There is Something Good

I believe there is something good in everything. We might not always recognize what goodness is hidden in the moment, but usually we can see it when we allow ourselves to open up to the possibility of hidden nuggets behind our own perceptions, if we can pause to focus and be grateful for what is right despite the injustices that we feel.

Last week at dinner, Charlie was struggling to see the good in his big brother. He kept using BIG words like always, never, every time, and so forth to describe the behaviors that were bugging him. He was rightfully frustrated and kept labeling his experiences with these words. He wasn’t feeling so good and I sensed a downward spiral that I didn’t like.

I wanted to teach him empathy. I wanted to teach him to see the good despite the struggle. I wanted to teach him that things aren’t always as bad as they seem. I wanted to teach him gratitude for all that is good and to recognize the conflict that was creating such frustration for him.  I wanted to protect him as he slung angry words so that he could hear the real, important message and I wanted to validate his feelings despite being frustrated and I didn’t want to react to his negative reactions. I wanted to help manage expectations. This was a complicated challenge and I was thankful for our family dinner time to be together and to work through the conflict so that we could get back to our roots.

At first it was hard to hear each other. Charlie taught me 7-11, the mindfulness technique to slow down and breathe for seven seconds and then blow out for eleven seconds. We practice this together when conversations start to get heated. I like to be as close to neutral as possible with our emotions so that we can hear each other and negotiate a fair solution. Eventually we got there. He was frustrated and expressed his concerns. I listened. And then I shared with him a story about how I used to label people a certain way when they frustrated me. I told him that the more I called someone something mean, the meaner they became. They lived up to my expectation and I was successful at not liking them, but I was sad because I loved them and wanted to like them. I didn’t like creating monsters from my perceptions and I had to fight against the labels to make the monsters go away. I had to see the good in them when I didn’t want to, and I had to keep fighting to see their value instead of what bugged me. I told him instead of seeing what was wrong with the other person, I tried to find 5 things I liked about them despite the things that bugged me. It worked. It works every time with those I wish to have positive relations because I choose to focus on the good so that I can scare the monsters away and catch them being great.  I challenged Charlie.

I asked him to think about what he liked about his big brother and to share with us 5 things. He was mad at me and I pushed him a little harder. He chose sarcasm as his weapon. His first response was that he liked his brother because he was a boy. His second response was that he was tall. I told him that these didn’t count. He had to use his imagination to think of what things his brother did that he really enjoyed. And then he practiced 7-11 and began again, because he knew he had to answer eventually and he really doesn’t like long, drawn out conversations over dinner. As he began, he shared really nice things such as his brother letting him in his room, and how his brother lets him play Minecraft with him, and how he lets him hang out with his friends. And as he shared, his tone began to change. He started to believe himself and he was right. He liked the things that were good more than he didn’t like the things that were wrong. He was able to see that his brother wasn’t always, never, ever and etcetera.  He saw the good. This created a connection and both boys were content.  Apologies were shared for the actions that created the conflict and resolutions were made.

This took time. It wasn’t easy. Yet we took the time to listen, to validate, to redirect, to be empathetic, to hear each other and to not be defensive. We protected each other and avoided accusations and instead used words such as “I don’t like it when…” and “I feel… when you…” and it was no longer feelings of personal attacks and people feeling like they had to hold on to their positions. It was actually pretty cool. Our family focus is on connections and not conflict and to love one another despite any struggles. We kept bringing the conversation back to the center and the end result was success and we picked up where we left off and cleared the dishes.

So fast forward to today when after school, the boys chose to play basketball together and Charlie let his big brother be the coach that he wanted to be. The two played and enjoyed each other’s company and I was proud of their connection.

Wishing you the power to always find connections despite the conflicts you are faced and the strength to persevere.  There’s always something good.


The Family Dinner

I LOVE the family dinner. I fight for this time and try to do whatever I can to make this a nightly routine, despite our hectic schedules. It doesn’t always work out and then I resort to the family breakfast, but that’s even more chaotic at 6:45 a.m.

Right now I’m holding on and don’t want to let go. I want us all together, in our safe little cocoon, together for the 15 -30 minutes that it lasts. I value this time of us all being together, doing the same thing at the same time. That is peaceful to me.

I skipped volunteering this afternoon so that I could have dinner cooked and prepared for when we all got home from our activities, as we had a full day. I had plastic, reusable containers filled with Mexican food ready to take out of the refrigerator and reheat when we could gather again.  While the food was warming, we worked together to set the table and fill drink glasses, and finished washing the pots and pans and emptying the dishwasher – multitasking and checking off the chore list before the next round of work began and doing it together.

We all assembled our plates and brought them to the table and then we held hands in a circle across the table and said a brief prayer. We were connected. We stood still and held each other for 30 seconds, while we expressed gratitude for all that is good and for healing for all that is bad.  We shared a few stories, a few laughs, a few disciplinary recommendations, and enjoyed each other and the comfort that the food and family time provided.

I chose to be late to my meeting, so that I could sit around the table with the most important people in my life. I am choosing to be present and to not be busy, even when I am.

We need to slow down and be present, even when it feels like we can’t.

Make the time, BeLoveRs. How will you choose to slow down and enjoy your loved ones this week?


I am thankful

The Nest


I feel like I’ve come back to the nest.

Juliana made this origami crane diorama of my family, which I love. Made me thankful for this nest my parents created and tended for us.

My parents still live in the same house I grew up in 40+ years ago. It is comforting to come back here to the same place, in the same town, and to drive around the city to see what has changed and what has stayed the same and to see my family and friends.

Here we are driving to The Infamous Oaks Mall.

The Oaks Mall is a big deal in this small, sleepy town. I just liked wandering around with the girls and trying on clothes and grabbing some lunch together.

I love that my mom and dad are so welcoming and loving and that they like to entertain. My cousin Laurie and her family came over for dinner, and my friend Jeni and her family joined all of us too.

Even my brother was here so all my siblings were together and all the grand kids too which made me smile and laugh.


I love my crazy family and that we all took the time to be together for a few hours. We are a crazy, fun loving bunch, quirks and all, perfectly imperfect.


Life is good! Thanks for having us all for dinner tonight Mama and Pops.

What does your family do when they get together? Are you crazy, loving and silly like us too? I hope so!! 🙂

Not Busy and the SLO Life


I’m living the SLO Life… that’s my new motto… to slow down and not be so busy.

I used to live in SLO town – San Luis Obispo, California and it truly felt like that. There weren’t any drive through restaurants. They wanted people to not be in such a hurry. Stores closed early and it was a sleepy college town. On Thursdays, the downtown turned into a Farmers Market and the students and families and townspeople would gather and stroll and visit and socialize. It was so much fun. There was a sense of calm to the city that I love and miss.

But I’m bringing the feeling back to Sunnyvale. I’m living the SLO life and slowing down, if that’s even possible. I just don’t want to be busy just to be busy. I don’t want to be bored and I also don’t want to be running around from task to task, responsibility to responsibility, from practice to practice, from meeting to meeting. It’s kinda like the feeling you get with clutter, where you need to free some open space because every nook and cranny is stuffed… that’s how I feel with life. I need some more open minutes to breathe and rest and to have more meaningful time without the rush.

I’m still busy and don’t think I can ever sit really still, but I’m slowing down my way, by not trying to do 101 things at once. For example, today I went to yoga and then to the Asian market to gather special ingredients to cook some new Thai dishes that I’ve never made before. I wanted to learn something new and make Rad Na, a dish that my kids love. I wanted to spoil them and make a family meal.

This brings me joy. That was it. That was all I really had to do today. I cooked a couple new dishes and cleaned up all the mess. I had a list that had several other items on it, but nothing else was really a priority.

By having open space on my calendar and by being home, I had time to talk with my mom on the phone for an hour. I wasn’t busy. I could cook and wash dishes and chat. It was an unexpected gift.

This afternoon when I picked the kids up from school, the house was orderly and I had time to sit and listen about their day. I was able to help Charlie focus on his homework and sit next to him and read. When he was tired and feeling sick and not wanting to go to soccer practice, I let him be. And we sat longer on the couch and read and snuggled. Because he said I liked doing that. I wasn’t busy. I wasn’t rushed. I wasn’t pushing him. And the space created peace and rest.

Juliana and I had time to work together on a project because dinner was already prepared and no one else needed anything. I didn’t have to say no, I’m busy. I got to proactively say yes. I got to be present and helpful and had unexpected time shared with my daughter.

I chose to skip my meeting tonight because there were too many conflicts. It was hard to say no and to cancel, but it was what was best for my family tonight. And because there was no conflict, we all got to sit down to a candle lit dinner and enjoy hearing about Juliana’s trip, Christian’s cross country meet, and Charlie’s math songs. Tonight there was time to focus on the important things in life. We did it. We created it and made it our own. Living the SLO life… today until tomorrow?!?


What’s Your Mism?


Tonight we somehow got on the topic of religion at the dinner table. We were talking about all the different beliefs and what they mean and who believes what and why. Two nights ago we debated and explained politics and whats happening with our government. Did I tell you I have very smart kids? Or should I say thinking kids? They have opinions that are different than mine, they ask lots of questions, and they think for themselves which I love and which also presents interesting conversations.

We talked about how religions are shared based on what family you’re born into and how they believe. Sometimes children choose to follow the same beliefs as their family and sometimes they branch out and choose to believe differently. We also talked about knowledge and philosophies like Buddhism and Taoism and also the belief that there is no higher power. The cool thing is they are not afraid and add greatly to the conversation.

They asked why we believe what we do and questioned whether they had to believe the same way we do. I told them for now we will share our journey together and one day they may choose a different path that works for them. Part of our journey is also exploring and experiencing other faiths and beliefs that are shared with us and those that arouse curiosity in us. We believe in the celebrations of life and enjoy the rituals we are invited to witness even when they are different from ours. We feel like honored guests and respect our loved ones for being who they are and are filled with gratitude when they invite us to join with them as witnesses to their faith journey

I shared that we have chosen one path and one mentor that provides a foundation for our family. I also shared that we believe in one love, one people, and that we are all connected despite any perceived or real differences.

And that’s when Charlie said, “ok, can we be done with all these misms now?” I laughed and we changed the topic of conversation. Enough deep thought for one night. How do you celebrate your mism? :-).