3 Essential Elements of Healthy Boundaries


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How to Stop Saying and Doing Things You Regret Later


Click on the picture to enjoy this video blog. (Includes the favorite “plug your bathtub” metaphor!)


* NOTE:  “Shared Witnessing” is now called “Compassionate Noticing.”


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Blessings on us all,









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How our “Broken Toes” Sabotage our Relationships

Research now shows that our well-being is mostly determined by the number and quality of our in-person relationships.  In fact, healthy relationships make a bigger difference in our life satisfaction than doubling our income.

And yet, all too often our connections to other people can be heartbreakingly painful and confusing.

What’s behind the upsets and disconnection that sometimes arise between us, that we can’t seem to figure out or fix, no matter how hard we try?

How we understand and negotiate this very tender territory determines the quality of our relationship with others, with ourselves, and with Life Itself.  (For more about this see my blog, “The Landscape of NVC and our Humanity.”)

This “Broken Toe” video will give you some answers that will make a difference right now, and let you “dip your toe in” laughing smiley to the powerful connecting world that opens up through a Thriving Life approach.


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Blessings on us all,

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The Landscape of NVC … and Our Humanity


Our relationship with NVC is a lot like our most exciting, fulfilling relationships.

When we first meet, there is a tremendous sense of discovery and hope for deeply beautiful, fulfilling connection.

Then, as we get to know each other better, the “warts and farts and ugly parts” start coming out: our tangled, heartbroken, beautiful humanity, combined with the endlessly complex landscape of our human experience, emotion, perception, and connection.
two drops radiating_r

We discover it’s not always so easy to connect, no matter how much we long to. It’s not always so easy to make sense of what’s happening; virtually none of us come to NVC already knowing how to make an observation (find the reality behind our perceptions) when we’re upset, or knowing what our feelings or needs are (because we weren’t allowed to have these, as children or adults).

It’s not always so easy to stay present when our entire being is on fire with alarm … because our teenage son didn’t call when he got there, because the toilet paper was hung the “wrong” way (or not replaced at all), or because you turned what I said into something else and then got upset with me for what I didn’t say, that you invented.

There is so much more to what goes on within and between us than observations-feelings-needs-requests.

The landscape of NVC is the landscape of our human experience and our inextricably interwoven lives, because everywhere we turn, we are steeped in relationship with others — remembered or not, past or present or anticipated, they are with us always, woven into the very fiber of our brains and being, awake or sleeping.

NVC provides us with a road map for negotiating the territory of our shared humanity, and each part of NVC …

  • observations/what actually happened vs. evaluations/interpretations/stories/points of view
  • feelings/body sensations vs. thoughts/beliefs/what we tell ourselves
  • needs (what nourishes our thriving) vs. strategies (how we get needs met)
  • requests (respect for our separate beingness and equal right to thrive) vs. demands (the protective use of force, and also dependence or objectification/exploitation)

… provides us with a doorway into this territory, a place to begin our journey of exploration and discovery into the art of connecting in a life-giving way to ourselves, to others, and to Life Itself.

Here at Thriving Life, we understand that an entire world lives behind each doorway of observations/feelings/needs/requests, waiting for us to discover its gifts and guidance:

  • The Only Game in Town is Making Life More Wonderful (Aliveness; Connection to Life):  Life is about thriving, and the only thing anyone is ever doing, is trying to expand their well-being … even when those efforts are absurdly or even tragically ineffective
  • People Aren’t Good or Bad; They Are Thriving or Surviving:  When we’re thriving (connected to Life), we feel happy, and we have access to all that is best in us — our capacity for creativity, acceptance, generosity, patience, etc. all expand, the more we thrive. The more depleted we are — the longer our needs have gone unmet — the more disconnected from life we are and the more “negative” (life-disconnected) our thoughts, words, and actions tend to become
  • The stories we tell ourselves (our points of view, interpretations, assumptions, expectations, evaluations, judgements, etc.) are not the same thing as “what happened” (“reality” or “observations” or, for some of us, “the data”  😀 )couple_talking_2
  • Some of the stories we tell ourselves support our thriving and/or positive connection with Life/ourselves/others, and some of them don’t
  • We often don’t take the time and care to notice what our stories actually are, or what they are actually contributing to our thriving or our connection to Life/ourselves/others
  • Our feelings point to whether what’s happening is nourishing or diminishing our thriving; feelings are universal among all human beings.  Happiness is the feeling we experience when we are thriving
  • Our needs are the pathways we travel to nourish and sustain our thriving; needs are universal among all human beings
  • Strategies are ways to meet a need.  We often confuse strategies (for example, money, property, positional power) with needs (for example, freedom/autonomy, security, authentic power)
  • We tend to forget to identify our needs.  We also tend to forget to notice whether or not our strategies are actually working to meet our needs and increase our thriving
  • The essence of respect for (honoring, valuing) self is twofold:  1) recognizing and honoring our own right to nurture our own authentic thriving using whatever strategies work best for us (while being respectful of others), and 2) recognizing and honoring our right not to participate or remain “in range” of others’ strategies that diminish our own thriving
  • The essence of respect for (honoring, valuing) others is twofold:  1) noticing, caring about, and being accountable for the impact our strategies have on others that is our own creation (not to be confused with what others experience or create inside themselves in reaction or response to our strategies*), and 2) honoring others’ right to nurture their own thriving using whatever strategies work best for them … even when their choices don’t contribute to our own thriving (either in the moment, or in general)
  • The essence of respect for (honoring, valuing) all is adjusting our choice of strategies and/or the degree to which we can impact each other (as a result of how close/involved we are in each other’s lives, geographically, financially, emotionally, and otherwise), so that we can all nourish our own thriving without diminishing each other’s*

* The question of who is responsible for which aspects of our own or others’ experience opens up extremely rich, deep, complex territory. How we understand and negotiate this territory determines the quality of our relationship with others, with ourselves, and with Life Itself.  See my “Broken Toe” video to dip your toe in 😀 and get some initial clarity about this deeply empowering, relationship-transforming territory.

Exploring the territory within and between us can be overwhelming, especially when we’re new to this “inner world” that includes the fabric of everything we are and the mattering, connection, and belonging that is the essence of most of our dreams.

It becomes easier when we realize we are not alone in any of this, and that we were always meant to explore this territory within the embrace of a compassionate, resonant, empathic community.  We’ve created Rose City NVC and the Thriving Life Institute to provide a place were all of us — including us, personally, because we are human too — can experience this kind of transformational belonging and safety.


Welcome, all of us, to this human journey, where no matter how many years we travel, we are always at the beginning;

where we are ALL already Enough, because it is only our inability to Be With whatever’s So — about ourselves, about each other, about Life — that is ever in the way of what we dream of;

and where returning home to our own wholeness is the only place we ever need to “get to.”

I’m deeply grateful to NVC and the guidance it provides all of us on this amazing human journey towards full thriving.

And I’m deeply grateful for the companionship of all our tender, yearning hearts, as we travel together on this path of discovery.

I hope you’ll join us.

Blessings on us all,











Click here to request a downloadable PDF of this blog.





Our “Wise I”

Our “Wise I” and “Inner Orphans”

One of the greatest awakenings I’ve ever had was realizing that there was an “inner child” within me who has never grown up: left behind, stuck in my past, and able to pull me back there with her without warning, not realizing that we don’t live in my mother’s house any more.

It was almost as huge a revelation when I realized that there wasn’t just one inner child in here; I have an entire orphanage. Each one represents an experience that I didn’t have the resources to fully process at the time it happened that never got tended to afterwards, either, quite literally leaving a part of me (the neural network of that experience) still stuck in that old moment, waiting to get the support it needs to return to wholeness and connection with the rest of me.

Some of my inner orphans are very young, some of them are teenagers, and there are even a few young adult women in there.

Some of these parts of me are defended, protective, and angry. Some parts are dependent and grasping. Some are frozen, terrified, helpless. All of them are disconnected from the present moment and from the wholeness of me and my experience in an essential way. And when I’m perceiving, understanding, choosing, speaking, or acting through the eyes of any of these “disconnected parts” I suffer, and I tend to pass my suffering on to others (often stimulating their inner orphans).

But there is also a wholeness in me that is not diminished in any way by any of these “disconnected parts” or the intensity of some of their distress, that is eternally and irrevocably complete, grounded, authentic, integrated, and connected to what is life-giving.  This “Wise I” is both healthily separate from other people and – as a result – that is also available for present, openhearted authentic connection with others.

I have all of these “I’s” inside me, and you do, too.

My “Wise I” is the “real me,” and when I am connected to it I feel peaceful, calm, empowered, and safe — regardless of circumstances.  (For more on this, check out my Healthy Boundaries blog.)

When a part of me that’s not my “Wise I” is in the driver’s seat of my life, I notice it inevitably crashes into something or drives us off a cliff, causing even more suffering for me and for those around me.

Simply noticing which part of me is “driving the bus” of my perceptions, words, and actions is astonishingly empowering.

When I realize that my “Wise I” isn’t what’s driving the bus of my life in a particular moment, the most helpful thing I’ve found to do is to simply stop and pause from whatever I’m thinking, saying, or doing. I don’t want to make any choices from those disconnected places. In that moment, the only thing that matters is holding those disconnected parts with compassion, and compassionately grounding in my “Wise I.”

Until I can find my way back to my own “Wise I,” I also avoid engaging with people I’m having an upset with (unless I can count on them to hang on to their own “Wise I”); one of us needs to be able to hold a compassionate, present space or more suffering inevitably gets created.  I also do my best to let them know in advance that this is my practice, so they understand that my withdrawal is a very Intentional, caring expression of my commitment to the quality of our connection and to how I Am in our relationship, rather than an abandonment of them or a dismissal of our connection.

I have a list of practices and strategies that help me drop back into my “Wise I” when I lose this self-connection, and I keep them written down and close by. I pull them out whenever I need a little help to return to my “Wise I.”  If necessary, sometimes I put them up on my wall or on the edge of my computer screen so they’re there all the time, calling me back to my Self.

Finally I have a set of practices and strategies that I use daily to continually help me strengthen my Wise I so that I can stay connected with and living from this part of me as much of each day as possible, and so my capacity to stay connected to this part of me when things get bumpy continues to strengthen.  For example, throughout my day, I check in with myself:  where am I, right now?  Am I grounded in my Wise I or am I a little “off”?  Each time I feel into “where am I?,”  I’m loving myself, teaching myself what really matters, and reorienting myself towards my Wise I.

Each time I even just turn my attention towards it, I strengthen my capacity to stay connected to my “Wise I.”  And each time I move myself back into that whole, grounded, authentic place, I strengthen my unconscious sense that this is what “home” feels like.

Thrillingly, the integration of NVC with the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience/interpersonal neurobiology and trauma treatment provides a rigorous scientific explanation of what our “Wise I” and our “child parts/inner orphans” are. These parts of us are real neurologically, and science understands now that our “orphaned” parts can actually be restored to wholeness (sometimes in a single “integrated” session, when we can access the felt sense of our unmet needs).

Our own Susan Skye and Sarah Peyton are pioneers in this work, and I can’t say enough about the profound effectiveness this integrated work has for creating transformational healing.  (To learn more, click here and request “New Depths information.”)  After 40 years of dedicated inner work, the relief I personally experienced even after just one “Depth Reintegration” session was been profound, leaving me with a distinctly expanded, effortless, lasting sense of calm, peace, security, and authentic empowerment.

Profound healing is possible, and it is available to us through our “Wise I” and reconnecting with and reintegrating our disconnected parts — our “inner orphans.”

What are your experiences of profound healing through connecting your “Wise I” and your “inner orphans”?  Please share them below if you’d enjoy making a difference for your NVC community.

And, here’s to wrapping our compassionate, “Wise I” arms around all of our inner orphans.

Blessings on us all,



(Click here for a downloadable copy of this blog post.)



Getting Free of Judging


Thriving 101:  Getting Free of Judging

Lately I’ve been asked a lot of anguished questions about judging: “How can I stop judging?” “My therapist says I’ll always judge other people. Is this really true?” “I’m practicing (NVC, Thriving Consciousness, compassion, mindfulness, etc.), but I’m still judging myself and others, what’s wrong (with me)?”

The astonishingly simple, liberating answer I found for myself came several years ago as an unexpected miracle when I was “being a jerk” during a Shared Witnessing1 session.

In Shared WitnessingTM (SW), we practice having and noticing our experience — body sensations, emotions, thoughts — without judgment, and without trying to figure out, fix, change, avoid, or stop having them. From time to time we also report out loud, in a brief sentence, what we’re noticing that we’re experiencing.

In this particular SW session, rather than connecting with himself, someone joining the group for the first time was “reporting” by commenting frequently, conversationally, and at length about what the other participants were reporting. I was still pretty new to SW, but I had been loving the deep sense of  connection with my own and others’ authentic experience that this practice had been providing me.

When I first heard his comments, I noticed the loss of that sense of presence and connection, and I noticed thinking, “Aaah, he didn’t quite ‘get’ the explanation of what we’re doing. I’m sure he’ll figure it out as we go along and he hears what the rest of us are doing.”

But, this didn’t happen; the lengthy, other-focused comments continued. And as I continued to hear them, what I started noticing was how annoyed and irritated I was feeling about it.

Fortunately I managed to keep to my practice: I allowed myself to simply FEEL the annoyance and irritation. I noticed the tension in my shoulders. I noticed the thoughts that were arising in me:  “Can’t he tell what we’re doing?”  “Is he going to stop?”  “This feels awful!”  “Isn’t the facilitator going to say something??”  … and then I noticed the thoughts: “What a jerk I am!”  “I’m supposed to have compassion!”  “What’s wrong with me?”

Sitting with this sea of judgments was very uncomfortable. But as I stayed with my practice, simply letting myself have my experience and noticing what that felt like, I suddenly noticed these thoughts arising: “I don’t like what he’s doing. This doesn’t feel good. I don’t want to experience this.”  And then more thoughts about “what a jerk I am.”

After a lifetime of striving to “be compassionate” towards others without considering or even noticing my own well-being, it was a radical, new act for me to notice my dislike and, even more, to allow myself to REALLY NOT LIKE what someone else was doing.

And it was really hard for me to do; “I’m such a jerk” (for not liking what he’s doing) kept coming up every time I did it.  But, I kept to my practice; I kept bringing myself back to what I was experiencing, noticing the discomfort in my body and noticing the thoughts continuing to arise:  “I don’t like what he’s doing. This doesn’t feel good. I don’t want to experience this.”  I started to notice that it felt good to be able to notice and admit all this to myself, to begin to let it be OK that I didn’t like it.

And then a miracle happened … something so astonishing I could never have anticipated it, that completely changed my life.

I began to feel a profound sense of compassion for myself … and then I began to feel a deep compassion for him, as well. Not the “deliberate” compassion I’d always strived for, before, that I would choose to feel instead of feeling angry or judging.

This was a compassion that I didn’t expect or choose; it arose spontaneously from within me and opened my heart wide. It completely altered my experience of what was happening. I still heard his comments, I still felt the sense of disruption, loss, and frustration that had been there, concealed beneath my more reactive thoughts and feelings. But none of it really bothered me any more; suddenly it wasn’t that big a deal.

Then as I continued with my practice I noticed that the frustration had disappeared, and the disruption and loss wasn’t so uncomfortable. I discovered I could simply, effortlessly Be With it all … without judgment towards either myself or him.

This experience changed my life. I’d been offering that other “chosen, deliberate” compassion to others since I was a child; I’d thought it was the only kind of compassion there was. Suddenly I felt an unspeakably beautiful, transformational compassion … and it had arisen out of my “letting myself be a jerk” — allowing myself to feel, acknowledge, and respect my own dislike for what someone else was doing.

I realized then that, as well-intentioned as my “chosen, deliberate” compassion had been, in a terribly important way it had been incomplete and even destructive … because I had excluded MYSELF from it.

Paradoxically, a great deal of our judgment of others is created from not having compassion for ourselves.

Now when I notice myself judging, I check in with myself: What don’t I like, that I’m not giving myself permission to dislike? Where am I leaving myself out of my compassion and consideration? Is there something I need to do differently in order to respect, honor, and care for my own well-being? What am I afraid I might lose if I speak up, and is that something I need to be willing to risk losing, for the sake of my own well-being?

I notice when I ask myself these questions, I feel empowered to care well for myself. And as I feel this empowerment and make authentic choices that genuinely support my well-being, my judgments fall away, my heart opens, and I become more present and available to myself, to Life, and to others in a way that feels deeply beautiful to me.

Shared WitnessingTM has given me the capacity to simply FEEL and NOTICE my experience without having to figure out, fix, change, avoid, or stop having it. I notice that the more I practice this kind of mindfulness, the more of this “spontaneous compassion” I feel for myself and others, the less I judge and react, and the more I’m able to stay connected to and honor — in the moment — what’s true for me.  Because of all this, I’m more able to Be and create what I value and delight in most, in this world.

And to think the doorway to all this was giving myself permission to “be a jerk” and dislike what someone else was doing.

What an amazing Life this is.

Blessings on us all,

Thriving Life

(Click here for a downloadable PDF copy of this blog post.)


1Shared WitnessingTM (SW) is a type of presence practice or mindfulness meditation that includes elements that have been proven to rewire the brain in positive ways, including helping to heal trauma:  noticing present-moment experience, and processing painful experiences within an empathic, resonant group field. SW has been an absolutely essential healing resource in my life, and is the primary source of my capacity to remain present in the midst of my own reactivity. I’m forever grateful to my dear friend Eric Sucher for creating and sharing the Shared WitnessingTM process with me.

If you’d like to learn more about Shared WitnessingTM, or if you’d like to experience Shared WitnessingTM, click here.



Healthy Boundaries

Living from Our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self
(Maintaining Healthy Boundaries)

When we talk about things like:

  • feeling “whole” “complete” or “enough”
  • having “good boundaries”
  • healthy separateness
  • being “grounded”
  • Sourcing ourselves from within
  • (etc.)

we’re actually describing the experience of living from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self – of being in fundamental, essential connection with ourselves and with Life. Sometimes called our True Self, our Real Self, our Adult Self, our Organic Self, our Whole Self, our Essential Wholeness, — I also like to call this part of us our “Wise I” — etc., we may not always be connected to or even aware of our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self, but it is always present within us, it cannot really be lost. We can only lose our sense of connection to it.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that not only doesn’t support us in staying connected to our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self, it teaches us values and habits that actively disconnect us from it. In addition to being criticized for having or expressing our feelings (being encouraged to numb or suppress our feelings), we’re taught to discount our own felt experience of things (“you can’t be hungry, you just ate!” “you can’t be cold, it’s roasting in here!”), to not have needs (not value and tend to our well-being), to put others’ needs/well-being before our own (“don’t be selfish!” “oh, you are so helpful and generous!”), to look to others for guidance about what’s best for us, and even to think that we can know what’s best for another person (giving unasked-for advice, looking down on others’ choices, being taught to judge rather than respect others’ choices that don’t work well for us) are just a few of the myriad, everyday ways we are taught to disconnect from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self.

It’s important to recognize that every one of these values and habits involves a violation of the healthy, life-honoring separateness that empowers us to experience and sustain our own wholeness. For this reason, I believe that our ability to maintain healthy boundaries and our ability to stay connected to our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self are simply two aspects of the same essential, honoring connection we are meant to sustain with the Life within us.

All of us have experienced the peace, calm, clarity, wisdom, and gracious power that fill us when we’re connected to our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self/maintaining healthy boundaries. We often have this experience in areas of our lives where we’ve developed some mastery, areas of our lives where we feel competent, assured, and at ease no matter what’s happening — even when something new or unexpected or unwanted comes up, and even when influential others disagree with us. When we’re standing in our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self we’re able to discern what to do, we feel at ease trying new things out, we feel comfortable standing for our own lived wisdom (a body-grounded, deeply felt/experienced knowledge, as opposed to mental/theoretical/just-talked-about ideas or concepts) while being willing to consider new perspectives or information (that are compatible with our authentic values). When our efforts don’t go the way we were hoping or expecting, we’re able to stay peaceful and present, to notice what’s happening, and to make effective adjustments without blaming or upset.

It’s when we’re connected to our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self/maintaining healthy boundaries that we know we’re Already Enough and Already OK, just as we are (including all our “warts and farts and ugly parts”). In this place we feel whole and safe, even when we make mistakes or things outside of us aren’t necessarily going the way we’d prefer. In this place we can Experience how everything we need for the foundation of our life is available first of all from within us, and it is in this place that we’re able to discover how to nourish ourselves from that inner wealth. It’s also our connection to our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self that enables us to discern in the moment how to “re-parent” the reactive parts of us that sometimes get stimulated, that weren’t sufficiently supported when we were young.

When we’re grounded in our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self/maintaining healthy boundaries, we’re able to hear someone else’s blame or attack (“deserved” or not) and not be upset by it, because in this place we’re completely clear about who we are and what is ours to be responsible for … or if we’re not clear, that lack of clarity doesn’t disturb us or lead us to take on others’ opinions or perspectives, but instead stimulates peaceful, balanced, responsible curiosity. We know we’re ok, we know we’re enough, even if we’ve made a big mistake.

When we’re maintaining healthy boundaries and are connected to our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self, we’re free from the influence of past overwhelming experiences (traumas) or other kinds of disconnection, denial, or dissociation … even when parts of us are still stuck in those old experiences, beliefs, or defenses. That lovely, expansive experience of being able to hold everything within and around us with presence, awareness, and compassion, is what it feels like to have healthy boundaries and live from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self.

When we’re maintaining healthy boundaries and living from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self, we aren’t moved to try to rescue people or take on responsibility for others’ feelings, well-being, or inner work. From this place we’re also able to discern when others are attempting to cross our boundaries (not maintaining their own healthy boundaries), and we’re able to say “no” to participating in that … even to the point of choosing to interrupt an interaction, have less frequent contact with them, or even change the form of our relationship with them* in light of our own current level of skill at maintaining our own healthy boundaries/connection with our own Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self when we’re around them. (Ironically, blaming others for our inability to maintain our own healthy boundaries/stay connected to our own Authentic Whole, Integrated Self is a sure sign that we’ve lost both of these!)

* (e.g., from “intimate partner” to “friend” or “acquaintance” or even, if necessary, to “someone I no longer associate with”)

When we’re living from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self we’re able to engage with others in a way that works — a way that not only supports us in staying connected to ourselves in this deep way and that is free from reactivity from us, but that also has a great capacity to hold others’ reactivity with compassion, and to make authentic choices that honor and support our well-being, regardless of what’s happening. In this place we recognize that discomfort is a sign that Life is inviting us closer, deeper, and that rather than avoiding pain or believing that something is wrong if things don’t always feel good or comfortable, we know that discomfort and even pain are Life’s way of inviting us into deeper, more nourishing, more authentic connection with ourselves, Life, and/or others.

Just as all of us have felt what it’s like to live from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self, all of us have the opportunity expand our capacity to live from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self in more and more moments of our day-to-day lives.

Cultivating our connection with our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self means familiarizing our thinking mind and our bodies – our mental noticing and our “felt sense” of our present-moment experience – with the signposts and sensations that indicate when we’re either connected or disconnected from it.

To support us in this practice, I’ve developed a list of some of the qualities that we experience when we’re disconnected from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self, and a list of some of the qualities that we experience when we’re connected with it.  To request a copy of the list, click here.

Please share your questions and experiences by leaving your comments below!

Blessings on us all,

Thriving Life


A New View of Valentine’s Day

A New View of Valentine’s Day: The Power of Perspective

When “how things are” isn’t working for us, it can often help to stop, pause, and look at them from another angle.

Valentine’s Day is one of those suspected Hallmark Holidays (holidays invented to encourage us to buy stuff) that can cause us a lot of pain.

If we’re not in an intimate relationship, we can ache from the sense of loneliness and not belonging anywhere. If we’re in an intimate relationship that doesn’t have much openheartedness or authenticity left in it, we can feel even more sadness, loss, confusion, and hurt.

Even if we get lots of “Valentines,”  who truly knows and delights in us?

Where do we belong?  Where can we go where All That We Are (including our “warts and farts and ugly, crazy parts”) is welcomed and tenderly embraced and celebrated?

Living as we do in a mainstream culture that supports isolation and superficial entertainments ans surviving rather than meaningful connection, belonging, and thriving, these are the kinds of anguishing questions that can arise for us on any day.

Valentine’s Day can just be one of the most painful.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s possible to claim a cultural event like Valentine’s Day and decide for ourselves what it means.

We can use it to celebrate the relationships — whether with family, partner, neighbors, coworkers, or friends — that give us the sense of connection, acceptance, belonging, and being known and welcomed, held and celebrated, that we all long for.

We can also turn it into an opportunity to express our caring, gratitude, and appreciation for the people who make life more wonderful for us: those who accept us as we are; those who consider our well-being; those whose companionship keeps us company on the Journey; those whose very being makes our own hearts and souls sing with delight.

We can also do something even more radical, even life-changing: WE can Be The One who loves, accepts, and cares tenderly for us with sensitivity, attention, and devotion. WE can be The One who notices what nourishes our thriving, and who mindfully takes care to see that we receive it each day.

WE can be The One we’ve been waiting for. 

Right now, today, we can be loved the way we’ve always dreamed of … and at the same time create a lovely space of freedom and ease for others to care about and for us without the pressure of our “needing” or “expecting” them to contribute to us.  (And, not coincidentally, when we mindfully love ourselves in this way, it completely transforms what’s possible in our intimate relationships.*)

To explore or take this in further, check out this free video.

What comes up for you, when you hear this? We would so enjoy hearing your feelings, needs, thoughts, perspectives, and comments.

Wishing you the blessings of abundant connection and belonging this Valentine’s Week,

Thriving Life

* Curious to know more? Check out our Thriving Life offerings: the Amazing Relationships Workshop and Thriving LIfe’s *new* Amazing Dating Workshop!

Bottled Sunshine: Vitamin D3

Missing the Sunshine or Feeling Blue?  Don’t Forget Your Vitamin D3!

We’ve been blessed with quite a bit of sunny weather in the past week or so, but here in the Pacific Northwest it’s just plain hard to get all the sunshine that our bodies and spirits need in order to work normally.

For many of us, the “down” moods we experience may come from a surprising, very common, and totally natural source:  Vitamin D3 deficiency.

So, if you’re feeling a little blue, supplementing with Vitamin D3 can be a safe and very fast way to see if that’s the reason.  We tried it ourselves, and have been amazed what 2500 to 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 did for both of us … virtually overnight.  In short … we felt like our normal, glad-to-be-alive, looking-forward-to-our-day, able-to-think-and-create-effectively selves again.

Have Vitamin D3 supplements made a difference for you in the past?  Did you try it after reading this blog and it helped? Please share your experience with our community by leaving a comment below!


Thriving Life

P.S. The information provided on this page is offered as an opinion only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment, and should not be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.  By using this page you agree to the foregoing terms and conditions. If you do not agree to the foregoing terms and conditions, you should not use this page.


Playing in The GAP — Transforming our Experience of FAILURE

I often bless the teacher I never met.  Once upon a time, she had a pottery student who was struggling to make a perfectly round pot.

The pottery student’s name was George.  George and I were both participants in a personal growth group back in the early ’90s.

One evening he shared about how his teacher had seen him struggling in pottery class earlier that day. When she asked him what the trouble was, he explained with exasperation, “I’m trying to make a perfectly round pot!”

What she said to him next changed my life.

“Ah, but George — in perfection, there’s no Life.”

At the time I was a practicing (and suffering) Perfectionist. And in five second-hand words I suddenly found myself freed from that prison.

In a flash, my relationship with what I call The GAP — and with it, my entire life — changed forever.

The GAP is the distance between what we want, dream of, hope for, or value … and the reality of where things are at, right now.

Maybe you’re like me: I was taught to see The GAP as A Problem, as the measure of What’s Wrong — with you, with me, with “them,” with the world.  It was BAD. It was FAILURE. And it desperately needed FIXING.


In the moment I heard “in perfection, there’s no Life” I realized that, whether it’s the distance between a perfect pot and an imperfect one; between our vision for restorative justice and how we currently respond to human errors in our culture*; between who I long to be and who I actually am (what I’m capable of) right now; or between the reverence for all Life that I long to see in The World and the relative disaster of where that’s at on the planet right now ….

THE GAP is the room that makes it possible for us to imagine, discover, play, create, mourn, expand, commune, forgive, transform, transcend … and every other Human thing we do.

If there were no GAP — if everything was already “perfect,” already the way we wish and hope and dream it could be — well then, there would be nothing for us to do here, in this life. And nothing would ever change, and we would probably all want to simply die from boredom.

The great irony of our culture’s view of The GAP as the measure of “What’s Wrong” is that we Human Beings are Creators: as soon as we close one GAP, I hope we take some time to celebrate and luxuriate in our achievement for a while … and then, inevitably, we’re on to the next thing.  On to the next creation.

Because that’s what Creators do. They create.

And the fact of the matter is, there can be nothing new, nothing more, nothing deeper, nothing created, without first a GAP.

This is the respiration of a human life: create a GAP, live into closing it, celebrate; create a GAP, live into closing it, celebrate; create a GAP, live into closing it, celebrate.

And with each cycle of dreaming and Real-izing and celebrating, new possibilities and new dreams and new passions come into view.  New LIFE.  New aliveness.

When we come into a new kind of relationship with failure and begin to embrace it as The GAP …

when we learn how to welcome and celebrate The GAPs that our vision, love, and devotion create in our lives…

we become free again to explore, discover, play, create, and fail with a lighthearted joy, curiosity, and freedom that our old view of failure and The GAP — as the measure of “What’s Wrong” — could never bring us.

And, since we all know there really is no perfection in this human life, it seems sensible (not to mention an enormous relief) to finally acknowledge what that means:

there is always going to be a GAP. 

So, “failure” is more like the air we’re constantly breathing than a problem: it’s essential, constant, and represents something that deeply calls to us and even feeds us.

When we realize this, we can finally let go of torturing ourselves, trying to achieve the “perfection” that we already know is not only impossible, but not really even desirable. (If we ever wonder why we get so exhausted or irritable, there’s one potent place to look.)

Awakening to the gift that The GAP is in my life   allowed me to take my first real step away from the debilitating relentlessness of the perfectionism that I inherited … and then continued to perpetrate on myself and those around me for the first decade of my adulthood.

Changing my relationship with failure and with The GAP was my first step toward returning to a world where I am already enough, where there’s Room for me to be All That I Am, just as I Am — fully human, with all my “warts and farts and ugly parts,”  all my unconscious, automatic self-protections, and all my glorious, wondrous gifts…

fully seen, acknowledged, allowed, welcomed, and embraced.

By me, first and most of all.

With my new relationship with failure and with The GAP, it became possible for me to receive my own imperfections — my own ongoing failures — with warmth and compassion … which, according to the latest findings in brain science (Interpersonal Neurobiology), turns out to be the single most powerful thing we can do, to catalyze our own healing and growth.

So:  I officially notice that you, me, everybody else, and the whole world are all deliciously, welcomingly imperfect and constant failures.  And I claim for us all this GAP, this amazing stage that gives us endless room to play and create, on which Life invites us — longs for us — to declare and enact our most cherished vision, love, and devotion.

What can you relax about, let go of, fall in love with again, become inspired by now, when you look at The GAPs in your life?

What could it mean for you and for your relationship with failure, to let go of dreams of perfection and let yourself express your love and begin to play in the GAP?

I’d love to hear your comments, insights, struggles, and triumphs, on this amazing, annoying, expanding Human journey.  Please share below!

Blessings on us all,



* Click here for a lovely illustration of what’s possible.


For a downloadable copy of this blog, click here.




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