Gifts Don’t Always Come with Fancy Bows

When we met for the first time I could hardly hear Elaine. She alternated between whispering and crying. As a mom of 4 children, she was upset by the most recent parent teacher’s meeting she’d attended for her eldest daughter. Her daughter’s grades were great, but the teacher pointed out that her daughter’s self-confidence was not.

It was heartbreaking.

Elaine had done everything to ensure that all of her kids would be happy and bright and yet here was Jess, struggling – just like she had.


Worse still when she spoke to her daughter, Jess confessed that she was terribly afraid she would disappoint her parents.

That last piece had brought Elaine to see me.

It was all too familiar.

She had lived with the sadness of being a disappointment to her parents her whole life. 


Her brother and parents were very close.

Elaine was not. Loving and affectionate, she’d reached out for hugs her whole life only to be told that displays of affection were not something they did. It felt for her as though her brother had received all the love there was, and she had gotten just a drop here and there and now there was Jess.

Elaine had heard that patterns can be inherited, and it was clear to her that somehow her daughter was repeating the insecurity and sadness she had felt. In fact, it still hurt. 

Her mother and father had both come from broken families with distant parents. Their mothers had needed to work really hard to make ends meet. Affection hadn’t been readily available. Somehow her brother could fit in, but she could not. She had always longed to be seen and loved and her heart still ached for what she hadn’t received. 

We spoke about patterns and connections to parents and she became even more upset. There was nothing of value that she could take from them and she didn’t know how to feel good enough about herself to pass that onto her daughter.

Several times she mentioned that all she’d gotten were the odd drops of love.


I asked Elaine what she was like as a mother? Distant – cold? 

For the first time she lit up and her eyes twinkled. “No!” she declared firmly. “I have so much love to give and I do! I am the mom who bakes, cooks, loves even though I work a full job. I love my family and they know it.” 

And there it was. The drop of gold.

Sometimes gifts don’t come in pretty paper and our strengths aren’t always grown on easy street. And we don’t always recognize the change agents that we are or the chapters that only we can write. 


“Those drops of love?” I asked. “You speak about those as though they were important?” 

“I treasured every little piece I got,” Elaine said softly. “I was determined that my kids would get to know every day that were loved. I am very proud of that.”

“So, you took the drops and grew them into something wonderful.” I pointed out. It really sounds like you treasured them and grew the treasure.” 

“I’d never looked at it that way,” Elaine responded. “I guess I really did, and I give my brother and parents all the love I can. They think it’s silly, but they tolerate it I guess.” Her face fell again. “Maybe it’s all silly.”

“Or not?” I offered. “We live a large part of our lives in response to patterns. Some strong and some limiting and yet we have the ability to change them at any time. You came from a legacy of sadness and withdrawal and yet perhaps the system was looking for another way. It needed someone to bring the love and connection back in.”

“Through me?!” Elaine sat all the way up in her chair. “Oh, my goodness!”

“Someone had to be willing to do it differently.” I pointed out. “Your family was lovingly following a pattern and there’s something special about the way you have brought the love and connection in.”

“I swore I would do it differently,” Elaine said softly. “I still love them though.”

“They sparked your change,” I said. “And for that, you owe them thanks. Showing love is your gift of change to the system. You and your husband bring what they couldn’t but they started your journey.”


Elaine got it.

She was the change agent in the family.

She had a purpose and that she could pass onto her daughter Jess. 


We often grow in collusion with or reaction to the system and Elaine’s case it was in spite of the system. Sometimes in life the spark that makes us different and special may not come from a place of joy or ease and yet it is no less special. When we can see the gifts that are trying to emerge for and through us, life becomes a place of joy where we flourish. 

Systems are elegant things they are always in service of our highest good if we only look. 

It’s Not Just About Showing Up

I know we are told that showing up in your life over and over again will get you results and while that’s true it’s not the entire secret sauce. 

When you keep showing up over and over again shift will happen but recently I’ve been struck by additional ingredients that can make all the difference.

Elevated emotion, belief that something more is possible here and self-ambition – wanting more and daring to go there.

Together these combine to open the head, heart, and gut which creates a state of increased awareness and possibility. Now what we tell ourselves has a chance to change from the tried, trusted and sometimes limiting systemic beliefs we have to a new possibility.

Once you show up in that state over and over again, you start creating new sentences and new truths. Now you are moving beyond the old family sentences and mindsets, or the ones you have created in response to an event and you are no longer trapped and living someone else’s history.   

If you increase your level of showing up and begin to add in elevated emotions like joy, kindness, love or gratitude, a knowing that something different is possible and the determination to go there, your language changes. Your thoughts and emotions change and with it your actions and self-talk change. Suddenly your world is no longer the same.     

Your Systemic Sentences

You begin to move from:

“I’m not good enough/smart enough/strong enough” to “I am learning/ I can do this/I am doing this/I belong here.”

Now you’re no longer caught in the past but are solidly positioning yourself to write your own chapter and build a future you like. We are stronger self-magic makers than we imagine.  

Love the sentences you tell yourself every day – your systemic sentences. Don’t treat them as limiters. Instead, use them to identify where you may be stuck or looking to move to a higher level.

Then notice what you really want, how you want to feel and then dare to go there. 


Here’s a quick exercise to jumpstart your own showing up with a sprinkle of elevated emotion, possibility, and self-ambition. I’d love to hear what happens for you all when you add these additional ingredients. 


  • Please write down one way you would like your life to change/ be more/ grow
  • Now write down all the things you tell yourself that limit you from getting there. 
  • Who said that first? Was it you or does that language/mindset live in your family somewhere? 
  • To whom or to what event might these sentences belong.
  • What more is possible here that you would like to see for yourself?
  • Write down how you will show up consistently
  • Add one elevated emotion that you will add that you can feel as you write it down
  • What can you tell yourself about the way you are changing your life?
  • For the next 21 days, I want you to feel and embody the way you have just designed. 

Come and Find out at the Emotional DNA Workshop

I Won’t Be Okay!

Systemic Sentences

Events in our lives can trip us up.

They happen.

We make a decision.

And never realize that we have just set a mindset in motion that may run our lives subconsciously yet powerfully until we make another decision.

Mindsets are powerful creatures and sometimes they have traveled generations to get to us. I refer to this as inheriting your emotional DNA and studies have now demonstrated what we already knew. That unresolved trauma can pass from generation to generation. And that it can pass down via sentences we don’t even realize we carry or that they have weight.

Let me tell you about James:

James came to see me because he was struggling to connect with his wife.

It had all begun many years ago when his mother died after a lengthy illness. His girlfriend at the time was struggling with her own issues and so he had nowhere to turn for comfort.

This had become a pattern. Every time things were rough he would reach out to the ones closest to him, only to find that they need his strength and he was exhausted. He was finding himself reaching out to anyone however inappropriate because he needed to feel okay so that he could be strong at home.

I asked him two things:

  • How had his father done with the situation?
  • What did he remember telling himself about what was happening?

His father, he said had become both strong, yet needy and he remembered his father telling him that how he had struggled when his own mother died. The children had wondered why their father had so many women so fast after their mother died.

At that moment James could see part of his own pattern. His father had probably wanted someone to connect with for his own grief and had had to be strong for the children.  Then James looked up startled. We’d been talking earlier about language and how the words we say can create a trap for us. 

“When the news of this came,” he said. “I told a colleague of mine I will not be okay.”

He looked at me and said: “And I haven’t been okay since then.”

We spoke about his mother and about really saying goodbye, for now, something he hadn’t been able to do. 

“Just like my dad couldn’t,” he realized. “Now I get it.”


Then we looked at gifts from her that he loved and that gave him the strength that he could take with him so that he would finally be able to tell her and himself that he would be okay.

He realized that he’d also been repeating his father’s feelings and living a multi-generational pattern of not knowing how to reach out or be okay when traumatic events happened. Already one of his children was showing signs of withdrawing when things were difficult and that allowed James to see how important it was to break the pattern.

When James could tell his wife what was going on, he found that she’d been longing for him to come to her for support but had given up, deciding she couldn’t change this piece of him, and she was right. He had to do that. 


His business began to take a different turn too.

No longer afraid that he would not be okay if something awful happened, James found himself expanding into areas he had deemed too risky. 

“Once I knew I would be okay, everything changed for me,” he said. “My mother would like to see who I am becoming.”

Systemic Sentences

The things we tell ourselves become sentences in our system. We call those systemic sentences and often when we look back through the generations of our family or organizations we can trace the sentences and actions that subconsciously run our lives and careers.

Once we gain insight into those pieces and see them for what they are – simply the meanings we have made and turned into ‘the truth’, we are able to mindfully create a different truth that serves and guides us.

In systemic work and constellations, we say the limiting cycle has been broken. 

Once that happens, you are no longer living your history, you are creating a future.  

Come and Find out at the Emotional DNA Workshop

Who Are You When You Embrace Gratitude?

It may sound strange to think that Gratitude affects your life directly but I want you think about this for a minute: 

There are two important things to know about systemic work and constellations:

  1. The decisions you make about events in your system become language and actions that run your life, and 
  2. We are affected by multi-generational patterns that we follow quite unconsciously. They create mindsets that can empower or limit us and we inherit them just like we inherit our physical DNA. 

Decisions You Are Making

Taking that into consideration, you might ask yourself what decisions you are making about events in your life right now?

When you keep telling yourself how stressed, tired or unhappy you are, this becomes your truth, You and your children repeat it. 

However, when you begin to introduce gratitude into your personal and professional life, your life changes.

Through this lens you can begin to see how much and how often you are blessed, do things right, are capable and are creating a life that responds to the way you shape it. You can teach yourself what’s possible simply by being conscious of what you already do! 

Gratitude focuses on what’s working, what you are creating and receiving and when that becomes your focus, your language, actions, and mindsets have no option but to change. So do the ways you describe your personal and professional self.

Instead of being stressed, sad, lonely, struggling, you begin talking about yourself as lucky, blessed and engaged. 

That becomes the new truth in your systems. Yes. I hear you say but I’ve had THIS happen to me.

And my question is:  What did you make that mean in your world?

You are given remarkable gifts, sometimes the wrapping isn’t too pleasant but look at it through the lens of gratitude and ask: “What’s possible here” and you will find the remarkable life you are looking for. It’s right there waiting for you to speak or action it into reality.

The Constellations Piece

Now the constellations piece – dimensionalizing what I’ve just said. In other words, being able to see, feel, touch and even taste gratitude. Here’s an exercise that will help you to begin gaining a sense of what I mean. ( We call that transforming yourself)

The Life-Changing Event

I want you to write down one of the worst things that has ever happened to you. (Not one that will freak you out just one you can look at.) 

  • Write it out on a piece of paper and place that paper on the floor. That is your life-changing event. 
  • Walk around it,  stand on it or near it or notice how you may back away or move closer.   That is all information.
  • Write down each limiting thing you say about this event on a different piece of paper and lay them down to the right of that piece of paper with the event written on it.
  • Feel how that feels in your body and notice your thoughts.
  • Be aware of how these thoughts and feelings affect your life. 
The Gift

Now. Please notice what skillsets, coping mechanisms, talents, careers, you have developed as a result of this event.

For example, you might say it’s made me too afraid to speak out- yes – and have you become really good at seeing things that others don’t, or only speaking when you can bring wisdom? You might say I am hardly alive- yes- and did you thank yourself for surviving? Are you grateful for the gift of life?

  • Write down each gift, skillset, coping mechanism you have developed onto a different piece of paper. Lay those down to the left of the piece of paper with the event on it.
  • Notice your thoughts, feelings, sensations in your body. 
The Full Picture

Take a step back and look at the full picture. 

  • Walk towards the limiting side and see how true this feels for you.
  • Go back and then walk towards the gifts, skillsets possibilities etc. and notice how that feels for you.
  • Notice what limiting language or actions on those pieces of paper, you are ready to put down. See if you can acknowledge them and turn the piece of paper over.
  • Now notice from the papers on the left, what you are ready to embrace, start, make a reality in your world and acknowledge them.

