Looking Back to 1995 and Forward to 2022 – San Diego

It was 1995. We had spent 3 years building our sailboat Synchronicity, a Fraser 41, in our backyard. Today she wasbeing delivered by truck to North Vancouver, BC and launched in Mosquito Creek Marina. What a day it was. With the girls tucked away sleeping in the v-berth Dave and I sat looking at each other on the settee. Silently I thought, “What have we done?”

We had sold all our possessions including our house and now moved on a sailboat. With our two young girls, ages 3 and 8.Were we crazy for doing these things? Neither set of our parents ever voiced disapproval (or even approval for that matter), ofour plans to sail the world. Not that we needed approval since we were well into our 30’s. But does seeking approval from our elders ever go away? Looking back, we decided to accept their quietness as approval for our own sakes. 

Jessica, Dave and Leah

Fast forward to 1998. We had lived aboard in North Vancouver through three dark, wet winters, and it was finally time to wavegoodbye to our friends and family. The emotions I had were mixed excitement with fear and anxiety, not knowing what it would be like to sail offshore. 

We decided to do a straight shot to San Diego. We received a decent forecast and went for it. My confidence built as I took my turn on watches with Dave. By the time we arrived in San Diego, 9 days out from Vancouver, I was elated. I had managed my seasickness and been a part of our first sailing voyage from Vancouver to San Diego. San Diego was just the first of many passages that took us all around the world. Four years later we returned to Vancouver, sailing under Lion’s Gate Bridge feeling elated that we had circumnavigated the globe, and curious to see what would be next for our family. 

Time hop once more with me. It’s now 24 years later, and here we are setting sail once again. This time it’s just Dave and I. Our daughters are both married and have their own lives. Leah, age 35, has her own sailboat (1’ bigger than her parents’, she’ll proudly tell you) and is raising our grandson with her husband aboard. Jess has a thriving baking business and just got married. This time Dave and I will be doing this trip without them, taking family and friends as crew from time to time. 

People ask how it will be different. I ask myself that question too. At age 61, I feel less confident to sail on a big adventurethan I did 24 years ago. Even after 37,000 nautical miles and a lifetime of cruising memories, I struggle with my inner critics. As a life/career coach, I know them only too well. My inner critics have been screaming into my ears: I’m not fit enough, I don’t know how to sail, I’m not strong enough, What if I mess up? What if I can’t do this? But then I think, “Dave is depending on me” and work on hushing those inner voices. 

As we neared our jump off date in early September, my anxiety was over the top. My cousin Val was coming with us on the first leg to San Diego. She was excited…and I just felt dread. I woke up most nights with heightened anxiety. My brain felt scrambled. Wondering… can I do this? What will it be like without our girls beside us all the way? Am I up for it? Can I REALLY do this again? Am I too old? 

I sought the advice of my friend and personal coach, Pam. She sent me texts saying, “You’ve got this.” Searching for the confidence, I kept wondering why is it as we get older that we lose our confidence? Does everyone go through this? Daughter Leah helped me get in touch with what I liked about cruising – the people, dolphins, sunsets, stars and visiting new places and cultures. I weakly held onto those thoughts. 

Our “to do” list was never ending.  Dave was busy with boat projects and retiring from a construction career of over 40 years. With help from Val and another friend, I got the boat provisioned. We had set a date for leaving and it was closing in… Sept 5, 2022

Sept 5th arrived, and we left amidst tearful goodbyes with our girls, their husbands and our grandson, and a few close friends. The first few days we motored and cleared into the US. That was the easy part.

The first night passage was rounding Cape Flattery. Val keptwatch with me. She struggled with seasickness. The motion was all too familiar. Washing-machine like waves coming from all directions hurtled Synchronicity around. We learned later the cross-swells were the remnants of typhoon Merbok. While Val puked, I maintained my 3-hour watches, looking at the amazing starlit night, remembering one of the reasons I really do like sailing. As we started down the Washington coast the swells became a little more regular and my body slowly got used to it. Sturgeron was and still is my best friend at sea. The seasick meds worked. Phew!

Dolphins at Sea – My Favourite

With the weather not improving and the winds increasing, Captain Dave decided we should stop at Gray’s Harbor in Washington, a small fishing port. We spent a few days there waiting for improved weather.

Dave, Mary and Val in Gray’s Harbor, Washington

Back out sailing a few days passed and my anxiety slowly reduced. Then off the coast of Oregon the winds once again built. This time both our autopilot and monitor self-steering system failed. The windvane which Dave rebuilt had too much flex in it and would not steer a course. The new heavy-duty autopilot which had steered us so far started to make screeching and grinding noises until it finally quit working altogether. Of course it was the middle of the night…

If ever there was a time I should fall apart, it was now in the dark of night when I was faced with hand-steering. Our compass light was out as well so we literally had the stars only to guide us. My tears appeared as Dave woke me for my watch and explained the circumstances. “I don’t know if I can do this,” I said to him, knowing there was no choice but to suck it up and take the watch. Val was still struggling with seasickness, so it was up to me. 

Blinking back my tears, I heard the voice of my coach Pam once again, “you’ve got this,” she whispered in my ear. I dug deep that night to steer in winds from 25-30 knots, gusting 35. And then a wonderful thing happened. As the waves crashed and the self-steering sat useless and our crew was immobilized with seasickness and it all started to get really intense, this Grandma’s confidence came back! Not all of it, but enough to hand steer my two night watches, safely guiding Synchronicity and her crew through until Dave took his watch at 6:00 a.m. Enough to know I was going to be ok. “It’s like riding a bike,” I heard in my head. And indeed I felt that I could do this again.

The rest of the trip to San Diego went without too many glitches. We chose to stop in Bodego Bay, the Channel Islands and Catalina. On Sept 29, 24 years later, we landed once again at Chula Vista Marina, just before light gave way to darkness.

Anchored at the Channel Islands, California
Vancouver to San Diego September 2022

A small sense of warmth came over me, a knowing that I can and I will do this. As we prepare for what’s next on our adventure, my inner critic is still there but quieted by a tiny new knowing of what I am capable of.

Feeling Triumphant

Saying our goodbyes

Our family and crew Val

The hardest part of leaving is saying goodbye- and then getting off the dock. We have done it!

A few stops have worked out some kinks and found a few new ones! Depth sounder is now installed. Wind instrument no longer works! Hopefully that is temporary.

We stopped in Steveston, Point Roberts and Bellingham for checking in, boat parts and fresh produce. The CBP ROAM app was brilliant for checking into the US.

Today we are entering Juan de Fuca. Feeling those familiar swells. My butterflies are turning to excitement and I had my first good night’s sleep in more than a month! Here we go…

Captain Dave
Crew Cousin Val
First Mate Mary
Point Roberts, Washington
Bellingham, Washington night sky


20 years later…

Twenty years ago we were arriving home with our two daughters after circumnavigating the globe on our sailboat Synchronicity. I remember the feeling when we first set sail as a family. Excited, anxious, nervous, curious what life would look like on a boat with our little family. Facing our first passage. We spent 4 wonderful years with our girls visiting 37 countries.

Hanging out in Bora Bora
After our first big passage to Chula Vista/San Diego

Fast forward and now Dave and I are once again setting sailing- this time without our kids. The same feelings are there.., though for me I think there’s more anxiousness and less confidence. Now older I’m not sure what to expect. I’m working hard to bring out the coach in me, practice my Positive Intelligence/Mental Fitness. I’m looking forward to time with Dave, the beauty only the sea can bring, dolphins and sunsets and getting that feeling back that I can and will do this! Today we leave!!


And we’re off!

D-day is fast approaching, and a new prop is the cherry on top!


The Reality of Living During a Pandemic – Will You Survive or Thrive?

-Do you sometimes wake up and think this was all a dream?

-Does life feel surreal right now?

-Is it hard to watch the news – and then hard to turn it off?

-Do you forget what day it is?

-Are you experiencing various emotions (and extremes) from crying to laughing to boredom, to being anxious, and then everything in between?

-Do you have screen burnout?

-Do you miss hugs?

-Did you have to cancel travel plans/weddings/graduation parties or other special events?

If you are anything like me these questions may resonate with you. I have experienced all of these – and sometimes all on the same day!

COVID-19 has yanked our reality away and there is a new reality in place. Personally I’ve experienced tears, disappointment and fear. As well as admiration and gratitude. Admiration for those people who are fighting for us in healthcare, taking care of our aged, researching a cure, courageously putting themselves on the line for our lives. I am grateful for those essential workers keeping our economy going whether through transportation of goods, supply chain, e-commerce or construction. And for the frontline workers in grocery stores, drugstores and home improvement. Not to mention the government and sanitation workers, police, fireman, delivery drivers and mail carriers. You know who you are – and I am so grateful and thankful for your dedication and service to keep Canada going.

We have a choice in how we look at things right now. I recognize for some there is less choice. Again I’m so grateful I have a home, family and my husband is still working. As a coach I am honoured to walk with people in this new reality.

In this time where so much is out of our control it is important to remember what we do have control over, and focus on those things. We can choose how we respond, we can take care of ourselves and we can reach out to those who need a hello or a virtual hug.

I am trying to look for opportunity. Opportunity to reach out to those I love and admire. Opportunity to tell people how much they mean to me. Opportunity to slow down and to really be intentional about what I’m doing each day. Opportunity to connect with those I haven’t spoken to for a while.

When this is all over, what do you want to remember most? I want to remember that I was there for those that needed me. That I was a support for those in need, whether it was a caring word, or a listening ear. That I wasn’t afraid to cry or to say I’m not feeling strong today. To be vulnerable, honest and to be present. To connect with love.


3 Reasons Why the Holidays are a Good Time to Job Search


We’re just around the corner from the holidays…. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, New Years – they are coming.

Many job seekers believe that the holidays are a terrible time to job search. Why? They feel that people are too busy with the festivities or are away on vacation or maybe just checked out with the end of year so near.

I believe the holidays are a perfect time to job search. Here are three reasons why:

1. Fantastic networking opportunities

At this time of year there are year-end, Christmas and other holiday events happening everywhere. If you don’t belong to a networking group now is a great time to join one or attend an event. Don’t know where to start? Try Googling networking events + your location + holidays and see what is available in your area.

A quick Google search in Vancouver showed these finds:


Do you belong to an association? This time of year many associations have networking events or socials you might attend. Don’t belong to an association? Short on cash? Often organizations/associations/network groups will allow you to attend as a guest before joining, sometimes for a reduced rate or even for free.

Try volunteering. This time of year there are lots of volunteer opportunities. Give back and watch what comes to you.

Holiday parties are another great place to network – whether they are your company parties (if you are employed) or parties you attend with friends/family.

No matter where you are networking keep the following in mind:

  • Be prepared

It’s good to have a quick blurb/elevator pitch prepared. For example:

I’m a ______________ looking for opportunities in ______________. I’m particularly interested in ________________ or _________________ (companies/organizations). Would you know any places I could look or people I could talk to?

  • Be curious

It’s not all about you. Have a few questions you can ask other people, listen and be genuinely interested and helpful. People like talking about themselves so being curious and asking them questions can lead to great connections down the road.

  • Bring business cards

Make sure you have business cards on hand and don’t just keep them stuffed in your pocket – hand them out. Ask for other people’s cards and remember to follow up with them later.

  • Dress professionally

‘Tis the season to get dressed up to the nines… but, when it comes to professional holiday networking events, you want to keep it tasteful. Avoid denim and too much cologne/perfume.

  • Smile and be positive

Even if you don’t feel like smiling, try it. Bring on the positive energy and watch what happens! People are attracted to positivity.

And now is a great time (and excuse) to wish someone a Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, and reconnect with your past colleagues, friends and contacts.

2. People are in the holiday spirit

There’s something about the holidays that can bring out the best in people. Make those cold calls, be brave and connect. This time of year I’ve found people are more receptive to meeting with you. Now’s the time to schedule those informational interviews.

3. Year-end often means money for hiring new people

Often companies that are nearing year-end have money left in their budgets to spend. What does that mean to a job seeker? You might be able to get your foot in the door on a short contract. Contracts allow you and the employer to see if you are a good fit for the company. It gives you a sense of how the company operates and provides valuable experience.

Companies want to spend their budgets or they may lose this money. Now may be the time they add that new position they have been longing to do.

Employers hire people that approach them at the right time.

Let that be you!

Don’t put you’re your job search on hold just because it is the holiday season. Job search and the spirit of the season…they can go together.  In fact, this may be the BEST time of the year to job search.

Now what strategies will you apply?



Back To School Nostalgia!

It’s back to school time and that always makes me a little nostalgic. I always loved getting new notebooks and pens, and a new outfit for school. A fresh start. To me September is still that time. Though I’m no longer in school I still think of September as a New Year – maybe even more than January. It’s the change in seasons that does it for me. With the close of Summer, Fall comes softly in. Mornings are crisp, days are shorter and the leaves start to turn. A new Season makes me reevaluate what I’m doing, how I’m doing it and what is really important in my life. New beginnings. I am more motivated to start new ventures and set new goals. I’m excited to see what’s next.

How can you reevaluate what’s important to you in your life? What might your goals be for this new season?

Ask yourself these questions:

What are my goals for the Fall?
Be honest. Remember these are your goals and they are as individual as you are. It might be change jobs, lose weight, go on a holiday, get married or make more money. It could be to move to a new place, or out of the country. It might be to go traveling.

Taking each goal ask yourself,

Why do I want this goal?
And what does it give me?
And how will achieving this goal leave me feeling?
Then ask why do I want that?

These questions all help you see why you want this goal and why it’s important. Once you understand your motivations behind your goals you are more likely to achieve them.  And post your goals where you can see them daily. Research shows that when you look at your goals daily you are more likely to achieve them.

Sometimes when you want to achieve your goals you need support. Someone who can help you clarify what you really want and then provide accountability and cheer leading to get there. As a coach I can help you work through this process and then define an action plan to achieve your goals. Email me at and we can chat.

Here’s to an amazing Autumn!

Whether You Think You Can, Or You Think You Can’t You are Right!


What we believe is the most important thing to move us forward. Our beliefs guide us into thinking what we can do, and what we can’t. And our brain is really what helps us succeed – or not! Ask a marathoner and they are likely to say that yes being physically fit is important but so is their mental state. If they don’t believe they can complete the race, they might as well not even start.

My daughter Jessica is a great example of the “I can” belief. In a life changing accident at 15 that put her in a wheelchair she could have chosen a lot of I can’ts. Instead she chooses “I can” in pretty much everything she does. Her “can’s” have helped her access what can be a very inhospitable world to someone in a chair and she manages it with grace and a good dose of “can do’s”.  If she can’t do something one way she will find another way to do it.

When you’re feeling stuck, ask yourself what is your belief? Do you believe you can? Do you believe there is a way? Or do you believe you can’t. Listen to the words you tell yourself in your head. Is your head full of negatives: I can’t do this; there’s no way; there is nothing that can be done; it’s impossible. Or do you think: I’ll find a way; I can make this happen; I get to do this.

Only you can choose…do you choose I can or I can’t?

 Are you ready to get unstuck?

Contact Mary for a complementary strategy session to see how

coaching can help you achieve this change.


Coaching Life

Burn Out – It Happened To Me


I Reached Burn Out. Here’s my story…

Four years after my teenage daughter Jessica broke her neck it happened to me. At the time I thought burn out only happens to people who aren’t very aware, people that aren’t “strong”, people that can’t handle life. Then one February morning I woke up and started crying…for no apparent reason, or so I thought. And I couldn’t stop crying. So I called in sick to work. The next day the same thing happened. The tears spilled out and as hard as I tried I couldn’t get them to stop. Again I called in sick saying I had the flu. Why is it so hard to say you are struggling mentally? That you have anxiety, stress or depression. Somehow saying I had the flu was much easier than saying I barely could get out of bed. That I didn’t care about anything or really anybody, that I couldn’t face the world. Day 3 came and again so did the tears; my body ached all over not from the flu but from the emotional stress I was feeling. I gave myself a pep talk and said I should get over it, got dressed to go to work…and then the tears returned and so did the overwhelm, and then the anxiety. And I couldn’t do anything about it. I was exhausted and still didn’t really get why. I had never considered myself an anxious person. The simplest decisions couldn’t be made.

At this point I decided I better take the rest of the week off and called my boss saying I would be back Monday. The rest of the week passed with me in a semi zombie stage. I was still making meals for my family but doing the bare minimum. Come Saturday I thought maybe making a hair appointment and getting out of the house would help me snap out of it. I was convinced that it was just a case of the blues and that if I was strong – and I knew I could be – I could get back to my normal routine. No luck. I couldn’t face the 45 minute drive to the hairdressers; a drive I had done many times before. That’s when I knew something was really wrong. I consider myself a pretty capable person and making an appointment and getting my hair cut was a simple thing I did all of the time…yet not this week. The weekend passed in a fog, my senses dulled and my ability to do much of anything was pretty much gone. Monday came. I got out of bed but the thought of returning to work – or even getting in the car to go to work – created major anxiety. I called my boss once again saying I was still sick with the flu and I wouldn’t be in.

At this stage I realized I wasn’t going to just bounce back. It wasn’t just a “blue” or “off” day I was having. This was serious and it crossed my mind that I was mentally really not well. I faced the fact that after four years of being by the side of my daughter as her primary caregiver, during her recovery and in her adjustment to a new life living with a spinal cord injury, I now needed to take some time off. I still hadn’t named it as burn out, but I knew myself enough to know that something was really wrong with me. The normal daily things I did were either not done or done poorly. I lacked focus and was in major overwhelm. My family started wondering why I wasn’t going to work. Normally an open book I didn’t want to talk about it…not even to my closest friend.

Finally, I visited my pastor. He put it into words. You are burned out. You have been Jessica’s primary caregiver giving totally of yourself, and now you have no more to give. Your resilience is gone, your bucket is empty. I couldn’t figure out how this could occur when I had managed pretty well after Jess had been injured. I had taken 6 months off to be by her side, then returned to work believing I was “balancing” it all – or so I thought. Pastor Durwin said sometimes it can take years before these things affect you. He was right. I was still partially in denial, deciding to myself that a couple weeks off work would bring me back to normal. He urged me to think about taking a few months off and to focus on looking after me. Months sounded incredulous – and of course I was still in denial about how burned out I really was. Even with my family I wasn’t being honest about what was really going on. I feared my family might blame themselves somehow so I tried to protect them too. He also encouraged me to make an appointment with my family doctor.

My doctor confirmed my burn out and anxiety – a side effect in my case of the burn out. He concurred with Pastor Durwin to take a few months off. At first I was hesitant, worried about the judgement I might face from family and friends. In the end I realized if I didn’t look after myself things might worsen and I wanted to be around long term for my family. Fortunately, I could go on stress leave from work. And so began the mending. I took long walks, read books, something I hadn’t done in a long time, had visits with friends and slowly started to feel better. Three months later I returned to life and to work, feeling rejuvenated.

Since then I have become a coach and have coached women in various stages of burn out. My experience with burn out, though not so much work related has helped me better understand the symptoms of burn out and stress induced sicknesses.

Here’s what I’ve learned…

Burnout has many stages and symptoms vary from person to person.

Signs include:

Serious overwhelm – when everything you think of doing seems just hard…so you do nothing, or only the bare minimum.

Lack of decision making – decisions of any kind don’t come easy…instead you keep mulling over and over what to do. Your anxiety can heighten and even the smallest decisions are agonizingly hard.

Reduced, little or no motivation. Normal things that made you happy don’t do it for you now. You may not even want to get out of bed. Depression.

Physical Symptoms: Headaches, neck and back pain, digestive problems, physical sensation of exhaustion, feeling of overwhelm, tears.

Sleep: troubles sleeping or difficulty going to sleep or waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to return to sleep.

The Mayo Clinic states burnout comes in various forms and can be caused by: (1)

Lack of control: This is an employee’s lack of influence on decisions that affect their job. Examples include hours of work, which assignments they receive, and an inability to control the amount of work that comes in.

Unclear job expectations: Examples include uncertainty over what degree of authority an employee has and not having the necessary resources to complete work.

Dysfunctional workplace dynamics: Examples include working with an office bully, being undermined by colleagues or having a boss who micromanages your work.

Mismatch in values: If personal values differ from the way an organization does business or handles employee grievances, it will wear on employees.

Poor job fit: An employee working in a job that doesn’t fit their interests and skills is certain to become more and more stressed over time.

Extremes of activity: When a job is always monotonous or chaotic, an employee needs constant energy to remain focused, leading to energy drain and job burnout.

Having lived through burn out and seen my clients in various stages of burn out here are some of my recommendations on what to do if you are experiencing signs of burn out:

Seek professional help: Start with your family doctor who can rule out any other causes of your symptoms (or contributing causes). Enroll with a counsellor, coach or therapist to help you work through the root causes and develop a course of action.

Reach out to friends and/or family: your support system can be wonderful – but you have to ask for help and tell them what’s going on for you. Ask for what you need…maybe it is help with the kids, or an empathetic listening ear.

Exercise: research indicates that physical exercise can be helpful in reducing some of your anxiety and stress experienced with burn out.

Self-care: Make time for you. Depending on your stage of burnout this might mean taking time off as I did, and/or making time for things you have enjoyed in the past: art, music, seeing a movie, reading, prayer, meditation, journalling, time with your pet or others.

It’s taken me a very long time (nearly 8 years since I experienced burn out for the first time) to share this part of my life, and I think that’s because of a couple reasons. Perhaps the biggest being the fear of judgment; however, I’ve reached the stage in my life where I feel confident enough in myself and my experience that I can share my journey and hopefully help a few people that are currently experiencing burn out, or are fast approaching a burn out, recognize the signs and know that they are not alone.

Another reason I have spent so much time ruminating over this piece of my past is because it makes me vulnerable. As women, we are constantly battling the societal assumption that we are weak and overly emotional, and sometimes being vulnerable feels like weakness. I can now confidently say – that is a lie. Being vulnerable is one of the most powerful things you can do. It takes strength and courage and means that you are willing to admit that you aren’t perfect but you are open to growth. I no longer want to hide this piece of myself. If people judge me, that is their choice, if they think I am weak that is their struggle. I care about myself enough to be kind to myself, and I hope that each and every one of you will do the same.

(1) Mayo Clinic, “Job burnout: Understand symptoms and take action” (2008) January 11, 2010).
Mary Kruger is an Internationally Certified Business & Career Coach. She inspires people to reach their potential and goals through positive support, challenge & accountability. Send her an email to set up a complimentary session to discuss how Mary can support you with reaching your goals. Email:
Coaching Life

Feeling Overwhelmed?

Do you ever have that feeling where you have so much to do you don’t know where to start? I know I do. When life throws so much at us we don’t know where to begin we’ll often dig in and then we don’t do anything. Sound familiar?

Here’s a couple of tips to help with that overwhelm.

1. Set some intentions for the day.

What do you really want to accomplish today? What is important?

2. Take tiny steps

Overwhelm often happens when we think we have to do EVERYTHING so instead we do almost nothing! Small steps towards a common goal is still progress. Hugh Culver, one of my favourite coaches says if you do 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week towards a goal, in one year that’s a week of work towards that goal. Isn’t that amazing? It always blows me away how little time can accumulate into big things! What’s one thing you have been putting off doing because of lack of time? Maybe it’s researching a new job, organizing those family photos or that recipe file (yes I still have recipe cards). Whatever project you want to tackle try the 10 minutes per day and see what happens.

3. Gain some focus.

Focus on one goal and write it down. Research shows writing down what you wish to accomplish and looking at it daily can help you make progress towards your goals.

4. Be aware of distractions

When you find yourself getting distracted ask yourself: Are these the things that are most important to spend my time on now? Will this help me work towards my goal?

5. Ask yourself who do you want to be?

We often think about action, but more importantly is who do we want to be? Ask me more about this. Email me to set up a complementary strategy session (