Monday, December 30, 2013

Just for You

You've given of yourself to everyone else this season, now it is time indulge in a gift just for you. This gift to yourself can be a powerful tool to bring intention into your life. Set aside a few uninterrupted moments of quiet and reflection to complete this exercise.

Step One:

Reflecting on 2013, consider the following areas of your life: personal life/spiritual development; romance/intimacy; wellness/self-care; finances; career/business; physical environment; social life/fun;

list your wins, successes and breakthroughs;

list your "losses", disappointments and breakdowns. Now set these aside - they are part of your past.

Step Two:

Choose 5-7 lessons you have learned this year that you would like to take with you into 2014. When you decide which lessons to include, remember that these are lessons that you will use consciously in the new year.

Step Three:

Now imagine that it is December of 2014. Make a list of your wins, successes and breakthroughs. Be specific, and write them as though they have already happened. Make the list as long as you like.

Consider combining this exercise with a "vision board" - this can take the form of a story, a collage or a sketch - however you are comfortable expressing yourself. The vision board is for your eyes only - so feel free to create whatever feels right (hint: keep it simple, focused - too much clutter can obscure your vision!).

Which wins, successes or breakthrough resonate for you?

Which ones create a flutter? Excitement?

Which ones can you, in an intentional way, create in the coming year?


“We are the authors of our destinies. No one can see the vision any clearer, believe in and work any harder to make it a reality more than the visionary.” ~ Nike Campbell-Fatoki

Halona Patrick Shaw, LCSW, JD
Board Certified Life Coach
Eyes Turned Skyward, Inc.
 ph/text (917) 846-7784

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gratitude, Even On the Bench

Last Monday started out like any other boot camp day. I arose at 5 AM, got dressed, had a quick protein shake, and made my way to class. I got set up with my mat and weights, and started warming up with the class.

The third exercise in that morning's circuit involved a jumping front kick, reminiscent of my kickboxing days. I did the combo three times, when I felt a pop in my right calf.

I have felt that same pop before, last summer, when I tore my left calf muscle chasing my then two year old at the church picnic. I stopped what I was doing, and the thoughts started to flood my mind. Things like: "seriously??" and "this can't be happening again."

But I knew exactly what I had done, so I gathered my things, and limped out to my car. I sat down and started to cry. For a brief moment, I cussed the devil. Then I gathered myself and launched an out-loud expression of gratitude (anyone paying attention might have questioned my stability). I began to call out, through tears, the things for which I was grateful at that moment: I woke up this morning, even in the dark; I could feel the chill when I walked to and from the car; I could FEEL pain (read: I was alive); I was wearing a new pair of yoga pants (which I loved, and they looked good, as I was beginning to get more toned).

The list could, and did, go on. I have had moments of melancholy, but they are short lived. I know that there are many blessings, even in this latest injury, both seen and unseen. More are yet to be revealed.

I have a Grade 2 calf tear (another thing for which I am grateful - last year was Grade 3, which is more severe). I am benched for 4-6 weeks, per my orthopedic surgeon this morning. I begin physical therapy this week. As for boot camp, it will be mid-January before I can resume.

I'm thinking about a daily plank/push-up challenge in the meantime - something that can work my upper body and core, but give my leg a much-needed rest to heal.

Who's with me??


“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Halona Patrick Shaw, LCSW, JD
Board Certified Life Coach
Eyes Turned Skyward, Inc.
 ph/text (917) 846-7784

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Accountability, Part 2

Yesterday was the end of my third week of boot camp. I have kept my commitment to going to class on any weekday morning that Ted is home with the kids. The program is four mornings a week: the first week I went four times, the third week I went three times (Ted traveled once), and this week I went four times.

On this past Thursday morning, I did not want to get up. My alarm rings at 5 AM, it was dark, I could hear the wind outside and, frankly, I was tired. But before I let myself fall back to sleep, I thought about my commitment to you, and I got out of bed (I also thought about the before and after pictures I promised!). Once I was up, I was glad for it.

Over the last three weeks, this is what I have learned about myself:

I am so much stronger than I gave myself credit. I have lower and upper body strength that I pay no attention to, even though I am lifting kids (up to 40 lbs), bags of dog food (sometimes 60 lbs), water cooler jugs, moving furniture to retrieve a missing toy, all day long. I have not yet been the slimmest person in the room, but there have been mornings that I can see that the weights I lift with ease are a struggle for my slimmer counterparts who have been doing the boot camp for two months or more.

I have also not been the heaviest person in the room. For that, I am grateful!

Getting up at 5 AM became a habit relatively quickly. Yes, I have had to adjust my schedule so that the night before I am mindful of the upcoming wake up call, but that is fine, too. Most times one has to give something up to take on something new. I gave up mindlessly watching t.v. as the "unwinding" I thought I needed after a long day working and tending to the kids. Now I go to bed an or so hour earlier, and 5 AM is not so bad. Incidentally, I recently read an article about people who are successful in business, who are 5 AM risers. If you were to wake up three hours earlier each day, you will gain 45 days over the course of a year (what could you accomplish if you gained 45 extra days in a year?).

Finally, during a workout in the first week of the program, we were doing ab work on the floor, and I was struggling to finish the reps as G (my instructor) counted down the last 10 seconds (I have not given my abs any attention since two pregnancies and a back injury). She yelled in my direction "chin up and eyes to the ceiling!" I lifted my chin and turned my eyes to the sky, and everything changed. I was able to finish what I started.

Sound familiar?!

Three weeks down, three weeks to go!


“A little at a time until less becomes more and more becomes less on the other side.” ~ Johnnie Dent Jr.

Halona Patrick Shaw, LCSW, JD
Board Certified Life Coach
Eyes Turned Skyward, Inc.
 ph/text (917) 846-7784

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Modeling is a large part of coaching. As a coach, I am committed to modeling the behaviors that my clients express the desire to have. In wellness coaching in particular, coaches are expected to model good eating habits, engage in regular physical activity, and have a good self-care routine so that self-care clients can see that it can be done and even see examples of how they can go about doing it.

Accountability, on the other hand, is an experience for the client. Much of a successful coaching partnership resides in the fact that the coach provides accountability for her clients. For example, an individual is more likely to thrive with a new nutrition or activity plans if she has someone to whom she is accountable (There is extensive research to support this conclusion). I know from personal experience, the only times in my adult life that I have been consistent with any gym membership was when I went to the gym with someone, or knew that a friend or trainer was waiting to meet me there. I used to get to the gym at 6:15 AM, get in a good workout, shower and make it to work by 8 AM.

Those days are long gone. I have children, a husband, a dog and a cat, all of whom need my assistance and attention in the morning. I have to get the kids up and going in the morning. I have to make breakfasts and lunches. I am sleep-deprived – I need those extra two hours of sleep. I run a business, I am on the PTA, I serve as an officer on two different boards.

These are my excuses.

We all have them. When we don’t have accountability, the excuses prevent us from having the things we say we want. But we also do not make the changes we truly desire.

Two physicians have told me that I carry too much weight. I would be happy to shed ten pounds, although both docs have indicated that I would be healthier if I were, well -- more than ten pounds lighter. Their numbers sound overly ambitious to me, but they are the experts.

So, this is what I have done: before I could talk myself out of it (tuning out the gremlins), I responded to an email and I signed up for a six-week boot camp. It begins on Monday, November 4th. The group meets at 6 AM, four mornings a week. When I signed up, I committed to provide before and after pictures for the boot camp website (EEK!).

My clients are all looking to make some kind of change. Toward the end of most coaching sessions, I ask my client two questions: to what are you committed, in order to make this change? And, how would you like to be held accountable?

This is my commitment: I will attend 6 AM boot camp on as many weekdays Ted is in town to get the kids going in the morning. My goal is greater health and strength, though I will be happy to drop a dress size or two.

My accountability: YOU are going to hold me accountable. I am not asking you to do anything. But having made this public declaration, I am now accountable to you. I commit, also, to posting before and after pictures here at the end of the six weeks (I thought about posting a before pic now, but instead I’ll go for the big reveal).

What is it that you have been putting off? Exploring a new career path? Uncovering you true passion – something that is more aligned with your life purpose? Finding your way to a healthier YOU? Developing a self-care routine that better honors your body, mind and spirit?

What can you commit to today?

How would you like to be held accountable?

“If you talk about it, it's a dream, if you envision it, it's possible, but if you schedule it, it's real.”
~Anthony Robbins
Halona Patrick Shaw, LCSW, JD
Board Certified Life Coach
Eyes Turned Skyward, Inc.
 ph/text (917) 846-7784

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Art of Responsible Procrastination

It’s official. I’m a worn-out woman.

