Monday, November 19, 2012

5 Reasons To Tell Your Friends To Fuck Off

  1. They tell you to lower your standards for the person you want to have in your life. If I'm going to have high standards for anything, it will be about the person I invite unconditionally into my life...that person that holds that sacred space in my heart and head. People that don't meet my standards need not apply. It's the reason I have standards. 
  2. They are consistently absent when you need support, the ones that never make an effort or make it so infrequently that you have to check in on them periodically to make sure they are still alive. I believe in needs to all wash out in the end. Leeches, fuck off. I've given myself to you over and over again. 
  3. They are too afraid to speak their mind. We are on this planet to be of some kind of service to each other. Speak up. I'm tired of trying to figure out how you really feel and whether you're telling me the whole truth. 
  4. They give you that "Oh, that's nice dear but" speech when you talk about your dreams. Fuck that. Friends are the people that muddle around in the scary places with you and float on the fluffiest clouds with you and everything in between.  
  5. They point out when you're a pain in the ass....not really.....but I thought this post will make people say I'm a pain in the ass.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

4 Reasons Why Your Kids Need To Go To the Grocery Store With You

When I was young, I can remember groaning when my mom made me go to the grocery store with her. Now, I find myself making similar demands of my kids. They always ask why they have to go and I've never really fully articulated why so I've been thinking about why I feel so strongly about them tagging alone for life's mundane events.

  1. Everyday interactions are full of teachable moments. Part of being a parent is passing on "tribal knowledge." Going to the grocery store equates to teaching them how to shop for food; i.e. how to judge whether a watermelon is ripe. Waiting for an appointment teaches them how to entertain themselves or how to have a conversation.
  2. I want them to know they are wanted. Beyond saying that I love them, I want to show them that I want them around me. I don't want them to get lost in the world where an iPod, an Xbox, or a TV has become the babysitter and so I endure the complaints even though leaving them at home would much easier at times. 
  3. They have responsibilities in our relationship. Relationships are about giving, taking and sharing. In any balanced relationship, they are going to have to do things they don't want to do and that is okay. Sometimes, you just need to show up. Being kids doesn't relinquish them of that responsibility.
  4. I want them to know me. I want them to see me living the values that I preach or I want them to question me when they don't think I am. I want them to see the real me. I want them to see how I interact with people, everyone from the cashier to my best friend. I want them to see me be silly. I want them to have memories to cherish and stories to tell.

Monday, October 22, 2012

"Chance favors the prepared mind."

So, are you prepared?

For the moment?

The moment in the morning that you wake to the life that you're living.
The moment someone disappoints you yet again.
The moment you walk by a homeless person.
The moment when it's easier to do nothing than to speak up.
The moment you could "settle" for your boyfriend/girlfriend.
The moment when it seems like everyone else has more stuff than you.
The moment your child asks you to explain something you've done.
The moment you are rejected.
The moment that you could decide to take the job because it's the "right" thing to do.
The moment that someone cuts you off in traffic.
The moment you need to decide if you are going to stay safe or jump outside your safety zone.
The moment your body won't do the things you want it to.
The moment your friend needs you and you feel like you have nothing left to give.
The moment you realize that sacrifice will be required.
The moment that the sun sets; gone, never to be recaptured.
The mention you have to say yes or no.
The moment that a person you love is gone.
The moment you're told that time is running out.

The moment your time has run out.

Prepare your mind.

Start with KNOWINGNESS. Ask yourself:
Who and how you want to be?
What do you want to do?
What do you want to have?

Write it down. Revisit it often.

And you'll find that, in the moment, chance won't win.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The BEST Way To Force Yourself To Do Things You've Been Avoiding

If you're anything like me, you have a number of things that keep getting re-written on the To Do List and never get done OR that you dislike so much that you even refuse to write them on the To Do List.

The best way to force yourself to do them is to find an Accountability Partner, someone that is going to care about whether you are getting stuff done, someone that won't let you off the hook.

Here's what I've done:
I'm meeting with one of my best friends every week. (This could be done over the phone too.) We've establish 5 categories from our lives.

Every week, we commit to accomplishing one thing in each of those 5 categories.

Here's the kicker: For each thing we don't accomplish, we have to pay $10 and use it for a random act of kindness.

5 Categories
Self    Kids   Chores   Work/Business   Try It

  1. Self - anything that's about an investment in yourself. This can be anything from scheduling that dentist appointment that you've been avoiding to finally ending that relationship that should have ended a long time ago.
  2. Kids - anything to nurture your kids directly or your relationship with your kids.
  3. Chores - cleaning, errands.
  4. Work/Business - career, work, business.
  5. Try It - something new you're going to try. This can be related to the other categories. It could encompass learning, doing, creating.

So each week, we come to our meeting with a recap of the status of the commitments we made the previous week and a list of the 5 new things we're going to do in the next week.

Just having to report back to someone what you've done is a motivator, but there's a bonus. This is kind of like therapy. When you start to talk about things you've been avoiding, you naturally talk about why. Having a sound board is priceless. So what started as a process to get stuff done, became more about two friends helping each other get better in the world.


Friday, September 28, 2012

What IS Blooming In Existence?

It's a way of being in the moment and in your life.

It's getting what you want out of life.

It's not letting life happen to you.

It's being able to say you're happy.

It's showing up in the world in way that you're proud of.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Story Is Always Waiting

writing it now

The Way My Brain Works

From: Walker Sculpture Garden
September 25, 2012

My phone had gone dead and I forgot my camera, so I couldn't take pictures.
I was going to leave. I had even gotten into my car and shifted it into drive.
Then I thought, "No. Stay. Take your notebook. Write. Sit in the sunlight. Be slow."
So, I did.

What if I just wrote what I thought?

Yes, I want to take pictures of my tennis shoes in the sunlight because all things look beautiful in the sunlight. No, not all. It's most. I bet death doesn't look good in the sunlight.

Hmmmm. Waiting for things to speak to me.

Look at the small kids in the distance choosing to dance around while surrounded by benches. They're rebels and they don't know it. I want to sit on those benches! Each one of them. And see how the world looks different from each one.

I live the combination of industrial and nature. The combination of them pitted against each other. I wonder if it's the same reason why I like when people force organization and patterns into nature, like rows of trees. Something about the duality. Maybe there's something about the collaboration of order and freedom. Tamed chaos. I don't know. Structure combined with freedom to create beauty?

I see a question box on a post. I wonder if it has pencils in it or if they expect people just to have a writing utensil with them. I want to put a question box in my front yard. I wonder what questions I would get. Would it be filled with foul teenage comments. Maybe I'll put my own questions in it and answer them. Would I feel more obligated to come up with answers if I had to go through that process? If I put up a question box, I should put up one of those micro-libraries on a post too. I love that idea. I wonder if anyone would use it.

There is a couple walking by me. The woman is very pregnant. They're about to be three, three of them. It's strange that they don't know what that will be like. Forever changed. Lives. Bodies. Moments. Love. Freedom. Risk.

I only see one other person. Strange for such a beautiful day and beautiful place. I'm mentally claiming the gardens as mine. It IS.....ALL MINE. Ta da. Now, there is no one here. Haha. It's me and the spoon and the cherry.

I decided to check out those benches. Ohhhh. They're engraved! There  are 28, 7 on each side of the square. I'm going to read each one of them.

#2 "It takes a while before you can step over inert bodies and go ahead with what you were trying to do."..............especially if the inert body is you! I'm sitting on this bench for a while. Is that Freudian?

#6 "There is a period when it is clear that you have gone wrong but you continue. Sometimes there is a luxurious amount of time before anything bad happens." Hmmmmm. Wonder how many people are waiting for something bad to happen. Probably should sit on this one too.

Uhhhh. Who invited you? Didn't you hear the declaration that the gardens were mine? And you're reading the benches very slowly. You're really going to slow me down!

#12 "You should limit the number of times you act against your nature like sleeping with people you hate. It's interesting to test your capabilities for a while but too much will cause damage." Ok, love the first part but that was a surprising twist. Wait, I bet there are more people sleeping with people they hate than I originally thought. Think about all those deteriorating marriages and relationships. Yep, that's not uncommon.

#28 "Some days you wake and immediately start to worry. Nothing in particular is wrong. It's just the suspicion that forces are aligning quietly and there will be trouble." Yeah, everyone needs to stop doing this right now. Make up the opposite.

I wonder why no one reads all of the benches. They come, read a few, leave. What if I laid down on a bench and then people couldn't read it. They'd have to go their whole life wondering what was on it.

That is one fat chipmunk. There's another chipmunk. Are there anymore. Wow. They're fast.

We all teach the world about us even just as we walk by them. I'm going to watch people.
  • Your shirt around your waist, flowing in the wind, taking care not to spill your Starbuck, sunglasses on your head. Relaxed, catching up with you mom.
  • Khaki pressed shorts, baby blue cardigan, determined focused walk
  • Tripod on your shoulder...............  he's stopped in front of's that story

Friday, September 21, 2012


I woke up from the anesthesia.

My husband sat in a chair against the wall at the far right end of my bed.

I'm sure my memory isn't 100% accurate but I do remember looking up at him and seeing him shake his head as if speaking some universal language that I should understand. I don't remember exactly what was said, something along the lines of, "They found something they weren't expecting to." or "It didn't go as planned." I just remember that is was all from a distance. 

What? It was just supposed to be a simple procedure. They were just removing a cyst.

