i googled my first love today and found the truth

why i googled my first love (a valentine's day confession)

I have a confession. I spent a few minutes this morning, on Valentine’s Day of all days, looking up the first boy I thought I loved. A little embarrassing. But really enlightening.

Twenty-five years later, I still think of him occasionally. Not because he was the one that got away. Not because I’m unhappy in my marriage (quite happy, thank you!). But because I always hoped he found the good in him.

On the surface, we were polar opposites. He was Danny Zucco, I was Sandra Dee. Classic tale of the good girl falling for the bad boy as she looks into his sparkling brown eyes and sees straight into his soul…kind, wounded, craving love. I know, I know. Soooo cheesy.

But totally true. 

The cards were stacked against that boy and, deep down, he knew it. His family life was chaotic. School work was a struggle. He was in trouble far more than he wasn’t. I wondered, even at 14, how and if he’d rise above it all.

We were sitting together on the school bus, heading home, when he quietly told me I was too good for him.

I can still feel the bounce of the bus, the hard green plastic of the seat beneath us, the whir of kids screaming and laughing around us. Time stopped for a second. My heart ached. At first, I thought, I didn’t want to be too good for him; I wanted to be just right. Maybe even dim my light to meet his. But no, I knew even then that wouldn’t be fair to me…or him. So instead, I wished I could prove him wrong and convince him of his goodness. I wanted him to thrive, to hang on to the sparkle in his eyes.

The next day, he wasn’t at school. Nor the next. He and his family had suddenly moved, and no one knew where or why. Despite the hurt, it was a great gift from the universe: I had no choice but to move on. And yet I must admit, I’ve wondered on and off over the years, if the sweet soul beneath that bad boy exterior managed to find the good within and thrive.

My angels and guides nudged me to finally look him up today, 25 years later.

It only took 30 seconds to find him on Facebook and just a couple of minutes to get up to speed, to see that the road for him has, indeed, been tough and troubled. But there are recent posts about new beginnings, new choices, a new path. There are messages from people who love him and are inspired by him, including his kids. And there are pictures that reveal there’s still a sparkle in his eyes. I was surprised by the relief I felt over this, over knowing he’s finding his way to something better, in his own time.

I am reminded today of this wisdom – soul balm for me – that Spirit shared during Into the Light:

“You do not know what another’s life is meant to be or do. Some are brought here for a short time to create ripples in your stream, waves big enough to push you forward or change your course. Others are a steady force in your life, companions in rivers that flow parallel to yours. And there are others who thrash in the water, seem to crash into you at times, riding recklessly through their lives. They are each on a journey that you cannot control, no matter how much you feel you love them, even if you despise their choices. The tragedy is not in how they live their life, but in whether you stop your own flow in an attempt to rescue them from themselves. Neither of you is rescued, but rather both of you are pushed off course.”

I didn’t know this at 14. Sometimes, I forget it at 39. This morning, I wasn’t sure why I felt guided to Google the name of the first boy I thought I loved…but now I am. I needed what I found today; to tie up loose ends in my heart and let my 14-year-old self off the hook, erasing her sense of responsibility for anyone’s path but her own.

I am too good for that. We all are.

 

exciting news! my own star search

something fabulous is calling your name, via aimee dolich of artsyville

When I was six, I emceed the kindergarten talent show. If I close my eyes, I can go right back to that day and feel myself standing up at the edge of the stage, overlooking a dark gymnasium full of grinning parents in folding chairs. Instead of feeling nervous, I felt emboldened and purposeful.

After each act, I would march in my saddle shoes up to the microphone, applauding, and enthusiastically praise my classmates for their inspiring jump-roping or magnificent piano solos. I had volunteered for the job and took it very seriously. At one point, I caught my teacher, sweet Mrs. Dallman at stage left, stifling a giggle during one of my introductions. I didn’t know then that a six-year-old girl channeling Dick Clark probably was pretty funny to watch. But it was such a blast, I could have gone on for hours. I adored the chance to boost my friends’ confidence, pump up the crowd and soak up a bit of the spotlight myself. My whole six-year-old body was buzzing – like I was tapping into an amazing energy source – and I remember it lingering for hours after.