The kids spent the better part of two weeks with some kind of stomach flu. Isaiah got the worst of it. I won’t elaborate any further - except to say that there were some really urgent trips to the bathroom and a lot of cleanup.
When the kids are home from school, I get very little done. I’m sleep-deprived (what else is new?) and feeling behind in my responsibilities. The house is a mess.
With Isaiah finally back to school today, and I was so looking forward to the two hours I would have to myself this morning so I could get back to work.
So when the house was empty and I had the first moment of peace in some time, I knew I have settled down with my computer and to do list (I still wasn’t going to start with cleaning) and get some much-needed work done.
Instead, I gathered some craft paints and brushes, my iphone and earbuds, and I painted this on Isaiah’s bedroom door:

and this on Amali’s bedroom door:

Isaiah loves all things red. And he loves Elmo (who doesn’t?) so I knew it would be a hit.

Amali is currently obsessed with the movie Monsters Inc., and she has been asking me to paint her door look like Boo’s door. Much aside, if you haven’t seen Monster’s Inc., I HIGHLY recommend it. It is great for kids, but I wouldn’t hesitate to watch it without them.  It is a wonderful story about how joy is far more powerful than fear. SO worth it.

Anyway, it felt really good to sit on the floor, listen to my favorite music, get a little dirty and DO something – and I knew that my kids would be totally psyched when they saw it.
Isaiah chanted “Elmo! Elmo!” when he saw his.
When Amali saw her door, she hugged it and said, "I want to keep it forever! Even when I die - I'm going to unscrew it and take it with me!" Now THAT was worth it.
Thankfully, I’m feeling a little less worn out. I still have a to do list, but I am not bound by it – it is all within my control.  THIS project was important for me today.
By the way – it’s no brilliant creative work – but it gave me a few moments to myself, I enjoyed it, and it made them smile. I also know that doing something I enjoyed during those two hours made me a better mommy when the kids got home from school.

Practicing responsible procrastination can help to put a to do list into perspective. We are overloaded, overscheduled, and stretched to the limit.

Take some time to consider your commitments and decide what is urgent and what can wait.

What would happen if you dropped everything to go visit with a friend?

Or let go of some shoulds and oughts for some fun time with your little ones?

In fact, what can you strike off your to do list entirely?

What might be called procrastination* could actually be really good medicine for your soul.


The darn trouble with cleaning the house is it gets dirty the next day anyway. So skip a week if you have to. - Barbara Bush

*Procrastinate responsibly

Eyes Turned Skyward, Inc.
Personal and Executive Coaching

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spark of the Divine

“Before you were born, God planned this moment in your life. It is no accident that you are here right now. God longs for you to discover the life God created you to live – here on earth, and forever in eternity.”*
That is how I began a recent workshop for women on Purpose. I was fascinated to find that out of more than 50 participants, only three were willing and able to share what they believe their purpose to be.
Lately, many of my coaching conversations lead to the question of purpose. Life purpose, God’s purpose –however you choose to frame it, there are so many among us who are longing to find their meaning – their purpose - and to discover what they are on earth to do.
We are forever searching for deeper meaning. It is just the nature of us. For those who are really getting into examining their own lives and purpose, it is not a passive exercise.
The question often comes simply as, how do I know if I am living on purpose?
Good question.
Your purpose is your North Star – it is what calls you forth, and speaks to what will be your legacy when you leave the planet. It is what stirs you up when you think about it, and even more when you engage in it.
Consider these questions:
What is the hunger I am here to feed?
What pain can I ease?
What is the teaching I am called to do?
Where (or what) is the building I have the tools to build?
You have God-given gifts – finding your purpose means saying yes to being more engaged in your own life and using what you have when you are called to do what you can to uplift humanity.
Sometimes thinking about our purpose feels grandiose and immodest. But I say that when you live small, you are cheating yourself and the world of what you have to give.
You have a spark of the Divine in you. Play a bigger game - and don’t underestimate the impact that you can have on the world.
You are not here merely to make a living, you are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget that errand. –Woodrow Wilson

Eyes Turned Skyward Personal and Executive Coaching

*Excerpted from Acknowledgements, A Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren