Memorizing vs Learning

Hiya Everyone!

I had a light bulb moment this morning in the shower… let me back up a bit and explain the scenario, so that you can understand …

I am currently enrolled in classes to become a Health Coach. Not just any classes… I am enrolled in the Master Level Certification Course with the Dr. Sears Institute. This segment is 20 weeks and it is the “psychology behind change”. It’s called the “Master Level” for a reason. It requires each student to master the information.

Anyone can become a health coach, and many people are trained to motivate people, or are applying healthy principles in their lives…  It’s something that I have been doing for a bit… so, why not become certified? Right?

All of that aside… This course has been kicking my a$$!


One of my friends asked me about the classes a few weeks ago, my response? I am not loving it anymore. I really am not enjoying it and I don’t know why. She said she was sorry, and hoped for me, that I could find some joy in it.

I thought about that for a long time… I even tried to find the joy. I set aside my attitude and my dislike for certain parts… and I was faking the joy. I didn’t know how to find joy in something that I didn’t like.

I will be the first to tell you that I love to understand why things work the way they do. I will also tell you that playing a dime store shrink has been my side job for a long time… truly. So… why is this information not sinking in?? Why did I spend most of the day on Sunday in tears? Why??

This material is not designed to memorized… it’s designed to be learned and understood.

Those two concepts are not the same!!

Most of my life, I have been A.D.D, I memorize information and then just as quickly, I forget it… I study to pass a test, then most of the information is gone.

This course is not designed to be memorized.

I must learn it.

I must understand it.

I must know it.

That is what our instructor has been saying… “a deeper understanding.”

I did not pass the second exam. (This segment is broken down into trimesters, we are tested on each three separate parts.) I was so upset… I cried. I literally felt defeated and wanted to drop the course. I felt like the exams were designed to trip us up or trick us… I was throwing a huge pity party… I spent two hours on the phone with my sponsor. My eyes were swollen and I felt like such a baby.

I felt incapable.

She helped me to understand many things… the most important concept, was that society gives us rewards by praise, by grades and by acknowledging our work. I have been conditioned to “know my worth” in these ways. I have been taught to understand my feelings, by how you may feel about me. I feel better about me, when you appreciate me or the work I have done or am doing.

Let me repeat that… I have been conditioned to know my worth… by how you feel about me or the work I am doing.

My idea of finding the joy in this class has been by “passing”! Really… just passing is what I wanted.

I felt like such a failure… I have been studying my butt off and then… I fail. I have devoted so much time to reading each night. I have sacrificed time with friends and my husband to study. I show up each week, I do my homework, I do the required reading and pass the quizzes… then when I log in to take the 90 minute timed, open book exam… I BOMB.

I sent a nasty little review about the test and this past 6 weeks… I was ready to quit. If I hadn’t spent so much time and money already, I would have quit. That’s why I called my sponsor.

I needed to understand, if this was old behavior? Or if I was in over my head? I was asking permission, to just bag it.

She is a wonderful woman who gets me. She told me this information is hard. She uses motivational interviewing, compassionate communication, appreciative inquiry and all of the other information I am studying, each and every day. (She even uses it on me.) By the way, those are the books we are studying.

She told me that this information is not designed to be taken in an online class. It’s best learned by applying it and using the principles with other people. This is probably the hardest way to grasp the fundamentals of “Motivational Interviewing”. (Okay… so that made me feel a little less incompetent.)

She also told me that because of my conditioning, it’s going to be even harder for me to understand- Not impossible… just harder. (Okay… I am breathing a little easier … the tears are not from defeat now… they are from within… from someone actually seeing me.)

She then asked me, about finding joy in it. I still didn’t understand that concept. How could I find joy in something that I am failing? I was breathing easier, it all felt less personal.. but I still wasn’t sure.

I sent the instructor an email, I apologized for my harsh words in the review,  I asked for more information. I told her that I was contemplating quitting the class. I explained that I would never use the “certification” and wondered if it was possible to just take the rest of the class without having to take the exams. Yup. It is possible. But… she urged me to continue.

She said she has watched me in our break out sessions, she has watched my video’s and she knows that I will be a wonderful health coach. She also mentioned the fact that I got a 77% on my first try on the exam, that- shows that I do know most of the material. (We have to pass with an 85% or better.)

I am sharing this because I don’t think I am alone… This is a new concept for me… finding joy in something that I am not understanding… or not quitting when I feel defeated.

My instructor also pointed out that she knows I understand the concepts of motivational interviewing and if I stick with this last part of the class, it will all fall into line. Okay… what do I have to lose? By the way, my sponsor asked me that question.


So… moving forward… but… still trying to process and understand this.

All of this.

I had a conversation with another friend about the test, the class and not loving it. I explained the above scenario in detail… and how he could probably relate to my feelings… he was raised in the same way. He is a local person and he gets me…

He shared a story with me… he races mountain bikes. (Or fat tire, or dirt bikes… whatever he races… the point is- he signs up for a race and competes regularly, what he races is not important.) Anyway, he told me his favorite race of all time, was the one that he came in DEAD LAST. Seriously. He said that young girls and senior citizens beat him. He said, he wanted to quit. He wanted to- just- give- up. He wasn’t in shape, he wasn’t ready to compete…

He told me the story and painted a visual of the day. It was a super hard course and he hadn’t trained properly. He got around the first lap, mostly uphill… and saw his car in the parking lot. It would have been so easy to just keep going towards his car… He could ride over, pack up and head home.

