Contact Us

We would love to hear from you!

Use this form to get in touch with the Shine On Collaborative Team!
Inquire about workshops, peer mentoring, circles or individual coaching.

Name *

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789


You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.




Filtering by Category: Article

Shedding what we no longer need

Laurel Holman


At this time of the year in the Bay Area, the fiery trees of autumn are shedding their leaves, giving way to the bare limbs of winter. It's sad, in a way. Until you remember that this process is necessary to make way for new growth in the spring. Brave pink buds and fresh green leaves are just around the corner. In that light, the bare branches of winter start to look strong, and smart. They are calmly doing what’s needed to prepare for the new growth of next season.

What if this applies to people too? Are there times when we need to shed something from our lives? From our hearts or our thoughts? Or even just our schedules? To make way for something fresh, brave and new to flourish in the next season? 

Winter is the perfect time of year to think about it. What ideas, curiosities, inklings and fascinations are hibernating inside of you, which might just break forth if given the space that only comes when we shed whatever is holding us back?

As we head into the darkest days of the year, may you find the courage to shed what you no longer need. And may you find the rest and renewal you will need to shine brightly in the season to come.

3 Ways to Make More Room for Joy During the Holidays

Cristina Spencer

A couple of weeks ago, I was putting our middle daughter to bed.  Like all children, she is a force of nature.  And in particular, she loves to play rough and tumble, to rumble with her friends like a pack of puppies.  She loves jokes and the trampoline and playing raucous rounds of video games with her dad.  She is a bundle of energy.  So when she said to me, as she lay her head to sleep, “Mom, I want to really absorb the holidays this year.  Not like rush, rush, rush, and then blam, it’s over.  I want to really, you know feel it this year,” it stayed with me.  Since then, I’ve been noodling on how we might accomplish her wish.  Here are some of the ideas our family will be experimenting with:

Observe the dark and plan for more downtime

Every year I feel the same perplexing feeling about the fact that we tend to be so busy, right when our days start to get blanketed by darkness.  For me, the longer nights feel like an invitation to do less, not more.  And yet, this time of the year is unavoidably hectic sometimes.  To balance that out, I took a close look at our daily, weekly and month-long family calendar.  There is a magical feeling about the darkening days of December and I want to experience that with my family.  So on daily basis in December we are going to try to eat simpler dinners twenty minutes earlier so that we can have time to linger in the changing season.  I want to try taking an evening walk.  I want to light more candles.   I want to read aloud to the kids in front of the fire.  I’m making room for that by easing up on our dinner routine.  When we looked at the week long view I realized we had more one off events like holiday concerts and parties on weeknights, but almost miraculously, the weekends were less intensely schedule than I would have thought.  So I went ahead and canceled some regularly scheduled lessons and commitments to create larger pockets of family time.  And then when I looked at the month I realized that since Thanksgiving came so late this year, we have a little less holiday prep time.  So we are reducing some of the decorating we usually do to make space for other seasonal activities we enjoy more.

Savor the goodness

In all of the hustle and bustle of this time of year our days are jam packed.  It’s easy to feel busy and not really enjoy all the good moments in these busy days bring us.  A few years ago I found a fun easy practice that enhances our ability to really experience the joy in our days.  It’s a simple visualization in which you recall a positive experience from your day.  Here’s how it goes.  Bring to mind a happy memory from your day.  Recall as much of the sensory and experiential aspects of the experience as you can.  How did you feel?  What were the smells, tastes, colors or other sensations.  Imagine transforming all the good energy of that one experience into the shape of an imaginary jewel, with a certain shape, color, etc.  Then imagine placing that jewel into the treasure chest of your heart, and as you do, allow the energy of that jewel to spread throughout your body.  My children, the middle one especially, really enjoy this visualization.  We’ll do it consistently at bedtime this month as a way to actively absorb the good energy of the memories we’re creating along the way.  This practice, which comes from the work of Rick Hanson, can be used any day, but I really enjoy it this time of year with my kids.  We’ll be doing it at bedtime.

Plan for renewal

Finally, when I was looking at my calendar, I was reminded that the holidays, especially for parents, are a special kind of theatrical production.  No matter how a family does the holiday, there is a certain, undeniable amount of work involved in creating the holiday magic and celebration.  When the party is over, I am going to be tired.  So this month, before I am depleted, before I’ve wrapped that last gift or sent that last holiday card, I am clearing a little extra space for myself in January.  I will get a massage.  I will create a gentle start to the year, by keeping the first week the kids are back in school lightly scheduled.  And I’m going to drink up the goodness of our Shine On New Year’s workshop which will give me the friendly connection and inspiration I will be craving in the New Year.

Interview: Tara Mohr

Cristina Spencer

Dear Friends,

Please enjoy this interview with Tara Mohr from June 2013.  

