Because I said YES

How many things in life do we find ourselves drawn to and we don’t quite understand all of the reasons why? Those things that pop up as possibilities to say YES to. Maybe it’s a job or business that intrigues us; or maybe it’s an opportunity to play & create in ways we’ve never done before; or maybe it’s a new person we meet who we feel an immediate connection with; or maybe it’s something we are ready to let go of because it simply doesn’t feed our souls anymore. Whatever IT is there is a spark of joy and hope and curiosity and “what if” that lights up inside of us. We can’t stop thinking about it. We want to know more. We want to say YES and take the step towards us. And yet, something holds us back.

This musing isn’t about those somethings that hold us back. While I could write about that too I find myself thinking a lot these days about all of the things I’ve said YES to in the past dozen years or so and what has been made possible because of those YESes, things I couldn’t even dream of when I said YES to what I thought was just about me. So I wander down some of the paths I have taken because I said YES – some so quietly I could barely hear them myself and some so loudly it’s as if the world would hear.

Because I said YES…

*to running a horse farm that felt way too big, unwieldy and hard for a family who was homeschooling 3 young children, Avalon is here today.

*to my own health – body, mind, spirit – I have learned how to make the changes I need with the support I need to listen to what my body needs, not just what my emotional being desires for comfort. I know I can restart as often as I need to in order to have the best body freedom possible. I love how great I am feeling again!

*to teaching horse back riding lessons, camps, field trips, and dozens of other programs thousands of kids have had the opportunity to feel the magic of horses. I’ve done some of the math and it is well over 1000 kids and several thousand more adults who have felt that joyful magic that only horses can bring.

*to writing and publicly sharing my own grief, healing, life journey others have been able to experience the possibility that someone else understands a little bit about their own journey.

*to offering “I am a Warrior” women retreats, vison board playshops, women’s circles (WOW) and other healing retreats women have found ways to dream bigger, love themselves a little bit deeper, and find ways to say YES to more joy in their lives.

*to my own health, 100s of people – family, friends, new friends – have been able to create healthier habits for themselves. It brings me great joy that I have been able to encourage others to believe they are worth living their healthiest life. Being part of people going from feeling completely out of touch with their bodies and hating them to listening to what their bodies need and loving themselves right where they are – ahhh that is powerful stuff!

*to letting go of Avalon I now get to watch Emily live out a life long dream of her own to have a farm. Watching her grow and transform Avalon into her vision, feeling the love she has for what she now gets to do, is an honor to behold. My YES connected with her YES and we both took big leaps that are now impacting so many other people.

*to Penny when it made almost no sense to, I have ridden more than in the entire 12 years I actually ran Avalon. More importantly, I have rediscovered my confidence in riding a horse and experienced profound wonder as we have learned to trust one another. Karoly helped me to Just Breathe through the early years of my grief. Penny has taught me to trust the sweet joy of freedom.

*a year long mentorship about Equine Facilitated Learning there are now dozens of women who are experiencing the deeper, very profound connections that horses offer us. Connecting with our deepest selves while being in the space of a horse is such an amazing gift. I said YES to that mentorship mere weeks after Russell died and it provided healing I very much needed. It took me years to be able to be ready to share it more broadly, but I am loving it now.

*listening to my kids and what they most need for their own life journeys, I believe I am closer to them than if I had simply set their paths for them. I don’t always get it right, but I hope they know that my commitment to keep them as my number 1 priority will ALWAYS be true.

*to selling the first farm that Russell and I loved, we now live in a farm cottage where I can daily see some of the prettiest sunrises I’ve ever seen; see my horses outside of my front window; and walk to one of my “jobs”.

*trusting my intuition, that quiet inner voice, I have learned to love myself more than I ever realized I could. I’ve learned how to say no to what I need to and yes to what I want to. I trust that I know me better than anyone else possibly could.

*when Russell first entered the hospital to allowing myself to dance in the shadow space where the light and the dark threads of life meet, I have life tools that I am now able to share with others who feel like they are stuck in the muckity muck of life. That shadow space is where I find my MOJO and I very much want to help others find theirs.

