Be gallant, be great, be gracious and be grateful

“Be gallant, be great, be gracious and be grateful’

– Jake Bailey

The video attached at the end of this post is amazing – this young man, Jake Bailey, is beyond remarkable.  Perhaps it affected me as much as it did because I have two sons about Jake’s age. But I think this will impact everyone who watches it. How can it not?

Jake Baliey was due to graduate and give a speech at graduation. One week before his graduation, 18-year-old Jake Bailey was told he had cancer.  He was diagnosed with one of the world’s fastest growing tumours – Burkitt lymphoma.

He had written his speech before his diagnosis and managed to leave his hospital bed to deliver it from a wheelchair. Words made more poignant than he ever could have perceived when he wrote them:

“My challenge to each of you, and to myself, is to continue to grow and to develop for the better . . . Forget about long-term dreams, let’s be passionately dedicated to our short term goals, micro-ambitious. Work with passion and pride on what is in front of us.  We don’t know where we might end up . . .”

For those of you not from New Zealand, may not understand the end of this video – it ends in a spontaneous Haka – an incredible sign of respect.  Kia Kaha Jake. Thank you for your inspiration.

Thank you for taking the time to watch this and read this post. I appreciate it.

Heroes and Role Models

“Now you get to tell it, because then it will become medicine – that we evolve; that life is stunning, wild, gorgeous, weird, brutal, hilarious and full of grace.
– Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is my favorite author.  There I’ve said it.  I struggle to say that because there are so many amazingly wonderful writers out there. But really, it’s true. Lamott never fails to bring me to tears and to laughter, usually within the same paragraph.

The first book I read of hers was Operating Instructions, A Journal of My Son’s First Year. I laughed til I cried, and I hadn’t even had my own kids yet.  And then after I gave birth to my son, I read it again, and I cried even harder.

I follow her on FB, and she doesn’t disappoint, even though she just sort of writes stream of consciousness there. A couple of days ago she wrote this post.  I loved it so much I sent it to a couple of friends, and they both loved it too. But I want to share it with you too.

I have recently been going through my own bouts of what she terms  psycho doing-ness and achieving-ness. And it’s always nice to read about someone else going through that stuff:

Nearly twenty years ago, I arrived at a fancy writer’s conference, in what were some of America’s most majestic mountains, where I was looking forward to meeting a great (and sexy) American director, who’d given a lecture the day before. But he had already left.

There was, however, a letter from him, to me: to not-all-that-well-known me. It began well enough, with praise for Bird by Bird, and gratitude for how many times it had inspired him when he got stuck while writing screenplays. He singled out my insistence on trying to seek and tell the truth, whether in memoir or fiction, and my belief that experiencing grief and fear were the way home. The way to an awakening. That God is the Really Real, as the ancient Greeks believed. And God is Love. That tears were not to be suppressed, but would, if expressed, heal us, cleanse up, baptize us, help us water the seeds of new life that were in the ground at our feet.

Coming from a world famous director, it felt like the New York Glitterati was stamping it’s FDA seal of approval on me, and my work.

Unfortunately, the letter continued.

He wrote that while he had looked forward to meeting me, he’d gathered from reading my work that many of my closest friends and family members seemed to have met with traumatic life situations, and sometimes early deaths. So basically, he was getting out of Dodge before I got my tragedy juju all over him, too.

I felt mortified, exposed. He made it seem like I was a sorrow-mongerer, that instead of being present for family and friends who had cancer or sick kids or great losses, I was chasing them down.

And I flushed in that full body Niacin-flush way of toxic shame, at being put down by a man of power, that had been both the earliest, and now most recent, experiences of soul-death throughout my life.

My clingy child was drawing beside me, What did I do? You can’t use your child as a fix, like a junkie. That’s abuse; plus it won’t work.

Well, duh–I fell apart, on the inside, like a two dollar watch.

I had stopped drinking nearly 15 years before, stopped the bulimia 14 years earlier, and so did not have many reliable ways to stuff feelings back down. Also, horribly, my young child, two thousand miles from home, upon noticing my pain, clung even more tightly. I wanted to shout at him, “Don’t you have any other friends?”

What I did was the only thing that has ever worked. After finding a safe and stable person to draw with my son, I called someone and told her all my terrible fears and feelings and projections and secrets.

It was my mentor, Horrible Bonnie.

She listens.

She believes that we are here to become profoundly real, and therefore, free. But horribly–hence her name–she insists that if we want to be free, we have to let every body be free. I hate and resent this so much. It means we have to let the people in our families and galaxies be free to be asshats, if that is how they choose to live.

This however, does not mean we have to have lunch with them. Or go on vacation with them again. But we do have to let them be free.

She also knows, and said that day, that Real can be a nightmare in this world that is so false. The pain and exhaustion of becoming real can land you in the an abyss. And abysses are definitely abysmal; dark nights of the soul; the bottom an addict hits.

And this, she said, was just a new bottom, around people-pleasing, and the craving for powerful fancy people to approve of me. It was a bottom around my psycho doing-ness, my achieving-ness.

She said that because I felt traumatized, and that there had been so much trauma in my childhood, and so many losses in the ensuing years, that the future looked like trauma to me.

But it wasn’t the truth!

There was a long silence. (Again: she listens.)

Finally, I said in this tiny child’s voice, “It isn’t?”

Oh, no, she said. The future, as with every bottom I have landed at, and been walked through, would bring great spiritual increase.

She said I had as much joy and laughter and presence as anyone she knew and some of this had to do with the bottoms I’d experienced, the dark nights of the soul that god and my pit crew had accompanied me through. The alcoholism, scary men, etc.

She said that what I thought the director had revealed was that I am kind of pathetic, but actually what I was getting to see, with her, and later, when I picked up my luscious clingy child, in the most gorgeous mountains on earth, was that I was a ral person of huge heart, laughter, feelings and truth. And his was the greatest gift of all.

The blessing was that again and again, over the years, we got to completely change the script. Thank God. We got to re-invent ourselves, again.

But where do we even start with such terrible days and revelations? She said I’d started when I picked up the 300-pound phone, told someone the truth, felt my terrible feelings. Now, time for radical self care. A shower, some food, the blouse I felt prettiest in. Then I could go get my boy and we could explore the mountain streams.

Wow. We think when we finally get our ducks in a row, we’ve arrived. Now we’ll be happy! That’s what they taught us, and what we’ve sought. But the ducks are bad ducks, and do not agree to stay in a row, and they waddle off quacking, and one keels over, two males get in a fight, and babies are born. Where does that leave your nice row?

I got about five books out of the insights I gleaned from our talk. I still have a sort-of heart shaped rock my son fished out of a stream later. Sadly, this director’s movies have not done well in the last twenty years. Not a one. And all of his hair has since fallen out. Now, as a Christian, my first response to this is, “Hah hah hah.”

But Horrible Bonnie would say, Now you get to tell it, because then it will become medicine. Tell it, girl– that we evolve; that life is stunning, wild, gorgeous, weird, brutal, hilarious and full of grace. That our parents were a bit insane, and that healing from this is taking a little bit longer than we had hoped. Tell it. Well…okay. Yes.

I want to close with a great video clip:

Hanging Out with Anne Lamott – Point Loma Writer’s Symposium By the Sea 2014.


I’d love to hear about your favorite authors and your role models.

And as always thanks for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Cancel Cancel . . . Interrupt Your Negative Thoughts!

So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key

– The Eagles (‘Already Gone’)

Yes habits are hard to break, but as the Eagles remind us, we have the key to break those habits and stop living our life in chains. Continuing the posts on Neuroplasticity and getting rid of bad habits, looking at steps five and six:

5. Interrupt your thoughts and patterns when they arise.

6. Use aversion therapy.

About 20 years ago, I did my first Silva Method Course, and I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say it changed my life.  It is a powerful system to help people understand how to use tools to change their thinking for the better – and that includes getting rid of bad habits.  I have written past posts about my experience at Silva.

Laura Silva describes using Cancel Cancel:

Cancel Cancel – This is the Silva Method technique I use more often than any other. When you go to your level, one of the post-hypnotic suggestions you can give yourself is that when you hear a negative comment or a pessimistic point of view, you say “cancel cancel” to yourself, and when you do, the negativity will have no influence over you. It’s kind of like a mental cloak of protection. For example, when I hear someone say, “Well that tends to happen as you get older,” I think to myself, “cancel cancel.” I don’t want to be influenced by such limiting or negative beliefs.

I use Cancel Cancel all the time, mostly for my own negative thinking.  And after learning more about  what Rick Hanson explains about Self-Directed Neuroplasticity, by saying Cancel Cancel, and shifting my negative thoughts, or thoughts about taking part in a habit I am trying to break, I know that I am shifting an old neural pathway and creating and strengthening a new neural pathway leading toward a more positive behaviour.

In terms of point six, instead of aversion therapy as described in the original article I read, I choose to redirect my thinking. I personally think ‘aversion therapy’ is harsh, but in terms of neural pathways and habit breaking, redirecting thoughts leads to the creation of new neural pathways and again back to Self-Directed Neuroplasticity.

If you have time, attached below is a fascinating set of slides by Rick Hanson explaining this process.


