She’s appeared on CNN, Tyra Banks, Real Housewives of Orange County, MSNBC and Celebrity Fit Club. She’s remarkably telegenic, clever, compassionate, articulate and engaging – even in front of the most discerning camera. But valley based psychotherapist and lifestyle coach Stacy Kaiser isn’t your garden variety media star. She cut her teeth working for fifteen years with battered women, teen parents, abused children and families in crisis at Friends of the Family in Van Nuys, Southern California’s premier family resource center.
And last month the single mother of two released her first book for HarperCollins, a no nonsense primer that guides you (without judgment) to becoming a happier, more fulfilled and well-rounded adult. She coined the term “fully loaded grown up” and says she works toward that goal herself each and every day. “When I’m eighty years old, playing shuffleboard somewhere,” she maintains, “I want to be able to look back and say my life turned out pretty much the way I wanted it to. I was responsible and helped people and took good care of my family and had a fulfilling career, but I also had a great time enjoying all the benefits and fun times this world has to offer.”
Her no muss, no fuss approach to self-improvement is personal and refreshing. Devoid of psychobabble, Kaiser is more prone to write about her young daughter’s penchant for ruby red slippers (“they made her feel great”) than she is to analyze the masses. The intimate touches throughout the book bring comfort and credibility – and with two decades of psychotherapy practice to her credit, her conversational demeanor allows the reader to believe the life shifts she preaches are plausible and within legitimate reach. For example, she offers those seeking healthier love relationships the “4 C’s” of quality relationships: “Consider your partners feelings, thoughts and desires. Compromise as often as you can. Comfort your partner when he or she is in pain, even if it’s something you did. Compliment daily. It lifts people up, puts a smile on their faces, counteracts insecurities and it simply feels good.”
Just days before the Friends of the Family annual fund-raiser in Beverly Hills – a blockbuster event she first shepherded over ten years ago – Kaiser took the time to talk about her book with My Daily Find.
(Kaiser will be making an appearance at the Encino Barnes & Noble on Wednesday June 2 at 7:30).
MDF: What inspired you to write the book?
SK: After 20 years of private practice I noticed themes in what people struggle with and want to grow towards. With the economy as it’s been, insurance companies not paying for counseling and people not having time to go to regular counseling, I thought a book that provided good insight along with tricks, tools and tips could help anyone who wants to improve their life do so. I love watching people who want to better their lives take action and do it. This book is designed for the person that sees areas in their life that aren’t quite right or are really awful and wants them improved. I love watching people benefit from doing that.
MDF: What is a “fully loaded” grown up?
SK: A fully loaded grown up is one who knows how to get down to business and when to lighten up; can bounce back from life’s little spills while not blaming someone else for the mess; and most important, comes equipped with the ability to accelerate through any roadblock to success and happiness.
MDF: Is it essential to deploy all ten skills to become a full loaded grown-up, or is it a process of embracing them over time?
SK: It’s ideal to deploy all ten skills but most of us already have some skills or a complete set in one, two or a few areas already. That said, growth is a process. I always say “progress, not perfection.” A fully loaded grown up works toward improvement and progress in these ten areas.
MDF: Why are these skills considered “secret” – is it like a recipe, where we know the ingredients exist but until they are used in concert, you don’t have the right concoction?
SK: They’re secret because most of us don’t even realize what an important role they play in our lives. That said, once people see the topics (fiscal, physical, career, relationships), they aren’t unfamiliar – it’s just that we need the skills to know the specific ways to utilize them so we can maximize our own success.
MDF: What “secret skill” do you believe is the most challenging to deploy?
SK: Flexibility is the most challenging area to improve. It requires a great deal of flexibility to adapt, change and grow – which is why so many of us stay stuck in the ruts and problems that we have had for so long. It is in our nature to be people who like sameness and familiarity. That’s part of what keeps us inflexible; the desire to keep things as they are or as they have always been.
MDF: Are any of the “secret skills’ challenging to you personally?
SK: The appearance skill is most challenging for me. Having been overweight when I was young created a lot of baggage and bad habits that I still manage on a daily basis. Also living is Los Angeles with all of these health and image conscious people can make anyone think about their body.
MDF: Have you been utilizing these skills in your own practice and media work?
SK: I use them every day. I even hear myself thinking sometimes: how would a fully loaded grown-up do this?
MDF: You’re a single mom with a big career – how did you find time to write the book?
SK: Usually very late at night or very early in the morning when my kids and the rest of the world are sleeping.
MDF: Who will benefit most from reading the book?
SK: Anyone who looks at their life and sees areas where they need improvement. My reader is also growth oriented. The book helps you make the right choices for you so you can maximize your potential and increase your success. My advice is different from other books because I introduce a new term called “positive action”- it helps the reader learn that there is always a positive action you can take and a choice you can make to fix any dilemma. You’re never ever stuck, even if it feels like it.
MDF: If your book becomes a best-seller and we have a nation of fully loaded grown ups wandering and intersecting, what changes could we expect to see in the way we function and interact as a society?
SK: People will lead lives that have a better balance of fun and responsibility. Taking time to face their challenges and struggles head on while also making time for laughter and relaxation. They will have better relationships, be stronger communicators, have improved coping skills, they will know who they are, how they function and what the want, there will be less stress and more success and will ultimately have a greater quality of life. If the world was filled with fully loaded grown ups we would all be taking charge of managing and improving our lives, leaving us with an improved community of people working their best and most successful capacity – leaving all of us more fulfilled.
Learn more about Stacy Kaiser by visiting her website, stacykaiser.com
Meet her at Barnes and Noble on Wednesday June 2 at 7:30 PM 16461 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA 91436, 818-380-1636
Judith A. Proffer is Vice-Chair of entertainment/media company Meteor 17, where she oversees creative development for film, television & literary projects and charitable initiatives. Co-founder and former Executive Editor of Sun Community Newspapers, she was publisher of LA Weekly and OC Weekly and is currently writing “How to Love Your Dog: A Timeless Compendium of Information and Inspiration” for her Huqua Press.