“Poke it in the Eye”

“Strong Is The New Pretty, A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves” by Kate T. Parker is a book I purchased for my daughter, Olivia for Christmas this year.  To be honest I probably purchased it for both of us, but love the message in the title for my 7 year old, who is always listening and observing people, conversations, and things around her.  At times, observing me, not talk so kindly about myself, my weight, and negative thoughts.  Each page is filled with real life young girls, women, who are experiencing challenges, fears, and strength from being themselves, owning each of of these things.  Each page is magnificent and strong, real and raw! And not filled with on ounce of “I want to change this, or get better with that.”  Its message after message of strength, will, and pushing through. 

As the year turns to 2019, the first question often asked is , ” Did you make a new years resolution? ”  And in years past I would have said, “lose 30 pounds, exercise more, blah blah blah!!  This year?  Nope!  Especially not after paging through this beautiful book!   Not one! And I know that maybe sounds like, really Sara?  you couldn’t think of one thing you wanted to focus on in 2019?  Nope! NOT ONE! and especially not negative self talk about my body or myself.   I decided that resolutions are set ups for failure, and intentions are set up’s for using and growing with exactly what you already have within you.  So that is what I am doing, intending to do things to make me better, stronger, and healthier!!  Not to get skinnier, but to support my life in living in the present, enjoying every part of it, and being with those around me to support them in the same things. And doing it daily, hourly  and with intention. With all that is within in me!  Even if that also brings in fear, frustration, and failure.

I traveled with my husband in June 2018, to Haiti with a group of amazing people from our church/school.  A trip I had a great deal of fear about, leaving my kids home, going to a place of unknowns, and also for a week, working with Mission Haiti, feeling so many feelings, but also feeling forever changed, and forever fed up with what fear and negative thinking and self talk bring to my world and my energy. And then as the days/ months went by, that feeling went away, and I found myself once again falling back into that cycle, the one that I don’t feel good about. and that brings no good to me.

I have found that as the years go by, my fears become more, and I have become more cautious, quicker to step into the negative zone, and more aware of all that I don’t want to occur, and so I don’t.  Maybe its my age, maybe its life experience, or the two beautiful humans I have, or maybe its just me, but either way,  it was on this trip, that I decided, no more fear and negativity.  and it was in the last two weeks of experiences that I am reminded again.

I think at times, and more often in the last six months, “You were that person one time, that raised her hand for anything, wanted to experience everything, and you’re slowly losing that strong will.”   I told myself, “you will find strength in the things that scare you, and instead of avoiding them, you Sara, will walk towards them.”   And not just say you are walking towards them, but truly walk the walk without going to the negative zone.  You will do things to expose yourself to ” that feeling,” and you will sit in that feeling, walking towards and through, to get to a place that may or may not be amazing, but you will face it head on and pull something from the experience.  And that is with anything.  Not just adventures, but with my fear of heights, my fear of my children being taken from this earth before me, my fear of being taken from this earth before my children,  my fear of not being liked, not being good enough, not following through or quitting… all these things that create shame, roadblocks, fear, negativity, and excuses, you are going to walk up to them, poke it in the eye, and see what happens.”  and this is my greatest intention for 2019!  Be present, face fear, and live your most authentic, not perfect life, everyday!!   and let your kids live theirs! Failure or success!

Its amazing, when your brain and body go to a place of intention, all the opportunity to practice that begins to manifest around you, and the awareness that arises.

An example,  the Athleta catalog arrived, and in paging through it, the amazing signs of strength, courage, and success that popped up.  Pictures of women, that were strong, healthy, and secure, modeling clothes and messages for every woman, left me thinking, “good work Athleta!”  for being an example of what message we want our young women to have.  No matter what, no matter your body, your ability, you are brilliant and great!!  Thoughts, that at one time, I would not have been left and instead wold have been focused on all the pages of clothes I wanted when I was “30 pounds thinner,”  so that I looked the same as the model did.  Fear of being me, and loving the body that has birthed two children, and breaths life for me daily.

Another example, I stood in line at a movie to get some popcorn, yes I did!!  Lots of it, for my kids over the weekend, and listened as  two women, stood waiting, and fretting, about the minutes of the movie they were going to miss.  The expensive concession snacks, the other friend who is always late, and who is going to make them even more late, the heat being to high in the theater, the crowds…. for 15 minutes, I listened and observed.  I wanted to badly to say, you have choice, in every negative thought you are volleying back and forth, you have choice in all of it.  We all do, and You are choosing fear!   Fear of missing something, fear of someone else affecting your choices, fear and suffering in general, instead of being grateful, they were together, attending a movie, and able to stand in line to purchase the expensive concessions.  Fear is so powerful, and also fickle in that it allows negativity so easy to connect to, negativity so easy to talk about, and negativity, without awareness of how it affects our strength, our internal power,  to become a thread of fear and existence, in our relationships, our conversations.

And I have been guilty of it, especially when I feel fear.   So now what?  What is your intention?   I’m choosing fear!  I’m choosing positive thought! I’m choosing strength in these choices, and intend to face it, whether I feel or succeed, and I will be okay with both because I stepped up to it.

