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My Special Out-of-Office Alert for this Holiday Season

December 19, 2017

I just finished writing my out-of-office message for the holidays. I wanted to share it with you and encourage you to write your own real message.

Season’s Greetings.

I am out of the office from Monday, December 25 and returning on Monday, January 8. I am unable to respond to your email right now because I plan to be lounging in my PJs with my kids and husband.

I hope to be playing in the snow and then sipping a hot beverage with my loved ones, cuddled under a blanket by the fire. I plan to enjoy the small things that really are the big things.

Since my husband was diagnosed with cancer in September, he has made his way through 4 chemo and 23 radiation treatments. He is now resting up before his big surgery in the New Year, with hopes of curing his esophageal cancer.

So, if I check my email, it will be because I want to and not because I “should.” My wish for you this holiday season is to spend your time doing what makes you happy. Time, my friends, is our most valuable gift of all.


My Husband’s Cancer

October 30, 2017


To see a picture of my family on social media, we look almost perfect. Two beautiful, blue-eyed blonde little girls, an athletic, handsome husband and of course, the quintessential golden retriever puppy and me. Social media is this century’s biggest PR machine for our companies as well as our personal lives. But, social media often doesn’t tell the story behind the photo.

My family is amazing, but severely broken. Not only do I continue to recover from a brain injury, but my husband was diagnosed recently with esophageal cancer. This is the kind of diagnosis that takes your breath away, that leads me to cry openly walking down the street because the pain and fear inside are so intense that it is wild and uncontrollable.

By the time his cancer was detected, it has left him with a 6 centimetre tumour and cancer that has spread to his stomach and surrounding lymph nodes. If you were to go on the web site and search for his prognosis, you would understand why we are so terrified.

Every time we look at the girls, our hearts break for them. They are 6 and 8 years old. They know their Dad has cancer, but we have kept the outlook very positive for them. We don’t want to burden them with worries about the struggle their hero is facing as his treatment begins, to fight like he never has fought before, to save his life. To live to see them graduate elementary school, high school, university, to walk them down the aisle at their weddings and to meet our grandchildren. There is still so much ahead of us.

These girls have already given up so much. My youngest was an infant and my eldest was 3 years old when my head came crashing down on a concrete floor after I fainted, in some strange twist of fate, during a standing up x-ray in 2012. I had to limit my time severely around stimulation, which meant they were sent away to live with my parents for a while and then when they returned, my husband assumed the role of primary care giver while I spent most of my time upstairs in the bedroom, resting. I listened to my daughters scream for me while Jeff wrestled with them downstairs to do his best to put pony tails in their hair before taking them to gymnastics

And now, the man they love so dearly is going through hell. He is facing an intense battle through a combination of chemo and radiation at the same time. And then will endure a surgery we have been told is more intense than heart surgery. His esophagus will be cut to a smaller size as well as his stomach and an internal feeding tube will be attempted to be re-constructed for him while clearing out about 30 lymph nodes. There will be months of recovery from this.

So, how do we cope? First of all, there will be a lot of days, we probably won’t. We will be hanging by a thread, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I have no idea what we are in for. My Dad died of lung cancer two years ago. We saw how he bravely worked his way through his diagnosis, right up until his death on that freezing cold, crisp February evening. He was only 66 years old.

But, each cancer journey is different.  And, Jeff is only 44 years old with two young kids. Support will be key for us. Our neighbours have stepped up in a big way as well as our amazing family and friends.

I believe I will have to practice what I preach in my professional life as a Coach, now more than ever. I will have to dig deeper into my mindfulness practice that has been ingrained in me through my brain injury journey. We have to stay here, in this moment, to be focused to make the best decisions as well as to not let future fears take hold.

So, what does this mean for my business and my coaching?  I am continuing to work throughout this journey. I am taking on new clients. I realize my mind needs to keep focused on regular life from time to time. I think work is good for me, and also from a financial standpoint, I need to keep working to support our family.

I feel like I am approaching my coaching work with a slightly different attitude. I am pushing my clients harder. I feel like this journey I am going through personally is shining a light about the preciousness of life and making every moment count. We really don’t have time to be complacent.

I challenge you the next time you are on Facebook or Twitter and see a photo posted of someone having the time of their lives on the beach or getting that great promotion, remember there is always a story behind the picture. Every person faces struggle. At some time or another, we all doubt ourselves, hit rock bottom and feel lost. We are all people, going through this life on a journey. There will be ups and there will be downs, and that is the way life seems to be designed to be. That is the beauty of life and the mystery of it, all at the same time. Be grateful for who you are, the work you do, the family and friends that you have and be kind to yourself, not falling for the trap of comparing yourselves to others around you. Because at the end of the day, we are all people, just trying to survive.