Write down the word gratitude on a piece of paper and take that in your hands. 

  • Notice if anything changes for you.
  • Notice if anything else wants to stop or be embraced. 

You might want to take a picture of your layout to remind yourself who you are when think you are limited and who you are when you embrace gratitude.

You are quite likely two very different people and how you emerge is your choice to make.


We think we are living our own lives but all too often we are simply re-living a history until we become aware of the strengths and limitations that we have inherited as a way to belong or not belong in our families. We feel these patterns in our bodies and repeat them in our thoughts and feelings. They are also incredible unlockers of our limitations and our purpose in life and their effects and potentials are profound. Decoding them and using them wisely we are able to unlock our own profound wisdom and potential. 

We all have this ability; we just have to learn to use it. Once we begin to work with our patterns we are amazed to discover just how big we are. We were born to do the profound, the uncommon and the incredible. We are literally able to change our patterns and our lives. 

What is the chapter that only you can write? How big are you willing to be? 

Come and Find out at the Emotional DNA Workshop

Case Study: Beaten and Broken

what is systemic coaching?

Patterns that keep us stuck often begin in prior generations with decisions made about events that then become law in our universe.

People have to flee, and subsequent generations struggle to find a place to belong. Someone is told they’re a terrible communicator by a senior and that becomes the truth for them. What we don’t always realize is that patterns don’t just use repeating words and actions they also incorporate things as clues to what’s happened in the system as you will see in the following case. 

Initial Meeting:

The older heavy-set woman who made her way into the room leaned heavily on a cane and lowered herself carefully onto a chair her eyes downcast, her shoulders pulled up. When she introduced herself, participants had to lean forward to hear her. She was there to learn and listen she said quietly but didn’t volunteer much more than that until she sat in the chair to do a constellation. 

Once upon a not so long time ago, she had been a successful law enforcement agent until she was beaten by one her own with a stick and injured badly, hence the cane. Since then life had been difficult. She’d been poisoned by a partner and become severely ill and depressed. She wondered if she had ‘risen above her raising’ and was now paying the price. Perhaps she’d deserved the beatings and injuries. She felt ashamed and just wanted to make peace with it all and find a place to belong. 


There were several striking aspects of her language but there was an element that would prove surprisingly important. 

I asked if anyone else in her family had suffered something similar and her eyes widened with shock. Her grandmother came from a very poor background but was very pretty and had had an affair with a prominent businessman in the town and gotten pregnant. Great-grandmother took her to the town square and beat her up with a rod telling her: “That’s what you get when you rise above your raising. You’ve brought terrible shame upon this family.” It left grandmother crippled, broken and excommunicated from the family. The child that was born was my client’s mother who always felt guilty that she’d caused her mother so much pain and would ‘beat herself up’ for being such a burden. 

Looking at the pattern together, we could see how the shame, the beating, the fear of getting too big, had traveled through the generations as a way to bring attention to her excluded grandmother. This client was repeating history like most of us do, rather than living her own life.

Now she had a real chance to write the chapter that only she could write and change the pattern in the family. We worked together to understand how the stick could move from a punisher to strength. We also looked at how she could include her grandmother and great-grandmother and how she belonged in the family. First as a fellow sufferer and now as a change agent. She left in a better frame of mind. 

Six Months Later:

Six months later at a subsequent workshop, a slim young woman bounced into the room with a smile and bid everyone a happy hello. No one knew who she was until she introduced herself and several people gasped in shock. The stick was gone, the extra weight was gone and the person in the room looked nothing like the woman who had shuffled into the room on a cane. 

She said she had felt the weight of the shame and betrayal leave her during the constellation. Her thoughts and feelings about herself had shifted and she’d shed the burden and with it the pounds. There was a lightness about her. She shared that she had begun a foundation to help some of the many wounded warriors in the country and she held up a stick to show us that she now carried the baton for others who needed to heal. What had been an instrument for inflicting pain, was now a symbol of hope.


