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Finding himself, with a little help from his 'life coach'

Chris Erskine: 'Culturally, I'm adrift, almost promiscuous. I openly enjoy Nickelback, for example'

Alexander the Great's "life coach" was Aristotle. Mine is a chatty blond who used to work in entertainment. Same thing.

For our first session, she comes into the dark restaurant like we all do, adjusting from the outdoors to the indoors, blinking to keep her pupils from exploding, finally making out the faint man-child in the corner booth — me.

I smile. She smiles. The grumpy L.A. waiter arrives. We order. Game on.

"Lots of people come to life coaches after they've been in therapy," she explains. "Who doesn't need a little work?"

When friends and co-workers heard I was seeing a life coach, some were stunned, for they never realized how messed up I am. I make plans, then don't follow them. I hate white wine. Culturally, I'm adrift, almost promiscuous. I openly enjoy Nickelback, for example, and once caught myself humming along to a Taylor Swift song. Like Taylor, I write in my room (in pajamas, surrounded by gigantic pillows).

And lately, I've been having tiny existential moments. Nothing serious, mostly a post-holiday funk. The other night, I was emceeing another too-long banquet, and I looked out into the tired eyes of 200 guests all wishing they were home watching "Scandal."

"Me too!" I wanted to scream. "I wish I were home watching 'Scandal' too!"

And I don't even like "Scandal."

So here I am seeing a life coach, the one my buddy Green recommended, after he confessed to needing a little guidance with his life. Green has a great career, two houses, two lovely daughters, a wife.I think he hit the jackpot. So, if Green needs a little help, I need a little help.

Have you heard of life coaches? Their tactics are varied, but generally, they take a more practical approach to traditional therapy, with an emphasis on career and performance.

First, you have to get outside yourself and the "monkey chatter" of your mind, life coach Kathy Dailey tells me, citing all the wasteful things we often fret over.

"Some people become paralyzed with what others are thinking," she says. "But the odds are that they're not thinking about you at all ... they're thinking about their own stuff."

How is this different from therapy? My life coach explains that she treats the heart, not the mind. Dailey also insists that she feels unconditional love for me, no matter what I reveal in our introductory session. She's not here to treat me, Dailey says, just help me find the tools to treat myself.

"It's all about energy and communication," she says of solving my midwinter doldrums.

"You also have to allow yourself time to not do," she says, "so you can have the energy to do what you have to do.

"Learn how to sit ... just do nothing," she says.

I used to be the master of the idle moment, though lately I've been bustling about, setting rodent traps in the attic, prepping for baseball tryouts, organizing the dork-wads I play touch football with — don't underestimate the turmoil of that.

Hence, I've had little free time. So what Coach Dailey says about timeouts rings very true.

"I help a client reshape the way they think," she explains. "I tell people, 'Don't tell me what you're thinking. Tell me what you're feeling.'"

She says that she's big on people taking back control of their lives and that if I decide to hire her as my life coach, I'll have to commit to a minimum of three months of weekly sessions, though she prefers six months.

"You need a little work," she says with a smile.

Thing is, when it comes to life coaches, Dailey may not be enough. Bring back Lombardi, or bring in Belichick, even that nut case Pete Carroll, who's sort of an idol of mine. I've always had a special place in my heart for nut cases.

"Every time I hear that phrase, I laugh," one friend said of "life coach."

"Go see your pastor," suggested another.

Look, I think we all need good advice now and then, professional and otherwise; there is still no substitute for a beer, a bar stool and a good pal who listens.

In that sense, my buddy Stephen — a little older, way wiser — could qualify as a life coach. When I told him about this session with Dailey, he cited an ancient Roman proverb, roughly reading: "Serve the wine and lay out the dice. To hell with the one who cares about tomorrow. Death, plucking at the ear, says, 'Live it up; I'm coming.'"

"That's my life coach talking," he says.

Stephen signs off with: "Make sure that, at the moment you shuffle off this mortal coil, your list of regrets is as short as you could possibly have made it."

Now there's a plan.


Twitter: @erskinetimes

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