Monday, December 31, 2012


New Year, New Word

If you were to define the year ahead by just one word, or one simple phrase, what would it be?  Would it embody the hopes and dreams?  Would it be representative of a New Year’s resolution?  Would it be a simple statement about where you are in life right now and where you plan to be in the year ahead? 

Relationships.  Writing.  Momentum.  Crossroads.   More Success.  Pay it Forward.  Dream it, Live it.  Longevity.  Love on. 

These are a few of the responses that came from my family members and close friends as we went around the table on Christmas Eve to answer this question that was posed to us by our friend and professional life coach.  You see, it is our Christmas Eve tradition to indulge in a decadent buffet dinner, drink copious amounts of wine, and then let the combination of food coma and truth serum bring out the true colors in each person around the table.  We have had the same dinner party participants with the same tradition for the last five years and the Life Coach gets to pick the question for all to answer.

I am ridiculously optimistic and, perhaps, naively full of hope when it comes to life and love.  I’ve had my fair share, and even beyond, of tragic romances and some tough luck in life the past year.  But when I  was asked to contemplate the year ahead, I couldn’t help but immediately feel gratitude for all those that extended a hand to offer friendship, love, and support whenever I had a tough turn to navigate.  And then feel moved to make the year ahead one in which I follow their lead and bring light and joy into the lives of others whenever they might need a helping hand.  When it came to my turn at the holiday dinner table, my immediate response was “Pay it Forward”. 

Hilary Swank gives a fantastically written speech in the movie New Year’s Eve when all of New York City is looking at her with anxious doubt about the ball in Times Square being repaired in time for the Midnight Count Down.  She encourages the citizen of NYC to see this moment as sign to pause, reflect on the year past, and reach inward to discover hope for the year ahead so that we are truly ready to embrace it.

I offer you the same words of encouragement, albeit much less eloquent and without a star studded entourage, as we look to the year ahead.  What moments did you embrace in 2012?  Which challenges did you shy away from for fear of failure or being hurt?  The times that brought you closer to becoming the man or woman that you desire to be?  The times that made you realize that you are exactly where you are meant to be?

I agree with those that encourage us to not ‘hold on to the past’ and use the New Year to look forward.  However, our journey is the road map to describe how we became the person we are today.  It is a critical part of our story.  So now, as you look back and reflect on 2012, I ask you:  What will be your word for 2013?

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Life is Beautiful

The holidays are such a, well, tricky time of year.  They tend to mean something different to everyone – starting with the fact that people are celebrating all different kinds of holidays. 

I grew up in a family that could easily be described as a sort of “Leave it to Beaver” cliché and as a young adult I have come to realize what a rare gift that is in our complicated world.   When I come home for the holidays I look forward to spending time with family, laughing with my siblings, eating too much Peppermint Bark, and scrambling for that last minute present because I most certainly forgot someone on my list.

I look to others in my life and know that if they were to illustrate with words the scene at their home for Christmas or Chanukah or, simply, ‘the holidays’, it might be more complicated or less idyllic.  There might be family members not in attendance and their absence leaves a deep void.  There might be fewer presents, if any, under the tree due to the unstable financial position of a home.  The list can go on and on and the only shoes we truly know are the ones that we walk in day in and day out.  I can’t begin to try and understand the world of ‘Celebrating the Holidays’ that exists beyond the table I sit around every year.  I simply don’t know it.

We were watching a Country Christmas Special on television the other night and many of the artists were commenting on the holiday season and their song selection prior to performing.  The lead female in A Band Called Perry was asked why she enjoys singing Christmas songs.  Her response was powerful in its simplicity:  because everybody knows the words and for that 3 minute moment in time we all come together and live in unison.

As I look around at the environment that is built around us between approximately November 15th and January 2nd I can simply say that I choose to see its beauty.  The flowers, lights, bright colors, and shiny décor are begging us to smile and be in awe of this great nation – to come together, if even just for a moment.

We might all attach the holiday season to various meanings, some more positive than others, but hopefully we can all come together and agree that it is a time to try and find something in life to celebrate and be in awe of each morning – even if just for a moment. 

If the department stores, hotel lobbies, or festive restaurants aren’t enough to try and bring out the spirit of beauty then at least ‘Google’ Clark Griswold and look at his lights display.  I can almost guarantee that it will put a smile on your face as it has been doing for viewers of many generations.

Monday, December 17, 2012


As much as I would love to dedicate this week's article to tales of spiked eggnog, mistletoe, and other holiday shenanigans...I can't help but feel compelled to mention the event that continues to be on everyone's minds (and televisions).  The tragedy in Newton, Connecticut.

What took place in Connecticut this past weekend I consider to be an unconscionable evil.  The innocence of the victims pulled at every heart string in America and our nation held their breath as they watched our President interrupt the morning news to deliver a speech that would, hopefully, show leadership and offer unity amongst the broken hearted.

If you were watching television, or even listening live on the radio, then you witnessed a moment that -- to me -- was one of the most striking emotional points of the week.  Our President, the leader of one of the most powerful nations in the world and whose face is recognizable amongst the millions, teared up and had to take at least three deep breaths to collect himself while trying to offer solace and support to the parents and family members of the victims.  Why so shaken?  Perhaps because he is a father.

Think about it -- when we look to the leaders in our lives do we acknowledge the human factor?  The President of our nation, your boss, your professor, your landlord.  All of the people who might play a role and hold a title that represents authority or power are also parents, children, or spouses to someone. 

I don't know about you, but I often find myself managing a very love/hate relationship with the holiday season.  There is so much going on and people can be pretty wound up.  The drivers are more aggressive (hello, parking lot chaos), there are plenty of end-of-year deadlines looming at the office, and I tend to feel resentful of everyone that wants or needs something from me.  This process can lead to angst, impatience, and frustration with those around me...during the merriest time of the year?  In the words of Alanis Morissette, "Isn't it ironic?"

