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Vol I

From Holl & Lane Magazine

welcome to illuminate

When Holl & Lane Magazine first began, we never imagined the community that would develop because of it. Women from all around the world came to read the stories of our brave writers. And even more surprising, women from all around the world asked to write for us, sharing their innermost journeys, thoughts, and feelings. We've long wanted to develop a community for writers. But we wanted to be mindful of the type of group we created. We wanted to provide value and substance. To help women be able to share their story, no matter who would read it. And with that, we created illuminate.

Sarah Hartley

Illuminate is a community of people who love the written word. It's a monthly membership filled with tools to help our writers continue to do what they do best - write. And we're there to cheer them on every step of the way. On the following pages you’ll find the writings of some of our members. This bi-annual FREE digital issue will showcase the writings that our members love best. And we think you're going to love them, too.

Sarah & Mia Founders of illuminate

Mia Sutton

inside 06 I'm Sorry Isn't Like a Tide to Go Pen 08 I Won't Be That Mom 10 Navigating Machu Picchu 14 Fear. 16 We Can't Be Happy All the Time 18 Finding My Place 20 What's Left Behind 24 A Change of Scenery 26 I Remember 28 Please. Sleep. 30 15 Things I Would Tell My 17-Year-Old Self

the writers Arielle Caraway


Barb Torgerson

I'm Sorry Isn't Like a Tide to Go Pen

Chrissy Gruninger

We Can't Be Happy All the Time

Christine Amoroso A Change of Scenery

GaĂŤlle Berruel

Finding My Place

Jennifer Collins What's Left Behind

Joni Leimgruber

I Remember

Katie Visconti

15 Things I Would Tell My 17-Year-Old Self

Marietta Goldman Navigating Machu Picchu

Mia Sutton

I Won't Be That Mom

Sarah Hartley Please Sleep

I'm Sorry Isn't Like a Tide to Go Pen


am the queen of spilling things on myself. Truly. If I walk out the door wearing a light-colored shirt and carrying a cup of coffee, I often don’t even make it to the car before coffee jumps onto my shirt. When this happens, I typically go back in the house and change my shirt. However, if I’m running late or I am out and about when some food or drink item makes its appearance on my apparel, I’m stuck with the stain. My family has officially banned me from wearing white shirts when we travel together (totally serious here) because it is so embarrassing to have me walking around with them looking like a 2-year-old whose parent forgot to put a bib on them. Note to family members: I’m not going to wear a bib; I’m not old enough yet. About two years ago, I did find an alternative to the bib option and it has revolutionized my life. It is called the Tide to Go Pen and it is like magic: it makes stains disappear, dries quickly and voila, I can pretend I’m not a total klutz! Just so you know, I am not a paid spokesperson for Tide to Go pens; I just think they are awesome. I carry one in every bag I own and have one in my car’s glove box as well. You may ask, “Can it conquer coffee stains?” Sure. “Even coffee with cream?” No problem. Strawberries? Bring it on. I even wrote a humorous poem about this incredible item (Tide to Go Pens are found in the laundry aisle in case you’re wondering). The minute I tried this pen, I felt profound relief. Why? Well, having my shirts look clean is not just a top priority because I’m the butt of many family jokes but also because I’m a therapist. It is not fun to have people staring at your shirt and potentially doubting your professional competency since your personal competency is so obviously in doubt. So, thank you Tide to Go pen for erasing my mistakes and helping me start fresh again and again.

Wouldn’t it be great to just erase all the moments we open our mouths and spill ugliness on someone else?

Wouldn’t it be great if all our mistakes could be erased this easily? If I could invent a pen called ”I’m sorry,” that would magically erase relationship mistakes; I would be a millionaire. Wouldn’t it be great to just erase all the moments we open our mouths and spill ugliness on someone else? I don’t know about you all but spilling ugliness on other people is a far more frequent occurrence in my life than staining my clothes. The times I have to say, “I’m sorry” and “Will you forgive me?” could fill volumes.

And God knows, I do not want to spill ugliness on the people I love. I want to be kind and generous and curious about who they are and how I can be a positive part of their lives. And then I open my mouth. And I dump verbal hot coffee on them. And I wish I had a magic pen to erase what I just said. I want to drop my eyes and hunt for the pen in my purse because I’m embarrassed about what I’ve said (or done). Just the other night, I could see the surprise and pain on my husband’s face when I said something that was uncalled for; where was that damn pen when I needed it? Since I’m clearly not a millionaire, the pen is not a reality. So, I did the stain removal the hard way. I humbled myself, embraced my brokenness and faced up to what I had done to him. I said, “I’m sorry” out loud. I asked for forgiveness and opened myself up to his hurt and anger. And I hoped he would forgive me and be willing to stay close to me. (He did and he was willing-hurray!). I know that being vulnerable and open when I screw up is the best way to build solid relationships and I love having greater intimacy as the end result of asking for forgiveness and being forgiven. But you know, that pen idea sure is tempting. ✴

Barb Torgerson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in the Denver area. She specializes in trauma, especially around issues of sexual violation. She's also a recovering klutz and is learning daily how to say, "I'm sorry."