The doctor came in and sat on the side of my bed.

"Michele, I'm so sorry and I was not expecting this but we think it was a malignant tumor. The pathologists can't agree, so they've sent specimens to Mayo Clinic to be tested there but we're fairly sure that it's ovarian cancer."

The doctor left.
My husband sat in a chair.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

3 Things To Do When You're Trying to Let Someone Go

  1. At the end of each day, record whether it was a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" day. Keep this somewhere so you can see the data. Sometimes, we let moments of goodness persuade us the relationship is getting better but find the same problems cropping up the next day. This can be a high level guide on whether it's really getting better.
  2. Tell yourself that you deserve to be happy. Relationships should be your refuge from the outside world; the place you know that you can go to for support and comfort. They require work but they shouldn't be a constant battleground.
  3. Tell yourself that your partner deserves to be happy. Don't kid yourself. If you are feeling the disconnection, so are they. Just like you, they deserve someone that cherishes them. Don't waste their time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What are you leaving in hearts?

"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die."

It might sound odd but I like to go to cemeteries. I feel like they represent the "boiled down" version of a person's life; the recap, the summary, the last whisper of what they were and how others see them. others see them. Notice, that phrase isn't in the past tense.

What are we, if not what is left behind in the hearts and minds of those we leave behind?

I believe that it's the ONLY thing we are.

And yet, I believe it's NONE of what we are.

Me: You shouldn't care what others think. What others think of you is none of your business. The only reality that exists is the one in your mind.
Me, again: Yes, but part of how I want to show up in life is about how I interact with others, what I am to them. When my mind no longer exists, theirs will carry who I was.

                      Which camp are you in? 
                                                               To care or not to care?

Monday, September 17, 2012

5 Ways to Attack Your Funk That Will Have Immediate Impact

Recently, I've been feeling my world get smaller. Doing less. Interacting less. Exploring less.

This morning, I woke up and noticed the dark shade hanging in my bedroom window to keep the light out and I realized that it had been doing exactly that.....and so had I.

So, I opened it.

It seemed like a simple thing but it felt simply right.

Attack your FUNK!!
  1. Let the light in. LITERALLY. Find the light.
  2. Go outside. Go for a walk. Look at the sky. Find a bumblebee. Notice the trees sway.
  3. Talk to someone else.
  4. Listen to someone else.
  5. Do SOMETHING different. Drive to work a new way. Go to a new grocery store.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Perfecting the Art of Failing Quickly In 5 Steps

  1. Skip the conversation that YOU aren't good.
  2. Realize you can't be good at everything.
  3. Decide if you want to be better next time. If yes, move to step #4. If no, let it go.
  4. Figure out what it will take to be better.
  5. Do the things it will take to be better.
Click here to watch a video by Seth Godin. He's an expert on failure.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

5 Ways To Start & End Your Days With Your Kids

It starts at home. We need to TEACH our children HOW to BLOOM. Start with saying these simple things. They encompass the foundational principles of blooming: knowingness, life ritual, and action.

  1. I love you.
  2. You will have a fantastic day.
  3. What one thing will you get done today?
  4. Help whenever you can.
  5. Remember to share your smile. It is a gift to the world.
  1. What was the best part of your day? What was the worst?
  2. What are thankful for?
  3. Did you get it  done?
  4. Are you proud of who you were today? 
  5. I love you.
It starts at home.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Braking Your Heart So That It Isn't Broken

For the past few days, I've been having an unusual thought: Be safe with your heart. Protect it. The reason I call this unusual is because my normal philosophy is to give my heart away freely. This thought has even made it beyond my brain and ended up as advice to others and I'm doubly confused on how such a life operating philosophy could be coming from my mouth. Have you ever been in a situation where you're trying to protect your heart? It's hard stuff. The heart wants what the heart wants and no amount of reasoning can usually convince it otherwise.

How do you put the brakes on your heart?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Is Your Love Broken? Change the Game You're Playing

When you find yourself spending most of your conversation trying to prove that the person you're supposedly in love with is wrong, you need to give it up.

Are you pleading your case? Offering evidence in an effort to win? Wanting to be right?

Is that the GAME you REALLY want to win? Being right?

REMEMBER, this is the person you supposedly love.
The ONE you couldn't wait to see.
The ONE whose smell was so hypnotic that you would sleep with a piece of their clothing.
The ONE you loved to make smile, whose touch you could get lost in.
The ONE you started missing even before you left.
The ONE who redefined winning because nothing was won without them feeling like they were winning too.

Why don't you take all that energy you're spending on proving that you're right and put it into the GAMES worth winning - all the things you would do if they were still the ONE:
  • Being named their #1 fan
  • Finding a way to put a smile on their face
  • Always knowing how their day is going
  • Sharing your biggest victories and your smallest irritations
  • Being the safest place for each other, your shelter, your sanctuary
And if you find yourself explaining why it's impossible to play any of these GAMES because you need to win at being right first, the likelihood is that you don't even like them anymore. THAT IS OKAY!!!! Stop holding onto the need to assign blame or be defensive. Let them go. Stop trying to fix it. There's nothing to fix. There is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with them. You just don't fit together. Like puzzle pieces, when they don't fit together, we don't blame them or think they are broken, we just move on in search of the piece that does fit.

WHAT GAME are you playing?

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Sometimes, we don't recognize the moments when we're in them;
Scattered droplets in the sky.
We step away and we see them,
Step back to get them.
But like a flash of the firefly,
I'm finally there but they're gone.
It's too late because we're different - them or me;
But the calm center is there where we were
And where we are

With LOVE all around
And THAT love is captured forever
Recorded in that moment
Even the ones we don't recognize we're in.
It is where we are all the time.

What Will Make You Face the Life You're Living?

Eight years ago, I moved from Cleveland to the Twin Cities. My husband, at that time, stayed behind for three months to close up his private psychology practice and sell our house. I brought our kids and dog to live in temporary housing while I looked for a house. Everything was new to me here. Within a month, I found myself in abdominal surgery to remove what they thought was a huge ovarian cyst only to wake up and be told it was a 7 lb malignant tumor. Ovarian cancer. The surgeon wasn’t equipped or qualified to proceed, so she just removed the tumor/ovary and sewed me back up. It would be three months until I could know how far it had spread and take any next steps. I had to wait for the adhesions to heal.

I remember the first week after the first surgery….not having any idea of what my life would be now. I had been told that most ovarian cancer isn’t diagnosed until a person is in Stage 3 (meaning it had moved outside of the ovaries, beyond the pelvis, into the abdomen). A Stage 3 diagnosis has a prognosis of a 15-20% five year survival rate. So, all the odds said that I probably had an 80% chance of dying within the next five years. I sat there with that “sentence” hanging over my head and was trying to figure out how to weave it into my brain. What should it mean? I just started a brand new job. Should I keep looking for a house? Should I move back to Ohio and try to get my old job back? Were my kids going to be motherless within 5 years?
life isn't happening TO you
There were three gynecological oncologists in the Twin Cities area and I immediately called them. I wanted information and action ASAP. To my horror, their first appointments were at least three months out. I couldn’t wait that long. I needed to know what to do with my life and I needed information to help me figure out a plan. I pressed, told my story and asked if there was ANY possibility of getting in sooner, in the next week. I ended up persuading them to fit me in. And in the next week, I listened to them give me the same advice. Wait 3 months. Get a complete hysterectomy. Do the cancer staging to see how far it has spread and create a plan based on that. 

My husband returned to Ohio. I returned to work and lived the only way I could. Until the data says otherwise, I lived life with what I knew. I would not allow my reality to change yet. I based the plan on the latest information and right then, I could only assume I no longer had cancer. I don’t remember a lot about those 3 months. Being a single parent in a new city with a new job provided me with plenty of things to keep the dark thoughts at a distance. I think I turned my brain off as much as possible. I remember walks with my kids. I remember baths in my condo reading a wonderful book called “The Anatomy of Hope”. I remember standing on the deck with the realtor and talking about what a great yard the house that we were going to buy had. Great for kids, parties. (But would I be there for them?) I remember going to the house closing and wondering whether I should be buying a house. But it was the only thing to do. Life could not stop based on maybes. I kept it at a distance, at bay. I refused to deal with it until there was something certain to deal with. But there were moments that eased their way in, usually with the help of a song, that would wake me to possible realities and the profound sadness associated with them – motherless children being the most difficult one. Lifehouse’s song “Hanging By a Moment” was my song that summer. It was a plea, a promise, an anthem all at the same time. It was my negotiation with life, with the Universe, with cancer, with myself. I just needed this one thing – to not die. Just give me this one thing and I’d make it worth it. I wouldn’t waste it.

So, three months later, as I pulled up to Abbot Northwestern, listening to Cities97, “Hanging By A Moment” began to play – the Universe with its grin – and I walked in not knowing that when I walked out, I would be one of the lucky ones. Stage 1A. The cancer was only inside one ovary – and even though it was 7 lbs, it remained completely encapsulated. No chemo, no radiation. Nothing further to do except watch. 95% survival rate.

wake up

I returned for my follow up appointments and as I glimpsed each time into the eyes of what could have been, I was reminded of my secret negotiations with the Universe. A poke in the side to recognize time was passing and it could be taken away at any time. The Universe wasn’t blinking and it wasn’t going to allow me to hide. So, I had no other choice but to allow cancer to become one of my gifts and slowly face the life I was living.

Or better yet, the life I wasn't living.

Friday, August 24, 2012

5 Short Steps to Achieve FOCUS

Are your days passing and you find that you are busy but you aren't busy doing the right things?
  1. Brainstorm for 5 minutes - "What am I trying to accomplish in my life?" WRITE the answers!
  2. Circle the 3 most important things.
  3. Review the list at the beginning of each day. 
  4. Review the list at the end of your day. Did your activities drive the 3 things?
  5. Adjust. Repeat.

    Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Rhubarb, Pogo Sticks and Pompoms

    • The smell of lilacs from the bushes in the backyard
    • The simplicity of dirt, water and what they could be
    • The afternoons spent with my Barbies on the front porch
    • The determination of making the swing go even higher
    • The belief that THIS year the rhubarb that I pulled from the ground would be sweet, not bitter
    • The stain of green on my hands and the smell of green in the air as I tended to the garden
    • The silence of the earth while lying back in a fresh blanket of snow
    • The sense of adventure, taking off for the day on my bike - new places to find my independence
    • The excitement of slumber parties - the danger of the Ouija board and the endless giggles
    • The competition of who could stay under water the longest
    • The disappointment of just how boring a pogo stick was
    • The nights of potential at the roller rink, pompoms on my skates, comb in my back pocket
    • The first and last days of school
    What do you remember?

    Saturday, August 18, 2012

    Hi. My name is Evil.

    Does evil really exist in the world?
    I need to remind myself that evil isn't going to show up with horns and a pointed tail and when I feel like something is wrong, the odds are, it's wrong. Evil is created by people. People are responsible for evil.

    Evil isn't going to announce itself. It's going to sneak up on you and plant seeds of doubt. It's going to make you ask yourself if you are crazy. It's going to going to look different to different people. It might even walk up to you and shake your hand. Don't be fooled by the smile, the impression made on others or the parts that are good. Those are just there to confuse you. When you're gut says evil is afoot, evil is afoot.

    Are there any Evils in your life that you've been trying to convince yourself aren't? You can stop now.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    An Angel Scrubbing My Floor???

    Do you ever feel like you're in the presence of an angel? I used to really NOT like the whole idea of angels. Then, over the last few years, I've had encounters with people that have left me after feeling like I was just in the presence of an angel. Yesterday, I had one of them.

    It was one of those times where you feel like so many things aligned that you couldn't possible believe that it was a coincidence: 
    • I brought a Groupon over a year ago for housecleaning. I was going to use it to get my townhouse cleaned when I moved out.
    • I didn't use it.
    • It expired.
    • I call the company and asked if they would extend it for me.
    • They graciously said, "Yes."
    • I had to book my appointment 3 months in advance and I promptly forgot about it.
    • I got a call yesterday morning to remind me that they were going to clean my house that afternoon.
    • I rushed home. A woman arrived.
    • I started to talk to her.
    Well, we talked for the ENTIRE time she was here. 
    • We talked about our daughters and how they frustrate us in the same ways.
    • We said the same, atypical words at the same time.
    • We shared the same fundamental life perspectives. It was haunting. It brought tears to my eyes.
    • She was tattooed with stars and she said one of them stood for existence because she always like that word.
    • And so much more.
    By the time she left, I only felt that I couldn't let her just walk out of my life. We weren't done. I told her that she couldn't just leave. We were meant to stay in contact. We exchanged information. We hugged.

    I smiled when I walked back into the house. An angel was just here.

    Don't let the angels walk out of your life.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Don't Be Dumb

    I finally got around to straightening my garage yesterday. It had been getting increasingly messy since I moved in 9 months ago. I was tripping over shoes trying to get to my car.

    The cleaning took much longer that I had anticipated. Well, I also had a visit from my neighbor's two year old. He had wandered over and hesitantly sat at the end of my driveway watching me clean. I finally enticed him to come closer by pulling out some bubbles, the kind with the big wands. Once I showed him what to do, he was determined to cover me with bubbles and eventually just started dipping the wand into the soap and then tapping it on my head. It was at that point that I suggested that we switch to chalks. I have a big ole box of sidewalk chalk that's actually mine because I love to chalk but he didn't seem too interested in those. I finally pulled out the liquid roll on chalks - it's just like paint. You used a roller brush to paint the surface with chalk. Eventually, it just turned into fingerpainting. We sat there and chalked until he had to go in for a nap and I returned to cleaning my garage.

    As I went back to my cleaning, I started thinking, "I don't feel grown up. I wonder if most people feel grown up."

    I really enjoy Gretchen Rubin's (author of The Happiness Project) fb page where she asks Happiness Question of her readers and she always gets enthusiastic responses. I started thinking that I would love to hear her reader responses to the question of whether they will ever be grown up.

    Then I thought, "Well, I think that I'm just going send an email to Gretchen and propose the question for her readers. It couldn't hurt to ask and would be fun if she responded. I COULD do it........I wonder if most people would give themselves permission to ask her. I wonder if they think that she wouldn't respond to an ordinary person, so they'd abandoned the idea before they even got started.................Ya know, everyone should remember to ask. Just ask for what they want. I'm going to ask her."

    I walked inside, found Gretchen's email address on one of the sites and sent her my suggestion.
    Forty minutes later, my question was posted on her fb and readers were busily responding and I was happy I asked. And once again, I was reminded that you should always ask for what you want. 

    Do you know what you want?
    Are you going to ask for it?

    Gretchen's info
    Here's Gretchen's fb page:
    She also has a website for her book:

    Sunday, August 12, 2012

    How To Stumble Upon Yourself

    I went bike riding yesterday for the first time in about six years. Besides the fact that my butt is sore, which isn't a surprise, I'm still thinking about a moment that happened. I stumbled upon myself. I was riding and I looked up and there, in my memory was the picture of me sitting alongside the football field. The memory came to me instantly and just as instantly brought tears to my eyes.

    I was sitting and waiting for my daughter to finish cheerleading clinic put on by the high school. I was reading "Happy for No Reason" by Marci Shimoff. I had gotten to page 39 of the book where Marci challenges you to do an exercise:

    The Exercise
    Get out a piece a paper. Create two columns with the headings Expansion and Contraction. Under each column, list things that expand you or contract you. Things expand you if they make you feel more lightness, openness, happier. Things contract you if the make you feel fear, pessimism, low energy.

    At that moment, I realized that my marriage would go in the Contraction column.....that choosing to stay in my marriage was choosing something that contracted me. It was choosing unhappiness. Somehow, that exercise simplified what I had complicated. It delivered "new" information to me. So, now I had to decide if it was okay for me to live an unhappy life.

    I closed the book at that point. I couldn't go on. I had to give that new, simple fact time to sink into my brain. I certainly didn't know what I was going to make of it once the processing stopped. I didn't open the book again until years later; not until a year after I had moved out and moved on. I was finally ready to process some more.

    So, when I stumbled upon me, the tears were to grieve for the person that lived in unhappiness at one time and were to celebrate and acknowledge the person that I have been since.

    What CONTRACTS/EXPANDS you? What are you going to do about it?


    Friday, August 10, 2012

    The Top 5 Ways to Piss Me Off

    I often think life would be a lot easier if we could give everyone that we interact with a handbook on us. One of my life's goals is to actually be able to know myself well enough that I could write such a handbook. 

    Last night, as I repeated, "Go to bed." for the umpteenth time to my kids, I thought, "Wow. Repeating myself sure makes me mad." Then, instead of making my kids go to bed, I asked them to join me in coming up with this list. It will be useful when I get around to writing that handbook.
    1. Make me repeat myself.
    2. Scold me or stomp on my energy.
    3. Be disrepectful (this especially applies to my children).
    4. I know this is a dumb one, but drive slow when I'm in a hurry. I'm not a huge speeder but I think it's kind of a rule that you should drive 5 miles over the speed limit.
    5. Generally be a downer: whine, complain, blame, be bored.
    What would be in your chapter?

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    The 10 Ways a Hill of Sand and Life Are the Same

    First, let me say that when my 14yo son, Ben, told me to stop the car because he HAD to get out and climb the sand hill, I had a proud parent moment.  We had just taken a turn off the main highway hoping to find a road closer to the Mississippi River. I was trying to turn a short, simple trip into a longer, something worth remembering trip. There, out in the middle of nowhere, was a huge hill of sand. Well, when you see that kind of thing, you just have to stop.

    I had just picked Ben up from his first week-long camp. He was full of stories and the promise that it was the best time he's ever had, beating every vacation we've taken. (I'm not sure how I feel about that. I guess it's good.) It was a beautiful day. Sky was bright blue and evening was approaching, so the sun was shifting lower, extending the shadows.

    We got out of the car and left the music blaring. We took the camera with us. Ben immediately set about climbing to the top of the huge hill. He had to stop a couple of times, amazed at how much harder the sand made the trip. Eventually, he made it and yelled from the top, "Mom, you should see it up here. There's a whole field."

    I was still at the bottom. I hadn't made it past the warm sand on my feet and the unexpected discovery of gorgeous shimmering shells polka dotting the hill. I had also discovered that Ben's motion was creating small avalanches. I sat watching sheets of sand release themselves and streams of sand create crevices and sand waterfalls off the ledges.

    So, how is life like a sand hill?
    1. When something surprises you, you should be willing to shift gears and tune into it. Ben saw the hill and demanded to stop. He wasn't willing to pass it by.
    2. The trip up is hard work, but the trip down is fun as hell. Learning life's lessons can be hard but the wisdom is sublime.
    3. Sometimes it takes a messy butt to get down the hill. Ben slid down the hill on his butt and his shorts ended up looking like he had an accident. In life, I think you have to be willing to loosen up sometimes, let things not be easily explainable, let it be messy.
    4. Go with the wind. Pick up momentum. Go with the flow. Don't fight what the universe is telling you. The wind's force was a creative force in the face of the hill.
    5. There were crevices in the hill and life has crevices. We become entrenched in our thoughts and habits. We have to notice when we're in them and work to get out of them. They're hard to get out of. 
    6. Unexpected beauty is everywhere. Look for it! We found a sand hill in the middle of nowhere because we went looking for it.
    7. Things aren't always what they seem. It was a hill of sand but it was also a moment, a metaphor, an enabler of a broader view.
    8. You can get buried quickly if you stand still. Sometimes you just have to move, do something. The sand buries things quickly.
    9. Truth depends on your point of view, your perspective. The experience at the top of the hill was very different from the one at the bottom of the hill.
    10. Life is constantly changing even when it seems the same. From far enough away, that hill just seemed like a hill sitting there, but when you looked close enough, it was constantly changing. Structures that look permanent are fragile. A single distance vibration can result in a cataclysmic change.
    Go out and find your sand hill now.

    Sunday, August 5, 2012

    How clean is your refrigerator? or brain?

    Yesterday, I opened my refrigerator and I was shocked at how dirty it was. I was shocked because I expected it to be clean. If you would have asked me whether my refrigerator was clean, I would have said yes.

    Then I opened the door to my garage and it was a disaster. Ditto my car.

    I started to wonder how often we truly see things as they are. I'm a believer in creating your own reality, but is there a point where it goes too far....where our refrigerators are clean and in "reality", they are a mess. AND if my refrigerator is a mess, what else is a mess that I'm not seeing? I'm not talking about my garage or my car. I'm talking about more important things like relationships or visions of the future or perspectives. And for those other things, I don't even have a physical representation of those things to check my reality and the "real" reality against, so I'm probably at an even greater risk of them not being the same.

    I know that the ONLY way we see life is through the filter of our own brains, so I might need to put "brain cleaning" on my list of things to do. Now, I need to figure out how to do it. Is it just as simple as reminding myself to look at things a different way? If I look a different way, I might see them differently.

    ..............and I really need to know if my refrigerator is dirty.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    How are you? BUSY?

    A couple of years ago, I crossed two responses off of my list for possible answers to the question: How are you?


    By now, I hope you've seen Mel Robbins' video on the word "fine". She pretty much said all there is to say about that. If you haven't watched it, it's 21 minutes well spent. Go here.

    That leaves the word "busy". I really have a contentious relationship with this word. It really is an excuse. I know because I used it all the time. Next time you find yourself telling someone that you haven't been in touch for a while, instead, tell them this: YOU weren't my PRIORITY. X has been more important.

    Hey, I'm not saying that there aren't legitimate reasons to have other priorities. And if that's true, it shouldn't be hard to explain why you've been preoccupied.

    Try this for a while. Every time you're about to say you've been busy. Say, "YOU weren't my PRIORITY. X has been more important." You might surprise yourself. If it starts to feel icky, your priorities need to change.

    Saturday, July 28, 2012

    Missing you & things

    I'm missing things today. It's something about sunny days and festivals and finding myself alone. Loneliness starts to weave itself into my mind. It's not like I don't have things to do. I have an unending list of things to do. It's not even like I don't have people that I could choose to be with. In my logical brain, I know these things are true. But I'm missing the laughter of H, the way we are experts at wasting time. The only thing we need to have fun is us. I'm missing my children, B & C, the way B makes me laugh even when I'm trying not to, the way my C creates, the way her mind works. I'm missing the feeling that a special someone is there, woven into my thoughts and my days. I'm missing M and the ease of being around her. I'm missing BBQs and parties and my dog. I'm even missing things I've never had. Is that possible? So now, it's time to shift from missing to doing.....knowing that doing will distract me from missing....and then my reality will be different. ~Michele

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    Other people as yardsticks

    I've always been vehemently opposed to using other people as yardsticks to determine how you're measuring up but today I had a moment that made me think that other people might just be a reminder to ask yourself if you're showing up the way you want. I was driving with my daughter to a friend's house. It's a beautiful, sunny day...bright blue skies with those fluffy clouds crisp, white edges; the kind that make you think of pure snow or fresh linen or Monet. We were in a neighborhood known for the diverse personality of houses; the crazy neighbor was more frequently evident in the still present red, white, and blue decorations or bright purple paint. Let's just say that the day was....exuding. But something captured us. My daughter saw it at the same time that I did. We looked at each other and the look said everything that our words hadn't yet. There was a woman pushing a man in a wheelchair. He had on a baseball cap that was pulled down to block the sun from his eyes. He had fallen asleep. I'm not going to communicate this perfectly, so be patient. It was one of those wheelchairs that's longer than normal, that supports more of the body. From a glance, it appeared that he probably didn't have full use of his body....and here was a woman pushing a man on this gorgeous day, while he was sleeping which meant he wasn't even able to appreciate it....and yet, she gave herself unselfishly, investing in exposing this man to the day, the sunshine. She was there, showing up, even when she wasn't getting credit for it. I looked at my daughter and asked, "Did you see that? It was beautiful." she said, "Yeah, I know." we kept driving but I had to wipe to tears from my eyes. And I wondered, "Could I ever measure up to that yardstick?"

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    Moving On

    I helped a friend move yesterday.

    But that wasn't all it was.
    • It was me showing up because showing up was the right thing to do (and I need to do more of that).
    • It was watching my friend be strong enough to let people help her and let them see her sad.
    • It was watching a community of friends each do a part to get a job done.
    • It was meeting new people and hearing about their lives.
    But that wasn't all it was.
    • It was a deep karmic story of one friend repaying another.
    Ginger and Trixie had been good friends when the news came. Ginger's husband's plane was missing with him and three of their kids. In the wake of that new and the ensuing days of waiting for the final word, Trixie moved in with Ginger to help in any way she could. Bad news came and Ginger's family and friends stepped through life's days because there was no other choice. After a year, Ginger moved her family into a new home, a new beginning, leaving the old house with its whispers of a past life. Unable to tame the overwhelming sadness the house delivered with each visit, it was never completely emptied and not put up for sale.

    Fast forward.

    Trixie had loved Jack for years. They had been together before, for years, and then taken a break only to rekindle a love that felt destined. Once again, together for years, Trixie thought this was it. But Jack felt differently and like glass shattering on granite, her vision of the future was in pieces, never to be put back together the same way.

    And so it was meant to be. 

    It just so happens that one of the things Trixie is really good at is house projects and inserting style and color into a home. And Ginger needed her lonely, sad house to be given some love.

    So, Trixie moved in.

    But that wasn't all it was.
    • It was two friends being brave in their own ways. Ginger letting life back into the quiet house. Letting go. Moving on.
    • Trixie quickly moving out and on and in....and into Ginger's, again, but this time it was to fiercely taking care of herself.
    • It was about both of them moving through beginnings and endings and accepting a life they didn't choose.
    It was another reason to be proud of the people in my life.

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    My Dream of You

    You were the beneficiary of the generosity of my brain.
    I gave you the attributes that I sought;
    Offering forgiveness when they didn't really show up.
    Then, by being you, one too many times, I could no longer deny the incongruence.
    And the dream of you was lost.
    Do you do this with people? Expecting them to show up a certain way only to realize that those ways were all about the things you made up in your head; not about who they really were. I wrote this in Feb '11 and since then I've realized that I do this with a lot of people - I expect that they'll be a certain way and then find myself disapointed when they aren't. So, instead of making the same "mistake" twice, here's what I recommend:

    1) Do I give up my expectations, my presumption of what people "should" be because they will be how they are regardless of my expectations? Do I just get over it? or
    2) Do I re-define my expectations according to what a person's strengths and weaknesses are? Knowing that I shouldn't expect them to show up in their weak areas.
    3) Do I hold fast to my expectations because they are reasonable? Are my expectations foundational to the standards I've set on how I want to be treated?  Do they honor me?

    There is no wrong answer but it's still hard to figure out the right one each time.

    Saturday, July 7, 2012


    I sat on the edge of the Mississippi River today.


    The people moved. Families. Couples. Friends.

    They carried out transactions. Giving and taking. Moving in and out of each other's space. Sometimes all wrapped up in themselves. Other times oozing energy. Fluid.

    Like a silent vampire, I soaked up their energy as they passed. Embezzling.

    Friday, July 6, 2012


    Sometimes I wrestle with me. Trying to find me in the emptiness. The void. The absence. Fighting to find the energy to be present. Knowing that the "on switch" is there. Somewhere. But where are the breadcrumbs to show me the path, the formula to provide the answer, the medicine to cure the sickness?

    Yes, the logical me tries to acknowledge the need for hibernation, rejuvenation, downtime....but who wants to DO that?!!!

    So, I wrestle with me. Try to pin me me that I win.

    Sunday, April 22, 2012


    First, into the gray A stifling cloak of uncertainty and blindness. Unending haze of lost. Stuck. Then, an unforeseen simplistic escape. Breaching an invisible barrier. Sliding into blazing blue, sun soaked clarity. Infinitesimal certainty. Meaningful travel. Across the invisible line between gray and blue. Purposefully. Shifting into the light. .........floating in it.