My Moment of Surrender

“I’ve been in every black hole
At the altar of the dark star
My body’s now a begging bowl
That’s begging to get back, begging to get back
To my heart
To the rhythm of my soul
To the rhythm of my unconsciousness
To the rhythm that yearns
To be released from control

I was punching in the numbers at the ATM machine
I could see in the reflection
A face staring back at me
At the moment of surrender
Of vision over visibility
I did not notice the passers-by
And they did not notice me”

“Moment of Surrender” lyrics by U2

Being a novice is so out of my comfort zone…am I alone that I expect myself to be an expert at whatever I try to learn, and to skip right over the discomfort of sucking at something? This is why I will never take up golf. Well… there may be 800 other things I would choose to do before playing golf for 4 hours…but I digress.

I REALLY like to be comfortable. As I write, I am wearing my new “Women’s Fuzzy Popcorn Cardigan Batwing Sleeve Open Front Chunky Sweater”, sipping hot coffee made from my Costa Rican chorreador,  am listening to George Winston on the Google Home network that Jerry has set up in every room our house (he even installed new thermostats so we can ask Google FROM OUR BED to change the temperature), with a special blend of DoTerra lavender, peppermint and lemon essential oils in my diffuser, viewing my work on my relatively new 33 inch monitor (so big that I no longer need my new BRIGHT RED or Leopard Peeper reading glasses to work!). There will never be a shortage of crocheted blankets while I am around.

I drink in comfort through each of my senses like it is hot cocoa with whipped cream and tiny slivers of chocolate that melt in my mouth on a cold fall morning…It is warm, delicious, soul nourishing and where I love to be most of the time.

I have spent the better part of the pandemic making my home as comfortable as possible, realizing recently how deeply I connect to comfort as a coping mechanism for hard things. One glance at my online shopping orders over the last 18 months will prove this – or just read the previous paragraph!  Some of these were gifts, but for the rest, I did choose each and every purchase with the intention to spark some joy into my life in small and big ways with no regrets.

Comfort is my JAM.

Discomfort – is…well…uncomfortable! Why would anyone in their right minds choose to be uncomfortable?

Well, let’s start with the obvious. Growth requires discomfort – physically, emotionally, and/or mentally. Making mistakes and having to learn some lessons…uncomfortable (and often painful). Choosing to try again after failing – definitely uncomfortable. Resolving conflict – uncomfortable.

Now let’s go deeper…

If I really want to live my values, it requires discomfort.

I used to find meditation incredibly uncomfortable. Sitting still with my body and thoughts does not come naturally to me – maybe not to anyone else either I suppose…In the past, the best I could do was to tolerate/enjoy a few minutes of breathing exercises and go about my day. But sitting on a pillow and really surrendering to my thoughts for more than 3 minutes at a time – um, hell no!

Surrendering to meditation, to go “in” to my body, mind, and spirit and to really explore what is in there …sometimes hiding in the shadows…may be one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever done, and yet it is something I am really starting to enjoy. It is still not natural to me, and I am using a variety of tools to help.  

There is something about the word “surrender” that really speaks to me. I am no longer fighting the discomfort of listening to my intuition…or actively trying to avoid it. I am surrendering to it – letting it take me into the unknown (which is the ENTIRE plot of Frozen 2. This idea is NOT unique, I am well aware).

While I can (and will) continue make my surroundings comfortable, I am also exploring how to get more comfortable exploring my intuition and surrendering to its rhythm. Stay tuned.

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(Just like) Starting Over

Reset (verb): to set, adjust, or fix in a new or different way.

Well thanks, 2020 – I guess you had to knock all of us over the head to tell us it was time to reset. I have been looking at my 2020 Vision Board that I so hopefully and energetically assembled back in January. This year I actually framed it and hung it in my office right next to my chair…and since I have been cooped up in my home office, I had started to view it with resentment…the trips I didn’t take, the concerts I didn’t attend…the best self I was trying to become…

Last weekend, I decided to start over. To reset. To adjust my view – my expectations – my goals for the remainder of 2020 because I don’t want to keep feeling like a pinball – a victim to the chaos that 2020 has thrown upon me. Let me be clear – I am not trying to live my best “COVID 19” life by completing projects, learning how to bake, training for a virtual marathon or ANYTHING close to any of those things. I baked some cinnamon bread once. That was enough. I am just trying to survive without succumbing to the stress and edginess I carry with me every day wondering when we will get to a new normal.

If only there was an actual reset button.

