Colorado Life Coach: I Don’t Want To Settle

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 12.01.28 PMWhy can’t you just be happy?

Isn’t it ever good enough?

Do you ever struggle with these questions? I sure do!

Whether it’s a relationship, a career, health issues, friendships, or my family, I find myself longing for more. It’s not an ego thing. I just happen to believe Jesus when he said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

So here’s the question: Did Jesus mean it? Does it still happen today? Is he talking about heaven or here on earth? Ok, that’s 3 questions.

From the time I can remember, I’ve always had big dreams. This was before I developed too much in the way of arrogance, or wanting to show off. I was just a kid, and I believed life was full of huge, wonderful opportunities. I could do anything I wanted, if I tried hard enough. And I did, throughout my childhood.

I had the occasional disappointment, but life pretty much went as I hoped.

Until I grew up.

Then life got really hard. I found that many times I didn’t have the tools I needed to navigate difficulties. I didn’t have good boundaries. I didn’t know where I ended, and someone else began. I lost my sense of who I was. Life rolled me over, and I lost…big time.

Can you relate?

Maybe your childhood was much rougher than mine. Maybe you came from an abusive, addictive, or neglectful home. Maybe you only had one parent, or grew up in foster care. Maybe you suffered horrible loss early on.

Whatever the case, don’t we all, at some point or another, begin to settle.

Maybe this is all there is.

What if my health, family, marriage, weight (fill in the blank) NEVER gets better?

Why even hope anymore?

Here’s the rub: I want to be a fairly happy person, even in the midst of difficulties. I don’t think it’s normal to walk around singing after horrible news. That’s not what I mean. I just don’t want to be depressed, cranky, and horrible to live with. But I also desire more.

So, how do we walk that fence? How do we accept life as it is, and still hold out hope for more?

I actually believe Jesus meant we could have the abundant life here and in this life.

I’m not talking about money, although I do believe that we can use money for great purposes for ourselves and others. I love the opportunity to travel with my family, and I see God’s blessing all over that.

I know that some people have disabilities or injuries that will not be healed in their lifetime.

And, I still believe Jesus when he said we would have abundant life. I believe him so much so, that I used to yell at him, “This is not abundant life! You promised! I’m holding you to it. I’m not going to stop bugging you, until you honor your promise!” I’m holding on for abundant life.

My definition of abundance has changed over the years, and through the turbulent times of life. I’ve learned that I feel overwhelmingly blessed when I share something intimate with God.

~When I write in my journal and ask him questions, and I just sense him smiling, or I actually feel an answer to my question, I feel abundantly grateful.

~When everywhere I go, I run into little “coincidences” that could never happen if God didn’t arrange for it to happen, I feel abundantly loved.

~When things I’ve hoped for and dreamed about my whole life start finally happening, I feel abundantly happy!

It’s not all the time, or in every area of life, but I am living an abundant life. And in the areas I still hope for more I refuse to settle, not because I’m entitled, but because God loves me.

And he promised.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

Attachment – Episode 3 (with guest host, Forrest Lien)

Black Background 1400x1400 Join Carrie and Melinda as they talk with Forrest Lien, an attachment disorder therapist, and discuss Reactive Attachment Disorder, and its effect on families.

Colorado Life Coach: Suffering in Silence

Image Created by Eric Phillip Einarsen on a Canon EOS Rebel T2i

Since I started blogging and podcasting, I’ve heard from lots of people.

Some are currently struggling with their own adopted, fostered, or even birth children, who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Others knew us when we were in the thick of parenting our own RAD son, but didn’t have any idea the extent of our circumstances.

I’ve noticed a trend:

The ones who are struggling with their own RAD kids seem to go one of two ways:

1. They reach out to me in secret. They call from their bedroom closets (women), or their garage (men), because it’s the only place they know they can talk without being overheard. They suffer in silence. They feel so alone and misunderstood. You see, their children present a different side of themselves to the outside world. No one truly understands what their home life is like.

When they try to tell people, no one believes them, not even the professionals. The parents are blamed. I remember this feeling well. It saddens me to think of all the times I reached out hoping for help, only to feel shamed.

