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Building Bridges

Bridges. They are incredible feats of engineering and ingenuity.  I am fascinated by how lofty and expansive they can be – rising above deep gorges and over wide rivers or bodies of water.

In our early days of cruising the San Juan Islands, my husband and I took our sailboat under one of those amazing bridges that spanned Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island. The beauty of the area had competition from the grandeur of the bridge that rose high above us. How were they able to build such a structure?

Later, visiting the area by car, we stopped at a lookout at the entrance to the bridge and read the history associated with it. Early settlers would take a small ferry boat to get from one island to the other until the 1930’s when construction began to build a permanent bridge.  It remains a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of men and women able to construct something of such stature that could withstand extreme weather and support heavy loads.


Building Bridges


We typically think of bridges as those physically constructed with steel or wood or hanging cables that we walk or drive across.

But we are also building bridges in our personal lives: from the past to present; between friends, spouses, family or members of a team. These bridges are constructed of tolerance, grace, and understanding held together not with nails or cables but patience and long-suffering.  They are built to withstand the ravages of time; yet flexible enough to move with the winds of assailing storms.  We carry across those bridges not the cargo of people, lumber or logs, but the treasured nuggets of wisdom and information gleaned from working through the rocks and quagmires of our past that will empower our lives today.


The loads we take with us include the skills of problem-solving, negotiation and the building blocks of good communication, listening, encouragement and motivational comments needed to build better relationships.  Tucked in here and there are grace, understanding, and forgiveness.

As I continue to share excerpts from my new program, “Yes I Can! Three Steps to Empower your Life” building bridges was the ending of Step one. Understanding our roots and beginnings enables us to build that positive bridge from what was to what we can do today, applying what we learned about ourselves to build a more positive tomorrow.

Marlene Anderson



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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.










Working through our Losses

Losses come in all sizes, shapes, and forms.

You may have lost your spouse, your child or other beloved family member or friend. Sometimes, it happens with the normal progression of age.

Sometimes it is with the unexpected telephone call bearing bad news, or a spouse’s request for a divorce. It might be the loss of your job or the discovery that the symptoms of discomfort you have been having is due to cancer or other degenerative diseases.

Even though each loss is different in some way, there is a commonality between them; something of great importance has been taken away that had purpose and meaning to you.


How do we move past them?  How do we rise above them? How do we grieve them?


There are many books on the market that talk about grief and loss.  But grieving is more than just walking through the pain of sorrow in those early days and months.  It is more than coming to terms with the unexpected and uncertainty about the future.  It involves a transition from what was to what is now.  It is answering the question, I knew who I was before, but who am I today?


People want to live again with purpose and meaning.  They want to love again. They want to feel whole and complete. They don’t just want to survive, they want to thrive once more.


When losses begin early in life and remain unresolved and ungrieved, the troubled thoughts and emotions locked in our memories are triggered again and again until we address them.  These losses can be the result of abuse, bullying, unfair comparisons, being ignored, rejected, or not seen.  A child can feel okay and know they are loved even within strict rules and boundaries if they get the attention that says, I don’t approve of your behaviors, but I love you. Children need words of encouragement even if those words come from a caring teacher or coach.  

Moving Forward


Healing our past requires defining that loss, working through the issues associated with it so we can move beyond it. Grieving past losses allows us to integrate them into the fabric of our life that promotes strength, appreciation, and confidence in who we are and who we can become.

Here are some ways to address losses, whether from our past or those you are currently experiencing.


  • It takes courage to grieve, and a willingness to be honest as we work through our sorrow, uncertainty, and vulnerability. Losses will continue to exact their toll on us until we work through them and put them to rest. That means working through the fears, pain, emotions, and anxieties associated with them. Building walls or running away may be expedient at the moment but only delays the healing process.


  • No matter how independent we may think we are, we need the support of others. Reach out and accept the love and support of those who want to help in some way. Get counseling by a qualified therapist to work through old losses.


  • Tragedies demand answers. At some point, however, we need to come to terms with what has happened, the “whys” and “what ifs” and let go of unanswered questions, injustice or bad choices.


  • Writing letters of goodbye can articulate what is in our heart and spirits and help resolve and integrate our losses. Much like journaling but more direct, writing to our losses creates a way to speak to subjective things such as loss of dreams, lifestyle, and expectations. Writing takes it out of the head, further illuminating both our thoughts and feelings. Write as you would any letter.  Dear (dream, career, health, etc.) I remember how important this was, what I wanted, etc.


  • Write a letter to your loved one who died. Tell them what they meant to you, the good times you spent together, how you are keeping your memories alive, what is the hardest part for you now, or what you wished you had time to do.


  • Sometimes words cannot express what we are feeling. Art gives us the opportunity to say through fabric or clay or wood or paints what cannot otherwise be expressed adequately. Make a wall hanging or quilt or mold clay into a memorial of some kind.  There are many art therapy classes available.


  • Create a new narrative that focuses on who you are now. “I will be okay – I can make it. I miss what I had but the love we shared will go with me as I move forward. I am not the pain, shame or abused child of my past. I’m discovering new ways to live life fully and meaningful every day.


  • Focus on what you can do today instead of what was taken away. See yourself as a capable person instead of a victim, able to create a new life of purpose and meaning.


  • Establish new social groups who share a commonality with you. Include laughter and fun as you encourage and support and enjoy each other’s company.


  • Grieving losses is a spiritual journey. As a Christian, God was as much a part of my grief and loss journeys as anything I might have done on my own.  I have found that when all is at its darkest, I look up and find the outstretched hand of God reaching down, giving comfort, love, and peace.


It is never too late to work through old losses. Until we grieve and work through them, they will remain in the background ready to sabotage our lives. They are usually loaded with anger, shame or guilt that needs to be worked through and emotions released. They can then be put into our memories.


Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.





The Unwanted Package

Once upon a time, a package was delivered to a young woman. When she opened it, her eyes blazed and she became very angry.  Although she was infuriated over receiving this parcel, nevertheless she picked it up and took it with her.

Soon other packages arrived and she had to get a larger bag to put them in so she could carry them.


Every morning she dutifully picked up her bag and took it with her; on the bus to work and when she met the girls for coffee or a glass of wine.  It went along to family gatherings and remained on her back as she fixed meals, cleaned house and did the laundry.  Every once in awhile, she would receive another unwelcome and unwanted package which she stuffed in the bag with the others. Her bag began to get heavier and heavier.


There were moments when she laid her bag down – times when she went for a walk outdoors and enjoyed the beauty of trees and flowers or walked the beach where water gently lapped around her ankles.  At such moments, she felt free and alive. She could enjoy the sun and the sweet pungent smells of earth or clean air.


She felt weightless and at peace and was tempted to leave the bag behind when she left. But it called to her and she would pick her load up once more, the moments enjoyed becoming burning coals of sadness, regret, and despair.


One day as she walked down the path of life, oblivious to the beauty that was around her, an old man stopped her and said,

Every day you carry that big bag.  I can tell it is heavy by the way your body sags under the weight and the strain of effort can be seen on your face. You must have something very valuable in that bag.”


The woman set the bag down and reflected on what he said. She had been carrying her load so long that it seemed the natural thing to do.


“Sir, the things in my bag are things I do not want, have never wanted, and carry them with me so that I never forget how much they have injured me.  If I lay them down, then I might forget.  For you see, in this bag are all the betrayals, rejections, insults, lies and humiliations I have received – things that have cut and wounded my spirit and soul.”


The man responded with deep concern. “Why would you want to keep carrying them?  Why don’t you put them down and leave them behind?”

With tears in her eyes, she replied, “Because I don’t want to forget what was done to me.  I don’t want them to get away with what they did to me.  I want them to remember the pain and suffering they inflicted on me.”

With tenderness the old man gently replied,

“But they don’t know you are carrying this bag of grievances and resentment.  They are not around.  Whatever was done to you, you continue to do to yourself. You are not exacting any punishment on them but on you.  Others may have injured you, but you continue to inflict pain on yourself.“


Amazed, she said, “But if I put it down, won’t I be saying, that what they did was okay?  That they got away with it.  As long as I carry this bag I can remember and maybe get even someday.”


The man kindly and compassionately said, “Is it worth letting a lifetime of joy and happiness pass you by?”


She looked into his eyes full of wisdom and grace and realized for the first time that by carrying her bag full of resentment and grievances, she was unable to enjoy doing those things that deep down she yearned to do. When our focus is on bitterness, there is no room left for joy.


She thanked the man and went home, put down her bag and pondered the things he said. What would she do with all the “rocks” of injustices she had been carrying around for so long?  It wasn’t just the wrongs done to her, but the anger that was continually fanned into a deep simmering rage.  She no longer wanted to carry them. But what would she do with them?

She looked out the window and gazed at her garden  It seemed so ordinary and common.  Instantly she knew what she would do.


Filled with an energy that bubbled up from deep within, she took the “rocks” out of her bag and went to work.  She built a monument in her garden, filling in places with fresh new dirt, planting graceful trees and fragrant blooming plants and flowers.


Water ponds held the tears she shed and pathways wound around carefully placed objects that no longer were stumbling blocks but sculptures of beauty.


Her garden no longer was mundane, but extraordinary and she would invite friends and family over to enjoy conversation, peace, and happy thoughts in her expansive garden.

Forgiveness is for you…

The story above is just that – a story.  But in its simplicity, illustrates how we carry huge loads of injuries with us as we travel through life.  Forgiveness allows us to put our bag of “rocks” down.  Forgiveness allows us to build something positive from the hurts of the past.  When we focus on how badly someone has treated us, we become a victim of our own story.

Forgiveness allows you to make peace with any bitterness that may be in your past.  It allows you to let go of the pain and experience peace.

Don’t you want to set your heavy burden down and choose to forgive?  Forgiveness, after all, is for us. Jesus said, forgive 70+ times.  Science tells us the same thing.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.




Coming to terms

Writing about our stories helps us not only to see what happened from a new perspective but our role in the outcome.  It also gives us the opportunity to take away nuggets of learning and wisdom.

Yet, there were things that happened that you might find difficult to let go of – that continue to spark your anger. You still feel betrayed and taken advantage of.  Forgiveness is out of the question as far as you are concerned and you are not ready to acknowledge any participation on your part in events gone awry.

Resentments continue to burn deep within your soul and spirit and an internal dialogue repeats “I have a right to feel angry and bitter. I was taken advantage of and made to feel stupid.  If I simply accept and let it go, won’t I be admitting that I really am a fool?  How can I come to terms with all that?

Life Experiences will be both good and bad

We will experience events in life that take advantage of our goodwill, our desire to get along and be a good neighbor. There will be tragedies associated with someone else’s hate or lack of responsibility or careless actions that leave us crippled or disabled in some way.  There will be achievements thwarted; losses too deep to speak about. There will be many things that cannot be changed: the death of a spouse, the loss of your marriage, addiction, loss of health or finances; and the loss of support and care in your declining years.

Discover a new way to move forward

Coming to terms with injustice, tragedies and losses of any kind, whether in our past or present, first requires acceptance. Hanging on to our losses and injustices is like carrying around a huge suitcase full of rocks and stones.  It robs you of your ability to move forward.

Coming to terms requires acceptance

Acceptance doesn’t mean everything will suddenly be back to normal or okay. It simply means you stop fighting and arguing about how cruel the world is or how badly you have been treated.  Life is not fair.  We can grumble and moan and rant and rave, but we can’t change history; we can’t change what others have done or what we have done. Instead, by making a conscious and deliberate choice to let go of anger, hate, resentment, and lingering frustration you can have a different outcome.

Coming to terms is for you

Coming to terms means that after we stop denying, fighting or struggling we make a decision to leave what can’t be changed behind and decide to bring forward what is good.  There is some good that can come out of the worst atrocity.  We can reach out our hand to someone who is hurting.  We can develop a compassion for others who are struggling.  We can see the pain of a neighbor and offer a word of understanding and comfort.

In any moment in time, we choose how we will respond to life.

Victor Frankl, a psychiatrist, Jew, and survivor of the concentration camps of WWII wrote, “to live is to suffer; to survive is to find meaning in the suffering.”  In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, he shares that even in the horrendous conditions of Auschwitz, “What alone is the last of human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.”

We will be challenged to live our values in the face of discarded principles and standards.  We will be challenged to choose how we want to respond to life – both in our past and in the future.  We will be challenged to make decisions that go counter to our desire to get payback or get even or follow the crowd.

But it is in those challenges that we grow and become more of who we are – a child of God, a person who endeavors to make a difference and that no matter the struggle, we will continue in that endeavor.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

The Stories of Your Life

Last week I suggested going back to your roots to complete old stories, heal old wounds and bring a new understanding to your life today.

While it can be painful, it is also very therapeutic.

Within your story of life there are many little stories, hidden like gems in the wall of your memory. They often get overlooked because we only see the vastness of boring, mediocre or unpleasant experiences.

Sit back in your easy chair and reflect for a moment on all the experiences you have had.  Which ones were exciting?  Which ones were humdrum or monotonous?  Which ones would you flee from without a moment’s hesitation?  Which ones would you love to go back, dig deeper and learn more?

Within the raw stories of our lives are life-altering moments; things that affected us profoundly but have been forgotten.  There might have been “Ah-ha” moments or some “Ouch” moments when you learned a deeper truth about yourself, but then simply stashed it away in the closet of your mind. There are treasures waiting to be uncovered, dusted off and enjoyed.

As you dig deep and uncover the events and people who made your life unique to you, think about those times as valuable nuggets of wealth.  Whether you had a difficult childhood, either from neglect, abuse or never being able to measure up, or you were the darling who never did anything wrong, you will have sustained both negative and positive consequences.

You might have become stronger, able to sustain the hard trials of life today.  You might have learned wisdom in that within each of us lies the ability to hurt or harm others as well as the capacity to develop compassion, grace and understanding.  You might have learned you weren’t as perfect as you thought. You might have learned that no matter how hard things were there was still hope – hope that enabled you to keep trying, keep going.

Take that list of events and people that you have been making.  Put each one on a 3 x 5 card.  On the front write the situation.  On the back, put down bits and pieces of information: words spoken, smells remembered, emotions felt, etc.What was happening?  How did you feel?   Who was there? What important insight did you receive?

Now take one of those cards and write a story.  Write it as if someone reading it could put themselves in that situatioin. Put down details vividly so anyone could experience the same sights, smells and sounds.As you write you will remember details long forgotten, some that may be very important. This is your story.  It is how you perceived the world you were living in.  Write as much or as little as you want.

Then read it out loud.  What greater truth was revealed? What did you learn about yourself?  What new strengths have been discovered?  What uncomfortable flaws or faults have been revealed?  We are a combination of both our strengths and triumphs and our weaknesses and shortcomings.  When we recognize all of them we become human, relatable and genuine.

You have just written a memoir.  Each of us has many memoirs within the overall arc of our life.  If written honestly you won’t be writing to seek revenge or get even. You won’t fabricate or embellish, exaggerate or bend the truth.  But your take away will be that gem of understanding of what it means to be human, to survive and overcome.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

Life Experiences – The Stories we Live

If you wanted to leave a legacy for your children and grandchildren that portrayed what life was like both growing up and as an adult, what would you say? What important and life changing events and people would be in your stories? What funny tales would you share; just thinking about them makes you laugh out loud.

In putting together a speech I am giving this week to a group of writers on writing memoirs, I was reminded again on how important it is to take time, go back and explore our past. We have so many stories to tell – stories that only we can tell – in our voice and as we experienced them.

Writing your own story is powerful and gives voice to what you have lived – it allows you to be heard.  Clarity comes as you begin to write.  It is a way to gather your thoughts clearly and coherently to piece together all your experiences, re-examine events objectively, and come to terms with life altering change.

Reflecting and writing gives us the opportunity to grieve old losses, heal old wounds and put to rest difficult memories.

As you write, identify your strengths and abilities. It will help you gain a greater appreciation of yourself and others.  When we can accept and celebrate all the parts of our life’s journey – the good, the bad and the ugly – we are able to integrate them into a new whole that has balance, grace and compassion.

Growing up we make interpretations of our experiences that form perceptions of who we think we are based on those meanings.

We will have experienced both happy and hurtful situations but tend to forget the happy times and dwell only on the unhappy ones.

In my new program, “Yes I can, Three Steps to Empower Your Life,” I suggest in Step One that you go back to your roots and make a list of all the things that impacted you growing up. What events were especially memorable?  Who supported and encouraged you?   Which events and people were not affirming and positive?

Then take some sheets of paper and write about each of them.  What can you say today that you couldn’t before?  Who would you like to thank? Write them a thank you note.  What elements of your story can you reframe and expand to bring more clarity and understanding to your life story?

Keep in mind that early serious psychological wounds inflicted by others were people themselves who struggled with a lack of worth, esteem and value. And unfair comparisons we may have experienced are just that – unfair comparisons.

It is important to also remember that we are not our pain, shame or abused child.  These are things that may have happened, but they do not define who we are, unless we allow them to.  We can take away a larger message of discovering our value and worth.

While our experiences help shape us, we are the final determiners of how we will use and apply our past today. Affirm your ability to be who you were meant to be.  Believe in yourself.

So take some time in the weeks to come to explore and write about the events you lived.  What lessons did you learn?  What bigger value can you take away that you didn’t see before?

As you write, be honest and genuine.  Don’t embellish or take away.  When you can express your weaknesses and shortcomings to yourself and others along with your strengths and triumphs, you and your story will become more human, relatable and engaging.

Marlene Anderson


If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.



Confidence is Empowering

We live in a time of rapid change.  Adjusting to that change requires self-confidence in our ability to rise to the level of new demands.  While technology can be helpful, it can also add to our stress levels as we try to adjust to the accelerating pace associated with rapid change.

It is a good time to ask yourself what things from your past have been helpful and how can I use them again? Our past influences the choices we make today. Taking time to reflect and explore our roots can help separate the negative from the positive.

What messages did you hear growing up? Were they hurtful or encouraging? How did the events and people in your past help “shape” and “mold” you into the person you are today?  Reflection gives us the opportunity to consider how those growing up experiences continue to make either a positive or negative impact on our way of interacting with the world today.

Here are three reasons why it is important to take a journey back to our growing up days. First, revisiting our past can bring resolution to traumatic and difficult events.  The brain constantly reminds us of threatening or intimidating experiences so they can be resolved.  It doesn’t take long to form a habit that always looks on the negative side of life.

Second going back to our roots can give us a clearer picture of circumstances.  While we can’t change our past, we can use new understanding to rewrite the ending moving forward. As a child we have limited ability to interact in our defense and put into perspective what is happening.

And third, reflecting helps us remember all the good times as well the not so good.  What was happening when you were relaxed and having fun. What were you doing?  Who was having fun with you? Did you find contentment and pleasure in exploring, creating, or just hanging out with friends?

We are a combination of genes and traits and experiences, some positive and motivating and others hurtful and discouraging.  The family we grew up in played a role in how we interact with others.  There might have been unfair comparisons or we were lost as a middle child. Our school years may have been punctuated with bullying incidents, peer pressure and unhappy alliances that continue to leave a residue on our lives.

Many occurrences, interactions, words and deeds combine to help “shape” and “mold” us.  While many may be unpleasant, there will be moments of intense pride and pleasure as well as special relationships.  Looking back helps us to remember equally those times.

We are not stuck with one premise, one way of looking at the world.  Each of us has the ability to grow and improve, conquer and overcome.  We can choose to look at today’s world with fresh eyes in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

Affirm your strengths – accept your vulnerabilities.

A quick exercise

Take a blank piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle. Put a smiling face on it and add your name.  Draw lines that extend outward from that circle like the rays of the sun. On each of those sunshine spokes write the characteristics, traits or features that make you “you”.

  • What traits or strengths would you assign yourself? You might see yourself as upbeat or depressed. You might see yourself as strong and determined or shy and hesitant
  • What qualities or defining features do you believe you have? Ex: thoughtful, contemplative, unselfish, introspective, charismatic, etc.
  • Describe your social traits (friendly, shy, aloof, talkative, engaging, etc.)
  • How would you characterize your appearance and physical condition (tall, attractive, weak, muscular, strong, frail, thin, shapely, etc.)
  • What talents and abilities do you possess (artistic, computer savey, athletic, etc.)
  • What is your typical emotional state (happy, pensive, anxious, angry, compassionate, cheerful, fearful, etc.)
  • What is your dominant way of thinking or mindset? (Suspicious, dependable, trusting, courageous, independent, reliable, competent, motivated, adept, etc.)