I Won't Be That Mom.


he ripples of the water in the pool are tame compared to the waves of inner turmoil I feel. My face is flushed, and I don’t want my swim lessons to end. Because even though I’m not looking at her, I can feel her fuming from the other side of the pool. I know once we leave the eyes of the other parents and children, her wrath against me will be unleashed. At the tender age of 8, I’m already battleweary and know I’m a disappointment to my mother. Today’s swim lesson only hammers the point home even further. The lesson ends and I slowly climb out of the pool and walk over to get my towel. The lifeguard instructor for my class makes the rounds, handing out certificates to those who have passed to the next level of swimming instruction. I’m the only student in my class who doesn’t get one, due to my fear of keeping my face in the water for longer than a few seconds. My mom surprisingly doesn’t say anything, which makes her angry glare easier to stomach. I think, Maybe it won’t be so bad. We drive home in silence. Once we get inside the house, she grabs my arm and marches me to the bathroom. My reprieve is over. I’m afraid, but also curiously detached, wondering what my punishment will be this time and why she hates me so much.

She turns the water on in the tub and I stand there in my wet bathing suit, shivering and waiting. The waiting is actually the worst part. I prepare myself to get in, but instead, she tells me to lean over and put my face next to the faucet. I do it, but I’m terrified because she’s behind me and I can’t anticipate what’s going to happen next. She pushes my head into the running water. I gasp because it’s freezing cold. All the while she’s saying things like, What is wrong with you?! You just have to put your face in the water and hold your breath. Why am I wasting my money on lessons? Do you know how embarrassing it is when the other kids get their certificates, but you have to take the class again? I don’t respond because a response will just make it worse. My tears mix in with the water and my neck and shoulders begin to ache from leaning over. Finally, she gives my head a shove and tells me to go change and get out of her sight. Alone in my room, my sadness and humiliation turn to fiery anger. I won’t be that mom, I vow. ▶

*** I signed my two sons up for swim lessons this summer. They are 8 and 6 years old and have had limited exposure to the water. This is their very first time taking swim classes. They are both understandably afraid. Will, my youngest, asks me, Mom? What if I can’t do it? What if I don’t learn how to swim right away? I hug him close, thoughts racing back to my 8-year-old self and the ice cold water pouring over my head. I say, Don’t worry, sweetheart. Just try your best. Everybody learns at a different pace. I’m so proud of you, no matter what. He smiles and leans his little head on my shoulder. I won’t be that mom. *** I’m sitting poolside, basking in the warm sunlight, watching my kids take their swim lessons. Will is afraid to do “bobs” - a move that entails going under the water for 1 second and jumping back up. He squats down and when the water reaches his ears, he panics and comes back up. He glances over at me, worry written all over his face. I smile and give him a thumbs up, mentally sending him all the encouragement and love I have in my being.

My oldest, Dom, is afraid to jump off the diving board into the waiting arms of the lifeguard. Finally, another instructor drops him slowly and gently off the board. He goes under the surface for a moment and comes back up, steadied by his teacher. He glances over at me, disappointed in himself because he didn’t jump. I’m ready with my thumbs up and my smile. You did great, I mouth to him. We get home from the pool and my boys run into the house. Their whoops of glee echo in the hallway. That was fun, Mom! Can we do this every summer? I glance at the tub in the bathroom as I walk by, defiance written all over my body and I shut the door purposefully. Absolutely, guys! I’m so proud of you, you did great. I’m not perfect, but I won’t be that mom. I will never be THAT mom.

Mia Sutton is the Editorial Manager for Holl & Lane Magazine. She is a wife, a mom, an introvert, and a selfproclaimed word nerd who loves to write poetry about anything and everything. Expressing emotions through words has been her lifelong love affair.

Navigating Machu Picchu


have been drawn to Machu Picchu for a really long time. When others would speak of it I would listen closely. It was on my bucket list for many years but it was one of those places I dreamed about and never imagined I would actually see. One night as I had just finished reading a chapter from Qoya, A Compass for Navigating an Embodied Life that is Wise, Wild and Free, I contemplated what it would be like if I could actually find the courage to step out of my comfort zone and take a pilgrimage to a sacred place like Peru. At that precise moment, my youngest son, Justin, walked into my room to tell me that his favorite teachers from middle school released their next trip – they decided to go to Peru. They would leave the following summer and travel from Lima to Cusco to Puno and then to the Amazon Rain Forest with stops at Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley and Lake Titicaca. We looked at each other at the same time, smiled and agreed that this must indeed be a sign. One year later, off we flew… Machu Picchu was incredible. The Inca civilization built in 1450 was as breathtaking in person as it was in photos. As we walked along the terraces built into the side of the mountain and stopped to admire the temples and sundials built from perfectly placed stones, I waited…I waited for that magic moment. I knew I was called here for a reason and I was excited to learn what that was.

