Friday, January 4, 2013

What's in a Name? or "How I Conquered Google Apps and Changed My Own Last Name"

Normally my posts are about life, love, being one with the world, and similarly squishy stuff. Today, I conquered one of the last remaining hassles associated with changing my last name, and I want to share my accomplishment with the world!

I have a website that is powered by Google Apps, This account is not a premium business account, which means I can't create my own Google user profile for whatever reason. I understand that "free" generally means limited functionality, and that's OK by me right now.

Photo courtesy of

But I spent hours and hours last March trying to figure out how to change my last name as the administrator on my own Google Sites website. Couldn't do it. Searched forum after forum and read post after post with detailed accounts of how frustrated users couldn't do this simple thing. I grumbled and created a new account under "info," changed it to be an administrator account, posted a doc to my website that appeared under my new name rather than my old name, changed my old account back to administrator, and gave up on the whole mess. At the time, I admit I did have thoughts of "a system created by men for men," who generally never have to change their names or consider the extensive ramifications and complexities of said name change.

Today I couldn't figure out how to make it work the same way I did last time. Harrumph. So I went on the hunt once again for how to change my last name in the user account.

At this point, you may be thinking, "What's the big deal? You had that last name for 10 years. Is it really so bad that it would appear in tiny little type at the bottom of a couple of your website pages?" 

In a word, yes. My new last name, Hart, is part of identity and my brand. I chose it carefully. It represents me. It's fresh and whole and sums up my philosophy of moving forward in life with an open heart. The old name is, well, old. As in stale, dessicated, obsolete.

For all of you who know exactly what I'm talking about and desperately want your website to reflect your new identity, here's how to change your own name:

  1. Sign in to your site's control panel. Instructions here.
  2. Click on the "Organization & users" tab.
  3. Click the underlined name that includes the old name you want to change. Don't highlight the line that includes your name and all your account information. Don't check the check box next to your name. Click on the actual name itself, which appears in blue and is underlined.
  4. The "User information" tab will appear.
  5. The first line on that tab says "General," then your old name, then "Rename user."
  6. Click "Rename user."
  7. A text box pops up that says you are going to lose certain chat history. Not ideal, but OK.
  8. Type your new name.
  9. Click "Rename user."

It's done! Hooray! You are now officially the new you on your website!

Just to make sure all bases are covered, also change your name on your email account.

  1. Click "Mail" at the top of the page (be sure you are signed into your account).
  2. Click the gear icon on the top right quadrant of the page.
  3. Choose "Settings" from the drop-down menu.
  4. Click the "Accounts and Import" tab.
  5. Click "edit info" next to the line that says "Send mail as."
  6. Type your new name in the blank box, which will automatically be selected once you type something in there.
  7. Click "Save changes."

Whew! You are now officially the new you on your Google Mail email account. Congratulations!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Nothing but Blue Sky in 2013

Photo courtesy of

At the beginning of 2012, I wrote this post about being so proud of what I had accomplished in 2011 that I wanted to keep doing more of the same. I had no need to write new year's resolutions. What a fantastic place to be.

Every time I think it can't get any better, it does. This year has brought more joy, love, connection, and contentedness into my life than I knew was possible. So it seems kind of funny that this year I want to write resolutions. But they are the ones that are already etched in my heart:

  1. Love without limits
  2. Do the work that makes me feel good
  3. Listen to every one of my crazy, creative ideas
  4. Meditate, meditate, meditate
  5. Shine brightly
  6. Make art
  7. Take risks every single day
  8. Hold others, and be held

This quote from Christian D. Larson, a leader of New Thought, sums up my life philosophy and is also a strong foundation for resolutions:
"Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet. Make all your friends feel there is something special in them. Look at the sunny side of everything. Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best. Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. Give everyone a smile. Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others. Be too big for worry and too noble for anger."
This post was inspired by my dear friend, Amy Taylor, and her article about making 2013 one big party. Rock on, sister.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Under a Cornflower Blue Sky

Hiking at Barr Lake before the leaves came out this spring
These last two years have a been a wild ride. The grief part was not so fun, but the rest I've enjoyed more than a body has a right to. After I let go of the need to control my world (and the idea that I actually could control my world--ha ha), I had a lot more fun.

Talking to a new friend last night at happy hour, I explained my philosophy. Nothing really irks me, or if it does, it's momentary. Sure, sometimes I get down or anxious, but now I can recognize the old pattern (neural, emotional, behavioral, physical, whatever) and that it doesn't serve me anymore. The lesson of, "Notice it, sit with it, laugh about it, and then let it go," has sunk in after much repetition and practice.

"You realize that's an extraordinary claim to make," my friend, Adam, said, referring to my self-proclaimed ability to be content and happy 99% of the time. I looked at him and smiled. That's all I can do these days, smile and laugh. But he believed me. I could tell. There are some people you meet, and you immediately know they are genuine. He's one, and I'm one.

