What If…

What if I try something on the menu that I usually don’t order and I don’t like it as much?

What if I say “yes” and I can’t meet the commitment or feel too overwhelmed or anxious about it? I can be socially awkward and it can be uncomfortable meeting new people and being in new situations. I’m such a homebody that sometimes I feel like the dad in one of the sitcoms that said, “Nothing good ever happens OUT THERE!”

What if I change jobs and I realize that I was really meant to teach, that nothing would ever be as rewarding? Epic failure! My mom always said, “The grass isn’t always greener.” She used this phrase so often that she recited it in a condensed version and didn’t even complete the statement with, “on the other side.”

What if I do what I’ve been talking about for so long and minimize my life in a really big way? What if I buy a much smaller home and move out of the home of my dreams? The place where my husband, my kids and I share so many memories. It really is the perfect house for us!

Does this sound familiar?

But, WHAT IF we try new things and they actually turn out better than we expected? What if we embrace change instead of fear it? What if we follow our dreams and if they didn’t work out we didn’t see it as a failure, but as a learning experience? What if we found the good in new experiences even if they didn’t turn out as planned?

I’m not saying that everything new you try will be a positive experience,  and I’m certainly not advising you to quit your job and sell your house.  But if you’ve been thinking about something for a long time, and given it careful consideration, you might want to give it a try.

Everyone has a unique set of circumstances and it may not be feasible to make some changes for very valid reasons, including financial and family responsibilities. It may take years of planning to make big changes that would impact your life in big ways.

Is there something you’ve been thinking about trying for a while and just haven’t made the leap? What’s the worst thing that could happen? If you would be able to manage the different outcomes, then perhaps it’s time to try something new. New experiences make new memories.

After nearly two years of thinking and talking about downsizing and moving along the minimalism continuum, my husband and I bought a house that’s one-fourth the size of our current home. We’ll sell the home that we’ve so lovingly remodeled to fit us like a glove and start over on a much smaller scale.  It’s both exciting and scary at the same time.

But I am ready.

We gave this decision careful consideration. It would actually be better for us financially, the same distance or closer to loved ones, closer to work for my husband, but a little further commute for me. I decided it was worth the extra 20 minute commute.

Even though our new environment will be completely different, we will still have what’s most important and what really makes a house a home. We’ll have each other and the people in our lives that we love.

I will also be taking a few of my most favorite outdoor plants to our new home and transplanting them there. One of them is a rosebush with yellow flowers that my husband so thoughtfully bought me in memory of my mom. I dug it up recently to get it ready to transport, took the tag off of it,  and noticed the actual name of the rose is, “Scent From Above.” Seriously?

When I took a closer look at it I noticed it wasn’t doing very well. It didn’t appear to have any new shoots on it like it normally does this time of year. I feared it was dead. Just as I thought it might not have survived the winter, I noticed a separate tiny plant next to the main rosebush that was sprouting up from the ground beside the old one!

I dug up the entire rosebush, carefully separated the new plant from the old plant and put it in its own pot, ready to be transported to its new home. I felt a little sad that the original plant didn’t survive, but I was relieved and very grateful that it had yielded new growth before it died.

What if.jpg


Just like me, my rosebush has outgrown this place and is ready for a change of scenery. Just like me, it’s never been more alive and ready to begin anew, branching out from deep inside!

The new, not abandoning the old, but an extension of it.  A continuation of its journey after a long winter’s nap.

Is there something big you’ve been wanting to try for a very long time? What would it take to move closer to your goal? Or perhaps you just want to order something different on the menu. Go for it!


A Lesson in Self-Compassion

I don’t always see myself as others see me and throughout my life I’ve been my toughest critic. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized the deep extent of my poor self-image.

I have battled my negative self-talk as long as I can remember and I’ve learned to deal with it the best I can. I’ve been able to keep my feelings fairly contained, and, to my knowledge, no one saw past my confident, outgoing exterior.

The truth is, I wouldn’t treat a dear friend like I treat myself sometimes. With maturity, long-term loving relationships, becoming a mom and a successful teaching career, I have developed a fair amount of self-confidence, but this didn’t really translate into self-compassion.

The real impetus that put me onto the path of self-compassion was when I Iooked in a mirror and uttered, “I hate myself.” Out loud. In front of other people. And there it was. I had just had a difficult conversation with a friend that I really cared about. The conversation didn’t go as planned, at all, and I felt as if I really screwed up.

I’ve read that shame can’t survive the light of day (Brene Brown). That, once we talk about our feelings and shine a light on them, they tend to have less power and control over us.

In my case, this  vulnerable moment was just what I needed to begin a process of healing and learning about the importance of self-compassion. Even though this was a very difficult time, I’m grateful that it’s brought me to where I am today.

“When we give ourselves compassion, we are opening our hearts in a way that can transform our lives.”

– Kristin Neff

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Being our authentic, imperfect selves makes us more relatable to others
  • People tend to be more comfortable around us when we are honest about our shortcomings
  • Negative self-talk does not motivate us to do better, in fact it has the opposite effect and can cause depression and anxiety
  • Self-compassion and forgiveness helps us to be more compassionate and forgiving towards others
  • Setting boundaries in our lives is an act of compassion, since when we fail to do so, we end up resenting others (I love this one!)

I’m happy to share what I’ve learned and excited to continue my journey!

I just signed up for  an e-course with Brene Brown and Kristen Neff on self-compassion. Brene’s  work and her words have been so helpful to me. I’ve read several of her books and taken one of her e-courses. She’s smart and compassionate, and her work is research-based, which really appeals to me. You’d think I worked for her (I wish!), but I’m just a fan!

Here’s the link for Brene Brown’s courses if you are interested:


Take care and Be All There!





Self-love or self-compassion seems to be the best kept secret to happiness.


I’m slightly embarrassed to admit it, but I never really gave much thought to the importance of self-compassion. I mean I’ve heard the expressions, “You have to learn to love yourself before you can love anyone else”  and “If you don’t love yourself, no one else will,”  but, it never  dawned on me that this was a “thing” until recently.

From what I’ve learned, it’s a pretty big “thing!” As mentioned in my previous post on vulnerability, things don’t always go well when we put ourselves out there. When we are reminded of our imperfections, we must treat ourselves with compassion.

I would say that in general, I like myself. I think I’m a pretty good person and I’m as kind as I can be to others. Isn’t that self-love? After all, if I paid any more attention to myself, I would just be conceited, right? I guess I’ve been focused on others and how to draw my attention outside of myself. Not anymore.

How do we treat ourselves?

When I really took stock of my negative self-talk and how unforgiving I can be with myself, I realized that I am my own worst critic. As painful as it is to admit, I’ve even felt hatred and shame for parts of myself.

I didn’t realize how damaging this could be until I read Kristin Neff’s work  on the subject(selfcompassion.org).

Dr. Kristin Neff says that there are 3 core components to self-compassion:

  1.  Self-Kindness
  2. Common Humanity
  3. Mindfulness

To practice self-compassion we should treat ourselves with kindness rather than harsh, self-judgment, understand that our imperfections aren’t “abnormalities” that separate us from others, rather they are part of the shared human experience, and identify and accept when we are suffering in order to give ourselves the compassion that we need.

Although we may think that being self critical of ourselves actually motivates us to do better, Dr. Neff’s research actually shows the opposite.

Self-criticism actually undermines motivation.

This concept really intrigued me and gave me hope that I had the power and the understanding to change my negative thought patterns!

You can read about it in more detail on selfcompassion.org  if you’d like, but Dr. Neff explains that being self-critical actually causes a fight or flight response (the threat is to our self-concept) where we attack the problem, which turns out to be ourselves!

She goes on to say that, “Self-compassion has been connected to decreased depression, anxiety and stress,  and greater happiness and connectedness with others!” Yes, please!

Self-love = Overall Mental Health

With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.

~Kristin Neff

Self-love is not about being self-absorbed or narcissistic, its about self-preservation.

Let’s show ourselves some love!



It’s been 18 months since my unraveling, I mean, since I began my journey of self discovery, and I made it my New Year’s resolution to pause, reflect and regroup in January. I felt a much needed break would give me an opportunity to learn more about where I might want to venture next.

