Tag Archives: motivation

Happy, happy New Year my dear friends!

I can’t quite figure out if I should spend some time here writing about the insanity of 2016 or if I should just ignore it and get on with the show. I mean, in all honestly, what does that horribly bizarre and traumatic year have to do with my work here?

Let’s be honest – probably a lot. Because if there’s anything we can learn from the strangeness of 2016 it’s that we don’t get a time out, we don’t get a do-over, and at the end of it all, we’ve got only one chance to live (hell, even Princess Leia didn’t get a free pass!).

What we do get is the opportunity to live each day from the heart and to spend time in reflection so that we can see the chances we’ve missed and then do a bit better the next time.

These are messages we can take to heart as we move into 2017.

I love New Years! While I’ll take the party and the champagne and the late night, it’s the next morning that really makes me swoon! When I see in front of me the clean slate of the New Year I cannot wait to get movin’. Brand new. Tabula rasa. Not even a tiny scratch.

It inspires me. It makes me giddy with the notion that, even though we can’t do the previous year over, we can put one foot forward to making this year better primed for learning and growth.

I’m not really much of a resolutions person, but I am very much a reflections and intentions person. In the transition from one year to the next, I like asking myself lots of questions. In fact, you can see some of my past New Year questions here, here and here.

This year I’m asking a lot more questions about how I can make a difference, spread love, fight for social justice and make a difference where it matters most (no matter where I happen to be living).

I’m asking myself more questions about how to better demonstrate love and acceptance. I’m reflecting more on how to live fully, how to learn more and how to create more time for fun and spiritual reflection.

I’m asking myself how best to continue to integrate my personal and professional life so that they’re not balanced ends of the scale, but dance partners adjusting to an unpredictable stage.

I feel super curious right now about each and every moment. This is another fallout from 2016, I think – when everything seems unpredictable, all you really can do is pay some serious attention.

While the questions are always evolving, my answers are guided by the 3 words that make up my personal mantra: Peace. Love. Family.

So far it feels really right. I have high hopes for 2017. I think you should too!

So again - Happy, Happy New Year to you! Thank you to those of you who’ve worked with me this year and to those who have supported World Tree Coaching!

If you're thinking of taking the coaching plunge - be sure to checkout my coaching programs here and my new discounted rates and sponsorship spots here.

I look forward to hearing from you in 2017!

 

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Yesterday I hosted a Global Entrepreneurship Week Women’s Networking Coffee. These Pop-Up  GEW Events are supported by the Mumpreneur’s Networking Club of the UK.

It was an incredible honor and a true pleasure to host 10 fabulous women in my home. Over coffee and cookies we supported each other, strategized and came together in the spirit of community.

The experience was remarkable for the wide range of offerings brought by the participants. While each individual represented different stages in the entrepreneurial process, the unique contributions of each participant created a deep sense of intellectual and creative movement. You could feel it in the room. It was inspiring! I was reminded, as I often am when sharing in conversation with smart, talented, thoughtful women, how affirming it is to connect in this way with others.

I feel confident that connections were made, projects inspired, meetings planned and inspirations sparked! I cannot wait to hear more about where these women go from here.

And, I am excited to share a little about each of them with you. All of the women are currently living in Tokyo, but many are open to working with people outside Tokyo and Japan.

Be sure to check out all they’re up to! Get in touch if you see someone you know would be a good collaborator, teacher, mentor or friend! And of course - don't forget to check out their services and products!

Nathalie Lim – A photographer. Website and Facebook.

Jennifer Shinkai –A facilitator and coach who helps people to create and communicate change in their professional lives. Jennifer also runs the Lean In Japan Creating Change Chapter and much of her work focuses on developing female leaders in Japan. Website, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Amanda Chehrezad – The creator of Finding Fair – a website bringing together thinkers looking at the question, “What is fair?”

Bridgette Clark - A business development professional and consultant. Find her on LinkedIn here.

Stephanie Corrigan – A Beauty Counter independent distributor. Website and Facebook.

Raquel Maia – A health coach and trainer. Website.

Eva Sol – painter and artist. Website.

Melanie Uematsu – Founder of Sewing Circle in Tokyo and fashion designer. Website.

Ann-Katrin Van schie – Yoga instructor and blogger at At Ease and More. She focuses on helping expats overcome the challenges of a nomadic lifestyle so that they may feel "at ease" again. Website and Facebook.

Angela Stewart – artist, designer and seamstress. More contact info coming soon.

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Think about all the times you had something you wanted to share and you held back. It could have been that small, but big-to-you victory. Maybe it was the bad day at work that came out of nowhere. Maybe it was the time you felt overwhelmed, lost, rejected…or completely thrilled with the path before you.

We do that, don’t we? Keep things in when we know they’d be so much better shared with and supported by someone else.

One of the biggest benefits of growing into the person you want to be, is accepting that talking it out with a friend is always, always one of the best places you can go to make sense of whatever it is you’re facing.

Talking out our troubles with friends doesn’t always erase our pain or free us from our challenges, but it gives us a completely new lens from which to see what’s there before us.

Sometimes this is harder for people who move around a lot. But, it doesn’t have to be. Deeper connection comes from taking the leap to share with others. As expats we’re often forced to dive into relationships very quickly. Rather than worrying about who we will scare off, I think we benefit from focusing on who we’ll grow closer to.

But there is no doubt it can be difficult. Even when we know the benefits of fully and honestly connecting, the hesitation we feel about reaching out and the old belief that we shouldn’t bother people with our problems (or brag about our successes) can be hard to overcome.

It occurs to me that sometimes all we need is the very first step and when it comes to talking it out with our friends – the very first step involves…well…talking.

It can be as simple as saying (or texting):

“Are you free to talk?”

“I’m celebrating! Join me for a drink?”

“Have a minute?”

“I could use an ear, are you free?”

“I’d love to bounce something off you, can I give you a call?”

“Are you free for coffee? I could really use a friend to talk to?”

“I don’t want to feel like I’m unloading on you, but I could really use someone to talk to. Are you free?”

Yes – that is actually just a list of words to get you started. It's totally something you could have come up with on your own. But – it is both not-rocket-science and totally overwhelming at times. Having that list up there is my way of reminding you that you already have the tools...you just gotta' use them. If you’ve been struggling to connect – take a minute to imagine what would happen if you committed to using one (just one) of these in the next few days.

Write down your favorite phrase. Use the ones above to plan out your own words to get you started. Practice in the mirror if you have to.

And then, whether it’s a major accomplishment or a tiny, little, barely-there frustration – go ahead and reach out.

You won't regret it!

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Today, with the clouds overhead and the slow drizzle that is another typhoon-season rainy day in Tokyo – I begin to crawl out from under the pile of boxes that has been my life since mid-June. I’m thanking my lucky stars!

Whew! This transition summer has been the most challenging I think I’ve ever faced. This was the first summer I found myself with no childcare, no long vacation away (although we did enjoy 4 nice days at the beach), and no real down time. We went from our home, to 6 weeks in a temporary apartment to now our final destination. I’m worn out….but I am so excited to be here!

And – I am ecstatic to get back into the swing of work. I cut back on just about every aspect of work-life over the summer and I miss it! I miss sitting down to write, I miss my workshops and I miss my group and individual clients terribly!

I’ve also learned so much.

For one – the idea that I could do all of this without childcare was…wrong! That’s a big lesson. Even as my kids get older I find that with lunches and snacks (which is a whole, crazy experience for us beyond the norm – read about that here), and negotiating screen time, and all of their little projects, and all the lovin’ it takes to support these sweethearts who have moved more times than your average adult – WOW! – it’s a lot.

I’ve also learned (again) that work is not optional for me. When I’m not engaging my creative side, when I’m not changing my pace and creating space for people to find their voices through the coaching process and when I’m not writing – I just don’t feel like me. My professional life is not a side-gig. When I set it to the side, I feel the profound and nagging sense of having misplaced my keys or forgotten to turn off the stove.

And, on top of it all, I’ve been reminded of how much learning just goes on and on and on. Sometimes we have an opportunity to gain new knowledge about the way we work, live and love. And at other times, we’re simply being reminded of lessons we’ve learned in the past. That, in my mind, is the most rewarding way to live – never thinking it’s all wrapped up, but rather a series of tiny wrappings and unwrappings every day. And let me tell you – wrapped or unwrapped – I am happy to be out from under all these boxes!

So – let’s get this back-to-work party started! Join me for one of my upcoming workshops, groups or individual coaching opportunities! Click HERE for details.

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Happy New Year from World Tree Coaching! As I find myself today coming out from the isolation of having been home with my kids for almost three weeks, I realize I’ve got a bit of catching up to do.

Actually, I was realizing that all along. Only now that I sit down in front of my computer and take the steps to get organized do I realize what all that entails.

While I’ve been pretty quiet on the blogging front these past couple of weeks, I have been thinking a lot about the New Year and what this time of year means to most of us. Even if you’re not a resolution-maker, there’s something about the New Year that forces us to examine the past and look ahead to the future.

Right now all over the internet you’re going to see post after post telling you exactly how to create your resolutions, keep your resolutions, fine-tune your resolutions, pick the best resolutions….and even some that will tell you to ditch resolutions all together. So much telling!

In light of so much telling, I'm going to try not to get too tell-y or preach-y here. But, I would love the opportunity to remind you that genuinely reflecting on who and where you are is a good thing. In fact, whether you’re really a resolution-maker or not, probably one of the best things you can do for yourself in 2015 is take a nice long look in the mirror and get up close and personal with the person looking back at you.

So in the spirit of curiosity and inquiry (not telling), I'm just gonna' pose a few questions...

Is it possible that all you really need to get started on 2015 is to love yourself a bit more?

What would happen if you were to stop putting yourself down, comparing yourself to others and wishing things were different than the way they really are?

What if, even though there are things you’d like to do differently, you told yourself that you’re really enough just as you are?

Imagine confronting life’s challenges (spoiler alert: there’s no escaping the hard times) knowing that yes, you are really doing all you can.

And, what if, after taking more time to know and be yourself, all that other stuff you’re adding to the resolution list seemed so much clearer?

And what if all this wasn’t just silly, cheesy, random fluff?

It’d be pretty amazing, wouldn’t it?

Throughout 2015, my goal will be to continue helping people rediscover that they’re enough…more than enough really. I want my clients, my friends and my family members to know that their challenges and their strengths work in tandem to create a fully capable and loving person. Confession: I even want to keep reminding myself of that.

So, Happy New Year from World Tree Coaching. May your year be filled with plenty of time to be you. And, in being you, may you find the clarity, hope, love and fun you’ve been searching for.

I’m currently scheduling clients for February and March. If you’d like to work with me in 2015 - click here to learn more.

So here’s something that I didn’t expect to happen today. And no, it’s not the British woman talking to the vegetables at Whole Foods (“Which one of you lovelies is going home with me today? Huh?”) or the fact that a rock from a weed whacker flew up and shattered the glass to our patio door (looks oddly beautiful in the way it’s falling, piece by piece, minute by minute to the ground).

The unexpected turn of events started out like this: I began the day feeling a bit gloomy. I had advertised some great new coaching rates earlier in the week and I didn’t get the client boost that I was hoping for. I’ve been working on putting together a group coaching program that will work with The Expat Activity Book, but I was having a case of, “Is anyone really going to want to do this?” And then I found myself scrolling through Facebook instead of actually focusing in and getting down to work. “Enough of this,” I thought.

So, in an effort to kick myself into gear I decided to write my own coach and tell her the areas where I thought I might need some support. I thought, “I’ll tell her the things that aren’t happening and make a plan for how to set my goals into motion.” This, by the way, is a great way to maximize a coaching relationship. Coaches LOVE hearing how their clients are going to make things happen and part of a coach’s job is to hold his or her clients accountable so sending an email like this to your coach will always shake things up. BUT - that's not the Kick in the Pants Tip you've been waiting for...so keep reading.

Anyway, ever a glass-half-full type of person, I decided to scrounge together some successes to start off my email. Coaches like that too, by the way. They REALLY like it when you take credit for the awesome things you’ve done…even if you feel like you’re scrounging to find them.

But, here was the cool thing! Once I started writing the successes – the new client I just contracted with, the copies of The Expat Activity Book I sold, the positive feedback I’ve gotten for my blog via Facebook and Twitter I kind of felt like, “Hey! That’s not too bad!” You’d think I’d be a bit more familiar with this sort of thing, being a coach and all, but like anybody, sometimes I lose sight of the hard work I’ve put in and what the positive outcomes have been. Then I felt like I was on a bit of a roll. I began to think about lots of things I’ve been doing in the past month to take care of myself and my family. I felt my energy and my spirits lift almost instantly.

This all might sound a bit boastful, but it’s not meant to be. What it’s meant to be is a reminder to take some time to really honor yourself for the amazing things you do every day. Want a simple task to help you focus in on your accomplishments? Make a list of them! It’s that easy! You’ll be amazed at the way it positively impacts your confidence AND gives you new energy to focus in on the things that may be holding you back. So go ahead and get started. Grab a piece of paper and just start listing. And when you're done, take a look at it and say, "Wow. You might just be pretty awesome."

Here’s a question I’ve been thinking about lately – Do we sabotage our success at certain things by purposefully limiting our enthusiasm, our curiosity or our genuine interest? I’m thinking specifically about things like greater happiness, better diet, improved exercise or expanded faith or spirituality – although I’m sure there are others.

This has been on my mind for two reasons:

First, the topic came up in a class I’m taking. It’s an online class on the Science of Happiness and is being offered through the Berkeley Greater Good Science Center. In the first week of the course, in addition to learning about the scientific research behind what makes people happy, we were encouraged to take up a week-long happiness project. The task was based on the benefits of gratitude and we were asked to write down each day, for a week, 3 good things that happened each day. As part of the instructions we were told that we would likely benefit more from the activity if we set aside any notion of it being “hokey” or “woo woo” and really got into it.

The other reason is this - I’m a pretty enthusiastic person. I get excited about things. Even things about which I’m skeptical or unsure, I’ve found I’ve always been able to rein that in a bit and remember to just go forward with a positive mindset. Recently, I expressed to my mom my thrill in finding a babysitter that would be a perfect fit for us. Her response? “Well, don’t get your hopes up.” “What?! What’s wrong with hopes up?” I thought. I mean, I’m well aware that it might not work out, but when good things happen, I kind of like to enjoy that feeling.

So, back to the sabotage. Social worker, researcher and author, Brené Brown, (kind of) covers this in her book The Gifts of Imperfection (although she doesn’t use the word sabotage). She writes,

We hustle for our worthiness by slipping on the emotional and behavioral straitjacket of cool and posturing as the tragically hip and the terminally “better than.” Being “in control” isn’t always about the desire to manipulate situations, but often it’s about the need to manage perception. We want to be able to control what other people think about us so that we can feel good enough.

She’s talking about this in the context of the ways in which shame gets in the way of what she calls wholehearted living. Regardless of why we do this, I think it’s safe to say that we do. I believe that most people are naturally curious, generous, loving, and open to possibility. But, our fear of failure, of looking stupid or even looking too smart, too goody-goody, too emotional or too cheesy makes us hold back – especially when we’re trying something new.

This is an especially challenging issue for expats, because we’re ALWAYS in new situations and faced with a decision to go for it 100% or to hold back and see how things go. And here’s where my question lies. If we were to stop holding back, would we be more successful at living our transitions in ways that are more true to ourselves? I really think so. But, what if opening up to your natural curiosity and inner-enthusiast doesn’t come easily for you? I’ve listed a few starter ideas below. Go ahead and give them a try.

  1. Find an enthusiasm buddy. Know someone that seems to get excited about things? Tell them about a change you’re wanting to make, a new activity you’re hoping to try or a dream you’re ready to pursue and see if he or she will cheer you on.
  2. Try it out in private. Love to sing, but feel self-conscious? Listen – that’s what the shower and the car are for…right? Take advantage of privacy to get comfortable with your enthusiasm. Working on giving it your all when you don't have an audience, can free you up to let that enthusiasm trickle out to other places.
  3. Get enthusiastic about the little things. Found a dollar bill in your pocket? Yay!! Did you manage to get the kids out of the house with only one small meltdown (yours or theirs – doesn’t matter)? Yee-haw!! You rock! No accomplishment is too small for you to celebrate when you’re working on an enthusiasm boost.
  4. Celebrate someone else’s success. Sometimes being enthusiastic for other people can be easier than admitting to ourselves that we’ve got something to be excited about. This doesn’t need to be fancy. Simply saying, “Wow! Good for you!” can be enough. If you can manage to cultivate excitement and interest in someone else’s accomplishments, you’re teaching yourself how to get excited about what you have in store.
  5. Write down 3 things you love and totally, absolutely and completely admit it. Personally, I think there are few things more attractive in a person than someone who can admit that they love something that’s traditionally seen as nerdy, uncool, strange or silly. And my husband grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons so you can trust me on this one.

Still curious? Wanna’ boost your natural enthusiast? Check out my FREE pdf of this activity on accessing your curiosity from The Expat Activity Book. It's sure to help you focus in on raising your enthusiasm and might just help you find success in a new endeavor!

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My greatest stressor in the first week in a new country? Hunger. I find the combination of either having no food or having had someone I barely know attempt to stock my pantry to be incredibly overwhelming. And knowing I’ll soon have to walk into a strange supermarket and purchase unfamiliar products with prices that mean nothing in a language I barely speak all while my stomach rumbles is more than enough to bring my stress levels to almost unbearable levels.

And then on top of the hunger is the exhaustion. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more tired than I did the morning we arrived in Paris for a three-day layover, halfway to our new home in Madagascar, with a 2 month old, a 4 year old, a 6 year old and a 100 pound dog (that almost didn’t make the flight). I lived for days in a fog that wavered between dream and nightmare.

Oh, and then there’s the loneliness. I make friends pretty easily and with time have learned to lay my heart on the line…better to be heartbroken when we part than never to have spent those long mornings over coffee getting to know a new friend. But even for an extrovert, there’s the sorting and negotiating of new friendships that takes time. In those first few days or weeks in a new place, my single most persistent thought is, “Why have we done this again?” I don’t think I’m alone.

And after all of the hunger and exhaustion and loneliness, a kind of underlying grumbling can start to bubble to the surface. I don’t anger easily, but that’s a choice. And, it’s a choice laid in the foundation of the pep talks my husband and I do before a major transition. The night before we head out, bags packed, children settling down to sleep, we tell each other, “We’re in this together. We’re a team. We’re each doing our best with a very difficult and stressful situation. We will think before we speak. We’ll use nice words.” It works…almost always.

For us expats, these feelings are all just another part of our unique normal. But recently, I came across an acronym that I’d never heard before. It’s called H.A.L.T. and it really, really spoke to me. It’s a reminder for how to keep yourself in check when you’re facing extreme stress.

The gist of it is this – in times of extreme stress ask yourself, “Am I……”

Hungry?

Angry?

Lonely?

Tired?

If the answer to any one of these is yes, take care of that problem first before you act or make any major decisions. Okay, so sometimes it might be easier said than done, but I like it as a bit of a twist on the traditional “count to 10” recommendation. I like it because, in the expat life, it’s so completely and utterly dead-on. We don’t just experience these situations, our lifestyle causes these situations! I like it because I feel it’s the type of thing you can plan for in advance. I like the idea of writing down each condition in bold letters on a piece of paper and brainstorming how I could handle each one. Because, if you know that (1) each of these things is going to happen and (2) you’ve prepared for how to deal with them in advance, you’re much, much more likely to be able to handle all of the stress that comes with moving.

But you know, the thing I love most about looking at the H.A.L.T. model for stress management is that every single person on the planet has been hungry, angry, lonely or tired at some point in his or her life. The great gift at looking at these conditions as stress contributors is that, firstly, we can all relate to these states of being and, secondly, we’re free to personalize our responses to them. There’s a great gift in the fact that they’re both universal and highly adaptable. They represent a freedom to plan for your stressors in a very concrete and predictable way.

So next time you’re experiencing a big transition or find yourself overwhelmed by stress, ask yourself how you’ll halt and then take the next steps towards finding a more positive way to get through. I think you’ll find dealing with being hungry, angry, lonely or tired first, goes a really long way towards sanity.

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This week I accomplished a major goal I had set for myself back in September. I completed the Coach U Core Essentials Coach Training Program and logged the necessary coaching hours to graduate. It felt really good to have set a goal for myself and have completed it – especially given the major life changes my family and I were handling in the middle of it all. I patted myself on the back. I carefully and fully marked through the lines on my agenda that said, “Take final exam” and “submit graduation paperwork.” Then, I got on with the rest of the week.

