I’m a writer. ultrarunner. educator. mom. I dive into discomfort, and dwell in the land of possibility, beyond fear.
My favorite book growing up was Charlotte’s Web. I wanted to be Fern when she stopped her father from lowering the axe on innocent Wilbur. More, I wanted to be Charlotte, saving a life with the power of words: Some pig! Radiant. Humble.
I have been writing and trying to save lives ever since. But I was too much of a perfectionist to share it with anyone. Then I received some surprising news.
On June 30, 2016, I was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive tumor on my brain stem. “Without surgery,” my doctor said, “You have less than five months to live.” With multiple, complicated surgeries, I could recover fully in time. But there were big risks.
When I received a diagnosis of a rare, brainstem tumor, my life pivoted, and a whole new adventure began.
I did what I knew how to do, I wrote. I wanted to put down on paper the stories and lessons I’d learned in my life for my children. What do I wish I had known about love, work, spirit, and success? Our ordinary lives didn’t leave much room for extraordinary conversations, but I felt an urgency to pass on whatever wisdom I could from what had been so far a magnificent life.
What began as a letter to my children became a memoir, Fierce Joy, now a bestseller.
One theme emerged. I had spent too much time in life trying to be good, to get it right, to please others, and to keep pain and struggle at bay.
Would we live differently, parent differently, if we let go of control and believed that everything we needed was with us right now?
Before this moment, I was a school leader, a teacher, and a mentor. I also directed an organization that took Malia Obama to Bolivia on a gap year. I served as the Dalai Lama’s tour guide on a visit to the U.S. I competed in ultramarathons at the Masters level and won several acclaimed races. I was one of ten leaders of a girls’ empowerment movement in Latin America. I was good at striving for goals and checking off achievements. But I was depressed and anxious. And I didn’t tell anyone I was struggling. Facing death forced me to rethink my perfectionism, my voice, and redefine bravery.
The diagnosis sparked the question, “If you make it through this, how are you going to live?” I wrote down in response, “In my life, I choose joy over fear, and brave over perfect.”
The world doesn’t need us to be perfect. It just needs us to contribute to the common good. Brave over Perfect is about radically accepting ourselves and things as they are, and moving boldly forward anyway.
After two massive craniotomies, a neck fusion, and months of daily, proton-beam radiation therapy, the tumor is inactive and I am thriving. And I am ready to serve.
With twenty-three years experience as an educator and consultant, I am now trained as a Martha Beck life coach. I work with individuals and organizations to proactively pursue risk, abandon perfectionism and anxiety, and go for bold impact with more ease and power.
Most importantly, I get to live and share adventures with these guys, my family, in Boulder, CO.