How to Help Your Spouse Find A Better Job

If your spouse is looking for a change, follow these 4 steps to recalibrate their career trajectory.

There are few things more heartbreaking than someone hating their job. Work is where most people spend the majority of their waking hours. And if your spouse is the breadwinner, they feel this responsibility—they have to work, they have to make money, or the whole system breaks.

I live in the suburbs, where I see lots of dads and moms dragging themselves to the bus or train stop at 6 a.m., commuting with miserable looks on their faces. The twinkle long ago left their eyes, and they are hating every minute of it.

It doesn’t have to be that way. If you are watching the spring go out of your partner’s step…

(originally appeared on HitchedMag.com)

Don’t Even Consider Moving Without Answering These Important Questions

As a life coach, the author has helped clients decide if they should move across the country, out of the country, or stay put. Here are the questions she has her clients ask themselves when deciding to make the move.

Do you have friends or family there? Do your friends have family there or does your family have friends there? Do any of your Facebook friends have contacts there? Simply put: Get the skinny from someone who lives there. Get the inside scoop. Ask what they love about the place, what they wish was different, how it works for families, singles, kids, pets—whatever is important to you. Recently, my husband was contemplating a job change to Baltimore. I found out I knew two people who were living there: a friend from grade school (who I hadn’t spoken with in 20 years) and an ex-boyfriend’s sister (who I hadn’t spoken with in a decade). We connected via Facebook and in days we were having long conversations where I could cut to the chase, get the story on the city from people who knew me—and the city—well.

Are you looking for an adventure?

Sometimes it’s time to mix things up. Perhaps you’re living in the same town where you were born and you just want to try something new. Maybe you’re in your 20s and ripe for an adventure…

“I’m a Single Mother by Choice—and I Love It”

Are you considering becoming a single parent by choice? Here’s how one single mom did it all on her own—from selecting sperm to becoming pregnant to having two children—and she’s sharing all her top secrets on how you, too, can become a parent.

Have you always wanted to be a mom?

Kate McNeil did. She comes from a very close family, and being a mom was always part of the life she saw for herself. So when she wasn’t finding a worthy partner and she was getting older…she realized not having a partner didn’t need to keep her from having a family. Kate started telling friends about how she could leave Brooklyn, move to New Jersey, and become a mom. She could do this on her own. Kate cautions that once you start building out that vision, it can happen rather quickly. In her case, once she decided to give single parenthood a go, she was pregnant within four months. Read on to find out everything she learned on her own journey to motherhood...

(originally appeared in Reader’s Digest, rd.com)

8 Secrets No One Tells You About Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

These are the little things that every new mom realizes eventually, but no one really talks about.

1. You may pump in some crazy places.

While it’s wonderful that companies are now required by law to provide lactation rooms and breaks to nursing moms, you may not be pumping there all the time. Have you ever had to go to the bathroom on a long road trip and you’re stuck in traffic and, and…you just pull over and pee at the nearest gas station restroom, even if it’s filthy? Sometimes biology takes over and you just need to do your thing. Breast milk let down is like that, too. Your breasts may get full and hard as rocks and need to do your thing, even if you’re in the car on your way to a meeting or commuting on the train. You may want to invest in a car adapter or a battery-operated breast pump so you can pump on when you’re on the road. Though you may cover up, people may catch on to what you’re doing. And expect the cloth to fall so that you’re less surprised when it does. Even if you’re pumping in private, you may forget to lock the door or pull the blinds and co-workers with the very best of intentions may still walk in. Rest assured, they are always, always, way more embarrassed than you are.

2. Working helps you connect with yourself again.

“It’s so nice to have adult conversation!”, “I feel like my pre-baby self again!” and “It’s good to not have to focus on the baby for a few hours,” are some comments I hear in every class. Let’s face it, before you had the baby (and while you were carrying the baby) it was all about you. Since having the baby…

(this piece originally appeared on Reader’s Digest, rd.com)

What You Need to Do to Bounce Back Stronger from Failure

We all make mistakes. It’s how we handle it that can make matters better—or worse.

1. Congratulations: You Failed

Call it what it is: You messed up! Did you crash your car into a light pole? Or was it only that you tucked your skirt into your underpants and walked through the office before realizing it? As long as you’re okay physically, dust off and get right back up. (Resilience is key.) As skiers say, if you’re not falling, you’re not getting better. Rule one of bouncing back from failure: Admit it, own it.

2. Do a post-mortem

Post-mortem translates to “after death” and doctors use it to refer to the review done following a patient death to spot any errors. You’re still breathing, but you’ll have trouble moving on from a mistake unless you conduct your own post-mortem. Analyze the situation and figure out what went wrong. For an outside perspective, you may want to enlist friends and loved ones. Recently, a client of mine was supposedly fired for frequently coming in 10 minutes late. The thing was, he hadn’t been late since his boss warned him about it three months earlier. So lateness wasn’t really the reason. By speaking with coworkers, colleagues, and a coach (me), he was able to figure out what led to the firing and deal with the real issues.

For the next tip, click here

(note: I originally wrote this piece for Reader’s Digest’s web site, www.rd.com)

Anger Is the Key to Happiness

I started off 2017 with an education resolution: I wanted more of it. And so, I signed up for a class on Happiness, created by the Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and offered by edX. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

In my first lesson, I had a couple of significant take-aways about happiness: it’s correlated to a longer lifespan, the ability to regain health after disease, greater creativity and problem solving. And if you’re going to live a long life, heck — you might as well be happy.

But the part of the conversation that stuck with me most of all was the value of anger.

Angry BabyOne of the best things I did recently with a large amount of anger I was feeling was to find an immediate physical outlet for it. I don’t remember what caused the anger, but I was fuming. I told my husband I wanted to throw something. He suggested plates, but I didn’t want to be wasteful (I was angry, but not irrational!). However I wanted to see something explode. Eureka. “ICE! GRAB THE ICE!”

We went outside and damned if I didn’t destroy an entire bucket of ice. It exploded all over the ground, and my body released. That tension, that anger, I released it.

And I don’t remember what I was so angry about, but I do remember the cathartic thrill of the release. It was great. My husband was impressed with my vigor, and I enjoyed release. It was almost orgasmic.

And yet, I felt guilty for getting “out of control”. As a person, as a woman, as a mother.

As it turns out, there’s NO NEED to feel guilty!

Here’s something I learned in my very first class from Dachel Keltner, the co-director of the GGSC:

“So Aristotle writes [when articulating his Principle of Moderation], anyone can become angry. That’s easy. But to be angry at the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose and the right way that’s not within everybody’s power and that’s not easy. When our passions are cultivated in the right context, they bring us happiness and the good life.

And even passions like anger when, for example, engaged in societal injustice can bring about a lot of good and happiness. Aristotle is suggesting moderation and acceptance of our passions as a pathway to happiness.”

So. The ice smashing brought me relief and release. Admiration from my husband, and some humor. But I didn’t really take action. I didn’t use the anger; I just got rid of it.

More research, this time from postdoctoral scholar Lahnna Catalino of UCSF, found that

“The negative emotions that arise from negative life events, big or small, are natural and help us better understand ourselves—they provide vital information about what we value and what might need to change in our lives. For instance, feeling a wave of anxiety about your physical health may actually motivate you to improve your dietary habits.”

Aha! So in this case, a little anger is good for you. It’s your brain trying to say, “Wake up, Buddy. We have work to do.” Pay attention to the anger, it’s a message: Time for a change.

Anger is the indicator light in the dashboard that you’ve got to tend to something, something that’s wrong. I want to finish with a quote from Psychology Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky of UC Riverside which closes the loop on what happy people can do with their anger.

“Happier people are more likely to tackle the problems of the world. They have more energy, they are more goal oriented. They are very focused on others. If you’re not happy, you tend to be self-focused, you want to solve whatever problems you have. If you’re happier, you’re more likely to go out and do something about those problems that are going on.Women's March on Washington

Happy people make change happen because they have the energy and the creativity to see the opportunity. Fuel your happiness to fuel change. Visit with your anger, because anger is important, telling you what you value, and what needs your energy (after all, anger can use up a lot of energy). But as Aristotle noted, how you use that anger: in the right way, at the right time, directed to the right person, that is the key.