We are influenced by our DNA, personality traits, childhood experiences and the fundamental beliefs we put in place while growing up.  We have untapped potential that may have been obscured by earlier unpleasant life events. Each of us interprets life in our unique way. At any point in time we can expand that interpretation, accepting the not so positive as well as the strengths we have. Celebrate all parts of you.

Marlene Anderson


If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

A New You – A New Canvas of Life

January is the time of year when we think about making new year’s resolutions. New goals are made because we want to improve our life in some way.  We begin with good intentions but often do not have enough resolve.

Goal setting often fails because they are made without careful thought and planning.

If we do not take into consideration how they will impact family, work, relationships or finances, we can easily get discouraged and abandon them.

When goals are too general, we don’t follow through because the end result is too far in the future and we haven’t put in place reasonable steps to reach that end result.


Before you begin to make new goals, take a moment and reflect on what you have accomplished in the past.

What did you do to make that happen? For example, your goal might have been very specific with well defined action steps.

Did you have a clear picture of what you wanted before you started?  Could you visulize it?

What obstacles or insurrmountable odds did you face and how did you overcome them?

What kept you motived when you got discouraged?

Did you modify your large goals into tiny ones that could easily be completed?

Are there goals you have abandoned?  Can you develop a new plan of action to complete them?

Did you have the support and help from others?

Reflection helps us to know ourselves better.  What are our strengths and our weaknesses?  How can we better direct ourselves in order to succeed? Reflection reminds us of what we consider important and can help motivate us to keep going.

When I refelct on what I have been able to accomplish in the past, I am reminded that when I remain focused and motivated, I can accomplish many things. But before I set specific goals, I start by looking at the big picture of what I want, who I want to become and how that will bring meaning and purpose to my life.


Anything is possible if we can dream and visualize it –

but we have to be willing to put in the effort.


“Yes I Can, Three Steps to Empower Your Life


Yes, I can, 3 steps to Empower your Life  is a new life coaching program I will be introducing to my readers in the upcoming weeks. It is designed to help you heal old wounds, replace negative and devaluing self talk with positive affirmations and look at the bigger picture of what you want in life.

Yes I can” is a belief you develop about your abilities and perseverance to complete whatever you set out to do. It says,

I will go on when I am disappointed, discouraged or face what
seems like unresolvable roadblocks.  I can find a way.  I can make it.

It is a mantra that will allow you to problem solve, review and refine the end goals you want to make to maximize your potential and live a life with meaning and purpose.

So make your first resolution to reflect on what you have accomplished this past year and in the years prior.  Ask yourself: what do I you really want to achieve in my lifetime?  Are these wants realistic and ones that will have meaning to me in the long term?  Do they meet my values and principals?

Then take the information and make an overall plan on how you might accomplish this.

Marlene Anderson


If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.






Ghosts of Holidays Past

While finishing the last touches of decorating, buying and wrapping presents, we might experience feelings of sadness and depression instead of happiness.

My last blog spoke to how losses can impact our Christmas.  Those losses include pets that were a major part of our families.

It isn’t just recent losses that can influence our feelings.Holidays remind us of magical childhood moments when we were spellbound over lights and the promise of unwrapping that special present we wanted more than anything.

But holidays also remind us of strained relationships, broken promises and a past filled with pain and disappointment.  It can remind us of a childhood where the dreams of a happy family were constantly shattered.

When painful emotions from the past surface, we often medicate ourselves with drugs or alcohol or endless shopping sprees to dull the ache. We lose ourselves in parties so we don’t have to feel. But deep inside a tiny voice pleads, “I am tired of running away and feeling sad. I want to feel peace and happiness. I want to experience that childlike wonder of expectation and anticipation this Christmas.”

How do we get beyond painful feelings that are triggered this time of year?

  1. Allow yourself to feel. Walling off, pushing away or trying to contain your past can be stressful and exhausting. Only when painful issues are faced directly can we be free from their grip. If you continue to experience intrusive troubling emotions from your past, gift yourself time with a good therapist who can help you work through the pain.
  2. Acceptance. The losses from our past often continue to haunt us because we have not accepted them. Acceptance stops the cycle of resistance, resentment, anger and helplessness.   While the losses in our life will always be a defining part of who we are, moving through the grief allows painful memories to heal.
  3. Let Go. Forgiveness allows you to let go of resentments, anger and bitterness. It acknowledges that life may be unfair, but hanging on to our grievances only hurts me. Holding onto resentment is corrosive and toxic.  Forgiveness allows us to get past the hurt and allows us to make peace with a bitter past.  We can choose to hang onto hatred or replace it with meaningful and productive thoughts and actions.
  4. Focus on blessings. Even in the darkest of times when we are struggling to survive, there are things to be thankful for. Looking for things to be grateful for and focusing on blessings changes our brain chemistry allowing us to feel differently. Thankfulness reframes our outlook and removes us from victim mode.
  5. Reach out. If you are struggling, reach out to a friend or become part of a support group, especially if your losses are current.  Reaching out to others reminds us we are not alone. Become aware of others who are going through tough times and reach out to them with a kind word and understanding. When we reach out to others we feel better. It puts a new perspective on our own troubles. A smile and empathy for the frazzled clerk, choosing not to get angry or grumpy when standing in long lines, giving grace to others who are having a tough day are small ways we can reach out that also enriches our lives.
  6. Stay in the here and now. When you become aware your thoughts are constantly tuning into the negative, tell yourself “stop.” Listening to old negative messages from the past is a habit.  Push the stop button on that old tape and replace with a constructive message.  It can be an affirmation that says, Yes I can, or God will see me through this, or I refuse to live in the past, I can choose to create a positive life, or I choose to see the good as well as the bad, or I will be okay. Yes I can” is a mantra I use when life gets me down that completely reverses my thinking.  And the second is, God loves me and I am never alone.

Christmas is a time to rejoice in a new beginning. It is the time a Savior was born.  He came because He loves us.  In Him we find the peace and healing that our heart longs for. Reach out and take His healing grace and allow Him to be a part of this holiday season and your life.

Marlene Anderson


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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.


Losses at Christmas

Christmas – a time of presents, giving, receiving, concerts and singing.  Most of us slip into the season without giving it a second thought.

But for those who have suffered a loss, it can be a time of renewed pain and sadness as we greet the season without our loved one.  Sometimes it is disease that is slowly taking away a person we love.

Those losses include our pets, as well, as anyone who is a pet owner can attest to. They are a part of our families too.

Earlier this year I invited Deb Kalmbach, a writer friend, author and speaker if she would be a guest blogger. She had written a book about the escapades of her Jack Russell Terrier, entitled “Kosmo’s Christmas Delivery”  (available on Amazon.com) and I had asked if she would write a guest blog for my website about what we can learn from our pets.

She shared the following blog which was posted on her website and she asked if I could re-post it on my website.She recently lost her beloved dog and her blog speaks to love of her pet and the pain felt of his death.

Product Details


What I Learned From Our Jack Russell Terrier

by Deb Kalmbach

We said good-bye recently to sweet little Kosmo, our 14-year old Jack Russell Terrier. It’s still hard to believe he’s gone. I keep looking for him everywhere. I’m certain that noises I hear are Kosmo. He’s letting us know he’s at the door or jumping down from one of his favorite perches so he can check out what’s going on outside. He never missed a thing!

Kosmo came into our lives on an ordinary summer day. We had no idea our lives would be turned upside down and our hearts inside out by one small dog. Randy and I were content. We already had our fill of Jack Russell adventures with our dog, Kramer. But Doc (the local veterinarian) and his wife Patty were convinced we needed a companion for Kramer.

Patty introduced us to this wriggling bundle of energy one day while I worked at our video store. “Here’s Kramer’s little brother,” she proudly announced.

“What?” I asked, bewildered.

Patty, not one to be discouraged, said she’d already been to the house to tell Randy this exciting news.

I wasn’t sure we were ready to welcome another puppy. Kramer was only 3-years old and we’d weathered his puppyhood without too many problems. Only a few indoor “potty- accidents” and Kramer had mastered the routine. Kosmo proved to be an entirely different story.

“He’s free,” Patty continued. She mentioned that she and Doc had adopted three puppies from this litter. “He’s our gift to you!”

Well, how could we say no? A few weeks later, after Kosmo’s first sign of “trouble,” Patty asked if we were still talking to her. Kosmo had swallowed our neighbor’s gold nugget heart-shaped pendant. He needed to see a specialist in Wenatchee (2 hours away) to have it extracted. Doc had pointed out the perfectly shaped heart lodged in Kosmo’s stomach on the X-ray. That should’ve have been a clue. This dog would cost us way more than we could’ve imagined!

Kosmo’s antics could fill a full-length book. Our sons tried to console us after hearing the sad news that we had to put him to sleep. “Mom, it’s really a miracle that Kosmo survived so many years with all the trouble he got into.”

I managed to laugh, remembering Kosmo’s encounters with bobcats, skunks, cows, getting lost in the wilderness, and swallowing a jellyfish– just to name a few of his misadventures. Yes, it really was a miracle that Kosmo lived to old age.

I can’t help but think of how much we learned from him. He lived his life with ferocity. I’ve read that Jack Russell Terriers are known for being tenacious. Kosmo took this to a whole new level. When my friend Sue came for lunch, Kosmo always raced down the driveway to greet her, leaping as high as he could, and catapulting himself right into her arms. One of his favorite pastimes was dunking his head underwater in the river or at the ocean to dig for rocks. He didn’t give up until he procured the perfect one. He managed to carry it to the car or all the way home. No doubt about it, Kosmo lived life to the fullest.

And we should do the same.

Kosmo was fearless–sometimes to his detriment. His curiosity knew no bounds, and often landed him in deep trouble–when he faced off with cows or deer and managed to hold his ground.

Look at life with courage.

Kosmo offered unconditional love. Whenever Randy and I came home and saw Kosmo watching for us from his window vantage point, our day instantly became a lot brighter.

Love, love, love!

When I was tempted to be a couch potato—especially on cold winter days, Kosmo let us know that wasn’t happening. Come on, let’s go! His enthusiasm was almost contagious. We’d always give in, bundle up in our winter coats and boots (and bundle Kosmo in his coat) and trudge down the snowy roads together. He loved to go cross country skiing and snowshoeing. He spent most of the time attacking our skis or snowshoes. Now that adds another dimension to trying to stay upright on skis!

Keep moving forward!

Kosmo was 100% loyal. He always knew when we were feeling down or under the weather. He knew it was his place to snuggle next to us. During his last weeks, he hovered especially close. Being near us must have comforted him. We didn’t know how sick he was because he never complained. He kept soldiering on. Our veterinarian told us the tumor in his stomach was so large, he didn’t know how Kosmo had functioned. But I do. It was his job to always be there–right until the end.

Be a faithful friend.

Now my emotions swing between remembering all the moments of pure joy spent with Kramer and Kosmo and feeling heartbroken because I miss them so much. My 5-year old granddaughter Lucy told me that losing Kosmo is super sad. She instructed, “Grammie, you have to get another dog and name him Kosmo.” Children have such a sweet way of fixing your heartache.

I wish it were that simple. It will take time to learn how to do life without Kosmo. Maybe someday we’ll open our hearts to another little canine friend. Until then, we shed some tears and smile through them as we remember.

I’m especially thankful I found a way to write about Kramer and Kosmo. Last year, I launched Kosmo’s Christmas Delivery, a children’s picture book. My friend, Joey Palmberg, brought the story to life with his delightful illustrations. Even though it’s fiction, it’s based on some real-life events. And so the legend of Kosmo lives on!

Remember to give thanks!


Thanks Deb for your moving story.  It is a reminder to enjoy every minute with our loved ones, whether it is a favored pet or a beloved spouse, family member or dear friend.


Marlene Anderson


If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.