I’ve come a long way in the last five years. In March of 2016 I wrote my first Optimists Journal blog at a time when I was only putting my thoughts down in hopes that my kids would understand who I was and what I was thinking when they were old enough and ready to understand. Thanks to my awesome technical knowledge at the time, I lost the first 10-20 while updating my website…on my own, bad idea. From the start, my writing was a mix of sports, relationships, and mindset. Since then I’ve gone down many rabbit holes to discover the facts behind mindfulness, sleep, nutrition, recovery science, and how they relate to telling an optimistic, and ultimately triumphant, life story.. I have proven to myself that telling stories is an amazing way to heal, learn, teach, and encourage others to reflect on their own story to celebrate the good and learn from the challenges. Writing gives me clarity where I didn’t have it before, and helps me see where to step next on the path ahead. Over this time, the process has proven to be fulfilling in ways I didn't know when I started. At that point I just knew I had to do the next right thing. I’ve learned all about the depths of imposter syndrome and how to trust my gut. As I’ve moved through, one day at a time, my confidence and knowledge of myself and what I am meant to say and do on this journey has been a transformation from feeling small and unworthy to aligned and connected with my own gifts and talents and recognize how to connect them with all of the good and passionate people in the world.
I believe that the greatest gift we can give to the next generation is our own self awareness, so I work to do things that build mine, set an example, and teach them how to extend grace to themselves and others when things get dicey. If you have signed up for a membership, I wanted to thank you for being a part of this inner circle, for emailing me when something I say resonates or even telling me when you disagree. I don’t believe we all have to see the world the same, or that if you don’t agree with me, it’s a mark on your character. I wish I felt that sentiment throughout our society when discussing so many important issues of the day. My new site has ways we can keep up this conversation and learn how to be better together.
As always, I have a few takeaways and things I’ve learned through this process over the last five years:
Building a team of like minds, with a myriad of talents, allows everyone to do what they do best. No one is meant to walk this road alone. We are all connected.
I know real healing has happened when my inner life, outer life, and online life have massive synchronicity. The lessons that I have learned are also the lessons I can teach, and yet I continue to feel them again on a bigger stage with even deeper meaning. There is no point of arrival, just the continual pull to learn more and do better with the knowledge gained.
When I write, I feel a deep connection with my purpose: to connect generations through understanding of what makes us whole and create relationships that leave legacies.
Every moment of this journey, from second guessing, learning to be seen, letting go of the fear of what other people think, and even the days spent sitting in pajamas on the couch paralyzed with fear that I couldn’t say what I wanted to say on my own were an integral part of this journey. Like everything else it’s all connected and it all had to happen to Be Better. Nothing has been wasted.
Now you will get to see my vision to connect generations of athletes and parents and inspire them to be better, one day at a time, and create a community of excellence and inclusion.
What I know to be true today is that the process really is the dream, and every day I enjoy the process that I have created. Your process will create room for you and everyone around you to shine. And that is exactly what I want to bring forth in this new space. Are you ready? I am.
With love & optimism,
The events of the week have done their best to knock me for a loop and I’m grateful for faith and meditation to help me keep my feet on the ground. When I read the news, things don’t feel right to me. I see big glaring holes in reason, hypocrisy around so many corners, and profits that matter more than people. Even the practicality of the day is being challenged. Do I stop working and go wait in line for a free Covid test handed out at the high school to test my asymptomatic child, or do I push forward with the work I am passionate about to create deep health and wellness in the world? There are only so many hours in the day, and the powers that be seem to want me to run from place to place, seeking out tests and spending money to have them expedited to comply with more regulations so that the kids can try to maintain some semblance of normalcy. It’s beyond stressful for them, in a way that sinks into their nervous systems in ways they can’t even label. There is real damage being done, I see it firsthand every day. They are learning that even when they work hard and follow ‘the rules’, what they work for can be pulled from them in a moment's notice. They are being taught to isolate and hide rather than connect and it’s far more damaging emotionally and mentally than this latest mutation of the virus that all the news would have us believe lurks at universities, high school functions, small sporting events, and conventions where kids gather to share their talents, but somehow misses The Rose Bowl and the Laker games. At this point, it’s hard not to believe that financial gain for big corporations is being valued far more than the life experiences that we only get certain times in our lives to experience. The damage being done right now will be studied and talked about for generations.
My frustration comes in large part because this is not March of 2020 and one thing I have always believed is that when you know more, you can and should do better. But what I see is that we know more, and we keep doing the same thing. This virus has mutated to a form that on average, seems to cause a nasty cold, not death. They say the hospitals are still full, but that is a function of far more than COVID cases. I’m convinced now that if we haven’t already had it, we are going to get it. So why would we close schools, cancel games, fan attendance, and other experiences for our kids when there is no significant risk to their health? Unless we have other risk factors, which we as human beings need to be autonomous enough to recognize and assess our own risk, the cycle at this point seems to be get sick, lay low, recover. As you can see, I’m frustrated, more for the next generation than even for myself.
But I still want to understand why:
It’s ok to focus, and even force, a vaccination that neither stops the contraction or the transmission of the virus but not on treatment protocols for people who are infected with it?
It’s ok to tell someone that they have to put a shot, or multiple shots, in their body, but believe in a woman’s right to choose?
It’s a conspiracy to follow the money trail to big corporations while small businesses are being decimated by closures and the isolated way of life that is promoted in the name of safety?
It’s difficult to find a bed in a mental care facility for someone who has been infected with Omicron, when the risk to their life is far less than the mental affliction that is causing such deep pain?
