This article previously appeared on Charlie’s blog “52 Fearless Fridays”

“Mom, can we please buy me a body wash?”

It was a simple request, but I thought of our tight budget and reminded him that we had just bought body wash for the kids’ shower.

“I know, but that doesn’t smell very much like a boy body wash. I want one that smells like a boy.”

He had a point. I remembered the struggle to get a teenage and a preteen girl to agree on one body wash, and they had eventually settled on some frou-frou fragrance that wasn’t the least bit manly. It had never occurred to me that a growing boy may not enjoy smelling like a tropical flower – vanilla- sunset after a shower! I agreed to take him to the soap aisle on our next trip to the store.

Make a quick trip to the soap aisle, grab something and go…at least that’s what I was expecting my son to do. No…we had to put every single body wash to the sniff test, weigh the merits of a single purpose product against a shampoo/body wash combo, and to make sure that everything met with the approval of my completely serious 8-year-old. Yeah…we spent almost 10 minutes choosing body wash.

This morning I was putting my son’s new body wash away and had to smile. My little guy is growing up and making choices for himself. I had a twinge of nostalgia and thought of endless bottles of cartoon character themed shampoo, rubber ducks, and other assorted bathtub toys. For a moment, I wished my kids would stop growing…or at least mature a little slower. The days of my making all of their choices for them are gone and their own opinions and styles are emerging to set them apart as individuals.

All of a sudden, I realized that the lesson here really had nothing to do with body wash, or even with letting my son smell test every choice on the shelf. It was to respect his opinion, to encourage him to have his own preferences and to encourage that individuality. Yes, my baby is growing up, and I want him to! I want him to figure out what he likes, the music he likes, the sports he wants to play, the teams he wants to cheer for…and yes, even how he wants to smell. He isn’t going to like all the same things that I do, that his sisters, father, grandparents, uncles, cousins or friends like. Eventually my son will figure out what he likes, and I’m sure there will be days when I’m struggling to remember what his new favorite color or song is. That’s okay.

Guess what…? You have the same right to have your own opinions, favorite things, and style. We tend to forget sometimes when we’ve been in a continually abusive relationship. You’ve always loved wearing green, but someone important says they don’t like the way you look in green…so you stop wearing it. You love heavy metal but your spouse insists that country is all you listen to together. Your friend ignores your requests to try a new restaurant in favor of her usual cafe…you get the idea!

If you are trying to step out of someone else’s shadow, it can be overwhelming to try to redefine yourself. What type of music stirs your soul? What colors bring a smile to your face? Are you a cat person or a dog lover? Don’t let it get overwhelming trying to figure everything out all at once. Go try on new clothes. Volunteer at a local animal shelter and find a new friend to adopt. Listen to music you’ve never heard before. Smell every body wash in the aisle.

Before long, you will find those things and experiences that resonate with you, and you will begin to define your own self. Don’t be afraid to try anything new, and don’t be afraid to change your mind over and over again until you are content. As you grow into yourself and become stronger, you will go through several seasons and will have different energy. You will resonate with different people, places, and things. No one else gets to tell you what works for you, so don’t be afraid to get out there and figure it out for yourself.

Remember that it’s important that YOU like the way you smell when you get out of the shower…
By: Charlie Wallace

With the holidays and gift giving just around the corner, it’s time to ask yourself that age-old question: What kind of gift do you give that person who has everything? No, don’t give them another fruitcake or pair of socks. How about a toolbox? No…not the kind you find at the local hardware store, although those are always handy; I’m thinking of the toolbox that equips someone to handle all the challenges that arise in life. Goal setting, decision making, reflection, and developing workarounds when the unexpected happens are all tools that allow us to navigate anything that comes our way.

Where do we get these tools? Sometimes we learn them from parents or from mentors, other times we enlist the aid of someone to coach us and to teach us these skills. Just as a carpenter passes on his knowledge to an apprentice with the understanding that the apprentice will learn to create beautiful works and to carry out repairs, the same is true of a coach.

What exactly does a coach do? We listen to a client’s history and what they want to accomplish, then work with the client to create goals and help them refine those goals to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time based. We assist the client in planning ahead, because sometimes life happens and even the best goal needs a back up plan. Some projects that I’ve helped clients with are direct sales businesses, out of state moves, career changes, and finding direction after leaving an abusive relationship.

Many coaches tend to coach in one or two specific areas. Some specialize in teaching entrepreneurs how to build successful businesses. Others such as Brandon Duncan, Marci Lock, and Sean Whalen teach clients how to become the best they can be. Cassie Howard focuses on teaching kick-butt women how to be awesome businesswomen. Ginny Priz coaches on living without getting caught up in the drama of life and Sandy Griffin coaches on living a life of excellence. Each coach brings their unique perspective and toolbox to aid and teach their clients for a season. For just about any season you are going through, there is someone with the tools and the desire to help you through.

Okay, so why would you hire a coach? Are you feeling stuck, like there should be more to life than just going to work and coming home to watch Netflix? Do you feel there is something you should be doing to make the world a better place but you just don’t know what? A coach will help you brainstorm on what your mission could be, help you research your options, create realistic goals to make it happen, and help you get started.

Are you close to graduation and aren’t sure what direction to take after college or high school (or retirement!)? Call a coach to help you figure out what you enjoy, what your strengths and skills are, and to help youcreate the strategy to move into your next stage of life. Are you looking to change careers? A coach can help you strategically search for new employment while maintaining a healthy mindset in your current job. Are you looking to lose weight or get in shape? Guess what? A coach would be able to assist you there, too.

How do you find a coach? Doing a Google search will turn up an overwhelming number of candidates. Try searching for a specific niche, such as business or fitness. Look for a coach who does client interviews before asking for a contract or money. It is vital that you trust your coach and that they feel they can have a good professional relationship with you. Some coaches charge per session, and some offer packages for a set number of sessions or a set time frame. Find a situation that you are comfortable with. Sessions may be held in person, which does have some advantages, but an experienced coach can work with you over the phone or video chat and get excellent results for you as well. Don’t let location be a deterrent from working with the right coach for you.

Maybe that special person who is so difficult to shop for would enjoy working with a coach to help with their New Year’s goals? It’s always fun to think outside the box and to help someone else be excellent.
By: Charlie Wallace