Today, I feel like I’m right back in those saddle shoes – peeking through the velvet curtains, buzzing with excitement. 

Click for Details on the Star Mapping System

I’m unveiling something so big for me and so big for you today: my proprietary Star Mapping System – a one-on-one coaching program for artists, authors and advisors who feel ready to expand their visibility, reap the rewards and light up the world. And the kindergartener inside me is jumping for joy. Really, friends, I’m all choked up over it.

After many years of working in media + marketing, I ditched corporate life in 2007 to launch my own creative biz, hellbent on leaving the communications career behind and making my living as an artist, blogger, speaker + radio host… dedicated to helping people choose to see the beauty in everything. And overall, it’s been wonderful.

But along the way, something happened that I had not planned: creative, compassionate entrepreneurs started coming out of the woodwork, asking for help defining their talents, finding their voice and promoting their work. Artists. Bloggers. Therapists. Designers. I ignored the requests for a while…then slowly started saying yes. yes. yes. And every time I got to help someone tap into her inner superstar, my heart thumped and my body buzzed.

So I started creating things on the side, just to satisfy the requests and keep my heart thumping. I launched a blogging ecourse. And a PR ecourse. And The Limelight Letters. And all the while, behind the scenes, I’ve been quietly mentoring + coaching friends…and friends of friends…and total strangers who asked for a map to find their way.

And then, in December, I ran into an old friend – one I’d (quietly) coached a year before. She grabbed my hands, looked me in the eyes and told me she knew others I was helping – and then said this: “I’m so excited for you. It’s like you’ve found your true calling.” Her words took my breath away. I felt dizzy, like my head couldn’t keep up with my thumping heart. Days before, I’d been thumbing through Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak, and had read his wisdom about the word “vocation” – which is rooted in the Latin word for “voice.” He writes,

“Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”

And there it was – needing a nudge from a friend to show me that a big piece of my true calling had been tugging at my heartstrings all along. I’d been so busy helping others listen to their lives – that I’d forgotten to listen to my own. So today, I’m formally unveiling The Star Mapping System – an approach to self-promotion and self-worth that I’ve been preparing for months, years, my whole life.

Turns out all I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.

 

my most embarrassing, eye-opening moment of the weekend

Okay, this is a little embarrassing. Every year, during the week after Thanksgiving, I rummage through our pile of holiday CDs and choose my favorites to carry with me in the car. And for a good five or six weeks {yep, even into January}, I’m uplifted by Christmas songs everywhere I go.

This year, I did the same thing and brought a pile of CDs into the minivan with me. I hit the “eject” button to release the CD that was in there – and nothing came out. I tried over and over, for several days in a row. Nothing. And no music. Total bummer. I figured I’d have to take the vehicle in to get it fixed at some point – and would just listen to the radio until then.

On Friday, Ryder asked from the backseat why we weren’t listening to Christmas music yet. I told him the CD inside was jammed and wouldn’t come out.

“Are you sure there’s a CD in there?” he asked.

“Yep. It just won’t come out.”

“How do you know?” he asked.

“Because nothing comes out when I push the button.”

I could see his furrowed brow in my rear view mirror. And suddenly, in slow motion, it hit me like a ton of bricks: maybe there wasn’t a CD in there after all. I grabbed the Christmas CD sitting on the passenger seat and placed it at the opening slit of the CD player, which sucked it in and – you guys! – the Christmas tunes started playing. I laughed out loud. Ryder shook his head and rolled his eyes at his crazy mom.

I don’t blame him! I’m rolling my eyes at myself, too! I’m amazed and amused by how quickly I accepted defeat and didn’t even attempt to search for solutions. I drove around for days, accepting my “reality” of a holiday season without holiday music in the car. My own kid had to point out the most simple, obvious option possible – and even then it took a minute to sink in. I was so convinced by the story I’d created, the truth I’d settled on – that the CD player was jammed – that it didn’t even occur to me that it could be totally, utterly…false.

