15 Minutes of Sanctuary

There’s an idea that has been germinating within me for several weeks and as a result of it, I’ve decided to create something NEW and TOTALLY FREE! 

It had it’s roots in the Transformational Speaking immersion that I attended wherein Gail took us through a series of questions that helped us arrive at our Original Medicine, which is that thing that completely sets me apart from everyone else on the planet. That thing that I have that is nowhere else duplicated.

This offering has to do with mine. I woke up at midnight tonight with coyotes screaming outside my bedroom window and I knew I had to get up and DO SOMETHING about it. So here it is.

I’m offering you 15 Minutes of Sanctuary. 15 free minutes of me listening to whatever it is that you need to say without judgment, without words. I’ve been doing this informally my whole life for people, and I thought I would formalize it a little bit.

No coaching, no advice, no direction.

I’m going to hold space, hold love, and listen to you. I’m going to REALLY listen to you.

  • Do you have something that you’ve never told another soul and you need to unburden yourself, but no one feels safe to tell it to?
  • Do you have an idea that you’re bursting to share with someone but you’re afraid someone will steal it if you do?
  • Something about you that you’re ashamed of?
  • An idea you have that you want to bring into the world and you need someone to bear witness to it?
  • You want to tell someone who you really are.
  • Something you don’t want anyone else to know?

Whatever it is, I’m here and I’ll hold that space for you.

Because that’s my Original Medicine.

Click HERE to sign up for your FREE 15 Minutes of Sanctuary!

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Love is a Boomerang, A Tragedy in Two Parts

On Wednesday morning I was outside with my sweet dog, Penelope the Great, and my phone. Penely, as I like to call her, was busy chasing lizards around our yard and taking care of her very ladylike business on our hot and fake grass. I had taken my mug of coffee outside and settled in with my phone for a nice long sit. The weather was mild, Penely was happy and all was right with the world.

I sent a text to a friend letting her know that I love her and was thinking about her. Then I sent another one to another friend along the same vein. Then another. And I was having so much fun with that I sent another. With each text of love I sent I could feel myself getting happier and happier. And I’m already a pretty darn happy camper. I thought, “I’m going to text ALL of my friends and let them know I’m thinking about them and I love them!”

I ended up in two wonderful chat conversations with beloved friends and was just super happy.

So, there I was texting away and feeling my serotonin levels rising like a hot air balloon on a sunny day, when IT happened. I sent a text to my friend René wishing him a beautiful day and this was the reply I got, “Listen, I have terrible news. Will text shortly.”

And I knew.

I knew without a shadow of a doubt what the news was.

I don’t know how or why I knew – for heaven’s sake it could have been ANYTHING.

But, I knew.

I said out loud to no one and to the whole world, “Joey’s dead.”

And moments later I was part of a group text in which René told us that our beloved childhood friend Joe, had in fact, taken his life the night before.

I was plunged from my high, high, happy mood into such sadness, it’s unspeakable.

Me and Joey at our Confirmation in 7th Grade

Me and Joey at our Confirmation in 7th Grade

“Why, why, why?” kept running like a chant through my head. He has so much to live for. A gorgeous wife, two beautiful children, a daughter-in-law, sisters, parents and friends! Why?


It’s not for me to know. It’s none of my business, quite frankly.

As I sat on my couch in the living room the most amazing thing happened; one of the four of us on the group text message, made a group message on Facebook and started adding in all of our childhood friends. There are over 40 of us in that chat. We talked about how sad and how tragic for his family and we started sharing photos of him and fond memories. And we picked up the phone and called each other. And we wanted each other to know that we were there for us, that we were committed to loving each other. I personally re-committed “I’ve got your back” to friends that I don’t speak to often, but love beyond any measure on this earth. And for the last two days we have been active on that chat, making plans for a memorial brick and trying to find the best way to get funds to the family if they want them.

It’s been an outpouring of love the likes of which I have never been a part. We loved Joe. And we love each other. And we mean it.

I spent the day sad and sobbing. I also talked with a friend with whom I laughed for almost two hours, because boy did I need that.

And then another amazing thing happened. As I was getting ready to go to bed early – spent – my phone started dinging. And wouldn’t you know it, I was getting love messages back from those people that I had texted in the morning. Most of them probably didn’t even know what HELL my day had been, but here I was being DELUGED with LOVE from all over. It was the best and most amazing thing that I’ve ever experienced.

So, here is what I know about love. Love is a boomerang. And the more you send away, the more comes back. Just exactly when you didn’t even know you most needed it.


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The Grace of Retreating

Today’s Grace post is going to be a slight departure from the types of posts that I’ve been doing.  Instead of focusing on a way that I’ve found Grace in situations in my life, today I’m going to focus on one way in which I have offered myself Grace in my everyday life. Because that’s a big part of what Grace is all about. Like I said in a previous post, Grace is a tender mercy, or more simply, a blessing, and it’s something that we can not only find in the events in our lives, but that we can offer to ourselves and others each and every day.

Over the last few years I’ve really made a point to make time for myself. I’ve set about deepening myself spiritually. I’ve done a lot of reading and watched a lot of documentaries and listened to many preachers. My life coach training was a part of that path of time for myself. It was self-improvement and learning how to be an awesome coach all rolled into one. I’ve done a lot of digging in to my past and have really discovered who I am and what I’m meant to be doing in the world. This past year specifically, in the work that I’ve done with horses (I’ll be writing more about that later if you have no clue to what I’m referring), I’ve profoundly reconnected with parts of myself that I had left behind for one reason or another (Talk about a blessing – it’s like meeting an old friend that you had forgotten you loved and missed so much.). Another thing that I’ve done for myself is to attend retreats. This is something that I hadn’t done since I was a kid – and then they were associated with school and the Catholic Church.

The very first retreat I ever went on I was 13-years-old. It was a one-day event and a thing happened there that changed my life (for the better). I honestly don’t remember most of what we did, but there is something about getting away and connecting with others outside of the norm that is deeply powerful. This thing that happened meant more to me than anything that had happened so far in my life. It was so big I still remember it. {I’m not telling, sorry – some retreat secrets must remain thus.}

The next retreat I went on was my senior year of high school. It was a several day affair put on by the Campus Ministry Department and was a much bigger deal and was MUCH more life changing on a lot of different levels. It was one of the first times in my life I remember really opening up and being vulnerable with my peers. Really being seen. It also opened my eyes to really see different people, outside of my usual groups of people, and hear their stories and hold a compassionate space for them. Again, it was amazing and life-changing.

When I was 19, I went on a backpacking retreat in the high sierras of California (I’m third from the left in that photo above). Seven days of backpacking with a priest and eight other individuals besides myself. We hiked and climbed and camped and sang and prayed and cooked our own meals out of food we trekked in. We even spent one night completely on our own. It was hard work and scary and awesome. I learned a lot about myself on that retreat. One of the things I learned is that I can hold poop for a REALLY long time.

As an adult I really craved that experience of retreating that I had in my youth. I wanted to get away and do something for myself that didn’t feel like “girls weekend away,” but that felt deeper and more meaningful to me. Something that would enrich my life and bring me back to my marriage as a better version of myself.

What I found was Brave Girls Camp led by sisters Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins, the founders of Brave Girls Club.  Camp was amazing and life-changing. {Are you noticing a theme here???} I went in May of 2012 and it was actually what sparked the teeny tiny little fire that led me to coaching. But that is a story for another day.

Since then I’ve been on THREE other retreats!!!

Here are some of the reasons why I think that going on retreats is such a blessing – why I consider them offering yourself Grace:

  • Connection. You meet people. A lot of retreats will say in their blurb that you’ll connect with “like-minded” women and they don’t necessarily tell you what that means. Well, here is what it means from my experience with retreats; people that are willing to go deep and learn about themselves, people that are willing to take time out of their lives to offer themselves Grace and that KNOW they are worth it, people that know they have to put their own oxygen mask on before they can help anyone else with theirs, people that are ready to shake things up and make some changes. Those are the like-minded that will be on retreats. And you’ll connect with them there and hopefully remain in contact afterwards. I sure have.
  • Rest. Someone will cook for you. Someone will tell you where to go and what to do, even if it’s “go take a nap now if you want.” We don’t get a lot of that in our everyday lives. We don’t get to disconnect enough to not be worried about the bills or the children/pets or putting gas in the car. On retreat you get to rest. No TV, no internet. Just rest. You get to only be concerned about yourself. Nice, right?
  • Play. Lots of retreats offer crafting or art of some kind. This kind of thing really gets you out of your head and is also lovely for creating connection with the other retreatants. You can take lovely walks or hula hoop or dance or splash around in a pool, whatever feels like play to you.
  • Change. Lots of personal revelation happens at these retreats and it can really be the kickstart for life changes. Plus getting out of your life for a while and coming back to it as a refreshed, fully oxygenated version of yourself is its own kind of change and a very good thing.
  • New People. You’ll meet people from all different backgrounds and places in the world and they’ll think and believe different things from you and that’s fantastic. I absolutely LOVE to meet people that broaden my perspective of the world.
  • Circling. One of my favorite parts of retreating from the age of 13 on has to be the circling aspect of them. There is something very powerful that happens when women hold space for one another. Magic happens. Being a compassionate witness for another human being is a beautiful thing. It’s offering others Grace for sure, which is such a blessing to ourselves. See how that works?

I wouldn’t trade the experiences that I have had at retreats over the past couple of years for anything in the world. I’ve been blessed with new and deep friendships and I’ve been witness to magic. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried bucketfuls of tears. I’ve sung and I’ve listened. I’ve eaten well and really, really bad (in the best way). I’ve been at the ocean and in the forest and across the Pond. And in all of this I’ve offered myself Grace in the sweetest of ways.

This is the seventh of 31 {or more} posts that I am writing on the topic of Grace. Please leave a comment any time about what Grace means to you or if you have any questions for me about Grace.

I am pleased to announce that I have only ONE spot left at my retreat being held in March of 2015. Click here and indicate your interest!

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I Was Asked To Leave {On Getting Kicked Out – The First Time}

My brother and I were talking one day and during the course of the conversation I said, “…when I got kicked out of the house, blah, blah, blah…” He was really upset with my phrasing. He said that was a harsh way of putting it. I wasn’t really sure what to say to that except that it felt an awful lot like being kicked out. And that’s really all that matters — how it felt to me.

I was 19 and it was the summer before my second year at UCLA. I was getting ready to house sit for some friends at church and on this particular Saturday afternoon I was rushing to get to church early because I was part of the evening mass choir and I was running late. I asked my mom to iron a blouse for me and I darted into the shower. When I came out she hadn’t ironed the blouse and some powerful words were exchanged. I say powerful because in the 19 years previous, nothing like it had ever been used between us.

I called her a “bitch” and she slapped me.

I finished getting ready for church and left the house. When I got home that night my dad said, “You’re getting ready to go house sit for the Roehls and I suggest you use that time away to find yourself a new place to live.”

Okey dokey then. As previously alluded to, up until that point in time my parents had never had a lick of trouble with me. Because of my childhood I was terrified of drinking because I didn’t want to be out of control in the way I had seen my dad be. I didn’t stay out past curfew. I didn’t hang out with the “wrong” crowd. Didn’t date at all. I was the designated driver when my friends wanted to go to parties. I was going to school and had been on the rowing team. I was trying hard. I was a good, good girl.

So hearing my dad tell me that because once I had gotten upset and called my mom a bad word, I was being asked to leave the premises was really hard to take. I was devastated. I’m actually crying now just thinking about it. I felt so betrayed. Like I was trying to live up to my part of the bargain and they didn’t. I had one year of college under my belt and it was not feasible to work and go to school at the same time, so college was finished for me. I was heartbroken on so many levels.

But, I did what I was told and found myself a place to live.  There were two young men in the Young Adult Group at church, Air Force Academy graduates, who were looking for a roommate in their house a couple of blocks from the beach in Hermosa Beach. Ideal. I felt safe being with them and I was closer to the beach than I’d ever lived.

I had gotten a job as a file clerk in a law office as a temporary, part-time thing over the summer and had to go and ask Marsha, the supervisor, if it could be a permanent job. They agreed to keep me on full-time past the summer and so everything was set. One of my friends, Todd, had a truck and he moved me into my new digs.

The guys were excited because they thought having a female around meant that I would do the chores. They were swiftly disabused of that notion. I loved that they were older and worldly and cooked and kept a clean home. I learned a lot from them and will forever be grateful to them that they took me in when I really needed a home. I know that they were disappointed in me, I didn’t cook much, clean much, or even keep my own room picked up, but they were absolutely terrific to me in spite of that.

I learned a lot about money management during that time. It was my first time having a job because my parents always wanted me to focus on getting good grades and wouldn’t let me work while I was in school. So previous to this experience I would ask my dad for money and he would give it to me. Or not. But I had never worked for money and never had to budget it. I now had to get a checking account and establish credit and pay bills. There was no asking anyone for anything.

I’m so grateful that I had that year-long experience living with Mike and Jeff a few blocks from the beach. It taught me so many things that helped me to be able to survive all of what followed in my life up to this point.

It taught me that I could support myself. That I didn’t need anyone. That I could stand on my own two feet without anyone taking care of me. That was huge. And what a gift. What a blessing. What Grace to know that I could be totally self-sufficient if I needed to be. I really and truly didn’t NEED anyone.

I’m not sure that I can underscore that notion enough. I think after having the childhood that I did, being so afraid all the time – of everything – that having the knowledge that I could really and truly do it on my own without having to rely on anyone else made me feel very, very safe.

From then on, anytime I dated anyone I knew that it was truly a choice. I could live with them or not. I could stay or leave. I did not NEED anyone but myself. I could always make it work on my own. I could always take care of myself. What freedom there is in that!!! Even if I wasn’t always making good choices, I knew deep down that the choice was there. That I was strong enough to be able to make it on my own.

So in that one situation – my dad “asking me to leave” home at 19 – that one situation that forever changed the course of my life, for better or for worse, I find Grace in the fact that I learned self-reliance and self-ability.

That I knew that I was enough all on my own.

Grace, indeed.

This is the sixth of 31 {or more} posts that I am writing on the topic of Grace. I’m writing about what Grace means to me and the ways in which I’ve found it in my life. Please leave a comment any time about what Grace means to you or if you have any questions for me about Grace.

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Rant of Appreciation

Today my Grace post comes in the form of a Rant of Appreciation. Yesterday included a harrowing drive to the coast of England from Somorset. I was driving, which I’ve done before on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road. I usually enjoy it. It’s like a puzzle. And a challenge. Can I remember which side of the street to drive on and which side to execute a turn onto? But yesterday we were driving on the tiniest of winding, cliff roads (driveways??) going up, down and around with insane people hurtling themselves toward us as though they were attempting suicide. When we finally reached the hotel I sobbed. All of my pent up fear and anger came bubbling up and I let it out. I vowed then and there that I wouldn’t leave the hotel until Tuesday, sacred sites be damned. When I informed Wayne of this he said, “Okay.” No judgement. No grief. No whining. Just, “Okay.” He’s amazing. After calming down a bit, I told him I’d be willing to go to Tintagel, if HE drives and I can keep my eyes closed.

I’m writing this now on my phone while we are driving on the teeny tiniest of roads (even for one car!!!), as we navigate having to share it with people. At least they have the broadest grins on their faces. That helps. It’s all fun and games. Wayne is thrilled and I’m trying not to look.

So back to the Rant. Yesterday I felt awful and my body needed to cry and I let it. I expressed it. Today I have a bit of a “woe is me” hangover that I want to shake off. Hence, the appreciation. I’m looking for the Grace. So here goes:

I love my husband.
I love heated towel racks.
I love the ocean and craggy cliffs.
I love good food.
I love that we are on this amazing vacation.
I love England with all its sacred wonder.
I love gulls.
I love British children with their sweet little accents.
I love tea and biscuits.
I love warm clothes.
I love the sun.
I love cars with heated seats and navigation.
I love my daughter.
I love the internets that allow me to keep in touch with her while I’m a continent away.
I love my mom who is watching over the dog I love so much.
I love pink houses.
I love civilized cocktail hour.
I love the rain.
I love my friends.
I love getting to do work I love.
I love taking pictures.
I love fall and beautiful, colored leaves that do just that.
I love A roads.
I love comfortable shoes.
I love when people love that you’re from America and want to tell you all the places they’ve been in the States.
I love wild horses.
I love bleating sheep.
I love the countryside.
I love street signs that look like flaccid penises and make me giggle.
I love red telephone boxes.
I love that my husband can make me laugh so hard at just the right time.

Deep breath in. Let it out.

And, good.

This is the fifth of 31 {or more} posts that I am writing on the topic of Grace. I’ll be writing about what Grace means to me and the ways in which I’ve found it in my life. Please leave a comment any time about what Grace means to you or if you have any questions for me about Grace.

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