Oaxaca- the gift of Magic and Medicine

Every time I go to Oaxaca I am plagued with doubts and concerns.  I never am sure if people will truly enjoy the trip.  I wonder if they will feel comfortable with the rituals and ceremonies that Elizabeth leads in nature. I am anxious about the trip being so wild, so natural, and so remote.  I hope that they will want to be present and participate fully in the circles and sessions that are so profound.  I get concerned that the family style living will be unsatisfactory or that maybe I have been kidding myself about the beauty of the place.  

Then everyone invariably has an amazing time and all are full of thanks and gratitude for the experience.  We sing, we share, we laugh, we play, and we grow closer together and engage on a deep level where transformation happens.  And the beauty of the place astounds us.  And our wild souls love the natural beauty and the remoteness.  And everyone is blown away by the rituals and ceremonies in this beautiful place- in the river, with the earth, in the cave, in the jungle, in the dark night with the full moon, in the small adobe temple, with candles and flowers and great connection to spirit.

This last trip I led eleven women on this profound retreat and the magic and medicine of Oaxaca touched us all deeply. There were so many stunning moments that are etched into my consciousness, moments of vivid experience where we felt life and all its synchronicities calling us to be ourselves fully, asking us to forgive, let go, release the past, open up, and receive and share the huge love that was holding us in a container of joyful possibility.

I remember each person and the gift of themselves in a given moment- the sweet innocence and openness of Jen as she reached with open arms and heart, with conscientious intensity into the dance circle to sing, “Come, come, whoever you are, this caravan is not of despair.”

And Jenny’s wisdom and generosity as she reveled in the community gathering that we attended to celebrate the opening of the community library, a gift from our hosts to the community, made possible in part by our tourist dollars, enjoyed by the darling chattering children and appreciated by all.

And Mauli’s talent and creativity leading those same children in song and dance as they watched her antics with wide eyed wonder.

And Aneesha leading us in pranayama by the riverside on the new viewing/meditation platform with the rushing river below.

And Jesse smiling her sweet ethereal smile of gratitude at the gift of life as she dealt with her own concerns with heroism and humble acceptance.

And Monica, so giving and grounded, organizing all the head dresses that we were scrambling to make for the full moon ceremony, holding our center as we drifted in and out around her.

And Malia, lovely and giving, always noticing a need and being there to help.

And all the rest of us, each of us bringing ourselves and our gifts to the circle and feeling the support to be ourselves and confront our edges, working to soften and grow and lending a hand to each other on the path. It was an amazing group and I love each person and what we were together.

Claudia handled the logistics with such aplomb, it always seems so easy, to move large groups over the landscapes, with meals and events emerging seamlessly, so that we floated along in bliss, attended to and cared for, knowing that our comfort and concerns were considered.

Elizabeth was a huge presence for us, our hostess, although her home was not on the grounds of the plantation house where we all stayed together, but nearby up a steep hill. She is insightful and intuitive and somehow knows what we need and what would help. And she is willing to encourage us to do the hard thing, to face fears, to work through resistance, to listen to the truth. She holds up a mirror where we can see ourselves and then she takes us to her special places, deep in the jungle, in the river, in the cave, where we can work through our restraints with the water, the stones, the plants, with shouting, and beseeching, and dancing, with joy, with tears, with upturned faces finding the sun’s first rays as it skirts the horizon and emerges into the day. Whatever it is that she does, that she leads us to do, it is amazing and cannot be described with words or even pictures because it is something that is felt by the spirit and it changes everything







People were so sad to leave the retreat that we had enjoyed so deeply. I was really worried that the trip would be down hill after the wonderful high of our time with Elizabeth and her family at the plantation house in the jungle. Then we arrived at the beach and I laughed and sighed- it is so incredibly beautiful at the small beach town where we go, one of the most magnificent places on earth, really. And we had a lovely, lovely time, with time to integrate, time to explore on our own, with boat trips into the lagoon and out onto the waters of the Pacific to see the wildlife and enjoy the natural beauty.

The last thing we did together was another deeply moving spiritual adventure, a temezcal or sweatlodge, and as we prayed and sang and sweated, and as our spirits were lifted by this ancient healing practice, I rejoiced deeply about our whole experience, knowing that my doubts and concerns had helped me to be more attentive and present, and knowing that the offering of this trip is a rich gift that I can share and that it is part of my purpose. It is only for the few who are ready for something wild, remote, and natural, but for those few, it is deeply transformational and will never be forgotten.

Align with Fall and the Metal Element

Letting go and letting in is a part of the Metal Element, in 5 Element Theory. The fall is a good time to explore this deeply. We can discover ways to turn grief into nostalgia and to let go of what no longer serves us, including those voices in our head that want to hold us back.

The Metal Element is about evaluating and finding worth. It teaches us how to make compost of our life, creating the rich soil for the seeds of our dreams, so that we can grow forward. It is associated with the Lungs (inspiration) and the Large Intestine (the Great Eliminator) and with the season of autumn.

Autumn is the perfect time to look back on the year and think about what worked and what didn’t. What are the qualities you need to cultivate to bring something new into your life? What things have served to enrich you? What has helped you to be more of who you want to be? What things do you need to release and change?

Tuning in deeply is a part of the Metal Element. Breathing in our connection to all things is another aspect. Transforming our story is the work of our inner Metal, so that we can recognize the gem inside of ourselves and offer our life up for a greater purpose, being ourselves fully.Align

Avoiding Burnout!

We are deep in the heat of summer and fires are burning all over. The world can seem like a cataclysmic place, especially if you listen to the daily news- which I don’t!

On a personal level people are so busy, there are so many events and activities calling, and it is a time of gathering and celebrating in the sun. This is the time of the Fire Element and one of the key questions is how to avoid burnout.

Do you have so much to do that you can’t fit it all in? Do you find yourself longing for some downtime but not sure where to find it? Are the most important things slipping away as you struggle to handle all the input and opportunities? Do you exhaust yourself with doing and then become too tired to manage what really matters? Do you find yourself renewed by your leisure activities or you drained by your own fears of missing out, so you keep saying yes, when you really need to say no?

Prioritizing what is important is key to avoid burnout. And take some time to muse upon what fills you up, so you can do more of that. Sometimes we do things because we feel we “should”- and that is always a good thing to question.

Avoiding toxic people and folks who drain your energy is crucial in this summer time of socializing. You can only give if you are filled up, so find times for folks who inspire you.

We can’t maintain that many intimate relationships and it is important that those people who we keep close are really supportive. We all need outlets for our challenges and we all want to be there for others, but listening to complaints and concerns continually can use up our own internal resources.

We want relationships that are balanced, where there is a flow of giving and receiving and where we experience a sense of safety in being ourselves fully.

One of the ways to avoid burnout is to take stock of how and with whom we are spending our time, and make small shifts so that we are not giving constantly.

It is so important to cultivate good boundaries. Time and energy are precious assets in this busy season and we can often conserve our resources by finding ways to shift conversations and relationships so that there is more of a balanced flow.

Some people ramble on about things that are unimportant to others because they need attention. Try focusing on your heart area and connecting to their heart through yours. Flooding a person with heart energy, that you can refill from your source ,through the back of your heart, is a way of overflowing to people and not being drained.

It gives them what they truly need and helps them to connect to source energy so they can get the attention they crave in a way that truly supports them, without depleting you.

Time in nature is a great way to recharge and this is the time of year to get outdoors. Choose your activities so that you have a chance to be outside. Spending time gazing at water or sky and doing nothing can be totally restorative.

On hot days I make sure to leave work early and head down to the water so that I can plunge into the Sound. The cold brace of the sea is a reset for mind and body after a long day of work, and I can relax and let go of all the things that need attention and give my spirit a chance to recharge.

