Maren

My take on life coaching

I’ll be honest: I never thought I would call myself a life coach. Over the years, that term has conjured all kinds of images for me. (And I know I’m not alone, given my conversations with friends.) The concept of life coaching struck me, at some sort of visceral level, to be any or all of the following: Frivolous. Patronizing. Bossy. An overpriced, Portlandia-style “faux profession,” aimed at navel-gazing yuppies.

Yikes.

So how did I end up here, writing this blog, and calling myself a life coach?

Well, I’ve always enjoyed working on-on-one with people in a supportive role. For the past five years, I have been seeing clients in my Happy to Listen empathetic listening practice, which has been incredibly rewarding. I love watching people blossom and grow as I help to hold space for them, offering support and witnessing as they live their lives consciously and intentionally.

Meanwhile, I’ve always been excited by innovative ideas, big visions, creative problem solving, and the idea of making the world a better place in a variety of ways. This Dream Into Change practice allows me to combine those two passions … and “Life coaching for a better world” is the pithiest, most accurate way I have found to sum up what I do. I believe this practice will use my talents and skills more effectively than anything else I can imagine myself doing, to make my personal greatest possible impact on the world. And I’m really excited about that.

I want to be up-front and transparent with regard to credentials, about which people are naturally curious. I have a B.A. in psychology from Lewis & Clark College, but it did not come easily to me. Although I have always been a high achiever on aptitude tests, I have never thrived in academic environments, and it took me five years to earn my undergraduate degree. I found it so exhausting at the time, in fact, that I gave up my dream of earning an advanced degree and going into private practice. The prospect of attending a life-coaching program and earning a credential in that way (as well as piling up debt, which I would then have to pass along in my pricing) similarly does not appeal to me. What does appeal to me – and what has always worked best for me – is self-directed, hands-on learning, including reading as much as I can about the topics I’m passionate about; networking with as many people as I can who might be able to collaborate in some way on whatever projects my clients are working on; and interviewing people directly when I see that they are taking on inspiring projects. I learn from them, and I publish their interviews here so that my readers and clients can learn, too.

So, fair warning: I don’t have fresh-from-the-books tips and tricks to offer clients in our sessions together. What I do have to offer is my full presence; my commitment to each client’s vision; my network of contacts; my brain full of books and websites to offer as resources; my empathetic presence at those times when the journey gets tough; and my steadfast enthusiasm for taking each dream to fruition. Each session is organic and intuitive; I go with each client where we need to go together at any given time to move the dream forward.

So … here I am. Life coach for a better world, at your service. Let the adventure begin!

My dream

As I write this, it is the eve of my 40th birthday.  I am ready to begin the next chapter of my life, dreaming into my own change.  I am not a youngster anymore.  It is time for me to step up and bring my full self to bear on this world.  There is a lot in the world that needs changing.  I want to play the most powerful role I can to bring about this change.  The first step, for me, is to stand up and state my values.  Sometimes, in the past, I have kept quiet about them because I feared offending or  triggering discomfort for some people. But I now realize that we all get triggered sometimes, and that is part of life.  And in many social movements over the years, people really needed to get triggered in order for the change to come about.  And I really want to work with people in this practice who share my values (not necessarily all, but most) and my vision for a better world.  So, here are some things about me and what I stand for.

The bottom line:  I value compassion and respect.  For everyone.  This theme expresses itself in four broad areas, on which I want to focus my time and energy:

1) Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and restorative justice, as alternatives to conventional ways of communicating that are based on blame, shame, reward, and punishment.  I know that we humans are capable of so much more, and these tools give me great hope for moving humanity forward in this regard.

2) Veganism.  I know that animal products equal animal suffering, and I am not willing to play a part in animal suffering.  As a species, I believe we need to make the leap to living and eating compassionately and respectfully.  The fact that veganism is growing so fast all over the world right now gives me tremendous hope.

3) I am touch-positive, sex-positive, and polyamorous. I support everyone’s right to love whomever they want, in whatever mutually agreeable configuration they see fit.  I also think most people in our culture are tragically touch-starved.  Further, our culture is dysfunctionally dualistic about sex (simultaneously Puritanical and porn-obsessed, for example) and I believe we could all benefit from more connection, more supportive touch, and more heart-centered, conscious sexuality of many stripes.

4) Sustainable transportation.  I believe we need to move beyond our current model of single-occupant, internal-combustion vehicles.  I strongly support bicycling, bus and rail transit, and walking as alternatives to this paradigm.  Fortunately, this is easy to do, because let’s face it:  bikes and trains are cool!

Now … how do I plan to help the world – and more importantly, help you – to make changes in these areas?  I’m glad you asked!  I believe some of my biggest strengths are my optimism, my enthusiasm, my ability to connect with a wide variety of people and take in a wide scope of information, and my ability to support people as they discover and move toward their own dreams.

My intention with this Dream Into Change practice is to facilitate people’s journeys from where they are (for example, feeling stuck in a job that pays the bills, but does little to nourish the spirit or make the world a better place) to where they want to be.  For any given person, this might mean changing careers, beginning a new business venture, or perhaps starting up a significant “side project” and/or working to transform an unfulfilling work situation to make it more fulfilling.  These questions have been my personal struggle for the last 20 years, and I have found many different ways to approach them.  I want to share these ideas with clients and readers, and I want to collaborate with clients to identify their own values and passions, and collaborate to help them integrate their values and passions into as many hours of the day as possible, both in and out of work.

My vision is a world in which people direct their time and energy toward life-serving pursuits, for themselves and for others, with an eye toward the global picture.  I am very excited to help bring about this world, by working with individuals to turn their dreams into reality.

I hope you will follow me as I continue to dream into my own change here on this blog.  I will share periodic updates about my own journey, as well as interviews with people who are inspiring me by taking leaps of faith and living their own dreams.  I’ll also share links to other articles and items I find, relating to either following one’s own heart or to any of the issue areas I listed above, as well as other items that I find inspiring and I hope you will too.

Thank you for joining me!  Let’s Dream Into Change.