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Having lived in Florida for many years has given me the opportunity to learn from the lives of those much older than myself.

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We were two hundred and fifty women from around the world. Doctors, teachers, therapists, moms and writers represented just a few of the women I met. The weekend was magical! I attended Spiritual Solutions at the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California. Generally, upon meeting new people, one of the first questions asked is, “What do you do?” Immediately I felt the difference in being amongst all women when the question was not What do you do? It was, “What brought you here?”

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What’s Trending in the Rausin House

  • Me embarrassing my kids with titles like: What’s Trending in the Rausin House.



First, I have to read, THE INVENTION of WINGS, by one of my favorite authors. Sue Monk Kidd


Today, I received this text from Arielle: 16 mile push (translation-she did 16 miles in her racing wheelchair), I have to go to work and then class until 10pm. Have you seen the trailer for THE FAULT IN OUR STARS?
With all that’s on her plate she still had time to check out the trailer? For a book as good as THE FAULT IN OUR STARS…yep. We both loved John Green’s novel.

Keeping with the wing theme. Kai played this song for me yesterday. I like it almost as much as SAME LOVE. I admire Macklemore’s courage in putting his heart into his lyrics. He’s the embodiment of a poster I used to have in my classroom. Stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone.

After going to the dentist and hearing, “Looks like you’ll be able to keep your teeth for the rest of your life. Good job!” I have to admit I was a bit freaked out. All I heard was, “for the rest of your life.” It was enough to get me thinking about my health. I watched, FOOD INC. Be brave! Know what’s in your food. Then maybe one day you too can be told you get to keep your teeth.

Finally, I know I’ve mentioned before that Kai keeps us entertained at dinner with funny YouTube videos. I think it’s his way of distracting us from asking about his grades. Boy, how dinners have changed since Arielle left. Here’s what I had the pleasure of watching the other night. It’s just so wrong.

I didn’t recognize the symbolism of growing an avocado tree at the same time I was beginning my journey of becoming an author. I simply loved avocados. Four years later as I set a new seed on my windowsill at the same time I was stressing over how to market Mystic I realized my avocado trees represented change and growth from within myself. They were my reminder that even though I could envision the giant tree that would fill my yard it wasn’t going to grow overnight. I needed to care for it every day while enjoying each day and know that eventually my seed would be a majestic tree.

Here’s how to grow an avocado tree.

av. seeds from 08 or 09 that grew into trees

This picture was taken the summer of 2008.

First: Plant a seed.

The summer of 2008 I felt such a sense of freedom and of new beginnings. I had decided to switch careers from teaching to writing. I knew it was a risk and I faced scrutiny from others who thought I was simply becoming lazy, or that writing a novel was easy. I knew better. I knew what was right for me. As soon as I devoted time to my craft the ideas flowed. I wrote daily and began taking care of myself as well as my family. I was a better, more present, mom and wife because I was embarking on the right path. I had no idea how we were going to make ends meet without our second income and I had no idea how long it was really going to take me to publish Mystic. I simply let go and trusted that if I followed my heart everything would be okay.

Second: Wait for signs of growth

av tree one root 2008 2009

It takes a month to two months for the seed to sprout. Be sure to give the seed fresh water daily.

There were days when I questioned my decision just as I questioned whether my avocado seed would ever turn into a tree. I started a blog in September 2008. I continued working on Mystic, attending writing conferences and I wrote several picture book drafts. Sue Monk Kidd became my author of choice. I delved into her books as well as Eckert Tolle and sought self discovery. I was growing even though some days the fear of failure was great. I kept on. The joy that was sprouting inside me was a constant reminder to keep going.

Next: Water and nurture.

av. tree roots 2008 2009

I began to see life as a privilege. I learned the importance of gratitude. Every success from having a closer relationship with my family, to listening to others tell me I inspired them through my writing, helped me break through the doubts and fears that still crept in. I was stronger.

Then: Plant your tree and watch it grow.

Av. tree picture from June 2012
June 2012

It took four years to go from the seed on my windowsill to a beautiful tree in my yard. In those years I worked on Mystic. I watched my children progress through school. We explored Barcelona as a family. I reconnected with high school friends on Facebook and met authors and illustrators who shared my passion for writing for children.

Finally: Your tree is growing. Keep nurturing it and remember to see its beauty.

av tree  March 2013

 March 2013

To do anything well it takes time. The magic begins when the seed is planted and the excitement bursts with each new root or branch grown. It’s the days in between that count the most because those are the days that make the others possible. Those are the days you have to believe in yourself. Believe that one day you’ll sit under the shade of your giant avocado tree and know that you added beauty to this wonderous world.

The inspiration for this post came from: Kristen Lamb’s Blog

Every morning I wake a half hour early in order to begin my day in thankfulness. I grab my coffee, climb the stairs to my writing room and sit in my grandmother’s old lazy boy chair facing the window with a view of our canal. In front of me are a collection of books. The Power of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, The Magic by Rhonda Byrne, Manifesting Change by Mike Dooley, Firstlight by Sue Monk Kidd, and The Book of AWESOME by Neil Pasricha. I choose one or two of the books open to a random page and begin reading.

Just like I go to the gym to keep my body strong, I do the same for my mind by reading the inspirational words of others, reminding me of the blessings that every day holds.

Neil Pasricha has done a wonderful job of taking daily life and pointing out the awesomeness in his book, The Book of Awesome. He’s listed examples such as high-fiving babies and popping bubble wrap as those little moments in a day that make us smile.

So, for the next several Sundays in November I’m going to build on Neil Pasricha’s idea. I’m going to write about my thankful moments as a mom.

Magic Moment #1. Riding in the Car With My Kids

From when they were little and Rafi’s lyrics blasted through the speakers to elementary school when Radio Disney ruled, we’ve always enjoyed listening to music in the car. High school brought classics such as I’m Sexy and I Know It to one of my favorites Gangnam Style Jason Mraz’s, Living In the Moment. Last weekend’s college visit brought yet another change. Shocked by the new crooning sounds I asked, “What are we listening to?”

“It’s Frank Sinatra, mom.” 

“Oh… okay.” 

Discussing life while tunes blast through the speakers, sometimes singing sometimes dancing, sometimes lost… we’re together and that’s all that matters.

My mind is intense. I have the ability to focus on something I want and hold onto the focus for years if necessary in order to achieve my goal. My husband and kids will tell you it’s an exhausting trait to live with because often my focus can lead to daily discussions on how I’m reaching my goal or not reaching my goal and going to try harder. Many times Eric has been on the receiving end of my focus and even though he has had the ability to put up a good fight on the other side of the tug-of-war rope I have come out victorious on many occasions. Not all thank goodness, but many. Example, when I met and started dating Eric he was, “never getting married and never having children.” That was a long emotional battle and all I say to him now is, “you’re welcome.” He laughs. After twenty-three years together we have both mellowed and more importantly understand each other much better than we did when we were in our twenties. Yet, every time I mention the topic of something I’ve been focussing on like needing a new camera or wanting to attend a writing workshop he replies, “no kidding?” with dripping sarcasm. I smile.

Focus of mind can be good when it comes to writing habits or exercise but it can be harmful when it turns dark. I remember once as a young adult someone asked me to describe myself and I said, “I feel too much.” What I meant was that I thought about things like people who were homeless, foster children, abused animals, animals being slaughtered, hungry children, thousands of greyhounds being killed, the elderly feeling lonely, and the list goes on. My eyes have been open to the dark side of life for… probably my entire life.

If I am not careful this darkness can overcome me. I can begin to feel helpless to the huge problems of the world. When I was fourteen my grandmother gave me, The New King James version – Possibility Thinkers Edition of the Bible. In it are highlighted all the positive versus. On the first page it reads: When I am faced with a mountain I WILL NOT QUIT! I will keep striving until I climb over, find a pass through, tunnel underneath – or simply stay and turn the mountain into a gold mine, with God’s help!

I have kept this Bible close to me since I was fourteen. Looking back I wonder why she gave it to me. Did it have more to do with her life or what she saw in me? As a mom I’m guessing she was trying to impart on me the power in positive thinking. It’s exactly the same lesson I’ve been trying to teach my children.

Positive thinking lights the dark thoughts that can prevail in my mind. The past five years I have been on a journey to better understand myself and my purpose here for…  if I’m lucky sixty more years. While on that journey I have been reading books by leaders such as Deepak Chopra, Sue Monk Kidd, Rhonda Byrne, Charles Haanel and Eckhart Tolle. One of the greatest lessons I have learned from them is the necessity of gratitude. Gratitude. Being thankful for everything from the house I live in to the chocolate Toblerone bar I eat while sipping my morning coffee.

Feeling gratitude is more than simply making a list of things I’m grateful for. It’s more than every Thanksgiving sitting around a table and reciting, “I’m thankful for my friends and family.” It’s understanding why I’m thankful. Digging deeper in my mind and asking myself why am I thankful for my home or the chocolate or my friends. I have discovered that when I probe deeper I am creating a habit of being thankful. It’s not a rote mantra repeated over and over, it’s an exercise of the mind that strengthens a new way of thinking. A brighter way of thinking. One that leads to possibilities.

In my journey I have discovered that just as I have habits such as drinking coffee every morning I also have habits of the mind. I wake and immediately the to do list begins scrolling in my thoughts. I think about a party I’m invited to and immediately I tense. My mind worries about finding the right words among strangers. These are nothing more than habitual thoughts that create anxiety within me. I’m addicted to them just as I am addicted to caffeine.

The best way I have found to combat those habits of the mind (no way I’m giving up my coffee!) is to create the habit of being thankful first thing in the morning and before bed. Train my mind to recognize the positive. For the past month I have been keeping a thankful journal. I am reading The Magic by Rhonda Byrne and she suggests writing ten things you’re thankful for and why every morning. Some mornings I drag myself to the journal and my mind screams there’s so much to do today… make the list later. It feels a lot like the days I talk myself out of going to the gym. But just as I feel renewed when I have completed spin class – I feel renewed after I’ve written my thankful list. It is –  like … Magic.

Recognizing the dark side of life has created a sense of compassion in me that I am thankful for, however, seeing the negative and feeling helpless to make a difference makes my life useless. Thankfulness brings hope and hope creates change from destructive habits of the mind to new possibilities and solutions. Thankfulness brings a sense of joy that can soothe the heaviness of despair. Thankfulness can make me realize what is truly important in life like a beacon guiding a ship through fog, I focus on the light.

Thankfulness is food for the soul.

Photo by Square Dog Photography.