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.

She Creates

Take the Risk, Follow Your Heart

Take the Risk, Follow Your Heart

Life seemed pretty much perfect in my 50s after I followed my own advice to simplify and follow my inner urgings.

Those urgings were: Get out of debt so you can afford to work fewer hours. Slow the pace of your life. And do something about that dream to live on a houseboat instead of just reading the classifieds!

So I gradually did it. It wasn’t easy. It meant stopping recreational shopping, risking that I’d no longer be “taken seriously” at the paper if I worked part-time (and eventually made it just three, 10-hour days!), and plunging into river life, which I knew nothing about it. I was scared, but as my friend Susan Jeffers advises, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”

I sold the Southwest-style condo I loved in the West Hills and bought an adorable floating cottage on Sauvie Island in the Multnomah Channel. Left my TV and microwave ashore, savoring the currents of a simpler life filled Cover-V4-Revisedwith nature above and below. Drove just three times a week to the paper, where the usual office politics somehow no longer mattered. Started work on a book, RIVER THROUGH MY SOUL. Entertained friends more than I ever had before; others loved my new home almost as much as I did!

What I lacked, though, was a sweetheart. Even though I advised others about love, a good marriage seemed to be one thing I was somehow incapable of managing. I’d been married and divorced twice, and decided that men just drained my energy.

But for years I’d fanaticized about the darling Swedish doctor I’d loved 20 years before and lost track of. I began having dreams about him, and when we got a new computer system at work I dared to type in his name and see what happened. Back came a message that he’d browsing for me for months.

Wow, you can imagine how excited I was to learn we were both available and had reached much the same places in our lives. I surprised him a couple months later when he attended a medical conference in Denver by showing up there. We discovered nothing had changed between us, and several months later he flew me to Sweden to meet his children and mother. My life had changed forever…

Yes, it was wrenching to sell my houseboat, bid my column fans farewell and wave goodbye to my understanding kids and grandkids. Before I actually moved to Sweden, we cruised the Nile in Egypt and trysted in Tanzania, where he’d worked for years doing HIV/AIDS research. There, I took another risk when I accepted a teacher’s invitation out to her village school – a handful of pre-schoolers in her three-room home. I vowed to Vol2-revisedhelp her build a real school, which we did with donations from both weddings. The kids called me “bibi,” Kiswahili for gramma, and Fatuma named the school for me. It grew to include more than 200 students pre-school through 7th grade. As I discovered other needs there, I created more programs: GRANDMA-2-GRANDMA to help the many grandmothers whose adult children had died of AIDS and were thus raising their grandkids, a bibi house for the families with nowhere to live, a bibi farm so they could raise crops and critters for food and profit, a SMART GIRLS club to keep pre-teen girls safe/healthy/motivated.  All this was accomplished because I held out my hand for money from generous people wherever I went.

Many times I’ve felt as if I’ve stepped into the pages of National Geographic. When people ask how many grandchildren I have, I answer, “Eight American, almost six Swedish, and more than 200 Tanzanian!”

My world expanded further: China. Thailand. The Philippines. Zanzibar. Mozambique. Most of Europe.

And then there’s Sweden. I took a kindergarten-level language class for newcomers, which managed to chase the Spanish out of my head but left me less blank-looking at parties. I discovered that one has to live outside one’s culture to understand it – both it attributes and deficiencies. Happily, I learned that love can be energizing rather than draining. Eventually, my kids and most of my grandkids came to visit, and my worlds became more integrated. But as I grew to love Eric’s children and the Swedish grandkids, it seemed the only place where I didn’t feel torn in half was mid-way over the Atlantic!

Never could I have imagined my life unfolding as it has!

For too many years I listened to what other people thought I should think and do. As I matured, what I thought of myself, what I wanted, mattered more than what others did: parents, editors, friends, etc. I believe that voice deep inside us is who we truly are: That crazy-sounding, yet insistent little voice that says, “You don’t want to be a lawyer, you really want to run a cake shop.” “You don’t really want to remain in this relationship, you’re just afraid no one else will ever love you.” “You don’t want to finish this degree, you want to bum around the world.”

I recall interviewing Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled. When I asked how we knew which clamoring voice inside our heads was the one to heed, he advised it was inevitably the path which demanded something of us, which felt a little frightening. I think he’s right.

In my third and fourth books, Home Sweeter Home and Love Sweeter Love (mostly RELATING columns), we dealt with some of these issues. In my new Where Love Leads Trilogy, the advice I’ve heard from the experts and the daring to follow my dreams comes to fruition. River Through My Soul chronicles the new life on the water and discovering Eric again. The School That Love Built captures the African adventures. And Love Refugee pokes a little fun at surviving among the slender Swedes!

