Archive: Family

November 9, 2018

Simple ways to start a gratitude practice

I know things are hard for many people right now. I also know that during the month of November there is a lot of talk about gratitude. Some people participate in 30 Days of Thanks and post daily gratitude on social media. Some people have their own personal or family traditions that center around gratitude. For the last two years my daughter and I have created a Gratitude Wreath during the month of November.

gratitude wreath

We start with a large circle and a bunch of leaves that we cut out of paper. And every day we each write down something we are grateful for on one leave and then by the end of the month we have a wreath full of thanksgiving and happy memories!

I know that gratitude doesn’t “solve everything.” Gratitude doesn’t erase pain. Gratitude doesn’t cancel out heartbreak. Gratitude doesn’t make everything better. However, I often feel better when I make space for gratitude. Gratitude can give us perspective and it can also improve our mood or help us feel less hopeless.

Here are some ways you can start a gratitude practice –

  • Do 30 Days of Thanks (or something similar) – name what you are grateful for every day for 30 days.
  • Keep a gratitude journal -

You can do this alone by writing down 1-3 things you are grateful for each day. Or you can do it with your partner. Creating a gratitude journal with your partner can be a great way to highlight what is working in your relationship and your love and appreciation for each other, even when things are hard.

Use a notebook or journal and each taking turns writing something every day. Write about gratitude you feel for your partner or gratitude for your relationship. You can write big things, small things, silly things, sexy things, specific things – anything you are thankful for. On days when you are frustrated or angry with each other, notice if you can still find something you are thankful for.

As you move forward with this, you’ll end up with a large list of things you are grateful for and things your partner is grateful for. If you are feeling sad or frustrated you can read some of the entries to remind yourself of how you have both felt…or on special days or anniversaries you can reread your entire journal.

Start small. Choose one thing you can do every day. Or choose to start with a limited time (one week, 30 days, three months, etc). And notice how you feel as you start to take inventory of the things (or people) you are thankful for!

Filed under: Family, Gratitude, Presence, Relationship, Retreat — admin @ 2:23 pm

February 12, 2016

Valentine’s Day is for Everyone.

Valentine Love

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and I’m hearing a lot of grumbling about it. I know some people think it’s a “Hallmark Holiday.” I know some single people hate it because it reminds them they are “alone.” And I know some partners feel pressure or disappointment on that day.

I love Valentine’s Day.

I love it when I’m single and I love it when I’m partnered. I love it because it is a day that celebrates love. And I love LOVE!

Growing up my mom got us gifts on Valentine’s Day. My grandma also sent us goodies in the mail. I learned that February 14th is a day to celebrate the people you care about. As an adult I’ve had lovely celebrations with romantic partners and some really special solo Valentine’s Days as well.

You see, Valentine’s Day is about your intentions, not your relationship status.

You can be disappointed on Valentine’s Day in a relationship or on your own. You can have a crappy day if you are partnered and a lovely day if you are single. You get to choose.

This Valentine’s Day my daughter and I are throwing a party for some of our favorite people. We are going to gather and eat and drink and celebrate our love and friendship. I also bought her some small gifts and I’m buying something for myself too.

What are your intentions for February 14th? How will you celebrate love this year?

Filed under: Family, Friendship, Holidays, Love, Relationship, Self-love — admin @ 3:33 pm

November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Blessings

Thanksgiving

Yesterday I loaded up the car and headed to Central Oregon. My daughter napped for the first hour and as I drove I thought about previous Thanksgivings.

As a child we drove three hours to my grandparents house each year. I would sprawl out in the back of our van and read my Nancy Drew books the entire drive.

I thought about last Thanksgiving when we came to this same ranch and I sat with my dear friend as we watched our kids pile up pillows and leap off the couch into the fluffy mountain. I watched my dear girl soar through the air and squeal with delight. In that moment she was less baby and more big girl.

I remembered the Thanksgiving years ago when I had a migraine and stayed home alone. Trying to sleep. Feeling sorry for myself as I pressed an ice pack against my head.

And I thought about the last Thanksgiving I spent with my dad. 2011. I hoped I was pregnant, but it was too early to take a test. The whole family gathered in Michigan. Dad was bald from the chemo. We set up folding tables in the living room of my childhood home so everyone would eat together. And my dad said a prayer before the meal where he singled us each out with his gratitude. Lots of tears.

Today on my drive I also thought about all of the things for which I am grateful. I counted my blessings (and lost count).

And here we are. There is snow. There is food. There are children laughing. And there is lots of love. After three Thanksgivings together we have our rituals and traditions. This is my family. Not my family of origin (We will gather with them in Michigan at Christmas time), but my family.

Family takes all shapes and forms and sizes. I’m thinking of you today as you celebrate or don’t celebrate. I’m thinking of you as you gather with family or friends or don’t. I’m thinking of you if you feel alone or unsupported. My hope is that even if this Thanksgiving is hard or sad or frustrating that you have memories of other love-filled holidays. My hope is that today for even just a moment you love and feel loved.

Filed under: Family, Friendship, Gratitude, Holidays — admin @ 9:18 am

November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks with Kids

kids and thanks

I write about gratitude often.  It’s no secret I think it can enhance your life and make you feel good.  I’ve written about ways you can practice gratitude on your own or with your partner.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about ways to practice gratitude with your child(ren).

  • Make a list on your wall

Use butcher paper or a chalkboard to record lists or pictures of things for which you are thankful.  You can encourage your children to list things daily or as they feel them.

  • Create a collage

Tear up old magazines, use photos or other images to make a visual representation of your gratitude.  Give the collage a place of honor (you can even pull it out each Thanksgiving as part of your décor).

  • Turn your tablecloth into a gratitude work of art

Use paper and crayons or a tablecloth and paint to let you child express her thanks.  She may use words or drawings or colors to share her feelings.  You can use this tablecloth as the centerpiece for your Thanksgiving meal.

  • Send postcards of thanks

Who doesn’t love sweet notes in the mail?  Take some time to write thank you notes (or “I’m thankful for you” notes) and send them to loved ones.

  • Make a gratitude altar

Set up a space with found objects, things from nature, pictures of loved ones, special stones or crystals, and other items that make you feel thankful.  Encourage your child to add items to the altar and use it as a way to honor and acknowledge the things and people for which he feels thanks.

  • Model saying, “Thank you.”

It’s a small thing.  The more thankful you are and the more you express it, the more your child will learn that behavior.

This time of year is a great “excuse” or reason to start a gratitude practice.  You don’t have to save all your thanks up for November.  Let this be the start of a regular gratitude practice or family rituals.  It’s amazing to hear what inspires other people’s gratitude  (especially our wee ones).  Gratitude begets gratitude.  Let’s start a thankful chain reaction!

Filed under: Family, Gratitude, Holidays — admin @ 1:52 pm

April 11, 2013

Saying Goodbye

saying goodbye to dad

After a couple year battle with cancer (with many ups and downs) my father passed away in March.  It’s a strange thing, knowing someone is dying.  I mean, we are all moving toward the end of our lives…but having a terminal illness puts the imminence of death, right in the forefront.  After his diagnosis, I was able to head back to the Midwest and visit many times.  I had time to create new memories with my dad.  I’m thrilled that my dad and my daughter were able to spend a little time together, since he died 7 months after her birth.  I’ve had time to question, journal, talk about my feelings and grieve (even before his death…kind of a pre-grieving).

I’m so grateful for the time we had.

I’m most grateful that I was able to say goodbye.

Saying goodbye to someone you love, is so hard.  It’s not something I’ve had experience with.  Saying goodbye isn’t something that is talked about in polite circles.  In some cases, we avoid saying goodbye.  I’m writing more about this topic in my April Newsletter (subscribe here)…not just about death, but saying goodbye to friends we’ve outgrown or a lover we no longer love…saying goodbye can be tough.

Mid-December my father’s doctors said they didn’t think he had much time left.  I went back to the Midwest to celebrate my daughter’s first Christmas and my father’s last Christmas.  My family assured me they didn’t expect me to come since I was just there in the fall, but I knew I needed to say goodbye.  When I arrived my dad looked great!  He was climbing on a stepladder and decorating the tree.  He was laughing and playing with his grandkids.  I have to admit, my “say goodbye plan” started to teeter a little bit as I began to doubt my dad’s prognosis.  How do you say goodbye to someone who looks healthy and happy?