Here’s what I’ve learned that keeps me less stressed, tired, anxious and depressed and more happy, confident, energetic and excited about life:

  • simplifying
  • presence
  • gratitude
  • intention
  • setting boundaries
  • nature
  • writing
  • eating a plant based diet
  • fitness
  • meditation
  • yoga
  • perspective taking
  • not taking things personally

I feel like I’ve come a long way and have experienced some real growth and lasting, positive changes.  This month I decided I was ready to learn more and dig a little deeper. That yearning brought me to Brene Brown and her Living Brave e-course (brenebrown.com).

One of the cornerstones of her philosophy and research is vulnerability and, although it takes tremendous courage to be vulnerable, the potential for growth and connection is profound.

Sounds pretty intense, yet my response was, “Sign me up!” Perhaps deep down I knew that this was exactly what I needed.

The courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead.

We often look at vulnerability in others as courage, but inadequacy in ourselves.

~Brene Brown


I’ve noticed that when I’m vulnerable, more often than not, others feel comfortable enough to do the same with me and this creates a real sense of shared humanity. A real human connection. These interactions really fill me up.

I went to the dentist recently for a routine cleaning and was greeted by a hygienist whom I’ve never met. My appointment wasn’t with her, it was with my regular hygienist. With my regular hygienist, I knew how the appointment would go. She wouldn’t use that excruciatingly painful water pick, she would compliment me on my dental hygiene and we would talk about work, our husbands, our homes and our pets. Sounds silly, but some days sitting in her chair I could actually relax.

Apparently there was a last minute change and my hygienist couldn’t make it in that day.  When I realized this complete stranger wasn’t just showing me to my room and was actually going to clean my teeth, I went into a full blown fear-of-the-dentist-anxiety state of mind.


I instantly formulated two options in my brain, I could leave and reschedule or work through my anxiety and just get the appointment over with. I decided on the “big girl” option, it was unpleasant at best (she used the painful water pick AND tutored me on the proper flossing technique the entire time), but I made it a point to speak with the receptionist after my appointment and request that I be contacted prior to any changes in the future.

As I approached the receptionist, I became nervous and doubted what I was going to say. I was afraid I would seem silly, demanding or worse yet, a little unstable. I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and work through my vulnerability, unsure of the outcome.

Boy was I glad I did. As I began to politely and calmly share the anxiety I felt due to a change in hygienists without advance notice, and the fact that I would like to be notified of said changes in the future, something unexpected happened. Instead of an annoyed, judgmental reaction,  I received one of understanding, kindness and compassion.

The receptionist repeated over and over again that she completely understood and then went on to share her own story of her recent health issues, her experiences with a variety of health care providers and how unsettled and anxious she feels when her appointments change or don’t go as expected.

I left feeling completely understood and respected. Not at all what I had anticipated. We had shared a sacred space called common humanity and, rather than feeling abnormal, I never felt more connected.

If you decide to let your guard down, put yourself out there and allow yourself to be more vulnerable, it takes courage, since it may not always work out. Brene Brown cautions that we must be mindful of when and where we are vulnerable and who we decide to share with. A crowded office party after a couple of beers is definitely not the right time or place.

Only you can decide if you’re willing to take that risk. So far I’m one for two, not a bad average.


Grateful Longing

Can we feel gratitude and longing at the same time?

I had a mix of emotions this morning. As I walked through my home I was feeling extremely grateful. I’ve paired down what I have so that my most favorite things are clearly on display. Pictures of people I cherish, cards from loved ones, items that represent past family vacations and several things that belonged to past generations. These things bring me such joy!

I’m so grateful for the deep love that I share with family and friends and the meaningful life that I have.

I carried this feeling outside with me as I walked my dog (SO grateful that he’s healthy at 17 1/2) into the crisp autumn air. Thinking about my intention this winter to get outside more despite really disliking the cold, even the cold didn’t deter my grateful feelings.

Funny how a simple sound could bring on a wave of sadness. As a dove fluttered from branch to branch I instantly thought of my dad and my mom. I really miss them.

My dad raised homing pigeons and I was around the sights, sounds (and smells) of them my entire life. Doves are white pigeons and so hearing them squeak as they flew from branch to branch brought back a wave of memories and emotions.

