An American Princess

It’s been a week since the royal wedding, even longer since I’ve written here and I thought it was time for an honest update.

The contract for my last job ended in October. That put my already strained finances under even greater pressure. Putting money towards donations or hours towards volunteering instead of earning money got more difficult. And if you have been unemployed for a long time you’ll be able to understand the amount of self-care is needed to just keep going. It’s been challenging.

It feels like it has pushed my dreams further away and nothing echoed that more than the royal wedding. I love weddings and have a secret addiction to watching cute proposal videos online. I just love LOVE and these two clearly love each other. I also respect HRH Prince Harry for all that he’s done with the Invictus Games and speaking about mental health through Head’s Together. So I got up semi-early (not in the middle of the night, thank you DVR) and made scones and sat down for all the pomp and circumstance. It was beautiful.

But as I watched Meghan and read the coverage the following days I couldn’t help but feel a bit envious. She had made from California to royalty. She had made it on her own, dealt with family issues, and fell in love in her thirties and all of a sudden it’s her full-time job to be a philanthropist. It’s her job to raise awareness for causes important to her. It’s her job to sit front row and cheer at the Invictus Games. It’s her job to give medals to charity runners at the London Marathon. My heart pangs for a job like that.

There are tradeoffs, she has to wear pantyhose now, no bright nail polish, no more shellfish, she had to shut down her blog, no more social media, lots of paparazzi, and she can’t volunteer quite the way I can, really getting in on the ground level. But the tradeoffs seem small for a dream job. All jobs have tradeoffs after all.

I’m careful to say envious, not jealous because I don’t want what she has, I want my own life and my own path. I know that if I keep working I can be a philanthropist too. I don’t have to be Melinda Gates or the Duchess of Sussex or Michelle Obama if I only turn the envy into inspiration.

And that’s how you get through the hard times, you take the setbacks and envy and sadness and you look for the inspiration. Then you look again. You keep finding the inspiration until you get somewhere. You never know when your life will suddenly be that fairy tale you’ve been working towards.

I can raise awareness for causes that are important to me. I can volunteer at the Invictus Games. I can receive a medal running for charity at the London Marathon. I don’t need a prince to become my own kind of American Princess.


The Silence Breakers

Time Magazine just announced their person/people of the year – The Silence Breakers

It’s a unique time and the cover choice shows that. I can only hope that the silence is actually broken, like into a million pieces can never be put back together broken. It takes so much courage to share these kinds of stories and I’m glad that it seems like as a society we’re starting to listen.

I hope we keep listening, I hope we’re ready to show up for the hard changes that some people have to make. This situation does bring me hope for a different future.

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)  – Has been doing the work and supporting people since 1994.  If you need support or if you’re looking for a great organization to support RAINN is great.

What do you think about this movement and Time’s choice?


Countdowns and Starting Fresh

I love advent calendars, always have. There’s something fun about marking the days with a little surprise treat. I even used to have one for my dog. I’d ring a little bell and she’d come running while I pulled off another tiny milkbone, it was very sweet.

Shortly after advents come New Year’s resolutions. Making a commitment on a certain day to change something for the better, give something up, start something. A chance to start something new and fresh. This tradition doesn’t suit me quite as well, when I decide to make a change I tend to just do it.

But whether these are some of your favorite traditions or not, I think it’s worth taking a look at them and why we do them.

So why do we give ourselves treats for most of December and decide that January 1 is the perfect time for big life changes? Because that’s why! It’s because we’ve all gotten together and decided as a society to assign these meanings and tasks to these days. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that and it’s been that way for a long time.  But my thought is maybe we should change our life on any day we want and give treats and surprises whenever and make it about what works for you not the date on the calendar.

The holidays are a time for joy but also often a time for stress and pressure. Sometimes the pressure is good. Sometimes telling people that you plan to exercise three times a week for your New Year’s resolution helps you stick to it. But I think it’s important to find ways to get rid of any excess or unnecessary stress, especially this time of year, it gets in the way of all the joy! So if you want to start working out three days a week, why not start today? December 1 is just as good of a fresh start as January 1. If your holiday list is getting to be too much and you haven’t gotten your advent calendar yet, buy it on sale and start opening the windows on February 1. A little chocolate for 25 days in February seems like a fun idea to me. Last year for Cyber Monday I bought a workout plan and started right away because I didn’t want to wait six weeks.

What I’m trying to say is these are two great traditions for celebrating each day and kickstarting something new in your life but they don’t have to be once a year. We have the chance to celebrate and start fresh every single day!

What do you think of these traditions? Tell me about them below! I’m off to buy my advent calendar.


Tis the Season of Giving

In one week it will be Giving Tuesday, another day added to the list of ways to spend your wealth over this holiday weekend along with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. While I appreciate the smart marketing minds that came up with this I’m going to put out my words of pause.

