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How to Check in with Yourself, Using the PIES model from Woman Within

How much do you struggle with knowing what you are thinking and feeling at any given moment? Are you wishing you could keep up with all that is going on inside you?


I’d like to tell you about a coaching tool called the PIES check-in. By using this tool regularly you can develop your awareness and begin to trust your inner-knowing.

PIES is an acronym. P-I-E-S. The "P" stands for physical, the "I" for intellectual, the "E" for emotional, and the "S" for spiritual.
PIES. P: physical. I: intellectual. E: emotional. S: spiritual. 

I first learned about the PIES check-in through a training I did over two decades ago with an organization called Woman Within, International. I facilitate the Woman Within Weekend and I’ve learned so much from the women who created the PIES model.

You can do a PIES check in with yourself or another person. In this blog, I’m going to focus on the benefits of using this check-in with yourself. I often use this tool when I write in my journal, just to understand more of where I am that day.

Or if I am getting upset, I’ll grab a piece of paper, or even the back of an envelope, and jot down a few words relating to each part of the PIES model.

Go to womanwithin.org for more details about a weekend close to you! 


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The 4 A's: Awareness. Acceptance. Action. Adherence.

How often do you find yourself reacting to what someone else has said or done, experiencing anger or confusion before you even realize what’s happening?

I want to tell you about a coaching tool that will help you to be more aware of how you respond in the moment. When you use this tool, you will accept yourself more fully, learn gracefully, and overall, enjoy more confidence.

I learned about the Universal Growth Principle over a decade ago, from my first life coach, Kathy Wickstran-Gahn, who is a life coach and also trains Olympic swimmers. Then I heard about it again from Dr. David Daniels, a wonderful teacher and psychologist from Stanford Medical School, who passed away not too long ago. 

I love the Universal Growth Principle because it is simple to remember and it keeps me moving forward when I’m feeling confused or unsure.

People often refer to the Universal Growth Principle as "The 4 A's," which stands for Awareness, Acceptance, Action and Adherence. Dr. Daniels also adds in another A for Appreciation though I'll explore that one in a separate blog.

The first A of The 4 A's, stands for Awareness. If I can’t see my behavior then I can’t choose how to change it, expand it, explore it, or add to it. I remain blind and unaware. My behaviors run me instead of me running them.


For example, I used to get feedback that I was bossy. At first, I felt hurt by this feedback and defended against it. “I’m not being bossy! I just want to get this done!” I would say to my friends, my children, or my husband.

Finally, after receiving this same feedback in different ways, at different times, from different people, I started to see that perhaps in certain situations I was actually being bossy.




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Motivating Myself for Health

This past Friday was a Red Letter Day for me. Short story: I had a breast MRI and I do not have breast cancer! Long story: I am taking steps to sustain my health.

In mid-December I decided to look ahead at what changes I wanted to make for the New Year. I was also inspired to refresh my health goals because I’m going to be working as a health coach this year at a new clinic called Northwest Memory Care in Ashland, Oregon. Dr. Deborah Gordon and our team are committed to helping patients make changes based on the Bredesen Protocol, to prevent or reverse Alzheimer’s. Exciting stuff!

I found myself making an informal survey of diets—Ketonic, Paleo, Blue Zones, Heart Healthy, etc. and was amazed at the amount of information I found. And of course, everyone swears by whatever diet they have done. It is so human to want to find One Answer!

One diet I read about in a book my doctor gave me, written by Dr. Esselstyn from the Cleveland Heart Clinic, said to eat a plant-based diet but to avoid avocados—while another doctor I respect and admire strongly advocated for avocados as being a source of good fat. When I asked my fitness trainer at the YMCA about whether or not I should eat avocados he said, with great passion and a chuckle: “It’s not about the avocado!”
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Three Words for 2018

Every year at this time I choose three words to live by. They may be qualities I want to cultivate in myself or reminders of what I want to focus on in general.

For 2017 I explored Groundedness; Lightness; and Freedom. I am pleased to say that I definitely feel all of those things more within myself. I put these words on my computer as a screensaver and they are scattered around the house on 3x5 cards. I think I’m laughing more, less focused on “mistakes,” and every now and again, I get that soaring feeling of freedom.


I’ve been playing for about a month now with what words to choose for 2018. At first I thought I would have an “R” theme: rejoice, rejuvenate, relax. Thinking a little more about it though, rejoicing seems like a bit too much work. I remember in my 20’s rejoicing at the Catholic Church I went to in Washington, DC with a mostly African-American gospel choir. I got a few lessons there in how to rejoice. I loved it and I realize I’m not that outwardly focused these days. Having gone “full steam ahead” for the past two years continuing to build my coaching business and making my way through what Wings Seminars have to offer, I’m ready for a bit of stability and peace.  The growth has been good and I’m taking time to integrate all I’ve learned.

In the end, for 2018, I’ve chosen Health, Relax, and Enjoy.


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Empty Nesting with Curiosity and Compassion

This week my first ad on life coaching for empty nesting appears in the high school newspaper, which my daughters edited five years ago. The lessons of that time of life are still fresh for me. I want to help others as they move through the pain and loss of their kids going away to college, or moving out into the world in other ways.

In the book “Rising Strong,” Brené Brown, a shame researcher and storyteller, writes about loss, longing and feeling lost. Loss. Longing. Feeling lost. Each deserves its own period in my book; these are big concepts. Brown highlights the importance of really feeling the grief connected to transitions and how awkward and uncomfortable this experience is when we really take the time to feel it. Brown interviewed a father who was going through empty nesting:
“Everything was off . . . nothing felt normal. I wasn’t sure where to park my car at our house. He had his car with him, but I still left his space open. Setting the table for dinner was strange; walking down the hall past his room felt painful—we were completely lost and at the same time happy for him ad proud of his accomplishments. We didn’t know if we should laugh or cry. We’ve done a lot of both.”  


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The Preciousness of Life

In had an exchange this morning with my younger daughter, Grace. She had just found out through Facebook that a friend’s mother died several months ago. This friend is her age and I could tell she was upset by this idea of death and the loss of a mother. We exchanged “I love you’s” via text and I thought, once again, how precious life is.

In honor of this exchange with my daughter, and the three-year anniversary since my father’s death, I want to post the following blog that I wrote way back when. I like to take time to know my family history, and to consider those who have gone before. I value appreciating the span of time: past, present, future. Here goes  . . .

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From Ashland to Ubatuba: Service Above Self

My brother and I with the Rotary Club of Ubatuba, SP, Brazil.
The one-hour Rotary meeting I went to last night will be a treasured memory of my three week vacation in Brazil. Though I understood perhaps only ten percent of what was being said, it was the welcome I received that made the experience so worthwhile. There is a magic in knowing that I share the same values as the people who attended the meeting last night. The hearty handshakes I received and the kisses on my cheek spoke volumes of the shared fellowship that is Rotary around the world.

Ubatuba, the town I went to last night, is only four hours from São Paulo, where Rotary’s International Convention will take place this June. In my broken Portuguese, I could make that connection, along with another question that brought smiles to their faces: “How long have you been in Rotary?” Whether the answer was one year or twenty, I could tell these people were dedicated.
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Accepting the Belly


When I made the ticket to come to Brazil late last year, I was excited to go and see my brother, who has been coming to this country on and off for the past 20 years. My excitement doubled in 2015 as last year we had to cancel our plane tickets after our visas didn’t come through in time.

Knowing and loving my brother made coming here an easy decision. Though the travel door-to-door was a full 28 hours we knew the trip would be well worth it. Clay is a great tour guide, speaks Portuguese well, bakes bread and used to be a professional chef. And he loves to teach people how to play. What’s not to like?
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An Overall Sense of Well-being

I am not alone.

This is the revelation I had this morning. Like the hot water bottle I sleep with on cold nights, I feel this reassurance radiating outwards, warming me with its simple truth.

What’s funny is that, I am right now actually alone, at least physically. My husband is on the East Coast for business as well as to visit our daughters, who work and go to college there. And my father, with whom we bought our ranch 13 years ago, is no longer with us in body though he is often in my heart.

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Considering Qualities for 2015

For 2015, I am choosing three new words: Responsibility, Acceptance, and Wonder. They spell RAW, so that is easy for me to remember. RAW RARA (my initials)!

I write each word/quality on a 3x5 card and keep it on my desk where I rotate through them, mixing them in with other vows I have taken and what I call “soul reminders.” I keep the words as a screensaver on my computer. I breathe them in as a way to fortify myself and weave in new qualities, as if I can insert them into my bones, the very marrow of my life and being. I still feel last year’s words: Balance. Spaciousness. Grace.
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