On Wednesday I met with my mentor. At first I forgot to even mention that I had graduated. When I did finally remember to tell her, she said, “And what did you do to celebrate?” Celebrate? Ummm…well…nothing. And then I got to thinking – I don’t really celebrate much at all. Actually, let’s put it this way – I live more or less in a constant mode of celebration. I do celebrate life and all of its ups and downs every single day. I take time to stop and smell the roses. I spend time doing things I love. I make time for things like pedicures and massages and date nights with my husband.

But, when it comes to celebration for the sake of celebration – I just don’t do it and now I think it’s time I started. It seems to me that celebration is more multifaceted than I first envisioned. I’m a dedicated celebrator of the accomplishments of my kids, my clients, my husband, my friends, my family and life in general. I think what my coach was getting at when she asked me about my celebration habits was more about drawing out an even deeper layer of richness to life and, perhaps even more importantly, making those experiences a part of my everyday mindset. In other words, living life to the fullest is great (and constitutes a form of celebration), but perhaps I’ve neglected to build on that.

My coach’s suggestion was to make a Celebration Menu complete with appetizers (which I think could be small, little celebrations), entrees (heftier, more substantial celebratory activities) and desserts (maybe the most indulgent of celebrations). I love this idea! I love it as way to really stretch my brain to expand the notion of celebration. I like the idea of including things I’ve said for years I want to do and rewarding hard work with pure fun, joy or soulfulness.

So, I’m including my Celebration Menu below. Now, I’m curious – what would yours include?

APPETIZERS

Get a pedicure at a nice spa instead of the place down the road that does a good job, but plays soap operas on the TV and smells like polish remover.

Get an afternoon coffee and sit and read at the coffee shop.

Buy $10 worth of cute office supplies (I’m obsessed with office supplies…and they’re a tax write off)

Take the kids to Dairy Queen to share in the celebration.

ENTREES

Go on a fancy date night – not a typical jeans and t-shirt date night.

Invite a few friends out for drinks and dinner – my treat!

Take a hip-hop dance class.

Go shopping by myself.

Spend an entire day with my husband, walking and talking.

Take all day to do an art or sewing project – uninterrupted by work or children.

DESSERTS

Attend a 2 or 3-day meditation retreat.

Spend $50-$100 on something really special that I would love to have, but would not normally buy.

See a play.

Go to a concert.

Today I watched my 6 year-old walk across the stage at his Kindergarten graduation. He’s the same kid who almost died four months ago. The same kid who played one day with his friends and then left almost everything he loves, with no prior warning, to get on a small plane to a hospital in a country he’d never been to. The same kid who gets four shots a day and anywhere between six and twelve (or even sometimes more) finger sticks over the course of each and every 24 hours.

And, he’s the same kid that is a natural with anything that requires running or jumping or sliding or involves a ball. He’s the kid who can now read, add single digit numbers with no fingers (usually) and tell you what items on your plate contain carbohydrates. He’s the kid with the killer blue eyes, the mischievous, pure-love smile, and the blonder than blond, still baby-fine hair. He’s the one who’s grown over an inch since January. He wears either (and only) soccer cleats or cowboy boots…always. He’s the one who loves hugs and babies and super heroes.

He’s nothing short of incredible – when the going’s easy and when the going’s just plain tough.

Not to exaggerate here, but really, aren’t we all? I don’t know about you, but I look at my children, my husband, my family and my many friends in all of the corners of the globe and I think – these people are Amazing!

While it may seem that sometimes (or lots of times) we arrive at every major milestone rather easily, the truth is – it takes a lot to get here. It takes a lot to get wherever you are. Whether you’re dodging bullets or vomit, climbing mountains or stumbling over Legos – if it feels easy, it’s easy because you’re good at it, you hold your head up and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. If it feels difficult, it’s difficult because you’re human and sometimes life throws us some really nasty stuff. We all fall on both ends of this spectrum – the person who sails through and the person who gets thrown off course.

Let’s remember this for ourselves and for the people who surround us. Take some time today to say, “Close call! Good job! Way to hang in there!” or “Wow, you’re getting good at this! Hard work’s paying off! Nicely done!” No judgment, just love, for all the dedication it takes to get here.