Lisa McKay's Blog

January 22, 2015

It used to be that the question that stumped me was, “where’s home for you?” It took three years and a memoir, but I finally made my peace with that word home after we moved to Laos. Now the question that’s leaving me tongue-tied and bewildered is different. It’s, “Are you excited?”

I’ve been asked this question at least half a dozen times this week. We’re moving, you see—to Vanuatu, in the South Pacific. We’re going to live on an island, in a town where cruise ships dock. We’re essentially going to live in a postcard.

So people naturally want to know if I’m excited.

And I don’t know how to answer them, because the truth is I’m not sure I do excited.

When I hear the word excited I think of longing, of feverish anticipation, of impatience. I think of a “can’t wait” feeling, and a “must be there now” eagerness.

I haven’t felt any of these things in relation to our move, really.

When Mike rang me to tell me he’d gotten the job, I mostly felt relieved. All the agitation and impatience I associate with excitement was present in spades during those long weeks of uncertainty. The whole process from application to in-country interview only took three weeks, but by the time the offer came I felt as if I’d been holding my breath forever. It wasn’t until I heard those words, “we’re going to Vanuatu,” that I finally exhaled.

Weeks of tension ebbed away, and what flowed into the vacuum wasn’t excitement as much as a general sort of happy.  

It was wonderful to go into Christmas (a season that included visits by both sets of parents) knowing that we were headed towards good things in early 2015. It’s been fun to see Mike excited about the new role he’s stepping into. And it’s been bizarre—in a good way—to try to wrap my mind around the fact that for the first time in 20 years I’ll be able to travel from my door to my parent’s door in about 8 hours.

But I haven’t felt impatient to get to Port Vila.

I’ve been enjoying our last weeks here and (I’ll be honest) particularly our last weeks surrounded by a team of wonderful care-givers who spend so much time looking after our two kids. Right now, Dominic’s at school, happily engaged in making volcanoes out of sand and baking soda. Alex is at home roaming around with our driver and housekeeper (who I’m pretty sure he loves just as much as he loves Mike and me). The packers come in five days, and instead of running around or wrangling our offspring I’m sitting here in a café downtown. With coffee. And my laptop. Writing about how I feel.

If that’s not luxury when you’re the mother of two kids under four, I don’t know what is.

It’s a luxury I have greatly appreciated during these last eight months, and that is part of the reason I stumble when people ask me whether I’m excited about moving to Port Vila. This is pretty much the definition of what Elizabeth Gilbert would call a “champagne problem,” but it’s hard to get too excited about the next good thing while you’re still enjoying the good thing you’ve got. 

Mike and I talked about this yesterday afternoon, wine in hand, while we waited for the kids to come back from an afternoon playgroup. (Again with the luxury).

“Maybe I’m defining excitement too narrowly,” I said. “Maybe it’s not just about needing the future here now. Maybe it’s more about feeling enthusiastic and happy, awake and alive. So maybe I do feel excited.”

“Maybe,” Mike said after he listened to me talk in circles for a while. Then he said, “I have two other theories. First, you’ve never been to Vanuatu. You’re taking my word for it that it’ll be a good place for us, but it’s hard for you to get too excited about something that’s still so intangible.”

“OK,” I said. “What’s your second theory?”

He grinned.

“Well, let’s face it. You’re not great at goodbye’s. So my second theory is that you’re dreading leaving so much you’ve mostly checked out of this whole process. It’d be hard to feel excited about what’s next if you’re mostly ignoring the fact that we’re leaving.”

“I am so not ignoring the fact that we’re leaving,” I argued. “I’ve been stocking up on essentials like silk scarves and cheap DVDs for weeks!!”

It was right about then that the kids came home and we jumped on the dinner, bath, teeth and bed treadmill, and were spared any further discussion of my excitement or lack thereof. But now I’ve had a surprising (and very welcome) decent night of sleep and some coffee, here’s what I think.

