Category: Mindset Mostly

This BS About Surviving the Holidays

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

The days are shorter.  There’s a nip in the air; although I have to say it seems warmer, everywhere I’ve been recently, than is typical.  The airports were packed yesterday.

It’s the week of Thanksgiving.  Already.


First, let me say this. Many people struggle through the holiday season.  Some are alone and feel isolated; some struggling with money, stress, relationships, or any other number of things.  Some people have lost family members, jobs, homes, or love in the past and the holidays can reopen those wounds.   This may result in a case of the blues, or clinical anxiety and depression.  Please don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance from a qualified mental health professional if you’re struggling.  That’s not what this blog is about.


I want to talk specifically about the “Survive the Holidays” madness.  In fact, I have so much to say, I’m breaking this blog into two sections! 


Part I:  The Craziness Itself



If I had a dollar for each of the “survive the holidays diet”, “3-day ‘pre-detox'”, “wrap”, “cream”, “pill”, “powder”, and/or “shake” messages I’ve seen come across my FB feed, in the last couple of weeks, I would have enough to celebrate Thanksgiving on a dive boat in the South Pacific with several of my friends and family members.



I typed, “Survive the Holidays” into Google and netted 18,900,000 results (0.31seconds) and another 338,000 when I added “how to” before that phrase.   And a “pre-detox”?  WTH?  Yup, it turns out that really IS “a thing”. That garnered me 656,000 results.  Check it out on google but keep your money in your pocket.  Your liver, intestines, kidneys, and lymphatic system are your body’s natural detox organs.


But, I digress.  On to surviving the holidays…..


Why do we worry about it?


PARTY!!!  From now until after January 1st, there will be parties, at work and within our other social groups.  It has been proven that we eat more in groups.  Everyone else is eating.  We eat mindlessly – putting food into our mouths, washing it down with tasty beverages, all while we’re talking.  That plate of food is gone before we can even muse, “Yum.  Meatballs!  I need this recipe.”


FOOD!!!  There are tasty treats everywhere.  Pie.  Cookies.  Donuts.  Egg nog.  Mashed potato with gravy and sweets with marshmallows.  Fudge and chocolates.  Wine and spiced cider. Cake.  Stuff we only see at this time of the year, frequently made by people we love.


NO SUN!!!  The days are shorter so we feel less motivated to exercises when it’s dark as we get out of work. Oh my gosh, I’m really struggling with this one!! It’s starting to get cooler – adding that to the early darkness, we feel more like curling up on the couch than going to the gym.  It also leads to craving more warm and hearty foods.  We drink less water than when it’s warmer outside.


STRESS, ANYONE?  We are under more stress to get it “all” done.  We have our regular commitments and responsibilities but now we also need to find time to go shopping, make food for and attend the increased gatherings, and ensure we are actively carrying on family traditions.  Stress increases cortisol which can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure, and increase fat storage.

Recipe for disaster



Do we need to worry about it?


I was actually shocked to find that numerous studies, conducted since 2000, show:


Holiday weight gain actually averages 1-2 pounds vice the 5-7 we frequently see reported.  

That said, it’s not all great news.  Even though it’s only 1-2 pounds, we typically don’t shed that extra weight later.  Next year, it’s another 1-2 on top of this, and next year, and next year.  The other thing worth noting is that, while there’s less weight change than many report, there may be increases in body fat.

New Year to Thanksgiving

Asking the right questions:


I.  If studies show the average weight gain is 1-2 pounds, why do we hear higher numbers then?  


II.  A better question might be:  where are you hearing the higher numbers from?


Answer:  Marketing based on fear that YOU will gain 5-7 pounds and you “shouldn’t”.   You’re hearing this stuff from companies that have some type of weight loss or “health related” product to sell you.  Marketing 101.


III.  If you do gain a few pounds, is it a “disaster”?  Probably not.  Will you be thrilled?  Maybe not.  Can you mitigate it starting now though moderation?  Probably.  Can you change it later though consistent application of reasonable nutrition and exercise habits?  Probably so.


Calling it a d.i.s.a.s.t.e.r. might be a tiny bit melodramatic.    



The holidays are times when most of us get to see family and friends we don’t see all the time.  We take more time to relax, chat, talk, and laugh.  These are all fantastic things!

The holidays are not something we should try to “survive”.



Be sure to check in for Part II tomorrow.

That will cover my top 12 suggestions for enjoying the holidays without just surviving them.

All Usually Leads to Nothing

Family & FIT  |  Debbie Hatch


Ever notice how “All or Nothing” most typically leads to nothing?


There are very few things in life that should be looked at in absolute terms.

Always.  Never.  100% or Nothing.




There are some, of course.

When I was helping supervisors write job performance standards, it was okay not to let the Pharmacist kill, through the improper filling of prescriptions, “no more than one” person per quarter. We didn’t ask the Pilot to “crash only a few planes” each year.  Doctors were expected to remove the correct body part EVERY single time.


So, sure, some things have to be absolute.

But very few.


NOT HAPPINESS… … …  screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-10-28-40-pm


In fact, the more we polarize our thinking, the more likely we are to become depressed.  To quote Paul Martin from his 1998 book, “The Sickening Mind:  Brain, Behaviour, Immunity and Disease”, “For a healthy emotional life, it’s not more extreme happiness we need, but more balanced emotions.”


Not all or nothing, but something in the middle. 


AND MOST CERTAINLY NOT OUR DIETS OR EXERCISE!. screen-shot-2015-07-12-at-6-35-29-pm


Unfortunately, many of us view them with this mindset. You know what I’m talking about:

  • If I can’t get to the gym every day this week.  I might as well not go at all.
  • I can’t spend a full 30-40 minutes working out today.  Why bother working out at all then?  What’s the point?
  • Ugh.  I ate donuts in the office this morning.  My diet is screwed.  Might as well start again tomorrow.  Or better yet, why not next Monday?


Health and fitness are NOT all or nothing propositions.


Success is found somewhere in the middle!!


  • I had salad and cannoli last week.
  • I drank a lot of water and two glasses of wine.
  • I ate meat, veggies, AND bread.
  • This past month, there were days I went to the gym and lifted heavy for an hour, days I dragged myself in and did the bare minimum for 15-20 minutes, days I took self-defense classes, days I did yoga, days I did bodyweight exercises in my hotel room, or went for a jog, and days I sat on my ass because I was just exhausted.


It’s what we do – over time – that matters.

Consistency is key. 


Doesn’t matter what you do, or for how long.  Do something.  Where you are with what you have available, at this point and in this place.

How Do I Juggle Chainsaws? How Can You?

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch 

Gettin' down to business

Gettin’ down to business


This week I am studying for my Virginia State Health, Life & Annuity Certification. It’s a pretty big deal, has cost me a lot of money and I really want to pass.  The test is Friday morning.


I will be traveling 22 out of 30 days in November.  I have course books to mail, slides to update, and a few more travel arrangements to complete. I also have two client consultations set for this week, need to finish my monthly financial report, follow-up on several invoices and finalize my business video series prep.



As an HR specialist who has studied organizational leadership and change management for years, a former supervisor, current business owner, mom/grandmother and fitness enthusiast, I have studied the affects and management of stress for quite some time; both formally and informally.  I like to think I have a good handle on it.  
I am human though, so of course there are days and whole periods of time when I struggle.


Last week two different people asked me, “how do you personally handle stress?” I’d like to take 5 minutes as I enjoy my coffee and reflect, on this Mindset Monday, to share what I told them.

This is me

            This is me


First, I take responsibility for some (maybe even much) of my stress.  I have a tendency to over-extended myself.  I know that and I’m working on it constantly.  As a recovering perfectionist, I frequently deal with a lack of self-confidence and, as a result, I volunteer for more than I should.  I take on a lot of responsibility.  I want to fix things (everything for everybody).  The resulting stress can feel like I’m juggling too many chainsaws and I’m going to drop one or more, at any time.  I used to feel that would be disastrous (hence why they’re chainsaws and not just balls) – like that would be the end of the world.



I’ve come to realize that’s just a story. It’s not really true.  I may still juggle chainsaws but I can limit the number, and if I drop one, I know life will likely go on.  I’ve made a ton of mistakes.  I’ve dropped some things unintentionally and made a conscious decision to drop others.  The world has not ended…..




                                I frequently make “Not To Do” lists.


The way I’ve learned to juggle chainsaws is to:


===>     ASSESS:  


Both feelings and goals.   Every morning I sit with a cup of coffee for 20-30 minutes. Before I look at social media or e-mail (those have a way of stealing hours from me before I even realize what’s happening) I reflect on my intentions for the day.  Things don’t always go as planned but I determine my 1-2 (no more) goals I would like to accomplish.  I write them down.  I then spend time thinking about all of the wonderful things I am grateful for today. I jot them down.


Some would call it meditation – I call it contemplation.


There’s no judgment here.  Telling myself I shouldn’t feel this way, that I’m being ridiculous, or even “it’s just a story” does nothing to make me move from that place.  Rather, I think, “Okay.  I’m feeling stressed right now.  Why?  What’s going on?  Are these thoughts valid or am I making a big deal out of something that really isn’t that big of a deal?  Is it really going to be the end of the world?”

This assessment can take some of the pressure off, and ground me in reality.


===> ACCEPT Personal Responsibility:


I accept the fact that I tend to disconnect from people and procrastinate when I’m stressed because it’s hard to focus.  I know putting things off only increases the pressure, but it can sometimes seem difficult to get started until I see that looming deadline.


I find it helpful to write down all of the things I have on my plate…in no particular order, just as the tasks and commitments come to mind.  From there I prioritize and focus on only one thing at a time.

  • This IS really important and it needs to be done before that.
  • This is something I’d like to do but it won’t make a difference in decreasing my stress.  I can do that later but it is not important today.


===> Mandate ACTION: 

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-8-55-18-amI set the alarm on my phone or the stove for 30 minutes or an hour.  I completely shut down e-mail, all social media, and I put my phone on do not disturb.  I work for the specified amount of time.  Then I might set the alarm again and focus on something else for 30-60 minutes and so on.

I DO build breaks, time for stretching/walking and my workouts into the day even (especially) if I’m super busy and/or stressed because I know that investment of time pays large dividends in energy and focus.


===>  ACKNOWLEDGE Success


Each evening, I think about everything that has happened over the day.  No matter how “good” or “bad” the day has been, I write down at least 1-2 things that made me happy (e.g. were “good) about the day.  I acknowledge areas I want to work on improving.  Not that they were “bad” but, “here’s something I can do better.”


Sometimes we get so focused on reaching a big goal that we forget to notice the smaller goals we’ve met along the way. If we remember to celebrate every small step we’ve taken, toward the bigger goal, we bolster our feeling of success, our confidence that we CAN “do this”, and our resolve to keep going.


If you find any of these tips helpful, please let me know.  In the meantime, I’m getting off the computer and down to work.  – Cheers.

3 Tips to Make Success a Little More Likely

Family & F.I.T. | Debbie Hatch


As my husband and our mini schnauzer slept “in” this morning, I got up early to make a coffee and reflect on the past week. There were three lessons that I was reminded of and I’d like to share them with you.  Three things I think are applicable to all of us and in most (although I’d venture to even say all) situations.


(1) WHEREVER YOU ARE, SHOW UP COMPLETELY.  screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-10-40-14-am-2

It’s hard!


We always have a million things running through our heads.  Where we need to be next, the project we’re working on, how we’re going to deal with xyz, a previous conversation (or disagreement) we had, that deadline, this thing I forgot to do, etc, etc, etc.


It’s hard!



I try my best to set all of that aside when I’m with someone else, or engaged in an activity. As odd as it might sound, I actually have to remind myself sometimes by saying (in my head), “That is not where you are right now. That is not what you’re doing.  You’re here….be here.”


Here are a couple of small examples:





– – When I’m In the Gym I put my phone on airplane mode.  I deserve 30-45 minutes to focus
on myself.   So do you!  Any emergency that might take place is still going to be there 30-45 minutes from now.  I’m not a First Responder, Law Enforcement, or a Firefighter.  This works for me.  If you simply can’t be out of contact for any period of time, at least set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” and identify only those few people whose messages and calls you want to come in, even when on this setting.






– – When I’m playing with my grandchildren, I try to spend considerably less time on my phone and/or laptop.  I’m running a company and also have several online clients.  I do need to look at my devices. That’s a reality.  I look at them far less, though, than I look at, and play with, the kids.  They are the priority in that moment.  I want them to know that.  I look at them when they tell me stories.  I ask them questions so they know I’m listening.




Yup, that sometimes means I’m not returning business emails or doing proposals/contracts until they’re napping, using the potty, or have gone to bed in the evening.




It’s hard!


You are not expected to know everything right away, and the absolute fact is you don’t!  In psychology, If you like the nerdy science behind the concept, read this…..  Maslow’s four stages of competence model relates four progressions.

Stage 1:  Unconscious Incompetence.  You don’t know what you don’t know.

Stage 2:  Conscious Incompetence.  You now are aware of the existence and the relevance of the new skill.  Now you know what you don’t know.

Stage 3:  Consciously Competent.  You can do the new skill or whatever but it requires conscious and deliberate thought to do it.

Stage 4:  Unconscious Competence.  This is where the skill has become so practiced that it enters the unconscious part of the brain.  It’s now “second nature”.




If you’re not really into the science, but just want the concept, let me come back to a more “everyday approach”.  When it comes to building a strong foundation, ditching the ego and taking things one step at a time is critical.


It’s hard!




From an aesthetic perspective, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds (using weight as an example is not my favorite but this is a goal many people set, so it makes complete sense to talk about it), that’s not going to happen overnight.  It’s not going to happen in a week, or four.


Focus on one thing you can do today.


It’s unrealistic for me to set a goal of “lose 5 pounds next week”.  I can control my actions but not how my body is going to actually respond to the things I do.



Rather, I CAN set a goal to

“Eat a serving of vegetables at two meals each day”

“Drink 6-8 glasses of water each day”

“Walk 30-45 minutes each day”

“Take a fitness/yoga class” or

“Lift weights twice a week”


Do you see these difference?  These are actionable steps I do have control over.



Don’t skip steps.  This is not a race. There is no due date.  These are healthy habits we want to develop for your entire life.


(3) CELEBRATE ALL OF THE VICTORIES: It doesn’t matter how small you think they are.


It’s hard!


We want what we want right now and when we don’t hit our goals, we become frustrated,depressed, and just give up.  Why bother?


Using the examples from above:

– – You didn’t eat vegetables at two meals each day but you ate them at 6 different meals last week.  If you don’t normally eat vegetables, that’s a victory!

– – You didn’t drink 6-8 glasses of water each day but you did consistently drink 4.  If that’s an increase from what you normally do, that’s a victory!  What you perceive to be little things, when applied incrementally and consistently, add up.



BOTTOM LINE:  The more fully we show up, the more we practice, the more time we take building a solid foundation of habits through steps of progression, the more likely we are to be successful.


I Have No Will to Fight

Family & FIT  |  Debbie Hatch



I saw a meme in my FB feed yesterday.  While I fully understand what they are trying to say, I disagree with the basic premise, so I’ve made some edits.


Yes, I have some scars.

Who doesn’t?


Yes, I’ve been through some things.

Who hasn’t?


Bad things have happened.  That’s true.  But, you know what, so so so many good things have happened too!  As I look back, it’s the times I was stressed, angry, and “disconnected”  – the times I made myself miserable, the times when I made myself feel like a victim – that I regret the most.  My life was difficult but no more difficult than anyone else’s.  I had problems.  Every single one of us does and those we endure are no less but also no more than those other people endure.  This is the human condition.




I can honestly say, “I don’t wake up every day ‘with a will to fight’.”  Even when I was being physically,emotionally, and sexually abused, I didn’t wake up every day “willing to fight”.


I woke up.  I wake up…with a tremendous will to “simply” live.  To enjoy this day.  To know that no matter what happens, no matter what anybody else thinks of me, I am doing the best I can.


But…..and this is incredibly important!!!!

But….to also remember that everyone else is ALSO doing the best they can.





Bad news: You’re not getting it! Good news: Neither is anybody else.

There is no competition for “the best parent” – you do it your way.  I do it mine.  We may be different.  We ARE different.  So are our children.  You might be more patient than me.  Okay.  I might be better at handling conflict than you.  Okay.  You provide different, more, or better things to your children.  So what.  I might provide more/better than you.  We are not in a competition.

==> I’m doing the best I can.  So are you. 

To quote Mark Mason (see information about his book at the bottom of this post) “Our culture today is obsessively focused on unrealistically positive expectations.  ‘Be happier.  Be healthier.  Be the best, better than the rest.  Be smarter, richer, sexier, more productive…  We waste life chasing a mirage of perfection and satisfaction. Our society, today, through the wonders of consumer culture and, ‘hey look my life is cooler than yours’ social media has bred a culture that believes having negative experiences like fear, anxiety, guilt, anger, etc is totally not okay.”


Things aren’t always positive.  We aren’t always happy.  Life is not just full of butterflies and rainbows.  And that’s okay.  Things go wrong.  People upset us.  Accidents happen.  “Constant positivity is a form of avoidance, not a valid solution to life’s problems.”



There is no competition for “the best spouse” and, I can also tell you there is no perfect one.  We do it our way.  Sometimes the problem is not the other person but, rather, our own expectations of what they “should” be like.  My husband didn’t think to pre-position my car at the airport yesterday so I had to call Uber.  He didn’t think to leave me a love note on the counter.  But he DID make sure I had coffee and Bailey’s in the kitchen.  He did call to see if I’d made it home safely.  He did come home as soon as he could.  There are plenty of things I haven’t “thought to do” for him.

==> He’s doing the best he can.  So am I.





Know what?  There is no competition for “the best body” either.  You don’t have to be the same size or shape as your sister, best friend, or that latest most popular celebrity.  Even when I WAS on stage – doing figure competitions – there was no clear cut “winner”.  Some judges want more muscle; some want less.  Some judges want the women to be more lean; some don’t want them “too lean”.  This can change from judge to judge and day to day.  I tell my clients that are competing to be her very best when she walks up there:  to be proud of what she has accomplished, vs how she stacks up to others.  I stopped pinning up pictures of other women, on my gym bulletin board, for motivation and started pinning up pictures of myself.

THIS is the only person I want to look like. THIS is my competition - and my inspiration.

THIS is the only person I want to look like. THIS is my competition – and also my inspiration.

Some days I love working out – other days I want to sit home and stuff my face with cheesecake (no lie!).

==> I’m doing the best I can.  So are you.


No, I don’t believe we need to wake up every day and fight.  We need to get comfortable with ourselves.  Stop fighting to “be this” to “do this” to “provide the best of everything” to “appear to be the best…..whatever it is.”


This is life.  Period.

There’s no do-over.

We have “good” days (e.g. easy, pleasant and care free) and crappy ones.  But we are alive.  We are!!!  Life slips from our grasp a little more every day.  That’s not philosophy – that’s a fact.


Another favorite quote from Mark Manson,  “We worry about what people are saying about us, whether our socks match or not, what color our birthday balloon is.  As we get older, with the benefit of experience and having seen so much time slip by, we begin to realize these things don’t really matter.  Those people whose opinions were so important to us in the past, are no longer in our lives.  Happiness is a form of action.  It’s an activity.  Not something that is passively bestowed upon you.  It doesn’t magically appear when you finally have enough money to add another room onto the house. You don’t find it waiting for you in a job, in a place, an idea, or a book. You don’t find it at all.  Happiness is a constant work in progress.”


I read (Audible) an amazing book last week while I was driving back and forth to work.  If you’re easily offended by cursing, try to let that go for just a little while because there’s a lot of it here – and it’s not something you want to listen to (without earphones) if your kids are around.

It’s excellent.  Excellent!!!!  My version is cluttered with multiple bookmarks.  If you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You Can’t Change What You’re Willing to Tolerate

Family & FIT  |  Debbie Hatch
Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 6.02.12 PM
I want to talk about something that’s been weighing heavily upon my mind.  Personal responsibility.
Specifically I want to talk about what we’re willing to tolerate, but also about giving ourselves (apparent) permission to just give up, and to lie to ourselves about it.

Let me begin by giving you a little background.  I sat down to write this about 2 hours ago…..

I wanted to keep it quick and simple.

PLAN A:  I tried to attach an audio file I recorded in my car a couple of months ago.  When I’m on the road, that’s typically the only place I find quiet time to think.  It said exactly what’s on my mind.  But the file was too big to attach.  ((Editor’s note – of course it is attaching just fine now, after I’ve transcribed it and moved on…the audio file is being attached about 9 HOURS after I wrote this piece.  Listen if you’d like.  Read if you’d prefer))
PLAN B:  I’ll just put it on You Tube and attach a link.  You Tube won’t let me upload it because it’s just audio.

PLAN C:  I’ll make a video.  How hard could that be?  Here I am 2 hours later, giving up.

*** NOT on the message.  Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 6.10.08 PM
*** NOT on my plan.
*** NOT on my goal of sending you a message.  Merely on my way for doing it.  My technique.

And  I’ve just realized, in the long run, that’s perfect!!  It makes my point perfectly!

Let me transcribe the audio file for you.
“We live our lives in seasons.  When I was a teenager, my life was an absolute disaster.  That’s not me being dramatic – it was a time of turbulence.  A broken home.  Legal battles and court hearings.  Counseling.  It was a huge mess.


When I was in my 20s, after a brief stint at being “THE” party girl, I sat about trying to straighten out that mess:  part of which I had been handed and part of which I created for myself.
I also had my kids when I was in my 20s.

In my 30s I was making a name for myself.  Things had turned around.  I was married and raising my IMG_4209children.  I was letting everyone know “I’m here!  I will be the best of the best – at everything!  No matter the cost.”
I worked mega hours.  I went to school.  I volunteered.  I won numerous awards.  Throughout that entire period of time, I was incredibly active.   I could eat whatever I wanted.  I could do whatever I wanted.  I was strong and capability:  physically, emotionally, mentally.  I was on top of my “game”.
IMG_4219 IMG_4221 IMG_4222 IMG_4223  IMG_4225 IMG_4227 IMG_4229

In my 40s I really became super energized, exercised all the time and began competing.  I won several
trophies – never the big prize but I certainly did okay for myself.

Now I’m over 50 and it’s a different part of my life.  I no longer feel like I need to prove myself – physically or in the workplace.  I’m comfortable and confident in knowing who I am.  I’m no longer willing to trade days of my life for a few more dollars or a wooden plaque.
I’m still physically capable but at this point, my mid-life point, I’m looking toward the future.  I want to keep myself physically capable, and strong, and mobile throughout the rest of my life so that when I’m in my 80s I’ll still be able to get myself out of the chair or if I fall down somewhere, I’ll have the physical strength to get back up.  All of these things require different skills and different training throughout our lives.  Not just for women – but for men as well.

Our – male and female – hormones are decreasing as we’re no longer in our child bearing years.  We’re tapering off.

So we’re adding more weight to our middle and we’re finding that we’re not quite as energetic as reused to be.
We don’t have as much strength as we used to have.

At this point we have a choice.
We can decide to just sit in the chair from here on out and let life happen to us.”

We can “just” get old.  We can decay.   We can laugh when our doctors tell us to change our ways.  We can make a joke of our health, like this friend has done.
Just because we make fun of ourselves in these situations doesn’t mean it’s a joke.  It isn’t.  Are bacon and eggs the problem?  Absolutely not!  I don’t like Waffle House but I occasionally eat both of those things.   The problem is that we’re not honest with ourselves.  Even when we’ve heard lectures (repeatedly) from our doctors, we shrug it off.  Oh well.  No need to change anything.
Could we die today?  Yes.  But it’s more likely we’re going to live to a ripe old age.  The average life expectancy in the US right now is 80 – 83.  The alternative is to decide to be the best 50 or 60 or 80 year old that you can be.  Decide to live life; to be vibrant and healthy throughout the entire thing!!!
I will not let my life end at 52.
I adore you!!  I want only for you to be healthy – to live a long life, to take care of yourself, and to be honest with yourself no matter how hard that might be.  I’m here if there’s anything I can do to help.

“I Could Never Do That” and Other Fallacies We Believe”

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch

As a public speaker, I have been on the road an average of 200 days a year for the past twelve years. Unlike many business travelers, I go out into the local area.

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque, NM

I see the sites. I check out restaurants, gyms, and local parks.  I drive a motorcycle (my own and, very occasionally I’ll rent one on the road). I run in the woods and hike

Northfield, VT

Northfield, VT

mountain trails. I try new things. I go new places, even in different countries.

By myself.
I’ve had several people ask, “how can you be so brave?  I could never be that daring.”  The statement always surprises me. First, because I certainly don’t see any of these things as requiring bravery. I am “just” living my life. Every day that passes has passed. Imagine if I simply sat, in complete solitude, in my room, for hundreds of days every year. More than a decade of my life would have slipped away from me that way.  This mother’s day would have passed that way – with me sitting in my hotel alone.  

How incredibly sad.  But it won’t go that way.  It doesn’t.  I am going “out there”.  I am experiencing life, fully and with a ton of passion.  I will NOT. I refuse…. to just sit in my safe little hotel, work on my computer, and look at the world through the window.

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

Another reason I find the question odd is that – while I do get nervous and, in fact, get scared sometimes, I do not ever want that fear to control my life. Could something happen to me? Sure.
Could I fall down the stairs at my hotel?
Could the plane crash?
Could I get in a car accident?
Could I simply die in my sleep?
Yes to all of those things. And I have little to no control over any of it so why would I spend even a few minutes of my life worrying about them?  That (a) will not stop it from happening if that is what’s to be and (b) detracts from today, even when nothing “actually” happened.  
Linville, NC

Linville, NC

When I was a much younger woman, my sensei told me,
FEAR is False Events Appearing Real.
I believe that with every bit of my heart.  
In scary situations, I repeat it to myself.  Over and over if necessary.  
“Could this happen? Yes. Have I been afraid of this before? Yes. Has this ever happened before? No. Is it likely to happen (aka am I putting myself in an unreasonably dangerous situation)? No.”
Moab, UT

Moab, UT

For example, I have a fear of heights. Or rather – that’s what I used to call it. Now I call it a fear of falling because that’s really what it is. I’ve been on a lot of high places. Have I fallen? Only that time I jumped out of the bungee bucket……..  [THAT was brave – and also more than a little crazy]….and I intentionally did that.  

<==  This picture (and every single one that I see of Delicate Arch) makes me sad because it is one day that I didn’t dare to cross the chasm (you can’t see it in the picture because I zoomed in) and stand under the arch for a picture.  
My heart was beating too fast.  My breathing was irregular.  I was overtaken by the fear.  I turned back and – ever since – I have regretted it.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get back there.  There may not be a chance for a “do-over” but if there is….I WILL go.  I WILL stand under the arch.  I WILL cross that precarious ledge on my hands and knees if I have to.  There will be no regrets next time.  
THAT is what makes me climb mountains, jump on ledges, and stand close the the edge. I want to experience life.  All of it!  I don’t want to see pictures and regret being too scared.
Salem, VA

Salem, VA

Finally, I think you sell yourself short when you say, “I could never”.  I think that’s a bunch of crap, but I hear it frequently.
“I could never find the time to eat right”
“I could never make the time to exercise”
“I could never spend the time taking care of myself”
“I could never be so daring”
“I could never do……that…..”
Hot air balloon (yup...afraid of heights!) Woodstock, VA

Hot air balloon (yup…afraid of heights!) Woodstock, VA

How does it make you feel when you say those words out loud?  
Does it empower you or make you feel less than?  
How is it that other people are doing it but you “can’t”?
Where is the thought coming from?
Is it left over from your childhood?  From a bad experience?  From something in your past?
What (or rather who – and you already know the answer if you’re honest) is limiting you NOW?
“I could never” is a thought.  It’s not a factual reality.
I guess maybe that’s how I am “so daring”.  I don’t think, “I could never”.
I think “I have never, but…”
[To be clear, there are, of course, some things outside of my realm of possibility.  At this point, I cannot be a professional MMA fighter (but I could train).  I cannot fly a plane (but I could take lessons).  I cannot be in the Olympics (but I can participate in the sports I love).  I’m talking about the every day things in our lives.  The things that many people are doing.  The things that you could do if you just gave yourself one tiny little bit of encouragement.]

“I could never” though is a story and it may be on perpetual repeat in your head.

In the woods, alone, outside Concord, NH

In the woods, alone, outside Concord, NH

What if you heard the thought though, and instead you asked, “why not?”
What if you asked, “Why do I think I can’t do it?  What would it take for me to accomplish this?”
What if you yelled back,
Oh ya?  Watch this!
I haven’t done it yet but I am willing to learn, and give it a try.
You’ve done things in the past you didn’t think you could do.
We all have.
You’ve given yourself a chance to try.
Sometimes you’ve even surprised yourself.
How did THAT make you feel?
The typical answer is something along the lines of “strong” “amazing” “empowered”.
Let’s have more of that!!!!
  • Try something new this week.
  • One thing.
  • One thing that may make your heart beat a little faster.
  • One thing that might scare you just a little.  Do it any way.
And share that experience with me.  Please!!!
<3 <3

It’s Ok for a Super Hero to Scream, “Enough!”

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch

Two different people asked me the same question today. “How do you make time for yourself? I’m struggling. It seems like somebody always needs something more (and more and more and more) from me.”

Super woman2
Oh, I used to be super-woman. I worked more than 40 hours a week, while going to school, raising two children, was a brownie leader, volunteered with cub scouts, worked on promotions, won awards for being an over-achiever, and, and, and, and……… all at the same time. Trust me when I tell you that I know about trying to be all things to all people.
Multi-tasker extraordinaire.  Check.  
Perfectionist.  Check.  
Well, guess what?  It’s all bullshit.
And maybe some think that I should apologize for cursing but I’m not going to.
That’s the only way to say it.
I still struggle sometimes but MUCH less than I used to for three specific reasons.
==> 1. I have accepted personal responsibility for my actions and I really do let the little stuff go.  
==> 2. I establish priorities for myself.
==> 3. I set boundaries and not only do I stick to those but I insist others do too.
Personal Responsibility for my Actions:
I ate crap (because it was quick and easy). I never exercised (I was much too tired and busy). I gave, gave, gave until there was nothing left. I was frustrated, exhausted, and resentful. I felt like crap.  Actually, I felt like a victim and a martyr. I had to be the most amazing mother, the best wife, the hardest worker.  The best.  At everything.  
What I was the best at was lying to myself.
No one else was making me work all of those hours. I chose to. How could I possible get angry when they didn’t appreciate it?
No one else was making me put myself last. I chose to. How could I be upset when others acted the same way I always had, and expected me to put myself last?
There is no competition.  Every mother is doing the best she can do.  So too, each spouse, sister, friend.
And by doing everything all by myself, I was actually judging the people I loved most.  We don’t think of it this way, but that’s what it is.  If I’m “so” good that I don’t need to ask anyone for anything, what am I really thinking (deep down) about my family and friends who ask me for help?  They’re not as good as me?
Just think about that for 3 or 4 seconds.
Establishing Priorities:Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 9.25.36 PM
I’m still busy.  I’m still running two (and a half) businesses. I’m still working more than 40 hours a week but I have stopped comparing my progress to anybody else’s.  I have stopped trying to “keep up with Jane” at the expense of putting myself dead last.  I have one life.  Even if I live into my 90s, it’s going to be a short one.  I choose now not to make myself miserable.  I choose to live my life, not just try to survive it.  And I really don’t care who likes who or thinks I’m not “working up to my potential”.  
I do some work but I also make some time for myself. Each Sunday, I make a list of one thing I will accomplish this week for each of my roles (I am a mother/wife; a friend; a business owner; a student, a trainer, etc). I include physical and personal enhancement goals. (I don’t get to the gym every day but I AM getting there 3-4 times a week. It’s non-negotiable. I can’t read every day but I am going to set a goal to have 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening to read a little).
When I go to the gym and/or have my personal time, I put my phone on airplane mode. There are very few true emergencies and the fact is, if someone can’t reach me for 15 or 30 minutes, that is not going to make or break any situation that I can think of.
I insist on at least a few hours, if I can’t fit in a whole day, of pure recreation.  I have a lot of work to do this week.  I worked all day yesterday.  Today I took the entire day off.  I went to Alcatraz.  I had a nice lunch.  I went to Sonoma.  Years ago, I would have felt guilty.  I would have felt like I “wasted” my day.
The truth is: when I take time to recharge, I work even harder when get back to work.
Setting Boundaries:
I’ve stopped over-promising, and many other things.  Read this blog I wrote about my “To Don’t” list and implement a few things.  When a customer or client asks for something at 4 o’clock this afternoon, it doesn’t have to be done this second or before I go to bed. I now send responses like, “I received your message and will get the response to you asap but it probably will not be until this weekend.” When my family, friends, or clients ask me to do something for them, I let them know I will but I also let them know when “after my workout” “tomorrow when I’m not teaching” “this weekend”.  FullSizeRender[3]
And other people are okay with that.  We think they think we need to drop everything the second they ask for even something minor.  If they do, it’s because we have foster or created that expectation.  We have allowed it.    But…. I’ve found the unreasonable expectations are typically being placed by me, not by the the other person.
Try it.
This very moment, write down something you will do for relaxation this week AND something you will do for yourself every single day (that might be 30 minutes in the gym, a 20 minute walk, 15 minutes of reading…whatever you choose) and then do it.  Let me know how it goes.  Sincerely.

Foreboding Joy

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch

Have you ever experienced foreboding joy?  You know, that sense when everything is going great, you had better watch out.  You can’t let yourself feel too happy.  You need to be prepared and on guard.  Things are too good.  Something bad is about to happen at any moment.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.21.48 PM

I first heard the term in my on-going Brene Brown, Strong Rising, mindset course.  Twenty years prior to this class, I remember experiencing foreboding joy.  I didn’t know what it was called at the time.  We had left Maine for the first time and were living in Texas.  Brent was going to school, the kids were enrolled in day camp, and I had nothing to do for the first time in my life.  It was unsettling.  We had family game nights each evening.  We laughed, played, and simply enjoyed each other’s company.  We shared stories of cacti and scorpions.  We wore trash bags to a rodeo in the a thundershower.  We ate ice cream, frequently; watched small planes fly, and learned that running to the oil well you could see might mean you’d be running for ten miles.  Life was fantastic!!!


I worried, constantly.  Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.24.38 PM

I knew something bad was going to happen.  I didn’t know what or when but things were too good.  Something bad always happened.  I pushed the thoughts away until they started manifesting themselves as nightmares while I slept.

Over the years, I’ve really worked on eliminating this.  It does nothing for me – worry or not, what is going to  happen is going to happen.  By worrying when nothing was happening, I was not allowing myself to feel joy in the moment.  Little by little, I’ve gotten better but, sometimes I still have to consciously think about it.



This was the case as we headed to vacation.  This trip had been planned for a decade.  We were super excited!  We’ve both dove around 300 dives.  But….on the flight from Fiji to Guadalcanal, I thought, “I’m excited but also quite anxious.  I feel worried and nervous – not about anything in particular.  Just overall.”  I talked to Brent about it and he reassured me everything would be fine but said he felt the foreboding joy too.  Neither of us could quite put our finger on it.  It got worse for Brent through the first day of diving.  Once I got in the water, it got much better for me.  By day two, it was gone.


The trip was positively amazing and I’m so glad we didn’t spend any more time allowing worry to steal our happiness in the moment.

Travel Log:  Day  4  Guadalcanal


The van picked us up from the airport and our guide, Leonard, his teeth stained red from betel juice, gushed about his homeland.  The Solomon Islands is an island nation located in the southwest Pacific, 1,500 miles west of Fiji and 1,200 miles northeast of Australia.



Leonard shared bits and pieces of information as we drove from Honiara to the dive boat, and beamed as he told us how proud “everyone” was of their tiny rugby team making the World cup.  I noticed trash, the price of gas ($6.57 / liter) ramshackle buildings, and people, every where.  The city of Honiara did not seem like a place I would care to spend much time and it must have showed on my face because, again, Brent reassured me.  “I’m sure you’re wondering what I got you into.  Don’t worry.”


Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.43.48 PM


I wasn’t worried but I WAS trying to take everything in!  This is a 3rd world country where people are merely trying to survive.  I wondered how many tribes lived here, what it was like during WWII, and what the people’s life expectancy is currently (the answer is 67).  It is important to note that as time went on, we were told by multiple people not to judge the SIs by Honiara.  It is not indicative of the small island villages.  After having visited several of the villages, myself, I whole-heartedly agree!


We arrived at the dock and were shuttled to the dive boat (mv Bilikiki – a 125 ft long ship with 24 ft beam and 10 ensuite cabins) where we met Chaba (originally from Hungary) and his wife Daniella (originally from Venezuela); dive masters and managers of the Bilikiki for the past four years.  There was just enough time to settle in and unpack before we left the harbor at 1830.


We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have been joined by:

Group photo

  • The original owner, Rick – who bought this sunken boat from the government years ago, and restored it, with no business plan and no aspirations to “get rich”.  He had never even heard of The Solomon Islands and was merely following his passion and dream “to scuba dive”.
  • The current owner, Sam – who, although he doesn’t have Rick’s incredible story, is carrying on his legacy for both a passion in diving and in helping the people of these islands.
  • Two couples from Denver – one of whom sold their house, put everything they own into a 10 x 10 storage unit and have been “homeless” living everywhere from Japan to England, Africa, to the US for the past five years – and loving it!
  • A 65 year old apple farmer and his wife – who started their business with a small vegetable stand beside the road and now employ close to 100 people in one of the biggest orchards in upstate NY.  Both jump out of helicopters to go skiing!  Dennis had only completed his open water certification before coming on this trip.  He was OVER-THE-MOON excited every single dive!!!  It made me very happy.
  • A 72 year old gentleman from Long Beach who takes two to three of these trips each year, and had amazing stories to share.
  • A mysterious guy from Phoenix, who never would answer the question “what do you do?”
  • A lady from the Australia prosecutor’s office who has been stationed on Guadalcanal since the Solomon’s civil war in the early 2000s.  She told us the most prevalent crimes are domestic violence and given the small population, per capita, murder.
  • A couple from Los Angeles and a young couple from Mexico.

Meeting people like this was icing on the cake.  I loved their passion; the stories of success for “just” following a personal dream; and the shared experiences.  I felt it ignite my own passion….for life.

Tomorrow, we dive.

Is the Quality of a Vacation Defined by How Little We Do?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.


Time is an illusion.

Before you shake your head, close this tab, and start thinking I’ve completely lost my mind, hear me out.


It’s such a weird thing, isn’t it?  I have been back in the United States for four days.  Four days…and yet it feels like four months!  Part of that, no doubt, is working through an 18-hour time zone difference and three days of hormonal headaches but time is like that anyway.


When we’re waiting for something special, time seems to drag.  We wait.  We wish time away.  We want it to be “that” day right now.  When something special has happened, though; the day has finally come, and gone, time seems to race by without allowing so much as a moment for reflection!  I clearly remember my children being two and four; I remember conversations we had and things we giggled about.  Factually, they’re both in their thirties with children and lives of their own.

Tomorrow is too late and yesterday is gone.

That’s not just a euphemism.

It’s a reality. How many things have you planned to do “tomorrow” that you’ve never actually gotten around to doing?  How many yesterdays have passed?

Getting shots before travel.

Getting shots before travel.


My transition to “real life” after my three week vacation has been difficult, at best.  To be sure, it wasn’t you’re “traditional” vacation.  Two of the three countries we visited are considered to be “third world”.  Poverty and disease are real issues.  The order of the day is survival – in the very real sense.  I didn’t come back to the US thinking “Wow.  We’re incredibly fortunate.” To be honest, I already knew that.


No.  I came back thinking, “the amount of stuff we have, the amount of time we spend hustling for no reason, the amount of time we waste on stuff that doesn’t matter, and the amount of time we stress over pointless crap, is absolutely ridiculous.”  I can see how going from vacation to these revelations could seem a big jump so maybe it’s best if I start at the beginning.


Travel Log:  Days 1-3



We started by spending three days in Fiji, a small island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  We didn’t visit the “real” Fiji though.  We stayed at an Americanized resort on Denarau Island; we had internet, top-notch restaurants and amenities.  The lesson didn’t start here but the story did.  These are notes from my journal, as they were written originally.



“It’s so weird that after I shared pictures of Brent and I at the gym this morning, I received several messages telling me I should ‘just enjoy my vacation’.  That I ‘shouldn’t worry about working out’.


When did enjoying vacation, life, or anything else for that matter, become synonymous with doing absolutely nothing?  When did “having a good time” mean stuffing myself with food and drink while lounging in a lawn chair?


To be certain, many of our fellow travelers seem perfectly content in that mode:  moving from their beds in the morning to sitting at breakfast.  They didn’t even enjoy the short stroll along the ocean.  Rather, they summoned the on-duty golf cart to pick them up and shuttle them about.  After breakfast, it was back to the golf cart, back to the room to prepare for a full day of sitting in a chaise lounge by the pool; having food and drinks delivered chair-side.  Dinner was provided via shuttle service and after sitting there, it was time to retire to their suites for television and bed.


I have zero judgment for these people.  Zero.  I mean that.

Palm trees

Gorgeous! But I have no desire to just sit here for 12 hours.

But that, to me, doesn’t sound like a good time.  It sounds incredibly boring.


It’s odd to me that because I didn’t have a completely sedentary vacation, some assume I didn’t enjoy myself.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.


In my typical day-to-day, I’m working.  All day.  I get up around 5 or 530 and go to bed around 1030 or 1100.  I’m tired.  When I’m working, bombarded with commitments, and stressed, at the end of the day it’s easy to feel like just collapsing.  More often than I care to admit, I don’t want to (in fact, it feels like I can’t) think.  I don’t want to do anything.  I don’t want to talk to anyone.  I just want to sit.  Quietly.


During vacation, I’ve gotten up at 330 in the morning but I’ve also been in bed by 8.  This has changed my interaction with the day entirely.  I wake up full of energy.  I have meditation time.  That word’s been over-used and misunderstood for a very long time.  Meditation is merely reflection.  Quiet time.  Thinking.  I write during that time.  (In fact, it’s 6 a.m. and I’ve already been up for 2 ½ hours).




Just before sunrise I walk the beach.  Not power-walking.  Just a casual, slow, relaxing stroll.  Once Brent wakes up, we’ll walk just over a quarter mile to the small gym.  We’ve been working out together for 20 minutes, walking back, and showering before we walk to breakfast.




IMG_7295We went scuba diving; walked a couple of miles to town for coffee and lunch each day; did stand-up paddle boarding. We read.  We relaxed.  Every evening, we walked the mile and a half from one end of the beach to the other, and back, while enjoying the sunset…and we napped.  Brent in the air-conditioned room and me in the outdoor hammock. It was amazing to have that time and simply rest, caressed by warm ocean breezes.  I ate…I had a little Fijian bread pudding for breakfast each day (in addition to fresh fruit, eggs and/or sliced turkey).


I didn’t deprive myself but…


I did reaffirm that when left to my natural devices – no commitments, no responsibility, no appointments, no time to be anywhere specific – my mind and body love to exercise.  Not because I have to but because it feels good.”