Category Archives: Uncategorized

Announcing: Prosperity Career Coaching

After taking a “Design your Own Weebly Website” class at my local public library, and spending literally 95 hours developing my first professional website, I am happy to present:

http://www.prosperitycareercoaching.com/

WORDS ARE POWERFUL! Does your message stand out from the crowd?
Are you a…….
VISIONARY?
ENTREPRENEUR?
Soon to be – High School and College GRADUATE?
CAREER CHANGER?
MIDLIFE RE-INVENTOR?
Professional seeking WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
BUSINESS OWNER?

Check out
http://www.prosperitycareercoaching.com/
to learn about the fantastic Business Writing, Personal Branding and Career Path Coaching Services. A passionate and experienced Wordsmith, I offer a unique blend of Mindful Mentoring and Pragmatic Business Expertise.

I would love to help you put words around your vision, your passion and your dream career.  Let’s open doors to your future together!

Please contact Victoria at WordsmithVictoria@gmail.com

Who am I, What Do I Have to Offer and Why Should People Care?

storytelling-wordle

Laptop open and hair pulled back, I sip on an Americano and act as a conduit for my clients. First appointments are usually tentative, as we find commonalities,craft a path and map out goals. Subsequent sessions often involve hugs or tears, and delightful transformation. Participating with gratitude and humility, I sit back and watch the rainbow of humanity cross my path at my “Starbucks office”.

Who do I work with and why do they come to me?

Engineers, CEO’s, accountants, teachers, lawyers, pharmacists, graphic designers, sound designers, construction workers and restaurant managers – all of whom want to: edit a resume or LinkedIn page, discover their “special sauce” or Personal Brand, reinvent themselves professionally or actualize entrepreneurial dreams.

At least these concrete tasks are what usually motivates clients to send me a text or email in response to one of my many online ads.

Students also seek out my consultation: high school students trying to write better papers, undergraduates applying for select graduate programs, and PhD candidates writing complex dissertations.

American and international geniuses from Europe, Asia and South America all show up, with carefully crafted documents and hopeful dreams of change for the future.

These are the demographic markers of the hundreds of people I have worked with for over 20 years, as a writing coach, editor, academic/business/life coach, content creator, and personal brand consultant. I have titles and my clients have titles, which bring us together and help propel our careers, but underneath it all is the PROCESS.

What I really DO, on a spiritual and “deep dive” level is hold out the metaphorical microphone to whoever is sitting in front of me – provide the time and space and silence and patience for them to FIND THEIR VOICE.

Putting words around:
memories-dreams-accomplishments-fears-realizations-stories-conclusions-assumptions-facts-theories. I hyphenated that list because that is what stream of consciousness feels like, one long, continuous idea that is like an audio loop in our MINDS, an undercurrent or theme that seems disconnected except that it wakes us up in the night and recurs in our journal entries. Pulling on our shirt tails like an insistent child that needs something.

So what I do is provide the container for my clients to finally slow down long enough to give that child a chance to be heard, to elaborate on that whim or to clearly spell out that conclusion. It is cathartic and rewarding and satisfying. Being heard. Realizing that you actually have something to say and that you matter.

Words are powerful. Clarity brings about change. Taking a mental sabbatical, whether for 2 hours or a year, gives us the opportunity to let go of the grocery list mentality and take a broader view of our lives.

This is the work of honing our vision, setting, re-setting and course correcting when our compass is off track. Assisting others in this clarification process is impactful and important work. My obsession with story-telling began as a kid. I remember listening to Studs Terkel on the radio, and reveling in how he drew out the oral histories of regular Americans. Now, at 52, I am blessed to have a calling that involves encouraging and assisting others to find their true north.

In the end – what else do we have to show for our time here on earth but our story, our message and the tribe we leave behind?

What is your story and how do you support your tribe in sharing theirs? I would feel honored if you could share your story or any other feedback with all of us – in the Comment Section below.

Peace.
Victoria
Writer. Coach. Human.

Seattle to Chicago – Speeding Up and Slowing Down

imageAfter struggling to survive in the fourth most expensive city in the USA (Seattle) for the past 6 years, we finally decided to pack up our meager belongings and take the 2000 mile journey back to our hometown, Chicago. Chicago, where the average salary is closer to $40,000 a year vs $100,000 for an entry level engineer at Amazon. Chicago, where plumbers, gardeners, teachers, lawyers and Walmart workers all live on the same street. Chicago, where I can hear 5 languages when I enter the Harvest Time Foods family grocery store, including Spanish on the piped-in radio station.  Chicago, where I just experienced a glorious month of August, swimming in Lake Michigan and spending every day at the beach, reading fun novels and letting the sun heal me.

I have done this journey before, always alone with my son Avante, packing up a truck full of stuff, attaching a tow dolly, driving the car onto it and hauling the entire load across mountains, deserts and lone stretches of road where “no services” signs bring up fears of breaking down on a 90 degree day far from a town. My husband Johnny always flew before us, setting up a job, a place, finding a community.

I have moved from Portland to Chicago, from Chicago to Seattle and now from Seattle back to Chicago, criss-crossing the country over a 10 year period of time, trying to find a home where all three of us (mom, dad and son) can find our way, make friends, learn, grow, prosper, and be healthy. If I could get back the expenses for gas, hotels, truck rentals, security deposits, and start up fees for utilities, we could have probably put it down on a house somewhere, set up shop,
built a home and a business and a life for ourselves…

But we didn’t. We were and are gypsies, acquirers of experience and friends and music and art and festivals and new foods and new languages. We are rich in memories and references, great at conversation and story telling, funny and vibrant and full of life. We have always done what we wanted to do and followed our bliss and up until now, this act of ‘living our right livelihood’ has made perfect sense.

Up until now. In about 30 days, I will have the honor of celebrating my 50th birthday, and this has brought up all sorts of questions about where a person is supposed to be at 50, what they should
have accomplished, what they should OWN and what this birthday means in a global/celestial sense. Lots of fun topics that used to keep me up at night before I enrolled in this 35,000 Calorie Challenge at my YMCA. I have to exercise, hard, for an hour a day, for 100 days straight. Today is day #10 and I have alternated with water aerobics and 10 mile bike rides, every other day. These days I sleep like a baby, out of exhaustion.

However, the questions still tug at me.

Who evaluates our success? Us or society? How much is enough to have earned, accomplished, experienced? Why are we satisfied with what we have at certain points, and woefully disappointed in our lot on other days? Especially when it is the same lot, the same job, the same apartment, the same family.

But it is not the same. I am new here, in my old/new city. Trying to find work and friends and sanctuary in a fast-paced world. Trying to fill my days with structure and purpose and productivity, whether it’s cooking for my family, working with a student or sculpting my body at the Y. Either way, I just want to feel at home in my skin, in my relationships, in my two-flat apartment with it’s wood floors and 1902 wainscoting trim around the ceilings. Waiting to exhale and hopefully stay put for a while – my spirit and pocketbook can’t endure much more change.

The Matriarch has Retired

As if thinking of a stranger, I remember the days of lovingly peeling potatoes, listening to world music and preparing dinner for my family of 3. Day after day, I stood in the small kitchen and created delicious entrees out of simple ingredients, trying out recipes from books I’d borrowed from the library or bringing back old favorites along with the nostalgia that only food can evoke. I felt a certain humility, as if a cog in a machine, and that my role was to be the bringer of health – the one who thinks “what’s for dinner?” early on in the day. I was maintaining the sacred, traditional custom of the family dinner, confident that this act would keep our 13 year old off of drugs and out of some girl’s pants.

I prepared breakfast and lunch with the same reverence, standing on a support pad that chefs use, buying myself new dish towels and other sparky tools to keep my kitchen fresh and exciting. I would listen to NPR each morning, and my (unpaid) daily shift from 6-7am went something like this:

boil up water for rice and coffee/ make coffee to keep myself going while I do the other tasks/wash the dishes from the night before/wipe off the counters,so I can make room for breakfast/feel grateful that I’m doing this in a developed country, with electricity and running water/stare at the fridge/figure out what I can make them for lunch that will be

healthy
portable
cheap

“Mom, I need you to sign this paper that was due 3 days ago, and pay for something” my son would say, handing me a totally wrinkled field trip permission slip, a yearbook order form or some other paperwork that would demand mental focus and the writing of a check.

“Just leave it on the counter, I’ll get to it later. Out of the kitchen.” I’d grunt, in the nicest voice I could muster.

Scramble the eggs for breakfast/put toast in the toaster/check the rice/sauté up some veg/sip the coffee/think about the world/prep the breakfast plates/throw out the half-eaten lunches from yesterday. (Wasted food and energy – try not to think about it, it’s already 6:45… and they have to leave soon.)

A voice on the radio says, “Women’s work contributes to an unacknowledged, un-paid labor force, supporting the nation but somehow not integrated into the Gross National Product.”

“Breakfast is ready” I’d pronounce, placing the steaming plates on our 50’s style metal table with the mis-matched chairs.

“Thanks” one of them would mutter, as they stood primping in the mirror and planning for their day ahead, like you would say to a waitress or a teen at the drive-through, who I now had a new appreciation for.

Passing a mirror, I would see my frizzy hair sticking out, the mascara from yesterday smudged below my eyes, and my paisley mumu hanging off of me in what used to be a funky way. Now I just looked dowdy. I’d think about my day and what I needed to prepare, who I was going to see later, but there was no time for that now.

Next I’d whip through the lunch project, assembling today’s entree, all the while trying to remember to sip my (now cold) coffee and prepare my 10 daily supplements. I did this same routine every day for years.

Then I turned 49 and

all

hell

broke

loose.

I began to ride the emotional and physical wave of shifting hormones. The veil between what I thought and said had always come down during PMS, but now my brassy and intrepid edge was seeping out on a daily basis. Acting like a sacrificial matriarch annoyed me, as my decreasing levels of estrogen revealed a self-protective, guilt-less, woman with a clear voice.

A war had begun in my body, my mind and my apartment.

Maybe I should install a time-clock on my kitchen wall, and punch in every time I am of service.

“Hey, guys, I’m going to put a dollar amount on all of the tasks that I do each day.” I said one day at breakfast.

“Pretty funny baby.” my husband said. “You know we appreciate your cooking, your cleaning, how you show your love for us.” We had been down this road many times before.

I realized that no amount of praise or number of “thank you’s” could make up for the sacrifice of wifehood, motherhood, womanhood. Before this massive shift, watching my child at a soccer game and noticing his new haircut/clean clothes could give me a feeling of satisfaction. Now I was tired of being a bystander.

I saw time passing and with it, my spirit, my ideas, and my energy. All of that cooking represented unrealized creativity, as the food was simply prepared, ingested, and turned to waste.

I equated each meal with a potential:

essay

article

memoir

I wanted to invest my energy in creative projects that had an actual outcome. Like a man. My inner child was tugging at my shirt tails, begging for attention and a voice.

My un-edited anger seeped into other parts of our lives too. I began delegating housework.

“Mom, where is my black Nike t-shirt?” my teen son demanded one busy morning at 6am, “I asked you to wash it last night!”

The indignant tone in his voice surprised me and forced me to question the division of labor in our home.

“Why is it MY responsibility to wash, dry and keep track of your clothes?” I said, thinking this was yet another watershed moment in our mother-son journey.

I went to the store and bought 3 small matching hampers. From that day forward, each family member had to wash and dry and sort their own laundry.

Revitalized after letting go of that daily task, I made a list of other domestic paradigms I had unknowingly put myself into the center of, as the “woman” of the house.

Housework was taking away my time to write, think, meditate, be. Fantasizing about driving out of their lives forever on my motorcycle, I also knew that I still wanted to share my life with these male beings. Using my creativity to solve this middle passage challenge, I devoted every spare moment to writing, yoga, solitude and silence. Anger began to slowly dissipate, replaced by a new confidence and knowledge that I deserved to feel joy and a sense of fulfillment.

I began the journey of discovering, accepting and honoring my new self, and wanting to connect with other “older” moms like me. We were and are the new generation of women who are raising teens at a time when our mothers were grandmothers, watching as hormonal tidal waves uproot our homes and searching for a quiet desert island.

 

Walking the Camino – Six Ways to Santiago

image

The documentary Walking the Camino – Six Ways to Santiago follows a group of tourists turned pilgrims, as they walk 500 miles across Northern Spain, in the ancient tradition of Christians who have followed this same spiritual path for hundreds of years.  Along the way there are albergues, or hostels, where those who are walking can stay for a very small fee.  You sleep in large rooms with men and women, eat communally and are basically thrown head-long into an international slumber party.

The walkers are a young woman with her preschool-aged son, a pair of senior men who are best friends, and some other young men and women who connect with each other along the way.  The mother actually has a stroller for her son, along with a huge backpack and some other bags, and they both walk (ride) the entire 500 miles!

There are many reflective moments where the pilgrims compare the Camino to the road of life we are walking down:  unpredictable, painful, exciting, humbling.  They speak of not knowing what will happen that day, where they will sleep that night, who they will meet, and how that is why they felt so ALIVE during the journey.

In one scene, the older gentlemen chat about what it is like to pack everything you own and need into one bag, and then start walking for the day.  They spoke about how the trail was their home.  Letting go of possessions enabled them to be free and live in the moment.

Watching this film, from the vantage point of my {mother-wife-teacher-owner of a car and a motorcycle-person with a schedule} perspective, I felt sad.  Living in hostels, on the edge, from day to day was my lifestyle for about 10 years and my current normal life has a repetitiveness that is mind-numbing, predictable, stifling.

I’d like to close with these questions, and I would love to hear your thoughtful responses in the comment section below:

How much do we need to sacrifice for our children/partner/success?

What is the price we pay for consistency?

Are our accomplishments truly significant, if all we are doing is training ourselves to sublimate our true nature, our inquisitive minds, or desire for connection and adventure?

How do you define success?

When do you feel the most spiritual?  The most connected to others and the Universe?

Join the conversation as we question the assumptions that are all around us, and work to re-define our own values, dreams, futures.