My Funny Valentine


Twenty two years ago we were on a “I wouldn’t want you to think I was asking you out FOR Valentine’s Day, but why don’t you come over and I’ll make you dinner ON that day” date (he actually said that — or similar).

It was a fabulous night, complete with a kiss by the sink as I helped wash dishes — all minus the dance and the goof, but, don’t you worry, that came quick, ha.

Today, we’re more direct (and even more goofy) and much of it is because so much real love and life has happened that’s helped to bond us and motivate us to keep turning on the light (saying yes to personal or individual growth being 🔑).

This was fun to do last night (turned on the camera with no plan for how the dance would go, but did try to learn the lyrics (it’s Love Never Felt So Good by MJ & JT, in case it got muted by FB in some countries) a couple nights ago—if you make it to the end of the video, you’ll see a clip of us trying to do that before bed) AND — I love that we’ve also seen each other through all the days that make you weak at the knees, either because you’re weakest at the moment (weak knees) or you’re the one carrying the weakest (also weak knees).

That he knows the full, real me (part of her is here in this video) and that I genuinely know the real him (ditto) is a privilege, life-affirming, even creative.

It’s all real —

I’ve seen him throw up in a planter when the news of my brother was shared with us that early morning in Miami, he took extra time off work to help me weather post-partum depression while living overseas (rough seas for this new mama), I‘ve seen him through three job losses, he’s been there while I grew confused and stuffed some of my grief, or throughout the many new and painful normals in my family (still going), through me texting or calling him at work (again and again) telling him how I almost accidentally called my Mom again or how much I was pained that day by my family unit deteriorating after the deaths…I’ve seen how quiet he gets when he’s worried about his Dad’s health and how deeply it pains him to have to make tough decisions that affect people he appreciates because of financials at work (again, how quiet he gets)…we’ve seen each other sweat before, during and after eight moves with two being international, as well as throughout 10 years of not knowing what was wrong with Nolan neurologically in sleep or with my arm or his heart incident or or or…

(And that’s it) You can create what you want to be part of at every unexpected shuffle OR leave it up to chance, to the wind, to…?

As with all couples, everything from that first San Francisco date to the dance here to the stained cry face or faces, to the impatience because of grief, the stress because of having a job or not having one or any other bruised or skinned knee situation, is real and real love.

It’s not solely the sweet (or sweet-looking), but the sweat that is worthy of being touched or of being looked at with a smile, again and again — and of being talked about more, given a platform to stand on, both publicly and privately…

It’s ultimately what feels most healing (because it’s honest), what feels bonding & sexy (ode to shared vulnerability), and what feels purposeful (because diamonds ~> formed under pressure).


Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life!

Life is good,




Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur 

Nine Days in the Wild (what he said to me)

I’ve realized over the last year that you’re much more than my mama.

That’s what he said to me while I was bent down hugging and kissing him goodnight in July.

I had just gotten back from nine days in the wild where four of those were fasted days, just water, and three days and three nights sans anyone around 🐻🦁or much to do, but love up on the sights around me (I moved/walked a total of 10-20 feet max per day as I was light-headed, with little energy, only compounded, of course, by being 7,000+ feet up).

It was only me (time and time again, doing my own thing, I realize that you and I, are not “only me” but A LOT — we have a lot, and enough, within ourselves), a sleeping bag, a blow up pillow, two tea lights, matches, a toothbrush, un-scented toothpaste (because~>🐻) a journal, pen, salt for my water (if I needed it), two jackets, other clothing items and a head lamp.

I’ve told close friends what Nolan said to me that night many times, and, more times than this actual recalling or recounting to others, I’ve let his words sink into the deepest crevasses of my awareness.

…this awareness of him, of his own awareness of the world and of WHO Josh and I truly ARE outside of “his parents”, connected to that, an awareness of what he needs from me/society/the world…also — an awareness, of course, of who I am at my core, separate from titles, responsibilities, trials, joys even — that pure unfiltered essence or truth.

He — the experience inside our relationship — has allowed and bled beautifully into truth.

It’s opened what high truth, individuality and relationship means in my life, especially as we each grow in height or heart or awareness even more.

This relationship with him (and the one with self which you can’t separate from a relationship with another) has helped to create all of
T H A T.

I wrote to him in a text recently: I love you, Nolan Luc Mandel. I appreciate the space you hold for me to share and be who I am, all of me, thank you.

All of me, THANK YOU.

#nohiding (🐻🦁)

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life!

Life is good,




Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur 

On Top Of a Plane (literally & figuratively)

This photo popped up on my memory feed today. It’s a photo I posted a few years ago to commemorate a work anni that had passed (I celebrated 19 years in business with Michelle Ghilotti Int’l in September).

I smiled because this is me (I love dressing up and thinking of just the shot for me or a client), but this is also me ~> the woman who loves sweating during a tough workout, being in nature without creature comforts or at home without having to change from morning to night. 

I’m so proud of all that’s been done in these 19 years (and during my 45 years, too): continuing my business in two different countries after leaving the US (I loved watching Nolan play as a few month old directly in front of my desk at our place in Amsterdam) and continuing, too, to grow the whole operation (the company/practice and new family) as I also journeyed through grief with my brother and Mom tragically leaving us in a short period, etc.

It’s been a blessed and regal ride! #painandjoycoexist

Connected to that, I’m celebrating two or so years in the business of genuinely (more deeply/consciously) focusing on my relationships outside my immediate family, especially those friendships that with work, motherhood and grief, I had not watered in awhile. 🌱 

In helping women come up with the words to express themselves and their higher callings, supporting them to get clear on what that calling is, to create true experiences (not just events) for their clients to further transform, helping them to decide how to water their own most important relationships (both internally & externally) and generally create a brand expression that is true to their essence or soul, I’ve witnessed something over and over…

We cut ourselves off from the FULL experience (the JOY) of life when we don’t express one part or the many parts of ourselves.  

As far as dimensions and passion, we are of many, not of one. We are not solely one thing or one expression.

As women (and men) we don’t need to split ourselves up into two or seven different people to be successful. In fact, the opposite is true (I appreciate sharing this with Nolan, especially as the knee jerk for a person at his stage and age is to feel that they do).

If you feel you need to be one way in business and another in real life (or one way in this friend or professional group but another way in another group), know today and this coming Monday and all Mondays that come that it’s all real life. 

Your clients, colleagues, new and old friends all have that same “real life” and a very alive and real multi-dimensionality — you can absolutely live and express the full range of yours.

A fairly wild-sized joy, healing and mystical understanding is intimately connected to it. 

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life!

Life is good,




Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur 

My Interaction with My Driver (Someone is Always There for You)

We were talking for the approx. 20 minute trip. What a sweetheart. Likely my late baby brother, Dino’s, age. He said he was devoting more time to his relationships, “no matter what”.

I understood.

We pulled over because I was at my destination. I bent down to grab my things, and as I came back up, I looked back into the rear view mirror and saw the tears in his eyes.

I see the tears in your eyes, can I hold your hand? 

And we did. 

We travel long distances through life at times looking for or attempting to create these cherishable moments with others who don’t have/make the time or don’t want what we want the way we want it, but that doesn’t mean they (the moments or the people) are not there.

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life!

Life is good,




Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur