Make an Ass of Yourself: How to Embrace Your Imperfections and Live Unfiltered

Sarah Robb O’Hagan posted a terrific article on LinkedIn back in September where she shares a couple of less than flattering photos of herself-a brave act in these days of filters, photoshop, and the perfected pout. More importantly, she unpacks the dangers big and small when we are too careful and overly consumed with how we look and sound. She warns us how our over-filtered lives contribute to the next generation’s unwillingness to take risks, make mistakes, screw up, be embarrassed, and grow in the process.

I have 3 children and I see what she is talking about firsthand.

I know the power in failure, I know the valuable lessons to be learned by taking risk AND I still struggle with embracing my imperfections, my failures, my screw-ups. I admit that I compare myself to others. I hold myself to standards of perfection that I would never hold anyone else to, friend or foe. I am my harshest critic. And to what end? Just to be reminded that I am very human; despite my best attempts, I cannot control everything and I still make mistakes.

One of my gifts to myself this year is permission to relax and make mistakes-revel in the making of mistakes and recognize them for what they truly are: precious life-affirming moments. I am going to take risks, I am going to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,I am going to post more goofy and unflattering pictures of myself. I am going to have more fun.

Ready to join me? Need help? Let’s talk about it!

With gratitude,






Creating a Positive Client Experience

Check out my Business Tip featured on the Gardensoft newsletter presented by Plantmaster.

Photo Credit Gerry Kiffe

In last week’s newsletter, I talk about the importance of managing client expectations in order to create a more positive client experience. You do not have to have all the answers, nor do everything perfectly. You will build trust and goodwill when you communicate often and openly with your client which in most cases will lead to referrals and a repeat business. This includes being transparent when you are being asked to do something new.

Please share your thoughts on managing expectations or schedule a time to talk if this is a challenge area for you.

In gratitude,



January 23, 2018 Lili Singer at La Casita Del Arroyo

APLD Greater Los Angeles District is committed to presenting programming that is fun and informative for our membership and the community. Join us on January 23, 2018 at La Casita Del Arroyo, 4pm-6pm. Lili Singer will share her expertise and thoughts on how to design with California natives AND enjoy 4 seasons of color. This is a subject that confounds professional designers and armchair designers alike. We know we want to be using more California native plants in the garden. Let’s learn together. Buy tickets today:

See you there,



Day 16 Embrace Them with Great Tenderness

Do not fight against pain; do not fight against irritation or jealousy. Embrace them with great tenderness, as though you were embracing a little baby. Your anger is yourself, and you should not be violent toward it. The same thing goes for all your emotions.

I don’t know about you but I am not in the habit of embracing all of my emotions as I would a little baby. Usually, I want to get rid of my negative emotions as quickly as possible or if I am feeling more ‘enlightened’ then I will try to talk myself out of the ‘dark side’.

What would it be like to embrace all emotions with tenderness? What does that look like? What would it feel like? I am trying to imagine how my life might shift if I could adopt this practice. It feels like a game-changer. I say that because it feels so unlike what I have been doing AND because there are clearly areas where I need/want to grow.

One of my favorite books right now is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. The author suggests that we take responsibility for everything in our life. I bring this up because the sentence in today’s lesson, ‘Your anger is yourself, and you should not be violent toward it.’ feels connected to the concept of taking responsibility for your life in all its shapes and iterations. Accepting our emotions as a healthy part of our being seems like it could help to make choices based on our commitments or values thus taking responsibility for our lives.

The other reading I came across today in one of my perennial favorites, The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, was about knowing when to let go of feelings, beliefs, and baggage-real and imagined. The story he shared was timely as we enter into a new year with a list of new resolutions or promises.

If I look at all three of these ideas then I begin to see a way of being that I like as I move forward into 2018. I am done fighting with myself. I will allow myself to get comfortable with all feelings and even gain some insight into where they are coming from. Let me use my insight to inform my next steps as I take responsibility for my life. I give myself permission to set down that which obstructs my ability to move ahead. My first thought was to call this matrix a map, but it is in fact something much more exciting. It is a guide which encourages faith, patience, and trust and celebrates the world of opportunity just waiting for us to be ready to embrace it.

I have been working on a discernment tool which I will talk about more in the coming months, until then if you are stuck in your business and would like to talk, contact me:

In gratitude,


I jumped out of an airplane this afternoon…

I jumped out of an airplane this afternoon then drove home, grabbed take-out for the family, and watched Netflix. It is only now as I stop right before going to bed that I can take stock of what just happened today. For the past 5 or 6 years, my son for his birthday has been asking to skydive. I have said “No, as a reasonable parent, I cannot allow you to skydive right now.” Yesterday, he turned 21 and for his birthday, my mom agreed to give him a jump AND go with him. I waited until this morning to add my name to the reservation. This is how I came to jump out of an airplane this afternoon around 3pm in Lake Elsinore.

