The Life We Create In Telling Our Story

We create and re-create our life in the stories we tell others about ourselves and in the stories we tell ourselves. Several years ago I heard Ben Zander, conductor of The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, speak about the impact of our answer to a simple question most of us are asked many times each day – “How are you?” As we reply to this question from others, we also signal to ourselves how we feel about …

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Choose YOU!

I have had the very good fortune over the past month to meet or to reconnect with several women who inspire me and from whom I have learned (and continue to learn) a great deal. And while I was not searching for a unifying theme for my conversations with these wonderful women, one eventually did emerge. Each of these women is facing the decision to end a relationship – a friendship, a job, a family …

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Quieting Our Inner Critic

I recently met a young woman who is making a significant difference in her community, a woman who is helping people transform their lives. If you had been listening to our conversation, it is unlikely you would have known how amazing Anna is. Hearing her describe herself and her work, you might have been underwhelmed. But I knew something about Anna before meeting her, and in our conversation it was clear that her inner-critic was …

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To Whom Do You Give Your Power?

I love kaleidoscopes because they remind me that in an instant, everything can change. In many of the “kaleidoscope moments” of my life, I have been able to see long-held beliefs or fears in a new and completely different way. So what does this have to do with our personal power, and how we give it away? Two years ago, I wrote a draft post called “Do they hear you?” The point of the post …

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Celebrate YOU this Valentine’s Day!

I absolutely love the idea of a holiday during which we celebrate LOVE with paper hearts, cards, flowers, chocolates and, of course, hugs and kisses. Love is an essential component of our human existence. If I asked you to make a list of all the people you love, it would probably be quite a long list of family and friends (and perhaps a celebrity or two). But who would be at the very top of …

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Feeling Good About "No"

Recent conversations with four friends from different walks of life left me wondering what happened to our collective ability to utter that very simple, two-letter word that could help make life so much less complicated. Anyone who has been around a toddler for even a few moments understands the effectiveness of an emphatic, fully-committed “no.” So how have we lost this reflexive response when faced with a request for which we have little time or …

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The Difficult Decision to End An Unhealthy Friendship

Most of us vividly remember the joys and pains of adolescent friendships, and the dramas inherent in them. Thankfully, as adults our friendships with other women are deeper and richer, influenced and enriched by the shared experiences of navigating life as a woman. The depth of these wonderful friendships is difficult to describe, and it is even more difficult to describe the comfort found within them, within a cocoon of support, understanding, encouragement and love. …

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What color is the elephant in your room?

In recent weeks I have been watching as two very dear friends navigate the emotions that result from deceit, betrayal, and destruction of the deep trust they shared. It is painful to observe their drama play out and, most obviously, extremely painful for them to live it each day. Everyone one of us has experienced betrayal of some kind, and the very word often evokes a physical response in our gut. Memories can flood back …

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Becoming the true you!

The most significant changes in our lives are obvious to those who know and love us (and even to those who do not). A change in careers, a marriage or divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one – these are life events that spark outpourings of congratulations, caring, celebration, or condolences. But there are also important but subtle changes in our lives, those that result from the decisions we make …

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Navigating Others' Expectations

Some of the best advice and insights I have ever received has been offered by children. In some cases, they were words actually intended as advice – ”Don’t get into a car with someone you don’t know, Sharon.” But far more often the insight had an unintended impact, a thought spoken with the clarity and conviction beautifully alive in most children. Several years ago, I was visiting friends who have three children. The oldest, a …

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A Moment Just for You

2015 was not off to the start I had imagined. Illnesses, slips and falls, and other life challenges faced by family and close friends in the first two months of the year had left me feeling a bit frayed at the edges. In the midst of the various “pulls” in my life, I had planned a quick dinner with two wonderful women whom I do not see as often as I would like. The drive …

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2015: Truly Your Best Year Yet

I was very happy to kiss 2014 goodbye. It was a year of many lessons, some that I would have opted to skip had I had the chance. Like all years, it was full of joys and sorrows (including the loss of a much beloved aunt), and many wonderful “new beginnings.” All in all, it was a very good year. There were situations I could have handled better, of course, and 2015 offers another opportunity …

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Our Openness to Receiving

If life were a college curriculum, you would probably earn an A+ in the course called “Giving to Others.” You willingly and generously share your love, time, and energy with family, friends, colleagues, and others. It’s a wonderful thing to do, and surely they are all very grateful. For many, the last six weeks of the year are hectic, a mix of joy, pressure, delights, deadlines and wondering where the year has gone. It is …

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Was that a real conversation?

I love REAL conversations. Over the past few weeks I have been extremely fortunate to experience intensely positive reconnections with five women I know, all a result of having real conversations with them. In each case, we did not talk about the weather or international news headlines or great food, we discussed the experiences, feelings, and decisions that are foundational in our lives. All women inspire me as I navigate the steps (and missteps) of …

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Whose Drama Is This?

