My word for 2015: Empower

It did not take a lot of thought to pick my word for this coming year. The idea was on the forefront of my mind almost immediately. In the years past, it has sometimes taken more time and consideration, and I have picked words for attitudes or growth that I needed personally: authentic (2012), courage (2013), and fulfill (2104).

rocket IMG_9382This year I want to focus my energies more towards others. I have received great development, encouragement, and blessing in the last few years. I want to share that with others. So my word for 2015 is EMPOWER.

My husband read this great quote and sent it to me. It fitly describes the purpose for my life efforts this next year.

As we look ahead into the next century,
leaders will be those who empower others
                                            Bill Gates

I’m not sure what “empower” will look like for me, but I can guess that it will include a few of these things:

Investing time coaching and mentoring others.

Asking more and better questions and “preaching” less.

Saying “no” to doing anything someone else could do.

Controlling less.

Encouraging more.


Paying attention and observing others.

Resourcing others with materials, trainings, and assessments – anything that will build confidence and competence in others to do and be their best.

Praying for others more.

Believing more in others’ abilities and expressing my belief to them.

Celebrating with others.

I envision in-fueling people (family, friends, other leaders around the world) with whatever they need to go places and do things that I can’t even imagine.

I look forward to seeing what they will do. Bring it on 2015!

What do you think EMPOWER looks like? What is your word for 2015?

like a girl

Procter and Gamble did an awesome commercial about moms for the Sochi olympics. They’ve done another great one with this challenging and inspiring video about the comment “like a girl”.

What does “like a girl” mean to you? How can you help rewrite the rules?


You might also like to read: moving toward advocacy, do nice girls finish last?

a shout out

March 8th is International Women’s Day! You may not have known that. It is not a high-profile holiday here in the US, maybe it is where you live.

You may not have planned any extra activities or special menu items for the day. If you forgot to invite your family and friends over for the celebration, that’s OK. I thought we could celebrate here!


Since living almost 20 years in Latin America, I know that you do not need an official reason to have a party. It can always be fiesta time! When I read that March 8th is International Women’s Day, I immediately began to have a party in my heart as I reflected on the amazing women who have been on my life journey with me.

I began thinking about family first… My brave Mom who is battling cancer and just lost her husband but continues on loving me and others. My sisters who have each fought their own personal battles through the years, but are growing and learning and giving sacrificially to others. My daughters who make me so proud as they become thoughtful, generous, sensitive, creative, strong, caring women.

shout Newsbie

I could never list all the special women who have been friends, coaches, mentors, and inspirational examples for me, but as their faces flashed through my mind, I remember life-changing conversations and experiences together, and my soul feels refreshed and ready for any challenge life may bring.

Friends also came to mind… friends from all stages of life and all parts of the globe. How they have brought laughter, adventure, comfort and challenge to my world! We have talked for hours, worked side by side on eternally valued projects, and cried and hugged through pain. I am a better person because of their investment in my life.

Jimmy Jack Kane / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

I thought, too, of the women I have never met, but I have read about them or read their books or blogs. Women leaders and those who have suffered great tragedies. Women who advocate for women to find their place in powerful divine alliance with men for good and change and hope in our world.

And speaking of men, I cannot forget to mention the ones who have believed in me, sponsored me, and always ensured that I found the stairs to the unique platform God designed for me. My incredible husband, Steve, is the first one on this list.

I have written about some of these special people through the years, but I can never do them all justice. Their influence is engraved in my mind, heart, and soul. So this week, I am taking advantage of International Women’s Day to give a shout out to these special ones. I am so grateful for paths that crossed and lives that intersected.

Will you join my fiesta? Who would you like to honor on this International Women’s Day? Name your special people in the comments… I’d love to celebrate with you!

finding your voice

find your voice

“Cover bands don’t change the world –
you need to find your unique voice if you want to thrive.”
~ Accidental Creative

I am part of an exciting process at work that is looking for ways to help leaders find their voice and make a significant contribution through their lives. This is one of my heart passions and a fitting application for my 2014 word – fulfill. I believe that we are each created with incredible value, opportunity and responsibility to make a positive contribution in our world.

We can only do this if we are at peace with who we are – not constantly comparing with others or imitating someone else – and when we courageously speak out and step up for what we believe.

“Learn what taps your talents and fuels your passion
– that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet – therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul’s code.”
~ Steven Covey

Finding your voice is about more than mere words. Steven Covey explains that Voice is the overlapping of the four parts of our nature: our body, mind, heart, and spirit.

Accidental Creative put together a great list of questions to help each person discover their Voice. I’ve changed them just a bit. I’ve been thinking about these:

1. What kinds of situations “fire you up” or make you “pound the table”? What evokes compassionate anger in you or makes you want to intervene to correct a wrong?

2. What makes you cry?

3. What have you mastered? What can you do well, without effort, without thinking? What skills and abilities would you like to use more?

4. What gives you hope? What vision do you have for your future and the future of others?

5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? What did you dream of doing?

6. If you had all the time and money in the world – no limitations – what would you do?

7. What do you love doing? What makes you come alive? What makes you excited and motivated? 

8. Where can you start today? What platform do you already have? 

9.  What need can you serve? What change would you like to see in the world?

10. If you had one day left, how would you spend it?

You are important. You are needed. Your contribution is valuable. Find your voice… and then help someone else find theirs!

What have you been created to do? What is your Voice?


Great resources!

Steven Covey’s post on Four Steps to Finding your Voice

Accidental Creative’s post on Ten Questions that will Help You Find Your Voice

olympic attitude

olympic rings

Adrenaline pumping courage, sweat and tears discipline, and breath-taking athletic accomplishments. Beauty, strength, smiles, and the fruitful culmination of many years of hard work. I love the Olympics! Watching the athletes – almost 🙂 – motivates me to get off the couch and do some push-ups or run a few miles!

There are also the tumbles, falls, heartaches, injuries, and tears. Last night I watched a bit of the Olympics. In the women’s snowboard slopestyle final, Sarka Pancochova, from the Czech Republic, took a horrendous spill on her third jump landing. She caught her snowboard edge, lost her balance, and fell backward. Her head hit the snow hard; her neck whipped back; her body was a limp rag doll tumbling down the slope. When she finally slid to a stop, she laid still, not moving. VIDEO: Watch her fall

Sarka’s helmet broke and cracked open in the back – an intentional protection design. 

Incredibly, after just a few minutes, medics reviewed her, and she stood to her feet and finished the course under her on power.

I did a little ski racing when I was young. I remember a terrible finish line wipe-out when my dad also encouraged me to quickly go back up the hill and race again – not allowing the fear and memories to control me or limit my future skiing attempts. I enjoyed skiing for many more years.

I am reading a book now called True North by Bill George. He encourages authentic leadership and claims that leaders do not emerge simply from characteristics, traits, skills, or styles, but rather from life stories. As we test ourselves through real-world experiences and then re-frame those life stories to understand who we are, leaders unleash their passions and discover the purpose of their leadership¹

Real life stories involve great triumphs… and terrible tragedies. All of those experiences are woven together to make us who we are, if we learn from them and use them to empower our leadership. I have fallen many times in the past, but those are not the defining moments of my life. The real victory comes from getting back on my feet, learning from the experience, and moving forward toward my life purpose.

Sarka did not win the snowboard event, but she definitely has a winner’s attitude. I am sure she will reach amazing accomplishments in her life. Her attitude is a great reminder and example for me.

What is your attitude after a fall? What helps you to get on your feet again? How have your experiences led you to discover your purpose in life?


¹ George, B., 2007,True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, Kindle Locations 201-203

fulfill – a word for 2014

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. The last two years, I have picked one word to represent how I want to focus in the next year. It is a great exercise to consider what is happening in my life and how I want to grow. I encourage you to try this too!

For 2014, I have picked FULFILL.

The verb fulfill means to fill a need or want. To fulfill yourself personally means to follow your inner passion no matter who thinks it’s silly.

There are various aspects to this definition. The first idea is to bring to completion or reality; to achieve or realize something desired, promised, or predicted; to carry out a task, duty, or role as required, pledged, or expected. I believe God has created me for a specific purpose, and I want to fulfill that role.

“The place God calls you to is the place
where your deep gladness
and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
― Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC

The second idea is to gain happiness or satisfaction by fully developing abilities, potential, or character as much as natural ability or gifting makes possible.

“What we hunger for perhaps more than anything else
is to be known in our full humanness,
and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else.
It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are . . . because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are
and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth
in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing.”
― Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

Too many times I have let other people control what I can dream or what I can do. I have allowed others’ opinions of me determine who I feel free to be.

This year, I want to believe in and act on all that God has created me to be.

I also want to do all that I can to encourage, empower, and resource others to be all that they are created to be and do. No holding back. No limits. Just fulfilled.

I sense a great adventure coming on… 🙂

What word will you pick for 2014?  I’d love to hear about it!

(** For other ideas, feel free to check out some of my words from other years…
2013 – Courage or 2012 – Authentic.)

the BEST of 2013

antique trophy

Where has the time gone? I think I say that every year! It has been an eventful year… events that have brought travel to new places -internationally for work and eternally for beloved family members. I have laughed, and I have cried. I have written about many of the adventures, body and soul, here in these posts.

Thanks so much for accompanying me on my journey. I have loved your feedback, your pushback, and your encouragement along the way. I prefer to do my processing verbally, so your interactions with me make the challenging process of disciplined writing worthwhile.

There are days when I think I am ready to give up this work, but I know it is good for me to write out my thoughts and some of you have expressed that it is helpful for you too, so I think I will give it a go for another year. I hope you will travel the journey with me!

Here are the top-read posts written this year. I hope you will read any you’ve missed or re-read any favorites!

(Each post is available in English and Spanish. Feel free to look around in the archives!)

Most Read English Posts:

2013 top postshow to know yourself better

destroying double standards

when holidays hurt

creating more leaders

a bucket list

Catching Fire leadership

2013 top posts spanMost Read Spanish posts: 

rompiendo las barreras

peleando como un “ezer”

un ogro (grinch) del Día de San Valentín

espiritualidad e integridad para líderes

asombroso pastel de cumpleaños

destruyendo la doble moral

You can also read more about how the blog got started here: About Me  and here:  coffee as a way of life or here: why a blog

And you can check out earlier posts on:  The Best of 2012  🙂

THANKS AGAIN for reading! I really do appreciate you!

What were the biggest happenings in your 2013?

Catching Fire leadership

Catching FireLast night I went to see the premiere of “Catching Fire” in the IMAX theater with my niece and other family members. She was very excited. I had not read the books, and I’m not a big movie fan, but I was there to enjoy the experience with her and make a special memory! Popcorn and candy are always fun!

I admit that I liked the movie more than I expected. I thought it was better than the first film “The Hunger Games”: on-the-edge-of-your-seat action, intertwined relationships, and a battle for the underdog. Except for the futuristic, sci-fi elements (not my favorite film genre), the story grabbed my attention, and I forgot everything about real life for the entire 2 1/2 hours.

This morning when I woke up and my mind went back to my MA courses, I started thinking about some fun connections between the movie and the leadership themes I have been studying. Here are a few of them…

The main protagonist characters, Katniss and Peeta, demonstrate leadership character with courage, sacrifice, loyalty, love and care for others, and convictions that can not be bought or beaten out by corrupt powers. They win the sympathy of many with their integrity, perseverance, and compassion, and become attractive role models for the youth.

The heroes have a compelling vision – They symbolize hope for the future and the belief for many that together they can improve life for themselves and for those who come after them. Katniss and Peeta plan some tactical steps for survival and also prepare for unknown and unexpected circumstances and challenges.

Katniss and Peeta work with an amazing team – Coaches and mentors help with marketing, strategy, spokesperson roles and survival training, providing experience, knowledge, and resources. They know they could never survive the competition without the help of others.

Partners and Alliances are a key part of the survival plan – These partnerships require trust, respect, watching each other’s back, working together, each offering their unique expertise and help from their strength areas. The intense focus on an external enemy allows them to accept and appreciate others who are very different.

These are just some ideas that I thought of quickly as I enjoyed remembering the movie. I’m sure there are many more. If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, what principles do you see?

And… if you are struggling with a type of “The Capital” in your own life or at work, may the odds be ever in your favor! 🙂 The application of some of these leadership principles might help!