Because I say YES every single day to seeking joy and growth with the passion of a warrior woman, I know that I can continue to grow, dream, learn, and create a life that feels better and better and better all of the time. I invite each and everyone of you reading this to listen to that part of you who is wanting to say YES to something new. That thing that you can’t stop thinking about might lead you down a path filled with joy and purpose you can’t even imagine right now, if you just say YES.

Listen to your body. It’s telling you something.

This musing is not about my knee, even though it starts there. My knee is trying to tell me something. Actually, it’s probably trying to tell me many somethings. The question before me is am I willing to listen to the messages behind the physical pain to the deeper things hidden further in. I teach my clients, in our work with the horses, to first do a body scan and see what messages our bodies are trying to tell us. Well, I am listening and I am trying to pay attention to the answers.

While I stop, try to quiet my mind, and listen to the messages underneath the pain there are many musings bubbling to the surface. Some of these are probably directly connected to the core message(s) my knee pain is directing me to. And some are just because this is what my mind does, it tries to see the connections between my current experience, my past experiences and my entire life journey. Maybe in the writing of all that is rambling through me I will shed some light on what is going on for me right now.

The pattern of my current knee pain has been most fascinating. It started seemingly out of nowhere last Friday morning. I don’t have any recollection of any extra strain or injury that occurred. I’ve experienced pain in my knees off and on for years, sometimes intensely, other times almost non-existent. Watching what I eat, resting it, avoiding certain kinds of exercise, stretching, listening to my feelings, etc. all help. Overall, I’ve been pretty good the last few months. So, it was very surprising on Friday when I could barely move. On Friday, no matter what I did – rest, move, stand still – my knee felt locked in place and very painful.

When I am sitting or lying down I am okay and can move my leg around with no pain. When I am walking I feel stiff but overall don’t feel painful. When I am riding (which I tried for an hour yesterday) I feel great and experience no pain or frozen joints until I try to get off. But when I stand still for more than a few minutes, my knee hurts a lot and feels like it will barely hold me. As soon as I sit back down for even a few minutes I feel good again and can even continue walking around. But holding still is the worst.

While this is about my knee, it’s also really not about my knee. Physically I am setting somethings in place to deal with the physical aspect of what is going on. More importantly, I am aware that my knee is telling me in a VERY loud voice “Hey you. Yes you, Lara! LISTEN! There are things you need to accept and you’re not doing it. The pain will continue and increase until you do. PAY ATTENTION! There are things for you to learn right now.”

So today, I am writing about so much more than what I need to do physically. Because ultimately, I know this is about way, way more than any possible arthritic flare up or other physical issue.


This reminds me so much of what my grief journey was like in the beginning. And it also speaks to what my ongoing self-growth journey looks like. Holding still causes the most pain. Standing still in my grief and in the ways I am trying to grow now can cause me more pain than anything else. Just standing in place, waiting for the next grief wave to crash over us, or waiting for the pain of feeling stuck to hit, is wicked hard. I remember thinking in the first year or two after Russell died that if I just didn’t move maybe I wouldn’t feel the pain of his death so much. Maybe if I just held my breath, it would all go away somehow. Maybe if I stand really still the grief or the overwhelm won’t crash over me this time. Pffft, obviously that wasn’t true and it’s an impossibility. We can often fear moving forward because we think it will cause more pain. But it’s the standing in place out of fear or overwhelm that ultimately hurts us the most.

I’m feeling this same sense of wanting to stand in place and not move in my life right now. Not because of grief, but because of sooo many other things that are shifting, changing, and being created. Some are mine. Some are others. All of them leave me in that space of wanting to just hold my breath and not move. What if I move the wrong direction? Is the path I am on the right one? What am I doing? What am I not doing? Have I done enough? Am I enough? Over and over and over the questions, doubts and fears run through my end. I stand frozen in place with the pain of feeling stuck ready to knock me over at any moment.


Resting, truly allowing myself to just breathe and be in the moment, offers sweet relief from the overwhelm and the pain of fear and doubt. That rest is needed. That rest is welcome. That rest must happen. Icing my knee; staying off of it; letting my muscles chill the hell out; all of those things helped me through last weekend. Each day got a little easier to move as I allowed my body the time to rest. Rest is needed when we grieve. Rest is needed when we grow. During intense seasons of grieving and intense seasons of growth, our bodies, hearts and minds are working hard to navigate all of the emotions that arise. We need to allow ourselves enough time to both grieve and to grow. We need to cut ourselves some slack and recognize that in order for true healing or transforming change to occur, we NEED TO REST. That doesn’t just mean, sometimes, taking a day to chill. Sometimes it takes longer to give ourselves all that we need to be able to move again. AND THAT IS OKAY!


