Archive: Emotions

October 24, 2019

What happens on a Vibrant Living Retreat?

I’ve been back from Italy for over a month and I’m still basking in the afterglow of that marvelous time. So many people have asked me what we do on retreat and I find myself having a hard time coming up with the right words.

We connect

We grow

We laugh

We move our bodies

We explore pleasure and joy and sensuality and presence and emotions and open-hearted living and desire and boundaries and naming our wants

We eat (we eat sooooo well)


We explore

I can tell you that before the retreat many of the participants told me that wanted to change in some way…and that as I was leaving the villa I felt transformed.

Powerful things happen when we gather in community and share and name things that are scary or exciting or vulnerable.

Here are some of the other things that happened on this Vibrant Living Italy 2019 Retreat.


We stayed at an incredible villa with a pool and a private chef.

Nikki lead us in yoga for an hour and a half every morning.

We named intentions for the week, created soul collages, pulled cards and also created a vibrant living playlist.

I lead classes.

People shared what was on their hearts.

We went wine tasting (at a vineyard owned by an incredible woman).

We took a few trips to nearby towns – visited churches and wandered down alleys and shopped and ate gelato.

We talked a lot about what we want – how to identify, the importance of naming it and how to move toward it.

I shared that this retreat was a big want of mine and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t said it out loud during a Portland retreat the year before. And later that day we headed to dinner at a restaurant in Lucca.

I had told some of the women about how much I love pistachio gelato and how excited I was to have it that afternoon. As we walked to the restaurant they asked if I had had my gelato and I oohed and ached about it. Ten minutes later we sat down at the table and the owner greeted us and looked at me and said, “You are going to love our special. Pistachio Pasta!” (of course I had it and I’m still dreaming about it!)

There were many moments like this that are not quantifiable. Sometimes magic happens on retreats.

There were so many beautiful moments and interactions that were influenced by the glorious combination of the 10 women who joined us.

I am changed. And I am forever grateful.

The experience was so powerful for both me and for Nikki that we’ve already decided to go back to Italy for Vibrant Living Italy 2020 next fall!

I’ll be sharing those details soon!

November 24, 2016

5 ways to heal your heart

broken heart

What do you do when your heart is hurting?

How do you grieve?

How do you cope with loss?

What do you do when your feelings are hurt?

What do you do when a relationship ends?

How do you go on when your dreams are crushed?

Do you try to cheer yourself up? Do you get trapped in a cycle of despair? Do you disconnect from your feelings completely? Do you feel stuck or lost?

There is no easy fix for heartbreak. We also have a lot of messages in our culture about “bucking up” or not being a crybaby or getting over things. We call certain emotions “positive” and others “negative.” Also, let’s be honest, it doesn’t feel good when your heart is hurting. It makes sense to try to avoid feeling way. But stuffing or ignoring your feelings doesn’t usually help heart ache (it often prolongs it).

Here are 5 things you can do when your heart aches.

Feel your feelings

The only way out is through. It’s hard to believe when you are in the midst of pain that one day you will feel better. Just like the sun rises after a long dark night, you will feel better eventually…but night comes before the dawn. Cry. Spend the day in your pjs. Get angry. Don’t ignore the pain. Move with it and through it. Cry some more. You don’t need to deny or ignore your experience.

Get support

Take to a friend. Find a therapist. Join a support group. When you are in pain, it’s easy to feel alone. While you are a unique person with unique experiences, pain and heartache are universal. Having someone else who can remind you that you are not alone or say “Me too” can be wildly comforting.

Ask for what you want/need

What will help you feel better? What do you really need right now? Once you identify it, ask for it. We all process grief or sadness or pain a bit differently. The people who are close to you may not know what will be most supportive for you. Check in with yourself and then share your requests with them.

Take action

If your heart is aching in response to injustice or pain in the world. You can take action in response. Volunteer, donate money, find a way to show up and support the people and causes you believe in. If you’re experiencing a personal heartache, you can still take action. Take a walk. Get rid of clothes or belongings that no longer reflect who you are or how you want to feel. Clean your house. It’s easy to feel helpless and stuck when you are hurting. Feeling your feelings is different than giving up or feeling stuck. (If you are prone to depression or anxiety taking action is very hard to do alone. Support and empathy will be essential helping you heal your heart.)