We think we are living our own lives but all too often we are simply re-living a history until we become aware of the strengths and limitations that we have inherited as a way to belong or not belong in our families. We feel these patterns in our bodies and repeat them in our thoughts and feelings. They are also incredible unlockers of our limitations and our purpose in life and their effects and potentials are profound. Decoding them and using them wisely we are able to unlock our own profound wisdom and potential. 

We all have this ability; we just have to learn to use it. Once we begin to work with our patterns we are amazed to discover just how big we are. We were born to do the profound, the uncommon and the incredible. We are literally able to change our patterns and our lives. 

What is the chapter that only you can write? How big are you willing to be? 

Come and Find out at the Emotional DNA Workshop

It’s All About You, It’s NOT All About You, It’s All About You!

When you come to a systemic work and constellations class, you may have heard that this is a highly interactive approach and you may have heard that it creates remarkable shifts. You know more is possible in your life and you want it and you’ve heard that this may be a way for you to finally get that life you want. If you actually experience a constellation then you bring an issue you want to deal with or a limitation you want to get past. In other words, it’s all about you…or perhaps…

In systemic work and constellations, many of the places where you get stuck or hit brick walls seem inexplicable. You are doing what you know how to do and yet you still hit those limits or self-sabotage right at the point of success, or just can’t seem to flourish.

And that’s where it may not be about you. You may be unconsciously, let me repeat that… unconsciously entangled with a limitation or pattern from a predecessor. Imagine that! You might have inherited a pattern that has outlived its use and when patterns do that, they become a problem.

What was once a solution for a predecessor is now a problem for you!

When someone tells you, you are just like your mother, father, uncle, you want to pay attention because someone is pointing you to the source of your stuck-ness. Now. That doesn’t mean that you have someone to blame. It simply means you have insight into what may have you stuck and yes – originally it may not have been about you. Science now shows that trauma can pass from generation to generation. Neuroscience shows you that until you start thinking and feeling differently you may be simply repeating history.

And here’s the breakthrough.

Systems look for inclusion and carry significant clues to your success and failure. In other words, everyone has a place and when someone is displaced or excluded, the pattern that caused that displacement or exclusion finds a way to emerge again through a later generation in order to show what wants to come into a state of balance. In other words, what hasn’t been resolved in one generation can seek resolution in a later one through you and that’s where you come in.

Where you feel stuck, limited, frustrated, that’s the pattern asking to be seen, so that something different is possible. And that…is where you come in. You see, your frustration or deep desire is simply your subconscious trying to get your attention and what can happen next is goosebump worthy!

Once you see and feel what has you stuck or isn’t working, you can choose something different.  If you choose that change then not only does your life change, the entire system changes and your purpose has the space to emerge! This is the chapter that only you can write, and it is profound. When people invest in their purpose and growth, the remarkable can and does happen.

At the Advanced course in Disney, where we explored purpose and clarity, it became quite evident that purpose is an antidote for all the limitations and excuses we use to keep ourselves stuck when we don’t know what to look for. Purpose will propel you past all the limitations, roadblocks, frustrations, un-worthiness and doubt. If you choose it.

And this is again where it is indeed all about you! Once you invest in the new pattern that’s trying to emerge through you, you begin to experience your bigger self – your true self to be exact. The welcome home carpet rolls out and you are finally doing the thing you were born to do.

Of course, at the same time, you are changing your own life, the rest of the system is evolving. The minute one part of a system shifts that system is no longer the same and so, of course, it’s not all about you …and yet it truly is, and the beat goes on.

Now the constellations piece. Tuning into your purpose.

So many of you ask me how to find your purpose and there’s a long answer to that but here’s a short way to begin getting in tune with it.

Please bear in mind that purpose is a life-long commitment, but it all begins with one choice and one step. It’s yours to take now.

One of my favorite places is stuck. Stuck lets you know right away that you have outgrown your box and you have a few options. Try staying small, give up and shrink to fit or grow! And contrary to popular thought, growing can be a lot of fun. Your Purpose lives there.

  • Find a place where you are stuck. Name it and write it down on a piece of paper. Place it on the floor
  • Write down all the ways you are stuck, each on its own piece of paper and place them in relation to the place you are stuck
  • Now allow yourself to think, feel and sense all that this stops you from doing.
  • Was anyone in your family system ever stuck in this way?
  • Step away from that and ask yourself: “What do I really not want?”
  • Write that down and place it on the floor too.
  • Feel that
  • Now write down how or where you want to be and find a place to place that
  • Stand near that and again allow yourself to become aware of your feeling’s thoughts and senses.
  • Can you feel the difference?

How big are you willing to be?

Our first workshop of the year is doing the work of Emotional DNA.  Find out more here: Emotional DNA Workshop

Is Systemic Work and Constellations Transformational?


I am often asked is constellations work transformational?

Will it unleash the power within me as other disciplines offer?

Can it rewire my brain?

Can I use this approach as a practical way to change my life?


The simple answer is yes. Just like other approaches, the results depend on the client and that’s good news. If you are ready to take charge of your life and if you want more, than yes this is an approach that may help you to achieve the shifts that can facilitate change. 


Unconscious Loyalties

Imagine discovering that you are unconsciously loyal to hidden patterns in your system and that they may be running your life. Now, what if you could actually see them and explore your thoughts, feelings and decisions about issues, events, relationships, money, leadership and then consciously do something different? How might your life change? Systemic work and constellations facilitate that journey.

Constellations illuminate those hidden patterns and unconscious loyalties, they reveal obstacles, limitations, possibilities. Engaging multiple senses, this dimensional approach enables deep insights and lasting shifts and we know that by changing thoughts and emotions you are indeed capable of rewiring your brain. And when use those changes to break multi-generational patterns, your life can change too.


Have I seen careers rise and lives change? Yes. Too many times to count at this stage. Once people understand the framework of this approach and they are committed to change, they are able to leverage their insights, change their feelings from reactive to creative, and harness the power of their choices to create “the remarkable” in their lives. 

Fortune 500 companies use this approach to solve complex problems with high engagement and success. Individuals report amazing shifts in increasing numbers and the field of human potential recognizes that we are quite capable of life-changing breakthroughs. Some people call it magical – we call it unlocking your natural abilities to create a destiny rather than settling for fate.


Over the coming months and throughout the book I am writing, (it may take a while) I will be sharing practical ways for you to use this powerful approach to create the life you want and yes you can do it. You can do it!  You are going to find out how capable you are of doing the incredible. And if you want to accelerate your own life change within a growing community then you are welcome to attend one of our workshops where we work with you to facilitate those insights and changes.

Start Today – Don’t Wait for January 1st! 

So today, your first shift begins. It may seem small at first but pay attention. That’s one of the first rules in any sort of transformative work. Pay attention. Notice small changes – and big ones. They aren’t a coincidence. There’s no such thing. Transformation relies on you being a partner in the process. 

  • Write down one limiting thought on a piece of paper e.g. I’m not good enough.
  • Write down one feeling that you have that limits you on a separate piece of paper– I feel scared or angry or sad or hopeless.
  • Place them on the floor in front of you and back away a bit.
  • Now notice what happens for you as you walk towards each one. Use as many senses as you can (No tasting the paper please????)
  • Notice what happens in your mind and your body.
  • That’s you using multiple senses to connect with what’s going on inside you! These senses and abilities to notice are going to take you places!

We are tuning into your ability to feel and notice things. It begins with knowing yourself and understanding your ability to perceive and shift. Now ask yourself:

  • When did I first think this thought, or feel this feeling?
  • Who else in my family thought or felt this way?
  • Does it serve me? Does it belong to me or have I inherited or borrowed it?
  • Is it mine to change? Am I the change agent? Is this the chapter that is mine to write my way?
  • Am I ready to look at it?


For the next month, I want you to explore the sentence and the feeling you wrote down. 

  • See if you can identify their origins.
  • Notice everything that they are costing you.
  • Step towards those pieces of paper and then away from them and notice how your thoughts and feelings change as you move closer or further away. 

We are building your ability to sense and feel what is going on around you so that you can use it to understand yourself and then create your biggest life!  Here we come 2020!  

And as always, How big are you willing to be?