Are you going to "thrive" or are you going to "survive"?

There is no “right” or “wrong” answer. Just perspective…

"Survive" is not a bad thing at all, in fact, I highly recommend it! For me (and maybe in some dictionary definitions) it also suggests "pulling through" or to "remain in existence. All good and...
"Thrive"? Thrive can mean "grow and develop" , "prosper" or "flourish" to name a few descriptions.
I don't know about you but if I had no other choice, I would pick survive.
Notice that I said "if I had no other choice"...
Ah the complexity of choice, being stuck in a comfort zone and growth. Why do I bring this up? Come on now, you know by now that I share what I am hearing and maybe, just maybe, this particular blog may be personal?
We are all creatures of habit. No exceptions. We are that way because it is part of our survival to be that way - our brain is determined to keep us safe, that IS its reason for existence. If you don't give it anything to work towards it will just amp up its trouble shooting skills. Good for your existence if that's all you are aiming for but not so good if you want to live a life where you can grow, prosper or flourish. Or as I call it, fulfillment.
I recently had several opportunities to get out of my usual pattern of behaviour and let me tell was UNCOMFORTABLE.
I have been co-training a course for about a year and a half now and had quite comfortably settled into running the pieces I felt I knew rather than the ones that were just outside of my comfort zone - I'm not talking about right out of my comfort zone but rather at the edges of my comfort zone. I set an intention at the beginning of the course to push myself to grow and my co-trainer willingly obliged. So this is how it went down (at least in my head it did!) - I'm at the front of the room with a group of maybe 10 people and my job was to introduce a new concept and get them ready to do some exercises to build on it. Sounds easy doesn't it? For all of my corporate readers you may want to note that this entire six day course is taught without Power Point! What?? I kid you not. It is possible. So, there is no slide to refer to.
This is how it plays out. I start explaining the concept and it seems to be going well, then I feel like I have nothing to say yet, I know my mouth is saying stuff because I can hear my voice. But in my head? I am saying "holy shit, hurry back" to my colleague all while looking for the nearest exit or hoping the floor will open up and swallow me in! Ever been there? I repeat a few things and maybe feel like I'm going to faint but, miraculously, it doesn't happen and my partner shows up just in time for me to pass the baton. Even writing this gave me a minor sense of anxiety!
Here's the thing that happened though, after I finished I realized that I was still alive and no one in the room seemed any the wiser.
But I was.
I felt a sense of hell yes, you did it! "Fortunately" I had a few other opportunities to do this during the course - step just out of where I felt comfortable and each one had the same "oh shit" feeling and the same feeling of "I did it".
Building resilience. Recovering, learning and adapting. Growth.
My point in putting this out there is that growth is not supposed to feel comfortable. I know, gross. However, I also want to point out that some people's definition of "comfortable" isn't exactly how others might define it. Staying in relationships, bodies or jobs that they aren't happy with because it is familiar and staying in the shit you know is more comfortable than stepping into the shit that you don't know, right?
This is actually how we think. It is safe.
The flipside to this is that there is a whole world out there waiting for you if you only come to the edge of your comfort zone to see it. Really.
Its kind of a 20/20 hindsight thing. I know, you have to go through it to see it. That's why it can be useful to ask yourself "five years from now, will I regret doing this or will I regret not doing this"? See what pops for you.
In the meantime, if you are ready to start "thriving" rather than "surviving" and you don't know where to begin, reach out. I would be delighted to help you see what possibilities are out there for you.

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Is it time to weed your garden?

