Attitude of Gratitude for 2017 – December 9, 2017 – The Pioli’s

I met these two 33 years ago. We’ve gone through much of our incredible adult lives together. I’m so lucky they are such a huge part of my world.

Last year my good friends Dave and Mary Jane Pioli threw my double nickel birthday party.   I’ve had the wonderful good fortune to have met these two souls in 1984 when I was stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.  We have moved through our adult lives together.  These two took the huge leap and moved away from their families to pursue their dreams in the Pacific Northwest.   They did a post card campaign to my husband and I to entice us to move there as well.   We followed a year later.

Dave and Mary Jane had a zest for exploring the Pacific Northwest and often cajoled my husband and I into going camping during some pretty gruesome storms.  One weekend in January back in 1989, we went camping on the Washington Coast.   We had taken our Nissan mini-van with our three dogs.   The last morning in a down pour, Dave successfully lobbied us to leave early to go to breakfast.  It really wasn’t very hard to convince any of us to go along with this idea.  On the way out of the campground, we hit black ice and the mini van went off the road and rolled down a hill.  No one was hurt.   Oddly enough, the only thing that went flying out of the Mini-van was Mary Jane’s birth control pills.  Dave in surveying the scene found them perched on a shrub about 50 feet from the upside down van.

The mini-van was totalled and too damaged to drive back to Seattle.  Dave, Mary Jane and my husband found a bar to watch football while I found my way to the closest town to get a rental car so we could get back to Seattle   That was a very crowded trip with the four of us, our camping gear, and the three dogs in this tiny rental car.  We were quite grateful though to even have a way home.

Two months after this accident, Mary Jane picked me up at the airport on the way home from a business trip.   The first thing I said to her – I feel like I’m going to toss my lunch.  I think I might be pregnant.  Even though Mary Jane was the one who lost her birth control pills in the accident, I lost something else, my inhibition with having children.  While my husband and I were not trying to have children, we also were willing to start a family in several years.  We had actually discussed this the night before we rolled the mini-van.  We just had no idea it would happen so fast.

For the duration of the pregnancy, I said I was pregnant because of Dave.  It was his desire to go out for breakfast that started the whole situation that lead to the start of our family.  My husband and I had been very successful in preventing pregnancy as I had a very routine cycle.  But the accident changed all that.  It threw off my cycle.  A power outage after a couple glasses of red wine several weeks later, during a time when I thought it would be safe not to use any “protection” – brought our new daughter into being.  Dave thought this was the craziest assertion.  Yet it was hard to refute the validity of this story when she was born on his birthday.

Dave and Mary Jane have been in my life in so many helpful and profound ways the past 33 years.  They have known me every step of my entrepreneur’s journey.  They believed in me when I did not even believe in myself.   I am very fortunate to have the love and friendship of these two very special souls.


Attitude of Gratitude for 2017 – December 8, 2017 – Closing the Gap


My friend Diane on our adventure to San Francisco in February. It was quite the journey to get there because of all the flooding in California. But we made a fantastic lunch for the journey over Donner’s Pass to make sure we would not suffer the same fate as the Donner Party.  Gourmet self-preservation at it’s best.

In early February my friend Diane from Haines, Alaska came to visit me in Carson City.  I met Diane several years ago through this phenomena called “Oneness” I learned about when visiting Kauai in 2014.  It’s an experience you share with a group of people that helps you feel more connected to existence – at one with the world.  Diana had been to India several times where this “Oneness” movement started and is certified to teach people how to share the experience of “Oneness” with others.  There is a large Oneness community in San Francisco and we wanted to go to a couple of their events.

I’m calling this Attitude of Gratitude “Closing the Gap” because it is what Diane helps me do.  My spiritual practice is to live in the innate goodness of others and to be a presence of love and joy in action.  Yet I have not always been as gracious to myself.  In our visit to San Francisco, Diane took me to a class taught by one of her teachers – Patricia Keel.  It was in the class, I could start to feel things shift inside of me and could feel my own innate goodness.  It was a good start.  Thank you Diane for suggesting we go to Patricia’s class.

Attitude of Gratitude for 2017 – Dec. 7, 2017 – My Birthday Twin Madison

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

My birthday twin Madison and I out on a promotional photo shoot the day before our birthdays.

Here I am on February 1st with Madison.  I met her when she was handling the social media for Anne with her  Yoga Anne project.  When Anne decided to go to school to learn how to program mobile apps, Madison joined Cheetah Learning to handle our social media.  Madison and I have the same birthday – February 2.   In this picture we were out looking for hats for some promotional stunt we were considering – I don’t even recall what it was.  What I do recall is we split our sides laughing over these hats.  We took the pictures we needed and put the hats back – that was even more funny.

