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Since I was so young, I always come back to the water…whether physically or metaphorically, when things start to get crazy.  Yes, I’ve watched the new 30 for 30 on Bruce Lee, Be Water, and when I visualize to down regulate an over active mind, I picture myself floating on my back, sun on my face, with the ebb and flow of the current underneath me.  It calms me, I never sink. I’ve talked about the VIA Character Strength test before as a means to understand ourselves better through the lens of positive psychology, but I learned about another trustworthy measure called the High 5 Test in a course I have taken called Zero To Dangerous from The Flow Research Collective.  I gravitate toward these tests because they are simple, scientifically validated ways, to get to know ourselves better.  Part of healing, finding our purpose, and reaching our highest potential lies in our ability to understand ourselves, our tendencies, and why we do the things we do. Not everyone is on this path, but chances are if you read my blog, it’s something that you are interested in for yourself. It’s a journey that is never complete and is always available to us if we make the choice to ask the bigger questions about our lives…the ones that help us discover our unique why.

The High 5 Test is made up of 100 questions that you answer on a sliding scale.  When you go with your gut instinct and don’t overthink it, (which is how you are supposed to take the quiz) it takes about 10 mins.  When I took it, the results definitely resonated with the way I understand myself. Although the learning is never done, the insights from this quiz align beautifully with the path that I have worked to create for myself throughout my life and with even greater intensity over the last couple of years. I’m confident that it will bring continued satisfaction and growth for me, and a ripple effect of improvement for the lives of people around me because the vision for my day and the way I spend my time is in alignment with my values and the person that I am.  In that pocket there is infinite room to work from our strengths and grow.  

My High 5 results revealed no surprises for me: 

    1. EMPATHIZER

    2. COACH

    3. OPTIMIST

    4. STORYTELLER

    5. THINKER

There is scientific evidence that says we are able to maximize flow state in our lives with our top 5 strengths are in play and I feel this each day right now as I write and coach myself and others to use optimism as the energy to become their best. As an EMPATHIZER, it is natural for me to feel into another persons experience in their life, and I love the way it connects us as humans and to my work.  As a COACH, I have created amazing bonds and seek out other coaches to learn from and continue to be inspired by the talent and heart that blankets this profession. At my core, I am an OPTIMIST, it’s a quality that carries on the best days and buoys my spirits through life’s challenges. My blog is the place where my STORYTELLER nature is recorded and even before that began, stories have been the predominant way I teach the lessons of life to my kids. Lastly, I stand back and laugh a little on the THINKER perspective because boy have I had to learn how to handle this one. I believe that my passion for music kicked in at an early age because before I had a mindfulness practice, it was the only thing that slowed down my philosophizing brain. But in the end, the reason this description sits so calmly in my soul is because of the way it aligns with the way I spend my days and my newest business venture. 

A lot of time, risk, and effort has gone into the planning and launch of Championship Performance Advantage, our new sports, physicality, and mentality training facility just off the 405 in Lawndale, CA. But when I see how perfectly it intersects with my “game of life” philosophy and my strengths, I get really excited and understand why I feel so deeply about the mission that my partners and I believe in…to help others who are on the path to greatness, (which is everyone who recognizes the power of their choice) become their best. It’s a place where I can use my strengths to connect with clients, through optimism & resilience coaching to help reframe life’s challenges to become opportunities in our lives, nutrition coaching to take care of our second brain (our gut), or yoga, mediation, and breath work to calm our monkey minds and overtaxed nervous systems. All of these offerings help maximize both my own potential, and that of my clients, which is a pretty amazing way to get to spend the day.  I hope you will come visit us. We have countless offerings both on and off the court to strengthen your sport, physicality, and mentality for the best life. 

Ask yourself today where your true strengths lie, take the High 5 Test, and let’s get to work aligning vision and values to create the biggest and best life that makes the positive impact the world needs today and always. If something is standing in your way, let me know if I can help you. The vision for our lives is as big as we say it is and are willing to work for. By asking ourselves the right questions, we inspire ourselves and each other to greatness…and that’s when we become unsinkable.

When I was about thirty, I sat on a patio chatting with friends who were older than me. I had a hard time connecting with their ominous warning:

“Just wait until you turn 40…then all the sh#t hits the fan.”

I remember thinking that I didn’t understand, it was so hard to put myself anywhere but with kids in carseats, and my parents seemed like they were closer to 40 than I was. Now, here I sit, halfway through that very decade I couldn’t imagine, and I understand exactly what they meant. What that conversation didn’t include though, was the follow up question that is required for anyone who looks for the best in life:

“What are you going to do about it?” 

