Archive for the ‘Work in the World’ Category

Leaves and Light

All too often when we are in the midst of deep pain we stop.

We stop breathing, we stop hoping, we stop wishing, wanting… the only thing it feels that won’t stop are the tears and the darkness that surrounds us.

And yet, there is a piece of us that always, even in the midst of the darkest night stretches out for that light, for that hope, for that deep breath. But at times that peace and certainty of a new tomorrow feels so far away.

When we are in the mist of chaos and pain our focus narrows, it becomes laser-like focusing only on the pain and darkness.  We feel like this moment is the only moment that exists… and when we are knee deep in blessings, full of laughter and surrounded by joy we want to swim in it, we don’t ever want it to end… and there are the other times… these moments when we stop.  We contract, we don’t allow anything in or out and the pain stretches out beyond what we can see.

It is those times we need to be reminded:

This isn’t the end of the story.

Often this is a new beginning, but it is important to honor the ending.

This pain won’t be this intense forever.

This hurt won’t last.

We will keep breathing, our hearts will keep beating.

It takes a skillful hand and heart to allow us to feel deeply the hurt, the pain, but yet hold this awareness.  In those times we are desperate to hear those words- “it will get better,” “it won’t always be like this,” “just give it time”- … but not at the expense of belittling where we are… it is a delicate balance… this place of accepting where you are, and knowing you won’t be there forever.  This balance of honoring the pain, the past, and stepping into a new future.

Nature does this so skillfully reminding us that we are constantly changing, unfolding, becoming, expanding and contracting.

This why I wrote the In-Between.

To be that voice, to help navigate the delicate balance between accepting where you are and knowing that this isn’t the end of your story.

Because this isn’t the end of your story.



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I was saddened to hear of the passing of Steve Jobs today… but I have also been moved as Facebook has lit up with people sharing quotes, pictures and memories.  And it just solidifies what I already knew, but needed to be reminded of.  People respond to passion, they respond to integrity, to quality, to leadership, to intellect, to kindness, to hope, to love.

People who have found their passion and live it out on a day to day basis shine- and his light shines brightly, even now in the midst of a dark night.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

~ Steve Jobs

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

~ Steve Jobs

Mr. Jobs- Thank you for changing the world.

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I Dare You

The Girl Effect Blogging Campaign is a collaborative effort of hundreds of bloggers coming together to write about The Girl Effect on October 4th, 2011.

“The Girl Effect is a movement. It’s social change in action.  It’s about the unique and indisputable potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.”

I chose to be one of the bloggers because I believe that we can help girls change the world.

I choose to support the Girl Effect because of these words “for themselves”… all to often when we want to “do good” in the world we swoop in, and try to fix things before asking the people what the problem is.

I remember hearing about a well-meaning effort of lots of wonderful people who had collected thousands of dollars for malaria nets, and they diligently held bake sales, provided car washes and collected for months to purchase these nets.  When the aid workers got the nets they handed them out, and a young volunteer, fresh out of college, out to save the world, went to the small village to see how their group had ended malaria and bring back her stories to help motivate the community to invest in more nets.  Instead she found that they were using the nets to fish because the people of the village were dying from hunger and the malnutrition put them at even higher risk for dying of malaria.

Good intentions, but they hadn’t stopped to get the wisdom of the villagers before they had jumped in to solve the problem.

But now, with this new knowledge, this community is providing training for everyone- for the local village person to work with the volunteer who works with the people back in her community- to help create lasting, meaningful change.

Now they are working to help end poverty, end malaria and to provide hope.

Having spent 15 years as a Social Worker I know better than to think one movement, one focus, one effort will save the world.  But I also believe that people want to do good things, I believe that most people want to effect change in the world, I believe in the goodness of people, in the purity of their intention.

I believe that there is still hope.

I believe that our good acts, our faith, our kindness, our hope strings together a safety net that keeps people from drowning in fear, in isolation, in poverty, in desperation.

I believe that little actions make a difference.

I believe in the power of people coming together.

It struck me in the video that “When an educated girl earns an income she invests 90% of it into her family, compared to 35% for a boy.  Yet 99.4% of international aid money is not directed to her.”  This is why I believe in microfinance, allowing people that historically haven’t been given the chance to mold their own future.  I have witnessed with my own eyes what happens when you give people opportunity, when you invest in someone’s dream, when you say “you matter, I see you, you mean something to me- even if I don’t know you, I believe in you.”

My friends and I have been getting together for the past few years once every few weeks to have brunch, to catch up on each others lives, support one another and share in all of the ups and downs of our lives.  For the past year we have been talking about how we could do something more meaningful than sit around with our mimosa and bemoan the woes of the world, we wanted to do something.  So we decided that every time we get together we will all chip in an extra $5 that we will then turn around and invest it in another woman who needs our support.  And thus the Ladies Who Brunch was born.

Recently we invested in Raquel on Kiva.org (and if you aren’t familiar with Kiva go check it out!)

Our loan of $25 isn’t going to change the world, but it did just change Raquel’s world, and when she repays it it will change another, and in the meantime we will find another person to invest in and the ripple effect continues… much like the Girl Effect.

Invest in girls and the whole world changes.

When I feel overwhelmed by an issue, wondering where to even begin I always think of one of my favorite quotes from Mr. Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

If anyone wants to join the Girl Effect blogging campaign, or to read other people’s posts click here to be amazed, inspired and touched by all of the helpers, and bear witness to the good that is happening in the world.

Spread the word. 

Change a life.

I dare you.

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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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“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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Joy And Other Shiny Things


I am excited to say that I was invited to be a guest blogger on Carol Finlayson’s blog.  She is a fellow coach and all around amazing woman who is in the midst of unveiling her little corner of beauty in the world with a new facelift for her blog.  Well worth exploring 🙂

She gave me a lot of different topics to write about and I decided to unravel a little bit more about a topic that has been captivating me lately and as come up time and time again in a variety of different ways and thoughts:


If you want to read my post, thoughts and questions about joy click here to read more!

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I have the first proof of the In-Between sitting on my computer screen.

I got the e-mail yesterday saying my exterior proof of the book was ready and so I clicked and downloaded my piece (technology is amazing) and I was speechless.  They had taken my ideas, combined them with my photos, listened to the heart of the book and presented me with something that seemed to leap straight from my heart onto the screen.  And now today they sent me the interior proofs, and again I was left staring at the screen in awe of what they had done, and what we had created together.  My words, my pictures, my vision and now their artistic touches and viola!  A beautiful book waiting for its final approval before it graces the world with its presence.

It is my creation, my baby, my dream for the past two years, and now it not only has a name, it has deadlines, it has form, it has flesh and bones.  For so long it was just simply a nice thing that was on my bucket list:

124. Become a best-selling author

But bit by bit I crossed each hurdle, stepped up a little bit more, stretched beyond my comfort zones  and did one more thing towards my dream, some little, some big, and somehow, someway, it is giving way to this dream made manifest.

Now it is in my hands, a few more rounds of editing and the first author’s proof will literally be in my hands.  I can’t wait until it is, but until then I am savoring this place, this moment of being proud of me, this moment of realizing that I did this, I made this happen.  For far too much of my life I have always looked towards the next goal, the next great thing never pausing to savor the stops and starts along the way, never pausing to celebrate, or to even look back to realize what I did to get to this place.

I am finding that so much of the pleasure is in living the dream into life… first talking about it, feeling the shape and form of it in your own mind, then the first people that you sheepishly share your big dream with, then the first scary steps towards making it more concrete and real… and now for me, this place, this place of sharing my dream, of having friends and family who support each milestone along the way and who will celebrate each moment with me.  The completion of the first draft, the first Publisher that I sent it to, the first rejection letter, the first time I claimed those words out loud “I am a writer”, and now the first proofs… and… and well the next and will have to wait.

I am busy savoring THIS moment right here, right now.

I am busy living my dream into life.

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Minnesota Quilt Show 2011

What I know…

Together we are more powerful than we are alone.

That if we are to create our vision we must tap into the deepest parts of ourselves, which requires vulnerability and trust.

That we must be brave and speak our truth, we must be receptive to the truth of others and we must hold a space for the truths we have kept hidden even from ourselves.

That this vision is a collective one, a woven tapestry of heart, healing, hope and delight.  Each string we have to offer adds a new layer, a new color, a new and welcome addition to this tapestry creating more beauty and warmth. 

That this is what we are called to do. 

What string do you bring, what piece of the tapestry will you claim as your own?

What warmth will you share…

What light will you shine…

What hope will you offer to those who need your gentle touch, your kind words, your vision of who they could be… 

Tell me your vision… 


In looking through some of my old writings I came across this, and I have been thinking a lot about my vision, my voice, about who I want to be in the world, how I want to “show up”.  I am learning that a large part of that is having the courage to share my writing.

I have been writing regularly since about 4th grade, filling volumes of spiral notebooks, small brown leather diaries with the little locks that never really worked (especially if you had a nosy brother!), and then moving to computers filling disk after disk of words woven together.  But at that time it was something that I didn’t want to share, something private and personal.

But then there came the point where I wanted to share, but fear kept a grip on my pen, and kept my words from flowing smoothly.  I finally found the courage to share outside of my “safe circle” of friends and family who “had” to like my writing and I decided to join a writing group. After reading two of my poems at the first (and last group) one of the members of the writing group snidely remarked, “Your writing is too light, too fluffy, you need to have the dark too, people don’t want to read just love and light and butterflies.”  Which partially was a function of my age, partially because I had only chosen to share two pieces and they both happened to be inspirational in nature and mainly because that is what I tend to write about.  I write about possibility, I write about what I dream for myself and for others, I write about what I aspire to do in the world.  But that didn’t make him wrong, nor did it make my writing wrong.  And it taught me a valuable lesson.  Just because you have a gift doesn’t mean everyone will receive it as such, and vice versa, just because you don’t see it as a gift doesn’t mean it isn’t.

I spent a lot of time writing for this person who had made the comment, whose name I never knew, whose face I don’t remember.  He became the voice of my fears personified.  I tried to write “about the dark side of life”, and that wasn’t any good either, it was flat, it wasn’t me, and to be entirely honest, he was right.  My pieces were too contrived, too forced and inauthentic.  But it wasn’t my writing, my ability or my voice that was the problem, it was that I wasn’t being me.  I wasn’t showing up on the page, I wasn’t willing to trust me, my vision, my voice.  I was letting all of the other voices- the shoulds, the fears, the not enoughs- write  instead of me.  It wasn’t until I wrote for me, when I finally was willing to let my voice shine through, when I was willing to let my heart beat on the paper in front of me that I found my groove.  I realized I didn’t have to write for everyone to like it, I was the one who had to like it.

I started to think of all the words that had inspired me, that had touched me, guided me, healed me, inspired me, and encouraged me. What would have happened if SARK didn’t dare to do something different and share her writing when I was trying to figure out who I was or if I fit in, or if Joan Didion didn’t share her intimate experience with grieving in her book “The Year of Magical Thinking” when I needed it most, or if Marianne Williamson hadn’t penned “Our Deepest Fear” for me to refer back to when I am playing small in the world.

The world needs your voice, and your vision… I tell people that all of the time.  And now I have decided to live that for myself, to add my voice to the chorus, to add my vision of what I want the world to be.  One sentence, one blog post at a time :).

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Sometimes life has a way of turning you inside out and upside down before you find your way again.  In those moments it is nice to feel the warmth of someone’s presence next to you, of the kindness of someone you love wiping the tears that have spilled over onto your cheek, and comforting to have someone hold your hand as you wind your way back to yourself.

Grief often shatters your heart into a million pieces and it is nice to know that someone else has found their way through, has found light in the midst of darkness, has felt the hand of healing and grace when the loneliness seems overwhelming.

That is what this e-book is meant to do, to be a hand to hold, a ray of light in the midst of the dark night, evidence of grace in the midst of it all.  And I was blessed enough to be included with several other authors in this compilation.

Alana Sheeren is a gifted writer, a beautiful and shining spirit in the midst of this world and I am so excited she followed her heart to create this and thrilled she invited me to be a part of it!

It is my hope that you will find healing and hope wherever you are as you wind your way through this world.  It is my hope that you feel the love that shines through between the lines from all of the contributors, that you will be reminded that you are not alone and you will find comfort in these words.

I would love to hear your thoughts and more about your story and what you learned from picking up your pieces… leave me a comment below!

Picking Up the Pieces

Luminous stories of grief and growth. Love-filled prompts for your own healing journey. A gift of musings + magic in a quick, easy download.

Written by Alana Sheeren

With Christa GallopoulosDyana ValentineEmily LewisErica StaabGail LarsenJulie DaleyKaren Maezen MillerRoos Stamet-Geurs & Vera Kate Hadley

Art by Diana Nielsen

Design by Shenee Howard






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