Thursday, February 28, 2013


This piece below is dated November 9, 2009,  just 10 days after my mom's death.  I knew in the wake of her death that my time here on earth would end one day too so what do I want my legacy to be?  It continues to speak to me and reminds me that the human experience is the great leveler - we all find our selves in the cage of our own making, we find our selves in circumstances that absolutely suck AND we find a way to channel our inner hero and LIVE! in spite of it all.  I am in awe of my hero's walk and the walk of all the heroes sharing this earthly journey with me.

Note to Self:  LIVE Your Life!

Life is a walk of freedom!  We must honor our Self in all our choices no matter what others might think or how they might react.  It is my hope that we may all be inspired to live our life fully – on our terms- and bestow our precious gifts on this world as long as this life lasts.  True courage is allowing our Self to be guided by our internal compass, our essence instead of being part of the cattle being herded along under the cultural spell that dictates truth and beauty from a warped filter.  Living from this place that is untouched by the outside world, we show others the way home to their truest Self.

The courageous must endure ridicule, betrayal and obstacles as we walk our path.  Each test screams, “How much do you want to live the life you came here to live?  How much do you want to be true to you?”  We must stand in whatever comes, trusting life (our Self); and understanding that the only true betrayal is the betrayal of the Self.  Choice by choice, day by day, moment by moment, we make our way not looking to be perfect or right – we are far too wise for this nonsense that drains us of life!  We simply seek the adventure that is life so we are present to all that comes in the seemingly ordinary moments. 

Live!  Live imperfectly.  Live crazily.  Live happily.  Live gratefully.  Live mishappily.  Live joyously.  Live passionately.  Live authentically.  Live!  Just live your life and don’t look back.  Don’t stop to explain or justify or apologize.  Forgive yourself!  Be willing to give all you came here to give so you can share the PASSION within.  Be kind to yourself and everyone.  Stop spinning shoulda’, coulda’, woulda’, which keeps us stuck in the past as life is too precious – we are too precious for this.  Just be who you are.  Know that you are enough as you are!  You are.  Let life unfold you!  YES!  This is living…

WRITE A NOTE TO YOUR SELF...let it rip! xo

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Being SILLY just for the FUN of it...

What if you're always young enough to be SILLY and PLAY?
(Bring on the FUN.)

I came into this world a little more serious than most.  By the time I turned 40, I was like, "It's about freakin' time...I have felt 40 since I was 10."  But as fate would have it, I have surrounded myself with people who remind me to keep my heart light through play, doing things to be silly just for the fun of it.

My late-husband, John, from the first time I went to the store with him would run as fast as he could and jump on the back of the grocery cart riding it to his truck.  He would transform into a little boy before my eyes and everyone witnessing him would smile with delight as he took them in to his experience.  He explained that he did this as a little boy and never stopped because it's fun.

I love that thought:  Just because it's fun!

Last Easter, my sister and her husband hosted our family.  They always pull out all the stops to make sure we are entertained and having a good time.  They decided to do a hula hoop contest to see who the last one standing would be.  So the "kids", my nieces and nephews ranging from ages 7 to 32 along with a few of us adults participated.  I was wearing cork wedges and a skirt but decided to give it a whirl anyway.  I had not hula hooped since my childhood but it was like riding a bike, my body found the rhythm and kept it spinning for 15 minutes or more.  Hands in the air, hips swinging from side to side, smiling from ear to ear, to my surprise, I was having fun. 

This simple pleasure of hula hooping, this way of inviting fun into my life is now something I do almost every single day just because it's fun.  I turn on Salt n' Peppa or 80's hip hop/rap and get my groove on which feeds me in a way that nothing else can. 

It is easy to forget that life is fun, that we are always young enough to be silly and play.  I invite you to find a way to remember that it is fun to be you, to feel the juiciness of life through play just for the hell of it.  Bring on the fun!

What is YOUR shopping cart?  What is your hula hoop?  Return to the play of life through discovering what reminds you that life is fun.  It is!  The fountain of youth is comes from LOVING YOUR LIFE...woohoo!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Crossing FINISH LINES throughout life...

Welcome the FINISH LINES and the START LINES in life!

Perfect timing, getting just what I need when I need continues to leave me in awe.  I am in a huge life transition making choices that are changing the whole of my life.  And what do I find but a piece I wrote 8 years ago reminding me that it really aint over till it's over.  Sure hope it inspires you as much as it did me!

When our time here ends, unfinished business can’t be finished. Our focus shouldn’t be merely on the finish line no matter how exquisite we envision it; our focus should be on the business we tend to in between the start and the finish so we can delight in crossing the actual finish line. 

“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” – Emily Dickinson

After crossing the finish line of the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, a dear friend shared that it was how he envisioned entering Heaven.  The sky would be perfection.  Every color in the rainbow would paint the landscape.  People of every shape and size; people of every race and gender and creed would be running to the gates smiling as crowds cheered and music played in the background.  There would be people to greet us and welcome us to our new home and congratulate us on a life well-lived.   

In life as well as in races, there will always be finish lines to cross.  Some will appear more grandiose than others but it all matters in the end.  We join groups and they serve their purpose and we move on.  We raise children and they make their lives.  We enjoy friendships and then, we lose contact.  We live in a town and then move away.  We buy a house and make it a home.  We live in a home and then sell it.  We face illnesses and we recover.  We take a job and then we switch jobs.  We spend time with loved ones and we bury loved ones.  We are nurtured by our parents and then we care for them.  We go to school and then we graduate.  We take on projects and we complete them.  We immerse ourselves in a hobby and then we find other interests.  We live and we die.

It is not a race to the finish line.  It is an amazing race until we cross over.  Life isn’t to be figured out and predictable.  When we let go of our need to figure it out, we can settle into a pace that allows us to be amazed.  Every thing we experience, everyone we encounter, every moment, every breath is truly an amazing gift.  This is our one shot at it and there is no turning back to do what we might have done and be who we might have been.