Thanksgiving at its heart is about gratitude, it’s about joy, it’s about being with those that you love. But in 2017 there’s something else that it’s become about – pressure. Get the deals before their gone, be happy eating all the food you’re supposed to love, and after all that don’t forget to give to charity. It’s a lot of pressure to fit into the holiday weekend.

So here I am to tell you; this pressure isn’t real, get rid of it! Take a minute to take a deep breath, take a moment to yourself and refocus on gratitude. Scream into a pillow, take a walk, do whatever it takes to turn off the chatter about what you’re supposed to be doing this season. I know that’s easier said than done but it’s certainly worth a try for your own wellbeing.

Now that you’ve taken the focus off the shoulds you can take a look at what you want. If you need something and it’s going to be on sale on Black Friday – go for it. If you appreciate your family and/or friends – enjoy spending time with them on Thursday. If you have money to spare in your budget and a cause you’re passionate about – donate on Giving Tuesday.

None of these named days are inherently bad as long as you pause and think about how they fit into your life the best way possible. Often a donation of Giving Tuesday will be matched or even tripled or quadrupled, which makes it a fantastic time to give. But giving your money to a cause you aren’t passionate about or giving money that strains your budget too much just isn’t worth it.

Also please don’t forget that money isn’t all you have to give. You can mark Giving Tuesday by signing up to volunteer for something or giving someone a compliment or some other act of kindness.

You are in control, not the shoulds. If you count everything you’re thankful for this weekend I’m sure you’ll come away with more wealth instead of less.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Share how you’re taking control this weekend. What are your holiday traditions that bring you wealth instead of draining it?


To Write Love On Her Arms has a great video and campaign this week #IWasMadeFor

Check out their video –


I was made for compassion and adventure. Please share what you were made for in the comments!

Because of my work as a crisis counselor, I get a lot of questions from friends who want to know what to do if a friend or family member is thinking of ending their life.  Today I’m going to give you the top three tips I gave them.


Be Direct

It’s okay to ask someone directly if they are thinking about ending their life. I know being direct like this can be difficult but it establishes that you’re someone who sees what’s going on and is willing to listen. Asking won’t put ideas in their head or make them think about ending their life when they weren’t going to.

Another helpful thing is to be honest about any help you’ve received when you went through a rough time, professional or otherwise. I went to therapy for years to deal with some difficult relationships in my life and I think it’s important to be direct about it to remove some of the stigma attached to getting help. We don’t fault people for going to the dentist to take care of themselves and we shouldn’t fault people who take care of their mental health!


Listen Without Judgement

“Finish your food because somewhere people are starving.” How many times have you heard something like this? You shouldn’t be unhappy because someone has it worse or whatever you feel isn’t that bad or you shouldn’t get that upset. You wouldn’t tell someone not to be happy because other people have it better. Bill Gates has a private plane and a mansion so therefore you will never be happy. Comparison doesn’t work and we all react to things differently.

The best thing I learned to do is repeat things back. Echo how they are feeling to show you understand. “That must be devastating that you didn’t get what you needed from that person.” “It is overwhelming to be dealing with all that.” Validate what you hear. Sometimes that’s enough. You don’t have to solve their problems, you just have to listen and be there.


Helpers Need Help Too

If you find yourself in a role of support for a friend or family member who is going through a difficult time, don’t forget about yourself. Supporters also need support. Reach out for your own kind of help, take some time for self care, recruit others or get professionals involved. No one is alone in this.


Overall I would say that you’re allowed to feel how you feel and you deserve help! You deserve to be happy and to show the world what you were made for!

I dream of the day where Suicide Prevention Week is a distant memory.


If you need help – 

If you want to help – 




It’s been 20 years since Mother Teresa passed away. The UN has designated today the International Day of Charity in her honor. This is part of their statement:

Charity, like the notions of volunteerism and philanthropy, provides real social bonding and contributes to the creation of inclusive and more resilient societies. Charity can alleviate the worst effects of humanitarian crises, supplement public services in health care, education, housing and child protection. It assists the advancement of culture, science, sports, and the protection of cultural and natural heritage. It also promotes the rights of the marginalized and underprivileged and spreads the message of humanity in conflict situations.

The International Day of Charity was established with the objective of sensitizing and mobilizing people, NGOs, and stakeholders all around the world to to help others through volunteer and philanthropic activities.

The date of 5 September was chosen in order to commemorate the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace.”


What I’ve always admired about Mother Teresa is her humanity as she struggled to become a saint. She often questioned if she was doing enough, if she was good enough, if what she was doing was enough. We see the work she did and the people she fed, heart and soul, and we know that she was enough. She was just like we all are, unsure and human.

She is a role model to me to keep trying, keep pushing to be as  charitable as I can be. I spend hours every week making sure that people know that they are enough, enough to keep living. I spend hours each week thinking about how I can be kinder to myself and others.

