Closing a Chapter

There is a new sense of settled in my life ever since baby Juniper joined our family.

We had gotten used to living in the land of uncertainty. This meant that when we became a family of four and landed on solid ground I still had sea legs. It’s only been in the last month or so that the wobbly legs and queasy unease have dissipated.

And what is on the other side of this incredible journey?

A whole new world. Cue Aladdin and his flying carpet.

But seriously, the interesting thing about this new world is how truly new it feels. Going back to life the way we were just doesn’t make sense and there is a deep and profound knowing that this is opening up for our next chapter.

I don’t know exactly what this next chapter will hold, but I promise you there will be adventure, simple joys, big learning, lots of love, and ice cream, always ice cream.

What I do know is that once again there are certain things that just don’t fit the way they used to. And since you all know my practice of creating space, here I go slashing the excess.

Sadly one of the things to go is this blog.

I kept thinking I’d want to come back. “Oh I’ll just take a 6-month maternity from it” I thought, but 6-months has come and gone, and it just doesn’t fit the way it used to.

I started this blog after the birth of Teo and the start of my business. And now with Teo at 5 and half and my business completely transformed I know that my blog too needs to grow and change. I LOVE to write, and I find so much learning when I process thorugh story-telling, so I know some iteration of my writing will return, but I need space away from this one to know what blog 2.0 will look like.

And because people continue to find meaning in my words, for now I will keep this live, but no new content will be created.

In the meantime you can always find me here and here and here, and I’ll be sure to let you know when anything new emerges.

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Broken Open

And at last we found each other.
From the far ends of the universe our souls collided.
We were broken open.
In loss.
In joy.
In fear.
In love.
Reminding us all that we are profoundly human.
And as the dust settles and we slowly emerge, changed forever,
We notice,
Now we are four.

Welcome home sweet Juniper Quinn. We are forever grateful you chose us.

all photos by the phenomenal Abi Q
















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While You’re In It: My Top 10 Coping Strategies

So I’m in the middle of something ridiculously big. And although I’m not going to go into details because this just isn’t the place or time. Let’s just say it is bigger, and more daring, and more vulnerable than anything I have ever done.

Bigger than jumping out of a plane, bigger than starting my own business, bigger than falling in love, bigger than becoming a mom.

And being this vulnerable, this open, is TOUGH. Not tough like terminal illness, extreme poverty, or child abuse, but it is most definitely stretching me in ways I did not know I could be stretched.

And the hardest part of this whole thing is that I’m just in it.

So what does one do while going through the BIGGEST experience of her life?

Cope.

And so I offer you my favorite 10 coping strategies that have been keeping me just shy of over the edge into mental breakdown.

1. The Ocean | Now I’m blessed to live driving distance to the beach, (but I think any natural habitat heals). There is something about the air by sea that changes my entire being.

2. Dance Parties | Turning up the tunes and shaking it in my living room is unbelievably cathartic. Nothing like a little JayZ, Justin T, and Rihanna to turn my mood around.

3. The Inner Circle | I find myself hiding a bit from large social gatherings and small talk, but my closest family and friends are seriously keeping me sane.

4. Perspective | This is hard, but it could be worse. Way worse.

5. Lean into the Upswing | I find that situations of this magnitude of vulnerability make you completely raw. But not just raw to pain, raw to love and joy, and it is so much easier to feel those in this broken open place. So when I find those moments I make sure to cherish them.

6. Find Sanctuary | So you know that empty mantel? Well I filled it and the rest of my home. And it is beautiful. I sit in this space and feel such peace and safety.

7. Choose Vulnerability | “No I’m not fine, but I’m hopeful and I’ll make it through whatever the outcome.”

8. Fill Me | With good food, delicious cocktails, gentle touch, sunshine, heart-pumping exercise, long drives with the windows down, laughter, songs that make me feel, and films that make me forget.

9. Let Go | Of expectations of how I think I should be, how I wish it was, how I think others are seeing this. Of assumptions and judgements. Of plans and opinions.

10. Forgiveness and Compassion | For the times when I let it get to me, lose my temper, become obsessive, choose to numb, play the victim, don’t want to get out of bed, cry at everything, take it out on others who don’t deserve it, etc. etc.

** DISCLAIMER – I suck at spelling and my grammar is even worse, but you know what? I’m not letting my inner perfectionist keep me from writing and posting here on this little blog. I mean come on, it’s a blog, so please excuse any errors, I promise it wasn’t on purpose.

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Teo’s teachings | Cowboys and Love Guts

On our way to meet a friend, the cowboy in my back seat announces,

“Sometimes I love so much it feels like my heart is going to blow up.”

“Sometimes I feel that way too.”

“I love you and papa, and Maya, Auntie Liza, and Grandma and Grandpa, and Oma and Grandpa Brian, and Aunt Carrie and Uncle Chris and all my cousins. I love Henry, and the Stellas, and Aunt Katrina, and Auntie Jess, and Auntie HoJo, and I love my teachers and my soccer coach, and . . . .”

“Yup there is a lot of love out there, bear. You have so many people to love and that love you.”

