365 Day Challenge-Day 34 What the Buddha Taught

For forty-five years, the Buddha said, over and over again, “I teach only suffering and the transformation of suffering.” When we recognize and acknowledge our own suffering , the Buddha-which means the Buddha in us-will look at it, discover what has brought it about, and prescribe a course of action that can transform it into peace, joy, and liberation. Suffering is the means the Buddha used to liberate himself, and it is also the means by which we can become free. Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh

Suffering is unpleasant. At the very mention of the word, I can immediately think of several different instances, I would rather not relive. Then immediately I begin to contemplate pain vs. suffering. Related, often used together, but not really the same, right? In fact, I would take pain over suffering any day. Why? Because suffering seems to imply a long drawn out experience of discomfort. Maybe this has been my experience because the events I tend to associate with suffering felt as if they would never end.

Today’s lesson gives me hope. What if suffering is not the interminable condition I have been thinking it is and rather an opportunity for transformation? The key is the willingness to greet our suffering with open arms and get to know it. (I say this like it is so easy.) I for one have spent a good amount of time avoiding any contact with suffering; it does not mean that it was not there. However, suffering was something be avoided at all costs, with any distraction at hand. Maybe that is why it has always felt never-ending. This leads me to the next bit of hope; if I get curious about my suffering right away then in theory, the faster I can move into the transformation phase. It is worth a try. Peace, joy, and liberation sounds good.

Are you a creative professional, entrepreneur, or business leader who is stuck? Ready to transform your discomfort, inertia, or overwhelm. Let’s talk,

In gratitude,


365 Day Challenge-Day 33 The Great Insight

This is the great insight of Mahayana Buddhism: everyone can become a buddha. What Siddhartha achieved, all of us can also achieve, whether we are a man or a woman, no matter what social class or ethnic group we were born into, or whether we practice as a monastic or as a layperson. We all have the capacity to become a fully enlightened buddha. And while on the path to becoming a fully enlightened buddha, we are all bodhisattvas. Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh

I am fairly certain that I am not a fully enlightened buddha. Yet, I like the idea of being a bodhisattva, especially after I read a few definitions. Here is one from Wikipedia: In Buddhism, Bodhisattva is the Sanskrit term for anyone who has generated Bodhicitta, a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.

I like the idea of having a compassionate mind about anything, particularly as there is an increased need for compassion in general these days, and I like being a part of the collective good.

This is going to be a busy week for me as I am headed out of town for a conference. I have several projects I want to complete and smaller details that need attention. This is one of those weeks where in the past I might have a tendency to over-schedule myself, give myself a really hard time about not completing the myriad of tasks I set out to do, and collapse in sheer exhaustion once I finally get on the plane. It is going to be different this time. I am clear about what is really and truly a priority for each day AND I am allowing for a few surprises. Yes! Can you imagine? So, in essence I am planning for the unexpected. I am going to welcome spontaneous moments and unforeseen twists in my week.

Why am I inspired to enthusiastically greet uncertainty this week of all weeks when I have so much to do? Spaghetti on the Wall, the journal I created to develop a practice of discernment, has helped me to realize a few things.

#1-I have long considered myself a ‘linear’ type of person and I am not sure if that is accurate.

#2-I like having several different types of projects on my plate and I actually am energized by the intersection of seemingly unrelated projects.

#3-Spontaneity and the unexpected are important ingredients to my personal and professional growth and need not be feared.

#4-Balance does not mean all things are equal or the same. Balance is a verb where I actively acknowledge when certain areas of my life require more of my attention than other for the collective good of all parts of my life.

Are you ready to embrace the unknown, the unforeseen, or the surprise in your day or week? Let me know if I can help, or grab your own copy of SOTW.

In gratitude,


365 Day Challenge-Day 32 Constant Transformation

Impermanence and selflessness are not negative aspects of life, but the very foundations on which life is built. Impermanence is the constant transformation of things. Without impermanence, there can be no life. Selflessness is the interdependent nature of all things. Without interdependence, nothing could exist. Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh

Impermanence and selflessness suggest to me a unmooring of all that I hold to be dear-Consistency, Structure, Stability, Self-reliance. I know all the schedules and structures I put in place are simply coping mechanisms, ways to try and control the unknown.

