Awesomeness in the World

…and we’re back! (kind of)

I promised back in October that we’d be back in touch come November and with one day left in the month, I want to keep my promise (though I have no idea how on earth it got to be the end of November, but somehow, here we are).

I also promised you updates on new happenings. You may have noticed some of our regular bloggers went a little quiet earlier this year. Melissa has moved on to a new adventure in her career and we wish her all the best. She’s going to be all kinds of crazy successful and we can’t wait to see what happens next. Ashley has also taken on some new job responsibilities and is also focusing on her new dog, Sawyer. It’s possible he may be the cutest dog ever and I don’t blame her for spending more time with him. I’m so grateful to both of them for sharing their wit and honesty with us, and hopefully we can have them back as guest bloggers in the future.

Additionally, I’ve been hard at work on a new project of mine, Good for Her Soul. Not to be confused with the consulting and training offerings here, Good for Her Soul is support and celebration of women at every stage of life. Through the new website, we make it easy to congratulate your friend on her achievement, toast to a new chapter or let her know you’re thinking about her during a difficult time. You’ve got her back, so let us have yours. We’ve brought together everything you need to show her you care — cards, gifts, services and educational resources.

We often want to reach out, but aren’t quite sure what to say or how to say it, and this is where Good for Her Soul can help. You can check out our inspiration wall to get ideas of what’s been helpful to others during times of joy or heartache, or browse ideas and options by type of occasion or event.

While things will be a little quieter on this front for a while, I’ll continue to check back in. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy Good for Her Soul, and I wish you success in all your adventures as well!

Awesomeness in the World




Happy Friday, friends! We’re going to keep it simple today. Enjoy your weekend!

Inside My Head

Intersecting Stories

There’s a woman I see with some regularity in the area I work. I recognize her by the beautiful, colorful design on the back of her black coat. The coat is made by a Spanish company I like, and that’s one of the reasons the design popped out at me. And once I noticed the coat, I started noticing the woman who wears it. I’ve spotted her in line at one of the places I frequent for lunch, seen her on the sidewalk in front of me when out running an errand, or our and about on my afternoon trip to Starbucks. I believe we’ve exchanged a polite smile or two, and that’s about it. I don’t see her frequently enough for us to be anything more than passers-by on the street, and I’d be surprised if she recognized me at all.

It’s these sort of life intersections that fascinate me. My path crosses this woman’s path with enough regularity that I’ve noticed her, but I know nothing about her other than her fashion sense and mine overlap in one tiny area and we spend time in the same geographical location. And yet, our worlds intersect at these moments. I used to think about this a lot when a bus route was a regular part of my commute years ago. Every morning, I would see many of the same people on my bus route. I knew they lived in my neighborhood and we were all headed to the metro, but that was it. And while we spent 15 minutes or so together every morning, I didn’t know anything about them. I didn’t know where they went when they got off the bus, I didn’t know what they did for a living, who they lived with or what their sense of humor was like. I’m not at all a morning person, so I didn’t usually strike up conversation, and it wasn’t happening much around me, either. I think that’s also fascinating in and of itself – while we didn’t know anything about each other, we all had come to this unspoken agreement that our time together on the bus in the morning was quiet, personal time. We would be polite – smile, make sure your coat wasn’t spilling over onto the seat next to you, but we would respect personal boundaries.

I’ve talked before on this blog about the stories we tell ourselves – it’s how we make sense of the world. Often, we’re telling ourselves stories about people we know – our close colleagues, good friends, pesky neighbors, meddling family. We tell ourselves these stories and assign motives, create heroes, victims and try to make sense of plot twists we didn’t see coming. But in the middle of all that, I’m so intrigued by those who play an extra part in my story – what’s happening in their stories? What brings us both to this same spot at the same time so our stories collide?

It’s through this lens of storytelling that I can’t help but imagine what’s happening in these people’s lives that brings our worlds together for these brief moments. I’ve got many questions for the woman in the coat. I wonder how she discovered this designer we both like – did a good friend introduce her to it? That’s how I found out about it. A few times I’ve seen her out with different people and they seem to be headed somewhere with purpose, laden down by laptops and papers. What are they working on?  Are they coming from the World Bank, which is close to where I am? Do they like working together? One of the women who used to ride the bus with me was reading a book about how not to lose your sense of self once you got married. This was a rare gift that gave me lots to work with! I wondered when the wedding would take place, where it might be and who all might be coming. Did she have lots of family drama she was trying to balance? Maybe she was first of her siblings to get married and so she was by default creating traditions that some of them would follow. Was she nervous? Or was she so excited she could hardly stand it?

It’s these intersections that remind me that we’re all human – we all have struggles, joys, frustrations, stresses, celebrations and hopes. So while these intersections may be brief and fleeting, we can make the most of them by playing our role as an extra to the best of our ability. Offer a smile, open a door, step out of the way, offer up a seat. These are the small and subtle things that can have a much bigger impact on someone else’s story than we may ever know.




Awesomeness in the World Karen

Worthy of Love

A few years ago, I dated this guy who, after 7 months, said to me, “I don’t have feelings of love for you.” I was quite taken back. I had not heard that phrase before.

“You have no feelings of love?”

Like, I love pizza. I love this movie. I love golf. No feelings of love?

It was important to him that I know this ‘truth’.

My truth, in response to him was: “I need to be with someone who loves me. I want to be loved.”

The irony is we continued dating.

I conjured an enabling theory that could keep me in this dating relationship: “He doesn’t know how to love. He’s been so hurt. Be patient, Karen.”

A few months later we parted ways. His intentions were clear and it continued to play out: this relationship was not a loving relationship and would never be one.

Karen Thrall could not ‘fix’ this. I could not ‘change’ this. I could not act better, try harder, do more, serve more, give more.

I struggle with being an enabler. It’s something that rears its ugly head on occasion. I’ve come a long way in progress; but it still shows up every so often. It’s a pattern I created in my life from a very young age. Perhaps it will be a life-long journey. I hope not.

However, I look back and look at my present and celebrate, because I can see how far I’ve come. I can see how much I’ve grown, matured and advanced. I’m a work in progress. As long as I continue to grow and learn, this bane will be a gift to me.

A few days ago, the memory resurfaced. It’s a sentence that stuck and I’ve allowed it to fuel feelings of unworthiness: to believe I was not worthy of love.

Why would I allow my inner-person to embrace these feelings of unworthiness? Why would I allow my self to entertain the notion that I’m not worthy of love? How did this lie creep into my subconscious, into my life?

The story I share is just a story. It happened once. In my entire life, I’ve only heard that phrase once. How could I possibly allow one phrase to have that kind of power?

I was chatting with my sister about it last night. Musing upon this memory and the effect it had on me.

She said, “Starting now, it no longer has an effect. It’s that easy. The bottom line is, you’re worthy of love. Choose it. Make the switch immediately.

It’s exactly what I needed to hear. Replace the lie with truth.

I am worthy of love.

I chose to share this with you, not for your sake, but for mine. Today I reclaim the truth that I’m worthy of love. And I say to Karen, “Please forgive me for letting feelings of unworthiness cloud your heart, your soul and your hope.”

I am worthy of love. Not for what I do, not because of who I am, or what I say. I am worthy of love because I am worthy of love. There are no stipulations or criteria. There is no merit system. There is no checklist. There are no conditions. There are no hoops for me to jump through. To be worthy of love is the beauty of being human. When you’re born, you are instantly worthy of love. This is what I truly believe. And I stand strongly on this truth. Not wavering, not clouded.

How people treat you with regards to your worth does not define your worthiness.

You are loved. You are worthy of love.

I’d like to share this gift of truth and self-acceptance with you. May it touch your heart as it has touched me this morning.

Today I shed a memory that does not help me shine. I shed a memory that darkens my self-worth. I shed a memory that caused me to question my worthiness. And today, I re-launch the solid, non-negotiable truth that sets me free to truly live: I am worthy of love.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on





Awesomeness in the World Karen


When strolling on the beach, it’s not uncommon to greet someone with a smile and be greeted in return with a smile. A word describing this kind of interaction is reciprocity.

Last week, I needed to focus and get some work done efficiently. Sometimes I get a bit of cabin fever because my office is in my home. I love working from home but, by the afternoon, I sometimes need to relocate to get those last few hours of work completed.

So I took my computer to a great local restaurant, Rimel’s Bar and Grill DelMar, which is walking distance from my home. I ordered a glass of wine paired with delicious calamari and ahi poke. I sat in the corner of their bar area and set up camp: laptop, notebook, pencil and… eraser (have to write in pencil. KT does a loooot of erasing…).

