Category Archives: Transitions

How to Keep your Cool when Life puts you in the Hotseat ~ Newsletter Excerpt

{5 minute read}

Five Fairly Simple Transition Tips:

My top five things to balance and empower yourself in any life transition:

Tip 1: Be still, and assess the situation  Yes, I am borrowing this from bear encounter safety training 101, because it works so well and is applicable to pretty much any situation that involves change or surprise. Being still is not a “Mannequin Challenge”. Being still means focusing on the moment at hand while you take deep breaths and assess where you are, what you have, what lies behind you, what lies ahead.  

Tip 2: Prepare. If your transition is an anticipated move, preparing yourself is a no-brainer. However, sometimes, the transition you are facing comes suddenly. Taken by surprise, we often rush ahead and soon find ourselves checking off never ending to-do lists. Whether you were laid off or your partner announced the end of the relationship, whether you are having immigration issues, or you are taking advantage at the last minute of a promotion that requires you to move abroad – preparation is key in maintaining your balance and sanity. I listed more specific steps for careers, relationships, immigration issues and international transition, or relocating nationally and internationally in my mini-transition guide Seven Northern Lights.

Tip 3: Self-care. Again, a no-brainer, you might think, but it is surprising how many of us forget to take good care of our physical, mental, and emotional needs.  In the stress of a transition, treat yourself. You won’t have time to think much, so just choose what’s best for you, not what’s quickest, easiest, cheapest. The slice of pizza works for a day, but not every day.  

Get your clean water, your fruits and vegetables (sources of the cleanest cell water obtainable), and your clean protein to feed your body.  

Squeeze in a 30 minute walk at least three times a week, even if it is just a walk around the block. Try getting to the park at least once a week. Connecting with nature, walking in a forest, is as medicinal as taking aspiring, if not more. 

Laugh often – surround yourself with funny people, check funny instagram memes, watch funny shows or blooper videos, or take two wooden matchsticks, stick them vertically in your mouth against your bottom teeth, and try to maneuver the tips into your nostrils. (Definitely get back to me on how that went, with pictures or video please!)

Turn off the noise, find quiet, meditate, pray, read before sleep so you get sufficient amounts of restorative sleep.

Hug. Hugs are perfect, you never just give, you always get one back, right?   

Tip 4: Assume Innocence – Everyone can become a Friend One thing that truly made a difference for me when I changed locations – I learned to give people a chance. As and introvert, I had to learn to make the first move. What I learned over time was that we have a lot more in common than is obvious at first sight. I concluded a few years ago that all of humanity essentially want the same things: knowledge of our purpose, someone to love, something meaningful to do, and someone to love us back. When I approach or respond to strangers with that thought in my heart, first encounters are disarming. Try it, and let me know how you felt, and what happened. I really want to hear your thoughts and feelings about this, because it transformed how I connect with people, and I am curious about your transition experience. I am still an introvert and recharge in blissful solitude or in the presence of only few, but my efforts at making friends are much more successful, and a lot less anxious. 

Tip 5: Routine. I learned this after an unanticipated transition: starting a routine after you relocate, or after a break-up, a loss, or any crisis will help ground you, give stability, and a sense of control. To move out of confusion into more clarity, having a routine is helping us settle in. Start small, and build up. A routine can consist of:

a daily 30 minute walk, or

a small, informal tea ceremony at home. It can be that 

time set aside for journaling, or

exercise, stretching with a buddy or by yourself, or

your favorite, uplifting tv show.

Adding time for meditation, prayer, and contemplating things that you are thankful for daily will transform your transition days into gentle powerballs.

So much for Ki’s keys to a smoother transition. You can read more and be inspired by the amazing Alaskan Aurora Borealis here.

My biggest goal, and wish for you, for 2017 is this: Upgrade to Simple. Transitions are more fluid that way. I don’t need any more stuff. I am letting go of complicated. I release heavy. Saying bye-bye to difficult. Farewell to drama. Good riddance to what doesn’t serve us anymore. 

Welcome the Upgrade to Simple.

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So I decided I am a Solopreneur… A Small Business Story

{7 minute read}

I am an entrepreneur. A solo-preneur. Solo, the only employee in my coaching business. My small business.  So small I don’t need an office. Just a laptop, wifi, and a phone. And a lot of idealism, willingness to listen and to be coached and mentored, a lot of patience, inspiration, resilience, fearlessness, and trust. Trust that I am where I am supposed to be in my journey, and that all my work eventually will pay off.

My small business is just blossoming. I am a Transition Strategist and Certified Professional Life & Business Coach. I work with professionals who are experiencing the challenges of a major change in their lives. This can be a career transition or a transition in their personal lives. My clients are moving through lay-offs and break-ups; they are on quests for their purpose and driven to define their legacy.  Amidst all these different transitions, I treasure cross-cultural career moves, because they come with their very own set of challenges, especially for the trailing spouses.

