Returning to Silence

Today’s post is a brief one – really just sort of an FYI.

I’m hopping in a car this morning and heading up through 3 hours of 3rd world roads, jungles, rice terraces, and who knows what else, to get back up to the mountains.

Actually, to get back in to deep, deep quiet stillness. Continue reading “Returning to Silence”

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Risking Introversion

Ubud, Bali

A big part of my personality is introverted.

People are often surprised when I tell them that, and I hear… “What, you? Introverted? Ha!” All the time. I’m not antisocial, or misanthropic, or maladjusted. I only have social anxiety when my human-interaction energy stores are depleted (which has happened all to often, in the last 7 years of running a one-on-one service business… hence my retreating to Bali now).

Here’s the definitions that resonate with me: it’s about where your energy comes from – Continue reading “Risking Introversion”

So it turns out…

Video magic thanks to Symone-Elisa Guerra. Also, inspiration thanks to Symone, and our roommate-Spoken-Word-Youtube-earbuds-Slam-Jam at the Onion Collective, Ubud… I’d been wondering about my place in the world a lot, and writing poetry a lot, and feeling a lot, and she played a piece from Andrea Gibson for me, and this poem just came out.  Continue reading “So it turns out…”

Falling in Love – An Affirmation

Many nights, I have trouble sleeping in Bali.

One night I thought high tourists season came early and all the decent accommodation had been snatched up from under my nose… I’d be left without any place to call home for the next several months.

The night before, I was sure that I’d contracted Japanese encephalitis, or dengue fever, or whatever horrible fatal disease the mosquitoes are carrying this year.

Some nights, my mind spins with excitement about what possibilities may lie ahead in life, working itself into a frenzy as it tries to figure out how to best manage each and every one of them.

Most other nights, I just itch all over, with the worry that little bugs are biting me each moment. (but no, no place I’ve stayed at has bed bugs)

Nights have become challenging for me.

In my struggles with emotional eating and compulsive work, afternoons have generally been my trigger times, but on this journey, I’ve developed a lot of empathy for the midnight snackers and wee hours binge drinkers. The nights can indeed be “dark and full of terrors”.

What are those dark terrors?

For me, they all come back to the same core: The unknown.

It’s so weird. I gave up everything normal in my life, to thrust myself into the unknown. I knew I needed it’s aliveness, its immediacy, its push to grow. I embraced it as a close friend, to take this leap.

But just because I wanted it, doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Just because it’s exciting doesn’t mean it’s comfortable.
As my body struggles to maintain immunity and energy with new climate, new food, and now, lack of sleep… the unknown behind it all feels more like an enemy.

I believe my next level of blossoming is available, through becoming comfortable with not knowing.

And so I work.

My potential relies on me falling in love with the unknown.

And love is not always easy.

I work to be with myself through the sleepless nights… through the compulsive search for the next place to call home, through the swatting away of bugs who may or may not exist.

I work to embrace it all.

I work to let go and stop working.

I let go, and sing to let my brain work for me.

About six months ago, I started playing with setting affirmations to song. My coach had encouraged me to work with affirmations, to support me through the beginnings of this major internal and external life shift. I tried, but I just couldn’t get down with spoken affirmations. They always feel corny as hell, and set my inner alarm bells going off. Once I started singing them to myself, though, they really opened up for me. I found that the “catchy” power of music, really helps the affirmation get deeper into my internal “automatic playlist”. I’ve noticed a lot of internal shift since I’ve started singing affirmations.

You know how sometimes you’ll stop being aware of your thoughts for a bit, and then check back in like,
“Oh, hey, mind! What have you been up to?”

During that time, mostly my mind would reply,

Oh, nothing, you know… just worrying about everything that’s about to go horribly wrong and jumping off this anxiety cliff

I knew there was something to this business of singing affirmations, when one day, I checked in –

“Oh, hey, mind! What have you been up to?”

And it replied,

“Just singing this little tune I picked up” – one of my affirmations. My subconscious had been playing it on repeat without my direction. Score. That’s brain re-wiring in action.

I can’t keep all the goodies for myself, so I’ve decided to start sharing them. This recording is about 5 minutes, and if you need some help embracing the unknown, I encourage you to sing along- the point is to get it stuck in your head.

Note: The recording is left imperfect on purpose – to help us all escape the mental traps of perfectionism!

Happy singing and happy living!


(Photo credit: Pedro Martin)

We’re Up All Night to Get Holy

A village outside Ubud, Bali

I have no idea what’s happening. It’s about 3:00am, and it’s just starting to drizzle. The haunting tones of the gamelan and hypnotizing reverberation of the gong have been going steadily since 10pm, and I’m not even sure what planet I’m on anymore. My local friend and I have eaten all the mangosteens he bought for us, and the glass of tea he brought to help ease my lingering cough sits empty, waiting to be returned to the vendor stall just outside the temple, whenever we break our attention away enough to get up, or pass it back to someone behind us in the crowd. I can’t tell my blood sugar apart from my humming brain, and there are words being said, but I don’t know what they mean. Continue reading “We’re Up All Night to Get Holy”

Should You Drink the Kool-Aid?

I had a lot of fear.

Fear of letting go of well-conditioned ways.
Fear of opening up to a new path..
What if I dived in so deep, I couldn’t find my way back to the things I cherish now?

What if, immersing in a new language, I lost my ability to speak my mother tongue?

What if I went so far off the deep end, no one could relate to me anymore?
Then I’d be all alone forever.

I mean, on a very practical level, I’ve crafted much of my identity around being a “smart hippie”. Sure, I love to explore all sorts of outlandish and wild practices and ideas, but I think
Others like me because I stay grounded.
Because I like science.
Because I can wear the skeptical hat like a champ, when it serves me.

How would they love me, if all I can talk about when I get back is galactic signatures, and rainbow bodies?

I had my aura photographed the other day.
(and yeah, I’m afraid to tell you that…
Afraid you’ll think I’ve gone off the deep end.)

But turns out according to that system, I have a yellow aura right now,
and work in the realms of information.
I’m told I’m well suited for gathering knowledge from an array of sources,
And compiling it in a way that others can use.

I like that.
It gives me permission to explore widely
And a thread to come back from extremes.

I want to walk the wild roads
I want to see how deep the rabbit holes go
And sure, I’m scared.
Scared that something will change me so much I won’t be able to go back to who I was before.
But then, I have to realize that no matter what I do,
I can never go back to being the person I was yesterday.

I want to trust that a road back to balance is always present.

But I’m no dummy.
I know sometimes a road back isn’t present.
We’ve all met people who have taken one too many trips
We see stories on the news of group suicides following charismatic leaders
We’ve battled to converse with people who simply can’t bring themselves down from the clouds
Enough to speak any of our human languages.

A brother of mine said something that crystalized a kind of safety for me,
In circle today.

He spoke of the “power of choice”.

And, while I won’t right now open the “free-will” can of worms,
I suddenly saw that choice is a precious power to hold on to.

I said yes, I dived in.
In this case, choosing to immerse myself, for several uninterrupted days In the rich world of the Mayan Calendar.
Mind humming with neurons being re-wired
Face buzzing with laughter,
And the surprised eyes of “A-ha!” after “A-ha!”

And when I re-emerged, I found…

People around me are stoked I did it.
The little bits I’ve learned to share are resonating
Fires are being lit, and they want to know more..
I’m endlessly being asked for readings,
And they want to know more
And they want to know more..
To connect more.

This time, I’m the farthest thing from isolated.
My fears were just fears.

The power to discern what’s safe
Made it okay to drink from that well new understanding.

And so I reflect on how we can all have that freedom of discernment.

Ultimately, I remember the wise teachings I received 15 years ago,
Delivered to a group of college students about to engage
In deep exploration of meditation and the mind.
They’ve shifted into my own words over the years,
But they’re alive for me more than ever:

If you’re surrounded by a group of people insisting you cut off contact with your other communities,
You might be better off not to drink their Kool-Aid

If you’re being told joy and fulfillment aren’t possible while you’re on the Earthly plane,
You may not want to drink the Kool-Aid

If drinking requires you to commit the rest of your life to any single path,
You may not want to drink the Kool-Aid

If something in the core of what matters to you would be compromised by drinking,
You probably shouldn’t drink the Kool-Aid.

If anything deep in your gut says “no”,
You might not drink the Kool-Aid

However, if it won’t harm you
Or harm others
In Body, Mind or Spirit

Except for maybe fiercely challenging old beliefs…

If you retain the freedom to choose in every moment,
Or will at least regain the conscious freedom within a short time.

If you keep the support of those you love with you,
Even if they’re half the world away.

If you’re offered new information,
And it’s totally up to you what you do with it.

If you’re offered love,
And you’re encouraged to define and enforce your comfort and boundaries in every moment

If you’re offered something new,
Even when it threatens to rattle lose the old wires, just a bit.

Maybe it’s worth drinking.

It’s probably not Kool-Aid, anyway.

It’s probably Cacao.
And that’s all the rage these days.

(photo credit: Brent Gilliard)

The Eagle and the Condor

“Tell me again what Ken Wilbur had to say about ascending vs descending?”
I asked The Lucid Sage over international iMessage,
Late on another sleepless night in Bali.

Duality had been wracking my brain…
Pressing me to make a choice:
Do I go up, or down?
Do I find divinity inside, or all around? Continue reading “The Eagle and the Condor”

A Song for my Mother

I remember, mama
The magic time. The freedom places
The life of love and play
That you made for us.

I never forgot, but this place makes it
The thing that matters again.
You’d love it here.

I remember, mama
Laying on the floor. Closed eyes.
Just seeing where the music takes us.
They do that here.
And make livings from “sound healing”
And I’m learning to do it too
You’d love it here.

I remember, mama
Summers under the tree.
Painting pictures, playing games.
They do that here
Learning to make jewelry or colors or tigers carved from watermelons
Just because they can.
You’d love it here.

I remember, mama
“It’s all part of the adventure”
Your code for life,
Before my perfectionistic conditioning told me
I had to be smart enough to

I remember, mama
Before work made you stop hugging
Because it wasn’t professional
Before I learned to pull back too.

I remember, mama
Before layers of fear made life seem so hard
Before the stacking
The stuffing
The training
The judging
The rights and wrongs
And rights and wrongs
And rights and wrongs

You just loved, no matter what
They do that here
I remember you
And you’d love it.

I remember, mama
Laughter so hard you needed your inhaler
And incense and candles and dancing in circles
They do that here,
And long hugs and deep cares and eye contact too
You’d love it here

I remember, mama
The healing with hands, passed down through our family line
The songs and stories
Remade into the songs of your heart
They do that here,
Gathering in circles
Raising voices into the night
Reminding us we’re better than we think.
I remember you
You’d love it here.
Maybe I’ll get to bring you here someday
So we can remember together
And dance and play and laugh
Exactly as we are
Tasting again that sweetness that can’t hide for long.

Even now, you’re with me, mama.
As we do what we do here, bringing back what got buried.
We peel off the layers
We burn off the fear
We learn again, what you taught:
To trust.

We sing to restore the world of the heart
We dance to rebirth creativity, love, wonder
We gather to reclaim the magic of life

We’ll build you your world again.

I remember.

And you’ll love it here.

Banana Leaf and Ricefields

I crack open one precious mangosteen,
A bite of food to ground me from the night’s ceremonies.
The red skin stains my hand as I attempt to peel myself away from the tribe.

The rain has stopped, my ride home will be quiet.
This part is all downhill – I don’t even need to peddle
As I coast past palm trees and rice paddies,
The sounds of water running off plants
Mix with the frogs and the crickets
And my sighing tires on fresh wet roads.

The sky is empty with the new black moon
The single spot of my headlamp guiding the way ahead.

Mind wanders to the requests just made of me –
Social media posts, youTube videos
Going full power with the spoken words that seem to stir my brothers’ hearts.
But it wasn’t until I offered my iPhone to the Gods
That I was able to

The gentle pull of the open road reminds me
I don’t have to figure it out now.

As a shot of adrenaline kicks in with the barking of wild dogs
And “please don’t chase me”
Becomes my only thought.

Safe again.

I turn a corner onto the central highway.
And for the first moment in my weeks here,
Its quiet.

I can imagine this place 10 years ago
Before the throngs of tourists
Like me
Drawn to this place to meet themselves,
Tickled by endless entertainments
And attunements
Along the way

I press open the squeaky gate
To the family compound where I live now.
I’ve never seen it closed before,
Must be my latest night out yet.

As I return my bike to my favorite hitching tree
I notice the banana leaf and rice still sitting beside,
Leftover from the morning’s offering

Someone had cared enough
To ask the Gods that I travel safely

Tomorrow, I must share more mangosteens.

(Photo credit: Thomas Hubauer)

An Accidental Offering

Gunnung Kawi water temple is beautiful. One of several Holy-water springs around Bali, it has gorgeous pavilions amidst mesmerizing ponds of the biggest koi I’ve ever seen. It has crystal green waters that ripple with gentle peace below lush jungle foliage. It has a bathing pool where one moves through the five ever-flowing water spouts, becoming more and more ritually purified with each downpour.

I loved it there. Cooling, centering, listening without and within. I got a picture of myself praying in the ritual bath… I’d share it with you, but the Gods decided my phone and I should become forever separated at the temple, and I’m now without camera. Continue reading “An Accidental Offering”