The Hardest Thing To Do

Devoting to a meditation practice reaps the highest rewards I’ve ever experienced. Sitting on a cushion, walking in the woods, gazing at the ocean ~ a practice comes in many forms, but time alone, emptying hamster-wheel aggravations, worries, conflicts…anything redundant and mindless…this quieting is luxuriously restorative.

Understanding that our outer world perfectly reflects our inner state is what we need to bring us back into the present moment and connect with stillness. Knowing all we have to do is let go and allow what will be, to be…without judgment or control is the hardest thing and the easiest thing to do. 

When I don’t meditate, I’m anxious, reactive, uncentered, and less trusting that everything will be just fine. I struggle, feel depleted, am problem-focused, and less empathetic. Miss Crankypants.

When I do sit in stillness, even for ten minutes, this is what happens:

* My natural rhythms of eating, sleeping, and being productive emerge and I feel energized.

* Making healthy choices (nutritionally, physically, and emotionally) becomes effortless.

* I see the world as resilient, miraculous, and peaceful.

* Incredibly talented, bright, and successful friends, creatives, innovators, optimists, and solution-creators enter my sphere. 

* I am increasingly recognized financially for my contribution and value I help create.

I don’t know who said this, but it’s so true: If you can’t find five minutes to meditate, then you need an hour.

How can I help you…begin to still your mind, shift you from struggle into ease?

The Defense & Annihilation Of Paula Deen

I believe Paula Deen is scared to death. Not from diabetes. She’s scared to death of her SELF. That public self she launched into a multi-million dollar brand, that grew from passion into the beast that’s overtaken her other self: the private, real-life one.

Faced with a choice – to come clean, take responsibility for her health, to own the role her public self had in creating the disease she now suffers from like, unfortunately, so many Americans – faced with this choice is facing the annihilation of her ego.

And by ego I refer not just to the prideful one, but also the Freudian one, the one that drives us, the one that’s referred to compassionately in Buddhism as Monkey Mind. THAT self is threatened with complete destruction, the self she pieced together over the course of a lifetime, born of family expectations and societal validation and the trappings of money and fame and the kind of insecurity we vainly attempt to balm with status symbols and false paths and idols.

The self that when threatened clings oh, so desperately to the very illusion that’s crumbling beneath. Holding on to the identity she and we, yes – we, perpetuated by watching her show and buying her products – the TV personality, celebrity chef, virtual friend to millions of viewers…Lord knows when we’re threatened we hold on FOR DEAR LIFE.

To look herself in the mirror, indeed, to engage with that small, inner voice, the one that speaks late at night in forlorn moments when we feel alone, confused, helpless against the onslaught of life’s injustices, the one who says, “I KNOW what I really am,” is to risk losing everything, to begin the process of watching her entire construct crash to the ground.

That risk seems too great for her. It seems too great for many of us when we’re in the grip of denial, so instead she’s sandbagging against the flood, trying like hell to hold on.

We feel betrayed, duped! We are indignant and outraged! And rightly so, for with power comes responsibility and although we dole out our reprimands unevenly, we want accountability from our heros, dammit.

After our outrage – at her choices and their implications to those who look to her for guidance and leadership (because as superficial as celebrity is, we still revere our basketball players, movie stars, and top chefs as great leaders to be emulated) – after our outrage subsides, let’s take a moment and contemplate the denial we ourselves have participated in – when our marriage failed and we weren’t ready to admit it yet, when a loved one passed away too soon, when we were fired from a job because we couldn’t recognize it was time to move on, or…just like Paula, when illness struck and we turned a blind eye to our own culpability.

No one is free from the reach of denial…and denial is just a way to duck the sting of regret…

When we had a chance to say I love you but stewed in resentment instead. When we could’ve maintained an exercise program, but gave it up because it was too inconvenient. When we chose french fries over salad, for the third time this week.

Have your feelings about Paula Deen. Be mad. Feel disappointed.

And let it go.

Then allow compassion to rise up and replace blame. Forgive her and ourselves for not doing the best we could. For sometimes choosing to hold on to the illusion because letting go of who we think we are scares the bejesus out of us.

Who would we be without the illusion? Without the identity we cling so tightly to?

But that’s the very thing we should do. Forgive and let go, because it’s never too late to start over and discover who we really are. Not at any age or any stage.

Remember, the harder the attack, the stronger the grip. So, let go and let healing begin. Not just for her, but for all the ways we halt our life force from flowing. Forgive ourselves for what we did to cause harm to ourselves and others and…

Let love heal us.

The End, er, I mean… The Beginning Is Near

Can you feel it? It’s happening – to me and seems to everyone I’m talking with lately. We’re clearing away cobwebby concepts, habits, defenses, abuses, misappropriations, faulty thinking, and old programming. Darwinian philosophy is dead, Cartesian duality isn’t serving us anymore, waste management is a misnomer, and the levees holding Top Down patriarchy from washing away are on the verge of collapse.

     I know, I know you probably scream and cry
     That your little world won’t let you go
     But who in your measly little world
     Are you trying to prove that
    You’re made out of gold and, eh, can’t be sold

     So, are you experienced?
     Have you ever been experienced?
     Well, I have

     Let me prove you…

     Trumpets and violins I can hear in distance
     I think they’re calling our names
     Maybe now you can’t hear them, but you will
     If you just take hold of my hand – Jimi Hendrix

Maybe you’re still pretending you can’t hear the distant music, but that’s because it’s being drowned out by puppets and agents of fear – both those in your head that keep the illusion on just the other side of smouldering rage, and those who are stoking that furnace, all while tweeting their exit strategies to 98,000 followers.

Chances are though, fiery anxiety aside, you can feel an emerging future; you and visionaries from Nostradamus to the ancient Mayans, from Charles Reich* to Hendrix to that sandwich board-wearing nutso down in the subway station for the last twenty years, babbling about the coming rapture. From furtive whispers to in-your-face proclamations – it’d be foolish to deny anymore that we are living, truly, through the apocalypse.

The apocalypse – how we quiver at that word. From the Greek, meaning “the lifting of the veil,” it points to revelation during a time of falsehood and misconception, not some Mad Max catastrophe. If we plot humankind’s presence along the timeline of the earth, it’s said we don’t show up until a few seconds before midnight, New Year’s Eve. Zoom in, like a microscope, and just sit and think about the past 100 or so years, a veritable blip. That’s an infinitesimally short time to wreak so much havoc and try to evolve accordingly. Yes, we’ve invented cars, airplanes, telephones, microwave ovens, laptops, remote-controlled you-name-its, as well as eradicated smallpox, raised millions out of poverty, extended lifespan, and figured out that a net can prevent malaria. But, we’ve also witnessed and participated in genocides of people, species and cultures that will never, ever be experienced again. We’ve committed acts of violence to ourselves and each other that you’d think, if I were to frame them as the workings of an alien society, unconscionably atrocious.

We’ve altered the fricking CLIMATE, fercryin’outloud.

When was the last time you saw an earthworm or an eagle? We’re so disconnected from our planet that we need devices to tell us when it’s time to eat, what the air feels like outside, and how to wake up in the morning. We think a “week” is a real measure of time.

We’re so disconnected from ourselves that it’s not until cancer kicks us in our collective ass do we start to think, oh! Maybe there’s something wrong here. And the biggest killer of children, of CHILDREN I say, is that we are starving them to death through obesity, first by our own example and then by supporting the greed-based sources of the so-called ‘food’ we pretend to decry.

Further, we’re so disconnected from each other we barely make eye contact over our smartphones, we deadbolt our families behind gates (& call it a community), and it’s all we can do to piece together broken relationships with complaints / meaningless sex / gossip as our baseline. We’re terrified of answering real questions with honesty and humility.

But there’s good news! Really, really good news, although you won’t read about it in the newspapers or hear it on the radio, because those are part of the institutions that are either crumbling or transitioning. Creative destruction is allowing for magnificent innovation, technological transformation, and radical redesign. The evidence can be seen EVERYWHERE. While the old is getting earthquake’d and tsunami’d, more are being catapulted into a new paradigm. So surrender your erroneous defenses and create the life that’s been calling you – the world needs what only you can provide. The universe is conspiring to bring us unparalleled creativity, beauty, ease, and prosperity. And it wants you in on it. So put on your party pants and grab a partner!

     Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. ~ Steve Jobs

  • Aging – Screw dying when I’m 80. I’m going to live at least another 80 years.
  • Retirement – Bullocks! Why would I want to work like a dog for a paycheck just so that I could knit or play golf when I’m “old?”
  • Cash / Money – It’s the end of fiat currency, the end of worshipping false idols. Imagine getting what you want without the treasury middleman.
  • Jobs – I don’t want one. Do you? Jobs are going the way of the Yugo. And that’s a GOOD thing.
  • Banks – Let them fail. Yes, it’ll hurt. But no more than if we don’t.
  • Stock Market – Really? You’re still in it? How about locavesting…self-investing…community investing…
  • Disease – Heal instantly. Never be sick again. Eliminate this idea of illness as inevitable.
  • Peak Oil / Dwindling Energy Supplies – Mere corporate propaganda. No such thing. Praise the sun and the wind and the deep blue sea.
  • Time Travel – Yup. Done it. And so have you.
  • God / Universe / The Great Pumpkin – Nietzsche said “Dead!” Walt Whitman said “Leaves of Grass.” I side with the humanist.

This is what I’ll be writing about in forthcoming posts. Which is to say that all I learned and thusly railed against all my life were falsehoods and misconceptions: that which didn’t ring true, but were the foundations upon which the masses built their beliefs. So look forward. Let’s start questioning EVERYTHING we think we know is real. Let me push into what you think is not possible, and allow a seed to be planted. Come explore with me – what is something you absolutely believe to be true? Now hand me that sledgehammer.

************************************

I don’t know why we always cry
This we must leave and get undone
We must engage and rearrange
And turn this planet back to one
So tell me why we got to die
And kill each other one by one
We’ve got to hug and rub-a-dub
We’ve got to dance and be in love
(But what I really wanna know is)
Are you gonna go my way? ~ Lenny Kravitz

*There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual and with culture, and it will change the political structure only as its final act. It will not require violence to succeed, and it cannot be successfully resisted by violence This is the revolution of the new generation. ~ Charles Reich, The Greening Of America, 1970.

The Most Powerful Person I Know

Hello Beautiful! Yes, YOU.

I’d like to have a word with you. A few, in fact.

I see you struggling over there. I hear you. I feel you. I love you. I love you so much I’m going to share a secret with you:

You have all the time in the world.

I know. There’s not enough hours in the day to get it all done. Your biological clock is ticking, and you haven’t even met your partner yet. Maybe you have found him, but the kids are climbing all over you and you can’t get anything accomplished. Or your kids are grown and you feel like you’re wasting time if you’re not pushing, striving, getting that new project off the ground. Or perhaps there are so many people counting on you to take care of things. You run a business with huge responsibilities and obligations and have a mortgage and that new roof to replace. You’re running late for work, to get to the bank before it closes, and around in circles because the pressures of daily life are mounting. Or you’re winding down in life and there are still a few things on that bucket list that you haven’t crossed off yet and you wonder if you’ll ever get to them.

What I have to say is this:

You have ALL the time in the world.

Now, I can tell you, but you may not believe me. But whether you believe in God, or Goddess, the Universe, Spirit, Mother Nature, Yahweh, the Big Bang, or even Gaia, Qi, Krishna, Gitche Manitou, Allah, or the absence of deities altogether, it doesn’t matter. You can believe in yourself, and I know that because I’ve seen you in action. You are one supremely powerful being.

So say it. Say it like you mean it.

“I have all the time in the world.”

Say it out loud.

Say it when you feel rushed or overwhelmed.

Say it as prayer.

“I have ALL the time in the world.”

Say it even if you don’t believe it. Indeed, that’s the best time – you are changing your mind, your mindset. Begin when it feels inauthentic. Maybe it works its magic quickly, but if not having enough time feels a longstanding challenge, it may take a greater commitment to shift your beliefs about time and its abundance. That’s OK, because…

“I have all the time in the world.”

Write it down. Put it where you’ll see it often. In fact, post it in a few places to increase its visibility. Sticky-note your home: the bathroom mirror, the fridge, inside your date book. Surprise yourself: slip one under the visor of your car, tape it to your coffeepot, put one in your wallet. Get creative: make a coaster for your keys, monogram your tote bag, screenprint a poster.

“I Have All The Time In The World.”

Catch yourself in the mirror, wink, and say it back to yourself. Pretend you’re an actor practicing your lines. Play with it. Meditate on it.

Imagine what it would be like if it were really to be true.


“I HAVE
ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD.”

Slowly, change will happen…it’s inevitable.

Trust me on this one. I once was in over my head, feeling the tidal wave of time slipping away. Life was too short, too much, I would never get to it all. I felt behind, under pressure, that I *should* be somewhere else than where I was, trying to cram it all in.

But I’m right here, now, and you can trust me.

You have all the time in the world.

Because YOU

are the most powerful person

I know.



The Most Radical Thing I Ever Did: A 21-Day Cleanse

I’ve taught English in Mao’s hometown, walked 800 km – solo – across a large European country, fallen in mad love, packed up all my toys and moved to snow country to write a book without knowing a soul.  But ask me to give up ice cream?  Baguettes?  Morning cuppa joe?  Bacon?  Juice glass of vino?  No freakin’ way!

So I approached it gradually.

I bought Kris Carr‘s book, Crazy Sexy Diet, in January.  I cleaned out the fridge in February.  I bought an Omega Juicer in March – the Jag of juicers!  Small steps.  It’s like weaning myself off the bottle, only it’s not just the milk I’m relinquishing.  It’s practically everything I put in my mouth.  I was shooting for Lent (tried giving up sweets then, but I wasn’t quite ready.  The sight of my first brownie signalled failure.)  But spring time is about renewal, rebirth, rebooting our systems, yes?  So, on March 30th, I launched full throttle into a master cleanse: no wheat, no dairy, no animals, no coffee, no alcohol, and my Achille’s heel – no sugar.  No sugar! How in the wholly Himalayas was I gonna do that?  Was I to feel like Sisyphus?  Atlas?  Or an orange jumpsuit-wearing prisoner relegated to a bowl of gruel?

I couldn’t have done it without Ms. Carr’s book.  She led me gently through each day with a prayer, an affirmation, medical guidance, upbeat encouragement and expectations of what toxins feel like as they’re expelled.  Thank goodness for her hand-holding and thank the snow gods for the meditative months that led up to this undertaking.  I spent the winter shedding and I was ready for the final heave ho!

green-morning-glory-juice-440.jpg
With all those restrictions, what did I eat and drink?  Water with cayenne & lemon upon rising.  Green & herbal teas throughout the day.  Oatmeal with soy milk, seeds and flaxmeal for breakfast (my usual, anyway).  2-3 glasses of green juice daily.  (Kale, romaine, fennel, carrots, beets, grapefruit, parsley, celery – whatever was on hand).  Lunch was usually a version of Mark Bittman’s celery & fennel salad, sometimes adding in turnips, beets, carrots, daikon, orange segments, pine nuts – anything I could slice on my Muji Mandoline.  Dinner was some version of a grain/bean/veg combination:  steamed or lightly sauteed broccoli, chard, mustard greens, collards – brown rice or quinoa –  white beans, green or red lentils, chickpeas.  I’d also snack on almonds, dried plums & cranberries, sesame crackers, apple slices with nut butter.  I consulted a couple of macrobiotic  and Japanese cookbooks on the shelf for more ideas, to keep it interesting.  Having lived in Japan, I find much of their cuisine keeps with this particular dietary lifestyle.  I miss eating there – no other country has satiated me more at the table.

kale chickpea salad
I wondered if I would feel deprived, but Kris presents this cleanse in such a positive light that it truly felt like I was gaining health and well-being.  The coffee was easy – I’m really more of a tea drinker – and the caffeine withdrawal headache only lasted a week or so, and was fairly mild.  I kept super-hydrated and slept really well – better on both counts than usual.  Maybe removing the caffeine/sugar roller-coaster was all I needed for deep and rejuvenating slumber.  I awoke an hour earlier than normal, around 5:30, and experienced an unusually high amount of energy each day.  I treated myself with a few lavender baths, worked out more at the gym (weight-lifting & laps, only – no cardio machines for me: boring.)  I chose physical activities that were fun, not a chore, so daily walks and hikes were mood boosters.

Noticeably, my portions grew smaller as I was satisfied with less.  I realize that I eat emotionally, hungry for more than just caloric nutrients.  But somehow I was more tuned into my body and could put my fork down appropriately.  Buying, preparing, and cooking my meals was faster and easier.  Strangely, I found more hours in my day, as I was more mindful in every aspect of diet and digestion.  Wow – I realized how we always wish for more space in our day, more time to carry out our to-do lists, but I had energy to burn!  Granted, I’m not employed outside the home and I have no children to raise, but really – was all this uumph always available, yet hidden underneath crusty loaves and triple creme sheep’s milk?  I feel like I could run a marathon, a business, and a small country now.  And that’s just on Tuesday.

As I watched my scale groan less, I felt buoyant and effervescent.  I started having profound shifts in perspective.  But not before THAT ONE DAY.  Oh, yes: that one day the Dragon of Craving rose up inside of me, in an all-consuming fire (is this what heroin addicts go through, seriously?). WINE! I MUST have a drink! Give me spaghetti Bolognese! A burger! – a juicy, rare burger, with cheese and bacon and… it didn’t matter that I wasn’t hungry; I was suffering an irrational rage.

15I can’t describe the power of this monster inside, but I held on to my commitment and found relief: opting for popcorn in  sacrificial appeasement.  Then I got as far away from the kitchen as possible. I climbed in the car (leaving my wallet at home to avoid a sudden bakery raid), drove to the beach, walked over the boulders and along the shoreline, breathing in lungfuls, and called a friend.  I was the queen of crank that afternoon, but friendship, water, and the sea air calmed, soothing that savage craving.  May none of you ever meet that beast.

That was my only rough moment.

Well, except for the Morning of Traumatic Sobbing.

Interspersed with the cleanse were 3 days of green juice fasting.  I’d do six days on, one day fasting, repeating over 3 weeks.  And what happened the day after my first fast was incredible.  It was an emotional release like no other.

Simultaneously, I’ve been asking/praying for clarity.  I want revelation.  I want to see where I’m going, or at least have an inclination about what’s next.  My recent intention, to write in a wintry place, completed once March arrived and I started feeling anxious.  Stay?  Go?  Love?  Work?  Home?  Travel?  So much monkey mind I couldn’t see through the fog, so I began asking for what I wanted, an arrow, a sign, a clue.  All while eating carrots & celery sticks.

Clarity: paradoxically hard to describeWell, you know what they say? Ask and you shall receive.  Careful!  It came in spades.  Every day brought striking clarity, bold visions, answers to long-buried questions.  One in particular, during meditation, a word appeared, so I moved to the desk and began writing about it. Before I even finished a sentence, I was sobbing.  Hard and clean, not hysterical, but fully.  Now, I don’t cry; I hold on tight.  Last time I really cried was four years ago, and now tears were flushing out an unresolved memory from childhood that, it was dawning on me, I hadn’t grieved back then.  It has held me back and I don’t want anything holding me back.  Remarkably, there was no anger (at myself or anyone else), just release and mourning.  And a big pile of tissues afterwards.

Compassion washed in, and I settled.  Putting pen on paper, I wrote twenty, yes – 20 – pages and excavated decades old detritus.  Phew.  When we let go, we really let go.  Goodbye past, hello bright future!

Those 21 days witnessed the passing of so much:  defenses that no longer serve me, fears that aren’t scary anymore, eating and drinking patterns that are harmful.  What I’ve learned is enormous.  I now know that bread is as numbing as wine.  That my sugar addiction has inflamed my shoulder for more than 25 years, and if I eliminate it as best I can, it no longer hurts.  THIS alone is a miracle, and it’s ridiculous it took me this long to find out.  Chronic pain clouds our sunshine, and pain’s absence liberates.  My skin and dairy don’t make a good partnership – in fact, I was mistaken for a twentysomething the other day (I’m 43) and countless people have remarked on my glowing and youthful skin.  That’s worth the price of admission, alone.

I supplemented my regimen with drybrushing, taking vitamins & aloe juice, lots of positive thinking, journaling, meditating, putting my Netflix habit on hold, getting a massage, getting an enema (more on that later), using essential oils, reading up on raw food & veganism, and exercising a bunch more than usual.  Swimming laps and sweating it out in the sauna were divine.

What I didn’t experience were hardcore toxins getting expelled (bad smells, pimples, aches, etc…) and I think that’s due to a generally healthy diet from the start. I don’t eat much meat, fast food, or processed boxes & bags that sell in the center aisles anyway.  I do like my Ciao Bella gelato and Newman-O’s, however…

This may sound silly, but the most dramatic thing I learned is that we are what we eat.  Yes, I’ve always known that.  But when we medicate ourselves with not just alcohol or even caffeine, but with pasta, butter, toast, cheese … we suffer for it.  Eating animals that have not lived or surrendered their lives in compassionate hands means we’re digesting violence, fear, unmindfulness.  Sugar is a replacement for a lack of sweetness, perhaps.  I don’t mean to be preachy or change anyone’s mind.  Live and let live.  I just want to share the extraordinary sensitivity that I’ve developed both physically and emotionally.

Do I miss the old flavors?  My taste buds have actually changed.  Drinking a glass of white wine is like sipping sugar-water.  Eating bread feels like I’m stuffing.  That drawer full of cheese?  I can feel it weighing me down already.  I had no idea that what once brought me pleasure actually was a buffer to living and what I want now is to live like I mean it.

Have I since incorporated some of those taboo ingredients?  Sure, but I’m keenly aware of their effect on body and mind, and make those choices consciously.  Food tastes better.  Almonds are delicious!  That farro and grilled spring veg plate at Eataly?  Delectable!  A small piece of high quality 78% chocolate?  Hits the spot!

Radical?  Yes.  And I’m so proud of myself for accomplishing it.  I didn’t know I had it in me.  Will it last?  I’ll let you know…and in the meantime, I would love to hear if you’ve ever done one or thought about it, if you have any questions or want to share with me your experience.  It was a journey of eye-opening magnitude for me!

Victory Edition 1919 War Gardening and Home Storage of Vegetables

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