Entrepreneurship has changed my life! I love every part of the process, but it is hard work. Thinking about it, I have always been an entrepreneur, a solo-preneur. At age 14, I hijacked my parents’ living room and the grand piano to give piano lessons to an 8-year-old girl from our village. I continued taking students for the next five years and eventually had two whole afternoons blocked off in the living room. Thank you Mom & Dad! Thank you, brothers Andreas and Johannes – your willingness to share and understand was supporting me in ways I can only now fully appreciate.

When my students advanced beyond my level and I happily referred them to my prodigy brother, I started a new entrepreneurial identity and became a language tutor for ESL and French, and private ESL teacher to adult learners. I went on to offer translation and interpretation services in my home country Germany, and was more or less accidentally discovered as a voice talent. I took on voice over jobs for commercials and dubbed tv documentaries for a local tv station. My radio show “Cult and Culture” was a volunteer project that earned me a Sunday morning show on a local radio station, again as a freelancer. Throughout all these ventures I kept my day job or went to school. Later, after moving to Alaska, I worked as a freelance photographer and made minute amounts of money selling prints.  It was a perfect world, as I usually enjoyed my paid work tremendously and my small freelance projects just enhanced the fun.

However, after my most recent full time position, teaching at the university, was -by supervisor’s order- reduced to just retaining students and not letting anyone fail, whether they reached the class goal or not, I realized if I don’t want to compromise my values and ideals any longer, I will have to find a way to serve others with my full skillset independent of an employer. I did a lot of soul searching and applied to many different positions that I thought might fit, underwent a few assessments and finally came to the conclusion that the most honest and straightforward way to honor my gift and give my all to my global community would be as a life and business coach.

So I sold my house and moved my belongings into a storage unit or my son’s home, and took what would fit into my car and two suitcases, and signed up for coaching certification training with iPEC in Toronto. I went back and forth between Alaska and Canada for tour guiding work, but focused on coaching, practiced, learned about the business, practiced, studied, and practiced some more. I coached remotely, via Skype, with willing clients in Germany, Austria, Italy, Brazil, and several U.S. states, and of course Ontario, my training turf. The more I saw results, the bigger my passion to give 110% – give my all and that extra mile, if necessary.

I had to learn everything about being an entrepreneur, and I am not done learning. I have to work part time to make ends meet but this does not deter me from my goal. My biggest obstacle was a spoof ban from Canada that so far no one has been able to fully make sense of. Ten days after my certification I was stranded in upstate New York after trying to re-enter Canada to wrap things up before flying back to my home state of Alaska. I wasn’t allowed to even go back to grab a couple of clothes, let alone taking the time to talk to our attorney and making a decision on how to proceed properly.

Since I was prevented from driving home through Canada, I stayed in the Buffalo/Niagara area until my personal belongings had been brought to me from the place I had stayed near Toronto. It took several months, and during this time I worked part time in Niagara Falls. My remaining waking hours were invested in building The Ki Line, my coaching business. In the past six months, I learned about marketing and client creation in two entrepreneur bootcamps, built my presence on several referral platforms, expanded my website, pro-bono coached six clients, created three new clients, wrote 47 proposals and nine articles, posted 17 youtube videos surrounding my own forced transition and thus created a space where my clients can identify and find their own journey reflected, even if only in parts.

Over the next years of growing my client family, I will develop a transition facilitation model that will help anyone in transition to simplify their lives and thus facilitate any transition. It will impact mobile entrepreneurs as well as professionals who are making a permanent move to a country considerably different from their home.

My biggest “helpers” and tools have been several entities and platforms. Most prominently,  the entrepreneurial culture of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, with its Innovation Center and d!g, the co-working space that stands for “Design-Innovation-Garage”, and all the genius people who create magic there; the supportive team of coaches from my training group, but also Noomii and Thumbtack,  free advertising on virtual platforms such as Craigslist and Kijiji, and most recently LinkedIn ProFinder. Out of all the referral programs, LinkedIn ProFinder stands out. It helps a lot in this continuous process of business building as the ProFinder leads are so much more detailed than leads and requests on other platforms, and the options for pros to respond are also more liberal and expansive. If LinkedIn continues to improve and weed out bots and less sincere, ill-intentioned requesters, ProFinder could be an excellent tool for me to connect with my ideal clients. I am inspired to learn more and work more with LinkedIn as I continue to explore other advertising strategies. In my situation, as a Transition Strategist working through transition as a solopreneur, having one referral program to focus on would be a blessing.

So yes. I am an entrepreneur. It’s not a job, it’s a way of life. There are cloud 9 days, then again days when I question whether this can possibly work.  A day in the life might start hopeful at sunrise, but by 11AM and a look at the bills vs what’s in the bank the joy curve plummets below zero. Lunch might bring a new networking connection, by 3PM a new lead signs and I am near the entrepreneurial heavens again, but by 7PM my website kills the “About” page for no obvious reason and the article I worked on for 3 hours disappears, unretrievably.

