Introducing my new blog, To Well With You

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Photo courtesy of Hatch and Maas

Regular readers of Suzy & Spice know that I launched a wellness-coaching business earlier this year, with a website “coming soon.”

After weeks of blood, sweat and tears (we won’t mention the cussing and discussing), soon has turned into finally. I launched the To Well With You blog on June 1. Bruce and I are still tweaking (hence the “cussing and discussing” that we’re not mentioning), but we’re pretty pleased with it overall. (I’ve also created a landing page that will link you to either of the two blogs, and the address is easier to remember: SuzyOakley.com. We’re still tweaking that page, too.)

I would love for you to check out To Well With You by clicking here, subscribe if you like, and share it with friends, loved ones, co-workers – anyone you think might enjoy it or benefit from it.

The site will focus on wellness, fitness and running, and I plan to post two or three times a week there. I’ll maintain a once-a-week schedule here at the big-sister blog, Suzy & Spice. Here, I will continue to write about “whatever strikes my fancy,” but at To Well With You I will have more targeted content.

Wellness encompasses a lot, so that’s why you’ll see a Farm2Home event on that site this week and in the weeks to come (a series!). I believe it’s important to eat fresh, unprocessed foods, to “buy local” as much as possible and to support our neighbors who grow and raise our food and make other products from their bounty.

Here at S&S, I’m planning another series related to farming – only this one will focus on the Main Street Farmers Market in Batesville, Ark. I can’t wait to tell you about some of the hardworking people I’ve met downtown on Saturday mornings. They’re awesome, and so are their foods and crafts!

And I’m planning a series on local small businesses (first up: a review of Elizabeth’s Restaurant and Catering downtown) at Suzy & Spice.

You might wonder, How does she find the time for all this and still work a full-time “day job”?

I wonder that, too.

Just call me wonder woman. I am figuring it out as I go along, because this blogging business is important to me. It lights my fire, even when my wood’s wet. The other night I went to bed way past my bedtime, beyond exhausted but smiling about the words and photos I posted in honor of the farmers, ranchers and product makers around our beautiful state.

I love to tell great stories. If my words and images can get you to feel the right emotions and maybe even take positive action, I’ve done what I set out to do.

I can’t make a habit of late-to-bed and exhausted every day, but I made a conscious decision that it’s necessary sometimes if I want to make an impact on others for good.

If I’m tired while working to fulfill my mission, well … that’s why the good Lord invented the Sunday nap.

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Blogging from A-Z – It’s all about YOU

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “Y.” (I’m blogging the alphabet in April. Read the details at Suzy & Spice here or the Blogging from A-Z page here.)

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A-ZwellnessquoteWe are so close to the end of our month-long Blogging from A-Z Challenge. I’m not sure who is happier about that: you or me.

It has been a long (but really fun) journey. Thanks for sticking with me. I learned a lot of things this month, not the least of which was perseverance. I hope you learned a few things, too.

After tomorrow’s Z post, we will be finished with A-Z (at least until next April), and I’m about to launch a second blog to focus on things relating to wellness, fitness and running. I had planned to launch it May 1, but an out-of-town trip and the blogging challenge delayed my plans.

Now I’m shooting for mid-May. I want to have the new blog shiny and bright by the time I invite you for a visit.

Suzy & Spice will stay the way it is: a general-topic blog where I can write about whatever suits my fancy.

CCI_logoThe new blog, To Well With You, will reflect my new wellness coaching business and stick to more specific areas. You’ll be able to subscribe to the new blog, just as you can at Suzy & Spice, but I promise I won’t hit you with a post every single day as I’ve done in April. (Believe me, that will make me happy, too.) I plan to write an average of three posts a week, and I could go into more detail about that now, but I’ll save it for the launch announcement. (Still working out some of the details.)

Those “specific areas” I mentioned – wellness, fitness and running – can cover a lot of territory, and I can’t imagine running out of things to write about. (I get positively giddy thinking about the possibilities!) That’s where YOU come in. I’d love to know what you’d like to see on the new blog – if you plan to visit.

