Don't Be Afraid to Go There

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Life will take you places and show you things you never planned or expected. It will put you in the paths of others you didn’t choose or imagine. It will amaze, astonish, hurt and disappoint you. It does this, not to make you dread or tire of living it, but to implore you to rise above the challenges, find the joy that is to be had, and make the good parts count.

No one is guaranteed an easy, problem-free life, nor sustained happiness, even if it looks that way for some from your individual perspective. It’s just not realistic, and most circumstances are not what they seem from the outside anyway. A life that invites us to evolve, learn, grow, improve, and enhance our relationships with ourselves and others is possible for all of us, yet only a reality for those who accept the invitation.

Meditating and practicing yoga can only do so much. A positive attitude can only get you so far. Educating yourself on philosophies to live by is just knowledge if you don’t integrate what you’ve learned into your core being and live it every day.

For many, there are issues that require a different level of attention and care. Don’t be afraid to go there. To ask for help. To see yourself and show yourself. To explore your hurts and feel your wounds so you can begin to heal them. To admit you may not know how to move forward in the most healthy and beneficial way. To accept you can’t handle everything yourself. To acknowledge that you will only heal, grow, and cultivate resilience if you first approach what needs to be addressed.

It takes bravery to be vulnerable, not to be closed off or in denial of pain. Denial is useless, and does nothing but perpetuate a problem and impede healing and growth. See a theme here? 💪❤️🙏

#stopthestigma #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthawarenessmonth

Yes Pause Button

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Sitting on the side of the road in my car. PCH. Appreciating Mother Earth and so many of her gifts on this Earth Day 2019. The air, the sea, the land, the sunset. The quiet stillness. The majestic beauty. 🌎💙

Needed to take a break from life and its realities. Pushed that imaginary pause button... you know, the one I said in my post last week didn’t exist while I was on vacation, after I got the news my aunt died. Well, I manifested it into reality tonight. Yep. That’s the great thing about free will... we can do what we want, when we want, as we see fit. For our sanity. For our self care. For no other reason than we need a f-ing break. If we can’t see a better way to process a difficult moment.

I needed to pause. All of it... Mothering, wife-ing, woman-ing, adulting. I took time for myself; frankly, to sob. To let it flow out of me, TWICE today. Earlier this afternoon and right before taking this photo. Afterward, I was able to breathe and reflect. To be still. Stillness is salvation. Then, I could begin writing this.

When things suck, they can suck BAD and sometimes there is nothing we can do about it. Nothing but breathe. Nothing but accept the sh*tty turn of events or reality with which we are faced. Nothing but recognize that it will pass, eventually, and there is always a way through. Somehow. Some way.

Yes, pausing works... in the short term. You can cry. You can meditate and clear your mind. It is peaceful, therapeutic even. A release. A welcome escape. But then you have to process. To face and it, IN your life.

I most often write to find my way through. To process the hard. To understand the pain, to nurture the heartbreak, to empower the inner strength hiding below the vulnerability and fear, to give voice to the feelings deep in my heart that otherwise would stay silent.

I write, and it all comes alive. I write, and it all feels surmountable, somehow. I write, and my heart is able to feel and say what I cannot communicate otherwise. For me, writing my words gives breath to them... to my hurt, love, fear, sadness, joy, passion, anger and disappointment. I feel and work through it. I don’t numb, avoid or deny. I write. And THAT is everything.

#yespausebutton

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

No Pause Button

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We grow. Birthdays are celebrated, or missed.

We love. Anniversaries tally up (today’s my 14th wedding anni.), or cease.

We live. Spring break trips bring joy and make memories (as they have for us over these last ten days).

Yet amidst all the simple pleasures, life milestones, and fun adventures, heartbreak can still live inside us, and tragedies can still happen.

My aunt was admitted into the ICU on March 7th... my mom’s only sister, a stand-in grandmother to my kids, and the woman who made my annual birthday getaways to Newport Beach more memorable.

The month of March was hard. She was very sick, and none of it should have been happening. Family banded together. Friends offered support. People cried, others prayed. Life’s tough challenges reminded me (again) of who and what was important to me.