In honor of balance, I continue and ride this solo-preneurial fever curve. I am singing with Alanis Morissette in my head…I’m broke, but I’m happy. I’m poor, but I’m a fired-up coach who makes a difference. I am kind, and determined, both as a coach and an entrepreneur. I’m scared beyond description sometimes, but my heart is fearless. I have to keep moving, as I push my clients to keep moving.

So far – it’s been propelling me forward.

Where are you going?

Not sure?

Would you like some help figuring it out?

Call me!


*My “BoomingModel” experience deserves its own article. Check back soon!

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Innovation or In-Ovation? The 43North Experience

{2 minute read}

Pardon the pun. Innovation is huge here in Buffalo, so there is no question.  The 43 North Experience will have us all in awe, and in ovation in face of so much applied genius.

When I followed a really good lead to the Design Innovation Garage, also known as D!G, I learned that entrepreneurs and small businesses can use this former warehouse space to work and build their business. Before you climb the “Steps to Success” in the D!G space, you traverse the hall of 43N, 43 North, an incubator that is inspiring by its mere existence.

A Governor’s Vision

The way it was explained to me, 43 North is a vision turned competition. Not unlike the Ki~Line tagline, Gov. Andrew Cuomo envisioned, empowered, and succeeded. He envisioned a rebirth of Buffalo, set the intention to “make a bold, fearless, beautiful, entrepreneurial city on the rise” together, empowered the vision, intention, and the city with the “Buffalo Billion” initiative and the energetic collaboration with the New York Power Authority, and succeeded in a win/win for everyone involved.

No Free Lunch, but 2 Million Bucks

Start-ups who participate in the 43North competition can win a significant amount of money, a decade of tax relief, expert mentorship, and incubator space on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus’ Innovation Center. There is a catch: winners must bring their business to Buffalo. Clearly, there’s no free lunch. Looking at winners from past competitions, it appears like keeping the business in Buffalo is the right thing to do – a win-win for the entrepreneur and the city.

This past week, 43North and Buffalo celebrated finals.

This Happened.

Out of 542 ingenius submissions, 142 made it to the semifinals on Wednesday. 16 finalists went into the qualifying round on Wednesday, 10 finalists came out of the finals award round this afternoon, and eight teams won $500,000 each. Winner of $1 million was Oncolinx, a start up that is developing cancer treatment that will make chemotherapy redundant. No more “treatment” that kills the good cells along with the cancerous ones. Instead, the are developing a drug that will activate the bodies own immune system to attack and remove only the cancerous cells. All teams had amazing ideas and concepts and products.

Buffalo continues to transition into a role model community for the rest of the nation. Buffalo is transforming itself, its people, and is impacting innovation and health across the country and the whole world. Bravo Buffalo, bravo 43N, yay Western New York!

Your Turn!

If reading this inspired you, and you want to pursue your own journey into a career transition, or entrepreneurship, call me! I can help you with that! Phone number is on the Contact page.

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The ॐ “Aum” in Trauma: Where is the Gift in …? 

How often do you go through some “stuff” and wonder why? You hurt emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, any-ly ~ and before you can even allow yourself to accept that this happened to you, the question keeps popping up over and over again: why this? why me?

It’s a good question. GREAT question actually.

Most people make one big mistake with that question.

They stop.
They stop at the question and close the door, locking themselves in a room with their defeat and the inevitability of arbitrary bad luck.

What if I could guarantee you the answer? Or rather, not I, but what if life will answer, guaranteed, if you just give it…… time?

Sometimes it takes only hours, sometimes years, often somewhere inbetween – but each transition, whether forced or voluntary, bears a gift.

How about not stopping with the question. I want to invite you to stay open to finding it. Your choice.

I have shared the story of my own recent, and forced, transition in videos over the past six months. I realized something along the way, already a while back, but I was in denial about it.

Today, I have the courage to share. It’s lengthy, but it’s honest. I share, because it proves that the gift is there. The ॐ = the “aum” in trauma.  I expect to see more blessings as I continue to move forward and grow.

I’d love to hear from you, especially if you are or have been in similar phases of change. Forced, voluntary, expected, unexpected. I’d love to learn about your gift. And if you are still stuck at “why” – let me know if you’d like help with that.


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Essence and Blessings ~ Flat Tire? Keep Rolling Pt. III

So when your tire in the wheel of life all of a sudden went flat, you assessed your situation and took some time to regroup. Then you fed your body, mind, and soul. As you continue to navigate this new, unchartered territory of transition life, you might wake up one day and find yourself in the middle of a construction site.

Life is changing before your eyes and you are standing by,  watching the deconstruction unfold as if in a slo-mo replay of that goal that almost happened, because all you can think of is what you don’t have anymore.  It doesn’t matter whether you are excited about moving forward, moving abroad, or moving down the street – any major change in location, work place, or relationships comes with letting go, losing something, giving something up, and the corresponding amounts of trauma and sadness. The end of something always means loss, and the stages of grief will ensue sooner or later, and in no predetermined sequence.

In my own forced transition, when I was not allowed to return to Canada to wrap things up properly,  all that was lost seemed to dominate my vision.  I was trying to remember everything that was left in the apartment that I no longer would have access to.  My memory created lists of clothes in the closet, sundries in the bathroom, sheets and towels in the ottoman beside the couch, kitchen appliances and house wares in cabinets, drawers, and closets. How would I get any of it back, if at all?

One really great thing that helped me keep a hopeful mindset was taking a moment and making a list of all that I still had.  Time to count my Blessings!

I started listing all the material things I still had access to:

•my vehicle ~ yay! as long as there was money for gas, I could drive anywhere the roads would take me

•my laptop

•an old phone that still worked

•my passport

•my swiss army knife ~ don’t get me started… I’ve gutted fish, sawed off tree branches, repurposed old tires into planters, unscrewed vacuum cleaners and re-screwed glasses with this thing just to name a few saving grace moments

•my naturalization certificate, birth certificate, passport… I keep everything in one folder and figured it might be useful at the border crossing

As my list of material things completed , I realized there were other, immaterial treasures:

Friends and family who were supporting me with their humanity: my parents’ prayers, my son and his family, who immediately invited me to spend time with them in Alaska; my friend Nelta, who generously let me stay in her condo with free wifi access so that I was able to get some work done and look for part time jobs and apartments in Western New York; David, my new friend in Niagara Falls, who gave me the best bed and breakfast deal with Elphie and Buster, his two feline house mates; Katherine of the Booming Group, whose gentle and intuitive expertise kept me on my entrepreneurial path, and others who were just there, listening, helping with their compassion, non-judgment, understanding, advice.

Finally, I realized my biggest asset was nothing material, nothing outside of me. It was the same that is your biggest asset, everyone’s biggest assets:
it is our essence, the truth of who we are.

It is our essence that keeps us going.

It was my essence that chose to listen to those who were supportive, not to those who saw harm and doom in everything and everyone.  It was my essence that got me to wipe the tears, nurse my scrapes and scratches, and push me back on my feet.  My essence propelled me to find interim part-time work, regardless how low the pay, as long as it is somehow aligned with my purpose and business goals, and as long as it sustains me. When we lose what feels like everything – maybe not every thing, but all that is familiar, known to us as the home zone, the comfort routine – it is the essence of who we are that remains, the life force that stays whether we tap into it or not.

Our essence can create a sense of home in a strange world.  Our essence does not need us, it is just there.  This is what we are, as well as what we have – we can tap into it at will, but it is an act of will.

Go there.

Regardless whether you feel sad, relieved, devastated, or at times desperate – just take a second to remember that your essence is something that no tragedy -and not the luckiest streak in life either- can take from you.

Share with me your thoughts on this – how do you define essence? What are your forever blessings that no one can take? How have you moved through transitions and stayed sane and complete? I welcome the conversation!


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A Walk, An Apple, A Friend, A Sunset ~ Keep Rolling Part II

Feed the body, not the beast.

Self-care is our second step in transitioning powerfully from one life season into the next.

As we move from one home to another, sometimes across states, countries, sometimes even continents, we leave behind a world that in most cases we know well enough to walk it in the dark of night. However, as we leave our familiar neighborhood, we leave the fragrance of the air and the flavor of the water we are used to. As we explore and discover our new place, we have to learn new landmarks and points of orientation.

Where we used to be able to drive our kids to school on automatic pilot, we now are struggling with GPS and maps apps, the side of the road we are supposed to be on, and new traffic signs and parking regulations. Where we knew the fastest way to our favorite spot for organic fruits and vegetables, we now are grateful to find any store that sells fresh produce.

It takes time to figure things out, and that’s okay. In the meantime, feed your  body and soul, because this process is exhausting, it is a huge work-out for body and soul, mind and spirit.

Pizza and pasta are fantastic comfort food choices, all along with bread and a certain umlaut-ladden ice cream – and I realized a few years ago that any of those foods will exhaust my digestive system and put me right to sleep, standing up if needs be. Instead of feeding my body, I was feeding beasts and gremlins: irritability, depression, discomfort, sluggishness.

So today, I make sure to have a bag of apples, other affordable seasonal fruits and veggies, to munch on, before I cave and eat sedative Italian foods. I feel more energized and get a lot more done on fruits, vegetables, and light proteins during the day, and leave the carbs, however complex, for the less productivity-oriented hours of my day, if at all.  I learned this by trial and error, testing food combinations over the years, and found out what works for me.

Everyone’s body is different, and you will know what gives you energy, what makes you feel good. I personally believe in eating and drinking clean, as much as that is possible, and it has given me decent health over the years. Try different food groups and observe how you feel – take your time, listen to your cravings, and opt for fresh foods that contain only minimal amounts of sugar.

Drinking clean water and moving around in fresh air also worked wonders for my body, mind, and spirit. I try to get in at least a half hour walk each day – I am not okay if I don’t walk or hike three days in a row. Stretching, walking, climbing, riding your bike or rowing your boat – any plein air exercise will energize you, and like my friend Nelta says, “everything is better after a walk”.

Sleep might not come easy these days. Our minds are working overtime and will start churning the minute we close our eyes. You might know that this is normal, and part of the process. Give yourself permission to be sleepless. Know that your body will get to a point where it will insist, and you will have deep, restorative sleep again. Nap often, even during a washroom break at work. Hold your keys in your hand… they will drop when you nod off, and you will be surprised at how refreshed you feel just from those few minutes of total relaxation.

When I moved from an excellent health care system in Germany to Alaska, I felt lost, and very un-cared for initially. What I learned over time, however, was that the way health care was practiced in Alaska forced me to take charge and become responsible for my own well-being, instead of waiting until something hurts and then seeing the doctor to fix it.  I started to focus a lot more on learning about nutrient dense foods. I felt that getting my vitamins and minerals from food instead of pills made a lot more sense.  I also discovered community health fairs as a source of education and support.  See if Health Fairs are offered in your new area, so you can get to know practitioners and health care providers. Don’t be shy – ask questions, ask for recommendations; use online resources to educate yourself, but always keep in mind that even health pros will have different opinions. In the end, listen to your heart, your intuition, your body – it will guide you to the right person and the right options for you.

Self-care is not limited to the body of course. Our spirit, our mind, our heart, our soul want to be nourished smartly, and generously.

My mind thrives on conversation – serious, silly, complex, light – connection with others fulfills me both in heart and mind. At the same time, I recharge in silence, best in places that have trees, rocks, and water. The territorial war songs of birds tell me stories of ancient times, and tickle my creativity.

Good conversation and trusted friends are my mind energizers.  Silence and solitude are my heart power lines.

Take a moment and reflect about yours. Where do you feel you can exhale? What is a place that makes you smile? Who is a good person to run a crazy idea by? Who is that person you can call to vent? Who among your friends always has a silly story to tell? In whose presence do you automatically relax?

People and places infuse us with energy, or take it away. Gentle tunes, good reads, deep drum beats and the sound of waves, blue skies and cloud formations, sunrise and spring blossoms can empower and delight us. This week, explore your sources of strength and joy – people, places, sights, and sounds.

Let me know what you find!

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Flat Tire In The Wheel of Life? Here Is How To Keep Rolling – Part I

You Can Count on Change

If there is one thing we know for certain, it is that life is in a constant state of flux. Change is part of the game, and the more balanced we stay throughout the process, the more powerful our transformation will be.

Embrace the process, trust the journey!

When life disrupts our routine, we instinctively react: we protest, we defy, we deny, we mobilize what might be called an obscene amount of energy fighting the unbeatable. Whether we are three, thirteen, thirty, or fifty-something, we usually balk before we walk.

Let me share my  7 Northern Lights with you. These steps have worked well for me and helped me to stay energized and balanced during times of transition and change, whether in relationships or cross-country moves. May they strengthen you in your journey and help you enjoy the process joyfully.  Be blessed.

1 Be still & Assess the Situation What works for Bear Safety works in any Crisis

One event I made sure not to miss during my first years in Alaska was any bear safety education the state was offering in many of the nature centers. One of the pillars in bear safety is keeping a cool head. Bears are powerful mammals, who under normal circumstances will not seek confrontation with us humans. We mostly encounter black and brown bears in Alaska, and our reaction to a chance encounter will have to differ depending on the species and on the circumstances.

The first rule we were asked to never ever forget was to stand still and assess the situation. Try to determine whether the bear is a black bear or a grizzly, as we call the smaller brown bears in the interior and South East Alaska.  Clearly, we are aware of the bear, but has the bear seen us? If so, is the animal showing interest, or does it look like it continues with what it was doing when we showed up? Is the animal alone, or is it a sow with cubs? Is the bear feeding, protecting a food source?  In general, a rule of thumb is when a black bear approaches, or charges, fight back. Stand tall, put your arms up in the air, stand together with your fellow hikers, make lots of noise, and if the bear still approaches, or even charges, hit back, threaten with tall sticks, tree branches, pepper spray as a last resort, or a gun shot if you carry a firearm on your hikes, again, as a last resort.

When a brown bear is aware of you and approaches you, don’t run – under any circumstances. If he charges, he might be bluffing. Don’t worry about urinary accidents, just don’t run, don’t scream, stay calm, look down. If he actually makes contact, drop to the ground and play dead. Cover your head with your arms or backpack if you have one. Don’t fight. The animal will be anywhere between 400 and 1200 lbs, depending on where you are, and it’s a you lose – it wins situation. The bear might be aware of you, however, and continue feeding, or simply show interest in standing tall, ears perked up, sniffing – their sense of smell is extraordinary – and then drop back to the ground and move on. You then best retreat with a casual, occasional glance into the bears general direction, to ascertain that you are not being followed.

As you can see – different scenarios require different behaviors.

