I wish I learned this in school

Who’s responsible?

We’ve all likely heard the saying that “You’re responsible for your own happiness.” It likely makes sense on an intellectual level, but how many of us actually embrace this?

If we’re responsible for our own happiness, that means we take responsibility for how we’re feeling–with any emotion. 

We learn the opposite from adults and sometimes even in school. We hear adults say, “You hurt Jimmy’s feelings. Say sorry!” or “Did she hurt your feelings by doing that?” And we’d likely think that “Yes, she hurt my feelings by doing that.”

Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

What’s really going on is that we’re making what someone else says or does mean something about ourselves. We’re basically agreeing with what they said or did, which is the only way something can hurt us–if we let it. If we think it’s somehow true about us or if we somehow deserve it. 

Again, intellectually, this may make some sense. Living it and practicing it can be harder though, because we’ve been conditioned to believe that we cause other people’s feelings and that other people cause ours. 

But we know from the Model that our thoughts create our feelings. Always. It’s not the external circumstance that creates our feelings, even though it’s so easy to think that the circumstance is causing us to feel something. It’s what we’re thinking about the circumstance that creates our feelings. Our thinking creates our feelings. 

So in that sense, we can see how we are responsible for what we feel. Once we really become aware that this is how it works, we can be intentional about how we want to feel. Which means being intentional about how we are thinking.

I think some of us have a misconception that someone else is supposed to help our lives be great. When we abdicate ourselves from taking this responsibility, who do we think it belongs to? 

I used to want someone to come save me from my life when I was feeling dissatisfied, like things were missing from my life. 

You know what was missing from my life? ME. I wanted someone else to take the responsibility that is mine, to help my life become better than it was. To create more income for me, to find opportunities for me, to find a partner for me, to find a place for me to live, to help me eat healthy meals, to take care of me. How could someone else do this if I wasn’t willing to do it for myself? 

No one is going to do it for us. No one is going to live our lives for us. That’s our responsibility. We get to take care of ourselves and our lives. Intentionally. 

We have everything we need within us to take responsibility.

And that is great news. Because then we realize we can have the exact life we want when we take responsibility for creating it and caring for ourselves along the way. Intentionally.  

Your turn: What have you been giving responsibility to someone or something else to fulfill for you? Are you willing to take responsibility for this? How might your life be different if you started taking even more responsibility for what you want? How might your life be different if you practiced intentional self-care?

Dive Deeper: Do you feel any resistance to the idea of taking responsibility in this way? If yes, why? What if those thoughts are just limiting beliefs about what’s possible for you?

Want to learn more about the Model and how your thoughts create your feelings? Sign-up for an exploratory session here.

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

Not having it all together

No need to hide.

In the past, I wanted to portray myself in a way where others would think I had it all together. That I knew what I was doing. That I had everything I wanted. That I was “fine” and living a “fine” life the way I wanted to.

But I was hiding. I wasn’t allowing myself to be open and vulnerable. To be real and tell the truth. Why?

Patriarchal concepts, especially within my private equity job, played into my perception of myself. I used to armor myself, metaphorically, to put forward a competent, self-sufficient, capable version of myself who wasn’t emotional or sensitive. Who was there and could do the job no matter what, pick up the pieces for others–even at the expense of myself sometimes. 

I didn’t give myself space to be authentic, partly because I didn’t know what that even meant for me. Who was I? What did I want? What brought me joy? I didn’t know the answers internally–I based what I wanted on external, societal, patriarchal values of what I “should” want or have for myself as a “successful” person. 

I didn’t allow myself to be known because there were parts of myself that seemed unacceptable to me, because I thought they were weak. And I didn’t want other people to know about those parts. 

It wasn’t until I started therapy after going through emergency open-heart surgery that I had a chance to look more closely at how I was living my life, by questioning beliefs I held that weren’t actually serving me, to redefine what success looked like and meant for me, to understand why I had armored and hid myself. 

Through therapy, coaching, and deep self-care practices, I learned how to accept more parts of me, to start telling myself the truth about what I needed and wanted, about who I am. I learned how I can share myself with others in a more authentic way, to hold space for myself and for them to show up in real ways, not in people-pleasing ways. 

