One Word That Changed Things For Me And It's Not What You Think

We spent a beautiful Thanksgiving at the beach and at the beginning of the trip I asked for amessage of guidance. The next morning I woke up with the memory of one word: 


I was fascinated - why did this one word feel so good? 

What if I went through the rest of the vacation allowing myself to feel satisfied in each moment? I had so much goodness around me - could I be satisfied? All weekend I kept repeating the word in my head. Satisfied. Satisfied. Satisfied. It felt so "just right" - not wanting or seeking, not overloaded with too much. Satisfied.   

We are surrounded by so many messages, especially at this time of year, encouraging us that there's something more we need. Under no circumstances should we feel satisfied, ever. There's always more possibility, more potential, something bigger and better up ahead. 

Our brains are actively scanning for the next thing. On our phones, on our computers, as we're driving or shopping. No sense of closure. No spot to mentally rest. So many demands on our attention and so many possible solutions to our dissatisfaction. 

Have you noticed this too?   

I've been continuing to play with the word "satisfied" now that I'm back home, and seeing how I can apply it to my actions, my state of being, my experiences.   

What I'm describing sounds similar to a gratitude practice, but for me right now the word "satisfied" feels even more powerful than "grateful". We can be grateful about the absence of bad things. Satisfied implies that all is well.  

It doesn't imply that there is no change coming - we can be satisfied with our approach to a problem, or satisfied with our desire for a change. It's different than contentment as well - we can be satisfied with our discontent, without needing to jump right away. Satisfied feels like a place to breathe. 

I do have plans, things to be done, the tree is up but un-decorated, and there is much going on in my life as I'm sure there is in yours. I'm still making space, physically and mentally, for what I'd like to create in 2016.   

But in the midst of the planning and the doing, wow - what a lovely thing to be satisfied with myself and where I am in the process of my life. To be satisfied with my efforts, with my approach - with what I get done and don't get done each day. To wake up satisfied, to go to sleep satisfied, to be satisfied with the arc of my experience- that just feels like peace. 

If this feels intriguing to you, I encourage you to try it. Spend the rest of today and tomorrow feeling satisfied. See how that shifts your energy.  

Following the Trees After the Storm

A month after the storm, my husband and I drove back to our home. The house was still standing, but our trees were devastated. The trees we had planted with our own hands were now toppled over our fences. The tops of our neighbors’ tall sycamores had broken off like snapped toothpicks. Hundreds of oaks fell in the winds. Thousands of magnolias drowned in the floods.

Our trees couldn’t evacuate. They couldn’t relocate. If they made it through the storm, and they had fight left in them, then they came back. They sprouted new leaves and new branches. They found new directions to grow.

On the other hand, I had options. I could have moved, started over somewhere else, but my husband and I came back. We had jobs to return to and a home that required only a roof replacement, electrical work and a new fridge. We didn’t have a house full of soggy furniture with walls and belongings covered in mold. 

I tried to live bravely as one of the lucky ones. I did the work of four teachers, going from teaching just eighth grade to teaching fifth through eighth. I went to the store even when I couldn’t stop crying because it was closing at six and I needed supplies for the next day at school. I volunteered, gutting houses, replanting wetlands, dragging my friends’ soaked possessions to the curb. I planted new trees.

I met a woman named Monique Pilie. She had lived my childhood dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail, and now she was leading an organization called Hike for Katreena to replant the trees lost in the storm.

One day, I walked through the New Orleans meditation labyrinth, and found this quote:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

Then I began to weep.

What was I doing? I had seen lives swept away in a moment – what did I need to stop waiting to do? Why hadn’t I hiked the Appalachian Trail? Why was I still dreaming but not doing?

I quit my job. I went on a six-month journey hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, finally living a treasured dream. I returned full of courage to start my own business. I studied to become a life coach. I built a practice I am continuing to grow today. I took chances I’d never considered taking before.

This week I took a photo of my neighbors’ sycamores and laid it on top of my scrapbook. The broken trunks can no longer be seen. I’ve watched the trees grow for the last ten years, and I am truly amazed at how far we have come. I can’t wait to find out where we are in twenty.

