I am a master of distraction

And I bet you are too!  If you are reading this along with the crickets, you'll notice my last entry was in August.  It is now November.  Where have I been?  Well, distracting myself, to put it bluntly. 

There is nothing I help coaching clients address that I haven't addressed myself and the "D" word is certainly one of them. 

Distractions come in many flavors, sizes and shapes.  Oftentimes, they are good things too!  That doesn't take away from the fact that they're still distractions. 

This blog post is my new line in the sand.  I'm beginning again.  And as my friend/mentor coach told me when I told her I was starting afresh,

"Well, young lady, are you done distracting yourself away from your true calling?"

Why, yes, I am.  Let's get done to business.  You'll be hearing from me more regularly. 

Hey T - I don't know where I want to live!

Hey T - I'm a young professional and I don't like the city I live in.  I want to move but I don't know where.  I get overwhelmed thinking about the options.  Where do I begin?  Isaac

Hey Isaac,  I was just talking to a friend of mine who is from Europe.  One thing she pointed out to me is that where she was raised, people don't really go exploring.  They stay put in one city and maybe inherit the family business.  Of course that, that doesn't address your issue at all other than to point out that...YES, you have lots of options.  Isn't that great?

And isn't that a burden?  Researchers find that, from a behavioral standpoint, humans do better with 2-3 options.  If there's five, we get overwhelmed and are more inclined to stay paralyzed by inactivity.  To me, that sounds like what you're struggling with. 

So wadda do?  First, I would encourage you to focus on what you wish to move towards.  As a coach, I find most people are pretty clear on what they DON'T want.  That's important but that doesn't create enough positive mojo to help you move forward.

If you were to imagine your perfect life - what would that look like?  Are you like Sally, collecting seashells by the seashore in your spare time?  Are you enjoying a vibrant nightclub life?  Bird watching? 

As you consider these things, play close attention to how you feel...both emotionally and physically.  We are trained to disregard these valuable helpers in favor of a "pros/cons" list and because of it, we fail to tap into the wealth of wisdom we already have.  

Taking this approach as opposed to "where can I find a job" is going to yield a much happier life, me thinks.  I am amazed at how in my own life how things open up when I get clarity on something.  I've also seen this also as a coach.   It's almost like the universe is waiting for you to move forward into a happy life.  

I hope this helps you begin the clarifying process!  


Hey T - I'm a PharmD and I don't like my job!

Each Tuesday, I will be answering questions on a variety of topics.  Gotta question for the coach? Shoot me an email at heyt@theresalode.com.

“I recently graduated with a doctorate in pharmacy and realize I don’t want to be a pharmacist.  I’m not sure what do but am considering becoming a massage therapist.  I feel lost.”

Ann is in her early 30’s and is feeling not a small amount of pressure to sort this out, especially given the amount of student loan debt that must be serviced.  Here’s my reply to her:

Dear Ann,  First, I want to commend you on the bravery it takes to be honest with yourself instead of working in a field you don’t like for 15 years before opening that door, as it were.  I also commend you for taking action and trying out another field.  (My shoulder feels a little tight…would you mind…. ;) )

Another thing I see - you already have a track record of success.  Your discipline and brains to get through a PharmD program isn’t for whimps.  So, bravo to you!  

I would encourage you to begin with a fresh look at yourself.  Take inventory of your dreams, skills and passions.  Given your inclination toward the “helping” field I suspect your heart may be in conflict with the scientist in you.
If you haven’t done so already, you may consider doing a simple personality inventory.  I’m fond of the DISC survey and you can find some free assessments on line.  

Another thing.  Keep in mind that your professional life is only PART of your life.  Are you pursuing other interests when you’re not working?  Are you cultivating relationships?  How about FUN?  Are you having fun yet?  

When we’re in a “what do I want to be when I grow up crisis” we tend to become myopic and focus only on the things we feel are out of alignment.  When we lift up our eyes from the emotional crisis, that’s when creativity and options can flow and be seen.  Folks hear me say this over and over again - my favorite tool for sorting out stuff is journaling.  If that is effective for you, great!  If not - find something that is helpful.  Music, being in nature, training your dog, etc…

Finally, I want to encourage you.  You haven’t “wasted your time.”  The pharmacy field held some components that resonated with you and those aspects haven’t gone anyway.  It’s a process to sort out what we’re wanting to pursue and interfacing those with a career path that is more in alignment with how you are.  Thanks for reaching out, Ann!

If your pain could talk

If your backache could talk what would it say? You know, there is a reason we use phrases like, “she is a pain in the ass,” or “this job is turns my stomach.”  This sort of language goes beyond a clever way to state something.

We are trained to shut down feelings either through our own internal pressures or by family/societal expectations.  In my home “You shouldn’t” was used a lot.  Coupled with my people pleasing nature, I’ve lived the majority of my 53 years pretty buttoned up emotionally.  When I wanted to slap someone for their egregious behavior, I smiled.  Maybe even apologized for their behavior.  

Pretty crazy stuff.  

I’m not suggesting we start foolishly giving voice to any stream of consciousness temper tantrum.  At least not in the heat of the moment.  

But you DO need to give voice.  My favorite tool is journaling.  Here’s a cool exercise a fellow coach reminded me of the other day and I will pass it along to you.  

In short, write out a question with your dominant hand. I’m right-handed so I write first with that hand.  For example, “Should I move to…?” or “Should I buy…”  “What to do about Sally…” or whatever you’re puzzling over.  

Next step.  Write the answer with your non dominate hand. My left-handed writing is atrocious, btw.  It’s a cool little exercise.  It will slow down your thinking and force your mental processes to go into another part of your brain.  Don’t be surprised if you find some answers to what’s troubling you.  

But back to the pain thing.  Try this exercise with what ever physical issues you’re having. “Back, why are you in knots?”  or “Stomach, why are you so upset?”

You may realize you need to make some adjustments in your life.

I was just doing this journaling exercise this morning over an old symptom that flared up and I was quite surprised with some of the feedback I received.  

I would love to hear your results after you try this exercise!

PS After I finished this, I forgot to point out something very important.  Don’t be surprised if your body keeps turning up the volume on your symptoms if you’re not taking action on what you know you need to do!


Want to give coaching a try?

If you're like many people, you're unsure as to what a coach does, unless it's a sports coach.  But one thing you MAY be sure of is this - YOU'RE STUCK.  You can't figure out what you want to be when you grow up.  You're tired of going around the same ole thing time and time again.  You know there must be more to this life, right?  Or perhaps you're suffering with chronic pain and the doctor suggested it may be stress related. 

There is!  And coaching can help you connect with a life you love and help you achieve the things you've dreamed about.

Boy, have I got a deal for you!  I am offering an absolutely FREE 30-minute session with me for you to give coaching a try.  (I will confess a little selfish motive here.  I am working with my mentor coach on my credentialing and I need more sessions under my belt before my next session with my mentor.)

There is a catch...you must fill out the coaching application and sign a coaching agreement prior to our meeting.  There is ABSOLUTELY NO OBLIGATION in doing so.  These are a professional requirement for my credentials. 

Wadda say?  Witness Protection doesn't sound like too much fun so let's talk! 

PS Nervous about coaching but not ready to open that door?  Shoot me an email at: askt@theresalode.com.  Tuesdays are Ask T Tuesday and I'll respond to reader emails - it'll be a little coaching, a pinch of advice with a side order of fun.  You can ask me about healing from chronic pain (Mindbody Syndrome), parenting topics, homeschooling, marriage or....?  If you don't wish to be identified, just use a fake name. 

T's Journey Into Survival Hell, Part 6

Bumps in the Night

Cody bids us adieu.  He does not sleep with the tribe.  “I’ll be over by that clump of trees that way if anyone needs me.”  Speculative talk proceeds.  Does he have a secret luxury cottage under that clump of trees?  Will he be soaking in a hot tub, a glass of champagne in each hand and a babe under each arm while we are suffering?

Bedtime:  I turn in, harboring a glimmer of hope that perhaps I can get some sleep.  My tribe members are regaling one another with stories around the campfire and I enjoy the murmur of conversations.  Until someone spots a centipede on the fire perimeter and a kerfuffle breaks out. The description of “..all those fucking legs” sends a twitch through my sleeping bag.  By consensus, the decision is made to burn the little mother on a stick.  The Buddha would disapprove but this somehow brings a wave of peace. I settle back down.

O:Dark AM. I don't know what the hell the time is. The stars are beautiful but blurry images. Perhaps this is the secret behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”? I didn't want to fall asleep wearing my glasses. That is, IF I can fall asleep. Two of my tribe members are snoring. My knit cap keeps slipping off. God bless my insightful hubby for bringing it - it is keeping what's left of my brain from freezing. I decided to pull the damn hat down to my mouth and pray that it swallows me and my filling bladder whole….

I tune into Jay’s rich,  rhythmic breathing.  His Montana hunting camp days are serving him well.  I, on the other hand, regard Motel 6 as extreme roughing.

I am startled.  There is a whooshing sound and and orange light fills my periphery.  Whaaaaaa….is this the apocalypse? A hallucination?  I hear the crackle of fire.  I am somewhere between “I should take a look around and make sure the forest isn’t ablaze” and “Let it burn me.  I am in hell already.”  

The morning reveals the source.  A tribe member, whose only bedding was a Mexican sarape, was trying to keep warm.  “I use the hot rocks to keep me warm,” he says.  Only, he pauses from his narrative, it burned a hole in my jacket.  My gawd.  My earlier Van Gogh musings have now gone Salvador Dali.  

Cody appears, looking more refreshed than should be allowed.  I start wondering if those braids are really an all in one wig complete with attached bandana.  I picture a steamer trunk full of them - all neatly in a row. Cody is closing which color fabric hair ties he wants to wear.  Oh, god.  I am losing my mind.  This is what happens when T doesn’t get fully caffeinated.  

The day’s agenda seems innocuous enough.  Until Cody mentions “smoking a bowl….”

T's Journey Into Survival Hell Part 5

Helter Shelter

“Let’s discuss shelter,” our braided leader says.  I look up from my Ziplock bag of trailmix.  I’m picking out the M and M’s.  A girl in the wilderness needs her strength.  I’m hoping that maybe we could just find a soft, bug-free beddy bye, thoughtfully made by some benevolent deer.  Perhaps a circling Bluebird, bearing a wildflower in its beak, would lead us to its location.
No such luck.  The tribe decides to build a lean-to, the easiest of the structures, and we will do it by our bare hands.  The guy who doesn’t like people quickly establishes himself as one who has a clue.  “We can build it here,” he says, pointing to a clump of trees that would provide a perfect framework.  There is a consensus.  Cody nods his approval.  

Because we aren’t beholden to building codes, the criteria for materials is simple: Long sturdy branches.  Later, we will collect grass to thatch.  The Gilligan’s Island song plays in my mind.  Which makes me think of MaryAnn’s coconut cream pie.  Wait.  Where did she get the cream?  

“Theresa? THERESA? You okay?” Jay’s face is etched with concern.  “Uh, yeah, I’m fine.”  The tribe has scattered like billiards into the brush.  I follow suit.  Soon, we have a pile of tree branches and the engineers in the group arrange the foundational branches.  I’m still thinking of coconut cream pie.  Damn you, MaryAnn.  

Now it’s time to gather grasses.  Owie.  Primitive people didn’t have gloves but I bet their hands were a lot more callused than my domesticated paws.  We fasten the bundles, securing them with deconstructed yucca leaves.  Who would’ve thunk?

By now the sun is sinking lower in the sky.  This time tomorrow, I will be weeping with joy under a hot shower,  I think to myself.  A few of the tribe members are setting up camp underneath the shelter.  They can have it; I’m picturing bugs dropping down on their faces during the nocturnal hours.

Jay and I unroll our sleeping bags and I try to fluff up my flattened pillow.   Yes, I brought my pillow.  Don’t judge me. Maybe it won’t be so bad.  I try to think of some affirmations about how strong I am but my bullshit meter starts pinging so loud I stop. I want my memory foam bed. I'm worried about having to pee in the middle of the night.

The thought of no freshly ground and brew coffee in the morning brings anguish to my pampered soul.  It will be a dark night of both the soul and body.

T's Journey into Survival Hell - Part 4

We’re All Gonna Die

We are on an expedition to find the best spot to set up camp.  This involves wandering about the area, trying to recall the criteria Cody stated.  I remember the “wigglies and water” part but the other “w” evades me.  Wind? Wile E Coyote?

The tribe dynamics are sorting out.  I tend to take lead in such situations but in this case, there’s a few alpha males who begin a dominance dance.  Another young man in the group is fond of saying “This is a deal breaker.” He is taking the ant patrol seriously but I want to push him over an embankment after he says his pronouncement for the 11th time.  One of the alphas is fixed on finding a spot where the morning sun will warm his face when he awakens.  Warmth? Was that the other w?

This carries on for an hour or two.  Though I can only guess given I have no timepiece. My compulsion to check email and the time every 30 seconds or so, reveals another difficulty I must endure.  That and the fact that my efforts to locate a 5 star motel in the underbrush have been unsuccessful.

We reunite with the other group.  It’s Show and Tell time.  Or rather, it’s Show and Cody Tells Us How We’re Going to Die Because We Didn’t Chose Wisely time. I’m thinking a 5 star motel would take care of all these things in short order but that’s beside the point.

The cat herding exercise continues.  The entire group is now wandering en masse. No one can remember exactly where the chosen spot was.   I want to sit down and there’s no picnic tables out here.  I’m thinking about Daisy, my Bichon Frise, and picturing her in my recliner.  She’s probably got the Netflix remote in her paw and is watching Murdock Mysteries.  

I return from my mental excursion and discover we’ve all died.  Cody is exceedingly patient and matter-of-fact.  This Arizona sun is a huge consideration and shade must be a top priority.  I try to think of a “w” word for shade.  Aw, hell.  I am going to die before this is over.  

Maybe he’ll show us how to etch our final words into a rock. 

T's Journey Into Survival Hell - Part 3

Pee Pee Dance Time

I obediently downed my quart of water.  Cody seems like a really nice guy so far but I don’t want to challenge his edict and get on his bad side right off the bat.  And after all, I AM taking this for 2 college credits.   

One quart in about 3 minutes.  That’s four cups of water, people.  Four. Cups. Three minutes. Everyone wipes their mouths and we refill our bottles. From here on out, our water comes from a stream.  I am alarmed to see evidence of bovine activity scattered about and realize that we won’t be the only ones hydrating from Mother Nature.

Cody leads our tribe to a clearing about 50 yards away.  I try to wear a confident expression as I hoist my pack on my back and then pick up my sleeping bag and mat.  I’m not walking, I’m sloshing.  I consider myself a big water drinker but I usually don’t down a quart in a few minutes.  Did I mention a quart is four cups?

We dump our gear in a clearing. Cody is now telling us that our first task as a tribe is to find the best place to set up camp.  You will do this in two different groups, he says.  We count off “one, two, one, two,” only to have a few people forget their number when Cody indicates where each group should assemble.  Maybe their bladders are filling too.

I’m trying to give rapt attention to what Cody is saying but I’m already scanning the wooded perimeter.  Maybe behind that huge fallen tree.  God, what if someone shows up from a different direction.  

“You need to make sure there are no wigglies in the area.  Scorpians.  Snakes. And you don’t want to sleep on an ant hill…,” our leader is teaching.  Oh. My. God.  What if I pee over an anthill?

“And water…you want proximity to water…” We are now about 45 minutes into some pretty intensive teaching and trust me, water is very much on my mind.   A few of the fellows slip away to count their change.  They are back in moments. I want to slap them because they have no freakin’ idea how easy they have it.

I can’t stand it anymore.  I waddle off, probably farther than I need to go, find an area and scan all around.  This is a whole new level of vulnerability.  Finally, blessed relief.  And joy.  Joy that I have the forbidden toilet paper and that I regularly do leg presses and squats in the gym.  

Then the paranoia strikes. What if a critter digs up the TP evidence?  What if Cody happens upon it while he’s scouting about?  I furiously throw more dirt on it.  Then I place a few rocks for good measure hoping the arrangement doesn’t look too orderly and hence invite scrutiny.  I don’t know if Cody has a TP patrol to guard against contraband infractions and I don’t intend to find out.

Then it occurs to me.  My God.  What if those rocks I just touched were used for…


I rejoin the tribe who have since moved to another corner of the field.  Cody looks at me and I pray his wilderness skills don’t include mind reading.

T's Journey Into Survival Hell - Part Two

I try to pee as much as I can before departure - as do my fellow tribe members.  I’m feeling a little jubilant as my white flour preparation didn’t hinder my morning oblations but my post coffee bladder is another matter. The campus security office is our departure place and there is one public bathroom. While waiting for my turn, I can hear the fellow in the bathroom.  It sounds like he is furiously pawing at the toilet paper roll.  Not once but like 4 times.  I know what you’re doing, I think to myself.  Then the toilet flushes.  More toilet paper pawing.  Flush, flush.  SERIOUSLY?!  What the hell are you doing in there?!

When he emerges, I scrutinize his pockets for any telltale sign but see none.  I cautiously enter the bathroom, holding my breath.  What a great place for a crime scene, I muse.

Everyone, except for the “I don’t like people” guy, has used the facilities.  I want to sneak a peak on the TP supply but that would have been obvious - especially since I already went in there twice.  

“We’re going back in time,time, time tiiiiime” Cody says echoe-y. I know it’s a reference to some old TV show but the name escapes me.  Laughter ripples through the van. We’ve loaded our gear into the back of a white 10 passenger van.  My cheeks feel a little hot.  In addition to what’s in my pocket, my contraband is in a Ziplock bag and stuffed deep into a hidey hole in my pack.  I feel like a rehabber going to a meeting.  Prescott, the capital of drug and alcohol rehab facilities,  has lots of white vans.  Then the damn shoulder belt tightens every time I move and I wonder if this is a harbinger of difficult things to come.    

Mum’s the word on where we’re going still.  We drive for 30 minutes or so and then turn off on a dirt road where we drive for probably 10 more miles.  There are no other vehicles on the road.  
We arrive at our destination and disgorge our gear from the back.

Cody pulls out a few jerry cans.  “Everyone drink a quart of water.  Two if you can handle it.”  But you don’t understand, Cody, I WANT to be dehydrated.  This man has clearly never housed a menopausal bladder, that in earlier times, bore children.

The fun was just beginning…

T's Journey Into Survival Hell - Part 1

My husband, Jay, and I recently completed a 4 day class in Aboriginal Living Skills with Cody Lundin.  What follows is an account of my adventures. 

He had me with the siren call “The more you know, the less you need.”  That’s Cody Lundin’s motto for his Aboriginal Living Skills Schools.  I was doing a lite version through Yavapai College - my final 2 credits before graduation.  Two days of lecture and two days in the field.  

Jay and I arrive early for day one, imagining this is what a blind date must feel like.  Cody, a tall and sturdy cornfed boy, enters lacking both shoes and pretense. We like him immediately. I knew about the shoeless thing and try not to stare at his feet - do his soles resemble shoe leather?

The rest of the class assembles and we introduce ourselves.  “I don’t like people,” declares the big dude at the back of the class.  Don’t take it personally, he adds.  There’s three young men who need a couple of credits to graduate.   

The one other couple are repeat students.  “You’re going to love this!” the wife later tells me.  I’m glad there’s another woman in the group.  A scholarly 19-year-old and another mid-twentish man round out out group.  That makes nine.

We will learn how to build fire with sticks, make “cordage,” purify water and shit in the woods.  When he mentions that last thing, a mental alarm bell chimes.  “We will discuss the outing and what you need tomorrow,” he says.  Ruh-Ro.  Up to this point, the class description was not clear about being an over-nighter.   

I mention this to Cody and he uses a few colorful adjectives to express his frustration over the lack of clear communication from the college.  But then he moves into teaching mode. He is a mixture of a fire hose of information meets zen yogi.  He ain’t no smoke blower.   We settle in for the 12 or so hours of classroom instruction which includes the unpacking of a Tardis-like Rubbermaid tub whose outer size belies the massive amount of primitive tools ranging from wooden tools to a gnarly pair of buffalo slippers.  All are hand crafted.You can snag a women with this shit, Cody tells us.  If I saw a dude moving toward me wearing those slippers, I would flee.

Throughout his teaching, my curiosity and concern is growing over this shitting in the woods thing.  Primarily because he has promised us this will take place without toilet paper.  I make a mental note to bring plenty of white flour products with our foodstuffs.

The final hour of the second day, he spills the beans.  No toilet paper, no problem.  Just reach for a rock.  “I usually need about 5 or 6, unless I’ve been eating Mexican, then I need about 7 or 8,” he says.  Uncomfortable laughter from the tribe.  “And you should take your pants totally off,” he adds.  You don’t want to trip over your pant leg and fall into it, after all.   

Oh my god.  What the hell did I get myself into?  I begin thinking of stuffing myself with bananas, cheese and Wonder bread prior to departure.  I am clutching the list of things to bring…and the things NOT to bring.  

Approved - sleeping bag.  Not approved - cell phones.  Approved - food that doesn’t need cooking.  Not approved - toilet paper.  I read it again. Toilet paper.  TOILET PAPER.

I make a bold decision right then and there.  I am smuggling in toilet paper.

Under construction

If you find yourself wandering about on this site - it's not unlike driving through a new subdivision with houses popping over all over the place. 

I might have a page or two finished but it's mostly framework and a lot of dust you'll find right now. 

Part of this is because of snafus in transferring my domain and the other part is, well, it takes a lot of work! 

Be sure to check back soon!