A friend cynically commented that we are all just passing through in response to a discussion regarding the state of the economy and the world.  If he truly felt this way, that saddens me for him but I let him know that I wasn’t just passing through.  Just passing through is just too passive for me.  I intend do whatever I can for others and enjoy all that makes up my journey here on earth.  I intend to leave this world better than it found me.  I intend to leave nothing unfinished.  My husband, John smiled as he threw his arm around me and patted my leg.

John and I have had similar discussions over our years together.  I believed his embrace was one of support and maybe a little pride that I am now able to express my opinion without waging war on those in disagreement.  Several years ago, Eric Clapton wrote a song entitled, “Change the world.”  John kept saying that there was this great song that reminded him of me.  Finally, he bought the CD and played it for me.  The lyrics weren’t traditionally romantic.  They were a soulful message of hope, love and possibilities.  He said that I was the only person he knew who still believed I could change the world.  Tearfully, I thanked him for such a tribute. 

Why would we ever choose to believe that life is anything but magnificent?  Why would we ever choose to believe that we are just passing through?  Life doesn’t wait for us to muster up the courage to live.  Unfinished business can’t be finished. Our focus shouldn’t be merely on the finish line no matter how exquisite we envision it; our focus should be on the business we tend to in between the start and the finish so we can delight in crossing the finish line. 

Meditation:  Are you just passing through or do you appreciate the magnificence of each breath, each moment, each day on this journey?  Do you have unfinished business to tend to?

Action:  Make a list of all the unfinished business in your life (this should be business that enriches your life and the world around you)?  Do one thing today from your list!  Keep the momentum going and challenge yourself to cross the finish line with no unfinished business.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Happy Day to YOU!

I recently received a letter regarding the piece I wrote over 7 years ago "Today I am 37".  The person was turning 67 and shared that she had never experienced anything like this but decided this was the only birthday gift she wanted:  a day to unfold moment by moment and to be present to it all with a sense of wonder, joy and awe.

May you know the beauty of this day whatever it brings.  
Unexpected joys lie in any moment we are present. 
HAPPY DAY to you...HAPPY LIFE to you!

Today I am 37

“She was learning to love moments. To love moments for themselves.” —Gwendolyn Brooks

Today I am 37 years old. This is the first birthday that I can remember having to actually think about my age. Most of my life, I anxiously anticipated being older so much that I would start to say I was the age I was going to be on my next birthday. I am not the same person I was this time last year, and I don’t anticipate being the same person next year that I am now. I live my life at a different pace with various textures that continue to shape me into something new, something more.

Living more in the past and in the future than in the present over the last 13 years, I had to leave behind this way of life that had left me rushing to get to the future or incessantly visiting the past in an attempt to figure it out or fix it. It was difficult to leave the chaos behind. The past was familiar, and I took pride in how well I thought I had overcome it. People thought that I had it all together, but if they could have entered my mind for 5 minutes, they would have been exhausted and possibly disturbed by the endless chatter of doubt, worry, and more worry.

Here I am, no longer young but far from old. It is dawn, and I am basking in the glorious sunrise. The day is breaking, and the sky is a work of art reminding me that this is a new day. The sky has never been exactly as it is in this moment, and neither have I. As I watch the autumn sky over the tree line, I am energized. The white clouds are layered with purple and gray, accenting the brilliant rays of light boldly shining through. Perfection. The rays burn brighter as they break through the clouds. We are like this when we refuse to let the dark times overshadow our light. It may appear to be easier to hide behind the clouds, but it is necessary and natural to let our light shine.

Pausing to observe the day breaking is a gift for me. My heart slows, and a sense of peace washes through my body. I gratefully accept the gift of this moment and whatever the moments of this day bring. Life is as wondrous as the sunrise. This makes me smile and silently say, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, God!”

The garbage men are busy, but even the sounds of breaking bottles and smashing trash can’t take away my peace. These sounds are merely background noise in my life, like the clock ticking, the birds singing, the house creaking. Peace cannot be altered from external factors; it can only be altered within us. This is a grand way to be in the world!

There is no to-do list playing through my head taking me out of this moment. There is no overscheduled day to rush me out the door. There is no phone ringing to pull me away. There is no “You’ve Got Mail” popping up on my computer to fill me with a sense of obligation. There is only this moment. In this moment, I get to be.

The challenge for me and all of us is to maintain this sense of peace that can only be found within ourselves while “doing” what we do throughout our days. Do we bark at the first person who calls us for disturbing our peace? Do we resent the person who cuts us off and carry that anger with us throughout the day? Do we shove down our feelings instead of expressing ourselves? We can’t hide from the world, but we can choose how we live in it. Choose to return to peace no matter what life presents. There is an endless supply within each of us. Happy Birthday to me and Happy Day to you!

Meditation: Do you ever allow yourself a day that unfolds moment by moment? What would that feel like? Are you consumed with thoughts and tasks from the time you wake up until you go to bed? What does that feel like?

Action: Carve out a day for yourself (I highly recommend your birthday!) and let it unfold moment by moment. Turn off the ringer on your phone. Don’t get on the computer. Just be with yourself and the day.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Some Days ya gotta DANCE...C'mon!

Some days ya gotta dance...C'mon and loosen up those chains and DANCE!

Honky Tonkin' in Nashville, I am inspired by the cloggers, the line dancers, the boot stompers, the booty poppers, the chair dancers, the head bobbers, the lip bitin' twisters with hands clappin' in the air.  I just have to join in on all the fun and dance my dance.

What a perfect metaphor for life!  However you dance, whatever way you choose to shake things up or sit still, just make sure you do what ya gotta do.   

I love the expression:  Dance as if no one is watching!  Worrying what others think of us or being afraid to look silly or foolish inhibits our ability to express our self and ENJOY the dance of life, to appreciate our own special way of moving through this world.

Friends who tragically lost their 15 year old son last July sent me a picture card with the saying:  Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.  Even in the midst of their heartbreak, in their own personal storm, they are open and willing to learn to dance in the rain instead of waiting, delaying life.  They know that life is now and some day may never come.  And one day will be the last day of this dance. 

In the words of the late Donna Summers, the queen of Disco:  C'mon baby!  Dance that dance...

Don't wait!    

Thursday, February 21, 2013


SMILE and You will meet friends wherever you go...
SMILE and the world SMILES back at you.
SMILE...It's free!
SMILE and everyone will think you are up to something.
SMILE as an act of kindness.
SMILE and pass on a little sunshine.

I smile.  It truly comes naturally to me and I find myself smiling for no reason at all as I walk through my day.  When I am out and about, I like to make eye contact and smile at those who pass my way so we can connect.  I am always amused by how many people will be confused by my smiling at them, looking perplexed and asking, "Do I know you?"  When I tell them that I don't know them and explain that I was just smiling at them, they thank me and we both end up smiling (and chuckling too).  HOW FUN!

When I used to lead workshops and spoke about the power of a smile and eye contact to connect us, people would share amazing stories about shifts in the attitudes of co-workers from smiling more.  One woman told that she had smiled at a co-worker as she walked through his department every morning as she entered the facility.  He never once smiled back at her.  This irritated her over time that he never reciprocated so she decided not to smile at him, ignoring him as she walked by.  Within an hour, he came to her department and approached her asking why she didn't smile at him.  He confided that her smile always brightened his day.  They made a pact to smile at each other every morning no matter what.

The Dalai Lama told a story when I went to see him at IU Auditorium.  There was a missionary that came to visit the village where he was living.  The people were Buddhists and she was Christian.  She said to him, "I love you people but you have no religion."  In response to her comment, he smiled.  He shared, "I smiled at her.  That is compassion."  He knew that she believed what she believed and could honor that not trying to convince or argue or tell her how stupid and ignorant she was being.  He simply smiled.  His smile brought healing into the moment as he says kindness is his religion.

PROJECT:  Smile!  I invite you to observe the kindess effect, the power of your smile.  Experiment with this for a day, a week, a month and see how it makes you feel to connect through this joyful exchange.  And as my mom always said, "'s free!"  It won't cost you a thing but it can pay huge dividends to you and those new friends you meet wherever you go.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Signs! Signs! Everywhere are Signs...

Signs hang all over my home because WORDS are POWERFUL!
WORDS affirm us.  WORDS give us hope.  WORDS awaken us to truths.

My home is often described as whimsical which represents me:  quirky, imaginative, creative, original and highly unusual.  Signs hang all over my walls because I was born with an insatiable love affair with words.  Even the original art I am drawn to includes words woven in the canvass - legible and illegible.  My white basement walls are filled from ceiling to floor with inspired ideas and thoughts I felt compelled to write with a black pastel.  They feed me as much as a ray of sunshine.  And I need them the way I need air in order to breathe.

Here are some of the SIGNS:
  • HUMANITY:  If you planted hope today in any hopeless heart, if someone's burden was lighter because you did your part, if you caused a laugh that chased a tear away, if tonight your name is mentioned when someone kneels to pray, then your day was well spent.
  • I shall pass this way but once.  Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now for I shall not pass this way again. - William Penn
  • Kindness Matters.
  • Leap Fearlessly.
  • Company and fish smell after three days. - Thomas Jefferson
  • Just Be.
  • Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see. - Helen Keller
  • All I know of love is love is all there is - Emily Dickinson
  • Enter with a Happy Heart
  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. - Emerson
  • There will never be another day just like this one...There will never be another human being just like you.
  • Count Your Blessings!
  • It's not a dress rehearsal:  Live the Life You've Imagined. - Thoreau
  • We don't remember days, we remember moments...
  • Be bold in the dreams you dream for your life!
  • Be gentle with yourself... 
  • I exist as I am.  That is enough. - Whitman
  • Your love is the miracle!
  • Be still.  I want to know God's thoughts, the rest are details. - Einstein
  • Every ending is a new beginning...
  • Live the Passion.
  • Let Your Life Speak.
  • All You Need Is Love.
  • Nourish Your Soul.
  • It's All Good.
  • Miracles Happen.
  • Expect Miracles.
  • LIVE A GOOD LIFE...And in the end, it's no the years in a life, it's the life in the years. - Abraham Lincoln
  • Never Give Up!  The challenges of today teach us the lessons by which we live tomorrow...
Believe it or not, there are several more I could share but enough for now.  Pay attention to the signs, the words that speak to you that resonate with the depths of you.  Reflect on them and allow them to awaken dreams, potential and more life than you have ever known before.

P.S.  If you have ever longed to write on a wall, I HIGHLY recommend it.  It is so freeing...ENJOY!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Your SH%# Matters...

(We forget.  We remember.  We forget.  We remember.)
I believe we all want the same things in life:  to know we matter, to love and be loved, to connect honestly to our Self and others.

When I set out on one of the greatest odysseys of my life:  writing my book Passing On Hope, my confidence was ROCKED.  I believe it was an act of grace that I had no friggin' idea the extremes I would endure from the first time I put pen to paper to 2 1/2 years later when I would hold my book in my hands.  I had to lose myself to find myself.  And, boy oh boy!  being lost sucked.  There were lows where I felt like my existence in the world had no impact and it wouldn't matter if I dropped off the face of the earth.

One afternoon, I went in to my late-husband's office in tears.  He was on the computer and when he looked up to see me upset, he immediately asked, "What's the matter, Gee?" and reached out to hold me.  He was just what I needed as I descended into a full on meltdown.  In my crying voice, I tried to explain all that was bubbling up:  missing my old life where I knew what the fu#% I was doing, wondering what the fu#% I was thinking when I decided to write this stupid fu#%ing book and ultimately, feeling like my shit doesn't fu#%ing matter.

In a husband-of-the-millennium moment, he assured me:  Gee, your shit matters!  Saying this over and over and over again until I believed him, until I remembered.  He didn't try to stop the explosiveness that needed to come out and he didn't jump on the crazy train with me.  He simply reminded me that I mattered, that my life was meaningful.

Later that day, renewed and full of hope, I went back into my office to write.  John had left me a gift, scrolling across my laptop screen in bright bold red letters:  Gee, Your Shit Matters...I love you, John xoxo.  Those words are forever written in my heart.

To be human is to be insecure.  All of us have moments where we question the value of our own life and forget the magnificence we are.  What a wonderful act of love and service we give each other in reminding each other that we matter.  We all matter.  We just do!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Music: Whatever ROCKS you, ROLL with it!

Our LOVE of music is as personal as our LOVE of an individual...Whatever ROCKS YOU, roll with it!
The love of music can be equally as stirring as our love of an individual.  Both feed us in unexplainable ways.  SOUL stuff!

My lifelong friend, Alison introduced me to all the classic Rock n' Roll bands as well as the 80's rockers who made the cut on her short-list.  She would crank up the stereo in her 1972 Toyota Corolla and sing every single word on pitch at the top of her lungs as we headed down the road raising a little hell. 

Alison called me last week just after the Superbowl to catch up.  She had just returned from Florida visiting with her uncle who she shared was less than thrilled that Beyonce' would be performing at half-time.  When she asked him why  he didn't like Beyonce', he said, as if it should be obvious to her and everyone:  Beyonce' doesn't rock!  She laughed hysterically as she told me his response admitting that she actually likes a few of Beyonce's songs.  I do too.

I just watched the documentary Sound City created by David Grohl frontman of the Foo Fighters and formerly with the band, Nirvana.  Sound City Studios was a famous recording studio in L.A. where the likes of Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Tom Petty and Rick Springfield cut their first tracks.  In 1991, Nirvana recorded their breakthrough album Nevermind there, bonding David Grohl to the studio forever after that magical experience.

The coolest part of the documentary was watching David Grohl jam with his hero, Paul McCartney and other musicians and artists.  Expressing whatever came forward in the moment, they were raw, unscripted, spontaneous and so alive.  They were simply guys doing what they love to do, doing what they must.  They weren't playing to the cameras, trying to be rock stars.  They let go completely to find that sweet spot, digging deep to touch that space that frees the music.  There was perfection in the imperfection.  And it was so inspiring!

Each of us has music within us.  Do what you must.  Do whatever it is you must do simply for the sake of doing it, for the joy it brings.  Free the passion.  Whether you like R&B, Rap, Jazz, Soul, Rock n' Roll, Funk, Pop, Big Band, Classical, Country, Southern Rock and so on, it matters not.  You get to choose. 

I invite you to turn it up and let the music stir you.  Whatever ROCKS you, ROLL with it!  Don't hold back.  Belt it out. Silencing your voice robs the world of songs only you can sing... 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Going BACK to Go FORWARD...

Sometimes, we gotta go back to go forward...

We are told to let bygones be bygones by those uncomfortable or threatened by us revisiting our history; but sometimes, it is a necessary to go back to go forward into a life free from the heaviness we have been dragging around.  Visiting the past can be healing as we acknowledge all of the experiences - especially the ones we would never have wished for, no longer needing to blame others or wallow in the pain.  There may be grief and unwanted feelings to process but there is gold on the other side of the rainbow if we stay the course.

Below is from the INTRO to Passing On Hope written January 11, 2007:
In my look back into what I thought was dark, scary, and overloaded with demons, I discovered an adventure lined with love, laughter, joy, creative survival, perseverance, and gratitude for it all. All those years, I had avoided looking back for fear the pain might take me down for good this time, but the pain amazingly enough dissipated as I faced it little by little. Some of my perceptions were skewed; some of them were dead on. It didn’t matter anymore. As I faced the ugliest parts of myself and my history, I was freed. For the first time I could remember, I felt whole and more present in my life than I knew was possible. The power I had given to the past dulled the joy found in each day, but no more. I wouldn’t allow myself to waste one more moment stuck back there.

My acceptance that my parents, my family, my community, and my teachers did the best they knew how to do stopped my spinning over and over how I wished things could have been. Learning to love myself and all that has led me here today, I am fueled with courage to keep going, to keep dreaming, and to keep believing in the desires of my heart. I feel that there is enough love in this moment to fill the moments of the past where I couldn’t feel it. As I allow this love in, miracles occur within me and around me. I am more than I ever knew was possible, as is everyone I meet. Fear no longer rules my life, as I open to the beauty in life.
I invite you to go back with the intention to acknowledge the truth, to let go, to heal and to reach for MORE as you go forward...spin the lead into GOLD!  Find the BEAUTY and let it fill your heart. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Daring to be UNCOMFORTABLE...

Burpies...Mountain Climbers...Bear Crawls...Push Ups...Planks...OH MY!
(HURTS so Good.)

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to mix it up, get out of my comfort zone and join a group fitness program.  I have found humor to be the healing balm when I am jumping around on 2 left feet or when it gets extra sloppy as I reach exhaustion but WOW!  it is feels good on many levels.  I am proud of myself for risking, trying something new and not needing to be good at it or do it right.  Evidence that I have come a long long way baby! And I no longer have to know what I am dipping my toe into - I just jump in, trusting my Self,  knowing I will jump back out if it doesn't serve me.

Below is an excerpt from the chapter Ruby Slippers.  20 years ago at 217 pounds, I dared to be UNCOMFORTABLE and it has created a life beyond my wildest dreams.  I have found that physical strengthening has a chain reaction to the mind, heart and spirit...

Step aerobics classes at the women’s fitness center and long walks around the park where I had rolled down the hills and collected buckeyes as a child took the place of the friendly neighborhood taverns. The act of bravery it took to put on spandex workout clothes, revealing every bulge and roll, confirmed my commitment to this new way of living. The instructor who was worried about my profuse sweating and splotchy tomato face with purple tinges would ask me after class if I was okay. I assured her that it was merely my Irish heritage, not wanting to tarnish this bubbly and spirited girl with the details of my life. The discoloration of my face and the sweat invigorated me. It was tangible evidence of the work I was doing, and I secretly owned it like a badge of honor. Every drop of sweat that fell from my body expelling all that no longer served me represented my mission to take my power back.

I invite you to SURPRISE yourself in daring to be uncomfortable.  FEEL the vitality that can only come from new experiences!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Feed Your Mind, Body and Spirit...

Feed Your Mind, Body and Spirit…
For almost 20 years, it has been my experience that the person who heads out the door to run, walk or ride a bicycle is not the one who returns.  Something shifts the minute I step outside and this motivates me to continue doing this day after day even more than my level of fitness, the number on the scale or my dress size.  I find myself smiling wide from within, refreshed and renewed.
The time on the road – outside and surrounded by nature – softens life’s sharp edges, connects us to our self and all of life, grounds us in what is important and helps us let go of what is not.  Step by step, minute by minute, breath by breath energy moves through us, freeing us from the stresses, demands, irritations and encounters of the day that have the potential to suck the wind out of our sails.
Departing from the rigidity of tight schedules, we can experience spontaneous surprises that fill us with possibilities.  As a writer, I have had inspiring thoughts pour through me mile after mile bringing forth far more than trying to force what is blocked.  As an entrepreneur, I have found great clarity and insight after exhaustively spinning problems over and over until I thought I would burst from frustration.  As a human being, I have found more of myself, discovering dormant parts of me ready to blossom. 
Whether you find rain, sleet, snow, winds or sunshine, the time on the road awakens the sweetness of life, reminding us that it is a gift to simply be alive; as we return to play feeding the child within us that still needs recess no matter our age, our profession, or our roles in society.  We can be responsible and still be playful.  Life is supposed to be fun not a constant grind of obligations and “to do” lists, stripping away the pleasure.  Happiness is way underrated.  We are taught to do whatever it takes to get the job done – at work and at home – and if we find moments of happiness as a byproduct of these expectations, we’re lucky, we’re the exception. 
If running, walking, cycling is not your thing, find out what is.  John, my late husband, knew better than anyone how to play throughout each day.  Leaving the store, he would run while pushing the grocery cart and jump on the back riding it to his truck and morphing into a 12 year old right before my eyes. 
More than anything, I want everyone to LOVE life (not just occasionally on weekends or vacations), to do one thing every day because it is fun and to create rituals that feed your mind, body and spirit – reigniting your passion for living.  We are never too old and it is never too late to take a stand for our life, saying “Yes!” to laughter, to play, to fun and whatever lightens our hearts.
Meditation:  What if your doctor ordered you to discover what makes you happy in order to create health, what would you be willing to do?
Action:  Write yourself a permission slip to do one thing every day for the FUN of it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day! Spread the LOVE...

What if LOVE looks like YOU? 
(Express Your Self.  Be Kind.  LOVE Big.)

It is difficult for me to imagine why so many people hate Valentine's Day.  Perhaps it is the pressure of trying to do it right or the ghosts of past Valentine's Days still haunting them.  It makes me laugh to hear people balk at a holiday that invites us to pause and acknowledge those we love with cards, texts, emails, candy, flowers and gifts. 

I received 3 Valentine's cards in the mail and was so touched by the generosity of my friends who sent them.  One was even the old fashioned kind that I used to get as a kid which led me to revisit the ritual of passing out cards at school to the entire class and receiving cards from my classmates.  I remember that there was a bit of nervousness over the fear that the boy I liked wouldn't like me or a boy I didn't like would like me.  But all FUN stuff!

My favorite part of Valentine's Days with my late-husband, John, was the cards he gave me over the years.  He could never choose just one so he bought 3 or 4 to express all he was feeling about me and us.  The cards were humorous, romantic, silly, sentimental and so sincere...truly an expression of him.  He would add personal love notes in each which led him to declare, "I am a romantic son-of-a-bitch, aren't I Gee?"  I agreed whole-heartedly, appreciating the man he was and l delighted in the fact that he patted himself on the back so I joined in, patting him some more for his romantic gestures.  I pulled those cards out this morning, soaking in the memories, remembering the joy, seeing his handwriting and feeling the LOVE leap off the card which had me crying tears of gratitude.  These cards are truly treasures!  They are physical evidence of the life we shared.

My big Valentine's plan this evening is taking myself to see the latest movie by Nicholas Sparks:  Safe Haven.  I know it is sappy but I actually love sappy.  It makes me feel good.  I bought myself a bag of special Valentine's Day peanut butter M&M's to take along with me.  They are pink, white and red.  So festive and yummy!   

Try not to get caught up in the hoopla of the holiday, stressing over the card and the gift and the big plans.  I promise you that it is all about the LOVE that is behind what you say, do and give so share your heart generously.  If the one you are with can't appreciate that, you may want to run the other way as fast as you can.  Life is far too short or perhaps too long, to spend it with those who don't appreciate us. 

I say:  LOVE BIG or go home!  Have fun spreading the love by expressing
your Self through kindness all day long... 

LOVE TO YOU ALL this day and all your days! xo

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spring is BREAKing...

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings a tune without the words and never stops at all... - Emily Dickinson

Spring is breaking through.  There has still been a biting cold in the breeze with the temperature reaching into the 40's but the sunshine is working it's magic.  Yesterday, I sat by the french doors in my bedroom writing where the sun graciously drenched me and my kitties.  This was a little piece of heaven.  It thrills me to suddenly see the daffodils sprouting all around my property.  My cement statue of St. Francis has bright green clovers sprinkled all around it as if they are growing out of his feet.  The trees are budding and the birds are serenading the world perched on the branches.  The days are longer with the sun rising earlier and the sun setting later with each passing day. Woohoo!

The overall mood of everyone I encountered yesterday was elevated.  Even though I am one of those rare fans of winter, I am not in denial over the harshness of this season and its brutal effect on our energy levels and emotional states.    

This morning as I headed out my door, the poetic lyrics of James Taylor's Walking Man came to mind:  The frost is on the pumpkin as everything is covered with a thin layer of frost but the air feels like Spring.  We are in that in between space - it's not quite Spring and Winter is on its way out.  It helps to look for the evidence, the signs that a new season, new life is coming through this day.

I invite you to join me in making a list of your favorite things about this day.  This will place your focus on the goodness and shift your mood to one of gratitude in acknowledging the abundace of life (on any given day!). 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tender Moments: CAREgiving...

 I never wanted to be a nurse or a mother but became both as a caregiver to my brother, mom and husband.  As I type this, I hear these words echo in my mind:  If you wanna' make God laugh tell'em your plans and I can't help but chuckle.  Here I was this take-charge entrepreneur who knew how to get shit done, to make tough choices, to create solutions overcoming whatever challenges I faced.  Then, cancer came knocking.

My brother, Michael, was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer almost 10 years ago.  Our first conversation was purely strategic, mapping out the plan of how to fight this fight and beat it.  I could do this all day long.  This was my comfort zone.  And I was actually good at researching and asking questions, advocating for my brother.  But soon, I would discover that there was no fixing, managing or controlling the big C.

I found myself in new territory, surrendering my manic drive to solve the problem and going into my heart and soul.  From this space, I could be present to Michael, asking his wants and desires and wishes and listening with no judgment, doing everything in my power; I was absolutely there in the moment with him to serve in any way that he needed.  My agenda was out the window as it would only create a barrier and he needed all of me.

His anger, his fear, his resentment, his humor, his laughter, his coping tools, his moments of crazy and terror - I could hold space for all of it.  Nothing was too big.  And this was absolutely beyond me as the heavens intervened and took my stubborn will that had served me well but just wasn't useful under these circumstances.  

He would thank me for being with him, his wife and his sons.  I was struck by his gratitude as I knew I was being given a gift that would transform my life, teaching me the power of my presence, the miracle of being fully with another human being when he is most vulnerable. 

There is such wisdom on the death bed!  The person transitioning from this life to the after life is deeply connected to the essence of who they truly are: the soul. And in his connection, Michael helped me dip my toe into this healing water that freed and nourished like nothing else.  He cut through the crap that often bogs down our lives, experienced profound clarity, appreciated the precious gift of this life and all life, said whatever needed to be said and inspired those who were privileged to witness him become more alive as he was dying.  The last 6 months of Michael's life, we were so in the moment, we lived lifetimes within days.  It was heartbreaking AND it was AWEsome.

I would never have wished for Michael's illness and ultimately his death, but I am eternally grateful for the experience that showed me I am far more than I knew I was.  I may have never wanted to be a mother or a nurse but LOVE would motivate me to do what was put in front of me.

**Below is a story of caregiving for my mom.  I have a million and one stories but really love the tenderness of this experience and I hope you feel this too.

Tender Moments excerpt from my book:                          

My brother Michael died on a Wednesday afternoon, and Mom almost followed him two days later. She had a urinary tract infection that had caused sepsis. Her friend Carolyn had stopped by early that morning on her way to work and found Mom crawling around, her nightgown covered in feces; she was too weak to stand even with her walker. By the time we got her to the hospital, her kidneys were shutting down, so they did all that they could to kill off the infection. Antibiotics saved her life by clearing her body of the bad bacteria, but they also took away the good bacteria that prevent infection. A few days after she returned home, she was experiencing chronic diarrhea, which turned out to be C. difficile bacteria that had entered her colon as a result of her treatment for sepsis. She was hospitalized again for another week.

When we got Mom home, she was listless, bones with skin covering them. We had to hold her up and walk her from the bathroom to the sofa and in the evening to the bed. The doctors encouraged her to eat whatever she could get down, but the fear of it coming out the other end seized her appetite.

I was bathing her as she sat naked on a peach cotton towel that covered the toilet lid. She thanked me in an exhausted whisper. I was nervous about embarrassing her, so her thank-you helped soothe my anxiety. As I was rinsing the wash cloth in the bathroom sink, she told me that she had bathed her mom in this same spot 20 years before. She went on to say that her mom hated that she had to be bathed by her daughter. I listened. She gently thanked me again as I placed her nightgown over her head. Tears streamed down her face as silence fell. I said, “You must miss your mom,” to which she nodded in agreement. I understood, because I missed mine, too.

In the midst of mourning my mom of yesterday, I felt more powerfully than ever before the circle of life. It was an honor to care for her in such a vulnerable state, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. She not only trusted me; she thanked me for doing what daughters do. This was my thank-you to her.

Monday, February 11, 2013

YOU are BEAUTYfull...YOU Grow into Your Self

                                You are BEAUTYfull. 
YOU Grow into Your Self.
While at the doctor's office last Friday, the nurse escorted me to the scale. This used to cause severe heart palpitations even full on panic attacks with burning hot flashes but I have had a huge shift in perception over the years .  I no longer measure my worth by the number on the scale or use it as a weapon of shame against myself.  It is simply information.

When she measured my height, she kindly commented that I was "nice and tall" and shared how she had always wanted to be tall.   I told her about my mom being petite (5' 2") like her and how I always felt like an amazon next to her, wishing I was small.  And then, one day, I liked being tall.  Adding:  I guess YOU GROW INTO YOUR SELF.

As I spoke those words, the vibration was one of pure delight in the clarity, fully understanding my journey, the process of life that had organically led me to this place.  Miraculous!  Over the years, I had come to see the beauty of what is, integrating the pieces of me I had rejected through the power of acceptance.  There is nothing more beautiful than growing into your Self. 

Always remember:  YOU are BEAUTYfull exactly as you are!  And as you accept this, you will grow into your Self, your highest expression of Self:  mind, body, heart and soul.

Below is an excerpt from my book Passing On Hope from the chapter:  Tender Moments.  It is a story of misperception, living out an old belief that gripped me and the healing possible when we are open and present to the moments of our life so the TRUTH can rise.


Aunt Judy, who is Mom’s youngest sister, gave her a few photos that she had taken of me when I was five years old. Mom was in one of the shots with me that captured our matching profiles, bangs cutting our long foreheads in half, full eyebrows sculpted above our eyes, narrow noses with a long slope, plump bottom lips, and rounded chins that arched into our necks. We were wearing chocolate sleeveless mock turtlenecks that Mom had sewn for us. Mine had a label, “Homemade for my special little girl, Kathy,” just like clothes from Sears or L.S. Ayres, only better.

That picture was the first time that I had ever seen a resemblance between Mom and me. Mom, petite at 5 feet 2 inches and always weighing roughly 100 pounds, appeared to be my opposite since I have been 5 feet, 7 inches since seventh grade and have weighed far more than 100 pounds most of my life. As I handed Mom the photo, I remarked how much I looked like her. She let out a sigh of delight as she viewed the photo closely, saying, “You sure were a pretty lil’ thing.”

I instinctively burst into tears hearing those words that I craved as a child. As I caught my breath, I apologized for my outburst, telling her with my crying voice that I never knew she thought I was pretty. Trying to decide if I wanted to tell her more of the truth, I paused to regain my composure and then told her that I never felt pretty as a child, seeing myself as dirty and ugly. This ended our conversation, as she stiffened up with her uneasiness, and I was afraid of hurting her with my perceptions of the past. There was no benefit to dredging up what was no longer true. Knowing that she thought I was pretty mended whatever part of me had hung onto the belief all of these years that I was ugly and dirty.

A month later, on Christmas, we watched 35-mm reels of home movies. We laughed hysterically as we revisited our past as a family—Christmases, graduations, weddings, Easters, trips to Santa Claus Land, football games, parties. Margee, Maureen, and I, also known as “the three little girls,” modeled our Easter dresses that Mom had made especially for us. There I was all of three years old—whole, perfect, and beautiful with my whitewashed curly blond hair and my bright yellow dress. There was nothing dirty or ugly about this little girl. She was so confident that she did a turn to show the back of the dress and decided to lift it so everyone could see her matching ruffled panties. I scooped up this memory of that little girl and placed her in my heart and soul, where she now permanently resides.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Rainy Days and Sundays...

Rainy days and Sundays (especially rainy Sundays) always get me to chill, to live life at a slug's pace, to postpone as much as I can on my "to do" list and roll with my relaxed mood.  It is as if the whole of the world is united with me in this downshift into Jamaica mode:  no hurry, Mon.

Now, I love a sunshiny day as much as the next person.  Even in the most frigid temps of winter, I will put my face toward the sun and breathe in the glory it offers and have a ritual of laying on my hill bundled in winter garb as if I were sunbathing on the beach.  But when it is sunny, I get more restless to go out and play, do errands or get things done, making it impossible for me to hibernate and experience the joys of this alternate way of living.

The seasons are always changing inviting us to join them, to learn the art of balance between being and doing...being and doing.  Making the most of our days is a rich way to live even the days we want to wish away where we curse the weather that just won't cooperate with our desires.  

I wrote this poem sitting on top of my houseboat on Labor Day weekend 2009 as I mourned the summer that seemed to slip away over night taking all the adventures that happen in that season with it.  Fall's nip was in the air and the leaves on the trees were dawning new coats of gold and magenta with orange splashes.  Whether I liked it or not, change was happening so I chose to roll with it after I had kicked and screamed a bit.
A Moment of Clarity…
The seasons are always changing – inviting us to come along!
Reminding us how spectacular change is – how essential it is
to the growth of the planet and to the growth of all creatures.

In nature there is death and rebirth, death and rebirth.
 And the seasons do this in effortless surrender
Let us follow their lead
Sweet surrender…Ahhhhhhhh!

Death to the “I” and Rebirth into the “WE” – This is eternal life
Not of body but of this ever-expanding soul that aches to sprout wings
More glorious than the mind can image.

Bless the changing seasons!
They are a mirror showing us all our magnificence that is a birthright
Not something we must earn
Or something we must learn…
It simply is.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cultivate KINDNESS...

(Take Your Turn.  Be HUMAN.  It makes you less righteous.)

In honor of today being my late-husband, John's birthday, I felt compelled to write about kindness as this was truly an effortless way of being for him.  AND he could also be an asshole (albeit far less than me) from time to time just like the rest of us. 

I always feel bad for celebrities who get caught on film being assholes and the clip plays over and over as the masses play judge and juror, pretending to be perfect and superior.  When I see these clips, I honestly think to myself that every person has had a similar moment (well, I KNOW I have!) when the ugliest parts of us COME OUT TO ROAR.  While I know it feels much better when I am kind, it is unrealistic to believe I am not an asshole from time to time.

As a coach, people welcome me into their lives, baring their souls as they share and allowing a level of vulnerability that brings healing.  Perfectionism is the source of immeasurable torture in our culture.  Perfectionism - not in a balanced energy where a person aspires to do their very best, but in an abusive energy where a person holds their self to an impossible standard, beating their self up compulsively for the inability to live up to this ideal, not allowing for the humanness.  Perfectionism that I see is motivated by shame and guilt not out of self-love that makes healthy choices to honor their highest potential. 

When I posed the question to one couple:  What if we can all be assholes from time to time?  This inquiry was transforming for them.  It made them laugh out loud and now, they admit that when one of them is in the middle of an asshole moment, they check their self and take responsibility, owning this behavior - finding the humor instead of picking up the bat to beat their self up with shame and guilt.  They even agreed to a percentage and made a sign for their fridge:  15% ASSHOLE.  This new way of being has even made them more kind not just to each other but to everyone else they encounter. 

When we appreciate our own humanness, we truly begin to appreciate the humanness of others, making us less righteous and more accepting of even the ugliest parts that we want to wish away.  Instead of pushing away what we are ashamed of, it is more healing to be kind to ourself, befriending and integrating all of us.

Below is a workshop that I did 4 years ago:  CULTIVATING KINDNESS!  It is indeed a worthy practice simply because it feels so damn good to be kind and it starts with your self so be generous.

Cultivating KINDNESS:

COMMIT to The Practice…
It all starts with a commitment to practice kindness!  Choice by choice, moment by moment, day by day, we practice KINDNESS as a way of being.  Apologize when you aren’t kind, forgive yourself, ask for a do-over and try again and again and again. 