I am working on resetting my expectations – which these days means simple things like finding something to laugh about each day. Like about an hour ago when Jerry and I laughed about my absolute FREAKOUT after getting mayonnaise all over myself while cleaning the dishes…Anyone that knows me well knows I hate mayonnaise with a passion. A deep passion that goes back to my childhood “wounds” when we took 10+ hour car rides several times a year, and you couldn’t “have it your way” at fast food chains, so I was told to scrape the mayo off rather than waiting for a custom order… (do I still carry resentment about this – umm, clearly yes)…and yet somehow I fell in love with someone who dips EVERYTHING in mayonnaise. So he cooks, and I get to clean up the GOBS of leftover mayo on the plates. Oh the sacrifices we make for love…Tonight – the mayo went everywhere! Jerry came running thinking I cut off a finger – but alas, just a mayo explosion in the sink and all over me. It took a few minutes, but I was able to get from freak out to laughter – which pretty much sums up how I am navigating 2020.

Jerry and Eric help me to find these moments of joy and laughter every day. When I stop to see the world through Eric’s eyes, I am able to live in the present moment and to stop taking myself so seriously. Today one of those moments was stopping in the driveway to snap a picture of Eric in his new kicks (these are made by Billy Footwear and remind me of my red chucks from high school) and his new Baby Yoda shirt.

The force is strong with this one especially bc of these awesome kicks.

Yesterday it was playing with a $2 bubble machine that has Cherry Jelly Belly smelling bubbles.

Best $2 we ever spent!

Last week it was dancing in the kitchen to “The Bird” with our cockatiel, Prince (please ignore my messy kitchen and see above about letting go of expectations…). Have you ever danced to “The Bird” in your kitchen? I HIGHLY recommend it. Come on…you can do it! Even if you are all alone – I have, and I promise it will put you in a good mood. Just ask my brother in law John! “You don’t need no finesse or no personality…You just need two arms and an attitude!” I swear I want this to go viral – so if you do it – add #ericsepicjourney and #thebird so we can see the joy spreading!

Have you heard of a brand new dance called “the Bird?”

Tomorrow – we will find something new, silly, and fun, I assure you.

Let’s be honest – I have a lot more on my plate than a mayo explosion…but I am no longer going to be let 2020 win. I am changing the game – or maybe just refusing to play a game I cannot win. I am letting go of what I thought I wanted this year – and I am resetting.

Last weekend, I decided to completely redo my Vision Board – which is an even bigger version than the original from January. It really helped me to get clarity on what matters to me. I just do not have the emotional, physical or mental strength to do more than exactly what I want to do. I do not have any extra to spare for meaningless BS. I want to be brave enough to still look forward to the rest of the year, and I want to stop feeling helpless.

My “updated” 2020 Vision Board

This Vision Board IS my reset button.

Give a Little Bit (or a lot!)

For anyone who reads my blog pretty regularly, you already know I write a lot about Eric and how awesome he is. Well, today I am writing about Eric’s school, Pattison’s Academy – and how awesome it is!

Most of you know that Eric came to live with his Dad and I abruptly – and I had no previous experience with caring for a special needs child. As I wrote in my last blog, I welcomed Eric with all my heart – I knew I was all in, but that didn’t mean I knew exactly what I was getting into. I was apprehensive, and at times fearful, of what was ahead considering how little I knew about how to actually take care of Eric.

From the moment Jerry and I stepped into the doors of Pattison’s Academy (this picture was taken on our first visit), we instantly felt a sense of community and love.

Our first day with Eric at Pattison’s Academy.



Eric’s teacher Zach and his assistant Ryan welcomed us with open arms, and we felt a sense of relief immediately and knew we had a lot of support to help us through a tough transition. Zach told us about their big “spin” fundraiser that was taking place a week later – and we jumped right in and helped raise about $1,000 in about a week’s time. At the event, we met a lot of the staff – Eric literally stopped in his tracks to give a beautiful young woman a giant bear hug – which is how I met Coley, who has since become almost an extension of our family.

That first year, Zach, Ryan and Coley taught me how to push Eric to achieve his potential. We knew Eric was not steady on his feet and not physically strong, so we were very careful with him. We set up Eric’s bed without a box spring to make it easy for him to get in and out of bed. Well, imagine my surprise one day when I saw Ryan encourage Eric to lift himself onto a changing table that was more than twice as high as his bed – and he accomplished that with no problem at all! We ordered a box spring that day, and Eric has never had a problem getting in or out of his typical sized bed ever since. I used to carry Eric into the car – until I saw Ryan walk Eric to my car and tell him to climb in all by himself… Carrying Eric into the car ended IMMEDIATELY! From them, I learned the phrase “you do it” – which we use TO THIS DAY to encourage Eric to do more on his own.

Because of Pattison’s Academy, I have learned how to be the best mom I can be.

The Pattison’s staff knows how to safely push Eric to do more, to bring him out into the community more – and are kind, patient beyond measure, and nonjudgmental in their communication with me. I call his teacher Lisa and her assistant Tina my special needs “mom coaches” because of how they have helped me to learn and grow as a mother. This Christmas, I was so nervous to take Eric on my first plane ride together to LA – but I knew Eric could handle it – and I knew we could too. The support I received from the entire teaching, therapy and nursing staff was immeasurable. We have such a special relationship full of trust – it is truly priceless to me!

Pattison’s Academy has made such an impact to my life that I decided to join the board about a year ago. We have a vision for Pattison’s to become the model in our country for educating young students with severe and multiple disabilities in an integrated therapeutic environment. I know this model has worked for Eric and our family – and I want to help Pattison’s to impact more children that would benefit from its programs. As our fundraising chair, I spend most of my spare time helping to raise money for our mission. Once again, I have found myself “all-in” because in my heart I know I am doing the right thing by giving my time, treasure and talent to this organization.

Because the state funding in South Carolina is abysmal for students with multiple disabilities, Pattison’s relies on donations to help fund our programs – which include the charter school, therapy services, early intervention, and an AWESOME and unique summer camp. We also provide bus transportation for our students – which in a county that is over 1300 square miles – is no easy feat.

We would like to be able to grow to serve more children, and to add music & art therapy among other initiatives. All these things require generous donors and patrons to help us to achieve our potential…so that students like Eric can achieve theirs.

I ask you… if you have been moved by my stories about Eric, his accomplishments, and the impact he has had on our lives – please recognize that Pattison’s Academy has been an important factor these last few years.

Please consider supporting Eric and our fundraising team, and make a generous donation to this amazing organization! Our team goal is $4,000 – and we need your help to make it!

Nobody Told Me (There’d Be Days Like These)

Let me tell you something that no one told me about summertime. For working moms (and maybe stay at home moms too – I am the former, so that is all I know).


I used to love summers. The slower pace, unstructured days/weeks, vacation travel…

These things that I used to love are now my enemies. I have a shit-ton to do. Who has time to relax and go with the flow??? NOT ME! Well – that’s what I thought until I HIT THE WALL on Monday.

On Monday, I was guilty of doing what I do best:

  1. Having unrealistic expectations
  2. Taking on too much
  3. Trying to control uncontrollable situations

Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well – no one got hurt, my partner Jerry dealt with my drama, and I practiced some self-care and realized I needed some alone time to do some “work” on myself. I went for a long walk on the beach, and played my favorite play list REAL LOUD. I finally allowed myself to FEEL some things that I have been avoiding. If anyone out there saw a fast-walking woman crying and then laughing on the Isle of Palms on Monday night – well, you maybe you thought you saw a crazy lady, but really you just witnessed me having the “feels”.

Have you ever fought a nagging feeling? Trying to just “power through” without really getting to the root of the issue? I do this all the time! Then I realize how exhausting it is to play “Whack a Mole” with my emotions – because just like that dang game, that mole pops up somewhere else no matter how hard I hit it. It’s like playing through the pain – I think I can overcome it by just buckling down, by trying harder…working harder. Oh, doesn’t it just sound exhausting??

I have learned some good lessons over the years – and I recognize when my wiring gets me into trouble. I literally can feel it in my body. I am a giver and a doer, and am self-reliant – these are qualities I really like about myself, but too much of a good thing is…not a good thing.

My walk helped me to release that nagging feeling – to finally FEEL it, own it, and start to move through it. At first it felt a little ugly to admit to myself what I was feeling… which is this: I finally realized that on days like Monday, I miss my more simple, carefree life that I had before becoming a full-time mom. In doing so, I brought that darkness out into the light and saw it for what it was – fear. Once I did that, I felt a release – which was followed up with a renewed sense of myself, and something I can only describe as forgiveness – a feeling that helped me to be kinder to myself, and that resulted in some self-confidence and hope that all was going to be ok.

I am pretty sure that every parent feels this way at times. I think is natural and healthy for parents to feel this way – and it felt liberating to realize I can feel this fear while at the same time loving my stepson Eric unconditionally.