I took my optimists lens for granted until it felt like one of the few things I could take with me as I began a reinvention at midlife. It was something that was at the heart of my being, it gave me the energy to push and believe that I could always turn a challenge into a choice to learn something and make a better day.  As most of us have experienced, this stay at home pause has inspired organization and a file clean out at home, and for me, that led to revisiting old memories. As I pulled out the file with my Agribusiness degree from Cal Poly SLO and articles and letters to the editor from California Farmer and The Fresno Bee on water use in California and agricultural history, my mind wandered briefly to that place that raises a question that used to really bother me…why do things in my life not relate? Why do I have these distinct paths that seem to disconnect mid run? The great thing about a mindfulness practice though is that we learn to observe our thoughts without sinking into them.  So, I observe, and the message I need to hear rises to the surface. Everything I learned with my undergrad degree is connected, I just realized that my strengths are better used growing people than plants. As I listened to a lesson from a course on Flow I have been taking with the FLOW RESEARCH COLLECTIVE about working from your strengths, I remembered a lesson from a soil scientist I used to work with. His theory on productivity was the same for growing healthy plants…if we worked to improve the nutrients that had the least deficiency, the plant would thrive more quickly, and then the lesser elements would catch up after that. In short, we worked from the soil strengths. The same theory applies to growing humans…our goals and path in life are better served when we work from our strengths and there is nowhere I feel stronger than when I’m connecting my mind, body, and spirit. There are no decisions in life that are wasted when we use them to create angles for future growth. No matter what point we are in life, even when our routines and obligations feel set, when we are mindful and listen to our intuition, our strengths and our path emerges. When we do the work, we find the place where our vision and values intersect and energy is endless. 

Lauren and I were having one of our deep but funny nighttime conversations this past week about whether I would live by myself forever. It wasn’t morbid, there is so much I like about having my own space and independence, but nighttime conversation, someone to break down the day with, is something that will poke at that lonely feeling, and I was being transparent with her about that. It’s ok she says, you can come live with me and we’ll drink coffee and talk and solve the world’s problems. While my heart couldn’t swell any bigger to have this relationship with my first born human (I can’t believe that she’s almost 20!), we laughed because she knows I’m not ready to cash in my chips just yet. The midlife crisis gets a rightfully bad wrap…but the midlife reinvention can do a lot of good in this world, and that’s exactly what I’m aiming for. 

There are so many things I have learned to make a midlife reinvention possible, from healthy stress management, to coping with the loneliness that comes when you turn over a new leaf, to wrestling with our inner critic, and the importance of consistent habits that include proper rest and recovery. But what I firmly believe today, is that the essence of success in this process lies with my ability to be present…because with the many choices that I encounter every day, balance always evades me. My goal every week is to set aside time to strategize, then execute and maintain presence with whatever task is in front of me, without letting my mind race ahead to what’s next…a sure bet to invite in overwhelm and anxiety. As I learn more about human biology and the way our brains work, I learn to use stress to sharpen my edge, and breath to bring calm so I can focus.

I”m so excited to show you how my reinvention has taken on a new physical space this week with my latest business endeavor. Championship Performance Advantage is a sports, physicality, and mentality training facility…a place for me to spread the message of optimism and resilience through movement, consciousness, and recovery. It is never too late to become your best. In short, this place is a game changer. Over my lifetime, sports have allowed me to build strength and relationships that are a central part of who I am today. Whether the breath to movement of yoga, racing to the wall with Masters Swimming, or meeting my friends on the beach every week to get at least six volleyball games in, there has been no greater teacher for my brain or biology and no better place to build strong, healthy relationships. I’ve used the principles that I’ve learned from these places to raise kids, and now am excited to kick off this chapter with a new business for any age human looking to find their best.  If you live in Southern California, or even if you are just passing through, come check us out because we are doing something special here. We’ve got something for everyone who wants to do the work. Whether it’s invention or reinvention, come see us, because there is new opportunity with every sunrise. 

So many things on my mind these days, which is pretty normal. The reminder that we are standing on the edge of regular life happened for me this morning. I’d been up since 5:30, my favorite time of day is when the sun is just over the horizon.  Anyone who knows me understands that it’s the time when my optimism is at it’s peak. I had already done a meeting, a drop off, a dog walk, and was sitting down to write when the text came in

“Are you close?” 

I was supposed to be on the beach playing volleyball, which I would never knowingly skip! For a moment, the overwhelm crept in. Life is coming back, and after days of quiet and ample time to think, the demands of regular life are calling.  I knew I was enjoying the quiet and the extra time to think, talk, and write at a slower pace. As much as I want the world to be healthy and the economy to churn and have us all back to work, feeling our sense of purpose, if I’m honest, there are things I’m not looking forward to…like traffic and more options to choose from than there is time. But the time spent at home has helped me organize, not just my files and home, but my mind.  It has made me focus on intentional choices, like what I want in my day, by way of conversation and experience. While we all have obligations that we must honor as we get going again, I have made a pact with myself to do what matters and not let the busyness of life take away the meaningful interactions in my day. How can we pinpoint our actions to honor our own uniqueness? Or are we just going to get back on the hamster wheel and start running again? 

