It’s All Small Stuff

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Have you found yourself hijacked by a moment? Reflecting back to October 2012, Andrea shares one of the many opportunities she has had to practice patience with herself – another reminder for us all to practice self-care.

by Andrea Chilcote

This week I have had ample opportunities to practice patience with myself. If you are someone who, like me, expects much of yourself on a daily basis, you might relate to the way I felt in the midst of my predicament on Monday night.

Upon arriving in Jacksonville, Florida at 10 pm, I proceeded to the rental car counter. As I have done thousands of times before, I opened my wallet to produce my driver’s license. It was not there.

Unable to believe it was lost, I began to frantically search my various bags – purse, briefcase, the pockets of my suitcase – even though I would not have put it there. The kind agent suggested that I must have used it to get through security. I replied that I always use my passport for security, so as not to ever remove my license from my wallet, risking its loss.

Eventually I excused myself from the counter to search privately, to no avail. I sat, forcing myself to breathe and think. Upon doing so I recalled that I had put the license in the zippered pocket of my hiking pants before leaving on a remote back-country hike. Presumably it was still in Arizona, provided it had not been destroyed by the washer and dryer cycles it had endured.

I made my way back to the car rental counter where I canceled my car and asked for directions to the taxi stand. My hotel was 30 minutes away and my client’s office another 30, so I was facing some hefty taxi fares over the next two days.

Once in the cab, I immediately texted my husband Arthur and asked him to find my license. It was one thing to manage without it for two days, and quite another to face the lines at the DMV to get a new one. After some grousing (he claimed there were no hiking pants with zippered pockets to be found), he located it.

Five minutes into the ride, I realized I was shaking. That sensation “shook” me awake. I realized that, while inconvenient, this was a simple mistake. No one was harmed, and no consequences would come of it, except a large taxi bill. And while I considered the bill, I also considered the fact that my very appreciative and considerate client might even offer to drive me to and from the office – that is, if I told him the story. Hmmmm. It would take a lot for me to admit this personal failing.

In his classic book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and It’s All Small Stuff), Richard Carlson says that when we overreact and blow things out of proportion, we literally immobilize ourselves, rendering our problem-solving ability handicapped, and diminishing our results. That principle played out during my taxi ride.

By the time I reached my hotel, I had calmed myself to the point of perspective. This so-called problem was very, very small in the big scheme of life. I decided I would take a cab to the office in the morning and tell my client. (I practiced first with the hotel’s bellman who arranged for the morning cab, and he just smiled and seemed to not think less of me for having forgotten my driver’s license). As it turned out, my client lived near my hotel, was happy to shuttle me, and it gave us additional time for working conversations.

I don’t know if leaving your driver’s license behind would cause you to experience stress and self-judgment. I do believe that many of you – us – allow those kinds of thoughts and feelings to hijack otherwise peaceful and productive states of being. Your triggers and mine may be different, but unless you’re one of those people in the post office line, you know what I’m talking about. What I learned this week is that the experience of stress and impatience with my shortcomings is a choice, and choosing to transform it leads to better results. Try it if you dare.

You will never be completely free from life’s little annoyances,                                    but you can become free from feeling annoyed.                                               —Richard Carlson


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.

Relating to Ourselves…Who Are You?

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that an ongoing theme for this new year is self-care. This is a reblog of my Relating to Ourselves series – Part Three: Who Are You – knowing and loving the uniqueness that is you.


Norman Rockwell, MirrorThis post is the third of a three-part series entitled Relating to Ourselves. This segment deals with knowing and loving the uniqueness that is you.

By Andrea Chilcote

Want to know how to get what you need from the relationships you value in life? Know what you need. And, knowing what you need is a result of knowing who you are.

In my experience, an essential price of admission for healthy, satisfying relationships with others is a clear and grounded sense of self. I’m not talking about self-indulgence or selfishness – I’m referring to the settled sense that comes from knowing and loving the uniqueness that is you.

As a coach, I utilize instruments that help me quickly (and painlessly) assess clients’ core drivers, productive behaviors and the consequences of unmet needs. When revealing the results of these assessment tools, I’m sometimes met by a distinct response, a bewildered astonishment that…

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Just Chill

“Chill doggie,” she said calmly. “This is Cambria.” From that day forward, Cambria came to represent a time to take a deep breath and relax – to just chill. This reblog is yet another reminder for self-care – take a moment and just chill.


Cambriaby Andrea Chilcote

The following is a repeat of a post I made for The Spirited Woman Community in August, just before departing for vacation. While I am in Cave Creek this week, not Cambria, the spirit of “Just Chill” seems appropriate for the holiday weekend. Enjoy!

August 2012

As you read this post, I am officially on vacation. I am in Cambria, California an idyllic haven that offers my family and me a unique sort of respite, a place to “chill out” figuratively as well as literally, given that it’s also a cool escape from the blistering Arizona summer.

I strive for peace and quiet amidst the busyness of my life. Yet the world is not quiet. That is not a judgment, rather it is an observation. Whether one is a public servant, a public figure – or even a monk – this “disquiet” can seep into the psyche…

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My Connection Timed Out

woman-frazzledby Andrea Chilcote

Last spring, I blogged about how confounding technology difficulties were metaphors for life. In keeping with my theme this new year, I am sharing about how my connection timed out – another prompt for self-care. Are you taking time to “smell the roses” before your connection times out?

April 2013—This week we have seen the perfect storm in our three-person office. Two new computers with Windows 8 (I liken that to learning an ancient foreign language if you have not yet experienced it), an ill-fated email server conversion, an “upgrade” by our internet service provider — and much to do that is dependent on technology. I won’t mention the common printer jams and such (oh, I guess I just did).

“Your settings are not holding.”

“We are experiencing password failures.”

“Access denied. You do not have administrative privileges.”

“Your connection has timed out.”

I came to wonder if the confounding pre-programmed messages from our technology providers were nothing more than metaphors for life. And then I got the one-day flu.

That’s not a joke. This week I managed to squeeze into 24 hours, chills, fever, severe body aches and even a cough. It came and then it vanished. I know that’s odd, but it’s what happened. The message was confirmed — my connection had timed out.

I often advocate self-care. It’s usually a reminder to myself as much as it is a message for you. Lately, I have been tipping the scales in the wrong direction, and I got a warning sign. Fortunately my psyche as well as my immune system were aligned and I received just that — a warning.

The minor annoyances of life and work can conspire to produce real stress. Yet when we lose touch with the reality of what they really are (annoyances), and connect with them in a way that allows them to expand into something they’re not (real problems), life has a way of re-setting the controls.

Today I learned of a friend who lost her beloved mother. She wrote that when life became a whirlwind for her, her mom encouraged her to “stop and smell the roses.” That was good advice.

If your connection with things beyond your control has “timed-out,” take a breath and consider what’s worth your precious energy. Connect with someone you love, with nature, with art, music or any passion you hold. It will give you the stamina to deal with those computer messages, and it just might prevent the flu.


The post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.

Relating to Ourselves…The Need for Renewal

Another timely reblog of my Relating to Ourselves blog series. Part two focuses on our need for renewal. Have you given yourself the priority to rest?



by Andrea Chilcote

This post is the second of a three-part series entitled Relating to Ourselves. This segment deals with honoring our needs for rest and renewal.

Recently, I led a workshop with a team of people who are driven, dedicated — and stretched thin. I began our work with two questions: “How do you feel right now?” and “What do you need?”

Almost everyone replied with some version of the following: “I feel very tired, and I need rest and rejuvenation.” As they spoke, I secretly related. It had been a long and exhausting week for me as well, and I was looking forward to a weekend of play with friends who were visiting us, a rare three-day respite from the demands of life.

Even as I pushed forward that day, I realized that I was fatigued, and in need of a good night’s sleep. But there was…

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Never Mind That

by Andrea Chilcote

Never Mind ThatLet’s do a mental exercise. Imagine a stranger approaches you, looks you in the eye and states, boldly, “I don’t like you!”

What’s your immediate reaction? What do you say in response? Now, imagine the same thing only this time it’s someone you know — a neighbor say, or a co-worker. Does it feel different when it’s an acquaintance? Is your response different?

I have always considered myself impervious to others’ views of me. Being liked or accepted is just not one of my core needs.

So I was surprised by my reaction to an exercise I participated in this past weekend. The exercise was part of a workshop led by Ann Albers. Ann demonstrated by walking up to an unassuming participant. “I don’t like you!” she declared. The woman cowered a bit and softly replied “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Ann coached. “Just say ‘that’s okay,’ with confidence, and walk away.”

Easy, right? Well, I thought it would be easy for me.

We were instructed to practice with other attendees. The first person who said “I don’t like you” to me was met with my response: “I don’t like you either!”

Wow. An image of my beloved Malamute, Whisper, came to mind. When an aggressive dog approaches Whisper, she takes an even more aggressive stance and growls back ferociously. “Never mind that,” I’ve been telling her, for nearly nine years.

It’s rare that a person says “I don’t like you” out loud. The messages are usually more subtle, but we can sense and feel them. And we make assumptions about people’s feelings toward us based on behaviors we interpret as lack of acceptance. Whisper has reacted many times to a dog’s personality-driven exuberance as if it was aggression directed at her. And because she is a mirror for me, I’m pretty certain I have too.

The lesson of the workshop was, of course, to remain unaffected by the opinions of others. Never mind them. Before Saturday, I would have told you that I was uninfluenced. But I am affected, making up a story of why and how others could come to the conclusion that they don’t like me, and in doing so concluding that they too are unlikeable.

