Archive for April, 2010

Favorite Books for Creating Peace, Order, and Connection in Daily Life

These books are on this list of favorites because they are easy and fun to read. They help me establish a sense of focus and direction, and they teach me how to better organize my time, my space, my money, and my life. I refer to them again and again and share them with others. For people living with the challenges of ADD, these books really help.

  1. One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer, PhD.
  2. Making Peace with the Things in Your Life by Cindy Glovinsky MSW  ACSW
  3. ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize your Life by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau, PhD
  4. Survival Tips for Women with ADHD by Terry Matlen MSW
  5. The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman
  6. Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern
  7. Conquering Chronic Disorganization by Judith Kolberg
  8. Do It Tomorrow by Mark Forster
  9. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  10. A Finger Pointing to the Moon by Linda Anderson and Gregg Krech of ToDo Institute
  11. The Concise Little Guide to Getting Things Done by Linda Anderson and Gregg Krech
  12. NaikanGratitude, Grace, and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection by Gregg Krech
  13. The Natural Way to Mental Wellness by Gregg Krech
  14. Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard
  15. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  16. Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel Amen MD
  17. The Disorganized Mind by Nancy Ratey MCC
  18. More Attention, Less Deficit by Ari Tuckman PhD
  19. Getting Unstuck by Don Kerson, MD
  20. Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell MD and John Ratey MD
  21. Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

Professional Coaches: Building a Supportive Community

Dedicated to the Wild Women: Jennifer, BJ, Karen, Paulette, Jan, Mo, Sigrid & me.

It was 10 years ago I began coach training with the Academy for Coach Training (now Invite Change). The training itself was supportive from the start. Coaches are trained to take a good hard look at our own “stuff” and deal with it so we can be clear and focused for our clients.  We  students supported each other during this often challenging self-reflection and training.  We were in this together and no one was exempt from the tenderness and truth-telling we were asked to do.  Our trainers supported us by creating the space of safety and trust, with the expectation that we could and would rise above our smallness and reach for the stars.  And they were real-life role-models for us.

My training took a year.  After graduation, several of us decided to form a support group so we could practice our coaching and help each other as we grew into our new profession.  We called ourselves the Wild Women, and began to have monthly meetings over dinner or lunch.  We have gone on annual retreats  and celebrated our birthdays and other important life-events.  We have bi-weekly hour-long conference calls, where we each take a few minutes to share what’s up in our lives and businesses.  We share what we’re reading, thinking, stretching toward.  If one of us needs special support, we get it and give it.  Our retreats always include generous amounts of time (at least an hour) for each one of us to receive the full attention of 7 professional coaches who are also loving friends.

My Wild Women buddies have been a large part of why I continued to be a coach when it was so  challenging to  make a living. We were pioneers.  Coaching had not yet become a commonly known term when we began.  We were part of the  wave of path-makers, tromping down the tall grasses of misinformation and newness, forging the way to a sea rich with possibility!  That is  what we do as coaches- help people see what is possible and support them as they go for it.  This is an honor in life and it is my chosen profession.  I have my long-term partnership with my Wild Women buddies to thank.

This is where it’s at, coaches.  Become  part of a network of  coaches who meet regularly in an authentic, loving way while also being structured and focused.  Nurture it, feed it, grow with it and it will serve you beyond what you can imagine.  This is not the only support network of which I am a part, but it was the first and is the longest lasting.  And this gift just keeps giving.

Collected Pearls

These collected pearls of wisdom come from random notes I jotted down one spring day in 2005 while perusing Fortune Magazine.

  • Don’t trust the common wisdom.  Base knowledge on facts and analysis and not on “what everybody knows.”
  • when things are chaotic and out of control, do your triage; stop the bleeding.  Then figure out what happened.  Then create a plan for it to never happen again.
  • You are the average of who you hang out with.  Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
  • Real power is in having ideas and the courage to write them down.
  • Efficiency is doing things right.  Effectiveness is doing the right thing.
  • The real discipline comes in saying no to the wrong opportunities.
  • the way to overcome fear is to face it and take constructive action.

The Next Step

The Next Step:  A process to help you take small steps forward on projects, tasks and other things – with built-in time to enjoy yourself.


to break down projects into short doable tasks, creating as much joy and interest as possible.

The Situation:

you have a lot of things you want to accomplish during a given amount of time, (say, 2-10 hours) and you want to stay focused and productive the entire time.


  1. Make a list of all the things you want to accomplish during this time. be sure and include some enjoyable things.
  2. When you’re ready to begin, write down the present time. Then choose a specific action. Decide how much time you will spend on it (5-20 minutes maximum), and write those minutes next to the action. Set a timer; it is very important that you stick to the amount of time you agreed to!
  3. When the timer goes off, decide what the next step will be. Do you want to continue with the same task or do something different? Again, wrtie down the time, the action, and how many minutes to spend. Set the timer.

