What Have We Learned?

Well, the light is emerging and but it is still the deep dark of winter.  Now that the spark of the holiday season has died down, it is a good time to deeply reflect.  This ongoing experience of COVID gives us a lot to reflect on.

What can you take out of this experience? How can you use it to further your goals for this coming year? What have you gained?  What have your learned?

I feel that I have learned so much from the experience of living with a COVID pandemic.  Like so many of life’s most important lessons, I am ready for it to be over! I am ready to move on! But oh well. 

It does help to sit with the learning and realize the benefits.  And it helps to imagine a world where we all actually learn, grow, and change from reflecting on our experiences.  The world needs us to.

The COVID pandemic taught me that we are all connected.  I learned this in a very visceral way.  It is clear that what I do will affect others and that the conditions that others face will impact me. 

We have to take care of each other, take care of our planet, and take care of ourselves.  We are not alone.

COVID taught me that people have widely different ideas. I have to be compassionate and understanding, even though I might disagree.  People that I know and love have a different perspective on disease, vaccines, prevention, public health and many topics. 

I have my firm beliefs: that vaccines are needed for us to overcome this pandemic, that masks are important, and that we should all take steps for public safety for the good of all.  But I know that not everyone shares these beliefs. I want to continue to love, accept, and appreciate people despite our differences. 

Judging, shaming, and arguing won’t change anyone’s behavior.  And there is no way to have all the answers or to be completely sure of anything.  So I just accept that my beliefs are really my opinions.

Relationships matter.  Compassionate acceptance is the only way forward for me. I want to maintain my own inner peace in the face of polarizing beliefs.  I accept that there is much that I don’t know.

We have been reminded by COVID that things can change in a minute, so we have to focus on our most important priorities- the people we love, the things we are passionate about, the difference we want to make- and just not waste time on anything else.

COVID helped me clarify what really matters and what I really need.  There is so much that is just fluff.  Fluff is nice, mind you, but not worth worrying about. 

What matters is kindness, a sense of connection, a purpose, a way to give, mutual caring, a deep appreciation for all that we have, things to do that feel good and bring joy, inner peace. For me, it seems pretty simple, really. 

Because of the COVID pandemic, I am more deeply aware that I might lose the things that are most precious to me.  Indeed, I will, at some point.  Everything is transitory.  So, the best thing to do is not to cling, but to appreciate, and to never take for granted some pleasure, to really relish all that is good.

The pandemic has helped me love the life I have and live the life I love. I don’t need a lot to feel good, but I do need to deeply appreciate all the small wonders that make life special.  It has helped me to want to be kind to strangers and to engage more authentically with people.  It has taught me to take care of myself so as not to burden others.  It has motivated me to work for justice and equality, to learn more about what other people face, to share their burden and to see that we are all in this together.

What have you gotten out of the experience of this last year?  I would love to hear your takeaway.  Join my FB group JourneyForPurpose, where we will be talking about it.

In this new year, take some time for yourself to reflect on what matters most to you.  I hope you can incorporate the lessons of the past into the changes you want to see. I wish you a new year full of blessings.

Hopefully this will be the year where you deepen into a selfcare routine that gives you what you truly need. I hope you can welcome in any needed energetic shifts, so that you can incorporate new learnings and release old patterns.

As always, come to see me if you want an energetic tune up, either in person or on zoom.  And stay in touch for opportunities to join online and in person retreats and journeys!

Transformational Journey to Oaxaca

Transformation, I use that word a lot to describe my offerings.  It refers to a thorough or dramatic change. 

I use it to describe the change that occurs when we change or way of thinking and behaving so that our life circumstances change.  We start to have to have the energy, vitality, vision, and commitment to be all that we can be. It is so important because our world won’t survive if we keep on with business as usual. 

Transformation is about overcoming obstacles that are holding us back.  It is about turning challenges into opportunities and cultivating the qualities that we need so that we can move forward.  Transformation is about adding the spark, the juice, the awareness that can turn our experience into something meaningful and helpful so that we become empowered to be our full self, no holds barred.

Transformation helps us change fear into excitement, discouragement into determination, and helplessness into action so that we feel the joy of living a life aligned with purpose and meaning.

Identifying the obstacles is the first step.  We don’t need to know where they came from, just that we are dealing with them.  The biggest challenges are usually the voices inside our head. 

There is that one that tells us we can’t, or that we shouldn’t, or that it is too hard, or that we don’t have what it takes, or that we don’t deserve it.  Boot that Bitch!

Whatever story you are listening to, you don’t have to believe it.  Remember that these voices came about to protect you, to keep you safe from disappointment and hurt, to keep you from failing by preventing you from trying. 

