Is Caring For Yourself A Burden?


It occurred to me recently how easy it is to see needing to take care of ourselves as a burden. As something unwanted or unfair. Overwhelming or an inconvenience. How we can see the little (and big) things that arise in the body as a problem. A sure sign of danger. Proof that the body is broken, a hassle and doesn’t know what it is doing.

But on one particular day recently, it really dawned on me in a moment what an incredible opportunity it can be to choose to tend to something. To decide that it is a blessing to be able to turn towards your own life and care for it. This is not something we are taught. Nor is it a way of being that is supported in the “take a pill and be done with it” culture.

What brought this on for me was the strange and somewhat numbing sensation I have been experiencing at the end of one of my big toes. At first I was ignoring it, hoping it would just go away on its own. So far, it hasn’t. Which then prompted my mind to begin turning towards naming it as a way to get control of what was going on. The only thing that came to mind was “Neuropathy.” Not because I knew it to be that, but because I had heard others talk about it.

My response? Nope. Don’t want that.

Given what I’ve heard about this “condition” it only brings up fear as it feels like some of the things I love to do most, running, walking, hiking, being physical, would be negatively impacted. Which is why a little mind battle showed up next as I tried to find that balance between actually being with the sensation I was experiencing right now and the need of my fear-based mind to layer on a diagnosis and prognosis based on what other people say or have been through.

The point I want to make here is that it is never a good recipe for creating a satisfying relationship with your own body, one where you are in it first and foremost, to take up what you have been told about the body. Yes, there can be “comfort” in the “knowing.” But there can also be a deep short-changing of a way of being that honors the truth of what is possible in a body; beyond diagnosis and prognosis.

Paying homage to the kind of relationship I want with my body, I sat down, literally, with my toe and began to wonder what it needed. What I got was it needed to be warmer more often. OK. I can do that. I can keep you warm with socks. I can massage you. I can rub ginger oil into you.

Will this “cure” what is going on? I have no idea. But to my point, a “cure” may not even be what is most in order. The real point being, when I’ve got something going on with my body, can I see it as an opportunity to get closer to myself? To be with myself. To tend to myself as only I can.

This is vastly different than blaming it on age, the frostbite I got in my early twenties, or something nefarious lurking beneath the surface. Different than jumping to a diagnosis. Or doing the opposite, by denying what is going on. Different than going so quickly and fearfully to that place of needing to know a name for what I am experiencing.

Can a name help? It can. But in our information-saturated, fear-driven health culture, in our obsession to know everything and figure everything out, when does naming something create obfuscation? When does a name demand that we bypass something vital?

That “Something Vital” being the direct experience of being in and being with our bodies in a tender, open and trusting way. A way that allows us to see that learning to care for ourselves at this level is the greatest gift we will ever offer not only to ourselves, but also to a world in dire need of some open, trusting tenderness.

Mops & Other Atrocities


This week when I went to call the number on the mop I own to order more refills, I was told they no longer make this mop or the refills that go with it. I’ve had this mop for years and thought I had figured out how to keep a perfectly good thing going after the stores I go to stopped carrying the refills, having opted instead for the newest, latest and greatest mops du jour. When I figured out I couldn’t get what I needed in my area, I called the company directly. I thought I had solved the problem. Not so.

This experience parallels my recent foray into trying to keep alive a laptop computer. When I went to the place that restores computers they told me they could fix the problem, but that Apple would no longer support this model. Meaning, I would be flying without a net in the world of hackers and all the other things that can happen online.

I’ll also throw in here the washing machine I got a few years ago that I am told has about a 6-7 year lifespan due to all the modern upgrades. The very same upgrades “that make the washers so much better for us,” have actually shortened the lifespan. Again, I am told that this is the tradeoff we make to get all the superior features, and that I should just see how much better it is for me, even when I know it is not.

In fact, the upgrade claim turns to dust in my mouth and is a pill I am not willing to swallow when I know that if the people making the machines were invested in something long-term, and not just intoning the mantra of how much better our lives are now and banking on us all just taking it, they could do better. They would do better. How do I know they can do better? Because they used to. As evidenced by the washing machine my mother had for over 30 years. With every repairman able and willing to fix what needed fixing.

Where am I going with all of this?

This throw-away way of living is killing us. And not just in terms of the planet. The disposable, convenient, “just get a new one” mentality is permeating every aspect of life now; devastating not just the Earth, but us as well in terms of who we believe we are and what we make important.

We pay an “invisible” price when we believe that our lives and what we need is best done from the level of what is cheap, convenient and therefore disposable. As in, not valuable, not worth fixing, not worth investing in. Not really caring about. Because we have been paying this price for so long now, we have come to believe that this is just how it is. Worse yet, we have not noticed the dulling of ourselves and the overall general malaise towards life that has sprung up in its wake.

A kind of disregard that has crept in when it comes to caring for things. In other words, none of it matters, because we can just get a new one.

