• Would you love to have lasting bliss in your life?
  • Do you dwell in inner peace or is your life full of chaos?
  • Have the strains of stress, loss, or conflict drained the joy from your life?
  • Can you access self-love and self-compassion?

I am a licensed psychotherapist, writer, spiritual director and Reiki master with over 30 years of professional experience in the wellness field. I believe that all of life’s challenges can be portals to personal and spiritual growth.

I would love to help you reorient yourself to a life of love and abundance, ease and bliss — starting today.  Here are resources to help you deepen and enrich your life — check out my articles, books, videos, and blogs. Or contact me to set up Online Counseling.  Love and light are closer than you might imagine!

Latest Blog Posts:

Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There: Doing Nothing and the Art of Niksen

I recently became acquainted with a Dutch concept called Niksen. Niksen is the art of doing nothing. The idea is, well, to just sit there. No work, no distractions. No Facebook or journaling. No counting your breaths or repeating a mantra. No reading. No phone calls. No intentions. No nothing.

Why would anyone do this, you might ask? Isn’t it boring, a waste of time? Well, the proponents of Niksen suggest that it’s a curative to the overtaxed nervous system in cultures saturated with constant stimulation. To ‘do nothing’ is not only the antidote to stress but the fertile ground for creativity and good mental health. Letting your mind wander and letting your ‘being’ rest offers a reprieve from the onslaught of constant everything everywhere at every moment.

So I tried it. The suggestion is to start small so as not to be overwhelmed by the shock of sudden nothingness. I sat on my patio and set a timer for 5 minutes. The first minute felt longer than the month of March. But then I settled. By the third minute, my senses were heightened. The breeze felt like a caress on my face. I hadn’t noticed how green the plants were. And the birdsong. Heavenly. By the final minute, sweet memories surfaced and I just let them flow. And then my alarm rang reminding me to return to task, which suddenly felt a little less pressing.

Is doing nothing doing something? I’m not quite sure. But in the end I loved it and plan to do more of nothing. And I invite you to join me. Sit still today and try the art of Niksen for five minutes. Stare out the window. Let time idle away and notice how refreshing and delicious it feels to do nothing. My new motto just might be “Don’t just do something, sit there.”

Lifetime Guarantee

It’s rare for me to be in the same room with my mother and my daughter — three generations who live in different places and in different time zones.  Yet there we were together, gathered for a family event, chatting and casually looking through a newspaper together.  

My daughter noticed an ad for luggage which boasted  “lifetime guarantee.”  “Whose lifetime?” I quipped.  I looked around the table aware of our remaining lifetimes, statistically, anything from 15 years to 65 years.  My mother tilted her head, “Is anything really guaranteed?”  

I nodded in agreement.  Having worked with grieving individuals for over 30 years, I can tell you that neither health, wealth, happiness — nor longevity — is guaranteed.

Our family reunion highlighted impermanence.  As we reflected on longevity and looked through old photo albums, I thought, Who are these people in the photographs?  The little girl is now a stunning young woman sitting to my left.  The young mother is now a stunning elder sitting to my right.  I, in the middle of the intergenerational chain, feel amazed and grateful that we all three are together in this moment.   

In that moment of sweet sadness, noting the running river of time, impossible to freeze, I realized that the NOW was all I had, all I’ve ever had.  I  surrendered to that precious vignette, a string of prized moments, honoring each precious sweep of the minute hand in my heart.  A lifetime of irreplaceable, impermanent moments . . . . guaranteed.

Will Your Future Self Thank You?

If you look in the mirror, you will see the future self that your past self might have imagined.  Here you are.  Your today-self is the result of all the thoughts and behaviors of your past-self.  Your future self will emerge from the thoughts and behaviors of today.  

I recently heard the Buddhist author and spiritual teacher, Pema Chodron, talking about how you need to train your mind now to effect the habits and propensities of your future.  If you strengthen anger or laziness now, that is the future self you create.  If you strengthen patience and kindness now, that is the future self you create.

As I was at the gym, (an activity that I notoriously dislike), it occurred to me that I was exercising for my future self.  I just can’t find the fun in exercise even though I know it is good for me.  But, when I bring my future self into the mix, I am able to tolerate the experience and show up week after week . . . for her sake.

I know that my future self will have a stronger lower back and more energy if my today-self engages with weights and stretching.  And so, I’m doing it.  I can’t wait to look that future self in the mirror, year after year, and recognize the results of what I am doing for her today.  I think she’ll be grateful.

What will your future self think?

Searching for Silver

In March of 2020, life in Antigua, Guatemala (my new hometown) changed dramatically, as it did across the world.  We went into a lockdown the likes of which no one had ever seen.  Doors around the city were shut and shuttered.  Virtually nothing was open — no restaurants, hotels, shops, gyms, parks, pools, churches, or markets.  The rules of the lockdown meant that we had to be in our homes by 4pm every day.  And no one could leave their home on the weekends at all, from Friday at 4pm until Monday at 6am.  To break the curfew would risk jail time.

The expat adventure that my husband Daniel and I had embarked upon a mere three months prior had taken a sharp turn.  We  shook our heads in disbelief.  Not only had our lives changed but the lives of everyone around the world had changed as well.  There was global illness, death, fear, and uncertainty raining upon us like a mist.

At first, for me, there was fear.  Then grief.  Then restlessness.  Then curiosity.  Where could the silver lining be for me, for the collective us, for the world? I wondered.  While I am a staunch proponent of acknowledging our grief, leaning into pain, and honoring our feelings, I am also confident that silver linings abound everywhere.   We simply have to train our mind to search for the silver.  The practice of searching for silver means to find and focus on the light out of darkness, the hope out of despair, and the positivity out of doom.

For me:

1–Daniel and I got to spend a lot of undivided time together.  After more than a decade of raising children together and having lived life at a breakneck pace, we finally had time together with time to spare.  And we were nourished by love.

2–I was inspired to write another book, since that is what happens to writers with extra time on their hands.  Six months later, I have a manuscript called “Spiritual Grief:  From Suffering to Higher Healing”, which is ready to publish (and should be available in 2021).  I hope it will be helpful to many grievers around the world.

3–With a local friend, we initiated a fundraiser called the “Help Your Neighbor” drive and have been able to raise over $20,000 to assist impoverished families in Guatemala who were devastated by the economic toll of the pandemic in Antigua.

For the world:

As we live into and through these historic events, time will tell what silver linings will emerge.  I pray that our collective pause will help us focus on what is truly important: love over greed, contentment over growth, time with loved ones over nonstop busy-ness.  And I hope that collectively we will birth an era of higher consciousness and respect for our sacred connections.  We really are all united as a global community. 

Look and see — where do you see the silver in your life right now?


Everything’s Coming up Roses

The flight took 10 hours.  That would have been terrific if I had been flying to India, but we took off at lunch and were expected to land within 3 hours.  I had plans for dinner!  But life had other plans:  7 hours of stuck-on-the-tarmac-delay, no food, crying babies, and thunderstorms all around.

I always ready myself for the opportunity to practice patience and acceptance when I board an airplane, but this tested even my limits.  Breathing deeply, I pulled out a tried-and-true gratitude restart:  the Glad Game.

I started with a few ground balls: “I’m glad I have water”, “I’m glad I’m not throwing up”, “I’m glad I’m not in a middle seat”.   And then knocked it into left field,  “I’m glad I’m not in pain”, “I’m glad I’m not trapped in turbulence”, “I’m glad we’re not making an emergency crash landing.”

In any challenging situation, we always have a choice:  focus on the weeds or focus on the flowers.   A little perspective does wonders when life throws a curveball.  I wasn’t happy to be delayed by 7 hours, but I sure was glad to be safe and alive.   

When you notice you’re not pushing up daisies, everything comes up roses.    

Peace, Ashley