In the midst of hardship, life continues on and we continue along with it as best we can. Despite a desire to stop time and integrate my feelings on what was happening, before moving forward and facing it, life was moving on relentlessly, with no pause button. So we do our best to make the best of it. We keep the plans we’ve made and make more plans for the future.

While I’ve been out of state on vacation for my kids’ spring break this past week and a half, my dear aunt passed peacefully away back home in California last Saturday, April 13th. She was only 62.

It’s devastating and sad. We loved her. She was the last link to my mom. She loved us. My kids will miss her, as will I.

I have so much to say to her and about her. I have so much to feel about what happened.

But for now, this has to be it. I’m still out of town and my kids are waiting for me to rejoin our vacation adventures right now. When I return home, this all will still be waiting for me. The grieving. The service preparations. The time and space to reflect. The writing about her. The laying her to rest. The peace. Life continuing. Life moving on.

#nopausebutton #wegrowwelovewelive #movingforward #lifemovesprettyfastifyoudontstopandlookaroundonceinawhileyoucouldmissit #ferrisbueller #artinstituteofchicago #chicagomuseums

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Soul of an Artist

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My eight-year-old is an artist. His drawing is currently on display at the City of Malibu Student Art Exhibit; so we attended the Artist Reception last Friday night.

Yes, he loves to draw and he’s good at it, but the simple drawing he quickly made at school and submitted to the show is not why I call him an artist.

He is an artist because he has the soul of an artist.

I resist saying, “he takes after me,” as it is not for me to take credit for his passion and talent. It is his and his alone. I am merely a fellow artist, a kindred spirit. Yet he is wild and untamed in his artistic expression, and I am less so. The “wild and untamed” in me remains dormant for the most part, set free only when I feel really passionate about something, or someone, and only when I feel safe.

But that doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t think you’re supposed to wait to feel safe first to share yourself or your unbridled passion. You need to just do it, show your wild side, be yourself, and own it, right? Well my son does just that. He doesn’t wait for anything... not permission, nor an appropriate time or place. He lets loose whenever and wherever; and as such, his behavior is often a bit disruptive, I’m afraid.

Before I took this photo of his dad holding him to look at the art, he was (as usual) his most expressive self, acting to get a laugh from anyone watching. Crawling around and behaving goofy, with his loud voice echoing through the high ceilings of Malibu City Hall, amidst people quietly browsing the art gallery, he was a performance artist without a captive audience. Wrong time and place, and as a parent, not cool with me. We had to wrangle him in b/c teaching him to reign himself in is still a work in progress. It is a DAILY challenge.😓

I am confident (read: hoping) more self control will set in as he gets older, and that he finds the perfect outlet to share his unique gifts. For now, he is unabashedly HIM, 24/7... over the top, flamboyant, lively and animated. Such unbridled energy, such freedom w/o reservation. Qualities many artists yearn to cultivate to aid in effectively expressing themselves.

Maybe I need take a cue from his playbook more often when sharing myself, and my art. 🎭

#soulofanartist #studentartexhibit

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Surreal Moments

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Some of the best parts of the human experience are the ones that defy explanation. Ones that seem a bit surreal as you are experiencing them. When you don’t have a logical explanation for the bliss or the beauty, and you don’t question or doubt anything in that moment and instead just FEEL it... 😌 those are the best moments in life.

Moments so pure, so grounded in raw sensory touch, powerfully ignited by soul connecting passion for life, or for another human... they make memories you can never shake (nor do you want to).✨

On a smaller scale, a glimpse of this surreal type feeling can be found when watching a spectacular sunset, especially when parts of the sky look like this. It didn’t even look real. It looked more like a Monet painting I have seen hanging in the Getty Museum.

Yes, I know Monet painted what he saw in actual, real skies; but he was an impressionist and his artistry lent a surreal tone to his work. Often we see these breathtaking images in museums more than in real life; so when we experience them in person, it’s pretty special.

All I had to do was take the highway, houses, and trees out of the line of sight within my camera’s viewfinder, and this real life painting appeared.

#monetsunset #paintedsky

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Love Oneself

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It is harder to love oneself than it is to love others.

We can feel so much love for and have such a passion to give to those whom we love most; and still not give that same love to ourselves.

Perfectionist tendencies can make us feel ashamed of our flaws, and even lead us to shame others who don’t meet our lofty expectations. This is my hardest and most challenging work.

From a young age, the expectations I put on myself and others were always extremely high. So high that they often created an unrealistic vision for what I thought life “should” look like, and how people “should” behave.

Idealistic expectations are impossible for anyone to consistently reach, as nobody is actually perfect. We all have our own internal weaknesses and suffer from external circumstances beyond our control. Yet, being faced with anything short of what I had originally envisioned often left me in a state of presumed defeat, and with the feeling that others had failed me somehow. Or worse, that I myself just didn’t measure up.

Subconsciously, I felt that if I wasn’t being treated fairly, or if my accomplishments weren’t perceived as good enough, then that must mean I wasn’t deserving of love. This misconception is common among individuals, like me, who grew up feeling they needed to prove their worth in order to receive love. Owning this wounding, discovering my tendency toward shame, and consciously waking up to this destructive thought pattern, was integral in my awareness toward change.

Still, reprogramming negative behaviors and breaking habitual thinking has not happened overnight. It has been a long journey, one I am still on. To find peace in the “what is” of life - cultivating equanimity in the face of imperfection - is hard.

Acceptance of who I am, where I am at, and what I have done, has graced me in stages, and is something I can cultivate most days; but it is still not my resting state of existence. I consider myself a recovering perfectionist, but like a recovering anything, I’ve not eradicated it for good.

I strive to embrace the dark corners of myself as much as the bright and shiny parts, for this is the only way to truly love.

#loveoneself

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Move Forward

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Everything is coming together. All in due time. Be patient. Be Aware. CREATE. Move forward. Love others. Love yourself. GIVE. Accept what is. Improve what you can. Believe in what’s possible. GROW. Take action. Find strength. Trust in you.

⚓️ HOPE.
➕ Stay Positive.
💪 Persevere.

Be integral in making your hopes a reality. IMAGINE. See it. Be Open. It’s all just around the corner. SEIZE IT.


#moveforward #fridayinspiration #newmonth #Feb1

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Don't Do It to Look Hot

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Don’t do it to look hot. Don’t do it to get other people’s admiration, envy, or approval. Don’t do it so those you think are hot will find you hot too. 🔥

Do it to take care of yourself, be strong, move free, feel good, and live long. If “looking hot” is a residual effect, and admirers let you know it, don’t let that define you or your self worth.

Physical “hotness” is fleeting; but the intangible force that attracts others to us and us to them on deeper levels will outlast any surface attraction. Depth of character, kindness, respect, and vulnerability are at the core of the connections we make with those who are meant to be in our lives with longevity.

Deep connections will survive casual flirtations and fleeting infatuations every time; so be sure to put equal energy into the fitness of your mind, heart, and soul as you do your body. Redefine your hotness from the inside out.

#dayfive #dontdoittolookhot

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Focus Through It

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When you are challenged to the breaking point and are weary of the climb, remember it’s not going to get easier when you decide to try again... in an hour, a day, week, month, or year.

The only way through any kind of discomfort is *through* it... not around it or away from it.

When you know what you need to do to get where you want, but aren’t sure you have what it takes to get there, focus on how you want to feel when you reach the top. Focus on what you are working to overcome, what from which you want to heal, and what existence you want to live as you move forward toward your goal.

Focus on how the strength you will gain on the journey will fuel your desire to persevere, and how every step you take brings you closer to where you want to be.

#dayfour #focusthroughit

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

You Know

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When everyone around you is marching to a different beat, keep time with your own drum. Don’t let the pull of the majority sway you to abandon your instincts on what you believe is the right path.

You know what is true. You know what to do. You know.

#daythree #youknow

*Originally posted to Instagram and Facebook

What Is

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Life will continue to surprise. You never know exactly what will come next.

The not knowing means there is always hope that what you want will come; but the unpredictability means there is no guarantee you will get it. No rushing results or controlling other’s actions.

Trust that everything has been leading up to now, and what is about to happen. To what is about to be realized in your heart and mind. What IS being realized. Believe that the culmination of your actions and choices have brought you to where you are supposed to be.

Live with gratitude, hope, positivity, and perseverance; and continue to take positive action, but also surrender to what is. Allow “what is” to be, accept what isn’t to be, and keep the faith that what has yet to come, will come, if it is meant for you.

#daytwo #whatis

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Favorite Season

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Driving on PCH one mile from home, the kids and I pulled to the side of the road to enjoy this, knowing these colors would be gone by the time we got to our deck. (They were.)

Dotting the horizon, the squid boats share their soft glow... a familiar and comforting sight, and a definite sign of fall. 🍁

#favoriteseason #nofilter #geeztheworldisbeautiful

*Originally posted to Instagram and Facebook

Promote What You Love Instead of Bashing What You Hate

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There are, and always will be, things we love and things we hate... about situations, opinions, people. We can even feel love and hate for a person, circumstance, or reality simultaneously.

I try so hard not to use the word hate, and constantly tell my kids to express this strong emotion using “I don’t like” instead of “I hate.” Yet truthfully, among adults, hate is more accurate a word to use when it comes to what we passionately oppose, that with which we vehemently disagree, or realities we have an impossible time accepting.

I can say I hate prejudice, intolerance, racism, sexism, ignorance, misogyny, chauvinism and injustice; and there are many people who would think I am justified in my hatred.

But there is a different brand of hate on the opposite side of mine; and if that hate is what fuels my hate, then more hatred is being generated than love.

Allowing ourselves to feel hate on such a deep level can bring us to a dark place, and will never pave the way to the light.

When I suffer disappointments and dashed hopes, when my precious (possibly idealistic) expectations are not fulfilled, and when I envision the way I think others will behave (or I want them to behave) and find instead they do the opposite, hate can manifest within me, despite my desire to feel empathy instead of anger.

If we allow hate to grow in our hearts - out of fear, pain, outrage or conditioning - it can eclipse the love for which we have an unlimited capacity.

Giving love without strings attached, expectations placed, or guarantee of when or if it will be returned, is scary. Loving unconditionally is risky; it can make us feel vulnerable, powerless, and taken for granted.

Love itself is the opposite. It is powerful. It can transform and transcend. And promoting what we love - equality, justice, respect, tolerance, acceptance, hope, positivity, perseverance, generosity and kindness - especially in the glaring face of hatred, can be the difference between fostering a life consumed by ugliness, and creating one that thrives on compassion.

Multiply that exponentially, and it’s not just a life... it is a nation, a world, a global consciousness, a future generation.

Newport Coast Golden Hour

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#fbf to when I was down in Newport Coast visiting my Aunt Jan on 10/5/14, four years ago today. I started publishing my writing on my new website earlier that year, so that new creative outlet and my new lease on life really helped fuel me to stay fit. I had been doing a lot of running and yoga, and my body was feeling and looking better than it had since I had the kids. (They were four and seven then.) When you have strong motivators, they can make you focus and thrive in ways you never expected.

It was an amazing time for me. Yet there was some bad that came with all that good. I hadn’t been as attentive a mother as I had usually been, and my passion for writing and all the feelings that consumed me at that time led to some selfish choices. (I wrote about this in my piece “Write On.”) There is a small part of me that wishes I could snap my fingers and go back to that year and do things differently going forward; but the larger part of me, the part that knows time travel is impossible, tells me to take all that I have learned over the last four years and use it to inform my choices over the next four years and beyond... For without the risks I took and effort I made that year, I would not have yielded all I have written thus far. Without the mistakes we make and heartaches we suffer in the past, we would not know what better choices to make in the future. 💪☀️ 👙 🙏💕


#ilooklikeiminacomicbook #newportcoast #crystalcove #goldenhour

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Fleeting Beauty

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I sat alone on the beach tonight at sunset, before I went for a run, looking out at this.

It only appeared exactly like this for a matter of minutes before growing dimmer, duller, and eventually darkening into night.

It was like looking at a stunning piece of art in a museum, only to have it morph and change before your eyes.

There is so much beauty in this world that is fleeting; yet, even if it goes away, the affect it has on you sustains and the memory of it remains, so it can never be lost.

