Every day we make decisions that move us toward something. You are a different person today than you were 10 years ago. And while there may have been some significant turning points along the way, chances are that most of the change was incremental, even imperceptible. And yet, those imperceptible moments are devastatingly important. Did I move toward LOVE today? Or did I resist it? Did I press in to the place of fear? Or did I shrink back, choosing the perceived safety of my comfort zone?

The reality is, we are faced with dozens of these decisions every single day, but most of them slip by unnoticed. In our media-saturated culture, we are so inundated with consumable content that days (weeks, months) can go by without paying attention to our inner life. It’s all too easy to keep our gaze fixed outward – scrolling, scrolling, scrolling – until we are so overloaded with sensory information that we are numb (blind, deaf) to the deeper realities that shape our souls.

What if that vague sense of dread we feel when we wake up in the morning – the dread that, ironically, we are trying to escape when we look at our screens – is actually a consequence of this consumeristic way of life? What if the suffering in our minds – the mental anguish we are trying to squelch – is connected to the suffering around us? What if, the more we try to isolate ourselves from the pain of the man on the street, the more the pain inside us grows?

But what if the opposite is also true? What if your healing and abundance is tied up with his? What if you will never be free (whole, alive) until he is? How would that change the way you move through life?

Let me suggest that you were meant for more than mindless consumption. In your being, lie seeds of creativity and beauty that long to be unleashed. There is a salve in your soul that exists nowhere else on this planet, and until it is discovered and released, a certain strand of suffering will persist. Your well-being, and the well-being of so many others, depends on connecting your unique gift with the pain around you. It is only in this place of connection, where love and healing flow freely back and forth, that you can be fully alive.

Part of the unique gift that I have to offer the world is creating safe spaces where transformation can happen. Real, genuine transformation – the kind that changes our being, not just our doing – requires taking risks. And to take risks, we must feel safe, and seen, and known, and loved. We must know that we’re not alone, that we’re not crazy, that someone will catch us if we fall. We need access to perspectives outside of our own, and the kind of gentle guidance that makes us want to step forward.

If you are still reading, I can only assume that something here resonates with you. Maybe you have grown weary of the glow of your screen. Maybe you have been moved by the story of a refugee (immigrant, inmate), but have felt powerless to help. Maybe you can’t put your finger on the cause, but you know that something about your current way of life isn’t working.

If you knew that a different kind of life was possible, would you step toward it? Or would you shrink back, afraid of what it might cost you? There is no shame in fear. Our fears and our deepest longings are often entangled with one another. The question isn't, "Am I afraid?" or even, "Why am I afraid?" but rather,

"Who do I want to be in the face of fear?"


Imagine you are sitting at a table across from three other people. One is a counselor, one is a consultant, and one is a coach. They all want to help you, but you aren’t sure who is the best fit for what you are facing in this season of life.

An awkward silence is enveloping the room, when the consultant finally speaks up. “Tell me your problem, and I’ll tell you how to solve it.”

“Ok,” you respond, happy to play along. “Only…I’m not sure what my ‘problem’ is. I’m not entirely sure that I have a ‘problem.’”

“Well,” the consultant continues, “when you figure it out, you know who to call. I’ll tell you the best practices to get the best results.”

“Do you think that part of what you’re struggling with lies in your past?” the counselor asks. “Maybe you had an experience that you need to process?”

You think about this for a moment. “I’ve definitely had some painful experiences in my life,” you say, “and I want to continue growing in awareness about how they impact me. But I’ve already done a lot of work there, so I don’t think that’s my primary concern at the moment.”

“I’m glad to hear you’ve already done some healing work,” the counselor reflects back. “But even healthy people can feel emotionally or mentally fragile from time to time. Is that part of what you’re experiencing? Do you need someone to be strong for you right now?”

“I know exactly what you’re talking about,” you say. “Last year I was in the midst of a break-up and I felt like I was falling apart. ‘Fragile’ is exactly the world for it. Some of my friends were encouraging me to start dating again, but the last thing I wanted to do was get into action. I sort of just felt like I needed a hug…for, like, 6 months.”

The counselor smiles warmly.

You continue, “But I feel different now. More sure of myself. Stronger. Ready to do something, even if I’m not sure what.”

The coach, who has been listening intently up until this point, leans forward. “A year from now,” she asks, “what do you want to be different about your life?”

Something inside of you awakens at the possibilities contained in this question. You want so many things to be different! But nothing feels clear. And suddenly, a doubt emerges in the corner of your mind.

“I’m not sure,” you finally say, when the silence has stretched beyond what’s comfortable. “There’s a lot I want to change, but most of it feels impossible. So maybe it’s pointless to think that way.”

The coach nods and leans in a little closer. “Fair enough. It can be scary to allow ourselves to hope for something new, especially if we’ve been disappointed before.”

“Yeah, exactly. It’s like if things don’t work out, then I’ll be worse off than I am now. More cynical.”

“So what if,” the coach continues, “we can just pretend for a minute. Pretend that you have a magic wand, and that you can use this wand to do anything you want. What would you do?”

With your self-doubt on hold for the moment, the vision begins to pour in. Suddenly you are able to access parts of yourself that have been shut down for years – childhood dreams, youthful aspirations, desires you didn’t know you still had. What if you could restore that relationship? What if you had the courage to take that risk? What if you could share that part of yourself that you’ve always hidden? What if…what if…what if…? It’s a little overwhelming, thinking this way, but also exhilarating. Deep inside, you can feel something sparking back into life.

Ok, ok, I’m obviously a little biased for making the coach the hero of that story. Or rather, for creating a protagonist who *happened* to need a coach more than a consultant or a counselor. But the truth is, all three helping professions serve a unique and important role. If you’re still unsure which one is right for you, use the following assessment.

  • Do you have a concrete, industry-specific problem you are trying to solve (e.g. business marketing, non-profit fundraising)?
  • Do you not want to waste time making your own mistakes?
  • Do you want the opinion of an expert in your field?
  • Do you prefer having people tell you “what works” and implementing it?

If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions, then you would be best served by a consultant. A consultant is an expert brought in to give advice on a particular topic. Their job is to provide time-tested answers. They will give you their best thinking, instead of drawing out your best thinking.

If you answered "no," keep reading.

  • Do you have unprocessed trauma in your past?
  • Do you feel emotionally or mentally fragile?
  • Do you need to experience some healing before you will be ready to get into action?
  • Do you wonder if you struggle with a mental illness and/or if you need medication to feel stable?

If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions, then you would be best served by a counselor. A counselor is trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. They can also serve as a safe space to process painful experiences. Counselors tend to focus on the past, and ask "why" questions (e.g. Why did you do that?) to understand the root cause of mental/emotional struggles.

If you answered "no," keep reading.

  • Are you seeking clarity about your goals and who you want to be in the world?
  • Do you sense that the answers you seek lie within, if only you knew how to access them?
  • Are you willing to do the hard work of wrestling with challenging questions?
  • Are you ready to get into action? Or at least, do you want to be ready?

If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions, then you would be best served by a coach. A coach starts with the assumption that the client is emotionally healthy enough to arrive at their own solutions.  The coaching philosophy is that my best answer may not be the best answer for you. Instead of telling you what I would do in your situation, a coach asks powerful questions to reorient your perspective so that you can discern for yourself the best way forward. Coaches focus on the present and future, asking "what" and "how" questions (e.g. What do you want to do now? How will you implement that change?)

A coach walks with you toward your goals.

A coach asks powerful questions, and listens deeply to hear what's underneath your answer.

By drawing out the hopes, dreams, and strengths that lie within you - sometimes buried and forgotten - a coach helps you rediscover what matters to you and provides support as you realign your life with those values.


Since entering into a new relationship can be scary, let me tell you exactly what you can expect.

How does the coaching relationship begin?

  1. If something on this page resonates with you and you would like to explore whether I am the right coach for you, the first step is to fill out this interest form.
  2. If you or I have any questions for each other, we will then set up a conversation to discern whether we are a good fit. (If there is clarity on both sides, then we can skip this step.)
  3. If we determine that we both want to move forward, then I will send you a more detailed questionnaire to learn about you, your background, and how I can best support you.
  4. We will then get our first meeting on the calendar and let the transformation work begin!

What does a typical coaching session look like?

A typical coaching session will last about 60 minutes. During that time, several things will happen:

  1. I will check in with you about any action steps that you committed to in our previous session. This is done without judgment or shame. There are no grades and there is no way to fail. Whatever you have (or haven't) done, there is always something that can be learned to help you grow.
  2. I will then ask you what you want to focus on during the session. Sometimes you will know this right away. Sometimes I will need to ask a few more questions to draw out what would be most helpful to you. We will work together until we have a clear and relevant result that we are aiming toward.
  3. The bulk of our time will be spent creating new awareness. Guided by the focus that you choose, I will ask you questions to stretch your thinking beyond your current perspective. New insights will emerge that bring clarity, confidence, and energy.
  4. To conclude, you will tell me where you want to get into action before our next meeting. I will help you hone your action steps until they are clear, specific, and achievable.

How long does the coaching relationship last?

This largely depends on what your goals are, but 6 months is a good estimate in the beginning. We will check in periodically to assess your progress in relation to that time frame, and can adjust our arrangement to fit your pace. Obviously if you have a goal with a hard external deadline (e.g. I need to finish this project by 12/1), then we will work with that. I don't recommend any less than 3 months if at all possible.

What are you passionate about?

Where would you like to direct your energy?

Where do you feel stuck?

What's one thing you could accomplish in the next six months

that would significantly change your life?

About Me image

I love to work with clients who think and feel deeply, and who want to wrestle with how to contribute their unique gifts to the world. My approach is calm and relaxed. I believe that answers emerge when we can quiet the internal and external voices that cloud our minds. As an Enneagram 4, I enjoy plumbing the depths of any thought or feeling that has you stuck. I will always get you to action, but only after a time of deep reflection and awareness.

Other interests include: racial reconciliation, vegan lifestyle, non-traditional family, living in community, family systems theory, minimizing technology, creating > consuming, embodying LOVE.

Cost image

My standard rate is $150/month. Each month includes at least 2 coaching sessions, plus access to additional support and resources.

If cost is prohibitive, you can apply for a scholarship here. It is my firm belief that transformation work should not be a privilege of the wealthy, but should be available to anyone who wants it. If you determine that I am a good fit for you as a coach, and if you are willing to invest your time and energy, please don't let cost be a barrier!

Next Steps image

To take the next step toward your goals, fill out this interest form, or email me at deborah@bodyoakcliff.net

If you're still on the fence, subscribe to my email list so you can receive transformative content and get a better sense of my vibe.