Reflecting on Grief, That Perennial Walk Through Dark Woods in Strange Country

I’m reflecting on a setback I’m having at this precise moment. And after an especially good day yesterday, including a phone session with an inspiring new client, a great meeting with my own coach, lessons with two super-fun students, a hug from their empathic mom, and Poker Night with two of my sons and their ladies. Then, boom. The hammer came down. I cried off and on all night.

And yet, I also know that everything is OK. It’s just a natural expression of the yin and yang of all things, including grieving.

So now I’m writing my way through this particular neck of dark woods while listening to Pandora’s “Rain Radio.” I played it for my mother all night right before she died. Now it’s a way of keeping her near me.

And I’m reflecting on the deeply internal roller coaster ride of these almost two months since her death. I’m seeking guidance, too, as always. But in new ways. Connecting with her, or at least trying to. Hoping I’m succeeding. Not sure yet.

But just after I got back to L.A., I had a beautiful dream of her emerging from the rubble of a fallen building, young and strong, with flaming red hair, wearing a bronze raincoat. And another of getting out of bed early one morning to sit in lotus pose to meditate. I’m in the mood to consider that one almost an out-of-body experience. It felt so real, like my spirit actually did get down on the floor without my body. Talk about guidance. I’m workin’ on it.

The bottom line is that I’m hovering at the cusp of a dark place. Falling in at moments. Or for hours. Climbing out.

And again, it’s OK. My mother’s life and the beauty and complexity of our relationship are worth this heartbreak. It makes perfect sense to both my logical mind and my deep feeling function.

In fact, I’ve given myself explicit permission to check in and out of “ordinary reality” as needed. Because the truth is that I’m in explorer mode as always, too, intent on learning whatever I can of the human experience while on this poignant leg of my own life journey.

So far, I’ve learned that I go from intense need for solitude, for unstructured time, free of productivity concerns, to intense need for human contact. But of a kind that can be with me right here, where I was last night and where I am in this moment, grappling with death’s hand in the human condition, up close and personal. And with the fact that my mother’s death is changing me—my priorities, my obsessions—in profound ways that I can’t predict yet, much less express.

I’ve never been here before. And I can’t see through to the other side of this particular, impenetrable stretch of unknown territory.

I’m not afraid, though. I trust this process. I guess it’s the explorer in me. And I realize how stable my life had become these past few years. Stable in ways that I didn’t know I could lose through feeling so searingly painfully the loss of another. I didn’t know that what may have in fact become a phase of stasis gives way, in the face of the tipping of some great hourglass, to… what? So far, I don’t know. At least I don’t have words for it.

And yet, again, I know everything is OK. I know all this feeling is healthy and good and right. Not to be dreaded. Swallowed. Papered over. Made pretty. That in fact such an error would be the makings of future trouble.

Grief will have its space, time, and impact, whether sanctioned and embraced or driven down into the unconscious if we seek to avoid the mess. If well-meaning others succeed in advising and expecting us to close that door and “forge ahead.”

After all, you can’t cram for and knock grief out, like prepping for a big meeting or taking the written test at the DMV. This is soul time. And the soul cares not about “linear” time. It just wants what it wants and needs, what it knows is the work at hand. Work that may indeed inform our trajectories. Our creative and contributory destinies.

And again, I trust all that. I honor it. It’s one way of honoring my beautiful mother. Of honoring these precious lives we’re all gifted with, both our own and those dearest to us.

Because, in truth, I’m still on my path. I’m still creatively engaged, feeling everything and feeling my way. So far, that’s what I need. That’s all I know. And it’s enough for me.


Life Coaching with Teresa Young
Photo: John Livzey

Teresa Young wants you living your dream, for real. She coaches by phone, in person in Los Angeles, and via Skype outside the U.S.




Dare to Swap Those Hand-Me-Down Beliefs for New Possibilities Here in the New Year.

Are Your Beliefs Helping You Create - Life Coach Teresa Young

What do you believe, anyway? About life, and love? About work? How about money?

Consciousness of your beliefs—of what drives you and stops you—is a courageous approach to modern life. You can in fact dare to examine your beliefs. Reflect on them. And make choices that change your life.

One central test of any belief is whether it’s fear-based or growth-oriented. Like believing that “love always fades to quiet boredom.” Maybe it’s been your experience so far, or you’ve seen it play out in the lives of others. Like long-held family knitting-circle talk, or good ol’ boy logic. But does it challenge you to keep risking for the deliciousness you want in relationship? Or do you justify your own lack of heart due to fear of heartache?

