Yearly Archives:2017

Finding Peace Within–and Without–Nature

By Lisa Purk
Guest Contributor

At home, I have a serene backyard space that is quiet and private and includes a small pond with a waterfall. When I listen as the water splashes over the rocks, I experience a great sense of peace. It is my habit to retreat there in the early morning. Peace also finds me when I bike along a river trail, hike in the woods or walk the beach at sunrise.

Given the opportunity, I will always enthusiastically invest my time in these activities. Peace arrives in my heart naturally and unencumbered in these places.

As the sound of flowing water, the feel of a gentle breeze or the crunching of leaves and rocks beneath my feet enters my mind space, the stresses and worries of everyday life fall away. Nature becomes my tour guide, leading me on the path to my soul and to the deepest recesses of my heart. Peace is always one of her destinations.

But as enjoyable and rejuvenating as these escapes are, they are relatively brief in their duration. Relative, that is, to time spent in daily life activities.

I, like you, have a home and a family I love and desire to care for in meaningful ways. My business, as with your chosen career, takes time and attention to grow. My daily realities are like yours: laundry, meals, errands, bills, cleaning, landscaping…the list goes on.

No matter how well we attempt to plan and order our lives, we each also face larger stresses and worries. There are more tasks than time to complete them. Decisions are pending but clarity is lacking. Unexpected bills, relationship conflicts and health concerns all weave their way into our lives when we’re not looking. 

As much as we can all thrive from our rejuvenating escapes, we also benefit from bringing peace into our hearts in the midst of our everyday lives.  Nature is certainly a great tour guide. But she can’t always be there when stresses and worries invade our space.

Experiencing a flow of peace into your daily life requires you first be open to it. You must believe in the possibility. For many people, this belief must start with a mind shift. 

As you begin each day, affirm to yourself, “My heart and mind are open and receptive to peace.” As you do, think of an experience that easily brings you a sense of calm. In this way, you will be associating the feeling of peace with your words. The power of your affirmation is amped to new levels when you connect a feeling to your thought. This simple practice, done consistently, will bring you into a space that is receptive to peace. 

To continue to experience peace in the midst of your busy days, nothing will go further than mastering your thoughts and word choices. Here are a few of my favorites to help you get started:

  • Thank you: It’s not only a polite phrase. “Thank you” can go the distance for settling your spirit. Whether uttering the words for something specific or offering them as a general expression of gratitude for the good in your life, use them often. When you find yourself in a place of stress and worry, use them as a way of embracing peace, “Thank you; I welcome peace even as I wait for resolution to my concern.”

  • All is well: This isn’t just a phrase of Pollyanna avoidance. It is a way of finding strength in the thoughts “I’ve done everything I can at this time” and “I have trust for the future.” Some of the things that cause feelings of stress take time to resolve, and this phrase will keep you grounded as you go through the process.

  • I’m happy for her/him/them: Consider how often your stress is related to someone else having something you want for your own life. Maybe you sense a note of jealousy or envy, or you pretend it doesn’t matter to you. But inside the pit of your gut is a knot that cries, “I wish I had that!” and “Why can’t that be me?” accompanied by a worry that wonders, “Will it ever happen?” You will go far toward achieving your sense of peace AND opening yourself to receive what you desire when you make a shift to feeling joy for others. 

As much as I love nature, she’s not always with me. But my mind, my thoughts, my words—these are always my travelling companions. They’re yours, too. Be certain the ones you’re taking along on your journey get you to the destination you desire…including your place of peace.


Lisa Purk, owner of Inner Fire, is a Life Coach who works primarily with women. With a strong background in Speech-Pathology and Business, Lisa applies her knowledge and experience from both disciplines to her passion as a coach. She is a sought-after speaker for organizations and businesses.

The Power of Parents Who “Just Say No”

By Mary Grace Musuneggi

Having been a single mom from the time Christopher was 9 months old, I know what it means to be both mom and dad sometimes. Many times. With Father’s Day in June, I happened to wander into a blog about single dads who are struggling to be both dad and mom. I needed to learn how to throw a baseball; they need to learn how to braid hair. I needed to learn how to build a swing set; they need to learn how to iron a princess dress. No one to share the tasks? Got to be it all?

When Christopher was in middle school and began to play football, I needed to learn the game. You would have thought with being raised in Steeler Country, I would know all about football. But that was not the case. I also thought it was really important to attend all of his games. And so no matter what was going on, whether the game was home or away, I made an effort to get there.

One game day, I was in a business meeting that was going on and on. I kept looking at my watch, knowing I would be late. Although I kept jeans and a sweatshirt and tennis shoes in my car, once the meeting was over there was no time to change. I ran from the meeting, jumped in my car, and headed to the field. Business suit, high heels and all, I ran from the car, through the grass (heels sinking into dirt), and climbed the risers congratulating myself for making it there before the first quarter ended.

Once the game was over and the team came walking off the field, I walked towards Christopher to praise him on some good plays. Before I could even say “hi,” he looked at me and said in a quiet and somber voice, “Can’t you dress like the other moms? Can’t you be like the other moms?”

Oh, how I realized at that moment how important it is for kids to be the same, to not stand out, to not be “different.” And having a mom run through the field in high heels and a business suit was just way too different, way too weird.

But my answer to his question was “NO.”

Being a parent is such a joy, but it is also an awesome responsibility. I learned that day—and Christopher learned that day—that sometimes the answer is “no.” And I think whether we are a single mom, single dad, a mom and dad couple, a two-mom or two-dad couple, grandparents raising grandchildren, foster parents, adoptive parents or any combination of a family, one of the best things we can do for our kids is “just say no.” No, I couldn’t be like the other moms. My situation was not like a lot of the other moms. No, I couldn’t dress like them when I had no time to change.

Life is filled with “no’s,” and that is just fine. Think how that makes us appreciate the times we get a “yes.”

No, you can’t sleep until noon.

No, you can’t drink underage.

No, you can’t skip doing your homework.

No, you can’t go to a college we cannot afford.

No, you can’t call in sick to your job when there is nothing wrong with you.

No, you can’t do [insert here], just because your friends can do it.

No, No, No.

Being a parent is an awesome and joyful responsibility, and the no’s are how we help our children to learn responsibility themselves.

To all dads who are also moms and all moms who are also dads: You are not, and can’t be, like any other dad or mom. You are you, and that is exactly enough.

The Secret of Motherhood & More? Just Be!

by Mary Grace Musuneggi

Although my mother passed away over 17 years ago, I still think about her every day. And with Mother’s Day approaching I think about all the special things she used to do. She was Irish and a great story teller. She found a lesson to be learned in everything I would do.

I had not yet turned five when I started Kindergarten at Boggs Avenue Elementary School in Mt. Washington. Kindergarten in those days was more about socialization and constructive play than educational courses. So every day we sang and played and did art projects. I really liked to play; I liked to sing; but my talents waned when it came to art projects. 

One day the teacher gave us a mound of clay and asked us to mold it into an animal. I tried and tried and nothing seemed to happen. My clay continued to look like a lump to me. Then suddenly the teacher came over, picked it up, turned to the class and said, “Look! Isn’t this wonderful. Mary Grace made a cow.” Really? A cow? It didn’t look much like a cow to me. A cow was certainly not my plan. But young as I was I knew not to contradict my elders, especially when they were saying good things…and when those good things were about me. So I painted it and let it dry, and in a few days I took it home.

I gave it to my mother, and I related the story of how the cow came to be. With a smile on her face she said to me, “That’s life. Sometimes successes come by accident. The important thing is to just be; show up and keep trying. And you will find that sometimes you are in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.” My mother was so wise.

I look at my life sometimes and realize that a lot of it, a lot of the success, came from me just showing up, just being, just trying. And I ended up in the right place at the right time.    

So I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. A day to celebrate all the times we have just shown up; delighting in being in the right place at the right time. Delighting in being the women that we are. To celebrate and be grateful for our moms who taught us to do just that.