What Matters Mondays – May 30, 2016

May 31st, 2016 by admin Leave a Comment

On Friday we celebrated my son’s grade 9 graduation. It’s crazy how you can feel emotions on complete opposite ends of the spectrum on a day like this. It seems weird to be flooded with tears of joy & tears of sadness at the exact same time.
Let me begin with tears of JOY!
Nolan is 15 and he’s still not “too cool” to hold my hand in public. As we shopped for his grad outfit, we had so much fun (he’s the girl I never had when it comes to shopping). As we left each store with another purchase to complete the outfit, he would grab my hand and say thank you. He’s such a grateful kid!
The friends he surrounds himself with are hilarious, supportive, kind and real. They are kids who embrace who they are & who give others permission to do the same. I believe these kids will be lifelong friends.
The staff at Namao School are INCREDIBLE! They love what they do and they love these kids. The staff has made it their mission to create deep connections with these kids & I know the memories of these years will stay with Nolan forever!
The greatest joy comes when I look at who Nolan is as a person. He made it through junior high without sacrificing who he is. Being authentic is a key value for him. Surround yourself with amazing friends & adults and being yourself is pretty easy. I’m so proud of him & so grateful to those who gave him permission to be himself.
And now, the tears of sadness.
I don’t want to be Debbie Downer, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m sad and a bit anxious. His world is about to expand. High school, drivers license, parties…the list goes on.
I guess I’m afraid he just won’t need me as much anymore. He’ll be busy with his life.
I will do what I know best.
I will love him, support him, laugh with him and be grateful for every moment I get.
I will choose joy & gratitude as I continue to watch him grow into this incredible young man.
I will be honest when I’m missing him and not try to push that emotion away.
And when he reaches over to grab my hand, I’ll be reminded that he may not need me as much, but he’ll always need me.
Anyone else struggle with this “letting go” part of parenting?


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What Matters Mondays – May 23, 2016

May 24th, 2016 by admin Leave a Comment

Before I begin with anything wise…I have to ask…did you watch the Chewbacca lady on Facebook? I seriously have never laughed so hard in my life. It is so true that we need to find joy in the simple things. One of Brené Brown’s ten guideposts to wholehearted living is to let go of being “cool” and always in control by cultivating more laughter, song and dance. This lady nailed it! More laughter, less cool. That is my intention for this week!

On another note, I wanted to share with you a few of my key learnings from Courage Camp last week. I was in Texas with my Daring Way™ tribe and as Brené Brown said on the first day, “It felt like being a fish in water.” Being with people who truly get this work; people who speak your language, is an incredible feeling.

My greatest learning from the week was about Self-Compassion. Kristen Neff, who is the guru of self-compassion research, spoke with us for three hours and all I wanted was more. Here are a few key things I learned:

  1. Self-compassion is a much healthier alternative to self-esteem.
  2. Self-esteem is an evaluation of self-worth; it’s our need to be special and above average; it creates constant social comparison and it deserts us the minute we fail at something.
  3. Bullying is highly linked to the quest for high self-esteem. Just think…if we want high self-esteem, and self-esteem comes from being better than others, we need to make sure other people are under us.
  4. The three determining factors of self-esteem are:
    1. Approval from our peers
    2. Appearance
    3. Success
  5. Self-compassion has the same benefits of self-esteem, BUT no social comparison, is less contingent on self-worth and no association with narcissism.
  6. People with high self-compassion are:
    1. More resilient and have better coping skills
    2. More motivated
    3. Take more personal responsibility
    4. Have healthier behaviors
    5. Have better relationships with others
    6. Have the ability to sustain compassion for others
  7. Self-compassion is made up of three key things:
    1. Self-kindness – Do I talk to myself like I talk to those I love?
    2. Common Humanity – Life is imperfect; all people struggle; I’m not alone
    3. Mindfulness – Lean into my pain, feel it and move through; avoid extremes of over identifying with it or running away from it.
  8. Can self-compassion be taught? YES!!!
  9. Next time you are struggling with something, take a self-compassion break. Stop what you are doing, acknowledge what you are feeling and say aloud, “This is hard. This is a moment of suffering. This is part of the human experience. May I be kind to myself.” Lean into the feeling rather than trying to push it away.
  10. For more information on self-compassion, I encourage you to check out Kristen Neff’s website: http://self-compassion.org/

I used to be someone who marked my worth against others. If I was the best or amongst the best than I was happy. That was really harmful because every time I found someone better than me (and you always will), I felt the threat of failure. In those moments I had one of two behaviors show up. I either quit and disconnected from that person OR I would try to figure out how I could be better next time. I’m going to be honest…this was a brutal way to live. About five years ago, when I first read Kristen Neff’s material on self-compassion, it really sunk in. This work has had an incredible impact on my life.