Hopefully, on this day of charity, you’ll take a minute to recognize that you are enough and that the charity you do helps feed the world.



Who We Are in Crisis

The floods in Texas and India are devastating to watch unfold on the news. If you’re reading this blog, the first thing you’re probably thinking is how can I help? There are telethons and text short codes and articles about how you shouldn’t donate to this charity or that one, you want to help the pets or the elderly or the people with families or who are in some way just like you. Maybe you’ve been through a natural disaster and want them to know you know what it’s like. But where to start and how to be truly helpful are hard things to understand with these images flashing across your screen.

I believe that disasters and crises just intensify who we already are. The outer layer we hide behind drops away and the best or worst of us just shows up. There is one person who has become a viral star from the Texas floods – Mattress Matt. This gentleman is a furniture store owner with a large showroom and a caring heart. He opened his store, with all its display furniture to shelter his fellow Houstonians. He heard it was someone’s birthday so he gifted her a mattress right there on the spot. He said the money would work itself out in the long run. You could tell he wasn’t making any grand effort, wasn’t calculating how this would make him look, he was just being Mattress Matt, a guy who cared about people and had the ability to show it during this crisis.

So be yourself. Be kind, and caring, show the world what you can do. Crises are an opportunity to show up and be genuine. Use it.

But even kind and caring people can learn to do better with practice. That’s what being kind without a crisis in our everyday life does, it makes it easier when disaster comes along for us to just show up to. It’s like when your parents told you to brush your teeth every day when you were small. Eventually, no one had to tell you to brush your teeth in the morning, it’s just something you do. Make kindness like brushing your teeth.

And importantly, ask questions to avoid the disaster after the disaster. Research which charities are best for you to give to if you can give money. If you have things to donate, try to ask what people need before sending things. I have the opportunity to talk to crisis counselors who have been affected by the Texas flooding and ask them what they need before I send a big package of stuff that may or may not help. I can tailor a gift package to what that person actually needs and will use. A handknit scarf or a hand me down sweater may be given with heart but if it’s not what they need then it doesn’t really do as much as we’d hope. We can still be smart and thoughtful in a time of crisis. It’s worth taking a minute to ask or research how we can be most effective.

And we don’t have to hurry! We can be helpful next month or next year. Plan vacations to the area in the next few years to get money into the community, look at buying things from local businesses that were affected, donate to causes that will be helping with long term reconstruction, even look into environmental organizations that are working to reduce the impact of climate change or even look into local infrastructure issues in your area and vote accordingly. If you didn’t have the money to participate in the telethon or the internet challenges or to match your favorite celebrities’ campaign, know that you still have time to show up. There is always time to care.

So take a breath, always practice kindness, and just show up for each other.


What have you done to help in a disaster that you can share with us? I’d love to hear some success stories!


5 Ways to Be Good When Life Isn’t

I’ve been having a rough time lately. I know we’ve all been there. My dog got skunked and I’m trying to get a job and pay bills and family drama and then a nail in my tire. Sometimes it’s just one thing after another and the stress is overwhelming. You’re moving or having a baby or changing jobs or having trouble with family or financial stresses – we all face those metaphorical rainy days. So this post is as much for me as it is for you. Here are some things I’m trying to keep in mind while I navigate the rainy weather.

1. Don’t Stress About Being Stressed

You wouldn’t stress out about having a fever would you?!? Well I would but then I’d realize that that added stress wasn’t doing a thing to help my fever and I’d take some medicine and get some rest. Stressing out about being stressed is natural but it isn’t helping the problem. Focus on taking care of yourself and doing things that relieve your stress. This can be different for everyone but some good things to try are walking in nature, visiting with friends, meditating or yoga.


2. Empathy & Kindness are Muscles

The more you use them the stronger they get. So even if you are only being empathetic and kind to yourself, you’re growing those muscles so that when you’re in a better place you’ll be better at helping others. You aren’t wasting time being nice to yourself. We’ve all heard the cliche – you can’t pour from an empty cup – well it’s true. Fill up your cup so the empathy and kindness overflows.
3. Appreciate Receiving Kindnesses

You may not be able to show as many of those random acts of kindness when you’re down and out but believe me you will receive them. So notice them, appreciate them, be loudly thankful for them. Reach out to friends and family. They know you’ll be there for them when they need it, let them be there for you now.


4. A Break is NOT Failure

Stepping away from volunteering or donating or anything else you do to be a good person doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you’re taking a rest. It means you need a break. It doesn’t mean that you’re being bad or mean or anything else. It just means that you need to recover to come back stronger. If you need to set a date to get back to it, do that. Officially take time off of thinking and stressing about it.