#malibusunset #zumabeach

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Happiness is Being Croatian

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This is me, my older sister and brother, and our mother at our ranch before leaving home for a school picnic, circa 1977. Yes, we are all wearing matching “HAPPINESS IS BEING CROATIAN” t-shirts, written in big, bold, blue letters. My dad and mom were used to being in the spotlight, so I guess they thought we wouldn’t mind it either; however, it was hard garnering attention for something about which people didn’t even understand or know existed.

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, the largest suburb of the melting pot that is Los Angeles, California, I was often asked what I “was”... what mix of blood and ancestry could I claim proudly while chatting about such worldly topics on the elementary school playground at recess. The other kids would boast about their combinations of Italian, Irish, Spanish, German, Mexican or English... declaring, “I’m 50% English and 50% Irish,” or “I’m half Italian and half German.” When asked what combo I was, I would timidly answer, “I’m 100% Croatian,” to definite looks of bewilderment.

“What is that?”
“It’s what all four of my grandparents and my parents are.“
“What country is that from?”
“Yugoslavia.”

This answer did not enlighten them further on the topic; they just looked at me funny.

They had no idea what or where Yugoslavia was.

The Croatian people fought for and won their independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, and more Americans learned about this small nation on the coast of the Adriatic Sea through the news of its war and victory. When their basketball team competed in the 1992 Olympic Games for the gold against the USA “Dream Team,” Croatia was in the spotlight on the world stage of sports; and I was able to share I was Croatian without confusing people.

Over the past few weeks, my half Croatian kids and I have been watching Croatia on another world stage of sports, as their Hrvatski nogometni savez (Croatian Football Federation) soccer team have been dominating the FIFA World Cup, yelling at the TV and jumping up and down each time Croatia scored or won a match. I can’t wait to watch them take on France in the World Cup finals on Sunday, as this 100% Croatian American gal will be watching and yelling and jumping up and down once again for Croatia. ⚽️

#fifaworldcup2018 #croatiasoccer

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Purr Purr...

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Three months away from turning eight years old, and my son still takes the liberty of crawling onto my lap to cuddle whenever his heart desires.

He likes to nestle in and rub his face on mine, his mop of hair blinding and tickling, while he says “purr purr” like a kitten looking for pets.

He’s heavy and cumbersome, invades my personal space, and periodically checks me with his flailing limbs, unaware of his size, and unfettered by the fact that he is no longer a baby or toddler.

And yet... these displays of love and affection compose the air I breathe and give me life when life is trying to suffocate me with challenges and heartbreak.

His raspy voice uttering “purr purr” is the sweetest and most life affirming sound in my ears these days; and my gratitude for him and his love knows no bounds. 🙏⚓️💙

#sometimesyoujustneedacuddle #breakfromlife #staycation

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Failure is Success if We Learn from It

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Another hot tea inspiration for ya... “Failure is success if we learn from it.”

We can’t expect to grow and evolve if we don’t fail and learn from our mistakes. Consider your life a success if you have already learned this lesson; but if you haven’t, know that there is still time to adopt this viewpoint, forgive yourself for your failures, and learn the lessons they are there to teach.

I myself have been learning a lot of lessons lately. Sometimes it takes a few times to make the same mistake before the lesson is clear and we are willing and able to integrate it inside us. We are only ready to accept certain realities when we are ready... there is no rushing the process. Sometimes we convince ourselves and others that we accept things, while still secretly holding onto a grain of hope that things will turn around somehow and finally go the way we wish.

In the past, I have seen this kind of acceptance as giving up hope. This is a tough one for me, as Hope is my anchor ⚓️, my North Star. Losing hope was the ultimate failure in my past view, so I had often tried to hang onto it when I really should have let it go. When we continue to hang onto hope in situations that clearly don’t warrant it, it can be seen as a form of insanity. As it has been defined, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

I feel more sane now than I have in years. By accepting what I had not been able to let go of previously, along with changing my attitude, perspective, and actions, I have seen different, better and healthier results. This does not mean I am getting what I want; as I certainly am not. It just means that I am finally ready and able to accept the reality that I am not getting what I want. That I have made peace with the loss of hope in certain things, and have replaced dashed hopes with new hopes, new goals, and new expectations for different results. Only time will tell how it will play out; but regardless of the outcome, I know I am already a success. ☕️

#hotteainspiration #teatagwisdom

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook