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A Penny for your Thoughts

an ongoing series of life reflections

Changing of Seasons 

November 21, 2016

When life feels out of control, sometimes we need to turn to nature for guidance and stability. Just like our lives, gardens are made of different soil, unique plants, and a variety of insect and animal life.  We must nourish it to keep it alive, growing, and healthy. But sometimes, we decide to stop planting or are unable to find the motivation to richen the soil. Even in times of despair, we must continue growing our garden.


The Seven Of Pentacles

Marge Piercy

Under a sky the color of pea soup

she is looking at her work growing away there

actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans

as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.

If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,

if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,

if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,

if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,

then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.

You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.

More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.

Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.

Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.

Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.

Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.

Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.

Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,

a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us

interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:

reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.

This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,

for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,

after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

Self Compassion 

January 30, 2017

It can be easy to get stuck in this pattern of thinking that my suffering isn’t as bad as someone else’s. Many of us are privileged to not have to worry about our own safety and security so we feel we shouldn’t be allowed to be suffering right now. After all, so many out there have it worse than us, right? The truth is…suffering is not a competition. In times of suffering, we must use self-compassion, but it’s important to differentiate between self-compassion and self-pity.


“When individuals feel self-pity, they become immersed in their own problems and forget that others have similar problems…They ignore their interconnections with others, and instead feel that they are the only ones in the world who are suffering. Self-compassion, on the other hand, allows one to see the related experiences of self and other without these feelings of isolation and disconnection. In contrast, by taking the perspective of a compassionate other towards oneself, “mental space” is provided to recognize the broader human context of one’s experience and to put things in greater perspective.” –Dr. Kristin Neff


3 Myths of Self-Compassion

1. Self-compassion is a form of self-pity

2. Self-compassion is self-indulgent

3. Self-compassion is the same as self esteem



Belongingness 

February 6, 2018

I believe one of the most powerful forms of loneliness comes in feeling as though we don't belong. After all, we're social creatures and we thrive when we are connected to others. Brené Brown defines belonging as "the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us…we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance."


So why do we try so hard to fit in, to present our perfectly curated self to the world rather than channeling our energy into showing up as we are? For many of us, showing up as we are just isn't enough. Here lies the real question - how can we truly value ourselves and know our own self-worth? The answer, I believe, is in how we navigate our mistakes and tolerate the disappointments. Rather than being critical of the outcome, can we instead celebrate the hard effort that was put forth? Instead of judging what we see in the mirror, can we revel in the awesome power of our physical bodies, imperfections and all? Are we able to let go of those fears of what others think of us and instead listen to our own voice? I challenge you to be a kind friend to yourself and to remember that you are enough. You are enough no matter how much money is in that bank account, how many parties you were invited to this month (by the way, you'd be exhausted if you went to all of them), or what size pants you're wearing today (standard sizing doesn't exist anyway). 


So practice some self-acceptance and spend time with people who also accept you as you are. That, my friend, is what leads to belongingness.