Archive for September, 2011

A Dream Realized

Two years ago I set a date and a plan in place to realize a dream of mine.

And now, here it is, after stops and starts, edits, writing, re-writing, waiting, a few tears, staring at the words until they swam in front of my eyes, obsessing about the placement of periods, which pictures to choose, what to say yes to, what to say no to and so much more… a book of my very own, with an ISBN number and everything!

I remember being out of college and working a second job at Barnes and Noble and there were so many times that I would hold a book in my hands, feel its weight, smell its pages, touch the front cover reverently thinking, someday…

And today is that day!

So much more to say, to share, to talk about… but for now… this… this moment is enough.

I am off to dance, celebrate and revel in the fact that I did it.

Thanks for all your love and support!

Click here to order a copy of your very own!



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I have long believed that everyone at some point in their lives should go to therapy.  I think as long as you live your life in this world, you are bound to experience love, loss, belonging, feeling adrift, finding your purpose and wandering aimlessly.  Gifted therapists are worth their weight in gold and can help you find your way back to yourself when life pulls you a little off course.

After getting off the phone with my coach this last session I am even more convinced that everyone needs a life coach too.

The way I see it therapy looks to the past, releases you from it’s hold and invites you to begin to see a new way of life.  Coaching is the plan for your new life, it is an invitation to participate in building, creating and falling in love with your life.  The first time we talked my coach JoAnna
said that what she does is simple-  “I help people fall in love with their lives”.  I think that sums it up perfectly, and I haven’t come across a better definition.

My friends have been asking all sorts of questions about working with a coach, what is it like, is it worth it, what do you do?  And I thought I would share some of the things that keep running through my mind and the things that I think after I hang up the phone:

  • Of course!  It all (or at least most of it!) makes sense now.

There is something magical about having someone to listen to you, to have their sole purpose to help you untangle the threads of your life.  Someone there to be a compassionate witness, someone to help you through your stuck places, to see you through your struggle and celebrate your growth.

  • She is like a friend on steroids.

I enjoy our conversations.  I hang up feeling like I can tackle the world, and even better I have the action steps and goals to do it.  Her sole purpose is to help me get where I want to go and to be a cheerleader in the process.  There is something incredibly affirming about investing in yourself enough to purchase a cheering section for solely for you.  I still need my friends and family who are in my corner, waving wildly and smiling broadly, but there is something about having someone suit up on a regular basis for your game plan that is priceless.

  • I have honored my commitment.

When she first asked if I was willing to make the commitment to myself, to my dreams, to falling in love with my life I said yes… but I realized after hanging up that I really wasn’t sure.  To say yes meant that I had to show up, I had to put my money where my mouth was.  To say yes meant that I believed in me enough to commit to an investment, it meant I had to say no to excuses, yes to me.  Every two weeks I had to say yes, I worked on these things, or no I didn’t… in reality the only person that I was truly committing to was me, she got paid regardless of whether I did or didn’t do my part… but knowing that I was going to answer to another human created a different level of responsibility.  Before this commitment I kept talking about what I was going to change, what I was “going” to do, but there was always something that got in the way. And until you make that commitment “something” will always be in the way.  I finally realized that the world will not stop for me to grow/change/grieve/stretch etc..  So I needed to figure out how to grow in the midst of my life.

  • I have been challenged.

Although we laugh, although I always leave feeling better that I started, that isn’t to say that we don’t talk about tough stuff, that we don’t delve through the mucky stories that I tell myself to keep me rooted in fear and stuck in old patterns.  Part of her job is to gently challenge, to reframe and invite me to see an old problem/issue/habit in a new way…  and this is where the dance of past, present and future happens… uprooting old ways of thinking, inviting new patterns and habits and dreaming of possibility.

  • Wow, I did that.

In our sessions it is very clear that it isn’t just about to do lists, and tasks to check off, but part of the session is always devoted to celebrating what has been done.  It is important to take a moment to recognize all of the action steps in moving forward, it is about enjoying the process, not just the end goal.  And so often I found myself moving forward always in anticipation of the “end”, whatever that may be.  But this has helped to remind me to celebrate and honor the process too.

  • Clarity and Focus

There is something that happens in our conversations that helps to bring clarity and focus to what I want, to how I am going to get there.  By asking insightful questions, by offering different ways to look at something suddenly things seem to make a little more sense.

My book will be coming out in the next two weeks, and I know that part of the reason that it is finally here is because I said yes to investing in my life.  And without a doubt saying yes to coaching has transformed my life.  I have heard that time and time again from people who have done it. Mentoring, coaching etc., it goes by many names, but the outcome is often the same- breaking through fear, leaping into a life you love, celebrating new accomplishments and investing in the most valuable commodity- YOU!

What are you ready to invest in?  What parts of you need nurturing, unraveling, truth-telling, hope and kindness?

I invite you to consider coaching as a way to stretch just a little beyond your comfort zone.  See what coaching/dreaming/emerging/stretching might do for you.  Most coaches (myself included) will offer a complementary session to see if you will work well together.

For more information on my coaching philosophy click here.

For more information on my coach JoAnna (who just happens to be fabulous!) click here.

And if you are just ready to mull over some good questions try these:

10 Questions That Have No Right to Go Away- David Whyte

Or e-mail me and I will send you a pdf of 50 Powerful Coaching Questions– compassioninallthings – at- gmail.com


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Yesterday I woke up to a call from a friend who was in the midst of deep emotional pain.  It was the ending of a relationship, a packing of their life shared into little boxes.  And to no ones surprise she was reminded that life doesn’t fit so neatly into boxes.  There is the unexpected running into momentos, pictures, moments that they had shared, milestones that were celebrated, and now the untangling. The unraveling of lives that had been woven together for the better part of a decade.  Loss, grief and pain were consuming her and darkening her field of vision.

An hour later I was in the salon waiting for my first client.  And as he rose with difficulty his eyes met mine, only they weren’t the same eyes I had looked into the last time I saw him.  This time his eyes were clouded, full of fear and pain.

As he walked slowly, gingerly back to the massage table he was sharing about his back pain.  The fear of the next spasm- the pain that would bring him to his knees, the unpredictability of it, the intensity of it and how his life in the past two weeks had been closed down, reduced to the bare essentials- his life darkened by pain.

Pain- emotional, physical, both bound by it, both deep in the middle of it… both scared of the spasms… both afraid of what comes next… what unsuspecting move or discovery would bring back the blinding pain.

For both the same remedy… touching the tender places, touching gently at first, finding the edge of the pain, finding the borders and the cause, re-introducing the body and the heart to touch that won’t cause pain, breathing in and out, finding safety for sore muscles, for broken hearts.

Both left in different places… both remembering that they are more than their pain, that there was life before, there will be life after- but for now life requires gentleness, modifications of various sorts.  Both require lots of rest and water, getting rid of the toxins, clearing out the residue of fear, and learning to trust again.

Trusting the body, trusting the heart, trusting the healing.

And again it comes back a simple recipe for healing…


Listen to the pain

Attend with gentleness

Find safety for the hurting places

Trust in the process

Seek out comfort

Look for the healing

Once the pain has opened up the way for the new beginning look to the path stepping one foot in front of another.

Keep breathing.

Pain is the one thing that we spend so much of our time avoiding, keeping the house at just the right temperature, keeping ourselves away from any element that might create mess in any form.  Yet, the best of life happens in the mess.  Often the moments of greatest stretching and growth happen in the moment of tension between our comfort zone and the beginning of pain.  Sometimes these moments are ones we consciously invite, and sometimes they are moments that are forced upon us.

Either way we still choose how we respond to pain.  Do we breathe into it, or as Brene Brown talks about “lean into the discomfort.” Or do we constrict our lives, allowing fear to have us focus only the darkness.

It is my hope that you put your faith in the crack of light, that little shaft that breaks through to show us the way back to the light in our life.  My hope that you would trust in healing, trust that as John O’Donohue reminds us “You are more than your pain.”

“Even though life may have moved wearily and painfully through such a person, they have still managed not to let it corrode their soul. In such a face a lovely luminosity shines out into the world. It casts a tender light that radiates a sense of wholeness and wholesomeness.”

John O’Donohue,

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

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Bittersweet and sacred…

Annabelle and "Dotda" on her first day of school

So this will be the first time in this place that I talk about my brother.

August and September are hard months now… they have been for the past four years.

Four years ago at 6am August 7, 2007 my parents called me to say that I had to come home to Minnesota, that Mitch had been in an accident and he wouldn’t be coming home.  On September 15, 2007 his daughter Annabelle was born.

Every year is different with grief, each year it is something different that hits you.  For me the first year was pure shock, the first year was devoted to the all-consuming grief, as Joan Didion so aptly puts it “The Year of Magical Thinking”.  Then the second year it sinks in and life finds it’s way in the cracks and for brief moments I found myself smiling again, making plans for the future again, enjoying bits and pieces of my life, then it feels like from the third year on it is a random hit or miss thing.  Things that used to bother me don’t, and the things I never thought would do… it makes it difficult to predict, and if you can’t predict you can’t control, which for someone who is learning to make peace with the fact that I liked to completely control my life makes me feel out of control and easily overwhelmed.

This translates into exhaustion and desperately wanting off the roller coaster ride of grief.  And quite simply to be done, after all it has been four years, the tears have been cried, the milestones have been lived through, isn’t that enough.  There are moments that it is too tiring and I am desperate to be completely healed, or just simply break… but instead I find myself in this middle place, in my own In-Between (and not the irony isn’t lost on me)… realizing how far I have come, but also being reminded how tender my heart still is.  Sometimes surprised by how quickly the tears can come, and sometimes even more surprised by how they didn’t or won’t.

I didn’t have my words for the past few weeks… and they are coming frustratingly slowly, and haltingly, and for those who know me well know that means I am irritable, frustrated, quiet and crabby.  Words are how I make sense of the world, and instead I was brought back to that place of numbness, of not engaging, of doing everything but sitting in front of the blank page to figure out what threads were begin tugged, what buttons were being pushed and what parts of my heart needed to be held more gently.

And then here it was, in the mail, my authors copy of my book, what I have been waiting for.  And with it are a million to do’s, blogs to write, posters to make, book signing parties to plan, people to tell, e-mails to send, stories to share, high fives to be given, moments to be celebrated and yet… this moment I have waited so long for I felt this shadow, this weight, this otherness…

And here it was on the calendar, all these dates, milestones and reminders that Mitch isn’t here to celebrate with us.

And that is the piece about grief, the bittersweet part… life continues on… even after the loss.
Light finds it’s way into the corners of your heart and you begin to feel again a little at a time.
But yet, there is that place in me, in my body, in my heart that remembers, that knows even before I do what day it is.

To have it be so near to 9/11 where for the United States there is a collective grief, to have so many reminders of loss on Facebook pages, the television, the blogs, everyone asking “where were you?”.  It makes it harder to avoid and simultaneously reminds me how true the words that I scrawled on a napkin after reading the quote somewhere “Grief is universal, grieving is individual.”

And the other day I finally started my words:
Annabelle started preschool 
I went, Mitch didn’t.
The book is here. 
Mitch isn’t. 
But yet it wouldn’t be without grief breaking me open. 
So bittersweet.. 
All of it. 
Not one without the other, all intertwined, grief and growth, love and loss, moving forward and remembering backward… 
This crazy, beautiful, sad, amazing, breathtaking, wonderful life.

And this time I fought less, and listened more to the grief, I surrendered more quickly and remembered that sometimes I just have to stop.

Grief has reminded me:

To listen.

To pay attention.

To hold myself more gently.

To know that four years later, it will still hurt, and there will be moments.

To know that sometimes I won’t have words, but to trust that the words will always come.

To know that I am surrounded by people who find their way to my side at just the right times.

Mitch and I

From my old blog on Feb. 16th of 2011, and it applies today.

So interesting how often when the loss washes over me in the very next breath I am held in love, and all of the blessings, all of the healing, all the love and the light that has been shared with me envelops me… such a sacred place.

Bittersweet and sacred.

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Sound when stretched is music,
Movement when stretched is dance.
Mind when stretched is meditation.
Life when stretched is celebration.

