Take A Look in the Mirror

Dressed up for church and then dressed down for spin class, my daughter and I spent a Sunday morning together. Post-spin we were sweaty and makeup-less but stopped at the grocery store to get food for what’s become Sunday night tradition, dinner for J⁴.

Parking outside the store, my daughter and I sat in the car for awhile, talking about how great spin class had been and what we should make for J⁴’s dinner.  Entering the store, my daughter looked down at her sweaty clothes and said,

‘I sure hope I don’t see anyone I know in here.’

I told her that I’d cover for her if she’d run into someone she knew. Although I had no idea how I’d cover for her, I thought my assurance would help her insecurities.  I walked through the produce section to the lettuce section.  I sent my daughter to search for avocados.

Returning to my side, my daughter rubbed up next to me as I inspected the lettuces, and she whispered in my ear,

“I think that might be so-n-so, but I’m not sure.  You both were standing side by side, and when she saw it was you, she grabbed her cart and bolted for the deli.”

Really? oh, dear.

So instead of me covering for my daughter, my daughter covered for me, seeing a person avoid me.  My daughter then saw the insecurities that surfaced within me.

I looked over at the deli and confirmed who my daughter thought the person to be.

What have I done to make someone want to bolt away from me?

What’s wrong with me?

What did I do wrong?

My daughter had gone into the store, worrying about running into someone she knew and instead saw someone worried about running into her mother.

Life lessons can be found everywhere – even in a Fry’s produce section.

Our own insecurities leave people questioning and feeling insecure, too – it’s universal.

We care so much about what if – what if that person judges me, what if that person doesn’t like me, what if that person thinks I’m avoiding them, and we care not enough about so what? so what if I see a person sweaty and makeup-less, so what if I say the wrong thing, so what if I’m not liked.

What about if I acknowledge others no matter what.

Who would you run away from if you saw them across a crowded Sunday morning produce section?  Why would you run away?  What is it about you that makes you want to avoid that person?


This week is the one year anniversary of my dear friend, Mark’s suicide. He died on July 21, 2016.  Along with teaching me about workouts and diet, Mark taught me a lot about life. Mark  explained, “there are three universal commonalities:

  1. we all want to be loved.
  2. we all want to get the joke.
  3. we all don’t want to be the butt of the joke.

“It is easy to dismiss people you don’t even see” – Canvas SF guest speaker

I believe by saying a hello, a positive acknowledgment or by smiling, we could change our world and heal our world’s insecurities from the outside-in.

We all need to take a look in the mirror, looking not at what’s perfectly reflecting in the mirror but rather at what or who we see staring back at us – what are we projecting into the world? It may be uncomfortable, but it reminds us of another universal commonality:

4. We all want to be seen.


“Trees of Life often symbolize growth into a beautiful and unique person. When trees are young, they pretty much all look the same. But, as they grow older, they weather storms and are battered by the forces of wind and water.

Their branches may break and grow back in a different direction, or the very soil beneath them will erode away, causing them to grow even stronger roots to hold on.

Over time, they become very unique and beautiful in their eccentricity and idiosyncrasies. They are just as we all wish to become – shaped into fascinating, intriguing individuals who have weathered hardships and broad experiences in life that have made us into who we are.” – Woot & Hammy


We are all imperfect. We are all worthy of acknowledgment.


Mark, I see you even after you’re gone. You’re missed.

Thank you for coaching me to look in the mirror and not run away.

Larger Than Life

I received a Facebook message from my friend’s father – call me at this number – in all CAPS. I knew it was urgent.  I tried to get a line out, but I couldn’t.  I went down to the Mexico City hotel’s front desk, asking if they could connect me to the States.  Finally, I got a line, but it was breaking in and out – barely audible, a faraway voice said, “Mark killed himself today.”IMG_9429

Parish of San Juan Bautista


My friend, a personal trainer, with a larger-than-life personality, who calls me, “Peterson” and who’s taught me so much about strength, about hunger, about desperation, about human nature, and about pain, is gone.

“universal commonalities are everyone wants to be loved, no one wants to be the butt of the joke and everyone wants to get the joke.”

“Slow down!  1-2-3 HOLD 1-2-3 release”

“The byproduct of pain is compassion.”

“You’re the only girl I’ve ever been friends with, Peterson.”

“If you can’t afford a speeding ticket, then don’t speed.”

He nitpicked me about my posture – “chest up, shoulders back and down, hands beside not in front of your hips – stand as if you’re being pulled upward by the breastbone,” and by listening and retraining the muscles, we healed my back pain.

He told me I was a pusher, not a puller.

He taught me about tapping out.

He hit my hand one day during training, hoping to motivate me to duck walk around the gym’s indoor track, yet it did the opposite. He pointed out that he never expected me to get silent and distant after hitting my arm. He kept apologizing, but it was fine – he’d pointed out a way I cope with pain. So often, he, to me, was a hand-held mirror, showing me what’s really going on inside myself.

And here I am, the day after the news of his death, standing in this church in Coyoacán, Mexico City, with the best posture I’m able to muster and trying to cope with the pain of his death. I picture him critiquing my spine alignment, and in the silence of this empty parish, I wonder if whomever put the gladiolus in the church aisles today is aware the erect flowers seem to have been delivered directly to me from my friend, Mark – celebrating our loyal, respectful friendship.

I’m able to embrace the beauty of his existence, not solely, the sadness of the tragic ending to his larger-than- life presence in my life.

Pain builds compassion –

pushing out the bad and pulling in the good.


August 6, 1970 – July 21, 2016