Facilitator + Trainer + Creative Coach |
Based in Connecticut, Working Worldwide

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a photo of a handprinted mandala with a butterfly in the center created by Justine Ickes copyright 2022

How to be merry all year long!

How to be merry all year long!

Did you know that “merry” comes from an Old German word for “slow” or “leisurely”

I know! Not the vibe we typically associate with the end of the year, right?

In the holiday hoopla, we forget all too easily that relaxing, reminiscing, savoring moments alone or with family and friends, and simply BEING are what give us energy. 

Nature takes breaks and so can – and so should – we! 

So, as this year winds down, I hope you’ll give yourself the gift of downtime and rest!

Perhaps like many people – me included! – you might find yourself not measuring up to your own expectations when you take stock of the year.

Remember, no matter how much you did or did not achieve in (insert whatever year you’re reading this :-)), you are still worthy. So, go easy on you!

Here are some affirmations that might help.

🪬 I have done enough.

🪬 I created enough.

🪬 I offered my best to this year.  

🪬 I am allowed to take time to rest.

🪬 Other people’s accomplishments have no bearing on my own worth.

Would you like some support in making those affirmations stick? Coaching can help!

a photograph of a pink and white wooden mail box with an image of a white envelope and a red heart painted on it

Slow Starts and Sweet Surprises

Slow Starts and Sweet Surprises

To be honest, it always takes me some extra time to warm up to the new year. What about you?

Luckily, I’ve learned that, if you bundle up well, go for a wander, and get curious, you may stumble on a nice surprise.

I sure did, thanks to this sweet Love Letter box I found in the little town of Norfolk, aka the “icebox of Connecticut.”

A note on the box invited people to “write a love letter to someone unknown and to take a note for yourself.”

Imagine my delight when I pulled out this message! –>>> “You are singular and spectacular!”

I mean, c’mon! How great is that?!

Did I keep the note?

Well, I wanted to. But in the end I decided to leave it for the next lucky person.

Because here’s the thing: Every one of us is singular and spectacular. 

To be clear: “Every one” includes you.

Even if you haven’t chosen your word of the year, yet. Or ever.

Even if you’ve already bailed on your New Year’s resolutions.  

And even if you still aren’t sure what to make of the year ahead and your goals for the year have yet to come into focus.

Trust that they will in time.

Meanwhile, repeat after me: “I am singular and spectacular!”

a quote by author Karen Blixen that says "We must leave out mark on life while we have it in our power."

What are you doing here?

What are you doing here?

What did you come here to do? In other words, what’s your life purpose?⁣

Not sure? ⁣

Here are some ways to find out:⁣

* Help other people. – Studies have shown that being of service can help you feel a sense of purpose. ⁣

* Seek feedback. – Ask people what they think of when you enter their mind. What they notice about you can give you insights into your purpose.⁣

* Take note of topics that interest you. Do you regularly post about certain things on social media? Is there an injustice that deeply bothers you? These could be clues to your life purpose.⁣

Identifying a clear sense of purpose — aka the mark you’re here to make — can help you lead a better, happier, healthier life.⁣

So, ask yourself: What’s the mark I’m making?⁣ And is that what I really came here to do?

large boulder painted with a bright yellow smiley face in the shape of the sun

Go Big or Go Home!

Go Big or Go Home!

Ain’t that the truth?

I love seeing people’s creative expressions on this Block Island landmark. The messages and images change on the daily, sometimes even hourly. I’ve spotted folks happily making their mark in broad daylight and by flashlight.⁣

The thing is you don’t need spray paint or a boulder to speak your mind.⁣

Every day you are making a statement with your words and actions.⁣
Tell me: If you could express your truth big and bold, what would you say?⁣

Need help figuring that out? I’ve got spots opening right now for new coaching clients. Reach out and let’s work together!

close up photo of a large sculpture made of wrought iron letters of the English alphabet

What’s your personal alphabet?

What’s your personal alphabet?

Did you know that the word “alphabet” comes from the first two letters of the Greek language?⁠

And that way back in the day, speakers of Latin created the word “abecedarius” (aka the “ABCs”)?⁠

I didn’t and I’ve been a word nerd and language geek my whole life! :-)⁠

Which just proves you can always learn (and make!) something new.⁠

All this got me thinking: If you could create your own ABCs, what would the letters stand for? ⁠

I’d probably choose words that express what most matters to me: 

A for art.

B for becoming.

And C for creativity (and coaching)! No surprises there, right? ;-)⁠

How about you? What would your personal alphabet say about you and what you value? Want help figuring this out? Schedule a complimentary conversation to see what coaching can do for you!

Let your dreams take flight!

Let your dreams take flight!

Do you ever get all pumped up about a new goal and then a week later your energy has fizzled? 

Me too.

And often it’s because we get in our own way.

How? Here’s a recent example: For the first time since I’ve been in business, I set an actual revenue goal for this year. Yes, with real actual numbers! LOL 

A couple days later I spotted this “Moneyfly Mandala” by artist Arthur Becker in a lobby in Boston. 

I was starting to get excited that this might be some sort of “message from the universe” about my financial goal.

And then my inner critic/doubter piped up, “Nah! Can’t you see this is just a tongue in cheek observation about money!?” Cue sinking feeling…

Then I noticed an installation called “Moneyflies” on the opposite wall of the lobby. Now I felt even more deflated. “Okay, so my conjecture was correct – this is about the fleeting nature of money”, I told myself.

Guess what?! 5 minutes after I took these photos, I got an inquiry about my coaching and 5 minutes after that, someone reached out to ask about my workshops

Who knows whether either will pan out?! What I do know is the stories that we tell ourselves really matter. A lot. They can clip our wings. Or they can lift us up and help our dreams take flight. 

What story are you telling yourself? I can help you flip that script and move toward you the life you want. Schedule a free consult with me here.

beach grass waving in the autumn wind against a clear blue sky

Who do you need to thank today?

Who do you need to thank today?

Who is one person you can pause and be grateful for today?

For me, it’s Mrs. Lanka, the babysitter who looked after me when I was about 5 or 6.⁣

Actually, the word babysitter doesn’t really do Mrs. Lanka justice. Because from her I learned all sorts of things — especially, the joy of simple pleasures, like puzzles, reading and baking.⁣

But what I remember most about my days with Mrs. Lanka are our trips to the Bayard Cutting Arboretum on Long Island. I think it was there — seeing the expanse of the Great Lawn or climbing the knotted branches of the giant European Weeping Beech tree — that I fell in love with wandering and wondering. ⁣

Our absolute favorite thing to do was follow the River Walk along the Connetquot River. We’d meander down the labyrinthine paths past all manner of plants — stopping now and then to search out the metal tags that identified the plants and trees. ⁣

Eventually, we would end up on Breezy Island. There we’d unpack whatever treat Mrs. Lanka had packed – maybe a PBJ sandwich or some juicy oranges — and bask in the sun while ducks and geese floated by.⁣

I can still taste those oranges. ⁣

And whenever I see cat o’ nine tails and beach grass, I say a little prayer of thanks to Mrs. Lanka. ⁣

Who do you need to thank today? 

Growing Into Your New Life

Growing into Your New Life

We’re living in a time of tremendous upheaval — a global pandemic, widespread economic distress, and urgent calls for social justice and structural changes. 

With everything in flux these days and months, many of us are taking a good hard look at our lives. 

From where I sit, aligning your life, work and relationships with your true nature is much like creating a garden. It’s a worthy endeavor that takes patience, time, commitment, and a willingness to change with the seasons.

You may be feeling out of sync right now. Much like a plant that’s outgrown its container, perhaps you are yearning for the space to stretch and grow. You know the old way doesn’t feel right and, yet, you’re not sure what steps to take next.

Or maybe the shifts you’ve been experiencing lately have you feeling rootless. Like a sunflower seedling that slowly turns toward the sun, you may be wondering how to orient yourself to a new normal. 

Whatever you’re feeling, take heart – as Rilke wrote “No feeling is final”. Our feelings are simply cues to the places where we need to focus our attention.

Today I encourage you to heed the voice of your inner guide. You may hear it as a whisper, or a clamour. No matter the volume, ask yourself:

  • What is no longer working in my life?
  • Where do I feel hemmed in or confined to an old way of being?
  • What needs to change? 
  • What new habits will help me thrive?
  • Who in my circle of support can help me grow stronger and deeper?

I offer creative coaching, support and accountability to get you out of overwhelm and into action. Schedule a complimentary coaching session with me, and let’s get the seeds of your growth planted today.

Justine Ickes coach trainer facilitator

Three Tips for Engaging Learners

What makes for a great learning experience?

The short answer = A laser-like focus on the learner. 

As we all pivot to new ways of connecting, business owners, coaches, creatives, and folks like you are looking for the best ways to deliver powerful learning experiences.

Whether it’s a live webinar, pre-recorded course, virtual instructor-led training or a combination of all three, there’s one key rule to follow.

Put your audience front and center with these three simple rules.

  1. Show, don’t tell.

Make your content real! Remember those amazing Apple product launches? Like the legendary iPhone reveal? Or the iPad presentation? Steve Jobs didn’t just talk about these products; he actually showed what they could do in real-time.

I’m pretty sure the former Apple CEO knew there’d be a learning curve. That people would need time to figure out all the cool things they could do with the new devices.

But did Steve get bogged down in wordy step-by-step instructions for all those features? 

Nah. He knew people would be so excited and motivated that they’d experiment and learn on their own. 

The same goes for your own courses. Instead of boring your clients and customers with all the details, structure your courses so people can jump right in and teach themselves.

  1. Make your content real!

Candy Crush is fine when you need a mental pick-me-up. But when a chocolate craving strikes, wouldn’t you rather have the real thing?

Real live adults — like the ones enrolling in your webinars and courses — prefer content they can relate to. 

So, instead of imaginary scenarios and stock photos look for ways to boost the real life quotient in your courses.


Here’s one idea: Instead of spending money on stilted, professional voice-overs, or robotic find someone in your network who has a great voice and have that person do the narration. 

Think about it. You know your niche inside and out, right? And your employees (if you have any) should too. (And, if they don’t, why are they working for you?)

Do-it-yourself audio lets you tap into your in-house expertise and emphasize your brand’s unique personality.

So, talk about your products and services in real-world language your prospects and clients can understand.

  1. Watch your language.

Social media sites like Twitter, TikTok and Instagram have made tongue-in-cheek quips and commentary all the rage. To be sure, a smart and sassy title can bring traffic and maybe even boost sales.

But, when it comes to effective e-learning, it’s best to steer clear of this style of communication. Because what’s great for marketing can be downright annoying to a learner.

Remember, people come to your course to learn, not to be wowed — or worse, confused or irritated — by clever titles.

The next time you’re tempted to serve up some snazzy, punny text, ask yourself: Is this really necessary? Is this the best, clearest, most helpful way of educating my customers?

Follow these three rules and you’ll be well on your way to creating meaningful webinars and educational courses that your clients and customers will love.

Want some support getting your signature learning program up and running? I’ve spent decades designing courses for clients large and small and I’ve got a proven system to get you in the learning game. Check out The Launch Pad, my hybrid coaching + consulting program. Or contact me for a consult to find out how I can help.


Three tips for nurturing your self

Want to dig in and plant the seeds of the next phase in your life journey? Then take a cue from Mother Nature with these three tips for building and nurturing a life you love.

  1. Prepare Your Foundation

Ask any seasoned gardener and they’ll tell you it’s all about the soil. Rich, healthy earth makes for happy, thriving plants and an abundant harvest. The same holds true for people seeking personal growth and transformation. 

What do you need to have in place at the start of your coaching journey?

  • Deep commitment to doing the work that leads to self-awareness 
  • Tools to help you explore what matters to you – your core values and motivators
  • A personal life purpose statement to steer you along
  1. Be Selective!

Whether you’re carving out an urban plot or staking a homestead, you first need to decide what to plant. Along the way, you have to assess and make some hard choices. Have you got enough space for all those heirloom tomatoes? Can you live without another jalapeño?

You need to be just as choosy when you design your own life.

So spend the time upfront to get clear on your core values, take stock of where your life is at right now, and make sure you have the support you need to make any necessary changes to move you forward. 

  1. Diversify, diversify, diversify!

Monoculture isn’t good for our planet and it’s not good for humans, either. A well-crafted life blends people, purpose and passions that feed your mind, body, and spirit. 

How do you strike that healthy balance and nurture all facets of your life? You can start by doing a personal audit. Where and how are you spending your time and energy? What people and passions will help you thrive where you’re planted?

Interested in exploring how coaching can help you grow and thrive? Not sure where to start? Then my “North Star” coaching package may be right for you. Schedule your complimentary session and let’s talk.