It was very much fun hanging out with a millenial with a shared birthday.  We worked together for several years and then like most social media positions, parted company to go ply our craft with others in other ways.  I have learned over the years that marketing folks need to stay on the move to stay current.  It was time for Madison to go grow in more ways beyond what Cheetah Learning could offer.  She is creating magic in her own magical ways out in the world.  I’m very grateful we could part company as friends and have stayed in touch.

Attitude of Gratitude for 2017 – December 6, 2017 – My Fondness for Studded Snow Tires

Once I got the lovely studded snow tires on my Honda last January, I busted out of Carson City and headed North. This is Mt. Shasta on I-5 in California.

In late August when I was a kid, I’d start getting my school game on.   Now, I start to think about which of my vehicles in Alaska needs studded snow tires.  Up here, if you don’t have them ordered by mid-September, it’s can be tough to get them.  With the snow, thaw freeze cycle that happens – you’re stuck in your house most of the winter without studded snow tires.  I even have studded snow boots.

Last January though I did find myself house bound. But not in Alaska. Down in Carson City.  It had snowed so much that it was actually accumulating and icing. The snow boots with the ice field crampons I had on when I left Haines to head to Carson, came in very handy when I had to dig out my four wheel drive truck when it went off the steep driveway.

I had plans to head North to meet with some colleagues in Seattle,  and had to drive because I was on flying restrictions due to an ear infection. With three mountain passes to cross between Carson City and Seattle, there was no way my smaller all wheel drive Honda was going to do much better than the four wheel drive truck on the snow packed roads. I called Les Schwab and inquired, “Any way you can get me studded snow tires for a Honda?”  They said, “No problem, we’ll have them here for you by noon tomorrow.”  Best news I had heard in a while.

I got the tires on the car and was off the next day North.  For a wanderlust like me, being stuck at home, while fun for a day or two, gets claustrophopic really fast.  I had places to go, people to see, things to do.  With the flying restriction and the biggest snow year in almost a decade – those studded snow tires were the lifeline to the world as I like to move through it.

Attitude of Gratitude for 2017 – Dec 5, 2017 – Annie Bananie My Best Friend

Annie Bananie my best friend, adventure buddy, daughter and inspiration for all types of fun things in life.

I had wanted to go on the Women’s March on Washington in January.  I reached out to Anne to see if she wanted to join me as she had us going to the Million Women March On Washington when she was just 13 and wow what a life experience that was.  It must have had quite an impact as she said “Mom I really don’t think it’s safe for you to be there.”  Okay, maybe I got a little too into the spirit of the protest when we went to that one back when she was 13.  (and I wonder why my friends say Anne is my voice of reason?).

I was going to go to the March in Reno – but I ended up with a crushing ear infection.  For which I had to have surgery a month later.  So I stayed home and knitted the pink kitty hats.  Anne went to the march that was held in Portland.  A week later, after getting studded snow tires for my car, I drove up to Portland to see a specialist there for my ear and visit with Anne.   (I could not fly because of the ear infection).  Here we are wearing our Pink Kitty Hats in the spirit of that time.

There comes a time when your children start to care for you as you cared for them and this happened for me this year with my ear surgery.  Anne was with me for every part of it.  I think the part where my dog Daisy ate my pain relieving medicinal marijuana pot brownies and had to have her stomach pumped may have been just a little much though.  Anne truly is just like the little book that I used to read to her when she was a baby and toddler – Annie Bananie my best friend, said we’d be friend ’til the end.  It’s not the end for me by any stretch of the imagination, but Anne truly is a fox hole buddy and I’m so thankful and grateful she picked me to be her mother.



Attitude of Gratitude for 2017 – Dec. 4, 2017 – Making Changes

Thank God I didn’t end up with a hairstyle like this…..

I’m the type of person who finds a hairstyle I like and sticks with it – for YEARS.   How I look is not something I fixate on as I tend to live in the world behind my eyes.  So it was a very significant decision to do something different.  For seven years, I had what I called “business women hairstyle number 5” – shoulder length, straight, a little longer in the front then the back.  I wanted to move into something different than business woman 5.

Mid January, I downloaded one of those change your hairstyle apps and tested out a bunch of different looks.  Yeah that is entertaining – try it some time if you haven’t seen them.  I was thinking of going shorter with curls.  Not having a stylist in the area, I checked on yelp and called the salon in town with the best reviews.   The shop I called, the stylist preferred text – PERFECT.  I sent her some of my ideas, she said just come in we will see what we can do.

And this is where I met Kim – who now almost a year later has become a great friend and a fantastic dog and house sitter.  When I first came in she had no idea who I was from Adam – except I had innuandated her with these crazy images of myself with these various hair styles.  And I was wearing my all purple outfit (I have this penchant for dressing monochromatically – must be from my Air Force Days).  She didn’t really know what to make of me at first (I think my brand of eccentricity may be an aquired taste).

This is a couple days after my first perm in about 30 years. An event that would change my life in ways I couldn’t even yet imagine.

Kim had other ideas – as all good stylists do.  So we permed my hair at the length it was.  And then we stopped.  No she wasn’t going to cut it – she wanted to see how I liked it.  We didn’t go too curly the first go round as afterall it was a big step breaking out of pin straight hair business women number 5 to something new.   I totally loved the new look.  My life changed from that point forward in some ways I had to yet to imagine.  Stay tuned…..

Attitude of Gratitude for 2017 – December 3, 2017 – Pristine Beauty

I was contemplating the variety of daily light oriented religious traditions and cultural that happen in December – Christmas,Advent, Chanuka and a general Festival of Lights.  The world is awash in lights for all types of great reasons.  It got me thinking that I’d like to start my own daily “light” ritual for December.  And I started looking through the photo’s on my phone. There are uplifting events that happen on a moment by moment basis in my life – when I take a moment to recognize and

I took this picture January 6th at noon. It’s the view from the Cheetah Corporate Retreat Center.

record them. So every day from now until the end of the year, I’m going to share the light that has shone through my life this year – as told by the pictures on my phone.

I found such happiness in this picture. The pristine beauty of this valley is breath takingly stunning.  I don’t get here that often so I still very much appreciate and enjoy this view.  Based on the location, I was outside taking this picture. I love the snow, and I was likely out playing in the snow with my three lively dogs.  I also like that it’s stopped snowing and it’s sunny – so the snow on the driveway is likely melthing pretty fast.  This picture reminds me of the beauty that surrounds me – and how lucky I am to notice and enjoy it.

Pumpkin Gelato and The Gelato Moment

Discover your own “gelato moment” with this easy to make Pumpkin Gelato.

I had this fantastic Pumpkin Gelato at Nostrana last week while visiting my daughter for her birthday.  So today, I tried to replicate it with great results (it is fantastic and I can imagine it would be a huge hit at Thanksgiving too).

Here is the recipe I adapted from several I found online combined with an ingredient I think was in the Nostrana gelato:


1 15 oz can of organic pumpkin puree

half the pumpkin can with heavy whipping cream

half the pumpkin can with whole milk

2 tbs organic sour cream

1/3 cup organic sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

Pinch of salt


Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a whisk until well mixed together.  Place in a cuisinart ice cream maker and mix for 30 minutes.  For the gelato,  remove from the ice cream maker and put it into a bowl. Freeze for 24 hours.   If you’re okay with ice cream, just keep going with the ice cream maker until the ice cream is firm.  Gelato though has less air in it – so for a real gelato experience, remove before it’s completely frozen.

Besides the incredibleness of this dessert, I was inspired for other reasons to attempt making gelato like we had last week in Portland.  I have not been a gelato or ice cream connesiur.  My daughter still wonders why she is not in possession of my Cuisinart ice cream maker (this is the one that has a built in compressor).  I had a foodie friend though who is a huge fan of gelato so I am thankful I collected my borrowed Ice Cream maker when I moved from Portland.  One of the many things I love about my foodie friends is how in the moment they are when enjoying something that is so absolutely spectacular.   This one foodie friend opened my mind up to how this could be so with gelato.  So now, whenever something is so absolutely perfect in the moment – I call it “the gelato moment.”

I hope by enjoying this pumpkin gelato, you can discover your own gelato moment – and with it, the absolute perfection of your entire life.

Two Blogs, Two Purposes

My last post on this blog, last December – it was time to make some changes in how I was blogging to better support Cheetah Learning.   We are meeting our goals with better Search Engine Optimization through blogging efforts with the Cheetah Learning blog. In the Cheetah world (as in the rest of the world), a lot changes in nearly a year, and I realized, I want and need a blog separate from the main Cheetah Learning blog.   I need a forum to share whatever new and crazy idea I’m testing out – my latest recipe, insight, challenge I’ve set for myself, etc.  I also have a new marketing team at Cheetah Learning who are inspiring me in new ways with the Cheetah Learning blog so I have more brain space now too to share other parts of me.

The 15 Week Neurofeedback Experience – resurrecting my personal blog to track this.

I’ve been toying around with the idea of doing some type of self – improvement challenge.  I started a new round of neurofeedback training to continue to work on optimizing my brain performance.   My father passed away at the end of June and my brain was not performing as well as I wanted it to – just like it did after my mother passed away.  Losing one’s parents is a signifcant life stressor – so I guess I’m just “normal.”  I found my way to a neurofeedback clinic that specializes in a form of neurofeedback called Quantitative EEG I had been wanting to test out.  We set up a 15 week program to get my brain waves and connections operating in an optimal state.   I’ve already done three sessions and I’m liking the impact on my self-discipline and get up and go.  So I figure it might be a great time to blog about the changes I’m experiencing as I go through this 15 weeks of QEEG neurofeedback.

I am doing three to four hour long sessions  a week of QEEG training.  We are starting out with one channel programming to reduce the amplitude of my alpha waves.  For me, with loss and grief,  with the right temporal lobe damage sustained when I was thrown out of the car at four years old, my brain behaves in some odd ways.  Most people’s Alpha waves decrease when doing tasks (this is when the Beta waves naturally increase).  But for me, while I’m not all that conscious I’m upset,  and think I’m coping fine, I will start having a hard time staying awake while reading or working on the computer.  This is a sign my Alpha waves are taking over when they are supposed to be quieting down.   So the first task is to help me stay awake while I’m working.  I’d say it’s working – still at it on this blog, no sleepiness.

The next phase is to get all parts of my brain firing in the right patterns.  While the first brain improvement activity in 2013 got more blood to the damaged parts of my right side of my brain, the QEEG report showed the connections are not balanced on the right side.   So once we quiet down the Alpha waves, we are starting on improving the connection balance throughout my brain.  It will be fun to see what happens with that – stay tuned.

High Performing Business – Learning – Changing My Seat

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

If you don't like your view, then change your seat. But how can you do that if you're stuck in your chair?

If you don’t like your view, then change your seat. But how can you do that if you’re stuck in your chair?

I had a good friend who routinely said – “If you don’t like your view, change your seat.”  For the past several months I’ve been reeducating myself on digital marketing, search engine optimization, everything “social” and have realized I need to “change my seat.”

I’m visiting my daughter in Alaska for the holidays. She is a dietician at the regional health care center that serves 5 small remote communities (most accessible by only water or air).   We were discussing moving one of the micro green systems I donated to the town over to the senior center.  She suggested I go check out their cafeteria but cautioned me to make sure I did not sit in anyone’s assigned seat.  “Assigned seat?” I questioned. “Yes” she said, “they each have a seat they always sit in. Many get very upset if someone else sits in their seat.”

I was thinking to myself on the ten mile drive back from town today, “geez I never want to be that stuck I have to sit in the same chair at every meal.” It didn’t take long for the angel of humility to show up on my right shoulder whispering – “ahem, excuse me, what about your desk chair, what about the seat and area you’ve carved out for your “office” at the end of the kitchen table, what about your favorite stool at the counter, the seat at the dining room table, even your preference for the window seat, couples rows back right side on the plane?” So yeah, I’m literally stuck in my chair too.  Not so easy to change my seat being stuck in my chair.

I started to contemplate too, where else I’m stuck in my chair metaphorically.  At Cheetah Learning, we’re very comfortable with our way of doing things.  What I did to get Cheetah ramped up 16 years ago – we called it an “Integrated Media Promotional Campaign”  today, this needs to be more of an “Integrated Media Connection and Engagement Campaign”.  Having a separate place for me to blog, is also a problem as the search engines now rank based on content, so not blogging under the banner of “Cheetah Learning” actually hurts the business.

So I’m moving these daily blog posts to the main Cheetah Learning blog.  We are also creating a premium  subscription based Cheetah Learning Blog that will include the 8 years of this blog, and a whole slew of incredible content we’ve created over the years – assessments, templates, quick reference guides for project managers, video presentations on a variety of techniques to advance your career – lots of great stuff to help people go for it, at Cheetah speed.

Both blogs are a new zone, a new format, a bit of a new voice.  This is helping me move out of the chair I’ve been stuck in.  I’ve developed a voice on this blog – it’s one I’ve become very comfortable in. When you blog, you blog for yourself as much as anyone else. When I write articles for various publications, I’m writing for a specific audience. But, on these new Cheetah Learning blogs, our audience is quite varied – from those who have come to know Cheetah Learning professionally, to those who I personally share more of my day to day life in the communities where I hang my hat. So, my new voice there will still be of the day to day perspectives of life, but through the lens of a seasoned business owner and entrepreneur; exploring the relevance of what I’ve learned over thirty years of business ownership and innovation. I want to share in a way that is accessible for most to further their own independent ventures.

It’s a good time to make this shift. I started Cheetah Learning 16 years ago. I am going to be running Cheetah Learning for at least another 16 years.  The biz has grown and evolved over the past 16 years to where I no longer have the skill, aptitude or the desire to run many parts of it (my awesome team takes care of the majority of the day to day business).  It is goodness the company has grown beyond where I need to pull the levers day to day.  It’s kind of like raising children – they grow up and move to far away places (sometimes). But just like with my children, there is always a seat for me at the table.   I just don’t want to be stuck in one chair anymore.