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Holy Crackers, ya’ll. I did it.

April 20, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

It’s a little anticlimactic but there’s been no one moment of “VICTORY IS MINE!” Instead, there have been lots of little moments of accomplishment. When I bought an airplane ticket last November. When I booked my AirBNB in January 1 this year (an auspicious start if ever there was one). Of course, these moments are interspersed with times of “well, crap there’s a housing crisis in Dublin” and “I can only stay 90 days in Ireland, what do I do the rest of the time?”

The goal was 6-9 months abroad. I knew 9 would really be pushing it. I figured if I said 6-9 I’d be more likely to make it to 6 months. I wanted the full time to be in Ireland but as I looked for ways around the tourist stamp with a 90-day maximum, I found Scotland to be a fortuitous alternative.

Mom and I fell in love with beautiful Edinburgh 2 years ago.

(Not so) Little Victories

Landing in Dublin on a sunny day, having a pleasant cab ride to my AirBNB, and meeting my wonderful hosts felt more monumental than if this were a vacation. It was making a reality of a 3-year-old goal. And it meant discovering my home (for a little while).

But of course this victory was only temporary. I had three weeks in my AirBNB to find a place to stay for two months thereafter. So began the apartment (of flat) search.

Whee, I found one!

There is a well-publicized housing crisis in Dublin, with rents DOUBLING in the last 7 years. Tax incentives have brought Facebook, Microsoft, Dell, Google, and more to make Dublin their European headquarters or at least a major office location. So finding a room could have been a serious stumbling block.

Turns out I’m a perfect fit for a house full of med students, with a couple of them heading home for two months between their exams and starting internships. Their a friendly lot, with one American in the bunch.

So, what’s the point?

I can’t believe things have gone so well and I am so lucky. But I do believe that you create your own luck. I believe in smart bets.

I know not everything will go smoothly on this trip. But hopefully preparation will put me in a good place to deal with challenges as they come. I believe growth happens outside your comfort zone, which includes dealing with it when things go wrong.

But until they do, I’m sticking with this feeling- Holy crackers ya’ll. I did it!

Jet Lag & Cousin Eddie

April 13, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

I’ve decided jet lag is the Cousin Eddie of International travel. You know it’s coming (even if Clark doesn’t), it’s more annoying than dangerous, and it can’t go away quickly enough.

No Surprise Here

I slept on the plane, stayed up until 11pm local on my first night, and tried to prepare myself for this. Unlike Clark, I was not surprised to be visited by jet lag. But it still sucks.

Jet lag- even if you know it’s coming, you can’t possibly prepare yourself enough to make the visit pleasant.

Not dangerous until combined with volatile substances

Knowing jet lag and overstimulation would be an issue, I only set one goal for my first day. A pint of Guinness. Besides, I wanted to stay up until at least 10pm local rather than going to bed at 8pm. So I went out for a pint. Then I was gifted a second “welcome to Ireland” pint. Can’t say no to that right?


Jet lag, airplane dehydration plus 2 pints of Guinness made for a headachy morning. This was not a real nice surprise.

Once out of bed I felt great. Of course, that was at 2pm local. I got up at 11:30am local today so progress is being made…?

It Can’t Go Away Fast Enough


“Don’t you go falling in love with [the RV] now, because, we’re taking it with us when we leave here next month.”

It’s only day 3 and I’m slowly adjusting. The nice thing is that I actually have time to adjust. One advantage to jet lag is that I can explore the night life without feeling like an old lady who’s ready for bed.



Opportunity Cost

April 7, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

Well folks, I’m mostly packed for this crazy 6-month adventure. I’m excited but also keenly aware that I’m missing good stuff back here in the US.

The opportunity cost of this is the among highest I’ve ever paid. I will miss Daniel, my family, my friends, and my bunnies. I will miss out on fun experiences with all of them for the next 6 months.

The days before a vacation are always stressful as you try to fit in everything. I’m not going to Mars or anything but knowing it will be six months before I can do this stuff again is…weighty.

This part is really hard. I want to see all my peeps and still be able to spend quality time with my husband and bunnies. Also pack. And continue to build my coaching practice. And maybe sleep.

