The Game Of Life

Just a few years back someone asked me:

“If you could live anywhere, where would it be?” 

Even by this point in my life, I had traveled the world, but I quickly answered, 

“Fresno. I love it here.”

I loved my home, my family, my friends, my church, my kid’s schools, my routine...complete with friends to have coffee and wine with, a Masters swim team, and a coach that put his heart and soul into our workouts as though we were training for the Olympics. 

The thing about sports in my life, is that they have been a great outlet, and also a huge source of regulation. I got the nickname Turbo from my marathon running friend Michael the day I showed up at a Saturday morning swim practice, mad as hell about something, and, at the end of a 3500 yard workout swam 20 100’s on the 1:05. Not bad for a 35 year old recreational swimmer - and I left all my rage in the pool. The first time I was able to recognize flow state was when we swam a race 100 at the end of practice, no dive, just a wall start, and it felt like i was gliding above the water and I finished with a 1:02. The thing is, all of these significant and meaningful memories to me, even dating back to high school all tournament teams, Valley Championship losses that no one except the players and the coach remember, and chalk full of goofball injuries like torn thumb ligaments and severely sprained ankles that have left me with almost no dorsiflexion in my right foot come without any fanfare or major championships. But it doesn’t mean that they didn’t help train a championship mentality.

The growth comes with the process, not the result. 

Life teaches us the lessons that we are ready to learn. I wish I had the mindset that I have gained through my yoga practice in my younger athletic days. Yoga has taught me not to run from discomfort, like the kind you face when you want another breath racing for the wall but shouldn’t take. It teaches me not to attach to outcome, and let it define who the world thinks I am. Most importantly, yoga has taught me how to calm my overstimulated nervous system with my breath. I am not one of those athletes where nerves work in my favor. The calmer I am, the better the focus and the vision, and that comes with breath work. Wish I knew that fact a little younger.

Now, I’m raising my own athletes, and I get to use what I have learned to train them. There is a big difference between using my hard earned knowledge to parent and living vicariously through my kids athletic experiences and I check myself on it frequently. I consider myself lucky to still get so much joy from the sports I get to play at 44 and can separate that from any success or challenge my kids my face. Today, this idea of process over result mentality doesn’t always hold true in the world of single sport club athletes, scholarships, and coveted championships. I have nothing against winning...I actually like to win a lot, but, I know that the bigger lessons I have learned have come in the face of adversity, in learning to trust my own gut because of my ability to process life on a highly sensitive level, and feel comfortable in my skin. These are the things I want the younger generations to learn from their athletic careers, no matter where they take them.

My athletic journey has two distinct periods of time, the first was one of a timid, tall, athletic kid who was literally afraid to stand out. The second chapter of sports in my life started when I got cut from the Cal Poly Women’s Volleyball team..  As a late walk on at Cal Poly, I had very little leash to get injured. I had already missed my entire high school senior season because of that torn thumb ligament and was significantly behind in skill from my Southern California counterparts. Then that typical and terrible volley injury when someone comes under the net and I was the lucky one to come down from a block and land on her foot sidelined me...and ended my career. But, I got just enough college level experience before that fateful cut to feel how much I loved to work hard, get better, and feel the blissful endorphin payoff. So, I let that ankle heel and pretty much never missed a workout for the rest of my college days. Self motivated, I lifted weights, could run 10 miles with ease...I still miss those SLO backroads, and came to understand what exercise did for my body.  I went on to run half marathons, one marathon (checked that one off the list) and swim in Masters swim meets and open water races, the latter while raising four little ones. And now I’m lucky enough to get to play beach volleyball multiple times a week.

Our bodies hold on to the stories of our life and we have to find healthy ways to release them. Four pregnancies, a near drowning for my youngest, autism, divorce, these are just some of the stories that my body has harnessed and I have learned to release through swimming fast, breathing deeply on my mat, and pounding volleyballs into the sand. They each serve a freeing and secure purpose in my life because I have learned that I am my only competition. I win when I find calm, trust my gut, and beat back fear by doing what I’m scared of.  And I use my mind body connection to keep it all clear.

So, as I get ready to take my first born back to start her college athletic journey as a athlete on the TCU women’s beach volleyball team, and my second born goes through the recruiting process and I will drop him off at school in just a year’s time, the way I have learned to process and shape my experiences is paying off for the kids I have the honor and joy to raise. Our journeys are all connected, they don’t begin and end solely on our terms. We are meant to use our trials and hard fought wins and losses to help others find their own best story. 

This is why I write, and speak. Sports has taught me a lot about how to live my life, but in recent years life has taught me how to get better at the sports that I still love to play. Today, the game is life…and I will settle for nothing less than my own championship.

I’m coming back on September 17, to my favorite neighborhood, at Fig Garden Swim and Raquet Club, a place that holds a special place in my heart, to talk about “The Game of Life”. Come join me in this conversation about how we build confidence, find flow, and live our best life on and off the court. Tickets are available at www.theoptimistsjournal.com

The Wrinkles of Time

As far as my look goes, I have always been a naturalist.  I’ve never been particularly good with makeup or hairstyles, ask my kids…my boys had shaved heads from the time they were three and my girls learned to do their own hair at a young age, or look slightly on the ragamuffin side wherever we arrived.  On dance recital day (a very short lived period in our house) I used to send them down the street to Mrs. Schuh to have hair and makeup handled. So the other day, as I sat at the med-spa (a combination of businesses that I have only recently discovered) with a needle in my arm drawing blood to check my hormone levels, out of nowhere, a doctor swung around the corner and asked me:

“When are you going to let me take care of this?” as she pointed to the crease in between my eyebrows.

“I’ve always been natural.” I replied. “I like my expressions.” 

“Well, it’s so deep, I don’t think I could get it all out anyway.” she quipped nonchalantly. As she walked away, she practically instructed the nurse to get me scheduled.

Wow.  Aging.  Hormones, wrinkles, injuries, bodies that work differently than they used to…and we have to decide what works for us. I don’t fault anyone for the choices they make for themselves and how they figure out getting and staying comfortable in their own skin, it’s an individual and daily process.  But, as I continue to peel back layers of myself and let my ego and true self banter back and forth, for me, the way I feel continues to win out over the way I look.  

I enjoy exercise…volleyball, yoga, swimming, lifting weights, because they make me feel strong and happy.  I’ve had to figure out healthy ways to manage how I feel because I feel every little thing.  Life as an empath is a bit like the Princess and the Pea. My body stores tension from life’s challenges and experiences and movement is healing. 

What struck me from that brief exchange with the doctor was how little her opinion affected me.  Yes, I am aware of the deep wisdom line I have between my eyebrows. Yes, I am aware that I don’t look the way I did when I was 20. Yes, I have my own thoughts about what bothers me about my face and body changing on certain days.  But what I know, is that the dialogue is between my two ears…what she had to say to me didn’t matter, even a little. As my friends on the court this morning told me as I relayed my funny story, boy was she barking up the wrong tree. What a blessing to spend time around people who get me.

As I celebrated my daughter’s 19th and my mom’s 70th birthday last Sunday, I sat smack in the middle of their two ages, in my very own backyard, in a relaxed setting, hosting my family and friends and calm enough to just observe.

There is so much grace and beauty at any age if we live from the inside out with faith and consciousness.  The good life starts in our soul, and our souls don’t wrinkle. 

They strengthen when they learn from a challenge, when they choose to feel, instead of numb, they deepen with positive relationships based on mutual attraction, love, and respect.  Our health and vitality is unified with our true self, our vanity is our ego. And ego always leaves us chasing something that is just beyond our reach. Being at the stage of life where you realize that life doesn’t all of the sudden start reversing itself, that there is no going back, can be scary some days.  But forward with calm and conviction is turning out to be a beautifully imperfect, even wrinkled road…so we work from what is, and go with it.

And for now…I’m not scheduling that appointment.

An Optimist's Lens

I sat on my striped towel, behind the scene, I even snapped a photo of the picture being taken. The kids all lined up for their annual summer shoot, the 15th summer in a row…mine weren’t in the line, I was there alone, and even though for the past two summers I couldn’t make this trip happily, this time I chose to come, alone, and I was ok. I was grateful. Grateful for downtime, bonds of friendship that have lasted 15 summers (actually longer), to see kids who were in infant seats together before they head off to college. I was grateful for a calm that I didn’t know existed, the ability I have to jump in the car and take a two day trip up the coast on a moments notice, and most of all my outlook…an optimistic one that in part comes naturally, but also that I have worked hard to make solid. It’s the best feeling to know that life has changed, something that most of us as humans have a pretty serious aversion to, and I’m ok.

Healing takes a lot of reflection, a lot of learning to work from what is, instead of what isn’t.

It’s not about ignoring feelings when they come up, like they did when I went to meet my two friends (who are married) for coffee on Sunday morning. When I got there they were already sitting down, but Kent quickly gave up his chair for me and went to stand in the long coffee line, asked me a couple of times for my order because he wanted my coffee to be right, and brought it back to me.  The gesture brought tears to my eyes…it’s nice to be taken care of and I appreciated it to my core. But when I bring the optimist’s lens back into focus and let it pan out over the expanse that is my life, those little tugs at my heart strings are just that, because I know where I sit in the bigger picture, and I like it. The deep calm that comes from knowing I am capable of taking care of myself is so empowering and I rest easy knowing that even if I don’t get the luxury of having my coffee brought to me often, I know I’m worthy of it on any day…no guilt, no weakness, no strings attached. And most days I’m happy to choose my own mug anyway. 

When we work from what is, and don’t give our energy to what isn’t, we find our way, little by little. This is our ticket out of ‘victimville’.

An optimist’s lens gives us the energy to have the discipline that it takes to keep going.  It helps us see that what isn’t there today, may well be there tomorrow, or in a week, or a month, or even a year if we commit to our process. And, when we commit, we find our calling, our uniqueness that we were meant to bring to the world. 

