Gentle afternoon rain



Last week I attended a performance: gentle afternoon rain.


It was warm enough outside that my bedroom window was open. As I finished cooking some veggies in the kitchen, I thought I heard a slight mist. It seemed so out of place with how bright the sun had been shining most of the afternoon. “Is it raining, Dino?” I asked aloud, as if my dog could confirm my suspicions. I walked into the bedroom to see, and there it was–rain falling softly, drawing me in closer for the show.


Next thing I knew, I found myself sitting at the foot of the bed, directly facing the window, staring out and eating my lunch by the sound of the falling rain.


I watched and listened with reverence, delighted by the feelings of eagerness and satisfaction that began to build inside of me as if I were attending a most magnificent performance live at Her Majesty’s Theatre.


My windowsill set the frame like a stage, and the stillness outside was the backdrop that featured the raindrops doing their thing.


I listened as the drops all evenly fell. And as I finished eating my food, the rain started to slow. A brief intermission to put down my bowl and let Dino hop up to snuggle in my lap. And there we sat, watching the stillness out the window and listening to the rain.


I breathed in deeply and remembered the time I watched my dad open the side door of our house, to stand there, looking out through the screen at the rain, breathing in the refreshing scent of invisible swirls of goodness. Fresh air meandering in, there in abundance for the receiving. I don’t know if he knew I was watching but the way he savored those moments with such purpose and wonder changed something in me forever.


Still on my bed, I listened as the rain accumulated. Larger drops began to fall on new things, creating fancy rhythms and delicate sounds. And then came the gentle rushing sound of tiny streams, flowing through the gutter or following the bend of the downstairs curb. Until the showers began to taper once more and finally slowed to a stop. And with that, the show was over and the sun came out again.


Now as I relive the story to share it with you, I find it curious that the experience doesn’t feel small, nor especially large. It feels softly satisfying. And perhaps this quiet intensity is the mightiest power there is. From stillness and softness comes the strength.


It seems life is just waiting for us to offer it the reverence it deserves. Not out of a desire for selfish recognition but because it knows the nourishment that will be brought to our souls and the contentment that will fill our hearts. It knows that it will stir things within us and unlock new secrets of who we are. And what pure and generous love is this, to want us to see its beauty, only so that we may feel and know our own.


Ah, may we all make a little space to savor this today–whatever beauty we can sense, wherever we are. Because the performance is always happening. It’s just a matter of hearing the whispers that call us to its display.


Sending much love & joy to you this week,


What do trailers for Downton Abbey have to do with the holidays?

There it was in my inbox.  An email from MASTERPIECE.  This could only mean one thing: news of Downton Abbey!


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With great excitement, I clicked the link in the email right away to watch the preview of the final season that begins in January.



I scrolled down after I’d finished watching the video and there, among other related videos, was another one labeled, “Downton Abbey 6: UK Trailer.”  So, naturally, I watched.



And as the teary-eye-inducing trailer came to an end, I was stunned.  Captivated, really, by how a trailer with such a remarkably different feel could be created from the exact same season of the show.


The preview that was created for the United states puts its focus on celebration, ceremony, excitement, and a new beginning.  While the trailer intended for the UK features loss, saying goodbye and a season of life coming to an end.


In each new beginning something is lost, and each new adventure often comes with a goodbye.  So neither one is the full tale.


But still.  The exact same season.  Completely different spin.


One could say that our lives are like the season of the show and how we choose to frame them in our minds is like the trailer.  It’s all about which scenes you pick, the angle of the camera, which words the characters say, and what music you choose to play.  And they would be right; how we choose to frame our experiences does hold great power.


But there’s another way to look at it that feels more meaningful to me today.  And that is to recognize that real life is not simply made up of sound bites or single glances.  And the trailer isn’t the whole story any more than someone’s Facebook posts give an accurate representation of his or her life.


That’s because life itself is more than just a trailer or news feed.


Life has more depth.


Life is the sum of all of it.


And the whole, honest, miserable, and brilliant thing deserves to be honored.


So as we find ourselves in this season of beautiful holidays, may we honor everything about our experience.


May we honor the warmth of our homes and the abundance that surrounds us.  May we honor the breaths that fill our lungs and the moments of shared laughter and connection with those we love.


And in addition, perhaps this year we can also make space to honor the emptiness felt when thinking of those we wish could be at our side, the frustration that arises when things don’t turn out just as we planned, or whatever else finds its way into our lives.


Let’s welcome every little bit.  And honor it all.


With a deep and thankful breath,




Why giving things away is the absolute BEST!

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror.  As I stared at my reflection, wearing the red Chiefs sweatshirt, I noticed some things.  I didn’t like the way it looked.  I didn’t like the way it felt.  And I didn’t like the way I felt wearing it.


It was uncomfortable.  I felt droopy and kind of weighed down.  All of this could only mean one thing: the time had come to let it go.


I took a few minutes to remember how much fun my brother and I had together that crisp and sunny October weekend five years ago.  It was the first trip I’d made back to the Midwest on my own, and I flew into town for a quick visit and a Chiefs game.  Naturally, this meant stopping at the store to buy some Chiefs gear on the way.


But now, holding the sweatshirt my hand, my mind carefully clicked through the following:


  1. I wasn’t going to wear this thing again.
  2. Giving it away would not erase any of my cherished memories that were created while wearing it.
  3. It would be awesome if someone else could have the opportunity to wear and enjoy it.


And just like that, the years of keeping it stored it the back of my closet, thinking I would or should wear it again, finally came to an end as I added it to a bag of items destined for Goodwill.  Then I went about my day, happily imagining a Chiefs fan unexpectedly stumbling across it in Portland, thrilled to have something new to wear on game days this season.


A few days later, my mom came over to load everything up.  She took the first couple bags down to the car and came back WEARING the sweatshirt!  And it looked fantastic on her!  Tell me you agree!


Chiefs Collage gold corners


I experienced FAR more joy in those first five minutes of seeing her wear the sweatshirt than I did in the entire 5 years it had been in my possession.  All of the things that made it less than ideal for me–the orangey shade of red and the way the collar pops up in the back–are the exact things that make it perfect for her!  Needless to say, I had no idea that the Chiefs fan to find treasure in my old sweatshirt would turn out to be my very own mom!  I was, and still am, thrilled!


Maybe you have something similar in your possession– something small, something you hardly think about, but something that if you were to take a second to consider it, you’d realize there’s some memory, emotion, or “should” attached to it.  I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below and I can’t wait to hear if you experience the same sweet taste of freedom that I did.


Because this simple sweatshirt didn’t take up much room.  I didn’t think of it all that often.  And yet, it was sucking energy and joy from my life without me even knowing it.  I only realize this now because of the feelings of lightness and freedom I felt once I’d let go.  It became a release of guilt that I didn’t even know I was carrying around–for not having worn it enough, for not having gotten my money’s worth, etc.


So it turns out, I let go of something more than just a sweatshirt.  And I was rewarded tenfold, receiving something SO much better in return.


Big surprise, little things are powerful.  This definitely shouldn’t be a surprise at this point, but somehow I find myself in awe of that simple truth EVERY time it pops up.


Simple yet profound.  Small but mighty.  It never gets old.


Wishing you freedom and JOY,

And some awe for good measure,


A toast in honor of doing scary-exciting things

A few of you mentioned that last week’s email landed in your spam folder.  Not sure why that happened but just in case you missed my exciting announcement of naming the blog “this genuine life,” you can read it here.


bday edit


It was such a rush of excitement that led to finally declaring the new blog title!  It was nerve wracking but exciting, so I took the leap.  And the next morning I woke up wondering if I’d made a terrible mistake.


Perhaps this has happened to you.


That certain situation where you get caught up in the whirlwind of the moment until reality sets in, leaving you with a pit in your stomach the size of the grand canyon and no idea how it got there.


It’s the same way I felt the day after I brought Dino home from the Oregon Humane Society.  And bringing him home turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  So if you’ve had this experience too, I think we might be onto something.  We are looking alive and we are playing the game. {three claps}


And that’s something to celebrate!


So what’s behind the magic here?  Just plain exciting might not be enough of a leap.  And just plain scary might mean you’re headed for a path through a never-ending, deep, dark forest.  But the combination, a captivating blend of both, creates a surge of power that will propel you forward into living the most extraordinary life that you are capable of living.


And the best part is that it doesn’t matter how the scary-exciting thing you decide to try turns out.  Everything we do now helps lay the foundation for what is to come.  So even if the action you choose today doesn’t pan out the way you think it will or you change your mind, it will still lead you somewhere new.  Somewhere with a  unique vantage point.


The thing you pick may not be the thing that ultimately sticks, but it may be the very thing that will lead you to something that does.


And the something it leads you to could be the most incredibly wonderful thing that ever happens to you.  Something you wouldn’t have been able to discover without first taking the leap onto the first stepping stone of the path.


And it’s that perfect blend of scary and exciting that lets you know you’re going in the right direction.


{ fear + excitement = right path }


So what feels scary-exciting to you today?  What dream do you have that is thrilling or feels like such a reach that you’d either be scared if it came true or you’d be too scared to even try?


Now pick one teeny tiny turtle step you can take in the direction of that dream this week.


I already wrote this blog post so now it’s your turn. ;)  I’d love to hear all about your dreams and turtle steps in the comments below!


Here’s to the beautiful and continuous unfolding of our dreams! {clink, clink}



Some thoughts on ‘genuine’ & a new blog title

This week I’d like to give you a sneak peek at something I’ve been contemplating for quite a while.  I’ve been itching to have a name for the blog but I personally have been changing so much these days that I keep holding off, thinking I might change my mind and regret jumping the gun.  But at this point, what I’m about to share with you today is something that has felt pretty solid for me for at least a year now…so we’re just going to go with it!  Yup, I’m taking the leap, people.  Are you ready to jump in with me?




About six years ago, during a different unbelievably challenging time while my dad was terminally ill (it still feels strange to hear that), I couldn’t read regular fiction because it all seemed too trivial.  I just couldn’t make myself care about characters who agonized and obsessed over clothes, boyfriends and careers.


Walking through Powell’s Books one dreary Portland afternoon, a book on the sale shelf caught my eye.  The title read Miracle in the Andes.  With a quick flip of the book and a glance at the blurb, I decided the book was destined to be mine.  I took it home, started reading and couldn’t put it down.  Inside, Nando Parrado shares the story of how he survived a plane crash in the Andes.  I found it inspiring and I learned things that helped me through that time in my life.  In fact, some of those exact lessons have become even more a part of who I am today than I ever could have imagined.


Near the end of the book, a specific passage seemed to leap of the page at me.  I was captivated by the depth to which it mirrored how I had been feeling in my own life.  So I wrote it down in a little notebook and have referred back to it many times since.  It goes like this.


“I had been thinking of the disaster as horrible mistake, as an unscripted deviation from the happy story of the life I had been promised.  But now I began to understand that my ordeal in the Andes was not an interruption of my true destiny, or a perversion of what my life was SUPPOSED to be.  It simply WAS my life, and the future that lay ahead was the only future available to me.  To hide from this fact, or to live in bitterness and anger, would only keep me from living any genuine life at all.  Before the crash, I took so much for granted, but the mountains showed me that life, any life, is a miracle.”

{I think putting a couple of the words in all caps might have been my doing.  That’s just how I wrote it in my notebook, though, so I’m not sure.}


At the time that I first read this I didn’t know anything about life coaching or what it would feel like to be free of the pain that all of our “shoulds” tend to cause us in life.  But deep down, something resonated in a big way.  Probably because that was the point when all of the tragedy and heartbreak that no one ever thinks is going to come knocking at their door started showing up at mine.


For most of my life I did my best to be positive in all circumstances, diligently learning everything I could from each experience and situation.  This is all well and good except for the fact that it turned out that most of the time, I was doing it to keep from acknowledging what was true for me and how I really felt.


But what illness has done for me, is help me to be genuine, to be honest with myself, and to accept who I am, where I am, what I think, and how I feel.  Because it was in my darkest moments, when enthusiasm felt like nothing but a distant dream, that I discovered I could always muster genuine.  It was at those times when trying to be happy or hopeful just seemed too much to ask, that I finally learned to simply let myself be and allow that to be enough.  And today, that is still the place where I find the inspiration and hope to pull me through.


This is why I’m planning to call the blog This Genuine Life.  A place that’s all about being genuine, living a genuine life, and making the most of the only future we have available to us.


There’s a part of me that thinks I should come up with something more flashy, more exciting.  But to this day, genuine feels right.  Genuine feels true.  And genuine feels like something I can always count on to create the space for all the beautiful things I’d love more of in my life, like love, joy, grace, abundance, and freedom.


I have so many thoughts about this new blog title and theme that I’m not even sure how to fully articulate yet.   But you can trust that slowly but surely, as they’re ready, I’ll share them with you.


And like I said, I’ve been hesitant to give the blog a name because I know myself and I know how I like to change things.  But by committing to being genuine, change is part of the deal.  So consider yourself forewarned. {wink}


Chomping at the bit to hear what you think!



P.S.  I’ll literally keep track of the yeas and nays that roll in because I appreciate having you as part of this community and I truly care what you think.  So leave a comment below or on the post over on Facebook.  If you love it, I’d be happy to know.  And if you think it would be a huge mistake that I’d regret forever and ever…please, DO tell me and help save me from myself! {wink}


Tootsie Roll Pops: the sweet side of life lessons

Life lessons are not items to be completed or crossed off a list.  This is decidedly fortunate or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it.


Life lessons are like Tootsie Roll Pops.


tootsie roll pops


Or should I say, learning a life lesson is like trying to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop without using your teeth.  It can be painful.  It can be frustrating.  And you can just so badly want to get to the middle and be done with it already.


But at the same time, the closer you get to the center the more delicious and exciting it gets.


This is quite the combination and more than once, I’ve caught myself marveling at how profoundly annoying yet uniquely beautiful this is.  In respect to the life lessons themselves, not Tootsie Roll Pops.  Although…those DO certainly sound delicious.


Anyway, this happened to me just a few weeks ago.  With the lessons, not real Tootsie Roll Pops.  *Ugh, now I really want a Tootsie Roll Pop!*


I had the opportunity to learn something again for what felt like the billionth time.  In the beginning it felt miserable and I wished I could just skip ahead and mark it off the list.  


But once I made it to the other side, do you know what I realized?  If I had stopped when I first thought I’d learned the lesson and mastered it well enough, I never would have made it to the place where I am now.  I wouldn’t have been able to move past the surface level understanding and I wouldn’t feel it deep in my bones in the same way.


I’ve now been relishing the level of peace I know because of the way I was challenged to press forward, moving deeper and deeper into a beautiful loving center filled with peace.


Try looking back to wherever you were when you started your own journey and celebrate how far you’ve come.  May you savor that sweetness today.


And my hope is that the next time you reach one of those moments with the desperate desire to cross a lesson off the list as “learned for good,” the memory of that sweetness, how great it feels on the other side, will help carry you through.  And just know that each time around the outside gets you that much closer to all of the chocolatey goodness that’s waiting for you at the core.


With love, laughter, and Tootsie Roll Pops!



