Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Time for School and Time for Self-Care

Okay, so the kids were very excited to start school, more excited than I have ever seen them about a first day of school. With the gain of uninterrupted time without kids in the house, my first instinct was to make a list of all the things that I would do, catch up on, and fill time with completely. Then, I realized that was the opposite of what I really needed to do. Yes, I can rush around, slamming down the gourmet coffee, knocking things off the “to-do” list with the best of the crowd, and come to the end of the day exhausted, often feeling empty, asking, “Where did the day go?” Long gone are the days when I was exhausted from feeding and diapering my kids, where I was the center of their world and each moment was a milestone. Now my kids can scramble eggs, do their own homework and dress themselves. Boy, can they ever! So, what do I do with my new glimpse of freedom? How do I make it work for me, not just work me?

I took my own advice. Hard to do for a coach, but that is what I did. Often I advise clients who are unhappy with their lives, relationships or careers, that to find the satisfaction, the joy that they are looking for, they need to get back to the basics, their values. So, I spent time completing the Values Compass again featured on my blog . I followed the steps there and came up with my top 5 values, my compass-Fun, Creativity, Family, Art and Encouraging.

I found that I have spent very little time operating in my top 5 Values. Specifically, I have left little time for creativity and family, lately. So, instead of working late last night, I went to the movies with my family. The movie was okay, but to hear my family laugh was priceless. I also, have made the conscious decision not to take on some of the assignments offered to me lately, if they do not line up with my values. This is difficult, since my husband has just started his own business and finances are a bit tight. However, I have to know that when I am living and working in my values, I am happier, more rested, of better service to the ones around me. So, by taking on less, I hope to be more.

Taking care of you can mean doing less, putting away thoughts, reframing an experience, or just quietness. Cell phones, e-mail, the Internet are ever present.....It is said that people on average handle 6 times the information on a daily basis as they did in 1960. With all this information zooming at us, we may feel the need for speeding up. It is easy to understand why there is a major coffee shop on every corner and "energy" drinks galore at every check-out stand and convenience store. We become over-stimulated, overscheduled, overworked, overwrought; overwhelmed.......I see this as one the ways that we as a culture dilute our power and our presence.

So, as we have opportunities, offers, obstacles and ideas, we need to ask ourselves some questions:

How does this fit into my values?

How does this fit into my vision for how my life could be?

What will this cost in energy, time, relationships, and money?

If I take this on, what will I have to give up in order to maintain my life balance?

Who can help support me in my decision?

How would I advise my best friend in this same situation?

Is there a "should" involved? (“Shoulds” are great signals for when something does not fit into your life, but is hard to say no to because of old stories or habits.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Filè Gumbo


1/3 Cup Oil

1/3 Cup Flour

1 Lb. Fresh or Frozen okra -sliced about ¼ inch thick

3-4 Medium tomatoes diced in large chunks - about ½ in.

1 medium onion diced ¼ inch thick

1 diced bell pepper

1 Cup diced celery

1 TBS. Joe’s Stuff or your favorite Cajun seasoning

½ tsp. Garlic Powder or 1 small clove garlic, crushed

1-2 dashes Tabasco

2 bay leaves

3-4 tsp. File’

3-4 Cups Chicken Broth

Salt and Pepper to Taste

2 cups left-over turkey, diced or shredded*

(Add water if needed to fill pot.)

2 Cups cooked rice


1. Make Roux by heating oil in large non-stick skillet on high. Sift flour into pan. Cook until medium-dark (The color should be between caramel candy and coffee with a little cream.)

2. Add okra, bell pepper, onion and celery to Roux. Brown in pan on high. Do not over-stir. Flip with spatula until vegetables are dark brown on 3 sides. (About 10-15 minutes)

3. Add tomatoes. Sauté about 5 minutes, until tomatoes are fork tender. Do not over-stir.

4. Move vegetables to large stew pot. Stir in chicken broth and all remaining ingredients.

5. Simmer 20 minutes or longer and serve with additional file on the side. Remove bay leaves.

6. Serve over the cooked rice.

* You may use cooked chicken, sausage, or seafood instead of turkey.

Vegan Option:

Skip the meat and substitute vegetable broth.

Grill okra, onion and tomato brushed with a little olive oil and file’ for 10 or 15 minutes. This will add another depth of flavor.

Add on TBS tahini.


1 clove garlic, garlic powder

1 med. cucumber, pared, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 med. green pepper, coarsely chopped

1 28 oz. can Italian style tomatoes (Cento brand works well)

2 TBS. fresh cilantro

2 TBS. balsamic
2 TBS. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. chili powder

1 dash Worcestershire
Seasoning salt and pepper to taste

Put all above ingredients in blender or processor and process until smooth. Chill several hours. Serve in ice cold bowls and garnish with chopped cucumbers, cilantro, tomatoes, celery, chilled cooked shrimp and dollop of sour cream.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Set Your Values as Your Compass

Eliciting Your Values

Here is a step-by-step method to create your own personal values compass. This can be a time consuming process, and it will require your concentrated attention. If this is not a good time for you to do this, feel free to read it over now and then complete it when you can put in the time. It is worth the effort and is a process worth repeating every six months or even more frequently if you find yourself struggling with your level of satisfaction or success in your life or career.

When I refer to values, I am not talking about how much money you have, what type of car you drive, or where you live. Although cars, clothing and locations can be symbols of what are your deeper desires, more important than these symbols are words like comfort, adventure, excitement and financial security. I am talking about what is truly important to you in life.

Brainstorm a list of your values as the answers to this question. Try to reduce your responses to a single word or two that encapsulates each answer. For example, if one of your answers is, "having a successful career," then you might edit that phrase to the value of "success." Don't worry about the order of your list yet or how long it is, just get everything down in writing.

To make this task easier for you, I've put together an extensive list of values below which you can use to help build your own list. Most of my clients usually find it easiest to circle the words that most appeal to them right away then narrow the circled list further and further. There's no hard rule for how long your list should be, but I usually prefer a list in the range of 5-8 values. If you have more than this, consider cutting out the marginal values that just barely made your list, or combine multiple values that are nearly identical on a single line, like achievement/accomplishment.

So you might end up with a list that looks something like this:

  • Love
  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Comfort
  • Fun

Prioritizing Your Values

The next step is to prioritize your list. This is usually the most time consuming and difficult step because it requires intense thinking. Many people find this exercise enlightening and take a quiet personal approach to the process. However, it can be fun to do this with a partner. I encourage people to tackle it with a nonjudgmental friend over coffee or lunch. It could be fun!

My preferred method of prioritizing my values list is to identify the top value, then the second highest value, and so on until I've rebuilt the whole list in order of priority from the top to the bottom. So you may begin by asking yourself these questions: Which of these values is truly the most important to me in life? If I could only satisfy one of these values, which one would it be? The answer to this question is your number one value. Then move down the list and ask which remaining value is the next most important to you, and so on, until you've sorted the whole list in priority order.

  • Success
  • Wealth
  • Adventure
  • Learning
  • Health
  • Fun

These values in order become your Values Compass. Even though you may have a Destination (Vision) and a Map (Goals) and Steps (Clarity/Direction) to getting the career or life you want, this Values Compass builds awareness that may keep you heading in the right direction. You can be confident each step of the way by measuring, or filtering, each opportunity against these values to see if they are in line with your ultimate desires for your life. This values compass can be integral to overcoming obstacles also, but we will discuss more about that in another post.

Complete the exercise and reflect on where you are, where you want to be, and what steps you need to take between. Then, move as you follow your Values Compass to a better life.

Values List:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Accomplishment/Achievement
  3. Acknowledgement
  4. Adaptability
  5. Adventure
  6. Affluence
  7. Altruism
  8. Ambition
  9. Attractiveness/ Beauty
  10. Balance
  11. Belonging
  12. Charity
  13. Cleanliness
  14. Commitment
  15. Confidence
  16. Conformity
  17. Consistency
  18. Contentment
  19. Control
  20. Courage
  21. Curiosity
  22. Determination
  23. Devotion
  24. Dignity
  25. Directness
  26. Discipline
  27. Diversity
  28. Education
  29. Equality
  30. Experience
  31. Faith
  32. Family
  33. Financial independence
  34. Generosity/Giving
  35. Growth
  36. Happiness
  37. Health
  38. Holiness
  39. Honesty
  40. Honor
  41. Hospitality
  42. Humility
  43. Industry
  44. Integrity
  45. Intelligence/ Knowledge
  46. Justice
  47. Leadership
  48. Learning
  49. Liberty
  50. Logic
  51. Love
  52. Loyalty
  53. Making a difference
  54. Obedience
  55. Open-mindedness
  56. Optimism
  57. Order/Organization
  58. Originality
  59. Passion
  60. Patriotism
  61. Perfection
  62. Perseverance
  63. Philanthropy
  64. Power
  65. Professionalism
  66. Prosperity
  67. Punctuality
  68. Realism
  69. Reason/Reasonable-ness
  70. Recognition
  71. Recreation
  72. Refinement
  73. Reflection
  74. Relaxation
  75. Reliability
  76. Religiousness
  77. Respect
  78. Sacrifice
  79. Satisfaction
  80. Selflessness
  81. Self-reliance
  82. Sexuality
  83. Silliness
  84. Solitude
  85. Spirituality
  86. Strength
  87. Structure
  88. Success
  89. Support
  90. Tradition
  91. Trust/Trust-worthiness
  92. Truth
  93. Understanding
  94. Uniqueness
  95. Usefulness
  96. Wealth
  97. Winning
  98. Wisdom