Packing List for Life’s Journey

Packing List for Life’s Journey

Packing List for Life’s Journey

I’ve always resonated with the idea of life being a journey.  A journey is defined as an act of traveling from one place to another.  I see life as a journey across time.  Over time, I’ve been able to experience different aspects of myself and the world in which I live.  It’s been quite a journey and the exciting part is that there is so much to discover and uncover about myself still ahead of me.

Every seasoned traveler knows that packing appropriately can make a big difference to your experience.  If you forget to pack your gloves on your ski trip, you are either going to need to buy some or you are going to be pretty miserable.

This got me thinking about a packing list for life’s journey.  This packing list is modeled after the 10 guideposts to wholehearted living found in the book The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brené Brown.  I hope you find it as helpful as I have 🙂

  1. Bring authenticity – Be truly yourself, practice being vulnerable. Let yourself really be seen. Leave behind the masks and armor you have accumulated over the years. They will just weigh your life down.
  2. Bring compassion, both for yourself and those you encounter on your journey, leave behind perfectionism…there is no such thing as a perfect life, only perfectly imperfect ones.
  3. Bring a resilient spirit…when you find yourself in an unexpected rain storm, believe that you have what it takes to make it through. Seek the shelter of help if needed. Leave behind numbing and powerlessness as those behaviors and thoughts can leave you feeling lost and hopeless.
  4. Bring gratitude and joy…look for the good in life. Speak words of appreciation to yourself and others on a daily basis.  Leave behind scarcity and fear of the dark…you are worthy of love and belonging.  You are enough.  Remember that!
  5. Bring intuition and faith, leave behind the need for certainty…You are never going to be able to predict all the unexpected surprises that you will undoubtedly encounter along the way. Trust that divine intervention is with you always, guiding you even when you don’t realize it.
  6. Bring creativity – the life you design together will be uniquely yours. Leave behind comparison…Instead of comparing your life to others’, ask the question, “Is this working for me?”  If the answer is yes…great.  If the answer is no…be creative and try something different.
  7. Bring along play and rest while leaving behind exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth …Do things that rejuvenate you and refills your tank. When you are tired, rest.  Remember, it doesn’t matter how fast you go.  Enjoy the moments and go at your own pace.
  8. Bring calm and stillness, leave behind anxiety as a lifestyle…some of the most memorable experiences will be those born out of not having an agenda. They will come in the quiet stillness of just looking up at the stars.  Anxiety will undoubtedly show up at different times during your journey, learn from it and move on, but please don’t pack it.
  9. Bring meaningful work…something that leaves you feeling accomplished and feeling like your life has purpose. This may or may not be what we do for employment.  Do not pack self-doubt and “supposed to’s”…practice trusting yourself and learning to say no to things that are not moving you toward your best self and your best life.
  10. Bring laughter, song and dance, and leave behind being cool and always in control. Please pack your sense of humor and a willingness to be silly and not take yourself too seriously while leaving behind a need to always be right.

This packing list is something I need to revisit on a regular basis.  I hope you find it as useful as I have as you navigate your way through life. Is there anything else that you think is important to pack or to leave home?  I’d love to read what you have to say!


Today’s author: Laura Hall, CPC, CDWF: As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator has been helping people just like you make changes in. As a mother of 2 girls, Laura has a special interest in coaching parents, so if you still have children living at home, ask Laura about her Wholehearted Parenting programs. Laura can be reached via email at or feel free to visit her website

Growing Up in Germany

Growing Up in Germany

Growing Up in Germany

How painting and creativity can help with a child’s development.

My son Pieter and my daughter Fiona both had the privilege of growing up in Germany and attending German schools until they were 14 and 12 and we relocated to the US. It was a bit of a culture shock, more for Fiona than for Pieter, but she survived too. Change can be a challenge.

I’m glad that they grew up in Germany. The Germans love their traditions, and have a rich culture of all things arts and crafts, often linked to the holidays. And they have quite a few of those, between 9 and 13 public holidays, depending on which part of the country you live in.

Creativity has to be stimulated and nurtured. German crafting stimulates creativity and creates a cultural experience for kids of all ages with benefits for the rest of their lives. Many old German traditions still thrive today, lovingly preserved by artisanal craftsmen and small producers, and passed on from generation to generation. Traditions like these often blur the distinction between art and craft. As you watch traditional craftsmen at work, you’ll be amazed at how modern old skills can be. Germans also have an appreciation for natural materials, which is another thing I love.

“Basteln” (making, handcrafting, tinkering) is a national pastime with deep roots in history. It encompasses creative crafting in all its aspects. Around the holidays there are specific art projects in schools, at home with friends, family, and in the community at large. Creativity is a big part of growing up and has many benefits, from stimulating the imagination to making fond memories, and bonding with family and friends. The Germans never let an opportunity to be creative pass by.

