Sunday, December 14, 2008

Best Stepmom Gift Ever

This is a story I wrote a few days ago for another post and thought it would be appropriate here. It is written with the permission and approval of my stepdaughter.

My stepdaughter Julie and I often were at odds with each other when she was in her teens. I felt we were competing for a place in the house and in my husband's life. It was really frustrating because in my head, I knew that there could never be competition between my husband's daughter and me because we both belong and had our place within this family. But still it was hard. It was even harder when she left for college and told us that she was so glad to leave this place and wasn't planning on coming back any time real soon. It broke my husband's heart but I felt I had failed as a stepmother. I kept wondering what I could have done better, said differently or if it was a good idea for me to have stayed around.

A year and a half later, Julie came over and said she wanted to talk to me. I thought that I was going to get another "You're not my mother", "I'm not ever coming back again" something. Instead, this young lady that had left our house very bitter and angry, came back to thank me for having been there for her and not giving up. She said she didn't know how anyone could do the job I did and get no thanks for it. Needless to say, I was balling my eyes out (a thing my kids enjoy doing to me). Never in my wilddess dreams had I thought that I would hear Julie thank me for being her stepmom. From that day on, my life and perspective changed about posibilities. I saw first hand that not giving up and visualizing the posibilities does create what you want. Thank you Julie for this beautiful life lesson.

Stepmom Claudette

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Questions to ask yourself as you get ready for the Holidays

So this is your first Christmas together as a stepfamily and you're wondering what are you supposed to do about the holidays when you see your partner's children occasionally. It can be tough but not necessarily.

As women, we tend to be natural caregivers, wanting everything to be picture perfect: the perfect decorations, the perfect gifts, the perfect hostess. But one thing that I ask my clients is :
  1. Is this a realistic expectation?
  2. Does it reflect your core values?
  3. What purpose does it serve?

With these three questions, start to look at these answers as an observer, as if a friend was asking you what to do. Start to create a picture of what you can do to make this holiday season focused on what is really important. Here are a few tips:

  1. Focus on just enjoying the company of others and not on what this relationship might become.
  2. Use this time to get to know one another. One thing we do is play family games. There is a lot less tension is a room when games are played. No need to think of things to say or do.
  3. Create a little something special for the kids and other guests, nothing complicated, like an ornament to commemorate this occasion for which you might start a new tradition, or do a stocking and put useful and fun items in there.
  4. Find time to reenergize yourself throughout the visit. If you are use to being just the two of you, and then all of a sudden the house seems to expand with lots of kids, it's important to find a space for you to regroup yourself, take a breather and then come back.

This is a time that many find hard and stressful. Being aware that it is normal and that you can do something about it will give you a sense of control and possibilities for changes.

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy Holiday Season


Upcoming Holiday InfoSteps Newsletter

Happy Holidays to Everyone.

I just wanted to give you a sneak peak at my upcoming Info Steps Newsletter that will be coming out in the next few days. This Christmas Holiday, we are celebrating a major milestone in our stepfamily relationship. Come read what it is and how we got there.

I'll give you a few clues:
  1. It involves collaboratively working with my stepdaughters' mom
  2. Putting aside resentful feelings and past issues
  3. Creating the kind of family that we always envisioned
  4. Being positive role models for your kids.

I've also included a few suggestions of games you can play together that were really fun for us.

If you have not signed up yet to receive my newsletters, please go to and under my photo, look for Info Steps or click here for a direct link

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy Holiday Season

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Being Thankful this Thanksgiving

I am thankful that I can get up every morning in a warm and cozy house that I can afford.

I am thankful that I wake up every morning next to my wonderful husband that I adore.

I am thankful that I can see and smell the world around me although it doesn’t always seem perfect.

I am thankful that I have enough food to feed myself and my family and am able to give to those that have less than me.

I am thankful that I have a family that loves me and cares about me to include me in their lives on a daily basis.

I am thankful for the experience of being a wife to my husband, to learn the true meaning of loving in sickness and in health, to enjoy our lives in a way that we are good role models for our children and grandchildren and the possibility of growing old together.

I am thankful for the experience of being a mother to my son, to see him grown into the young man that I am proud of and of my ability to give him his space to learn through his own mistakes and still love him.

I am thankful for the experience of being a stepmother to my two stepdaughters, to have shared some great experiences together and be able to accept those that we would rather forget, to be part of their lives as a “Bonus” mom rather than being on the side lines, to be included in their new lives as soon to be wives and mothers.

I am thankful for the experience of being a grandmother to my five year old granddaughter, who brings us joy every day with her beautiful eyes and smile, her quick remarks and her never ending love for us.

I am thankful that I have an abundance of energy to enjoy the work that I do while still being a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend.

I am thankful for everyday that I am on this planet, for the opportunity to be able to make a difference in someone’s lives, but most of all to let someone make a difference in my life.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family

Thanksgiving is the beginning of the Holiday Season for most of us. It's a time when we rush out to buy those gifts that our little ones keep adding to their wish list, to make the family's favorite dish, and to decorate so that everything looks just so.

But you know what people remember the most about the holidays is the fun times they had together, the comraderie shared and the simple experience of being together. So if you feel that you are stressing yourself out to create the perfect Holiday experience, remember that sometimes the most simple things are what are the most appreciated.

From my family to yours, we would like to wish you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

Claudette and Bernard Chenevert

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Clarity of Distance

Have you ever done a number or word puzzle, working at getting the "details" in, and finding yourself stuck? Your spending a lot of time looking for the answers but you just can't seem to find them.

What happens though when you walk away from the puzzle and come back later to continue? Often times, you find the key number or word that will make the whole problem just fall into place. That's clarity of distance.

We tend to focus too much on the details of the individual problem to try to make the whole thing work. But taking a break from trying to solve a problem or issue can generate a new perspective that you didn't see before. That is the advantage of clarity of distance.

Clarity of distance is to put some distance between you and the situation/ issue so that you can have a better view of what is really going on. You know that saying that you cannot see the forest for all the trees? Same is true when trying to solve a problem.

So whenever a problem seems unsolvable, remember a time when you simply took a break, got up and did something different, created some distance between you and the problem, then came back to find that the solution was staring you in the face all this time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The magic of perspective

I love doing teleseminars. I love it even more when it helps someone feel as if they can do something positive to make a difference in their lives. It doesn't take much to chance how your life goes. It's all a matter of perspective.

Let's say that you see yourself in a very negative way. You will walk around and attract very negative things in your life. Now what if you decided to put those negative thoughts aside and focused on what was positive. All of a sudden, you start to walk straighter, you feel more energetic, you even have a smile on your face. And to top it off, people are giving you compliments about how you look.

That is what changing your perspective can do for you. I see it especially with stepmoms. If you stop seeing yourself as someone who needs to do a job that you are not sure you want to do, because of a lot of negative connotations associated with, you will feel really down about doing that job. Stepmom roles are not often seen as positive. It is often see as being mean and to some extreme, abusive. Media does a very poor job of promoting positive images for stepfamilies.

But what if you decided to see yourself as a mentor or a bonus mom? Doesn't that change your perspective on how to deal with your stepchildren? Doesn't it inspire you to approach your stepchildren in a totally different way?

Try it and see what happens. You may just be suprise at how just changing one thing can make a world of difference. It has for one mom tonight. I am so glad for teleseminars. Good luck.

Teleseminar on "How to be a Successful Stepmother" starts soon

If you wanted to join my FREE teleseminar tonight but forgot to sign in, there is still time to do this. Just send me an email with your request and I'll send you the information. The call is packed full of great tools and motivational steps to get you started on your journey to creating a successful stepfamily.

Why not join me tonight at 9:00 pm EST and listen to what I have to say. It's free (long distance charges may apply) and requires only one hour of your time. I'd love to have you on the call.

Warmest Regards

Claudette Chenevert
Stepfamily Relationship Coach

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How To Be a Successful Stepmom Teleseminar

Being a stepparent is a really hard job and finding tools to help you make family life better is not easy.
On October 20th at 9:00 pm EST, I am offering a FREE teleseminar on how to be a successful Stepmom. (long distance charge may apply). Here are some of the comments from the participants:
"Thanks so much for the info. I didn't realize that others felt the same way"
"Your information was right on! Helped me to appreciate what I have now"
"Excellent information. Can't wait to hear more"

As a Life Coach specializing in helping someone just like you, I give you useful suggestions and tools that you can really put into practice in your everyday life.
I've been in your shoes as a stepmom and a mom. I know just how hard it can be. Why not come and listening in on what I have to offer and find out for yourself.

To register for the call, you'll need to email me at and I will send you the details of the call.

What are you waiting for. You have nothing to lose.

Looking forward to hearing you on the call

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Suicide Prevention Event this coming weekend (Sept 26-28)

Suicide is a very really and very hard topic to deal with and even to talk about. We all fear that if we approach the subject, we may attract bad things. Law of Attraction tells us to be cautious about our thoughts. But not talking about suicide won't make it go away.

Here are a few facts taken from

*The third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds is suicide.

*Every day, more than 80 Americans commit suicide- and 1500 more attempt it.

*America lost more teens to suicide last year than the total number of soldiers lost in the Iraq war

But we can help prevent suicide right now by doing a few simple LITTLE things!

*Greet-say hello, make eye contact, pass a smile on to the people you encounter.

*Include- Include yourself in the world around you, and invite others to be a part of what you are doing. Reach out, especially if you see someone starting to withdraw.

*Validate- This can be as simple as a ‘thank you’ or a genuine complement. Let others know you appreciate them.

*Empathize- Be a listening ear. We can’t always relate to the problems or stories of another, but often all you need to do is be fully present as you hear them to truly help the person sharing

GIVE so that others will live!

The more aware we become, the more we will focus on solutions. Let's each of us do our part in making a difference.


Life Coach

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Come and visit this new blog

Hi there

I wanted to share with you this blog that I received from ReMarriage Magazine. It's really great quick to read. If you have not yet gotten your subscription to this great magazine, I recommend that you go to and check it out.

Also, I hope that you did something special for National Stepfamily Day. For us, we just took time to appreciate where we came from and where we are at. Our children are all grown up now and starting families of their own. I feel really blessed that our kids are happy and content.

I guess we have to congratulate ourselves in this. It's easy to take the credit when everything goes well but we also can see where we could have done better. Bottom line here is that we recognize our children for wanting to make the choices they did and we support them. As a stepmom, I saw my role as a mentor rather than their mother. I knew they had one, whether I approved of what she did or not. Giving everyone the freedom to choose their own road was the best thing we did.

So to acknowledge my husband and I on our stepfamily's success, we took the time to thank each other and appreciate where we are in life.

On this, have a great day and enjoy your families.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Stepfamily Day is on September 16th

Happy Stepfamily Day!

To celebrate, get your copy of the eBook "99 Things To Do With Your Stepkids" at a very special price. Brought to you by a stepmom and her stepdaughters, this book gathers together a few positive, helpful ideas for all kinds of stepfamilies. Check it out, and sign up for the nice monthly e-newsletter. Click Here!

A special note.

I've read it and truly enjoyed the suggestions. These are easy to do and don't require a lot of planing ahead. Share this eBook with dads that may not know what to do in between visits and with stepmoms that just have a hard time connecting with their stepchildren.

Use some of the suggestions that the eBook suggest to celebrate your own special day on the 16th of September and let us know what you did. We would love to hear what came out of it and how the family celebrated.



Thursday, September 4, 2008

What's New for September

Well I am back from a very busy and fun summer and am glad to be at work. September is the time for getting back to school and work and signing up for lots of different things. Coaching Steps is no different. Here are some of the things that are going on.

If you live in the Fairfax/Washington DC area (or know of someone in the area that might be interested), then this program is for you. Two great coaches have paired up to give you “Couples Group Coaching”, a great program to help you with creating the best relationship you want.

-What you will get is a sense of unity and shared vision.
-A feeling of peace and togetherness.
-A true partnership in your relationship.

To find out more about Claudette and Leanne's program, go to .
The program starts September 7th.

On September 22nd at 8:00 pm EST, I will be conducting my first teleseminar on the series on “How to be a successful Stepmother”. I will be offering suggestions and tools to stepmoms that are feeling overwhelmed on issues of stepfamily life. I will address ways to take care of themselves first so that stepmoms will be in a better frame of mind to help their family. I will also talk about what is normal in a steprelationship and what are realistic expectations. I will also address myths about stepmotherhood.

If you wish to participate on this call, send an email to with “September Teleseminar” in the subject line and I will send you the details on how to join the teleconference. This is a free class (except if there are any long distance charges for you). There will also be time to ask questions about issues that you are dealing with.

If you cannot participate on this call, the calls will be recorded and posted on my webpage at a later date. If you would like to hear a specific topic on this subject, send me an email and I will let you know when I will have it.

I would love to hear more about what subjects and topics you would like to learn more about.

Looking forward to talking with you soon.

Friday, June 27, 2008

What I wish for every little girl.

While doing research on challenges stepmom and biomoms face, I came across Christina's beautiful short story that I would like to share. This woman has lived the many facets of what motherhood is like. She also has a book for sale that talks about children in stepfamilies and ways to nagivate through the issues.

What I wish for every little girl.

To have a Dad who teaches her abundance, boundaries and self respect.

A Dad who is strong and balanced in himself.

A dad who has a life and lives it fully.

A Dad who is romantic with his wife not only because he loves his wife, but he is smart enough and wise enough to understand that little girls are "watching" every move he makes with the adult woman he is with because one day they will be adult women who want their own lives and if Dad mistreats, ignores, is out of balance with the adult woman-the chances that his daughter will grow up and meet a man who mistreats her, ignores her and is out of balance will be great.

To have a Dad who teaches his daughter to be a "Team Player" inside the family because he knows that his daughters life will blossom and grow in healthy ways if she learns early on how to particapate inside of a family and if she learns that other people are equally as important as she is.

To have a Dad who doesn't lead his parenting with guilt over a divorce or two houses, instead teaches his daughter the value of diversity and appreciation for the reality of life so she grows up with her own internal emotional strength to handle life on lifes terms.

To have a Dad who understands that sometimes when a little girl cries, to let her cry, and if you don't, she'll never be able to be in the world.

To have a Dad who does not "Save" her but teaches her how to handle things on her own and tells her how proud he is when she is able to make good choices for herself.

To have a Dad who will not violate her trust and mix boundaries and do things with her, that he should be doing with his wife.

To have a Dad who understands that every time he is with his daughter she is watching, she watches him when he looks at other women's bodies and how he looks at other women's bodies and she will formulate and compare what "men" think is attractive to what Dad does and if a Dad is not mindful of his behavior, she may think she's not OK based on Dad's behavior-so Dad's- watch who you are when you walk out the door .

This is what all little girls deserve.

Christina M Whinnery, Certified Massage Therapist

Author of: Navigational Skills: Inside the REAL Lives of Stepfamilies

If you have a story that you would like to contribute to this blog or are interested in participating in my research, email me at

For more information about Coaching Steps LLC and how I can help you create unity and peace in your home, visit

All information that I receive from you is kept confidential and under no circumstances do I sell, trade or give away your email address or personal information.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's day

This article written by Dr. Jeannette Lofas gives very useful steps to help dads and steps dad's being the role model children need today. If you have any questions regarding stepfamily issues, please contact me at

Father's Day
by Dr. Jeannette Lofas Ph. D., Westbrook University

Each year for Father's Day we offer some tips and solutions to the common dilemma's of divorced fathers and stepfathers. Please read on for more information on how to make this year's father's day a memorable one.

Dads, let this Father's Day be a reminder to you that even though you may not see the kids as often, that you are still their teacher, their guide and their one and only father. Honor your role as you continue to lead your children to be strong in character, in self-confidence and in self worth.


Continue to Father. You must continue to teach and guide---even if your time with your child is too short.

Exact Good Manners. The father teaches rules of the game, sportsmanship, respect for others, self-discipline and persistence. "We look each other in the eye when we talk, we allow each other to finish talking before we start to talk, we do not interrupt," and more.

Respect. Children must treat their father with respect in order to respect themselves. If you are partnered, know that it is often emotionally difficult for your children to look at and treat your partner, and even you, with respect, teach them anyway.

Structure and Establish Positive Rules. If you are alone, decide the rules of your house. If you have a new partner, decide together on the rules of "our" house. Check out The Family Rules Book for ideas on how to accomplish this.

Honor your Partner's Point of View. Know your partner's perspective is to be honored. She may have a different point of view on how your children should act, but remember, women have been teaching social skills since the time of the caveman.

Don't Overindulge. No time to discipline? Beware of becoming a fly-me, buy-me dad; A "Disneyland Dad." You are in good company. Most dads whose children visit are tempted just to be a pal dad. Know that kids need fathering.

Be Informed. If there are difficulties, give yourself the gift of information.

Do not Badmouth your Ex. If the other parent badmouths you? Teach your kids to handle it. Tell them they must respect both points of view and that taking sides only hurts them.

CO-Parent. Remember, there are NO ex-parents, only ex spouses. CO-parenting with your ex is vital. What about the stepfather?He is the male leader in his home, the mother's home. Yes together, they are male and female head of house. Just as is the father and stepmother is in dad's house.

Have a Happy Father's Day. Just do it!


The child's self-love is dependent on holding each parent in respect. It is a psychological fact that we cannot esteem our selves if we do not respect our parents. After all, we are one half of our mother and father. Divorced parents seem to forget that fact.

Badmouthing each other has become quite acceptable, even trendy. Think of Donney's story:"My Mom says my dad's no good, My dad says my Mom's no good, I guess I must be no good."

There are ONLY ex spouses. There are NO ex parents.

In our counseling we teach, we write legal and extensive CO-parenting agreements. First we work to explain the divorce in way that does not put down the other parent. (I know, you're saying "but he/she deserves it!" Well I say "grow up." Saying bad things, no matter what, hurts the child. STOP IT!

Use Explanations Such As:
"I wanted to work and mom liked to go out"
"He/she like parties, I was happy with a good book or TV."
"She wanted to decorate, I wanted to save money."
Etc., etc.
Whatever... as long as it is DIFFERENT not DEPRECATING.

WHY the divorce?

The sad fact is that in many cases --- if not most cases --- the child is torn between the views of each parent.

It is up be a parent to respect their separate and different points of view. For example we teach the father to tell the child that he must honor the mother's right to believe what she believes. But, also to direct the child that there are "two points of view.

And the child must honor both his mother's and father's point of view. And, it is not a child's job to decide which parent is right or wrong, or to take sides. If the child does this he damages himself.

Today regarding "The 21st Century Family" we have not developed a vocabulary, nor a paradigm for explanation of divorce for children. Only a very few have a paradigm to explain the family of today---the new majority of divorced and stepfamilies.

We hope people will take from our writings and use them. Children and many fathers, and mothers also, have no words, nor solutions, nor way of speaking to children to soothe the grief and heal the wounds. Many feel bad and over indulge.

For Father's Day, consider the role of the Stepfather. Mothers with new partners, make this day special for your husbands.

Stepfathers, remember the Ten steps to Stepfathering and have a GREAT Father's Day!

1.The Stepfather Can't Function as Does the Biological Father. He is not the father and never will be. The stepfather is the male head of the household. Together with his wife, the children's mother, he can be a guide, a mentor, and even a psychological father to the stepchildren, over time. Go slow.

2. Structuring the Household Is a Shared Task Between Husband and Wife. How is the time, energy, and money used? What are the duties, responsibilities, and contributions of each member of the household? This must be sorted out and decided by the couple.

3. The Norms and Forms of Discipline Must Be Discussed and Agreed to by the Couple. Generally, the biological parent does the disciplining and the stepparent reminds, "In this house we . . ."

4. "Over-disciplining Your Stepchildren"‹Watch It! The biological mother can perceive it as too much, too often. This can bring on the mama-bear-protecting-her-young-from-the-outsider syndrome.

5. "Under-disciplining Your Own Children"‹Watch It! The biological father without custody misses his kids and fears the loss of affection and his personal input to his children. This is a legitimate fear. The less time he has with them, the less he wants to discipline. Children need parents even visiting parents‹to set up predictable structures and limits. Set up the rules quickly so you spend less time disciplining.

6. Predictability and Organization Create Intimacy. In a home with structure parents and children spend less time negotiating and arguing. Parent/child power struggles over repetitive issues waste time and undermine the child's self-esteem. Talking about real issues and creating intimacy should be the goal during these limited times together.

7. If Things Don't Work, the Tendency Is to Withdraw. Don't. Stepfathering is complicated, and the notion of not being the "master" of your own household is tough. Indeed, the mother may be lax on discipline. Indeed, you want to change things. Stepfathering has to do with parenting. You and the mother must, together, work out the forms and norms.

8. Unrealistic Expectations Beget Rejections and Resentments. There are few models for stepfathers. Learn the dynamics of step and divorce. Know what to expect and what not to expect.

9. Be Aware of a Conflict between Sexual and Biological Pulls in Stepfamily Relationships. In the original family the couple comes together to have a child, and together their energies focus on that child. The child is an extension of themselves. In step the child is connected to only one person in the couple. The blood ties and sexual ties can be polarized and can pull the couple in opposite directions.

10. Guard Your Sense of Humor and Use It.
Those are the thoughts for this father's day. Fathers need congratulations on the hardest job that they will ever do.

© Dr. Jeannette Lofas Ph. D., Westbrook University

You can view more of Dr. Lofas' articles at

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Why is it that my daddy doesn't love me?

It's Father's Day and I'm really excited to see my daddy.
We're going to have dinner together, just him and me. It's Father's Day.
I made him a really special card with lots and lots of hearts
to show just how much I love my daddy.
He's my hero.
I've got my special dress so that I will look pretty just for him.
It's a really special day.
Mommy's bringing me to daddy's place-
he' too busy to come and pick me up.
I have his card and even a little bag of M & M's for him.
I hope he likes them.
I see my daddy.
I run up to him and give him a big hug
and wish him Happy Father's Day.
I ask him if we are going to have dinner together.
He says no.
He's too busy.
And it's not our weekend.
I look at mommy and my heart is broken.
I just want to go home mommy.
As we go back, I tell my mommy that daddies don't love little girls,
only little boys.
Mommy tells me to take a nap and all will be better.
When I wake up, I'm really sad
because it's still Father's Day.
Why doesn't my daddy love me?
What did I do?
Is it because I'm a little girl?
Does he love someone else better than me?
I wish I was a little boy
then maybe my daddy would love me.
A sad little girl on Father's Day, 5 years old.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

How do you tend your garden

I enjoy gardening. I love to see my flowers bloom and give off their beautiful aroma. That is what I love about gardening. And plus, it gives me time to nurture and tend to my needs of with nature. One of my issues with gardening is that the weeds creep up when I'm not watching. How can they just pop up so fast? I realize that if I don't look after my garden on a regular basis, these pesky little weeds just come in and invade my garden. It's a constant struggle to keep up with getting rid of the weeds. It takes time and energy to create a beautiful garden.

So you might be wondering, what does this have to do with relationships? As I take out the weeds, I realize that relationships also need to be looked after with love and attention. If we don't find the time to nurture and grow our relationship, they too will get taken over by those pesky weeds. These weeds can come in the form of work, alcohol, drugs, other people, etc.

Ok so what do I do to take care of my relationship? Start small. Just like when you first plant flowers, start with the easier ones, those that require just enough care to still grow well. In a relationship, that could be eating a meal together once a week, or playing a game together or watching a movie. Start with something that everyone is comfortable with and that is fun. When our kids were in their teens, having family dinners was getting boring for them. So occasionally, we would go to an affordable family restaurant. They loved the idea of going out together. The bonus for us was that we got to have great discussions because the environment was different from home.

Next, make it a habit. I water my flowers at the same time of day about twice a week (depending on the weather of course). This makes it easier for me to remember to do this when I plan my week’s activities. It’s now a habit. Do the same thing with your relationship. Create a new habit of doing something every week. Choose a day that will work out and put it in your planner or calendar. Make sure everyone is aware of this.

Put color and fun in your activities. I love bright colors and lots of variety. It keeps me motivated and excited about going into my garden and seeing what is coming up. Do the same for your activities. Be creative and most of all have fun. Why not go to the park and have that picnic? Try something new and adventures like indoor rock-climbing or canoing. We have tried so many different things in our family and have discovered a lot about each other and ourselves. Just like when I plant a new species of flower, I get to know if the area I chose works and how to take care of it in a different way.

So I invite you to tend to your garden and see the many blossoms that you can create. The more flowers you have, the less place for weeds to come up. If you would like to know more about how to create a great relationship, I invite you to try a complimentary coaching session at to help you create to goal that will inspire and move you towards the life that you really want.

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Getting from good to WOW in your relationship

In today’s world maintaining a satisfied relationship requires planning and commitment. With everyone’s lives so busy, it is not automatic anymore to have time to nurture and enjoy our spouses/partners.

Just like a project, you need to set aside time to plan activities that you do as a couple. This creates shared memories that build and strengthen a relationship-the more you have the better the relationship withstands hard times.

Commitment is another important component in building stronger relationship. You must commit to sharing of yourself with the other, not just in activities but of yourself as in your thoughts and feelings.

But you say “we don’t have time for all of this” Then make the time. When something is really important to you, you actually find time and energy for it.

· Start by sitting together with your daily planners or calendar and find 1 to 2 hours a week.
· Choose an activity that you would both enjoy doing.

· Pencil it in your planner/calendar

· Get ready for the event

· Do It and have fun

This is what relationship coaching is all about. Helping you find the goal you want, set the strategies to get there and then follow through with actions.

If you would like to know more about coaching steps and the one-on-one approach , give me a call (703-915-2470) or email me ( ) for a complimentary trail session

"How will the world be different tomorrow as a result of our meeting today?" by Kathie Dannemiller

"People will be accountable and commited to what they have a hand in creating" from "Community: The structure of belonging" by Peter Block

Monday, June 2, 2008

Power of words

Did you ever say something out of anger and thought that well, it's just words. It can't hurt that much. They will have forgotten all about this. This is a video that shows just how much it can hurt.

This is a group that went to high schools in order to stop bullying and discrimination. It is a very powerful exercise to show just how much words hurt. I see this in homes too, between couples, parent and child and siblings. Words have a lasting effect and sometimes we don't know the extent of the damage it has created.

Before voicing those thoughts out of anger or frustration, take a moment to take a deep breath and see what it is that is really the issue. Are you hurt, frustrated or tired? Do you want to get back for something the other has said? What will you gain out of saying those things? Will it hurt the other person? Why do you want to do this?

Words do have a lasting effect on people. Why not choose ones that will motivate and inspire them. Use words to show your love and appreciation, to boost the other's self esteem. You will in turn feel the inspiration and love for yourself and create a new world for yourself and your family.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

What is Coaching?

I am often asked what is coaching? How does it work? How can it help me? There are several articles and places to find the information but I found this article that explained all these questions very well. I was first introduce to coach by Anthony Grant. He's positive outlook on people convinced me of the posibilities of individuals. This article was published on the Coaches Plus web site.

What is Coaching?
publication date: Apr 22, 2008

author/source: Coaches Plus

Coaching is a partnership between a coach and an individual that supports the achievement of results, based on goals set by the individual.

The individual chooses the focus of the ‘conversation’, while the coach listens and contributes observations and questions as well as concepts and principles which can assist in generating possibilities, potential and actions. Coaching can be seen as a collaborative process in which clients discover answers for themselves through the coach’s use of questions. Through the coaching process the clarity that is needed to support the most effective actions is achieved.
Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful.

Coaching presupposes that and it is not the coach’s responsibility to ‘fix’ the client. The client is an expert on themselves and the skill of the coach, and their role, is in allowing the person to come up with their own solutions. This doesn’t mean that the coach brings nothing to the relationship – they have knowledge based theory, methods, exercises and questions that help the person move forwards. Nevertheless, the coach’s skills are based around processes, not solutions.

In essence, coaching has two main facets. First it is performance focused, which means it is concerned with helping individuals perform tasks to the best of their ability. Second, it is person-centred, which means that the individuals being coached are seen to have the important insights.

Coaching is:

  • an equal partnership of trust between the coach and the person being coached.
  • involves ‘conversation’ rather than advice giving, discipline, or therapy.
  • built on client accountability
  • results orientated
  • is a fairly short-term activity and time bound
  • consists of one-to-one developmental discussions or whole team/group sessions in team/group coaching – these can take place face-to-face, or over the telephone and can be supported by online interaction
  • focuses on improving performance and/or developing/enhancing individuals’ skills.
  • works on the belief that clients are self-aware and do not require a clinical intervention.
  • focuses on current and future performance/behaviour rather than the past
    a skilled activity.

Descriptions used by some of the major coaching bodies and authors on coaching include:

International Coach Federation “Coaching is an interactive process that helps individuals and organisations to develop more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. Coaches work with clients in all areas including business, career, finances, health and relationships. As a result of coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths.”

Sir John Whitmore, author of Coaching for Performance “..unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”

Anthony Grant, University of Sydney, 2000 “….a collaborative solution-focused, results-orientated and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of work performance, life experience, self-directed learning and personal growth of the coachee.”


-Assist people to identify specific goals and then reach those goals faster and with ease.
-Provide clients with the tools, perspective and structure to accomplish more through a process of accountability.
-Reframe beliefs and create a point of focus for clients to reflect upon"

Types of Coaching
Coaches can be directly employed by an organisation to coach or have coaching embedded in their role as a manager or Human Resources professiona. (Intermal Coaches). Alternatively, they can be contracted by organisations or individuals to deliver coaching (External Coaches).

Coaches can also specialise in particular types of coaching – some examples include:

Business Coaching
Provided to employees as a professional or personal development tool, or to small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Career Coaching
Provided to employees or individuals who are looking to make a career change, or those who are facing redeployment or are experiencing redundancy.

Executive or Leadership Coaching
Often provided to high flyers or those with the potential to be a high flyer – at CEO or board level.

Performance Coaching
Often provided to managers in order to improver performance and productivity.

Skills Coaching
Tailored to the individual and focused on the individual being able to perform specific well-defined functions effectively. Examples include public speaking, team working, interpersonal skills, and decision making.

Personal or Life Coaching
Working with individuals who want to make some form of significant change happen in their lives, Personal or Life Coaches assist their clients by offering support and challenge based on their individual context. Here a key role of the coach is assisting the client to maintain the motivation and commitment needed to achieve their goals.

Coaches can also specialise in working with particular clients – for example - in:
Relationship Coaching
Parent Coaching

Youth Coaching
Group or Team Coaching
Retirement Coaching etc.

Author: © Sonia Thomas, April 2008
Coaches Plus http://www.coachesplus.comfind/
Find more coaching resources at http://www.coachesplus.comfind/
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Predictable Role Confusion in Step

This article comes from Stepfamily Foundation and was written by Jeannette Lofas and Trisha O'Shea. Both have been in steprelationships and are very involved in making a difference in stepfamily living.

Dr. Lofas is the founder of Stepfamily Foundation. For more information on her and her organization, go to

Roles – What Works and What Doesn’t Work

by Jeannette Lofas and Trisha O’Shea

1) Biological Father


The greatest curse that awaits the biological father after divorce and/or in a re-coupled situation is that he puts aside his job of being a father/guide/leader to his children. Instead he tends to not discipline his children, instead trying to win their favor by overindulging, becoming a “Disneyland Dad.” He doesn’t heed the complaints about his parenting from his current partner. This is a naturally occurring phenomenon for those parents who have divorced and/or remarried.
“I feel so bad, so guilty for leaving those children with her.
I see the kids so little. Sure, sometimes they’re fresh to me…
but I don’t want to use our time together to discipline them.
I want to be their friend. Their mom poisons their minds against me and my partner.
Sure, I let them stay up late….
They watch TV while my partner and I cook and clean up.
I don’t make them do anything that they don’t want to do.
When they come to visit, my partner and I go over the house rules we have created with them.”


“It’s my job as a father to teach them what a father should teach, such as the rules of sports, how to win and loose in good spirit, how to treat women with respect, and certainly to treat me with respect. I intend to be a role model they will look up to.
We have created rituals with them, like a bedtime ritual and the forms and norms of our family meals together. These rituals allow for us to bond in the short time we have together. They have duties and responsibilities which I enforce.”

2) Biological Mother


Remember there are no ex-parents, there are only ex-spouses. The mother teaches the child how to get along in the world; manners, responsibility, etc.


Too many divorced mothers focus their attentions towards becoming “friends” with their child. Many times the mother will do all the chores and take on all the responsibility, while little is expected of the child(ren), again the phenomenon of diminished parenting post-divorce. Often the mother is otherwise directed to working on her career and seeking a new man in her life, so her attention is directed away from her child.

Tip: Biological parents are often moved to a dysfunctional role due to the shame and guilt that occurs naturally after divorce. They must grapple with this phenomenon and still work to continue their job as parent. An additionally accepted phenomenon in our society is to bad-mouth your ex, the other parent of your child. Don’t do it! In so doing, you divide the child’s loyalties and cause diminishment or the lessening of self esteem in a child. Parents must never stop parenting.

3) Stepmother


She may come on with caring, wanting the house to run well, and giving the children responsibilities; but if she has no agreement with the father, her efforts may propel her into the role of “stepmother monster.”


A stepmother is never the “mother,” she knows that the words mother and father are sacred words for a child, and must be regarded as such. She holds her urge to discipline and take charge. She knows that is the clear route to becoming the “cruel” stepmother. She knows she must work out rules and responsibilities together with the biological father. The stepmother knows that her primary role in this family is as partner, and female head of the household. To achieve this, she works hard to draw up an agreement with her partner, the father, and together the house rules, chores, and expected manners. This takes work! She knows that this takes work, and without this work, the stepfamily is seldom successful.

4) Stepfather


The stepfather to see a mother and child in need of a man, and a man’s sense of order and the way things “should be.” Sometimes he comes on way too strong, or he withdraws when the children or his partner does not agree with him.


The stepfather learns to go slow! He learns the dynamics of step; that predictable behavior in this new family not so easy”. He knows that building couple strength and communication is vital to achieving success. He knows he must learn all he can about building good couple strength and communication to achieve it. Like the stepmother, he must come to an agreement with his partner on boundaries, rules of behavior and responsibilities are expected by children and of each other.

Tip: Unlike the biological family, the stepfamily is not born, it is created. Disputes over discipline, manners and expectations of children are high ranking in cause of break up. These issues must be addressed ASAP. To succeed, the rules of the house must be carefully defined by the couple in a positive voice and then written and posted for all to see. Then the stepmother/father is able to say, “Your father/mother and I have decided that in this house we…”
Whenever possible, the biological parent disciplines, and the stepparent says “in this house we…”

5) In-House Biological Child


Often the child says…“You are there, where my mom or dad should be…I don’t want you there, I want to disappear you… (I want my family back).” The child may also act out against the stepparent, by trying to dominate and move in on the space of the new couple, demanding the attention of the biological parent. “My dad left me and now my mom is with him…and I have no one. Mom/Dad pays more attention to him/her than to me.” The child may not do well at school or with friends, “I was here with my parent way before you were, and you are taking my parent away from me.” Often, the child isn’t even consciously aware of his or her actions. (I’m 10, I like to sit on my daddy’s lap and cuddle…and She doesn’t like it. I feel left out.” These words and actions are classic for the child living with a parent and a parent’s new partner.


Parents acknowledge that the new situation is hard on the child, and refrain from allowing the child to dominate the home and relationship. Parents explain with words the child understands, and in positives of why mom and dad will not be together again. They are told by the parent “I need a grownup in my life. I love you, and I expect you to abide by the new rules that we will set up for this family as it is now.”

6) Biological Child who Visits


“I don’t even know her, but I just don’t like her (him)…she bosses my dad around.” Often parents don’t make rules for the visiting child. As a result, the child doesn’t know what is expected or what their role is. Most parents don’t explain to the child what their expectations are, leaving the child even more confused about his position in the new stepfamily.


Parents carefully explain the rules of this home, and what is expected of the child. Parents must avoid the natural tendency to make the child the center of attention, by overindulge them since they see them only four days a month. forget to catch the child doing something “good,” remember there are positive and negative consequences to the visiting child’s behavior! Parents are always parents, not just playmates, and they are certainly not peers.

Tip: Realize that children of divorce have a tendency to bring the absent biological parent (the prior spouse), into the household by talking about her/him. Parent and stepparent need to graciously accept this behavior; the more you accept it, the less it will become. These are classic dynamics, and normal feelings. Remember, as a nation of divorce and as adults we must accept the child’s natural desire to want to include their missing biological parent. It is important for them to understand the confusing and often complex dynamics of stepfamilies. Parents must explain these dynamics to them. Also, no matter what their age, children must be respectful to the adults in their life

7) Biological Child of the Nuclear Family


Parents must be careful to keep expectations, manners and gifts on par with the stepchildren in the home and those who visit. Also, watch over what grandma and grandpa does when favoring the biological child.

I’m so lucky! I live here and don’t have to go back and forth like the other kids. My parents are together and I think they love me best.”

8) Female Ex-Spouse

Usually the custodial parent, she must be recognized as the main influence in the children’s lives. Often, her standard of living decreases dramatically after divorce, taking her into a place of fear and anger. She may be feeling alone, other-directed with a new job, and/or looking for a partner. Often, no matter how hard her ex-husband tries, she finds she is angry with him. She never thought being divorced would be this difficult.

9) Male Ex-Spouse

Very often he is in a household with a new partner and her children, doing for them what he is too limited to do for his own children. Often he withdraws from his partners children, feeling resentment towards them, as he’s only able to see his own every other weekend.

N.B. Regarding ex’s, nothing would make us happier than parents being civil, conversing about the child and showing respect for each other, especially upon pick-up and delivery. Sadly this is not the case in over 70% of divorces. It is the child who suffers when his parents don’t treat each other with respect and good manners.

10) Grandparents

Grandparents must be careful to treat all children the same way. Once a guiding force in the lives of their children and grandchildren, in our society of divorce today, they seemed to have pulled back, feeling as if they shouldn’t interfere in the tenuous and fragile new relationships post-divorce.
We urge grandparents to take their rightful place in the family and to mark for their sons and daughters and grandchildren the greater decades of experience they possess, and with that wisdom they have to share. Grandparents are to be respected.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Enjoying your day on Mother's Day

Women are nurturers by nature. We often are very busy taking care of our children, our partner, and friends. We are out there doing something to help out at school, at work or in the community. But how often do you sit down and say " Wow, I need to take care of myself". We don't do it enough. We even wait until we get frustated or upset. This Mother's Day, give yourself the gift of giving yourself some time to take care of yourself. Sure, you may have the children prepare you a nice card, have your partner take you out for brunch or even cook something for dinner. But what about yourself? What have you done for you? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

1. Take the time to be by yourself and read a book. The house will not fall to pieces during that time.

2. Take a nice long bubble bath with some soothing music. Bring your favorite beverage while you're in there and enjoy. Put a "Do Not Disturb" sign outside the door.

3. Go for a nice manicure and if you can splurge, go for the pedicure too. It will make you feel a little more special!

4. How about a nice massage. This is one of my personal favorite thing that will really take care of me and my spirit.

5. Meditate for an hour. This replenishes you as a person.

I am often reminded of the importance of taking care of myself whenever I take the plane. They remind us to put our oxygen mask on first and then assist others. Taking care of yourself is doing exactly the same thing. It gives you the energy and willingness to continue to be the great Mom everyone sees you as.

Have a great Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Law of the Garbage Truck

The Law of the Garbage Truck™
Copyright 2007 David J. Pollay

How often do you let other people’s nonsense change your mood? Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day? Unless you’re the Terminator, you’re probably set back on your heels. However, the mark of your success is how quickly you can refocus on what’s important in your life.

Sixteen years ago I learned this lesson. And I learned it in the back of a New York City taxi cab. Here’s what happened.

I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, the car skidded, the tires squealed, and at the very last moment our car stopped just one inch from the other car’s back-end.

I couldn’t believe it. But then I couldn’t believe what happened next. The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started yelling bad words at us. How do I know? Ask any New Yorker, some words in New York come with a special face. And he even threw in a one finger salute! I couldn’t believe it!

But then here’s what really blew me away. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was friendly. So, I said, “Why did you just do that!? This guy could have killed us!” And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, “The Law of the Garbage Truck™.” He said:

"Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you.

So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier."
So I started thinking, how often do I let Garbage Trucks run right over me? And how often do I take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the street? It was then that I said, “I don’t want their garbage and I’m not going to spread it anymore.”

I began to see Garbage Trucks. Like in the movie “The Sixth Sense,” the little boy said, “I see Dead People.” Well now “I see Garbage Trucks.” I see the load they’re carrying. I see them coming to dump it. And like my taxi driver, I don’t take it personally; I just smile, wave, wish them well, and I move on.

One of my favorite football players of all time was Walter Payton. Every day on the football field, after being tackled, he would jump up as quickly as he hit the ground. He never dwelled on a hit. Payton was ready to make the next play his best. Over the years the best players from around the world in every sport have played this way: Tiger Woods, Nadia Comaneci, Muhammad Ali, Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Michael Jordan, Jackie Robinson, and Pele are just some of those players. And the most inspiring leaders have lived this way: Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.

See, Roy Baumeister, a psychology researcher from the University of Florida, found in his extensive research that you remember bad things more often than good things in your life. You store the bad memories more easily, and you recall them more frequently.

So the odds are against you when a Garbage Truck comes your way. But when you follow The Law of the Garbage Truck™, you take back control of your life. You make room for the good by letting go of the bad.

The best leaders know that they have to be ready for their next meeting. The best sales people know that they have to be ready for their next client. And the best parents know that they have to be ready to welcome their children home from school with hugs and kisses, no matter how many garbage trucks they might have faced that day. All of us know that we have to be fully present, and at our best for the people we care about.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let Garbage Trucks take over their life.

What about you? What would happen in your life, starting today, if you let more garbage trucks pass you by?

Here’s my bet: You’ll be happier.

David J. Pollay is the author of “Beware of Garbage Trucks!™ - The Law of the Garbage Truck™. Visit to join the No Garbage Trucks! Revolution. His book, The Law of the Garbage Truck™, is due out this summer. Mr. Pollay is a syndicated columnist with North Star Writers Group, creator and host of “The Happiness Answer™” television program, an internationally sought after speaker and seminar leader, and the founder and president of

Posted with permittion from David J. Pollay, author of "Beward of Garbage Trucks!™"

Monday, April 21, 2008

The importance of decluttering

It's spring time and if you're like me, I feel an urge to get ride of a lot of "stuff". I want to clean my closets, rearrange the house and work in my garden all while spending time working and taking care of my family. How can I do it all? Where do I start? My house or my family?

I have found that when my house is not in order, my life tends to follow suit and vice versa. Whenever my work desk is overflowing with piles of papers that were supposed to be put away a month ago, my focus is not as sharp. But I feel like I don't have the time to do it all.

These are a few reasons that I think that decluttering is really important. It not only affects the way the house looks but how you feel as a person. Your level of energy and focus become depleted because of clutter.

So you might be wondering, what does this have to do with relationships? Well, relationships need to be tended to just like our house. If there is too much clutter, we can't see where we are going and often times feel overwhelmed. It is more difficult to be focused when everything needs some attention. As individuals, we need to feel safe in our homes and in our relationships. So where to start?

1.Start with a list. What is it that really needs to be done? Work in zones or in areas, whether it is in the home or with your relationship.

2.Arrange your list in a way that the things that would make the most change for you now are put first. Why? Because you are more likely to do those first.

3.Choose between two and three things on that list that you would like to work on for the next four to six weeks. Then break them down into smaller steps.

4.Start planning on when to do these steps and follow through. As you start seeing changes, see if there isn’t anything else on our list that you could add that would help you to “declutter” your life.

5.Acknowledge and celebrate your successes. If you don’t, what’s the point of doing this right?

Following these few steps will get you started to feeling a bit less cluttered. When everything finds its place in your house and in your life, life starts to feel a little more breezy. Have a great day.

For more on coaching and how I can help you, go to . Have a great day.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Stepmother Poem

I read this poem on a discussion group and just loved it. I wanted to share it with you. If anyone knows of the author, please let me know so that I can give credit to her.

What is a stepmother?
A step below or a step above?
Someone for you to (sometimes) love?
Someone to share your laughter and tears?
Or do you grow quiet when she comes near?

What is a stepmother?
A step above or a step below?
Someone to teach you and help you to grow?
Is she a mystery to you, or someone you know?
Are you true with your feelings, or are they for show?

I'm a stepmother, so let me define
What a stepmother is, at least in my mind
A stepmother cares for her family and home
And loves her step kids like they were her own
She fixes their meals, treats a cold, ties a shoe
Anything that a kid's real mom would do

A stepmother consoles you when you feel sad
And hands out a punishment if you are bad
She'll tuck you in bed and read you a story
And yet, it's the real mom that gets all the glory

A stepmother hides the tears that she cries
When mother's day comes and then just slips by
With no card, and no hug, though she really feels sad
She won't let you see it, won't let you feel bad

She feels like an outsider but tries to fit in
If you're playing a game with her, she'll let you win
She makes sure your birthday is one special day
And when hers is forgotten, she'll just look away

When your teen years come, life gets much tougher
With a stepmother these years, for her, are much rougher
You may say or do something that injures her feelings
Please keep in mind that she hurts while she's healing

Your stepmother has done the best she could do
And no matter your age, she'll always love you
For her birthday, the best present to get her
Is the most precious of all, that you didn't forget her

As written from a subscriber on

Monday, March 31, 2008

Welcome to Info Steps

Hi Members

I would like to welcome you to my very first Info Step Blog. I decided to do a blog versus a traditional newsletter in order to let you be able to comment as well as read the information. My purpose in creating Info Steps is to inform and provide tools on how to deal with relationships in both your family and stepfamily.

In the coming months, I am planning on writing on issues that concerns you, your family and your relationship. Occasionally, I plan to review books that will be of interest to you, update you on any events that concerns stepfamilies and relationships and provide you with links to other great sites.

Occasionally, I will post surveys to find out what members are feeling about certain issues.

I am always looking for ideas and comments from members. Please feel free to email me with your suggestions.