The Road to Freedom

A relationship is something that is 50% our responsibility. As a child, my parents always tried to blame the other person. They always tried to make the other parent the bad guy and as a child, this was really confusing to me. After years of trying to figure out which of them was truly at blame, I finally realized “it was 50/50.” That gave them both equal responsibility for all the chaos. This realization as a young adult was probably one of my most important. It gave me a lot of freedom. Now I did not have to waste anymore energy trying to figure out who was right/wrong or good/bad. What the heck was the point anyway?

What good does it truly do anyone? I believe that subscribing to the 50/50 philosophy in relationships provides freedom. If you believe this, no one gets to be a victim. I truly believe there are no long-term victims.

We are only victims of our choice not to be responsible for our lives. Even in the case of infidelity, there were still two people in the relationship. There may have even been some warning signs. In my aunt’s case, she had asked her husband numerous times to attend counseling and he would not. She then had an affair. Was the end of the relationship both of their faults? I believe it was. They both played a role in the demise an affair is a symptom, not a cause and encourage parents not to blame the divorce on the affair. I want to be clear, I am not saying that affairs are OK, but usually, if you look deeply, both parties had some role in not nurturing the relationship in healthy ways.

Foster Cline, at a recent presentation, discussed that some marriages survive affairs. I believe that many conditions have to be right for this to happen but that it would take both parties being responsible for choosing this relationship and choosing to heal together to move beyond an affair. The bottom line on all of this is that you chose the other person you were in a relationship with for some reason. It is time now to choose to be responsible for your half of the successes and failures. It does not mean you are a failure, just that the relationship between the two of you was not successful on some level.

Relationships take work on the part of both people. Taking responsibility is a road to freedom. It frees us from victimhood, which can keep us seriously stuck. If you are stuck, look at why you may be choosing to stay stuck. If you are still not co-parenting well after years of separation and/or divorce, please take a look at yourself and ask why you are doing this. Living in the past is not the way to live. The path to freedom is to move into the future.

Your choosing to stay stuck in this anger and pain can be so detrimental to your children. Your child will do as well as you do. When you are upset, it causes stress for your child. When you are stuck in your anger and sadness, you are not available for your child. Your child needs your love and attention. If they don’t get it, they will act out or suffer in some way. If you are exhibiting this type of stuck behavior, your child will be acting out in some way. If they are not acting out now, your child will probably be feeling internal pain that will manifest in some form later in their life.

Remember that if you are still fighting about the children or not getting along, you are choosing to continue the relationship. You have either chosen the divorce or it was chosen for you. Realize that in some way you had a role in the choice. You do not have to blame yourself, just take responsibility. Make a choice now to let the anger go and choose a new life for yourself and your child. You deserve this.

Choose to move into the freedom you deserve. From this place you will be able to step onto the road that will lead you to happiness and fulfillment in your life, if that is what you want.

If you don’t want it for you, please, I ask you to want it for your children. You will assist them in having a life of happiness and fulfillment. You will then be being the best possible parent for your child of divorce. This is the greatest gift you can give to your child.

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Shannon R Rios MS is a successful Life Coach and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She coaches parents as a life coach through her life coaching business so that parents can move forward and create healthy lives and relationships with themselves, their children and others. She is also the founder of

If you enjoyed this article, her best selling book on parenting after divorce and healing after divorce is The 7 Fatal Mistakes Divorced and Separated Parents Make: Strategies for Raising Healthy Children of Divorce and Conflict and can be found here:

Food and Health Issue I: My Story

I have known for a very long time that food is crucial to our health.  However, in college I honestly did not have the financial means to buy a lot of healthy food.  Once I graduated with a great corporate job, I did allow myself a better food budget.  However, being single, I lived mainly on snacks, carbohydrates and processed foods.   I had grown up in one of the first generations where both parents worked and betty crocker and her boxed foods had entered our kitchen.  It was not long before I bought into the low fat movement with foods laden with nasty chemicals that over time I truly believe slowly destroy our intestines.  Not to mention a steady diet of the modified wheat  we eat today that our bodies react so negatively too (ie inflammation).

Image courtesy of Nezezon/

It is really no surprise that in my late 30s I developed autoimmune issues.  However I initially had no idea it was related to the food I ate.  This condition left me feeling so sick I had no idea what to do.  I had arthritis symptoms in my joints and it was so bad I could not even do yoga.  This was completely debilitating to me because I was a longtime yoga practitioner and avid jogger.  I also woke up in the morning with the symptoms of chronic fatigue, feeling so exhausted upon waking.  I had never before understood how this really felt.  It was so debilitating that I started to get complaints from clients.  I did not hardly have the energy to work.  This was a disastrous situation working for myself with no sick days.  I went to Drs, I tried remedies.   I became depressed because I had no idea how to feel better and I now realized food and health is the foundation of our lives.


Stay tuned for Issue 2: The Change in Course – Next Week!

Choosing To Heal Ourselves

Sometimes when relationships end, it can be difficult to move forward with our lives. We may choose to stay stuck in the pain versus push through it to move forward with our lives.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do I still feel angry with my child’s other parent?

2. Do I still feel very sad, like I can’t move on because I am still upset?

3. Do I still blame my child’s other parent for my pain and hurt?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you may be choosing, consciously or unconsciously, to stay stuck. You do have to move through the stages of grief, and there is no fixed time limit for that to occur. This place of being stopped can sometimes feel safer and easier than taking the steps to move forward. It may be unclear to you what steps you need to take. The truth is that if you are choosing to stay stuck, you are choosing to not move on from this relationship. You could also feel that you are punishing your child’s other parent. However, you are truly punishing yourself and your child by not moving forward. While it may be true that your co-parent hurt you or wronged you in some way, the truth is that you were 50% of that relationship. You now have a choice. You can choose to move on to create a healthy environment for you and your child or you can stay stuck in a place of anger and pain over a relationship that no longer exists. You can be the victim, but know that victims are not healthy parents.

I am not minimizing how challenging this can seem, I just want you to understand that you have a choice. The good news is that I completely believe that this experience you have endured can assist you in creating your best life. The catch is that you must view this experience as an opportunity for growth and healing.

Am I telling you this process will be easy? No. Am I telling you it is possible to move forward successfully? Yes. I ask you to do this for yourself and for your child. You both deserve it. You are thinking about your child and you want to be the best parent for your child. You deserve the most amazing life possible. If you use this experience as an opportunity to heal, you will be able to better love yourself and love your child. You will also be able to be a better partner should you decide to pursue that in the future. So, I ask you to just be open to what may show up for you.

One thing I have learned is that in order to be the best partner and parent possible, I must choose to heal my own wounds and hurts. Know that you are responsible for your own happiness that your happiness depends solely on you. You alone have the power to create your happiness. I believe it is completely common for us to look to someone else to help us heal and feel loved. We usually play this out in the form of our romantic relationships. The deeper the pain we felt as children, the deeper our wounds are to heal through relationships.

The most important relationship of all is our relationship with our self. No one else can ever make us feel happy on a deep level; we must do that for ourselves. As Michael Oddenino says:  “A person can only love someone to the extent that they love themselves.”

Something has become fully clear to me through my own journey working to understand relationships and our role in the success or failure of relationships. We must be aware and reflect on ourselves and our reactions during the relationship and at the end of any relationship. If we do this, we will learn and grow and be able to create better future relationships. Being able to create and sustain healthy relationships is important for us. It also provides a healthy model for our children so they have a better chance of creating good relationships in their lives.