Most importantly, are you really free to choose? Consider that any reason why not is a belief, rather than some absolute truth. In truth, we’re living in an amazing era. You and I are actually free to consciously choose our beliefs if we’re ready to do this important inner work. Work that will move us forward in new ways. In the ways that matter most to us.

Now dare to go bravely cast off the hand-me-downs that don’t really suit you. As you get set to do that beautiful work, reach out for the support you deserve. Get yourself a coach!


Life Coaching with Teresa Young
Photo: John Livzey

Teresa Young wants you living your dream, for real. She coaches by phone, in person in Los Angeles, and via Skype outside the U.S.


Is Change on the New Year Horizon for You? Consider the Holidays Your Pre-Season.

Poised to Embrace Change - Life Coach Teresa Young

Today I’m thinking about embracing change. ‘Tis the season for me on a lot of levels, and that intrigues me. Because I know if it’s happening to me, it’s happening to folks around me, too.

‘Twas what season?

I’m thinking about the fact that there are placid seasons in our lives. Times that, as you look back, seem like long stretches of comparatively calm water. But then when was that, exactly? Those six months? That year and a half? But actually, this major life event happened. Then that one. And while they had your attention, the lid blew off the situation around the corner.

Never a dull moment. And that’s the journey. That’s the beauty. Beautiful life.

And yes, change comes in seasons. Like in the movie Chocolat, where a big wind blows lovely Vianne and her daughter Anouk into the village. And we feel it. The “winds” of change. “Spirit.” The unknown. Excitement. Freedom. Fear. Plus whatever grieving we’re doing as we let go of whatever certainties we need to lose.

What do you want to do?

So, here in the season that’s a pre-season, too, with the coming New Year calling me forward, calling you, how do we invite and embrace the unknown? A focus on energy is one way for me. In fact, I say follow the energy. First by getting present to its ebbs and flows. What wants to rise up within you? And what feels exhausted? Exhausting? As in wants to be over, at least for now. Follow the energy as inner wind tugging you forward.

And it’s worth noting here that we humans often don’t embrace change until we have to. Honestly, we all have our ways of treading water, of staying afloat without rocking the boat. That’s why it takes a big wind to break up the status quo. Then we will still stand there or sit or lie and wait and hold back and turn back and start forward and stop flat, until the moment comes when… we’re… ready. Or ready enough. Because sometimes we just have to leap to learn what we need to know.

Party and plan. Present and future.

This holiday season, relish the known. The now. And especially all our delicious ritual experiences. Meanwhile, in the margins, as big context, keep watching for what wants your attention. Then in moments that feel right, try out some new moves. Put a toe into that growth-and-change dance that it’s time to do. And while you’re dancin’, look around for and enjoy all the fine folks right there with you on the wild, wonderful journey.


Life Coaching with Teresa Young
Photo: John Livzey

Teresa Young wants you living your dream, for real. She coaches by phone, in person in Los Angeles, and via Skype outside the U.S.


Invite Some SuRpriSe Into Your Life. It’s Only Always Good for You. For Us.

Invite Surprise with Life Coach Teresa Young

When’s the last time someone—or life—surprised you, in a good way? Can’t remember? Ready to change that? Gotta invite surprise on in.

Often, for all our talk of wanting more of this or a different that, we tend to travel the same well-worn paths over and over.

Habits that have grown stale.

Casual daydreams—or richly detailed fantasies—of adventure or change that we don’t act on.

Often, too, there’s no real reason why, or why not. Maybe it’s just how we’ve lived. Or how we’ve watched the folks around us “do life.” Besides, our routines are comforting, right? They work.


Or do they?

Maybe the truth is somewhere between yes and no.

To welcome the element of surprise into your life, get curious about the unknown. And about that part of you that’s perhaps waiting for its turn at bat, or on the dance floor. Out snorkeling. Up on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Move over, known. Time to mix things up!

Take a different route to work. Make a point to notice things along the way. Say yes! when you usually say no, or instead of that famous decision-in-a-non-decision:  we’ll see.

Sit quietly if you usually don’t. Head out for a walk without a particular purpose. Call a friend without anything on your mind to say. Wear something really different for you.

Book that trip. Take that class. Ask for that raise! Try saying no to things, too. See and feel where different choices take you. And pay special attention to whatever meaningful coincidences or unexpected opportunities arise then. Because they do. They will.

You deserve an amazing life. Invite surprise in for surprising developments. Woohoo!


