Destruction and Creation


All around us, destruction reigns supreme. Things are breaking down, and coming apart at the seams. On any given day, there is yet another news story about what is coming to an end. Yet another personal story, yours or someone close to you, about some devastating life experience. For most of us, that spells out only one thing: pain and suffering. And while we will all have our individual reactions to what we do not want destroyed (fear, grief, anger, apathy, etc.) any of those reactions, while normal, is missing the boat. Completely.

Years ago, when I first began to reframe how I looked at the happenings of my life, I was obsessed with a tape series by Caroline Myss. I would pop one in and go for long, long walks or runs. I would sob, or rail, or be inspired, all depending on the day and what it was that I was listening to. But always, I would come back to one essential place: I did not need to be a victim any longer. What was happening (or had happened) was not being done to me. I had a choice.

This way of being was new to me, so it was moving to hear her talk about a man, who in one short day, lost everything; his wife, his business, his home, his long-term friend. Instead of crumbling, he got down on his knees, speaking to God for the first time in a long time, and basically said, “You must be trying to get my attention. What do you want me to know?” He then went on to use that level of surrender as his guiding force as he began to carve out the life he was most meant to live. All based on being open as opposed to victimized. As opposed to taking years to make use of the experiences Life was offering him, he turned it around in a day!

We in the West we have a very destructive relationship to destruction. Maybe we see things ending as as a failure, or somehow unfair; believing we are entitled to the ego’s version of Life. Collectively, we seem to feel as though we have a right to destroy in order to get whatever we want. Drunk with lust for power, greed, and control we do great harm to ourselves and others. But if you follow Universal Law, destruction is one natural and essential part of the Creation-Death-Rebirth cycle of Life. All the animals, plants and insects know this. As does the sun and the moon. The Celts and the traditions of Yoga know this. As do all indigenous people.

For anything to be created and to remain, something must die, at some point.

If we are to Create, individually and collectively, what we are truly worthy of, we must be willing to let go of all that we are not. Of all that is depleting, obscuring and distorting. Of all that has run its course. This is not something another can choose for you. Nor is it found in a catchy meme or spiritual bypass. To willingly allow something to go that you have been, or believed, for a long time, is nothing short of a herculean effort. Unless, of course, you cease to struggle, and just hand it all over to Something More than you.

If you are struggling, ask the same question that man asked: “What do you want me to know?” And then, hardest of all, LISTEN. Deeply. Agree within yourself that Life must be trying to show you something.

To Retreat


To retreat is an act or process of withdrawing

I am recently back from guiding a woman’s retreat in the mountains. On my first day home, I easily fell into a slower pace with a pronounced reluctance to jump back into what I routinely do. Instead, I felt called to not only slowing down, but to using that space to clear and organize my outer environment. This happened quite naturally, with no planning on my part. It all felt like something within me needed a gesture in the outer world to reflect back to me what was happening within me.

That being, to clear out the old. To honor the new and what it is that wants to come in. In a phrase, to withdraw from what has been in order to open to something more.

To retreat is an act of personal empowerment. It is a visionary choice that says,“It is time I withdraw from what I always do in the service of regrouping.” To even do this though requires having the courage to recognize that your way of being may not be serving you, or the world. It is a choice to get a scheduled tune-up to get your life realigned. It is a head-clearing vision that says, there is so much more.

To step out of our lives is an act of sanity. It is to recognize that we may be off track without even knowing how or where or why. It is an intentional pause, and the long over- due sigh that allows for the release of what needs to go. It is the breath long held that finally, finally, gets a chance to release in order to allow the next breath in. And always, and in all ways, it is a homecoming.

The world is in need of taking a step back. Personally and collectively. A kind of stepping back and away from where we are charging head first into the abyss of silo-thinking, fear, rushed choices, and an ignoring of perspectives that would include all of the costs and collateral damage that come from making decisions at warp speed. But that would take not only courage, but humility, an open mind, and the wisdom to back off until a fuller picture could reveal itself.

Where in your Life are you pushing too hard to make something happen? Trying to get to a resolve prematurely. And how would retreat be the bravest, sanest, and most life-affirming thing you could do? You don’t have to go far. Your own back yard will do. A commitment to be with yourself for even a few minutes quietly will do. And a dedication to understanding what drives your Life will always do. For you. And for the rest of us.

A Higher Appeal


Many years ago, after dropping out of the doctoral chase in the 11th hour, I found myself in Lenox, Massachusetts at The Kripalu Yoga Center where I had stumbled my way into a Yoga Teacher Training; having gotten there through a series of unlikely and serendipitous events. I had no clue what I was doing. What I did have going for me though was that I was very, very open, having recently let go of how I felt I needed to show up in the world.

It was that time in Life where I had released one well-known trapeze bar before I had my hands fully on the next one. As a matter of fact, not only could I not see the next bar, I had no idea if one was even there to take hold of. Or, as I sometimes feared, if I would be left plummeting, embarrassingly and publicly so, to my professional and personal demise.

It left me in a position that when I got to this training, it was like all bets were off given the realties I had been subscribing to. Looking back, I guess I should not have been surprised by some of the things that started happening to me, but I was. I would enter deep states of both expansion and relaxation, where much to my surprise, for it was nothing I knew anything about, Swami Kripalu, the yoga master, Indian saint and namesake of the institution I was at, would show up and tell me things. And while what he was saying was spot on and blowing my mind, it was nothing I talked about because, well, you know… he wasn’t actually there. And oh, by the way, he had been dead for nearly twenty years.

After a time I got used to it. More than that, I began to count on it. I believe I was able to do this because I had just released long-standing beliefs and models around who I was and how I needed to show up in the world. Given that I was wide open, my ideas around what was possible had broadened. So while I knew nothing of what was happening, I knew it was working. Whatever it was.

At one point, I began to go with questions, and have “little” conversations with him. During one of these interactions, I was painfully aware of the rift that I felt inside of myself regarding who I was, and of not trusting that I could be that in the world. I was becoming ever more aware of the ways that I would either feel like I needed to hide or to fight. Hide the truth about who I was. Or, try and defend my right to live in a way that made sense to me.

I was stuck. I knew that neither way was working, but I couldn’t figure it out. It felt like I either had to be who others thought I should be and do as they thought I should do, or, go to war in order to win my right to do so. This left me feeling either bad about myself, or feeling at odds with others. When I asked him about it, he simply said, “Nothing that separates.”

Nothing that separates. I have never received more profound guidance around how to be in the world in a way that honors myself and what I know to be true, while doing the same for others. Nothing that separates not only includes all of each one of us, it includes all of anyone else as well. This is not something many of us understand, or would believe to be possible in our zero sum game world, where it is either my way or your way. Either I get my needs met or you get your needs met. Either your candidate/issue wins or my candidate/issue wins.

It’s not working. And it is not because of those of us on the other side of the divide. It is because of the divide we have created. It is because of the separation itself. Let us stop talking about this as if it is someone else’s fault or doing. Let us recognize that we are part of the equation, and that our inability to entertain anything outside of our frame is not the other side’s doing or fault, but an indication of how little faith and confidence we have in our own beliefs and ways of being. So much so that we cannot tolerate a “dissenting” view as it challenges in a way that we cannot bear.

For the Truth is, anything that is true and real and worth living for, cannot be ruined because of a dissenting view point. Anything that is real and true and worth living for is only made better by open challenge. And because in the end, anything that is worth fighting for takes it orders from beyond our particular and conditional ideas about how the world should be. Accordingly, if you yearn for something else, seek a higher perspective on how you approach things and I will lay odds that you will get the same message that I did: Nothing that separates.

I leave it to you to work out what that means for you.



A few years ago, I did a vision quest in the desert of New Mexico. The experience continues to reverberate; having sunk its beautiful fangs into me in such a way that I have been unable to deny the power of such an arduous and difficult experience. And while the acuteness of the difficulties I encountered there have subsided, the teachings have not. If anything, they have gotten stronger through the process of integrating them into my life. So that now, they no longer stick out as something I went through, something that happened to me, something that I survived. And are instead, a part of who I am and how I move though the world now.

The things that challenge. The things that bite. The things that hurt. The things that sting. Not necessarily any of the things any one of us wants. As a matter of fact, the unwanted and the unpleasant are all things we strive, often at whatever cost, to avoid.

Yet, they remain a part of Life nonetheless.

I once read that it is easy to appreciate the pleasing stuff, but that it is the biting stuff that forces us to think differently. That the things that sting are the very things that are the most profound in the lessons they impart.

I know this so well around wasps. I hate them. I fear them. I fight with them even when they are not actually around. I am outraged that they wind up in my home. I am indignant whenever they show up in unexpected places. Meaning places I believe they have no right to be; as in, on my porch when I am trying to read or relax.

In the midst of one of my all-time, all-out wars with them, I read that in some African cultures, wasps are a symbol of evolution and control over life’s circumstances. My first reaction was “What? Are you out of your mind?” And then… “Yes, of course.”

What a perfect reminder to me that there are things in Life that I can control. And things that I cannot. Thank God for that. Thank God that I cannot control the wasps. Thank God I cannot obliterate all the things that make me uncomfortable. Thank God I do not get to decide such things as what gets to be here and what does not. This one understanding alone is truly revolutionary.

And evolutionary.

Which takes us to one of the most necessary evolutions of humankind needing to happen. That being, to understand that we are not in charge of it all. To understand that everything that is here, belongs. Whether we like it or not. Whether we understand it or not. Whether we get our way or not.

The evolution at hand being to ultimately understand that we do not always get a say on what stays, and what goes.

To work with this is to stop fighting. It is to learn to know the difference between what is in our power and what is not. It is in a word, to say, “Yes.” And to recognize that to evolve requires integrating all of the experiences of Life into a narrative uplifting and meaningful enough to change you and how you move through the world.

To that end, can you find Truth and Power and Beauty in whatever is stinging you right now?


It Still Is Winter


For some of us, to admit to the fact that it still is winter is the equivalent of saying “Yes” to something that we do not want. Something we wish would just go away. Something that leaves us feeling as though there is someplace better. More desirable. Less harsh and effortful.

Mostly, I think this is because it is hard to believe that something that leaves us so very, very uncomfortable could actually be loving, healing and supportive.

It puts me in mind of a couple of years ago while I was doing a vision quest in the desert of New Mexico. On the surface, the desert can be very, very scary. Harsh. Unforgiving. Difficult and overwhelming. As I was spending four nights out on my own in this place, alone in an environment that not only was I unfamiliar with, but over which I carried a lot of assumptions and baggage around what the desert had to offer, I could see that my beliefs were going to turn out to be my biggest struggle. For in my mind, I could only imagine that it was the place where people got stung by scorpions, bit by rattle snakes, and where they then went on to die alone; starving, thirsty and gone mad in the blistering and relentless heat. A carcass left to be later picked apart by the animals. Leaving only bones.

And yet, when I put aside my imagined fears, worries and fretting over comfort and safety, and opened to what was actually there, what I found was love. Pure and simple. A kind of Mother’s Love that changed and reset my nervous system just by me laying on the ground in this place and being open to what was there. Beyond fears. Beyond likes and dislikes. Beyond assumptions.

Which is not to say that I was not very, very uncomfortable. For I was. But beyond the discomfort was something so profound as to have the power to change my life for the better.

I know this may seem crazy. Fantastical. Fluffy, impossible and New-Agey. But I will tell you that something deeply invisible in me, that then went on to be visible, changed in me; moving me towards greater health, wholeness and ease. To this day, I continue to go sit or lay down on the ground in all kinds of weather, and in all kinds of seasons.

Which brings me back to winter. Recently, in the cold and as the sky was darkening,  I found my way to the ground once again. I did this because I was beside myself with a welling up of emotions that I knew were going to take me down a familiar road that has only brought me great pain. Without even giving it thought I found myself trudging to a place on the land where we live, and then crumbling down on top of the snow with the weight of what I was experiencing.

As I was about to give over to a rising wave of intense emotion, I was caught up in the most perfect silence I have experienced in a very long time. Save for the movement of the birds, it was utterly still. And even the movement of the birds carried stillness on their wings. When I finally arose, everything was different. I was different.

There is great healing available in the ways of winter, with stillness being perhaps its greatest offering. Try it. Go find someplace to sit down or lie down. Give the mind enough time to settle out. And then wait. Without demand, expectation or preconceived beliefs. Just wait.

“Motherliness is essential to healing because Mother Nature alone can heal.”

Robert Svoboda



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.

Rock Boundaries


Away on retreat several weeks ago, I ran into the “Rock of Gibraltar.” This was the nickname given to an enormous boulder that sat at the junction of three trails meeting. It was quite a spectacle sitting there in the middle of the woods. So much so that someone had written a poem to this behemoth and staked it off to the side for people, or maybe it seemed for the rock itself, to enjoy.

I stumbled across this monument on one of my days out hiking, and I was struck by its presence. If ever you could imagine the physical embodiment of strength and grounded-ness, this was it. If ever you wanted an extraordinary example of steadiness, stillness and solidness, this was it. It was as if it knew its place and knew how to hold it well. It truly was the kind of thing that made you want to sit there and hang out with it for a while. And so I did.

What I noticed first was despite its rock-hard, exceedingly clear edges, things were growing all over it. Delicate little flowers. Florescent green mosses. And lots of things were crawling on top of it while other things were momentarily resting there. Yet none of this changed the nature of Gibraltar. Not by even one iota. It continued to be itself; unharmed, undisturbed, unperturbed and most of all, unchanging.

In that moment I was brought to think about boundaries. About how difficult it can be to know when and where to draw a line with others. About how often we either collapse our boundaries to acquiesce to some demand or expectation, or on the other end of the spectrum, how we harden up and armor up to protect ourselves. And then there is good old Gibraltar, doing the only thing it knows how to do. Be itself. Fully and completely. No apologies. No accusations. No explanations. No permission requested.

That is when it really sunk in for me. How when considering or working on boundaries with others, we can make the mistake of believing that we need to begin with our edges. Or worse yet, that we need to begin outside of ourselves. Both are incorrect. We need to begin with our center. With the core of who we are. With the deepest essence of our truest nature. In a phrase, we need to be fully established in the truth of who we are, then the rest just naturally takes care of itself.

This is not easy to do. It would be far easier to believe that others should act the way we want them to. It would be far easier to believe we have to be at war with others, protecting ourselves against their violations and onslaughts. It would be far easier to just cave into the demands to keep the peace. And yet, to do any of this would be to violate our best and truest natures, which by extension, then goes on to skew and contaminate our interactions with others.

That big, beautiful rock stands as a powerful symbol for me. One that says it is possible to be in harmonious and symbiotic relationship with all of the life on us and around us when we never, not for one moment, cease to be ourselves.

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.


Lay Down


Last year, while alone in the New Mexican desert fasting, an amazing thing happened the first night out. It is something that continues to linger; having led to profound changes inside of me at a level beyond words, and yet, simultaneously, directly felt in my body.

You see, it is one thing to be on your own in the middle of nowhere in the daytime. But it becomes an entirely different entity in the night. Somehow in the darkness every rational and irrational fear you ever had, or might ever have, band together to form their own terrifying version of dark possibilities in your mind.

I could see this was coming as the sun began to set, and so, I started praying, begging really, that I be allowed to spend that first night out without “something getting me.” Now that something could have been real, but more than likely I knew that “that something” would be some internal, made-up, mind-driven horror show of my own making. So I asked to be protected from myself in this regard. And I asked if it were possible to have a good night’s sleep.

But mostly, I asked to have an experience that night of laying on the ground, in contact with the rhythms of the Earth, in a way that would help to restore my nervous system to a base line of ease, confidence, and resilience. A kind of going back in time to reset any of the ways my sense of safety and security in my body and in the world had been compromised.

To my great surprise, and eternal gratitude, I slept through the night; waking only once to open my eyes long enough to see a shooting star, and then easily falling back to sleep. When I awoke unafraid in the morning, it felt like nothing short of a miracle.

As if that wasn’t enough, that same miracle has continued in the most unexpected of ways since getting back home. Prior to my time in the desert, if I did not get at least 8 hours of sleep, I would feel absolutely ruined the next day. I would be touchy, edgy, physically unwell, and just plain exhausted to the bone if I did not get at least that amount of sleep. Prior to the desert I would feel absolutely unequipped to deal with life if my sleep was at all compromised. This left me working very, very hard. It was as if there was no reserve in my tank from which I could draw on. As if I were, on some level, closer to empty than would be expected given the resources available to me.

But since the desert, it  somehow no longer matters, at all, how much sleep I get. Sure, I continue to gravitate to the 8 hours, but if it doesn’t happen, well, no big deal. It has been such a significant shift in me that those who know me best have commented on it.

Best of all, this goes well beyond sleep; directly supporting and shifting a deep and lasting change in my nervous system where better resilience around sleep deprivation is but one outcome. It feels as though I was somehow re-wired, leaving me better equipped to handle Life in all of its forms. The stuff that used to really get to me, rattle me, stay with me, rolls off of me now like water off a duck’s back.

I mention all of this to you to point out that for most of the history of our species, we laid down each night on the ground. More to the point, each and every day we came into direct and continuous contact with the earth. Many traditions point to the necessity and benefits of putting our bodies against the land for an experience of homeostasis-ness and healing. Even science has caught up to this reality. For now it can be measured that the earth has an electrical field; a kind of resonance, that puts us back in tune. Not only can it be felt, it can be measured.

It stands to reason then that if you are not feeling well in body, mind or spirit, or want to live more balanced and enlivened on a regular basis, go put yourself up against the Earth. You do not have to “know” anything because this is not a rational pursuit. You do not have to know what you are doing because it is not you who will be doing the doing. This is between your body and the body of the Earth. Just make it a point to regularly get at least your feet or butt on the ground. And then wait. Breathe. Receive. Feel.