Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff


It’s been a full time lately, with big challenges, and neat opportunities, too. But it’s very tiring. And we’ve been battling the spring colds. Now, I’m finding such refreshment in the simple things. Walks in the park, blossoms on trees, cool breezes with bike rides. Flying a kite. Sometimes during a hectic season, it’s nice to slow down and enjoy the moment. It takes a settled soul to look for that pause, and leave room for reflection.

Some of my favorite moments lately:

  • Smelling the flowers at gorgeous gardens


  • Sipping wine with my favorite guy


  • Silly moments with games


  • Stepping into history
  • Smiling with my son on stage


  • Sharing my writing with kids

Here’s wishing you moments to cast off the cares, if only for a short while, and pick up laughter, love, encouragement, and fun.

And maybe a breeze to go fly a kite! We did!

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Seven Ways To Put More Magic In Your Life


Are mundane tasks dominating your life and stressing your outlook? Here’s seven ways to add more magic into the everyday mixture for you and your family.


  1. Light a fire – Whether it’s a candle or a fire in the fireplace, the flickering light seems to signal something special is coming. Usually it leads to more laughter at our dinner table and loosening up for the parents, too.


  1. Turn on magical music – We often listen to a station from London broadcasting amazing classical music. Not the kind that makes you snore, but the elegant, heart-lift, gaze sparkling kind. And it’s fun to hear what’s happening so far away on the newsbreaks, too!


  1. Read a great book – Check out my Goodreads here for some great suggestions for books that encourage and enhance your view of life, in our world or another one too. When I connect with another sense of beauty it expands my capacity to handle the everyday here.


  1. Connect with silly – Put on those Mickey ears or get messy in the kitchen baking. Do something a little youthful and let go for a while. Smiles will expand and hearts will warm.


  1. Try some pins – Not the sharp kind, but on Pinterest, there’s a whole world of amazing images to snack on. I’ve selected some here on my Pinterest. Follow your favorite authors there too!


  1. Take a walk – With Spring here, I love taking a short walk in the evening. My son sometimes comes on his scooter and suddenly starts telling me everything about his day. Sunset seems more magical with little moments of connection, too.


  1. Hang around authors – connect with great authors on line. You can connect with their author sites, follow their blogs, and see everyday life on Facebook and Twitter. It’s so encouraging to watch their posts and feel a little sparkle enter your day with beautiful pictures or words. Some of my favorites (and others recommended by my friends) are listed on my author’s Facebook.


How do you keep the sparkle in everyday life? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Here’s one of my latest YouTube videos, that includes a little behind the scenes of who I am, and some other fun things bubbling up as we get closer to launching the new website. Lots of good things in the works. Can’t wait to tell you!! Subscribe to the YouTube channel too!


Image courtesy of Ambro at


Let the waters recede, the gratitude grow, and the worthwhile rule


Fifth post of 10 Stress Knock-Outs

For this final post in the series, I arranged to discuss perspective, and how growing more gratitude and having less guilt in your life can help to greatly reduce stress.

I grew up living on a lagoon near the San Francisco Bay that would flood easily in years when El Nino really gave a fantastic show, or the pump attached to the bay went out. Instead of letting the tears flow, I’d watch as my mom would study the muddy colored waters and say, “It’s time.” Time to roll up carpets, evacuate furniture to higher ground, and to call the piano player, if he was in town. You see, she’d call neighbors to help and in their kindness, they’d show up with food and drinks, and sometimes a relative with great skill on the piano. Only she could turn a terrifying jaunt with 100 mile per hour winds and rising waters licking the edge of the deck into a party!

It’s funny how when you write about something, it often is the thing you need the most or cherish the most in that specific time. This week, I’ve sat with a new friend who’s just lost everything physical in a fire. In reaching out to help her, I find myself greeted with smiles and wisdom anew. Unexpected grace. In the press of multiple commitments for the kids, it reminds me too of how to breathe and take a walk and taste beauty to be sustained.

Landing somewhere between these moments, I’ve got two nuggets with tangible results in the stress-reduction department to share with you.

The wall of gratitude – or some other tribute

Whether it’s a series of frames around photos of key moments, or a wall full of notes with specific instances in mind, having a tribute to the biggiest things in life is a great legacy to leave your children, and doesn’t hurt to remind us about our own thoughts to ensure we’re on track.

I’ve posted many great ideas on my Pintrest HERE, from tree branches with notes pinned to them, to whole walls painted in blackboard paint so you and the littles in your life can write up daily praises. It’s a visual bookmark in the fabric of life that gives more stretch and texture to the most challenging moments, too. And last summer, we made a gratitude website so our kids would know of kindness to us during our rebuilding after the fires, called MAKEUSSMILE.COM.

Guilt-free passes

Become more attune to your physical and other limits, and allow yourself permission to pass on things that don’t bring great value to your life right now. Maybe your kids need a break, too, and could use some grace bombs, as we call them HERE. I find we have seasons of intense involvement, and these need to be followed by a pattern of less, like the space between squares on an intricate quilt.

That room to breathe. To regroup. To forgive. To relive. To revive. To let the sauce thicken so the dishes we cook are celebratory rather than merely scarfed down.

While we’re not quite there yet, it helps to identify these goals and discuss them together. Somehow, my kids are always ready to play or celebrate the moment, much like their Grandmother. No floods are rising here, but whether dusting off ashes or reaching for new milestones, the legacy from those waters receding is real.

More great reading about making room for gratitude in your life:

Camp Gratitude

And a wonderful post by Jeanne Takenaka about building grace into the fabric of your family in everyday habits Gratitude.

Please share your ideas here! I hope these 10 strategies have made a difference for you and your families!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Turning Up The Fun Meter In Your Life


Part three of the Stress Knock-Out Series

You’re still juggling a lot and need another route to de-stress rather than watching the television or eating something you shouldn’t. To find that smile again, try turning up the fun-meter in your life.

Sometimes it’s okay to completely alter your personality for a day and push pause on the responsibilities, even if only for a short while. You can totally reset the gauges that measure stress and healthfulness in your life with setting out a path to have more fun.

Kids don’t mind asking for it, so why, when we grow up, do we suddenly forget to include fun in our daily agenda?

Here’s some great ideas to amp up the fun in your life:

  1. Get out of your comfort zone. I mean, it’s time to dial in some ridiculous. I have writing friends that dye the end of their hair different colors to feel like their main characters. I know others that visit different doughnut shops and rate the products. Another friend hosts American Girl parties for her daughters. Press the edge a bit and find a new avenue of joy.
  2. Get ridiculous. To venture into the ridiculous, you’ll need to pull the ripcord on being completely safe. You may need to don a tiara or let your kitchen get covered in ingredients that will bring a smile to a weary neighbor or friends. In our family, we try to plan quarterly outings to museums to learn some thing new about art or culture. Whether it’s riding a roller coaster or something else that tickles your inner child, get it out and wear that crazy hat or play a childish tune on the piano.
  3. Get messy. Yep, it’s time to pull out the paints or whatever you enjoyed as a child. I’ve recently started painting again and really, whether or not anyone ever sees my work, just mixing the colors is a lot of fun for me. My kids notice the change in me, too, and want to paint together. I also recently got some bubbles on sale at the store. I’m waiting for that dull afternoon to pull them out and get everyone laughing. Whether it’s at the gardening store, or taking a class, invest in creativity to help amp up the sanity in your life.
  4. Get down low. Like the song, “Say, Geronimo!” you may need to jump into something new. If you have little ones get down on the floor and play games with them. Pull out old board games or cards and revive the fun of the past. Invite some friends over for appetizers and pull out the games. I love seeing different aspects of personalities come alive in this context. It uses a different part of the brain and helps me loosen up a bit, too.
  5. Get musical. Whether it’s putting on music in your home or ordering a soundtrack to a fun movie you’ve enjoyed, music can lift your spirits right away. Recently we took our boys to the symphony and they loved the upbeat jazz tunes too. Music is attainable for everyone and ushes in a renewed perspective with a new tune.


Hope these tips will inspire new thoughts about having more fun this week! Let me know what worked for you, too!

For more tips about reducing stress, try these posts here:

10 Stress Knock-Outs For The New Year

Magic Potions

Give, Pray, Laugh

Image courtesy of coward_lion at

Give, Pray, Laugh – Helping Others Can Reduce Stress


Part Two in the series 10 Stress Knock-Outs For The New Year

 Can helping others really lift some of the stress we feel or is it just an old wives’ tale?

I gotta tell you, it really does work wonders. If I could write it in a book title it would go something like Give-Pray-Laugh.


Letting go of clutter frees your mind to express creativity and be more whole with your inner self in daily activities. I’ve set monthly goals to wipe out a corner that’s causing me to trip because, well, it’s not just a physical distraction, is it? Each corner of clutter acts like someone throwing a weight at me when I walk by. It just pulls me down. It costs something in the economy of emotions that I’m not willing to give it any longer.

The boost: Driving over to the donation center nearby, realizing some of these things will be a huge blessing to others is a great reality-check. After the wildfires, when we had no possessions or permanent home, these places were generous to us as we grappled with getting temporary things in place. I relive that moment a bit each time we drive over, and not in a bad way. It makes my kids realize our gifts in life, too. Plus the group “ahhhh” when the garage door lifts now is audible!


Years ago I had a prayer mentor when I was at a critical juncture making decisions whether to go work full time with teens or keep working in corporate life. I was paired up with an experienced missionary and would go walking or have tea at her home each week. I have a lot to thank her for, in teaching me to bring up the small stuff in life, and how to connect people’s needs with prayer. Sometimes you feel a bit helpless wanting to offer support through a medical trial or life change. It really lifts the burden when you can give the worries of life up to the Lord and admit that although you don’t understand why bad things happen, there’s still hope in holding the hand of the One who does.

Favorite thing: Grab a friend and go walking and bring your prayers with you! Start by thanking God for the beautiful flowers or clouds or whatever you see in your path. Then mention each person by name and both of you can pray through their requests. It gives me tingles thinking of how this simple thing can bless those you care about. And this is great with kids as they battle the stresses of puberty too.


Laughter can immediately transform a glum moment to a glimmering one! Especially when children are involved. No matter your slice of life, you can connect with little ones by volunteering at your church, working with a mother’s group (try Mothers of Preschoolers – it’s great!), or hanging out with kids in youth group, take the chance. It will change your life!

What’s best? Decide what you need the most and go for it. Want laughter without strings? Little ones are the best. They always seem to have limitless hugs to give, too. Need more of a challenge? Take on the high-energy elementary grades and mentor a child struggling to read and find success. They appreciate each gesture, and always find ways to surprise you. Then there’s the preteen, or tween, group. One minute you’re laughing at a science experiment and the next discussing big issues in life. There’s a tangible moment of “wow” when you help open their eyes to the universe in a new way. Don’t be afraid to connect with teens, either. I love working with both groups and hearing from them that it makes a difference.

When you connect with giving, praying, and laughing, it makes you a better person. Time slows. Smiles grow. Stress fades to gray. And, yes, joy bubbles from within. Find and connect with your outlet soon.


Contest update:

Thanks to all those who entered or offered opinions! It really helped! (Drumroll) Here are the final contenders for the blog name on my new website:

  • Hidden Treasures
  • The Magical Inlet
  • The Thorn and The Vine

++One problem: I came up with all of these, so I’m giving a popsicle party for the fifth-grade classroom that’s volunteered for helping with final selection. I’d still love your vote so please chime in on the comments below!

+++We’ll be having lots of giveaways on the new blog so I’ll save the gifts for the next one, no worries there!


Image: Feelart at

10 Stress Knock-outs For The New Year


This week, while sitting in the tire store for my car, I felt the stress mounting. Sick friends in need, many commitments to juggle, my back speaking a bad note, so many things needing attention all at once. I realized I couldn’t help anyone else until I created a game-plan to handle it better myself. There may be a few surprises here that could help you, too. We’re going to take four weeks to put them into play, but here’s the highlights, with sections for yourself, for others, for fun, and for perspective.

For you:

1.Find a corner of light – Dwell someplace where you come first. Try to visit it a couple times per month or more and listen to the little voices inside that are encouraging change or affirming you, rather than those on constant critique.

2. Tackle the lurking monsters – Well, I’m the creative type but sometimes I feel there’s a challenge that’s overwhelming and dark. I want to hide, but it’s best not to. Whether it’s cleaning out your office or looking for ways to love prickly people in your life better, facing into it is so much better than sweeping it aside.

3. Reconnect with health goals – I’m including something fun as well as more vigorous goals. Listen to the echoes of your deepest needs, and try to brush them aside less often.

For others:

4. Donate for a new beginning – Getting more organized and being vigorous in ridding yourself of clutter is good for you and could bless someone else. If it makes you sad, consider clothing and objects part of an emotional economy. You are worth more than it and so letting it go can be very freeing.

5. Start a walk-and-pray group – When you get those requests to lift others up, it’s nice to connect and feel you’re helping those in need.

6. Laugh with children – Whether it’s volunteering to be a MOPS mentor with young moms or playing board games with young kids, their outlook is infectious, in a good way.

For fun:

7. Do something ridiculously outrageous – Find something that speaks to your inner child. Smiling and laughter are such great stress-busters. Is it riding roller-coasters? Or making candy apples? Just take a step that makes you giggle a bit. We’ll come up with a good list of ideas.

8. Invest in creativity – Whether it’s joining a book club or painting or playing an instrument, touching the creative part of self releases a kind of bubbly joy like champagne bubbles. Joy sweeps out the cobwebs of disappointment and gives energy to tackle new challenges, too.

For perspective:

9. Look for picture frames – Sort through photos of the last few years. Create a storyboard of things you’re grateful for and frame those moments. Make a gratitude wall. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or blue, remember those moments.

10. Guilt-free passes – Give yourself permission to know your limits. Whether it’s an invitation or something for your children, begin to cultivate a less frenetic life-style and invest more in what’s worthwhile.

Let’s take this journey together and end with more smiles and fewer frustrations. What have you planned this month to tackle your challenges? I’d love to hear from you too.


Image courtesy of num_skyman at