You need to acknowledge this voice, thank it for the good intention, and tell it that enough is enough.  And decide not to listen to these stories. 

You want instead to listen to your cheerleader, the voice of encouragement, the one who says “yes you can,” “you got this,”  “you will figure this out,”  “You can do this,”  “You deserve to be happy,”  “it is so worth it to take care of yourself and put yourself first!” 

Changing the story that you are listening to is the biggest part of the transformational process. 

It is helpful to identify the times when you did do it, when you managed something really hard, when you overcame the odds and found success.  Think about those times and celebrate them.  Your ability to face a challenge and persevere in the face of hardship can reveal things about yourself that you should remember.  We really are enormously resourceful and are capable of far more than we realize, if we just get out of our own way.

What can help us?  There are so many tools, so many ways to shift our inner state so that we can focus on the things that will move us forward rather than the things that hold us back.  With practice and commitment this gets easier and easier. 

These tools include a mediation practice, tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique, the use of essential oils (especially on acupuncture points), acupressure, energy medicine, artistic expression, gratitude journals, cultivating mindfulness, diet and exercise, etc, Use the tools that work for you. Practice! Commit! Take care of yourself, body and soul!

We have less times of doubt, less times when the voices are so insistent, when worries flare and we don’t know what to do. We waste less time being irritated, frustrated, blaming others, or being discouraged or confused.  We have more time for joy, more energy to make a difference!  We are more effective and happier!

We can create key experiences which can become touchstones inside ourselves which can help us in the low moments.  Transformational journeys can help us leap forward into changes that can become permanent.  A facilitated journey with a supportive community can jumpstart us on the path to joyful living.

I am leading a trip to Oaxaca in late October just in time for Day of the Dead.  It is going to offer lots of support for transformation. 

We will use the journey itself as an acknowledgement of what we are capable of.  That we can do things for ourselves that are deep, meaningful, and powerful.  That we can make things happen and say yes to our inner calling for more.

The incredible beauty of the natural world will be a catalyst to remind us of what is possible for us.  We deserve to experience everything the world offers, to see it all and to enjoy the sensual pleasures of life.  The mountains, rivers, waterfalls, jungle, and ocean.  The warm sun, gentle breezes, the smell of flowers, the incredible cuisine, the craftsmanship of the artisans, the color and vibrancy of the culture and the festival.

Oaxaca offers us support for transformation because it is a place that acknowledges the power of the unseen world. 

Working with Elizabeth, a traditional medicine woman, is a real gift and her abilities will move you forward on your path.  She will help connect you to your intuition and your own inner wisdom as well as to the support of ancestors and the spirit world.  You will find support for living your soul’s purpose.

Giving yourself this time and this experience. The time for transformation is now.  Your life is waiting to unfold.  You deserve this!

Smudging, beseeching heaven!

Acupuncture is vibrational medicine and directly affects our energetic state.  I have gotten up after a treatment and thought to myself, wow, I remember that I was bothered by such and such but now I can’t remember why it was bothering me.  I had gained an energetic perspective where I no longer felt any need to complain.

An associated modality is moxibustion or the burning of moxa or mugwort, either on the skin, on the needle or just near enough to the body to impart heat and smoke.  There are a lot of benefits to this practice and you can purchase moxa sticks that you can burn and use to warm the body and certain points to affect digestion and stomach pain, menstrual cycles, fetal position, and the ability to relax and to feel nurtured.

Another related practice to alter your vibration or your energetic, emotional, or spiritual state is smudging.

Smudging uses the smoke and the vibrational essence of the plant to create a kind of liminal state, to augment the power of intention, and to access unseen powers. The rising smoke can be seen as a way to beseech heaven or to tap into unknown forces.

As thoughts and intentions influence reality, they are empowered by emotions.  Smudging is one way to tend to them, to move and release constrained feelings, and to uplift emotions.  

Smudging can be used as a ritual tool to cleanse yourself or your space of negativity.  This can include past trauma, negative patterns, or difficult energies from others.

You can establish a positive environment for meditation or any ritual practice by purifying your space first with smudging.  Choosing to let go of negative thoughts and influences sets your intention and clarifies your dedication to self-improvement. Smudging can be the ritual beginning to a change of mindset that can be transformative.

Sage is one of the common herbs used to smudge, but you can use practically any dried herb and each one has various benefits that it brings.  Experiment with culinary herbs that you know are safe.

Sage has a constituent, thujone, that is mildly psychoactive.  Plants that contain this are used in cultural spiritual rituals to enhance intuition or connect to the spiritual realm. 

Sage is antimicrobial and antibacterial and is thought to clear out spiritual impurities as well as microbes and pathogens. 

It is thought to release negative ions which neutralize the positive ions which are so damaging and inflammatory. 

One research study shows that white sage (Salvia apiana) is rich in compounds that activate certain receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for elevating mood levels, reducing stress, and even alleviating pain.

In addition to dissipating negative energy, improving mood, and strengthening intuition, smudging with sage might improve your memory and focus. 

Also, sage appears to help with fatigue.  Certainly, cleansing the environment and body of negative energy and opening the way for fresh, positive, uplifting vibrations is restorative in and of itself.  Sage smells wonderful and is a great air freshener and odor controller.

To smudge:

•Light the end of a sage bundle with a match and blow it out if it flames up.

•The tips of the leaves should smolder slowly, releasing a thick smoke.  Direct the smoke toward your body with one hand, while holding the bundle with the other hand.  You can use a fan or feathers to direct the smoke.

•Wash your face and head with the smoke, and let it wash over you and down your back.  Pay attention to your arm pits as the lymph needs to move and to be cleansed.

•Allow the ash to collect in a fireproof container, preferably something ceramic or a shell.

•Put out the smoke by tamping the bundle into sand or earth.

Smudging with sage has many benefits as a spiritual practice and may have certain health benefits as well.  There is very little research on smudging beyond the cultural practice of the ritual.  It is a sacred ritual in many traditions so please treat the ritual with respect.  At the same time, you can make it your own practice.  Enjoy!



Deep Politeness

My Sufi friend told me that she is musing on the concept of deep politeness.  Her word rolled over me like a warm wave of sweet syrup.  My heart said yes, there is an answer here, listen, listen, listen.

I was out of sorts in so many ways, feeling hurt, betrayed, abandoned, and sad.  What did I know of deep politeness or anything really except feeling hurt, betrayed, abandoned, and sad. 

Oh yes and angry.  Angry at the perpetrators of my distress.  Angry at the circumstances of my discomfort.  The anger did not feel polite.  The hurt did not seem to call for kindness in response.  The sadness made graciousness impossible.

But her words, ‘a deep politeness’, that spoke to a way of acting, not a feeling.  It gave me a structure, something I could assume like a ceremonial robe, worn when feelings threaten to overwhelm or on any occasion of state or of being human.  If I put it on, it I assumed the mantle of deep politeness, I would know how to be, how to act, and the feelings would fall into line and transform themselves into something my heart could handle.

I could find compassion and forgiveness, understanding and a certain ease. I could act with a deep politeness and the world would get what it most needs and I would have fulfilled my high calling no matter what my feelings.

Deep politeness is like a habit, a refrain, a song that is always sung in these moments and the very singing helps to change the topic, so that the blues are beautiful and the suffering shared, and the we don’t have to go and kill the guy who left us, just sing about him. 

Deep politeness is something to reach for and it will always be there, because it is steady.  It is what people need, what you would need if it were you, what I would need, just someone to be deeply polite and express their understanding of this very human condition where there is so much that hurts.  Where there is so much that feels wrong. So much that we share and understand.

And deep politeness has boundaries and clarity.  It does not say, “ok, whatever”.  It says this is what matters most and this is what we will focus on, no matter what we are feeling.

It is the note you sound inside when you ask for what you want or comment on an injustice or perceived error.  It is the stance you take when you communicate a hard thing so that you soften out of blame and into compassion but you can hold to your position with strength because you are on a high road.

What can you do when you are standing there and all around you is a raging fire of things gone wrong and you have nothing, nothing at all you can use to fix it but a can of gasoline.  What do you do? You put the gasoline down.

There have been fires burning all around, in the news, in the neighborhood, in the world, and in my heart too.  And then I put the gasoline down and put on the robe of deep politeness and found that I did want to be kind, because in the end, it is what we want.  I did want to understand, because it is so much sweeter on the heart. 

And I did want to just be sad, not because I was hurt, not because I was angry, but just because we lose things and because we loved them, we are sad.  We can be sad in a deeply polite way, with no blame or shame, just our heart feeling the human experience, ready to share itself authentically, feeling the flame come under control, warming us but not burning.

Deep politeness, I think our world could use it!

Balance in all levels, in a time of crisis

These notes came from a lecture by Yvonne Farrel.

We need to balance all levels of qi, so that we use all of our resources and use them appropriately; so that everything moves, and nothing is stuck; so that things flow through us and we act, then release, and surrender to what is; so that we eliminate resistance and consolidate our intention towards the highest good. 

The wei level is the outermost level of Qi that protects us from external threats.  This is active all day, keeping us safe, and then replenishes at night with rest.  We need it to be healthy so that we can take appropriate measures to survive.  In these times, though,  it can be overactive.

We can calm the wei level with breathing practices where the exhale is longer than the inhale; by reducing sensory and informational input- turn down the lights and volume and stop watching the news so much; by grounding with our bare feet on the earth or by soaking them in epsom salts; and by developing body awareness through scanning for tension, practicing yoga, or doing any practice that can move tension held in the sinews. 

The ying level is deeper than the wei and is associated with emotional process and with social interaction.  Our emotions are challenged during this crisis and our social interactions are disrupted so we need extra support at the ying level.

We can support the ying by breathing deeply and exhaling with noise, like a groan, yell or sigh.  We can remember that feelings come and go and are not who we are but something that we experience.  Shaking, dancing, moving and anything that helps circulate blood helps support the ying, which is the blood level.  Creative expression is a great way to support the emotional process. 

The yuen qi is the deepest level and is related to our beliefs and sense of self. We can access this level with quiet and calm and it is there that we can be reassured that there is a part of us that is never broken by trauma or any experience.  The yuen gives us the perspective we need to negotiate difficult times with calm and confidence and to connect to our intuition and inner guidance.  It brings us into contact with our source.

To balance the yuen level, breathe with deep belly breathing and exhale until there is no breath left.  The practice of stillness brings us into to the yuen- meditation, sitting in nature, embracing beauty, etc.   Strengthening the observer aspect enhances the yuen, so that we can experience life from the place that is never broken. 

We can access the yuen level through the eight extra meridians, “where the seed of destiny is planted.”  This is where we exist in the most whole way; this deep, calm place of peace, beyond trauma.  This is where we can regain sovereignty and have choice, where we can let go of beliefs that don’t serve us and recover the most unlimited version of ourselves. 

We are going to do a guided Chong Mai treatment as the key to the yuen level, so that we can embrace the belief that whatever comes up, we can deal with it.  To do this, we will use an essential oil on 3 acupuncture points. 

Choose one oil, either sage, fennel, myrrh, or frankincense and I will guide you through the treatment on the zoom call on Thursday.   Or reach out for a link to the replay.

The Ancient Ones, a Medicine of Hopefulness

Who are the ancient ones?  How can they help? 

I read an article by a scientist recently.  He talked about how miracles had occurred in certain sacred places on the earth when ancient ceremonies were performed there, restoring some long lost connection to some unseen power.  Despite his cynicism and his linear upbringing, he heard the murmurs of the ancient ones.   He called for us to renew our acquaintance with those who live disembodied but present in all things, he asked for us to be still enough to feel the spirit of the earth and to listen to what she needs.

Have you felt the presence of the ancient ones when you sowed your seeds in the soil nourished with your love?  Have you seen something out of the edges of your eyes, when you wandered through the forest on a misty morning, something that reminded you that you are not alone?  Have you heard the invitation given by the rising sun and echoed in the still waters of the morning sea, asking that you make this day “the day”, the day when the subtle voices are honored.

There are those who can see spirit in the smoke of the fire.  There are those who can call the wild animals to cross their path and affirm their choice.   There are those who can hear a message in a dream and know that it comes straight from the wisdom of the ancient ones and it is a message to heed.  There are those who know the old practices from a different time, and know the value of the sacred places and the sacred objects.  There are those who would see the world lifted up with the help of powerful forces who are ever present but unseen.

The giveaway, the sacrifice, the fire ceremony, the animal totem, the altar, the ritual cleansing, the fasting and feasting, the long night of dance and song, these words themselves evoke something within us.  Spirit longs to be present.  The indigenous knew that there was no life without spirit.  Spirit flows through the world and is the life force of the planet.  And spirit is honored by the practices that acknowledge all that is.  

Most of us are given but a brief moment here and there when we can feel deeply into the unknown. Mostly we travel on what we think is solid ground.  We are veiled and limited. 

But the tender heart knows there is more.  And in those moments when we light a candle and send a prayer rising up with the smoke, in those moments when we plunge our body into the cold water of dawn to join with the waters of the world and wash ourselves clean; in those moments, then we too can feel the presence of the ancient ones, the ones who care and who know how to help, and who know what matters.

The earth yearns for us to be a bridge to heaven and for us to stand supported on her broad shoulders, calling down the compassionate love that heals and connects.  The earth longs for us to be as family and not as conquerors. 

The ancient ones, pouring down their tears like gentle rain, nurture that longing and that yearning and ache with us and for us, as we walk on, blind, but holding the possibility of everything.

This medicine that I practice, this medicine that seems to work despite my doubts; it is resonant medicine, a medicine of vibration that works on Qi, energy, spirit.  It is strengthened by my good intentions and by the enormous love I feel for my patient. 

And I practice in the old way, in the indigenous way that was handed down to me.  It is like a ceremony, a ceremony of healing. I follow carefully in the footsteps of the ancient ones who first practiced.

Can we practice a medicine now for the planet that she may heal?  This earth needs our intention and our enormous love and she needs the wisdom of the indigenous way.  Because our way, our linear way of taking and using and owning, our way is killing her and killing us.

And so I pray, and offer up my little life for the greater good.  I practice my medicine and pray that the vibration ripples out and is amplified and joins with all the good that exists.  I pray that this force for good is magnified by the ancient ones to make an unstoppable power, that we may change and we may evolve and that our blessed sacred mother earth may heal.

May we walk together, blind and veiled or with sight and awareness, holding the possibility of everything and listening to what the earth needs.

Belize 2019, Women’s Kayak Adventure

Going back to Belize had been on my mind for years- over 25 years actually.  Some of the best times of my life were spent exploring the gorgeous waters and tiny islands off the coast of this small, English speaking country in Central America. 

I went there as a young traveler and bought a small sailboat with a fishing well with my sister when I was in my early twenties.  We had some adventures (OMG!!!) and we lived to talk about them, thanks to the gods that look out for first time sailors. 10 years later, in the 80s, with a lot more experience and expertise, I sailed back there on a big ketch and ran charters there, picking my way around the reef strewn waters, and visiting the off shore coral atolls and some of the world’s most beautiful sailing grounds.

It wasn’t until my partner Spring agreed that we should do a women’s kayak trip somewhere warm and tropical and made plans to go to Belize to reconnoiter that the thought of going back moved from fantasy to possibility.  Thank you Spring!

Plenty of people seemed to love the idea as our trip filled up in a hot minute as soon as we posted the barebones outline of what we hoped to do.

What followed was an incredible mixture of wonderful women, beautiful water, wild deviation from our original plans, lots of learning, and some outright miracles.  Journey For Purpose’s Women’s Kayak Trip to Belize was a big success by any measure.  

Spring and I are both so grateful that it is possible to make something amazing out of nothing but an idea and a longing.   The women who joined us had an empowering experience- it was deeply bonding, incredibly gorgeous, very enriching, and ultimately transformative.  Our souls sensed the possibility of freedom and our spirits soared in response.

We paddled and camped on a true gem of a tropical island- all the things that you can imagine- coconut palms swaying in the breeze, pelicans dropping into the azure water, white sand so warm on bare feet.  We set up a tent village, enjoyed hammocks, picnic tables, incredible snorkeling, and a beautiful beach perfect for yoga, beach art, and sunbathing. 

Our cook, our guide, and the island caretakers did everything in their power to make us comfortable and we had the most amazing time.  We shared stories, we sang songs, we played games, we went off alone, we snorkeled, we read, we sat around a fire, we bonded and deepened and lightened our load until we were all laughing and playing like children. 

Early on, one woman got the news that her father in law had died, and although he had been very ill, it was unexpected and she felt terrible being away from her family.  I told her that whatever she decided to do we would support her and I wondered if we could put on a memorial for him that evening to bring us all together to share her grief and to hold her in understanding and compassion. 

We had a most beautiful ceremony with smoke from a small fire rising to heaven while the orange sun set into the water beyond a lovely altar created with shells, stones, and beach beauty.  We sang, shared readings and stories, and toned while the sun sunk down into the night and everyone was uplifted.  She was able to enjoy being with us to complete the voyage and we all were so impressed by what women can do together.  Everyone showed up with something to offer and the result was so moving. Tears flowed as all grief and ancient losses were touched and offered up for healing.

Leaving the island for the mainland, we relished our hot showers and a chance to see a bit more of Belize.  Touring the chocolate farm and factory and the baboon sanctuary were wonderful choices for us as a group.  Our last evening together was a rich sharing.  Being in a different country with so much to see and learn is always deeply stimulating.  Enjoying a place so rich in beauty and color, fabulous people, and incredible natural history is a delight. 

But what will stay with me the most is the experience of being with a group of women who are interested in being their most authentic selves and of exploring what life offers at the limit of their comfort zone, trying something new, signing up for an adventure, and sharing themselves as they open up to new things and the empowerment that brings. 

I love to watch new possibilities emerge as we support each other in shedding what doesn’t serve us and open up to who we really are and all we have to offer. 

Hurray for Journey for Purpose- Adventure/Empowerment/Community!!!

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!