It was my first time visiting this restaurant. I’d been wanting to check it out. (I’ve only lived in the area for 6 months)

As I looked around, I see that I’m the only one working. Every guest was socializing and enjoying vibrant conversations. Great vibe. I was happy I chose this place.

In the mix of head down and fingers on the keyboard, I’d glance up on occasion to enjoy some people watching.

The server, at first, didn’t know what to think of me. She was polite and not accustomed to having someone with their laptop working in this fabulous dining facility.

I smiled. She half-way smiled. I asked her a few questions about her menu. She answered politely.

As the time went by, she’d check on me, ask me how the food was or if I needed anything else. Each time I warmly smiled, engaged her with friendly light-heartedness, and let her know I was appreciative of her service.

By the time I paid my bill, she had warmed up to me. Her smile matched mine. Her friendliness matched mine. Her comfortableness matched mine.

Reciprocity is a wonderful gift we can freely share with every human on this planet. It supersedes all language barriers, all cultures, all lifestyles; igniting environments of human-kindness.

What is your favorite way of expressing reciprocity? We will each have our own unique expression. Live yours every day.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on

Awesomeness in the World

The Power of a Compliment

I got the nicest compliment yesterday. A woman I worked with said she though I was awesome and that being around me made her want to be a better person. Wow. Her words floored me. It was incredibly kind, and I was overwhelmed with the sentiment. I value her opinion and this sort of comment coming from her absolutely made my day.

I share this not because I want you to know how awesome she thinks I am, but because I am once again reminded of the power of our words. She took 30 seconds out of her day to extend our email conversation and let me know she appreciated me, and it changed my whole outlook. 30 seconds of appreciation. It can be that simple to alter someone’s day. Sure, there are lots more elaborate ways of showing someone we appreciate them, but it doesn’t have to be so grand. It’s easy to skip that step and assume people know we think they’re awesome. But even if they do, who doesn’t like to hear it every now and again?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

30 seconds of your life won’t win the battle for anyone, but a reminder of awesomeness is a powerful weapon in any battle. Who can you share 30 seconds with today to let them know how much you appreciate them?

Book Reports Libby

Lean In: Part II

So, I am even later to the party than Catherine…I just finished Lean In. I really didn’t want to read it – I have a thing about doing stuff that everyone’s doing (what’s the opposite of trend-setter?), so I really resisted. But Catherine lent it to me so I kind of felt obligated. 🙂

I don’t know if it was because I was all primed after attending my weekend leadership conference, but that book lives up to the hype. Well-written, poignant and inspiring, I plowed through it, recognizing all the mistakes I’ve made over the years. But I also was excited to have someone put (articulate and intelligent) words to thoughts I’ve had for such a long time. There were so many things that resonated with me, but one in particular was how she talked about the myth of having it all.

Earlier this weekend, I attended a night out with some moms and I caught myself saying, “I do nothing well.” How is that helpful? Who am I competing with? Why do I do that to myself? I have made choices in my life that now have me working both in and out of the home – my part-time status allows me to bring home a few pieces of bacon, fry them up in a small pan and pay lots of attention to my two men (the big one and the little one). It’s an ideal situation for our family, as well as a way for me to have intellectual challenges and adult conversations. No matter what, though, I know there is always someone doing some aspect of what I do way better. But what I realize is that they are also probably falling short in some aspect, at least in their own minds.

Sandberg reminds us to be kind to ourselves and each other; we should also be supportive of each other whenever possible. This is not a competition, ladies! We all do what we have to do. Think about how much further we’d get if we could all not only lean in, but also lean on each other…

– Libby Bingham

Awesomeness in the World Karen


karen applesDifferent cultures and different points of view are woven into the fabric of this world. Thanks to the world wide web, globalization is now part of our daily routine. The world is getting smaller.

I’d like to share some initial thoughts about diversity. There’s a difference between embracing diversity and being in agreement. Diversity doesn’t mean we’ll agree. Diversity is the acceptance of a range of different people/things. Diversity is quite simple: it means variety. Being in agreement does not equate diversity. We can embrace diversity, yet disagree.

Let’s using apples as an example. They’re diverse: Granny Smith, Delicious, McIntosh, Gala, Fuji – yet, they’re all apples. They grow healthily in orchards of sameness. Your culture, your community and your world is like an apple orchard. You are valuable. Your beliefs, your convictions, your lifestyle, your principles, your opinions and your feedback are all valuable.

If you’re a Gala, you’ll never be a Granny Smith, and that’s okay. Granny Smiths and Red Delicious, although both apples, are diverse. If apples can thrive in diversity, how much more can we humans?

You know what confuses things? The word “or”. That’s what messes everything up. We like the word “and”. Think about it.

  1. A happy partnership works best as you and I; not you or I.
  2. Running works best with the right and left leg alternating in motion; not the right or left leg.
  3. Rocking a chair works best with front and back motion; not front or back motion.

Diversity challenges us to rethink things. Diversity is the invitation that starts us with “or” and unites us to “and”.

Invisible Cyber Voice: Karen, do you like surf and turf?

KT: Why, yes I do, CV.

CV: Which one? Do you like surf or turf?

KT: Umm… well, I like them both.

CV: You can’t. You have to pick your favorite.

KT: But they’re so different. One is seafood and one is beef. I like them both. Why can’t I like them both?

CV: It doesn’t work that way. Pick one. Pick a side.

KT: Okay…. I like surf. I choose surf.

CV: So you don’t like beef?!

KT: I do like beef!

The word “or” provokes us to choose this rather than that or that rather this this. (note the or I snuck in there).

I remember learning about dualism for the first time by Jim McNeish. In our world we are quick to choose sides, one or the other, either/or, this or that. And he challenged us to think more about “yes and.” (Do you like surf or turf? I like surf and turf.)

Think beyond the word“or.” It will help immensely in learning what it means to be part of this big, beautiful, blue planet full of diversity.

How does diversity grow healthy orchards? What does it look like when we embrace diversity and uphold ‘variety’ as a core value? Let’s start with 10 simple principles on how we conduct ourselves amongst diversity.

  1. We refrain from derogatory or condescending language about another human being.
  2. We may not always agree, but we are not aggressive.
  3. We do not disqualify a person’s beliefs, values and principles to help prove we are right.
  4. We recognize that mankind is made up of various cultures and practices. Ours is not the best one.
  5. We will debate and disagree without loss of respect, kindness and honor towards one another.
  6. We engage with interest in conversations to help gain understanding and appreciation of others.
  7. We embrace each human as a valuable contribution to this world and we’re thankful.
  8. We may have convictions on certain topics, but never at the cost of defaming or degrading another.
  9. We ask questions.
  10. We do not uphold discrimination and prejudice.

May we please place, as our highest priority, the embracing of diversity, regardless of which apple we are. Let’s simplify diversity and not over-complicate it. Yes, disagree all you want. Yes, have convictions. Yes, have points of view. Enjoy your community. Enjoy your culture.

It would be unrealistic for McIntosh and Fuji to think they are exactly the same in appearance, taste, smell and texture. Along the same lines, we can start at the simplest base root – we all belong to the same planet. Can we start there and work our way to the core? (yes, pun intended)

p.s. The apple core are where seeds are nestled, ready to be planted so they too can be an apple tree.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on

Awesomeness in the World

Don’t Worry – The Universe Has Your Back

They say it’s a small world, and they’re usually right. I was reminded of this a couple weeks ago when a newer friend of mine came over to our house for dinner. I’ve known her for about a year and she’s one of those people you instantly adore. She lives in Boston, but is in DC every 4-6 weeks to come into her office here and touch base, and I thought she might like a home-cooked meal rather than another dinner out (my husband’s cooking – let’s be clear. I’m pretty skilled at ordering in.). Plus, we could take our time and linger rather than being rushed after dinner.

