Annie Zirkel

FREE Virtual Event:

The Four

Tues, 4/20/21 • 6-8pm ET

  1. Be impeccable with your word. 
  2. Don’t take anything personally. 
  3. Don’t make assumptions. 
  4. Always do your best. And more…

These agreements can change your life.
Now - how to practice them?

Come to learn, laugh and like yourself more! 
Hope to see you there!


Let's face it 2020 was a rough year but if you are reading this, then you survived! The flip of the calendar to 2021 is an opportunity to reset, renew and reimagine the trajectory of your life.

Goals could be:

  • Health-wise: I want to eat better, exercise regularly or lose those pandemic isolation pounds.
  • Relational (to yourself or another): I want to stop being so hard on myself; be a better parent; connect to love;
  • Work-wise: I want to pursue my passion and change careers
  • A Bucket List Wish: I want to learn to play the drums; Travel Europe; Fix up my garden.

  • But how? Reaching your goals is part art, part science, part skill, and part determination. And they need to work together to rise above the resistance that gets in the way. Then playing to your strengths and strengthening the weak links in the plan. And then taking a step. Like joining this free workshop.

    Join Positivity Consultant Annie Zirkel for this FREE workshop full of insights, practical tips and real tools to go beyond wishing life were different to making it happen.

Hope to see you there ~ Aloha, Annie

The short game of parenting is providing necessities such as food, clothing and shelter; and keeping your child physically, mentally and emotionally safe.

The Parenting Long Game unfolds over time. It involves passing on values and heritage; and teaching life and relationship skills, good habits, and the rules of the road. It is not based on a specific moment or event but rather an accumulation of many, many moments. This is good news because it means that having a bad interaction, day or even area that you never get right doesn't mean that overall, you (and your child) don't win.

The key to winning the Parenting Long Game is embedding as many of your longer-term parenting goals into the minutes and moments of the day. The challenge is that there are SO many moments to get through. So much to keep track of. And sometimes all you want is for them be in bed!

So how to get there? First, know what your Parenting Long Game goals are by reflecting on this question: When my child is all grown up and living their own life, what traits, values, skills and habits do I want him or her to have? Here are some common answers:

  • Resilience
  • Honesty
  • Kindness
  • Assertiveness
  • A good sense of humor
  • Love of learning
  • Love of the outdoors
  • Love of music or sports
  • Good time management skills
  • Good study or sleep habits
  • Strong work ethic
  • Ability to fix things that break
  • Good baking skills
  • Responsible with money
  • Self-confidence, self-esteem
  • Willingness to take risks
  • Respect for others (especially their parents 🙂 )

Now here some ways to embed these Long Game goals into any moment.

  1. Know and Model the value, skill or rule you want them to practice. Do as I do!
  2. Explain why the value, skill or behavior is good for your child (in the long term.)
  3. Acknowledge the challenge with practicing any value, skill or rule in the moment. (For you and your child 🙂 )
  4. Notice ANY seed or part of the bigger goal that IS showing up.
  5. Teach the rest by helping them practice and using reasonable consequences.

Don't forget to use consequences as a teaching tool not a punishment. And have reasonable expectations of how much and how quickly success will come.

Do this as often enough (while not trying to make EVERY moment a big deal) and you should be good.

P.S. If you start to feel discouraged, sing this song. And/or contact this Annie today for support.

Today's thoughts:

When you see me with an open heart you see reasons for why I am where I am. When your heart is closed you see only excuses. ~ AZ

It is a huge gift to give someone empathy. Empathy for their situation. Empathy for the real details of their story. Empathy for human imperfection. Empathy with sadness and overwhelm. Empathy with a life stacked with many challenges. Empathy for wanting life to be easier without so much effort!

This may seem like I am saying that empathy is THE answer. But there are edges to empathizing with another (or yourself.) Giving only empathy can reinforce a helpless, victim self-narrative that keeps a person stuck. Inviting people to be accountable to the actions and choices they've made that are part of their story is also important. Not empathy OR accountability but empathy AND accountability. Accountability to honesty. Accountability to their strengths; not just their weaknesses. Accountability to their values. Accountability to what they bring to their interactions. Accountability to their physical and mental health and their goals. 

When you engage with both genuine empathy AND an invitation to accountability - following up with the question 'What now?' (or 'What happens next?') can open a world of possibilities!

My Aunt Gloria left this world the other day. 84 years young and full of life right up until the end despite hauling around an oxygen tank.

Though I knew her most of my life, I don't recall any real conversations with her as a young girl visiting my cousins in their Queens Village.

In fact, I think the first time my aunt came to life for me was at the memorial gathering for my own mother when I was almost 50! We found ourselves sitting on a couch together and ended up having a really interesting conversation about how she quit smoking and drinking years back. It turned out that she was one of those rare people who could make up her mind to stop doing something and then just stop doing that thing. Like flipping a light switch from on to off, she quit smoking and drinking with little backslide or drama.

After the service I remember thinking that besides the opportunity to reconnect with my wonderful cousins who were rallying to take care of the details of my mom's wake, that fifteen minute conversation was one of the great gifts that came from that sad occasion. All because of her mantra.

Of the over 300 mantras in my Pocketful of Mantras book, only a handful are credited directly to the person who said them first or made them famous. Mostly these attributions were for authors or famous scribes like the Dalai Lama. But #91 came straight from my wise Aunt Gloria.

It was not a hearts and flowers saying. Not a mantra for the squeamish. But it is, in my opinion, one of the greatest wisdoms to keep up front and present every day so as to live our best lives. For some its truth is too 'in your face", too distressing. But for me, it was so powerful that I felt compelled to give her credit in the book.

I remember exactly how she offered it to me. I asked her how she was able to so instantly, so easily, choose a new course—like quitting a two-pack a day smoking habit cold turkey—or even just deciding to say 'yes' to lugging her, now ever-present, oxygen tank out for ice cream with her grandkids. Shrugging her shoulders and tilting her head slightly, she leaned over and in her beautiful, raspy, matter-of-fact, New York drawl said, "Well I'm gonna be a long time dead."


I flew in for my Aunt Gloria's funeral. It felt important for this family love to come back around to my dear cousins and return the hugs they gave me when my own mom died. But I guess I also wanted to honor a woman whose brilliant, hard-earned, heart-filled life left an unexpected and beautiful mark on my own by being witness to when her mantra, sadly came true.

She will be missed but not forgotten. Rest In Peace Aunt Gloria

Past is yet to be determined

The past is yet to be determined.

It was a comment made by one of my professors in grad school during a discussion on how to help clients get unstuck from their past stories.

It was the kind of line that didn’t make sense to me at the time, so I tucked it away in my unconscious puzzling it out until it finally made sense. Eventually I got it big time. Both professionally and personally.

It is not a literal comment. Events and facts about the past are still facts. You have an older sister. Your father was abusive. You were married and then divorced. You have two children. You were fired from your job last month. Etc. But what those facts mean to you, how these facts effect you, is determined not by the past but by where you are in the present.

Suppose you got fired from your job last week. You are devastated, blind-sided, feel hopeless and afraid and spend the week half stunned, half depressed. At some point you get back out there and stay at the job game long enough to land a new job. A year later you are telling your friends how much you love your current job and that same firing is the luckiest break you ever got.

Of course it can go the other way too. A month after moving to a big city you are having a fabulous time enjoying the sights and sounds and bragging about the fact that you made the move. 3 years later, cramped in a small apartment because that’s all you can afford, you are cursing yourself for that impulsive decision.

I’ve seen this kind of remorse, regret or even resentment spin on the past at the break up of a long term relationship. The points of the past that get elevated are the ones that correspond to current feelings. He was always a selfish person. She was never please-able. Did we ever love each other?

When the past has a negative spin, when it diminishes joy or success or positive regard, it can be wise to be particularly wary. It helps to remember that this spin is much more of a statement on how you are feeling right now than what really happened back then.

Getting to the root of why you are spinning your story a certain way can serve you. What need are you seeking to fulfill? Are you looking for support? Empathy? Validation of the struggles you’ve had to endure? Permission to feel helpless or hopeless or angry?

There is nothing wrong with these reasons. But be careful of the price you may pay to contort the past this way: Being depressed... Holding on to anger... Living life as a victim...

Throwing yesterday completely under the bus may serve your mood now but at the cost of dismissing the benefits of that same past. Can you find balance with those negative highlights? Can you find gratitude for your past or shift your story to notice how far you’ve come? Can you work to acknowledge the strengths you now possess exactly because of those past challenges you’ve had?

I invite you to be determined to determine your past in such a way that you feel stronger, lighter and more at peace. Find the value in those past facts and I guarantee it will serve you right now. Today. In the present. (And because of that, your past and your present will surely determine a nicer future as well!)


(I have three awesome sons but I've always wanted a daughter, too. If I had had one, here's what I would say to her now.)

Dear daughter,

WOW - have you grown up. It's like I can't even remember when you were a little girl. Now you are sorting out the world of school, friends, boys, sex, career plans, and eventually marriage? Motherhood?

It's a confusing time with lots of pressure and messages about what you should be doing. And I know I've given you plenty of advice already but I hope you are open to a little more. There are some tough challenges you are facing and I - well - as your mother, am worried for you. ...continue reading

Telling_A_SecretWhat is the secret to a good life? I have been actively pondering this question since I was asked to answer it during my recent adventure to become Good Morning America's first Advice Guru. (I made it to the top 20 and this was my last challenge: answer this question on video in 20 seconds or less. Which may be why I didn't make it past this round. Has anyone ever known me to only talk for 20 seconds?)

My brain raced with thousands of thoughts! I sought the wise words of spiritual leaders, popular writers, poets, musicians, bumper stickers, and the wisdom of family, facebook friends, fans, my gratitude group, my teenagers and my clients. On the suggestion of one friend, I even googled it!

I scribbled notes, typed and reworked nearly 50 answers and recorded a half a dozen less than brilliant clips. When I finally had my first major insight - ...continue reading

Massage TherapyStress is like the flu. It can get passed on just by coming into contact with someone who has it! And holidays - with all their high expectations, sense of obligations, crowd navigations, and family connections - set up the perfect conditions for catching and passing on this bug.

But even if you yourself are good at keeping stress at bay (or just don't need anyone else's), there are likely all kinds of people in your life that are coughing and sneezing and groaning about their aches and pains. So if you want to help a person who's laid up with a bad case of stress, here are 3 steps to consider:

Step 1. Practice Prevention. Stay healthy with your own stress. Don't get too close to others who are infected and definitely don't use their condition as an excuse to add your own stress to a potential epidemic. And don't forget to practice good handwashing throughout the day to keep from spreading stress to others. ...continue reading

So what do you think?Dog Training vs Couple Training

Dog training or Couple's training, which one do people like better?


Now, I'm not saying that this is a scientific study or anything, but from what I'm seeing dogs win. Hands down.

A brief explanation: I offer a half day couple's training that can be registered for on-line through Ann Arbor Rec and Ed. Because of how the alphabet works, before they started adding winter classes, Dog Training came right before my Fight Right, Love Better class. Checking in to see how registration was going, I found that the last Dog Training class filled fast and you'd better hurry up for the January session. My class however is not even getting a bite. ...continue reading