Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 468

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 483

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 490

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 526

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 594

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 594

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 594

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 594

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_PageDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 611

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 705

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 705

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 705

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 705

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_CategoryDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 728

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class wpdb in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 306

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 103

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Object_Cache in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 425

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 21

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 618

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Dependencies in /home/sheilape/public_html/ on line 15

Vow #1 “I vow to consistently seek to see your goodness and not allow judgment to cloud my vision”

A few weeks ago, my dear mother suddenly passed away. I emailed a friend the sudden news, saying that I could use a hug. His response was “you have my sympathy.” The response shocked and disappointed me. I felt like writing back something like “you cold jerk! What’s wrong with you?” Instead, I didn’t respond at all and held back on expressing my judgment. A few days later, my friend texted me, asking how I was. I responded: “I’m not doing well…I’m feeling sad and I’m surrounded by friends who are holding me tight.” He responded: “sounds good…” I’m noticing myself judge my friend as clueless, cold and unloving. I don’t say that to him, but I’m thinking it.

Then I think of the Zero Negativity Vow: how can I express myself authentically to my friend, and remain nonjudgmental? How can I seek his goodness and not allow my judgment of him to cloud my vision? I decided to become curious. I wrote an email to him:

“What does it take for someone whose friend’s mother has just died to give his friend a hug? It takes someone with a Heart at Peace; someone who can easily offer compassion and affection to a friend in need. When the Heart is at War, the natural impulse to reach out and be loving is stuck…”

My friend responded within a few hours: “I would like to give you a hug…when can I see you?”

Within a couple of days, I invited my friend to visit and he did give me my hug; it was a long and loving hug. It was a sweet visit. As he was leaving, I thanked him for taking the time to console me; with tears in his eyes, he said “I know it’s hard to lose someone close to you…I lost my mom too…” I acknowledged that I knew that, to which he responded “I can’t think about it…and it’s been several years.” My curiosity opened a doorway to understanding. I didn’t make my friend wrong for not rushing to my side earlier. I asked a question and allowed him to come to me when he was ready.

This is the season for saying “I DO!” Weekend after weekend, I am officiating at wedding ceremonies for couples who have found one another, are dedicated to one another, and have chosen to make the commitment to “love, honor, and respect” one another for the duration of their lives.

When I’m not officiating at weddings, I’m sitting in my office with couples who are in conflict: these are couples who are in the midst of dating and working things out for the next step in their relationship; or these are couples who have been together for many years and are deep into what I often call the “buildup, breakdown, breakthrough” cycle of close and intimate relationships.

What’s the rub? Negativity. Couples and families get into a rut: they begin to blame one another for perceived or real offenses, add to the list of complaints and criticisms of one another, and by the time I see couples and families, the heat in the relationships has reached the boiling point.

In close relationships, you might experience some negativity; you might even believe that it is normal and inevitable. Perhaps. When there is negativity – which seems to be pervasive – the question is “what’s the function of negativity?” For relationship experts like Harville Hendrix, the observation has been that negativity serves an important purpose: it helps a person to avoid intimacy, to avoid pain and to avoid feelings of disappointment. While it may not make any sense when you want to have a relationship that is loving, it actually makes sense on another level, if you are feeling anxious and want to find a way to back away from that anxiety.

How do any of us deal with this trap? It’s actually very simple: become curious. I you replace criticism with curiosity, you take everyone off the hook. By replacing criticism with curiosity, you are creating a non-judgmental environment.

What happens if you’re filled with rage? The natural tendency for your partner is to mirror the rage and become as angry as you are. Couples have to really learn that if one partner goes into his/her emotions, you need to make an effort to avoid doing the same thing. You may need to take a step back, take a walk, leave the room for a cooling-off period; but do not step into the same emotion. When you can choose to reflect and offer feedback, rather than duplicate the emotion of your partner who is filled with rage, you have just created a magical solution to defusing World War Three.

Whenever one person puts down another, there is a loss of equity – someone feels on top and someone else feels put down. Zero Negativity creates equality; no put-downs. Equality regulates anxiety…

Since we are in the midst of our Summer season, it is a season ripe for coupling, vacations, renewal and rejuvenation. As I’m meeting with couples for wedding ceremonies and for relationship renewals, I am encouraging each couple takes the “Zero Negativity Vow” which includes the intention of curiosity, rather than judgment and criticism.