If we go along, wishing to be like or have what we think everyone else has, how would we ever discover what fills us up, what brings us joy, and what we can bring to the world to make it a better place?


So to bring it back around, it’s not that I didn’t want my kids with me last weekend, they were missed and I would choose them any day of the week. What matters is knowing that the difference I was most afraid of, not having them with me all of the time, has come to pass, and I’m alright.  Knowing that, I can apply those feelings to other things that scare me on this crazy journey and be confident that as long as I fight to keep my optimist’s lens, my way forward presents itself. As my dad told me just this week, the kids will be ok if you are.  There is a lot of change, angst, and unknown coming down the pipeline, it’s a hallmark of parenting teenagers no matter what your circumstance, and I’m poised and ready to handle it with my sleeves rolled up and some rose colored glasses…because one doesn’t work without the other. 

Calm in the Chaos

Find calm in the chaos…these words go through my head multiple times per day. Text messages, emails, calls, voicemails, to do lists, goals, kids, social media, ideas, writing, so often it feels like it is all hitting at once and that everyone and everything needs an answer in 10 minutes or less.  But, that expectation is a state of mind.  Calm is learning to reframe, take things in on our own timing, not as the world gives them to us.  We all used to have to wait a lot longer before the age of Amazon Prime same day delivery and insta everything…and we were ok. Sometimes I think that everything that is being done to speed up our process in the name of efficiency and time management is chipping away at our calm. Even ATM’s have order ahead service now!

If you have read any part of my blog before, you know that yoga has been a major game changer in my life.  I like to think that sports toughened me up which, quite honestly, was necessary, but yoga taught me how to slow down and enjoy my life. As I unitask my way through my days (if you are wondering, unitask is the opposite of multitask) I encounter someone almost every day who, through some shared experience that we have, comments on my state of calm.  Whether it’s finding out I have four kids, or having to wait a little extra time for an appointment, when we talk and exchange stories, they say

“But you’re so calm.” 

It’s pretty ironic considering the way I started out in this life.  Loud noises like the air brakes on a school bus, the compactor on the trash truck, sirens, or fireworks felt like they left an imprint on my soul. I think I wore ear plugs on the 4th of July until I was 10. I remember trying to anticipate what was coming next so that I didn’t get surprised by anything. I lived like that for a long time…anxious and waiting for the shoe to drop, and worse, trying to disguise that anxiousness under the mask of calm. The good thing now is that I can feel the difference between the mask and the real thing.  

Real calm is slow, it’s present, it’s focused and sure. It’s comfortable in our own skin, even when the circumstances are uncomfortable. Calm allows us have our own place and know that it’s ok to take up as much space in this world as anyone else. Calm brings peace to our process and helps us let go of the need to control any outcomes. Calm silences the outside voices and helps us hear our own clearly. It lets us trust our gut and do the next right thing.   It’s where we can drop the multitasking and settle into our routine, and trust that it all will get done in the best time with a sure and steady hand.  It creates flow in the routine of regular life, and then we find success on whatever stage we seek. 

Aside from our greater goals, it is stabilizing for my soul to encounter people who find calm and flow in regular life because regular life is my favorite. I find a lot of joy in the mundane, like choosing my coffee mug every morning or my favorite chamomile tea. As I stood on the beach in Santa Cruz this past weekend, there was calm in observing the joy that our hosts found in hospitality. Two grills, tons of meat, and such ease in the preparation and serving of a casual meal in a beautiful scene. Their choice to make it seem easy to haul everything down there and create this relaxed and gracious scene made a memory for me and my kids that we won’t forget.  Nothing fancy, but there was legitimate work involved and there wasn’t an ounce of hardship expressed. I love people who find calm instead of complaint in the work…it radiates to everyone around and, in this case, we got to sit back, exchange stories, and take in the blue sky and surf and be taken care of by these wonderful friends.  There aren’t many people in my life who give me this easy feeling, to feel the true appreciation I have for being taken care of, but this crew makes it so easy, it’s hard to imagine a way I can repay them. 


The calm I feel today is real, and knowing what my nervous system feels like in this peaceful place is a blessing and a source of productive strength.  When we know ourselves well, we can choose what feeds our soul. For some it’s excitement, crowds and the next big party but for me it is calm that allows me to find my flow…and I’m feeling more in the zone with every day that passes.



Confidence & Connection

The sounds and feels of summer…waves, crowds, traffic, and warmer water to jump in after volleyball. The ocean serves as the cheapest and most efficient ice bath for the aches and pains that have to be tended to to live to play another day.  Then there is the sight of seeing Matthew paddling out or stand up on his board, something that the long wet winter had me wondering if we would ever see again. Summer also means tutoring for him. To stay sharp, he needs lots of repetition as we work to improve those frontal lobe executive functioning skills that came more naturally to his sisters and his brother. He’s aware of it, and he’s searching for what he is good at, and that process tugs at my heart strings when he gets frustrated.  So much of the time I think his mind works differently than mine or my other kids, but hearing him articulate what he is searching for makes me realize that in many ways his path is the same as mine.

I overheard him chatting with his tutor the other day, they were working on math, but he knew a little bit about her schedule and asked her questions about her travels the week before.  His questions were engaging and focused on her experience, not his, he was genuinely curious. 

It’s actually moments like these, not when they are going through common denominators, but when he is engaged on an emotional level that I know we have a good learning connection. 

I told her, if he is relaxed enough to ask you questions like that, then he can learn.  Getting him out of fight or flight is the key to the educational stuff sinking in, it also makes me realize that I am far more concerned about raising a kid who cares about other people than how fast he can finish a math worksheet.  Not to say I’m letting him off the hook on that, but the bonds he creates with other kind humans and learning how to connect with the goodness that comes from them is something that what will help him find his successful process in his life.

There are three things that have been at the center of my own path the last few years that have helped me define my process. The first thing was finding calm. I have learned, through lots of self reflection and yoga,  that I spent way too much time in fight or flight mode.  I called it “waiting for the shoe to drop”.  When I think back to the jumpy feeling that was almost always with me, that I spent so much energy masking while I projected outward calm, while my insides were anything but, I realize now that I could never accomplish what I want to in this life in that state.  Too much energy was going into just trying to survive.  Fight or flight isn’t an age thing, it’s a human thing, and we have to train it. As I have learned to calm my own nervous system, I have new techniques for calming his.

Yoga brought my feet to a grounded path, and my mind to a still place where I could connect with the sensation of feeling safe in my surroundings, and then begin to trust that I could handle what was coming next without having to anticipate it.  

I also have wrapped my head around the concept that it’s ok, and in fact maybe even better, for my path to look different that others.. Letting go of expectation has been one of the most freeing feelings in walking my own road.  It has made me self reliant in a way that builds my strength and confidence, helped free me of guilt and shame, and quieted that voice of “I screwed up” so that I could have the energy to define and create my own success.  Our uniqueness is what makes the world an interesting place, and success is not something that comes in one form.  Free yourself of other peoples expectations and go after your dream in the present…it will lead you to the most beautiful moments of flow.  And then we build on those. 

As I have let go of expectations, I am also learning to let go of other people’s judgment and what they may (or may not) think of my path.  As a recovering people pleaser, this one is the hardest. It’s an exercise both in not giving credence to other people’s judgment, which is definitely there, but also in realizing that they aren’t thinking about your path as much as I may have originally thought.  We all have so much on our plates,  most often, people are concentrating on that, and judging the next step you make really isn’t high on their priority list.  Either way, the opinions of the masses are something we have to learn to set aside when we know the goals we have for ourselves, and are trying to crush them.  If I let perceived judgment scare me, or slow me down, it produces the heaviest energy in my day, limiting the progress I make on the course I have set out for myself. Success is built on putting your head down and believing in yourself, no matter what other people are or aren’t thinking about you. So if you think about it, either way it doesn’t matter!  

The gift of being a parent is that what I learn about myself in this beautiful and challenging life, I get to use to teach my kids as they learn to navigate their own life paths.  It turns out, Matthew’s words to me about trying to find what he is good at aren’t any different than what I am looking for in my own days.  I am helping him define his process, and I get to be the one who teaches him to find calm, realize that his path is unique, even beautifully unconventional, and that what the masses think about it really doesn’t factor into the discovery. 

Life is life, and the process isn’t all that different at any age.

My job isn’t to worry, it’s to use what I have learned to teach him to be brave enough to wrestle with the questions life presents and develop a consistent process to get them answered. Then he can press forward on his path. Safety, love, and hard work…I am confident I can teach him what it feels like to feel all three, so that even if the waves toss us around a bit, we can learn to emerge standing on our own two feet.

Volleylife

The adrenaline rushes, even when you sit in the stands.  But one thing I have learned is that once they take the court, there is nothing you as a parent can do about the outcome.  The athlete in you might want to spring out of the seat, the coach in you might think you have the game winning knowledge, but, as a parent, besides the loud show of support, which may or may not have the outcome you desire, our job is done.  We get the long ball, the years of down time, grind time, drives to and from practice before they get their license, maybe a little conversation in the hotel rooms or in the kitchen after practice as they grow.  We get to teach them, and better yet model for them, that the process is more important that the result…and that the work put in will pay off in the long run, even when the ball hits the ground too many times on your side in one match.  

But that didn’t happen yesterday, the focus that I thought I saw from the outset was real. Guys, even when you were down two, and five points from being ousted in the quarters, you kept your composure, locked in, and came home with a National Championship. As a mom, of course I think this team is special.  I have watched four of them play together since they were 12, being the highlight of Luke’s days when he wasn’t as happy about our move to the beach as he is today.  Five of them have been together since 13’s, and seven of them since they were 14…and the rest have been welcomed with open arms, adding levels of talent, discipline, and heart from both the court and the bench. Knowing how fast a year goes, and how quickly things can change, I wanted to take the ride home last night and this morning to sit with the feeling. These boys hold a special place in my heart and will for the rest of my life. Long after volleyball, this group will remember their triumphs and struggles together as a team, this is their first fraternity.

