Kris Carlson, Friends & Synchronicities

On a random Sunday, I was at home trying to decide if I wanted to attend a party up the street in my neighborhood. In recent months, I’ve sworn off anything that makes me feel uncomfortable or brings me back to the past. I dislike attending parties alone and events that pull me from my present back into my past are now typically avoided as I feel I cannot move forward while clinging to the past. Therefore, I’ve made a concerted effort to look forward, try new things, meet new people, and embrace my future.

This event would bring me back into the heart of my former life. I remember the day I met the hostess Dana Windat Dowell. My children were tiny, perhaps two and four. I was talking to Dana at Rancho Laguna Park, and when she took off her sunglasses she revealed the most stunning green eyes I had ever seen. Beautiful inside and out, we’ve stayed in touch over the years as we’ve raised our kids, and I would often attend her yoga classes. Dana is also the author of Yoga Girl, a Children’s book.

My schedule has been very busy. I’ve been working my side hustles, picked up some consulting work, and I’m doing the due diligence for my clothing apparel line. It’s been an intense period of my life, I recognize it won’t last forever, but I need to pace myself and I now literally have to schedule time to stay home to rest.

It’s also summertime, and I’ve had a good deal of social obligations and milestone birthday parties to attend, so I decided I would skip it.

As my girls headed out the door, they said, “You really should go to Dana’s. You love Dana.”

I went outside and watered my flowers and thought about it. It was a beautiful night and I could be there in five minutes and be home in the same amount of time if I was uncomfortable or tired. So, in the end I went.

From the moment I saw Dana I knew it was the right decision. She greeted me with open arms and poured me a beautiful glass of wine in her gorgeous kitchen. As we were talking we were asked to come outside because Kristine Carlson was speaking. Kristine is a powerful speaker and you could have heard a pin drop as she spoke.

If you live in Lamorinda it’s likely you’ve heard of Kristine Carlson. Best selling author, wife of the late, Dr. Richard Carlson and extraordinary friend and mother.

Kristine and I have several mutual friends, so I knew it was just a matter of time before I met her. It was absolutely worth the wait. She gave me a signed copy of her new book, From Heartbreak to Wholeness: The Hero’s Journey to Joy. I took it home and started reading it. It was full of wisdom and held many answers to my most pressing questions.

Yesterday, I was able to meet with Kris in Walnut Creek. It was miraculous to talk to the author about what she wrote about in her book. In particular unlikely coincidences.

Over the past few years I’ve experienced synchronicities. Most recently, in one day, I had a lunch date with a man named Chris, but my truck wouldn’t start. Chris from road side assistance called to tell me he was on his way. This was confusing because I thought it was the former Chris who I had just spoken to. Later that same day, I attended a party in San Francisco and the home was owned by a man named Chris and the chef was also named Chris. When I broke my arm my orthopedic doctor was named Chris. Then, I meet Kris Carlson. When I told her this story she laughed and said the Universe was playing with me. This was good to know, as I thought I was just going crazy.

I will write more about her book when I’ve finished it. Until then, happy summer.

Love and blessings to all.

“Carlson is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and leader in the field of transformation. After collaborating with her late husband Dr. Richard Carlson to create a publishing industry phenomenon with the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff series—selling more than 25 million copies worldwide—today, Kris is emerging as a profound teacher in the areas that matter most to the human heart: how to heal and how to love.

She has been featured on national radio and television, including The Today Show, Good Morning America, The View, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Kris’ books, include Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff in Love; Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Women; Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms; An Hour to Live, An Hour to Love: The True Story of the Best Gift Ever; and Heartbroken-Open: A Memoir Through Loss to Self Discovery. In her forthcoming book, From Heartbreak to Wholeness: The Hero’s Journey to Joy.”

Moving On

After much consideration, I’ve decided to stop writing my blog and focus my time and energy on other endeavors. I am deeply grateful to the thousands of readers from over 72 countries who have come along with me on this journey. You have helped me to grow through my own experiences and taught me the power of community.  I will miss your comments and constant encouragement. I will continue to write my column for 24/680 News on the topic of women in business.

I want to leave you with these final words.

Courage cannot be attained without experiences that require us to call on our strength. This is how we learn fearlessness. Circumstances that require courage allow us to learn and grow as we test our own inner strength. Often, I wish for the past two years to have never happened and that they could be erased forever from my memory. I think back to the person I was when this began and my happy and mostly carefree life with gratitude. However, without my trials and tribulations and meeting them head-on I would not have attained the fearlessness I have now. It has not been easy, yet it has made me as strong and brilliant as a diamond set in spun gold.

Only through fearful circumstances can we learn to build and strengthen our courage. Now, there is nothing that I am afraid of and for that I am very grateful.

I am looking forward to the next chapter and it’s here.

Love and blessings to all.

Love Songs

Since I started the side hustle(s) I’ve worked almost everyday. Since the work is fun, and gets me out of both the house and my head, I’ve excepted more work than I should have.

I worked eight days straight and then spent my day off meeting with the nonprofit I sponsor (Sailing Initiative) and doing more work. I then stayed at the Yacht Club drinking wine with my friends Fran and Betty. Then, upon returning home I ended up talking to my cousin on the phone until midnight further exhausting myself.

I knew I was in need of a break, so I took a few days off to go to Truckee to rest and clear my head.

In the kitchen where I work they play love songs all day long. This has had an adverse impact on me making me think long and hard about my late husband and our twenty five years together. It’s easy to forget so many things in a long term relationship, but trust me there is a love song to go with each and every phase to jog your memory.

My late husband and I were next door neighbors, and he worked in Oakland and I worked in San Francisco. He would drive me to BART because he didn’t want me to get my feet wet. Yes, I wore Italian suede shoes, but it was unlikely my feet would get wet living in drought ridden Northern California. Nevertheless, he dropped me off and picked me up every day. I hope to one day meet someone who will love me like that again.

Last night, in Truckee I picked wild flowers from around our home, and took a Coors Light (this is what we drank in our 20’s) down to Lake Tahoe and sat with our dog Polly near where we sprinkled his ashes.

Then I drove back to our cabin and sat on the deck and watched the sun go down like I’ve done a thousand times before.

Peaceful. Grateful. Letting go.

Love and blessings to all.

Going It Alone

I’ve had a good deal of endings and many loses over the past 22 months. I often tell myself that it won’t last forever. This feeling of vulnerability, constant change and upheaval. I remind myself that the past always informs the future. I’ve had so many successes that my future will likely be full of the same.

At 22 I worked for the Senate, by 24 I ran my own ballot measure campaign, at 25 I was a Systems Analyst, at 26 I was a Product Manager in electronic banking, at 27 the Communications Manager for the Northwest, then a Channel Manager in mobile, a Marketing Director in software, and had a successful consulting career South of Market in tech working for four start ups.

I married the man of my dreams and bought my first home before thirty. I had two beautiful daughters. My paintings have hung in galleries and I’ve written three books.

That was my past. A beautiful past. The future is now undetermined, and I bring to it my hard won experience, talent and determination.

The past always informs the future, and I’m planning on it being even better than I can imagine.

Love and blessings to all.

The Side Hustle

At a recent investor pitch meeting, the speaker mentioned her side hustle. I hadn’t heard this term before, but every entrepreneur from Henry Ford to Steve Jobs had a side hustle on their way to success. Later at the reception I found many entrepreneurs have side hustles. These are typically wildly different from the main hustle.

As the English say, “a change is as good as a rest.”

On my way home I thought about this a great deal as I’ve many expensive and frustrating experiences with my main hustle (Ocean SF). I felt intuitively that I needed to stop what I was doing and find a side hustle. I needed a change of scenery and I needed new people in my life. And I wanted that right away.

The next day, I started looking for a side gig. I spend a lot of time behind a computer, so I needed something where I could meet new people and not have to sit at a desk. I saw an advertisement for the family run Treasure Island Festival and applied. Later, I learned my boss picked only two names out of a list of hundreds. Four days later I was on Treasure Island with my new boss surrounded by amazing food, music and art.

I enjoy young people and am used to them from my ski instructor and sailing experiences, but nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead. I met so many artist and entrepreneurs and was offered half a dozen other jobs. As it turns out I was good at directing traffic and telling people what to do. I even had a two way radio.

My Treasure Island job was the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and it helped me find my second side gig which has been amazingly enjoyable as well, and has given me great insight into some of my most pressing Ocean SF production issues.

I’ve already made new friends and have a steady stream of lucrative work when I need money or a distraction from my own often stressful main hustle.

It’s important to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Meeting new people and sharing new experiences is good for the soul.

I also think there is a little luck involved and as everyone knows, I pray every morning, and am often blessed in unusual ways. In no way has this been more true than now.

Love and blessings to all.

Attitude of Gratitude

2014

I can see the future I would like to have, but I still have a ways to go. Someday, I will have a calm secure life that is predictable. For example, I will not be raising teenage girls forever. There will come a time when I have socks in my drawer and my jeans will all be neatly folded on my shelf and not at my daughters friend’s house. My boots will be in my closet not under the bed in the guest room. My cars will be clean, and full of gas without dents or torn off fenders. But, most importantly I will have a hairbrush as this is one necessity that continually disappears.

I’ve been told I will miss these things and more, so I am enjoying the company of my children now and am looking toward to a shared summer together. We truly never know what the future holds, so I will keep my daughters close and share my things, and my heart, and my time.

As so many things have changed and not necessarily for the better, it’s important to be grateful for what we do have. I have a two page list of the top 8 things I’m grateful for and I try to read it everyday and then keep a daily list of small things that I am thankful for like the lilacs and roses from my garden that sit on my desk, or the penny I found yesterday with the year of my husband’s death as this reminds me that he is no longer here, but I am.

In 2014 when I started to think about my life beyond being a full time wife and mother I bought a hard bound book and started pasting in pictures of what I wanted for my future. Looking back, much of it has come to fruition. Especially, the no more boring text (above). As my life has been anything but boring for some time now.

I also have a larger vision board. These are more temporary. In January I wanted to cook more and eat healthy so my vision board was full of recipes and farm fresh produce.

All of these tools have helped me to live in gratitude for what I do have and for what is working while also envisioning the happy future I know I will one day have.

In January 2016, I had no idea how out of my comfort zone I would be. I certainly had to reinvent myself. As they say, be careful what you wish for…

Love and blessings to all.

Misnamed & Names As Colors

When I was a young girl I would occasionally meet someone and think they were misnamed. Their name didn’t suit them, and it would be hard to remember, or the opposite; some people were perfectly named, like my childhood friends; Hilary, Rosalee, Misty and Holly.  I also saw names as colors. Emily was decidedly blue, Sydney was red.  Paris, my daughter, is the perfect light parfait pink.  My mother Joan was green.

Recently, I’ve met a Nick and a Jen. These are yellow names.  And the people are not.  They are more light blue or green.

When I was pregnant I met a woman who told me her daughter, Amanda had chosen the name. She came to a red light and hit the brakes and knew that was the right name for her unborn child. I felt the same with Paris. We had a short list of names we liked: Lauren, Madison and Isabell. One day, I told my husband we should just name her Paris if we were thinking of a city name. He agreed and that was it. It was perfect for her and she has loved it. We often call her Pari, or Pari Ann, or even just P.T.  When we named Siena it was a giant challenge as Paris was a tough act to follow. I was sitting in an investor meeting at work one day and the investors had just returned from Siena, Italy.  I told my husband, and then he added the middle name Annalise. Annalise was our neighbor when I was a tiny girl living on the Air Force base. She was the most stunning nordic beauty you could ever imagine with light blond hair in a french twist and tan skin. She was from Sweden and she was sweet as well as beautiful. I spent a good deal of time in her sand box with her kids. Annalise is periwinkle blue of course. And Siena is ruby red.

Color is a fascinating subject.  My daughter Siena was just at the Color Factory in San Francisco and said it was amazing.

I’ve wondered if anyone else sees names as colors?

Friends, Neighbors, Transformation & Easter

It’s been a time of transformation for me. My life looks nothing like it did two years ago. It’s not been easy, and I’ll admit that although I was surrounded by love, I was crying in my room on Easter Sunday morning.

Luckily, I have a sweet daughter and we sat together and I explained that I simply could not believe my life had turned out the way it did. I love Easter. I love having an Easter egg hunt, going to church, and cooking. I love hosting the holidays and making everything beautiful and special for everyone.

My daughter assured me that I have so many people who love me, and she’s right. I also have more wonderful friends than anyone deserves to have. So, my girl and I put on our dresses and went to brunch with friends where we had a wonderful time, then we came home and changed clothes and then went to a stunningly beautiful and elegant dinner at the home of our neighbors. In the end, it turned out to be one of the happiest and most memorable holidays I’ve ever experienced.

Last weekend, I was at a BBQ with my other neighbors and they told me that they watch over me. I never really doubted this, but it was nice to hear. Later, that night my house alarm went off at 2:30 a.m. and I wasn’t even scared. I was only inconvenienced to find my backdoor unlocked and blown open by the wind. That is how safe I feel. I know it is a blessed and lucky thing to feel this safely held in the network of people who surround and support me.

Today, I attended a women in business function followed by lunch with two of my favorite people. We ate our lobster salads and sipped our green tea on a rainy afternoon in Danville, California. We talked about our thriving careers and kids, and all of our exciting plans for our shared futures. It was inspiring to be surrounded by other entrepreneurs who are fearlessly living their passion and dreams.

I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life; married, safe and secure. Life had other plans for me. Life expected me to live up to my potential. The circumstances required that I step up in a big way. I’m so much more now than I ever dreamed I could be. Life is the master teacher clearly, and we either strengthen and rise, or we don’t. Now, I think of myself as nothing less than a warrior and nothing scares me, not even an intrusion alarm in the middle of the night.

Love and blessings to all.

Happiness Is A Choice

It’s been a busy few weeks, but finally I am home again in the evenings with my kids and pets. I’m excited about the terrific team we have built in Los Angeles for Ocean SF where our clothing is produced.  We’ve made eight prototypes of our signature jacket. It takes time to do things well, but it is paying off as we are now making some truly beautiful things.

My daughters have been busy too, and we are often more like ships passing then a family, but we are very close and throughout the day I am in contact with one or the other of them every few hours. I think our love for each other has continued to deepen and I am thankful for the close and loving bond that we share with each other. One of the positives of hardship is this type of closeness that is forged through difficulty. I doubt that anything could ever come between us.

Things are peaceful now like when the kids were little and we had predictable routines and the atmosphere was relaxed and enjoyable.

I walked my dog today, and Moraga is so full of beauty it is astonishing. I passed many happy people with their kids and dogs heading down to the park in the cool sunshine. I treasure my neighborhood and my neighbors. We had a wonderful Easter brunch with friends we met when my younger daughter played soccer a dozen years ago, and then a beautiful dinner with our neighbors around the corner that we met when Polly was a puppy a decade ago.

When the girls are home there is laughter, and when they aren’t home there is a happy silence as I walk through the rooms of our home. Our dog Polly is back to sleeping on the white sofa when no one is looking, and even she looks happy again. I feel like I’ve finally stepped into the happy future I so longed for.

Happiness is a choice. You have to choose it and you have to fight for it.

Love and blessings to all.