Create Your Best Year Ever | Dancing Hearts Cognitive Dog Training

A Simple Formula to Create A Life You Really Love (without making any icky resolutions)

December 29, 2017


Ever heard that voice inside that tells you you’re not living the life you really want, or having the success you work so hard for?

Yes? We all do! It’s a natural part of being human … to want to be better … to want to have more.

Well: whatever you do, don’t get sucked into the media hyped, failure-ensuring, confidence-robbing bandwagon of making a New Year Resolution!

What to do instead? I have a Formula for you. It works, it’s simple, and it’s a great way to get in touch with what really matters to you:

It all starts when you Follow Your Heart…

Alchemy Formula graphic


My Creative Alchemy Formula

[Dream + Plan + Action + Belief + Connection]

= OMG!! I’m Happy!



The truth is that without taking ACTION, your dreams and goals are just wishes, hopes and ‘pies in the sky’ that never happen for you …Yet:

It is incredibly hard to stay motivated unless you follow this simple formula that puts your dreams on ‘autopilot’.

1The first part of the formula is a “must do” if you are to have any chance of reaching your dreams and goals… and without it you are destined to fail:

It’s all about Following Your Heart … and it starts with getting in touch authentic, heart-felt dreams to be who you are truly meant to be…

Your best year ever starts with DREAMING BIG … getting in touch with what is really important to you, not just what you think you should set as goals…

You need to know WHY you want this and how getting this will make you feel … it’s not really about the goal … it’s about how you want to feel when you get there…

Your true and deep emotions are the most meaningful roadmap to live from your heart … this authentic YOU, and your real feelings are the strongest, most inspiring motivators possible,

When you follow Your Heart’s True Desires … staying motivated is sooooo easy!

2The next Tip is to do just enough PLANNING so that you know what to do next!

When you are an intentional creator of your life, you’ll naturally want to ask yourself “how might I get from here to there?”
And then…


3You take a tiny, baby step today and every day that builds momentum and keeps you moving consistently toward your dreams … taking consistent ACTION is key to living the life you love.
My favorite mantra is:

“Dream Big. Start Small. Keep Going.”


4The next step is so vital … you must:


That means you need to retrain your brain and recondition your mind to join up with your heart, working in harmony to make your dreams come to life…

We are hard wired to follow patterns and habits…that’s our comfort zone, so unless you:

create NEW habits and patterns that are aligned with your new vision of your life, nothing will change…
It’s easy, once you know how! And that’s what the last tip is about:

5When you STAY CONNECTED to your DREAMS, and to the way you truly want to experience your life …
Magic begins to happen, and your dreams come to life!

A dream or a vision is a curious thing. It starts out so foggy, not real. Then day dreaming sets in…you know: imagining the “what if”. Imagination is a powerful tool for creation. Unbelievably powerful.

Our conscious mind is limited to what it already knows to be true.

Our imagination, on the other hand…wow! There is NO LIMIT. Anything is possible. And that’s where it all starts: playing in the canvas we call imagination. If we spend enough time in the vision phase, the fog begins to lift, and details become more and more clear. In the world of our imagination, we can conjure up so much detail that it feels real.

That’s the process successful athletes use before their competitions. The brain doesn’t recognize the difference between ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ experiences. That means that if we can visualize our ‘perfect run’ with so much detail and depth that we feel the success, we have rehearsed that winning run (or anything else) and our body/mind now has an experience it knows to be true and can effectively execute. Wow, right?

Don’t get me wrong…you still have to do the work. Plan, prepare, train, condition, rehearse. All of it. But…even the best prepared don’t often win. They say that 95% of the winning is achieved by 5% of those attempting. I believe that those top 5% are most likely to use elements that others do not: visioning, a positive attitude, commitment to their dream, and the belief that it’s possible! They can see, feel, smell and taste it. They Believe it.

My favorite Creative Alchemy story.

This story starts quite a ways back. 2007 to be precise.

My wonderful dog Russell had already transformed my life. And young Phoenix brought me challenges that made me a better person. I was dreaming about merging these two amazing dogs, drawn to create a new generation formed from their great genetics. It would be my first border collie breeding. Exciting and a little scary.

I was torn between now or later, thinking of traveling to the spring trials with a litter, and knowing the time was getting close to separate them if I chose not to go ahead with the breeding. I had included this litter in my dream plan for the year, but wasn’t certain of the timing. As it turned out, “now” was the perfect time and in April a beautiful litter was born. OMG!!!

Phoenix was a perfect mom in all ways. And I was in love with each of the 4 puppies that blessed our life.

Luc, at one day old, wormed his way over to my hand, and declared my heart his. I was in love. He was the chosen one.

As the time grew closer to sending the puppies to their new homes, I realized that I could not part with Sue, and she became a permanent part of our family too.

But today’s story is about Luc.

Kathy Kawalec's Luc at 5 weeks.The seed of a dream was planted on that first day Luc squirmed over to my hand. Could he be the one that would follow in his sire’s great footsteps? Would he be the one that I could create an amazing working partnership with? Is is possible that he would make it to the National Finals one day?

He did indeed make it to the National Finals, in 2009, Klamath Falls, Oregon. He and Sue ran in the Nursery Finals, as their dad, Russell, competed in his last Open Finals, at 12.5 years old. It was the most amazing experience. A dream come true. I could barely believe it, and I think I had to pinch myself several times! OMG!!

Then we got to work getting Luc the necessary experience and training to be competitive in the Open. He has matured more and more each year, we worked through a few struggles and communication gaps, and we have become beautiful partners.

In 2013, I had some big dreams and goals.

Luc shows great style and athleticismOne of my goals was to have a really good run with Luc at Meeker. And we did!!  He was awesome, and handler error kept us from advancing into the finals by 4 points. Even with that, Dream realized, goal achieved. Wow and OMG!!

Another goal, and it was a B-I-G goal, one that I knew would stretch us in many ways, was to make it into the final round at the USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals in Virginia.

The first part was to get there, and we need to earn enough qualifying points during the season. That is a dream and a goal all by itself, and quite challenging cause I don’t get to many trials. I am so happy to say that we had a good trial season, and qualified to compete alongside 150 amazing teams at the Finals. That was another dream come true! OMG!!

The next part of my dream was going to be the hardest thing ever. We had to lay down an amazing run in the preliminaries, and another even better run in the more difficult semi-final round. I think I can summarize our semi-final run by relaying this message that I heard at least a dozen times from established masters that day: “you and Luc had an amazing run, it was nearly perfect and so beautiful to watch. I can’t even imagine how the judges found any points to take off your run, it was that good.”

Kathy Kawalec and her dog Luc wait for their run at the finals.It FELT incredible. It was simply amazing to experience that with my good dog Luc. We made it into the Final round. OMG!!

We drew up first on Sunday. Wow. That was not what I was envisioning. I had hoped to watch a couple of runs. We stood near the gate to the field in the rain as the day dawned dark and dreary, waiting to be called in to the post.

Finally, the sheep were brought out to their spot by the setout crew: a man, his horse and his dog. They were barely visible in the dark and rain. I sent Luc to the right and he cast out perfectly, and disappeared behind the hill on his way to gather the first set of sheep.

After a few minutes, the sheep began to move, then lift down the field, and finally I could see Luc expertly guiding his 10 sheep down the fetch line. He was confident and willing to take my whistles as he brought them through the fetch gates.

Now for the hard part, he had to leave this first set of sheep and turn back for another set that he couldn’t see. Deep breath. I told him to “Loooook”, and he smartly turned back for the second set of sheep hiding in the dark and rain.

Then, just a quickly, he turned right back onto the first set that instantly began running toward the exhaust pen as soon as they felt released. Luc worked hard and persistently all week to ensure the determined sheep did not do such a thing. He was not about to let it happen now!

Another deep breath. And several more, as Luc and I communicated about what needed to happen next. I didn’t want my dream to end here.  Finally, finally, he committed to going out to look for another set of sheep. When he cast out, the crowd cheered and I did a happy dance. OMG!!

My awesome partner brought the second set down, regathered the first set and drove his 20 charges around the course like an expert. The sheep came into the shedding ring with Luc at the rear. I flanked him around to the pressure, and stopped him there. Our eyes met in that moment, as I told him silently how much I loved him and how proud of him I was. It was the most exhilarating experience. OMG!!

Kathy Kawalec and Luc shed at the Finals

I began my work of sorting off 15 uncollared ewes, calmly and quietly. Satisfied. We timed out working the shed, and we both left the field with our feet barely touching the ground. Cloud 9. That’s where we hung out for quite some time. As a matter of fact, just recounting this story puts me right back on that cloud. OMG!!

I could go on and on (believe me!) with all the amazing things that happened…but let me finish with just one more: there is a ‘dream’ card in my Alchemy Box for ‘better partnership’ with my dogs this year, every year.

I Dream of being the best possible partner, teacher, student with and for my dogs. And getting better and better every year.

My “New Year” dreams will include some pretty amazing goals for all of us, I have no doubt.

Would you love me to help you create YOUR best year ever?

For the last 16 years, I’ve been leading my Creative Alchemy “Create Your Best Year Ever” class…sharing the things I’ve learned over the years for creating the life I love. There is a simple formula, but it’s not always easy to execute. Life happens, if you know what I mean.

That’s where the class comes in…we form a great community of folks who love dogs, animals, nature. And who want to make a better life for themselves, and for their dogs and their families. They want to be happy, they have dreams ready to come alive…just like you and me. It’s an awesome group every year, and many have joined our group every year since the beginning!

The class happens online, so you can attend from anywhere…in your jammies!


I’ve put together a great program that will support you ALL YEAR, with a really, really special price as my ‘Thank You’ to our community. I want to make it easy for everyone to come. Click here to get the details.

So…here’s the thing. I believe in you. I believe that you CAN unleash your dreams … that you can have your best year ever…just like the hundreds of women who have joined us over the years.

Let’s do this, together!

Happy dreaming!

P.S. Play the Unleash Your Dreams Game: Comment below and share:

What is Your Top “Dream” for 2019?


Tags: , ,
Related Posts

40 Responses to A Simple Formula to Create A Life You Really Love (without making any icky resolutions)

  1. Randy Pavlik says:

    I have had only one brief class on herding with Cathy. I could tell she has a great understanding and feel for dogs and their innate abilities.
    I was moved by reading your account of the trial you and your dog went through. We all should treasure our moments of mutual understanding and cooperation with our dogs. I like how Cathy comments frequently about how much she learns from her dogs. I love my animals and I hope we all can have connecting experiences with our dogs as often as possible — it is part of what makes life great.

  2. Dolores Matel says:

    2013 was the first time I took the creative alchemy webinar class/program.
    What a year it has turned out to be. 2014 your best year ever-Yes it is!!!!
    As I review all the goals I set for my self I see so many have been achieved.
    Kathy has a compassionate loving way to communicate with the world.
    I have since signed up and participated in at least 4 of her cognitive dog training webinar courses which have helped me and my dog to achieve a brilliant cooperative partnership that was a mere thought last January . my guy was only weeks old at the time.
    Not only did it help me and my dogs partnership it also helped me in all relationships of my life.
    My life purpose, career and many financial goals have been brought into balance which was my main focus to live my life with vibrant Joy!!!
    I’ve had more celebrations than I can count due to the full year of couching by this dedicate, compassionate loving gal.
    I owe so much thanks to her for helping me to set myself up for success.
    Who would have known I would have achieved so much. Its because of Kathy’s dedication and belief in all of those in her programs, the rich community support which exists on the Private Social media communities.
    How her message transforms being of all species and helps them to balance relationships of all kinds to live in harmony with each other.
    Because her vision years also to set out ripples of compassion and love to heal all those who were willing to dream and take action, that it is all coming to be.
    I’m so thankful she sent me the message last year and invited me to share what I had gratitude for, that started me on the journey towards balance and has helped me to live with vibrant Joy!
    HUGS Kathy from a very thankful “student”

    • Kathy Kawalec says:

      Wow Dee! Big congratulations on the awesome year you’ve created! Well done!

      And, I am humbled and honored for your kind words…thank you for being a creative alchemist!! xo

  3. An says:

    Kathy, thanks again both for your wisdom for “living life,” as well as your inspiring stories about your dogs! During these busy days of preparing for holidays, it’s all too easy to overlook the huge gift that comes every day with my 11-years-young border collie mix, and our little terrier. I feel that you are reminding us to engage in a kind of mindfulness practice with our animal companions, which has positive effects both in our relationships with them as well as in the rest of our lives. Keep it coming…. 🙂

  4. Kathy Santo says:

    2018 is the year to grow my business in an even better way, and to get a new puppy and be back in the competition ring for the first time after an 18 year “raising the family” break. So. Excited!!

  5. Devorah Sperber says:

    My top dream for 2018 is to find balance between making art (my profession) and enriching my dogs’ lives which also enriches my life x100. My life has been in major transition for the past 4 years and I stopped making art. My dogs helped me get through some very tough times. Its time to bring art back into the mix and to start creating the next chapter. Scary but also kind of exhilarating.

