An Invitation

You can create a life you love… right here, right now.

You’re going to work with the raw material of your life… exactly as it is.

Start with a willingness to practice creating moments of
Peace, Joy, Empowerment, And love… in each day.

What would that look like?
What is peace? Joy? Empowerment? Love?
How does one live those qualities?

Peace is a deep inner quiet we each have within us, that can be accessed anywhere, any
time, by briefly pausing, breathing deeply and allowing one’s self to be still.

Joy is the exuberant feeling that comes from being aware and awake to the small miracles
and wonder of life in each moment.

Empowerment is recognizing one’s ability to take action, and taking action.

Love is making a choice in this moment to support one’s divine potential or that of
another with kindness and compassion. Love is not an adjective, it is a verb.

You can create a life you love by bringing these qualities to the circumstances of your life
as they are now. All you need is a sincere “yes” to yourself… and a daybook…

A daybook can be on your phone, I-pad, computer. It can be a big beautiful journal or a
little notepad that can be carried easily in a pocket or purse. It can be a graphic journal
where you draw instead of write.

Each day just take a moment to record:

When today did I create a moment of peace?
When today did I create a moment of joy?
When today did I create a moment of empowerment?
When today did I create a moment of love?

As you begin doing this right here, right now… your life will change and you will begin
creating a life you love.

Posts made in May, 2013

Claiming Our Power

Claiming Our Power

“The impulse to power is a kind of life force that propels us into the world to sing our song. . . Power is made up of acts that enable us to feel that we are the creators of our own experience.”– Ethel S. Person M.D., author of “Feeling Strong – The Achievement of Authentic Power.”

Are you living a life that is uniquely you, a life that reflects your individuality, follows your intuition, and honors your personal truth?

Or, is life living you?

As one woman said, “I can’t seem to change the script of my life.”

Creating an authentic life requires claiming our inherent power.

Simply put, power is our ability to act. We all have it. We are allowed to use it!


We can honor and access our power by:

  • Trusting our intuition and ourselves.
  • Claiming our right to choose.
  • Taking responsibility for ourselves.
  • Taking action.
  • Honoring the uniqueness of our individual life.
  • Seeing the truth about our lives – this includes seeing what is, feeling what is, saying what is.
  • Setting clear boundaries (discussed in chapter 16.)
  • Letting go of guilt.
  • Stepping out of the victim role.

Claire came to group therapy burdened and in anguish. Her young adult daughter had recently entered a romantic relationship that Claire felt certain would end in heartbreak. This man possessed questionable characteristics and she feared he was taking advantage of her daughter. Claire had warned her daughter of the dangers, but felt powerless in the face of her daughter’s determination to continue the relationship.

While acknowledging the validity of Claire’s concerns, the group leader noted that something deep in Claire’s personal experience was being touched and asked her what that might be.

She sat quietly for a moment noticing the inner experience of her own feelings and breathing into them.  Finally she said quietly, “I once had a relationship that reminds me of my daughter’s relationship. I remember how I was so vulnerable, even immobilized, by the disparity of power.”

As the group gave audience to Claire’s exploration of her own experience with a power imbalance, she realized she had tried to compensate by taking advantage of her partner “in sneaky ways.”

“I wasn’t true to myself,” she reflected. The group pointed out that she  hadn’t been taking her own power seriously.

“No! And it hurt me.” Claire exclaimed, “and I’m afraid that the same thing will happen to my daughter!” Tears rolled down Claire’s face. “I was the same age my daughter is now,” she said.

The room was hushed by this salient similarity.

women redheads models wolves katya severnay 2048x2047 wallpaper_www.animalhi.com_72The group then explored the course Claire’s relationship had taken.  How she navigated it, how it ended, what she learned from it, how it had been part of a “coming of age,” experience for her.

With the group’s encouragement Claire began to see that her daughter also had a good chance of learning from her experience and finding her way through it over time. To honor her daughter’s power she needed to let go and trust her daughter’s process. By so doing, she was also not giving her power away to a situation that was out of her control.

Claire’s work was to turn her focus to her own life, while letting her daughter know she would be there for her if needed. She realized she was experiencing a bit of a “power outage.” Her job felt stale. She had been neglecting her self-care. She was allowing other people’s agendas to take over her own desires.

She recommitted to exercising her power to take action. She cut back on work hours so she could pursue her passion for photography. She set clear boundaries about what she was willing to accept with other people’s requests for her time. She returned to her self-care practices.

It is easy for any of us to feel uncertain about our power and how to use it. We begin where we can, with what we have.  We all have intuition, which can illuminate the darkest corridor.  We can learn how to recognize and trust our intuition.  We can claim our right to choose and decide for ourselves. We can commit to living our own unique life without apology.

Years ago, when I turned 40, I went through a major life crisis in which I abandoned much of my own self-empowerment. I ended up dealing with a set of circumstances — some self-created, some imposed — that came close to ruining my life.

tumblr_mbjgttVE4b1r06q46o1_500A Godsend came in the form of a best-selling book with an odd title.  Women Who Run With the Wolves, Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. became the “river guide” for riding the rapids for a safe journey home to my true self.  Its pages were replete with deeply spiritual wisdom both ancient and new, which buoyed me up and carried me along. Now, I had an oar!

Dr. Estes, a practicing Jungian psychoanalyst and Post-Trauma Recovery Specialist has worked with survivors of war, the Columbine School Shooting, and 9/11.  Just as important is her own brave survival – the child of immigrant refugees who could not read or write, she grew up in abject poverty. Later in life she navigated the challenge of being a divorced mother of three.

She wrote her book over a period of 20 years. She kept pursuing a publisher even though she received 47 rejections before it was finally purchased.  After being published it was on the New York Times Best Seller List for 145 weeks.

My copy is tattered, torn, and marked in multiple colors of ink from my numerous readings.  I’m sure at least once I reached a place where I held it against my chest and cried.  I was finally able to tell myself the truth I needed to hear and which I now finally believed.  I said my truth aloud, “I deserve better than this.”

To realize my worth was a turning point.  I immediately began taking action, claiming responsibility, owning my power once again.  I shocked myself with the lengths I was willing to go, and the strength and resilience I possessed.  After many months of hard work that required all my courage, I had ridden the rapids of that rough river into a place of calm waters, to my true empowered self once again. During my rocky time of grappling with power, one quote in Dr. Este’s book offered me encouragement on numerous occasions.

“There is a wild voice that lives inside all of us, one that whispers, ‘Stay here long enough to revive your hope, to drop your terminal cool, to give up defensive half-truths, to creep, carve, bash your way through, stay here long enough to see what is right for you, stay here long enough to become strong, to try the try that will make it, stay here long enough to make the finish line, it matters not, how long it takes or in what style . . .” Clarissa Pinkola Estes

The journey of owning our power can be precarious at times, but it is worth the courage required because it leads us to an authentic life where the possibility of peace, joy, and love in all its forms are not only possible, but probable.

*      *     *    *    *    *

Dear Readers, This is an important time.  In less than a month the final chapter of “Creating a Life You Love, A Woman’s Guide to Peace, Joy, Empowerment, and Love” will be published here.  To celebrate that event I will be presenting a workshop on the book,  Sat. June 22, in Vancouver, WA.  To get information on this please go to

After the last chapter of the book is posted I will continue to write weekly articles for the site!  Create a wonderful week! Tamera 

Read More

Creating Love

Creating Love

“ Learning how to set boundaries is a necessary step in learning to be a friend to ourselves. It is our responsibility to take care of ourselves – to protect ourselves when it is necessary. It is impossible to learn to be loving to ourselves without owning our self – and owning our rights and responsibilities as co-creators of our lives.” ~ Robert Burney, Author

Our ability to love can be strengthened by learning to have healthy boundaries.

95Think of your heart as a garden.  It holds all that is precious and important about you. It is there that you till the soil of your emotional life – the rosy joy and thorny sorrow; the weeds of disappointment and unmet expectations that sprout; the friendly sunflowers welcoming life and love . . .

Because of the fairytales we’ve been told, we have come to believe that true love will and should meet our every need. But living love is a journey to wholeness that requires an ability to attend to our own garden when those we love let us down.

That moment of searing disappointment can be our greatest opportunity to till the soil of self-growth.  Our response to the inevitable limitations of others and ourselves is powerfully influenced by the boundaries we set.

Boundaries are like garden gates. They protect the garden, while still allowing access to it by those we choose to invite into the garden.  Examples of boundaries include:

  • Choosing what and how much information we share about ourselves.
  • Who can come into our garden and who can’t.
  • What opinions we will consider or accept, and what opinions we will not
  • What behavior we will tolerate and how we will respond to inappropriate behavior.
  • Who we will be physically intimate with and how, and who we will not. (This also includes allowing or rejecting other physical touch such as hugging.)
  • Choosing and honoring our spiritual beliefs, deciding for ourselves.
  • Taking responsibility for and respecting our needs.
  • Deciding how we will use our time.
  • Respecting our right to makes choices for ourselves.


Brainstorming about what boundaries we need, then and actually writing them out prepares us to protect ourselves. It also frees us from unrealistic expectations about what others should do for us. This enables us to claim our power by not becoming overly dependent on others.

As I was writing this chapter I pulled out my journal from the year I was 35.  I was seeing a wonderful therapist Wood-Garden-Gateswho taught me about boundaries.  As part of my work she gave me an assignment to draw a picture of some type of physical boundary.  This is where the garden gate image first emerged. The drawing is still in the old journal.  A cobble stone path leads to a white picket gate with an arch over it.  The gate is closed and has a keyhole in the shape of a heart. Beyond the gate lies a garden abloom with flowers and a large tree with a rope swing hanging from it.

On the back of the drawing are a list of boundaries I had decided to set with a difficult relative.  I determined that I would not be “guilted” by their expectations of me, that I would no longer defend my positions, that any conversations that lapsed into criticism of me or other members of my family would immediately be terminated. I also had made the decision that I would give myself all the time I needed to make decisions versus being pressured, that I would not do things I didn’t feel good about, and that I wouldn’t compromise myself to avoid emotional backlash from the other person.  I also released myself from having unrealistic expectations about this person.

I had to face enormous fear to actually enforce these boundaries and then face the consequences that followed.  Whenever we create significant change in relationships we are usually faced with a “change back” reaction.  The other feels anxiety about this new territory and tries to get us to go back to our old ways. This is time for strength and adopting the powerful tool of being a broken record player – repeating the boundary as often as needed.  For example, “As I have said, I am not discussing this private issue with you.”  Or “As I have said, I am no longer willing to  . . . .”

The boundaries I set turned out to be a blessing for both of us over time.  They actually freed up my ability to love and appreciate all the goodness this relative possessed so that we could find the areas we did connect.  I also enjoyed, perhaps for the first time in my life, the exhilarating feeling of not being beholden to someone else for what were my personal choices. I was free!

Here are some other examples from people I have worked with.

Barbara‘s husband had many endearing qualities, but could lapse into episodes of anger and emotional abuse.  For years she had asked, “How can he treat me like this?” But a more empowering question was, “Why do I allow this treatment?” She set a boundary that when he had a tantrum she would exit the situation stating clearly and calmly, “I am not willing to be talked to like this.  I am going on a walk and will be back a little later.”  (It should be noted that if a person is suffering extreme emotional abuse or physical abuse professional intervention should immediately be accessed by calling the police, a domestic violence hot line, and accessing counseling to help navigate this dangerous behavior.)

George had a friend who constantly took advantage of him.  He liked his friend but bore tremendous resentment.  He too, needed to take a look at why he allowed the friend borrowing large sums of money that were not paid back, and showing up late for engagements they had together. He couldn’t force his friend to respect him, but he could respect himself by setting clear boundaries which included saying no.

The garden gate swings both ways.  Healthy relationships thrive when we also honor the boundaries of others in our lives and treat them with respect. This includes monitoring ourselves.  Some examples:

Talking too much, not allowing space for the other.

  • Giving unsolicited advice.
  • Trying to “fix” the other.
  • Meddling.
  • Gossiping.
  • Using “you” statements and judging.
  • Not respecting the other’s time or space.
  • Being needy. Not talking responsibility for our own needs.


Tending to the garden of relationship requires setting healthy boundaries.  We can create a gate (with a heart-shaped lock) that swings both ways and allows the love to flourish both within and without.




Read More

Creating Love

Creating Love

“Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued . . .”  Dr. Brene Brown.