The funny thing is that I was not really afraid. Yes, I had moments of wondering if I would die. I have considered skydiving in the past because it is a great way to overcome fear. In the last few years, I have been determined not to live a life of fear. To that end, on every vacation I have been the first one to suggest the zip line, the super fast speed boat trip, the walking safari in the middle of Kenya, etc. Last night around 10pm, I decided I would join my mom and my son on their adventure because at that moment, I realized that I would not be jumping to overcome fear and I would be jumping to support a wish my son has held for years.

Perhaps the more interesting part of my realization last night was that I do still have fears and I have all the tools I need to learn from my fears, to embrace them, and to move past the fear. Jumping out of airplanes, sleeping outside with hyenas and lions breathing down my neck, rappelling alongside a waterfall-these things have all served to reassure me that I can push myself beyond what is comfortable and that I can survive. The fears I still have will not be banished by heights, speed, or having to perform under pressure; they are the ones that are harder to pin down. Like the unwillingness to look at a situation for what it really is because then I would have to ask myself-do I remain or make a change? The fear of not knowing what to say to a loved one when I so desperately want to say the ‘right’ thing and not cause further pain or distance between us. The fear of being transparent, of sharing what I need, my hopes, my dreams.

Maybe the lessons from all the extreme ways in which I have been confronting my fear are of value. Today, I told the instructor that I was nervous. He asked what was my biggest fear about the jump today. Would you like to guess?

In a nutshell, my biggest fear before jumping out of an airplane, into a freefall, then relying on a piece of fabric and a stranger, albeit a professional, to bring me safely back to the ground  was that I was going to do it wrong. I was worried that I was not going to position my hands in the right place and arch my back enough. As I am writing this, it feels so crazy to share this with you. Really, my biggest fear was getting it wrong!?! Lucky for me, my instructor was awesome. His response was, “ Don’t worry about that. It makes it easier if you put your hands up when I ask you and if you can arch your back as we start our descent, but I have got you. Just remember to smile and have fun.”

Just remember to smile and have fun, admit when you are nervous or scared to someone, rarely does something have to be done perfectly to be of value, be willing to trust someone who has more or different experience than you do, lift your head for a bigger view, breathe-And be grateful. Thank you, John for inspiring me to do something that I might never had tried and for being on this incredible journey together.

With gratitude,


Day 15 The Foundation of Love

If we do not know how to take care of ourselves and to love ourselves, we cannot take care of the people we love. Loving oneself is the foundation for loving another person.


Today’s teaching is such a powerful one and so easily misunderstood. How many times have I ended up in negative situations both personally and professionally that could have been different if I had really, truly practiced self-love? Too many to count.


We are living in this strange and interesting intersection of artificial awareness and hyper-connectedness that for me can, more often than not, cloud my ability to trust my intuition, to stay focused, to be kind and generous. Showing kindness and generosity towards everyone I come into contact with IRL and virtually feels like it should be fairly simple to do; yes, that is the lofty goal I am subscribing to because I want to live in a world where humanity and civility are the norm. It also comes highly recommended in the form of the self-help books, teachings, meditations, etc. I consume in the hope of curing what ails me.

Yet I tend to feel less kind and generous when I am inundated by the opinions and demands of others, when I feel like everything and everyone is moving at this accelerated pace that I don’t have a clue how to match (Do I want to match it?!), when my thinking becomes so fragmented by all the ‘important distractions’ I allow to catch my gaze.


Thus upon reflecting on today’s message, I am emboldened to embark on the voyage of self-love again. Where I tend to misunderstand ‘loving oneself’ as a card-carrying ‘pleaser’, I mistake putting the needs of others above all else as is the definition of love. I do this despite consistent evidence to the contrary. So, how to remain true to myself, how to allow my loved-ones make their own mistakes and experience their own journeys, how to trust that I am still a good person, a lovable and loving being even when I choose to establish boundaries, how doing something I love and that feels good to me as a profession and charge money for my talents? The list goes on and on.


Does anyone else out there struggle with this? What is your stumbling block or your blind spot? How do you navigate between wanting to be of service, wanting to save and fix, and knowing yourself in a meaningful way? 


For the immediate future, being in the midst of the holidays which presents its own rollercoaster of expectations and emotions, this is my plan to cultivate a practice of loving myself:

Physical Self-Care-sleep, healthy food, exercise, breathing

Mental Self-Care-unplug each day, read printed material, write

Spiritual Self-Care-meditate or practice being still for even just a minute, be in community, laugh, forgive myself and make amends when necessary


And in the spirit of loving oneself, if I achieve one of my intended goals then I will be okay with it. I will stop holding myself to a standard that I would never expect of my family, my friends, or my clients.

Happy Holidays and Blessings to All,


PS As always, feel free to connect with me at or on my website,

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.