Emotional Awareness and Resilience Coach, Author, and Speaker

Lou’s Bio

As an Emotional Awareness coach, author, and speaker, Lou’s mission is to help people of all ages understand and gain ownership over their emotions, so they can live the life they choose.

Through his personal experience, having successfully completed a multitude of endurance athletic events over the past decade, including the Boston Marathon, Ironman, and ultramarathons, as well his study of eastern medicine and philosophy Lou has developed tools for building mental and emotional tools that have the ability to benefit anyone looking to bring their best selves to every situation.

Beyond his own practice, Lou transformed his knowledge into an accessible methods and tools that anyone can use in their own life. Through his presentations, workshops, as well as individual and group coaching Lou helps students, parents, mentors, caregivers, teachers, athletes and leaders gain ownership of their choices by knowing how to use their emotions in a way that serves their goals.

Chew on Your Perspective

My father can’t find his teeth.  He is certain that someone stole them. Between the scowling and cursing, I realize he looks like one of those old men who sat up in the corner of the Muppet Show. I can’t help it, my mind drifts sometimes.  By this time every family member that’s visiting him is looking for his teeth but none of us can find them. For most people it would be good enough just to look in someone’s mouth and voila there you go. But my father has fake teeth.

Let’s back up a bit. 

My father lives now in a medical-assisted community. He shares a room with a nice old gentleman, and there are many people on his floor.  All of them are his friends, and all of them are out to get him. His teeth specifically. He begins to point out some of the possible culprits, and we all start to go over to each of them and ask about my father’s teeth. Every one of these people seem to like my father a lot, and they also have no idea where he might’ve put his choppers.  Finally, after a good half hour of good cop – bad cop, where one of us asked nicely and then my father comes in accusing the person, I finally see a nurse.

I find that I have a little bit of an edge of my voice when I start to ask about where my father’s teeth could be and who could’ve taken them. The nurse giggles a little bit. She can tell that I am not finding it too funny.  “This happens about once a week,” she says, in the kindest tone possible. I’m looking at her like a jigsaw puzzle that I can’t figure out. “Your father is a bit of a social butterfly on the floor. He also likes to tease and kid with the other residents, and in all honesty they love him for it. The problem is, he forgets that he hides his teeth under different people’s pillows to scare them at night when they wake up. And because of his Alzheimer’s, he forgets that he does it.”

It feels like the nurse just grabbed both of my ankles, turned me upside down, and shook all the change out of my pockets – or rather all the wrong perspectives out of my head. What was I thinking? My father has Alzheimer’s. I took the very first perspective that I heard and made it truth, without considering that someone else might have an equal or maybe even more valid perspective than that of the man running around hiding his dentures under pillows.

How true is this of all of us? How many times do we just believe what we want to believe, without doing a little bit of research? Sometimes it’s just easier to take the truth we’re given than to use our awareness and our ability to discern truth for ourselves. 

So far, the truth that I’ve just gotten adds up to what I KNOW about my Dad. He is a jokester and he makes friends easily. Him hiding his choppers under somebody’s pillow is not surprising to me. In fact, it is easier to believe than someone on the third floor of this medical facility having a real thing for my father’s fake teeth.

So, now that I’m paying attention, using my ability to discern what I know of my father, AND keeping my mind open to different possibilities, I look a little closer.  The nurse’s revelation has helped illuminate another truth that I think I might’ve missed: my father has made real connections with these people on his floor. None of them seem to react to these accusations of teeth theft. In fact, they seem to enjoy the bit of drama that he’s providing even in the moments where he’s not fully himself. 

My father can make connections with people because he treats everyone as equals. No one is better than anyone else in my dad‘s eyes. It has allowed him to bring real life and community to a place that could’ve very well stayed just a facility filled with people who ‘kind of’ knew each other.

I kindly begin to ask each one of my father’s neighbors if I could look under their pillows. They all oblige. None of them look at me like I’m crazy, most likely because each one of them has found my father’s teeth under their pillow in the middle of the night at least once when they least expected it. It only takes about four inspections, and his dentures are retrieved.  My father is momentarily out of his fog, remembers what he did, laughs a bit and whispers, “Did I get him Louie? Did I get him?”  

I give him a kiss on his forehead. “Could you stop scaring these people!“ 

“Oh, they love it, Louie. They know I’m only kiddin’,” he says. I chuckle a bit. He’s right.  After taking the time to give my father’s perspective my full attention, I know he’s spot on. 😊

The ‘Present’ is in the Box

I’m in line at the grocery store. But not really. My mind is 100 other places.  I’ve asked the cashier for an empty box. She looks at me inquisitively. I’m feeling a bit self-questioning already actually. I’ve just figured out a new game that I want to do on Fridays with my middle school cross country runners.  It should be fun and exciting, and also get them running a bit and loosened up before the meet on Saturday. The game includes taking two pieces of either fruit or vegetables and hiding them in the woods (this week’s victims are two butternut squash named Hank and Bertha).

I’ve run this idea by about a half a dozen people, children as well as adults, and everybody wants to know what’s in the box. This game should be a hit!  We should all have a lot of fun, but right now my mind keeps running over all the things that could go wrong. It is literally playing out every scenario that doesn’t work.  Hank and Bertha don’t get found. The runners get lost in the woods and miss the late bus. Nobody even cares what’s in the box – I find this last one hard to believe, but my mind is having a field day!

I’d like to say that this thought process has only been going on since I got in the check-out line, but I’ve been mulling it over all day. Practice is literally a little over an hour from now, yet it seems like I’ve been wondering if this new game’s gonna’ work out since I thought of it yesterday. That’s 23 hours of not being present with my work, with my family, with my run on the trails. Even standing in this line…

We all get 24 hours each day.  It doesn’t matter who you are, that’s all you get. Rich or poor. Strong or weak. Bald or a full head of hair. Those 24 hours are the same for everyone.   

Except they’re not. Not really. 

When you are caught up in your emotions, you can lose time.  You can find yourself allowing uncomfortable emotions to make your decisions for you, driving your thinking.  This leaves you, the decision-maker, taking a backseat to your own life. When your mind floods with uncertainty, doubt, and fear you can get lost in the memories of uncomfortable setbacks that you cannot change, or an uncertain future that you are convinced will hold every failure you can imagine.  

This doesn’t mean you ignore the information that your emotions provide.  When you have a fearful memory, acknowledge that fearful memory, rather than allowing it to take up your time in the present. Look at it with your full awareness on what is actually happening in the present moment. Then you can let the emotion pass, refocusing on what is going on right now for you. 

You can feel sad, for example, because you are missing a loved one who is not at a family gathering. You can also realize that you don’t want to feel sad right now and choose instead to recall good memories of your loved one that make you smile.  Or you can go talk to cousin Jeff (we all have a cousin Jeff 😊) who always feels good to be around, leaving you in a better emotional space. The trick is to always use your ability to listen to your emotions as fuel to keep you in the present moment rather than allowing them to take you from it!

I hear the cashier ask me why I need a box? “It’s a game I created for my runners,” I tell her. “The winner gets to decide whether or not they want what’s in the box or 6 Jolly Ranchers.”

She laughs and says, “Well that will keep their attention!”  

I take a deep breath. I finally allow myself to begin to trust the game will work and decide to move my attention to the other things I have to do. It’s true I feel uncertain about how it will go, but that won’t help me create the talk I have coming up in a few weeks.  I’ll let my ‘what if’ scenarios play out over possible edits to what I want to say. Allow the fuel of my uncertainty to do some good for me. I’ll give my attention to “what’s in the box” during practice!

The Power of Visualization

I can’t see my front runner. I’m looking through the trees and I can hear cheering, but no one’s come out yet. The girls earned a perfect score of 15 literally 20 minutes ago, which is something rarely seen as a coach. Now the boys have a chance to do the same. If the girls and boys both put up a perfect score it’s honestly something that I have never seen before in all of my coaching. 

I asked Katie, one of my Cross Country ‘animals’ who just finished as a top-five runner for the first time, to come and cheer on the boys with me. I’m still shouting encouragement for the boys, who have yet to emerge from the woods, when she comes over. Katie begins to tell me about her race. Honestly, I’m only half listening. What I mean is that half of my focus is waiting for my runners to come out of the woods, and the other half is ‘kind of’ paying attention to what she’s saying. All the sudden a few words trigger my ears to fully listen.  Katie is talking about a woman on her course who was cheering for her daughter to get up the hill. She explained that she decided to replace that woman’s daughter’s name with her own name, so every time this woman cheered for her daughter, Katie imagined that she was cheering for her.

I begin to feel my attention bend away from the woods and onto Katie’s words.  

She continues on about the large crowd in the woods. They were yelling and screaming and cheering and you couldn’t even tell who they were cheering for. Katie said she began to visualize all those people were shouting for her and that they were pointing at her, smiling at her, and encouraging her on.  Now, you may be saying that is really sweet and nice, but I want you to take into account that Katie had not been even a top 10 runner so far this season. On top of that, she had stomach cramps right before the race started. 

I asked her where she learned to do this visualization.  I heard someone in the crowd behind me say she would make a great coach!  I agreed, she absolutely would. Then I said, “What you’re talking about will get you to the next level, Katie. Top five at the middle school race is only the beginning for someone who knows how to use their mind.”

Fast forward.  Both our girls’ and our boys’ teams ended up sweeping the meet with perfect scores!  We took the bus ride home cheerfully, both me and my assistant coach knowing full well that we had a 20-mile run to do as soon as we got back to the school. We’re training together for 50k.  I don’t think I realized how much the meet wore on me, or how much energy I gave out until mid-way through the third lap of a five-lap, looped route we had chosen to do for this run.

I was really struggling. When you’re that physically exhausted, sugar (i.e. energy) becomes scarce for your mental faculties, and your emotions run high.  The mind begins to look for your “why.” It needs to know, in the wake of serious energy depletion, that there’s a bigger purpose. So, I took some time and sat down on the side of the trail. I’ve done a lot of 50k and 50-mile ultra-races in my life and I wondered why I was doing this one. I needed to know. I thought of how my friend was doing his first 50k, so he was inspired for this accomplishment. I also knew that I wanted to do a 100-mile race in a year or two, but that was a long way off to try and justify getting around this loop two more times.  

Then, I thought of Katie.

I realized I could visualize these next two loops, these last 8 miles, as the very end of my hundred-mile race.  I imagined this was my mind questioning me while I was trying to finish that race; how would I find the energy to finish? I imagined races where I had struggled. I imagined pulling out fresh shoes, eating some soup, the dark of night, sweat coming off of my brow. The look of total understanding runners give each other in the late stages of a race. What would it be like to be only 8 miles shy of 100 miles and feel this bad? More importantly, how would it feel and how would I get through it? Because it was coming. No matter how much I trained physically, there is no substitute for being completely physically, mentally, and emotionally fatigued and moving through it. I got up. I visualized myself leaving the aid station, walking at first then easing into a slow run. I reminded myself how with every step forward I was getting closer to the finish line. I imagined people cheering as I crossed the finish line. Handing me soup and a warm blanket. The feeling of completion.

When I finished those last two loops I had level of pride in myself that I haven’t felt in a long time. It was truly difficult, and I felt courageous for getting through that training run. More so than some of the races I had done in the past couple years. It took a 13-year-old girl on my cross-country team to remind me to visualize what I needed to give my absolute best effort. To use my mental tools in a way that would benefit my reality instead of allowing my environment to dictate my performance and when I would throw in the towel. In the darkest moments of my races to come I will remember the inspiration I borrowed from Katie.

What people are saying

  • “I was having real difficulty, not just creating a relationship with my son and daughter,
    but being able to
    parent him without getting caught in my anger all the time.
    After being in Lou’s workshop, I definitely feel more in control
    of my emotions and actions at work, with my kids, everywhere.“

    – Educator and mother of two

  • “Lou is able to take things that most of us feel and have difficulty expressing and give words to them. He makes what we’re feeling accessible to us through humor and great story telling.”

    – Social Worker, mother of three

  • “Lou is one of those special peopl who gets kids AND adults.  You see it in his coaching cross-country as well as his books and workshops.  His compassionate treatment of children and adults alike as we learn to help each other grow in emotional awareness and skills is so needed today, so centering and enlivening.  Thank you Lou for all you are and what you do with it!”

    Sally Kendall, MT and Intructor

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