Monday, October 15, 2012


Today a friend wondered aloud, should I save money in my 401(k) or should I put it in my savings account for a trip to Europe?  I quipped back, “Yes”!  He was speaking somewhat in jest, but his point came across loud and clear.  I live (and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this) in a mindset where I so often make living an either/or proposition.     
Am I a dog person or a cat person, a member of the LGBT community or the Christian community, a life coach or a legal professional, a car driver or a bicyclist?  The answer is “Yes!” 
Sometimes I stumble all over myself trying to figure out how I can be one thing, when in truth I’m much more than that.   I feel like I put myself in a box and then get really frustrated with myself, or feel like I'm being untruthful about who I am.  We're diverse beings who are often too quick to put ourselves into tidy little compartments.  When we do that we end up missing out on new, creative ways to live and to solve problems.  Am I someone else’s employee or an entrepreneur?  “Yes!”  Left brained or right brained?  “Yes!”    Artistic or analytical?  “Yes!”
I’m playing a little game with myself this week.   Whenever I set up a proposition that would result in an either/or, or no/but, I’m changing it around in my mind, to see if I can find a way to make it “Yes…And".   I believe that this kind of thinking opens up new pathways that expand our thinking, make our brains more flexible, and align us with all kinds of resources we never would have otherwise imagined. All this in turn makes our lives more wonderful and less stressful!  If you feel like it, I encourage you to do the same, and let me know if it causes any shifts in your thinking.
Now, should I have chocolate or cookies for dessert tonight...YES!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Clearing out the Cobwebs

This past weekend, while out running some errands, I happened to pass a “Great Harvest Bread Company”.   I paused from my busy day to reflect for a moment, as I realized that my heart had begun aching within me.  This restaurant marked the place where a close friend and I took respite from a cold, rainy December afternoon a few years ago and whiled away a few hours drinking coffee, eating cinnamon bread, and sharing good conversation.  That relationship has taken pretty rocky roads since then, and at the present moment we had grown pretty far apart. 
As I sat in my car, nursing my aching heart, feeling the grief of loss surrounding that relationship, something else showed up as well…love and even a little bit of joy, as I remembered that experience.  No matter what happened between us later, that day was special.  I sat in that feeling-state of joy for a moment, and then I felt my mind reprimand me for feeling happiness at something that has changed and is in a different state now.
I started backing out of that memory, and then I paused, and questioned my thinking.  Did I really need to stop myself from feeling happiness about a memory?  In that moment, I realized that sometimes I set expectations on my feelings.  I tend to associate grief or loss with a sad, or sometimes angry feeling, and I shy away or suppress the happy, joyful feelings associated with something I’ve lost.  But emotions are far too complicated to place in little compartments like that.    
So I sat there, and I honored the love and the joy of that moment in time.   Regardless of what that relationship had or had not become, that was a fantastic afternoon.   As I sat there and felt the fullness of that life experience, a beautiful shift occurred in my heart.  By letting go of what I expected the relationship and my feelings around the relationship to be, and honoring the feelings that actually existed, I opened up a space in my life that had been closed and dark  – I cleared out the cobwebs so to speak -  leaving an open, clean space where something new and restorative could have a place to grow.    


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tending to the Garden of my Soul

Earlier this week I spent a couple of hours clearing out my yard.  For a long while I wanted to live in a little house with a big yard, and I'm happy to say that this is what I now have: a little house with a BIG yard (close to 1/4 acre)!  Luckily the yard is fenced in the middle so I have a manageable lawn area and then a back lot that is allowed to maintain a more "natural" state.  I try to keep it somewhat clear but this summer I've been busy doing other fun, outside things so I've let it run free.  And boy has it!

Today I decided it was time to clean up some of it, so I took my shears and my shovel and spent the better part of an afternoon digging up weeds, some of which were as tall me (which is pretty tall for a weed!) and pulling thorny vines, lots and lots of thorny vines. 

As I dug and pulled, I contemplated the condition of my own soul, which I sometimes liken to a garden.  Depending on how well I tend to it determines whether I have a well-landscaped, fertile groundscape or a weedy, thorny field. 

I feel like I've spent a lot of time in my life clearing the landscape and laying down healthy soil, so that healing trees can grow tall and healthy, bearing fruits of love, joy, peace and abundance.  Still, there are places where thorny bramblebushes of fear, pride and self-doubt grow up and try to choke out the healthy trees. 

I've often remarked that, as I've been going through my life coach training, I have cleared out the surface weeds and begun to "dig deep" at the deepest, oldest, thorniest roots in my garden.  Those that would, if unchecked, choke out the healthy trees and shroud my garden in shadow and fear.  I've kept them clipped pretty well but lately I've been digging, slowly loosening the soil surrounding the roots, and eventually, in some cases, reaching down and pulling up the roots. Sometimes I grab a thorn and "wow" it can hurt, but when it finally gets cleared out, its absence creates more room for healthy plants to grow! 

I'm happy that these days, the garden of my soul is looking good.  I'll keep tending to it, and my back yard too!  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Divine Attachment (A New Twist on Both Ends of the Leash)

Recently, I heard Bishop T.D. Jakes say (and I paraphrase) that all love in the world comes from God, and God has chosen to show us his(her) love through other people.  This struck a chord deep in the center of my soul.  I grew up with the thinking that the love I needed came from my parents.  For various reasons, they weren’t always able to provide the love I needed while I was growing up.  I felt this somehow left me lacking.  As an adult, I spent a lot of years thinking if I could find someone to love me, that they would provide all the love I needed.  Needless to say, this led to some unhealthy relationships and thought patterns in my life. 

Over the past year or so, I’ve been learning to love myself, and to understand that I have everything I need to make my own life wonderful and filled with love.  Bishop Jakes’ words added a new dimension to this for me.  Now I understand that when I give and receive love to/from other people, I am connecting, not just with another person, but with the divine love flowing through them as well.  I thought that reliance upon myself and God might leave me less loving or interested in relationships, but I have found the opposite to be true.

Now that I have less of a dependency on another human being to satisfy all the need I have for love in my life, I am filled to overflowing with a desire to embrace the moment, live joyfully, love passionately, and connect deeply.  A most fundamental shift has occurred in me.  Life is no longer about grasping for whatever strands of love I can find from people, always fearful and suspect that I might lose them.  Instead, I am now aware that I am attached to the source of infinite, divine love.  All the energy that had been focused on the fear of losing, is now focused on embracing the opportunity to love and be loved more fully and openly than ever before.  Interestingly, it is as I surrender to this shift that I am more able to fully delight and find joy and communion in the company of another human being.  In this awareness, I find such freedom in my life!

It doesn’t mean I don’t feel grief when faced with the loss of someone I love.  Each person brings their own uniqueness to my life, and the loss of their presence hurts.  For example, tomorrow marks the the twelfth anniversary of the day my mom died.  After she died, I felt a deep sense of loss, as is natural when one loses a mother, but I also felt that I would never again be loved, nurtured or supported by a wiser, older woman.  As my perspective has shifted this past year or so, I see the world differently.  Losing mom was an irreplaceable loss, and I still miss the uniqueness of her personality, the way she loved me, and the connection we shared, but because I now know that the love she gave came not just from her heart, but from a deeper source of divine kindness, I realize that I can honor her and still receive love and support from other older, wiser women.  I also realized the other day that my life is filled with the presence of older women (not old women, just women older than me :)) who each in their own unique way, offer support and bring wisdom and experience into my life.  Mom would be happy to know how much love I have in my life, and mom would be happy to know that I am living so open and free.  I am so blessed, and I can’t express in words how much gratitude I feel for the all the love in and around me. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hiking Day

Sunday Max and I went on our first hike in about two years.  We had stopped hiking because Max needed to work more on his leash reactivity.  So, armed with lots of treats and years of leash reactivity practice, we set out to hike the Leif Erickson trail with about 30 other dogs and their people.  We had a wonderful time, hiked five miles and, most importantly had NO leash reactivity. 

Max is front and center, and look how close Max is to the big dogs.  He greeted so many dogs with a friendly tail wag and a sniff.  He even hiked up close to other dogs without any problem.  This shows how much progress we made the past two years. 

We look forward to many more hikes in the future!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Grooming Day!

Just a quick note tonight to show off Max's new look - he went to a new groomer today and had his unkept slacker 'do shorn.  What a handsome fellow, and a great look for the new year!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Both Ends of the Leash

Welcome to my blog.  This is the place where I share my adventures with my Cairn companion, Max.   Max is a 5 year old Cairn terrier, and often my teacher and guide. He chose me to be his furever mom in October, 2009, when I visited his foster home provided by the good people at Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals.  Max and I, like most folks, struggle with our own issues such as fear, anxiety, possessiveness, and grumpiness if we get awakened suddenly in the middle of the night; but together we are working through our rough spots and learning to be our best human and canine selves.  We are both living proof that, we can't change our pasts, but we can make sure that today, and everyday, is filled with adventure and love!