I continue on this journey and I get to learn even more about myself and others along the way. I’m passionate about sharing how self-care can shift us to a place of self-acceptance and eventually to self-love

Self-care is not just about bubble baths and massages–it goes beyond that, if we’re willing to see how powerful it can be. 

Your turn: What parts of yourself have you been hiding and why? How would your life be different if you learned to accept those parts of yourself? How might practicing powerful self-care help you show up differently in the world, for yourself and for others?

Go beyond bubble baths. Find out more here. 

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

What does self-love have to do with it?


I recently made a painful and difficult decision in my life because I chose to love myself enough and to want more for myself. 

It can be easy to think that when we love ourselves, making a decision out of love is also easy. 

I want to offer that making decisions out of love for ourselves can sometimes be extremely difficult and painful. But we’re willing to make the decision because we know the current situation we’re in is not serving us or moving us forward in an aligned way. 

We might be stuck and suffering, and even though we are, it can still feel scary to make a decision to change. But we are not being loving to ourselves by choosing to stay stuck or in suffering.

We have to love ourselves enough to become aware of the cost of the situation we’re in. What is the cost to our well-being? What other options are we not considering? How much time and energy is this situation extracting from us? What else could we be creating in our lives with this time and energy if we redirected it? 

And how do we get to that place of love for ourselves where we feel strong enough to make a difficult decision? 

In small ways each day, we can become familiar with what it feels like to love ourselves even more. 

When we practice in small ways each day to care for ourselves, support ourselves, and be kind to ourselves, our lives can change. 

“When you’re at peace with yourself and love yourself, it is virtually impossible to do things to yourself that are destructive.” ― Wayne Dyer

When we love ourselves more we:

  • Make different and more affirming decisions in our life
  • Take better care of ourselves
  • Set healthy boundaries
  • Believe in what’s possible for us
  • Move from past-based beliefs into future-based beliefs
  • Know that we’re worth it and worthy
  • Commit to ourselves and what we say we’ll do
  • Advocate for ourselves
  • Trust ourselves more
  • Are more patient with ourselves and our results/outcomes/goals
  • Move into alignment with our decisions/choices

“Self-love does not come from writing a book, or from making a million dollars, or from buying a new house. Self-esteem comes from the little loving choices we make every day—the choices we make that tell us, ‘You are important. You are a good person. You deserve to take care of yourself. You matter.’” – Debbie Ford, The Right Questions

Your turn: In what small, daily ways do you want to practice caring for yourself? In what small, daily ways do you want to practice supporting yourself? In what small, daily ways do you want to practice being kind to yourself? What does it feel like to become familiar with loving yourself even more? 

Want help finding small, daily ways to express care, support, and kindness to yourself? Let’s explore.

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

265 W __th St. #3C

There is the fact that I survived. What lies beyond that fact are the many losses this survival incurred. Of these losses, one is easier to talk about because it is tangible, it has a shape, a latitude and longitude, unlike the other losses—some for which I don’t have a name, only a space within me that knows things have disappeared, possibly irrevocably. As I adjust to a new life with parts of myself having been damaged and replaced, I realize that some losses are too full of sorrow, shaped like black mourning crows ascending to faraway treetops, to talk about. I can only ask questions: Will my body get stronger and allow me to create the future I desired for myself before all this? What can I release to feel free again? How can I reconstruct my life? Where do I belong now?

Since my sudden and unexpected departure from New York City, I’ve seen pictures of the apartment I used to inhabit. A friend lives there now with her boyfriend and they’ve made it look fabulous with their modern furniture: the navy blue tufted loveseat, matching reclining chair and ottoman, light wood industrial storage coffee table, whimsical lamp, new artwork, airy light blue curtains, no piles of books. All the things that are not mine. Not my dark wood leaning shelves filled with books, not my storm blue couches that pulled out for visitors, not my yoga ball chair, not my structured lamp, not my dark blue blackout curtains secured for the south-facing windows, not my candles and yoga mat, not my stacks of books on nightstands, on end tables, on the floor. All the things that I had chosen for the first space I’d occupy independently, without roommates or relatives. I imagine myself visiting now, walking across the threshold and breaking down in tears. The space that I chose and filled all on my own but never got to empty.

