Softening Around the Edges

We have lived in a masculine world for many centuries. It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when feminine energy was the stronger force on the planet. We live in a time where slowly, ever so slowly, the pendulum is shifting in a feminine direction. Masculine (yang) energy includes traits like drive, independence, aggression, directness, logic, arrogance, competitiveness, less emotion, reactivity, and confidence.

Feminine (yin) energy includes traits like empathy, expression, honesty, sensitivity, love, kindness, relaxing, and nurturing.

Susan Grace Carroll, Life Coach, Bend, OR

We possess both feminine and masculine traits, regardless of gender, and most of us tend to be more of one than the other. Both parts need to be expressed to live a balanced life.

We don’t want the pendulum to swing too far towards the feminine because then we’ll be out of balance again. What I love about women taking a stand more and more for what they believe in and being heard is that their words and actions come from a place of clarity, caring, awareness, and mindfulness. They are not rushing in to make drastic quick changes that masculine energy would do. No, they are slowly, patiently pushing for the changes that will bring more unity, peace, and prosperity to a world that is desperately in need of all of the above.

I too was raised in a world, a family, that felt more masculine than feminine. I have spent (and continue to spend) time looking at ways I show up in my life for myself and other people. Am I balancing those two vital parts of myself? I think I still often lean towards the masculine. It has been ingrained in me from an early age. But as my own life experience has shown me time and time again, that masculine push and drive places me in a place of familiarity (my go to) because I’m so used to it, but at the same time it feels uncomfortable, like I’m trying to be someone I’m not. My husband and I have been working on an issue in our marriage. All relationships have issues (no?). But it wasn’t until I stepped back and noticed how masculine I was acting that I realized we weren’t going to get anywhere in moving toward the same direction together. I needed to soften around my edges and notice what feminine qualities of mine needed to come into play. Already there is a sense of relief and relaxation in allowing that part of me to just be there. I had to soften. My edges were too sharp, cutting, and painful. I think for both he and I.

Are you more yin or yang? What qualities do you need to bring in and which ones do you need to decrease?

Leave a comment on the blog below if you’d like.

If you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”, please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

~ Susan

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

A different kind of adventure

There’s that Woody Allen quote that goes “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”. And yes, I did have plans. Pretty big ones. Like to hike 100 miles of the AT with my good friend. And then I got a call. Less than 24 hours before my flight left, my friend called to say she had flown to be with her father as he was at the end of his life. And boom, just like that, all those plans vanished.

I of course completely understood and supported her in being with him. The timing of it was really quite wonderful. At least we weren’t in the middle of the trail when the call came. THAT would have been much worse.

But of course I was in shock and denial for a bit. All that planning and preparation, all those hours and miles hiking with a pack, ALL that backpacking food I had organized. I was deeply sad for my friend and deeply disappointed about the loss of our trip. I liken it to training for a marathon. You’ve spent so much time getting ready for the big day, then the morning of, you wake up with the stomach flu, vomiting out one end and diarrhea out the other. I sat with that disappointment for several hours. I felt it. Just like I tell my friends and clients. You have to feel what you’re going through. Not push it away. It must get it’s due.

But I had other options. My husband said, “the weather is supposed to be gorgeous here and we have a trillion trails you haven’t been on. You can still go”. Well of course I could.

So I spent the day I would have been flying back east coming up with a plan that would allow me to backpack for 10 days, with stops at my car to resupply as needed, and taking one night at home to shower and sleep in my bed.

And that’s what I did. I spent two nights out on my own, then a fabulous friend joined me. We had amazing weather with only a couple of chilly nights where hats and gloves were needed. We hiked on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) as well as several trails that would weave in and out of it. We stayed at a different lake every night. We had amazing views of lava, and glaciers, and rainforest, and burnt forest, creeks and waterfalls, and bouts of strong wind. We saw some very cool frogs and interesting mushrooms and fungi. We only had to hike a short distance and the terrain would constantly change.

Susan Grace Carroll, Life Coach, Bend, OR

Susan Grace Carroll, Life Coach, Bend, OR

Susan Grace Carroll, Life Coach, Bend, OR

Other than a few sprinkles one day we never had rain. And as luck would have it, the one night we got off the trail it rained hard in the mountains with snow falling at the higher elevations. We missed the experience of being soggy.

When you’re out there you have a limited focus. Getting from point A to point B, making sure you eat enough food, finding water to filter and drink, and not getting lost. You don’t think about the war on terror, the drought, or whose running for president. It’s you, the trail, and everything you have on your back.

I could have easily scrubbed the whole thing and decided not to do anything, but that just didn’t seem like a good option. I would have let myself down. Instead I thought about my friend every day. I tried to honor the time we would have spent together.

In the end, I was laughing. Those initial plans got thwarted but I came up with plan B.

What do I know to be true right now?

Not all of our plans work out the way we’d like. That doesn’t mean there’s a problem. In fact I think the universe orchestrates everything beautifully and perfectly, even if we can’t see it or understand why. My friend needed to be with her dad and I needed to be here. I don’t know why and it doesn’t even matter.

We’re making a plan to hike the AT in the spring. Let’s see if the universe allows that one to go through. ;)

Next week I’ll share what I learned backpacking for 10 days. Maybe some of the things that surprised me will surprise you too.

Leave a comment on the blog below if you’d like.

If you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”, please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

~ Susan

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Sometimes you've got to change it up

I’ve been sending out my newsletter weekly for 3 years now. THREE YEARS.

I so enjoy it. We are all one big human family as we navigate this crazy life together. I love getting responses from you about what resonates. Often some of you will write and tell me I’m in your head and either thinking what you are, or having the same experience. It is always good to be reminded how deeply connected we all are. We really do go through the same emotional experiences even if the outside circumstances look different for each of us.

Ah- life is truly universal!

Susan Grace Carroll, Life Coach, Bend, OR

The last few weeks a shift has taken place in me (though I can’t quite put my finger on it). I feel this need to take a hiatus (a sabbatical if you will) from sending out my newsletter for about a month. The month of July to be exact.

I don’t really know exactly where it’s coming from or why. It makes no logical sense really.

The universe is mysterious like that. But I have full faith in its process and know that when I feel this strongly about something I need to pay attention. I haven’t mentioned it but this past month I’ve been in physical therapy for treatment of a neck, shoulder, hip, foot issue I’ve had for a few years. As they’ve been helping me unwind the patterns in my physical body that aren’t working I’ve noticed that not only is that shifting, my soul is trying to speak to me more and more about what needs to be healed.

Our bodies hold on to emotional wounds. Whether created by others or our own minds. That process of discovery needs the fewest distractions and I need to honor it.

But I don’t want to leave you hanging. Because if you’re a ponderer like me, you need some good stuff to chew on, to let percolate.

So I’ve got a question for you to sit with and do what you will for the next month.

What changes do you need to make?

This is an open-ended question.

This could be external. Or internal.

In your way of doing. Or being.

It’s not a light question. Or it could be.

Only your deepest self at the soul level knows if something needs to change.

My soul told me to step away from my newsletter for a month.

What is yours telling you?

I’ll check back in August.

Happy Pondering!

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life


The fear of regret stops so many people I know from taking action towards something they want in their life. This shows up in many forms. And the are all just thoughts. What if I choose A and things get worse than they are now? Regret.

What if I choose B and then I’m stuck with something that wasn’t what I wanted or expected?

Regret. regrets behind you

Yep, taking steps towards making a change can be really scary. It’s scary because we have an end goal and result in mind. If the change doesn’t bring about the exact end goal and result we were envisioning, we tend to think we either made a bad choice, or the wrong choice. And we see it as failure. Then regret kicks in.

I see two options here. You either stay where you are and nothing changes. Think about the rest of your life with you not making any changes. How does that feel?

Or you move in a new direction and something will change in some way. How does that feel?

Would you rather stay feeling the way you do know or take the chance that something awesome could be around the corner?

Here’s the thing. I don’t care how much you think something through, plan it out, plot it out, and do everything you can to control the outcome so it is everything you hope and imagine, it will rarely come out that way. It could, but chances are it won’t. Because you can’t plan for the unforeseeable. You just can’t.

This doesn’t have to be a problem though. Because what your brain doesn’t account for are all the possibilities that could happen because you went a different direction or shifted something up. Because you decided to go to that concert by yourself, you met a really cool person who became a great friend. Because you decided to change jobs to find a better fit, you ended up doing what you love every day.

As one of my favorite coach mentors. Brooke Castillo says, Take committed action towards something you want. Because even if you get something you don’t want, you will have learned the skill of committing to something and working towards it all out. And that you can apply to anything else in your life. She is SO right.

Regret is the wish that something hadn’t turned out the way it did. What a waste of energy. Yes, it’s important to honor our feelings about what happened and feel sad, angry, disappointed, or whatever it is you need to feel. Definitely.

But then you’ve got to move forward. And make new decisions in new directions.

You can either stay where you are or move in a different direction. You get to decide if you’d rather regret doing nothing, or take the chance to bring about something amazing.

What can you do to eliminate regret? If you choose what is important to you, what truly matters, in all of your decisions for your life, then regret doesn’t stand a chance.

And that, is totally your choice.

If you’d like, Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Nurturing Your Adventuresome Side

On some level, we all like, and want, a little adventure in our lives. Doing the same thing day to day can get monotonous. So how do you spice things up? What I’m going for here is adventure. Something you’ve never done before. Maybe it’s going to a wine tasting, listening to a band that plays a different kind of music you’ve not heard before, or seeking out something just because you’ve just never done it and would like to try.

Last weekend my husband and I sought out a new skiing trail we’ve never been on before. We’ve had limited snowfall and didn’t know what the conditions would be like so we took our hiking boots, snowshoes, and cross country skies with us. We really had no idea what to expect.

We got out to the trail and found a fair amount of snow. We chose to use our skis. The snow conditions weren’t great. It was slow going. We didn’t know what would be around the next corner.

It felt like an adventure. It was so very quiet out there. We saw only a couple of other people. The sun peeked in and out of the clouds. Then the sky completely clouded over with big dark gray puffs as a backdrop, making the white snow against it look so dramatic and beautiful. Almost like a painting, except it was real. white snow gray clouds

I had such a good time. Just being out in the woods, getting some exercise, enjoying the quiet, and out on a trail that wasn’t really groomed.

I’d never been there before.

That’s what makes up an adventure I think. An element of newness, of surprise, of not knowing what will come next.

An adventure doesn’t have to be grand. Or it could be.

But we need adventures. They helps us feel more alive.

And in this day of busyness and always something to do-ness, maybe an adventure is just what you need.

What’s calling you?

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Be thoughtful with your time

A woman walked by me in the parking lot of our local shopping mall and I overheard her say on her cell phone, “there just isn’t any down time.” A participant in the yoga class I was in was talking with the instructor after class saying, ”I can’t wait for the holidays to be over”. As a life coach I so wanted to pull them aside, teach them some awesome coaching tools, and say, “it doesn’t have to be this way. You get to choose where you place your time.”

Case in point. Just this week I was working on my to do list. I happened to be out walking my dog and thinking about certain things I wanted to have done in a specific amount of time. My poor brain was spinning, my chest got tight, my breathing became more shallow, and I felt overwhelmed. I’m guessing the two women I mentioned above felt some form of overwhelm too. woman-looking-at-watch

Here’s what I did to help. And it is exactly what I would teach any of my coaching clients, as well as both of those women.

First, I stopped and recognized that I WAS feeling overwhelmed. You’ve got to know what’s going on with you in that moment if you want to shift it.

Second, I asked myself what was I thinking about right before I started feeling overwhelmed. I realized I was thinking about all the things I wanted to get done in a certain time frame. AND that it seemed like way too much to squish into that time period. When I thought I had to get all those things done, the feeling of stress and overwhelm arrived. Bingo. And for me, it wasn’t that there wasn’t enough time. It was that I was trying to do too much for the time I had.

Third, I created the shift. The important question I asked myself was, what can I drop from my to do list that would help me feel more free and relaxed, and enable me to get things done without trying to beat the clock? I found three things on that list of mine that if I dropped them, for now, would make my life feel SO much more relaxed, unrushed, and without overwhelm. So I promptly dropped them. To be done later.


My brain stopped swirling, my chest opened up, and my shoulders relaxed. Now we’re talking.

Believe it or not, even during this Holiday time of year, not everything on your to do list has to get done. I challenge you, if you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed about all you think you need to do, to ask yourself, what can I drop? Maybe it isn’t permanent, but for now, for today.

So be thoughtful with your time. I promise, it can make all the difference.

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Taking Your Wise Self with You into the New Year

Take a moment to think about where you were and who you were 5 years ago. Now take another minute to think about where and who you were just one year ago.

Fast forward to today as we approach a brand new year.

Can you see your personal growth? Can you see how much you’ve learned over time? Can you see how much WISER you are now? Great_horned_owl_face

Day after day after week after month after year, we are constantly going through change. Whether it is a choice we make about a job, a shift we make in a relationship, or possibly when a loss has hit us and it’s out of our control. With each new change, if you are willing to look at how you show up and who you are through it all, you’ll notice patterns. When this happens, this is how I react. When that happens, this is how I treat others. When I’m stressed, this is how I treat myself. There is huge opportunity for growth in noticing how we operate. What works. And, what doesn’t.

It’s quite fascinating really, to be a scientist of your own life. To really look at your actions and behaviors with various people and during all sorts of situations.

With this new year approaching, many of us make plans and goals for all the things we’d like to change to make the new year “better”.

I think one of the huge components of creating a better and/or different 2015 is to take all that you’ve learned over time and bring your wiser self with you.

As my mentor Martha Beck reminds us in her book Finding Your Own North Star; “the cycle of change we all go through repeatedly during life follows a circular course but it isn’t a flat circle. In 3 dimensions, it would be shaped like a corkscrew. Every time you go around the cycle, you move forward a notch, becoming more confident, capable, and wise”.

That’s the person you want to think about as you enter a new year. That part of you who has learned so much over time. That part of you who has already made changes in your patterns and shows up in the world in a different way to create a different experience. That part of you who has let go of what no longer serves you. That part who takes what they’ve learned and makes positive changes for their life from that place.

If you ever wonder if you are more wise, just spend some time thinking about your younger self and the choices you made back then. I’m betting you made those choices based on who you were then and what you knew then. You are still that person now, and so much more.

Move into this new year with the strength and courage of the person you have become over time. You have more knowledge, experience, and wisdom. You do.

And that wisdom; it can make all the difference.

Look out 2015- Here you come!

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Giving up Perfection when you're trying to be Creative

I love ideas. I have a lot of them. We just picked out our Christmas tree and brought it home. While some branches were being cut to make the tree fit into the base I had a great idea. I’ll use the extra branches to make a wreath we can put outside our front door. Brilliant idea!

My husband brought in some wire from the garage, and since I didn’t know how to make a wreath I Googled it. Martha Stewart makes some might fine, perfectly shaped, symmetrical wreaths!

I tried following the directions and my branches didn’t resemble anything like her wreath, or even A wreath. My husband gave me another idea. I tried that. Nope. Not so good.

Then I got frustrated. I just wanted to make a nice simple wreath using the greenery from my tree without spending a ton of time or money. I am not a moron. I should be able to figure this out. Dammit!

Then, my snarky brain kicked in. Just give up. You aren’t creative. Go to the crafts store and buy a pre-fab round foam form to attach the branches to and get it over with.

But instead of giving up and going to the store I stepped away and took my dog for a walk. Note- one of the best things you can do when you have a problem you can’t find a solution for is to step away for a while. It gives your subconscious mind some wiggle room to actually come up with a way to fix the problem.

I said to myself, I know I can do this. It’s just a silly wreath. So I proceeded to walk in the rain with no particular thoughts in my head. Then out of the blue, the ideas for how to fix my problem started coming. I had at least 2-3 ideas by the time I got home.

I put the wreath up, as is, just to see what it looked like. It wasn’t even close to what I envisioned but it was a start.

Wreath #1

Them I started to cut out the branches in the middle so my wreath would have a hole. It started to take shape until I cut one branch, which separated one whole side of the wreath. Instead of having a wreath with a round hole in the center, I now had one that looked sort of like a C. I said aloud,” that is so not what I had in mind”.

Wreath #2

Then something completely unexpected and fabulous happened.

I remembered that my last name is Carroll. Carroll starts with a C. This is the Carroll household. So why couldn’t my wreath be a big C with a red bow. I mean, why the hell not?

This all made perfect sense to me as I looked at this C wreath. It was totally organic. It didn’t sit on the wall perfectly flat. Some branches stuck out here and there, kind of like my hair often does. This wreath was completely me. It looked nice but not perfect. Care was put in to creating it but the perfection of a Martha Stewart wreath was left out. My life is messy, not perfect, filled with joy and sorrow, and great ideas that don’t always end up looking like I thought they would, or should.

I am quite pleased with my creation. I bet it won’t look like anything else in my neighborhood. And isn’t that often what we notice most? Things that look different but are still beautiful. All because I stepped away from the problem and allowed solutions to come through, then followed through on those ideas, which led to the organic creation of my unique Christmas wreath.

And I’m happier with the outcome, maybe even because, it doesn’t look like a Martha Stewart wreath.


Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Actually enjoying the last two months of the year

We live in a society where if you aren’t “doing” something, you’re wasting your time. I think it’s malarkey, but that’s for another post. We’re now headed into that time of year when people DO DO DO, way beyond their human capacity. How many people do you know that say,

“I really wish the holidays would last another month.” NO ONE. Why? Because not only are most of us DOers in our normal every day lives the rest of the year, we push ourselves into OVER-DO’ER-DOME for the last 8 weeks of it. Then we end up exhausted, sick, and entering the New Year with glazed eyes, thankful the holidays are just freaking over. Christmas stress - busy santa woman

The key to regaining some balance is knowing when you have too much going on and gently re-aligning your life. A good friend of mine uses this metaphor when she knows she’s trying to do way too much and feels overwhelmed. Picture driving your car on a 2-lane road. If you get too close to the left side you may run into another car head on. If you get too close to the right you might run off the road altogether. You’ve got to stay somewhere in the middle of your lane to keep you safe.

How do you do this in your life? By tuning into that physical body of yours.

Some possible signs of too much doing include your head feels like it’s going to spin off your neck, you feel overwhelmed and your brain feels like mush, your heart pounds, your breathing is fast and shallow, you are rushing from one thing to the next trying to get it all done, or, you think there aren’t enough hours in the day and it makes your head hurt or your stomach knot up. Any bells ringing here?

The wisdom of our body is much greater than that of our minds. How do I know? Tell me the last time you were in bed with the flu and whether you could get up and do all of your normal activities with full energy. I’m pretty sure your answer is NO. When your body has had enough (and your mind will push it to its limits) it will shut itself down to force you to rest or make a change. It’s talking to you, all-the-time. But most of us don’t listen. Because our minds are trying to run the show. Everything MUST get done. NOW.

And the truth is, it doesn’t. If you were in a car accident one hour from now and ended up in the ICU with a punctured lung and 12 broken bones, and those cookies you planned to have baked by 4pm didn’t get baked, how important would that be?

And if you weren’t in a car accident one hour from now and those cookies didn’t get baked by 4pm? Actually. Not important either. Because if they didn’t get baked, so what?

That’s the point. Our brains give everything red alert, high importance meaning.

And how important are most things?

That’s of course for you to decide, but I’m going to bet that if you made a list of what was really important to DO by the end of the year, your list could be cut by 2/3’s. How do you know what’s important? Check with your physical body. The things that feel light, airy, and open are important. The stuff that feels heavy, closed, and dark, isn’t. Try it out.

Do you know what that would leave time for? BEing. Nurturing yourself in ways that feel really good to you. You already know what those ways are. We all do.

The result?

The important things get done, you feel more rested and relaxed, AND you don’t end up in bed with the flu because your body forced your mind to listen when it wouldn’t. Maybe you’ll actually enjoy the holidays.

Extra bonus! You might just carry this through into the next year.

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

When moving forward is hard (and you don't really want to)

A few years back, a good friend of mine lost her entire house, basically everything she owned, and one of her dogs, in a house fire. Recently she shared with me a little bit about that time in her life. She said, “moving forward seemed impossible, but going back was impossible.” This is how I’ve felt in the last month since losing my dog child Kona. I want so much to turn the clock back and have my happy, healthy, furry kid again. Since I can’t do that, I’m trying to move forward. Albeit reluctantly. Let life happen to you. Life is in the

Maybe you’ve been here before. Something major, even earth shattering, happened in your life that you didn’t see coming. Your new normal A- doesn’t feel normal at all, and B- feels really sucky. Then C- you wonder if your life will ever feel great again. You hope it will but you aren’t really sure.

I decided to share the experience I’m going through at this time in hopes that something might resonate for you either now, or in the future.

I’m in the middle of this grief journey. It’s H-A-R-D.

I’m a life coach. That means I have a ton of tools in my toolbox to help both me and my clients with all sorts of situations in life. You don’t often hear how life coaches deal with the really hard times. I’ve found that the best tool I have in my toolbox right now is straight up surrender.

Surrender to what’s happening. Surrender to my new reality. Surrender to the process of grieving and all its stages. Surrender to the hard and sad parts. It ebbs and flows through me during the day. I just let it do its thing. This means I cry. In the grocery store, while walking my other dog, at home, in the car, in front of people, by myself…

I’m melting really. Kind of like the Wicked Witch of the West when she gets trapped under the house in the Wizard of Oz and melts away. That’s what’s happening to me. But what’s melting away is my ego. That part of me that plans and plans and plans. That part that makes decisions about what’s coming up in my life and how it’s going to look down the road. That part that’s trying to keep it all together.

It shattered.

Into a million pieces.

When the rug gets pulled out from underneath you, you can hit the floor pretty hard. I did.