My lessons learned:

  1. Expectations: Expecting myself to be a super hero is setting myself up for failure. I felt like a failure on Monday. As much as I admire Wonder Woman – I am not her. I am human, and I need to cut myself some freaking slack. And if you are reading this and nodding your head – you probably could benefit from doing the same thing! Failure is not a kind word. I value kindness, and I value myself – so I am purging the word failure from my vocabulary. I value my ability to do a lot – but I also value myself and my sanity! I can fail (the word fail is totally fine) – I can fail – I have and I will again – and that helps me to learn – but I am not a FAILURE. Nope. Let’s just not use that word to describe ourselves anymore – got it?
  2.  Taking on too much. I have a few remedies for taking on too much:
    • Say “NO.” Without explanation.  “NO” is a one-word sentence. When I feel the need to explain myself, I see the people-pleaser coming out – that person who doesn’t want to disappoint someone, that co-dependent Laurie that takes care of other people at the expense of my own feelings. “No” helps me practice self-care and to continue to break those old habits that did not serve me well.
    • Delegating to someone else. The trick is to allow that person to do it differently and maybe not as well as what you would have done. Because let’s be honest – I know there are a lot of us out there that can get a LOT of shit done, and done pretty well I might add! LOL – see how we can ourselves into trouble?? My friend once said, “I know if I got hit by a bus, my husband would probably feed my kids popcorn for dinner every night, but you know what – he would keep them happy and alive, and that is what matters.” That sentence has stayed with me for years – and helps me keep things in perspective. I know some incredible women who raise the bar HIGH. Expecting their partners, or really anyone else, to be as amazing as they are is… well…see #1!
    • PAUSE. Take a minute to pause and get present. A quick exercise to get present is to go through your 5 senses – what do you see, smell, taste, feel, and hear in this moment? Pausing helps to get perspective – and often when I do, I can catch myself and realize that just because I am busy and “doing” does not mean I am accomplishing something that is meaningful. Pausing helps me connect to the bigger picture – my purpose. If the list of tasks I am trying to work through doesn’t serve that, I can let some things go.

       I just had to buy this shirt for Eric a few days ago – and now I realize it has some deeper meaning. “Slow Jam” is my new name to taking a few minutes to pause, slow down and get present to what’s happening – just look how happy that sloth is! And how happy Eric is! Lessons to be learned here!!


  • Ask for help. Self-explanatory, but usually not top of mind for me. That’s what I did on Monday, and guess what – Tuesday and Wednesday have been a whole lot better!

3. For trying to control uncontrollable situations – this one is tough. For me, recognizing what I am doing is a huge help. If I catch myself, I can sometimes redirect my energy. It sounds corny – but I use music a lot to help me relax and let go of control. Let it Be, Let it Go – whatever it takes!! I literally wear a ring that says, “Let it Be.” I need the constant reminder! Laughter, fun – anything I can do to help me lighten up also helps me to let go of control. Thankfully I have a partner that really helps me with this. Somehow Jerry can make me laugh during these episodes – there’s probably a survival instinct on his part, but hey – if it works, it works. Pausing to help someone else also helps me to gain perspective – and serves as a reminder that the world does not revolve around me. Taking some time to myself to do the “work” – to get to the root of my feelings, and to move through them rather than avoid them – that helps a lot.



Not quite sure how to sum up – besides to say that I am going to “slow jam” the rest of my week. And I hope you do too!

The Unforgettable Fire

January 10, 2016

To be sure my head and heart are firmly planted in 2016, I decided to try my “burning ritual” with Jerry this week in order to let go of what weighed me down last year.

Jerry and I sat down to brainstorm about what to burn…it wasn’t too hard to come up with a good list! I am pretty good at figuring out what we need to work on (Jerry is used to this by now – and he’s happy to be along for the ride). It’s doing something about it that is the hard part – that is work.

Here’s the thing. I know that I will continue to struggle with these things this year like I did last year – that is because of my wiring, because of past painful experiences (i.e. baggage), and mostly because I am an actual human being that is most definitely not perfect. And I am certain that more stuff is going to happen in 2016 – and I am sure some of it will be hard – and that some of it will be painful.

Just because I decide that I don’t WANT to feel a certain way doesn’t mean that I can say “poof” and make that feeling disappear. It takes work to process feelings. It takes practice. It takes raising my awareness – getting curious, noticing, acknowledging, and feeling, processing, re-framing, and understanding of my choices – to cope when I am triggered. This is work – and it is work I recommend to anyone who finds oneself constantly negatively reacting to triggers.

This is why I decided on a ritual…I know I can, if only for a moment, remember the feeling of letting go. Combine that with the physical exercise of seeing that trigger turn from a solid piece of paper to ashes in a matter of seconds, and now I have a powerful visual when I need more help.

The hope is that once one of us is triggered, we will remember the paper turning to ash, that we will remember our intention, and channel the “letting go” feeling.

Burning my “co-dependent” & over-fixing tendencies

We are off to a decent start. I found myself triggered almost immediately after publishing my post a few days ago. It was a great test to see if I meant what I said wrote about in that post. Jerry and I were in the car a few days ago when he caught himself – I was delighted when I heard him say – “wait a second – I burned that!” We high-fived each other and moved on with our day instead of getting bogged down in the muck. It won’t always be that easy – but that is why we need to practice. It’s like exercising muscles you never use.

My wise and wonderful friend Kelly recommended The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz to me back in December.

From the Four Agreements:

“Everything we do is based on agreements we have made – agreements with ourselves, with other people, with God, with life. But the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. In these agreements we tell ourselves who we are, how to behave, what is possible, what is impossible. One single agreement is not such a problem, but we have many agreements that come from fear, deplete our energy, and diminish our self-worth.”

The Four Agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

I already know #2 and #3 are HUGE challenges to me. They appeared on those pieces of paper that were burned into ash a few days ago.

I am about to dig into this book in hopes that it will help me in my efforts to let things go. More to come!



Today is International Women’s Day, and the theme this year is #makeithappen. I haven’t blogged in a long time – and today I felt inspired to put my thoughts on “paper” (aka cyberspace) for the first time in a while.

To celebrate the day, I want to recognize some pretty fabulous women who inspire me with their wisdom and with their actions to help make the world a better place.

1. Maya Angelou

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”  – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s beautiful prose describes the Golden Rule in a new way, making this my favorite quote all of time. It’s such a powerful reminder to not get stuck in the “he said/she said” – and to really focus on the bigger picture. It’s a tool to help me communicate in a healthy way with my friends, family, and coworkers.

2. Eleanor Roosevelt

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I can’t hear this one enough – and I can’t share it enough with others. This quote was above my chalkboard all year when I was a middle school teacher, hoping that all of my students would absorb these words into the fiber of their beings by seeing them every day. This quote reminds me that not only am I in control of how I feel about myself, I am also responsible for how I feel about myself. No one else is. It is entirely up to me. This doesn’t mean it is easy to do – it’s not…but when I fall into self-pity, martyrdom and blaming, I try to remember to be accountable to myself…and to do the work that it takes to feel better.

3. Mother Theresa

“In this life, we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”- Mother Theresa

These words remind me be intentional with my actions…to stop being so “busy” that I forget why I am doing what I am doing. It also reminds me that I can make a difference in someone’s life with one act of kindness, one phone call, one word, one hug…one whatever – no matter how small it is!

4. Brené Brown

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to and embracing who we are.” – Brené Brown

This quote is front and center on my vision board this year (check it out here on Pinterest if you are interested: Authenticity has become so important to me that I now call it one of core values. I went through many years not being true to myself, not taking care of myself, and living with a lot of shame because of it. Brené reminds me that I need to do the work – if I practice, I will improve.

5. Ellen Degeneres:

“I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated, and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values. That’s what I stand for. I also believe in dance.” – Ellen Degeneres

Here’s another authentic rendition of the Golden Rule, along with a reminder to have fun. Earlier this year, I started recording Ellen every day, and I have enjoyed watching immensely! She makes me laugh, cry and think with each episode (shout out to Jimmy V even though it’s International Women’s Day).

6. Oprah Winfrey

Here’s another one from my 2015 Vision Board – because I can’t have a Vision Board or a blog about International Women’s Day without an Oprah mention:

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.”- Oprah Winfrey

Rather than biology – being a mother encompasses all the things I mention already…authenticity, action with intention, making someone else feel loved…these things make me a “Mom” to my significant other’s beautiful children. I don’t need a DNA test, a wedding ring or any other proof for what is in my heart.

And finally I want to mention Patricia Arquette’s speech at the Oscars this year. I know I wasn’t the only one to be completely surprised that her moments on stage were by far the most memorable of the evening. Her shout out for wage equality for women touched a nerve in me. I have heard some pretty frightening stories from my female friends in the workplace lately that have made me burn with rage…usually burning rage is a sign that I care about something deeply and need to do some work to figure out what it is.

In this case, here it is: there are more women than men in the workforce, yet women are paid less than men in all 50 states. I am not suggesting that there should be as many female CEO’s as male (well…maybe as many as male CEO’s named John if you happened to see that crazy story on Facebook that went viral a few weeks ago..If not, check it out here:

I AM suggesting that women should be paid the same as men who do the same work. Is there really anything to be argued here? A woman should not be punished in measuring her quota attainment in a sales job because she was on maternity leave. A woman should not be told she can’t be considered for a certain sales territory that requires travel because she has children at home. It is 2015 people. Let’s demand what we deserve. Let’s be authentic, intentional, loving and accountable. Let’s be examples to the children we are raising or helping raise. Let’s #makeithappen.