Would you like to fall in love all over again?

Would you like to feel like you are living with your soul mate?

Would you like to deepen a friendship? Move from strife to connection with your child, your sibling, or your parents?

black-couple-talkingEmotional intimacy is created when we seek first to understand before we are understood.  Can you show up in relationship with the intention to give, versus get?   Can you meet others where they are at with openness, curiosity, and kindness?

To do so does not mean we abandon ourselves in relationship.

Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. an author and expert on relationship says that intimacy “means that we can be who we are in a relationship, and allow the other person to do the same.  Being who we are requires that we can talk openly about things that are important to us, that we take a clear position on where we stand on important emotional issues, and that we clarify the limits of what is acceptable and tolerable to us in a relationship. ‘Allowing the other person to do the same’ means that we can stay emotionally connected to that other party who thinks, feels, and believes differently, without needing to change, convince or fix the other. An intimate relationship is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices, or betrays the self and each party expresses strength and vulnerability, weakness and competence in a balanced way.” — The Dance of Intimacy

th-1When Jon and April walked into my office, the icy energy between them was palpable.  They tried to sit as far away from one another as possible, which is difficult, because my couch is a love seat!

April was immediately in tears as she told me of the difficulty she had communicating with her husband.  They communicated and got along fine as long as they stayed on safe topics.  She felt frustrated that whenever they had a problem she brought up, he became defensive and the relationship quickly ignited into a burst of fiery conflict.  She complained that “he took everything personal” and that he could never take responsibility for “his mistakes.”

Jon countered strongly that he was tired of April’s “blaming” and “you messages.”

He also wanted her to tell him what she wanted, not blame him for what he wasn’t doing. She also was long winded and would say more than he could respond to.

As I probed a little deeper, I learned that Jon was afraid of admitting to, or taking responsibility for mistakes he may have made in the relationship because he was afraid that April would abandon him if he acknowledged any missteps.

April, it turned out, was in despair because she felt that had no way to address the problems in their relationship without it turning into a bigger problem. But she was failing to see her part in the circularity of relationship.  The problem with blame is that it gives away our power and it creates distance in relationship.

My job was to teach them some skills of communication that could deepen the emotional intimacy in their marriage.  I introduced them to reflective listening.  I had them begin practicing immediately.

I instructed April to state her concern with Jon without using a “you” message and to keep it brief. I instructed Jon to imagine putting on an “emotional raincoat” where he would visualize anything that felt threatening to him running off his protective coat so he could stay connected to April and hear what she had to say.

It took several attempts to obtain some beginning mastery of this new conversational style.  But eventually it sounded like this:

April: “Jon, I appreciate how hard you work for our family. I also work hard and I have felt frustrated lately when I find myself getting dinner on the table, and supervising the kids by myself. I’m tired too and I would like us to work together.”

Jon: “April, it sounds like you’re frustrated that you are attending to the needs of our family alone when we get home from work.  I hear you asking for more support from me. It makes sense that you’re feeling this way and I am willing to step up to the plate more than I have been.”

At this point April was tearing up, but this time they were not tears of hurt, but tears of having her message received.  She had also learned the importance of accepting responsibility for her feelings and for asking for what she needed in a clear and concise way. By stepping away from a blaming stance she was owning her power and removing a barrier to emotional intimacy.

Next Jon had his turn.  He said, “I feel hurt when I am blamed for our problems. I agree that I could be more mindful about your needs, but I am resistant to talking about what could be improved in our relationship when I feel shamed. I would like it if you directly ask me for what you need without pointing out my faults.”

April responded, “Jon, I apologize that I have been hurting you by the way I have approached our problems.  I can see that you would feel hurt and resistant when I blame you.  I haven’t seen my part in the resistance that arises because of the shaming element of my conversation with you. I am willing to work on this.”

The relief on Jon’s face was visceral. He was tired of being “the bad guy.” It meant so much that his experience could also be seen and acknowledged. The small couch was no longer an issue.  The energy in the room had shifted.  We all could feel the glow of warmth and love.

Of course in relationship, it doesn’t always go this way.  Learning to hold and hear another person’s experience isn’t easy. Our reactions to one another are often burdened by baggage from our own childhood experience.  It takes practice and a willingness to create a safe and open place with another person.  Definitely disagreement and conflict will arise in our mortal attempts at this higher way of loving.

But remember, even if the other person isn’t saying things in the most friendly of ways or is resisting, the stalemate can always be broken if even just one person stops fighting and starts trying to understand the other person using reflective listening.

th-2There is an important opportunity in these challenging relationship patterns.  They are a doorway to healing and becoming more whole for each person in the relationship. As they are seen and heard now, past experiences are also healed. Meanwhile emotional intimacy grows and so much love is created!

Years ago my husband and I had the rare opportunity to do a two hour counseling session with Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., a marriage counselor and author of Getting the Love You Want, A Guide for Couples.  Like most couples, we were navigating our own marriage minefield at the time; we’d taken a little shrapnel on the battlefield of life and walked with a slight emotional limp.

I do not remember what each of us said that afternoon or what the problem was.  What I will never forget is how in love I felt with my husband as we deepened our ability to hear and understand each other.

These skills also deepen relationships as we practice them with our children, other relatives, and friends.  Our work is to give the other our presence, to listen with the desire to understand them, to acknowledge their feelings and experience, and to do so with some healthy detachment that allows us to step away from personalizing what we are hearing.

Emotional intimacy is about not abandoning our loved ones or ourselves.  It’s about owning our power by taking responsibility for our needs and emotions.  We are then free to respond to others with love, care and concern.  We are able to give more freely.  We learn how to live love.

Join me next week for a chapter on setting healthy boundaries in relationships.


Read More

Creating Love

“. . . in attempting to examine love we will be beginning to toy with mystery. . . we will be attempting to examine the unexaminable and to know the unknowable.  Love is too large, too deep ever to be truly understood or measured or limited within the framework of words.” – M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Recently my husband Brian and I celebrated our 35th anniversary; welcomed our seventh grandchild, Amelia Jean Jackson, into the world; and witnessed our son-in-law, Mike Bartlett, receive a master’s degree in social work.  Each of those events was a powerful witness to me of the wonder of real love.

fairy tale couple leibovitzWe live in a culture where the meaning of real love is distorted. It paints a fairytale version of love.  We are faced with endless euphemisms of “happily ever after,” told stories of soul mates who complete us almost magically, and generally convince us that love is  like a spell that is cast in which we just have to show up for the passion and joy.

These fairytale versions of love cause us problems when we are faced with the work and challenges of authentic, lasting love. Not having a deeper understanding of the nature of real love can lead to one becoming discouraged, disheartened, or disillusioned. A false belief about love can lead one to lose sight, or be unaware of the power, meaning, and fulfillment that come from living real love.

M. Scott Peck, author of the multi-million-selling book The Road Less Traveled, offers a simple and profound definition of love: “The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”

Love is often identified as an emotion.  While powerful emotion does accompany love, love is actually more of a A3Yb2w7CQAAQk4averb, an action.  Love is about choosing to look past another’s faults to see their strengths; it’s about honoring another’s right to make choices and trusting their process; it’s about forgiving and letting go of injury; it’s about holding others accountable; it’s about seeking to understand versus talking loudly to be understood; it’s about patience, emotional presence, and sustaining emotional connection; it’s about serving; and it’s about staying when everything in you wants to run.  Ultimately, love is a commitment to the divinity and potential in others, and a commitment to their growth and well-being.  And that begins with ourselves. The house of self is where the sparks of love‘s difficult decisions are fanned or dampened.

As a counselor, I do a lot of work with addiction. With addiction there is a compelling substance or process around which all of one’s purpose is directed.  It is obsessive – it’s all an addict thinks about.  The drive is immediate and impatient.  It is hard to focus on anything else.  There is a sense of false empowerment.  It leads to a disintegration of self and often disintegration, or at least distancing, of other important relationships. While addicts may feel empowered, in reality they are a slave.

Not to dismiss new love, but sometimes when someone has just “fallen” for someone else, they remind me a little bit of an addict!  And because the feelings of new love are so powerful and ecstatic, it is not unusual for the new lover to fear the fading of the heady euphoria that has claimed them.  But to fear that inevitable fading is to lose sight of a much bigger picture.  With new love, a door has just opened.  With real love, worlds open to us.

With real love, we begin to make clear-headed decisions. The obsession and compulsion of new love is replaced with focus and goals.  There is a strong connection to both self and other.  We are present, committed, and willing to accept the limitations of others, self, and the relationship, while remaining committed to the potential of each individual and what is possible together.  There is a deep sense over time of meaning, shared history, values, and accomplishments. The love that grows from this truly defies words.

And so it was that the celebration my husband, Brian, and I chose to honor being married 35 years was simple, but important in its privacy and purpose.  Walking on the beach hand-in-hand, I could vividly still see the young scan0005man who captured my curiosity all those years ago – the shock of bright blonde hair, the clear blue eyes, the broad smile, his enthusiastic and deeply spiritual nature.  And now it was accompanied by a deep-shared history of growth both as a couple and as individuals.  We reminisced about the crazy, utter ecstasy we experienced with the birth of each of our children.  We remembered the absolute terror we truly experienced at times as we supported their journey through toddlerhood and teenagehood.  We looked back on the times of strife and sorrow in our marriage and family, and the deep abiding peace, joy, and love we had created over many years, both between ourselves and with our children.  We reminisced over successes and reflected on the refiners fire marriage had offered us. We recalled surviving not only parenthood (so far), but also financial ruin.  We felt the awe of recreation as it had unfolded many times over the years, both individually and as a couple.  Once our children were nearly raised, I became a counselor.  A year ago Brian joined me as he completed his master’s degree in counseling—all six of his daughters shrieking enthusiastically as they witnessed him reinventing himself at age 56 in black cap and gown.

The road ahead will continue to have both its difficulties and joys, but as he said to me recently, “We have a good life.”

A few weeks later, this shared history and the ever expanding reach of real love was confirmed at the University 934883_10151628173950746_247327388_nof Michigan Hospital, in Ann Arbor, when we first saw our new granddaughter, Amelia Jean.  We peered into her deep blue eyes as her mother, our daughter Sarah Jean, placed her gently into our arms.  Tears flowed at the wonder of overwhelming new love for this little being, only hours old, whom we were meeting for the first time here on earth.

And watching Sarah and her husband Grant with the baby was to witness feelings so profound that their total commitment to her growth and well-being was palpable, their willingness to sacrifice for her benefit a given.  As they placed Amelia into the hands of her older brothers, Edwin, 4, and Leland, 2, the circle of family love expanded.  “She’s so beautiful, she’s so sweet,” Edwin said tenderly, gazing at his new sister.

Exactly a week later we were watching our daughter Suzette race to the floor of the expansive Marriot Center at Brigham Young University in Utah, camera in hand, to capture the moment her husband Mike was handed his diploma for a Master’s Degree in Social Work, yet another different witness of love’s potential.  They both worked 310983_10201057382265118_525750892_nhard for that degree – Mike as dedicated student, Suzette as dedicated wage earner working two jobs to support them financially as her husband completed his degree. Together they had become more than they were alone.  Suzette grew and deepened in her work as a counselor.  Mike stepped further into his own potential by achieving his advanced degree and moving toward employment in the helping field as well.

Later, in their tiny basement apartment, we watched him open his graduation present from Suzette.  It was a beautiful hand blown glass sphere surrounded by silver filaments of glass.  He had seen it nearly a year before.  Mike, the least materialistic person I have ever met, longed to own this piece of art, but declined because of the cost. Suzette had secretly purchased it and saved it for this important day in his life.  The look in their eyes as he received his gift with surprise and awe was the look of real love – a love based on sacrifice, commitment, and of tender care for each other.

In the midst of all of this, another of our daughters fell head over heels in love.  She is wise beyond her years and lamented to us over the phone, “I know it won’t last . . ..”

But what I can and have promised her is that what has the potential to follow her new love, though marked by difficulty and even disappointment at times, offers so much more, is so worth the staying, the trying, the giving.  She will become more, he will become more, and together they will become more.  And they will have the ability to create a new world that has the possibility of continuing on and on. Such is the miracle and gift of the practice of real love.

Join me next week for our continued discussion of love as we explore emotional intimacy.






Read More

Sign up for articles

Recent Comments

%d bloggers like this: