Author Archives: Marie Bankuti

You’re Not Done Until You’re Dead

I remember having a conversation many moons ago with a colleague and friend of mine about being life-long learners. We discussed our common belief that there’s always, always something new to explore, to learn, or to experience.

As we philosophized and mused with each other about all the possible ways we might satisfy our curiosities, I remember blurting out…

“You know what I believe? I believe you’re not done until you’re dead!”

We chuckled at my declaration and continued with our very important discussion.

I have no recollection of what adventure I came up with that day, but I do know this…

That impromptu proclamation became an important part of my belief system, the filter through which I see the world. There’s so much to experience and so little time.

2020 has intensified that sense of ‘we have no time to waste’ for me. Do you feel it too?

With all that’s happening around us —a global pandemic, political and social strife, increasing indicators of global warming— living fully feels as though it’s never been more important

Even though right now we aren’t really able to travel far, gather together, or celebrate grandly, we CAN put these next three months to meaningful and productive use. We CAN use this time for creative dreaming, exploring, planning, stage-setting, and preparing for what could be possible next year.

I’m choosing to take and squeeze everything I can out of the end of 2020. To learn now, to explore now, to prepare now for what I want to create in 2021. Places to visit, new trails to walk, adventures to share with my grandson, books to write and read and listen to, coaching programs to design, and things I haven’t yet imagined! 

What are YOU wanting to make happen next year?

  • What do you want to explore and learn about?
  • What do you want to transform from dream into reality?
  • What have you put on hold, waiting for the perfect moment?

Remember, YOU are not done until you’re dead.  

2021 here we come!


What’s Your Camino?

In 2019, when I walked the Camino de Santiago, a nearly 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain. I fulfilled a dream I’d had for nearly a decade.

Up until then I couldn’t seem to make it happen. Not enough money or time, too much work, not enough work, family obligations, etc. In other words, life kept getting in the way. More accurately, I kept letting life get in the way. I told myself I couldn’t take five weeks off from my business, clients, personal matters, financial responsibilities, on and on.

Then one day, having gotten so sick of telling myself, “someday”, I decided to make it happen. I didn’t know how, and you know what? It didn’t matter. I just knew I was going to do it.

Once I had made that decision everything changed. As they say, the universe conspired to support me.

Ideas came to mind, people who had already walked the Way showed up in my life, circumstances shifted, and possibilities appeared. Piece by piece it fell into place. Something that seemed nearly impossible was going to happen. Simply by making the decision, taking the first step, and trusting myself.

I re-learned, in a very powerful way, something I’d known before but hadn’t experienced to this degree.

We cannot – and should not – wait for the perfect moment and circumstances to appear. When we do, they don’t. We can’t wait to have all the answers and know-how. It’s not just a cliché to say life is too short. The moments become days, then weeks, then years, then a lifetime.

It’s our responsibility to create our own life experience. It’s on each of us to challenge limitations, grow ourselves, conquer fears, and do the things our heart and soul long to do. Whatever that is for you.

Many of you came along with me on that journey. It was special for me to share the sights and experiences each day. Your responses to my posts offered much inspiration.

After coming home, I asked myself… WHY did I wait so very long to do this?

From that point on I decided not to let that happen again. I also decided to do whatever I could to help others benefit from my learning. To help folks see that it CAN happen. And not only that it can happen… it NEEDS to happen!

So, what’s YOUR Camino?

What’s the secret (or not so secret) desire you’ve held in the back of your mind or in your heart for years? The dream you may not have ever spoken about to anyone, maybe even yourself.

What is the…

  • trip you want to take
  • career change you want to make
  • book you want to write
  • fear you want to conquer
  • baby you want to have
  • plane you want to jump from
  • message you want to speak
  • business you want to start
  • language you want to speak
  • place you want to live
  • art you want to create
  • hike you want to complete
  • love you want to find
  • degree you want to complete
  • garden you want to plant
  • experience you want to have
  • difference you want to make

It’s there inside you, whispering, maybe even screaming. Yet, you’re unable to imagine how to make it possible. Allowing yourself to feel it might even hurt a bit to think it may never become a reality before your days are through. What have you told yourself you can’t do, and at the same time, you CAN’T let go of?

THAT is YOUR Camino!

Isn’t it way past time?  Don’t wait any longer!

Make the decision. Take that first step. Trust yourself.


Leveraging Parkinson’s Law

Have you heard of Parkinson’s Law

It states that “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

Simply put, the amount of work required adjusts (usually increasing) to the time available for its completion.

No wonder it feels as though I’m working all the time these days!

If you’re used to going into an office every day and you’ve found yourself working at home for the past several months due to the pandemic, you may have noticed that it feels like that for you too. I’ve been working at home for years and it can still be a struggle some days.

Many people have more time now, without a commute. Others have less time as they balance work and home life while pinch-hitting as teacher. Time seems to lose clear definition when our professional work, household chores, home schooling duties, increased cooking time, and personal life all happen within the same four walls. When the new commute consists of walking from the bedroom to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, then to the dining room table or home office – and we’re able to do all of the above wearing the same pajama bottoms – our approach may be worth revisiting. 

I suspect we’re going to be in this pandemic thing for a while. And if that’s the case, how do we adjust our relationship with time to reinstate boundaries, regain productivity, and pump up the joy?

How do we prevent overwhelm, stop listening to the dishwasher calling us to come empty it, resist watering the plants, taking out the trash or running that quick errand to the post office and grocery store?  Before you know it, it’s 3pm and very little work has been accomplished.

Sure, those are important things to do, but are we being most efficient if we’re bouncing back and forth, transferring the laundry while preparing for that presentation? It might feel like it, but I have news… multitasking is not an actual thing. Granted, that’s a whole other conversation backed by science.

Instead, I say we appropriate this law of Parkinson’s and wrangle those schedules with Time Boxing.

The concept of Time Boxing is simple, really.

  • Chunk out your tasks; especially those you procrastinate on or can’t find focused time for
  • Estimate and assign a block of time to complete each task (you’ll get better at estimating with practice)
  • Break large tasks into smaller ones; nothing should take a whole day or more by itself
  • Prioritize work by deadline, not by preference; you’ll feel more accomplished getting things done on time, or even early
  • Schedule the blocks on your calendar, preventing others from grabbing your time
  • Commit to keeping that appointment with yourself, like you would with someone else
  • Work on that task, and that task only; turn off all distractions (email, calendar notifications, social media, phone, TV, radio)
  • Challenge yourself to complete the task in that designated block of time; focus on how good it will feel to check it off as complete
  • When the time block ends, assess your progress, and schedule another block of time, if needed
  • Track your estimates vs. your actuals to get better at estimating
  • At the end of the week, celebrate all you’ve been able to accomplish!

And don’t forget the law… Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.  Set a finite time for completing each task. On Monday, simply saying “I’ve got to get this done by Friday” is not going to cut it.

This concept can be applied to your personal life too. Consider using it with that home project you’re procrastinating on, or that event you’re planning for the holidays (virtual, of course).

I’m not always perfect with this, but when I put it into practice, that To-Do list doesn’t stand a chance!

The Most Powerful Question

I heard a simple statement many years ago that resonated strongly with me. I don’t even remember who said it, but it has been with me all these years.

I’m reminded of it, now and then, especially when I’m about to make a relatively important decision. It also comes into play in every day smaller matters. Admittedly, not as often as it should.

What was that statement, you ask?

When we say “yes” to something, we are saying “no” to something else.

Simple, right? No earth-shattering wisdom here.

But think about it. We all have just 24 hours in each day to use in any way we like. In every one of those 1,440 minutes, we are choosing how to spend that limited time, consciously or unconsciously. And like with time, there are spending limits on our money (for most of us anyway) and on our energy as well.

When we make a choice for something, it only makes sense that we’re opting out of something else at the same time. We are choosing to forgo another way we could be spending those finite resources.

When we say yes to spending time on the computer, we could be saying no to time with loved ones, time in nature, or time exploring a passion.

When we say yes to purchasing that new outfit or latest electronic gadget, we might be saying no to funds that could be going towards traveling to new places or buying that first home.

When we spend our energy on worrying or getting angry at something out of our control, we just might be saying no to learning something new, helping a friend, or simply enjoying the moment.    

Fortunately, there are no hard and fast rules about what decisions we must make.

If we’re not hurting anyone or breaking a law, the choice is completely up to us (even when it doesn’t appear so). Often, unfortunately, when we make choices, we aren’t being intentional about them.

We humans tend to default to what’s comfortable, easy, or familiar, which may or may not be the best use of our precious resources.

Taking that statement, turning it upside down, and using it as a question is a powerful way to keep us on track towards being happy, healthy, and successful. 

The “Yes/No Question” is a quick and easy tool to remind us about what’s most important.

While it’s true the question might only make a tiny difference in the moment, it might also be making a gigantic difference in the trajectory of the future!

How so?  Try answering these questions as honestly as you can and see what happens:

  • If I say YES to this, what am I saying NO to?
  • Is this choice important enough to spend my limited time, money, and/or energy on? 
  • Is it more important than other things I could be spending them on?
  • Does it align with my values and enable my goals?
  • Will it lead me off course or move me closer to who, how and where I want to be in my life?

This is not to say that down time, owning things that bring us joy, and taking siestas are not valuable and should be avoided. And it doesn’t mean we have to be working towards something every moment of every day.

What the Yes/No Question allows us to do is choose to live and work and play with intention. Not by default and not on autopilot. It allows us to live our lives in a way we won’t regret. And it allows us to check in, catch ourselves and redirect as needed.

Building awareness in this way takes practice, patience, and grace for yourself.

What are YOU saying yes and no to?

Insanely Courageous

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
                                                      ~Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo

Have you seen the movie, We Bought a Zoo?  I haven’t, but I sure like that quote.

Insane courage.

That force that moves you to do something when everything practical and protective inside you screams, “No, don’t do that!”

It was present in the moment I quit my job to work for myself, walking away from a decades-long career.

It was with me when I asked my first paying client for my full hourly rate.

It was what got me through my hesitation to submit my first speaking proposal for an audience of over 200 people.

And it was in the lump I swallowed when I let a guy at work know I was interested in exploring a connection. 

Now, it may seem to you that those situations don’t require insane courage. Nor any measure of courage at all, for that matter. Honestly, right now it feels that way to me too.

But I sure remember what it felt like in the moment, when I was about to speak those words and hit that send button.
Rapid heartbeat, fear, insecurity, second guessing, vulnerability. They were all present as well.

Why did I do it then?  Because, like Benjamin Mee, I believe when we suspend our fears and move forward courageously, even for a quick moment, “something great will come of it”. Busting through comfort zones allows us to see and experience more of what’s possible.

That’s not to say that moments like these turn out to be momentous happenings. Sometimes we don’t even obtain what we originally hoped for. Does that matter, though, if growth happens?

When situations don’t quite work out, what if we saw them as a chance to recalibrate, rather than as a failure? What if we celebrated our ability to ignore and overcome the little voice inside that says, “You can’t do that, you’re not _______ enough.”?

Those 20 seconds of courage can be life changing. They were for me.

What are you keeping yourself from saying or doing? 

You know, that dream you’ve neatly tucked away in the corner of your heart for someday, or that impulse you’ve locked into the recesses of your brain.  Yes, that!

If you’re tired of saying “someday”, try answering these questions with brutal honesty:

  • When have you been insanely courageous? Mildly courageous? A teensy bit?
  • What did it feel like before acting? 
  • What made you do it?
  • How did you feel afterwards? 
  • Were you successful or were you offered an opportunity to recalibrate? 
  • Successful or not, what did you learn about yourself? What are you proud of?
  • What’s the courageous action you need/want to take now?
  • What’s important about that?  What’s your why?
  • How will you feel once it’s done?  (Visualize it!)
  • What’s standing in your way?  Is it REALLY standing in your way?

Then ask yourself… What is the worst thing that could happen if you trusted yourself and boldly stepped forward?  No kidding, what’s the very worst thing? Would avoiding that worst thing really be worth sacrificing your vision?  (By the way, if it isn’t obvious by now, I didn’t die when a couple of those situations didn’t work out exactly the way I’d planned.)

Then take a deeeeeep breath and go for it…

…hit send, dial that number, say I love you, voice your idea, ask for what you need, buy a zoo!

Something great just may come of it.

Share your story! If you need extra motivation, I’m a great cheerleader.
If you made it happen, let me celebrate with you!

The Other Side of the Arc

Can you feel it?

Do you get the sense that we’ve made it over the arc of the pandemic?
Over the past 2+ months, virtually the whole world has shared a devastating experience, almost in unison. Like a mountain range that rises and falls with each peak, countries around the globe have reluctantly taken their turn at scaling the abrupt incline, reaching the apex, surveying the land, and then beginning the descent into what lies below.  Some are descending more slowly and deliberately than others.
My assumption is that each of us has moved through the experience of novelty, confusion, disbelief, fear, frustration, and yearning.
Many have continued on to connecting, assessing, acclimating, normalizing, and re-grounding.
Some have added resistance and defiance to their journey. Some are suffering, others are thriving.
Regardless of where each person is, individually, it feels as though, collectively, we’re finally on the downward slope.
It’s feels like the time is right to begin dreaming, hoping, planning, emerging, and acting.
And as we continue to move through these coming days and weeks, I’m hopeful we’ve learned a few things. I hope we’ve been able to break through the fog of indifference and can begin to see our world with more clarity… locally and globally.
We’re realizing how greatly we lean on and take advantage of those who keep us healthy, safe, and supplied, along with those who care for and educate our children. We’re learning how race and class unfairly determine who carries most of the burden and that healthcare shouldn’t be tied to employment. It’s becoming clear how much excess consumerism consumes us, and about the opportunistic nature of far too many.  We’re awakening to those we have completely left behind.
If we’re paying attention, we can learn from how nature magically heals herself when given the chance. Smog is lifting and skies are bluer. Birds are celebrating and singing louder. Many are reaping the rewards of families spending more quality time together. Folks are cooking more and eating healthier… together. Hobbies are being explored, closets are getting organized, and the most vulnerable are being supported. 
It’s been said, things can’t and won’t return to the way they were when this new year dawned. That, I believe. What I also believe is that we are at a crossroads together, with an abundance of options in front of each of us. Some that affect us personally, and others that impact our local and global communities. I know we humans are capable of discerning what’s important enough to take forward, as well as what is wise to leave behind. 

I want to believe that we’ll internalize what’s been revealed to us, right the wrongs and amplify the good. 
We have a unique opportunity to reset our collective compass. Will we choose to recreate our world with the wisdom we’ve gained, and then sustain our efforts when it gets difficult?
We’ll find out soon enough.  
  “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
               Closing Time, Semisonic

Feelings. Obviously.

Let me state the obvious. Feelings are complicated. And there are a lot of feelings being felt right now.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after 13 years as a coach, it’s that everyone responds to circumstances differently. Even when everything seems the same on the outside, the way we internalize, process, and respond to our experiences can be vastly different.

What may not be so obvious is that feelings aren’t linear. They don’t have a specific path or template to follow. They usually aren’t single threaded, and they can easily change from moment to moment. They can sneak up on us so slowly that they’re hardly even noticed, or completely catch us by surprise, or anything in between. They can make us want to run and escape or stay and luxuriate. Sometimes we can feel as though we’ve got them “under control”, while other times we’re uncontrollably joyous or inconsolable.

It’s taken me some time to put my finger on what I’ve been feeling during this outbreak of COVID 19. Being a natural problem solver without a specific problem to solve and no way to plan, I’m out of my realm. My feelings have shifted and morphed over the past five weeks. In the beginning I was curious, not yet understanding the full gravity of the situation. That turned into pride and a sense of purpose and community, being able to unite and contribute to the solution by isolating. Then frustration set in and my heart longed to hold my new grandson and hug my daughter who just gave birth for the first time on March 25th. All the while, I’ve felt unfocused and adrift, kind of foggy with this sense of swirling. And it can feel lonely sometimes.

Let me ask you… what are you feeling right now?

Are you stressed because you’re quarantined with a big family and can’t find a moment to yourself? Are you lonely, on your own and missing human touch and conversation? Maybe you’re busier than ever with virtual work and home schooling and you have no clue what you’re feeling. Maybe you’re relieved to slow down and step away from the fullness of your world. Or just maybe you’re one of the brave folks on the front lines, protecting and serving the rest of us, feeling proud or scared. Probably both.

Are you feeling angry, sad, scared, tense, excited, anxious, curious, lethargic, confused, frustrated, grateful, grief, ungrounded, impatient, disconnected, overwhelmed, pressured, contented, mentally or emotionally exhausted?

I’ll bet your answer is yes… to any number of those feelings at different times, maybe multiple times a day. Sometimes several at once. Right?

Well first, that is a good thing… it means you’re still alive and fully human. Thank goodness!

No one ever issued us a rule book on what to feel and how to respond to a worldwide pandemic (or maybe they did, and I just missed it?). There is no right or wrong way to feel through something like this. So be kind and gentle. Give yourself and others a little grace.

Without that rule book, it’s taken a bit for me to gain clarity about what I have to offer, how I could support my community, and what form that could take.

Now that we’ve sort of settled into our new routines and we know we’re probably in this for the long haul, I’d like to offer a free, virtual place to gather weekly. It’s an opportunity to connect with others and create community. Come share how you’re coping, exchange ideas, give and receive support, set intentions, laugh, cry… it’s all welcome. Join us just once or every week, male or female, older or younger, wherever you are in the world. You’re all welcome!

Each week we’ll have a new topic or question to explore. We’ll keep it positive and inspirational. Don’t feel as though you need to come with anything brilliant to say. It’s simply a conversation, an exploration. Come and just listen in if you like.

Space will be limited to keep the conversation manageable and the calls will go on into the future for as long as there’s interest.

We’ll meet weekly via Zoom on Thursdays 12:00-12:50pm Eastern time

Email me at to let me know you’re coming and I’ll send you the link to attend.  I hope to see you there. Yes, you!

One last thing… if you’re feeling as though you’d like a more personal one-off conversation, I invite you to schedule a free (no obligation, no sales pitch) coaching session with me HERE.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Coming Together While Staying Apart

I’ve noticed something in the last few days.

Amidst all the doom and gloom, mishandling and politicization, cancellations and grocery store runs, social distancing and efforts to flatten the curve… there’s something else happening. Have you noticed?

It feels a little bit like what happened after 911, or the marathon bombing, or countless other catastrophes here and elsewhere in the world. It’s the way in which we come together as humans to support one another in times of great disruption.

From challenge comes barrier busting, community building, creativity and resourcefulness. We see and experience it every day, if we’re paying attention.

My sense, and my hope, is that this current global effort is going to continue to expand, bring us together and have a transformative effect on each of us. In my opinion, in this time of retractive nationalism, it’s what’s needed most.

We’re right in the thick of it. And we get to choose how we perceive, internalize, approach and use this unique time alone… together.

Many people are understandably shaken and rightfully concerned about taking care of self and loved ones, especially those more vulnerable.

Thankfully, some are stepping up and looking for ways to be of service to others.

There are some who are making lemonade from lemons, as they say. They’re innovating, coming together in unique and heartfelt ways. They’re collaborating to offer creative solutions to making the stay at home more tolerable. Perhaps, even enjoyable.

They are sensing what’s needed and taking the lead to satisfy that need.

Some are filling empty streets with song, like this neighborhood in Italy.

Museums are providing virtual tours. Music makers are offering live streaming programs.

Non-profits are rallying to offer financial relief for those hit hardest.

Grownups are hosting virtual cocktail parties and children are enjoying virtual play dates.

People of all ages are exploring the outdoors together (6 feet apart, of course!).

Video conferencing providers are offering their services for free.

Companies are educating and supporting corporate leaders with options for leading in hard times

All sorts of reminders are popping up on social media encouraging us to stay connected and to help one another in the ways we’re able.

For all these people, organizations and so many others… I am grateful.

Be prudent, be safe, be kind.

Your turn… Let’s share ideas and keep the list growing!

     How are you spending your time in pseudo or full-on quarantine?

     What other creative, charitable or fun ideas have you heard about?

Are You a Possibilitarian?

The other day, an email showed up in my inbox with a quote that got my attention…

Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities – always see them, for they’re always there.” 

~Norman Vincent Peale It got me thinking.

Being smack dab in the middle of launching a new direction for my coaching practice, I’ve been noodling on ways to communicate my “brand”; words or phrases that describe who I am, what I’m known for, and what I bring to my clients.

And there it was… “possibilitarian”. What a fantastic word!

It’s a word that WORD doesn’t like, complaining as it does, and underlining it in red. But I LOVE made up words that perfectly express concepts, things or actions, for which we have no words in the English language. 

Possibilitarian. You know exactly what it’s trying to convey.

For me the word is, at once, a confirmation and a calling forth.

It describes how I experience and interact with the world. Confirmation that anything and everything is possible, as long as I point my intention and action towards it. 

It also calls to me, to claim it and to step into that way of being even more so. To live it more deeply, more widely, more loudly… to inspire others to become possibilitarians too! 

So, if you aren’t one already (and I know there are some of you out there), take a moment to imagine yourself as a possibilitarian.
What would that look like? 

How would it show up in your life?

What might be possible that you previously thought was impossible, or too hard, or too complicated, or too expensive, or too ___________? 

What would you choose to pursue as a possibilitarian that your non-possibilitarian self won’t let you dream about or make happen?

Can you let yourself go there? Join me in saying “BAH HUMBUG” to the self-limiting roadblocks we place in our very own paths (yes, I can do it sometimes too).

I challenge you to put on the possibilitarian “suit” tomorrow as you prepare for the day!

Notice what happens when you catch yourself saying, “No, I can’t.” or “That won’t work.” or “No way!”, and instead say to yourself, “What if it IS possible?” or “What if I COULD actually do this?”.

And then I want to hear from you

What would you do? Who would you be? What could you conquer? …if you believed it was possible?

Well, even if YOU don’t yet believe… I believe in your possibilities.

And I’m happy to explore them with you… just ask!

Comfort Zones Be Damned

I’m someone who’s been known for taking a risk and reinventing herself… more than once, actually.

And, well, I’m at it again!

There comes a time when you say to yourself, “It’s been a good ride, and it’s time for something new!” (At least as a Gemini, that’s what you say.)

After a long career in IT, I’m now in my 13th year as a Coach, Trainer and Speaker. When I left the corporate world, it was to become a Life Coach. I wanted to do something that mattered more deeply to me and really had an impact on people’s lives.

When you start your own business and you’re the one paying the bills, it’s not always easy to say no to certain types of work that comes your way. And when you find success going in a slightly different direction than you’d planned, you go with the flow.

Which brought me to years of very rewarding leadership and team coaching. I like to believe I made a difference for those leaders and teams that I touched.

Subsequently, I added working with foreign-born professionals, multicultural teams and their leaders to my repertoire. Also, very rewarding and, hopefully, I’ve opened eyes and eased the way for those challenged by working in cross-cultural environments.

Most recently, I’ve focused on the important work of assisting individuals in career transition, whether by choice or (mostly) not. This work is so fulfilling, and I feel honored to help folks get back on their feet after the rug has been pulled out from under them.

No matter the type of coaching, I’ve always fallen in love with my clients. It’s just what happens when you have meaningful, personal conversations, walking through aspirations, challenges and triumphs together. I’ll continue to work in some of these areas going forward.

So, what am I up to now, you ask? I’ve come full circle, taking on a challenge that’s both old and new.

I am now taking my Life Coaching up a notch!  

In the coming weeks, I’ll share more about what that means. I hope I’ve sparked your curiosity enough to entice you to spend a little time with me on this journey. And if not, no worries, there’s always the unsubscribe link. Changes are coming to my newsletter, my website, my offerings and my events. They aren’t quite ready yet, and I can’t wait to share them with you very soon! In the meantime, check out my upcoming events

Edited 5/10/20