In dedicating ourselves to Zero Negativity, I suggest thinking about the vows as having several faces. Let’s call these the “Many Faces of Zero Negativity Vows”.

I’ve been looking at the first face: Vow #1 is “I vow to consistently seek to see your goodness…” What is implied in this vow is the intention to avoid judgment, or to remain nonjudgmental. In making this vow, I also vow to not allow judgment to cloud my vision of your goodness. In judging someone, we are also making them wrong and ourselves right. It is that impulse that drives a need to “be right” which thinks in terms of someone having to win and someone else having to lose. It is an either/or way of seeing things, rather than both/and. It is a way of viewing the world and relationships from the perspective of one person being on top and another being on the bottom, rather than side by side.

When you seek always to understand, the goal is clarity not winning or losing. When you seek to see the goodness in others, you are already presuming the positive, not the negative. When you agree to seek the positive, you also agree to give the benefit of the doubt. It remains a choice. Judgment is not the same thing as preference. Judgment creates “right/wrong” dynamic in which someone has to win and someone has to lose. In a living relationship there is no place for win/lose. Loving relationships thrive in win/win. It doesn’t have to be about being right. It can be about being clear. It can be about agreeing to disagree.

Non-judgment is the cornerstone of loving.

I’m dedicated to you loving yourself and others. Loving is living…everything else is a distraction!


Most of us are engaged with some kind of business: either we work for someone else, earning a paycheck for doing a particular job, being of service to others in some way, or we are self-employed, doing something which offers a product or service to others. No matter how we slice it, most of us are in business, being of service to others.

So the question is, WHY do we do what we do? What is it that drives the engine of our motivation to get up in the morning? What is it that is the source of passion that inspires us to do our very best, each and every day of our lives?

Simon Sinek’s video (above) is a brilliant presentation on the importance of finding your WHY. Once you’ve got your WHY you can proceed to determine each step along the way WHO YOU CHOOSE TO BE. What I’m talking about is that fundamental choice each of us makes, as we step through our days and nights of our professional and business lives (as well as personal, of course!) about WHO we each choose to be: do I choose to be a Heart at War or a Heart at Peace?

We each define the quality of our humanity with each step along our way: do we open our hearts or close them? You and I were each born with an inborn capacity to love and be loved. It is a part of our natural wiring. I am a person so I understand what it means to be a person. I need love, so I understand that it’s like to need love. I am a parent, so I understand what it’s like to be a parent… and so it goes. It is a natural part of being a human being to respond to the impulse to be of service, to reach out and help someone in need, since we know what it’s like to be in need.

Then something happens: it could have been something that happened a long time ago that left a mark on us, or something that happened just yesterday that shut us down. We develop either a resistance to feeling whatever is natural and develop a Heart at War, or we develop a heightened capacity to embrace life and not allow the resistance to stop us from being our natural selves, and choose to embrace life fully by feeling deeply what is natural to feel, to empathize with other with an open heart, and develop a habit of approaching life with a Heart at Peace.

The person with the Heart at War resists the natural impulse to love, to be generous and helpful, to reach out to others in need, instead judging others who may need help, thereby objectifying others and in the process of doing that, makes the Self something unreal and seemingly cold and uncaring.

The Heart at Peace does not resist the natural impulse to be loving, caring and at ease; does not resist the natural impulse to be generous and genuine, caring and loving. The person who chooses to be the Heart at Peace is in full alignment with his/her natural essence.

The person who truly desires to be successful in any endeavor must choose to be The Heart at Peace.

When you are being the Heart at Peace, you can remain clear about your WHY: Why are you in the business you are in? What is your passion? Is it about health and wellness? Is it about living a joyful life? Is it about being financial at ease? Is it about leaving a legacy for those you love? Whatever your passion is, it will fuel your motivation to stay in motion and persist, as you pursue your success.

There are basic rules for success, as we use our Heart at Peace: with this energy of openness, there is an element of faith and trust in something that is bigger than any of us individually; a trust and faith in a friendly universe, and trust and faith in how and why we are here on the planet in our skins, being spiritual beings having a human experience.

