Sometimes in lifecoach land everything can look like it is just fabulous. (See my recent post “You Make it Look So Easy: The Compare & Despair Economy .”  And well, the truth is, Mexico was pretty freaking fabulous. I 100% loved the women who came (we had an amazing group), the food from Via Organica was really delicious, and the retreat house completely satisfied my need for indoor/outdoor living space and beauty around every corner.

I’ve just gotten the pics back from Eileen, my VA and photographer who was busy capturing photos of the event and a bunch of head shots for me to find the one for my book cover. (You know I am going to show you and let you help me pick. Look for those plus a book update next week! For today just some fun black and whites which make me feel like a vintage movie star.)

But lest you think it was all smooth sailing, I have to also share about the moment when the bottom dropped out. The woman who attended the retreat have all heard this story already (and my VIP clients lived it in the flesh:)

So I arrived two days ahead of time and stayed at the bed and breakfast next door to our retreat house. I had worked it out with the owner of the house to go over a bit early the next afternoon to get acclimated and lay some treats out for my VIP clients (who were staying in the house with me and had the option of coming a day early.)

However… when I rolled my suitcase next door and rang the bell at the appointed time, no one answered. And no one answered. As I stood there in the midday heat I started to have a bad feeling — did the owner of the house not add this additional night to the contract? We had emailed about it and she said she would… but was it possible she wasn’t expecting us until tomorrow?!

Whatever you have anxiety dreams about: public-speaking, being at school and ill-prepared for the big test (I still have that one!), missing your plane etc, I felt like I was living my anxiety nightmare.

So what happened?

Well– I completely tripped my stress response. We are not taking a little subtle one, we are talking full blown fight/flight/freeze which for me looks like a kind of out of body experience. So I was sort of hovering above myself watching myself ring the doorbell again and again.

And into this state: kindness. Basically everyone who could have been nice to me was nice to me. Mr. Luis from the bed and breakfast next door realized my pickle and came out and got me, saying “Ms. Courtney please come inside and sit down.” He got me water and offered three rooms for my VIP clients (which was a huge relief given that they were arriving any moment from the airport). He called the landlord of the house from his phone because mine wasn’t working.

When my clients and assistant/hospitality goddess Katie arrived, they were so wonderfully gracious. The loved their rooms at the bed and breakfast and I took them to dinner and we had a wonderful time listening to the church bells and talking about what was stirring in their lives.

The caterer was super flexible about not being able to check out the space and kept telling me (in a nice way) to relax.

Meanwhile the owner of the house got my frantic emails and voice messages, realized her mistake and had the rooms fixed up pronto and worked out a smooth transfer with the bed and breakfast next door. So by the time we got back from dinner the house was open and ready for us. And even more lovely than any of us expected.

The best part of the story for me is how gorgeous the rest of the retreat was. It isn’t that there weren’t other snags. I started to call them “Mexican moments” like when we had to reschedule the yoga teacher or it turned out our dinner reservations were MIA.

But after you have stared down your worst nightmare, everything else feels pretty doable.

Also this story gave me some serious material to teach on. The first night we talked all about letting yourself receive. Which is such a powerful practice. So many of the women I work with are doers, dreamers, and contributors. They make their mark in big and small ways and never feel done. What a reminder that we cannot create the beauty we want in the world single-handedly. It is always a co-creation. With other people. And truthfully with Source, however you define it.

Also the explorations of the steps in the FLOURISH process about the mind/body connection and the Enneagram were totally enhanced by my recent experience.

For me, doing this work is all about equipping women to be their most resilient selves. And that was the best takeaway, that I could switch gears from a total shame spiral (I’ve done something wrong here or this problem wouldn’t be happening) to receiving help and ultimately not just moving on, but teaching from that fresh breakdown/breakthrough space. (Which is where the best learning is for each of us anyway.)

So look for lots more lovely pics soon. Seriously I can’t wait to share. But always know there is a back story and growing pains for every accomplishment. (At least there always is in my life. If you figure out how to do it differently I want to know!) The pic above is a fun black and white of me teaching. If I look ridiculously happy with that Enneagram book in my hand, it is because I was ridiculously happy teaching the Enneagram and the other steps to this powerful group of women.

If you want to create you own custom resiliency plan so that bumps and bruises are more quickly and easily converted to fuel for your most desired life — I am opening up another beta group for my 8 Step FLOURISH coaching program (Guess what?! this one includes the bonus of an adventure chic retreat in Central America in October of 2017!) If you are interested to learn more schedule your Complimentary Discovery Session here.



Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the creator of the 8 step FLOURISH Formula Coaching program and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram (a personality map), meditation, and mindbody practices to reduce stress as well as supporting busy women who want to unlock their greatest gifts and flourish in their personal lives. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can read about options for working with Courtney here and reach her directly at

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