Time is always precious

Like many people, Randy Paush’s The Last Lecture stuck with me. If you have never seen it or read it, for the love of all that’s great in this world, please do so. He asks  “Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.” Poignant words words from a man who knew he had terminal cancer.

Only when we are pressed for time do we push aside time wasters to prioritize what’s really important. But here’s the real deal- WE ARE ALWAYS PRESSED FOR TIME.  I don’t mean we’re all super busy. I mean you have a limited number of days to spend doing what’s precious to you.

So where does that leave me?

I am taking away time from all of the people who are precious to me. The weight of that could be crushing (some moments, it is). But doing this one big thing is also precious to me. Pausche’s lecture is about spending time with loved ones but it’s also about achieving your childhood dreams. And this is mine.

Remember this poster from the 90’s? It’s Kylemore Abbey in Ireland. It was on my teenage bedroom wall for years.

The “childhood dream” element lessons the guilt but does not erase the reality of my choice.

Coping with Opportunity Cost

There is an opportunity cost for everything you choose. However, we only notice the cost-side of the equation when what we lose is also something we also wanted. Deciding between a day-old cold burger versus Five Guys hot-in-the-bag burger? No problem. Five Guys vs Smashburger is a bit more of a toss up. *Note to self: eat at Five Guys before leaving.

Trading Awesome for Awesome

In her memoir What I was Doing While You Were Breeding, Kristen Newman talks about being somewhat sad to fall in love and settle down. “Thank God I’m sad about changing my life. It means I’m trading awesome for awesome.”

In other words, difficult choices are a sign of multiple good options. If we only notice opportunity cost because there were two (or more) good choices, that means we had the luxury of two good choices. Lots of people are not so lucky. So make your choice, be happy about it, move on.

On that note, I board a plane to London in less than 48 hours. Eek!

Moving to Ireland (briefly)

March 17, 2019 | Blog | 4 Comments

I have a one-way airplane ticket to Dublin, Ireland on April 9th.

Don’t worry, I’ll come back to Denver. Just not until October….

I’m calling it a “workcation.” I don’t fit into the trendy term “digital nomad” as I still have a home in Denver. Also, this is not an excuse to lay around drinking Guinness for months. I will be working from home. But “home” is an apartment in Dublin.

You may have questions. Here are the ones I am most frequently asked.

So what happens when you get there?

I have an AirBNB staying with a nice couple for my first three weeks. I will spend that time looking for a shared apartment with other young(ish) professionals for a few months after that. This is quite common in Dublin.

You’re married…?

This is the question I get most often. Sometimes it’s not even a question but a sticking point. Yes, Daniel are happily married. But we are still two separate, complete entities who love each other generously. We’ve known each other since we were 16. It’ll give us something new to talk about (over Skype).

When I cooked up this crazy scheme a few years ago I asked if he wanted to come. He said no. He didn’t want to be away for that long, doesn’t share my fascination with European history, and understood that doing this alone would be a different journey for me. So he is holding down the fort. For which I am eternally, enormously, colossal-gigantically grateful. And he will come visit.

Why so long?

I was a little obsessed with Ireland as a kid. A vacation there isn’t enough. I want to know the people, customs, sorrows and joys. And I want to live in a foreign place to find out how it will challenge and change me.

When I moved to Denver I could not have imagined all the ways I would grow as a result. If I had stayed in Oklahoma probably wouldn’t have taken up rock climbing, figure skating, or hiking. I would not have climbed 14ers and done all sorts of cool Colorado stuff.

I want to know- How will living in Ireland change me?

Bourdain

Why Europe?

I’ve always regretted not doing a semester abroad when I was younger. I did a study abroad tour of continental Europe for 3 weeks and it was the best experience of my college career.

I grew up thinking all Americans wanted to visit Europe as desperately as I did. This is probably due to a Western-centric education and view of the world (I’d like to expand to more knowledge of the East eventually).

When I read Little Women I experienced Jo longing for “my Europe” and Amy’s delight in going with Aunt March. From King Arthur, Joan of Ard, Catherine de Medici, or Robin Hood, I was fascinated with that part of history and the world.

Moving to IreHow did you pick Ireland?

