Skin Deep

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of defining what success means to each of us. It  reminded me of this piece, published in my Coaching Moments column a few years ago, when I was almost ready to sit the practical part of my coaching exam. Now that I’ve embarked on a new journey as a blogger and online writer, its message is still relevant today.

Skin Deep

We enjoy some precious coaching moments at our kitchen table which I’d really miss if my kids were more tactful!

I cooked one of our favourite meals the other day, a homely pasta dish made with a rich sauce of olive oil, mountain herbs, oven roasted peppers, baby tomatoes, garlic and onions. As we were sitting laughing and chatting at the table, out of the blue, my nine year old son said: “Mum, are you still using that stuff from the telly on your face? I think it’s working. Your spots have gone and you’re looking younger.”

I  was still smiling at this when I went shopping yesterday and slipped the eye cream from the same skincare range into my trolley. One of my goals for last year was to boost my confidence with a clear, glowing skin but I hadn’t shared it with anyone, not even my family.

My weight and complexion are triggers in the minefield of my self esteem. I have a medical condition which went  undiagnosed for years, resulting in confidence crushing symptoms like chronic fatigue, fluctuating weight gain and skin problems. Since I began treatment, waves of returning good health have made me feel unstoppable! A grubby, football playing nine year old boy telling you your skin’s looking younger is an unexpected but welcome way to measure the results of a goal you’re achieving slowly but surely!

And it’s a goal with great knock on effects. Over the past few months, I’ve cleared out my bathroom cabinets, bagged up and binned the Big Me clothes from my wardrobe and started tackling scary bits in every room, even  the dark side of the garage. My creativity and coaching confidence have blossomed and my communication is cleaner. To be honest, after months spent buffing myself up, gutting the house and paring back our life to the basics of simple abundance, I don’t know which came first, the clutter clearing or the coaching confidence.

With the help of my mentor coach, I’ve been peeling away my coaching sins, upgrading my defaults and letting my natural skills shine through. A couple of weeks ago, I did a call I was thrilled with, full of silences that resonated and questions that tapped into a deep, clear pool as I just relaxed and enjoyed being present with the person I was coaching. Moments like that I can score.

But today, as I applied the eye cream that’s so expensive it had better miraculously attract George Clooney into my life, I remembered how important it is to make sure my non-coaching goals are measurable. If we lose track of how we define and measure success in every aspect of our life, in the details of our day, then we run the risk of never feeling truly happy or satisfied. What will have to happen in your day for you go to bed tonight feeling like a happy, successful human being?


Richard Carlson, author of  the hugely popular ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ and countless other books including his latest, ‘Don’t Get Scrooged’, died suddenly last month at the age of forty five. As a tribute, I’d like to leave you with a quote from ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’; it comforts me to know that even though we lost him early, he left behind a family, friends and fans who loved and appreciated him. He touched lives and made a difference.

“I find that if I remind myself (frequently) that the purpose of life isn’t to get it all done but to enjoy each step along the way and live a life filled with love, it’s far easier for me to control my obsession with completing my list of things to do. Remember, when you die, there will still be unfinished business to take care of. And you know what? Someone else will do it for you!”      ~ Richard Carlson Ph.D


  1. Every once in a while I absolutely have to do the clutter clearing. I have 2 small babies, enjoy writing, gardening/ making herbal medicine, working with students, and reading. People always ask how I do it “all”. The answer is I don’t. I always let the house get to a certain point, then I can’t stand it anymore and will take a weekend to de-clutter. I have these little tricks I do so I can’t see the clutter (shoving things in drawers and closets/ inside bags) so things look pretty good if you are just doing a quick tour- but for God’s sake don’t try to open anything LOL!
    I always feel like a new person with a new sense of direction when de-clutter! I just wrote a post about how I am ‘letting the house go’ and why. But I do feel that the urge to do the big purge is coming. I just had a look at the Garage- sheesh! I told my husband it is time for another trip to the dump.
    That being said, I absolutely love the quote by Richard Carlson! When I die, I hope that I have left behind wonderful memories for others, I hope they will say I helped them in some way, I hope they will say I made them laugh, and I hope I won’t leave too much for them to do (or too many bags of hidden stuff) :).

    Angie´s last blog post..0711ddebe7fd2b92.jpg

  2. This is a GREAT line: “If we lose track of how we define and measure success in every aspect of our life, in the details of our day, then we run the risk of never feeling truly happy or satisfied.” I don’t think I have a good measuring stick for my own success and that’s one of the reasons that I struggle with feeling successful. We can all be successful at something — we just need to find out what that something is and how to measure it.

    Positively Present´s last blog me: to be happy you need to trust

  3. Hi Janice,

    Just a beautiful post. So did that cream attract George into your life? 😉

    Seriously, though, each day is a success when I live it to the best of my ability. I used to define my days by would happen. If a day did not have an exciting event, it was an ordinary day. However, with time, I came to see that each day that I use my talents and skills to the best of my ability is a good day regardless of outcome. It has made life so much more enjoyable. 🙂

    Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..Listening to My Intuition

  4. I’m decluttering as well. I completely cleaned bedroom closets and rearranged the furniture. My office and kitchen cabinets are next…

    I also have a couple of Richards books. I believe the last I read was the one his wife wrote about the love they had for each other. Remarkable.

    Just living and breathing happy and joyfully is success for me. I think today the world is changing the way we define success or is it the other way around?

    Tess The Bold Life´s last blog post..Dr. Christine Northrup Freebie/Magic Monday

  5. @Angie,
    There were days when my kids were small when all it took to make me feel happy and proud was if I managed to love them, keep them fed, clean, safe and happily learning something. Kids taught me the benefit of resetting my defaults. It now takes much, much less for me to feel happy and good about myself and my life. I went to bed happy last night because my inboxes were at zero, my boy’s excited about going to high school tomorrow, my teenage daughter and I didn’t have any silly spats, I only had one cup of coffee and twenty new readers have blessed my blog since the weekend! 😉 I think blogging gives us a chance to clean up our spiritual homes.

    @ Positively Present,
    I am so proud of you; in a world where people read and write blogs to travel the road to spiritual enlightenment, this quote made my heart sing:

    I don’t think I have a good measuring stick for my own success and that’s one of the reasons that I struggle with feeling successful. We can all be successful at something — we just need to find out what that something is and how to measure it.

    That’s why I try so hard to help people discover themselves and their life purpose. It really is the road to simple abundance. Please try the tips in yesterday’s post. Ask yourself what score out of ten you’d give yourself for every area of your life at the moment – ten being “Couldn’t be happier!!” Then ask yourself what would need to happen to make you feel better about that part of your life. That’s how we can work out the small steps we need to take to get there and find the people who can support us in those efforts. You’re very hard working and focused; I can tell by the amount of positive comments you leave all over the blogosphere, but what do you long for in your non-blogging life?

    Thank you! It was interesting for me to compare my often tiring blogging journey with the focus I had back then when I wrote this piece, when improving my coaching improved my life.

    I agree about going to bed happy knowing we’ve used our gifts the best we could. When I talk of defining and measuring success, I mean in the simplest of ways, like deciding when I wake that I’m going to do the small things that lead to cumulative happiness and not put them off till tomorrow. Even if life intervenes, setting the intention to be true to myself and give myself, my family and my community the love they deserve colours my focus and energy for the whole day. It doesn’t take much to make me happy these days but when I’m tired or overwrought, I’ve noticed that it takes less to topple me. That’s why I find some system of personal inner ‘measurement’ helpful. It helps give me a sense of perspective and proportion.

    I wrote that article a few years ago, but coincidentally, I spent the weekend clearing out, too. A good spring clean always makes me feel abundant!

    You raise a very good point about how the world views success these days. I feel we’re seeing a whole wave of people redefining what success means. I’ve been on my own spiritual journey since I was a weird, hippy, incense-burning teenager, but it’s so lovely having travelling companions now who don’t think I’m ‘woo woo’ when I talk about the things that matter to me. When I wrote my first book, there was 40 cms shelf space about personal development in my local book store. Now there’s an entire 2.5metre section.

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