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Susie writes about how she had to abandon safety to risk living her best life. For 23 years, she’s traveled the world as a professional guide and teacher. Now with a brainstem tumor diagnosis, her journeys are inward as she lets go of worry and fear to author a radically compassionate, abundant life.

Mom, You Are Absolutely Fabulous

May 11, 2024

Dear Brave Ones, I was visiting Mom in Toronto last week. We decided to celebrate Mother’s Day early. My childhood best friend, Natasha, came with her mom, Judy, and the four of us shared tea and cake and stories. I wrote down some of my favorite memories of Mom and read them aloud to her. I thought she might brush them aside. Instead, what happened surprised me. I read the first sentence, and that sparked… Read more

Community Gardens Plot 209

April 21, 2024

A prose-poem for you on Earth Day… The morning smells delicious, of dirt and last night’s rain – I dream of abundance, draw a map  on the back of an envelope: tomatoes, basil, garlic here, potatoes, peppers, peas there, Oh, the food we can grow! Each spring, I have high hopes for gardening. I forget my tendency to kill plants – to let them go unprotected  from deer, rabbits, and the dry, relentless heat. I… Read more

Advice from Cranes on Empty Nesting

April 4, 2024

Hello from Nebraska! For Spring Break, some go to Florida or Mexico, but this year we take our college-age children to North Platte, Nebraska to see the Sandhill Crane migration. Isn’t that every teenager’s Spring Break fantasy?  I’m just happy to have everyone in the car together. With Hazel graduating from High School in May, and Cole already in college, we will be empty nesters soon. I don’t know yet what that means for me;… Read more

Learning How to Fear

March 21, 2024

A winter storm came through Colorado last week. Four feet of snow fell in 48 hours in the little town of Nederland, just thirty miles from where I live. Many rushed away from the mountains, trying to get to low ground before they closed roads and lost power. We rushed toward the storm. Kurt and I thought that if we went to the mountains, we could be some of the first people at Eldora Ski… Read more

Dueling Teachers: Willie Nelson & the Dalai Lama

February 27, 2024

What do Willie Nelson and the Dalai Lama have to do with 2024? February has been one of the toughest months on record, personally. The year of the Dragon came in breathing fire and smoke all over the people I love. I won’t go into detail, but just know that it has something to do with the state of our world, my aging parents (and how much I dislike that inescapable truth), and my daughter… Read more

Everyone Has a Story

January 31, 2024

They are all better writers, with better stories to tell.  As a college admissions and essay coach, I hear how loud the inner critic can be when it comes to writing about ourselves. My students believe the negative inner voice that tells them that their stories and storytelling skills aren’t good enough. There’s also a misconception that the college essay needs to be about overcoming adversity. It doesn’t. Adult writers believe a similar myth; only significant,… Read more

From Impossible to Possible

January 18, 2024

Five minutes after choosing Possibility as my word for January 2024, I had the most negative temper tantrum because everything felt impossible. The feeling began when I woke up and it was -9F (-22C), the dog refused to go out, Kurt was sick, my nerve pain had returned in my leg, and there was no milk in the house. I wrote 2025 in my journal, as if some part of me knew it was best… Read more

2023 A Year of Contrasts

December 22, 2023

Saturday morning, I wore black to speak at an 18-year-old’s funeral. In the evening, I put on a pink jumpsuit to attend a birthday party. This day of opposites captures what 2023 has felt like: a year of contrasts. In the words of my former boss and mentor, Rick Ridgeway, “There is no life without death. Spend a lot of time in Nature and you carry that truth deep in your bones.” At the service,… Read more

Going on a Bear Hunt to Confront Life’s Obstacles

June 23, 2023

There’s a children’s book that sums up my experience with confronting life’s obstacles pretty nicely. Remember Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury? A young family sets out on an adventure to find a big bear, only to encounter obstacle after obstacle in their path. We’re going on a Bear Hunt! We’re gonna catch a big one! When life throws one of its many big, scary curveballs at us, we humans… Read more

4 Steps to Coping with Uncertainty

June 10, 2023

This blog is about coping with uncertainty. Recently, someone asked, “How do you do it? You’re so good at facing the unknown.” And I laughed because I don’t feel good at it. I much prefer to hold the steering wheel and the GPS. But I am getting better at handling uncertainty. Here’s how: #1. I get angry. When I stare into the dark of what may happen with this surgery or what may happen to my… Read more

I’m a Pain in the Neck; Now I’m also a Pain in the A**

May 18, 2023

We must let go of the life we have planned to accept the one that is waiting for us. –Joseph Campbell I need another, smaller surgery. I’ve had intense sciatic pain for a few months (part of the reason why I haven’t been writing). I’m so grateful to be under close watch because the doctors found the culprit: a small blip on my lower spine (L5/S1) which they think dripped down from the original tumor.… Read more

Run Toward the Danger

November 29, 2022

In ten days, I’m running the COLDER Bolder. Yes! I’m running again! Repeat the Sounding Joy! It’s been six years since I last ran. It feels amazing to run my favorite trails again, with dogs and friends, letting the dog off the leash, and letting my soul off leash, too. My goal is to complete the 5K “race” on December 10th to raise funds for Chordoma Cancer research, for a BIG, new, important research project.… Read more

The Gift of Mom; a Life of Curiosity over Concern

May 5, 2022

My mom is visiting on her annual migration from Mexico to Toronto, by way of Colorado. She lives six months of the year outside Guadalajara, six months in Toronto. Many might think it’s dangerous to live alone, in Mexico, as a single woman in her eighties, but she brushes off their concerns. “People underestimate the people of Mexico. And me.” To Mom, life is meant to be lived as an adventure, full of discovery and… Read more

Don’t Let Go, Let Loose

April 11, 2022

I’m playing with the idea of let loose instead of let go. Here’s what I mean. To let go completely is too much pressure. But to let loose is bite-sized, doable, a step forward in the right direction. I want to let go of control. I’ve been gripping too tightly to things not working out the way I want them to lately and it’s making me suffer. The Brave over Perfect move this week is… Read more

What We’ve Done to Women’s History Month

March 20, 2022

Did you know that International Women’s Day was started in 1910 by a Ukrainian-born woman named Theresa Malkiel? She was a labor activist who collaborated with Clara Zetkin in Europe and Helen Todd in the U.S. and thousands of other female laborers around the world. They marched to demand voting rights and better pay for women. More recently, what we’ve done to International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month is change it from a collective movement… Read more

Why Climbing a Volcano is a Metaphor for Life

December 20, 2021

Our son Cole is alone on a gap year in Guatemala. Recently, we visited him and hiked a volcano. The plan was to climb up dormant Volcán Acatenango, spend the night, and watch active Volcán Fuego’s strombolian eruptions in the dark.  Before the trip, the anticipation of all the unknowns kept me up at night. Fear flared and ruptured my sleep. Will we make it? What if I did all that work to heal only… Read more

How to Turn Sh** into Shinola; Lessons From a Dung Beetle

October 20, 2021

Sometimes the world feels like a big ball of poop and I am the dung beetle, pushing it uphill and backwards, blind to where I am going. Do you know what I mean?  This act of staying alive is hard work and yet the hill keeps getting steeper with the Delta variant raging, wildfires multiplying, and humans screaming at each other over wearing masks. There is no immediate cure, and the challenge continues. I felt… Read more

5 Year Anniversary & Lessons From Vagus

August 21, 2021

This month marks the 5 year anniversary of my major surgeries! Can you believe it?! I don’t take this life for granted.  But every year since then I’ve had some kind of recurrence or treatment. This summer is the first one since 2016 that I haven’t had to go back under the knife (knock on wood)! I celebrated by immersing myself fully in the natural world, foraging for mushrooms, visiting with family and friends. I… Read more

Dear Cole; a letter to my son on graduation

May 28, 2021

Dear Cole, I’m writing you from our front porch, on the eve of your high school graduation.  Life is not easy. You know that. You have lived that. It’s not about building a life that is easy–without pain or confusion–it’s about living life fully, completely, and compassionately. I know you can do that because you already have. You have backbone in you now that will never leave you. You just have to talk to your… Read more

Poetry for Peace (of Mind)

March 30, 2021

Are you up for a 21-Day Poetry for Peace (of Mind) Challenge? It’s one way to celebrate April as Poetry Month! When I was in the hospital and could not speak, I recited poetry to myself. After a 36-hour surgery to remove a tumor on my brainstem, I couldn’t read or write. I couldn’t even watch TV because it was too much stimulus. The only thing I could do was recite lines of poetry. The… Read more

The Most Radical Response to Despair

March 23, 2021

What is the most radical response to despair? Last night, I didn’t sleep much. I was cycling through feelings of sadness and anger at the stupidity of another mass shooting, this time in my hometown of Boulder, CO. Ten people died, including a police officer. As I write this, I still don’t know the victims’ names. What if we lost a teacher or a friend who was just trying to buy her groceries? (Take Action… Read more

Make Waiting Easier; 3 of My Favorite Techniques

March 9, 2021

Waiting is not my forté. Though I’ve gotten much better at it. I’ll show you how. I am waiting for scan test results (every 3 months I have routine scans to watch for tumor activity), Cole is waiting to hear back from colleges, Hazel is waiting for a package she ordered, Leo is waiting to go for a walk, and Kurt is waiting for all of us to be a little less anxious and cranky… Read more


February 24, 2021

We have COVID. Or had COVID (we just ended our quarantine). Kurt tested positive first. We locked him in the basement; the kids left food and water outside his door, wearing two masks and gloves. I disinfected the entire house and sat outside in three pairs of long underwear, thinking. The virus we feared for ten months was suddenly in our home. As one friend put it, it was like being at the moment of… Read more

Revolutionary Love

February 8, 2021

I have a wall of hearts in our living room; hearts I’ve collected around the world. There are hearts that my family gave me for every week of chemo and radiation therapy. Hearts hammered out of metal, carved out of wood, painted with gold and silver leaf. There are hearts bent and broken and carefully put back together again. One heart’s golden wings spread wider than the wall itself. It is covered in “milagros,” small… Read more

Becoming Your Light & Amanda Gorman’s Poetry

January 26, 2021

How about Amanda Gorman in her bright yellow coat reciting “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s Inauguration? She made me rise to my feet in hope and ovation. Wasn’t she fantastic? I’m biased, of course. I’ve been following her for a while now because my brilliant friend Katherine told me to, and because poetry is my love language. Plus, on Inauguration Day, Gorman used the words brave AND fierce and breathed joy into a moment where we held… Read more

Do Thoughts of “I’m not doing enough” Wake You At Night?

January 14, 2021

These times demand Next-Level Resilience. “I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for months,” a client tells me. She is exhausted, but wakes in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. She works all day and makes progress. “But then I lose sleep because I’m not doing enough.” I know those thoughts too well. Why am I not doing more to end racism or just get through my to-do list?… Read more

From 2020 Annus Horribilis to 2021 Annus Stupendous; Here’s Your Map to Joy

December 30, 2020

We declare 2020 Annus Horribilis. And we invite 2021 to be Annus Stupendous! The year 2020 dared us to be human: vulnerable, mortal, and adaptable. We realized how important laughter is to our wellbeing. And we learned that rage and grief are not one-off emotions. They are rough landscapes to travel through again and again, until we spot joy. How has this year given you a map to find joy, even contentment, within a terrible… Read more

What you should give your dearest ones this season

December 14, 2020

If wonder is the precursor to joy, how can we help each other kindle moments of wonder? Can we give our dearest ones gifts or moments that foster curiosity, creativity, and astonishment? When we practice pursuing wonder, we can find joy. The goal is to get out of our heads and grown-up thinking, and into our child bodies. Wonder requires zero talent or skill. Have you ever been in a hot tub or sauna and… Read more

Lessons from Swedish Death Cleaning

December 1, 2020

It began with the fires. Then it continued because Covid-19 continues. Then anxiety around my scans added a level of intensity to the exercise. I am talking about “Döstädning” or Swedish Death Cleaning. Have you heard of it?  I’ve purged my stuff before, following Marie Kondo’s advice to keep only objects that “spark joy.” But it often seems more complicated. What if the object sparks nostalgia? Or gratitude? Or is part of my identity? Maybe… Read more

What’s Underneath Fear?

November 16, 2020

Four years ago, I was diagnosed with a terminal disease and we elected a leader who ruled with fear. I was sick and the country was sick. I was afraid and the country was afraid. It was exhausting. And it didn’t feel like me to be scared, angry, and sick all the time. I learned to meditate and I listened. I listened deeply to find out What was underneath all this fear? It was not… Read more

The Value of Getting Lost

November 16, 2020

I wake in the middle of the night, feeling lost and anxious, and ask Kurt, “Do we know the election results?” “No, not yet.” I can’t sleep anymore. I get up and put on the kettle for tea. Our teenage daughter, Hazel, can’t sleep either. At dawn, she wraps herself in a blanket and comes to the kitchen. She pours a bowl of cereal and makes me one too. I sit next to her and… Read more

What’s your 3-2-1 self-care plan?

November 2, 2020

My clients tell me they are exhausted, anxious, and overwhelmed. One powerful woman said, “Remember last year when I was handling three crises and some uncertainty and I thought it was a lot? Those days seem dreamy now.” She was talking about managing big helpless feelings about the election, but also about climate change, four nearby fires, systemic racism, her kids growing up, early menopause, work stress, loss of income, and loss of loved ones.… Read more

Ride your fear like an octopus

October 20, 2020

I’m watching My Octopus Teacher for the second time. Cole and the dog fell asleep in the middle of the first screening. But I’m transfixed. This tiny octopus is covering her vulnerable head with shells and stones for camouflage. She has been through impossible odds just to make it to this moment. I, too, have made it through impossible odds just to make it to this moment. Haven’t we all? But now it looks like… Read more

Invest in Joy. The 33-Day Challenge.

October 3, 2020

Yesterday I was so tired I fell asleep on the cement walkway to our house. I woke up to the postal carrier tiptoeing around me to the mailslot. She did not freak out about me lying there on the ground. She said, “Oh hon. I know. Can I curl up and rest with you in the sunshine?”  That was my Delight #57. I have been tracking delights, inspired by the poet, Ross Gay. I am… Read more

Focus on Five; Navigating Uncertainty like an Ultramarathon

August 9, 2020

I used to run marathons and ultramarathons for kicks because I loved the feeling at the end that comes from knowing we are capable of far more than we think. But to get to the finish line in an ultramarathon, you can only run five minutes at a time. You don’t think about the next 30 or more miles because it’s too much. You go into overwhelm; your mind spins and your body rebels. To… Read more

Walking the Labyrinth

July 20, 2020

Out on a walk with Leo the dog, I came upon a big, beautiful labyrinth made of carefully chosen bricks and stones. It looked inviting, like something I had to do. But part way in, I’m sure the dog thought, Why do we keep going around in circles over here when the squirrels and ducks are over there? And I thought, This is taking a long time. I have a lot to do today. Can… Read more

Cowboys Were My Weakness

June 12, 2020

At twelve I had a crush on the Marlboro man– rugged, self-reliant, riding in his dusty cloak, lone hero of the American west, protector of our freedom. I thought I needed a cowboy to rescue me from bad guys and Indians.   I should have let it go when he died of lung cancer, but I didn’t look deep enough, didn’t see beyond the billboard bullshit.   Years later, I drive with my family on… Read more

Breathe: a poem

June 12, 2020

Breathe All morning I’ve been thinking about the beauty of a breath, a child’s body breathing as she falls asleep, a sweetheart breathing next to us in bed, a tree breathing in carbon dioxide and giving us oxygen in an ancient, astonishing exchange, my own lungs giving and receiving without me having to do anything.   Meanwhile, a radiologist tells me  to take a breath in, hold it, release, as he scans my chest for… Read more

How Many of Us are Feeling Emotional Overwhelm?

June 12, 2020

Cancer, COVID, white privilege, uprisings, menopause, teenagers…I know a thing or two about how to cope with intense emotional overwhelm. Symptoms: trouble focusing, difficulty finishing tasks, may feel unsettled, unclear, unsteady. Treatment: Avoidance coping is what we do to distract, numb, or escape our way out of discomfort. We watch TV, pour another glass of wine, run errands, work without breaks, power wash our windows. Active coping is what we do when we want to… Read more

Act Local; A Guide to Boulder Elected Officials + Tips for Finding YOUR Representatives

June 12, 2020

Boulder, CO Elected Officials June 11, 2020 Act local and make real change. It took me too long to find out who my elected officials were last year, my first year to vote in the USA as a brand new citizen. I made this quick reference guide for those of you living in Boulder, CO in 2020. For those of you outside Boulder, the best resource I found for searching for elected officials AT EVERY… Read more

Power to the Imagination

June 12, 2020

I’m listening and learning to Black leaders. One gem I found recently is this: Angela Davis(told a crowd at UPenn in 2010) “Activists in America in the late 1960s were saying, “Power to the People!” while activists in France were saying, “Power to the Imagination!”  It’s so important to use our imaginations to create the future we want for our children. Watch this 3 min video clip from Angela Davis: How Does Change Happen? Read more

What if I don’t want to go back to pre-COVID reality?

April 22, 2020

Dear Susie, What if I don’t want to go back to my old reality? I used to run around so fast I had bugs in my teeth. It feels good to slow down. To have breakfast with my kids. To spend more time on relationships and deep work. To spend less time in airports and reacting to coworkers. I feel guilty saying this when so many don’t even have jobs. But I like the quiet.… Read more

You do not have to be good

April 22, 2020

Today I discovered how freeing it can be to write down all the ways in which I do not have to be good. These are stressful times and yet we don’t give ourselves permission to do less without feeling guilty. We imagine that everyone else is productive and creative and bringing healthcare workers meals and saving deportees at the border. We think we are the only ones who are struggling to get dressed or have… Read more

30-Day Journaling Challenge

April 2, 2020

Starting April 1, I’m running a 30-day journaling challenge that I’m calling The Resilience Journals. I am doing this because I am used to being in isolation. I had to separate myself after major surgery, and after chemo and radiation.  What sustained me then and now is keeping a journal. Any act of creativity works, but journaling is simple, and doesn’t require a lot of space or time. Journaling untangles my knots. It wakes me… Read more

When Will This Pandemic End? A Cancer Survivor’s Tips on Facing the Unknown

March 20, 2020

WHEN WILL THIS END? This is the question everyone is asking in light of the new CDC guidelines on the coronavirus pandemic lasting at least eight weeks.  “Remember a flattened curve is longer. So the longer this takes, oddly, is a sign of success,” writes Juliette Kayyem, Harvard professor of international security, safety and resiliency. We have to imagine that this is going to take a long, long time.  The sooner we can accept our… Read more

5 Tools to Find Peace in a Pandemic

March 13, 2020

Where is there room for brave over perfect and joy over fear in a pandemic?  To get through this, we need to get serious about two things: containing the disease and containing our fear about the disease.  If we can learn to be more comfortable in the unknown and master the skill of managing our fears and our expectations, we can make decisions easier, pivot faster, and feel calmer. Happiness “doesn’t depend on how things… Read more

An Ode to Girlfriends

March 11, 2020

An ode to girlfriends after a weekend with these beauties. I met Natasha as a toddler, then in 1983, we both met Teza, Alli, and Jill (not pictured) in middle school. We were twelve-year-old girls who didn’t yet know the words, “You can’t do that.” We have been there for each other ever since, making sure we never believe those words. We were there when braces came off, when hearts were broken, when friends died,… Read more

SAFE: A Tool to Beat Fear and Get Back to Sleep

February 16, 2020

A few nights ago, I woke up at 3 a.m., convinced that the sciatic pain in my left leg meant I wouldn’t be able to walk the next day. It was not a real threat. But I couldn’t get back to sleep. Why not get up and test my hypothesis? Well, it was freezing outside of my covers. And what if I tested it and found out I was right? That would be terrible. MUCH… Read more

Mini Retreat Highlights!

January 22, 2020

Here’s to the 10 brilliant, brave women who came to reset and refresh in my home this January. We found calm in the midst of chaos, uncovered what we desire, learned to say No, and wrote a letter to Fear so it can’t derail our clear vision in 2020. My chair broke as I was explaining how to let go of things we cannot control!  #braveoverperfect If you want to write your own letter to… Read more

Let ‘Em Burn!

December 25, 2019

Have you ever noticed that we get to the end of a year and immediately race ahead to the next year, making goals and adding things to our plate? Our culture is hooked on New Year’s resolutions and improving ourselves. So we have to help each other Pause. Reflect. and Celebrate. Let’s focus on Look how far we’ve come, rather than Look how much we haven’t gotten done!  Remember: we can’t keep adding goals without… Read more

She might be the most powerful woman in the world

December 12, 2019

Our daughter Hazel is 14 today. It is also Día de Guadalupe. I am republishing this blog about Guadalupe, and the strength of women around the world in her honor! Hazel’s birthday falls on the same day Mexicans celebrate the Virgin Mary, whom they lovingly call La Virgen de Guadalupe. It’s an important day in Mexico; Pilgrimages, parades, and dazzling fireworks are common and abundant. Hazel has adopted it as her own holiday. Every year,… Read more

How Do You Stand Back Up When You’re Down?

November 26, 2019

This week we received the heartbreaking news that our son’s best friend, Joaquin, a 16-year-old boy, is not cured of cancer. It has come back. It’s been less than a year since he finished treatments.  The ground fell away. Rage stirred inside me. I was angry that this disease isn’t gone from his young body. Had he not endured enough? I was also angry that the disease isn’t gone from my body. This recurrence brought… Read more

The Beauty of Sometimes

November 19, 2019

Have you ever thought about the beauty of the word sometimes?  Sometimes is a great word. It’s so much more honest than always or never.  I know this because black-or-white thinking is one of my not-so-super superpowers. “So & So is an asshole.” “I’m a total success.” “I’m a complete failure.” It seems like extreme thinking is a teenager’s superpower too. Just last night, I overheard the following examples from our teenagers at home, “I… Read more

Expectations Turned Upside Down

November 10, 2019

What is the experience of having our expectations turned upside down?  I was supposed to have major surgery on my spine. The doctor was supposed to remove a tumor balanced between two vertebrae in my neck. And I was supposed to wake up tumor free.  But just thirty minutes into a pre-operative procedure, they discovered something no one had predicted. A tiny blood vessel (like a tributary of a river) near the tumor is one… Read more

Postponed Indefinitely

November 10, 2019

This is Kurt, Susie’s husband. The surgery is postponed indefinitely. This comes as a huge surprise to all of us. Today Susie underwent a surgical procedure to do high-resolution mapping of the blood vessels in her neck. We had a similar procedure done in CO but the facilities here are much more powerful, so the surgeon wanted to repeat it here to help plan the operation. Today’s results indicated that surgery is not advisable at… Read more

Suffering is the Middle School of Life: Painful but Necessary

November 2, 2019

Doesn’t it seem like everyone has more challenges lately? Our thirteen-year-old daughter thinks so. She says she has no one to sit with at lunch. She wishes she knew exactly what to say to get the other kids to like her. And I feel her pain. I remember those days. Can’t we fast-forward middle school for her? Can’t we shortcut her suffering and get right to the learning? There is no shortcut. Suffering is the… Read more

Upcoming Surgery: 3 Ways to Help

October 22, 2019

Remember what Dr. Liebsch said to me? “What you have is a chronic illness, like diabetes. It will never go away, but it can be controlled and managed.” Well, it’s time to control the spot of tumor that has been on my neck since the beginning. So, here we go again… I need another, smaller surgery. Tentative date: November 6th, in RI. This is not an emergency. It’s just time. We’ve chosen Dr. Gokaslan, one… Read more

Jennifer’s Dragonflies

September 28, 2019

When I first heard the news of Jennifer Ridgeway’s passing, I went to the garden, to be surrounded by sunflowers, marigolds, and cosmos. As a river of memories rolled by, I heard a whirring sound and looked up. I noticed that I was not alone. More than a dozen dragonflies floated above me and the flowers. In almost every culture, dragonflies are a sign of change and transformation.  The dragonflies’ liquid-blue bodies flew in a… Read more

CTV Your Morning (Video)

August 19, 2019

Inspiring new memoir details reality of living through devastating tumour diagnosis Read more

Worry Fast

August 16, 2019

Intermittent fasting from food is all the rage. But have you ever tried a Worry Fast? Take a break from worrying and free up your mental energy. You’ll have more space to think of solutions, to be inspired creatively, or to learn dance steps! Worry used to be my secret, stupid, superpower. But not anymore. I find that short, concentrated efforts to break the habit of worrying stops the unhealthy pattern. I adapted this Worry… Read more

A Canoe Teaches Balance; Surrender Experiment Part II

August 16, 2019

In July, while I was on my Surrender Experiment, there were too many layers of uncertainty for me to handle with grace. Kurt was out of work and the kids were out of contact (at wilderness camp). Also, I was promoting the book with uncertain results, and I was waiting to hear if I’d made it into a clinical trial. Meanwhile, refugee children were being detained at the border in unspeakable conditions.  I felt way… Read more

My Surrender Experiment Part I

July 17, 2019

To surrender, I have to release my grip on the steering wheel of life. For thirty days, I’m practicing letting go and trusting life. Want to join me? We can start now, during this full moon, and go until the next full moon in August. I call it “The Surrender Experiment” after Michael Singer’s book by the same name.  The idea was born when I woke up angry one morning because nothing was going my… Read more

The Question that Makes a Tough Decision Easy

July 17, 2019

I accidentally discovered a great way to make a tough decision easy. I’ve never been good at making big decisions, until recently. One thing a life-altering illness teaches you is how to make a million decisions in a short amount of time, while facing enormous uncertainty.  Before, I used to take forever to decide anything because I wanted to be sure that I was making the right choice, especially if there were other people involved.… Read more

Book Tour Brave over Perfect Style

Book Tour Brave over Perfect Style

June 19, 2019

I had always heard that book tours were exciting, but exhausting. I wasn’t sure I was up for it. But it was important to thank our friends, living all across the country, for their encouragement and support on this journey. Determined to create a tour that gave me energy rather than deplete it, I made 3 golden rules. #1 Prioritize Joy.  Inspired by our musician friend Gideon Irving who performs in homes instead of bars, I decided… Read more

Fierce Joy Book Launch

Fierce Joy Book Launch

June 18, 2019

So many helping hands created the most magical night of my life. Thank you. We raised funds for MAIA and we danced until the next morning. Watch this 4 min video by Hudson Ratzlaff  Read more

real truth of publishing a book

The Real Truth About Publishing

June 17, 2019

I had been looking forward to my book launch day for years. I fantasized about it, actually. In one of my fantasies of life after publishing, I am sitting in a white leather chair across from an interviewer on TV when she asks, “How does it feel to be a published author?” Before responding, I lean back with all the relaxed confidence in the world. I take a sip of my mimosa and say, “It… Read more

"How do we banish the idea that we have to be perfect before we begin?"

Banish perfection

May 29, 2019

“How do we banish the idea that we have to be perfect before we begin?” –from Fierce Joy My memoir, Fierce Joy is now available!  It is everything I know about bravery as a woman, a partner, a parent, a leader, an athlete, an activist, and a brainstem tumor survivor. Reviewers say it’s fast-paced and beautiful and funny. I say, don’t forget that it’s a love story! This is the memoir I’ve been working on in the… Read more

Celebrate progress

Celebrate Progress

May 27, 2019

“Build a community that celebrates progress, not perfectionism. Ask yourself, then your colleagues and friends, “Where did you make progress today?” instead of “What did you get done today?” … Celebrate persistence, vulnerability, and contributions to the common good, not merely accomplishments.” –from Fierce Joy My memoir, Fierce Joy is now available!  It is everything I know about bravery as a woman, a partner, a parent, a leader, an athlete, an activist, and a brainstem… Read more

"The world doesn’t need us to be perfect; it just needs us to contribute to the common good."

The World Doesn’t Need Us to Be Perfect

May 25, 2019

“The world doesn’t need us to be perfect; it just needs us to contribute to the common good.” –from Fierce Joy My memoir, Fierce Joy is now available!  It is everything I know about bravery as a woman, a partner, a parent, a leader, an athlete, an activist, and a brainstem tumor survivor. Reviewers say it’s fast-paced and beautiful and funny. I say, don’t forget that it’s a love story! This is the memoir I’ve been working… Read more

The opposite of joy is not sadness; it's perfectionism

The Opposite of Joy

May 23, 2019

“There is nothing benign about believing we have to earn our value on the planet. The opposite of joy is not sadness; it’s perfectionism. I don’t mean the have-to-have-your-nails-done-to-go-to-the-store kind of perfectionism. What concerns me is the kind of perfectionism that says, “I’m so sure I’m going to be terrible, I won’t even try.” –from Fierce Joy My memoir, Fierce Joy is now available!  It is everything I know about bravery as a woman, a… Read more

Brave Over Perfect Photo and Cake Credit sallykeefe

Book Tour Updates

May 16, 2019

I’m going to be in NYC from May 29-June 2, Boston from June 2-5 and Toronto from July 26-30! Do you want to connect? I’d love to come and share all things Fierce Joy with you! What are the call letters of your favorite public radio station? Can you please share the name of a radio show that talks about happiness, wellness, or health? Are there any bookstores or cancer centers where I can read… Read more

Fierce Joy Book Launch

The Wait is Over!

May 15, 2019

The Wait is Over! Happy Launch Day!  We did it!  Fierce Joy is being born today. AVAILABLE NOW! Get your copy today! “The world needs us to be fierce enough to see challenges as gifts, to express our unique selves, and to expand the limits of what is possible. The only thing getting in the way is that we get stuck trying to find our way out of pain and discomfort. There is no way… Read more

Susie Rinehart, Anne Lamott, Fierce Joy

What Anne Lamott Told Me About Writing

May 14, 2019

While in the bay area, I was lucky enough to do a writing workshop with the great Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird, Operating Instructions…) Here are her 10 lessons on writing: Write badly for 20 min every day Nobody cares if you write another word. So YOU have to care Get a partner to read 4 pages every month. “A partner is like a birth coach.” Write what you love to come upon: Memoir? Fiction?… Read more

Free Download: How to be a Friend in a Crisis

Free Download: How to be a Friend in a Crisis

May 13, 2019

Your friend is in a really hard place. It could be heartbreak, a cancer diagnosis, a betrayal, a child is sick, a parent is dying, a legal mess, or they made a painful mistake. Whatever the reason, it is causing deep suffering. What do you do? When I received a terminal diagnosis, my family and friends pulled me through the unimaginable. Every person’s journey is different, but what all crises have in common is that… Read more

My mom, Marilyn French Caldwell

Here’s to Mom!

May 12, 2019

Here’s to Marilyn French Caldwell on Mother’s Day! A quick story: For my 16th birthday, Mom took me to see the tennis greats Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova play. When Steffi won, I assumed it was time to go home. Mom had a different idea. “Quick!” she said. “They’re signing autographs!” At courtside, Mom pushed me through a crowd of determined tennis fans. “Let her through!” Mom said, pushing harder. “What’s your name?” asked Steffi… Read more

When were you brave?

When were you brave?

May 10, 2019

What was the definition of perfect when you grew up? As in, how were you supposed to be? Tell me about a time when you chose brave instead. My forthcoming memoir, Fierce Joy is everything I know about bravery as a woman, a partner, a parent, a leader, an athlete, an activist, and a brainstem tumor survivor. My editors say it’s fast-paced and beautiful and funny. I say, don’t forget that it’s a love story. This is… Read more

Hidden Treasures! Prizes!

May 10, 2019

Somewhere hidden in the pages of Fierce Joy is a description of my homemade Gratitude Goddess. She holds the key to you winning some great prizes! What does my Gratitude Goddess hold in her four hands? If you pre-order the book, you’ll have a head start at finding her and figuring it out! When you answer this question on my website, you automatically enter to win great prizes. My forthcoming memoir, Fierce Joy is everything I know… Read more

The taste of voicelessness

The Taste of Voicelessness

May 8, 2019

“So this is the taste of voicelessness: bitter isolation, acidic futility, burning determination. I took my voice for granted. Never again.” –from Fierce Joy My forthcoming memoir, Fierce Joy is everything I know about bravery as a woman, a partner, a parent, a leader, an athlete, an activist, and a brainstem tumor survivor. My editors say it’s fast-paced and beautiful and funny. I say, don’t forget that it’s a love story. This is the memoir I’ve been… Read more

Finding my voice Susie Rinehart

Finding My Voice

May 7, 2019

“Usually, when the topic of using your voice is mentioned, it’s about permission. I feel lucky to be born in a time and place where I am free to speak out. But that doesn’t mean I have always known how to find my voice and how to use it to author my life. For too long, my voice has said what I think a good leader, a good wife, and a good mother should say.… Read more

Free Event: MAIA

Free Event: Catalyst Conversations

May 4, 2019

“What I’ve seen around the world is that once girls discover that their body is theirs, and that their voice is uniquely theirs, they speak up for their rights…When we teach vocal empowerment in Guatemala, the girls are thirteen. They don’t have a sense that their voice, or any part of their body, belongs to them. They don’t look up, and their voices barely rise above a whisper. But when they learn to use their… Read more

Praise Spring

Praise Spring

May 3, 2019

Praise sunlight, twelve whole hours of it, Praise cherry blossoms Praise Robin’s song Praise little hands That point out petals of crocus and tulip as we walk barefoot Praise Spring for sending up green shoots Even when they say it’s going to snow Even when the odds say don’t, Even when pavement is being poured, Spring doesn’t listen to anyone but itself. My forthcoming memoir, Fierce Joy is everything I know about bravery as a woman,… Read more

May is the month of joy

Your voice is the instrument that makes the music of your life

May 2, 2019

May is officially the month of Joy. I declare it. I’m even gonna change my name to Susie Wonder for the month, maybe forever. It just makes me happy. Do what makes you happy. This is our only chance to be alive as a human being with language, and with a voice… I learned this the hard way when brain surgery took my speaking voice for 4 months. I don’t want you to have to… Read more

I always wanted to be a writer by Susie Rinehart

Words of advice to my teenage self

May 1, 2019

I always wanted to be a writer. At 16, I wrote poems in hardcover journals. Then I shared my poetry with a boy I cared about. I hoped he would be kind. I thought, Maybe he’ll fall in love with me because of my words. Instead, he wrote in the margins of one of my poems, “If there is an original idea here, I can’t find it.” I stopped writing. I slid my hardcover journals… Read more

How to feel more you

April 30, 2019

“With the diagnosis, I worried, When will I lose my voice? But the real question became, When did I let it go? We unapologetically express ourselves when we are really young. Then we start lying. We lie to hide our struggles or we lie to please others. We lie when we pretend to be someone we are not. We lie when we curate our lives on social media. Gradually, by constantly lying, or at least… Read more

Notice how far you’ve come, not where everyone else is standing.

Notice how far you’ve come, not where everyone else is standing.

April 25, 2019

A life of comparing and competing has consequences. Instead of making us stronger, it can cause us to feel anxious. Take the long view; trust that you are exactly where you need to be now, becoming who you are meant to be, at your own pace. —Susie Rinehart, Fierce Joy This content appears in my forthcoming memoir, Fierce Joy.  It is everything I know about bravery as a woman, a partner, a parent, a leader, an athlete,… Read more

Free Download: Overcoming Perfectionism

Free Download: Overcoming Perfectionism

April 23, 2019

The Opposite of Joy is Perfectionism We are born with only two fears: the fear of falling and of loud noises. As we grow, our fears grow too. We worry about what we might lose, instead of what we might gain. We don’t think of ourselves as perfectionists, but we’re scared to try things that don’t guarantee us a positive outcome. As Brené Brown writes in Dare to Lead, “Healthy striving is self-focused. How can… Read more

Don't run from anger or fear, but feel them, deeply.

Don’t run from anger or fear, but feel them, deeply.

April 17, 2019

How can I raise my daughter to be brave if I am afraid of being anything less than perfect? The trick, I’m realizing, is not to run from anger or fear, but to feel them, deeply. Before, I thought I was brave because I pushed past pain. But bravery is facing fear, being vulnerable, and sitting in discomfort with anger. —Susie Rinehart, Fierce Joy This content appears in my forthcoming memoir, Fierce Joy.  It is everything I… Read more

Why I Wrote Fierce Joy

Video: Why I Wrote Fierce Joy

April 17, 2019

I hope you enjoy this short video about why I wrote Fierce Joy. It also describes the hidden treasure that leads to prizes for you! If you’ve already embarked on the treasure hunt, you can submit your answer here. Fierce Joy is everything I know about bravery as a woman, a partner, a parent, a leader, an athlete, an activist, and a brainstem tumor survivor. My editors say it’s fast-paced and beautiful and funny. I… Read more

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

April 16, 2019

I believe that we are capable of so much more than we think. But we’re scared as sh** sometimes. Fear is just part of the process of doing something new. We need to feel it, drop stories attached to it, and step through it. —Susie Rinehart, Fierce Joy This content appears in my forthcoming memoir, Fierce Joy.  It is everything I know about bravery as a woman, a partner, a parent, a leader, an athlete, an activist,… Read more

Fierce Joy by Susie Caldwell Rinehart

T-Minus One Month to Book Launch!

April 15, 2019

I CANNOT believe it, but my book, Fierce Joy ships one month from today. Huge thanks to everyone who has already reached out to me, pre-ordered it, and shared it with their friends. Pre-orders are very meaningful for authors, particularly newcomers like me. Please continue to spread the good word as we lead up to launch day. I am humbled by your enthusiasm and support. #fiercejoy is out May 15. You can pre-order here: www.susierinehart.com/fierce-joy. Read more

Help Me Plan My Book Launch!

April 10, 2019

We’re in the beginning phases of planning my Gratitude Book Launch tour and need your help! I’ll be in the Bay Area May 8-12, New York May 29-June 2 and Boston June 3-5. Can any of my amazing friends or followers help me secure public venues for a reading or speaking gig? Think out of the box and BEYOND bookstores (as they seem to be all booked solid). If you have an in or ideas… Read more

Letter to my daughter…You don’t need to prove your worth

February 10, 2019

Dear Daughter, You are ten years old as I write this letter, meant for you to read as a young woman. This is your map to self. This is your map to safety. At ten, you talk to flowers, pose questions to the moon, go on brave adventures, and make up songs. Your lyrics are often about finding your way. When you are lost, unfold this letter and find yourself. Find me, too, holding your… Read more

Risk the Wildest Places

February 3, 2019

This morning, like every morning, I chose a random Mary Oliver poem to read. Today I stumbled on “Magellan.” And because I was procrastinating from the scary work of sending out my book for review, I searched Magellan on History.com. I read about his epic voyage around the world, how his slave, Enrique, might be the real, first person to circumnavigate the globe, and how Magellan died before reaching his goal. Mostly I was speechless… Read more

I’m alive because of Mary Oliver writing, “There is nothing more pathetic than caution.”

January 21, 2019

High winds, full moon, pen and poetry in hand, we head out. It’s the only way I know to honor the poet who gave me a deep love of all seasons. So that’s just what my friend Emma and I do. Long ago, I was Emma’s English teacher, introducing her to the poet, Mary Oliver, who passed on January 17th. I taught my students her poems because I wanted them to go forward knowing “You… Read more

Is Clarity Overrated? Try “Scared as sh**, but moving forward anyway.”

January 18, 2019

We pray for clarity, do juice cleanses for it, and beat ourselves up over our lack of it. We feel the pressure for clarity this time of year when everyone is making goals and shedding bad habits. We act as if clarity is a thing that we cannot move forward without, like a car engine or, shoes. But clarity is not a thing; it’s a process. When a friend asks about your plans for the… Read more

A New Year’s Ritual Without Resolutions

December 30, 2018

If you had a tough 2018, I hear you. Let’s close the book and celebrate that we’re here now, with a brand new year ahead. This New Year’s, I am borrowing a ritual from Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love & Big Magic. She creates a small ceremony every New Year’s Day to reflect on the past year and start fresh in the new one. Find some quiet. Light a candle. Write down… Read more

When Holiday Spirit Spirals into Holiday Stress

December 11, 2018

I need to be at two recitals and a holiday event right now. I have stress about time, money, and not having enough of either. I am driving too fast to one of the recitals, trying to “win” a traffic jam by changing lanes a lot. My holiday spirit can quickly spiral into holiday stress. The world tells us to do it all, buy it all, and be it all for everyone. We want to… Read more

How to write a book (or finish any big project) in 30 minutes at a time

November 21, 2018

Before, my secret way to write was to procrastinate forever then to work in frantic, uneven bursts; I insisted that I needed big chunks of time and a clean desk in order to write. I thought it was the only way to be inspired, and to find flow. But since my surgeries, I have a fraction of the energy I used to have. If I was going to write a book and start a business,… Read more

The Sex Talk I Never Got, For My 15-yr-old Son

October 17, 2018

I want to talk about intimacy and sex with you. At school, you’ll get lectures about protection and diseases. Good. And yet, sex is not just about love and babies, or herpes and condoms, but about mutual respect, and curiosity. You may feel like you are supposed to know what to do before getting intimate with someone. You may want to show up perfect. But the point of intimacy is exploration and freedom, not perfection. Everyone… Read more

Our Infinite Impact; Our Chance to Invest in the Empowerment of Women Globally

September 22, 2018

If you’ve come to help me, don’t waste your time. But if you know your liberation is bound up with mine, then let’s work together. I believe in the truth of this message from indigenous activist, Lilla Watson. My work with Her Infinite Impact has made me braver, happier, and more resilient. This is the one post I will write a year to encourage you to invest in the empowerment and education of girls globally through Starfish; Her Infinite Impact.… Read more


The Days of Awe; A Poem for You

September 9, 2018

Today, I headed to the nearest ditch with water in it and a bag of stale bread. I asked, What do I want to let go of from last year? What do I need to do differently, if anything, to be my true self? Then I tossed the bread into the flow, naming each crumb after behaviors I’d rather not repeat this year: worrying, doubting, hustling, yelling, judging, hesitating, playing small…This is a tradition I… Read more

How to Strengthen your Marriage; Send the Kids to Camp

July 30, 2018

Since the kids left for camp three weeks ago, I’ve done laundry once. I haven’t yet turned on the oven. I cooked one large batch of red-lentil curry and we have been eating that every day. When I clean the house, it’s still clean the next day. Phone chargers and scissors stay where I put them. There are no arguments about screens and bathrooms. Our home feels less like a train station and more like… Read more

I did something scary for my birthday

July 26, 2018

I am thrilled to share my recent talk from TEDx Boulder in June. Grab some popcorn for an 8 min ride! I always do something scary for my birthday, but usually it involves running a race over high mountain passes. This time, the mountain I had to climb was facing my fears and 1,500+ people, to tell my story. I never expected what happened. The energy that night was so incredible and positive that I want… Read more

College Reunion Anxiety & What I Learned by Going

June 13, 2018

Why was I so nervous? I hadn’t been a terrible person or horrible student in college. But I couldn’t shake the worry about returning to my small college in New England for our twenty-fifth-year reunion. Maybe the doubt came from shouldering all the insecurities of my twenty-year old self PLUS the new ones of my middle-aged self. Did I belong? Had I achieved enough? Will I look wrinkly and tired? Maybe it was because twenty-five years ago, I… Read more

The Loneliness of the Injured Distance Runner

June 1, 2018

“You’re breaking my heart! Can’t you run on another street? I’m injured!” That’s what I want to shout to the runners who innocently stride by our house. Instead I wave half-heartedly. Like anyone who has been injured or who has had to redefine themselves after they could no longer do a sport they loved, I feel a mix of envy and sadness when they run past me. I too want to be training for something… Read more

Super Simple Tips for Positive Change

April 28, 2018

We’ve spent hours making piles of clothes, books, and things in the house. The piles represent the stuff we want to toss, give away, or keep. Spring is the season of decluttering. While I don’t love the mess, I love the feeling when it’s done; I feel more relaxed, clear, and joyful when there is less stuff to cloud my view. A friend of mine is also doing a detox to clean out winter’s heavy wine… Read more


March 15, 2018

We sat side by side on our couch, enthusiastically cheering for opposite teams during the gold medal Women’s hockey game. I was screaming at the Canadian women, “Set up and SCORE!” My husband, Kurt, was chanting “USA! USA!” I am competitive. I am also Canadian, born and raised in Toronto. My husband is American, born and raised in Des Moines. Neither of us likes to lose. But for some reason, his rooting for a different… Read more

The Solution is Not Self-Help

February 19, 2018

I should have sent this post out before Valentine’s Day. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I should be more focused. What’s wrong with me? Earlier, I passed a neighbor in the grocery store and she looked at me strangely. I immediately went to the first seven things I must have done wrong. Am I wearing pants? Did I not respond to an email? Was I supposed to pick up her daughter? Did I forget her birthday? Is… Read more

I follow Ben Franklin’s morning routine. Here’s why.

January 22, 2018

When I think about the future, it’s tempting to think we’re going to hell in a handbasket. But I’d be wrong. There are innumerable ways to make the world better. One is to start the day with a morning routine that asks a powerful question. Humans have always felt that the good days are behind them and the times they are living in must be the worst. Ask the mothers of the middle ages when… Read more

Murder, Mystery, & Magic

January 8, 2018

I am a big fan of mystery and magic. I want our children to grow up unafraid of the unknown, even relishing it. When my daughter asked me to write a murder mystery birthday party for 12 of her closest friends, I responded too quickly, “Of course!” Here is a brave over perfect opportunity! I’ve never written a murder mystery. I’ve never been to a murder mystery party. And the last time I watched “Murder… Read more

One Realistic Goal for 2018

December 22, 2017

I’m going to spend the year with Mary Oliver’s poetry. What can her words teach me about how to live? They remind me to slow down and look. Notice the hawk, but also the cold stones, and winter’s weeds. I believe attention is a form of prayer. So does Mary Oliver: It doesn’t have to be the blue iris, it could be weeds in a vacant lot; just pay attention, then patch a few words… Read more

Why Guadalupe Reigns in my World

December 12, 2017

Today is Hazel’s birthday. It is December 12th, the day Mexicans show their devotion to the Virgin Mary, known to them as La Virgen de Guadalupe. Pilgrimages, parades, and dazzling fireworks are broadcast live throughout the country. Up until this moment, I was too chicken to say that I pray to Guadalupe because it sounds like I am saying I pray to guacamole. I also thought my intellectual friends would smile politely, but never speak… Read more

Dance with me

Stressed about the Holidays? Just Beat It.

December 4, 2017

Today I danced behind a tiny nun and a married couple in their eighties, wearing matching tank tops. Real people, not costumes. How did I get here? The other day I confessed to my friend Lisa that I wanted to beat holiday stress, and my tension around budget meetings with my husband, plus upcoming doctor appointments. She suggested I dance. I have always loved dancing. When I was in my twenties and thirties and someone… Read more

Do What Matters

November 21, 2017

I am home after two weeks traveling in Guatemala. A year ago, when I was recovering from multiple skull surgeries, I swore that one day I would return to the land of chocolate, coffee, and cardamom, and bring people I love there with me. My doctor told me that it wasn’t a priority. But I knew that it was. I want to do what matters with people who matter to me. I spent one week… Read more

How to be a kid again

How To Be a Kid Again

October 31, 2017

Recently, some of my friends with older children were lamenting that the days of trick-or-treating are over for them. But why? Does it have to end when you turn a certain age? My friend Deb doesn’t think so. Last year, she put on a wolf mask and a fake fur coat and went out on Halloween. “When you’re 5’2,” she told me, “you can trick-or-treat forever.” I love Halloween. But my appreciation for it really… Read more

What Does it Mean to be Brave Over Perfect?

October 29, 2017

Susie: In the summer of 2016, when I received some horrible news about my health, I sent my family camping and sat on my bed for two days, spinning in thoughts of despair and sorrow. “I’m going to die and never see my children grow up. I’ll never write a book. We’ll go broke.” After 48 hours of fighting like Muhammad Ali against my diagnosis, I did something radical. I asked, “What if I accept… Read more

Dear Little Susie

October 16, 2017

(A letter to self to burn off fear and worry) Dear Little Susie, Baby girl, you can’t live like this, full of fear and feelings of inadequacy. I get it. There are times when you don’t feel like the world is a safe place. And all you want is for everything to be alright. You just want everyone to be happy. When your father moved out and went away, you thought, if I am less… Read more

30 days of facing the unknown

30 Days of Facing the Unknown

October 10, 2017

I post these entries as a form of thank you; your words have nourished me. May mine give you back some of that love. In my life, I choose expression over rumination and worry. These 30 days mark a significant time for which I am grateful: before and after the multiple surgeries to remove a skull-base tumor. These musings are intended to honor the end of that time and the beginning of a second phase:… Read more

Balance Schmalance

October 9, 2017

I was off-balance all week. I celebrated the elegant evenness of the equinox by throwing up all over a neighbor’s garden. The nausea was caused by the radiation, but the feeling of being off-balance was caused by my expectations that it was going to be different. I imagined that I would spend eight weeks in Boston receiving treatments, yes, but also going for long walks and scribbling deep thoughts in my journal. I thought maybe… Read more

Women Working for Goodness

September 27, 2017

How would you score on the U.S. Citizenship test? Here are a few sample questions: What is the “rule of law”? If the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President? We elect a senator for how many years? What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment? Name your U.S. Representative How did you do? *(Answers at the bottom.) To become a U.S. citizen, you can miss one, but… Read more


The Days of Awe

September 18, 2017

The Days of Awe are the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The idea is to stop, look around, and reflect. What do you want to let go of from last year? Who do you want to be in the New Year? I am not Jewish. Some of my former students call me Jew- “ish” because I like the traditions and ceremonies. As a teacher, it makes sense to me to celebrate the New… Read more

Plan? What Plan?

September 1, 2017

I have been having a tough time trusting in the unknown. A vacation broke me of that fear. This is the story of how our recent trip to Mexico had no plan. Normally, Kurt and I work full time and the only difference between summer and not summer is the kids are not awake before we go to work. This year was different. It felt important to do something together as a family to mark… Read more

What do Eclipses & Back-to-School Have in Common?

September 1, 2017

I do not like transitions. I would much rather be in something tough than on my way into it. The wind up to back-to-school and the wind up to the solar eclipse made me realize that I am way more comfortable with difficult than uncertainty. Our daughter is headed to middle school. Recently, I took her school-supply shopping with her friend. When it came time to choose backpacks and binders, her friend was excited, “Ooooh!… Read more

Love & Business: Ode to Dad

August 21, 2017

Let me tell you about my Dad. I always thought he looked like Steve Austin, “The Six-Million Dollar Man.” Remember the show? He was the handsome pilot rescued from a plane crash and re-built with a bionic eye that was like a 20:1 zoom lens, one bionic arm, and two bionic legs. I was sure that my Dad had similar powers. I had a healthy fear of him, born from his ability to spot Bigfoot… Read more

Mama and me

The mother I wanted; the mother I got

August 17, 2017

When I was younger, I wanted a mother who was sweet and nurturing, who baked cookies, and who welcomed my friends with cheerful holiday decorations. What I got was a mother who raised us well, but without softness, and who baked so rarely that she kept a heavy chair in front of our oven door. On Halloween, she turned off the lights and left a bowl of toothbrushes on the front step. At Christmas, she… Read more

Dear Cole on your 13th birthday

August 7, 2017

*written the day I went into 36-hours of surgery including 2 craniotomies. I came out of surgery the night of my son’s birthday. Dear Cole, When you were three years old, we went for a walk along the muddy banks of the Connecticut River in Lyme, New Hampshire. It was raining and we watched the swallows feed off the recently-hatched bugs on the surface of the water. You identified raccoon tracks in the mud and… Read more

Feeling Edgy, Full of Rage

June 24, 2017

Recently, I woke up full of rage and I had no idea what to do with it. I angry-cleaned the coffee grounds out of the sink. (Angry-cleaning. Verb. To make loud, banging noises and grumble bad words under your breath while scrubbing or vacuuming or generally tidying up.) I yelled at our son to get out of the bathroom so I could get in. Then I sulked around my husband because he didn’t understand a… Read more

What Now? How to win this thing!

January 23, 2017

(Scroll down for great resources.) The photos of the march in New Delhi, India hit me the most. Thousands of women, inspired by the March on Washington, flooded the streets, holding signs that said, “I will go out!” They were demanding safe public spaces. They wanted to walk home without being harassed or raped. Courage is contagious. A woman using her voice to stand up for what she believes inspires countless women to use their… Read more

What Kind of Nation Are We?

January 16, 2017

What direction do we want to move in? Tomorrow, in the United States, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. I want to share with you two short videos and three questions as a quick lesson to do with your family. (Once a teacher, always a teacher 🙂 The two videos: Martin Luther King Jr. “To The Mountaintop” speech (final 2 min) Bobby Kennedy announcing the death of Martin Luther King Jr. (6 min-edited) The… Read more

Art and Science of a Nap

The Art & Science of the Nap

January 7, 2017

A nap is a thing of beauty. World peace is within reach. All we have to do is nap. It’s the most underused, powerful tool for self-care and work productivity. There’s science behind this. My doctors told me that short naps, between ten and twenty minutes, do more for lessening anxiety and improving focus than caffeine or even adding an hour of sleep at night. Increasingly, companies are creating special napping areas to give their… Read more

Voice Lesson

Voice Lesson

December 21, 2016

I had my first voice lesson on Friday. My teacher was trained as an opera singer, then lost her voice, and her career. “I learned a lot from my training, but I learned more from having to find my voice again,” she told me. We sat in her small office downtown. There wasn’t much in the room except for a piano and a giant jungle gym for cats. Her cat couldn’t have cared less about… Read more


How to Cure Nightmares

November 14, 2016

At three a.m, our ten-year-old daughter Hazel came into our room. I couldn’t see her in the dark, but I could hear her short, shallow breathing and her shaking voice. “Mama, I can’t sleep. I had a really bad dream,” she said. Hazel was born with a huge imagination. It is a blessing and a curse. She can visualize forests where butterflies bind together to protect the woods. She can also picture bad men with… Read more

Tumor Can’t Take My Voice

November 4, 2016

Last week I learned I have a tumor at the base of my skull that is slowly taking over my brain stem. “First, your tongue will go numb. Then you’ll lose your voice,” said my doctor in the same matter-of-fact tone that he might have said, “First your appetizer will arrive. Then you’ll get your salad.” At 45 years old, I was, up until this moment, medically “boring.” No health or genetic history of any… Read more

What a Bad Day Looks Like

September 15, 2016

Tuesday at Mass General hospital in Boston was supposed to be a long day, but an easy one. All I had to do was have pictures taken of how things looked inside my skull and neck with a CT scan and an MRI, nothing I hadn’t done at least several times before. In fact, the night before when I struggled to get a good night’s sleep I thought, “It’s Ok, I can nap inside the… Read more

Your Faces

August 13, 2016

Do you know what I thought about when I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit after 34+ hours of brain surgery? Nothing really, but it’s what I saw that astounded me. For two days and two nights in the ICU, I saw nothing but the faces of people I loved on every wall, on every surface, in each fold of fabric. I saw my mother’s face in the stream of light coming through the… Read more

In A Dark Time the Eye Begins to See

July 14, 2016

So begins a poem by Theodore Roethke (pr. Ret-ke) that I used to teach. In a simple classroom on a farm in Vermont, we sat around a large maple table, reading the lines out loud together. We did this on the anniversary of 9-11. We pulled out the poem again when one of my students was paralyzed in a bike accident, and again when a faculty member’s brother died. It was a tradition born in… Read more

Terrorists or Neurosurgeons?

July 5, 2016

“You know what I think when I see a muslim man in the airport?” my husband Kurt asked me as we waited in the security line at the Phoenix airport. “What?” I looked around nervously, wondering where this might be going. “Neurosurgeon,” Kurt said, and smiled. Kurt and I have spent the last two weeks in airports and in doctors offices across the country. When I first received my diagnosis of a skull-base tumor, I… Read more

Brave Over Perfect

April 3, 2016

I come from a long line of strong women. My mother’s mother taught me how to hold a shovel, my father’s mother taught me how to hold a cigarette. People called me tough, independent, and smart. It was a great childhood, and for that I am truly grateful, but I was ultimately clueless when it came to making big decisions about relationships, love, work, and spirit. No one taught me how to be curious about… Read more