Survive and Advance

Remember the 1983 National Champion NCState Wo...
Remember the 1983 National Champion NCState Wolfpack (Photo credit: E. A. Sanabria)

It’s almost the end of April, and March Madness is now well behind us. I was so inspired by watching “Survive and Advance” on ESPN last month that I can’t resist writing about it. I watched it again today, and now I am ready to put my thoughts into words.

“Survive and Advance” is one episode in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, and it is about NC State’s NCAA basketball 1983 championship season led by Jimmy Valvano. While some may say I am not exactly a “true” basketball fan, I AM a fan of a great story, and the 1983 season was exactly that. Some say it is one of the greatest sports stories of all time.

Growing up in Charlotte, NC in the 70’s and 80’s, I couldn’t help but become a fan of ACC basketball. This was the era of Michael Jordan & Dean Smith at UNC, Jimmy Valvano at NC State, Coach K at Duke…a time when players stayed in school until graduation. This was the most amazing era of college basketball in my lifetime, and it was taking place all around me in North Carolina.

Watching “Survive and Advance” was both nostalgic and inspiring for me. When I was in fifth grade in 1983, I had no idea of the significance of what happened…but watching this documentary helped me to realize the impact of that season. Even the title alone, “Survive and Advance,” is inspiring. In those three little words, he summarized everything I was trying to say in my post “Onward,” about forward progress.

Here are some of my musings after watching “Survive and Advance” for the second time.

The power of having a dream:

On Day 1 of Jimmy Valvano’s time at NC State, he told his team “I know I am going to win a national championship.” It took him a few years before he did exactly that. His 1983 team spoke of him as a dreamer, a dreamer with a real vision of what he wanted to achieve, and the ability to paint the picture for the rest them so that they felt it was achievable.

“How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal, and you have to be willing to work for it.” – Jim Valvano

The importance of practice:

Each season, Valvano would have his team practice cutting down the net as if they had won the National Championship. Over and over again. This is not a normal kind of practice. This is beyond practicing the fundamentals. This is practicing being a WINNER, being a CHAMPION…so that when the team ended up on the brink, they could shake off their nerves because they already knew what it felt like to win.

The love of family:

If you have ever seen even a 30 second video of Jimmy Valvano, you know he was a passionate, Italian, family man with a large, passionate, Italian family. He credited his father for his success, saying:

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano

The power of emotion:

I don’t know any man or woman that has watched Jimmy Valvano’s ESPY acceptance speech without shedding a few tears. If you haven’t seen it, please take a few minutes to click this link and watch it start to finish. If you have seen it, watch it again. It is worth it. My favorite Jimmy V quote is from this speech, and since seeing it again recently, I think about this almost every day. While battling terminal cancer with just a very short time to live, Jimmy V expressed himself as passionately and eloquently as ever before. I want to feel things as deeply and passionately about my life that Jimmy V felt about his, and his speech inspires me to this day.

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” – Jim Valvano

So, “survive and advance” everyone.

Keep moving forward.

Laugh, think and cry. Every day.

Dream big.


Love your family, and hold them close to your hearts.


I do my best thinking when I am running or writing. Or maybe I do my best feeling when I am running or writing – I am not quite sure. I think it’s both – it’s all about the mind/body connection, so I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to get off the couch or out of bed and get moving each time.

In any case, I just got back from a 3 mile run, trying to work off my vacation calories, and I found myself thinking about my friends Jane and John, and their 7 year old daughter Sophia who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in April of this year.

This is Sophia!

Jane writes a journal on Caring Bridge that not only keeps her friends and family updated about Sophia’s treatments, but also provides us with inspiration and laughter. Talk about vulnerability (see my last post) – Jane shares her fears, her hopes, and funny stories about their journey, and when Sophia writes, her sassiness shines right through.

I was thinking about them because I recently read Jane’s post that was titled “Unbroken.” Jane is reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, a book that I just happened to finish reading a few weeks ago, and she wrote about the parallels between Sophia and the POWs in the book. I enjoyed the book – and was definitely inspired by Louis Zamperini’s amazing story. It is hard to imagine how a person could overcome what he did – but that is not what this blog post is about.

This post is about my amazing friends, John and Jane, whom I have known for almost 20 years, and their increbile family who inspire me on a daily basis with their strength, their vulnerability, their humor, and their overall outlook on life, sickness, family and spirituality.

When I read Jane’s post about how Sophia is getting through her toughest week of treatment, it cut straight to my heart. In Jane’s words, “This kid has toxic poison flowing through her veins and she is still kicking butt.” Like Louis, Sophia has an incredibly strong will, which Jane says keeps them strong as a family.

This child is only 7 years old, and yet she already seems to know who she is, what she is made of, and consistently musters the strength to battle this serious disease. It is truly inspiring to me, and moves me to tears on a regular basis. Sometimes happy tears, sometimes sad tears. Sometimes both at the same time like what is happening to me now as I write this. Sometimes I am sad that they have to experience the pain of what is happening to them. But then, I think it’s because of this sadness that I am so moved by their strength and vulnerability as I realize how much we can learn from them.

Jane uses the word grace on her Light the Night fundraising page to describe how Sophia is enduring her illness and treatment. It is apparent to me that grace is present in their entire family – and shared with their friends and family. There is a higher power at work here – I know this because I can see it and I can feel it.

Their spirit is truly unbroken…and in fact seems stronger to me than ever before, because whether they realize it of not, I feel strengthened each time I read Jane’s journal, each time I see a photograph of Sophia and her siblings, Jack and Christina, each time I read about something funny Sophia did or said, and each time I hear the latest about the Anonymous Monkey Sender (AMS) and his/her antics.

Christina, Jack, Jane, Sophia & John

Their family and friends are walking in the Annapolis, MD Light the Night Walk to raise money for the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on October 27th Use this hyperlink if you would like to support Team Sophia:

While I can’t be there in person, my heart and spirit will be with them.

Home is Where the Art Is

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
-Thomas Merton

Tonight my new house feels like home. My Dad, an engineer that happens to be very talented at placing art and furniture, came over last night to hang my pictures and rearrange furniture in exchange for Sunday dinner (remember – I love to cook for people who help me. My short to-do list includes minor toilet repair, storm door installation, or digging up/moving a crepe myrtle. If you have any of these skills, contact me! Good wine, good food, and good company in exchange for your labor!).

Tonight as I sit in my sun room, I feel connected to my space in a new, very good way. From my comfy couch, I can see a lot of my art in my purview. Having these pieces in place in my new home grounds me in a way that I didn’t realize until tonight. Just like my taste in music, movies and books – my taste in art is eclectic. I like variety – oil, watercolor, glass, acrylic, mixed media, pottery, photography, jewelry…you name it. The only thing in common in all of my art is that I have emotionally connected with each piece in some way, and that ties them together – and to me of course.

Prior to buying my house last month, I had been in a state of transition – moving three times in three years. Somewhere along that part of my journey, I made a conscious decision to acquire “real” art, and to purge my prints or pictures purchased at places like Home Goods or Bed Bath and Beyond.  Maybe I started in an attempt to connect to the space I was living in – to make that space feel like home, even though it was temporary. Maybe I did so in an attempt to feel grown up and independent. Maybe I did so in an attempt to express myself artistically as I starting living on my own for the first time. Maybe it was retail therapy – just to have a little fun splurging on somethng special. Likely a combination of all of these things were at play!

Here are some of the highlights in my “collection.”

This painting of my dog Derby is in the place of honor over my fireplace.

Derby as painted by Greg Hart

I consider it to be one of my first pieces of “real” art – painted by my friend and artist Greg Hart. Greg is a super talented portrait artist (see his website:, and has been featured in a shows at the City Gallery in downtown Charleston, and online at “Buy Some Damn Art.” Greg found my dog Derby two years ago when Derby was a stray – emaciated, sick, and abandoned on the side of the road. This portrait of Derby is doubly special since it is painted by his rescuer. Very cool.

My next “real” painting is by another friend – Karen Myers ( Karen was a coaching client of mine last year while she was the Executive Director at Redux Contemporary Art Center. Karen is known for her patterns and exact detail in her painting – and while she normally paints women in bedroom scenes, she painted this lovely piece of a penguin for a Antarctica-themed exhibit at her former studio, Scoop.

Penguin painted by Karen Ann Myers

I don’t know why – but penguins are one of my absolute favorite things in the world. I think it’s a combination of how silly they look, how unique they are as birds who can’t fly, how they mate for life, how the dad takes care of the egg while the mom goes for food – clearly there are many things to adore about penguins. My girlfriends who know me well surprised me with this painting as a gift for my 40th birthday last year. I treasure this painting as a reminder of Karen, and of my incredibly fun and crazy birthday celebration with my friends at the Grove Park Inn last year.

These next two pieces I bought together at the foot of the Duomo in Florence, Italy, last fall. Reeling from my claustrophia fit after climbing the bell tower, I tried to relax by walking in the courtyard, browsing through the street artists’ watercolors.

Street Artist in Florence, Italy

These watercolors of the Tuscan landscape will forever remind me of the most beautiful place on Earth that I have ever seen.

These are my poppy paintings. I bought them from a gallery around the corner. I don’t know the artist, and I didn’t buy them on a trip anywhere special. They make me smile. Sometimes it is just that simple.


I like to say that I am a jewerly artist – that is a medium where I may have some talent. That said, I am not an art expert by any means. I never took Art History in college – and I can’t paint, draw, or sculpt. Though I know very little about art, I now know what I like, and I have enjoyed starting my “collection.”

I like collecting…memories, art, people… Each of my pieces are part of who I am, and as I sit and relax in my new space, I feel joy and contentment. I have a lot of walls to fill up – and I can’t wait to find more artists and art to collect – to have more adventures and to make lasting memories along the way.


Help! I can’t seem to get out of my death spiral. If you have been reading a while, you may remember that what I call the death spiral is when I lose it. Like what happened on the 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th phone calls of the day to AT&T yesterday about my cable/internet outage. It was like I was living in the movie Ground Hog Day – caught in an endless cycle of insanity as the same thing kept happening over and over again. My service had been down for days.  It all started during the massive lightning storm last Saturday night.  It was the most wicked lightning storm in my recent memory. Click this hyperlink to see an amazing photo my friends Clay and Susan took of the lightning over Shem Creek.

My sister Jacquie, and my niece and nephew were visiting last weekend. When the storm hit, we quickly moved away from the windows, grabbed the wine, iPads and iPhones and gathered in my bedroom to wait out the storm. You can imagine our alarm when we heard fire trucks arrive, and saw the fireman hooking up their hose to the hydrant in my front yard. Pretty exciting for Day 5 in the new house!

After the storm, we met the firemen (see below), and learned that lightning had struck my neighbor’s house, and they put out a small fire.

Me and the Firemen

Thankfully no one was hurt, and amazingly we still had power, but, alas, no cable or internet.  So we spent the rest of the weekend playing board games and watching movies – no big deal. AT&T restored my service Monday, but everything went out again the next day for some reason. Now things were getting frustrating.

The “inside” technician (Len) who arrived the next day explained that the outage was happening somewhere “outside”, which meant an “outside” technician had to be scheduled.  So the next day, AT&T called to confirm my appointment for an “inside” technician – and had my old address. What?? So after calling several times to be CERTAIN they had the right information…guess what happened. Not only did they still send me an inside tech by mistake – it was Len again! So despite every effort I made to avoid it – the exact same thing happened.

So today, I know I am in the death spiral – at least I can say I am a little self aware. I love my new house, but Week 1 has been full of challenges. The HVAC is only cooling to 79 degrees, and after a battle with my home warranty company – that should be fixed in “3-5 business days”…and a fire across the street…seriously? I know my cable/wireless outage is not the end of the world. Through in a service call on the fridge, and you would start to question your decision too!

I know it could be so much worse. I am TRYING to regain perspective. But I am struggling to stop the spiral. I just COULDN’T resist calling AT&T one more time this morning thinking that I may be able to make a difference – and not surprisingly – I ended up more upset in the process.

Haven’t you been there too? When you think that you can change something – but you can’t, and you just end up banging your head against the wall?

I know I am in a classic example of Stephen Covey’s paradigm of the Circle of Concern/Influence, and I can’t seem to stop the insanity. Also I am forgetting Covey’s 90/10 Principle – and I seem to have completely forgotten that while I can’t control what AT&T is doing (or not doing) – I can control my reaction. With the pressure of so many things (or triggers), I have been blind to the choices in front of me – and I am back to being a pinball in something like the Plinko machine I had as a kid. And it’s not that simple to “chillax” as my nephew would say.

Here is my attempt to re-create the paradigm:

Laurie’s Circle of Concern/Influence

Can’t you feel the negative energy pushing the circle of influence smaller?

What I always loved about Covey was his ability to make his concepts visual. Creating this is a great reminder that I am colossally wasting my energy, and the more I keep at it – the worse it is getting.  

As usual, writing is helping me to clear out the cobwebs in my head. That and Donald, the “outside technician” knocked on my door as I was writing. I almost hugged him upon his arrival. He promised to get things fixed in an hour – and guess what, I am now back online! He was just a little sweaty – so it wasn’t too hard to resist hugging him goodbye.

Tonight I am finally going to chillax and watch the Olympics.