Awakenings Happen Every Day

Each morning, we have an opportunity to do more than just wake up. We can truly awaken to reality.

Awakenings represent a shift in our perspective. Instead of choosing to live in denial and demanding that everything be as we want it to be, we choose to see everything as it is. We decide to embrace the truth no matter how beautiful or ugly it may be.

This type of honesty requires courage because we are actually asking ourselves to consider taking an action. Will we accept things as they are or will we find ourselves face to face with change?

I remember awakening to the understanding that I needed help with my depression and alcohol addiction. As far as awakenings go, it wasn’t a lovely moment. I felt as if I had no choice and was resigned to this humiliation in order to save myself. Fortunately perspectives can shift and, in time, mine shifted from one of humiliation to humility when I awoke to the fact that I’m an imperfect human being who occasionally needs help. This awakening was gratifying and well-received.

I like to think of the awakenings and realizations that I’ve experienced as spiritual moments – moments when I’m able to tap into my innermost self and speak honestly with her. If you’re experiencing or have experienced moments like this, hold yourself with compassion and patience. Give these awakenings time to grow and time to reveal themselves for what they truly are – the answers will come.


To realize that you are not your thoughts is when you begin to awaken spiritually.

~ Eckhart Tolle

Pay Attention When Awareness Knocks

You once told me
You wanted to find
Yourself in the world –
And I told you to
First apply within,
To discover the world
within you.

You once told me
You wanted to save
The world from all its wars –
And I told you to
First save yourself
From the world,
And all the wars
You put yourself

APPLY WITHIN by Suzy Kassem

This poem perfectly describes what I needed to do before I could help anyone else – I had to save myself first. I had to pay attention to the internal battles that were being waged within me for a very long time. I had to face the fact that I was not living a values-based life and that I was putting myself through a daily war – no one else was responsible – just me.

Believe me when I say I resisted mightily and, besides, I had my best friend, my best coping buddy, chardonnay, to help me convince myself that I could manage and solve all of my problems alone. This worked for a long time, until it just didn’t work anymore. That persistent knocking of awareness was no longer being drowned out.

I’ve yet to figure out why I chose to listen and why I chose to sit with awareness one day but I’ll always be grateful that I did. I chose to take a look at how inauthentically I had been living. I was completely out of alignment with my core values and that disconnect was causing me actual physical and psychic pain.

Those first inklings of awareness led me to sobriety and beyond to an emotional sobriety that is demonstrated by being successful in leading a values-based life. I know I slip up every now and then but when I do, I feel it and know what to do to get back on track.

I’ve developed a Values-Based Living Self-Assessment that can help you to see if you are living in alignment with your values and where you might be out of alignment. If you’re curious, check it out – it’s my gift to you. Pay attention when awareness knocks.

Let’s Talk about Shame

Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.

~ Brené Brown

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”

There are so many wonderful quotes available about shame that I could just devote this whole blog to that and avoid addressing the topic myself – but – because I am a Life Coach and because I’m not a dog, I’m going to dive into this meaningful topic.

I had no idea how shamed I felt and how the fear that I just wasn’t good enough and never would be influenced my life until I found myself sitting in a group of women at a treatment center for alcoholism and depression. We were telling our stories and I couldn’t deny the immense sense of relief I felt as I realized that these women understood me – they knew how I felt and no one said “shame on you” or gave me “the look” that says it all. It was the first time I could remember feeling as if it was OK to be imperfect and just a normal human being.

While I was in treatment, I read the book Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw and I was stunned as I read about myself and how I had been so wounded by toxic shame. With this realization, the healing began and as Brené Brown says, “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”

If you feel inherently flawed or defective and that somehow everything is your fault, as I used to feel, then you’re probably suffering from shame that has become toxic and dehumanizing. As John Bradshaw says, “Toxic shame is unbearable and always necessitates a cover-up, a false self. To be a false self is to cease being an authentic human being.”

The good news is that this state of being can be changed with help and intentional effort on your part. Here are some books that I can recommend as a starting place:

  1. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
  2. Guilt, Shame and Anxiety by Peter R. Breggin, MD
  3. Shame & Guilt, Masters of Disguise by Jane Middelton-Moz
  4. Conquering Shame and Codependency by Darlene Lancer
  5. Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw

If you believe that chronic and toxic shame has become a state of being for you and if you’d like to change this, contact me and we can talk.

Here’s my email address:

When I Look in the Mirror, Who Do I See?