So Pieter and Fiona grew up with creativity all around and it’s safe to say that they are still benefiting from it today in their work and private lives. They are both hardworking, successful adults enjoying life to the fullest, good decision makers, open minded, and innovative. Pieter a chemical engineer, now 32, holds a management position at a chemical company, and has a patent to his name (creativity at work). He still bakes and decorates yummy butter cookies for Advent and is totally comfortable with his creative side. A few years back, his wife Heidi invited her girlfriends over for a breast cancer fundraiser carving and decorating pumpkins with pink ribbons and lace. She was surprised to find Pieter sitting at the table happily joining in. Fiona, 30 years old now, is a dentist, just bought her own practice in Baltimore, married to Hilton, an artist (!), and uses creativity in her work as well as at home. She’s an avid knitter, makes macramé plant hangers, and loves to cook and decorate.

So what are the main benefits of let’s say painting for the development of (young) children? Painting allows children to express their creativity freely while having fun doing it. It develops eye-hand communication by strengthening the hand and fingers, helping with fine motor skills. Using the hand muscles allows them to develop both mentally and physically. They learn to think with an open mind, to look at situations creatively. They learn to express themselves more deeply, visually and verbally, as words often lack to describe feelings accurately. They learn to make their own decisions about what works and what doesn’t, developing critical thinking skills. They learn that it’s fun to paint with other children, bonding with their parents, esteem building and stress relieving. It also gives children a life-long appreciation of art.

It helps with brain development. The right side of the brain is mainly used for emotional and creative responses, while the left side focuses on analytical processes and logic. Learning to paint benefits children by using both sides of their brain. Painting helps to make the connection between both sides, which is how we reach our full potential.

Of all the German traditions, St. Martin’s Day on November 11 is by far my favorite. It’s a religious observance that’s particularly popular with children. It’s dedicated to St. Martin of Tours and celebrates modesty and altruism, both values commonly associated with Saints.

On the evening of St. Martin’s Day, there are lantern processions in towns and cities all over Germany. The creative part is that all elementary school age kids make lanterns in school. The teacher comes up with a design for the students to build in class. There is also a prize for the class with the most beautiful lantern. It takes students weeks to build them. You can imagine a 6-year-old making an intricate lantern out of black and colored transparent paper or wire and glue. It takes patience and resolve. They’re all so proud of their work of art. Sad to say that some of them will go up in flames during the procession. The smart parents have a spare store-bought one in their bag in case that calamity happens.

If you get the chance to paint with children, do it, and observe how free and full of joy they are. You will learn how freeing it is not taking yourself so seriously. In the summer, paint outside and let them be messy. That’s the best part. Let the little ones teach you how to paint, not the other way around. You will be in for a surprise.

Happy Painting!


Today’s author: Elisabeth Vismans, CPCC: Elisabeth is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach since 2011. an Award-Winning Artist, and an Art Instructor, has developed a unique coaching program where paint is used as a vehicle to live up to your fullest potential. Ask Elisabeth about her Intuitive Painting/Coaching programs and her “Awareness through Art” groups and retreats stimulating creativity and authenticity. Learn to be in the moment! There is more information on her website: and can be reached at

Roots to Boots Tour….to Be Happier

Roots to Boots Tour….to Be Happier

Today I feel a sense of fulfillment from completing a trip that I have longed to take over the past few years. I called it my Roots to Boots tour because my family roots are in Oklahoma and I needed my brave boots from Texas to make this particular journey.

Designing the trip was fun, yet filled with uncertainty because I didn’t know how it would unfold. I can’t remember the last time I took two whole weeks off to spend time with my mom’s family members that I haven’t seen in over a decade (and probably only ten times in my entire life).

As I planned the trip, some of the questions I asked myself were:

Will my mom’s side of the family remember me…and embrace this trip as I do?

What surprises will I encounter to make this trip more challenging or complete?

I’m happy to say that these questions were answered positively and that I experienced some pleasant surprises. This trip was bittersweet as I celebrated both the successful three year anniversary of my Texas joint venture and the anniversary of my mom’s passing.

After reflecting on this much anticipated journey, I can truthfully say that I am happier than I was three years ago. I am happier because….

  • I’m celebrating a successful business milestone with greater opportunities on the horizon
  • I have reconnected with my family in Oklahoma, closing a lengthy ten year gap.
  • I brought my mom’s ashes back to her roots, where she started her life and felt complete
  • My husband and I made this journey, and celebrated this labor of love, together.

Recognizing and embracing the process of becoming happier is a wonderful, and joyful, benefit of this Roots to Boots trip. Planning this adventure made me uncomfortable at times. However, I realized that I needed to be courageous, and step out into the world, to bring a deeper level of peace and healing into my life. The timing seemed perfect. In hindsight, I see that I not only boosted myself with this trip but (according to my husband) I also boosted my extended family by traveling back to our roots.

