Category Archives: choice

Happy Accidents

Accidents happen, and rarely do we call them “happy.” Then something comes along to change that and suddenly they become ‘Happy Accidents.’ But we never know they’re actually “happy” until after the fact. 

This is a simple truth about a lot of life. Hindsight is the tool that allows us to take perspective and choose new adjectives, right?

Earlier today I tried to trim my own (long, overgrown and frustrating) bangs. But I ended up taking off a lot more than I had planned (because I’m not a hairstylist – duh). I thought it would be simple, and it wasn’t. My “trim” resulted in weird blunt wonky pieces of hair draped in front of my eyes. 

Somewhat laughing, I called my hairdresser, but she was too busy. However, she referred me to someone else she works with who had some time available today, and… voila! My blunder became a ‘happy accident’ in the form of a totally new hairstyle that I love.
I love when something unplanned (and potentially frustrating) turns into something unexpectedly awesome, don’t you? It happens more than we realize or acknowledge though. Unfortunately, we are a bit too programmed to focus on the “bad” or frustrating bit, rather than enjoying the positive change. I see it daily… people seem to be more and more hard-wired to complain, than they are to celebrate or enjoy. It’s almost as if we’re not allowed to truly be happy with our lives. 

Hindsight gives us a choice, though. It allows us to look back and change the adjective, and thereby change the experience. People say we can’t change the past, but that’s not entirely true. Because we can change how we feel about the past, which, in essence, changes it in our memories. It’s a superpower too few people are exercising. 

Now, to be clear, this is not about denying an event or creating revisionist history. Facts are facts. But how we feel about the facts can be updated. It can be modified through a shift in perspective, turning something frustrating or difficult into something neutral, or even positive. 

It’s not always easy, mind you. Sometimes it takes a fair amount of work, but the guarantee is that it’s always worth it. Why? Because low vibration emotions take a lot more energy than high-vibration, or even neutral, memories. Shifting perspective and attributing new feelings to something that has already happened frees up the emotional, mental, and energetic space inside you that had been given over to maintaining the complaint. And that, is a very happy accident, indeed. 

Make Time – Take Time

It’s December 4th, and I am already witnessing the stressors of the holiday season begin to show up. Upon running a few simple errands today I saw both frustrated and happy shoppers. Some were smiling as they completed the tasks they set out to achieve, while others were grumbling as they pushed their carts through the aisles.

Is attitude a choice?

We’ve been taught over and over again by leading authors and “gurus” that we can choose a positive attitude throughout our life. And while that may be true, it’s also rather dismissive, isn’t it? (Personally, I’ve never appreciated someone telling me to adopt an “attitude of gratitude” or a “positive mental outlook” when I’m in the midst of some stressor or another.)

So, while our mood may or may not be a choice, we definitely have power over how we choose to spend our time… which directly affects our mood.

This is where a favorite rhyming couplet comes into play:

Make Time – Take Time

Make Time to Take Time

When we make time to take time, we empower ourselves to take action that leads to a more peaceful presence. In other words, our mood becomes a byproduct of our actions and decisions.

But, what does this actually mean? If you’ve known me at all, you know that I like things to be both accessible and actionable. Making time to take time looks like this:

Carving out 15 minutes in the morning to sip your tea or coffee from a favorite mug, while listening to music, an audiobook or a podcast.

Setting aside 10 minutes a day before bed for private quiet time. It can be meditation, or a spa-like ritual of pampering your skin. (Lately, I’ve been focusing on my feet, and boy does that 10-minute massage feel good!)

Planning 15 minutes ahead of schedule when you have an event to go to, so that you arrive feeling relaxed and excited, rather than rushed and frazzled.

Choosing to sit down and eat your dinner at the table with nice plates and silverware, and savoring every bite, even if you’ve ordered in.

Ordering in! Even the best cooks need a break. Ordering in is a simple indulgence that allows you to reclaim at least 30 minutes that would have been spent cooking.

As you can see from the list, it’s all about being deliberate with our time. Our society has a tendency to glorify being “busy” – but there’s no trophy for feeling frazzled and stressed. Typically, there’s only exhaustion and frustration, and nobody likes that.

So, in order to shift your attitude from one of grumbling through the aisles to one of quiet joy in accomplishing your everyday tasks (including attending numerous holiday events), instead of choosing your mood it might be easier to choose how you spend your time. We do this by carving out little snippets of time in our day to create moments of pleasure, joy, or peace. It really does make all the difference.



Life, Death, and a Simple Question

Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude. Just yesterday millions of people across the USA came together to share a meal, a tradition, or some sport, all in the name of gratitude. I, myself, gathered with part of my family and created a new tradition as we ate a simple meal together at my father’s nursing home. In many ways, it was more the essence of Thanksgiving for me than it ever had been. It was family, coming together, sharing food, and sharing stories.

For others, this week also brought something new. In the past few days I have had very dear friends unexpectedly lose a parent, while another dear friend extended their family by one.

The timing is not lost on me. This week – a week of gratitude – the cycle of life hit me square in the face.

Even though I have been living with perpetual loss for over 11 years since my father’s massive stroke, I have not had to deal with the permanence of loss. I can still go and hug him, laugh with him, smile with him. My friends who just lost their parent no longer have that privilege – that joy.

So, as I sit tonight and reflect on the miracle of life and the meaning of death, I find my mind wandering to a quote I’ve always liked, but never fully embraced…. until now. Now, it seems to have a deeper meaning.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

It’s from the poem ‘The Summer Day’ by Mary Oliver. Whether or not you believe in reincarnation, it’s this life – now – that matters, because it’s the one you can embrace. In the wake of death and birth, it seems even more poignant as I remember that time can feel too short, while also being marvelously full of possibility and potential.

With gratitude for a simple family gathering fresh in my mind, it seems a good time to truly answer Mary’s question. And the best answer I can come up with is: Live.

Live in Love.
Live in Hope.
Live in Peace.
Live in Joy.
Live in Play.
Live in Curiosity.
Live in Intimacy.
Live in Laughter.
Live in Connection.
Live in Spirit.



‘The Summer Day’ by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Falling Flat – Bad Hair Days Needn’t Be

We’ve all been there. Having moments in our life when things just don’t seem to be doing much of anything, or at least, they’re not doing what we had expected or attempted. They fell flat.

In many ways, it’s like having a bad hair day. I remember once, a long time ago, my boss told me that he and his wife experienced he occasional “bad marriage days.”

“Bad marriage day? … What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s like a bad hair day, but for your marriage. It happens. And no matter what you do, it just doesn’t get better. So, you have a choice: put on a hat and keep going, or sit and fuss and fuss and fuss trying to fix something that may be intangible. It just is.”

I’m paraphrasing of course, but I do remember him saying the thing about the hat.

The thing is, life is imperfect. It’s meant to be. The imperfections are where the growth, opportunity, and possibility reside. It’s not meant to be ‘happy-happy joy-joy’ all the time. If it were, we’d probably lose some of our ability to appreciate joy. Sometimes, life is just… well, flat.

The question is: do you choose to continually fuss over it? Or do you grab the nearest baseball cap and get on with it, remembering the more important truth: life is always (always) changing. And tomorrow is a new day.

[Hmm… maybe this is why I have always had such an extensive collection of hats!]

Life Is Best Lived In The Little Things

Per my post yesterday, I thought this warranted repeating: Life is best lived in the little things that make us happy.


All too often I see clients or friends getting caught up in the “big” ideas, or the big list of desires. Heck, I even do it myself still. It’s important to have those big ideas and desires, because they become the “X” on your roadmap of life. They give you some sense of direction from which you can draw your route. Without them, we’d all be wandering aimlessly. But…

But at the same time, we have to remember that the ideas and desires are ideals, and not where we are meant to live on a daily basis. Why? Because when we do, we get bogged down in the land of “should” (a rather icky sticky marshland), or marooned on the isle of “not enough” (an isolated and lonely island in the middle of a rapid river). Neither of which help us move forward on our path toward our X.

The remedy for this is, it seems, being present on the journey: To ‘be here now’ as I and others have written many times. It’s not always easy, but it makes life easier. That’s for certain. And how do we ‘be here now’ when everything around us is asking us to live in ‘ideal world’ rather than on our own map?

We live our days – our lives – in the little things that bring us joy. 

Do you enjoy coffee? Or tea? Then, enjoy it. Or IN-JOY it. Sip with a smile. Do you enjoy yoga or cross-fit, or walking in the woods? Then IN-JOY it. Be in it while you’re in it, and take it all in. The breath, the sweat, the smell of fallen leaves crunching under your feet. Anything that you’re doing, you have the capacity to find joy in the moment, even if you dislike something.

When I worked in the corporate world, there were definitely moments in which I didn’t like my job. Some days would trudge on and on, but without realizing it, I would find little things that made the days better. Sometimes it was realizing that the slow pace of a day in a desk job allowed me an opportunity to read something new. Whatever it is, we can usually find something that brings us joy, we just have to look for it… or create it. 

That’s what it means to live in the little moments. And the beautiful thing about this is that when one moment is done, there’s sure to be another soon after when you live this way. You become the cruise director and captain of your own ship, and nothing feels better than that. All the advertising in the world that tells you what you “should” be doing simply won’t influence you anymore. You’ll get to choose what to listen to and explore (or even buy), in your own time, and based on your own mind. How cool is that?

In the end, we are all on a journey toward our giant X on a map. The two questions that matter are:

  1. What is your X? (the one you defined, not somebody else) and
  2. What are you doing with your time as you journey toward it?

Happy wandering! xo

Reconnecting With Myself Through Art

I had a really bad morning. In fact, it’s been a rough week all around since my minor surgery last week, for myriad reasons. But I went to art class anyway, even though I considered leaving 5 minutes after I set up. I wasn’t feeling it. But I stayed. I went back into the landscape painting I started two weeks ago and played with it a little. It’s ok. Again, I wasn’t feeling it, but for a while I put my headphones on and let myself get lost in the movement of the brush. That helped. After an hour or so, I stopped. I just couldn’t do any more. I felt bored and still out of sorts.

But my headphones were on, and I had 1 1/2 more hours to go, so I pulled out another canvas. Feeling somewhat disconnected from myself and any sense of joy (again, rough week and morning), I decided to go back into just doing what I love: moving paint on a canvas and playing with the energy of color.

As the brush made swirls of paint before my eyes, I started to feel better. Though, since acrylic is much harder than oils for this type of meditative play, it was a struggle at moments. Nonetheless, it was better. I was better. I was doing what makes me happy, calm, peaceful. My mood began to lift, and I was reminded of how important it is to be in alignment with oneself above ALL things. It’s that alignment that keeps us connected to God/Source/Universe, which in turn allows us to connect with others more openly and honestly.

As I pushed the red and blue paints around in repetitive spirals, I began to breathe more deeply and calmly. This inner space helped me realize that, instead of listening to the ‘should’ of art (I should be making something “worthwhile” or at least “recognizable”), I listened to myself – my own needs – and I simply felt better. I realigned with who I am.

As if to reinforce my decision to be myself, the Universe immediately gave me a validating experience. Yes, manifesting can happen that quickly when we are aligned. As I was packing up my things, a fellow student who was taking the class today to make up for a missed class asked me what I did. “I’m a writer and a life coach,” I said.

“Oh,” she paused. “I need a life coach.”

We talked for a few minutes as she shared her life challenges with me, and my reminder to be who I am (always!) was immediately reinforced as I was talking with someone who has forgotten who she is, and isn’t sure how to get back to that. I told her I could help. (I’ve certainly forged that path enough times now myself that I have some tools and insights that are helpful.) And just like that, I have a new client. Someone whom I get the privilege of shepherding home… back to their authentic self.

In the end, what matters is that when deciding how to live our lives, we all do what we love to do. It’s always been a fairly dismissive statement to me, though. “Do what you love” is too amorphous and theoretical most of the time. It can also feel dismissive, especially if you don’t know what you love. So, I have changed it to: “Do the things that bring you inner peace and pure joy.”

Painting color in movement brings me inner peace. Sometimes landscapes are a nice change, but for the most part, I’m an abstract artist. I am claiming that today. I need the surreality of it. When I try to do or be something that’s not 100% aligned with who I am at my core, I lose sight of myself. I lose my own inner connection, and that provides ample opportunities for me to experience reminders and lessons, especially in the realm of relationships with others. I’m grateful I lost touch with myself, because I had a wonderful experience of reconnecting, through art.

Does it mean that everything else that was problematic over the last week is miraculously fixed? Nope. That would be too easy. But it does mean that I can deal with everything else in a more balanced, peaceful, and loving manner. And that, my friends, is what makes ALL the difference.


Where I started – two weeks ago


After a little more work today.




When I couldn’t go any further today.


Returning to what I love: moving paint on canvas and playing with the energy of color

Christmas Cards in October?

Christmas Cards in October?

Yes, I’m one of those people. I start working on Christmas cards in October. Typically, I’m ordering something around now, though there have been times in the past when I would have already received my order and begun hand-addressing the envelopes. (My list is about 125 people so it takes some time.)

This year, though, I am not sure what I’m doing. Yesterday I browsed through some online card templates; and today, while at Costco, I saw some very pretty boxed card sets. But somehow, it all fell a bit flat.

It’s entirely possible that the dullness is the result of this lull I’m experiencing. A lot of things are falling flat lately, so it’s not just the cards. But the cards truly gave me pause, because it is one of my favorite things about the holidays: giving and receiving cards. It’s a symbolic gesture that says: I’m thinking of you. I love it.

I think that’s why it feels flat. Nothing I’ve seen has sparked that moment of “I’m thinking of you” within me. It actually feels more like an obligation than a joy. And that’s exactly what gave me pause.

When something that has previously carried the spark of creativity, love, and imagination loses its sparkle, it becomes obligation or duty… and there’s no joy in that.

I know that there are times in our lives when both obligation and duty are required, but they truly are limited to the smallest minority – like, maybe 5% or less. The rest of the time, most of our daily lives are ruled by either routine or joy, with routine often in a significant majority. It’s the joy component that most interests me.

How do we make joy out of routine? How do we protect our joy in light of the requirements of routine? Is it truly all about attitude? Choice? Perspective?

You’re probably expecting an answer here – but the truth is: I don’t know. I watch people all around me, every day, going through the motions of life, their heads buried in their phones or computers, or projects, barely looking up to recognize what’s going on around them. It saddens me. I’ve been party to it – still am, sometimes – so I know it’s a difficult pattern to break, especially when we don’t have a motivation to do so. There’s no reward, it seems, to breaking the habit of daily living.

I think that’s the biggest issue facing our society today: this idea of an immediate tangible reward. We’ve gotten to where we can’t tolerate failure, so instead we accept habitual mediocrity. It’s not just coloring within the lines, but allowing someone else to choose all the colors and their placement for us. It’s life without risk… and also without reward.

Which means it’s also a loss of joy. Pure true unabated joy.

When was the last time you laughed so hard your abs hurt? 
Or your heart filled with pure unconditional love and gratitude? 
Or you smiled so deeply that you began to cry? 

These are all expressions of joy. Pure joy.

For me, I will probably send out Christmas cards this year, though I am giving myself wiggle room and might send New Year’s cards instead. Because, if I don’t feel joy in creating and addressing them, I don’t want to send out a message of “obligation” instead of a message of “thinking of you.” As we know, everything carries energy. Even our correspondence. I’d rather wait or skip a year, instead of sending out something just to have done it.

And I think that’s a healthy question we can ask of most everything in our daily lives, don’t you?


Do Something… Anything.

Who here has seen the Harry Potter films? There’s this one scene early in the series when Harry, Ron and Hermione are trapped in the bathroom with a mountain troll. The troll has Harry dangling by the legs and Harry yells to Ron, “Do something!”

Ron replies, “What?!?”

Harry, even louder, “… ANYTHING!”

As I sat to write this week’s blog, that scene and those voices – those words – kept repeating in my head, like an album of old with a stuck needle.

Do something… Anything.

It’s really simple, isn’t it? And yet – sometimes it can be so hard to just get going with the “anything.”

As I continue to lay the groundwork and pull together all the pieces for the follow-up book to What if..?, I believe more and more that “anything” is exactly the answer to most of life’s quandaries. Why? Because “anything” creates movement, and movement leads to flow. Every time.

I’m living a perfect example of this right now. If you follow my blog, you know I’ve been trying to navigate whether or not to change it. It’s been a weekly endeavor for over 7 years now (with one hiatus during grad school), and I have lost a bit of the spark with writing it. I don’t think it’s that I don’t want to do it – quite the opposite. I love writing it. I think it’s that I’m in a bit of a resetting and restoring period in my life, and so sometimes writing isn’t a priority. In fact, it’s rarely been a priority of late, because it feels like effort.

I am grateful that I can say that everything I have published up until this current period has been effortless. It’s been all part of the flow. I sit down, I feel inspired, and I type. Rarely has it been a struggle. But lately, I’ve been missing that sort of creative flow in my life, and yet I knew that writing wouldn’t restore it. So, what did I do?

I listened to Harry and did “anything.”

My “anything” actually looked like art. I picked up my pen and my sketch pad, and I began to draw. I allowed myself 5 minutes a day of just sketching or drawing whatever came out. And it’s been marvelous. Plus, it hasn’t always remained at 5 minutes, which is evidence that the flow is returning. I can also say that I’ve taken an interest in cooking again and experimenting with combinations and flavors.

This is what it means to “get in the flow.” The flow is non-goal-oriented, non-specific, and non-judgmental. It simply is. And when it’s moving, it encourages more movement. This is exactly why “anything” works to restore flow. And it doesn’t have to be something “big” or “important” either. 5 minutes a day of just sketching is certainly not life-changing.

And yet….

And yet it is. It is because it’s a path back to a flow state, in small increments made with deliberate intent to simply get something – anything – moving. Which is actually what change is all about: small deliberate steps, taken incrementally, over time.

So, the next time you’re feeling stuck just remember Harry, Ron and Hermione in the bathroom, and do anything. “Anything” will always lead you forward.


P.S. Here are two of my recent sketches. I have posted a few on Instagram, if you want to see more. 🙂

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The Power of… Not Engaging?

Don’t Engage.
Don’t Engage.
Don’t Engage.

This has been my mantra of sorts for a while now. It’s the phrase I hear in my head (always repeated three times) when I am waffling between commenting on something in social media, or jumping into the fray of some in-person drama. Usually, I have the presence of mind to steer clear, but sometimes I make the mistake of chiming in… when chiming in is the worst decision I could have made. Hence, I created a phrase to help remind me of the importance – and power – of not engaging.

Lately, interestingly, I’ve found that I’ve been teaching and sharing this powerful (non)tool more and more often. The problem I see is that people are feeling worn out emotionally, which spills over into our daily lives and diminishes our patience and tolerance for others (aka: our compassion).

Choosing a path of non-engagement preserves our compassion and amplifies our energy.

Let me clarify that “non-engagement” is not the same as disengagement. Disengagement implies a level of not caring, or apathy. It’s a “head-in-the-sand” mentality. Non-engagement is about witnessing. It’s about watching, learning, seeing, reading, and understanding from a neutral perspective so that your emotions (your energy) is not sucked into the mayhem and chaos, thereby depleting you or lowering your vibration.