But… he committed to doing another lap. He was really struggling. He finished another lap, then he realized that he could do the last… He knew that he had it in him, to finish the race.

When he finished, the was ecstatic. He was so happy that he committed and finished… he was proud of himself for not giving up.

I was flabbergasted. I asked, How in the hell do you find joy or happiness in coming in last place?? Honestly, it was making me anxious just thinking about it.

He told me that he kept hearing his dads voice. “Who are you competing with? The people who have trained for this? Or yourself?”

He said there was another race recently that he came in 7th out of 9th… and he felt the same way. It isn’t about winning. It isn’t about the grade. It isn’t about the people at the finish line who are throwing you a party… it’s about committing to something and knowing you have what it takes, to do it.

Dont stop

Just for today… I will suit up and show up. I am capable.

By the way, I did re-take the exam, I got a 96.5% on my second try. I don’t say that for an “atta boy”… I am saying that to show anyone who is still doubting… I got this…

And, so do you.

If you’re struggling today, if you are reading this and really don’t know why or how… don’t quit. Talk about why you’re struggling, chances are- you’re not alone.

Until next time, Peace and Love Peeps


Hiya Everyone!

So… in case you’re not up to date with the lingo of today, R.B.F. means resting bitch face.

It’s a term commonly used for a person who looks like they’re mad, scowling or a mean girl… But… it can also be a person who just doesn’t feel good about themselves, or isn’t in a good spot in life or, someone who is insecure. (Insert a picture of me here…) Say what??


If you know me well, you know that I do not like the spot light. But.. I will always coach you, on smiling with your whole face!

I will urge you to smile with your eyes! When my daughter was little, we used to practice in the mirror for a whole week before school pictures. I would help her to smile genuinely and not just with her lips. If your eyes look sad, and you have a big smile with your lips… it just looks fake.

Anyway, back to RBF. When I am nervous, in the spot light or caught off guard, I immediately go to RBF! My smile becomes sort of smile/smirk. I didn’t know this- until my daughter filmed me when she told me she was pregnant. I would like to tell you that I was elated, crying, super pumped… jumping up and down like every expecting Ramma would do… nope. I smirked. Yup… I didn’t even smile. I was so stinkin mad when I saw the video…

Recently I watched another video of myself at my step daughter’s wedding last summer. It was a gorgeous day in Northern Michigan, the setting was breathtaking in every way… almost regal. I was so happy for them both… to be included in the ceremony was an honor.

I was escorted down the aisle by my son-in-law, and he looked so dapper… I had a beautiful bright flowy dress… my shoes were sparkly and on point… but… My lips were tight, my eyes were sad and serious and I looked like I was going to punch someone, pass out or throw up. Seriously. My husband watched it with me… he asked- Why were you afraid to show your teeth? Ummm…. I don’t know.

The other moms had open smiles, they looked graceful and chic. They looked genuine and bursting with love. (I felt all of those things on the inside… but- I was unable to convince my face of this!)

Here’s the deal. The real deal. When I am nervous, I get serious. My nose sweats, I get a straight spine, because I am a yoga teacher… right?? (I used to roll my shoulders in… lol- its progress!) And, my face goes into RBF. Why??

I will tell you why.

When I feel vulnerable, I do this. I am afraid that you’re judging me. I am afraid that you’re talking about me, so I go into protect mode.

It’s not that I am a mean girl. Honestly… I am not mean. I just look like I am.

I put on my armour. I bring out the serious face, and then… you will know not to mess with me. But… on the inside, I am shaking. I am afraid.

So… the next time you see someone with this smirk. Or use this body language? Maybe instead of writing them off as a biotch… maybe, just maybe… you should go up to them and smile. Rub their shoulder and pay them a compliment. They may need you more than ever. Maybe they need someone to hold them up.

Instead of thinking we have each other figured out… sometimes we need to ask, Are you okay? You may be surprised… the tough exterior could just be a mask.

I just had a beautiful conversation with a friend about “the Canary story”. My mind went to a caged bird who will remain caged, even with the door open. The little bird will remain in the cage because it doesn’t believe there is anything better outside, of the cage. This is a story that I can relate too… Today, she told me another version.

The coal miners used Canaries to test the toxicity levels deep in the mine shafts. When they birds stopped singing, it meant the levels were too high and they all needed to get out. In today’s world, we have human canaries. When the life of a sensitive soul or human canary gets too toxic… they also stop singing.

singing canary

If you’re a sensitive soul, if you have lost your voice. I see you.

Find the ones who love and support you.

Find the ones who will sing with you.

There are always a few who will try to keep you trapped. There will always be a few who will try to show you that you’re not worthy of a song… when this happens, sing anyway. We will find you.

To all those who are suffering or those who need a song… I see you.


Sing on my beautiful friends… and SMILE, with your teeth, with your eyes… let your whole face shine. When you see the pictures or the video later, you won’t regret that smile… I promise.

Until next time, Peace and Love Peeps.



Holding Space…

Hiya Everyone,

I have learned recently that someone close to my family is really hurting. I am not going to share the details of this person’s journey… I will just say, I know this pain.

Holding space for someone means that I will walk along side them in the journey, without demanding anything. I will hold space in my heart for them, without an agenda. I will offer support and anything else they need. I will do this without needing details or offering a solution.

I remember when Paul was diagnosed with Cancer, there were some things I did to protect me.

  • I didn’t refer to the cancer as his. I tried to always refer to it separately, not like he owned it or let it define him.
  • I took what I needed from the Medical Community, My Spiritual Community, My Family, Friends, and God. I also let go of anything that didn’t serve me or my highest good, in that moment. (And believe me… that changed a lot!)
  • Sometimes I was strong and full of hope. Other times, I cried silent tears and felt like a child.
  • I made peace with the fact that if he died- He won. If he stayed- He won.
  • I lived in the moment of each day, trying to appreciate what was in front of me… without giving up hope of a cure.

There is a delicate balance in hope, faith and reality. My reality was I was holding on by a damn thread. I didn’t know if I was okay, going to break at any moment… or if I had exactly what I needed. I just didn’t know.

If you’re walking along someone in the same position… just hold them. Just allow them to cry. Don’t offer words of comfort… all of that stuff means nothing… just be there and allow them to do what they need to do in the moment. Tell them you love them. Tell them you won’t leave them, until they need you to go…

I allowed people close to me to support me, love me, hold me in prayer and be my guides. It was a daily commitment. It was hard. It was painful. It was beautiful.

My biggest fear was, what if they thought I was okay and left my side, and I wasn’t okay? It didn’t happen… they stayed. They are still with me.

Surrendering to the fact that no matter what, I would be okay.

Cancer support

These are all realizations from the journey…

I have said it before, I will say again now… The thing that felt the best to me in my sorrow, in my pain? Was when someone hugged me, told me that they were sorry… and that they loved me.

Today, right now… if you believe in prayer, or if you have some other way to connect to this family… I ask that you surround them in love. Please send all that you have… nobody should go through this without knowing they are loved.


Peace and Love Peeps.




Fraud Alert!

Hiya Everyone!

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with a bunch of women in recovery. Let me back things up a minute and explain some things…

I have been in recovery for over 20 years and I work a 12 step program. My drug of choice was alcohol. I wasn’t physically addicted to alcohol, I didn’t become an everyday drinker, but once I started drinking, I couldn’t predict how much I would drink.

Once I took the first sip, I lost control. I couldn’t predict if one would be enough, or if I would have to bring the bar home with me. My life had become unmanageable. I was facing jail, humiliation, loss of my driver’s license and so much more.

Today, I attend NA meetings. My journey began in AA, but after a few years, I switched fellowships. This is not a plug for either program- whatever A, you’re working- wonderful… rock on.

My experience is, NA deals with the disease of addiction- the obsessive compulsive behavior that drives us. The obsessive compulsive behavior that makes us lose control.

About ten years ago… I was working the AA program and met a few women from NA. They got together and had these really cool gatherings where they taught each other spiritual stuff. They learned how to fellowship, relationship and support each other. I had been looking all of my life, for these people. I immediately grabbed hold. I had found my tribe.

We met every few months and I learned so much. I was gaining confidence in me and my ability to become whole.

When these women gathered, I cleared my schedule and made myself available. They were mostly connected by sponsorship, and at one particular gathering, a few more people joined us. It was all fabulous. Until it wasn’t.

Out of left field, someone felt vulnerable. (Not one thing had happened… it was a series of small things. I guess it’s always the little things that we overlook, isn’t it?)

We had met at least three or four other times, same group plus a few others… but all of a sudden, someone felt uncomfortable. Also, because word was getting out, about our gatherings, more people wanted to attend. We had grown. In order to establish some boundaries or rules to protect the group, we decided to sit down and talk about what the future looked like for us.

Our trusted leader said that we should vote on how to continue from here on out. Well- it was brought up, everyone else was connected by sponsorship, and I was an outsider. They worked NA and I was AA. Now, things have gotten personal.

They decided to openly discuss options and vote about how to continue with the gatherings. There were tears, there were raw emotions and lots of feelings. Someone said- Gosh, if I do something that you don’t like, am I going to be voted out? They were literally considering in an open forum, whether I should be able to be there with them.

Everyone had the ability to be heard. Each one of us had an opportunity to talk or discuss what we felt should happen.

It came down to a vote. Does Denise, get to continue to be a part of the group? Will she be allowed to come to our gatherings? I must say, honestly… I wasn’t worried. As much as I didn’t like the feelings associated with this vote… somehow, it felt familiar.

Abandonment issues? Hmm…. (I gotta say, writing this, brings some awareness in so many areas. Perhaps I will share about those things on another day.)

Before it got down to an actual raise your hand, now- sort of vote, our leader said- ENOUGH! This is how it’s going to be, Denise is in. She fits and that’s the end of it. I had also agreed to switch fellowships and work the NA steps. That is how I ended up in NA.

I loved these women. They had become my family.

All of that being said, I now had a little armour up. How can you not? I knew in my mind who was on my side, and who wasn’t. Things changed. It was a new beginning and an opportunity to grow, if- I took the challenge. I did.

We met for many years like this, once or twice a year, and sometimes several times a month. Depending on who was celebrating clean time, and who was willing to plan a gathering. We watched plays together, we went to fine dining together, we stayed in condos, hotels and even at each others homes. We attended camping retreats and these women had my back in some of the most wonderful and the most painful times. I feel without them, I wouldn’t have survived the death of Paul… At least not clean.

I grew to trust these women. We really were a family. AA helped me to find myself and to trust the process. These women and NA have taught me how to live.

As the years rolled by… people moved, people left the fellowship, and our gatherings stopped. We would see one another at other events, but over time- our connections faded. I am super thankful for what I learned along the way… I owe them deeply for their support. I honestly feel like I grew up. I learned how to own my feelings, I learned how to express my feelings and I learned to feel safe.

SO…. now- back to present day. I have switched sponsors and have a new sponsorship family. My new family has similar gatherings. We meet in the Spring and the Fall. If I am being honest… Stepping back into the vulnerability has not been easy.

So, back to this past weekend… I have a sponsor- a woman who guides me in my step work and I admire her in so many ways. When I joined the family, I was without a home group. I hadn’t been working the steps regularly and even though everyone in the program thought I was a really spiritual person… I rarely connected in prayer or meditation.

I felt like a fraud. People looked up to me as this spiritual person. As a matter of fact, many people often introduced me as their “spiritual friend”, Denise.

I remember explaining to my new sponsor, “I didn’t ask to be put on that pedestal.” I felt when they defined me in that role, they put me on a pedestal. She explained gently, “People cannot put you somewhere that you are not willing to be.”


Talk about an eye opener… I guess I knew this.. but I didn’t really understand it, until just then. *I may explore this at another time… honestly- this is worthy of a separate post all together!

I remember the first time I went to this new retreat, I was in physical pain. I was feeling pretty toxic and very vulnerable. I have arthritis, and at the time, I was experiencing quite a bit of sciatica. I am a massage therapist who lived in pain for more than five years. I am a yoga teacher who has arthritis and never talked to her Doctor. I was 16 or so years clean… and felt toxic and depleted. Hence… the fraud feelings. This spiritual person that everyone sees… feeling depleted and not worthy.

I remember so vividly how vulnerable I felt. I felt naked. I felt like everyone was pointing a finger and whispering about me. (Not true at all… but I couldn’t tell my mind that.)

What I was feeling was real. It hurt. It was making me sick. It was keeping me sick. Just like depression can cause physical pain, so can many other feelings.

I survived the first gathering, and gladly signed up for the following retreat a few months later. Because I didn’t die… I thought maybe, just maybe… I could do it again. die image

The next time we got together, there was a small informal meeting and I felt like it was time to be honest. I still didn’t have a home group. I wasn’t spiritually connected, I was healing so many layers within, but I was trying to do it alone. I shared from my heart and I allowed everyone to really get to know me. I cried. I allowed them to really, see- me.

The strangest thing happened. Someone made a comment. (Which is rarely done when someone speaks, we try to not direct talk to them… we honor what they’re willing to share and may even share something similar to show them they are not alone- but rarely do we comment directly to them.) When one person made a comment, there was a little grumbling and maybe even some snickering or laughter… and then someone else made a comment.
SO, here I am… feeling vulnerable. Feeling like I was growing and wiling to share from the heart… and someone jabs at me. (Totally not how it happened… but again, this is how it felt. You couldn’t tell me any different. I felt like people were making fun of me for finally being honest.) I felt naked, raw and totally willing to close back up.

That’s my old behavior. Fight or Flight? Ya… I run. See ya… I am out of here. Most of my life, I would quit you, before you quit me. I would bail on the opportunity when things got tough. I learned very early that I didn’t have a voice. (Again, not true today… but as a child, this is what I learned.) I learned that I couldn’t count on people… I learned the very people who should love and protect me? They were some of the ones who hurt me…

I stewed about it for several hours and when we got together a few hours later at another little circle, I shared how I felt. I can’t even remember the language I used at the time, but I did tell them that it was uncomfortable and that I felt like they were making fun of me. Again, tears… lots of hugs… and even a few people who took it personal they felt like I was jabbing back at them.

This is exhausting. This stuff is painful. When you don’t learn this stuff in safe environment at an early age, you have to plow through it as an adult. Again… I wanted to run.

The group listened. They assured me that it wasn’t at all like I had imagined it. They even honored my feelings and agreed to remain quiet from now on when someone shares or speaks out in vulnerability. Even though I know, with all of my being… they wouldn’t hurt me, they wouldn’t intentionally want me to be in pain… that is what I felt.

SO…. that is a little snippet about how things got rolling in my new sponsorship group. Yikes- right?? To be honest, most of the time when we get together- things are wonderful. We grow. We nurture each other. We support and hold space for each other. That is why I love this fellowship and the women who are walking the journey with me.

The gathering this past weekend was planned a few months ago. We all agreed to bring food, we all speak out as to who is coming and who is not. We arrange the car pooling and mark of the dates in our calendars. I am looking forward to getting together and sharing, growing, and just being. (insert huge exhale here…… )

Well, about a week before it all plays out, I find out the rules have changed. (My rules… not anyone elses. I am sharing what it felt like for me, to learn that the “sponsorship retreat” was not just for or about our sponsorship family.)

This may not seem like a big deal to anyone else… unless of course… your name is Denise… and you had an experience years before with almost being voted out of a group with people who you loved and admired. Even though that was not going to happen… it brought back some old feelings. immediately, I began to feel “off”. My body aches. My back hurts. I am feeling chubby and bloated. I have been having headaches. This is me, when I am feeling vulnerable.

To top it all off, I had some words with my sponsor that didn’t feel real nice. I love and adore this woman. She has taught me so much and I know in my heart that she would never hurt me. But… in the moment. I felt like a little girl being punished for something that I had no control over.

I am a 53-year-old woman with over 20 years clean. I am working a spiritual program and I have healed from so much… but, in a matter of minutes- it’s all reduced to this. “I don’t know, if I want to go now.”

For the next few days I spoke to other people. I was able to speak about my feelings and hear how others felt. I even made some decisions for myself, to make it be okay. I decided to just tip my toe in the water and see if it felt safe. Instead of going to the gathering for the entire weekend, I would just go for the day. Try it out. I made plans and I pushed through the fear.

I even created a special time for those with the same fear to meditate and pray to connect us and move out of the fear. (That is huge… because honestly, I just wanted to be a brat and not go.)

Saturday morning, I arrived at the gathering. Guess what? It was wonderful. These women love me. All of them. Family or not… they are wonderful people. (When I say family- I mean connected by a sponsorship family tree…)

Today, I am okay. I feel like I am moving forward and when I can be honest about what I am feeling, I can work through it. When I push through fear, I am offered so many gifts.

Today, after I finished writing, I called my friend and also my sponsor to run this post by them… sometimes I just need to check my motives and make sure I am in balance. I needed someone who knew what the story really was… to read it and say it was okay. I didn’t want to give away anyone’s anonymity or step on toes…

Each of these lovely women gave me some pearls. My friend said it was wonderful to see me honoring my feelings. She told me that she was proud of me. My sponsor told me to not be so harsh on my self and that she was also proud of me. (While describing the blog to her, I said things like- I needed to put my big girl panties on… I needed to suck it up and trust the process… although those things are true… they are a bit harsh. I am learning to be a little gentler with myself for these things I am learning… )

Fear can be so paralyzing. It has trapped me many times… Just for today, I am more than my feelings, I am not defined by my past or by my imagination. I am safe. I am worthy… and believe it or not- So Are You!

Until next time, Peace and Love Peeps.

Expectations, Negativity and Change

Hiya Everyone,

So be honest with me. How did the title of this blog make you feel? Did it give you a bit of anxiety? Let’s chat for a second about that…

This past week, I have been dealing with a lot of negativity. It seems to be swirling around in the (Cough cough cough) “Spring Air.” If you’re in Michigan… you will get the joke, we woke up to snow again this morning. Soooo… that probably has something to do with my mood and the mood of my fellow wanderers.

I am enrolled in classes with the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, to become a Master Level Certified Health Coach. I finished my first segment in December of last year, and am officially a certified coach… we are currently learning “the Master Level Certification” which is a fancy way of saying the psychology behind change and motivation. This is how we as coaches bring about change. (There is that word again… change…)

As part of my weekly homework, I am reading four separate books, I record conversations with “clients” and practice what we are studying. (The books are Appreciative Coaching, Nonviolent Communication, Motivational Interviewing in Nutrition and Fitness and the Third Edition of Motivational Interviewing. )

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of information and I find it hard to focus and keep up. This week we are learning “Agenda Mapping” and our homework is an exercise that starts with a clean sheet of paper with some bubbles on it. (Not really bubbles- but ovals, designed to help us target an interest or topics that a potential client wishes to look at in their life.) Inside of these bubbles are the words Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition. Dr. Sears uses these acronyms to guide us L.E.A.N. So we ask a potential client many questions but the idea is to find which area they want to focus on first. (Insert ambivalent client here….)

Ambivalence can be defined as having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone. “I want to be healthy.” “I want to eat whatever I want, and not worry about fat, calories or carbs.” “I want to save money for a trip to Italy!” “I want to be able to shop and buy whatever I want, when I want it.” This pretty much describes all of us at some point… how many of us, are really ready- to do the work? How many of us are sick and tired of being sick and tired… but just can’t seem to nudge ourselves out of the funk. Now… let me reframe that question for you. How many of us desire change and are willing to explore some ways to get there? (Now we can use the bubbles to explore specific areas…)

This past week we had to ask ourselves a few questions and use a “wheel” to look at how our lives were either in balance or out of balance. The questions were designed to get us to look at many areas of our life. Social, Occupational, Emotional, Spiritual, Intellectual, Nutritional… etc. There were 8 categories. We looked at five statements in each of these areas, circled as many of them as we felt applied to us… then we used the wheel- as a visual tool, to see where we were strong and to see where we needed more work.

I didn’t understand the directions at first, I used the two tools separately. I answered the questions… or circled the statements that applied to me. Then I looked at the wheel and placed a dot on the wheel where I thought it applied. If you feel good about an area, the dot goes towards the outer edge, if you’re feeling not so good about an area, the dot goes more towards the inside. When I connected the first set of dots, my wheel looked like a cog in a watch.

Once I realized that I was supposed to take the statements and use them to apply the dots- my wheel looked more like a wheel. If you circled many of the five questions or all, then your dot went more laterally. If you didn’t circle any of the statements, then your dot was supposed to be more medial.

My point to this exercise? I thought my life was pretty out of balance. I thought I was a hot mess. I placed the dots initially to support what I thought I looked like. Blah. SO….. thinking I was a hot mess, led me to spiral in that mess. I allowed negativity and expectations to guide me. I felt stuck and without many options. I was playing the victim. My life was this way right now, because of _______________ insert choice here… hormones, lack of sleep, my husband, my schedule, my age, demands of other people, crabby friends… lol… You get the idea.

When I placed those dots, according to the statements my wheel only looked deflated in one area. Just one. Wow… why have I been so hard on myself? Why have I allowed myself to feel so out of balance?

Moving forward. Reclaiming my truth. I am not my emotions today. I am not my past. I have choices. Today I choose to allow the crazy to swirl around me… and not be it.


Until next time… Peace and Love peeps.

Different is okay…

  • Hiya Everyone!This week, I am writing from Florida! Thank you to my nephew Jordan for his generosity, we are spending 8 days in Kissimmee.

    One of the things I realized this week, is that we are all very different. Today, I know that different is okay.
    In some ways it’s not real noticeable, in other ways, it’s extreme.
    While unpacking our groceries, I almost felt the need to defend our purchases! While there were a few grimaces and wide eyes… our food choices were not to far off base.
    We realized right away that Tom and I are the “in between” people! We aren’t totally “real food/clean eaters”, but we also aren’t the average American shopper, either.
    We try to buy organic vegetables and meat, whole grain or sprouted bread, but we also buy creamer for our Starbucks coffee, coconut oil, real butter, sour cream, Greek Yogurt, organic popcorn and sometimes even pizza and Cheetos!
    So sorry for anyone who had an image of me in your mind- I am sure that I totally blew it- right? You probably thought that I ate salads and rabbit food all day, did Yoga, meditated and read spiritual books… Nope. Well, not today, anyway. (Although I did eat an amazing salad at Millers Pub for lunch today!) I have done one Asana Practice in five days… But… I have thought about it a lot- that counts- right?
    Social media allows us to showcase the highlights of our lives and to illustrate through pictures that our lives are so much more than they are.
    So for anyone out there who looks at someone elses life and thinks you know what’s going on… You may want to think again.
    This vacation has included three sick people. (Both cold and flu-like/food posoning symptoms!) Uber eats for smoothies. Cold cut wraps. Burgers. A surprise for me- my daughter and two grandsons, were able to join us! (Thanks again Jordan) Golf for the guys. Homemade pasta and potato salads. Uber eats for Pizza. Hot tub. Dice game. A little sunshine, a couple of nice walks, a good book, several hours of homework. an online class, a bunch of just sitting around chatting and some HGTV!
    Do you want to know what my idea of a perfect vacation is? Sunshine, falling asleep at night with waves in the background, ten minutes of daily sunbathing, five really good books, an umbrella to shield me from the sun so I can read those five really good books… and fresh guacamole. (If you could wave a magic wand and throw in a massage and pedicure- that would be the bomb.)
    You may not know this about me… but, I am not someone who drives when we go on vacation. Rarely do I get behind the wheel when we are out of town… driving in a city, anything larger than Traverse City- scares me. That being said… I love to go on long drives and am the best navigator you could ask for! I have GPS on my phone and will tell you what lane you should be in and how far before your next turn. I am a good co-pilot!
    We love long rides and exploring! We find the best little restaurants and unique places. On this trip, we found the “Historical District” of Kissimmee and a wonderful little Indian Restaurant!
    One of our other favorite things to do is to drive around neighborhoods using the “Realtor App”. We dream of owning a home in every new place that we travel too… it’s our thing.
    (So far, we can’t afford any… not even Sanford- near the airport!) We are amazed at the prices in Florida- 189k for a small simple style ranch home… in a rundown neighborhood!
    So, back to my original point of being different.
    As with any family vacation, people will say or do things that we don’t agree with. Maybe I will correct your child, maybe you will drink the last of the coffee… what ever the real or made up scenerio is… just imagine it now…. Okay- so my made up scenerio was that someone was mad at me.
    I know… hard to believe- right?
    Anyway, I sat for a long time in my head with my imagined version of what they must be thinking… After a little while, I realized that I had better things to do with my time. I honestly don’t know much time I had spent in that negative self talk. It was ridiculous. I imagined their response to my question… the jab… even my comeback to the jab…
    I am human.
    When I realized what I was doing… I made a decision to change. I made a decision to look at the situation with a new lens. Thank God for my 12 step program, it has taught me so much about looking within.
    When I am on guard or taking everything personal… something is wrong… With me.
    A wise woman told me- “Denise, you’re entitled to one asshole per day. If you bump into two, Go look in the mirror, there is always a third!”
    I am usually the problem.
    So.. how do I adjust? How do I not take it personal? What does that look like? Well, I usually try to see things from the other persons perspective and I create a story that allows, me – to not be wounded by the outcome.
    Here are a few examples…
    If I am upset with a contractor for leaving a mess? Or the guy in traffic for cutting me off? Or the waitress who rolls her eyes? I imagine them speeding home to meet the school bus, or to take care of a sick child. I imagine them just getting bad news about a loved one. I imagine her just getting yelled at by her boss or another patron… In short? I show the person- Grace.
    Grace is the easiest way to realign my head. It’s the easiest way to remove my old hurts from any scenario and to be a better human.
    Also… Being different is okay.
    We are all different.
    We communicate different.
    We eat different foods.
    My normal looks different from your normal.
    We all had different upbringings, so its normal to not be the same.
    And you know what? It’s all good. There isn’t a right way. There isn’t a wrong way. It’s all good…
    Different is okay today, I don’t need to swing everyone to my thinking, I don’t need to convince you that my toast is better, and I don’t care what laundry soap you use. If roller coasters and big water parks are your jam, party on. If you drink your tea sweet, I guess that’s okay too.
    There is a place for each of us. Period. I won’t take it personally if you don’t like mornings. I will use earplugs if you’re a night owl. I will order my own pizza- without pineapple, and I will pop popcorn on the stove for anyone who wants to join me.
    If you’re struggling to find what works for you, that’s okay too. Sometimes our normal no longer suits us. Sometimes we need to see what works for someone else and try that on for size. That has been the best way for me to grow and to change… I watch what works for you- then I adapt it to work for me. How am I ever supposed to know it’s possible? If I don’t see it in action? Thank you for allowing me to see you. I appreciate your vulnerability.
    Until next time… Breathe Deeply. You got this.


Friends don’t just fall away…

I have a BFF. Her name is Mary, and I call her Mar- pronounced like Mare. We became friends when her son dated my daughter in high school. I admire this woman… she was always dressed up, looked so professional and so put together. I had this whole story about who she was and what her life was like. (Please tell me that you do this too?!)

So, Mar and I have been friends for a few hundred years. Over the years, we haven’t always seen eye to eye. As a matter of fact, there have been some rough patches. I want to talk about those rough patches a little, to show you what is possible. Friends don’t just fall away…

During a track meet, where our kids were running, I noticed her in her vehicle sitting alone. I walked over and introduced myself. She asked me to hop in… so I did. Holy wow. Her vehicle was a mess. I mean- like trashed! She was such a busy woman that she lived out of her briefcase and her car. (I realized immediately that what I had perceived by her physical appearance, wasn’t what or who she really was… hmmm.)

I liked her immediately!

Her oldest son graduated a few months later, and I offered to help her set up and plan. I drove to their place and dug in. I realized that the image in my mind, once again was totally off! I am not a saver, I don’t like clutter or memento’s… Mar does.

She had graduation invitations from the previous year in her stack of “save items”… when she wasn’t looking they went on the big blue tarp! (I had set up a tarp in the middle of the dining room floor of things to throw away or burn.) We laughed and I talked her away from the edge several times… “No, it’s not a bad thing to throw away a picture… No, you don’t need that either… No, that magazine won’t get read- it’s already two years old…”

At a basketball game, a few months later, I introduced my new friend to my sister Kim. Mar told Kim how lucky she was to have two sisters! Mar grew up with three brothers. Kim shrugged her shoulders and said- “You can have Denise!”

And so it was… I became Mar’s sister. (We call each other Sista)

She introduced me to an old ex of hers, and I dated him for over five years. She said, “Wouldn’t it be great, if two of my best friends got together and made each other happy?”

In 2003, she and I opened a business together. It was a little coffee shop in our town… I adored this place. It was a cozy little place with brick walls, old hardwood floors, freshly painted walls, tin ceilings that were at least 12 feet high… Gosh- it had great energy. It felt old, yet not in a stuffy or dusty sort of way… it was comforting.

We played local music, had live music whenever we could and became groupies and followers of the “Earth Works Harvest Gathering”. (We had no idea who half of them were… but in our minds they were all of our friends!)

We were Strong Christian women with a dream to open a friendly little spot for our kids to work and our community, to gather. I was a Mortgage Loan Officer when we started the planning and she had a great job in management. During the planning phase, I lost my job. (I couldn’t keep up with the volume requirements at the loan office, and they were downsizing they let half of the staff go.)

We decided to continue to move forward and both agreed that this was a “God Thing”, because now, I could manage the place. We opened the doors in the early Winter months and had several months to work out the kinks of owning a business.

Things went south, immediately. We thought we could be different. We thought that our hearts were in the right place and we wouldn’t be like everyone else. **There is a reason that friends don’t go into business together. Whenever money is concerned, it’s not a good thing.

I remember firing her son, taking her off the schedule… and having very heated discussions about who was right. She worked very hard at her other job, and I worked very hard at the coffee shop. It was tough for her to hear all of the good stories and “feel goods” that I was experiencing and to not be a part of it. We struggled in every way.

Financially it was not going well. Emotionally? We were both a mess. Physically, we were both thin and stressed. I would feel like I wanted to throw up, have diarrhea, scream and cry… every time she walked in the door. I heard from several of our staff that she was talking about “our business” around town and in her church… I was secretly losing it.

I went to my parents and asked for advice. They had loaned me the money to get it started, and I needed someone in my corner. My dad asked me why I wanted to own a losing business? My mom said “Maybe it wasn’t God’s plan for you to own Baked Beans, long-term. Maybe his plan was for you to just help get it going.”

Okay… I could live with that.

I ended up walking away from the business in 2005. I couldn’t do it anymore. We had tried mentoring, counseling and had so many rough days. I remember telling her to get on that big old white hypocritical horse of hers and ride on out…

I walked away. Before I did. I wrote a letter to our staff. I told them that our friendship meant more to me than the business and it was time to just release it…

We remained friends. It wasn’t easy… but we worked through it. I even helped her the next summer by working for her! (I was not a saint here either… I had my circle of people… it was an ugly lesson.)

There was another time in this season, that I walked away… it was something silly regarding my relationship. I just felt like she wasn’t being supportive or that she didn’t have my best interest at heart. I told her that I didn’t think that friends should judge each other and I walked away.

Her husband refers to this time in our friendship, as the time that I broke up with her.

Then, my Grandma Clara died. I sang amazing grace at her funeral. I looked up with tears rolling down my cheeks, knees shaking… and there she was. She knew I needed my Sista. That’s what friends do… when it comes down to the nitty-gritty… they are there.

When Paul died, my fun friend came to the house one day when I was working. I had to paint, clean, and pretty much gut the house… Mar showed up in her usual happy way and announced that she knew, that I didn’t need her at this time… there would be a time soon, when I would need her and her hyper self… and she would be there.

I was crushed.

What the heck?

Several months later when we were driving to see our friend Kearney’s band play, I told her how much those words had hurt. I explained that I understood how much my sadness and grief was affecting her. I knew the reason she couldn’t be there for me- was that she had her own grief to work through and couldn’t bear to see me, her rock… hurt.

We cried. I asked her if the tables were turned, how would she have wanted me to respond to her grief? She said that she would’ve wanted me right straight up her ass.

I told her that’s right… that’s what friends do. I was sad that she didn’t even try to see if she could be what, I needed.

She understood. She thanked me for being honest. We remained friends.

Mary got a divorce a few years ago. She called and shared the whole messy story. I told her that my door was always open. We became roommates for a few months. It wasn’t easy- we had our moments… but it was wonderful to have her support in my healing, and to be a part of her healing as well.

One of our obvious differences, is that I am always early- and she is always late… We have tried to stay in contact and make girl night dates- but it’s not easy with two very busy people. Time is precious for us both.

We made plans for dinner and movies one weekend, Mary had to drive South for a meeting the next day- so my place was a good in between place… and we could have Sista time too! Dinner was going to be ready at 6:30… she text me at 6:20 and said she was just leaving work. I was so mad. I text her back and told her to not bother. I felt like she just took me for granted and was always running late or had no regard for my time. She heard me. She apologized and thanked me for letting her know how much it affected me… She has not been late since.

Things get sticky and hard… nobody wants to have these conversations. But, they are soooo necessary. I am a firm believer “We teach people how to treat us… If we don’t talk about the things that bother us… we are saying that it’s okay.” My friend Kitty, taught me that I can own my own power and speak my mind. It doesn’t have to be in anger, it doesn’t have to be loud. I can hold my ground, speak my mind… and it feels good.

A few years ago, my mom had a significant birthday. (70!!) We planned surprise party, and I invited my Sista Mar. She said would be there… then she didn’t come. I was so upset. I text her and told her that I was tired of always feeling like she wasn’t there for me. (Apparently I was still holding some residual resentments… It happens when I am not willing to look at my own part in a situation. If I am just bitching behind someones back… this is a good indication that I need to do some work.)

Mary asked that we have lunch and meet face to face. She said this was not the type of conversation to have with text or email. She was right.

I wanted to cancel so many times… but I didn’t. We sat across from one another over lunch and we talked. We cried. (not sure if she did… she is not the crier that I am…) It was so uncomfortable. I hated it. I didn’t want to listen to her reasoning. I just wanted her to see my pain. (Imagined and real!)

Mary shared something with me. She said every month, on her schedule is her “Sista time”. Nobody- interferes. Each month, she comes down for a massage and a sleep over. Her kids know better than to ask her for anything- this is her sacred time with me.

Her bible study groups know that if they plan something, they have to clear it with Mar and her schedule first.

I never knew this.

I didn’t know how she valued me and our time. I never knew how much she looked forward to our time. Gulp…

I told her that I was sad, I told her that I was mad. She understood. She told me that she has a problem with overcommitment and it was very hard for her to tell people, no. It happened that my mom’s party was the same weekend of one of her bible study groups outings. She couldn’t cancel them because they always clear the date to not interfere with her Sista time… I didn’t know this.

These are jewels… real precious jewels. We don’t get them, if we aren’t willing or able to work through the uncomfortable times tho…

In Dec of 2012, I had a hysterectomy. It was overdue, but I am not someone, who “Doctor’s well!”

My Sista Mar showed up at the hospital with this.


She walked in the room and said- “Sista, I got you a new Beaver!” Seriously… who does this? Mary does… that’s who.

Mar and I are still friends. Real friends. We listen. We comfort. We share. It’s not always pretty, but the things that are worth it, usually never are.

My friendship with Mar is unique… it’s special. I have learned so much from this friend and from our friendship… I am grateful that my sister Kim gave me to her….

Love you Sista!

Until next time,