Painting In My Nightgown

Painting in gownsigned

Loss always carries with it gifts packaged and parceled out in unexpected places. Some of the greatest gifts I have received have come through the backdoor. They weren’t delivered with the spongy sweetness of cake or the sparkling enticement of frosting, but rather crept in when I least expected them, disguised by the darkness of night.


Loss is a natural catalyst, like lighter fluid applied to charcoal briquettes before the flame is ignited. Loss has away of being the accelerator to the kindling about to catch fire. And so now I find that my mother has left behind some of those precious accelerator gifts that weren’t readily available when she was here.


It’s only now that I am free to catch fire, for previously the tussled sea threatened to capsize my attempts at steadying our wobbly craft, dousing my flame with every breaking wave. It’s only now that I can ride the waves of color, become a torch upon the bow, free to stand without fear that the pirates have taken over the ship.


It’s the ebb and flow of releasing the struggle to button down the hatches. It’s finding a package of freedom ready to be opened, so I can release every do-good-adulting, because suddenly painting in my nightgown is liberating. When before it meant a two year old was left in charge.


Now I open every fuchsia and lime green present, rent to the rafters with see through connection, no separation or confusion about who’s the mom, and who’s the child. I reclaim those forgot years and now I get to paint whenever I want in my nightgown. Apparently you can paint your way into freedom if your mom was an artist that gifted you untold colorful backdoor gifts. Thanks mom for all of your color.

We Are Family



Family is important to me. And although I adore my Brady Bunch family, it wasn't until several years ago that my life coach pointed out that family is actually the way I see that world and want to do business, reflected primarily through 1. Relationship 2. The atmosphere or environment of being social, such as a party! The truth be told, my best memories growing up were of the holidays spent in merriment and cheer with the large extended family and of every holiday party I got invited to! I am at my best within family and I believe it's meant to be that way.


Now living in a city built around the corporate structure of banking, you might not think this model for business and life is a good fit. I however, am thrilled with the prospects of what this perspective means. I am thrilled with what this perspective has done in my own life, as my vision continues to grow around community and family, not merely what I can create that might be obsolete in short order, but what a group of people (women my sweet spot) could do to change a city and the world. You see that’s what I believe family has the potential to do. You can see my manifesto about this here.


Family, the Good, Bad and Ugly

Family means a lot of different things to a lot of people. Those who have been hurt by it often want nothing to do with it. I have certainly lived in this reality concerning the instability in my family of origin, but I recognized that ‘s not the whole story. Family is so much more than one snapshot or necesssarily relatives for that matter.


Although like many folks, some of my experiences pertaining to family, have at times left me scattered, frayed and with a defensive posture to avoid being sucked back into a toxic whirlwind, whether through my original family or the family culture of “church” that I have been associated with for thirty years. I am however grateful for the enduring qualities and example of family, relationship and love that swallows up the negative. There is an opportunity we each have to be a part of the solution and not the problem. I saw this modeled profoundly through my Grandfather, the normalcy and consistency in my life.


It’s interesting that our values are often forged as a solution to a very real challenge we ourselves have encountered, thus, my coming to recognize that my struggle with family showed me that I was made for family. We were all made for family.


We Were Made For Family

Although we exist within them, we were not made for corporate structures. We were made for family. We were made for relationship. And because we are valued and truly defined as those who are fully loved and accepted, we can live beyond our structures into something bigger, more satisfying, namely the beauty of relationship.


Remember the 1970 Stephen Stills song, Love the One Your With? Family is about recognizing and loving those around you, where you are. There are a lot of things that keep us from living in this way, especially the whiplash of previous failed attempts that have us looking over our shoulder, tentative, afraid and isolated, the very thing that keeps us separated.


However, when we realize that there is actually no separation from the One who made us, the Source of love, who is not somewhere off in the sky, but within us, all hurt and disappointment gets swallowed up by the expansiveness existing within this Love. Really, where can we go and be outside of this Love except in our mind? We are not far off; we’re swallowed up in love.


When we awaken to this reality it makes it easy to love right where we are. We can love the one we’re with!


When we understand any shortsightedness or misstep of love does not define us, we can awaken to the reality that we are a part of a big family (like it or not) and we are wildly and lavishly loved! Recognizing this creates a celebratory atmosphere where we want to live in shared merriment and joy. Welcome to the party! We are family!

Photo credit:

I've Been Done

IMG_1420I’ve been done

Scraped and shattered

Brittle edges-sandpaper crunch

Layer upon layer peel back the dirt


Surrendered to the brightness of one perfect touch

With scalpel in hand cut down to the bone

Walled off resistance in response to forgotten casualties, relationships dismissed

Ritual’s blinding disregard has gouged heavy grooves in my soul

No eyes see

The gaping


Strings strung true, but it’s all in the tuning

I cave under the musician’s pluck

Alignment to you-colliding with intimate love

Who you’re meant to be

What I’m meant to see

Art in the undoing

Beyond logic, or sanctimonious howl

One lost tree in the garden

Bended knee softens me some how


Not a trifle, as some would like it to be

Splintered and scattered ravaged sons

No one grieves

I’ve been done

Undo me

I'm In Recovery!

