TT #31: Yeah but what are you really feeling

This is a little writing exercise I used when I was in a poetry class and wanted to get my brain flowing.

First, notice what you are feeling right now emotionally. What are the physical sensations of that emotion in your body right now?

For example, I am revving up to start a workday so I feel attentive and a little eager/anxious. I feel this mostly in my tense forehead and tight chest.

Now let's do the writing exercise.

fill in the blanks:

if this feeling were a…

taste, it would be:

smell, it would be:

touch/texture, it would be:

sound, it would be:

sight/image, it would be:

That's it! Just fill in the blanks. Here is mine:

if this feeling were a…

taste, it would be: a cappuccino

smell, it would be:  the neighbor making dinner

touch/texture, it would be:  the feeling of putting more wax on my board when I am getting ready to surf

sound, it would be:  the intro music to a TV show I like

sight/image, it would be:  light from the sunrise hitting the treetops first

This tiny tool always helps me understand what I am feeling. After doing it today, I would say the tense, attentive, anxious energy I was talking about is actually just the feeling of beginning— sensing the hints of something about to happen.

What about you? What did this exercise leave you with?

You are awesome,


TT #30: Picking your brain

Did you notice the number in the subject line? 30! There are 30 tiny tools in existence! To celebrate, we are doing a tiny reflection.

I have three questions for you:

What has been the most impactful part of tiny tools so far?

what kind of tiny tools would you like to see more of? (Ex: tiny tech tools, comfort zone challenges, poetry/art, mindfulness… etc.)

what would make tiny tools even better?

Thank you for taking time to do this. It's really fun to build tiny tools with you.



TT #29: Turning yeah into YES

There is a tiny tool for saying no, so I want to make a tiny tool for saying yes. Notice today when your yes is hesitant. What has to happen for this yes to become enthusiastic?

Some examples:

Want to get burritos?
-sure! (That's not enthusiastic… Do I actually want a burrito? No, but I want to hang out this person… YES if you are cool with me suggesting a different place!)

Can I call you back in 20?
-Yeah. (I'll probably be in the shower… YES if you text me instead of calling)

Can you give me a ride?
-sure. (I don't feel like having a conversation, but I don't mind giving you a ride… YES if you don't mind listening to loud music the whole time!)

Commit to only saying “yes” today if it is enthusiastic. (if you are in a work setting… Simply notice how often “yes” isn’t enthusiastic and how that impacts your feelings at work.)

You are awesome,


TT #28: Watching your Self

Buddhism talks about how there is no "self."

Our attachment to the idea of a self keeps us judgmental, anxious, rigid, because we have something to protect and guard. I've been noticing tiny ways that we use this idea of the self. Even just the way we explain ourselves to people – putting ourselves in boxes:

"I'm scared of dogs."
"I don't do mornings."
"I need ice in my water."
"I am super open with people."
"If I don't have a big breakfast I am hungry the rest of the day."
"I can't eat store-bought salad dressing."

Today, observe your own “I” statements: how are these statements potentially making you less flexible? How might they hold you back? Notice how these statements affirm your place in a certain group or your identity. What happens if you drop some of these “I” statements?

You are awesome,


TT #27: Oprah was wrong

When I was in high school I watched Oprah everyday from my spot on the YMCA treadmill. One day she said that nobody should wear capris. So I never wore capris again – until about a month ago when I realized I like them.

What is an article of clothing you have completely ruled out?

Maybe you don't think your body can pull off Bermuda shorts or a certain kind of shoe or a baggy sweater or a shirt without a bra. Try that look anyway today. Wear it just to wear it. Call it a “f the haters” tiny tool.

Bonus points if you send me a photo of you in the article of clothing!

You are awesome,


TT #26: Make your friend do it

The other day a friend said she was going to bake something and I was like, "bake at my house! I want to be part of this." I don't like baking enough to do it on my own but if somebody else is going to hold the reigns… I want to be with them.

I have done this with language practice, painting murals, drawing, etc.

Ask a friend who is really good at something if you could do it with them sometime this month. This can be anything from camping to gardening to drinking wine at a happy hour to cleaning the freezer to cow-tipping. They do it often – you have no idea how to get started.

Reach out to them today and set up a time for you to piggyback off of your friend’s hobby.


You are awesome,


TT #25: be meaner to yourself

I read a book by Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön all about being gentle and loving with yourself. But she follows this up with something surprising: discipline. Be gentle, but firm. I love this paradox. It makes me a good friend to myself – not pushing me to my breaking point or enabling dysfunction.

SOOO today's tiny tool is about discipline: where can you hold tight boundaries with yourself? I've been holding a tight boundary when I go on runs because I can be overly kind to myself when I workout... showing up and then not going for it. So I have been practicing loving discipline: if I show up to run, I'm going to put in the effort I am capable of. Where can you practice loving discipline?

Maybe it's about putting your phone on airplane mode an hour before bed or not online shopping at work or doing meal prep on Sundays. Or maybe it's really tiny, like turning off the TV after your show is over instead of squeezing in another episode.

Let me know what you choose! Accountability is another aspect of loving discipline.

You are awesome,


PS. Some of you have expressed interest in a Facebook group specifically for tiny toolers. If this is something you want… Email me back and let me know!

TT #24: Are you in the past or future?

Today's tiny tool is just a question:

Which feels closer to you, the future or the past?

When you drop into memories, does it feel like you could reach out and touch them? Are they crystal-clear? Or are they a little distant, disconnected, detached from you now?

When you look to the future, is it rushing towards you? Could you reach out and grab it? Does it feel like everything is about to happen? Or is the future less urgent, less known, untouchable?

It's possible that neither is true for you: you are not closer to the future or the past. This doesn't necessarily mean you are fully in the present – consider if you have a fantasy world you often visit, or if you try to lose yourself in the present (work, hobbies), or feel like you are trying to pounce down on the present (overindulging, impulsive decisions).

You might be a mix of all three. I lean towards the future. It feels very close to me. It fuels my sense of anxiety – the future gives me a sense of urgency or impending doom.

Knowing that I feel the future so imminently helps me lean on the present. If I start to feel stressed out about something a couple months away, I try to remember something that happened a couple months ago. I notice how far away a couple months ago is to me. I remind myself that that's actually how far away the future is as well.

Whether you are more in the past, present, or future, how can you use this information to support yourself? If you aren't sure where you are, take today to notice when you drop into memories or anticipation.

You are awesome,


TT #23: But what do you want

One of the ways that we can train our minds is by telling it what to move towards instead of what to move away from. So instead of saying, "I want to feel less stressed out," I would say "I want to feel more centered."

If I hear myself say, "I don't want to eat so unhealthy this weekend," I correct it to, "I want to eat super healthy this weekend." Or, "this room is so humid," changes to "I'm going to air this room out."

This isn't about bypassing – I'm not saying, "pretend things that are bad are actually good and just be positive." This is about moving forwards instead of backwards. Acknowledge you are bothered and decide what you want to feel. Don't just get stuck on the fact that you are bothered.

Here's the question you can ask yourself, "if I want less of x, what do I want more of?"

You are awesome,


TT #22: You only get 30 seconds

It is possible to become a more decisive person.

Today, commit to making decisions in less than 30 seconds. I'm not talking about signing contracts – start with grocery shopping, ordering food at the restaurant, what you text that person back, which book you download to your Kindle. 30 seconds! That's all you get today. I'll be doing it too and keeping you updated on Instagram about my progress.

You are awesome,


TT #21: I am bad at this

It is Sunday. The perfect day to do something you are bad at. Even better if it is something you enjoy, but just don't do well: baking, drawing, relaxing, meditating, running, singing, turning off your phone, eating dessert, slowing down, walking without music. 

Choose something you are bad at and put in your calendar a time that you will do it today. DM me a photo of you doing the thing or email me and let me know what you will do.

Today, I am going to send my French friend voice messages in French and make a baked good for friends coming over.

You are awesome,


TT #20: Just because I am a coach doesn't mean...

If you are reading this in bed on Saturday morning... same. 

Today we are writing poems. Sometimes the word "poem" intimidates me and makes me not want to write one, so I refer to a poem as a “po” in all my Google Docs. I'll be doing that here too. There is this great format for writing a po that gets to the heart of an issue we are having. It's called a “Just Because" po.

Here's the template:

Just because I am __

doesn't mean I am__

doesn't mean I am__

doesn't mean I am__

I am__


Here's mine:

just because I am a coach

doesn't mean I am perfect

doesn't mean I know what is best for you

doesn't mean I give advice

I am not a mentor

Your turn! send me the po if you want to share it. And if you are down with a bigger audience, let me know if I can share it on social media. 

You are awesome,


TT #19: Unflattering photos

Today your tiny tool work is to find a photo of yourself that isn't flattering but that for whatever reason you really love. What do you love about this photo? What else? What you want to do with that knowledge?

Note that NOBODY HAS TO AGREE WITH YOU. You might find the photo unflattering even though your aunt or friend would say you look amazing. This isn't about their rubric for beauty. You find a photo that you think is unflattering, but for whatever reason you really love the photo anyway.

And my answers to those questions:
I love this photo because I look content and fulfillment and at ease. And my lips look full and I look like I just woke up. Even though my face is really puffy in the morning,  it is my favorite time of day. I just look really satisfied with myself for getting up early in this pic. And that's how I feel every time I get up early!

And what do I want to do with this knowledge? Take more morning selfies... Enjoy my face this stage of life.

No emails about what you think of this photo allowed :) We are picking out photos based on our own perception of reality- nobody else’s. 

If you want to share your photo, email it to me! I would love to see your faces.


You are awesome,


PS. Last week there was a tiny tool for bathroom dancing. I promised you all I would post my own bathroom dance on my Instagram story, but I never did it because I wanted to do a public bathroom and I never left the house. I'm posting my public bathroom dance in my story today! Go to my Instagram to check it out and if you are feeling up to it, share me your own bathroom dance :)

johannah bad face.jpg

TT #18: Rejection is God's protection

"Yes lives in the land of no." Rejection is a natural step on the road to acceptance. List three times you have been rejected. Next to each time, right why that rejection was necessary.

 Here are mine:

I didn't get hired for a job I really wanted in Brooklyn – I eventually got a job in the same organization at a different branch and found out the woman I would have worked for is a terrible boss.

I didn't get a full ride scholarship to grad school – it would have made it harder to realize I didn't want to go to grad school.

I didn't get the apartment I wanted in Sayulita – we moved to a town 10 minutes away and like it way more.

Today, put yourself in a situation where somebody could tell you "no." Lean into rejection. You are on your way to the right yes.

 you are awesome,

TT #16: Taste of your own medicine

There is that phrase, "he needs a taste of his own medicine." It's weirdly true. Usually the medicine or advice I prescribe to other people is what I need for myself.

One time I thought, "this person is such a bad listener. Every time I stop talking she just goes back to what she was saying." In that exact moment, she was talking and I was having these thoughts and… Not listening. My observation about her might be right, but I can also take the advice for myself and observe that being a good listener is way harder than it sounds.

Today, notice any time you try to take care of someone else or mentally give somebody else advice and ask yourself if that is actually what you need: should you actually be communicating more directly? Are you the one being defensive? Are you a bad listener? Should you take better care of yourself? Should you apologize more often?

if you think they need it, chances are, you would benefit from it. Find out today.

you’re awesome,


TT #15: good morning, body

Happy Monday! Or… Sorry it's Monday. This is a Choose-Your-Own-Greeting for ya. 

Now, notice what is happening to your body as you read this. Are you clenching your stomach? Is your forehead tense? Can you let your shoulders drop down a little bit? Can you feel where your skin makes contact with fabric? What about where your skin makes contact with air?

Notice the negative space surrounding you and everything around you. Put a time in your calendar when you can take a moment to do this exercise again today.

you’re awesome,


TT #14: Let your dreams die

Today we are letting our dreams die. Well, for now.

There is probably something you are dreaming about doing (exercising more, moving, getting married, learning another language, starting a Instagram food account) that just isn't feasible right now.

Acknowledge that it isn't going to happen. How long is it not going to happen for? Do you want to table it for a week? A month? Five years? You aren't killing the dream off completely – just putting it down for a nap. Let the dream know that you are very excited to go after it when it wakes up. But you're busy right now.

Wow, I just took a deep breath writing that. It feels good to let go.


Let me know what dreams you are tabling so I can cheer for you,


TT #13: How to say no

Taking care of ourselves means not taking care of everybody else*. One tiny way to do this is to simply not justify yourself. You don't need anybody's permission and they don't need your reassurance/excuse.

*A cool side effect of this is that if you take care of yourself, you start expecting that everyone else is taking care of themselves, so the urge to take care of other people lessens naturally.

Here's how it works:

Hey Johannah, are you coming to yoga tonight?

No, I can't. Have fun though, tell everyone I say hi.




No, I'm not, have a great time!




I don't think so – I hope it’s good!




No, are you?




I am not.




No, I have so much to do, I am just swamped. I really wish I could. What are you guys doing after? Let me know, maybe I can meet up if I finish my work by then. Hopefully I can come next week!


Note: there are many situations in which it is important to give somebody extra information. But this isn't justification. When a wife says to her husband, "I won't be able to stop at the pharmacy on the way home; I have to work late." It's an explanation that supports the partnership. 


Today, practice declining without justifying.


You are awesome,


TT #12: good versus bad

How often do you say "good" or "bad" in a day? Most of the time when I use those two words, neither one is actually true. "I am a bad surfer.” Actually, I am doing pretty well when I consider that I am not athletic and haven't been surfing for long.

“He went to a charity dinner; he’s such a good person.” He gives some of his money away, not sure what kind of person he is though. Value judgments don't paint a full picture. And they create heaviness where we could feel light.  Consider the weight around "the traffic in LA is terrible" versus "there is a lot of traffic in LA." In the first example, you are going to feel terrible. That's the only possible conclusion.

In the second example, you are stating a fact but leaving yourself room to choose how you feel. Taking out the value judgment moves something from a complaint to an observation. The same can happen with the word good: "I used to be a really good swimmer," versus "I used to have more time for swimming and a coach who was invested in my growth." You are moving yourself from getting frustrated to being compassionate, and all you did was take out the value judgment.

Notice today when you use words like "good" and "bad." What is actually true? What happens when you rework the sentence without those value judgments?

you’re awesome,