Transformational Change

Loving Your Work, Working with Love

I’ve always admired and enjoyed being around people who love their work, particularly if they delight in inspiring others to grow and express their true potential.  So in honor of Valentine's Day, I’d like to offer a special valentine to someone who loved his work and worked with love to foster the joy of learning and transformation in others.

My high school English teacher, Warren Wilde, was absolutely passionate about exploring the wonders of literature with his students.  He was young, balding, and a brand-new teacher when he was hired by Los Altos High School in California.  As we students waited outside the room on the first day for our teacher to show up, we caught sight of a slight, balding man who seemed very nervous, constantly popping peppermint lifesavers (since he couldn’t smoke on the school grounds).  We watched him silently, thinking, what have they given us this year?

Within fifteen minutes, however, he was fully in charge of our skeptical honors English class, positing intriguing questions and listening intently to our responses.  There was no condescension in his manner of teaching, only a genuine interest in taking us deeply into new aspects of our lives through a growing understanding of a wide variety of literature.

We found out, too, that he could be challenging, daring us to broaden our unexamined acceptance of social norms and take risks with our thinking, our discussion, and our writing.  He was skeptical of platitudes, political dogma, fuzzy thinking, and going strictly by the rules.

In addition, he invited controversy as a way of heightening dialogue, for example, with the bomb shelter exercise.  This supposed that a nuclear emergency was about to happen and that each of us had a bomb shelter that would accommodate four people at maximum.  However, each of us were part of a group of four friends or family members; one of us would not be able to stay with the rest in the shelter.  How would we decide who to leave outside to face the nuclear blast?  How did we experience such a chilling process of choosing?

A number of us students were wrung out over this choice, and our parents were concerned.  But Mr. Wilde held firm and said we’d have to learn to consider the consequences of our choices and actions in life.  Later, I understood that this was a theme that ran through the literature that we learned to explore in depth with him.

As a person from a small town in Idaho, he found his calling working in a milieu that allowed him to live out his personal and professional dreams.  As I wrote in my book (Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance), of Paul Child, husband to famed chef, Julia Child:  “He was willing, over and over, to take risks, try new things, and most of all, fully appreciate and engage with whatever opportunities came his way.”  And so did Mr. Wilde, who introduced us to opera, which he loved, and later in his career, organized trips for his students to Europe to hear opera in its native lands.

When he died, in a tragic accident, ten years after his arrival at our high school, his memorial service was attended by a swarm of bereaved students from each year he’d taught.

What can we learn from being in the presence of a person who has the ability and confidence to inspire the transformation of our ways of thinking, feeling, and acting into truer, more authentic ways of relating and acting in the world?  For me, it has been about helping to empower others in similar ways through my own work and my relationships with others.

What about for you?

Interview with Eve on SoloPro Radio, August 21st!

I’m excited to let you know that I’ll be interviewed by certified coach and entrepreneur Bonnie Marie Kuhn on her “Entrepreneurs in Focus” program on SoloPro Radio, Tuesday, August 21st!  Bonnie Marie and I will talk about how and why I use somatic (body-energy) awareness as part of my work as a career and life transitions coach to enhance people’s ability to make successful personal and professional changes in their lives.  (Note: SoloPro Radio is a live call-in internet radio show for and about self-employed professionals.)

Tuesday, August 21st, 10 AM Pacific Time
CALL IN with your questions at 561/422-4365

Bonnie Marie contacted me because she’d seen on my website that I was a career and life transitions coach with a background in somatic (body-energy) therapy.  Like me, she is fascinated by how people can learn to change their lives in a conscious way by becoming attuned to the energetic possibilities of their bodies.

As a somatic therapist of over twenty years, I’ve had a lot of experience helping people move out of states of stress, pain, and tension into more open, flexible ways of living, both physically and emotionally.  Seven years ago, when I began training to be a life coach, I realized that letting people experience different ways to expand and move their body energy was also a very effective way to promote positive change in their lives.

You can feel this yourself if you keep one hand open and clench the other into a fist.  If you keep squeezing your fingers and thumbs with more and more effort into the palm of your hand, what do you notice?  Inevitably, you'll feel lots of tension in your hands moving up through your connecting arm.  Eventually, this sensation turns into pain and numbness as the pressure on the nerves increases.

This is not the condition in which most people I’ve worked with wish to remain.  As they become conscious during our coaching sessions of how they’re limiting their vision and options, they usually choose to find new ways to live and work-- with openness, aliveness, and the freedom of choice!

     If you want to create change that matters in your life and with your career, it’s clear that it helps to do so from a body-energy state that’s open to possibilities for movement in new directions.  That is, not from a perspective of a closed fist, but from that of hands waving free-- connecting to the whole body with effortless ease.

So I welcome you to join Bonnie Marie Kuhn and me for a wide-open discussion about coaching and “body-energy experiencing” on--

Tuesday, August 21st, 10 AM Pacific Time
CALL IN with your questions at 561/422-4365
Looking forward to connecting with you then!



In Celebration of my New Coaching Credential!

“The sort of coaching that fosters effective innovation and judgment, not merely the replication of technique, may not be so easy to cultivate. Yet modern society increasingly depends on ordinary people taking responsibility for doing extraordinary things: operating inside people’s bodies, teaching eighth graders algebraic concepts that Euclid would have struggled with, building a highway through a mountain, constructing a wireless computer network across a state, running a factory, reducing a city’s crime rate. In the absence of guidance, how many people can do such complex tasks at the level we require? With a diploma, a few will achieve sustained mastery; with a good coach, many could. We treat guidance for professionals as a luxury . . . But coaching may prove essential to the success of modern society.”

This quote from a recent issue of The New Yorker magazine in an article by Dr. Atul Gawande-- a surgeon who decided to try having a coach observe him in the operating room and make suggestions for improving his performance-- demonstrates the increasing presence in our world of coaching as a major learning tool and way of life. 

I’d like to welcome you to the world of coaching and invite you to celebrate its presence in our contemporary lives by trying it yourself at my special summer rate below. If you have friends and colleagues who want to make a change in their careers or the overall quality of their lives, this is a wonderful opportunity for them, too!

Join me in the world of coaching-- and make the changes that will open your lives to new possibilities and rewards!

                                        ∞ SPECIAL OFFER! ∞ 

             TO CELEBRATE MY NEW COACHING CREDENTIAL-- and to let you

             or someone you know who’s committed to making a career

             or life change now, I’m offering two summer specials (see below)

             that are 40% off my usual rates if you sign up with me by September 15th!

1)   MAKE THAT CHANGE NOW! - Two hours of coaching per month with email support between sessions. By phone, Skype, or in-office (El Cerrito, California, near Berkeley). Includes body-energy awareness techniques to enhance the coaching experience. $180.

2)   THE BODY-MIND COACHING PACKAGE! - Two hours of coaching per month with email support between sessions AND one hour of touch-based work with body-energy experiencing. [Note: the bodywork session is in-office.] $215.

             Yes, I want to sign up for Eve’s summer special coaching and/or body-energy experiencing rates!   This offer is good through September 15th. For a free consultation, please contact Eve at

How to Do a Major Life Change-- Hold the Largest Possible Vision!

How do you know when it’s time for a major career or other life change?  Sometimes you’re in a situation where a new opportunity presents itself, and you may be highly motivated to go for it.  Sometimes an incident happens that radically alters your life, and you have to decide how to face this change.  Or you may have a growing awareness of dissatisfaction and lack of interest in what you’ve been doing for years.

     The one sure thing is that change is upon you, and your choice becomes how to envision its possibilities.  In my own life, and in those of my coaching clients, what I’ve noticed is that holding the largest possible vision of their potential at a change point can be a great catalyst for the most rewarding transitions.  Not all visions have to be earthshaking in their dimensions.  But they do have to shake you up and sometimes rock your foundations.

     I remember my own career transition from a nonprofit program director to a somatic therapist.  The shift happened at a slow-simmering pace, partly because-- as I realize now-- my original vision for myself was so small.  With no support in creating this transition, I only imagined that I could go on to work at other, larger organizations-- not that I could radically alter my career path!  It was only after experiencing a sinking sensation in my belly after each new interview at other, larger nonprofits that I realized I didn’t want to manage programs at all.  I wanted to do direct personal development work using the body-based techniques that I had found so inspiring and helpful for myself.

     For me, it was a gigantic leap into a career vision that I didn’t even believe was possible, because it was so entirely different from anything I’d ever done before.  But it challenged and caught my interest!  And it came true, with support from my new mentors, within a year.

     Then there are people like super-athlete, Grant Korgan, who became paralyzed from the waist down in a snowboard-mobile accident.  It must have been devastating to experience such a blow to his body, but Korgan’s statement (New York Times, 1/29/12) was:  "I feel like everything happens for us, not to us.  You can decide what you want, that you choose the direction you want to go. That's been the key for me, focusing on what I want, regardless of circumstances.”

     In Korgan’s case, his dream was to trek to the South Pole in Antarctica-- and two years after his accident, he did it, with a great team of supporters, including his wife and two friends who were trekking experts.  That was a huge vision, even if he’d been an athlete in the best physical shape possible, who could move on his own power.  But he did it, thanks to his determination, intensive physical therapy, engagement with his trekking friends in planning and logistics, and constant spiritual affirmation of the value of achieving his goal.

     "I used affirmations to keep me moving forward," Korgan said. "I began silently saying to myself, 'I am strong, I am healthy, I am healed, and I am working toward my goal of reaching the South Pole.' I eventually began to say these statements aloud and my teammates would often join me. Then, I said to myself daily, 'Although my body has been broken in the past, my spirit never can be. I am unbreakable.' 

     Remember that your vision is the culmination of the desire of your true self to blossom and be revealed in the world through the energy of your body and your spirit.  Below are some tips to remind you how to begin this experience of opening to a dream, a new career, or another life direction you most desire:

     1) Hold the largest vision possible for yourself-- one that captures who you really are and what you really want now!  If you’re limiting your vision to only what you know and have done already, you may feel a sense of constriction or lack of energy in your body.  Let your vision grow until you feel expansion through your whole self, body and spirit.

     2) If you can’t hold this vision all by yourself (and most people find it challenging to do at first), find the right kind of support to help you do so.  Sometimes you may need to bring in new people who aren’t so invested in your past career or experiences and who are open to new possibilities for you-- new friends, a mentor in this new direction, a life coach, etc.

     3) Use affirmations such as Grant Korgan’s (above) that tap into your inner power to go forward.  You do not have to know that a particular outcome will happen.  All you have to do is hold the space for belief within yourself that it can.

Summer Time Out-- Re-Balancing Your Energy and Your Priorities

In last week’s blog post (8/11), I wrote about the value of breathing fully and expansively to create space in which to live fulfilled. This past weekend I felt what it was like to do this 24/7 during a stay at Tassajara-- a Zen Buddhist retreat center in a canyon in the Ventana Wilderness area near Carmel Valley, California. 

          Over the past twenty years, I’ve been here many times as a summer guest, and the arrival is always the same. As soon as I alight from the van ride of 90 minutes that carries us 14 miles down a bumpy dirt road, I step into the village where there are no cars and the predominant sound is the rush of water along the stones of the Tassajara Creek. I crane my head to watch the cliff wall at the entrance that goes up and up to the sky, and immediately feel my breathing relax and deepen, as if I’ve just released a 50-pound weight from my back.

          As Ed Brown, Zen teacher and former head cook at Tassajara, writes: “Guests traveling the long road find themselves remote and distant from the anxieties and turmoil of the daily grind. They can relax and let be, enjoy the sun and water, the swimming pool and swimming hole downstream, the hot baths upstream . . . No need here to do, to accomplish, to produce-- it is enough to walk, to read, to breathe easily and rest assured....”

          Actually, this isn’t a travel or spa guide. This is just a reflection of what it can be to rediscover your most open self in a world where, in general, the pressure is on to succeed at work, nurture your family and friendship circles, and manage all the competing demands of life on your time and energy. This time at Tassajara, I met several parents in their early 30’s there for the first time-- who for the first time in a year or two, had left their young children to have the experience of feeling again what it was to be fully in their own skins, eased of vigilance for others, nurtured by good people, good food, and the spirit of the place-- able to “breathe easily and rest assured.”

          Mmmm, I’m feeling my breathing flowing into my belly and back just writing about this time out that was really a time in-- to my true nature. Here’s the place I want to be, too, when I need to make decisions or move in a new and challenging direction-- relaxed like an open hand rather than tight and driven, like a fist. This is the image I hold within myself now when I need to re-balance my energy and my priorities.

          What is the place where your body and spirit open and allow you find the space to re-group and re-balance your energy and priorities?

Shifting Perspectives by Breathing-- Opening with Your Body to Possibilities!

Have you ever come out of an important meeting or some other challenging situation feeling mentally wound up, anxious, and tight in your chest? If you take a minute to check into your body, you will probably notice that your breathing is happening high up in your chest, forcing you to breathe in more rapidly, and giving you a sense of limitation and pressure. Physically and psychically, you’re being cut off from the energy and grounding you could otherwise have from the rest of your body.

          I’ve worked with people using somatic (body-energy awareness) healing and now coaching to help them shift from states of high anxiety and performance pressure into more relaxed and productive energy states. I’ve found that when you learn to shift the focus of your breathing from chest-bound to lungs-open, you can shift to ways of working and living that are more energized, grounded, and centered.  

          In shifting to a more open style of breathing, you also open yourself to higher levels of oxygen and energy, literally, that allow you to take action and engage with others (and your own inner consciousness). As Suzanne Zeman, Somatic Business Coach, notes in her great handbook, Listening to Bodies-- A Somatic Primer: “Keeping the bloodstream oxygenated calms the entire central nervous system, lowering production of the stress hormone cortisol by as much as 50 percent in 10 minutes.  So breathing deeply can help with . . . increasing available energy!”

          Here’s a practice for expanding the volume of oxygen and spaciousness in your body that only takes a few minutes to explore. Sit or stand comfortably and just notice the way you’re breathing. Where in your body is your breath flowing? Where is it stuck or not present? What feelings and thoughts are you experiencing? How do you feel about being with a group of people right now?

          Then let your breathing begin to fill your rib cage where your lungs are protected. Bring the fingertips of each of your hands into the softer, expandable spaces between the ribs on your right and left sides. Breathe into these spaces, filling them up like an accordion. Feel that you are expanding your breathing and energetic container in a way that may be totally unfamiliar to you. 

          You can also try bringing your hands to the ribcage in your back, and expand your lungs into your back.  Isn’t it amazing that there’s so much more room for breathing than you imagined? Now notice what you’re sensing in your whole body. What feelings and thoughts are you experiencing? How do you feel about interacting with others?

          This shift-in-breathing practice can help you become more aware of how you constrict yourself in your body by holding back your breath during uncomfortable work and other life situations, rather like continuing to wear a pair of shoes that are too tight. Then you’re able to change your breathing style to reflect a way of living that is more comfortable and expansive. With this change in breathing, you can literally think, plan, create, live in your body, and relate with others more effectively, energetically, and enjoyably!

“Being a Contribution” -- and How to Jump Start Your Life!

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt that no matter how much you did you simply couldn’t enhance or change the outcome so that you felt alive and purposeful? As a coach, I’ve heard this from people who are very able and successful in their careers, for example, but feel stuck in the quality of their whole lives.

So here’s a question for you-- What challenge can you give yourself that will move you out of a dead end into a place where your energy can move again?

Ben Zander-- co-author of The Art of Possibility and concert conductor-- gives his music conservatory students the following challenge to jolt them out of their attachment as to whether or not they’re playing well enough:  Each week they are to “notice how they are a contribution . . . and to cast themselves as a contribution into the week ahead. . . and imagine that everything they do sends ripples out beyond the horizon.”

So what does this mean in practical terms? Have you noticed how easy it is to get mired in your own expectations, pinning your happiness on your plans and accomplishments?  For example, “This has to be a wonderful trip” or “This relationship will be the one” or “I must do well in this profession-- I’ve invested so much in getting this degree.”

It’s so easy to forget the value of just being who we are and who we like to be--and sharing that with others.  And yet, holding the attitude of “I am a contribution to others and to this planet” can literally redirect your talents and your energy into areas with real potential for expanding and lighting up your life!

I inadvertently played the “I am a contribution” game some years ago when traveling for a while through England with a friend.  When my friend left and I was on my own, it was like I lost my inner compass and didn’t know what to do next, even though I had plans.  I felt absolutely stuck, and I had a number of weeks to go before returning home.

As I sat in my hotel room unable to decide what to do, I suddenly thought of the owner of the hotel-- a pleasant woman who’d talked with me in a friendly way about my trip, but with a look of sadness in her face.  I wrenched myself out of my own preoccupation and thought, “I wonder if there’s some way I could help her be happier.”  This thought moved me out of my room and onto the street where I saw a flower vendor.

On the spot, I bought a small bouquet of fragrant, though not exotic, flowers and presented them to the hotel owner.  I still remember how her face lit up with pleasure as she lifted them to her face to take in the scent of the out-of-doors.  Suddenly, I felt my heart open and a delight in life come back to me.  This small act of “being a contribution” freed me from my limited mindset to an expansive place of spirit, which turned out to be the unsuspected door to the possibilities of my own

As one of Ben Zander’s students wrote about “being a contribution”-- “I know now that music is not about fingers or bows or strings, but rather a connective vibration flowing throughout all human beings, like a heartbeat.”

Confidence and Possibilities-- Entering into the Flow

Last spring I wrote several posts about one of my favorite books, The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander.  Because I’m giving a presentation on this book at Books Inc in Berkeley, CA, on July 31st, I’m going to draw from it again in this post to explore in a different way the quality of confidence that I wrote about last week.

The Art of Possibility assumes that each of us has the potential to re-examine our assumptions about life and expand the way we live by having trust (“con-fidere”-- with trust) in our own hearts and spirit.  When we approach each moment with openness to the possibilities there, we move past fear and into a way of life that flows.  As the Zanders say, “Life flows when we put our attention on the larger patterns of which we are a part . . . Life takes on shape and meaning when a person is able to transcend the barriers of personal survival and become a unique conduit for its vital energy.”

As you enter into flow, you approach a new level of confidence-- one that relies on a sense of bodily grounding, a conscious trust in the gravity of the planet to hold you steady as space opens for you to reach out in your work and your life in new ways.  When you are able to release limited assumptions of what you are supposed to do or how you are supposed to love, a whole new world opens that gives you room to breathe and dance and create!

Maureen Raytis, co-author of the lively guidebook to inner spaciousness, Feng Shui Your Mind, relates her moment of epiphany as she caught herself in her usual habit of rushing home in her car:  “For some reason, that day I noticed that I held my breath through the yellow light . . . Why did I need to amp it up like that? . . . That’s when I started to take notice of all the little stressors of the day . . . Every time I noticed my tendency to hurry, I would stop and start breathing deeply . . . I’m sure you can imagine how this perception-- that there is enough time [and space]-- changed the quality of my energy and my life.”

So here are some inquiries (big questions with many possible responses beyond “yes” or “no”) from The Art of Possibility that I invite you to play with to extend your awareness of the small things that are involved in creating a sense of flow and confidence in your life:

  • “What assumption am I making, that I’m not aware I’m making, that gives me what

I see?”

  • And then-- “What might I now invent, that I haven’t yet invented, that would give me

other choices?”

What insight are you taking away with you now about stepping past the stress of fear and limitation into the flow of spaciousness and confidence?

Changing the Way Things Are-- from “Downward Spiral Talk” to Possibilities

I’ve been happily listening to the enthusiasm with which people I know from all over the US and Europe have been talking about the springtime weather this year.  It’s the first thing anyone mentions in a conversation, as if all the large and petty problems of daily life can take backstage for a time while we watch the flowers bloom.

What a great perspective to have on life!  Of course, work challenges and life upheavals exist and play their part in how we feel about what we’re doing.  But we can choose how much of our time and energy we feed into ways of thinking and talking that uplift us, as well as those that spin us downward.

In their dynamic book, The Art of Possibility, authors Ben & Roz Zander describe the phrase “downward spiral talk” as “a resigned way of speaking that excludes possibility.”  A woman in her early 30’s, Susanna, talked to me about how she’d selected a career in food management several years previously based on her assessment that she loved food and had all the requisite skills. Then she lamented that she’d never had a job that she enjoyed in that field.  As the Zanders say, “Downward spiral talk creates an unassailable story about the limits to what is possible.”

In the course of our coaching together, Susanna began to realize that she was more than the sum of her parts.  In other words, in planning her career direction earlier, she’d left out considering her purpose, what was important to her whole life, what fueled her energy and got her excited about working in the world. When she realized that her passion in life was fundamentally to create community, she was able to look at work in the food industry with an eye to finding rewarding possibilities.

With this new vision based on a deeper understanding of herself, Susanna took over the management of a restaurant that shared activities with a local community center.  Instead of continuing the downward path of negativity and self-doubt, she radiated her sense of commitment to working and living out what was important to her.  She attracted new possibilities where she helped people connect and come together in enjoyable ways that led her to feeling successful in her chosen career.

How about you?  How would you like to open a field of possibilities in your career?  What’s a different perspective you can choose to hold and inhabit to create a new, positive direction in your professional and personal life now?

“Radiating possibility begins with things as they are and highlights open spaces, the pathways leading out from here.”

-- from The Art of Possibility

Successful Transitions-- It’s Your Attitude That Counts!

Because I’m giving a presentation and a tele-class this month on career and life transitions, I’ve been particularly attuned to different aspects of how to go through the change process that I read about, see in films, and experience as a coach and in my own life.  This morning, I found a short article on the use of Vipassana (mindfulness) meditation classes for hard-core inmates of a maximum-security prison outside of Birmingham, Alabama-- and it made me consider again the role of attitude in creating successful transitions.

The William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility is yet another “overcrowded” American prison “with a reputation for mayhem” that brings together groups of “convicted killers, robbers and rapists” who close their eyes and “sit silently with their thoughts and consciences.”  For most of these inmates, this is the only training that they have ever received in self-control, social skills, and how to shift their attitude of constant rage at others to one of greater awareness and serenity.

How important is this for people who may be spending the rest of their lives in jail?  For these people, learning to create a shift in their personal attitude towards their situation may well be their only way out of the despair of lives gone out of control.  One convicted murderer who “radiates calm” says that this meditation course and practice helped him “accept responsibility for his crime and find inner peace.”  He considers himself “the luckiest man in the world” to have ended up in a prison where he was given the opportunity to change his whole perspective on life and his role in it.

So how important is developing inner awareness for those of us fortunate enough to be out in the world with more freedom to make choices?  Often, a successful career or other life transition depends on your choosing a perspective to live with that gives light and meaning to your new direction.  You may possibly not get the job you most wanted, but staying open to the possibilities of another one that you do get can bring unexpected rewards, such as new learning and new directions you might not have dreamed of.  Or you may meet someone who helps change your life.  It is how you embrace every possible opening that allows you to work and live with the confidence that you are on the right path for you!