“But not just them I love that guy over there,” pointing to a random man on the street, “and the sky and those trees and that building.”

“Its a pretty incredible world when you look at it that way.”

“Mama when my heart explodes it sends love guts all over.”

Spoken like a true five year old.

“Well sir, those are the best kind of guts around”.

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Wide Awake


image credit dead end soul


And there you are,

In the middle of your daring journey and you know someday it will be a great story,

But I think if you stopped any great protagonist in the height of the abyss they wouldn’t be able to talk about the epic tale this will make some day.

Transformation is painful.

Breaking open takes courage.

Courage is not the absence of fear.

A young man keeps living after his little brother has taken his own.
A woman chooses another to be called “mama” by her child.
A father shows up and loves in a way he was never loved.
A grandmother offers kindness to a stranger in-spite of her wounds and scars.
A child stands up to injustice, facing ridicule himself.
An addict looks deep into her depths to heal, really heal this time.

The capacity of the human spirit inspires. Courage abounds. I pay attention and let myself feel.

I am wide awake. I see you. I feel you.

** DISCLAIMER – I suck at spelling and my grammar is even worse, but you know what? I’m not letting my inner perfectionist keep me from writing and posting here on this little blog. I mean come on, it’s a blog, so please excuse any errors and feel free to e-mail me any corrections as long as you are kind and remind me that grammar and spelling are not really measures of intelligence or value, but hey a more polished piece is always nice.

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My empty mantel

Right before christmas we painted our living room and in order to do so moved everything off the walls and mantel, shelves and furniture. Once the paint had dried and it was time to move things back the old things that had been on display just didn’t quite seem to fit anymore.

Now you may be wondering if this blog has now taken a sudden turn into the interior styling genre, but fear not this is all just a metaphor, cause hell if my truck can be a teacher, so too can my mantel.

How many times have we been faced with the realization that something just doesn’t fit anymore?

Maybe it’s a stagnant relationship, an unfulfilling career, a living situation, or maybe something smaller like an ongoing commitment, a hobby you used to love, a hair style, or even a mantel.

Now I’m not trying to say that clearing off my mantel is anywhere close to what it takes to change careers or end a relationship, but what I did notice was how uncomfortable it was to have an empty mantel.

This discomfort urged me to do one of two things:

Option 1: Immediately put all the old stuff back because the old not quite right stuff is better than nothing.

Option 2: Run out to my favorite home store and purchase an entire new mantel decor.

Now humor me and think about these two options as they relate to the bigger changes.

So because I’m me, I chose to lean into the discomfort to see if there was maybe an option 3 and this is what I discovered.

Sometimes it takes time. Time to find the perfect fit. Time to sit in the empty to know what you truly want. Time to vision and dream so that you can act from inspiration instead of out of fear.

A friend of mine recently quit his job and took a month sabatical before moving into his latest consulting gig. This space allowed him to leave the disfunction of his last organization and create boundaries around how he works moving forward. Direct quote from him, “Ariana why didn’t you tell me it could be this good? Oh I guess you did.”

One of my best girlfriend’s family sold their house and moved to a rental to feel out a new city before making a long-term commitment by purchasing something new. After living there for over a year she knows exactly the neighborhood she wants to put down roots.

My sister ended a long term relationship shooting her trajectory into uncharted territory. And instead of jumping into another relationship right away she gave herself time to be alone, something she had never really done before. Now a year later she says the personal growth and self knowledge that has come from this time is more than she ever expected.

Now I get that these examples come from an incredible place of privilege and are scary daring acts to do, but even just setting the intention for space can help. Maybe it’s something small for you: a weekend spent in a new town, a month reprieve from that weekly commitment, less scheduled time, an empty wall/room/mantel.

And once you have that sliver of empty the key is to sit with it and let inspiration arrive. What would feel so good in this space? What am I missing? What am I yearning for? Lean into the discomfort until you see what is on the other side.

As far as my mantel, we’ll have to wait an see, but for now I stopped at the farmers market and bought a bouquet and that is all it really needs.

** DISCLAIMER – I suck at spelling and my grammar is even worse, but you know what? I’m not letting my inner perfectionist keep me from writing and posting here on this little blog. I mean come on, it’s a blog, so please excuse any errors and feel free to e-mail me any corrections as long as you are kind and remind me that grammar and spelling are not really measures of intelligence or value, but hey a more polished piece is always nice.

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Resolution Shmesolution

Seriously. I am DONE with resolutions.

“Why?” you may ask, “Aren’t coaches all about visioning and setting intentions?”

Well yes, I am.

And in fact if you are looking for a simple goal setting process, I posted one here and love to use it in my business (& life) planning.

BUT

What I am against is another excuse to beat yourself up. Another reason to tell yourself that you just aren’t measuring up. Yet again a way for the not enough stories to come pounding down your door.

Darling, you are super strong whether or not you run that half marathon.
You are important whether or not you land that big deal.
You are beautiful whether or not you lose that 30 lbs.
You are wicked smart whether or not your finances are in order.
You are enough whether or not you ________________.

So instead of thinking about all the ways this year will be the year you perfect life, think about today, this moment. How can you lean in and live this moment for your highest good, even if your highest good is sitting on the couch and staring out the window.

And if by leaning into this moment you are inspired to run, land big deals, become healthier, figure out a budget, or whatever, then by all means DO it! But if you don’t, that’s okay too, just keep leaning in and loving you, the rest will fall into place.

Sending you so much love in 2014.
xo.a

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don’t forget you are made of star dust

Could I start with a cheesier title?

But seriously.

Each of us is made up of tiny little bits that originated from a huge universal explosion.

image via National Geographic

Each of us made of the same stuff as stars.

Pretty effing magical to me.

And these tiny elemental bits they don’t disappear even after we’re gone, who knows what they’ll turn into, a cactus in the south-western dessert, the bitter wind over Siberia, a snail on the bottom of the caribbean sea, a toaster in some future civilization’s kitchen, or maybe even at some point another star.

It’s hard to get frustrated with the everyday or forget our inherent worth when we remember what we are made of.

** DISCLAIMER – I suck at spelling and my grammar is even worse, but you know what? I’m not letting my inner perfectionist keep me from writing and posting here on this little blog. I mean come on, it’s a blog, so please excuse any errors and feel free to e-mail me any corrections as long as you are kind and remind me that grammar and spelling are not really measures of intelligence or value, but hey a more polished piece is always nice.

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. . . and just see what happens

I know, I know, I’m getting wisdom from Sex in the City, but when I saw this on Abi Q’s Instagram feed I knew I needed to pin it all over my house, tattoo it on my arm, burn it in my brain.

The holidays are hard when you’re waiting.

Let me rephrase that,

Waiting is hard.

But as I sat across from my girlfriend in a local cafe and listened to her and I try to figure it out, we both kept coming back to the same simple truth:

There is no answer, there isn’t a right way, there only is what is, and that we can work with.

So on this week of gratitude (in the US) I give thanks for what is,
and what isn’t,
exactly as it is,
and isn’t.

And the freedom to just see what happens.

That includes you, yes you.
So grateful for you, the ear whom I speak to through this keyboard.
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for being.
Danke.

xo.a

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The teacher in my driveway

I’m driving down broadway and I catch my reflection in a store front window.

I’m taken aback.

Who is that woman with her coffee mug, yoga pants and 3 ton beast of a vehicle that used to be the recipient of my judgement?

Ten years ago I would have made fun of that woman.
Would have said never will that be me.
I’m better than an SUV,
I’m more conscious of my impact than that.

This of course coming from a time when I didn’t own a car or a house. A time when I walked everywhere, hitched rides when needed, and knew the public transit system like the back of my hand.

But this summer as we packed every inch of our suburu outback to the brim with camping equipment and sand toys, groceries and beach towels, I knew we needed something bigger.

The view through the rearview included our 75lb pup perched atop the cooler and my son without an inch of wiggle room resting his extended legs on a foot-well tower that would tumble the second the door opened. I knew it was time to grow.

“Where will we fit another carseat?” I ask my husband.

“You’re right,” he says “let’s start looking.”

What we wanted was a car that could take us on off-road adventures to our favorite remote camping locals, could seat 7, just in-case of twins, or grandparents, or soccer teams, and oh you know, could it be fuel efficient too?

We soon realized this car did not exist and so we gave in and let go of our environmentalist values saying, we won’t drive it that much and the SUVs these days get the same gas mileage as our older hatchback.

So off to the dealership, to “just look”, reiterated by my hubby 10 times.
“We will not be purchasing today”.
“Okay, okay, I got it.”
Little did I know he was trying to convince himself.

We walk on to the lot and there it is and from the look in his eyes I know we aren’t leaving with out that truck.

So now this beast lives in our driveway.

My husband’s guilt is soothed by commuting by bike to work and I drive our hybrid most days. But when the dog is coming along, it’s an SUV day, so now every Wednesday I load the kid and the pup and drop them at their respective play groups, mapping my way across the city, becoming the woman I used to condemn.

Now we could go into a debate about SUVs. How horrible our dependency is on fossil fuel. The way we are killing our planet, or what a privilege it is to even own a car like this, let alone two.

But instead I’d like to talk about self-acceptance and non-judgement.

Because for me it’s a car that sends me into a spiral of shame. Maybe for you it’s a job or a new role, aging or your body, or maybe something else.

But seeing this image of me reflected in the storefront window offers a new opportunity to love myself just the way I am, internal judgements and all.

As I send her love and forgiveness, acceptance and understanding, I soften.

I soften to myself, I soften to the world, and slowly the harsh judgements that keep us separate dissipate.

We find our teachers everywhere, even in the driveway, who is teaching you today?

** DISCLAIMER – I suck at spelling and my grammar is even worse, but you know what? I’m not letting my inner perfectionist keep me from writing and posting here on this little blog. I mean come on, it’s a blog, so please excuse any errors and feel free to e-mail me any corrections as long as you are kind and remind me that grammar and spelling are not really measures of intelligence or value, but hey a more polished piece is always nice.

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Posted in Living Simply, mama-hood, Simply Life | 7 Comments