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A new kind of joy

Check out this gem I found in my writing folder!  It was meant to come sometime after The little girl with the sparkle in her eye.  Enjoy!


a new kind of joy


I don’t remember exactly what the instructor said on the phone.  I believe it was something related to teaching because I found myself filled with such resentment for the way teaching, as a profession, is viewed that I hung up the phone and began to cry.  I’m too young to be this cynical, I thought.  I deeply missed the person I used to be, the one with the sparkle in her eye, who believed anything was possible.


I would imagine that for all of us there comes a day when the rose colored glasses of innocence through which we look at the world–the ones that gradually get scratched and chipped–are ultimately shattered.  For me, it happened in a few fell swoops over the course of the last ten years.


Disappointment, heartbreak, and devastating loss in more forms than I would have thought possible in such a short amount of time.


There have been a series of moments over the years, maybe you’ve had some too–the ones where it becomes painfully clear that you’ve grown up to find that the world is not at all as you thought it would be.  As you think it should be.


Acknowledging this is how I first began to bridge the gap between what I thought life should be and life as it is.  But ultimately it takes being willing to let go of what we thought life would or should be in order to claim the one genuine life we each have right in front of us.


I’ve come to believe once again in the possibilities for my future, but in a new way.  I can’t simply hit the rewind button and get that little girl back.  I’m not that little girl anymore and never again can I have the joy she experienced in her innocence.


But perhaps my change in experience and perception unlocks a new kind of joy.  A truer joy.  Not the joy of innocence, but a joy that comes from knowing suffering and having the courage to somehow find peace and beauty within it.  A joy that comes, not from believing nothing bad will ever happen but from knowing that tough stuff does happen, and trusting that you will be okay anyway.


Now THAT is the kind of joy I choose to claim every single day.  And each day, it feels better and brighter.


What about you?  What kind of joy feels most true to you right now?


With the joy of a thousand puppies!




It’s who you are, not what you do

the secret but somewhat obvious thing behind what you do


During this time of physical illness I’ve thought a lot about what I’ll want to do when I’m well again.  Mostly, I joke, but with all sincerity, that I want a vacation.  That I want to just do whatever it is I want to do whenever I want to do it and enjoy every second of it!  I want to go to the beach.  I want to run, and dance, and skip.  I want to do agility training with my dog.  I want to learn modern calligraphy.  I want to visit places of ancient history and stand in awe, feeling deeply connected to all of humanity.


You get the idea.


But the other thing I’ve thought a lot about is what I’ll want to do to make a living, whether I’ll return to teaching, create a program for kids outside of the public school system, start a coaching practice for adults, become an author, etc.  And for now, I always end up at the same answer–I don’t know.


For a long time I’ve desperately wanted to know the answer, experiencing various amounts of peace within this phase of, “I don’t know right now, and that’s okay.”  But what I’ve come to realize is that figuring it out doesn’t require anywhere near as much pressure as I’d been heaping on top of it.  And what matters even more than what I choose is the fact that it will be me doing it.  I can choose whichever path brings me the most joy when the time comes and I can’t tell you how unbelievably freeing that feels.  Talk about taking the pressure off!


And the same is true for you.  It is what you bring to whatever you do that matters.  Unless you’re a sociopath who finds pleasure in harming others…which, as a lovely person who gets my emails, I trust you are not.


It’s who you are that makes what you do meaningful.


Sure, there may be types of service that your soul is called to more than others but no matter what, your purpose is bigger and more precious than any label or occupation.


At Luther College we were reminded of the term vocation often and were encouraged to consider what Frederick Buechner calls, “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”


This works for on a grand scale but it’s also true for the little things.  And chances are, there is something you’re already doing, that’s inherent in who you are, that is helping to make the world a better place.  Find that, and focus upon it.  And I promise, the joy that you discover there will propel you forward to uncover even more of what you love and what you are meant to do while you’re here.


And I would LOVE to hear what happens!


I am sending so much appreciation for who you are and what you bring to the world in the unique and exact way that only you can.


Big hugs,



P.S.  I’m a little late in getting the word out but…

This summer Martha Beck is offering some fun sale-priced product bundles that she’s calling “fundles.”  :)  I’m an affiliate since as far as I’m concerned she practically has the Midas touch, where everything she has a hand in creating is pure gold, but feel free to head over, check them out, and decide for yourself!


The thing that changes everything

the thing that changes everything


I woke up one morning feeling so special.  Not in an arrogant, better-than-everyone-else sort of way in which this statement might normally be taken, but in a genuine awareness of how special we all are.  You.  Me.  Everyone.


And it is this deepening awareness that so strongly makes me feel the need to tell you so.


You are so special.  Prized.  Cherished.  Treasured.  Adored.  And your soul, your love, and your life matter so much more than you can possibly imagine.


Those of us that are lucky, have parents, family members, friends, and teachers tell us this as we grow up.  But to we really believe them?  Do we know it to be true as surely as we can feel our own heartbeat?


Why do we resist this?  For fear, as I mentioned before, of falling into arrogance?  The irony there is that at this moment, I can’t think of anything more humbling than to honor the magnificence that is all of creation, recognizing and celebrating the love and goodness and gifts within ourselves and others.


How strikingly beautiful would the world be if we all really knew how special we are and wholeheartedly lived our lives from that understanding?


There is a quotation from Holocaust survivor Jay Sommer that I always felt captured the essence of my mission as a public school teacher.  It goes like this:


“Inspiring students with a sense of their own worth gives them the confidence to express themselves more freely, to explore and learn through their mistakes, and to regard learning as an adventure.”


Perhaps we’re all just students who need to be inspired with a sense of our own worth in order to regard LIFE as an adventure.


May you know the depths of how truly special you are and allow that knowledge to be the spark that changes everything.


With love,



The true glimmer of hope in all of life’s seasons

This is the #Truthbomb that recently popped up for me on Danielle LaPorte’s super fun new app.


what time is it in your life


It didn’t even take five seconds for the phrase, “a time of letting go,” to come to mind.  The last year and a half of illness has felt like an opening, a great expanse dedicated to letting go.


What time is it in YOUR life?


Perhaps you’re in the space of an exciting new beginning, or feel like your life is soaring along beautifully, and if that’s the case, then I send you three cheers and a big high five!


Maybe you have a new goal or dream you’re working towards that it is feeling harder to reach than you thought it would be, and you’re pressing forward with resilience and a steady flutter of passion and excitement in your heart.


It could be that you’ve experienced a disappointment or loss that has brought with it great pain and strong emotions that you’re trying to figure your way through.


Or maybe, like me, you’ve had illness or something else come crashing into your life like a wrecking ball and you’re in the space of letting ALL the old stuff fall away at once.


Or perhaps you’ve made it through the demolition phase and are now dreaming of something new, your heart and mind filled with the joy of possibilities.


No matter where any of us are in our lives, I’d love for us to take a moment to savor the fact that hope is always there, just like the sun.  Even though clouds may block some of the light or keep us from feeling its warmth, there’s no question about the fact that it is still there shining on the other side.


Believing in the presence of hope and trusting it will endure, standing the test of time and trials, is the very thing that will help us to see it again and feel those delicate and nourishing rays that help brighten our very being.


In what has felt like an endless cycle of getting excited about a new treatment, only to have my hopes dashed, again and again, I’ve found a new way of thinking about hope.


Even in in my darkest moments, I’ve held a little glimmer hope in my heart.  This glimmer comes from the discovery that it doesn’t matter how large the flame of hope feels in the candle of your heart.  It doesn’t even matter if there is a flicker at all because the moment that it seems to be gone is the moment you find comfort in the deeper truth, that the precious wick remains.


Our hope lies not in the fact that the candle will never burn out or be blown out, but in the fact that the wick can always be relit to shine and glow again.


And it is in this hope that we find the courage to focus on what we want with our entire heart and mind, bringing it closer and closer to us with each flip of the calendar, with the passing of each sunset, and with each breath we take.


May hope shine brightly within you always,