“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.” - Marcus Aurelius

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Why I March

Yesterday women and men around the world came together in their cities to stand up for their rights, their beliefs and their values.  They came together in protest of the normalization of hate against women, people of color, people of different faiths, LGBTQ people, disabled people, and other marginalized populations in this country.  One statistic I saw today stated that 4.7 million people showed up in peaceful protest around the world and that there wasn't a single arrest.

I walked in a march in Westfield, NJ.  The walk was expected to attract 100-200 people.  At least one thousand people attended.  It was an amazing experience.  The Westfield Police Department closed roads and provided a safe route for the walkers.  The participants in the walk stood side by side while we gathered waiting for the walk to commence.  We all admired each others signs, took pictures and talked and laughed together.  When the walk started we were met with supportive honks from cars that were held to stand still to allow us to pass through.  Marchers chanted "Love trumps hate", "Women united can't be divided" and "Stronger Together."  The energy of love and peace in the air was palpable.  Despite the damp, cold weather, everyone's spirits were high.

I marched because, as a woman, I am held to a different standard of living than a man.

I march because at my daughter's public middle school, her dress code is so much stricter than that of the boy's.  She was told to wear boy shorts to gym.  She cannot wear leggings.  Her tank straps have to be a certain width.  Her headbands need to be a certain width.  The lesson that she is learning that, because boys are incapable of controlling themselves, she needs to monitor herself.  Not that these boys need to monitor themselves.

I marched because, as a woman leader, I am tired of my voice being drowned out when in the company of men.  I am tired of needing to control my temperament for fear of being called "too emotional" or "too sensitive" or "crazy" when a man is just "heated" or "passionate."

I march because I am disgusted that a woman can be brutally assaulted and raped and that the criminal who assaulted her served only 3 months in prison because it would ruin his life.

I march because I refuse to be disrespected by men who believe they can insult or belittle or objectify women through the way they address them.

I march because it is still a fact of life that a woman walking alone is fearful for her safety.

I march because people think that its ok to call a woman a whore.

I march because access to safe and affordable healthcare is a right, not a privelege.

I march because I empathize with anyone in this country who has been made to feel afraid, demeaned, or ashamed by how they look, how they worship, who they love, or where they came from.

I march because hate doesn't make anything great.

I march because love and compassion and empathy is the only way to greatness.

I march because together we ARE stronger.

I march for myself.  I march to take back any time that a man has caused me to feel fearful, ashamed, or not "something" enough because of my gender.  Because I demand the respect that I am owed because I am a human being.

I march. . .

Monday, January 9, 2017

Love Myself Boot Camp

If you are ready to declare your independence from the things in your life that are holding you back and preventing you from allowing happiness and love to flow freely then its time for you to join the #lovemyselfrevolution!  I am looking to recruit some SOULdiers into the Love Myself Army.  SOULdiers should be ready to commit to cultivating more love, happiness, peace and miracles in their lives.  Enrollment now open for the Love Myself Boot Camp pilot program.  This program is designed to help you love yourself more by nourishing your body, your mind and your spirit and finding the ways that you are blocking the flow of love into your life.  LMBC is an 8 week program that includes daily email inspiration, webinars, podcasts and one-on-one support.   If you are ready to join the revolution or need more information send me an email at

Saturday, January 7, 2017


So it's the start of a new year.  The time of year when promises to create a better version of ourselves fill our brains - along with advertisements from marketers on how they can help us be the best us ever!  New Years Resolutions at their core are promises to improve ourselves.  The most popular resolutions are losing weight, eating better, exercising more, spending less, quitting smoking, drinking less, traveling more, being more organized, and pursuing a hobby.  On January 1, millions of people make these promises to themselves.  However, according to Dr. John Agwunobi, chief health and nutrition officer for Herbalife, only about 8% of people who make resolutions actually see them through to their end goal. Year after year, resolutions go unfulfilled.  And I imagine that year after year people feel disappointed in themselves for not sticking to them.  They feel unhappy about their weight and wish that they had had the will power to stick to their diet all year.  They are stressed out about finances and regret that they were not more disciplined in their spending.  They still have that achy low back and wish that they had spent the time exercising and losing weight to help alleviate the pain.  Ultimately, the cycle of making and breaking resolutions is one that causes us to feel worse about ourselves because we take something that we already feel crappy about, i.e. smoking everyday, and compound it with guilt and anger about our own failure to do anything about it.  What started out as a way to love ourselves more ended up being a ticket to self sabotage.  We end up punishing ourselves for what we didn't accomplish rather than celebrating all that we experienced throughout the year.

I am a person who has set resolutions in the past and "failed."  In fact, I am not sure that I have ever made a resolution that I have seen through to fruition.  This year I am trying something different.  In my reading about love and self love, I came across a quote that read, "Loving yourself is the greatest revolution."  This was a very powerful statement for me and has stuck with me.  It was really the catalyst behind my delving deep into the notion of self love and the creation of the movement that I have started called the #lovemyselfrevolution.   I chose this name because I love that it can be read two different ways: as "Love Myself Revolution" or as "Love My Self-Revolution".  The name allows for us to love ourselves as we are, while also loving ourselves enough to transform into our highest selves, which is a revolutionary act.  The goal of #lovemyselfrevolution is to inspire us to celebrate all of the ways in which we are loving towards ourselves, in addition to celebrating the ways in which we are evolving.  I have started using #lovemyselfrevolution on all of my social media posts that celebrate me loving myself.  And because I believe that loving ourselves and allowing happiness to flow freely into lives requires us to be intentional and purposeful, I did these four things in place of a New Years Resolution and invite and encourage you to do the same:

1. Choose an Anchor Word: A definition of the word anchor is "that which gives stability or security."  We all know that an anchor is what keeps a vessel moored to the bottom of the sea to prevent it from drifting away.  So an Anchor Word is a word that represents that which forms the foundation of your being - that which helps to keep you grounded.  It represents the basis of your identity.  I chose the word "Love" as my anchor word for 2017.  Love towards myself and love towards others.

2. Choose an Intention Statement: An intention statement is one or two sentences which describe how you intend to live to allow happiness to flow freely into your life.  My intention statement is, "In 2017, I am going on a living spree.  All that I do flows from love and supports living life in the most open, limitless, enriching way possible."

3. Choose an affirmation/ mantra: I have created a series of phrases that I have begun using during meditation, yoga or at times when I am not feeling grounded.  It serves to remind me of my anchor word and of my intention.  My affirmation is "I love myself.  I nourish my body.  I nourish my mind. I nourish my soul."  Repeating these phrases while connecting with my breath allows me to be present in the moment and to be in vibration with my intentions and purpose.

4. Create a "bucket list": when I went to yoga earlier this week the instructor handed out a sheet of paper with space for us to list 10 things that we want to do in 2017 and suggested we include the month in or by which we would complete it.  I loved this activity and felt like it really aligned with the other things I had chosen to do to kick off the new year.  In creating my list, I kept my anchor word, intention and affirmation in mind.  Here is what I am up with:

  • Start a business (October)
  • Hike through a rainforest (February)
  • Run a 1/2 marathon in less than 3 hours (April)
  • Wear "the dress" this summer (August)
  • Visit a sunflower farm (August)
  • Get a Himalayan Salt Lamp (March)
  • Go to the San Diego Zoo (spring)
  • Make cauliflower crust pizza (January - I did this one last night!!)
  • Meditate on a mountain (June)
  • Go on a solo weekend retreat (November)
I am extremely excited for 2017.  Creating these statements, words and lists has allowed me to celebrate life and inspired me to set a blueprint for allowing my happiness to flow freely.  I feel as though I am starting the year from a place of love instead of a place of fear about being overweight and failing to do anything about it.  I feel empowered and filled with positive energy.  I love myself and I want to create a life that nurtures that self love- not one that blocks it.  

I am also excited to share this with you.  I want to inspire you to love yourself and to create a life which allows your happiness to flow.  I want you to feel empowered and filled with positive energy.  If you decide to join me on this journey, I invite you to share your statements and lists on social media, to post pictures that depict you loving yourself, and to use #lovemyselfrevolution.  I would love at the end of the year to do a search on that hashtag and see all of the ways in which we all loved ourselves in 2017!!  

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Journey of Loving Yourself

Over the course of the past several years, I have become an advocate for self love.  Through many experiences, both beautiful and painful, the lesson that has emerged time and time again is that loving myself unconditionally is the root of my happiness.  No person, circumstance, object or place can cause me to be happy.  I must achieve happiness by completely and unequivocally loving myself.  This realization has caused me to dig deep into my soul to be honest with myself about the ways that I am NOT loving myself.  I have painstakingly examined decisions, relationships, behaviors and thought patterns about myself that are not loving.  It has been an amazing, miraculous journey, and, at times, extremely painful.

I have learned so much about myself, about unconditional love, and about other people throughout this process.  I have started to observe others in a compassionate light and see that the behaviors of so many people are borne of fear - and of not fully loving and accepting themselves.  The truth is that I don't think that people understand what it means to love themselves.  We absorb so much noise from the world around us - from the media, from cultural traditions, from the opinions of others.  We are told that we aren't good enough the way we are.  We are sold products to make us thinner, younger, richer, smarter, better.  And so we live in pursuit of the perfection that we are sold everyday.  But perfect doesn't exist. Intellectually we know that. However, emotionally and spiritually we are feeling gutted because we are subconsciously, or even consciously, trying to find happiness outside of us.  In her famous TED Talk, Brene Brown says,  "We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted, and medicated adult cohort in U. S. history." We are spending more money than ever on products, food, medicine, alcohol and drugs in the pursuit of happiness.  We have convinced ourselves that if we were thinner or if we could find a boyfriend or if our home looked like a page of a Pottery Barn catalog, that we will have achieved happiness.  However, as Brene Brown points out, we are simply "numbing those hard feelings." In the pursuit of perfection, aka happiness, we are actually creating circumstances that ultimately make us feel inadequate and less happy because we are using someone else's standards as the basis of our own happiness.

So how do we truly love ourselves?  What are things that we can do to genuinely show ourselves unconditional love in our lives?  These are the questions that I have been asking myself.  I have been doing a lot of reading and research on love and self-love.  I have learned so much and have had my eyes and, more importantly, my heart and soul opened to what it truly means to love oneself and why it often feels hard to love ourselves.  There are so many layers to these questions and though, in retrospect, they seem simple, the world in which we live has made it more complicated.

I started this blog five years ago as a way to explore this issue, however, at the time I lacked clarity and some life experience to fully understand that these are the questions my soul was urging me to explore.  I called it Create Your Sanctuary because I intuitively knew that we are all the masters of our own happiness and that we need to create our own sacred spaces in our lives in which we can flourish.  Over the course of the past five years I have truly come to realize that we must design the life we wish to live.  We need to have a clear vision of our authentic selves, not who the world is telling us to be, and we need to be purposeful and intentional in the choices we make to allow ourselves to become that person.  Through my blog, and other social media outlets, I will share the process of my awakening and becoming and hope that what I share allows you to become your true self.  Thank you for joining the journey!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Following My Dreams

One of my favorite scenes from any movie is the scene from the movie Tangled that I have posted above.  I love this scene so much because I can completely relate to it.  I'm sure that most people can.  In this scene, Rapunzel has just escaped from the tower where Mother Gothel keeps her hidden.  Mother Gothel has convinced Rapunzel that the world is a terrible, scary place and that, in order to stay safe and happy, Rapunzel needs to stay in the tower and never leave.  However, Rapunzel yearns to leave the tower.  Each year on her birthday lanterns are set afloat in the sky and Rapunzel, unaware that the lanterns are actually meant for her, has a longing to see them up close.  They are her calling and she cannot shake the desire to see them.  After a series of event, Rapunzel convinces Flynn Rider to take her to see the lanterns.  Leaving the tower puts Rapunzel on an emotional roller coaster ride.  She wavers between being euphoric and being overcome with fear and guilt.

This scene is a great depiction of the difference between how we feel when we act from within our loved-based narrative and empowering belief system and when we act from within our fear-based narrative and limiting belief system.  In the scenes in which Rapunzel is running and laughing and declaring that its the best day ever, she is elated.  She is so excited that she is no longer in the tower, seeing news things and on her way to follow her calling - seeing the lanterns.  She feels alive and euphoric - like there is nothing she can't do.  Her empowering belief system is in overdrive.  In the scenes in which she is huddled on the floor crying, her fear-based narrative is controlling her thoughts and her emotions.  She feels guilty.  She is scared that her mother will be angry.  She is desperate for her mother's love and approval and she fears that this action will cause her mother to reject her.  Her limiting beliefs make her feels as though her self-worth is contingent upon following her mother's orders rather than following her own heart.  Flynn Rider picks up on her fear-based narrative and tries to exploit it in an attempt to get himself out of the commitment he had made to Rapunzel to bring her to see the lanterns.  Ultimately, though, the calling of Rapunzel's true purpose, her loving narrative, is able to silence her fears.  Rapunzel finally sees the lanterns, discovers that the lanterns ARE meant for her and that she is a princess who was kidnapped by Mother Gothel, returns to her parents, and lives happily ever after.

Recently, I've been doing a lot of thinking about my own purpose and truth and my own limiting beliefs.  Through meditation, reiki, reading and writing, I have come to realize that the things that we think about that cause us to be filled with the sense of elation and euphoria that Rapunzel experienced when she left the "safety" of the tower in pursuit of her dream, are not random, fleeting sensations.  They are our calling.  They are pointing us in the direction of our life's purpose and truest self.  The feelings that we experience when we think about them are a positive energy vibration that is in alignment with the energy vibration of the love of the Universe.  We feel excited and inspired and elated because we have discovered our truth.  However, fear is strong.  And we are conditioned to be fearful.  We are afraid to leave our own tower - the safety of the familiar that we have built around ourselves to create the illusion of security and happiness.  Fear fills us with all sorts of limiting beliefs - that we may fail, we may be rejected, we may risk our security, we may lose love.  Those feelings make us feel anxious and stressed and angry and jealous and unfulfilled.  And so we stay in our tower and choose, either consciously or subconsciously, to ignore our truth and listen to fear.  We stay in our tower.  We live in our tower.  But we are not experiencing the fullness of life.  We are ignoring the empowering beliefs that our possibilities and opportunities for love and fulfillment and meaning are limitless.

I have decided to escape from my tower - to follow my own personal lanterns.  Last week I enrolled in a course to become a Certified Professional Coach.  My empowering beliefs and loving truth and purpose are calling me to become a Coach, a writer and a speaker who will help individuals and organizations overcome their own limiting beliefs and to follow their own lanterns in order to promote sustainable growth and fulfillment.  I feel as excited as Rapunzel did when she left her tower.  I can't wait to finally see my lanterns close up!

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Little Prince - A Celebration of My Dad's Life

My dad loved words.  He loved words because words strung together become a story.  And my dad loved stories and story-telling in all of its different forms.  He loved books and music and theater and movies and letter-writing.  Because all of them are ways to tell a story.  And so I am going to do my best to tell you a story about my dad using one of his favorite stories and some of his own words.
One of my father’s favorite books was The Little Prince.  This is a story that he used to read to Sarah and me before bedtime.  It is a book that he encouraged me to read again when I was a teenager.  I can vividly see his copy in my mind because it lasted throughout my entire childhood.  When Alex and Allie were born, he gave them each a copy.  Inside he wrote, “When you’ve learned the magic of reading, you’ll find The Little Prince has much wisdom to offer.”   After my dad died, I decided to read The Little Prince again.  This time through a much different lens than before.  This time I read it to hear his voice.  To connect again with my father and his wisdom.

The Little Prince is a story told by an aviator who crash lands in the desert and meets a Little Prince who came from another planet.  The aviator and The Little Prince spend a year together and over the course of that year the aviator learns a lot about The Little Prince and about life and love.  The Little Prince tells the aviator about his life on the star from which he came.  That he owned a flower.  A flower that he cared for everyday by shielding it from the wind and protecting it from caterpillars and every night by placing a glass bell over it to shield it from the cold.  The Little Prince told the aviator about a fox he encountered when he landed in the desert.  The fox wanted The Little Prince to tame him but The Little Prince didn’t know what that meant.  The fox explained that “to tame” meant to establish ties.  He said, “If you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world.  To you, I shall be in unique in all the world.”

By that definition, my father tamed almost everyone he’s ever met.  He was very intentional about establishing unique ties with the people in his life.  As a father, he worked hard to know Sarah and me as people, not just as his children.  Because we went to high school 30 minutes from our house and most of our friends lived as far, we spent a lot of time in the car with my dad.  We would talk the whole time.  He didn’t just want to know what we were doing or what we liked or what we wanted.  He wanted to know what we were thinking.  And why we were was thinking it.  In a letter he wrote to me in my mid-twenties, he said, “I love you.  Beyond love I like you.  One of the great joys of being a parent is seeing a tiny, crying infant blossoming through childhood and adolescence, to become a happy, healthy adult.  One’s child will always be one’s child.  But it is the idea of having an adult relationship with one’s child that brings a sense of fulfillment to a parent.  As you were growing up, we were not only father-daughter, we were friends.  I think we always enjoyed being together and doing things together.  And I want that to continue through your adult life and as I grow old and crotchety. 

And he brought to grand-parenting the same need and desire to establish unique ties with each of his grandchildren.   My father poured himself into his grandchildren.  He wasn’t the typical grandparent who spoils his grandchildren with gifts and treats (though there were no shortage of those).  He was a grandfather who spent much time having meaningful conversations with his grandchildren.  Each year he scheduled a special day out with them. These trips included visits to The Museum of Natural History, The Nutcracker Ballet, the Liberty Science Center, Bowcraft Amusement Park and The Treetops Adventure Course at the Turtle Back Zoo.  He invested his time and love in supporting their hobbies and interests by eagerly and proudly attending their piano recitals, baseball and basketball and soccer games, and attending all of their school concerts and graduations.  He cooked for them and with them.  He visited them when they were sick.  He joked with them.  He loved them with every ounce of his being.  In fact, it was his pure love for them that helped him muster the energy while he lay in the ICU with stage IV cancer, a broken hip, pneumonia, blood clots in both lungs and tubes in his nose and all over his body to lift his head up, open his eyes wide and put a smile on his face to have one last and personal conversation with each of his grandchildren.  He asked Allie how many more times she planned on reading the Harry Potter books.  He asked Emma to write a song about the two of them with the lyrics “I love my Poppy and my Poppy loves me.” He congratulated Alex on sinking a basket at his game the day before and discussed his play practice and busy schedule.  He comforted Will and told him not to remember him like this.  To remember him cooking and driving him around and being fun poppy.  Watching these conversations happen was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.  Because it was watching sheer love between a man and his grandchildren.

Like The Little Prince cared for and treasured his rose, my father cared for and treasured his family.  And not a day went by that he didn’t tell my mother how much he loved her.  Although most of us in this room, myself included, saw him as a near flawless man, the truth is that he grew a lot because of my mother.  My father was NOT perfect.  And from what I hear he made a lot of bad decisions in his younger years.  My mother shared a letter with Sarah and me after he died that my father had written to her after they had had what seemed to be a pretty serious fight.  In the letter my father thanks my mother for having faith in him, for having faith in his dreams and for having faith in his potential.  He told her that he needs her in his life.  He needs her to be with him to achieve their shared vision in life.  The letter was probably about ten pages long.  The final line of the letter read, “I love you.  My life is dedicated to you.”  And though there were certainly bumps along the way, and undoubtedly times when that dedication was tested, he lived up to his promise.  My father’s dedication to my mother and to his family became the very essence of who he is.

One of the most famous lines from The Little Prince is “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  When we were growing up on the second floor of a two family house in North Bergen, we didn’t have a washing machine or dryer.  So on Saturday mornings, my dad would bring us to the laundromat with him.  While he would do the laundry we would go to the arcade next door and have lunch at Burger King.  But we would always help him fold the laundry.  Sometimes, for lunch we would get deli sandwiches and eat together as a family in the living room while watching American Gladiator on TV. On Friday nights, we would rent movies from Blockbuster and order pizza.  We didn’t do a lot of extravagant things.  To many they probably seemed ordinary.  But my dad loved that family time.  It was his most cherished possession. 

One of MY favorite lines from The Little Prince is when the rose says to The Little Prince, “I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.”  This reminds me so much of what my dad told Allie and Alex in each of their last conversations. He told them, “In life, good things and bad things will happen.  But it’s important to always focus on the good things.”  My father was an optimist.  He loved life.  He loved his family.  And he loved that we loved him.  There is no doubt that every single person who loves him is going to miss him – his corny jokes, his delicious cooking, his reliability, and his honest love.  But as The Little Prince said to the aviator before he left, “when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrow) you will be content that you have known me.  You will always be my friend.”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Inspiration & Connection

Often people ask me why I post so many inspirational quotes on my social media accounts.  Occasionally, people poke fun at me for doing so.  I usually pay no mind to their teasing or judgment.  But I decided that today is the perfect day to respond to those who don't understand me.
Today is National Suicide Prevention Day.  While I have never been directly impacted by the suicide of a loved one, I have family members, friends and acquaintances who have been.  The truth is that life is hard.  Life is so very, very hard.  And although life can be filled with amazing experiences and wonderful people and unconditional love, it can also feel very lonely and can be extremely difficult to navigate.  People struggle on a daily basis with relationships, finances, body image, career choices, physical illness, mental illness, loss, and on and on.  Unfortunately, the pressure we experience to be productive and successful and to have it altogether has made us feel as though perfection rather than being human is mandatory.  And so many times we hide our struggles out of fear of being judged or mocked or criticized or rejected.  And so we feel lonely.  Feeling lonely is heartbreaking.  It can be so overwhelming and consuming that it can paralyze us.  It can lead us to dark places within ourselves where we can become lost. And we can become lost without anyone ever realizing it because we force a smile, we fight through the day, and we pretend.  And the more lost we feel and the more we pretend, the deeper we sink.

This is why I post so many "inspirational" quotes.  I prefer to call them "connection" quotes.  I may see a post by someone else that resonates with me.  And when that happens I feel a connection.  I feel a connection because often times these quotes are admissions that not everything is perfect in their life.  And I feel a connection because these quotes are also filled with hope and faith and love.  I believe that with hope and faith and love we can battle through hard times.  It is how I live my life - with the belief that although things may not be perfect, although things at times may feel bleak, there is always hope.  And so I share quotes and images that may fill others with the same sense of connection and hope and faith and love.  So that they know that they are not alone.

I am not suggesting that sharing quotes on social media is a way to prevent someone from taking their own life, it is simply one way that we can acknowledge to each other that life is hard.  That we are all in this together.  That we need to act with kindness and compassion and love.  We have no idea what others are struggling with.  So we need to be gentle with one another.  We need to be forgiving and understanding.  We need to have patience.  We need to stop judging.  Life is hard enough already.  Let's not make it harder on each other.