The Hidden Hearts

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If you look very closely, there’s a cutout in the sky and reflection. Can you find them?

On a wonderful vacation recently I started seeing things. No, really. First, after swimming with the turtles, I was resting and taking photos when I felt one in particular might be special. Get it this direction, a little voice whispered. After I peeked at the frame, I saw why. As you gaze into the pool of water as it reflects the sky, you’ll see a shape. A heart. And its twin smiled at me through the windswept clouds as a slight drizzle began.

Two hearts.

The next day, on a boat tour around the island, a lush landscape came into view set off by high mountains and sheer cliffs carved by volcanoes and weathered over the centuries. The orange-brown hues offset the seemingly endless shades of greens. I know some cultures have thirty words for green. This must be a place touched by each one, held in a historic time-delay for us to see. As we pulled into full view, the waves kept leaping higher. I held tight to the railing and, voila, another large heart in a grove of treetops in a contrasting shade of green appeared. Then, as the boat drifted further in, another valley appeared with still another heart grove of trees.

Two hearts.

Then I was playing mini-golf with our family, my son scored his first hole in one. It grew hot and we moved slowly as the palm fronds and bucolic greens swayed in a refreshing breeze. I managed to keep, ahem, most of my balls on target and out of the water features. The urge for perfectionism and mild sibling rivalry slipped away as one carefully plotted his swing. Then, the other just hit for the fun of it all. Like the character Tigger would play golf. I smiled at my husband and I swept dampness from my forehead. I removed my hat, looking at the skyline. I gasped slightly. My husband asked why. A large, white heart-shaped cloud was nestled, and interlocked, with a light gray one.

Two hearts.

I was seeing hearts in various forms all over the island. What was going on? Was there a hidden message within, like a secret code I needed to uncover? Was there some elusive blessing, just awaiting the right moment?

Even the plants I saw held heart like features.

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Then I started thinking in twos. I’ve been blogging here for two years. We have two wonderful boys and, of course, there’s the natural thoughts of love and fidelity with my wonderful husband. All many blessings, indeed.

But I want to stay attuned for the other hearts knocking. The little nuances that dance in front of me like the ocean swells or light tropical breezes. Just waiting for me to enjoy them and notice their importance.

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How is your Valentine’s Day Grace?

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I have this wise, old character in my story I can’t wait for you to meet. He knows just what to say and do in sticky circumstances, and always has wisdom when I need it.

I find myself wishing he was here in our world this week. The big “love” holiday is upon us, yet I’m a bit shattered. Not because of unkindness of others or some life event, but I’m walking through the death of a dear friend who faced her cancer battle like a strong warrior-princess. And a friend’s home burned down. And more deaths or lives are threatened by illness and accidents.

What’s going on? I don’t quite know. But I keep being drawn to this simple heart with beach glass and cement that my kids and I made a few years ago. It’s a word picture for how I feel. I’ve been shattered, like the glass, but am also held together by the best things in life. The love of family and friends.

I long to walk with my character and ask, “How can I be wise when facing this terrible loss, and teach my children how to mend their broken hearts, too?” If he were here he’d listen and hold my hand, and help me.

Suddenly I’m in a powerful season of sadness and it seems unrealistic not to admit it to you, who’ve been so very supportive on my journey to publication. I’ll dwell on the simple things this weekend. A kiss from my boys, the sun dappling on the ocean swells, my husband’s many gestures of kindness and love.

In case your life isn’t quite perfect this week, you’re in good company. There’s resources for lots of those broken moments here and more to come on the new website soon. I just wanted to thank you for walking with me while I’m trying to grow and grieve and be renewed, too.

Let’s determine to be more resilient together this holiday, in faith, hope, and joy. Wishing you the grace of all three right now.

Next week we’ll continue with the 10 Stress Knock-Out Strategies.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas

This time of year is filled with highs and lows, isn’t it? One moment it’s a play with little ones singing their hearts out on stage. The next, there’s something broken in the house that needs fixing urgently. That sound of water running, and no one’s in the shower. Not good! Then my heart is with sick friends in hospital and ones far away. There’s missing loved ones you’re apart from. And sometimes difficult moments with others whose words jar and barb rather than heal. Sickness seems inevitable, and a rush of memories from wonderful times and rough ones all meld together. There’s new friends to be grateful for and ones who’ve moved far away but you want them to remain close in heart. It’s all mixed up in a whirlwind of trying to make sure the emphasis isn’t on stuff but on sending a moment of heartfelt love in every circumstance.

I wanted to stop for a brief time here and just thank you for your support and encouragement as the year draws to a close. It’s been such a blessing to hear from people who’ve needed a boost in a difficult season of life and found a nugget of hope to carry on and thrive. And I loved sharing exciting times on the road to publication with finding my wonderful agent with Waterside Literary and developing ideas for future projects like the new website and media work to come.

I am reminded over and again how special each individual simple moment is when I’m making cookies with my boys (and their lips are suspiciously red or blue in hue), when we visit with a sick friend and bring a smile, when we meet a new neighbor and share some joy, when I count all the blessings in my path. You are very high among them. Thank you!

My boys have become very fond of making slow-motion short movies of a water fountain dripping, or something flying in mid-air. (You can see some of their videos at and bloopers at MakeUsSmile.com). Somehow I want to choose that setting for this holiday. The slow-it-down and cherish-the-little-things button is close by. I hope you find creative ways to be captivated with cooking, take a walk and really listen to your loved one’s dreams, and count blessings more than negative things as you look at this past year.

Here’s wishing you wonderful, warm moments, times that recharge and rebuild, and a touch of God’s whispers of love in Christ this Christmas. Bless you all!

 

San Francisco Christmas Gem Tour

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As a little holiday gift, I’m taking you gem shopping in San Francisco. In addition to being a resilience expert, I also am a graduate gemologist and write gem-filled mysteries for teens and tweens.

It’s been a good year, and together we’ve tackled tough topics in life, bringing new insights together for more resilience in the everyday challenges we all face. Especially those of us who’ve walked with loved ones through difficult moments or met a certain hurdle face-on with renewed strength.

While visiting some relatives in the Bay Area, I couldn’t resist taking a peek at what’s new from some of my favorites. Let’s take a break from the mayhem and enjoy some sparkle together.

Bulgari had it’s classic necklace on display. Lots of glitter. Like a starburst flower of gold and diamond fans.

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Cartier’s panthers were on alert outside the store, wrapped like a present.

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Graff cast it’s magic spell right over me, as always. I was able to see the beautiful butterfly watches in person. One that even had large dancing butterflies in motion with a cascade of white diamonds in movement across the front. I felt like a princess getting a tour throughout the large store in San Francisco. Years ago, my husband and I were able to visit Graff in London. Also very wonderful. So amazing! I’ve got a video treat at the end of the blog if you want to see inside their exclusive salon for high-spending clients.

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Another wonder were the delicate gems at Gumps, a San Francisco favorite of mine. Simplicity that reminds me of roman gems was on display, as well as ornately contrived or carved gems, like those of Russell Trusso.

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I also loved Buccellati’s more romantic feel, like delicate lace with cascading diamonds. I’ve got a great article by another gemologist at Gemologue below if you want to see more of these spectacular gems.

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I loved their gorgeous window displays, with subtle dazzle abounds.

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And I definitely did not feel blue at all visiting Gucci.

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The view of Union Square reminded me of sparkling gems, too.

Hope you enjoyed this bit of window shopping, to add a quiet moment and a bit of sparkle to your holiday fun!

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For more about the wonder of Graff’s private meeting rooms, check out this YouTube video here: Graff Jewelers Tour

For more dazzling gems and in-depth style featuring Bucalletti, see this great video interview from Gemologue here: Gemologue interviews Bucalletti family

 

Don’t miss the Christmas whimsy

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A chandelier atop a Christmas tree? Huge gingerbread ornaments? A moment of whimsy restores weary hearts and brings joy.

The holidays are here and elves have appeared, ballerinas dance with nutcrackers that come alive, and all kinds of stories and historical tales find renewal underneath Christmas trees and other scenes. It seems like the child’s eye of life takes over once a year, briefly, and allows us all to relax into the memories of our youth along with them.

How can we capture more of those moments this Christmas season? And what is the special magic of whimsy?

Whimsy gives us an opportunity to recharge our batteries.

During a very challenging day, with hours at the car dealer, more hours driving kids to activities, handling house needs, and squeezing in work, I had twenty minutes to stop in a favorite holiday store. It immediately took me from bedraggled, to amused, to joyful. What happened?

Like many other moms, I’m busy trying to make my children’s dreams come true while ensuring they are safe and growing into their potential. What looks like a normal minivan is actually the family’s magic carpet for adventure. But if the driver is exhausted, it’s not fun for anyone. Even if it’s just ten minutes, a little touch of Christmas whimsy — seeing a little gnome or Santa Claus or twirling fairy on a tree — helps me recover the ability to smile and not forget a world of sweetness. A moment of reflection helps me be fluid, like swimming laps in the water.

Whimsy brings a gust of fresh spring air to tired winter hearts.

Sometimes you have to wear so much armor, like an ancient warrior of old, just to fend off the enemies of the day. To stay employed, to put food on the table, to advocate for someone weaker in your life who needs strength, to give wisdom and remember the bigger picture during a challenge. To remember to love, sometimes from a place of will, when exhaustion’s knocking at the door. The ability to have a little moment with a sprite, or magical creature, or fanciful story acts like a cup of coffee. It makes me remember to smile and slow down to enjoy the moment and preciousness of every day.

Whimsy can help you find the front-door to faith so don’t miss it this season.

There’s an innate ability in all of us to want to dream, to succeed, and to learn from mistakes so they don’t get repeated. When you momentarily consider a beautiful memory dotted with great food, laughter, or a fun setting, it lifts your mood. It gives you room to forgive others, to accept their shortcomings if they’ve changed. And to remember others are more important than our own agendas.

How are you going to keep giving without hitting that breaking point this season? Taking a moment with laughter, or a good movie, or a fun book to separate yourself can help remind you that you aren’t defined by the challenges in life. Instead, you have the same magic inside to refocus, give love from a place of hope, and bring smiles to the loved ones in your life.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

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Just a simple wish sent your way for family delights and a spark of new hope in your celebration for Thanksgiving. I’m so thankful for your support and interest as I press on with getting published and helping others find a path to resilience, whatever they face. Sometimes life calls for more simplicity and lovingkindness, so I’m sending those wishes your way, too.

I have a new author friend who is always saying, “Great job. Now go write!” She loathes self-criticism and the wasteful moments of guilt. I’ve decided to embrace this attitude as we ease into the holiday season. So I’m encouraging you to “Go rest and embrace the moment!” Be well. Enjoy. Wipe the tears, comfort one another, and spot a special corner of beauty to delight in together. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Beautiful Moments

Wishing you beautiful moments with loved ones.

Wishing you beautiful moments with loved ones.

Valentine’s Day brings out mixed emotions for most people. At best, it’s a way to remind those you care about how special they are to you. But sometimes it can place unwanted pressure to be perfect or stir up difficult memories. If you are caught in the latter, I encourage you to seek out a beautiful moment either alone or with loved ones this weekend.

Whether it’s trying a tempting new type of tea, going on an outing with loved ones, or doing something creative that reawakens old dreams, bringing beauty in can be so refreshing and peaceful. It dusts off neglected corners of delight. Pursue this moment and savor it when it comes.

I am in the final stretch for preparing to send out my novel to agents and publishers and my husband’s life has been pretty busy. Yet we try to just take a walk or have a nice breakfast alone to savor the moment together. We’re hoping to share a fun activity with our family that we all enjoy that will touch beauty and reshape our focus from practical to loving.

What do you do when you need a beautiful moment? Call it up, like in the picture of the window at Tiffany’s I saw recently (above). Pursue it! I’m wishing you many hugs and much joy this week.