Sunday, November 30, 2003

Life's Miracles

A miracle is defined as "any amazing or wonderful occurrence".

I suppose it's all in how you look at your life and events that have occurred. Albert Einstein was quoted as saying "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is."

I'm not sure I agree with that, though I know I've experienced more than my fair share of miracles.. It's amazing what comes to mind when you're "breathing challenged". I've never had much patience for being sick, and this is definitely no exception.

My stretch, I admit it.

So in my confinement, I write, and think and recall times in my life when I was definitely blessed by miracles....mostly through amazing people who have changed my life. Some directly, and others indirectly.

My son, for instance....definitely up there as one. And how, through some twist of fate, aided by my brother, we found a doctor who helped Michael go from paralyzed with no sensation to mobile with almost full sensation. Looking for a needle in a haystack. She was the only one who could have helped him back then, definitely creating miracles with him.

People who came into my life out of the clear blue, serendipitous, definitely, who saw who I was and what I could do when it came to taking my place in the world....who encouraged me to be the best I could be. I still wonder how some people walk into our lives and why. When there is no rhyme or reason but one day they just happen, appear through a twist of fate to touch you in a profound know there's a name for it.

I wonder how many people are given the same gifts of miracles in their lives, but just don't notice. They look for a plausible reason, a logical explanation, when there isn't one......or talk themselves into thinking it was all in their control. But it isn't. It just happens. I think it's criminal to ignore push them aside and negate their magic. If they weren't meant to be part of our lives, we wouldn't have experienced them.

A long time ago, when I was questioning how it had been possible for someone from so far away to have changed my life so drastically, in a matter of fact way, HIS way, he turned and said "Because it had to happen. It could have been anywhere. I know I would have stopped you in a street if we were passing because I would have had to talk to you". No....these aren't explainable events. Life changing, yes. The kind of thing that makes you stop, take a step back, and know, something so far out of your control had a play in what had happened.

Unexplainable....wonderful....amazing. Definitely a miracle. And I'm not only taking notice, but being very grateful....will always wonder the whys of them all, maybe in the back of my mind. But my heart knows not to question, just to be thankful.

Donna Karlin

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Radio Show

Monday, as I was running to a meeting, I was surprised by a phone call. Few things surprise me these days (as a Coach I always expect the unexpected) but this took me unawares. I was asked to host my own radio show.

I was quite shocked, very honoured to have been asked and, as I had to run to that meeting I asked the Executive Producer who had called me if I could think it over and call him back within a few days. Flattering? YES! Something I could have fun with? Definitely! Good timing? No.

And then, as I recalled the conversation, my thoughts changed. "It would give me credibility" he said. Well, I thought, if you type in Shadow Coach on Google, it's my name that comes up. And, if you type my name in on Google, 7 pages come up, quotes, articles, business related material, interviews. How much more credibility do I need?

"You'd get more business" he added. Well, if I had any more business I'd have to clone myself. What I need and decided to take is more time for life.

"I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit." - Dawna Markova

My philosophy, is to make a difference, even one person at a time. I refuse to be so busy that my goal takes a back seat to notoriety. To live my life, I have to participate in it. Which means finding time just to be, to learn, grow, absorb what's out there in the world. Not to be so busy that all I know is work and prep and falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day. That isn't living. That's existing day to day. Dawna's quote says it all. I will not live an unlived life. I want to discover the passions within me, to achieve my true being, my true self, whatever that may be. And to do that, it has to be a life of my choosing.

So, still flattered that they picked me....I graciously declined the honour of my own show, at least for now. What happens in the future, the future will take care of.

Donna Karlin

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Turning Back The Clock

There have been many books and articles written on wanting to turn the clock back before you hear the words..."I quit" or "That's it....I'm leaving you" and even worse than hearing those words, is being too busy with your job that you don't hear the words at all or see the signs and, when you do turn around, before you know it those who mean the most to you have disappeared from your life completely.

I hear this a great deal. Statistics show that many upper level executives live for their work, ignoring those important to their lives so when it's time to slow down or retire, there's no one to share their life with. Hobbies have also gone by the wayside.

So often I hear the words "One day I'd love to try...." or "I'd love to travel to..."
Why one day? Why not now?

Once they finally have time to do all those things on their list, there's no one to share them with. It's a very lonely place to be. Studies have shown that health quickly deteriorates as well.

Why work so hard if you won't have the health to enjoy life later on, or someone to share that joy with?

There has to be a balance.

I can hear the arguments now. "I have deadlines. This has to get done. When it's finished or when I catch up, THEN there will be time for me". Trouble is, there's always the next deadline or request for a new project and life gets put on the back burner yet again.

Isn't it funny that life has a habit of working out just fine when you learn to say no. One CAN take a vacation and nourish their soul, even when up against deadlines.

I was talking to my brother about that the other day. When he decided to take a month off in the summer for his sanity, colleagues told him he'd lose his practice. He stood by that decision and his practice hasn't suffered at all. And he's more energized and healthier for it AND takes time for his tennis and family and friends along the way. Living by these rules makes a person successful.

Success isn't measured in accomplishments. It is however measured in how many people you've touched along the way.....who you have in your life. You teach by example. If the powers that be don't set that example now, the new up and coming leaders won't have a life at all. They'll live, eat and breathe their work. And when all is said and done, there will be no one to share their victories with. Aloneness.....the word sounds what it is....solitary......isolated......lonely.

If you stop, take a step back and look at your life right now....can you be sure that those most important to you will still be there waiting to be noticed? Choices to be made before you "want to turn the clock back". Living is now. Not "some day". Show those special people in your life you value them more than a deadline or project. Make time for them....while they're still there to share time and life with.

Donna Karlin

Friday, November 21, 2003


Life is always opening new and unexpected things to us. There is no monotony in living to him who walks even the quietest and tamest path with open and perceiving eyes. The monotony of life, if life is monotonous to you, is in you, not in the world” - Phillip Brooks

One of my pet peeves is listening to people complain of boredom. How can one be bored in a world filled with an endless supply of music, art, books, never mind extraordinary people? One of the things I love about my work, and there are many, are the wonderful people who I’ve met and learned from. Every day there is some interaction which brings a smile to my face and a question or two I look to answer. Whether that question is within myself out there to discover in the world, or both, the answers enrich my life immeasurably. And then I look for more questions.

I listen for new music, or look for that word I’d never heard of before. It’s not a matter of “having time” it’s having awareness that it’s there, surrounding us in some way every day.

I love interacting with those around me as I run with clients. On a break here and there I always throw a question at a past client or colleague. I can’t wait for their answer. Now, they expect and anticipate the unexpected, especially when it comes from me. So even if my break is minutes and I scramble to keep up with my email (no..... we won’t go there right now : ) I find myself surrounded by people and questions, but most important laughter. It brings a new spring to my step, a few more questions that come to mind.

They will wait for another day so I can absorb the present one.

Boredom? Never. I can’t imagine it. There’s just too much waiting to discover.

Donna Karlin

Sunday, November 16, 2003


"From the East comes the sun,
Bringing a new and unspoiled day.
It has already circled the Earth and
Looked upon distant lands and
Far-away peoples.

It has passed over mountain ranges and
The waters of the seven seas.
It has shown upon laborers in the fields,
Into the windows of homes,
And shops, and factories.

It has beheld cities with gleaming towers,
And also the hovels of the poor.
It has been witness to both good and evil,
The works of honest men and women and
The conspiracy of knaves.

It has seen marching armies, bomb-blasted villages
And "the destruction that wasteth at noonday."
Now, unsullied from its tireless journey,
It comes to us,
Messenger of the morning.
Harbinger of a new day."
- Clinton Lee Scott

As I read what's going on in the world...I wonder if many stop to realise what it is we're blessed with, even if it's just the morning sun and, for those who are lucky enough, the possibility to "do it better" on a new have the opportunity of living a new day.

And as I read this beautiful poem I thought of new friends a world (or so it seems) away in Indonesia. I've never met them....I know them through another, who I am honoured to call friend.

Whenever I read something like this, knowing they'll be experiencing tomorrow sooner than me, I silently hope they live their tomorrows in peace and serenity, that the horrors of the world not touch them personally.

If we all felt that way, wouldn't the world be one of peace? And if all it takes is changing the way you think and look at the world and life and how people have the right to peace, why can't it happen?

All the best...
Donna Karlin


One of the most invaluable tools one can learn is centering....meditation, guided or otherwise, to help you find that calm in the eye of a storm, better known as life as we all seem to be experiencing it these days. Finding that calm is something we need to do every day. It is said that a 15 minute centering is equivalent to an hour’s sleep for your body, a 45 minute centering equivalent to 5 hours sleep.

When we build healthy reserves in our life, it prevents problems. You all know how you feel when you’re sleep deprived, stressed, overworked. All it takes is that one final straw.....

Finding the calm in the centre of the storm is something we need to do every day. The paradox of life is that change is constant and we are consistently confronted with the unexpected. This may throw us into a state of imbalance and anxiety.

If I can use a storm as a metaphor, there is a central point of stillness. And in that area the storm rages all around but the centre is calm..... there is a void. Whether the storm lies within us as turmoil from something we’re dealing with in life or around us in our workplace, we must find the centre of stillness, peace and quiet for us to not only weather the storm but become stronger as a result of it.

It connects to being Mindful...”Paying attention to what’s inside and outside of ourselves and then reflecting in a non-judgmental way on what is and why.” In order to do that we need stillness. We have to slow ourselves down, clear our minds. It gives us insights into behaviours and ideas.

If you practice this often, it will become second nature and allow you to take a step back in challenging situations and find that "eye" or "centre" while the storm rages around you. And in that stillness, an idea or answer will come and you will have the focus and energy to find a solution. We all find the energy we need in a crisis but that is expensive energy. It depletes and creates cracks in our foundation of well-being. Change your source of energy.

Whether or not you are willing to find a tape or vehicle to do a centering, to begin, find a place in nature that nourishes you...feeds you with a sense of peace. Then take a step back from life to allow life in.

Donna Karlin

Tuesday, November 11, 2003


"There is a form of laughter that springs from the heart, heard every day in the merry voice of childhood, the expression of a laughter -- loving spirit that defies analysis by the philosopher, which has nothing rigid or mechanical in it, and totally without social significance. Bubbling spontaneously from the heart of child or man. Without egotism and full of feeling, laughter is the music of life". - Sir William Osler

I can close my eyes and in a split second remember the first time I heard my son laugh....a gurgle that bubbled from the centre of his being. We were at the hospital and he was being assessed for surgery. Nothing could have stopped the laughter. He was like that. He’s still like that, always finding humour in every situation. It got us through many a stressful moment. Some would think we were nuts to be able to laugh in times of hell....but that’s what not only got us through it but WAY past it.

Stephen King wrote “You can't deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants." Have you ever tried to stop laughing? It makes you laugh being with Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins...when you’re with someone laughing from their heart, it’s next to impossible not to join in. (And if you haven’t seen that movie, then do so. It’s one you’ll never forget). And once you do stop you feel energised.

Laughter creates the smile that lives on afterwards......excercises you from the inside out......and is the only infectious “disease” you want to spread. You can’t be angry when you laugh...nor sad and it brings people closer together than anything else.

Sounds practically perfect in every way.

Have you had your laugh today?

Best : )
Donna Karlin

Monday, November 10, 2003


"This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where I ask
my friends to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love

There is no house
like the house of belonging
" - David Whyte

This past weekend my friends in Philadelphia invited me into their new home. And they’re the kind of friends that the moment you walk into their house you feel at home. I got to meet their new pup and their cat...and I’m not usually a cat lover, but this one seemed to worm his way into my heart in his very quiet, albeit demolition derby way. I realised my reflexes were still pretty good as I grabbed for vases and coffee cups about to fly.

On the plane on the way home I also realised that home is within’s not necessarily geographical but the feeling we have deep down as we walk into the arms of someone we love to be enfolded in a hug that says it all, or to a friend’s home that they’ve so lovingly decorated and cared for. It doesn’t have to be my house. It’s attitude....feeling of belonging. Knowing you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

And those feelings are indescribably wonderful.

Donna Karlin

Sunday, November 09, 2003

My Philosophy

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Harold Whitman

I am asked time and time again what it is, exactly, that a Coach does. The definition varies with each Coach, as the work we do changes based on the area of coaching we work in. As well, with each client, the dynamics and focus of the coaching changes. What does remain constant however, is our mission or philosophy behind the work. And after many attempts, I finally put into words what my beliefs and philosophies are.

“How we dream is what gives our lives value. How we choose to live is what determines whether our dreams have value.”

“I believe we each carry a dream of a life we were born to realise which shows up through desire. And I believe that we all have the ability to realise our personal and professional dreams if we commit ourselves to not settling for anything less than what we really want. It is when we move toward our passions that we experience our own greatness, and it is then an incredible contribution to ourselves and to the world is made, by being who we truly are. “
(Donna Karlin)

Going back to two posts ago, about letting life pass you by and losing those important to you along the way, I maintain people get angry at the state of their lives not because of all the deadlines, lack of rest, demands made upon them, rather because they aren’t making their dreams a reality. And in keeping that busy they, in a way, escape from life, because it’s not one of their choosing.

When something is really important to you, or there’s a threat (and you actually notice it) of losing something or someone so precious you can’t imagine life without it or them, then it’s amazing how you find a solution. Why wait until the point of no return?

Donna Karlin

Thursday, November 06, 2003


We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit. - E.E. Cummings

In receiving positive feedback, we find validation. For many that’s how they find their self-worth. In this day and age where most people are free with criticism but rare in giving praise, our self-esteem gets bruised and battered and it’s so easy to have a low opinion of ourselves.

It only takes a moment to share a compliment or gratitude for help, a job well done, or the support of a friend, family member or colleague. Not only does that go a long way towards making someone’s has lasting effects. And, when you give it, and see the reaction, it just might make your day a little more special as well.

Saying to yourself how lucky you are to have someone in your life, or the support and expertise of someone at work doesn’t go very far. Silence is just that....the unspoken word. People aren’t mind readers. So how ‘bout sharing what’s on your mind, especially when it’s something good.

Donna Karlin

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Just for Me

Being on one’s own after what seems a lifetime of being part of a couple brings a learning experience all its own. I am rediscovering who I am as an individual. Yesterday I read a passage in a favourite book “Romancing the Ordinary” that speaks of dating yourself....doing things just for you, self-talk in a personal way. I know, it sounds strange, but having lived it, it really isn’t. It’s a matter of getting to know yourself and your wishes, hopes, desires, likes and dislikes. It’s not selfishness, rather self-awareness.

More and more I come to realise that many a time, in a relationship one can lose their identity. How many times have I heard “My husband is out tonight so I’m not going to bother cooking for just me”.

Why not? And why not light candles and pour yourself a glass of wine, or light a fire just for you? Or set the table beautifully instead of taking “something on a tray”?

As well, when I’ve had friends over for dinner and ask if they’d like coffee or tea so often I hear “Well don’t make it just for me. If others are having I’d love some too.” Why not make it just for you? Aren’t you worth a cup of coffee?

What is it about human nature that we automatically think we’re selfish if we express our wants and desires? What message is this sending to others and ourselves when we suppress our basic wants?

So now, when I speak to friends who are inbetween relationships and hear them say “You must have the same difficulty cooking for just one as I do”. Well I have news for you. No....I don’t. I love to create in the kitchen, part of my past life as being a chef, and won’t give that up because I’m “just me”. Just like I’ll continue to go out and explore life and learn through these experiences who I am. And through that, when I am in a relationship I will have more to offer. It’s not settling. It’s being a whole person, one who has a lot more to offer because I’m no longer who someone else thinks I should be. Nor do I expect someone to give up their identity for me.

I learned that longevity doesn’t make a successful relationship. Being unique individuals that encourage the other to be the best they can be, does.

Donna Karlin

Monday, November 03, 2003


Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice, happiness, which is everything in the world. - Blaise Pascal

Years ago when visiting Epcot Center with my son, he was enthralled with a character from Kodak, named Figment. He was a purple and pink dragon who made you smile with his antics and as he flew above us in his unique hot air balloon, he captured our hearts and stayed with us in more ways than one.

Just before leaving on our trip, this was going to be a post-op visit to Norfolk first then a treat to Disney afterwards....we bought a puppy Golden Retriever, who wasn’t old enough to take home yet. We left him at the breeder’s, planning to pick him up after we returned home. We were tossing around names for him and in a split second, my small son turned and said “Figment. I want to name him Figment and we can call him Figgy for short”. He was that colour...a deep fig cognac colour so this would be perfect all around. And Michael was so excited about getting his puppy that his imagination ran rampant.

Now I don’t suggest you all run out and get a puppy (though that’s a daily temptation for me so we won’t go there : ) But I do suggest you let your imagination free. You see, imagination is a funny thing. There’s no right way to imagine or just is. It can be as bizarre as you like without boundaries. What’s in your mind is yours alone....created by and for you, to help you wonder at the possibilities.

What if...

And if it happens to be a purple and pink dragon, then so be it!

Donna Karlin

This quote was one shared in a comment tonight. I wanted to share it with you as I think it's extraordinary. "Imagination is the distance between improbability and will. That may be an impossibly long way if you aren't looking up." - Michael A. Karlin (my son : )

Saturday, November 01, 2003

What Matters

"Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least"
- Goethe

I was writing a blog about this, because so many things came to mind when I read it....though for me it was more about people, not things and how it’s so "easy" to get wrapped up in the nitty gritty of the day and forget those around you who mean the most.

But instead I invite a dialogue and your comments on this beautifully written quote and feelings and thoughts this message evokes in you. If nothing else, I hope this serves as a reminder.

Donna Karlin