life lessons

Making a List


Yesterday’s assignment generated from Day 2 of WordPress University that I have embarked on since deciding this past weekend that Yes, I can build my own website. Here is the writing prompt below.

“Today, let’s write a list. Compiling a list is a way to let loose, unlock ideas, and free your mind. Today, write your own list on one of these topics:

  • Things I Like
  • Things I’ve Learned
  • Things I Wish
  • Things You’re Good At

There are no rules, though you can create some boundaries for yourself by deciding in advance how many items you’d like to include, or by settting a timer — try a list of 15 items, set a timer for 45 minutes.”

The goal seems to be getting thoughts to run freely and wildly, but to contain them somehow in the confines of list making. List making is something I do not struggle with. I am a list maker. I am also a vision board addict. I have them in my office which is out in the open off of my living room forcing me to never forget the major projects I am working on. I just found out about a program called Creately that I almost bought until I realized that I already have organizational charts done that I created myself in excel that work perfectly fine.


My brain never stops. You could say I have the entrepeneurial spirit, like my father, like my grandfather and if I didn’t make lists and storyboards and visionboards, I am certain my head would fly off the top of my shoulders like a spinning top. This intensity of mine, of the creative ideas that move through me as if a spicket was turned on full throttle and being stuck in the on position is part of my writing energy, though. List making, outlines and order to the electricity that is my head helps move it up and out. I am grateful for the ability to know myself well enough to know that all of these ideas must take up a residence outside of this very full brain. Usually the lists are To Do lists, sometimes the lists are dreams and desires, but the theme is always a call to action. 

Organize the basement, put the dishes away, clean the closet in the bedroom, call my grandfather, move the doctor’s appointment from this week to next week, sign up for the art class, even when I am hoping to add areas of spirtuality into a list, as I consider this list making, even that is active. Deepen meditation practice, take more yoga classes, go to Synagogue once a month.

So as this call to action from WordPress University asks me to consider a different way to look at list making and I write today with this in mind. I never use a timer for my morning writing, I let my writing class leaders do that. When I wake up and write, it is my morning peace. This is why I wake up at five am and jump out of bed, so I have the time to write. The prompts are a different way to think. This is what writing prompts do, they open possibilities and creativity in a way that five minutes before would have not thought of. So here I go. This is just a quick list otherwise this writing would be over one hundred pages

Things I Like

  • early rising
  • conversations with interesting people
  • learning
  • writing writing writing
  • going to the library, taking out a book, finishing the book and returning it before the due date
  • collecting typewriters
  • being introduced to new ideas and considering them
  • nature and gardening
  • seeing a cardinal when I am deep in thought about something I am planning
  • watching my son grow up and develop his own identity
  • wearing my grandmother’s lighthouse jacket
  • cooking, walking, going to the beach
  • going to the movies and to museums
  • travel
  • expressive arts
  • being home
  • organizing 
  • leading my team and developing leaders
  • hanging out with my partner
  • being with my close tribe of women
  • organizing fun


  • working out
  • a good stretch
  • remembering my dreams
  • silence

Things I’ve Learned

  • To let shit go
  • To let shit go
  • to not take things personal at every waking moment
  • that when someone leaves your life say thank you with grace not malice
  • living in the present moment is all that is important
  • I am good enough
  • boobs aren’t as important as I thought they were
  • food is thy medicine or poison
  • drinking alcohol is not good for spiritual clarity (but it tastes so good)

Things I Wish

  • I had been better with money management earlier in my life
  • I could see my brother one more time6d33b-1ndLRbRVhNrgu9pHv_-lsMQ@2x
  • my mother and I had a really good relationship
  • I had a condo on Siesta Key for two months a year
  • I had the time and money to finish my degree and get a masters in writing
  • To really make time to research my historical fiction book idea 
  • i was better at growing vegetables

Things You’re Good At

  • Life
  • being a mother
  • friendship and being a strong partner in my Living Apart Together relationship
  • being an exwife
  • developing relationships
  • connecting people
  • owning a business
  • writing
  • creative thoughts
  • kindness and charitability
  • hosting parties
  • dreaming new ideas
  • cooking and baking
  • growing herbs
  • Love 

I am not sure if I have ever done this before, but I must say it was a nice way to start my day. Thank you WordPress. Again.












Going on week eight of no alcohol and week seven of no shopping has created this room in my life for new ideas and a profound energy unrealized prior to these self imposed personal quests. I have written about the need to reorganize, de-clutter and de-nest in this past year of the removal of my body parts, a stripping of the cape so to speak. As a result there has been an intense desire to bare all as it relates to peripheral accumulation that no longer serves. I didn’t know how much stuff I had that no longer served until I literally removed a piece of my body and for some reason, this opened the floodgates. I still refuse to admit or acknowledge the cliché of cancer being a gift. Fuck that. Cancer is not a blessing or a gift; that is like telling a bride that it is good luck when it rains on her wedding day. We all know this is bullshit, but as the words leak from our mouths, our intent is that it will help her or him feel better. For that kindness, I appreciate the gesture.