Finally, finally, I'm doing nothing but attracting the right kind of people into my life. These are the folks who speak their truth, have a deep understanding of how lucky they are to have the things they have, and can accept who they are right now while being open to change. Manifestation is a powerful, powerful tool.

And speaking of lucky, I haven't made a gratitude list lately. Here it is, in no particular order:

  • Friends and family who love me, support me, and challenge me to be a better person
  • My teacher and classmates in the year-long seminary program I am about to complete (see my website at for more info on my intuitive healing and spiritual facilitation services)
  • A beautiful community to live in, and the bike path I can hop on at a moment's notice
  • Sunshine, the smell of flowers and freshly mown grass, bird song
  • A reliable car
  • Healthy food to eat
  • My health
  • A certain little brown dog who lives with me
  • Technology
  • Music in its infinite variations
  • Really good stout beer
  • Consciousness and connection to the larger world


More recent adventures that are part of the new, "Let go and have fun" philosophy:

Messing around at the Stock Show in January

Visiting the tiny little house I grew up in this spring

About to dig in to a delicious dessert to celebrate the New Year

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Resolve to Do More of the Same in 2012

As 2012 approached, I wondered if I would feel compelled to make New Year's resolutions. I'd done it in the past, and it had been an effective way to review what I'd accomplished as compared to the goals I had set, and what I'd like to do in the coming year. But my new, more laid-back self recoiled at the thought of it. Instead, I wrote a letter to Santa Claus.

In the letter, I asked for a few things--some small, some large, some material things, some experiences--because in the act of asking, I made my desire for them real and the manifestation of them more likely. Sounds a lot like a resolution to me, only without the normal thoughts of, "Will I really do it this time?" or "If I can't make this happen, I'm going to feel bad."

But the more valuable part of writing this letter to Santa was the justification. Rather than putting myself neatly into a naughty or nice column, I recounted to Mr. Claus all of the beautiful changes I had made in my life in the last year, how I had let go of so much that wasn't serving me well, how I had grown spiritually and emotionally, the major lessons I had learned, and how I was just an all-around nicer person.

It was the act of writing what I had done to move forward in 2011 that made me realize how I had set the stage to continue that momentum in 2012. There was no need to make New Year's resolutions. I am already making my dreams come true.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fathers and Forgiveness

Recently, I heard Ira Glass, who publishes This American Life on National Public Radio, speak at an auditorium in Fort Collins, Colorado. He talked about why the stories he tells are so compelling and move millions of people. In the Q-and-A portion at the end, a woman suggested a story on estranged parents. She estimated that half of the people in the room were currently or had been estranged from at least one parent and wanted to talk about why that was and how it could be remedied, if at all.

Her take was that she wanted to tell her dad what he had done to hurt her so much. Ira wasn't sure about the story, whether it would have enough of an element of surprise to make the cut. As Lacy spoke about her experience, I started to cry. It touched a soft spot, as I had just reconciled with my dad after nine years of silence.

My dad divorced my mom when I was 30 years old and my sister was 17. His inability to have a relationship with me after that, or so I interpreted his behavior, had huge ramifications on my own marriage and my ideas about men in general. I tried to create a new and different relationship with my dad, but it seemed I couldn't connect no matter what I tried. I gave up. He gave up. We stopped speaking.

My sister, who is one of my best friends, continued to have a relationship with my dad throughout the years, mostly through sheer force of will. Over time, she built a friendship not only with him, but with his second wife and my now four-year-old baby brother. I stayed in the loop that way, but was somehow comfortable with the idea that I would never see my dad again.

As my sister earned her Master's degree in psychology, she started to see things in my dad that neither she nor I had seen before. Good things. Great things, even: open-mindedness, kindness, vulnerability. He went through his own trials, including suffering with polymyalgia and losing his job. I could relate--I had dealt with my own health issues and had lost my job four years earlier. I listened to everything she had to say about him with rapt attention.

Last year, my husband left our 20-year partnership. Through several transformational events, including months of weekly psychotherapy, regular yoga practice, bicycling like mad, and meditation, I was born anew. In the difficult process of extracting my life from my husband's--physically, emotionally, intellectually, financially, and spiritually--I learned a beautiful, quiet kind of acceptance of my life and everything in it. I sold my house, moved to an apartment, and began a new career by enrolling in a non-denominational ministry program.

I went from control freak to live-and-let-live, from CPA and business consultant to energy healer. I started dating and was amazed by the big, big world out there. I even befriended my ex-husband. Life was flexible. Life was good. It was time to talk to my dad again.

One sunny Sunday morning this October, I called and asked if it was OK to go up to my dad's house in the mountains to see him and his family that day. On the drive up, I felt completely centered and at peace. I wasn't tied to any particular outcome and was content knowing that I was taking this step toward reconciliation.

Happily, the reunion was a success. I felt welcomed, loved, and loving. No one had any need to talk about blame or hurt or fault. We were all just so glad to see one another, and there were hugs all around. Champagne toasts, lots of catching up, and dinner followed. I gave my baby brother a goodnight hug. On the way home, I stopped at the top of the pass, in the complete darkness, to wonder at the sheer brilliance of millions of stars. I couldn't have been any happier at that moment.

So I wonder, how did holding on to that hurt and blame for all those years serve my highest and best good? How did my dad's fear of conflict serve him? Does it take tragedy in our own lives to learn compassion for others? Does the forgiveness process have to take years of our lives, or is there a spark that we can somehow use to light the flame in others' hearts that allows them to let go and love those who love them?

Monday, September 12, 2011

On Top of the World

I summited a fourteener yesterday on the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. Because my hiking mates were ahead of me most of the time, it turned into a beautiful walking meditation. Though it will likely take me days or weeks to integrate everything I learned into my physical and energetic bodies, I can say for certain that the experience changed my life forever.

It felt as if I were in another world, one between the earth and astral planes. I am incredibly privileged to be able, in so many senses of the word, to fully take it all in.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

To Have or Not to Have, That Is the Question

The last couple of months have brought with them so much fun and so many valuable gifts that I think I'll call July and August two of my best friends. While I've been listening to music, admiring beautiful art, and breaking bread with friends, I've also been learning and growing so fast it makes my head spin. One of the interesting teachings I've received is this: to coexist with the duality of being able to have something and not being able to have it brings with it peace and harmony.

Havingness is the ability to receive the full beauty and grace of something--fame, wealth, friendship, love, or anything else. For example, a person might be wealthy in financial terms but constantly feel that she is going to lose it all and one day have to beg for money on the streets. She is not in a place where she can have her wealth. Another person can be relatively poor in financial terms but feel wealthy because all of his basic needs are met and he enjoys what few possessions he does have tremendously (think Gandhi).

Someone who can't take a compliment is a perfect example of a person who is unable to have. Perhaps you can relate? Have you ever denied it when someone told you that she admired your taste in clothes? Have you countered that compliment by immediately complimenting the other person's taste, whether or not you believed what you were saying? To fully have everything good that life brings you seems like it would be easy, but it can be surprisingly difficult. Being able to have can take many karmic lifetimes of practice.

And THEN, once you FINALLY learn to have, you have to learn how not to have. What? This sounds crazy. But if you are equally comfortable not having that thing--fame, money, love--in your life, you make space for it to come into your life in all of its glory. Think about that woman who has oodles of money but spends her whole life thinking about how someday she might not have that money. She hasn't learned to have, and she hasn't learned not to have.

Where are you on your journey?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Solstice! or What a Year Will Bring

Cut to me staring at my computer screen in utter disbelief, exactly one year ago. It was around midnight on the longest day of the year, and the world as I knew it came to an end. My assumptions about love and trust were called into question. My identity, as it had exactly four years earlier when I lost my job, was blown apart.

Slowly, or some might say quickly, I rebuilt. Boy, was I ready for it, too. It was about time I concentrated on fixing me instead of everyone and everything else. I learned a lot in therapy.

Lesson #1: slow down.

Lesson #2: slow is fast.

Lesson #3: the need to fix others masks the need to look inward.

These lessons were what my friend Emily calls two-by-four moments (you know, because you feel like you got hit in the head with a two-inch-by-four-inch piece of wood, which, if you don't know, is also six feet long--let's just say big). And they just kept coming.

I worked hard. I took a close look at parts of me that I would have preferred to leave in the dark. I learned how to let myself feel and not judge those feelings. I learned how to show loving kindness to myself, because if you don't do it for yourself, it's tough to ask it of those around you. Today, I'm just happy that life can be this good. And simple. I love simple.

A supporting sister and best friend are my rocks, and they call me out on my crap when I'm slipping back into the old ways. New friends that I feel like I've known forever keep popping up. I get a big, dopey grin on my face when I think about my kind, loving, patient, fun, funny boyfriend.

I lost 57 pounds. I wish them well on their journey, because I'm not going to go looking for them. I started cooking again--a piece of the old me that I happily reintegrated. A new career called to me, and I'm doing the difficult but fulfilling training to become the best me I can be in that role.

I have a lot of adventures. A community of folks showed up to teach me how to speak the new language of acceptance and peace. The universe takes care of me. I'm in love with the world.

This is bliss.

Ready for a celebration

Already celebrating with my sister

My boyfriend's dog, Lulu, demonstrating my philosophy of life: it's all good; let's just take 'er easy on the couch

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rites of Passage

Funerals are beautiful ceremonies that help us remember the simplicity and complexity of a person. We have a chance to formally grieve. We think about how that person's time here made a difference.

