Monday, October 29, 2012

Don't settle for quicksand.

I read about a woman who was sick of her job, sick of settling for work and fitting herself inside of a box, who one day woke up and wondered how the hell she got there. How did she become so distant from her passions, her wants, her desires? Five, ten, fifteen years later - she wakes up one day to discover the murk she's in.

The more she moves, the more it feels like it's sucking her under, like quicksand. The easier the excuses become to stay in the comfortable pit of despair.


She yells at no one in particular but more aimed at herself. She's done with this nonsense. She's done with answering phones and trying to silence the voice inside of her, the one that's screaming and yelling with all of its might to let it free. Let it be. LET ME FREE!

She quits her job with no back up plan. No route in mind for what to do next.

And it feels A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

This new found freedom, this recognition of no longer settling inside of a box, this empowerment gives her strength. Every day she wakes up excited. Ready to discover who she really is, what she really wants and how to align her values to it. Her dreams, her own unique and beautiful dreams, start becoming her reality. She blooms into who she really is and rarely feels trapped again.

Is this person you? Do you feel trapped? Feel like you're settling in life?Are you ready to discover what it is that you really want out of life?

Thought so.

The trickle down effect of doping.

Last week, while sitting at the kitchen table, our house guest Billy told us that he'd been called doper while riding the other day. Whoa, what?

He was just riding along in normal cycling spandex and accosted. I figured it was because he lived in Northern California and hopeful that the labeling was regional.

But yesterday, Benjamin said he was called doper, not once, but twice while on a mountain bike ride. He too was dressed in spandex and just riding uphill, up Gold Camp, minding his own business and worlds away from the scandal.

It's hard not to be mad at the situation. That now, thanks to the imploding deck of cards at the upper levels of our sport, we're all being subject to ridicule and labeling. Road, track, mountain bike and cross - we're all subject to the name calling and association with doping. Now that there's this awareness of cheaters and how easy it was for them to hide it all this time, it's muddied the waters for everyone who enjoys pedaling two wheels.

How can we defend ourselves against this blow?

For all of those that are dirty - what about all of those that are clean? How do we really know other than taking their word for it? As we've seen, those who claim innocence are far from it. In a way, I can't blame the general public for labeling cyclists thanks to the recent media attention and focus. That doesn't lessen the insult though.

What are the lessons here? Is there anything positive we can make of it? Baseball survived. We can only hope that cycling will weather this storm and the next generation of racers and riders while deter from history. That when given the choice to dope or not - they take the clean road.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Yep. I totally chickened out.

I even bit off all my fingernails.

Gross! Those aren't my nails. But I did bite mine.


Because when push came to shove, I chickened out from going to open mic night. And the next day when I went into work - I chickened out from confronting my coworker.

But what if I said the timing didn't feel right? That something held me back? Was I simply being chicken or listing to that inner voice of reason and recognizing the timing was off?

What keeps us from being that bold extrovert we want to be?

Chicken. It's whats for dinner.

Don't worry - next week I'm tackling my inner chicken all over again.  (And I'm sparing you from YouTube chicken dancing.. the stuff you find on the web is weird.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Small Potatoes

Lately I've been taking big, bold steps into the person who I want to be. And to be honest, I've been taking those steps for more than a year now - moving to Colorado, buying a house with Benjamin, traveling, starting my own business, public speaking and living each day to the fullest. That when the small potatoes of working at the Market started to enter into my life, I am in awe and wonder why they are effecting me.

I walk around eggshells at work. I am not being my true self as a result and well, it's starting to take its toll.

Example: A gentleman walks into work saying he spoke with a coworker at the farmers market about labels. His timing is perfect - as our label maker was down for the count for over two weeks. It's back up and running but tends to break down easily. Unfortunately I don't have the authority to field such answers, so I ask someone who is if they have time to speak with him. The answer I received was one of frustration and angst - LOOK AT THIS PILE OF WORK! NO WAY! I deflect the response and tell the guy that if he could send me pricing in an email and how much it would break down to per label, I'll pass it on to the appropriate person.


Guess what I stop doing? I stop asking questions and avoid said person at all costs. Why would I want to subject myself to another frustrating situation if I can avoid it?


This has been going on for weeks. And I know I'm not the only one feeling the toll. So, in being true to myself and stepping into the person I want to be, I'm going to tell this person how I feel. And I'm going to do it from a place of love. If I get fired for doing so, then I'll know it's the right decision. But having to sacrifice who I am and not knowing if the eggshells will support my weight, is small potatoes compared to the things I've done.

It's funny how the little things can hold you back from the bigger things in life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Power of Coaching

Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into?

