Introducing the ‘SLoW Coach’


“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”
-~Eddie Cantor

When did you last stop to ‘smell the roses’, or allow yourself the time to ‘stand and stare’?

As far as any of us are aware, THIS LIFE IS IT! You can gamble on there being something else on ‘the other side’, but are you seriously going to leave living until a day that’s unlikely to even exist?

Can you subscribe to the belief that you can get more out of life, by ‘doing’ less?

Driven to succeed

If you’ve read my ‘About me‘ page, you’ll see I’ve spent a good proportion of my life as a driven woman.

Driven to do what you may ask?

A retroscope (a made-up word used by midwives!) is a wonderful tool, it means you can look back and see where you could have made different choices to have another outcome. Looking through my imaginary scope, I see someone who was trying to ‘prove’ something to herself and others, who, despite being a rather adventurous and naive teenager, could still ‘succeed’ in a career.

I’ve met, and continue to meet, people with similar aspirations.

Living in this fast-paced society, we feel (and IMHO are encouraged to believe) the only way to live is to cram it all in – our ever increasing workload and active social life – and sitting for any period of time in stillness and calm, is a selfish, fruitless and boring waste of time.

Being with my self

I had a bit of an epiphany when I made the brave move (alone) to live and work in New Zealand for nine months in 2001/2002.

I had a four-month contract as an agency midwife, at a small and friendly maternity unit in Gisborne, on the east coast of the North Island.  The remainder of the time, apart from five weeks with my amazing parents who came to visit and play, I was able to reflect on my life; my hopes and dreams.

I read Clarissa Pinkola Estes sensational book ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves‘, and had some incredible insights. I’d never had such a ‘self’ish time – I mostly adored it, but was also very challenged being with ME.

Returning to England in the summer of 2002, I soon resumed the speed-driven pace of life which appears to be inherent in British society, and allowed my ‘self ‘to be eaten up once more by my passion for changing the world of midwifery for the better.

I gained a prestigious post with the Department of Health, leading a midwifery recruitment and retention project, which basically entailed having almost no other life – but succeeded in raising the profile of midwifery and its R & R challenges – for a short time! But at what cost …

Slowing down

Fast forward (pun intended) three years from that period, and I was back in New Zealand, working part-time, though still in a senior post. I read ‘In Praise of Slow‘ by Carl Honore, and something ‘clicked’ inside me. Carl’s description of ‘the cult of speed’ rang so many bells for me.

I knew I’d succumbed to it so many times and on so many levels – and really wanted to get off the merry-go-round and have more life in my life.

By being busy all the time, we may be avoiding (consciously or not) being with our ‘selves’, and with those people who are important to us. One day we, and they, will no longer be here. And it’s highly unlikely that you’ll wish, on your death-bed, you’d gained another promotion, or saved (rather than spent on yourself) more money to leave for your family to squander.

The health risks of ‘busy’ness

This phenomenon of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, is creating health problems for women. Reading the fascinating book ‘Rushing Women’s Syndrome‘ by Dr Libby Weaver, I understood more fully how we affect our health by this culture of speed.

When we’re rushing around, our body interprets this as ‘stress’, and releases Adrenaline. The body thinks your life is in danger, and prepares itself for ‘fight or flight’.

But we rarely need to run away from a tiger, so we confuse our nervous system which burns sugar rather than fat.

How often do you reach for a sugary snack during the day? Dr Weaver alarmingly suggests that the cellulite on your thighs is caused by the mobilisation of glycogen out of the muscles – due to stress.

There’s so much more around this subject if you want to delve further, – check our ‘Dr Libby’ on Facebook

The SLoW Coach

As a fairly new Life Coach, I’m still defining my ‘niche’ market – who are the people I resonate the most with and can support?

One of my passions as a coach is obviously around looking at the balance of people’s lives, and working with them to see how they can ‘slow down’ a little (or a lot) to reflect and change what aspects aren’t working as well as they’d like.

I recall having a silver belt buckle designed (by one of my beautiful and talented sisters) and made when I was a nurse. My initials at that time were S.L.O., and they figured on the middle of the buckle which I still have and treasure.

I recently realised, that although I reverted to my maiden name over twenty years ago, my full name really does now spell out SLoW – Sandra Louise Walsh!

So maybe this is leading me towards where my expertise could be focussed in the future?

Shall I be ‘The Slow Coach? It’s certainly a new way of being for me, and it’s enriching my life in so many ways.

I challenge you to slow down a little whenever you can, get to know your self better, and make the magical moments of life last longer!

“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.”
–John De Paola

Daring to be different, or ‘fitting in’?


 “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ~ Apple Inc.

Where do you see yourself? Are you doing what you’ve always wanted to do, or frequently wishing you could be living a different life?

For some reason I’d never heard of Steve Jobs until he died in 2011. Even then, I only learnt of his untimely death via Facebook, where I read a number of tributes to him from people I knew.

I was intrigued.

This man definitely sounded as though he’d dared to be different. I read more about him and watched Youtube videos of his speeches and was very impressed. He inspired me to buy an iPhone, and subsequently an Apple ‘Mac Air’ 13″ notebook computer. Previously I had no clue as to what the difference was between Apple and other systems – now I’m a convert.

How did I miss him?

I suspect it was because for years I’d vehemently avoided joining the ‘technological revolution’. I had an ancient ‘Motorolla’ mobile phone, which texted, called, and took photos (not terribly good quality), but I felt that was enough. Few people I knew personally had ‘Smart’ phones, and, probably most importantly, I didn’t think I’d be able to work out how to use one.

Making yourself noticeable

I guess it’s so much less challenging to ‘follow the crowd’ and just ‘fit in’ so no-one notices you.

I remember my youngest daughter once saying to me, “Mum. If you make yourself unnoticeable, no-one will notice you!” It sounds obvious really doesn’t it? I can’t recall exactly what was going on in my life at the time, but I suspect it was to do with my job and personal life, being afraid of rejection and not feeling ‘good enough’.

Over time though I’m proud to say I’ve faced many of my fears, and often challenged myself to my limits. I’ve had people say that I’m brave, and they wish they could travel/be adventurous/leave their unfulfilling job/dysfunctional relationship, etc. That “One day I want to …”, whatever it was for them. However, unless they can find the resources and courage to move out of their comfort zone, and realise it IS ok to not keep following the crowd, that ‘one day’ will eventually turn into ‘too late’.

One step at a time

Re-training at the age of 51 to ‘become’ a Life Coach, has been an amazing personal journey, which I know will continue for the foreseeable future. I’ve been astounded at the power of coaching to enable clients to uncover their limiting beliefs, face them head-on, and realise that the only thing limiting them from daring to be different and actualising their ‘One day I’ll …‘ is themselves.

Once they begin to take manageable steps towards the life they want, it begins to miraculously take shape, and their energy shifts from one of sameness and routine, often ruled by fear, to one of excitement, joy and hope for their future possibilities.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”~Mahatma Gandhi

Holidaying in Samoa last year, my friend and I came across a stunning vista – a breath-taking swimming hole inside an open-topped cave. The challenge was to climb down a rather basic wooden step ladder to reach the warm water. It looked terribly scary, and my immediate reaction was there was no way I could do it.

My brain imagined all the things that could go wrong, like slipping and falling, banging my head and being killed outright or dying in agony, or worst of all being maimed for life. Then I saw and heard people who’d already made it down there, and were having a great time. They’d overcome whatever fears they’d encountered. It looked so refreshing in the heat.

The more I opened up to possibilities, the more I realised I could either allow my fears to limit me and turn away from an experience of a lifetime, or I could put them in perspective and reduce the risks (which were real!) of falling – imagining myself achieving instead of ‘failing’.

I chose the latter. I was still aware of the consequences of slipping and falling – I just didn’t allow those thoughts to limit me. I listened to my inner coach rather than my inner critic/gremlin, and talked myself through the journey.

Here’s the water hole …


In the following video you’ll see me descending the ladder, albeit cautiously and carefully (apologies for the quality, it was taken by my astounded friend, who then decided if I could do it she could also – and did!), whilst coaching myself and breathing slowly and deeply to keep me calm …



And here I am at the bottom – so impressed with myself for overcoming my fears, and looking forward to the swim – before coaching myself to tackle the stairs again!

Samoa 24-31 august 2012 174

“If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it—through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated.” ~Victoria Moran

I’d love to hear from you.

When have you dared to be different?

How and why do you sometimes wish you could move away from ‘following the crowd’ and ‘fitting in’ to make yourself unnoticeable?

Coaching for life

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road’ll take you there” ~ George Harrison

What do you DO?

One of the first things most people say when I tell them I’m a ‘Life Coach’ (in response to the habitual way we identify people with their ‘jobs’ by enquiring ‘What do you do?’), is to ask what that means.

The enlightened amongst them may have personal experience of coaching, or know someone who has – and I believe this portion of the population will increase in the not too distant future.

By the end of this post I hope, as a reader, you’ll have more clarity around what I ‘do’ as a Holistic Life Coach, the far greater importance of what the client does, and why Life Coaching could help increase the happiness factor in your life.

Life Coach Training

The reason I chose to complete my training with Life Coach Associates (Auckland, New Zealand) was due to their initial focus on coaching for the student – they believe coaches can only take people as far as they’ve been themselves, so as well as an amazing training course, with ten long-weekend workshops over eighteen months, we also experienced group and individual coaching – lots of it. Oh, and 100 client contact case study hours (50% ‘free’, then 50% paid), including 30 supervised sessions.

I wish I’d known and availed myself of Life Coaching years ago.

Instead, I continued on my journey, not really knowing where I was going, unaware there may be something/somebody out there that could help me. Looking back I recall feeling frustrated and often unhappy, repeating the same old familiar patterns year in, year out, in so many areas of my life including relationships with others (family, friends, partners) and in my career, and wondering why I was getting similar results. However, I only really heard about the concept in 2002, when I’d begun my journey of self-discovery after spending nine months on a solo adventure, in the soul enriching country New Zealand.

Life Coaching in 2013

Some lesser known facts about Life Coaching include:

›  ~It’s not currently a recognised profession – but it’s only a matter of time!

›  ~There are literally thousands of ‘Life Coaches’ across the world

›  ~The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the largest professional body

›  ~Currently anyone can call themselves a ‘Life Coach’

In 2012 the words ‘Life Coach’ entered into Miriam Webster’s Dictionary. Their definition is:

an advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals, or deal with problems

Whilst it’s been applauded in the coaching world to have the words in the dictionary, it’s also been a concern that the definition is a little inaccurate – Life Coaches never use the term ‘advisor’ to define their role, as advice-giving is more appropriate to the role of a mentor.

As a coach I may question, probe, prod, reflect, clarify, challenge and many other things but virtually never do I advise, direct, instruct or provide recommendations. Together with the client I will suggest tools and exercises to use in between our sessions that may help to move them forward and shift their energy, and could bring those enlightening “Aha!” moments into their lives.

Holistic Coaching is an empowering relationship enabling people to create real sustainable change in their ’self’ and life.  With a holistic awareness-based approach, I can help identify opportunities and options to bring greater purpose, clarity and satisfaction for clients. I can weave threads into a coaching conversation so the client can visualise the cloth they’re describing for themselves at that moment.

We explore in depth:

The present: How to understand their current status quo and how they got there

The future: Look at creating a vision that fulfils their potential

Barriers: Possibilities to resolve the issues and patterns that stop them

Action: Find ways to develop a plan that will take them forward

The butterfly story

A man found a cocoon for a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared in the cocoon, so he sat and watched for several hours as the butterfly struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress, appearing stuck.

He decided to help the butterfly, and with a pair of scissors he cut open the cocoon. The beautiful butterfly then emerged easily. But something was strange. It had a swollen body and shrivelled wings, and as the man watched the butterfly expecting it to take on its correct proportions, nothing changed.

The butterfly stayed the same. It was never able to fly. In his kindness and haste the man didn’t realise that the butterfly’s struggle to get through the small opening of the cocoon is nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight.

Like the sapling that grows strong from being buffeted by the wind, we all need to struggle in life sometimes to make us strong.

Doing it for your self

When we coach and teach others, it’s helpful to recognise when people need to do things for themselves.

And that, in essence, is what Life Coaches like me do – we support and encourage clients to dig down into their belief systems, get curious about their behavior and patterns, why they do the things they do and find ways to look at what they want to, and can, change.

Life Coaches have been likened to ‘midwives who will transform the world’, which certainly resonates with me.

There’s an inspirational YouTube video by Wayne Dyer called

When you Change the Way you Look at Things, The Things You Look At Change

… that really shows how ridiculous it is to imagine someone outside of us can make us happy.

Life Coaches inspire in their clients the motivation to love themselves first and foremost, as only then will they find that mirrored in others.

I’d love to hear what experience you’ve had with a Life Coach, or what you’d be expecting from a Life Coach – the feedback from clients is generally that it’s not what they thought it would be, as they have preconceived thoughts of what’s ‘wrong’ with their life and what they think needs to be ‘fixed’.

I’ll be sharing some topics on this blog that could be helpful to support you to live extraordinary lives – or maybe open up a desire to explore a coaching relationship with me that could lead you into incredible “Aha” moments of your own …