This is also very true for any situation in life that forces you into transition. This can be as simple as having to make a decision to accept or decline a job offer that involves moving to a new town or country. It can also be as complicated as having been denied entry to your country of residence, your birth country, or the country in which you seek refuge. There are multiple situations in between that require transitioning from old to new, and in all cases it is healthy to take time out and a good look around, on the outside as well as the inside. Be still, and assess your situation. What do you have? What you do want? What do you need? What does the old give you? What will the new provide? What happens if you do nothing? What happens if you move? What options do you have? How would you like things to look different after you make a change? What is the best outcome you can imagine?

To explore these and other questions powerfully and efficiently, it can be very helpful to work with a coach. A coach can provide you with tools that facilitate the decision making process. Unlike any advantages-vs.-disadvantages lists, however, the coaching relationship will assist you with more than making a decision. Regardless what you decide, the result will be only the first step in your journey. Our goal as coaches is always to give you more than just one solution. Whether you decide to move forward, or continue to explore other options to improve your professional and personal life, even if you decide to stay where you are, the coaching relationship can help you get transition  benefits in other ways.

Contact me to schedule a short free call to see if we are a good fit.  This is for everyone, whether you are facing transition or finding yourself in the midst of it, and want to walk through it with serenity as you reclaim your power.

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Banned from Canada ~ Forced into Transition

It is hard to believe I have been on the road for three weeks already!

It is even harder to believe I can add “Banned from Canada” to my resume.

To some, I might lead an adventurous life, but usually, I create the adventures, I plan them carefully, and the ones that come as surprises are taken in stride. This one is more of the traumatic kind, and a perfect experience for a cross-cultural transition coach.

On March 17th, my Canadian boyfriend/common law husband/lovingly renamed “B’zhoolee” and I went to Alexandria Bay, NY, on a short trip to celebrate: his birthday, my certification as a life and business coach, his recent birthday, and, belatedly, one of our many little anniversaries.


We initially had wanted to go back to Niagara Falls, where we had celebrated meeting for the first time after over two years of just talking via phone and facetime. Then, we considered driving to Montreal to combine pleasure with immigration matters, as we retained a law firm from there for our common-law-sponsorship  application, and we wanted to meet our attorneys in person. Finally, as my partner’s work schedule kept changing, we packed an overnight bag and decided on the spur of the moment to drive towards Montreal,  see how far we would get in a day, but spend the night in the 1000 Island region of New York – absolutely gorgeous drive around the banks of the St. Lawrence River, and probably the prettiest area in upstate New York.


As usual, we left home late, took our time enjoying the drive, stopped for pictures, checked into a hotel from which we could see the German Boldt Castle, found the only place open for food, and then the B’zhoolee (the bestest travel partner I could ever wish for) remembered the hotel he wanted to take me to, the Harbor View Hotel in Clayton, so we checked out, drove a bit, and checked into the most gorgeous, new hotel in the area with expansive views of the river. We rested well and looked forward to having breakfast in the quaint college town of Kingston, and a sunny drive around some of the 1800 islands in daylight, as it was a beautiful day.

However, we never made it to breakfast.


At the Thousand Islands bridge border in Landsdowne, Kingston, the first officer told us we had to officially import my car and pay customs on it. She declined to answer why everyone else with U.S. plates was just driving through.  We answered her questions honestly, told her we were a couple who recently had filed for common-law-sponsorship, and that I, the U.S. citizen, would return to my home state of Alaska shortly to wrap up loose ends there, and we told her everything she wanted to know. She was not impressed  with our answers and sent us inside, “you need to talk to immigration”.

The officer who greeted us inside was just as curt. He asked what I do for a living. I told him I had just finished training as a life and business coach.

“What is that, life coach?”

I gave him my elevator pitch, and he responded: “So what do you mean, life? Is life on business? Is LIFE on your business?” He penciled the letters L I F E on a piece of paper and to this day I have no idea what he was asking, and I have to just accept it as one of the mind-fogging tactics they use to confuse and intimidate you.

We told him the truth – not only because our attorneys had strongly advised us to, but also because the truth is the only thing we know – lies are so hard to remember.  He interrupted me, told my partner, who is a Canadian citizen, to sit down and be quiet, then took fragments of what I had answered, put my facts in random order so they did not make sense and I had to explain them all over again, and then he asked to see my wallet.

He found U.S. bank cards for two Alaskan credit unions and one bank. He found my Alaskan driver’s license and voting registration card. He found a few business cards of Alaskan businesses, and my Anchorage library card. The only Canada related card he found was a TD card, something many U.S. citizens carry who travel to Canada a lot. However, he must have had his mind made up beforehand, because the little green TD card outweighed all the evidence of my life and ties to Alaska. Crime number one: having a Canadian bank account.

On the report he wrote, my first three indiscretions are as follows:

-not a Canadian citizen => well… I didn’t claim to be. I am a quite happy American.