Meet Tara Sophia Mohr.  Tara is an expert on women's leadership and well-being. She is the founder of the Playing Big women's leadership program and author of 10 Rules for Brilliant Women.  A few weeks ago, I participated in her Grandmother Power blogging campaign, and I was delighted that she agreed to answer a few questions about courage, the most recent theme of my blog.  Doing this interview was incredibly fun and inspiring.  Read on to find out Tara's secret to making braver decisions!  

Q: You strike me as a courageous person.  Have you always been that way?  Are there things you do in your day to day that strengthen your courage?  Is there anything you’ve found you needed to stop doing, in order to live more courageously?

Early in my career, my fears were running the show. I chose a career path that was “safe” in that it didn’t involve much emotional risk, because I wasn’t really going for my dreams.

Over time, the pain of not following my dreams got intense enough that I started to make change. I find that’s often the case. I don’t suddenly get an injection of courage. The safe route becomes so uncomfortable that I had to find the courage to go for what I really long for.            

Two practices help give me courage:

  • In the mornings, taking a few moments to read some spiritual literature and remember the big-picture change I’m trying to bring about -- a world where we hear more women’s voices. When I’m really connected to that purpose, my fears don’t get in the way as much. I’m thinking about who I want to serve, not about my own ego!

  • Second, as I move through my day, and particularly when I get stuck, I identify my inner critic’s voice, and separate it from the voice of my own best thinking. I believe the goal is not to mature beyond our insecurities—because that’s impossible. The goal is to be able to have all the self-doubts but not let them stop us from going for our dreams.

Q: What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

When I write something and I feel like it’s radical, or very vulnerable, or likely to bring criticism or ridicule, but I hit the publish button anyway, I feel brave.

When I apologize for something that I’ve done, even though I find it excruciating to face the person and the situation, I feel brave too.

Q: What are your personal strengths or internal resources that empowered you to take that courageous action?  Were there any external conditions or circumstances that spurred you on?

Holding empowering ideas helps me make braver decisions. For example, the idea that I don’t have to get it all right in my writing, or please everyone, but instead that I just need to tell my slice of the truth. The idea that I don’t need to be a fully cooked “expert” but that I can teach as I learn and that I can teach what I most need to learn. These ideas lead to brave actions.  

Q: You teach a course for women called Playing Big.  What does courage have to do with Playing Big?  What has teaching this course taught you about women and courage?

There’s an old-school, masculine definition of “Playing Big” that involves making a lot of money, achieving your every ambition, doing high status things. We start my course by setting aside that definition and redefining Playing Big as self-actualizing: becoming who you really are. Going for our real dreams feels vulnerable: it puts us at risk of failure. It demands that we “leave the herd” in some way.

To be brave in the face of all that, you need some knowledge and some tools. In Playing Big, we learn how to deal with fear, how to manage the inner critic, how to tap into a wiser voice within us, how to deal with criticism and tough feedback. When you start applying those tools and understanding, what you get is some gloriously brave actions and leaps: giving talks at major conferences, speaking up to a boss, asking for more money, starting new businesses, and so on.

Q: Your work encompasses many different kinds of projects, not just teaching the Playing Big course.  It seems to me, it would take courage to decide which projects to commit your time to and which projects to let go of.  Can you talk a bit about how you make these kinds of decisions?

The first criteria is that the project authentically resonates with me and excites me. Otherwise, what’s the point!? But no entrepreneur gets to pursue every project that excites them, because the second criteria is what your audience wants. I usually test out the projects that most excite me most with a small subset of my audience. If sufficient demand is there, I begin offering them to my whole audience.

Q: The theme of my blog this month is Celebrate :: Courage.  In your life, do you do anything to mark or observe courageous actions or accomplishments?  What role does self-care play for you as a way of acknowledging or observing your own courage in action?

I’m a big fan of celebrations. With some friends, I just started a practice of throwing parties for a guest of honor with no particular reason – not a birthday or a milestone – but just to celebrate that individual and shower him or her with love.

When something happens that feels significant in my life, I’ll often celebrate. I tune in and ask myself, “How do I want to celebrate this?” and then listen for the real answer. Sometimes I want to do something with cheerleaders and witnesses (meaning, with friends). Sometimes I want to do something on my own. Sometimes I might want to do something that is totally joyful for me but that no one else would  “get” (like, for me, taking an afternoon to get my very-processed-so-almost-never-have-it latte drink in the Starbucks in Target and wander the isles in a daze looking at everything. LOVE that.). And sometimes I just celebrate inside, silently, honoring what I’ve done as I go about my normal routine. I think what’s most important is that we 1) do celebrate and 2) celebrate in the ways we truly long for. For women, looking inward to find out how we want to celebrate and then doing it (or asking others for it) is a big thing – a skill a lot of us still need to develop.