Continue in this manner for the entire allotted time. Be sure and squeeze in 5 minutes here and there for breaks…writing them down and setting the timer. You can also include 10 minutes reading a magazine or taking a walk or writing a poem. Just stick to the time you agreed to, and you will be able to accomplish many things while enjoying yourself every step of the way.

Note: This process also helps reign in any tendancy toward “wasting” time as every minute is accounted for.

Meal Planning Made Easy

A household with two teenagers and their wacky parents can be hectic especially when it comes to planning and preparing meals.  I’ve come up with a solution that has served us well.  It requires about 2 hours of up front thinking, but then meal planning only takes 10 minutes a week from then on.  Here’s how we do it.

The Preliminaries

  1. Create a list of 21 meals you and your family enjoy.  Include the protein, vegetable, grain, beverage, and dessert.  Pull out a favorite cookbook or a few food magazines to get ideas.  Write down the page number of the recipe on your list and put a sticky note on the page for easy retrieval.
  2. Once you’ve made your list of meals, look at each recipe and jot down the staples you need to have on hand. (non-perishables like pasta, tomato sauce, rice). 
  3. Check your shelves for staple items you need to purchase and put them on your shopping list.  Once you have all the staples, you can choose any meal off your list and only need to pick up the fresh items when you’re ready to prepare the meal.

Planning the next few days’ dinners:

  1. Go down your meal list and choose the meals you’ll want to prepare.
  2. Make a list of the fresh ingredients you’ll need to buy.
  3. Buy the fresh ingredients. 

Since you already established an inventory of non-perishables, you don’t have to worry about them at this time.  It’s a good idea to check your inventory on a regular basis like once or twice a month.

Sample Plan for five meals


  • List the meals and ingredients
  1. hamburgers on buns with ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles; Salad with dressing; milk, wine, beer, decaf coffee, cookies
  2. roast chicken with lemon and rosemary,  olive oil,  onion, garlic, white wine, Italian herbs, Cous Cous, green beans, frozen yogurt,
  3. baked salmon, dijon mustard, capers, lemon, chicken broth, red potatoes, dill, asparagus, angel food cake with strawberries
  4. beef stew with red potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, crushed canned tomatoes, beef broth, red wine, hot pepper flakes, red peppers, paprika, oregano, cookies and frozen yogurt
  5. turkey chile- ground turkey, onions, garlic, canned chiles, canned jalapenos, taco seasoning mix, black beans, corn tortillas, cheddar cheese, guacamole-(avocadoes, garlic, lime, salsa, cayenne), sour cream, black olives; lemon sherbet for dessrt.
  • Create the Staples list: ketsup, mustard, mayo, pickles, bottled salad dressing, wine, beer, coffee, cookies, olive oil, Italian herbs, cous cous, dijon mustard, capers,canned tomatoes, beef broth,canned chiles, canned jalapenos, taco seasoning, oregano, black beans, corn tortillas, canned black olives.

At this point I am now ready to prepare any of the meals I listed (plus a number of others I didn’t list).  All that is required on any given day is to choose the meal I want to prepare and buy the fresh ingredients.  I usuallydo this for 4 or 5 days at one time, including leftovers.  You can further steamline things by purchasing some of your fresh ingredients on a regular schedule like hamburger buns (freeze what you don’t use), Hamburger patties, chicken, and other meats to freeze.  In this way you can add them to the staples list.  You’ll always have the makings of a full meal in  your house.

Bon Appetit!

Virtue in Yard Waste

Have you ever stood at the refrigerator, its shelves crammed full of opaque containers, squishy plastic bags, and mysterious-looking half-filled jars?  If your fridge is anything like mine, the melange includes covered bowls housing cuddly particles of biology and other flora and funghi.

Did you ever wonder why you waited so long to toss that last bite of frankfurter or cup of dressed green salad?  Why not simpy throw it out from the beginning?  I have an answer to that.  Guilt.  It is wasteful to throw away perfectly edible food,  but once it turns moldy and furry, you’re not only expected to throw it out, but now you are being virtuous cleaning and organizing your refrigerator.  Whereas you could have felt guilty and bad for throwing the edible stuff in the garbage after dinner.  Instead you waited a few weeks and feel good, clean, and wholesome.

Here in Seattle they’ve helped us out by developing an all-inclusive waste-managment system for all things organic.  We can throw virtually anything that ever breathed into the yard waste containers.  Not only can we toss that salad with impunity, but the frankfurter as well. It all goes to the yard waste place where they grind it up and mix it into compost for our gardens.  Does that mean my tomatoes and carrots are no longer considered purely vegetarian fare?

