The Strong Ones

We don’t always notice the strong ones. Or more accurately, we sometimes only notice their strength and the way that they seem to keep going no matter what is happening to them. We watch them keep going, keep smiling, keep striving, keep standing and we shake our heads thinking “How do they do it? They always seem okay. That could never be me.”

As one who has walked through far more than I would ever have imagined I could, with people often commenting on how strong I am, I can tell you that we keep going because we simply must. And I can tell you that there is so much that you don’t see. Even with me who has shared so much of my journey with grief and loss and letting go, there is so much that you haven’t seen. The underground river of emotions has knocked me off my feet and left me wondering if I can continue so many times.

For me, it’s not because I think showing you the harder pieces is something I shouldn’t or can’t do. It’s that by the time I have found the words to describe how dark and scary and out of control I have felt at times, that time has passed and the words are simply my own. But today, for whatever reason, the words flow and I find I need to share.

After I turned over the ownership of Avalon Horse Farm in the summer of 2019, I knew there would be a period of grieving letting go of that space and that dream. I knew that it would take me a while to untwine all the parts of me that I had woven into the fabric of that business and that community. How could there not be when what I created was more than a horse farm? It was a lifelong dream realized of a sacred space for horses and their humans.

What I didn’t know was the depths of grief & healing I would enter into. I didn’t know that all of the unhealed parts of me still moving through things from Russell’s death would come flying into the mix. I didn’t know how much I had “set aside” as I managed a large farm community and prioritized my kids’ healing needs. I didn’t know that my breath could be sucked out of my lungs any more than it already had been during the early years of mourning after Russell’s death. I didn’t know that simply being around people who were farm friends & treasured parts of my community would make my heart hurt so much as I figured out how to relate in new ways. I didn’t know that being strong meant I would feel I needed to be silent in my grief, because I chose to walk away from Avalon towards something ambiguous new dream thingy. I didn’t know that the silence I imposed on myself out of some silly notion that grieving a place as deeply as I did was foolishness would slow down my ability to move through my emotions rather than get stuck in them. And I definitely didn’t know that the grief I would experience letting go of Avalon would twine up with new layers of grief about Russell.

I spent months and months and months just feeling it all. Only a very few folks saw the pain within the “strength shield” I wrapped around myself. Outside I showed more of the “this is what I am dreaming of and what I am creating” energy – the strong one. Inside I was weeping and doubting and second-guessing and running away and beating myself up for “dropping” people because my grief was so strong & confusing and struggling to give myself restful, patient healing space. Like I said before – an underground river of emotions!

It took me probably a full year before I fully understood what I was walking through. It was a full year of unintentionally pushing people away. It was a full year of questioning my “right” to grieve the letting of Avalon. It was a full year of untwining the dreams for my life from the dreams Russell and I had when we said yes to Avalon. It was a full year of feeling swirly, overwhelmed with emotions, and often confused. It was a full year of continuing to dream of more & different for my life without the true emotional energy to open the doors to the new things waiting for me. It was a full year of “being strong” while also quietly hoping people would see behind that strength shield, or wall, and simply say “I see you & I am here & you don’t have to be strong right now.”

Today, I can honestly say that with the help of friends, family, and my own life coach, and tapping into all of the energetic processing tools I’ve picked up over the years, I am in a really, really good space. I’ve gotten a lot better at letting down my strength shield before it becomes a wall to others. I’ve gotten a lot better at not questioning why am I feeling this way and instead asking what message this feeling has for me. I’ve gotten a lot better at asking for help when I don’t feel strong but I am projecting that. I’ve gotten a lot better at allowing others to handle their own healing & not expecting myself to be their strength too. I’ve gotten a lot better at loving myself right where I am and trusting each step of my journey.

For those of you who have people in your life who always seem strong – See them! Be there for them! Let them know it’s okay to not always be strong!

For those of you who are the strong ones – I see you! I am here! You don’t always have to be strong!

Why I love & believe in life coaching…

I believe we can learn to dance in the shadow spaces between the dark and the light of our world, weaving them together into a glorious life dance.

I believe we all deserve a fresh start as often as we need one. Every single moment is an opportunity for a new layer of awareness.

I believe we can fall and get back up again and again and again.

I believe we all need someone to walk alongside us at times in our life that feel more dark and overwhelming.

I believe trusting ourselves comes by keeping promises to ourselves.

I believe in the power of community to create our best lives. If I could create the life I want by myself I would have done it by now. I need others for accountability and support.

I believe that all of us are worthy of saying YES to ourselves before we pour everything we have into others.

I believe we all deserve to have lovingly fierce cheerleaders in our corner who help us believe more deeply in ourselves.

I believe in the power of dreaming and taking action inspired by those dreams.

I believe in YOU!

Lara 💟

P.S. Email me if you want to hear more about my coaching services.


Wishes or Weeds: What are you choosing to see?

What do you see in this picture? Do you see a field of weeds? Or, do you see a field of wishes? Me? I see a field of wishes at the magical time of sunset. And that lights me up with the joy of possibility.

All of us look at the world through a lens of our own making. It’s a lens created by our past experiences, our present reality, and our dreams for our future. We notice what fits into the current story we are telling ourselves about what the world has to offer us. We can look at the same thing – like this field at sunset – and tell a very different story about what it is about. It’s not about one being right or wrong, it’s about perspective.

Our perspective – the lens through which we look at the world – is shaped by our experiences, upbringing, and cultural background. It can also be shaped by the media we consume, such as news outlets, social media platforms, and entertainment. It’s essential to be mindful of the sources we rely on to form our opinions and seek out diverse perspectives. Understanding perspective is a continuous journey that requires constant self-reflection, empathy, and a willingness to learn.

The ability to shift our perspective, to choose to try looking at the world through a different lens – can also lead to personal growth and development. By challenging our beliefs and assumptions, we can broaden our horizons and develop new insights that can help us navigate the complexities of the world. It’s important to acknowledge that our perspective is not the only valid one. By recognizing the validity of other perspectives, we can create a more inclusive and tolerant society that values diversity and fosters mutual respect. Throughout it all we can also find personal healing and hope in ways we might never have imagined.

Just because I see this field of dandelions as a field full of magical wishes, it may be a field of weeds to you. And that is okay! I don’t need you to understand it differently for me to believe in the magic I see there. What do you see?

The Shadowlands

This musing was originally written in May of 2017. I find that I still often live & dance in the shadowlands of life. There is magic in this space, healing energy here. It is because of my ability to live & dance in this space that I am better able to help others as they learn how to live & simply breathe here.

I live now in the shadowlands, that space between the light and dark of the world. I can see things that others cannot see. I can hear things others can’t hear. I can feel things others can’t feel. I am wiser, older, and more real now. I am awake to things that much of the world sleeps through every day.

One would think, looking from the outside in, that the shadowlands would be a place of less color, everything muted. But I find it to be filled with brighter, bolder colors than the “real” world. Nothing is muted because all is seen as it could be. The shrouds of our perception of how things should be are pulled away here in the shadowlands. Light infuses all things. Dark infuses all things. There cannot be one without the other. The holding of opposites is where the work of grief & opening to hope lies.

Heart’s blessing

I would wish you all of the love that rests deep within my heart.

I would wish for you the quietness of a sunny summer morning to warm you on your darkest days.

I would wish for people to surround you who love you and are willing to listen to your story for as long as you want to share it.

I would wish for moments of joy that surprise you more and more often.

I would wish for the courage to stand strong in who you are now while gently remembering who you used to be.

I would wish for you an end to the sadness that creeps and crawls throughout each and every one of us.

I would wish for a full night’s sleep, night after night after night.

I would wish for you to feel the power as you regain your strength to walk in the world.

I would wish for laughter that starts deep in your belly and completely takes over your entire being.

I would wish for the sweetest, most embracing of hugs.

I would wish for you a novel that takes you away into another world even if only for a little while.

I would wish for you such a firm belief in yourself that you truly saw yourself as a warrior, capable of anything.

I would wish you a break from the pain.

I would wish for you a snuggly puppy or kitten that treats you as if you are the most important thing in their world.

I would wish for you long conversations that feel easy and light.

I would wish for you a heart that is once again whole.

I would wish for you time in your favorite place.

I would wish you the knowledge that you are always doing the best you can in every, single given moment.

I would wish for you, gentleness as you walk a lonely path of grieving and healing.

I would wish you light, joy, healing, and the deepest of peace.

I would wish you love, love, love.

Lara 💟

Written in June 2017

Let Your Soul Lead You

Many of you have been following me for quite a while now and know much of my story. I have shared so many parts of my life journey over the past 8 years when my Muse awoke during my late husband, Russell’s, unexpected illness & death. You have watched me grieve, grow, laugh, cry, allow joy into my life, try new things, let go of old things, move, and weave dreams. You have held me up in more ways than I can ever express & I love sharing my journey out loud with you.

Today, I want to say a special THANK YOU to Danijela Kandera & her makeup magician, Jasmina Muht. They helped me unleash the magic of the joyful part of me who loves my body, mind, and soul EXACTLY AS I AM! Saying YES to Dani’s Empowering Portraits for women was a bit of a stress for me. My body isn’t in the shape that I most desire it to be. I love it, but saying yes to professional photos created a push and pull in my mind – “But I should wait until I lose weight and ‘look’ better again. No, I love my body. Well yes, I love my body but it could look better, I should wait. No don’t wait, do it now.” Back and forth, back and forth.

As I allowed myself to really pay attention to this push and pull, I KNEW that it was the PERFECT time to do my photo session. The first step of every empowerment journey I guide my women coaching clients through is ACCEPTANCE & LOVE for themselves. That’s where we start. That’s what we weave through everything else we do.

So, I coached myself; had an amazing photo session with Dani; and pretty much fell in love with my joy warrior soul self! I have so many pictures I will eventually share and some that are just for me. They make me smile and feel really powerful. More importantly, my time with Dani helped me realize that I am glorious just as I am. The photos just remind me of that soul-knowing.

Thank you all who are part of my online community. Thank you Jasmina Muht for highlighting ME, not turning me into someone I don’t recognize. Thank you Nicole Martin for introducing me to Dani. Thank you Danijela Kandera for being the fabulous love light you are for me and all of the women who have the opportunity to learn how to shine with you.

I am rising, rising, rising as I share my life with the world.

Warrior Lara 💟

P.S. the only thing that wasn’t mine was the beaded bustier. Not the most practical for daily wear, but I might have to get one for badass going out days. 🤔🤣🤔


One pathway to growth – be willing to be surprised

2 years ago today I entered into a world that I had previously just been a witness to. For years and years, I had watched, listened to, and gifted items for 2 of my kids, Demetri and Soren, to play Dungeons and Dragons (DnD). As someone who has always loved fantasy novels and has a pretty active imaginary world of her own, I loved when DnD sessions took place at our house. I would listen in complete awe at the ability of Soren and Demetri to not only create characters but create whole worlds to delve into as they adventured the hours away with their friends. Wizards, druids, familiars, dwarves, necromancers, rogues, spellcasters, paladins, the list went on in the campaigns that they played. I was fascinated and yet also thought “There is no way I could ever play this. It’s so intricate. I can’t fathom creating dialogue or connecting with the stories so much to play for 3, 4, 6, or 7 hours. Love it for them. But, it’s not for me.” Never say never right?

During the pandemic, my family and I spent a lot of hours online together each week – zooming, playing games, and trying to stay sane. I also began to have LOTS of conversations with Demetri and Soren about DnD as they took their playing online. I became more and more intrigued. Finally, towards the end of 2020, I said okay to trying it. Demetri, as our dungeon master (dm), coordinated an easy-entry campaign that allowed me, Soren, my daughter, Kateri, my sister-in-law, niece, and nephew to bravely step into playing a family adventure. Considering my sister-in-law, April, plus Kateri and I had never played before Demetri was really the brave one. Learning to play online can be quite challenging, but we did it.

I was stunned by how much I fell in love with DnD. My first character, Enya, was a pretty straightforward neutral good druid with a hermit background. The coolest part about her was that she was Dragonborn. There were some super cool things about her character build. I loved learning how to play with her. But I really didn’t know what I was doing and it felt more like reading a character’s play instead of actually playing AS her. Play for me often felt stilted and just hard to figure out. I simply didn’t know enough. We played that campaign for about 10 months before time constraints for all of us made scheduling super hard to do and we stopped playing. All right when it was starting to get good and begin to make sense.

Fast forward 2 years, and I have now played in 3 other campaigns including a Star Wars one with other family members new to DnD. I also have 4 new characters in various stages of development for possible future campaigns. Each character is so different from the others and it’s super fun to play with different ideas. I watch DnD shows. I read DnD books. I have at least 7 full sets of dice and always want more sets. I have the coolest, dragon-skin-looking bag for my dice that I adore. I have hours-long conversations with all of my kids about DnD. My favorite weekend activity is playing DnD. And my current character is actually helping me heal some deep wounds I didn’t even know were there.

Tris (pictured here), my main character right now, is a complicated one. Aligned as chaotic neutral she definitely leans towards the chaotic. Recently banished from her people for a curse she didn’t know was placed upon her as a child, she is in a shaky, chaotic state of trying to understand who she is. Having grown up believing she was a druid and being trained as one, it has come to light that she is instead a witch with a hideous curse. Her wolf pup familiar, Gani, is the only thing she fully trusts and the only thing that truly feels safe. She’s not sure whether to go along with her new companions or go off on her again so that she doesn’t hurt anyone else. She is a swirl of emotion all of the time with a heart that believes in doing good for others but also a heart full of a lot of anger over how she has been betrayed.

Playing her feels like playing with my inner child who remembers being bullied as a kid; who remembers having imaginary friends who were wolves and horses, not humans; who remembers no understanding of how to fit in; who remembers thinking she was part of a group only to be pushed out without explanation. In a recent private conversation with another character, Madame Zandra, who she just learned is also a witch, Tris experienced profound love and understanding. The scene was more powerful for me than I could have imagined a scene could be. I cried in character and out of character, as healing acceptance was given to Tris. The fact that my kid, Demetri, as the DM playing the character of Madame Zandra, was the one who played out the healing love given to Tris left me with such deep pride for who Demetri is as a person and as a talented DM.

As I play Tris I am getting to fully dive into my imaginative side which I adore. All of the DnD I have watched with my kids has helped me understand how to fully enter into BEING my character while I play. It’s like playful, healing, persona work and I am LOVING IT!

As much as I love what DnD has become for me and for the healing I am allowing myself to move through in a playful, creative way, what I love the absolute most is what it has become for my kids and me as a family. We have something to do now together that we all not only enjoy but that we absolutely love. Do you know how incredibly awesome it is to have something like this with adult children? To have something that isn’t just a game to play but is really a passion for each and every one of us? DnD has given us a common language to share, even when there are other areas of our lives and their growing up that have pulled us in different directions. We get to revel in the creativity of each other. We get to share ideas, write stories together, and have a great time every single time we play. DnD truly is the BEST gift the pandemic gave to me and my kids.

So, my invitation to everyone out there is this. Be willing to be surprised by something new! That very thing that maybe doesn’t make sense right now, might just bring you more joy and connection than you ever could have imagined. It might lead to your personal healing and to healing relationships in a profound way. It can be easy to drift away from our kids as they grow. I am grateful that DnD has given me the joyful opportunity to grow closer to my kids in THEIR world. One of the BEST things I’ve ever done as a parent and as a person committed to her own growth was saying “Okay, I will try it.” I honestly can’t imagine my life without DnD. One of the biggest surprises of my life!

Our why – getting to the heart of it all

(Longer musing than I thought it would be.)

Most of us have something in our lives we’d like to change. Maybe we want to start a new hobby. Maybe we want to feel better physically or emotionally. Maybe we want to move somewhere new. Maybe we want a new job. Maybe we want to stop putting ourselves down for all of the things we think we’re not doing right. Whatever it is for us, we all have something that we keep starting to try to change.

I say starting to try to change because the reality is for most of us it can feel like a constant cha-cha dance of starting and stopping and starting and stopping and on and on it goes. At least this is true for me.

It’s only when we allow ourselves to dig really deep and get to the true heart of our “why” that lasting change has a real chance. Staying at the surface level, first, quick answer is part of what keeps us in the change cha-cha. We’ve got to ask, “Why is it important?” over and over again until we get to our core answer. It is when we find the heart of our why that we find the determination and the drive for real change and our cha-cha dance slows. Let me show you what I mean with one of my own desired areas of change. 

“I want 2023 to be the year I publish a book of my own.” 

Why is it important to me?

“I’ve got stories and ideas inside of me I’ve wanted to share for years.”

Why is it important to me that I share these stories & ideas?

“I feel like there is someone out there who could use my life musings as hope beacons.”

Why is it important to me to offer hope?”

“Because it’s only because of others’ stories that I found hope to keep going through my dark. I want to do the same and pay it forward. “

Why is it important to pay it forward?

“Because I will never be able to pay it back to everyone who’s helped me keep going when I thought I couldn’t. “

Why is it important to pay it back?

“Because I feel like I owe it to the world to not keep these healing heart gifts to myself.”

Why is it important to not keep it all to myself?

“Because it feels like keeping it all to myself would leave a bigger hole in me and leave me feeling like I’m living a “less than ” life.”

Why is it important to publish a book of my own in 2023?

“Because in opening my heart to share the gifts of hope I’ve been given, not only can others possibly heal but I can heal deeper as well.” 

I feel my soul settle into a deeper “Ahhh yessss! It’s all about heart, healing, and hope.” As I allow myself to dive deeper & get closer to the heart of my why, I realize THIS is what will help me stay on track even through moments of doubt. 

If you are curious about playing with this powerful process yourself let me know. I can send you some resources that have been super helpful for me. What if this year became the year that your dreams of change became reality? How cool would that be?! 😎

Joy Start Your Morning

What if simple joy came first every day?! What if I fueled myself with things that light me up first each day instead of leaving those things as rushed leftovers?

I’m a supporter of dreaming big, setting goals, and having solid habits to help us live into our dreams. I’m also realizing more and more that expecting myself to start my day off focusing on my goals or to-do list simply exhausts me.

So it came to me today what if I stop expecting myself to do, do, do things before I’m barely awake & instead I start by relaxing with a second cup and reading a favorite book for a few minutes as my first priority? What if instead of creating a habit of a productive focused morning I create a habit of a JOY-focused morning? What if I allowed myself 10-15 minutes of pleasure to infuse JOY into my day right from the start?

Well, let me tell you, my heart and my soul skipped a little beat and whispered ” Could we? Could we really stop having to psyche ourselves up first thing? Could we really start with joy and ease into our day? Could we? Could we? Could we?”

With a smile and a deep, joyful breath I feel things click into alignment as I answer ” Yes we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we WILL!”

Start your day with whatever brings you simple, contented JOY! Maybe it’s exactly what you need to fuel the rest of your day.

Ahhhhh! 🌬💙🌬

Lara 💟

Light & Dark – Dancing in the Shadow Space & Offering Hope to Others

March 20, the Spring Equinox, is a time of new beginnings; a time of hope; a time of trusting in the promise of warmer and sunnier days; a time of greening; a time of taking deeper breaths; a time of joy. It has long been one of my favorite days of the year. I have loved celebrating it and inviting others to do the same. When I ran the horse farm, we’d have a spring bonfire to celebrate and release all of the pent up heaviness of the winter. It was glorious!

March 20 is also the anniversary of my husband, Russell’s death. 7 years ago he left this world after a very short 7 days of confusing illness. That day 7 years ago stopped his life; stopped my life as his wife; stopped my kids and my lives as we had known them; stopped the world for us for a very long time; and stopped my choosing to celebrate the Spring Equinox. The symbolism of endings and beginnings was not lost on me that Russell died on the Sring Equinox. But it became nearly impossible to imagine or give myself permission to celebrate with joy the first day of spring, when March 20 had also become the day of remembering our family’s deepest loss.

This weekend a very significant shift has occurred for me. I’ve found myself dancing in the shadowy space between the light and the dark of joy and sadness in a profound way. Not just standing stuck in that space, but dancing there listening to soul music only I can hear. I released the guilt I’ve felt for years about wanting to celebrate the Equinox as I felt it somehow would take away from the death of Russell. I listened to the very real truth that part of my life’s work and mission is to dance in that center space and speak of what that is like for those who can only feel the darkness. My choice to become a Soul Life Coach and an Equine Guided Facilitator flows from this truth. I have walked through a dark night of the soul. I find joy every single day of my life. I know how to weave these threads of dark and threads of light together in ways not everyone knows how to do. I want to guide those who long to learn how to dance in this shadowy space. I laughed a lot this weekend. I rode my pony at sunset tonight which has always been a joyous Spring Equinox activity. I reveled in multiple sunsets. I had my first fire just for the Equinox (originally a decades-long commitment) since his memorial fire a year after he died. I shared stories with friends and family. I started a dream list for spring. I celebrated with joy and no guilt!

Dancing in this center space between death and life has been a dance I have done for longer than I can remember. Even before Russell’s death, it was as if I could hear music in that space that others couldn’t hear. Now, my desire is to offer hope to those who need it most. I can only do that if I allow myself to fully embrace both/and. Remember Russell on this day of his death AND celebrate the first day of spring. THIS is how we say yes to hope in the midst of our suffering. We don’t try to pretend that there is no pain in life. We don’t try to push through and ignore it all, only making it worse. We don’t deny ourselves joy or peace or rest. We learn, baby step by baby step, how to dance with all of the pieces.

As a concrete way to share tiny bits of hope for others who are out there looking for any sign that they’re not alone, I started a new habit today. Those of you have been following me for a while know that I find pennies (and other coins) all of the time. The notion of “pennies from heaven” was one of the BEST things a friend shared with me early in my grief journey. I think of them as penny hellos from Russell. They bring me hope; they make me smile; they help me feel less alone when I need it most. I don’t really think Russell drops them for me, but I do feel them as love reminders. And I find them all of the time because I look for them all of the time. I am open to the magic of something as simple as a penny to change my day.

Well today, I decided to start randomly dropping pennies when I received them as change. There are others out there who will find those pennies and smile. Maybe they will find them, like I always do, just when they need them most and believe they aren’t alone. Maybe they will find a little bit of joy to help the darkness not feel so dark.

These are how I dance in the shadowy center space between light and dark, offering hope to the world. One musing blog post at a time. One sunset alert at a time. One willingness to share that I’m not always okay. One joyful picture at a time. One penny at a time.

Today I remember Russell, missing him always. Today I celebrate the first day of Spring. Dancing with both, and feeling love for it all!