We caught it early breast cancer is an awakening. This I will accept. It is a release of all that is no longer necessary and for a moment in time, there is a permission to do something about it. Why I needed permission to take this charge BC (before cancer in case this is a first time read) is a curious question. I am guessing that when anyone has LIFE COMING AT THEM the motivation to get shit done just takes over and I have been riding the wave ever since.

I have always said that owning my own company for the past 16 years has been like getting a PHD at Harvard Business School. The good fortune of getting an early diagnosis of breast cancer is the PHD in Life and it happened at breakneck speed. I have cleaned out closets, basements, drawers, cupboards, office space. I have gone through all of my collections of kitchen ware, clothing, jewelry, scarves, makeup, skin care, bathroom toiletries removing every single item that weighs me down. So now I am in the midst of de-cluttering technology. Not a digital detox in the sense that I am getting rid of my phone, though that is coming sooner than later, but opening up every computer between my home, personal and office and my business and dumping files after files into the swish sound of the trash bucket that sits on my desktop.

I cannot believe how much virtual paperwork sits in my computers with no apparent need for use. Why I feel the need to purge even this is beyond me except for the fact that when I do, the immediate lightness that avails itself is such a positive feeling, it makes me march forth. This is why I continue. Consolidating files and creating new ones to house the files in some type of order in my computers takes not only time, but an energy that is different. There is no physical aspect to this like a good closet clean where I am moving boxes up and down stairs using muscles I didn’t know existed despite my regular visits to Kathy Martin. It is a total mind game. I sit on the couch or I stand in front of my business computer and mindlessly hit the delete or move button over and over and over again. There is a rhythm to this. I dare say almost meditative, but it is still staring at a blue screen instead of getting glorious fresh air and trying to find a cardinal against a snowy backdrop. The time doing this takes me from otherwise going outside and feeling a blast of New England frost clean my lungs like nothing else. As I plunge into the documents quickly scanning each one and looking at their dates to determine if they should stay or go, I know that when this major task is complete, I will feel better and have more space for all of the ideas and energy coming at me and through me in the most unexpected ways.

In my business, I hear all day long how no one has any time. Time is so interesting now that more of it has become available to me. This in itself has opened my eyes to the importance of de cluttering. Not only material possessions, but mental baggage. We literally are weighing ourselves down with outer impediments that frankly are in our control as to whether we choose to release or keep. As much as everyone talks about the no time element, in the honest reality it is all choice. Go to the soccer game or don’t, spend four hours on Facebook or go for a walk, clean a closet or watch reality TV. Like money, we all spend time the way we choose to and no one can tell me otherwise. It is that hole that we have filled with distractions to keep us from our glorious selves and I really don’t know why.

I have been part of this hole filling extravaganza. Shopping, eating, drinking, not exercising, stifling my own creativity- all of these outside busy distractions have kept me from facing head on my own personal power. This makes no sense as I write this but what else could it have been all these years. What have I been afraid of? Success, growth? I am speaking of inner not outer, outer is ego, outer is the awards and the acknowledgement of being told what a terrific job you have done. It is the inner that is important. Do I believe the outer and if the two don’t jive, voila- a hole. That is it; that is how the hole starts and how the hole widens. And the wider the hole the more dirt it needs to fill. How interesting. What I have filled my hole with has been what I have given up cold turkey, the trifecta I have so often written about, alcohol, shopping and sugar. Without these distractions, I am an open source hungry for knowledge and ideas and the clarity I am experiencing is indeed an awakening I am ready for. Shedding material belongings by choice not by force like a fire or a flood is a privilege and one that I deeply appreciate. Shedding relationships that don’t feel good, habits that are not healthy and create fogginess are all personal choices and we are all in different places in our lives for these choices.

With the wisdom of hindsight this all started when my brother died. This is when the seed was planted but I didn’t realize this at the tender age of thirty with the world ahead of me. Thirty to forty was about babies and houses, careers and balance. These are important distractions and they helped feed my soul to get me to here and now. I would never change one thing. Self discovery is part of my personal fabric, I cherish the lessons and there have been and continue to be many. I had no idea that the outer layers of unreal protection I had unknowingly built were all a part of the fill of a hole I had put so much in, I actually forgot there was one to begin with. Digging it all out has revealed a richness inside of me ready for the seeds of a new season. And it all started with new boobs, who knew?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
Marianne Williamson

speaking of time- these are all photos taken by the one and only Lou Sousa who makes time for his love of photography and I am a happy recipient. these are from my yard. hobbies are choices and I am grateful for this hobby of a generous friend and neighbor.



The snowstorm called bomb something or other was beautiful, wasn’t it? The last days of December leading to the first few days of January are chock filled with the hopes and desires of a fresh new year coming at me like this first storm of the year. There is a shift that happens this time of year as I prepare for the first month of the year and a good storm in the mix just adds to the chaos. I absolutely love a New England winter storm. Like swimming in the Atlantic in the early month of May when I take my first ceremonial plunge, the New England winter storms keep me tough and ready for anything. It is what makes us New Englanders hardy in the grayness of a winter nor’easter. Of course I get to say this from the luxury of my own super warm house that fortunately kept its power on as I wait for Mike Cordeiro’s guys to come shovel me out.

I realized midway through the storm last night that I left my shovel in my barn that has about two feet of now in front of the doors. I did go out with my kitchen broom though and dig my car out as recommended by our trusty weathermen on TV (thank you Mark Searles). I sit on my couch on my second floor while I watch the darkness turn to magnificent morning after light on the shimmery water I get to call my view and review my first five days of January. Snowstorms give that gift, the gift of pause and reflection.

And Lists.

The list I made for myself yesterday was mighty. Lists of things to accomplish with or without power and I made it through about one third of the list. As I continue to purge and reorganize I am struck by how time consuming it all is. Office supplies, art supplies, clothes, files, housewares, even food and spices require my attention. As I get older I want less, I want less things in my closets and drawers and less to surround me. My grandmother always said you spend your first half of your life collecting stuff and the second half giving it all away. As I made my way through my closets and cabinets determined to continue my purge, I am finding it easier to get rid of things that are less than interesting to my sense of order. Moving shit around for some reason is my zen space. Maybe like gardening and cooking, it brings me humbly and delightfully to the glorious moment free from all outside distractions. There is no shortage of ideas flying into my never-ending brain, and if I execute just a fraction of them, I am happy. This is the entrepreneurial brain I have been blessed with though sometimes it is a mixed blessing.

New ideas though are a process that I have learned to embrace and be patient with. First it is the grand entrance of the idea and it blasts in with a force like the first few months of romantic interlude. It then exits at the speed of light or settles in like a new sweater does as it becomes a part of my go to comfort. This is what ideas are like and I cherish every one of them knowing that only a few will survive. I have been contemplating opening a satellite home and vintage store within my existing business to have an additional outlet for retail. My team looked a little horrified when I considered bringing this into my actual space so as I made my way through the remaining piles I had the revelation that I would open my store in the spring in my barn and garden in the back of my house. Now that the original idea has a literal home, I have a new direction and this feels like a wonderful way to start my new year. A place to rest my beautiful things I no longer need and no longer need me, but are too valuable and interesting to bring to a dumpster.

As I made my way through the piles, I reached the final pile of office work and this is what my focus is this first week of January, to organize my files. There is an utter satisfaction of brand new files and folders with shiny new labels standing at attention in my three drawer white Ikea filing cabinet. “I am not going to procrastinate filing this year,” I say confidently at the start of each year. Then I do and the piles grow and I scold myself for letting the piles get to that nuisance of a place. This is how I feel about organizing technical stuff. Technical organization is a full time fucking job and I don’t like the H word but I Hate technological organization. It sucks me dry and I fantasize about the day I can delete it all. I do have one fun rule and that is when my emails build up to over two hundred I select all and DELETE. It is so fun. I have been contemplating lately doing this with everything, just DELETING. Sounds so wreckless and I can hear my comrades screaming, “You can’t do that, you own a business!!!” With the sound of pure terror in their voices. I have two cell phones, three computers, and that is just my house and office, never mind my two businesses. I have five computers there and four phone lines, two business email accounts that require checking. It is mayhem, but I am fully aware it is a necessary evil, but between texting, emails, phone calls and social media checkins and checkups this in itself requires a part of me I don’t want to give up. Not to mention the full time reminders to update every one of them. Doesn’t it seem that everything needs updating like every other day? Good thing I own a company that provides relaxing services — I need them for all of this tech chaos I call my life. This is why the old fashioned store in my barn speaks to me, no phone, no computer, just great music and great items while people meander in my garden drinking lavender lemonade and enjoying the present moment I get to enjoy. After all I my own boss, I am the conductor, the director, the line leader and if I don’t want to do something, ultimately I am the one who gets the luxury of making the decision. I wouldn’t change this for anything. Sometimes though, I want to shut it off and down and not make any decisions.

Oddly and very ironically, this is what I most relished during my last few surgeries, the forced excuse to be brought to my knees and make no decisions except to heal. Why is it that I have to wait to be brought to my knees to do this? I guess it is ultimately because I don’t want to. I like busy-ness, chaos, ordering chaos and reinventing myself on an almost seasonal basis. I enjoy change and fixing things. The best result of all of this writing has been as I write I work it out and in the process, find myself accepting the quirkiness I get to call me. This has been the best gift of all, self acceptance in the process and for this I will take all of the mayhem, good and bad, calm and chaos and let it be.