How to Minimize Love: Give it Only One Word

Sanskrit has 96 words for love; ancient Persian has 80, Greek three, and English only one. This is indicative of the poverty of awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling. Eskimos have 30 words for snow, because it is a life-and-death matter to them to have exact information about the element they live with so intimately. If we had a vocabulary of 30 words for love … we would immediately be richer and more intelligent in this human element so close to our heart. An Eskimo probably would die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love. Of all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it comes to feeling.” – Robert Johnson, “The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden“.

With that being said, I wonder how the English language can only have one word for love?  In one breath I can say I love nachos and in the next,  that I love my kids.  At some point, I began to believe the word ‘love’ was inadequate in some situations and thrown around too casually in others.  In an attempt to understand the depth and nuance of the love given and received in my life, I’ve been guilty of minimizing it without even realizing it.  I’ve tried to label love: first love, puppy love, last love; more, best, most love; biological, familial, relational, friend, cultural love; free love, easy love, complicated love.   You name it I’ve categorized it and in doing so minimized it by trying to quantify it.

The problem with this is that it backfired because in an effort to quantify love, I began to question the love that was given to me.   All of this labeling led to quantifying which led to wondering if the love received was real or strong enough, or it left me wondering where I stacked up in the hierarchy of love. If only I had had the vocabulary to discern between the various forms of love, perhaps, I wouldn’t have gone down the rabbit hole:-) Read More


Have You Ever Asked For a Sign?

Have you ever asked for a sign only to get one and then not be sure it was really a sign so you ask for another?  I’ve been guilty of thinking that I need three signs to really confirm the answer, but then there have been those times when the sign is so clear that I only need one. Read More

A Daughter’s Perspective: A Eulogy For My Dad

Dale McGinnis 1973 Marine Corp

Dale McGinnis
1973 Marine Corp

Five years ago today my dad, Dale McGinnis, passed away from brain cancer.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long.  It took about three years for me to come back to myself.  The interesting part is that I didn’t even know after a certain point that I was still grieving.  I just assumed I had lost interest in certain activities.  I thought the things I used to enjoy must have been a phase; my grieving wasn’t just below the surface, easily triggered anymore.  My emotions were in control and I was active and functioning just fine.  But then, I slowly got my ‘mojo’ back.  It was only as my interest in my hobbies returned that I understood my grieving.  I tend to do that; to think I am just fine when I am not.  I like to think of it as resilience.  Perhaps, it is my way of allowing myself to be where I need to be.  I accepted my grief without even knowing it, but was able to appreciate it for what it was, even if it was after the fact.  I will always miss my dad everyday and be forever grateful that he was my dad.  Follows is the eulogy that my five sisters and I wrote together for my dad’s memorial service.  We all stood on stage together as I delivered the following message…

In Loving Memory Dale McGinnis Nov. 2, 1954-Jan. 30, 2011

In Loving Memory
Dale McGinnis
Nov. 2, 1954- Jan. 30, 2011

 A Daughter’s Perspective

  A Eulogy for Dale McGinnis

By Brandi Helligso in collaboration with her sisters

How do we say goodbye to our dad? He was our greatest protector, defender and rescuer.  It doesn’t seem possible that anyone could possibly understand the depth of our love and reverence for him.  He knew our souls and loved each one of us for who we are.  He knew our hearts and our strengths and didn’t compare.  And we knew his love was just as strong for each and every one of us, yet his bond felt entirely unique to us.  We were all so proud he was our dad.
As sisters we always want the best for each other. We are each other’s cheerleaders.  We don’t compete, have sibling rivalry or jealousy.  How is this possible?  With six girls – really?  It’s true.  We are this way because of our dad.  We never had to vie for his affection and we never kept score.  He showed us his love the best way he knew how and we always got the best of what he had to offer, and that meant different things for each daughter.  We loved that about him.  We were all treated as individuals.  One of his last wishes was that we would always stay together, don’t fight and always love each other.  Dad – you don’t have to worry.  You’ve already instilled that in us.
We’d like to honor our dad today by sharing with all of you what we learned from him and what we’ll miss the most.
He taught us so many things. So, let’s begin with the basics.  Always brush your teeth.  It didn’t matter if we got home from a long road trip, we were always marched into the bathroom to brush our teeth before bed.  Always return something in better condition than when you borrowed it.  He taught us how to be resourceful and make do with what you have.  We learned that “10 bucks an hour” seems to be the going rate for just about anything.   There’s been a lot of labor performed for “ten bucks an hour”.   If you party all night – you can’t sleep all day.  As dad would say, “party all night, sleep all day – I don’t think so!”
He taught us perseverance in that you have to work for what you want in life. And sometimes you gotta fight for it, don’t let anything or anyone get in your way.  He told us to always chase our dreams.  Don’t let an opportunity pass you by.  If it doesn’t work out, move on and try again.  Eventually, something will work out and you’ll never have regret because you won’t have to look back and wonder what if.
Always keep your word. Be brave.  You are not better than anybody else.  Everybody falls down sometimes – treat them with dignity and respect.  He really set the standard for what a father’s love and responsibility should be.
The things we’re going to miss the most begin with the simple phone calls. Phone calls usually started something like this, “what do you need,” or “hey check this out,” or “what do you think of this idea!” His excitement and enthusiasm was contagious.   He was the cool dad that was always out with his girls because he was invited.   He was the life of the party and made everything more fun.  Dad was all about making memories.  He put so much effort into showing people a good time, but he loved it, he was loved for it – and he was good at it.
Dad was the best story teller, and he always had one.  The best part is he never embellished.  Even if he wasn’t presented in the best light, he always told it like it was.  He had the best sense of humor. We’re gonna miss laughing with him.  We’re gonna miss Harley rides with our dad. We’re gonna miss running errands with our dad, which were usually paid at “ten bucks an hour”.
We’re gonna miss the man who always had our backs no matter what. Whatever emotion we were feeling he validated it whether we were right or wrong – it didn’t matter.  If we were angry, he was angry. If we were excited, he was even more so.  We could tell him anything.  He believed in us and we trusted him.
What we’re gonna miss the most though, is the anticipation of his arrival. He was always the one we would look for to arrive at any given event.  We’ll miss his smile and the pride we felt when he entered the room; that instant connection. Only then, could we relax and really enjoy the moment.  Do all daughters feel this way about their dad?
In closing, I want to give an explanation. Over the years, people have always commented to us and complemented our dad on the fact that we all turned out so well.  We would just smile and say thank you.  They all knew our dad raised us right, but you could tell it was always said with a sense of wonder.  I get it, believe me.  We had a pretty unconventional upbringing to say the least.  But, the reason we all turned out so well is because his love for us was so strong that he would have laid his life on the line for us without question.  I know a lot of parents feel that way about their kids, I just don’t know how many kids really know it.  We did.  When you have love like that how could you disappoint?
Dad, we love you. Thank you for your unconditional love.   Until we meet again we’ll be forever missing you…


How ‘Bout Them Resolutions?

New Years Resolutions:  Why they Fail and How to Succeed

imageBy now, about 1/3 of the people that set a New Years resolution have already ditched the vow.  By the end of the year, statistics show that only 8% will have stayed the course.  How about you?  Maybe you didn’t make a resolution (55% of Americans don’t).  Why not?  Is it because you feel it is pointless and doomed to fail?  Or, if you intend on making a change you simply set a goal and get it done- no need to wait for the  New Year to begin! Resolutions can be for everybody, made anytime, especially when it is a vow we are actually looking forward to or growing from. I know why resolutions fail and how to actually succeed at following through.image

