Honoring Her Legacy

Millions are mourning the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

For many women, particularly Lawyer Moms, her loss feels akin to losing a beloved grandmother or aunt.

She paved the way and then made it easier for us to follow. 

She wanted to see other women thriving, pursuing—and achieving—happiness. 

RBG fought hard to make the system more equal for women. 

And because of her work, we can do ours. 

If you’re feeling like RBG’s death is the last straw in a year that’s been full of challenges and strife, you’re not alone. 

But letting the current circumstances get you down is not likely to serve you or anyone else. 

Here is what I recommend you do instead. 

Be Kind to Yourself 

When faced with challenging circumstances, what’s required is exquisite self-care. 

This doesn’t mean eating a pint of ice cream or drinking a bottle of wine. It means asking yourself what you need that would truly nourish and restore you. 

Write down the answers to these questions: 

  • What do I need right now? 
  • What does my body need? 
  • What does my mind need? 
  • What does my heart need? 
  • What does my spirit need? 

And then give yourself what you need. Kindly, gently, with love and compassion.

Honor Her Legacy by Your Own Pursuit of Happiness

Women in general (and Lawyer Moms in particular) can honor her legacy every day by thriving in their lives and careers

She worked hard to make sure we had opportunities. 

She refused to live by other people’s expectations of her and instead blazed her own path.

For those who want to honor her work, we can do so by pursuing our own happiness at work and as moms.

This does not have to mean working yourself to the bone.

It might even mean stepping back in your practice, if that’s what you want.

The point is that we have the freedom to choose what we want to do and then create it.

Even now.

Your happiness matters. 

Your dreams matter.  

It would make RBG proud to see women choosing to thrive and living our very best lives. 

We were made for this. 

XO,

Charise

Are you feeling empty?

When I had my second child, I found that my life as a Lawyer Mom was simultaneously too full and too empty.

There were too many demands on my time and energy but there wasn’t enough time and space for things that brought me joy, fulfillment, and inner peace.  

I had checked all the boxes. The job, the house, the family. But something was missing that left me asking: Is this all there is? Is this what I worked so hard for?

This feeling of emptiness drove me to buy (thank you, Amazon Prime) and eat (Halo Top ice cream anyone?) and zone out (I’m looking at you, Facebook). Yet I remained unfulfilled and stuck. It was like trying to live on candy bars: too many empty calories, not enough nutrition. 

The Root Cause

After accumulating more stuff and wasting more time, I realized that what I was doing wasn’t working. I would need to try a different approach.

Determined to find something that would actually work, I tried a lot of things that didn’t. Finally, I figured out what was really happening.

My overstretched schedule was the direct result of trying to live up to external demands. I was measuring my life against a fictional version of what life is “supposed to” look like as a “Perfect Mother,” “Good Wife,” or “Tireless Advocate.” 

On the other hand, the feeling of emptiness came from ignoring my internal needs and desires. It came from not doing what brought me joy, restored my energy, and made me feel fully human (rather than part robot). 

The Remedy 

The remedy for this is simple: Defining and living your purpose. And doing less of everything else. 

Purpose connected me to something larger than myself. It gave me a true north, a compass for my life. 

Once I determined that my purpose was to help other Lawyer Moms become happier in their lives and careers while also being present, loving, and creative in my own life, everything else fell into place.  

I began to life a life of my own design, rather than what everyone else thought my life should look like. 

I determined what belonged in my life and what didn’t.  

It allowed me to be enriched by my life, rather than drained by it. 

You deserve more than emptiness. 

No one teaches us to do this in school. Employers don’t teach this is training programs. It’s something that we have to ourselves. To make the conscious decision to stop what’s not working and try something new. 

If you’re feeling like your life is both too full and too empty, I can help. Send an email to contact@livegrowbloom.com with 3 days/times that work for you and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours to set up a time for a free Breakthrough Call to help you determine what needs to change in your life for you to create lasting fulfillment. 

