Who is on your personal board of directors?


I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle, I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.

–Mother Teresa

Maaaaaan, I know some people who are getting it in the gut right now.  Loved ones in the hospital.  Physical pain. Grief.  What can you do when you are stuck in the muck of stuff you can’t control?  Three words:

Ask. For. Help.

I remember several years ago arriving at National Airport, at one of my lowest, most exhausted points, and just crying as I waited for my luggage. I was under so much stress at the time. A friend picked me up and handed me this little plaque with the Mother Teresa quote above.  Ever since then, it sits on my desk every single day.

No matter if you believe in a higher power or not, you need your people. You need your personal board of directors. This same friend that met me at the airport, periodically, calls me “Madam Chairman” and asks for advice or simply calls to share the fact that all is well. We also have that “bruja” magical connection where one of us is thinking of the other, and the other knows.

Do you have a personal board of directors?

Knowing what to do comes from knowing who you are.  Sometimes, we need our circles, our tribes, to reflect the best parts of ourselves, to hold up hope when we have none, and to carry concern over worry. The latter is a nuance I recently relished from the empress of inspiration, Danielle LaPorte.

Do you have people whom you can call to share “here’s what” and they do not need fifteen minutes of context because they know your life? 

Even if you don’t talk all of the time, there’s a heart connection.

My board has never met all together. I receive and give one-on-one consults and referrals.  We rarely have long conversations unless we have planned time together.  Many of them do not live where I live.

Somehow, we stay connected. Through phone, text, Skype, handwritten letter (try one quickly before they become obsolete) and when circumstance strike, they are live and in person, over coffee, tea, wine, water, tears or luggage.

Love your people. Find your people. Ask for help.


Everything always works out for…you.


I have this cousin. We’ll call him David. And his sister, also my cousin, we’ll call her Kelly (pseudonym after my favorite Charlie’s Angel). So David has this saying, “Everything always works out for David.” So Kelly started her own saying, “Everything always works out for David’s sister, Kelly.”

You know another word for that saying?



You might have a mantra and not know it.  One year ago, in my first blog post, I mentioned Jimmie. When I ask how he’s doing, he always says, “I’m good, I’m above dirt.” So that’s Jimmie’s mantra, it centers on giving thanks for being alive.

Recently I used that mantra on the teacher that began the year greeting us at the front door of my son’s school.  Everyday on glorious cool mornings, when I asked how she was doing, she launched into “I’ll be better when this heat it over.” Mind you, in that moment, there was no heat. It was a glorious cool Chicago morning. She brought that weight to the front door as child after child passed through it. So one day when she asked me first how I was doing, I answered her, “I’m good, I’m above dirt. That’s what matters, right?” She responded, “You got me there.” And when I exited the school three minutes later after dropping my son at his classroom door, she had shifted her response to folks, saying, she’s good, she’s above dirt. And she said it loudly, so I could hear her.  We gave each other a knowing smile. Hers said, “You called me out.” And mine said, “Yup.”

I have been practicing Sanskrit mantras to music for free (again) for the last ten days or so thanks to Deva Premal’s 21-day meditation series.  Sometimes I “get them” and sometimes I just do my best to listen and not chant because my morning brain-mouth connection is running on its lowest setting.

What’s your mantra? Do you think things will work out? One of my favorites (thanks to my friend Tindi) is:

“I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this moment.”

I used it again and again on Friday when I was delayed for eight hours at National Airport. Try it.

“I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this moment.”

One of my favorite writers, thinkers, life-changers is Danielle LaPorte. She just started a weekly prompt related to her book and multimedia tool, The Desire Map.  She writes about Kali, the goddess of transformation, destruction and transcendence. Translated, that’s some fierce love.  If you have a mantra that works for you, keep it up. If you don’t, or your mantra hinges on lament, anger, discomfort or self-pity, ask Kali to destroy that.  Remove it from your life. Burn it like that outside of a roasted marshmallow. Get to that soft, gooey, s’more-ready center.

Remember we are nearing the end of Self-Care September. If you haven’t already, pull out the fierce love. Be a peaceful warrior and know, “You are exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment” and “Everything always works out for…you.”

Morning Glory


Who is the morning you? Groggy? Hungry for caffeine? Ready to feed yourself, felines, canines or some other creature? In your ideal world, who would you be in the morning? Would you be energized? Grateful for being alive and above dirt? Remember childhood when you were ready to meet the world with a bowl of Lucky Charms and Saturday morning cartoons?