I am not doing enough

woman silhouetteThe pictures haunt my dreams. The stories tear at my heart.

Acid attacks in India. Sexual violence in Syria. Human trafficking in Nicaragua…

…not to mention the nightly local news.

Beauty robbed. Life scarred forever. Families anguished.

Pain. Hatred. Fear. Injustice. Shame. Evil.

Report after report of misogyny, disrespect, violation, and cruelty. Attacked because of a commitment to go to school or a refusal to marry at puberty. Coerced because of lust and greed. Abused by strangers, lovers, family members.

I cannot comprehend these things. They shake me to the core. They disrupt my thoughts; they upset my stomach; they burden my heart.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
is for good men to do nothing.”

credited to Edmund Burke

What can I do? What do you do?

I live in comfort and safety, surrounded by love. I have freedom, choices, protection. My everyday life is not threatened as are the lives of so many women.

I have education, influence, money, discretionary time…

I have responsibility. I have hope.

I know I can pray more. I am asking God to show me what else I can do…

What injustice are you passionate about changing? What are you doing?

(**If you have helpful information, sites, or organizations that you help, please leave the links in your comment, so we can learn from each other!)

destroying double standards

home freedigitalphotos smarnad
Last week I re-posted in honor of my anniversary,”Tips for a long-lasting marriage or friendship“. The first tip I listed was partnership.

Then this morning I was reading the chapter, “Making Your Partner a Real Partner” from Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg… so I have partnership on the brain today!

Sandberg writes mainly advocating for women in leadership, but this chapter
advocates very much for men.

One thing that has concerned me through the years has been the limited role of men in home and family. As a woman blessed to have a spouse who has been a “real partner” for our 28 years of marriage, I find it easy to advocate for real partnership in marriage, home, and work.

Sandberg mentions various barriers to real partnership at home that I have seen and experienced myself. She also suggests ways to overcome the barriers. I wonder if you can relate to any of these?

1. Empowerment

Just as woman struggle with lack of empowerment in the business world, men often face a lack of empowerment at home.Too many times I have heard women criticize their husbands’ for how they feed, dress, or interact with their children. In my opinion, these women not only sound disrespectful and insulting, but also prideful, and they are doing their marriage partnership a great disservice (and increasing their own work load). Sandberg correctly states, “Anyone who wants her mate to be a true partner must treat him as an equal–and equally capable–partner.“¹ it is fine to choose task assignments according to preference or skill, but assuming and communicating that a man cannot do (or learn to do) a good job at home is demeaning and de-motivating. On the other hand, empowering will help to take down the barriers between real partners.

2. Encouragement

Derogatory jokes, lack of role models, and social stereotypes all make it more difficult for men to openly and actively participate as full partners at home. I have known a few men who were the primary care-givers for their children. I have known more men who shared equally home and family responsibilities (my husband included).Others teased, questioned, and sometimes isolated these men because of their desire and commitment to actively engage as true partners, rather than praised and honored for their choices.Thankfully, these men did not have the (oft-ascribed) fragile male egos I am frequently warned about, and they refused to be discouraged or dissuaded by stereotypical expectations. Men and women both can do a better job at encouraging men when they act as true partners.

3. Employment policies

Most companies do not offer men the same paternal benefits that are available to women. According to Sandberg, “Only two states offer paid family leave that fathers can use”². Men often pay an even bigger penalty than women via social pressure, low performance ratings,and fewer advancement opportunities if they take time off to prioritize family needs. I believe we need to improve the organizational/governmental policies and laws to support true partnership.

Sandberg claims that true marriage partnership results in greater satisfaction, less divorce, and more sex³, and greater father involvement produces “higher levels of psychological well-being and better cognitive abilities”⁴ and “higher levels of educational and economic achievement and lower delinquency rates”⁴ for the children. These benefits motivate me to work to eliminate the double standards that inhibit true partnership.

Are there ways you can improve true partnership in your marriage?

If you are dating, are you establishing true partnership patterns today for future marriage? 


**For more chapter summaries from Lean In, read here and here.

¹ Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013, pg. 109, para. 2. 
² Ibid, pg. 113, para. 2.
³ Ibid, pg. 118, para. 1. 
⁴ Ibid, pg. 113, para. 1.