I picked up stones from the ground to feel the sacred energy and listened intently to the words our guide used to help us create an image of how this lost city was built. I was present and grounded and happy to be there. I watched for signs and sat quietly to be sure I didn’t miss anything. I admired the splendor of the site and felt so much gratitude for the opportunity to be there but I never got that one all powerful lightning bolt moment I was hoping for. Why was I drawn to this country? What was I meant to see? And then all of a sudden, it hit me. The message was clear. It was time for me to stop searching. I have been spending so much time and energy looking for the spiritual growth that I failed to notice I was already living my spiritual journey. This beautiful mountain was helping me connect the dots without me having to do anything except just be present. Machu Picchu found a way to highlight the transformation I had already been experiencing during my own healing journey. It connected me with wonderful people who helped me notice how far I had come physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Of course, there was an actual lesson along the way to help me see clearly. ▶

When my son and a smaller group of travelers were excited about adding a rigorous hike to the top of Machu Picchu I felt sad. I knew that my body could not handle the pace especially since I had been struggling a few days earlier with the higher altitudes of Cusco and Lake Titicaca. If I didn’t do the hike, there was no guarantee I would be able to meet up with my son that day and experience this part of the trip together. I had to choose between listening to my body and staying behind or taking the hike even though I knew the elevation was way too much for me to handle. Since I have spent so many years encouraging others to listen to their bodies I knew this one was for me. Funny how the Universe works! I had to trust that we would both receive exactly what we were here to receive even if we were not together. I was frustrated with my physical body and having flashbacks to complicated surgeries that left me feeling weak and scared and unable to take a deep breath – exactly the way the high altitude was making me feel. Only this time it was different - I was doing my best to let go of fear and relax and enjoy what mother earth had to offer.

Marietta Goldman is a cancer survivor and healing facilitator who encourages women to listen to the wisdom of their bodies so they can heal naturally from the inside out.

My body was actually handling the altitude pretty well. Yes it was a bit uncomfortable feeling so winded and tired but I was doing better than many others on the trip. I was eating less so my body could focus on breathing instead of digesting. I was moving slowly and resting and trusting that I would feel better in divine time. It all worked out. We got to the top at exactly the same time and then spent the next few hours touring the grounds together. I made the right choice. I let go of control and honored what my body needed so it could feel nourished and find peace. It was the perfect reminder for me to end the grudge I was holding against my body for not being as strong as it was before I got cancer. I found the gift in remembering all the amazing things I could do instead of focusing on my limitations. I experienced the magic of Machu Picchu – not in the way I expected but in exactly the way it was meant to be. ✴

I had to trust that we would both receive exactly what we were here to receive even if we were not together.



ave you ever stopped to think about what scares you? Snakes… Dogs… Bugs that fly and have stingers… That’s a big one for me.

I think about fear a lot. Or you could say fear drives me a lot. The constant worrying, the anxiety, the fear of the unknown. That’s the really big one. When you don’t know what’s coming, it’s easy to imagine all kinds of scenarios. Majority of them will never happen but that fear of the worst just needs a little imagination to get ahold of you. Recently, I’ve tried to start facing those fears, specifically the fear of what others think of me. This has involved a lot of “why?” questions. Why do you worry even when their opinions don’t matter to you? Why are you letting this fear hold you back from the passions you want to pursue in life? Why can’t let you just let it go? Why do you fear when the Lord has your back? Why… The rabbit hole goes deep. Anxiety shows up the minute I even ask myself that question. Anxiety over looking weak, wondering how someone would respond to my answer, fear of the truth hidden in my answer, and anxiety over whether I’m even being honest with myself. The truth is… I’m scared of being a failure. I’m scared of people considering me a hypocrite or correctly calling me a liar because I’m nervous and don’t answer 100% truthfully. I’m scared of people angrily yelling at me. I mean seriously. Do you want someone in your personal bubble with the expression of “I’m about to hit you in the face” rage? I’m scared of the unknown. It really does all boil down to that one. No one can tell the future and you’re bound to fail at some point in your life. There’s honestly no telling what that even looks like. When you’re a kid, you can pretty much count on your parents to pick up the pieces, assuming you didn’t have to grow up fast. But when you’re an adult? Well, it’s all on you. And sometimes you don’t know if you’ll have the strength to get back up from that. One of the big unknowns for me has been to start a blog or business. It’s been on my heart for a while but unfortunately that fear of being a failure and that fear of what other people will think holds me back… and it shouldn’t. People will always have something to say and they’ll always create their own preconceived

notions and biases. We all do it. What others have to say shouldn’t change what’s on my heart. If anything, the comments that matter will give me more insight into how I can be better and the comments that don’t should make me stronger as I move past them. Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you, nor forsake you.” That should really be the end of the story and yet here I am, still worried and anxious about how people are going to respond. I’m not sure I’ll ever believe that human nature has it within itself to never be scared. (If you have evidence or strong beliefs otherwise, I’d actually love to have that exploratory debate. Just keep the “I’m about to hit you in the face” rage to yourself.) What I do believe is that we have the ability to draw on the strength the Lord has already given to us to move forward despite that fear. I don’t think I draw on it nearly enough. That’s why 2018 has become the year that I push myself. I started seeing a therapist to help me in analyzing my emotions and my actions. I purposefully went to a conference I wanted to attend and invited people to come with me. I networked with people that inspired me and asked if I could get involved. I opened up to my husband who never gave me any reason to believe that he wouldn’t just listen to me and hold my hand instead of running. We’re all going to fall at some point and we won’t be able to look up and find mom and dad ready and waiting to hop in. What we can do though is realize that we’ll never be able to control the unknown. Instead, we can prepare for it, enjoy the present, and stand firm in the decisions we make. What we can do is draw on the strength the Lord has already given us to learn from the rock that made us stumble and then move forward. I pray that you have the courage to keep moving forward in your own journey. Join me. We’ll do it together. ✴

Arielle Caraway is a firm believer in seeing the beauty of the world in everything you do and hopes to encourage readers to live a life of intention by offering insight into her own journey. In her free time, you can find her putting a dent in her running list of must-reads, catching the latest flick, photographing beautiful things, or just dancing in her living room.

We Can’t Be Happy All the Time Choose to be sanguine instead


n Buddhism it is said that we must experience both the 10,000 joys in life and the 10,000 sorrows equally. Because truly, how can we know what happiness, love and joy feel like if we haven’t also felt sadness, frustration and anger? Think about that. How could you know what happiness really feels like if you had never felt the opposite? Choosing to acknowledge both the joys and the sorrows... That is the essence of what I like to call – being simply sanguine. I moved to paradise but didn't find happiness. Since 2012, I have lived in Costa Rica, home to a tropical climate, awe-inspiring sunsets, and breathtakingly beautiful wildlife. I run my own business, live in the jungle, and can stroll along a tropical beach whenever I want. Many people, myself included, would consider this to be paradise on Earth.

But my life’s not perfect, and I’m never going to pretend it is. Since moving to Costa Rica, I’ve faced challenges that hadn’t even entered my mind before I jumped on that plane with my 17-year-old cat, Harmony. In a culture that isn’t too familiar with females living alone and running their own businesses, I’ve been manipulated, taken advantage of, discriminated against, sexually harassed, lied to and stolen from. The reality is a good deal harsher than the zen-inparadise fantasy I had conjured in my imagination. The realization that my new life in Costa Rica wasn’t perfect, gave me the opportunity to respond in a number of ways. I could have been disappointed that it wasn't perfect, packed up and gone back to the US. But instead I chose to ride it out. I tapped into my inherent harmony and learned to be sanguine along the way.

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN LEARN TO BE SANGUINE: It’s okay to have a bad day. The internet these days could make us believe that everyone is living extraordinary lives and that we should all be wearing rose colored glasses – all the time. It’s become much more challenging to show up authentically and let people know the real and raw side of our lives when there’s so much out there that only shows us the picture perfect lives of our friends online. Empowered to thrive. Sanguine living means we take the good with the bad. To make the most out of every day. To be empowered to thrive in our imperfect world. To show up as our authentic selves, whether that means we’re sipping a cocktail on a tropical palm tree lined beach or we were just robbed at knifepoint on said tropical beach. We take the sunshine with the rain and learn how to make our own rainbow. There will always be chaos. Being sanguine means we create contentment in spite of the chaos. That we learn how to see the lessons when a negative curve ball is thrown at our head. That we don’t allow said curve ball to knock us out but rather we learn to pause, breathe and reflect on what just happened and then choose our next steps on how to make it better. Sometimes there isn’t a better. Sometimes we have to learn it’s better to let it go, accept what’s happened and always then continue on, not getting stuck in neutral. Moving forward on the path to creating – and being open to – new doors of opportunity. Accepting our perfectly imperfect selves When we believe that everything is supposed to be photoshopped and picture perfect, our flaws show up exponentially and all too often, our expectations aren’t met. Both in ourselves and others. Being sanguine means we acknowledge even the tiniest of successes so as to remind ourselves that even with all of the negativity and imperfection, there is still light and hope to be found in the dark. To appreciate both the good and the not-so-ideal in equal measure as there is much to be learned from both. We only have this one beautiful life. Choosing to be sanguine allows us to more deeply appreciate the joyful moments in our lives as well as learn to rise up and grow from the more challenging experiences that come our way. Life is complicated and messy, beautiful and unpredictable, and so, it must be imperfect. The ground beneath my feet is a patchwork, with dry brown patches alongside verdant green grass, and wildflowers thriving harmoniously next to weeds. This is how I have learned to live a more wildhearted, sanguine life, and how you can too. Which of these ideas will you apply to your life in the coming days? How will you choose to show up, thrive and be simply sanguine? ✴

Chrissy Gruninger is an author and mindset coach mentoring people on how to live their ONE beautiful life, wherever they may be. Her latest award-winning book, Lost and Found in the Land of Mañana explores her life in Costa Rica and both the challenges of working and living abroad as well as the beautiful life we can create from those experiences.

Finding My Place


am a learnaholic, bookaholic and a challenger. Positive at heart, I learned painfully in certain situations that life cannot be full of roses every time. Life, I learned can be what you want it to be. But before I indeed incorporate this truth, I experienced hard lessons at work, burnout, skincare issues, getting out of my comfort zone and being genuinely shocked by the reaction of people. It took me time to realize that the problem was not me, but them because my strong intuition always showed the true colors of people. My mind, happy to take the lead, hid the ugly truth. From living an ideal student life in the south of France where I was so happy and having a life opportunity to work as an intern in a French bank in London, the learning curve has been massive. Hesitant in English and keen to learn, I didn’t have absolutely an idea of what I put myself into it. I knew that this opportunity was excellent but my gut at the time already warned me to keep my expectations low. I didn’t listen. I listened to others, raised my hopes and embraced this new adventure. Let me tell you, from being lively, confident and a chatterbox, I became shy, observant and inadequate. It is when I meet new friends, shared my unease and started to enjoy living in London that I began to feel better. Imagine, my friends, family, boyfriend were all in France, and I was alone, looking at the Thames and taking my lunch at Tower Hill station. The weather didn’t help either. But despite that, I found my place, moved in and felt at last at home. Eager to experience, learn, discover. Another downfall happened to me. Still an intern, my employer decided to fire me just like that. When I started to like working in the City the grass was cut under my feet. Being sacked in a foreign country like a virus is not one of the cutest things ever. I decided to stay, to look for another job, in a nutshell, to fight back. And I did it. Meeting recruitment consultants, going to interviews, sending CV and resumes, I did not stop. But I needed more than fight; I needed support. My boyfriend joined me. He found a job in his sector, and I continued to look for a job. This time, look for any situation. I connected immediately with the first Manager I met in a restaurant at Covent Garden, and I got the job. I met amazing people, went to an interview which was not definitely for me, they thought I was fluent in German! Trust me; this is not what I put on my CV. Fired a second time because I asked to leave earlier to attend it. Back to square one but this time with real people around me to grow, to learn, to feel confident speaking English. The melting pot, working with people of various nationalities that I truly wanted to experience in London occurred in this job. They confirmed my belief to fight for what I want, and they were so supportive. I took an English course, and I truly loved it. I built my confidence, and six months later, I got a job offer in an American bank. This job has been the first and best job to feel part of a family and be accepted. Kindness, joy, professionalism, respect, friendship: there are so many adjectives to translate my feelings of sincere gratitude to have had this job. I was so happy. So happy that I have tears rolling down my cheeks by remembering the years I spent in this Bank. The downside is when the management changes, you can expect two things: the better or worse. It was the latest coming in my life, and I didn’t have a clue...because they wanted to do a big cleaning. The difference between people, cleaning, restructuring, changing the mentality of one company can create living in a crazy box. Pressurised, undervalued, my savior has been my philosophy and my colleagues. A few months later, I saw my colleagues leaving this Bank with pride and no regrets while I continued to give a facelift to my LinkedIn profile and applied for jobs. When it was my turn to leave, I was pregnant with a job offer in my hand. ✴

Gaëlle Berruel is an entrepreneur and mindset coach from London. Her passion is to help conscious women entrepreneurs to build a healthy, happy and strong mindset to create a life they love.

What's Left Behind


n the middle of the night, I heard the low rumble grow into a deafening blast that shook the whole house. Seconds later, the wind whipped into the windows, demanding to gain entrance. A wall of rain edged closer, like a 1000-man infantry marching into town. As the storm blew through, I pulled the covers tighter. I enjoyed thunderstorms, but this one was a powerful one; and I felt every flash, every roar, every gust, every drop. Then, almost as quickly as that storm blew in, all grew quiet as the nighttime darkness gave way to the morning light. Hesitantly, I rolled out of bed and stumbled in the dim morning light, walking downstairs to the front window. The flowers, beaten by the pelting raindrops, sulked as they leaned over the edges of the pots on the porch. Small branches and leaves littered the front yard. Water puddled in the driveway. The decorative flag twisted around the lamppost. The sun glimpsed from behind the retreating clouds, but the collateral damage left over from the storm was evident. I walked into the kitchen and my nose met with the sweet smell of cinnamon and chocolate. The night before, I baked cinnamon bread and a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Although it had been hours since the sticky batter transformed into gooey goodness, the scent of butter and sugar and love still lingered in the air. The thunder and the cinnamon bread. The wind and the chocolate chips. Both but memories ‌ still seen and still felt. Both left an imprint. One left damage. One left sweet memories. Throughout the day, that thought weighed heavily on my mind. We had the power to be the storm, or the chocolate chip cookies. We had the power to leave behind damage, or a lingering scent of love and memories. We had the power to leave an imprint of destruction, or peace. I watched a man help an elderly woman load her groceries into the car. Chocolate chip cookies. I watched a woman scold the young cashier for being too slow. The storm. I received a card with a sweet note from a dear old friend. Chocolate chip cookies. I was cut off by an aggressive driver on the highway. The storm. ▜

Whatever we did, wherever we went, we left an imprint. I witnessed and experienced the real life collateral damage of the storm and the pleasant scent of chocolate chip cookies, over and over again that day. Then, I thought about the imprint I made, what I left behind … Was I the chocolate chip cookies, or was I the storm? Did I leave behind damage, or peace? My daughter was playing around this morning getting ready for school. I was impatient. I was the storm. My friend called, upset about a family matter. I listened and encouraged her. I was the chocolate chip cookies. My husband forgot to do that thing I asked him to do. I made a comment. I was the storm. My son struggled with a school assignment. I explained it and helped him complete it. I was the chocolate chip cookies. Whatever we did, wherever we went, we left an imprint. We crossed each other’s paths and we left something behind. We broke off tree branches and left deep puddles. We filled hearts and souls with love and peace. When I came home at the end of the day, I noticed that the flowers perked up, no longer drooping over the sides of the pots. The puddles in the driveway were gone. I walked through the yard and picked up the branches, and untwisted the flag hanging on the lamppost.

Jennifer Collins is a married, mother of two from Pittsburgh. She is navigating life with a pesky terminal cancer diagnosis with hope and faith.

There. The damage had been done, but with a little time and a little effort, it was good as new. When I walked into the kitchen, I could no longer smell the cinnamon and chocolate. That delicious aroma no longer tickled my nose, but the memories of the melted chocolate chips and the cinnamon sugar still lingered inside my heart. It made me think about how storms rolled into our lives. We were left vulnerable. We were left broken. We suffered damage; and then, the storms passed. With a little time, most of the damage could be repaired. We fixed what was broken and dealt with the rest. In this life, the sun shined too. We enjoyed the cinnamon bread, the chocolate chip cookies, and the lingering feelings of love and hope and peace. Although we couldn’t count on those sweet times to last forever, we could store those memories in the depths of our hearts. We could feel that love deep in our soul, long after the sun set on those delicious memories. Yes, we had the power to be the storm. Yes, we had the power to be the chocolate chip cookies. But we also had the power to overcome, and we had the power to sustain. We had the power, and we had a choice. Whether we were the storm or the chocolate chip cookies, … in the end, we determined what was left behind. ✴

A Change of Scenery


apping away on my keyboard, I reread phrases, type and delete words, and feel a range of emotions in the span of a few hours as I write. Sometimes my emotions are a reflection of the content itself. Other times they are conflicting expressions of belief and doubt in my ability as a writer. One moment I am on top of the world as I conquer another chapter. Then I read a beautifully written poem, or finish a classic novel and wonder . . . What on earth do I have to say that anyone would want to read? The doubts pile up as I participate in online writing courses. Published authors advise, “Don’t turn your life upside down and quit your day job to write. That rarely turns out well.” Ouch! Despite the tiny pang of worry those words give me, I smile and let them go. The decision to start fresh percolated within me for a couple years. It began with internal shifts in my mind and heart that led to holding myself accountable for my life. I made a lot of good changes for sure. But, I continued to allow my environment to derail me. I clung to familiar roles and comfortable patterns that kept me stuck in a life I had outgrown. I was anchored to family, an expensive home and stressful career, and wondered why my life wasn't changing. The all too familiar comfort zone kept change at bay and kept me safe from the possibility of failure. It turns out that cutting off all my options was exactly what I needed to jumpstart my life, a change of scenery was necessary. An idea that both terrified and exhilarated me. A little phrase of advice I had often given others played repeatedly in my head. “Wherever you go, you take 'you' with you,” suggesting that changing geography doesn't necessarily change your life. I told myself again and again, what I was doing was different. I wasn't running away from life, I was starting a new life. At least that's what I hoped I was doing. As the plane left the runway, I looked out the window. The magnitude of my decision hit hard, no job, no house, no return ticket, and on my own. Teary eyed, I made a promise to myself. I had taken this leap of faith, and I had

better damn well commit to the adventure one hundred percent, no turning back. The beginning was really tough. The 'me' I brought with me, was still driven to action by feelings of guilt and responsibility. I continued to search for my worth in the love and approval of others. I fought homesickness and loneliness. But I would not go home. Instead, I focused on the beautiful distractions of Italy, and dove into my writing. More importantly, I made conscious choices every day, throughout the day, about my thoughts and feelings. I meditated, stayed positive and grounded in my work. I looked inward for love, worthiness, and answers. I made decisions that served me and my goals. I adopted a standard response for the question I am always asked, “How are you doing?” I consistently reply, “I am having an amazing adventure AND I miss home and my family.” No “BUT,” always “AND” to emphasize that happiness, missing loved ones and chasing dreams are not mutually exclusive. At first the words were scripted to keep me brave and on track. Now they are my own authentic words, heart felt. Living in Italy is inspiring and beautiful. AND missing family and friends has made those relationships stronger. Distance and time have changed the 'me' I brought with me. Giving and receiving love comes more easily. With the time difference, voice to voice calls are few, spoken words are precious, I use them wisely and listen more intently. I send lots of love notes too. Not everyone needs to quit their job, sell their house and move halfway across the world to realize their dreams, good fortune, and worth. But I did. And quitting my day job has not yet produced a published book . . . But, it will. As cliche as it sounds, it really is true . . . It’s not the destination, it’s the journey, the beautiful, beautiful journey. ✴

Christine Amoroso is a regular contributor to Holl & Lane Magazine and writes for her own blog, barenakedinpublic. com. She continues to adventure outside of her comfort zone, convinced that's where all the good stuff happens.

I Remember


y dad was a broken man. He did his best but he really had been busted open by life.

And when broken relationships and family expectations and inner demons tore open his chest and exposed his insecurities, he stitched his skin back together tightly, with threads of denial, escape and addiction. He was such a beautiful man, my dad. I always remember his hands - huge and very masculine. His nails were always short, he chewed them right down to the skin, right up until the end. He was tall and handsome and he had the most beautiful smile. He’d fold himself up to take a seat and he’d listen. Really listen. This great big hulk of a man was a great listener, when you could get him to hear. I always loved my dad. Right from when I was young and

wondered what a dad even was and why did I need one anyway? Right from when I was 7 and met my dad and felt the fear of vulnerability and the sting of abandonment and rejection. I loved him when I was 16 when we tried again and I cried and he fled and placed blame where it didn’t belong. I loved him when I was grown and when he walked me down that long, narrow aisle and held my arm as I moved towards a future of family and marriage and children. I loved him when he played with my children and enjoyed being a grandpa and when he brought them gifts and made genuine effort to be in their world. And I loved him when the doctors insisted he was living his last days and he denied and denied and denied, right up until the end. ▶