And the more positive change you create, based on that useful anger, the happier you’ll be.

 

Get Unstuck (Video)

Want to see some raw honesty from a rough life coach? Here’s me, first thing in the morning (after coffee but before a shower), answering the following question:

Why do you enjoy helping people get unstuck and get more out of life?

My coach asked me this question, and challenged me to speak directly to you, and explain my motivation to coach. After all, if I’m going to help you do what you want to do, what’s the proof that I’ve done it myself? Here you go. Thanks for watching. I look forward to hearing what you think.

 

People Are Like Goldfish

My family and I went to a festival recently, and they had one of those games where participants can win goldfish. Of course this the prize both of my 3-year-olds wanted.

And, after carrying those fish around for 2 hours, carelessly tossed to the side when a kid was eating pizza, swimming away from the claws of a 3-year-old trying to “squish the fish”, they made it home to a place that had no bowl and no food.

These fish were exhausted, traumatized. And no, the pet store was not open after we finally put our children to sleep.

Our two fish were to live in a pitcher and go hungry. After all that. 🙁

At the pet store the next day I was reassured by the pet store staff that there was no point in giving festival fish a nice habitat, as they were bred to live short lives. They were just meant to be prizes, or feed other fish.

life coach

Fish or food?

Slightly more research yielded a different perspective — these festival fish, also called common goldfish or comets could grow up to 18 inches! Instead of keeping them in a pitcher as I had been, these giants-to-be deserved a filtered tank, and due to the intense amount of excrement they produced, no more than 2 fish to a 10 gallon tank at a minimum.

I splurged and went with a long 20 gallon tank for my fish (which cost less than $100), to see if this fish tale could possibly be true.

The fish remind me of my coaching clients. At some point, my clients were put in a tank that was the wrong size. They heard lots of shoulds and cant’s, and stepped away from something they wanted to do.

They come to me to fix a situation, something that is wrong that is nagging at them, whether it’s career, family life, or most frequently a combination of the two.

I believe in people. I believe that everyone has something that they can do to contribute to the world. Their superpower. Maybe it’s revolutionizing school lunches. Maybe it’s helping AIDS orphans in Africa and Thailand. Maybe it’s creating the most beautiful, high end bridal shop in New York City. Maybe it’s publishing a series of cookbooks, and the words and pictures to go with them.goldfish

People have skills and talents. Unique gifts. Last weekend I was at a wedding and met a woman who makes gorgeous jewelry out of flat polished stones that she finds on the beach. Another who makes large installations of wine cork art (some of her pieces have over 4000 corks!). Both are at the beginning of their artistic/entrepreneurial journeys; I can’t wait to see where these passions take them in 3 to 5 years.

These passionate people deserve big tanks so that they can grow to the full extent of their abilities.

I coach because I believe in people. I also believe people have an easier time stepping into their zone when they have an advocate who shares their vision and believes in their ability to accomplish it. The only thing that stands between a constipated superhero and a contribution to the world is partner that believes in them and holds them accountable to their vision

My work as a coach allows me to be the scaffolding as these superheroes are built.

And those goldfish? Well I’m happier to say that the experts were right. Comets grow fast! In just 3 months, my fish are thriving and have doubled in size, from under 1 inch to big, fat two inch goldfish (with incredible appetites).

Don’t be surprised if you come to visit me in my office and find a 50 gallon tank with just a few big fish in the next few years.

I believe in what happens when fish (and people) are put in the right environment.

life coach

C’mon Get Happy

The old Partridge Family song takes me back. I’m a kid again, dancing around on a shaggy blue carpet. Nursing a serious crush on David Cassidy. No responsibilities. Little to no power either, but it’s the singing and dancing that I remember. And the feeling of being happy.