Resolutions fail because we often focus on the parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of, however the habits that got us to our place of shame may actually be quite enjoyable.  For example, let’s say you love to shop, but you are ashamed of your debt.  Or, maybe you love great food and baking, but you’re ashamed of your weight.  So you vow to get out of debt or lose the weight, and in doing so you will deprive yourself of the enjoyable act that brought you to the place of shame.  Yes, maybe the change does need to happen, but you dread what it will take to make the change.  Inevitably you fail your resolution, feel guilty and say terrible things about yourself to yourself and find yourself back where you started.  The typical resolution is a catch 22 and self-sabotage waiting to happen.  It’s time for a resolution revolution! Read More

A Letter To My Dear Friend…

sunset rollercoasterMy Dear Friend,

It hurts my heart to see you suffer like this.  Watching you go through this is like watching someone on a continuous roller coaster ride that they just can’t get off of.  I wish I could offer you some sage advice or wise counsel to help you through your suffering.  But all I can come up with is what we both already know; that God has a plan, and even though we may not understand it until hindsight, we trust, we both know that all of this is not for nothing.

What I can offer you though, is my presence as you go through this tough time.  I promise I won’t be uncomfortable in your pain as you lay it our there bare for me and all to witness.  I will listen, I will be here for you.  However, what I cannot offer you, is co-miseration in your pain.   Because doing so would prolong the ride, and hold you there suspended in your suffering.  It doesn’t matter though, you’re not looking for pity, you are wise.  I see you looking for a way through the suffering, to wholeness.  To get off the ride.  Perhaps, that is why we are friends.  We can empathize with each other on the deepest level, revealing our vulnerabilities and pain without fear of judgment, while at the same time working to make ourselves whole.  We help each other see our blind spots.  The dark places we need to bring into the light of day in order to become whole.  Healing isn’t easy, it requires ripping off the bandage and letting the air in. Sometimes though, it just has to get worse before it gets better.  Maybe it’s the only way to becoming whole again.   It is known that the most painful experiences help us grow the most. We understand that.  Even though we may not understand God’s plan;  we trust, we both know that all of this is not for nothing.

What I want you to know is that I am so proud of you, at how far you’ve come.   I am proud of you for recognizing the pattern that’s been showing up throughout your life, though disguised, it’s played out in many forms  and you’ve come to recognize it.  This time though, it is playing out at the highest octave and the stakes are high, but it’s not your fault.  Maybe the pattern has repeated itself because you couldn’t recognize it or deep down you didn’t want to recognize it, because you weren’t ready to deal with it, you weren’t prepared.  Perhaps, the pattern has repeated itself so that you could learn what you needed to learn in small doses to prepare yourself for what you have to face now.  It really doesn’t matter how you became aware, all that matters now, is that you are aware because everything you hold dear is at stake. You are being pushed into action and this time, with eyes wide open.  You’re determined to rip off that bandage, heal and move forward.  To get off that rollercoaster.  God has a plan and you are exactly where you are meant to be in this very moment.  I know this because I trust and I know that all of this is not for nothing.

I want you to know that I admire your strength and courage to look within for the answers. You’re not placing blame on outside circumstances or blaming another person.  Your ability to vent without complaining shows your resolve, that you understand that what you have to endure today doesn’t have to be your future.  I can see that you are gaining traction and this ride is almost over.  You will get through this and you will be the better for it.  And though it may be a long ways off, perhaps someday you’ll even come to appreciate the experience; to see the silver lining in this part of God’s plan.  For now, just trust and know that all of this is not for nothing.

With warm love and regards.

Yours in Friendship,


Friends, Dreaming and Vulnerability

I had an interesting dream the other night.  It was brief, but very deep.  I dreamt of an old friend.  You know, one of those friends that will probably always weave their way in and out of your life, but you don’t have a close friendship with anymore?  Anyway, that was the kind of friend I dreamt of.

