I like to think that self-awareness is a necessary element to finding inner harmony, a value dear to my heart. As we become more self-aware, more attuned to the signals our body sends us every day, it becomes easier to take a step back, see situations with perspective and consider the bigger picture. It allows us to react in a calmer way and to view ourselves and others with more compassion. This, in turn, allows us to think bigger, more creatively and to be open to more opportunities.

As you read this, I wonder how many of you are thinking “Easier said than done!” I hear you, I am one of you and below is a story to show just how much we can close ourselves to opportunities without even realizing it!

“I don’t want to live my life through compromises. I want to be open to possibilities and create the reality that will allow me to continue to express my values of inner harmony, compassion and openness to change.”

December 2017

(“Pogi” means “handsome” in Tagalog and is the name I use for my boyfriend!)

Pogi: I think I’m ready to leave NYC.

Me: Oh, can I come with you? Hehe!

Pogi: Of course! But I have no idea where to go…

Dear reader, I hear your wheels turning! “Oh to have the freedom to go anywhere, start afresh and be anyone…” It’s enticing, exhilarating, scary and compelling. All at the same time!

After this conversation, Pogi and I started talking, brainstorming and exploring. We asked ourselves what we would want out of this possible move. The priorities? The beach… and surf! Next, we need to have excellent internet access as we both need it for work. Anything else? Not really!

In order to narrow down a few places, we started with continents:

Asia? Meh… I lived there for 8 years and I don’t think I want to go back.

Africa? I would love to visit again but I don’t think I want to live there.

North America? Well, if we leave NY, we definitely are leaving the US! And Canada is not the best option for surfing! Mexico… possibly!

Central or South America: Now you’re talking! That would be great, but we don’t have a way to get visas and I refuse to go back to working in a school. I love my job as a coach far too much.

That leaves us with… Europe!

Europe: we can both work there without a visa and it’s closer to both of our families. We could possibly sell our assets and buy somewhere on the coast of Spain or Portugal…

So, I started to think about Portugal as our best option. I rationalized everything and even started to tell people that we were thinking of moving there a couple of years down the line. We would learn Portuguese pretty quickly and have enough money to live there for a few months until we figured out the best way to organize our lives, and surf every day! The water is cold but we’ll deal with it. Portugal definitely sounds like the place for us!

September 1st 2018

It’s a beautiful night in Brooklyn and I am sitting on my friend’s deck. I am surrounded by our friends, a glass of wine in my hand, talking to dear friend who moved away from New York in January. She is visiting and I am telling her about our possible move in a couple of years.

My friend: So, where do you think you’ll go?

Me: We are thinking about Portugal – it’s kind of the perfect spot! It’s closer to our families, and we can both work there without having a visa. We can surf too!

“But the water is not warm”, I hear behind me. The voice is Pogi’s and he’s so right!

Oh. My. Goodness.

In just a split second, the realization hits me. I have been doing the exact opposite of what I have preached my whole life and what I help others do as a life coach: I have closed the door to other possibilities. I stuck to Portugal because it was the most rational choice, close to family, no visa… blah blah blah but now, this second, on the deck on this gorgeous night in Brooklyn, I have an insight. Portugal is not a HELL YES! It’s a compromise. While it would be a good spot to live, it’s not THE spot we’ve been dreaming of.

I don’t want to live my life through compromises. I want to be open to possibilities and create the reality that will allow me to continue to express my values of inner harmony, compassion and openness to change. At this moment, I am a little upset with myself for not having seen this before! I keep all these feelings to myself and help the conversation veer in a different direction.

September 2nd 2018

As we are walking the dog at 7 in the morning, everything in the neighborhood is peaceful and quiet. We are both taking this in, slowly waking up to the sounds of birds chirping in the trees and enjoying this slice of still time in Bed Stuy. I tell Pogi: “last night, I called myself out.”

It’s liberating to voice this out loud and at that moment, I know that this transition is starting to happen. I have overcome the limiting belief that was holding me back from moving forward.

Pogi: “What do you mean?”

Me: “I called myself out! Haha! I am the first person to say that everything is possible, that we can create the life we want and that we have to be a rebel. Yet, all this time, I’ve been saying and thinking that it’s impossible for us to move to Central or South America because we couldn’t get a visa to work there. How stupid is that? Let’s move to Costa Rica!”

Pogi: “The water is warm there.”

Me: “YES! We’re moving to summer!”

Since that day, we have been joking that when people ask us where we might move, we’ll just say “summer”! We haven’t figured out what’s next or where we’re going, but once again, I know that I have the freedom to go anywhere, start afresh and be anyone. It’s enticing, exhilarating, scary and compelling. All at the same time!


When I realized what I was doing to myself, no, to us, I was shocked. How could I not have seen that? I let that thought go very quickly and transformed it into gratitude for having come to this understanding.

I have now been reflecting on this for a few days and here is what has come up:

  • There was always a little fear: Am I ready to leave behind what I have built in NYC? Now, I know that I am not leaving it behind – mainly because I don’t know what will happen but also because everything we do is a part of us and helps bring us to the next level. What if the next level for me was the perfect balance of travel to continue what I have here and life in Summer?
  • What has brought me to where I am today will not bring me to the next part of my journey. I am open to change and exploration and need it in order to continue to grow.
  • I made up excuses and lied to myself.
  • We can’t get a visa. How do I know? I have never looked into this! I got a green card for the U.S. in just 2 years, nothing is impossible!
  • Portugal is close to home. While I love my family, I have always lived away from them and while Portugal is closer to home, I know that I wouldn’t go there more often. Another excuse busted!
  • As I consider the evidence that I draw from previous times in my life, I have always succeeded in creating what I wanted. I got the jobs I wanted, I moved to the places I wanted to go…


The limitations continue to be in our head! A conversation with a friend unlocked this insight for me and I know that it’s only when I externalize my thoughts that I can truly realize my own contradictions. It’s only when I articulate my thoughts that I can see what actions are needed to take me further.

Here is something you can do if you are feeling a little stuck or simply feeling unable to see what’s next, if you have the feeling that you are compromising, rather than creating the reality you want to create.


Express your thoughts / problem. There are many ways to do this: you can journal, talk to a friend, work with a therapist or a coach…


Step away from those thoughts / the problem. Let it simmer for a day or two.


Create some regular quiet and introspective time for yourself: go for walk, meditate, sit on the beach or by a river or a lake, or in a park.


Create your vision: what do you want the situation to be? How will it make you feel? And what will those emotions allow you to do? What else? Think of as many details as possible! Write it all down or draw it, or create a vision board… whatever works for you!


Consider the big milestones you need to accomplish in order to bring this vision to life.


Take action!

I’d love to hear from you! When did you last call yourself out? What was it about and what happened next? And as always, if you’d like some help get unstuck, feel free to get in touch!

Originally published at www.leadwithatwist.com


  • Dominique Mas

    Director of Coaching at Medley I Coach I Advisor I Surfer & Adventurer

    I combine my extensive experience in educational leadership in Europe, Asia and the U.S., the lessons learned from coaching emerging leaders, and leading countless group experiences to challenge and support high performers as they create their next big thing.   I am the Director of Coaching for Medley, a NYC based startup that harnesses the power of groups to spark growth and run my own company, Lead With A Twist. Through both of these growth-minded and high impact organizations, I design and facilitate experiences that lead individuals to embody the qualities needed to succeed in fast moving industries.    As a life-long learner, fueled by the experience of living in seven countries and learning from their cultures, I also bring a wide scope of knowledge from my education: - Masters’ in Educational Leadership and Change (Hong Kong Education University) - Post Graduate Certificate in Education (London Education University),  - Certification as a Brain-Based Coach from the NeuroLeadership Institute - Coaching Certification from the International Coaching Federation - Clear Beliefs Coaching Certification    Most importantly, I am a surfer and adventurer, and I live a peaceful life in Brooklyn, NY with my partner, the artist Swissipino and Professor, the greatest dog ever!