Yesterday, my husband and I went to a party. A PARTY! After fourteen months at home, it felt so strange to dress up, pick up my purse, tell the kids to order Chipotle, and jump in the car. All the guests were fully vaccinated, and it was a small, outdoor Kentucky Derby party. But it still felt strange. And wonderful.
Someone there asked me what I do. Of course. Maybe one day I'll write another post about how I've forgotten how to do small talk, and I'm not sure I want to remember how. I might be done with small talk.
Anyway, after I explained that I'm a health coach and a life coach, he said, "So, you like, tell people what to eat and stuff?" I said, no, I don't put people on programs. I help people get clear on their goals and change their habits to reach those goals. I also mentioned that the vast majority of people who come to me for health coaching really end up here for life coaching. Which includes health, of course, but also so many other things. "Oh. So, helping people get their $h!t together?" Nope. Not that either. But at least we weren't doing small talk anymore.
And it did get me thinking. When you work with a coach, you're not being told what to do. You're being guided to open up to possibility. Your possibilities.
When I was in my early 30s, I was at my gynecologist's office, of all places, complaining to her about my job. I was there because my husband and I had recently decided to start a family. And somehow I ended up talking about how what I thought was important had changed. I didn't hate practicing law, but I felt a little like I was going through the motions. She said, "You know what you need? A life coach!" I was like, a WHAT?! That sounds ridiculous. Especially in 2002, when there weren't many coaches around. The industry, as you know, has since taken off.
Do I wish I had taken her advice? Maybe. But my wonderful life had a way of helping me along. Intuition kicked in when I needed it. I made mistakes. I made just as many wonderful choices. Plus, complex relationships, cancer, children, a global pandemic, for God's sake . . . these things all served me well in their own way.
So what's a coach? A coach is the person who will ask you questions to help you pause and hear your intuition. To open your heart. To be vulnerable. To set boundaries. To seek all the things your heart desires, while walking that delicious fine line between loving and caring for yourself, while loving and caring for your neighbor and your community. To drop the limiting beliefs and silence the vicious self-talk. To dream big and be present for the small.
It doesn't mean life won't bring you heartache and struggle. But you'll be able to face it, to lean on yourself and the people who love you, and to use those moments to build your big beautiful, messy life.
THANK YOU to everyone who attended the Spring Mini-Retreat yesterday! I have NEVER had every single person show up for an event. I usually have a 25 to 50 percent "no show" rate. (Actually, there was ONE person who couldn't make it because COVID vaccine side-effects knocked her down). I attribute it to my friend's wonderful movement guidance (and the snacks, mocktails & wine)! And perhaps some COVID fatigue and desire for community. And the incredible love and support of all of YOU. I hope that none of you felt uncomfortable with the size of the "crowd." There will be many workshops and retreats to come, of all shapes and sizes.
I wanted to share a story about my morning with you, in hopes that it will further illustrate some of what we were discussing about "perfect" mindfulness and also inviting beauty and creativity into your life.
As you know, I am a recovering lawyer. I'm also a recovering perfectionist. Life, marriage, children and health hiccups all work to cure us of perfectionism. It's a PROCESS I am trying to honor. After the retreat, my husband Tim and I dragged the most critical items in from the backyard and left everything else out there. While Tim grilled burgers, I made myself a dinner of the leftover snacks, poured a glass of wine, and rehashed . . . in my mind and out loud to my poor husband. "I hope everyone took SOMETHING away from the retreat. I should have budgeted more time to talk about XYZ. I wonder if anyone had a burning question they were afraid to ask. I hope no one was spooked by the fact that there were 24 of us out there." Etc. etc. I'm a bit of a ruminator and analyzer. I eventually settled down and climbed onto the couch to watch an episode of HANNA (total escapist fun, by the way).
This morning I woke up earlier than everyone else. It was wet and gray. I thanked God for saving the wet and gray until after the retreat. I made my coffee. Looked grumpily at the fish sticks and chocolate milk my teenagers left out in the middle of the night, mixed in with the party leftovers. I started that dialogue in my head, "It's messy. I can't relax until it's cleaned up. But I need to meditate. I have to walk the walk. I'm anxious. I need to practice what I preach. I shouldn't have had that mini Mr. Goodbar before I made my lemon water . . . ."
