On Being Lost


Away on retreat recently I got lost in the woods. Really lost. For hours I bushwhacked until I finally made my way to a trail system, which eventually took me out of the forest and into the car of a very nice man who got me back to where I was trying to go.

The next day I made my way back to the trails I had stumbled upon and spent the morning exploring the main branches and all of the little ancillaries that would eventually dead end somewhere. And even though I did not necessarily know where I was going, I had a familiarity that I did not have the day before. This gave me more confidence and a sense of groundedness to be back at least somewhat knowing where I was, where only the day before I had been utterly lost.

Along with a better sense of where I was, I also brought better supplies. This time I was more prepared, resilient, and therefore, at ease. This allowed me to settle into myself; no longer being in a kind of survival mode. No longer having to work down self-generated, along with realistically-based, fears. And it got me to thinking.

Even though the day before had not been what I had signed up for; having originally intended to do a little effortless exploration (which explained my lack of preparedness), and even though I had had moments of thinking I might be spending the night out in the woods unprepared and unwilling, somehow the experience had gifted me with something.

What that something was showed up as an opportunity to dig a little deeper inside of myself to separate fact from fiction. For instance, when lost, I would catch myself in a kind of made-up panic. Almost like given what was happening, I was supposed to be freaked out when in fact, in any particular moment, I was actually perfectly OK. Warm, dry, fed, able to move, able to think and reason.

Or I would start running some story about what this meant about me. How it wasn’t how I wanted to be spending my time. What others would think. When in all actuality, the truth was, I was just a woman wandering around in the woods, knowing that at some point I was going to come out somewhere. I mean really, who cares where I came out as long as I came out?

Through being lost, I see the beauty of the metaphor it affords us all. That being, that when we find ourselves not knowing where we are, we have a choice. We can go down the rabbit hole of fear, judgment and self-recrimination. Or we can be where we are until we know where we are.

Just Being


No clock. No phone. No schedule. No running water. No computer. No talking. No electricity. No hair brush. No datebook. No mirror. No make-up. No doing for anyone else, but me.

I am away on a self-generated retreat for 5 days and 4 nights in an off-the-grid cabin in the woods. I am commemorating the 1 year anniversary of a vision fast I did in the desert last year at this time. It is tradition to mark the experience. And it is more than that. I feel called to take the time to reflect on the past year in a way that is free of the usual obligations, and most of all, free of the expectations I carry of myself. The ones that no longer serve.

While I was away, my theme was “getting to just be.” As in having a chance to see who and what I am when I am not linked into all of the things that I do every single day. Like how I look to others. Or when I am supposed to eat or sleep according to a clock. Or how I need to feel at any given moment. Or how I use my words. Or keep my commitments. Or smell.

This kind of experience carries with it the power to take us back to a natural and unself-conscious way of being within ourselves. Something that is actually a birthright and was present to us as children before we were conditioned by the circumstances and experiences of our lives. To a place inside where we innately and instinctively know exactly how to move and breathe and think and feel and want and need and voice and exist; according to rhythms simple, truthful and authentic. And while it is there waiting for us, always and in all ways, it takes time to peel back the layers. To quiet the critical and limiting voices in your head. To give yourself the permission.

And it takes practice. Lots of it.

Do you ever wonder what is beneath all the doing, the structuring, and the tending to the cultural, relational, and personal expectations around who you need to be? Want to find out? If so, how about scheduling your own version of a retreat to “Just Be.” You don’t have to go far. Your own home could do as a start. All you need is some space on your own. Whatever that looks like for you.

Turn everything off. Chuck the schedule and the have-to’s. Let yourself lay around. Let yourself be directed by simple basic urges like bathroom needs, hunger, thirst, comfort, rest, and movement. Let your mind do what it does without taking it too seriously. Or better yet, put it on vacation mode. Include lots and lots of Nature. She is the greatest teacher of all around how to just be naturally.

So whether you have an hour, a day, or a weekend, what would it be like to give yourself over to the experience of just getting to be? No apology, justification or explanation required. Or even allowed. Can you imagine giving this to yourself? Time to just be? Moment by moment. No matter what the mind might throw up saying this is stupid or that you do not have the right, or that it is too much or a waste of time.

You do have the right. As bestowed upon you by Creation itself to be fully and authentically a being who gets to just be.




Longing: a strong desire, especially for something unattainable.

Sometimes I am unexpectedly brought back to dreams and longings I had as a child. Feelings which some might categorize as idealistic. Maybe even naive. And yet, somewhere deep inside of me knows that those yearnings are something to be on the lookout for. Something I can trust.

I don’t know about you, but there are so very many things that I long for in this world. And maybe it will turn out to be true that these strong desires of mine will never be attained. Somehow though, I do not think that matters.

Lately, I am caring less and less about that part. Caring less and less about how I might look attempting to do something that may not happen. Embarrassed less and less by how foolish, naive or ridiculous even I might appear. Less and less afraid to go all out; willing, instead, to take the risk that I may not be met.

I am feeling this way because I cannot bear the thought that I will leave this world without at least trying. At least believing. At least taking a chance that what my heart longs for might just be possible. And so I pray for the courage to not only open to these longings, but to take steps in the world on their behalf. For they want to be born. Allowed a chance to live. Allowed a chance to be felt, seen, recognized and experienced.

Here are some of the things I long for:

A world where it is safe to be fully and completely who you are.

A world that protects children.

A world that puts real human needs first.

A world that loves the planet and acts accordingly.

A world where corporations are in service to Life.

A world where we can believe different things and still get along.

A world where telling the truth is the gold standard.

A world where any and all of our most basic survival needs and rights are fully and lovingly met.

A world where those doing the most valuable and precious work for the good of all are the ones most heavily rewarded.

A world where we lift one another up.

A world where individual expression and group affiliation are in harmony.

I could go on, but how about you? What do you long for?

It is so easy for us to be embarrassed by our need, conditioned to limitation as we are. So easy to feel laid bare by our desires out of the fear that they will never happen. So easy to feel stymied by old hurts that imprinted us with the wrong information. So easy to be cautioned into submission by what will they think? Or, who am I to be so bold as to long for…?

But what if the whole point here is less about the actual getting, and instead all about what becomes possible when we decide to go for what we long for? It is a daring and bold thing to hold the reality, the rights, and the responsibilities of being an adult right next to longing. A kind of head meets heart. Experience meets hope. Maturity meets innocence.

Can you imagine?

What Women Want


For 8 weeks this past semester, I taught a yoga class for women sponsored by The Counseling Center at the college where I teach. The aim of the series has been to empower women as a basis for preventing sexual abuse and exploitation. We have covered areas like self-care, stress, self-esteem, boundary setting and more. Last week’s topic was sex.

At first, I could not for the life of me figure out how I was going to blend sex into a yoga class. And while I know there are those practicing a kind of California-germinated-tantric- yoga-sex thing, this is not my understanding of Yoga. On the surface then, it seemed that maybe they did not go together in a way that I could make sense of and teach to. And yet, upon further exploration, I found that they actually do. Quite well as a matter of fact.

For if we begin with the premise that any valuable and satisfying sexual experience with another begins with our own ability to be present to ourselves, what it is that we are feeling and wanting, then the connection becomes a no-brainer. Yoga offers a deep and meaningful opportunity, through practice and various techniques that are fundamentally built to bring us into relationship with ourselves, to connect to who we are and what we are experiencing. And from this place, we will know exactly what we want in a sexual encounter with another. Along with what we do not want. Nor ever want to tolerate.

Best of all, this approach to sexual intimacy is based in the body and born of the moment. This as opposed to being pressured by misguided internal and external perceptions and expectations about what we as women are supposed to want, and do, and look like. You know the drill.

This approach with the young women struck gold. For when we were done, they spoke openly of what they are up against in The Age of Technology; all of the images and expectations that they feel they must match up to in order to be desired. Hot. Wanted. The sense that it is more important how they look during sex, then how they actually feel. More important to present as something then actually enjoy the experience.

They spoke of yearning for connection but finding that dismally lacking in the “hook-up” culture where all too often their male partners were expecting them to act like they were in a porn film. Or, at the very least, that both they and their partners had skewed expectations around how their bodies were supposed to look, along with how it was all supposed to feel. A kind of sex based on all of the images and conditioning they have seen across the screens in their very short lives.

And so, here we are again. One more example around how the unchecked and unconscious uses of the screens are distorting our children’s childhood. Insinuating its ugly messages right in between our children and their most intimate of experiences with another.

When will we learn? When will we as a culture begin to make some difficult and long overdo protective changes to what it is that we are allowing our kids to be exposed to? When will we say enough? When will we understand what it is that we all actually want, and then work our hearts out to get it and give it to one another?

Being The Difference


“I will act as if I do make a difference.”  William James

How often do we live our lives as if what we do, does not matter? Resigned to the status quo of our own limitations. How often do we believe that the problems we face in the world are beyond us? Someone else’s issue or doing. And how often do we feel so small and so insignificant that it seems like our actions would never amount to anything worthwhile? Noteworthy. Impactful. Or resounding.  And so, we do nothing. Or worse yet, we blame and complain.

To know that you make a difference is to know that you matter. And to know that you matter is to know that everything you do, and do not do, counts. One way or another.

The ancient yogic seers named the time we are now living in as the Kali Yuga. The Iron Age. They predicted a time of great difficulty and struggle with the prevailing attitude being apathy. As in, lack of feeling, interest in, or concern. Indifference. A kind of inertia of action. A resignation of the mind. A numbing of the Spirit. A disconnection from the Truth of our very existence.

Do not allow it. We cannot afford it.

And while the pull can be great, the cultural conditioning intense, the personal wounds deep, the time is now ripe to step beyond the old apathetic patterning. Everything, everything is calling, cajoling, pleading, begging; Please, step forward. In whatever way you can. Please, Step Forward.

If you resonate at all with this, but are unsure of what it would look like in your life, try saying to yourself each and every day, “I will act as if I do make a difference.” Watch what happens. Watch what happens when you open yourself up to this level of Truth. Watch without agenda. Watch with a curiosity around what might be possible when the irons of the age of apathy are lifted.