Finding What You Love


I was in a yoga class recently where the theme for the morning was Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance. I knew this about her. What I did not know was that she is also known as The Restless One; the one who keeps creating more and more and more. Without end. This aspect of Her reflects the principle of creation spiraling out of control. What is it that finally allows The Restless One to settle down into enough? Finding what she loves. Finding what matters most to her in all the worlds. The Hindu mythologies so beautifully and poignantly depict the experience of being alive. In this world view, the gods and goddesses are not just energies somewhere up in the sky, but are, instead, reflections, lessons and guidance for those of us here on Earth.

That day my mind kept coming back to something that I know to be true: When we find what matters most in our lives, something inside of us settles down and gets very, very focused. And very, very clear. It is like all else begins to recede into the background when you have your eyes squarely focused on what is most meaningful to you in life. Given the times we are living in, could this not be the one True North for all of us? The technologies are accelerating the pace of our lives and our attempts to keep up. The screens are more and more usurping the time we spend with our loved ones. Personal devices continue to squeeze out our children’s childhood. It is all happening at such a rate and to such an extent that it is hard to know how to handle all of it. Mostly, it seems to be taking us over and having its way with us.

But what if we made a conscious and regular effort to identify what we most love in life. What if we allowed the depth of that to still our frenzied mind and consumptive behavior? What if we stripped everything down to that? And for that. From this perspective, there is no deprivation. There is no hardship when we align with what matters most, even if that means doing without, or letting some things go. Perhaps one of the greatest abuses of the way we use the technologies is how we regularly loose track of what matters most. Instead of being part of a destructive creation cycle, what if we learned to still ourselves through love? Through protecting childhood. Through honoring our bodily needs. Through honoring our relationships. Through creating instead of destroying what is most precious to us in all the worlds.



Last Monday morning I opened the curtains to see everything coated in white. What a welcome surprise! I moved quickly through preparing my son’s breakfast and lunch, eager to be done so that I could make my way into the woods. I was yearning to be part of those early, unmarked moments; “first tracks” as we used to say in skiing. Only, I didn’t actually care about laying down the first imprint as much as I cared about the experience of everything being covered, quiet and untouched. More than anything, I needed the deep, deep quiet and the way that the external stillness holds me and reminds me of a place inside.

Winter is the time of the Kidney in Chinese Medicine. In this tradition, organs represent both the physical health of the body, and so much more. The Kidney is said to be the home of our deepest essence. This is where our truest nature resides. This goes beyond a job, the roles you play, your history. And while it includes all of this, it is transcendent of this. To line yourself up with your deepest self is to slow your pace, do less, retreat more. Now is the best time of all the seasons to go inward. This is the time to turn in. To slow down. To semi- hibernate. To nourish the roots. To take stock. It is the time to listen more deeply than we usually do.To do this requires that we learn to say “no” more often as a way of creating room for tuning in at this level. It means saying “no” even to the things that we enjoy, or feel we must do. Where is an easy place in your life this week that you can begin practicing “no”?

Without unstructured and open time in our schedules, we run the risk of creating more of what we do not want. Pressed beyond our limits because of stress, lack of sleep and busyness, we erode the health of the kidneys along with the very best in our nature. We know this. Somewhere inside we do understand that there are ways that we live that take a toll on us. And yet we continue. Why is this? Maybe we are so caught up in keeping up that we lose sight of what is truly happening. Maybe we have created a story in our minds about what it means to be busy; it means we are important, safe, not lazy. Maybe the busyness itself is a shield against knowing what we would rather not know.

While Winter is the dormant part of the yearly cycle, it is far from a time of nothing happening. To the contrary, this season is the essential precursor to the time of more creativity and outward expression that comes in the Spring. This is the lull, the hush, the void, the pregnant pause that precedes birth and growth. To change course or to nourish well for the next season of our lives demands going in. Without this level of contemplation we doom ourselves to create over and over again what it is that we do not want, but have always done. And so keep doing.

We Are The Gatekeepers


For years, I had been wanting to add to my college curriculum a focus on how technology was adding to the stress load so many students were carrying, how it was distracting them from their studies, impacting their health, and creating a barrier between them and their friends. But I was afraid. Afraid of being seen as out of date. But then life stepped in. In the span of one month, I was made aware of two stories involving two beautiful young girls, inside and out, both fifteen at the time, and both of whom I knew.

The first story involved one of the girls sexting with a boy. He was not her boyfriend, or even a potential boyfriend. This girl had not experienced so much as a kiss, and yet here she was exchanging naked photos of herself and telling worried friends that it was no big deal. The second story involved the second young woman who started a texting relationship with a much older boy that she had met only one time. Early into this exchange, the young man became sexually suggestive and aggressive in his texts to her. At this point, her friend’s sent a text asking him to stop. He responded by texting back that if she told her friends any more about what he was saying, he was going to come find her, and do the most violent act of sexual aggression you could perpetrate on a woman’s body. Despite the advanced nature of this interaction, this girl too had never been so much as kissed. Amidst the horror of this, she dismissed it all by saying that it was not a big deal because it was just a text.

For weeks after hearing this, I was not right. I would spontaneously be overcome by grief and anger. I raged inside. I sobbed whenever I thought of them. I felt frustrated and disempowered.  I believed there there was nothing I could do. Or so I thought. Without knowing what I was doing, I took all of this to my college classes. Because I didn’t know what to do or how to proceed, I started at the beginning. I began by telling them these two stories in great detail. I was very emotional in the telling. It was clear how overwrought I was. And much to my surprise, you could have heard a pin drop that day. The class was riveted, and not because this was news to them. When I asked them if any were shocked, or if this story was new to them, not a single hand was raised. As a matter of fact, I went on to ask this question for a number of semesters in a row to literally hundreds of students, and still, not a single hand went up.

I have come to see now why they were so focused on what I was saying. They were fastened to my horror, my grief, and my anger that the innocence of these two girls and their precious budding sexuality was being squandered without apology, and was even being justified as something that was “no big deal.” And that was when I knew. I knew that for all of their bravado about how great things were, it just wasn’t true. Somewhere down deep they did not feel good either about what was happening. And when they saw my unfiltered reaction, in that moment, they could not deny it. It is so difficult to pierce the illusion around the collective agreement and collusion regarding how all powerful and amazing the technologies are, that it has taken me a long, long time to catch up with the truth. But please know this, all the way into the deepest part of yourself; they are not OK with what is happening, despite what they do or what they say.

In subsequent classes, I went on to tell them about how my family was living and how we were raising our children with little to no technology. I had no idea how they would respond to this, I only knew that an opening had been created, and so I took it. To my great surprise, they broke open too. They spoke of what was not working for them. They spoke of their anxieties in trying to keep up. They spoke of their dissatisfaction with their relationships. They spoke of not being able to sleep at night due to interference from their devices. Later, they came back talking about changes they had made. They taught, and continue to teach me so very much about human nature. They have reminded me about what we all yearn for despite the ways that we get sidetracked. They regularly remind me that the younger generations look to us, despite what they might say or what we might think. They remind me that the human spirit is infinitely creative when it receives the support and the inspiration it requires. They show me regularly just how difficult it is for them to handle this. And they openly and regularly worry about the generations to come.