In an effort to challenge myself and step outside of the comfort box, I just committed to something HUGE. Remember how I said I have a public speaking dream? That I want to get up in front of thousands of people and inspire and motivate them to live the life they've always dreamed?

Well I'm going to do it. Tomorrow night. During open mic. I'm giving my first live speech in front of a group of strangers. And I'm wearing a costume.

That's right. The fish head is making a debut and getting out in the world. I'm breaking out my inner extrovert and taking big risks. What's the worse thing that could happen? GULP.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Toastmasters: Way More Than I Bargained For

My alarm startled me out of a deep slumber this morning at 6am. Usually awoken to 80's pop, this morning a talk show interviewed Tony Robbins. 

I call it a sign. Benjamin says its a coincidence. (The egg vs. chicken debate continues!)

I treat Thursday mornings like a job interview. Carefully laying out my clothes the night before, so not to wake Benjamin or the puppies. Blow drying my hair, applying mascara and eatting a quick breakfast before heading out the door to the Navigators by Garden of the Gods' for my 7:15 am Toastmasters meeting.

These are my mornings to shine.

Being only 6 weeks into the meetings, I have gained so much already by attending that I am amazed that each meeting brings new lessons of growth. Tips not only to improve public speaking, but also on how to live life. This group of 20+ strangers are becoming friends. True, amazing friends.

How often do you get to be your true authentic self? Free from worry, doubt, insecurities and any short comings? Only in front of your closest friends, right? And I found a group of 20 friends in less than 6 weeks. Toastmasters provides a platform to expose your vulnerabilities. To voice your dreams and desires. Giving you a hand to hold and a careful nudge in the right direction to improve. And they count your um's and and's.

I'm feeling my stride. Taking beautiful, bold, courageous steps into my own being.

In the past 24 hours I got three hugs from various people who I don't know particularly well in my life. But with each of those people, I shared with them my true authentic, caring self and they in turn shared theirs. Now it's not just the Universe telling me I'm doing something right - but it's the people in my life as well.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Live to Work

My second speech for Toastmasters is coming up on November  1, 2012. This is what I've come up with so far... please leave any comments or suggestions!

As a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? How about as a teenager or young adult or even an adult for that matter?

Me neither.

Trust me, I tried fitting myself into a box. Firefighting, business woman, real estate tycoon, psychologist, teacher, garbage man, librarian, car salesman.

I've pondered a lot of different careers. But none of them seemed to fit. Or rather, I didn't fit into them. It's not from lack of trying either. Every time I would try one of those professions on for size as a young adult, I'd always have this underlying feeling of something bigger calling.

I was always inspired by those who found their calling and in many ways, I was more excited that they had aligned themselves with what they wanted to do then what they actually did.

When I started college at Western Washington University, I thought a business major suited me. It's what my mom majored in and I admire and look up to her. She was also extremely successful. As an incoming freshman, I got first pick on any upper level classes. So I promptly registered for Business Law and Accounting, both 300 level classes. And I failed at both of them, miserably.

I felt lost, again. Not knowing what to do, or where to put my energies frustrated me. Then I started thinking about what I dreamed of as a kid: motivational speaker, writer, and athlete. Those were professions that resonated my values and beliefs. I registered for communications 101 on a whim and I had to give speeches in front of the 100 person class. And although nervous at first to do so, suddenly school no longer felt like labor. It was fun!

My grades improved drastically and a couple of teachers and friends encouraged me to stretch and reach beyond my self imposed limitations.

I graduated in 2000 with a major in Communications and minor in Journalism and quickly found myself working at T-Mobile call center. Surprisingly, I failed the the new hire quiz after two weeks of hands on training. But the teacher saw something in me, realizing the test questions were skewed for specific inside the box answers and gave me a chance. Within six months the tables turned, and I was asked to teach new hire classes and travel the country to new markets.

While standing in front of a class in Thorton, Colorado, one of the new hires told me in front of the entire class, "Kid (she was 30 years my senior), you've got something. You're destined for big things."

Simultaneously I was pursuing elite level amateur boxing as an alternate at the first women's boxing world championships. I only bring it up because these amazing opportunities started to show up for me because I wasn't stuck inside of a box. I could beat the shit out of that box.

However, I still hadn't found my balance. When Ryan and I moved to Seattle after he graduated so would have a greater chance of finding work, I took a job teaching adults computer programs. Each 3-day course was evaluated by the students and my job security was based upon a number between 1 and 10. I disliked being judged by strangers based on boring how to use a computer program content. (Sorry Ryan - he was a computer programmer!) I knew there was more to life. I gave my two weeks notice and we traveled to Europe that summer.

What I did uncover was my willingness to speak in front of groups and also my ability to lead them. I also found was that unless being true to my passions and beliefs, everything felt like a job. I was working to live. And I desperately wanted to live to work.

In 2008, Ryan's death shook me to my core. It made me wake up from settling. I had a good paying job with enormous job security and lots of free time, but it left me feeling flat and empty. I found myself more than ready for change and ready to pursue my life's calling. But I still didn't know what that looked like.

Coincidentally, my friend Laura Todd who was instrumental in giving me my first break at T-Mobile sent out an email announcing she quit her corporate day job in pursuit of professional life coaching. I immediately responded reasoning, why wouldn't you want to have as many people in your corner as possible? I have big dreams and big goals and I knew I needed support to achieve them.

 Together we recognized where I was with my unbalanced and frustrating career and where I wanted to be. To honestly admit my dreams out loud and to be held accountable to pursue them was scary and thrilling all at the same time. I knew we were onto something.

I dreamed of moving to Colorado, writing a book, racing full time and putting my own desires first as well as discovering a rewarding and fulfilling career that would allow me to be financially independent.  I want to travel, observing the world and all is beauty.  I put my dreams and desires out there and within 6 months of working together, I took a giant leap and quit my job to move to Colorado Springs. Benjamin and I bought a house together 4 months later and huge opportunities continue to present themselves, as well as clarity on what I want to do when I grow up.

Sometimes it takes a while to find yourself and what you want to do. I wrote in my journal about moving to Colorado for over 10 years. Having a supportive nudge, whether that be from friends, coaches or the Universe can push you out of settling and into fulfillment.

So now, when you ask me, Jennifer: what do you want to be when you grow up? I will proudly respond someone who helps people get from where they are now to where they want to be. I'm going to help people live the life of their dreams so I can live mine.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Crossing out of the box.

As most of you know, I'm a track cyclist. I love banked left-hand turns, one gear and no brakes. So this year, when I decided to mix things up a bit and give cyclocross a whirl, I was just as surprised as some of you.

For those of you unfamiliar with cyclocross - it couldn't be more different then track. Besides having multiple gears, brakes and nobby tires, you also throw in dirt, barriers, run ups, and pain. Lots of pain. 45 minutes of pain. But it's "fun" and the fastest growing cycling discipline right now. It's like the obstacle race craze that has swept the country, except on bikes.

My first race was in the Springs. Tell me who wouldn't continue racing after smashing your 35+ competition? Yeah, I sand bagged, I suppose. But we all start somewhere and being in a nonthreatening, supportive field sounded good to me!

Armed with confidence but lacking skill, I signed up the following weekend for the Valmont course in Boulder in the women's open category. Unseasonably warm temperatures and the race lying within the "Boulder Bubble" meant that more then 30 women showed up. I managed 15th or so, boosting my confidence. Cyclocross makes the intensity of the effort easy to forget and beer that night taste even better.

A week later, I signed up for Tough Girls in Golden, Colorado. On a bumpy, grouchy course in 95 degree heat, I placed dead last. Payout went 5 deep and I was 6th. Adding insult to injury, my inner demons of doubt reared their ugly heads and I drove home with my tail between my legs. Or rather, my tires deflated.

I know better though, especially in this sport. Failures are inevitable, victory is fleeting and lessons galore. The next week: another opportunity on a different course.

Buena Vista, Colorado is surrounded by the Collegiate Range of multiple 14ers and freckled with golden Aspens. The views alone are worth the 2 hour drive. But I had a score to settle.

This time I decided to try something new. Instead of approaching the race with open expectations and accepting what happens no matter what, I was coming in with low expectations. Five girls registered, and payout went 5 deep. Either way I'm in the money. Win-win. Boom.

The whistle blows and we're out of the gates like a pony stampede. By the first technical section we've dropped one girl already. Score! The girl in front of me bobbles and I pounce, charging past her on a hill she un-clips on. Head down, power on I'm chasing hard to catch the next girl. We yo-yo. And I'm in no man's land. Approaching the barriers the fourth time, I lose it. Tired from the effort, I fall hard. I get up immediately and thank my lucky stars no one witnessed it. And then I see him. The husband of a rider and he's cheering me on. I laugh, thinking I got away with that stumble in private. Nope. I should have curtsied. At this point the leaders are way out of reach and I roll in for 3rd.

Gas and entry fee back in hand, I head home armed with a plaque and a smile knowing I accomplished two things. First, I left a great impressions with the hubby and in the dirt. And second, sometimes you should set low expectations just to surprise yourself. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

When It's Time: Live Your Passion

Do you know when it's time?

Time to create, time to be bold, time to express your authentic self? What holds you back from stretching, reaching, and or exceeding boundaries? What helps you get there?

Are you out of touch on how to allow that expression? Are you ready to reprogram yourself? To do your thing against a sea of processes, of constant continuous movements, of repetitious approaches and attitudes, of feeling like you're stuck. To one day in the not so distant future, look back on your work and realize that you were so engrossed in the process that it dawns on you - you figured out how to stop time.

Are you setting yourself up for success to do these things? Or are you sabotaging your efforts? Do you listen to the cynics, critics and haters when you know all it takes is one person to believe in you. That person is you.

Have you found your passion? The light that ignites you to contribute your very best. That keeps you coming back for more, despite setbacks and challenges. A passion that connects you to a tribe of other like-minded people. How are you living it? Do you want to live it more?

Be honest with yourself. Be bold and take risks. Have the courage to face failure and fear and celebrate unexpected outcomes. Bring those contributions back to your tribe and watch it inspire others. Surround yourself with a strong, resilient, positive and supportive people.

Sunday, October 07, 2012


I'm reading a book about linchpins. For those unfamiliar, linchpins used figuratively, are something that hold the various elements of a complicated structure together. It's also a great metaphor to describe indispensable people. Ones who break the mold of factories and add enormous value to organizations because they bring creativity and humanity into what they do.

Seth Godwin, author of "Linchpin" argues that the factory age is over. Producing commodities with interchangeable pieces, as well as cog machine workers, is a thing of the past. Consumers seek out the best price with the most human connection. In a market flooded with cheap commodities and lower prices, what sets companies apart from one another? Linchpins.

Still confused? Try this on:

I can't get fired from the Market. I've traveled extensively, for months at a time. I've tried giving a letter of resignation, expressing my dissatisfaction in working a job they assigned me. I up and left to London with zero notice, and still had a job when I returned. Instead of firing me, they put me back in the Market, working directly with customers and raising my pay. Baffled? Me too.

Recently I discovered my calling - life coaching and helping others live the life of their dreams. The training is extensive and requires travel for long weekends during the busiest season for retail. My decision: continue working a $10 an hour job or pursue the life of my dreams. That was a tough one. When I brought the additional travel up to the new owner, ready to give notice if it came down to it, I was taken back when he didn't say no right away. It stretched him. It made him examine my value as a contributor to the company.

The next day he told me to book my flights. And they'll work around my schedule when I'm in town.

Linchpin. I am indispensable.

Ironic, isn't it? In a country full of unemployment, I can't lose a job to save my life.

So, how does this relate to you, dear reader? Ask yourself the following question: are you indispensable? And if not, do you want to become indispensable?

I'm going to take it a step further and say that simply following the life of your dreams, taking risks, taking the path less traveled, living life full of abundance and balance - simply put: BEING YOU makes you indispensable. That not fitting into a box, conforming to societal norms and continuing to work as a cog in the machine will free you. Free you to live a life beyond what's imaginable. What once seemed far stretched and impossible is now something you can make reality. Your reality. Move beyond the old paradigm. Create change. Live change. Be the linchpin.

That might sound scary, outrageous and thrilling all at the same time. But you can do it. Take action. Surround yourself with supportive linchpins in life. It will stretch you beyond preconceived possibilities. You're hired to live to the life of your dreams.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Addressing the elephants

Puissant. From the heart. Thought provoking. Inspiring. And a standing ovation.

This morning I took a risk. I got up in front of my Toastmasters group and shared a story about myself, from the heart. I cried. I showed my vulnerability. I connected to every person in that room. And I felt their love.


I knocked that one out of the park. I shared with them that I am a widow and that the journey I'm on is hard but through acceptance and growth, I am an amazing and better person. I want to help others. I want to show them the strength inside. The one that grows with time and encouragement. The one that inspires others to be the best they can be. I want the world to know that you have a choice in how to address the elephants in your life.

Every single person in the room stood up and applauded. I'm on the right path. What a wonderful affirmation.

Don't worry - this one is going in the book FOR SURE!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Balancing Act

Balance. We all need it.

Anytime I need to be reminded of the beauty of balance, I head to Garden of the Gods' to ride by my favorite landmark: Balance Rock.

Tourists flock to the area, often poised underneath one of the balance points to show how they contribute to the rocks balance. But take those people away, and the rock balances well on its own, as it has and as it will continue to.

Everyone has their unique balance point. It comes in as many shapes and forms as there are people in the world. Each sense of balance is linked to core values and how you've aligned your life to them. Friends and family, career, recreation, love and relationships, physical environment, money, health, and personal growth - to name a few. It's all part of who we are.

So when you find yourself feeling out of balance and ready to topple, take a step back. Look at your life as a whole. Figure out where the imbalance is coming from and take action to improve it. There are helpers along the way that can give you new perspectives and challenges if you feel stuck. But ultimately it's up to you to make the change.

Ready to start living that balanced life of your dreams? I'm ready to help. Please contact me.