Life Coaching with Teresa Young
Photo: John Livzey

Teresa Young wants you living your dream, for real. She coaches by phone, in person in Los Angeles, and via Skype outside the U.S.





What IS Coaching Anyway, You Say? How About if We Start With What It Isn’t?

What Is Coaching? With Life Coach Teresa Young

What is coaching? OK. Think football. Basketball. Golf. The Olympics.

Got it? Now, can you imagine sports teams—or their star players—performing to their potential without their coaches?

Now widen that view to me and you. Because life has been changing lightning fast since the late 20th century. And never more so than now.

More and more we understand what we used to be oblivious to. Like the connection between food and health. Between stress and health.

We get the connection between the ways we do life and what we get done.

So what is coaching?

First consider the connections between:

1.  habits, beliefs, and dreams
2.  powerful support systems, or lack thereof
3.  our ability to set and meet inspiring goals

Clearly we’re each a mix of histories, beliefs and experiences that impact our approach. What we think we can do. Think we deserve.

What coaching isn’t

By the way, coaching isn’t therapy, another amazing resource. Coaching is present- and future-based, and ultimately about achieving goals, not healing the past. The golf pro expects to actually get to the next level with that swing through coaching, not just understand and accept how it developed so far.

But let me be crystal clear: I’m not saying therapy doesn’t promote growth. It absolutely does. It’s just that accomplishing what we want is the specific, jacked-up, razor-sharp point of being coached.

Also, effective coaches know you can’t just put icing on whatever’s there and call it cake. To put it another way, positive thinking isn’t a game changer. Coaching is inspirational, and instructional. And so much more.

How ’bout client-centered partnership?

So, again, what is coaching? It’s a creative partnership that supports clients in bringing their own wisdom, energy, instincts, intelligence, desire, and focus to setting and achieving what matters most to them. One step at a time.

Plus when we think of athletics, we know coaching has been around for a long, long time. Expert support to optimize performance isn’t a fly-by-night fad. After all, the first written records of the Olympic Games were in 776 BC!

Fast forward to these days, here in the 21st century, and life coaching isn’t just for the extraordinary few. We live in an amazing age in which we really can pursue our unique, individual dreams, whether or not there’s a crowd behind us. We just deserve someone in our corner who knows what to do there.

The nitty-gritty

So for more of what is coaching, my clients get consistent, energetic support. They get active listening. Empowering and clarifying questioning. Then action planning. Of course ultimately they get held accountable. And last but not least they get celebrated for their large and small successes. Repeat as needed.

What’s more, we uncover and dismantle bugaboos that may come up and get in the way. After all, that’s human, and it’s why support matters. In fact we tackle what impacts the present and future and do the work toward real forward movement.

Just like star players run those drills. Put in the time on that swing. Work that free throw. And that’s beautiful.

Meanwhile, as you consider this playbook of helpful sports analogies, reach out for more info if life coaching sounds like a fit for you. No doubt your MVP year awaits!


Life Coaching with Teresa Young
Photo: John Livzey

Teresa Young wants you living your dream, for real. She coaches by phone, in person in Los Angeles, and via Skype outside the U.S.








When Things Fall Apart? Just Proceed. One Baby Step at a Time, One Foot in Front of the Other.

Hurricane Michael - Life Coach Teresa Young

Processing… everything

I’m in Houston en route home, feeling like I’m back in civilization. Airport WiFi! Still intensely connected to what will be a long recovery process in Panama City after Hurricane Michael. There’s plenty I can check on and text my father about on the iPhone I drove 100 miles to get for his birthday. That new communication channel helped me get on the plane.

Recovery will be slow for my mother, and for the town. For my father, too. He has worked himself to the bone. Not just since Hurricane Michael. And not just the month before that, after my mother’s surgery. But for the past two years, when she was clearly ill but not yet correctly diagnosed. His health has suffered in the process. Anybody who has been through their own aging parents’ tough times knows where I am now, with them at the threshold of overwhelming new territory.

Emotion, empathy, and encouragement

So despite my crazy-love for my beautiful life with Kevin in lovely Sherwood Forest, CA, and all the phenomenal clients and students I’ll be thrilled to get busy with again, I had a terrible time leaving Panama City. Especially as my father and I agreed that I had to get in my car and go before we both broke down.

And I’ve experienced firsthand now how natural disasters are in the news for a week or two, then fade from view. The truth is that the recovery process is barely underway exactly three weeks out. The shock everybody is in is still descending. I heard dark threads of conversation all over that I had to empathize with AND interrupt with encouragement. The stages of grief are just beginning.

