Next Steps for the New Year


Hello Amazing Humans!

I am just back from living away from home for 26 nights due to the Thomas Fire in California.  There were many lessons learned and lots of growth throughout the process. I’m so grateful to the firefighters and first responders who defended our town from the worst fire in our state’s history.

Today we start a new year and let’s face it: this past year has been a trip globally, locally and for many, personally. On my end, we lost family members, we almost lost a matriarch, I experienced health issues and we evacuated. On the positive side, our house is still standing, we went to Italy to research book 2 of The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderónand I’m 80% finished with the sequel.  I launched another business helping people to make their visions real. My husband continues on the beautiful path of his true purpose of working with kids, and through a blessing by our hosts up north during the evacuation, will train with an amazing global organization called Kidpower. My son raised the most funds for his school’s jog-a-thon (more than $1,600) and won a Chromebook.

There’s a light side and dark side to everything.  Let’s talk about how to bring in and create more light in 2018.

  1. Cultivate Joy.  Sounds easy and also hard. Here’s how you do it–even when depressed or ill. Give gratitude for 1-3 things every day. Speak the gratitude and write it somewhere. Text someone, add it to social or write it in a journal or on a post-it note or napkin. It does not have to be the same way every day. Just once a day–even for the seemingly tiniest things like access to clean water, the breath in your lungs or the taste of your favorite food.
  2. Connect in Person. I have set an intention to connect in person with specific people in 2018. Look at your calendar and make time for the people who light you up. And if you can’t see them in person, try Zoom which is free if both of you can get Internet access at the same time.
  3. Choose health. How often do you move your body and get your heart rate up? What are your choosing to eat? My approach this year is simple: 45 minutes of exercise, four times per week, plus the 80-20 rule when it comes to eating.  80% of the time eat clean whole foods and 20% of the time, cinnamon rolls, baby.  Also, I experimented with avoiding my trigger foods during November and December which includes all members of the carbohydrate crunchy salty family plus my not-so-secret love: cheese. I’m avoiding both for the next 9 months or so, but not eliminating them since eliminating things with my personality feels like an encroachment on my freedom which is a recipe for rebellion and over-indulgence. I’ve also decided to find a great doctor in my community.
  4. Get dressed. I learned from a brilliant stylist (and dear friend) named Morocco B. Assouline, that clothes are like art. We can make a statement and get creative every single time we get dressed. This year, after working from home in sweatpants (yes, I know how lucky I am), it’s time to stay comfy and feel beautiful at the same time.
  5. Put your money first. It’s so easy not to look at your finances honestly. Schedule quarterly meetings with yourself or your partner to assess where you are financially and where you want to go. Then brainstorm about how you want to get there by putting some practices in place.
  6. Learn something new once a month or every other month. It may be that you simply read a book, sign up for an online course, take a free tutorial on YouTube, use the free DuoLingo app to learn a new language or take an in-person class. I plan to improve my left handed layup, get back to kickboxing and learn more about foraging for edible plants among other fun activities.
  7. Figure out how you want to feel and focus on that every single day. I’ve shared Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map and Core Desired Feelings approach many times on this blog. I’m thrilled to try her day planner again this year. (It’s on sale with the code MANIFEST18.) Basically, I’ve used her graphic maker to remind myself on my computer, phone and in print format–exactly how I want to feel every day. I’ve done this for several years and I know that it works to support your goals rather than leading with your goals first. It’s remarkable to work toward something when you’re heart is actually in it.
  8. #BelikeMollyandPeter. Most of this advice applies whether you are single or in a couple.Yesterday I met Molly and Peter at church when I sat next to them in the front row. I noticed that at one point during the Gospel when we stand and look toward the center of the church, that they were nestling and embracing like they were on a movie date. I thought, wow, I hope I’m like that with my husband when I’ve been married that long. After the service, I commented on this to both of them. Here’s the lowdown on what I learned from this couple who is about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary: They follow the 3 R’s which they learned long ago in a service.

RESPECT--no “yes, dears” because that’s not respectful. Fully see and hear the person. For all of us as individuals, I say that means the same for self-respect. Choose that inner self talk that is kind and respectful–not punishingly critical.

RELIGION–wait, don’t leave yet if you run at the thought of organized religion because it’s not just about that.  It’s about believing in someone or something greater than yourself.  For some of my friends, that quite simply connects to nature. When they hike or even stick their hands in some dirt to re-pot a plant, they calm all their cells down and realize they are simply part of a larger master plan. Pete talked about this as the glue.  My husband will prefer hiking the mountain over going to church any day–but we have the faith that we are being divinely led on a magical, mystical, kick-a** path if only we show up and do our part. That’s our glue even if  he is not sitting in the pew with me and my son. For more explorations and models of faith, check out my posts on Faith, Boredom and Desire or Wine, Women and Divine Noticing.

ROMANCE–wait if you are single because I was single until my mid-30s and I chose a romance with my single life–an INTENSE AND AMAZING FREEDOM to create spontaneous experiences on my own or with friends. That could be a wine and cheese gathering, a fantastic binge-watch in pjs or a biking adventure in the woods. And for those with a partner, I will tell you that I’m all up in this intention because it’s too easy to let life take over and forget, what Molly and Peter told me they did at the end of the day when they wouldn’t see each other – the ten-second kiss. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Mystery dates and mystery trips are also key. You can do that alone or with a best friend too!

I’ll admit that I squished extra points into #8, but I’m stopping at my lucky number because it’s auspicious and that’s plenty for a stellar year.

I hope these simple next steps help you to create the amazing year you want. If you want help crystallizing your vision and creating a plan to support it, I invite you to check out this page on my blog.

Choose to make magic every single day.

#cucalacas + love,



Free Book for You to Mystery Gift to Another!


Big love, people. BIG. GIANT. LOVE.

Here it is: I just came from my new church and I learned about the story of St. Nicholas. He was an expert at mystery gifts.

So here’s what I am doing: I am gifting my novel, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship to 8 people of your choosing. Free. I will send 7 within the U.S. and 1 internationally.

How does it work?

Send an email to with the name and address where you would like the book sent. Send it by Wednesday, December 6–St. Nick’s Day!

I will choose 7 of the emails at random for U.S. shipments and 1 from the group of international addresses, also at random.

I will notify you if your recipient is selected.  I will sign and dedicate each book and mail it.

Here’s the clincher: Let’s keep this a mystery and not tell the recipient that it was you!

I’m so excited about this that I’m bursting with joy!

I have more fun things I’ve created over recent weeks below. Read on if you want some more love.


  1. Readying Your Heart for Whatever Comes Your Way
    Early this morning, I was thinking about how my church will be going through a seismic retrofitting around Easter time. That means that the building will be  strengthened to be earthquake-ready.  For some time I’ve been thinking about how this is a metaphor for our hearts. Listen in here for 11:44:44 minutes and seconds on the topic. Also, some folks have asked me to start a podcast. I’m not there yet, but if you’d like some additional encouragement to keep going, I made a ten-minute Bright Light broadcast here.
  2. Mystic Athlete TV is here! I’m on a big transformative journey of heart, body, soul and mind. You can track my progress via 1 minute daily videos (and get inspired!) on YouTube by subscribing here and you can also join me on Instagram @beamysticathleteTV.
  3. Design a Life & Live It. I’m helping people transform their lives through strategic business planning combined with my own personal magic. In two 90-minute sessions we crystallize your vision and set up concrete incremental steps to design the life you want and live it. You can read more about it on my Work With Me page. This is a great gift to yourself or someone else for the holidays. I am also offering sessions to groups of friends of 4 or less who would like to create plans and support each other throughout the year.  My client roster is full for the rest of 2017 (and I’m finishing the sequel to my novel), but if you want to save a spot or spots for 2018, let me know by sending an email to


When to stop?

I have been waiting to write this post until the perfect time. Now with a cinnamon roll in my belly and a cup of tea by my side, I want to share what’s been brewing in my heart for a couple of months now.  It’s about when to stop, and includes a few ideas on how to stop.

IMG_8208I took this photo expressly for you as I had to stop at this one lane bridge. I’ve been across it exactly eight times as I traveled back and forth to a class called: Enchantivism: Changing the World with Story, Myth and Inspiration at Pacifica Graduate Institute. The class was taught by Dr. Craig Chalquist. (Check out his site for lots of free resources on an alternative to in-your-face activism to help heal the world.)

The bridge above is meant for two-way traffic but only has room for one car going one direction at a time. It’s located on a dark and curvy road in the mountains. Each time I stopped at the line, I peered over the dashboard to see if there were headlights on the other side of the bridge. I had a car waiting on the other side only once. I let the car cross over the bridge before me, then I took my turn.

It got my thinking about how in life, I wish there were stop signs more often. As a hypervigilant overfunctioning planner geek, I also wish that I could see what was mapped out far in advance. But this isn’t always the case. That’s why, a few years ago, I created this Made of Stars Meditation to Trust in the Divine Plan.

The bridge experience also felt like a reminder of how far I’ve come in breaking ancestral patterns. Say what? Basically, there are habits that we all learn from our families, living and deceased, which can help or hinder us.

Can you think of anything you learned from your immediate or extended family? Any habits? Here are a couple of ideas:

Fear name it – the dark, spiders, driving on highways, heights – some of these fears may be uniquely yours, but some may be learned. Pause and think about it. When did you first decide to be afraid of that?

Mistrust of...a certain race, ethnicity, political party – some of these experiences are founded on interactions with others and/or oppression by others. These experiences are real and painful. Did you know about Daryl Davis? He’s the subject of the documentary Accidental Courtesy. I learned about him in class. He’s a keyboardist who has played with Chuck Berry and Little Richard. After a gig in an all-white venue, an audience member approached Davis to compliment him on his set. As they struck up a conversation, Davis learned that the individual was a card-carrying member of the KKK who eventually gave up his membership and turned over his ceremonial robes to Davis. Davis now has a garage full of ceremonial robes from a number of individuals who renounced their membership in an effort to unlearn the prejudice passed down from generation to generation.

Even while watching the promotional video for the film, I felt fear run through my body when I saw KKK members and their actions. I’m not suggesting that you go out and befriend Klan members. Racism is real, scary and dangerous. And there are many great and resourceful organizations who are breaking down those barriers.

But what can we do to find common ground with people we encounter who may not share similar world views?

The U.S. is more divided now than ever before. I live in a small town and find myself crossing paths with people who voted differently in the presidential election, for starters. According to Brené Brown’s most recent research in her new book, Braving The Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging, more of us are living in communities with like-minded people. This is a problem. We are no longer asked to find common ground with our neighbors because often, we hold all of the same views.

Do you feel like you belong? Do you feel lonely sometimes? This quote by Dr. Maya Angelou frustrated Brown for years. It was a key piece in unraveling the quest for belonging and the key to standing alone.

You are only free when you realize you belong no place–you belong every place–no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.

One central idea is to belong to yourself. And also also how can we find ways to create real connections with others?

Here are four of the specific research-based steps recommended by Brown:

People are hard to hate close up. Move In.

Speak truth to bull****. Be civil.

Hold hands. With Strangers.

Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.

You can dig deeper on this by reading her book (it’s only 161 pages) or you can watch this great interview with Lewis Howes.

But let’s get back to what happens when we stop and pause. Let’s think about how to break the patterns that no longer serve us. Here’s what I’ve been doing more of in the last few months:

  1. Observe the story like a movie: I have spent years getting triggered by conversations with someone in my life. Just this week, I saw it about to happen and I was able to watch the story unravel and pause my normal (inside my head reaction, “here we go again”) and instead, just say, “Okay, this is what we’re doing. And I don’t have to let it hurt me.” This keeps me from labeling him a narcissist and lets the moment simply pass. It’s that labeling which adds to the act of dehumanizing. I dipped into compassion and noticed that just listening to him was my act of service. (I still maintain boundaries in the relationship and don’t seek him out if I want to be seen and heard.) As a result, I left the conversation lighter.
  2. Plug in and recharge: I’ve tapped into Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map approach to creating Core Desired Feelings year after year. She has a cool graphic maker here. Core Desired Feelings are simply feelings you choose to dictate how you want to feel every day. One of mine is “Earth-Connected.” When I go outside and connect with nature, even for a few minutes in my backyard standing still or tending my small container garden, I am recharged. The other thing I do is plug in my sound-activated dance light every morning before turning on my computer. Then I play music and dance if I feel like it. Other times I choose quiet yoga or pull a few cards.
  3. The Outbreath: I’m a member of Lindsay Pera’s Mystic’s Society and one simple concept I’ve learned from her is the “outbreath.” In between work tasks, running errands, phone calls or any activity, I often pause and simply breathe with a focus on the exhale to signal my body, heart and mind that I’m transitioning to a new activity. This has helped me a lot with adrenal stress and also emotional eating because I’m more conscious of whether I’m actually hungry or procrastinating from the next task by foraging in the fridge or pantry.
  4. In the dark questions: If you’ve read my blog for some time, you know that I often suggest meditation and prayer as a key to designing your life. Well, we know that sitting still is not always easy. I’ve started a new practice of waking up and in my dark bedroom, and simply asking, “What do you want me to know today?” You can ask that question of your ancestors, whichever God you worship or of your own inner guru, as my yoga teacher and friend, Carrie Hensley, always says. Sometimes I just hear one word like, “shine” or “be free” or “trust.” Though this process may feel uncomfortable when you read about it, just try it when you’re half asleep and see what words come to mind. Then when I lift myself up out of bed and my feet touch the floor, I simply say, “Thank you.”  I offer gratitude for being above dirt another day.

An additional frame of reference you may want to consider comes from Brown’s previous book Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead. Her acronym for BRAVING has been a source of helping me craft the best boundaries to suit how I design and live my life.

B – Boundaries
R – Reliability
A – Accountability
V – Vault (keeping confidences and not speaking out of turn*)
I – Integrity
N – Non-judgement (ask for what you need and accept what others need without judging them)
G – Generosity (not jumping to negative assumptions about the intention of others)

*A nuance of the Vault which you’ll hear about in the interview with Lewis Howes is that keeping confidences also includes not telling other people’s stories. She doesn’t just mean gossip here, it also means avoiding telling other people’s business even if you have the mask of caring while sharing. Brown refers to that as using other people’s stories as currency.


Finally, I’ve had tons of fun with the stars lately. I love the app called Skyview. It allows me to look at the stars and identify the constellations. Last night, I took a walk alone under the moonlight (to connect with nature) and it was breathtaking. I came across the constellation, Andromeda and after taking the course I referenced above, I had to research her story. Often when we come across myths, they either resonate right away or they may be a bit irritating. When I first started to read her story here, I rolled my eyes. I thought, “Come on, I don’t want another man slays the dragon and saves the princess story!” But then I paused and observed my own reaction and looked a little more deeply. Andromeda is chained to a rock to atone for her mother’s sin of thinking she was the most beautiful. And I thought about ancestral patterning.

I thought about what I’ve been taught to fear and what self-imposed limitations I’ve embraced through the influence of family, tribes of friends or colleagues and culture.

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Remember, there are signs everywhere, in story, myth and even as you drive down the road. Here’s a Golden Thread Meditation I made in a sacred grove of trees to tap into your own ancestors and to remember YOU ARE LOVED every single day.

I’ve realized I’m not chained to a rock by my past and I don’t need someone to slay a sea dragon for me. I’ve got my own sword, and it comes in the form of my bold beautiful heart.

Use yours.

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Here’s some additional beauty from the mountains of Pacifica Graduate Institute. Email me at if you’d like to work together to create your vision for the future and map out concrete steps to get there. I’m working with a handful of individuals before the end of the year. For more on how I came to offer this opportunity, check out this post.

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Short Eclipse Meditation + Short Post

Hello Brilliant Ones,

Here’s my shortest post ever:

I love you.

Thanks for reading!


PS: Of course I have a bunch of fun resources for you. Choose what you want!

  1. Short (less than 6 minutes) Eclipse Meditation for the next 24 hours and beyond:

2. Mindfulness Walk video — Join me in my favorite grove and along the Pacific Ocean:

3. The writer and poet, Terry Spencer Edwards wrote this reaction to Charlottesville. It has been shared all over the world. (Terry’s poetry was featured on my blog.)


Here is something I wrote before going to sleep last night. I hope there is a little something in it to fortify you.

I Am

You may think your threats have caused me to retreat into a corner in fear. You are wrong. My back is straight. My resolve is pure. I know who I am and whose I am. You cannot bruise my spirit even as you attempt to batter my body.

You may think your ignorance and hatred belittle me. You are wrong. I am the progeny of kings and queens. My ability to live, and move, and breathe, and adapt, and love, and struggle, and succeed, and influence, is intact and especially nourished in the face of opposition. I steady myself on the shoulders of my ancestors who instruct me to run on and work while there is yet light.

You may think your strategy is clever and your whispers and whistles are imperceptible. But I hear what you don’t even have the courage to utter. I see you clearly, with or without cowardly coverings. My gaze is steady, unflinching. I have the courage not to look away and pretend. You are who and what you are and I am who and what I am. Despite your calculation, I know without doubt, that I am beautifully and wonderfully made, unfettered by the evil you seek to attribute to me.

You may not believe I belong here. You are wrong. My roots are inextricably bound to the soil of this land, seeds planted from the beginning of your version of this country, watered by the tears, sweat, blood of those before me and even up to this moment, enriched by the bodies buried deep in the earth but never far from the surface of my consciousness.

You may think you can make me hate. You are wrong. I don’t deny my sadness and my anger in the face ignorance, immorality, inhumanity. After my moment of emotion, my moments of resolve, hopefulness, faith, and audacious love dry my tears and redirect my frustrations into quiet fortitude and authentic connection, shedding light in the places of isolation, terror, and cowardice you seek to create.

I am held together by experience, expertise, history, education, in and out of the classroom, and the moral fiber of a proud people. Never mistake my kindness and forgiveness for weakness. I cannot be brushed aside. I am here.

You may espouse a false doctrine that contorts to an unrecognizable version of your fear-based belief. If you call that narrow vision faith and truth, you are wrong. Fear and faith cannot dwell in the same space. My beliefs are not anemic, immobile, not passive. My faith humbles me enough to kneel and instructs me to get up. You may think I am bowed down. You are wrong.


5. Here’s Brene Brown’s research-based response to what’s showing up in our world  — it has always been there, but the events in Charlottesville have shed yet another spotlight on it.

6. This On Being broadcast with the late John O’Donohue on the inner landscape of beauty has helped me over the last few days.

7. Untamed the Wild Soul’s podcast with Rare Media – A conversation on Creativity, Productivity, Health and Rituals. Here’s the blog post which connects to multiple platforms so you can listen on the device which best suits you.

8. Crack the Egg: Finding Joy Amongst Conflicting Emotions: I referenced this past post in the Mindfulness walk. Note that the meditation by Sheila Pai is no longer available but you can find a whole host of meditations, poetry, interviews and more on my SoundCloud page.



Photo Adventure Winners!

Thank you to my wonderful readers and supporters for submitting photos in honor of The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon’s 2nd Birthday!

We have winners from VA, CA, Rome and London!

And the special creative photo at the bottom is from Philadelphia thanks to my cousin. It’s my Mama Chelo who passed at age 105 before Selma was published, but there she is with a copy magically on her lap!

Winners will be contacted in the next 72 hours with their prizes.


Fun Gifts for Selma’s 2nd Birthday!

Let’s celebrate and also here’s another video I made in Italy just for Selma readers!

It’s 8-8-2017–it’s a magical day for many reasons!

Happy, happy 2nd Birthday to my novel, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship!

I am so excited to share a fun celebration that starts today:

We’re hosting a photo adventure! I’m inviting you to take photos of your copies of Selma (e-books too!) with you, friends and family, your pets, yummy food and more!

Winners announced Sunday, August 13.

You can enter as many times as you’d like! You can either:

  1. Post to Facebook and tag me and include #cucalacas
  2. Post to Instagram and include the hashtag #cucalacas
  3. Email the photo to

Please note that when you enter, you’re granting me rights to share the photographs as I celebrate and promote Selma with others.

Prizes are:

Gift cards;

75-minute Dream Maker Session with me. You can learn more about that in my last blog post;

A spot in Carrie Hensley’s Ayurveda 101 course (valued at $97);

30-minute Oracle card reading with me;

Thanks for being so supportive over the last two years.  If you want a blast from the past, check out this post when I celebrated 100 copies sold.

And if you want a blast from the future, I made this video for you while in Italy staying at the beautiful agriturismo La Torre Rossa with details about the sequel! It shares how I do my research, get inspiration and document scenes and details to be written later.

But wait, there’s more! Today is #istandforlove day, the brainchild of Sarah Love Hanna McCoy. It’s a special day to declare love.  Anyone can participate–check out the details here.

Sending you love and magic!



Secrets from the Olive Grove

UndertheOliveGrovebyRebeccaVillarrealDear Beautiful Readers,

Today I’m sharing more of an intimate letter with a post card from Italy stuck inside the envelope. I’m going to tell you some magic secrets in this post. You’ll also learn how I’m helping some people (maybe you!) make their dreams into a living reality.

Here’s a story I’ve never shared publicly before: In September 2003, I was ready for a big change. So I wrote this simple item in my wishing journal, “I’m moving to Spain, San Francisco or Chicago.” Three days later, I left for Chicago where I met my husband. Months later, I moved there.

But wait, it gets better.

Before I moved, I was throwing away photos and ran across an image from my first trip to Chicago about seven years earlier. It was a photo of me leaning against a railing and standing in front of a travel agency sign with my last name. I looked a little closer at the photograph and realized that I was leaning on the railing where my husband lived in “present day” Chicago which was to become my first home there.

Below is the photograph of me back in the day, and years later when I was living there, dressed as a bee next to the very same railing giving out candy on Halloween.

MagicChicagoOrcasYou can also see a green construction paper note which outlines the intention I set in 2011 after visiting Orcas Island in 2009—that’s a family photo in Moran State Park on the island. It was a wish to move to a diverse community near the water with good schools and more. That paper and photo was on my fridge from 2011 until 2015. And guess where I live now? I’m thriving in a diverse community near the water with a lovely elementary school.

That’s a lot of magic. And it’s also a lot of intentional work. I’ve often talked about the small measured steps it has taken to make my dreams real. And coming this fall, I will be offering 1-on-1 sessions to clarify your dreams and develop a practical plan with a timeline to help you make those dreams a reality.

I’m still fleshing out the options, but currently it look like this: 1 or 2 live sessions with me using Zoom, Skype, Facetime or the like, with a focus on plan development, and in some cases, personalized videos and meditations for your use to stay on track.

While in Italy doing research for the sequel to my novel, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship, I made a special video for you about these sessions.

This trip was one of those magical opportunities. I had admitted my longing about a year ago and then six months later I shared it with you in this video on my blog. You can see how tentative and excited I am. From there, I tapped into a lot of energy to support my dream as well as developed a plan of actionable steps to make it a reality. This was a soul longing and I quenched the longing exactly as I had hoped. As a result, I’ve expanded as a human being.


There are so many opportunities for you to expand. We all know what contraction feels like: stress, anger, anxiety over people, relationships, money, health and more. Expansion is an entirely different experience.

If you or someone you know is ready to expand into a life that has been nudging at them, let’s stay connected. Please send me an email at to express your interest.


A few notes about what this is not: it’s not therapy or a commitment to a long-term coaching relationship. It’s targeted at people who are ready to put action behind their desires. It’s for individuals who are willing to extend a measure of emotional risk to step into their potential.

For one last before and after comparison—here’s the video of when I applied for a scholarship to Jennifer Lee’s premium group in which I declared that I would finish my novel.

The year was 2013 and you’ll see how elated and nervous I was as I spoke my dream into reality. It was that declaration that kept me accountable and moving toward my goal. And now, I not only have lovely reviews of the book, but also a feature in The Huffington Post, a radio show appearance and I was even lucky enough to be invited to the Drop Out Writer’s Residency where I made this documentary to share my experience with you.  All this from the nervous woman (me) asking for help and leaping at the same time.

So stay tuned friends, this is going to be a bold, beautiful and bountiful year—it already is!

Let me know if you want to connect about your dreams and make them into a reality!

Much love and adventure,


P.S. I also wanted to share two resources which have helped me in the last few months. One is an interview with Todd Herman about making changes stick.  The other is a wonderful post by the writer and entrepreneur, Catherine Menist, titled Barefoot on Machu Picchu–5 Steps to a Barefoot Life.





Ways to be Unbroken

These are the ways to be unbroken
let naps sneak into your days off

doze for even a few minutes 

or let rest be a stillness snuggled with your eyes open and your ears peeled for divine noticing
Let music tickle a memory

roller skating

tug of war

jumping in the lake

let music create new memories

walk with it
Be your own superhero 

You are a human lie detector

The best french fry eater

A stealth listener weaving stories from the unassuming characters in your novel yet to be written

Taste salt like a soft pretzel

Wipe the snot from your upper lip

Talk to yourself in your head like you talk to your best friend
Find a new best friend if you need one

You will find one with the step above 

Wiping your own tears and snot and sadness and despair with love, tenderness and compassion

is like personal training for new friend finding 
Cook and eat 

or just eat

the foods that make your heart sing and skip a beat

the Reuben

sautéed spinach with garlic and pine nuts

chocolate pudding 

peanut butter
Go barefoot on grass

ask a tree if you can sidle up and lean for a moment or just touch both hands

plug in and charge your cells

before charging your cell

The Light Bulb Testers


There is a special job held by certain individuals in your life: they are the light bulb testers. They may take the form of people you love and they may appear as people you hate. Yes, hate, as in the underbelly of love. Or they may take the form of the person in front of you ordering the last jelly doughnut.

Now you’re craving a jelly doughnut, aren’t you?

I digress.

This week, dare I say as an emboldened Aries, this month (!), I celebrate my 48th birthday. It was on 4/18 and I turned 48. (8 is my favorite number. And 4 is a multiple of 8 so that’s very cool. Plus it’s my sister’s favorite number.) Thank you to so many of you who wished me a happy birthday through phone, text, social media and snail mail. It’s been magical and fun and full of love.

And, I’ve run into a few light bulb testers.

That’s when, in the midst of my intense joy and gratitude, some individuals and events have brought darkness to my doorstep—and no jelly doughnuts.

So what are your choices when you are moving into a beautiful moment in your life? What if you are in that beautiful moment and someone takes a hammer to your light bulb no matter how many times you’ve dodged his or her swings?

You embrace the shattered light.

“What does that mean, Rebecca? Can you please be more specific?”

Yes, yes I can. Here’s what happened:

The day was full and beautiful. Love surrounded me—even in nature. I saw a heron, a seal and a super cool snail!


Then a light bulb tester came in the form of a conversation later in the day.  I made a boundary and declared, “Nope, not today. Any other day, but not today.” But I didn’t duck and I stayed in the conversation despite my intuition (which was a mistake) and I allowed that bulb to get broken. Then I stepped in the glass with bare feet again and again.

And my “old stuff” came up. The pain in my shoulder blade I hadn’t felt for almost a year came back. And do you know what I ended up saying after a few tears? “Thank you. Thank you God and the Universe because I know that this is part of a plan and this had to happen.” I didn’t know why and I didn’t need to understand why. (Though I tried for a moment.) And I let myself get really angry at the light bulb tester. I let that move through me so it wouldn’t ping around like a pinball in an old-fashioned machine. I wanted to kick myself for not trusting my intuition or for making firmer boundaries. But then I came around to compassion for myself and a softening for the hope I had for a light-filled conversation on my birthday.

Getting back to the light and burning brightly took a bit more doing. It was my super special lucky number birthday, so I took action. I prepared a delicious snack, watched a movie, went swimming and played with my son. And every time the memory of the last smash came back, I said, “I see you, but that’s not what’s happening right now. And I replaced the darkness with the faces of the people with whom I spoke that day. I replaced the feelings of lack, guilt and shame that were dumped on my doorstep with the firm decision that I was not going to accept that delivery. And days later, I’ve extended compassion to the light bulb tester, a compassion firmly lined with a boundary.

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Whether you believe in God, Source, the Universe or nothingness, there’s a plan. You have a chance to co-create it. I chose my reaction to that plan. I chose to embrace my uncomfortable feelings and move through them until I was able to pull another light bulb out of the box. I got plugged in again.

My grandmother Mama Chelo always told me, “You live in my heart, and you don’t even pay rent.” Be mindful of who gets to come into your heart and when. People do not have a right to be there, it’s a privilege. And sometimes, new people come into your heart and some people take a break from rent-free living. And that’s okay.

You don’t have to accept any unwanted deliveries and own other’s people’s stuff. We each have enough of our own stuff — no additional clutter needed.

Know that when you’re tested, the source of your light is limitless. There are always more light bulbs. Also, without the dark, your light wouldn’t burn as brightly. But protect your light. And when you need to, grab a broom and sweep up what’s been shattered. It’s okay for life to be messy. It’s a beautiful mess. Plug in again. It’s how you heal old wounds. And it’s how the world gets healed over time.

Aim your face and your heart at the sun, it’s the brightest bulb we have. And it’s a renewable source of energy. Just like you are renewable, every single moment.

This is one of the keys to living in the world.

And speaking of living in the world…here is the documentary from my stay one year ago at Drop Out on Orcas, an transformative writer’s residency. I spent 5 days in a beautiful house in the woods without cell or Internet working on the sequel to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship. Spoiler alert: I take you to the place where the culminating scene in the novel occurs and I also create (and act out) scenes in the woods on the spot for the sequel.

I did a whole lot of healing in this magical place. I hope you enjoy it! Please share with friends!

Deep gratitude goes to the poet and visionary founder of Drop Out on Orcas,  Jennifer Brennock, for this life-changing experience.