The Words We Don’t Speak

When it comes to voicing our love and appreciation for the people in our lives, how much goes unsaid?  Why is it that we go years without telling people how we genuinely feel about them and how much light they bring to our lives? I’ve experienced some heartbreaking losses in my relatively short time on earth….an uncle to stomach cancer, a good friend to suicide, a grandfather to a stroke, and the list goes on. But the one regret I had across all of them, was that I didn’t get to tell them just how much they genuinely gave me strength, support, and love in my life.

Why do we wait until it’s too late before we give voice to the love stirring in our hearts? Is it laziness? Do we just assume they already know? Do we think it’s not worth our breath?  I suppose it’s human nature to always think “there will be a next time”….until there isn’t. The philosopher Seneca said,

“You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.”

We are not immortal, and there’s no guarantee you nor your loved ones will be around to hear the words “YOU ARE LOVED.”

I intimately know how short and unpredictable life can be, and probably a big reason I live the way I do. However, there is one practice I’ve started to integrate into my life that has changed how I connect with people – friends and strangers alike – and that’s to always take a moment to directly tell them how much I appreciate them. It takes such little effort on our part but could mean so much to the other person. Speaking your truth and spreading love directly into the hearts of the people we care about has an immediate and lasting effect.

Here’s an easy way you can integrate this practice in your life: When something triggers a thought about a loved one (no matter how random), call/text them to say that you’re thinking of them and share specifically why you appreciate the friendship/relationship. I believe these random thoughts are not random at all, but the universe or our subconscious nudging us to connect. Everyone is living their own struggle, and your words could be the light that gives them strength in a moment of need.

Your words are powerful, use it to cultivate love and connection to those around you.

3 Best Gifts of Presence (Not Presents)

As families gather and friends reunite this special time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday buzz of gifts, Christmas movie marathons, and enjoying one too many glasses of mulled wine. I’ve been there: I fly home a few days before Christmas, and in a whirl of social catch-ups and a flurry of last-minute shopping and gift wrapping later, I find myself back on the plane with a massive credit card bill, 10 lbs of extra weight from one too many Christmas dinners, and the distinct feeling I didn’t get quite enough quality time with everyone I wanted.

When it comes to holiday gatherings (or any reunions for that matter), are we actually lacking the greatest gift of all – being genuinely and fully present with those we love?

I’m not telling you NOT to give gifts, especially if it’s meaningful and comes from a place of love. I’ve just come to realize how much of our limited time during the holidays is actually spent completely distracted.

Here’s a true story: one year our family went away to Utah for some hiking and skiing – the whole family including cousins, aunts, uncles, and even grandma was there! However, due to demands of my crazy start-up job and my own addiction to my phone, I spent the majority of the time working by myself on my laptop, texting friends, and mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. To this day, I regret not being more present in the moment and sharing more amazing memories with my family.

Instead of giving my family my full attention and presence, I’ve squandered a chance to deeply connect.

Here are the 3 simple things to do to stay more present this holiday season:

Presence Tip #1: Put Your Phone Away!


I know it seems deceptively simple, but when you meet your friends or family for a meal or a catch-up, put your phone on airplane mode. Do not put it on the table, put it away and out of sight (in another room or in your bag). Studies show that even the visual cue of seeing your phone could take your attention away from the present situation. By putting your phone away, you’re honoring your time with the other person and signaling that you value and prioritize the relationship.

Presence Tip #2: Actively Listen


Part of being present is to fully listen to the other person. This is something I struggle with. When I’m excited, I tend to blurt out everything on my mind, and don’t give pause to really listen to them. I make it a point to ask more questions about them, and try to listen to what they’re saying between the checklist of updates. Are they happy about something? Struggling with something? Where is there an opportunity to connect and be a good friend/daughter/sister?

Presence Tip #3: Live as Though Social Media Didn’t Exist


How many times have you heard this phrase, “picture, or it didn’t happen”? Our need to constantly document everything can be exhausting. How often has the flow of conversation and energy been interrupted because of an awkward photo, a need to craft the perfect caption, or checking our likes? When we’re spending time with our loved ones, let’s try a bold experiment – try NOT documenting! (Gasp!) It seems crazy, but once you remove the pressure of social media documentation, you’ll find yourself settling into a much more authentic and relaxed flow. It’s ok to let go!


I hope these mindful tips will help you connect more deeply with those you love this holiday season (and always!). Tell me, have you tried any of the above? Let me know below.



Sending lots of love and energy, and happy holidays!



Don’t be Thankful, Do This Instead

Before you think I’ve gone completely insane by asking you not to be thankful (it is Thanksgiving after all), hear me out. It’s so easy to feel thankful when you’re surrounded by friends and family, on holiday, or when all is going great in your life. According to the definition of “thankful”, the word means “pleased and relieved”, which in my interpretation means a word associated with a reactionary feeling. It’s a passive thing to feel “thankful”, and doesn’t demand much effort on your end to feel thankfulness, especially on a day that almost requires you to feel this emotion.

On the flip side, “gratefulness” is defined as “showing an appreciation of kindness.” It’s not just a reaction, but an active response to an act of kindness that requires more than just a knee-jerk reaction of “thankfulness”.

My wish for all you today is to actively carry the act of gratefulness in your heart rather than blindly celebrating “thankfulness”. Be actively grateful for all the kindness you’ve been shown in your life to allow you to live the way you do today. Be actively grateful for the kindness of friends, strangers, and family members who have paved the way for your life. Do not passively show “thankfulness” and merely be “pleased and relieved” for this one wonderous life you’ve been given. Hold gratefulness in your heart today. Hug your family members, tell your friends you love them, and be grateful for each and every amazing soul you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, as they are the ones who shape and influence your life. Today is just one day, but gratefulness can last the other 364 days of the year.

Who or what are you grateful for today?

Life is a Sand Mandala

Years ago, I witnessed my first sand mandala ceremony. What exactly is a sand mandala? A Tibetan Buddhist tradition, sand mandalas involve painstakingly placing millions of colored sand grains into intricate geometric “paintings”. After spending days or weeks to complete the beautiful design, the monks deliberately destroy the mandala to meditate on the impermanence of life. Continue reading “Life is a Sand Mandala”