House Guests


It is always amazing to me how much can be learned just by paying attention to the ways that the most obvious occurrences in our lives relate to larger themes around how we are with ourselves, and with one another.

Recently, we had a house guest come to stay with us while he was in the area working on the new home he is building. As it was a night that I teach yoga, I came in on the later end of my husband and our guest finishing up with dinner. As I was sitting down, our guest asked if I would like some wine from the bottle he had brought with him as a thank you to us. I actually did not want any, but in an attempt to make him feel comfortable and show appreciation for his thoughtfulness, I said yes. To which my husband responded that he also would take a little, even though he had earlier declined.

The next morning I woke up feeling a little off. What’s going on? Am I getting sick? No, I realized, it was the wine. Despite the paltry amount that I had imbibed, what was leaving me “off” was the taking in of something that I did not want. It was the agreeing to something that did not suit me in order to stay in the good graces of another. It was the story that I had told myself about who I would be if I said no to his gracious offer.

Later that day, my husband mentioned that he had woken up that morning with a bit of a sinus headache. He attributed this to the wine. To the handful of sips that he too, had taken when he actually did not want any; getting into it only because I had taken some, and he didn’t want to seem ungrateful in light of my saying yes. He then went on to tell me that when he had seen our guest that morning he had asked him how he had slept. “Not good,” he was told, “I think it was the wine.”

Round and round and round we go with one another. Doing things we really do not want to do in order to please another. We do not want others to think we are rude, selfish, ungrateful, anti-social, or some other characterization that we have whipped up in our minds that we do not want them to label us as. It’s all so ironic. And sad. For in denying who and how we really are, we deny what we most yearn for; authentic and satisfying connection with others. And because we have not given ourselves permission to be as we are in any given moment, we cannot give permission for others to be as they are. Which leaves us coming together based on something that none of us are.

What if we leaned into, banked on, had faith in, that when we speak our truth in the company of another, no matter how difficult, awkward, inconvenient, or socially inappropriate, that it will always be for the best of all concerned? Despite any difficulties or hesitations that we might encounter.

In our home that night a domino effect was created. One that parallels what we do with one another on a regular basis. Our house guest brought something to us possibly because he felt like that was the thing you do when you stay at someone’s home; that we would  think him a thoughtful person for bringing us something. Or maybe un-thoughtful if he didn’t. My husband and I took something we did not want because we felt obliged, wanting him to feel at home with us and included; believing the false gesture of taking something we did not want would pave the way for him to feel welcome.

While there is nothing wrong with offering appreciation to another through a gift, there is most certainly something amiss when we allow ourselves to be locked into habit patterns with one another that keep us from allying with the truth of our experience. Whatever that truth may be. Whether or not that truth is convenient, inconvenient, easy to say or hear, hard to say or hear. It takes tremendous clarity, conviction, and courage to stand in the truth of your experience when in the company of another who has expectations of you. Or who you believe has expectations of you.

Can you imagine, though, what might happen if we all took responsibility for our own experience while in the presence of another, and acted on that as thoughtfully and straightforwardly as we could? Could you imagine letting go of the social “niceties” that keep us pinned to the wrong things? Can you imagine how good it would feel to not have to fake your way through an interaction?

And when we get hung up on how relating in this way is not possible for one reason or another, can we remember that, maybe, just maybe, we would all be doing one another a huge favor. That maybe over time, we would all let out a collective sigh of relief around the fact that we that we no longer had to act in ways that left us feeling “hungover” with one another.

We Belong To Each Other


I have been teaching at the college level for more than a decade. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me on so many levels. And yet, I am back wondering again, as I have been over the past couple of years, just how long I will continue in this role given the accelerating changes I am seeing in the students who are showing up before me.

Over the years, I have witnessed a noticeable decrease in attention. I have watched as they have grown increasingly sleep deprived. I have born witness to the growing attitude that they would rather be elsewhere, and doing other things; mainly, and by their own admission, wanting to get back into bed, back to a screen, and more often than not, both. I have felt and heard of their lack of interest and enthusiasm for the college experience. I have observed in the halls during the times between classes how they are more interested in being bent over a device than they are in hanging out with friends, or taking a moment for themselves.

While all of this has been, rightly so, cause for much concern, truly it pales in comparison to what I have been up against in one of my classes this semester. That being behavior that would be more “appropriate” to middle school (if that case can even be made), than it is to college seniors. I have been required daily to handle such things as students talking when another is talking. Students who are more interested in their side conversations than they are in paying attention to what is being taught. Along with students who regularly miss class, and come late without a thought to check in with me, or explain why.

As appalling as all of this has been, it gets worse. Much, much worse. A core group of students from this particularly difficult class have been regularly smirking and nudging each other, quite openly I might add, over another student in class whose very way of being they have deemed worthy of their ridicule. Their disdain and disregard for this student’s basic worth and humanness has been ongoing. Their complete lack of awareness has been chilling; right down to the fact that they do not even possess the common sense and the decency to know that if they are making a choice to demean another, they should at the very least be making attempts to hide what they are doing. That at least would be a step up for it would demonstrate that they knew what they were doing was wrong. But no such thing has been in evidence.

Despite a number of interventions on my part, this has continued.

And so last week, when it occurred again, I asked the student who was being targeted if he would do me a favor and get something from my car. I did this so that I could speak to the class without him being present. and therefore potentially, humiliated. Once he was gone, something inside of me erupted with such force that I had to pace the room and pause regularly to keep up with the intensity of what was moving through me. I remember very little of the specifics of what I said, but what I do remember was the poignancy of my hand over my heart and the message: We belong to one another. And what is being done here is unconscionable, and will not continue.

In this time of terrible and caustic lack of basic human decency and civility toward one another, whether in the real world or the virtual one, it has trickled down and is overtaking our children. What will become of us when there no longer exists a generation who has the basic foundations for how to respect another human being? A kind of respect that both includes and honors our differences. And one, by the way, that cannot be remediated through programs offered, but that must be lived, taught, and demonstrated in our homes and in our communities.

Do you know what the kicker is? The student who was being targeted, when I took him into the hall to ask him if he would do me a favor, worriedly looked at me and said, “Did I do something wrong? Am I in trouble?” I can barely think on this as the injustice around the person being harmed being the very same one wondering whether or not they have done something wrong, scrapes at me so deeply as to be almost unbearable.

Postscript: Not one of the students, directly or indirectly, involved in making fun of this student has yet to step forward. I find this to be perhaps the most troubling of all. For as human beings we are sure to make many, many mistakes with one another. We can absolutely count on that. Therefore, the true reveal of our character and mettle is born out of and demonstrates itself in our ability to self-correct when confronted with the truth of what we are doing. To re-do, re-work, and make repair for the mistakes and the atrocities we create with one another.

And yet, in this case, not one has stepped forward. Not one.


(Thank you to Vici for nudging me along on this one.)



I am missing the desert.

I miss the simplicity and the directness of living on and so close to the land. I miss aligning myself with the rhythms of the natural cycles. I miss the uncomplicated actions and procedures of tending to my most immediate and real needs. I miss the urgency of living with strong intention. I miss the vast spaciousness of time out of time. I miss the honest efforts of living simply. I miss the like-minded camaraderie and company of other women who had chosen as I had chosen. I miss knowing the immediacy and the importance of this, and more.

We were told that as hard as it was to spend four days and nights out on our own in the desert seeking guidance, that the real test would be coming back into our lives and finding ways to live our vision directly into the world. They were not wrong. As hard as the experience was, truly one of the hardest of my life, there was a clarity about it all that struggles to find itself an easy and permanent home in the midst of the noise, distractions, expectations, and obligations. A part leftover from those days that yearns to give over to everything that was discovered and known.

Where is all of this leading? Perhaps to the knowing that we are best served to notice, and to deeply tune into what it is that is missing from our lives. To allow ourselves to feel it all the way down to its root. And then, to do whatever is within our power to remember, and to re-instate what has been lost to us. And to the world.

But of course, that would require that we are in a position to even have the space to pause, and to listen for more than the relentless, insistent inner and outer drumbeat of doing. Always doing.

Embodied Need


I teach yoga from the Kripalu Yoga Tradition. The core teachings hold that the body is central and seminal to who we are. It is what we come back to moment by moment; both on and off the mat. It is the entry point to Presence. It is the grounding place to further explore the mind and our relationship to Spirit. It is a starting locale for a healthy, happy life, and a deeper connection to All That Is.

Personally, this perspective and practice has saved me. It has provided me with a way not only back into right relationship with my body, but back into my life, and its connections to self, other, and Spirit. This is no small feat in the body-hating and alienating times and culture we live in. And in case you believe that the times we live in allow more freedom for how we express our bodies, personal and societal exploitation of the female form by both men and women does not, has not, and will never constitute a respect and reverence for the body; despite what many think, or have been taught to believe.

To come back to the body requires great skill in navigating your way through because many of us have come to see the body as a foreign, awkward, uncomfortable, de-personalized, and even dangerous place to inhabit. Which is why, as it turns out, so many of us just don’t. Which is why so many of us tap into whatever we can to avoid coming into contact with what is there through the seemingly infinite multitude of ways to numb out. We can do this so effectively and continuously as to dis-inhabit our bodies on a daily basis.

Take bodily need for instance. Pure, unadulterated, straight up, real live needs of the body.

An exploration of need would reveal that many of us have been told what it is that we need by an outside source. And that that telling has often been in contradiction to our direct experience of what it is that we actually need. And then, of course, there is all of the approval and the intrinsic reward of being someone who doesn’t “have needs.” Those of us who subjugate our needs for others. Those of us who never make a wave, issue a demand, or have any kind of a need that might even slightly inconvenience another, or rock the boat of the status quo.

How often have we been forced to accept what most assuredly does not truly feed us? Or make any sense at all to us. How often has the legitimate meeting of needs in our culture been relegated to the “needy” bin; disdained for its “inconvenient” and unsightly requests? How often have we been frozen and locked in terror around speaking a real need? How often have we been unaware that we actually have a choice around how our needs are expressed and met? How many years have we spent being conditioned into the inability to be able to properly identify what it is that we most need? Or bullied into believing that it is not safe to articulate such? And in how many ways have the avenues for healthy recognition and expression of our most basic human needs been closed off? Obliterated.

It takes great courage, commitment, and determination to know yourself at the level of raw human need. It is a scary and sometimes uncertain place. It is a place that might draw ridicule or censorship. Interestingly enough, the humiliation and censoring is just as likely to come from within as without. Through it all of course, is the conditioning that each of our minds creates, listing out all of the reasons why it would be best to not enter into the deep, dark, uncharted territory of pure human need. That it would be better to go without. Or accept what does not satisfy. Sadly enough, this level of neglect and denial will be supported by those around us who are trying just as hard as we are to deny and ignore real need.

Such a quandary. Where to begin in the midst of this? Why with the body, of course! And we begin with what is most basic. As basic as, do you know when you are hungry, and can you feed yourself in a way that nourishes? As basic as, do you know when you are tired, and can you allow yourself to rest? As basic as, do you know when it feels good or not to be in the company of another, and can you allow yourself to act accordingly?

The body cares not for clocks, outer imposed schedules, or social niceties. The body needs what it needs, when it needs it. Period. For your sake, and for the sake of the world, find a practice that puts you back in touch with the Timeless Truths of the body’s deepest and truest needs.