Winter Blues~




After 6 long months of snow, ice, hail, wind, rain, and more snow; the sun has finally shown its face (at least for today). If I were a skier I am sure that I would be mourning the end of a great ski season; so sad to see it go. However, I am rejoicing in the prospect of long warm days ahead!

I hate to admit it but I think I may be one of those people who gets “emotionally blue” the longer winter continues. I get tired of trying to drive on snow, tired of wearing mittens, large jackets, snow boots, short days, and being mindful not to go out at night because of ice on the roads. To be truly dramatic sometimes I feel trapped by the winter season!!

I am a girl who was raised in Santa Cruz, California and only experienced mild temperatures and seasons for most of my young life; but life in the Northwest has been quite different! I am learning, sometimes unwillingly, about the impact of seasons as they change.

Life is a little bit like our seasons, isn’t it?  Sometimes we find ourselves in a season that feels like a bleak, cold winter; a season filled with challenge, uncertainty, and even pain.  In these times we might imagine that seasons will never change, never get brighter, never get warmer. Yet, just as spring follows the winter, our life seasons will change as well.

A few ways I “survive” the winter months are: binging on British shows on Netflix, good coffee, exercise, doing home projects, writing, and reading, and spending time with those that I love.  These are a few tools in my arsenal that get me through until I can bask in  the season of hiking, biking, long walks along the river, camping and basically everything outdoors!

In that same way, perhaps when we are in a “winter” season in our lives we truly need to find ways to navigate it carefully and intentionally; self-care, spending time with “life-giving” friends and family, prayer and meditation, exercise, etc. Then, when you least expect it ~ the sun will come out again. Don’t let the “winter season” of your life destroy your hope for a a brighter day!

“We all know that if the seasons were the same, there would be no growth. We know that without winter there would be no spring. We know that without frosts there would be no bulbs and without the monsoon there would be no rice harvest. In the same way, we also know that without sorrow there would be no joy. Without pain there would be no healing. I think that’s precisely where the beauty comes in. It comes in through the fruit of the seasons. He has indeed made everything beautiful in its time.” Naomi Reed ~ Author

The storms will come, but I presently love this sunny day! 🙂

Thank You~ 200th Blog Post!


A few years ago I decided to risk writing a blog to begin to chronicle the many lessons I gain from everyday living. Challenges, changes, observations, and coaching moments could probably sum up the content of my Blog~

“Seasons and Assignments”

This will be my 200th blog post!! I am now officially convinced that our lives are full of wonderment and celebrations, fresh understanding and opportunities to grow.  As I read through the lessons I’ve been learning and have documented in my blog posts, I can relive my sad experiences, growth points, and fresh revelations about God, life, leadership, and relationships!!

I wanted to take the opportunity in my 200th Blog post to say “thank you” to my faithful readers who have commented and encouraged me every step of the way.  Your feedback has been priceless and inspiring to me!

It is my desire to be a source of fresh ideas, amusing stories, and tools for life. It is my hope that my experiences will help to build hope and direction as you walk out your own life experiences!

I wonder if you might be willing to, once again, give me some feedback.  What blog(s) that I have shared have meant a lot to you over the years? Which topics have spoken the most to your own life experiences? What themes would interest you in the days ahead?  Your feedback will help to keep me on track, inspired, and ready to “share life” with you for another 200 blog posts!  🙂

Again, I thank you for walking through the Season and Assignments of life with me!

Navigating Transitions~


Life transitions have a crazy way of causing some emotional imbalance–for almost all of us! Transitions, even happy ones, can be stressful and bring up some surprising mixed emotions.  These reactions can often time come as a surprise to us, causing us to feel especially sensitive for seemingly “no reason at all.” Moving to a new city, becoming a parent, selling the family home, transitioning from one job to another, marriage, or a personal loss can all create the opportunity for us to feel imbalanced for a while.

I graduated from my University, married, moved away from my family and friends to a new city, and became a mother within a 16 month period of time. Even though there was so much that was good and new –my equilibrium was off and I had to find a way to create a new normal for myself.  It was an emotional time.  My life since that time has had numerous changes and transitions. Each time it gets a little easier to understand how these transitions affects me and I work harder at being proactive during this time.  I am going to pass a few of these tips on to you!

1.  Transitions can shake your sense of IDENTITY.    It’s natural for us to define ourselves by the job we have, church we attend, neighborhood we live in, family we belong to, or financial status we have known.  When these kinds of elements get shaken up we have to find a new normal.  During this particular time, be gracious with yourself and others, remain consistent to keep your spiritual/self-care routines in place, and  surround yourself with life-giving people. These efforts will remind you that you are not defined by external titles or experiences.

2. A transition can be a wonderful opportunity for GROWTH.  Sometimes transitions give us an opportunity to see areas of ourselves that need attention. Fear, lack of faith, uncertainty, even anger have roots in us somewhere. Being keenly aware of ourselves in this season we can take a good look at these responses and begin to take some steps to address and challenge ourselves to grow. Transitions are a great time to begin new habits.

3. Keep reminding yourself WHY you chose this transition.  In my coaching I encourage my clients to assess their current situation and cast a clear vision for where they want to go.  Though this kind of thinking can take take time and consideration; the greater challenge is in the in-between…actually applying the steps that will make the transition complete.  Matthew Kelly in his book “Leading Through Change” says, “It is often said that people hate change, but that is not true.  People love change; they just don’t like the time of transition.”  If, during our transition we keep the end goal in sight, celebrate incremental changes along the way, and remind ourselves of the fruitfulness of our transition, we will navigate this time so much better.  However, I have also walked through seasons where I didn’t choose the transition, wouldn’t have asked for it, and didn’t understand it’s value at the time. Yet, in hindsight I have learned to find the value even in those tough situations. I call those moments “looking for the pony in the poop”.  There is always something to learn, nuggets of growth, even in un-chosen transition.

4.  Remember your past transitions and apply some of the skills you learned during that time.  No matter what our lives look like, we have all walked through transitions since we were children.  There are ways that we have responded, lessons we have learned, and maturity gained that, if we reflect on those times, can even give us keen insight to our present transition.  I love to journal for this reason in that it captures past responses in my life reminding me of tools and understanding gained during a previous transitional time.

5.  Don’t leave God out of the equation.  No one cares or knows us more than our heavenly Father.  Draw close to him in these time.  Sit still with Him; breath and wait.  Trust that He will see you through.

Transitions can be invigorating, uncertain, challenging, even terrifying for some.  Yet, we all face transitions.  May you find great success in the days ahead as you apply some of these small principles for great success.



4 Keys for a Joy-Filled Life~~


Life is unpredictable.  Life has challenges.  Life can sometimes steal our joy; let’s just be honest about that.  We cannot control everything that comes our way, even if we wish we could! This is why we should be compelled to maintain some key elements in our lives that will help us keep our balance and joy even when faced with uncertainties.

Here are 4 keys that I believe to be essential to maintain a joy-filled life:

1.  LAUGHTER:   There’s just nothing like laughter to release the tension that builds up in our daily lives. A good belly laugh can turn our day completely around! Kathryn Hepburn was quoted as saying  “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”  I have to agree! Laughter takes our minds off our “to do” list, our sadness, or our anxieties and allows us to catch our breath!  Ignoring the need for laughter will cause us all to become very serious and introspective.  So plan to lighten up a couple of times a day~~LAUGH!

2.  FORGIVENESS: Martin Luther King said; Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” This means forgiveness is a choice.  I “choose” to be unoffendable yet when I am offended I will seek to walk in forgiveness as a gift to myself! Walking in unforgiveness can change us.  Walking in unforgiveness is draining. Walking in unforgiveness steals our joy.  In an article written by Charles Stanly he said that  “It’s probably not surprising to hear that resentment impacts the mind and spirit, but you may not have realized what a physical toll it can also take on us. An attitude of bitterness ratchets up tension and anxiety, which can affect everything from muscles to chemical balance in the brain. Over time, that kind of mayhem weakens the body.”
Therefore If we seek reconciliation when we can and choose forgiveness always, we will stand a greater chance of experiencing a consistent joy-filled life.

3.  Quality Relationships:  Quality relationships are those that bring energy to you as a person.  I’m talking about the deep, unreserved relationships you have within the circle of family and friends that you have. Who are the people who know you and have weathered storms and joys alongside you?  Who are the people who love you unconditionally and call just to see how you’re doing?  Who are those who would never indict you but would have your back in any situation? Isolation is a joy stealer, we all need a handful of people who will lift our spirits when we are down, laugh with us when we need to unwind, and celebrate with us when we are experiencing even a small victory! These are the relationships that deserve to be placed on your calendar and nurtured!  Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.
George Eliot

4.  Times of Solitude:  Unplug.  Turn of your phone. Back away from the computer. Breathe.   Take some time to be silent.  To read or reflect. Take time to pray or journal.  Don’t see this as a waste of time, but as an integral part of your day. We all need periods of solitude, although temperamentally we probably differ in the amount of solitude we need. However, some solitude is essential; It gives us time to explore who we are and how we feel. Solitude gives us a chance to regain perspective. It renews us for the challenges of life. It allows us to get (back) into the position of driving our own lives, rather than having them run by schedules and demands from without. Times of solitude are also a time to connect with God, giving you time to listen to what He may be saying to you. Making times of solitude a priority in your life will help you to find joy; even in the midst of a busy, or challenging season of life.