I recently made a commitment to notice when I create drama in my life or when I get pulled into other people’s dramas. It happens more often than I care to admit and I ask myself why that is still true. In the most recent example, two friends were disagreeing over something that did not seem very important, and as I observed their anger flare, I could feel tension building in my body. As their …

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Help is Always There When We Need It

I am convinced there should be a mandatory course for totally responsible, self-sufficient women (and men). The course title would be: “How Asking for Help Can Significantly Improve Your Life.” So few of the women I know ask for help and, even worse, many actually refuse help when it is offered — “No, thanks. I can handle it.” (or some variation on that theme). I recognize the condition because I suffered from it for many …

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Nine Words That Are Changing My Life

I often arrive at the end of my day having accomplished a lot, although rarely all that I had hoped. I’ve tried many approaches to setting and resetting priorities, and confess to being a nearly obsessive list-maker. While lists remind me of what I want to do throughout my day (and sometimes my evening), they do not help determine how much time to spend on any one activity or project. By now you may be …

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Will You Be Your Valentine?

The words “I love you” have great significance in our lives and in some cultures Valentine’s Day is a day devoted to this and many other of expressions of love. It is a beautiful tradition with one significant drawback – Valentine’s Day is focused entirely on our love for others. Last year I suggested finding time to write “an old-fashioned, straight-from-the-heart, love-letter to yourself.” The response was fascinating. A number of women posted comments on …

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Honoring Aunt Tucker

The voice I heard when I woke from a dream this morning was my Aunt Tucker’s. Not actually her voice, but definitely her. I could not go back to sleep so instead I begin celebrating Aunt Tucker’s life. On this day when her body will be placed in a grave, her soul is dancing with the moon and her sister stars. She has already sent us small but distinct signs that she is loving us …

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Creating Your Best Year Yet

There is much fanfare over the first day of the New Year and many people make resolutions about things that they will start or stop doing when January 1st rolls around. I do not limit myself to starting over on the first day of January, as sometimes the early days or months of a new year seem more like what I wanted to leave behind than what I planned to carry forward. Letting Go of …

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Love Travels Far and Fast

A few years ago I began ending my letters and e-mails with some variation of the words “sending love” or “sending a hug.” I often receive a reply from someone who confirms that she could feel my hug, and I have come to believe that this is truly possible. We really can send love to someone far away, someone who is often in our thoughts or someone who may need a bit of additional support. …

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When We’re Tired of Running in Place

The title of a long-running, off-Broadway play – “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” – always makes me smile. It pokes fun of the common human pattern of falling in love with someone and then wanting to fine-tune that person and create the ideal partner. Recently, I have been thinking about a different pattern in relationships, one more along the lines of “I love you, don’t change.” Some of the people who love us …

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Forgive Yourself

I listened closely as my friend told me that she was letting her family down. Her eyes filled with tears and then, as her story continued, she began to cry. “Letting them down?” I asked softly and in disbelief. Knowing how much time and energy she devotes to her family, I could not believe what I was hearing. How could she believe there was more she should be doing? We talked for a long time, …

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Not Exactly a Vacation Day!

On a challenging afternoon at the beginning of February, I decided to schedule a vacation day before the end of the month. I clicked through my calendar to find one that did not seem overly booked and Friday, February 22, seemed ideal. There were two blocks of unscheduled time on that day and the meetings already scheduled were ones that could easily be moved to earlier in the week. I blocked off the 22nd and …

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New Valentine’s Day Traditions

We celebrate Valentine’s Day by telling others how much we love them, and it is a wonderful tradition. We want people to know how much they mean to us, how much we love and appreciate them. This year, in the flurry of red hearts, flowers and (for some of us) chocolate, we have the opportunity to rethink this holiday that celebrates love. Here are two suggestions that may make this Valentine’s Day your best in …

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Before You Kiss 2012 Goodbye

During the past few weeks many of us prepared for and happily celebrated holidays, traveled to visit family and friends, closed out work projects, and juggled the other wonderful December activities that sometimes seemed overwhelming. At least they did to me. How, then, dare I suggest one more thing for you to do in the remaining hours of 2012? The answer is simple…I believe this brief exercise will help you let go of this year …

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Giving Thanks

In conversations over the past few weeks, I have heard a number of people comment that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. My Dad said this often when I was growing up but I did not understand. My favorite holiday then was Christmas. I used to think that Dad preferred Thanksgiving because he is shy and does not feel comfortable receiving gifts, or because he does not like the fanfare often associated with celebrating the Christmas …

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A Commitment to Yourself

Most of the women I know pour out their love, their energy and their hearts to help family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and sometimes even strangers, often without being asked. There always seems to be a good reason for them to put others first. Does this sound familiar? If not, you have good advice to share with us. If, however, you struggle with putting your needs ahead of (or at least on par with) the needs …

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Desperation and Hope

I traveled to Malawi with two wonderful colleagues last week and while visiting a small hospital outside Lilongwe, a tiny newborn captivated my heart and mind. She was lying on a warming table, bundled up in two swaths of colorful cotton fabric. We spoke to a nurse who estimated that this baby had entered the world at 28 weeks, much earlier than the full 40-week term. She is the tiniest baby I have ever seen. …

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

The best advice I have received over the course of my life has come from my mom and dad, much of it in my early years – important lessons like listening carefully while others speak, treating everyone the way I wish to be treated, and their precious words “remember that no one is better than you and you are better than no one.” My parents taught my brother and me invaluable lessons about trust, unconditional …

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