We are living in a Quantum age, and we owe it to ourselves to be willing to take Quantum leaps into the possibilities for our future and our future success:

Use UNCOMMON SENSE – do not rely upon “common sense” in order to achieve success! Be bold and audacious, and to not listen to the voice of the masses. Be willing to be difference, uncommon, a cut above, dancing to the tune of a different drummer. Listen to your own inner voice and turn down the volume on the nay-sayers of others, including your own little puny ego voice, that voice that loves to criticize and view the world through the lens of fear and negativity. NO! Adhere to UNCOMMON SENSE and think big, dream big, be someone who is totally outside of the box.

Throw away the notion that in order to be successful, you must work hard. NO! That’s isn’t true.

ALLOW the abundance to flow, ALLOW yourself to work smart, not hard. ALLOW your intuitive wisdom to guide you to new ways of creating your business and seek new opportunities to flow to you.

Get yourself out of the way: ALLOW success to flow to and through you; get that little part of you, that little ego which means well but manages to stop you through fear and doubt, OUT OF THE WAY!

ACT AS IF…Choose to believe in your big success without having the evidence. When you choose to “Believe” without the evidence, you are allowing success to flow to you. Believe that success is guaranteed… Believe that “success will be mine!” Do not allow doubt to steal your dreams: doubt is the enemy of boldness. When you doubt yourself, you impose limits on yourself and your results.

THE KEY? NOT to get in the way of your success… The Key is to ALLOW for success to happen!

TRUST IN YOUR INTUITION: Trust in the intuitive and instinctive process; tolerate uncertainty and confusion. Open up your heart and your channels of courage to the unexpected.

If you want guarantees in life, you don’t want life: All of great achievements in life involve being willing to take that Quantum Leap: RISK! Pull strength from the unknown. Treat the uncertainty and the unknown as your friends — you just haven’t met them yet.

Trust is human: we need more hand-shake connections (as Simon Sinek talks about in the above video).

Trust that your most valuable resources are aspects which you cannot see; trust that the Universe wants you to win. Your willingness to leap into that great unknown possibility for yourself and others is the ultimate enabler. Allow yourself to leap into the world of breakthrough ideas. Think of yourself as a receiver: a receiver of abundance, of opportunities, of possibilities. The receiver of the raw stuff of life with which you create your own masterpieces of success – however you choose to define success.

Those unseen forces which are your partners in creativity need to know where they are going: you are the captain of your ship. You decide where you want to go: YOU create the MAP. The unseen forces within and around you will comply. The Universe is just a great big xerox machine: To ask, you decide and the Universe jumps in to conspire with you as you create your own Success Map.

Remain open to the unexpected — expect miracles…don’t limit what they are.

Remember to treat FAILURE as a friend: if there is any such thing as failure (I do not believe there is any such thing as “Failure”), welcome it as a teacher. With each so-called failure, there is an opportunity to learn. When Thomas Edison was working on finding a way to invent the light bulb, he didn’t fail over 900 times…he discovered over 900 ways it didn’t work. He learned… He persisted. He never failed.

Remember: Progress often masquerades as Problems. See each challenge, each problem as an opportunity to learn something you didn’t know before.

Know WHERE you want to go, and WHY you want to go there.
Allow yourself to live each day with passion
Invite and embrace failure – risking leads to greatness.
Embrace discomfort – no growth takes place in a comfort zone!

Get ready…Get going now!

Enjoy the ride – Have fun with your life!

To your Ageless & Joyful Life,

One day she is here, the next moment, she is gone.  You just kissed your son goodbye as he leaves for a date, and four hours later, the cops appear at your front door… I’m sorry to inform you… Yesterday you kissed your husband good morning at breakfast, and a few hours later, he suddenly secumbed to a massive heart attack.

We never know.  It is shocking.  It is sudden.  It is unexpected.  Life…gone!

I’m often called by families who suffer sudden and tragic losses.  I have learned to remain silent.  I hold them.  I make a point to avoid saying anything at all that might appear to be advice on how a person should be feeling at this time.  There are no words.  Better to just be present to the person in shock.  Hold them, be there to listen if they need to talk or scream or cry.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that there are three stages of grieving: First, we are silent.  Then we cry.  Then we sing. Are there other stages?  Of course, including the classic stages of grieving including denial, anger, and then acceptance.  Being silent is important.  Just be.  There is nothing to do.  When someone we love passes, we feel helpless.  We are helpless — one moment she/he was breathing, and now there is no breath of life.

Then, we need to release the emotions we have been holding inside: let them out!  Let the tears fall!

Finally, sing! Use the breath you have to honor the loved one who no longer has breath.  Use your breath to claim life.  Sing or ask someone else to sing for you.  Singing is living in its purest form: moving energy and breath, sharing energy and breath with melody and words.

I share my voice here on this video, singing a blessing which I want to have a ripple effect.  Please play it often and allow yourself to feel the sweet vibrations of melody.

As you do, please know that as you hear my voice, you are also hearing the voice of my mother and father; both parents have taken their last breath, but in me they have given me breath and voice.  As long as I have breath, my parents have life through me.

As long as you sing your song, your loved ones whose bodies have passed, have life through you.

May the life each of us may mourn at this time continue to be for a blessing.

To your Blessed and Joyful Life!


For 71 years, my mama was my best friend and the source of unconditional love. My mama was the wind beneath my wings, the voice of wisdom and encouragement throughout my lifetime of challenges, ups and downs.

I recorded this video a year ago, shortly after I had visited my dear mother who was in a nursing home. I will never forget one of our last conversations: I said: “Mama, look at me…what do you see?” Without batting an eyelash, she looked straight into my eyes and smiled sweetly as she said: “I see myself, Sheila. I see me…” That was a WOW moment for me. Interesting, since when I looked at my mother, I saw myself in 20 years, feeling a sense of legacy and urgency.

Mama had stepped through the doorway of legacy and urgency: she was fully present to the NOW. Not thinking about past or future, just here in this moment of now.

Mama passed away one month ago – I was not able to get to her side before she passed. Just like the many times I had attempted to get through to her on the phone and feeling the frustration of not being able to hear her voice, the time of her being able to talk to me on the phone had passed about a year ago. I knew that my brother visited her nearly daily; and a dear friend of mine visited her on my behalf as well, so I kept in touch with her in that way. It was a comfort. The other way that I “kept in touch” was with the technique I had learned many years ago called “Kything” – a heart-to-heart or spirit-to-spirit form of communication. I had established the habit of kything with mama daily, letting her know in this way that I was with her in spirit. Being in New York while she was in California had become less of a painful reality for me when I felt the real connection with mama, spirit to spirit. Whenever I did visit her, I asked if she felt me with her when I was so far away. She said she did. I hope that was true for her.

I offer this video today as another way of sharing with you the special quality of human being my mother was, the extraordinary kind of mother she was to me, and the magnitude of her influence on me and the life I live every day of my life. Her legacy is living in and through me, as I continue to sing, speak and write.

At the stage of life in which our children are having children and our parents are passing on to their spiritual home, it is natural to feel the tug of legacy: what am I leaving behind? How will I be remembered by others? In what way has my life mattered? These are natural questions for us to ask, when our own mortality becomes a reality to us, when someone we love has passed. My mother was less than 20 years older than I. My dear husband who passed over 8 years ago was over 16 years older than I. As I approach the age that loved ones have passed, I am reminded that although I would like to imagine living forever, it is not likely my body will do so. The “I” of who I am will hopefully live on long after my body passes away. My mama, being the mama she was for me, will continue to live on, as long as I have breath.

Thank you mama! Thank you for life, thank you for teaching me to love; thank you for teaching me how to receive love.

As I have been saying to people this past month, since mama’s passing: “if you like what you see in me, if you like my smile and the way I am being in the world, thank my mama.”

To your Joyful Life


I recently had an adventure: it was a date with a man with whom I had been having email and phone conversations for quite a while, and we planned to finally meet in person. I had become excited and even breathless as I anticipated meeting this man who had succeeded in inspiring me to imagine that he might even be “the one”… As I was on my way to meet him, I wondered what it would be like; would our meeting exceed my expectations, or would I be disappointed? Soon enough, I would find out.

Every experience has within it the seeds of opportunity: the opportunity to learn something new, to review lessons forgotten, and to grow in awareness about ourselves and those around us.

What I learned, as I reviewed the adventure of this date, was that it is important to actually meet a prospective romantic partner in person first before jumping to any conclusions about anything at all. A person can look great on a profile; the pictures can be delightful and beautiful and/or handsome. None of that matters. What matters is what the body tells us when we finally meet face-to-face, eyeball to eyeball, energy to energy.

Just to summarize the story: he entered ten minutes after our appointment. As he walked toward me, I could feel the energy in my body drop. Everything in my cells was screaming “no, no, no!” As he approached me, I felt a shudder — not a shiver of delight, but a shudder of repulsion. My body was saying “he is not the one…go home!”

I felt as if I had already grown to know this man and felt a sort of responsibility to spend some time with him, although I’m not quite sure why. He leaned down to kiss me and I wanted to turn away. As we walked along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, I felt increasingly distant and lonely. At dinner, the conversation was forced. When the bill came, I offered to pay for my dinner and he agreed. As I was signing the bill, he added “the tip is $4.40.” That confirmed everything my body had known from the moment he first walked toward me: this is a man who is stingy, self-absorbed, and intrusive, to say the least. I could never share life with a man who would have the audacity to tell me what I should tip for a meal I was funding! I could never share a life with a man who could leave me feeling lonely because there was never one question about me, about my life, about my interests, although I had engaged in conversation in which I asked about him.

Your body knows everything. It is important to listen to that mind-body connection that my friend and colleague Karol Ward talks about in her wonderful TEDx talk. We are all magnificent mind-body-spirit beings of energy and intuitive wisdom, if we would simply listen to our bodies.

Many years ago, when I was in the midst of a hugely important decision-making process, I consulted my body for the answer to a question: “do I go…or do I stay?” What was at stake was my career, my lifestyle, my work, my livelihood. Yet, I listened to my body as I asked that question over a decade ago. My body was clear: “it’s time to go…” it told me. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was heart-wrenching and one of the most difficult decisions of my lifetime. Truly. Who knows what my life would have been like, had I stayed where I was. in leaving, walking away, and moving toward another path, I shifted the entire direction of my life and my work. Was it easy? No. Did my body know? Yes.

Perhaps there is an important question on your mind; a decision you need to make and you’re not quite sure how to decide. I suggest you follow Karol’s guidance in this video: listen carefully to what your body tells you. It never lies.

To your Joyful Life and Loving Relationships,


If we don’t allow ourselves to experience joy and love, we don’t live fully. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we find what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.

How do we protect ourselves from feeling hurt, pain, disappointment, joy, love…?

We find ways to numb ourselves, anticipate disappointment, minimize excitement and joy, and avoid taking any risks whatsoever in the direction of uncertainty. A new love relationship is risky. Perhaps we decide not to go there. A new job is risky. Perhaps we stay in the old one, although we are miserable.

We associate vulnerability with weakness. It is not true. Vulnerability is at the core of anxiety, shame, fear; it is also the birthplace of love, joy, faith and ultimate bliss…

Disappointment can become a lifestyle; it is easier to LIVE disappointment rather than FEEL it.

We sidestep getting excited about something because we’re not sure it’s going to happen.

Perfection is one of the 200-pound shield: it has nothing to do with striving for excellence. Perfectionism has nothing to do with striving for excellence; it is simply a tool to protect ourselves from fear.

Spirituality is inherently vulnerable.

What is driving this intolerance for vulnerability? It is scarcity: we live in a culture in which we learn that we are not enough…

In our ordinary lives is really where we can find the most joy.

To your Joyful Life!

My friends Angela and Becky had been telling me about this new women’s networking group that met in Goshen and invited me to go with them on a Wednesday evening in October several years ago. As I walked into the restaurant, I noticed a tall stately and elegantly dressed woman with a broad smile. She looked like royalty; I was drawn to her and wondered “who is this woman?” as if I was in the presence of greatness of some kind yet to be determined.

“Brenda is my name…and who might you be?” she asked. I learned that Brenda had been making her own clothes for years — the finely tailored melon-colored suit she was wearing was one of her own creations. She then proceeded to tell me about her work and her passion for college scholarships. She was dedicated to helping students get into the colleges of their choice and to assist them in making applications for scholarships.

I was totally drawn to Brenda: the greatness I had sensed was within this noble and sweet woman had little to do with her talents as a seamstress or her new business in scholarship consulting.  It would be several years before I would fully understand the nature of Brenda’s greatness and how deeply her courage would touch me and all who had known her.

After I first met Brenda at that NWIN business dinner over six years ago, she and I became friends; she was also a client for a brief period of time when she asked for some guidance and inspiration in moving ahead with her business. About three years ago, I learned that Brenda was battling cancer; she was not given a positive prognosis. Nonetheless, Brenda pursued every avenue, followed every possible opportunity to capture the essence of life, despite huge challenges and financial hardships. Despite the odds, Brenda prevailed and emerged victorious. She stood tall, wearing those gorgeous and colorful suits she had made for herself. This past Fall she was honored and acknowledged by Independent Living; she spoke eloquently about the dignity and support this magnificent organization had made possible for her and her family. She had slain the dragon. She was victorious and thriving. It seemed…

Last week, I received word from our mutual friends that Brenda had been admitted to the Kaplan Family Hospice Residence in Newburgh. A few days after her admittance, I visited her. This past Friday night, I was having a very different kind of dinner from the one we shared that first night I met her years ago:  Brenda’s college friend and I were sharing a pizza as we lent our presence to an awesome “birthing” process as Brenda slept peacefully in her room at the Hospice Residence.

The moment I walked into Brenda’s room, I knew that Friday evening would be her time of passage to her next chapter. During the past three decades, I’ve assisted many people, including my dear husband, in this sacred passage from the physical to the purely spiritual realm of life. I have experienced this passage as a part of life; it may seem like death because most of us define life as everything physical and when the physical ceases to function we call it death. I have learned that this process is a birthing into pure spirit. A birthing of the energetic ripple effect of a human being’s foot print left behind after the body has ceased to breathe.

As I sat quietly with Brenda, breathing along with her, as she was nearing her last breath, I recalled the few years of her valiant and courageous dedication to life: she was not going to accept defeat; she kept her spirits high even when the doctors gave little hope for her survival of her cancer. In the midst of many kinds of hardship and challenge, Brenda remained the ever-present nobility and sweet spirit of grace.

Friday night, as she was transitioning to pure spirit, Brenda was surrounded by love: her good friends and cousins were with her. I was also with her, assuring her that she was loved and that each of us in her life will continue to honor her memory and be inspired by her courage.

When someone we love has taken that last breath, there are ways that we can step into another level of gratitude for life which lifts the spirit and honors the person who is no longer with us physically.

I offer here – for Brenda’s friends and family, and for those of you who never knew Brenda but have had your own losses – some words of consolation and comfort:


It is not God’s role to spare us suffering but to help us bear it. When the visitation we dread finds us, we do well to ask for the strength which will uphold us, for the insight which will reveal new wisdom to us, for the special power which will transform our suffering into a source of blessing. And to such a prayer there is always an answer…
Something precious has been taken from us, and we think of it as something we have lost, instead of something we have had. We sense only how empty our lives are now; we forget how full they were before; we forget the many days and years we shared.
We praise God for our treasures while we have them. Shall we cease to praise God when they are gone? For God never gives but only lends. What is life itself but a loan? “Everything,” said the Sages, “is give in pledge.”
Let us consider the days which have passed not as loss, but as gain – the gain which comes with new courage, with nobler tasks, with a wider outlook on life, with a greater awareness of life’s duties and possibilities.

Our yesterdays are beyond the reach of death,
When our love transforms them into
living influences.
Thus we continue to be guided by a light
Which transcends time and defies death.

There are three ways we respond to sorrow.
On the first level, we cry.
On the second level, we are silent.
On the highest level,
we take sorrow–and turn it into song.


“Studying death can help each of us become someone who has a great capacity for being solid, calm, and without fear. Even so, we often feel anything but solid and calm when someone we love dies. Death stirs up conflicted feelings in the hearts of those left behind–some of us feel shaky and tender; others are shocked and angry; almost everyone is confused and unsettled. All of these feelings are included in what we call grief.”


Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us look for you only in memory,
where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones…

* * * * * * * * * * *

When someone we love has passed, it is a reminder that each of us has our time; we never know when that time will be. Saying “goodbye” is not only sad because we will miss our beloved, but sad because we face our own mortality. I found myself musing about what it is that makes life matter. After all, we want others to miss us when we no longer have breath, don’t we?

What matters for you? Some things that matter for me are: hugs, smiles, laughter, and knowing I matter to someone else. In memory and honor of Brenda and others in your life you want to remember, dedicate yourself to letting the people in your life that matter to you know that THEY matter to YOU. Give them the experience of being important to YOU. Let them see you smile at them when they are approaching you; let them feel your warmth with a hug and kiss when you see each other. There is nothing more telling and precious that seeing the light of loving recognition in someone else’s eyes as you approach one another.

Make sure YOU matter!

With love and blessings,

Researcher and author, Brene Brown, conducted an in-depth research project into the phenomenon of the sense of worthiness. In a period of over six years, she studied hundreds of people who had the strong sense of love and belonging. She discovered that those who have a strong sense of love and belonging BELIEVE they are worthy of love and belonging. In this TEDTalk Brene Brown talks about what she has learned about the deep sense of worthiness.

What those who had a deep sense of worthiness had in common was a sense of courage: that word “courage” comes from the Latin “coeur” (heart) - having the courage to be open-hearted and imperfect. It’s about having the capacity to have compassion with Self; without being compassionate with yourself, how can you have it for someone else? Brown connected the dots between the willingness to exercise courage with the ability to live in a state of authenticity.

These people Brown studied fully embraced vulnerabilty: they believed that what made them vulnerable also made them beautiful. They talked about vulnerability being necessary; about the willingness to say “I love you” first; the willingness to say “there are no guarantees.” They exhibited a willingness to invest in a relationship which may or may not work out.

The key to living fully in our full-out vitality: the way to live is with vulnerability. Uncertainty. A willingness to risk and live with a courageous open heart.

We live in a world that is obsessed with numbing vulnerability. You cannot selectively numb emotion. when you say you don’t want to feel one emotion, you are also ruling out all the rest. When we numb the “negative” emotions, we also numb joy and happiness.

The human condition is having the choice of feeling it all. When we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we can also allow ourselves to be fully alive.

To your Joyful Loving Life!

Are you going to learn how to “love consciously?” Instead of your relationship be something that just makes you feel safe and secure, what if your most significant relationship was more about you growing and learning what it’s like to live a life with a lasting and evolving love? Imagine saying “I love loving you, flaws and all!” Unfortunately, most couples begin their relationships having the agenda of changing the other, in order to meet their current needs. What if we agree to grow together, move beyond your relationship, and grow to the “bliss” stage.

Which stage are you in now? Where would you like to be?

Stay tuned… I will be sharing all kinds of wonderful advice and resources for you as you are seeking to experience all of the possibilities of love — and bliss!

To your Joyful and Loving Relationships,

Dr. Sylvia Gearing talks about the #1 relationship wrecker: Financial Infidelity. It can appear to be innocent; it can even appear to be appropriate to have “my money, your money, and our money…” Some couples maintain separate accounts, and each may be blind and clueless about what each other is doing with the money they make and spend. Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, in her book Financial Infidelity: Seven Steps to Conquering the #1 Relationship Wrecker,” guides couples through the seven steps to creating a loving marital relationship that lasts. It includes being open with one another about income, spending, budget, investments, and planning ahead. It includes the notion that partnership in life includes the financial transparency and honesty that builds trust and creates true intimacy between partners.

If you are hiding the evidence of something you bought and don’t want you partner to know about it, you are on your way to damaging your relationship. If you purchase something, go on a shopping spree with a friend, and find yourself saying something like “don’t tell my husband what I spent!” you are your way to a big problem somewhere down the road.

We are all creatures of habit, and I will share an example of how that habit can have a dangerous ripple effect: Roslyn was a compulsive buyer throughout her 40-year marriage and her husband frequently paid off large credit-card balances to avoid the interest charges. The financial drain and constant secrecy threatened Roslyn’s marriage several times. Now, Roslyn is a grandmother and recently took her granddaughter shopping. When she brought Samantha home from their shopping spree, she said to Samantha “don’t tell your grandpa what we bought to day, ok? It’s our secret.” Samantha’s father overheard the conversation and knowing about his mother’s long-time spending addiction, quickly intervened: “we don’t have secrets, mother…Please don’t ask Samantha to keep secrets from grandpa.”

Secrets are relationship wreckers, because they lead to a sense of betrayal and alienation. Be careful what secrets to are trying to keep.

When it comes to how we spend our money, honesty is the only thing that works in a marriage. Anything else spells danger for the future of your relationship.

To your Joyful and Loving Relationships,

© 2008