Just Like Me


As I have been finding my way through the times we are living in, I have been enrolled in a Compassion Cultivation Training course. I got into it because in the midst of anticipating a challenging encounter several months ago, I “randomly” opened a book on compassion that had been sitting on my shelf for a while. And then, I “randomly” opened to a section on a practice recognizing our common humanity with others known as “Just Like Me.” As in, Just like me, this person I am struggling with seeks to be happy. Just like me, this person seeks to avoid suffering. Just like me, they…

I spoke this phrase in my mind regarding the ones I was battling with, and in an instant, everything went quiet. Immediately. And a deep, deep peace washed over me. Given how much apprehension, resistance and inner girding was in play for me, I cannot begin to tell you how surprising this all was.

And how very, very welcome.

I do not want to be at war with another. And yet, I find it one of the most challenging things I wrestle with. That being, how to live the truth of who I am and what it is that I want for the world while bumping up against others who have a different agenda. Whose version can seem to collide with what I most value. To be at odds with what makes sense to me. To smash into, and even deny, who I am and what I most yearn for with all my heart.

And I find it particularly challenging when fear is in play. For either myself or the other. For it is in those times that we, in our state of fear, begin to look for a source of danger. Begin to look outside of ourselves to identify where the threat is coming from. This is a great plan when the danger is real, but a catastrophically bad one when one our fears are imagined.

For to be in a place of imagined fear with another pits us against each other. Leaves us only able to believe that the one on the other side of us is wrong, evil, the problem. A danger. And because our fears are imagined while simultaneously seeming so very real, we cannot see our way clear of this because the fear locks us in; keeping the wrong thing alive. Fear, because of its connection to survival, even when imagined, will keep us fighting off imagined foes and all the while justifying our actions as necessary. In effect, fighting a made-up battle against a made-up foe.

I saw that in myself that day when I recognized how I was seeing others as different from me. Not like me at all. And in that place, I was able to make them the bad guys. The source of my suffering. The ones in the wrong. It left me recognizing that in keeping them separate from me, I was increasing and holding onto my own suffering. And I was ignoring that they were having their own experience. As legitimate as my own.

We have so much of this going on between us now. And I will tell you that as long as we keep the “other” side on the “wrong” side, we will all suffer. Greatly. 

To be clear, this is not about accepting bad behavior. It is not about forgoing your values, what you need or who you are. Instead, it is about recognizing that everyone, everywhere, at every time, and under every circumstance is somehow just like you. Even if the agenda is different. Even if their solutions and sensibilities are different. Even if their way of life, their politics, their beliefs, their “you name it” are different.

We are all just like one another in that we all want to be happy and avoid suffering. In that we all want to be loved and recognized. In that we all want to be safe and free from harm. In that we all want a world that makes sense to us. In that we all…

The book I mentioned is called A Fearless Heart: How The Courage To Be Compassionate Can Change Our Lives by Thupten Jinpa, and the program can be found at https://www.compassioninstitute.com




In-Between Places


I don’t know about you, but the times we are living in can feel like a kind of suspended animation. A limbo of sorts. A collective holding of the breath, if you will. A waiting, waiting, waiting. A place that is neither here nor there. A retreat that goes on for more than you believe you can endure.

As someone who has intentionally spent a lot of time out of time, I know this one well. That place where you have geared up for, been with all kinds of things you never thought you could be with, and now, you have had enough. Now, it feels like you have done all that is yours to do. Risen to the occasion more times than you can count, and now, you are ready for a break. Ready for it to be over.

Only… It goes on. Right in the face of all that you have done. Endured. Been patient with. Learned from. Been a good sport about. And it can start to feel unfair. No longer helpful. Beyond your capacity. A punishment even.

The Celtic lore refers to those places that are neither here nor there as the “betwixt and between” places; threshold times when the boundaries shift and all bets are off; giving rise to a new way of seeing and being with ourselves and the world. As they say, the veils are down, and we are, with the right frame of mind, privy to something extraordinary. Maddening, you might think. Or magical. It all depends on your perspective.

This week, I read the phrase, “the in-between place is still a place.”* Imagine that. The in-between place is not a no place; some time or space without its own location and address. It is not a place to be gotten past on your way to somewhere else. It is not less desirable than where you have been, or where you most want to go. Instead, it is a place unto itself. One deserving of your full attention. Your acceptance. Your respect. And most powerful of all, your reverence.

How often do we live as if there is somewhere better to be than here? As if, when this is over, then, finally, I will be where I most want to be. Need to be. Deserve to be. It’s funny, that for a place we often don’t want any part of, it sure can take up a lot of head space, and by extension, a lot of our life.

But what if it were true that the in-between place is a place. A place you want to include. What then? A while back, the thought “No where is better than here”  occurred to me. Try it. Whenever you catch yourself trying to get away from where you are, say that out loud to the betwixt and between space, and see what happens.

No where is better than here.


* The Shaman’s Mind by Jonathan Hammond

Witches in The Woods


I have a friend who hosts herbal trainings at our farm. She was here recently doing what she always does. But now, under the sway of the times, things are different. Meaning that when she arrived, instead of doing what we always do when we see each other, which is to give and receive a most generous hug, she instead whispered to me, “We’ll hug at the end after everyone leaves.”

There was a moment’s pause in the exchange as I caught up up to it all. And then, quite unexpectedly, these words fell out of my mouth; “It’s just like when we were witches in the woods and we had to hide the good we were doing.”

I have been thinking about it ever since.

There have been so very many times in history where the people who believed they were in the “right” turned out to be doing some very harmful things. An easy example of this is The Flexner Report “funded” by Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockerfeller and others interested in promoting one kind of “medicine” over any other; effectively demonizing, driving underground and wiping out many effective alternative holistic therapies. This not only set the stage for the rise of conventional medicine, it has effectively given the AMA a monopoly on how health care is constructed, practiced and delivered; with a massive feature being the denigration of anything that does not fall under its auspices.

History is rife with these kinds of examples.

Knowing this, could we be ever mindful of how we are stepping forward in these times? Especially, when we believe we are on the “right” side of things. Especially, when we would be tempted to go on a witch hunt against those whose perspectives we do not agree with. Or are afraid of. Or are unfamiliar with.

I write all of this as I am standing in the middle of the woods. I am so engrossed in getting the words down, that though I hear a rustling, I do not look up. Until I do. And in the looking up, I am blessed to see a young black bear tumble her way down the embankment towards me. It catches my breath and brings me to tears because I take all of this as a sign. A sign to keep going and trusting myself; despite the challenges of sometimes feeling alone in what I am sensing and knowing.

In some traditions Bear medicine represents introspection. The ability to go within. To pause. To reflect. In my mind I marry this teaching with the youth of the bear. With her innocence, openness and curiosity, And I begin to imagine what it would be like if we could all extend to one another a grace-filled combination of introspection and innocence when it comes to how and what we all believe in. Along with how it is that we treat those who believe differently than we do.

Especially if your opinion falls under the protection and auspices of the mind set and mandates currently in power, it would be a most gracious act indeed towards those of us not in the majority to be given the space we need to hold what we know to be true for us without being pushed out. Punished. Or vilified.

Because beyond it all, what if the point here is not whether or not you subscribe to anything in particular, and is instead about being more open around  another’s beliefs on how to be healthy? And what if we understood that beyond being “right,” beyond trying to eradicate what we do not understand, this moment in time centers around a big opportunity. The biggest of all. That being, to make space for All beliefs. A chance to change business as usual, where only one perspective is given the lion-share of credence, and instead to make sure that all perspectives and voices have a place at the table.

Even the witches.

Who (or What) Is Your Oracle?


Oracles can seem like something right out of a Percy Jackson novel. Something fanastical, mythological, and therefore, not born of reality. Not helpful in the day to day. Not something a grown person would do. And yet, when we view an oracle as a “wise and authoritative answer,” or as a “revelation,” it all begins to take on a very different feel. For the truth is, who among us could not use a little more unerring, and dare I say, otherworldly knowledge or guidance.

This week, I heard a teacher say that as humans, when we are struggling, we go to the material world. We go to our computers, our statistics, our medications, and our distractions. We go to our fears, our insecurities, our habit patterns and our assumptions. We go to other people, and we go to the statistics. In a nutshell, we go outside of ourselves for the fix. Nowadays, that “fix” is virtually endless.

I am witnessing that right now in my own life as I all too often find myself at my inbox looking for how I get to feel about the work I have to offer the world. As if the great and mighty oracle of Hotmail will tell me whether or not I am heading in the right direction around my life’s work, around my most sacred callings, yearnings and devotions. It is all so very painful. So very, very unfulfilling, confusing, maddening and distracting. That is because I am in the wrong place.

In fact, it is actually destructively easy, “convenient,” and far too accessible for our own good to be able to push a button, get an answer and wind up in the wrong place. Interestingly enough, too often, it is not even close to the answer, as in the one we most need or is most accurate, but instead, is an answer; that whether valid or not, stands in the place of what we are seeking. Only… Have we paused to consider that what is so quick, so decisive, so seemingly real and authoritative is in fact distancing us from ourselves? Making us “instinct-injured?”* Separating us from our truest nature and with that the treasure trove of instinct, intuition and connection? Have we considered that distanced from the guidance, well-being, sovereignty, and yes, natural sacredness that is our birthright, we are in fact destroying ourselves?

It is so hard to not know. To be uncertain. To feel small and out of control. And yet. And yet. Contained in all of that is a map. A map for living right up close and personal with the Truth of who we are, and how things actually work. But it only becomes available when we are willing to see it as such. Only available when we become the strict guardians of who and what we use as our Oracle. As our ultimate Source.

Several years ago I had a student who came up with the most elegant and profound gatekeeping strategy I have ever encountered around how we use the technologies. She taped a sticky note to the back of her phone with the question, “Why am I here?”


Drink that in deeply for some perspective. Are you here to be guided by what comes out of a machine? Or by Something Greater? Are you here merely to latch onto information being pushed on you, only to spew it back out again? Or do you have something of your own to say? Are you here to ping-pong back and forth between fear and false external assurances? Or are you here to discover what to put your faith in?

The questions are deep, and they are so very profound. The ones worth asking always are.  And, the ones worth asking cannot be answered by another. Or by an inbox.

*Clarissa Pinkola-Estes



I recently found myself in a strong conversation with friends around vaccines. As we all know, this is one of those topics that can get heated and divisive. Fast. As I pondered this conversation, spending the day that followed reflecting more deeply into what lies behind such trouble spots between us, especially when you factor in that we all want to do right by our children, this is what I came to.

It occurs to me that beyond the divide of which side you find yourself on, beyond the heated arguments, and beyond the entrenched beliefs that give rise to so much intensity, is an issue of power. As in who currently has it, and therefore gets to decide, frame and orchestrate how things go. Interestingly enough, this is being reflected everywhere right now. Whether we are talking about Black Lives Matter, the political divide, wearing masks, education, medicine, guns, war, food, you name it. It is all up for grabs as many of the current structures holding the power are being challenged.

Power and how it is concentrated, and therefore behaves and enforces, is right at the heart of everything we as a people are facing at this moment in time. Of course this has always been there, visibly or not, but interestingly enough, it is now being magnified to such an extent that we cannot ignore inherent, unfair and unjust power differentials any longer. Beyond the discomfort, the chaos and the break down, it has all become so much easier to see, track, and therefore, address.

And so, as we step forward, an important element to keep in mind is that when you are under the umbrella of the current power structure, you are given protected status. No matter what. Whether you are right or wrong, fair or unfair, and even whether or not your beliefs and actions are life-saving or life-depleting. And when you are not under the umbrella, your views, needs, wants and vision are dismissed, demonized, denigrated, ignored and sometimes, even outright punished.

Because power misused marginalizes and disenfranchises whatever does not fall in line with its agenda, whatever challenges it or falls outside of its tightly held scope, is given the boot. One way or another.

Power concentrated in less than life-giving and life-affirming ways can feel so ugly to those of us seeking a world worth living in for all. One that includes a range and diversity of acceptance and respect that extends well beyond even the important conversation we are having right now around race. Because at its best, what we are coming to is a way to be in relationship with one another that honors All. All beliefs. All needs. All visions. All ways of being.

To bring it directly into something more manageable within each of our lives, where do you refuse to honor another perspective? Where do you demonize those holding an opposing position that you not only cannot understand, but that somehow feels like a threat to you? You do not even have to go to the “big issues.” Just watch what you do in the daily around feeling angry or threatened by those choosing differently than you. Pay particular attention to how you are able to do what you do based on whether your “party” is in power or not.

And could you, for even one moment, consider that just like you, the other side is doing what makes sense to them? And could we decide to land there with each other instead of either taking cover under the umbrella of the current power structure, or falling outside of that shelter, feeling victimized or defensive.

This is never about whether or not you believe “my side,” but instead, that all sides get a place at the table; whether they fall under the protected status of the power in office, or not.

(And to those who were part of this conversation recently, thank you for helping me to get more clear)