December Reflections

December was up and gone before I blinked.  It was filled with “catch-ups” through Christmas cards and annual holiday parties as well as more memory making trips.  Here are a few highlights despite the fact that next week I should be doing January’s reflections.  (Where has 2017 gone?  February can’t be happening.

Photo Review:

Christmas Eve Gingerbread Project — with CSI plot

Lantern Lift-Off for my Nephew, Caleb and Cousin-in-law, Emily’s birthday

Morning Walk in Veteran’s Oasis Park, Chandler, AZ. Love at first sight.  This lovely cactus I’ve never had the privilege of seeing before.  I wish I was around when it blossomed.  Now to figure out it’s name… Wildlife!  On the Way to Vegas…December 31st — Officially Happy 50th!New Year’s Eve on the Vegas Strip.  Bucket List!Quotes to Chew On:

“In this world, love is marked by suffering, crying out, and a deep and abiding longing for the day when God will wipe away every tear (Rev 21:4) Goggin & Strobel (

From Barbara Bradley Hagerty’s Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife

“If you want a healthy glow and a happy midlife, here’s a secret.  Give it away: your time, your money, whatever is at your disposal, give it to someone else.  Especially your time….As it happens, not all volunteering is equal.  Why you volunteer and how you volunteer actually matter (p. 300)…I must shift my eyes from the next step on the ladder, the one just outside of my reach, and scan the horizon for my unique contribution, that combination of storytelling and voice that I am tailor-made for — something, perhaps, that no one can do quite the way I can.” (p. 316)

Unspoken theme of the research on midlife…”autopilot is death, yes, you need to engage life with verve, but please note the fine print.  It’s arduous.  Flipping the switch from autopilot to engagement demands intention, energy, and effort every single day.” (p 356)

“But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the self nor of the other, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied for them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”                                                            from David Whyte (Friendship)

Songs on Repeat Mode:

Walls by Kings of Leon

Even So Come by Passion

It’s Quiet Uptown by Kelly Clarkson

On My Nightstand:

Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty (excellent!)

The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family: A Leadership Fable? About Restoring Sanity To The Most Important Organization In Your Life by Patrick Lencioni (not well written but some good information)

The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves by Curt Thompson (enjoying)

Me Before You Jojo Moyes

Yearly Reflections 2016

_dsc8330What did you do in 2016 that you had never done before?

There were two things —

I spent New Year’s Eve on the Las Vegas Strip with the 330,000 other people.


2.  I went to a professional football game.  We went and saw the Seattle Seahawks in the Los Angeles Coliseum against the Rams.  We lost but it wasn’t a major disappointment since the Rams are now our hometown team.  Disappointing was the 95 degree temperature mixed with the atrocious prices for water or a glass of ice.

IMG_6325 IMG_6329Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I kept many of my New Year’s Resolutions but lacked discipline in making a lot of progress on my memoir.  I hobbled along but hope to get disciplined in 2017 to get it done.  I also didn’t do well in meal planning, which is something I hope to change in 2017.  I did great with career, family and relational goals.

Did anyone close to you give birth?


Did anyone close to you die?

No but several good friends lost a family member this year.

What countries or new places did you visit?

Lake Tahoe for a great winter trip.

IMG_4330 IMG_4295 IMG_4293What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

I would love to keep my clutter decluttered.  I keep cleaning areas but seem to lack the organization to keep an area decluttered.  I know my busy schedule is one issue but I’m sure there are habits I need to adopt to internalize this process.  I know I keep writing this but I’m hoping that this year I will actually get a system in place.  One change that we will be doing is focusing on a habit every month.  For January we will be making a habit of cleaning off the kitchen counter every evening.  We will be adopting the questions — throw out?  if so, do it now.  if not, where does it go and put it there.

What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 11, first group launch of the institute my husband and I started.

Title_ImageApril 21, day Prince died.  He was such an important part of my childhood music, not to mention an incredible musical talent.

December 31 — parent’s 50th wedding anniversary

_DSC8406What was your biggest achievement of the year?

My husband, Dennis and I, launched the Del Valle Relational Institute this year.  We’d been working together for a couple of years on different projects and decided to create something that represented our work together and make something more formal.  Through the institute, we traveled to Dallas, trained trainers in our Experiential workshop, and did co-therapy with couples from around the United States who could benefit from our unique therapy interventions.  In 2017, we are look forward to returning to Texas, Leading a marriage workshop in Northern California and working towards launching more marriage groups.

What was your biggest failure?

My writing practice took a back seat this year.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

This year was a reality check in getting older — I injured my shoulder in February and am still rehabbing it some due to internal inflammation and muscular imbalance, my hip problems continue to plague me but the rehab I’ve done this year has been beneficial, which is encouraging. I also got extremely sick with a virus in November that literally wiped me out for three weeks since I continued working and then slept all day everyday every weekend until I was better.  (I’m not the best patient.)

What’s the best thing you bought?

A drought tolerant front yard, designed by Shannon Ahern Designs.  ( I LOVE the area and I couldn’t have done it myself.  I love the added touches of antique lights that replaced the “too small” ones that were there along with the fountain, which has been a fun attraction for birds of all kinds.

IMG_4257IMG_4237IMG_4949dsc_0887 IMG_4941Where did most of your money go?


What did you get really excited about?

Working professionally with Dennis.  We make a good team since we approach things differently given our personality differences.  With our different strengths, we are able to be effective in a variety of work situations/ circumstances.

What song will always remind you of 2016?

Two — Alone Together by Fall Out Boy.  Being someone who has a tendency to hide my stress and struggles, this song reminds me of the goodness of allowing others in to our craziness and not journeying alone through this life.  I felt like this year especially I really lived that way — reaching out to friends when I needed prayer and just confessing my crazy thoughts in order to diffuse them by others’ words.

IMG_4479Also reminiscent of this year was “I Have This Hope” by Tenth Avenue North.  No matter the chaos around me, including the fruits of terrorism, corruption, and greed, I believe in a God who parts seas, raises from the dead and lives inside of me.  This, is my hope.

IMG_4403Compared to this time last year, are you:

—happier or sadder?  Both — happier for the connection I feel to others as well as feeling like I’m living out my giftings, which is rewarding.  At the same time, I’m sadder because my friend, Danielle, is battling breast cancer.  It’s scary.  I’m also sadder due to the human destruction and suffering that people face today.  Whether it be civil wars, slave labor, ISIS, or simply greed, there is tremendous human suffering today in the world and for that reality, I feel burdened.

— thinner or fatter?  I would say fatter but not fatter “I need to buy new clothes.” (yet)  Being really sick in November, taking a simple walk was tremendously draining so I choose to rest most days rather than work out and this didn’t help the waist line (oh wait, it’s what I put in my body that didn’t help my waist line…that too didn’t help.). ;-).

— richer or poorer?  Richer.  We had a successful business year and I went from working two days a week to four days a week, which brought in more income.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish I would have done more yoga and stretching.  The type of exercise I do regularly coupled with the amount of sitting I do in my job, has really taken a toll on my hips.  I wish I would have been more disciplined in stretching after stretches of sitting as well as spending intentional time stretching (if only I watched more television! A perfect opportunity!). This year, I intend to increase my yoga practice, hopefully with my daughter, which will help this issue.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish I would have done less “I’ll get to that mail tomorrow.”  I hate dealing with mail and I wish I would have made a daily habit of getting it done and out of the way rather than creating stacks and clutter that takes hours to sift through.

How did you spend Christmas?

We had an extended Christmas this year.  We celebrated our immediate family’s Christmas on Christmas Eve, celebrating with good friends.  Eden made gingerbread from scratch and the kids did both graham cracker houses and gingerbread houses.  They made an elaborate village, complete with a natural disaster – a hurricane flood along with a murderer.  On Christmas day, we traveled to the Phoenix area to be with family and had a wonderful dinner and played games.

IMG_6940 IMG_6948 IMG_6956What was your favorite TV program?

Sadly, my favorite TV program from this year is The Voice.  It’s sad because I should be watching some of the wonderful dramas out there but I just didn’t make any time for viewing.  What makes me go back to the Voice is I can fast forward almost everything except the music and its something I can just listen to while I’m doing other tasks.

What were your favorite books of the year?

I really enjoyed Life Reimagined by Barbara Bradley Hagerty.  It was a reminder of how to live well, how to prioritize and what can help a person in mid-life stay out of the usual pitfalls of “just coasting along.”  Other favorites were Redemption Road by John Hart, Thirst by Mary Oliver, and The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller.

What was your favorite music from this year?

I really enjoyed Halsey’s and Alessia Cara’s albums.  Favorite songs were Castle and Hold Me Down by the former artist and River of Tears and Scars to Your Beautiful by Alessia.  I love the advocacy spirit of both of these women — giving voice to living outside of the mainstream and developing a fierce spirit.  Hamilton was our clear favorite.  It’s on constant repeat mode in the house over meal preparation and clean-up.

What was your favorite film of the year?

For whatever reason, maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s my occupation as a psychologist, this year I just needed movies to entertain me.  I didn’t want to cry, emote, feel anything other than joy when I went to the movies.  So, although there was tragedy in Rogue One, I LOVED it!!!  It took me back to when I fell in love with Star Wars at 7 years old.  My younger self is thrilled with my choice as favorite film — adult self, a bit sheepish.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

On my birthday, I worked this year at one of our marriage intensives.  Afterwards, we all celebrated with a wonderful cake, along with a gift – a silky soft scarf made by women in Equador, which also happened to be my favorite color, teal (how did they know?!), and then ended the evening with great company at a Dallas Stars game where we sat right behind the penalty box.  Super fun game!  I love hockey.  I turned 46 years old.

IMG_4314What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Playing more games and smelling more proverbial flowers.  There is a lot to be said for working hard, but we were also created for rest.  In fact, our brain integrates what we’ve learned during the night while we sleep.  It seems that rest is consistently underrated in our “get ahead culture” and I have lived my life as such.  I’m hoping that the next half of my life has a bit more “rest” activities that actually enhance my ability to work hard.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

I don’t think it’s changed much over this past year.  I love bohemian style, one of a kind, comfortable clothing.  I love supporting LA designers and haunting sample sales occasionally where a person can find unique items that never made it to mass production.  “Love my feet” was a motto — trying to wear cute but comfortable shoes to send some love to my feet who have worked hard all my life given my high arches.

IMG_7412What kept you sane?

Feeling the support of friends kept me sane this year.  If I am having a difficult time, I have someone I can reach out and contact no matter what day or time (though middle of the night interruptions are not my thing).  It’s hard to describe what this means to me.  It’s like being a trapeze artist and having a trampoline net underneath you at all times.  I feel the freedom of a bird, without the threat of a predator.  I’m not sure I could have written this in my 20s or 30s even though I think I did have the support of friends and family.  It’s only now that I’ve needed a net underneath me that my friendship network is deeply internalized and taken for granted (in an attachment sort of way).

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

Confession has been a missing factor in my life.  I couldn’t have imagined the freedom and support that comes when we allow others into our darkness, anxieties, sin and joys.  Fear and shame are life-destroyers that can be annihilated through confession.  It too can be a reliable “net beneath me” that can keep loneliness, depression and shame at bay.