Mining gems



For years I’ve been working on getting the right title for Ani and Izzy’s story. This morning, as I’m mining my journals—in Volume 49—I found a chunk of notes for the book and this little gem: “…This should be called ‘Coming Clean.’”

In one way or another those two words describe every major and minor character’s journey. I can’t express how thrilled I am to know I’ve finally, finally nailed it.

(Past working titles included: Pants on Fire, Breaking Branches, Truth be Told, The Secrets we Keep).

Finding that felt like when I discover the sunglasses I tore my house up looking for were on my head the whole time.

I’ve been putting off this mining project for years and finally must do it to make forward progress on finishing this book and developing my journaling curriculum. More on both of those soon, no really- I’ll be back soon. I’ve had plenty to say lately but been sick (AGAIN?!) as well as very “mentally jumbled.”

Soon, I promise!

Meanwhile … here’s another random gem I found in this journal that describes a bit of what’s happening in this story (and, you know … life):

Life is not an after school special where interventions always work, friends and family come around and every apology is forgiven, amends neatly made, the past tidily in its place.

Real life, real addiction, real recovery, real people are messy.

People get hurt and bad things happen.

But people also heal and Grace happens.

If we let it.

And what ought to be universally known but (we each must learn alone) is that self help, healing, finding, and allowing Grace is up to each of us individually.

And even if someone you love doesn’t arrive at the same time as you, it doesn’t have to hold you back.

Yes, everyone winces when you turn the light on in a dark room, but you have a right—a responsibility—to shine your light and to not shrink from its brilliance.

Facts, figures and feelings


Valentine’s Day … an emotionally loaded, artificial holiday if there ever was one. I am, however, a huge fan of Love. The full-fat, non-saccharin kind.

With all the commercial reminders, today’s as good a day as any to focus on how we love each other, and also ourselves – because the two are very much connected. In fact, the way we love our own selves has everything to do with how we are able to love others.

As most of you know, Whitney Houston died this week. Her song, “The greatest love of all” was the first song I learned all the words to and still sing in the shower (happily and horribly off key).


I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I'll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
It’s easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

Whitney and I part ways at the part where she says self love is easy to achieve. It isn’t. It takes effort when many of us have to convince ourselves we’re worth making an effort for in the first place!

I part ways with the lovely and supremely talented Whitney in other ways as well, including area of talent and choice of mode of self destruction.

While I’ve never inhaled cocaine, allegedly or otherwise, I have ingested food that I know is bad for me, over and over again. And then there’s this extra 35 pounds I’ve been packing around for far too long. Except, now it’s 30. It feels like I’m walking in the shadow of how I could feel and look. I’d like to change that.

Since last year when I set a goal to lose 35 pounds by my 35th birthday, I’ve managed to lose get rid of 5 of them. I decided that one way to boost my esteem and take care of myself is to make this goal a priority (again) because I think doing that will increase my energy, productivity, health, sleep … good stuff.

So I bought a scale. It’s been over a year since I got rid of my old one. (You can read about that in this post called “Worthless.”) And I know it’s not in fashion to talk about losing weight because it’s supposed to be about how I feel. And overall wellness.

I get that. Totally. I am all about feelings. And wellness. However, I also get that for me, I need a number, a specific goal and then smaller goals to reach that target. I need accountability and a measurable outcome.


I got this idea from my friend Linsey. I’m always happy to find a new use for sticky notes. Here are 30 of them stuck to my mirror. For each pound lost, one comes down. (Note: if you try this at home make sure you use the correct side of your mirrored door, I ended up re-doing this).

And … because the number on the scale is just a number, a fact, a gauge … and because I was encouraged by Jenny Meyerson … here’s my number, for now:



I truly believe that my efforts toward this goal, and consequently achieving it, is an act of self love but also a way of loving my whole family because the better I feel, the better I can take care of them.

Here’s my column on rebuilding your sense of worth if you’d like to read it. It addresses the erosion of esteem I’ve found to be an issue for lots of moms like me:—hardy


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Put down the bat



A couple weeks ago I wrote about the importance of keeping our eyes on our own paper when it comes to comparing ourselves, our work, our lives with the highlight reels of others.

Becky Higgins posted on the same topic that same day and generously linked to my post which is how I got to connect with so many of you. (Yay!)

I felt like the message was well received and hit home for a lot of us. Which validated my belief that we are experiencing an esteem epidemic among women in our country. (This may be true for men, and other  countries but I can only speak to that which I know for sure.)

Further proof that this is so was found in comments and posts responding to encouragement to keep things simple if that is what works for you. Somehow, this got translated for some to feeling like a pass to mock, criticize and put down others for approaching Project Life in a more embellished fashion. That was never my intent. My point, and I know this is true for Becky as well, was—and is—that how someone else does something is not a reflection or commentary on YOU, your process or your end product.

One comment that stood out to me in particular said something about being bothered by all the stuff Becky was posting as inspiration because this person didn’t like being made to feel inferior.

Made to feel inferior.

It feels like that sometimes, doesn’t it?

Until you realize that Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous words, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” are true to the core.

But you have to be willing to recognize the truth in that and invest in yourself to the point where you are grounded enough in your own sense of self to master (and override) the part your brain that allows you to think someone else is in control of any part of you.

Does that make sense?

It’s possible. I promise. And I’m at this very moment developing a class to help guide anyone who is interested along that journey to personal emotional empowerment.

(Partly because I’m an expert in a lot of ways not to be mentally healthy! While I don’t have it all figured out, the good news is I understand clearly “all figured out” was never the point.)

If the person who made that comment, or felt that way is reading this, I mean no disrespect. I totally get that feeling. I totally get thinking other people are making me feel a certain way.

There was a time I rolled around judging other people by how their looks made me feel about mine. (Not proud to admit that but it’s the truth.) It took me a long time to realize that’s what I was doing. And longer still to change the pattern in my brain. But my life is more peaceful because of it.

Another example that I realized only this morning (!):

Talking to a good girlfriend last night I mentioned that the perfect analogy for a particular relationship in my life is the Whac-a-Mole game, remember that? Where you had a bat and you’d beat the mole down every time it popped up?

“I feel like every time I forgive, rally and agree to move forward – whack! I’m the mole!” I told her. I prayed about this relationship before going to sleep, asking for peace in my heart, guidance and clarity.

This morning I woke up with this sentence on my mind: Yes, you are the mole. You are also holding the bat.

I’ll leave you with that, for now.

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p.s. If you like reading this blog, I’d take it as a lovely compliment if you subscribed! Thank you.

Note: for anyone who’d like it, you may copy, save and/or print the quote card I made at the top of this post. I made it for you. If you need me to email it to you, let me know!

Eyes on your own paper, y’all

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My passion for Project Life is no secret. So I’m kind of bummed to hear about people being intimidated to start something so awesome and designed to be simple because of how other people choose to approach the project.

I’ve noticed my tendency to do this when I’m clicking around blogs. First, I’m like: “Oh! That is so cool. I love how it looks.” Then: “Wow. Everyone’s blogs are so sophisticated looking and I can’t figure out how to change my banner!”  "These picture are amazing!” And finally: “I’m such a hack. I suck.”

Except that I totally don’t suck. Not at everything anyway. I’m a writer not a designer. I like to learn more about designing and keep up with the technology that allows me to share my writing and participate in this Project Life community in a visually appealing way. But it’s not my priority. So I’ll get there when I get there. Or I won’t. No worries either way. I don’t come by this attitude naturally. At a young age I learned to compare myself to others and catalogue where I didn’t measure up and  then use that as as evidence of my unworthiness.

That type of chronic thinking landed me on a therapist’s couch. Luckily. Luckily I realized there has got to be a better way to live this one, short, precious life than by going around counting the ways I suck.

I share this not because it’s comfortable but because I know I am so not alone on that journey. So many are told we need to “get more confidence.” But they don’t sell that at Walgreens. You get  confidence by earning it –  from, get a load of this, your own self!!! Because until you have your own approval, no one else’s will be enough. I promise this is true. Deep down, you know it’s true too.

{Yes this all ties in with the self-help series I’m working on, more on that soon!}

One step toward increasing your own self-worth is to DO the things you love. Even if, especially if, you don’t think you’ll do it as well as anyone else. Think of it as your opportunity to impress your own self. And as practice for giving the finger to the part of you that says you can’t.

Project Life may not be for you. Plenty of people just aren’t into documenting life. BUT if this project calls to you, you know in that inner desire that bubbles with excitement at the possibility of participating … you can totally do it your own way.

I think I’m sensitive to this because it’s kind of what happened to my love of scrapbooking. I loved scrapbooking when I did it my own way, ignorant that there was an “industry” and keeping it simple, pictures, stories, scraps of life (ticket stubs, cards, etc.) I didn’t know, or care, if I had a style. Or how my style, or lack of it, measured up to others. Because I didn’t care. I was having fun with it.

And then … I got excited about the Scrapbooking Industry. There were stores, magazines, websites … I loved all of it. Until I realized that instead of scrapbooking anymore, I had become a hoarder of supplies and my pictures stayed in boxes and on multiple unorganized files on my computer labeled “new folder.” Why? I think I felt like I wasn’t “doing it right.”

