Category Archives: kindness

take a deep breath

  •                                                                                                                                                                                         This is part one of my to-do list for the next 12 days. Things you won’t see on this to-do list include: eat sushi for breakfast, care for dying cat, sleep, read bedtime stories, drive in the country listening to TSwift, discuss politics, and be 90% technology free and yet, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since Friday. I think the universe has a way of telling us to (excuse my language) slow the f*** down. 

I don’t know about you— my life is slightly out of control at the present moment. And by slightly, I mean really. Really out of control. There are only so many hours in the day.  And our go-go-go culture expects us to get everything done, on time, and with 100% accuracy all. the. time. Sometimes, it just doesn’t happen.  I decided months ago to take this weekend off, to go see some friends, see my favorite slam poet and PowerGirl Andrea Gibson perform, and to then go home for the night, sleep in my own bed, get a detox push, and hop on the next flight back to DC. Alas, come Sunday my train to go home was delayed and then we got stuck somewhere between Rochester and Albany and what was supposed to be a 4 hour train ride turned into a 6.5 hour soul-searching-mojo-finding-session on the train. Continue on to Monday, I was supposed to be on a flight back to DC-  oh, don’t you know, DC got 9 inches of snow and my flight was canceled. I then tried to get on a different flight for Tuesday and last night at 10pm I got a call saying that flight was canceled. I’m tentatively scheduled to be on a flight for Wednesday morning.

Now, prior to maybe a month ago this whole fiasco would have been just that, a fiasco. I would have been so mad, I would have been screaming out to the world “HELLO UNIVERSE. CAN’T YOU SEE I HAVE A THESIS DUE IN 12 DAYS? I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS. WOULD YOU JUST SUCK THE SNOW BACK UP AND UNCANCEL MY FLIGHT AND PUT ME BACK IN THE STUDIO? THANKS!”  And yet, this time I literally can’t do a single thing. I don’t have my computer, I don’t have any books, I’m not in the studio, and no planes are moving and so, I’m here. Grounded. Quite literally. Feet on the floor, being still and slowing down, and looking my overachieving-perfectionism in the eye.

Often talked about here on the blog PowerGirl Brene Brown says this about perfectionism: “When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun — and fear is the annoying back seat driver. We struggle with perfectionism in areas where we feel most vulnerable to shame. So we’re all comfortable saying, ‘I’m a little perfectionistic,’ which is code for ‘I do things really well’ — but I’m not comfortable saying I have shame. It’s a way of thinking that says this: ‘If I look perfect, live perfect, work perfect, I can avoid or minimize criticism, blame and ridicule.’ All perfectionism is, is the 20-ton shield that we carry around hoping that it will keep us from being hurt.”

Woof. Let that sink in for a moment. I’ll wait.



Really. Let it sink in.


She hits it right on the head. I’ve been living in the perfectionism mindset about my thesis. My thinking goes something like this, “If I do a perfect thesis then a perfect collector will buy my work and then I’ll have money in my bank account and then I’ll be able to go to Mexico on a perfect vacation and then I’ll be able to come back perfectly all blissed out and then my life will be perfect.” Do you see how many times I say the word perfect in my thinking? WAY. TOO. MANY.  My high school advisor at one point said, “Why are you trying to fit in, when you were born to stand out?!” HELLO. TRUTH BOMB. In the past few days my thinking has changed to “Ok. Deep breaths. Your thesis will turn out exactly how it’s supposed to turn out. There are plenty of people who will have a ‘perfect thesis’ there is no need to add yourself to that category. Now, go take a nap and drink some green juice and it will all be ok.” WOAH. Big difference there.

Finally, for one more reinforcement— Germany based PowerGirl-run graphic design/social practice art project ‘Work is Not a Job’ believes that what you create is more important than what you do. When you wake up excited, full, and fresh you create more exciting things and in turn, when you create more exciting things the world changes. I don’t know about you but I don’t create exciting things when I don’t sleep because I’m too busy ‘perfecting’ the hell out of everything. And when we don’t sleep we become what my friend Ellen calls “a walking safety hazard.” I don’t want to be “a walking safety hazard” perfecting everything, I want to be out there knee-deep changing and shaking things up.

Now, I don’t know what the ‘thing’ that you try to perfect the hell out of is: it could be your thesis, or it could be your relationships or your AP Exam, or your college apps, or your sleep schedule— I have no clue and yet, my guess is that ‘perfecting’ it has only left you exhausted and frustrated. And so, just as a possibility for this week, what would happen if you let go of perfecting your life? What would you gain? What could come of it?

As always, send your thoughts, comments, and questions.

root down to rise up

roots and shoots

Root down to rise up; this is probably the most common phrase you will hear in any yoga class. And yet it describes so many different areas of our lives. I think it’s nearly impossible to move forward or grow up and forward if we don’t know where our roots are. That concept is one of the reasons why I love this time of the year– it’s a looking back, reflecting, evaluating, and then moving forward time. This will start a 3 week series on the blog, each week taking on one of these topics; reflecting, setting new goals and intentions, and manifesting. Personally, I think that we as a culture make these tasks so freaking complicated, complex, long, and way too difficult and so in an effort to break that down, I’m going to try my hardest to make this process as simple as possible. I think in the simplicity we can find that this process can be so incredibly helpful in learning to live into our full potential, power, strength, and keep us moving in an upward, unrelenting, forward motion.

This week we reflect. I’ll use myself as an example and then you can do your own reflecting, thinking, and sorting through.  I always love to start with numbers: What were your numbers? What did you do a lot of? What did you do a little bit of? What is an accomplishment to you?

This year I’ve been on 29 flights. I lived in DC, Alaska, and New York. I visited Seattle, San Francisco, and New Paltz for the first time. I went to 4 conferences/professional development workshops. I hiked 3 mountains: West Butte and Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska, and Giant in the Adirondack Park. I only went to the hospital 3 times, 2 for myself. (THIS IS HUGE. The year prior was 11). I read The Lorax aloud approximately 100 times. I worked 253 hours at my cupcake job. I lost my iTunes library twice and I only kissed one person.

Then to the tangibles: What were your goals, if any? How did you do on them?

My goals/intentions for last year were:

1. Yoga 4x a week.

2. Learn Tennis.

3. Camp push up challenge.

4. Practice making friends.

5. Cultivate gentleness.

I think we as a culture can fall into a trap of ultimatums, either yes or no, without any middle ground possible, when really that’s only as true as you make it. And so all my goals and intentions came with the asterisk of trying my best; that’s all the universe can ask of us. With that in mind, I “accomplished” all of them except number 2. As much as I put intention into it, yoga came to the forefront of my life and tennis didn’t come into fruition, and I’m ok with that. We learn, grow, and become the people we are supposed to be at our own pace. My pace this year didn’t include tennis.

Finally, I think the last part to reflecting comes with finding themes: what themes, thoughts, patterns of living, or constants appeared in our lives? What were the hardest moments? What were the easiest moments?  Where did you shine the brightest?

In my life this year the themes that surfaced were finding ease, limiting drama, letting go of things that don’t serve me, finding and expressing gratitude, and being authentically and truly me with no apologies. I think my hardest moments were admitting I need help and then letting people help me; this is still a huge struggle for me. My easiest moments and the moments where I shined the most were at camp in Alaska; I got down, dirty, gritty, and real with the people around me and I taught from my heartspace and not my headspace.

And so where does all that reflecting leave us? What’s next? I think it’s more thinking, processing, lingering, and reflecting until next week when we will transfer those thoughts into actions for the next year. What do you want more of in this next year? What do you want less of? What isn’t serving you and your life? What makes you oh so happy?


let the gratitude flow

In Alaska this past summer (at the summer camp for girls I was working at), we talked about gratitude every single day, often multiple times a day; we read books about it, made up phrases about it, and shared it every single night at dinner. In the simplest way I understand it, gratitude is a specific and life changing action, thought, verbal or non-verbal communication and the subsequent acknowledgement. It is however, different from thankfulness. Thankfulness is often associated with exchange of goods or services, gratitude is something that penetrates your soul. As we head into this Thanksgiving week (or as my community of people call it the “Collective Feast of Liberation”) I think it is more imperative than ever that we think about the places we are grateful and where our gratitude flows out of us.

“Sarah. SARAH. Have you seen Taylor??? TAYLOR. WHERE IS HE???”

“Um… I don’t know. He was just here.”

“Samantha. Have you seen Samantha?”


My mom walked towards the foyer of our old Victorian-era house and I watched as I saw her heart literally drop in her chest. The door was wide open and Taylor was gone.

Due to the side effects of the drugs I am taking for my Lyme disease, most of my memory has been temporarily lost. There are a few events, people, and moments I haven’t forgotten. One of them is as clear in my mind as the day it happened; the day Taylor, my Autistic brother, wandered out of our inner city house and went missing.


As we ran down the stairs we saw our crazy neighbor Margaret holding our then new kitten, Samantha, in her arms. I don’t think mom said anything to Margaret, she just started running. Running through the traffic-filled streets, screaming and looking for Taylor. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever felt my heart pump so fast since that day.

Last week’s New York Times Op-ed highlights this issue. (  The journal Pediatrics estimates that nearly 49% of people with Autism are prone to wander. With the rate of Autism now being 1 in 88, that’s a large number of people with Autism who are out in the world wandering.

Fortunately, we found Taylor that day. He was being carried by a man around the park near our house. I don’t ever want to think about the idea that we could have not found him that day. I’m not sure I would have been able to continue functioning if that was the case. However, not all parents and siblings are as lucky as we were. The case for a 14 year old Queens, NY boy is still active and while he is the most recent case, unfortunately he’s not the only one.

For many years after, I blamed myself for the fact that Taylor wandered out of our house– and yet I know that it wasn’t my fault. We had more locks on the doors in that house than a maximum security prison. Taylor is smart and can undo locks better than most locksmiths I know. He has wandered out of our current house many times even with deadbolts, spring locks, key locks, click locks, chains, and push and twist locks. He is just a smart kid with the desire to roam. And yet I worry, it wakes me up sometimes in the middle of the night. I never want to discover that my little brother is missing ever again.

Every morning that I wake and see him cuddled up and fast asleep in his bed, as I will this week when I head home, my body breathes relief. That sense of relief I feel is my gratitude– gratitude that we all made it through the night safe. Gratitude that I get another day to see his bright shining, smiley, loving face. And gratitude for myself that I have done my job as his sister to keep him safe.  In turn, my gratitude has a transference of energy, love. I love on that kid so much more, more kisses, hugs, fist bumps, late night drives through the country listening to Taylor Swift, hikes, and more “YES’s” than “No’s” come out of my mouth. Love that so greatly permeates time and space, love that goes deep-  as deep as the canyons and as high as the moon. Love that begins and ends with gratitude.

And so I challenge you PowerGirl, to truly dive deep this week into your soul and find the places where gratitude flows out of you.


(Intern’s note: This is the second interview in our ‘Possibilities’ series here on the thinkpeace blog.  We believe it is just as important to share our own stories as it is to hear about other powerful women who are living into their own greatness. They show us that no matter our age, financial situation, location, abilities, or stage of life, you can create possibility for your life. I met Jessie late in the summer of 2011. I was immediately captivated by her warmth and love– and the fact that we attended the same high school. She was a vital player in my coming out as queer. I can honestly say with my whole heart that she meets people where they are, holds space for who they are and want to grow into, and genuinely cares for humanity.  She has been and continues to be one of the most influential people in my life.)


JJ teaching GARMIN to chop wood, PowerGirl style!

Meet PowerGirl Jessie Justin

The Interview:



Nickname in Middle School or High School?

Sometimes people called me by my last name “Justin”, or “J”.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Someone who could help people. Counselor or therapist…

What do you want to be now/what are you doing?

I want to be an art therapist in a school or private setting, with individuals and groups. Or/and, a facilitator for workshops/groups about social justice, white privilege, race, etc. Or, combine all of the above.  I am currently working as a mental health clinician visiting families in their homes, helping folks manage the stresses in their lives and navigate the federal and state programs that are in place to help support families in need.

Flavor of Ice Cream that most describes you (not your favorite… the one that describes you)?

Oreo is my favorite and probably best describes me. Sometimes it’s just a vanilla base, but often the cookie crumbles get pretty mixed up in there so it’s not as basic as it’s often described. The Oreo is sometimes crunchy, sometimes soft and mushy — I am sometimes hard shelled, but sometimes rather vulnerable. Sometimes when you bite in you get a chunk, a good chewy experience. Other times you can just ease right on through, simple as that. I can be both intense and easy going. There are lots of different types of Oreo ice cream… Each brand is different.

How would you describe yourself in one word?


If you could flashback to your high school self would you tell her anything? If so, what?

I would probably tell myself that it gets better — every year gets better and better (but I don’t know how I would have believed that when I was younger).  I was told something in high school by someone I respected, it shifted my world: Stand up straight, take your hands out of your pockets and put one foot in front of the other.

What do you love most about yourself?

My ability to be a witness. Sometimes to be a bridge.

Which one person has changed the course of your life? And why?

My mom. She’s my mom. She was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met, and a really good friend. She was a do-er. She was a change maker. She was someone who would love me, and someone who would challenge me. She helped me grow and be aware of the world around me.

How do you motivate yourself?

Good question. I try to check in with my feelings, my desires, my needs — combine them and head in a direction that seems like it will help me participate as a whole human being.

On the blog and in staff meetings we have been talking about being a “YES!” to our lives… what does this mean to you?

Being a YES, not just saying yes: positive attitude, hope, setting self up for successful steps.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing girls in the world? How can we change the course of this?

Very big question.  Ultimately, to narrow it down to “the” issue — sexism. What falls under this topic: internalized sexism, identity, sexuality, social equity, financial equality, all the oppressions, rights, etc…

What’s your next bold move?

To live my life through love and freedom. Make positive change for myself and others, while not oppressing others or myself in the process.


open your arms and hurl your grenade

YouTube Preview Image

About a year and a half ago I heard a poet say “if you’re not writing the things you need to write then it’s a waste.” Those words clung to my soul and I have consciously tried to live them each day since and yet last week when I sat down to write this post, the words stopped at my finger tips and refused to come out. I know why. I know why, I have fought myself on this many times– putting thoughts or feelings to paper makes them real, it gives them life, it creates proof either for or against you and the part I often forget- it liberates you.

Like Ash Beckham {in the TedX talk above}, I have lots of closets. There have been plenty I have come out of and I could tell you about any number of them- the big ones and the small ones; the queer one, the dyslexic one, the artist one, the chronic disease one, the autistic brother one, and so on and so forth. And yet, there is one closet that I have stepped out of only partially. I say partially because my immediate family and friends know and yet, it’s not a thing I talk about, mention, bring up, or advocate for blatantly. It’s a thing that still sits behind a clear sliding glass door.

Two weeks ago I celebrated my one year anniversary of living. I know what you’re probably thinking: “GARMIN, aren’t you twenty-one, how can you be living for only one year?” Just hang tight. Not long before the time of Halloween and Hurricane Sandy last year I found myself standing about ready to jump out of my fourth floor bedroom window out on to the busy East 29th Street in New York City. Fear, undealt with events, trauma, flashbacks, and masked depression had brought me there. As I stepped one foot up to the ledge, my phone rang. It was my friend. She said “Hey there buddy, what’s up?” Frantically not knowing what to do I said, “I’m standing on the ledge of my bedroom about ready to jump out. I’m done.” Slowly, calmly and gracefully she talked me down from the ledge, and back into my bed and then put me on hold while she called our mutual friend who could help me. The next day I managed to get myself out of bed and went to a support meeting. A week later I found myself home at the kitchen table sobbing and recounting what had happened to my parents who had no idea. And there it was: suicide. Attempted suicide. One more breath and I could have been dead.

Just like that I had another closet- a closet of a past suicide attempt. When people asked why I was late to studio or why I randomly went home on the weekends, I would make up something instead of saying “oh, I had to see my therapist or I was having a hard time getting out of bed because I was sad.” And then not long before my one year anniversary of living I decided I was done- this time done in a different way. I was done hiding. Hiding that I had once attempted suicide or that I am on anti-depressants or that I still go to therapy to help undo all that crap that led me to that ledge. I decided that the next time mental illness, depression, suicide, or any related topics came up I was going to say something. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to wait long. In one of my classes this fall, upon talking about bullying and suicide in the art classroom, a girl said “well, it’s the person’s fault if they get to that point of committing suicide.” I interrupted her and I said, “IT WILL NEVER BE MY FAULT THAT I WAS STANDING ON THAT LEDGE.” I continued on to support my statement and the room fell silent. There I was. Stepping out of my closet and choosing to ‘throw my grenade’, as Ash describes it.

I wish I could tell you that I was met with “Can I have a pancake?” like Ash. Alas, unfortunately it’s not always like that.  And that’s ok. The point is the fact that you have the guts, grit, bravery, and courage to throw your grenade, to put it out into the universe, to go liberate your heart, and to live into your authenticity. It’s not easy. In fact anyone who tells you that coming out of any closet is easy is lying. There is a reason we have stayed in our closets for far too long- it’s a scary world out there. It took me three months to tell my best friend I am queer and nearly a year to tell my parents, and these are people who I knew without a doubt in my mind would continue to support and love me.

While I personally love, love, love this video for all its content and ideas, I think she glosses over the moment in which you do actually step out of the closet. It’s liberating. Seriously, liberating. The only way I can describe that feeling is like flying through the Mexican jungle on a zip line with your arms wide open, smiling, and giggling, combined with the anticipation of Christmas and your birthday, winning a million dollars, and crossing the finish line of a marathon.  Seriously. Open your arms, take that step, PowerGirl, and hurl that grenade as hard as you possibly can. I promise you won’t regret it.


