BARE Coping instead of barely coping.

BARE Coping instead of barely coping.

When you are experiencing life as normal (whatever that is!), you can work the BARE program in a way that can feel light and fun, giving yourself time to really dig into the principles and take days to soak up pleasure or make leisurely lists of new things to try. But what I want to show you is how incorporating the BARE program into an extremely stressful time can be just as life-giving. Sometimes, it can be a lifeline. 

At least, that is how it’s been for me these past few months. 

My parents are sick. Both of them. And when I say sick, I mean VERY, VERY SICK.

My 85 year-old Mom has been under hospice care for the last seven weeks.

My 88 year-old Dad has been in the hospital for three of those six weeks. He has had congenital heart failure, pneumonia, kidney failure, and a bone marrow disorder.

My sister and I live on the east coast but we have spent much of the last 6 weeks with our parents in Pittsburgh.

Staying committed to my process of constantly working the 7 Principles of BARE has helped me to remain grounded as I navigate one of the hardest times in my life.

#1 Environmental Detox

My parents live in a small apartment that is crowded and disorganized. 

My sister and I stay in a little room with two twin beds that have polyester sheets and pillows that are as flat as pancakes.

Starting with Step #1, I asked myself, “What is one little thing that I could do to make my environment feel better?”

And the answer was easy: Make my bed more comfortable.

So off I went to Marshalls, and for $30 I bought 100% cotton sateen, pretty pink sheets, and for $20, I got “the world’s most comfortable pillow!”


Ahhhh...much better.

#2 Add Pleasure to your life.

At first I asked myself where I could possibly find pleasure during this very stressful time? The answer is outings to some of my favorite places in Pittsburgh.

My favorite shoe store in the whole world, Littles, happens to be in Pittsburgh! So far, I’m averaging a shoe purchase a week (one pair for every week I’ve been here so far!)

A little excessive, I know! But I’m okay with that! Desperate times call for desperate measures!

And then there’s Pamela’s, which happens to make the best pancakes in the world. Don’t believe me? Ask Barack Obama! He and Michelle have been Pamela’s enthusiasts since his first visit to Pittsburgh in 2008.


I have been sneaking away for a pancake breakfast whenever I can, and have savored every bite.


#3 Move with Love

Every day, before I deal with the day’s medical issues, I ask my body what it needs, what would feel like love?

Usually it answers, “Going for a walk would feel like love.” Sometimes it says stretching. Other times a few minutes of a strength workout is what feels most loving. 

I ask. I listen. I do.

#4 Eat with Attentiveness

This has been the toughest for me, but here is what I can tell you.

I now look at food in terms of power and pleasure/comfort food. Some days I absolutely eat way more pleasure/comfort food than power food, but here is the good news:

I don’t beat myself up for it. 

I get that it is serving me in the moment, and I acknowledge that with acceptance and love.

I eat it slowly, with attention, which allows me to stop eating after only one serving.

I pay attention to my stomach, and stop eating when I am full.

When I do have a day that is filled with too much pleasure food, I tend to eat mostly power food the next day.

#5 Closet Detox

In the little room that I share with my sister, there is a dresser and every drawer in that dresser is stuffed with old things that my parents never use.

The closet is jam-packed and the clothes are hung on a collection of mismatched hangers, many of which are old bent-up wire hangers. 

I emptied two of the drawers creating space for some of my things.

Then I moved on to the closet and took a bunch of my Mom’s fancy outfits, outfits that she will never wear again, folded them up, and put them in the corner of the closet. This freed up about 3 feet of space to hang up my clothes.

I went to Marshalls and for 10 bucks I got 25 felt hangers.



I can breathe a little better now.

#6 Mind Detox

This step is my #1 Lifesaver.

Every morning, as soon as I wake up, I make a cup of coffee, and sit down and write.

I allow space for every single thought, every single worry, and every single fear.

I release it all onto the paper.

Then, I go through every one of those thoughts, and turn them around so that they serve me, I neutralize them, I look at them from a different perspective, I separate facts from stories that I make up in my mind. I help myself to feel better by challenging my own thoughts.

#7 Make a Scene

Every single day, I use my voice to advocate for my parents. I am polite, yet assertive, as I consult with hospitalists, nephrologists, hematologists, cardiologists and gastroenterologists for my dad, as well as nurses, caregivers and hospice workers for my mom.

I’m in a place where the 7 Principles of BARE are making the difference between barely surviving and having the energy to continue to be the bravest and most confident version of myself, no matter what is happening around me.


Looking Back Before Jumping Forward

There are a few days left of 2018! It’s the perfect time to pause and celebrate what you’ve accomplished this year. I’m providing a few reflection questions to use as you review your year. Let your answers guide you to create the life you want to life, and then jump into 2019 with revitalized energy and a new purpose! 



First Cousins

I had a very close extended family growing up, and this past weekend some of us saw each other for the first time in 30 years. I’m not sure how that much time passed by, but what brought us together was a collective need to experience joy in the midst of tragedy.



How was your summer?

Our seasons are full of experiences, usually both wonderful ones and hard ones. This week, I’m sharing the highlights and lowlights of my summer, and working to stay present to the full kaleidoscope of human emotions. So before we dive into fall, join me in taking a look back at the warmer months.



I am not enough

When I first realized how smart my husband was, my first thought was:

Am I enough?

Wouldn’t my husband need to be with someone of equal intelligence?



Are you in your way?

What does your heart yearn for?

Do you know what you want but your thoughts are constantly telling you that you are not smart enough or talented enough.

I want to help you get out of your own way, so you can get to the life that you crave.


What’s in your way?

What do you really want to do with your life? 

Maybe you have a list of all the things your heart really longs for.

But now you are not sure how to incorporate the life you crave into your already busy life.

So let’s look at how you can overcome some of the possible obstacles to create the life you really want.


Dig Deeper. Listen Harder.

What does your heart yearn for?

What do you crave?

Are you doing what you really want to do with your life?

If not, why? Is it because you don’t really know what you want?

Let’s figure out what it is!



“Success” is personal

What does the word “Success” mean to you?

Notice I said to YOU.
Not to your parents. Not to your friends. Not to your spouse. Not to society.

You are the only one who can define success for your life.



Stop being so selfish!

I have a client named Cassie who works full time and takes care of her three children. Cassie is exhausted. She says she has no time to do anything beyond getting her work done and taking care of her family, and even if she did have the time, she feels she should be devoting every second to her family. They need her. It would be selfish for her to take time for herself.

Many people think like Cassie. They will not make the time to take care of themselves because they think it is “selfish.”



Just Say Yes!


People Pleasers love to use this simple three letter word.
Yes, I can...
Yes, of course I will…
Yes, I would be happy to...

People Pleasers habitually use the Y word to everyone.
Everyone except themselves.


1 Comment

Oops. I did it again!

Do you find yourself getting triggered by other people’s opinions of you?

It’s totally normal to have the urge to seek the approval of others. So what do we do when we find ourselves feeling hurt, angry or defensive by being judged by others?

1 Comment

1 Comment

Ambiguous Grief

How do you feel about the term ‘Empty Nester?’

Even though the term describes my life stage, it is not big enough to encompass all the growing and building I have done in the five years since my last child left home.

However, even with a full life, there is a nagging, vague sort of sadness that comes with releasing our children into the world. It’s a special kind of grief.  

Join me on the blog today where I’m talking about that grief and offering up my tried-and-true tools for working through all kinds of grief.

1 Comment

Who Is Your Boss

Who dictates what you do with your life?
Is it your work boss? Your spouse? Your children? Your friends? Society? Your Inner Critic that tells your what you “should” or “should not” be doing?
If you are letting someone else call the shots, you are giving away your personal power.
It’s time to take it back. Now!

Letting Go

I was cleaning out my files today and I ran across this beautiful piece about how to Let Go. I don’t know who the author is, but I wanted to share it with you.

Perhaps you need to let go of a burden or sorrow, losing a loved one, or learning how to live with a heartache.  

If you are having difficulty figuring out what Letting Go really means, I hope this reading will help.

Crushing the Fear Peanut

How did Jess go from running a disappointing race to running a great race?
Simple, she just crushed the Fear Peanut.
Want to know what the Fear Peanut is?
Keep reading to find out…

Are you a People Pleaser?

You just want everyone to like you. So you are willing to do whatever it takes to get them to like you. No matter what they ask. NO matter what the cost is to you.