Non-engagement helps to keep you in alignment with who you are, while also allowing you to have ample amounts of energy to choose where, when, and how to engage. This is key. This means that you can direct your focus and your energy into that which you wish to fuel, and THAT is where the power lies.

When you accept that you can CHOOSE where, how, and to what you wish to give your energy, life becomes infinitely more possible. It’s okay to not engage in the battles. All activism is not necessarily good activism, especially if the activists are constantly feeling depleted. This is why it’s important to know where your heart resides, and pursue that. If it’s animal protection and rescue – do that. If it’s politics – do that. If it’s the environment – do that. If it’s not activism – that’s okay too.

And if someone tells you that you need to be more active in a different arena, it’s okay to tell them that you have already chosen where you are giving your energy and attention. This is what it means to be empowered, to stand in your boots. It’s about knowing that…

…You can choose what you give your energy to;
…You can choose not to engage in the chaos; and
…You can choose to let the trauma-drama train pass you by.


Engagement is a choice. Non-engagement is a choice, and both are acceptable. In fact, both are necessary if you wish to have the energy, compassion, and presence to engage where your heart leads. If we engage in chaos, we fuel chaos. Because, remember: Where we choose to engage, we fuel.


Permission to Let Go

I missed writing a blog last week – did you notice? Several of you did and reached out to check that everything is ok (thank you). And if you didn’t notice, that’s totally ok, because I didn’t notice either.

Sometime during the afternoon on Tuesday I had the realization that it WAS Tuesday, and I had totally missed writing for the week. I think it had entered my mind sometime over the weekend prior, but I wasn’t in the mood or in a place to sit down and write, so I didn’t. Then Tuesday morning came and went, and I had no notice of it. I actually thought it was Monday.

When I finally realized that I had missed the weekly blog, I responded rather differently than I would have expected. I said to myself, “Oops. Oh well…” and that was it.

Let me back up though. The reason I would have expected more of a reaction is because many years ago I made a commitment to myself to always write every week, and to do so in a way that would benefit others. This weekly ritual was designed to be both an offering (it is always free), and a habit to reinforce my creative process. There have been very few occasions in which I stopped writing weekly – the main one being my time in graduate school. For the most part, however, I haven’t missed a week in over seven years (barring that graduate school period). So, why didn’t it bother me?

Not only did it not bother me, I saw it as an opportunity to reflect on the reasons for writing and the plan for the future. I started asking whether it was realistic for me to write a weekly blog when I am working on 3-4 books at the same time? Do people really read it or want it? Is it adding value?

All of these things, and more, came streaming in and out of my mind. In the end, however, I returned to the original premise of the blog, which is:

  • To make an offering
  • To maintain a creative flow

Those two things still hold true today, and are more important to me than ever. And yet, I also realized the importance of letting go of any judgment or self-criticism that would have had me reacting a differently than I did. I’m very happy with my response, because it shows that I have developed a level of self-compassion and patience that I didn’t have previously. It’s evidence of the fact that I am living more form a flow-state than a struggle-state (even though it often feels like struggle on the outside). My response shows me that my inner seas are calm and smooth sailing, and that is worth more than anything.

So, I have made the decision to continue to write weekly – though I will allow myself the flexibility of posting on a different day, sometime between Monday and Friday in any given week. Flexibility is a key component of flow, and will allow me to adjust my sails a bit and see what happens.

And I think that’s the most important thing we can learn in life, isn’t it? How to respond to ourselves with kindness, compassion and flexibility, so that we can raise our awareness and assess whether changes need to be made from a place of inner calm. Well, at least that’s where it is for me, today. And for that, I am grateful that I missed writing last week. it gave me the perfect opportunity to pause, take a step back, and move forward with more compassion, awareness, and alignment.