Wandering Where The Giants Play – Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland


Sometimes you feel so incredibly small and that everything you are facing is so much bigger and harder than you can ever hope to handle. You feel like the world is going to crush you at any given moment.

On occasion, there really are situations in which your life will be upended and there is absolutely nothing you can do to change the outcome of those situations. But you can face it head on, with all the strength and courage that you can find within yourself.

Sometimes though, all you really need is to go wander where the “Giants play” and remember that it is good that the world is so much bigger than you are…because you have more opportunities to find different paths to take, than you ever would have thought possible.

We get one life to live.

Don’t ever settle for less than happiness, even if it seems impossible you’ll ever find it.



Love Rocks • Bellingham WA


For as long as I can remember, I have always been drawn to the ocean.

I spent the first 28 years of my life, wandering the beaches with my beautiful mother, in search of the “holy grail” – aka agates. I loved watching her big brown eyes light up and the full body smile that overtook her when she reached down to pluck one from amongst the seemingly endless array of barnacles, sea glass and every day equally beautiful stones that did not go unnoticed by her, but it was the agate she treasured most.

We would drive around for hours, walk for miles, scale cliffs, walk live train tracks and put our lives in danger more often than I realized back then, simply to find a new beach where no one else dared to go. It was like she was hoping for the off chance that somehow, we would find “agate paradise” and could simply plop down in the damp sand and have as many sweet little creamy stones as we could ever want, within arms reach.


Every year for her birthday, no matter the weather….all she wanted to do was go to the beach and look for rocks, have a bonfire and enjoy a picnic.  Here in Bellingham WA, March 11th is very rarely anything but windy, stormy and often times, downright miserable as far as the weather goes. Being the only fools to spend half a day at the beach in the middle of a windstorm, having to chase our potato chip bags across the sand before the seagulls stole them away, bundled up in our big poofy coats like poor “little brother Randy” from “A Christmas Story” who couldn’t put his arms down and laughing through chattering teeth… just so we could find the “Mother of all agates” for Momma for her birthday, brings nothing but warm memories for me.


She passed away in 2002 when I was just 28 years old, after a long fought battle with her fourth round of cancer and it wasn’t until after she left us that I started to really think about how much time she spent at the beach and how it seemed to be the one place where I could go after she passed away, where I felt the closest to her…even if I was just sitting in an emotional heap, sifting rocks through my fingers for an hour.

Boulevard Park, at “home” in Bellingham WA, became my “Momma” spot where I would walk the beach for a bit and then go find my way under the boardwalk where no one could see me cry and the waves crashing on the boulders around me, muffled my sobs.

Over the years, I started noticing that I was not the only person wandering the beaches alone with their head hanging low, hoping to hide tears that left salt streaks on their cheeks. I passed too many  faces filled with worry, anxiety, fear and grief. I noticed the people sitting on the edge of the water, appearing to watch the sunsets along side of me – but knowing that familiar glassy eyed look, meant they were no where near me, but were off in a memory of another time and place, wishing they could go back.


I watched the single parents struggling to keep up with a tiny explorer while trying to hold themselves together and hide their pain and envy at watching all of the two parent families who oozed love all over the playground.

I noticed the elderly that walked alone… slowly, painfully…sometimes with tiny dogs in tow, sometimes being towed by a snorting, equally gray-haired mass of fluff…just to feel alive for a while and to hear someone else’s voice besides their own.

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Discovering that “My” place to “ponder and wander” was home to so many others who went there to emote, think and sometimes to forget…gave me a new way to honor my mother in a way that would have made her eyes light up the way they used to when I would come running back toward her on the beach, oblivious to my skinned and bloodied knees – holding out the “Mother of all agates” that I had risked my life to get, just for her.

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Now, instead of wandering my “Momma spot” to hide myself away to have a good cry – I walk along the path, pulling painted stones from my pockets with little messages I have written on them. I leave them along the way for those that are hanging their heads to hide their tears that are falling… for whatever reasons, the ones that are feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders and just need a little “something” to remind them that they are stronger than they think they are and for the people who just needed to know that there are others out there in the world, who really do care…and they aren’t as alone as they feel.

I don’t cry when I go to the beach anymore.

