365 Day Challenge-Day 14 I am here for you

The heart of Buddhist practice is to generate our own presence in such a way that we can touch deeply the life that is here and available in every moment. We have to be here for ourselves; we have to be here for the people we love; we have to be here for life with all its wonders. The message of our Buddhist practice is simple and clear: I am here for you.

At times, it is hard for me to differentiate between I am here for you and let me do that for you. As a parent, as a designer, as a coach-let’s face it-I am a doer, a fixer. My default is to take action with the idea that more will be revealed following that action, thus leading to next steps.

This need for action does not allow much air in the room at times and really is a product of my wanting to control a situation.

Yet as I live more fully into the practice of being a human being, I realize that having all the answers or being ‘in control’ (ha, ha!) can obscure the beauty of the moment. This is true whether I am alone or trying to fix someone or something else. When I consider what it means to be a creative person, I always list curiosity as one of the key elements of creativity. Being in the moment for myself and others then is an opportunity to be curious, open, present.

As I sit with myself following Thanksgiving and watching my neighbors decorate for Christmas, I am giving myself the gift of wonder and play. I will allow myself and others the time and space to be.

I am here for you.

With gratitude,


365 Day Challenge-Day 13 Freedom from Fear


Thanks to the practice, or while cultivating a practice, of looking deeply into impermanence and nonself, one can be in touch with the ultimate dimension, free from the fears associated ideas of existence and nonexistense, one and many, coming and going, birth and death. You are able to remain in the world of the waves while abiding the nature of water.

FEAR-it is such a big thing and little thing at the same time. I like to observe how fear shows up in my life, especially when it is disguised as anxiety, anger, judgement. When given the opportunity of either fight or flight, most of the time I will choose to fight (Although most of the time, it does not seem like much of a choice.). In those moments, I am under the illusion that I am really getting a handle on my fears, that I can conquer my fears. This of course is a distraction.

In fact, I have noticed that my fears diminish when I can sit with them and be gentle with myself and my fears. What I have come to realize is that many of my fears may have served a purpose in my life at one time, and that growing beyond my fears as I evolve is okay, even recommended.

How does this fit into your everyday life or an even more baffling question, how does this fit into your success as a business owner? If you are like me then your business is an extension of yourself. My design work, and the business I have created around it, is a passion driven endeavor. Over the years as my businesses have grown, my success has been directly proportional to my ability to grow as a person and grow out of old fears. One fear I struggled with kept me from valuing my services and my prices too low. This was the fear that I did not know enough, I did not have enough training, I was a poseur.

The reality was that my years of ‘real world’ experience and seemingly unrelated professional experience, plus the industry specific training I had done, was more than enough and with each client/project I was adding to my bank of knowledge and experience. Once I was able to objectively look at reality and look at the source of my fear then I began set my rates in line with the value I was offering to my clients and I began to attract more clients who recognized the value of hiring me. A win-win!

This is an ongoing evolution in my business and one that has required outside help at times, if you would like help in naming your fears that are holding you and your business back from the success you would like to have then please sign up for a complimentary Strategy Session  today. Fear is such a big thing and little thing at the same time, AND the process of gaining freedom from your fears does not have to be scary, nor do you have to go it alone.

With gratitude,



365 Day Challenge-Day 12 The Wave and The Water


There are two dimensions to life and we should be able to touch both. One is like a wave and we call it the ‘historical dimension’. The other is like the water and we call it the ‘ultimate dimension’ or nirvana. We usually touch just the wave, but when we discover how to touch the water we receive the highest fruit that meditation can offer.

Today’s teaching reminds me of a conversation in the backseat of a van with a shaman while traveling through Monrovia, Liberia on our way to exorcise negative energy from a friend’s office space. The shaman would be doing the exorcising; I was the support staff. This was my first time acting in such a capacity lest I sound very casual about this event.

During the ride, we began to talk about my work and the changes I wanted to make in my business. I was expressing my impatience and also my nervousness about altering the focus of my business. I wanted to support other landscape designers to grow their businesses as well as other creative entrepreneurs. I was worried that I would not be as successful as I had been in my own design business. I was impatient because despite my concerns this was really important to me.

Finally, I got to the heart of what was holding me back from really diving into business coaching-I was worried of letting my clients down. Did I have enough experience and expertise to share?

I will never forget what the shaman replied. He reassured me that I could help others in a meaningful and profound way. He used the example of a fish who wonders what water is like only to finally realize that he is swimming in it. Living in a space for any length of time like the fish in water sometimes obscures our ability to recognize what we know. The fish knows the water like he knows himself. I know the challenges creative entrepreneurs face, it is the water I have lived in most all of my life. I also know that I help other business owners and creatives gain more clarity and satisfaction in their pursuits.

So when I think of the waves, I think of all the stuff that happens outside of ourselves. The stuff that catches our attention and at the time can seem so real and so important. The water, however, is our true self, our universal self that is always present and a foundation from which we can draw incredible strength and calm.


I would be curious to know how you interpret this teaching. What is your water? Are you consumed by the waves?  I welcome your thoughts and comments, contact me.