When there is so much calling you and so many things to attend to, time away from a to do list is really important. Scheduling in meditation, naps, walks, swims, or rest is essential when it won’t happen if it is not in the plan.

Make some space in your day or week where nothing is planned and where you can just take in the beauty of the world. It is too easy to get caught up on social media or the news of things that we can’t do anything about. We have to calm ourselves with quiet time so that we are more able to do what is in our power to do.

It is too easy for the yang energy of doing to dominate our day and in a culture that is completely deficient in yin, we have to actively make sure we have the time and space to receive, surrender, and replenish with some time for just being.

Avoid burnout by cultivating the capacity to say no. It is ok not to show up at everything. There is a huge tendency to not want to miss out, to not want to feel left out, and to push ourselves to do more than is appropriate, but time to ourselves is absolutely precious, and if relished and used to deeply restore, it is a wonderful gift for yourself.

If you think everyone is at the picnic but you feel too tired, honor your true needs. Introverts and extroverts are different in their needs to socialize and be active, but we all could do a little less and just be a little more.

It is also really important to limit your resistance to the things that your life has brought you. Some folks have huge caretaking responsibilities, others have enormous projects, commitments, or involvements where people are counting on them. We may not have enough time for ourselves or get enough rest.

But we can avoid wasting additional time or energy with resistance, griping, or procrastination. Nothing is forever in this life, but whatever is on our plate right now, there is something to be gained by attending to it, and savoring whatever time and energy is left over.

Even a few moments of moon gazing can bring us stillness and peace, so make sure you pace yourself so that you have some energy left to really enjoy the time you do have for yourself once you have taken care of the things that need to be done.

Whatever you are doing this summer and whoever you are spending your time with, you have control over your attitude.

Give yourself the gift of balance and flow, so that you have time and opportunity to restore. And enjoy every moment that you can!

Empowering Change

Sometimes I feel so stuck, a physical pain takes a long time to heal or I can’t find a solution to an emotional challenge. I know I have to grow. If things don’t change, I have to seek help, I can’t do it alone.

Change, healing, and growth are components of life that we don’t want to avoid.   But they can involve risk, pain, and challenge, so we sometimes need help to step up, to know what to do, and find support to do it

Our body can signal us that change is needed with physical pain and illness. Negative emotions are a strong sign that we have to do something differently.

Too often though, especially with negative emotions, instead of taking responsibility and looking for ways to shift, we look outside ourselves and project and blame. Or, instead of opening to the possibility of change, we shut down and become depressed, discouraged, or overwhelmed.

We may realize that change is needed, but not have the courage or impetus to make change.

We have to risk letting go of patterns, perhaps long standing ones, in order to let in new behaviors and thoughts that could serve us better.

We have to be willing to sever connections that are no longer healthy, to stop over- giving or seeking approval for its own sake, to risk conflict instead of sacrificing authenticity, and to have boundaries around inappropriate behavior.

We may need to overcome inertia to take on a healthier habit, or face our fear of failure to try a new way of doing things.

Life requires work, if we want to live fully: the work of changing ourselves to meet changing circumstances and to back up our insights with action. We may have a sense of what we need to do to feel whole and happy, but we have to take action.

And sometimes we need a lot of support to do that.  Sometimes there are old traumas or very deep patterns, and we may have a lot of denial to overcome, as it frequently feels very unsafe to change or to uncover old wounds.

We may be very stuck.

I love my work because I support people in the transformative process of stepping up to bring change.

Acupuncture connects people to their own inner resources to heal.

My new company, Journey for Purpose, is about creating supportive community and transformative experiences that empower change, healing, and growth.

What can you do today to support yourself on this journey through life? This journey that requires so much courage, so much commitment, so much love? This journey of releasing resistance and embracing what is being offered- this amazing opportunity to face our fears and open to life, connection, and joy.

I am embracing the things that I love, that make me feel good- writing, singing, paddling, entertaining. I am planning things that excite me and learning new things. I am loving my peeps and reaching out.

I am making time to be there for those who need me. I am deepening into my work, trying to serve in a more meaningful way.

I am incorporating rituals to call on unseen powers for help. I am doing what I can to bring change to the troubled world, mostly by helping others in their work.

And in my moments of doubt and despair, when I am overwhelmed or feel that I don’t have what it takes to do what I need to do, I turn to you, my community, for support and encouragement, to remind me of what is true.

We can do this, together.

Following the Yellow Arrow, a Pilgrimage

I recently returned from Europe. I had been invited to join a friend to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, starting in Porto, Portugal. The Camino is a pilgrimage and there are many routes that end in Santiago, the most popular goes across Northern Spain. These are ancient routes traveled by pilgrims for hundreds of years for many different reasons, and they are gaining in popularity again. We set out on the Portuguese Camino.

The routes are serviced by hostels or albeurges, which are very low cost and by lots of small cafes and restaurants. The routes are maintained by the local municipalities and also by larger organizations, which tend the route or the Way or Camino, as it is called. The Way is marked by painted yellow arrows everywhere along the route where there might be a question about which way to turn.

The Way winds through paths and alleys, bordered by fields and stone walls, it goes through villages and through the old centers of towns, and occasionally you follow a road. It is a beautiful route, an incredible experience, and you meet many other pilgrims along the way. As you travel along, you are guided by the yellow arrows, pointing your way to your destination, Santiago.

After 5 days of walking I developed plantar fasciitis and on the 6th day it became evident that I couldn’t walk much further. Change of plans. I had to look inside for my own inner yellow arrow and I ended up visiting friends in Italy and having an amazing time. I am forever grateful that I had the flexibility to embrace a new plan and to give myself over to finding joy despite disappointment.

If we cling to an idea or a plan that isn’t working, if we are not flexible in our thinking, if we can’t shift, change, and grow- we risk a shrinking world where we can’t take on things that challenge us. We lose our capacity for life and sometimes miss out on marvelous but unplanned experiences. And if we can’t find our own inner arrow, we might not heed the choice that will bring us to where we need to be, despite what we had planned.

How to find your inner arrow?

  • Practice listening to your heart and be aware of small signs and signals. Little miracles and synchronicities abound when you are open to them, and can often validate choices.
  • Notice fear and resistance, or your own tendency to be obsessive rather than flexible. Use these feelings as a cue that something can be gained by moving forward despite resistance, by facing fear.
  • Give yourself space to dream and imagine. Think about how you would like to feel, and in the emptiness of the imagination, let possibilities emerge.
  • Remember that moving out of your comfort zone, out of the ordinary, can often be a catalyst for great insight and growth. Embrace change. Stay open to the invitation that is there.
  • Clear out the clutter of old beliefs that no longer serve. Question your assumptions- what is the underlying belief that is at the core of your feeling. Are you making a plan to keep yourself safe, or are you limiting yourself.
  • Sometimes we just “aren’t in the mood” for something different- could you decide to expand your capacity, to change your mood by being open to new possibilities.
  • We can use our energy to make commitments to ourselves- make useful ones. Commit to appreciating opportunities as they arise, even if they are uncomfortable.
  • There is a lot to be gained by dealing with discomfort- we can gain skill and awareness. Stay in the moment, noticing the things around you. Taking joy in the beauty of the world can help ease concern about change.
  • Connect with others from your heart. Many people are ready to be kind and helpful and seek only appreciation. If we can relax enough to be present, we can have wonderful meaningful connections with strangers and we can find a lot of support for our path.
  • Who knows why things happen the way they do. Be open to the gift of everything. You just never know how something will turn out, so withhold your judgment and go with the flow, doing the best you can.
  • There are many ways to get where you are going, and many places to go. Enjoy the journey. It is all we really have.

Radical Self Care to Heal your Emotions

We talked a lot about energy medicine on the Journey for Deep Healing to Oaxaca. Traditional healers or curanderos practice a kind of energy medicine. Acupuncture is also energy medicine, as is anything that stimulates a person’s capacity to heal. Energy medicine works on emotions as well as on physical illness. Energy medicine is part of the practice of self care.

Negative emotions are a type of dis- ease and indeed can solidify into a physical illness. It is easier to transform a problem before it settles in and takes root as a pattern held in the body.

So we work on transforming our emotions and we work on the big question of our time, how to take care of ourselves so that we experience real wellbeing .

We are never taught how to take care of ourselves on a deep level- beyond eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, paying attention to our diet, and taking appropriate supplements.

Sometimes something is in the way of our doing all that, and to care for ourselves, we have to address our emotions and things that keep us stuck.

Some wonderful wisdom emerged about radical self care-

  • Make care of your self a priority. We are better able to serve if we can fill ourselves up. So ask yourself, is this good for me? Will this serve me?

Too often we act out of a sense of obligation or because of an unquestioned obsession, or even because of resentment- “I’ll show them.” If we can truly look into the recesses of our heart and shine a light on our choices, we can refine our behavior and more clearly let things pass that aren’t going to cultivate the qualities we want to manifest.

  • Release others to follow their path and learn what they need to know. People will only learn and take in what they are ready to use, and sometimes people need to experience things for themselves before they can truly understand.

One of the hardest things we need to do is to allow others this process, instead of trying to intervene, fix, or help. Sometimes our own good intentions keep the ones we love trapped in their pattern by not letting them find their own way.

  • We have to do our best to maintain equanimity, and to remember that there are toxic energies in the world, and we have to protect ourselves. We can find ourselves impacted by others. Instead of staying centered, calm, and with a peaceful mind, we are reactive.

We might feel threatened or afraid, or we can respond to others with judgment and irritation, lacking compassion and forgiveness, or we can become victimized by jealousy and envy. It can be helpful to cut energetic ties with those who really trigger us.

And we have to concentrate on our own care, on doing what we know to do to bring us back to a peaceful centered place, so that we are stronger.

  • We need to develop a tool kit when things are going well, so that we have established practices that we can turn to when the going gets rough. These can include mediation, breathing routines, expressive arts, getting help through energy treatments like acupuncture, yoga or other physical and spiritual disciplines, tapping, inspiring readings, and any activities that make you feel good and move energy.

Having these things as a part of your daily or weekly routine means that they will be in place when you especially need them. We also need a supportive community as part of our overall self care.

  • It is so important to forgo those things that keep us stuck in negative thinking. “Boot the Bitch.”

So often we speak out loud words that deepen our sense of being a victim and don’t contribute at all to the greater good. We need to pay attention to our language and use words that empower us.

If we can let negative thoughts pass through without giving them so much attention or weight, they won’t have such a hold on us and we can get back to a calm peacefulness sooner.

We don’t have to believe everything we think, and even if we believe something for a while- that we truly are a victim rather than an empowered being of great light- we don’t have to share that belief or ask that it be validated.

Instead we can question all the thoughts and feelings that don’t serve us and find another way to look at things so that we come to the conclusion that we really are ok. We are enough, we do enough, we have enough. This is important self care.

  • Make an affirmation, here’s mine: Today I take care of myself. And I am so grateful for the hard times that have taught me so much. I know I won’t get out of this life alive, so I don’t resist the moments of suffering that hold so much juicy aliveness. I just ask that they hollow me out and help me become a larger container for joy.

Treat the cause, not just the symptom

Stress is related to 99% of all illness. How we handle stress can greatly impact our health and well being. Some stress in life is a good thing- it can spur us on to be more resourcefulness and creative, it keeps us engaged and interested. Sometimes there is not much we can do to reduce the amount of stress in our life. We have to work with the thing we can control- how we respond to that stress.

We develop patterns of response over the course of our life. Vulnerable areas and systems in our body eventually feel the effects of stress. It may be our immune system or our muscular skeletal system, many people develop digestive troubles, others feel anxiety with a racing heart. These patterns can become deeper and more intractable.

Western medicine treats the symptoms that we experience and that can be very important.

Alternative and traditional medicine is more likely to work on the cause of our symptoms- how we are coping with stress- and it can disrupt the patterns that have developed and encourage us to respond in new ways with different results. It works on the mind and body and doesn’t differentiate.

It offers help for people who are having trouble digesting food and at the same time works on the tendency to worry, which is mental indigestion, the inability to break things down into absorbable parts or actionable items and to just keep going round and round. The same treatment helps mental or physical indigestion, and helps a person bring change into their life by cultivating the capacity to address what is wrong on a deeper level.

Impacting a person’s energetic system, with tiny needles in acupuncture, or a limpia, a ritual cleansing, or a temezcal, a ritual sweatlodge in Oaxacan Traditional Medicine can awaken a person’s own ability to heal. It is like saying- “hey, try something else, find a new way of looking at things that brings more joy, less pain and constriction, more of a sense of possibility.”

To feel better, mentally, physically, and emotionally, we have to do things differently. We can’t keep doing things the same way and expect a different result. Sometimes it requires breaking out of our comfort zone and trying something new to break out of an old pattern.

Just taking a break, traveling to a new area, being with a group of supportive people, and tapping into a sense of magic and spirit can be a great encouragement to learn new ways of coping with stress and new ways of being that bring more health, happiness, and freedom. Join me for a transformational journey!

Traditional Medicine- what’s the deal?

I have been working with practitioners of traditional medicine for years now. It has been so wonderful for me that I want everybody to come and experience the same blessings.


As an acupuncturist, I practice a kind of traditional medicine: working with the vital energy that enlivens us and keeps us in balance physically and mentally, stimulating our own internal capacity to heal, and bringing us more in touch with our own inner knowing about what we need, our intuition, and our source of energy and capacity. Yup, best job ever!


The practitioners we work with in Oaxaca share a similar foundation. Oaxacan Traditional Medicine is based on natural rhythms and cycles, it has been handed down through generations, it honors the connection between the mind and the body, and it treats the whole person. It recognizes the importance of spirit. I love that. If we are feeling “spirited” we know we are feeling healthy.


Too often these days in the western world, we are dispirited. Stress makes us anxious and depressed. We are disconnected from any sense of miracle or mystery and we only think about cheap quick fixes for a very deep systemic problem.


If you can step back from your routine and the patterns and tendencies that are ingrained in our culture, and in our upbringing, you can breath life into an internal fire and get excited about life again. Beautiful moving ceremonies can reawaken a sense of wonder and possibility. Prescriptions for healing can include rituals that you can do at home to enhance your sense of knowing and connection. When you add a bit of magic back into your life, the colors are more vibrant, your relationships more precious, and you have more capacity for patience, understanding, and compassion- all those things that we need to help us cope with the challenges we face in our life today.


And it is fun! I love the playfulness that emerges with this kind of earth based, spirit infused practice. Sacred playfulness, soulful ceremony- kind of a code for lots of laughing and deep appreciation for this miracle of a life.

Let Your Little Light Shine

Wow, I don’t know about you, but every time I read the news or hear about what is going on, I feel very concerned.  There are things we can’t ignore- the vulnerability of our planet, institutions that we hold dear, and human lives. Things can change in a minute, and there is a lot of suffering in the world. But something that became clear on my recent trip to Oaxaca is that now, more than ever, we need to let the light inside us grow and shine out, and that won’t happen if we focus on fear.  We need, instead, to focus on what we can do in this moment to stay inspired and connected and to uplift others.

The theme of our trip was how to face this challenging time, with huge events like earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, and a suffering world mirroring a tempestuous political climate stricken by conflict and polarized viewpoints while letting the light inside us shine out into the darkness and finding joy and a playful spirit so that we could truly appreciate our many blessings. 

To cultivate that light, we have to transform fear and deepen our connection to the natural elements. We need to protect ourselves from negativity. In natural rhythms and ancient cultures we can find wisdom about facing obstacles and being with change.  We can learn to sink into our body and to trust, to rest in cycles and in the flow. Too often we stay caught up in our heads, trying to figure things out, and thinking our way into a state of anxiety. We want to explain the unexplainable instead of appreciating the wonder. The brain thinks but the heart knows, so allowing the heart to lead, and relaxing into the place where intuition can emerge is the surest way to allow fear to dissipate and the light of love to lead the way.

We can allow our minds to quiet and calm and to connect to the natural wisdom of our being, the combined resources of our body/mind/spirit, which holds many answers. Our mind wants to control events while our being can surrender to what is and allow things to unfold in their natural order.  Our mind tends to look to the past and the future and is familiar with regret and anticipation while our being knows that the present moment is our power and our grace.

Sometimes we just need to light a candle, or take a deep breath and notice the world around us, in this very moment. Being as loving as we can to the people around us is hugely helpful, as forgiveness and acceptance keep us appreciating the gifts of the present. Turning our attention to gratitude can relieve pain and distress.  Maintaining relationships with people who inspire and encourage us and who appreciate us as we are is a huge support for being the best we can be.  Remember that we are connected, through spirit, to all the people we care about and those who care about us, despite physical distance; we are always supported and never alone. Practice mindfulness, spend time in nature, and just dance, sing, and laugh- joy is the best medicine there is! And sometimes we need something unexpected to awaken a part of ourselves that needs to shine.

In Oaxaca, we lay on the wet earth and let the imprint of our body reveal our soul map. Laying there in the soft warm mud, being held by the earth, and feeling the deep stillness wasn’t easy, it wasn’t totally comfortable, but ultimately we had an amazing, transformative experience.  And a part of ourselves had been revealed through the earth. Later, warming ourselves by the fire on that dark jungle night, we could laugh like wild children, knowing we had faced our fears and really connected to the earth and each other.  We did something totally out of the ordinary and received so much from being present.

Each moment of discomfort can be a moment of empowerment. It can be so very freeing, to not worry so much about having things a certain way, to not be held back by fear, but just to let go and be present in the moment, and let your wild self out, let your light shine!

There are many familiar fears that can hold us back, I know them all, we used to be very friendly. I know to lay them on the altar of the earth so that they can be transformed.  Light them so that they rise as smoke, beseeching heaven, asking unseen powers to assist.  Let them fall back as soft rain to nurture the earth ready for a new growth of fresh ideas. 

We learned so much in Oaxaca, we practiced shining our light and feeling it grow.  We learned to be huge, huge enough to hold the suffering of many, huge enough to not be distracted by the temptations of fear, anger and despair, huge enough to offer love.  Mostly we learned that this is a magic place and a powerful journey, and we were glad we came.  And we really laughed a lot.

There are many ways to cultivate mindfulness and many ways to find joy, even in dark times.  It is important to have a community of support. Thank you for being a part of mine.  Let me know how you are doing.  And I invite you to join me on my next trip to Oaxaca- Feb 21-Mar 2, with a three-day add on at the beach, Mar 2-5.

With love and light


Kayaking in the Harvest Season: Taking in Abundance

Spring Courtright, and I led two fabulous Women’s Transformational Kayak Journeys this summer. The experiences were empowering as they provided a certain challenge, a lot of fun, and a way, through sharing and being witnesses for each other, to bring learning back into our lives. Great women wisdom was shared!

Challenges help us to be more aware of our inner state, and with awareness comes freedom. Two predominant themes emerged. One was the desire to connect authentically. People are craving the opportunity to feel connected and to share from their hearts. People long for real heart to heart communication, speaking about what is truly alive and what moves them, and sharing in a way that feels safe and comfortable.

On the trips, when we set the tone and introduced our way of listening and communicating, a valve opened up and gratitude and enthusiasm started pouring out. People were thrilled to be able to be themselves and to be seen and accepted for who they were. We forget how often society demands that we try to be something we are not. We harbor some hidden belief that we are not enough as we are. We fear that people won’t like us or appreciate us if we reveal our true selves. We also constantly face the reality that when we share some tender truth, we often get a response back that is at best not helpful and at worst, actually painful, because most people have never been educated about communication. And some people are in so much pain themselves, that they cannot be supportive of others, and are really best avoided. It is important to let go of toxic relationships, if at all possible, or, to minimize their impact by not taking anything personally.

Creating a safe container is key. Aspects of safety include: holding space for the speaker, refraining from giving advice or bringing up our own story in response to the speaker’s story, and finding a place of non-judgment within ourselves from which we can openheartedly remain curious and receptive about what is true for someone else.

It is amazing how someone’s story can touch something within us, trigger something maybe, and boom… we are off and running about our own issue. But focusing on ourselves is not really supportive of others. We have found that the best way to help people feel fully heard is to sit in a circle and give each person a chance to tell their story without any comment at all, or just a reflection back of what was heard. We support each other with our attention and our open hearts. We listen, accept, feel our common humanity, and offer our love. This is what people want and need.

We would generally ask a deepening question, and everyone would speak to it, such as: what obstacles did you have to overcome to be here; or what steps can you take now, to bring into your life the change you would like. Everyone could reflect deeply and share an intimate part of themselves, and with our format, people felt safe to really dig deeply. This way of sharing really filled the need to connect authentically. And we celebrated that connection with lots of chatting, laughing, bonding, great camaraderie, and sharing of wisdom.

The other theme that emerged was that, as women, we often spend our lives taking care of others and putting others’ needs first. Taking care of others is a source of great joy, but sometimes, deeply engrained patterns and ways of thinking and behaving prevent us from leading fully actualized lives because we don’t develop the capacity to put ourselves first. We might be workaholics, addicted to being productive or to having everything clean or orderly at all times, or have some other compulsion that makes us put something ahead of our true selves. We have to be aware of our own needs, and know how to meet them, and not let them be drowned out by all the demands that life places on us.

Airline travel teaches us to put our own oxygen mask on first but we often forget that in our daily life. Through talking about this shared reality, we learned that a simple shift can make a big difference. If we admit the need to fill our cup first, so that we can better serve others, it can help us justify doing for ourselves. If we understand that taking care of ourselves is not only good modeling for those we love, but that it also enables us to give our best back. It is, in a sense, our responsibility. We can accomplish this by noticing subtle shifts in our inner state and by cultivating the ability to say yes and no appropriately. Yes please, more of that. No thank you, not now, I can’t do that- for those of us who are unaccustomed- it feels weird and takes practice!

The concepts of giving and receiving, taking in and taking care are aspects of the Earth Element, which is alive in this harvest season between summer and fall. It is really a good time to practice taking in the abundance that is there for all of us, to relish the conscious act of receiving, to cultivate the art of giving from an overflowing self, and to take care of yourself lovingly.

Giving ourselves the gift of experience is a great way to take care of ourselves on a deeply nurturing level. More than possessions or consumables, moving experiences can help us grow, change, learn, and blossom into all that we want to be. They can shake up our life and let those things that don’t serve us filter out, while leaving the things that are truly important and most helpful. Consider putting off that remodel or new gadget and go on a trip or take a class or workshop. We become more through what we do, our life reflects our choices, our capacities grow as we allow new experiences to move us.

Think about joining me in Oaxaca- either in October or next January, for a truly life changing and transformative experience. You will be so happy you did. And if it is a challenge- well, that can be a gift too.

Thanks for reading this! Stay in touch and let me know your thoughts.