It is a Saturday in July. Not just any Saturday, rather one where it is a screaming 30+ degrees "without the humidity" as we like to say. Yep, this is the day that I take a look over at a patch of garden just beyond my sunroom and decide, it is time. Now is the time that this garden needs to be weeded.
Fast forward four hours and several blisters later and it is done. Sigh, relief and a huge sense of accomplishment. My garden has been refreshed.
The next morning as I am enjoying my coffee on the deck I look over and admire my hard work and bam! It hits me...what a metaphor!
Now that the weeds have been removed, I can clearly see all the plants that have been covered up by the shade of the weeds. Plants that are already starting to stand tall again and believe it or not, a couple of them have blossoms starting to unfurl. And the space, the luxurious space that has been opened up around the plants. Space for breathing and space for potential growth that had been shrouded by the weeds. I am in awe as I look at the resilience that nature has. Just by removing some obstacles, the garden responds almost instantly to the light that is available to it and the air around it. It is able to flourish again.The word "refreshed" comes to mind again.
Metaphors. Why am I spending time sharing this with you?
How often do we let the "weeds" in our life overpower our garden? These "weeds" can show up as people, ideas, crappy TV shows we watch, too much news or other situations that can block our growth. It could be the "weeds" of other people's attitudes or opinions; ideas that you realize aren't actually yours; maybe it is someone's tradition you are carrying on because um, why again? Maybe you are knee deep in a project and realize you don't believe in it. Opinions and advice, all shared with the greatest of intentions yet, they somehow have begun to overshadow your plants. They take over and hide the light so the plants begin to wilt and crumple. By carefully weeding out and separating what is "yours' and what is someone else's the plants are able to stand tall again. The space created allows time for reflection and also time for new growth to occur.
So how about you? Is it time to spend sometime weeding in your garden? Take a moment to notice. Is it time to question something that doesn't seem right anymore? Maybe do that and see what happens.


Do you keep your socks in the freezer?

Me neither, I was rushing to get ready to head out downtown yesterday morning I realized that one of my socks was missing so I went to the laundry room to get it. Where did I look for it? In the freezer, of course. Doesn't everyone keep their socks in the freezer? It is summer after all! I can't make this up. Then, I hop on the subway to get to where I was going. I get off, start walking and after walking a bit I think to myself, this seems to be taking longer than usual. That's when I realize that I got off one stop earlier than I intended.
Why am I telling you about this?
I am going to guess that I am not the only one who may be tired and ready for a break. The socks and the subway are signs for me. Signs that it is time for me to stop, take a break and reflect. Ask myself a couple of questions. Where am I? What am I feeling? Take some time to notice what answers bubble to the surface for me. What am I getting too much of or too little of? Sit with these questions or maybe journal. Reflect....
How about you?
What are the signs for you that you need to slow down? Maybe it is not looking for a sock in the freezer. Perhaps it is finishing a conversation and not knowing what was said; leaving a meeting and heading into the next one in a blur with no idea what is on the agenda, gulping down another meal and not knowing what you ate. I don't know. I'm guessing that the signs for you are as unique as you are.
It is summer time, and in my mind there is no better time to slow down and reflect. The weather is warm, it is beautiful outside. The perfect time to take a look around and check out the scenery. Maybe sit still and breathe. So that's what I am intending to do. Starting now.
How about you? When you get your "signs", what if you stop and take some time to reflect?. See what opens up for you.

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Is there something you are ready to "put to bed"?

Do you have something hanging around  in the back of your mind that you are ready to take a final look at? It doesn't necessarily mean that the situation is going away, it may just mean that you are ready to stop ruminating over it.  Maybe it is a "decision" you have been holding off on?  A way of thinking that is getting in your way? Maybe it is something physical you can't change. Or it could be a situation that is truly "beyond your control". It doesn't have to be something big, just something that has been "niggling" at you and perhaps taking up a little more "bandwidth" then you would like it to.

I have three "viewpoints"  for you to ponder when you are thinking of your particular situation. Three questions that I ask myself.  Do I: Let it be? Let it go?  Or do I let something in?   

Let it Be

The Beatles really did have some wisdom when they wrote that song. What can you accept? Where is there something in your life that you wish was different and you cannot change it? It could be a physical situation or an idea in your head that things must be a certain way. Maybe it is a person that is not the way you think they "should" be and you still want them in your life. Acceptance. Letting it be. Embracing how it is rather than how you think it should be. Letting it be imperfect. Taking a breath and understanding that this truly is the way it is.  Now what?

Let it Go

What are you ready to let go of? This is a big question. It means saying I am done with this.  It might be a particular way of thinking that is not useful for you? I don't know. Maybe it is letting go of an attitude or idea. It could be hanging on to a relationship that you have outgrown, a job that has run its course for you or, it could literally be a material, tangible thing. Whatever pops up for you. Ask yourself. What can I choose to let go of in this situation?

Let it In

Let it in. What are you ruling out? What might deserve a second look? It could be a thought, an idea, a different perspective. What bubbles up for you? That thing. What if you let that in? What becomes possible now?

Take a moment now. What is different now when you think about that situation? What new information do you have? What choices about this situation are now possible?

If you want to learn more about me and my coaching approach, Contact me for a zero obligation chat .


Are you living on "autopilot"?

You are a regular human “doer”.

Think about it.  As you read this, just notice where you are in your day. I am guessing that you have gone through a series of “doings” that brought you to where you are now?  Maybe you are now sitting in your first meeting of the day or perhaps it is the evening and you are winding down now. Just think about it.  As you trace back through your day from the very start, how many things have you “done” today? Maybe it started with making the coffee, dressing yourself (and maybe your kids), dropping those same kids off wherever they needed to go, driving to work…brushing your teeth. Wait! Did you brush your teeth?  You do one of those not so subtle “blow on your hands” to check …phew, you smell some sort of mint…tooth brushing - tick that box.

Think about it.  All of those things that have brought you to this point in your day. How many of them do you even recall? If you drove to your usual destination, do you even remember driving?  If you are wearing lace up shoes, did you think about how to tie your laces? If you made a coffee this morning, did you have to think about every step?  I think you may be getting the picture.  We do a heck of a lot of things on “autopilot” and thank goodness we do!  Can you imagine if you had to think about every single thing you did?  You would never leave the house! 

So all good, right? Well…it is, until it isn’t.

Our brains have one job to do and they are masters at doing it - the brain’s number one job?  To keep us safe. That’s it. Done.  It is always scanning for danger and so it likes to put things on autopilot so it can focus on its job.  Sure, there are many things you are doing - driving, brushing your teeth, tying your shoes etc. on autopilot and that is great.  However, there are also many things that you are doing automatically that maybe, aren’t so great.  They are the more sneaky things that we don’t notice overtly. It could be the way you think about something,  the things you tell yourself you can and can’t do, perhaps how you interact with the “important” people in your life - they say something and before you know it, you've reacted. 
This autopilot thing can create regular human doers, almost a little like robots.  Always producing or as I fondly refer to it “getting sh*t done”. Although it often feels good, it can ultimately be exhausting and potentially not satisfying. And what about the things we are doing without thinking that could use some... umm.. thinking? Yes, those things. The habitual things we have put into autopilot that are getting in our way. The habits that we do that culminate and get us through our days. Habits.  Good ones, bad ones.  Doesn’t really matter.

What is my point with this post? That sometimes it may be useful to question and look at those things we are doing on autopilot that we would like to change. It is possible.  It starts with awareness, the noticing of a result you are getting or maybe not getting, that you don’t particularly like. Maybe the way that conversation always ends up the same way with your kid, boss, colleague, partner etc. Or it could be a physical thing.  Regardless, noticing a habitual way of thinking or doing something opens up an opportunity to change it.  Once you are aware you can make a change.
The change does not have to be huge. I love the image of Michaelangelo and his sculpture, David.  Just imagine.  I’m guessing he didn’t take a sledge hammer to a block of marble and voila -  there was David.  I’m thinking that perhaps it was more like a “chipping” away at the marble until a big piece fell off.  This is how real, sustainable change happens.  Bite sized pieces, consistently.  Both of those, in combination, add up to big results.  Like compound interest, a small investment, over time can produce big returns. 

If you are tired of "autopilot" running your life and you want to make a real, sustainable change, Contact me and together we can chip away at that thing you are ready to change.


Are you avoiding making a change?

It's rainy, grey and messy.  Oops, and there’s a new pothole that wasn’t there yesterday.  Did I mention it was rainy? And then, it happens.  The sun starts to shimmer through the trees (which now have buds on them), the rain seems to have subsided and what’s that poking through the soil…a crocus? Then, the ultimate sign…a robin!  It is spring. The change of seasons. What do road closures, potholes and rain (sometimes lots of rain), all have in common? They are all "signs". They indicate mess, inconvenience and cause some discomfort. Yet, they all lead to something wonderful and new. Spring!!

Where am I going with this? 

You know me well enough by now to realize that, yep, I write about what is around me. What I am hearing, the conversations I am having and maybe, sometimes, the things I have experienced myself.

When I speak with people it is often very clear to me that they are poised and ready to make a change yet, they are overcome with fear and can’t seem to take the step (yes, just one) that could propel them forward to the “what’s next?” for them.
The thing about "change" is, it is inevitable. Even if you do nothing, the world around you is going to keep changing, babies being born, people dying, losing jobs, relationships ending etc. Change really is the only constant, just like the seasons coming and going.

What are the signs that you are ready for a change?

Sometimes, the signs can be subtle, boredom, unhappiness and maybe less enthusiasm for the things that used to light you up and challenge you. Or, it can be a deep yearning for something else that you want but feel like you can't have. Yet, staying in the "situation" whether it is a career, relationship or believing that you can't have that thing that you yearn for, is often what people do even when the time has come for something new.
Why? The answer is no surprise - FEAR. Despite how uncomfortable you are in your current situation, it is yours. You know it and understand it and it feels much safer than taking a step into the "unknown" to pursue something else that you can't see yet. Seems a little silly when you see it in black and white now doesn't it? Holding yourself back because of fear. Of what? Ask yourself, just exactly what are you afraid of? New opportunities? A new career? Pursuing the thing that you are yearning for?
Just like the lead up to spring, making changes can be messy, inconvenient and uncomfortable and...after? That's when the sun starts to come out again more consistently and all the new growth appears. I'm not talking radical "out of your box" change but, rather, going to the edges of it, trying things on for size, playing with possibilities. Asking "what if"?
Easier and safer. Is that how you want to live your life? If so, don't bother reading any further. If not, what is one thing that you can do today to explore what else is out there for you? One. Tiny. Step. I am guessing that until you do something, those "signs" will keep popping up except...without the beautiful spring afterwards. I have heard that what we resist will persist.

We are wired for safety, despite the fact that our brains have evolved to where they are today, the number one job of our brain is to keep us safe.  Back in the day, when saber tooth tigers were actually around, keeping safe was, well, a matter of life or death.  Now, there pretty much isn’t much that is out to eat us for breakfast, yet, our brain is still stuck in the past. Fight or flight.  Useful in some situations and, for the most part, not very useful at all. 

When we get the  “signs” that it is time for a change, that is when our primitive brain starts banging the drums and clanging the cymbals…danger danger!! 

Here’s the thing - your primitive brain is a LIAR. Sure, it has great intentions, the whole safety thing, however, the warning level for this alarm system to go off is set at a very low level.  Just the thought of changing up what we do sets the bells a blaring.

So what is a person to do? Take. Action.  I know this sounds way too simple and yet, it is so true. When you feel the fear of doing something different or new, take a step.  Just one. That will quell the fear monster.  Fear doesn’t like action.  Action trumps fear. 

Still afraid? 

If you are feeling the signs that it is time for a change and you don't know where to start, Contact me and we'll figure it out, together.


You have a super power!

Your “intention”…yes…it is a super power…”

Not sexy enough? Bear with me! Take a read and find out. What does this mean and why does it matter?
When we have an "intention" to expect something "good" or "bad", our brains will act on the "intention" and our 'attention" will be drawn towards it.
Think of it this way: did you ever play the classic "road trip" game when you were a kid....find the "red" car or VW Beetle etc.? Then, how amazing was it that there were suddenly so many red cars or VW Beetles on the road? Or fast forward to when you got a Golden Retriever, you named your child, or you bought a grey BMW. All of a sudden, everyone has a Golden Retriever, that "unique" name...there are three others at the daycare and the get the picture. I'm guessing that you realize that all of these dogs, kids and cars were already there, it is just that you are noticing them now.
So how does this work in "real life"? It can work for us and against us. If you look for things you don't want, chances are, they are going to show up. This is not magic. It is how our attention works. So think about it. Where are you looking for things to "go wrong" vs. possibly "going right"? That employee/boss/colleague that you have pigeon holed because all you see is the unfavourable behaviour? The meeting with that other team that is always a "battle". The child that always misbehaves, the spouse who "never" helps out etc. Or, maybe, turn the mirror on yourself. How often do you decide that something isn't going to work out before you even get started? Whether it is the weight loss plan, the job interview, the test results etc. where are you setting your intention? For success or failure?
Thing is, we find what we are looking for and tend to filter out the other things. So what if you started looking for when the employee/child/spouse/etc. is doing something "right"? What if the meeting with that other team was an "adventure" instead of a "battle"? You may find that they actually do more things "right" then you thought. And, how about yourself?? Try it. People have an amazing capacity to rise or sink to expectations, yourself included! When you decide to set your intention to a more positive outlook, you just may find that you are noticing that the people around you, both at work, home, the gym etc. are really doing some pretty great things! You too! No joke. What do you have to lose?

