The Power of Mother Nature (or I’m in the Market for New Cars)

So yesterday was basically a normal Sunday.


I hung out with my husband. We helped out at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation wrapping station. We drank coffee. We talked about normal stuff, like a trip we’re planning…and how we need to get a car to replace my van (which seems to enjoy the repair shop more than our driveway)…

Then we drove home. It was icy and rainy, but when we got home our porch view still looked a little something like this:


Picture brown grass and ice tipped branches


Icy scene from the shopping mall


Fast forward to 11 at night. I walked to the front door to lock up and I heard a very loud WHOOSH sound. My first thought was that it sounded like someone jumping from our roof carrying something heavy.



Santa going for a trial run??


Actually I didn’t think of the Santa thing until much later. Paratroopers came to mind.

Yeah, I was thinking of a Red Dawn sort of invasion. (Have I told you I’m a writer?)

So I flicked off the lights and peered out the front window (because that’s me in stealth guerrilla warfare mode, apparently).

No Russian or North Korean paratroopers were landing on our front lawn. Whew.

Except it wasn’t really a “Whew” kind of sight.


If a tree falls in your front yard does it make a sound? (Yes–whoosh!)


Anyway the view from our front porch looks like this:


Very large old tree (possibly of the Dominoes variety)


Now we’re in the market for three cars.

And INCREDIBLY thankful no one was hurt.


Mother Nature has a sense of humor.


How’s Mother Nature treating your neck of the woods?

Happy Monday!!



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On Crushes, Rejection, and Daring Greatly


Last week one of my kids asked me how they could get the courage to talk to someone they have a crush on.

Now I only have one high school Crush Story where I exhibited bravery. It was at a high school graduation party and I approached the boy I’d been crushing on for two years and asked him to dance.

He said no.

On the surface, it’s not such a great story.

Except for the part where I actually asked the boy I’d been crushing on to dance.

That was huge. Major bravery. And yeah, while I know all my kid wants right now is for this other kid to like them back, there is value in vulnerability.

Being vulnerable is how we open ourselves to the good stuff.

Okay so the good stuff doesn’t always show up, and risking emotional exposure can be terrifying. It’s not easy to be ALL IN.

But I know that the times I’ve risked rejection, disappointment, and embarrassment, it’s because I’ve been listening to my heart. Being me. And I don’t know, my arms get tired holding up those walls of protection.

Sure, there are days (lots of them) when all I want to do is hide, but eventually what I end up wanting to remember, is that it’s not the win or the loss that counts, but how we listen to our hearts, and allow ourselves the opportunity for joy.

 Roosevelt daring greatly_opt


How do you muster courage? Do you have any crush advice?




Capturing the Wish: When Visions of Happy Things Swirled in our Heads

When I was growing up, birthdays were always festive.

birthday laughter collage_opt

 Check out the wrapping paper–the comics!


My mom usually made an ice cream cake, and decorated the birthday girl’s/boy’s bedroom doorway with streamers. Sometimes we celebrated at the dining room table with the “fancy” blue china.

And we took photos like this:

 Patrick blowing birthday candle Collage_opt

Capturing the Wish


Looking at these pictures, I realized we captured the secret wish moment.

A wish (or two), a deep breath, and then hopes are launched…

Easy Bake Ovens, ponies, unrequited crushes turning requited,

love, health, and peace…

Our heart’s desires

some found

others suspended, floating in a moment

where visions of happy things swirled in our heads.

birthday candle blow Collage_opt

And the tradition continues…


What are your birthday traditions? Have you ever wrapped a gift with the comics?

Happy Monday!





* This post is dedicated to my daughter who turns 228 months this week.  🙂






Finding the Opportunity to Smile Awhile

wrinkles go where smiles have been quote_opt

Last week I participated in the local JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) walk to cure, walking with family as Team Dan the Man  in memory of my brother who died in 2006 due to complications of type 1/juvenile diabetes.

It was a beautiful day where we raised money for a great cause, but when the bagpipes began to play at the start of the walk, I started to cry.

All around me were cheerleaders, balloons, and a whole lot of festivity, and for just a moment that atmosphere clashed with missing my brother. Suddenly I felt out of place, on the flip side, as if my loss and sadness didn’t belong.

JDRF walk to cure Richmond_opt


Of course that wasn’t true. I’d lost not only my smile, but my perspective. So, I looked again at the cheerleaders, the balloons, and at the kids running around…and I remembered what powered that festivity: hope.

I was a part of creating hope for other families.

And…I found my purpose, my optimism, my smile again.

So it took some effort, some perspective. Yeah, as much as I love to smile and laugh, sometimes I have to work at it.

 coleen laughs resize_opt


And then other times, smiling can be oh so easy.

 Like getting an email from one of the associate producers from The Ellen Show to let me know they would be using a couple of my YouTube videos for their Smile Awhile challenge.

Smiles powered by giddiness!

Or, something as simple as ducks.
Once they realized I had a bag of bread, these ducks managed to find me at every turn around the lake.

It’s awesome when you get to smile for a while.

Tell me, what’s making you smile this week?

Happy Monday!

Coleen xo






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The Great Bull Run and a Food Fight: Grab Life by the Horns

ideas and adrenaline_opt


Idea adrenaline? I’m all in.

Running while being chased by bulls adrenaline? Not so much.

But when I got the opportunity to see this adrenaline junkie action up close and you-can-smell the-bulls personal, I didn’t hesitate.

Because The Great Bull Run is another historical moment for Virginia. Apparently this was the first bull run in the United States (it’s right up there with the founding of Jamestown and the Civil War).

And because, I was very curious about a bull run (and an engineered food fight).

the great bull run costume collage_opt


Some people wore costumes. I was disguised as a Media VIP.

 the great bull run_opt

There were lots of cowboys. 

 the great bull run bull pen_opt

The bulls seemed happy to pose for me. Maybe it was my badge.

 the great bull run abandon all hope ye who enter here_opt

Runners enter here.


the bull runs

Then open the gate. I think that bull was winking at me.




the great bull run virginia


There was only one way out: Climb the fence.


 the great bull run fear_opt


Then to round off the event, there was a food fight. With 50,000 tomatoes.


Again, gates were opened. 


 Tomato chaos. Ketchup in the making.

 tomato royale mess_opt

A Tomato Royale mess. 


Are you an adrenaline junkie? Have you ever been in a food fight?


Happy Monday! 🙂


If you want to see video from the event, check out my YouTube channel!



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Fear Less: Ten Things You Can Control Today (Plus, Some Flying Aversion Therapy)


I am not fearless.

But I’d love to fear less. I dream of the day I can hang out–anxiety free– in a tiny (locked) airplane bathroom, buffeted by turbulence, while holding a tarantula.

Um, okay, not really.

One of my biggest fears is flyingbut I don’t have to deal with that regularly. However, I can brew up a complex worry and fear stew made up of poisonous, self-defeating thoughts at any moment. Last week, when I was sick, drifting in and out of sleep on the couch, I managed to criticize myself for my lack of productivity. And more.

Turns out there’s no need for me to fear criticism from others (although that happens too), because I know all my insecurities and secrets. I have the ability to obliterate my self-esteem all on my own. Some days I am my own worst enemy.

But I understand WHY I sometimes make these noxious fear stews.

Control. I’m pretty sure ALL of my fears are based on my control freakery.

I had really no control over the dizzy spells and nausea, much the same way I can’t do anything to stop anyone else’s thoughts, judgments, or words (oh, but sometimes I try via self-editing–essentially censoring ME).



I also have no idea how to fly a plane (and no matter how many times my husband the engineer explains the Bernoulli effect I still tend to see aviation science as pure luck.

And there was apparently no control to be had over the door handle mechanism breaking in a JC Penney fitting room last month. However I could’ve taken a moment to breathe before panicking and dropping to my knees and shimmying under the small gap at the bottom of the door.

Yeah, I haven’t figured out how to deal with my fears, not all the way. Like flying, I take this fear thing one trip (and one Army crawl under a dressing room door) at a time.

But recently I tried something that might be considered fear aversion therapy. A couple of weeks ago I got up close with those “lucky” flying machines.


