the safety of adulthood. How unfortunate that the kids we used to be just white-knuckled their way through it alone. Hug a teenager today. Tell them it’s going to be okay. They are carrying the weight of the world.


  1. You had the right idea about dancing it out. Angsty energy does need OUT of your body. Back then, you practiced and performed with your squad and took your show on the road with a fake ID and a buddy (love you Larue!) to go dance at a club whenever you could. Movement is an extremely effective spiritual and emotional detox. Not to mention, great for your physical health—a total reset of the nervous system. Animals do this all the time. If you watch the nature channel, two animals have a brawl, then run away, stop and shake it off. Quick way to start over. In high school, you were so smart to do it regularly. Good job.


  1. It is totally normal to feel insecure. It’s part of the human condition to want to belong and to feel like you really don’t. By nature, we are social creatures searching for connection, common ground, and acceptance. We all feel a little misunderstood. When we feel bad like that, it’s a sign that it’s not true. Truth feels free and expansive. We all belong to each other. Everyone is struggling with something. Assume that is true for everyone and you start from a place of love and compassion—for yourself and everyone else. Only good can come of that. And THAT, my friend, is the truth.
  1. Don’t worry about doing everything right and rushing to “get somewhere in life.” You are never too late on your own path. There is no finish line. If you follow your truth, it will unfold exactly as it is meant to and it will be beautiful.
  1. You’ve got this. Now go get ‘em tiger.

What can you tell the insecure teenager inside of you? She’s still in there. I know. I hung out with mine all weekend.



P.S. Lots of love to the class of ’87. You all are the absolute best.

* This is an awesome tutorial on Internal Family Systems and why it’s so valuable:

** This is my demo piece on IFS from a couple years ago.

*Curious about coaching?  I offer one on one coaching using the Wayfinder model designed by Martha Beck. If you would like to find out if this work is right for you, email me to schedule a Discovery Session. And if you are family or a friend, I have a wonderful coaching community who are ready to partner with you. Learn more at

For more on the Self we want to be in charge of our decision making, check out:

Do my weekly stories come to your inbox? If not, you are invited to sign up. Click on and subscribe today. And if you like, come find me on the socials: on Instagram and @heiseelizabeth1 on Twitter. Happy reading!



Judge Me All You Want

Being judged is the worst. When it’s happening to us, there is a palpable energy to it—both leaden and jarring. When we take that in, we feel wretched.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t let it end there. After I marinate in the judger’s icky vibes, I turn the hose on them and judge right back. At nearly 53, it’s not a good look.

Judgmental roots run deep in my family. The OG was Nana—my father’s mother. Nana and my mom could not have been more different.

As a posh Jewish wife from New York City, Nana did not get Mom’s whole earth mother thing.

My mother was Nana’s polar opposite: an independent Californian who set about marriage and family with a full on DIY philosophy. My parents left San Francisco to raise their kids in a half built adobe in remote New Mexico. Mom taught herself to bake bread, make yoghurt, whip butter, and even tried her hand at gardening. When my brother had trouble with cow’s milk, Mom bought a goat. Twice a day, she sat on a little stool and milked Buttons for Matt’s bottle.


When my grandparents came to visit, Mom aimed to please. My parents even slept on the floor so Nana and Grandpa could have the only king sized bed. They got the royal treatment, including when Mom was pregnant.

Nana said very little. Except when it came to my mother’s appearance. She warned that my Dad would look elsewhere if Mom didn’t drop the baby weight. When Mom slimmed down, Nana was concerned other men would woo her away.

Beyond the premium she placed on looks, it was hard to tell what Nana really thought about anything. Her husband made the rules and she followed them without question.

During a trip out to introduce my then boyfriend Mark to Nana, I got a glimpse into what it must have been like to be her. After Grandpa died, she kept the same silent vigil around her new husband Lee. Despite her continued restraint, Nana looked happy.

“He doesn’t care about my weight,” she said with a smile. I was glad she could finally relax, but it made me sad that it seemed to be the only way in which she had permission to be herself.

All this time later, these little vignettes of Nana land differently. She was doing her best to fit into the tiny box where society had stuffed women of her generation. She endeavored to do right by being a slim, pretty, obedient wife for her husband. That’s it.

As I write, it strikes me that Nana must have felt very little agency in her own life. She was beholden to her husband in all things. Down to her ability to satiate her own physical hunger. I cannot imagine.

With a bit of compassion, I might have recognized that her judgment came from a place of concern for her son’s marriage. She worried about being rejected herself if she didn’t look a certain way. And she fretted over Mom for the same reasons. Was it right? I don’t think so but nobody asked me. It was none of my business then or now.

Looking back, it’s obvious to me that I am guilty of assuming the worst about Nana—that when she critiqued my mother, she was being snooty and shallow. I have behaved the same way that has bothered me so much when I’ve been on the receiving end of it.

So. What is my takeaway from digging down to the roots of my family judgment? It may sound bizarre, but I am going to try my hand at welcoming the judgment of others.

Why on earth would you want to do that? 

Because judging someone else for judging me just makes me feel worse. That’s a sign that what I am thinking isn’t true.* Telling someone else how they should operate, even if it is for my own self preservation, is still the fruit of the poisonous tree. I don’t have to own what anyone else thinks of me.

When I offer that grace to those who judge me, I also offer it to myself. I’ve engaged in a lifetime of unsolicited advice and judgment. The behavior originated from the same place as Nana’s—worrying about how other people are doing their life and trying to make it better. When they didn’t ask me. I have both Nana and my mother inside me.

We all just want to be seen and loved for who we are, not the version someone else would prefer. So. Before you tell someone how they should be, think about that. Be curious about what they might really want for themselves. Maybe even ask.

Okay, that is all. Happy Friday.



WRITING PROMPT: (I missed calling these writing prompts so it’s back!) What happens to you when you are feeling judgmental? Are you feeling anxiety over someone else’s choices? What helps you break the cycle?

*The Buddha said that you will know enlightenment because it always tastes of freedom, just as you know the ocean because it tastes of salt. This implies that I achieve enlightenment every time I can flow with the process of life, without feeling triggered or reactive in any way.

I offer one on one coaching using the Wayfinder Coaching model designed by Martha Beck. If you would like to find out if this work is right for you, email me to schedule a Discovery Session at And if you are family or a friend, I have a wonderful coaching community who are ready to partner with you.

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