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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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The Wheel of Life

How balanced does your life feel to you? Are you feeling overwhelmed, or unable to prioritize?

In this blog, I’d like to introduce you to a tool commonly used in coaching called The Wheel of Life.

Using this tool allows you to see what areas of your life you want to focus on; helps you find your motivation, and prioritize what you want to happen next. The Wheel of Life can help you to be accountable and take charge of your actions to be more productive and balanced.

If you google Life Wheel in images you will find many graphics that are easy to print out. You can also download one I like to use here.

Or, even easier, just draw a circle on a piece of paper or the back of an envelope, and divide the circle into eight equal pieces, like a pie.



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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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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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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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I Will Shine A Light

Last night I got to play a very small role in a monumental event: Shine a Light. Invited to be a greeter by my friend and colleague, Mary Rogan, I stood in the darkness on the longest day of the year and opened the door for participants as they arrived to roll out their yoga mats and do 108 asanas to raise awareness about human trafficking. Shine a Light partners with organizations in Oregon and India to give refuge, rehabilitation, education and hope to individuals affected by or vulnerable to the commercial sex industry.

I asked Mary if she wanted me to say anything specific or shake people’s hands like I do when I am a greeter for my Rotary Club. “You can do whatever you want,” she said calmly. “Free form welcoming! I trust you.”

At first I stood inside the doors, directing people a few feet away to the registration table. But it was too intense a welcome for a graceful transition from outside to inside. The registration people were welcoming in their own right—Natasha, a high school student who involved many teens in the cause, and Barb, a fellow rower who is also an awesome business woman. They were already shining in their own brilliant way. I stepped outside.

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Skipping Over Life To Manage Overwhelm

I went to a weekend retreat for women 20 years ago and I’ve been staffing it ever since. The Woman Within community has become a part of me, a place where I belong. My weekend in 1994 broke me wide open and showed me that it was okay to feel emotions I’d kept locked inside. I learned that I didn’t have to do everything on my own after all, that I could nurture the softer sides of myself, and that I could reach out to other women and they wouldn’t reject me. I found a lot of laughter, tears, love and hope that weekend and it has inspired me to continue on a path of growth and healing.
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