Feeling our feelings can shine light towards the path forward that we need to take when we are ready. After allowing ourselves the rest we need to ease the initial hits of new pain, movement can begin to occur. That doesn’t mean jumping right back into everything we were doing before. We can cause ourselves a lot more injury and pain if we jump back in too fast. Taking things slowly and testing the waters of what feels okay allows us to listen to what our bodies, minds, and hearts are ready for. It might mean new ways of doing things need to be set in place.

It becomes even more important in this return to movement to listen to our bodies and our feelings, ignoring neither one. It is here that questions will arise – What if it hurts even more once I move? What if I can’t do it? What if I can never move with ease again? What if? What if? What if? The fear can be very real, even as we are hoping and planning for the best. But move we must in order to continue forward on our journeys. The solution is to listen and pay attention as we take that first step forward.

We take a step or try things out again. We check in with our bodies to see how it is handling things. We do a few things. We listen to what movements feel better than others. We rest a bit. We take a few more movements forward. We check in. We listen. We rest. We do things that feel really good and do even more of that. We celebrate. We listen. We rest. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. We find our way back to a place that feels comfortable again, hopefully with a little more wisdom.

As I’ve moved through this process of pain, listening, resting, trying new movement, listening again, etc. over the last several so many things have opened up for me. Somethings I was aware of and other things that feel like they’ve come out of a hidden box buried under a whole lot of other stuff. As more awareness has come the pain has eased. I’m not really surprised by this. I’ve known for a long time that when my knees hurt, it usually means there are parts of my life journey that I’ve been avoiding moving forward with. My knees get stuck and locked in pain when I am feeling stuck in other ways. As I listen to those blocks the pain eases. Oh it still takes awhile for my knees to get back to better functioning order, but simply listening to the message behind that pain eases it.

Am I getting answers to why my knee decided to stop working last weekend? Not necessarily. Am I getting clarity around new insights that have popped up in my extra, necessary rest time? Yes. Am I getting a chance to practice listening better to my body and what she needs? Most definitely. Is all of my pain gone? Not yet. Am I feeling more hopeful that I have a newer plan to strengthen my body, my heart and my resolve to keep creating my best life? YES!

Our bodies give us messages all of the time. The questions are – Are we willing to listen to the quiet, gentle messages it’s trying to tell us? Or, are we going to keep ignoring the messages until the pain is so bad we have no other choice but to listen?

The Healing is Real

Horses have had a part of my heart and my dream world for as long as I can remember. I honestly can’t remember a time that I didn’t want to read about them; draw them; take pictures of them; look for them everywhere I go; and simply BE with them. From pretending my pink, banana seated bike was a horse, to working whenever I could at a barn in college, to choosing field trips with my kids that included some horse sighting, to having imaginary horses as friends as a kid, to managing/owning a horse farm for over a decade, to teaching kids to ride and care for horses for over 30 years, to now life coaching women with my horses as my partners and guides, horses have held my heart.

That last sentence right there, “horses have held my heart”, is the most profound gift I can imagine in this lifelong journey with horses. Through moments of imagination and moments of being brave and moments of trying new things and moments of celebration and moments of the deepest grief, horses have held my heart. There is both a grounding and an awakening that happens for me when I am in their presence. It’s as if, when I am with them, I am most ME. Not because I have to do anything special. I just have to be with them and I am somehow more whole.

The most profound experience of their capacity to hold space for me and invite me into deeper healing has come with my relationship with Karoly, the retired circus horse who entered my world 9 years ago. For the first several years he was simply this really cool, calm, magnetic horse who I got to use for teaching kids to ride and enjoy riding myself. As bombproof as they come, Karoly’s steady presence has made him one of the best horses I’ve ever known to teach basic riding skills, help people build confidence, and be a buddy to horses who need a steady presence. I have so many pictures and stories of him I could fill an entire book.

As amazing as all of these things are, it is his capacity to hold healing space for me and for others that makes him the biggest gift. After Russell died, being at Avalon was both blessing and challenge – two sides of the same coin. Blessing because I could be exactly as I needed to be that day. Challenge because I could be exactly as I needed to be that day. It was a safe place to show up however I was – hot mess and warrior woman all in one. There were many, many days that the emotions were so powerful I simply didn’t know how to navigate the intensity. Those were the days that I turned to Karoly the most. Whether we went for ride or I simply went and stood with him wherever he was, in his presence I could bawl it all out. He would stand there steady as a tree and JUST BREATHE. Somehow, magically, he would match his breath to my shallow breath and then he would slow his down, inviting me to do the same. I know it may sound very weird, but he would audibly breathe in and out slower and slower and slower with a silent invitation for me to do the same and ground my energy through him. He held my grief in all its’ swirliness and just breathed through it with me.

He is THE reason I chose 6 years ago to enter into a mentorship to become certified in Equine Facilitated Learning. My experience with him holding space for me as I grieved awoke the desire to offer the same gift to others. I’ve watched him offer this gift to others over the years and every time I stand in awe of the heart energy that is exchanged. Simply being in his presence seems to ease others anxiety. Fear seems to lessen as he holds the space to walk through it with trust and a desire to be braver. Tears flow as emotions that have bottled up for sometimes years are allowed to flow. Joy awakens as this magical being opens his heart space for others to find their way.

Linda Kohanov writes in her book Riding Between the Worlds, “True freedom arises from the courage to feel , the willingness to be vulnerable and the humility to appreciate the wisdom all living beings have to offer.” Horses invite us with their very presence to find the courage to feel our feelings and walk our way through them to the other side. Don’t we all want to feel more free?

I wish with all of my heart that every person who is hurting had the opportunity to rest their weary selves in the presence of a horse like Karoly. It is because of the healing gifts Karoly has given to me that I am creating the space and the opportunities for others to find a little bit of grounding, healing, safe space for themselves. The gift he has given me is to precious to not share with the world.

Listen to the whisper

In the blink of an eye life can change. PLEASE DON’T WAIT FOR ANOTHER TIME!

Holy schmoley, Facebook memories are something. This is what I shared 6 years ago, an hour and a half before I took Russell Peterson to the hospital where we took our first, crashing step into Cuckoo Luckoo Land. I’d say that was also the first step towards becoming a Warrior Woman for love, dreaming, living out loud and inviting people to live deeply in this time, this moment.

That whisper was very quiet 6 years ago. Finding and sharing this was probably my only awareness that I was hearing something coming. Now though? Wowza that whisper is coming through loud and clear every day.

What is whispering inside of you?

6 years ago I shared this passage and the passage pictured here. Little did I know that the trip to the ER soon to follow would not only change my day’s plans but it would change my life completely.

Don’t take chances that you have plenty of time. There is no way we can know that.


I am pretty sure the Peterson household has the plague. Kateri has had a fever and flu like symptoms for 4 days. Fever goes up and down but overall feeling horrendous. Russell is now having similar symptoms and feeling awful. Soren and I had about a day and a half earlier this week we were feeling sick. Hoping that’s all that occurs for us. Demetri only one who has remained totally healthy. Plans for my day will be changing as caring for two stickies is needed.

Shattered and Scattered – My mojo is in my shadow places

I wrote the following blog post on January 21 but it never felt like it was time to share. Since that writing, I’ve begun the slow process of putting the pieces of my shattered self back together. Things are becoming clearer again. Dreams are being dreamed again. Goals are being set again. Reaching out to others for support is happening again. Dancing more in the light than in the dark places of my soul is happening again. I share this today from that lighter, more healed space. I share it because I believe in the power of sharing my journey for my own healing and because someone else might find hope within it. I share it now because I’ve learned to trust my inner wise warrior woman when she says GO! Whoever you are who needs to read this, you are not alone even if it feels like it right now!

When I turned over the ownership/management of Avalon Horse Farm, my heart work, 1 & 1/2 years ago, something inside of me shattered into a bazillion pieces. Avalon had held me together in so many ways after my husband, Russell, died in March, 2015. Without it as work I loved and a community I loved even more, I honestly don’t know what I would have done to get through those first few years of grief. When I was there I could feel somewhat whole and life made a little bit more sense. I was completely enmeshed within it. And so, when I let it go, a deeper shattering of my identity occurred.

The wild thing is I didn’t realize completely that this shattering had happened. I was focused on dreaming of new things. I was diving into health coaching. I was enjoying not worrying about dozens of horses and even more people all of the time. As I shattered, it’s like the patched cracks that had been inside of me ever since that first shattering when Russell died became wider and longer and spread throughout my entire being. But they were still so fine and my core self was somewhat intact that the shattering wasn’t really complete and I couldn’t always see it clearly for what it was.

Those shattered pieces stayed pretty firmly in place throughout my dad’s battle with pancreatic cancer that started just a few short months after I relinquished ownership and care of Avalon. My ability to “step into my zone” as I call it and hold myself together to be caretaker and emotional space holder held those shattered pieces together and gave me focus and purpose. Other things slipped and slid out of my attention or my care because I simply couldn’t, and didn’t want to, handle all of the things. But, I felt pretty together most of the time in the early months of his battle. I think in my focus on my dad and my family, I somehow duct taped my shattered pieces back together for awhile. Russell would love the thought of using duct tape. My dad not so much. In all truth, that’s how it feels about how I navigated through that time.

Then, as my dad got better in the spring of 2020, winning his battle with cancer, I could breathe and hope again. No longer were we worried about how much time with him we had left. And then, the pandemic hit the world. After the first few weeks of living in “my zone”, once again, the duct tape around my shattered self started to fray and pull away from those bazillion, little shattered pieces of myself. As we all moved into creating safety zones around us and trying to figure out how to function in the world, I pulled into myself in a very deep, very isolating and needed way. It was in that deep internal space that I began to see the depth and breadth of my shattered self.

As I pulled deeper and deeper into myself, I realized how profoundly lost I feel. Who I am is no longer clear. Who I want to be is no longer clear. So much stopped making sense as I flounderd through the shattered pieces of my self. Just floundered around in the broken, shattered and scattered pieces of my identity of a dozen plus years.

No longer a wife.

No longer the caretaker/hub of a community.

No longer a retreat facilitator.

No longer resonating with being a health coach.

No longer a mother of young children who need me everyday.

No longer clear of a purpose or a path.

No longer sure of who the fuck I am or who I want to be.

As I’ve sat in these pieces, I’ve pulled away from almost everyone. I’ve pulled within. I’ve thrown out ideas of actions or work to try out like I was fly fishing, which I don’t know how to do. I’ve stopped feeling adequate, competent, capable, focused or enough. I’ve tried to keep teaching. I’ve tried to keep coaching. I’ve tried to keep dreaming and building. I’ve tried to keep being just a part of the farm. I’ve tried to keep writing. I’ve tried and tried and tried.

But the truth is, I’m mainly just sitting in all of those shattered and scattered pieces of my self, with very little REAL sense of what I most want to do or who I most want to be, or where I most want to be. I’m just sitting in the pieces focusing on loving myself as deeply and completely as I can. I’m allowing myself to do whatever I can to care for each and every little shattered piece of myself as I gather them up and hold them close. I’m trusting my journey. I’m remembering to focus on my breath when I can’t do anything else. I’m reminding myself as gently as I can that I am enough and I will find my focus again.

I write this not as a “woe is me” but as a “WOW is me”. Here in the sharing of this shattered and scattered, shadowy space is my mojo, my magic, my missions somehow waiting for me. This writing my real story, not a made up one I wish were true but the very real and raw story of me, is part of my best mojo. Being honest about the dark and the light parts of my journey, not being afraid to say the hard parts, and being willing to sit with it all – that is mojo making for me. When I share these shadowy part of my story, the shattered pieces of myself somehow start fitting back together. I stop feeling so exhausted and feel a new understanding of who I am and who I can be settle into place. And then I can move again.

So, I gather up each shattered tiny piece with love, knowing they are all part of the whole that is me, knowing that I am slowly figuring out the next part of MY journey, and knowing that I am exactly where I need to be right now. Those shattered pieces will become the most beautiful window into my way forward!

2021 – Get MOJO back!

Get my MOJO back. Yep, that is what my intention is for 2021. I’m not making resolutions. I’m barely setting goals. All I know is I long to get my MOJO back. I don’t even really know what that means for me right now. I just know that is my energetic intention for this year.

