Monthly Archives: January 2017

Can’t Stick To Your Resolutions? Would You Considered Getting A Coach?

pantry (2)

My past, present, and hopefully, future pantry.

How are your New Year’s resolutions working out? Still going to the gym, eating healthy, and spending more time with family? No? Would you consider enlisting a coach to help you keep them? A coach is someone who helps you to improve your performance in whatever area needs work such as your health, your life, and finding a job. A good coach won’t tell you what to do so much as help you to discover solutions to whatever it is you are working on. That way you will be more likely to make the changes you need to be successful.

I flukily ended up with a health coach a little over two years ago, and working with her has changed my life! I had been contemplating opening a business, and found myself walking around town, looking into windows of commercial establishments, and imagining mine in that space. I thought that the shop that was home to Omstead on Lawn Avenue would be perfect. My husband suggested that I reach out to Amy Cox, the owner of the business, to ask her if she had any plans to move out of her space. I wasn’t comfortable doing that. I figured I’d make an appointment and talk to her about my carbohydrate addiction.

When I arrived at Omstead, I was greeted with a hug and a hot cup of tea. Wow! That alone was worth it. I told Amy that my main reason for coming was that I wanted her space in order to open my business. She laughed and said she wasn’t going anywhere. After chatting for an hour, I chose to sign up and work with her. We would meet every other week.

She recommended that I take her fermenting class and I agreed to do so even though I had no idea what fermenting was or how it would help me. I didn’t even Google “fermenting” before I showed up at her house. This is where the notion of coaching comes in. Amy is a trained health coach and organic gardener, and I am not. I chose to listen to her and trust her to guide me. I recognize that I have my strengths in certain areas but in the realm of eating and exercising I need help.

Two years later, I have become a proficient cook, to the delight of my family. I have embraced a healthy way of eating and have begun to shed the weight that I never thought would come off. With Amy’s guidance, I opened Doodle Art & Design studio in a space around the corner from Omstead. Her willingness to share her experiences as a small business owner has been a huge help to me. I no longer need as much coaching with my eating, so I am basically on a maintenance program where I see her once a month.

There are all kinds of coaches out there that you can hire to help you when you get in a rut. A friend of mine, Dr. John Duffy, is a psychologist with a life coaching certification and the host of the Undue Anxiety podcast. This is what he said about being a life coach, “I enjoy coaching because it is very progressive and results and future-oriented. In therapy, we do a lot of working through and healing from the past. But I find with coaching, I see quick positive change in my clients’ lives. Integrating the two has made my practice far, far more productive.”

Because of the creative nature of my business, I’ve begun looking into getting certified as a creativity coach, which traditionally is a person who helps creative people accomplish their goals. My idea was to coach regular people who want to be more creative. While I haven’t gotten my creativity coaching certification yet, it is not going to stop me from giving you some free coaching on how to be more creative:

Take time to notice your surroundings, whether on a walk or doing chores, and let your thoughts percolate through your brain. If you like to do something creative, like write, alternate writing with the non-creative, editing. If you have a problem you are trying to solve, don’t obsessively turn it over in your brain, instead go cut the lawn, play ball with your kid, or chat with a friend. I guarantee the solution will come to you.

In addition to paid coaches, there are many people in your life who will coach you for free. My husband is my exercise coach and my business coach. My yogi sister is my mindfulness coach. She helps me keep balance in my life. If she suggests that I read a certain book, or start a meditation practice, I do what she says because I trust her and that is what coaching is all about.





I Gave My Kids The Talk Using Puppets

While I used a variety of puppets in my show, these two ladies didn't make the cut!

While I used a variety of puppets in my show, these two ladies, my first puppets, didn’t make the cut!

There has been a lot of breast-beating and angst about how bad 2016 was and many are happy to have it behind them. The beauty of this attitude is that everyone is up for something new in 2017, so I would suggest going to a puppet show.

What comes to mind when you hear the words Puppet Theater? Do you think of kids and Sesame Street? Maybe you’ve seen the movies Magic or Child’s Play and find puppets creepy. Team America: World Police was amazing and funny and may have introduced you to puppet sex. In 2015, I was fortunate enough to see the puppet movie, Anomalisa, after reading a review by Ian Freer. This quote is what hooked me: Anomalisa has more heart, soul and pathos than 99.9 percent of live-action movies. The best hotel-set love story since Lost In Translation.”

Many people view puppets with some trepidation, which make them not open to seeking out contemporary puppet theater. Case in point: I was telling some dear friends at a party last week about a recent puppet show I’d seen and they looked at me like I’d grown a puppet head! This is a shame, especially for those living in the Chicagoland because not only are we home to some great puppet theater companies as described in my 2014 piece, Puppet Shows Art Not Just For Kids, we will be host to the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, which takes place from January 19-29, 2017.

The only way I can describe how amazing contemporary Puppet Theater is this: I never ate salads as a young woman until someone convinced me to try a Caesar Salad at a fancy restaurant in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the 80s. It was so delicious that it was literally life changing. A whole new world of food opened up to me during that dinner.

I’m not sure that I ever gave puppets much thought after putting on a performance in my grade school talent show back in the 70s. My brother and I had received marionettes for Christmas. We wrote a puppet show, my dad built a theater on wheels and my older brother drew the backdrops. I don’t remember if it was well received but we never performed again.

Fast-forward forty years and I’m a student at the SAIC. I found myself taking Performance and Puppetry with Blair Thomas. I was attracted to puppets because I love miniatures and unlike drawing or painting, the sky is the limit on materials you can use in building puppets.

In Blair’s class we learned how to make shadow and hand puppets and practiced performing small skits. Our final project was to create a puppet show and perform it in front of an audience, kind of like a puppet slam. My fourteen-puppet, fifteen-minute show was called The Talk. As a mother of teens and preteens I was preoccupied with the lack of guidance on how to give the sex talk to my kids. I polled the twenty somethings in my puppet class and learned that none of them had ever been given the talk by their parents. That was all of the encouragement I needed!

My plan was to give a lighthearted, yet thorough, sex talk during my show. One of the beautiful things about puppetry is that puppets can get away with saying and doing things that a person cannot and once a puppet looks you in the eye, you’re hooked.

So I built puppets of a dating couple, their parents, and the STD Flower. Mr. Hand recited the five criteria a couple needs to meet before entering into a sexual relationship. I made a chorus consisting of the male and female genitalia, a condom and a dental dam.

I practiced in front of a mirror for weeks, memorizing my lines using fourteen different voices. I worked so hard that naturally I expected my family to come see the fruits of my labor. My classmates were somewhat surprised that I planned to bring my children, elementary through high school to the show. Not only was my show a bit racy but so were some of the others.

“They’ve seen you rehearsing your show, right?”
“Well, No. I thought this would be the perfect venue for them to get the talk.”
“Oh, boy.”

Oh boy is right! Fourteen minutes of my puppet show was enough to scar them for life. My daughter attends University of Connecticut, one of only two schools in the United States with a puppetry major.

“Would you consider taking one puppetry class?”
“Mom, I hate puppets. I will never take a class nor go to a puppet show again.”

My children don’t seem to remember the beautiful marionette show we took them to see while on vacation in New York, or The Nutcracker performed by the Puppet Co. in Glen Echo, Maryland. They claim to have never seen Sesame Street because we didn’t have a TV during their preschool years.

The bottom line is that seeing your mom perform a show with puppets talking about having sex with each other, along with singing penises and condoms may have been a bit too much. Sadly, I may have ruined them for puppetry forever but thankfully, my husband, who has thicker skin and a shorter memory, is taking me to the puppet festival this month!