Leaving “future gifts”…one grandmother’s idea

I have said it many times before that my mother-in-law, Debbie, has been one of the biggest inspirations for my book and work.

She acknowledges she is not here forever and not only is she aware and accepting of this fact; she likes to talk about it! You know I love that! She is taking control of her legacy, too.

Debbie is an anomaly. That is, most people do not want to recognize their immortality much less talk about it. And, many don’t want to think about their ‘imprint’ after their gone or, what I call ‘legacy.’ I hope to help change that.

One of coolest ideas my mother-in-law recently came up with during one of our “death” talks was to start writing letters to her grandchildren for when she is not here.

She wants to leave letters for them to be opened on future special occasions – like a sweet sixteen birthday, high school graduation, college graduation, or marriage – occasions where she may not be with us. Yet, she can still celebrate these occasions with us through her letters and gifts.

Debbie enjoys dreaming up what to write and what gift or trinket to leave them on these occasions and milestones. She has turned what could be depressing into a life-giving and joy-filled project for her. It may be her God given optimism, but I truly believe if more of us saw life’s ending in this way, we could enjoy more of life today.

I encourage you to embrace what is to come. Think about how you would like to celebrate with loved ones – in person or after you’re gone. And, make any arrangements for those occasions that are meaningful to you. Nothing has to be extravagant or excessive. Simply writing letters to loved ones to be opened at future dates is a priceless expression of love. You are allowing your legacy of love to continue after you’re gone.

Sending love,


6 things I did to prepare our heirlooms for natural disasters

We will all face a disaster of some kind – it may not be a tornado, hurricane or earthquake but regardless of whether or not we are in the path of Mother Nature’s destruction, we all need to prepare for life’s upheaval, which includes preparing our heirlooms.

As Hurricane Matthew advanced toward our city in 2016, it was a category 4 with a frightening forecast. I realized I was not prepared for an evacuation nor what the predicted storm could do to our home and in turn, our family’s memories.

After I finished writing the Missing Pieces Plan, I completed my own set of Missing Pieces Plan worksheets. While walking through the exercise, I took inventory of our family’s heirlooms by assembling my letter of instruction to accompany my Will. (This would assist my executor in knowing how I want my personal affects distributed.) However, the terror of having a hurricane barreling towards our home made me realize there were still missing pieces.

As I waited for the storm to strike, I prepared our home and heirlooms in the event we came face to face with Mother Nature’s wrath. Here are the 6 things I did to prepare our heirlooms for disaster:

1. Tell a Story

I realized that when I am not here, it will be far more helpful and meaningful for my children to see beyond a list I left them and instead, know a story about each heirloom. I spent an hour or so writing a story about each heirloom so our daughters would know some history and the sentimental value to us. I wrote explicit details about my few pieces of jewelry, the art we have, their grandfather’s National Championship football and jersey, my grandmother’s needlepointed stockings and ornaments.

I recommend taking as much time as you can to write descriptions and stories about each of your heirlooms and the treasures you are passing down. And as I have suggested before, it is never too early to share these stories.

2. Take pictures

I took pictures of each item so they could be easily be matched with the written description of each. This is also a great idea for insurance purposes should any items be destroyed.

3. Share

I uploaded the pictures I took to the “Cloud” and invited my sister-in-law to the file containing our heirloom photos. You can also save them on your phone or computer. Or, make hard copies to keep in a secure place – which I mention next.

4. Make a grab bag

Living in earthquake prone California for over 11 years I always had a “grab bag.” This bag was filled with important documents and memories – our passports, birth certificates, our wedding video (still in VHS;-), our children’s journals and baby books. Now, after writing the Missing Pieces Plan, this grab bag also contains our Wills and Missing Pieces Plan worksheets. I have always kept this “grab bag” accessible in a hall closet.

5. Decide what you will take

Before Matthew, I had not thought about what other items I would want to “grab” on the way out. The looming storm forced me to prioritize what I would take and what I would leave behind. In doing so, I consolidated the small heirlooms into one place in a closet next to the “grab bag” in the event we needed to evacuate. I made sure I took pictures of each item we couldn’t take with us.

6. Last wishes

Lastly, I wrote an email to my daughters’ named guardian updating her on my current wishes. This is why I recommend visiting your Missing Pieces Plan worksheets annually to make sure they are up to date!

You may not be in the face of a weather disaster, but one day your loved ones will face losing you. By preparing now, you give them a gift of peace. And I’ll argue, it also gives YOU peace of mind.

Thanks to Matthew, I now know exactly what we consider heirlooms, what is truly important to us. And we have an inventory with pictures, should they become necessary for insurance or my inevitable passing.

It’s happened!

It’s happened!

The Missing Pieces Plan is on Amazon – in paperback and Kindle!

You’ve asked when you can get a copy! The time is now! Today!


(Those whom ordered their copy on Kickstarter, it’s on the way! Thank you for your kind support!)

My mission in creating the Missing Pieces Plan was to help families plan and in doing so, alleviate some of the suffering when a loved one dies.

I’ve given you the tool – – – The Missing Pieces Plan book + the worksheets.

Now, how do I help you keep the book from collecting dust? (Do you need to watch my inspiring “The Chat” interview again?)

Maybe not. BUT, I will share tips from the show to help you get started.

  • Make some time to consider we could all be gone tomorrow. Envision what could happen and what you want.
  • Take a look at the Missing Pieces Plan CHECKLIST (attached) to start your peace of mind journey. 
  • Prioritize what is in the checklist to be applied your life. If you have small children, at the very least consider putting together a Will (where you name guardians) and consider obtaining Life Insurance. And, everyone of every age needs to document and share his or her wishes for end-of-life medical care.
  • Get an accountability partner. Ask a friend to join in the journey of filling in the missing pieces and set deadlines to start putting your plans in place.

And, I would be more than happy to answer any questions. Text, call, email, message, tweet or dm me. I am here for you.

We are on this journey together.

“It’s in this planning, this “work”, this dreaming, that we can begin to fully live, find our true meaning, our values and passions and be able to share those with our loved ones.” 

Sending love and gratitude,



How saying you don’t “want anything” can actually cause harm

A friend suggested I get my nails done before my TV debut a few weeks ago. I obliged. After being ushered over to the drying station, a young woman asked me about my book. She must have overheard me talking about the Missing Pieces Plan. She followed up with, “Our dad died two years ago and he said he ‘didn’t want anything.’ Now, we are still wondering what to do.”

We might think that by saying we “don’t want anything,” we are lessening the burden we leave for our loved ones trying to plan our end of life celebration, when in fact, the opposite is true.

When we don’t leave any wishes or desires and even say, ‘I don’t want anything,’ our loved ones are left wondering what to do. Do they comply with these wishes or not?

Alternatively, when you share your wishes with loved ones, it not only eliminates their questioning, there are other benefits as well. Having a service (of any kind), provides closure, gives your loved ones an opportunity to say goodbye and serves as one more, “I love you.”

What the young woman at the nail salon was missing was closure. She’s still left wondering if not doing anything was ‘right.’ I am sure her father’s intention was not to leave his loved ones in emotional turmoil. I would guess he thought he was saving them from what he considered ‘the burden’ of arranging a service.

Having a ceremonial way to say goodbye, such as an end of life celebration of some kind brings closure. Your loved ones need it. In reality, the service is for the living. Not, the dying. They need to say goodbye and give thanks for your life.

Sharing what you do want is another way to say “I love you.” My friend, Dean Kate Moorehead, has shared numerous stories with me of parishioners who have pre-planned their services. She says when they’ve planned their service, “it’s like they are there.” Many of the surviving loved ones tell her it’s like they’re saying, “I love you” one last time.

Dean Moorehead says that planning your end-of-life celebration “is a great act of love.”

The Missing Pieces Plan is here to help you share your wishes with your loved ones. By doing so, you will help to eliminate their questioning, gift the gift of closure, and say one more, “I love you.”

Wondering how you go about this? The Missing Pieces Plan book has a chapter and worksheet devoted to helping you with the end of life celebration piece of your plan. Additionally, I recommend speaking with your place of worship as they often have literature and their own documents with which to assist you.

Go to www.missingpiecesplan.com to learn more.

A year of Firsts!

This year has been a year of Firsts for me.

A first – writing a book!

A first – being interviewed on TV and for the paper

A first – launching on Kickstarter

A first – learning social media! Blog posts, tweeting, retweeting, tagging, sharing. All new. All firsts.

And this is certainly a first…being labeled as a “mover & shaker.” Ha!

Here’s what I’ve come to learn after a year of so many firsts. 

Although I didn’t plan this, this was part of the plan. A plan bigger than I could have ever dreamed or imagined. This was the universe/God’s plan for me to spread this message, to help people plan, and to help alleviate pain and struggles for families who lose a loved one.

Despite the wear and tear and exhaustion of raising two awesome 6 year-old twin daughters, I am ready for the next round of firsts. I believe this message is important and it’s bigger than me. It needs to be told and shared. 

SO, what’s next?!? The Missing Pieces Plan will be launching on Amazon.com in the coming days. Stay tuned!

If you pre-ordered your book on Kickstarter, you will be receiving your copies soon!

Thank you again for all your support and love! I am so grateful.

Sending love always,


P.S. I am always looking for people who are willing to share their story with me. If you are interested in sharing yours, please let me know. You can always choose to be anonymous, too.

And the Kindle Fire HD goes to…

Hey! Great news!

We just randomly selected the winner of the Kindle Fire HD 8” Bundle!

We also are giving a gift to the person that shared the contest the most. Yay!

There’s more!

You’re all winners today because

The Missing Pieces Plan w​as just launched on Kickstarter today!!

Get rewarded for backing the Missing Pieces Plan project 2 ways:

PLEDGE: Make a pledge to the Missing Pieces Plan campaign and earn rewards!

SHARE: Share on social media and gifts to sharers will be given throughout the campaign!

Go ahead and check out how the Missing Pieces Plan can help you and your loved ones live now, by planning for ‘later’ and gift a priceless gift – of peace of mind.

The winner of the bundle is Lisa Pelzek-Braun. Congratulations on winning the Kindle Fire HD 8” Bundle!

Click here to back the project and learn more about how the Missing Pieces Plan book can impact your life: Missing Pieces Plan Kickstarter

Thank you!


Is there such a thing as planning too soon?

Is there such a thing as planning too soon?

I don’t think so…

A good friend often makes fun of me for planning my daughter’s birthday parties months in advance. I LOVE any opportunity to plan. Especially fun occasions like parties or trips.

I hold the belief that nothing can be planned too soon – even how we choose to leave our loved ones.

“Leave a mess or a legacy.”

We get to choose what and how we leave our loved ones.

For many (or most) it may seem too hard to do what I’m suggesting, but that’s the beauty in the work. A more fulfilled life – a more LIVED life.

It is my hope that with the work we will do together in the Missing Pieces Plan book and accompanying worksheets, you will gain a better understanding of how you want to live NOW all while leaving your loved ones more prepared.

No one can prepare for what is to come completely. However, by doing a little planning today you can ease the burden your loved ones will one day face in your absence. The planning done today is a gift beyond measure. It is a priceless gift.

I hope you’ll join me as we launch this book and this movement to help us all prepare for what is to come and give a priceless gift – to ourselves and our loved ones.


We are launching the Missing Pieces Plan on Kickstarter NEXT WEDNESDAY!

Please help me bring the MPP movement to the masses by pledging to our campaign!! As friends and family, you’ll receive first ‘dibs’ on pledge categories and access to an Early Bird Special!

A Priceless Conversation: Yes, let’s talk about death!

Why do we avoid talking about death?

Our Botox driven society does everything to prevent aging let alone accept the reality of death. Which is why, when death becomes a reality, most of us are inadequately prepared to deal with it.

Why? Why is it so hard to talk about – let alone plan for – how we might want to ‘go’?

Today’s medicine as well as our longer lifespans makes options ‘at the end’ that much more complex. However, despite the complexity, the discussion (and written wishes) of how you want to die is a gift. A priceless gift to those you leave behind.

Too many families are left in anguish or regret, wishing they had known how their loved one wanted to die in the end or how they wanted to be remembered. We can remove the unknown – did I do enough? Is that what she/he would have wanted? How could we have had more quality time in the end? How could we have lessened their suffering?

I am here to suggest that beginning the conversations NOW regarding your death will ultimately lead to a greater sense of how you want to LIVE – in the here and now, with your loved ones.

Yes, I am asking all of us to do a hard task. But aren’t there countless sayings about the splendor that exists on the other side of hard work? The opportunities are endless – what you will learn about yourself, your loved ones, your true desires, and how you want to create or build upon your legacy.

So, not only can you build the life you want, but you can do the same for your legacy and dare I say it, your death.

Join me as we start the conversation with loved ones and let them know our wishes. Peace of mind is a priceless gift to leave your loved ones.

Wishing you peace and love this holiday season,


My Fufu and her burnt orange Texas longhorn Nike tennis shoes

What I would give to have my grandmother Fufu’s burnt orange longhorn Nike tennis shoes. “Fufu” was my dad’s mom and as the story goes, I am credited with her awesome one-of-a-kind grandmother nickname, Fufu. She was born Frances Fitzgerald. However, the nickname Fufu suited her so well.

My Fufu was a larger than life figure in my life (and I am pretty sure in the lives of my cousins and other family members as well). I spent a lot of time with her growing up. Most of the memories take place at her home where I would have sleepovers, swim and play with my cousins.

What I remember most about my grandmother Fufu were her painted on brown eyebrows, her ruby red lipstick, her Mexican inspired flowy blouse tucked into her long full skirt synched with a wide elastic belt adorned with a large gold daisy buckle and… those burnt orange Longhorn Nike tennis shoes. Oh, and her perfume! I think I’ve only smelled it once or twice on passing strangers in the 20 or so years since she’s passed but it takes me right back to sitting on her lap.


Club Med circa 1984

I don’t have the burnt orange longhorn Nike tennis shoes because I never asked for them. I was in my early 20s when she died and it wasn’t something I thought about it. Or maybe I did. I just thought there would be an opportunity to ask for them, but there never was.

You may care more about a family ‘heirloom’ that has more monetary or less monetary value than a pair of old sneakers, but if there is something you care about that you would like passed on to you from a family member, ask for it. Make it known that it means something to you. It’s likely your family member or loved one doesn’t know. I am sure my Fufu never dreamed I would want her sneakers!

How do I ask??

“Fufu, I want your sneakers when you die.” Sounds a little weird coming off the tongue. And, knowing my Fufu my request may have amused her. Me having the gall to think she might be leaving this earth?

So, How do you say it? Make “the ask”?

“Fufu, I would like for you to leave me your sneakers. I want to see them and think of you. They mean something to me. They remind me of you – and how you always danced your way through life – on a little extra padding.”

I wonder if we had shared this conversation, what it would have meant to her? I know it would have meant the world to me. Just the memory of the conversation itself. Then, the sneakers would have been cake.

When your loved one is gone, you will be glad you made “the ask.” That you not only have the memento or heirloom, you will have the memory of making “the ask” and sharing a priceless conversation.

Sending love,



The Missing Pieces Plan KICKSTARTER Campaign launches January 4th! Enter to win a NEW Kindle Fire at www.missingpiecesplan.com. No limit on entries!!