Click here to Purchase at



Shannon R Rios MS is a successful Life Coach and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  She coaches parents as a life coach through her life coaching business so that parents can move forward and create healthy lives and relationships with themselves, their children and others.   She is also the founder of

If you enjoyed this article, her best selling book on parenting after divorce and healing after divorce is The 7 Fatal Mistakes Divorced and Separated Parents Make: Strategies for Raising Healthy Children of Divorce and Conflict and can be found here:

Spokes of Leadership

As I recently was working with a  leader who had just taken a new role in the organization, a very high level role, we discussed all of his “spokes”.

Spokes are the many aspects of your leadership in your life and or work.

spokes of leadershipWhat are the important areas that you want to focus on?  The vision, the people, the process, the change, the product, leadership style, recognition?  This leader needed to communicate his big vision to his team .  He needed to really become clear on the spokes that make his wheel go around.  I asked him to list everything  (all important areas) and then fill in on his sheet (in a big circle) all the aspects that he wanted to communicate to his team about each of these areas.   I asked him to post them in his office when he was complete.

For some of us, getting visual is a really big key in helping us carry out our goals.  When it is nebulous in our minds, it can be hard to execute and communicate to others.  Especially for new leaders, this is a very crucial activity to ensure they are driving the vision of their team.

I encourage you to decide what are the spokes of your wheel in your personal life or your business life.  Then assess what you want to accomplish in each area.  Then communicate that to your team, your leader or your family.  You could also do this as a team or a family exercise.

Happy biking!!

Executive Leadership Coach and Health of Leaders

executive leadership coach and foodIn part of my business I work as an executive leadership coach.

I love this work, assisting leaders in being the best possible leader for their people.  This work always focuses on the leaders overall health.  Again if they are not healthy they will not create healthy teams and organizations.

As I worked with one leader as her executive leadership coach, I discussed my own personal journey of not eating sugar/gluten and making a good green smoothie in the morning for breakfast.   She was really interested in my journey and I told her the book I had just read “Wheat Belly” and explained how all of this food can really negatively impact us.

Little do I sometimes know how much my words impact others.   In a meeting a couple months later she said to me “I have to tell you that I have now eliminated gluten/wheat from my diet”.  She went on to explain that she has diabetes and that this practice has made her feel significantly better and lowered her blood sugar levels were more regulated and had lowered.  So much that her medical doctor said, “what what have you been doing”.  When she told her doctor what she had committed to the doctor said “wow that must be hard to give up wheat”.  My leader said “and giving yourself shots every day is easy?”.  I was so proud of her!   This is the most positive form of self leadership and love and I can imagine!

What can you commit to today to bring your nutrition and health leadership to the next level??

It’s not the years in your life….but the life in your years

So true.  I found this today (August 28, 2013) as I was looking for a frame for a photo for someone who is very sick and has a very slight chance to live.  I almost feel like the angels had me find this so I knew that she had a good life overall and that she has really enjoyed her time with my Dad.  She has been my Dad’s partner the last 18 months but I will have to say that these may have been the best 18 months of his life.  They were two peas in a pod; got up early, went to bed early.  They liked to cook fish and live in the middle of nowhere in WI.  They both enjoyed having a partner.  He even got her to sleep on an air mattress (every night).   I am sad for the potential loss of a good partnership.  They sometimes seem challenging to come by these days.  As I begin my own next chapter of my partnership with my partner, it really makes me think.  I am truly glad that I do this work in the world.  I don’t think I could really do anything else.  If I am not helping others live their best life, then I would not be doing what I came here to do.  I had told Rose that she was what my Dad needed, a strong woman.  I think partnership takes huge strength and love of ourselves.  That is the entire concept of my work and .  Truly if you love yourself you will raise the healthiest children.  If you are not happy in your relationships, you have to look to yourself and question the amount of love you have for yourself.  Life is way too short not to.

Today I want to thank Rose, for showing me what good partnership looks like, for being a strong woman and for loving my dad.  “It is not the Years in Your Life…..But the Life in Your Years…”.  You have really touched my life.

What can you do to love yourself deeper today, to take care of yourself better today, to love someone else today?

rose and dad photo


September 3, 1941 – August 30, 2013