Way to get up and show up boys…not just the last four days, but on the days you didn’t feel like it, on the days when you felt like it wasn’t fair, or the ball didn’t do what you thought it should, or when you missed out on something fun going on outside the gym. Yes, there is a balance, but gold medals don’t come easy, with the vision and grit you have shown, you guys deserve this one. It’s both a privilege and a grind to play at this spectacular level.

With all the talent on display at this amazing tournament, mindset made the difference.  I hope you guys are sitting back this morning, resting happily, knowing that you took your best out there and left it all on the court…boy was it golden in every way.  Take a day or two, enjoy it, and then get back at it, whether that’s in volleyball or in life, because in the end, they aren’t really all that different.

The Conscious Citizen

Apathy: (n) lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern

For the past few years, The Optimists Journal has been a place for me to reflect and build my writing (and who would have thought, speaking) skills, learning both vulnerability and strength by putting my voice out into the world. Through this self reflective process, I understand myself, and my lens on this world better.  In using what I have learned, but moving beyond my own experience, that place where the my micro world meets the macro of society, my hope is that my content will engage and inspire people to think for themselves and engage as conscious citizens. Every week I read many articles, am always reading a fiction and a non fiction book (albeit slowly!), listening to podcasts and following the sporting events and even better the stories behind them (can we talk about Coco Gauff!). I believe that when we are engaging in the areas of our lives that we are passionate about we create a consciousness that is stimulates our own learning and is engaging to others and together we become a more energized and informed community.

Before I found this outlet, I had an unfilled desire to put my voice out there, but without the courage to execute, I developed apathy, a “stuckness” for lack of a better word, and at times I questioned whether I had the ability to fight through the feeling.  Imposter syndrome rears its ugly head with the voices of “it’s already been done” and “what do you really know that’s noteworthy”. But in the consistency and determination that continues to rise up against the imposter, the clarity of my voice and vision has taken shape, day by day. When that self doubt kicks in I just remind myself that Arianna Huffington was a speaker in my first political science class of 30 college kids at Cal Poly SLO back in 1992, married to a local Congressman and raising two girls…look what she has done since. 


We fight apathy by locking into what lights us up. Usually that spark shows up organically, but then it is up to us to follow that path and become conscious citizens. To do this we have to drill down, learn more, and discover the talents that our passions can bring to the world to make it better. That is my goal with The Optimists Journal, because the world doesn’t need our apathy, it needs our energy, and my energy is buoyed by an optimistic spirit and the ability to keep learning about the topics that light my fire. In learning and writing about them, I hope to fight the malaise that keeps us slightly comfortable, but with that voice in our head that tells us there is more we can do.

The key to American life is having a society of safe and informed citizens and lending my expertise and spreading that message is something that makes my conversations and days great. Having been a news junkie from a young age, being raised in a home where my dad held political office from the time I was seven until I was 27, the division caused by the intolerance of different opinions and the 24 hour news cycle have made it tough for me to maintain my usually positive outlook for the past few years. For awhile, I checked out completely, trading growth mindset podcasts for politics. But I missed being a part of the conversation, it’s in my blood. But what if I could blend the two? How do our individual mindsets help shape our society. I remember laying on the bed at the LAX Westin, pregnant with Luke when my dad lost the primary election for Governor in 2002, my young untested spirit thinking the world was coming to an end. Needless to say I’ve made some progress since then and, more than anything, recognize my dad’s ability to speak his truth and put himself out there no matter what other people thought or put up against him, but there is rarely a time I land at LAX and don’t look at the Westin and remember that feeling…you win some, you lose some. I still believe California missed out, but those who are lucky enough to be close to him certainly haven’t.

I am hard to pin down these days though, because my way forward has taught me so much about the unconventional, the mind/body connection, the mystics and Eastern traditions, and being real with the trauma that life brings us. All of these things mix with my roots in a unorthodox way and create my own unique point of view.  I admire straight talkers, honest inquiry, and lack of pretense in the situations and people that cross my path. I cast a nonjudgmental eye on the happenings of the day, believing that I have a right to my opinion and experience as much as anyone else, and that the way forward is found in respectful dialogue, owning our individuality but always looking to add to the collective American experience.

This week, I begin to lay out my vision for The Optimists Journal, starting with mindset, because our mindset is the root of all possibility. In the coming weeks, I will unveil the other topics that spark my interest, and show you how these topics link to create a conscious place where great dialogue and the next deep conversation take place, something I am always in search of, whether that is here or in person.  Follow along with me, let me know what you want to hear more about, you won’t be disappointed. Sign up for my weekly email, which always includes my blog, but also links to the articles, books, and podcasts that I take in every week. There is so much amazing learning out there to do to make us conscious citizens…so let’s get going on that.

Love is 100%

It has been said that we are only as happy as our least happy child, and there is some truth to that.  Nothing prepares us for the love and devotion most of us feel when we become parents.  As years go by, we have hopes and dreams for them, hopefully we learn to manage that process in a healthy way, and eventually we learn that the desire to control outcomes for them and protect them from distress and harms way is, in large part, an illusion.  As a friend of mine said in his daughters bat mitzvah toast, 

“I just want you to breathe.” 

I found that to be such a beautiful and freeing sentiment, letting his daughter know that she could become whoever she wanted to be, that the dreams were hers, not his.  He would play the supporting cast to her stardom, however that took shape. His words make me refocus often and realize that we have far less control over our children’s happiness and even, as they get older, their safety in this world than we would like.  It makes me realize that as devastating as divorce is for children, life deals us blows at some point that the human spirit is capable of not just surviving but thriving beyond. This concept has been an evolution of my own mindset that continues each day because the memory of telling my four kids that their dad moved out is etched on my heart forever. It’s possibly the most painful thing I have experienced through this entire process. As I said last week, time moves on, and the task at hand of raising four strong, well adjusted kids who know they can withstand difficulty, learn from it, and become contributing members of society is, without a doubt, my greatest motivation in life. Being that my youngest is 12, we aren’t even close to done in the pursuit of that goal.  Here are some principles that I have learned firsthand that are guiding me today:

  1. You can’t physically do enough to make the heartache ok, so let yourself off the hook, and guide them through the emotional journey. Just after that fateful conversation about our split, I went into overproduction. They probably don’t even remember, because it didn’t last long, but for about six weeks, I was bound and determined to deliver them the best life experience they could get. We would road trip, I would have every last thing packed for them in their bags, make amazing meals when we were home, and basically try to anticipate their next need before they had even thought of it. My exhausted self quickly realized, probably out of necessity at that point, that it was not the way to go. I was working from a place of guilt, which, whatever the parenting circumstance, is never the place to make decisions. Not to mention, I was dead tired, and, although maybe a distraction for my own feelings, overproduction mode wasn’t helping anyone. One of the silver linings of split households, because yes, I make myself look for them, is that it gives kids the opportunity to learn to manage their own stuff, with real consequences. They are hugely capable if we teach, instead of do, and since I abandoned overproduction mode, I have watched little by little as they pick up the slack and learn to plan ahead, do pick ups and drop offs for me, use an alarm clock instead of me waking them up, manage their own bags and schedules, and I have time to go to yoga and make dinner.

  2. Teach them to focus on who they want to become. We all have strengths and weaknesses that we can both capitalize on and work to improve. In split households, most likely there are different ways of doing things, mindsets, and habits that define each dwelling. I’ve seen it first hand, manipulation can come out quickly when discomfort rears its head.

    “Dad wouldn’t make me do that.” or “Mom let’s me play that game.”

    Anytime I have heard that terrible comeback in response to me laying down my law, I shoot back:

    “When you play me against him, you are only cheating yourself.”

    Example, “Do you think playing Call of Duty for six hours makes you a better human?” Usually I get an honest response.

    “You have to decide who you want to be, and then work at that.”

    Then I push the conversation to how he thinks he’s going to get there.

  3. Let the other parent work from his or her strengths. This one has more to do with our own self esteem, but can end up doing harm to the relationship between parent and child. Don’t be territorial with things. If he wants to do something for your child, unless you see it as overtly harmful, be gracious and let it happen. Don’t let your ego get involved with ideas like, I wish I would have thought of that, or worry that there is going to be a favorite parent. Most likely that is going to ebb and flow based on experience and personality so don’t get hung up on winning the popularity contest on any given day. If it helps the bond between parent and child, just go with it. Always remember that their emotional needs are entirely different than yours and that other parent is a place for them to feel safe and loved, as long and there is not a reason to think those two things can’t be achieved, stay out of the way. In some situations, I have even found that whatever was being offered crossed something off my already long to do list, while giving one of the kids a positive experience, and I’ve learned to look at those as a win/win.

  4. Be Strong, Be Vulnerable. Safety is a real need, no matter what age we are. Kids want to know that you have things from the top handled so that they can work on the building blocks of making it to adulthood. This doesn’t mean though that they should not see your feelings. I think one way we can help change the cycle of generational pain is to let our kids know that things are hard or less than ideal, and then let them be part of the process of conquering that obstacle. Let them know that, even when you are sad, you can still find laughter. Let them see you seek your outlets that give you joy, it will help them find theirs. Yoga, piano, sports, music playing in the kitchen, reading, outings and trips together, little inside jokes…there are all kids of things that we can find for ourselves that will turn the tables. Being both strong and vulnerable at the same time helps us get to the root of our issues, not just the symptom and I believe learning to do this is the real key to long term emotional well being.

  5. Let Your Voice be so strong that they hear it even when you aren’t with them.

    This is something I am always working on, speaking up isn’t something that has come naturally to me over this lifetime. This also isn’t an invitation to butt in, believe me, I’ve learned from experience that is bad form. It’s hard when we see our kids in some kind of emotional distress, because we want to solve the problem yesterday. The trick is figuring out if there is a way to help them process through what they are feeling versus trying to solve it for them (and most likely, you can’t anyway). Depending on the age of the child, the skills are different. Nonetheless, unless we are dealing with toddlers or younger, they have them, and honing them gives them an edge on self realization at a younger age. The message to them is that they know they can count on you in happiness and in distress 100% of the time, but then teach them that they have the power within them, despite their surroundings, to be present and happy wherever they are. In this day and age, we are a phone call or FaceTime away, we can even play video games with them when they aren’t with us. Let them know that you can meet them where they are, even if that’s not in person. I have found that just the idea of this can calm anxious feelings, especially my youngest.


In the end, parenting is an art, not a science. Despite some real hardship and heartbreak, I feel so much pride and joy when I watch my kids work as a team, to belong to each other and be a unit no matter where they are sleeping at night.  The goal is always to give them access to emotional support, but let it look different depending on who lends it and give them the experience to see what works best for them.  Raising kids in split households isn’t a competition, and, as long as it’s a safe environment, it’s their foundation and reality.  I have found that even with it’s challenges, when we parent from our most authentic place, we get into a flow that helps us not to overthink. We just have to be brave enough to say what we know in our hearts to be true, and with good timing. I work hard to give my kids the deepest sense of who I am, even if they don’t fully grasp it today. Letting them see my emotions while providing them with safety and love is always a goal for me. I trust the bond I have built, and then I work hard to maintain it It looks different at every stage of this journey. Sometimes it’s talking, then it’s listening, then it’s holding on, then it’s letting go.

As I sit here at my oldest’s freshman orientation at TCU, the speed with which it passes it unbelievable. Don’t waste a minute fighting your ego and give them the opportunity to love and be loved by both parents…because what if, in the end, your child is only as happy as their least happy parent? Show them your joy, let them know they are safe and loved and the story can still have a very happy ending.

Moving On

I still don’t like the word divorce.  I still find the word itself hostile and angry and sad all at once.  Just one little word, and I don’t know if that connotation will ever go away.  What I do know though, it that the feelings change, the days change, and little by little your heart and mind begin to heal and your best life starts to show it’s way through.  I often have people say to me when I tell them my story that they thought mine happened a lot longer ago than the just over two years that it has been.  One thing I tell them is that for me, by the time the divorce happened, the healing had already planted it’s roots.  It’s the years leading up to that fateful decision where the greatest heartache lies. 

As I have said in more of my writing, I still believe in marriage, and the hard work it requires to choose someone every day and do the work that it takes to stay together.  It’s not easy, and, for some reason, that wasn’t meant to be my story. So, if I can help people who find themselves in a similar situation to mine, that’s the next best thing I can do, because we are all capable of living amazing lives. One choice or event can never define us, and the best life lies on the other side of getting up, dusting ourselves off, and doing the hard work of mending a broken heart. In fact, whether it was a divorce or a break up, we’ve all been there, and it’s never easy. I started to think about what has helped me the most to move on with my life and came up with some practical steps that have lead me to a new level of peace and happiness. 

  1. Look Forward, Not Back. Get rid of the ideas in your head of how you “thought” life was going to look. Expectation can be so disappointing. Take what is today and learn to sit with it, in quiet, breathe and feel the sensation that you are ok. Exactly where you are, even in the sadness, you are living, you have talents and gifts, ones that you weren’t able to access when you were wrapped up in a dying relationship. Now is your time, what do YOU want to do for yourself and for the world. Identify the big goal, and set the small action steps that will get you there. Small victories put a little wind in our sails and lead us to the bigger ones. Where will you start? Allow these ideas to excite you, LOOK FORWARD.

  2. Remember that you are the only one who grants yourself permission. I am a rule follower. I like to be coached and taught and learn from others. But those qualities set me up for a place in life where I was always looking for permission from other people as to how I should live my life. Being in a relationship, especially if it has some codependent tendencies, can foster that dynamic as well. Newsflash, you are a grown up. You have to pay your own bills, manage your own stress, raise your own children, so you better figure out that the decisions you make are yours. Quiet the outside voices and just listen to your mind and heart. Make small decisions at first, open your own bank account, make your own schedule, and through your choices allow the real you to be seen. Drastic change does not have to happen every day to make good progress.

  3. Choose people who want to see you grow. Keep the opinions you take in to the trusted circle who wants to see you grow and not just survive, but thrive. The patterns you created in your past relationship have to change, those connections and conversations cannot stay the same if you expect to get over it. That doesn’t mean they won’t take a new form in the future, but give yourself the time and space that you need to heal. If you do this, life will look different, feel different, and that’s ok. Again, let go of the expectation and live with what is. If you are taking care of yourself, you will attract people who believe in your greatness, and your circle will change. You don’t need pity, you want to see progress, so choose the people who want to see that for you as much as you want to see that for yourself. Your growth will move some people out of your orbit, that’s ok. Some come in to our lives to teach us and aren’t meant to stay forever.

  4. Learn the difference between power and control. We all have power within us to create, communicate, and design our lives the way we want to. There are different circumstances for all of us, but at the root is that beautiful God given freewill that gives us the ability to make our own choices. Notice I said our own choices, not anyone elses’s…that is where our power lies. Control is an illusion that takes away our power and makes us focus on the wrong things. Control is when we try to use our power to influence things outside of ourselves. Our power lies in our practice, not our results. Don’t spend your time trying to control outcomes, for you and especially not for your old relationship. Do your work, focus on your goals, and let your power fuel the fire to move you forward. Control is an illusion that steals our energy.

  5. Practice Yoga. Yoga is breath, it is connection, and it creates the most beautiful free flow of energy I have ever experienced. It taught me to sit alone and truly feel instead of sitting alone and feeling numb. It taught me that I can do hard things, and that I am enough right where I stand today. Yoga is healing, and practiced by the most amazing community of non judging healers who accept without attachment to your story. It is a positive place to go when you need to get out and will do wonders for your mind, body and spirit. Enough said, just go.

  6. Do not look at their social media. It may seem shallow, but in this day and age, it’s truth. It’s tempting at first, but I promise it will take you down the wrong rabbit hole that has nothing to do with your way forward. It doesn’t help you process pain or sadness. Basically, it’s an incredible waste of time and energy. Stay away, block them if you have to, not out of spite, but for your own emotional well being, it’s ok. Pretty soon you won’t even think about it anymore.

  7. Forgive. I put this one last, it could be an entire blog topic in itself, and it takes time. Forgiveness happens in little moments, in realizing that we are all human, life is not perfect and that not one of us is defined by one choice that we have made in our lives. Forgiveness is the only healthy way forward. Being free is so much more important that being right, forgiveness comes easier when we realize that fact. Although we can learn from these painful experiences, eventually, forgiving has a lot to do with letting go of the ways you believe you were wronged. Use what you learned to set boundaries for next time, but know that most of the time, especially when it comes to matters of the heart, we hurt others from the place where we ourselves are hurting. That is not unique to a certain ‘type’ of person, it’s all of us. If you have ever wished to be forgiven, put your own forgiveness out into the world to heal.

In the end, the only thing that is finite is this life we have been given. The ups and downs and ebbs and flows teach us, but not a single one of them defines us. I sit here today, not ashamed of my story like I was two years ago, knowing that I make my own way forward, and confident that I have the skills to do that because of the work I have done.  My highest hope is that I can break the cycle of generational pain that divorce, but more importantly the things that precede it create, by telling my story and helping other people process their own. If you are in the beginning of this process, know that no one feeling lasts forever, the tide will go in and out. Feel it, learn from it, and most importantly love yourself exactly where you are today, because that love is more important than the love that comes from any other person on this earth. 

The Humble Warrior

Writing is bliss, social media, not so much.  While I love keeping up with the kids and families I moved away from when we came south, I worry about the younger generations and whether their tie to social media will have an adverse effect on their self worth. I worry that they can’t live freely, taking in experiences, posting what they want to, and still know how to enjoy the present. How do they learn that likes are not tied to worth, and that while being kind is first on the good life list, we are all left knowing that the only feelings that we should and can manage are our own.  Boundaries…what a lesson.  

I have journaled for over 20 years to bring clarity and healing to my life so, it’s not like this writing thing was a hobby I picked up recently. Today though, I use social media to put my words out there, so I have had to spend some time with my relationship with likes and followers in my own head so that it doesn’t feel like the ASB election I lost as a junior in high school, or the one before that in 5th grade where I got beat by a 4th grader.  Unlike my dad, I don’t think I’ve ever won an election in my life…so for me, likes need not become votes or I’m in trouble. 

Lately, I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out who it is I am writing to, besides myself, when I pen these blogs. I feel it in certain spaces, when women share their stories about their kids and we make an instant “me too” connection and leave with a hug after talking for less than 5 minutes. It’s in the graduation stories, life transitions, and the emails that come from far away about these rites of passage that seem so regular in American life, but shake us to our core.  It’s in the conversations about broken relationships, and what we’ve learned from them, that gives way to healing and makes life a more real, and still beautiful place to be.

In the end, I want my words to make other people feel understood…because to me that is one of the best feelings in the world.

This week, I was standing on the beach getting ready for another game and my friend Heidi said:

“I love reading what you write, it’s like you are talking just to me. I almost ‘liked’ it, and I have never ‘liked’ anything in my whole life.” 

Heidi gets my weekly email, she’s not even on Instagram. Her words gave me the chills. She is my person, my four kid mom who rolls with the chaos, raises good kids, and holds herself to an incredibly high standard, all while treating others with a tremendous amount of grace.  If my words mean something to her, I’m hitting my mark. She shares the court with me every week and every inch of her 5’4 self can side out with the best of them with crazy cut shots and hard swinging deep middles.  She can also stitch you up, write a prescription, and teach SRE classes (she was Matthew’s First Communion teacher).  She does all of this… and you don’t even know her. 

She is the humble warrior. She is a beautiful example of strength and submission to the ebbs and flows of life. She is who I am writing to. 


Humble warriors come in many forms. They are the teachers I encountered at Open House last night at Kate and Matthew’s school, the doctors and nurses in the ER at 5am when I brought Lauren in because she couldn’t breath, the coaches who give confidence to my 5’8 inch 12 year old who is all knees and elbows at this point, but is starting to make more jump shots in the driveway, and the volunteer who goes into the classroom and helps a little girl with behavioral issues learn to read, because the powers that be have given up on her. Thank you humble warriors for being in my corner, writing this is making me realize how many of you there are in my life.  Thank you for your causes, the jobs you do, your bravery, and the space you give other people to be who they are. Most of all,  thank you humble warriors for sharing your wisdom and knowing your worth without fanfare, headlines or likes…you bring trust and connection to this world that the algorithm has yet to define. 

Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there fighting the good fight. Enjoy your day and may your children be good to you today. Parenting didn’t come with a manual…take it one day at a time.


Scar Tissue

Even though I consider myself a creature of habit, and changing those habits can be so hard, learning to thrive through life’s twists and turns has become one of my foundational and motivating goals. This week, as I moved again, for the second time in a year, I was tested mind, body and spirit. Old patterns have to give way to new outlooks if we want to keep challenging our limits and creating our best life, so, despite some discouraging moments, I pressed on, and I’m sitting in an (almost) organized new home.

Tough times are relative, but so many of our feelings are common, just delivered to each of us through different experiences. Whether I’m feeling lonely, discouraged, not enough, disorganized (man, moving is rough!) or scared, I have learned that by feeling and expressing, other people come along who understand. No feeling lasts forever, so I acknowledge, make a game plan, sleep or exercise (depending on time of day) and go again. I also know that our success depends on how well we can perform our routines despite our moods, because, let’s face it, there are just times we flat out don’t feel like it. To master any craft or life situation, we have to do it anyway.

Exercise goes a long way in getting me straightened out. Ironically, fitness became even more important to me after I was cut from the Cal Poly volleyball team after an ankle injury…a long time ago. It was then I discovered how much being physically fit influenced my mind, when I was faced with the reality that no one was going to make me show up for workouts, but that I felt so much better if I did it anyway. I learned that a long run would change my perspective on almost any problem, lifting weights made me feel strong and capable, and that recreational sports were a place to meet like minded people who enjoyed competition for the love of sport. In the past 20 years, I have run half marathons (finished one marathon - and decided that distance wasn’t for me), swam in Masters swim meets, and competed in indoor and beach volleyball tournaments all for the joy of competing and more importantly, to keep my brain chemistry in check.

The mind/body connection is real…and so are the lessons that we learn through it.  

When we workout, the endorphins our body creates knock back brain fog and sadness and give us clarity to see how to move forward. Exercise and yoga give us so much body awareness that, for me, has translated to self awareness. Every time I step on my mat, I am reminded I have a weaker side. Too much trauma to my right foot and ankle, my root, has my right side full of scar tissue and my left side compensating for the weakness those injuries have caused. For me balance is a quest, I never really arrive there, but I keep trying so that I don’t lose more ground. We all have strengths and areas that we struggle in our lives, and most likely, they will never even out.

On most days, life feels a lot like my body, unbalanced. But for me, a full and beautiful life isn’t about balance, it’s finding presence in the imbalance that makes me breathe easier. 

I was reminded this week, as I read this beautiful little book, Dear Her, our struggles become our strengths when we face them and allow ourselves to experience them head on, no shortcuts. Life can be hard at any stage. We are shaped by our trials as we walk through the fire and they create patterns, beliefs, aversions, and attractions based on what we allow ourselves to feel as we go through them.

Breakups, injuries, rejection, feeling like we don’t belong, being bullied, moving on, the ways we can have our hearts broken in this world seem endless sometimes and, just like our physical bodies after injury, these encounters with life create scar tissue around our hearts and minds just like physical injury.

At the site of an injury,  scar tissue makes us stiffen up and reduces our mobility if we don’t make attempts to break it up. It can be the same way in life, because trying to avoid pain when it presents itself in our days, leads to a much smaller and less mobile existence. We have to be willing to risk the pain of failure and fatigue to gain the mobility that creates our best life. Often, that isn’t comfortable. When my PT goes after that nasty scar tissue in my foot and ankle it hurts like hell. But, when I walk out of there, I move more freely and create neurological patterns that make my game, and my day, better, more fluid, and stronger.

It works the same way for our hearts and minds. It’s all connected, don’t let your heart be hardened, the beauty of the experience often lies just beneath the pain, and through our example we can show the next generation that there is no shame in the struggle, and that embracing change, and even heart break, creates heart strength. A bigger and freer life stands just beyond our ability to break up that scar tissue and feel again, and we are all strong enough to endure it if we believe.

Happy Birthday Kate! Never be afraid to break up that scar tissue and feel. Life is a good place:)

The Power of Breath

Take a deep breath. It’s become a trademark phrase in my house. Until I had Matthew, and everything that I didn’t want to learn in high school biology actually became relevant to my life, I had no idea what breath actually did for us…besides keep us alive.  I didn’t know that certain types of breath actually make a difference between surviving and thriving; that a breath, a hold, and a slow exhale actually tells our body that everything is ok. Boy, would that have been good for me to know earlier in life.  Children teach us so much though, and I’m grateful for what I have learned about calming both of our systems.  

Being the podcast fanatic that I am, THIS PODCAST, on trauma and healing was fascinating to me.  My creative brain sees connection in so many things, and I’ve been wrestling with the irony that what we seek sometimes is sensory deprivation, because there is always so much stimulus around us (both human and technological), but what we actually need is breath to be able to take in life at our own pace.

As a child, my favorite sensation was to be deep underneath the water; no sound, no air, no weight…liquid heaven. Back then, I wished I didn’t need breath, I thought I would have stayed under forever.  I love to glide through the water, I know how to push for the wall, not turn my head for air, and shave off a tenth of a second. I’ve always been proud of my ability to hold my breath, and see how far I could make it. But I’ll never forget that Wednesday morning swim, after I pulled Matthew out of the pool two days before. The feeling of needing a breath wracked me with guilt, the pool tried to swallow my tears, but I came up panicked and sobbing for the feeling that I imagined he had felt. Healing that trauma has taken a lot of work, and breath, to release, and there is still more to do, for both of us. 

My healing process has sought out the expertise of so many different types of therapists...yogis, body work specialists, traditional therapy, even body work in the water. I can feel it when I am in the presence of a healer, it’s in their hands, their eyes, and their voice. When I think back over my life, I have always sought them out.

Healers are gentle seekers, never boastful or pretend to know it all. They are humble, hard workers with passion for what they do…truly my favorite humans to cross my path.

They are booked solid, doing what that love, and are healing the world, one appointment at a time…I love to shine light on their important work.

Trauma comes in many forms. and, because of my experience, it will never be belittled in my family. I’ve learned though, that it isn’t honored by hovering, shielding, or extra attention, as tempting as that can be for a parent, especially if you have seen your child in harms way, or even emotionally suffering. Healing from trauma asks for presence, a lack of judgment, and a listening ear. And then, if necessary, we can seek out the professionals to take it from there.  

We are all living out our stories, and although we can be mindful with our choices, there are so many things spinning in and out of every day that we never anticipated, asked for, or could have avoided. So, as they say, it’s not what happens to us, it’s how we choose to react that makes the long term difference. 

We can’t outrun trauma, it asks to be worked though to live our best life. From our earliest days, what happens to us stays with us, and has the ability to teach or torture.

If we try to ignore it, it will wake us in the night, reside in our bodies, and eventually, the numbing forces of addiction and self harm will take over and massively reduce our potential and our happiness. We were all meant to shine too bright than to not recover from what this world throws at us. No more holding my breath, back to my mat, I’m choosing to breathe and heal, and hoping to bring the next generation along with me.



Commencement

I sit writing under the comfort of my new weighted blanket.  They are all the rage these days.  They were recommended to me when Matthew was little to calm him and help him sleep, and now everyone is using them…and I must say, it does have quite a soothing effect.  It seems I need this these days, big changes are brewing with Lauren graduating from high school and another, more permanent move on the horizon. I have already lost my keys and my wallet this week, I’ve pushed a little past zen and this blog is coming out a little raw.

Every day the tears come, and I have to sit with the bittersweet realization that my girl is going off to college. Through all of our change, the four of them are a unit and it’s hard to see that shift.  I wake up in the night and picture our mornings, when I was pregnant with Matthew, Luke was in preschool, and Kate was still taking those blissful morning naps.  Lauren was in what, at the time, I thought was cursed PM kindergarten, but now I know those mornings were such a blessing because that was our time. It feels like yesterday. As mom’s we are so often trying to carve out that moment to ourselves, but when I look back, there is nothing that I treasure more than those simple one on one conversations and activities with them, at any age.  I feel so blessed today to know that those bonds that I have worked to build with them, starting with trips to the car wash, Target, and the zoo, have held strong. This week, as Lauren prepares to graduate, I sit and watch this beautiful, independent, and inspiring girl set the tone for her siblings, like she has from day one. 

After everything we have been through as a family, watching them belong to each other is a silver lining of our struggle.  They fit together in the most beautiful way, whether I am with them or not and it makes me so proud.  

I work hard to reframe these milestones, that, in my gut, present me with a deep sadness because my life and family don’t look the way that I thought it would. There has been lots of time on my yoga mat and making the choice to slow down this week, in the midst of so much hustle and change, to take care of myself and honor the feelings (and tears) that keep flooding my system. While I am a huge believer in honoring what we feel, I still struggle sometimes to just let the tears fall. I’m so thankful to my people who remind me to just feel it and let it happen.

The challenges I have faced though have also improved my ability to reframe my experiences.  It’s where that optimist’s lens really comes in handy, and, I think I have figured out the outlook that lifts the graduation fog.  

It’s not an ending, it’s a beginning.  Graduation and commencement, the words are interchangeable, but one is an ending, the other a great new beginning.  

There is so much promise and excitement with beginnings.  New experiences and things to learn, new friends, fresh paint, new views from your windows that have the ability to give a fresh perspective, if we have gathered the right tools from the road we have traveled so far.

Lauren, you have the tools, it seems like you always have.  

Keep what is good, be honest with yourself so you can release the patterns that hold you back, and use what you have learned doing that to embrace the new.

My joke to people that you raised yourself is only partially in jest.  You have always had the keenest sense for what you bring to this life and to other people.  You have a way of being comfortable with your strength without being overbearing and your intrinsic motivation inspires me everyday. You have learned lessons at your age that have taken me half a lifetime to figure out.  I watch as your siblings gravitate to you and learn from your leadership. You have made my job infinitely easier as a mom of four by setting such a strong example for them. They listen to your words that come in what seems like simple sibling banter but is full of so much wisdom. You know what works for you at this point in your life and have the confidence to go after it.  I love to watch you beat back the absolutely natural feeling to conform. It’s a struggle for all of us, but always know that the right people will surround you when you are true to yourself.

So here this morning, we are off to watch you begin... I couldn’t be prouder of the person you are. You will always be the one that started me on this journey that I could not possibly love any more. Keep shining your light in this world, I am so blessed to have lived where it has been cast for the last 18 years and can’t wait to see the next fields that grow because of it. I love you more than you will ever know. Keep being you, it’s like nothing I have ever seen anywhere else.

What's Your Why?

Riding home from Luke’s game last night with my friend and volleyball partner, we got to talking about volleyball, and aging knees and how long we will get to play this game that we love to play so much. To be out on that beach, with dolphins jumping in the water, with other moms that have at least a dozen kids between us, it’s a feeling that is pretty hard to beat. It’s hard to imagine it not happening every week..multiple times.. 

“Do you ever have that thought, when you watch the pros playing next to us, ‘I’m never going to do that’? And it makes you feel kind of shocked.” Vanessa asked me.

“Yes.” I answered immediately, because I have had that feeling. “I call it the ‘I’m never going to win Wimbledon’ phenomenon.” 

I coined this phrase many years ago, it’s not necessarily a sad feeling, I actually noticed it because I was trying to find my own thing…what it was that filled me up, my why…and, besides being a mom, I knew I hadn’t found it yet. In this search, I realized that as much as I loved sports and watching Wimbledon, I was never going to hoist that shiny trophy over my head, so I crossed it off the list and kept seeking, with the realization that I was looking for a level of greatness in my own right. I think this feeling is natural for passionate people to have as we observe our own lives, and realize how much we enjoy them, and how quickly time passes. 

Every week I get a take away that sticks with me from one of the many podcasts I listen to.  This week’s comes from Impact Theory’s interview with best selling author, Mark Manson.  CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

One concept that I found intriguing in this interview was how figuring out our why, our calling, or whatever you would like to call it, isn’t always easy because it comes naturally to us. We don’t recognize it because it’s just normal. We enjoy it so much, we get lost, and logging time towards our progress isn’t a conscious thought, we just flow.  Now I get it, because when I’m writing or speaking to the next generation about the lessons I have learned, time just slips away.

This week, I was fortunate to speak to a group of female athletes in Fresno, my hometown. We talked about leadership, some of the challenges we face as female leaders, and what qualities are most important for us to have if we want to lead.  If you would have said to me five years ago that I would be seeking out speaking opportunities I would have said you’re crazy. What I have come to understand though, is that generational wisdom, imparting the lessons I have learned through my experience to girls, who on one hand I still feel so much like it brings tears to my eyes, but then quickly realize all I have learned over this quick 44 years of life, it just flows. I could have talked for hours.  After the event, to have one of my early mentors, a coach who taught my timid, soft hearted self, to be tough, tell me that people lean in and want to hear what I have to say, I’m humbled…and I’m hooked…because while not everyone’s opinion matters, there are a trusted few, people who have earned the right to weigh in, who mean a lot to my progress.

Although there are so many qualities that are important for a leader to possess, I am big on the concept that as leaders, we need to be self aware.  Knowing ourselves, taking time to reflect, so that we know our strengths and weaknesses, when to listen to our own voice, and when to defer to another trusted voice that can possibly teach us more, all of these things are part of being effective as a leader.  Self awareness also helps us discover our why.

The cool thing is that this world is in need of so many different whys, different missions, we don’t all have to solve every challenge that is out there, but a good life is definitely spent working on at least one of them.  We need to know ourselves to know where our assets can best be put to use…and then we can lead. 

As a female leader, I talked about the burden that women carry, the expectation that we can do it all, balance domestic and professional life, while staying in shape, making home cooked healthy meals, and emotionally supporting every family member, friend, child, and even animal in our life.  That expectation can overwhelm and exhaust us, and I know that firsthand.


“You can have it all, just not all at once.”  -Oprah Winfrey

These are wise words that teach us there is a season and a time for everything.  When I was 27 and giving two babies dinner and baths every night, before my next two were even born, and my sister was working on Capitol Hill, I wondered what I could ever accomplish outside my four walls, not realizing that the answer was coming on a schedule that allowed me to immerse myself in the task at hand, being the mom of four amazing babies…all in good time. Today, I realize what a gift that was.

Enjoy where you are right now, do the job in front of you well, and the way forward presents itself. 


What I also didn’t know at that time was that, more important than any book or article I read, the voice in my head was the loudest and most convincing voice out there. That voice is so influential, it shapes our thinking, and then our path. It tells us what is possible, what we can and can’t do, and for a long time I realize that my voice told me that there were certain things and levels of success that were reserved for a chosen few.  What I thought was humility, was really insecurity and a fear of claiming what was available to me, and to anyone really willing to work consistently hard enough to claim it.  So, I looked out at these hopeful young athletes, and told them about that voice.

“Make sure that voice, the one in your head, is your biggest fan, best coach and most loving mom all in one.” 

It’s yours for the taking, it might not be Wimbledon, but it’s great and it’s meant to be shared with the world.  We’re counting on you.   

The Voice That Matters Most

Matthew turned 12 this week. There’s not a birthday that goes by that I don’t thank God that he’s here with us and take more than a minute to celebrate how far he has come. We spent his birthday evening at his brothers volleyball game, but on the way there, through the always hellish LA traffic we watched, (I listened) to videos of him from when he was little. Even our Czech born au pair Tereza, who saved my sanity when she arrived after Matthew’s accident in 2009, literally to follow him around while I got the other three ready, and who is married with a baby of her own now, came with us to celebrate. Such amazing love and connection born out of so many simple memories, carpools, swim practices and snack bags. We laughed all the way to Loyola.  

As i watch how far Matthew has come from that little guy that I worried so much about to the kid he is today, I am so proud of the progress he has made.  So much speech, OT, PT, diet, doctors, supplements, all sought out with love, not because I believe he needs to be fixed, but because there aren’t many mom’s out there who don’t work to make their child’s day better…and judging by his days at school and even his report card, his are on the upswing.  Some people would be frustrated because it’s impossible to know whether there was one thing that helped the most in his progress to date. What I know is that while there has been no silver bullet that completely alleviated all of his struggles, I won’t leave any stone unturned and, because of that, have meet some amazing world changing people that are a part of our tribe forever. 

There are things about him growing up that I wish I could change, so I have to teach him by the way I live my own life, and nothing inspires me more to make good decisions than teaching my kids. Last week, I watched Matthew while he was in a volleyball lesson on the beach lose focus and begin to watch the guy walking toward him, and I saw his self consciousness take over. He’s still a beginner in the sport (watch out though, he’s supposed to be 6’8 so when he said he wanted to try beach volleyball, I wasn’t going to say no). During his lesson, he will say things like “I’m not good at this.” or even worse “why do I suck?”  He’s just starting, and the thing that matters far more than the way he is passing or serving today, is the way he decides to work and his attitude about his game. The way we talk to ourselves is so important, it gets in so deep and affects the way we feel about ourselves. If that voice in our head isn’t kind, as in Matthew’s case on the beach, we can end up severely limiting our own potential…just with our thoughts. So it breaks my heart to hear him talk like that…on the never-ending to do list is to help him cultivate his own positive self talk. 

The other thing that bothered me about Matthew’s moment that I noticed on the beach was how his focus and discipline were affected when he thought someone was observing him, maybe even watching him critically.  It made me think: How aware are we of other people’s observations of us? If we are aware, are we right about what we think those observations may be? Do other people’s opinions and observations have a role in the way we make our decisions everyday? These are questions that I think about a lot, that I have coached myself through, as I work through the choices that this challenging and beautiful life presents me. Whenever I am choosing, I seek that calm feeling I get when I make a decision that is aligned with my true self. To paraphrase Daniel Amen from the On Purpose podcast by Jay Shetty I listened to this week, 

CLICK TO LISTEN

“when we are 18 we make decisions based on what other people think, when we are 40 we decide we don’t care what other people think, and when we are 60 we realize that other people were never thinking about us that much anyway.”  

What gives us the courage to not care about what other people think? To start with, I don’t like the words “not care” because I find it hard not to care about just about every person that crosses my path, so I prefer to say not let other’s opinions affect my decisions for my own life.  What has changed in my thinking though, is my understanding that we are all operating from our own viewpoint, managing our own ego, and that our opinions are relative to our own situation. So, why should I make a decision based on anyone else’s opinion when it has little, if anything to do with my life, and is generally a function of what is going on in their life. I can have compassion and understanding without letting their opinion about my life be bigger than my own. With this decision, I have had the confidence to live my life as as the truest version of myself today and, instead of aiming to please everyone, which left me drained, I’ve learned to just be me and end up pleasing the right people, those meant for my life, on this day. This way of thinking comes with heavy responsibility. For success to happen we have to keep seeking the truest version of us, wrestle with and admit our struggles, and emerge stronger because we did the hard work. The more time we spend understanding ourselves, the more we understand what decisions are in our own best interest and the less time we spend feeling self conscious about our lives, our abilities and our choices. That battle can be tough, for me it’s come in the form of putting my voice out into the world, learning to set boundaries, and having the courage to show up as the truest version of myself.  Not a day has gone by though, even when I’m feeling uncomfortable, that I don’t get the deepest satisfaction from the growth I know I’m experiencing my putting my real self out there. Day in and day out, I hope with all of my heart that my example sinks in with my kiddos. 

Which brings me lovingly back to my youngest boy. You are comparable to no one.  You have proven how hard you can work, keep working for that consistency.  Know that excuses and blame get you nowhere, I have so much hope and commitment that you will never see that from me. There are so many great waves, games and summer days ahead of you, however they present themselves…go after them with confidence and yes, there will always be a mom who has your back. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there…hardest and best job in the world.

My People

As an introvert, I like to hang out by myself...a lot. But the flip side of that coin is that I love human connection. I’m not one for small talk, I prefer deep conversation, or else silence between two people can be so calming and easy. Growing up, I was never in the “popular crowd”, my sister was three years younger than me and when she got to high school, people would ask me “Are you Andrea’s sister?”...I was a senior!  Despite all of this, I get such joy from the relationships I have built over my lifetime because, the ones that stick, which by this point are adding up, make my days joyful and provide strength in the tough times. 

A good friend of mine says I call these friendships “my people” quite frequently, and, although this isn’t meant to be an exclusive term, it got me thinking. What are the qualities that sustain those relationships, people I return to no matter the miles or experiences between us? 

My people...

  1. They create connection. Probably not a big surprise, but my people aren’t small talkers either. They ask the big questions, we don’t really talk about the weather, but about dreams (at this point for ourselves and our kids), goals, and how to solve the issues of the day...and there are lots of them, so one on one, we could go on forever.  This doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything, just that we have the desire to sink in a little deeper on what makes the world go around…and that conversation is so much bigger than our own experience in our neighborhood.

  2. My people love and encourage growth and change. I’ve discovered as I have gone through challenge and change that my people will provide support when I’m down, but the ones who are really special want to see me rise out of it...and my goal is always to do the same for them.  I think most of us are wired to help when we see struggle, but to honestly help someone and then, when they rise, in part because of the help that you offered, be genuinely happy for them, is a testament to how we keep our own values and ego in check. There is comfort in knowing that someone is the same person you always knew, but the best life is always transforming us and my people support that beautiful change.

  3. My people are feelers, and they use what they feel to figure out their passion and the meaning in their lives.  They use what moves them to create  change in this world on the myriad of challenges we face. You may never hear their names in the news, so many good people are out there every day teaching the next generation with action that will never be celebrated by society, but they are touching lives, healing hurts, and creating change where it’s needed. The people they do come into contact with have their days, and sometimes even their lives changed forever. From inclusion in schools, to raising up the next generation of leaders, to changing lives by expanding their families through adoption, to working on sustainable natural resource policies, they pick their issue and go at it with all of their heart and mind in a way that is so inspiring to me.

  4. My people focus on themselves. They believe that the change they want to see in the world starts with them and their next right choice...and the example inspires a chain reaction. We support each others happiness and trust each other’s judgment. Like attracts like, no excuses. 

As life continues to grow, flow and change, I couldn’t be more grateful for the people in my corner, loving me, encouraging me, and inspiring me with the way they live their days. My greatest hope is that I return the favor to them on a consistent basis. Thanks for being my people. 

The Wisdom in The Lyrics

I love singers and songwriters because their lyrics drift through my life on a daily basis. Music has a profound impact on our brain. It’s Prom, graduation AND birthday season in my house. My youngest will be 12 in less than two weeks and my oldest graduates from high school in less than a month. There has been one Prom and about to be another as my high schoolers go to different schools. I’m headed for a weekend at Stagecoach with one of my oldest and dearest friends and three 18 year olds, so I’m bouncing back and forth between Fast by Luke Bryan and Keep Yourself Alive by Queen. 

There is a scene in my head that I flash back to frequently these days, the sky was on fire with one of those almost summer sunsets and I was riding around in the back of a truck around Woodward Park probably 10 days before I graduated from high school with a bunch of friends. It was as if God told me to time stamp this memory for later, a simple moment I would want to come back to, my old soul knowing for some reason that life wouldn’t be this easy again. 


I was a late bloomer. I didn’t drink or smoke in high school, didn’t have sex, didn’t sneak out, or try to do any things that are so normal for the teenage brain to flirt with on a daily basis. It’s a time of exploration, of feeling grown up, but I wasn’t a risk taker, I was a pleaser and the idea of getting in trouble scared me to death. All of our brains are wired so differently, I don’t judge a single kid (or try really hard for not anyone), as humans we all have impulsive moments and are capable of the greatest triumphs and the worst choices. And then there’s the stuff that is just outside of our control...which is a lot. 

Now I’m raising teenagers of my own and there is so much compassion in my heart for what goes on in their days and the choices they are faced with at every turn. I’m trying hard to be faithful, graceful, and not let it be such a scary place, knowing that this is their time to figure out so much about the freedoms that they feel, but wanting to hold tight to the boundaries that I have always put up for them as I still try to communicate those messages on a daily basis when they fly past me. I can see the time on the horizon where we will be friends, because they are capable of such amazing conversation, and I can remember being their age and feeling so grown up, but we aren’t  there yet and my job isn’t done. I’ve got more than a few thoughts as I watch my kids take in these rites of passage that are still so fresh in my own mind that I can see my own graduation cap flying up into the air. 

Like yourself, lead yourself.

Sometimes it’s a tall order at this age, especially today in the land of 24/7 likes, knowing what everyone else is doing (or at least thinking you do) and a lack of time to be by yourself unless you exert the extreme discipline it takes to make that a reality. It’s tough to know yourself, which is a must for liking yourself, and to start to get your feet set on your own path.

Know that you are enough, just as you are today, without trying to conform or impress. 

Pushing limits is a hallmark of the teenage mind and heart. Even today, I’m a bit envious of that sense of freedom, unattached to our own numbered days...that feeling that life will go on forever that comes with being a teenager. Remembering that feeling makes it scary as hell on the parenting side. But it’s also a tough age to feel comfortable in your own skin, to be who you want to be for yourself, not to impress anyone on either end of your world, be it friends or parents…fitting in on one end, expectation on the other. It’s not about either, being true to yourself, is the key.

Don’t let the story you put out there separate too much from the from story behind the scenes. It’s a raged and exhausting race you don’t want to keep up with.

You can never go back and life gets complicated fast. Things like addiction, the dangers that lurk in this world, especially when your consciousness is altered, are a parent’s worst nightmare. Let sleeping dogs lie for as long as you can. Yes, experimentation is normal, but you will either find out that altered states get old pretty fast, or end up having to reverse course down a road you really never intended to go down. Scary things that can’t be taken back happen fast to the best of us...and yet teenage brains aren’t developed to feel these feels yet. It’s why we as parents sound like broken records. It’s never about judging “good kids” and “bad kids”, because we have the years to know that we are all one decision away from our next greatest or worst moment.

Trust that there is no judgment, the greatest thing about being a parent is knowing that you couldn’t love a being any more, no action required. There is no expectation of greatness, my most sincere wish is just to keep you breathing and safe and watch you take it from there. With all the love in my heart, finish this season strong, there is so much good ahead. And Matthew...I may want to stop you at 12 for awhile.


Faith, Presence & Solitude

Overwhelm: (v.) To bury or drown beneath a huge mass.

I looked up this definition because it’s a feeling I have been experiencing a lot this week and wanted to see what Webster had to say about it, and it ended up hitting pretty close to home. To drown, a sight and experience that I wish I didn’t have such an intimate and vivid picture of in my brain. Breath keeps us from drowning. I know what the absence of breath looks like, it’s very scary. I have learned on so many levels, whether it was seeing my youngest child deprived of it after pulling him out of our backyard pool almost 10 years ago, to the life I feel when I take it in on my yoga mat and know that I am not drowning under the pressures I put on myself, and simply need to slow it down and stay present. I have seen and experienced life at both it’s fullest and most fragile edges, and it has given me a perspective that benefits me every day. 

Sometimes we have to walk through the worst to come to the

realization of what is great in life.

Nonetheless, overwhelm is a real feeling  and one of the first signs of anxiety. When it hits you, even when we set goals with the greatest intentions, and action needs to be taken to get there (as is always the case), the feeling of where do I start or go next can be crippling. I used to mistake overwhelm for laziness because of that feeling of shutdown, but I understand now, that it’s time to break down things in small bite size pieces and attack them one at a time. I have found that multitasking is actually the killer of efficiency and quality work, and only adds to my feelings of chaos. Presence, rather than letting my mind think too far ahead, beats back the overwhelm.

The antidote for overwhelm…faith, presence and solitude. 

I’m grateful that I learned from a young age that solitude was a great calmer of my spirit.  I remember even when I was young, wanting to retreat to my room to be alone, not in a depressed way, but to slow things down and give me time to figure them out.  I was also always the first one up at a slumber party as a kid, and had to be super quiet with slumbering roommates in college.  But thankfully those situations sent me outside where it was quiet and I discovered the pink light, the peace of the morning, and the almost immediate relief of any feelings of anxiety or overwhelm.  Being outside also brings my mind back to a more awefilled, child like state, which is one of the quickest ways to shake off some of the heaviness we put on our adult lives. To me, there is no better feeling than when the world is still quiet.  In the morning, anything is possible. 

After I had my second child 17 years ago, I would wake with a racing heart, sure something bad had happened or was about to, and found myself walking the hallways, checking on my two little ones incessantly, until that pink light would come over the horizon and the feeling would almost instantly fade away.  Morning brings on a newness and a peace that is different than the fullness of the rest of the day. It’s the time to get set, breath, and focus on what lies ahead.  Morning routine for me is tea or coffee, fresh air, deep breathing/meditation/prayer and exercise.  Then the day goes on from there, and I’m ready to take on whatever comes my way.  Maybe this is why I’m flying through this new book The 5am Club by Robin Sharma I’m halfway through after buying the book after listening to the author on this podcast, and already consider it a must read for anyone interested in personal growth and improving the world around them.  