-not a permanent resident of Canada => again… I didn’t claim to be. I am in a relationship with a Canadian citizen and yes, we now intend to put our lives together, but that was not the intention when I initially came to Canada for visiting with German tourists, or visiting my boyfriend, or training with iPEC.

-not a registered Indian under teh (sic) Indian Act =>good lawd people. I never claimed to be that either.

The report further claims that I had established a Canadian cell phone and home phone. I am on my partner’s phone as a sideline, and because he is in charge of the cell phone bill, I am taking care of our joint internet. We do not have a home phone, because our living situation is too fragile. We only retained the law firm of Campbell Cohen in early February to file an application for common-law relationship based sponsorship.

I am also accused of having established a coaching business in Canada. I never claimed this, and nothing could be further from the truth.

The border worker claims my website and “Canadian” business card are proof.

The business card he is referring to is a card I created with images of Alaska and the Toronto skyline. The card is an all American product, designed by me, and made by Moo, a U.S. company based in Rhode Island. It contains an image of me on a good hair day, a link to this website (which up until a short while ago was just a WordPress blog), a U.S. phone number, and, in handwriting, my Canadian cell number (on my boyfriend’s line). The cards had a misprinted phone number on them, so in essence they were useless for distribution,  and I had not reordered any. I usually have a couple in my handbag as contact cards. I am not working in Canada, but I am a social person and am networking to make friends and of course, ultimately, create a social network in the area where I now intend to live part-time. I have always said that money permitting, I would love to continue guiding tours in Alaska, and part of my business will be special coaching tours through my most favorite and home state in the union, possibly with dips into the Yukon Territory, if Canada can amend this exclusion mess.

During my iPEC coaching training, from which I graduated March 3, 2016, I had peer clients whom I coached as part of the training, without compensation. Only one of six testimonials on my website is from a Canadian citizen, and it is from a peer client. All others are pro bono clients in Austria, Brazil, Washington State, Arizona; I offered pro bono sessions during training because it was imperative for me to practice, and because it was highly encouraged. Pro bono sessions count toward accreditation with the International Coaching Federation, and they are a wonderful way to get a true sense of giving without being attached to the outcome, one of our coaching principles.

Why punish me with this made-up accusation? What is eating this man’s soul?

We were held at the border for over six hours. My Canadian partner was talked down to in a dismissive manner reminiscent of what we have learned was the tone slave owners used. This doesn’t look friendly considering these officers, two male, one female, were all white,  and my boyfriend identifies as brown.

The head officer, a woman with a middle-eastern sounding name in Persian spelling, was treating us both more civilly, but she had not been informed correctly by her subordinate officer and even when I pointed out that he had omitted crucial facts about my training in the report, she did not reconsider collecting the facts.

My heart tells me that this might be based on fear.

From the atmosphere in the border office, and from what I observed with respect to how people interacted with one another there, I have a feeling that even if her heart and conscience might have told her differently, there was no way she could have overruled the subordinate’s report.  His interview tactics were that of a bully.  I would understand that she feared she did not have any other choice but to go along with what he suggested. What is smarter: speaking up for the truth, and for the U.S. citizen (remember NAFTA?),  who honestly told her story,  who -having nothing to hide- opened up her wallet and unlocked her phone as requested, which was consequently confiscated for six hours; or backing up the report written by a guy who consciously and purposely omitted essential facts that spoke in favor of the U.S. citizen seeking entry, and who might turn up the bully tone in the office if she second-guessed his decision?

It takes a lot of courage to withstand and oppose this kind of volatile strong-arming anywhere in the world, but it is not a battle everyone would pick.

This is the end of how the ban began.  IMG_3885

I will document the journey through this forced transition as often as I can.

Let me know your thoughts, your ideas, your experiences relating to transitions, whether forced or voluntary.

I look forward to the conversation!

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transition ~ a prequel. or: how i finally became a certified professional coach.

heavy is the air in the g. ross park parking lot this evening. the park is still teeming with people, mostly families gathered for picnics and barbecues.

i am gentle with my lungs and my feet, walking in a restrained pace towards the steele corridor, along the pond where the bullfrogs mate and make noises fit for big brown ducks. i met an astrophysicist here a few weeks ago, who shared my amazement that such little amphibians could make such loud noise. he told me that he was planning to tackle denali next summer, if his ascent of the nanga parbat this october was successful.

it is still very warm and humid outside, hard to breathe, but it is beautiful and i find comfort in the stillness that is painted metallic by the sound of cicadas everywhere.

hard to believe that in the middle of the greater toronto area is such an oasis of greenery, meandering waters, herons and ducks, hikers, bikers, soccer and cricket players, sunbathers, even a lone fisherman or two, and now, me.

i arrived in one of the warmest aprils ontario has seen, according to the people in my building, who have lived here forever and worry about me because i look like i am way too hot,  until they learn i am actually from alaska where we don’t get 30+ centigrades in any month.

what brought me here? what made me leave alaska?