Begin to practice these 4 Keys on a regular basis and you will begin to see how valuable they are right away!  I want you to live a life that is Joy-filled. THAT is my hope for you! 🙂

Musings on Marriage~



I am enjoying the privilege of leading a bible study with 6 precious young wives on the subject of marriage.  I am the leader of the study, yet I am a constant learner along with each one of them.  After almost 30 years of marriage I recognize that you never arrive at a PERFECT relationship.  Marriage is a process of growing and stretching through the many different seasons and changes in our lives.  Marriage is a committment to being a good friend~no matter what.

“Happily ever after is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice.”

In discussions about marriage some key issues continually come up:  communication, expectations, and forgiveness.  These areas can be where hurt and disconnect can be found. So, in light of this I wanted to offer a few thoughts that might serve to encourage you as you commit to building a rich, thriving marriage.

*   Active Listening:  taking the time to truly listen to your loved one, repeating back to them to see if you truly understood what they are trying to say, and them expressing how you imagine they might feel can bring clarity and empathy even if you don’t fully agree.  Everyone needs to have the freedom to express themselves; to be heard.  Practicing this kind of intentional listening will help build better communication and cause you to feel a greater connection to one another.

Balancing Expectations:  Have you ever thought through all the elements you may expect in your marriage?

  • To be able to talk everything through & find resolution
  • That we & our partner should never argue, fight or withdraw, always take care of each other & agree on everything
  • A wonderful sexual relationship, full of sexual passion
  • Each other to take their own responsibility for their own feelings, able to share love, rather than expect our partner to fill us up with their love
  • To have a lot of fun & easily laugh together
  • To have similar interests
  • Our partner to financially contribute
  • A certain level of contribution towards the household & childcare
  • Respect, admiration & deep trust
  • A relationship full of affection, holding, cuddling & kissing
  • To find each other infinitely interesting, look forward to being together & sharing ideas
  • Companionship
  • The same religious beliefs
  • Shared, common spiritual values

These elements are all good; however these areas can grow over time as the marriage matures, listening increases, and each individual grows deeper in their relationship with the Lord. Keep them as good goals but don’t expect perfection all the time.

“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”

Forgiveness:   We all need forgiveness.  We all have a bad day, make mistakes, and respond improperly.  In my early years of marriage I would hold onto those things that hurt or frustrated me.  When I would do this I could easily find myself irritated by the smallest things simply because I had a stockpile of things I’d not yet forgiven. The older I get the more I recognize the huge value in keeping a short record of unforgivenes.  Fact is, I need to be forgiven often too.

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”

As you celebrate Valentine’s Day this next week may you embark on the richest year of marriage ever!

New Choices for 2014~


As I arose early this morning on one of the last days of 2013 I began to ponder just how quickly this year had passed!   Seems like I just blinked and another year had gone by. Delving even deeper into my thoughts, I asked myself if I felt I had used this year; the time I was given, to the best of my ability?  Was I a good steward with my time and priorities?

My assessment of myself? Not 100% perfect! However, I felt satisfied with the priority I had chosen as my main focus throughout the year. People! I have tried very hard this year to stay connected with the precious people God has allowed me to know and love.  Family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, and new relationships.

As I perused through my 2013 calendar, looking through the tasks/appointments that I set for myself I am satisfied that I gave ample time to my key priority of valuing people. Certainly I’ve not been perfect, wishing still that I’d have had more time with some that I only connected with occasionally!  Staying and being connected with others in this way is cup-filling for me; I pray it has brought value to those I care for as well.

Now, here’s the balance~ did my focus on my main goal of valuing people impact other priorities in my life? My devotions, exercise, study time, and housekeeping…….well, sometimes it did.  Because of this, I recognize the need to balance my priorities better in 2014!  Just a little tweaking here and there to my calendar and Ideal Week would create time to spend with others while making sure I am still being keenly responsible to the other areas of my life that deserve my attention!