My point isn’t how I feel on any one of these topics, but the hypocrisy that seems to exist in the perspectives. I’ve talked this week with so many whose lives have been affected by the virus. But the truth is that I have never talked to anyone who has stared down death that doesn’t want to go out living as large as they possibly can. Life will continue to be a risky proposition on so many levels (not just this one singular risk that we can’t seem to take our eyes off for a minute), but we are here to live it. Give the next generation a chance at the memories that are bigger than any risk that is posed to them. They deserve regular life, and as I continue to trust my gut, I know it is more than possible.
With love & optimism,
In the last week I’ve driven over 1,100 miles, much of it by myself, which gave me lots of time for podcasts and music, two of my favorite pastimes. But for some of it, I turned off all the sounds and just gave myself time to think. When I do this, I can feel my body settle, my blood pressure lower, and my mind relax. I find that I’m so curious about the world and what’s in it, I take in a lot, but it always requires time to integrate. Music and lyrics, as they do for everyone if we let them in, brings up feelings and emotions that help us identify our own human experience. It’s why I am slightly obsessed with the gifted songwriters out there. They have the ability to put the human experience on display in the most powerful ways in just a few minutes.
The morning of December 28th, on what would have been my 25th wedding anniversary, I woke up in San Luis Obispo. To be honest, it hadn’t occurred to me until I was pulling into SLO the night of the 27th and everything in me wanted to stop for the night instead of trying to make it home. Still, after everywhere I’ve traveled, it’s one of my favorite and most peaceful spots in the world. After dropping Luke at Stanford, the girls getting themselves home to SoCal in a separate car, and Matthew staying a few more days in Fresno, a night of quiet on my own, after the holiday craziness was calling and I was happy to be able to take it. Healing takes a lot of pattern recognition and coming back to SLO reminds me of what I knew about myself 25 years ago that I allowed to get buried, trying to make other people comfortable or, as they say, putting on the oxygen masks for others before you secure your own first. But as I travel the path, and trust that the people around me are doing the best they can with what they know, I find little room in my heart for regret. Of course the main reason for that is the four of them that have been the driving force of goodness in my life for 21 years. But beyond that, to know that wisdom is pattern recognition and that without the gift of time and the ability to slow down and listen, I wouldn’t know what I do about myself, somehow it all makes sense, and I find peace. The only expectation I have is that I keep learning, and am brave enough to apply what I learn. So I came up with some good areas of focus for myself for 2022 to take care of myself so that I can stoke the fire in me to bring the stories that I am excited about that promote generational learning and healing to the world. Hopefully you may recognize where some of these apply in your own life;)
Be kind, to ourselves first, so we can bring kindness to others. Maybe we hear this a lot, and it goes in one ear and out the other because we think we are already doing enough. Find another layer. Cut yourself some slack, stop the all or nothing thinking. In this space we can see the choices that we have in our lives. If there is one thing that I am convinced of from the stories that cross my coffee table every day, it’s that people fight battles within themselves and in the world that are greater than their Christmas cards will ever show. Kindness that starts with ourselves creates space to have these healing conversations that are vital to our lives.
Trust Your Gut. If we have been in situations where questioning our own sense of self or the reality that surrounded us was part of surviving, or maintaining some type of social equilibrium, we lose touch with what we know is true at our core - that each of us has a unique gift to bring to the world. Sometimes it gets buried under layers of insecurity and hurt, but the truth is it’s always inside of us, and its voice never goes away. I realize how long I have spent letting that voice stay quiet, and then slowly finding it’s way out, and the courage to do that has always come down to trusting my gut. 2022 is going to be spent writing and talking about ‘what I meant to say’. Every day is gift, and no, you have not missed your calling.
Spend time in silence. There is no greater pull on our intuition and intelligence than modern day distraction. In 2022, I want to grow my own mindfulness practice and help other people start or grow their own. It’s not only the place where we get to separate our thoughts from our actions, it’s the place where we are able to connect to the Divine. And that’s where the healing and sense of calm resides.
Sink in with my music, fiction, movies & animals. This goes back to being kind to myself. So often I have thought that these things are a waste of time, but when I look back on my most joyful moments of 2021, all four take a prominent and simple place in my joy. Rediscovering fiction was a highlight of 2021, when my back was hurt and it was the only thing that took my mind off of it. Now I realize it’s novelty is an amazing gateway to my own creativity and flow.
Continue to learn. This is the caveat to my above precept that people are doing the best they can with what they know. We must continue to learn. When we do, our story progresses instead of repeats…not just for ourselves but for the generations that come after us. And there is not a single thing in the world that motivates me more than that.
Promote conversations that heal. I’m thankful for the science that backs up my storytelling ways. From the neuroscience of flow and positive psychology, one of my favorite tools has been this VIA character assessment. It’s a great place to start on the journey of self awareness. I’m thankful that forgiveness always comes out in my top five character traits because throughout our lives, we need to extend that virtue to ourselves and others over and over again. And that’s ok, it’s part of the human experience. Silence doesn’t heal, the conversations need to be had, and forgiveness is always a healthy part of that process. In 2022, I’m looking forward to taking this to the next level.
Those green hills of San Luis Obispo reminded me that in this life, we don’t get do overs. But, if we keep our senses alive and hearts open, we have many opportunities everyday to do incredible things. In so many ways, a new year is just another day to learn more and be a little bit better than we were the day before, but there is nothing wrong with a little rest and a holiday weekend to remind us of the greatness we are all capable of. Some times you have to pause to pursue. Here’s to embracing the pause with all the kindness, love, and optimism we can muster and having the courage to say what we meant to say in this New Year. Can’t wait to show you what I have in store to do just that in 2022.
With love & optimism,