“That’s okay. Never mind that.” What peaceful and disarming responses these are, whether spoken or not. Consider these phrases in relation to self-acceptance. In this context, we’re really saying, “I’m okay” – okay with myself, in full acceptance of my value and worth. We’re saying “never mind” the opinions of others. There’s neither a need to take on their negativity nor “fight to prove I’m right” in the words of music legend Pete Townshend.

Wars are raged between countries and within communities and families because we don’t agree. People make decisions every day to please others and in doing so forego their own needs, purpose and values – often disappointing the very ones they were trying to please.

I do like you. But pretend for a moment that I don’t, and just never mind.

I don’t need to fight
To prove I’m right
I don’t need to be forgiven
Pete Townshend
“Baba O’Riley”


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.

Relating to OurSelves – Putting Self First

Here’s another timely reblog. How do you relate to yourself – do you put yourself first?


Putting Self Firstby Andrea Chilcote

This post is the first of a three-part series entitled “Relating to OurSelves.” This segment deals with honoring yourself first in order to build capacity for helping others.

Lately it seems I have less time and more demands on that precious time. Sound familiar? When I recently shared this lament with a trusted confidant, she asked me to do something that on the surface sounded simple. Her request? “State the following, then tell me how it feels to you: ‘I am the most important person in my life right now.’”

Well, it felt incongruent. Even though I believe that unless I care for myself first I cannot possibly care for important others in my life, I sure did not feel it in the midst of my all-too-busy day.

Many women tend to be healers – we’re the gender more often charged with care-giving. (This is not intended…

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You’re the Only Self You’ve Got

by Andrea Chilcote

You're the Only Self You've Got

“How are you?” My Pilates instructor, Dana, asked. “I’m angry with my body,” I replied.

For five years I’ve been dedicated to a somewhat unconventional practice for managing the issue of my back. I’ve been committed, using a combination of prescribed stretches, Pilates and other exercises that have quite literally changed my life. Before finding this process, I had poor posture, bad sitting, standing and walking habits, and always had at least some pain.

Lately I’ve been slipping. I’ve been busy, traveling a lot and not making the time I know I need to dedicate to this practice.

After stating that I was angry, I went on to complain about how little time I had and how frustrated I was that maintaining the healthy state I had achieved still took so much work. Why couldn’t I have just been born with an easy body that didn’t require so much maintenance?

I picked the wrong person to whine to, at least if I was looking for sympathy. Dana knows me well. She asked me to consider that perhaps not making time for the exercise that improves my quality of life might just be an indication that I wasn’t making the time to care for myself.

She was right, and I knew what I had to do. But I left there that day still angry with my body.

I went home with resolve to repair my current ache through diligently practicing my exercises. As I lay on the floor stretching my right hamstring, I suddenly thought, “This is silly. How could I be angry with my body?” It’s just a body, not a being with conscious intent. That would be like feeling anger at my car because it wouldn’t start.

I know I’m not my body. My body is a vehicle I manage, and it was me I was angry with; angry for not making the time to care for myself in a way that’s loving and forgiving of its physical flaws.

Still, I had judgment. Self-judgment that here I am, writing as I often do that a loving and kind relationship with ourselves is a prerequisite for the same with others, and not walking the talk.

That night, one of the huskies helped me see the lesson, and helped me take a gentler stance.

While making dinner, I accidentally stepped on Heather’s paw. She jumped, began to slightly bare her teeth, and then softened. I embraced her, and she cuddled into my arms. In the five months she’s been with us, she has been working to outgrow a fear response to pain from the abuse she suffered. I was struck by her progress as I recalled the first weeks with her. I saw it as just a residual shadow, but indicative of a long process of letting go of what appears like a reflex response. At once, I knew the same was true for me.

When life gets busy and demands for my time are heightened, I can forget to take care of myself. It’s a reflex response like Heather’s. And like hers, it’s dissipating over time. Like hers, it responds best to love and kindness.

I feel qualified to repeat the advice I’ve offered before. Care for yourself. You’re the only self you’ve got.


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!

The Year of Your Heart’s Desire

Did you know that the Latin root of resolution is the opposite of our firm determination in setting new year resolutions?


Happy New Year! The Year of Your Heart’s Desire is a timely reblog from 2011. Make 2014 the year of your heart’s desire!

by Andrea Chilcote

Have you made a New Year’s resolution? If so, stop right now and notice how it feels to you.

Did you sigh wistfully, thinking “the party’s over soon,” or sense a need to buck up and get discipline? Did the feeling energize you—or deflate you? It’s estimated that only 10% of New Year’s resolutions are achieved. And it’s no wonder, given that they are often uninspired.

The Latin root of the word resolution is resolutionem the process of reducing things into simpler forms, loosening or “unbinding.” In his Word Power blog, Gregory Rineberg points out that in the last 500 or so years, we have used the word resolution to mean just the opposite ‒ holding firm in determination, resolute in pursuing a course…

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