(I also plan to cross-post a modified version of this post at To Well With You once it’s up and running.)

Obviously running is a pretty specific topic, but fitness and wellness can mean just about anything. The new blog will focus on prevention rather than cure (after all, I’m not a doctor – I don’t even play one on TV!). At the minimum, I’ll cover:

  • Exercise and fitness (including running, yoga and other types of recreation and sport).
  • Healthful eating and nutrition (including recipes – feel free to share yours).
  • Financial well-being (living below your means, giving, investing).
  • Relationships (family, friends, acquaintances, workplace).
  • Faith and spirituality.
  • Stress management.
  • Medical and health news.
  • Reviews of books and other media on the above topics.
  • Your opinions and insights on what’s happening in and around your world.
  • FUN! It won’t be all drudgery and rules. I want to make it an enjoyable place for you to visit.

I’m not an expert on much (in some cases my knowledge goes a mile wide and an inch deep, as they say about copy editors), but I know how to find good information; my job will be to guide you to come up with your own solutions. Also, I will be calling on others to contribute to the new blog, and it will be full of links and references to other resources where you can further your own education in a particular field.

If you have a topic you’re passionate about and have a fair amount of knowledge on that topic, I’d love for you to A) write a guest post or B) let me draw out your expertise and feature our conversation in the new space. Please let me know if you’re willing to do that, and we can be in touch offline.

This is a community; let’s share our wealth of knowledge with one another.

As they say, knowledge is power, and I want you to be powerful in your journey to wellness. My job is to walk with you along the path, point you in the right direction and be a cheerleader and/or a sounding board as you take charge of your own health and well-being.

So … what have I left off the list? What would you like to see in the new space? Please use the comment space below to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

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Tomorrow: Z is for Zamperini (as in Louie). And then we’re finished with A-Z!

Follow me on Twitter: @OakleySuzyT

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To Well With You – the coach is in

Suzy & Spice Business CardTo Well With You is official!

I don’t have a shingle or even an official office – my office is my Inbox, my cell phone or wherever you need to meet me – but the wellness coach, yours truly, is open for business.

Now that the Super Bowl is over and you can start recovering in earnest from the holiday hangover (I don’t mean booze but food, staying up too late, not focusing your health), you can talk to me about ways you might want your life to be different, better, more successful. I want to help you set and reach your goals.

You – the expert on YOU – are the driver of our choice of topics and where we go with them. I’ll help navigate, but you make all the decisions. You’re in charge, and I’m your guide.

We might talk about one or more of these areas:

  • Your physical fitness (exercise, better eating, more sleep).
  • A medical problem you may need to start addressing (with your doctor).
  • Your mental wellbeing.
  • Financial health.
  • A bad habit you want to break.
  • A good habit you want to establish.
  • Spiritual wellbeing.
  • Fill in the blank ______________.

As I’ve said in the past, I’m not a doctor, a nutritionist, a priest or your mother. If you need professional help, I’ll refer you. My job is to draw out your motivation to make positive changes. I will explain that in more depth in our initial consultation.

If you want to talk to me, call, text or email me. The info is in the graphic above.

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On Sunday naps and baby steps

It Is Well With My Soul - Version 2I interrupt this small-business launch to bring you … a day of rest.

I announced a month ago that I would launch my wellness-coaching business Feb. 1, not taking into account that Feb. 1 would be a Sunday.

My Sabbath. The Lord’s Day.

I used to treat Sundays casually, but now I’m more intentional about slowing down the merry-go-round that is life in the third millennium.

I take a nap every Sunday after church, and I take that nap seriously. Like it’s an appointment I can’t miss. I sometimes do miss it, but the reason has to be something really important. For instance, next Sunday afternoon I’ll travel out of town to sit with kinfolk and witness the ordination of my cousin as a deacon at his church. That’s important to me. God and family.

Wedding showers, baby showers, birthday parties on Sunday afternoons? I have to confess that my Sunday chill time is more important than those things – unless the event is relaxing for me, or it’s for family. (The two don’t always coincide!)

This stance may sound rigid, but as I age – as my full-time job takes a toll on me, body and soul – taking one day off a week to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” is not just a spiritual pursuit but a practical one. I began needing the day off a few years ago, when I worked 60 hours a week at a job I hated. I was angry and tense the entire 11 months I worked there, and I’m convinced that if I had stayed I would be dead today. (Coincidentally or not, it was toward the end of my time there that I was diagnosed with a heart problem. On the plus side, it has made me grateful for every job I’ve had since.)

Sunday naps began as a matter of survival for me. Now they’re a matter of renewal and preparation for the week ahead. I’ve often said I can’t survive my workweek without My Sunday Nap.

Being the concrete-sequential, left-brained thinker that I am, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be launching the wellness business on the first day of the month, as planned. (So perfect for bookkeeping, right?)

But Sabbath is a big deal to me.

So I decided to use it as a reminder to myself, and as my first admonition as a wellness coach, one day early:

If you are not on a conscious journey to wellness or wholeness (whatever you consider that to be), you should consider it. My goal is to spur everyone I come in contact with to be everything that God created him or her to be. Live up to your full potential. If you don’t have things in place that help you do that, work on putting them in place.

Start simple. “Baby steps,” I always say.

Simple means something like a Sunday nap. Or a Saturday nap. Or a Wednesday nap. Make your “Sabbath” whatever day works for your schedule. Just … slow down. Say no to some things. Say yes to yourself. Don’t worry that others will misunderstand; some will, but that’s OK. (Plenty of people don’t understand why I decline Sunday afternoon party invitations.)

Be mindful. Look for opportunities to be kind to yourself. To disconnect when you need to. To connect when you need to, but with people, not gadgets, or to-do lists, or the office. To recharge. (I understand that not everyone is like me. For me, crowds drain; for my husband, they energize.)

Begin figuring out what you need to do to be well and whole. Start your journey now.

And if you need me, I’m here.

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To Well With You

We are one step closer. One BIG step.

As we approach the Feb. 1 launch of the wellness coaching business, we now have a name:

To Well With You

I plan to explain later how we came up with the name. (You do want an explanation, don’t you?) But for now I’m making good on my promise to explain the concept of “wellness coaching.”

What is wellness?

Wellness, and even wellness coaching, means many things to many people, but I’m going to give you my take on it.

In my view, wellness encompasses a rainbow of possibility. There are broad areas to cover (spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, financial, social …) and many subcategories that are specific and important to each individual.

One person might want to break a bad habit, while another wishes to make changes in her work/life balance. Maybe this guy wants to reclaim his health by preparing nutritious meals and cutting back on junk food. Yet another may want financial peace and stability.

Fill in your own reason here: __________________________

The topics are as limitless as the stars in the sky.

For me, the goal is to help you get to a better, more meaningful place in your life – one in which you are the best possible version of the unique person God created you to be. That’s my goal for myself (still a work in progress), and it’s my hope for you.

What is wellness coaching?

After years of studying myself, reading books, studying the Bible, praying, listening to talks, seeking the wisdom of others – working to overcome my faults and foibles and to strengthen my positive qualities – I decided that I’d learned a few things that could help others, and I started thinking about how I might do that. Last year I became a certified wellness coach.

Sometimes I have to learn things the hard way, and sometimes I take the loooonnnng and hard route to get there. So, while I firmly believe that we grow strongest through difficulty, I would like to ease some of the pain of progress for you. Maybe not every single thing in your life has to be a hard-fought lesson, right? Maybe you just want to talk through some ways you might approach things differently and avoid some of the pain and mistakes you might have made otherwise. If so, I want to take the journey with you.

Don’t misunderstand. A coach’s job is not to do the work for you – to swoop in and fix everything. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t.

For starters, I’m not a licensed therapist. I’m not an ordained minister. I’m not your mom.

There are certain things I can’t do and certain things I won’t do as your coach. Here is what I will do:

I’ll listen. I’ll draw you out. I’ll solicit your thoughts, your motivations, your core values, your reasons for wanting to make positive changes in your life. I’ll help you take steps in the direction you want to go.

The key word here? MOTIVATION.

If you do not truly want change, then change either: 1) will not happen or 2) will not last. We will waste each other’s time. (Probably.) The thing about motivation is that you have to come up with it for yourself. I can’t make you want to change.

I will hold your hand. I might give you Kleenex. I will understand (or at least try).

Change is hard.

IT. IS. HARD.

It is easier, in my opinion, when you have a helping hand, a friendly voice, a smiling face. Someone who listens without judgment, who wants the best for you. I want to be that person.

To well with you.

I will start taking appointments Feb. 2. Those appointments can take the form of face-to-face visits, phone calls, video chats, email or any combination. Once the business is live, I’ll provide my contact info here on Suzy & Spice. Meanwhile, feel free to leave a comment below.

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Contest winner … Michele

I have good news and bad news.

The good news: Michele Barnett is the big winner tonight! She won the drawing! Woohoo!

By generously offering suggestions as to the name of my wellness-coaching business (to launch in two weeks) and thus getting her name in my drawing, Michele wins two prizes:

  • A month of wellness coaching.
  • A $50 gift card that she gets to select from a fairly large list of retailers.

Michele, I’ll be contacting you directly, but I wanted to say here, publicly:

THANK YOU! You’re awesome!

Two weeks ago, I had asked you, my readers and friends, to help me come up with a clever name for my upcoming wellness-coaching business. I had already narrowed the choices to about three of my own ideas but decided I wanted some input from folks who know how I roll.

So I had a contest.

You really came through for me. Thirteen of you offered suggestions – some more than one idea – and one of you even came back a second time with a new idea. Other commenters didn’t offer business names but offered so much more: encouragement.

I felt the love.

But … even though I had all of you fine folks on the case, Bruce and I continued to brainstorm names. Some of them were cute, some funny, some stinkers, some just too dumb to mention out loud (except that we did). We (actually, Bruce) came up with an off-the-wall name this evening while driving home from a meeting in Conway. (I think we were punchy, even though the only beverages on our dinner menu had been tea and Mr. Pibb.)

Yup, we have decided on a name. But that’s where the bad news comes in:

I’m not telling you what it is until Tuesday.

Yes, I’m making you wait. I have my reasons. (Go ahead and call me names, stick your tongue out at me, shake your fist in the air – I can take it.)

Also Tuesday, I will lay out what wellness coaching looks like to me and I’ll see how closely it lines up with what you were expecting.

So, I’ll see you back here Tuesday … unless you want to know what I thought of the movie Selma, which Bruce and I watched last night. I’ll be writing about that Monday as we observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Come back then.

If you don’t want to miss a Suzy & Spice post, feel free to visit the Subscribe form at the top right. We’ll treat you well here – I promise.

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Introducing: wellness coaching

jimmy_carter_make_differenceIn my New Year’s Day post, I promised you “a big announcement.” I can hardly believe the time has come:

On Feb. 1, I will launch my much-anticipated wellness-coaching service.

(Keep reading for details of a contest below.)

Much anticipated, you say? Well, at least by me, my husband, Mom and a few of our friends. I’ve been talking about this for a year – really, two years if you count the year of “waiting on the Lord,” when I worked on being quiet and seeking His guidance on what He wanted for my life. (“Not my will but yours, Lord.”) I just knew I wanted to make a positive impact on the world in the second half of my life. Two years ago, I turned 50, and a milestone birthday like that can rekindle the fire under you that you thought had gone out years ago. It can make you turn wishful thinking into action.

HALF OF MY LIFE IS OVER, AND I DON’T WANT TO WASTE IT.

But, really, the fire never went out. I’ve spent a lot of my life in the pursuit of learning (I got that from my dad). I read a lot, and I’m drawn to books and activities that help me improve who I am. My favorite source material is the Bible, but my library expands way beyond that. And just look at Jimmy Carter. For folks like me (who are tired of politics), he may be remembered more for his volunteer service than for the four years he served as our nation’s 39th president. (In 1991, I was “this close” to serving alongside him on a Habitat for Humanity build, but my dad had a heart attack the day before I was to leave for Tijuana, and I ended up flying to Arkansas instead of driving south from my home in California.) Jimmy Carter puts his faith in action, and I want to do that, too.

So … in my year of seeking the Lord, I was drawn to the idea of helping others who were ready to make positive changes in their own lives, and last year I became a certified wellness coach. I’ll give a bit more background on that in a minute, but first let’s talk about what wellness is, exactly.

Well, it’s not an exact science. It’s more like an art. And if you put half a dozen folks around a table and asked each one to define it, we might come up with half a dozen completely different answers.

Here’s my answer:

Wellness encompasses not only physical health but mental, spiritual, social and even financial wellbeing – any aspect of your being that makes up the many complicated parts of who you are. Each piece is part of the Big Picture. The entire person. The whole enchilada.

I’ve been on my own “journey to fitness [wellness]” for a few years now, and I think I’ve learned a few things that will help others. But I wanted something substantial, something more formal, that would give me credibility. I began researching wellness-certification programs.

CCI_logoIn January 2014 (after a sermon by my pastor that spurred me to make a decision already!), I enrolled in the Catalyst Coaching Institute and spent the next few months studying and taking online courses, then I traveled to Colorado for 16 hours of on-site training. Afterward, I had to pass a final exam, which included a written test and an hour-long session of telephonic coaching (I had to practice-coach a client [a fellow student] over the phone while the instructor listened in and critiqued me).

I spent the next few months planning.

Now I’m ready to launch.

Well, almost. First, I need your help. Bruce and I have been trying to come up with a name for the business, and we’ve come close but aren’t sure we’ve arrived at the just-right name.

So we’re having a CONTEST. Here’s how it works:

Submit a comment at the bottom of this post with your suggestion(s). You may also leave a comment in support of someone else’s suggestion. If one of the suggestions becomes my business name, I will give the comment author a prize. In appreciation of your help, whether or not we choose one of the business names, Bruce and I will draw one name from among all who comment and give a prize to that participant (except one person cannot win both). Thanks in advance for your encouragement and creativity.

Contest ends at 9 p.m. Central time Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, and I’ll contact the winner(s) by email and post an announcement here. Winner(s) will receive:

  • A month of free coaching sessions (one phone or face-to-face session each week for four weeks, plus weekly email contact).
  • A $50 gift card from a list of many retailers (you choose which retailer if we pick your name).

(If you aren’t interested in the coaching sessions but totally want a $50 gift card, please do enter! 🙂 )

In case you’re not sure how this whole “coaching” thing works, let me tell you a few things that should put your mind at ease, and I’ll give more details in a post later this week. (Subscribe to Suzy & Spice to get updates sent to your inbox – see form at top right of this page.)

  • The main thing you should know is that YOU are the driver of what we talk about. You pick the topic, and you decide what and how much to discuss. Also, I am not your psychiatrist, medical doctor, nutritionist or priest. I can talk about general things but will stick to the areas I know and will refer you to a credentialed expert if I need to. (I would like to be a certified nutritionist, so if you’ll send me gobs of money I will enroll in a school. I’m only half-joking.)
  • Everything we talk about will be private and confidential.

I hope that helps you understand where this is going. Stay tuned for a deeper explanation of what wellness coaching might look like for you.

January is a time when many people make New Year’s resolutions, and often those resolutions are abandoned by mid-February. That’s part of the reason I’m waiting until Feb. 1 to launch. I want to catch you before you fall.

I believe God made us for community, for relationship. My hope is that you’ll consider me a trustworthy ally as you work to become the best version of the YOU that God created you to be.

This is your one and only life. Don’t waste it.

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