Blossoming in hardship

On the other hand, a surprising upside to this life-altering devastation has been my family coming together. And that’s a big one. In fact this left coast liberal and those red state Republicans have re-connected in ways we haven’t been capable of in many years.

My local brother Ken is kind of my twin on the planet, the big guy version born 364 days later. One day a year on his birthday we’ve always said we’re the same age. He’s former military, and about the time I started my own business he started his. These days the ace helicopter mechanic runs his own tractor company.

It was fun, if you can call any part of such a devastating situation fun, to watch him take a day for the second time to deal with our parents’ ruined property. The first time he cut them out of a thick barrier of downed trees the day after Hurricane Michael struck. That was after trying three different times to get to them from twenty miles away. He had to turn back twice before he finally got there with extra water and a stash of gas for their generator.

The second time he worked to get everything—tangles of trees from their yard and a formerly wooded lot next door, all kinds of debris like siding, roofing, front porch overhead fan parts, mailbox—to the side of the road, where we think FEMA will take it from there. Seemed to me he was doing what he was about from the time he was pint-sized, pushing dump trucks around in the yard, being his energetic self in the world.

Day in the life

My brothers and I managed some beers and a party-planning conversation last Friday at an essential establishment of theirs that was running cash only and standing room only. Then we all headed in different directions in the nasty traffic that’s status quo now. My former military/current security pro brother Michael, on loan from his work overseas, trekked back to our AirBnB townhouse out on the beach. Ken headed to his 70 acres in nearby Chipley, me to our parents’ place right where the storm has wrecked everything. I had to smile as I was trying to find my car and saw Ken already rolling out onto the highway in his 50-foot rig, sporting one of several Caterpillar contraptions he works with. A day in the life.

Then yesterday as he was clearing our parents’ lot, they lost water to the house again. Amazingly, somebody from the Water Department came right out and diagnosed an issue on the property side, underground. Since it wasn’t at the street, it wasn’t his problem. Next thing I knew, Ken was waist-deep in a hole, gluing something with a super-pro product Michael had snagged on command from the hardware store. And my parents had water again. Michael had already rigged up a little antenna that my dad got at Best Buy years ago, so now they can watch some TV. I fed everybody. That’s been my thing.

Best birthday ever

Regarding Dad’s birthday celebration, we did it. Unsanctioned by our parents, it went down, and Dad loved it. Two little girls in the neighborhood even brought over homemade peanut butter cookies. Impressive in the midst of the mess at hand! Though Mom didn’t manage to rise from her bed to join us, she said she thinks it was Dad’s best birthday ever.

And a note on the satellite image of Hurricane Michael here: just before I left, Ken learned that emergency responders had finally recovered one of Mexico Beach’s destroyed weather station recorders. They learned then that it had measured sustained 160 mph winds with gusts of up to 201 mph. Good thing this storm moved fast or its consequences would have been even worse.

Tough stuff and temporary opportunities

Meanwhile, Panama City and larger Bay County have had two hospitals for decades. Hurricane Michael hit them both hard, and they’re both still closed except for emergency services. Right now long convoys of troopers and sheriffs roll through town, sirens blazing, getting people to hospitals 60 or more miles away. (Do they transport one patient in each vehicle?) Moreover, on my drive to get Dad’s phone I heard urgent requests on the radio for extra hospital personnel. Plus notices that emergency nursing certifications are temporarily available, something I’ve never heard before.

Most importantly, I’m grateful for the part I’ve been able to play for my family in this crisis. For everything I’m learning about natural disasters. I know west coast folks need generators to complete earthquake prep. (Think about multi-week power outages.) Landlines will be useless. You sleep and wake with the sun.

For now, back to my dear La-La Land

For now I’m so ready to get back to my deeply satisfying work. And I’ll keep going back to Panama City every other month. My parents need help to prepare for and make immense changes. Get ready to sell that 2-story house. Is it time for assisted living? Can they agree on what’s next? It’s no longer a someday situation. For now one thing they do agree on—I keep asking—is that they won’t be coming out to La-La Land. :)

THANK YOU AGAIN AND ALWAYS to everyone who helped us. As my niece Kyla says, “You have done something great.” We’ll never forget it.



Life Coaching with Teresa Young
Photo: John Livzey

Teresa Young wants you living your dream, for real. She coaches by phone, in person in Los Angeles, and via Skype outside the U.S.