A little embarrassing, yes. But it was a great reminder for me to turn every story I tell on its head. To dig deeper for the truth and be open to changing my own tune. Hallelujah!

my get-rich-quick plan {it totally works!}

The other day, I ordered a coffee that cost four bucks and some change. I had four dollar bills. But when I dug into my wallet for the change, there were no real coins inside – just two gold game tokens. What!? The guy behind the counter laughed, wondering aloud if I had a clever kid at home {ahem. yes.}. And then he told me not to worry about coming up short and handed me my latte.

Ahhh, so grateful.

It felt like a funny little nudge from the universe after a couple of weeks of struggling with my abundance mindset. See, I believe my thoughts create my reality: when I focus on what I’m lacking, more loss and deprivation surfaces for me; but when I focus on the riches in my life, I feel {and am} taken care of.

Well, that perspective’s been put to the test recently. A perfect storm of big family and work expenditures combined with unexpected delays in some major client payments put us in a serious pinch. And friends? I started to fret. And the more I did, the worse I felt – and, it seemed, the worse things got. I got mad at every bill that arrived in the mailbox. I tensed up every time I thought about things we needed to buy, big and small. I started to doubt anyone would ever buy anything from me ever again. Oh yeah. I went there. That downward spiral is quick and harsh.

And then, one morning, I opened up my Notes from the Universe email. I don’t read them every day; only when I feel moved to do so. It was a super simple message – advising me to “act as if” –  but those three words woke me up. Part of my belief system is that, in order to attract more of what I desire, I must act as if it already exists. And I totally wasn’t doing that.

Shifting to “act as if” didn’t mean spending frivolously as if money was no object. But it did mean that I needed to trust I always have enough and that there’s plenty to go around, to believe that more is coming, to honor my resourcefulness, to celebrate the abundance I already have. I’d been doing the opposite. It’s like Eckhart Tolle writes in A New Earth:

So, I made a conscious move to focus not on what I didn’t have – but on what I did have, and to express my deep-down gratitude for it all. It was possible to witness my own wealth in every mundane moment of the day.

As the temperature dropped and I got the kids ready for school, I felt gratitude knowing I could send them out into the world all warm and cozy, wearing last year’s winter coats and hats. Abundance.

As I pulled into a gas station to fill up my tank, I whispered “thank you” for not only having the money to get gas but to have my own transportation. Abundance. 

Boiling water for mac & cheese that night, I relished having all we needed to eat dinner as a family: fresh water, a working stove, a cupboard full of pots and pans, food in the pantry, schedules that allowed for us to gather around the table together. Abundance. 

And as I counted my blessings instead of the bills, our bounty grew as unexpected gifts appeared. An old friend offered free tickets to a family movie. Invitations to speak and contribute to new projects showed up out of the blue. And a package arrived on our doorstep: Verizon, who gave me a Samsung Galaxy SIII this summer as part of my participation in their Midwest Savvy Moms program, sent me a second device: an LG Intuition tablet. Another high-tech device to play with!? My kids think we’ve won the lottery!

Because we have. We have totally struck it rich – and I clearly needed a reminder. No matter how much is in my wallet – whether real money or gold tokens – I am grateful for living a life of amazing abundance.

my trip to the ivy might change YOUR life

I spend a good deal of my life in chains.

Coffee shops that look the same wherever I am, mediocre restaurants with food we know the kids will actually eat, and a grocery store that looks like every other grocery store. All chains, all incredibly convenient and perfectly fine…but eternally boring.

So whenever I find a store or restaurant that breaks the mold and catches my heart by surprise, it’s a total joy. That happened a couple of weeks ago in California – and it resulted in two quick lessons I want to share with you: one common sense, one possibly life-changing. So…back to the restaurant…

My mom, brother and I walked into The Ivy on the Shore in Santa Monica, just hoping to grab a bite for lunch before walking the beach. I swear to you, we walked in that door and the place took my breath away. It was like a cross between an English garden and a 1940’s beach bungalow. Roses everywhere! Waiters with funky, floral ties! The hostess seated us immediately by the window, overlooking their outdoor veranda, and offered us complimentary champagne. It was like we’d been swept up into another time and place {and reality – what restaurant offers free champagne for lunch!?}.

