Category Archives: inspiration

Portland Roasting


It’s National Coffee Day, and here in Portland, coffee is taken seriously. In fact, not surprisingly Portland is ranked the 2nd best city for coffee snobs.

Our households buy our coffee through a school program with Portland Roasting Company that contributes $4 out of ever $10 purchase directly to the school. Now if you ask me, that is beats a bake sale any day!

Most of us drink coffee, so this way we can do so and support our local schools at the same time. If you live in Portland, or even if you don’t, drop us a note and we can connect you with the organizers of the program and hook you up with some awesome coffee for a great cause.

350 bakery

I also have to share about the newest and most fabulous 350 Bakery & Coffee Bar in Washington, DC. Conveniently right across the street from where we just moved from, 350 Bakery is a fabulous addition to the neighborhood. I typically stay away from pastries, but if you are going to have one, it might as well be delicious! Plus the staff cannot be beat on the friendliness factor. It isn’t surprising, since Andy, their head barista, was actually trained in Portland. Stop by and check them out!

Enjoy a cup!


Becoming A Mama Bliss Coach

This quote captures the essence of creating Mama Bliss and sharing your passion with your family and beyond...

This quote captures why/how creating Mama Bliss for ourselves inspires our children and beyond.

I can hardly believe that I haven’t written about becoming a Mama Bliss Coach on this blog (I was honestly too busy with coaching school/practice). In June I completed a 12-week course that taught me all about becoming a life coach. The training reinforced the path I’ve been on as a Simplicity Parenting Coach (check out my debut interview with OMamas). It also taught me specific new coaching tools to work with Mamas on their path to creating more bliss. Mama Bliss Coaching delves into four personal areas of your life:

  • Self-care
  • Simplicity
  • Values
  • Creativity

I like to think of them as a hierarchy of needs, only it’s all about creating your unique version of Mama Bliss. Creating genuine Mama Bliss is about going deep within to get honest with yourself to ask where you are your life now, and where you want your family be…and then bridging that gap. Asking yourself who you are now, and who you know you can become. It’s a delicate balance of dealing with the chaos of your daily life, and persistently working toward your longer term vision. Finding ways to cherish the moment, express yourself creatively and discover what truly brings you bliss.

It’s about not getting trapped in the modern day “Busy Mama Syndrome” of doing everything for everyone else but yourself…since that gerbil wheel will only take you so far really. It’s about creating a clear vision of what you most desire and finding ways to fulfill your purpose. While I talk all about “Mamas,” it’s really about your whole self who happens to be a Mama.

Mama Bliss Coaching is a collaborative process where we work together to look at the areas of your life that currently cause you stress and gradually bring more and more bliss into your life. It’s a process, not a magic pill. But let me tell you, once you’ve begun the path toward Mama Bliss, it’s hard to turn back to the grind.

Now that I’ve found my calling, my work brings me joy. Rather than feeling like work, I’ve felt elated after each and every coaching session. Yes, I’ve felt overwhelmed at times by the amount of effort it takes to launch a business and keep my family running, I have a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that I am ready, willing and able to serve fellow mamas on their own paths of professional and personal self-discovery. I’ve attracted some amazing working professionals as clients, and am excited about supporting them as they reach their higher vision for themselves and their families.

Lastly, I want to share two exciting updates.

One, my very first podcast interview with my coaching school teacher, Ms. Kathy Stowell from Bliss Beyond Naptime. I feel eternally grateful to have found this coaching program when I did (last winter I was feeling pretty disappointed by the fact that leading Simplicity Parenting classes was just not the right model for the clients I want to reach…plus that I wanted to help transform the whole mama, not just the “parenting mama”). And thank you to my inspiring cohort of fellow Mama Bliss Coaches, a truly inspiring and impressive bunch of colleagues.

Second, I’ve just posted info about my very first Mama Bliss Beach Retreat, November 14-16. I’ve been hyping this up in my mind for sooooo long, envisioning the whole beautiful experience and can hardly wait to make this part of my dream come true…hopefully with you!

Wishing you Mama Bliss!


Identical twins approach finances differently

The Ghanaian symbol for twins is q Siamese twin crocodile
and means “Unity in Diversity.”

“Same, same. But different.”

This is a saying that is heard often in Ghanaian pigeon English, referring to something being both the same and different at the same time. That would be how I would best describe my twin sister, Darcy, and my experiences and relationships with money.

While we are identical twins, how we manage and deal with money is more often than not pretty different. I guess it speaks to the nature versus nurture question. I think we’d both say it is hard to pinpoint where things went differently, but would both agree on the marked differences.

To understand our differences today it is helpful to look back at our earlier influences around money. We both thought that the penny candy mini-tootsie rolls and Jolly Ranchers at the only store in our small rural town was a smokin’ deal, even if our mom wasn’t thrilled with heaps of candy. But somewhere after that we started to diverge a bit.

Even in high school I would have been pegged as the saver and Darcy as the spender. Me, unwilling to part with money for cool environmental t-shirts or CDs. My sis couldn’t get enough of either. When I did spend money it was definitely saving up and then spending it all at once.

College was definitely a defining periods around money for both of us. I opted for a more expensive liberal arts school, Lewis & Clark College, that I could barely afford. Darcy went to Oregon state schools as well as a year in Denmark. We actually both came out of undergrad with pretty close to the same amount of student loans (thanks to grants and paying tuition through on my side and a year in Denmark on Darcy’s side). However, while we were in school, Darcy got money back from her financial aid package and lived relatively cheaply while I worked two jobs to pay for a more expensive education.

Saving to spend was a trend that I kept on through college, where I worked two jobs throughout and saved during one semester to pay for the next semester of tuition. What I had leftover would go towards travel, saving and saving and saving, and then traveling until I was down to the end of what I had. All to start over again. I definitely recall returning from more than one trip running on E.

While I could go on about our various differences, I think the thing that intrigues me most is that from the outside we look pretty similar. Even if you spent some time around us, the differences would be subtle at best. It reminds me of how our underlying feelings toward money manifest themselves in our day to day approaches towards money, even if we don’t take the time to think back as to how those developed.

We are in the process of reflecting on those experiences, and will be sharing our money stories in a series of posts.


Miel (and Darcy)

Sustainable Family Finances
Growing abundance while living down-to-Earth

I am so happy…

Several years ago my Twin Sis turned me on to a life visioning practice that I’ve done a few times. Neither of us remember where she heard the idea, but we both like it.  Basically all you do is write a wish list for your life with the words “I am so happy now that…” at the beginning of each sentence, as if your life already has everything you desire. (Even though this specific practice doesn’t come from him, I encourage you to check out Mike Dooley‘s newest bestseller, Leveraging the Universe, it’s been just what I need to reflect on my life lately.)

I first wrote such an “happy vision” for my life in fall of 2007 (age 30, our Big Guy was 9 months). Now my life was pretty darn happy at the time, but I had a temporary job that didn’t pay much more than enough to cover child care costs and my student loans. At the time we also wanted to have another child soon, and our tiny house would have been hard pressed to fit a fourth family member. So, while life was very good on many levels, and I certainly didn’t have much to complain about, there were some nagging financial fears on the horizon. But I basically envisioned what my ideal life would be like. 

I consider this to be highly personal, my own version of Living in BlissI really debated about putting it out to the world, but hopefully you will respect what makes me happy…

November 2007

I am so happy now that I am creating an abundant and balanced life. I am so happy now that I am working to create sustainable communities in Portland, and making the world a better place. I am so happy now that I am working with creative and talented people who share my values. I am so happy now that Kieran is thriving in daycare, and enjoying a nurturing learning environment. I am so happy now that we are living in a beautiful and comfortable home in a friendly and vibrant neighborhood. I am so happy now that my yard and garden are gorgeous, and I am able to create joy and abundance in own my backyard. I am so happy now that I am creating a joyful social network of people who care about me, my family, and our values. I am so happy now that I am deeply connected with my extended family, and share with them my joy and enthusiasm for life. I am so happy now that we are traveling, and experiencing beautiful places in our region and around the world  I am so happy now that we can visit friends and family in Denmark. I am so happy now that I am fit, strong and energetic. I am so happy now that I am at peace in my mind, body and soul. I am so happy now that I am continuing to grow and learn as a person. I am so happy now that my college loans are paid off, and I’m saving for my children’s education. I am so happy now that we are driving a car that gets great mileage and is an example of environmental-friendly technology. I am so happy now that I listen to my inner desires, and make them manifest in my life.

February 2008
I am so happy now that I am able to proactively create my instincts in action. I am so happy now that I am living a balanced life, between a joyous family, effective and meaningful career, connected community, and expanded spiritual growth. I am so happy now that my financial priorities reflect my values, and I have enough abundance to create my own sustainable environment and share the joy of living with those in my life.  I am so happy now that I can live in the present, while planning for the future.

Fast forward a few years, and I can see that while my life circumstances have changed, my values are still exactly the same.

October 2011
I am so happy now that my family is living life to the fullest and growing up together. I am so happy now that our kids are in excellent school environments and developing their full potential. I am so happy now that Hubby and I have regular dates nights and occasional getaways. I am so happy now that we can spend more time together as a family and with extended family. I am so happy now that my career is established, and I’m able to use my talents and expand my influence in positive ways. I am so happy now that our home is as sustainable as possible, and our garden is flourishing. I am so happy now that my student loans, and car loan and mortgage is paid off.  I am so happy now that we have financial security.  I am so happy now that we have a beach house/retreat.  I am so happy now that we are able to invest in exciting projects and give to causes we care about. I am so happy now that we volunteer in our community together, and are connected at Grace. I am so happy now that we have a deep social network of friends we love spending time with and celebrate life. I am so happy now that we are able to take family trips to places we are passionate about and discover the world together. I am so happy now that I’m living with grace and ease, while making my dreams come true.  

Now the best part is that I actually feel like I am on the verge of having this entire statement be true! It will naturally be a process, and I don’t expect that any of it will happen overnight. I’ll need to be continually proactive, but with patience and perseverance, I have no doubt it will all be true.  

What makes you happy…how does your sentence end?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Autumn Abundance

Happy Autumn!

While it’s hard to celebrate the season in the midst of a busy work week, I am happy to embrace autumn

It personally feels like a much more transitional time than in recent years. Our Big Guy is now in Kindergarten and Girly is quickly growing into her potty training panties. Hubby is ecstatic about the arrival of honey crisps, our family’s favorite apple. Our family calendar is already getting full, and I’m doing my best to practice simplicity parenting.

Yet, with all this abundance, I’m also feeling a bit ambivalent about my blog writing. I’m having trouble finding a financial goal that inspires me half as much as our family trip to Denmark. We are continually working to cut our family carbon footprint, but I also feel a bit of a plateau effect. I still want to reflect on my journey, but I’m feeling a bit more relaxed about the venture. Maybe it’s just a post-vacation syndrome, but I’m more inclined to crawl in bed with a good book (loving Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed ) than turn on our laptop to check in on finances. Or better yet, enjoy the last days of sunshine, while harvesting our heirloom tomatoes.

Once I really reflect, I guess I’m feeling a bit isolated too. While I have a number of readers, blogging hasn’t created the community I’d hoped to create. I’m not sure why I ever  expected that writing into cyberspace would create deep seeded values-driven relationships. I have planted a few seeds though…;-)

I guess I just need this autumn to reflect, recharge, and refocus. 


Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.