This rite of passage makes us reflect on our own lives as well. What good or great things have we accomplished? Whose lives have we affected, and how? If we had it to do over, what would we change? Could we make those changes starting tomorrow? It's a powerful, emotional, and thoughtful process.

Rarely, though, are there celebrations of a person's accomplishments while the person is still around. My family rocks birthdays, and I'm glad for it. But mostly, none of us gets the chance to tell a room full of people how important that boss or friend or parent is to us.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I attended the retirement party of a good friend's husband this past weekend. There was a huge table full of photos, quotes, letters, and memorabilia that described all of the aspects of Michael: athlete, coach, teacher, principal, son, father, husband, friend, brother, uncle, boss, colleague, and more.

It was as if we were reviewing and appreciating his oeuvre at an art show. We drank, we ate, we talked, we laughed. I met people who are important in my friend's life that I would never have met otherwise. It was fun and rewarding.

Then there were the words of appreciation. At the designated time, we all gathered outside to hear what folks had to say about Michael, his work, and his life. Not knowing Michael well, I wasn't sure what to expect. Obviously the guy was well respected, because there were hundreds of people at this shindig.

A picture emerged of a man with high standards, who didn't take himself seriously and could be located by his laugh, who loved kids and the work he did with them, and who was a fantastic leader. Standing in the sun with beer in hand, I couldn't stop smiling. This was the man my friend had loved for decades. I understood him, and her, and their life, so much better. It was amazing.

My favorite toast was given by a woman who was obviously uncomfortable speaking in front of a group, but she ponied up. She said something like, "I knew you at one of the hardest times in your life, and you proved to be a man of courage and ethics. You were worth putting my career on the line for." Tears welled up in her eyes, and her voice wavered a bit, but she kept going. "So I'll give you the Scottish toast: Here's to us. Who's like us? Damn few, and they're all dead." Funny, and poignant.

What really got me was the first thing he said, before all the speechifying commenced. "I want to thank Linda. I couldn't have done any of this without her." Then he talked about how his work wouldn't have been possible without the competent, capable people he'd worked with over the years. This was a man I wanted to know. I was honored to have the opportunity to learn about him at this point in his life rather than at his funeral.

Rites of passage--retirements, commitment ceremonies, graduations, and finally, funerals--should always be a time for admiration, appreciation, and publicly acknowledged gratitude. Let's make them all big lovefests. Watch how it changes the energy of the person, everyone he knows, his community, and the world.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Am a Yogini

When I started practicing yoga seven months ago, I never dreamed it would be instrumental in my transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. I was simply in search of something--anything--that would help me cope with the changes in my life. The stress had to have an outlet.

A teacher in a recent yoga practice explained that when caterpillars cocoon, they don't just grow wings. Some cells change chemically. Embryonic cells that were present from the egg stage start to divide. The caterpillar reforms into a brand new being.

"Basically, they turn into goo," she said, translating for anyone who might be getting lost in the talk of cellular transformation. "And we do that in yoga practice over time," she explained. I couldn't agree more.

With the guidance of many patient and loving teachers, I have broken down old thoughts about my mental and physical barriers. I've learned how to connect my breath to my movement. I've reached places inside my mind and body I never even knew were there.

The physical benefits are astounding. My muscles are more toned and I am stronger than I have been in my entire life. I am flexible, as evidenced by my ability to twist my body like a pretzel. I can balance my entire body weight on one leg while lifting the other leg straight behind me and my arms straight in front of me.

But even more important than the physical benefits are the emotional and mental benefits. Yoga calms me. It reminds me to look inward. It makes me remember that my thoughts show up physically somewhere in my body, whether that's in a sore neck or an upset stomach.

At the beginning of almost every practice, the teacher reminds me to set an intention for the time I'm about to spend. This habit of setting intentions crosses over into all areas of my life, with the result that I get exactly what I intend most of the time. The teacher instructs the students to breathe in all good things that the universe has waiting for us and to breathe out healing, light, and love for ourselves and the world.

Language I've learned in my journey with yoga:

Hatha: union of the sun and the moon--a joining of mind and body that results in strength and vitality

Om Namah Shivaya: there is no literal translation, but I've interpreted this as, "I honor the divine in myself, in you, and in all beings."

Namaste: a greeting that means, "I acknowledge the divine and innate goodness in you"

Om: a chant that reminds us that everything we do should be for the betterment of the universe

The incorporation of the language of yoga into my everyday world is an outward manifestation of the inner change--the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual adjustments are all a part of my journey. It is something akin to the deconstruction and reconstruction the caterpillar undergoes. I see what the teacher was trying to help us acknowledge. I am a yogini.

Photo credit: Ambro at