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A Fresh Coat of Paint

Jocelyn Kuhn

Paint

This week I'm redoing my kids bedrooms to get them ready to go back to school. We've got some big stuff going on in our household. The boys are getting their own rooms after 11 years of being attached at the hip, and I am one happy mama!!! 

In preparation we've been cleaning out the junk and even decided that both rooms needed a fresh coat of paint. Ah... is there anything better? I love walking into a freshly painted room. It just looks and feels amazing. 

This got me thinking this morning as I rode away on my bike, sometimes we need to give ourself a fresh coat of paint. No not literally, but sometimes we need to redo our routine... give ourself a complete overhaul. 

Sometimes we get stuck in the rut of everyday life, and we need to do something to freshen up our game plan. Maybe you need to create a new morning routine or maybe you need a pause midday for some meditation. Maybe you need to overhaul your entire game plan. 

I recently decided my fresh coat of paint was revamping the way I look at health and fitness. Instead of an all or nothing approach like I sometimes tend to have I decided to focus on the little things and try to do those things more often. I've committed to riding my bike every weekday morning, running 3 times per week and this week I'm adding weights back into the mix. I'm giving myself that same feeling I get when I walk into that freshly painted room - the feeling of satisfaction. 

What's your fresh coat of paint going to be? 

Progress = Happiness

Jocelyn Kuhn

Progress

Have you ever felt like you're a hamster running on one of those wheels? You keep running and running, but no matter how hard or fast you go, you always end up in the same place? I've been there in my life many more times than I would care to admit.

We live in such a fast paced, instant gratification society that it's easy to feel like a hamster, constantly spinning, but never really getting anywhere. Then we compare ourselves to the falsities of peoples "real lives" with reality tv shows and social media.

But what if those days of just "spinning" really are adding up to something beautiful and magnificent? What if those seemingly meaningless days are the days that our greatness is born from? What if we just don't see it because we are too busy judging ourselves for not achieving our potential fast enough, or in a grand enough way? 

The one thing I know for sure in my life is that "Progress equals happiness." I remember hearing Tony Robbins talk about this several years ago, and I try to live life with this in mind. Whenever I steer off course, have a lazy day or feel like I didn't do anything to push toward my goals I feel disappointed in myself. Unfortunately, when too many days like that run together - well, that's my definition of depression. 

The good thing for us is that even without thinking about it, we will never be like the hamster spinning on the wheel. We choose daily what's important to us, and then we either move closer to or further away from those things. Each day we wake up we age just a little. We PROGRESS through the journey of life. Whether we like it or not, each day above ground is another opportunity to proactively transition from birth through so many different stages of life, ultimately back to the place from which we came. 

The only question that remains then is this - WHAT ARE YOU PROGRESSING TOWARDS TODAY? When you think about your day, are the actions you are taking pulling you closer or further away from the life you want to live? 

 

Take a Timeout

Jocelyn Kuhn

My siblings and I enjoying a moment during a photo session we had done for our Mom when she was in the hospital. 

My siblings and I enjoying a moment during a photo session we had done for our Mom when she was in the hospital. 

My beautiful mom recovering from her accident. 

My beautiful mom recovering from her accident. 

Sometimes in life you have to take a brief timeout. Timeout from your routine, timeout from your demands, timeout from social media, timeout from life as you know it. Sometimes you get to choose these times and sometimes they chose you. 

I started off this summer thrown into one of those times. As some of you may remember I was gearing up for an amazing adventure to Haiti back in June. I had my bags packed and ready to go. I was really looking forward to going there and making a difference. I was looking forward to the growth and change I knew would come from that experience. It was going to be amazing, but life had other plans for me. 

The amazing view from our hotel lobby in Puerto Vallarta.

The amazing view from our hotel lobby in Puerto Vallarta.

June 18th I was out to dinner with friends when I received one of those horrific calls you pray you never get; my mom had been in a head on collision and was being life flighted to the hospital. From there she was life flighted to one of the best hospitals in the state where she would undergo several surgeries. In short Haiti was definitely out, and instead I spent the remainder of June in and out of the hospital, working with my siblings to keep life moving forward, and trying to spend at least a little of my time with my family at home. 

Sometimes in life you need a timeout. When you're faced with adversity somehow all the things you go through life thinking are important become a whole lot less important, and the only thing that matters is being with your loved ones, living life fully, and doing your best to help one another. Thankfully, my mom is making a full recovery. Thankfully she had amazing doctors and she's a badass. Thankfully she is now walking with a walker. I could go on and on, but I'm just grateful she's alive. 

Picnic lunch at Mother/Son Camp - our tradition continues! 

Picnic lunch at Mother/Son Camp - our tradition continues! 

It's taken me a couple months to get back to my routine, and I'm ok with that. I'm ok with consciously continuing my timeout to enjoy making some memories in Mexico with my husband and having fun with my kids. I'm ok with hitting the social media pause button and putting my new coaching business on hold for a moment.  

I was forced into a timeout, and I'm grateful for it. It's given me time to step back and reprioritize my life. It's given me a new appreciation for life and for my family. It's given me the chance to be a little more carefree than I usually am. But now I'm ready to get back to the grind that I know and love so much. Even with a few weeks left before school starts back up for my kids, I'm ready to get back to my routine. My timeout is now over. It's time to start making some progress again! 

 

Tapping into the power of the Subconscious mind to change our lives

Jocelyn Kuhn

 

Influences of the Subconscious on Daily Living

subconscious mind

According to Sigmund Freud, the human mind contains a three-tiered level of awareness. The three levels are broken down into the conscious, the subconscious and the unconscious, which work together to create the reality that we experience. The conscious mind affects our ability to focus and our ability to imagine what is not real, while our subconscious is a storage point for recent memories ("Freud’s Model Of The Human Mind | Journal Psyche"). The subconscious mind holds information that is used on a daily basis such as habits, feelings/mood, belief and value filters, sensations from our senses and thoughts that reoccur. It makes up approximately fifty to sixty percent of our mind, is the quickest of the three in terms of processing power and holds short-term daily functions. The unconscious mind holds past experiences and memories that have either been consciously forgotten or repressed due to trauma. Our behaviours are formed from these unconscious memories and dictate the habits that we retain in our subconscious. 

What makes the subconscious mind unique is that it is perpetually working. In addition to controlling vital processes like our heartbeat and blood circulation (The Unbounded Spirit), the subconscious mind is constantly drawing on previous memories and emotions from our unconscious to fuel our daily habits or interpret our daily choices. It does this solely because the conscious mind tells it to (Unleashed). For instance, an individual who has the habit of avoiding dogs that they see on the street probably does so because they have had a negative experience with a dog in their past. This negative experience is stored in the unconscious mind and when an individual consciously sees a dog, their subconscious mind then remembers the incident and pulls the emotions from their unconscious mind. This will then dictate how the individual would respond on a day-to-day basis– in this case with fear and avoidance. However, one does not always have to recall a negative experience. This is where understanding how our subconscious works becomes a powerful tool in our daily lives as we can choose to influence what thoughts, emotions and habits live in our subconscious.  

How You Can Change Your Subconscious Mind to Live a Better Life


Since we understand that our conscious mind directs and instructs the subconscious mind, which obeys in a literal fashion (Unleashed), we can reprogram our subconscious to carry out positive thoughts, actions and ideas. Rather than allowing the negative thought cycles to perpetuate fear, stress and anxiety, we can use techniques to override them, resulting in a positive and happier life.

One way of doing this is through visualization. Since our brain takes in data as imagery but communicates back through emotions, we can use visualization to depict us achieving the desired outcome. Our subconscious cannot distinguish between what is real and what we are imagining (Unleashed), so we can reinforce positive emotions and outcomes through visual repetition. This is similar to the repetition used in positive affirmations, another technique used to override negative beliefs or values. When you consciously tell yourself that you are “healthy,” “happy,” or “successful” your subconscious mind will work to reflect that belief as it will try to connect you to what you desire even if it currently looks vastly different. 

Another way of doing this is through auto-suggestion or self-suggestion, where you consciously tell yourself what you would like to see happen but attribute an important emotion to it. For instance, you have a year-end presentation to make at school, which means you need to catch the bus for 8:00 am, you can convince your subconscious mind to make it happen with or without an alarm clock by associating a strong feeling of urgency with the event. This goes the same for phrases like: “I will have a good day,” or “I am happy today,” or, “I feel beautiful today”. The key idea here is to be fully present and aware of how you are consciously directing your mind. When you purely focus on this, you can begin to see how you can divert away from the negative programs you may be operating from (Richards). 

If you are having trouble making the necessary changes, doing guided meditation or partaking in hypnosis can help open up the subconscious. Both states will help you become relaxed, help you clear away any clutter and be mindful of your present moment. Once you are able to accomplish this, you can begin to make shifts in your emotional subconscious patterns ultimately leading to a more aware and possibly better life.

 

 


Works Cited

"Freud’s Model Of The Human Mind | Journal Psyche". Journalpsyche.org. N.p., 2015. Web. 15 Apr. 2017. 

Richards, Chip. "Four Ways To Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind". UPLIFT. N.p., 2016. Web. 15 Apr. 2017. 

"Understanding How The Subconscious Mind Works: Change Your Mind, Change Your Life | The Unbounded Spirit". The Unbounded Spirit. N.p., 2017. Web. 15 Apr. 2017. 

Unleashed, The. "The Conscious, Subconscious, And Unconscious Mind – How Does It All Work?". The Mind Unleashed. N.p., 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.

 

 

Using Cognitive Enhancement Training to Better Our Lives

Jocelyn Kuhn

 
Cognitive Behavioral Training

From a very young age, we are taught to keep ourselves healthy. This is mainly taught through healthy eating and regular bouts of exercise to keep physically fit. However, not as much attention has been paid to keeping our brains healthy and active. In the past few decades, technological advancement and a wider understanding of mental health has given cognitive enhancement or rather brain training, a boost in popularity. With “more than 50 studies” (Doraiswamy and Argonin) done on the benefits of brain training, there have been some encouraging results on how cognitive behavioral training and neurofeedback can enhance our performance in core functions such as memory, task switching and response inhibition (Enriquez-Geppert, Huster and Herrmann). When these areas are enhanced, certain tasks such as remembering our shopping lists, speeding up our ability to process sensory information, or reducing how stress affects us, can increase our quality of life and allow us to live our very best lives. 

 

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Training Change Our Brains?

 

First and foremost, cognitive behavioral training looks at changing our patterns of thinking. It can be applied to a wide range of issues, from sleeping difficulties to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, to attitude and relationship problems. This type of training is short-term and is goal-oriented. The importance of the training is that it looks at how problems stem from our interpretation rather than the situations that bring them on. 

 

When unhelpful or negative pathways of thinking are solidified in the brain, they allow individuals to believe untrue thoughts because of how the thoughts make them feel. This is called emotional reasoning and commonly creates error resulting in negative cycles of thought ("Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Really Change Our Brains?"). For instance, if someone walks by that you know and they do not say hello to you, this may make you feel rejected. If this has happened before, you may be tempted to avoid that person altogether and it may make you believe that they do not like you. If this happens with enough people, you may withdraw completely due to believing that you are an unlikable person. However, this is most likely not true and is only believed to be true because of the feelings that reinforce the idea. Another example of this would be a fear of spiders as a diagnosed phobia. When you avoid spiders, it relieves you of stress, but it reinforces your fear. This will lead a person to always believing that they are afraid of spiders and contribute to the stress associated with coming face to face with one. By using therapy to gradually tackle the fear, the individual learns that the problem stems from their anxious thoughts about spiders rather than their actual interaction with them.

 

The reason that cognitive behavioral training is brought about as an enhancement technique when discussing brain training exercises, is because it can actually change the prefrontal cortex of the brain. According to BBC Science, the amygdala and the hippocampus, two regions of the limbic system that process emotion and traumatic memories, have shown to be overactive in those with mental health conditions such as phobias. However, studies show that cognitive behavioral training can reduce the “over-activity in these two regions to normal rates after a course of CBT” ("Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Really Change Our Brains?"). 

Utilizing Neurofeedback to Directly Exercise and Train the Brain

 

Neurofeedback, on the other hand, is a form of biofeedback that measures brainwave patterns. Your brain cells produce electricity to communicate with your body, which creates electrical activity in the form of patterns. These brainwaves can be measured with an EEG or electroencephalography, where sensors are placed on the scalp. The activity is then picked up and relayed to a computer screen, where a therapist can then set training criteria for the individual to complete. Often this is done in the form of music notes, animation or a video game. This feedback is of the brain’s own “moment-to-moment” status. Throughout multiple sessions, the brain will consolidate what it learns from the training, shifting itself into a better-regulated pattern. This process helps the brain normalize its own brainwave patterns which then allows the brain to enhance performance and correct cognitive deficits. Eventually, feedback will no longer be required as the brain will be able to produce the trained configuration on its own. 

 

This type of brain exercise can help multiple conditions including sleep disorders, headaches, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, anxiety-depression spectrum and help those with brain injuries. However, it is wildly used to enhance language comprehension, boost memory and improve visual and auditory processing power.

 

Useful Tools For Enhancing Your Daily Life: Neurobics and Handheld Devices!

 

With cognitive therapy and neurofeedback in mind, there are several useful tools that you can use at home to help train your brain for the better. 

 

  • Try using neurofeedback handheld devices. The EmWave2 and the Muse are two devices that can help you improve your mood, improve your cognitive performance and manage your brainwaves. The Muse is a headband that allows you to work with your own brainwaves and become more aware of how to control them. The EmWave2 trains you in recognizing whether you are in an incoherent (red light) or coherent state (green light). The device is about the size of an iPod and tells you with light signals, whether you are in a negative state or not. This allows you to become more aware of negative thought cycles brought on by stress and anxiety and can actually help you become more mentally fit through consistent use.

 

  • Try new experiences, like sitting in a different chair at the dinner table or brushing your teeth with the opposite hand. When you force your brain to take on new experiences, you are better able to expand how well your brain processes tactile information. When you stick with your regular routine, your brain doesn’t get stimulated because the tasks or choices have become second nature.

 

  • If you have a mental health condition, try brain training games. Although there is a lot of controversy around these, they have been shown to increase brain performance more-so in individuals who are suffering in their emotional and mental health states. The important thing to remember with these is to do them consistently and to change them up so you don’t become adjusted to them.

 

  • Other options include getting enough sleep, engaging all of your senses at the same time, learning to dance, meditating, taking up a creative hobby and getting enough physical exercise. In the end, as long as your brain is getting stimulated and establishing new neural pathways (neurobics), you can increase how quickly it can process and work.

 

So the next time you forget something or want to be able to think quicker on your feet, think about the small changes you can make in your daily life to train your brain. By participating in cognitive brain exercises, you can sharpen your mind for the better. In order to live your best life every day, you need to make sure you are putting in the work, both physically and mentally. 


Works Cited

"Can Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Really Change Our Brains?”. BBC Science. N.p., 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2017.

Doraiswamy, P., and Marc Argonin. “Brain Games: Do They Really Work?”. Scientific American. N.p., 2009. Web Apr 13. 2017.

Enriquez-Geppert, S, RJ Huster, and CS Herrmann. “Boosting Brain Functions: Improving Executive Functions With Behavioral Training, Neurostimulation, and Neurofeedback. - Pubmed – NCBI.” Pub Med. N.p., 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

 

 

How A Personal Coach Can Help You Create Your Best Life

Jocelyn Kuhn

 
Life Counseling

Whether you are looking to develop healthier habits, looking to unlock further personal potential or are just looking to identify your dreams, a personal coach can help cultivate actual results. Life coaching is an umbrella term that is used by those in the industry to describe the many areas in which a coach can help you.  From healthy eating to personal finance, to career development and a balanced life, a life coach will know what questions to ask you based on where you currently are. This means that a life coach can help almost anyone, as coaching can be done face-to-face or on the telephone with great effectiveness as there is little to no traveling required. If you feel unfulfilled, want clarity on where you should be going or are just looking to create better focus and accountability, then you should be looking at hiring a coach.

What Problems Can a Coach Help With?

Tony Robbins Quote

In most cases, coaches will help you solve problems that are usually brushed to the wayside. For instance, feeling grumpy or disheartened in the morning about waking up on a work day may not seem like such a big problem. However, it could be a greater underlying feeling of being unsatisfied, whether that be with life in general or specifically with your work choice. A life coach will help you find more meaning in life and help you balance out your well-being across several areas to ensure that you live a satisfactory life. Some of these areas may include the following problems:

 

  • You have not kept up relationships
  • Your life feels meaningless
  • You are not passionate about your career choice
  • You do not feel like life is engaging
  • You don’t have any clear goals in mind for your future
  • You want to find a new career path but don’t know where to start
  • Your patterns do not support your goals
  • Your vision is overwhelming or you have a lack of vision
  • You want to take steps to better your life but you have trouble with accountability
  • You are constantly irritable
  • Your confidence is not where it should be
  • You want to develop more purpose and feel happier

 

Almost everyone at some point in their lives will struggle with one of the above problems. These problems can muddle what is really important to you, like doing what you love or appreciating what you have. Since there are many factors that contribute to an individual’s fulfillment, knowing how to cultivate the clarity needed to strengthen your personal foundation is a powerful tool that can accelerate you towards your goals. 

How Can Hiring a Life Coach Benefit Me?

Developing the best life possible requires clarity, growth and passion. The number one benefit of hiring a life coach is the motivation that comes from working with someone who is invested in you. This passionate energy will help boost your confidence and allow you to release any negative energy that you are holding onto. This will allow you to walk away and make clearer decisions in your day to day life that will put you on the right track towards success. Other benefits include:

 

life counseling
  • A coach will help align your personal goals with your desired lifestyle so that you can look at potential dreams without a cloud of negative energy
  • A life coach will help balance out your personal and financial objectives so that they are in harmony with one another
  • A life coach can assess obstacles and eliminate them through a step-by-step action plan
  • They will provide you with creative and innovative ideas that can help you discover more about what you are passionate about whether that be in creative hobbies or in your career choice
  • They can help you develop a different attitude towards challenges or hardships and provide you with a positive outlook on harder life decisions
  • They will engage you in your interests, which can revitalize your life and help you discover what brings you joy
  • They will challenge you to grow in exciting ways, whether that be through professional skills or through just reaching out to a new friend
  • They will show you how to stay committed to yourself. When you have to report to your coach every week, it makes you stay motivated and disciplined to carry through your ideas
  • They will boost your confidence by maximizing your accomplishments and highlighting your strengths

 

In addition to providing you with insight, a life coach will stand by you and support you through your toughest times and will help celebrate your successes as you achieve them. It is important to acknowledge the obstacles that you overcome and having someone to share these accomplishments with empowers you and helps you create momentum. This momentum can help increase your energy, allow you to establish boundaries, help you expect more from others and even help you eliminate draining tasks.  


