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As seen on Catholic Lane and CatholicMom.com

The day finally came when it was time to pack up the majority of my office suits. They used to be so important to my daily life that they had the privilege of living in their very own closet.

But I recently resigned from my decade-long government career, am hugely pregnant, and focused on my coaching business and writing projects now. I have a chance to create the life I want and follow my inspirations. At the same time, I can’t help but reflect on what Catholic women face when they work in secular office environments.

My life as a ladder climbing “government gypsy” meant that I didn’t quite fit into the popular Catholic woman’s paradigm. My perception was that a woman needed to be married with kids and tied to her nest to really qualify as a full on Catholic woman. Well, I’m about to fit more into that mold than ever before, but what if you don’t fit in?

You have to figure out how to maintain your Catholic identity in the work world, which can be challenging. It’s easier if you work for a Catholic organization or non-profit, but in my case, it was office work without any religious connotations for 10 years. I think I was both professional and unapologetic about my faith, but it didn’t feel like a common path.

At times, I deflected comments from other Catholic women who were suspicious of my business acumen, childless status and big paycheck. The fact that it could have been God’s Will for me didn’t initially occur to them. They seemed to suspect my lifestyle was a result of selfish indulgence.

I couldn’t help but notice that some traditional sorts seemed surprised that I had my own opinions and was capable of accomplishing what maybe they only saw their fathers do in 1960s America. Perhaps a petite frame and long hair don’t suggest “achievement” to a lot of people still? That was equally troubling.

On the other side of the coin, some who were committed to the cube farm seemed a little shocked by my decision to leave and suspected that it would not stick.

Regardless, the movie screen in my head always showed me attaining a senior rank and leaving to put baby first. And while I couldn’t have planned everything even if I’d tried– that vision became reality. Except for one thing…

I thought that I’d probably see my secular jobs as necessary evils on my road to motherhood that would serve no benefit after baby arrived. I got sucked into the idea that my career was somehow irrelevant to my identity and calling as a Catholic woman. I’ve found this to be untrue.

As I packed my suits, I realized that I’m lucky. Many co-workers along the way didn’t share my worldview, but were also highly functional and possibly friendly people. As a consequence, I am more mindful of polarized thinking than I was before my office jobs. At the same time, I know what’s “out there” and how hard it is to balance family and work, so I don’t take my transition to a home-based business for granted.

Secular jobs can be inconveniences, but they can also be important steps in our lives that are more closely aligned to callings. They may help us fulfill our life purpose. As St. Catherine of Siena said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

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My free coaching session offer in honor of Valentine’s Day was so successful (one time, my email crashed) that I have now established a wait list for new, prospective coaching clients.

Please take this survey to get a spot on the wait list! It’s only 10 easy questions.

I anticipate that I will schedule new clients for the May/June 2013 timeframe, but you could be contacted sooner.

Coaching is a very effective tool for changing your life. This article from Dominican University cites research that supports the coaching process of goal setting, accountability checks, and sharing the process with another person.

My personal experience backs the findings of this research. A client once told me that she made more progress in three months with me than she would have made on her own in three years.

Further, I am also able to offer high quality mentoring to “How to Get to ‘I Do’” clients in particular. Mentoring is highly prized in the business world. Professionals who want to make it to the next level seek out mentors who can share how they got to be where they are, and also offer personalized insights to their mentees.

I’ve benefited tremendously from both coaching and mentoring over the years. I would not have become a successful business woman or award-winning author without this kind of support. So, if you feel stagnant and like you are not all you were meant to be, it’s time to get unstuck! As St. Catherine of Siena said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” What are you waiting for?

If you are ready to get serious about your achieving your dreams, fill out this survey today!

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Recent Radio Shows and Free Session Offer

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

If you missed my Valentine’s Day appearance on Meet the Author on Radio Maria, you can listen to it here.

Also, if you are a Catholic Answers fan, go here for my recent appearance.

The free coaching session offer I’ve talked about recently is about to end and I can’t tell you when it will be back. If you are motivated to get your life on track and get serious about your goals, email me now at amy[AT]newmountaincoaching[DOT]com for an appointment before time runs out! My calendar is filling up fast and if you want to work with me personally, it’s time to commit to improving your life. Sign up and claim your time slot!

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Top Five Obstacles to Getting to ‘I Do’

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

I’ve written about Catholic dating for about five years now and also coach women one-on-one to get to ‘I Do.’ From day one, my approach was a little different because I’m a no-bones-about-it realist.

We Catholics love to cling to our ideals! We aren’t always interested in how things are, and prefer to focus on how things ought to be. It can mean that people never quite get their arms wrapped around the complexity of today’s dating scene and their individual challenges.

Here are the top five obstacles I see that hold people back from getting to ‘I Do.”