The trip was grand. Sweet and bitter. Full of holiday traditions, sharing past memories and creating new ones.  The hardest part was trying to figure out when and how to say goodbye.  On the last day of my trip my dad and I planned to sit down and talk after a nurse made a visit to our home.  We were going to talk about logistics, final wishes and I wanted to say goodbye.  That changed when the appointment didn’t go as planned and dad had to go to the hospital.  He assured me he would be back before I had to leave, but that changed too, when he got to the hospital and was admitted.  I wish I could accurately describe the emotion and panic I felt. We had to leave for the airport in one hour, the baby was sleeping and I had a deep need to say goodbye.  I almost talked myself out of that need.  I knew he loved me.  I knew he felt supported and loved by me.  And if I really listened, I knew that I needed to say goodbye.  I felt anxious as my mom drove us to the hospital.  I really didn’t even know what I needed to say.  I didn’t know the exact words.  My dad was quite surprised when we burst into his hospital room.  I was given some time alone with my dad and ended up having the last conversation I will ever have with him (other than a jumbled text message that I saved).

I can’t quite describe what took place.  We talked about death, we talked about living, and we talked about love.  I said goodbye.  I told him how sad I am that he won’t know my daughter and she won’t know him.  There were tears.  There were hugs.  And I said goodbye.  As I think about it or write about that moment, I am still filled with emotion.  It was so powerful.  And then I walked into the brightly lit hospital corridor and I felt lighter.  I felt so content.  I felt such peace.  Still sad, but so present and open and serene.  So right.

Shortly after my dad’s death I was asked if there was anything else I wished I had said.  I am so happy that I can say I feel completely confident and truly resolved about our last moment together. I miss him.  I get sad when I think about the next time I’m with my mom, my siblings, and our kids; and dad isn’t there.  I am also so grateful that I was able to say goodbye.

Filed under: Communication, Family, Grief, Love, Relationship — admin @ 1:32 pm

October 14, 2012

Being a mother and a sexual being…

I’m thrilled to share that I was interviewed for a new book!  Mastering the Mommy Track: Juggling Career and Kids in Uncertain Times is a book from moms who are trying to find more balance and lead full lives. According to the author, “My book offers insight that will help working moms improve their personal lives and careers. It is a juggling act to balance home and work duties, and for a lot of women in 2012, it’s a walk on a tightrope–a fear their families will never experience the rewards (vacation, travel, time off) they so rightfully deserve.”

Does that tightrope familiar?

I contributed to the chapter on romance.  I hear from so many women who have a really hard time finding room for romance and intimacy once a baby arrives.  It is not impossible to be a mother and a sexual being…however it does take energy, flexibility and sometimes planning.  Having a baby impacts your life…it also impacts your relationship.  Things change after having a baby.  Your body changes after having a baby.   If you are trying to have the same kind of sex that you had “pre-baby,” you might be disappointed.  That doesn’t mean you can’t have sex and it doesn’t mean it can’t be great.

It’s important to put energy into being intimate with your partner.  It’s important to connect with your “new-ish” body.  It’s important to acknowledge where you are now and to discover what works for you now.  You can certainly reclaim romance and reclaim your sexuality after having a baby, just know that it will probably be different than it was before…and that’s OK.  It’s also OK if it feels difficult to be sexual at times.  It’s OK if you are tired or busy at times.  Be gentle with yourself.  As a mom and a sexual being (and many other roles) you may often feel like you are being pulled in many directions.  At the same time, notice when you are letting yourself coast on excuses.

You will have to put energy into your role as a mother (there is a little person depending on you).  Also put energy into your relationship with your partner and your relationship with yourself.

Need a little inspiration for romance?  Check out –

Being Romantic – Let me count the ways…

Romance Isn’t for Sissies!

Small ways to say, “I love you!”

Looking for some guidance when it comes to connecting with your sexuality?  Look at -

Be your own best lover.

Sexuality as a moving target

Embrace your sexual dichotomies

You are NEVER too old for some sex education!