More than anywhere else in Europe, I latched on to Ireland as a kid. I’m just old enough to remember some of the Troubles. I also have a long-standing attachment to the Underdog. Ireland fought their way to full independence after 800 years of oppression by the British. Of course then it took quite a long time to solve the Troubles with Northern Ireland. I admire that the Irish NEVER give up.

Unfortunately my tourist visa only lasts 90 days so a jaunt over to Scotland will do nicely. Maybe for a month, maybe for 3. Not sure yet.

Are you concerned about safety?

I am a woman traveling alone, which I quite enjoy. From a few days in Paris when I was 20 to a few days in Rome two years ago, I know I’ll enjoy setting my own pace.

There are many single women, younger than myself, who live and work in Dublin without incident. The crime index in Dublin is lower than Denver and the safety scale is higher (source). And not to get too political but gun control is a thing over there. About 1 in 100,000 die a gun-related death in Ireland each year. It’s 12 times higher in the US (source). I’ll likely be just fine.

What about the bunnies?

They would not enjoy the plane ride and Daniel needs company. He is an amazing bunny dad and when the chips are down his judgement is better than mine. I just get all panicked and weepy. This part is difficult for me but I can’t imagine a time in my life with no pets so it is what it is. They will be in the best of hands.

What other questions do you have? Ask away!

Reality Check, part 2

March 3, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

About a month ago I wrote about some of the challenges of being self-employed. I’m happy to say that I’ve made some progress. Though not as much as I’d like. ‘Cause what’s the fun in that?

Accountability

Then: I’m looking into a life coach that “specializes in building your business.”
Now: I found and hired a coach and she’s already been helpful in getting me moving towards my goals.
Status: On track.

Mornings are terrible productive

img_20190303_220920-1
Then: Instead of a”year-long journals seem like tempting the God of Lost Things and Forgotten Aspirations, etc. I [made] a 66 day commitment” to more disciplined mornings.
Now: The first week went really well. I got up each morning to meditate, do deep knee bends while brushing my teeth, etc. Then I went to VA to deliver a workshop. I need to work on the whole “do it every day no matter what” part….
Status: Progress made, needs more work.

Gold stars for grown ups

img_20190303_222604
Then: “I got a wall calendar and pretty sticky notes. The stickies are for (weekly, not daily) tasks and such and go on my lovely new wall calendar.”
Now: I’m a week behind in my “purge the house” chores but I’m pretty sure I’m doing better than I would be without the calendar.
Status: Progress made, needs more work.

Internet, go away for a bit

Then: ” I’ve installed StayFocused, a free Chrome plugin that lets you set a limit to how much time you can spend on” time-wasting website.
Now: Uh…I forgot I installed it until writing this. How’s that for honesty? But the business coach and calendar with To Do items (aka Gold stars for grown ups) have helped me stay more focused.
Status: Improving, needs more work.

Conclusion

I may be early on in my “soloprenuer” journey, but I’m pretty sure these are things that will required continued effort. I suppose that’s why these are called habits and not cures.

Let it go

February 10, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

Nope, it’s not about Elsa.

I’m listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic about creativity.  Gilbert makes a point of letting go of her art once it has left her hands.Results of my work

This is not easy for me. Perhaps it’s not easy for anyone, even those who do it as beautifully as Gilbert does. This is why I have so rarely let others see my writing. The fear of misuse, mis-translation, misunderstanding, or worse has always held me back.

Last year I spoke with someone about one of my posts and they had done just that. In what I considered an unwise, imprudent decision , this person had used one of my big leaps to justify their decision. Or at least identify with it.

I was incensed. I have put a metric ton, shitload, hellza lotta thought and careful planning into the leaps I’m taking. I have also thought about this conversation entirely too much. Despite all that mulling, ponderance, and contemplation it took me over a month to figure out exactly why this bothered me so much.

I have never learned to let go of my art.

sanity

So let’s try this on for size. It’s not about me or my work. We humans are amazing when it comes to justifying our actions. It’s called external self-justification. AKA the use of external rationalizations to justify one’s actions. External self-justification is our effort to reduce our responsibility for a behavior and is usually brought on by mental discomfort.

Over 14 million people read Eat Pray Love. Some said it lead them to leave their marriage, sell all their possessions and travel, or whatever it was they probably wanted or needed to do anyway. (It’s worth noting that enough people did this that Gilbert wrote the introduction to a book called Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It: Life Journeys Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Bestselling Memoir.)

I hope that whatever I choose to do through my coaching business, this blog, or just living my life is used to improve people’s lives. But I can’t control that. And their idea of what constitutes improvement isn’t up to me. It’s really none of my business. So it’s time. Time to….

else

Alright fine, it can be a little about Elsa. After all, Disney has to be OK with this (and much worse) being done to their art.

Fireflies & Fog

January 31, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

A few years ago I stumbled across Year Compass. It’s “a booklet that helps close your year and plan the next one. In the routine of everyday life it’s easy to lose sight of your true goals and aspirations. And even though we all have dreams, only a few of us plan for them. Effectively, at least.

“YearCompass works simply. Using questions and exercises rooted in psychology it takes you through the past year, then helps you turn your dreams into achievable goals.”

Maybe you’re thinking “this is a neat idea but it’s February now so oh well.” That’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card. The first year I didn’t find this until Mid-January, I didn’t start it until February, and I didn’t finish it until March 4th. It’s not hard, I just have trouble sitting still sometimes.

One of the best parts is going over the previous year’s calendar. Hopefully you surprise yourself with all the fun stuff you did, things you got done, trips with family, etc.

2018summaryedited

One of my best memories was watching fog settle over the Little River in the Smoky Mountains. As the fog settled into bed, the fireflies came out. We don’t have fireflies in Colorado and I miss the “lightening bugs” of my childhood in Oklahoma.

There was fog in 2018. Should I seriously quit a great job working with people who help me learn and a company I love? Am I cut out to be an entrepreneur? Can I really pull off my Big Hairy Audacious Goal in 2019? Is now the right time (for any and all these things)?

But there were fireflies too. I took my mom to the top of the Empire State Building for Mother’s Day. I fell in love with climbing at Red Rocks in Las Vegas. I finally saw the Smokies. I am making money as an independent consultant. I found new hobbies and new people to love. I met Jen Sincero, the You are a Badass lady.

jensincero

When I did the Year Compass last year it lead me to a real gem. After filling out all the questions and thinking back over 2017, I wrote the following aspiration:

leaveroom

This is what inspired my Open Space entry. So I guess I accomplished this. Or at least integrated it successfully into my life (as I suspect this will be an ongoing effort).

The theme for the coming year is:

2019phrase

Those are some big words to live up to. Winter hibernation is over and it’s time to get to work.

Reality Check

January 27, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

“I’d love to quit my job and work for myself. No annoying coworkers, no commute, and no crazy boss.”

Folks, my boss is still crazy.* Perhaps worse, the crazy lady boss is me.

mug
The mug my amazing teammates at CAEL gave me when I resigned to do my own thing.

One of my guiding tenets of this blog is to maintain honesty about the thrills and challenges of my new pathway. And the truth is this is hard sometimes.

Some Issues

There are no deadlines

It’s soooooo easy to “just do it tomorrow.” I’ll add X, Y, or Z to my website today. Or maybe tomorrow. Or maybe next week.

Mornings are wishy-washy

There is no set time when I have to be up most days. Unless I’ve made a coffee date with a business acquaintance, I can just lay there in a warm bed a little longer. Or a lot longer.

Sometimes I’d rather do housework

Yes, mom and dad, you read that correctly.

If I’m running up and down the stairs carrying clean laundry I feel productive. When I scrub my kitchen, it’s sparkling and pretty. The lack of tangible outcomes in starting a coaching business is tough some days.

Speaking of procrastination

Apparently common forms of procrastination are a symptom of an impulsivity problem. I know what I need to work on. But the rest of the internet is RIGHT THERE!

What now?

solutions

Accountability

The deadline problem is really an accountability problem. Just like therapists often have their own therapists, many life coaches have life coaches. One specializing in building your business would probably be great for me. So I’m looking into that.

Mornings are terrible productive

HabitNest has a book/journal to help you start your day more productively. There are a million goal and habit-tracker journals out there. This one only lasts 66 days. The year-long journals seem like tempting the God of Lost Things and Forgotten Aspirations, etc. I can make a 66 day commitment. Not coincidentally, research says it takes 66 days to create a new habit.