Director’s note: If you, or someone you care about, are feeling empty or hopeless, please reach out. No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. In the U.S., call 1-800-TALK (8255) or go to . Internationally, go to and click on HELP. You matter, you really do. We are so glad you’re here. Check this out  and…thank you for living!

I first met GARMIN not too long after the event she describes. We were participants at a workshop on white privilege, power, and social change. I was captivated by how honest and open, curious and supportive, focused and determined she was, with her self and with others. We spent 2 1/2 days together, learning and discussing and holding each other accountable. On the last day of the workshop we all faced each other and told each other what we appreciated about the person across from us. When I got to GARMIN it was just so easy: I appreciated her integrity and grit that was so beautifully blended with a giant, warm, sensitive heart. It was clear that she  was going to reach out, help others, share of herself, and live authentically. When she asked if she could intern with thinkpeace I was delighted to look into her friendly, mischievous and highly alert eyes and say, YES. I am so glad that she is here, alive and ready to live a great big life as a thinkpeace powerGirl!

for the women: YOU ARE IMPORTANT!

So, why are we having a  thinkpeace workshop for women?

It has been a funky few weeks. Some people have said that Mercury is in retrograde. Others have said that humanity is slipping into an abyss and that there’s nothing that can be done about it. What I have seen and felt is that there’s a real negative energy vibe going on… and I think there is a way to break that and cultivate positivity in our own lives and that of others. Liz and I have frequently been asked to do a thinkpeace workshop for women. The time has arrived! Recently we’ve had conversations with some of our teen thinkpeace girls about issues they’re facing and have realized that we continue to deal with similar ones as adult women. This tells us that there are tools that we need to learn and utilize as adult women so that when we encounter road blocks on our life paths, we have the inner resources to face them. We believe that women continuously struggle with the idea that we are not enough. Because of that, we all too often cut each other down as a means of building our selves up. The simple truth is that YOU are important! Now, how can you get to a place of believing that truth?

Have you ever felt that if you put anything ‘out there’ that wasn’t facebook perfect, people would judge you?  So many of us are afraid to share our deepest selves. What if you had a place where you could be completely open with yourself, a place to shine light into the cracks of you? At the thinkpeace womens weekend workshop you’ll express yourself and let all those inner truths out through art and writing, sharing and movement. We’ll explore some Yin– a single still yoga posture which becomes a time of inner reflection, meditation and, hopefully, peace. The nervous system is calmed, the mind stilled, and in this state the body returns to its natural healthy rhythm. This type of yoga is how we will start our day, and close it. We’ll take this time to focus on breathwork, and self-compassion.  We will create vision boards and guidebooks– works of art that express what we hope to manifest in our lives. Sharing these ideas with other dynamic women will crack us open and inspire us to go deeper. Have you ever had moments where your mind just seems to spin around and never quiet down? Has this kept you from feeling capable and worthy and falling into the belief that that there is this magic something that you have to do or be before you can feel at peace? Yin and art expression will start you on a journey…

Welcome to thinkpeace workshop for women. The truth is EVERYONE IS VALUABLE; EVERYONE IS IMPORTANT. It is not a competition and you don’t get more points by dissing someone else.  What if we behaved as if we were as valuable as we think others are? What if we all treated each other with great respect? At our weekend workshop you will be met with kindness and the community of women around you will share of themselves and be curious about you. Through one-on-one sharing and small group interaction, we will break down the barriers that women inevitably put up. We will create an environment of trust and support as lifetime friendships are created.  Thinkpeace workshop for women is a place to allow yourself to be vulnerable, feel deeply, share and support in safety, and learn to trust yourself and others.

We are meant to feel peace. We are meant for joy, creativity and life… not the kind of life that you merely endure each day– the kind of life that makes you shine! If you are having difficulty finding ease in your life, and knowing how to provide it for yourself, it is time to hit the reset button!  Peace and ease aren’t found in the validation or acceptance of others, they aren’t found in acquiring things, and they aren’t found in breaking the glass ceiling or in the adoration of our children and their successes. It won’t be found after you have proven your worthiness in some way, or after you have given enough or worked enough or dieted enough or swallowed your own voice often enough. It is not found after you have been accepted into some social circle or relationship. We have created art projects for this workshop that will help us get our hearts and souls focused on things that are beautiful and light, colorful and deep. They will help us figure out what really is true for each of us and how to hold onto that when the going gets rough. The reality is that soul-deep peace is found in your very own truth… the real stuff. The stuff that we tend to keep in a closet because of fear– fear of acceptance, fear of rejection, fear of being seen as not being enough. It’s time to let it out and be who we are meant to be: joyful, creative sparks!

The truth is, you are important and are a gift to the world. When you hold your head up high, and walk through life knowing your truth, you give others hope and that they can do the same. We will share that strength with women around the world through our work on The Pad Project. It’s the thinkpeace philosophy: that our connection with ourselves makes us better equipped to reach out and give to others. Our common experience as women with cycles connects us and yet, women in developing countries are not as fortunate with sanitary options to protect their bodies and ensure opportunities for education and employment because of their periods. We will create reusable pads that will give them the freedom to pursue their hopes, needs, and dreams. You really can and will make a difference.

What if you could do the things that open your heart to the kind of woman you want to be,  the kind of person that you admire and respect and have an opportunity to support women less fortunate than you? What if you could think peace for a weekend that you then carry within you for a lifetime… Open your heart to it. Step into it. Hold hands with it. Dance with it. Sing out loud about it. You, yes you, are important! Bring your vulnerable, unsure, hurt, curious, brave, noble, unselfish, complicated self to thinkpeace workshop for women. Think it. Create it. Share it. Grow with us– the best is yet to be. Imagine!

say ‘YES’ to the gunk


I am more than enough!

Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes it hits you with a ton of bricks, or a constant tree-blowing-in-a-hurricane-smack. Sometimes it’s yucky, complicated, intense, fall-into-a-vat-of-molasses-not-good. Sometimes it pushes us to our edge and then lets us fall down the cliff.
And then we have to move through. It doesn’t matter the content of the gunk, it could be anything from your dog died to your best friend’s girlfriend cheated on her to you got bad results back from the doctor. Regardless of the content, we are the ones that give meaning to them. They either change us and propel us forward, or they break us. Both are valid responses. And yet, we have to keep going and trudging through the gunk to get to the green grass. It’s in the gunk that we find what we are truly capable. It’s where we find our inner PowerGirl putting on her mud boots, rain jacket, and stuffing her pockets with snacks for the journey. It’s where we find ourselves. It’s where we learn to stay with the discomfort.
Learning to ‘stay’ is not a skill I excel at. I haven’t lived in the same place for more than 18 months since I was 13. Why? I freak myself out. Things get hard and I freak. I book a plane ticket somewhere and peace out. I run because I haven’t figured out how to stay with the not-so-fun feelings. And yet, wherever I go, I find myself there again. All the things I ran from end up following me– just taking a different shape. You would think that after thousands of frequent flyer miles I would have figured this out. I would have figured out that the person I’m running from is there in the whole journey.
And so, with that, I’m clearly not the one to take advice from in the area of ‘learning to stay.’ However, I do get the gunk and the yuckiness and the trudging through. I get that.
The answer of learning how to ‘stay,’ leaning into the discomfort, and trusting that tomorrow is going to be better than today is not a straight forward one. There are no easy answers. As much as I wish I could say, “Hey, take this pill, eat this thing, say this, and do this and you’ll be cured” I’m glad that I can’t. Looking back on the crap that I’ve been through in the past is what often what encourages me to move forward. It’s where I find a tiny spark of mojo, and grit.
In addition to looking back in order to look forward, I look to my people: my middle-of-the-night-know-my-darkest-fears-and-still-love-me-people. I say “Hey, I don’t know. This is hard. Can you help me? Will you encourage me to be the best me and go through the gunk?” I have yet to be met with a “no.” In fact, quite the contrary, the response is usually, “YES. I’ll stand with you. Let’s brainstorm how to ‘stay’ and own the feelings.” My people often remind me to go back to my core, to fall into the things that make me and make my heart happy. They tell me to go to yoga, to go paint in the studio, to go drink a second cup of coffee, to listen to new music, and to watch re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy.
It’s all a process. It’s a one-step-at-a-time-one-breath-at-a-time-moving-through kind of process. It’s a knowing that things will get better, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but they will get better. It’s about trusting in the process and that the universe is conspiring for your good. It’s a steadfast will for pushing for more. And in the end there will be more sunshine, more laughing, more joy, and more dance parties.
And so my dear PowerGirl, lean into the discomfort, lean in. Say “YES” to the gunk.

on practicing peace from within

It happens… someone does something or says something which triggers a reaction of anger, sadness, frustration, disbelief. Some times I am able to take a breath and let it go. Some times my reaction is tears or yelling, sulking or slamming doors. Some times I blame the other person, want revenge, or even blame myself. It’s all destructive. These are the moments that provide us with real opportunities to create peace, within ourselves and with others.

Life gives us so many chances to practice peace: just yesterday I had several interactions which let me exercise my peace muscles! I wish I could tell you that I succeeded each time, and I guess in some ways I did. It’s not that I was able to stop my reactions. I cried in frustration, I yelled in anger, I slammed a door to release my feelings. And then I breathed. I mean really breathed. With each breath I felt stronger and more curious and created a softer place in my heart. It takes pausing our own reactions to open up the space to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.


“I try to practice what I preach; I’m not always that good at it, but I really do try. The other night, I was getting hard-hearted, closed-minded, and fundamentalist about somebody else, and I remembered this expression that you can never hate somebody if you stand in their shoes. I was angry at him because he was holding such a rigid view. In that instant I was able to put myself in his shoes and I realized, “I’m just as riled up, and self-righteous and closed-minded about this as he is. We’re in exactly the same place!” And I saw that the more I held on to my view, the more polarized we would become, and the more we’d be just mirror images of one another—two people with closed minds and hard hearts who both think they’re right, screaming at each other. It changed for me when I saw it from his side, and I was able to see my own aggression and ridiculousness.”  (Pema Chodron, Practicing Peace in Times of War)

Yes, I let anger/hurt/frustration into my heart yesterday. Through breath work I was able to quiet my reactions and ask “what could be going on for the other person?” “what frustrations led him to this point?” “what does she need for her spirit today?” Working through those ideas kept me from hardening. These were simple every-day-type scenarios. On a larger scale, in times of conflict, it is this hardening that creates hatred and prejudice.  War happens because we harden our hearts against each other. Why do differences create fear and hatred? If we can put ourselves in another’s shoes, no matter how different, we can begin to understand and not feel the fear, hurt, and anger. Embracing understanding and empathy keeps those feelings from tightening our beings and yet practicing this openness in our everyday lives takes work and support.

It takes being aware of another person’s external signals. If I had noticed the tight jaw, closed fists and the lack of eye contact maybe I would have realized that there was an issue that happened before my interaction that perhaps had nothing to do with me. In the moment that my reaction created a tightening and hardening within me, I needed to concentrate on keeping my breathing steady. Seriously, try it! There are other times when these signals aren’t obvious. Perhaps it’s simply that you want something from someone who just isn’t getting it. Instead of hearing, “What can I do for you?” you hear “I’m too busy to give anything to you.”  The messages we play in our own heads can create a chain reaction that results in conflict.  Verbalizing our feelings of disappointment or frustration can seem self-centered or  judgmental. So we make assumptions and tighten up.  I shut down when this happens, which doesn’t give the other person the opportunity to hear me or help me. In addition, it means that I have decided that my needs are either more important or less important. The same result happens: it’s me against you… war. The way for me to keep ease within myself is to look beyond my self and into someone else. It doesn’t mean that my needs aren’t important or my feelings don’t matter. It simply means that we all matter and your needs are equally as important as mine. When I walk in your shoes, I invite you to walk in mine.


“If we want there to be peace in the world, we have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid in our hearts, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That’s the true practice of peace.” (Pema Chodron, Practicing Peace in Times of War)

on women and poverty

live below the line


Can you live on less that $1.50 a day?

1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 a day for all their needs. Women make up half the population of the world and 70% of the world’s poor. They are discriminated against in terms of education, opportunity and health care. They work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half the world’s food, but earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property.  It’s vitally important that we work together and address women’s poverty and inequality.

What can we do?

Educate girls.

50 million of the 72 million children currently not enrolled in school are girls. Two thirds of the nearly 800 million adults who lack basic literacy skills are women. The impact of educating girls is tremendous. It enables women to have a greater effect on reducing poverty in their communities as, within most communities, women are responsible for providing food, health care and education of their families.

The economic benefits of educating girls are:

•    educated girls have fewer children
•    educated girls are better able to care for their children
•    educated girls have better access to health care and information
•    educated girls practice safer sex
•    educated girls have better access to jobs
•    educated girls are more likely to send their children to school.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated:

“there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality. No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health – including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as powerful  in increasing the chances of education for the next generation. And I would also venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended.”

When women are supported with resources and political commitment, real change will happen. We believe it all starts with a girl!

Raising awareness of the need for universal education is a step we can take simply by using our voices. Let yours be heard! Another way is by publicly making a commitment to understand what it feels like to ‘live below the line’. The World Bank has defined the poverty line as living on less than $1.50 a day. What better way to understand extreme poverty than by spending just a few days living below the line.  From April 29-May 3 join us as we take the challenge to live below the line, feeding ourselves on less than $1.50 a day.

1.4 billion people on this planet have to make that $1.50 cover a lot more than food, but the Global Poverty Project and it’s partners are asking you to take this challenge as a means of really understanding the difficulties that too many people around the world face on a daily basis.

HOW DOES IT WORK? The Global Poverty Project’s Live Below the Line Challenge:

So you want to Live Below the Line, but you’re not sure what you’re getting yourself into. Ok, here are the basics:

From April 29th to May 3rd, you can spend no more than $1.50 a day on food and drink.

This means you have a total of $7.50 with which to buy all ingredients for your meals.

The full cost of all the items you consume must be included in your budget. This means budgeting for whole packages of food such as rice, pasta, noodles and eggs etc.

For items such as salt, pepper, herbs and spices, simply work out the cost of each item per ounce and budget your shopping proportionally. Separate your items before the challenge so there’s no need to be digging around in your pantry.

One of the easiest ways to partake in the challenge is to share the cost of ingredients amongst a team, as long as no participant spends more than $1.50 a day or their total $7.50 budget. Working as a team will allow you to pool together funds and do more with your cooking.

You can’t grab a snack from the pantry unless you include the cost of buying the item new in your budget.

You can use food sourced from your garden as long as you can account for the price of production.

No combination of meals on any given day can exceed the $1.50 spending limit.

Remember this is a challenge to eat creatively – don’t at any point deprive yourself of three meals a day.

You cannot accept ‘donated’ food from family or friends!

You are allowed to drink tap water – remember you should try and drink at least 6-8 glasses of water each day.

Are you up for the challenge?  Between now and Monday check our facebook page ( for recipes and support! We’re along for the ride with you. Bono said, “I can’t change the world. But I can change the world in me.” All it takes is some awareness and compassion. Imagine.

awareness + voice + action = change


on being wholehearted 3: joyfulness

“Joy comes to us in moments– ordinary moments.  We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.” -Brene Brown

I was on a business call today when the person I was speaking with told me about a recent conversation she had with an old acquaintance.  She said, “It was one of the best hours of my life!”  I think I stopped breathing for a moment.  What was I feeling?  I was taken aback by this thought that one of the best moments of someone’s life was… a conversation!  I loved it.  She’s accomplished much in her life, is well-respected and has an important job. She’s a mom, a daughter, a wife, a humanitarian.  And one of her best hours was simply a connection shared with another.

What brings us joy or a true sense of peace isn’t in the big showcase moments of our lives. Those are fleeting moments.  Joy is that thing that washes over you when you least expect it that makes you feel warm, lit from within, and hopeful.  As my friend Jeanne says, “What matters is crying until your eyes are clear enough to see goodness… everywhere.” Practicing compassion, feeling worthy, and being connected are components of wholehearted living,  which gives you a sense of joyfulness, even in the darkest times.  I was having a really bad day recently, the kind that makes you just want to go back to bed, curled up in a ball or engaged in some numbing behavior… the kind that makes you oblivious to ordinary joys.  Yet somehow, in the midst of my sad moment, I looked out the window and saw the sun light up a golden-leaved tree and the wind give her movement that was truly a celebration dance.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was such a vision of life– of warmth and expression, grace and light.  An ordinary moment made extraordinary.  And I realized that I felt joy.  I felt a surge of self-compassion and an overwhelming connection with the Earth, and I saw the goodness.

Another kind of darkness was revealed this week following the re-election of President Obama.  I have found it hard to handle the negative energy swirling around this country.  It seems that people are either really happy or really angry.  Personally I cannot feel joyful when the very vocal bitterness I have witnessed seems so absolute and determined.  How can we move forward as a country committed to peace when we are at war with one another?  I don’t believe that the ‘war against women’ or marriage equality or affordable healthcare can be worked through without a true coming together, or wholeheartedness fully expressed.  The issues we face must be faced together, with respect and courage, vulnerability and compassion, and a real willingness to think not just of ourselves, but of each other as well.  Celebrating our commonalities and understanding our differences with acceptance is truly the only way through the darkness.  Is it possible?  What will it take?  It will take peace, love, and understanding.  It will take a commitment to listen and to speak and to value each other.  It will take seeing the goodness.  It will take connection.

Oh, I just got a good feeling!  It feels like… joyfulness.  It’s not about chasing the extraordinary.  It’s about slowing down for an ordinary conversation, with the whole heart; a conversation and connection that fills us up and gives us ‘the best hour’ of our lives. There is infinite power in the light within each of us that comes from joyfulness.  This is the real strength, real power, that will effect change.  The change the world needs to see.   It starts with you.  And me.