Life Talks

Life Talks are about the present context of your life and what you are thinking and feeling about everything, from yourself to your family, your children to your career, your parents to your own sense of parenting, marital challenges to dating, loss of friends to a lack of purpose, and wherever else we take our conversations based on what is going on in your life and how you feel and think about it all. Life Talks, as with all life coaching and relationship coaching, are an alternative to therapy and formal counseling, since you may not want or need the analysis or problem-solving approach, or sometimes the record keeping and reporting to insurance companies, that therapy and counseling may entail. This page, in addition to the Intro To Life Talks video on the home page, will give you a good sense about how Life Talks work, what they are, and a few things about life in general.

You might want to talk with Don if:

  • You are going through a divorce or just got divorced, and you want someone to help you understand what is going on, to help you through the harshness of it, and to help you regain your balance.
  • You are thinking about getting divorced and don’t know if it would be a big mistake.
  • Your marriage is fine, but you feel like you are just going through the motions most days and want a greater sense of purpose.
  • Things don’t seem to be going well within your family, especially with your kids, and you don’t know what to think, how much of it is your fault, and if you are a bad parent.
  • Your mind spins because so many thoughts enter your mind about who or what is causing you to feel frustrated, confused, and unhappy, and you wish you could identify it so you could address it.
  • A tragedy happened and it is too hard to deal with all by yourself.
  • You are thinking about making a career change, but you want someone to help you process such a big change.

Life bears down on everyone at various times and it takes an effort to recapture a sense of yourself and what you value and believe in, and by talking about it with someone who has understanding of these issues you can get back your energy and happiness, and have hope once again. Hope connects us to our future and provides a lot of the fuel for how we live our lives each day. You can regain hope, and gain an approach to life that enables you to consistently re-evaluate life so hope is a part of your approach to living each day.

My Approach To Life Talks
The conversations we will have will be regular conversations rather than the product of a formal approach, and we will go deep and cover a lot of ground. Our conversations won’t be about making a plan for you to become completely renovated as a person—it will actually involve seeing where you are already in a good place. Billy Joel has a line in his song Vienna that says, “You can see when you’re wrong, though you know you can’t always see when you’re right.” Sometimes when we are going through a hard time it is difficult to see what is going on within our own life, especially when we are feeling inadequate or are confused. It is as important to see where you are right as it is to see where you are wrong. These are realizations and are not the product of following a formula, but of normal conversations, and together we will sort many of these things out. Your life matters, and making sure you are in a good place is just as important as making sure others in your life are taken care of. It is same principle as when the flight attendant tells us that in the event we lose cabin pressure and the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, if we are traveling with someone for whom we are responsible, we are to put the mask on ourselves first and then take care of the other person. This may seem selfish at first, but if we are incapacitated, those who depend on us are in trouble, too. Sometimes there has to be Me Time, not just to relax but to figure things out, and we have to make a conscious effort to have it.

Since we are simply going to talk about life, there is little to prepare for and no lists to keep. Our conversations will invariably lead to things that you want in your life and things that you don’t. One of the biggest things you will get from our talks is a sense of what your strengths are so you have a more balanced view of yourself. Parents, and very frequently mothers, lose this sense after they have kids because they are so focused on the well-being of others, and this causes a fall-off on updating their own perspectives about life. Along life’s path we rarely hear what people think we do well or character traits that are admirable, but we hear what some think are our shortcomings. The truth is, we all have things that are admirable, and we need to hear what they are from someone else to become confident in who we each are as a person.

My Approach Toward Helping You Find A Sense Of Purpose To Life
This is huge, and can be simple in theory but more difficult in practice. Peacefulness and purpose frequently come down to finding the few things that you believe in—sometimes it is only one thing from which you won’t budge—thus keeping you tethered to something that forms the framework of how you are determined to live and why you get up each morning. It typically takes only one thing that you order your life around—something you value above all else—and out of this will come order in other aspects of your life. This will become your fingerprint and your identity, and it will be an identity of your choosing, one that comes from the inside out.

Does Faith Ever Factor Into Our Life Talks?
Yes, since it is one area that virtually all of us wrestle with at some point in our lives, whether we almost never go to church or we read the Bible everyday. Faith and what to think about God and life is at the core of the human experience. Having been involved with thousands of conversations about God and attendant subjects over the past twenty years, I am adept at helping people whose faith seems to be failing them, or who may not have had time to simplify it. There have been some centuries-long misunderstandings about how things work that have hurt us and caused us to become confused about many things, frustrated with others, and angry about others. Confusion is frustrating and sometimes painful, but with a fuller perspective, which generally leads to a simpler faith that you understand, the confusion dissipates and so does some of the underlying anger. The goal will be your clarification of things you believe about life, yourself, and others. Sometimes we are not as far away from this as we think, it is just that we haven’t allowed ourselves to consider that we might actually be right about the doubts or problems we are having, or that we may not have felt safe articulating them to someone else. This is more common than not, but we might not have had someone in our life who points out to us that our thoughts actually make sense. If we haven’t had anyone to point out our strengths to us, we rarely gain confidence in our own beliefs and become reluctant to talk about them with others. Over time, not talking about these deeper reflections of life—and theological issues are the deepest issues there are—can cause us to lose our sense of purpose and that we are contributing to others’ lives in meaningful ways.

What I Learned About Family Life From Having Owned A Dance Studio For Twenty Years
Over the twenty years of owning and running the dance studio, I talked about many deep and personal family issues with parents, but mostly with the mothers, since the dance world is populated almost exclusively by females, whether students, teachers, or parents. I talked with thousands of moms as they described the challenges and joys of life with their kids, and watched them grew in their relationships with each other. I have seen things that worked and seen things that didn’t, and one of the biggest things I saw is that parents rarely have a sense of what is working since there is always the next thing to get done or drive the kids to, and too little time to gain perspective on things. Since each family is unique, in our life talks I don’t inject any particular parenting style into how you should do things, but I will share with you many examples and dynamics of things I have seen and experienced with families as they tried navigating their ways through life. And there was a difference between how the mothers or students came into the dance studio to talk with me about something—they weren’t putting on airs since they weren’t walking into church or any other place where decorum takes precedence. They came in as they were experiencing life that day or that week, so it came raw and it came real, with very little varnish. Among other things I saw and felt is that mothers never get a break from being a mother, even when they are sleeping. As beautiful and rewarding as motherhood can be, it comes at a personal cost, and sometimes that cost needs to be evaluated so you don’t completely lose who you are in the process.

A Word About Confusion
Most people do not think of it in these terms, but not only is confusion frustrating, it can be painful. Questions such as, Why is life this hard? Where do I fit in in the world? In my family? Among my friends? At work? In my neighborhood? Am I aging well? Is there a purpose to life? We tend to keep these insecurities private, but questions like these are normal, and when coupled with the pain of other things in our lives, can become overwhelming and make it hard to wake up in the morning and sometimes even harder to lay down at night, knowing that you will be alone with your thoughts. It helps to have someone who understands much about life’s hardships and about its good times, and help you make sense of things, to put things back in a perspective that works for you. This will help you eliminate much of the confusion and give you more peace by having an approach to life that you can articulate because it will be one that you develop in our talks.

Seeing Our Strengths Is As Important As Seeing Our Weaknesses
It is frequently easier to see when we are wrong on something because we have been schooled from a young age to see our mistakes, and also because others are seem more ready to point out our shortcomings than to sing our praises—cops don’t ever pull us over to tell us how well we drive—so it is frequently up to us to figure out what we do well. This is where I can help you sort through the things going on in your life and where your strengths are showing up. This will help you gain a sense of balance, of being centered, and not being wishy-washy on things that you can be confident about. This dynamic will help you develop a sense of your place in this world and to accept yourself more readily. From here you can start accepting others more readily, too, because you will begin seeing their strengths more than you presently do. Knowing your own strengths and helping others see theirs is a huge bond in relationships, and among other things will bring about more joy and peace than you may have anticipated or experienced.

How We Will Have Our Talks
Most of our conversations will take place on the phone for the sake of convenience, and when possible we will hang doing your real-life activities, and getting together in your neck of the woods. We might decide to do errands together, go shopping, have lunch, walk in the park or around the city, all while talking about talk. Life happens in real-life settings, and getting to know you and your surroundings is helpful to knowing what you value, how you process life, and bouncing around ideas that might make your life better. This is not therapy or counseling or coaching, it’s just you and me talking about life–your life. Your life is unique to you, and having an outside voice talk with you about things will help you see some of your strengths and some areas you want to approach differently to become stronger, more confident, less confused, and happier.

When we are in deep pain, sometimes we just need to make it to the next day to try to find some hope of figuring out how life got this hard and how to make it better, how not to feel so bad. With that in mind, my work involves talking about things as life unfolds in a more typical life setting. We will usually talk on the phone with you at your home or sometimes while you are driving around in your car—this is how life happens, and this is one way in which we can talk about life. Finding a simple approach toward living your life, rather than trying to find the spectacular way of living your life, is usually what we will focus on. Once you’ve discovered a simple basis for living your life, which may be just one thing that you hold inviolable and that you wills stick to, you will always have a safe haven to return to in your heart and mind. From this will spring new ideas, new creativity, and a new sense of peace, and the deep pain will begin to dissipate.

Life Talks Don’t Involve Telling You What To Do Or Holding You Accountable to Set Plans
We frequently need someone to talk with about life to find out a good approach in our own situations, but we rarely need someone to tell us what to do. Sorting through the issues and confusion of life and relationships is greatly enhanced by having someone to talk with about your circumstances and values, then reflecting them back to you so you can hear what they sound like and see if they still work for you. Confusion is tiresome because our minds constantly seek to place things in some kind of order, and the things that do not make sense bounce around, seeking a place to settle. This drains us of energy and diminishes our enthusiasm for other things. Some things may never make complete sense, such as why a marriage failed, and identifying those things can help you stop exerting so much energy trying to place them in a category. Few things will confuse and tire you more than trying to make sense of that which does not make sense, and not everything does. Identifying the things that are causing you confusion will help you become more peaceful about the life you are living.

Our Life Talks will not be formulaic, since people and the dynamics of life are too complex to be reduced to a formula. Gaining perspective on what is going on within your life and how you view it will help you become balanced, and this will begin to generate some inner peace. Getting to the point where we accept our strengths and weaknesses will bring us into balance. Life coaching is typically oriented toward lofty goals of career advancement, but setting goals like this can keep you on a gerbil wheel of unpeacefulness, of dissatisfaction, of “it’s not enough.” Finding a place of balance within you can help you guide yourself into these pursuits, or recognize when you are going overboard again. Learning to stop the incessant need for more will help you become more satisfied with life, to help you stop and breathe once in a while or a lot, even when the storms of life are raging around you.

How Long Each Talk Lasts
We try to shoot for an hour, but that can be artificially long if a half hour covered things that day, or might be too short if we are in the middle of a deep conversation. As our relationship grows, our conversations might be five-minute clarifications or can last a couple of hours, depending on circumstance. With some clients I can dedicate a week solely to sorting things out, the details of which we will discuss as things develop. Musicians and touring artists, for instance, who are on tour and want to talk with about life, might need an arrangement for me to be available before rehearsal or even on the tour bus, and these details can be worked out as circumstances dictate. I will keep track of the time we spent, and a thirty-minute conversation, for instance, counts as thirty minutes, not an hour.

About Finding Balance
Virtually every part of life requires finding balance, which involves finding the starting and stopping points in everything. Having balance and peace in the storms of life, which we all endure, whether our fault or someone else’s, is a goal in and of itself. From this we can learn to become more satisfied with who we are. Since life is hard, and sometimes very hard, we have the choice to formulate how we are going to process it rather than it processing us. Someone once said that “there is a price we pay just for waking up in the morning.” In our Life Talks, I will help simplify things with you, which can snowball into greater balance, greater peace, more hope, and a better understanding of life—your life. Through our conversations some lights will come on as you make your way through the confusion and frustration, and you won’t be going through it alone.

Setting Up Life Talk Sessions With Me
The next step is to go to the Contact page and send me an email with a question or request. The fees are in the tab at the bottom of the Home Page, so make sure to check those out as well. Sometimes making an investment in yourself is the right thing to do. When you know more about what you believe and how you want to live your life, it changes the way you feel from the inside out. And you’re worth it.