Hi there, Happy Mother's Day. You might recall that I have been adventuring in Croatia and some of the Balkan Republics. I have found myself hitting the ground running, literally! I arrived home a little over a week ago and collected my new puppy the next day. At the same time my son, Rick, invited me to participate in the Orange County Marathon last Sunday. Since my granddaughter Jill was going to run it, her first such event, I jumped at the chance to spend time with them.

Sunday morning in the dark, we three adventurers met up at 4:30 a.m. with our running shoes securely fastened to our feet for no reason other than a chance to challenge ourselves. We arrived at the start line along with some 12,000 other like minded enthusiasts. The air was charged with excited energy. Jill and I saw Rick off for his full marathon at 5:45 and before long the starting horn sounded for our half marathon. We were off! Jill and I smiled our best wishes and headed south toward Corona Del Mar. She soon pulled ahead, intent on running, while I stayed focused on my passion for power walking. As I found my stride, I could feel the smile covering my face. As the thousands of us wound through the early morning streets, the residents cheered us on. My grin grew wider. Dawn was breaking and the Pacific Ocean glimmered [Read More]


Let's Live Out Loud!

 "Let's live out loud!" Last night that sentence practically jumped off the page of the book I was reading as I recalled the spectacle of the week before when 11,000 of us lined the streets for the biggest, noisiest non-motorized parade in the whole of the United States! We thrilled to 400 prancing horses as we celebrated spring and the return of the swallows to San Juan Capistrano. Spell bound by the pageantry of 200 entrants, we cheered dancing horses, admired the nutty clowns, enjoyed the spinning tee pees, the 11 marching bands, troops of acrobatic girls, and energetic old time cowboys. Costumes, music, and rowdy antics; it was a festival of noise and fun. It was Americana living out loud!

I thought about living out loud in terms of my new coaching clients who have challenged me to help them to grow their self confidence and happiness. Life can squash down the resilient part of our personalities leaving us feeling bereft. I think it is important that those with wounded hearts take back their power and find the courage to transform themselves into having strong "warrior's hearts." A "warrior heart" is one which once broken mends stronger than ever. [Read More]


Gone Fishin'

As you might recall I have committed to training f

or my first full marathon (26 miles!) thus giving me more time than ever to reflect as I trek through the long miles readying my body for such challenge. Earlier this month, my husband and I lost a dear friend to cancer. My mind keeps returning to thoughts of her, on how well she lived her life; in joy and productivity as she modeled excellence for her two daughters. I think her life was her lesson. I keep coming back to how important it is that we be present in our own lives, not on automatic pilot. In a way, how we live could be seen as our ultimate art project. Is your life rich and vibrant, valuable, and enjoyable? Is it full of color and adventure?


Last week I was training along the shoreline at Crystal Cove and several surf fishermen were casting their lines in the  gentle waves and it reminded of another such scene I once encountered. [Read More]

I hope you go "Beyond"

As I clamored into the rickety old motorized rickshaw called a "tuk tuk" at 4:40 a.m. on a pitch dark October morning in Luang Prabang, Laos, I was about to realize a dream that had dwelled in my heart for a very long time. Inhaling the fragrant perfumes of  the tropical night, a smile played across my face. I recalled the hunger I felt across my teaching decades as I studied the world map mounted in my college classroom; I would imagine a time when I would be free to experience the planet. I hung on tighter as the tuk tuk bounced me along the rough road toward the day's adventure. One of many I planned to have in my life after 45 years in academia.


I felt fluttery with nervous butterflies as I readied myself to participate in an ancient tradition of giving alms to the town's Buddhist monks. Our little group disembarked the rickshaws at curbside where embroidered mats were lined up with pots of steaming sticky rice provided by our group's support. We were instructed about the seriousness of this religious tradition of giving alms in the hopes of earning good Karma. We were told it was imperative that we be properly draped in our silk scarves and exhibit the appropriate solemn demeanor. We were warned not to raise our heads higher than the monks' (we are mostly taller than they, so this required a lot of bending forward) and we were admonished not to look at, nor touch the monks as we presented our food. [read more] 

Love, Newfoundland Style

Donna with Cory, 1985
Donna with Cory, 1985

Friday afternoon I had the privilege of taking three of my 9 grand girls shopping for birthday girl, Elizabeth who was turning 12. I had thought of lunch, shopping, and a movie, but the girls’ had no movie interest. I secretly worried that I could not entertain them all afternoon with just the mall. Well how completely WRONG I was about that! Claire’s, where you buy earrings and such took, almost an hour by itself! Anyway, weary from the clothes shopping leg of our expedition, I suggested we look at the puppies in the pet store. The girls were delighted.


We were enjoying viewing all the breeds of puppies when the girls spotted a black 6 week old Newfoundland. “Mimi, Look! A Newfoundland!” They were proud of their discovery as they knew I had once had my own precious Newfy. The four of us stood spellbound studying the adorable black fluffball when suddenly the clerk appeared behind the cage and lifted him out! [Read More]

Trials of the Tooth Fairy - It Takes a Village!

Labor Day weekend found our entire family at our mountain cabin. Our grand daughter Katie, age 7, came running to a group of us and announced that she had lost another tooth! She was so excited! "Wow! We all responded with appropriate enthusiasm. Aunt Julie asked, "Will the tooth fairy find you here?"


In a confident tone Katie responded, "Well she always finds me at Catalina and when I am on my trips. I think she will find me here! I cannot believe that it fell out while I was eating an Oreo!"


 A little later her 10-year-old sister Ella came in and announced that she too had lost a tooth.


"Oh No!" I said. "What is happening to your teeth girls? Is it the candy?" [continue reading]


A Whale of a Tail

...I am keenly aware that these beautiful children are growing up so fast. I stayed in that "moment" all the way to the island. It was especially comforting after the two rough weeks I have been suffering. Suddenly two Saturdays ago I awoke with the vision lost in my right eye. The retinal specialist administered a shot in it and hopefully within a year some of the vision will be restored, but the point is that I was able to climb out of my own anxious knot of fear of losing my vision and glory in the moment...[read more]

Snake Charmers - Drawn to Danger


As an adventurer, I love nature hikes. This all began a few weeks ago, when my power-walker gal pals and I were striding through the hills of San Juan Capistrano, when suddenly my friend struck out her arm to stop me. "Listen!" She exclaimed. The rattling sound was so loud that I thought someone had turned on the sprinklers. This was dumb, as we were far from civilization: no sprinkers here! Holding our breath, our eyes darted and quickly spotted a very thick three-foot-plus rattler crossing the dirt trail just in front of us. Loud was his warning: stay back! And we did. Very excitedly, however, as it was a very loud rattling. That sent us into spasms of chatter for the rest of the hike. It was quite breath-taking. [Read more...]

The Great Catalina Marathon Adventure


Months before the Catalina Marathon, my marathoning husband, Ken challenged Jake to complete the 26.2 mile event with him. Jake at 14 had never considered such an arduous activity and had his reservations, but with both uncles competing and his grandpa, he was persuaded to sign up.   When the big day approached, Ken and both uncles, Rick and Dan, enthusiastically advised him on all aspects marathon. Jake must have felt a bit like a deer in the headlights with so many big men energetically initiating him into their passion for running.


The big day arrived, under cover of early morning darkness, the Avalon boat took ... [Read More]

A Valentine Memory - Pretty Woman

Twenty three years ago, my husband, a pretty conservative guy by nature, decided to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary by doing something out of character for him. To the family’s shock, he had the words” Lady Donna” permanently inked on his back hip! As a former mayor and high school principal this was so surprising that it became a source of great fun and interest to the entire family. However [read more]

Just Thinking about 2012

The new year can provide an opportunity to look at your life with fresh eyes. Maybe now is the time to reset your compass? Last week my husband and I toured some local university campuses with our oldest granddaughter as she thinks about her future. At one of the campuses we came upon this quotation by Franz Kafka, “The world will freely offer itself to you, to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” I am not so sure about... (read more)

House of Joy

Just two weeks out from Christmas and all around I can see stressed out holiday people. Parties and tree lightings, open houses and gift exchanges, trips out of town……..opportunities abound to socialize, or perhaps obligations abound to socialize? It is easy to get caught up in the fever of it all. This afternoon my son stopped by to return a borrowed table, his three girls were belted into their seats of his car in my driveway...(read more)

I listened with ears on my heart!

Last week the participants in my life coaching class were sharing a success they had enjoyed during the previous week. One lady, a mother of two grown sons, reported that when her son began his usual long monologue of complaints about his younger brother, that instead of trying to solve it or minimize it as was her habit...More...

Elephants and Water: A Mixture for Bliss

If we are lucky, there are a handful of particularly precious experiences packed into our memory. I know that the birth of my daughter was especially profound for me. Twenty-five years later, another momentous occurrence happened on a family ski trip. ... read more

Relationship Corner: Does He Really Have Hearing Loss?

I have pestered my husband for years about not hearing me, even accusing him of having a hearing loss, to the point that he recently had his hearing checked by a specialist! Guess what? He can hear just fine! He just does not listen! That news inspired me ... read more

For the Love of Students: A 45 year Perspective

Yesterday was my last day as a teacher at Cypress College, in Southern California. I am the last member of the founding faculty to retire. My mind skipped back three months to the life altering step I had taken the day I met with the teacher retirement counselor. I still ... read more

The Magical Classroom

I wanted to share this inspirational experience I had one day meeting up with some of my grandchildren. On this particular day, I had the pleasure of accompanying my daughter, Julie, as she came to pick her three children up after school.. You can probably remember the crazy energy and enthusiasm of all the children finally ... read more

Your Input!

Your time is now and it’s time for me, after 45 years in the classroom, to retool my life’s work into another direction.  Which of the following areas would interest you?


Workshops/seminars/personal life coaching in:

Personal growth:

  • "Survivor to Thriver: Human hardiness workshop for those were abused as children”
  • “Boot camp for energizing your self esteem”

... read more 


I can help you figure it out.

Life coaching: in the office, via telephone, or e mail. 

Contact Me Now!