A lovely, unsuspecting beach in the Caribbean.


But this beach (Maho beach) backs up to the airport.


Happy pilot waves at beach goers making happy plane associations.


Beach goers find a spot on the fence to hang on. Wait…what???


Then this happens. 

Jet wash.

Sand pelting.

But wait, there’s more…


jet landing maho beach

What’s that coming in over the horizon?

A jet. 

You can’t tell by this photo, but it’s a big one.

And even though I’m scared of flying, I was pretty excited to see a plane landing right above me (it’s that fear/fascination thing). 

Yes, that’s me in the blue pants running away. But hey, I did it!


And if you suffer from daily control freakery, here’s a little something that might help. Maybe being a little more mindful of the things we can control, might lessen the load of those we can’t.



What are your thoughts on fear?

Happy Monday!!


Sunset over Maho Beach



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Expectations, Success, & the Sun-streaked Possibility of Summer

I like the idea of summer. It really does feel like a new beginning. Or at least a chance to catch my breath.

Even though I’m not in school anymore, I’ve been anticipating the shift into this new season.

Yeah there may still be work to do (and troubles to deal with) but I’ve been looking forward to longer days, sunnier days…days that somehow seem open for MORE.

Well, more of the things that seem to allow you the space to breathe.

Our days can be packed with obligation. Too many times I’ve ended a day staring up at the high bar of expectation feeling like I just missed it. Again.

There’s a lot of noise when it comes to the definition of success. Not only with work, but health, relationships, and life in general.

Not enough. Do more.

But there’s something about summer that leaves room for the good kind of more.

More color, more fun, more daylight, more possibility.

More space to be you.


every summer has a story



What do you love about summer?


Check out super cool writer, Emily R. King! Emily lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest–and she’s been shark cage diving!


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Playing Hooky: The Beach is not a Place to Work


beach is not a place to work_opt

I was NOT on vacation this week.

But I did go to the beach.  I drove two hours to spend a few days with family to celebrate my sister’s graduation from nursing school.

She lives only ten minutes from the actual beach, so…I mean, I couldn’t NOT go.

So in terms of meeting my typical work quota  last week. Didn’t happen.

I skimmed emails and stuff via my phone, but mostly I felt like I was out of the country.

And I’m so okay with that.


There was too much good stuff happening anyway. Experiences I am happy to fall a little behind at work for…

nursing graduation_opt

The Pinning Ceremony.

I couldn’t miss the only time my sister would wear white tights with white shoes.


 beach heart in sand_opt

My heart at the beach.


So I got a little behind at work. Totally worth it. Now, it’s like I’m sailing back on a salty sea air breeze.

Okay, so my mind may be a teensy bit too clear, but I’m going to take a cue from my four-year-old nephew, who one night, spent a really long time deconstructing and constructing a plain old brown box.

take a play break_opt

 Creativity, you really can start anywhere.


Task number one—today I’m over at Kourtney Heintz’s blog, author of The Six Train to Wisconsin, talking a bit about my journey as an Indie author. I hope you can stop by! Bring cheese fries if you have ’em.

What people, places, or things are worth getting a little behind at work for to you?

Have a GREAT week!

Coleen xo


How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

road to success lily tomlin quote


This weekend I watched the play, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, THREE times.

Three times? Was I studying the play for easy peasy book marketing tips?

No, although I’d do that for a play called How to Clean Your House Without Really Trying. 🙂

I watched because my son played the role of personnel manager, Mr. Bratt,  in his high school’s performance of How to Succeed.

This was his first play. From auditions, to the last night of the play’s run, my son seemed to experience every emotion, from self-doubt to walking on sunshine excitement.

And every minute of it I was so proud (even the moments where I had to break out my “Just Keep Swimming” speech).

How to Succeed in Business without really trying MLWGS

How to Succeed in Business Mr. Bratt MLWGS

His experience reminded me that no matter how difficult the road is, we can’t forget to allow ourselves to experience the joys along the way.

How to Succeed in Business joy of finishing

Savoring the Joy of the Accomplishment


Here’s a snippet of his character’s song, A Secretary is Not a Toy.

What joys are you savoring this week?



Have a great week!

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