Finding The Right Balance During The Holidays

The holidays bring a lot of different challenges to people for many different reasons.  Financially, emotionally or mentally it can be a draining period of time.  It does not have to be though. Finding the right balance can make your holiday more enjoyable.

Some people find dividing their time to be the most difficult part. Almost everyone wants to spend time with his or her family, but too much time can be overwhelming.  You might feel swallowed up. We’ve all seen the classic scenes of families getting together enjoying their company, then 15 minutes later the conversation has turned into argument, uncomfortable moments and turmoil.  I was speaking with someone recently who mentioned to me that they have a tough time enjoying the holidays strictly for this reason.

“I don’t enjoy spending a whole day with my family because it inevitably turns into a finger pointing, shouting match.  I love them, and I want to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s around them, but not at the cost of feeling distain and annoyance with certain members of my family.” Unfortunately, he mentioned how he’s stuck in a tough situation. His family recognizes he’s not around as much and takes it as a sign of distain and separation. “I don’t want to alienate myself from my family, but finding the right amount of balance can be difficult.”

Overcoming these habits of mind and finding balance within yourself for the holidays can be a challenge.  Give yourself a break. Be gentle with yourself. Get really curious. Who are these people? What do you love/like about them. How do you reflect each other? Don’t let yourself get caught up in the moment of a reaction.

Present yourself with realistic expectations for the holidays. If you have a specific vision of what the holidays are supposed to be like, don’t let that dictate what happens. Chances are they may not live up to the idealistic vision you have of what will happen. Don’t worry about holiday spirit and take the holidays as they come. At the same time, don’t have too little expectations. Some people go into the holidays with expectations so low that it makes them more depressed. Limiting your expectations, both good and bad, will make them more enjoyable.

The holidays in the end are meant to be pleasant, entertaining and a time to spend with people you care about.  Finding a balance in your time and expectations can help make the days, weeks and month go by smoothly and enjoyably.


In talking with clients the issue of discomfort with a current situation is likely to come up. After all, I am called to make a difference in their lives. As humans we often get tied up and attracted/attached to what isn’t going right. We can be sure of what’s wrong, it’s obvious, isn’t it? So I’m often called to be the coxswain to a new life.

I, of course, can’t change direction but I give strategies and practices to clear a new path enforcing and re-enforcing the goals and vision of each person. In this lofty capacity the most important and really about the only action I take is to listen. Awareness is often what we leave behind while we are in an attitude of disappointment, discouragement or  hopelessness.

The mark I can make is fueled by attention. When you describe a reaction, a feeling, a situation that brings discomfort or dis-ease, my tuning in can make a difference. Accountability is the pen that can write the new path and compassion is its guiding light.

So often we let our minds be the spokesperson for tyranny. Where it came from matters less than turning away from the voices of discomfort and sorrow to allow what is. What is here around us is enough. When we can look with compassion at what disturbs us, we can see more clearly where change can happen. It’s not that things don’t change for the worse, they can, but dropping them without understanding, without vision can often lead to a repetition of the same circumstance.

Sometimes when we see green bitter berries, we forget they might be blueberries in a little while – given some sun and the right conditions. Not everything has a sweet ending and we don’t have to accept everything as it is. We can use our vision, compassion and intention to change ourselves and see where we really want to be.

Transition to Transparency

Making a transition in life can be difficult to accept and face head on.  There aren’t many people who enjoy the process of change or accepting a new reality in their existence.  With transition coaching your everyday life skills grow into a committed path to the life you dream. My simple strategies will clarify your expression and help you be open to the life you want to attract.

There are two different types of occurrences that cause you to make a life transition.  The first is a planned occurrence.  A wedding, higher education or a move is something you can plan for and prepare yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally to make a transition.  An unplanned occurrence catches you off guard, it is a time you weren’t expecting to make a change.  The actuality of the situation is, no matter what, an unplanned or planned occurrence causes you to make a transition from one perspective to another.  You’re dealt a whole new set of cards.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Maria Robinson

I’m often helping individuals who are transitioning from loss or failures.  It’s difficult for people to recognize their shortcomings or comprehend something is gone.  However, I enjoy seeing the relief of people moving from one phase of their life to discovering their most authentic self.  They release themselves from their own inhibitions and can now do what they feel is right.  My goals with Transformational Video and Insight Coaching are to help people clarify their goals and personal vision.  Once you are clear, you can move to being open with yourself and prepared for any occurrence you may face on your life journey.  With my heart-centered tools and strategies I have helped countless people live inspiring and fulfilled lives. My clients are an inspiration to me, and a reminder that we are all capable of leading incredible lives.

Parasite Rex

A while ago I wrote about how parasites, viruses, and bacteria all contribute to who we are and how we relate to each other. I referenced the book, Parasite Rex, which talks about our interaction with our environment – in this case, very small creatures.

On Sunday in a NY Times opinion column, i.e., not necessarily endorsed by the paper, Moises Velasquez-Manoff discusses autism as possibly a function of the lack of parasites whose presence is known to suppress inflammation.

I don’t want to get into an argument about this – what I think is so important is that our interaction with our world, macro and micro, is so significant.

Maybe it’s because i was horrified when I was introduced to Rene Descartes in college. I haven’t gotten over it. How could someone leave out most of the body’s attributes and focus in on a single aspect! (no question mark here, this is rhetorical)

It’s so human of us to isolate one person, idea, phylum and have it support one huge idea. The most obvious to me at the moment are the religious views that would have us be evil or incompetent or superior depending which side is talking.

I know it is often hard for me to feel my connection to the universe in a palpable way. I allow the concept of the universe in me and I in the universe to penetrate my consciousness, I seek it, I believe it. Until I get in a pinch, then it’s really easy to separate.

When I read the article on Autism – and I am drawn to them thanks to my godson Jacob and his teachings – I think of all the places I’ve seen where people live, their relative health and happiness. With my Western mind it is hard for me to fathom how they can live at all. No flush toilets or Saran Wrap, no Betadine or Hydrogen Peroxide. How do they do it? And then I think how I just had the opportunity to walk around in Retail Land for four hours on Saturday and Sunday as Chandrika took a required course for the DMV in preparation for her driver’s license. We don’t look so healthy here. No, not at all. Happiness is a bit of a stretch too. And I think to my time in Nepal and India, many months spent fending off all the disease and dirt and allowing in the smiles, the happiness, the easy and available color, the simplicity within the cacophony of life.

I’m not winding to a Conclusion except to say that I eat organic food because it has withstood the onslaughts of bugs, thereby making the plant stronger and hopefully giving me some of that benefit and I’ll take my answer off the air but I think having a bit of the universe in me in the form of a little dirt wouldn’t be a bad thing.


When I was growing up we were enjoined to stay in line, to wait our turn quietly. I knew my place in the alphabet of classmates, knew where I stood, what was expected. I didn’t really know who I was much but I knew what I wanted: to be out of the line, on my own.

When I walk with our dogs they are happy to be in a line, they constantly check in to see where I am and what I am doing. With all this allegiance, with their doggy selves they are still more individual than I was, than I struggle to be even now.

Their right to be who they are is not on their minds. It is not an issue for them. Of course they don’t like being wrong but they only know they are wrong if we tell them and it doesn’t stay in their minds for too long even then.

This morning I am in line with them, sniffing, feeling the ground under my feet, daring my heart to race ahead, to be alert to possibility and not to consequence, to dance with the new moon and let be what is. This morning I speak the  language of the senses with my stars aligned, the pears ripening on the tree, loosestrife and thistle, queen anne’s lace and little yellow flowers on delicate greens. I am breath as I breathe in and air as I breathe out. Whole and hearty, looking for the next scent, I am with the pack.


This morning I watched the light come and touch everything I saw. There was a kindness to its light. Sometimes momentary, sometimes lasting for hours and hours.

What I think we want in this life is a place to be seen. To have tenderness of focus and clarity of heart. Then we pass that along like the sun.

I look forward to the night and the moon’s light touching tenderly all that takes in its shine.

No More Chameleons

These flowers are who they are. Sometimes a drop of water on the surface seems to give a deeper view – or at least more detailed.
I used to think I was hiding – behind bangs when I was a kid, by not being “visible” as an adult. But I never strayed from myself. The me that I am is always there, always apparent. Sometimes the drops get you in a little closer, sometimes they don’t show anything you didn’t know, but I’m way far away from thinking I’m a chameleon. Which I never was, but fooled myself into believing. The ruse was mine, nobody who wanted to see me didn’t because of anything I did.

We’re all just flowers. We are.

A Few Of My Favorite Things

Sometimes I feel like I get something so right I don’t know what to do with it or what more to say.

I love to draw. I sit and pick colors for outlines I have made. I can do this for a long time. I don’t always feel good about it – I mean as in not very accomplished – but I always know who I am while I’m doing it.

I meditate a lot. I like quiet. I like lines not always filled in. It gives me the feeling of possibility, that I could fill it with anything by putting nothing there. I like that.

This one’s called “Mr. Leftover.” I still crack up when I look at him. Does he make you nervous? What if you ate something and that’s what was left? Would that be creepy?

This one’s too easy, I mean, gosh, it has design potential.

I’ll end with this one, I feel he’s part of “my crowd.” What do you think?

Big Black Dog

My big black dog was named Borus, he was the kindest, sweetest, most gentle dog. And when other dogs saw him, they tried to attack him. It was funny, he would just sit or stand while they were jumping all over him. He had this big ruff around his neck and was completely protected from any attack. He weighed about 130 pounds and everyone loved him. He visited friends, he was welcome everywhere, he was a great dog.

But I’m not writing this because of his saintliness. I’m writing for the little dogs. They saw him and they saw an excuse to attack, they saw him and they knew he was coming to get them – nevermind he wasn’t moving. Once a woman called me to tell me her son had just been bitten by him – luckily he was sitting next to me at the time.

He was a target. And it had nothing to do with him, except for his size. Size matters – rather, perception of size matters. So if someone looks more successful, lives in a bigger house, we often think they must be cannier, made of sterner stuff, have left their heart behind. Someone less well off might have a big heart, we might not look them in the eye, but we aren’t likely intimidated or given to illusions that s/he is a powerful force.

In both cases we are losing out. Both are defined by outward appearance. Just like Borus, you can think what you like. The person you pass on the street be s/he homeless or executive may be forceful or meek. Compromises in the boardroom can be as crucial to the life of the soul as eviction from any dream.

In the boardroom of your mind, who’s in charge? You are looking at something, yes, but what are you seeing?

What’s a Dream

in rehearsal, wearing a maskPaula Josa-Jones

Many times in my life I’ve had a dream where I’m at the wheel of a car or a boat and it’s speeding towards something and I have no brakes, or I need to get out of There and I have no accelerator.  Ever been there? I also have the dream where I have a gun and the “bad guy” is coming at me and I can’t shoot – for whatever reason, I’m just not pulling the trigger. Been there too?

We all have dreams – things we want to do and have, fears we won’t, can’t get It. Like first day of school dreams or paper due, I find myself never knowing where I am, where I’m supposed to be – all that.

Some of the reticence we have is to keep us from jumping off cliffs, even when many others may be going down that path. Containment structures are not all bad – what keeps us polite is a good thing, what holds us back may not be.

It is really important to have quality control in our lives. Not just for what we consume, but for what we put out. The extreme is taking the quality out of control and holding ourselves back – fear is usually the driver there. A form of fear is comfort. We all know how hard it is to get out of a big over-stuffed armchair. It often feels like it’s imprisoning us in some weird way. A job can do the same thing. Is it too easy? The other people great to work with? Politically correct? These very proper and good things can be holding us back from our passionate selves, from what we really want to do because what we really want to do is scary.

Here’s the main rule: what you really want to do is always scary. It’s the biggest form of “calling the shot” that I can think of. When I was a kid I did a lot of target shooting. In my family no one cared what you hit, no one called a shot. I went shooting with a friend’s family and they asked me, “what are you aiming for?” I didn’t say it but my answer would have been, “whatever I can hit.”

Not a high aim there. No putting myself out. But in time I said what I was looking to hit and if I hit it I noticed I felt better and the praise or “better luck next time” I got wasn’t such a big deal. I am grateful to them and for their care of me, which often included what I took for criticism.

Just a slight tweak of words brought me a vehicle for self-esteem. The same as any sales pitch – whether it’s online or in an interview – a gesture, a choice of words and you are in or out. That starts in your mind-set – your head, your thinking process. The first rule here could be, “don’t believe everything you think.” And, most importantly, believe in yourself. Believe that you have something to say, to give. Then go for it.