Friday, November 25, 2016


The Mindful Life Project, a great name for a small start-up non-profit founded by JG Larochette, a 3rd -grade teacher in Richmond, CA.

Salute e Vita, a restaurant in Richmond, run by Menbere Akilu, an immigrant from Ethiopia.

What do these two have in common?

We spent last Friday night at an event for the Mindful Life Project, and had a delicious dinner beforehand at Salute e Vita.

But that is not what these two have in common.

The commitment to do good in the world and to give back runs through both JG Larochette and Menbere Akilu.

On Thanksgiving, Ms. Akilu opens her restaurant to serve a Thanksgiving meal for those in need. She also offers a special Mother's Day lunch to mothers-in-need as well. She works through out the year to help others. An Ethiopian, she came to the U.S. from Italy. Her first job was as a server at the restaurant she now owns. She is gracious and beautiful in spirit -- a prime example of what makes America great.

JG Larochette developed the Mindful Life Project after realizing that his community, Richmond, needed better resources to turn kids from patterns of defiance and negativity in the classroom. His program teaches mindfulness, yoga, expressive and performing arts. His program works.

Along with the Writer Coach Connection and Wardrobe for Opportunity, and many other small organizations in the East Bay, these projects, run by people who saw a need and filled it, need our support.

Some of us feel comfortable jumping in to teach hip-hop, or to work with young people on their writing skills, or helping to dress men-in-need to enter the work force. Some of us don't. That's okay, as long as we recognize the need is there and support efforts like these organizations in any way we can.

What is your best way to give back?
Do you have organizations that you support that have proven results?

Check out the websites for these organizations. Maybe these are places for your help.

Mindful Life Project:

Salute e Vita:

Writer Coach Connection:

Wardrobe for Opportunity:


Don't forgot to send me your stories about someone who has been an influence on your life to 

Friday, November 18, 2016


I'm sharing the following story written by one of our nieces and posted on Instagram. She is why I believe that our future will be in capable hands.

"Several words can sum up my feelings the last two days. Devastated. Stunned. Angry. Heartbroken. Humbled by the realization that half of the U.S. stands behind someone that is so fundamentally wrong as a human being. But today I woke up feeling a little brighter. I have been fortunate enough to grow up around people that were always encouraging me to break the glass ceiling. To follow my dreams and stand up for what I believe in. To pursue a career that is dominated by men because it's what I love to do and I don't care if I have to work harder to be respected. To get back up when I've been knocked down. So this is me, getting back up. Because there is no way a man like Trump and the people that supported him are going to keep me down. Right now, I'm going to focus on people like my amazing father, who encourages me everyday to keep fighting. And understands when a gal just needs to eat a donut. Today I am going to get back up and eat a damn donut. #imstillwithher "


Ashley Heidenreich is a practicing engineer who designs skyscrapers for a company in a metropolitan area. She was the only woman in her 2007 college graduating class in engineering.



For the next month, I am asking for your help. 
I will be publishing your stories:
1) about people who have been an encouraging influence in your life, and 
2) about women from a different era (maybe your mother, aunt, grandmother) 
who lived differently than you do now.

 Help me showcase as many stories as I can. 
Sit down and write a story right now. 
Send me your stories to

Thank you
 and may your next week be filled with gratitude for what you have.

Friday, November 11, 2016


The sun did come up on Wednesday.

I watched as my watercolor teacher painted a derelict shack. She said, "This is hard," something she always says when she paints. I said back to her, "Especially today. I couldn't sleep last night." My friend next to me nodded in agreement, then the rest of the class chimed in with the same news. Some were full of hope; most of us felt shock from the previous night. I thought in our tiredness, how none of us raised voices, how we let our vulnerability show. We came together, whichever side we put ourselves on, and offered tentative healing words. One man in his 80s said, "I've seen worse."

I looked at the painting that slowly progressed across our instructor's paper and remembered the image that Katie, one of my nieces, posted on her blog. Katie put up a simple diagram that moved with the rhythm of breathing. That was all she posted. It was a good reminder to stop a moment and breathe.

Check out Katie Martin's website at for moments of inspiration.

Today is a day for remembrance of those people we sent off to war and who did not come back. Today is a good day to go to a quiet place to remember them.

Friday, November 4, 2016


 I got mad at my husband the other day. He knocked over a coffee cup, which broke. It was just a coffee cup. It was also a cup I had purchased on a trip to Austria when we were living in Paris. I was incensed by his carelessness and sad that one more memory was gone.

This morning as I was cleaning out the dishwasher in a rush, I picked up two plates at the same time with one hand. One of them slipped and broke on the floor. I remembered my anger at my husband and looked at the pieces of pottery on the floor. I thought to myself, "Am I as angry with myself as I was with Bill? Was I being fair to him the other day?" The plate that I dropped was part of a set from Hagi in Japan that I bought while we were living in Tokyo. Hagi is a pottery town. Its pottery is prized by tea masters because the milky white glaze absorbs some of the moisture from the tea and gradually changes color.

This isn't the first time a plate from Japan or Europe has crashed to the floor. Our history of living overseas is slipping through our fingers. On our return home as I was unpacking boxes, I came across several carefully packed pieces that had broken in transit even before we were home.

I purchased this bowl at a pottery fair near Mashiko, a Japanese pottery town

At first I tried to repair the pottery myself. The cracks were obvious or the pieces didn't stay together. Then I found someone who repaired broken ceramics. She eventually stopped doing this practice because of the toxic substances she had to use to glue the pieces together. I have since just collected the broken pieces. I dream of a mosaic wall of them, but I've never found the time or inclination to really pursue the project.

Repaired plate by an expert

I think of the Japanese way. Because of their belief in wabi sabi, they appreciate brokenness. They often repair a broken item with resin and powdered gold lacquer. They call this Kintsugi, another thoughtful Japanese practice to lessen life's mistakes and accidents.

 The art of Kintsugi 

The cup without its handle now holds some lemons by the window waiting to ripen. The Hagi plate is in pieces still. I may try Kintsugi to make them whole again or they may end up on the stack of shards out on our deck. Wabi Sabi. That's the way life goes.

Check out this website to find out more about Japanese pottery towns.