All the Hemispheres

Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out

Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadow and shores and hills.

Open up to the Roof.
Make a new watermark on your excitement
And love.

Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
And giving
Upon our intimate assembly.

Change rooms in your mind for a day.

All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.

Greet Yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
Back home.

All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire

While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of



Missed My Turn

This morning I wanted to run from something. So I drove to the running trail. I missed the turn into the parking lot and had to drive up to the next one, making me feel temporarily frustrated that after two years of avoiding this trail I'd forgotten how to get to it. You see I didn't want to cut my run short, because if I was going to come all the way out here, fully invested, I didn't want to have to backtrack, etc., etc.

I heard a voice inside of me say, "There is medicine up ahead." So I cooled my jets and shrugged my moment and turned into the next one. Because heck, there was something I needed to see up there, right?

It's not easy to feel like a beacon all the time. It's reasonable enough to utilize Eagle's long vision and know that you are shining your light just by living and doing what you do so naturally. But feeling it consistently? Bit more of a challenge there. And obviously, life is not meant to be one lengthy dash toward the Sun. There are times when darkness falls for a period, with it's accompanying less-than-bright sentiments. Yearning for the light does not make it return until it's time to. One can only find a comfortable place to learn the secrets the darkness holds and make howling noises along with the wild things that dwell there to let them know that we are present to what is being shown.

When I got to the path, I tucked my keys into my stretchy yogic waistband and began my stride. Up on the left, there were little black ducks, like coots. I feel like an old coot out here!, I lamented, while stifling my laughter to protect my on-trail reputation for being sane. On my right was a giant crow's nest, twiggy and bowl-shaped. I thought about what a nice place it must be to rest inside of. To my right was a white crane, seeming to look at herself in the water's reflection, standing in the marsh up to her knees in muddy muck. What was she searching for? Perhaps it was a fish she'd spied, but something about the way she tilted and leaned around caused me to see her as self-reflective- beautiful there on the dark water. Overhead, near the end of my sprint, the carrion birds circled. I imagined what might be dead over there, or were they waiting for something to die? They soared gracefully on the thermals, patient, as I sometimes am not. What is dying in me, ready to create some open space for lightness to eventually fill? Why does it take so damn long?

Sometimes we find ourselves on a Medicine Road when we least expect it. It is often good timing to miss one's turn.





{Path to the forest from Esalen Institute}

This week I kneaded dough. I dug my hands into the earth and planted a small herb garden. I learned about taking care of the 300-year old oak tree that sits in our front yard. I walked my dog. I bought groceries. 

And it has been one of the most serenely joyful weeks I've had in a long, long while. 

Which is not to say I have been unhappy during the other weeks, it is to express the calm that came with these rather mundane chores and activities. They existed in a long river of time that was able to expand and stretch and move with the needs of the day, as the needs and inspirations came about. Keeping a constant eye on the clock - a habit I had grown so accustomed to - was not necessary. What time is it? It is time to go buy potting soil. It is time to mail this package.

I have been a Pursuer for most of my life. I see something - an idea sparks, a vision appears - and I go after it, I create it. While twists and turns have always been part of these journeys, they have been, overall, linear pursuits. I see beginnings, middles and ends, each linking to one another in a long chain of stories.

These days I am trying to learn a new kind of exploration, a way of moving through the world that is less about going after something already fully formed in my mind and more about letting the gifts of each day reveal themselves. I risk becoming aimless, and I fear losing my sense of purpose.

But it is that last word that is with me through all of this:  Purpose. What is my purpose? How can I best serve the world? My answer has been basically the same for as long as I can remember - to inspire others - but how I have been called to express and live this has changed over the years. It is such a big, broad phrase - "to inspire others" - able to hold so many different possibilities. Right now those possibilities aren't going much farther than my own backyard, and they aren't about anything more exotic than dirt and trees and flour and laundry. They are about the dirty plate on my kitchen table, now sticky with remnants of the eggs I fixed my husband this morning. They are about my dog sleeping at my feet, and the way the white roses are bending towards the sun outside my window. They are about right here, right now, the day ahead of me, and all the mystery it still holds.



Mystery and Magic

It must be difficult to make a decision to register for our March 2013 retreat when, quite frankly, the description of our offerings is ever so slightly vague. I mean, OK, we have a list of Invitation Promises, and one of them says we promise to provide “Experiences, tools, stories, support and resources to further the work we know you are already doing to deeply, creatively and intuitively clarify your life's vision, purpose and legacy...” but I imagine some of you are wondering what, exactly, those “tools and resources” are going to look like.

Are we going to do group exercises?

Will there be one-on-one discussions and guidance?

Are there going to be journal exercises?

Will everyone be required to “share”?

What the heck does it mean when the schedule says “We Gather”?

Here’s the scoop – our retreat has a fairly detailed itinerary. We will gather at different times on each of the five days we are at Esalen. We have planned activities for the times we are together which involve writing, discussion, poetry, prepared worksheets, large rolls of blank paper, flower essences, animal spirits, silence, gratitude, good food, observation and much laughter. We worked out a program through much discussion and experience, including our inaugural August 2012 gathering. Our “program” evolved from each of us following our intuition, trusting in the process, and leaving our egos out of it. Our “itinerary” came to be because we let it reveal itself to us.

We were equally – if not more – vague with our very first circle of adventurous spirits who trusted us when we said, “Come – we’ll take care of you” and not much more beyond that. Honestly, it was even challenging for me to answer the question, “What is your retreat about?” when another Esalen visitor came by our registration table feeling curious. Believe it or not, we were still figuring it out that week; we were there to see how our ideas and visions would work in three dimensions.

Our intention in leaving many of the specifics out of our descriptors is not to keep secrets, but to invite our participants to savor the mystery of a new adventure. We ourselves weren’t quite sure what would happen when we brought together 18 sisters to our very first circle, and that uncertainty gave us all an added layer of freedom to let the experience carry us where it wanted. This March, we are just as excited to see where our next circle is going to lead us, what it is going to teach us, and how it is going to change us. Yes, we have a plan. Yes, each facet of our plan has a purpose. Yes, the entire experience was created to take us all on a journey. But we believe that by revealing all these details ahead of time, we would deny you – our guests – that much-needed sense of mystery and magic. We’re inundated with facts, figures, information and data all day, everyday, and we believe there is more to be savored with a little less information.

It’s actually pretty simple:  We want you to come. We will take care of you. That is our promise, our passion, our joy.



Student of Stillness

This is what I would like to tell you:

I have watched seals play on a windy beach in New Zealand. I have written three books and worked alongside some of the most inspiring souls on the planet. I have surfed in Hawaii and gotten lost in Buenos Aires. I have bounced on trampolines at Burning Man, floated in the Dead Sea off the coast of Jordan, sat in ceremony with a Santeria priestess in Havana, Cuba and wandered through the Tokyo Fish Market at dawn. I saw my granddaughter come into this world. 

I am the Pursuer of Wild Dreams, the One Who Makes Things Happen. I'm game for pretty much anything, with a rolodex of creative ideas that is in constant motion in my mind. There is so much I would love to do, and I will go to my grave with many of those ideas untouched. I will likely leave this earth wanting more, but grateful for the memories I'll carry with me.

My wild dream right now is of a much quieter nature - to learn greater stillness, to let go of the grand ambitions. I have been going full-tilt boogie for 17 years now as a creative entrepreneur, and right now what my heart is telling me to do more than anything is nothing. As I enter this month of October with nary a project or deadline ahead of me, no travel plans and a wide open calendar, I am keenly aware of the temptation that keeps nagging at me to do something. To dive into another project or start planning my next big trip. To learn how to crochet or make a short film.

But instead of anything like that, my intention is to be a student of stillness. To take long lunches, walk my dog, admire the moon, and pick flowers from my yard. To write letters - real letters - and print out new photographs for my bulletin board. I have always managed to do these kinds of things in small doses - in between the flurry of activity that was the staple of my life in Santa Monica - but I am now determined to weave them more deeply into the fabric of my days here in Santa Barbara. 

There is a wide array of books about the journey different authors have taken from stressed out to blissed out, from on the go to on the meditation cushion, so I know I am not alone in my quest to find greater joy in the smaller moments. What is funny is that I am all about celebrating the smaller moments. I wrote an entire bookabout them! But the truth is that while I can speak confidently about finding and savoring all the tiny joys tucked between the laundry and the dishes, the emails and the deadlines, I am an amateur when it comes to creating a life where the to do lists play second fiddle to the quieter joys, where the ambition to Do It All! can be tucked between all the opportunities I have each day to let that ambition go.

I am now in hot pursuit of quiet. I am fiercely committed to slow, steady, calm and joyful. I still have work to do, but it is now being done in service to something that most of the world will never see. My ego isn't really interested in what I'm up to, and I know that means I'm onto something. A month from now, it is likely I won't have much of anything interesting to share. I will not have climbed a mountain in Tibet. I will not have organized a group art show. I will not have learned how to crochet.

All I will be able to tell you is that I rested, I sat still, and I listened to the steady beat of my own heart. This, today, is my grand ambition. This is what my journey is about.



Sharing the Light

There is something very magical about taking our own light into the world and sharing it with others. We're called upon by a force greater than ourselves to expose the bits that we may have been sheltering for a long time, maybe even our whole lives.

There is a lot of talk around the idea that when we share what is most deeply meaningful to us, that we'll experience rejection, unsupported by those who think about us in a certain way. Sharing our hearts with the world is what we must do. But how can we face what seems an unbearable fear of it not being received? Trusting that the most brilliant aspects of ourselves will be safe among those who get it is the risk we have to take. We must be willing to not internalize those responses which might feel unfavorable. It's as if our lives depend on it.

The good news is that, as we mature, and show up in authentic community, we possess far greater levels of ego strength with which to *handle* what the younger self may have deemed unbearable. Fear becomes like a vapor that we can whisk away with a wave of our hand. That way, what is anticipated as unbearable becomes bearable. Everything can become so, with the wisdom we were born with. We must only activate it and step toward our own light.