OBSERVE Your Life Compassionately…
Patiently & kindly observe yourself and the world around you – BE PRESENT in your life.  Observing your words, your feelings, your choices, your behaviors, your body talk, your beliefs, your interactions with others, you become AWARE.  In this awareness, you can mindfully live your life.

HONOR Your Needs…
KINDNESS starts with being kind to yourself!  Your relationship with yourself impacts all relationships.  Know what your needs are and give yourself permission to take care of yourself every single day.  Find ways to de-stress: go for a walk, move your body, eat healthy, sleep, take a breather, be with good friends, go to the park, sing, dance – whatever YOU need!

ENJOY Your Life… 
Schedule Downtime.  Just be.  Say “No.” You will blossom in the white spaces on your calendar!  Do not over-schedule your life and let the burden of your obligations drain you.  Make time for the things you absolutely ENJOY!  After all, this is YOUR life.

CONNECT with Yourself and Others…
We crave connection!  When you can connect with yourself, you can connect with others.  A smile, making eye contact, saying “Hello!” and listening generously are simple yet powerful acts of KINDNESS.

AVOID Nothing…
When you meet whatever comes your way head on, you can make the choices necessary to move through any circumstances.  Avoidance makes everything pile up, overwhelming you and depleting your energy.  Honest conversations clear the air and make room for solutions.

STOP Fighting to Be Right…
Allow others to have their own points of view and express their opinions.  Respectfully listen even if you do not agree.  No one wins when we have to make someone wrong so we can be right!

GIVE Thanks…
There are no two words more powerful when spoken from the heart than “THANK YOU.”  Be an appreciator!  Appreciate and acknowledge the gifts of each day and each person in your life.  Go to gratitude all day long and watch your life expand in beautiful ways.

Laughter heals, releasing a vibration of joy in simply being alive.  Don’t take yourself or life too seriously.  Be playful and look for reasons to laugh and invite humor into all of your days.

DWELL in The Possibilities…
Attitude is everything!  Shift your perceptions.  Be the change.  BELIEVE!  If you think nothing will ever get better, it won’t; if you believe that something is impossible, it is.  When you see the possibilities, feel the possibilities and live the possibilities, you create an expansive life of adventure and wonder.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mining for Gold: Discovering ALL That You Are!

Yesterday, while getting my car serviced at the dealership, I pulled out my laptop and set up my temporary work station in the lounge area when a talk show came on the TV that featured a couple fighting and belligerently spewing venom at each other for "entertainment" sake.  The 2 men in the lobby reacted with nervous laughter shaking their heads with disgust.  I asked them:  Did you turn on this crap?  And we laughed some more.  

Admitting to the guys that I am not above watching total crap on TV but nothing like this show which was hijacking my nervous system.  Our bantering continued and one of them said that he and his wife are hooked on the new show on Discovery:  "Mining for Gold" or a title something like that.  He told me an overview which led us to a deep discussion about how primal mining for gold is; it ignites our pioneering spirit that longs to find treasures within and in the material world.  Those that set out to mine for gold desperate to survive often gave their very lives for the pursuit and how unfathomable that is to us in our modern culture.  And yet, the inner journey, the call to discover MORE of who we are, costs us the life that "was", dismantling belief systems that connected us to friends, family and communities - all that was familiar. 

As I drove away from the dealership, I felt grateful for the conversation with the stranger, the nameless man who indulged me in my incessant exploration of what drives (me) humanity.  And I remembered my first workshop that I ever led:  Mining for Gold:  Discovering ALL That You are!  Remember:  We teach what we most need to learn...And boy oh boy!  I am still learning and loving every minute of the experience of this life.

Below is an outline of the workshop:  ENJOY!

Mining For Gold:
Discovering All That You Are!

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Tools for Mining Your Gold…

Stay the Course:
The journey of life is like the board game Chutes and Ladders – Just when we think we’ve mastered it, climbing ladder after ladder and the finish line seems near, a chute appears out of nowhere and we slide backwards.  We will never know it all or figure it all out so the goal is always progress NOT perfection.  The key is to pick ourselves up, stay focused on what we want to achieve and never give up!

Train the Puppy:
We must challenge ourselves to break patterns that no longer serve us.  This is tough like training a puppy so we have to be committed to the process. It is easy to focus on what we think others should and shouldn’t do; but to bring real and lasting change, we must focus on ourselves. 

Observe Life:
Patiently and compassionately observe yourself and the world around you like a scientist in a lab.  Acknowledge what is and isn't serving you.   Most of us are used to reacting to circumstances, life's dramas, whatever is being said or to how we are feeling instead of stepping back and being the observer and choosing from an empowered place how we want to respond.

Be Responsible for Your Life:
This is YOUR life.  Blaming others, we give them power over our lives.  Taking responsibility for our lives, our choices, how we show up in the world, we step into our own power where we become victors instead of victims.  All life experiences teach us what we need to learn if we are present and open.  Power question:  “What if the only thing standing in the way of all that you desire is YOU and your choices?”

Stop the Fight to Be Right:
No one wins when we are fighting to be right instead of respecting the various views and opinions of others.  By all means:  Have an opinion!  We all have the right to speak our truth and hold that dear; but this doesn’t mean we are right and others are wrong or vice versa.  Life isn’t black and white; it is a sea of gray.

Love Yourself and Honor Yourself:
Appreciate all that makes you "you"...ALL of it!  Learn to love and honor yourself no matter what even in the moments that you don't find yourself so lovable.  We can’t give others what we don’t give ourselves.  Love and honor yourself in all that you say, all that you think and all that you do. 

Be Grateful:
Breathe in; breathe out…start with being grateful to be alive!  Be grateful for all that makes you, you.  You can lift yourself any time of day by taking a mental inventory of all that makes you feel grateful.  Gratitude instantly shifts our energy and opens us to the abundance of life.

Dwell in the Possibilities:
If we think nothing will ever get better or improve, it won’t.  We must tap into the wonderful gift of our imagination where all things are possible.  When we see the possibilities, feel the possibilities and live the possibilities day by day, choice by choice, we become more of who we are and have more to give the world!

Kathy McHugh, Author of Passing On Hope