Works Cited List

Allen, Mary. "What Is & Why Hire A Professional Life Coach | Inner Peace Dynamics". Lifecoachmary.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 14 Apr. 2017. 

Charlet, Nicolas. "22 Reasons You Should Hire A Life Coach To Help You Achieve Your Goals". Online Professional Life Coaching Services: Nicolas Charlet. N.p., 2017. Web. 14 Apr. 2017.

 

 

 

 

How the WORST day of my life SAVED ME

Jocelyn Kuhn

 
Loss of a Loved One

 

You know, as young people we grow up in this culture. We are taught from such a young age, the key to a happy and successful life is to work hard, go to school, get good grades, get involved in as much as possible because that is going to look good on a college application. Then, after high school, if you’ve been successful thus far, hopefully you’ve made your way into college, and the big reward for that… Taking on on average, $37,000 of student loan debt by graduation. Oh… and of course, you’ll graduate with your degree, the degree you picked more out of necessity than passion. I mean, if you’re graduating with all this debt, you’ve gotta have a way to pay it all back, right? 

Then, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you are going to go get a job. According to recent studies, the average college graduate makes roughly $50,000 a year coming out of college. So, lets just say you’re above average, and you make $70,000. Man, life is probably feeling pretty good for awhile. You worked hard, and now you’re achieving the American Dream. And days turn into months, and months turn into years. And you come home each night, turn on the tv or play some video games just to escape your reality for a little bit. And each day, as this routine plays out, you die a little inside. But the thing is you don’t even realize it because you watch the ads on the tv, and you think, “ Aw man… Thats what I need right there. When I get that new car I’m going to be so happy!” 

“When I get a girl or guy like that… I’m going to be so crazy in love. Then I’ll be happy.” 

“When I can finally afford that big house in the suburbs. Then I’ll be happy.” 

So, you work and save, and keep going to the job you hate. And you die a little each day, just waiting for that illusive moment, the moment when you’re finally happy. 

But, you see, that moment doesn’t last very long. That moment becomes just another segway into the next achievement because the happiness you get from that one thing sure as hell doesn’t equate to all the blood, sweat, and tears you know it took you to get to that place. And since we’ve been conditioned to believe that MORE stuff, BETTER stuff, will be that one thing that finally makes us happy, we keep seeking, we keep working - climbing, grinding, achieving. 

Then, we get that call. That one call that changes everything. The one that puts it all into perspective. And you never think that call is going to come for you, but one day it does. 

“Hi, I’m so sorry, but your father passed away last night,” or “I’m so sorry, but the cancer spread.” 

And just like that, all that stuff that you spent your whole life acquiring doesn’t mean shit. 

Fortunately, that call came for me a month after my 22nd birthday. It’s only in hindsight that I can see the benefit of going through such a catastrophic event, but what was the single most painful moment of my life thus far, has woken me up to the truth of what’s really important in my life, and for that I am grateful. 

October 27, 2007 was an ordinary day. The day before I had spent time taking my dad to go see a chiropractor for his back. He’d been experiencing some pretty significant back pain, so he needed an adjustment. That morning my mom had called and asked if I could come have lunch with her a my brother. My brother, who was a senior at the time, had tried to commit suicide a month prior. He attempted suicide the night before the culmination of everything that I thought was my life ceasing to exist. It was the climax to a horrible nightmare that had taken over my reality. How could a life that seemed so perfect go so terribly wrong?

And life had been pretty perfect. It had been the type of perfect that you really don’t consider any alternative reality. I was the oldest of five children. I was born to two very loving and devoted parents, parents who did everything they could to provide us every opportunity for success. To an outsider, I’m pretty sure our family looked like the Cleavers. Well, maybe more like the Cleavers mixed with a touch of Gene Simmons. 

I used to watch that show, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, every once in awhile, and I always thought of Gene Simmons as someone who reminded me a lot of my dad. He was someone you could tell had a deep love for his family, he was intelligent, but he also had charisma and loved living life on the wild side. He is kind of one of those “larger than life” personalities - too hard to explain, too hard to understand. 

So, that was my family, a little Cleaver meets a little Simmons. Still, it was pretty close to my idea of perfect. Gradually though, by my senior year of high school things began to shift. I’m still not sure what that shift was, but my dad had been making significantly more money than he had ever made, and with money came options, opportunities (both good and bad) and ego. Our life slowly started resembling, as my good friend put it, “A high class Jerry Springer show”. 

I’m not going to lie. I loved it at first. We’d take trips to Vegas, and as an 18 year old who rarely got carded, it was AMAZING! We’d stay in pent houses, sun bathe, shop, drink, gamble, and then do it all again the next day. What’s not to love? To put it mildly, I think if we would have had a camera rolling for a few years, the Kardashians would have had nothing on us. 

Well, just as it seems to have for them, it came at an expensive price. I didn’t know it at the time, but my dad began an affair with a stripper who he’d often put up in the next hotel over. He was dealing with drug money. He was dealing with investors who had no clue what he was doing with their money. To any outsider it looked as if he’d found an amazing way to make money day trading, but his world was about to come crashing down around him. 

Unfortunately for us kids, we’d get to experience the fall out. My parents divorce was final 6 months prior to what would have been their 20th wedding anniversary. My dad was indicted for money laundering and mail fraud around the same time. The life I knew and Ioved was forever gone. 

It took about two years from the time my dad was indicted to the time of his sentencing. It was a stressful time to say the least. Beyond dealing with having to talk to federal prosecutors about my dad’s case, I was also dealing with a failing marriage I hurried into at 19, and the birth of my two beautiful, but very busy boys. I could hardly cope. Every day I felt like I was waking up to continue living this nightmarish hell that had become my life. 

My dad continually assured us kids that the most he’d get was a year in Federal prison, but that was on the bleak end of things. He was certain he’d end up doing far less or possibly even house arrest. 

In the early morning on the day of my dad’s sentencing, I received a phone call from my mom. She was on her way to the hospital where my brother was being taken in an ambulance. She had no idea what had happened yet, but my brother, a seventeen year old child, had tried to commit suicide. When his body started shutting down he thankfully got scared, and called 911. To say it put all the other hardships into perspective would be a massive understatement. 

That’s how I ended up at lunch the day before the hardest day of my life. My mom called me and asked me to come have lunch with her and my brother. I ended up bringing my dad along because, despite his reassurance that he’d have a short sentence, he had been sentenced to five years in Federal prison, and he was scheduled to surrender the following week. He had come to live with me until his surrender date, so I didn’t feel like I could just leave him there. 

Lunch was good. After my brother’s suicide attempt we all put a lot of effort into healing. We all went to the beach together. We had some great conversations, and my parents really did everything they could to help us kids heal. We had a great time at lunch, and made plans for the next day. My dad hadn’t seen the younger kids for a few days, so we had planned to go see my youngest brother’s football game, go to my sisters volleyball tournament, and then they’d all stay the night. It was the last weekend he had to spend with us before his surrender date. 

After lunch my dad and I ran a few more errands. We ended up taking my boys to McDonald’s for dinner and then went to rent a movie. We had a lot of time in the car that day, and somewhere along the drive I expressed to my dad that I knew we’d get through this stuff together. I was finally feeling a little twinge of hope again, like there was an end in sight. I remember specifically telling him, “I’m just glad it’s just jail. We can still visit you. We can still talk. At least it’s not permanent.” 

I was mainly referring to the fact that, just a month prior, I watched my little brother lay lifeless in a hospital bed, so in comparison, this jail stuff seemed like pretty easy stuff now. 

I still remember his response, “Sweetie, you are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. Even if it was more than jail, even if it was death, you’d be just fine.” 

I remember thinking, “Are you freaking kidding me? There’s not a chance in hell I’d be fine. I’d be a train wreck.” 

He had a lot more faith in me than I had in myself. We had a really great evening together that night. We’d spent the past two years arguing, fighting, and finally healing, and now I was so happy to be having this time with my dad before he surrendered. 

When my then husband came home from work that night, my dad and I finished our movie, he kissed me on the forehead and told me he loved me, and then retired to the area we’d set up for him in our basement. I fell asleep shortly thereafter, not knowing the next day would change my life forever. 

When I woke up on the morning of October 27th, my day started pretty ordinary. My now ex-husband yelled something about telling my dad to turn off the tv before he goes to bed as he left for work. I got up and started getting the boys ready for all the activities of the day. Once my two year old son, Landon, was ready to go I told him to go downstairs and wake up Grandpa. After awhile he came back up, telling me grandpa wouldn’t wake up. 

I didn’t think much of it, but went to the bottom of the stairs and yelled for him to wake up. NOTHING. 

“Dad, wake up! Dad… DAD!”

I had been on the phone with my mom, going over the days events. I began to worry. 

“Mom, dad won’t wake up. I think something’s wrong!” 

“Well, if you’re really worried, call 911. I’m sure he’s fine. He probably took a pain killer for his back, and is slow to wake up,” she says.

“I don’t think so. I’m going to call.”  

I hang up the phone and for the first time in my life I dial the numbers, 9-1-1. Even as I’m doing it I feel completely silly. I’ve always been a worrier. I keep thinking, “He’s going to wake up and be so pissed that I’m freaking out like this.” My worries are interrupted by the voice on the other end of the line.

“9-1-1. What’s your emergency?”

I can barely speak, and when I do I start to lose it. I touch my dad’s arm. It’s stiff and cold. I’m losing it. I’m holding my son in one arm, the phone in the other, and the operator tells me to move any objects that could be blocking his airway, and that she’ll walk me through CPR until medical services arrive. 

This can’t be happening. This has to be a nightmare. I can’t handle anymore. My son is upset and crying, and I’m trying to simultaneously listen to the operator on the other end of the line, while moving a pillow propped behind my dad’s head. 

I touch his face. It’s cold and stiff. Just like his arm, but this time, my worst fears are setting in. I start to cry. The operator is telling me to remain calm and begin CPR, and I can’t do it. Then she asks that God awful question that no one ever wants to be asked, “Do you think he is dead?”

As I sob on the phone, I can’t bring myself to admit the worst. I just cry. Finally she says, “Maam, why don’t you head outside to meet the EMTs.”

I grab the boys and head outside where medical services are now arriving. They rush past me, asking where the subject is located. As I follow them in and head back down the stairs, I catch a glimpse of the EMT’s face. It’s that knowing face. The face that only happens when you know there’s nothing good coming next. And then I see him mouth, “He’s gone.” 

“Nooooooo!” My knees hit the floor, I drop my son. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe, I can’t fucking breathe. 

From there, I start the task of calling family, and dealing with the daunting reality that my little brothers and sister no longer have a father - dealing with the fact that God must really think I’m a bad ass because this is about my breaking point. 

The next few weeks were a whirlwind of emotion. Finding my dad lying lifeless on my couch was horrible, telling my younger siblings - that was almost unbearable. 

But, you know what, my dad was right. Time has passed, and while I would give anything to see him again, I’m doing ok. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. As hard as it has been, I feel so incredibly blessed to learn at such a young age, just how precious life is. I’ve learned not to leave things unsaid. I’ve learned to appreciate even the simplest of moments with the people I love. I’ve learned I have incredible strength. I’ve learned that I am happiest when I am giving of myself and using my unique talents and gifts to help make the world a better place. I’ve learned to go within myself to feel connected to the infinite source of love - The Universe, God, whatever you want to call it. I’ve learned to continue to come back to a positive outlook on life because it just feels better. I’ve learned that I can be a source of inspiration for others who experience pain and loss. I've learned that I can have bad days, TERRIBLE days, and still have a GREAT life. And I’ve learned that despite hardships, I can choose to live my very BEST LIFE, despite any circumstances that happen in my life.

 

The wonderful world of podcasts

Jocelyn Kuhn

 

The other day I started my day, much like I normally do… Meditation, gratitude, reading and working on my new business. I was excited for another episode of The School of Greatness, a podcast by Lewis Howes in which he interviews world influencers and brings thought provoking ideas and information to his listeners. 

 

I usually listen to his podcast while driving - much to my children’s dismay - and while doing things around the house that I find incredibly boring, i.e. laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc. 

 

I always find the stories shared inspirational and thought provoking to say the least, but every once in awhile, he or one of his guests drops a serious bomb - one of those ‘Aha’ moments that makes something that seemed so complex seem so simple. 

 

That day was one of those days! Lewis Howes interviewed Mo Gawdat, author of Solve for Happy, Chief Business Operator for Google [X] and someone who knows a thing or two about pain (he lost his son in 2014). 

 

If you aren’t yet subscribed to The School of Greatness Podcast, I HIGHLY recommend subscribing, or at the very least - listening to this episode! 

 

I’ll just share one quick little revelation - I’m still just soaking in all the truth that was shared in this episode. At one point during the podcast Mo and Lewis were talking about the ever evolving question of WHAT REALLY MAKES PEOPLE HAPPY? 

 

Mo ended up sharing such a profound yet simple equation for happiness that it blew my mind! He said, “When our expectations match our reality we are happy. When they don’t, we aren’t.” 

 

WHAAAT! Seriously, it’s that simple? I was floored by the simple statement that seemed to fully explain the equation for happiness! 

When our expectations match our reality, we are happy. When they don’t, we are not.
— Mo Gawdat

 

So really the to become happier the equation is this simple: Happiness = Expectations +/- Reality. Do you know what this means? The only two factors that then play into happiness are expectations and reality! 

 

Unfortunately, there will always be many things in our reality that we cannot control, so that leaves us with one variable that we can change to become more happy. 

 

WE MUST MANAGE OUR EXPECTATIONS! 

 

I seriously can’t stress this enough - if you can spare an hour of your life - you’ve gotta listen to this episode! I promise you’ll be glad you did!

 

What I've learned from 10+ years of coaching volleyball

Jocelyn Kuhn

I’ve been a volleyball coach for a fairly long time now. I’ve coached every age from 12 year olds up to 18 year olds; once I even coached kindergarten basketball. I don’t claim to be an expert, just someone who cares and has always wanted to make an impact in the lives of young people. I was fortunate to have some amazing coaches and mentors in my adolescent years, and a big part of who I am today is because of those people. 

 

This will be my last year coaching volleyball (at least until my own kids are all grown and out of the house), and with one month left in the season, I’ve been doing some reflecting and thought I would share a few thoughts: 

 

  1. Not ONE player I’ve coached is now playing professional volleyball (at least to my knowledge. It’s not that I’ve never coached a good team or had great winning seasons, but I’ve never had any of my past players go pro in volleyball. Sure, some have been able to go to college and receive money to play the game, but after that not one has progressed to the next level. 
  2. While none of them are pro players, they are all (from what I can tell) great people who are doing amazing things with their lives. Many of them are now adults and I greatly enjoy seeing their Facebook status updates showing all the wonderful things they are doing in the world (and very rarely do they have anything to do with volleyball). As a coach I’m most proud of the small part I was able to play in their development. 

 

So my point is this… As coaches we are much more than just a person who can regurgitate information on how to pass a volleyball or shoot a basketball. We are influencers. Most of us will never coach a player that goes to the pros. Very few of our players will make it to the college level. But we can make a significant difference in their lives. We can teach them things like commitment, sacrifice and work ethic. We can teach them to work together toward a common goal despite their differences.  We can be there for them as they deal with family issues or the loss of a loved one. We can invest a little extra time into those kids who maybe need some support or encouragement. 

 

As a coach it’s been my privilege to impact the girls I’ve been able to serve. I’ve learned so many wonderful lessons from my players, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to change lives through the art of coaching. 

 

If you are new to coaching, my only piece of advice is this… remember that soon the game won’t matter, but you have an opportunity to teach your players so many tools and skills that do matter. Invest the time to create good rapport off the court. Find a way to connect. Let your players know that you care about them as a person more than as a player because most of them won’t play past high school, and even fewer will ever make it to the pros. Winning is fun. I’m not a participation ribbon type person, but I’ve had to create some different bench marks for success at certain times. Just keep it all in perspective, and do what you can to make a positive impact.

 

To all the players I’ve been blessed to coach, past and present, thank you for teaching me! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey! Keep doing the amazing things you are destined to do! 

 

How struggle made me strong

Janessa Mast

Growing up I had always been a very active, outgoing, headstrong and impulsive kid. I grew up with two loving and devoted parents, in a home where I felt cared for, valued, and safe. I was surrounded by four siblings who did things like play football in the back yard or dressed me up as  and let me perform concerts. My childhood was full of adventure and creativity.

I had experienced money very early on - vacations to Las Vegas and Palm Springs regularly, shopping sprees spending hundreds on clothes and beauty, and rarely being told no to things that I wanted. I was in every way privileged, and my life just felt perfect. I was your typical manipulative pre-teen, and little did I know, it was about to get a lot worse.  

My parents got divorced when I was twelve, but at the time I selfishly thought of it as two Christmases, two birthdays and two Thanksgivings (that's what my friends told me anyway). I was okay with my parents divorcing, because I knew that the love they had for me wouldn’t change, as I was reassured of that hundreds times. My dad moved two minutes down the road and my parents maintained a really great, healthy and loving relationship towards each other.

October 27, 2007 was the day my struggle began. Years had passed since my parents divorced, and I was splitting 50/50 time with both my mom and dad. My parents and older siblings didn’t tell me much about what was going on with my dad's constant stress and fear - other than my dad might have to face prison for two years MAX for money laundering and mail fraud. At the time, I had no idea what that crime even meant. I just knew it was bad because Peter from my Elementary School couldn’t come to outdoor school because my dad being one of the volunteers…. But that never changed my love for my dad. He was my hero. He cuddled me to bed at night, called me his Girly-Q, played with me, and was very active in my childhood; he always provided me with everything I needed, even discipline, and boyyyy did I need that (like when I stole beanie babies in second grade, boy was that fun ha!).

At this time, I was emotional because I was getting ready to say goodbye to my dad for what he said was only going to be two years (weeks later, I found out it was 5 years in a federal prison). I really don’t think I registered what that even meant, or would mean in my life. I just remember crying myself to sleep countless nights at the thought of losing my dad for even two years. It was hard, confusing and just didn’t make sense that they would take away MY dad because in my eyes, he was my hero, and would never harm anyone else.

Weeks went by, and I remember waking up to a normal, crisp, sunshine filled October day. My dad had promised me the night before that he would be at my volleyball tournament the next day. Then we would go to my sisters after my tournament and spend the night there for a family game night (he had moved in with her in preperation to leave to prison). He wanted to spend as much time together as possible before he left for prison. Carli, my best friend had spent the night and the plan was that my mom would take us to our volleyball tournament the next morning.

I remember that morning my mom walking into my room saying that Cathy, Carli's mom, would be taking us to the game because she had to go handle something with my dad. She looked worried, but still confident that everything was going to be okay, as mothers always do. I remember calling my dad on the way there-no answer. Calling my dad after my first game-no answer. Calling my mom after my second game-no answer. It was in that moment I knew something was wrong. Neither parent was answering me, or present at my tournament. Minutes after my second game Cathy came and told me she was going to take me home. I felt worried that something was really wrong. I thought my dad might have been taken to the hospital, or had to go to prison early. But nothing could prepare me for the news I was about to receive.

 

My mom, sister and brother all got out of the car after I arrived and they didn’t say anything to me as we walked to into our house. When we walked into the house, I sat down in the living room with my mom, sister and brother Jared. I think that at the time, my mom couldn’t get herself to shatter her twelve year old, innocent baby girl's world. She probably couldn’t even try to begin to explain death and how it wasn’t just a thing that happened to Stephanie's dad from my fourth grade class. It was something that just happened in a random morning - for no reason - and she couldn’t get herself to deliver the worst news of my life. So, Jocelyn stepped in. To be honest, once Jocelyn told me that my dad died, I kind of blacked out.

I don’t know if I cried or if I sat in silence (I am sure she could tell you), but what I do remember was walking outside down to the gravel road on the back side of our house and calling my dad's cell hundreds of times, bawling and talking to his voicemails. I remember specifically sitting there and saying, “Dad pick up, I know Jocelyn and Mom aren’t telling the truth, there is so much I still need to tell you-please pick up dad. I love you. Please just pick up. I know you love me too so just pick up”. It's been years since he has passed and I still cry reading and writing that, I imagine myself again on that gravel road shattered, broken and alone. There is really no way to describe getting that news, other than a sharp needle piercing your heart down the middle. I felt like I could literally feel my heart ache, and I never knew I could cry so hard that I would go silent.


Now, lets fast forward just a few years. I was fifteen, angry as hell and suicidal. I became the victim of life, and wanted everyone to know how bad I had it. I hated myself. I hated my family. I hated my step dad even more (because I felt that I was betraying my dad). I hated school. I hated volleyball. I hated anything that wasn’t sleeping because sleeping was an escape from reality. But if you saw me at school or volleyball or with my friends, you would have thought I was the happiest teenager. I definitely put on a face to the outside world which felt so exhausting. Teachers used to tell my mom how great I was to have in class. I always excelled in sports, got good grades, and had a wide assortment of friends. Once I got home I could finally let it all out, and ask anyone in my family, it wasn’t pretty. My brothers would always tell me I was a bitch. My sister would fight me and lecture me. My mom would always try to dig at a deeper problem, but I refused to let anyone in. There was nothing you could have done to make me do, think or say different.

I felt helpless, confused, exhausted, paralyzed, discouraged and bitter. I lost faith in anything that had to do with religion because, in my mind, I felt like if god was real he wouldn’t be inflicting this pain on me. I just felt like nobody could understand me. No matter how many times you tried to tell me that there were people who had it worst, I felt that I was alone in the world-without a dad to take care of me. I was in a vicious cycle of an addiction to victimism. Everyone that I told my story to - why I was the way I was - told me how sorry they were for me. So, I kept them around because that is exactly what I wanted to hear. I didn’t want to hear how to actually fix the problem. Not yet at least.

 

Years went on of this constant battle. My mom and I argued daily, I let my step dad know how much I hated him. At one point I even told my school counselor he was abusive even though he wasn't. I was suicidal. I resorted to smoking lots of pot (sorry Grandma) and trying to get attention from any males I could. I crashed my sisters brand new Escalade (yes, with no license or permit), and stole from her - plus LOTS more that I am sure my sister will share someday. Lets just say,  I was on a roller coaster with a cloud of fog surrounding me.

 

It wasn’t until I got to college that I had the “aha” moment that changed my life. I had decided to stop playing volleyball, and I went to University of Oregon to chase the four year college experience. This was going to be a way that I could show my family what I could do. It was my chance at a new beginning without anyone telling me what to do or how to do it. I partied my ass off (somehow I still got good grades), and I got involved with guys who were emotionally abusive. I gained almost thirty pounds my freshman year. I was just as miserable, but in a different city.

I believe it was a Friday night, and I was getting ready to go out and party - my normal weekend routine. I was going out with this guy that I was infatuated with who was, looking back now, pretty terrible for me. I knew that every girl wanted him so I felt lucky and glamorous to be “chosen” by him (terrible self esteem, I know). We went out to this party and got lost in the craziness of the night. Eventually, I tried a pill I had never tried before called Xanax. I had already drank more than half a fifth, so the night got blurry.

At about three or four in the morning, we eventually stumbled to our car to go home. Next thing you know we crashed into a parked car and fled the scene because we were scared of getting a DUI. My adrenaline immediately kicked in and in that moment, everything changed. Nothing else mattered. Once we got back to the house I remember looking at myself dead in the eyes and all the thoughts rushed into my head... What the hell are you doing with your life Janessa? Is this how you are going to live your life? Look at yourself, you look lifeless. You thought coming here would solve your problems but your problems just followed you here and multiplied. Get your shit together.

This was it. This was my last chance.

I felt like my dad was sending me a message, and from that moment on I commited myself to changing who I was, how I perceived life, the actions I took and the people I surrounded myself with. I sought out the help I needed to grow into a genuinely happy individual. And I didn’t want to be just happy for the day, or the weekend. I didn't want to find happiness when I drank or got high, or when I was getting attention from a guy. I wanted to be happy when I was alone with myself.  I hadn’t felt that in years, and it was time to make that change. I really couldn’t say why it was that moment because I had experienced numerous scary moments before then, but something just clicked for me. I decided to change, and I am so thankful I did.

 

"I am in a long term relationship with the man of my dreams."

"I am in a long term relationship with the man of my dreams."

Fast forward. It's been almost ten years since my dad died, and I am the happiest I have ever been. I have completely changed my life around. I lost the weight, stopped smoking and drinking to numb my pain, and I feel physically and most importantly, MENTALLY healthy. I am playing volleyball at a school I love while pursuing my undergraduate in Health and Human Wellness. I am in a long term relationship with the man of my dreams. I have abundant and meaningful friendships. The list really goes on. I am able to be grateful for all the little things in my life, and go to bed feeling blessed (lets get real... not all the time, but most days).

I have now realized that my struggle gives me my purpose. If I could have my dad back, I would - one hundred thousand times over. I miss him every day and I wish so badly he could be here to watch all these exciting things unfold in my life, but because of his death I ventured down a CRAZY journey that all lead me here. I now have faith that there is a bigger plan because without experiencing that pain, I wouldn’t be able to help others in the way I do now. I wouldn’t be able to have empathy and sympathy for other people's hard times. I understand now that I can overcome ANYTHING that feels unbearable or unimaginable, because I have done just that.

I am here now living MY BEST LIFE DAILY. I wouldn’t trade my life, my heartache or my happiness for anything. I have learned that I am happiest when I am giving to others and when I am able to share and experience other's pain, suffering and joy with them. I am my best self when I am connected. I have learned to look to a higher power - whatever that may be (god, religion, yoga, meditation, the universe or energy) - to work for me and not against me. I miss my dad but understand that losing him physically has brought me to this exact moment. Sharing my story with you, and ultimately making me feel fulfilled.

If you have made it this far, thanks for supporting my journey. I love you all endlessly! Let's connect and do some awesome things TOGETHER.

 

Tony Robbins

Janessa Mast

 
Jocelyn and I during a break-right before we went to the stage to start dancing!

Jocelyn and I during a break-right before we went to the stage to start dancing!

A couple of days ago, my family and I attended the National Achievers Congress. We got twelve hours of knowledge thrown at our hearts, minds and soul! We got to watch all different speakers talk about what has helped them become successful, and it was one of the best days of my life. I'm not going to lie, I initially bought the ticket to watch my sister in all her glory. Since I was a young kid, she has been absolutely freakin' OBSESSED with Tony Robbins, the biggest life success coach in the world.

When I was younger I wanted nothing to do with him or any of his ideas that my sister constantly shoved down my throat. Little did I know, I too would become completely obsessed with him as well. There is really no way to describe him, he has a contagious energy that is uplifting and euphoric. When he stands by you, he somehow makes you feel extremely valuable and important to the world without even speaking. He lights up a room with DEEP conversation and pushes you outside your comfort zone, forcing you to grow. It was epic and I loved every second of it.

I cried, laughed, and reflected A LOT. Even better, I got to see my sister cry from pure happiness when he walked out-like a little middle school girl at Justin Bieber. It was amazing to say the least.

I could be here ALL DAY talking about everything that I learned or was reminded but here are a couple:

  1. SELF AWARENESS IS EVERYTHING- we have to get clear about who we are, what our strengths and weaknesses in order to live successfully. We must be authentic to who we are and understand what makes us unique and then build on that.
  2. ACT IN SPITE OF FEAR- Fear is one of the biggest things that hold us back from our success. You can never really get rid of fear, but you can act WITH and FOR it. If you stay afraid of fear, then you will never overcome fear. We have to get out of our comfort zone, and reach our capacity for change. Once we reach this, we will be able to break through the threshold of control.
  3. ENERGY IS EVERYTHING- It is a state of being, and in order to create our best life daily we must give out the same energy we hope to receive.
  4. TAKE CONTROL OF OUR PERCEPTION- We don't experience life, we experience our interpretation of life. The way we view the world is ESSENTIAL to our happiness. It is a choice on how we interpret the world, those who live in it and what happens to us. Take control of your own happiness by shifting your perception!
  5. KNOWLEDGE IS NOTHING WITHOUT PURPOSE & FULFILLMENT- I can sit here all day long and deliver good content to you guys, but if it doesn't make me genuinely feel happy and fulfilled then it will never achieve success. It won't feel authentic, it will just feel forced and your audience won't buy in to the great things you have to say!
  6. ALL OF IT MEANS NOTHING WITHOUT ACTION- We have the choice to do ANYTHING we want, but all of it means nothing if we don't take massive action on our dreams.

These are the things I found MOST important, and really hit home. It was such a fun day and I feel so incredibly blessed to have experienced such amazing moments with my family. He has impacted us so much, we can only hope to bring half the energy and inspiration he brings to his audience, to you guys! Thank you Tony Robbins for all that you bring to our lives!

 

Jason (Jocelyn's Husband), Jocelyn, me, our beautiful mama, and our brother Jared!

Jason (Jocelyn's Husband), Jocelyn, me, our beautiful mama, and our brother Jared!

 

Learning to LOVE the skin I'm in

Jocelyn Kuhn

I learned that I AM BEAUTIFUL just the way I am.

MY VALUE AND WORTH ARE DEFINED BY SO MUCH MORE THAN THE NUMBERS ON A SCALE. My worth is defined by the type of person I am, by the way I treat people, by the mom I am to my children and the wife I am to my husband. My worth is defined by my daily actions, my love for humanity, and ultimately MY WORTH IS DEFINED BY MY DEEPLY SPIRITUAL CONNECTION TO MY CREATOR AND EVERY LIVING BEING. 

 

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