While we were settling into dinner, my friend and my husband were getting to know each other. As we talked, my husband was surprised that my friend had heard of his relatively small(ish) association and it turns out she had interviewed there a few years ago. As they kept talking, they realized they worked in the same area and eventually worked back to the fact that my husband had interviewed my friend three years ago. Not only had he interviewed her, he had offered her the job at the same time she was offered her current job. Clearly, she turned down the job with my husband and started working where I met her a year ago. It had been several years ago and they were both our of context (a job interview vs. a friendly dinner at our home), but it was a hilarious discovery. I remembered my husband talking about this woman who was terrific, but probably overqualified and he was worried she would take the offer she’d been given. He was obviously right to worry, but his judgement of her character and abilities were spot on – I can attest to that now on this end of things. Fortunately, both my husband and my friend are class acts and even though they didn’t end up working together, they parted on good terms. Talk about something that could have been an awkward situation…

As we were laughing about how small the world is (repeatedly – it really was funny), my friend said “Obviously the universe had big plans for us, and our paths were going to cross one way or another.” And she was absolutely right. I know most of the people on my husband’s staff and he knows lots of the people with whom I work, so I believe we would have met and become friends one way or another. So often, the people who come into our lives can seem random and haphazard. My husband and I often talk about how curious it is that our paths crossed how they did and when they did. While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the theory that everything happens for a reason, experiences like this do make me think that the universe might have my back. And that’s not a bad feeling at all.

Career Libby

Being a Good Guest

I am on a “working vacation” for the month of August – I am taking my seven-year-old son on a road trip to visit family and friends throughout New England*. While he and his cousins enjoy swimming, running, biking and playing, I continue to work remotely with pools, ponds, mountains and meadows as my office view. We are nomadic, staying anywhere from two nights to a week in each place. Along the way, I’ve picked up some tips on being a good guest that I think translate really well to the work place.

  1. Pick up after yourself. When you don’t have any place to put your stuff, it can start migrating all over the place. Not only is that inconsiderate of the people who live there, but it makes it harder to pack up and you can lose stuff in the process. At work, keep your workspace neat and tidy – it shows respect for your co-workers and makes it easier to respond to them when they need something from you.
  2. Help with the chores. While you are a “guest,” you are also family! You are not there to be waited on – pitch in and help with the dishes, the laundry, weeding or childcare. Not only does it build a stronger bond and sense of community, but if you don’t, it can lead to resentment and a less pleasant environment. At work, if you’re not too busy or have finished a project, look around and see who else needs help – this not only strengthens your team, but it will come back to you next time you’re in a crunch.
  3. House rules. We have a lot of rules for our son – and they are not always the same at every house we visit. While some are non-negotiable (no-hitting, no stealing, no knocking over of Mommy’s cocktail), there is a need for flexibility. If something is a no-go in that house, it applies to my son, too; if they are allowed to do something that he normally would not be (we’re talking extra sweets here, not R-rated movies and cigarettes), it’s okay to loosen the reins and let him have that experience. It is more fun for everyone and I am often surprised how well he navigates a different routine or set of rules. At work, the way you do something is not the only way to do it – people have different ways of working or accomplishing a task – try letting go of the how and focusing just on the results.
  4. Ask for what you need. The people hosting you want you to be comfortable (not too comfortable, see #2 above!), but they don’t always know what you need. Do you prefer a certain type of milk or yogurt? Let them know next time they go to the store. Does your kid need to go to bed early? Say goodnight when it’s the appropriate time. Do you need to do some laundry? Ask if you can throw some things in next time they do a load. If you don’t let people know what you need in order to have the best experience and settle in to their routine, it can become a bit awkward – negative or uncomfortable energies are easily picked up on! At work, if you need help, ask someone – you may need extra resources, more time or a hand with something. If you don’t ask, your boss will still pick up on your less-than-positive energy but won’t know why and that can lead to all sorts of communication problems. Articulating what you need makes things clear, allows others to participate in finding a solution, and still lets you shine.
  5. Don’t forget to pick up the check. One of the nice things about a trip like this is that it can really reduce the cost of hotels and eating out – this is a good thing! However, it’s not free: you are adding costs to your hosts like a longer grocery list, a higher energy bill and a bigger laundry load. Be cognizant of their expenses and try to contribute where you can – do the grocery shopping sometimes or chip in for their weekly expenses. Take the kids out for ice-cream or a trip to a local activity, and definitely take them out to dinner at least once while you’re there – it’s a nice way to say thank you and no one has to cook or clean. It can be a vacation for everyone! At work, it is important to share the spotlight – chip in on others’ recognition and participation, share the credit for a project you worked on, let them work with the best volunteer – ensuring that they get some of the good stuff helps your office experience be a little less like work and just a wee bit more like vacation.

– Libby Bingham

*Connecticut, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and back to Connecticut in 25 days by car! [Editor’s Note: Libby is a brave, brave woman!] 😉