Category “love & relationships”

One Question I Ask Myself Monthly Since Coming to Terms with Death

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live.” ~Norman Cousins

On September 23, 2015, Loukas Angelo was walking to his after-school strength and conditioning class just a few hundred yards from Archbishop Mitty High School.

He was approaching the outdoor basketball courts when he ran out into the street and was struck by a car traveling around thirty miles per hour. The impact sent Loukas flying down the street, and he was immediately transported to the closest hospital where he remained in critical condition.

I remember sitting on …

Why I Couldn’t Find Love and What Helped Me (That Might Help You Too)

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start from where you are and change the end.” ~C.S. Lewis 

It was a dark January day in 2008 when my auntie called with the news “He did it.”

I felt so confused. “Did he try? Or did he succeed?” I asked as my body moved into shock.

“He succeeded,” she said. And in that moment my whole life changed.

This was a moment I often wished for—my dad was gone.

Dad had taken his life on January 8th, 2008, two days after my twenty-sixth birthday. He

The Vault in Our Hearts: How I’m Learning to Fill It with My Own Love

“If you don’t love yourself, you’ll always be looking for someone else to fill the void inside you, but no one will ever be able to do it.” ~Lori Deschene

This year I have fallen in and out of love. Not once, not twice, but three times.

Firstly, I fell deeply into being held, being heard, and being supported. For the first time, in a long time, I understood what it meant to be loved.

Secondly, I flew quickly into a spontaneous soul, who lit up my world and reminded me who I was.

Thirdly, I surrendered earth-shatteringly into …

Honoring Lost Loved Ones: How I Carry My Son’s Memory into the Future

“Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future.” ~Mattie Stepanek

I stood over a pile of my son’s t-shirts, scissors in hand, my breath ragged. I reached for a plain, dark blue one that I didn’t remember Brendan ever wearing. My fingers trembled. The first cut would be the hardest.

I’d packed away his shirts eight years ago, within weeks after he’d died. He was only fifteen—an unbearable loss. I’d spent days washing and drying and folding his shirts …

How Beating Cancer Helped Me Stop Being a People-Pleaser

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” ~Pema Chadron

The hardest part of hearing the words, “I’m sorry, but you have cancer” at the age of thirty was knowing I had to tell my mother and my husband.


Not because I was afraid of their reaction, although it would be especially heightened since my father had died of cancer three years prior, but because I was going to take on a role I had never experienced before: a patient.

For me, being a patient equaled being dependent. Someone who was needy and …

What Kept Me Stuck on My Ex and How I’m Breaking the Addiction

“When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch you.” ~Unknown

I might be addicted to feeling good. I’m no stranger to pleasure, and I want what I want unapologetically. But there’s a conflict that arises when one of the things I want is distracting me from having an even bigger thing I want.

My story is so common, it’s almost cliché.

Man and woman meet on Tinder. They are both vague enough about what they want that they dive in without really knowing where it will go. They develop trust, intimacy, …

How I Stopped Arguing with People in My Head and Cultivated Calm

“Thoughts fuel emotions. If you don’t like what you’re feeling, step back and examine what you’re thinking. Pain is inevitable, but you’ll suffer a lot less if you disengage from your thoughts.” ~Lori Deschene

The warm droplets from the shower are bouncing off my skin. I could be relishing in the warmth. I could be exhilarated by the cleansing power of this precious water.

Instead, I am entranced by an argument.

I’m animated and tense. Gesticulating wildly and frowning.

In the shower.

There’s no one else there. I’m not shouting or even speaking out loud. This is all happening in …

How to Cope with a Toxic and Estranged Family Relationship

“Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be.” ~Unknown

You two are family. Maybe you grew up with them and were by their side for a huge chunk of their life. There was a lot of laughing, crying, and sharing. Some fighting too.

You know how their brain works probably better than anyone else. But sometimes, in adulthood, those closest to you can become unrecognizable—estranged, cold, and careless. For no apparent reason, you find yourself shut out of their life. Your peace-feelers are increasingly rejected. You’ve been left out in the cold.…

Why Highly Sensitive People Make Amazing Life Partners

“Our relationships are a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves.” ~Iyanla Vanzant

Looking back at my life I see that all of my romantic relationships up until now suffered because I didn’t recognize or value my sensitivity.

For much of my life I thought there was something wrong with me. I was too quiet, too shy, not interesting enough in group settings, too easily hurt, too easily overwhelmed and stressed. I judged myself for being irritable when I didn’t feel rested. I was easily bored with surface conversation and craved deep intimacy, but thought maybe that was …

The Grief We Can’t Run from and Why We Should Embrace It

“I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Grief creeps up on you when you least expect it. It reminds you of the person you have lost when you’re out for coffee with friends, watching people hug their loved ones goodbye at the airport, and when you’re at home thinking about people you should call to check-in on.

Even when you think that enough time has passed for you to be over it, grief pulls at your heartstrings. You think about all the ways that life …

Afraid of What People Think? Free Yourself by Realizing How Unimportant You Are

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

It’s natural to think that we’re always in the spotlight.

We think that people care about the way we dress, but they don’t.

We think that people notice our nervous habits, when in reality, they’re worried about whether people are noticing their own.

We tend to go through life as if our every move is being watched, judged, and evaluated on a moment-to-moment basis by the people around us. Here’s a reality check—you’re not that important.

I don’t mean that …

What It Really Means to Be There and “Hold Space” for Someone Else

“A healer does not heal you. A healer is someone who holds space for you while you awaken your inner healer, so that you may heal yourself.” ~Maryam Hasnaa

I was sobbing quite hysterically, huddled into myself sitting on the kitchen floor.

It literally felt like my life was falling apart. And so was I.

I had been striving so hard to start a meaningful business that would change the world and help others, as well as heal myself from intense ongoing physical symptoms. But it seemed the harder I tried, the less things worked.

My head bobbed slightly …

Why It’s Not Your Fault You’re in a Toxic Relationship

I remember the first time it dawned on me that I was in an unhealthy relationship. Not just one that was difficult and annoying but one that could actually be described as “toxic.”

It was at a training event for a sexual abuse charity I worked for. I immediately felt like a fraud!

How could I be working there, helping other women get out of their unhealthy relationships and process their pain and trauma, but not realize how unhealthy my own relationship was?

How did I not know?

Typically, as I had always done, I beat myself up over …

The One Simple Decision That Freed Me from Social Anxiety

“I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ~Nelson Mandela

A few years ago, I attended what most people with social anxiety would call a nightmare event—a wedding.

Although I was surrounded by familiar faces because it was my cousin’s wedding, I was also surrounded by dozens of people I didn’t know.

It really was a tremendous weekend looking back. I got to enjoy a wonderful round of golf at a beautiful course with my family. …

Life is Fragile: Love Like Today Could Be Your Last

“I would argue that nothing gives life more purpose than the realization that every moment of consciousness is a precious and fragile gift.” ~Steven Pinker

He was splayed out in the middle of the road. The paramedics had yet to arrive. That was the scene on our way to meet some friends.

Over dinner, they relayed the tragic story of their neighbor’s twenty-something son who was killed recently in a motorcycle accident.

Two others lost their lives in an instant on a nearby suburban road.

An acquaintance told me about the fatal hiking accident of a young man who was

How to Stop Rescuing Other People to Feel Good About Yourself

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” ~Jack Kornfield

It seemed like the natural thing to do.

A middle-aged man had dropped his keys near me. I jumped up, hopped over, picked the keys up, and gave them back to him.

Not so unusual, except I had a badly twisted ankle after slipping on a walking holiday and needed to rest it while the pain and swelling went down. I struggled back to my seat, wincing.

It was a small incident but symbolic of my rescuing, codependent instinctive habits at the time. If something needed doing, I …

What’s Really Important: 3 Things I Realized When I Lost My Grandmother

“We forget what we want to remember and remember what we want to forget.” ~The Road

“Okay grandma, we’re going to run away!” I wheeled my grandma Jeanne in her wheelchair into the sunlight, through the courtyard, after we exited her nursing home. She knew though that she couldn’t leave, but she went along with the game. She knew she was stuck there. But we had fun with it, nonetheless.

I really did want to run away with her. I’d had a dream the night before that she told me, “I’m at the end of my life. You will be …

Why Strong Chemistry Doesn’t Always Lead to a Strong Relationship

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” ~C.G. Jung 

Everyone says it. They say chemistry is a must. I know I say it. But why do we say this?  What exactly is chemistry, and is it really the best indicator of a good partner?

The man I had the most chemistry with (we’ll call him Tim) treated me like an option and was never particularly concerned with my needs, desires, or feelings.

I remember the day I met him, and he opened the door and flashed …

Toxic Help: 3 Signs Your Support Is Doing More Harm Than Good

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ~John Holmes

As someone who people often come to seeking help or advice, I recently encountered a new situation for me: one in which I chose to stop helping someone and walk away entirely because I determined it wasn’t good—for the other person or myself.

It felt like the wrong thing to do, but once I had some distance, I knew I had made the right decision. Throughout the helping, I soldiered on and helped and helped and helped until it no longer felt good, …

4 Things I Learned from Being Possessive and Controlling in a Relationship

As she stood there watching the puppet show, our eyes locked. I was instantly attracted.

After what felt like the longest fifteen minutes torn between the desire to talk to her and the fear of rejection, I mustered the courage to introduce myself.

She gave me a smile, then without saying a word, walked away.

“What just happened? How can such a beautiful lady be so rude?” I stood there in disbelief, overtaken by embarrassment, pretending nothing had happened.

Two weeks later, as if by pure serendipity, a mutual friend reconnected us. That was the beginning of a relationship I …