Everything Else Can Wait


The snow storm is just really getting under way by the time I make my way home. Somewhere between getting the groceries in, and sending out an email to cancel the evening yoga class, I feel a deep pull starting to build within; a nameless urge to be in the woods and in direct contact with the extraordinary beauty and power of the snow. I know I must respond. I know I will respond. But first, there are the overly rational and fear-driven parts of the mind that must be dealt with.

There are cold and frozen foods that need to be put away. Right now. They might go bad. Your husband is away, so if something happens to you while you are out in the woods, no one will find you for days. It’s getting dark. This is not a good idea. What if an animal gets you? On and on it goes. This part of me always has something to say. Always a fear, or a harsh reminder of my responsibilities, or a “what if,” that it throws out with increasing intensity to keep me in line. To keep me adding up to other’s ideas of me, the culture’s standards, and even my own worn out versions of who I am, and what I need to be.

But on this day I know better. And what I know is this. The rational mind with all of its demands, fears, and shoulds will never be enough to satisfy the longing I feel within. It will never take me to the magic, the mystery, and the freedom that my soul yearns for. Demands, in fact, and must have in order for me to experience the vitality and the connection of this one life to Something More. It is so easy for that hunger to get drowned out in everything that must be done, believed in, and attended to, according to the rational mind.

But on this day, the woods mesmerize me with their magnificence. All of Nature is outlined and lit up in glowing white against a darkening sky. Every edge defined in light. Tunnels made by heavy snow and bowing limbs create endless passageways for me to move through. Thresholds into another world. The air is brushed clean, and so is my mind. Every noise but the sound of snow and wind has been subdued into submission to something greater. Time takes on another quality, and a honed presence emerges. So deeply still is this place, that I am swept up into it; dropped into an effortless meditation that never wants to end.

Over and over, in this place, I am reminded of what I am. And though I know I will forget, every experience like this brings me a little closer to the Truth. I need this. I ache for this. Everything else can wait.



It is a beautiful, blue, clear-skyed Sunday morning. It snowed several inches last night. My husband and I are going for a run, and I am pulling to do the “big loop.” Because it has been months. Because I am feeling it. And because with the snow topping everything, it will feel magical-mystical to be in the woods.

On the trail, there is so much beauty. And so much ice. I have already fallen once before getting out of our own driveway. It had not occurred to me that the trail will be a skating rink beneath a couple of inches of light, fluffy, easily moved past, snow, that will result in my footing being non-existent. But once I am in, I am in. Besides, I think, it can’t possibly be like this the whole way around. Oh, yes it can. As a matter of fact, each time I imagine I will get a reprieve, it only seems to get icier; at times so slick that it is near to impossible for me to move forward without falling. I stop counting how many times I have hit the ice-covered trail.

At some point I walk, which helps some, but not nearly as much as you would think, or more to the point, that I had hoped for. Even though I am crawling along, I am still wiping out. My husband has pressed on. I have thoughts that he may need to be coming back only to find my body shattered against some snow-covered rock. Mostly though, I am so frustrated. This is so not the vibe I thought I was going to be partaking in.

As uncomfortable as this is, I count on this. I need this. I need to be reminded over and over again that life is not supposed to line up with my version of how things should go. No matter how lofty my plans. And the natural world, with her complete lack of interest in bending to my will, keeps me honest, humble, and in my place.

With our need to control, with our need to technologize everything, with our growing fears and lack of tolerance for what is wild, free, natural, and beyond the scope of man, what will be big enough to remind us over and over again that we are not the most powerful force in the Universe? What will we have done to ourselves when we have eradicated everything except what we ourselves, in our limited vision, have created?

The Earth. The Sky. The Wind.


It is a Wednesday morning and I am taking a yoga class. Over the course of an hour and a half, the teacher repeats over and over; Give your body to the earth. Give your heart to the sky. Give your mind to the wind. I am swept up and carried away on this mantra. It feels as though all the instructions I need to live a grounded, fulfilling, and extraordinary life are contained in these three simple phrases.

Give your body to the earth. Can I remember to release into the support of the Mother when my head would tell me to keep pushing forward on my own? Can I remember that like the earth, this body moves in phases, is renewed in cyclic and circular ways, and is the very essence of Life itself?

Give your heart to the sky. Can I remember to look up and open up when life presses in with its diminishing pressures? Can I remember that despite the constraints of being human, there is a vast spirit contained within that is as brilliant and expansive as the sky itself?

Give your mind to the wind. Can I turn over the endless stream of thoughts to the recognition that they come and go like the wind itself; sometimes forceful, sometimes gentle, and sometimes not there at all? Can I let my mind rest in my very own breath, even when, and especially if, it is demanding that I react to all the wrong things?

Steady on the earth. Open to the sky. Free on the wind. Prescriptions for living.



The owl shapes its world without apology. Without needing a reason. Or permission. In so doing, it contributes to a more life-affirming ecology where its fullest expression benefits the existence of those species it shares space with; no matter what it looks like to the outside world.

This can happen only because in the animal kingdom there is no distortion around need. There is no past that warps an animal’s place in the world, or how it goes about expressing itself around others. And because it belongs to, and interacts with a larger community, where its full expression is balanced and in harmony with the full and non-judgmental expression of others, there is no movement, no struggle here that does not somehow fit the moment, and therefore, benefit the whole.

Humans, on the other hand, feel a need to justify, beg for, and apologize for, their right to be here. Their right to take up space. Their right to do what is in their best interest. We see this in the approval seeking so common to our species. We see this in our need to be other people’s version of us. We see this in the rules we play by that have nothing to do with our sanity, happiness, purpose, health, or, by the way, the common good. By choosing to live like this, not only do we warp, twist, and distort ourselves, but we do the very same with those sharing space with us.

Because we do not have a clear and accurate idea of who we are, and what it is that we actually need, we wind up doing great harm to both ourselves, and to others as we bring all of our distortions, blind spots, and histories to every single interaction we have. If you buy this, then, there is no greater legacy that you can leave to the world than to get clear on what your truest needs are, and then find healthy and balanced ways to meet them. There is no greater effort that you can engage in than to know who and what you actually are, and perhaps more importantly, what you are not.

CAUTION: This requires understanding and accepting that you may not always be the most beloved animal in the woods, but you will certainly be authentically and fully whatever you truly are.



I am in morning practice recently feeling quite overwhelmed by the world, and its ways of late. While my mind spins, I find myself automatically going into tree pose. Immediately, I feel more rooted. This welcomed grounded-ness holds me despite the wavering of my upper body. Once established in  balance, I look up only to be met with the purest of reflections from all the trees outside my window.

I sense, feel, and intuit guidance from what I am looking at. I hear how some things in Life are meant to remain beyond the reach of the changing world. Equally, there are some things that are ever-changing. I wonder to myself how it is that I can stay sourced in those things that are meant to remain fixed. And I consider how it is that I can access those places that know how to bend, flex, and are meant to be mutable.

I realize that these polar opposites, taken together, are the qualities of a life well-lived. A life fully expressed. A life that recognizes when to stand firm, and when to yield. A life that nourishes and is nourished. A life that dies and is reborn.

Some of the very best teachings I have ever received have come from the natural world. This requires, though, a kind of slowing down, openness, and receptivity to seeing beyond the daily; beyond the man-made. And so, if you were to be open to the teachings of the trees, one question might be; How could you hold yourself both more flexibly, and with greater conviction?

Letting Go


We are on the brink of a seasonal letting go. A time when the brighter, hotter, busier and more outward energy of summer will give over to the softer, cooler, slower and more inward energy of fall. Nothing in the natural world clings, fights, resents, or laments when it’s time is up. Day gives way to night. Summer gives way to fall. Blooms give way to seed. Leaves give way to their role as fodder for the next year’s growth.

Equally, we as human beings will always have things to let go of; old shoes, rotten food, household clutter, the breath, relationships, and ways of being that no longer serve us. Truly, the list is far too vast and continuous to capture in words. And still, we resist letting go of things we have a strong attachment to. We hold on when we don’t know what will happen next. At times we do let go of our grip only because it has become so glaringly obvious or painful that whatever it is just has to go. And then, of course, there are the times when things gets ripped from us without our permission or consent.

But what if there was a way to begin to cultivate an appreciation, along with a skill set, that allowed for a more conscious response to life in this regard; one that recognized that letting go regularly throughout our lives is as necessary, and ultimately easy, as letting go of one breath in order to make room for the next one to come in?

Swami Kripalu, a wise yogic master, once said that a yogi dies a little bit each day, and then death becomes the next thing. This “dying” that he refers to is not only death in the literal sense, it speaks also to all of the little and big releases we are required to make across a lifetime. When we can loosen a little bit of our hold on life, we not only prepare for the ultimate and unavoidable and big letting go, but as importantly, we make room in life for more ease and more alignment with the realities of life.

If we want some help learning the ins and outs of letting go naturally, rhythmically and cyclically let us look to those forms that know not only how to let go when the time is ripe, but equally how to fully inhabit and express the life they were given when their time is here. Each and every one of us will let go many, many times in one lifetime whether we want to or not. Each and every one of us will let go one last and final time. Why not choose to know this as the approach to living more fully, gracefully and truthfully?

Wild Teachings


Wild Rose has been in bloom for the past couple of weeks. She is pretty much gone now up our way. She is the plant of my heart. An ally. A teacher. A guardian. Because Rose’s flowering is so short-lived, I was making a mad dash to make medicine and personal care products before her time was up. One day, in the midst of making medicine, I was thinking that this powerful, natural and healing presence would be available to me all year long. On the heels of that thought came, “No, it won’t. I don’t have near enough for that to happen.”

And in that moment, instead of feeling a lack around this, I saw the beautiful necessity for me of something not being available whenever I wanted it. Everything is not supposed to be there for us constantly and in every moment. And while we might want this to be so, it is not good for us. More to the point; it is damaging. For us. For the planet. And for our relationships with others.

We people live like big shots on the planet. As if it is all here for our taking. As if anything we want should be easy, convenient, and accessible. All the time. And this mindset is only worsening through the proliferation of the technologies that make us feel as if everything should be instantaneous and ever-available.

What will we do in the face of this? How will we learn to govern ourselves voluntarily? Why should we if we don’t have to. Or want to. Because the wisdom that comes from Nature, of which we are a part, demonstrates over and over again that there is most decidedly a season for all things; a time for everything to be here, and not be here. Much as we don’t want to know it, limitation is a vital part of the cycle of Life. It serves as the bedrock for the conditions of Life to flourish, having absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with scarcity or deprivation.

The Life Within


I am in morning practice; dancing. The music is loud. At a pivotal moment, I notice a robin outside the window. Even though I am moving around, it stays where it is for quite some time. I can see its beak opening and closing in song, though I cannot hear it. During a lull in the music, I decide to open the window so that I can hear its song. Without hesitation, it flies off. This one encounter encapsulates all that I need to know at this time.

It does not matter who does or does not hear your song. Or like your song. You sing it because you can. And because that is what you do.

When you feel uneasy or  threatened, you feel it only in that moment, and you do what you need to do to protect yourself. Without hesitation, doubt or apology There is no story to this. And there is no carrying the moment of threat forward into the rest of your existence.

Most importantly, only your life is contained within yourself. It does not matter what another wants, expects or has imprinted on you. It does not matter what the world is or is not doing. It only matters that you fully and completely inhabit the life you have been given.



The sun is out when I wake up. Within minutes dark clouds have covered the sky. Minutes later rain and snow pelt the ground. The wind gusts. Trees are groaning and cracking. There is so much happening in Nature this morning. There is so much aliveness coursing through the woods. As I step out into all of  this, I too, am brought alive. Well, maybe not at first. At first, my thoughts are anywhere but on the path beneath my feet; my mind skittering here and there. Watching my thoughts, I discover a pattern. Everything I am doing with my mind at this point is so absolutely un-alive. It is old, worn out, and it is dead. I keep coming back to something my teacher would have asked; what does the aliveness in me want? Does it want to replay old stuff for the umpteenth time? Or obsessively anticipate what is to come? Is this what it means to be alive?

We are the only species who can choose not to express our truest nature. By that I mean, we are the only ones who, intentionally or unintentionally, can suppress the aliveness that courses through us. We are the only mammal that can squash the life force itself. We do not start out this way. We do not plan this. But somehow, through the ways of the world, we can end up believing that our aliveness is found in the buzz we get from sugar, caffeine, alcohol, reality TV and the dramas of social media. What wild animal, tree, or weed, suppresses its vitality? Can you imagine a deer or a wolf purposely doing something to limit its energy? Can you imagine a flower suppressing its bloom?

I teach college students and every week I am both deeply concerned and flabbergasted by how many of them walk around like characters from The Dawn of the Living Dead; eyes shrouded and vacant, faces hidden underneath a baseball cap or sullen expression, physical vibrancy noticeably MIA. They tell me they are exhausted, hungry, stressed, sick and overwhelmed. I have come to label this phenomenon in my mind as “the wall;” a difficult to move and difficult energy to penetrate. Where has their aliveness gone? They did not start out this way.

Everything in Nature, except us, keeps expressing every single ounce of its aliveness until it is all gone. Without hesitation. Without explanation. And without apology. You will never see a bear offering a guilty explanation for why he ripped down your bird feeder. And no matter how often you rail against the weeds, not one of them, ever, will  back down. Aliveness does not care about the past or the future. It is not beholding to your fears, your plans or time. It only wants to be expressed. Through you.

At some point, being truly alive becomes a choice. Despite what they showed you, or told you. Despite what those around you are doing. Despite your habits, addictions, mind sets and what is being modeled in the culture. What would it be like to be as vibrant and alive as a small child or wild animal? What would you have to give up? What would you have to open to?

“The great danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”



What Is The Point?


Last night our dinner conversation turned towards, “What’s the point of it all?” As in, why are we here? What is it all about? Some of us were quiet. Some of us are looking for a theory to explain it all. And some of us are OK with not knowing, feeling like it is changing all of the time so what would the use be in trying to nail it down. When things this big show up for me, I take a circuitous, or depending on how you look at it, a direct route, right through Nature. She is the one who always reminds me of the order of things in ways that are not complicated by the human mind.

Recently, a big limb came down off of a beautiful maple tree in our back yard. The branch was nearly big enough to be a tree unto itself. The breaking off left a scar long and wide down one side of the tree. With the limb being severed from the trunk, a big part of the tree is now gone. And yet, not one part of the remaining tree has recoiled or collapsed under the weight of this loss. No part of it has given up or become less alive. As a matter of fact, even the severed limb, days later, continues to feed the leaves as evidenced by their aliveness and brilliance. Despite the dramatic change in its appearance and size, the tree continues to do the only thing it knows how to do; to keep reaching for Life. To continue to experience its wholeness and integrity despite external changes to its shape.

Maybe that is the point. Keep going. Keep reaching. Keep being alive through all of it, no matter what happens. No matter what falls off. No matter how deep the cut.