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 August, 2014

A Higher Vision

“I want to live with ever-increasing integrity, in accordance with my highest ideals, rather than settle for a mediocre version of myself. I want to take greater ownership of my strengths, talents, and power. I want to realize the most creative and positive aspects of my potential, and keep my baser motives and impulses in check. Mostly I just want to be more loving and kind.”
–Eric Teplitz, 


What if we held ourselves and others in the highest vision of who we are and who we can become?

What would that require?

morning_explosion_webThis morning I write with a view of the sun ascending from behind the towering Wasatch Front. I am in Provo, Utah at the home of my daughter Suzette and her husband Mike Bartlett.

Suzette and Mike have been married seven years and are expecting their first baby next month. Before marriage they developed a clear vision of what they wanted to create in their lives. It included honoring their deeply held spiritual and religious values as a couple, finishing their education, gaining employment, and starting a family. They honor daily and weekly spiritual practices together in accordance with their faith. Both earned their masters degrees and are now mental health therapists. The birth of Adelaide next month will be a long awaited and joyous event that is part of their vision for their lives.

10532762_10204344092510820_1797360763105200731_nThese past seven years I have witnessed the smart choices and sacrifices Suzette and Mike have made to hold themselves and each other in the highest vision of their potential.  And I have learned from them.

Last night over dinner we all brainstormed about today’s topic.  “It’s hard to acknowledge one’s potential and who we might really be,” Suzette said.  “Because it also requires facing one’s shadow which shouts, ‘who do you think you are anyway?’ when we are considering our highest possibilities.”

slideshow_51602“We have to start with acceptance,” Mike added, “of ourselves and others and whatever experience a person is having. By allowing ourselves and others to feel what they feel and think what they think we offer their process validity. We often want to want to ‘fix’ ourselves and others, but in taking that approach we stop trusting the person’s process and the use of their own abilities.”

Indeed, accepting what is, whether in ourselves, others, or life, does not mean we are saying what is happening is all right; it is just acknowledging reality. In fact, this is one of the important definitions of truth: things as they really are. When we stop using our energy to fight and struggle against an existing set of circumstances, the question then becomes how can I meet this, how can I consciously respond to these circumstances rather than impulsively reacting and resisting?

WritingSo often our lives are defined and created not by what happens to us, but by the choices we make in response to what happens to us. We can hold ourselves in our highest vision by asking ourselves, and honestly answering, the following questions:

How are my choices affecting my life? Do they honor the highest vision of myself?
How are my choices affecting others in my life?
Do my choices honor the highest vision of their potential?

The choices we make often require sacrifice. Sacrifice means giving up something of lesser value for something of greater value.  In Mikes’ case this meant working a job he didn’t particularly care for during the entire time he was getting his undergraduate degree. The value of that sacrifice was having no debt for his schooling.  Suzette also working during her schooling and now is willing to go through the difficult sacrifice of pregnancy for her baby and working until the baby’s birth.

During the past week in Utah,  I have witnessed what happens when we take on the challenge of accepting whatever difficulties hamper our journey by making wise choices to respond to those difficulties; and being willing to sacrifice for a higher vision of what is possible.

imagesMy trip started out with a wedding ceremony of a dear friend.  I have witnessed her brave recovery from addiction as she sacrificed intense pleasure for higher values. That led to impulsive choices being replaced with wise choices. I saw her practice acceptance of her self and others with both their limitations and possibilities. That led to deeper connections with self and other. As she became willing to sit with the suffering of change and willing to sacrifice for a higher vision, her potential blossomed in all areas of her life. The wedding was particularly poignant to me because of what preceded the joyful occasion of joining her life with another person who is committed to the growth of their potential together.

Later I had lunch with a writer friend who desperately wants to engage in a relationship prematurely and red-rocks-utahhas tempered her feelings so that she can trust the natural order of her life and of the other. After lunch our conversation continued on a nature walk through the dramatic rocks of Utah as we explored the pros and cons of what was possible if she were to take things slow; to focus on her personal development; to allow a natural unfolding of what is now a sweet friendship.

Though the exciting pull of this new attraction felt strong, there were also complications that her adult self knew needed to be resolved and that might take some time. For her, to slow down, was a sacrifice.  It required letting go. Just being in nature added its own wisdom to the conversation—a reminder of how there are seasons to life’s unfolding and how the process can work with beauty and wonder.

We too can evolve into the highest vision of ourselves as we are willing to meet life where it is at with wise choices, and the necessary sacrifices and work for that amazing unfolding. As we do, we can say, as Emily Dickinson so eloquently penned, “I dwell in possibility.”



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We Are All Creative

We Are All Creative
For today’s post we are re-posting a chapter from Tamera’s book, Creating a Life You Love.  She is traveling at the moment and will return to her regular articles next Monday. 
“…I have come to believe that creativity is our true nature, that blocks are an unnatural thwarting of a process at once as normal and as miraculous as the blossoming of a flower at the end of a slender green stem… In a sense your creativity is like your blood.  Just as blood is a fact of your physical body and nothing you invented, creativity is a fact of your spiritual body and nothing that you must invent.” Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

What if, instead of managing our lives, we began to create them?

What if we embraced the truth that we are all creative beings?

And what if we started living more from the creativity within and less from the noise without?

We are all in a constant state of creativity, but often it isn’t conscious creation. We create by the choices we make; the thoughts we think; the reactions we have; the way we problem-solve; the stories we tell ourselves; and by how well we listen to our inner voice, versus all the outer noise which surrounds us. These daily practices of life have enormous influence on outcome in our lives. And the more conscious we are about them, the more power we have in creating a life we love.

UnknownBeing able to paint the perfect setting of a hot pink sun; designing and planting a garden full of lavender Foxglove, startling blue Hyacinths, friendly white and yellow daisies; capturing with camera or pen the essence an elderly man in a brown tweed hat and suit sitting on the bus stop bench; baking fabulously delicious gourmet ginger cookies with fresh ginger and a sprinkling of dark chocolate — truly these are creative acts.  But the art doesn’t stop there.

What if our very life, is our art?

I’m  talking about taking the raw materials of our lives, exactly where they are right now, and not wishing them away, but looking them straight in the eye, shaking hands with them, getting to know them, and then working with them as your current creative material. This is the creative process: how we meet and use the everyday, raw material of our lives as they are right now.

How we live our lives is our most important creative unfolding. We are empowered when we become more mindful and authentic about what we think, the attitudes we adopt, and the choices we make. As we do we become conscious co-creators of our lives.

Often we deny our creativity.  Why?  Because we can’t paint, can’t sew, can’t throw a perfect ceramic pot!  Our view of ourselves as creative beings is stunted because of the narrow view we have been given about creativity, and in so doing we deny one of our most stunning features of being female.  Women are the essence of creativity. We are the life givers.  We are the part of the species that has the inherent ability to create a brand new human being within the walls of our own body.

Creativity is about trusting that which is unseen, but possible, the mystery of life’s synchronicities and miracles.  Creativity is deeply spiritual and connects us to our creator.  The call of creativity is a call to life as a process, life as a way of entering a deep flow, of learning to surrender and trust and to connect with that which is held most deeply in us – our own infinite intelligence, with its wisdom and power of creativity.

As a child, I lost both of my parents. Their deaths were devastating and required discovering and relying on the deepest internal resources I could find to survive such a profound loss. (See my “About the Author” page). I also grew up in a low-income family.  We had enough to eat, a warm and pleasant home, and adequate transportation.  That in itself is prosperity.  But there was not enough for extra.  As a result I learned resourcefulness and hard work early to meet my needs.  I made some of my own clothes and dyed and decorated hand me downs to feel good enough about how I looked to go to school. My life was a bit of a patchwork quilt as I gathered and stitched together pieces of the fabric of survival – a little bit of tenacity here, a little scrap of creativity there.

I actually loved high school. I had amazing friends and began to bloom as a writer while working as co-editor of my high school newspaper – The Spud Tri-Weekly! (I grew up in Idaho.)

Tamera Website 003After getting a degree in communications/journalism in college I became a newspaper reporter for a large daily newspaper in Salt Lake City, Utah. The resourcefulness, ability to work hard, and also the courage, curiosity and compassion I had developed as a result of the experiences of my youth became incredible assets in creating amazing success early in my career.

When I was assigned, by mere happenstance, to cover my first court hearing – an arraignment for a man being charged with two murders — my attention was drawn to his girlfriend, a small, red headed elf of a girl who was wearing a dress and make-up for this chance she had to see the man she loved.  After the hearing I followed my instinct – not as a reporter, but as a human being — to ask her if she would like to talk over a bite to eat.  She consented.

Less than six months later, the case had turned into an international story.  Gary Mark Gilmore had been found guilty of murdering two young men and was given the death sentence.  If carried out, it would be the first execution in the United States in 10 years.  Utah was besieged with press from all over the world, trying to get any kind of scoop on the story.  They wanted to know why he had committed the murders and why he wasn’t appealing his sentence.

By this time his girlfriend Nicole was visiting him in prison several times a week and became the target as a source for the story.  She refused to talk to The New York Times, The National Inquirer, and a host of others.  She said yes, to 22-year-old me. Why? Because of our innocent casual connection.  In our first six- hour interview she lent me over 1,000 pages of letters Gilmore had written from death row, a scrapbook full of his artwork which was eerily amazing, and confessed she had entered a suicide pact with him.

Tamera Website 004I was taken off all of my other reporting work and assigned specifically to her and to the Gilmore story.  The day my front pages stories about the case hit the newsstands, my life changed literally overnight.  Barbara Walters held up my stories and quoted me on The Today Show.  Numerous media outlets contacted me to interview me for a story.  I worked with the BBC on a documentary they made about the case. I was offered a contract with the movie producer who had bought the rights to the story and spent a lot of time with him. He introduced me to Bill Moyer over dinner which led me to interview him. Later, I met and was interviewed by Norman Mailer several times for his book The Executioner’s Song. And at age 23, I was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for my stories.

I could not have imagined what lay in store for me. One might have imagined a lifelong successful career in journalism, but my life had its own unique course.  Despite being accepted to Columbia’s University’s Masters of Journalism program in New York City, I chose instead to take a leave of absence from my job and sought refuge in the home of my oldest brother who lived in the Pacific Northwest, adopting a quieter life and giving myself time to sort things out. I was in search of the soulfulness I had lost in the fast pace of my career and the world into which my success had thrust me.  Much later in life, I would also realize that I had been traumatized by what I was exposed to in reading the letters and covering the execution when Gilmore was killed by a firing squad.

I had not been prepared for the deep waters in which I had been swimming.  I made some big mistakes, lost an important part of myself for a time, and needed time to recover.

Slowly, over time I reconnected with my own voice again, my own truth.  I had to make a decision about returning to the newspaper as my leave of absence ended.  I had no idea what I was going to do next.  What I did know was that going back was not right for my life.

Very shortly after that I met the man I have now been married to for 35 years, Brian Allred. We both knew almost immediately that we had met the person we were meant to spend our life with.  It was a deeply spiritual experience in which I felt I somehow recognized and knew him even though our paths had never crossed before on earth. We got engaged after our second date; married three months later and soon after began our family.  The family we have created together eventually grew to include six daughters. It now includes eight grandchildren; four sons-in-law and is still growing!

Tamera Website 005-1So what happened after that quick and amazing transformation from girl reporter to wife and mother?

The minute I held my first daughter in my arms, red-headed Annie, I fell in love all over again and knew I had a lot more to write about!  I fell in love five more times as each of the rest of our daughters were born over the next 12 years. We raised our daughters in a blue 1920’s house in a neighborhood rich with ethnic and cultural diversity in Portland, Oregon.  A stay-at-home mom, I wrote about larger lessons of life drawn from the simple Tamera Website 002moments of motherhood in a weekly column called “On the Homefront,” which was published in a Portland magazine with a circulation of over a million readers.  I was blessed to have the privilege of hearing my daughters say their first word. Later I would help them edit their written words for school papers.  I helped them learn to ride their bikes and later drive a car.  Having been deprived of mothering for so many years I relished the joy of loving and nurturing these six little girls and getting so much love back. My favorite word, out of all of the million words in this language, is still “mommy.”  Mothering, though not bringing recognition or acclaim, felt like the most import work I would be doing – helping these little women develop their individual potential. This is work all mothers do whether or not they work outside the home!

By the time my last daughter began middle school I entered a new season in my life, and heard yet another call.  It was finally time to get the master’s degree I had considered so many years earlier – but in a different field – counseling psychology. In a way my life had come to its own full circle.  Now over 30 years later, with much more experience and understanding, I was again drawn to the art of story, but it would not be just the reporting of stories. Now I would be helping others to heal and expand their stories, by honoring their deepest sense of self and purpose.

My vantage point now at age 58, affords an observation and an appreciation of how our lives unfold and are created over a lifetime – a concept that is often lost in our fast-paced world.  I have learned the lesson that my life is my art, that it is the most creative undertaking I have ever embraced.  This perspective has given me permission to make mistakes, take risks, experiment and to accept whatever was on my spiritual plate as an opportunity which, if seized, led not just to windows opening, but new worlds revealing themselves to me. I am a co-creator of my life.

Looking back now at the acute moments of choice when my career was accelerating and I chose NOT to go to Columbia, NOT to continue my career as a journalist may defy logic.  But, logic did not hold the deeper call of intuition that I heard and responded to.   My life has unfolded into a rich tapestry created with small, but important stitches holding together both the beautiful pieces of life and the shadows, mistakes, and adversity which have been such important teachers. For me, it has been the perfect creation, an ever evolving work of art!

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Peace vs. Anxiety

“Ego says: ‘Once everything falls into place, I will find peace. Spirit says: ‘Find Peace and everything will fall into place.’”—The Mind Unleashed

obsessed-with-cell-phoneIt’s easy to find ourselves creating an ‘agenda’ for life.  It starts with an anxious attitude about life’s inevitable difficulties. Of course we want to ‘solve’ our anxiety or, at the least, the problem behind it. So we stop trusting and start managing. An overpowering attachment to outcome takes control. We suddenly, ‘Take Charge!’

Uncertainty in life can increase anxiety. Agendas have their place, but when we clutch too tightly to a desired outcome, we lose sight of the fact that there is always something bigger going on in life that dwells just outside of our consciousness.

spice_drawer-resized-600We may have a big project with a deadline looming before us and suddenly decide it’s time to clean out our closets and alphabetize our spices!  We may have a problem with a difficult child that we decide we need to ‘fix’ versus meet or understand.

To become too tightly wound is to distance our selves from the power of the possibility of things unseen.

A few years back, a friend of mine who was unhappy in her marriage decided she was going to divorce. She developed an extensive plan that covered financial concerns; how and when she would tell her husband; where she would go; and even what she would take with her and what she would leave behind.

During this time she attended a high school reunion and reconnected with a friend she hadn’t seen in over 20 years.  He had gone through divorce just months prior to the reunion.  She shared with him that she was planning to divorce.  After their conversation ended she moved on to talk to other old friends.

divorcing-couple_2587975bTo her surprise, a couple of weeks after the reunion, she received a call from her old high school friend.  He said he had something important to say to her (it wasn’t, ‘let’s get together!’)  He told her very strongly not to get divorced.  “Look,” he said, “this recent divorce was my second marriage.  I know now that if I would have stayed and tried to work out my first marriage I would be in a lot better place.  The issues I had the first time around, showed up in the second marriage, just in a slightly different way.”

He went on to tell her of the great suffering he went through even though he had wanted to divorce and how depressing the future felt.  He encouraged her to take another look at the marriage; to see what her part was in her unhappiness in the marriage; and to practice loving her husband despite his weaknesses.

I pause here to say that sometimes divorce is a blessing that needs to happen.  I’ve worked with enough clients to know that and to see the positive results when a divorce is a well-considered decision for a person’s best interest.

My friend reluctantly went back to the drawing board, but this time with conscientious attention to what was Woman-looking-through-window-and-contemplatingfueling her longing for divorce.  As she moved to another level of honesty with herself she was able to acknowledge her part in the doldrums that can be part of married life; she looked at the hard truth of what life would be like single; she examined the ways she was failing to come to her own assistance in her self-care practices.  As she looked at her plan from a deeper perspective she began to see that in her case, it was actually a way to avoid the difficult work of marriage by imaging a fantasy life where things would be easier and she would feel happier.

This is a dramatic example, but it holds wisdom for each of us.

We all have times we put more effort into solving than seeing; in fixing vs. healing; in exerting vs. allowing.

Thomas Merton once said that we are invited to an inner life where we “do not sit down and solve problems, but bear with them until they somehow solve themselves.” requires courage to fully inhabit the present when we long to know and influence the future. But it is when we are present to life and ourselves, that anxiety gives way to peace and power.  Answers come naturally, we access more of our brain’s capacity, and we attain a state of relaxed grace that enables us to make clear and strong decisions more organically.

The irony is, my friend did eventually divorce. But it came only after she had done her work right where she was at. Later, her decision to leave her marriage was part of the natural order of life versus being a quick fix to solve her discomfort.

Anxiety is fueled by our interpretations of events.  But interpretation based on anxiety and fear can’t be trusted.

peacefulscenePeace is about trusting and letting go.

Sometimes though, we value predicting and controlling more than we value inner peace. We can remind ourselves that fear and anxiety come from our ego and peace comes from our soul.

Healing is letting go of fear and anxiety. Health—being whole—is about having inner peace.

As we look inward we become aware of an inner intuitive voice.  When the physical senses are hushed and we begin to listen to that inner voice and surrender to it, we begin to experience peace and our path unfolds naturally.


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Living Love

“Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.” Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

mother-with-newborn1Almost two years after I had finished up the last story I wrote about Gary Gilmore I gave birth to my first daughter, Anne Elizabeth.  As I held her in my arms, all the empty space of what I didn’t yet know about love was filled. Her entire essence was love and I knew I would give up my very life for this beautiful being if needed.

After the intense reporting on the Gilmore case, I had fallen into a deep well of depression.  Stretched thin by the intensity and demands of the story, I was now left facing the turmoil I had created in my personal life. In the blaze of the adrenalin high of covering such an important story I had abandoned myself by making some choices far from my best interest.

“Come home!” my oldest brother said, inviting me back to Vancouver, WA, to stay with him and his wife and media-11076-28851kids.  They had become my surrogate family after the death of my parents.  His invitation was timely so I took a leave of absence from my reporting job, loaded my blue VW Bug to the hilt and headed back to the northwest to I figure out what to do with my life next.

It’s interesting how love has its way with us.  I met my husband, Brian, soon after returning to Vancouver. We had a short courtship and a short engagement, but ended up in a long marriage—36 years so far!

scan0005It may sound a little dramatic, but I soon learned that love is the most important thing in this life. To love is to be alive; it is to be connected to the highest purpose and quality of life. I had a marriage to nurture and a daughter to raise, a family of my very own to love.  I came to believe that love is a commitment to the divinity and potential in others; and to their growth and well-being. That was my new purpose and still is.

I continued to write—doing some free-lance journalism and even a brief stint as a reporter at The Oregon Journal. But eventually I turned to inspirational writing while Annie was napping.

And Annie couldn’t have been a better teacher.  Annie was love, from the beginning.  Yes, she was mischievous too, but more than anything was loving and full of life.

autumnlove1In this intense context of relationship with my husband and new daughter, I began to see that love is a way we can choose to live one interaction at a time. Sometimes I did great, other days were a disaster.  Such is the nature of life.

But Annie, as she grew, kept reminding me what matters most—love.

One day when she was about seven, I left for my morning run without a jacket.  It was chilly outside, but I knew I’d be fine once I got going.  But shortly after I began my warm up trot, I heard a little voice behind me, and turned around. There was my curly redheaded girl running as fast as her little legs would carry her.  In her arms, was my coat!

IMG_2014Annie, now an adult with children of her own, has been one of my great examples of how we ought to be with our fellow beings. She is friendly, kind, curious, and meets each person where they are without judgment.  Annie has friends in all walks of life and each is treasured for their own uniqueness. She has shown me that all of us are struggling in our own ways in mortal, human bodies on this gorgeous, but dangerous planet together. Just to avoid turning her into a saint, like all of us, she does have her temper!

Annie and her family are moving to Hawaii and there is a lot to be done.  She, her husband Joe and I have been working 16-hour days the past few to get them ready on time.  Others have come to help as well.

But I noticed one day, that without saying too much, she slipped away and went to give a bed and bedding to someone who is struggling. It wasn’t just a drop off; she also went on a walk with the person.

Living love makes each interaction with another an opportunity to choose love over ambivalence, kindness over impatience, and curiosity instead of judgment.

random-acts-valentinesAnd what I am still realizing is that when we love, we feel the love too. We can’t give love without receiving its sweet nectar ourselves. Every moment helping her has brought me happiness.

There have been many tender moments for us.  This will be the farthest we have ever lived apart. And sorting the pieces of her life has brought back memories…

When we found the baby cradle in the attic, we both looked at each other with teary eyes. There in that eyelet IMG_3035bunting she laid her firstborn, Summer—also a red head and also a sweet and loving girl. As we rubbed our fingers across the maple wood we knew that cradle needed to be kept. It was a symbol of Annie’s first experience with mother love…and mine with grandmother love.

“This is just too precious to give away,” I said.

Later, the men moved my parent’s bedroom set, which Annie and her husband have been using, back into our bedroom.  I tenderly washed, polished, and tended to the furniture’s wounds as I welcomed it back into my life temporarily.  As I did, the memories were vivid of my mother looking in the mirror as she brushed her red hair. The memory reminded me of how much we loved each other.

And then on the news…I heard that the American doctor who contracted Ebola has refused the only available dose of a serum that could possibility save his life, so that it can be given to his female colleague who also has the deadly disease.

And there were the parents of three children lost in a recent plane crash who said the only thing keeping them alive was the love they were being shown by others.

As I write, the last box has been packed and my daughter’s house sits empty.  There will be one final family dinner, and as this labor of love is launched into the cyber world my daughter and her family will be on their way to Hawaii.  All I can say is:  to the people there who will soon meet her, be prepared for a whole lot of lovin’!

Aloha, Annie!



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