Last but not least, last because it ties it all together, faith…my other great reliever of anxiety and overwhelm. My faith gives me the knowledge that there is something greater than my own experience, that wants me to seek and be fulfilled, and yet loves me just as I am today, gives me the freedom to swing for the fence and miss, or hit a home run and know that I am enough either way. As long as my intentions are good, and the work I put in is honest and diligent, I just need to be myself and go for it with my best judgment and the rest isn’t mine to hold. The world is full of variables that I can’t control, but I don’t have to because it’s being handled by a power far greater than me.

It’s Easter weekend, and I am so grateful for this faith that has brought me through painful moments and transformed me from my most afraid to a stronger and brighter person that can bring optimism and hope on every day, not just the shiny ones. I talk often about faith being different than religion. Faith is personal, between you and a higher power, based on your exposure and upbringing.  I long ago stopped trying to answer the questions of who is going where and who is right, knowing it isn’t up to me to judge. I know that the judgment and imperfections of people can get in the way of how we experience our own faith, I’ve felt it firsthand so many times and it makes me momentarily uncomfortable.  But the beauty, grace, and strength that my faith has given me comes from a source so much deeper than the imperfections that come with being human. My faith is the pink light on the horizon telling me, this world may not be perfect, but it’s yours…slow down, enjoy what I have created for you and help make it better one moment at a time.  No need to feel overwhelmed, I’ve got it handled.  Happy Easter! 

To Learn and Teach

I sit here with a cat lying on my computer, which is often the case, so I have taken to writing blogs on my IPhone, both because of the cat’s affinity for the keyboard and, because I can write and collect thoughts on the go. 

The deeper I sink into this writing life, and my experiences become writing material, I’m trying hard to walk the line of being present and taking it all in, and remembering the feels from brief notes so I can take them deeper when I finally arrive to a quiet creative corner. I wake up in the night, jot down an edge of consciousness thought that snuck in before I fully awoke, and fall back asleep. 

Writing has helped me in so many ways. It has built my confidence, helped me sort through deep feelings and, in short, given me deep gratitude for my life. Journals are my favorite way to go back and see how far I’ve come with my mindset and abilities, which keeps me striving forward when my energy is waning. I truly believe we never “arrive” and are meant to enjoy the ride, learn from it, and keep moving ourselves forward. 

As I get ready to launch a Life Design Coaching business, I have been thinking a lot about how I went from:

“Life coaching?  What the heck is that?” 

to 

“Using my story to help myself and other people sounds pretty cool.” 

Even when I was younger, all the way back to hating nearly every day of junior high that didn’t have a game that would get me out of class early to play, I knew how to make my days better. It was always, music, alone time, sports, one or two good friends, and my cat that would bring me back to that place where I could say,

“tomorrow is going to be better.”

So basically, nothing has changed. I’ve just learned a few more lessons along the way that have made my life a much more sustainably happy place and it’s good to take inventory on some of my favorite realizations.

I am happier today because:

  1. I stopped trying to fit in.

    In this world, it’s common for any of us to judge a book by it’s cover, even though we never really know the full story. Maybe we go as far as to read others like a picture book, but rarely like a novel, which leaves us with huge gaps in knowledge, making assumptions and affecting the way we relate to each other. That’s why I’m thankful today to not be afraid of the work that it takes to truly know myself…flaws, triggers, and all the good stuff. Everyday, I use this knowledge to drive myself forward and then, the rest of the world, and what they think, do, or say fades away. Sometimes things still hurt, but I know they can’t change who I am unless I let them, so I just keep the focus on my own improvement and let the rest fall away as best I can, knowing that no one feeling or situation lasts forever. We all have different stories and, in the end, we earn connection with being real, not changing ourselves to fit in.

  2. I learned to trust myself.

    As humans, we all make mistakes, and for a long time, I would beat myself up pretty bad over even the little ones. This habit made me feel less than, and held me back by crushing my energy before I could set and accomplish big goals. This mindset kept me treading water instead of swimming forward, even though I knew there were greater places I wanted to go. When you don’t trust yourself, the other voices are louder and make those goals and places feel so far away. They can also make you question situations that make you happy. Today, I can take one step at a time, and avoid the overwhelm that comes with the opinions of others, because of the trust I have built in myself. I have a deeper understanding of what is best for me, and there is a much smaller circle that I allow to weigh in on that.

  3. I breathed deeper, reacted slower  and accomplished more.

    Basically, this is my thank God for yoga point. Deep breathes literally stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and bring a state of calm to the body. I don’t think I had ever felt the depths of that calm before I started my yoga practice. In that place, urgency and overwhelm fade away, and I can slow down and know that not everything that crosses my path should get a reaction from me. What I learned on my mat, I have taken off, and the most amazing thing about it is that in this stillness, I accomplish more. No more running around, giant to do list, feeling frantic. Just fulfillment in what is accomplished, and a calm plan of how to work through what lays before me. With this understanding, I can roll with what comes at me and build confidence as I realize that I am far stronger than I once thought. This calmness leads to productivity and cuts away the anxiety that comes with second guessing and taking in too many other opinions. We are the writers of our own stories and need to experience both the joy and the responsibility of that fact.

My entire life, I have enjoyed being coached. I’ve used the wise words of others and their drive to inspire me and teach me toughness that I didn’t think I had in me. I’ve also learned a lot spending years listening and pushing other people forward to achieve their goals when I was afraid of the spotlight. We all have things everyday that we can work on to be better and inspire ourselves and those that we love. We all have times we need to ask for help or can be the one who lends the hand to someone else. More acceptance, less judgment…something I am focusing on every day. I am energized by the thought of a world that works like this.

If we do the work, and ask for help when we need it, this journey has no limits for any of us. What would add to your happiness? What stands in the way of that? I would love to help you answer these questions and more if you are feeling stuck. With solid listening, complete trust in your abilities to handle what comes at you and no drama, I have the ability to help you see life circumstances in new ways. In the end, learning and teaching are not so far apart and together, if we use our experiences to find our truth, we make our own story great.



Coming Home



“We should have these conversations in front of people,” he said.

The first time I heard that statement, I 100% thought he was crazy.

“No pressure, just tell me when you are ready.”

And the talks would continue…about life, coaching, parenting, leadership, principles and reality, values and vision. From the first time we spoke at “The Way GRV” book booth in Dallas, Texas almost 3 years ago, Coach Chris’s and my perspectives, although very different, seemed to bounce back and forth with ease, which seems to be a rarity in this world today. Society, seems to find many ways to label and try to segment us off...age, race, gender, political party, sexuality and the list goes on. But I believe in the human ability to relate and learn, if we find the courage to listen and admit that we have the potential to be changed by another. We are so much more alike than different.

I have experienced a great deal of growth from both challenging my beliefs, and standing my ground. I can be equally inspired by what a chip on your shoulder can do for accomplishment, and yet believe so deeply in the ideas that I reserve headspace for, that I have the ability to speak up when I don’t agree; not too long ago that wasn’t the case. I know that being real is at the heart of my expression and that the better we understand ourselves and how our life experiences relate to universal truths like love, forgiveness, courage, and intuition, the easier it is for us to find sustained happiness and help others along the way. I operate from the premise that we are all works in progress doing the best we can. It’s optimistic for some, but it works for me. The more we focus on the way we play our hand, instead of whether the guy next to us is bluffing or has a royal flush, the better our days will be, and the greater ability we give ourselves to maximIze our potential.

These are some of my truths that come from a lot of soul searching since that Dallas meeting in 2016. My opinion and ability to challenge my comfort zone changed for the better since then as well. So last Tuesday night, The Optimists Journal, my generational learning, storytelling venture, held its first speaking event in my hometown, Fresno. Even though I’m a introvert, life for me is about the connection I feel with people and those moments when we are all feeling understood. One of the good things about getting older is feeling the gratitude i have for the relationships built with others who have helped strengthen and support me throughout my life. From the closest relationships like my parents, children’s godparents, and friends of 20 plus years who have taught me the meaning of loyalty and trust, to my high school coach who taught me about grinding and being tough, and even the pharmacists who would ease my mind with their knowledge (and home delivery, thanks Bullard Pharmacy!) when one of my kids was suffering from their 30th ear infection, Tuesday night filled my heart with so much joy for the connections we share.

There were so many high points to this conversational experience, my favorites among them were the questions asked by the audience and the engagement I felt with them, especially when they said they didn’t want an intermission! But, as with any first event, there are also things to learn from that I want to improve as we go.

Tuesday night was my first conversational experience with an audience, and, although Chris and I have a lot of words between us, there was little to no rehearsal because I want my talks to reflect the flow of life, and…

life is not a rehearsal.

My writing, and now my talks, are about greater universal truths...confidence, forgiveness, self love, and so many others. That being said, there is no single situation or experience that I am trying to shed light on through my conversation. One of the things I have learned is that we each create our own destiny and for me to have an opinion about what is anyone else to own, does very little to change anything. And the truth is that we rarely have enough information to make an accurate judgment anyway.

I have done hard work to understand why I stand where I do today. Themes of fear, unworthiness, and lack of self confidence are among the things I have worked on to improve my own story. With the growth i have made in these areas, they are among my favorite things to write and talk about in hopes that it can help someone else on their journey.

From the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank you enough for showing up, engaging, listening and helping me grow in my journey Fresno. You’ve always been there before, but it feels so good to know that nothing has changed. Best people, love of my roots.

Would you do me a huge favor Fresno? If you were in the audience, send me your feedback! Things you liked, areas for improvement, more that you want to talk about? Tell me everything, I can take it!

CLICK TO TAKE THE SURVEY!

Thanks for listening and being a part of my story.