As you look over your past year, are you pleased at how you used your time? chose your priorities? navigated your responsibilities?  Like me, are there some areas you need to shore up to find greater success when you arrive on the doorstep of 2015 (which will come in a blink)?

Now is a great time to think about the year ahead! calendar those priorities, create an Ideal Week to assist you in committing to how you will use your time ( contact me if you’d like an Ideal Week document to use), and give yourself permission to make needed changes for greater satisfaction in 2014! The new year is yet untouched~ make it your best!

Happy New fantastic year! 🙂

Thanksgiving Thoughts~


Thanksgiving is a time to savor and reflect on all that we are thankful for; an opportunity to gather with those we love to share our hearts and a meal too large for us all!!

I thought I would try to list the Top 10 things that I am Thankful for ( knowing that 10 things would never cover all that I cherish in my heart…but I will make a brave attempt!


1.  For God~His grace and mercy, favor and care, comfort and correction. Where would I be without the Lord in my life? Cannot imagine!

2.  For My wonderful Italian husband, Greg, without whom my life would not be nearly as interesting, fun, and love-filled. Together we have weathered many seasons and assignments, all of these experiences have made us a stronger, more loving team.

3.  My amazingly smart, talented, and kind sons.  Their ideas fascinate me, their questions challenge me, and their kindness warms my heart. Nate and Dave are two special men with whom I am incredibly proud.

4. My beautiful daughter in laws.  Oh my, I love them.  These ladies are thoughtful, creative, funny, and smart. When I watch them love on our sons, my heart swells. These girls are also my dear friends and I feel very lucky for their friendship!

5.  My precious parents whose consistent love and generosity continues to amaze me.  Their ability to love deeply, pray regularly, and creatively love on all of their children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren is an example I pray I will follow.  My parents legacy in my life cannot be expressed in words. I am so thankful for them.

6.  My “extended” family~  The word “extended” encompasses so many precious people:  my incredible sisters, creative and caring nieces and nephews, Aunts and Uncles that I adore, Cousins who I care deeply for, my mother and father in law whom I love, so many people who bless my life and heart!

7.  Dear loyal friends. So many amazing people who have walked alongside Greg and I for years and years; cheering us on, giving wise counsel, making memories, and weathering storms….If I named them one by one the list would go on and on……

8.  Our Coachwell Clients (leaders and friends)~I find it simply amazing that I have the incredible privilege to work with, care for, and be a cheerleader alongside so many world-changers!  These leaders bless me more than I could ever express…but I will never stop trying to let them know how much they mean to me!

9.  Our Coachwell team.  We work with a team with such great hearts; loving towards our clients, vendors, us, and one another.  We look forward to continuing the journey with them alongside us!

10. My Church.  Our spiritual family are a gathering of kind people.  We have enjoyed 4 years of growing alongside so many folks working hard to grow in Christ and make a difference in our community and beyond.  Whether it be a teaching, worship, small group, or a women’s events~ all of it has given me opportunity after opportunity to grow! I am thankful for them.

Well, when I started this list I wasn’t sure where it would end up.  However, One thing that I have realized is that PEOPLE are what I am grateful for!  So on this Thanksgiving Day I hope you find yourself somewhere in my LIST and know that I am very thankful for YOU this year!

Have a truly meaningful Thanksgiving this year. 🙂



Being on the Hawaiian Islands in the month of August can only mean one thing! We will be surrounded by honeymooners!  After encountering one or two, I soon realized that, of course, this was wedding month!

29 years ago it was “wedding month” for my husband and I!  In a church with orange pews and brown panel walls, I walked down the aisle in a white dress towards my teary bridesmaids all dressed in Pink ( or Mauve, as it was known in the 80’s)! My tall young husband smiled a crooked smile my way filled with both anticipation and anxiety about the huge step we were making! 29 years later he still has that cute crooked smile! 🙂

After an Anniversary holiday in the Hawaiian Islands, Greg and I climbed onto the plane enjoying the fact that we would be sitting in the Emergency Exit seats that provide lovely leg room! Greg on the aisle, and I took the window seat keenly aware that there would be a “random” individual between us.  When he came, smiling an impish grin, he slid into our row.  Joseph was a newlywed…..his sweet new bride was two rows behind us. He kept looking back at her longing to have her by his side…but the plane was taking off.

Joseph was outgoing, found out he had a rich faith in Christ; he was from a family of 12 children.  Learning we had been married for 29 years, he began asking questions to learn how to find success in marriage; asked good questions.  This young man was eager to live life as a newlywed forever…so cute!

Our advice?  Stay friends, forgive, pick your battlegrounds, pray together, continue to play, get away together, and fight the urge to fall into being partners in life~~stay pals, friends, and lovers!

Well, once I knew he had gleaned all he needed from me I was keenly aware that it was time to switch seats with his precious bride, to let them cuddle the rest of the flight.  Seeing them all snuggled in from my tight seat two rows behind made me so happy.  I turned to the little gal next to me and said “where are you headed?” She smiled and said “I am a newlywed”.  so ….we chatted……. 🙂

Sweet, unexpected moments! Sweet reminders of how precious marriage is!! 🙂

STOP Rushing Me!!!

My mother is a wonderful artist and has painted some amazing pictures for me. Most recently is a fantastic European setting that is so beautiful and inspiring.  Deserving a perfect framing job; I took the large painting to Micheal’s Craft Store to be professionally framed.  They do a good job!!

However, I walked into the building passing all the summer items on sale, 75% off…When in the first week of August is Summer over??  Stunning and sad news to me!!


As I passed a few aisles I encountered pumpkins, goblins, Bats, and Apple Cider Candles…seriously? Why are we setting up shop for next October??  This is August, it’s Summer, C’mon people!!!


And then the biggest stunner of all… aisle full of Christmas Ornaments!!! Are you kidding me??  Why does retail PUSH us so quickly??? Arrgh!


Then I began to often to we live for tomorrow, a better season, a new day?  What would it look like to be fully present and appreciative for this day?  I love Summer and when it IS Fall I will love it. When the Holidays arrive I will enjoy every sweet minute of it!  But Today, just don’t rush me!!

” Choose happiness by taking life day by day, and being thankful for all the little things that mean so much!  Ritu Ghatourey


We need one another, we really do!


  I was reminded again this week, through the sad events in Boston, Massachusetts that we really do need one another.  Out of the rubble of lost lives and limbs arose an army of people connected by sadness and grief going above and beyond to make sure they helped and supported every person they possibly could. Strangers housing disoriented families, men carrying children to safe places, and medical professionals jumping in to help wherever they found a need. In times of crisis we really do need one another.

However, in the regular rhythm of our daily lives we really need others as well. From the website “Live your Life well” I saw that research points to the on-going benefits of good social connection:

1.  Social connection brings increased happiness. When you are offered concrete help, emotional support, fresh perspective, wanted advice, and encouraging validation you will find that your emotions will stay more hope-filled then downcast.

2.  Better health is another benefit from being connected to others.  Loneliness is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and depression.

3.  Connecting regularly with others helps us to remember that life isn’t all about our challenges.  When connected to others we are also able to care for their needs, focus on being supportive, and share in our common challenges.  This can help us to have a balance in our own thinking.


When thinking about friendships, some people think that in order to be less lonely they must be liked by everyone. That’s just not true!  The person who has 4,000 friends on Facebook is not necessarily “connected in relationship”….especially if the bulk of their free time is spent maintaining their Facebook page!  Two or three amazing , trusted friends/family can be all we need to be known, heard, or validated.

Life is busy.  Perhaps this has been an especially crazy season for you and quality connections with others has been tough to find; yet with a time of reflection you would have to honestly say that you have been experiencing some of the symptoms of a disconnect: discouragement, restlessness, isolation, etc.  Perhaps a few of these steps would be helpful in moving you into a place of connectedness:

1.  Make a list of those you would like to connect with, calendar a bi-weekly/monthly  time with them that allows you to spend some quality time.

2.  When spending time with those you value the most: turn off phones and other distracting devices.  Maximize what little time you have!

3.  Listen really well and repeat back what you have heard to be sure you truly understand what is being shared!

4.  Ask for help.  Even great friends will have trouble reading your mind.

5.  Share your appreciation for those you value; you may be thinking it but bridges are built when your actually share it!

6.  Move out of unhealthy relationships to give yourself fresh emotional and time margins to begin to invite quality connections into your life.  Boundaries are a good thing!

We need one another~In our personal lives as well as in a national crisis!  If you have found yourself isolating I beseech you to reach out and invite people IN again. 🙂


“It is impossible for us to be all we can be in isolation.”  Paula P. Brownlee