Gold stars for grown ups

The idea of a daily tracker/planner does not appeal to me. I’m not realistically going to carry around a book and record things by hand and in my Google calendar. If a solution that doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work.

So I got a wall calendar and pretty sticky notes. The stickies are for (weekly, not daily) tasks and such and go on my lovely new wall calendar. When they are finished, I add them to a stack of completed items. By the end of the year I should have a nice track record of what I’ve accomplished.

Internet, go away for a bit

Yes, it’s good to check the news websites and be informed. It’s not so good to follow links down a 90-minute rabbit-hole. So I’ve installed StayFocused, a free Chrome plugin that lets you set a limit to how much time you can spend on CNN, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

The good news

The good news here is I’m building something I will be proud of. And I am honestly intellectually interested in life coaching, career advising, and helping people. So even with these challenges, I always wonder back to the task, goal, or reading material I need to attend to. But there’s always room for improvement!

*In all fairness, most of my bosses were excellent humans and great leaders. I would not be where I am without Lewis, Shawn, and Heather (and many others).

The 5 “Ps”

January 14, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

achieve-success-art-quotesIn the age of social media we see loads of success, happy outcomes, and other causes for celebration. What we often don’t see is the dedication, preparation, sacrifices, and exhaustion behind those successes.

I am not a fan of letting people only see the results. It’s important to see the hard work and set-backs too.

From the outside looking in it appears I up and quit my job, got a contract with my old employer, and started a coaching business out of nowhere. Abracadabra, NEW CAREER!

Let’s dispel that myth.

In 2015, I began exploring the idea of being a career coach of some kind. My employer, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, had career advisors as contractors. As I learned more about what they do and how they do their work I became intrigued.

So in early 2016 I got TWO career coaching certifications- the Global Career Development Facilitator and Adult & Education Advisor. I worked all day and spent lots of week nights and weekend mornings doing more work. But it was, and is, rewarding. That’s how I knew I was on the right path.

Life inspirational quotes - A goal without a plan is just a wish.I also took small business classes to start figuring out how the crap to set up a business. Not surprisingly, a liberal arts education did not prepare me for this. 

I won’t bore you with further details, simply know that loads of planning, thinking, saving, budgeting, etc went into that “abrupt” career change last fall.

Which brings me to the 5 Ps:

1661788-charlie-batch-quote-proper-preparation-prevents-poor-performance

How are you preparing for success in 2019?

98% on my Terms

December 28, 2018 | Blog | No Comments

Earlier this month Daniel and I were visiting two friends in Seattle. He’s laid back, she’s full of energy. They are a perfect compliment to each other. We all went out for pie. Amazing pie. The kind of pie you’re going to want more of later.

mmmm-pie

Whoops, got distracted. Back to our adorable couple. When ordering, he asked her if she wanted a second slice for later. No, she replied. 

As the cashier took their order, she ordered a second slice at the very last moment. “100% on your terms, I get it” he smiled down at her. Later on, with equal love, Daniel affirmed my assertion that I was a “100% on your terms” kind of gal too. 

Picky. High standards. Uncompromising. Determined. Obstinate. Resolute. Stubborn. These are all synonyms of a sort but some have negative connotations, others positive. This concept, like any other worth thinking about, has pros and cons. 

Flexibility of mind does not come naturally to me. All of the above synonyms have applied to me pretty much since I could speak. Ask my parents, they have stories….

But I can and have improved. 

There are at least two concepts that I find helpful when trying to go with the flow. 

  1. Be positive. When the human brain comes to a conclusion or plan, it’s because that’s the best one we could come up with. But what about the conclusions or plans we didn’t/couldn’t/ wouldn’t think of? 
  2. Stay curious. Is there the slightest chance that if things don’t go exactly as planned they might go slightly better??? In a world of impossibilities the answer is always yes. 

I know some people have gotten tired of these phrases and ideas. But there’s a reason they’re ubiquitous. It’s because they’re useful dammit. If they don’t work for you let me know what does. Different routes to the same destination = success. 

I am still unbending when it comes to things of great importance to me. If you pick your battles wisely, this trait can be exceptionally useful. Weight loss/maintenance. Refusal to settle for a shitty job. Determination to get it right. 

This is one place where something less than 100% is acceptable. Perhaps even ideal.