As a life coach and retreat leader, Yota works with women seeking clarity, inspiration, and purpose in the midst of life changes. Her approach is intuitive and deeply influenced by her cultural roots, work and life experience, and her long-term practice of mindfulness meditation.


  • Linda Samuels

    There are a lot of questions here to ponder. I’m a bit overwhelmed focusing on all of them. So I’m going to dial it down and chose one. Yes. I’m breaking the rules, but I know you’re OK with that. And I’m OK with it.

    “What do I know this very moment?”

    It’s up to me to create the life I want without apology. That means including the the people, activities, work, and patterns that bring energy, meaning, and purpose to my days. I am a work in progress. At 60 (almost 61,) I have gone through many stages of life, which bring me to this moment in time.

    Two significant shifts happened in the last ten years. Our daughters went off to college, left the nest, and created their own independent lives. During that period, aside from feeling some grief over them leaving, I experienced the loss/death of many loved ones. Over a dozen people I was close with passed away, including my father, in-laws, and my great aunt. These losses created big shifts in the family dynamics, and in how we gathered. Our parents were the drivers and centers of the family gatherings. Steve and I (and our house) became the center for both sides of the family. My mom was diagnosed with dementia seven years ago. And while she is alive (the energizer bunny that she is,) it has been a slow loss because her memories are gone and she no longer knows us.

    There were many exciting and growth inducing professional accomplishments during this time that journeyed along side with the hard stuff. Those included being a keynote speaker in Japan for the JALO (Japanese Association of Life Organizers,) and being president of ICD (Institute for Challenging Disorganization,) one of our industry associations. It was a strange juxtaposition of great highs and deep lows.

    But what became clear during these dramatic shifts, was the opportunity and need to refocus some energy back to me. This happened after the girls left and again about four years into my mom’s dementia diagnosis. I rediscovered the value of quiet and solo time when you could hear my voice without the distraction of others. I began learning and doing mindfulness meditation, yoga, and spending more one on one time with my friends.

    So what I know at this moment is another shift happening now. Being that I’m in the midst, it’s harder to define. But I feel it. Hindsight and time will make it clearer. What I know is that certain actions I’ve taken and continue to take help me navigate these shifts. I trust myself to find my path forward.

    While the world feels dark and uncertain, I am filled with hope and optimism for today and the future. I will use all the tools and resources I have, continue to listen, discover, and remain open. No one knows what is around the bend. And I’m OK with that. So instead I chose to focus on this moment. And this moment feels like a gift.

    • Yota Schneider

      Yes, there are a lot of questions to ponder 🙂 but there are no rules. All these questions are here to shed light to what is and where we’d like to go from here with our deep self-care.

      For you, right this very moment, it’s about recognizing the feeling of overwhelm and choosing to focus on what is doable and beneficial. So, congratulations my dear! Well done!

      Of course, as I read and re-read your reply, I can see that you’ve answered most of the questions. You’ve already contemplated these questions, at various points of your life, especially during the last ten years. Keep these questions with you and anytime you want to deepen your reflection, revisit them. You know what you’re doing.

      I am so sorry to hear about the losses over the last ten years. You make it sound easy but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t. It’s hard when we’re in it but then, if we surrender to the process, which you’ve done over and over again, we come to the other side changed but stronger and much wiser.

  • Linda Samuels

    I think the hardest part about loss is that we don’t understand when it’s happening how it will affect your life. You know it will. But when you’re experiencing the loss, you’re in the deep feeling and grief state. All you can do is feel. But shifts happen when someone close to you leaves- either by location or death. And while death feels so final, I’ve learned that it is not completely that way. All of those I hold close continue to be with me, but in different ways. The conversations are no longer out loud and face-to-face, but in my mind and heart. My dad’s voice is especially vibrant as he continues to guide me and share the laughter as I move through my days. I often hear his action call of, “Go for it!” when I’m struggling with a decision.

  • Kathleen Lauterbach

    Thanks for sharing Linda. I know that feeling of a shift in the family. My Mom and Dad and our childhood home
    that they held onto for their entire lives were our home base as a family. We gathered there for holidays, came together from different parts of the country. We became caretakers for both of them. My Dad, being blind, needed lots of help. My Mom’s stubborn, determined Irish background kept her going, yet during her last few years she needed us to help keep the house going and to support her and ward off loneliness. We all tried to rally to her side as much as possible. There are five of us and we all agreed to sell the house, which happened extremely fast. Put it on the market last Thanksgiving and it sold in two weeks.
    One thing that happened as a result of COVID is that we created a once a week family Zoom. It has amazed me that we have kept it going all this time and that we have actually talked to each other more than since we were kids. Now the discussions focus on our lives not how we can help Mom and Dad. This weird holiday situation does worry me though because one of our traditions was to make sure we always gathered together at Christmas. It usually was a few days later but all my nephews, brothers and sisters gathered and always had a great time. Hard to do that this year.

    • Linda Samuels

      Kathy- What a gift to have had a family home for so many decades- a place to gather and come together as a family. A constant. Your parents were so fortunate to have you and your four siblings watch over and help them as they aged in place. And now it’s another shift. It’s beautiful how you are connecting with your siblings regularly on Zoom and how the conversation has shifted.

      I understand about wanting traditions to continue. One of the hardest parts of losing our parents, or having our girls leave home were the traditions that got disappeared too. I floundered for a while until I realized it was up to me and Steve to create new traditions. I’ve come to appreciate that even with the new traditions that we’ve been trying, there will be changes. COVID played havoc with vacations, entertaining, Passover, a wedding, and Thanksgiving. It definitely takes some thought and creativity to ways to stay connected and remain flexible.

      I’m excited for you and the promise of what your new home and community will become for you. They are so lucky to have you there and I am guessing that you will enrich their lives in a million ways. When it’s “go time” you’ll be ready.

      P.S. Two plus years ago, when I cleared out my folks house and prepared it for sale, I wrote a lot and documented the process. It helped me make sense of what was happening. My final post was about letting go. If you are interested in reading it, here is a link – How to Say Goodbye and Let Go With Love:

  • Kathleen Lauterbach

    Now onto the questions;
    What is true for me is that I need to belong. I need to belong to a family, to a community and to a purpose.
    One of the main reasons we built this house in Delaware was so my sister and I could be in close proximity.
    We live three houses away from each other now. As I watched my Mom age, I saw the pain of isolation. I wanted to be close to family, to friends and even just neighbors that you stop on the street to say hi to.
    I think I have created that space here in Delaware. Our home is in a community yet we have a spot that backs the woods and has a pond behind it. I can get that sit and look out the window at nature peace yet also walk down the block and chat with family. We have a glorious front porch which I have always wanted. It is fun to just sit out there and watch folks go by.

    I do now belong to a community and that is interesting. There are rules here, some of which seem ridiculous.
    Our neighbor just had his landscaping plan rejected because he didn’t indicate the measurements from property borders. You are not allowed to post signs on your property. That created an interesting controversy around Black Lives Matter signs. There are also gatherings- much more limited now but the possibility exists. There was the 4th of July parade, the Fall decorate the community sign gathering, trivia nights, exercise classes that I hope to join at some point, and local theater groups.

    As I grow older, I have come to realize how every organization has its political side and this is no different. But it is interesting to see where you fit in that political animal.

    What I realized through the questions is that it has been hard to belong to a purpose right now. I so wanted to become a part of the library and the schools here. One reason for choosing this spot was the town has an active, vibrant library. Unfortunately it is still closed but operating on a drive up basis. This is also a booming area in terms of new communities and our community has a program with the local elementary school for volunteers. I really hope I can become part of both when the pandemic is but a memory.

    I realized how much I miss creative outlets. I love to do silly things like organize family events, decorate for the season, make a new recipe, etc. It is what I miss most about being retired. As a teacher you were always creating learning opportunities for kids. I do miss the excitement of introducing something new to them and watching kids come alive. In all the moving I have done, many of the efforts are just purely practical and that does exhaust you when the moves are as big as mine.

    In my 70 years of hanging out on this planet I have lived with others and also had my own places. I like both!
    I like the solitude of living alone, not having to worry about when you eat, or go to bed, or who you disturb, or how much time you spend reading, journaling or vegging out in front of a tv. I made a conscious decision though that I didn’t want to spend the next 20 years alone. Babs and I are still figuring out how to balance both our needs in our new living situation. I think we need to talk about it more in addition to just figuring out the physical job of merging two family homesteads treasures together.

    • Yota Schneider

      Hi Kathy,

      Obviously you know what is true about you … Family, community, a strong sense of purpose, and exercising your creativity have always been your guiding stars.

      After going through major life changes … retirement, selling and buying houses, relocation, the loss of your mom, settling the estate, and the deep changes in the family dynamics … it makes absolute sense that you’re in need of a long break. A break that provides you with the time and space you need to re-imagine life and identity in a brand new environment.

      You’re navigating deep life changes and the grief that comes with them. Although some of these changes were brought up by choice, it doesn’t mean you won’t go through the process of grieving what used to be. You’re now sitting in the middle of a terrain that hasn’t yet fully formed itself. Add Covid to that, and you got some waiting period.

      The loss of both parents leaves you the sole parent of yourself. There’s a lot to figure out and resolve and it will take time.

      The bad news it that, in an effort to get back to some sense of normalcy and feel safe, you may rush things. The good news is Covid is giving you an out. You’ve been invited to take a breather, rest, find new ways of being, and slowly and deliberately create your new reality.

      Family dyamics are already changing, you mentioned that you sense the need to brainstorm with Babs and figure out the best way to coexist, you’re scouting the area for involvement possibilities, and you’re considering new and creative ways to engage with your tribe.

      Whatever you feel is absolutely normal and part of the process. You’re right on course and you’re doing great. Give yourself a big hug … often!

      Thinking of you <3

  • Kathleen Lauterbach

    I think that one of the things I really miss with Covid is affection. You can’t hug people, you can’t give an assuring pat or touch. I think everyone needs that human touch and it is so weird now that we all feel like we have to back away from each other. Bab’s and I have made a pact to try and be kinder with each other even if it only is through the words we speak. Living 24/7 with someone you can start to get a bit intolerant and I sometimes forget to acknowledge the good. Working on it!

  • Twink McKenney

    Uploaded my graphic design project yesterday and regret that my time was limited this past week. Have been enjoying all of the back and forth though and all of the thoughtful input. It is good for me to step back from the “crazy” of self employment and think about these big questions — will give them more thought in the coming days. When I think about “what is true for me” … I have always been very independent — have worked at home for many years and really enjoy it. Even when I was going out and teaching yoga at the studio, I would love the days when I had a “full day” to myself — even if I was working. But COVID is changing this – have been starting to feel somewhat isolated and it is making me think more about the years ahead. About what I would be willing to do to create a lifestyle where I would have plenty of alone time and yet would be around people more than I have been. I am supported by my sisters and a group of wonderful friends, take lots of amazing hikes with my dogs — but the house I am in (I bought it with my ex) is not a place where I will feel more at peace as the years go on. Have been thinking about where I might see myself – have one sister north of Boston, another cousin at the CT shore, I love Maine — but not completely clear yet where the next step will take me.

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