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Let’s Talk about Coaching!

There is a lot of buzz around coaching these days.  And there is a lot of skepticism around a field that is more vague than it is defined and not as regulated as some might want (in terms of client protections).  I’m going to share a bit about what *my* vision of coaching is and if you jam with that vibe, let’s schedule a curiosity call!

I’m listening to Patrisse Cullors’ book, An Abolitionist’s Handbook – 12 steps to Changing Yourself and the World, and as she wrote about the use of imagination in step #4 I said out loud to myself (and my dog), “Yes!  That’s it right there!  That is everything.”

“Abolitionist praxis is rooted in our collective healing.  It is rooted in a deep and profound trust for all beings and our ability to love each other.  While we sit in this moment during this global pandemic, we get to reimagine an abolitionist world…The world we currently live in is based on an economy of punishment rather than an economy of care…When we center the abolitionist imagination we are actively opposing the current economy of punishment and dreaming up an economy of care that is grounded in love and compassion for a true imagining of public safety.”

Patrisse Cullors

Friends, my heart was racing as I listened to these words and so many steps of my life flashed in front of me as a resounding affirmation that I have been doing this work for as long as I can remember.

Back in the Day

Get comfy, because we’re going on a little trip through my life.

When I was in high school, I had a conversation with my history teacher once about choices.  I was wondering about why someone or other made the choice they did instead of making a difference.  “We all have choices,” I argued.  To which Mr. Aros replied, “But we don’t all have the same choices available.”  And that, right there, was a defining moment.  Those words burrowed into my bones and began taking root.  I was 13 and as I carried that seed around with me, and the conversation, and thinking about the young person we spoke about who was likely looking at time in the juvenile justice system school-to-prison-pipeline, a dream began to take form.

This was the first of my Binders – the 3-ring kind.  I have a habit of setting up a new binder, with fresh paper, and dividers, and new pens every time I have a Dream Scheme™ emerge from my imagination.  I thought about this kid and wondered, “what if there was a way for them to experience care instead of incarceration?  What if there was trauma-informed (though I didn’t know that term back then) counseling for them to heal what was behind the “bad behaviors?”  What if there were elders to mentor, to build relationships, to teach practical skills?  What if there was a healing-to-opportunity pipeline that set kids up with resources to have and keep jobs once they finished the program in a community that loved and supported them.”

Yes.  These were my 13 year old thoughts.  I remember clearly walking my dog with my neighbor who was one or two years younger than me.  I talked non-stop that walk excitedly spouting off my string of possibility questions, dreaming aloud, as this idea birthed itself in my mind and heart.

This is the abolitionist imagination Patrisse writes about.

This is the imagination that has driven me forward my whole life.  And that has pushed me through all the naysayers with no imagination.

I think about how this way of being in the world has defined everything I am about and everything I have done.  It has taken me decades to understand how my brain works and only in the past 2 years have I figured out I am ADHD and Autistic and my friends, all the pieces of my life and my mind are clicking together in harmony and it is thrilling!

I promise, all of these things are connected—I see the whole web in my mind as I am writing, all the points and the lines between them that have carried me from that 13 year old kid dreaming of collective care instead of incarceration to myself today, divesting from licensure to root myself deep into a practice of community care and abolitionist dreaming of what could be.

“Ok but Jen, I how does any of this connect to coaching?”

Here’s what I’ve learned about how my mind works:

  • I am a systems thinker.  I have an amazing ability to pan back and look at the big picture, all the intersections and connections, and understand how seemingly disconnected pieces work together for one outcome.
    • I use this skill in evaluating workplace systems of wellness, sustainability, and accessibility
    • I use this skill in synthesizing a person’s story to cull all their strengths, patterns, and paths to dream together a life that brings joy
  • I am big picture thinker and small detail planner.  Thanks to my amazing ADHD/Autistic brain I have the wild, untamed imagination to consider options that haven’t been done before and are way outside the box, AND, I have the analytical and organized mind who adores spreadsheets and has the capacity to break down big pictures into small actionable steps.
    • Coaching clients often come to me with Ultimate Goals – whether personal, professional, community, or otherwise.  Sometimes they need support in seeing that goal as not one huge mountain to conquer, but a series of small steps that are manageable at each stage of budget, self-confidence, and practicality a person is at.
    • Other coaching clients come to me challenged by a future that could be but remains too cloudy to discern in order to make the steps needed to get there.  I help them bring that picture into focus.
      • That might look like: Client: “I’m not happy in my current profession but I don’t know what else I would be good at.  I know I like doing XYZ and I’m really good at LMNO, but I don’t know any job that uses those things together.”  Me: “Ok!  Let’s make a map and brainstorm…maybe you don’t have 1 job that fits all of that, maybe you piece together several kinds of work that fulfill and nourish all of you?”
  • I am amazing at the Start with Where You Are Right Now, “minimum viable product” model.  I have started every single one of my businesses and community programs with zero capital, as a single person on one income, and with really bad credit.  (I know, that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, right)?  But hear me out: I have continually found ways to make something out of nothing and sustain it for years building the funding and support along the way.
    • Sometimes coaching clients get stuck thinking they can’t take the first step toward their goals because they don’t have X factor yet.  I’m here to help folks start right where they are, today, with the bare bones, and grow from there.
    • I’ve also seen how the whole, “if you build it they will come,” model works.  I listen to what people are saying they need and want.  I respond to that in programming and support.  I build it, talk about it, and people start wandering in.

On Money and Success

I’m not a coach who talks about how to help clients reach a 7-figure income in 12-18 months or how to start pulling in 5-figure months.  That’s not how I work.  At least, that is not a priority from which I do my work and honestly, not a guarantee I think any of us can actually make in this current state of global affairs.

You cannot evaluate my “success” by examining my bank records.  I’m not great at making money or keeping it.  One of my core values is redistribution of wealth to Black and Indigenous People of Color and supporting queer and trans folks.  As a result, I give a lot of art and sessions and groups and time and labor away for free.  So, my net worth is not calculated in dollar signs and I for sure don’t know how to help folks grow their bank accounts.

What I do know is how to build soul capital, how to know one’s self in order to know what brings joy, how to translate all of that into ways to survive in a capitalist society. I know how to help people value themselves and what they have to offer and to grow into the truth that they are worthy of being paid for their labor, energy, and creativity.

My definition of “success” is not what many people think about when they hear that word.  I define “success” in terms of process, rather than outcome.  This is a hard-won definition that has taken me years to learn and come to peace with and now, I see successes everywhere in my clients, my peers, my art studio, my self.

When we locate success in the process, rather than the outcomes, there are so many more opportunities for celebration, for affirmation of growth, for imaging what could be!  I help clients recalibrate their definitions of success in order to see more clearly how they are already showing up for themselves every single day.

Bringing It All Together

At the time of writing this, May 2022, I am 43.  A lot of who I am has come to light only in the past few years.  I’m a late-bloomer queer, non-cis person.  I’m a late discovered ADHD/Autistic.  I’m a late-comer to the art studio and online art market world.  I had a lot of other stuff going on for a few decades…and then a lot of healing from those decades to do before I could embrace the parts of me that needed to become in the last 7 years.  I am feeling whelmed right over with awe and wonder as I write this, as I think about the seeming knotted ball of chaos that has somehow been knit into a beautiful, connected, pattern.

I saw a t-shirt recently that read, “Too Autistic for retail; too ADHD for desk work” and I just thought, “whoa, relatable content.”  I am designing a life that fits me.  I am piecing together different kinds of work that I love doing and that nurture the different parts of who I am.

I am deep one-on-one conversations, midwife of dreams, mirror that shows true reflections of who you are and what you are capable of.

I am brainstorm sessions with the white board getting it all out there and then finding the pattern to follow.

I am use paper plates if washing dishes is too overwhelming a task for you right now.

I am dream scheme big, out of the box, wild imagination, defiantly resilient.

I am take naps in the middle of the day.  Make art on lunch break.  Don’t human before 11am when possible.  Make shit happen when it works for you.

I am create a spreadsheet for you and system of organizing your closet / pantry / garage that you can go home and implement.

I am be kind to yourself, practice it daily and it will become real and true feeling.

I am I’ll hold the hope for you until you’re ready to hold it for yourself.

I am smash systems of oppression to build a life where everyone has access to love, and thriving, and wellness, and care.

Are you ready to make (sh)it happen? You are worthy.

Let’s talk about it over a free 20min curiosity call.

Click here to schedule a call today!