Tag Archives: surrender

When you let go…

A friend and I were talking yesterday about how we want so much to “happen” in our family lives. That we have a hard time seeing any value in sitting around watching TV on a weekend day when there is so much to experience out there in the world. I used to be one who tried to impose this opinion of mine on my family. But I’ve learned that it only makes things worse. Begets even MORE TV watching. And what I’ve come to find is that really, it’s only a temporary thing. It’s not like they watch TV 24/7. It’s just a way for them to wind down after the long work/school week. We’re very active people, curious and creative by nature, always on the move. Sitting quietly watching TV now and then isn’t going to fry anyone’s brain or undo all those beautiful memories I’ve tried so hard to inspire. It’s a way for them to feel safe and even bond. How is it different than sitting on a boat fishing, for instance? Or in a duck blind? How is active always better than passive? I have found that the more I let go of active being the “right” way, the more active they become. This, for instance, happened last weekend. Log peeling for our friend’s cabin in the woods.
Lessons lessons, everywhere…when you let go.


Filed under Little Hymns to Montana, My Posts

No Agenda– mother daughter inspiration

I’d like to share this blog post I did for the Parelli Natural hosemanship blog today.  It introduces some very special people in my life.  You might recognize the horse woman from my book.  Here she is:  Bobbi Hall.  But first a word about her amazing child, Cedar, who makes Down’s Syndrome look like mystic freedom, and maybe it is.  It is my great pleasure to share about them here.


photo by Kylanne Sandelin

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Filed under Little Hymns to Montana, Motherhood, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts, Parelli Natural Horsemanship Blog Pieces

Summer Lost (or Summer Gained): It's how you slice it.

I didn’t have a summer this year, and I feel sorry for myself. Maybe you can relate. Here’s what I didn’t do that I usually do:
Visit family
Go anywhere beachy
Ride my horse in the woods (cardinal sin)
Go to the County Fair
Go to the gym
Hike in Glacier National Park (a .6 mile walk to a waterfall and back does not count)
Spend more than a half an hour picking huckleberries
Finish the Bear puzzle on the dining room table with the kids
Read a novel or two ot ten
Watch the meteor shower
Take a night walk with the dogs, or any substantial walk with the dogs for that matter
Go to Canada, which is 60 miles north
Make homemade ice cream
Have long leisurely dinners outside on the patio
Eat lobster

Here’s what I DID do on my summer vacation:
I compiled this list yesterday because I was sick of beating myself up for all the things I DIDN’T do, and it reminded me that when you are launching your life’s dream and starting a business, you might suffer in the “Life in Balance” category. And so what? Sometimes that’s just the way things fly. So yesterday, I took my mind off my NO list and set it on my YES list, and I went to bed by the full moon last night feeling sated.

The below is not shameless self-promotion, it’s just a good exercise. If you feel that you too didn’t have a summer, you might want to write down what you DID do. And that includes just sitting in a room breathing and gazing out the window, if you didn’t have a high performance last few months. Let’s live in YES instead of NO. Let’s live in the SOLUTION, not the PROBLEM. For what it’s worth, feel free to skim the below:

Played tennis with my kids
Started a puzzle with my kids
Took a romantic getaway with my husband to see Michael Franti and Spearhead in Missoula, MT and had a total blast
Went to a three day horse clinic about centered riding and learned so much about how tight I am on a horse when I’m scared
Swam in the lake a lot

…and the following:
Social Media:
Took a hard core stab at understanding Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, Shewrites, and Blogher which is all mildly terrifying for this techno peasant.

Started “Daily Tips for Writers” on Twitter which I hope to make into a book one day, or use in a memoir about writing.

Regular Blog Contributor:
Became a regular contributer to:
Huffington Post
Parelli Natural Horesmanship Blog

Live Chats:

Awesome Women’s Hub.com on Facebook with Robin Rice

Penguin Watercooler


My Haven Newsletter live blog chat with Life Coach, Rossell Weinstein


Contest:“Think Outside the Barn”– did a photo essay of barns, and their “real life” personae– followed by the “Name This Barn” contest and book giveaway. Winner to be announced Sept 12. People are having a lot of fun with this and so am I.

The Kathleen Show (radio and blog)


SHE Magazine– UK (glossy mag, December publication)

Inspiremetoday.com with Gail Goodwin (pending publication)

NPR interview with Sally Mauk


406 Magazine (Montana)

Q&A: Montana Quarterly Magazine

Guest blogger on:

The Traveling Writer


Drinking Diaries




Huffington Post– Arielle Ford’s Blog


Published Essays:

“Dog Fog”– Huffington Post


“Rain Song”– Huffington Post


New York Times Magazine “Lives” essay:


Author Magazine


Woman’s Day (August issue)

Pending Publication:

Shewrites essay
Parelli Horsemanship blog post (will be a montly deal)
O. Magazine South Africa essay
Life By Me essay http://www.lifebyme.com/ ebook by Sophie Cliche (includes Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Maya Angelou etc.)

Submissions: (waiting to hear)
The New Yorker (fingers, toes, eyes, and nostrils crossed)
Ladies Home Journal
The Sun
NPR essay to read on air

Summer Events:Read at the Whitefish Lake Lodge
Read at three private parties: Ridgewood NY, Millbrook, NY, Short Hills, NJ
Read at the Kent Place School, Summit, NJ
Read at a book group on Flathead Lake

Co-hosting (or just plain being feted at) three private parties/readings: NYC, Hartford, Chicago
Reading at two libraries: Fairfield and Simsbury, CT
Speaking at a major Chicago hospital benefit
Speaking at the kick-off to the reading series at my high school in CT
Speaking at the Winnetka Bookstall– luncheon at a great Chicago restaurant

Fundraiser for a San Francisco school– Burke School
Festival of the Book in Missoula, where I’ll serve on a panel of memoirists and speak seperately
Miami Book Fair

Oh, and I got a book deal in the UK, (Little Brown) which I’m so excited about. Book to be published in April.

So why is it that I feel so guilty that I haven’t been to the gym, taken night walks with my dogs, ridden my horse in the woods, etc? I think we all could learn a lot by looking at our pro list and not our con list. I’m going to work on this. I know it’s not about doing. It’s about being. But sometimes we need to give ourselves a pat on the back for what we’ve done. And who we were doing it.


Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts

Mean People Suck. Love Them Anyway.



“Sometimes you have to allow yourself to be misunderstood.”

Even though these are my own words, oh how hard this is to carry out sometimes.  Especially when people misrepresent you and then other people react to something that you never said or wrote or even remotely believe.  Why have we grown a society which wants to prey upon its own kind like vultures to smaller birds?  Why can’t we look at our society like us/us?  Will we ever outgrow our survivalist fittest-ish ways?  Will we ever grow up?  Will our hearts ever communally break apart so wide open that love will really rule?  Especially when people are willing to be honest and vulnerable in the hopes that it will help other members of this collective We that acts more like an auto-immune diseased species, fighting its own constitution.  

            Recently I’ve had the pleasure of writing a book that has helped many people.  I hear from people daily—men, women, religious, not religious, married, unmarried, from the US and abroad, sharing their own stories, opening their own veins.  And it blows me away that something as simple as being willing to commit to a philosophy of non-suffering and then getting the chance to apply it to a real life personal crisis can fill a heart hole in the world.  It makes me wonder how much we are all hiding and stuffing away—how much we are so silently suffering.

            What’s shocking to me, well maybe not so shocking really, is how people don’t want to be happy.  Or free from suffering.  Convinced that being victims serves them well, thankyouverymuch.  How violently they’ll resist and attack this simple age-old message that well-being is really a choice. 

            It inspires me to think of the work of mothers.  We would do our children well, then to point out that, no, no one made you mad.  No one made you cry.  No one made you sad.  You chose that.  Short of being punched in the face.  Emotional pain is your choice. 

            Why do so many people NOT want to hear this message?  Why?  Because they get to be right.  “See—the world sucks.”  And they point the finger just like they’re used to doing, and they stay in their world of hurt.  Again why?  Because that’s their comfort zone.  Well what if you started out being able to identify the pain and suffering in this sort of relationship with life and yourself?  What if you learned and loved what it was to be internally free from an early age?  Think of what the world would be like.  Mothers, we have work to do!

            It’s like the telephone game in grade school.  Begins in one form, ends in a new creature altogether.  It’s like the mean girl in high school starting a false rumor about you because her boyfriend has a crush on you or you grew boobs over the summer.  People, young and old, have all kinds of guts behind a computer screen, or in closed rooms without an audience. 

            I remember once when two of my friends started a rumor about me in 7th grade.  It was entirely untrue.  And I was pissed.  Not as much because of how it portrayed me in my school and my town, but because it proved that people are mean and I hated to see that this was so even in my own circle of beloved friends.  So I got on my bike and I rode it over to the house where they were spending the night.  I walked in the back door, and found them in the sunroom watching cartoons.  My heart was pounding and I lifted my head and breathed deeply and sat down on the couch. 

            They ignored me.

            I just sat there.  Heart pounding, but my mind strangely calm.

            Finally I spoke.  “Why would you make up a lie about me?  It hurt my feelings.  What did I do to you that you would be so mean?”

            They had no answer.  We just sat there, like I was waiting to be absorbed into a cell wall but didn’t really care if I was or not.  I just wanted to be a presence in the field of honesty.  A heart pumping visibly in a room of meanness.  Reminding them that they too had hearts.  And that I would forgive them their humanness, even though it hurt.  Eventually, we ended up playing outside and doing what kids/people do when they’re not being afraid and small and mean.

            Years later, I was out to dinner with one of those girls.  She had a big job in NYC and was a big celebrity because of it.  People came up to her and fawned all over her and I sat there in the wrong outfit feeling a bit invisible.  And finally, she said to me in a moment of privacy, “I’ll never forget that time I was mean to you when we were kids, and you came over to my house and confronted me.  I think about that all the time.  You were really brave.  We were just jealous of you, because somehow you were able to be a nice girl and be popular– have power and still be kind.  I don’t think we knew what to do with that.  I was in a lot of pain in my life back then.  You stood for a hope I didn’t know how to have.  I’ve used that as a baseline way to be with people who are mean to me.  And believe, me, people are mean to me, a LOT.” 

            I’d actually forgotten about that morning in the sunroom until she brought it up in that chic New York City restaurant.  And I’ll admit that I breathed deeply and felt proud of my little girl self.

            And now, although most of it is so incredibly positive and gracious, when I do read mean things about me or what I’ve written, I wonder what kind of pain people are in, that they cannot see the freedom in choosing to let go and that happiness is a simple choice.  But just like that sunny room all those years ago, there’s not much I can say except that my heart is open.  Is yours?

“We all need more kindness in this world”– Guy Davis


Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, Motherhood, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts