One of the most life changing things I have ever done was to see my life and what I did as having meaning. A purpose. Even when I am uncomfortable. Even when I do not know what to do or what it all means. Even when what I am doing goes against the status quo, or what it is that someone else expects of me.

It wasn’t always like this for me. For many, many years I had no sense of purpose. That meant that I made destructive, trivial and nonsensical things important. Very important. It was all that I had. That meant that things like partying, how I looked, what other people thought of me, and what degree I had were where I put all of my energies. Were what I made my purpose. These things defined me. They said, “This is who I am, and this is why I am here.”

Then I became a mother. Unexpectedly, the experience culminated in what St. John of The Cross called “The Dark Night of the Soul.” A time of total upheaval. A time when everything I believed in and valued got called into question. It was excruciating. And it was disruptive. It felt like I was being torn limb from limb from the inside out. What prompted it? A vow to value the life of my children. A vow to live on purpose for them.

This heartfelt commitment put me on the path of purpose and meaning. One far greater than I had ever known. One that while being done for another, gave me back to myself in a way that I had never experienced before. But not before passing through all of the ways that I had made the wrong things be the most purposeful and meaningful in my life. But in the end, through committing to valuing and protecting the life of my children, I came to do the same for myself. And then, for the world. I would never be where I am today had I not made a firm commitment to show up for them. Relentlessly and tirelessly.

Showing up for another is some of the most powerful personal medicine on the planet. Showing up in this way has nothing to do with being a martyr. It has nothing to do with being co-dependent. It has nothing to do with sacrificing yourself in some distorted way where you ignore your own needs. Or where your over-doing somehow manipulates the other into giving you what you need. What I am talking about here is real, healthy, good old- fashioned sacrifice.. A kind of subjugating yourself to something more than yourself. And it does not have to be big, flashy, visible or institutionalized. As a matter of fact, at its best it shows up as needed. No questions asked.

Showing up for another means just that. It is a “come as you are party.” One where you bring yourself and what you have in the service of another. You don’t need much. Or anything specific. You do not need a degree, and it is not about being perfect. Nor is it about giving to the detriment of yourself. Or to the detriment of the other by doing for them what is best done by them.

Through your devotion to another life, you will find yourself at the center of perhaps the most meaningful purpose you will ever stumble into. It puts me in mind of a wise woman who when I was in the midst of doubting whether or not I had what it took to be the mother of a very difficult baby, said to me “She already knew what kind of a mother she was going to get. This is about you being the mother you are, for you.

And there it is. When we give ourselves over to something more than ourselves, at some point it takes a big U-turn and heads straight back for us. It’s a boomerang effect where what you receive is the equivalent of what you give. Only, that can’t be the reason why you do it. The powerful, fulfilling, and life-changing boon you will gain access to comes only when your intentions are pure. In other words, done in the service of another. Done in the service of real human needs being recognized, honored and met.

Try it for yourself. Make a commitment to show up for another. Give yourself over to it and watch. Watch how it helps you to get out of your own way. Watch how through the giving, you find yourself over and over again; beyond your self-imposed limitations, beyond your hang-ups, neuroses, failings, and self-preoccupations.

And isn’t this exactly the medicine of the day? One that considers more than our own limited agendas. One that has the power to propel us into the most purpose-filled lives we never could have ever imagined. One that prompts us to show up for another. What could be better? What could be more healing and satisfying than this?

Being & Belonging


Something that has been up for me for years, being somewhat of a preoccupation, is how I can be who I am while being in relationship with other people. Now you might say, of course you are yourself. Who else could you be? And of course you are in relationship with others, just look at your life. On the surface both would be true. However, I find that there is something much more interesting, and challenging, that resides below the surface of being and belonging when we are willing to look.

In the early years of life we were all 100% who we were as babies and young children. Quite literally, we knew nothing else other than being. Just being. Whatever that meant. In joy, sorrow, hunger, need, exhaustion, satisfaction, fear and trust. Then, the weighty and complicated importance of relationship began to take hold. We knew on a primal, basic, survival level, that we would not be OK without those around us, and that meant that we were bound to how they felt about us. Meaning that we had to do things to keep them interested in us, wanting us, willing to look out for us. And so, we began to make adjustments. A little here. A little there. A lot here. A lot there. In the process, we began to forget how to just be unto ourselves. Without negotiation, justification or distortion.

The need to belong began to take precedent over the need to be. And perhaps developmentally, this is as it should be. Who knows? What I do know though is that the loss of being able to just be takes its toll on all of us. For there is no authentic expression, no joy, no ease, no true fulfillment unless our lives are an expression of our truest Being. Simultaneously, there is no true belonging unless we are fully being ourselves. But this is a gamble that many of us would rather just not take.

When I was in the desert a couple of years ago, there was a small tree that symbolized the Christmas tree of my childhood. I spent one day placing little rocks underneath it that represented gifts that I so needed as a child, but never got. As you can imagine they were not things. The biggest gift of all that I gave to myself was that of the right to just be. It sounds simple. Maybe obvious even. But I will tell you, more than 2 years later I am still working on that one. And with more than fifty years on the planet, it has been a rare encounter to meet another person who allows themselves to just be.

It feels to me that while difficult to get to, there is no more noble effort than this. Than to devote ourselves to who we truly are and what it means to be with others from that place. Can you imagine what we would individually and collectively experience and be capable of if we all aimed for knowing who we really were and chose to belong from there?

If you want to check it out for yourself, watch your thoughts as you move through your day. How often do you allow yourself to be who you are, what you are, and where you are? Try making this a point of your existence, and then watch what happens.

All Heart


Someone recently said to me, “If it’s in your heart, you have to do it.” This represents a radical departure from how many of us live. Many of us would say instead, “If it’s in your mind, you have to do it.” Or believe it. Or be governed by it.

While our culture loves to worship the mind as the ultimate powerhouse, the heart has 60 times the electrical charge of the brain. Along with that, more nerve pathways travel from the heart to the brain than the other way around. In other words, in some very essential places, it is the heart leading the way. Once again, our biological intelligence is pointing to something we all too often do not recognize. In this case, that being, that it is the heart that is the true powerhouse. The one carrying the big charge. The call we want to sit up and take notice of. The one we do not want to deny.

This is not easy to do given the loud and insistent ways that the mind can drown out the more subtle and graceful messages of the heart. Not easy to do in a culture that has made many of us wary, shy and even downright suspicious of what the heart has to say. Some of us have even been so deeply and painfully wounded that it feels like nothing short of terrifying to imagine letting our hearts come out of hiding. And while likely we have all heard some version of “follow your heart,” it can seem like more of a romantic notion than a reality-based, viable approach to life.

For one, we don’t have a lot of good role models for this. And if we do, they are often saints, or people like the Dali Lama who can be too removed from daily life for us to feel as though we too, have access to what they do. For another, in a culture that uses fear as a sales tactic, as a way to keep us in line and that offers up entertainment based on the horrific and the outrageous, we can be left believing that to rely on the heart and its ways is childish, weak, ineffective, soft or overly sentimental. Maybe even downright dangerous to our safety and well-being.

It is anything but that. Believe it or not, the heart has its origins in courage. As in, the word courage derives from the French root “cour,” meaning heart. So beautifully portrayed in what the lion was looking for in The Wizard of Oz. But that is a child’s fantasy you might think. Maybe. Or maybe it is an expression of what we all most deeply long for. Something we all intuitively know to be a resource far greater than the insecurities, fears, shames, grievances, controls, anticipations and worries of the mind.

Check it out for yourself. Lying in bed first thing in the morning, before the mind has kicked into gear, pause. Don’t let the schedule and the demands of the day move in before you have placed one hand over your heart, and taken a few deep breaths right into the very center of your courage and wisdom. Ask your heart what it wants. And then, listen.



I recently read that imitation is the basis of all social intelligence. That we are wired, right from the very beginning of life, to mimic the human beings around us. Particularly our primary caregivers; those we spend the most amount of time with. Those that we depend upon for our very survival and well-being. Those that we want to be like more than anyone else in the world.

I remember it so well with my son Jack when he was young. For a time we dubbed him “The Worker,” not only because he loved to use brooms and hammers but because this was what he told someone he wanted to be when he grew up. He was emulating my husband, his father. He took great pride and joy using his hands and busying himself with building, cleaning and fixing things. I could make the argument here that being “a worker” was less about any role or job, and much more about him trying to be just like someone he loved and looked up to.

If we take this simple example and extrapolate it out into the world at large, it calls for us, as the the adults, to be clear about what we are modeling. This is not limited to just your children, or even whether or not you have children. What matters only is what we are offering to the younger generations by way of what we are showing them is possible, necessary and desirable.

Nowhere is our lack of understanding around being a role model more in evidence then with the way we use the technologies. What it is that we are demonstrating and offering up as something to be imitated. And while many of us have marveled, or been distressed by, how quickly the children take to the screens, or how absorbed they are by it to the exclusion of other more important things, is there anywhere else to look but at ourselves? This is not easy to do. As a matter of fact, it is far easier to shake our heads in either awe or distress at what the younger generations are doing, than it is to take a hard look at what we are doing.

When we characterize our children’s preoccupation with all things screen as some new extraordinary, or scary, adaptation to the species, something only the younger generations possess, is it not folly to miss the most salient point of all? That being, that it is we who have showed them the way. We who have demonstrated to them how important the devices are. We who have acted as a model for what to want and how to be with all of this.

Because we do not have a lot of time with this one as far too many children are missing out on something worthy of their precious life to imitate, I ask you now, “Are you proud of what you are showing the children around the role that the technologies play in your life?” And while it may sting in the moment to stand in the presence of such a pointed question, this is what our children need. Now. Right now. Grown-ups who are proud of how they handle the devices. Grown-ups who recognize the central and powerful position they hold in the life of a child, and who carry that charge with respect and vision.

If we are going to elevate anything in life to the exclusive and lofty position that the technologies have achieved in such a short amount of time, should it not be of the highest caliber? Should it not be worthy of the very best in our children? For the truth is, the children are watching us. All of the time. They want to be like us. They want what we want. If this makes any sense to you whatsoever, then the only question is, “How and where can I do right by the children, and where is it that I am letting them down?”