I wrote this article a couple of years ago, and while I don’t often “re-write” articles, this one, to me, is more of a practice–a reminder of the blessings in my life.  They have shifted and grown, so I will allow my sharing to grow as well.

If you care to read, please take a moment to quiet your thoughts, and allow your heart to open to the gifts that are yours, right in this very moment…

Happy Thanksgiving.  

I’m blessed to live in a state where a three-hour mountain ride on my road bike is possible at the very end of November. So today, Thanksgiving, as my way of “giving thanks,” I donned my cool weather (even though it was close to 70 degrees) riding gear and headed out into the peaceful hills to breathe it all in.

I had my kids a few hours longer than anticipated last night, so just soaked them up, playing games, doing puzzles, coloring, snuggling, cooking, eating. And I’ll have them again on Friday for our Thanksgiving.

I thought that I might feel a little “whoa is me” being solo today, but I’ve been struck by how filled my heart is—especially as I road—with the amazing blessings in my life. Of course my brain goes to the psychobiological—“well, I’m stimulating the release of positive neurochemicals through exercise so of course I’m feeling good!” But there’s more to it than that today.

Maybe because of the work I do, or certain shifts I’ve felt as of late, but I’m often reminded that the pain I’ve suffered throughout my life, while sometimes overwhelming to me, does not compare to what so many endure. The things that people can do to people, and the burdens that humans must bear… the trauma and tragedy, the abuse, the betrayals, the life and death events that break hearts and tear families apart, the unresolved hurts… And what I see, consistently, is that the human spirit is not only resilient—we want to feel joy and so we choose to. Not always, and not everyone. But feeling joy beyond our particular suffering is a choice before us that motivates bravery beyond measure. And when I witness those who’ve suffered so much choosing to continue to open their hearts to love and to joy, risking what is most vulnerable, I am humbled and changed.

And without really trying to today, I kept thinking of the things I’m most grateful for. My “top 10” – not necessarily in any order.

I’d like to see your list too, if you’re motivated to share.

10 Blessings for which I’m incredibly Grateful


#1 My children. Beyond anything in this world, they are my greatest teachers, my most powerful motivation, the wellspring of my love. They have grown me into the mother I am and they are the center of my heart, my most profound joy. I am currently struck by their emotional intelligence. Their ability to open their own hearts, to cultivate empathy, and to love—just purely LOVE, is so humbling. Deep gratitude to this life for the blessing of my children.


#2 About three and a half years ago, I met an amazing man who, with humility, integrity, willingness, and love, has taught me to slow down and has connected with me in a way I’ve longed for my entire life. He reflects my gifts, challenges my mind and body, inspires my deepest respect, and my most playful presence. He “meets me” in the unique design of my heart’s longing and I have changed through receiving his love. I am blessed to be fully sharing my life.   To practice the skills I’ve cultivated over the past decade in an intimate and loving relationship, where they are welcomed and where I feel cherished, is… well, amazing. I am so grateful.


#3 My family. We’re Greek and messy and dramatic at times. We’re quirky and strange in our own way. We exhaust one another. My parents taught me early on how to work really hard and they taught me that family is family and we stick together. They taught me that sometimes, no matter how tired we are, we just do what needs to be done for one another. They taught me to cherish our time together, to celebrate and dance, to be passionate, to tend to one another well, and to love big. I am so grateful for my family.


#4 My work with my clients, I’ve found, is often as transformative for me as it is for them. I am humbled and honored that people choose to open their lives to me, and to trust me with their hearts, their questions, their shame and hurt, their anger. The work that I do is an incredible gift to my life. The community and team of people—Noeticus Counseling Center—with whom I work is like a cocoon for our collective personal and professional development, and provides me with the foundation for my work as a therapist. So thankful!