I think that on days when my energy reserves are low the thought of more change—even good change—can be exhausting instead of energizing. I think my energy reserves are low about 80% of the time at the moment (thanks Dominic and Alex). I think that I’ve coped with that reality by mostly staying focused on the present and enjoying the little things during our last days here in Laos. I think that has largely helped keep dread at bay, but has probably also stifled some excitement. And I think that what I have been feeling in the midst of all my focusing on the now is still complicated, and I have always struggled to let one word stand where a thousand are needed.

So here’s my new strategy.

Given we now have one week remaining I think perhaps I can acknowledge that we are actually leaving.

I will honor the contradictory mixture of dread, anticipation, gratitude and sadness this ushers in by leaving this café now, going to the shop across the street, and buying a purple silk scarf that I in no way need, but definitely want. Then I will go home and start packing.

And from now on, when people ask me whether I’m excited, I’m going to keep it simple. I’m just going to say yes and declare it to be so. And in saying it, I’m going to take one step closer to meaning it.

What about you?
What makes you feel “excited”?

P.S. And while we’re speaking of things that make people excited, we haven’t broken it to Dominic and Alex yet that there’s no Dairy Queen in Vanuatu.

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Published on January 22, 2015 19:48 • 3 views

January 12, 2015

Laos is beautiful this time of year. During these three months it’s easy to forget how oppressive I find the heat during the rest of the year. But it was deliciously cool this morning as I walked through the streets of downtown. The Mekong glowed in the early light. Tuk tuk drivers shrugged and smiled as I declined their offers. I thought—as I’ve thought many times since we made the decision to move—that there are many things I will miss about this country.

I know this move is a good decision for us. Mike will be taking on a Country Director role that’s a good step for him professionally. The climate, while still warm, will place less strain on my body. We will be a hop, skip, and a jump from our Australian friends and family (globally speaking). And Mike and I are suited to small-city island living. We like ten-minute commutes and quiet evenings with each other and friends. We don’t generally pine for theaters and department stores and the gazillions of choices that developed-world living presents.

I know all of this. And, yet…

This season of leaving is still very difficult.

I hope, I believe, that we’re stepping out towards something good. But to get there we have to leave something good, too. And the outlines of what we’re stepping towards are still relatively hazy at this point. It’s what we’re leaving that we’re seeing, touching, and tasting every waking minute.

There is so much to like about Laos. The majesty of its rivers and mountains. The sheen of silk. The taste of sticky rice, lemongrass, and tamarind. The pervasive, gentle, courtesy, of its culture. The way both men and women attend to children…

Our staff love our children. The first thing our maebaan, Pok, said to me when we told her we were leaving was, “Oh, Alec! Koi kit howt lai lai” [Oh, Alec. I will miss him so much.]

“I know,” I told her in Lao. “Alex will miss you too.”

And he will. Both our children ask for our maebaan, our driver, and our night guard during the weekends. They can’t understand why their favorite play buddies just don’t show up two days a week. Our maebaan and our driver are married, and sometimes they take the kids to their house for the day. Their seven-year-old son, Sing, is Dominic’s favorite little friend. And it raises all sorts of complicated maternal emotions in me to admit this, but sometimes Alex prefers Pok’s arms to mine.

I’ve moved many times before (although as a serial expatriate, it’s debatable how well I do farewells… I think this is one area where practice most decidedly does not make perfect). This is the first time, however, I’ve faced the prospect of untangling my young children from relationships that are important to them. Alex (who will sometimes answer me with Lao words when I speak to him in English at this stage) is going to get a rude shock without his adoring posse to carry him around all the time, And somehow we’re going to have to explain to Dominic that our staff aren’t coming with us, and neither is his dog, Zulu.

I started this process yesterday, as we played with the blow-up beach ball globe that we have.

“Where do we live?” I asked Dominic.

“Yes,” I said, when he pointed to Laos. “But we’re not always going to live here. In a couple of weeks we’ll go visit Nana and Papa’s home in Australia. Here. Then we’re going to move to our next home, on an island. Here.”

I pointed to Vanuatu and Dominic’s eyes narrowed.

“You like Nana and Papa’s home, right?” I said, dangling the promise of a visit to the land of Nana, Papa, and the green mower like a carrot in front of his three-year-old nose.

