Life and Spiritual Coaching

May 18, 2009

Don’t Break the Elastic – Maya Anlelou

Filed under: Fun,Life Balance,People — by Donna Ritter @ 4:35 pm

In April, Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70 birthday. Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older.

And, there on television, she said it was ‘exciting.’ Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every day…like her breasts. They seem to be in a race to see which will reach her waist, first.

The audience laughed so hard they cried. She is such an honest woman, with so much wisdom in her words!

Maya Angelou said this:

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
“I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life.’ 

“I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back.

“I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

“I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

“I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

“I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”



December 31, 2008

Never Forget to Say I Love You

Filed under: Advice to My Younger Self,Life,Life Balance,People — by Donna Ritter @ 5:00 pm

These two songs bring tears to my eyes. A mother loves her kids so much and when they leave the house both pain and joy are felt for her kids. You want your kids to be independent and yet you miss them so much. I want to share these songs to you all! Always tell your kids you love them. You never know when it’s too late.

Kenny Chesney

“Don’t Blink”

I turned on the evening news
Saw an old man being interviewed
Turning a hundred and two today
Asked him what’s the secret to life
He looked up from his old pipe
Laughed and said “All I can say is.”

Don’t blink
Just like that you’re six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you’re twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don’t blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your “better half”
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you’re praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don’t blink

I was glued to my TV when it looked like he looked at me and said
“Best start putting first things first.”
Cause when your hourglass runs out of sand
You can’t flip it over and start again
Take every breathe God gives you for what it’s worth

Don’t Blink
Just like that you’re six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you’re twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don’t blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your “better half”
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you’re praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don’t blink

So I’ve been tryin’ ta slow it down
I’ve been tryin’ ta take it in
In this here today, gone tomorrow world we’re livin’ in

Don’t blink
Just like that you’re six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you’re twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don’t blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your “better half”
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you’re praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So Don’t blink

Naw, don’t blink
Life Goes Faster Than You Think


Alan Jackson

“Remember When”

Remember when I was young and so were you
and time stood still and love was all we knew
You were the first, so was I
We made love and then you cried
Remember when

Remember when we vowed the vows
and walked the walk
Gave our hearts, made the start, it was hard
We lived and learned, life threw curves
There was joy, there was hurt
Remember when

Remember when old ones died and new were born
And life was changed, disassembled, rearranged
We came together, fell apart
And broke each other’s hearts
Remember when

Remember when the sound of little feet
was the music
We danced to week to week
Brought back the love, we found trust
Vowed we’d never give it up
Remember when

Remember when thirty seemed so old
Now lookn’ back it’s just a steppin’ stone
To where we are,
Where we’ve been
Said we’d do it all again
Remember when
Remember when we said when we turned gray
When the children grow up and move away
We won’t be sad, we’ll be glad
For all the life we’ve had
And we’ll remember when


December 27, 2008

Good friends are worth their weight in gold

Filed under: Christian,Family,Life Balance — by Donna Ritter @ 9:30 am
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I had always dreamed of walking down the aisle at graduation with my Dad in his Harvard robes. When I was a senior in college, He was coming back from giving a paper and had a heart attack on the airplane. Even though they emergency landed the plane in Atlanta, he died. That night I had double dated with my sister to see a “Yes” concert, but went home earlier than she did since I had an 8:00 am Calculus class.

I was a senior in college when my Mom called me up (after a very late night at a YES concert) and asked me to come over since my Dad was “sick”. I told her I needed to sleep and would be there after my class in the morning. My parents were divorced by then, so I thought it was a bit weird, but went back to sleep. Then she called back and told me I was dead. I rushed to her house at 3 in the morning n tears. My Dad was my best friend. My Mom wanted me to find my sister but I had no idea where she was and there were no cell phones back then. She gave me a stiff drink (which was the last thing I needed – but I took it anyway). We waited for my sister Barby to show up and when she did, we both broke down in tears again. My Mom asked me to go to my Dad’s apartment to look for a will (he was only 45) and she didn’t feel comfortable doing it. I was a basket case. Luckily my roommate was there to drive me.

Seeing my Dad’s most personal things was horrible to me. I found what I could and brought it back to my Mom.