Every detail was impeccable and unique. Painted plates, pink walls, throwback tunes, quirky art, vivid fabrics, delicious food. Even the bathrooms were awesome, with a seashell mirror and turquoise tile. I wanted to stay there. Like, forever.

Alas, they did not have a “stay forever” option on the menu. But I did leave with two takeaways for you:

Lesson #1: This is the common sense one. If you’re ever in Santa Monica, check out The Ivy on the Shore. Then email me, and remind me how awesome and lovely it was. I will be so happy for you!

Lesson #2: This is the potentially life-changing one. Take a step back and look at your life, your business, your daily existence and ask yourself: have you become the equivalent of a chain store?

I can think of times when I definitely was just going through the motions, when every day looked the same. I dressed and talked and worked just like the people around me – at the office, in the neighborhood, in my friend circles. I felt like McDonald’s, but I wanted to be The Ivy. Vivid. Different. Lovely. The kind of girl who catches your heart by surprise and offers you free champagne out of the blue.

If you could be an independent, deliciously unique, wonderfully authentic shop or cafe, what would you be like? If I saw you laughing in full-blown beauty, what would you look like? Where would you be?

Ponder that. Let it brew. Ask yourself if there’s room to break free of some of those chains {maybe not all…baby steps, people}. And if there is, more POWER to you, love.

why 13 isn’t unlucky – and neither are you

On Tuesday, while I was visiting Brad at his office, one of his colleagues asked me how long we’d been married.

“13 years,” I told her.

She shuddered. Like a full-on, pain-body shake. A co-worker walking by shook her head at me in disapproval, and said, “Ohhhh. She doesn’t do 13 well.”

I waited a second to see if they were joking. Nope. Dead serious.

The first woman launched into a monologue about the number 13. How it’s connected to things in her life she can’t speak about but caused her trauma. How there’s nothing good about 13. How just that morning, on Election Day, she had arrived at her polling place and found that her name was the 13th on the page: a sure sign, she said, that her day was doomed. And then I had to go and mention my 13 years of marriage. Lucky for me, her phone rang – and I made a quick and quiet getaway.

But she stayed in my head all day. Her story sounded familiar, struck a nerve. Why? Because I’ve stood in her shoes before. I’ve given power to things and thoughts and even numbers that really had no business controlling my happiness. I’ve cursed a date on the calendar for bringing bad luck or bad memories my way. I’ve bought into superstitious silliness, panicking a little over a broken mirror or spilled salt or a black cat in the road. I’ve let rumors and half-truths slaughter my confidence. Maybe not to the degree that this woman has let the number 13 hold her hostage in her own life – but it doesn’t really matter how much or how often I’ve let anything or anyone hold power over me. Just the reminder that I have is enough.

No one is unlucky, unworthy or unheard without choosing, somewhere deep down, to label themselves that way, to wrap themselves up in that blanket of drama. When we stop believing our own stories about the things or people or places that still haunt or hurt us, we reclaim our God-given power to shine bright and be more. Let’s choose that.

 

I Love You, Too

taken by 9 year old ryder - aug 2012

Brad taught me such an important lesson during the early years of our relationship, before we were even married, but it took a long time for me to get.  Whenever he took a second, just out of the blue, to tell me he loved me, I’d repeat the words right back to him. To my surprise, he encouraged me not to.

He’d often say, “Thank you – but you really don’t have to say it right back.” That always threw me for a loop. I’d grown up learning that when someone says “I love you,” you repeat it back to the person. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. The nice thing to do. I felt bad, I told him, if I didn’t immediately mirror that love back to him.

But that, he told me, was exactly the point. He never wanted me to feel obliged to say those words. He hoped I could just  receive the love sometimes – without feeling like there was any expectation attached to it. Say it if you really mean it, he told me, but also give the words a chance to sink in.

Phew. For a life-long people-pleaser, it was really hard to just feel the love vs. act on it. He saw the way I deflected kindness and compliments and unconditional love by throwing those gifts back at people like hot potatoes. And he loved me enough to want me to feel that I am enough, that I am worthy, that I am treasured. Such a huge gift.

Happy 13th anniversary, dear. And for the record: I love you, too. So much. 

Optimists Field {The Post I Almost Tossed}

Don’t you LOVE that moment when something in your LIFE just clicks? It’s like the sweet relief that comes after fumbling with your seat belt or struggling to unlock a door – times a thousand. I watched it happen over the weekend – and learned so much in the process.

On Friday night, Ryder’s baseball team – coached by Brad – played their last game of the season. It had been a rough year, sports fans. No matter how many practices they had, the boys just couldn’t get it together. In the stands at “Optimists Field,” we parents kept hope alive…but got used to witnessing dropped balls, strike outs and overthrows as Brad tried to {loudly} pump the boys up on the sidelines. Despite their shortcomings, the team didn’t give up; they kept playing, they kept smiling, and they kept rejoicing in the free slushies after each game.

Ryder's catcher, Brad's the coach & Tru is chief cheerleader!

They had no chance of making the playoffs, so we knew Friday night was the Green Machine’s last game. Had this group of eight- and nine-year-olds seemed lazy and unmotivated, we all would have understood. But they were the opposite. Those boys took the field and something clicked. As they caught pop flies, made glorious outs at first base and got hit after hit, all of us in the stands were equal parts stunned and overjoyed, squealing in disbelief! It was so fun to see the kids’ broad grins and wide eyes as everything they’d worked on all season long finally came together.  The Green Machine won their very last game, 18-1.

What those kids accomplished was not by chance. A moment of glory like that doesn’t happen for quitters; it happens for people who persevere, who stay motivated, and keep the faith. Something clicks when you’ve been trying like crazy to make something work – and it finally does.

*****

Yesterday, I spent a LOT of time writing specifically about how these boys and their coaches inspired me on Friday – and throughout the season. How they never gave up. How they met small goals time and time again. How they didn’t let their low points overshadow their highlights.

And then I walked away from the computer. When I came back, 3/4 of my post was gone. I have no clue what happened. I frantically tried everything I could think of to get it back, with no luck.

{insert primal scream here}

My first thought? Chuck the whole damn post. I was tired. I was frustrated. I was – I suddenly realized – being tested. Something clicked. Here I had just written all about the Green Machine persevering through challenges and keeping the faith – and how I felt inspired to do the same. It was almost comical that I now needed to address a new challenge…stemming from that post. I couldn’t give up, right?

Thinking of those kids and their resilience gave me the motivation I needed to sit my butt back down and type this out. Finish what I started. I’ve had plenty of instances in my life when a goal felt too out of reach or a challenge felt too overwhelming to move forward. You, too? This was an immediate opportunity – a nudge from the universe – to take what I learned from the Green Machine kids and apply it to my own life.

I will not let a curve ball knock me down.

I will not let my missteps keep me from trying again.

I will find joy in each challenge – and look forward to the giant slushie at the end!

How To Build a Good Fort {and a Good Life}

fort making materials

When I was a little girl, I loved to build forts. I would crawl under blankets draped over our living room ottomans. I would perch on the low branch of a front yard pine tree. My dad and grandpa even created a rectangle playhouse in our backyard, designed by my mom with a puppet show theater at one end and doors that opened to reveal a stage. Talk about building an awesome fort!

I can still feel myself in those sacred, magical spaces feeling gloriously shut off from the world, alone with my imagination. Dirt on my knees, sap on my fingers, joy in my bones. It came rushing back to me yesterday, while we played with our boys in a fantastic fort-building area at the Minnesota Arboretum.

The kids ducked in and out of existing forts, and added materials to others. As Ryder carefully pulled swaths of burlap over branches to make a patchwork roof on one, I remembered the happy freedom of building a fort any which way with anything I could find. And I realized that’s the very same, happy freedom I hope my boys can build their lives with.  The same enthusiasm and creativity we all need to build our lives with.

Much like the very best forts, the very best lives are created by people who are unafraid to be unconventional. They are adventurers in their own back yards, excited to explore what’s right in front of them.

They let their imaginations run wild, undeterred by muddy knees or sticky situations. They relish in the making of their life, the collecting of tools and wisdom and hope along the way.

I want this for my boys. I want this for all of us, no matter where we’re at in the journey. To create our lives like we’re building the coolest forts ever.