He didn’t take the bait.

“Yes,” he said. “But most I like Laos home.”

And then he ran off to play with Zulu.

It’s going to be a hard goodbye.
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Published on January 12, 2015 01:26 • 10 views

December 28, 2014

If I had to pick a phrase that captured this year it might be “sudden change”. We started this year facing a massive change, and now we’re ending it in the midst of another.

Last New Years Eve found us on board a plane that had just taken off from Bangkok airport. Mike had been diagnosed with cancer 72 hours earlier and life had changed on a dime. We were heading back to Australia for surgery and treatment. We didn’t know then that Mike’s cancer was already stage two/three, that he would need three rounds of BEP chemo, and that we wouldn’t return to Laos for five months. (If you want to read more about this time, here are all the cancer posts).

June found us finding our footing in Laos again. Alex was literally finding his footing as he learned to walk. Dominic started a preschool program weekday mornings. The boys turned 3 and 1 in the same weekend. Lisa published From Stranger To Lover and started picking up the threads of her work on long distance relationships again. Mike rejoined the World Vision team and started to regain his energy (and his hair).

We had time to catch our breath a little before the next major change hit our horizon, and this New Years Eve we’re facing another—much happier—life transformation. Mike has been offered the position of Country Director for World Vision Vanuatu and we’re moving there early in the New Year.

We will leave Laos in late January and spend a couple of weeks in Australia doing the rounds of supermarkets, dentists, GPs, and oncologists (it still makes me blink when I remember we need to check in with Mike’s oncologist on a regular basis from now on). On the 18th of Feb we will fly to Port Vila where brand new adventures await.

Bring it on! I plan to share more on this blog as we make our home in the South Pacific, so let me know if there is anything in particular you’d like me to write about.

May your new year bring many (happy) adventures to you, also.


Lisa, Mike, Dominic & Alex

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Published on December 28, 2014 19:57 • 9 views

October 27, 2014

For a while now, behind the scenes, I’ve been working on an exciting new resource for my side gig… a page where you can find a whole lot of the best information out there on how to make your long distance relationship work, all in one place.

That page goes live today!

Follow this link or click on the image at the bottom of this post to check it out.

Friends, can you please help me get the word out by sharing a link to the tips page?

My aim in creating this page was to draw together excellent articles and other great resources on key topics related to long distance relationships–communication, conflict, things to do, gifts, closing the gap, and much more.

I want this page to reach as many people as possible, and the best way to make that happen is if friends and family join me in spreading the word.

Can you help out by sharing a link to the tips page on facebook or twitter so that your LDR friends can find it? To make it super easy, I’ve included a click to tweet link below.

Click To Tweet…

How do you make a long distance relationship work? Check out this great new resource: 50 Best Tips For LDRs




Making Your Long Distance Relationship Work
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Published on October 27, 2014 15:30 • 14 views

October 13, 2014

Last week we returned to Luang Prabang for the first time since we left, more than a year ago. Those of you who have visited Luang Prabang will know what I mean when I say it’s a special place. Those of you who haven’t, imagine a small town nestled in between two rivers and cradled by jungle-covered mountains. Imagine gold-gilded temples meets old-world French architecture. Imagine orchids and saffron-robed monks and sticky rice steaming in small bamboo baskets.

We didn’t own a car during the three years we lived in Luang Prabang, so most evenings after Mike got home from work we would strike out on foot. Walking those streets for three years etched Luang Prabang into my internal map like no other place I’ve ever lived. It’s maybe the only place in the world where you could drop me anywhere in town and I would know where I was.

(Here, Mike would doubtless say that you would hope so, given that the Old Town is entirely contained within three parallel roads, but that is beside the point.)

The point is that I know Luang Prabang. A million footsteps mapped it into me, and coming back was a sort of coming home.

Mike and I weathered some very difficult times during the years we lived in Luang Prabang – broken bones and medical emergencies, two spinal surgeries, depression, post-natal anxiety. We both floundered in stormy internal seas during our first year as parents.

But when I go back to Luang Prabang now I have to reach to pull those difficult times into view. As we walked around those familiar streets, it was all the good things about living there that flooded back – all the happy evenings and favorite restaurants and the lush, pervasive, and perfectly proportioned beauty of the place.

We timed this return visit to coincide with the annual Fire Lantern Festival that marks the end of Buddist lent, so our first two nights there were lit by the thousands of flickering candles that adorned the temples and the singular brilliance of hundreds of paper lanterns ascending from all over town into a still, dark sky.

We went back to our favorite waterfalls and we drank Mojitos by swimming pools. Waiters and market vendors remembered our names and did a double take to see red-headed baby number two in tow. We reconnected with old friends and we spent (too much?) money on beautiful silk scarves and wall hangings.

We remembered all over again that there have been many, many things that we have loved about our time here in Laos.  And that we were lucky to have lived in Luang Prabang for three of those years. And that even when times feel dark, future days can bring the hushed serenity of candlelight and the fierce brilliance of fire rising, rising, rising into the night. 

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Published on October 13, 2014 21:50 • 4 views

August 24, 2014

You guys, I am driving in Vientiane. I know this might not sound like a big deal but, trust me, it is.

Our driver has been very sick, so I’ve had little choice but to face my fears and tackle the rutted roads. And when I say rutted, I am in no way exaggerating. It’s the middle of the rainy season and you pretty much need a four-wheel-drive to get down the road to our house. This is what happened on our lane (three times) the other day to some unwary trucks…

And while we’re showing random photos, this is a woman fishing in the rice paddies right outside our gate.

In the last two days I have mustered up my courage and ventured further afield than the grocery store and Dominic’s pre-school. Yesterday, I drove myself somewhere brand new for an appointment. Mike helped me map out the route before hand. Here are the instructions we wrote down:

 At the electricity company with the elephants on the lawn, veer left.
You’ll pass a lot of barber shops and the gates to a big temple.
After the big temple gates, you’ll see a sign for grilled goat. Take the next right.
Take the third road to the right.
At the end of the dirt road you’ll see a big set of wooden gates.

 This sort of “landmarking” is how we navigate everywhere in Vientiane. The directions worked perfectly but that didn’t make the journey totally stress free. Later that day I had the following conversation with Mike.

 Me: “So, when I was coming home today, I got to the orange roundabout. The cars already in the roundabout, turning left, were stopped, giving way to me. I was going straight through so I kept going. But then when I was already inside the roundabout, someone coming in from the right didn’t stop and he almost hit me. What gives?”

 Mike: “Were they driving a bigger car?”

 Me: “Yes. Maybe. Maybe a little bigger. Not much.”

 Mike: “Then he wins. You should have given way, even if you were already in the roundabout. That’s just the system here.”

 Me: “That’s ridiculous.”

 Mike: “Size matters, honey.”


So it’s been a while since I updated you all. We’ve been back almost three months now. We’re definitely more settled, but I still feel like we’re taking it week by week (and in some cases day by day).

Just in the last four weeks…

Mike has had giardia.

Alex and I both came down with nasty 10-day colds.

Dominic caught gastro during his first week at preschool and was up vomiting all night on his birthday. And then again the next night.

Our driver’s been in hospital twice, and we had a nasty couple of weeks where we thought both boys had been exposed to tuberculosis. It now seems the driver probably doesn’t have TB, but no one is any closer to figuring out what he does have. According to our part-time nanny, “the spirits just want him to die.”

But in between all this lurching from mini-medical-drama to mini-medical-drama we’re doing well. It’s a life of extremes here. I really don’t love the fact that last week we found two little poisonous snakes inside the house, but there are plenty of things I do love about living in Laos.

All the help we have, for starters. You guys, money might not be able to buy you happiness, but when you’re the mother of two young children it can sure buy a healthy measure of sanity.

During the days I have someone at the house who can help with the kids most of the time. It’s impossible to over-state how much more I enjoy being a mother with an extra set of hands (or two) around. This sort of help means that I can work most mornings while Dominic is at preschool. I can grocery shop without lugging a baby around on my hip in the tropical heat. I can make dinner without a cranky baby tugging on my leg and bellowing to be held. I generally don’t do any dishes, laundry, or cleaning.

Cue the angel choir.

It’s not just good for me – the kids benefit, too. When our night guard arrives about 4:30, Dominic runs straight outside to greet him. They usually spend the next hour or so playing in the sandpit, hacking leaves off banana trees, digging in the garden, and generally pottering around together.

And Alex is adored within an inch of his life. I have never seen a culture where everyone – women and men – are so universally warm and capable with babies and young children. Alex and Dominic will go off with our staff to playgroups at other people’s houses and all sorts of inexplicable and wonderful things happen there. I’ve seen video proof, for example, that Dominic will eat raw broccoli if a playgroup nanny feeds it to him. 

What else do I love about life here at the moment?

The kids turned 1 and 3 two weeks ago, and we had a lovely party to celebrate complete with construction cake (total Mama win).

Dominic has just started to do weekday mornings at a Montessori preschool five minutes from our house. There are still tears every morning when I leave him there, but I love what I’ve seen of the school and I think he’ll really benefit from being there.

I love the new routine I’m settling into of working in the mornings and spending time with the kids/life admin in the afternoon. 

I love loving that there are a dozen other mamas nearby I can call at the drop of a hat for play-dates, advice, or just to say hello.

I love that when I can’t get to making dinner for whatever reason, I can call up Mike and get him to pick up takeout on the way home from work. We can get two lots of pad thai and mango & coconut sticky rice for $10, or grilled chicken and sticky rice from the street stalls for less than that. At the local market we can buy a week’s worth of vegetables for about $20, and I also love that our kids are as comfortable shopping here as in Woolworths.

Despite what it’s done to the local roads, I love the rainy season storms – the way the clouds roll in dramatically and the rain sheets down with ferocity that’s straight out of the Old Testament.

I love that we’re taking a week’s holiday next month… to Phuket in Thailand. Because from Laos, Phuket is our local getaway and the easiest place to go with young kids.

And after the way this year started, I love that Mike’s first six months post-cancer scans came back looking good. I love seeing him back at work in a role he enjoys, slowly getting stronger and picking up some steam as the weeks tick past. Hooray for life post-cancer.

What are you loving about your life right now?

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Published on August 24, 2014 18:34 • 19 views

July 28, 2014

When it comes to long distance relationships, most people believe that they’re destined to fail, especially if you start your relationship at a distance.

In this case, however, most people are wrong.

The internet has re-shaped many aspects of life, including dating. As Mike and I (and many other couples) have proved, you can build a true connection with someone even while you’re far apart. However, it’s a lot easier to do this if you:

Know how to spot and avoid some common pitfalls of long distance dating
Establish healthy boundaries and patterns in your relationship early on
Put creative effort into communicating well with your long distance partner

During the last couple of years, I’ve been working on a book to help long distance couples learn to do their relationship better right from the start.

That book is From Stranger To Lover: 16 Strategies For Building A Great Relationship Long Distance and it launches TODAY!!

Want to help me celebrate? You can do that by…
1. Buying and/or reviewing the book TODAY (it’s on sale!!)

Whenever you launch a book on Amazon you want as many people as possible to buy it and review it right around launch day. That’s helps Amazon “pay attention to it” and makes your book show up on lists and in searches so that other readers can find it.

That’s why I’m offering the book for 99 cents for 48 hours only! After tomorrow, the price will go up to $4.99.

I’m also offering a bonus (and a HUGE thank you) to anyone who reviews the book by the end of tomorrow – any one of my other books in our shop, free!

Simply leave a review on Amazon and email a screenshot of that review to In your email, let me know which book you’d like and I’ll email you your free book.

2. Sharing the news

Help your friends, folks. Do you know someone in a long distance relationship, or have friends who are online dating? Do them a favor and forward this post to someone who might benefit, or share it on Facebook or Twitter.

There’s a lot out there on how to meet someone online, but very little on how to actually build a great relationship across distance once you’ve met someone you’re interested in. Here’s your chance to help out your dating friends. (And here’s a tweet to make it easy for you.)


If you don’t have a Kindle but still want to read the book, no problem. You can buy a snazzy PDF version (complete with pretty formatting) right here in the Modern Love Long Distance shop.

Thanks, friends.

Your support makes me feel this happy, even if it doesn’t make me look this cute…

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Published on July 28, 2014 05:22 • 13 views

July 23, 2014

When I told Marianne I’d write a post about the courage to say yes, I had it all planned out.

I was going to start the piece by referencing saying “no.” There would be a brief anecdote about how my two-year-old’s main mission in life seems to be finding new and creative ways to provoke me into using that very word. Then I’d talk about how my inbox is full of people telling me to “Say No, No, No All The Way To Success,” and how my new book, From Stranger To Lover, looks at how the dynamics of meeting someone online conspire to lower our inhibitions, encourage casual intimacy, and facilitates poor boundaries in a new relationship. (In other words, when we’re online dating or in a new long distance relationship, many of us don’t say “no” enough.)

Saying no, I had planned to argue, is about keeping people and distractions at a safe distance. Saying yes, on the other hand, is about letting people get close enough. It’s about risking vulnerability and letting them see the real you – complete with pain and struggles – despite any fears you might have that they won’t like what they see. It’s about being willing to ask for help when you need it. And for many people, especially the go-getter crowd, I reckon it often takes more courage to say yes than to say no.

As far as essay structures went, my plan wasn’t bad. There was just one problem …the more I tried to actually write the piece, the more I became convicted that saying yes to letting people get close enough isn’t a core challenge in my life right now …jump on over to Marianne Elliott’s blog to continue reading this post.

Also, check out some of the other Courageous Company posts in this series.
I particularly liked Dani Shapiro‘s post on courage and writing.

Where do you need courage in your life right now?

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Published on July 23, 2014 17:55 • 14 views

July 21, 2014

Today I’m delighted to host a guest post from my good friend, Marianne Elliott. I first connected with Marianne around the time she published her thoughtful, vulnerable, memoir about spending time in Afghanistan (Zen Under Fire: How I Found Peace In The Middle Of War) . I love Marianne’s writing, and I know many of you will resonate with her topic today – saying goodbyes. Despite all the practice I’ve had, I have a ways to go in this area! You can find out more about Marianne on her website, here.

I’ve had to say a lot of goodbyes.

I recently calculated that between 2001 and 2008, when I was working as a human rights advocate, the longest consecutive time I slept in the same bed was 11 nights. Lots of coming and going.

It turns out that goodbyes come as a part of the deal with the particular lifestyle I’ve chosen — and yet, they never seem to get any easier.

I’m remember getting ready to say goodbye to Afghanistan back in 2007. I decided not to extend my contract at the end of the year and the weeks were zooming by. I could feel the goodbyes looming and although I knew it was time to go home, I also know that these goodbyes will be hard, some of them heart-breaking.

I found myself tempted to withdraw rather than look the people I loved and cared about in the face and say “I’m leaving. Goodbye. May you be well despite all this and may we meet again”. It seemed appropriate that my farewell party was interrupted by explosions all over Kabul, forcing all invited guests to stay at home.

I also remember that as hard as it was to move on, I was ready for the next adventure in my life.

And then there’s that other kind of goodbye — the kind that you are not ready for, the kind that tears right into the very deepest, softest part of your heart and takes away something that you treasure, something which you had started to believe might be there for good.             

When the time comes to say goodbye to people and places we have several choices.

We can rush through each day distracted by the to do list and focused on the end point. We can focus on the new possibilities which can be opened up only through this process of letting go. We can sit and reflect on all the factors that make this departure very right at this time. We can wallow in the sadness, drowning in a sense of loss and of uncertainty about the future.

We can treasure every moment, making the most of each opportunity to say farewell with care and to honour each person and place that is being left. We can feel overwhelmed by all that is left undone, all that has not been achieved. We can mourn the alternative endings, the alternate futures which didn´t survive the crucible of real life.

And we can swing wildly from one of these choices to another. At least I know I do.

In the end, more than anything else, we hope to find the courage within to say goodbye honestly, exposing the depth of our love for those in our lives and the equal parts fear and hope that we carry for the future of wherever we’re leaving.

Just like everything else in our lives that matters, saying goodbye is courageous work.

I have said so many goodbyes in my life and, although I can feel a part of me retreating from the fullness of the emotions that will come with the inevitable next round of leave-taking, I also know that there is only one kind of life for me and that is a life felt-fully.

Over the years and through the many goodbyes, one of the things I’ve learned about courage is that we can ‘positively reinforce’ our own courageous choices by taking time to notice them — to recognise them and actually give ourselves some credit for them.

Here’s a practice I come back to again and again:  

Take a notebook and a pen. Set a timer for ten minutes. And then start writing out all the simple, small and ordinary ways you have been brave in your life. We are not looking for anything particularly grand. Just moments in which you connected to your core and chose the brave path.  

Maybe you reached out to a friend with whom you had a misunderstanding, or who you had hurt, and asked forgiveness.

Maybe you told someone when their behaviour was causing you discomfort or distress, despite your fear of confrontation.

Maybe you shared a story of your own personal loss, pain or sorrow with another person, to help that person feel less alone.

Maybe you found the courage to say goodbye, plain and simple, despite how sad you were.

If you struggle to get started, write that too. You can write “I can’t remember anything I’ve ever done that is brave.” And then, using a tool I learned from the great Natalie Goldberg, write “What I really want to say is…” and see what comes.  

Keep writing. For ten minutes, keep writing. Write whatever you remember, and whenever you get stuck come back to this question: When in my life have I chosen to be brave?  

Once you get going, the likelihood is that you have chosen courage in so many small (but deeply significant) moments in your life that you will run out of time long before you run out of memories of your own bravery.  

When the timer goes off, stop. You can read back over what you have written if you want, but you don’t need to.

The point is that you have been brave.

Many, many times in your life you have chosen courage. And you can do it again.


About Marianne

Marianne Elliott is a writer, human rights advocate, and yoga teacher. Brené Brown called her “One of the best teachers I’ve ever experienced … a beautiful writer and a courageous truth teller.” Marianne writes and teaches on creating, developing and sustaining real change in personal life, work and the world.

Trained as a lawyer, Marianne helped develop human rights strategies for the governments of New Zealand and East Timor, was Policy Advisor for Oxfam, and spent two years in the Gaza Strip before going to Afghanistan, where she served in the United Nations. In Afghanistan, she decided stories were her weapon of choice, and yoga was her medicine.

Her next round of 30 Days of Courage, an online guide to bravery in action, starts on 4 August. Find out more about the online course here.

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Published on July 21, 2014 17:06 • 26 views

July 14, 2014

When Mike was diagnosed with cancer just before New Years, we pressed the “pause” button on a lot of things in life – Mike’s work, my work, and our time here in Laos. During the last six weeks we’ve begun, slowly, to move forward in all of these areas again. We are back in Laos, Mike is back at work, and now I am starting to pick up the reigns of some of my own projects again.

Among other things, that means moving forward with my work on long distance relationships, and guess what???

I’m thrilled to announce that my long distance relationship website Modern Love Long Distance is getting back up and running today!!


While the site was taking an emergency sabbatical I thought I’d give it a facelift. Have a look around. The blog has a snappy new look, and we now have a working shop! Woot!

In the next couple of months all sorts of great content will be hitting the site. Here’s a sneak peek at something special that’s coming down the line …

My next book is launching in two weeks! From Stranger To Lover: 16 Strategies For Building A Great Relationship Long Distance has been almost three years in the making. I wrote the first draft during the year after Dominic was born, and I’ve revised it several times since then, so I’m thrilled to finally see it ready to hit the virtual shelves.

And, here’s a “family and friends” special as a small thank-you for reading this blog. For the next 48 hours only, if you would like an advance readers copy of From Stranger To Lover, you can drop me a line on and I’ll email you a free copy.

Thank you for all your encouragement this year. We have really appreciated all of your virtual cheerleading and hugs during the hard times, and now your support and celebrations during new beginnings and ventures.

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Published on July 14, 2014 14:45 • 17 views