ID-10080991Can I tell you a little secret? I cringe when someone finishes a sentence with an exclamation mark like, “amen!” I cannot stomach Christianese! It immediately makes me feel the need to run for the door, because I smell inauthenticity like day old lobster. I question the rhetoric and parroting. The real person seems to be missing and lacks a clear sense of who they truly are. Although I am learning to see past the camouflage to the person, it’s so close to home that it still causes me to spin, like a sober drunk in a room of drinkers.

I confess I'm in recovery. I’m in recovery from institutional religion. Are you wondering what I’m talking about? I’m talking about trying to mash myself into a misshaped cookie cutter image, rather than be who I am. I am in recovery from a groupthink culture that was slowing killing me, a culture of performance, judgment, striving and preferring ritual above

The topic of missing identity that I often write about is real. It’s my story and sadly why much of my thirty-year experience with church culture has felt like a miss hit of smashing my thumb with a hammer. I will be talking more about this in future posts.

Why did it take so long? Why was I trying to be the “good girl” and please so hard? This is what you do if you were the lost child that became the family hero to survive the anguish and emotional abuse of a mom with mental illness. It was in letting go of the ghosts and those that couldn’t bring themselves to make the journey with me that I’ve gotten free. It’s in claiming my true God-image identity that sprung the cage door.

In my journey I’ve stumbled right into a grace encounter, transformation and expansiveness beyond a box sized God into a God that existed before the American church culture’s definition of who God is and who I’m supposed to be. I’ve learned to honor and listen to my inner GPS that signals when I’m betraying myself. I’ve taken up the challenge of vulnerability and authenticity instead of settling for a counterfeit of God, or myself.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJesus loves me, I love him and much of the rest I leave dangling in the realm of unknowing. I choose to pass on pontificating as best I can. I hope to see and love individuals beyond ego driven, polarizing issues that separate into black and white, either or, as I am learning to live beyond the tightrope of performance. I love my friends that are gay, Buddhist, Hindu and lots of other things. 

Hear this: I am not blaming anyone for my lack of clarity around my identity, or my familiar pull to environments that were unhealthy for me. This is the very journey that led me home to myself. The crazy mixed up way that I got here, the story that reads like a Broadway play matters little (although I can imagine wonderful song and dance numbers that would fit with the movie, Saved!)

The fact that I finally found my path and my way out of the matrix of confusion is the reason I help other women claim their voice, their authentic self and their unique God relationship too.

I don’t mean to offend you, but trying not to offend has kept me small. Trying not to offend kept me on the fence, living incongruently, dishonestly, and inauthentically. Being careful to speak only “what builds up” to be silent when I was told to “keep quiet” kept me controlled and living in decline and demoralization. Now days, I am learning to give myself permission to speak things that don’t always build up, because that’s authentic and something’s need to be torn down before building can begin. That’s what getting untamed means.  It’s about risk and courage to face the gap and not shut the door in fear to those that see the world differently. I’m not writing this for debate, or needing to be right, but needing to be real (although I wouldn't mind a little cheering for standing up in my life in a greater measure.)

Heaven on earth 1I choose to live life as an act of worship and today I choose to invest in relationships over meetings and to be my part in the church all around me. I am not tearing down what you may love and thrive in. There are some awesome church expressions out there, but the truth is church is not a building, or a meeting. You in fact might be someone who sees the faith relationship differently too. This is important to say, because I am learning to care and nurture myself. Warning, please don't post a bunch of Christianese on my page or I will have to delete you! :)

Your struggle may not be with the church. It might be your family dynamics (isn’t that where it all starts anyway?) or a work environment that keeps you peddling faster and faster until you’ve peddled right over yourself. Maybe you understood long ago that the struggle was within yourself and you’ve never tried to please, but abdicated your life anyway. Maybe you’re in transition and you want to start recreating your life again.

You are not late, but right on time to start investing in yourself. The place to start is in loving yourself first.

Maybe you know that this is your time, time to invest in the only life you have! If so here are some ways to begin expanding and investing in yourself.

  • Read the following authors who write about the illusion of ego and faith: Richard Rohr books, New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton, Jim Palmer books, The Cloud of Unknowing by Elizabeth Obbard
  • Read Untamed Heart, Releasing Your Creative Genius, by me :)
  • Read Daring Greatly, Brene Brown
  • Register for my 12 Week Online Program, Untamed Joy! Discover tools to claim your voice, your identity and your joy!
  • Contact me to find out about 1-on-1 coaching

Tangled Spaghetti Life



I've been considering the spaghetti nature of life, the bended, twisted, intertwining of human beings, as if curvy noodles in a tangled heap. Throw noodles into hot water and watch them adhere and cling to each other, wrapped up in a mass of loving upheaval like a good Italian family!

When sauce is added to pasta a noodle might be known to slide to the edge of the plate, but generally noodles remain quite connected. You never see a batch of freshly cooked pasta exhibiting independent loner-noodles, separated from the batch. Even though meat, vegetables or a spicy tomato sauce are added, noodles hold on in starchy-cohesion.


Truthfully, I recoil at the thought of starchiness in people. When I sense starchiness I tend to go all independent forgetting that I have my own brand of starchiness, which clings to me like a gnat on flypaper. This is the stiff shirt kind of starch that I am referring to. I have my own propensity for starchiness like the rest of you do. The problem is it gets us stuck with the wrong kind of stickiness! When what many of us truly crave is the cohesion of relational, family-style life together.

So I've decided I'd like to be a little more like a noodle, welcoming the fragrant imperfection demonstrated in spaghetti lives. I've chosen to get untamed, welcome and embrace life and let life's hot water make me more flexible and cohesive in the process. That's what my book, Untamed Heart, Releasing Your Creative Genius is all about.

How are you at embracing this tangled spaghetti-life? How would you like to get untamed so you can truly enjoy the ride?



Join us for a little ‘Untaming’ in our Untamed Heart Online Program beginning July 15th or our Untamed Heart Retreat in September. Learn to embrace your untamed self and release your unique genius! Watch the video below! 

Social Butterflies Need Butterfly Kisses

Pale Green ButterflyI've been through a significant amount of transition the last three years. All of this change, relocating and starting over has made me feel wobbly and relationally uncertain.

Recently I did a new assessment based on core values (I love assessments, because they’re great tools I use as a coach to help clients better understand themselves and those around them) that reminded me of a particular aspect of my personality that has been struggling. Several assessments call this the Wind, Merchant, Exhorter, or Influencer aspect of a profile.

The Fire, Builder, Prophet and Dominance part of my profile compensates well through action and results, while the social, relational, love side is starved to get my hands in the middle of relational bliss and the feeling of butterfly kisses.

Some children love it when you give them butterfly kisses by fluttering your eyelashes up against theirs, while others not so much! I recently witnessed this pleasure with our little Grandson Wyatt. Some of us simply crave social interaction. 

If you follow me on Face Book you may have seen my post reminding readers to share the love with 'Windy' souls:

“Don't forget to validate the people in your life that are the "Windy", "Exhorter", "Merchant" "Influencer" profiles. They're the ones who add a lot of sparkle and shine to the world. Let them know you appreciate their unique style of brilliance.” 

When there is an absence of love and affirmation, or a sufficient amount of relational interchange, my 'Windy' self starts to sink. Naturally relationships change and even cease through transitions, causing an absence of the Merchants core value, LOVE. 

This assessment was a great reminder that each of us moves into 'conflict strategies' when there is an absence of our core value or motivating factors present. Recognizing this can help re-energize us to show up with the very energy that we value and crave. 

How are you meeting your needs related to your core values? Not sure what your core values are? Contact me to discuss the best assessments and receive your own debriefing around them.

Boy Do I Need You!

154One of the tools I use with clients is the Strengths Finder Assessment by Tom Rath, readily available in bookstores or online. This simple tool helps clients identify their top 5 strengths and to put to words what they might not otherwise recognize within themselves. Strengths Finder has now expanded to further help those in leadership. This assessment builds upon the 34 strengths theme by breaking them into four important leadership categories: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking. Whether you're running your home, your self, or a business, you are in some facet of leadership. Identifying where you might need help is crucial for success.

It’s easy to understand the importance of having members on your team that are executors, but imagine the need for strategic thinkers when you hit a dead-end. What about team members that nurture and build relationship, or Influencers that activate, communicate and maximize others?

Just yesterday at the hair salon the owner shared with me that it took a few years to figure out the team mix she needed. Now she has learned to pull from others strengths.

We need each other, boy do we!  Finding the missing links in our own profile opens up the opportunity for great partnerships. I love working with strong ‘relational-executors’ to add to my own executing/influencing/strategic mix. What about you?

  1. Are you able to identify your strengths and weaknesses?
  2. How do you balance out your weak sides with the strengths of others?
  3. How good are you at asking for what you need?
  4. What supports have you implement to get the help you need?

These are all valuable questions for all of us. If you'd like to pursue further strategies for forward focus, vision clarification, inner work, goal settling and apprehending, creation and intentional action consider coaching.