Segue to today: I’ve been reading a particularly fabulous book, recommended by one of my clients, called The Sweet Spot, by Christine Carter.

It focuses on that whole overwork / work life balance thing. (You know, what I do for a living :-)). Though it may seem like well trodden terrain, she offers solutions for getting your life back, enjoying it, thriving at work and  having a short fitness routine that will get you in solid shape.

One thing I’ve started doing is using this free app called Happier. If you bob and weave through the solicitations (not that hard to do), you’re able to use it to record something every day that makes you happy. It automatically pulls up your pictures and prompts you with your own visual memories — just in case you forgot how fantastic that trip to the garden with your daughter was.

Minimal investment, maximum happy.

Minimal investment, maximal bliss.

I like doing this daily; it’s a quick passage to emotion (like the kind I get when I look at the old David Cassidy pictures), which encourages the building of neural pathways of joy. It reminds me to sit in that moment – an take a deep tub soak of positive emotion. There’s ample research to demonstrate the impact of regular positive thinking, gratitude and connecting with emotions.

Plus, after a few weeks, I have this incredible flip book of happy moments – the moments that seem inconsequential at the time, but are the tapestry of your life. So record your happy once a day, or once in the morning and once at night. However you choose to remember your happy, the benefits are clear.

As a wise man once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” And when you stop to capture those seemingly insignificant, powerful and joyful moments, you’ll be able to marvel at your own incredible life.

Client Q&A: Space Saver Sarah Roussos-Karakaian

Sarah Roussos-Karakaian and her husband Nick are Nestrs, the husband and wife organizing, design and construction team. This month, they’re offering 8 hours of free design work for clients in the tri-state area. WHAAAAT? Read on for more details…

These two roll up their sleeves and refresh your space.

Sarah and Nick Will Refresh Your Space.

Sarah and Nick have a passion for space planning, interior design, and home renovations. You may have seen them on HGTV’s summer series Beach Flip, in which they demonstrated their classic revival design approach to flipping a beach house in Gulf Shores, AL.

Sarah is a Professional Organizer and Interior Decorator and began her journey after ten years traveling the world performing in hit Broadway musicals where the only constant thing was her two thoughtfully compartmentalized suitcases. Her husband Nick Karakaian is a general contractor with a masters degree in architecture.

You’re giving away 8 hours of free home design/organizing to select clients in the Tri-state area over the next 3 months. Why?

Our homes are our safe havens. We’re seeking potential clients who aren’t afraid to shout, “Help! I can’t get organized on my own.” or “Help! My space is boring and I just can’t figure out how to make it beautiful.” or “I don’t have time!” I’m giving away design work to build my portfolio and showcase the kind of work I want to do more of – I want to refresh your living or bedroom, help you with your nursery or playroom, or even update your patio – gauzy curtains, rugs and a full outdoor living space. I’d like to take ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures — these will help my business grow.

I’m looking for spaces that need saving for clients who don’t mind sharing their experience with me in exchange for 8 hours of complimentary work. Everybody wins!

How did you and your husband Nick create Nestrs?

I was sitting in a coffee shop one day waiting for a friend. I was on HGTV.com, looking for inspiration for clients and came across a casting call for an upcoming reality show to air on HGTV. My friend was running late so I decided to fill out the questionnaire. The next day I got a call from a casting director – and the rest is history. HGTV auditioned both Nick and me several times over the course of 4 months and loved our complimentary talents of organizing, construction, and design. We beat out over 1,000 applicants to be on Beach Flip. We flipped a 3 bedroom condo on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. It was a grueling and exciting 2 months of filming. When we got back to NYC – we took a week to sleep off the exhaustion – we had this excitement inside of us. We couldn’t share where we had been or what we were up to with our friends and family until the show aired three months later – but the chemistry between Nick and myself fixing up this home was electric. We hoped this show would draw attention to Nick’s general contracting work and my talents for organizing, space planning, and decorating. So, we started a company together and called it Nestrs, highlighting our organizing, design and construction work.

coaching client

Who loves the smell of drywall?

You just redid your house in Astoria. What are you most proud of?

We just finished our kitchen and it. is. everything! The house is super tiny, technically 650 sq ft – but we count the basement since it is finished now – so that makes it a sprawling 1300 sq ft. The kitchen is in the basement and could be considered weird – until you see it now! We’re lucky enough to have a backyard, as small as it is, and it’s right off the kitchen, so it’s a great entertaining space in the warm months. We knew we had to make the kitchen the show piece of the home it is now so no one will ever think to ask why it’s located in the basement. It used to be two small rooms – one laundry room and then the kitchen space. We decided to unify everything to make it feel more open. It’s gorgeous and we’re so proud of it! That being said, we’ve learned a lot on this house.

Who is your ideal client?

I love helping busy people who have an appreciation for gorgeous, but sensible, design – they just don’t have the time or know-how to make it beautiful. I really jam with people transitioning in their lives; it could be moving into a new home, having a baby, getting ready for a significant party, or starting over in some capacity and needing a change – I excel at working with deadlines and making positive change happen as quickly as possible. I work well with clients who are looking for a no-nonsense professional who prides herself in complete client satisfaction.

coaching client

Clean Kitchen Design

How much of finding the right client is a personality / aesthetic fit? Do you bring your aesthetic or help the client find theirs?

It’s important that our personalities jive, but our design style definitely doesn’t have to. A lot of clients aren’t sure what their style is so we must be able to communicate comfortably in order to figure it out! The way we organize your linen closet or work flow of your kitchen has to work for you – not me – I just ask the right questions to help you figure out what makes sense to you. Same goes with design: I have the eye to make what you’re attracted to in the magazines work for your space, lifestyle, and budget.

How can potential clients be sure you’re the right team for them?

To start, Nick and I will walk you through all aspects of our proposal. Furthermore, we believe in our chemistry and craftsmanship so much that when its appropriate we often have potential clients come over to our home and see our work first hand for themselves. Ever wonder what a professional organizer’s closet looks like? I’ll show you! We sell 100% maple cabinets that are affordable and beautiful. Don’t believe us? Come over and open and close our drawers! We’ll even provide snacks and wine for making the trip. Our home is almost like a showroom – we know how personal it can be having us in your home that we want potential clients to know how much we appreciate them considering us for their big project by welcoming them into our space in an effort to put their mind at ease moving forward with us as a team. We think that’s pretty special and can’t be said of all home improvement businesses.

Where do you shop? Do you have a design philosophy?

There are so many styles out there and each one ends up getting tweaked or mashed up with another style to make it perfect for an individual or family. In the end, I’ll see to it that we nail the look you’re after. I love sourcing materials and decor items from places like Target, IKEA, Wayfair, and Etsy. We go through so many phases in our life, I’d hate to design a space that you’d need to completely renovate to change it up! These resources offer most of the products you need to transform your space, but with the flexibility to mix it up a bit down the road. I’m so on board with splurging on the perfect couch or super comfy mattress – I just don’t think vases need to cost thousands of dollars in order to achieve beautiful design.

Do you have any tips for us regarding spring cleaning?

Why yes! Yes I do! It just so happens that I have 14 Tips for Spring Cleaning and Organizing. Find them here on my blog.

Why did you reach out to a coach? 

I want to go from great to superstar status! I’m proud of the journey I’ve taken so far. And yet, I feel like I’m just getting started. I’m a big believer that life is meant to be enjoyed – it’s part of the reason why I love organizing and designing so much: we should surround ourselves with peace and harmony and eliminate stuff that takes up too much of our space and time. That said, there is always room for improvement and growth and that’s where I am in my career. I want to work smarter, not harder. Having a skilled coach who can look from the outside in is just the thing I need to advance as a business owner. I love helping others and admire when they finally get the courage to pick up the phone and call for help. I wanted to take my own advice and do the same. It’s been the best decision I’ve made thus far.

Get social with Sarah, Nick and Nestrs.com:

Instagram: @Nestrs
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thenestrs
Twitter: @thenestrs