What is true now
...is that 2017 was a year of huge transition, whereby my husband and I packed up all of our belongings and moved from Santa Barbara, California to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. With that change, I left the place I'd lived for twenty-two years, where I started my career and built a business focused on inspiring others to create a meaningful life. While I have the freedom to do this work from pretty much anywhere, embarking upon the new adventure of living in the midwest inspired me to close the doors on everything I'd done up to that point, focus on the move, and then begin anew, whatever that might look like.
When I started my business in 1995, I had grand dreams that were fueled by the belief that I would do the best job inspiring others by thinking big and pursuing large-scale endeavors. Over the past twenty-three years, for reasons both personal and professional, my philosophy about being a positive force in the world has found a different kind of home, one that rests on the foundation of the words of Mother Teresa: "Do small things with great love."
My life's work, which is about creating beauty, offering encouragement, and trying to be a positive force in the world, has looked like many different things throughout my career—commercial artwork, books, retreats, and courses. Alongside this, I have also come to appreciate all the ways I am able to express and embody this work no matter what I'm doing, whether working on a new book, setting my table for dinner guests, or mailing a package. In other words, it all flows from the same source.
These days, I’m working on the recent release of The Meandering River of Unfathomable Joy, and a Rules for a Mindful Life essay series.
A few experiences that have inspired, encouraged, and influenced my creative and spiritual path:
I am a wife, daughter, stepdaughter, sister, stepmother, and grandma who, between my parent’s divorces and my own, has been part of four different families. I’ve spent most of my life learning how to maneuver my way through all of these roles and responsibilities gracefully and with gratitude.
I have been a creative entrepreneur for more than two decades, creating a line of stationery and gift items that generated seven figures in retail sales, teaching workshops at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA, and publishing five books.
I am an avid traveler and explorer, having been to Cuba, Jordan, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, India, Mexico, Canada, Bora Bora, Tahiti, Bermuda, Argentina, all over Europe, and almost all fifty states. One of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done is taken a three-hour bicycle ride through Delhi, India.
I received a B.A in Studio Art at Virginia Tech and an M.Ed. in Adult Education with a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Georgia. My graduate thesis proposed the application of the educational theories of Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire to the eradication of female genital mutilation.
I have moved thirty-five times throughout my life in six different states. I’ve lived in a college dorm, a townhouse, a turquoise trailer, and an apartment just a few blocks from the Pacific ocean. I once rented a bedroom with an air mattress for three months, and after that lived on a twenty-acre estate in Montecito, CA, subletting a friend’s apartment while she traveled. The only home I knew my whole life belonged to my grandparents in Bartlesville, OK.
I have studied, embodied, taught, and researched different aspects of creating a meaningful life over the course of my entire career. Inspirations and thought-provokers include Alice Walker, John O’Donohue, Karen Maezen Miller, Anne Lamott, Maya Angelou, Natalie Goldberg, Carl Jung, Marianne Williamson, Hafiz, Richard Rohr, Mary Oliver, Don Miguel Ruiz, Terry Tempest Williams, Rebecca Solnit, C.S. Lewis, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ayn Rand, Ursula K. Le Guin, Gwendolyn Brooks, David Whyte, Pema Chödrön, and the Bible.
During the most difficult episode of my life, these words from Pema Chödrön carried me through: “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.” I pinned it to my front door, and I read it every single day.
I am a fairly new Christian, having made the leap into my faith on February 10, 2017 in the presence of my husband, at our dining room table after a decade of committed spiritual soul searching. I am still getting used to what it means to walk with God in this new way, and I am still learning how to pray. But I have received countless affirmations that I am on the right path, and that I have, in fact, been on it all along. This revelation has been one of the most profound joys of my life.
I am not on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or LinkedIn. I was once, and then, one by one, I deleted my accounts. These are among the best decisions I’ve ever made.