Sunday, June 29, 2008


I mentioned in an earlier post that I chose the word to represent me. It seemed right at the time, but I guess now that I’ve had the thought: “Opening is a good word for me.” I’ve begun to open even more.

The Ropes Course is located near the resort we stayed at last year. I know the area very well so it surprised me I’d never seen it before. What do I mean? Well, I guess last year I was so in my head about hating the out of doors that I never actually noticed them. I didn’t notice what a gorgeous spot we were in. When we pulled up to the Ropes Course yesterday my heart skipped a beat.

“Were these mountains here last year?” I asked Jen.

She laughed. “I thought it was odd you never mentioned it last year. I talked about how beautiful it was here with just about everyone else.”

Of course the mountains were here; I hadn’t shown up.

At the beginning of the challenge, Jesse, the Ropes Course owner shared his favorite Wayne Dyer quote with us: “When you change how you see, you change what you see.”

I knew this was true for me. As I changed and opened, I was seeing so many things I’d never seen – the mountains, the sky, my authentic self. It was all laid out for me to see.

This retreat has been a time of deeper opening for me and a time of acknowledging all the new things I have enabled myself to see by thinking new and better thoughts. And the best thing about opening is that it’s a process that goes infinitely. Imagine how much more there is to be seen!

Unwilling to Be Coached

Brooke told me I was unwilling to be coached today. She’s never said it before and I guess I was stung and stuck by it; but I believe in Brooke and her coaching style and I don’t think she’d say that if it weren’t true.

I’ve been asking myself all night if that thought is true – was I unwilling to be coached. Somehow I know the answer is yes but I can’t see my way through my story to that truth.

On the Ropes Course, I went half way up a pole. It was so much harder physically than I expected. I wasn’t scared, but I was discouraged I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was. Still from the moment I said I couldn’t do it, I took 3 more steps. When I was lowered down I felt great for pushing myself beyond what I thought possible and then Brooke reminded me my weight made this challenge harder. I had fantastic thoughts of my success.

Then in a coaching session, Brooke said she believed I could have climbed up the pole 5 times and the only reason I couldn’t was my thought I couldn’t.

“What do you think you would have done if you didn’t have the thought you couldn’t do it?”

“I guess I’d keep going until I threw up, passed out, or made it to the top.”

Brooke pressed on – what if you didn’t have the thought you might throw up or pass out.
We ended up locked in an argument that ended with Brooke kinda giving up with me. At least that’s how it felt.

“Your thought is – I couldn’t make it up the pole and that thought makes you happy because it makes you feel right. So we are going to let you keep it.”

With that the coaching session was cut short. I’ve never seen her do this to anyone before and it really took my breath away as I tried to figure out what I made that mean. My first thoughts were really painful – Brooke doesn’t believe in me. I am not worth believing in. Brooke doesn’t understand me. Brooke is being difficult. I am sick of this work and I’m just going to quit – that’ll show her. The thoughts kept coming. (Reread now with the turnarounds in place – I don’t believe in myself. I am worth believing in. I don’t understand Brooke. I am being difficult. – these were some pretty spot on thoughts.)

Jennifer was her typical brilliant and generous self letting me go on and on about it but not letting me get too deep into my own story before bringing me back to the work.

“What’s the lesson here?” “How can you turn this around?” “What if you were at your physical limit? What does that mean to you?”

I processed her questions and my own until I remembered how the conversation started…. It was about separating circumstance from thought. I was saying I was good at that now and so

Brooke asked me what the circumstance was on the pole. “I was at my physical limit.”

“Nope,” said Brooke. “You could have made it to the top. Your thought stopped you.”

I couldn’t see that at all last night. But this morning I see it’s true. I could have made it to the top. My thought stopped me. This idea – the idea I could have made it to the top was hard for me to get to because in the coaching session it felt very painful because it caused the thought, I’m a failure. But that thought, ‘I could have made it to the top’ is actually very exciting good news. If I can get my head out of the way, I can make it to the top. I was not determined and here’s how I know, I never asked myself to dig deep. I never asked myself to find the strength to keep going. When Brooke gave me the option to go one more step and come down, I took it. I gave her the power to limit me because the fact was I wanted to be limited. I didn’t want to keep going.

There have been times in my life when I’ve been so focused on something that nothing could stop me, but climbing up that pole was not one of those times. Now, I was physically exhausted, I was hungry, I was in pain; there were lots of circumstances conspiring against me being focused, but that’s like life.

Knowing I could have made it to the top and didn’t make it there could mean I failed, but it doesn’t to me. To me it means I met the limits of my thoughts; and the great news is I am only a thought away from the top of that pole.

(Not) Late for A Very Important Date

Ten months ago Coach Lisa asked me to do the "Pass-Me" Bridge at the Squaw Valley Ropes Course with her. Yesterday I fulfilled that promise and made it across with a sweet kiss in the middle. Actual picture to come. Thanks Lisa for helping me make a dream come true for myself!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Smarter than your Average Fog Eat

I came on this retreat with one, clear goal – to find the neural pathways toward a life without mindless eating when I’m not hungry (what Brooke calls fog eating). Today, I had a chance to work on that goal in one of Brooke’s typical “Attack Coaching” sessions. The thing about Brooke is that she just puts her thumb right on your thoughts and then holds you down. Her confidence in herself and in you seems to glide you onto the next level. Working with her is hard, she doesn’t let you get away with anything, but it’s also like flying. She lifts you off the ground with her love, compassion, and joy of doing this work.

In her unique way, she was lifting me off the ground with her questions.

Brooke: What result do you want?

Me: To be free from fog eating.

Brooke: What action do you need to take in order not to fog eat?

(Oh, this is gonna be easy, I thought, I know how to play this game.)

Me: In order not to fog eat, I need to stay connected to myself before I eat. To do that I’d need to think thoughts like this:
• Nothing is too much for me.
• I can handle this immediate moment.
• I don’t need to stop the thinking.
• I can clear the slate without eating.

With thoughts like that I would feel resourceful, confident, competent, and clear. I would stay connected and not fog eat.


Oh oh oh – so much easier said than done. What’s standing in my way of changing my thoughts? The belief that fog eating is somehow helpful to me. When pressed, I realized that I have a secret idea that my fog eating is actually productive. Fog eating helps me calm down, press the reset button, rethink my current circumstance and start a-fresh.

Brooke made her move: “With Angela, the best way to coach her is with mockery.”

So she started this list to show just how productive fog eating made me:

1) Eat without awareness
2) Eat food that doesn’t fuel me
3) Burn time
4) Zap my energy
5) Feel super crappy
6) Beat myself up after

I hated looking at this list, but she’s right. The idea fog eating makes me more productive is total bullshit. I am just hanging on to this thought – this thought that not fog eating is too hard. And there is absolutely no intelligent reason for it.

Here is where Brooke worked her real magic.

“Tell me about MORE SUCCESSFUL ANGELA (MSA). What makes her VP material?"
Oh I rattled off my answers – so many of them where to start? I’m:
• Productive
• Smart
• Efficient
• Organized
• Resourceful
• Make good decisions
• Prioritize
• Put things in order
• Strategic
• The list goes on and on….

I should have known what was coming. What else? A turnaround! She opened it up to the group.

“What’s the opposite of Productive?”



The list of opposites went on and on with the girls getting more and more animated:

• Scattered
• Clueless
• Bad decisions
• Not ordered
• Mismanaged
• Dumb

Then Brooke asked me:

“Okay Ms. VP, what do you call a not very smart entry level person?”

My answer rolled off the tongue…. “a monkey”

“Great! A DUMB MONKEY I LOVE IT,” Brooke jumped up and down like an animal. “That’s who you are when you fog eat!!! A DUMB MONKEY.”

Is feeding your body food you don’t need or food that’s not right for your body Smart? Efficient? Resourceful? Of course not! In so many areas of my life I am brilliant – oh, but not when it comes to fog eating. When it comes to fueling my body, I’m a dumb monkey. My thoughts have been telling me I can’t stop fog eating and me, little miss argumentative, I just take the orders and stuff my face without questioning for a minute if this thought is serving me. I surrendered myself to my thoughts and believed my thoughts about fog eating were uncontrollable.

So, here are my new thoughts:
• I am so much smarter than fog eating.
• I am so glad I am not a monkey.
• I am never dumb now.
• I never fog eat now.

I am strongly adverse to the idea of being a “dumb monkey” I don’t think it’s at all cute or funny; it’s just a stark reminder of this lie I have been telling myself over and over – that I need to fog eat; that I WANT to fog eat; that I deserve to fog eat.

Fog eating keeps me overweight and being overweight keeps me from my true potential. No chance to fail because I’m holding myself back. Brooke of course tied this all into my career aspirations.

I can hear Marianne Williamson telling me I’m playing small with the universe and so the universe is playing small with me. She’s telling me to show up for my own life.

I want a seat at the big kid’s table so I can make good strategic decisions, but I don’t make good strategic decisions about fog eating in my own life and I AM the president of what one attendee referred to as You, Inc. I am the President and I’m not making good decisions at all.

Imagine there is a board meeting and Lazy, Stupid, Smart and Efficient all show up. Who would I listen to? When I fog eat, I’m taking advice from Lazy and Stupid. Of course I’m not getting to the next level in my career, I can’t even run my own body effectively. There is a chicken and the egg here but it’s kind of irrelevant. If I want to change my life – and for that matter if you want to change yours – you just have to change your thoughts. You can do it now, or later, it really doesn’t matter; but strategically speaking, I recommend the former so you can amortize your joy over a greater number of years.

Friday, June 27, 2008

How to Succeed in Coaching Without Really Trying

Brooke asked me to take a look at my current definition of Career Success to see if I can revise the thought to something genuinely true for me but that does not cause pain.

: Achieve progressively advancing responsibility and reward while minimizing risk.

Proposed: Earn a living in interesting positions in which I thrive and enjoy.

I told Brooke I felt successful but that I wanted to be MORE SUCCESSFUL – that there was more I could be doing which I felt ready for. So Brooke asked me about Miss More Successful. “How would your life be different if you were more like Miss More Successful?”

Miss More Successful has one key thing I don’t have – a seat at the “Big Kid’s Table” at work. She is a part of high-level corporate decisions and her duties are more strategic; therefore her impact at work more significant. If I had that seat I would be challenged in a way I am not now, I would be less restless and searching for my next thing. If I had that seat I would be able to participate in a more meaningful way and I think that means that the company would be more successful. My ideas would be heard by the right people and I’d get to hear those same people put their ideas forward which would give me a ton of new information about business and myself. I feel like I would be able to grow personally faster that I can in my current position. I’d have a little more money but I’d be building equity toward and even more lucrative future.


I don't know though - there is something about coaching that when you hit on a big one you know it. I am having angst about my career. I feel I should be further along than I am based on my experience, intelligence, education, and age. This is the thought that is causing me pain - not that I am not further along. I get this. If I didn't have that thought I'd be fine with where I am. Where I am is totally fine. It's wanting more that causing the pain. This new definition I wrote - it is true, it's just not more true that the fact I want more and that's the thinking that needs to be undone. We'll see if we get to work on this at all while I'm here, if not, I have a feeling this thread will be with me for quite some time.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tahoe 2.0: Off the Grid

There is nothing easy about being a blogger with no Internet access. I'm sitting on the steps of the Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge, getting eaten alive by mosquitos as I steal Public wifi. The house we are staying at has no phone or Internet access what-so-ever. I know, I know, I am supposed to be focusing on myself and my own personal growth opportunity; but it turns out I have come to see access to the Information Superhighway as a right not a privilege.

Other than the lack of connectivity, the house is gorgeous (see pics above) and the women participating are an interesting mix. A few folks are here from last year - I guess 5 of the 12 women in the room (including Brooke) were here last year. Of the new folks, 2 are coaches though Brooke has asked both of them to participate fully and is including them in all our activities as equals which makes for an interesting dynamic as neither appears to have weight issues. For me, the "skinny bitch" phenomenon is no more - all that work paid off. It's nice to see so clearly that we've all got issues and weight is not as special as I once thought. The other 5 women are fairly new to the work, but on this first day have clearly started this deep dives.

We had 2 coaching sessions today and one creative activity. The major thing that came up for me was about career. Basically I'm saying I'll be happy when I reach the next level of my career, but of course, the opposite is true - I'll reach the next level of my career when I'm happy. So I'm going to do some homework on that tonight and I'll post it to the blog tomorrow morning when I leave the house to catch some exercise and check in with the outside world.

The activity we did was basically to pick our "word" a word that represents us where we are right now and to paint it along with a picture of our "inner body" (ala Eckhart Tolle). I painted an electrified "OPENING" because that really is my word. Opening to the possibilities of everything - my life, my body, my family, my career, my relationships - I am an early spring blossom stretching its petals in the early morning sunlight, and I do find it a most delightful place to be. I remember when I was in Labor with Jesse wanting to scream "OOOOOH FUCK!!!" but instead I kept forcing myself to change the thought - and the scream to OOOOOOOOOOOOOpening. It was a much better thought than this kid is splitting my person in half.

The big breakthrough today though was not mine. It was Miami J's (MJ). MJ has been providing room and board for her adult daughter for roughly a decade too long. Today - in front of our very eyes - we watched her realize that no, this was not providing her daughter help. It was not a gift or an act of love and benefiting her or her daughter in any long term way. MJ's thought was: IF I DON'T HELP MY DAUGHTER FINANCIALLY, SHE COULD DIE. We worked this turn around with her for an hour, but at the end of it, it was pretty clear the opposite was true, and MJ took a sharpie out of her heart and crossed out the word DON'T. I gotta say there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

More updates from "Brooke House: Off the Grid" tomorrow morning.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Heading Back to Tahoe

This blog was started 9 months ago when I was headed to my first retreat in Lake Tahoe with my Life coach Brooke Castillo.

Just 9 months later I have lost a total of 60 lbs. and gained more physical and emotional strength than I could quantify. I head back to Lake Tahoe in a few days and I'm looking forward to the emotional deluge of spending time with Brooke and the other women to peel back the layers of my onion.

I'll be blogging my experiences all back here so stay tuned for some intense "Retreat" posts. I'm really looking forward to this year's adventure and I'm glad to have you along for the ride!