Category “love & relationships”

How to Best Comfort Someone Who’s Grieving

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” ~Vivian Greene

Compassion is one of humanity’s greatest gifts. During times of suffering, such as following the death of a loved one, sufferers rely on the empathy of others to survive their ordeal. Yet, too often when someone is grieving, we do little more than offer an “I am sorry for your loss” because we are fearful of accidentally increasing their pain.

Speaking as someone who lost her husband unexpectedly after just over three years of marriage—and who has counseled many people …

Strong and Vulnerable: How I Learned to Let People In

“Vulnerability is hard. And it’s scary, and it feels dangerous. But it’s not as hard, scary, or dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and having to ask ourselves, ’What if I would have shown up?’” ~Brené Brown

January – 2012

I remember sitting in a small, dark room waiting for the surgeon to arrive.

My son had just had major surgery to treat a complex condition that had cost him his small bowel, and it had taken much longer than expected.

My stomach felt tense as the surgeon sat in the chair opposite us.

He looked at …

3 Ways My Anxiety Has Helped Me Love Better

“Quiet people have the loudest minds.” ~Dr. Stephen Hawking

I have wonderful family and friends and have always hoped that I would pass along a helpful legacy. Lessons for them to remember, memories to smile about, and love to lean into during hard times. For years, though, it seemed like the biggest thing I was passing down to my exhausted wife, flustered and at times terrified kids, and friends was my struggles with anxiety.

As my anxiety grew and the panic attacks came, I grew apart from those I needed the most. Hard for a son and wife to connect …

Healing From the Painful Cycle of Loss and Abandonment

“You have not been abandoned. You are never alone, except by your own choice.” ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Loss is never an easy experience. However, it is a part of life, so we need to accept it and find ways to cope with it in order to keep moving forward.

Whether someone dies or chooses to end a relationship, loss hurts and can leave us feeling abandoned and potentially leave deep wounds and scars.

I recently read something that suggested abandonment is a type of trauma, and it can cause symptoms similar to PTSD when the abandonment issues from our …

What I Now Know About Rejection and How It’s Set Me Free

“If someone does not want me, it is not the end of the world. But if I do not want me, the world is nothing but endings.” ~Nayyirah Waheed

Rejection means a lot of things to a lot of different people. To healthcare professionals, it may mean immunological incompatibility, a body not accepting a transplanted tissue or organ. To a couple that wants to adopt, a rejection letter can be discouraging and devastating news. To a writer, rejection can come in the form of submitting your precious work that you slaved over to a publisher and being told it didn’t …

What You Need to Do If You Feel Insecure in Relationships

“The key is in learning how to live a healthy, satisfying, and serene life without being dependent on another person for happiness.” ~Robin Norwood

When it comes to relationships, people can call you “crazy” and “needy” all they want. I can only guess some people don’t know how crazy it feels when every cell in your body feels like the only way to breathe is to stop this person you desire from abandoning you right now.

You may not realize it as the emotions hijack your mind and body, but unconsciously, you only have one job in that moment—to …

How to Get Through Hard Times Without Hurting People We Love

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

Just the other day, I had one of those moments with my husband, and not the kind of moment they write about in romance novels.

The world has been so different these last several months, and so many are feeling the effects of months of struggle, uncertainty, frustration, and limitations.

I consider myself to be someone who works to see the positive, finds the silver living in situations, and believes in the best of people, and that things can and will always get better. But lately, that has …

What We Need to Grow and How It Can Happen in Just One Day

“People grow when they are loved well. If you want to help others heal, love them without an agenda.” ~Mike McHargue

I learned some of my biggest life lessons in grade 5.

I was an average student leaning to below average in my early elementary years. I came home with a steady flow of B’s, C’s and the occasional E’s in second language subjects. I was told that I wasn’t applying myself and, as every report card I ever brought home clearly stated, I talked too much.

At least that was the narrative as I came to understand it.

I …

How to Tell If Your Relationship is Codependent (and What to Do About It)

“Love rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness.” ~ Esther Perel

Healthy relationships require a delicate balance of intimacy and autonomy, giving and receiving, self and other.

As we struggle to walk this delicate tightrope, we might feel less like graceful acrobats and more like pendulums swaying recklessly from side to side. As I reflect on my own romantic journey, I notice a trend: I got very close to past partners, losing myself in them entirely, and then emerged from the codependent haze terrified and self-abandoned.

“Never again!” I …

The Power of Compassion: How to Make Do in an Unfair World

“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.” ~Nelson Mandela

Ever thought, “Life is so unfair!”

Is it, really?

Has life given you circumstances that keep you in a deep, dark hole of disadvantages that seem impossible to clamber out of?

Has life decided that you need to live in abject poverty and watch everyone in your life suffer from being denied everything a human needs to be human?

Has life put you in a position where you wouldn’t dare …

Dear Childhood Friends, Thank You and I Miss You

“Sweet is the memory of distant friends. Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart.” ~Washington Irving

Why is it that the older we seem to get the more and more we miss friendships from days long past?

You know the ones…

The friendships where you felt 100% happiness being in their presence.

Where you felt as if you could be your true self—goofy, silly, honest, and real.

Where you would get lost in conversations, imagination, and being fully present in the moment.

Where you went on adventures, told them your …

How to Create a Healthy and Lasting Romantic Relationship

“You cannot create a conscious relationship with someone who isn’t committed to doing their work. But you can create a better relationship with yourself, and sometimes that looks like releasing yourself from the idea that you can change another person or convince them to grow. Choose yourself.” ~Sheleana Aiyana

What are the ingredients that make a loving romantic relationship flow and sustain for many years? And what kind of love/relationship is best for long-term success?

These questions have been at the core of my pursuits personally and professionally for some years now, and let’s face it, these questions are at …

How I Stopped Blaming My Ex for Our Painful Relationship

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” ~Lewis B. Smedes

When it came to my ex-girlfriend, I had difficulty letting go.

She was a girl I’d had a big crush on for a couple of years. Funnily enough, once my crush on her began to fade, she suddenly started taking a liking to me and made it known that she was into me through our mutual friends.

I had my doubts about our compatibility from the start. We hardly shared any common interests, and I found it hard to connect with …

How to Rebuild Your Self-Worth After Your Breakup


“Self-love, self-respect, self-worth: There’s a reason they all start with ‘self.’ You can’t find them in anyone else.” ~Unknown

After my divorce, I felt like I was the most terrible person in the world.

I had zero self-worth, zero confidence, and zero belief in myself

If you’re going through a breakup or divorce now, your self-worth may suffer too. You might feel worthless. You might feel value-less. You might feel like a failure.

Think about it. The person who loved you, who wanted you, who fell in love with you is now rejecting you.

If you’ve been together for a …

How to Love a Lying, Cheating Heart

Brett’s name flits onto my screen with an incoming email.

“Call you right back,” I say, hanging up on a friend.

Last time I talked to Brett, the Obama family lived in the White House. Last time I thought of him? Last year, as Melania took her third crack at presidential Christmas décor, and I failed to muster enough spirit to fetch our pre-lit tree from the garage.

Brett’s message came in through the contact form on my website. He invited me to meet for coffee; full respect if I decline.

Four years ago, it was me who reached out …

How to Heal from Gaslighting and Stop Hurting Yourself

“Gaslighting by parents can extend way into adulthood, but it may have particularly harmed you during your childhood. Children need to learn to trust themselves, and when they’re taught that what they see, hear, or feel isn’t real, that can lead to a lifetime of self-doubt.” ~Suzannah Weiss

Some of us grew up in families where our feelings and what we were experiencing were denied or pushed aside, what some people call “gaslighting.”

What is that? When someone—often our caregivers/parents—sows seeds of doubt in our minds that make us question our own sense of personal truth and reality.…

It’s Time to Stop ‘Fixing’ (Because They Need the Struggle)

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ~Maya Angelou

I have always been a “fixer.”

I liked to fix people’s problems.

Someone feeling down and out? Let me fix it by trying to take away their pain.

Someone on the wrong life path? Let me fix it to get you back on track.

Someone I love making unhealthy life decisions? Let me fix it so they can be happier.

‘Fixing’ people made me feel good.

It made me feel needed and purposeful.

It made me …

How to Say No Without Feeling the Need to Make Excuses

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” ~Brené Brown

Saying no is difficult for me. Whether it be to a loved one or a stranger, work tasks or a new hobby, something I enjoy or despise, saying no just plain sucks. So instead I say yes. I say yes to everyone and everything until I’m left exhausted, depleted, and with nothing left to give.

When COVID quarantine kicked-in I was forced to clear my calendar. Appointments, gatherings, travel plans—all cancelled. Instead of feeling disappointed, I began to feel …

How to Enjoy Social Media and Stop Comparing Your Life to Others

“You never know what someone is going through. Be kind, always.” ~Unknown

A few months back I was at the park and passed a family taking what looked like holiday photos.

The mom’s hair was perfectly coifed, dad was nicely shaven and looking quite dapper, and four kids stood smiling between them—all wearing matching khaki and surprisingly clean white shirts.

I watched the khaki family out of the corner of my eye as I pushed a stroller along the gravel trail, thinking of what their holiday post might say as my baby yodeled her displeasure at facing the sun.

“Kayden …

How To Set Boundaries With Your Racist Relatives

As the Black Lives Matter movement gains traction across the nation and the world, many of us are being called to use the skills we’ve learned to improve ourselves⁠—such as speaking our truth, setting boundaries, and breaking the people-pleasing pattern⁠—to improve our communities, our countries, and our world.

Those of us who are allies are conveniently positioned to have conversations about racial justice with our family members, friends, and coworkers. However, historically, many of us have balked at these conversations out of fear of our own awkwardness, others’ anger, or the possibility of creating rifts in relationships.

In …