Your morning rituals can determine a lot of how your day goes. A friend of mine scoffed at me when I told her that the 15 minute yoga DVD she was doing in the morning would help her with stress during the day.  As a busy public high school teacher in Washington, DC, her response was, “Whatever, I’ll try it.” A few weeks later after an anthrax scare at her school, she called me and said, “You know! I think that yoga is working. I stayed totally calm today and just directed the kids out of the building.”

Or take my friend’s grandmother. As a special treat sometimes she puts circus peanuts in her coffee. You know those glorious orange marshmallow concoctions that melt in your mouth? I can just see her, peaceful and patient as the circus peanuts dissolve in her java.  I also imagine a playfulness and child dancing in her heart as she remembers loving circus peanuts as a young girl in North Carolina.

What might you do with an extra ten minutes in the morning? Yoga is not for everyone. I know that some friends have told me that they get bored. Though I would dare say that 10 minutes of breathing in the morning is for everyone.  Perhaps an index card next to your bed to write one thing for which you are thankful and an, “I declare this a day of productivity” or laughter or courage.  I have been meditating every morning for peace and joy in the hearts of my family and in the heart of my son’s first grade teacher so that this transition to a new grade can flow easily. One of my favorite morning rituals for months was that I would watch (parts of) movies before work since I don’t get that entertainment time much anymore—or at least I don’t pick the movies. I started a James Bond marathon at 6:30am and couldn’t have been happier.  It was my secret time.

Think about one thing you might do in the morning if you get up 10 minutes earlier.  Try it for a few days.  Even if it’s not every day.  Just try something. Keep it a secret. Or tell your friends.  Do something to be a creator of your day. You will see a new shape to the following 24 hours. Trust me.

Erasing Big Mistakes, Watering the Seeds, Naming Your Own Matilda

Have you ever felt regret at a choice you’ve made? Or anger at yourself for that relationship? Conversation? Purchase? Meal? Do you wish that you could erase that moment or decision? There are always lessons in those moments. Sometimes they are harder to swallow than others.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and teacher, shows how the mind is like a field, where every kind of seed is planted–seeds of suffering, anger, happiness and peace. The quality of life depends on the quality of the seeds. By learning how to water seeds of joy and transform seeds of suffering, then you are creating space for understanding, love, and compassion to flower.

That sounds so good. But how do you do it? Here are a few of my favorite short meditations from his book, Taming the Tiger Within: Meditations on Transforming Difficult Emotions

1. If positive seeds are watered in a person’s life, it is partly because of luck and partly because of effort.

2. Inside every one of us is a garden, and every practitioner has to go back to their garden and take care of it. Maybe in the past you left it untended for a long time. You should know exactly what is going on in your own garden, and try to put everything in order. Restore the beauty; restore the harmony in your garden. If it is well tended, many people will enjoy your garden.

3. Compassion is a beautiful flower born of understanding. When you get angry with someone, practice breathing in and out mindfully. Look deeply into the situation to see the true nature of your own and the other person’s suffering, and you will be liberated.

4. Mindfulness means to be present, to be aware of what is going on. The energy is very crucial for the practice. The energy of mindfulness is like a big brother or sister, holding a young one in her arms, taking good care of the suffering child, which is our anger, despair or jealousy.

So whether you want to think about any negative emotion as a seed in a garden or a sibling or even a baby, you can work to be compassionate toward yourself and others. One time, I read that those negative seeds, like garbage, could be turned into compost which helps to tend your healthy garden. This helped me to accept my negative feelings and not just push them down with thoughts of gratitude. Once someone shared this insight as well: resentment is like taking poison yourself, then expecting the other person to die. Whoa.

The other approach I have learned is to name your negative emotion, whether it’s anxiety, fear, jealousy, anger or depression. Mine is named Matilda. I actually like the name Matilda. When she pops up, she’s wearing a light blue house dress with white polka dots and big black men’s wingtips with white socks. When I’m under stress, I see her coming. She just wants to squat inside me like a toad and take over. So I can tell her, “I see you, Mattie, thanks for reminding me to stick up for myself. You know what, have a seat in this corner of my heart. I know you want to fight for me. Let me take a moment to figure out how handle this one.” I know that I’m taking a risk in inviting you to think of your heart as a garden or a host to any number of characters, but let’s face it, we have all kinds of thoughts and emotions running through us every day. Why not try something new to help you navigate when the waters get choppy, or the garden gets weedy or a lady in a blue polka dot house dress shows up?