I smile and I remember that a single beautiful stone, found in a sea chaos, relentless winds that threaten to knock you down and days that chill you to the bone – can bring warmth and joy to the person that finds it.


Follow my treasure leaving adventures on instagram and see where I have left little bits of love along the way. – PocketSizedPhilanthropy

A Simple Gift And A Treasure For A Lifetime


From the time I was very young, I dreamed of traveling around the world and taking pictures of all of the beautiful places and people I had only ever gotten to see in the stacks of  old National Geographic  magazines that my step-Grandpa “Grandpa Lindsey,” had in his treasure collection in the basement. My little sister and I used to go explore and play down there amongst the piles of “everything” – while the parents and grandparents were upstairs, doing whatever it was that grown ups did when they got together in the 80’s that “wouldn’t be any fun for kids.”

So while they sipped on various adult beverages and smoked cigarettes and talked about “big people stuff”, my sister and I would dig through the old trinkets, play dress up with the trunks full of “old people” clothes and then while she found the porcelain dolls and the stash of tiny little Avon mini flocked teddy bears to play with, I made my way to the corner of WONDER AND AWE where Grandpa kept his towers of National Geographic magazines… where I would get lost in there for hours.

Most 10 year old girls would have rolled their eyes and mumbled a forced “Thank you…” when they opened their Christmas gift to find a piece of paper that said “Your very own National Geographic Magazine subscription will be delivered right to your house just for you!” – but I remember looking up from that hand written note and locking eyes with Grandpa Lindsey and watching his face light up as he watched the joy spread over my face as I tossed the box off my lap to run over and wrap my arms around his neck and hug him with all my might.

So you can plan your adventures someday and take pictures of it all.” He whispered into my ear.

He passed away in 1988 when I was 15 years old and a sophomore in high school where I was using my magazines to make the most beautiful History Reports a teacher ever did see and half the time, even though I was assigned one country to do my report on…poor Mr. Jabbora or Mr. Ames had to sit and grade the other 2-3 “Extra credit” reports I did on top of the required paper, just so I could cut out more beautiful photos and share about another country I had learned about. I was sad that I was not going to be able to do that anymore, as my mom couldn’t afford to buy me the magazines and I couldn’t very well destroy the ones in the library, just to make my history reports look beautiful.

My step-Grandpa had planned ahead though…and my treasured magazine arrived every month until I graduated. Grandpa had given me one of the best gifts of my entire life and one that helped shape me into who I am today.

He invested in my love of photography, art, culture, nature, science, architecture and beautiful human beings and saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself at the time…my desire to not just see the world and take photos of it, but to give love to the people  I meet, where ever I go.

I think about him often and every single time that I now finally get to travel and see some of the places I thought I would only get to visit in the pages of books – gifted to me by one of the only people in my childhood that really truly “saw me” and believed in my dreams along side of me.

I think about him every time I stand on a new beach and feel the water rush in around my ankles and the sand suck out from under my toes with the tide and I take a photo of all of the treasures I found while wandering and people watching.

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I remember his sigh and the way he would pat his lap to invite me to sit with him while I showed him the pages of endless photos I found of people who were hungry, scared or sad and the way he wrapped his arms around my shoulders while he explained how lucky I was to be born in a place where I didn’t have to worry about such things.

He told me that when I was bigger, I could help them myself, if I really wanted to.


I think about Grandpa Lindsey, every time I pack my suitcase full of painted rocks to leave for random strangers to find, where ever I travel to…and remember what he said when I asked, “How can I help them?

You’ll figure it out. I promise.” he said.


Maybe tiny little stones with happy thoughts written on them, painted shells and wooden shapes left in secret in places where many might not even notice, isn’t doing much to help all of the people I dream of helping and maybe it doesn’t feed their bellies the way I wish I could…but I have hope that it is somehow feeding their souls, one person at a time.


I have to think that if he were alive today, he would still pat his lap and open his arms up wide and invite me to go sit with him and show him pictures in books…except this time, they would be the ones that I took of the people and places I have seen and then he would hug me close and say “I knew you would figure it out.”

“May no gift be too small to give, nor too simple to receive, which is wrapped in thoughtfulness and tied with love.” – L.O. Baird

The Servers

Over the years, I have had many jobs in the customer service industry and by far, the hardest and most exhausting (Physically and emotionally) has always been “The Server.”