I loved him when he told me that he loved me. For the very first - and very last - time. “You know I’ve always loved you, right?” he said softly, as we sat on the hospital bed in the quiet of early morning. It was his last lucid day and these are the words I choose to remember most. Because after that day, after the cancer took him into deep sleep and slowly ejected him from his body, I remembered the pain and the disappointment and the deep, deep rejection. I remembered all the words he’d said and all the ones he hadn’t, like “Happy Birthday” and “you’re so beautiful” and “I’ve got your back”. I remembered when he laid blame at my 7 year old feet for the breakdown of our relationship and when he promised he’d come - and didn’t. I remember how it hurt my brother and the guilt I felt for that. After all, he’d said it was my fault. And then I remembered the walk along the river, exploring the seeds falling from trees, drinking coffee and chatting about everything and nothing. I remembered the drawings he did for my children, one each - bright and bold - and the fact that they’d always known he loved them. I remembered the day he’d told me to go for it, that he believed in me, that he was sure I’d ace it at university, that I really should enroll if that was what I wanted to do. And I remember when he looked at me - actually looked at me - on that hospital bed, in those final hours and told me that he loved me. That he had always loved me. That memory brings pain and sadness. Because I loved my dad. I loved him so much. And it wasn’t until he was on his final days that he was able to tell me that he loved me too. And after he went I had to come to terms with all the missed opportunities, the forgotten years, the non existent fond memories. I had to come to terms with what had been lost. But I also realised that if I could forgive my dad, if I could forgive the years of neglect, if I could forgive him for forgetting us, then I’d be able to remember those moments, those precious words and hold them close to my heart. Because forgiving is sometimes choosing to remember the good bits, despite the bad bits. I won’t forget the hurt - the holes in my childhood are too great a reminder. But I choose to remember the good bits - because they’re so very valuable to me as a daughter, a mother, a sister - and as a wife who is learning to love again, learning to trust a

man with her heart. As much as I would’ve loved to have a great relationship with my dad, I’ve found that by forgiving him, I’ve been able to hold onto the small gifts he gave me - and nothing can erase them from this story. When his rejection and absence ripped open my own chest, and when my insecurities and disappointments and fears were open and lying vulnerable to the world, I knew I had a choice. I could pick up that needle and thread it with what I had at that moment. I could stitch my chest back together with a solid vein of independence and I could build a strong cocoon around my heart. I could use bricks of anger and denial and justification - I could pile them up, one on top of the other, until I was safe in there. But in that moment I chose to take a different path. I’d seen what it had done to my dad. I’d seen what he’d lost in his life. So when my dad died I made a decision. I would try really hard to learn from his mistakes. I’d try to remember the good parts and I’d also try to remember the bad parts - so that I could learn and try different things. Other ways of healing and protecting and loving. So I etched the words into my wrist as a reminder to love fearlessly. As a reminder that love is never something to allow fear to keep us from. I wanted to remind myself every day that love is for the brave ones. It’s for the ones who feel the fear and love anyway. It’s for the ones who are determined to live a full and generous life. And so I forgave my dad. I still miss him and sometimes, I’m really mad at him. Sometimes I feel sad about what we missed and at other times, the happy memories make me smile. And I’m grateful for what he taught me. He taught me to love fearlessly and he taught me that even when fear exists, he taught me to love anyway, even if that means that sometimes I have to love fearfully. Best of all? I’ll always love my dad. Because thanks to forgiveness, I can see the good now, not just the bad. ✴

Joni Leimgruber lives just outside Sydney, in the beautiful Hawkesbury region with her husband and their three children. Having journeyed through depression, family breakdown and some of the other curve balls life can throw, she is passionate about cheering others on and encouraging them to embrace themselves and their story.




is cries pierce the deepest sleep I've had all night. I look at the clock.

Damn, it's only been 45 minutes this time. It's the fourth time I've been up with him since we went to bed a few hours ago. My feet hit the floor with a thud. I run into the door frame with my shoulder. I stumble down the hall. I'm in a fog, moving strictly on autopilot. I open his bedroom door and stand over his gently rocking bassinet where his face is screwed up in a cry. I lean down and pick him up, again. He immediately stops crying, opens his big blue eyes, and just stares at me. I am what he wanted. I know this game. I know that the minute I put him back down again, it's only a matter of time until he realizes I'm not with him anymore and we start this dance all over. --I used to love the nighttime. After my oldest son and my husband were in bed and it was just me and a quiet house. It felt peaceful. And then I'd fall into bed with exhaustion, after a day well spent. Now I fall into bed with exhaustion, but exhaustion of a different kind. It's a bone deep exhaustion. The kind you aren't sure you'll ever truly recover from. Now nighttime brings on anxiety because I never know how the night will go. Will he be up every half hour? Or will he surprise us and sleep for four hours straight? More often than not it's the former and I'm walking between my room and his for hours on end when the rest of the world is sleeping. ---

In that moment, in the dark and stillness of the house, all is forgiven and my heart feels full again.

I'm sitting in our hand-me-down rocking chair roughly patting his worn green swaddle. I'm half hoping the patting will burp him, half hoping it will calm him. I hear the sound of the bassinet rocking itself, his soft snores as he's burrowed into my neck. In my head I'm repeating please sleep, please sleep, please sleep. His breathing begins to slow and at the same time, his mouth turns into a smile. The kind of newborn smile that they only do in their sleep. Unwittingly, the corners of my mouth turn up to mimic his. In that moment, in the dark and stillness of the house, all is forgiven and my heart feels full again. I stroke his fuzzy head, I kiss his round cheeks, and slowly I rise from the chair, take the two steps to the bassinet and put him back down. I cross my fingers and back out of the room, careful not to step on the squeaky spot on the floor. I quietly close his door and walk back to my room where I collapse into bed with a sigh. Please sleep, please sleep, please sleep. ✴

Sarah Hartley is the founder and creator of Holl & Lane Magazine. She lives near Pittsburgh, PA with her two sons, Henry and Harrison, and her husband Brandon.

15 Things I Would Tell My 17-Year-Old Self 1. You are worthy of all things bright and beautiful. Wrap your arms around yourself often. Don’t let shame and insults be rent-free tenants in your one and only home. Your body, your bones, the beating beneath your chestfind ways to honor them all.

2. Say what will otherwise make you sick to keep inside. Holding back your truth will hurt you more than it could harm anyone else.

3. Make a list of what you want to be and I can promise you "pretty" and "skinny" won't come before kind, honest, empathetic, driven, adventurous, genuine, and brave. Make a list of people you adore and why you adore them and I can promise you "pretty" and "skinny" do not make the list.

4. Listen to your guidance counselors when they say you are important and can do hard things. One day, you'll know it to be true.

5. This year reveals what you have always known- he's sick. The apology doesn't come. The wounds from his absence don't heal in one summer. They don't heal while you stare at his empty seat the first, second, thirdfourthfifthsixth Thanksgiving. Longing for someone and losing them are two heartaches you'll revisit often. The good news? You get stronger with every season.

6. When you retreat to your room to write and tell yourself, "it's just a hobby"- you're wrong. You are a talent. Sing praise to yourself like your mother does in your birthday cards. The voice you are hushing? That's yours, my dear. You are the goodness of your own story so write it. ▶

7. Life is heavy. I wish this wasn’t so true. But it’s a lot less heavy when you let go of what is no longer yours to hold on to.

8. Feelings are often fleeting. Be light. Don’t sink your entire identity into a story that is no longer true. Float above the worries and doubt.

9. You already know this to be true, but I’ll say it again because you’ve got years of some powerful and precious memories ahead: this life of yours is without a doubt the most beautiful gift you'll ever receive. Find ways to always express how grateful you are.

10. When you feel like you’ve been treading water for what feels like years, place your feet down, my sweet. The ground is closer than you think. Sometimes we put ourselves in the way of suffering. It’s an easy (and fixable) mistake.

11. When your sister is in the hospital and you stare at her wondering if you could lose her forever, when you wash her hair in the shower and hold on to it a little longer because the doctors said The Word, when you drive through Red Rock and stop at the overlook to scream at the top of your lungs because someone, somewhere has to hear you, my goodness, I wish I could hug you as I write this. Because everything will be okay and sometimes it won't. You'll learn about the fragility of life and the art of handling it more carefully. Grace is an unrelenting force. I hope you pay attention.

12. In high school, you and your friends have sleepovers and talk about dream homes with his and her sinks and how you'll have a sweet hubby by twenty-two... I'm here to break the news: you don't get married by twenty-two. Instead, you nanny for a family that teaches you how love stretches and bends, you travel to Indonesia and then to France, you explore Europe, you live with people who make you better, you get an education in the one thing you’ve always held dear, you take jobs that you dreamed of. You make connections. You give bits of your heart away. You love all in a way that is big and unyielding. You are ring-less and right where you should be.

13. Your faith will be strengthened by the mundane. You learn the most about words and the weight of them by living in a country where you don't speak the language. You will feel the power of forgiveness on damp cliffs of Ireland. Freckles on your skin will remind you that the light always get to you. Your mom's hugs will prove to be the safest place to rest and retreat. The little moments reveal the biggest truths.

14. You spend so much time feeling too big for your body and too wordy for those who just stare blankly and too forgiving for those who reserve their apologies and too emotional for people who never cry. Just be. Be all those things because it's who you are. Be the girl that cries when a stranger is hurting, be the girl that forgives because you've been forgiven, be the girl that knows a life doesn’t have to look like your own to be worthy. Be the girl that ignores the world when it claims you are a little "too" much of anything.

15. You are loved beyond measure so love back beyond measure. Live in the blessings spoken to you. Be kinder than necessary. I wouldn't change a thing about this life of ours because *spoiler alert* everything unfolds just as it should.

Katie Visconti is a dreamer and writer living in Las Vegas, Nevada where she works in advertising and leads gratitude workshops. She loves Mary Oliver poetry, slow mornings, and being in bed by 9

illuminate, vol 1  

The first volume of our free biannual publication dedicated to our illuminate writers. Join illuminate at

illuminate, vol 1  

The first volume of our free biannual publication dedicated to our illuminate writers. Join illuminate at