Instead, a few of my girlfriends emptied my apartment while I was in San Francisco, in the hospital for a month, recovering from the emergency open-heart surgery that replaced two bacteria-eaten heart valves and saved my life.  While I was in the hospital, still bewildered and drugged up post-surgery, it was decided for me that I wouldn’t be going back to NYC any time soon, so why pay the exorbitant rent for being absent? Being former New York inhabitants themselves, two of my girlfriends flew from SF to NYC to generously take on the task–with the help of a few friends who also lived there–of selling and donating all the big items and packing and shipping all the rest back to SF. A month after my surgery, my apartment was empty and a friend took over my lease the next month. I never got to say goodbye. At the time, it didn’t feel like such a loss because I was too busy being grateful to be alive.

* * *

After viewing over twenty apartments all over lower Manhattan—tromping up five floors sometimes, entering other people’s spaces or spaces that had been empty for several days or weeks, imagining myself and my furniture there, making a life—I finally found a space that felt right. This one with its easy rectangular shape, only three floors up, its high ceilings giving the illusion of more space. I remember receiving all my boxes and furniture shipped from San Francisco that first day of March, after all the papers were signed and the space cleaned out, repainted.  The moving men grunted up the three flights of stairs with the heavier furniture and boxes as I stood overwhelmed with nothing to sit on and a forest of boxes surrounding me. I remember the next three exhilarating weekends I spent at Crate & Barrel, Bed Bath & Beyond, and the Container Store deciding what I needed in order to settle into my new life in NYC, making the place mine.

Within the walls of the 400-sq-ft one-bedroom space, I became familiar with the sounds of my apartment. The nightly crash from the tenants above me, a neighbor during his usual 11:00pm departure, pounding down the stairs as if being evacuated, car horns blaring at every hour of the day, the fire trucks screaming down my street at what seemed like once every two hours (could there be such a need for help?), lovers arguing outside at 4:00am sounding like they were in the next room. And above all this, the normal frenetic din of the city that caused my apartment to vibrate on its foundations, buzz…buzz…buzz.  

For a person living in New York City, I spent an inordinate amount of time in my apartment on the days I wasn’t working. My space became a refuge from the long hours at work, from the disappointments of relationships, from the anonymity of NYC that causes loneliness even while being smothered between people on the streets and in subway cars.  I think this happened because of my south-facing windows. A few months after moving in, during one homebound weekend, I experienced the phases of sunlight moving through my apartment over the span of a day. These phases I didn’t get to see while working 10-12 hour days at the job that brought me to NYC—leaving in the morning when the sun’s early rays cast the apartment in drab grays and returning home most nights to dim luminescence from the streetlamps, allowing me enough vision to fumble the switch on the nearest lamp.

But I discovered this: for about four hours during the day, the sun shines hot and bright through the windows and the whole apartment is a sun-drenched happy place where bold colors—blues, yellows, browns, a shock of purple—and warm feelings are all you see and experience. That’s when I felt the freest to do anything. Usually I played my music loud and read, or wrote. Or danced and practiced yoga, or napped. I did whatever I wanted because it was just me in that space, with room enough for my stress to dissolve and my hopes to expand. I reveled in the strength of my body and the whims of my mind, believing life could be nothing other than this. As the sun slowly finished its day’s work, arcing below the tall buildings, I was like a cat, curling myself into the shrinking panels of warmth cast on the hardwood floor, trying to reap the vitamin D benefits of some UV, chasing strips of comforting light before they disappeared. Then, without the sun to placate me, I would get ready to go out for another New York City night.

* * *

On a 70-degree February day in San Francisco, ten months after my surgery, the ocean called to me as it used to when my thoughts became tangled and needed unwinding.  I walked down Balboa Street to the ocean and passed under the wide windows of a second-story apartment, one of many in a tall, light gray block of a building. The windows were thrown open for the occasion of the warmest day in the city so far. The bright notes of recorded acoustic guitar music drifted down to me. It was an older genre, I think. Maybe 1960’s or 70’s. The upbeat tune and melodic notes were the perfect music for a warm, sunny afternoon. The music immediately lifted my mood and filled me with all the hope that a carefree Sunday can bring to someone on her way to see the ocean, wanting to feel the expanse of it ease her loss. I wished I knew the song and I felt like I could be friends with the person playing that music. I even felt attracted to the person without knowing him, just because of that music. I was in love with everything for those few minutes, after the music entered my body, made me groove and snap my fingers to the beat in its wake while I walked along. Toward the ocean in anticipation. So pleased to be there.

On my walk back from the ocean, feeling consoled, I passed by the apartment again. Its windows were still wide open but music no longer drifted out of them. I didn’t realize that I’d been hoping to hear the music again until I felt the disappointment in its absence. I took a good look at the apartment, trying to get a glimpse of the tenant through the open windows, maybe get his attention, yell up to him and ask him what song he’d been playing earlier. That’s when I noted it was a south-facing apartment. When the sun is out and as it arcs from east to west, its rays stream through those and all the other windows facing south the entire day. I remembered an exercise from a writing book that I had just read: “Write ‘Things I didn’t know I loved.’” One response those south-facing windows elicited from me was this:

The freedom of walking around naked in a sun flooded apartment that was all mine.

I wished to live in that apartment building then, in longing for my apartment in NYC.  And I remembered myself in that sun flooded apartment, full of hope and expectancy, ready, and awaiting my next NYC experience. But as the sun begins to arc low, the panels of warmth cast on the hardwood floors shrink and fade away, along with that version of myself. I am here now. But over there, my New York City apartment: the only space that has ever truly been all mine in a time when I was free, whole, strong, and certain of what I could accomplish.

Start with…

Written on July 18, 2016

Even after all this, I still believe–at least, I feel like–I have all the time in the world.

This feeling comes from the freedom of being untethered, floating around like a balloon and going in whatever direction the wind takes me. No ties, no binds, no man, no children, the freedom in that is expansive. Yet feeling lost and lonely within that expanse becomes easy…

Inflates to a sort of nothingness where feeling alone, like being single will never end, no end in sight, reverberates and repeats, creating a hall of mirrors where you’re looking at yourself standing alone, all around you, you’re standing alone to infinity. And beyond.

The silence fills your ears, stuffs them with cotton and you’re under water in your aloneness. Your aloneness echoes all around you, the sound of nothing deafens you and you continue your stance, alone. In solitude, the silence thunders.

The twitters of birds outside your window become snatches of the only conversation you overhear, the gossip between people who have hung out too long or often with each other so that all they can talk about is other people’s lives. The cars passing by, their tires’ friction against the asphalt are whispers to you, muttered under one’s breath, that you just couldn’t catch.

Then suddenly–finally?–you are not alone any longer. You are part of a twosome. Bliss fills every moment for you, for a while, but the bliss eventually recedes and you are left with real life. Mundane, real life as part of a twosome. Problems to solve as part of a twosome, boredom to overcome, fights to resolve, conflicts, compromises, sometimes even sacrifice. And don’t say it: resentment. Deep despair as part of a twosome.

With whom are you willing to struggle? With whom are you willing to fight and make up? With whom are you willing to cry, to be ugly, to be fat, to deteriorate, to be at your worst, to be scared, to fail? To love and support and carry to safety.

To be with someone else means all this and worse–if it is at all worth it.

We have a dream of our soulmate and everything is perfect. But we wake up before real life appears because it’s the easier thing to do. Leave when it is perfect. That’s fear, cowardice. Stay even when it gets hard because you want it to get better. That’s love. Wanting to work through a challenge. That’s love. When you stop wanting to work, that’s no longer love. That’s giving up.

Wanting to stay is the most important thing. Feeling that it’s worth it to stay despite the cruelness of life. But both people must feel this way, not just one. One won’t work.

Sometimes staying isn’t glamorous or perfect, but it has to be right for both people. And love must still be present. Don’t leave because you feel too vulnerable. Leave if it’s not the right fit, though.

But to want to be in a relationship you have to embrace the ugliness of relationships. The mundane aspects along with the beautiful, blissful pieces. You have to be ready to fight and still want to be on the same team with each other.

When we think about love and relationships, we usually don’t think about the mundane aspects of them. We think about the excitement and electricity of those first pulsating feelings throbbing through the heat of our bodies when we are near the object of our desire.

We don’t think about the eventual laundry we’ll do together, the dishes, the cleaning, cooking, changing the sheets every three weeks. And maybe we shouldn’t think about all that right away, and rightfully so. But as mature adults, we must consider all of this, keep it in mind, maybe even imagine ourselves doing those things with the object of our current desire or infatuation.

This is mostly a reminder for myself and for anyone who has been told that maybe they’re “too picky.”

The Path to Healing: A Long Road to Shortcuts

First published on The Green Slate

I’ve realized more and more that when it comes to healing physical and emotional pain, there are no shortcuts…at first.

When you’re right at the beginning and you’ve fallen in pretty deep, into the pain, you’re looking for the shortcut. You want the pain to be gone yesterday. And you do certain things to bandage the pain, to stave it off, and it might be better for a little while. But then the pain is back, and you realize you’ve fallen even further into it.

Now you need even more of a bandage here, but you’re in so much pain that you know the bandage method won’t work anymore. So you allow yourself to stay here feeling stuck in your pain and maybe end up turning to self-pity. “Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?”

“Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?”

You are seeing through eyes veiled by pain. This line of thinking shifts you from the powerful human being you are and the life that you want to live, to a place of suffering, and instead generates anger, frustration, fear, sadness, and more pain. You get to a point where you begin to live in this space, feeling like you will never leave this place of pity, pain, sorrow, and even deep loss.

Sugar (of Dear Sugar) is right when she says, “Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start here.” Because by the time you are in a place to choose to truly heal, you will have been gutted, likely by your own actions.

You’ve asked why? a thousand times, you’ve spent days in bed because you just couldn’t do anything else, you’ve spent time forgetting to eat because the pangs of hunger are easier to deal with than your real pain, you’ve spent too much time crying, you’ve allowed yourself to disconnect from your true self, to get lost, you’ve considered doing things to help yourself heal, but you didn’t have the courage at the time to really go for it. You were allowing yourself to suffer. You weren’t ready yet. No shortcut exists for this part of the process. All your actions–or lack of, all your thoughts, and all your pain up to this point were a necessary part of it. You just go through it and it takes as long as it needs to take.

Then you arrive. You arrive at the minute, hour, day, thought, when you say, “I’m done. I’m f*cking done with this.” And you mean it. Because you will be so tired of everything unhealthy that you’ve been doing, thinking, feeling. Something inside you has chosen to surrender and accept, instead of resist. Maybe before, when you were looking for the shortcuts and you proclaimed halfheartedly that you were done, you resisted truly choosing to be done. So the pain wore on. But not this time. Not when you truly mean it in your soul, your mind, and your body. That’s when you’re ready to heal.

Everything happens as and when it needs to happen.

Everything happens as and when it needs to happen. This is where you can find the shortcuts, at this point. This is where you find the people who have the tools to help you heal and potentially shorten your path. You might finally decide to call that therapist. You might have a serendipitous lead to a different type of healing modality that works 10 times better than the treatment you were using before. You might see a friend who you haven’t seen for years and she will see your physical/emotional pain and suggest that you see her “guy/girl” and that will shift your healing path.

Because you shifted your frequency by really choosing to be done and really being ready to heal, your healers will be revealed to you, and your body and mind will be fully receptive. These are the people who can guide you out of that darkness that you thought you’d never leave.

It does take time, the right help, working with love and gratitude, but you will be healed. You will leave that deep, dark place. And when you do, you’ll look back at yourself in that place and remember that version of you that had been there. You might wonder at the fact that that was you, that you were even there at all. “How did I ever get there? I remember that darkness, that pain that felt like it would never leave… I allowed myself to be led there, to be lost. But I have a knowing now. I know I will never have to go back there and suffer like that.”

And you won’t. Now your body is stronger, your mind and heart calmer and freer. You’ve reconnected with your powerful self and gained back the vision of the life you want to live. Because you took a long road to a shortcut, but it was the right path to true healing.