The Psychic Reading That Blew My Mind

I believe we were all born intuitive beings, given a precious gift that allows us to tap into our own destiny and connect with signs from the great beyond. But that precious gift is hard to protect and easy to ignore, given all the distractions of daily life. Here’s a glimpse into my path, in hopes it helps shine a light on yours.

I was a highly intuitive child.

 

I think all kids are so perceptive, but the lucky ones – like me – have parents who lovingly support vs. deny their ability to see and sense invisible forces within them and around them. I felt things, saw things and knew things no one could explain. But as I grew up and grew busy, that inner knowing took a backseat to everything else and my trust in it dimmed. My intuition did not go away; it just got buried under busywork.

There were times in my young adult life when I heard it – that still, small voice coming through loud and clear – and I had to choose whether to trust it or ignore it. And you know what? Whenever I chose to follow my heart, it proved to be right. But it was such a struggle to trust that inner wisdom.

 

I gave more power to the voices in my head than the one whispering from my heart.

 

Then, in my early 30s, a couple of things happened that allowed my intuition to seep through the cracks and bubble up to the surface:

1) My healing journey through PTSD and depression invited me to reflect and be still. Good God, it’s amazing what you hear when you just get quiet.

2) After years of feeling trapped in beige cubicles and black blazers, I began to move into my own light, flirting with the possibility of doing what I love and truly loving what I do.

Both of those spirit-shifting transitions, which unsurprisingly overlapped each other, woke my intuition from its slumber. And it didn’t just roll out of bed.

 

My intuition leaped back into my daily life, wide-eyed and ready to rock.

 

At first, it scared the crap out of me; I was so out of practice at listening to my soul’s voice blended perfectly with God’s voice. But it just came rushing in – like it often did when I was a kid. I started to hear words seconds before they came out of people’s mouths. I’d “imagine” things and then they’d happen the next day – or next hour – or next moment. I’d accidentally pick up on the energy of people around me, literally feeling how others felt {so exhausting!}. It was cosmic information overload.

In 2006, I enrolled in an intensive course on intuition. I’d spend the week all buttoned-up at my corporate job, then secretly spend weekends with a bunch of psychics-in-training, hoping to get a handle on what was happening to me. I devoured books about intuition and intention, I meditated lots, I learned to clear myself and ground myself, and eventually I grew more grateful than fearful of this gift.

Later that year, I couldn’t shake the sense I needed to leave my job and set out on my own. So, I booked a reading with a professional psychic who’s since become a dear friend. I had booked readings several times in the past regarding big decisions and had always felt electrified by them; the otherworldly information and advice often blew my mind. But this time, it was different: everything she said, I already knew. Our session was actually…boring. Because I’d become so in tune with my own emotional compass and inner wisdom, nothing she reported was a revelation –  but rather confirmation of what I already knew.

That reading blew my mind in a new way, proving to me I wasn’t just imagining things but was intuitively in sync with my past, present and future. That’s when I really began to make life choices based on what my heart told me. The results were amazing. And I can tell you now that had I not trusted my intuition back then, the most wonderful things about my life today likely wouldn’t exist.

So, why share all of this? Because I want you to know the other GIANT TRUTH I’ve realized during this journey:

 

We all have psychic superpowers.

 

The more I studied intuition and noticed its presence in the lives of others {including SO MANY famous folks who credit their success to their keen instincts}, the more I realized it’s not a gift that’s only offered to a select batch of lucky folks.  Everybody gets their own crystal ball – like a little welcome gift upon your earthly arrival!

Throughout your life, even when you think your crystal ball is nowhere to be found, it’s peeking out from the corners of your life – trying to get noticed. Ever thought of an old friend and then, hours later, run into her for the first time in years? Ever been dealt a low-blow and told people you just knew it was coming? Ever felt a deep sense of peace come over you about a tough decision? Hello, intuition! Those crystal ball moments are your psychic superpowers at play.

Don’t let them gather dust on your soul’s woulda-coulda-shoulda shelf. Open up that gift – play with it, cherish it, protect it and share it with others. You are psychic, baby – we all are. When you own it and trust it, life becomes a magic show.