Lawyer Moms have said these calls are “amazing,” “brilliant,” and “life changing.” I’d love to show you how you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t. 

How to Get Happier in Your Career

Finding work that I enjoyed was a huge struggle for me. You could say that I tried everything in the book. Books, personality tests, strengths tests, workshops, different kinds of coaching.

Some worked and but a lot didn’t. Here’s how I finally found career happiness and how you can do it, too.

Look Within

When I was in school one of the biggest overarching messages that we learned was that “the right answer” was always outside of us. It might come from our teachers, our parents, or our textbooks, but it was always something out there that we needed to download into our brains.

We often carry that habit of looking out there with us in our professional lives. But when we look to others for career guidance, we often end up in jobs that make us feel empty, unsatisfied, or miserable. Other peoples’ dreams can be your nightmare.

The only way to find lasting career happiness is to begin within. You’ve got to look at what energizes and engages you, what matters to you. This is deeply personal and no one can answer these questions for you. If the answer is “I don’t know,” it usually means that you’ve lost touch with yourself. (This is a real thing and it has real consequences.)

If you don’t know who you are and what matters to you, put that at the top of your priority list. Otherwise, time will pass and you’ll end up feeling like a robot. That would be a shame because there IS work that would energize you, mean something to you, and help others too. You should be doing it.

It wasn’t until I decided to make decisions about what was most important to me that I began to get happier in my work.

Long before I left my firm job to become a coach, I began making changes to live in alignment with my top values and priorities. I used my inner compass as a guide, rather than well-meaning but ill-fitting advice from others.

It made all the difference.

Let Go of the Guilt

When I was trying to figure out what to do, I had a lot of judgment going on in my head about my desire for something different:
• I have way more than so many people, I should just be grateful.
• I’ve got a great team. Why can’t that be enough?
• Most people don’t like their jobs, why can’t I just accept where I’m at? 
• What if try something new and it doesn’t work out?

But when you feel unhappy at work and then you feel guilty for it, you only spin your wheels even more. And what good does that do? None whatsoever.

Here’s the truth. Your happiness matters. People who are happy at work make a bigger impact both in the work itself and on the people around them.
If you’re unhappy, you can’t serve your clients at your highest level. When your brain is mired in negativity, it’s low on creativity, enthusiasm, and problem-solving. You also deprive the people in your life of a happy version of you. The happy parent, partner, family member, and friend that you want to be.

Try this reframe: If you’re feeling stuck or unhappy at work, it’s actually your duty to get unstuck. You doing this not only for yourself and your family, but also for the people you want to serve. They’re waiting for you.

There’s Not a “Right” Way – But There Is A Way

When I was stuck in my career rut, I wasted a lot of time thinking that I had to find the “right” way out. The one single career path that would be perfect for me. But nothing felt like the “right” path, so I just stayed stuck.

Because I stayed stuck, I would sometimes start to wonder if I would ever find a way out. Maybe there was NO path. Maybe I would never find happiness in my career! (Cue internal panic.)

Neither of these thoughts served me. I know now that there’s more than one path that leads to career happiness. Believing that I had to get it “right” only slowed my progress.

Likewise, believing that you’ll never find a way out makes you more entrenched. Even if it takes time to figure it out, you will save yourself years of unhappiness if you begin NOW. The only thing that’s required is a simple decision: I WILL get there. Because once you make that decision and follow up with consistent action, you will.

Find the Root Cause

When solving for career unhappiness, you’ve got to identify the exact root cause. There’s no other way to get a permanent solution.

Case in point: serial job changers. When I work with clients who change jobs every few years but are still miserable, there are always deeper issues at play. They’ve usually tried everything. A new boss, a new firm, a new team, a new role, or a new practice area. When those changes don’t create lasting happiness, there’s always an underlying reason.

It’s like trying to treat an infection with Tylenol. You can dull the pain but it’s going to continue to fester until you identify the real issue and treat it the right medicine.

One of my clients had been feeling miserable for years, even though he had tried lots of different jobs. He really liked his company, his boss, and his team. So why was he unhappy? We did some digging and discovered exactly what was troubling him about his current role. He also discovered that he wanted to feel more purposeful in his life and he had been relying on his career to provide that.

Once he understood the root causes of his unhappiness, the solutions became obvious. He was able to pivot his role at work after having a few simple conversations. He also made the decision to be more purposeful in how he spent his time, both at work and at home. Once we were able to get to the root cause, he reported enjoying his work and his life more than he had in years and having more energy. Years of struggle evaporated within a few months.

Those results are typical. That’s why causal coaching is so useful. It gets to the root cause, which is usually hidden in the blind spots that you yourself can’t see.

You don’t have to struggle for years. You can fast-track your career happiness identifying the real issues right away. If you’re struggling with getting happier at work, I invite you to schedule a free call with me. You’ll walk away with clarity and a personalized plan to help you get exactly what you want. You can send me an email at contact@livegrowbloom.com and let me know what’s going on for you.

What Moms Can Do Now

My heart is heavy with the injustice and cruelty that we in the United States are witnessing. 

Sometimes we don’t know what to say and so we don’t say anything.

Now is not the time to stay silent.  

It’s time to stand with those demanding justice through peaceful protest. 

It’s time to look at what we can do. 

In the world, in our communities, and in our families. 

As mothers, we have the vitally important role of cultivating the beliefs of the next generation.

Let’s plant the seeds of equality, love, understanding, tolerance, and anti-racism in the minds and hearts of our children.  

It begins with us. 

In our homes and in our hearts. 

Much love,
Charise  

How to Make Everything Easier as a Working Mom

I’ve noticed a pattern in the working moms that I coach. They have a voice in their heads that tells them exactly what they have to do to be the “Perfect Mom.” At the same time, another voice tells them how to be the “Perfect Professional”.

These two voices are often at odds with each other, which makes many women feel stuck and even defeated. There’s no way to win. 

But these two voices have something in common. They both stem from patriarchal ideas about what a woman’s life should look like. 

The motherhood voice tells us that we need to: 

  • attend to everyone else’s needs and desires before our own; 
  • always be available; 
  • always be present, engaged, and energetic with our kids; 
  • make homemade organic everything from scratch; 
  • always keep our kids entertained with super-educational, creative activities, playdates, and experiences;
  • be strong and take care of everything on our own; 
  • have a Pinterest-worthy home; and 
  • live an Instagram-worthy life. 

The voice opining about career tells us that we need to:

  • work harder; 
  • go above and beyond; 
  • always be available; 
  • say “yes” to everything;
  • aspire to perfection; 
  • second-guess and triple-check our work before showing it to others; 
  • seek external validation before we can feel good about ourselves; and
  • never fail. 

Both voices tout perfection and convince us that we’re not doing enough. And both voices make life as a working mom unbearable. 

This Is Not Working

I’m not going to discuss the number of women of women who are suffering with this. It’s 92% if you want a stat, but that’s not what matters.

What matters is: why are we still having this conversation?

The reason is that we’re buying into patriarchy and it’s ruining our lives. 

The Truth

The truth is that you can have an amazing career that you love AND be a loving, present mom to your kids. If you’re having thoughts that you can’t have both, recognize that that’s a line we’ve been fed, too. 

It’s obvious that the problem is not going to go away or take care of itself. The current crisis has made that abundantly clear. The mental and emotional health of working moms is not good. This impacts our families as well. 

It’s time to take back control of your mind—and your life.

This is exactly what I teach working moms to do in my 1-to-1 coaching program, Motherhood 2.0TM

If you’re ready to get off the hamster wheel and start loving your life again, I can help. 

The first step is to apply for a free call. We’ll talk about what you want for your career and your life. We’ll look at your current challenges and we’ll look at how you can finally get unstuck and shine as you are meant to shine. You can request your free call here.  

How to Make Your Own Health a Top Priority

As working moms, we often forget to take care of ourselves.

I hear all the time from moms that they don’t have time for sleep, healthy food, or exercise.

But I recently got a sobering reminder that health is EVERYTHING.

What happened was that I got sick.

Like never before.

My symptoms came on quickly, without warning.

At 11:00 am I was feeling fine, outside with my son. By 1:00 pm, I was completely incapacitated.

I was able to talk with a doctor online and start taking medication within a few hours.

I spent the rest of the day in bed with fever and chills.

Thankfully, the next day I woke up feeling better.

Sometimes, even if we take care of ourselves, we still get sick. That’s what happened to me.

But there is so much that we CAN control that we often don’t, because we don’t think we have time.

The sleep, the exercise, the healthy food.

Here’s what stood out to me when I was sick: I literally couldn’t take care of anyone else.

I couldn’t make dinner for my kids.

I couldn’t work.

I couldn’t do ANYTHING.

When you go through something like this, you realize that you don’t have time to NOT take care of yourself.

There IS a way to find time for your own health as a working mom.

There is always a way. Because without it, there is nothing else.

You don’t have to wait until you have a health emergency.

If you’re a working mom who struggles with trying to fit in your own health while juggling career and kids, let’s chat.

We’ll talk about all the things you want—including amazing heath. We’ll talk about what’s keeping you from getting them. And we’ll create a plan to help you get what you want. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s FREE.

Have a beautiful rest of the week.

XO,
Charise

What I Believe

I believe that every working mom can have the life and career that she wants.

There are no pre-requisites.

It’s not just for certain personality types.

It’s not just for the ones lucky enough to have a certain kind of spouse or children.

It is available for any woman.

I believe it because I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

Here are some other things I believe:

We can change the direction of our lives at any time.

What we want matters.

Staying stuck, exhausted, and drained is a choice that costs us dearly.

Life is more fun, easy, and enjoyable when we’re choosing where we want to go on purpose.

Moms deserve to be happy in their work and in their personal lives.

It takes 5 steps to get there.

Five steps have the power to change your life.

In my Free Masterclass, I’ll tell you what they are.

You can watch it here.

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise

Working Moms: 10 Ways to Stay Calm During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Here we are, in the midst of a pandemic and national emergency, with many schools closed for weeks to come.  What is a working mom to do?  Here are ten ways to stay calm.

  1. Take exquisite care of yourself.  As moms, we set the tone for our families. We need to be at our strongest and healthiest right now to lead them through this situation.  That means that our physical health needs to be a top priority.  This is an opportunity to start healthy habits that you might have been neglecting.   
    • Sleep is paramount.  Without it, your immune system gets weakened so make every effort to get enough. 
    • Healthy food is the next priority.  Sugar suppresses your immune system, so consider avoiding it. Choose fruits, veggies, and whole foods, instead.  Frozen fruits and veggies have tons of nutrients, so stock up your freezer with them. Homemade soups freeze well and are healthy, so make some big batches now to have on hand. 
    • Exercise is also key. You can take walks outside with the kids, go bike riding, or do a workout video at home, but make sure you get some movement. Note: Public health experts are advising parents to keep kids away from public playgrounds, so walks outside are a great way for kids to get exercise, too. 
  2. Empower yourself with calming tools.  Your mental health impacts your physical heath and requires attention and care.  If you feel anxious or panicky, it means that your sympathetic nervous system has taken over. The good news is that you can activate your parasympathetic nervous system to calm you down. Here are some techniques that you can try both for yourself and with your kids: 
    • Breathing exercises.  Set a timer for one minute. Breathe in for five seconds and breathe out for five seconds. Repeat until the timer goes off or until you feel calmer. 
    • Meditation.  Set a time for five or ten minutes and focus on watching your breath.  Your mind will wander and when you catch that happening, redirect it back to your breath.  There are also lots of guided meditations for kids on YouTube, if you want to practice with them. 
    • Feeling gravity.  Set a time for one minute. Notice the weight of your body against your chair or the floor and feel the pull of gravity on your body.  This is an excellent way to ground yourself.  
    • Movement.  Movement can help to discharge nervous energy.  Put on some music (or not) and let your body express how you feel right now.  Dance, stretch, throw punches, whatever.  Kids love this, too, so put on some music and have a dance party.  Yoga is also a great way to focus on being in your body.  Again, lots of kids yoga videos are available online. 
  3. Set limits on the news you consume.   There’s a difference between staying informed and getting overwhelmed.  Our brains are great at scanning for what’s startling and right now the news is startling.  It can be tempting to stay glued to the newsfeed, which can lead to anxiety and panic.  That’s not a great state from which to lead your family through this situation. 

    You can stay informed without losing your calm by limiting how much news you consume.  Decide when you want to read the news, set a timer (15 minutes or so), and turn to something else when the timer goes off.  You don’t have to read every article that people send you. Put your phone away and focus on doing something you enjoy.  Doing something fun or pleasurable will override your brain’s quest for more news. Make a pot of tea, listen to music you love, take a walk outside.  And turn off all non-urgent notifications on your phone, so you can stay unplugged. 
  4. Trust yourself.  Our mama bear intuition knows how to keep our families safe. But we’re sometimes hesitant to follow it because of what others might think.  Now is not the time for people pleasing.  It’s the time to trust yourself. That might mean that you decline invitations for play dates.  It might mean that you keep your kids home from school even if your schools haven’t closed yet.  It might mean your kids or others get mad at you, but you can handle that when you’re grounded by what feels right to you.  Trust that you have everything you need to get through this, because you do.  
  5. Focus on service.  Mr. Rogers’ mother told him to look for helpers during a crisis because they would always be there.  It’s a comforting message for both children and adults. We can also be the helpers, even from the confines of our homes, by stepping into a mindset of service. We can call and check in with people who might be vulnerable to COVID-19. We can order groceries for people who can’t go out.  Our kids can make cards and pictures for grandparents that we can send via email or text.  We can order gift cards online from local restaurants or shops that we’d like to support, to use later or as gifts.  We can give donate money to local foodbanks and charities that help those in need.  We can also write to leaders in our communities to encourage measures that would help.  Service prompts us to stop worrying, which isn’t useful. It also prompts us to take compassionate and creative action, which is very useful. In doing so, we help others and ourselves. 
  6. Prioritize.  This new reality requires that we focus on what matters.  There may not be enough time to get everything done, but there is time for the most important things.  What is most important for you at work this week?  What’s most important at home?  (As mentioned above, taking care of yourself should be at the top of the list.)  Write your priorities down, focus on those tasks, and you’ll find that there is time for what’s most important. 
  7. Plan.  If your brain tells you that you don’t know what you’re going to do, remember that you can figure out a plan.  Using the priorities your wrote down, decide your daily and weekly routines with the kids and at work.  Schedule the most important things early in the day and week, to make sure that they get done.  Have a family meeting to ask for input about the plan and set clear expectations.  Once a plan is in place, honor it the best you can.  Having a basic plan provides order, predictability, and structure, which kids crave.  Your leadership during the next few days will set the tone for the coming weeks.
  8. Play.  None of us wants this situation to continue. But while it’s here, we can use it to get a much-needed break from the daily grind.  Use the extra time at home to do something that restores your energy and uplifts your spirit.  Play with your kids, read a good book, make homemade bread, listen to music, or whatever you enjoy.  Play elevates your mood and keeps you feeling good, so it’s important both for you and your kids.    
  9. Get outdoors. If the weather allows, make time to be outdoors as much as you can during the coming weeks.  Spending time in nature reduces stress hormones like cortisol. It also provides a great way to get plenty of movement without getting close to other people.  Doing so allows us to see that the life is still happening all around us.  Yes, the situation is serious and requires us to do what we can to “flatten the curve”. But if you get outside, you’ll notice the sky isn’t falling. We can each do our part and make it through this. 
  10. Turn inward.  This situation provides us the chance to step back and reevaluate what’s working and what isn’t.  Is your employer being inflexible?  Perhaps you should start thinking about another job or career.  Feeling exhausted by daily life and finding this situation to be too much to handle? It’s time to pause and reflect on what you want for your life.  When you pause and turn inward, you realize that you can steer your life in any direction you choose.  If something isn’t working, there’s no better time than now to realize that so you can start charting a new course.  

If you need personalized help with your specific situation, I’m here for you. This week, I’m offering a limited number of Mom Crisis consult calls.  You can offload your concerns and burdens, and get some help through this crisis.  Click here to schedule your free call.  

XO,

Charise

Want to Have More Fun as a Working Mom?

If you’re not having fun as a mom, you’re definitely not alone.  A few years ago, I picked the book All Joy and No Fun, by Jennifer Senior, in an airport bookstore on a work trip.  The title resonated with me because I was feeling tremendous love, bonding, and connection with my young children, but not having a lot of fun in my life.  The book discusses the massive paradigm shift for parenting over the past century, which has changed our expectations of ourselves during parenthood, particularly for mothers. As a result of that shift, parents are having less fun, even though we see our parenting roles as even more meaningful and important than ever before.

When I was deep in the throes of my personal mom crisis, I couldn’t get through the book. Senior delves into the many challenges that American parents face, including lack of social support in families and neighborhoods, increased child care costs and cost of living, and longer hours and more demanding workplace standards. That was my reality, but nothing I tried seemed to work to fix it.

Although I gave up on the book, I didn’t give up on finding a way out of the mom crisis I was in. Just when I felt like I was drowning and trapped by the demands of my life, I got the opportunity to work with a coach. My coach helped me see what was really keeping me stuck and she helped me find a way through it. With her help, I was able to identify what really mattered to me, which allowed me to make some powerful, life-changing decisions. I figured out what I really wanted to do (become a Life and Leadership Coach) and she helped me find a way to leave my job.

As I continued on my journey and started my coaching business, I realized how hesitant I still was to make myself a priority, even when I was my own boss. I started having health issues, which were my body’s wake-up call to start taking care of myself. My coach helped me realize that I was compartmentalizing myself by addressing my physical health, but ignoring my emotional wellbeing and happiness. I finally got it: having fun, enjoying myself, and taking care of myself physically all had to be a top priority.

Now, just a few years after I first picked up All Joy and No Fun, my life looks completely different. I get 8 hours of sleep, eat healthy food, take long walks, go to yoga and meditation classes, play guitar, have “dance parties” in the living room with my kids, and go on date-nights with my husband. Music is an important part of my life now, as are community and friends. Of course there are still things that I need to do that aren’t fun — life is still 50/50, after all — but I weave fun into every aspect of my life now, which never felt possible before.

Having more fun hasn’t just been good for me — it’s also been good for my kids. Children enjoy being with their parents much more when the parents transition into what psychologist Eric Berne called the child ego state, which is a more playful state of being.  Not only do they enjoy being around us when we’re having fun, but they also learn empathy when they understand other people’s happiness is important, too.

As I continue to practice this in my own life, I’m also showing my private clients how to make time for and prioritize fun in their own lives and they’re getting amazing results.

All Joy and No Fun chronicles one way of parenting that many people are experiencing.  But there’s a better way. It’s called Motherhood 2.0. It’s a new way of being, which allows you to truly enjoy this precious time with your children, while having the time of your life. Joy AND fun.

If you’re not having fun, let’s talk. I would be delighted to help.

XO,

Charise

Lessons Learned from a Life Well-Lived

I recently lost my very dear great-aunt, Jody Naifeh.  Jody’s life was unparalleled and offers many lessons for anyone who wants to have a full, rich, and happy life.  It’s impossible to capture here all of the lessons that Jody taught in her long and extraordinary life, but I will share the lessons that made the biggest impact on me.  I hope you will find them useful in crafting your own well-lived life.

Elevate your spirit with music.  Jody was a life-long musician.  She learned the violin from her older sister as a child and was hooked for life.  One of the things she loved about music was its ability to elevate the human spirit.  Science now understands that music changes our body chemistry: music can cause our brains to release neurotransmitters and elevate our moods and our outlook.  Jody knew this long ago:  music is a universal form of expression that lifts us up. 

Whether it was Bach or The Beatles, Jody didn’t let a day go by without letting music lift her up.  Her example reminds us to use music to enrich our lives.  It’s so easy to do, but we often forget.  We can listen to music at home to create more fun when we’re with our families, at the office to create a higher level of energy at work, and to create feel-good neurotransmitters whenever we need it.  We can attend concerts and performances to have an even greater impact.  And learning an instrument (at any age) keeps our minds and spirits young.  Jody wanted people to know that music is powerful and she wanted people to use it to make life better.  There is really no downside to this simple lesson.  Find a way to weave music throughout your life and watch what happens.  

See the gold.   Jody spent most of her life teaching music to children and teenagers and she saw the gold in each of her students.  Even when the students themselves or their parents couldn’t see a child’s potential, Jody could see it and brought it to light with her unending patience and encouragement.  She did everything she could to help students who were struggling, including bringing them into her home to live with her family.  

I think Jody saw the gold not just in her students, but in just about everyone she encountered.  She wanted to understand the inner workings of any person who happened to be with her at the moment.  She asked questions about what they wanted out of life, what drove them, what they liked and disliked.  She had a piercing stare that revealed her razor-sharp mind.  When she was listening to and looking at you, it felt like you were the only person in the world that mattered to her at that moment.  

When Jody looked for the gold in others, she always found it.  After all, humans are inherently worthy.  She often reminded others of their own worth and it changed people.  But I think her outlook also gave her a rich and beautiful experience of life.  It’s more wonderful to go through life finding gold than finding flaws.  Try it.  See if you can find the gold in the people around you and in strangers you meet and watch what happens when you do.    

Say “Yes!” to life.  Jody squeezed every last ounce out of her life, by embracing opportunities every step of the way.  When Jody’s husband passed away nearly 20 years ago, the family held a celebration of his life, which included a performance of their daughter’s Irish rock band, Larkin.  At one point during the performance, Jody’s daughter invited her to get her violin and join the band onstage.    

It would have been very easy for a 70-year old widow to decline that invitation, but Jody knew that music was healing and that she had plenty of life left to live.  Jody said “yes!”, got her violin, and embraced life—the joy and the pain.  Even though she had been a classically-trained violinist, she quickly adapted to the fiddle and she played music with that band for the next 18 years of her life.  Her fiddle playing landed her a spot in the National Fiddlers Hall of Fame in 2019.  Her final performance with the rock band occurred months before her death, when she was 88 years old and in a wheel chair.  

Jody also took every opportunity she could to travel and explore the world.  In her 70’s and 80’s, she organized and led international trips with her orchestra students.  In her 80’s, she traveled to New York on several occasions to watch some of her students perform at Carnegie Hall.  She kept learning, playing music, and reading voraciously until her final days, pushing the limits of her human body.  As a result, her life kept getting richer with time.  Jody’s example reminds us that it’s never too late to do anything.  You can always say “yes!” to life. 

Believe you can—and you will.  Jody believed that she could do pretty much anything and saw no good reason to think otherwise.  It did not matter if there was no precedent for what she wanted to do: she just went after what she wanted, knowing that it would work out.  And it always did.  

She saw no reason why she could not combine motherhood and career at a time (the 1960s) when mothers were expected to focus 100% on their families.  Jody was a very loving and present mother, but I think she also knew that she would be a happier mother if she also lived out her passion for her work.  

When her three children were toddlers and preschoolers, she hosted group art classes at her home.  When they grew a little older, she created summer camps for her violin students.  Years later, when those students were in high school, she saw no reason why she could not create a city-wide honors orchestra, providing a forum for dedicated students to perform at venues all over the city.  She led that orchestra until her final days, for the past 41 years and her daughter and granddaughter are continuing her legacy.  At age 50, Jody decided to go back to school (even though she already held a bachelor’s and a master’s) to get a degree in Music Performance, because that was what she loved.  

Jody’s example serves as a reminder to us all: there is really no good reason to not go for what you want.  Belief + action = results.  

Hard work and fun go together.  Jody was definitely not afraid of hard work, but that work was infused with a spirit of play and joy that was contagious.  She wove dedication and love together beautifully in her work.  

When I was in high school, I had the privilege of joining her orchestra in one of their summer camps.  I saw first-hand how hard she worked to prepare her lessons, but it was also evident that her work was truly fun for her.  The enthusiasm that she conveyed to her students was palpable and fun and enjoyment were the driving force of the entire experience.  After a morning of hard work, she wanted us to have fun by swimming at her pool, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company.  

She brought humor and fun into every aspect of her life.  She believed that was how it was supposed to be.  I agree with her:  life is supposed to be fun.  If you’re not having fun, step back, figure out why, and solve for that.  It’s absolutely essential for a well-lived life.      

Show up every day.  Jody showed up for her life 100%, every day.  She practiced her violin every single day, without fail.  One summer, she had asked her students to commit to practicing every day.  She lived up to her end of the agreement and practiced even when traveling on a family road trip, when she and her daughter would play their violins at rest stops to ensure they fulfilled their daily commitment.  

She stayed active throughout her life—I remember seeing her go jogging in her late 70s.  She would take long walks on her 80-acre ranch well into her 80’s.  Even in her later years, Jody taught a full roster of private students for violin lessons while also maintaining a full performance schedule.  Some days she would teach in the morning, play an afternoon recital at a local nursing home, then perform at an evening wedding or at an Irish pub with the rock band.  If she said she was going to be there, she was.  She showed us that showing up is a way of life and she didn’t entertain any other option.   

Value your time on Earth.  One of the first questions that Jody would ask me every time I saw her was: “Are you happy? Are you enjoying what you’re doing?”  For many years, that answer was “no” because I felt lost in my career but was uncertain of what to do next.  There were times when it felt hopeless.  But Jody never gave up on me and she wouldn’t let me give up on myself, either.  She knew that our time on Earth is valuable and that we need to enjoy it by finding work that we love.  

During those years of uncertainty and doubt, Jody always told me the same thing: “Kissy, (my childhood nickname), you’ve GOT to find what you love.  You’ve GOT to be happy in your work!”  She was a source of constant encouragement, which prompted me to keep looking.  I read hundreds of books.  I got all kinds of career testing, skills assessments, personality tests, different types of career counseling and coaching.  And after years of searching, I finally found the work that I feel called to do: my purpose is to help others find and live their purpose.  

During one of my last conversations with Jody, I was living in Spain with my family for a year, having made the decision to leave my job and start my own coaching business.  I was finally doing what I loved.  When we spoke, Jody was very weak, but she still asked me with conviction the same question: “Are you happy?”  I was relieved to be able to finally and sincerely tell her, “Yes, Jody. I am happy.  I love what I’m doing.”  She responded “good”, finally satisfied.    

I believe that it was so important to her that others were happy in their work because she was happy in her work.  Once you know what it’s like to look forward to each day, you want to share that with everyone.  It was clear that she taught that lesson not just to me, but to many, many others.  Hundreds of her students attended her funeral, many having traveled from all over the country, and they shared stories of how she had changed the trajectory of their lives, just like she did for me.

This was a way of life for her because she knew that our time on Earth is valuable.  She also knew that what world needs most is people who love what they do, love each other, and lift each other up.  

That is exactly what she did during her time on Earth and I believe it was her greatest contribution.  When you inspire hundreds of people to live their best lives, those people go on to do the same thing in the lives of others and the impact of that ripples far beyond the reach of any one person.  

I believe that Jody would have wanted you to know this:

Your time on Earth is valuable. Your contribution matters. Your happiness matters.

Live in alignment with that truth and you will ensure that your own life is indeed well-lived.