  6. Sally Krostal says:

    My goal for 2018 is to grow my wings. This has a couple of different meanings for me. I have been tethered by finances and responsibilities for far too long and need to be able to get up and go when needed. I have been unburdening myself of unnecessary responsibilities for the last couple of years and my goal for 2018 is to find more financial freedom as well. Another purpose for my wings is to rise above the drama that has a tendency to want to pull me down. My addiction for wanting to save the world gets me into some bubbling quicksand at times that requires wings to keep me above the petty disputes. My new puppy’s registered name is going to be Growing Wings as a reminder as I jump back into the dog show ring to rise above! And I will call him Apo’ni which means butterfly, to remind me of my metamorphosis and what got me to where I am now.

    • Dolores "Dee" Matel says:

      I see your wings sally and I’m reminded of your beautiful girl that passed and if I remember correctly there was a butterfly image connected with her also. I’m so thankful to continue this journey with you in the CAPP community. You inspire me and I have a very special place in my heart for butterflies also. Fly sister fly

  7. Kara says:

    My top dream for 2018 is to become a promising partner with my dog. I want nothing more than for us to continue to build on our already blossoming foundation so that we can deepen our relationship. I am so grateful to you Kathy for how much you have changed our lives in the 2 short months that I have been a part of your program. I feel like we already have a deeper understanding of one another and I can’t wait to see how much we grow. Many thanks.

  8. Sara Reiter says:

    My top dream for 2018 is to compete successfully in herding and other trials – not from the point of view of winning, but rather from the point of view of expanding our skills and relationship.

  9. Dolores "Dee" Matel says:

    My top dream for 2018 is to continue to connect heart to heart in partnership with my dogs. My number 1 priority is to deepen my partnership with my spouse and I believe this is all intertwined together. This is my 6th CAPP and I see benefits and results each and every year! The support from the community and Kathy’s mentoring help me to believe and see the path of baby steps to setting and achieving my goals. The WHY is to create great partnership in all my relationships to FEEL the loving cooperative balance. Thank you Kathy for continuing to send out ripples and to guide us all towards better lives!

  10. Donna Waugh says:

    My Top Dream for 2018 is continued positive improvement in my relationships with each of my dogs. I have been down so low as to consider rehoming my dogs in the recent past because I feel like I have let us all down. Last year my Top Dream was to be able to love my dogs again for what they bring into my life…not for the performance goals I had hoped for. Well…I believe we accomplished my dream in 2017. Now, in 2018, I want to build on it with zero performance pressure…just living and loving together day by day.

  11. Tracy Jackson says:

    My top dream for 2018 is to get a handle on my anxiety and build confidence so that we can do all the things and go all the places I’ve always dreamed.

  12. Anna ROY says:

    My dream is to be able to read a book on the couch with my 3 berger picards happily present in the same room. Easy goes after her mother Cookie and often bullies her daughter Iota, so I keep her separated, or crated or on a leash… I dream of her accepting them

  13. Ruelle Cecile says:

    My top dream for 2018 is to find a place to live that allows our dog-family to find its nest, to keep developing deep connections with each of its members (our little Bliss – still to be born – should stay with us), and my professional activity to blossom.
    Thank you Kathy for helping me in this, your support is welcome 😉

  14. Sonja Klattenberg says:

    2018 looks like it’s going to be an amazing year for me. I have some really exciting travel plans and need to make sure my body is as fit and healthy as it can be. I just adopted a new dog and am looking forward to creating a deep relationship with her.

  15. Corine Jongeneel says:

    My top dream for 2018 is that we keep building on our relationship so there’s gonna be trust between us. That the trust will bring down the stresslevel and anxiety and the reactivity towards other dogs. I would love not to panic at the sight of another dog, but stay calm in knowing that we’re gonna do fine together.
    That’s my topgoal and what I vision in my dreams.

  16. Cathy says:

    Not sure how to express my overall goal for 2018, but I want to find peace and personal fulfillment within a situation over which I have very little control. When I was teaching, I knew who I was and lived a fulfilling life. In my first years of retirement, I continued on a similar path, having found fulfillment in other ways, mostly activities with my dogs. But in recent years the centerpiece of my life has been the care of my mother who has both physical limitations and dementia. I have lost myself and peace is fleeting at best. My dogs are my salvation daily, but I do not give them all they deserve. I long to find a path forward that allows me to reconnect with my dogs and find some personal peace while knowing my mother’s care will still fall primarily to me.

    • Debbie Lustig says:

      Hi Cathy
      My mother is also failing. It’s a difficult time in our lives, especially with her pain so unmanageable.
      I hope you find strength in this group. It’s very supportive in regards to dog issues.
      What you said resonated with me.
      Best wishes.

    • Mary Smirnova says:

      I also can empathise – I was the main carer for my mother who has advanced dementia and mobility problems.

  17. Lynn Parker says:

    My top dream is to develop/create a stronger bond with my dogs, especially my border collie, Cowboy. I want to be more intentional about my daily living so that our training time is more structured. I recently went on disability and am trying to bring more order to my days. It’s tough and sometimes I am an all or nothing person. So, along the way to my top dream, I need to accept my physical limitations and take care of myself instead of either pushing myself or just giving up. Not sure if that makes sense to anyone, sorry! I took this course a couple of years ago, but I think I am in a much better place in my life to benefit more this time around.

  18. Sarah says:

    My dream for 2018 is building my relationship with my dogs as well as finding what their passions are and excelling together!

  19. Nancy Wrobel says:

    My dream for 2018 is to become the positive leader Reno needs and to model that successful behavior for all members of my family.

  20. Debbie Lustig says:

    My dream is to have dreams! When people list what they dream about, I nod my head and think: what the heck? How do they know that?
    My only ‘sort of’ dream is for the endangered bird I work on not to go extinct. But that’s really not in my power. I have given it everything I’ve got.
    Similarly, I’ve given my dog every kind of help I know and it hasn’t worked. Now, with this program, I hope I will become a better human for her, understanding her better, being a better partner. Somehow, crossing the line across our species and really talking together!

  21. Caroline Szymeczek says:

    My top dream is to continue my work in figuring out how to raise the most confident happy dogs possible.

  22. Heather H says:

    I have some concrete goals for 2018- therapy and complex therapy dog certifications, continue canicross hiking longer distances in preparation for a backcountry colorado camping trip and continue to nurture and be grateful for my relationships with my dogs.
    I also want to continue working on leash reactivity in certain situations.

  23. Kimberly Howatt says:

    my goal for 2018 is to figure out what’s next. My job took a very sudden turn to completely unpredictable and unexpected. I feel as if I am being phased out, but I am not sure. It’s all cloak and dagger right now… so I need to think about whether I push on and stand up to the new ownership, or do I find a new passion? I have always loved my job and enjoyed going to work every day… it’s amazing how a matter of 1 month can change all of that. It’s not dog related, but yet it’s all related.

  24. Wendy Newton says:

    My goal for 2018 is to have harmonious dogs and to play freestyle disc with Switch

  25. Mary Smirnova says:

    My top dream for 2018 is to take my relationship with and understanding of my dogs Casper and Flicka to a higher level especially with my young border collie Flicka who has challenged me more than I thought possible for a pup to do in the year we have been together!

  26. Ana Ford says:

    To communicate very well!!

  27. Deb Bauer says:

    My top dream for 2018? I want to break through the level I’ve been living beneath for awhile now and realize my full potential. Not something average, but my full potential in my path to my dreams. A potential that will change the world in ways I can only begin to imagine right now! So excited!

  28. Cindy Mendonca says:

    My dream is to build my relationship with my dogs, especially the youngest one. We do have a good relationship, but I have let other parts of my life get in the way of their time.

  29. Jo says:

    My top dream for 2018 is to have a calm household that asks me if they need to be alert to things – toppest would be outdoors as well but baby steps!!

  30. Alex Kowalski says:

    My top dream is to get a better communication/understanding with my dog Lady and really meld together as partners. I want her to turn to me when she is stressed and to know deep in her heart that I am there for her and will take care of any situation causing her anxiety. Also, for myself, I would like to work on really noticing and enjoying the small pleasures in life just as she does.

  31. michelle says:

    My dream for 2018 is to better my relationship with all of my dogs and to give them the confidence to be comfortable around other people and other dogs.

  32. Neza says:

    Plain and simple…my biggest goal is to stop being afraid to fall and take a step to finally start my own company.

  33. Glenda Russell says:

    My dream for 2018 is improve my dog training skills so I can be the best for my dogs and also help others. I would also love to finish my Rally titles and qualify for NADD nationals. Thanks for the wonderful story of Luc, I had goose bumps!

  34. Sharon Dungey says:

    I dont quite know where 2018 will lead me but I do know it will be great – so exciting


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply to Glenda Russell Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *