Meet the Pros: Paula S. Forté

By: Lilly Zaborowski
Paula Forte

Get to know our local health and wellness professionals in the Twin Cities. We asked local coach Paula S. Forté to share a little about her business and what she loves about working and living in the Twin Cities.

Tell us about your business. What do you do?

What I do is Integrative Health & Wellness Coaching which occurs within the context of a client-directed conversation. The coach creates a safe space for the client’s journey, remains constantly self-aware and listens deeply with compassion and a non-judgmental spirit.

The coach partners with the client on the journey toward health with an attentive presence that supports and encourages the client toward the positive changes the client selects for their life.

It is “integrative” because I integrate a holistic approach to health and utilize the various disciplines in which I am professionally trained, nursing, education and coaching. My clients are frequently caregivers, either professionals such as nurses and physicians or family caregivers devoted to looking after the needs of a family member.

This work can be overwhelming (just look at our frontline care-staff during this COVID-19 pandemic, they’re exhausted!) and often as caregivers we’re slow to address our own needs for self-care and well-being. That’s where seeing a coach can be beneficial.

What drew you to this work?

As a nurse for 45 years, and a family caregiver as well for at least 10 years now, I know first-hand the kind of exhaustion that can set in when one is devoted to the work of caring.

Caregivers are at risk for neglecting their own health needs for putting off preventive care and dismissing troublesome symptoms that show up in their own lives. For some (evidence supports this for Alzheimer’s caregivers), 1 in 5 caregivers will die before the patient, just because of the stress they’re under.

I had to learn what self-care was, how to incorporate it into MY life and in taking that path, I’ve realized that I want to help others move from overwhelmed to overjoyed in their own caregiving journey. It is possible!

What do you love about your job?

Watching people change, especially people who did not think they could. I love helping them identify choices they didn’t realize they had; to find room in their busy and over-burdened lives for self-care and self-nuturing.

This often involves silencing the inner-critic, that part of ourselves that nags at us, even when we’ve given our best effort. Helping clients make friends with their inner critic is, for me, a real joy.

Watching clients come to the realization that they are ENOUGH, the do enough, have enough skill and compassion and use enough wisdom in their work of caring for others, that brings me great satisfaction.

What results can people see when they work with you? What’s possible?

Clients tell me they gain a sense of choice and self-directedness in their life. They see choices that were not apparent to them and while that may force them to make change in their lives, those changes are possible because they are internally driven. My clients also tell me that they actively manage their stress better than they ever have before — self-care becomes valuable, because THEY are worth the effort and the investment!

What do you wish more people understood about what you do?

That there’s no magic pill or potion that can make your life change — life can be hard and, if caregiving is your life’s work, it is by definition often all consuming!

So, what has to change is YOU — coaching doesn’t change you, but a reputable, reliable coach can see you through that journey of change. Being coached, especially when it is a matter of your HEALTH, can be life-changing. That’s because you’re able to align your actions (choices) with your values and that, in and of itself, reduces stress because you’re finally aligned, balanced, being your best self, in every role you take on, even the role of caregiver.

What’s fascinating you right now?

I’m looking at how care (being cared-for, by others) lands. We caregivers act out of our best intentions but, sometimes there is conflict created by time constraints, rules, regulations, case over-load, shortages or even crabby customers or co-workers. As a result, sometimes our best efforts do not land well.

I want to study that in greater depth because when care does not land well, everyone suffers (caregiver & care recipient alike). Discovering what makes care land well — as we would intend it to — this will enable a smoother, more powerful and effective interaction between both the caregiver and the care-recipient as well as all the other family members involved. That’s the focus of my next book.

What does self care look like to you right now?

For me, self-care has evolved from merely, 1. valuing myself enough to acknowledge my own depression and be treated for that; 2. changing what I eat so that I could reach a healthier weight; and 3. managing my own caregiver stress, to something much more joyful. Those early self-care steps were about COPING, now my self-care is about bringing joy into every day!

My daily ritual includes a gratitude practice, an hour of meditation using brainwave technology, to strengthen executive function (making decisions) and calm stress and impulse reactors, as well as whole-body movement (including yoga) that keeps me grounded and centered in my life and my work. Self-care is NOT self-indulgence and that’s a whole other discussion!

What do you love about living and working in the Twin Cities?

This is a place of possibilities. The only limitations we face here are the limits of our own imagination — what we THINK is what holds us back, not the environment, the economics or the ecosystem of the Twin Cities — that’s all alive and well, and as we’ve seen this summer, changing for the better, even if that’s required some turmoil. This is an exciting place to work and to live.

Favorite local restaurants?

COVID has kept me very local lately — that means restaurants with out-door eating have become my favorites, and those in the Western burbs. Two I’ll gladly name are Birch’s on the Lake, a supper-club in Long Lake, MN and right here, in Eden Prairie, I enjoy Peoples Organic — both offer a great, healthy menu and excellent service.

Other favorite local businesses in the Twin Cities?

I try to support local businesses whenever I can. I’ve had some work done in my house this summer and appreciated the craftsmanship and efficiency of Minnesota RUSCO.

I’ve enjoyed the artistry of Danielle Clifford, owner of Clifford Paints Design Studio, having featured her talent in some calligraphy gifts this year; and I can’t neglect my FAVORITE yoga studio, Green Lotus Yoga and Healing Center, here in Eden Prairie, where you can find me at least twice a week!

What’s your favorite social media platform, and where can people connect with you on social media?

I’m a Boomer, so not the most social-media-savvy person on the planet! Mostly you can find me on Facebook where I have a personal page and a page for my business, Co-Create 4 Life, where I blog and interact with my friends & clients.

How can people work with you?

That’s easy, I can work in-person and virtually. Right now, I am coaching mostly on the phone. I offer a 20-30 minute introductory session for free. This allows potential clients to see what health coaching feels like, read my coaching agreement, and determine if this is a service which can address their current needs.

I offer single sessions as well as packages (6 or more sessions) that can save clients money and help them commit to the kind of time investment that is often needed when making real, lasting, life-changes. Get started by contacting me here.

Lilly Zaborowski is the founder of Well Connected Twin Cities.  She’s a holistic wellness enthusiast and believes that everyone deserves to feel good in their body + mind.

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