We cannot expect that the lack of value we bring to the relationship to what we purchase will be separate from how valuable we believe we and those around us are. It’s just that simple. The only way this changes is by more of us coming to see that our lives are valuable enough to demand a world based on what endures.

The Myth of Being in Control


Coming home on Sunday night from hiking with a friend, a day that was both awe-inspiring and grueling, I hit a bear on the dirt road to my house.

The bear shot out of the woods so fast and with so much focused momentum, I barely had time to hit the break just as I was hitting her. The sound was awful. Worse than the sound though, was the feeling of hitting the bear. Twice. I went back to check on her, but she was gone.

I felt like I had slammed into a wall head first after feeling so empowered by the day I had had. What was going on here? Was I driving too fast? Could I have dome something differently? How could this be happening after such an amazing day? What was the Universe trying to tell me?

I love the wildlife that lives all around me. More to the point, I look to them. I watch their comings and goings, and I am always alert to their messages. They are my inspiration and my teachers, and I had just hit one of my most revered guides.

I immediately went to wrong; as in this must have been my fault. I must be out of balance somehow. I must be in need of some lesson. But within seconds, I caught myself going to self-blame, set it aside, and opened up to see what else might be there.

Right away I had the knowing that even when we do not intend to cause harm, we do. It seems like it would be a hard pill to swallow, but in that moment, I was able to say Yes, I know that is true. There was such freedom in admitting just that. And while that was an incredible insight and shift, there was still more to come.

The next day in practice, as I contemplated what had happened, I got a strong message: There is so much in Life that is beyond your control. So while you would come up with all kinds of reasons for this and why it happened, some things in Life are just not in your control.

I think that for us humans, admitting we do not have the control we think we do is so terrifying, that it is far more palatable to blame ourselves, or another, then to recognize how much is not up to us. And that as we stand on the brink of the next generation of technologies which threatens to amplify our already out-of-control-god-like estimations of what we believe we can do, we further blind ourselves to just how much is not within our control.

So terrifying is it for us to feel how not in control we are that we would rather create a world based on a destructive illusion of absolute control of man over Nature than to align with our proper role in the scheme of things. Worse yet, the further we stray from knowing we don’t decide the ways of things, the unhappier, lonelier, the more desperate, sick and harmful we have become. And continue to be.

To be human in the age of so many technological advances masquerading as a source of complete control, the greater our challenge becomes to remember our place in the order of things. So if you’re inclined, get in the habit of regularly saying to yourself, “That is not something I have any control over.” 

You might just surprise yourself and find that instead of feeling terrified by that statement, you feel a sense of relief. Relieved to finally be in alignment with how things actually work here.

What Will You Choose?


There is a big difference between “doing” things to your body, and “being in” your body. Between imposing something on it, and listening to it. Between buying things marketed to you, and honoring real bodily needs in simple and natural ways.

We are at so very many crossroads in our world right now. Not the least of which being, how it is that we are going to be in these bodies of ours. How we will care for them. What we will put in them. What we believe we need to be well. And it’s all playing out in a world where billions and billions of dollars are being spent to convince us that we need all kinds of stuff and interventions in order to be well.

But if we could step back and see beyond our own fears and insecurities (the very same ones, by the way, being exploited by marketers to leave us uncertain and confused about what to do), these bodies of ours and what they have to say would lead us to exactly what we most need. This can be hard to believe, never mind trust, in the midst of being bombarded with messages that tell us someone else has the answer. Maybe it’s the ad that directs you to “ask your doctor,” or the last weight loss program you will ever need. Maybe it’s the newest app promising you instant health, or a line of engineered foods claiming to be healthy while being the answer to climate change.

Whatever is being sold, the message is always the same: We know what to do, you don’t, do as we say.

I realize this can be a very intense thing to hear. Offensive even. None of us wants to believe that something else is in charge of us or the decisions we make when it comes to our lives. Or maybe, we feel sheepish reading that because we do want someone else in charge of how we live. None of this is conscious of course, but it drives our behavior nonetheless.

Why it might matter to you to dig a little deeper beneath the surface when it comes to what you do and do not do in terms of your body, is because we are actually talking about so much more than your body alone. For to choose to learn to listen to your own body, is to choose to learn how to listen to yourself. And to listen to yourself is to be connected with your very own soul; who you are and why you are here. From this perspective, what happens to your body is a matter of great importance.

Interestingly enough, to reclaim what we have lost in this regard is to enter into the unknown. The very place that evokes the fears that drive us into the arms of promises being made to us by others around our bodies and health. Not knowing what your body needs or what to do is the place to begin the reclamation of who you are and what you most need. Not as a neurotic place to hang out as you obsess over Internet searches, but as a sacred starting place.

For it is in the not knowing, in the dropping of the preconceived ideas, marketing ploys and the conditioning of our past and of the culture, that we come to know what is real, and what is true. In other words, though we have been taught to believe that to not know what is going in our bodies is dangerous and therefore something to be afraid of, what if the unknown places are the entry point into the very mystery of your own body and soul?

The very place you need access to in order to navigate life in a body.

A favorite practice of mine these days is to say daily to myself, “I have no idea what to do right now, but I’m open,” when it comes to something going on in my body. This simple, but courageous statement, serves as the antidote to the compulsion to go for the quick fix, the “guaranteed” answer or the submission to the fears, always the fears, that circulate when the body is doing something we don’t understand.

To not know, is to ultimately allow the body to just be as it is. This becomes the essential beginning place where at some point, the unknown becomes the known. And because this known is born out of the direct experience of your very own body and what it is saying and wanting, you are gifted with far more than you could ever receive from another’s version of you and what is going on.



What are some of the most precious gifts you have ever received?

Take a moment now with yourself. Was it an understanding word? A non-judgmental shoulder to cry on? Something important reflected to you by another that you could not see on your own?

As we enter the final lap in the “time of giving,” it seems essential to reevaluate. To question whether or not we have got the real meaning of this season “right.” To wonder if what we are doing is even giving at all.

By that I mean, is the giving reflective of our truest nature and what it is that we all really need to receive? Or is it some frenzied and distorted version of an offering whipped up by people making a profit off of us? Built to medicate the masses against the malaise and the dis-ease of life together.

When I was growing up, Christmas morning was a literal feeding frenzy. Four kids ripping open present after present with no pause until the floor was littered with wrapping paper. And then, when that last present was opened, the dark and heavy feeling that you were “shit out of luck” descending over you. It all happened so fast. There was so much stuff. Yet, there was never a feeling of being sated. Of having been met. Of truly being gifted.

One year I remember sitting in the midst of the carnage and thinking, “Is this all there is?” Immediately I felt ungrateful. A bad person. Ashamed for not being satisfied with all that I had been given. I mean, come on, look at all of this stuff. It should have felt like enough, right?

When I reflect across my Life on some of the most precious gifts I have ever been given, there is not a single thing in the list. I know we all know this on some level. And yet, we have allowed this knowing to be hijacked. To be dictated by something outside of ourselves. Leaving us to accept warped versions of what it means to both give and receive in deeply nourishing and valuable ways.

How do you give and why? Where do you give from? Do you even know?




This past weekend, I attended a virtual retreat that, among other things, included lots of what would have looked like from the outside, as not much at all. But a much different story unfolded based on what was happening inside of me. As in, on the first night, in the midst of the stillness and the quiet, an earth shattering proclamation floated itself into my mind saying, “There are no conditions to you being here.”

It made me weep with the pure Truth and resonance of it. And it made me weep with both relief and sadness. Relief, that I do not have to do all of the things I believe I need to do. And sadness because of all of the wasted efforts and false ideas around who and what I think I need to be. It was like passing through a montage of humanity where I was witness to all of the ideas and stories we hold around who we think we need to be. How we think we need to act and speak and present and think and want and laugh and move and, you name it. On and on it went.

I must look a certain way in order to be loved. I must please you in order to exist. I must be somehow important enough, well-off enough, smart enough, thin enough, funny enough, accommodating enough, pretty enough, well-mannered enough, enough, enough, enough of something, just to occupy space here on this earth. It was excruciatingly sad to bear witness to all of the conditions that we impose upon ourselves to feel like we are deserving of love, acceptance, safety, belonging, and approval.

With the most basic and fundamental error of all being, what we feel we must do to even have the right to be here.

Worst of all? We do not even know we are doing this. We do not even know we have based our lives on sets of conditions we feel we need to submit to just to have a right to exist. That is how ingrained it is. How invisible to us it is. How woven in. How accepted. How “normal” it all feels to be constantly driving ourselves and containing ourselves based on this inner set of conditional mandates. Never recognizing the trade-offs we have blindly agreed to.

One of my favorite thought leaders is Dr. Zach Bush. I once heard him describe the experience of bringing patients in the ER back from near death experiences. To a person, the first thing every one of them would ask was “Why did you bring me back?”

The second thing they would talk about was the deep sense of acceptance they had felt wherever it was they had just come from. A level of unconditional acceptance experienced for the very first time in their lives. No conditions whatsoever on who they were, or how they needed to be. No wonder they were not so interested in being back here.

Could we not begin to aim for some semblance of accepting ourselves without condition, without needing to be on the brink of death in order to do so? Or maybe, at least, less conditions than we currently impose? And could we not recognize that as we place less conditions on ourselves, we place less conditions on those around us?

And that the combination of more tolerance, acceptance, ease, and patience with ourselves and with others would actually set the very conditions for everything every one of us is yearning for?

There are conditions that help living things thrive. Find out what those are for you at the deepest and most basic level, and then open to the Truth that there are No Conditions To You. Being. Here. Say it. Say it to yourself each and every time you catch yourself believing you have to be a certain way.

There are no conditions to me being here.


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