#5 My closest friends are the people who meet me in the stability and the chaos, holding my hands through our shared journeys. They are the ones who grab ahold when I don’t have the strength and the ones who pull me back with loving arms to challenge my objectivity. They are the ones who see and love all of me, and allow me to witness the wildness, the grit, and the suffering of their hearts.  They allow me to help hold them with gentlenss, especially when they forget to be gentle with themselves. I am forever grateful to these women who have stepped into the fire with me!


#6 My deepest hurts are blessings that have strengthened my tolerance, broadened my perspective, and challenged every edge of my heart. Engaging with the brokenness has taught me that there is a deep wisdom in pain, when we pay attention, when we stay present. When we can allow ourselves to feel, we are opened to fully engage with life. When we stretch to feel the pain, we are also strengthening our hearts capacity for love, for play, and for intimacy. My deepest hurts are gifts for which I will be forever grateful.


#7 I have cultivated a variety of physical practices over the years, with the influence of friends and mentors, and I am so thankful! Last week I danced, I climbed, I ran, I skied, I strength-trained, (and I also did these wild leg-blaster workouts that leave me crazy shaky and happy!) and this week I hope to ride… challenging my body has strengthened my mind, and I am grateful for the ability and motivation to push myself beyond comfort.


#8 My education—both my formal education and life education, and the integration of learning and practices that have changed my visceral experience of living in the world. My education is a privilege, and something I do not take for granted. I am grateful for the opportunities, the support, and the motivation to embed the practices that change who I am and how I impact others.  I am thankful for mentors, for their work and legacy that I now have the opportunity to hold and share.


#9 My health has allowed me so much opportunity. It has allowed me to learn to trust my body, to track the very sensation that informs me of what needs tending to, to deepen into complete present-centered relationship with me. My health is never a given. It is both something I do my best to manage well and it is a gift for which I am wholly grateful.


#10 Neuroplasticity! So thankful that the “emotional wiring” I had for the first half of my life will not be the same wiring that I have at the end of my life! My brain—everyone’s brain—is plastic! We can completely rewire how we exist in relationship to others, how we respond to life, to love, to everything that comes our way. I am so thankful for the way that my brain and body work together to create the life that I envision.

There are so many gifts in each of our lives. I hope that you are struck today, and every day, with the unique gifts that have been offered to you. Please take them in and share them with all of us!

I ran across the following and sadly, I do not know who wrote it.  I’d like to give credit so please, if you know the author, let me know.  It speaks to my heart though…  maybe it will speak to yours as well.

“Having loved enough and lost enough, I’m no longer searching… just opening, no longer trying to make sense of pain but trying to be a soft and sturdy home in which real things can land. These are the irritations that rub into a pearl. So we can talk for a while but then we must listen, the way rocks listen to the sea. And we can churn at all that goes wrong but then we must lay all distractions down and water every living seed. And yes, on nights like tonight I too feel alone. But seldom do I face it squarely enough to see that it’s a door into the endless breath that has no breather, into the surf that human shells call God.” (Author unknown)

For the Love of Your Life!



Paleo Power Truffles

Here we go with my little food fling, once again…  Into the land of Paleo.  I feel as if I must continue to claim my anti-absolutist stance when it comes to these foods and I’m really not sure why–I’m pretty sure it has something to do with my ego and my resistance to drinking anyone else’s Kool-aid!

These are just plain yummy, and a great source of energy to boot!  I came up with the idea because I saw something similar on the  Justin’s website, using peanut butter, sans the paleo crunch, and my mind started spinning.  Here’s what I came up with:

Paleo Power Truffles


2 Cups Almond Butter, crunchy or creamy (my intent was to use Justin’s  but I wasn’t willing to spend the $11, compared to the $6.99 Whole Foods brand!)

1/3 Cup Grade A Maple Syrup

¼ Cup Coconut Flour

½ Teaspoon Sea Salt

2/3 Cup Paleo Crunch, chopped (plus a small amount to sprinkle on top).
(I chopped this kind of course in a small hand chopper)

1 Box Chocolove Dark Chocolate Chips



  • In a large bowl, combine almond butter, syrup, coconut flour, and sea salt.  Mix well.
  • Add Paleo Crunch and stir until well combined.
  • Form into bite-sized balls, place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, and refrigerate.
  • In a double boiler, melt chocolate on low-medium heat, stirring frequently.


  • Dip each almond butter ball into the chocolate and place back onto the parchment.
  • Sprinkle the remainder of paleo crunch on top.
  • Freeze the balls for about 20 minutes or until chocolate is set.


  • Enjoy!  (yields about 24 balls)
  • Keep refrigerated

My kids were devouring these and I didn’t even have to feel bad.  No refined sugar, no weird additives…  just good, nutritious, whole food!  (Okay, a little sugar in the chocolate, but not much and….  well, it is dark chocolate!)

I’d love to hear your feedback!

For the Love of Your Life!


Co-Parenting with Ex’s… and Their New Partners

Like so many people I know, my tolerance for emotional distress has been stretched to maximum capacity a number of times throughout my life. And honestly–I’m so grateful… There’s this one specific piece that has pushed my edges more than anything else. …Wait, let me put that another way—that feels like a sledgehammer in the center of my heart, and it has demanded that I stretch further than I thought possible.

And the idea is this: ….That I am going to have to share my children with another mother.


Having had a few years to really consider the possibility of “another woman” in the lives of my children, I’ve had some time to FEEL a lot. And I think the potential of someone else in a “mothering” role, in their lives, is one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever experienced.

me-lillyFrom the moment that my son was born, and then as powerfully as that first moment, when my daughter entered the world four years later, my heart exploded wide open. My entire identity became something completely new—I was an altered human being. In fact, it seemed as if the world became a different place, as soon as they each took their first breaths. There are those rare times in life that our identities and perceptions alter so dramatically. Becoming a mother is the most profound shift I have personally ever experienced. I’m guessing many of you can relate.

I know that my children can never really know how much I love them. At least until they are parents themselves. And I have to trust that my love—which is sourced from a place that is so much bigger than me—is going to hold them …through these transitions, through all of the things that I fear may damage them, due to me or to someone else.

So I remind myself that I’m not going to do it perfectly—that there really is no right or wrong, that I need to do it “well enough,” and hold them to the best of my ability throughout the journey. And that the love that surrounds us, that is going to be the foundation for how they resource their own sense of safety and being-ness in the world, is more powerful than anything.

Obviously we cannot control who our ex partners choose to support the rest of their hearts journeys, and who all will be influencing our children. We cannot have any control over how those people interact and influence these little people who inhabit almost the entirety of our hearts… Unless, of course, we are open to some dialogue, and unless we are both respecting and honoring the strength and the possibility of different perspectives, and unless we are willing to stretch ourselves. And those things are my intention and hope.

We also have to trust who our children are, and their capacity and need Nathaniel-Lillyfor feeling loved from multiple sources, and for ultimately designing their own paths as they take nourishment from the strength and support around them. We need to help our children feel a sense of community… And I believe there is huge opportunity for us, and them, in accepting the community we have, including our ex partners new partners. Because really what is the alternative?

By developing positive relationships with one another—and I’m talking authentic connection, because each one of us knows the discomfort of un-owned resentment, and our children, especially, feel when we are out of integrity—we provide safety for our children to trust, to cultivate closeness, to love and receive love, and to learn to depend on their family—their entire family—to support them.

Our kids look to us for cues in who and how to trust, and their hearts are soothed when they see us doing the work to stretch ourselves into new, supportive and authentic relationships.

Some might balk at the idea of my developing a positive co-parenting relationship a partner of my ex-husband. But let’s really look at this. If she’s in love with the man that I loved for so many years, chances are we have some things in common.

My ex-husband is holding and managing half of my children’s lives in his hands and heart, and if he chooses a woman as worthy of both his heart, as well as theirs, it is my work to open my heart as well. A woman who is willing to be a positive, loving force in the lives of my children deserves my appreciation and respect, and if she opens her heart to them, I want to support that with everything in me, because they will feel the nourishment of her love. And do you wonder if that hurts or scares me? You’re damn right it does. And it is the practice of parenting to continue to consciously stretch into all that our children need and that can serve them.

N-L2These two little people are the number one most important thing in my world. Their happiness and capacity to thrive is worth every ounce of me stretching into a better version of myself. And no matter what I have to do to authentically show up and support healthy relationships in their lives, they are worth it.

We can handle so much more than we imagine, as can our children, and even more so if each of us can understand the fabric that weaves the complexity of emotions around and between us. When we’re honest with our kids, sharing honestly what’s happening in our lives in a way that they can understand, it settles them. They feel our congruence with our inner truth.

And when they see us doing the work to cultivate resiliency and to stretch into life, rather than close ourselves off from it, they begin to embody that same strength. And what better gift can we give?

I’ve seen a beautiful quote a number of times that goes like this: “The best gift a man can give his children is to love their mother.” ~ Anonymous

I’ve always loved that.

I wonder… for the divorced family, the best gift of each parent might be to truly honor and appreciate our ex-partner, and his or her new partner!

For the Love of Your Life!me-kids





Greek Dolmades

I LOVE having my kids in the kitchen with me.  It doesn’t always happen,dolmades3 but when I can cook things that are fun and engaging, that get them involved, the time we share is priceless.  That’s when conversation flows easily, when we share stories and work together.  These are the moments that remind me of my best growing up memories in my Mom’s kitchen.  And they’re the moments that remind me of who I want to be as a Mom, and what I want to give to my kids.

One of our favorite recipes is for homemade Dolmades–most people have heard of “Dolmas” but I grew up with Dolmades, the Greek version.  Dolmas, traditionally, are rice wrapped in grape leaves, with a light lemony sauce.  Dolmades are similar but with meat inside as well.  And the great thing about this recipe is it’s a fun way to get kids involved in helping with dinner!

Here is my recipe–a little different than what my Mom and Dad have done, and adapted as well from my sister, Martha’s, recipe.  They’re really not that difficult at all, so have fun and get your kids involved!


  • 1 Jar grape leavesDolmades4
  • 2.5-3 lbs. Ground Meat (my favorite combination is 1/2 lamb and 1/2 free range lean beaf.  I’ve used beaf, buffalo, elk, deer…  lamb alone is a bit heavy but anything will work!)
  • About 1 cup raw rice (this is one of the rare times I use plain white rice–Uncle Bens–it’s what I grew up with and doesn’t require as long to cook, which is important in this recipe)


  • 1 Medium sized yellow onion, chopped
  • 4-5 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Can tomato paste (optional)
  • Homemade chicken stock
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • A bunch of fresh parsley and oregano
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 TBS Cornstarch
  • A few TBS cold water or broth


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a large bowl, combine meat, rice, onion, garlic, spices, and paste.dolmades5
    This is where the kids start really having fun!dolmades2
  • Get your hands in there and blend it up really well.
  • Lay out your grape leaves and gently separate them.
  • One at a time, take a spoonful (or small handful) of meat mixture and place into the center of the leaf.
  • Roll the ends over and roll lit up into a small tube.dolmades6
  • Place in a large flat pan with sides that are about 2″ high.
  • Fill the pan tightlydolmades8
  • Pour chicken broth and the juice of your lemons over the top, just to cover the rolls.
  • Bake for one hour
  • Just before you take them out of the oven, ladle some of the broth out and place into a sauce pan.
  • Mix the cornstarch with the cold water or broth and blend into the saucepan,
    to thicken the sauce.
  • Remove the Dolmades and place into another pan, so you can add any leftover sauce into the saucepan.
  • Serve with sauce and enjoy!

This is great served with a green salad!

I would love to hear how this goes for you!

For the Love of Your Life!




Modeling Emotions to Our Kids

emotions1I’m a mama who shares a lot with my kids. I’ve gone overboard at times. I’ve shared too much, not quite grasping that my emotions or mental “meaning-making” machine was just too much for my little ones. But overall, I’ve realized that my kiddos have a lot of emotional intelligence that I want to honor.

Being intentional about sharing our emotions with our kids requires balance, mindfulness, and a lot of awareness of our own internal landscape.

Many of us shield our more intense emotions when we think our kids can’t handle them—or we fear that expressing our emotions might do damage, or frighten them. And while we do need to be cautious about our expression with our kiddos, we can sometimes do more damage in our attempts to protect them.

Parents often shield their children from so much and, subsequently, children don’t build the understanding or skills to manage their own intense emotions. Because emotions—big ones—are natural. They’re going to happen. And it’s our response to them, and our ability to be with them, regulate them, and learn to trust the wisdom of them, that allows us to build a healthy sense of self and ultimately forge healthy relationships with others. For our kids to be able to cultivate these abilities, they need to feel the raw, poignant teaching, modeled to them by their parents, of feeling and regulating the spectrum of all that life brings.

There is research related to human beings, even at early ages, having strong emotions2instincts when it comes to innately knowing when others are being dishonest. Sometimes we don’t cognitively perceive dishonesty but we feel it—our bodies sense when others are hiding something and it does damage in our relationships. When children feel us having an emotion that we attempt to hide, they experience us as incongruent, not aligned, not trustworthy. And then they’re left holding that.

When children are offered the chance, however, to consistently witness the practice of feeling, expressing, and regulating emotions, in a healthy way, by a primary influence—namely, their parents—they learn to integrate learning at a deep, core level. Our little ones need to build understanding not simply through practicing what we tell them, but through witnessing explicit behaviors from adult caregivers. They require embodied learning that occurs through the interdependent “neural wiring” that occurs between parent-child dyads—they need to experience their parents navigating life’s intensity, with developed skill, to feel safe and secure in developing their own ability to navigate the same.

Now, does this mean we should share everything with our kids—all the details of our messy emotional lives? Of course not. There is plenty in our adult world to which our children need not have access. They don’t need to know “the story.” They simply need to understand how we’re managing the story.

Here are 10 tips for being an “Emotional Model” for your children:

  1. Be Honest.  Trust that your kids can feel you feeling, and stay present both with yourself and with them. When they feel your congruence, they will naturally settle in your presence.
  1. Learn about your own emotions. Learn where they come from, how they tend to “show up,” and what you BELIEVE they mean. When you understand the habits of your emotional responses, you will be more equipped to regulate them, and your children will learn through your modeling.
  1. Practice tracking the “underneath” side of emotions—you’re frustrated… what’s underneath that? What’s the “deeper thing at stake?” What’s the more vulnerable version of whatever you’re feeling? Slow your emotional response down and validate the truth of whatever is at the core. That’s where the intelligence of emotion resides and when you share what’s underneath, your children will learn to share their own vulnerable truth.
  1. Share the Felt Sense. When you say, “I’m so angry right now,” also share what that feels like. For example, you might say, “I feel like my chest is really tight and I’m not breathing very well.” When we notice the sensation that corresponds with our emotion, we are actually slowing down our reactive habits just like that! And when kids see you tracking the sensation that informs your feelings, they’ll learn to do the same, and there’s tremendous wisdom in our SENSATION. We often mistake “thoughts” for feelings, but sensation always leads us to our deeper truth.
  1. Check in with your kids when you share “big” emotions with them. How is it for them to experience your intensity? Stay curious and engaged and invite them to do the same. Make it safe for them to honestly share their emotions. And let them share in their own time, and in their own way.
  1. Share not just what you feel, but how you’re regulating what you feel. When our kids see us feeling, and practicing regulating those feelings—because it’s always a practice—they learn that our emotional habits are a constant work in progress. Just like keeping our bodies fit and healthy, it takes consistent, mindful work to keep our emotional responses aligned with who we want to be in the world and in our relationships.
  1. Know why you want to share with your kids—is it for your benefit or theirs? Being honest isn’t always to benefit someone else. Sometimes sharing emotions is about our egos, or it’s related to our inability to manage feelings internally. It’s a difficult edge to know if we’re sharing for us or them. And with our children, it’s incredibly important to check ourselves!
  1. Let kids share their emotions on their own terms. As a therapist mom, I know this one all too well. Having an agenda for how and what our children share is simply going to distance them. We can ask, we can do our best to provide the safety and attunement that our kids need to open up to us, but we need to trust their timing and willingness to do so.
  1. Share the powerful positive feelings too. Let the love fly! If you have big anger and potent sadness that you share, be sure you’re filling their emotional buckets with loads of immense love, unconstrained giggles, open adoration, care, gratefulness, and joy.
  1. When you over-share—do the repair. Whether you’ve shared too much of “the story” with your kids, or you let your emotions get out of control, consistently come back and do the necessary repair with your kids. Take ownership. Let them know where you got off track and how you’re going to practice doing it differently next time. Be gentle with yourself too… our kids need to see us offering ourselves compassion so that they can learn compassion for their own missteps.

I’d love to hear your responses, your thoughts, your FEELINGS! Hopefully, you’ll feel free to share!

For the Love of Your Life!






As a mother of two, I’ve realized that I either have to find and nurture MYSELF within the chaos of supporting these developing life forms or completely sacrifice myself to the ever changing needs of my children.  I’ve opted for door number one!

Self-care is a word that I use almost every day of my life.  I consistently talk to my clients about the necessity of caring for ourselves, first and foremost.  The culture in which I work espouses self-care as a foundational practice.  It is a must!

Steamboat-kids&II use self-care to describe my need to put myself, as healthy, strong and capable as possible, at the center of my life, so as to be able to be of service to, and to care for, others—particularly my children.  If I model that balance well, my kids will thrive.  Hopefully, they will innately embody the knowledge that they are so valued, partly because I am purposeful in maintaining a strong foundation of “self” for them to constantly have as a centered and stable resource for their own lives.

Right now, self-care is an absolute necessity, and I’m finding it more difficult than ever.  I feel…  undone, a bit broken, at my edge.  A lot.  My and my children’s lives are in major transition.  And while transition is necessary and hopefully full of positive new things, it is taking all of me.  In fact, there are times I feel that I can barely breathe, it’s just so much.  The thing is…  I’m okay with that.  It’s a great reminder for how important BREATH really is.  I am given the opportunity to practice what I so often reflect to my clients—that Self-care is not an option.

I am in what I would call “emotional conservation mode.”  I have very little tolerance for unhealthy relationships, for drama, no energy for anything that distracts me from those things that will nourish me, and my children, and provide us the support that we need to move on to a more stable place in life.

Difficulty in life can be a blessing, right?  It supports us prioritizing and weeding out those things in life that simply don’t serve.  We deepen into trusting our hearts and our internal wisdom.  I have consistently looked back on the most difficult phases of my life and felt hugely grateful.  I think my kids ultimately will as well.  And my forever hope is that they will know how to attend to their own hearts… their own needs.

So, my practices? 

  • Breathe…  first and foremost.  Notice when I’m not.  Stop.  Sink in.  SAY YES to the moment.
  • Dance.  Move.  Climb.  Cycle.  Train.  Take all of the energy in my body that is stuck and afraid, and feel it, move it.  LET IT GO.
  • Receive.  Those people that truly see me and know me…  let them hold this with me.  Practice trusting those offers and TAKE IT IN.
  • Express.  Speak, cry, scream, LOVE, apologize, ask forgiveness, own my shit, appreciate, reflect.  SAY IT OUT LOUD.

We are not given too much… we are, however, given just enough, I believe, to allow us the opportunities to step into the lives we are meant to live.

What are the ways in which you nourish your own life, so that you can attend to those who are most dear to your heart?

I’d love to hear your responses!

For the Love of Your Life!