I stayed there, but went to school because at the beginning of the semester, my professor had said there would be no exceptions to missing exams. I must have looked a mess, because one of my friends came up as I was waiting and said”what happened to you, did someone die or something”? When he heard my story, he walked into the classroom and explained my situation to the professor and she was so nice, and told me of course I could make it up. Maybe it helped that my Dad was the Dean of the Graduate School – but he led me out of school to the next door college bar. Now this was about 8:30 am. My best friend said “Let’s have a few beers and celebrate his life”. We did and we laughed and cried at the same time. One old drunk came over and asked us what was going on. When we told him, he cried too! We all started laughing which sounds weird, but it was what I needed most.

It was then that I found out who your real friends are. Some that I thought were my friends looked the other way when I was coming. Some sat with me and let me talk, cry and cried with me. It was like my Dad’s death was contagious and some of my so called friends didn’t want to catch the “germ”.  That’s when I learned the value of true friends. They are with you through the good and bad, the ugly, the horrible and the tragedy. Some of those people I can call today (and I’m 53) and it’s like we never stopped talking.

Then the next shoe hit the floor. My Mom wanted me to decide where my Dad should be buried! His Dad was on vacation, but I refused to make any decisions until I could talk to my Grandfather. No parent should survive their children. I had never had death touch me, and I couldn’t handle it. I was floored that my Mom couldn’t see that.

We ended up sending the police after my grandfather. Thank God he took care of everything. We all flew up to Massachusetts were my first Grandmother was buried. My Dad was cremated and buried next to her. My Grandfather sent me the pictures he developed that my Dad had taken on that trip; they were of the same place where he was buried. It was fall, so I’m sure he was taking pictures of the changing leaves – but is was still creepy. My sister and I didn’t have much money, but we went to a florist and bought roses to lie on his grave.

When we got home, the money he had was to be left to any minor children (of which I was not) but there was an insurance policy with me as the beneficiary. I felt said because he had always wanted a boat. I think you should always make sure you experience your dreams.

My Mom said she and Barby would take me to court to get that money – so I gave it to them. Not worth fighting for. I almost quit college at the suggestion of my Mom, but my Dad’s professor friends rallied around me and got me through it (thank goodness for those wonderful men).

I gave up the idea of graduate school and got a job in the computer industry where I have been for 30 years. My Mom and Scott moved up to New York before I graduated and no one I was related to came to the ceremony. Not even my sister.

My husband and I have an iron clad will so hopefully none of this business will happen. I grew up very fast during those years and still hear my Dad in my prayers. I made peace with my Mom before she died (at 72) and I am very glad I did. Family is what is most important and should never be taken for granted. Nor should goof friends – they are worth gold and they endure much longer than teenage crushes or small arguments. Nurture them with love and they will serve you for your whole life.

You never know when your time will be up so always tell your loved ones how much you love and appreciate them. Never go to bed with any anger in your heart. I have a sign over our bed that says “Never forget to kiss me Goodnight” so my husband and I remember how important it is. Forgive no matter what and live so you have no regrets on your deathbed. Older people will tell you that the only thing they worry about are regrets from a missed time to tell someone they loved them or a missed time to spend more time with their kids. Don’t let that happen to you. Life goes by in a blink! Live, Laugh and Love everyone! You never know when the last day will come – so no regrets!




November 10, 2008


Filed under: Life Balance,Life Coaching — by Donna Ritter @ 12:35 pm
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When you are a young adult, you have the perfect opportunity to experience life in its fullest! You don’t have kids yet or a house to tie you to one place. Explore! If I was in college again, I’d take a year off to travel the world. You don’t need a lot of money if you stay at youth hostels and use a rail pass to travel around Europe. If you have other destinations in mind, research how you can do a work/study or an exchange student program. If you really get to know the local culture, it will teach you more than any college course could. Plus you’d have fun!

This is also the time to be spontaneous decisions, since you don’t have the baggage of an older person to carry. Be daring! Explore yourself. Get to really define yourself.

Talk to people from another culture. Try their food and check out their customs. Talk to the older people in the area. Learn about their history. This will give you invaluable experience and insight!

Before you leave for the journey of your life, check the internet to brush up on the places you plan to visit. Look for where the tourists go – and make sure those aren’t the only places on your list. You want to check out where the locals go and live. Try to learn some of the language before leaving. Also, check for travel deals offered at the time you are going to be there. Make sure you write in your journal.  

November 4, 2008

Advice to my Younger Self

Filed under: Advice to My Younger Self,Life Balance — by Donna Ritter @ 10:39 am
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This is the first of many articles I am writing that are advice I wish I could have given my younger self. It’s amazing how much you can learn over 50+ years of living that gives you insights you wish you had when you were 20. This article is meant to be targeted at advice that may have swayed my decisions when I was in college.

·         You are a unique individual who is loved for what you are – not what someone tries to make you to be. Follow your heart. Do what you have passion in. This is especially essential when you choose your major in college. Some people choose majors based on how much money they could make. In the end, you spend so much of your life at work that it doesn’t matter how much money you make if you are miserable making it!

·         Travel and learn about other cultures as much as you can. It is very easy when you are young without a house or big bills to backpack around Europe for example. You can get a train pass that lasts for months and stay and inexpensive youth hostels. Hanging out with the locals teaches you much more than going to the tourist traps. Joining the Peace Corp is another option.

·         Stay away from negative situations or people. They can easily bring your mood down the tubes.

·         Make goals in college and stay focused on them. If you want to learn music or the arts – do it! Even if you don’t major in the fine arts, they broaden your minds.

·         Make an effort to stay positive. That can be hard when you focus on others or the news, but the more positive energy we all pass along, the better off we all will be.

·         Allow yourself to have time off to play. Never lose the child within.

·         Stay close to your family. They are the ones who will love you forever no matter what (except if you are in the unfortunate position of having an abusive family). Listen to the older ones. Believe it or not, they do know more than you do!

·         Surround yourself with reminders of your unique greatness. This can be pictures, quotes, letters anything that reminds you why people love you and why you mean more than anything to God.

·         Start your day with prayer, meditation, readings or whatever is your spiritual guidance. This will make the rest of the day start off on the right foot. 

·         Take care of yourself in the way you eat, exercise and what you read and put in your mind. This is your time to soak up everything you can and decide what the most important things are that you want to keep active in the rest of your life.

·         Don’t sweat the small stuff as they say. In life there are always ups and downs. Ride them out. Each challenge makes you stronger.

·         Keep a smile on yourself. It has been proven to be good for you and others around you.

·         Forgive everyone – including you! We all make mistakes. Take risks. Failure is a way to learn and you can’t get there without taking risks.

·         Give thanks every day. Journal as much as you can. It will not only record your thoughts but also improve your writing skills.

·         Have fun! These are some of the best times of your life! Learn and experience as much as you can!


October 27, 2008

Plan, Do, Check, Act

Filed under: Life Balance,Life Coaching — by Donna Ritter @ 11:06 am
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1 Planning is an exercise we all use daily, but seldom do we use it on our own growth. In order for you to get where you want to be in the next 5 years, a plan is essential. This post will take you through the planning cycle using Deming’s famous Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.

1.1 Plan:

Planning includes defining what you want to achieve. I use a mission statement, roles (like mother, wife, friend, and worker), and goals (like become an expert Digital photographer, have a solid financial plan for retirement…) and break those down into short term and long term goals.

You can use any number of these and other tools to plan your ideal future. Remember; don’t let that demon that says “you can’t do that” get into your head. You can do anything you set your mind to!

Once you have a written account of where you want to go, it is time to determine how you should go about achieving it. Use time management techniques, prioritization, visioning and other tools to help you complete your plan. I will talk more about these techniques in later posts.

1.2 Do:

Practice your plan for a month or so and see how it goes. Keep a journal and write down what is working and what is not. Even though I am talking about long term plans here, that doesn’t mean they won’t change all along the way.

1.3 Check:

Take some time to analyze your successes and failures. Remember – failures are not bad. They are simply learning mechanisms. If someone never failed, that would mean they never took risks. Risk taking is an important key to moving ahead in life; so no punishment or feeling bad if something doesn’t turn out like you thought it would. Just change the way you go about it!

1.4 Act:

This is the fun part. You have worked out the kinks and are ready to fully act on your mission. Your chances of success are greatly enhanced by a positive attitude. Keep a journal of successes, what you are grateful for and what things you may want to look at during your next Check cycle.

2 Prioritizing:

When you are in the Planning stages, prioritizing is a great tool to help you hone in on what is most important to you. First write down the actual priority of these roles in your life. What do you spend the most time on? Then write down your desired priority of these roles. There is probably something you should fix to get back in line with your authentic self.

3 Goal Setting:

Goals should be written as SMART goals. S = specific, M = measurable, A = attainable, R = realistic and T = timely. Specific means the goal states exactly what you are going to achieve, measurable means you can measure whether it was successful or not, attainable means you are giving yourself a goal that is within your grasp to achieve (no flying to the moon), realistic means it can be done within the limits you set and timely means it has an end time in which it should be completed.

Write the goal in positive language so it is something you would like to do, not something you’d like to put off.

Goals can be achieved over different timeframes; short term (within a month), medium term (within 6 months) or long term (within a year or several years).

4 Planning Your Goals:

Here are some steps you can use to plan your goals:

·         Visualize how your will feel, what you will see once you achieve your goal. Close your eyes and hold this vision in your mind. Write down your thoughts on a sheet of paper.

·         Write down the steps you think you need to take to achieve it.

·         Arrange the steps in time order

·         List all the resources you need to help you get your goal.

·         Identify any blocks or risks that could get in your way.

·         Establish plans for managing the risks.

·         Make a list of action steps and take your first action!


October 26, 2008

Tips on living a Balanced Life

Filed under: Family,Life Balance,Life Coaching — by Donna Ritter @ 12:11 pm
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Everything we do comes with a cost. One thing I do is to spend a good part of my time learning new things. I think that time is well spent and I would advise anyone to put learning in your life balance set. The things I have in my life balance are:

·    Spirituality: I spend lots of time studying books about God, reading the bible and participating in bible studies. It keeps me grounded and happy.

·    Family: I spend as much time as possible with my family. My kids are in college, so that is hard. I always make a big deal on holidays and take 2 weeks off during Christmas – my favorite holiday.

·    Learning: I read constantly, take courses, practice new things. I don’t think I could ever give this up.

·    Work: when I am working I put my full attention to it and do it well.

·    Exercise/health: I spend time in the gym and love to hike on the weekends if I can.

·    Managing the house: believe me – this can be a full time job, but I keep up on it and parcel out work to my husband to lighten my load. I also have a cleaning lady come in once a week. I’ve had her for 15 years and she is part of the family. I call her my angel.

·    Fun – this can be a date with my husband, doing some of my hobbies (I like taking pictures and writing), or curling up with a romantic novel to relax. It can also be hiking or doing something else outside. I love nature.

The important thing is for you to spend time defining what you like to do in your job; it takes so much of your time. Never forget the other things in your life that give you balance. When I am at work, I make sure to take a few minutes each hour or so to do a 5 minute meditation to calm myself down and be the best I can be at work. I always clean off my desk at the end of the day and write down the tasks I need to do the next day. These change of course, but it gives me something to start with when I arrive. I do my best not to think about work at home so I can concentrate on my other priorities. If possible, I exercise at lunch. If not, I walk at lunch. You can walk almost anywhere you are and it costs nothing. Being out in the sun clears my mind and energizes me for the afternoon.

I schedule time for each of my priorities listed above and try to make sure they are always taken care of. If something happens where I miss one, I get out of sync and have to get back to the things that balance my life.

Remember – you are the only one that will truly take care of you. Make your list of priorities and schedule them in your day timer each week so that you don’t over commit yourself. That will help you to live a truly balanced life.


Peace be with you and take good care of yourself!



October 23, 2008


Filed under: Communications,Life Balance,Life Coaching — by Donna Ritter @ 5:46 pm

An important part of using others as creative problem solving resources is, of course, making sure you understand their ideas and suggestions. One technique used to do this is “paraphrasing”. This is the act of summarizing someone’s thoughts using different words. It is important to check your understanding, even when you think you understand. It is a natural tendency to not check our understanding when we do think we comprehend. However, because our understanding is based on not just what was said, but also our interpretation of what was said, the understanding could be way off the mark. In order to avoid this misunderstanding, when you paraphrase a thought, be sure to check it with the person doing the communicating. A paraphrase is not complete until the person offering the suggestion agrees.


When paraphrasing, it is important to not only understand what the person said but what they meant! Even if you think you hear the words correctly, your understanding of the intended meaning can still be off the mark. It is important that you check your understanding, especially in these situations:


·    Prior to developing someone’s thoughts or to make a final decision to accept or reject them.

·    Prior to agreeing or disagreeing with someone’s view or information about a problem.

·    Prior to judging or evaluating someone’s work or actions.


Paraphrasing is not only useful in confirming that you have understood what was being said, but it is also the only way the other person can be sure you were actually listening. In addition, a useful, though not foolproof way to use paraphrasing is to try to manage someone who is rambling or repeating. If, as a facilitator, you can step in and paraphrase what their thoughts are, you can more effectively capture their idea and then move to the next person.


Here are six steps to effective paraphrasing:


1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.

2. Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.

3. Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.

4. Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.

5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.

6. Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.


October 22, 2008

Enjoy Yourself – Don’t take on other’s problems

Filed under: Life Balance,Life Coaching — by Donna Ritter @ 11:51 pm
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How do you treat yourself? Do you realize that you are a unique and special individual that God loves just because of yourself? You have all the power you need to live the life you have always wanted to live.

Think about how we treat ourselves every day. How often do we blame ourselves for other people’s problems? Do we talk to ourselves with love and care? Do we show enough respect to our self? Let us take a moment and think about what we do when we make a mistake or do not get the desired result? Do we tell ourselves off? How many times do we call ourselves ‘Stupid’ or use a similar word to express our dissatisfaction? If we think about these questions deeply then we will discover that often we treat ourselves unfairly. And when we do not treat ourselves properly, the world treats us in the same way. It can even affect our mental and physical health.

Now is time to break the cycle! There is no one in this world as special as you and you should treat yourself that way. Take care of yourself, your heath and your emotional well being. Take time to exercise, eat right and play. Take meditation and prayer walks.I had this bad habit myself. Whenever I made a mistake or even of those I loved made a mistake, I used to blame myself, and carried a feeling of guilt with me. What happens if we do this? First, our subconscious mind accepts whatever we say as true. If we say to ourselves, we are not good at doing something. Immediately our subconscious mind receives this message and records it as true; because it does not judge any statement, we make.

When I realized the way we talk or communicate to ourselves decides the quality of our life and our effectiveness, I changed my approach. I desperately wanted to break free from this never-ending cycle. So, what did I do?


I took responsibly for what was truly my fault, sought forgiveness and moved on. For the rest of the mistakes made around me, I supported my loved ones without taking their blame on myself and began to find ways to enjoy my life. Have fun – you deserve it!

October 21, 2008

8 tips to great listening skills

Filed under: Communications,Life Balance — by Donna Ritter @ 4:12 pm


To become a good listener you want to hear the other person. Think about your own experiences. Didn’t you feel much better when you were truly listened to? Here are eight ways to help you become a better listener:

1.   Look at the speaker and keep your eyes on them:

The whole listening process begins with giving the person your undivided attention. Do not catch up on other work, read your email, take calls or shuffle papers. How would you feel if it were you in this case? If you don’t have time at that instant, make a new appointment as soon as possible.

2.   Don’t interrupt:

Most people react badly to this and at the very least are hurt by it. People who interrupt to so for several reasons:

·         They care about what the person is saying

·         They want to impress others (or themselves) with how smart they are

·         They are too excited by the conversation to let the other person finish!

If you have this habit (one of my faults I am working on) examine your motives and determine to make a change. Would you like to be around someone like this? Let the other person express themselves and also to feel comfortable if there happen to be silences in the conversation. This gives each of you time to take notes (if applicable).

3.   Concentrate on Understanding:

Have you ever noticed how quickly people forget what has just been said? Communications also includes noticing tone, body language etc. – not just the words being said.

4.   Determine the need at the moment:

A lot of people find themselves in conflict because they occasionally communicate at cross-purposes. They neglect to determine the need of the other person at the moment of interaction. Men usually want to fix any problems they discuss. Women are more likely to tell about a problem simply to share it; they neither request nor desire a solution. Anytime you can determine the current need of the people you’re communicating with, you can put whatever they say into appropriate context. And you will better understand them.

5.   Check your emotions:

Most people carry around a lot of emotional baggage that causes them to react to different people or situations. Anytime a person has an axe to grind, the words of others are drowned by the sound of the grindstone. Anytime you become highly emotional when listening to another person, check your emotions – especially if your reaction seems stronger than the situation warrants. You don’t want to make an unsuspecting person the recipient of your venting. Always allow others to finish explaining their points of view before offering your own.

6.   Suspend your judgment:

Have you ever begun listening to another person tell a story and just started to respond before he/she was finished? Just about everyone has. The truth is that you can’t jump to conclusions and be a good listener at the same time. As you talk to others, wait to hear the whole story before responding. If not, you might miss the best part!

Experts agree that listening is most effective when you’re active. If you train yourself to comment meaningfully, the speaker will know what you are saying and may offer further information.

7.   Ask questions for clarity:

Looking at the person, focusing on what they are saying for understanding, suspending judgment and summing up what the person says is a key technique that most interviewers use. Another skill that helps to gather more information and increase your understanding is to ask good questions.

8.   Always make listening your priority:

The last thing to remember when developing good listening skills is to make “listening” a priority, not matter how busy you become or how far you rise in your organization. These skills serve you well with family and friends as well.



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