these questions come so often that i now have a 15 second elevator pitch:
alaska was simply getting too cold, dark and monocultural for me. yes, we do have 90+ languages in the anchorage school district, and the most amazing scenery anyone could wish to have in their back and front yards, but i wanted more societal culture around me, more diversity, a different social attitude, more people who are actually willing and able to truly connect, and a new career. those who asked usually are satisfied with this answer.

alaska was enriching to me for many years. i learned so much here, grew so much closer to who i truly am, met some wonderful people, many of whom moved on, and was blessed with lesson after lesson, many profound, some painful. there was gain, there was loss, and a whole lot of gratitude from sunup to sundown.

but after a while, i became restless. teaching german at the university in anchorage was only satisfying in the realm of student interaction and mentoring. politics, and the order to let students pass so enrollments wouldn’t drop, took the joy out of teaching, and when “divide and rule” replaces “leadership”, there is no point in staying.

my summers were spent as an adventure driver guide, and then came an offer i couldn’t refuse – taking a busload of germans across alaska and western canada at the end of the season. it was worth ditching the uni gig, and to this day, i have not regretted, nor looked back.

although there was another job offer from an anchorage travel agency, i wasn’t sure this was the way i wanted to go – did i want to work in the travel industry for the next 10-15 years? but it would allow me to pay my bills until i found something more fitting.

however, life had another lesson and a turbo charge into change for me, and when the offer fell through, i was forced to take a closer look at what i really wanted to do, and find out right now. unemployment benefits would not allow me to pay my bills. the house needed to be sold, and i needed a solid and safe job, or go all out and do something entirely new, but something i really wanted to do.

It felt as if life was saying to me “look – you wanted to prove to yourself that you can make it on your own for a winter here, but it’s been three winters now. you are pretty isolated where you are, and your close friends are out of state anyway, and you have been saying you’ll sell the house and move to a city, so now go and walk the talk.”

and then i realized – i was no longer willing or able to compromise. i can compromise in relationships, in recipes, and in my garden, but not when it comes to purpose.
what would be the most profitable, honest, and fulfilling way for me to spend my next decade and a half as a working professional?

what helped me most in finding an answer to this query were countless reviews of job openings instate and outside, and the feedback I received after interviews. i learned to pay attention to what really felt good. visualizing myself at any of the advertised jobs… what made my heart jump? what made me smile? what made me get up in excitement, ready to plan, ready to go?
two assessments done by real estate professionals who were trying to place me properly in their organization were particularly revealing.  spot on in assessing strengths and weaknesses, they assessed the best work environment for me, where my work would yield optimal production output, and value for the company. they did not hire me without a real estate license, but were immensely encouraging.

i took a lot of quiet time during the six months i was unemployed. i recalled teenage dreams of becoming a therapist-musician, only to remember how i replaced them with the real life experiences of being a mom and full-time student, a radio show host, an international event planner, a writer, photographer, foreign language instructor, an adventure driver guide, and a shareholder relations administrator for an alaskan native corporation. my humanities degree didn’t qualify me for any of these, and i trained on the job for each of them, and each were at one time highly fulfilling. memories of being excited about every minute of every day “working” remain about the radio gigs and traveling. teaching was fun, but what fulfilled me most was mentoring students, and empowering them in reaching their goals, not so much teaching german as a language.

i also recalled consulting with a career coach many years ago. i don’t recall much of what she told me, except that she saw me as a public speaker, and that i felt she wasn’t advising me enough. today, i understand that coaching is not about advising or mentoring, but back then i expected someone to provide me with effective prescriptions, easy recipes, and irrevocable guarantees for success.

in the early 2000s, there was a daytime reality show titled “starting over”. it was a voyeuristic approach to something i thought was ingenious – helping people attain goals, stay on target, and keep them accountable. the fact that it was on tv was the only downside for me. the starting over house was supposed to be a sacred space, and the journey of each of these women worthy of privacy and protection. what i learned about lifecoaching, however, stuck with me.

it was around november, after talking to a friend who mentioned she was in a coaching program, that i decided to look into this as a potential career for myself.

i found a company that is accredited and will certify graduates after a seven month training period. training takes place in several cities across the u.s., canada, and even in europe. i chose toronto, because it was the opposite of alaska in many ways, and i crave different from time to time for a bit of time. it was time. And then there is that one person who has been a friend for a couple of years and he says “i think you’d like it here”. he knows me well.

so now, i drive through major traffic to a crowded harbor-front just to see throngs of people and intricate architecture, walk through a little bit of italy to get through china to portugal, with persia and india always around the corner.

i love hearing different languages, and english spoken with accents, and i make it a guessing game where everyone is from. i love to smell fragrant foods from unpronounceable eateries, and stand in line with people who wear clothes that i wouldn’t even know where to buy.

i don’t know where all this will lead, and if i can stay here, or how, but i am not worried – i am learning to listen to life, and to take time and envision paths it offers. they all take me further, there are no mistakes.

i just know that coming here, and getting certified as a life and business coach, is the right thing to do now. i will take you along on my journey, and you are welcome here any time.

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