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.

Give Thanks…For All of Your Emotions

I’m sick.  I’ve got to be honest, it’s hard to give thanks when I’m feeling cruddy – especially right before a race!  I’ve always known that you never really go into a race one-hundred percent, but I was really hoping to not bring my percentage down with the flu before I even toed the starting line. I can feel the anger building up in my chest. I trained hard for this!  In fact, I’m already more than a little worried that my new training method might not have been the right sort of plan for me, and I really don’t need a little bit of something extra like this cold creeping into my body alongside the rest of the self-doubt.  

If I’m being honest with myself (and everyone reading), I have to concede that one of the biggest reasons for me doing any of these races is the emotional challenge they provide. Signing up, following through with training, toeing the line, and finally, hopefully, ‘letting go’ of the outcome so I can give my best effort are all incredible mental-emotional tools that help me trust myself.  This is especially true when my mind and body start in on me, screaming at me in their many uncomfortable emotional languages – fear shouting at me to stop this nonsense altogether, while uncertainty is certain that I have no idea what dangers are lurking in the later miles! In fact, I might as well toss in the towel now; self-doubt is very pessimistic that I will finish the race at all. Then there’s anger, and anger is, well…furious of course, that I would chose to start anything this stupid in the first place!  I’m sure some of you can relate.

What I’ve learned, though, is that you don’t want to get rid of these emotions.  But you do want to harness them. And there is one voice in your head that can help bring these emotions into balance.  A voice that will give you the facts, not lie to you, and will not allow your head to be filled with an unhelpful adrenaline cocktail either.  A voice that will burn those emotions to fuel your motivation, hone your focus, and remind you why you chose your noble pursuit in the first place.  Who’s voice is that? It’s the voice of your internal coach. That’s the voice that helps you wade through the uncertainty, anger, fear, and doubt that are ever-present in the beginning, middle, and especially in the late hours of those races.  

But right now my head is being filled with a ‘larger than life’ anger shouting, “This isn’t fair!  We’re not even racing yet and I feel like crap!” In fact, it is so loud, I’m having trouble hearing my internal coach over the din.

I start to think about the training method I used this time around. Many long, slow miles, with an emphasis on ‘many miles.’  I have to say, especially with a sore throat and a handful of tissues in my pocket, my internal coach is having a hard time settling my fear that I’m going to be able to get through these 50 miles looming up very soon. With every sneeze jump-started by my newly unwanted virus, I feel my confidence plummeting while I listen to the race director 45 minutes before the start.  The voice of my internal coach finally finds its way front and center:

This could be a blessing.


Your cold!

(Wry laugh) You can’t be – 

Seriously you’re not gonna’ have any trouble keeping your heart rate down now.

Yeah, but my fever could spike my heart rate.

And what’s that going to mean to you? Besides the fact that you’re just going to need to go slow. Isn’t that what you wanted to make sure you did for this race anyway?

Yeah but this is going to be really slow now!!!

Well, the way I see it, you’re in a win-win situation.

Funny how you always seem to see it that –

No one, including your very incredibly judgemental self can blame you for not finishing a race with the flu. And, if you do finish it before the 12-hour time, well, you’ll be ecstatic with yourself and you will have qualified for other races. The only way you can lose is by not showing up.

Damn.  I’m not gonna lie.  He makes a lot of sense.  It seems weird to say that since he is me, but you know what I mean.

At the end of the day, I must say, I couldn’t have been more proud of how I raced, but I also have to acknowledge that I didn’t run it alone.  My internal coach was there every step of the way. He reminded me when I got onto the Appalachian Trail that I could literally run a 15-minute per mile pace and STILL have plenty of time to get under 12 hours for the day, so slow down.  He was there on the flats of the C&O Canal to urge me to consider putting hiking into each mile and helped me to trust it wouldn’t significantly slow me down over the next 27 miles. And he was more than present in those last 8 miles to hold my feet to the fire to keep my tired legs firing in order to find a strong finish within myself.

All in all, I managed to keep myself in check and run a brilliant race, not in spite of my cold but because of it. My compromised immune system brought up all kinds of uncomfortable emotions that, when harnessed, helped me pace myself and trust my training.  I not only came in under 12 hours, I actually broke a 10-year personal record by two minutes with a 9:45 finishing time. It seems the feelings that I was so sure we’re going to ruin any chance I had of having a successful race were the very feelings that kept me in check and focused on running within my limits. There truly are no useless emotions and I am grateful for everything that I felt during the race. But right now? I am ready to allow the pride and confidence in along with utter joy while I eat some chicken soup.

Emotional Prerequisite – You Have to Feel Them

I want a diet soda. I’ve been driving for 7½ hours after visiting my son at his college. I’ve stopped at a rest area and I’m trying to keep myself from eating sugar because I’m exhausted and out of sheer boredom.  I decide that a diet soda is the best compromise. There’s a little souvenir shop with all kinds of New York stuff where I know I can easily get the soda, but then there’s also a Roy Rogers! A choice for Roy’s comes with a lot of other baggage — I’ve talked about this is a previous blog, also while on another trip to see my son, only it was a Burger King in that case.  The difference here is that I know it’s going on, so I decide in the souvenir shop. 

I end up very proud of myself as I walk out of there with just a Diet Coke. I get back on the road to continue my drive with several more hours to go.  I take all the steps I should to try and get rid of this exhaustion, feeling of loneliness, and general malaise. I go to my tools! 

First to phone calls. This helps for a little bit to keep my mind off the drive with some good conversations. But, to be honest, I’m not in a place to make very good conversation, so therefore it’s really hard to stay in them. 

Next, I try fishing for confidence and a feeling of capability by doing some of my work in the car, but my eyes are shot and my energy is crap. So, I reach for another tool. I start reminding myself that these feelings will change.  But, in truth, I’ve had these feelings since I woke up this morning, it’s been a long day and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better from an emotional perspective. 

I dig my ‘hand’ into my toolbelt again. I can focus on other things. There are other things that are going on in my life that can help me feel better and by paying attention to them I can change the way I feel now.  The problem is I’m so tired every time I try to put my focus on something else my brain actually hurts. No joke. I feel that itchy feeling that makes you want to get out of your own skin — or maybe for me at the moment it’s more like I just want to get out of my car! I’m wishing these hours on the road would pass more quickly than they are, but I’m not having a lot of luck. And I’m running out of tools. 

There is truly only one tool left. One that works especially well when you’re combating fatigue. Because, truth be told, in the words of the great Vince Lombardi (if you don’t know who he was, he was a hell of a football coach!): “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Coach Lombardi was spot on because when we run out of energy, we run out of the ability to be our best selves. What we’re left with is grasping. Wrestling at a performance that is out of our range, whether it’s our fault or maybe just circumstance, we are really just out of gas. I think some words that were probably never said by Coach Lombardi, but might have been the thing that would’ve helped his players the most, is the same thing that could help me right now:

Sometimes it’s just OK to not be at your best.

Knowing that you are engaging in whatever sport, whatever activity, or whatever situation in your life from a less-than-perfect energetic stance may actually allow for the best performance at the moment since it is the best you have.  Sometimes, instead of looking for your best, you just need to look for the best you have in the moment that you are in.

Right now, while I’m driving, and exhausted, and lonely, I can’t compose the perfect chapter in the new book I’m trying to write. But maybe I can put some ideas down that I wouldn’t have gotten if I didn’t try while I was tired. So I don’t have the best conversation in the world with a couple friends that I call looking for connection, but maybe it’s better that I call in the first place and we both get some connection and we remember why we’re friends. Maybe Diet Coke isn’t the best choice, but a Caesar salad with light dressing is.  But a Diet Coke isn’t a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, so maybe there’s something to be grateful for in that.

We all function on our own plane (where we are in the present, physically, mentally, and emotionally). A plane shift (significant change in one or all of these areas) usually happens when we are our best selves for a prolonged period of time, or something monumental occurs causing us to rise to the occasion, bursting through our present plane, leaving us with a new-found knowledge that we are more than we had ever thought possible. However, where we are within our present plane depends on where we are at any given moment physically, mentally, and emotionally.  

So I may need to concede that today most likely isn’t going to be “plane shift” day.  No saving children from burning buildings (hopefully not needed while driving), no writing the next great american novel, or ushering in the next renaissance era. But that doesn’t mean I have to fall out of the plane that I’m already in. I don’t have to be my best, I just have to keep trying my best wherever I am.  While the words of the great Lombardi ring true on fatigue, a fairly decent president wedged between Thomas Jefferson, and Honest Abe on Mount Rushmore also once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Well, right now I’m on the road. I can focus my mind on the task at hand and be the best driver I can, so I can get safely home and sleep in my own bed tonight.

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. 😊

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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