1. An Unclear Life Path: If you have not taken the time to gain clarity about your life path, tune in to your internal GPS. Is it marriage or is it not? Get certitude on this question. Avoid this important work and you will seem aimless and lack passion.

It is common for devout Catholics to jump off and on vocational bandwagons for years. Or, they take a backseat in their own life, refusing to take the steering wheel. This is a waste of time, and your lack of direction won’t be attractive to potential spouses. If you know where you are going, dates will feel safer pursuing a relationship with you.

2. Online Dating Avoidance: I can’t tell you how many people tell me that because of one failed relationship that began online, they oppose online dating. Or maybe they heard a bad story. Do we expect every relationship that begins in person to lead to marriage? Such expectations aren’t reasonable and somehow we know that.

So why do we apply another standard to online dating? The party has moved from where it was 30 years ago. You need to be online if you are serious about getting married. Sure, it’s not perfect, but nothing is. I sometimes remind my female clients that any promising connection with a new guy could be characterized as a “win” – they are on the right track and getting closer to ‘I Do.’

3. Big Goals, No Daily Management Skills: Big goals take effort to achieve and yet we Catholics often think that getting to ‘I Do’ shouldn’t take any action on our part. People tell me, “I thought all I had to do was pray for a spouse.” Definitely keep praying, but just like anything else in life, you are at least partially responsible for moving things along.

Do you hold yourself accountable for getting out there and meeting new people? How do you respond to potential spouses who are interested in you? Do you properly leverage new opportunities or sabotage them? Are you the best version of yourself? How do you maintain a positive attitude on a daily basis? Be conscientious about managing your life and marriage goal and you will get better results.

4. A Critical Mindset: Focusing on all of the things your ex did, or cataloging everything that is just plain broken in our society is a recipe for continued misery. When you fixate on negativity, your energy level and motivation to overcome challenges plummets.

So, change the music. Look for what’s right. What is within your control? How can you maximize your efforts? And if you can’t find the man or woman who you have built up in your head, are you actually seeking a fantasy? Is God trying to show Himself to you through that slightly imperfect person you just met? Yes, you want to have standards, but don’t get a chip on your shoulder. You aren’t perfect either.

5. Pleasant Sounding Excuses: One pleasant sounding line that can be a delay tactic is “I’m happy where I am at.” Yes, maybe you have expertly managed other areas of your life and achieved a lot. But, if you use this as an excuse to “sit on the sofa” and avoid pursing a call to marriage, you could have a problem on your hands.

If you want a relationship and don’t have one, you could be in an even better place in life. So, what makes you think that settling where you are is a good idea? How will you feel in 10 or 20 years if you are still not married? Will you be in a happy place? Chances are, you might have some regrets. Get to the bottom of self-limiting thought patterns or fears that hold you back so you can be happy all around.

God does provide for us and will give us amazing opportunities if we are open to them. But we do have free will and some of our destiny is in our own hands. The bottom line is that we have to walk in the direction of our prayer.

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What Should I Do For Lent This Year?

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Are you looking for something different to do for Lent?

I contributed to a post about Lenten practices by Steph Gulya of “The Catholic Woman” blog, and so did Lisa Hendey of CatholicMom.com. If you don’t know what to do this year, check it out. I had to change my plans this year because my super huge, pregnant self needs all of the protein and iron I can get, so meat has to stay on the menu every day this year!

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4 Steps to Reclaim Your Power This Year

Friday, January 25th, 2013

I attended two New Year’s events this season that featured bonfires. At each gathering, we were encouraged to say goodbye to anything negative that happened in 2012 by burning lists or symbolic items.

These annual cleanses resonated with me because I believe that God taught me some huge business and life lessons last year. I had so many betrayals and disappointments to let go of by way of the flames and smoke, but I realized that the painful incidents taught me to reclaim my power.

If you want a fresh start this year, these steps can help you reclaim your power:

1. Prune Your Life of Negativity: I’m all for working things out with folks and finding compromises, but sometimes, a relationship or situation is difficult to redeem. A lot of times, these circumstances are temporary in nature and you have the ability to make sweeping changes if you choose to.

For example, if you have a boss who constantly sabotages and poisons the well for you, how about moving to another position? If a so-called friend has seriously burned you, how can you distance yourself? Have the courage to do some pruning. Once you are free of a draining situation, a more energizing one can come into your life.

I’ve never regretted leaving a bad boss, and I’ve never regretted replacing backstabbing “friends” with genuine friends. Looking back on it, my only regret is not having the guts to make changes sooner!

2. Examine Your Life for Patterns: If you’ve noticed an influx of icky treatment in your life over a particular period of time, what happened? Did a life change bring it on? I can tell you that I’ve noticed surges of dishonest and unethical behavior from people around me when I have a big success in my career or personal life. Despite my generosity and willingness to pay it forward, some people seem to cave to the green, ugly monster within when I achieve something great.