To be a part of our journey, follow me on Twitter @potentialultd

How To Be the Kind of Mentor Your Mentee Deserves

September 4, 2017

FORBES article by Carey-Ann Oestreicher

Mentoring is a great way to develop talent within an organization, but research shows it can also have a positive impact on the mentor’s own job satisfaction. I have done a lot of work around leadership development, and to me, few areas are as satisfying as being able to mentor someone to successfully progress in her/his career and life.

A lot of companies have formal mentorship programs, and even for those that don’t, employees can seek out mentors behind the scenes. We all know that mentorship is important, but still, a lot of people don’t seem to be as effective as they could be in this area. So, what does it really take to be an outstanding mentor?

An outstanding mentor knows:

1. To set the rules of engagement at the start of the mentoring relationship: Determine how often you can realistically meet and then commit to keeping those appointments within those timelines. You need to make mentoring this individual(s) a priority if you sign up to be a mentor. Also, talk about the goals of this mentoring relationship. I suggest focusing on only one to three goals to keep the relationship focused.

2. When to give advice and when to sit back and listen: Often people think their role as a mentor is to impart their great wisdom onto someone else. But wait… this is really only half of what is most effective. A great mentor is able to ask the right questions and listen to their mentee to really be able to understand them. Then, you can share how you have dealt with a similar situation in the past. Remember, however, that what worked for you may not work for someone else. Hear them out first and then you can brainstorm ways to address the issue together.


To read more, go direct to the Forbes site.

5 Years Ago Today, I Suffered A Brain Injury

July 18, 2017
5 years ago today I suffered a brain injury after a freak accident at a medical clinic – of all places! This day is hanging heavy on me today. I think of all the time I spent in the dark room – weeks – after the injury. In pain, not able to talk to anyone or read or listen to anything…just lie there in the dark and try not to stress or do anything to stimulate my brain. I think about everything I have lost – all this time with my girls, years spent eating dinner in my darkened bedroom. I think of everything that was just dumped onto my husband starting that day. The stress of this situation and everything it has cost him, me and our family.
Then I shift to the pain. The physical pain and all of the symptoms and the emotional sadness. The feeling of being stupid because I couldn’t use my brain to make simple decisions about even what I wanted to eat. So much heartache.
But, then I think of the gifts. That I was forced to slow down my busy Type A life. I learned how to be present. I have learned more about patience and myself than I would have ever learned without the brain injury. I have learned so many amazing tools around mindfulness and pacing, gratitude and compassion (to name just a small few) that I now use in my own life and ironically I now use with my coaching clients all the time.
Today, I reflect on everything I have lost and everything I have gained. And, I feel proud of myself and my family that we have made it to where we are – to where so many doctors told me I would never get to. I continue to recover. I still experience symptoms, but I am living proof of neuroplasticity. So for those out there with brain injuries, my advice to you is to accept where you are today, but never give up hope for continued healing.

Cracking the Weight Loss Challenge of My Life – A Client’s Story

June 9, 2017

Today, I am pleased to have a special feature within my blog series. One of my clients, Leigh, is a successful executive who has been struggling with a personal issue for 20 years. She has agreed to share her story with you here! Thanks, Leigh.

Leigh’s story:

I have struggled with being overweight most of my adult life. So much precious time and energy has gone into thinking, worrying, (arguably obsessing) about the number on the scale. Also, I have realized my obesity is compound by emotions, such as shame – the kind I feel when I can’t fit on a ride with my daughter. So I watch the roller coaster take off with her sitting alone, feeling a little scared and I’m not beside her to comfort her while at the same time she’s excited and I’m not there to enjoy it with her.

Missing out on important life experiences, coupled with my milestone birthday of turning 40 last year, brought me to a breaking point on the weight issue. I committed to not spending the next 40 years in the same way, which led Carey-Ann and I to work together to help me tackle this once and for all.

When I started working with Carey-Ann, I was forced to consider what would define success in this area of my life. Will it be weight loss? Having more energy? Sleeping better? Fitting into the size ‘X’ jeans you’ve been hanging onto since high school? Running for 20 minutes without effort or simply making it up the stairs without feeling winded. These are the questions you’ll find in almost any opening chapters of ‘diet’ or ‘weight loss’ books, articles, websites or apps.  And certainly the questions any personal trainer will ask you.  I’ve gone through these questions a hundred times throughout the years.  And if you’re as familiar with them as I am, then you know the answer is always “yes, yes, yes, how about, all of the above.”  But the real answer is, “I want this to be the LAST time, I ever have to answer those questions again.”

