Pray, read, write, dream, reflect. As a part of my daily intentional activities I reflect. What does that look like? Yesterday it looked like me sitting in my quiet place (the low sofa in our never used “front room”) with noise cancelling headphones on, listening to music softly in the background. I closed my eyes and went back in my mind over the past 24 hours, event by event. What stood out the most was the impromptu meal our 3 boys joined us in around the kitchen counter. When they were younger we would always have family dinner at the table, everyone in their designated spots, but somehow as they have matured, gotten jobs and other priorities, the family dinner has gone away. So this was a rare and precious treat. Everyone was in great spirits as we stood around the kitchen counter enjoying our meal while connecting about our day. The boys were involved in their own little side conversation about what I can only speculate was the latest news about a game they had been waiting for. I locked eyes with James for a moment and gave a little prayer of thanks for this magic moment in our lives.

I am sometimes guilty of taking for granted the beautiful gifts and moments like this that happen every day in my life. I can remember vividly the feeling that I would never ever be able to go out to lunch with my husband. When we had one location and were cogs in the wheel there was no way we could have both stepped away for a lunch date, and it was always with a little envy that I would notice other people doing this in my restaurant. But just 2 days ago I was able to not only go to lunch with my love, but also go on a bike ride and get my booty kicked on a super steep hill. These moments are the stuff our lives are made of, and the process of reflection for me has taken off the blinders and shown me again and again how much good there is in life.

As an achiever I often struggle with wanting BIG and MORE and HARDER, but thankfully I am learning to listen to the softer voice inside that reminds me that everything I desire is here right now, and to know that anything I strive for is in search of a feeling. In search of contentment- and that contentment comes when we appreciate and notice what is right in front of us…another key to happiness.

skunks on the trail

Is it a warning to slow down, you are in his territory? Is it a bigger message to watch out for land mines that could be around the corner? Or is it just chance and you happened to coincide today? It sounds silly to try to attach a meaning to something as random as seeing a skunk on the trail, but we do silly things like this all day long. We have all sorts of “if-then” scenarios that run our lives and determine our sense of well being. “If she’s rude to me she’s a **itchy person”, “If he loves me he would know I need this right now”, “If she cared about me she would call me”, “If they overcharge me they are trying to rip me off” All of our if-thens are based on our own perception and rules, and the meaning we attach to these random things can make or break our day.

What rules do you have in place that are preventing you from being happy right now? Let go of attaching crazy meanings to mundane things. You cannot possibly get in anyone’s head to know what they are going through at any given moment when you are choosing to judge them. The erratic driver may be in a hurry to get to their hurt child, the rude woman in line at the store may be in physical pain, the overcharge may be attributed to *gasp* human error. We are perfect yet imperfect beings. Relax a little, let your guards down, and don’t forget to breathe.

learning to lead

The most important job I have here in this life is to guide the beings that have been entrusted to me to care for, my children, into a life of infinite possibilities. I have raised 4 of these unique individuals, and had some influence in the growth of the 5th, and one thing biggest thing I have learned from them is that everyone is unique. For some insane reason I thought that if I was their mom, they had my DNA, and I loved them all the same, they would all act the same. Reading that last sentence back to myself sounds definitely…if not insane, then naive, yet it boggled my mind again and again as I learned the nuances of each one’s preferred methods of connection and nuances of personality.

Though their methods of meeting them vary, they all share the same basic human needs. Things like we all want to be noticed and loved, we want to know we are appreciated and that we matter. We all want the certainty that we will be safe, yet we also crave variety. We are happiest when we are growing, though there is a time to just relax and reflect. And most of all, we want connection. We may have differing degrees of desire for connection. I for one love my down time, where I can just be alone with my thoughts or music or my writing, and 2 of my kids are very much like me in that. The other 3 seem to be the opposite, and seem to thrive on more interaction.

The lessons I am learning as I navigate being a parent of 5 have given me tools to be able to be a better leader for the people that work with me in our organizations. I have had to learn to communicate differently with each one, and to trust my intuition when it is sending me a message of what “need” is speaking to me. I have had to learn to be present and to read the body language to understand the fears that can control our lives. I have had to learn to express appreciation more and disapproval rarely. I have had to learn to hold myself to a higher standard as I realize how many people are looking to me for leadership and guidance. I have had to learn to lead.

“While we try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about.” — Angela Schwindt


We all have access to superpowers, but my favorite one by far is kindness. If we made the decision on a daily basis to choose to use this tool from our infinite arsenal of “ways to be”, can you even begin to imagine the change that would happen in our world? I came across a campaign in my hometown called “—stands united against hate”. I believe and have seen it to be true that when I focus my thoughts on something I seem to see it even more. If I look for what’s wrong, it’s all over the place. I can find the aggressive drivers, the negativity on the news, the not so subtle discriminations, but also conversely, if I focus on kindness, I can see it all over as well. I see the people helping out the girl asking for some spare change, I see someone rush over to help unload the groceries for the elderly man, I see the car in front of me paying my toll on the bridge, I see the random smiles given when a stranger’s eyes connect with mine.

If we were to choose to stand united FOR love, FOR peace, FOR kindness, and remove the word “against” from our vocabulary we could tip the scales, I am sure of it. Focus on what we want more of, the only antidote to the chaos and divisiveness that is continuing to come to the forefront is to make the love bigger. The outer world is merely a reflection of our inner world, and as we keep getting reminded there is some work to be done. We can change the world one decision, one thought, one action at a time. Choosing to be kind, choosing to unite for what we believe in, not against. Use your superpowers wisely.


I am not a good dancer. I am a good baker, a good mom, a good wife, friend, boss, leader, daughter, cyclist…I can hold my own in most social settings and know how to have an intelligent conversation with people from most walks of life…so far. But dance I cannot. I have a few early experiences with major embarrassment when I tried to cut loose and boogie that left me reluctant to put myself in a situation again where I may be asked to do the salsa or the cha cha or waltz or whatever. For some reason unknown to me, however, my youngest son has immersed himself in the world of dance, and as I accompany him to the showcases and competitions, I am finding myself in settings where everyone can dance but me. The pressure is there as they try to get me to give it a go, so kind and encouraging in their invitations, yet I find myself like a shy awkward teenager at the high school dance doing my best to make myself invisible.

As I see the absolute joy and big smiles on the people that are out there dancing, I begin thinking why not? I accept an invitation, and lucky for me the skill of my partner helped carry me around the dance floor with no stumble, although I was sure if he let go I would drown! I begin remembering that the comfort zone is a comfy place, and learning something new can be like picking up a really good book. There are a lot of things I thought I would never do, could never do- run a successful business, run a marathon, cycling, mountain biking, lead, paint, write, speak…So am I going to learn to dance? I’m thinking about it. I have not committed, but instead have opened my mind to the idea that I am not a good dancer…YET.


What if you stopped waiting. Stopped waiting in line at the coffee shop, stopped waiting for your number to be called at DMV, stopped waiting for the light to turn green so you can go. Stop waiting for the time to be right to start your new business, stop waiting for the perfect moment to tell someone how you feel, stop waiting for some other moment when you can feel peace.

But how do I stop waiting, when I arrive at DMV for my 10 am appointment to find a line out the door to even let them know I have arrived? Not to mention the additional hour after I check in to even wait for my number to be called. I change my thoughts. Instead of waiting, I decide to just be. I am grateful that I am not waiting in line for a bag of rice to feed my starving family, I am grateful to have the money to be able to indulge in a fancy expensive coffee in a paper cup, I am grateful to have a car to drive. Instead of waiting I am choosing to take the opportunity to be with myself, where I am, not trying to be somewhere else. Can be challenging to be with yourself, but what’s life about but learning to know yourself better and appreciate the moments we are given.


We are complex human beings, and have many arteries that lead to the heart of fulfillment. It can be said that success is a science, you can find all sorts of avenues, guides, step by step instructions on how to succeed at almost anything. But fulfillment…that is an art. With any big goal I have had, whether it is losing 20 pounds, running a marathon, opening another restaurant, paying off my car…the striving was the fun of it. Once I achieved the “goal”, I felt satisfaction or euphoria or just chilled out, but only for a time. Then, as what was once just out of reach is completed and behind me, I was faced with a what next? I have a polarized way of being, one part of me yearns to strive and climb and do the hard stuff, and the other part is always telling me to relax and just enjoy where you are. Life becomes the balancing act between these two strong parts of my personality. I know that if I am nearing the realization of a goal, I had better have another one right behind it, or apathy, laziness, boredom will set in for me as the dip between climbs.

I have known myself all my life, but I am still peeling layers back and getting surprised about who I am and what drives me.
This sounds crazy, because how is it that we don’t really know ourselves? I mean, we are ourselves, our minds are our own, our body is ours, so why do we succumb to doing things that are not in our best interest? Why do I eat those Oreos when I have been so good on my healthy eating? Why do I get upset when someone projects their own unhappiness onto me? Why is it that what is just out of reach is more fulfilling than what is in my hand?

The process of learning about myself has sent me on the search to find out what brings me fulfillment, not just success. The way to really operate at our highest potential is to make sure that we are taking care of all of those pathways.

For me, I can narrow it down to 5 main roads:

  • Love and Connection- I need to love and be loved, I think this is my strongest need, and I am so blessed that I have outstanding and close relationships with people I am able to live this with and through.
  • Growth – I need to be learning and growing. I fulfill this need in many ways, by reading, mentoring, learning new skills, pushing my body. I passionately love learning and mastering new things that were for me once hard. Riding a bike, running long distance, learning to be a leader, speaking in front of people, even learning new software. Hard is good.
  • Security – I think for a lot of us this is a big one. I want to feel safe and believe that tomorrow will be okay. I want to make sure that those I love have the comfort and security I also crave.
  • Excitement – This can be the opposite of security. This is when I step outside my comfort zone and am doing things I didn’t think I could do. This comes from seeing the people I lead and love growing and excited about their lives.
  • Purpose – I need to know that I am doing all I can to make a difference in the lives of the people I interact with, and in my little part of this world.

It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit. -Denis Waitley

do it now

I am high on myself as I ride this morning, pushing just a little harder up the hill, knowing I had conquered the dreaded fear yesterday of the downhill from hell. Months of almost there but pulling back at the last minute finally gone, and my confidence back. The lesson learned that fear is all in my head. I am ready to ride that rutted path that had taken me down, and what do you think has happened? I can tell you it’s a perfect example of life happening for me, not to me. I am approaching the section, confident I can ride it again, and they have graded the path. That means the ruts are gone. It’s as smooth as a newly paved road and anyone scared of it would be a baby.

All I could do was laugh, and think of all the energy I had spent trying to cross the terror barrier, and the immense satisfaction when I finally did. I can only believe that this was another clear lesson to me from the powers that be to DO IT NOW. Opportunity comes in many different forms. I often think of opportunity as something related to money, or material success, but had I not pushed past the fear yesterday I would have missed forever the opportunity to ride the ruts and feel the incredible sense of accomplishment that sticks with me even now. Get over your fear, get out of your head, get into the place where you believe anything is possible. What is the worst that can happen? You can fall? or fail? Or you can stay in your safe little bubble, looking out at the world and wondering if you could have done more.

terror barrier

Today I rode down the rutted hill that had beat me time and time again. One fall and I was scared for months, choosing to dismount and walk down the hill instead of conquering the fear. I had had many opportunities to push past the scared voice in my head, but no matter how much I coached my inner little girl “You can do it, trust the bike”, I would get to the point of no return and stop. I reached the terror barrier.

Anytime we are trying to push past a fear, or to get out of the comfort zone, it starts with a thought. For me, it starts with a floating little thought that I end up latching on to and thinking more about. Thoughts like “I think I want to open another location”, or “I think I want to start running again”, or “I think I’d like to learn to be a speaker”. There are thoughts like these floating around in my head all the time, but until I actually focus on one, and begin to percolate it in my mind, they will float around like clouds in the clutter of my head. Once they have made it into my conscious awareness, they start to nag. They come up and remind me at the most inconvenient times that they are there, times like 4 am. Or 10 pm, as I am trying to get some shut eye.

After I have mulled over a thought, or a great idea I think I have, eventually I say it out loud. I blurt out “I am writing a book”, or “I am going to conquer that hill”, and now it’s official. As long as it was in my head it was safely esconced in the dream category, but once I verbalized it- yikes. The snowball effect. I think about it more, get excited, start researching and doing and planning…then WHAM! Some well meaning friend or loved one plays devils advocate and asks a question that plants a seed of doubt in my mind. I have even done it to myself, time and time again. I am really good at talking myself into AND out of anything subject in the book. My list of pros and cons goes on to infinity for any given idea. This is the inevitable Terror Barrier. It is the point when we reach when our conscious mind rejects the new thoughts that are threatening the status quo. This is where we step back into safety, we decide it is too risky, or too hard, or a dumb idea, or even better, “I never really wanted to do it anyway”. The conscious mind is our ambassador for stagnation. It does not want us to step forward into growth, instead it convinces us to fall back into safety.

We start feeling fear, doubt, worry, anxiety, and we think this is our signal to reverse, turn around, head back to the bunker. What if instead those emotions we are so uncomfortable with that they send us running back to mama instead were the mind’s way of telling us “Hey, get ready! Its time to expand your limitless potential and grow!” This is the beginning, or the middle, or the process of freedom. Freedom from falling victim to fear, freedom to do anything you imagine, freedom to have the exciting life you want. So that hill. Even knowing all this that I know, the hill was a real thing that I had really fallen on and there was a real possibility I would fall again, but I didn’t. I went for it, and I did it again, and I succeeded. And it felt GREAT!

failure pt. 2

“There is no such thing as failure, only results” – Tony Robbins

If you want a different result, change your activities. We all know there is a cause and effect in everything we do, yet it can sometimes be so difficult to get out of the quicksand that we sometimes step into. I keep thinking that somehow as I get older I am also getting wiser, but I find myself falling into the same traps over and over again if I am not careful. I fall into the trap of laziness, and then wonder why my weight creeps up. I fall into the trap of self criticism and wonder why I feel so low. I fall into the trap of complacency and then wake up and see I need to step it up.

I can’t count how many times I have taken control of my eating and exercise, and stepped into the zone of personal improvement. But invariably over and over again, no matter how committed I am at the time, I end up faltering and falling off the wagon. I used to be very hard on myself when I would swing to the right, but what I can see now is that there is a pattern, a swing of the pendulum, a zag for every zig.

Right now I am in a very zig place, I am eating for fuel and pleasure, not boredom and variety. I am intentionally planning out my week to include activities that I enjoy that push my body. I am not going to call it exercise, because that word is right up there with diet for me. They are the poison words that have a beginning and and end. They are the words that define activities that I no longer want to do. I am tired of learning the same lesson over and over again. I am tired of learning that no matter how much you diet, the real test is maintaining. I am tired of learning that if you don’t work your body, your body will stop working for you.

What am I doing differently this time to make it the last time I have to learn these lessons? For one I am writing about it here, and am expecting to be held accountable for my words. I have made a list of my secrets to fulfillment-the things that get me in the zone, and they are in a prominent place to remind me daily of the things I am doing that have me in my happy place:

Feed my mind
Fuel and push my body
Practice gratitude
Pay it forward