Give love

I know from experience that when I’m feeling sad or lonely, one of the things that helps is to share love with others. First though, I need to feel my feelings and identify what I need and get support so I feel like I have the capacity to give love to another. And then reaching out with a card, doing a random act of kindness, letting someone know I see them or admire them, or helping someone feel special can actually make ME feel better. This won’t work if you are not also willing to receive love and get support. If you try to give love when you are depleted, you can feel resentful.

Living and loving and being present means sometimes your heart will hurt. And when it does, I hope these actions will help you move through the pain and back toward open hearted living.

Filed under: Change,Emotions,Love,Self-care,Self-love,Support,Vulnerability — admin @ 10:27 pm

November 25, 2014

How do you support someone who is struggling?


It’s so hard to witness a loved one’s pain. It’s so hard when someone you love is struggling. You might wish you could swoop in, ease their pain and make it better.

You might not know what do to and leave it up to them to tell you what would feel supportive.

One of the most common questions after someone famous (or someone you know) ends his life is, “Why didn’t he ask for help?” I see article after article, imploring people to ask for help when they are struggling. Yes! Yes! If you are able to, please ask for help. However, when people are really depressed or deep in their grief, they rarely have the energy or thought to reach out and ask for help.

I work with people who describe themselves as depressed and they often share how hard it is to do ANYTHING, the last thing they can do is ask a friend for help. When they are deep in their depression, they don’t even know what will feel supportive.

I know that when I’ve felt grief, there were times it didn’t even occur to me to pick up the phone. When you are grieving, your world is filled with that feeling, those memories, the heaviness and it can feel strange or impossible to reach out. It can feel unsettling that the rest of the world seems to keep spinning when your world has stopped.

And for those who love someone who is struggling, it can be confusing. Am I supposed to ask about their grief and talk about the person who is gone? Or cheer them up and take their mind off of it?

Here are some ways you can support someone who is struggling

  • Ask her how she is feeling. Be open to her response. Keep the conversation going.
  • Empathize. Don’t talk her out of her feelings. Don’t try to convince her it’s not so bad.
  • Ask her what she needs.
  • If she is grieving, ask if she wants to talk about the person she misses. Does she want to hear stories you remember? Does she want to share stories about that person?
  • Keep checking in. Ask if she would prefer texts or phone calls and then check in regularly. Checking in can be as simple as “Thinking of you. How are you today?” “Can I bring you anything?” “Would you like some company?”
  • If your loved one is grieving, help her honor special occasions and events. Acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries.
  • If your loved one is depressed, offer concrete things you can do together. “Let’s go for a walk.” “Let’s go to this event, I will pick you up at 4pm.”
  • Let your loved one know she is not alone!

Here are some additional resources I found.

Supporting a grieving person

How to help a grieving friend

How to help someone who is depressed

Filed under: Death,Emotions,Grief,Support — admin @ 7:58 pm

April 30, 2014

Gratitude is a choice


Recently I was talking with a friend about gratitude. She asked about finding the things to be grateful for. She talked about how hard things have been and how it’s often easier to focus on that.

I get that.

I know how consuming the hard and the bad can be. I know how unfair things can feel. I know grief and anger and discomfort.

We talked about journaling and how easy it is to fill our pages with the yucky stuff. And then I said to her, “And at the end of the day, I can always find something for which I am grateful.”

And then I went home and thing after thing kept going “wrong.” I was cutting something for my daughter and accidentlaly cut my favorite sweater. I dropped things. I waited too long to reserve a specific apartment in Paris and lost it to someone else. My daughter woke up at 4:45am and decided she was ready to start her day. Yeah. So where was my gratitude then???

The truth is I still could have found gratitude. There were still plenty of wonderful amazing things in my life…all my basic needs were being met…I still loved my work and my family and my friend and my city. And at the same time, I figured it was OK to be frustrated and bummed and tired and overwhelmed. In that moment I didn’t want to feel grateful.

Gratitude is a choice. It is something that I choose often because I usually feel good when I do…but I also think it’s OK to feel all of the other things in your life too. I’ve written about feeling multiple emotions at once…if we only look at the good we might miss something important…if we only focus on the bad the same thing happens. If we take everything for granted we are missing out and if we are grateful at the expense of truly feeling our feelings that is problematic too.

Gratitude is a choice.

Today I choose to feel grateful for the sunshine, an upcoming trip, a gleeful toddler who no longer wants to hold my hand while she toddles and cherry pie on the patio.

I’m also feeling all of the other things going on in my life…but today it feels easy to choose gratitude.

What will you let yourself choose today?

You might be interested in these similar posts –

Gratitude doesn’t mean pretending things aren’t hard

Living isn’t for the faint of heart

Looking for BIG and missing the little

Filed under: Emotions,Gratitude — admin @ 5:53 pm

March 10, 2014

Giving Up Negativity For Lent!

Inner Critic

Last week my facebook feed was filled with posts about what my friends were giving up for Lent.

  • No more chocolate
  • So long alcohol
  • Goodbye Facebook, see you in 40 days
  • No gluten
  • 40 days off of TV

Many people use this time to let go of something that isn’t serving them, a “bad habit” or a “guilty pleasure.”

I certainly think a break from any of the above things could serve someone. I have taken breaks from different foods or beverages or media or electrotics for different reasons and usually feel energized and refreshed. This year I’m thinking of some less tangible items we can give up.

  • I would love to see people take a break from negative self-talk.
  • I would love to see people give up shame.
  • I would love to see people let go of self-doubt.
  • I would love to see people release critisism.
  • I would love to see people eliminate hate.

And if giving something up doesn’t work for you. Can you add something positive to your life for 40 days? Turn up the volume on self-love. Start a gratitiude practice. Embrace 40 days of kind thoughts, loving actions and positive thinking.

Whether or not you are religious, can you welcome 40 days of less negativity? Give yourself a break from some of the things that don’t serve you!

Filed under: Change,Emotions,Gratitude,Self-love — admin @ 10:46 am

March 5, 2014

Have You Forgotten Who You Are?

Remember Yourself

Where do you fit in with the rest of your life?

Do you place your energy and time elsewhere?

Are you busy taking care of children or attending to a partner or focusing on family or working yourself to exhaustion?

Even if you do end up with a bit of free time, do you struggle with how to spend it?  Can you really justify lounging on the couch, walking in the sunshine or taking an art class when there are so many “shoulds” to do?

Or when gifted with time, do you even wonder HOW to spend it?  Have you forgotten what you like?  Have you forgotten who you are?

As a mama and a business owner, I know it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle.  You are scheduling things for you child, attending to her needs and scheduling things for your business and making sure it moves along…but what about yourself?

Are you confusing what you “do” with who you “are”? Who are YOU?

If you’ve forgotten who you are, here are some things that may help you remember.

  • Play – For real. Laugh, sing, dance, play.
  • JournalWrite it out. How do you feel? What do you want? What do you like? Who are you?
  • Collage – Create! Thumb through magazines and pull images that speak to you.  Ask yourself who you are as you turn the pages and see what speaks to you.  Put the images on paper and place your collage somewhere you can see it and remember.
  • Connect to your body – What feels good? What excites you? What nurtures you? What replenishes you? Be in your body.
  • Slow down – Breathe, take a bath, take a walk, do some yoga, sit.
  • Ask someone you trust – “How do you see me?” or “I’m feeling really overwhelmed (or tired or depleted) and I’m forgetting who I am. Can you remind me?”

I also like to gather in a sacred circle or with a group of women.  An evening with my closest friends reminds me of who I am.  I also feel very connected to myself and who I am when I’m in Paris (not something I can do all the time, but it helps to know if you have a place that reminds you of who you are).

The things that remind me of who I am are different than things that just make me feel good.  All of the above make me feel good too…but they go deeper than just joy or self-care.

Make your own list. What reminds you of who you are?  How can you stay connected so you don’t forget yourself?  Do you need to reprioritize?

If you need a little support, my  class, “Shower Yourself with Love” will help you remember who you are and turn up the volume on self-love!

Filed under: Creativity,Emotions,Pleasure,Self-love,Support — admin @ 3:10 pm

February 5, 2014

Living isn’t for the faint of heart

This beautiful traveling altar was sent to me by a wonderful supporter and someone who recognizes when I am "in it."

This beautiful traveling altar was sent to me by a wonderful supporter and someone who recognizes when I am "in it."

So many big things are happening. So many of us are IN IT! And sometimes it is hard.

Major changes, challenges, growth opportunities and struggles.

We are starting businesses, ending relationships, raising children, speaking out truths, saying goodbye to people we love, going back to school, struggling to pay our bills, giving up our dreams, grieving, choosing to have a baby, struggling to get pregnant, moving to places where we don’t know a soul, leaving places and people we love, hearing bad news, receiving life altering diagnoses or prognoses and wondering, what is the point of it all?

We are taking risks and sometimes falling and standing again and trying.

We are flourishing.

We are saying yes to love, laughing with our heads thrown back and our mouths wide open, receiving touch and warmth and connection, dancing with our arms out and our hips swaying, making love and calling out our pleasure, loving our bodies and shaking off shame.

And sometimes we aren’t.

Sometimes our heart is breaking. Sometimes we are crying on the bathroom floor. Or sometimes we wish we could be crumpled on the bathroom floor, but there are mouths to feed or floors to wash or other tears that need to be dried. Sometimes we are stuck in shame, unable to be seen or see ourselves, wishing we could just disappear…sometimes forever.

Oh man, this stuff is hard.

Oh man, this life can be hard…and wonderful…and glorious…and hard.

Sometimes the joy is so big we feel guilty. Sometimes we worry that it will all be taken away…there is too much good and when other people are hurting it feels uncomfortable to have too much good. Sometimes we feel like we need to pay for the good or earn the good or even things out a bit. We worry we are undeserving…we don’t enjoy this moment because we think about how awful it will feel when it’s gone.

Living isn’t for the faint of heart.

But what are our choices?

We live and feel it all…the up the down…the high the low…the lovely the miserable…the ecstasy and the brutally hard –- or we shut down, we numb out, we self-medicate, we build walls, we close up, we push away, we turn inside out, we give up.

When you close to pain, you close to joy. When you numb the hurt you numb the bliss. When you avoid heartache, you avoid heart-opening.

It’s a bitter truth, eh?

You have a choice. Neither is easy. Life isn’t easy. And truly living isn’t for the faint of heart.

November 20, 2013

Gratitude doesn’t mean pretending things aren’t hard

I’m grateful for my health.

I’m grateful for the sunshine.

I’m grateful that today isn’t quite as hard as yesterday was.

I’m grateful for hope and faith and trust and inner knowing.

November is often a month of gratitude.  You may see your facebook or twitter feed full of things your friends appreciate.  If you are familiar with my facebook page, you know that I also participate.  I love it!  It brings me joy to see the things for which others are thankful.  It also helps focus me; it helps me shine a light on the positive even when things are hard.

Gratitude helps us acknowledge what is working or feels wonderful.  Giving thanks helps us focus on the good.  It doesn’t take away the bad…it just turns down the volume.  Being grateful doesn’t mean you have to ignore the hard or lie about the bad or pretend things are easy.  You can be grateful about something and still be struggling.  You can be thankful and still wish things were different.  Both can be true.  All of it can be true.

You can also be heartbroken, grieving, disappointed and still find something for which you are grateful.  The gratitude doesn’t replace the pain.  It adds gratitude to your perspective.  It may lesson some of the heartbreak and it may not.

Gratitude isn’t being oblivious or Pollyanna or pretending.  It’s not putting a rosy or sunny spin on things.  Gratitude is something that comes from deep within.  It is a form of thanksgiving and if you are “pretending” then you really aren’t practicing it.

I think sometimes gratitude is discredited because people think it’s “blowing smoke” or not truthful. I think some people see other’s gratitude and feel like they aren’t being realistic or they are painting a picture that is “too good.”  I think some people are uncomfortable with the idea of gratitude because they worry it means they have to let go of all other feelings (anger, guilt, sadness, etc).

You can feel what you feel and be grateful.  You can hold space for the gratitude AND the hard.  Both are true and truth is compelling.


Today I’m grateful for a “pause” in my busy day, where I can sit and drink my latte and write this blog post.  I’ve also been up the last 3 nights with a sick baby and I’m exhausted.  My heart is heavy because my babe is struggling.  And I’m struggling.  I’m also grateful for support from friends and family, kind words and a gift package left on my porch.

All of it’s true.  It’s not all good.  It’s not all bad.  It’s wonderful and it’s hard.  It’s true.  It’s life.  And I am grateful.

Filed under: Emotions,Gratitude — admin @ 11:18 am

September 25, 2013

A sincere apology


“I’m sorry you feel that way, but _____.”

How skilled are you at offering a sincere apology?

What does one even look like?

To start you can simply say, “I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry works when you are offering sympathy – you aren’t apologizing for something you’ve done, but you do feel badly.  If someone you know is grieving or struggling or having a hard time, “I’m sorry” can be very meaningful.  “I’m sorry you are struggling.”  “I’m sorry you lost your job.”  “I’m sorry about your mom.”  All of those can be meaningful and they are different than an apology.

If you’ve hurt someone, broken trust or let him down; “I’m sorry” is also fitting.  A simple, “I’m sorry” can go a very long way.  Saying you are sorry and then naming the behavior offers an apology and also shows you are taking accountability of your actions. “I’m sorry I hurt you.”  “I’m sorry I lied.”  I’m sorry I messed up.”  “I’m sorry I was so controlling.”

Here is where I think people trip up.

  • “I’m sorry I hurt you, but I was really unhappy.”  Or “I’m sorry, but you know, you were really mean to me too.”  Is that an apology?  Half of an apology?  Adding but to the statement negates part of the apology.  It makes excuses for the hurtful behavior.  It keeps you from taking full responsibility or allows you to be defensive.
  • “I’m sorry you feel sad.”  “I’m sorry you are disappointed.”  Both these things may be true, but they are not an apology – these statements offer sympathy.

Some people have a really hard time apologizing.  Some people view it as a sign of weakness.  Some people don’t want to have to accept ownership or “blame.”  When you’ve done something, saying you are sorry is important!

Taking ownership for your actions is strong/brave, not weak.  Your apology might not erase all of the pain, but it could create the first step in a healing process.

Filed under: Communication,Emotions,Relationship — admin @ 3:15 pm

August 19, 2013

Writing It Out and Journaling In


Diaries aren’t just for teenage girls and recording crushes.  Writing your thoughts, feelings, desires, experiences and more; can be very powerful.

I have kept a journal off and on for decades.  There were times I was diligent and wrote every day and others when I would show up at the page every few months.  When I started my business and started writing for work, I wrote for myself less and less.  When my dad died, I needed a place to put all of my thoughts and feelings.  I could talk to friends and family…but the truth is there is only so much space or energy for that.  I was very supported and at the same time, my family had their own grief and my friends didn’t have the same experience as I did (though I will say, talking with my friends who have also lost a parent was so comforting and reassuring.  If you have experienced loss I do recommend trying to connect with people who will “get” it).

Writing is a wonderful way to work through feelings…to get them out of your body…to heal.

Process your grief

Vent your anger

Pour out your heartache

Scribble out your joy

It is also a powerful way to go inward, to learn, to reflect, to understand, to grow.

What do I want in my life?

What isn’t serving me?

What risks shall I take?

What are my fears?

It can also be a way to record what is happening in your life.

Track changes

Document experiences

Take a snapshot of your life

There isn’t a “right way” to journal.  Journal in the way that works best for you.  Use words or pictures or art. If you need a schedule or a special place or a special journal; that’s great.  If you need something else that is great too!

Journaling can be a solitary event.  It can also be something you do with or for another person.

  • Keep a journal for yourself

Let it be something just for you.  You don’t have to worry about judgment or shame.  Let it be yours.

  • Share a journal with your partner

You can write this together.  You could create a gratitude journal where you each post something you are grateful for about your partner each day.  You could also keep a journal about your relationship and give it to your partner one day.

  • Journal for your children

I kept a pregnancy journal and have continued to write a journal for my daughter.  I write her letters, comment on things she learns or experiences and even just record a plain old boring day.  I can’t wait to be able to share this with her one day.  Sometimes my love is so strong, so I grab her journal and write out my feelings.  I know that when she is older I will be able to tell her how much I enjoyed her first year, this journal will give her a glimpse of what it was really like (especially because we tend to “rewrite” memories in our mind).

Talking things out can be so wonderful.  Processing with a friend or a counselor is great!  You also have the ability to do some work on your own with a pen and paper.  Writing it out or journal within…keep it to yourself or share it…journal in a way that works for you!

Filed under: Change,Emotions,Ritual,Self-care,Self-love,Uncategorized — admin @ 9:04 pm

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