I also do a lot of work in schools and I can tell you….the quest for high self-esteem is real. And…it is dangerous! Our kids are bombarded with negative self-talk and comparison. In every group I speak with I am overwhelmed with kids who say their negative self-talk is constant and relentless. We need to teach our kids self-compassion.

As Christopher Germer says, “A moment of self-compassion can change your day and a string of such moments can change the course of your life.”




What Matters Mondays – May 16, 2016

May 24th, 2016 by admin Leave a Comment

There won’t be a blog today as I am currently attending Courage Camp with Brené Brown and Kristen Neff. Stay tuned for my key learnings next Monday!!




What Matters Mondays – May 9, 2016

May 24th, 2016 by admin Leave a Comment

This week has been overwhelmingly emotional for so many reasons…

  1. The fires in Fort MacMurray have been devastating to watch.
  2. Thinking about Alison Azer spending Mother’s Day alone while her four children are being held in Iran against their will.

At times like this it is easy to get stuck in feelings of worry and sadness….to focus on the darkness. But it’s also important to stop and find light in small moments. To bring gratitude into the darkness. Today I want to share with you the light that I got to be part of this past weekend.

The Sturgeon County Youth Council puts on a Youth Connect Conference each year and this year’s will be in my mind for a long time to come. I had the privilege of both volunteering at the two day event as well as speaking at the end of the last day. Last year, the feedback was that there needed to be more opportunities for connection. Rather than all speakers, the kids wanted to interact more. Shelly Chubb, the coordinator of all things youth…and an AMAZING person, decided to bring in Flying Bob’s Circus – Cir-me, cir-you, cir-us! And let me tell you…it was AWESOME!!! We learned how to juggle, walk a tight rope, spin plates, stilt walk, spin the daiblos and much more. On Friday evening, Shelly and I were still there at 10:00PM waiting for these kids to want to go home. They were practicing and laughing and connecting…it was so great to watch! When they arrived Saturday, they quickly ate and asked if they could go in to start practicing again. At the end of the Circus portion, they were put into groups and each group choreographed their own mini circus performance. You should have seen them…UNBELIEVABLE!!! Here are a few things that brought light to my world this weekend:

  1. My son Nolan has so many supportive adults in his life. Being part of the Youth Council and the JET Program has connected him to inspiring adults who have impacted him immensely. Shelly Chubb, Myron, Becky, Carlie, Amanda, Becca…and many others. When Derek Peterson talks about webs of support…I feel so blessed that my son is as thickly webbed as he is. The more adults anchoring your web, the less likely you are to fall through the cracks. I owe a HUGE thank you to each of these people for anchoring Nolan’s web.
  2. Circus tricks allow EVERYONE to succeed at something. I will tell you…I was terrible at plate spinning. I had a kink in my neck trying to master it. However, I could walk stilts like no one’s business. I was even doing the cha cha on the stilts by the end. My first few attempts were scary and shaky, but in the circus if you just keep trying….sometimes you find your skill. We can’t be great at every trick, but everyone felt like a success this weekend.
  3. To start the weekend, there were kids who were nervous about being in a group separate from their friends. With the laughter and the fun in the circus, new friends were made everywhere. Many of the kids realized they would attend the same high school next year…instant connection! I have never witnessed more new connections in any event I’ve ever attended.
  4. Sturgeon County has some incredible leaders! I feel so proud to be part of this community and to watch these amazing youth! The youth council that put it all together…my hats go off to you for an absolute HOME RUN! The students that attended the conference…continue to be involved in opportunities like this one…your leadership is so needed, and it was such a gift to watch such brave, kind, grateful young people!
  5. Shelly Chubb deserves HUGE recognition for the impact she is having on the youth in our community! The kids love and respect her, she brings fun and connection to every meeting they have, and her heart is 100% in it for the kids! What a gift it is to work alongside someone like Shelly!
  6. Lastly, when I got to speak at the end of the conference, I had two thoughts…how the heck are these kids going to have energy to listen to me after all the circus fun and how can I in a short time plant seeds that may benefit them in their lives right now? One of my speaking coaches has always told me that when I speak, I need to believe that there is someone out there who needs my message on that day. Holding that belief has allowed me to stay away from needing to change everyone’s lives. Although that would be awesome…it’s not realistic. After I spoke on Saturday, a young man came up to me and said, “You are so inspirational. I wish I had heard you speak years ago. It would have made my anxiety so much less. You gave me so many things to take away.” Insert tears here. He was my ONE!

After the second group I spoke to, a girl came up to me and said, “Thank you for your talk today. I loved it! I wrote so many notes and it is really going to help me.” She was my ONE.

I also had a girl come up to me to tell me that she heard me speak at her high school, and that she really wanted to talk to me more about values. She said, “I’m off my path and I want to get back on and be me.” In a week, I am meeting her at her school to do just that!

My key values are: authenticity, balance, connection, gratitude, humor, health, learning, organization, optimism, understanding and legacy. I came home at the end of this conference filled with light. That’s what happens when you honor and live your values. It feels amazing!

And…that’s what happens when you are surrounded by AMAZING people!

Thank you Shelly Chubb and the Youth Council for putting on an event that impacted every person who chose to be there!




What Matters Mondays – May 2, 2016

May 24th, 2016 by admin Leave a Comment

If you have ever struggled with forgiveness…you have to read The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu. I grew up believing that if someone wronged you, you struck them off your Christmas list and carried on with your life without them. I truly didn’t ever open my mind to the possibility that there was another way to deal with hurt. I know it sounds horrible, but I didn’t know any better. I had never given forgiveness much thought.

Several years ago, I had to rumble with forgiveness in my own life, and for the first time ever, the idea that there was another way to forgive was thrown at me.

Today I want to share with you some keys I have learned about forgiveness:

  1. Desmond Tutu says there are two truths about forgiveness: there is nothing that cannot be forgiven and there is no one undeserving of forgiveness. The 2016 version of me gets this….we are imperfect, we make mistakes, we will all need to be forgiven at some point in our lives. It’s part of being human…we are going to screw up and people around us are going to as well.
  2. In Brené Brown’s research, she discovered that the key to forgiving is grieving. That in order for true forgiveness to happen, you have to let something die. A dream, a relationship, an idea, a hope… You have to let it die so that you can renew or release the relationship.
  3. Another key about forgiveness is that anger and hatred are part of it. Forgiveness is not easy. It’s hard. It’s okay to be angry and to feel hatred. It’s all part of it.
  4. The timeline for forgiving is different for each of us.
  5. “Without forgiveness, you are punishing both yourself and the other person. You remain tethered to the person who harmed you. You are bound with chains of bitterness; trapped. When you forgive, you take back control of your feelings. You don’t forgive to help the other person. You don’t forgive for others. You forgive for yourself. Forgiveness is the best form of self-interest. “ Desmond Tutu.
  6. Hanging on to anger and resentment can damage the heart as well as the soul.
  7. To forgive is not to pretend it didn’t happen. An invitation to forgive is not an invitation to forget. The invitation is to find healing and peace.
  8. The Forgiveness Cycle that is shared in The Book of Forgiving is this:
    1. Tell the Story
    2. Name the Hurt
    3. Grant Forgiveness
    4. Renew or Release the Relationship

All those years ago when it would have been so easy for me to scratch that person off my Christmas list, I chose a new way….I chose to lean into the hurt and allowed forgiveness to be my teacher rather than my enemy. It is a decision I will forever be grateful for.

If there is someone you are struggling to forgive, give it some thought, read this book and begin to tell your story….you get to write the new ending when you choose forgiveness. It’s hard, messy work but it’s worth it!





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