I truly believe that happiness boosters are important in life.

What boosts your happiness?

What happiness boosters are you willing to explore to bring needed closure and peace to your life?

Remember that becoming happier is a lifelong pursuit. I encourage you to discover ways to rejuvenate yourself to feel happier.

Do you want to learn more about becoming happier?

Ladies, you’re invited to the Be Happier Evening Retreat where I will be teaching techniques from the book Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar on April 27 at Jo Jo’s Restaurant from 5:30-7:30 pm. Click here for details and to register and reserve your spot. Make a friend happier and invite her to join you!


Today’s author: Kelye Rouse-Brown, CHA, CHT is a business owner, joint venture partner, HR expert, certified coach, and training professional. Her 3 components: Educate, Motivate, and Cultivate help her clients develop, spark action, and grow a successful career/business and life from the core. Kelye can be reached at 301-371-9300 or by visiting her website:


Life Lessons from Mom

Life Lessons from Mom

In my daily review of Facebook yesterday, I saw a Youtube clip of Amy Grant, the singer, talking about her father who is in the throes of full-blown dementia. She had 3 tips for dealing with the care of an aging parent and her words stuck with me all day.

The first tip was most profound. She said (loosely quoted) “frame your experience to one of meaning…this is part of your journey…make sure this part of your life is not one filled with regret…this may be the last great lesson you learn from [your parent]…”. Her comment prompted me to do something very practical and useful that has helped me in many difficult situations: reflect on what I have learned and am learning.

My mother became a single parent when my 3 brothers and I were young, ages 4, 6, 9 (me), and 11. She had to go to work full time after being a stay at home mom for 13 years.

The first lesson I learned from her at that point was to accept help. My grandparents lived close by and assisted in whatever way they could. We also had babysitters and helped each other when we could.

I learned the value of planning and organization as I watched her make the casseroles for the week every Sunday afternoon so we could have a hot dinner when she got home Monday through Friday at 6:00 pm.

I learned to cook (later, after the casserole phase) when I was a young teenager as the only time I could manage to get 15 minutes with her was in the kitchen as she was preparing our dinner. She would stop our conversation to say, “see how I melted the butter, added the flour then the milk to make the white sauce…”.

I learned about corporate politics as she would tell me about her day at work.

I learned that no matter how difficult things get, that there is always hope and a way out. Things will always look better in the morning, she would say.

I learned to depend on myself by having to do my own laundry, be responsible for my own things, and manage all my own activities and schoolwork. There was no one to drive us anywhere so we rode our bikes and walked everywhere. I learned how to navigate my surroundings. We were latchkey kids before the term was coined.

There are many more lessons I learned from her in the past and Amy Grant’s comments encouraged me to look at what I am learning from my mother now. What is perhaps the “last great lesson” in the final stretch of her life?

My mother, even with the Alzheimer’s, still epitomizes the perseverance I saw from that single mom with 4 small children. She gets up everyday, showers, when encouraged and prompted, then struggles with identifying how to dress in the clothes that have been laid out for her. When she comes down for breakfast, she has already accomplished a very difficult task, without complaint.

She chimes into the conversation when it doesn’t appear that she is listening with a humorous comment, and she still knows how to laugh, and reminds me how important laughter is.

Most of all, she has taught me that grace, love, and courage are essential to maintaining the highest quality of life possible given these circumstances. Her sweet demeanor encourages everyone around her to want to help. Even though she doesn’t understand why all these strangers are in her kitchen caring for her, she still occasionally reaches over to squeeze my arm and tell me she loves me. I know she is terrified in many ways of all the unfamiliar everyday things she faces, and she still musters her courage and keeps going.

This last lesson in my mother’s life has been one of extraordinary meaning for me. I am honored and proud that I am able to be a part of caring for her. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I encourage you to reflect frequently on what life lessons you are learning on your journey. I’d love to hear your thoughts.



P.S.- Amy Grant’s other 2 tips were to spread the responsibilities out for the care of your loved one to all the emotional communities that can help, and to make sure (early in life) that there is a good financial plan (via insurance) so that when the funds are needed, they are there. [I echo this tip, Long Term Care Insurance has been a life saver for us!]. If you are interested in watching the Amy Grant clip, the link is below.

Amy Grant


Today’s author: Lisa DiSciullo, CPCC, is a Certified Life Coach in Summit, NJ, with her own practice working with her clients as they are developing clarity, growth, and fulfillment in their lives. She is a founding member of the Wholistic Woman Retreats group and a Parent Educator with the Parent Encouragement Program. She can be reached at



May is my favorite month. After wrapping up April showers and bringing on May flowers, I pause and reflect on how special this month is before we move onto June. The days go by so fast and I always look forward to certain times of the year and next thing you know, you are moving along your path to the next day or month and then next year.

May makes me happy. I celebrate my mother, her birthday, my birthday and even my breast cancer diagnosis anniversary the day before my birthday – why, well because my stage was caught so early and it reminds me of  our genetic journey together and well, just because.

May makes me want to dance. Not because it’s the “Dancing with the Stars” finale, and I can’t wait to see who wins but because I feel in the month of May we put more pep in our steps and we move more now after the cold months. I came across these five Steps in the “Dance of Life” by Coby Kozlowski which are beautiful reminders of being in the present and not letting your favorite days or months to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, or just because go without celebrating, reflecting, experimenting, trusting and repeating like steps to a dance…

  • Celebrate who you are right now – recognize and appreciate all that is perfect about you, just as you are
  • Reflect on your path – pause a few times throughout your day to observe whether your thoughts, words and actions are in alignment
  • Put yourself into the experiment – we find out what makes our lives better and more authentic by putting ourselves into experiments
  • Surrender and trust – know that you will always have another chance to try again
  • Repeat for the rest of your life…

After I read these five pep steps, which are in no order at all, I recognize the one step I resonate with is putting myself into the experiment. This past year and the month of May have been a new experiment for me, trying on life a different way without my mom who passed away last year in April. She was my cheerleader in life and I love keeping her strong spirit alive; it brings such joy. One way I am doing this is by building a tree of life garden and believe me this is an experiment for someone who did not carry the green thumb gene from my mother. This May and last May, we have eaten Maryland crabs, moms favorite, to honor her birthday. Reflecting on our memories and creating new ones is the joy of life. Make May count this year, enjoy the beauty and color all around us, the pep in your step and repeat your monthly celebrations for the rest of your life.


Today’s author: Kelye Rouse Brown is an executive coach, conference speaker, HR expert, and seminar leader on employee and management training. Through her company, KRB Customized Training Solutions, she specializes in communications and leadership, career coaching, and result driven solutions for hospitality, healthcare and service oriented clients.   You can reach Kelye at or visit her website http://home/wholisu6/


Other Mothers

Other Mothers

Have you ever been an Other Mother? You know, that person who gives advice, encouragement, and love to those outside your family whether they want it or not. I know I have.

One of the things I have enjoyed about living in a small town is that there have been other mothers who guided, loved, and sometimes corrected my children as they were growing up. It was comforting to know that when my children were at school, scouting events, soccer games, the pool, or the park without me that there were other women who knew and cared about them enough to parent them. I’m not sure that my children always appreciated that level of interaction but I sure did. The downside for them was that it was difficult to get away with anything. The upside was that a cadre of women was available who could nurture, love and encourage them when I wasn’t present, or when I didn’t have the necessary wisdom or experience that my offspring needed.

Other mothers can bring a fresh perspective to a situation and can offer guidance that may be new, thereby expanding our world and allowing us to grow outside of our own heritage. The support that other mothers (and fathers) offer is a source of strength when we falter or steer off course. They can provide a communal nurturing environment where we have the opportunity to blossom into the individuals we are designed to be.

Other Mothers grow strong communities by:

Encouraging – They see the good in us and aren’t afraid to tell us what they see. When women who are not related to you tell you that you are gifted, you tend to listen and believe them primarily because they aren’t your mother. Who could you speak words of encouragement to today?

Loving unconditionally – They offer grace and love us even when we aren’t at our best. They might not always like what we do, but they believe at our core that we are good. They know we aren’t perfect and will always be a work in progress….yet they love us anyway. Who needs your unconditional love to today?

Modeling – The best way to influence others is by example. Other mothers recognize that they are a role model to more than just their own relatives. We know that a whole host of people are watching and deciding if they want to be like us or not. Are you being the person that you want your children, or the people you influence, to be?

Not fixing it – One of the hardest challenges of relationships is watching someone we care about struggle. Yet in the struggle lies their opportunity for growth. Other mothers know what they can and can’t do. They know they can’t take the painful circumstances away. However, they can be present in times of adversity to love, hug, cry, and maybe even bring a smile or a laugh. Who can you be present with today in the midst of their challenges?

Other mothers are truly special people. You may be someone who is an Other Mother, or perhaps you need an Other Mother. It’s safe to guess that you are both. I know I am.

I hope you will seek out the Other Mothers that you need… and also provide Other Mothering freely in your circles of influence. May you build and be blessed by strong, nurturing communities of love.



Today’s author: Carol deLaski, PCC, is a speaker, author, and coach whose focus on strengths-based leadership develops strong, confident individuals and businesses. You are invited to attend her Discovering Strength workshop on May 21st which is based on her recently released book, Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith. Attendees will identify and develop the source of their inner strength and resilience to better manage challenges at work and in life overall.

Click here for more details.