The silver lining, albeit a dull one in contrast to all that has taken place, is that on Friday afternoon I stopped in my tracks and empathized with our President as he had a moment in which he had to take a deep breath and try to collect himself at the thought that one of his young daughters could have been victim to the news headlines of the day.  He's human.  He's a father.  He weeps at the thought of burying his children.

So this holiday season, as you feel inclined to honk your horn at the person that sits too long at the red light or to swear under your breath about your boss demanding final projects be delivered before you leave for vacation, take a moment and remember that we are all human at the end of the day.  And the true intention of the 'Holiday Season' is to reflect upon the year that has passed with gratitude and love for those that made it a bit brighter while also celebrating the beginning of a new year with hope and optimism.

I wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season.  May your days be filled with loved ones, cheer, and thoughts of gratitude.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Speak Up!

I was pouring over love, life, and end of year career goals with a dear friend (red wine was certainly involved) and she made an anecdotal comment about interactions with her boyfriend of the last 6 months.  She plainly said "I've learned that I simply need to be direct and ask for the things that I would like to see and he is typically very responsive and receptive."  Imagine that -- being direct and asking for what you want, or dare we say deserve (!), from relationships.  A simple, yet brilliant, expression that is entirely underrated in life.

Often, my writing centers around the topic of dating and relationships so you might be thinking that this isn't applicable to the single ladies.  I will now take this concept a bit further and use it as a more universal approach to an assortment of relationships in life. 

My brother sent out an email to my sister and I earlier this week and it was so typical 'Simple Man' that I literally laughed out loud in reading it.

               "Dear Barbie & Skipper -- what would you each like for Christmas this year?  Please don't say 'oh                                             nothing' because then nobody wins." 

The holidays are a time of gift giving as a token of appreciation for the people that have played a significant role in our lives throughout the course of the past year.  It is also a time to look forward at the year ahead and identify goals and aspirations to then be used as benchmarks as we attempt to navigate the road of life.  I rarely speak with specific direction towards the more intimate relationships in my life, yet, I admittedly have no problem making specific requests of my work subordinates and colleagues so that they can clearly understand what I will need in order for our relationship to be successful. 

I must confess that I am pretty darn sure that certain non-work related relationships would grow tremendously if I did take such initiative in being more direct.  Now, I am not recommending that we place demands on people in life and stand by a line with our arms crossed in defiance.  No, not at all.  I am simply reminding all of us that being a clear communicator is critical to the success of ANY relationship and sometimes the more intimate ones are easily overlooked in this department.

I responded to my brother's email with a blend of holiday gift ideas ranging from Taylor Swift concert tickets and backstage passes to portable speakers for my iPod.  My brother told me that he probably can't come up with the Taylor Swift passes -- but hey, at least I asked!  Keep in mind that asking for what you want is as important as realizing that sometimes the response to your request is a gentle 'No'.   

Monday, December 3, 2012

Building a House

What if I told you that with each decision you make, consciously or unconsciously, you are building a house that bears your family name over the front door?  Now, what if I told you that your future grandchildren will see this house that you built to be constructed of materials consisting of Facebook posts, Tweets, and Instagram?  If you raised your eyebrows and shifted uncomfortably in your seat just right in this moment then you had the same reaction I did when someone posed this question to me just days ago.

You see, we are living in a new digital era use media in a way that allows the world wide web to contain an unprecedented amount of detail about our lives. We are writing new history books about an ear that has yet to exist long enough to be able to look back with much hindsight. I don't doubt that future generations will say that they choose to use media differently as a direct result of learning from our mistakes of communicating choices and opinions in an extremely public way.

Way back in history a person's last name wasn't perceived to be unique to that individual. The name was representative of a family household and each member's decisions reflected upon the family as a whole. Poor or reckless decisions quickly, and powerfully, brought shame to a family name.

Today we live in a different kind of world. We are much more individualistic and don't often care to associate our name and reputation with a larger group.  We feel entitled to believe that our decisions are set to impact our lives alone and the image that we choose to project in various outlets may or may not be relevant to anything beyond the moment of that post.  If this is a thought process that rings familiar then I challenge you to see things a bit differently.

I found it intimidating and bit overwhelming to realize that being a participant in the forefront of this era of information overload will allow future generations to quickly and creatively associate all members of my household through a simple "googling" of a name. To go even further and more dramatically with this idea, I could suggest that future generations will be able to purchase a DVD from Google or Microsoft that contains all the photos, tweets, check-in's, and status updates posted to your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram timeline.

We are building our own digital time capsule and one day it will be the building blocks that collectively create the house bearing our name.

So now I pose to you again the same question as before but now within hopefully a different context: what if I told you that the decisions you make today are building the house bearing your family name over the door? 

Be mindful and thoughtful this holiday season.  I, for one, plan to start "Checking In" to every important library and museum in town and will be filtering all photos so that my grandchildren will wonder my true age for years to come as they squint through my faded raindrop toaster filtered Instagram photos. #justkeepinitreal

Monday, November 19, 2012


Are You Willing...?

Well, we finally made it.  Welcome to Day 30 of the 30 Day Challenge!  It's been a long and windy road this past year, but we have finally arrived to our destination. 

I began writing the 30 Day Challenge towards the end of the holiday season last year with the intention of providing a small set of daily notes to help motivate and move my readers.  Now we are at the end of one journey with the beginning of another just around the corner -- 2013 and the beginning of a new calendar year will be here in the blink of an eye!

This past weekend I heard an inspiring talk by a local pastor and I immediately took note of some key points knowing that they would be entirely relatable to this 30th and final entry date.  The topic was on 'Movement in Community' and he posed two questions to the audience that I want to now pose to you:  1) Do you know your own skills and talents?  AND 2) Are you willing?

Every learned writer knows to never provide an adjective without a subject -- so perhaps you are now irritated and asking me "Willing for what?"  Rephrase it.  "Willing to DO what?"

The first entry for this series is dated nearly 12 months ago in December of 2011 and the discussion is intended to lay the groundwork for self improvement and strong self awareness that will lead to creating new habits in a new year.  We talked about exercise, healthy eating, meditating, praying, talking, listening, writing, sitting, and the list goes on...  My favorite tip and reminder will still get a plug even in this final entry:  Drink more water!

Through the 30 entries that make up the 30 Day Challenge you have been given the opportunity to read as a spectator and absorb stories and life lessons that span (hopefully!) from entertaining to life changing.  I now come back to this final question and challenge of the series:  "Are you willing?" 

Are you willing to take this information and DO something with it?  Are you willing to get in the game and step off the sidelines?  Are you willing to take action and prepare to influence your own life as well as the world around you?

If I have accomplished nothing else in these last 11 months, it is my sincere hope that I have inspired you to say YES.  Yes, you deserve a fulfilling life.  Yes, you can make the time for some more 'personal time'.  Yes, you are willing and ready to take action. 

This life will throw words like busy, hard, and tired in your path. There will be plenty of reasons to grab hold of and then be used as an excuse for not getting in the game.  You are stronger, and now hopefully wiser, than to succumb to the path of least resistance.

I plan to live a life in which I feel set apart and capable of transcending the mundane. And I sincerely hope that you have the fight in you to do the same.

 "To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, day and night, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
-- e.e. cummings

The Challenge - Day 30

You are given only one body in this life and it wasn't exactly intended to be altered and adjusted by doctors and their scalpels.  Treat it like a temple, or at least as well as the fancy and expensive car you hope to have last well beyond its average driving mileage.  Use the right fuel (eat healthy!), tune it up (exercise!), and don't be afraid to give it some TLC (manicures and massages count).

It is so easy, and very commendable, to get lost in spending your time serving and nurturing others.  Take a moment, ideally once a day, to look inward and think selfishly.  Think about your own hopes and desires for the day, for the week, or for this life.  You deserve to have personal priorities and goals -- that's the easy part.  Making time to works towards accomplishing them is the true challenge.  Give it your best shot because the 'try' is the first step in the right direction.

This world is a big, messed up, and often confusing place.  I know that there is a power greater than me capable of seeing a much bigger picture beyond the one encapsulated by the frame of my personal life.  I plan to continue to trust in that big picture and such hope is what my spirituality is really all about -- faith of the unknown.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's Awkward. Now Take It In.


Upbeat.  Fun loving.  Supportive.  Positive.  Outgoing.  Social. 

It's fair to say that these are all characteristics that my friends and family would typically use to describe my personality and I, admittedly, take pride in such remarks.  I enjoy embracing life and the opportunities that it can present along with making time to be with family and friends all the time in my everyday life.  This is my normal. 

These last couple of weeks have been far from normal.  They have been hard and stressful and emotionally draining with few moments of reprieve to simply take a deep breath and re-energize.  I haven't felt like my usual self and started to really stress out about this -- on top of everything else.  I was describing this unsettling feeling to my Life Coach and she looked at me, dead on, and basically said 'Get Over It'.  Um, excuse me? 

You see, I have been treading through waters that are a bit of a 'doldrums' period and it is incredibly unfamiliar and uncomfortable.  My life coach described it well when she used the word 'Awkward'.  She then told me that these seasons in life are necessary and are not to be overlooked simply because they are uncomfortable.  I must take in the awkwardness and use it as a teaching moment.  Life, at its own pace, will work past this season and all will return to what I prefer as my 'normal'.

This is no easy task for someone with strong ambition and a desire to lead by example in life.  My persona is inclined to say, "No, not me.  I will not be weak.  I will seize the day and not care about such troubles!"  Insert image of a Joan of Arc figure meshed with a naively optimistic Disney Princess here: ...

What I am learning is that such a response isn't exactly healthy nor is it productive.  So for now, I am doing my best to follow the advice of my Life Coach.  If I'm not in the mood to go to a bar or a birthday party or happy hour because my emotional energy isn't at a place to make conversation with people then that's ok.  If I don't feel like smiling every day for a period of time then that's ok.  It's not normal and it IS awkward, but that's all ok.  After all, this too shall pass.


I do find then when I'm not in the mood to rise to the occasion for exercise then I find solace in cooking healthy food.  Physical activity is great for bringing fresh oxygen into the blood, but we can also experience incredible health benefits by simply watching what we eat and drinking plenty of water.  For now, that's my focus and I'll return to yoga and surfing when I regain my energy.

The 'doldrums' are a normal part of life and are intended to be temporary.  Like anything else in life, don't just run past it but instead embrace it.  What period of life are you experiencing right now?  Are you looking around and living in the moment?  Or are you looking down the road and missing the life that exists right around you?

Faith is huge when it comes to processing periods of life that are less than pleasant and fare 'ok' at best.  It is the faith and belief in something or someone bigger than us that enables us to release some of the weight burdening our hearts and minds.  Have you ever read the poem Footprints?  Look it up whenever you are craving some wind into your spiritual sails.  I do believe in someone capable of carrying me down the path when I could not feel strong enough to walk on my own.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A House of Cards


House of Cards

I've never actually built a house of cards -- card games weren't really my thing as a kid.  But I've seen it done in movies and I have this visual of a delicately built structure with edges less than a millimeter wide responsible for maintaining perfect balance.  If one card becomes loose, or even wobbly, then the whole house falls to the floor. 

Last week I had a card fall out of my house and, subsequently, everything seems to have come crashing down with it.  I have spent the last 29 years making careful decisions to build a house that is strong and graceful.  Perhaps, even with the desire for outsiders to see it as flawless.  Then, a bend in the road occurred and the perfection was shattered.  I spent the first few days mourning the loss of 'the house'.  I spent hours shedding tears over the mess and wondering what to do with it.  You see, the house of cards metaphor is all about 'the fall'.

I knew that I needed a moment of mental turnaround, but sometimes it's just easier to cry and feel sad about loss and disaster.  In the midst of my emotional roller coaster, a friend sent me a song to help lift my spirits and the lyrics are truly inspiring.  The track is titled 'Forces of the Unseen' and the chorus reveals a poem of strength and inspiration: "I'm gonna make it through, you'll see.  I swear I'll prove you wrong.  You haven't seen the last of me.  I am way too strong." 

Here's the silver lining with the House of Cards analogy:  you still have all the cards.  Granted, things need to be rebuilt and it's going to take time and patience and strength to persevere.  It certainly won't be easy.  But it's not impossible either.  I'm going to have to rebuild and find that balance and vision, but if I just sit back crying and staring at the mess then I won't be doing anything productive. 

The next time life blows wind through your house of cards and it feels like everything is crashing down just take a moment and tell yourself:  I'm gonna make it through, you'll see.  I swear I'll prove you wrong.  You haven't seen the last of me.  I am way too strong.


Don't ever give up on your physical well being.  There will be times that you are sidelined or you get off track for so long that it feels like you're not even sure where to start back up again.  Perseverance can be applied to so many things in life -- including lifestyle habits.  If you've fallen off course then just find the strength to get back on it.  Plain and simple.

If you are a frequent reader of The Challenge then you might find the following commentary repetitive -- but I come back to this topic because it truly is so critical in how we live our lives.  Hardship in life is inevitable.  It is in our reactions and perspective that we will reveal our true self.  Rise to the challenges and be aware of your frame of mind.  It is the most powerful force in guiding you through what lies ahead.
I attended a new church this past weekend and the pastor focused on a topic that I hadn't really heard much about before in a sermon.  He focused on Community.  We are wired to be a part of a community and we seek it out in various ways.  Whether you belong to a community of sports fans, a community of faith, or even just a neighborhood community focused on supportive relationships -- you are a member of a larger group.  Don't be afraid to lean on that group for support and inspiration.  American culture focuses on the individual and the power of independent strength.  I'm not against this message at all, but I also don't want to see us remove ourselves from community.  Indulge in the surrounding support when you need it.  I know that I wouldn't have made it through this week without my community helping to lift me up.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Challenge & Car-ma

I've had the same car for the last 4 1/2 years and this morning I am handing over the keys.  I was 25 years old when I received a significant pay increase at my swanky Beverly Hills real estate investment group and I went out and bought myself a BMW X5.  It was safe, luxurious, and my commute was about 1.2 miles each way so gas mileage was a moot point.  It was my first major purchase of my young adult life and I negotiated the whole deal myself.  About a year later I was laid off from that same swanky Beverly Hills firm and the one thing that stayed with me as I left all keys with reception was my car key.  It was time for new chapters and new adventures and me and my silver truck were going to hit the road together.

We went all over LA  from Downtown in the East to Malibu in the West for dinners with girlfriends in tow to dozens of job interviews.  We traveled to Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, and at least a half dozen times to Palm Springs.  We experienced and survived three significant breakups and drove off leaving only our taillights as a farewell sign.  To say there is some sentimental value attached to this otherwise basic steel box with an engine is an understatement of gigantic proportions. 

My recent move has led to a 40 mile, each way, commute.  This, coupled with gas prices climbing towards $5.00 per gallon, have led to me to sell the SUV and invest in a more sensible hybrid vehicle.  It's the right thing to do and makes a ton of sense.  Also, it's just a car!  But then...why am I so sad and feeling as if I am saying farewell to a dear friend?

Change is hard and often intimidating.  The unknown lies ahead and can be perceived as fearful, but with a slight shift in perspective it can also be exciting. 

My mom made the comment to me that she can empathize with my sentimental response to this exchange of vehicles in my life as she thinks her car can bring her good luck...or bad.  I'm not sure what my car-ma would be for the last 4 1/2 years.  It has certainly been an adventure filled with various highs and lows influenced by the fact that it has been the most strenuous economic period of our lifetime.  Maybe changing it up isn't such a terrible thing.  It's an election year, I'm turning 30, and wouldn't mind the feeling of some wind at my back as I look forward to new adventures.  So here's to hoping that Toyota makes cars with great car-ma!   

The Challenge - Day 27

It's easy to stick with what is familiar.  Change can be uncomfortable or hard, but also full of surprising results.  Change up your workout routine and see what happens.  Even if you just give it a week before returning to more familiar habits. 

I often avoid major changes until I feel compelled to take action -- or perhaps the Universe takes action for me and I am suddenly in the throes of change (hello, layoffs).  Is there anything in your life right now that you have thought about changing but are too afraid to do so?  Perhaps it is the status of your job, romantic relationship, living name it!  I dare you to make a change and be open to what might happen next.

I am actually not going to step in and preach about changing your spiritual habits.  Rather, I think that praying about change can be a very powerful activity.  Someone once shared with me "Where thoughts go, energy flows".  Pray, or just meditate, about being open to the change that might be pulling on your heart strings or circling your mind.  Being mentally prepared is half the battle.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Challenge -- Take Off Those Boxing Gloves

The Challenge - Day 26

Every week I write about the daily battles, challenges, and pursuits that I face in life with hope that the reader can either relate or at least be amused.  I believe in being a strong woman and doing our best to face these matters by flexing our ever-strong heart muscles and minds.  This weekend, my perspective shifted as I realized that being strong should never overshadow the ability to love, let go, and be vulnerable. 