Coming out of my denial and noticing this social pattern has helped me establish more effective boundaries. Although it’s disappointing when people are threatened by my successes, I realized that I can reduce nasty surprises by being more purposeful about who I partner with and allow in my inner circle.

3. Refresh Your Environment: You deserve a positive environment to thrive in. A plant needs the right soil and the proper amount of sunlight and water to grow healthy and strong. You as a person need a hospitable environment to do your best too. Is your office neat? Do you have your most important paperwork at home organized? What images do you have around that are inspiring and lift your spirits?

Admittedly, I’m still a work in progress on this note, but I bought a bunch of nifty and economical home organization stuff from Ikea a week ago. Take one step at a time if you struggle with tidiness. Even a few minutes a day could improve your mindset, and reduce the time you spend scrambling for lost items or feeling bad over your mess.

4. Build a Supportive Network: You will reach your goals so much easier if you intentionally keep awesome people around you who cheerfully support what’s important to you. I mean, how many times have you not done something because so-and-so gave you a discouraging look or comment? Good advice is one thing, but if you feel constantly dragged down, that’s different!

For example, I am expecting my first child and want a natural, healthy birthing experience. I realized that my original doctor’s office and hospital did not share my philosophy. I switched to a baby and mother-friendly birthing center and hired a team of doulas. I feel so much better! Now, I have people around me who champion what I want and who I want to be.

Making these changes in my life has reminded me of cleaning my house. In order to bring new and better stuff in, you have to throw away the old and broken items first. But what a great feeling when you purge… It’s like a breath of fresh air! And oxygen is power.

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Do You Use This “Artist’s” Excuse?

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people excuse irresponsible behavior or serious issues by saying, “Oh, I have an artistic temperament.” Haven’t we all heard this before?

I mean, I am sure I employed this excuse at some point, but when I actually began producing my own work, I realized that it’s really nose-to-the-grindstone, no-nonsense stuff. But if you are inspired or have a vision, you are willing to do the heavy lifting for the beautiful results. It turns into “plorking” – or play and work wrapped into one activity.

So, I loved it when I read this piece in the Washington Post about best-selling, record breaking author James Patterson. Admittedly, I am not a fiction person at this point in my life – and I have never read Patterson’s work, but I am always willing to learn from a master.

The article is about how Patterson collaborates with other writers. As he compliments one of the writers he is working with, he says:

“He gets in there and chops wood, and I really like that. I hate working with lazy writers. That’s one of the problems I have with working with writers in Hollywood. Oh man, they just want to have lunches and stuff! That’s not true to all writers out there, but there’s just so many who want to worry about stuff forever rather than just sit down and write the damn thing.”

It reminded me of an interview I saw with Nico (Velvet Underground) and she was talking about the legendary musicians she thought so highly of, and the interviewer paused to marvel at how much quality work those musicians produced and released. She said something like, “Yes, that’s the way those people are.”

The best artists have mastered their psychology…they know how to get their inspiration…but they also work hard.

So if you want to create something, figure out what makes you tick so you can produce. Avoid the “artistic temperament” excuse because it really won’t impress anyone worth impressing. But more importantly, it won’t help you accomplish your dreams.

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Spirit and Truth Live Tomorrow!

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Listen to me with Joe Patch IV on Spirit & Truth Live tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. ET. Check this website out to see the listening options – it is broadcast via Radio Maria. Some of you will be able to listen via the traditional radio, but it also available online via streaming. Not around during the day? Have no fear! It should also be available on iTunes (for free!) for about 25 weeks after the show airs. You can reach Joe’s page on iTunes by going here.

I love doing shows with Joe because I get to talk about Catholic dating, but also lots of other stuff! You will hear me talk about Catholic identity and evangelization online, as well as St. Leopold – my next project is shaping up to be about him.

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If You Missed Me on Morning Air…

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

If you missed me on Morning Air this morning, the MP3 is available here on their calendar.

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On Women of Grace – All Week Long!

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Hey ladies:

I am appearing on EWTN’s Women of Grace all week long! The shows air at 11 a.m. ET, and the encores are on at 11:30 p.m. ET. The exception is Wed – it’s only on in the evening. I am told that the 11:00 a.m. showtimes are viewable online, and they will be archived and available at this link soon.

Here is a list of the episodes:

Monday, Jan. 14 – The Dating Scene and How to Meet Your Mate

Tuesday, Jan 15 – Is He the One? What Counts, What Discounts?

Wednesday, Jan. 16 – The Non-Negotiables for Life Long Committment

Thursday, Jan. 17 – Time to Say Goodbye

Friday, Jan. 18 – Here Comes the Bride!

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