How losing a dog could create such havoc in my inner world is beyond comprehension. But I get it because it goes beyond the intellectual. It’s just pure love. There are no words for that and it needs no explanation.

There’s that quote that says “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” It’s almost a bad thing in our culture to not know where you’re going, have big goals, or have a plan to get you to those goals. I’m completely questioning that. It’s we humans who feel the need to have a plan. But life happens when you’re making other plans. So I’ve decided to not plan, to just let the wind blow me around and see what shows up.

It doesn’t mean I sit around and do nothing all day. I’ve found I worry less, I don’t care about things as much, and I let go of expectations of others and myself. It’s kind of freeing actually.

I’ve known all along the universe is more in charge of my life than I am. I just think I’m in control. Ha! But looking back, it has supported me fully, my entire life. With or without my input.

It’s really nice to let the universe show me where to go for a change. It takes the pressure off. So I’ll follow its lead. I actually think I’ll have an even more interesting and fun life moving forward by allowing it to take me towards new adventures I might never have planned on my own.

So when life throws you lemons and you don’t feel like making lemonade, don’t. Try surrendering to, and allowing the process you’re in, to unfold naturally.

You might just find the universe will make you some really yummy lemonade, all without your help.

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Get Outside (Really) GET OUTSIDE!

It’s fall in many parts of the country. The air where you live may be crisp and cooler, the leaves changing and falling off the trees (or not). There may even be snow all over the ground already and it may look like winter. And now is the time to get outside before full-blown winter arrives (whatever that means for you). As we all know, it’s only going to continue to get colder and darker.  woman in nature

The holidays haven’t arrived and I’m betting some of you get pretty busy when they do. Which is why now is the perfect time to do it. Throw on an extra layer (or 2) if you need it and take a walk in the crisper air. Notice how it feels and smells so different. Notice the trees. Do they look different than they did a month ago? What animals are around that you don’t normally see? What bird sounds do you hear?

You already know you’ll feel better. You don’t need hard science to tell you that.

It’s the changing of the seasons. Transition time.

Be a part of that transition. It won’t happen again until spring. NOW is the time.

Get Outside!

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

The Winds of Change

It’s mid-October and the winds of change have hit both Bend, OR and me, literally. When my husband and then, 3 dogs, moved to Bend a year ago I noticed the wind. It wasn’t windy every day and the wind wasn’t always super strong, but it felt different from any other wind I’d experienced in other places. For lack of a better way to describe it, the wind here has an energy to it that feels mystical and comforting at the same time. Like the spirits are swirling around. When we moved here, it was a sign to me we were in the right place. I know we still are.  OH-Fall-LeavesInWind-XL In general the weather is changing. We’re in that transition period from summer to fall. We still have some summer-like warm temperature days interspersed in there but it’s notably cooler at night, the leaves are changing, and the pine needles have turned orange and are falling off the Ponderosa trees.

Are you noticing any changes happening in your life as the seasons are shifting as well? Are you fighting those changes or leaning into them? I ask because change happens all the time. And often when it does we rebel against it. I’m not ready. I don’t want this. This wasn’t in my plan. Insert your specific example.

I’m there too. Learning to live without a dog child that I loved dearly. Trying to fill a space that can’t really be filled. But moving forward anyway.

Resisting change only keeps you stuck. The longer you resist the stucker you get. I know it can be hard, I do, but lean into it, allow yourself to soften around the edges, and start to notice what good things are showing up because of the change.

Even the changes that seem horrible at the time bring new life and hope. They all do. I’ve seen it over and over again with my clients, my friends, and in myself.

So I ask, is it windy in your neck of the woods?

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

A Love Letter to My Sweet Dog

Monday 09/29/14 You filled my days with SO much joy. Just being in the same room with you made me (and I think you) extremely happy. Your sweet, gentle face melted everyone’s heart that you met. Your fierce wagging tail, that could knock a drinking glass off a table and blow candles out, was a sign of how thrilled you were to be with anyone who showed you attention.

It always made me smile as I watched you run down the trail with your yellow tail, slightly curved up at the end, swaying back and forth with your stride. I’d call your name and you’d turn to look at me with that sparkle in your eye and know that home base was near. And off running you’d go.

You loved being rubbed from the top of your head to the tip of your tail, and even in-between your toe pads. I loved running my fingers over all your furry parts. Your ears were as soft as velvet. As I massaged them with my hands your eyes would roll back in your head. I knew how good it felt. You pawed at me when I would stop because you wanted more. I always obliged.

After you ate meals you would lie on your side on the floor rubbing your nose in the carpet making little pig-like grunting sounds. You LOVED food. You could clean out any sink strainer with your tongue by standing up on those long back legs of yours. And you were a master of stealing food from others. So quick, they didn’t see it coming.

You had some bad habits, but you never made me mad. I would just laugh at you.

When I’d walk in the door after being gone just a few hours, you’d practically fly over to greet me and whine like I’d been gone for days. Then I’d put my face right in front of your nose and you’d sniff my scent to make sure we were connected again.

If you happened to be sleeping when I walked into the room and you heard me, your eyes would open and you’d thump your tail so hard I thought it might break. I would call you by one of your nicknames and watch your head pop up off the floor, one ear up and one down, in full anticipation of what I would say next. I’m pretty sure you were always hoping I’d ask if you wanted to go for a car ride.

You are the only dog I’ve ever known that would sleep on the couch belly up, with your back legs spread eagle, and your right front leg lifted straight up into the air like you had a question to ask.

Then one Monday morning, out of the blue, you woke up and something wasn’t quite right with your back and your hind legs. I somehow “knew” something was very wrong, but I didn’t want to believe it.