Being thankful in all seasons


'Tis the season for gratitude.  The one day a year is coming, in the US, that's actually named for being thankful. And good gracious, I am. November's not just Thanksgiving time, it's also my birthday month.  And through the magic of Facebook, I was blessed with so many loving greetings on my birthday, from friends who go back to first grade to wonderful people I've met in the past year.  All people I know and love dearly.  And for that, I'm so grateful.  I'm grateful for the wonders of technology that allow us to connect to each other in all kinds of meaningful ways.  I'm one of those people who loves to see pictures of your dog, your cats, your kids, your breakfast.  I love seeing glimpses into the everyday lives of lovely humans around the world.  And it's a clue about how to practice gratitude. It's about appreciating the little things, every day. Here are some easy tips to help you be thankful in all seasons: Practice daily gratitude:  This is like eating fruits and veggies or doing yoga - it's not the same just thinking about it - you have to actually do it to gain the benefits. Try keeping a daily gratitude list that you write in the morning or the evening.  Come up with ten things to be grateful each day, and try for originality.  It's really valuable to write down your grateful items because then you can look back over them when you need a little boost. Don't forget to be grateful for yourself.  This may seem counter-intuitive, but it's really valuable to remind yourself of things about you that you're grateful for.  When you are loving and grateful to yourself, not in a creepy narcissistic way, but in an honest, caring way, it makes it so much easier for you to be loving and grateful toward others. So be grateful for how you handled a tough situation, or your sunny sense of humor, or your ability to fry a perfect egg.  There's so much about you that's awesome!

Practice gratitude at meals.

You don't have to wait for Thanksgiving to share around the table what you're grateful for- you can make it a regular practice. We live in a culture that makes complaining the norm, and it's fun to turn that around and share all the wonderful things that you've noticed during your day.  Which brings me to my absolute favorite gratitude practice...

Play the Everything's a Miracle game:

All the time, while you're living your life, keep that phrase in mind - "Everything's a miracle."  You'll start to see the world differently.  Sunshine, rain - all miracles. Birds, flowers, babies smiling, delicious food, something that surprises you - it's all a miracle.  Even when things go wrong, search for the miraculous part - if we're still alive, it's pretty miraculous!  Try it and you will surely feel grateful!

Write love letters:

Write love letters to people in your life who you are grateful for. They can be people you see every day or people you haven't seen in forever.  Share with them what makes them special.  Tell them how they've made a difference for you. Write one a day for a month.  Don't overthink - even a short note is so special!

Have fun with random positive acts:  

It's fun to share something happy and anonymous! Leave random positive notes in places where strangers might find them.  Or pay it forward by taking care of the next person's drink order in the drive through coffee line. You never know how making someone else's day might set off some kind of wonderfully positive chain reaction! Again, thinking about this isn't the same as doing it.  We've all heard of random acts of kindness - but actually doing them feels amazing!


ABC Gratitude list:

Here's one that my friends at our Thanksgiving celebration always do - they set up a couple of poster boards with the letters A-Z and then blank space next to each letter and everyone contributes to the list of things they're grateful for.  By the end of the weekend, the list is full of people, places, experiences, foods, memories and more.  All alphabetized!  And it's something everyone can share!

morning glory
morning glory


I love


.  I love noticing the clouds, the flowers, the waves at the beach, my cat, sunsets, pretty drinks, and I love taking photos of them.  When I use Instagram I see the world through a lens of beauty.  Try taking a daily gratitude photo or two with your smartphone.  It's another way to acknowledge and record your beautiful life!

Here's the truth: adding more gratitude to your life is  easy, it's completely free and it makes you feel better

- and when you feel better that radiates out from you and affects others, so it helps the whole world! And that is something to be grateful for!

White horses and the power of intention

I just returned from a sublime week in California, wrapping up my Master Coach training with Martha Beck herself.  It was beyond special.  I've had difficulty figuring out how to describe the experience with words. There was a convergence of beauty and energy of place, people, horses and nature.  There was a collective intention to learn, love and share.  I am beyond honored to be called a Master Coach, and of course I'm still learning and always will be. While I was working on my application for the Master Coach program back in March, I created a super-quick vision board one morning.  It looked like this:

horse vision
horse vision

My favorite part of it was this woman draped in filmy orange fabric, a beautiful white horse behind her, its eyes peacefully closed.  This was my intention for the horse coaching that I knew would come at the end of our training.  At that point I just wanted to survive the horse coaching.  I didn't know too much about it except that you couldn't hide anything from a horse.  I had a crazy idea that the horses would gaze deep into my soul, find me wanting, and ignore me or run away.  So this image , which I gazed at for many months leading up to my horse experience, well, it was there to comfort me.  Maybe I would be like gauzy-dress-woman and a white horse would follow me.  Peaceful.  (I ignored the reality that the horse was probably blinking from the wind machine that had the model's hair going all crazy like that.)

So, the months went on.  I completed myriad assignments. I received helpful feedback.  I cried some.  I hid some.  I stepped out some.  I tried all kinds of crazy ideas.  I took some risks.  I did my best to be present and to show up.  And finally, the time came to show up in person at Martha's ranch.

I arrived just a little bit early with Erin, a fellow Master-Coach-to-be who was familiar with the ranch and the horses, as she's an expert Equus coach. (Thank you, Universe, for making those arrangements!)  We had time to go see the beautiful labyrinth, which meant walking through a fenced area with horses.  Two white horses!


So there I was.  Me and a white horse.  No boundaries between us.  Plenty of room for it to ignore me and stay far away, disappointed with my lack-luster soul.