To fully understand my journey, I want to take you back to where it all started. When I was in my 20’s, I started working full-time, making money, seriously dating my now-husband. I gained and lost the same 15 pounds over and over and began the real struggle with weight. I remember ending my 20’s fairly unsatisfied with my body. Although, now I’d do anything to be even 10 pounds heavier than I was back then. But, I had success in many other ways. A good marriage, lots of friends, healthy parents and a great career. And, we were a couple of European trips away from wanting to start a family.

And so at the age of 31, I had my daughter and gained 70 pounds in pregnancy and only lost 40. But, other priorities took hold.  I refused to believe I couldn’t have it all. ‘All’ for me was work and family. It was not about health or wellness. A few years later, ‘all’ was having another baby and we were fortunate to have our second. Another 70 gained and only 30 lost this time. I don’t have to do the math for you for you to figure out what’s going on.  But, I had it ‘all’.  I rewarded myself with food and wine and the good things that I worked hard for.  I commuted far and put myself fully into work and spending time with my young family. Life became busy and the last thing I was going to do was deprive myself of some wine, cheese or a baguette.

So that brings me to one year ago when Carey-Ann and I turned our professional relationship (she was my executive coach) into something more personal when I signed on with her with one goal – to lose weight. And since then, it’s been quite a journey.  For the first time, I’m digging deep, emotionally invested.  But it’s hard.  Really hard. There have been weeks I have dreaded my check in with Carey-Ann. Knowing I had not done what I was supposed to do – what I had committed to her, to myself.  We’ve spent hours talking.  We’ve talked about my resistance to let anyone know how I really feel about myself, and this massive gap in my life. The one goal that I cannot conquer.  We’ve talked about playing it safe and taking the easy road – when I can only stick with something for so long before I need to reward myself and start that downward spiral again.  And we talk about grit, and how sometimes, growing up protected, in a loving and safe environment, facing very little adversity or tragedy means you have to work harder to develop those deeper layers of ourselves that helps us deal with challenges in life.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering – what’s the progress? Well, I guess that depends on how I define success.  A year ago, success was to lose 70 pounds.  And against that goal, I’m at 25 pounds down.  But my definition of success has expanded. Sure, I still plan on losing those 70 pounds and I celebrate I have made a good dent in that weight loss goal. But, there is also a deeper personal understanding I am gaining about myself through this journey that is invaluable. I haven’t given up.  Thankfully neither has my coach.  We take it week by week and month by month. And every few months, there’s a breakthrough.  Another layer peeled back, another look into the real essence of who I am in that moment. I am really learning to live in a way that embraces the saying, “life is about the journey and not the destination.” I plan to continue to enjoy every day of my beautiful life as I work towards being the healthiest I can be – for my husband and children, my employer and most of all, myself!


Attention All Leaders: Dare to Fail

May 16, 2017

I would like to share with you my Forbes article, just released, on the topic of failure. Failure can sting, but it is a necessary part of living and leading. Please, read on.


Failing is a natural part of life. The more you put yourself out there, the bigger the rewards but also the greater the risk of failure. By trying to be our best, we likely will fall many times before we reach our goals. That is the way learning goes.

I have had many great successes in my life, but I have also come face-to-face with failure more times than I can count. I think it is impossible to be a parent or leader and not get to know failure on a first-name basis.

In my experience with failure, both personally and professionally as an executive coach, I see that the more we are scared of failure, the more power it has over us and stops us from trying new things. And trying new things and making bold moves is what can lead to the greatest successes.

So, we have a choice to make. Do we live life small, fearing that failure could be around the corner waiting for us? Or do we take chances, risk failure and dare to live a life beyond our wildest dreams?

Four Ways To Overcome The Fear Of Failure

Here are tips to help take some power away from your fears of failure:

1. Think of failure as a normal part of life. The saying “What you resist, persists” applies to many areas in life, including failure. Not getting things right the first time is a necessary part of learning. Think of failing as the “playing” part of anything new you try. The quicker you become comfortable with failure, the less stress and more success you will likely experience.

2. Realize you’re probably worrying for nothing. A lot of times, people worry about all the potential failures before then deciding not to proceed with the action. The cost of something not going as planned would be too much to bear. Keep in mind that most of the things we worry about actually never happen. So, acknowledge your fears, put them aside and don’t let them stop you from what you want to do.

Go direct to the Forbes site to read the entire article!

Why Mindfulness is a Game-Changer for You as a Leader!

April 11, 2017

I would like to share my latest Forbes article on a topic that I hold very near and dear since my brain injury almost five years ago. Please read on.


Leaders seem to be under more pressure than ever before, and technology has us plugged in at all times. We want to do our best to add value to the companies we work for, but at this pace, life can feel like a never-ending work day!

So how do we stop the crazy train? The answer is Mindfulness. Go direct to the Forbes site to read the story.

Find out more about my Mindfulness Programs for Leaders and High Potentials!