I’ll close with a YouTube clip of an old interview with Jose and Laura Silva.



I’d love to hear about any bad habits you’ve broken, and how you changed the behavior.  And I’d love to hear any stories about how you interrupt your negative thoughts or behaviours .   And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

We really are all connected

“We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.”

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

My son Lukas sent me a video link to an amazing video: The Most Astounding Fact.  He saw it and said that he immediately thought of me and knew it would fit well in my blog.  Thank you once again Lukas!
The video is an excerpt from an interview of Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson.  He was asked: What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe? And who better to answer this question than this inspirational man. He shares his information in a concise and easy to understand way, that is both inspirational and educational. To me, his explanation is unity explained. We really are all connected.

“The atoms that comprise life on Earth, the atoms that make up the human body are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements . . .  stars collapsed and then exploded scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy, guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. So that when I look up at the night sky and I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us.”

We may look different and sound different, but in fact our make up is the same. To me, this is a call for cooperation, for collaboration, for compassion, for love.

As Dr. DeGrasse Tyson puts it:  After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?
Please take the time to watch this wonderful video, not only is the message timely, but the pictures of space are incredibly beautiful.

I’d love to hear what you thought of this video. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Inspired Action!

“Inspired Action is any action you take based on an inside nudge.”

– Dr. Joe Vitale

I just spent four wonderful days with my son Lukas in Dunedin.  On a walk around the gorgeous Dunedin Botanical Gardens, Lukas was saying he is enjoying university so much and is so busy, that he hasn’t set aside time to think about his goals in a long time. So, we started talking about the old conundrum: can one stay present in the moment and really enjoy everything that is happening now, but still have an eye on the future? And then today, I had a similar conversation with my friend Victoria, about keeping the faith and staying present, even in the face of an uncertain future. And all of this reminded me of my last post A Fine Balance. Leanna, one of the authors of the blog The League of Champions, and I were discussing trying to live in the moment and at the same time keep one’s goals in mind. And in response I wrote the post about keeping a balance between going with the flow and directing your own life; about the peace in acceptance of what is, but the empowerment in knowing what you want and being willing to go after it.  And of course the importance of Paying Attention and Being Present in the moment.  I think that we can be present as well as focus on what we want in the future.  And as I discussed in that last post, Heart-Centered Goal Setting is one of the keys to the balancing act.

But there is another equally important key. So I decided to write a follow-up post that describes the next step in the process – Inspired Action.  As Joe Vitale explains, inspired action is an action taken based on an inside nudge, based on our intuition. The 7th Tool described in my book, A Woman’s Guide to Transformation is: Uploading and Downloading from the ‘Source.’

 I send up information that I want to attract to me.

I am open to inspiration from the Source that flows back to me.

We need both steps.  We need to know what we want to move toward, to attract to us; and we need to be in the moment and open to the inspiration that flows back to us, urging us to take inspired action.  If we pay attention throughout the day, our intuition often nudges us. And it is only by being present and paying attention to those nudges that we can then take inspired action.  However, if we are not present, in the moment, we can easily miss those soft whispers from our intuition.

Here is a short clip by Esther Hicks (Abraham) about Inspired Action:


I hope you enjoy listening to Abraham.  And I’d love to hear about your experience with Inspired Action.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.





Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”

– Margaret Mead

I am humbled and honored to have been nominated by Rev Dani Lynn for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

Dany’s Blog “Life is Your Piece of Art” is inspiring and wonderful. I recommend a visit to her site!

Here are the requirements for this award:

1. Display the award logo somewhere on the blog.

2. Link back to the blog of the person who nominated you.

3. State seven things about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs.

5. Notify those bloggers that they have been nominated and of the award’s requirements.

Seven things about me:

  1. I was born and raised in Northern California and imigrated to New Zealand 20 years ago.
  2. My family is the most important thing in my life and I love my gorgeous sons Lukas and Devin, my husband Jeff, my sister Karin and my neice Chelsea.
  3. I absolutely love my work – facilitating workshops with my dear friend Deb through our business Figjam Workshops. ( )
  4. I have recently completed my book A Woman’s Guide to Transformation and am currently looking for the perfect agent and publisher.
  5. I totally believe in the 7 Tools of Transformation that I write about in my book and I try to use the tools on a daily basis. (
  6. I believe we are all creative beings and are all capable of changing what we want to change (read or listen to any of the recent talks on Neuroplasticity)
  7. I absolutely believe that Happiness is a choice we can all make on a daily basis!

It was hard to narrow down my list to only 15 bloggers to nominate because I enjoy so many of the blogs I have been following.  I have chosen these 15 blogs because they inspire me:

Vinyl Record Face

Smirk Pretty

Of Love and Creation

Paradoxical Wisdom

Quelling the QLC

Tuesday Morning 10AM

How it Turned Out

Known is a drop Unknown is an ocean

365 to 30

Be fearful of  Mediocrity

Mountain Top Journals

Between Fear and Love

You were born to succeed

Inside Out Cafe

20 Years from Today

Thank you again Dani for nominating me.  And may we all keep writing and inspiring, because as Margaret Mead reminds us:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”


“Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.”

– William James

I just read a fascinating book called The Luck Factor

In his book Richard Wiseman explores why some people seem so lucky. It turns out that these lucky people don’t have special powers, like ESP, or anything extra-ordinary.  Most of them are no different than you and me.  But he did discover a few special things about lucky people:

Lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.”

He discovered that lucky people tend to be more optimistic in general and to expect good luck in their lives.  He noticed that people who expect luck have a more powerful ability to notice opportunities in their environment. Optimistic people’s field of perception is literally greater. And the great news is that he discovered that when you train people to expect luck, their field of perception increases accordingly!

Isn’t that wonderful!  This can be taught!  It’s not really a surprise, considering everything that has been written recently about neuroplasticity.  But still – how marvelous, people can be trained to expect luck and their field of perception will increase.  I just love that.  And I love the by-products for the research participants:

The results were astounding with almost all participants reporting significant life changes: including increased levels of luck, self-esteem, physical well-being, confidence, and success.”

I’d like to end this post with a video of the person I consider the The Ambassador of Optimism – The Dalai Lama speaking about Optimism in the Face of Adversity.



Please let me know what you thought of The Dalai Lama’s video.  And  I’d love to hear about your experiences being lucky.

As always, thank you for visiting my blog.  I appreciate it.



The Joy of Journalling!

“Better out than in.”

– Shreck

I have a really busy head!  It can often feel very chaotic inside my brain.  And when the old “mind masturbation” thing starts happening, I know I need to get it out instead of letting it fester inside.

But not only is journalling an excellent way of stopping the chaos, I have also learned it’s actually good for me!

According to

Journalling can:

•    Improve physical health and mental well-being
•    Diminish symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic, substance abuse, PTSD, asthma, arthritis, and many other health conditions and disorders
•    Improve cognitive functioning
•    Make therapy more effective
•    Strengthen the immune system, preventing a host of illnesses
•    Counteract many of the negative effects of stress
•    Finally, journaling is for everyone. It just “feels good” to write

There are beautiful blank books out there just begging to be filled up.  Or if technology is simpler for you, try Penzu – The Free Journal Online

My very favorite book regarding journalling is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

The Artist’s Way is a brilliant book, full of helpful, insightful, wonderful tools.

If you have time, take a minute to watch this wonderful video of Julia Cameron.  She’s such an inspiring woman!

If you journal, I’d love to hear about why you enjoy it.  And let me know if you enjoyed watching Julia Cameron.

As always, thank you for visiting my blog.  I appreciate it.

Miracles around us!

“Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

Miracles!  They are all around us, constantly.  I have had a few people ask me why I chose the Aurora Borealis for my background.  My answer is, first of all because I think it’s so gorgeous!  But beyond that – to witness the Northern Lights, in all it’s spectacular majesty is to experience a miracle.

While I was living in Alaska, no matter how many times I saw the Northern Lights, tears would come to my eyes and I would stop speechless and breathless, and just behold the beauty and  – well the miracle of nature.

So I chose the Northern Lights to be the background for this blog to remind myself and hopefully others to stop for a moment and remember – as Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us –  every day we are engaged in a miracle.


If you have had an experience witnessing the Northern Lights, I would love to hear about it.

As always, thank you for visiting my blog.  I appreciate it.

Thoughts on Creativity

“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”

– Mae Jemison, the first African American woman astronaut

What is creativity?  Where does it come from?  Are we born with it or do we develop it?  Can we lose it or be “robbed” of it?

It seems that some people are born more creative than others, that nature somehow overrides nurture.  But actually, research shows that, in terms of our brain, we’re not stuck with what we inherit from our parents. The brain like any muscle can get stronger or faster with practice. Practice creativity and you shall become more creative.

Recent studies on neuroplasticity suggest that we can rewire our brains based on the experiences we have – new experiences add to our storehouse, for lack of a better word, and from this we can then draw new creative inspirations, new brain connections and ideas.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love gives an interesting talk about new ways to think about creativity.

Please let me know what you think of Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk –  (you can leave a comment by clicking on the speech bubble at the top of this post.)  And I’d love to hear about any of your own stories about creativity.

And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.