Growing up my life felt like it was constantly changing. My mom might decide at any given moment that she was ready to move again which could imply a change of school along with an address change. Each new school meant being the new kid again-new to the teachers, new to the students, new to the culture. I hated it. I just wanted things to be predictable. I envied those people who had lived in one house their entire lives. By the time I was 30 years old, I was married with 2 little boys, a white picket fence, and a dog. It was all I had ever wanted. The uncertainty of my childhood had left me with an aversion to change and an unrealistic belief that certain outward signs indicated security, like a 2-story farmhouse!

I could not have been more wrong. Shortly after the birth of my third child, I realized that I was numb and growing less connected to myself each day. All the outward signs indicated life was good. Getting married, raising children, caring for a dog, owning a home, these things meant that my life was on track; on a very specific track that demanded commitment, permanence, consistency. In 2002 my life went off the rails, I asked my husband for a divorce and what ensued was several years of uncertainty and change.

Yes, I would do it again and yes, I think I could do it better. Things were pretty messy and crazy for a while. And yes, I still look for structure and schedules to provide an anchor to my life.

However my transformation has been most pronounced in that I have more clarity around what systems I can put in place to dissuade my anxiety caused by uncertainty while allowing for change/growth to happen in other areas of my life. This is a constant process for me. The selflessness I work on too. It shows up in my life as faith in the interdependence and interconnectedness of life. I have demonstrated results that things do work out for the best eventually and not always in the exact way in which I had envisioned. Again this is a process to remind myself of what actually is within my control. And the truth is very little.

In gratitude,


Same but Different

A few days ago, I used Lyft for 3 different rides. I will go on the record saying that I generally use Lyft as I find their drivers to be nicer and I hire the regular service. If I were to share the basics of each ride, driver, and vehicle then it would seem as though I had the same person for each ride.

The drivers were young males.

The cars were small sedans.

Each driver was listening to the radio.

From there the differences began to emerge, rapidly.

My first driver, I sat in the front seat.

I was waiting outside for him because I did not want him to cancel. My destination was barely two miles away.

Of course the minute I was secured with the seatbelt (try and cancel on me now!), I apologized for the short ride. He quickly replied that it was no problem and that his day was just starting. The radio was playing a sports broadcast. I asked if it was baseball. It was football. My driver loves football and looking forward to the upcoming season. His team? I asked, “The Cowboys.” to my surprise. He explained that it is his dad’s favorite team and all his favorite teams he got from his dad. I then noticed the CSULA lanyard hanging from the rearview mirror. He shared that he was a recent graduate. It took him five years because he was working to pay as he went. His degree is in Broadcast Journalism and he was now actively looking for a job in the Southern California market. His passion-sportscasting.

We talked more about his job search and next steps.

I wished him well and I really meant it.

I am convinced he will find something given his positive attitude.

I tipped him immediately and more than I normally tip.

Driver #2, I sat in the back seat due to crutches taking up the front seat.

I watched him from the App miss the turn and then take what seemed like an eternity to turn around. Upon arrival, I greeted him with my customary ice-breaking questions-How was his day? Did he just start his day or is his finishing up?. I also asked about the crutches. Turns out he had a torn ACL which did not require surgery. Or perhaps he was electing not to have surgery( As the ride went on I realized that it would be a mistake to make any assumptions.). It was never made clear as he was not much of a talker. He did have a podcast on the radio. The title of it was Climate Change. It caught my attention because I had just passed on attending Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project Training due to conflicts in my schedule. I began to listen and I began to be confused, my assumptions at work. The person spoke in measured tones about the movie Avatar. He went on to call out James Cameron as a hypocrite, and it went on from there. I see the words Climate Change and I just assume the content will be discussing the significant world events and repercussions due to climate change. I assume that the content recognizes it as an actual crisis. As soon as I was processing that my assumptions regarding the content were wrong, another episode started. Now the same mild-mannered host was talking about Tariffs and Trade Wars. Again it was this smooth voice reminding us of individuals from both sides of the aisle who have complained about Nafta and that somehow we should be grateful for a trade war. I think it was at this moment I checked out. The content was disturbing. It was so carefully crafted and packaged with what felt like a dangerous agenda. Now I know that the views shared on the podcast are not what I believe. I believe I possess the ability to listen to opposing views and apply my critical thinking skills to recognize that most issues reside in a grayscale not in world of easy answers.

I exited the ride disturbed by the combination of this dark, fear-based podcast being ingested by a very quiet, almost sullen young man. Again I am making several assumptions. Maybe he was listening to it for a class, maybe he was really going to research some of the claims asserted by the host as absolute truths, maybe he has a dark sense of humor and plays these to see what, if any reaction he can illicit from his rides.

I will never know.

I was relieved to be out of his car.

I did not give him a tip.

Driver #3, I sat in the back seat. I was tired at this point and looking to get home as quickly as possible.

The soundtrack for my final ride of the evening was the equivalent of alternative elevator music. My driver was friendly. I actually shared with him that his (nondescript) music was refreshing after my last ride. I tried to describe the podcast, and he responded that he believes the government is capable of all sorts of deceptions. At this point I was tired and not sure where this conversation was headed, therefore I steered us towards more neutral territory. I learned that he was engaged and set to be married soon. He was driving to supplement his income for the wedding. He was really excited to get married. He is a musician with a YouTube channel. He was in the process of rebranding.

Like the music on his radio, the ride had been innocuous and for that I was grateful.

I gave him a tip.

We are lucky to have diversity in Southern California, a diversity in our opinions, our professions, our dreams amongst all the other ways in which diversity presents. I began to write about my experience with my three same but different drivers focused on the young men. Now in conclusion the part I find more interesting is the role my assumptions played in all my conversations. What assumptions am I bringing to interactions at a conscious or subconscious level?

Here is a short list of synonyms for assumption: supposition, presumption, belief, expectation, conjecture, speculation, surmise, guess, premise, hypothesis

The synonyms clarify the way in which operating by assumption, a belief accepted as truth without investigation, is liability. A liability because assumptions have the potential to create distance where there need not be.

I am going to work on shelving my assumptions. I am going to work on asking questions and listening, especially when I am uncomfortable.

In gratitude,


365 Day Challenge-Day 31 Awareness of the Body

In sitting meditation, the first thing is to be aware that you are in a sitting position. Then, you can sit in a way that brings you calm, solidity, and well-being. We can notice the position of our body in each moment, whether we are sitting, walking, standing, or lying down. We can be aware of our actions, whether we are getting up, bending down, or putting on a jacket. Awareness brings us back to ourselves, and when we are fully mindful of our body, and living in the here and now, we are in our true home. Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh

Sometimes all of this awareness, mindfulness, and consciousness is exhausting for me. I know that it is good for me like vitamins or daily exercise, but there are days when I just want to binge on Netflix and popcorn accompanied with a good glass of red wine. Am I a bad person? Am I lazy? Honestly, I don’t think so. I do think that I can tend to overthink, just about anything, and I can tend to want to do all of these ‘good for me’ activities perfectly.

Okay, I just had my breakthrough moment, ready for it…Perfectionism is exhausting. Yes! Oh my goodness, it is funny because you figure things out then you forget then you have to remind yourself-or at least I have to do that. Yes, I forgot how exhausting and frankly, joy-sucking perfectionism is. In my experience, perfectionism does not allow of spontaneity and can completely suffocate the learning and growth we get from FAILURE.

I have been watching my fair share of Netflix this summer. One of my favorites right now is My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman . In the episode with Tina Fey, she discusses her background in improvisational comedy and the freefall of failure. She describes the moment when you realize you are tanking, you are failing, then you land and you are still alive. It did not kill you to fail.

There are so many great moments in this conversation between Dave and Tina; I just want to share one more. They reflect on success and failure and the power of failure to make a much more significant impact on your psyche, your memory, etc.

Here is my second breakthrough moment of the day: Success is easy, failure is harder. (At this moment, you may be thinking, Kristan, this is a breakthrough moment? Really?!) And failure provides that fertile ground on which to enjoy your next success. I am going to be encouraging myself to fail this week, a lot. Who wants to join me?

Share your thoughts, ask me questions, order Spaghetti on the Wall, hire me for coaching, AND have a terrific week.

Here is my email

In gratitude,



365 Day Challenge-Day 30 No Beginning and No End

We usually try to hold on to life and run away from death. But, according to the teaching, everything has been nirvana from the nonbeginning. So why do we have to grasp one thing and avoid another? In the ultimate dimension, there is no beginning and no end. We think there is something to attain, something outside of ourselves, but everything is already here. Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh

One of my favorite expression is ‘simple, not easy’. I complicate situations, a lot! For me when things like other people’s feelings, my fees for my professional services-money, or other people’s opinions, their judgement are at stake then simple is not always easy. It is easy for me to get tripped up.

So, today’s lesson speaks to me on a couple of levels:

#1 keep it simple

#2 remain in gratitude

By the way, if I approached everyday just focused on these two practices then life would be very sweet.

However, I complicate my life most when I pretend that something is okay when it is not. This is a powerful dishonesty to oneself, to the people in your life, to your potential. I know this one very well especially because I tend to place the comfort and wishes of others before my own.

Why would I do this?

  • I tell myself that it doesn’t matter-It does matter whether it seems like a big thing or a small thing. The small things add up very quickly.
  • I want to be liked-Do I really want to be liked at the risk of pretending to be someone else?
  • I tell myself that I do not have enough information-Acting in integrity takes courage sometimes, simple not easy. 🙂

The other part of today’s lesson refers to our quest to attain that which is outside of ourselves. I would imagine most of us can relate to this whether it was the time you thought another class would make you ‘more professional’ or an expensive purchase would make you feel more accomplished. When we look for affirmation from the outside, and it can be exhausting. Why are we reluctant to acknowledge our own knowing, talents, our own ‘enoughness’?

This is another form of dishonesty that I know well. I will ignore my own experience, talents, abilities when I am stressed or when I am distracting myself from really tackling the task at hand. If the buck stops here, meaning ‘everything is already here’ then what if I fail or it doesn’t go as planned.

What now? I don’t have the answer. AND I do know from my own experience that the more I live into my truths then the better the results.

I offer business coaching, team training, and workshops. I published Spaghetti on the Wall as a simple and easy tool for discernment, available for purchase now. If you would like to learn more then contact me,

In gratitude,


365 Day Challenge-Day 29 The Art of Mindful Living

Mindful living is an art. You do not have to be a monk or live in a monastery to practice mindfulness. You can practice it anytime, while driving your car or doing housework. Driving in mindfulness will make time in your car joyful, and it will also help you avoid accidents. You can use the red traffic light as a signal of mindfulness, reminding you to stop and enjoy your breathing. Similarly, when you do the dishes after dinner, you can practice mindful breathing so the time of dish washing is pleasant and meaningful. Do not feel you have to rush. If you hurry, you waste the time of dish washing. The time you spend washing dishes and doing all your other everyday tasks is precious. It is time for being alive. When you practice mindful living, peace will bloom during your daily activities. Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindful living is an art; it is a practice. In talking with a friend, we were contemplating how to take some of the more abstract elements of mindfulness and give them a real life application or point of reference. Well, for starters mindfulness is the exact opposite of multitasking. I love the part of today’s lesson when it says, ‘If you hurry, you waste the time of dish washing.’. I hear this as an invitation to enjoy each moment of your day and the most mundane tasks. What if you entered into each moment of your day both in your professional life and personal life with the attitude that you would savor every minute? What might you notice and learn about yourself and others? Could you be more productive? Would it allow you to enjoy parts of your day you previously rushed through?

In The Sun Magazine, there is an interview with Norman Fischer who is an author, a teacher, a Zen priest. One of the most powerful takeaways for me is the concept that the present implies a future. Additionally, the implication of a future means there is hope. Hope that the future can be something new or different. In the practice of mindfulness you observe your feelings and emotions AND release the impulse to act on feelings. I see both ideas as wonderfully interconnected. If we remain present and we observe our emotions without acting on them then we allow for new possibilities, the future. We allow ourselves to move beyond our habitual reactions. In this way we can all become agents of change in our lives, our communities, and beyond.

Mindful living is an art and a practice that challenges us to do things in a new way. If you are stuck in your business and would like assistance in identifying old habits that don’t work and developing new ones that do then contact me, I would like to help.

I look forward to talking to you.

In gratitude,


365 Day Challenge Day 28 The Seeds of Happiness

Whether we have happiness or not depends on the seeds in our consciousness. If our seeds of compassion, understanding, and love are strong, those qualities will be able to manifest in us. If the seeds of anger, hostility, and sadness in us are strong, then we will experience much suffering.

To understand someone, we have to be aware of the quality of the seeds in his store consciousness. And we need to remember that he is not solely responsible for those seeds. His ancestors, parents, and society are coresponsible for the quality of the seeds in his consciousness.