At some point, I poured my coffee and put on my rubber boots and headed out into my muddy overgrown backyard to drag chairs back to that funny little deck in the woods. Back in the day, I would have NEVER had anyone to my house without making sure everything was perfectly clean and the grass was cut. I gave myself a little mental high-five for letting go of that "rule" for having folks over. I started dragging chairs across the yard one at a time, sipping my coffee, slipping around a little in the mud. Finally I petered out. I sat down. And it hit me. I'm not going to move this chair. I'm going to leave flowers in a bottle, on a stump, in the backyard . . . even though that makes NO sense. ("There are already flowers out here. The tulips should be inside.") It was SUPER noisy where I was sitting because the bleeding hearts (which I just learned about) were FULL of bees, frantically working. The sun came out and was warm on my face. And then it was like a voice: THIS is where you pay attention, Nicole. I was present. I left something beautiful somewhere JUST because. And I paid attention. And just sat there and felt newly awake and present.
THAT is what I want for you. Drink your water. Breathe between bites. Have an evening routine that doesn't include your phone, so you'll sleep better. And yes, eat your veggies. BUT, also be opportunistic with your mindfulness. Allow yourself to see what's good. Pay attention. And shamelessly allow beauty and creativity into your life, whether it's a painting or a stump with a flower or a rearranged room or a flawless Powerpoint presentation. There are no rules or boundaries to a good life.
GET READY. It's coming. We are WAKING UP. Let's do it with intention. Not zero to 60. Let's take the lessons of the pandemic into our new normal.
This year's spring workshop will be a mini-retreat held outdoors in Oakton, Virginia on Saturday, April 10th from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM (rain date April 17th).
What can you expect? A retreat from perfectionism, self-doubt, busyness and fear. Yes, we're heading back to the office, school, music lessons, sports, social activities, family obligations and more. All things we've missed, but things that can also knock us off track when it comes to nurturing our health, relationships and well-being.
So let's take time to adopt some healthy habits, set goals, practice some mindfulness, do a little gentle strength & yoga work, snack on some nourishing foods (including something tasty from Cole's Moveable Feast) and taste some fun spring "mocktails" & organic wines.
All spots for the Mini-Retreat have been filled. Please contact me to be added to the waitlist.
REVIVE SUPERFOODS has amazing smoothie kits, soups and meals. I get twelve each month. The smoothies are cups of frozen, whole, plant foods like seeds, pea protein, veggies, fruits, cacao, hemp. No added sugar or fake stuff. You fill it with your favorite liquid (unsweetened organic soy milk for me), blend, put it back in your cup and pop in a straw. The soups are delicious, too. This solves the lunch problem for me ~ I often skip lunch or make poor choices because I'm busy, and I'm not much of a sandwich person. Give it a try, this offer gets you 55% of your first box!
Guess what? Wellness Feast is on TikTok! And it's pretty entertaining how bad I am, but I'm learning new tricks every day (thanks to my kids). The point is, that's where I'll share lots of recipes, healthy hacks, snacks and encouragement.
Y'all! I had the fabulous honor of chatting about food, wine, community, holidays, COVID and wellness with Bryan Gauthier, owner of the Oakton Wine Shop, on his podcast ~ all while enjoying his incredible cooking and some gorgeous wines! Give it a listen ~ and if you're local, be sure to throw on a mask and pop into the shop. I'm also including the links to two recipes I mention in the podcast: my favorite roasted veggie salad and Cole's Moveable Feast's famous pumpkin cheesecake pie in gingersnap crust with bourbon whip! Happy Thanksgiving!
I was a lawyer for the first decade of my working life, research is my drug of choice. If you're the same way, and you're heading to the bookstore after the doctor's office, here's a great place to start:
The Exercise Habit is the hardest one, right? So figure out what is going to make some kind of movement inevitable for you today. Some people are good at saying “I’m gonna get up and attend such and such class.” For me, it’s a matter of putting on my activewear (PS if you haven’t watched that YouTube video, watch it ASAP). Because then at least I’ll be embarrassed into working out at some point, when I run into yet another person who asks, “Oh, did you just come from the gym?” And be opportunistic. I have to take my son to a voice lesson today, so I’ll grab my screen-saturated daughter and hit the W&OD trail for 45 minutes while he’s there. Got an unfurnished room or two, like me? HeLLO, yoga studio! Just get going!