I’ve never been one for small talk, I want my time and effort going into things that deeply matter to me and to the world. Over the past few weeks, as a country, we have been asked to experience the deep questions that race in America brings to all of us. For people from my vantage point…white, suburban, given the gift of safety and belonging in society generation after generation, who have had the ability to be underexposed to the real nature of the experience of being black in America, my mindset has been that it our turn to listen.  We can actively seek out content, there are so many good reads and podcasts out there for us to broaden our lens, but in the end, we have to hone the ability to be masterful listeners. Not to probe for answers in someone’s experience that may be an open wound, but rather patiently hold space and see what experiences are offered up and entrusted to us. Then figure out how to respond with empathy.  For us to be able to access that empathy, we need to be able to think and experience from a place of calm, rather than being activated by shame or our own ignorance. We have to have the ability to look honestly at ourselves and the struggles in our own lives to access the ability to understand what another human is going through. We have to be able to realize if we are triggered, breath through it, not react, and continue to listen.  If we are hardened to our own experience, we will be hardened to the experience of all humanity. If we can muster the humility to not need to be right to calm our own nerves, then maybe this time we can make real lasting change.  Let’s not wait this one out, go back to “normal”, and wait for the next thing to spark outrage, let’s build bridges. 

The truth is I’ve used this unprecedented pause in life to start something that is aligned with my values and close to my heart. Lots of thought, intention, and work has gone into creating a new business…by next week you will all hear about it.  It combines my passion for sports and the game of life mentality that grows healthy human systems and families and I’m filled with optimism for what it will bring to the community. It’s for anyone who wants to get better everyday, whether in sports or in life.  I can’t wait to share it all with you…stay tuned.  We’re almost there! 

Don’t Blink…it’s one of my favorite songs that, right now, I can’t listen to without crying. I learned when Lauren graduated last year, it’s what graduations do to you. Suddenly the little faces that you hadn’t thought of in so long pop into your head every other minute. You see them in their Halloween costume from when they were four, or relive the first time they scored a goal or served a ball over the net, almost nightly, for those months leading up to graduation day. Every conversation with a parent who has been through this comes flooding back to your head because somehow you thought you would never be them, and yet here you are. It’s a time for new beginnings…again.

Twenty eight years ago today I graduated from high school, and I still remember the feeling of freedom that ran through my veins after the ceremony. Everything ahead was so bright. Looking back now, it was easy to take for granted what it looked and felt like, young and energetic with the world by the tail. There have been so many amazing days since then, but as we all know and have seen so clearly over the past few months, no life comes without its share of challenge. There is no way to make sense of what this graduation season has been like for the Class of 2020. Since Luke walked off campus on March 12, the day his team’s home gym rivalry match was cancelled, so many rites of passage have been altered in the name of health and safety.  Who ever would have thought they would not go back to school, not get to finish their volleyball season, not have a school prom, grad night, or a live graduation ceremony? No one ever sees change like this coming, and yet they rolled with it.  I have cried for these graduates as there is nothing about them that didn’t ‘deserve’ to experience these American traditions, but so many storylines in life take unexpected turns, and the silver lining of these unprecedented times is that they have already proven themselves ready and able to adapt. There is something greater and stronger about them because of what they have been through at this transition in their lives.

With the importance and weight of the stories challenging our country, the homily at Friday’s Baccalauereate Mass reminded me to be grateful for the Jesuit education Luke received. They have such a beautiful way of seeing the space between discipline and compassion, between ethics, grace, mercy and our human imperfection. The world needs this so much right now. It’s been hard to speak up this last week, because it is a privilege to get to talk and write about the things that I do. Self actualization as a psychological concept is at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs…the fact that I can write this blog and talk with my kids and connections on these topics means that so many foundational needs have been fulfilled in my life. And every part of me wishes that this was the starting line for everyone. Even with life’s struggles, my mind can easily wander off to a place of guilt for the position I wake up in everyday. This same concept that I have spent so much time thinking about over the last week came up in Fr. Goethals speech at the graduation ceremony this morning. Life is a journey not to just self actualization but to get to take the next step and play an active and positive role in the lives of others. We can only do this when we know and understand ourselves and what we can contribute to the world. Loyola aimed to do both of these things for Luke and the other graduates and my greatest hope is that they will carry these principles with them as they head out into the world.

Class of 2020, as you saw by the teachers and staff lining the parade route for you today with so much enthusiasm, you will forever hold a special place in our hearts for the way you took the challenges that came your way in stride. You made the best of it, leaned on your faith, family, and friends and managed to find the silver linings at every turn. These are the skills that will make life great. And I have no complaints about Family Prom and the extra time around the dinner table that was a result of the stay at home order either;)

Father Goethals said it best last night:

“When I gave up my notions of what would be perfect, it all fell into place.” 

When we let go of perfection and take direct aim at progress, we can’t fail, and end up elevating not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us. Turn toward the light. Be the ripple effect. Build the bridge. Not everyone with agree with you, but you are wise because you have been taught to question, and strong enough to handle dissent with humility and intelligence because of the confidence that comes with the education you have received. Use it for good, the world needs you now more than ever.

As Fr. Goethals said in yet another memorable quote last night:

“Your reach is greater than you imagine it to be.”

Go out, listen, and lead with a humble heart. Congratulations Class of 2020! You are equipped to do amazing things because through our struggles, our true strengths revealed. 

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