Shri Ravishankar Jee

Life stretched beyond it’s current dimensions never returns to the same shape.  

We stretch, we grow, sometimes by our own choice, sometimes by choices that are made for us.  Regardless we are pushed, pulled and molded by life as we live it.  

So if change is going to happen, if stretching is inevitable, then perhaps we should be more proactive to inviting it in, to taking a first step in guiding the dimensions we want to be stretched in.  

Perhaps we have more control in our stretching than we had originally thought, perhaps we have more say in which ways we want to grow than we previously have ever admitted to ourselves.  So does life happen to us, or do we conspire with it?  

Two different ways of looking at things, but incredibly different places to come from… a place of power and a sense of an internal locus of control, or a victim mentality always caught off guard and too busy responding to things, too tired to create opportunity in your life. 

More often than not over the past few years I have become very conscious of which place I am coming from.  Recently I was struggling with a situation and nothing felt right in how I was responding.  And after talking to a trusted friend, I realized that it was a function of me giving away my power, me not taking responsibility for where I was being stretched, or taking any responsibility for where I wanted to go with it.  I was frustrated because someone else wasn’t responding how I wanted them to (misguided expectations which weren’t clearly communicated by me in the first place).  So I clearly communicated my needs, released my expectations, but more importantly realized that I could either lean into this growth or continue to be pulled  and stretched (the pain compounded by my resistance) and ultimately the actual outcome was the same, and it wasn’t in my control.   But I was in control of me.

The exciting thing was that it was so immediate.  Because I have been looking at my patterns and responses it was so very clear, when the stakes weren’t high that I was giving away my power.  Ultimately in the scheme of things it was a little hiccup barely worth noticing on the emotional landscape of my life… but worth celebrating because I now see it so much more clearly.  I am so much more aware of where my power, where my joy, where my peace comes from, what it looks like for me and how to create it.  I know where to go when I am being stretched and need support and where to turn when I want to celebrate.

So often it isn’t about what we can change in others or even the situation, because when it comes to others we can’t change them and more often than not we can’t change the situation… but we can always change our approach, our intention, our purpose, our direction.  Sometimes it is about holding on just a little longer, sometimes it is about letting go a little bit sooner, sometimes it is about trusting and acting on faith and sometimes it is about waiting for a little more evidence.

But the one thing I know for sure, a life worth celebrating is one that you carefully craft, holding the balance and tension of love and loss, growth and pain, hope and despair, laughter and tears.

It is a gift.

And in finding your way through, being stretched, being held, being guided, I hope you are learning to dance in the midst of it all.


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“What if the world is holding its breath –
waiting for you to take the place that only you can fill?”

~ David Whyte

Sometimes I get stuck between the place of absolutely knowing that I have something unique to say, and recognizing that what I have to say has been talked about for literally thousands of years.  Things that I love to talk about, read about, write about all have similar threads of all of the books, love songs and great speeches and sermons that have been given over the years.  Love (others and yourself), hope in the midst of darkness, the importance of presence and deep listening and so much more.  Their roots run deep and their stories have been told in a multitude of ways.  So it begs the question, what is one more line, story, blog, book going to do?

But then as it always does something will come along, a quote, a conversation, a reminder in some way, tucked in the fabric of my life that I am here to fill a place that is only mine to fill, to share a certain light, to hold a certain space… and by doing that, by finding my gifts, by being clear about my needs, by listening to my own heart I will take my space in the world, I will fill the gap with my name on it.

And as this world gets more and more complex, more and more demands, full of more have tos and opportunities I am reminded time and time again of the importance of being reminded of these simple pieces… noticing our gifts, breathing in this present moment, deeply listening, in all ways choosing love, trusting in the Mystery, holding a space for grief and loss, sharing kindness, holding hope… and so perhaps part of my place is to be that reminder that it really can be that simple.

To love one another, be kind, be present, live fully.

Smile more and speak less.

Let silence hold you, peace fill you and love pour from you.

So dear ones… what piece, what place is the world waiting for from you… and what can you do to start living into your dream, your rightful place in the world today?

Don’t wait any longer…
The World Is Holding Its Breath…

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