If you are continually finding the downside of things and want a shift in perspective, Contact me and we'll figure it out, together.


Are you letting "what is" pass you by for "what's next"?

If this looks familiar to you, it is because it is! A message worth re-reading.

Okay, you know the drill by now.....I write about the themes that I am hearing. Why, then, am I taking you on this brief journey I went on six months ago? What does it have to do with anything?

The "thing" that seems to be coming up again and again, is a deep yearning for actual "connection". Like the kind you get with actual people: friends, partners, colleagues etc. and not the Instagram/Facebook kind. I'm talking the "real, flesh and blood" kind. Face to face. No distractions. And the question is, when was the last time you were "present" for anyone, yourself included? The following is a throwback to six months ago and I thought it may be time to put it out there again because, until you understand that connection and presence starts with you, yourself, and your situation, you are really not equipped to offer that to others. Connection begins with presence. The ability to be with what is.

Here is an actual experience I had in Italy last September. Enjoy.

I am on a train, travelling from Sorrento to Napoli. I am on a train and not the fancy kind. Rather, the kind I was warned about prior to my trip to Italy. The kind where I was told to bring wipes and sanitizer for my hands.  Where the AC is opening the windows and the “advertising” on the walls is graffiti. That kind of train.
I settle into my seat and proceed to start reading a book.
Several stops in, a couple of local musicians get on the train.  A saxophonist and an accordion player. They begin to play and I continue with my face in my book. Ironically,  a book about being present in the moment...
I see the irony of the situation and put my book down.  I close  my eyes and proceed to "experience " the moment.  I can hear the music more clearly now. I feel the breeze from the window and I am swaying in my seat as the train speeds along. I become totally immersed in what is going on. And then it happens.  I am completely overwhelmed with the absolute beauty of the experience. All my senses are fully engaged in the moment. True presence.  It brings  me to tears. I let the tears stream down my face and savour that as well.

Then it is over.

Being in the moment is a learning process for me. I am intellectually aware that "now" is truly all we've got and at times, I sneak ahead of where I am or creep back to where I was. I'm not suggesting that you can't do that, just try and spend more time where you are. The power was immense and now I have a beautiful memory to tap into to remind me of the gift of presence.

So, how am I going to incorporate this practice more deeply as I am settling back into work? Being conscious about doing it first of all. Remembering that the whole experience was maybe 3 to 5 minutes tops and how often do I find myself with a couple of minutes in my day?  How many of you have 3 to 5 minutes between a meeting or a phone call where you could sit and just “be”.  Wherever that may be? Go back to visit an experience that brought you a gift that you could use in that moment.  Maybe a gift of patience, certainty or a little escape to a trip you once took.  Try it next time you have a few minutes and see what opens up for you. Then, maybe, start extending that same "gift" of presence to those around you - just a couple of minutes, with your eyes away from your phone/computer/TV or whatever distraction is in front of you. Give your full, undivided attention. Notice what changes in you and the other person when you do this. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Grazie Italia.

If you are ready to get reacquainted and present with yourself, Contact me and lets figure it out, together.

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Are you on the run?

Running away from what you “don’t want’ is not the same as running towards what you “DO want”.

Come again? Think about it. When you are “running away” from what you don’t want, there may be an energy of fear, desperation and maybe some relief However, when you are running towards what you want…BAM!! Completely different energy. Perhaps the excitement of possibilities and a fresh start and maybe, sometimes, hope.

When I look back on my ride so far I can clearly see (thank you 20/20 hindsight!) the times in my life where I was running away from something vs. running towards something. No regrets here, just learning.

You may recognize some of the things I did when I looked back. When you are running from something without knowing what you actually want to run to, you often end up exactly where you were before. Oh, the face in the relationship may look different, or the company may have a different name, the situation may look brand spanking new and then…well… All of a sudden, that person in the relationship acts a lot like the previous person you were involved with, or the job you are doing ends up being a lot like the one you left. You get the picture? When you are “on the run” you get what you get and sometimes its good and sometimes, well, it ends up being the same.

When you are running towards something you want and you are clear, this is a completely different experience. You don’t settle for the “this is as good as it gets” lie that we often tell ourselves. You know that there is something worth striving for so you keep going until what you really want presents itself. When you are clear, you recognize and are ready and poised for the opportunity when it shows up. Notice the difference? There is a confidence and belief that what you want is out there and you are not going to settle. You are comfortable with taking the time you need for the right circumstances.

Patience. Perseverance. Purpose.

So what compelled me to write this one? As I have written before, I write about what I hear. There are so many people “on the run” - to the next job, relationship etc. and if they took literally a couple of hours to get clear on what they wanted, they would have their compass set, a roadmap formed and be poised to take their first step.

I help people stop running away from what they don't want and start running towards what they DO want.

Does this describe you? You are pretty successful at what you are doing, maybe even really successful...and, you have hit a roadblock. You are constantly running but it is to escape the things you don't want and, quite frankly, you are feeling unfulfilled. My clients hire me to challenge their limited thinking, because these smart people know that if the thinking they were using was working, they wouldn't be running away all the time.

The common denominator? My clients recognize that having a partner to work through a roadblock is a way to open up options that they can't see on their own. Think about it. How would it feel to start running towards what you want?

If you are ready to stop running away, contact me for a zero obligation chat about how we can get you running to somewhere you want to go.




Are you "stressed out"?

Happy New Year?!   By the time you get this, January will be a memory…I know, crazy isn’t it?

I often get asked how I choose the topics to write about, and, not surprisingly, I consistently get feedback about how “relevant” and “bang on” they are.  This is not by chance.  It is because I am constantly listening to what goes on around me. Wherever I am.  Grocery store, gym, coffee shop, with clients and friends etc. basically everywhere.  If you listen long enough, you will pick up what the pulse is around you,

So why am I already writing about being “stressed out”?  Right…I’ve been listening.

I can pretty much guarantee you, if you ask a few of your friends/family/work colleagues or the cashier at the local grocery store how they are, the answer will be “I am so stressed out”...sometimes not in those words.  Could be, I am so busy I cannot keep up, I have too much to do, not enough money, a child that is causing me grief, a boss I can’t work with etc. 

When I start to explore these answers with clients and ask the question “what is stressing you out”?,  I usually get one of two responses - “everything” or “I don’t know”.  And, quite frankly, neither is really useful to move forward.  Why? Because until you are able to identify what is causing it, it is difficult to tap into it.  Yes, I said, tap into it.  How, you may ask or maybe why, would you want to tap into the energy of your stress?  Because and I know this will irk some of you,  what if you consider that “being stressed out” is actually a behaviour rather than something that happens to you? When you are able to do this, then you are able to gain some power over it so you can harness it for something useful, because despite the bad rap it gets, not all stress is bad and without some stress, life would be pretty boring.

Once a client is actually able to identify a scenario when they were “stressed out” I am able to take them through a mapping of exactly what is creating their “stress” or being “stressed out” or as I call it - their strategy for being stressed- and it never fails to make me smile when I can see their patterns emerging on the whiteboard.  It may take them a little while, but eventually, they cannot ignore the story that is showing up in front of them.  The moment of oh, ya…that. That is what has to be true for me to be “stressed” out.  And, often they figure out that “stress” has just ended up being something they “do”, yes, it is a thing, a response and ultimately…yikes…a behaviour and, good news here, because it is a behaviour, you can modify or change it or at least intercept it and channel it elsewhere.

That’s when we can get some traction.  When the story appears before your eyes, it is hard to ignore. And, it is often so empowering to see what you have to “do” to be “stressed out”. It can open up opportunities to intervene prior to a situation stressing you out or to stop it in its tracks when it starts showing up.

It is so powerful to be able to become aware and then deflate the scenario before it gets to the “stressful” point.  You can identify what has to be present within you and around you for the behaviour to occur and, with practice, you will become able to channel that behaviour elsewhere or intervene (with some deep belly breaths, a walk or maybe even dancing) before the situation escalates.  It is a skill, and like any other skill, with practice, you can get better.

It all starts with considering that stress is something you “do” and therefore, something you can manage and influence.  

Want a coach to help you  identify how you do your “stress” without judgement and with zero emotional attachment to it?  Reach out.  Another game changing possibility awaits you.