Author Archive

Vision Boards and the Law of Attraction

Anyone else see the “The Secret” when it came out in 2006?  I remember being quite inspired by it when we watched it just prior to my first daughter’s birth. The Big Secret is essentially that we’re all intended to have an amazing life and that we create every moment of our life with our thoughts. The film explains the Law of Attraction —  how we attract into our lives anything that we give attention to, regardless whether it’s positive or negative.

Before this movie existed and all the talk about the law of attraction took hold culturally, any number of practices and tools existed that essentially help activate drawing in that which you seek.

Vision boards are something I’ve done off and on for over ten years. They are fun and powerful manifestation tools. The idea is to take pictures you like from magazines or that you print off the web and put them in a collage on a poster board or foam core board. Ideally all the pictures bring you joy and represent your passions and desires. You can choose to add text and drawings too. I read one suggestion to include copy at the bottom, “date created (today’s date)” and “date manifested.”

It’s fun to look back on ones that I created several years ago — especially my first vision board in 1999:

This one was pure stream of consciousness. It was one of the evening exercises at a life-changing retreat I attended in Colorado called Women’s Quest. We were told to go through a stack of magazines and cut out anything that looked attractive to us and not stop to think about it.

Women’s Quest rocks by the way. I went to three retreats over the span of a few years back in my single, corporate chic days and I hold the intention of taking my girls to one when they are older. Super empowering, adventurous, and fabulously feminine.

I’m struck by two images that I see now in my old ’99 vision board that are mind-blowing to me.  The first, which may be hard to see, is a picture of African American children in choir robes.  With absolutely ZERO clue in 1999 that I would be doing this — shortly after moving to Austin in 2003, I began volunteering for a charter school for under-served children in Austin, most with African American and Latino heritage. During the 2004-2005 school year, I was the school’s volunteer choir teacher.

The second one that I’m drawn to today is the picture of the young girl with her arms outstretched in joy.  Check out this picture of my sweet Sadie:

I didn’t do another vision board until 2004. When I was ready to get married and was fantasizing about having a beautiful wedding with dark pink and orange flowers, and chocolate-colored brides maids dresses.

This was my secret vision board that I stashed under our bed when my husband and I were living together, not yet engaged.  Kinda hard to see in this tiny picture…but if you click it, I think you see something larger…and then there’s pictures from my wedding a year later in 2005.

Now. When I look back at the much fancier board that my husband and I made together for 2010, I find myself scratching my head a bit.

Some things on the board manifested quite beautifully: Travel (for almost free), Getting Published, Getting a Job. Practicing affinity and compassion.

Others – not so much.

Namely:  EXERCISE which is all over the board for crying in the drink! And the others were specific numbers around total money earned per month in 2010 which didn’t happen. That’s supposed to be my husband’s future ripped torso (close….really close) and that’s supposed to be me jogging blissfully through the woods and wearing skinny, hip clothes (not that close on either….)

I read these two quotes on The Secret’s web site tonight:

Do whatever it takes to feel good. The emotions of joy and happiness are powerful money magnets. Be happy now!

You can intend and create everything you want for the future, through the simple process of gratitude.

Which reminds me of the Gratitude journaling exercise which I fully intend to re-ignite this year.

As far as the vision board, ideally it is posted somewhere where you’ll do more than barely notice it. One person suggested having it on the ceiling above your bed.  Since we’re selling the house and have showings on a semi-regular basis, we’ve opted to keep our vision boards stashed away.

We intend to redo our boards for 2011 this month.  And as soon as we’re in another home, we’ll make them prominent again. Since we attract into our lives anything that we give attention t0 — best to have visual aids some place that draws our attention!

Posted in AP & Self Care | 4 Comments

Cowboy Santa

Lots of places lack the climate for a dreamy Bing Crosby Christmas. But in Texas, people wax poetic about it.

I discovered this Texan twist on The Night Before Christmas story and love it. From feeling the sweet innocence of Meg Wohlberg’s 1950’s illustrations to the matter-of-fact drawl of Leon Harris’s text  — the book is a gem.

Want the full experience?  Try listening to Gene Autry sing it!

Twas the night before Christmas, in Texas, you know.

Way out on the prairie, without any snow.

Asleep in their cabin, were Buddy and Sue,

A dreamin’ of Christmas, like me and like you.

Not stockings, but boots, at the foot of their bed.

For this was in Texas, what more need be said.

When all of a sudden, from out of the still night,

There came such a ruckus, it gave me a fright.

And I saw ‘cross the prairie, like a shot from a gun,

A loaded up buckboard, come on at a run.

The driver was “Geein” and “Hawin” with a will,

The horses (not reindeer) he drove with such skill.

“Come on there Buck, Poncho, & Prince, to the right,

There’ll be plenty of travelin’ for you all tonight.”

The driver in Levi’s and a shirt that was red,

Had a ten-gallon Stetson on top of his head.

As he stepped from the buckboard, he was really a sight,

With his beard and moustache, so curly and white.

As he burst in the cabin, the children awoke,

And were so astonished, that neither one spoke.

And he filled up their boots with such presents galore,

That neither could think of a single thing more.

When Buddy recovered the use of his jaws,

He asked in a whisper, “Are you really Santa Claus?”

“Am I the real Santa? Well, what do you think?

And he smiled as he gave a mysterious wink.

Then he leaped in his buckboard, and called back in his drawl,

“To all the children in Texas, Merry Christmas, all y’all!”

And there’s still time to order this on Amazon before Christmas if you like it too!

Merry Texas Christmas You All

Posted in Holiday | 1 Comment

As We Approach the Season of Gluttony

Photo Credit: The Gothamist

Isn’t it interesting that for so many of us, all bets are off on watching what we eat from late November through December?  It’s like the universal “bye time” for diets and everyone starts over in January having to set new intentions and exercise more to work off the season of excess.

I prefer to focus on setting intentions versus ever calling the way I choose to eat a “diet”.  I stopped that in college when my desire to avoid gaining weight caused entirely too much obsessive stress.  Just saying the word will put an instant stop to any change in the way I eat because I enter a mental state peppered with depriving “shoulds,” “can’ts,” and angry “screw this” thoughts.

The only way I have successfully embarked on a mostly vegan, mostly low fat, low sugar way of life is that I keep it to mostly.  And before having babies when I was hard core about it for a year, the only way I could do it is if I made it all about addition versus subtraction. It was about adding something fun and interesting to my life, versus taking away some of my greatest simple pleasures in life.  I loaded up on vegan cookbooks; I scoured the web for online recipe resources; my husband (then boyfriend) and I tried out new vegan friendly restaurants in Austin every week; and I began hosting vegan gourmet dinner parties.

And when it came to visiting family during this “hard core” chapter, it always felt pretty awkward. You quickly transition from feeling connected, to disconnected. From go-along, to get-along, to high maintenance. How can you be a courteous guest in someone else’s home and request that they prepare special food for you that is different from what they would do for themselves?  Maybe you claim a new family onset of severe allergies to meat and dairy.  This might fly with someone you’re having dinner with for the first time — but family? Probably not.

So I’ve quite peacefully determined that when I’m a dinner guest at someone else’s house — especially family — I will ask that they do not go out of their way to make anything different for us than they already had planned.  We can opt to focus on side-dishes; or we can opt to eat everything there and not worry about it.

The next time I host Thanksgiving, I intend to make it vegan — for fun.  To see what’s possible!

This year, we’re guests at my in-laws and we will fully enjoy with gratitude a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

If you’re hosting this year and looking for some healthy, plant-based recipe ideas — check out this “Think PlantStrong Thanksgiving” blog post I helped to pen for Whole Foods.  And stay tuned for more ideas on healthier treat options for the month of December.

Posted in AP & Self Care, Nutrition | No Comments

What’s Written on Your Face?

Oh my. Where do I begin?  A rude awakening occurred for me this week.

My face and jaw and neck have quite literally carried the brunt of my feeble stress management skills for the last few years as I work out my frustrations with my perceived inability to do anything right in my sleep.  My nocturnal teeth grinding has been so severe since becoming a Mother that I’ve managed to completely alter the alignment of my jaw to the point that only a few teeth touch in the back of my mouth and my face looks different.

I remember musing as a teenager that I could guess the overriding character of an elderly person based on the way their face had aged. And I was always struck how women, more than men, seemed to physically take on a sad or angry life more than men — way before they turn gray.  My husband and I are still guilty of commenting on women we see while out and about whose faces reflect the appearance a difficult life.  With Texas quips in his DNA, I can count on him to say, “Wow does she ever look road hard and put up wet.”

Over the last several months as I inched closer and closer to 40 and contemplated my increasingly distorted road hard mouth, I had to call a “time out” on letting another day go by without doing something about it. I’ve been barking about it to my husband for a year.

“Look at my bite! It’s getting worse!”

“Oh God, another terrible headache this morning. I’m grinding again!”

“This mouth guard doesn’t help, what am I going to do?”

His answer has always been, “Focus on getting to the source of the grinding and then worry about fixing your mouth.”

Well, shit bags.

I’ve finally, once and for all, GOT to prioritize self-care and self-love. I’ve been writing about this for how long? Julia Cameron says if you complain about something enough in your writing day after day (if you’re disciplined with daily journaling which I’m not) — that you simply can’t continue with the same problem or situation without your mind generating new action or perspective.

I’m proud of the attention that I’ve given to parenting and learning all that I can to best meet my children’s needs. And I’ve also managed to inadvertently develop myself into the poster child for Attachment Parenting Martyrdom which I don’t recommend to any of you newer Mamas!!

Absolutely love your child with every ounce of who you are. Honor their little spirits and tend to their needs. Do all that you can to foster secure attachment.

But for the sake of your own emotional and physical well-being — don’t put yourself on a shelf in the process.  Don’t do it!! If you’re like me, you mistakenly believe that if you give to yourself it means your child will suffer.  That you won’t be giving to them.  And you can drive yourself to the brink in the name of intended Love and Devotion. You really can. In the long run, no child benefits from a sick or unhappy mother!!

My rude awakening occurred during our first weekend trip without children since either were born.  This Big Deal trip to L.A.. coincidentally happened the weekend after we went to New York City for my 40th. It was gifted to us by my Mother, brother and sister-in-law and we had our tickets booked before we received the spontaneous gift of the NYC trip. We went from a never-leave-home couple to serious jet-setters all in two weeks. Crazy.

On the way out to California I had a complete melt-down realization of my fairly chronic state of being that alternates between stressed out, pissed off or disappointed.  Within me also exists Mrs. Positive, Do-good, Dreamer. And she shines when I’m with my children, my friends, or at work. But “I’m not OK” always seems to take over as a set-point of sorts. And while I might attempt to maintain the allusion that this angst I often feel isn’t impacting anyone but myself and my godforsaken jaw-line — I was faced with the reality that my husband gets the brunt of it. And that my desire to always make the world right for my children has me on a No Good path of over-parenting. And that in order to be the kind of wife and mother I really want to be, I’ve got to take a hard look at myself, how I respond to what I don’t like for myself or for my girls, how I get my needs met, and finally take steps to do what I know can shift my world view every day when I commit to it.

  • Running, Walking, Running. In Nature.
  • Journaling gratitude for all that is and all that will be.
  • Listening to Libby’s song, Mama.
  • Setting up as many organization and support systems as possible to weather this 2 parents working over-time challenging chapter of life

On the way back to Austin, I was nailed with one of the worst headaches I’ve experienced since I started this teeth grinding nonsense a few years back.  I took four Advil on the plane and still couldn’t shake it. After 3 1/2 hours in the air of pounding pain behind both ears and in my temples, I threw up in an airline barf bag my husband found for me.

Rather than rush home from the airport to the babies I’d been apart from for three days, I had my husband take me to 24-hour urgent care and get some more serious medicated relief. Two shots in the ass — one for pain and one for nausea. And a muscle relaxant.

Halle – LU – HOO – jah.

Now. I could continue down my well-tread path of self-loathing and beat myself up for what ultimately unfolded as a result of this body-shouting-for-attention incident. But I choose to find peace in knowing that maybe, just maybe — it’s quite good for the whole family.  I believe the angels guiding us all through this life are always whispering messages of support every day and sometimes when a change needs to happen in our lives, the universe is left with throwing us a curve ball so we wake up and hear what they’ve been trying to gently tell us all along.

Having gone 2 nights and 3 days without nursing my Littlest, and unable to nurse when I got home because I was all drugged up — I opted to call it quits with “Mamas Milk.”  No pep talk preparation to ease the transition for her.  Just done.

A day or two of angst from Sweet Iz, begging and crying for “just a tiny bit!  Mama! Mama! Mama!”  And the desire — or at least the request — is fading in intensity and frequency.

I’m sad as I write this. I’ve never done well with endings. But thank God I’m old enough now to know that endings bring beginnings and a change in perspective is as easy as you choose to make it.

I had forgotten the incredible new snuggly chapter that unfolds after you wean!  Oh the hugs! The kisses! And the new ability to spoon with her tiny body at bed time and have her relish my embrace without holding, pulling, pinching or nursing my tired boob.

This week I’ve visited Doctor number 3 about my increasing jaw alignment issue. Thankfully I think surgery can be avoided and I will visit Doctor #4 in December to determine the correct “hinge position” and get set up with something akin to invisalign.

Now. Guess what? Holy Moses. I’m off for a little run.

One day at time.

Posted in AP & Self Care | 3 Comments

On Turning 40

Yes, it happened.  On November 4, I crossed the threshold into a new decade.  The one most often referred to as “over the hill.”

The days leading up to the Big Transition out of the 30s, I admit I was a bit melancholy — not feeling overly excited to be this age. I fell into an old, lame pattern of focusing my mind on where I lack and not where I am blessed. I looked at the gray hairs, the age spots, and the deepening crows feet instead of the twinkle, the smirk, or the wiggling right ear that is as present today as it was twenty years ago.

I started the nasty “should” game. At 40, I should have made more of my life. I should look better. I lamented my 20-something, early 30-something body, wondering if I will ever find the same discipline I used to have with exercise again.

But it’s all silly. I know from experience that anything you set your mind to, can manifest with purpose, intention and action.  I will make exercise a priority in my life again. And I will get that body back. Or something damn close that is feasible after having two children!

I said to my husband a month or so ago that I would love to ring in 40 years with a trip of some kind with our family and a celebration with friends in Austin. And I said that spending money on travel this year was out of the question so maybe we could ring in my 40th year when I’m 42 instead. And I’ll openly confess I said it with a fair amount of boo-hoo-ness in my voice too.

And then BAM. A week before my birthday, a dear, sweet client of my husband was in town from New York with his wife and took us to dinner. Mark is designing a vacation home for them.  They are fabulous people with the priceless character trait of being both interesting and interested and we both really enjoy their company.  I asked when they were coming to Austin again in November and said we’d have to go out for drinks for my birthday.  He said, “When’s your birthday?” I told him it was Thursday, the 4th.

And he said, “Monica, I think you should come to New York for your birthday”. I said it sounded like fun, but wasn’t possible.

His response?

“Monica, I insist. You must come to New York for your 40th birthday!”  And he proceeded to say he’d like to gift us the trip to come stay with them at their apartment on Central Park.


Yes. And after some back and forth on whether this was really feasible, did he really mean it, and what about the girls, could we bring them along…..two days later, we had tickets for the whole family to go to New York City together for three days– departing on the morning of my birthday. We were treated to every meal, to Broadway shows at night, and to a babysitter for our girls for our evenings out who came 2 hours early the first night so we could all get to know her…..

We saw a beautiful staging of “A Little Night Music” with Bernadette Peters on Broadway. God I love her. Fifth row back, in the center of the theater.  She was absolutely amazing.  And when we went out to dinner afterwards, guess who sat down at the table next to us??

Bernadette Peters!!  And she was with Martin Short, my favorite comedian of all time!!

I’m still in a state of shock. And awe. And complete and utter gratitude.

Truly, truly, truly — anything is possible in this life.

So what’s next?  Who do I want to be in my forties?   I will write it as if it is already so……(a lovely little trick for manifestation!)

I am a woman who expresses love to her husband in a way that feeds his body, his soul, and his success.

I am a mother that loves and cherishes my children in a way that builds their self-esteem and ability to think and act wisely for themselves while feeling and expressing compassion for themselves and others.

I am a woman who stands up for what she believes in — even if it makes other people uncomfortable.

I tried this mode of being out last week as a Soccer Mom. I wrote an email to the mothers on the team in response to one that was announcing bringing donut munchkins to the next game.  I said it was important to me to minimize my daughters’ intake of refined sugar and processed foods and that I hoped the parents might come together and agree to bring nutritious snacks for the games — possibly something as simple as orange or apple slices. And holy moly – did I offend. And you know what? I’m OK with it.

I foster the Development of a Zen Family. We embrace daily practices that support our mental, emotional and physical wellness and the well-being of the family unit and day-to-day life together.

Together with my husband, I successfully acquire financial security and experience a deep, peaceful knowing that our future and the futures of our children are well taken care of. The ability to fund the kind of education that we seek for our girls, to travel the world together as a family, to affect positive change in the world with charitable giving, to host weddings and to grow old in comfort. We will do the work, grow the businesses, save as much as we can, and create this reality. Amen!!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Posted in Mama Self Expression | 4 Comments


  • Categories



    Follow Me



    Places to go


Art by Erika Hastings at


    Add us to your site!


Click to get the code!