When we understand this, we are able to feel compassion for that person. With understanding and love, we will know how to water our own beautiful seeds and those of others, and we will recognize seeds of suffering and find ways to transform them. Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh

How does your garden grow? And what are your cultivating? Simply put, taking responsibility for your seeds of consciousness can change your life. How does one do that? One idea would be to incorporate daily affirmations into your routine.

I attended a fantastic conference this weekend given by Sam Bennett of the Organized Artist. In addition to sharing powerful content, we discussed the power of our own thoughts. The conversations we are having with ourselves can truly help or hurt your business. Do you have a daily affirmation practice? How and why do they work?

Affirmations are one of the simplest ways to shift your consciousness. If you do not have the happiness, joy, meaningful work, _______________(fill in the blank) you would like, then adding a daily practice of affirmations can provide a powerful shift. Why does they work? Affirmations work because our minds are ‘wired’ to look for what they know and for better or worse, our minds believe that which we hear often. If you affirm that the world is a welcoming place then your brain will be on the lookout for positive experiences to support your belief. You will begin to notice more people saying ‘hello’, more spontaneous conversations with strangers, more drivers letting you in. One key to developing an affirmation practice that works is to select words or phrases supported by your real life experiences. For example, if your daily affirmation is that the world is a friendly place then think back to an example from your own life when the world felt friendly, the time when the person in front of you in line with a huge basket of groceries asked if you would like to go first.

Here is a good article to help with developing your affirmation practice:

Alternatively, if you have read this and think I am full of it then please let me know, AND here is a link to an article that may be better suited for you:

In gratitude,


365 Day Challenge Day 27 A Century of Spirituality

I have heard some people predict that the twenty-first century will be a century of spirituality. Personally, I think it must be a century of spirituality if we are to survive at all. In our society, there is so much suffering, violence, despair, and confusion. There is so much fear. How can we survive without spirituality? Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh

There is so much suffering, violence, despair, and confusion. There is so much fear.

What would a century of spirituality look like? What would a day of spirituality look like?

Each day shortly after I wake up, I think about a word for the day. Lately, my word has been kindness. My mandate for myself is to treat all with kindness, including myself. Kindness means each person I encounter is greeted with a hello and eye contact. Kindness means that I remind myself not to take the world so seriously and that any slight I may feel is most likely not intentional; who knows what that person has been dealing with prior to crossing my path. Kindness means not to assume I know best and to trust in each individual’s own process. Kindness means not to solve the world’s problems and to be a witness for my fellow beings.

It is easy to pick a word as I lay in bed before I get up and begin to encounter my family, the emails, my mental list things I want to accomplish. It is easy to imagine a day infused with goodness. And I know how easy it is to lose the calm of the early morning which means that I have to constantly remind myself that when I goof up to pick myself back up and start again. This is what being kind to myself looks like!

What does your century of spirituality look like? What does a day of spirituality look like? How do we live in integrity with ourselves? How do we bring our best selves to each occasion, big and small? How do we keep from succumbing to hopelessness?

Please share your thoughts.

In gratitude,



365 Day Challenge-Day 26 Sovereign of the Five Elements

Each one of us is sovereign over the territory of our own being and the five elements (Sanskrit: skandhas) we are made of. These elements are form (body), feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness. Our practice is to look deeply into these five elements and discover the true nature of our being-the true nature of our suffering, our happiness, our peace, our fearlessness. Thich Nhat Hanh, Your True Home

Top of mind for me today is finding peace. Hopefully the moments of peace I am able to experience each day will find their way into the world. When I think about peace, I think about all the parts of me integrated into the whole, I have a sense of being okay with the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of myself and my life, I able suspend the inner critic that can always find something wrong.

However, peace is not passive, nor do I believe that you can only achieve peace through stillness. I know the lesson suggests we look deeply, and you can look deeply when engaged in a full life. In fact it gives you more to look at and can simplify the process. More data when studied with intention provides a more accurate picture.

So, my suggestion for today is be mindful of your skandhas and be open to new experiences, be willing to enter into situations with fresh eyes instead of the old baggage, and then reflect.

I put together Spaghetti on the Wall, an elegant journal for the messy ideas of life for this very purpose of connecting busy, engaged people with a practice of reflection. SOTW actually asks a bit more from you; it asks for discernment, the practice of learning from our experiences with curiosity and without judgement. SOTW is on sale now and I offer SOTW classes for a deeper dive. Contact me for information,

We could all do with a little more peace in our lives.

In gratitude,