It Takes a Village

About 5 years ago, I hit a very tough stretch in my life. Within a 6-month period, I lost my Uncle, my Mother, and my 15-year-old dog, Abby.

It seemed to be one devastating blow after another. And then I became sick. I was at a friend’s birthday party, when all of a sudden I passed out. I was standing with a glass of red wine in my hand, and literally fell to the floor mid-sentence.

Fortunately I recovered quickly and was admitted to the hospital overnight for observation.  My ongoing stress of “keeping it all going,” coupled with my exhaustion from constant traveling, finally led to an infection, that ultimately triggered a physical breakdown of my body.

It was during this time that I learned – really learned – the importance of surrounding myself with allies.

Two weeks after recovering from my physical breakdown, I seemed to have an emotional breakdown of sorts. I really started to freak out – about everything.

So I did what I would normally do, I called my business-and-life partner, Chuck. I unloaded a couple of truckloads of my angst on him. I whined. I complained. I bitched about traveling too much. You name it, everything was fair game, and I was on a roll!

To his credit, Chuck was compassionate and attentive to my needs for a good 20 minutes. Then he let fly with the best “Get your act together or let’s stop this business” tirade that I’ve ever received. Chuck went ballistic, but in a way that showed love, support, and nothing but encouragement.

Basically he told me that if I wanted to do good and meaningful work, he was there for me always – but only if I took proper care of myself; asked for help when I needed it; and took full responsibility for getting my act together physically, emotionally, and mentally.

We all need wake-up calls like that from time to time, don’t we? While it was really hard at the time, looking back I know that this episode in my life was a good thing.

What would your life be like if you considered everything that happens to you, good or bad, to be an ally for you? Think about your past and how situations that seemed horrible at the time eventually proved to have positive effects. I’ll bet you can come up with at least a few.

Chuck was the perfect ally during this troubling time for me. He was a true partner, one who cared enough to say, “Enough is enough!” He gave me empathy and support, and he also provided a reality check.

As a result of Chuck’s tirade, one of my calls for support went out to Dr. Carol Ann Malizia, a chiropractor and wellness expert. Little did I know the impact this woman would have on my health and well-being. She quickly became an ally in my life.

Dr. Carol Ann literally taught me to “feed” my true potential. As she says, “The time has come for us each to feed ourselves not only spiritually and emotionally, but also nutritionally.”

I value Dr. Carol Ann’s wisdom and knowledge so much that I asked her to be a speaker at the Bigger Game Expo. She wowed the crowd! She has the ability to present information in a clear, concise manner. She’s intelligent and authentic (I’ve compiled some clips of her speaking – take a look – it’s only 1:41 long. I find her so inspiring!).

And now my niece, Suzanne, and her husband, Erik, are also chiropractors and wellness experts, and very involved in my well-being. A holistic and natural approach to a healthier life is now the norm for me, and something that will help keep me on top of my game.

What allies do you have in your corner? If you already know, touch base with each of them as soon as possible and remind them who they are to you. If you don’t yet have your own dream team, I invite you to start. I find it helpful to create a list of the people in your life and, next to each name, write what sort of ally you hope that person is or will become. Creating a list will help make it real!

During one of my workshops, we were discussing the Allies square on The Bigger Game Board, and a participant said, “It’s ‘all-lies’ to think that we can get through life without allies.” We all laughed, and I thought it was a brilliant concept. Remember to look for allies in every situation – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and turn it all into positive energy.

Allies make the world go round!


Just Remember to Sparkle

Bob Pranga aka Dr. Christmas

Bob Pranga aka Dr. Christmas

Happy Holidays friends!

Just remember to sparkle; the glitter gets you everywhere! These are the words from my dear friend Bob Pranga, who was my very first coaching client 20 years ago!

Bob hired me because he was feeling lost. He’d been struggling to make it as an actor while working three jobs as a waiter, tour guide, and department-store clerk. Even with three jobs, he was $60,000 in debt.

We talked once a week for a year, focusing on his passions, his priorities, and the mark he hoped to make on the world. In our discussions, Bob kept coming back to one particular interest, and every time he talked about it, his eyes lit up…

While working for Macy’s, the famed department store in Manhattan, Bob had decorated the huge Christmas tree, which is an annual tradition and big attraction for the store. He decorated the tree so beautifully that many people complimented him, including the actress Mia Farrow.

Bob mentioned this several times during our first few discussions. Then one day, he added, “I love decorating for Christmas so much that I’ve even wondered if I could make a living at it.”

My Bigger Game alert immediately went off. “Why don’t you do that?” I asked. I explained to Bob that starting his own Christmas decorating business matched up well with his desire for the freedom to set his own hours and workload. “You love Christmas, and you love being independent; why not organize your life around those two loves?”

Within a year, Bob had established a brand as Dr. Christmas, Tree Stylist to the Stars. He found a great ally by attracting a good friend, Debi Staron. Their skillful decorating and engaging personalities have attracted a clientele that includes Ryan Seacrest, Paris Hilton, the Jonas Brothers, Kate Hudson, Whoopi Goldberg, Heidi Klum, and Leeza Gibbons to name a few.

His business has grown to also providing holiday decorations for movies and television shows such as Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story, Chuck, Veronica’s Closet, as well as the Home Shopping Network. Dr. Christmas also decorates for a corporate clientele that includes Wal- greens, Walmart, Tiffany & Co., The Beverly Hilton, Macy’s Herald Square, I. Magnin, The Walt Disney Studios, MGM, Warner Bros., and Paramount Pictures.

The moral of this blog post?! Anything is possible! Way back during my first coaching session with Bob neither of us envisioned his future success.

This story is a favorite of mine, and certainly fun to share this time of year. My hope and desire for you is that you realize your own passions and create a wildly fun and exciting life from that!

Sending you holiday blessings and love and joy for 2014…