My kids are still on holiday break, and so today, we went to Vertical Endeavors with some friends.  Braylen and Olivia were so excited!  They love this place, the energy and experience from when they have attended birthday parties there, and were so excited for the opportunity to spend time with friends.  Me on the other hand, I. had. fear.  Fear that this mom is not the climbing type ( mostly because of my fear of heights), fear that our friends are more advanced and we would be holding them back, and fear of danger, that .01% chance that something could go wrong.  As we pulled into the parking lot, and entered the building, I whispered to myself, “poke it in the eye!”  Wipe away the negative self talk, choose to find a positive outlook, and choose to step up to fear.

I watched as my kids were beaming, were growing stronger, braver with each step into the climbing area, and so excited that we were there.  I didn’t climb today, (but will face that very soon(  and instead of walking away as I might have before with feelings of failure and defeat, I felt pride that I did go through the steps to learn how to hook them to the ropes,  to release them on their own, and watch them climb,  and climb high really high, and stepped up to that fear.

I not only turned my negative chatter to something positive, I stepped up to my fear, and took strength from my friend who was confident, who tested and passed to be a belayer mind you, (AMAZING and her daughter was so proud of her!) And who belayed my children, ( I think that’s what they call it), so they could climb even higher.  I was able to watch my children, at such a young age, gain strength, fight fear, and feel so empowered, and courageous.  So proud!! and trusting of their friends mother, my friend, and also themselves.

I watched as we all walked up to fear, poked it in the eye, and said, “we are stronger than you!”








I love these three letters as a message of empowerment… DO IT YOURSELF! Strong and freeing, and also has become the go to for YouTube channels apparently. So many kids, adults, taking to the internet to display their many DIY talents. “Talents,” that my daughter has come to love!! And I mean LOVE!!

It is holiday time, and I took some time off, truly took time, not scheduling anything to be with my kids. I’m working on being still, but more often than not use to going, going, going, and doing… a lot! I do many tasks by myself because I’m extremely independent, but realize in this, I feel resentful at times, for the take away that occurs. and dependence I feel guilty wanting. Support, direction, help. Mostly because it’s not in my comfort zone.

I tell you this because with this DIY mentality, I see this trait in my 7 year old daughter, as well. She is wanting to be independent, wanting to figure out how to do things on her own. And sometimes at the expense of short cuts to complete a task, and becoming frustrated with the steps she misses, and then the outcome. The independence at times becomes a “take,” because she doesn’t always want to ask for help. Not because she can’t, but because she wants to do it by herself. She has become so interested in DIY everything, and though I see her creativity shine as she works to figure out ways to make things her own, I also see a thread of frustration as that fierce independence creates a focus more on the “do it yourself,” rather than the joy of the attempt.

My mom and sisters embrace this part of her, we all do, and so for the holidays, gifts given often supported her creative, DIY obsession. Also increasing that, “I’ll do it myself,” mentality. The mentality I know that I often lead with.

Last night, as I folded laundry, she pulled out a DIY lip gloss set, and began unboxing (A YouTube term she uses🤣), setting her table and supplies up, and without hesitation began to read what her steps were. So organized! I watched for a bit, and then asked, “is there anything I can do to help?”

“No mom, I want to try it by myself.” “But if you want to sit with me, and watch, I’d love that.”

So I did. I put down the laundry, and my phone (I’m trying to get better about that phone use), and pulled up a chair by her. And I watched. I watched as she observed her tools, her supplies, and read each step.

I watched her fierce independence, to pay attention to directions, but also to her own creativity. And to do the project on her own. I also watched as she slowly became frustrated that the lip gloss pods were not turning out like she had anticipated. And she was wanting me to see her doing this project “by herself.”

I asked again, “what can I do to be helpful?” And she declined help, wanting, I could tell, to figure it out. I also realized in this exchange, that I have modeled this response several times. “No I’ve got it.” “No worries, I’ll figure it out.” “I’ll do it, but thanks.” All while internally feeling irritated at the result.

I sat watching a few more minutes, and said.. ” liv, you are doing awesome, and I can see also getting a little frustrated. If you tell me what you are envisioning, and how I can support it, I’d be happy to be your assistant.”

She looked at me, and said, ” I just need you to… ” and once she asked for what she needed, she completed her DIY without any more hiccups.

Why am I telling you this!? Why is a DIY project part of my growth, and a lesson for my daughter?

Because it’s about awareness, the importance of trial and error, and reaching out for support when you need it. It’s learning that independence is not “doing it yourself,” but being aware of when independence, when doing a task is necessary and beneficial, and also when asking for support will be beneficial for independence.

The power of observation is something that I’m forever learning. The ability to see what we model, is carried on, and what we explore in ourselves, creates better outcomes.

DIY is about investing yourself, your time, your creativity. It’s not about doing it all alone. And that is empowering!


Camp and Rocks

” Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”


I bought this message on a key chain about a year ago, and thought it was the most clever reminder.  Take risks, be brave, and push yourself.  It has also been a surprising  tool of self forgiveness for my reactions.

I have a beautiful friend, who does beautiful things, and who has always pushed me to question myself, to check myself,  to love myself, and to forgive myself.  I don’t think she ever realized how much I wanted to be her friend when we met 20 years ago, and how big of an ass I was, letting her down in many ways in the early years,  not always “showing up.” like she did for me.  But still she was patient, and we supported each other through times of heartbreak.  And she chose me to be one of her boys godparents.  Such an honor.  She became part of my family, my tribe and I love her  and  I love her children!   Her children are kind, loving,  and genuine, and as my Olivia puts it, ” a real inspiration.”  I tell you all of this as a precursor to understanding why the key chain and my beautiful friend have a connection.  What it really means, and how another adventure with this group, this past weekend, pushed me to once again push myself, check myself, love myself, and forgive myself, and being able to experience life beyond that comfort zone.

What did you do???  Well, we simply went camping.  I know, what you’re thinking, “check yourself sister!” because camping is camping. It is in no way, beyond a comfort zone.  Stop being dramatic.

However,  If you know me, you are scratching your head, and silently mouthing.. “Sara, is not. a camper.” and you would be right.  SO right that it took my father, about 15 minutes of clarification on the phone, once we got home, to understand how this came to be, and if we would be doing it again ( as he laughed, and laughed a lot).   I’m still not sure he can wrap his mind around it.  I’m not sure I can either.

My husband on the other hand loves camping, grew up doing it, and would say its something he hoped our kids would want to do as well.  He also knows who he married, and though I am one to go with the flow,  he often didn’t push the idea,  and settled for “camping,” at a cabin on the edge of the woods, as close to the city as it could be.   Our kids however love adventures, and new adventures at that, and they love my friend and her boys.  So we did,  with my beautiful friend and her significant other as camp directors, and suppliers of all camping equipment (Thank you friends significant other)!  With cars packed up, gear in tow, we entered into the weekend expecting nothing and everything at the same time.

Get to the point Sara!!!!

The first night was a success, outside of the vault toilets and bugs.  Everyone slept and no one murdered me or my family, in our sleep as I feared.

Day two however is where the true “digging deep,” “going beyond my comfort zone,” and offering self forgiveness and grace felt way bigger than vault toilets and bugs, or “its just camping.”

We drove to Devils Lake, a beautiful hidden gem to me, but clearly a well known place of happiness to others.  We were packed with food, drinks, and inflatables, lots of inflatables for the kids to love the beach, and enjoy the water.  I was also emotionally and mentally packed with self doubt, self loathing, and shame, however didn’t quite realize it until I came to that edge, and here is where it gets real….

Discomfort #1:  ME IN A SWIMSUIT. Dumb I know, and all women at some point or another don’t love this piece of summer attire.   I go straight to self defeat, negative self talk, and humor.  I am not in the body I know or and I do not feel comfortable in my own skin, or my yoga pants for that matter.  To be honest, ‘m feeling a bit stuck in this place.  However instead of moving on, I found myself making jokes on how I looked, just to ensure everyone, that I knew, that they knew, that I knew, I had no business being in a swimsuit. I also had no business being on the paddle board (that I really wanted to try) until I was 40 pounds thinner,  and could confidently stand and paddle.  So I would gracefully sit and watch everyone with my yoga pants and tank top in the blazing heat, opting not to remove it to display my swimsuit underneath.


Lession #1:  They didn’t care, no one cared for that matter.  My family wanted me to show up, and to experience the day, the (damn) paddle board, and the moments that don’t show up over and over again when we let them go.  My beautiful friend also has a gift of not enabling my self loathing,  looked me in the eyes and said, ” we all have our things Sara.”  That’s it, plain and simple.  “We all have our things.”

I realized that discomfort was keeping me from being in that moment,

with my family, WITH MY KIDS, especially my kids, who just wanted me in the water.  And who really wanted me  on that paddle board. To go beyond my comfort zone,  and have an experience.  SO I did! I walked out into the water, and each step became easier, I became less internal and self loathing, and  I got on the paddle board with my friend.  Just the two of us out on the water, paddling around a snapping turtle, talking, laughing, and taking in the moments, the day, a day  we would never get back again, and I saw my kids smile.  I saw my kids see me doing something that felt brave to them, something different and exciting, and confident.  Which hopefully allowed them, allows them to do the same.

Discomfort #2:  HIKING.  Now let me preface this a bit, I enjoy hiking, but I DO NOT ENJOY HEIGHTS! And if I’m being real, I’m terrified of heights.  I however work constantly to not “give in to the fear,” and will admit probably push myself more that I need to, fearing that my children and family will miss out if I give in to it, or that it will become an unnecessary fear of theirs.  We had planned on hiking and spending the day at the beach, and when the trail idea was originally brought up, the description from my beautiful friend and her significant other was, ” its up hill most of the way, but its amazing.”  Her significant other also added in later ” I kept myself close to the side when taking pictures the last time we did it, and I’ll wait for you all this time around.”

Mistake #1 on my part, not asking clarifying questions.

Best choice #1 on my part, not asking clarifying questions.

This hike was indeed up hill the entire way, and not only up hill, but climbing up rock formations, that appeared to have trail like qualities. Repeat that last part, trail LIKE qualities, but not a trail in anyway shape or form.

Discomfort #3 :  Remember how I told you I hate heights, this was high, and there were no rails or structures around to be supported by, if you take a wrong step, danger is very real.

Discomfort #4:  My 9 year old and 7 year old were climbing as well, and I was frozen in a way that I questioned how I could help them if I couldn’t help myself.  Emotionally that is.

Discomfort #5: I’m out of shape, and embarrassed at being so in front of my husband, children, friend, and her children.

Discomfort #6: I am climbing this trail up and this climbing down no matter what because I will not let fear win.   I also am so stubborn, that no one is going to see me give up, especially my kids.

SO… we kept moving,  me behind everyone, feeling shame for not holding my kids hands and keeping them close to protect them, shame for my husband having to take my son, and my beautiful friend and her boys taking my daughter.  and at one point in a small enclosed pocket of rocks, shame for beginning to cry, beginning to get so caught up in my head that I felt my throat get heavy,  my body freeze, and fear and panic take over.   My husband looked back, and could see what was occurring, and yelled back to me, “Baby, how are you doing.”  This angered me, and through the panic I thought ” Don’t talk to me or ask me that out loud! I’m strong and brave, and I can do hard things.”  but truly was angry at him for not being scared, and for the shame I felt in not keeping up, and not holding on to my kids.  I tried to take a deep breath, and answered back, ” I am fine, keep going, and let me be, I’m taking it one step at a time.”  At this point I looked up, and saw my 9 year old and 7 year old crying, and became even more self loathing and ashamed, thinking what I was taking away from them in that moment, how I was making them scared, and had limited ability in that moment to react differently.

Lesson #2:  My beautiful friend said it best, ” all of them, all of us are amazing.  I think we they give something of confidence to the other, big or small, older or younger… they just fit together so well.  We climbed all the way up, and we climbed all the way down, and instead of thinking, “this is okay, I am not feeling strong right now, I am scared, and its okay that my babies see that, even if it is in their mom.  I went to shame, and shame is not supportive, its destructive.  Through  that experience, my kids were also seeing me offer myself time, grace, and the ability to succeed despite fear, to keep moving, even if I needed to release the fear and stress in tears.  And my husband was offering me the ability to be vulnerable on my own time.

My beautiful friend’s youngest son was encouraging, supporting, and comforting my kids, while her oldest, my godson, was my walking stick, my support down the rocks.  And we did and do all fit together, offering strength and confidence to complete the goal.  We, I walked close to the end edge that day, feeling so much discomfort as a person, a parent, a friend, and spouse, but the outcome was so worth it.  And as we came down, each was waiting for the other with hugs and high fives.

Lesson #3:  What is bravery to me, will be second nature to someone else, but we all get a choice in what we push ourselves to be.  Personal expectations, and the ability to feel fear, shame, pride, joy, and accomplishment, all in the same day, hour, and moment is possible.  And everything is temporary, we can change our minds, we can participate, and we can take a pass. Choose wisely.  Take a breath, go all in,  let go, and know in doing so, ” life does begin at the end of your comfort zone.”


What am I doing?

Do you ever have a thought, and then someone says,” what are you waiting for?”  I use to offer a very clear, “this is what I am waiting for, and then 1001 reasons why it was a bad idea, why it wouldn’t go anywhere, and why I wasn’t the lady for the job.  Then one day, I decided to put me and my family first, quit my job and opened a private practice, seeing women experiencing post partum, individuals struggling to make sense of new thoughts and change in their lives, losses and gains, and families/couples wondering what ever made them connect, and will they ever connect again.   Then another day, I decided, I love yoga so much! I love how it makes me feel, I love the people I connect with, I love that I find people who become part of my tribe because hey get me, and so I signed up to complete a 200 hour yoga teacher training.   Who is this person?  And what am I doing?  I continue to decide that if I listen, and real hard to my third eye, my gut!  The one thing that usually leads us all in a pretty good space, I do okay.  I feel fear and worry, but I come across the bridge, and feel success and pride too.  So yet another day, I decide that I love a make up line so much, and why not love it so much you promote it and maybe connect a few amazing people to that feeling I get using it.  So I did, I signed up to be a Beautycounter consultant, because will my face didn’t burn the day I chose it, and that felt super! Super amazing and safe and good….

Then the day came that my daughter, Olivia, my sweet gentle olive branch said, “mom I am so proud of you and I love so much that you teach yoga and you help my tummy feel calm.”  And that was the day, I started Olive Branch Yoga.  For my daughter ( and my son) and for the empowerment, solace, and breath it brings me, and allows me to bring to them, and to others.  And that, well that feels like goodness, and something worth sharing.


Did you expect that? or did I?

I have been thinking a lot about expectations. What do expectations mean, how many I have in a day, and whether or not I’m setting them, or if someone else is.  I think we can agree, we all have them; expectations, but some of us are better with how we navigate them.

I read an awesome article about expectations, and after found myself, observing myself ever so closely.  When I would become disappointed, or irritable about what was occurring in my environment, I  would think, ” did I create this, or did someone create it for me.”  And what I found, I was creating A LOT of them!!!

Take for example the parking lot at Target. I am expecting that everyone will pull into their parking spot, quickly and efficiently get out of their car, not hitting my car mind you, and walk briskly into Target without stopping, with their door open, blocking the exit from my car while they check if they have their wallet.  I also expect that when I tell my 6 year old, “Mommy’s going to sit for 30 minutes and do some work,”  that she will not begin blowing up balloons, and then proceed to let the air release as slow and (loud) as possible while watching a cartoon.  I expect this right! because my agenda looks very different, and quite frankly I didn’t think my agenda through in any way shape or form because I expect others to know it. I expect that the lady at Target knows I am in a hurry to pick my kids up from school so I need to get out, get in to Target, and get on my way. And I expect that my daughter knows I need quiet because I can’t concentrate when she is blowing and deflating balloons, so that I don’t have to do the task I’m trying to complete after my kids go to bed, because well, I want to go to bed.   But why would they know this?  better yet why should they know this?  They are not privied to my thought process despite me thinking they are, or better yet should be.

I have found that if I stop and think about, “what is happening in the situation,” “why or how it is  causing me this feeling,”  it often (not always) often comes back to, “I’m setting  high or unrealistic expectations of myself, others, or my time.” And it most always ends in a way that creates my body to feel stressed or my reaction to situations and others to be filled with irritation.

I know what you’re thinking,  “Great Sara, so proud of you for figuring this out.” (eye roll)  AND… I know the second thing you are thinking, “if we don’t have expectations, how are we suppose to have outcomes?”  This might shock you, but  I don’t believe the two necessarily go together.  Obviously this can  be argued as well, but hear me out a second.

My expectation of the lady next to my at Target and my daughter are the same, “I have something to accomplish and you are standing in the way of it.”  But they are not standing in the way of my outcome.  I still get into Target and still complete the task on the computer, whether or not I am doing it slowly or while listening the spit sounds my daughter is making while blowing up a balloon.  My expectation however is set for me, not them, and in setting those expectations, I am setting others up to be the roadblock, instead of looking at the situation as a time of joy and rest.

  1.  The lady taking one extra minute to check her purse= me having one more extra minute to breath.
  2. My daughter trying to blow up a balloon while I’m stressing out over a schedule change=a moment to stop, acknowledge her excitement when she actually blows the balloon up for the first time.

I realize setting a structure to an event or our days is important, but it is also important to set the expectations for yourself, not others.  Your timeline is not someone else’s, and if you are expecting others to “just know,” what you need, “just know” that you are in a hurry, or “just know” that you are feeling a kind of way.  Then you or (I) should ” Just know”  we are going to be disappointed every time.

Expectations by definition is ” a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.”  ” a BELIEF that someone will or should achieve something.  But the best part the synonym to expectation is “assumption,” “supposition,” “hope.”

Let’s focus on two words in that paragraph, “BELIEF and HOPE.”  And if I am placing the expectation on myself, I believe and hope I will accomplish a task or goal, but I should work to Believe or hope for MYSELF because others are NOT expected to make my expectations come true.

Stop, Observe, Breath, and ACHIEVE.

  Peace begins when expectation ends  -Sri Chinmoy



A Crisp Breath


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We all say it, “summer flew by!” This summer truly did, and I can say it was both a great summer of incredible growth, and an exhausting summer of time management, mom guilt, and playing a mad game of chess with my schedule.

I decided this summer that I would commit to turning my love of practicing yoga into a love of teaching as well.  I completed my RYT 200 hour teacher training through Green Lotus Healing and Wellness Center, and immersed myself in 3 months of intense learning and practice.   They say life begins at the end of your comfort zone, and man was I at the end of the end of mine.  I showed up though, worked my program, and truly gave all of me, mind, body, and soul to a practice, an incredible teaching that I love so much.  I will forever be a student, and I tell my clients this all the time.  We are always learning, always growing, and always experiencing moments of complete discomfort that will catapult us to the next level.  Always striving to be better, more knowledge, and aware for not only ourselves and our families, but for those we work with.  When you stop learning, you truly stop showing up in everyway.

I experienced change, and a community of women, who truly became my sisters, all of us supporting and celebrating one another.  I also experienced intense mom guilt for the time spent away from my kids, and working to maintain a supportive space and schedule for my practice and clients.  We learn that nothing can be done 100% all of the time, something, someone is going to suffer a little bit in the midst of change and growth.  This use to cause me such anxiety, feeling as if I wasn’t doing everything at my very best self.  Its impossible, and that is okay!  Its okay, to show up for ourselves more than we may show up in other ways because in the end, showing up in that way, offers greatness for all the other areas of life.  Its a constant eb and flow, and an ability to let go, ride the wave, knowing it will go out just as much as it will come back in.  We learn and relearn that it is best practice to breath, jump on, and follow the wave (whatever it may be) wherever it goes. And be okay to surrender in that moment, along with the discomfort it brings. And it may bring a lot. But you know what, “THAT’S OKAY!”

I ended the summer with a crisp breath, more thoughtful, more connected, and more ready to offer a foundation of strength, support, and change for not only myself, but those I cross paths with day in and day out.  My kids were offered a window into growth and transformation for their mom, and a message of, ” we never stop growing, taking risks, and feeling uneasy.”  It’s in these moments we breath in the crisp air, offer an intention, and tell ourselves, ” I can do anything I put my mind to, and I will feel each feel along the way.”


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Great Teachers

At times the life of a mother, in whatever sense that is, feels like the day starts out, often running a marathon.  Alarm goes off, and the race begins.  We may lay in bed saying to ourselves, in what seems to now be a mantra, how am I going to get up, get myself ready, make breakfast, get my kids up, and get them ready, eating, and out the door in enough time.  Go, mom, Go!!

We as human beings have an overwhelming sense at times, to run through our days, out loud, so that our children or anyone for that matter, can truly appreciate all that goes on in our world on a given day.  A hero’s tale, really of how each minute of each day was filled with something, and the energy, grace, and perseverance it takes to make it all appear easy and successful.  We would enjoy validation for essentially the marathon we run every morning, without a great deal of training.  As adults we learn, (or I hope we learn) how to be flexible,  risk takers, and move through the day, ready to meet any obstacle our marathon may throw at us.  Truth be told, some of us have a difficult time, and the anxieties of change, unknowns, and failure seep in with an overwhelming vengeance.  As an adult, how do I cope in a way that feels productive and in control, while my inner self would like to stop the marathon, and wait on the sideline for relief.   What would be so bad about that?  Saying, “today, no matter how many risks I take, how hard I try, if I can’t, I won’t, and that is enough.  Why is that difficult to say out loud?  I often talk to my clients about looking those feelings in the eyes, sitting with them, maybe even becoming acquaintances, and being present with the discomfort, but also with the trying as best I can, even if that means not fully going the distance.

We are seeing more of our young people diagnosed with anxiety  or depression, and more of the days being filled with sensory overload activities, technology, and limited free time.  We read it everywhere, “your kids are over scheduled,” and “our lives are set with events to the hour.”  I agree with this,  and I, too am very guilty of it, but I also feel there is another issue.  Are we teaching our children that risk taking is empowering,  that pushing yourself to do new, and scary things is important and amazing, but also teaching them to say it out loud.  To say, “I feel scared,” “I don’t think I can do it.” “I need…”   Do we over schedule but also give ourselves and our kids that ability to use their voice, our voice, and ask ” how I am feeling, what needs to be reevaluated, or what do I need to feel supported to complete this?”  Essentially, own the fear, own the discomfort, and say it loud and proud!  because this too is part of being a successful.   It is also about being vulnerable to the possibility of  failure, doing it average, not the best, or not at all.

My  children have always been flexible with change, easy to move from one thing to the next as little ones, without a lot of complaints.  I have always worked, and they have always attended daycare.  And when I wanted more activity for them to gain experience, they happily moved to sporting activities, piano lessons, and karate, meeting and connecting to new people and things.  Great! right?  Well, not really.   What this has done, is given me a false sense of “if I want them to try it, they will love it, and will have no fear.”  That changed for me today, and the reality of “practice what you preach” was in my face.  I was given a new picture of risk taking today, and realized what a teacher young people can be.  Today my son said to me, “mom I was so nervous two times this weekend, I mean tummy in my neck nervous.”  I asked him to explain, and he proceeded to tell me two times I completely took for granted, and to be honest, was likely rushing him in and out of the car to get to them.  He started, “well the first was testing for my belt in front of a lot of people.  And the second was my piano recital. Performing a song I memorized.”  Do we know our kids, our friends kids, our nieces and nephews, or grandchildren are amazing people?  Yes!  Of course we do.  But do we really stop to think about the amount of things they have to do in a day, often not being asked, “would you like to be in an activity,” rather than “you are signed up, it will be so fun!”  and then how much energy are they putting into not only risk taking, but doing it in a way that appears at times effortless and part of the activity.  I realize we have to connect children to things so they can connect to an interest.  But there is also a benefit as their voices grow louder and stronger, in asking and processing feelings about the newness or intensity.

Today again, like I do in my office, I saw my son this time in a way that offered a great amount of vulnerability and strength, and also risk taking.  And he didn’t say a word about it until after he finished both tasks.  There is a truth to children being over scheduled… all of us over scheduled for that matter, but it is a different day and time than when we grew up.  And are children are taking risks because we as parents, maybe want our kids to know better, to do better, and be confident and fearless.  But let us not forget that though activity is good, even better is the message that the greatest risk takers, are vulnerable, sit in discomfort and fear, and know when it is okay to sit on the sidelines to regroup for a minute.  To own the feelings, be proud of their great strength but also their great weakness,  at the same time, and move through the importance of using their voice to also express, today I just want to watch from the sideline.


Readiness for Gratitude

    Gratitude is a sweet word.  Looks real pretty when you see it on a piece of paper, and if you say it slowly, kinda rolls off the tongue.  It’s also a word loaded with a lot of stuff.  A lot of being ready…..

I  had two trips planned for late March, and early April.  The first one,  spring break with my husband and kids.  A road trip like the ones I took as a kid, but this time we were riding in style, you know the crumb filled SUV vs. the cramped Lincoln town car we took when I was growing up.  My kids SHOULD be grateful they are riding in style, and have space, without their siblings elbow in one ear, and fast food leftovers in the other.  And I SHOULD be grateful we can all be together.  My second trip was a girls weekend in Arizona, sitting by the pool,  enjoying some self care and spa time, and attempting to hike a mountain….that is a whole other blog post.  I, in this case SHOULD be grateful for the time, ability to go away, and beautiful friends to share sun and laughter for two full days, while the rest of my family is at home ripping and running to get to school and activities.  As you can see, SHOULD is the stand out word in all these cases.

As a human being, we spend a lot of time planning for things, events that SHOULD evoke memories, good feelings, and moments of kindness to ourselves to others, but most often the “UGH,” and “ARGH” take over.

Gratitude is a sweet word, yes, but also a word that by definition is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”  How do you interpret meaning?  I have always thought of gratitude to be projected onto another, not often onto myself or my own experiences.  And to be honest at times, trying to find the “appreciation,” in something that also can trigger stress in planning, and in the pocket book can be difficult.  We often tell our children they should be grateful or appreciative of events, but our modeling as adults does not always go hand in hand.  Gratitude begins and ends with us, and looking deep into the word and meaning, begins to ask the question, “are you kind to yourself, your experiences.”  and “am I thankful for the moment?”

Both of my experiences were wonderful,  filled with laughter and spontaneous moments, and experiences that pictures on Instagram couldn’t do justice.   I loved every bit of each, but was  not filled with gratitude, and definitely did not show kindness to myself the way I show it to those I love or clients I work to support.  This takes practice, to stay in the moment, capture memories, and emotions that are simple and related to the action without getting caught up in the next thing, or how I feel about myself.   I realized in both these experiences, our moments of gratitude are our moments.   They are taking the time to not capture photos to prove to facebook ” I am having fun,” but to prove to self that I can connect in moments of stress, in moments of frustration to those things that also bring love, laughter, and self awareness.  I am thankful for the stress of planning and moments of laughter that bind me to myself and others because I was present, and showing myself kindness because I was out there, appreciating the time and experience. We are not always ready or prepared, most times we won’t be, but in taking the time to be available, be thankful, kind, to ourselves for showing up… those are moments of true gratitude.


…..Yeah, but.

Image result for talking

“Yes! I’m listening, but….”

Have you ever talked to another person,  and become so distracted by the quivering of their lips?  I’m not talking, sad quivering, I’m talking, the quivering where you know they are dying! absolutely dying! to say something the moment you stop talking.  Or they actually do, and start by giving you an answer when you weren’t asking a question.  We all know that person, people, and at the end of those conversations, walk away feeling unheard and frustrated.  Like the big thought bubble is completely empty, because truly, there was no exchange of information. You were talking, but no one was really listening, and because no one was really listening, you disengaged.  At every stage of development there is a common thread, we are asked, ” are you listening,” told to “please listen,” and demanded, ” why aren’t you listening to me?”  The golden thread is listen, but no one truly defines what that means, or how to do it.

Listening is a behavior, an action, and with both of those one learns from a young age how to do it well, selectively, or not at all.  Now, yes there is some in between, and we can’t all listen  and listen well 100% of the time.  Let’s be honest, my kids saying, ” Mom, mom, mommy, mama…” over and over, I may stop listening.  But truly listening with intent, and purpose without having your hand on the “go” button for your turn, takes learning.

As a therapist, my sole job is to listen, be in the present moment, and hold space for another person to share, express, and process thoughts and questions.  Listening, but also hearing what is being said, or not being said for that matter.   Working to support a client in connecting dots, finding patterns, and triggers, and working toward a solution that feels attainable and productive. My job is not to tell my client what is the solution, or sit, mouth quivering until they stop talking, to give an answer that I think sounds fantastic.  That. is. and. never. will. be. helpful!   For anyone.   I am listening.  Hearing and observing.  I am not anticipating when it is my time, but instead hearing the words to invest in a connection.

I hear clients, be it individuals, teenagers, new mamas, or couples, talk about communicating their wants and thoughts, and not feeling heard. Not feeling like those they love, have relationships with, or work for, are hearing them or acknowledging what they are saying, asking for, or needing.  But instead are waiting for their turn to debate, contradict, redirect, or offer a solution.  Maybe, just maybe all you want to do is vent, feel heard and validated for the feelings and emotions you are having, be acknowledged for the idea you are taking a risk to share, or offered credit because maybe just maybe you truly know what you are talking about.

Full disclosure, I struggled for many years in my teens, to feel confident in my thoughts and idea because often in school,  even if I was talking, my information was not being heard. Risk taking to offer an idea or answer a question was exchanged for observation and agreeing with others, when I truly did not feel the same way.  Over the years, I learned to invest in the power of observation, and agreeing turned into questioning, and questioning turned into  opinions.  I learned that listening is an action of intent and connection, and working to slow down in all areas of our lives to not only observe ourselves, but others, and what they are really saying may entail.

  1. Am I listening more than I am speaking?:  Slow down, disengage from what you “have to say, ” or the point you have to get across.  Sometimes being able to be quiet, connect, and hear what is being relayed works to slow down your thinking so that your answer is about what is actually being shared, not what you want to be heard back.  In talking I define, and in listening I connect.
  2. Observation is powerful!  Listening is about being quiet, but it is also about the visual presentation, the environmental triggers, and what another persons body language is telling you in that moment in time. Its about observing self as well.  How am I physically feeling, and what are my triggers.
  3. It isn’t always about getting your point across:  Listening is not about keeping score, not about checking off tasks, and definitely not about how much more you know another.  If you are listening to another thinking these things, you might as well cover your ears and smile.  The other party will benefit more:)   But really are you acknowledging what the person is saying, and working to connect to the “behind the scene” meanings. Someone will always know more than you, and that is okay, awesome actually, but listening to what someone is saying (verbally and visually), is so important! Working to not always have a check list in your mind, or task list that YOU are trying to get across, but instead  listening with intent, knowledge, and connection in whatever way that may be, can be beneficial.

What are we teaching ourselves, our children about listening?  If I take myself for example, when my kids are talking to me, am I stopping, looking them in the eye, and engaging?    Or am I moving, multitasking, and answering or commenting at times in a way that makes little sense to the question they asked or story they are telling.  We learn from a young age how to listen and engage, how to communicate and get our point across.  The way those skills are modeled or acknowledged in our environment is what becomes comfortable and “right,” and in turn can work to impact relationships and connections without being aware of why. Listening is a life skill, a privilege to be heard and connected to, and its in taking the time to stop, look someone in the eye, and truly connect to what is being said.  Its about holding space for gaining knowledge, offering insight, or inviting a good vent session.  What it is not, is an opportunity to be heard without offering equal opportunity to another.


I Think I Remember Me, Us…

Life can be fast and furious! Filled with the most amazing experiences, heart wrenching moments that can take your breath away, and day to day hustle!  In the middle of it all, are moments to connect to where we find individual purpose, enjoyment, and those things we call our own.   Married or single, as we grow older, life transitions and experiences recreate our person, and our partnerships with others.

What happens that one morning when you wake up feeling disconnected.  Disconnected from yourself,  your environment, and even your partner.  I have clients tell me, ” I found myself connected to my children, what they were doing moment to moment, how I could fulfill their needs, and the needs of their school community and extra-curricular activities, however at the end of the day as I laid my head, I thought… who is this person next to me, and who am I? ”  As a therapist, working with couples, I should know how to do this, and know how to do it well, right?  Wrong. And that is what I say to those I work with.   We are all human, and the disconnect that occurs in the middle of relationships, marriage, children growing up, work, and working to make time for others, the “I,” and “We,” we once did really well, gets lost.  Whose fault is this?  No ones!  It’s the middle of life, the hard part, where each and every one of us works hard to keep our head up as high as we can, and just keep charging the mountain.  The mountain of many obligations, emotions, and activities, and those days of “let’s go to dinner,” turn into days ending, asleep on the couch as soon as the kids are finally in bed.  It’s the time in life where as women and men, we long to reconnect to our individual self and interests, and reasons why we chose each other, but in all reality, this may be the last on the list of “to dos.”

We as human beings are built to be a pair, we are supposed to connect with another, we are supposed to find a partner, to experience life with whatever that may bring, and be able to connect in a way that feels unconditional and supported.  This is not reality, however and the “supposed to,” we were fed or not fed while growing up, turns into a tedious task, a checklist at times added to the day to day.  The reminder, I am an individual first!!

I sit across from my clients, and ask, “what brought you together,” “What were the turning points.” And “where do you want to be …”  This is a loaded question because it takes thought, reminiscing, and being present, and all those pieces take time, energy, and emotion.  “And how can I answer that when I don’t have time for any of those things.”

We were all someone pretty amazing as individuals, and partnering with another was “suppose,” to make me, us even more amazing.  The part we forget, however is the most important part, the part that if we really acknowledge it, feels selfish and unproductive.  Who am I? and where do I start?

Communication! Communication is something most of us think we do well, and when it comes down to it, we are doing the bare minimum, the basic interaction or conversation to check in.  How was your day?  How are the kids?  What’s for dinner?  We begin to lose track of the purposeful moments, and the deep, effective communication that allows us to not only check in with ourselves, but with our partner, and in a way that engages emotion, being in the present, and creating intimacy with not only ourselves but those we want so much to feel connected to.  When is the last time you sat across from your partner, and really talked about what you wanted, who you were, who “we are?” and how you have not only changed as individuals over time, but as a couple without talking about kids, work, and meal planning.  It’s difficult, and may feel uncomfortable, but it is so important for connection and growth.  You were an “I,” before you were a “we,” and taking time to acknowledge when there is more space than you would like, is not only beneficial, it is essential.   When was the last time, you looked in the mirror at yourself, and asked “who am I now, this amazing person I have lost for a bit, but am working to effectively communicate needs, wishes, and wants to, in a way that uplifts me first, to be the best me I can be in a partnership and family.  To truly be present, and effectively communicate the things that connect, reconnect, and create ongoing growth, one needs to take time to be still in the discomfort of change, and open to taking a risk that I, we are different.  Taking the time to stop and acknowledge how communication, reflection, and being in the moment, the here and now can turn those questions into answers for a renewed self, a renewed “we.”