I didn’t know it at the time as it was a gradual shift from actively engaging in my passion to sitting on the sidelines, watching longingly as others played Varsity.

The pages and projects I was looking to for inspiration seemed so complicated. So embellished. So not me. If that was scrapbooking, I wasn’t a real scrapbooker.

Then I discovered and fell in online love with the work, mission and passion of Stacy Julian, Ali Edwards and Becky Higgins. For me, they lead me back home to what matters to me: the stories, the passion for  sharing them, the joy in creating. They were like the coaches who insist everyone takes a turn at bat because everyone has something to offer, their own way in their own time.

So if these inspiring women are the industry coaches, let’s pretend I’m the teacher and I have this one thing to say:

Eyes on your own paper, y’all!



Serenity Now (plus a freebie)

 Serenity Now - freebie 

If you read my most recent post you know I’m done with the whole shame thing. Which means I can tell you I’ve been a self-help junkie for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been drawn to things that help me understand myself and others. I love that stuff!

Even though I love it, I’ve felt a little shy about it, like maybe there was something really wrong with me to be so attracted to that kind of thing. The other day I realized if that’s true I am so, so, so not alone since some of the books I’ve collected are best-sellers.

Which got me thinking … my personal self-help odyssey has been a journey of synchronicities where someone loaned me a book with exactly what I needed to read; or a song came on the radio making something I was mulling over click into place; or a seemingly random conversation triggered just the thought I needed to make an important decision; or a quote I read on a teabag revealed a message I needed to hear. You get the idea.

All that is to say, I’ve decided to start my own “self-help” category here to share some of my favorite quotes, books, living lessons, etc. I guess, in a sense, I’ve been doing that all along but now it’s official – I’m calling it something. And you know me, giving it a label makes it real.

The other day my beautiful friend Mel reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where George's father goes around screaming "SERENITY NOW!" whenever he needed to calm down. While screaming "SERENITY NOW!" might not work for most of us, laughing sure does.

Evoking the unlikely combination of Frank Costanza and Faith Hill, I came up with as funny reminder to myself for when I’m feeling less-than-Zen. You are welcome to copy it, print it, share it, whatever. If you like it, it’s yours.

I hope you’ll like more of that kind of thing as I work toward turning the product line of Nathalie’s Notes from my dreams to my reality.

A few ideas for how to use my first Nathalie's Notes freebie:

  • Save it as your desktop picture.
  • Print it out and frame it. Keep it or give it to a friend.
  • Paste it into your journal. (What? You don't have a journal? We need to talk.)

Here it is: View this photo

To hear Frank's "SERENITY NOW!" for yourself click  


Go ahead, get pissed. Just don’t stay that way!

I was reading some questions and comments on a parenting board I like when I saw a mom asking how to handle a situation that leaves her feeling angry. Another person responded by telling her that if she was so angry she had little, or no tolerance. So, you know I had to say something.

Are you kidding me? As soon as you start telling people it’s not okay to be angry with their children is when things get dangerous. If you can’t admit that you’re angry, you can’t get help figuring your way through it. And that’s a problem. Why is it that some people advocate for allowing children to feel their entire “rainbow of emotions” but don’t yield that same courtesy to the parents?

Here is a link to a parenting site I poured over last night looking for some solutions to our recent parenting challenges – I’ve been sort of a Zen-Banshee lately. It’s about handling our anger as parents – see?! It’s normal, thank you very much. There’s a lot there to digest, if you can approach it without feeling defensive, all the better. I caught myself cringing a few times but liked the overall concept.

I was most struck by the idea that one of the reasons our children can push our buttons like no other is that in the moment that they {insert behavior that makes you insanely, intensely and instantly furious} it triggers how you felt as a child. (Enough with the eye-rolling, already, just consider the possibility). So for me that looks like, when Sam utterly disregards something I’d just told him, a simple request even, and does whatever he damn well pleases underneath my fury, I feel: dismissed, ignored, unimportant, useless, not heard. These are feelings I remember from early on and understanding that this is what might be happening was eye-opening in a hopeful way. Make sense?

For the article on parent-anger, I only take issue with the last line, #16 I get her point but don’t think shame is the right word to use there.

If I could help eradicate one thing from our personal and parenting arsenals it would be shame. Okay three things: shame, guilt and blame.

Writing as I go, learning as I live and sharing that here with you is one of my ways of combating those things.

This video, sent to me by my friend Rose, is 20 worthwhile minutes and helped me find the courage within myself to start this journey back to my favorite self.

20 minutes of inspiration …

Back soon,