2. They don’t want anything to do with me. I relate to this as well. I remember the first time I heard a family was going to place their adopted child with another family. I couldn’t believe it.

You don’t do that!

It scared me, way down deep. I didn’t want to even consider that as a possibility. Yet, something inside me wished I had the option to even think about this choice. Exhausted beyond what I thought humanly possible, I knew I couldn’t keep going, but the option of someone else raising my child seemed barbaric.

I’m also hearing from people who knew us back then. They all seem to respond similarly:

“We didn’t know how bad it was. We just thought you gave up, and gave your child away.”

I understand this response as well. We suffered in silence. I talked about it frequently in the beginning, but as the years dragged on along with the therapy, special education, prayers, surgeries, and daily trauma, I could sense how hard it was for others to continue to deal with us. We pulled back. It wasn’t that we didn’t NEED the help, we were just too worn out to ask anymore.

We retreated. We isolated ourselves. We just didn’t have the strength to try to explain.

When everything looked so nice and tidy from the outside, it took a great deal of energy-energy that we didn’t have, to try to get people to understand. “No, what you see from the outside is not an accurate picture.” “Yes, I know everyone at school loves him, and you can’t imagine what I’m telling you is actually true.”

We suffered in silence.

I still suffer some days. It’s very difficult to place your child with another family. I still grieve, but not silently anymore. I’ve built my strength back up. I’ve healed a great deal. I have energy now.

I’m fighting for all of you who suffer silently! You are not alone! I get it! I understand what your daily lives are like! I get how a small child can manipulate your family until you think you’re crazy! I get how you and your spouse don’t see anything eye to eye anymore. I understand how you try to explain this to your family and friends, but they truly don’t get it.

I get it.

I will continue to share my story, because it’s also YOUR story. I will continue to interview people who get it, and have hope for you! In fact, tomorrow, I’m filming a podcast with Forrest Lien from the Institute For Attachment in Littleton, Colorado. We’ll broadcast it in a few weeks. If you need help before then, click here to contact Forrest. He has the hope and help I needed, but couldn’t find several years ago.

To be updated on future podcasts, make sure to subscribe to this blog, sign up on iTunes or YouTube (Broken and Brilliant), or go to Carrie O’Toole Ministries on Facebook, and hit the “Like” button. I’ll post links to blogs and podcasts there.

Don’t suffer in silence anymore, because you are not alone.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.


Episode 002 – Shannon Ethridge

PurpleEpisode 002 – Shannon Ethridge. Join Carrie and Melinda as they talk with million-copy bestselling author, and speaker Shannon Ethridge, about the fatal car accident that changed her life at age sixteen. The second of a new podcast series.

Colorado Life Coach: Hopeless

Image Created by Eric Phillip Einarsen on a Canon EOS Rebel T2i

What a horrible word!


No hope


Giving up

This word brings death. They are the words of someone without a future, without a promise, without a reason.

Have you ever felt it? Have you known someone who’s felt it?

It sucks the life right out of your lungs. It covers your head with defeat. It knocks the life out of your soul.

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” I’ve known this heart sickness. When you have hope for a long, long time, but the desire of your heart does not come to pass. It hurts, a deep hurt.

Ask anyone who’s struggled with depression, or abuse, or addiction, or sleeplessness, or chronic pain, or grief, or…

So we know what causes hopelessness, lack of hope. You try and try and try and nothing changes. Maybe you’ve asked for help, sought relief, gone to doctors or therapists, and nothing’s worked. Maybe you just wallow in it. Maybe you’re somewhere in between.

Whatever the case, here you find yourself: hopeless.

Is there anything you can do?

Romans 5:3-5 says, “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

I sometimes share this verse with clients who are really struggling–not at the beginning! I just listen and really hear their heart and their struggle. When they’ve felt heard and understood, and want to explore how to move out of hopelessness, I share this verse.

At first glance, it seems totally stupid. We rejoice in our sufferings? What in the world? Who rejoices when they suffer? Hallelujah, I’ve got cancer. That’s ridiculous.

We have to keep reading. We rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance. At least that doesn’t sound sadistic. It’s still not great, but I can understand that perseverance is a good thing.

Keep going. “Suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance, character. I understand that I need better character. Mine really stinks sometimes. I want great character, and I’m starting to understand that it comes from perseverance. And perseverance comes from suffering.

On to the hope. “We rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope.” There it is. Finally. I thought I’d never see it again. I thought I’d never feel it again.

After the suffering, I learn that I can survive. I learn that I can get through it. I learn I’m stronger than I thought. Maybe I just realize that everyone suffers and I can relate to others who have suffered.

I begin to understand that I made it. I persevered. I did it.

My character begins to change. I’m not so short-tempered. I am more honest. I am more sensitive to others. I’m not so judgmental. I’m becoming a better person.

And finally, I hope.

I begin to see the patterns in life. It goes along well for a season, but there will always be difficult seasons to work through. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.

Please don’t give up hope. That’s where the life is! If you can’t find your way back, please seek help.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

Episode 001: Broken & Brilliant

Broken and Brilliant, Podcast, Episode 001Episode 001: Broken and Brilliant. Join Carrie O’Toole and Melinda Cadwallader as they introduce the new Broken and Brilliant Podcast, share about Carrie O’Toole Ministries, and tell their stories of moving from Broken to Brilliant. The first of a new podcast series.

Colorado Life Coach: God Sent Me To Hooters

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My son told a funny story that prompted this blog.

He was driving home from school last year and the roads were super icy. He started to spin and just held on until he stopped…in the parking lot of a Hooters restaurant!

We joked about how God must have wanted him to go to Hooters cause that’s where his car stopped.

Don’t we all have this kind of thinking sometimes? We don’t really want to take responsibility for our desires, our lack of motivation, our refusal to take action or grow up, our decision to remain in unhealthy relationships or jobs or behaviors, so we blame God.

We may not blame him directly. Rarely do we actually hear someone say, “God sent me to Hooters!”

But our actions speak loudly.

  • The man or woman who won’t get a job or go back to school to improve themselves says, “Well, I guess God doesn’t want me to work.”
  • The mom who’s son is struggling and angry at God says, “God must be putting us through this trial” instead of listening to the heart of her son.
  • The young woman who is lonely and would like to be in a relationship, but won’t go out and meet any young men believes, “I’ll wait for God to bring someone to me.”
  • The husband who won’t acknowledge his character defects and blames everyone around him for his misery, starts to believe God must want him to leave his wife and children and move on to someone who will “make him happy.”
  • The young woman who’s scared to death of commitment, so she blames the relationship problems on her boyfriend. She wonders why God doesn’t ever come through for her.

We live in a culture that blames. We’re all victims. It’s never our fault. We don’t know how to apologize or take responsibility.

It’s hard work. And we want fast and easy.

Why do we do it?

If we put the issue on God’s shoulders, we don’t have to do anything differently. We sound holy. Who can argue with us? If it’s God’s doing, then I don’t have any control.

Have you seen the hilarious video featuring Bob Newhart as a therapist? A woman comes into his office because she’s afraid of being buried alive in a box. His advice? “STOP IT!”

That’s not usually how I treat my Life Coaching clients, but once in awhile I get so frustrated at someone’s absolute refusal to look at themselves and take responsibility, I want to scream, “STOP IT!”

Here’s the deal: If it’s God’s fault, you can’t change it. If it’s your responsibility, you can.

We can complain all we want about our circumstances, but until we decide to change, we won’t.

God loves us absolutely. He sent Jesus to die for us, that’s how much he loves us. He’ll do anything for us, and he has! But he won’t take away our freedom. He won’t push himself on us. He won’t make us:

  • Go to Hooters
  • Make a better living
  • Put us through trials without a way out
  • Cause a young man to ring your doorbell and say “Here I am!” (well, usually he doesn’t, but he could)
  • Tell a man or woman to leave their family so they can be happy (unless there is abuse, etc, but that’s not the case here)
  • Stop you from blaming others, even though it makes you feel far away from him

That’s not God. He’s not a controlling bully, like some of us (I get it, I’ve done it, and sometimes still do).

Go ahead and eat at Hooters, just take responsibility and say you wanted to do it!

Keep your financial situation the same, just don’t complain about it.

Stay single, and acknowledge you’re not willing to do what it would take to find a suitable partner.

Stay distant from your kids, but admit you don’t want to put in the time it would take to change it.

Do whatever you want, just please take responsibility for it.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.


Colorado Life Coach: Philip Seymour Hoffman and the rest of us

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It’s been around forever, but now we’re talking about it.

Philip Seymour Hoffman died on Super Bowl Sunday with a syringe of heroin still in his arm. Do you think this is how he planned his life? Is this the way any of us plan our lives?

I used to think addicts were the scary looking guys shooting up behind the dumpsters. And they were.

But it’s much more than that.

~It’s the young girl who cuts because she can’t bear her life, and at least she can control the pain when it’s self-inflicted.

~It’s the woman who eats because it brings comfort, or because it hides her from people who might abuse her sexually, like they did in the past.

~It’s the CEO who works 24/7 and can’t seem to relate to his family.

~It’s the person (not only men) who looks at porn, because it shoots great hormones through their brain and kills the pain. It’s easier than dealing with real people and their flaws.

~It’s the mom who takes her kid’s ADD medication so she can focus and feel like super mom.

It’s everywhere!

People are dying everywhere!

Some of these addictions can kill quickly, like after trying a drug the first time.

Others kill slowly:

*Porn kills when the addict can’t get the high with just movies anymore. Now they meet people in chat rooms and start acting out with dangerous behavior.

*Food doesn’t kill overnight. For anorexics or bulimics, it can take years, but if untreated, it kills. For over eaters, it could take decades, but make no mistake, it will kill: Heart disease, diabetes, organ failure, etc. Our bodies are made to run on healthy fuel and lots of oxygen. When this doesn’t happen, life is cut short.

*Alcohol is needed in larger and larger quantities to continue to numb the pain. Sometimes people die from alcohol poisoning, or car accidents, or drowning, or…

So what’s the point?

Let’s deal with it! There is another way!

You don’t have to stay trapped!

My favorite bible passage is Isaiah 61:1-4 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”

This is the big plan–God can and will set you free if you let him.

Here are the picky little details–He needs you to ask for help and then do the work.

He won’t force you, so you have to ask. Tell him you’re dying and you know it. Tell him you’re willing to do anything to change how you’re living. Tell him you believe he can and will heal you, if you’ll slow down long enough to let him.

Now get some help!

Google AA, SA, NA, Al-Anon, Over Eater’s Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery. Get a sponsor-they’re free! Now work the program. You can’t just go to meetings and think you’ll find a new way to live. You have to do the personal work, and it’s hard.

Find a counselor or Life Coach who understands addiction and work through the emotional issues that caused you to hurt in the first place. You can’t take away the medication without healing the pain, if you want to stay clean.

Check yourself into rehab and stay until they say you’re ready to transition back into life. If you leave early, you will not recover.

I know you’re hurting. The thing is, the longer you do things to keep from feeling, the more things you’ll have to work through.

How about you just start now.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.


Colorado Life Coach: You’d have to be crazy to think that!

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I disagree with lots of stuff people post.


I really respect most of the people posting. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and speak about something passionately. I don’t care what the issue is, I am starting to see that the perspective of the person writing must be taken into account. They truly believe what they are writing, and there are reasons they believe it.

I’m not sure what to do about the great divides in our country today (or on Facebook).

I’ve lived enough to know that sometimes even when I was so sure I was right on an issue, maybe I was only half right, or maybe I didn’t have all the facts, or maybe I was just plain wrong.

I don’t post much political stuff because I know I’ll offend about half the people who might run across what I write. I’m not worried about offending, but when people write you off simply because of your beliefs, sometimes the relationship dies too. Now you can’t even have a discussion.

I feel very strongly about many issues. I am friends with many people who feel the exact opposite about these issues. I’ve learned to stay quiet online. When I have spoken up, I got blasted as ignorant or intolerant.

Sometimes it seems unfair. I feel those who have opposing views truly believe my way of thinking to be backwards, immature, or invalid. They never ask why I believe what I do, or what evidence I have to back my beliefs. I am just shut down.

I’m not a screamer. Oh, I’ve got it in me alright, but I’ve learned that people don’t listen when you use force.

So, many times I see posts I’d like to comment on, but choose not to. I watch. I read. I think. I talk to friends one-on-one, but I don’t comment.

I want social media to stay social. I’ve reconnected with lots of old high school friends (many of whom I totally disagree with politically), and it’s been amazing. I really enjoy people. I don’t want to open Facebook and be bombarded with posts that totally offend me. But that typically happens when election time rolls around. All of a sudden, posts turn hateful, demeaning, degrading, and offensive.

I’d love to have some conversations.

“Why is it you believe what you do?”

“Do you want to know why I believe what I do?”

“Can we respect each other in the process?”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter, but only if you’ve read this post, can stay calm and state your position without calling anyone else names, and are willing to read a few thoughts from someone who may think differently than you.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.


Colorado Life Coach: God will hit you with a frying pan

frying pan

“If you don’t do what God wants, He’ll hit you over the head with a 2X4 to get your attention.”

“God used that “frying pan” logic to get hold of me.”

“God might strike you down with a lightning bolt!”

Have you head any of these common threats, I mean quotes?

I have.

And they’ve scared me to death. What kind of God do you worship anyway? I don’t have a degree in theology (although I’ve thought of earning one). I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about the bible. It’s hard to understand sometimes! Even the simple things can be difficult.

I remember leaving a bible study and telling a friend I was absolutely terrified of making a move–any move. I had been hurt enough in life, I didn’t want to get pummeled by God, too. I was so concerned about angering God that I would rather just not think about him than risk doing something to make him mad. If I just stayed quiet, maybe he’d be OK with me and leave me alone.

It’s so sad when I think about it. I was hurting. And I was scared of God, the only being in the Universe capable of healing me!

It happens so often! I see this all the time. People are hurt by life, or by other people. Then well-meaning (sometimes) Christians come along and spout off some cliche or scripture they memorized for a sticker 20 years ago (sometimes they don’t know if it’s a cliche or a scripture-have you ever heard that God will never give you more than you can handle?). Sometimes the scripture is totally valid, but their timing stinks! Take Romans 8:28 for instance: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” It’s all true! But think how it may sound to the mom who just lost her unborn baby, or the family that just lost their job for the 3rd time this year, or the alcoholic who’s wife just left him because he can’t stop drinking. It will all work out for the best because you love God.

It’s true, but really…can you wait until they aren’t quite so raw emotionally to quote this?

Someone gets into trouble and is really hurting. Is this the best time to tell them God is trying to get their attention? I went through a period where I didn’t sleep for 5 months, at all. I asked people to pray for me. Several people told me that if I’d listen to God during the day, He wouldn’t have to keep me up at night. How do they know I wasn’t listening to him during the day? Do they know their words actually added to my pain and suffering?


We had to relinquish our adopted son to another family due to extreme Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Our family was falling apart and my health was failing. Another family came alongside us and we watched our son transition into their family. It wasn’t what we wanted. It was horribly painful, but it happened. Was it helpful when a friend told me that “God would NEVER tell me to give up my son!”? Not really. I lost a friend as well as my son that day.

Can we just stop pretending we know it all? Can we meet people in their pain, instead of screaming at them to stop their behavior? Can we understand that it must have taken a whole lot of craziness in that person’s life to cause them to seek numbness the way they do? Can we stop thinking we’re perfect and it’s everyone else who is “the least of these?”

Yes, God sometimes uses hard times to draw us close to him, because he loves us and we need him.

Does he cause the hard times? Maybe. Maybe it’s just part of living in a broken world with broken people who do dumb or hateful things. Either way, God absolutely can, and does use these times in our lives to hold us close and speak gently into our hearts. We get to choose to listen or spit in his face. I’ve done both.

He’s never hit me with a 2X4, a frying pan, or struck me with lightning. Thank you God, that you understand how difficult this world is, and you choose to meet the hurting with outstretched arms, and a huge chest to lay against!

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.


Contact Carrie O’Toole to schedule a confidential telephone call or appointment for coaching.