Parenting Challenging Teens

Resources for Families with Challenging Teenagers

Changes Parent Support Network , Seattle, Washington

This is a structured, self-help program for parents with destructive, out-of-control or violent children. This program focuses on the parents, not the child.Supported by a large group of parent-peers, all of whom have “been there,” most of whom are still “there,” you can safely look at your situation, free of the judgments many parents have experienced from our culture. This organization has helped thousands of parents in the Puget Sound through support groups, outreach and educational resources. Even if you do not live in the area,  this is a model program.  1-888-468-2620

Books for Parents of Teens

Parenting Teens with Love and Logic,Foster Cline, MD and Jim Fay

Parenting with Love and Logic (preadolescent),Foster Cline, MD and Jim Fay

Emotional Blackmail, Susan Forward

Adult Kids Who Won’t Grow Up, Dr. Larry Stockman and Cynthia Graves

An Owners Guide to Parenting Teenagers,P. Baxter and C. Naff

Raising Children You Can Live With,J. Raser

The Co-Dependent Parent,B.Becnel

Co-Dependent No More,Melody Beattie

Clean Up Your Room!: 10 inspiring ways to declutter a space

Some people can just walk in the room and start picking up without fanfare.  I can’t do that. I need a fun method.  Make that 10 methods.  I have at least 10 tricks I regularly use to clean up the clutter in my home and life.  Sometimes I’ll use 3 or 4 methods for one clean up.  Other times I’ll stick with one method for a period of time; then switch to another. I combine, revise, and re-create my methods.  These are the ones I’ve found most effective.

1. Square Foot Method :  I use this method when there is a large space full of random clutter. Start in one corner of the room and literally block off one square foot of floor space and clear it, clean it, and organize it. Then move on to the next square foot.

2.Beach Pebble Method: This method reminds me of walking on a pebbly beach and picking up all the red pebbles; then the black ones; white ones, and so on. Likewise in a cluttered room you create categories such as papers, clothing, containers, books etc. Then you choose one category to start with like “clothing”.  Let your eye peruse the room looking only for clothing.  Pick up all the clothing.  Next choose “papers”, perusing the room gathering all the papers.  And so on.  In a large and cluttered room I might block the room off into quadrants and work one quadrant at a time.

3.10 Minute Method: Set the timer for 10 minutes and jump in. When the timer goes off, stop. I usually combine this with another method to make it more interesting.

4.Empty Everything Out Method: Do not try this at home alone.  This is a method I only use when I’ve got an orderly and disciplined person working with me.  It is dramatic and exhilarating to quickly empty a cluttered room of all its contents. However, you have now created a mess somewhere else, right? Many a winter I have used this method (unchaperoned) and brought everything out to our covered deck, where it stayed until July.  Sure I enjoyed my clean room, but at what cost?

5.Donut Hole Method: Climb your way to the middle of the room and clear a circle 2 feet in diameter.  Keep widening the circle until all that’s left are the corners.

6. Roll the Dice Method: I use double dice to give myself maximum freedom.  Let me explain.  Grab a pencil and paper and number 1-12. Survey the room, writing down 12 tasks. Roll the dice and do that number. I add a little freeing spice to this method by allowing myself to choose among 3 tasks. Say I roll a 2 and a 6. I can do task #2, #6, or #8. There’s something about having controlled choice that makes this a favorite. I’ll use this dice method for busy days when I have a lot of things to take care of, especially if I’ve been procrastinating. They all go on the list and I roll the dice.

7. Next Step Method: I use this method when I feel overwhelmed, depressed, or tired. I grab a pad of paper and a pen or sit at the computer. I’ll list all the things I need to do. I’ll break them down into small tasks that I can do in less than 10 minutes. I’ll pick one task and write it down, and write down the next thing I’ll do after the first. Before doing the second task I’ll look at the list and choose what the next thing will be.  This method keeps me focused on completing one thing at a time, eliminating confusion and overwhelm.

8.Multi-Task Method: This method was inspired by an efficiency coach in England, Mark Forster.  He called it doing “Bursts.”I use this  method when I have a variety of things to do and can’t get started. Let’s say I’ve got a tax return to prepare, a room to clean, a letter to write, papers to file, dishes to wash, a presentation to prepare.  I’ll make a list of these tasks down the left side of the page. On top of the page, I’ll create headings : 5 minutes  10 minutes  20 minutes  30 minutes. I’ll start with the first item on the list, tax return.  I’ll spend 5 minutes getting and opening the file. Then stop. I’ll spend the next 5 minutes cleaning the room. The next 5 minutes gathering letter-writing materials; the next 5 filing; then washing dishes; then outlining the presentation. After I’ve given 5 minutes to each thing, I’ll return to the tax return and work for 10 minutes; then 10 minutes cleaning the room, and so on.  Once I’ve gone through the list I’ll return to tax return for 20 minutes and go through them all. Continue in this way until all tasks are completed.

9. Counting Method: In a messy room, choose a number of things to pick up and stop to rest. I like the numbers 25 or 50 for this. We may have a lot of clean laundry strewn about our bedroom. I’ll count 50 items to fold and hang. Then stop or choose another number. This creates rhythm for myself. I’ve found this helpful when feeling blue or anxious about something. Just focus on the number and the item you’re dealing with. This method is best when it’s rote (folding, hanging, gathering, sorting) and not things that require decision-making or thought.

10.Container Method: While in the messy space, with this method you zoom in on a container you want to organize or a shelf, a drawer, a tabletop.  Or a box or bag you want to fill. Then one container at a time, you deal with it.