365 Day Challenge Day 11- Aimlessness


Aimlessness means not setting an object or goal in front of you and running after it. We want this, we want that, and as long as we haven’t got it, we think happiness will be impossible. The truth is that we already have everything we need. We are whole; it is all within us.

I don’t know why it is easier for me to chase something I don’t think I have than to recognize all that is within me. Okay, I do know.

Because it is scary.

If I am already whole, if I already have everything I need to build my business, to live the life I say I want-fill in the blank- then it is scary because the only thing standing in my way is me. When I pretend that the thing I need is outside of me then I can distract myself for days, years chasing it down.

Then it starts to get real, really fast. How am I going to stay present and use what I have to do what needs to be done?

In my case, I love helping creative entrepreneurs grow their businesses in meaningful ways. To that end, I am offering free 30 minute brainstorming sessions. Take me up on it-I know what I am talking about. 🙂 And believe me getting out of your own way is much easier with someone else by your side.

In gratitude,


Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.

Are you happy? Is your life meaningful?


Jane Buckingham, author and founder of Trendera is a fantastic speaker; I have revisited many of the ideas she presented at a conference I attended nearly 2 years ago and there is one I come back to time and time again. This is the one I share most often too: the suggestion that we aspire to live a meaningful life in lieu of the more common edict to just ‘be happy’. I am a Gen X’er and while I don’t consider myself to be a complete and total helicopter parent, I have been guilty of wanting my children to ‘be happy’. Heck, how many times have I wanted that for myself?!   And what is wrong with that? Nothing at first glance, yet upon closer examination, it is a vague and nebulous mandate with a host of unintended consequences.

‘ I just want you to be happy.’ is unrealistic and as frustrating as trying to spear a tapioca ball in a serving of boba. It also does not encourage resilience or ‘grit’; the newly touted ingredients necessary for success. When I examine my own life with the ‘just be happy’ lens; it occurs to me immediately how boring my life would have been and not to mention, bland. I realize that I am messing with a core value and I do not take on the ‘pursuit of happiness’ lightly.

The minute Jane shared her suggestion to inspire in our children to live lives of meaning, I was inspired. Meaningful lives are rich and textured; there is spontaneity and serendipity when done right. Looking back on my life choices, I realize that I know this firsthand. My curiosity and love of adventure have prevented me from a consistently happy life. I have tried it at times, and it is not my thing. For me, ‘just being happy’ is difficult; I can easily get sidetracked into someone else’s definition of happiness. Luckily, I have often made life choices because I felt the need to challenge myself or honor a difficult truth. As a result, I am familiar with deep joy and blissful stretches of peace and wonder. I have also been in the ring with blistering pain and gut-wrenching sorrow, the kind that leaves an ache so cellular you are convinced it is a part of you that is never going away.

Meaningful lives are messy and require an unrelenting honesty. Meaningful lives ask us to engage with others, the other and offer no guarantees. This is where you are always learning, always on the edge of making a mistake, or even worse-FAILURE. Yes, it gets scary out here and that is where the spontaneity and serendipity swoop in to remind you not to take it all so seriously.

I began working with creative entrepreneurs because I believe that people can build lives and support themselves doing work they love. I want to support more creativity, art, and goodness in the world. This is me living my meaningful life. Let me know if you would like to talk about how to pursue your version of a meaningful life.

In gratitude,


Lotus In the Mud


The goodness of suffering is something real. Without suffering there cannot be happiness. Without mud there cannot be any lotus flowers. So if you know how to suffer, suffering is okay. And the moment you have that attitude, you don’t suffer much any more. And out of suffering a lotus flower of happiness can open.

Sometimes I will read one of these lessons and I feel like I get part of it but not all of it. Which is okay. One truth I have discovered is that upon each reading these nuggets of wisdom can impart a new, slightly different understanding.

Today as I read the passage, I understand it to say that in order to know the good, you need to know the bad. AND that the more you recognize the value in the mud/bad then the less the mud is bad and the more the mud becomes part of the process. This reminds me of an article or perhaps it was a radio interview, it doesn’t really matter, discussing the role of the art critic and their importance. There is no doubt that being creative and expressing oneself artistically is one of the amazing and unique things we do as humans, yet that does not mean all art is good or particularly meaningful. Most importantly,  part of the process is creating regardless of the outcome and growing from each attempt.

So on the most basic level for us as creatives and this is particularly for my landscape designers and other designers, there are really well-designed projects and those that are not. We must know the difference. If you are like me then you will welcome all ideas into your design process if only to highlight more clearly the good ideas.

The other thought that comes to mind is the process of identifying your ideal client. Anyone who ends up discussing business with me know that:

  1. I love my clients.
  2. I will only work with clients I love.
  3. It took me a long time to get to this place.
  4. I believe a key foundational piece to success is being willing to know your ideal client.

I have known suffering in the form of working with less than ideal clients.

It was good suffering in that it was the journey I needed to take in order to come out on the other side. Several years ago, I almost quit landscape design entirely before I was willing to think about my ideal clients and ideal projects.

If you would like to talk to someone who has been through hell and back then please make an appointment. Life is too short to work with people who do not appreciate your gifts. Life is too short to not being doing work you love. I can help you discover your gifts and turn them into a profession and I can help if you have a creative business that is not what you want it to be.

In gratitude,


Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.

When was the last time you went to class?

Le Pont Japonais a Giverny by Claude MonetScreen Shot 2017-09-19 at 10.35.35 PM.png

When was the last time you attended a class? Not for work, not for credit, just because…

Last night! Yes, I went to LACMA for one of their Art 101 Lectures. It is a perk of membership: for those of you who want to join.

The topic for last night’s presentation was Portrait: Monet. It was terrific. I admit I love Art History; it is the way that history in general, came alive for me when I was in school. And who does not love the Impressionists? I fell for the Impressionists almost as hard as I loved ponies and horses. Although, I don’t know if I ever attempted to paint like the Impressionist. I did draw lots and lots of horses.

The material our lecturer shared was fantastic, and I learned many new facts about Monet, his contemporaries, and history of that time period. Did you know of that the invention of portable, metal paint tubes was an important technological advancement? Why? Because it allowed the Impressionists and others to paint out of the studio. Similarly important inventions were the portable easel and pre-stretched canvases. The Impressionists were painting in the midst of the Industrial Revolution and benefited from the advent of manufacturing. There were women too who benefited from the ability to paint anywhere.

Having recently read David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, the story of the Impressionists’ rejection by the ‘Big Pond’ of the Salon was fresh in my mind. Especially, the part about their determination not to be deterred by the Salon and to put on their own show. Malcolm Gladwell uses this story to illustrate his point that sometimes the best course of action is to be a Big Fish in a Small Pond. In the case of the Impressionist, it was a pond of their own making.

It is fascinating to me when I consider the Impressionists being disruptive. All those lovely paintings with their wonderful use of color, the glimpses of life at that time, the vibrant light and brush strokes. The paintings and the artists were slammed by the critics.

This leads me to thinking about our digital revolution and disruptive technologies. I feel numb to it at times yet I have come to expect it. I love history for the perspective it allows us. How do we live in times that seem like they are moving so fast? When do we get a chance to gain some perspective? For starters let’s support artists as I believe they are in the moment and attempting to distill our current state of being. Nick Bonamy is a young artist whose work I like right now. Check it out.

I have arrived

We believe that happiness is possible only in the future. That is why the practice ‘I have arrived’ is very important. The realization that we already have arrived, that we don’t have to travel any further, that we are already here, can give us peace and joy. The conditions for our happiness are already sufficient we only need to allow ourselves to be in the present moment, and we will be able to touch them.


If I am wearing my business hat and if we substitute happiness for success in this lesson then we have another valuable concept to chew on, another lens with which to approach each day. So much time in our businesses can be devoted to planning, setting the next goal when we are thinking strategically. 

So as a practice in order to grow a sustainable business, I would suggest we all check in regularly and recognize the small successes. AND to recognize that we have all the tools right here and right now at our disposal to serve our ideal clients and experience the success we want. One of those tools may be knowing when to ask for help. I can help with that. Let’s talk and identify your strengths, recent successes, and dreams to grow your sustainable business.


Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.

APLD Garden Tour 2017


The Association of Professional Landscape Designers welcomes you to their Second Annual Garden Tour! Spend a gorgeous spring day in LA wandering through some of our designers most beautiful and inspiring landscapes. At each location, you’ll see how the Watershed Approach to Landscape Design is being implemented… Read More.



The word suchness describes reality as it is. Most of our suffering arises from our ideas and concepts. If you are able to free yourself from these concepts/beliefs, anxiety and fear will disappear. Our own beliefs and concepts can be the cause of much of our suffering.  

I can see how this has played out in my own life. Specifically, I think of the times I have been anxious because of the expectation I have in my head about a certain situation. For example, after I have my initial meeting with a client and they accept my proposal then we have our first ‘official’ meeting. I cannot tell you how many hours of sleep I have lost worrying about what are their expectations for our first meeting.  Will I disappoint them? Will I have any good ideas? What if I don’t know the answer to one of their questions?

Clearly these are stories or beliefs that are not based in reality. These are old anxieties; I can’t even remember a real incidence that resembles these scenarios I am envisioning. Yet they feel very real and can potentially debilitating. This is the kind of stuff that could keep me from succeeding in my business and my life. So what to do? Lately, I have been able to catch myself and realign my thoughts with the present. In the present, I can take positive actions like doing some research prior to my meeting, get some exercise, and write down any questions I want to remember to ask my new clients in order to create a better design.

What is the story or belief that inserts fear and anxiety into your life or business? Consider what each day would be like if you approached it free from old ideas, conjecture, and past hurts?

For me, it would mean going into each client meeting fully present. I could meet potential new clients without being overly invested in the outcome. I would offer a better experience for my clients with with a better outcome with less stress. A win-win!

I would love to hear about what your business would look like when you are fully present. Let’s talk!

Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.