Who Am I? This is a huge question that is difficult to answer because during any life, we find ourselves playing many different roles – one at a time or all at once. So the question of how I identify myself requires consideration, self-compassion and a willingness to hold my identities loosely.

My therapist makes lots of suggestions for me to consider but his one gave me pause – “Can you imagine identifying yourself from within rather than by something outside of yourself, like a job?” At that moment, my answer was “No” but I could see her point, sort of, maybe. I had just lost a job that really mattered to me and my grief was profound. The loss had nothing to do with me as a person or whether I was liked and respected and everything to do about necessary structural changes, but all I could feel was despair and that everything that identified me and my worth as a human being was being ripped away.

I’ve had many identities in my life – daughter, sister, student, wife, divorcé, grandmother, woman in recovery and life partner. I’m just now realizing, however, that I should add some more: wounded child; strong and resilient woman; multi-faceted, multi-skilled and talented individual. If I am able to embrace all of these different parts that are me – even the wounded parts, the old lingering ghosts – could I then have an unshakeable and authentic identity while everything changes around me? I think this is possible and I’m feeling filled with a clear vision of a real inner identity. I can’t wait to tell my therapist that I finally got it and that I finally understand her suggestion!

Everything changes in a lifetime and to have an authentic and self-loving identity that isn’t tied to the vicissitudes of time is possible and I’m filled with joy to be experiencing this realization right now and I’m going to go look in the nearest mirror and smile at what I see.

I wrote about emotional sobriety recently and over the last several weeks, and even now, as I’m writing, I feel a shift and a deepened understanding of what this means. I’m going to pat myself on the back now and say, “Good job, Megan!”


“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.”

~ Heath L. Buckmaster


My trip to Costa Rica left me feeling changed – expanded. Leaving my usual routines and allowing myself to go with the flow and just enjoy the beauty and the differences was the respite that I needed but it also opened a new door. Where this will lead me remains to be seen but I’m curious and ready to pay attention.

I’m home and snuggled back into all that is familiar. It was wonderful to see Patrick and Meg in their element and to see how they are creating and navigating their lives as an observer, offering a few words of wisdom when asked.

I feel changed somehow. An open and honest connection materialized and even though I’m Patrick’s mother, I’m now a peer – a fellow human being on a life’s journey. Deep struggles and truths were revealed and heard and now my role as both a mother and a fellow traveler is to be available, to explain what’s worked for me, to offer love, empathy and compassion and to continue living my own life with attention and purpose.

Here are a couple of photos from my trip –

Blessings on your journeys, Patrick and Meg.


“You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.”
― Mandy Hale


I’m vaccinated and going to Costa Rica next week to visit my son Patrick and his girlfriend, Meg!

It’s been over a year of Covid isolation, with no travel and limited connection and when I got my second vaccination, I felt relieved and ready to step out. So here I am, stepping out in a big way. Of course, I’ll take all the necessary travel precautions but I’m excited to go.

Twenty-six years ago, when my boys were in the 8th and 6th grades, we moved to Costa Rica for a year. We lived in Moravia which is a Costa Rican neighborhood in San Jose and Patrick and Ian went to the Costa Rica Academy. During that year we traveled around Costa Rica extensively and it turned out to be an amazing adventure.

I have to admit that before we decided to make this move, I was very resistant and absolutely afraid to do something this big. I finally relented and agreed to the move for a variety of reasons and I’ll always be grateful to my former husband for his pestering.

I learned Spanish that year and so much more – I learned that my fear wouldn’t kill me and that I could be afraid but move through it, broaden my horizons and grow. I learned that not everything is about me. Our time in Costa Rica allowed my sons to grow and expand as well, although they did put up quite a fight about leaving Santa Barbara and their friends. My son, Patrick, concocted a ruse with his Santa Barbara friend, Brandon, and began feigning depression. He dyed his blond hair black, refused to smile and spent his days looking like a Goth. I went so far as to talk to the school’s principal about it and asked him to let me know if he thought it was serious. Patrick was busted the day I heard him on the phone with Brandon saying, “I think it’s working – my Mom believes I’m really depressed and it shouldn’t be too long before she’ll call it quits here and get me back to Santa Barbara.” When I walked into the room and saw my son, holding the phone, with his mouth agape, he knew the jig was up. After that, he relaxed and so did I.

We had a great year and our time in Costa Rica clearly had an impact on us all. Here’s my shameless plug for Patrick. He’s a professional photographer now as well as a world traveler. Currently, he is the owner of a beautiful property in Dominical and has a creative and amazing yurt on the site. If you click on the link you’ll see where I’ll be staying during my week visit.

I’m going to enjoy it all, I know, and I’m also going to spend time reflecting on all that I’m grateful for.

Until I return….


“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Winds of Change

I attended an online church service today, and heard these words, spoken and sung by the inspirational musician, Lea Morris: “The wind of change flows from the past, into the future, touching us in the present.” Lea spoke the wise words of Ekhart Tolle and really dove into the truism that we only have the present moment. She spoke of change using the metaphor of the wind – blowing in from the past, enveloping us in the present so we may have the opportunity to learn, to change and grow so as the wind flows into the future we have the chance to make our lives better.

Needless to say, I was deeply moved and impressed. I was hearing exactly what I needed to hear. I love it when I experience moments like this. I was open to hearing the words, I wasn’t in resistance or denial and was willing to accept that I’ve been too concerned about the future. I’ve been too worried about things turning out exactly as I’ve envisioned it and wanting everything to happen, right now!

You can believe me when I say that I’ve heard all of this before. I’ve heard this in 12-step meetings, in therapy, and in graduate school studying psychology. And, I believe these words. Yet, here I was realizing that I’d fallen back into old, worrisome thinking and seeing that I didn’t have enough faith that the outcome will be what it will be and may even be better than I imagined. And now, I’m doing best Doris Day impersonation, singing Qué Sera, Sera!

I’ve been hard at work for many years now, learning the lessons that I can’t change what’s happened and I can’t predict the future. I can only change my attitudes and my behavior in the present. I can only create new and healthy habits and mind-sets now, in an effort to make living amends for old hurts and to increase the chances that my future will be brighter and filled with purpose.

I know for a fact that I feel filled with purpose now but I was forgetting to, as Lea Morris said in her homily, “…experience joy in the doing.” Thank you, Lea!


People don’t realize that now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation in your mind.

~ Echart Tolle

I Can Fly My Kite Everyday

Flow is an attitude, a mind-set that allows you to feel as if you can fly your kite everyday, even when there is no wind.

I clearly remember when I attained the big milestone of 5 years of sobriety – I was irritated and unhappy – not because I had chosen sobriety – I actually loved having reached 5 years with no alcohol consumption – my unhappiness and irritation was because I realized that I still had much more work to do to shift the mind-sets that created feelings of being stuck and afraid of life’s challenges. The proverbial pink clouds were gone. I was definitely not in a state of flow.

Flow  is the state of mind in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. If life is the activity we’re talking about, then I wasn’t enjoying it or feeling energized. I had to take a hard look at the “whys” for this and discovered that I was was still being held hostage by some of the elements of codependency. I was struggling with the reality that I needed to create my own joy and couldn’t rely on others, like my adult children, to do that for me. This struggle and frustration created an impediment to my ability to be in a state of flow and emotional sobriety is the state of flow for those of us in recovery.

Being emotionally sober simply means that you are comfortable being present with all of your feelings without any one of them defining or controlling you to the point where relapse is possible. I had to accept the fact that I was afraid and disappointed but I also had to let go of my unrealistic expectations. I don’t know when I let go exactly but I know that I did because I could feel the release and it was the result of my willingness to pay attention, once again, wake up, ask for help and find enough courage to dive further into the work.

Flow is an attitude and when my life feels rocky, I have to look at myself first and do an inventory of my thoughts. A bit of house cleaning every now and then seems to work well and allows me to feel grounded and at peace. One important part of this process is that I don’t do it alone. I work with others who can see my blindspots and will tell me what they see. They listen, without judgment, and challenge me, lovingly, and wait for me to reach my own conclusions.

It’s been almost 9 years since my 5th year of sobriety and the good news is that I’m in that state of flow more often than not. As with anything worth doing, being in a state of emotional sobriety is a practice that allows me to be in gratitude, daily, and I wish this for you. If you’d like to learn more about me, I invite you to watch two short videos that I made where I tell my story of recovery and transformation. If you would like to talk, give me a call or send an email and I’ll look forward to the opportunity.


“Going with the flow is responding to cues from the universe. When you go with the flow, you’re surfing life force. It’s about wakeful trust and total collaboration with what’s showing up for you.”

~ Danielle LaPorte

Dive In!

Do you remember being at a public pool and diving off the highest diving board for the first time? If not this scenario, when have you ever had to spend a lot of time and work very hard to find the courage to finally take an action that seemed frightening at first? Sit with these memories for a while and notice how you feel.

Did you feel relieved, exhilarated, proud of yourself or still frightened, vowing to never do that again. Do you still feel this way or have you changed? Whatever you feel, honor it. Never say, “I shouldn’t feel this way.” Instead, ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way?”

If you’re like me, skiing down a bunny slope for the first time was an excruciating experience, not only for me but for my parents. My mother told me that she was at the bottom of the hill watching me as I was at the top of the hill, frozen in place, immobile, for what seemed like the longest time. I vaguely remember this moment and also remember finding enough courage to start down the slope. Somehow, I made it down the hill and went on to become a pretty good skier and an even better snowboarder! I managed to overcome my fear of literally falling on my face in front of others as I grew older.

It was a different story when it came to the actions that required me to stand up for myself. I had the hardest time saying “NO” when I should have and I worried incessantly about upsetting people and what others thought of me. I didn’t have a strong sense of self and my self-esteem was almost non-existent. This is where I needed to find the answers to the question, “why do I feel this way?”

I found the answers to this question and as a result of the work that I did, I found the courage to take the actions that were needed to change my life. This meant that I had to feel sure that what I was choosing to do was right for me and I had to be willing to upset a few people because I knew that certain people would be very upset. I had to be able to sit with the extreme discomfort of saying “YES” to myself and to a life worth living. When I took these actions, I felt relieved, exhilarated, liberated and proud of myself. I also had to practice sitting with this type of discomfort, over and over again, until I learned that the world wouldn’t end if I said “No” to you and “Yes” to myself.

Once we move into action, every step that follows gets easier and makes sense. If you’re wondering how I moved through the changes I made in my life, just watch these two videos. If this inspires you to find the courage to take the action you’ve been delaying for too long, congratulations! If you want to explore this with me don’t hesitate to reach out. Let’s talk.


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Find Courage to Invest in Yourself!

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”

~ Stephen Covey

What does it mean to invest in yourself?

  1. Investing in yourself means looking at yourself and determining that you are worth your own time.
  2. Investing in yourself means you are worth your money.
  3. Investing in yourself means you are worth your effort.
  4. Investing your time means that you engage in activities which are calculated to bring you meaningful rewards.

What questions do you need to ask yourself?

  1. What type of investments should I make? School? Exercise? Meditation? Therapy? Coaching? Financial Investments? Retreats? Vacations?
  2. How much do I value myself?
  3. What do I need?
  4. What do I want?
  5. Do I place everyone else and their needs first?
  6. Am I waiting until I have a certain amount of money in the bank before I invest in myself?
  7. Am I depressed?
  8. Am I confused about what steps to take or how to begin?

Investing in yourself creates more questions than answers but, in my experience, I found certain types of investments easier to make than others. It was easy for me to invest in things that benefitted me outwardly and physically such as tennis lessons or yoga classes. Even investing time for a free adult-ed class on financial planning was an easy decision to make.

It was harder for me, though, to invest in the things that would help me emotionally and spiritually because I was too afraid to look at myself that deeply. I didn’t want to go there because, truthfully, I didn’t value myself at all. I didn’t feel I was worth this effort because I felt fundamentally flawed and believed no amount of effort could help me. My fear of being shamed was too powerful.

This changed for me when I chose to become a sober woman. I made a decision to value myself. I decided to change my destiny from one of loneliness and despair to a destiny of love and purpose. This took courage. I had to tell the truth to doctors, therapists, people in 12-step groups and, most lately, a coach. I chose to invest in myself by getting honest and by changing the things I could change, accepting the things I couldn’t change at all, leaving an environment that was dangerous for me, going back to school to increase my skills as well as pursuing a post-graduate degree.

As Stephen Covey said in the quote above, “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” And, this has been true for me. Self-growth is hard, emotional, tender and challenging work but work that has been well worth it. I love that he says, “it’s holy ground.” It’s holy because we are spiritual beings in a human existence that can often resemble a mine-field. When you find the courage to invest in yourself, don’t do it alone. Find people who have walked the same path and people who are professionals because you are worth it. If you’ve found enough courage to invest in yourself, call me. I’m ready to listen. I’m ready to help.


The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage.

~ Thucydides

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