For weeks, I’ve been reflecting, considering setting big goals, wondering why I don’t want to do a vision board which I usually do this time of year, and basically just spinning my wheels. Words and intentions to focus my energy around for 2021 have flitted into my mind and then flitted right back out as I’ve realized “Nah, that isn’t it. Nope not that one either. Hmm maybe, but no I guess not.” Absolutely nothing grabbed my attention longer than a second. And, I’ve come to learn if it can’t hold my attention longer than a second, there is no way it is something that will stick with me throughout an entire year of creating, dreaming, and living.

The picture here is soooo perfect for how I’ve been feeling the past several months. That mama lion is the tired, very tired, me who is both grateful for the gifts and lessons from 2020, while also being utterly exhausted by it all. She’s still awake but she needs to rest. That little lion is the 2021 me who is moving forward but has a whole lot of learning to do as she grows in understanding of her world. She is possibility. She is curiosity. She is wide odd wonder as she bravely steps into a new world to explore. She steps out knowing mama lion is still the protector and wise one ready to leap up to defend those new steps being taken.

This picture is the only one that I’ve put onto my 2021 vision board. One of the lessons that 2020 taught me is that I need to learn how to be more flexible and allow things to unfold in a more free flowing way. There is so very little that I really can control and I am wanting to adopt more of an attitude of “we will see” for this year. I will add pictures to my lion board of what DOES happen in 2021, of what I DO create. Then, at the end of the year I will have a very unique vision board that will feel amazing to behold.

It was a few days ago, as I was looking at this powerful picture, that my intention and focus for 2021 hit me with a surprise rush of YES energy. All I want to do is “Get my MOJO back”. That is what I want to weave into my year. I recognize that about 80% of me is that tired, watchful, resting mama lion right now. I simply have little desire to goal set at all. I’m just tired. I honor that mama lion me for all she has done and for the watchfulness she still is doing. The other 20% is that baby lion who is ready to go find our MOJO. That baby lion knows finding our MOJO will lead to more energy, joy, purpose and the discipline needed to achieve whatever goals we set. I am quietly cheering baby lion me on for her readiness to step into something new.

There is much rumbling around inside of me as I sit with all of this. I feel the hope awakening that more clarity around the next direction I want to step into for my life is possible. I feel the glimmers of excitement that maybe one day, someday, I will wake up feeling rested again. I trust that I am right where I need to be and that I am in for a new fascinating journey this year. I love the ideas slowly coming to me about what a “Get my MOJO back” journey can look like.

Thanks for the lessons 2020. Let’s do this 2021!

Surprise Gifts – Lesson from 2020

Do you know what one of the biggest lessons of 2020 was for me? 🤔🤔🤔It’s the reality that there are amazing gifts that come in surprise ways that others might think of as “oh crap” moments. I probably really started learning this a very long time ago and it was emphasized through my years at Avalon as well as my life journey since Russell died. But this past year has most definitely solidified it for me.

Today ended up being the absolutely perfect Day #1 of 2021 for me. PERFECT FOR ME! Am I bummed that I had to cancel lessons with 7 kids; losing income, missing spending time playing, and disappointing them? YEP! Did I also allow the day to unfold in ways I couldn’t have expected, but could have hoped for? Also YEP!

The precipitation overnight created an icy winter wonderland at Avalon. Because I live on property, it is SUPER easy for me to get to the horses when no one else can. I loved being able to help out the farm community. I loved moving my body first thing in the morning. I loved the quiet of the farm with only the horses, dogs and cats to amuse me. I loved the sparkle of a glittering land on the first day of 2021. 💖

Because of the FABULOUS gift of time that an ice day gave to me I was able to dive into reflection, cleansing, dreaming and creating for my day. I was able to jump onto a Feminine Business Planning session that I forgot I had signed up for. 😂 I baked cookies from my grandmother’s recipe. I started a blog post about what I am ready to let go of as learned in 2020 and what I am taking with me into 2021. I made a fabulous dinner. I read a new novel. I messaged with dozens of people about their hopes for the new years. I reclaimed my desk space which is even more magical with cool new gifts from my kids and my students. I allowed my day to unfold as it would. And it has been pure magic! I even created our first JOY JAR out of an old vase we got from my parents. Seriously so excited about this first day of 2021 I have had!

2020 taught me on a deeper level that there is magic in the ordinary. That is where I find my deepest joys, in the ordinary things that sparkle throughout my day if I am only willing to see it. I love that I am taking this forward into a new year.

It’s okay to not be okay

5 years ago when Russell died I made a commitment to myself to live out loud, not let things bottle up inside of me, and be as honest as I could with myself and others about where I was really at in my grief/life journey. For the first year, I didn’t second guess myself very much in following through on this commitment and I strongly believe it helped me navigate the emotional waters of early grief. And then, somewhere in that second year, I began to tell myself I was still committed to these things but I started second guessing myself a whole lot. I started saying or writing less and I started bottling things up more. That has not served me very well and actually make navigating any deep emotional waters way more challenging. My work coaching with the horses recently is helping me see how I need to make some shifts. They call me to be real and honest and feel my feelings! I am reminded of the importance for my own mental health to live out loud and share more story.

Today, I am reminded that it is okay to not be okay right now and to just honestly stop trying to act like I am. The ONE thing that has gotten me through the Christmas holidays each year since Russell died has been having all of my kids with me. Having us all together has infused me with enough joy and love and feeling of rightness that I’ve been able to want to celebrate. When we are all together I feel as whole as I possibly can. For those days, all is right with my world.

This year, as we inch closer to Christmas, I honestly could care less that it is happening. Because of reality of the pandemic and the massive surges happening throughout out world, we have made the very difficult decision to not have Kateri come home this Christmas. We are taking the warnings from the healthcare community very seriously. We are listening to our friends and family who are already exhausted beyond comprehension with how overloaded the system is. We are aware that a few of us have some factors that put at us at a higher risk level. We have lived the reality of having a loved one die in an ICU unit after a very sudden, unexplained illness. We are not willing to take chances this year that could possibly put us at a higher risk of losing someone we love.

Am I okay with our decision? Yes, in the sense that I believe we are making a joint, smart, safe choice. And no, in the sense that I will miss her more than I can possibly say.

I do not know who I will be seeing in my family this year during the holidays. I do not know what traditions will have to postponed until another year. I do not know what new traditions might unfold as we strive to create new ways of feeling some joy and connection. I do not know so very many things.

I do know that I will find ways to connect, to express my love, to feel joy and also to honor that things are not the same as they have been. I do know that I am uber sensitive to all of us in the world who are making REALLY hard choices to say no to parties and meeting with people in person outside of what we absolutely HAVE to do. I do know that I will say no to almost everything extra this year because if I feel it isn’t safe to be with my daughter and my other family members, it would feel very inauthentic and hypocritical to say yes to other things. I do know that I will continue to take one step in front of the other and be okay when I am okay, and not be okay when I am not okay.

For every single one of you struggling right now, IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY ALL OF THE TIME. And, it is okay to be honest about that. Find people who can hold space for you until you feel okay again.

We’ve got this!

Heart’s Truth

One week into my rededication to leveling up with my dreams, my goal, and my life’s journey and I almost didn’t share this photo. Not because I don’t love what it is about, because I do. The honest truth is I don’t like how I look in this photo. I mentally smacked my head and reminded myself that is exactly why I NEED to share this photo tonight. I need to share because my deeper dive into getting real with myself, stop making excuses and take action toward creating my best me and my best is all about loving myself right here, right now and living my life out loud. Heck the very first thing I shared last week in my action plan was 1. Stop the negative self-talk and love myself through it. Well, okay Self, I will share the picture.

What makes me most happy about this picture is what was happening during the time it was taken. It was at the tail end of a magical, emotional, beautiful first Breathe and Be coaching session with a friend. It was a session of watching Penny invite my friend into recognizing the safe space she needed to listen to her heart. It was a sacred time of being allowed to hold space for someone as the whispers of her heart’s dreams were spoken out loud. It was an hour and a half of being witness to magic unfold.

This is what all of my work on myself right now is about; allowing my heart’s truth to be made visible so that I can step deeper into work that flows from my soul. I’ve taken action every day in the past week to open the door a little bit wider to stepping bravely onto a new path of being and acting in the world. Conversations with women who can act as mentors, cheerleaders, guides and teachers have been numerous this past week. Each conversation has felt like another thread to this new tapestry I am weaving.

My health journey has never been about how I look, though that can creep in at times like it does for many of us. My choices to become my healthiest self in my mind, body, and heart are about being able to FEEL most like the me I want to be. Yes, I am celebrating today that I’ve lost 2 lbs in the past week and 8 lbs in the past month. That means less pressure on my joints, more energy and a clearer mind. It feels great to have my body feel better.

What I am most choosing to celebrate tonight is the reminder this picture is giving me that it’s not about outward appearances and trappings for me. Living my best life and being my best me is about living with joy from being aligned with my heart and my soul. Well, that’s what I got to do tonight.

83 more days to go! Can hardly wait to see what is in store for me.

Breathe and Be. You break or you build from here.


“You have this between you now as part of your history together. There’s been hurt on both sides. That changes things. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. Either way, things will never be the same as they were. You break or you build from here.”  The Queen’s Bargain Anne Bishop

Emotions rush through me, up from the darkest place of my being, like a swollen river raging out of control.   Memories that have been playing in my mind for a weeks come flooding in with a fierceness that takes my breath away.  I feel out of breath from the punch to the gut I experience.   I am rocked to my core and want nothing more than to run away.   I jump up out of my  chair ready to run to something else to do, anything that will stop my feelings.   Maybe I will get some food. Maybe I will turn on my phone and FB scroll.  Maybe I will turn on Netflix.  Maybe I will find some brainless task to do.  Anything to stop the flood of feelings and the panic that rushes over me as I experience being very close to some truth that won’t be silenced anymore.

All of this happens in the span of a minute or less, though the intensity of it all feels like a lifetime.  Then something inside of me, that wisdom self who seeks to call me to deeper healing, speaks up.   “Stop Lara! Right now, stop running.   Sit down and breathe into the pain that desperately wants to be healed.   Breathe into and know that you are strong enough for this truth and you are ready to heal that wound a little bit more today.   Stop. Breathe. Be.”

So I stop. I breathe. I allow myself to be in this time and this moment.   I stop running.  I breathe into the pain rather than push it away.   I trust that I can hear what I need to hear.   Stop. Breathe. Be.

Russell and I were in a very broken place in our relationship when he died.   We had started counseling which helps me believe that we would have found our way back to one another.   But we had just started and the brokenness was the predominant thread within our relationship. My memories of our brokenness and the hurts we had each inflicted upon each other have been playing over and over and over in my mind for much of this year.  Why this year, I am not sure.   Maybe because I’ve had so much more time to think about things. Maybe because I’m watching all of the hurt that people are inflicting upon one another in our world and so it is spotlighting my own history more.  Maybe because I am ready to listen to what wisdom I can gain from these truths.  Maybe because it is time to forgive myself for what I did and forgive him for what he did so that I can stop beating US up for the brokenness we created.   Maybe so I can stop feeling like a complete failure.  Maybe so I can let it go and move into a deeper place of healing and a new part of my life journey.   Maybe because there is a growing part of me that wants to stop moving through my life as a sleepwalker.  Maybe I want to fully wake up. Maybe, probably, all of these things and more.

Stop. Breathe. Be. Stop. Breathe. Be. Stop. Breathe. Be.

“Breathing in, breathing out, feeling resentful, feeling happy, being able to drop it, eating our food, brushing our teeth, walking, sitting – whatever we’re doing could be done with one intention.  That intention is that we want to wake up, we want to ripen our ability to let go, we want to realize our connection with all beings. Everything in our lives has the potential to wake us up or put us to sleep. Allowing it to awaken us is up to us.” Comfortable with Uncertainty Pema Chodron.

Whatever the reasons are for why I can’t stop thinking of Russell, our brokenness and the hope I hold that we would have learned to build a new path for US, it is clear it is time for me to sit with it all.  It is time for me to journal all that I can – the pain, the hope, the dark, the light.  It is time for me to stop running from it all using food, busyness, and escapes to avoid thinking about it.  It is time for me to say yes to listening to what needs to be heard.  It is time for me to say yes to healing this.  I stand at a tipping point of either breaking further or building from here.

Stop. Breathe. Be. Believe.