What the heck is the Strategic Outcome Model?

If you know anything about being a cognitive behavioral coach (CBC) or relationship building coaching practices, then you already know quite a bit about what I do. If you don’t know a thing about those “wordy-words” I just mentioned, then I hope the Strategic Outcome Model will clarify what I do as a behavioral health and relationship coach.Episode 3

To make it even super-simpler, let’s pretend we are in an elevator together and we only have 20 seconds to share what we do. During my 10 seconds, I would say, “I help my clients break thought patterns that no longer serve them. Breaking old patterns is at heart of all of my coaching.”

Yep, it’s that simple. Or not. I guess it were that simple people wouldn’t need me to teach them how to do it. The good news is what I teach people can be learned rather quickly and be applied to almost every aspect of their lives. I want people to get “strategic” about how they react to any situation and gain influence over their outcomes.

I developed the Strategic Outcome Model so it rests neatly on top of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Coaching (CBC) models, but also incorporates my unique brand of coaching. If you listen to my podcast, use my exercises or work directly with me, I want you to have access my model. Not only will the Strategic Outcome Model bring clarity to my coaching style, it may help you understand your thought processes and maybe break some of your old thought patterns. Click here to see my Strategic Outcome Model infographic.

Listen to episode 3 (posts on Sept. 7) on iTunes or search “Start Here Coaching.” Android users can listen by click here.

Forgiveness Myths

Forgiveness: What it is and isn’t

This week the Start Here Coaching Podcast and this blog entry is about forgiveness, what it is and isn’t. I was excited to put this together because forgiveness is often talked about and can be an important part of our lives.

This episode was inspired by the 2012 article in Psychology Today by Will Meek, a counseling psychologist in Vancouver, Washington. Meek was inspired by the story of Pierce O’Farrill who had survived three gunshot wounds in the Colorado theater tragedy and only days later forgave the gunman, and a story of an Amish community that forgave a shooter less than a day after he killed many children from their community.

The tragedies left a strong impression on Meek and soon after he created his own model of forgiveness. As he developed and started using his model he began noticing misconceptions about forgiveness that create obstacles and blocks for his clients.

I think Meek’s article spoke to me because as a nice, country girl from Oklahoma, I grew with a set ideas about forgiveness. I believed, as I’m sure my mother and grandmother believed, that forgiveness for those that have wronged me was essential to my spiritual development and, most important, being a “nice girl.”Start Here (10)

But I was wrong! Like Meek, I have come to realize that forgiveness is a process and not a cultural bundle of ideas handed down from generation to generation. Meek lists 6 myths about forgiveness and I agree with all of them. Click here to see Meek’s list and some of my observations and additions.

As you are reflecting about forgiveness, remember we all make big and small mistakes because we are human. Often mistakes are made because we aren’t paying attention to our needs or the needs of others.

I agree with what Meek mentions in his article….that there is value in the lesson of mistakes and value in forgiving. I also believe there is VALUE in knowing we ALWAYS get to make a choice CONCERNING forgiveness. WE GET TO CHOOSE whether we grant it or receive it!

Overall, forgiveness, is a good thing. However, be wary of those people who will use forgiveness as a manipulation tool for continuing bad behavior or inflicting pain.

If you aren’t sure who these people are in your life they are usually the same people who marginalize your feelings, repeat behaviors over and over again, and are the strongest advocates for “forgive and forget.” Why do they do this? Because it serves them if you FORGET!

I hope this entry, podcast episode and article by Dr. Meek brings some clarity about forgiveness and your right to give and receive it. Forgiveness is not always instant and it doesn’t have to mean the slate is clean…. It can be, however, the first step to greater honesty and creating healthy boundaries.

Remember to be patient with the forgiveness process. Forgiveness takes as long as it takes. And forgiveness is much easier to grant when our apologies are sincere.

It’s okay to work through our own process, at our own time to get to a place of real forgiveness. However, if we choose to forgive, we will be able to move forward faster once we re-block or neutralize our anger and pain.–Renae

Find me on iTunes (search Start Here Coaching) at 


Getting started: my podcast journey

Thank you Christa Westbrook for use of your beautiful face.

My podcast kicks-off this Thursday, August 24. It has been quite a journey putting it together. I’ve had so many road blocks along the way and there have been times where I wanted to say, “Why am I doing this? I must be insane!” Well, I’m not insane, I am simply driven to do something that I think could benefit others and make their lives better.

The podcast idea came to me soon after I hosted the tenth Binge Eating Disorder (BED) support group in Oklahoma City. Attendance is always small and I don’t expect the same people to show up more than twice in a row. I don’t feel like attendance is low because we have bad meetings or the content isn’t fabulous (because it is). No, I knew then, as I do now, that most people who suffer with disordered eating like to be alone with their disorder and feel like if/when they go to a meeting they will be asked to give up the comfort of their disorder.

As someone who is in BED recovery, I understand why people think that going to a meeting means giving up the thing that keeps them feeling sane and alive. I mean, it’s one thing to join a group, read the information, and maybe even discuss content with a friend, but who wants to surrender their disorder in front of strangers? I don’t.

Fortunately, the BED support group in Oklahoma City never asks anyone to give up anything. It’s simply great discussions with suffers, their loved-ones, and meeting a lot of really good people. But how could I let the 100+ people know that they would be greeted with love and support, in a non-judgmental environment, if I couldn’t get them through the front doors? Then it came to me. I would start my own podcast and base it on the BED Workbook currently in development. Individuals could learn about what we cover from the safety of their home.

So, off I went on my podcast endeavor. However, in the middle of working on the content for my first five episodes, it occurred to me that 80 percent of my clients didn’t suffer with BED, yet, I was putting a lot of time, effort and content development into only one aspect of my practice. I needed something that more accurately reflected the makeup of the clients I serve. I came up with what I believe reflects the work I’m doing with all my clients. Every fifth episode would be about BED and other types of disordered eating. All other episodes would focus on breaking thought cycles, relationship repair, and self-care.

This week, episode one explores getting started even when we are afraid. This whole process and launch is scary. I’ve put a lot myself into the podcast and in a very public way. By showing up, taking risks and making this podcast happen, I delivered an imperfect product with heart-felt intentions. Please don’t think I’m not proud of my actions and my results. I am very proud! However, I’m fully aware of my capabilities, but confident that what I deliver will get better and better.

I hope my imperfection inspires and encourages you to do what you want to do even if you are afraid. I know that not everyone will like my podcast. So what? Some people will like it. For a few people, I may share something that helps them make big changes in their lives. Those big changes are my focus and what keeps me moving forward.

Find what motivates you. Find your focus and get started.

Visit my website at www.StartHereCoachingServices.com on Thursday, August 24 and listen to the first episode. Watch for our iTunes launch announcement! If you have questions or would like to suggest topics for episodes, please email Renae@StartHereWellBeing.com.

Take care,



What brings us back to Boswell?

“It’s the dirt.” That’s what my longtime friend Shawn Pebsworth Ramos said when we discuss the unwavering draw of coming back to Boswell, the small southeastern town in Oklahoma that holds its annual homecoming the last weekend of June.

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Maybe it is the dirt. Maybe it’s because the sunrise, sunset, stars, black nights, and lightning bugs look exactly the same as they did some 50 years ago when I was brought home from the Hugo hospital to my grandparent’s home located on highway 109.

Whatever it is, it’s magical and I feel the magic every time I hit the Boswell city limits. Despite how much the buildings and town have broken down, changed or been transformed, I get a rush of excitement, because once more, I’m home.

Since I can remember, the last weekend of June awakens a part of me that is still a child and a young girl. Suddenly, I’m free of clock-watching, responsibilities and the chaos that only adulthood can bring. Memories, traditions, and the beauty of this town and her people come flooding in and I’m transported back in time.

For me, Boswell is a sliver of a childhood forgotten. A childhood filled with the smell of fresh buttermilk cornbread, peach cobbler, and beans and taters. It’s a place where bee stings were a small price to pay for playing outside and running through clover barefoot. It’s a place where no one was allergic to peanuts and central air was only talked about. It’s a place where as a 7-year-old, I could be gone for hours in my grandfather’s pasture, as long as I took the dogs with me. It’s a place of rotary phones, party lines, firewood, homemade whiskey and where gossip isn’t gossip as long as what you say is prefaced with a smile and half-sincere, “Bless her heart.”

Maybe it’s not the land at all; maybe it’s the people that make the magic. My grandfather died about 41 years ago and I believe he and my grandmother were part of what made Boswell magic. Even now, the mention of his name gets me through doors in Boswell not one of my degrees or professional titles ever has, or will. For now, his memory and his reputation is still intact, but will forever disappear once my generation has passed.

I admire and I’m jealous of my friends who stayed in Boswell and carved out a living by ranching, farming, creating businesses, or driving back and forth to Dallas so their children could be raised in our beloved town.

These folks are strong, creative and always know someone or has family that can help you out. The ties that bind are deep and so is the commitment to tradition, neighborly respect, and helping someone just because they are someone’s “people.” The people that have remained in our small town still have that magic. They still possess the wisdom, customs and grit you can only get and keep, by living in a small town.

When I go back I wish I could have stayed and made a life in Boswell, but staying was never an option for me. I thank God for my life, because it’s a good life. However, there are experiences I’ve had that only people I’ve grown up with in my small town, truly understand. Like a smoking section at school for anyone over the 7th grade, random waving “hi” to everyone on the highway, making “U’s” on Main street and going to the bars at 15 (I’m so glad my kids don’t read my blogs), swimming at the Dill’s lake/pond (while a cow is peeing 20 feet away in the same water) and two-hour school bus commutes.

For those of you who work your butts off for the Boswell homecoming, thank you for the countless hours, the sacrifices to your families, and abundance of love for our town and our community. Thank you for giving people like me, a bit of their childhood back and a place to come home to.

Yeah, it’s definitely the people.

If you would like to share something about your Boswell or small town experience, email Renae@StartHereWellBeing.com. – – See y’all next year.




Gratitude: The First Step Toward Happiness

As human beings, we are natural complainers. It seems to be a part of our genetic makeup. Spend some time listening to others Happinesscomplain, how often you complain back, and how much commercialized complaining we are exposed to. How many commercials start with the phrase, “Are you tired of…?”

What makes our complaining especially comical is just about everything we do, from work to play, our ultimate objective is happiness.

Once you are aware of how much complaining you do (even the justified complaining), try to flip your script and replace that negative behavior with the gift of gratitude. Gratitude is a simple, but effective way to shift our thinking from negative to positive and is the first step toward affecting the happiness in our lives.

Gratitude is an intentional act of positive psychology that encourages us to question our thoughts and actions. Once we become more aware of our thoughts and actions (our contributions to a situation), we can increase and develop more positive emotions, nurture relationships, and improve emotional well-being in ourselves and the people we care about.

Happy Science

Science has proven that working harder and becoming more successful will not make you happier. That is because the harder we work, the higher the success bar climbs, thus creating a happiness goal we can never attain. What researchers discovered is our brains operate in the opposite direction. We must FIRST raise our happiness level, then the positive brain has more advantages such as greater intelligence, more creativity, productivity and more energy. Check out this Forbes article* or the book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor.

The positive psychology exercises below can bring awareness, relieve stress, or help you become happier. Try as many as you like, but do the exercise for at least one week. If you are feeling particularly daring, follow 5 of the steps below, or the 5 steps outlined by Achor for 21 days.

  • Journaling: Journaling provides a snapshot of a moment
    in time. Not only does journaling create a healthy habit of self-reflection, it allows us to document positive changes to our thinking and our actions, and it helps us transition from a bad mood to a good one. Try to journal for at least 2 minutes once a day.
  • Gift of time: Offer the “gift” of your time to three different people this week. This might be in the form of time spent, helping someone around their house, or sharing a meal with someone who is lonely. These “gifts” should be in addition to your planned activities.
  • Counting kindness: Keep a log of all the kind acts that you do in a day. Jot them down by the end of each day.
  • Meditate: Watch your breath go in and out for 2 minutes each day.
  • Three funny things: Write down the three funniest things that you experienced or participated in each day; also, write about why the funny thing happened (e.g., was it something you created, something you observed, something spontaneous?)
  • Write happy notes: Place notes around your bathroom mirror, on your fridge, on your front door to see as you leaving, that remind you of happy thoughts. Find inspirations on the web, create an affirmation, or just write, “You are doing a great job.” Writing the notes are as important as reading them. Taking the time to write them speaks to self-care; reading them is a reminder that you are worthy of the care.
  • Gratitude letter/visit: Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has had a positive impact on you. If feasible, you might consider delivering the letter to the person. (It is important to first weigh the pros and cons of delivering such a letter.)
  • Three good things: Jot down three things that went well for you each day and give an explanation as to why these good things occurred.
  • Write your future diary: Envisioning your future can be a great motivating factor to get you over the slump. Close your eyes and picture your future. Focus on how life will be different and what changes will be in place. Reflect on how you’ll feel and on how others will respond to the new, improved you. Think about how you’ll utilize the habits, skills, and talents you’re learning now to benefit others.


Visit www.StartHereCoachingServices.com for more information about living a happier and more satisfying life.–Renae Cerquitella

Life is filled with last times. What’s unfortunate is we usually don’t know we are experiencing a last time, until after it has happened.

About a year ago I visited my younger cousin Keri who was gravely ill and in a coma. The last conversation I had with her was in July of 2015 during our family reunion. I didn’t know it would be my last time to spend with her or to take a picture with her. She was a sweet and caring person that had incredible love for her family, children, and little granddaughter.


On Wednesday, March 1, I attended the funeral of my Uncle Coy (Carl G. Wages). The last time I saw him was after I visited his daughter, Keri, in the hospital. His oldest daughter, Kristi, took my sister Shelly and me to the assisted living facility that he would call home until he died.

Coy on horse_TU
Carl “Coy” G. Wages

We were warned by my cousin what to expect when we saw him. He was thinner and often had a hard time remembering his family. Parkinson’s had set in a while ago, so the symptoms he presented were familiar. But the dementia was new to me and my sister.

My Uncle Coy appeared to be living in a dementia-induced Ground Hog Day (for those of you who don’t know, this is a movie with Bill Murray), where he carried out daily chores and interacted with his parents and siblings, including my mom, who had all passed away many years ago. I’m pretty sure he believed he was visiting the assisted living facility and often expressed concerns about whether his cows and horses were fed properly and put up for the night. Family and staff members assured Coy that his animals were cared for and he could go to sleep.

Kristi, honest to a fault, made a courageous decision and spared her father updates about her little sister’s failing health and later her death. It was probable that even if Kristi decided to share with her dad that Keri died and grieved with him, he most likely would not remember it the next day. I know this was hard for Kristi because she didn’t lie to her Daddy.

On that visit a year ago, my Uncle Coy immediately recognized me, his daughter and my sister. He said some things I couldn’t understand, but also many funny things I could understand. Just like my mother’s other five brothers, my Uncle Coy was a true cowboy who spoke with a colorful and delightful southeastern Oklahoma accent. The cadence of his voice differed now from what I remember when I was a little girl. My entire life he’d say, “Hello Na!” every time he saw me, with an animated booming voice. He would hug me and his eyes would sparkle as he smiled at me. On the last day I saw him, the sparkle was still there. He was still there. I enjoyed my time with him.

As I think about my last visit with my uncle I think about other last times. I reflect on the last time I hugged my mother. I remember vividly how she felt beneath our hug, how tiny she felt, the way she smelled and the feel of my lips on her cheek as we kissed goodbye.

I think of our last real talk together and how that last conversation was more like the final piece of an enormous puzzle that had remained missing despite hours of conversations and attempts at understanding each other. When she died, so unexpectedly a week after than last talk, I felt whole with her. We had mended so many fences and I understood her better than I ever had. I understood her humanness, her frailty and fears that had kept her locked in a prison created 50 years before.

There are so many last times that aren’t etched in our memory, but we know they happened. Things like, the last time you could pick up your child and carry them or the last day they stopped begging to sleep in your bed.

I turn 50 this month and I’m sure I am experiencing many lasts that I’m not even aware of. This could be a sad thought or just a thought, neither sad or happy. One beautiful part of growing older is the awareness of limited time. At 50, even if you die of natural causes, you know you won’t be around forever.

For me, that awareness brings appreciation. Although I was at my beloved uncle’s funeral, I was filled with appreciation. I got see my extended family, hug their necks and talk, even if only for just a few moments. For those of you that have never had a large family, even a small gathering consists of no fewer than 75 members and talking to each person feels a lot like speed dating.

Each aunt, uncle, and cousin have many beautiful memories and experiences connected to them. The love I feel for them is greater than what I remember as a little girl who saw them so often. My awareness is sharper now and I know how much they influenced who I am today.

I am sad that my Uncle Coy is gone from our family. I’m sad for his twin, my Uncle Charles who lost his best friend. I’m sad for his other siblings who will miss him stirring up every room he entered. I’m sad for his daughter, son in law and grandchildren who will miss his counsel and unconditional love. I’m sad for the wife who cared for and loved him his last years on earth. I’m grateful that he brought us together and reminded me of what an amazing family I have.

Complaining is a replacement for action

I’ve been reading a great book by Barbara Sher titled It’s only too late if you don’t start nconstant-complaining-about-your-life-and-situationow. At first, this book may seem like an attempt to give hope to the hopeless, over-forty dreamers that seem to have fallen into the rut of complacency and dream amnesia. However, once you dig deeper into the book you discover so many possibilities, no matter your age, wealth, health, or mental state.

This book reinforces the cornerstone and central vision of my coaching practice: “Do you understand your value?” Once my clients understand their value, they see the world differently. Sher takes this notion a step further and really made me, an experienced coach, ponder where I’m going and feel proud about my own leaps of faith in pursuance of my dream of service to others.

Sher also shines the light on those of us who complain about our lives, other people, and our situation and describe it as an excuse for taking action. I can run through the Rolodex of my friends, colleagues and family members and quickly identify the ones who tolerate any behavior or demand thrown their way. Inaction is safe because we aren’t challenging the status quo. We stay in our place and watch unhealthy people continue their destructive behaviors, usually without consequences, while we passively assist with our silence, complacency, and collective pathology.

Before reading Sher’s book I had already began my journey towards mental health, self-care and well-being. I will tell you right now, if you haven’t already started your journey, once you begin, be prepared for fallout from others. People will be uncomfortable and may feel threatened by your changes. They may yell, call you names, say you are wrong, separate themselves from you, talk about you, bully you, drop you from social media and so on. But slowly and surely, they start seeing your metamorphosis as something that brings you happiness and allows you to provide better support, kinder interaction and strength.

People’s disapproval may feel crappy and lonely at first, but as you continue your self-care and self-improvements, it becomes obvious that they are emoting the equivalent of a temper tantrum and you can’t control that. I guess you could go back to the way it was, that would certainly be easier. But I believe you weren’t put on this earth just to go-along to get-along. You were put here to be your most wonderful, healthy, best. Your service to others isn’t to just do what they want, it is to be your authentic self, let your gifts develop and provide service with and through your abilities.

Think about your place in this world. Allow yourself to dream big about what you want to do. Pick up Sher’s book and allow the idea-squirrels to run free in your head.  I promise, you won’t regret trying. Who knows, maybe it will be the best thing that ever happened to you. At the very least, you fail fantastically, discover something you like even better, and have some really great stories to tell your grandkids.

If you need help uncovering your dreams, contact me at Renae@StartHereWellBeing.com. Follow me on Instagram @Start.Here.

Take care! –Renae