I chose from the various options the vet gave to help you and me get back on the trails together. You were so patient with me as I took you back and forth to the vet for injections for what we thought was arthritis. After a while, you hated going there.

I hope you know how much I prayed and hoped, and did everything I could to get you back outside to run and sniff, and eat animal carcasses in the woods. I even bargained with God. Take something away from me, anything, so that you could have your life back. I pleaded. Don’t let this be it. It’s just too soon.

You had better days and not so good days. But the one thing I could count on was that you would eat every last morsel of food at every meal. You never lost your amazing appetite. I know food became a highlight of your days. As well as all the times I lay with you on the floor stroking your fur.

In the end, I did the kindest thing I could. I freed your amazingly happy spirit from your malfunctioning body and said goodbye. I asked my mom, who has already passed and was awesome with animals, to look after you until I could be with you again.

I know the hole in my heart is so huge because I loved you so much. I never missed an opportunity to show you what you meant to me. If I had to do it all again I wouldn’t change a thing. I know I did it right.

You’ve been gone 7 hours Kona and the house is SO quiet without your thumping tail on the floor and your bright eyes looking at me. I miss you so very much already. I knew this day would be tremendously hard, but the reality is, it’s more excruciatingly painful than I’d ever imagined it could be.

I’m already thinking about your soft fur, your breathing in and out, the sound of your eyelids when they blinked, that happy whine, and so much more. I know my life will never be the same without you in it. I can’t even begin to imagine it. I really don’t want to. It hurts too much.

So now that you can, enjoy the trails. I’ll picture you running all around just like you used to do. As well as the sparkle in your eye when I’d call your name and you’d look over at me. I so look forward to being out there with you again someday.


Play in Peace Kona.


Kona, AKA, Big Boy, Boo Bear, Yellow Kid, Sweet Boy, and Sweet Pea

August 2002-September 2014

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

For procrastinators

Somehow I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you’ve procrastinated at least once in your life. If not a zillion times. We procrastinate (me included) for a variety of reasons. Whatever we want to do scares us, or is boring, or hard, or just not fun. Even if that thing is something we want or need to get done, we don’t do it.  Procrastination-Dinosaurs-Noahs-Ark-cartoon I’ve got two tips, two very different ways of dealing with procrastination. See if one resonates with you, or try them both and notice if one works better.

  • The Nike Way- Just do it! IS the solution to procrastination. Whatever that thing is, put it on your calendar, set a timer for 15 minutes, break it down into tiny lady bug manageable steps, then do it for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, if you’re still movin’ and groovin’ set another 15 minutes and continue. If not, mark it on your calendar at another time to do it again. Then, and this is the important part, reward yourself with the very procrastination activity you were planning to do instead of getting that thing done. Maybe it’s reading, cleaning, emailing, talking to someone on the phone, shopping, or getting on social media. Whatever it is, do it.

The difference between someone who finishes writing their book and someone who doesn’t, is one page per day.

  • Do you procrastinate until the last minute and scramble around trying to get things done and that’s your pattern? Maybe that’s natural for you. Maybe you operate best that way. Why fight it? If it works for you, it isn’t right or wrong. It’s just you. Then, make peace with that.

There you go. Two procrastination tips. If you try something and it works, let me know.

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Where are you in the Change Cycle?

Last week I mentioned we had a wildfire here in Bend. It’s under control and no structures or life was lost. Phew! I also brought up my friend Pam who lost her home in a fire a few years back and how that catastrophic event threw her into the change cycle. Today I’m going to explain that cycle and how we each go through it when either something horrible happens or we want to change something in our lives. I learned about this when going through life coach training with Martha Beck and it has absolutely made my life and those of my clients so much easier when they know, OH, I’m in this part of the cycle, this is why I feel this way, and this is what I can do about it.

Let’s jump in.

The Change Cycle has 4 squares. One for each stage you’re in. A great way to think about this is with the metaphor of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.










Square 1- (Death and Rebirth)

You’re in square 1, often, because of catastrophic event, like a death, or job loss. You may feel pain, grief, be in limbo, panic, or have a general loss of identity. It’s best to just be in it and feel crappy for a while. Melt down like the caterpillar who has just entered the cocoon. Wrap yourself in warm blankets. Cry. Listen to music. FEEL your feelings. We need this. Having our feelings is not being wimpy. They tell us what’s going on with us and those feelings want to be heard and validated just like your friends or significant other do. Give yourself that time. Because when you do, something fascinating happens. You start to get glimpses of possibility for your life you couldn’t see before, and that means you’re heading into square 2.

The mantra for square 1 is “I don’t know what the hell is going on and that’s okay”

Square 2- (Dreaming and Scheming)

This is when you actually start to feel a little better here and there. You get ideas about a direction you want to go with your life. Something odd may seem fun and exciting. For no reason you want to run to the art store, buy paint and take a class. Or you want to change your entire wardrobe. By golly, start doing those things. Start taking small lady bug steps towards what feels good. Whatever direction that may be. This is when the caterpillar has completely melted down and is now starting to reform into what will be a butterfly.

The mantra for square two is, “There are no rules and that’s okay”.

Square 3- (The Hero’s Saga)

This is the DOING phase. You are taking large steps towards whatever you tested out in square two that continued to feel good. You have a plan and are moving full speed ahead in that direction. The butterfly is starting to emerge from the cocoon but must do a lot of work using it’s legs and strength to get out.

The mantra for square 3 is, “This is much worse than I expected and that’s okay”.

Square 4- (The Promised Land) This is the time when things are flowing in your life. The butterfly has left the cocoon and is flitting about. You are feeling in flow with life. You only need to make minor adjustments here and there to sustain success.

The mantra for square 4 is, “Everything is changing and that’s okay”.

It’s important to know that you can be in different squares in various parts of your life. For example, your career could be in square 1 while your spiritual life could be in square 4.

You could also be in a little of 2 squares at the same time. For example, you could be mourning the loss of someone’s love (square 1) and at the same time be excited about finding a new love (square 2).

There you have it, the Change Cycle. We all go through it, over and over again. All through life. It’s completely normal. But once you recognize it, you’ll know what’s happening with you and you can say, “oh, I’m just in square 1 and I need to allow myself to melt down.

Just like the caterpillar on it’s way to becoming a butterfly.

If you feel like it, leave a comment on the blog.

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life



When you read the word fire, what does it bring up for you? Something positive? Negative? Do you think of candles, a warm fire on a winter’s night, a campfire where you gather with friends or family and tell stories, connecting with each other over roasted marshmallows?

Or do you think of the scary side of fires? Destruction and doom?  Wildfire

When I lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, one wildfire came very close to our house a few summers ago. I happened to be out of town at the time and my now husband/then boyfriend asked me over the phone what I wanted him to take if he had to evacuate immediately. Without any hesitation I said, “you and the dogs.”

Those living breathing beings were all that mattered to me. I didn’t care about anything else. Everything else was just stuff. Clothes, furniture, my computer, even old pictures. Memories on paper I’d had for decades, I was willing to part with in an instant.

We didn’t have to evacuate. Three directions around that fire were homes. The wind blew the one direction where no structures were located, and the fire headed that way. Luck? Divine intervention? Who knows.

Now I live in Bend, OR where a forest fire started not that far from town last weekend. It’s been dry here and warm. Perfect conditions for it to grow. And grow it did. Fast! Evacuation orders were sent out for many.

We weren’t part of it but I still remember that feeling. That moment when I realized I had no control. None whatsoever. It was both terrifying and humbling. You find out what, or who, is most important in your life. In an instant.

And that’s good to know. That’s the stuff worth fighting for. Because everything else is just fluff. Fluff can be gotten again later, if you really miss it and want it again.

I have a really good friend named Pam, who a few years ago, woke up in the middle of the night with her own house on fire. Can you imagine the confusion, panic, and terror? She, her family, as well as most of their animals got out alive. One dog sadly died in the fire.

That threw Pam’s life into total chaos and transition. Whether she wanted to or not, she embraced that transition, and has come out the other side beautifully. To meet her, you would never know such devastation was part of her life, and not all that long ago. She went through the Change Cycle. It’s a process we all go through when a catastrophic event happens to us out of the blue, or even if we decide to change something that isn’t working in our lives.

Next week I’ll go into detail about the change cycle, what stage you might be in within it, and some tips for dealing with each stage.

But back to fire.

Do you know what you'd take if you had to evacuate your home in 10 minutes? Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life


Your message is your answer

Memorial Day is this Monday. I'm taking a moment to notice that while millions of us will be barbecuing and enjoying the day off, many families may have a hard time because this holiday reminds them of a loved one lost who chose to support this amazing country of ours, and died in the process. On to the blog.

I am a life coach. I am happy most of the time. Positive. Upbeat. I can see the benefit of almost anything.

And I’m a human being.   did you get the message

That means I get grumpy, irritated, stressed, and tired.

This happened to me this week.

I had spent too much time on the computer and got that anxious, irritated feeling. I needed something. But what?

Then a message came through. Get moving and get outside it said.

I didn’t listen.

I plowed through more stuff on the computer.

Back came that stressed, grumpy feeling.

Again came the message, get moving and get outside.

I ignored it.

It took me 3 freaking times to hear that message to finally say to myself, you need to get moving and get outside.

So I did.

Piled my 2 dogs into the car, drove to an awesome local park with BIG pine trees on the rushing river, and we walked for 90 minutes.


Just what I needed.

I dropped the negative feelings and enjoyed being out in nature.

I returned feeling SO much better and ready to continue what I was working on.

My message was there. It kept nudging me. It’s a quiet one that inner voice of mine. She’s a subtle bugger. But persistent. She was right too. Doing what she said gave me what I needed, my answer. I just needed a break.

There is a ton of research that says when you’re frustrated and not moving forward on something you’re working on to take a break and walk away.

By taking the time away, you come back more refreshed, with increased clarity, and ready to begin again.

You actually become more efficient. When you’re tired and plowing through something, mistakes are made, quality decreases, and you aren’t efficient. I don’t know a single person that is.

I don’t need the research on the value of stepping away (especially outside to nature). I have proof from my experience in my own life.

That’s all I or anyone else needs. The truth of what works for you.

What has your inner voice told you lately? Are you listening? Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

susan small sig 05:14Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

The dog and the squirrel

Elvis the stalking dog and Elvira the unsuspecting squirrel play a little game at our house. Elvira the Unsuspecting

Elvis, in a non-stalking position

Elvira happily munches on birdseed that has fallen on the deck below the bird feeder outside our living room window.

Elvis stalks her, standing very still, poised to run after and catch her, if he can.

But he never does catch her.


Because just as he has been so stealth and silent in his movements by the window, the second he takes off tearing down the hallway to run through the doggie door onto the deck, Elvis lets out a loud, high pitched squeal. Elvira can’t help but hear him coming, even if she hasn’t seen him.

And he does it every time.

With this strategy he will never catch her.

Does this sound familiar?

Where in your life are you trying to accomplish something using one strategy over and over again with the same results? The results you really don’t want.

Poor Elvis is just a dog. His brain probably can’t comprehend that losing the squeal might equal catching the squirrel.

But your brain can understand, that if you want a different result, you’ve got to do something different. It could be thinking about it in a new way so you feel differently, then take a new action.

Say you have a desire (A), so you take action (B), to get result (C).

But you aren’t getting C.

What does B need to look like in order to increase your chances of getting C?

Try it. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

As I heard a Master Gardner recently say “every year my garden is an experiment.” That coming from someone who knows A LOT about gardening.

I think all of life is an experiment really.

Go try it out.

Let me know about one thing you changed to get what you want that made all the difference. Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

susan small sig 05:14Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

How to get through the doldrums

As promised, here is an actual issue one of the Bloom Time Newsletter readers asked that I address in my blog. If you'd like to receive your own free newsletter weekly on Saturday mornings with practical and inspirational tips for life, sign up on the right and you'll receive a free ebook, Spring Your Life Forward: 4 Tips for creating change toward what you want.. and away from what you don't. Now, back to the reader. She wants to know how to get through the doldrums.    woman with doldrums

A little back-story. This is a woman who has made some major changes in her life in the past year. I’ll call her Sara (not her real name). Sara recognized she was living a life that wasn’t working for her anymore. She left a long-term relationship that wasn’t right, moved to a different state, and bought a house for the first time ever in her life. This woman is courageous… with a capital C.

So many of the negative stressors she had in the past are gone from her life. She’s created a new life, but now she feels flat and isn’t sure what to do about it.

First off, this is a completely normal feeling to have. Sometimes we make these big transitions in life and are so busy making them and getting through them, we don’t think about what happens after the storm and the seas of life are calm. It’s a weird place to be when you aren’t used to it. If your normal day-to-day life is full of transition for a while, then when that transition is complete, you’re in un-chartered territory and bit lost. Often when we’re lost we feel flat.

My advice to Sara is to feel the flatness. Be with it. Stay with it. Notice how it shows up in her body physically. Discover how flat shows up when she’s by herself and when she’s with other people.

Starting over in a new place with new people and lifestyle is challenging. For anyone.

It takes time to settle into a new home, with different surroundings, nature, and a new way of living so different from the old. By spending some quality time with feeling flat, over time Sara will start to notice what’s missing in her life. Then she can slowly add new people or experiences that feel right. Or she might just need to get comfortable with a new and different reality without changing a thing.

We tend to see the doldrums as bad. If they lasted for a decade, then yes, I’d say there was a problem. Really engaging with the doldrums and being curious about the phase she is in, is about experiencing life fully. Experiencing both the positive and negative aspects. The negative stuff isn’t meant to be pushed away. It’s meant to be experienced too. We’ve been taught that we’re supposed to feel happy all the time and if we don’t feel awesome 24/7, then our life isn’t good or something is wrong. So not true. We have to have the contrast of the not so good to know what the good feels like.

As she slowly starts to get to know her new town, the people in it, and her natural surroundings, new relationships will form, new experiences will be had and she’ll eventually ease back out of the doldrums.

So settle in Sara. Take the doldrums ride. What we resist persists. Don’t resist it.

Do you have thoughts about getting through the doldrums?  Join the conversation on the blog by leaving a comment below, or email me,

I am grateful to be able to spend some time with you virtually today. Thank you.

As always, take from here what works for you, share with your friends if you think they might benefit, and the rest you can leave behind.

Bloom On!


Have you become your mother?

I was hiking with my dogs around the downhill skiing trails near my house not long ago. There is an old building that has been there for many years where skiers would hang out, but it has not been utilized for quite some time.  Have you become your mother? As I walked by, I caught my reflection in one of the windows. Staring back at me was the spitting image of my mother at my age. OMG! I thought, I have become my mother. The visor I was wearing, the pant style. It was uncanny.

I have tried so hard not to become my mother. I’m betting many of you feel this way too. I think this because many of my friends and I occasionally have the “How and when did I become mother” conversation. There are so many times when I’ve either thought in my head or said out loud, “I am not going to do that thing (insert your favorite words) like my mother”. Then low and behold, sometime down the road, I do or say exactly what my mother would have said or done without even batting an eye.

And of course, this got me pondering.

I learned a tremendous amount from my mother about life. Just a little back-story for you. Her name was Martha. She hated the name Martha and went by Marty. I called her Mom, or Oh Mother sometimes when I was exasperated with her. She passed away far too young 6 years ago…

A lot of what I learned from her rings true for my life to this day. She used to tell me that kindness was incredibly important. She was a nurse and I often saw her real life example of kindness in action.

But not everything she deemed important is important to me or fits with my life and who I am today.

As I contemplated this I realized what a great exercise it is to recognize which values and beliefs I carry around that fit the real me, and which ones I just continue to follow because I’ve done it for so long and I’ve never thought about it any other way.

I’m not really my mother. You can’t really be anyone other than yourself. Yes, I’ve got some similar features physically and share some of the same beliefs and values that she held. But those values are the ones I’ve kept by choice. The one’s that feel right for me in who I am today. Of course, in 5 years that may change. As a personal growth junkie, I will evolve and grow as I gain more information, change perspectives, and have new experiences. And that’s perfectly okay.

Have you become your mother?

Are you keeping what you’ve learned that works for who you are now and ditching the rest? Join the conversation on the blog by leaving a comment below, or email me,

I am grateful to be able to spend some time with you virtually today. Thank you.

As always, take from here what works for you, share with your friends if you think they might benefit, and the rest you can leave behind.

Bloom On!