Ah, but that's not what happened.  No.  This horse came right up to me.  Snuffled my face with his sweet velvety nose.  Exhaled his grassy breath onto my cheek.  (How had I never had that incredible experience before?)  We took a selfie together.  Erin said it appeared that he was very agreeably posing with me.


Wow.  We hadn't even gotten to the horse coaching day and my vision had come true, minus orange see-through dress and wind machine.

Now I see white horses everywhere.  I saw this beautiful one yesterday.


I bet he dresses up like a unicorn for Halloween!

I saw a spotted white and tan horse today, but didn't take a picture.  I'm seeing them everywhere, in catalogs, in paintings. Nearly every day, a white horse.  For now, they're talismans of what's possible, just like it said in the appropriately orange words I glued across gauzy-girl's waist.  "Think what's possible." So much is possible.  Me.  A master coach.  Hanging out for a weekend with Martha, Koelle, Jennifer, Bridgette.  And my wonderful Master Coach cohort. Learning.  Teaching.  Sharing.  Being.


So much is possible.

Vision boards help  me with my intentions.  They provide images for me to connect with, perhaps even on a subconscious level.  And they are so much fun! If you're in the New Orleans area and love vision boards and wigs and dancing, it's still not too late to sign up for WIGS and WIGS this Thursday, November 14.  Who knows what you might put on your board that may come true in the best way? Intention is a powerful tool.

And if you see a white horse, please say hello for me!

Lessons from the Dalai Lama


You know, I put him on my vision board last summer - and then he came to New Orleans this spring and I got to go see him!  That makes me two for two with vision board celebs - Madonna and His Holiness.

In honor of the visit from the Dalai Lama, the city draped itself in Tibetan prayer flags.  They are hanging, large and small, in long rows and tucked in tiny corners everywhere - over shops, homes, along power lines.  They are beautiful and hopeful and I love that people are keeping them up well after his visit.  We have them hung over our porch and I'm in no hurry to take them down.  I think in Tibet they stay up until they disintegrate.


Here's the good stuff I gathered from his talk:

The way to control violence is to control hatred and increase forgiveness and tolerance.

Our individual futures depend on community. We must think as a community-- as a global community.

A calm mind is very important.

When you have affection and compassion, you're happy, regardless of social standing.

Our problems do not stem from lack of education or lack of money, but from lack of inner peace.

Solving the world's problems requires intelligence, willpower and inner peace.

These are simple yet serious ideas.  Interestingly, the Dalai Lama is not a formal, serious man.  He is so down to earth, laughing easily, telling funny stories, encouraging everyone to be happy and be themselves - he is a lovely man.

He came to New Orleans with a group of monks.  There was a big conference and the monks created a very elaborate and very temporary sand mandala.  I never got a great look at the mandala-- my timing was bad-- but I did make it to the ceremony at the Mississippi River where the monks poured some of the sand into the river.  They also handed out tiny bags of the sand - for "healing and enlightenment".


I haven't done anything with the sand yet.  I haven't done anything with a lot of things.  My head swims daily with the long list of undone tasks (like blogging (!), sending newsletters, updating calendars, keeping up with social media, addressing details around a brand new website, announcing cool offerings that I'm cooking up...)  Seems I'm short at times on willpower and that's cutting into my inner peace.

However, in the past weeks, I have prioritized time to grieve.  I've kept all my appointments and attended/hosted all the events that were already scheduled.  I went off for a delicious week of hiking in the woods on the Appalachian Trail (more about that later.) I am meditating every day, 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. I have a daily writing practice.  Plenty of other stuff happens too - just like it probably does in your life.

Some day I'll get straight between what I actually do and what I perceive is possible to do in a day. And then I'll have that elusive inner peace.  I'm learning to let myself feel it anyway, even when I haven't accomplished everything I've imagined I would.  The city is so green and there are flowers blooming everywhere.  I stop to admire them on walks to the bank and the library.  I breathe.  The world is too beautiful not to be grateful, completed calendar or not.


And I have a feeling the Dalai Lama isn't worried about my to do list.  He's probably much more interested in the development of my compassion, starting with compassion toward myself. I teach this to my clients and I re-learn it nearly daily.

How about you?  Is there room for you to offer some more compassion for yourself, some forgiveness, some time to calm your mind? To take a couple of breaths, go outside, admire the flowers - marvel at being alive? Whether or not you've accomplished whatever's on that to-do list?

Maybe I could make a zillion dollars creating little pads of to-do lists with the first ones at the top of each page actually saying things like, "Embrace gratitude."  "Smell the flowers."  "Smile."  "Marvel at being alive."  With express directions to do and check them off first.  (Now I can add "design, make and market pads" to my to do list, ha!) I do make myself smile! Are you smiling too?  Then we can both check that off! I bet wherever the Dalai Lama is today, he is also smiling and encouraging others to smile. And perhaps we are all one step closer to inner peace.