365 Days of Intentional Focus and Personal Exploration: 2018 Coaching Summary

365 Days of Intentional Focus and Personal Exploration: 2018 Coaching Summary

My theme, or personal guiding concept, for 2018 was to “slow down”.

I did my very best all year to move at a slower pace, take more time for myself and not rush through decisions. This theme certainly played out in my business activities as well as my personal life. This post is a summary of my annual reflections and specific measurements of my activities and contributions as a coach in 2018. 

Due to resuming work full-time in a mentally intense job late in 2017, I had little bandwidth to dedicate to my small coaching practice in 2018. I knew that I needed to be intentional and deliberate with my coaching efforts. With pared back goals, my business activities focused on two activities: connecting and educating.

Business Focus 1: Connecting

Early in 2018 I connected with a wide variety of people through my Weekly Refresh opportunities. These virtual and in person conversations were times where we would slow down, connect with our values, goals and challenges and provide support to each other. Connecting with people on such personal and pertinent topics brought new energy to the start of my year for all of first quarter.

I launched a free community group using, which was the basis for my local coaching outreach efforts all year long. This group was a fantastic way to meet people as I got settled in to my new hometown (Vancouver, Washington). I hosted a variety of small but fruitful events at various places across town. 

Thanks to connections I made early in the year I hosted a joint workshop as part of Vancouver’s Small Business month. This workshop was energizing and my co-facilitators were awesome partners! One direct result of this event for me was launching my Day Away Packages, which help people carve out time for intentional living, goal setting, rest and reflection.  We all need a day away every now and then!

Participation in Leadership Clark County dramatically expanding my local connections as well. The program runs from September 2018- June 2019 so I will definitively continue to have ample opportunities to connect with others in 2019.

Business Focus 2: Educating

Through my full-time job, I was offered multiple opportunities to teach classes and lead training workshops for educators. This was another great opportunity to meet people interested in my coaching topics and work, especially on the power of time spent in green spaces.

I loved being back in the classroom this past year! The educator in me has been brought back to life and I look forward to more teaching opportunities in 2019.

In fact, earlier this week I taught the first session of my Coaching Skills for Managers class through Clark College. We’ve got a great group of managers ready to learn the powerful skill of coaching this winter!

On the personal side

Looking back, 2018 was also one of professional and personal exploration. With my move to Washington came new professional opportunities in the mental health field. My career as a coach started shortly after studying mental health and counseling in graduate school (back in 2005-2006). At that time I also did some personal education around the coaching model, which I love. It is powerful and effective, for sure, yet I’ve also missed being an active and direct advocate for mental health.

So after receiving my license by the state of Washington as a Mental Health Counselor Associate this summer, I decided it was time to return to my first professional love. I am now working full time as a mental health counselor at a behavioral health agency in Vancouver. It has been a life-giving opportunity and perfect chance to spread my wings professionally! This work pairs really well with my coaching work so I am excited to see what 2019 will bring!

Looking ahead to 2019

Last year was clearly focused on connecting with my community, my love for teaching, and my passion for mental health and counseling. Slowing down all year gave me a chance to deeply gain more life-clarity around my own personal and professional goals! I can tell that slowing down, connecting and educating will likely continue to weave through my 2019.

I’ve selected the song Great Are You Lord, a song by All Sons & Daughters, to guide me through 2019. Its messages of praise, hope and healing are exactly what I want to think about in the year to come. I love the way this song begins:

“You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are you, Lord”

May 2019 bring you life, love and light to your darkness. May it give you hope and restore what is broken!


2018 by the numbers:


22 free “Meetup” events in my local community (with 34 members)

14 coaching clients (group and individual)

9 blog posts on life-clarity, personal leadership and life management topics

7 Weekly Refresh sessions with others

5 Continuing Education classes offered through Clark college

2 Greenspace boost trainings for educators

1 day-long workshop for small business owners

1 new service launched: Day Away Planning Packages

1 new professional license obtained (Mental Health Counselor Associate)

Cherished words from activity participants:

Oh my gosh! What a wonderful experience I had. Jessica was easy to talk to and really helped me set some tangible and tactical strategies for my goals. So inspirational. Can’t wait until our next meet up! I hope more of you will come too. – D.


Thank you!!! I totally enjoyed the beautiful walk & meeting you..Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and I will most definitely be joining you again. – J.


My Day Away has been productive, restful and peaceful. I feel encouraged about what I am learning…especially about making time blocks. -J.

Direction in the New Year

Finding Direction in the New Year: When one word just isn’t enough

Have you ever picked a word for the year? It is a popular year end process. Picking a word for the year is a great way to focus your mind and goals for the coming year. It helps create more life-clarity too! I’ve done it several times, but as a visual thinker a word for the year sometimes just isn’t enough for me. I’ve found that picking a word for the year is just too limiting, too narrow, when I am seeking direction for my future. Have you also had a hard time coming up with just one word to guide your next steps?

Don’t settle for just one word for the year. Pick a guiding concept instead!

For several years now, I have expanded my year end reflection beyond just a word for the year. I look for a concept that will guide me through the coming months. This process of selecting an annual guiding concept is a great way to start goal setting for the year. A guiding concept creates a solid foundation for any resolutions or goals, not matter the size or focus of what you want to accomplish.

I’ve met other people who also don’t like to stick with just a word for the year. Instead they pick guiding concepts like a famous quote, a song or even an image. It doesn’t really matter what form it takes as long as the concept really resonates with you in powerful way. The key I’ve found is to pick one to start with and allow yourself to add to it in the future.

You may have picked something like this in the past, or perhaps it is a new practice for you. Either way, this practice is a great way to transition from one year into the next!

Continue reading “Finding Direction in the New Year: When one word just isn’t enough”

Whats so great about working in groups

What’s so great about working in groups?

People can be so frustrating! We’ve all been in a group or team that seems dysfunctional. We’ve had coworkers who are obnoxious, friends who don’t keep our secrets or family members who won’t mind their own business. Relationships with other people are often down right tricky! Working with others can be so frustrating…so unenjoyable…and for a wide variety of reasons. So what is so great about working in groups? And when it comes to our own personal work for development and growth, why should we involve other people?

There are a lot of reasons groups go wrong. Maybe the mix of personalities doesn’t work well or the tasks weren’t evenly distributed at the start. A group can get in a rut and experience groupthink when it is hard to come up with new ideas, or go against the group consensus. Social loafing – when someone in a group doesn’t carry their weight – is an all too common experience. Just ask a current high schooler!

So clearly sometimes it is just better to go the path alone.  But as tough as some relationships are in life, partnership with others and a sense of teamwork are commonly a powerful way to move through life. I’ve learned that this is especially true when it comes to personal growth and going after our goals. Continue reading “What’s so great about working in groups?”

Where to Start When Setting Goals

Where to Start When Setting New Goals

Setting goals can be an overwhelming process. It can feel intimating and confusing. It can be hard to know where to start when setting new goals for the future. Goals that are hard to make are hard to achieve!

I learned a powerful approach to goal setting in my 20s that I have used and shared ever since. The secret is to start by looking at the roles you play in life. You can also think of a role as the areas or categories in your life. This approach is part of Stephen Covey’s popular work around personal leadership, productivity and social interaction. I love his work! If you aren’t familiar with his main concepts, check out this good 7 Habits for Highly Effective People book summary.

Continue reading “Where to Start When Setting New Goals”

How to Quickly Plan Your Day Away (2)

How to Quickly Plan a Day Away

Sometimes we just need to get away from the normal routine of life!

I need space to focus on just ME when life feels overwhelming or too repetitive. You too? Looming big decisions or recent significant experiences drive me to find some “me time”. How about you? Seems like we all need a day away from time to time!

With summer right around the corner many of us are itching to travel and take a break from normal life. Unfortunately, multiple-day vacations and retreats aren’t always an option. Most of the time though we CAN find ONE day to get away for rest, rejuvenation and a little “me time”. Just one day is doable and requires minimal planning.

I’ve got a simple formula for you, making it easy to quickly plan your time away and make sure it is enjoyable, in your budget and a meaningful experience. Creating a great one day mini-escape or personal retreat is easy with this process.  It includes all the core pieces I think through to have my own personal times away. It also includes the various important parts I consider when putting together bigger event (such as retreats, conferences, competitions, weddings, parties, etc.)

We can all use this simple list of questions to quickly make some decisions when we need a day away! Continue reading “How to Quickly Plan a Day Away”

How Personal Values Help Guide Us

How Personal Values Help Guide Us

It can be so hard to know which bridge to cross sometimes! Life may feel just “off” somehow. Our schedule can seem like it belongs to someone else because it just doesn’t fit us any longer. Our habits can create patterns in life we don’t like. Sometimes we just feel really lost, not knowing which way to go! It can seem almost impossible to re-direct a life that feels so out of line…so “not us”…so confusing. What can be done once life is like this? We don’t often talk about our values with other people. It just isn’t something we are taught or encouraged to do, but our personal values help guide us in life. They are one of the best guides we could ever use!

So what are personal values?

Our personal values are the concepts we each hold highly important and deem necessary in order to have a fulfilling and satisfying life. In our life and work they are the concepts that we personally find most important. We are often willing to make sacrifices of other less important aspects in life to ensure that what we value most exists around us.

Our values help us live “the good life”. They give us more clarity for how to make life feel more authentic, satisfying and fulfilling! Without them we would feel as if something is missing or being overlooked. Without identified personal values we can feel lost and confused, easily swayed by the values of those around us individually or collectively. Values guide our actions, words, behaviors and choices.

Values are a core part of our self and our identity. Because they are so intricate to who we are, they are also great conversation starters with other people. You can create powerful relationships with people who know or share your values.

While the notion of values may bring up similar concepts such as priorities, spiritual beliefs, purpose or culture, they are not all the same. There are similarities and distinctions between all of these concepts, which I’ll save for another post.

You may also be thinking about the idea of personal intrinsic value right now. It is important to note that a personal value is entirely distinct from a person’s intrinsic value. We are all valuable. Our worth is intrinsic; we are valuable just because we exist! Continue reading “How Personal Values Help Guide Us”

annual report cover yellow

2017 Annual Business Report


Looking Back – a year of building, mourning and celebrating:

2017 was quite a year…so I’ve decide to wrap it all up in a formal annual report for my business.

I am amazed – seriously, almost stunned – at what all I was able to accomplish with my coaching business this past year.

I officially launched the business mid-way through 2016 after several months of being unemployed. I spent most of 2016 creating my website, working on my branding and deciding how to structure my business.

Looking back, I can see that this beginning work in 2016 was really the foundation for all I would do in 2017.

Like building a house, after the foundation comes the frame. 2017 was truly a year of building the frame and focus, for my coaching business.  In April I passed the knowledge exam and certification requirements for the Associate Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation. This was a big accomplishment for me as a coach! I also returned to full-time work after nine months of job searching and working only part-time.

A big event mid-way through 2017 shook me and my business to the core resulting in a stronger commitment to my work as a women’s personal leadership coach.

Continue reading “2017 Annual Business Report”

valentines day post banner

The Perfect Treat to Love & Support Your Goal-Getting Valentine


This week is a big one for love! It includes the ever-pink holiday, Valentine’s Day, full of candy sweet hearts, chocolate kisses and chubby cupids. Much of my coaching work and writing focuses the individual; accomplishing their specific goals and working through their personal situations or challenges. Thanks to Valentine’s Day, this month has me thinking differently. We all have goals, but so do the people around us that we love. I don’t want my focus to always be on me and my goals. That’s rude and selfish…and yet pretty natural…so I write to remind myself too with this post. Join me this month in showing love to our loved ones by supporting their goals, in addition to our own!

It is easy to focus on how to accomplish our own goals. They drive us! We think through what needs to happen before the dreams become accomplishments. We may write them on our bathroom mirror, post them as the backdrop on our phone or share them online. They are our goals. We know them inside and out. But what about when the goal is not yours? How do we support our spouse’s or loved one’s goals, especially when they do not really involve us?

Continue reading “The Perfect Treat to Love & Support Your Goal-Getting Valentine”


Searching For a New Career at 50: Suzy’s Coaching Journey

A little over a year and a half year ago, I (Suzy) came to Jessica to be coached on my job situation.  I needed a new career!

At 50 years old. I was feeling stuck in a comfortable but not beneficial to my health job that I had been at for 27 years. I was successful but ready for a change and beginning the second half of my life caused me to reflect on how I wanted to spend the second half.

Jessica began by having me break down a very vague goal of wanting a new career into exploring my options and I came up with three. I updated my resume ( which I had been procrastinating doing until I was coached) and then I took a week or two to fully explore the 3 options I came up with.

During our weekly calls Jessica would pray with me and ask me questions that helped me refocus and be goal directed.

Finding Qualifiers & Taking a Pause

Jessica encouraged me to develop qualifiers (what did the job that I was looking for have to have or be). To do this I had to examine my values and even my personality and do much soul searching.

Somewhere in the middle I became frustrated and overwhelmed as nothing seemed to be perfect or happening now. Jessica suggested we take a “pause”. We stopped our coaching sessions for a few weeks to give me more time for life to unfold. 

I look back and think, “So wise.” It was during this pause she encouraged me to pursue the yoga I had shared with her was a huge stress reducer for me. Little did I know at the time that this little side trip in our coaching time would lead to a new door opening and include my ministry. Continue reading “Searching For a New Career at 50: Suzy’s Coaching Journey”

weekly refresh

How A Weekly Refresh Creates Resolution Success

January is a season of fresh starts, new goals and high hopes. Many of us resolve to change bad habits, finally accomplish a specific goal, or simply live better lives. Oh, how I love this time of year, so full of promise and motivation!

Sadly though many of us are already suffering from something I call resolution fade…just a few weeks into the new year. Our drive was strong just a few weeks ago! Our hearts were in the right place! We were so confident in our aspirations. What happened? Where did we go wrong?

How quickly the resolve fades.

Because life can get tricky whenever we set out to make improvements, we often find ourselves giving up before seeing success. Challenges we face can make it hard to persevere, our resolve fades, and unless we push through…several times in fact…we are likely to give up on our goals and dreams of being or doing something different. That slow downhill process is what I’m calling Resolution Fade. And, if we don’t fight through when it starts to get difficult, as Jason Selk described in his article about the 21-Day Myth, our motivation wanes and our commitment to our new habits weakens over time.

Somehow we may even start to think we probably just set our goals too high or wonder what made us so confident just a few weeks ago. Eventually the desire is gone, we’ve fully given up, and hope we will have better luck next year.

It doesn’t have to be this way! You don’t have to be a victim of Resolution Fade in 2018! Not under my watch! I want you to be successful going after every goal you set!

Continue reading “How A Weekly Refresh Creates Resolution Success”