5. It isn’t Always Going to Feel Like This

Metaphorical rainy days clear away for metaphorical rainbows and sunny days. This is just temporary stress and you’ll get through it. Give yourself some time and don’t let yourself slip into the doom and gloom that now your life is ruined. At first that skunk smell will make you feel like your nose wants to give up and nothing will ever smell good again. But days and weeks will pass and things will return to normal. You’ll burn candles and clean and breezes will sweep away the old smells and bring you new ones. It may take longer than you want but just remember it isn’t a permanent state. You’re a good person, things will work out.


What are your tips for dealing with those metaphorical rainy days?

Do-Gooder Guilt

I’ve seen this State Farm commercial for a few weeks now and I think it’s very interesting –

The man in the clip goes about his day and is inundated by causes – they’re on transit ads, social media, on the news, everywhere he looks. There is even a polar bear in an alley for some reason. All these things begin to follow him around while he’s getting dinner with friends, commuting, or exercising. These issues follow him around like a black cloud until he decides to volunteer for one of them. “You can lift the weight of caring by doing.” Is it’s final message (well it’s real final message is buy State Farm Insurance).

Corporations have a long history of doing good in order to build their brand and look good as a company, not necessarily altruistic motivations. And because of this there are a lot of donations to charity and a lot of employee volunteer hours spent (often altruistically on a personal level).

The question is – does motivation matter? Does it matter if we’re volunteering because we feel guilty, because we truly care, because our employer encourages it and we want to get ahead in our job, because we care about how we are perceived, because we need to feel better about ourselves, because we want to better ourselves, because a celebrity we like supports a cause, because we get a perk or swag, or because some other because?

Personally I think some of those “because”s make bad volunteers. They move the priority and focus away from the act of helping. While I don’t think volunteering needs to be completely altruistic, I do think it should be the major reason. I volunteer for many reasons and sometimes the perks I receive are fantastic and I know I’ve grown and developed skills that benefit me personally. I also tell people that if they’re feeling down about an issue that volunteering with like minded people is great for their mental healthcare. But if you’re volunteering because you’ve been made to feel guilty by an ad on your commute I don’t think you’re going to be the best volunteer and I wonder if you’ll even really get any of the other benefits of volunteering.

This commercial makes me feel very uneasy. It’s so negative. The message is there are so many things wrong with the world instead of look what we all can do, and are doing, to make the world a better place. I’m an optimistic person by nature so maybe this ad wasn’t meant for me.


What do you think about the ad? Is it effective? Are guilty volunteers good volunteers?

In-Kindness Donation

Every year my company gives me $2,000 to donate to an organization of my choice as a reward for my volunteer hours from the previous year. Last year, after a lot of debate, I donated to One rule I made up is that I won’t donate to an organization that I volunteered for. This year I’ll add that I won’t donate to a Purple State Challenge organization.  But I found this year’s choice to be very easy. It’s an organization I’ve long admired, that is very needed right now but also might not be as on the radar as other organizations. It’s an organization that is working to grow the nations empathy and kindness.

I donated $2,000 to Sesame Workshop!



Sesame Workshop’s mission is simple and clear – “to help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.”

“There’s a method to our magic. Grounded in research and guided by our mission, it plays out daily across countries, cultures, and channels.”

For over 40 years they have produced incredible results and had an effect on so many lives including my own. Their simple and clear mission is approached in a complex, thoughtful, and magical way. They are true innovators in early childhood development. And their results are real and well documented.

Why I choose this group:

Like millions I’ve been effected by their first initiative – Sesame Street. I learned letters and numbers. I learned how to be caring and accepting of diversity. It also sparked my interest to learn additional languages (Spanish and American Sign Language). And the Ladybug Picnic Song still makes me smile. I also have a love of all things Muppet.

I think that education is so important. Sesame Workshop focuses on some of the aspects of education I find most important – literacy, emotional intelligence, and social awareness. Not only do they teach these to everyone they reach but they focus on communities in special need including military families, children dealing with loss, and low income children. Their reach is global and they work to make sure that the content matches the audiences needs. Female muppets are incorporated in shows in Bangladeshi, Nigeria, and Egypt to show girls that there is a place for them to learn too. In South Africa kids are 4x more likely to be aware of HIV/AIDS and Tanzanian children are more aware of how to prevent Malaria transmission. And this just seems to be the start. There are so many great programs that make such a huge measured impact.

But it’s also magical. It’s Snuffleupus and Cookie Monster and hundreds of Muppets around the world. It’s inspiring and memorable to everyone who watches. A much repeated story from my childhood is that while watching Sesame Street the power went out and my brother could not stop crying, thinking that his muppet friends had gone away forever. There is a connection to these characters and stories that goes beyond the scientific data that backs them up. These are our friends, our reflections, our teachers, and our inspirations.

Check them out:

You can learn more and donate here –

Website |    Facebook | @SesameWorkshop   Twitter | @SesameWorkshop