Wednesday, March 18, 2020

My Worry Limit

I want to put out there what I'm thinking. I can think of no clearer way than to just copy the words directly from my journal. So here you have it, unpolished and uncensored. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 7:30 p.m.

Today I hit a breaking point with this Coronavirus crisis. For the past 6 days-since it started to get really real and life changes snowballed all over the country- I have thought about nothing but it. My mind is full of half baked thoughts that I can't fully reflect on, share, or do much with. My cell phone has been stuck to my hand. I've been obsessively checking Facebook newsfeed, messages, email, WhatsApp, Google News. In part to ease my idol mind, check on my friends around the world, and also stay informed quickly of the next big life change this crisis will inflict. Now, after I'm done with this entry, I'm going to put it all out of my mind until 10:30am tomorrow when I rejoin society. No more being buried in my phone or internet usage. I never thought it would be god to binge watch a tv show and let your mind go elsewhere. I started rewatching Stranger Things and it's been fun to get into their world for a while. 

Right now Coronavirus is spreading and we as a country-as a planet-need to "flatten the curve", stop from continued spikes in cases. This situation feels so surreal. State by state leadership is ordering closures of gyms, restaurants, bars, museums, libraries, bank lobbies. Basically anywhere large crowds can gather. Grocery stores are a bit weird. Mostly they are stocked, but are out of certain things. Stores are selling out of soap, sanitizer and toilet paper as people stock up. I don't know whether to try and stock up on food and supplies if we really get stuck in our houses or not to worry about it too much. I don't even know how to prepare for something like that. I make my grocery list based on what I need for 1 week, not weeks. I mean I know I could buy beans, dry goods, frozen vegetables. But I don't even want to spend lots of money. I don't even want to eat those things long term. Honestly, I'd rather stock up on junk food which can bring me some pleasure. Things that I'd crave if I really can't leave my house. Right now we are just advised to limit outings and stay home. To stay home and self-quarantine if you are feeling sick. You shouldn't go to work because you could be infected and not know it or not have symptoms. So we are all washing hands, sanitizing surfaces, practicing "social distancing"; staying out of places where people congregate. So far outside is still not off limits. :) It's about all we can look forward to doing.  

So how do I move forward after this mental capacity limit? Things are slow enough at work that I am looking at my phone too much to occupy my mind. I need to find projects to keep me busier. The past few days have been slow, but not dead, but I've been annoyed at people that come in. Thinking don't get too close, don't touch me, why are you people even out? But I need to remember that most people are totally fine. If I use the best practices of keeping my distance and washing my hands after working with someone I'll be fine. A lot of hype mixed with uncertainty leaves me as a big ball of nerves. I was wanting a break to reflect and think, lay low and watch t.v. But I am giving it to myself now and since I don't have to be into work until 10:30 tomorrow I'll do it more in the morning. The unknown of whether or not we will close has been getting to me. Whereas I don't want to lose income if I can't work, part of me just wants a break to not have to worry about being around people. But now that we have reduced hours I am getting a little bit of a break and the change of job has already happened-a bit. As for most of those public places closing, even after two days I am accepting it as the new normal. We will have to find entertainment elsewhere. And be conscious of finding joy by using our imagination a bit more. I need to stop being pissed at every little thing. Become more chill, but remember to keep boundaries and respect where I am too. 

I'm not suggesting me, or anyone get all lazy or stop being informed. We all need to do what is in our control. Washing our hands, sanitizing surfaces, being away from large congregations of people, stopping non-essential travel. But if we are doing those things, to the best of our ability there is nothing more we can do. Paranoia, overly worrying, and obsessively checking on the situation isn't going to help us. I'm coming to terms with some of the new temporary normal. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

When You Put Your Mind to Something

I have wanted to go back to Scotland ever since 2011 when I visited there for a brief 2.5 day visit. I loved it so much and Edinburgh quickly became one of my favorite placed I'd ever visited. 

Year after year I prioritized other places, ones I'd never been to, above returning to Scotland for my travels. I never could quit thinking about Scotland. Late last year I decided 2020 would be the year and I made this as a motivator. 

I put my mind to making it happen. Nothing was going to stop me. Until the bizarre happenings of the past few weeks permeated our lives.

It's unclear with the uncertainly swirling all around us whether my trip to Scotland in May will be possible or not. With the feeling of hopelessness washing over me, I'm thinking not. What kind of travel restrictions will be in place then? What will be shutdown?

I'm sure nearly every single person has an instance of something they were looking forward to that will be cancelled due to Coronavirus. My situation is mild, but it doesn't make it any less disappointing. I really thought this was going to be another great instance of putting my mind to something and getting it. Turns out something completely beyond my control is stepping in and putting a stop to it.

As a person who loves to travel this situation leaves me feeling deflated, hopeless, and stuck. This situation is unprecedented for most of us and a first time experience. We can't have predicted it or had any expectations for how we would feel. This is what it feels like to me, although I do feel thankful that I am healthy, safe, have food and other provisions. Fortunately, if I am to be off work, I do have a financial safety net. For some others, and in other crisis like situations, this isn't always the case.

Coronavirus aside, do you have a dream of a trip in your future? Take these tips for making it happen.

1. Figure out what sacrifices might need to be made- I usually like to take two trips per year, but when I set my mind on Scotland I figured that due to the cost I may only be able to afford one trip and that was fine with me.
2. Make fun visual reminders-I made that picture to put on my computer desktop when I decided that I really wanted to do this. I also have a Celtic ring that I like to wear to give me a fun reminder that I'll be going to Scotland.
3. Set aside money-Any extra money that I am earning on top of my normal paycheck I was putting in an account that I named "Scotland". I was dedicating extra savings to make it happen.
4. Make plans to remove barriers-If you need to save up vacation time, arrange child care, or work around schedules, make a plan to make this barriers possible to overcome. If you really set your mind to it, you can over come all barriers.

This Coronavirus barrier is a big one for me. One that I can't overcome with planning, will power, or positive thinking. I still may make it to Scotland in 2020, but that is unknown at this point. For now, I'll focus on the wonderful memories and images that I do have of my brief trip to Scotland in 2011.

*Hang in there, be safe, be well. Be there for each other. This too shall pass. And in the meantime lets think about those who have already lost their lives to COVID-19 and their families. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

For two nights between days at the Grand Canyon, Rababe and I stayed in Williams, AZ, 60 minutes from the park.

When we checked into our hotel, we got an earful from Scott, a fellow midwesterner, who was working the desk. He was full of suggestions on how to enjoy the area. We got our things unloaded and headed off on foot to the main town area, simple walking distance from the Red Roof Inn.

We found some fun shopping. Several shops full of any type of item with Route 66 on it you could want. The stores are blasting music from the era gone by, the 1950s, when people would road trip through small towns like this one.

We found a old west setup complete with a jail, courthouse, saloon, and more. We ate dinner in Route 66 diner, again nostalgic of the 50s.

One of the random small suggestions Scott had given us was to see the cowboy show. From Williams to the Grand Canyon is the Grand Canyon Railway. Visitors can buy round trip tickets for this one-of-a-kind historical experience. The train takes you into the park and several hours later, brings you back. Part of this experience is the cowboy show, before departure. We were not riding the train but since the show took place out in the open before passengers boarded, we could just blend and no one would know the difference. It was fun and a cool historical experience.

We left Northern Arizona from Williams on our final day of our 4-day road trip. It was suggested to us that we take a detour back and head through the mountain town of Jerome, which we were told was a ghost town. Once we got there it proved to be more of a quaint, mountain town with lots of classy and fun shops, places to eat, and nice views. As explained by a local, to constitute a ghost town a place must have 15% of less of it's original population. Jerome is small, but still alive and well. The only ghosts we saw were the Halloween decorations, which the town seemed to have in great supply due to their festive spirit. It made for a fun place to eat lunch, get some rest from driving, and experience a twisty mountain road. (The last bit being the least fun part!)

Saturday, October 19, 2019

One of the Wonders of the World

My trip to the Grand Canyon began in Phoenix, Arizona where I flew in to stay with my Moroccan sister, Rababe. We rented a car in Tempe and headed out on our Arizona road trip. It would first take us to Sedona (more later), but eventually we made it to the Grand Canyon.

We waited in a short line of cars to pay our $35 entry fee, which would be good for 7 days. Our first stop was the super busy (at least the parking lot) visitors center so we could get our bearings within the park. I'd done some research and solicited some advice from friends, but without being there it's hard to make a concrete plan. We first headed to Mather Point, 5 minutes from the  visitors center and the most popular outlook of the canyon. Once we headed to the edge, I grabbed Rababe's hand in joy. This was it! The Grand Canyon.

Grand it is. I was completely mesmerized by the view. The colors and the patterns are simply majestic. It's unreal to think about how this was formed. It's impossible to comprehend, so it's best to just admire and awe in the grandiose view of this incredible natural wonder.
We then traveled to the market and the village. There was some shopping and sightseeing there. It seemed necessary to get the full experience, plus we had lots of time. We knew we had a second day here so we headed out of the park about 5:00. We were staying in Williams for a couple of nights. (More later)

When we discussed how we wanted to spend our second day we decided we wanted to catch a sunset at the Canyon, so we headed there later in the day. We parked at the village and took one of the 4 free shuttle bus tours on the red loop, to the east of the park. We got off a few stops in and wanted to walk a couple miles on the Rim Trail. Once we found a nice spot we camped out there and awaited the sunset. It was early at 6:07pm. We had a peaceful time.

We got on the shuttle back at a good time to beat the rush of the many other people needing rides back after watching the sunset too. This is a pretty popular activity at the park.

Now that I've been there I feel full of advice so here it is!

1) I recommend staying overnight in Williams, AZ. This town is called "Gateway to the Grand Canyon". It was one hour drive to the park on a simple, straight road. There is lodging in the park as well as in the village of Tusayan (5 minutes from park entrance), but Williams is likely the least expensive option and it offers a fun and interesting side experience. It's located on historic Route 66 and the town plays up this distinction well.

2) If you are not up for any kind of major hiking (descending into the canyon) or you are not prepared with proper food, water, and gear-walk the Rim Trail. It's a long trail that literally outlines the upper rim of the canyon. You can walk for hours with the canyon directly to the side of you, seeing various different views of the Canyon along the way. It is paved in spots and is dirt in spots. It's perfectly marked and easy to enjoy.

3) If you just choose to hit hot spots walk down the Rim Trail a bit at those hot spots. That way you can get away from the majority of people and experience the Canyon without a railing. Just don't fall in!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Our first destination on the way to the Grand Canyon from Tempe, was Sedona. I had heard a lot about Sedona for it's natural beauty and New Age intrigue, so it was a place that was important to hit while I was in Arizona. It made for a great stop over point, it was just two hours north of Tempe and two hours south of the Grand Canyon, a half way side trip and rest stop.

Once we arrived we began  hitting the hot spots that someone might try to see with about one day in this destination. I was overtaken by the gorgeous rock formations surrounding this quaint city. The various shades of red, brown, and orange created a palette that I hadn't experienced before in the the U.S. It showed a distinctive corner of our nations landscape. It was very inspiring to witness, much like experiencing the unique landscape of the Pacific Northwest earlier this year. 

One of the highlights of this destination was the Airbnb we stayed in. I chose a quaint little one room apartment that was separate and freestanding from the renters home. Being my first experience with an Aibnb, it was hard to know exactly how it would go, but it proved to be perfect. The place was welcoming, clean, unique, and cozy. A perfect place to have a relaxing vacation night. For our evening we took the renters' advice and watched the Sedona sunset from Airport Mesa. After the sun got through lighting up the sky, we headed to a grocery store to pick up something for dinner and provisions for our Grand Canyon day to be prepared in the morning. We spent our evening enjoying ourselves at "home" and discussing our adventure plans for the next day. 

Sedona is a great place for seeing beautiful wonder, fun shopping, a nice meal, and outdoor fun. The downtown area was crowded but manageable and it wasn't too tough to find a free place to park. A trip to Arizona wouldn't be complete without a stop here.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Tradition and Tattoos

Since my very first tattoo, at age 18, I've been going to the same tattoo parlor and the same artist. At a point, it just became tradition to be tattooed by the same man and I never considered going elsewhere. Each time, however, I was always just a little bit dissatisfied. It wasn't until recently, when my 4th tattoo became my 7th, is when I decided to change things up.  

When I was 23 I got the words "in God I trust" tattooed under my right arm. At that point in my life it was the right choice for me. Several years, and after much evolution in thought, I decided I wanted it covered. I always knew I wanted the tattoo covered, not removed. I wasn't wanting to remove something I once thought, just change it as my beliefs had changed. 

Two years ago is when I began thinking seriously that I wanted to cover it. I inquired about it with my tattoo artist during a separate tattoo session. However, I was torn because I knew that if I wanted to spend the pain, money, and body space on a new tattoo I wanted it to be something brand new. So I didn't think much about covering in God I trust. Not until about six weeks ago when I began asking a couple friends if they wanted to help me create something to put over this old tattoo. These couple of friends have artistic ability and I am close with them, so would have been happy to have their creation on my body. But, I guess I was more serious than I realized about changing this tattoo and before I even got to work with these friends I was already looking for recommendations for different tattoo artists. 

I knew it was time to finally break tradition and go to a new tattoo artist. I specifically asked for recommendations on someone who worked on cover-ups. I got a few recommendations and landed on a local woman named Tricia Santana. I quickly and easily scheduled a consultation with her. 

During our consultation, I realized how much I was needed a feminine touch for this tattoo. I realized how personal this cover-up was. It wasn't me going to an artist with a specific image I planned to have them put on my body. No, this had to be created from the ground up. I wasn't exactly sure what was going to be possible, so I had to start working with her to see what could take shape to cover something already existing on my body. 

I feel like I was full of ideas. I knew I wanted something beautiful on my body, when all my other tattoos were symbols and words of meaningful things to me. Since I wasn't quite sure what we would have to do to cover it, I went to her with three main themes of important things to me. Nature, Universe, and adventure. Soon after connecting with and chatting with Tricia we stuck on the nature theme and a tree took shape. She sketched out my tattoo on paper then began sketching a pine tree over top of it, one of my favorite trees. Then she came up with putting a night sky behind it with some stars popping out. I got so excited to have this on my body! After spending one hour with me, planning, we made an appointment for two weeks out. It would give me some time to think a few more details through. I'm a person who is deeply concerned with symbols and representation so I wanted everything to symbolize what is important to me. 

The day before I decided to have the female symbol hanging off one of the tree's roots. Early on, one of my many ideas was to have some type of feminist tattoo, so I thought representing femaleness in this subtle symbol would check that box. 

This is the first time I ever got a tattoo that was not an image I had already landed on before.  Instead Tricia and I worked together to create something from nothing and she put it on my body. It's the largest tattoo I have, and took the longest and is the only one I have with color other than black. It's also taking the most getting used to because it feels the most foreign on my body as I wasn't sure what it was going to end up looking like beforehand. To me, it represents my love for nature, the outdoors, wonder, the universe, and the beauty of the night sky. Before recently, I may have not considered putting this on my body, but as I've grown this summer I thought it was definitely for me. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Pacific Northwest Adventure

Typically, I travel on my own. However, as my spring travel was coming near, I was feeling less and less like I wanted to make another upcoming trip by myself. I shared this feeling with my long-time friend Dawn and, she, a fellow travel enthusiast agreed we should take a trip together. We bounced ideas back and forth a bit and ultimately we had landed on Seattle, WA. It was a place I had been thinking of going and we could also blend our love mutual love of national parks, by getting in a trip to the nearby Olympic National Park. Dawn also has a goal of visiting all 50 US states before she is 50 years old, so an added trip to nearby Portland, OR would mean she could check off two new states. The trip ended up coming together beautifully. 

We spent our first two days in Seattle where we visited sights like the Seattle Space Needle, the Seattle Japanese Gardens, the Freemont Troll, and the REI Flagship store. Weather was not perfect but we worked with it alright. We had to wear hats but with a light jacket and lots of walking we stayed fairly warm. We never experienced a downpour, but were always underneath overcast skies.

Our third day started with a picking up a rental car which we then drove onto a ferry for the hour long ride across the Puget Sound to get to the Olympic Peninsula. Our first stop was Cash Brewing, a brewery that my mom had found months and months ago. We thought it was incredibly cool to have a brewery with our last name, but of course we're not related. Once I knew I'd be going to the Seattle area, a visit there was added as high priority. I couldn't stop smiling the entire time.

We were bound for the Olympic National Park on our journey through the peninsula. After getting our bearings at the visitors center in Port Angeles, WA we knew the spots we wanted to hit and timed everything out. We day hiked a bit around Crescent Lake, visited the Pacific coast at La Push, drove through and ate in Forks, and hiked in the Hoh Rain Forest. Our day and a half was quick there, but a good amount of time to soak in incredible forests there and experience moss covered mammoth sized trees.

We headed south from there to Portland, OR. Knowing we'd only be about three hours from the city we knew it'd be worth a visit. We arrived at about 9pm and got cozy in our hotel. The following morning we got some much needed breakfast at the famous Voodoo Doughnuts and they were absolutely delicious. We visited the Lan Su Chinese Garden, the Pittock Mansion, and Powell's Books. Portland had lovely weather for us, 70 degrees and sunny.

The following day we roadtripped back up to Seattle stopping at the Mount St. Helens visitor center and Olympia, WA to meet up with a mutual college friend of ours. I have to say one of the highlights was reminiscing with him over old Facebook photos of our crazy nights in the dorm. 

We soaked in a lot of the Pacific Northwest and got a good view of what it has to offer. Definitely a unique landscape and one that I hadn't seen ever before. We really hit a home run with this trip; it turned out to be pretty economical, very safe, and filled with adventure.  

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Life Coaching: Creating a business

When I began my life coaching course, training on how to form a business came along with it. For the past six months I have been slowly chipping away at the details that come with building your own business. Since I've given myself so much time, I've been able to do this in manageable chunks, which aren't intimidating when you tackle them step-by-step. Here is what I have so far:

August-November 2018-Generated at least 15 business name ideas. Kept a running list and finally landed on what I really loved "Collaborative Coaching." Commissioned an old friend, a professional graphic designer, to create a business logo. Went to a free workshop on how to start a small business. Decided I wanted to use the limited liability corporation or, LLC structure for my business. 

December 2018-Decided on a platform to build a website and began building. Secured a domain name and paid for one year of web service. Began laying down ideas for marketing strategies and pricing options.

January 2019-Found out that my business name was not available in the Michigan Database of registered LLCs. (Tip-Do this search before you get connected with a business name!) Whined about it for a while, then went back to my list of 15  names and chose another one I liked: Cocreative Life Coaching. Deciding to change my name meant I had to have my logo design working out again. Additionally I chose a website domain name based on my first choice name, so I had to take steps to change that. Began using Quickbooks accounting software to track the few business expenses I had. Began getting creative with some marketing materials I would like to have printed.

February 2019-Applied for my LLC status through the state of Michigan. Filed out a form, paid a $50 fee, and popped it in the mail. I did some online research to find this information and to be sure I was doing it right, but overall found it to be a very easy process. Filed for my employer identification number (EIN). Wrote my business polices and client contract. Had it looked over by a lawyer

March 2019- I will open up my business checking account. I want to take a month to reflect on my six month training course, tie up loose ends with details of my business, and finalize my marketing materials.

April 2019-Want to be open for business and begin taking paid clients.

Even though I will be this business's only employee, this hasn't been a one-person effort thus far. I'd like to mention some people who have helped me along the way.

Sara Cash-for always being supportive of my ideas and also for suggesting a lawyer to me.
Greg Carter-for creating my logo.
Tom Cash-for being supportive and also helping me recreate my logo.
Dawn Cenowa, Halle Arehart, Alexa Markham, and Heidi Clark-for being my practice clients.
Rebecca McClusky-for looking over my contract for me.
Lynae Arehart-for looking over my marketing materials with a fine toothed comb.

Life coaching: My training

Once I decided that life coaching was for me, there was no stopping me. While I could be accused of rushing things, from the time I decided this dream was driving me forward with a life of its own. 

Firstly I began doing research on what it would take for me to become a life coach. After a quick Google search, it is not hard to see that there are many quickie programs out there, some as low as $100. However, holding myself to high professional standards I knew I wanted to do this right. I learned that practically anyone can call themselves a life coach, with or without training.  I wanted to learn the craft of life coaching so I began researching  more legitimate training programs.

After looking through several options I landed on a program with a tuition cost that I was comfortable with. I chose Symbiosis Coaching because I liked the ease of use of their website; it really explained what I would be getting with my tuition. I felt confident that I would be not only learning how to life coach clients, but also how to form and run my own life coaching business. I made my decision to become a life coach around July 20th, 2018 and I had my first class with Symbiosis on August 9th, 2018. 

I attend a weekly teleclass in which my instructor speaks with the 15 other students in our class. Since the school is international, mostly based in the US, Canada, and India, we phone in from around the world. Our instructor, who is in Canada, leads us through a lecture topic each week, of which we have been given material in advance for. We usually get broken up into pairs where we complete exercises, just like in an in-person class. 

The material is useful and my instructor is very professional. I have had great discussions with other members of the class and learned a great deal from them. Additionally, I have made one close friend, who lives in Seattle. We talk and text weekly to discuss our progress and encourage each other. 

My class is six months in length and at this point I have just a few weeks left. In addition to the weekly lectures I must attend, I have a few assignments that must be completed by the end of the course. 
  • A log of 12 hours of practice life coaching
  • 3-20 minute practice coaching calls with a classmate partner, critiqued by our instructor
  • A profile of my ideal client
  • A client assessment that I have written myself
  • A final exam 
This training program has given me the skills and knowledge to be confident as a life coach. For the past several months I have been applying what I have learned with my four practice clients. It give me a great foundation to be providing quality life coaching to my future paying clients.