In my dream, she pulled up in a small convertible car with the top down.  She had a big smile on her face and she was all made up.  Her make-up was beautiful and what I noticed right away was her lips.  She was wearing wine colored lipstick. I was standing on the sidewalk as she pulled up and I exclaimed, “You look so pretty!”.  My first thought was yes, she looked very pretty but it was unusual for her to be so made up and especially wearing lipstick.  Regardless, she did look pretty and I wanted to compliment her.  She said, “Thank you!”  with a smile, but her look immediately shifted.  And here is where it got deep…

After the compliment, her eyes began to plead with me.  Our eyes locked in an intense exchange.  She said so much in her  gaze, of almost despair, that I understood everything she was conveying to me without words being expressed.  Her eyes seemed to say…

Read More

Showing Up is a Choice; Choose Wisely

presenceAs the busy summer comes to a close and the routine of school begins I ‘ve been reflecting on the whirlwind of activity over the past few months and how fast the summer has passed by.  With a family and work, there are many commitments, celebrations, invitations and events to consider attending or declining.  In all actuality, this is a year-round consideration for me, but recently my wounded, inner-child was activated, hence the deeper reflection into said topic 🙂  I was hurt, annoyed and let down by someone because they didn’t show up for me.  They made a choice to show up for another cause, perhaps more noble in nature, but still a let down to me.

I allowed myself to feel the frustration and judgment I was passing, but I am glad to say that I am far enough along on my spiritual journey to recognize a trigger as a gift of awareness.  Awareness in regards to an area that needs to be healed, or maybe an area that I need to work on myself.

After allowing my negative emotions to run their course, I realized the message in it for me (not to be confused with a message for anybody else, unless it resonates of course 🙂 was that in my life I face choices all the time that require me to determine for whom I show up.  Will it be the noble cause that serves many, or the singular event that means the world to one?  Will I show up for the person who is really good at pressuring me to show up over the understanding, compassionate person who trusts that I know where I need to be.  Will I cave to the pressure of the wrath I will suffer from a strong personality if I don’t show up over attending to my own personal needs?  Will I choose the event for the person for whom I am desperately seeking approval over the invitation of the the one who gives me unconditional love?  Or will I flake out and not attend, because I just don’t feel like going, or ‘something better’ came along?  I may not have always made the right choice, but I am more aware now.  I can’t be everywhere and show up for everyone all the time, but I vow to make a conscious choice, will you? Read More

How Often Do You Say, “Sorry” ?

sorry‘Golden Tongue Wisdom’ – This is a  phrase my mother uses to describe the moment when you receive an important message from someone at just the right time for you unbeknownst to the messenger.  Follows is some golden tongue wisdom I received years ago in regard to saying, “I’m sorry”.

In the summers during my college years, I waited tables.  I’d come to work in the summer and insert myself into an existing rhythm that I felt out of sync with until I got my bearings.  I would often apologize for bumping into someone or being in the way.  One day one of my fellow servers snapped at me.  She said, “You don’t always have to say you’re sorry for everything!”  I have to admit, that stung! But, she was right.  Thank you Theresa 🙂

As it is in my nature to ponder such things, I really thought about she said and I’ve come to this conclusion about apologies:

1.  They’re often thrown around without much thought or meaning.


2.  A specific sincere apology means the world; a true act of redemption.

Have you ever been asked to apologize and you had to ask, ” for what?”  only to get in return that you should know?  Um, okay, I can apologize but it will mean absolutely nothing.  If you have been the requester of such an apology how did that empty apology feel?  I’ll bet you didn’t fully accept it.

Here are my thoughts regarding apologies…

If you believe you deserve an apology, have the courage to state why.  Only then will the requester and giver of said apology be on the same page.  Just know that it is possible you may not get the apology you want, but at least it will be sincere and not an empty apology that means nothing anyway.

It is also possible that you do deserve an apology but the person who owes it has no idea.  If this is the case it can play out in a few different ways. First, the offender is oblivious of their actions and how it affected you.  If you have the courage to state why you would like an apology you may get the apology you request and the offender will sincerely feel remorse.  Or, you request the apology an are met with, “I am not apologizing for that.” Or, perhaps you both need to apologize .  If this is the case you’ll need to be the first to suck it up and sincerely apologize.  Own your part and it will likely be returned, but then again, it may not.

I have personally been on all sides of an apology.  Thanks to the golden tongue wisdom I received so many years ago I make my apologies count.  Quality over quantity.  My husband says I have a hard time apologizing, but I’d like to think I conduct myself with a high level of integrity, therefore limiting my need to apologize 🙂  Perhaps, we are not on the same page as to what an apology should be for exactly!  My tip:  if you read the Four Agreements by Don Miguel and actually try to live by those 4 precepts, you won’t have to do much apologizing 🙂

So here is the deal when it comes to me and apologizing…

I will not apologize for my presence, or speaking my truth.  It may run counter to your beliefs, but a difference of opinion does not warrant an apology.  Sometimes people will be offended when you stand in your own personal truth.  Oh well,  being offended is a choice.  I’ve learned that some people by nature tend to be offensive and it isn’t personally directed at any one person in particular.  I do not think I am one of those, but maybe at times I am.  If you find yourself offended and deserving of an apology from any of the above mentioned scenarios, you must ask yourself if you were directly insulted or attacked.  If not, you probably won’t get the apology you expect.  It is just a difference of opinion.  So agree to disagree, it wasn’t directed at you.

Now onto the good stuff of what apologies are meant to be made of… Read More

The world has…


“The world has so many lessons to teach you.  I consider the world, our earth, to be like a school , and our life, the classrooms.  Sometimes on our planet life school, the lessons often come dressed up as detours and road blocks and sometimes as full blown crisis.  And the secret I’ve learned to getting ahead is being open to the lessons.”

-Oprah Winfrey

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Yours Truly,


Desires: Ego vs. Soul

I’ve learned how to distinguish who is running the show when it comes to pursuing a passion.  Ego pursuits and soul pursuits often begin in much the same way with the initial spark of inspiration and excitement.  It isn’t always easy to tell if your ego is running the show or if your authentic self (soul) is in charge.

Here is what I know:  Ego doesn’t like to fail, your authentic self doesn’t care. Read More

What’s a Seeker Anyway?

My mom refers to me as a Seeker.  That used to bother me because I thought that referring to one as a seeker implied that they were lost, and I’ve never felt lost.  Even though she praised me for being a Seeker, I assumed she considered me lost and wandering.  And then, in 2012 I read Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss and I suddenly wholeheartedly identified with the Seeker archetype. Here is an excerpt of the definition from page 412 of Sacred Contracts: Read More

What is my Purpose?

grassWhat is my purpose?  In a word, authenticity.  I was born wired to explore spirituality with a desire to communicate and share what I learn along the way.   As it turns out though, many of the thoughts I ponder don’t have a place in normal everyday conversations, but I still need to honor my desire to express myself.  It is important.  After hiding that aspect of myself for years I began to realize that my purpose is to be true to myself.  It’s been about five years since I stopped hiding the books I was reading or holding back my thoughts in conversation for fear of not being understood, or looked at funny. Read More

Who Am I? Who Are You?

When Oprah Winfrey visited India and spent time with Deepak Chopra, he asked her, “Who are you?”  Oprah said that she knew he wanted to know who she was beneath all of the titles and roles she plays.  This was a very deep and profound question.  Oprah said it took her three days to answer the question.  Read More

Why Are We Here?

Isn’t that the million dollar question?  As I ‘ve stated before I believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience.  With that being said, I think we are here to learn, to evolve as soul; that Earth is more of a school where we are tested and challenged to grow.  I think our lesson is three-fold:  We come here to find our faith, find our purpose, and understand our karmic lesson. Read More


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