I looked up into the trees so grateful for all the years I had with my parents, yet longed to spend time with them this Thanksgiving. As the tears rolled down my cheeks and I glanced down at my dog, I noticed a tiny feather floating down from above. As I caught it in my hand, I smiled, grateful once again. Thanks dad!

Grateful Longing

May you all feel grateful even as you long for your loved ones this Thanksgiving.

Peace, Love and Presence,


Silver and Gold

“Make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.”

My mom used to sing this to me as a child when I would go crying to her with friendship troubles. Be it hurt feelings, confusion, not sure where I fit in, feeling left out, jealousy, or a variety of other emotions, my mom usually had the same advice:

“Keep the peace, keep the relationship.”

Since we were changing so quickly, getting our emotional bearings, and our lives with our friends were so intertwined on a day-to-day basis when we were kids, I could see her point.

As adults, we may be experiencing some major changes in our lives. A new job, divorce, marriage, grief, an empty nest, a big move or retirement may spark a personal journey inward.

Perhaps you are on a journey to slow things down, be more present, and discover (or uncover) your authentic self. An unexpected result of living with “wholehearted authenticity” (Brene Browne), presence and simplicity may be a shift in our relationships.  They may fizzle out or crash and burn, or some may even deepen. You may also find that you are making some new connections as the result of the new you!

For those relationships that aren’t working for us anymore, it’s difficult to follow my mom’s advice and continue to maintain them on some level. We have a finite amount of time, we don’t live close to many of our friends and we’re trying to simplify our lives, not complicate them. But it may also be difficult to let them go.

If you’re having difficulty letting go, these 6 things may help:

  • Know that if it isn’t working for you, chances are that it isn’t working for the other person. As we grow and change, so do our relationships.
  • Refrain from trying to find fault and blame to make a case that it’s not working, just let it go.
  • Be honest, loving and compassionate with the other person, and yourself.
  • Forgive. This may take time, but forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
  • Know that you did the best you could while in the relationship. No one is perfect.
  • Moving on does not constitute a failure. Be grateful for all that you have learned from the relationship.

I just finished reading Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, and his words have helped me develop a sense of freedom in my personal relationships. I highly recommend his book!

Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements:


I hope this helps you create a sense of freedom in your relationships and it gives you the courage to continue to do what feels right and to release that which doesn’t quench your soul.

Peace, Love and Presence,


Love, Light and Positivity (Mostly)

How do you know that being all there is actually working and having a positive impact on your life?

Personally, I’ve noticed that I’m less anxious and more plugged into life and people, in general. I’m more patient and I feel that I’m able to focus more on people’s good intentions rather than get frustrated by some of their behaviors. A few days ago I was checking out in a craft store and before I knew it the cashier rang me up, my husband swiped his card to pay, and the transaction was over. It was actually TOO FAST for me!

Not too long ago the world was moving way too slow for me. Cashiers, drivers, the internet, the workday, etc. just weren’t fast enough.  I was so taken with this realization that  I didn’t even mind that I didn’t have time to present my teacher ID to receive a discount. I’ll be prepared next time!

I’ve noticed that I have some periods of time when  I’m able to focus on the present, incorporate my self-care routine regularly, and I feel pretty positive. But there are also times when I have to work extra hard to stay on track and not get dragged into the past or carried away by the future, especially when there are several different factors present that can potentially impact me negatively.

Beginning of Fall

I went back to work recently, had to say goodbye to my summer vacation and all of the time spent socializing that I cherish so much. The weather will be getting colder soon, the days shorter, and I’ll feel less inclined to spend time outside. I’ve noticed that I’m dwelling more on personal relationships and hurt feelings (yes, I’m still sensitive). Rather than surrender to these feelings, I’m choosing to do the best that I can to continue to use what I’ve come to realize are my coping skills.

I can really identify with this quote from an article I read recently by Bhava Ram:

“Negative emotions are like splinters. They pierce your consciousness, inflame your mind, and consume your thoughts.” – See more at: http://www.chopra.com/ccl/how-to-cultivate-positive-thoughts-in-negative-situations#sthash.85NkWkx6.dpuf


I felt pretty overwhelmed and emotional yesterday, but instead of sleeping all day, I lit a candle, did some yoga, went for a run (and then took a nap). I was really tired! Even though  I’m finding it more difficult to be present, I’m still meditating, journaling, reaching out to others, practicing forgiveness (and asking for forgiveness, when necessary) and eating nutritiously, because I know  from experience that these things will help me feel the best that I can.

Yoga Space

Even though I’m not full of love and light lately, I’m mostly positive, and that’s good enough for me!




Easy Guided Meditation

Meditation may be challenging at first, but keep trying and it will get easier! I’ve been talking to many friends and family members about the benefits of meditation and I know from these conversations and personal experience it’s not easy to get into it, at first. Here are a few articles I think may help, as well as my guided meditation audio (reposted). Feel free to add some background music if you’d like. Find what works for you and give it another try. You’ll be glad you did!


Be All There


Meditation is part of my self-care routine and I try to do it every day. I find that it’s very calming and centering and it also helps me to be present at other times during the day. Over time I’ve been able to put some space between my thoughts andreactions, so I’m much less impulsive and more clear-headed.

There are definitely days when I fall short of my daily meditation goal, but a change in environment doesn’t deter me, since meditation can be done anywhere. I have a favorite spot at home, but I’ve also meditated in a parked car and on vacation! All that’s needed is about 10-15 minutes and a comfortable, quiet space. I use the timer on my phone to signal when I’m done so I don’t have to worry about watching a clock or wondering how long it’s been.
When I first started about a year…

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Minimalism 101

  • A trend in sculpture and painting that arose in the 1950s and used simple, typically massive, forms.
  • An avant-garde movement in music characterized by the repetition of very short phrases that change gradually, producing a hypnotic effect.

If you’re new to the idea of minimizing or need a gentle push to get back on track, here are a few simple things that can get you moving in the right direction.

These days, we’ve come to know the term “minimalism” to mean simplifying our lives to reduce the time we spend focusing on the things that don’t matter, to create more space for the things that do. Minimizing our lives can “produce a hypnotic effect,” or presence. It can help us Be All There.

It’s so much fun hearing about your experiences with minimalism and how it impacts your lives! You’ve commented that this gradual shift in mindset is simple, fun and rewarding!

What I’ve learned so far about minimalism has come from a few difference communities, such as, Courtney Carver’s http://www.bemorewithless.com, Tammy Strobel’s http://www.rowdykittens.com, and Joshua Becker’s http://www.becomingminimalist.com.  They have inspired me to embark on this journey and to share it with you here and I’m so grateful to them!


As I simplify my life, and make more time for meaningful relationships, here’s what’s been working for me, and what I hope you find useful:
1. Minimize Your Stuff
The One-In-One-Out Rule
This was a game changer for me. What this basically means is that, before you buy that tank top, pair of pants, new bag, or tool, get rid of a similar item that no longer serves you. This will immediately halt the influx of more stuff. By following this basic rule, you will stop the momentum and begin to raise your awareness of what you actually have and what you really NEED. You might also find that you have more time for how you actually WANT to spend your time. I still get kind of giddy when I think about when I first realized how simple and rewarding this could be. I wrote about it here http://beallthere.net/2015/04/25/live-more-with-less/
Get Rid of Things That Don’t Serve You Anymore
This came fairly easy once I realized I was holding onto some real junk! Go through your clothes, housewares, personal care items, tools, gardening and home office items, everything, and really look at it. Get rid of old, ripped, stained, chipped, expired, duplicate, broken, stretched out, ill-fitting, items. If you’re like me, you’re holding onto some really old things and you don’t even know why, it’s just that you never thought to get rid of them. This will take time, so be patient, and I’ve found that I go through cycles. I discard things that obviously need to go, live with what’s left, then dig a little deeper next time, if it feels right. I took this opportunity to upgrade in a few areas. I got rid of my old, pitted, stained plastic storage containers and replaced them with glass storage containers, something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I gave away 6 bags and got two good quality ones. They are versatile enough to use for many occasions and, since they are of good quality, they will last a long time. We’re worth it!
Use What You Have
If you have things that are nice, use them! If you’re like me, you’re saving the “nice soap”  and that luxurious hand cream for someone really special. We all deserve nice things and if you have them, use them for yourself and your family! Since I started this journey, I haven’t run out of  nice soap yet! I’ve also found that I buy new shampoo and conditioner before I run out of my old stuff, therefore, I have several almost empty bottles in my shower. If this sounds familiar to you, I urge you to use up what you have BEFORE buying more. I experimented with this and I had enough shampoo and conditioner in those almost empty bottles that lasted for a few months! Using what you have is a great way to minimize your stuff and save money. Why hang onto it if you’re not going to use it?
Luckily, my husband has fully embraced minimalism, but, if your family is not yet on board, just focus on your own stuff. I think you’ll find that you’ll create an interest in what you’re doing, and other family members will find it as exciting as you!
2. Minimize Your Screen Time
Unplug to De-clutter Mentally
This was a big one for me. Since we tend to carry our phones around with us, we can constantly search and connect, but it doesn’t mean we have to. It’s our choice as to how we set boundaries and integrate technology into our lives.

I chose to stop checking work email at home, to limit my time on social media and to continue to choose interacting with people around me rather than getting lost in my phone.

Instead of constantly checking Facebook, for example, I check it 2 or 3 times per day. I realized I didn’t miss anything. I’ve stuck to most of these boundaries, but, I have to admit, I need to do another social media cleanse since I’ve gotten off track with this.

When I limit my screen time, I’m more present for myself and those I love. I’ve always said that we are not designed to take in and process the huge amount of information that technology provides. It’s overwhelming and stressful. Limiting my screen time created more calmness and focus in my life and I think it can for you too. Give it a try!
3. Make More Time for Yourself and Others
LIVE more with less.
Making more time for myself and the people who I love is what this journey is all about for me.  I’ve been working on putting myself first, which doesn’t come naturally for me.
Over the last year, I’ve realized that, in making self-care a priority, I am better able to Be All There for my family and my friends. It’s not always perfect, but I do my best to make time for what I enjoy doing, and I realize that I don’t have to say yes to every invitation. If I get off track with my self-care routine, I do my best to get back on track with compassion towards myself. 
At first, I thought that this would limit my social interactions, but I’ve actually found the opposite to be true. With less focus on stuff and more focus on relationships, I’ve found myself reaching out and connecting with people more than ever!
I’ve realized that everyone isn’t for me and I’m not for everyone, and that’s really OK. I just want to fill my life with people and relationships that I connect with. Read more about my self-care routine and how I’m not everyone’s cup of tea here: https://beallthere.net/2015/03/15/my-cup-of-tea/.
4. Keep It Simple
Trust your gut.
Keep it simple and do what works for you at your own pace.  I’m de-cluttering and eliminating things gradually, in stages or waves. What works for me is to minimize my stuff to a point where I’m comfortable, live there for a while, then revisit to see if I can eliminate more stuff. It’s working! 
I recently attempted to create a self hosted site for my blog, and spent two days, too much money and too much time on live chat trying to set things up correctly. 
This created so much stress for me that I took a step back and thought about I was trying to accomplish. I wasn’t even sure what self hosting would even add to what I was already doing and what I really wanted was to have my own domain name, something that reflected what I wanted to share with you.  I realized that this was way too complicated for me at this point and decided to stick with what I have, for now. It’s simple, I understand it, and it works for me. 
I hope that you’ve found this information useful and that it helps you to Be All There!

Passion for Presence!

I’m excited to share my passion for presence with you and I’ve changed the name of my blog to reflect this passion.

After my last post, I realized that I was very passionate about what I had learned over the last 10 months, and I wanted to share it here with you. I have been writing this blog for a few years now and it has been about many different things in my life.

All along I was searching for something that I could offer you, a way to be of some help to others. Little did I know that in helping myself, I had learned how I could help others.

I think we all strive to be present in our everyday lives. The busier we’ve become, the loftier that goal may seem, but I’ve learned that there are several ways to Be All There for our families, our friends and ourselves.

There are many pathways we could take to being more present, but for me it’s been a gradual process of integrating several different things into my life. You can read about what I’ve been doing here https://beallthere.net/2015/06/20/be-all-there/.

What I’ve learned from personal experience is that it can be done and it feels great! I’ll share what works for me (and what doesn’t) as I continue my journey. I hope you’ll join me!

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment and share your experiences with what works for you to Be All There.