You get a mix of personalities at every table you wait on.

There are days when every single customer seems to have walked through the portal of hell instead of the front door and instead of being greeted with a smile – you are looking into the faces of the demon possessed patron who is determined to make you feel as miserable as their boss/wife/dog/children/car/teacher/social worker/client has made them feel all day and there is nothing you can do but put on your best “I’d really like to cry in your soda right now but it’s my job to make sure you have a great experience…even though I would love nothing more than to shave my armpits and cover your burger in my beauty” smile and know that no matter how polite, kind, sweet, attentive, accommodating or helpful you are – they will tip you less than a handful of change and attempt to fill your soul with ugliness.

Sometimes, you luck out and get the cute little old couple who, before they even take a seat, have asked you how your day is going and then tell you to “Take your time honey!” when you tell them that it’s lunch rush and it might be a few minutes before you get back to them with their drink order.

Sometimes you find yourself face to face with a “Hangry” person (Hungry+Angry…you know..when they have forgotten to eat all day and finally come in for what should have been lunch but is now well past dinner) and you can tell by their snappy short answers and their glossed over eyes that they are fighting the urge to shout “FEED ME NOW!!!” but their usual sweet selves refuse to allow their hunger to get the better of them.

There are days when you have a table filled with a bunch of rude professionals, who each order individually and want separate tabs and seem to delight in making you feel extremely uncomfortable and self conscious every time you lean over to fill a water glass.

Often, you are faced with the disaster that comes along with a young family who lets their child thrown tantrums in the middle of dinner rush because their crayons aren’t the color they need and who get up and leave the kind of mess that you should only really see in a natural disaster movie….cheerios ground into the carpet, ketchup used as finger paint, tongue prints on the mirror..do people let their children behave this way at home?

Sometimes you feel like dropping the tray of food you are about to carry out to the table of disgusting, foul mouthed jerk faces – and shouting “Get it yourself! I QUIT!” and walking out  – never to be seen or heard from again.

And then there are times, rare times…when you are having an exceptionally bad day and the only table in the place who has treated you with any kind of respect or kindness, has left you a thank you note and complimented your smile. Just because they knew you needed it or ..or maybe they didn’t know you needed it but wanted to tell you that you are beautiful – just because.

Those are the times when you realize that sometimes – people actually appreciate you and how hard you have worked and have completely changed your outlook on your day.

Next time you are out for a meal on the town with your family or co-workers or church group or…alone – take a few minutes to write a thank you note (Personally, if you can remember your servers name) and compliment them on their service, their smile, their kindness or something they went out of their way to do for you. Have your children color a picture for them on the back of  their place mat and have everyone write a thank you note…and leave it on the table for them to find later.

You have no idea how amazing it feels to clear a table and find a hand written thank you note from a satisfied customer waiting for you.

Sometimes – all it takes to change someone’s day – is a simple thank you…especially for those who’s job it is to “serve you” no matter how you treat them.


The Helpers

Sometimes we log onto Facebook to “Check on our friends and family” and see how much their babies have grown, if the cancer treatments are working, if they got the home they have been dreaming of, if there are new photos of their crazy dog destroying yet another couch, how much their gardens are flourishing or where their reunited band will be playing so you can finally get out and catch a show…and instead, you are staring at photos of things you can’t wrap your head around…video clips of devastating horror…something evil.

You suck in your breath (and you try to look away but you “Have to know…”) and you try not to cry and think about “What if that was someone I loved?” or “Oh no…do I know anyone that might have been there?” and your brain starts going a mile a minute thinking about all of the places you will never take your children again (Movie theater? Public School? Post office? Convenience store? Bank? Marathon? Parade?) because you are afraid that this could happen to you…to the ones you love the most in the World.

We can not allow ourselves to live in fear of these things. We can not deny ourselves the joy of doing things and going places we love – because of the “What ifs.”

There are ugly people in this World that for whatever reason – feel the need to destroy other human beings. Innocent human beings. Children. Families. Entire villages. Entire races and religions…

But today – when you look at those images flooding your newsfeed – look not at the blood stained sidewalks or the fear and tears on the faces of those who were in the midst of the chaos…look for the “Helpers” who heard a bomb go off,  had their ears filled with the cries of injured and terrified people, saw things they will never be able to erase from their minds – and instead of running away…they ran toward the destruction, putting their own lives at risk to do what many would not..HELP.