And I hope they might help you to follow your heart…

Find books at

Learn about Bibi Jann at

Read More

Rose Allred

Rose Allred

Today’s “She Creates” article is written by the youngest of our six daughters.  Both she and her sister Annie, the oldest of our daughters, were born on Dec. 21, the Winter Solstice.  Rose, the youngest, was delivered at home close to the Christmas tree by two midwives.  She was greeted by her father and five sisters. Annie, who was 12, cut the cord and held her soon after!

Today, in my bliss, I find myself sitting quietly on the couch of my cabin, next to a tranquil pond on Vashon Island, Washington. My whole body is humming with praise to my most recently self-created meal: handmade pumpkin sage ravioli with a sage and onion béchamel sauce.

I am an Artisan Cheese Maker and Dairy Manager working at a small organic dairy and meat farm here on the Island. Today, Dec. 21, 2012, is my birthday. I am 22.

My love of food sprung unexpectedly from a New Year’s resolution when I was 20. To protect the earth, I did not buy plastic for an entire year. Thus, I had to learn how to make most of my food by scratch, since most food came in some sort of plastic case. I started spending all my free time cooking.

I was living with my parents just outside of Portland, Oregon, where I was studying jazz music as a vocalist. I was floating in the vague mist of past high-school and pre-career confusion. I decided to move to Seattle and transfer to a school with a better jazz program.

I showed up in Seattle, Washington the first weekend of August, jobless and homeless. As I bused to the University district of Seattle, where a distant friend offered a stay on her couch, I noticed a sign reading, “U-district Farmers Market, year round, Sat. 9-2.” With my new found passion for cooking, the sign felt like a call. The new moon that night felt symbolic for the start of my new life in Seattle.

The next morning, I awoke early filled with anticipation. As I walked down the street to the U-district Farmer’s Market a perfect chill accompanied the rising sun. Once in the market I saw a brilliant golden ray of sun illuminating piles of handmade wheels of cheese. I was so hungry for cheese; I had not eaten it for eight months because I could not find any that was not packaged in plastic. I beamed with joy at this precious site – ivory cheese standing there, in its natural earthy casing, the rind, intact. I immediately asked for a sample! The bliss of that first bite after eight long cheese-less months, satiated something deep within me.

The farmer and his employee at the Sea Breeze Farm stand were friendly and curious about me. I felt like a child discovering the newness of life again. They invited me to dine at their restaurant, La Boucherie, on Vashon Island that evening. I think they were surprised by my immediate acceptance of their invitation. After buying some cherry walnut bread from Alex the bread guy, I left and caught a bus to the Fauntleroy Ferry terminal, where I boarded the ferry to

I grabbed a booth overlooking the water. The beautiful Puget Sound glistened under the august sun as the ferry started to move. I sliced into the ivory cheese and broke the caramel colored bread. Right as I did the owner of the farm and his employee, who helped me at the market earlier in the day, walked by. I stopped them to say hello and told them I was heading to their restaurant. I invited them to eat with me. They were starving, so they accepted. We spoke as we ate, and once we docked on the island we kept talking. They invited me to see the farm, something highly unusual. As we walked up the steep hills of the island we talked, picked wild blackberries, and admired the magical Madrona trees with their rust trunks marked with lime green blotches.

The farm rested on a knoll overlooking the Sound. Beautiful shiny coated cattle roamed the green farm pastures, feasting on fresh green grass. After my tour, I headed to the island’s main highway to hitch a ride into town to go to the restaurant. I was thumbing and walking for about 20 minutes with no success, the traffic was slow. I even had time between cars to stop at a garage sale and sing a jazz tune in exchange for some old dishes. Finally, someone stopped. It was a large Isuzu refrigerated box truck, I looked inside, and like a mirror to mine, I greeted two surprised faces, “It’s you again?!”

So, for the third and serendipitous time, I saw the farm owner and employee, and they drove me to their restaurant. I enjoyed a fresh tomato and pork curry dish with a transcendent tall glass of fresh raw cow’s milk, the same milk that came from the cows I just met, who were grazing on the pasture I just saw, whose milk was made into the same cheese I had just eaten and enjoyed on the ferry and at the farmers market. The farmer’s market being the first place I went and first thing I did, when I set foot in Seattle, and started my new life.

I continued to shop at the Sea Breeze Farm stand at the market while I attended school. After a semester I decided to stop and to devote my life to food. Soon after that I started working at the Sea Breeze Farm stand. That led to an invitation to intern as the cheese maker at the farm. Eventually I became the dairy manager and artisan cheese maker, making the very same cheese that welcomed me to Seattle several months before. Now I sing to the cheese.

It was not an accident that I am where I am at now. My mother has always said, let the current of your life carry you, don’t fight against it. That’s what I did.

By following my passions and showing up to the opportunities of life I became the artisan cheese maker. This is my experience in creating a life I love.

Read More

Sign up for articles

Recent Comments

%d bloggers like this: