Building Resilience

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.”

Life during a global pandemic has resulted in a multitude of challenges and changes. Even those that haven’t been directly impacted by illness, face adversities from social isolation to job loss. Resilience involves bouncing back from difficult experiences and can result in meaningful personal growth. Fortunately, like a muscle, we can grow our resilience with intention and time. The following are ways we can change our thoughts, behaviors and actions in order to become more resilient.

Create Connection

Remember that social distancing creates physical distance but does not mean social isolation. Create time for connecting with others safely. You can strengthen the relationships you have or participate in supportive online communities to develop new connections.

Promote Wellbeing

Support your physical health by attending to the pillars of nutrition, exercise and sleep. Cultivate your mental health with mindful practices including meditation, prayer, yoga or journaling. Pay special attention to the positives in your life and what you have to be grateful for. Don’t use negative outlets to numb your feelings such as consumption of drugs and alcohol or overindulging in the media.

Find Purpose and Take Action

Helping others by dropping off groceries to a neighbor in poor health or volunteering by sewing masks are a few ways we can gain perspective of the bigger picture and take the emphasis off ourselves. While accepting your emotions during difficult times, you can also notice opportunities for self-discovery. Find ways to take small steps and move forward.

Cultivate Healthy Thoughts

Accept that change is inevitable and focus on what is within your control. Don’t over-personalize a negative experience. An optimistic outlook helps you to look forward to and create better circumstances.

Seek Professional Support

Our social circles can be a wonderful source of support. However, there are times when a mental health professional with specialized knowledge and resources can help you work through your thoughts and emotions.

Strengthening your resilience takes time but it’s worth the effort. What’s one small step you can take to get moving on your new path?

Adapted from the American Psychological Association

For student resources, visit the Cornell University page on building resilience.

Photo by Garrett Anderson on Unsplash



How to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Photo by Fressh Connection on Unsplash

Several months ago, I began a nightly gratitude practice. I listened to a simple 5-minute meditation that tells you to recall something that happened that day that you were grateful for and recreate how the experience made you feel.

There is a ton of research demonstrating the benefits of a gratitude practice. In particular, it helps us to overcome our natural negativity bias by noticing more of the positive. This in turn improves our outlook and helps us to be more optimistic. Studies have shown benefits for physical and mental health as well as for our social and professional lives.

In order to get the most benefit, however, it’s recommended to journal about three new things each day that you are grateful for. Keep in mind that it take at least 21 days to develop a new habit.

Since this was going to require a little more effort, I decided to recruit some accountability. I knew Erica, who is always up for trying something new, would be the perfect partner for this project. She is one of my oldest and closest friends but because we live in different cities, we don’t always connect as often as we’d like.

Fortunately, I was visiting Erica in New York City and we were able to share our first day of the gratitude project in person. It was also my birthday and I had plenty to be grateful for. I had just shared a wonderful weekend with family and friends in my favorite city.

For our gratitude project, we completed these steps each day for four weeks:

  • Texted each other about an experience that day we were grateful for.
  • Wrote in a journal (on paper or in our phones) about at least three experiences, including the one we had shared.

The accountability helped me pay extra close attention and seek out the positive. I was excited to share with Erica about my day as well as hear about her experiences. Some commonalities that we shared were the connections we made with people and opportunities to enjoy nature. Re-reading my gratitude journal was a nice boost and I can see the benefit of having a positive lift to look back on after a difficult day.

Something that may have been unique to our project was that Erica was on vacation for one week. When I asked if sharing daily with me in the US took away from her experience in Mexico she replied, “If anything, the gratitude challenge makes you more present no matter where you are! And I had time to think about how lucky I was to be there.”

So there you have it, a resounding endorsement for practicing gratitude. Speaking of which, thank you, Erica! Are you ready to get started? Do you want to recruit someone for accountability? Let them know. You can also get in touch for me for resources and support!

Bring your passion to the table!

The following are excerpts from Tamara’s interview with ProudMary.

Tamara is  personal coach offering individual and group coaching and support services.  She brings a unique background of health and wellness into her new profession. Her busy schedule balancing family and work requires that she finds the right motivators and tools to make it through her day. I was lucky enough to spend some time getting to know Tamara — mom, busy professional and entrepreneur, and to learn from her firsthand how she got to where she is today and how she stays there. 

What four words would you use to describe yourself?

I prefer to see myself as aligning with certain values. This helps me to schedule my time so that I am really doing what’s important. I can see how day-to-day, week-to-week, I am fulfilling my values and what’s important to me. These values are growth, balance, service and community.

With your busy life, what do you do to take care of yourself? How do you balance intense work, stress and the rest of your life? 

I exercise and meditate and make time for sleep, every day. My work schedule varies from day to day, but I make sure that I get 7.5 – 8 hours of sleep. If things get too busy, the exercise would be shortened but I will never sacrifice the sleep. Unless I have to catch an early flight. Sleep is really key. That’s a foundation for me.  Getting the sleep I need is going to give me the energy to start my next day.

The meditation helps me to balance and get grounded. I can be a very high energy person, so my meditation usually happens at the end of the day, when I’m preparing for sleep. It’s also really important for me to make time to connect with family, my daughter and my partner, here at home, and my mom and siblings in town as well. It’s important to have time for everything and some people think it’s very odd, but I literally schedule everything. So I don’t have a to-do list. If it’s on my schedule, I make sure it happens.

I have 30 to 60 minute blocks throughout my day. They might be things like client calls, interviews, or networking meetings, but I also have things like yoga a least once a week on my calendar, or going to the gym or to swim. Family activities are also on the schedule. It’s also a good way to communicate with my partner. I schedule more than the average person. It keeps my life running!

Can you tell me about your background and experience in naturopathic medicine? Let’s start from the beginning, what is naturopathic medicine?  

Naturopathic training includes all conventional medicine, with an emphasis on treating the root cause of the ailment. We treat the whole person. We have guiding principles that we call therapeutic order to begin treatment with the least harmful measures such as changes in diet, lifestyle, and then we progressively use more aggressive strategies, such as pharmaceuticals and minor surgery, as necessary.

I graduated from naturopathic medical school in 2007 while living in Phoenix, Arizona. I completed a residency in family medicine at a primary care clinic, where we provided conventional treatments like medication management. We had a full scope of practice, including prescribing medications and doing minor surgery. I was doing what people would do in a regular primary care setting, like a doctor or physician assistant.

One of the most important things I learned was that we really have to understand all of the conventional treatments and diagnostics in order to treat our patients, because people live in a conventional world with conventional therapies. The environment that I was in served a population who knew what they wanted; they were paying cash, they wanted their medicines, they wanted their injections and they wanted to be able to get back to work the next day. This really informed my training and guided me toward a very holistic view of healthcare and wellness.

Shortly after completing my degree, I returned to Minneapolis and joined a corporate wellness company. I began coaching clients with chronic medical conditions through the wellness programs provided by their employers. This is all very conventional in terms of “What medications are you taking? How are you managing your asthma or diabetes?” but at the same time, I learned an entirely new skillset that I hadn’t learned in medical school — and it was coaching.

Previously with my new patients in Minneapolis, they would leave my office with a laundry list of things that they needed to do, anything from changing to an anti-inflammatory diet, drinking a certain amount of water, getting a certain amount of exercise, to following a supplement regimen. What I didn’t realize at the time was while it was very easy for me to do these things, for a new patient, struggling with a medical condition, it wasn’t. He or she didn’t necessarily had the same amount of time, energy, or motivation that I had.

Coaching the employees helped me better understand different personality types and different behavior change tendencies. By learning that, I was better able to meet people at where they were, and to provide more “small step” approaches, which is very much a coaching approach concept.

I really enjoy coaching people within the corporate wellness context, but what was missing for me was the opportunity to do things how I wanted to do them. Working for a corporation, there are certain products and services that we can’t endorse. I use lots of things that help me, such as technology like Fitbit or apps to track diet. These are valuable tools for people to better manage their health and habits. When I work with people privately, or with people who contract with me directly, they have the opportunity to get my full scope of experience.

My focus has moved on from medical conditions. My demographic is people like myself who are entrepreneurs, who may still be working, and who probably are balancing competing priorities with work, and family, and self care. I work mostly with people around my age, in their 40s, and what is different in my practice now is that I am able to bring more of myself. I have a lot of experience trying different businesses and learning more about what helps people become successful, whether it be managing their time, managing their energy, or developing certain habits.

My coaching approach focuses on Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies. She’s the author of “Better than Before,” and she has podcasts with her sister called “Happier.” There are so many different personality frameworks, like Myers Briggs. I like the Four Tendencies because it specifically addresses how we respond to inner and outer expectations.

To read the full interview, visit: ProudMaryOwnIt

The weather does not determine my day

I determine my day and you can too. I woke up this morning to a major winter storm. It’s “spring-ter” again in Minnesota.
But I am not stopping for this weather. If I let the weather determine my day I couldn’t live here. My (not so secret) weapon is the mindset that I’m armed with every single day. One of the first thoughts I had today was that I’m fortunate to have a car and to be able to go to the gym. The management at my gym definitely has a sense of humor since they were playing Christmas music. An attitude of gratitude keeps me going.

My day is not determined by the weather or the winds. Of course in winter there are biological changes that can occur, shifts in circadian rhythms etc. For the most part, we have a lot of power over our thoughts and we can CHOOSE to have a positive outlook. As soon as I saw the snow outside my window I knew the day could include some obstacles. But instead of getting down, I got ready.

I haven’t always lived in “Minnesnowta.” Some of my favorite cities still have their drawbacks I love the sun and sand in Los Angeles. But the traffic? Not cool. New York is the greatest city in the world… if you can afford an apartment larger than a postage stamp. If not, fuhgettaboutit.

No matter where you are, no matter what the weather, I hope you have a “sunny” day. I know I will. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about coaching to change your mindset.

Spring into Action!

Spring is a time of growth and renewal. Many of us feel more invigorated as the days get longer. This is the perfect time to harness your energy. Is there a project that you want to tackle for spring cleaning or decluttering? Is there a new trail or outdoor activity you want to explore? Where do you want to see growth this season, personally, professionally, spiritually?

Create Your 19 for 2019!

Create Your 19 for 2019!

This activity is fun, and easier than the Annual Review for goal planning. I made a list of all the things I could do to bring more joy and greater satisfaction to my life. I then ordered the list so that one-time items were at then top. Since some of these items are easier to complete, I will have the satisfaction of marking them done sooner. Here’s my 19 for 2019:


  • Family meditation retreat in MN or CA
  • New professional bag
  • Complete an indoor triathlon
  • Organize basement
  • Donate Maya’s old toys
  • Take a class with Maya
  • Redecorate home office
  • KonMari my clothes or get rid of one clothing item for every new item
  • Take a girls trip
  • Vacation in a new city


  • Automate finances and reconcile weekly/monthly with Mint
  • Simplify filing and file weekly
  • Get another yoga mat and do yoga weekly
  • Bike to office April-October weekly when temps above 40F
  • Meet with at least 1 friend each month
  • Go to a new restaurant or venue every month
  • Quarterly museum or live theater visit
  • Read 1 book for pleasure 1 for development each quarter
  • Give 4 coaching talks

For some of these I did not set the bar very high because I really want this entire list to be achievable. My theme for the year is “Embrace” so there is an emphasis on relationships, enjoyable activities and simplifying.

I want to give credit to Gretchen Rubin for the idea of the “19 for 2019.” You can hear more about it on her Happier Podcast – Episode #203.

I’m wishing you a wonderful and satisfying 2019. Get in touch with me if you’d like some strategizing and accountability along the way!

Giving Thanks

This is a season that many of us celebrate Thanksgiving and ponder what we are thankful for. Since this is my birth month I feel grateful for another year on the planet. I don’t say this lightly, especially since one of my close relatives was diagnosed with breast cancer just a few weeks ago.

I realize I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a wonderful family and community of friends. My health is good. I have everything I need (not everything I want, but this is a season for GRATITUDE over greed).

Rather than having a big birthday party this year, I had several small gatherings. Some highlights of the month that I feel grateful for:

Family activities including Chinese dim sum brunch and being treated to homemade keto-friendly birthday cupcakes

Dancing with my girlfriends

Meeting to discuss identity and a Mixed Race Bill of Rights

Laughs at the comedy club with my sweetheart

Participating in the Wise Women leadership program

Connecting with a coaching client face-to-face for the first time after months of phone meetings together

Taking advantage of matching grants for my charitable contributions on Giving Tuesday (a solo activity that helps me feel more connected)

Visioning about what I want and creating my theme for 2019: Embrace!

Please take a moment to consider what you are grateful for. Are there ways you can cultivate an attitude of gratitude?

The point in life is to know what’s enough—
Why envy those otherworld immortals?
With the happiness held in one inch-square heart
You can fill the whole space between heaven and earth.

Seasons change and so can you!

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

The changing color of autumn leaves is a perfect example of impermanence. The reality is that most things change over time: our jobs, our lives and our bodies! Change is good but positive change takes intention and action.

What is one specific change you’d like to see in your life?

What is one action step you can commit to in order to get you there?

The Accountability Factor

Photo by Justyn Warner on Unsplash


Humans are creatures of habit and positive change is hard. One helpful strategy is accountability.

I cannot count the times clients have told me, “I know what to do, I just need to do it.” Knowledge does not create change without a plan of action. But for many people even having a plan is not enough.

Some people get the boost they need via apps and online challenges but many do best when they know someone is checking in on their progress and wants to see them succeed. If you are more likely to meet your exercise goals when you have a buddy to go to the gym with or lose weight when you go to a weekly weigh in, then you have experienced the benefits of accountability.

I’ve found this to be the case for myself this summer while seeing a physical therapist. As much as I want to heal my knee, it’s hard to do 30 minutes of PT exercises every day. When I don’t feel like doing my exercises or am not sure when I can fit them into my schedule, I imagine myself meeting with my PT again. I want to be able to tell him how consistent I was.

This is why accountability works and one of the many benefits of coaching. I will not be exercising at the gym with you or attend your weigh-ins but I can be that angel on your shoulder reminding you to make better choices. This way, when we meet again, you can feel proud that you’ve stuck with your goals and even prouder of the progress you are making.

I’m looking forward to partnering with you!