I recently watched a very sweet and charming movie titled "Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding."  The lead character is a woman, said to be a Virgo (that hits close to home!), who prides herself on being a successful lawyer in Manhattan.  Her mother is a total hippie living in Woodstock and the lead character's newly announced divorce leads her to take her two kids for a week long getaway to find 'Love in Woodstock'.  This woman is constantly trying to maintain structure in life, keep her kids on the straight and narrow, and simply cannot endorse the pot-dealing and love-seeking lifestyle of her hippie mother.  The leading man is introduced into the story and he immediately asks her "Why are you constantly battling?".  Without missing  a beat she responds with, "I'm a lawyer.  And to be a good lawyer you must always have your fists up."  The man responds with, "But the people you are battling aren't actually fighting back.  You're boxing shadows."

As I watched the credits roll, I couldn't help but look inward and process this subtle message.  How often are we rising to the challenge versus battling adversaries that we created in our own minds?  Are we just boxing shadows some days?  There is a time to raise the fists and know that you can 'beat this' or 'overcome that' but there is also a time to take off the gloves and just be vulnerable.  We can't walk through life thinking that everyone is swinging a fist -- especially if there is love desperately trying to wrap its arms around us. 

The Challenge - Day 26

I am a huge fan of yoga and a key component to a successful yoga practice is breathing.  I challenge you to take a deep breath, right now, and fill your lungs to capacity and then just let it go.  You will feel fresh oxygen pump into your body as you release all of the stale air that we slowly hold on to each day.  Take a moment to do this three times in a row just once and day -- you will be surprised at the actual physical impact of such a simple release.

Every day we face various life challenges.  Who are your constant battles?  Your kids?  Your boss? Your mother?  Your significant other?  And now, when was the last time that you took a step back to truly evaluate that relationship.  Are you picking your battles wisely or holding up your fists all day long?  Let go and put down the fists.  Now try and see the light in that relationship and focus your mind on the good while managing your reaction to the bad.

I sometimes find myself picking battles with LIFE.  Things that I find to be frustrating, or not materializing fast enough, or simply unfair.  The most powerful thing to do with battles that are beyond our control is to let go.  Do you have anything that you hold on to with a grip so tight that your knuckles might be white and fingers strained from the tension?  Let it go and give it up to who/what serves as the higher power in your life.  The world presents enough for us to take on -- no need to create additional battles of the mind.

"Some think it's holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it's letting go."  -- Sylvia Robinson

Monday, October 8, 2012


"Add More ~ing to Your Life."  Is this statement at all familiar to you?  Perhaps you have seen this title on a bookshelf at Barnes and Noble or in your iBooks catalogue.  The cover features a petite blonde standing on a skateboard in the middle of Times Square and wearing angel wings.  It was the first book written by Gabriel Bernstein back in 2010 and it was a total game changer for me. 

The message of  'Add More ~ing to Your Life' is to bring an active lifestyle to the forefront of your mind and associate physical activity with positive thinking.  Running, jumping, writing, meditating...all powerful forces for bringing fresh oxygen into the blood.  Then, couple that with a focused mind on things like envisioning dreams, forgiving those that have hurt us, or simply an attitude of gratitude.  With authentic intentions and real effort this can be pretty powerful stuff. 

My sister gave me Gabby's book when I was in the midst of a terrible breakup and struggling to get past all of the hurt and pain that it had brought into my life.  I can tell you, without a doubt, that Gabby's book was instrumental in guiding me to focus my mind and body on positive thinking and, ultimately, the road to new beginnings.  Grow through it -- one of my favorite mantra's of that chapter in life.   

I was thrilled to see Gabby speak live, for the first time, this past weekend.  She talked about some of her favorite tools in navigating life and referenced personal experience.  'A Course in Miracles' is at the heart of her teachings and she is able to make the philosophical components of it relevant and real.  There are so many great 'nuggets' that I was able to take away and I hope to share them all with you over time. 

When thinking about the article for today, my mind immediately went to "The Challenge" that Gabby presented to all of us in attendance at the West Hollywood studio.  She challenged us to set aside 5 minutes per day for 40 days straight to sit in stillness and just breathe.  Essentially, a morning moment to set the intention for the day.  This might sound a little 'hippie dippy' to you, but it doesn't have to be ridiculous.  I'm not saying that you have to sit cross legged with wind chime music or chanting in the background.  I'm not against any of that, but I also realize that the stereotypical quiet time is associated with some sort of 'Granola Yoga' weirdo stuff.  Get past your initial judgment and just trust me on this.

You might be thinking, "Sorry, but I don't have even 5 minutes to simply turn off life in the morning.  I have kids to dress, traffic to face, or emails to return."  I get it.  I am not a morning person and this is going to be tough for me too.  But if you really want to see how life can transform through the power of listening then MAKE the time.  We can't be ready to receive miracles if we don't have the lenses to see them.  The best way to prepare yourself to receive miracles moments is to open your eyes and ears in the stillness.  The noise of this world can drown out so much goodness and it is up to you to make the time to turn it off, even if for just 5 minutes.

I'm not going to outline this week's challenge steps.  You know what you need to do.  It's up to you to MAKE it happen. 

Monday, October 1, 2012



I went out to dinner night with a friend last week and enjoyed a long evening of eating, drinking, and gabbing.  Our meal lasted a couple of hours and we each had two glasses of wine.  Then we went to a neighborhood gem of a bar next door for an after dinner drink and casually sipped a cocktail while continuing to hang out for a couple of hours.  So here's the math:  two glasses of wine and one cocktail over a four hour period that included dinner.  And guess what, when I saw him again THE NEXT DAY he referenced things in our conversation from the night before that I simply didn't remember.  I felt awful and somewhat embarrassed.  How could that be?  I certainly couldn't blame it on the alcohol -- it was a tame night with reasonable consumption!

The next day I was sitting on the back patio with my housemate and two friends of his that were staying with us from Michigan.  It was the tail end of their 5 day stay with us and we had found time throughout the week to visit and enjoy some of the beach weather together.  At one point during our time on this final day my housemate referenced "Megan" in his story.  My first thought was, "Who's Megan?"  The girl sitting next to me, our house guest for the last four days, spoke up in response.  My next thought, "Oh my gosh!  She's Megan!  I didn't know her name this whole week!"  I am entirely confident that my inability to learn her name wasn't from a lack of introductions.

It doesn't take a forensics specialist to conclude that I'm clearly not listening to the people, and life, happening right in front of me!  I can't illustrate an exact road map outlining where my mind actually is traveling during these moments, but I would guess it is someplace between the towns of "To Do Listing", "Men/Dating", and "Fall Fashion".

I plan to work on my active listening skills this week and, assuming you can relate to any element of the stories I've shared, would encourage you to do the same!


Our bodies can have a lot to say about guiding us towards improved physical  health.  The stomach grumble, the sore muscles, slumped shoulders, or achy feet.  We all know these physical indicators are directions for us to take -- but are we listening?  Be an active listener with your body this week and when you hear or feel the signs -- take action!  My guess is that your body will say something like "Drink more water, please.  And maybe shove a little less sugar in me."

I will be the first to admit that I don't always listen to the little voice inside of me.  That thing that we probably refer to as 'The Female Intuition'.  When I do listen, I know that the power of the Female Intuition is a force to be reckoned with!  But often, the voice is not in alignment with some agenda of mine so I ignore it.  I challenge you to listen to that intuitive voice and respond accordingly.  It's there for a reason and we might be closing ourselves off to new opportunity by ignoring it.

Prayer is a very powerful way to speak to the God or Greater Power that you believe to exist.  For me, I typically find my mind will run on in prayer like it is a therapy session or perhaps deliver a laundry list of "asks" with a heart felt Please and Thank You in the end.  When was the last time you sat in silence and worked to simply listen?  Some might see this as dedicated meditation -- which it is -- but truly clear your mind and don't meditate on anything beyond keeping an open mind and heart to listen in the silence.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Feel Empowered to Use the Word "NO"

I can't tell you how many times I have agreed to attend meetings, cocktail parties, etc and then immediately regret the decision knowing that I was over committing myself and would probably end up simply exhausted at the end of the day.  I hate to use the word 'NO' for fear that it presents myself as a negative person.  As you well know by now, I strive to maintain positive energy in my life and am influenced by the idea that I must be a 'YES!' person.  This is often a excellent philosophy, but sometimes the word NO is just plain necessary.

I began a whirlwind journey last week as I prepared to fly to San Francisco for a long weekend immediately following a week of many late nights at the office and a handful of business dinners.  I returned late Sunday night only to unpack and repack a suitcase Monday morning for two back-to-back conferences located a few hours away.  All events had been on the calendar for at least a month and I had been bracing for this 10 day marathon of planes, trains, and automobiles.

While in San Francisco, I met a very charming and attractive young man who happens to live in Westwood.  A couple of drinks and weekend of texting later, he asks me to dinner.  Any night of the week will work for him -- I just have to pick one.  I look at my calendar, cringe, and realize that I have to simply say NO.  Technically, I could have squeezed this date night in at some point on Monday evening between my commute back from the office and repacking a suitcase for another 4 day trip.  The mere thought of it made me hold my breath for fear of the dark circles that would begin to build under my eyes.  There isn't enough eye cream in the world to solve that kind of puffiness and I was already feeling an eye twitch coming on induced by stress and lack of sleep. 

Without knowing what the reaction might be, I had to employ the "Thanks, but I can't..." statement so rarely used by those of us that personify the latest Tweener catch phrase abbreviated as FOMO (fear of missing out).  Earlier in the week I had made the personal commitment to say No Thanks to all socializing offers presented for the weekend immediately following my return home knowing that, for the sake of my mental and physical health, I would need some 'Me Time' filled with a mix of personal To Do's and loose ends with work.

Do you ever find yourself afraid to use the word 'NO' because it is often easier to just say 'YES'?  We might be saying YES to appease others or avoid a conversation filled with explanations and pressure to change our response.  I challenge you to use the word NO more often in your life and see how people respond.  You might be pleasantly surprised to find that they respect your decision and you get the satisfaction of doing exactly what is necessary and right for YOU.

As for me, Mr. San Fran has offered to keep his calendar open for the following week which will give me at least a handful of days to sleep off the dark circles and eye twitch.  Thank goodness -- because nobody likes feeling anything less than their best when they step out for a date night.


Do you ever find yourself planning to incorporate a workout into the day and then get sidetracked by the commitments on your calendar?  Say NO to that last minute Happy Hour offer or volunteer luncheon and make your physical health a priority.  There will always be another time order that martini or sit in on a PTA meeting.

Often times we don't take the time to acknowledge our priorities and we let life carry us away so quickly that we look back with a tinge of regret about not achieving certain personal goals.  Take a moment to write down the things that you desire for your life.  Goals, priorities, bucket list items...whatever it is that holds importance with you.  Then try to make conscious decisions to allow those priorities to be a part of your life.  You will most likely have to say NO to a few things.  Do it.  You won't regret it.

As women, we are literally wired to be nurturing and selfless.  The maternal tendencies to take care of others often places our own needs at the bottom of the list...if on the list at all!  We must take a moment to realize that we too deserve time and attention.  Emotionally connect with this concept to the best of your abilities before employing changes in decision making.  It simply goes back to one of my favorite mantras...'Where thoughts go, energy flows." 

Tips and Reminders
Studies show that you will sleep better if you remove the electronic devices (including iPads, iPhones, and TV!) from your life at least 30 minutes before bed.  Grab a book or magazine to unwind or perhaps use the time for some pillow talk with your partner.  Your body and mind will thank you.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Where Thoughts Go...Energy Flows

The Challenge started at the end of 2011 and I made it about 60% of the way before deciding to focus on other topics of discussion.  I would now like to take the opportunity to revisit The Challenge and finish the 30 days in which we create a moment to look inward and improve our Physical, Spiritual, and Personal 'Self'. 

I started the week excited to prepare for the final 10 episodes of The Challenge and then, essentially, 'Life Happened'.  I phrase it this way because I have come to realize that the cerebral place of positive energy is a world that I choose to visit with my mind's eye and it is not always the most accurate picture of the reality that exists around me.  In the past, I have written about the downside to such a habit and I must now be aware of the cautionary tales that can result from such behavior. 

However, as the reality of life unfolded right before my eyes this week I found myself flustered with a friendship wrought with tension, stressed about various work projects that all had overlapping deadlines, and discouraged by the unexpected financial burden of a repair cost on my less than budget-friendly German-made automobile (at least two pairs of Louboutins worth of repairs).  I woke up on Monday morning with energy and spunk, but returned to my bed by Tuesday night with a heavy heart and slightly red eyes affected by the lack of sleep and increase of stress in my life.  I have no doubt that, on some level, you can relate to the feeling of a fresh start being clouded by the needs of the world pounding at your door.

By Wednesday, I was what you might call a 'Head Case'.  Luckily, the car trouble had required me to visit LA bright and early to retrieve my vehicle and I then had to drive from West LA to San Clemente for a meeting.  For those not familiar with SoCal geography, at the time of day that I was traveling this was easily a 2 hour drive.  Those two hours became an unexpected time of self reflection and rebuilding.  I realized that while my life was busy and demanding, it was certainly still filled with blessings and opportunity.  I also realized that much of my downfall on Tuesday was a function of my mind circling the tragic to-do list that was weighing me down.  I had become engulfed in it all and the road trip was pulling me off of this slippery slope.  It was, literally, a moment to get a grip! 

This unexpected opportunity of dedicated personal time allowed me to clear my mind of all the circular, and frantic, thoughts so that by the time I returned to the office I was in a much better place.  The experience reminded me of one of my favorite sayings that I find to be incredibly true:  'Where thoughts go, energy flows'. 

Don't underestimate the power of your mind.  If you resign to negative thinking and circling your mind around the stress of life then it will carry into every detail of your day.  In contrast, if you do your best to maintain a positive and productive frame of mind then you will be better equipped to take the bad in stride with the good. You will probably find life to be significantly more manageable. 


When was the last time you made time for physical activity that also overlapped as alone time?  Go for a walk/jog/swim today and be alone with your thoughts.  The physical activity will get the blood flowing and the fresh oxygen will improve your mental well being.  We all love to socialize and make working out fun, but go it alone this time.  You won't regret it!

The power of positive thinking has numerous writers, speakers, and bloggers (!) talking.  Personally, I find that the most influential noise on my train of thought can be music.  If you want to really condense this challenge then you can work on the physical and personal well being at the same time by selecting a soundtrack that will bring a smile to your face and peace to your eyes.  The mind will quickly follow suit.

Nothing encourages positivity quite like gratitude.  Whether you prefer to journal, pray, or simply take a moment to 'think', spend just 5 minutes today reflecting and meditating on all that you have to be grateful for in your life.  Don't be afraid to get detailed and personal.  For example, instead of being grateful for a loving family be grateful for the smile on that special person that greets you when you walk in the door (four legged friends count!) or the phone call that you can count on every week from that caring family member.

Tips and Reminders:  Hot tea soothes the body from the inside out.  Chamomile, Peppermint, or Lavender are all personal favorites.

Monday, September 10, 2012


The coming and going of Labor Day represents a variety of annual milestones.  It tells me that the summer season of pool parties and beach days are about to quickly wind down, my white pants will soon be out of fashion, and October 1st is around the corner.  What's the big deal about October 1st?  Well, it is the commencement of the Fourth Quarter. 

The end of year, or 4th Qtr, is an incredibly busy and often stressful time of year for business operations.  We have one last calendar quarter to showcase our earnings, accomplish or perhaps outperform our projected numbers, and then prepare budgets for the year ahead based on the current year-to-date performance. 

I hate budget season.  I have to create and/or approve budgets for nearly a dozen commercial properties and the majority of our forecasting is a function of looking in the rear view mirror.  Sometimes the rearview mirror is a glamorous and exciting window filled with outperformance and a pat on the back.  Other times the images in the rearview mirror cause me to slump my shoulders, hang my head, and simply let out a sigh hoping that that year ahead will be better.  By now, you have probably figured out that I work in commercial real estate and if you have read a headline or two in the last five years then you can probably guess which rearview mirror images have appeared most frequently.  Needless to say, I am in need of a serious spa day come end of December every year to relieve the tension in my shoulders. 

This past weekend I was reflecting upon the stream of consciousness that the '4th Qtr' brings about and I started to reflect upon my personal progress through the year thus far.  I started writing these articles nearly a year ago and around the holiday season had started a conversation about establishing goals and working through your own 30 Day Challenge to create new habits.  Admittedly, I didn't even finish writing the 30 Challenge series so I was pretty terrified to attempt to measure my success in other goal setting areas of my life. 

There are so many life events that happen throughout the year and it is easy to get pulled 'off course'.  The common conversation in the fall tends to be about how the summer time flew by, the holidays are around the corner, and the next thing you know it will be 2013.  I am guilty of this mentality and can be found eagerly nodding my head in agreement with such statements in conversation, but today I am going to pulled the E-break and ask you to SLOW DOWN, take a breath, and check in with yourself. 

The 30 Day Challenge presented the opportunity to focus on improving your physical, spiritual, and personal well being.  What goals did you set?  What habits were you hoping to build?  What sort of things did you start to make time for and then slowly find yourself losing the dedication towards your own self-improvement?

In simply re-reading my posts from December 2011 and January 2012, I will be the first to admit that the 4th Qtr Check-In is entirely necessary for me to start steering this ship back on course.  I will be bringing the 30 Day Challenge back to Stillettos in the Boardroom so that I can finish what I started -- I encourage you to do the same!  The year isn't over yet so as my soccer coaches over the years used to yell throughout the 4th Qtr of each game, "C'mon girls!! Finish Strong!!"

Monday, August 27, 2012


Los Angeles never fails to surprise me with how many people find themselves drawn to this city for the beautiful weather -- and perhaps the beautiful people.  Hollywoodland is a place of opportunity, palm trees, and the ultimate late night Thai food.  As a SoCal native I take a great deal of pride in meeting new 'Transplants' and wish them much success in establishing a new community for both work and play.  Never before have I been on the receiving end of such a speech, until now.

It was a little over a month ago that I decided to make a move about 40 miles up the 405 freeway.  It was a new county and a new neighborhood, but geographically easily within reach of my closest family and friends.  The chaos and exhilaration that comes with packing, furniture shopping, and restaurant hunting can serve as a fantastic temporary masque to what is really taking place underneath the surface of it all:  change.  I realized last night, for the first time, that change is hard.  And it takes patience with time to redefine normal. 

Earlier in the day I had attended a friend's barbeque in which I came across many new faces that met me with a warm smile and inquiring eyes.  Many of them were 'New LA Transplants' from New York and they came  with dreams of careers in Hollywood and excitements for warmer weather.  In the past, I would have greeted these new locals with a removed understanding of what it felt like to be navigating a new community and building new relationships.  Yesterday, I felt like a new member of their tribe.  I too was new to the town, in a less extreme way, but new nonetheless.  We exchanged comments of patience and ambition -- when to lean on one and when to employ the other.  These new friends had come so far and sacrificed so much, all for the chance of success.  I was impressed.  More than that, I was in awe of their electric energy and kind demeanor.  I took a piece of it away with me as I headed back to my new home just down the road.

I realize that it is rare to experience major geographical moves in our lives, but there are different kinds of "change" that we experience on a regular basis.  It could be a change in careers or a change in relationships or a full life change that comes with being a new mother with a tiny human being completely dependent upon your affection and attention.  Whatever the change is that meets your path in life, I encourage you to remain patient and diligent.  Be patient with not understanding all that it is you desire to know -- it will reveal itself in time.  Be diligent in pursuing goodness and embracing the moment.  It will all work out and the patience and diligence will pay off -- after all, hasn't it always in the past?  It's easy to look ahead and feel overwhelmed, but it's important to look back and remember that this isn't the first time change has altered things and it won't be the last.  You got this -- I promise!  And chances are, you're going to be great.

Now I just need to remind myself of such a speech and dwell in this new community that I call home... Patience.  Diligence.  Patience.  Diligence.  #newmantra

Monday, August 20, 2012


Throughout the first half of summer my sister and I would get together on a regular basis with intentions of casually spending time together, but each meeting we would end up indulging in our very own pity party.  We were both feeling restless and dissatisfied with our lives in Orange County.  It is a beautiful place to live and raise a family, don't get me wrong, but it is far too quiet for a couple of young professional women looking to make their mark on this world. 

I vividly remember the night we hit our breaking point.  We were sitting on the outside patio of my favorite local bar when a group of women in their mid to late fifties walked in making a real fashion statement in their sequin skits, low cut tops, and mid-drift bearing blouses. It was clearly girls night out and they were ready for a good time. Unfortunately, I was horrified to realize that we were the only ones at this bar under the age of 40...and wearing outfits more likely to be seen in a Banana Republic ad than Wet Seal. I turned to my sister and said "I need to get out of this town. I don't fit in. And it's making me incredibly unhappy." With as knowing look in her eye she simply said, "Me too."

We each decided, in the immediate week following our wine date, to take action.  She is now in the process of shopping for Ikea furniture to fill her new apartment located in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. and I have been setting up my new beach cottage in Los Angeles.  We had a phone date this past weekend and the energy was electric.  She is thrilled about her new job, new city, and the new friendships that are already blossoming around her.  She is in her element and I couldn't be more proud of my little sister for taking big chances in buying a one-way ticket to the East Coast.

As for me, I decided to move closer to LA and have been getting a feel for this new town for the last week and a half.  I am already feeling the energy, excitement, and fresh oxygen filling my body.  Thanks to the inspiring acts on display in the London Olympics, I have become motivated to take on new challenges and am now the proud owner of a new surf board and wetsuit.  Luckily, my new housemate happens to be a local 'surfer dude' and is graciously taking the time to teach me the ways of the water. 

We were up late the other night joking around, his friends playing renditions of Jack Johnson songs on the guitar, and I declared that it was time to call it a night in order  to rise early and get out into the water and start 'Training'.  Training for what?  Well, shouldn't we be prepared to try for the Olympics in Rio in case they add surfing as a sport?  We only have four years so it's best we commit early.  The housemates loved it and the next morning there was a call for Team Rio to hit the waves!

I would have never, in my life, imagined a month ago that this past weekend would be spent with strangers, whom have become new friends, gathering around the guitar during the late night hours and then taking in the astonishing beauty of the ocean waves at 7 AM.  A month ago, all I could simply say is that I was feeling unsettled and in need of some change.

The most recent parting of ways with a significant other was ultimately the catalyst for such a move.  He was unapologetically pursuing his hopes and dreams and I realized the tough truth that I was the only person in my life holding me back from doing the same.  I love when life turns out to present dark moments simply to prepare you for the bright light ahead.  We can't always know the context of life, but we do have some influence and control of our own destiny through the power of choice. 

I present to you the following challenges based on my own recent life lessons:  (1) Choose to take chances when it comes to change.  (2) Dare to put your own best interests first.  (3) Trust that the darkness will be followed by the light.

A friend once coined my constant recitation of inspirational quotes as 'Brit-Spiration'...So here is a little bit of 'Brit-Spiration' as you go into the week ahead:

"You Must Be the Change You Wish to See in the World."  -- Mahatma Ghandi