“Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone”

I must admit that I have watched the TV show, What Not to Wear. I find it interesting how we can be so clueless when it comes to dressing ourselves in a pleasing manner. We just don’t tend to see ourselves in a positive light.

What I like about the show is how Stacy and Clinton are always so positive with their ‘client’. In an episode with a young woman, they pointed out her best attributes and helped her find clothes that fit her unique style. While the woman was skeptical about some of the items chosen, she looked fabulous in them. I watched the whole show and at the very end, Stacy quotes Neale Donald Walsch by telling the young woman, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Who says you can’t get inspiration from a reality show?

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I was so impressed by this quote, that before the show was over, I was writing it down. How often do we stay in our comfort zone because we are afraid to take that next step? We stay where it is safe, warm and comfortable only to realize at the end of our lives that we have missed so much.

I have been staying in my comfort zone and not willing to push through my fears. I do realize that life is passing me by and I am missing it. I have been afraid to take that ultimate step to put myself out there. When we step beyond our comfort zone, even a little bit, the world will open up in ways that we never dreamed possible. I know this, but I still find it a little difficult. Why?

Why? I ask myself this question often. Then I realized that the question is not ‘why’, but ‘what’. What is holding me back and keeping me bound in my comfort zone? The answer is my mind. It is my mind that fuels my fears. My heart is fearless when I open up to all possibilities and to live BIG. My mind keeps me in my comfort zone as my heart pulls me out of it. It is time to break free, push through the barrier, and follow my heart into an exciting, new world. All it takes is the smallest step such as wearing something different or taking a dance class. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I am ready to discover what the world has in store for me. Are you?

Live! Love! Laugh!


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Rain on the 4th of July

IMG_3586It is raining and I love the rain! It is the 4th of July and in this country, it is one of celebration for our freedom and independence. Many lives over the centuries have been sacrificed for what we have today and for that, I am truly grateful. Yet, the only life I think of on this day is my Dad. Six years ago, he died on the 4th of July. Then I think of all the other loved ones I have lost over the years.

I struggle with where I am at and where I want to be in my life. I seem to have difficulty letting go of the past in many ways. It isn’t just about letting go of the loved ones who have departed, but letting go of the people I have loved in my life who have disappeared, but are still alive.

Letting go. This seems to be the theme of my thoughts lately. Letting go and trusting. This sounds a lot easier than doing it. Letting go and waking up to a new life filled with hope, optimism, adventure, love and abundance. There certainly is an abundance of rain today! While I sit here listening to the rain, contemplating my life, I know that there are may celebrations that will be washed out today and many people disappointed and/or angry because of the rain.

Ventura, CAI realize it is how we look at the rain is the way we look at our lives. We can be grateful for what we have or we can curse the day we were born. It really is  up to us what we think and how we let our thoughts affect our emotions. So I have decided, while listening to the rain is evoking sad thoughts, I choose to be grateful for the rain. The rain is nourishing the earth, watering the trees, grass and flowers so I don’t have to. It is filling our lakes and rivers with water to drink and to cleanse ourselves as well as all the birds and animals. The sound of the rain is soothing to my soul and reminding me of times as a child I played in the warm, summer rain. What fun!

So here is to all who are celebrating this 4th of July in 2013. May your day be as bright and sunny as your thoughts!

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What Now? Standing at the Crossroads

What Now?

You can find your life, your passion, in the oddest of places and at the weirdest of times. It just seems to happen around a defining moment. When that happens, you do find yourself at the crossroads wondering, What Now?

You really do have a choice as to which direction you take. You could go back the way you came and live the life you are comfortable with, but it may not make you happy or fulfilled. You could go forward with trepidation, yet excited of the unknown. You could go to your right or to your left. Perhaps in those directions there is some security and changes you make are a little easier. Or you could just walk around in circles never finding that way out.

The main thing to remember is that you do have a choice. 

My choice was to move forward and leave my old life behind. It has not been easy. There were days I lack the courage to put one foot in front of the other. In my heart, I know that this is the road I want to be on. I love where I came from. I love the life I once had, but I know that I have a wonderful life right now and one just ahead of me. I had a number of defining moments in the past few years from losing my job to the death of my husband. While both were devastating in their own right, I also found it freeing. I must admit while I stood at the crossroads wondering, What Now?, I wore down the earth making circles of my own. The circles were ones of grief, uncertainty, doubt and fear. With help from family, friends and a life coach, I was able to lift up my head toward the sun and move forward. You can too. Just decide. Finding a good life coach can help you along the way. 

As you stand at the crossroads, the choice is yours and yours alone. What direction do you choose?

Live, Love, Laugh!

Gretchen Marie

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I See You. In You, I See Me

We all want to be recognized, to be seen, to be heard. How often do we see and are blind or hear and are deaf to one another?  

In the movie, Avatar, they greet each other by saying, “I See you.”  It meant, not only do I physically see you, but I see your heart, your mind, the very essence of who you are. I acknowledge you and you matter. 

Do you know that You do matter?  You are important to the world. Without your uniqueness, passions, and love, the world would be no more. It would dry up, wither and die. You have value and I have value. We are all connected to each other, to the earth, to our Source ever so intimately. When you are in pain, I feel it. When you laugh, I share your joy. You are the twinkle in the eye of the universe. You are so loved and protected. 

No one can take away from who you are, but you can, willingly or unwillingly, give it away.  

 Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you took one moment, just one simple moment to look someone in the eye and say, “You are loved. You are wonderful. You are unique and your talents light up the world. You matter.” Just one moment. Now imagine a world of people doing this every moment of every day. What a fantastic world this would be! 

“This is too hard,” you say. No, it isn’t. Just start with yourself. Look yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you. I am unique and lovable. I matter.” Then tell your spouse, your kids, your family, your friends. It will be like the wave on the ocean, going out and coming back, touching everything and everyone. 

Even if you simply said, “I See you. And in you, I see Me.”

Live, Laugh, Love!

Gretchen Marie

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Word Power

Words are powerful. Words lead to thoughts. Thoughts lead to beliefs. Beliefs are the way you live your life. To live a happier life, deliberately choose your words to create your thoughts to change your beliefs. – Gretchen Marie

I have a mentor who is from another country and English is not her first language. This mentor has stressed to me many times to watch my words. She looks up every word in the dictionary before she uses it to find and understand the meaning behind the word. Because of her guidance, I find myself checking the meaning of my words and how I use them. My mentor listens to what I say and tells me to question my words. I told her, “I’ll try.” She tells me to throw out the word ‘try’. 

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try. – Yoda, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Trying puts you in a state of non-action. You can do something or not do something, but have you noticed once you say you will try, it really goes no where. You let it go. Such is the power of a single word. 

Now take words and string them into a thought. Once you formulate a thought and start to focus on that thought, how long do you think it becomes a belief? Perhaps not as long as you may think. That belief vibrates throughout your very being. Does this belief serve you in anyway? Is it harmful or helpful to your life? What is your belief about the world around you? Is it a good place or is it a bad place? Do you even know what thoughts lead you to that belief? Maybe not, but the power of well chosen words can change your thoughts. Your new thoughts will become new beliefs.  

If you choose the word gratitude, you may think about all you have, the people you know and your uniqueness. You begin to express gratitude for it all.  These focused thoughts of gratitude lead to the belief that your life is good. Guess what, your life is now good! 

Watch your words! Deliberately changing your words to create positive thoughts leads to a new belief that will change your life. It is really that simple and that powerful!

Choose your words wisely, madame, for they may be your last.  – Queen Marie, EverAfter

What words will you choose to live the life you desire?

Live, Love, Laugh!

Gretchen Marie

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Courage of a Daffodil

As I sit here wondering what words of wisdom will spill forth, I am listening to the rain.  I love listening to the rain even if it is gray and gloomy, it fills my heart with peace. Have you ever listened closely to the sounds the rain makes?  The sound of the rain hitting the roof is different than when it is hitting the trees or ground. If I listen to the song the rain weaves, I am reminded of the the waves of the ocean kissing the beach.  

We have had an abundance of rain this winter. Snow has been elusive in our area, but the rain has been plentiful. Between the rain and warm weather, my crocus and daffodils are blooming. I am always concerned when they bloom early, because they could be hit by a sudden cold snap and freeze. But this year, it doesn’t FEEL that way to me.  

I have daffodils all over my yard. They grow and bloom at their own pace. Because of this, my daffodils last a long time as one area of my yard blooms, another area is spent. Right now I am relating to the daffodils. The few in my front yard that have the courage to bloom early are heralding all those who will come after them. They are the beacon, the beginning of the many, many flowers to follow. It is interesting that a daffodil has more courage than me. It allows itself to just be, beautiful, fragrant and timely. It shows up and puts forth all that it is just because it can. Sometimes I felt like the emerging daffodil that blooms in Spring. Spring, the wondrous time of year when all comes forth fresh, new and alive!  

In Maxine Hargreaves’ blog, she speaks of letting go. I know that in order for the daffodils to bloom, they need to let go of what they were in the past, re-create themselves so they can push anew upward and out. All life makes a fresh start over and over again.  

The point, it was time to let go of limiting beliefs.  I see my future self shining with love, joy, well-being and abundance. But my present self was stuck as what to do to get to my future self. What junk I fed my mind with! It is easier for a daffodil to bloom than it is for us to let go of some old beliefs and move forward. What did it take?  

It took realizing where I was stuck and deciding that I wanted something different. We must change what is inside ourselves first, let it go and then we can bloom into what we want to be. Just as it takes a process and time for the daffodil to develop, grow and bloom, it started by just deciding to.   

I have decided to change and grow.  I am in the process of enjoying a whole new world! What more can I say?

Live, Love, Laugh!


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I am the Universe

Our true self is expressed in the ancient Sanskrit sutra aham brahmasmi (pronounced ah-HUM brah-MAHS-mee), which means “I am the universe.” When we can accept that we are the universe, we can transcend any limiting belief and any emotional turbulence.  (Chopra Center) 

Milky Way - ScenicReflections.com

After reading Linda Armstrong’s blog on meditation , I realized that I, too, have been taking a meditation journey. 

I am taking another 21 Day Meditation Challenge Mind-Body Odyssey through the Chopra Center as well as Christy Whitman’s 40 day Abundance meditation course. Interestingly both meditations seem to be in sync with one another and very timely in my life. 

I wake up each morning with gratitude in my heart for being alive another day, but then my mind starts to kick in. What am I going to do with the rest of my life? What do I want to do?  The meditations are all around abundance yet my mind screams lack! Mostly lack of money as I work toward figuring out how I will earn an income to not only sustain me, but to really live my life for the next 100 years. I know I will be very, very, very old when I decide to leave this earth. Since I only have me to rely on, at least for the moment, I keep wondering and wandering in the different directions to take my life.  I am totally free. This concept is, for me, hard to grasp. I have always been someone’s daughter, sister, wife or mother. To realize that I have the power and freedom to be whatever I want, I find viewing all the choices can be overwhelming at times for me. My intention with meditation is to find the direction and focus I seek. But I must admit, I am still getting the hang of it. Too many times I just can’t seem to shut my head up! 

It doesn’t stop me though. Each day after I wake up, I spend an hour or so with the Abundance meditation, writing and reflecting. Than each night before I go to sleep, I listen to the 21 day meditation challenge. These times are fast becoming my favorite parts of the day. I am grateful to have the time and freedom to do this. 

What I have I learned so far? I have learned that I am the universe. I have learned that the power comes from the Spirit within me, my unlimited Source of abundance. I have learned that I need to be aware of the flow of the Creative Energy. I have learned that abundance is not only about money. Abundance is about everything, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the love we share. It is about the trees, the mountains, the wildlife. It is about the grains of sand that make up the beach, the water droplets that create the oceans as well as the stars that light up the night sky.  Abundance is everywhere around us and within us. 

All the time, money, energy and love, I need to live a beautiful, meaningful, abundant and happy life is continuously flowing to me, through me and around me.  (excerpt from Christy Whitman – Declaration of Abundance)  

My heart knows all this to be true without a doubt, but does my mind believe? To be honest, no, not completely. My mind is forever questioning, searching and holding onto useless, limiting beliefs. In Linda’s blog, she was given the advice to “Relax and let it in.”  I think there is more to it. I need to relax and let it go, before I can relax and let it in.  Meditation does take practice and time. I just need to simply remember: 

aham brahmasmi – I am the Universe

Live, Love, Laugh!


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Clearing the Cobwebs of My Mind – 3 Years in the Making

I will be doing spring cleaning this year, not only my house and yard, but my head as well. I have a lot of cobwebs and debris up there. It has been 3 years since my husband died. I think this past year has been the hardest of all for me.  That first year when the grief was new, I could put it at bay by keeping busy.  The second year, it really set in that he was gone especially around the holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. I was still keeping busy, but my focus was finding myself. This past year, I think I found myself, but the new challenge is what do I do with the rest of my life. The support system I thought I had with Howard, is completely gone and I really feel that now. Making it on my own has been tough with some wonderful days sprinkled in here and there. 


Cobwebs - Supplied by FreeFoto.com

So now another spring is around the corner and I need to clear the cobwebs from my mind. The cobwebs that keep me bound to the shadows that once were Howard. I am still holding on to his tools, supplies and other stuff he collected. I have realized that I can’t seem to let them go. My mind senses the silliness of all this clutter, my heart knows what I am clinging to. 

 I am clinging to a belief that I am still responsible for taking care of the family. I was the bread winner for most of our married life. I was expected to not only bring home the money, but take care of everyone as well. I have always been this way. I seem to have been born responsible and it just grew as I did. Shaking this belief, removing the sticky cobwebs, clearing the debris this has left behind is the one of the most difficult things I know I must do in order to move forward. The other is showing up completely.  

I have hidden myself among the cobwebs and clutter.  I have done an excellent job of it these past 50 years or so. I didn’t want people to know that I was flawed, vulnerable or afraid. If you didn’t know the real me, than you couldn’t judge me. But I learned that hiding, being in another’s shadow, fading into the background is not living. It is existing. Letting others take the stage while I worked behind the scenes was easy to do. After while, I no longer existed. When I tried to speak up for myself or wanted to share my thoughts and feelings, I felt ignored and not heard. I never felt good enough or deserving of a better life.  And that has been my story, up until now. 

I knew from a very young age, I am responsible for my own actions, my own life. Not showing up fully, has been a choice I made over and over again. It was easier to hide. 

 I cried a lot. Not only for the loss I felt, but for the fear of showing up. I have been afraid to be the powerful person I know I am. I have been afraid that what I have to offer, no one really wants or cares. I have been attaching all these fears to the cobwebs of my mind and they just stuck there. Here it comes again, Spring. A time of renewal, rebirth, shedding the old and celebrating the new. This is my year. I have decided. To clear the mind of fears and cobwebs and let the sun shine from my heart. To be responsible for me. To show up fully and completely. I have said this before, now it is time for action. I am only 58 and I know I will be living well past 100.

As my father once told me when I turned 40 and was freaking out, because I felt I hadn’t accomplished anything in my life up to that point. He said, “It’s not what you didn’t do the last 40 years, it’s, What are you going to do in the next 40 years?”

I can’t do squat, if I don’t walk through my fears and put myself out there. 

I found what was holding me back. What is holding you back from being the wonderful person you really are?

Live, Love, Laugh!


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What is it like to be a Child?

What is it like to be a child?  

There are days when I struggle to remember my childhood. Those days seem so elusive to me. 

I grew up as the middle child of 7 and the oldest girl. As far as I know, I am the only one my father named. It was his desire to have a girl named Gretchen. After 3 boys, here I came and was given a name that for most of my young life I was embarrassed to tell anyone. I grew up in a small rural very Catholic town.  There were many girls named Mary, Barbra, Cathy or Ann.  But no other Gretchen. I think I was OK when we lived there, since we all grew up together, but once we moved it was different. The first time I came across another Gretchen I was in college and she was a German shepherd.  

In a way, I have to laugh. While I am not embarrassed by my name now, I still feel bit uncomfortable telling people who I am. As a child and an adult, you tend to want to fit in with the crowd. To feel that you belong or at least are accepted by the group. Your name can be seen as something common, beautiful or unique. But it is only a name after all. It is not who you are. 

What is it like to be a child? 

I know childhood in the year 2012 is far different than being a child in the 1950’s. Children today are bombarded by all kinds of technology, media, choices and pressures, I never faced growing up. Too often we expect, even demand a child to be someone other than who they are. I wonder are we raising mini-adults like they did in the Middle Ages instead of letting a child be a child? Does a child even now how to be a child anymore? Are we more like children as adults than children are as children? Sometimes, I wonder.

What is it like to be a child? 

A child is free to express themselves in any manner that strikes their fancy. Their imaginations are colorful and run wild. They look at the world with wide eyed wonder. Everything is new and fresh. Children explore their surroundings and observe the people in their space. The best I can tell, children do not judge. It just is. They laugh, sing and run just because they feel like it. The words that come out of their mouths sometimes make us laugh, but they tend to be words of wisdom. How wonderful is that! 

What is it like to be a child? 

Simple, free, joyful, curious, observant, wonderful, wise. 

Time to free the child in children and let them soar!

Live, Love, Laugh!


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I Am Blind

I recently watched a short video that really hit me hard. I have always known that the words we say or don’t say can be healing or harming, loving or mean, neutral or inspiring, but I never realized how powerful they are when you just use different words to say the same thing. 

In the video (see below), a blind man asks for help using a sign that indicates to everyone he is blind. Many walk by, but few actually ‘see’ him and his blight. Until one caring woman changes the words on the sign. Suddenly, he is now ‘seen’ and many offer their assistance by tossing him coins. What made the difference?  He is the same blind man sitting on a flattened, cardboard box asking for monetary help. They are the same people who have passed him day after day, but suddenly they notice him. Why? The words on his sign had changed. The sign still indicated that he was blind, but it was worded differently.

How often do we go through our day and not ‘see’ the words we speak to each other. What if we took a moment and changed our words to say the same thing, but in a kinder, gentler and inspiring way? Can you imagine the hearts that would open and shine? I can.

Life is short and every day seems to speed by faster than the day before. Yet, there is still an eternity to make a difference. Think about changing the words, “I am blind. Please help” to “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.”

You have the power within you to heal and inspire.  Use it.


Live! Love! Laugh!


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