Look for them in the photos. Look at their faces. Remind yourselves that for every one evil human being who is determined to destroy a life – there are hundreds who would give their lives to save one.

Today – Instead of clicking on that link of yet another video clip of footage of something destroying peoples lives…maybe spend 1 minute writing a thank you to someone that has devoted their lives to saving yours.

You might be surprised at how much a simple thank you can mean to someone that probably doesn’t hear it enough.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the Helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers

The Trampled


When I was little, I was so shy that I could barely make eye contact with anyone, let alone speak to them…which made for some cute photographic opportunities (and quiet family outings) for my parents, but made it nearly impossible for me to make friends once I started elementary school…and it made me the perfect target for being bullied.

In kindergarten, there was a boy on my bus who delighted in telling me how ugly and “too small” I was every single day and made sure to sit in front of me so he could watch me cry all the way home. The bus driver would ask me if there was something wrong, but I was so shy that I wouldn’t even look at him, let alone tell on the “mean boy that broke my heart” and every day while I sat there listening to the insults and the never ending verbal abuse, I could almost hear the sadness in his voice.

In fourth grade, there was an older boy that used to come to the bus stop at the very last minute and find the smallest of us and push us down into the dirt right before the bus came so we either had to  go to school with grass stains or mud caked knees or risk missing the bus if we ran home to change. His sole purpose was to be first in line at the bus and even when we stopped fighting him for the number one spot, he still found pleasure in throwing mud at us or “accidentally tripping us” on his way to the glorious first position. He always seemed so angry…and so happy to watch someone else hurting.

In seventh grade, we had to move in with my grandparents and I had to change schools. If you thought I was shy before, surrounded by children I had spent nearly my whole life with, imagine how horrible it was to go to a new school in the middle of the school year and not know a single soul. I immediately attracted the attention of the bulliest of bullies.

She would walk behind me in the hall between classes and kick the back of my knees. I said nothing. She would empty her lunch bag chip crumbs into my hair. I said nothing. She would glare at me from across the classroom and leave me notes under my books when I wasn’t looking that told me I “Better watch it.” I said nothing. I let her bully me.

I had been bullied so much by then – that I knew that this poor girl had to have some kind of anger or sadness living inside of her that made her want to make someone else feel as sad and angry as she did and though I found myself uttering the words “I hate her.SO.MUCH” – I could never shake the thought of what it must be like to be her.

When I grew up and had children and made a life for myself, I often wondered what has happened to those bullies in my life. I have found 2 of them on Facebook. They actually “Friended” me and sent me messages to tell me how sorry they were that they treated me so horribly as children. It was incredibly healing.

But the last one? The last one was a little different. I went to the grocery store one day with  my little girl and found myself face to face with her in the cereal isle. I could never forget those eyes and how sad they were. She looked at me and instantly knew that I recognized her. She was a hot mess. She looked like life had only gotten worse for her (If that were even possible) and she looked at my amazing daughter who was happily waving at her and offering her a bite of her free bakery cookie and then she looked at me and burst out crying.

There I was, standing in the cereal isle with the bulliest of bullies from my childhood – wanting nothing more than to run over to her and hug her and tell her it was going to be ok.

We talked a while. She told me some things that had happened to her that made her the way she is today …and all of those years I spent “hating” this hurtful human being – were washed away and replaced with the urge to love her – because no one else ever had.

Today – instead of posting another FML status update on Facebook…how about you spend a few minutes finding someone on your “Friends” list that always seems to have nothing good to say, who always seems to be tearing someone else down, who always seems to be so angry about….EVERYTHING…and go say something good TO them and ABOUT them on their wall.

Sometimes those that bully us (or quite often…bully themselves even more so) – are the people that need someone to tell them how good they are at something, how strong they are, how beautiful they are, the most – because no one ever does – and so they spend their lives trying to make themselves feel better by tearing other people down.

Even if they don’t appreciate it – it will make you warm and fuzzy inside knowing that you tried to brighten someone’s day …even if a part of you feels like they don’t actually deserve such a random act of kindness.

Try it. See what happens. You may be surprised at the results.

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – Dahlai Lama