Filed under: Family, Intimacy, Parenting, Relationship, Romance, Sexual Being, Sexuality — admin @ 4:57 pm

December 23, 2011

It Is All About Connection

Making a wish at the Portland Grotto 2010

Making a wish at the Portland Grotto 2010

When I think about my very favorite parts of this time of year, it’s all about connection. Whether I think of the time building up to the big event, or I picture Christmas morning with my family, my favorite part is connecting.

  • Connecting with family or friends.
  • Connecting with traditions and rituals.
  • Connecting with spirit.
  • Connecting with faith or beliefs.
  • Connecting with self.
  • Connecting with music.
  • Connecting with feelings or emotions.
  • Connecting with childlike wonder or excitement.
  • Connecting with food, festivities and frivolity.
  • Connecting with hopes, desires and dreams.
  • Connecting with history, memories and seasons past.
  • Connecting with Pleasure!

What (or who) are you connecting with?

Wishing a very Happy Holiday season to you and yours.  May you feel connected, loved and valuable.

Filed under: Emotions, Family, Holidays, Love, Relationship, Self-love, Spirituality — admin @ 12:05 pm

December 9, 2011

I’ll have a blue christmas without you!

Sad during the holidaysFor many the holidays are a time of joy, frivolity and celebration.  For others, this time of cheer and mistletoe really brings home feelings of loneliness or grief.

The holiday season can be really hard if you’ve recently gone through a break up. Cozy evenings, holiday parties and fantasies about special gifts you were going to exchange might make you miss your ex even more.

The holidays can be hard if you have been single for a while and really want to be partnered. Seeing couples connecting over a mug of cocoa (or eggnog) might really highlight how lonely you feel.

This time of year can feel unbearable if you are grieving the loss of a loved one or have a sick family member. You may find your thoughts consumed by memories of past holidays.  Or your heart may be breaking as you realize new memories won’t be created this year.  If you may be losing someone in the next year, you may be trying to “make” this the best holiday ever!

If you are struggling with sadness this holiday season, you are not alone (even though you may feel like it!)  The holidays can be very hard for many people.

Here are some ways to cope.

  • Get some support! Talk to a therapist, friend, family member or pastor.  Join a support group.  Talk with someone who has experienced a similar loss.  Make sure you are expressing your feelings.
  • Find some comfort! What would make you feel even a tiny bit better?  Get a massage.  Buy yourself a special gift.  Create new rituals for yourself.
  • Have realistic expectations. If you are struggling this holiday season, it probably won’t be the best holiday ever!  It’s OK to have ups and downs.  Can you just show up each day and see what happens?
  • Choose when to stay home and when to participate. If going to your friend’s holiday party will only make you feel more alone, let yourself stay home.  On the other hand, if staying home for the 7th time this week is going to make you feel horribly lonely, go out!
  • Don’t force yourself to be cheery and don’t force yourself to be miserable. Let yourself feel your feelings!  You may be sad and that’s OK.  You may also be surprised at how cheery you feel (even when you are grieving).  That’s OK too.

Take extra care of yourself if the holidays are hard.  Practicing self-care can help.  Even if you feel alone, you don’t have to be lonely.  Get the support you need.

Filed under: Emotions, Family, Grief, Holidays, Relationship, Self-care, Support — admin @ 9:02 am

December 2, 2011

Holiday Stresses!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Or is it?

Now is the time when people often become overwhelmed with mile long To Do lists.  People start running around decorating and over-schedule their planners with holiday engagements.  Not only is it hard to find time to focus on your relationship…but relationships are often a source of stress this time of year!

If you and your partner have conflicting views on how (or where) to celebrate the holidays the following video offers some solutions.

Remember what is most important this time of year.  Remember what is most important in your life.  The holidays don’t have to be stressful.  It’s truly up to you.

Filed under: Family, Holidays, Relationship, Video — admin @ 11:37 am

November 21, 2011

Keeping the Peace at Holiday Gatherings

This week kicks off a month of holiday parties, dinners and gatherings.  For many people this is an exciting time and for most people it is also stressful!

We begin to feel short on time and money and our To Do list becomes a mile long with cooking, baking, shopping, decorating and social events.  We are already stretched and then you add “family” into the mix and things can become heated.

Here is a video to help you keep the peace at your next holiday gathering.

Filed under: Communication, Family, Support — admin @ 9:40 am

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